close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Inspiration

If you are like many knitters that I know, you may be looking for inspiration to get you through a summer knitting slump. Here at Close Knit, we have plenty of design inspiration, as many fall knitting magazines and pattern books have begun to arrive. Last week, we received two favorites: the new Rowan Studio and Misty by Kim Hargreaves.
Rowan Studio Issue Nineteen features eight designs inspired by Spring/Summer runway looks - all in "Sherbet Shades" - pastels in "lightweight, floaty layers". There's Sugar, a comfy patchwork tunic in Kidsilk Haze that would also work well as a subtler solid.
And, there's Love, which calls for fingering weight yarn, would knit up quickly and be a great addition to a summer sundress.
Misty, Kim Hargreave's latest, is beautifully styled and photographed as always.
It features twenty-one new designs - mostly sweaters - some fitted and feminine and others easy, slouchy and relaxed.
There are accessories, too - several scarves and this gorgeous cabled hat:
In addition to Misty, we have restocked our other Kim Hargreaves books as well. But, don't delay! When we have these luscious books in stock, they don't last long. Stop by the store, get your copy of Rowan Studio Nineteen and Misty and start dreaming about fall knitting.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Sale

Join us Saturday, July 24 from 10-5 for our Summer Sale! We will have great deals throughout the shop, as well as a table overflowing with deeply discounted yarns. The shop discount is only on Saturday, but the sale table will be around Sunday as well. There will be sweater quantities of some wonderful yarns, so come early!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Perfect Summer Knit: Quick and Easy Baby Vest

My niece recently gave birth to a baby girl and I knitted Milo for her, an adorable vest from Australian designer Georgie Hallam, available as a Ravelry download for less than five dollars. The pattern includes sizes newborn through 4. I knitted the six month size so that the new baby will get at least a few months of wear out of her handknit vest.
Milo is a great beginner pattern, as it is knit in the round on sixteen inch circulars and provides a healthy mix of garter and stockinette, with a cable running down the left front. Hallam provides instructions for four different cable options. However, this is a bare-bones, easily adaptable pattern - you could insert the cable or pattern of your choice or forego the cable in favor of stripes, colorwork or simple stockinette.
For this project, I chose Rowan British Sheep Breeds DK Undyed in Ecru. Although we are nearly sold out, Sally has reordered all of the Sheep Breeds DK colorways for the fall. Alternatively, we have plenty of Organic Wool Naturally Dyed, which I also highly recommend. Or, you could try another great Rowan yarn: Superwash Pure Wool DK. Or, some Madelinetosh. Or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK. There are many DK yarn options in the shop - both handwash and superwash - and we would be happy to show you some options.
And, since you are knitting for a baby or child, you have a bit of leeway regarding size and gauge. I love this sweater so much and it was so fast (four days, start to finish), easy and adaptable, I plan to size it up to fit my five year-old son and use some worsted or aran - maybe Ella Rae Classic or Cascade 220. I will be sure to share the results. I am sure that this was only the first of many Milos to come.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Out With the Old and In With the New!

The weather is perfectly summery here in Portland, but we are already thinking ahead to autumn at Close Knit. Sally has been meeting with yarn reps and ordering so much great stuff, we can’t even begin to list all of it.

We received a shipment of the gorgeous Malabrigo Sock. Just look at these colors:

Malabrigo Sock is ideal for shawls and socks, and it has found a new life with the recent sock-yarn-for-sweaters trend. Many Ravelers have used it for the Featherweight Cardigan, Tempest, Cecilia and the Whisper Cardigan. Just two or three skeins and you have a sweater!

Audrey, a silk/merino blend from Schaefer Yarns, arrived this month as well.
Knitty’s First Fall 2010 features this yarn for Mythos, a lightweight wrap cardigan. We are also expecting a shoulder scarf pattern from Schaefer written specifically for one skein of Audrey. The semi-solid colors that Sally chose are beautiful, and silk gives this yarn a beautiful luster in the sunlight.

The books and magazines are rolling in, too. I paged through the newest issue of Knitscene recently and noticed that we carry the recommended yarn for more than half of the projects.

The Blume Hat and Glove set knit with Blue Sky Alpacas Royal would make such a nice gift.
Gifted from Mags Kandis is also full of projects for giving.
I love this cute little short row baby hat knit with Louisa Harding Grace Silk and Wool.
The much-anticipated New England Knits from Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa La Barre just arrived as well. These two designers are putting out some of the most popular patterns right now, and their new book does not disappoint. They even have a blog for the book!

With all of this great stuff filling up the shop, we need to free some space. So, mark your calendars and join us next weekend for our big summer sale. There will be discounts throughout the shop, as well as a table of deeply discounted yarns. The sale is Saturday, July 24th from 10-5, and the sale table will continue through Sunday. Come on by to snag some great deals and help us make room for our new and exciting fall fibers!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Knitting Groups and Knitalongs

Would you like to breathe life into your knitting this summer? Are you looking to have more fun or infuse a sense of purpose into your knitting? Why not join a knitting group or start a knitalong?

Here at Close Knit, we host a weekly knit night on Wednesdays from six to ten p.m. Our group is friendly and welcoming with veterans and newbies alike and the lovely Adrienne is here to help you and ring up your purchases. Bring your own beverage or grab one from Mash Tun and join the fun.

You can also start your own group at home, in a cafe, or even outside in this beautiful weather. When my son was a baby, I got together with other mothers and we knitted while the babies played at our feet. These days, I join a diverse group of knitters and crocheters who meet in a variety of interesting locales. I get lots of knitting done, see what others are making and get inspired by the energy.
If you're looking to add a sense of purpose to your knitting, you can start or join a knitalong. Close Knit has copies of Portland author Larissa Brown's beautiful book, Knitalong, which outlines the history of knitting together, discusses organizing knitalongs and has some great patterns and ideas.
Or, you might have seen yesterday's post on our Facebook page about knitting helmet liners for soldiers. Stop by, pick up a free copy of the pattern and join your friends for a knitalong.
Knitting groups and knitalongs are a wonderful way to make new friends, get inspired by others' projects and ideas or create items for a good cause. Join us at Close Knit next Wednesday or look into starting your own knitting group or knitalong. You will be amazed by the friendship, the rewards and the knitting that you will create.

Close Knit knit night photo courtesy of Chris Bittner Tolomei
Soldier hat liner photo courtesy of kae1crafts at

Friday, July 9, 2010

St-Denis Trunk Show

The St-Denis trunk show has finally arrived!
If you are familiar with this yarn and the designs, you will really enjoy admiring these beautiful garments. If not, this might be your chance to discover a new favorite.
Veronik Avery’s new line of yarn debuted last fall with Nordique, a lovely pure wool sport weight yarn. As she mentions in her notes in the St-Denis Magazine Premier Issue, this is a “knitterly” yarn with a great color range. She likens it to a painter’s palette, and it is truly versatile and inspiring. In addition, the yarn is manufactured in the United States.

The designs in the magazines use Nordique at different gauges depending on the project. It’s knit loosely for cables and lace, doubled up for a cozy hoodie, and right on gauge for a variety of designs.

We currently have the St-Denis Magazine Issue 2 Nordique patterns. The Agathe Pullover has a flattering wide neckline and lovely waist shaping.
The Trellis Cardigan uses only five balls of Nordique, and the textured panels along the sides add interesting detail.

We have socks, a sweet baby blanket, an argyle vest and more (Click the photos to go to the Ravelry pages for these designs.).
The St-Denis Magazine Issue 2 also includes designs using Boreale, a fingering weight cousin from the St-Denis line that we will carry in the fall.

Unfortunately, the items from the Premiere Issue are no longer traveling with the trunk show, but here are a few of my favorites, all knit with Nordique.

In addition to the designs, both issues of the St-Denis Magazine include designer notes and suggestions, full-color photography and charts, and descriptions of special techniques.

Stop by the (air-conditioned) shop to truly appreciate the beauties from Issue 2 while we have them. The pieces are well-designed by some of the most popular designers, and the yarn is satisfying and wooly. What’s not to love?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Road Trip Knitting

It may be approaching one hundred degrees here in Portland, but that doesn't mean we should stop knitting. A sure way to get lots of knitting done and finish those works in progress is to get out of town. Why not pack up your yarn and needles and take a road trip?

First, you need a willing driver. A spouse, partner or friend will do. Then, you are free to lounge in the passenger seat, take in the scenery and knit to your heart's content.
I took a road trip to California last week and found that the trip was the perfect opportunity to jump start my knitting. As I mentioned before on the blog, I was feeling a bit stuck with my knitting, particularly that large cream-colored stockinette and seed stitch vest. However, after eight hours in the car the first day of our trip...Voila! I finished and cast off.
The next day, I cast on for a ribbed hat for a friend who is living with cancer. I wanted a simple watchman's cap and I found the perfect pattern on Ravelry - the Jacques Cousteau Hat, a free pattern from a Finnish designer with a simple K3, P2 rib and a decrease that creates an interesting crown design. I used one of my favorite yarns from the shop - Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino and I believe it will be the perfect yarn - soft and warm and luscious with no scratchiness.
This hat pattern provided perfect car knitting - a simple rib with minimal shaping and no fancy stitches. And, it kept my fingers warm as I knit by the fire at our campsite.
I was feeling ambitious and I didn't want to be without a new project, so I also brought some Ella Rae Classic for a shawl. Sadly, I did not get to this. However, my hat is wrapped to give to my friend and my vest is ready for seaming. And, I feel liberated by the freedom to start a new knitting project to take with me on my next summer road trip.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Drop It!

Dropped stitches, for better or worse, occur when a stitch is removed from the needle and allowed to unravel down the length of the knitting, creating a column of horizontal ladders where the stitch should have been.

This technique is often used as a design element. The much-loved Clapotis from Knitty utilizes dropped stitches to create diagonal ridges. Raspy from Denim People uses strategically placed dropped stitches to give an unusual, edgy look to an otherwise simple pullover.

This amazing Destroyed Cowl by Martha Merzig uses a group of dropped stitches around the edges to give this eternity scarf a cool look.

I made mine in Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica Naturals. I love the thick and thin texture of this yarn, and the dropped stitches really give the variations a chance to shine through.

Of course, dropped stitches are not always a welcome sight. If you are knitting along and see the tell-tale loop:
you are experiencing a dropped stitch. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to fix.

First, put something in the stitch to keep it from dropping any farther down your piece. I often use a stitch marker or a bit of scrap yarn. On the knit side, work to just above your dropped stitch as shown below.
Next, find that crochet hook from your toolkit. Insert the hook into the front of the stitch and use it to grab the horizontal ladder behind the stitch and pull it through. You can remove your stitch marker or scrap yarn at this point.
If you have more horizontal ladders, repeat this process until you’ve used them up as pictured below. Put the last loop onto the left needle.

Dropped stitch fixed! If your stitch dropped down several rows, this can lead to a column where the tension looks a little off, but it should correct itself during blocking.

I find it easiest to fix a dropped stitch from the knit side rather than the purl side, but you can pick up a dropped purl stitch by going into the back of the stitch with your hook rather than the front. If you need to perform a fix in garter stitch, you will need to alternate pulling the ladder through the front and the back to duplicate the garter stitch pattern.

If you’d like to see a video of this process, has a great one on their Knitting Tips page called Fixing a Run/Dropped Stitch. They don't use a crochet hook, but the process is the same.

Whether you've dropped a stitch accidentally or want to try incorporating them into a knitted piece, hopefully this overview gives you a good place to start.