Shorter days. Cooler nights. Nothing is as comforting as hand knit socks! Here in Northern Idaho we’re enjoying cool nights and warm days and as the leaves turn to red and gold, it’s time to knit socks! It’s Socktober!!!
Sock knitting is a varied as knitters. Toe up, Top down. DPN. Magic Loop. Fabulous lace patterns knit from fine merino, self patterning sock yarns for simple fun, chunky weight slipper socks that warm your toes and your heart. We all have a favorite technique or two, so our staff is sharing with you some of our favorite patterns, yarns and techniques.
I chose one of Michelle Hunter’s patterns, as she makes patterns that are fun and easy to follow. Kaika is the Japanese word for “bloom” and it uses a beautiful and easy to memorize Japanese inspired stitch pattern. I used this pattern to make a toasty pair of light weight leg warmers that will keep me nice and warm during the cold winter months here in North Idaho. I used a picot cast on and a picot bind off to dress up my leg warmers. This gorgeous yarn is Madelinetosh Twist Light in “Optic” .Now that I have finished this pattern, I will search for another sock pattern or leg warmer pattern as we have lot’s of new fingering yarns that I am eagerly waiting to try! Kelley
I just finished my first pair of socks in ten years. Until recently, the thought of working with fingering weight yarn would turn my stomach. Oh, I made a number of pairs with worsted weight yarn, but somehow, in my book, they didn’t seem to count. They were workhorses-not the sprightly ponies of spots and blotches of randomly strewn color, crafted out of the finest gossamer threads.
Anyway, soon after beginning my new internship with Kelley, Kjirstine, Jennifer, and Maria at Alpaca Direct, I was affected by a strange affliction….Zauberball Crazy! While stocking a shelf with marvelous, mind-bending orbs of color and texture, I was overcome by a desire to knit on size 1 needles! Even more fantastically, to simultaneously create a PAIR of socks (not one, but two at a time!) on 1 ridiculously long circular needle! In my library (books I absorb, without ever reading), was a copy of “2-at-a-time socks”, by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. While everyone at work had moved on to knitting a pair of socks, two at a time, from the TOES up, I was completely entranced, bewitched and beguiled! The easy to understand and painless to follow step by step directions caught my attention and inspired me beyond belief! Within two short weeks, after a family wedding and during a family reunion, the “Earth” color way of Zauberball Crazy became the “Twilight” socks of Morgan-Oakes.
I am hooked. One more thing to add to the never-ending and ever-expanding list of things I mustn’t live without! Susan
I love to knit socks! The first class I took, after I learned to knit, was a sock class. I love to knit them the old fashioned way, top down, on double pointed needles. It’s soothing to my soul. I love the portability of sock knitting (I have kids at home, we’re always on the go). There is one pattern I have knit several times and I think that may be linked to my addiction to fantastic hand painted sock yarns! The pattern is found in “One-Skein Wonders” and is called “Hand Paint Highlights”. It is a great, simple pattern that really brings out the beauty of a hand painted yarn. This pair is a yarn from a local independent dyer, but I’ve used it many times with many hand painted yarns. So jump in, buy the one gorgeous skein from a hand dyer and make some great, one of a kind socks!!
Maria’s favorite socks right now are the fabulous lace pair that Becky knitted, entered in the fair, won first place, and then gifted them to Maria! A gift of hand made socks says volumes about the giver, but a receiver who truly appreciates them, and knows the value of the time and love invested in them, is a treasure as well!
Summer is officially over, and we’re a week into Autumn. It’s been a busy summer here, with no signs of slowing down on the horizon.
The North Idaho Fair
was the last week of August, and we had quite a few of our knitters enter projects.
It’s always fun to go look at all the beautiful knitted, crocheted, and handspun projects in the fiber division. There are usually a couple spinners from the local spinning guild, the Log Cabin Spinners, demonstrating on their wheels and spindles as well. We love supporting the fair and spreading the love of fiber arts far and wide.
This year we had quite a few winners. Here are some of the winning entries.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Next month is
Knit a pair of socks or leg warmers and send us a picture! You can submit it on our Facebook page or just tag your photos on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) with #ADSocktober!
All entries will be voted on via social media and the winner will get a $25 gift card!
So get knitting! Entries are due by November 7, 2015. We’re looking forward to seeing all the wonderful socks and leg warmers!
I first discovered Malabrigo several years ago, before Alpaca Direct opened here. I was still pretty new to quality wools and luxury yarns at the time, having spent most of my knitting life getting cheap acrylic from big box stores. By this time there was one local yarn store (LYS) in the area, and a new one was opening. My mom (who is also a knitter) and I went to check it out. Now, as I’m sure you know, when visiting an LYS you must go around and pet all the yarns that strike your fancy.
We came upon a stack of what would turn out to be Malabrigo Lace. I instantly fell in love. I think it was the softest yarn I had ever touched up to then, and it’s still in the top five. The softness combined with the rich colors keep it in my list of favorite yarns.
My mom bought a hank and knitted me an Estonian lace scarf with it for Christmas. I still wear that scarf all these years later.
Malabrigo is a family owned company based in Uruguay. They started in a kitchen in 2005 with small batches of hand dyed yarns. They slowly grew and now distribute their yarns worldwide. They have added new yarn lines to their original Malabrigo Merino Worsted and Malabrigo Lace over the years, and long ago outgrew their first kitchen workshop.
They have maintained their commitment to producing one of a kind colorways and high quality hand dyed yarns. Their commitment extends to using local (to them) wool producers, and all of their yarns are made with wool from Uruguayan farms who allow their sheep to range freely and care for them in humane ways. For their yarns that use other fibers, they source their silk and alpaca from farms that show the same commitment to their animals and the environment as the Uruguayan sheep farms.
Their environmental commitment extends beyond their yarn sources to their manufacturing. Their superwash process now meets Oeko-Tex standards, which means the yarns are free from harmful agents like formaldehyde, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals. Since I often recommend Malabrigo yarns for baby things, knowing this makes them an even better choice in my opinion. They also use solar energy to heat the water used in their dyeing process.
Malabrigo Rios is a worsted weight superwash yarn. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 210 yards. It is a 4-ply yarn, making it great for sweaters, hats, scarves, and baby things.
Malabrigo Arroyo is a sport weight superwash yarn. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 335 yards. Like Rios, it is a 4-ply yarn, so it is great for lighter weight garments and accessories.
Malabrigo Chunky is a bulky weight yarn. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 104 yards. The bulky weight makes it great for quick knits and warm, thick sweaters, scarves, and hats.
Malabrigo Finito is a fingering weight yarn. It comes in 50 gram hanks of 200 yards, with five hanks per dye lot. It is a plied yarn suitable for fine gauge garments and accessories.
Malabrigo Lace is a lace weight yarn made from super soft baby Merino. It comes in 50 gram hanks of 470 yards. It is a single ply and makes beautiful lace scarves, stoles, and shawls.
Malabrigo Merino Worsted is a worsted weight yarn of super soft Merino. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 205 yards. It is a single, and is great for accessories that don’t see hard wear.
Malabrigo Rasta is a super bulky yarn. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 90 yards. It is a soft, slightly felted single ply, making it great for quick knits and accessories.
Malabrigo Silkpaca is a lace weight yarn spun from a 70/30 alpaca/silk blend. It comes in 50 gram hanks of 420 yards. It makes beautiful lace shawls, scarves, and stoles.
Malabrigo Silky Merino is a DK weight yarn spun from a 50/50 silk/baby Merino blend. It is a single ply that comes in 50 gram hanks of 150 yards. It is great for lightweight but warm accessories.
Malabrigo Sock is a fingering weight yarn made from 100% superwash Merino. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 440 yards. It is great for socks as well as other lightweight garments, accessories, and baby things.
Malabrigo Twist is an Aran weight yarn made from 100% Merino wool. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 150 yards. It is a plied yarn, making it great for sweaters, hats, and other accessories.
All Malabrigo yarns (except Silkpaca) feature the same super soft Merino wool for which Malabrigo is known. All yarns come in the full spectrum of colorways offered by Malabrigo. They are hand dyed in small batches of rich jewel tones and one of a kind colorways.
In addition to the lines of Malabrigo yarns, we also carry Malabrigo Nube, Malabrigo’s line of spinning fiber. Using the same super soft Merino as the yarns, these braids are hand dyed in the same colorways, too. Hand spinners will enjoy the rich colors as well as the soft Merino wool while creating their own unique yarns.
All Malabrigo yarns are on sale July 24 – July 30.
Since the shop got re-merchandised a few weeks ago, the SweetGeorgia Yarns display has been calling my name. The jewel tone colors always catch my eye first. And their hanks of sock yarn are big and squooshy, drawing me in and inviting petting.
So far none of them have jumped in my bag and come home with me. With two little kids at home, I don’t get a lot of knitting done and I have a sizable stash, including lots of sock yarn. But they look so pretty and feel so nice, I’m not sure my resistance will be able to last much longer. Especially since sock yarn doesn’t count as stash. (Remember? We talked about that earlier this year.)
SweetGeorgia Yarns is a Vancouver based company that Felicia Lo started in 2005. It began life as an Etsy shop with three hanks of yarn. Over the course of the next year, Felicia expanded SweetGeorgia Yarns, and began distributing in shops and online to knitters worldwide.
They produce a wide variety of hand dyed yarns and fibers in unique colorways and rich solids. Their yarns and fibers are dyed in batches of four to twelve hanks. They focus on using luxury fibers, including merino, cashmere, and silk, and creating colors that inspire and engage knitters and spinners.
Merino Silk Lace is a 50/50 blend of merino and silk. This is a is a slightly heavier lace weight 2 ply yarn. The silk adds a shimmer to the finished yarn that will make your lace projects extra special. If you’re wanting to knit a beautiful lace shawl or stole to dress up your wardrobe, this is the perfect yarn for the project. It comes in big 100 gram hanks of 765 yards.
Tough Love Sock is an 80/20 superwash merino nylon blend. This yarn is soft and squooshy. Knit at a tight gauge, it makes long lasting socks. But, like all sock yarns, you can use it for a wide variety of other projects. Soft enough for next to skin wear, you can use it for shawls and scarves, mittens and gloves, and even things for a baby. The superwash merino means it can be machine washed, which is ideal for socks and baby things. It comes in big 115 gram hanks of 425 yards, meaning you only need one hank for a pair of socks. If you have small feet or knit ankle socks you might even be able to get two pairs. Or you could knit a pair of socks and a pair of fingerless mitts. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
All SweetGeorgia Yarns are on sale July 17 – July 23.
Check back next week to see our next featured independent – Malabrigo!
This month we’re celebrating our independent yarn companies as part of our Independent’s Celebration in honor of Independence Day. We love getting to support independent companies and enjoy the beautiful yarns they produce!
If you haven’t seen their yarns in person, you need to. Their yarns are soft and beautiful with gorgeous colors. The care they take with their dying is evident in every skein. When I’m in the shop, I like to just go drool over the Zen Yarn Garden displays. It’s the perfect yarn for petting and drooling over. Don’t worry, though. I’m careful not to get any drool on the yarn.
Zen Yarn Garden is a small company based out of Ontario, Canada. It is owned and run by Neville and Roxanne Yeun. They dye hand picked luxury yarn bases that are spun in Canada.
Neville is the Lead Dyer, Production Manager, and Color Chemist. He’s the one to thank for the wonderful depth of color, consistency, and variety in the Zen Yarn Garden lines. He is in charge of the process that creates the beautiful tonal solids and the playful one-of-a-kind colorways.
Roxanne is the Creative Director. She directs the growth of the company and keeps her finger on the pulse of the trends in the marketplace. She is always on the lookout for new products and design collaborations to keep their customers happy and interested.
Serenity 20 is a fingering weight yarn made of 70% superwash merino and 30% cashmere. This luxury yarn is great for socks, scarves, lightweight sweaters, or any next-to-skin project. The beautiful colorways and rich tonal solids will provide hours of joy on the needles and off.
Serenity Glitter Sock is a fingering weight yarn made of 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% metallic nylon. It features the same depth of color as Serenity 20 in its own range of distinct colorways. The metallic nylon adds a hint of sparkle that beautifully complements the natural sheen of the yarn.
We’re nearing the end of the Sockalong, and we think it’s about time to host a giveaway here on the Alpaca Direct blog! This giveaway is open for everyone, whether or not you’re participating in the Sockalong.
Enter for your chance to win Sock Blockers! These are used for blocking your socks after you’ve finished knitting them to help even out the stitches, shape the socks, and make sure they are nice and clean before their first wearing.
To enter leave a comment on this post telling us about your sock knitting experiences. Haven’t knit socks yet? Tell us what’s holding you back! Want to know more about knitting socks, and have a question for us? Is there a sock related topic you think we should do a tutorial on?
We’ll choose one lucky winner on Sunday, August 31. Good luck!
Courtney has already finished her pair of socks! She loves the fact that they are sized to fit her feet precisely and is planning to make another pair that incorporates a pattern design.
Tina’s report for this week:
“Had a slight mishap in my dragonfly pattern…..darn those yarn overs. Ended up carefully taking out 5 stitches down 4 rows, figured out the mistake and laddered up each stitch correctly with a crochet hook. Success! Can’t even tell which stitches I was working with. Around and around I go toward the heel…..”
This is Melissa’s first pair of socks and she’s learning many new techniques.
“I completed one sock using 4 dpns and it was a royal pain. So…I bought 2 circular needles and some thicker yarn and started over working 2 socks on two circular needles . I got through the toes easily enough and now am working in the round, I am being careful to knit on/off the same needles, I am finding that as I go, one set of needles is facing the opposite direction on every other half…”
Any advice for her?
“This is my first attempt at a short row heel and I am pleased with how it came out. It was easy to do and fits nicely. I wasn’t sure how long to knit my cuff, but Tina suggested that it should be approximately as long as my foot. Sounds good to me! Anyone have a different “Rule of Cuff” that you use?”
We are having a lot of fun knitting these together and watching each other’s unique progress. Until next week!!