close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Got the Blues?

Knitters often find that cotton yarns are not easy to work with, since cotton does not have the give and bounce of wool. While I agree that cotton can be a bit hard on the hands during the knitting process, for me, Rowan Denim makes it all worthwhile.

Rowan Denim is ideal for so many kinds of projects. The final product softens up like old blue jeans after a few washes, making it ideal for kids, babies, and anyone who is sensitive to wool. I love it for summer because its texture feels great next to the skin over a tank top or tee shirt.

Just like denim fabric, the yarn fades over time with washings, because it is dyed after it is spun. As you wear and wash your piece, the dyes fade, exposing the white inner core of the yarn. This tends to turn your needles and fingers blue while knitting, but it washes right off.

Your finished garment will shrink lengthwise by about 20% in the first wash, but after that you can throw it in the washer and dryer without worry. Patterns written specifically for Rowan Denim take this shrinkage into account.

Denim People contains twenty-four patterns for men’s and women’s sweaters, many of which were designed by Kim Hargreaves. She also designed this stunner, Bay, available in her Breeze collection.

There are some great baby and kid patterns, including Blu, the handknit blue jeans for babies, and SK8R from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines, a handknit sweater that a teenage boy might actually wear. I made Scamp for my daughter, and it is still going strong after many trips through the mud and the wash.

I do suggest knitting a swatch and washing and drying it to determine just how much length you’ll lose. I would also recommend washing your pieces before seaming and using the yarn from your swatch for any seaming or finishing.

We have a sample of Bomber from Denim People at the shop. Once you feel the finished product, you’ll be hooked!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
Everyone wants it, it's harder and harder to find...
But, at last...
The madelinetosh is here!
We've got tosh vintage and tosh sock and tosh dk. We've got new colors and old. So, stop by the store, check out the luscious colorways and get your madelinetosh...before it's gone!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Firefly Bias Scarf

Last month, I wrote about some of the linen yarns that we carry at the shop. When we received the Classic Elite Firefly, I was struck by the beautiful colors and the interesting texture of the yarn. I took home a few balls of the steely gray to play with and a sweet little stockinette bias-knit scarf was born.

Knitting on the bias is basically knitting diagonally. You cast on a few stitches, increase up to the width you like, and then work your way up the scarf. This gives the piece a really nice drape and keeps the edges from curling up too much. My scarf is wide enough to pull around your shoulders as a shawl, but the fabric is squishy enough to tuck into a jacket or sweater.

My finished product is at Close Knit for all to see, and the free pattern is available at the shop, too. It requires just three balls of Firefly, which we have in some lovely natural tones, as well as a great bright pink. Come by to see the scarf and enjoy the free pattern!

Firefly Scarf


3 balls Classic Elite Firefly (25% linen/75% rayon, 155 yds/50 g), colorway Brittania #7777

US 7 needles

Finished size: approx. 9 x 70 inches

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch in stockinette


CO: cast on

M1: bar increase

SSK: slip 2 stitches knitwise, knit the 2 slipped sts together

K2tog: knit 2 stitches together


With size US7 needles, CO 3 stitches.

Increase section:

Row 1 (RS): K1, M1, knit to last stitch, M1, K1

Row 2 (WS): Purl across row

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 65 stitches.

Straight section (each row has 65 sts):

Row 3 (RS): K1, M1, knit until 2 stitches remain, SSK

Row 4 (WS): Purl across row

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until the piece measures 56” along the longest edge.

Decrease section:

Row 5 (RS): K2tog, knit until 2 stitches remain, SSK

Row 6 (WS): Purl across row

Repeat row 5 and 6 until 3 stitches remain.

K3tog, pull yarn through last stitch. Weave in any ends. Press the scarf with a hot iron, using the steam setting. This will even out your stitches and give the scarf a nice sheen and drape. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Best. Knitting. Book. Ever.

Back in 1994, when I was learning to knit, I was lucky enough to learn from Susan Lupton, a wise woman at Village Wools, a wonderful, cooperatively-owned fiber shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Susan taught me to knit, helped me with my first sweater and introduced me to sock knitting. But, one of the best gifts that Susan gave me was introducing me to the bible of all knitting books, Vogue Knitting.
I was fresh out of college at the time, and with all the knitting classes and Rowan yarn and Addi Turbos, the book's price tag seemed a bit extravagant. So, I checked it out of the public library. Then renewed it. And renewed it again. And again. Until, finally, it began to feel a bit ridiculous. So, I parted with thirty-five dollars for the knitting tome. And, I never, ever regretted it.
Vogue Knitting is an exhaustive reference on practical knitting skills. It is a heavy, hardbound book that contains every skill that the handknitter needs to know - from casting on to designing one's own garments. There is information on knitting tools, commonly used abbreviations, reading charts, fair isle and intarsia, increases and decreases, special techniques like creating fringe or i-cord or pompoms, blocking and assembling and finishing. And that is only the beginning.
Yes, I know that there's the internet, with and video tutorials on youtube and countless other resources on the web. And, though I use these resources too, I find Vogue Knitting to be the most consistently helpful source of knitting information.
My well-worn copy has lost its dust jacket, the binding is loose and the cover is faded from the sun. It's been on camping trips, on airplanes, and in my school bag. It is one of my treasured possessions. So, when Close Knit customers ask for a comprehensive knitting reference, I don't hesitate. Vogue Knitting. Best thirty-five dollars I ever spent.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reviving Nettie

Nancy recently released a sweet slouchy hat pattern called Nettie, based on the popular Felicity hat. Many knitters have been inspired by Nancy’s fabulous style and beginner-friendly patterns, and her newest pattern is a perfect addition to the collection.

Nettie can be knit in the round with no finishing. Or, it can be knit flat and seamed up the back with a cute little ruching detail. I love the ruching, so I decided to make the flat version in Rowan Purelife Revive.

Revive is made from recycled silk, cotton and viscose fabrics that have been processed into a really lovely, tweedy yarn. It is reminiscent of Rowan Summer Tweed, but in a finer gauge, making it perfect for summer garments.

I chose to knit blue and white stripes for a subtle nautical vibe and was pleasantly surprised by how nicely the tweedy bits tie the two colors together. It looks like little flecks of all colorways are present in each ball, so they will coordinate nicely in any combination.

My finished hat is perfectly soft and slouchy. I can see this coming in handy on those chilly morning trips to the farmer’s market or on a particularly bad hair day this summer.

Rowan has a Revive pattern booklet, Rowan Purelife Recycled Collection, with some great tunics, cardigans, tees, and even a few men’s pullovers. Parsnip and Pumpkin, below, are my favorites.

Even though Nancy has moved on to life in the big city, we can continue to find inspiration in her designs. Come by to check out the new Nettie hat in a cool new yarn, and choose your own combination for an eco-friendly hat or stylish summer sweater.

Thanks, Kirsten, for modeling for me!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Warm Weather Inspiration

The temperature is supposed to be in the seventies this week, but I plan to keep on knitting. We've got so many exciting spring and summer yarns and patterns in the store, I have plenty of warm weather inspiration.

Normally, I'm not a fan of cotton, but my favorite summer yarn is Cascade's new cotton, Cascade Ultra Pima. This is a 100% Pima yarn in a DK weight, with 220 yards to the skein. Pima cotton has a longer fiber and is stronger and finer than basic cotton. Like other Cascade yarns, Ultra Pima is very economical, yet it is shiny and sleek and luxurious - with the sheen of bamboo or silk. And, the colors are fantastic - brilliant and summery.
When I saw this yarn, I knew that I needed to make something with it. Fortunately, I found the perfect project in Gallery, one of the inspiring Spring 2010 Classic Elite books.
The pattern is called Color Accent Long Cardi.
It is a kimono-style design and I chose Ultra Pima in Natural, Ginseng and Gold.
I can't wait to wear this cardigan over one of the skirts or dresses I plan to sew this spring. Here's to warm weather inspiration and spring and summer knitting!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Washing with Soak

If you’ve been in the shop these past several weeks, you may have noticed the pretty bottles of Soak next to the register. Soak is a no-rinse wash for everything from knits to lacy undies to favorite stuffed animals.

Soak is ideal for handknits because you don’t need to rinse it out of your knitted piece, reducing the amount of agitation to which the fibers are subjected. This makes garments last longer and keeps them looking newer. We have a range of fresh scents in large bottles and small sample sizes, too.

I have been doing a lot of sweater washing, as my little one outgrows her handknit sweaters on a daily basis. So, I thought I would share my preferred method. I like to wash sweaters by hand, but you can use Soak in a machine, too, if you have the appropriate delicate setting.

1. Fill a bin or sink with cool water and a teaspoon of Soak. Fasten any closures on the garments. Gently push your item down into the water so it is fully submerged and let it soak for 15 minutes or so.

2. Pull it out, supporting the piece and being careful not to let it stretch out under its own weight. You can give it a little squeeze, but don’t wring it out. (If your item is particularly soiled, you might want to repeat with fresh water and a little more Soak.). Plop it down on some dry towels on the floor, and roll it up in the towels. Step on it a few times to press the excess water out. This will remove most of the moisture and help reduce drying time.

3. Take it out of the wet towels and lay it flat on a dry towel someplace out of the way of foot traffic, kids and pets. If your only space to do this is on carpet or a bed, you might want to put a piece of plastic down first, since moisture will seep through the towel.

4. Shape the piece gently, but don’t pull or stretch it out too much. I like to use a measuring tape to make sure I have it laid out evenly. Keep in mind that it will dry however you leave it on the towel. Depending on how heavy the piece is, it could take several days to dry.

With summer on the way, it’s time to start putting those heavy wool sweaters into storage, so come down to Close Knit to pick your favorite Soak scent today.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rowan Studio

Looking for something different? Something out of the ordinary? Something that is the antithesis of bulky fisherman's sweaters or other classic knitwear designs? Well, look no further than Rowan Studio. Rowan Studio is a quarterly pattern booklet published by UK company Rowan and is inspired by high fashion, the runway and haute couture. These booklets are small and may be easy to miss at first glance, but we have a stack of different issues and they are filled with captivating, avant-garde designs.
I am currently knitting Grace Melville's Oak from Rowan Studio 18. Oak is an easy wrap vest - essentially a large rectangle with an arm opening. I am using Plymouth Yarn Company's Baby Llama Glow, a precious worsted llama that is a joy to work with.
It is fairly mindless knitting - stockinette and seed stitch - and I can't wait to wear it. I will keep you posted on my progress.
But, until then, come in and check out our collection of Rowan Studio pattern booklets. They are nestled on a shelf with the rest of the Rowan books and yarn.
Ask us and we'd be happy to show them to you. Maybe you will find something fun and out of the ordinary. Something that defies convention, yet is highly wearable and comfortable at the same time.