close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Style Style: Accessories

Are you all familiar with the Interweave Style Series? No? Well, let me tell you a bit about them.

Each book is packed with designs following a theme: scarves, lace, colorwork, bags, and so on. The projects in the books span a wide range of skill levels, yarn weights, techniques, and design styles. There are designs from so many well-known designers, including Veronik Avery, Leigh Radford, Annie Modesitt, Teva Durham, Norah Gaughan, Pam Allen, Ann Budd, Debbie Bliss...the list goes on and on.

Today it's all about accessories.

The first in the series, Scarf Style, was one of the first pattern books I ever purchased. I remember flipping through the pages, falling in love with so many designs and feeling very intimidated by others.

My very first lace project, Ene's Scarf in Silky Wool, came from this book.

Interlocking Balloons, from the amazing Shirley Paden, would be a wonderful gift for the man who shies away from the chunky handknit scarves, especially in the refined Sport Weight from Blue Sky Alpacas.

I adore the Backyard Leaves Scarf from Annie Modesitt. You knit two halves from the center to the tips and then graft them together for a seamless and symmetrical scarf. Perfect with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran or Dream in Color Classy.

The Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole enjoyed quite a bit of popularity a few years ago, and Noro Silk Garden was all the rage for this. While I can appreciate how the entrelac shows off the color changes of Noro, I think this would be equally cool in a solid.

I like this understated little Midwest Moonlight Scarf, too. A lot of Ravelers worked it in Silky Wool for a drapey delicate scarf. Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend would be lovely, too.

One of the best things about scarves and shawls is that you can often fudge the gauge a bit and still end up with something fabulous. This can also be true for bags.

Oh, Bag Style. I would have bought you solely for Laura Irwin's Formal Boot Bag. I love this bag. I made it for myself using Tahki Donegal Tweed, which knits and felts like a dream. In fact, I loved the felted bag so much, I couldn't bring myself to cover it with the bobble and button panel.

There are, however, other lovely bags in the book, too.

Veronik Avery's Zenith Carpet Bag is not for the faint of heart, but look at the professional finished product.

The Two-Tone Triangle Purse is just begging to be embellished with some needle felting.

I really like the use of a tweed yarn for colorwork in the Celtic Weekend Tote. This would be really cool in the Tahki Donegal Tweed or Debbie Bliss Chunky Tweed.

I hadn't really noticed this Chullo Pouch before, but I now I sort of feel compelled to make one. If you don't want to try all the colors, it would be great in a single color of Brown Sheep Burly Spun.

This whole series is good. If you want to make scarves for everyone you know, try your hand at a range of lace techniques, or just get some inspiration, these books are worth a look. They make great gifts for fellow knitters (or yourself). I'll show you some of the beautiful things from the other books next week.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Arrivals

Exciting news for our Close Knit family! Melissa and her husband, Ryan, welcomed a most impressive project into the world last week, sweet baby girl Dylan. She arrived a few weeks early, and Melissa and her family are all doing very well. We can't wait to see her all decked out in her fabulous Mama-made outfits!

We have had a few arrivals at the shop, too, although they aren't nearly as cute as Dylan. Several boxes of Classic Elite Yarns were delivered this week, including my FAVORITE summer yarn to date, Firefly.

The linen/viscose blend has the perfect combination of shine and strength, and the knitted fabric has such a fabulous drape and sheen. I made this simple little Firefly Bias Scarf last summer using three balls. The sample is back up in the shop, and the free pattern can be found here.

I've mentioned a few of my favorite Firefly designs in the past, including the V-Yoke Cardigan from the Spring 2011 Interweave Knits (shown below), and the designs from the CEY Firefly booklet, Meadow (#9136).

Our stock of Sprout has grown, as well. It's hard to find a bulky cotton that isn't too dense, and this one is lofty, springy, and organic, too. At 3.5 stitches/inch, you could crank out a summer cardigan or a baby blanket in no time.

I'm working on a little baby hat in Sprout, so I'll have a free pattern for you soon. Maybe I can talk Dylan into modeling for me!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Huit...Now Douze

When I made this little item for myself last month, I wasn't sure if I'd really wear it. Once I had it finished, I found myself looking for excuses to snuggle into it. I'm not sure if it's a cowl or a capelet. I'm going to avoid calling it a poncho, but that's just me.

I found the pattern, Huit, on Ravelry from a designer named Lisa Mutch. She has some great designs available in her Etsy shop, NorthboundKnitting, as well as her Ravelry pattern shop.

I really wanted an excuse to use some British Sheep Breeds Chunky that had come to live with me, but it's a little smaller than the pattern gauge. So I cast on 16 extra stitches and used them to add an extra rib at the front, back, and sides. I needed two skeins of yarn, US11 needles, and about three or four hours of knitting time.

The original design features eight ribs, huit in French, but mine has twelve, douze.
The size came out just right to feel cozy around my shoulders, but it still fits under my raincoat. It's perfect for these rainy/sunny spring days in Portland.

I love the sheepiness of the Rowan Sheep Breeds, but if it's a little too rustic for you, I can recommend Cascade 128 Superwash. I used it to make one for a friend, and it came out perfectly. She uses it when she bikes to work, so the machine washable yarn is just the thing.

I wasn't so sure if I'd be able to pull off this look, but now I find myself hoping for a few more chilly days. And, um, there's a matching hat, too, Deux. Perhaps mine will be Trois...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Summer Knitscene

The Summer Knitscene has arrived, and there is some good knitting in there.

When I wrote about Amy Christoffers, my newest designer crush, I told you she was going to have a spread in this issue. She has four great designs, and there is a nice little feature article about her rise in the knitting world.

The Strafford Tee will soon be mine. We aren't carrying Hempathy at the shop this summer, but this would be amazing in Louet Euroflax, a pure linen, or Cascade Ultra Pima, a lustrous cotton, or Rowan Revive, a recycled cotton/silk blend.

The Windsor Cardi is a classic. This would be really nice in Rowan Purelife Cotton DK, an organic cotton in some beautiful muted colors. Louisa Harding Jasmine, a cotton/bamboo blend with a little sparkle, would also be fun.

The Penumbra Tee is a sexy little number with an interesting neckline detail. Would someone please make this in the Rowan Belle Organic Aran?

If you're feeling really adventurous, try the Heliosphere Tank. Classic Elite Firefly would be soft and lightweight, perfect for the drapey cowl neck and slight racerback style.

The Lodi Cardigan will be your go-to summer cardi. This would be really nice in Spud & Chloe Sweater, and we have a really great range of colors right now.

Speaking of which, the Figurehead Shawl is designed with Spud & Chloe Sweater, just one skein each of your two favorite colors. I am a sucker for a good stripe, and this sweet little kerchief is calling to me.

The Starboard Cape is knit with Canopy Fingering from the Fibre Company. Wouldn't this be great over a sundress at a summer wedding?

Okay, those are my favorites. Did anything else catch your eye?

If you have a weakness for fabric as well as yarn, be sure to make it up to our little corner of Alberta this weekend. The gals at Bolt are having a big ol' sale!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Learn Something New: Knit, Crochet, and Advanced Techniques

More classes for you! Our class schedule is filled out for the rest of April and May.

Adrienne's Knitting: Beginning and Beyond remains a very popular class. On Thursday nights from 6:30-8:30, Adrienne will teach you everything you need to know to tackle a variety of projects. The next round of classes will be April 21st, 28th, and May 5th.

Ann continues to offer a one-shot Learn to Knit workshop for those of you who just need a little reminder. Normally a Tuesday night class, we are offering one on Monday, May 9th, as well, to accommodate your busy schedules. If Tuesdays work for you, we have classes open on April 12th, 26th, and May 24th.

Many of you expressed interest in learning to crochet, so we have a Learn to Crochet workshop with Ann on Tuesday, May 17th. Ann will teach you as much as you can learn in two hours! If there is interest, we will continue to offer crochet classes this summer.

Crocheted yarn bomb on our little corner

Finally, I'll be offering an Advanced Knitting Techniques Workshop one Sunday morning each month from 10-11 before the shop opens. We are always happy to help you with your knitting during shop hours, but sometimes you knitters have some pretty big questions and dilemmas! If your question seems like more than a "10 minute problem", sign up for this workshop. Think of it as a semi-private lesson. When you sign up for the workshop, please let us know what you'd like to learn so I can prepare for class. I will contact you if there is anything special you need to bring along.
We can work through a pattern that's giving you trouble, talk through your first sweater, learn to fix mistakes, whatever you need! I'm happy to teach you any new technique you've been wanting to learn as well. Here are a few suggestions: short rows, seaming and mattress stitch, picking up stitches, I-cord, provisional cast on, grafting, fair isle methods, intarsia...I'm sure you'll come up with even more.

Elizabeth Zimmermann's Heart Bonnet in cashmere
Hope to see you in class!

P.S. The photos don't have much to do with anything, but aren't they pretty?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Here Comes the Cotton Yarn

The cotton yarn is starting to roll in. Although the hail and snow in the forecast would suggest otherwise, it will be warming up soon. It's time to start thinking about what you'd like to have for those chilly summer evenings.

A rainbow of Tahki Cotton Classic has arrived. Bright colors, lustrous finish, and only $6.50 per skein.
We have some nice samples knit with Cotton Classic, including this cool Side-to-Side Garter Stitch Vest, which is free when you buy the yarn. It's knit with a double strand, so it should come together pretty quickly. I might have to queue that one.

We also received the newest pattern books for Cotton Classic, Kaleidoscope #5, which includes these pretty little things, among others.

New to Close Knit,
Ripple from Tahki. Ripple is a worsted weight 100% cotton with a thick-and-thin slubby texture. It's a bit of a departure from our other cottons, but it is really interesting yarn.

We have black on the shelves right now, with more colors on the way. The unusual texture would make the simplest cardigan or pullover really dramatic. The pattern book for Ripple, Urban Renewal, (shown above) has a few really nice choices, too.

I know it feels like January again, but soon it will be time to tuck the heavy wool sweaters away. Wouldn't it be nice to have a fabulous cotton layer ready to go when the sun finally comes out for good?

Thanks, Jenni, for the Cotton Classic photos!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Designer Crush: Amy Christoffers

I have a new designer crush. I am currently a little bit obsessed with Amy Christoffers of Savory Knitting, and it seems like I'm not the only one.

I first found Amy's designs on Ravelry. I had been "favorite-ing" her designs for months without noticing they were all from the same designer. It started with this double-knit hat.

Then her beautiful cardigans caught my eye.

Amy designs with yarns I love to use: Berroco Ultra Alpaca and Ultra Alpaca Light, St-Denis Nordique, Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, Classic Elite Firefly...

I find that I'm drawn to the clean lines and interesting, tailored details that Amy includes in her designs. Her pieces look like items that I will turn to again and again. I'm working away on the V-Yoke Cardigan from Interweave Knits right now, and I have been impressed with her clear and concise instructions.

Amy focuses on wear-ability when she designs, and she told me that she likes to make things that are "interesting to knit but un-fussy and easy to wear." Her Ravelry pattern selection is all about what she wants to knit and wear right now, and the magazine submissions allow her to design items for a wardrobe that is "a little more elegant."

Amy is in the Spring/Summer 2011 Twist Collective with Clearwing, knit with the Fibre Company Savannah, which we just got in at the shop.

Her designs have also graced the pages of the last four issues of Interweave Knits. The Summer 2011 Knistscene, which we will have in the shop mid-April, features four of Amy's sweaters in a Designer Collection piece. Go take a look; they are really something.

I love finding new designers on Ravelry, and Amy is really doing beautiful work. Let's hope we continue to see more from her soon!

Thanks, Amy, for the use of your beautiful photos!