close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seedling to Sprout

It's 55 and sprinkling, so it's obviously time to discuss cotton yarns!  I want to tell you about a few very nice organic cottons from Classic Elite Yarns, Seedling and Sprout.

We have carried Sprout in the past, and I even used it for my Tiny Baby Hat pattern.  It's back on our shelves in more and even better colors.

This is a bulky weight cotton, working up at about 3.5 stitches per inch on a US10.  At first, I was unsure about the whole idea of a bulky cotton.  Once I started working with it, I was really impressed at how easily it knits up, and I think the interesting texture of the yarn has a lot to do with it.

Normally, my hands get a little crampy if I knit with pure cotton for too long, but I haven't had any trouble with Sprout.  The sproinginess of the yarn seems to create a little more give than a flat mercerized cotton yarn.  Sally also pointed out that the texture really keeps you from worrying about how even your stitches are, because any irregularity really disappears in the knitted fabric.  It also stays light and lofty, rather than getting heavy like you might expect from such a bulky cotton.

The Classic Elite site talks a bit about the kind of organic cotton they use for these yarns, and they also note that the lack of processing causes less stress to the fibers, making the yarn more absorbent and the colors more intense.  Maybe the loftiness and bounce can be partially attributed to this low-stress processing, too.

Seedling has a similar texture, just a lighter gauge, knitting up at 4.5 stitches per inch on a US7, basically an Aran to worsted weight.  Check out the pretty colors.

This yarn is calling out to be knitted into blankets and kiddo sweaters.  The pattern books for these yarns have a few promising designs for the adults, too.

Harbor features four designs in Seedling, which are all quite wearable: Jetty, Mizzen, Marina, and Starboard.

This little shrug is my favorite one in the Sprout book, Surf.  Half of the sizes only require two skeins of Sprout!

I am making Agnes, a simple bulky top-down raglan with cute little side pockets.  I am basically hoping to create a comfy gray pullover that looks a little classier than my mom's Iowa Sate University sweatshirt I have been wearing since high school.  Ahem.  So far, this sweater seems to be knitting itself.  I started it last week, and I'm done with the body already.  Sleeves and pockets, here I come.  I need something to throw on for this crazy weather!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fair Isle Fun

Sally has been playing around with the Cascade 220 SportWe've discussed this yarn before, and Sally is pretty smitten with it.  Before she left for a well-deserved spring break trip, she grabbed five skeins of different colors and decided it was time to hone her stranded knitting skills.

Stranded knitting is the general term for the technique in which two colors are worked in a row to create a pattern, with one strand carried behind the work while the other is being knitted.  Multiple colors are usually used in a given project, but two colors per row is standard.  While the terms stranded and Fair Isle are generally used interchangeably at this point, Fair Isle knitting is actually a subset of stranded knitting focusing on the traditional patterns of Fair Isle, one of Scotland's remote Shetland Islands.  Technically, you are only doing Fair Isle knitting if your stranded colorwork pattern is one of their traditional motifs.

Brrr.  Image from Fair Isle website.
Colorwork is an even more general term for multi-color knitting, including stranded knitting, mosaic knitting, intarsia, duplicate stitching, and even basic stripes.

We have several pattern dictionaries for stranded knitting patterns, including Alice Starmore's Charts for Color Knitting, Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting, and 200 Fair Isle Motifs, which we are restocking as soon as we can.  Sally pulled out a few basic motifs and used them to create her beautiful hats.  Her plan is to create 5 hats from 5 skeins of 220 Sport, which are $5 each.  Five for five for five!  Granted, the book is an added expense, but if you love stranded knitting, it's a good investment.

To keep the technique manageable, Sally used just a little bit of colorwork on each hat.  If you are feeling more ambitious, I highly recommend We Call them Pirates, a free pattern from Hello Yarn.  

Why, yes, those are purple Decepticons.
I have made this hat in the original skull and crossbones pattern a few times, and I have also used her blank hat template to create several of my own designs.

I love doing colorwork like this, especially on little projects like hats and mittens.  I find it hard to put the knitting down, because I want to knit "just one more row" to see the pattern develop.

We actually unpacked 20 colors of Cascade 220 Sport today, so if you come in this weekend you will really have your pick of the litter.  Come find your favorite five colors, and stay tuned for the pattern for Sally's sweet little hats!

Also, don't forget to send us photos of your mom for our window display.  If you are a mother, please send us a photo of yourself!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Send us Your Mothers!

Mother's Day is May 13!  So many of us were taught to knit and crochet by our mothers and grandmothers, and we want to thank them for that gift.

Hmmm, who could this little cherub be?

Jenni, our Mistress of Styling, has an idea.  Please send us a photo of your mom (or any important mother-figure in your life) and one word that you feel describes her that we can use in our next window display.

Color, black & white, digital...we are not picky.  You can drop it off, email it, or send it to the shop.  If you chose to mail it, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope so we can return your photo.  The only catch is that we need it soon!  By Monday, April 23rd.

Please send hard copies to:
Close Knit
Attn: Mother Photos
2140 NE Alberta
Portland, OR 97211

Digital copies can be emailed to Jenni at Jenni[at]  (Replace the [at] with the @ sign.)

Please follow the conversation and direct any questions to Jenni on our Close Knit Facebook page or give us a call at the shop, 503.288.4568.  Take a quick knitting break and go dig through some photos.  We will post pictures of the finished project as soon as it's ready.  Thank you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prime Stuff

The Heather Prime Alpaca from Joseph Galler Yarns is back in the shop, I think.  The yarn is clearly here, but I am so confused about the weight and yardage.  The Joseph Galler wesbsite calls this a worsted weight, but the yarn label provides much different information.

The label promises 6 stitches per inch on a US5, so I feel pretty strongly that this is a sport weight yarn.  Oddly enough, they suggest doubling it to get about 4.5 stitches per inch using a US8.  These beautiful skeins contain a generous 665 yards of pure sport weight alpaca yarn, not 600 yards of worsted weight as the website suggests.

Whatever the story is with this pretty stuff, I would suggest swatching to get a fabric that you like.  I also highly recommend washing and drying your swatch, as alpaca has a tendency to bloom and drape when it's washed.  I'm working on a little swatching tutorial for you guys, so I'll go into more detail on this soon.

Pure alpaca can get pretty loosey-goosey if it's knit up on larger needles.  This can be great for a shawl or scarf, but not so much for hats or gloves.  For sweaters, it really depends on the sweater style.  If you have a swingy, flowy design, you might be just fine with a looser gauge.  If you want something with a little more structure, you might try going down a needle size or two.

Rich heathery alpaca in gorgeous earth tones, pastels, and brights.  That's spring in a basket right there!

Also, make time to come up to our little corner on Alberta and 22nd this weekend.  Bolt Neighborhood Fabric is having a great big sale, and we are offering a little something to those of you with a love for both fabric and yarn.  If you spend $5 or more at the Bolt sale this weekend (Friday through Sunday), show us your receipt to get 10% off your Close Knit purchase.  This is only going on this weekend, so come on up and get your fiber fix!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Our fabulous friends at Bolt Neighborhood Fabrics are having a sale this weekend!  I know quite a few of our yarn lovers are fabric enthusiasts, too, so we want to offer up a little something.

Photo from the Bolt Blog
If you show us a receipt from the Bolt sale, we will give you 10% off your Close Knit purchase this weekend.  The Bolt receipt needs to be for $5 or more, it must be from the sale this weekend, and the discount at Close Knit will only apply during the same time period, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday April 13-15.  

Euroflax sneak peek!
The gals at Bolt are offering amazing discounts on fabric and books and a service coupon to Modern Domestic for purchases over $50 during the sale weekend.  Between all of that good stuff and a yarn sale...the weekend just got a little bit sunnier!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Give it Away Now

I know quite a few of you knit a few rows here and there on the Albers Stash Blanket Project that was hanging around the shop several months back, and I thought you might like to see what became of your stitches.  

Photo by Beth Conyers, sourced from Melanie Falick Books

Our friend (and local knitwear designer) Leigh Radford spearheaded a community-wide knit-a-long to create these beautiful blankets for donation to charitable organizations in the Portland area.

Lantern Moon donated needles and local knitters donated their scraps and stitches.  Our very own Ann contributed a pretty large chunk of her stash and time to this project.  I love how the colors look so cozy and right-at-home together in these blankets, even though most of us would never think up combinations like these on our own.

Photo by Beth Conyers, sourced from Melanie Falick Books

The Albers Stash Blanket is from Leigh's book One More Skein, and she has more information on this project and many more photos on her Facebook page.

We love being part of these movements, so thank you to Leigh for organizing this and making our shop a part of it.  Do you all have any ideas for our next charity knitting project?  Let us know if you have any thoughts.  We'd love to get involved!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Believe it or not, Close Knitters, spring will be here soon.  Actual spring, with sun and dry grass and sandals.  I know many knitters hang up the needles during the warmer months, trading in for gardening tools, hiking boots, or a just cold beer in the backyard.  There are many of you, myself included, who knit with wool all year round.  In an effort to strike a happy medium, we are stocking up on our favorite warm weather yarns.  Let me show you some of what we have.

We tried a smattering of Ripple from Tahki last summer, and it seemed to be very popular.  So, here we go again with more colors!  The Warren 2-Way Jacket from last year's pattern booklet is a flip-able design, and it's been tried and approved by numerous Ravelers.

The newest Tahki book has some pretty Ripple designs, too.  The texture of this yarn is so unique, it really works well in in drapey flowy designs featuring good ol' stockinette stitch.
Postcards Tee


Cruise Ship

Silver Dollar
Ann created this sweet little kerchief with Ripple last summer, and the pattern is free with the purchase of just one little ball of Ripple.

Even though it will warm up (I promise), we will still have those fabulously cool evenings almost all summer.  I always find myself reaching for a lightweight cotton layer when the sun goes down, and I think Ripple will go well with that cold beer in the back yard.