close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mondays are for Yarn

Fall has officially arrived here in Portland.  I know we'll be having a few more spotty days of sunshine and warmish weather before we really hunker down, but September 23 has come and gone, so I say it's fall.

I know more than a few of you are just as happy to see the rain as I am, so I feel comfortable admitting that I am quite pleased to welcome back the season of rain boots, Gore-tex, and woolly layers.  In celebration, we will be open every single Monday from 10 to 6 through the knitting season.

I am also quite happy to welcome more new yarn to the shop.  This pretty pile is Breathless from Shalimar Yarns.  It's a fingering weight merino, cashmere, silk blend that reminds me a little bit of Madelinetosh Pashmina.  The Breathless colors are beautiful, with a tonal richness that knits up into an interesting final product.  We've already had at least one knitter match up a few lovely shades of blue for the Stripe Study Shawl from Ravelry designer Veera of Rain Knitwear Designs.  We are trying it out right now to see how you all like it.  If you love it and want more, please let us know!  How about a few more beauty shots?

We also have a fresh batch of Jojoland Melody Superwash in some rich fall colors.

Many of you know and love this from the Swirl Scarf and Shawl we discussed in September last year.  We have been out of the deeper colors all summer, but now they are back, and they are lovely.  My favorites are: MS26, MS12, MS27, and MS36 (left to right).

Melody Superwash is a fingering weight, machine washable merino/nylon blend.  It would make some mighty fine socks, but it seems to be used more often for scarves and shawls.  The color repeat is very long on this yarn, so it won't knit up like a variegated yarn.  It stripes over several rows, longer or shorter depending on how wide your piece is.  There is a bit of a cult following for this yarn.  If you are part of that cult, come and get it while we have a nice deep stock to choose from.

Ann also delivered a lovely mohair scarf to the shop...some biasing, some garter stitch, and a little ruching for you.  It's a freebie pattern at the shop with the purchase of just two balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze.  I feel that this little darling would be the PERFECT gift for the woman who is perhaps a little hard to please.  Add a little sparkle by knitting it up in Luna instead.

I know my fellow rain-worshipers are out there, because we chat about this on Sundays.  Well, it is our time, my friends.  And now you have Mondays to enjoy even more yarny inspiration.  See you soon.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Make This: Scarves

I have been asking around about what you all like to see here on our little blog.  Aside from the shop updates and free patterns, it seems you all want me to show you what to make!  Lucky for you, my brain is constantly thinking about fabulous pairings of patterns and yarns.  Call it my version of Fantasy Football.  In an effort to make project planning and selection as easy and fun as possible, I'm starting the "Make This" series.  I'm going to kick things off with scarves.

Sneak peek of one of my new designs...not quite as basic as you might think
Most of us learned to knit by making a basic scarf.  Over the years, I seem to have stopped knitting them, because I have the hardest time finding one each fall.  I've been wearing a store-bought acrylic mess I received as a gift years ago, and that seems a little silly.

I love knitting scarves for several reasons: precise gauge is not critical, they make great gifts, the knitting is usually pretty straightforward, and they don't require an exorbitant amount of yarn.  I'm going to share some patterns with you and give you a few yarn options at different price points.

Tristan Scarf
Tristan Scarf by Nancy Ricci is a shop favorite.  Two skeins of chunky yarn and an interesting but straightforward stitch pattern, and you have a great scarf for anyone who might deserve it.  If you have mastered the garter stitch scarf, this is a great next project.

Under $40: 2 balls Rowan Cocoon
Under $40: 3 balls of Classic Elite Ariosa
Under $30: 2 skeins Misti Alpaca Chunky (shown in the sample)
Under $30: 2 skeins Cascade 128 Superwash
Under $20: 2 skeins Lamb's Pride Bulky

Miss Jenni Shawl
Also from Nancy, the Miss Jenni Shawl in classic feather and fan stitch.  If you have never tried lace, this would be a great choice for your first lace project.  Feather and fan employs the most basic lace stitches for a very impressive result.  The pattern is written for two yarns held together, a fingering weight and a lace wight mohair.

Under $65: 2 balls Karabella Lace Merino Silk + 2 balls Kidsilk Haze
Under $50: 1 skein Classic Elite Alpaca Sox + 2 balls Kidsilk Haze
About $50: any of our fabulous sock yarns + 2 balls Kidsilk Haze

If the thought of doubling yarns makes you nervous, you could easily make it work with a single strand.  I would choose something with a little mohair to achieve that nice fuzzy halo.

Under $90: 2 skeins Artyarns Silk Rhapsody
Under $35: 3 balls Rowan Kid Classic

Rain on the Prairie Scarf
The Rain on the Prairie Scarf from Interweave Knits Spring 2011 is a sweet little tuck-in scarf, perfect for that one skein of pretty yarn you can't resist.  You'll need less than 400 yards of anything from lace to sport weight.  There are dozens of options at the shop; here are a few of my favorites.

Under $25: 1 skein Misti Hand Paint Suri & Silk (shown in the sample)
About $25: 1 ball Kauni Effectyarn
Under $25: 2 balls Rowan 4 Ply Soft

Bias Scarf in Firefly
The popular Bias Scarf I designed for Classic Elite Firefly works really well in other yarns, too.  We have the beautiful orange sample, which has been getting a lot of love.

Bias Scarf in Fresco
This scarf would be great in something with a little silk or linen to accentuate the drape of the bias.
Under $40: 3 skeins Debbie Bliss Andes
Under $35: 3 balls Classic Elite Soft Linen
Under $30: 3 skeins Classic Elite Fresco (shown in the orange sample)
Under $30: 3 skeins Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool

I would love to have samples of all of these to show you, but we just can't knit that fast!  So, you'll have to use your imagination and trust me that these will be fabulous.

Sadly, it looks like the cost of fiber is increasing across the board this year for a wide variety of reasons beyond the control of retailers.  We will continue to do our best to keep our prices where they have been, but we wanted to give you loyal and fabulous customers a little heads-up on the whole thing.  That being said, come get your yarn while my numbers are still good!

I am gearing up for the release of my own designs, including a few scarves.  I've included some sneak peeks for you here, so stay tuned for more on that soon.

Sneak peek of another work-in-progress
Hopefully this little overview will get you jump started on scarf knitting, either to protect yourself from those chilly winds right around the corner or to wrap up as gifts.  What do you want to talk about next?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Joseph Galler and Fresh Books

We received a whole box full of lovely from Joseph Galler.  We haven't carried many yarns from this company lately, but I'm glad these are back.  They don't seem to have a website, so I'll give you the details.
Young girl snuggling your Heather Prime Alpaca
These skeins of Heather Prime Alpaca are huge!  Seriously, 665 yards huge.  It knits up at 6 stitches per inch on a US5 (sport weight).  One skein would make a generous shawl, and two skeins are enough for an adult-sized sweater.  Imagine a simple, lightweight cardigan knit up with this pure alpaca...what a great layer for our unpredictable weather.  I'm thinking about one of the many options from Ravelry designer Heidi Kirrmaier (aka Pipibird), especially Vitamin D or Atelier.

And the Peruvian Tweed
Also on the table, we have Galler Peruvian Tweed (600 yards of marled alpaca, 5 to 5.5 stitches per inch on a US 7 or 8).  Generous yardage and a slightly larger gauge for those of you who prefer the bigger needles.  One skein would be the perfect thing for Stephen West's Boneyard Shawl, a free pattern just right for an adventurous beginning knitter.

The Peruvian Tweed is also a popular option for manly sweaters, scarves, and hats.  It's not too heavy, and the tweedy/marled look keeps it masculine.  Perhaps a little hat and scarf set for someone in your life?  Maybe this one from Churchmouse Classics?  It's a winner.

We also received a shipment of some of our favorite books, including some tried and true classics and a few new publications.  

Elizabeth Zimmermann's legacy continues with Knit One, Knit All.  I can't promise that there will be any copies left when you get to the shop, but I can promise there are more on the way.  Also new, My Grandmother's Knitting, full of classic designs inspired by some pretty amazing grandmothers.  You have likely heard of everyone who contributed to this book: Jared Flood, Cirilia Rose, Pam Allen, Leigh Radford, Ysolda Teauge, Larissa Brown, Chrissy Gardiner, Cookie A, Wendy Bernard...

And our return champions include: One Skein, Stitch n' Bitch, Happy Hooker, Last Minute Knitted Gifts, Vintage Baby Knits, Vintage Knits for Modern Babies, Boutique Knits, Simply Baby, How to Knit, How to Crochet, Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders, Knit & Purl, and Getting Started Knitting Socks.  Whew!

The chill in the air has me wishing that I'd invested a little more time knitting for myself over the last few months.  This gorgeous alpaca and these inspiring books are putting me in a selfish mood.  Time to get knitting!

Friday, September 9, 2011

There are things...

There are things I forgot to show you!  I think I even teased you with a mention here and there, but I never got to the goods.  Fortunately, we still have these books and magazines at the shop, and they are still pretty fabulous.  Here we go.

Interweave Knits Weekend Knits 2011.  (This is another one of those special issues that you'll have to hit the shop to see, since it's not part of a subscription package.)  There are several projects in this issue that caught my attention.

Diana's Cardigan
Gansey Leg Warmers in Road to China Light
Elm Street Socks
Kilronan Mittens in Terra
Braided Slipper Socks in Cascade 128 Superwash
Norquin Beret in Canopy Fingering
In addition to the pretty projects, there are a few nice articles, too.  This one provides instructions for tying and wearing scarves, if you need help with that sort of thing.

Another article delves into the world of handwashing.  Great reference for you and great information to pass on to recipients of your handknit masterpieces.

The Best of Interweave Crochet and Knitted Lace: collections to add to your own library or to give as gifts.

Here are a few snippets from the crochet collection.
Alpine Frost Scarf
Boteh Scarf
Stone Path Hat
Babette Blanket
And the lace collection.  (A few of these aren't listed on the Ravelry page for the book, but I promise they are in there.)
Fountain Pen Shawl
Slanting Plaid Stole
Victoria Tank
Apres Surf Hoodie
Paisley Shawl
Bettie's Lace Stockings
Finally, Knit and Spin!  Great for spinners of all levels, and, really, knitters of all levels, too.  The magazine is full of designs for handspun yarn, but ready-spun yarn will work, too.  It's broken up into categories, which helps if you are working with a limited amount of yarn.

Stuff for the hands, including the Fleece Lined Mittens from the cover
Hats!  Love the Camel and Polwarth Hat
The luxury of handspun, handknit socks...Annukka
Pretty scarf choices, including the Undulating Scarf
Oh my, a Handspun Bunny Sweater
There is some great information in here about wool and yarn in general.  I have not yet allowed myself to consider spinning, but I know one of us at the shop has...stop by and ask Adrienne to show you her pretty handspun.

I am linking to the Ravelry pages for these projects, because the links are much more reliable and detailed than Interweave's links.  Do you all use Ravelry?  Anyone interested in a little primer?  Just say the word, and I'll get to work.  Perhaps we could pool our collective knowledge and share tips and tricks.
In the meantime, stroll on down to the shop, enjoy some well-deserved air conditioning, and thumb through some of our books and magazines.  See you soon!

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Classes and New Interweave Knits

We have the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts special issue in the shop.  (Note: If you subscribe to IK, this issue will not be arriving in your mailbox as part of your regular subscription.)  

I want to tell you about our fall classes, too, so I'll intersperse some photos of my favorite designs from the magazine to keep things interesting.
Roisin: a sneak peek from Ysolda Teauge's next book
Need to learn (or relearn) the basics?  We have options.  If Thursday nights are good for you, Adrienne's Knitting: Beginning and Beyond series is fabulous.  In three two-hour classes, Adrienne will have you knitting, purling, working in the round, decreasing, and increasing.  If you already know these basics, bring along whatever you want to try next and Adrienne will help you tackle your newest challenge. 

Cephalohedron: A knitted octopus that folds into an octahedron
We also have our two hour Learn to Knit Workshop with Ann on Tuesday night.  We have scheduled these once each month, so you can sign up whenever works for you.  Ann will help you learn as much as you can in two hours.  You'll walk away with the skills to get started on your first project!

McHenry: A puppy dog hat from Susan B. Anderson
Ann is also teaching a Learn to Crochet Workshop once each month.  You'll learn the basics of crochet and be ready to take on some beginner projects.  If you already know the basics, check out her Crocheted Hat Class later this month.

Flamboyant Shawl in Rittenhouse 5-Ply (a new personal favorite yarn)
Thank goodness we have Ann, because she is also a sock teacher!  Ann's sock classes are so much fun, and we have one scheduled in October and one in November.  I know many of you come in and drool at the pretty sock yarns.  It's time for you to learn the magic of sock knitting.  You won't go back.

Wattle and Daub Afghan: Stripes? Log cabin? Yes please.
I'll still be teaching my Sunday morning Knitting Techniques workshop.  If you just need a little help getting going on something, sign up and come in before the shop opens to pick my brain for an hour.  If I don't know how to help you, I'll find someone who does!

Overshot Mittens in St-Denis Nordique: a great first colorwork project
A few more of my favorites.  A little handmade holiday ornamentation, anyone?
Felted Yule Trees
An Angel...
and a Bird
I love these gloves and this shawl.  Great little treats for yourself or someone special.
Jet Gloves: perfect for that special skein of sock yarn too nice for feet
Blue Thistle Shawl in Kathmandu Aran Tweed (I told you it was good)
I'm a little weirded out that Interweave managed to go back to 1985 and convince 6-year-old me to model for these, but they are still pretty fabulous.  A little red capelet and bonnet and a shawl-collared cardigan with birds on it?  So classic but so cute.
Hollyberry Cape and Bonnet: Little Red with cables
The Scherenschnitte Cardigan in Spud & Chloe Sweater
Do you see something here you want to try?  Take a look at our classes and sign up for a little instruction from one of our fabulous teachers!