close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Extra! Extra!

Please help me welcome Extra to the Blue Sky Alpacas shelf at Close Knit! We had a few shades earlier this fall, but they flew under the radar. Not anymore. Look at those colors!

Extra is a nice thick worsted/aran weight merino and alpaca blend. The label suggests 4-5 stitches/inch on a US7-9, but is seems thicker than that to me for some reason. Maybe it's the super-cushiness of the knitted fabric.

There are several lovely patterns in the shop featuring Extra: Cane Bay Wrap, Tatra's Fingerless Mitts, Tokyo Tower Bandana, Fractal Cowl, and Sweet Sixteen Hat. The Cane Bay Wrap calls for two skeins, but the others are just one skein projects.
 
Sally and I responded quickly to the North Atlantic shade and the Extra Slouch Hat. We are on a mission to see if we can get two hats out of one skein. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Alpaca Dream

I think I've written before about my holiday knitting. I love making things for family and friends, but I also get a little selfish. I need to have a nice, mindless therapy project on the needles this time of year for my sanity. I want you to have one, too, so I'm offering up the Alpaca Dream.
Once you get started, it's just knitting in the round with some luxurious alpaca yarn. What better way to curb any potential holiday stress? You can pick this up and put it down without worry. Just keep knitting.

This project starts with a provisional cast on. Don't be afraid. Basically, you just cast on with some scrap yarn that will be removed later when you graft the ends together. Yes, I said graft. That's not scary, either, it just takes some time. It is also completely acceptable to cast on and off normally and just sew the ends together...you'll have a little ridge at the join. No big deal.
I made one of these for myself last year using some discontinued yarn, but Sally used Shibui Baby Alpaca to create the gorgeous sample we have in the shop. The shades are so rich and unusual...perfect for the big blocks of color.
Come on in and choose your three favorites...you deserve it.


Alpaca Dream Cowl
by Leah Bandstra
Yarn: 3 skeins Shibui Baby Alpaca (one of each shade)
Needles: US6 16" circular, a spare US 6 for grafting (a dpn works well)

Instructions:

CO 100 stitches provisionally.  
Join in the round, being careful not to twist, place marker.
 
Knit every round until you run out of the first color.
Knit every round until you run out of the second color.
Knit every round until you have about three yards of the third color remaining. Stop at the marker so you know where to start grafting together to avoid a twist.
 
Place the live stitches from the cast on onto the spare US6. I like to put 10ish stitches on the spare needle at a time for this part. Graft the ends together. Block a bit and wrap it around your neck!

Disclaimer: When I grafted mine (ahem, six months after I finished the knitting), it looked terrible. My grafting line was all wobbly, and the stitches were far from even. Try to work slowly and adjust your tension as you go, keeping the stitches as even as possible. I spritzed my join with some water after I grafted it, but you could also just wet block the whole thing. The alpaca is heavy enough that the weight of the knitted fabric will kind of pull and even out the tension over time, too. Don't be discouraged!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Lilly Brush

Save your sweaters!
Each of you needs one of these. I bought a Lilly Brush for myself last winter after trying many different sweater shavers and lint removers, and I love it! This little brush will depill a sweater more effectively than anything else I've used. Plus, you can use it to save your hand knits and machine knit sweaters. Tell your people to come in and grab one for you. It's the perfect size for your stocking.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bumblebirch!

We have fresh Bumblebirch! Sarah is a one-woman show here in Portland, and we love being able to offer you all some local products.
We have a nice batch of Forage, the squishy worsted weight, in some fabulous colors. I used this to make a hat for myself, and I loved working with it. The colors are gorgeous, and the yarn is so soft.
Sarah also brought us a few colors of Heartland, her veryvery popular sock yarn. It's so popular that we have to wait until next week to get more colors! I'll let you know when it arrives.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rasta and Zumie

I know we still have a few weeks until the gift-giving kicks in to full swing, but maybe you are already thinking about the big yarn and quick projects? I know these lovelies will be increasingly popular as the days tick by.
We have a shelf full of Malabrigo Rasta, one of the prettiest super chunky yarns there is. Malabrigo colors are really stunning...I am reminded why this yarn is so popular when I see the shelf full like this. One skein of this silky soft yarn will get you a significant cowl, scarf, hat...you get the idea. You'll have it done in one evening, too.
Sally has brought HiKoo Zumie into the shop this year, too. This is an acrylic/wool/nylon super chunky yarn in lots of beautiful colors. Perfect for the wool-sensitive folks on your gift list. As an added bonus, the pattern for this fun cowl is on the ball band.  Worked up on a 24" US13, this one will fly off the needles, too.
Come by and get your favorite colors while these super chunkies are so well-stocked!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Little Lo-Lo Goodies

Sally thought you all might like these fabulous, Northwest-made, eco-conscious LoLo Bar products from Bar Maids. Do you have to stuff your own stocking each year? Fill it with these.
I have gone through many of their amazing moisturizer bars, and I promise you will like them. These bars are solids discs of yummy smells, and they won't leave your skin all greasy. My hands are so dry in this crazy cold weather, and these bars make such a huge difference.
We also have their lip balm and cuticle sticks. I have not had a chance to try these yet, but I can only imagine how fabulous they will feel. In fact, my cuticles are in desperate need of some love right now...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

New Yarns: Ultra Alpaca Chunky and Shibui Maai

We love seeing new yarns roll into our little shop, and I think you all are really going to like these, too. 

First up we have Berroco Ultra Alpaca Chunky. Most of you know and love the Ultra Alpaca worsted and DK weights for their great yardage, amazing softness, and excellent price. You will be please to learn that the chunky fits right in...only $11.25 for 131 yards of 50/50 alpaca and merino. Yes, please.
I am test-knitting a hat for our dear Nancy using this lovely stuff, and it's turning out great! I'll let you know when it's done and in the shop. Look at the pretty colors...
 
We are also excited to have the newest Shibui yarn, Maai, an alpaca/wool blend with that cool chained construction.
These skeins are light as air, and the colors are rich and beautiful, as expected from Shibui.
We even have a free pattern to offer you with the purchase of the yarn. Sally is working up a sample right now to highlight the Maai. The large version takes four skeins, and the smaller takes three. I can't wait to see it knit up.
Photo borrowed from Shibui
Come welcome these yarns to the shop and pick your new favorite. Stay tuned for updates on several old favorites, too.  The shop is filling up fast with so much great yarn!