close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tweed, Glorious Tweed

I love tweed. I love that I can knit with a deep blue yarn and still get glimpses of orange and green. I love the way tweed just feels like wool. Tweed is the perfect winter yarn.

At the shop, we have several beautiful tweed yarns in a range of gauges and colors. Rowan Felted Tweed is a wildly popular, reasonably priced yarn with 25% alpaca for drape.

Rowan Scottish Tweed DK is pure wool in a range of vibrant shades.

We carry Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed in chunky and aran weights. These yarns are 15% angora, adding softness and giving them a little halo.

The Kathmandu Aran from Queensland Collection comes in a gorgeous range of colors and has a bit of silk and cashmere.

Royal Tweed from Lana Grossa is a lofty, lightweight tweed, knitting up at about 3.5 stitches per inch. I made a large wrap sweater with this and the final project was still a manageable weight, even though it was knit with bulky yarn.

I also used Tahki Donegal Tweed to make Laura Irwin’s Formal Boot Bag from the cover of Bag Style. It felted up beautifully, and it was a joy to knit. The tweedy flecks in this yarn are particularly lovely.

We began carrying Portland Tweed from Classic Elite this fall. The colors are rich and the yarn is soft and smooth.

Leslie from A Friend to Knit With designed the Libby Sweater for her daughter, using Portland Tweed. It’s an easy, swingy cardigan - perfect for a growing girl. Leslie has generously made it available for free, so check out her blog and her other free patterns.

Photo courtesy of Leslie Friend

The rain and the cold have returned to Portland, and tweed feels so cozy when the streets are wet and the sky is gray. So, pull on your boots, grab a coffee or tea and stop by Close Knit to check out our selection of warm, wooly, and yes - wintry tweeds.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We. Love. This. Yarn.

We recently received a huge shipment of madelinetosh yarns here at Close huge, we had to clear out a cabinet to make room for it all.

If you're not familiar with madelinetosh, allow me tell you about it: this is a luscious, luscious yarn. Merino wool, squishy, soft, and best of all: superwash. What's not to love? The colors are saturated, yet beautifully subtle at the same time. Sound like a contradiction? That's why madelinetosh is so special. If you swoon over Malabrigo, madelinetosh just may become your new love.

At the shop, we are carrying worsted (now called DK), sock and are soon to receive shipments of even more. We've got vibrant colorways...
earthy ones...
and delicate ones, too.
We love this yarn so much, we are casting on all over the place here at Close Knit. Nancy knit up a lovely, drapey swatch in a mustardy colorway and Leah started a striped baby sweater with colorways Milk and Tern.
Sally began the Mara shawl, an easy, garter stitch shawl featured on the website.
And, I'm working on the tea leaves cardigan by Melissa LaBarre, a pattern that we will stock at the shop, in the Silver Fox colorway.
We'll keep you posted on our knitting progress. Until then, stop by and check out this luscious yarn for yourself. It's best experienced up close and personal. And, like most of us here at Close Knit, I'm willing to bet you just may discover a new love.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Churchmouse Classics

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas serves the lucky knitters of Bainbridge Island, Washington. And, fortunately for those of us who do not live on the island, they now distribute their lovely Churchmouse Classics to yarn shops as well. Here at Close Knit, we carry the entire pattern collection, including an elegant scarf and hat set, several scarves and cowls, berets, fingerless gloves and a sweet pair of bed socks.

Perhaps the most popular of the designs is the Pressed Cap and Muffler. We often recommend it to customers as a basic men’s hat pattern. The clever decreases on the crown give the hat a finished look and the muffler is pressed after knitting, lending a nice drape.

The pattern calls for Berroco Ultra Alpaca, but Cascade's Eco Alpaca would work nicely, too. The set requires three skeins of either.

Annabella’s Cowl is a luxurious piece worked in a DK silk and mohair lace weight held together.

Knit this cowl with three skeins of Louisa Harding Grace Silk and Wool, in either the original or hand-dyed colorways. Or, try the Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend. For a lace-weight mohair, I would suggest Rowan Kid Silk Haze.

The Felted Shetland Beret is knit with just two balls of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, which we stock in an array of rich tweedy colors. Although this yarn is fingering weight, it is knit at a looser gauge, because the final piece is felted for extra density and warmth. This is a classic beret for a man or a woman.

If you love the colors of Koigu sock yarn (KPPPM), but are not interested in making socks, the Koigu Linen Stitch Scarf might be for you. Linen stitch produces a fabric that appears to be woven, creating a final product that is not stretchy like a traditional knit scarf, and involves slipping stitches, so the colors blend together beautifully.

In addition, we have patterns for Barb’s Koigu Ruffle, the Koigu Beaded Beret, and Turkish Bed Socks, all knit with Koigu sock yarn.

The Welted Fingerless Gloves are adorned with tiny buttons along the welted cuff. These are knit with a DK weight yarn, so anything that feels good on your hands would be perfect.

The pattern calls for Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, but knitters on Ravelry have used Debbie Bliss Rialto, Rowan Felted Tweed, and Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca and Silk, to name a few. You would need just one skein of most of these for a pair of gloves, so this is a great chance to try a new yarn or treat yourself to a little luxury.

If you are looking for a simple knit with high impact, the Beaded Mohair Scarf uses lace weight mohair and beads to create a striking piece. Rowan Kid Silk Haze would be lovely choice here as well. If you want to try something different, Karabella Gossamer, a mohair lace yarn with metallic accents would provide sparkle.

In addition to being classically elegant designs, the Churchmouse Classics are beautifully photographed by Jared Flood of brooklyn tweed. They would make luxurious gifts for your favorite knitter...especially if that knitter is you!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Because Handmade is Best...

We have a full stock of Lamb's Pride yarn in both bulky and worsted weight. Lamb's Pride is soft (85% wool and 15% mohair) and economical, which makes it perfect for your last-minute Valentine crafting. Think pompoms, felting or embellishments on your Valentines and Valentine gifts. Stop by Bolt next door to pick up felt squares, buttons or fabric, and together with Lamb's Pride, you've got a fabulous handmade card or gift. Take a look at these saturated Valentine colors:
And, if you're not making Valentine gifts this year, we've got plenty of colors for you, too.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Classes at Close Knit

Did you make any knitting resolutions for 2010? A vow to refine your skills, learn some new techniques, or perhaps even learn to knit for the first time? If so, we at Close Knit can help.
We have a full schedule of classes this winter and spring - from absolute beginner to advanced techniques, as well as many options in-between.
Some upcoming classes: Learn to Knit with Ann and Melissa, Learn to Crochet with Melissa, the popular Beginning Knitting and Beyond with Adrienne, the much-anticipated Side Slip Cloche class with Laura Irwin of Boutique Knits fame and the exciting jazzknitting workshop with artist Ilisha Helfman. Check out the Close Knit website for more detailed class information. Then, call or stop by the store to register. We look forward to seeing you at Close Knit!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rowan Lima

Since we received Rowan’s beautiful Lima yarn earlier this fall, I have been trying to decide what little luxury I need to make for myself. The yarn is mostly alpaca, with a little merino and nylon, giving it more memory and durability than pure alpaca. It is a worsted weight chained yarn, so it looks like knitted cord. It is incredibly soft and squishy, and the color range that we carry makes a lovely, muted rainbow.

We have a sample sweater in the shop from Rowan’s Lima Collection and our customer Melissa created her own version in the beautiful Puna colorway:

This yarn would also be wonderful for a hat or scarf, and it knits up beautifully in cables, lace, and stockinette. Several of our customers have used it for the Side Slip Cloche from the cover of Laura Irwin’s Boutique Knits, since the yarn suggested for the pattern has been discontinued.

Just two skeins would be plenty for a hat, one skein would make a lovely cowl, and four skeins should get you a pretty sizable scarf. If you want to treat yourself, this beautiful ruffled scarf from Sadie and Oliver would take five skeins. I think I will use it for an earwarmer, maybe Knitty’s incredibly popular Calorimetry. Come on in and take a look at this gorgeous yarn.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Easy Eight Hour* Hat

Looking for a simple hat that will keep you warm this winter? Here's an idea for an easy eight-hour project. The pattern is called Elizabeth, and it features a straightforward rib and cable design. The hat can be worn slouchy, or, with the ribbing folded up, in a more traditional, fitted style. It can be made with or without a pompom and is designed for a woman, but would fit most men as well.

I've knitted two of these hats in two lovely, bulky yarns that we stock at close knit. The first with Rowan Cocoon, in the Crag colorway:
Rowan Cocoon is a lovely, lovely yarn spun of 80% merino wool and 20% mohair and comes in many gorgeous colorways. The Rowan website describes it as "rugged and luxurious", which is an apt description, I think. This yarn is sturdy, yet the mohair gives it a soft glow. Best of all, you need only one ball.
I made my second Elizabeth with Malabrigo Chunky, a wonderfully squishy, kettle-dyed three-ply superfine Merino wool.
I know that many of you are Malabrigo fans, and I must say that this is my favorite Malabrigo yet. I used about 1.25 skeins for my hat. With two skeins, you will have a bit of yarn left over for a small project, and with its incredible softness, it would be suitable for a baby hat or booties.
The designer of Elizabeth is Jane Richmond and you can purchase and download the hat at Jane's Etsy site or on Ravelry. The pattern consists of a large band of ribbing, followed by a simple cable design and calls for US11 needles, but I used 10.5. Please do a gauge swatch! Even with a hat project, a gauge swatch can make the difference between a hat for your grandpa and a hat for your newborn. Different yarns (even yarns that are listed as having the same gauge) will knit up differently, depending on fiber content, loft or how tightly you knit.

This hat is a great project for beginners and seasoned knitters alike and would be a fabulous first cable project. I highly recommend this pattern and both of these yarns. It is a fast, straightforward knit - perfect for a last-minute gift for yourself or someone special.

*estimate only...actual knitting times may vary