A place for us knitters to go to to share our trials and tribulations with each pattern as we experience our choice of luscious yarns and many brilliant designers. I recently found one of those designers, Jennifer Wood, with her newly released book “Refined Knits”. I picked up a copy of the book after seeing her posts on Ravelry and found so many patterns in the book that I’m sure to spend my summer with the imprint of needles/hooks in my hands. I am totally in love. I can’t wait to try knitting the pattern called Anwen, which is a rectangular shawl (pictured on the front page of the book) and will look beautiful in our Queensland Llama lace by Euro yarns. I have to decide what color to use – decisions, decisions. I’m leaning towards ecru, but I can imagine this pattern would look divine in any of the beautiful colors.
What I like most about Jennifer Wood is that she is creative. In this new book she focuses on interesting, structural technique in cable and graceful laces. Since I love to stretch and learn new things, her patterns spark my interest. With every new skill I learn in knitting, I try to pick at least three patterns in a row where I can practice the skill. I remember when I was learning the Kitchener stitch….and any of you out there that know how to Kitchener, you have my admiration. I not only wanted to learn how to do it, but I wanted to memorize the technique to be able to teach it to other knitters and friends in our store. For those that are wanting to learn how to Kitchener stitch, pull up a chair, put on some soothing music and dive into Michelle Hunter’s tutorial video, or come visit me – I’m always happy to help someone learn something new to increase their interest in the art. I figure, any new skill worth learning is worth learning well! My challenge for you today is to “stretch” your skills too!
P.S. Everyone should have a skein of the Queensland Llama Lace Melange or Natural in their yarn stash. I bet it won’t stay in the stash for very long – Enjoy it!
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!
By now, your knitting is probably languishing in a basket by the couch or stuffed in your knitting bag while you host barbecues or hang out at the lake. Thinking about wool when it’s 100 degrees outside is enough to make you break out in a heat rash.
But what if you want to knit? Are your hands (and your brain) are bored without something to occupy them?
Here are 5 things to knit in the summer:
No, you probably don’t need a hat now. But this is North Idaho. It will be cold enough for hats again in about two months or less. That’s eight weeks or 60 days. Hats are portable, great stash busters, and may be knit out of pretty much any fiber and weight imaginable. Most importantly, they don’t take up room on your lap. Here’s some hat patterns (Many are FREE!) to get you started.
2. Mittens/Gloves/Fingerless Mitts
Nope, you don’t need these either. Unless you work in an office where they keep the air conditioning set to the approximate temperature of a meat locker. In which case, a nice pair of fingerless mitts might just keep the circulation going in your hands enough for you to do your work. Also, these are small, portable, and won’t make you sweat while you’re working on them (unless you’re working on them outside when it’s 100 degrees. But that’s the sun making you sweat, not your knitting.) Here’s some fun Gloves and Mittens patterns to get you started.
Scarves are too long for me. I don’t have the patience and follow through necessary for scarves to be part of my knitting list anymore. Cowls, though, can be knit on straights or circulars. They’re quick and easy and useful once it’s cold again (see #1. It will get cold again, never fear.) You can make plain stockinette workaday ones, pretty lacey ones, or ones covered in cables. A cowl is a blank canvas of self expression! Knit a couple now and you’ll have choices to coordinate with your outfits when the time comes. Here’s some unique Cowl patterns to get your started.
Want to knit a sweater in the summer? Knit a baby sweater. Baby hats can be done in a couple hours. Booties? They’re tiny and cute and the definition of instant gratification for a knitting project. Soft toys for babies are also great. Put some beans in an old Easter egg and insert it into a knitted ball and you’ve got yourself a soft sided rattle for your favorite infant. Baby things are great summer knitting projects. They can be as simple or complex as you like, they’re small enough to complete quickly, and they won’t weigh you down when you’re taking your knitting on vacation. Here’s some cute Baby Knit and Crochet Patterns to get you started.
I love knitting socks. I nearly always have a pair of socks on the needles. It’s my go-to project when I don’t know what else to knit. The thin yarn and the small size make socks perfect for summer knitting. They won’t make your hands as sweaty as a thicker yarn can, and if you knit socks all summer, your feet will be happy come winter. Here’s some fun sock patterns to get you started.
Do you knit in the summer? What do you like to knit? Let us know in the comments!
Palouse Yarn Company is a fairly recent addition at Alpaca Direct. These yarns are squishably soft and come in rich jewel tone colors. My personal color palette is made up largely of jewel tones and dark, rich colors. The rich tonal colors fit perfectly in my stash.
One of the other things I love about Palouse Yarn Company is that they’re quite local. The other features we’ve done this month are small companies based in Canada and Uruguay. Palouse Yarns is based in Moscow, Idaho and headquartered at The Yarn Underground there. I enjoy being able to support local companies, and I always feel a sense of connection to them even if I’ve never met the owners in person.
Palouse Yarn Company is owned and run by Shelley Stone. She’s been a knitter practically her whole life (she says she was taught to knit as a child to keep her occupied during the long winters in Maine so she wouldn’t drive everyone crazy). More recently she took up dyeing as a side project that has now expanded to become Palouse Yarn Company, producing the wonderful yarns we get to play with and enjoy today.
All Palouse Yarns are hand dyed in small batches in Shelley’s backyard studio. She loves getting to recreate the colors that inspire her with her own fibery pursuits.
Merino Fine is a fingering weight single ply yarn. It is made from 100% Superwash Merino wool. It comes in four ounce hanks of 475 yards. This yarn makes beautiful lightweight accessories and baby items. It will beautifully display both open, lacey patterns and cables.
Merino Lace is a lace weight single ply yarn made from 100% Superwash Merino wool. It is an even finer version of Merino Fine. It comes in four ounce hanks of 825 yards. It is perfect for creating heirloom lace pieces as well as everyday scarves, shawls, and stoles.
Cashmere Squeeze is a sport weight yarn made of 75% Superwash Merino, 15% Cashmere, and 10% Silk. It comes in four ounce hanks of 400 yards. This lovely soft yarn makes beautiful lightweight garments and accessories. The softness combined with its superwash content make it a good choice for heirloom quality baby items that can also be used.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts featuring our independent dyers for our Independent’s Celebration. We’ll be featuring more of our independents throughout the year. We know how much love and care the creators of these yarns put into their work. We love to support them and hope you do, too!
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.
If you’ve come to the Tuesday night Open Knitting group lately, you know that I’ve been pregnant. My baby made his appearance in the world on January 30, 2015.
This means that any time someone in the knitting group decides to knit for a baby, they ask my opinion first.
As the (apparent) resident expert in what to knit for a new baby, I thought I’d offer up my biggest suggestion and top five picks for baby knits.
Take Washing Into Consideration
Do you want to make something out of a lovely, soft merino silk blend? Or some other luxury fiber for someone’s little tyke?
Ask yourself this: will Mom or Dad be willing to hand wash whatever you’re making?
I know that there are some yummy soft yarns out there and they seem perfect for something snuggly for a wee one. But, remember that new parents, especially first time parents, are frazzled and probably don’t want to worry about hand washing much of anything. If it can’t be tossed in the wash with everything else, one of two things will happen. It will never get worn or it will get destroyed in the first washing.
You have to remember that babies cover everything in goo eventually. Between explosive poop and spit up, nothing is safe. Even things you wouldn’t think are likely to get nasty, like hats and booties, aren’t safe. If you’ve never had a baby, or it’s been a long time, you may not realize or remember the amount of effluvia that a tiny baby can produce. Let me assure you, it is astounding.
Personally, I love dressing my babies in wool. I actually use wool diaper covers, so I do a certain amount of hand washing. However, I am a knitter and used to hand washing hand knits. That said, I still prefer superwash wool for sweaters, hats, blankets, booties, and things like that. I’m willing to lay things flat to dry more than I am to hand wash, especially larger items like blankets.
For even easier care, Berocco Vintage is a great choice. It’s an acrylic/wool blend and can go in the washer and the dryer.
While that cashmere or merino/silk blend is lovely and soft, I definitely recommend keeping it for a project for yourself. You’ll know how to take care of it and it’s far less likely to get spit up or pooped on.
What to Knit for Baby?
Now that we’ve discussed yarn choices, let’s talk a little about what kinds of things to knit. Here is a short list of my favorites to knit, give, and use.
1. Baby blanket
This one’s pretty obvious, and it might seem a little overdone. It’s important to take into consideration whether you think the parents are likely to appreciate a hand knit baby blanket. But, if they will, then you really can’t go wrong with a blanket. No matter where you are, a baby will need a blanket of some variety. Infants can’t regulate their body temperature very well, so it’s important to help them stay warm. New parents are often gifted blankets, but they are pretty useful, so it’s hard to have too many. Plus, you can unleash your creativity a bit with a blanket. It’s a large blank canvas, so you can play with different stitch patterns and color combinations.
If you’ve never made a sweater before, a baby sweater is a great place to start. The construction is nearly the same, though with less shaping in general, and baby sweaters are really quick knits. Here are some of my favorite patterns:
I’m partial to cardigans, especially with newborns and little babies. They’re a lot easier to get on and off than pullovers. Sweaters are also great for putting on a baby or child in a car seat. They’re thin and warm and won’t interfere with the functioning of the car seat. (Bulky coats and snowsuits aren’t suitable for use in car seats. They compress in a crash and can the baby can be ejected from the car seat because of the extra space created by the compressed coat.)
This one is a less obvious choice than some of the others. But, let me tell you, a little baby in knitted pants is undeniably adorable. When made of regular wool, these can be lanolized and used as a diaper cover (which is what I do). But, they’re great even just as pants. They, like anything else, can be made from superwash wool, cotton, acrylic, or a blend. The pattern I use the most is Braided Longies, but there are lots of cute ones available. A couple others I’ve knitted are (cargo pants pattern from Knitty) and (that other one in my queue).
4. Hats and Booties
No matter what time of year a baby is born, hats and booties are useful. If you live in the northern part of the country, it gets cool in the evenings even in the summer, so lightweight knitted hats and booties help then. In the southern part of the country, everything is heavily air conditioned to approximate meat locker temperatures in the summer, so hats and booties are good for babies in that climate, too. The sheer number of hat and booties patterns is rather overwhelming. Hats are a pretty easy pick, though. Find a pattern you like, or a basic recipe and play with your own stitch patterns.
Hopefully this gives you some good ideas to knit for the babies in your life. And remember, babies don’t have to be dressed in pastels. Choose colors you know the parents will like. The baby doesn’t have an opinion yet.
We have created a visual step by step guide to help you learn about the basics of crochet. Whether you’re new to stitching and would like to learn how to crochet or if you’re a knitter looking to diversify your skills today we’ll teach you how to get started crocheting!
Make A Slip Knot
Before we begin we’ll need to start with a slip knot. Hold a loop of yarn in your right hand, with the yarns crossed. Pick up the strand that is still attached to the ball. This is underneath the cut end of the yarn and is called the tail. Pinch the strand of yarn that’s still attached to your ball of yarn and pull through the loop on your right hand, holding the ends in your left hand. Place this loop on your crochet hook, you’ve created a slip knot! Pull the ends of the yarn to tighten the knot on your crochet hook. Now we’re ready to crochet.
Step 1: Bring the yarn over your crochet hook, making sure that the yarn is coming from behind the hook and towards you over the hook.
Step 2: Pull this loop through the stitch on your hook. You’ve chained one stitch!
Continue to chain stitch until you have enough stitches for your pattern, or you’re happy with the width of your crochet piece.
Single Crochet: First Row
Step 1: Skip the first stitch down from your hook, and insert your crochet hook into the second stitch from the hook, inserting through the center of the stitch.
Step 2: Bring the yarn over the hook, making sure that the yarn is coming from behind the hook and towards you.
Step 3: Pull this loop through your chain stitch, you’ll now have two stitches on your crochet hook.
Step 4: Bring the yarn over the crochet hook again, then pull the loop through both stitches on your hook.
Step 5: You’ll be left with one stitch on your hook, you’ve just completed your first single crochet stitch! Insert your hook into the next stitch, and repeat from Step 2 until you’ve worked a row of single crochet into all of your chain stitches.
Single Crochet: Next Row
This is what your piece should look like after completing your first single crochet row.
Step 1: Turn your work, and chain 1 stitch by bringing the yarn over the hook, then pulling it through the stitch on your hook. This will give height to the edge of your work so that you’ll have straight edges and clean corners.
Step 2: Insert your hook into the first stitch of the first single crochet row, going through the center so that you’ll have two strands over your hook. Single crochet as before, going back to Steps 2-5 of the Single Crochet First Row. All consecutive rows are started like the this, and the single crochet is the same throughout. It’s important to remember that on the first row you skip the first chain stitch, and then on consecutive rows you chain 1 stitch at the beginning of each row.
To finish cut your yarn, and pull the stitch on your hook up until the cut end of the yarn comes out the other end of your work. Don’t forget… when learning a new skill it will take some practice. Soon you’ll be crocheting like a pro! Have you tried crochet? We’d love to hear your thoughts on learning to crochet.
My daughter lives with a wonderful family in Boise who is expecting twin baby boys. I will be flying out next week to see her and wanted to knit something special for the twins. I dug through my stash and found one skein of blue and one skein in off white from Madelintosh. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Madelinetosh DK which is machine washable merino and is a dream to knit with. What could I make at lightening speed? I found the pattern called “Felipe” written by Joji Locatelli on Ravelry. It is a nice little vest type pattern that I could use and make hats and booties to match.
To finish in time for their arrival I made two sets of booties at a time on circulars, made twoFelipe sweater patterns at a time on circulars and completed the set by making two baby hats (complete with their names) at a time.
I started this project on Monday and will complete the hats and “Yes” the whole set for two by tonight. O.K… so now I’m almost done with my baby gift and get to resume my sock knitting after tonight.