What’s On Your Needles – Summer or Winter projects?

What’s on your needles this summer? Many knitters and crocheters put down their needles for the warmer months and only come back to their projects when the cooler weather comes along.

Me? I think I have at least four projects on the go of which 2 are summer knits and 2 are winter knits. I have a summer tank that I am designing in a cotton wool blend ( mostly cotton), a linen, cotton blend tee, an almost finished chunky sweater and a of course a pair of socks. One of the disadvantages of summer knitting is that it is finer gauge so it takes longer but there are also more lacy summer knits.

http://knitty.com/ISSUEss12/PATTgemini.php Gemini Tee knit in cotton linen blend, Zooey, which I have on my needles.

Juniper Moon Farm Zooey

Turtle Dove sweater knit in chunky weight yarn.

How many projects are too many? Even though I have 4 projects on the go that doesn’t stop me from itching to start another project. Because I teach knitting, I am always on the lookout for new projects to help teach techniques or just fun projects that I think people will want to take to a class to learn. I like to have a technique that I can teach that may be new for some knitters. Sometimes I see a project and think ooh that would be good to teach as a class. Other times I look for or design a project specifically to teach a technique.
I am one of those knitters who doesn’t like to knit the same pattern twice ( no twenty of the same item for this knitter) so I have to come up with new projects to teach techniques like Fair Isle. For the past couple years it has been Fair Isle hats- this fall it will be Fair Isle mittens in a chunky weight yarn.

Some knitters or crocheters like to work on only one project at a time. The satisfaction of finishing the project is what drives them. For me, it is learning a new stitch or seeing how a new yarn knits up. It helps that I have to come up with projects to help sell the yarn or would be good for a class.

I get bored once I have figured out how the stitch pattern works. The tank I am designing has reached the point where the stitch pattern is so easy for me that I am getting bored and I still have more than 30 inches to knit ( the top is knit from side to side and it overlaps ( it seemed like a good idea when I started it). So I am already thinking of what else I could cast on, like those Fair Isle mittens. What’s on your needles?

Spring Yarns

Spring is finally in the air and with that comes the arrival of spring yarns. Many think knitting and crocheting is only for the winter months but there are lots of great things to knit and crochet for the warmer months of the year or for those of you who are lucky enough to live in a warmer climate.

For the warmer months there are great cotton, linen and plant- based fibres which are great for lighter garments. Check out all the great patterns for tees and tanks on Ravelry http://ravelry.com.

Queensland Dungaree – a DK weight cotton based recycled yarn

One of the newest spring yarns is a cotton yarn by Queensland called Dungaree. Dungaree is a DK weight yarn ( 22 sst over 4 inches on a 4 mm needle) made out of recycled jeans. The yarn is 95% cotton and 5% other fibres. With 200m in a 100 gm ball there is a good yardage in these skeins. There are 12 different colours in heathered tones with a good selection of neutrals and more vibrant colours.

Juniper Moon Farm also has a new spring yarn out that is a blend of linen and silk

Juniper Moon Farm Pollock

Pollock is 55% silk and 45% linen and has 320 m in each 100 g ball. It wtonaill make a beautiful summer shawl or top. The yarn is tonal and has beautiful variation without being striipey. 2 or 3 balls are all that are needed to make the pattern called Natalia, a nice sleeveless longer lengthed top.

Natalia, knit with 2 to 3 balls of Pollock

The final yarn I am going to talk about today is Ella Rae Eco Organic Cotton which is a sport weight yarn with 250m in a 100 g ball. We have 11 different colours in stock. It is 100% organic cotton with a nice twist and soft hand. Wouldn’t a baby blanket knit from this be beautiful? 4 balls makes this Seraphina Blanket by Andrea Babb

Make this the year you try a spring or summer knitting project and try out some of the great plant based yarns that are available.

Dye Lots Matter!

You may have heard that dye lots don’t matter because everything is computerized now. It is not true. Dye lots matter! There are quite a few factors in how the yarn takes up the dye, so even when exactly the same formulation is used the colour will change slightly ( or drastically) between dye lots.

When yarn is dyed, there are many things that will affect how the dye is taken up by the yarn.

First of all if the yarn is an natural fibre, the amount of sun the animal or plant was exposed to will affect the colour of the fibre. Just as our hair gets lighter in the sun so too do animal fibres. If the season was a rainy season the fibre will be darker than if it was a sunny season. The slight variation in colour in the base yarn will also show up in the dyed yarn.

The temperature of the water in the dye bath as well as how long the yarn stays in the dye bath will also affect the colour of the yarn. The longer and the hotter the water the more dye wil taken up by the fibre affecting the final colour of the yarn.

The amount of moisture in the fibre will also affect how much dye is taken up. The dryer the fibre the more dye that will be absorbed. The more dye taken up the more intense the colour.

Below is a picture of 3 different dye lots of the the same colour on the same yarn base. This is a more extreme variation than what is normally seen, but it illustrates how different dye lots can be.

3 Different dye lots of Biscotte and Cie Bis Sock in Apple Core.

The moral of the story is to buy enough yarn for your project and check that they are all of the same dye lot. Even better buy 1 extra just in case and if you don’t need it for your project bring it back and exchange it for another ball of yarn for your new project.

Full of Possibilities

The nice thing about working in a yarn store is that every time we get a new shipment of yarn in, it is like opening a present full of possibilities. Every box contains something different – different colours, different fibres, different gauges. What colour would I pick from the shipment? Which colours could I put together? What would I make from each of the different kinds of yarn?

Before I open a box I am so excited to see what the yarn I have ordered looks like in real life. Often I have only seen the yarn in an image on the computer. At most, I may have held a ball of the yarn in my hand when the sales rep came in but not in all the colours that are contained in that box. Often I will have seen small colour cards with samples of the yarn but not a full ball of the yarn. Some of the multicolour yarns look very different in a ball or skein than what is shown in the little swatch that I am shown when ordering. I have not felt how squishy and soft the yarn is in a skein or ball.

Every yarn is a possible hat or sweater or cowl. Some yarns are so beautiful they don’t need special stitches or techniques to look stunning. I may pull a package of yarn out of the box and know exactly what I would like to make. We just got in some Uneek Chunky yarn and I am itching to cast some on the needles to knit a chunky hat. Who cares that I have a sweater that needs finishing, I really should be finishing off the sample for an upcoming class or I should finish knitting those socks for my sister- Christmas is fast approaching. The new yarn is just asking to be knit and who am I to deny it?

Other yarns stay in my mind as I look at different patterns throughout the day as customers show me what they are wanting to knit or crochet. It may take a while to find the perfect pattern for a yarn but once I see it, I remember that yarn I pulled out the box the other day. Do we have enough left in stock or in the colour I think would be perfect?

Most of the time I have to be satisfied with seeing what our customers knit or crochet with all the yarns that come out of that box full of possibilities. Often I have to be content with that to assuage my curiosity. I do love to see what everyone has knit or crocheted. There is not enough time to knit or crochet all the things I want to make. Luckily I like to make smaller projects and can try more yarns that way.

Crochet versus Knitting

Crocheters often gets the short stick ( or is that hook?). People often assume that all yarn work is knitting. Those who know, can see there is a big difference between knitting and crochet. It can drive a crocheter crazy if you call her handiwork knitting. Most of us have a preference for one over the other, although many can do both. Both crafts have their pros and cons.

Crocheting tends to create a denser fabric so it tends not to be as nice as a knit garment, but it makes crocheting great for toys. Crocheting, some say is much faster, so it is great for making larger items like afghans which can take a long time to knit. Crocheting is great for making lacy items which is why it is often seem as a trim on knit items. With crocheting it is much easier to change the direction of your work. In knitting, to change direction means having to pick up stitches or attaching separate pieces after you are done knitting.

As far as equipment goes, crocheting has knitting beat as far as not needing as many accoutrements. If you take a look at our stock of needles and hooks, far more real estate is devoted to knitting needles than there is to crochet hooks. Knitting needles come in double points of various lengths, straight needles in different lengths, circular needles in various lengths, interchangeable and fixed and metal, carbon, wood or plastic. Crochet hooks on the hand come in wood or metal and Tunisian or regular. To crochet in the round you only need the basic crochet hook unlike knitting where you either need double points or circulars. Most crocheted items can be made with only the simple crochet hook unless you want your crocheting to look more like knitting when you would need a Tunisian or afghan hook. Knitters tend to have multiples of their favourite size needle because if you are knitting more than one project at a time you need multiple needles. Crocheter can just put a stitch marker in their last loop and take their hook and start a new project.

When you make a mistake in knitting you may need to rip out multiple rows which may mean taking all your stitches off the needle and then having to make sure you get then all back on properly. In crochet you rip back to the mistake and pick up 1 loop and you are on your way again. In knitting it is possible to fix some mistakes by just dropping the stitch down to the mistake and correcting it. This is not possible with crochet.

There are definitely a lot more commercially available patterns for knitting than there are for crochet. I think in Canada, knitting is much more popular than crocheting. In the States, there seems to be more interest in crocheting than there is in Canada. If you are not comfortable working without a pattern then maybe knitting is the more practical choice for you. I think in the end it comes down to personal preference. Some prefer the look of crochet and some the look of knitting. Whichever you prefer, there are so many beautiful yarns in so many colourways that you will never have to worry about not finding something wonderful to knit or crochet.

 

Cestari Yarn for Spring

We have just received our new shipment of cotton yarn from Cestari yarns. We have two different cotton yarns – Ashland which is a 75% cotton and 25% wool blend. It is made exclusively with Virginia-grown cotton and blended with Cestari’s Natural White Traditional Wool. This yarn is very soft feeling. It is marked as a DK yarn but the gauge given on the ball band is more consistent with a worsted weight. We have it in grey and white.

Cestari Ashland

The second yarn we have from Cestari is their Monticello. It is a 75% cotton and 25% linen blend. The cotton grown in Virginia and the linen is imported from France.  The yarn is kettle dyed so each skein has subtle colour changes within the ball making for a more interesting knit. We have a rainbow of colours to choose from in the Monticello yarn. We have 10 colours in stock, from red to purple but also in cream and grey for the not so adventurous. The yarn will hold its shape well, making it well suited for garments such as summer tees. It would also be beautiful as a summer shawl.

Cestari Monticello

Both yarns can be machine washed in cold water but make sure to lay flat to dry. Cotton does not have any elasticity so it is important not to hang a wet cotton garment or it will stretch. The Ashland has wool in which the lanolin has not been removed so you do not want dry clean it as this would remove the lanolin.

If you have not tried any of the Cestari yarns (http://www.cestarisheep.com/ yet, these would be perfect yarns to try. We also have two wool yarns from Cestari – the Tradition and Mount Vernon collections. The Mount Vernon is 100% merino which has not had the lanolin removed so it retains all those qualities that we love in wool while also being soft. The Tradition is a Targhee Columbia so it is not as soft as a merino but it makes great hats and has great stitch definition.

Many people do not associate spring and summer with knitting but with these cotton and blend yarns you can make some beautiful summer garments. Who doesn’t need a gorgeous wrap for those cool summer evenings? Come in and try a skein or two of these great yarns!