close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Renew, Revive, Recycle

Our fall Rowan order is trickling into the shop, and the most recent shipment included Rowan's second fully recycled yarn, Purelife Renew. It's a chunky weight wool blend yarn made purely from recycled fibers.

This is the second completely recycled yarn from Rowan, the first being Purelife Revive, a recycled cotton and silk blend I worked with several months ago. As with Revive, the colors of Renew are marled and tweedy rather than solid due to the way these yarns are produced.

Rowan's recycled yarns are created from used clothing and waste from fabric and yarn production. After seams and adornments are removed, the clothing is sorted by fiber type, color, and quality. It is then sterilized and shredded into loose fibers with a rag grinder. The resulting fibers are carded, and the yarn is processed and spun as usual. It's such a great way to reuse fiber that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Purelife Autumn contains several designs using Renew, including this cropped jacket called Cyclamen. This would be a fast knit on size 10 needles, and it would be perfect over a tee shirt as we slowly sneak up on the cooler weather here in Portland.

For me, part of the appeal of knitting and sewing is taking materials that are not inherently useful and transforming them into something that serves a purpose. I appreciate that Rowan's recycled yarns take this idea one step further, and it's wonderful that they are able to do so with the style that we expect from Rowan.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Being creative at Helser's

Nancy has safely landed in New York City, but she joins us again to share some inspiration and reminisce about those Portland breakfasts!

When I lived in NE Portland, I would always have breakfast at Helser's on Alberta Street. Often time you could find me there early in the morning just by myself enjoying something delicious, with my knitting by my side.

I would knit, watch people, stare out the window to see what was going on on Alberta Street and simply soak up the Portland ambiance.

One chilly day in September, it must have been in 2008, I daydreamt of a sweet little cowl design. I wanted a something small, soft and warm around my neck. Something that would look fancy, a chic accessory in a jewel tone color.

And it was right at Helser's when I cast on with a ball of Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Flamme and came up with an initial design.

First of all, I simply loved working with Silky Flamme, a blend of alpaca and silk, which comes in beautiful jewel tone colors. I chose to throw in some easy all-over cables and was determined to design my fancy little cowl with just one ball!

Although the initial prototype was knitted in a purple color, the second prototype I knitted in a deep teal color and came out something like this:

In the final prototype, I added stylish little buttons and, although I haven't a photo for it yet, I can assure you it is very pretty.

Helser's was not only a breakfast place for me. It was also a place where I could daydream about future designs and knit in peace without being rushed by the waitresses.

This little fancy cowl will be the next free pattern to be published here on the Close Knit blog.

Give me some time to write out the pattern and to test knit. I promise it will be up soon!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Changing It Up

We have traditionally held all of our classes at Close Knit, but we are changing it up a bit this fall. While we love having our teachers, knitters, and crocheters in the shop, things can get a little bit cozy around the big white table when the days get busy.

We are teaming up with Modern Domestic to bring you classes in their bright open studio space just down the street near the corner of 14th and Alberta. Our neighbors at Bolt have moved their classes down to MD with much success, and we are excited to be joining the group!
Here's how it will work:

1. Check out the knitting, crocheting, and felting classes listed on the Modern Domestic class page on the left sidebar. You will find a class description, class dates and times, and a photo of a project sample.
2. Sign up online or by visiting or calling Modern Domestic.
3. Once you are confirmed, take a look at the supply list on the class page. All supplies are available at Close Knit, and you still enjoy your 10% discount at Close Knit while you are taking the class.
4. Go to class, have a great time, and learn something new! Most beginning knitting classes will still be held at Close Knit so we can introduce new knitters to our shop and have access to anything we might need. Otherwise, classes will be held at Modern Domestic in one of their bright and spacious studios.

Classes will be continually added as they are scheduled, so please keep checking back to see what we might have to inspire you. If you haven't already, please add yourself to our mailing list and the Modern Domestic mailing list to receive email updates on new classes, events, and sales. We will keep you updated here on the Close Knit blog, as well.

While we will miss seeing our teachers and students during classes, we look forward to working with the very friendly and capable folks at Modern Domestic and finding new inspiration with so many fiber artists under one roof!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Free Pattern: Leah Gloves

More from our friend and designer extraordinaire, Nancy Ricci!

I love fingerless gloves... Ever since I figured out how to make those way back when I was such a newbie knitter, I have been hooked on them.

And I like them in many different ways: short, long, with buttons, with a lace pattern, with lots of embellishment, but I also love them as simple as possible.

I very much like to dress up and look fancy, but at times I do like the minimalist, no-nonsense look with maybe a little design element here and there.

The Leah Gloves, with small detail at the top of the glove, perfectly fit the bill!

The Leah Gloves are knitted flat, and later seamed at the side using the mattress stitch. You will find a few increases at the sides to make the glove flare out a bit so it will gently fit over your upper arm. The main stitch is stockinette, and you can see just a smidge of detailing at the top of the glove:

The Leah Gloves are pretty long, but you can stop at any length you want and shorten them up or even make them a little bit longer.

You can use any worsted weight yarn you like, as long as you have 140 yards. My favorite yarns to use for this glove were Cascade Venezia Worsted, shown above in grey, and Rittenhouse Merino 5-ply by Manos del Uruguay shown in reddish purple. But really, pick out any worsted weight or heavy DK weight yarn you want, and you will be just fine!

You can wear the gloves all stretched out over your hand and forearm, or scrunched up to shorten them a bit.

Isn't Adrienne doing such a good job modeling the gloves?

To download the pattern, simply click on the link below:

And for those who are wondering what gorgeous hat Adrienne is wearing, it is the Cabled Beret pattern by Debbie Bliss.

These gloves are named after Leah, who works at Close Knit. She has such a straight forward and no-nonsense character and I simply love that about her.

Hope you like knitting these!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Debbie Bliss For Fall

Debbie Bliss has debuted two yarns this fall with accompanying pattern books.

First up, we have Glen, a bulky marled merino/alpaca blend. A marled yarn is formed by winding together plies of different colors to create one strand of yarn. If the plies used are similar in color, the resulting yarn is subtle and the colors blend together easily creating a tweedy effect as seen below.

If the colors are dramatically different, the yarn is more vibrant and the colors pop.

In addition to the marled construction, Glen also features tonal gradations over the length of the ball. As you knit, the subtle colors changes add depth and interest to your finished product. The designs in the Glen pattern book really highlight the unusual features of this yarn. Next up, Andes is a silk/alpaca blend. The colors are rich and vibrant, and the yarn feels like water in your hands.
The Andes pattern book includes several cabled designs, but I was drawn to the moss stitch jacket and the simple ribbed top shown below. In addition, we have several new pattern books featuring Debbie Bliss' yarns as well as the the fall edition of the Debbie Bliss Magazine. If you are a fan, come down and check out the latest offerings from this popular designer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Free pattern: Miss Violet

Let's welcome Nancy Ricci back to Close Knit, even if it is just online! For more Nancy, please hop on over to her blog Getting Purly With It.

I can hardly believe it has been 6 months ago since I left Portland and also Close Knit. I miss being at the yarn shop and I miss seeing what everybody is working on.
So you can imagine that I am so very happy that Sally has given me the opportunity to write for the Close Knit blog every once in a while.

This way, I can still feel connected with you all, and for that I am very thankful!

Today I would like to share a sweet little pattern called Miss Violet. As you can see in the picture, it is an elegant and light cowl made out of one ball of Rowan Kidsilk Aura.

This piece is knitted flat and then later seamed with the mattress stitch. Needle size US10 is used and that of course makes for a quick project!

A variation of the feather and fan stitch pattern is applied, and the soft and gentle curves of this famous lace pattern never fail to enchant.

I have made this cowl in many different colors, and have enjoyed wearing them over and over again. The soft mohair is very light and provides for gentle warmth!

Also, this is just the perfect gift project. Perhaps a loved one would be happy to receive this sweet accessory for Christmas?

To download the pattern, simply click on the link below:

This elegant cowl is named after a graceful cat named Violet.

She is so very lady like, walks around with dignity and is soft and fuzzy, you just want to pet her all day. That is, if she lets you...

I hope you will enjoy knitting Miss Violet!

Hair and make up by K. Sommerville, Gingersuite Salon

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's Raining!

Don't tell anyone, but I love the rain and the clouds. The damp, cool weather gets me thinking about piling on the wooly layers and knitting in front of a movie or in the company of friends. The lower temperatures also mean that some big holidays are lurking around the corner. If you like to make gifts for people in your life, you might be interested in Joelle Hoverson's newest collection, More Last Minute Knitted Gifts.
As in the original Last Minute Knitted Gifts, the projects are divided up by how many hours they take to complete. While Joelle's time estimates might seem a bit optimistic, the projects are lovely. There are ideas for everyone on your list.
Those of you who are familiar with Joelle's work from The Purl Bee will recognize her impeccable taste and eye for color and detail. She includes projects for a wide range of skill levels, but the finished products always look impressive and will carry you through many occasions.
Joelle uses luxurious yarns, many of which we carry at Close Knit, so you can be sure that you are gifting someone a really special handknit treat. If it's time to move beyond the standard scarf gift this year, take a look through this book. Your gift recipients will thank you for it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Love for the Lana Glove

When Nancy and I used to work together, we often chatted about how people reacted when they found out we were knitters. It seems that a lot of folks can't let go of the childhood memories of scratchy scarves, ugly mittens, or hats with too-tight brims that left you itchy, uncomfortable, and often embarrassed on the playground. I can't blame them. I had my share of Grandma-knit items that were far from stylish or flattering. Well, fortunately, things have changed. A lot.

At Close Knit, we can thank Nancy for some of that welcome update to our hand-knitted style. Nancy designs accessories using soft and luxurious yarns for knitters of every skill level. She has given us many fashionable accessories, including the popular Sally Glove and Hat and numerous free patterns available on her blog. Nancy's newest free pattern release, the Lana Glove, fits perfectly into her collection.

As with all of Nancy's glove patterns, these are knit flat and seamed up the side, eliminating the need for double-pointed needles. The lace pattern is very simple, and Nancy writes everything out very clearly, so even the novice knitter can tackle these gorgeous gloves successfully.

Knit with just one skein of Cascade Venezia Worsted, a soft and shiny merino and silk blend, the Lana Glove would be a perfect gift or a special treat for yourself. We just received a huge box of Venezia, and I believe we currently have almost 25 shades to choose from. This yarn soaks up the dye, so the colors are rich and deep like jewels.

While my daily life is far from glamorous, this little fingerless glove makes me feel like a movie star every time I try it on. And that is so much better than itchy and humiliated on the playground.

Nancy will be sharing more of her newest releases here on the Close Knit blog in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned for her guest posts and see what fabulous new offerings she has for us!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Swirl Shawl

JoJoland's Swirl Shawl has a bit of a cult following. We often have trouble keeping the pattern in stock. Knit with JoJoland Melody Superwash, the design takes advantage of the yarn's gradual color changes. Although the final shawl looks as if it is comprised of dozens of medallions sewn together, the whole thing actually knits up in one piece. The shawl version uses five balls of Melody, and the scarf version included in the same pattern uses just three. The lace pattern is deceptively simple, and the final result is certainly eye-catching. We have a nice stock of Melody at the shop right now, including some really beautiful, rich colors. I like the red to dark brown the best (#18), but the deep purpley-blue (#12) is a close second for me.
In addition to the Swirl Shawl, we have several other patterns written for Melody, including Hidden Squares, which also plays up the color changes in the yarn.
Any of these would be a lovely gift, either as a finished knitted scarf or as a kit for a knitter you love. Stop by to check out the samples and admire the yarn and new patterns before they disappear again.