close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Exciting Events

Why not learn something new this spring and summer by taking a class or joining a knitalong at Close Knit? We've just released our late spring/summer 2010 schedule and the offerings are exciting. Come take a "just the basics" beginner class or let Adrienne guide you through a project at your own individualized pace. We have sock classes for knitters and crocheters.
And, we have lace for knitters and crocheters as well.
Knit the popular Tea Leaves Cardigan and learn seamless, top-down sweater technique.
Or, dive into a seamed sweater and let Judy guide you through the process.

Another exciting event here at Close Knit is the first Classic Elite knitalong, which will begin on Wednesday, 12 May. Participants will choose between two Classic Elite sweater patterns from the Spring 2010 pattern line (either Sideways Lace Vest or Smocked Pullover) and use a Classic Elite yarn. The KAL will meet on Wednesday evenings during open knit night to share process and progress. With a minimum of four participants, we will hold the KAL and those who complete the project by 31 July may put their names in a drawing to win an impressive CEY gift basket worth over two hundred dollars! Stop by the store to register for one of our classes. And, while you're here, check out the CEY spring patterns and yarns and let us know if you'd like to participate in the knitalong as well.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thinking of Spring

It looks like spring weather will be eluding us for at least another few days here in Portland, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t start working on spring sweaters.

The Scallop Lace Cardigan, a free pattern from the Classic Elite Web-Letter, would be perfect over a t-shirt or sundress as the weather warms up. It is knit with Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo, a DK 50/50 wool/bamboo blend, and we carry a variety of colors at the shop. The wool content helps garments retain their shape, while the bamboo provides lovely sheen and drape to the finished piece.

The Classic Elite pattern booklets are full of patterns that would work well in Wool Bam Boo, including these lovelies from New Harbor (Book 9098).

So, brave the clouds and rain and come by the shop. We'd be happy to show you our selection of Wool Bam Boo and Classic Elite patterns so you can plan your new spring sweater today!

All project photos are courtesy of Classic Elite Yarns and have been used with permission.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chenille Facecloths

Do you need a little extra something on hand for Mother’s Day gift giving? These sweet chenille facecloths are the perfect treat for anyone who deserves a little luxury in her daily routine.

Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille knits up into a soft, squishy fabric, ideal for washcloths and towels. The pattern for the Reverse-Bloom Flower Washcloth is in Melanie Falick’s Weekend Knitting and is also available online. Each facecloth requires just one skein, so you can mix and match colors as you like. Knitting Daily also has a nice pattern for a Seafoam Towel and coordinating washcloth.

For an added treat, package your gift with some special soap or a tin of Knitter’s Little Helper Hand Balm from Blue Sky Alpacas. Sadly, the hand balm has been discontinued, so be sure to pick up a few when you come to the shop for your next project. Mother’s Day is May 9, so get started on your gift knitting today!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Little Ruffle

Looking for an easy scarf pattern that knits up quickly? A scarf that isn't too bulky - an airy, feminine scarf that can be worn all year in our temperate climate? A scarf perfect for beginners or advanced knitters alike? Well, look no further.

Meet A Little Ruffle by Jennifer Lang, a free download from the Sadie and Oliver website.
Leah discovered this pattern and was the first to make the scarf here at Close Knit. She chose the earthy Plymouth Yarn Hillside Linen, a blend of 80% alpaca and 20% linen. When Sally wore the scarf during the Portland Yarn Crawl, so many of you were enthralled with it, we sold out of the yarn. Never fear, though - we are fully stocked again.
Next, Adrienne made the scarf out of Cascade Yarns Eco Alpaca. It feels a bit more wintry and is luxurious, soft and cozy.
Finally, I made the scarf in the prescribed yarn, DROPS Alpaca, since I was gift knitting for someone who was very specific about her color choice.
However, when I knit the scarf for myself, I plan to use Blue Sky Alpacas Sport, a lofty, luscious baby alpaca or Classic Elite Fresco, a wool/alpaca/angora blend.
If you too are captivated by the elegant simplicity of this scarf, download the free pattern and stop by the shop. We'd be happy to suggest yarns that would complement A Little Ruffle.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lovely Linen

With summer fast approaching, many of us are thinking about working with some of the lovely linen yarns that we carry at the shop. I love the rustic feel of linen yarns and we have some great pure linen, as well as some interesting blends.

Louet Euroflax Sport Weight feels a little rough on the skein, but the final results are perfect for floaty warm weather garments. This yarn should be machine washed and dried to bring out its true softness and drape. We have a few nice swatches at the shop to give you a feel for how it knits up.

We also have Louet's KidLin Lace Weight, a linen/mohair blend. The colors are vibrant and rich and we have this fabulous sample sweater on the way.

Classic Elite Firefly is a sport weight linen/viscose blend. I’m working on a simple bias stockinette scarf in this yarn and it has been a real pleasure to knit. I pressed out what I have knit so far with a steam iron and I love the result. I'll post a free pattern as soon as the scarf is finished.

Merletto from Louisa Harding has been getting a lot of attention lately. It is a DK weight linen/rayon blend with a sparkle streak running through the yarn. This would make a great top, shawl or summer scarf. We have some nice, muted earth tones available now.

Lana Grossa Linarte is a DK cotton/rayon/linen blend with great stitch definition and a lovely sheen. We have bright and subtle colors, but this red just asked to be photographed. We have a sample sweater in Linarte to give you a feel for how nicely it knits up.

If you prefer working with animal fiber blends, Classic Elite Soft Linen is a wool/alpaca/linen. There is a lot of pattern support for this yarn in the Classic Elite booklets and on their website. I love this shawl. We have a great range of colors in this yarn, too, including these pretty purples.

Finally, we just restocked our Plymouth Hillside Linen. Many of you have seen this wrapped around Sally’s shoulders over the last few months. I have some squirreled away for a sweater, and I can’t wait to get started on it.

Whether you’re looking to knit a linen top or wrap for summer or just want to try out some interesting new blends for your sweaters, scarves, and hats, we have a linen yarn for you. Come on by the shop and choose your favorite!

Thanks to Jenni for the yarn styling

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New from Noro

We received a shipment of Noro this week - all vibrant springy colorways and all cotton blends. We've got Chirimen, a DK cotton/silk/wool blend and Taiyo, an Aran-weight cotton/silk/wool/nylon blend. Either would look fantastic knitted up in entrelac.

My favorite of the new Noro, however, is Sekku, a gorgeous laceweight yarn in supersaturated colors - perfect for the Citron shawl. I love the yellow/golden/brown at the top left. Officially Colorway 1, I like to call it Tequila Sunrise, since it has a decidedly Seventies feel.
Noro, founded by Eisako Noro more than thirty years ago in Japan, uses a revolutionary process to produce its yarn. Tufts of colorful fibers are artfully arranged and spun together to create Noro's celebrated gradually changing colorways. Producing ecologically friendly yarns has always been important to Noro and this is an important consideration in the yarn's business and production practices.
If the colorways of Noro are a bit too dramatic for you, there are many possibilities for isolating the colors and creating a calmer, more subdued look. I recently used two alternating colorways of Silk Garden Sock for the Silk Kerchief from Kate Gagnon Osborn of Zeitgeist Yarns and am very pleased with the results.
Although this pattern is no longer available, you could try Andrea's Shawl by Kirsten Kapur. Or, any pattern or improvisation with two or three alternating rows would look wonderful. And, Noro softens up surprising well after blocking and washing, too.
Stop by the store to check out our large selection of Noro yarns and patterns and let us help you choose your next project. You can choose something subtle, something over-the-top or a create a true work of art.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


ChicKnits has been around since 2001, long before the knitblog explosion of the last few years. Recently, designer Bonne Marie Burns revamped her line of ChicKnits patterns and has made them available in printed form. The photography and styling are beautiful and the patterns are printed on heavy cardstock. We recently received seven ChicKnits sweater patterns at Close Knit.

The patterns are very clearly written, making them ideal for a first sweater project. Several are knit from the top down, involving minimal seaming or finishing and many provide options for making your own design choices, including alternate sleeve lengths, necklines, and trims. The large cable motif on the Mondo Cable Cardi, Pulli and Vest would be a good choice for those just learning cables.

Several of the sweater designs are knit up at 4.5 stitches per inch. For these, you could use some old friends like Cascade 220, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, Malabrigo Worsted or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. Or, if you’re looking for something new, try Spud & Chloe Sweater, Manos 5-Ply, Dream in Color Classy or even the fabulous new tosh vintage that Elizabeth mentioned earlier this week.

As an added bonus, the ChicKnits website includes a list of appropriate yarns for each design. If you are unsure if a certain yarn would be well-suited for a particular project, take a look at the list. Or, stop by Close Knit, where we would be happy to help you choose the perfect yarn for your new ChicKnits project.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Madelinetosh: An Update

Our madelinetosh post back in February was so popular, I thought I would give you an update. The yarn has been flying off the shelves and we have finished our projects here at Close Knit. This yarn is so yummy and fun to work with, it was hard to down the needles.

Leah finished her baby sweater.
She loosely based the design on the Oz pattern from Heirloom Stitches, using alternating stripes of the Milk and Tern colorways of madelinetosh DK. She is very happy with the results and so is the recipient:
Sally finished the Mara Shawl, a free download from the madelinetosh website, in the Fjord colorway:
You can stop by the shop and check out this one for yourself, since it's keeping one of our lovely shop mannequins warm.Lastly, I finished Melissa LaBarre's Tea Leaves Cardigan in the Silver Fox colorway.
This is a great beginner sweater pattern, knit top-down, in one piece, with no seaming. We now carry this pattern in the store and I will be offering a beginning sweater/Tea Leaves class in June. The schedule will be out in a week or so, so stay posted for details.
The madelinetosh shelves are nearly empty, but never fear: there's more on the way. We're expecting a shipment of Pashmina and Tosh Vintage in both old and new(!) colorways and it is scheduled to arrive any day.

Friday, April 2, 2010


When I became a Ravelry member a few years back, I was pleasantly surprised to gain access to a number of independent designers from around the world. One of my favorite designers on Ravelry is Canadian designer Heidi Kirrmaier, also known as PiPiBird. She was gracious enough to share a bit about her process and inspiration.

Heidi is truly inspired by nature, and she likes to give her designs natural names to “evoke the positive feelings” she gets from a particular place or element. Names like Snowbird, Raindance and Buttercup certainly conjure up some lovely images of the natural world.

Her clean and simple designs feature innovative construction techniques and thoughtful details. She generally “starts with one little idea, like a particular line, shape or other detail” picked up from somewhere. Many designs are worked side-to-side or created without seaming. She enjoys the “challenge of thinking of interesting but logical ways to construct a garment, where the outcome is still something beautiful and wearable.” Her love of simplicity is evident in her work, and she notes that “there’s a lot that can be done with some pretty basic skills.”

Heidi uses lightweight yarns to design graceful tops perfect for layering in cooler months and wearing alone in warmer months. She spends much of the cold Alberta winter indoors, so “non-wooly garments are quite wearable [in Calgary] even during the winter.”

Many of Heidi’s designs are worked in DK weight yarns. If you are looking for a lightweight spring or summer project, Rowan Wool Cotton and Rowan Calmer would work very well for many of her designs. The new Rowan Purelife Revive, a recycled silk/cotton blend, would also be a nice choice.

We carry a variety of wool and alpaca yarns that will work wonderfully at this gauge, including Ultra Alpaca Light, Rowan Felted Tweed, Rowan Purelife Organic Wool and the ever-popular Madelinetosh DK.

If Heidi’s designs appeal to you, too, check out her Ravelry pattern store and come down to Close Knit to find the perfect yarn for your very own PiPiBird design.

All photos courtesy of Heidi Kirrmaier