close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Softknit Cotton

Continuing on with the cotton yarns, say hello to Rowan Softknit Cotton.
Sally has been working with this yarn, and I think she's in love.  The swatches at the shop are sure to draw you in, too.  Look at those even stitches.
This is a nice substitute for the Rowan Handknit Cotton, so the pattern support is pretty deep.  Take a look at the books, Softknit Collection and Simple Shapes Handknit Cotton.
Here are the ones I like the best from Simple Shapes.  There are eight designs in the collection, and they all have a classic, clean look.  Hazel looks like the most comfortable thing ever.  Like a sweatshirt, but way classier.
How about Myrtle, basically the cardigan version?  Pretty simple knitting, totally wearable piece.
I also really like Cherry.  I can see this being really useful in our who-knows-what-to-expect climate.
The Softknit Collection is a little more unusual and fashion-forward, for better or worse.  There are many cozy cables, interesting details, and classic silhouettes.  Of course, I am drawn to the basics.  Sally and I both really liked Reagan.
Cassidy is great, too.  Love that high neckline and the fitted shape.
There are a few men's sweaters, too, like the classic Kenmare.
This is another of the chained yarns that have become popular in the last few years.  The chained construction adds so much bounce and sproing to the yarn itself and the finished fabric.  If knitting with cotton often bothers your hands, give this one a try.
We all know that the Portland weather throws us curve balls all summer long.  Let's get those cotton layers ready, shall we?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Summer? Really?

So, I'm pretty sure this AMAZING weather is still a little teaser, but the cool evenings and gorgeous days have me thinking about my summer knitting plans.  Might as well get knitting before the real summer starts so I'm prepared.  And then I'll be occupied when the rain sneaks back into the forecast over the next few months.

Sally was thinking about summer knitting way back in the fall when she ordered many lovely summer yarns.  My surprise favorite is Berroco Weekend DK, an acrylic/cotton blend with a sproingy texture.  I am normally not an acrylic-lover, but Berroco seems to know what they are doing with it.
The colors caught my eye, the feel of the yarn got me thinking, and the sample that Ann knit sealed the deal.
I have begun thinking about kiddo sweaters, but this yarn is great for grown-person-sized stuff, too.  I think each and every one of us needs at least a few easy-care cotton cardigans or comfy pullovers for this summer.

As an added bonus, this yarn is a screaming deal.  Each plump skein contains 268 yards for just $6.75.  I know.  This appears to be a new yarn this summer, so there aren't too many patterns available from Berroco.  But I have ideas!

How about a Summer Solstice from Heidi Kirrmaier?
Photo from Heidi Kirrmaier's Ravelry shop.
Or a Basic Black from GlennaC?  It's a freebie!
Photo from the Knitting to Stay Sane Ravelry shop.
The Spring Garden Tee is lovely.  (Psst, there's a kid version, too).
Photo from Never Not Knitting Ravelry page.
I have my sights set on a Roxy pullover for my daughter from the fabulous Rowan Kids.
Photo from Rowan website.
The Weekend DK is a little thinner that what the pattern calls for, so I'll just knit the largest size and hope for the best.  It will fit her soon enough, since this sun is making her grow like a weed.

Come in and tell me what you think of the Weekend DK!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On the Needles

I have many, many projects in progress at all times.  Sometimes I just need simple back and forth knitting, sometimes I need a little chart to follow, sometimes I need some shaping and picking up of stitches.  All at the same time.  And in different yarns and colors.  I have accepted this about myself, and I don't let it stress me out anymore.

I have a few sweaters that have been on the needles for years.  I will be thrilled to wear them when they are finished, but I can be patient with myself.  Sometimes I get motivated to finish all of my unfinished projects, and sometimes I just need something new.

I knit grey sweaters all winter (only one of which is finished), so I decided it was time for something with a little pop and brightness to get me through April in Portland.  Fortunately, Manos del Uruguay sent us a box of Maxima last month with some of the brightest neons I could ever imagine existing in yarn form.  I grabbed a few skeins of the chartreuse color and waited for inspiration to strike.
After a few false starts, I cast on Julie Hoover's Palette and started working.  The stitch pattern is pretty simple, satisfying my need for the basic no-brainer project.  But the color and the resulting fabric is certainly mood-lifting.

This yarn is like butter, friends.  It is soft and lofty and squishy.  I have a few concerns about piling, but I wonder if the slightly felted nature of the single ply with prevent it.  Perhaps the textured stitch pattern will help, too.  Only time will tell.  Worst case scenario, I will just have to knit another one in a few years.  If all goes well, this will be off the needles and blocking tonight, and I might even get a little use out of it this month.
Thinking a little further into the future, I have been dying to try Leinen Los, a wool and linen blend from Schoppel Wolle.  Sally made a swatch with it and was really impressed with how nicely it bloomed with a little hand-washing.  It is available in some beautiful earthy browns and greys, but I decided to go out on a limb and try white.
Photo from Annie Lee Designs Ravelry page.
Again, lots of project waffling on my part, but I settled on Groovy from Annie Lee Designs, available as a Ravelry download.  (I'm doing the original worsted/DK version, but she has a sock/laceweight version, too.)  The pattern starts with just a few stitches and then grows asymmetrically.  Many Ravelers used a contrast color to bind off on one long side.  I love the look, but I'm not sure if I want to mar the pure whiteness of this shawl.  Fortunately, it looks like I have plenty of time to decide.
Who knows how far I will get before I cast on for more fun summer knitting?  Maybe it's time for a Lattice Top in linen.  Or a soon-to-be-published Cameron Hoodie in Blue Sky Cotton.  I clearly need a Lemon in Shibui Linen, I think.  And socks.  Gotta' get ready for fall.

With so much inspiration in the shop and the whole knitting community, it's hard to stop myself.  But it's okay...this is a hobby, right?  It's not supposed to be stressful.  Cast on to your heart's content, I say.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Rowan Denim is one of my favorite yarns.  Any misgivings I have about knitting with pure cotton go straight out the window in the face of this beautiful stuff.

As a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal, I am drawn to the whole rustic-turns-to-butter characteristic of denim, and this yarn washes and dries like your favorite pair of jeans.  As it wears over the years, the dye slowly fades to reveal the white core of each individual ply of the yarn.  Any textural bumps will fade a little faster, revealing a beautiful, worn, and loved effect.

I've used Denim for a few projects that are in heavy rotation.  I made a large sweater for my brother several years back.  After receiving it, he admitted that he doesn't wear sweaters.  Lucky me, he sent it back to Oregon to be loved.  It is way too big, but I wear it anyway.
I created my own pattern for this using Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns.

I also made a little gansey for my older daughter when she was tiny, and the younger daughter gets to wear it now.  The pattern is Scamp from Rowan Pipsqueaks, and it will be around for generations.
The purl bumps really pop and add so much satisfying texture to the design, and I have often considered making a grown-up size of this sweater for me.
But there are so many great designs in Rowan's classic Denim People.
Here are a few of my favorites.  These pieces are: Ticking, Bret, Lush, and Paris.

Some brave souls even BLEACH their Denim pieces.  Check out Slouch.

You'll want to machine wash and dry anything you make out of Denim, so it's important to be prepared for the 10-15% shrinkage in length that will happen.  The designs written for Denim take this into account, but you'll need to add length if you are knitting a pattern that was not written for Denim.

We had a knitter stop by this week who was considering making Jared Flood's Guernsey Wrap with Denim.  Brilliant!  Now I want to make that, too.

P.S.  Bolt is having a big ol' sale this weekend!  Come to your favorite spots in Portland for some spring crafty fun!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


If you are less into the history and more into the modern, Knitscene might be your thing.  The designs in Knitscene really target a young and very hip crowd.  I am no longer young or hip, but there are always a few items in each issue that I love.  The newest collection does not disappoint.  Let's take a look.

The Saturn Cardigan in Shibui Sock is great.  The rings at the top are done in neon if you are into that sort of thing, but the classic shape makes it a winner in my book.
The Love Braid Cardigan looks simple enough until you see the back...
Check out the ladder of faux knit stitches up the back.  That just looks like fun.  The Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico is a dream.
There were several pretty pink pieces in this issue, too.  The Sundial Tee is a basic flutter-sleeve top in lace yarn for a lightweight, breezy summer knit.
Been working out this winter?  Show off those arms and shoulders with the Lida Top.  I would use the Shibui Linen that we recently added to the Close Knit family.
The keyhole back is what really sold me on this one.
The Mackinac Tank is knit with Classic Elite Firefly, a shop favorite.  Just four balls for the smallest size.
Do you like the classic vibe of Vine Street?  Looks very Mad Men to me.  I would probably use Cascade Ultra Pima for this.  I think the neckline detail would really pop, and the sheen of the mercerized cotton is so classy.
The Melrose Tank is probably my favorite one in this issue.  Knit in Shubui Staccato, I can see this being worn all year long.  Especially if I use the Jumpsuit orange or UV purple we have in stock.  Those are all-year-long colors, right?
As long as I avoid the bouffant hair look, I bet even I can pull off some of these pieces.  Which one will you try?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Magazines

We have fresh issues of three of our most popular knitting magazines on the table this week.
Knitting Traditions has become a collectible for the historical knitting and fiber-related articles, an interesting cultural perspective on the fiber arts, and spot-on reinterpretations of vintage patterns into modern terms and materials.

Knitscene has become one of my favorites for the fresh, modern designs, on-trend styling, and excellent yarn choices.  The designers are creating wearable and trendy items in yarns we know and love.

Knit.wear is always a hit, and has become a collectible for me, too.  I don't even look too closely at what's in each issue, because I know I will love something.  I even find myself flipping through past issues for inspiration.

Let's start with Knitting Traditions, shall we?  The articles alone would make any traditional knitter happy, but the sweet patterns are pretty hard to resist, too.  Take a look at the Jack Frost Baby Cardigan.
The pattern calls for Malabrigo Worsted, but I would highly recommend Manos del Uruguay Maxima.  I'm using it for a cowl right now, and it is buttery soft.  We have some lovely muted colors, but maybe a bright neon yellow for some trendy baby?

Olga's Learning Socks are knit at a tiny gauge with some intricate Latvian colorwork.  The accompanying article is really cool, too.
These Nordic Mittens for Baby are adorable.  Do you have a baby entering your life any time soon?  A little bit of fingering weight yarn in some nice contrasting colors and a few hours of knitting, and you have yourself quite the heirloom.
The red and white (and black) are repeated in the Ancient Riga Mittens.  These are worked in Jamieson's Spindrift, which we have at the shop.  The Rowan Fine Tweed should work, too.  The more I look at these, the more I love them.
The pattern for the Groenlo Mittens is thought to be hundreds of years old, and the blue and white reminds me of the Delft plates and cups of my childhood.  These are knit with worsted weight yarn, so they would be done in no time.
Finally, the Aran-Stitch Vest caught my eye. I love the unusual combination of the cabled panels and the vertical garter stitch side shaping.  I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it.  This one is designed in worsted weight,and we have so many great options at the shop.
This is just a smattering of what is in this issue.  There are sweaters, lace scarves, many socks, bags, and at least one angora tam.  The family stories and historical articles really make this one a true collectible.  These issues tend to go quickly, so swing by if you are into the Knitting Traditions.

Next time, Knitscene.