Christmas is fast approaching

Christmas is fast approaching so all knitters and crocheters are thinking about who would appreciate a handmade item. Who is worth the time and energy that goes into a hand knit gift? Who will really appreciate it? They are gifts made of love and time and hence are priceless but will the recipient think so?

I can’t remember a Christmas that I haven’t given at least one hand made gift. I am often knitting Christmas Eve to finish off a gift. I have also made a miniature version of a sweater when I knew I would not finish it before Christmas. It is now an ornament for our tree.

All of our Christmas stockings are handknit – mine by a great aunt and my husband’s and children’s by me. I copied my original stocking but each one is a little different, having different coloured heels or toes. I think they are special and will give a lifetime of memories.

I have given many hats, scarves and mittens as gifts. They have all been appreciated. When my brother was a pilot flying up north, the thick wool mittens I knit him were the only things that actually kept his hands warm. He still wears them 30 years later out working on the tractor. They have had the thumbs reknit but other than that they have held up very well. How many store bought items can you say that about?

My main problem is not starting to knit soon enough. It always seems like there is lots of time, until there isn’t. I always admire those, who in the summer, say they are working on Christmas gifts but it doesn’t seem to work for me. I would probably make it and want to give it right away.

So you have probably figured out I haven’t knit any presents yet or even thought of what I will maybe make. There is still another month and a half to go.

So is it going to be hats with that nice cashmere yarn or maybe some new mittens?

 

Fall knitting is back

The days are getting shorter and the nights are cooler which means fall knitting is back. There are many of us who knit throughout the year but for some their knitting and crocheting takes a hiatus while the warmer longer days are around. When fall returns so too do the knitting needles and crochet hooks.

Fair Isle mitten knit with Berroco Mercado

The question then becomes, what should I knit? It may be going back to finish off an item from last seasons knitting or more exciting, a new project. How do you decide what to knit? Maybe you take  look at Ravelry to see what is new and interesting. https://www.ravelry.com/patterns.

It may be that you have been thinking about a pattern and have finally decided to try and tackle it. Perhaps you are the type to go into your LYS and see what inspires you. It may be the feel of a certain yarn or it may a great colour that calls to you or one of the fantastic hand-dyed yarns.

You could also check out classes are being offered by your LYS. You will be able to see samples of what is going to be made in the class and look at the yarn being used to make the item.

Brioche Knit Cowl

Brioche knit cowl using Berroco Vintage Chunky.

At Rose’s Fine Yarns we have 11 different  knitting classes and 2 crochet classes being offered this fall. http://www.rosesfineyarns.com/classes/. There is everything from Beginner Knitting or Crocheting to projects such as cowls and hats. Maybe you want to learn how to make a sock and have been intimidated by the tiny needles or double pointed needles. If you take  class you will be able to ask questions and learn the tricks to make a great project. Some of the classes will teach you a new skill like different ways to cast on and off and some classes are project classes where you are working on a specific project.

Saltwater Classics knitting pattern book

Another way to get inspiration is to look at new patterns books such as the new Saltwater Knitting book. This is a book of knitting patterns for mittens, hats and socks from Newfoundland. Not only are there patterns, but also beautiful pictures of Newfoundland and stories of life in Newfoundland.

Wherever you find your inspiration, now is the time to pick up those knitting needles and crochet hooks and make something warm and snuggly.

 

 

 

 

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.