Monday, August 18, 2014

Shallows KAL Progress.

We hope you're enjoying our summer knit-along for Shallows . It's fun to see all the works-in-progress, but it's even better when the finished projects start showing up.

Pat B finished this one (and has since finished a few more...all just as pretty!)
the first FO!
For this piece, she used a single skein (170 yards) of Manos Serena - a fingering weight blend of alpaca and cotton that is soft to knit, blocks beautifully and drapes perfectly.

She knit three repeats (instead of the pattern-suggested four) and had just a little yarn left over. The blocked piece is nearly 7" wide and 38" long, just right for a single wrap.

One more easy modification (that I plan to use myself) is a 3-needle bindoff to join the two ends. It's nearly hidden against the garter stitch ridge that begins the piece. And it's a lot faster!

We've revived our finished objects thread on Ravelry. Please share your FO's there; we can't wait to see!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Announcing our Summer KAL.

That's right, a knit-along! We've chosen Shallows , a lovely cowl or scarf, designed by Bonnie Sennott, also known as Blue Peninsula.

The pattern is available for in-store purchase (or on Ravelry) and calls for 350 yards of a light fingering weight yarn on size 4 needles. The sample shown was knit with Swans Island Organic Merino/Alpaca and it's stunning. Of course there are loads of other options and we especially like blends that include silk, bamboo and/or alpaca to ensure drape. The Fibre Company's Canopy Fingering (you'd need two skeins) and Shibui's Staccato (also two skeins) would be perfect. The Canopy Fingering is a blend of merino, alpaca and bamboo and Staccato is a blend of merino and silk.

I'm going to play around a bit more with mine. That's one of the great thing about knitting cowls and scarves - they don't have to fit!

I've chosen Shibui's Cima and Silk Cloud, which mixes to a sport weight (a little heavier than what the pattern suggests). I'm thinking I'll use size 6 needles so it will drape. I have two skeins of each which gives me just over 650 yards; that would be more than enough to knit the pattern as written. I'll probably add stitches to get more width and I'll see how it goes to determine if I add rows for more length. Stay tuned...

The KAL officially kicks off this Friday, July 25. We'll be casting on at the shop that afternoon. If you can't be there in person, we hope you'll join us virtually. You can share questions, comments, and - of course! - project photos in our Ravelry group or on Facebook.

Please join us!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Guess Who's on Instagram Now?

...yep! We finally (!?) took the plunge. You can follow us using the button at the top of the sidebar or just search for "castoncottage" in the Explore tab on Instagram.

We look forward to sharing glimpses of what's fun and new at the shop - and hope you'll enjoy the virtual visits. We are also really excited about seeing what you share...stash, WIPs, FOs, needlepoint, inspiration, puppies... Please feel free to tag us (@castoncottage) to be sure we see your posts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Finished Poncho.

Which is really the story of how this

became this!

I finished the knitting on Sunday night (stockinette is great for World Cup matches!) I had a big rectangle of linen that looked kind of like a mess (that's the top photo above).

Monday morning I wove in the ends - there were just a couple that happened mid-row. I always join yarn mid-row if the edge will show. It's so much easier to hide the ends that way. I split the linen into 3 pieces and threaded each piece onto a sharp needle and buried that end into the wrong-side purl bumps.

Then I gave the piece a soak in cool water for about 30 minutes, patted out some of the water and proceeded to block it. I threaded wires through all four sides of the piece, stretched it into a rectangle and pinned the wires to hold it all in place.

I was delighted that the stitches really did even out!

It took just a few hours to dry. Then onto the seaming. For once I wasn't putting that part off - it is only 13 inches! I laid the piece out with the cast-on edge to my right and the bind-off edge to my left. I used a one-stitch seam allowance on the right edge and a 1-1/2 stitch allowance on the left edge.

See how the V's line up!

I had a few more ends to bury in the seam and then it was done. I am thrilled with the finished piece! The linen is so light and airy it's almost transparent.

And the drape is perfect.

Note that I didn't use that fifth skein and I had about half of the fourth leftover. For more details, check out my project page on Ravelry.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Linen Poncho.

Yep, a poncho. In linen. I'm convinced it's going to be my go-to accessory for the summer. At the shop, we've been huge fans of the Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho pattern since it came out way back in 2011. I finally knit my first one last summer and it was a great transitional piece for the fall and spring. So great that I think I need two more - one for winter (probably in the suggested Rowan Felted Tweed) and one for summer. I'd been planning the summer one in Rowan's Revive, but then I saw the new Pure Linen and it stole my heart.
work in progress...
As you might guess from its name, Pure Linen is 100% natural linen; it knits up to create a lightweight fabric that drapes beautifully. The eight colors are natural and muted ... perfect for year-round wear; I chose Sahara (a golden straw color) for my poncho.

If you're familiar with the pattern, you know it's a stockinette rectangle, knit at a slightly loose gauge. The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn, which would typically knit up at 22 stitches to 4 inches, knit at 20 stitches to 4 inches (or about 10% fewer stitches per inch). The simple shape makes this pattern super-easy to substitute yarns. All you need to do is adjust the number of stitches you cast on. If you use a heavier yarn, you'll cast on fewer stitches; conversely, you'd cast on more stitches if you use a lighter weight yarn.

The Pure Linen ball band suggests 17 stitches/28 rows to 4 inches on a size 7 needle. The finished pieces that I've seen are plenty loose and drapey so I planned to try for that gauge. I multiplied the cast-on stitches in the pattern by (17/20 - my looser gauge divided by the pattern gauge) and cast on with the size 7 needle.

You read that right. I didn't swatch! ... and after knitting about 2 inches, I realized my gauge was closer to 14 stitches to 4 inches - my poncho was going to be huge! (and ugly - the knitting was way too loose and wonky!)

So I ripped. And swatched. This time I went down to a size 6 needle. I knit a decent sized piece, soaked it, dried it and then measured. My gauge is still looser than the ball band suggests, but the fabric is nice and I think it's going to be perfect for the poncho.
note that the blocked stitches look a lot better!
For my second cast-on, I multiplied the pattern stitches by 16/20 (my 4 inch gauge divided by the pattern's 4 inch gauge). For a big stockinette rectangle, fewer stitches isn't a bad thing, is it?!

Note that determining the amount of yarn you'll need when you substitute is a bit tricky. I figured I'd need about 17/20 (my gauge divided by the pattern's gauge) of the pattern's suggested 840 yards. That worked out to 5.02 balls. I'm nearly through the third ball (I'd say I've used about 400 yards of yarn) and the piece measures about 38 inches. I bought five balls and I think that will be plenty.

I'll report back once the piece is finished; hopefully very soon - I can't wait to wear it! I'm picturing it over a chambray shirt with white jeans
Poncho Inspiration


...or a white t-shirt and dark denim? How would you wear it?

Stay tuned to this week's newsletter for more summer-weight yarn ideas to pair with this pattern.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A(nother) Mystery KAL.

Has anyone else noticed the growing popularity of mystery KALs on Ravelry? A few of us are six weeks into Rowan's Mystery Afghan KAL, featuring their new Pure Wool Worsted (it's not too late to join, click here for all the details)...and a few of us are gearing up for this summer's hottest mystery shawl, hosted by Through the Loops and Kirsten Kapur .

Here's what Kirsten says about the design:
This year’s shawl will be a shallow triangle. I love this shape for its ease of wear. Since the point is not nearly as deep or pronounced as on a traditional triangle it can be tossed casually around the neck much like a scarf. With its triangular shape it still works well worn across the back as a shawl to show off the lovely patterning. For this design I recommend a solid, semi-solid, or gradient yarn. 
Her sample used 500 yards of fingering-weight yarn and she suggests a size 6 needle. She also says that complete swatching information will be available as part of the first clue that comes out on June 1. The remaining four clues will be released on the next four Sundays, hopefully by midnight Eastern time. If you stick to the schedule, you could be sporting a new summer shawl for the July 4th weekend! Please note that the pattern is available (on Ravelry or in-store) for half-price until June 1.

Kathy and I had fun yesterday picking out yarn. Here are a few of our suggestions.

First up, Fibre Company Meadow. This is a heavy lace-weight blend of merino, llama, silk and linen. One 545 yard skein should be enough (if you get gauge!). I used this yarn to knit Meadowsweet last summer (another Mystery KAL) and love the finished piece.
Meadow in Bergamot
Kathy and Sue have chosen Isager's Alpaca Merino 2, a fingering weight blend of ... alpaca and merino. You would need two skeins of a single color, but we think the gradient is stunning.
Alpaca Merino 2 in colorways 30, 4, 2 and 0 (top to bottom) 
 And last but not least, because we love how it looks knit up in lace, Quince&Co Sparrow. This is a fingering weight linen and comes in 168 yard skeins. Choose four of a single color...or a gradient.
Sparrow in colorways Sans, Little Fern, Citron and Fen (left to right)
I'd planned to use that skein of Meadow myself, but once I saw the Sparrow (and how pretty it looks knitted in lace), I changed my mind.
my choice - Sparrow in Paprika
Don't forget to join the Fans of Through the Loops group on Ravelry and introduce yourself on the mystery thread. The virtual community is a lot of fun for mystery KALs!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quince & Co Linen | Project Inspiration.

Just in time for - our admittedly a bit belated! - Spring - we are so very pleased that our first shipment of Quince & Company linen has arrived! We are now stocking both Sparrow and Kestrel...in all the colors (of course!)

Both yarns are 100% organic linen, and like your favorite woven linen garments, they'll get softer and drapier with wear. Sparrow is a multi-ply sport-weight (recommending 6 stitches per inch on a size 3 needle), similar to Euroflax and Claudia's Hand-painted Linen. But the color palette is softer and more...organic.
Sparrow in Juniper and Birch
Kestrel is a flattened, chain-stitch tube that knits up to an aran to chunky gauge (recommending 4 to 3.75 stitches per inch on a size 9 to 10-1/2 needle). It reminds me of Shibui Linen, but bigger (much bigger!)
Kestrel in Rosehip and Senza
Quince & Company has plenty of pattern support for Sparrow, including Hannah Fettig's Knitbot Linen from last spring. This yarn is also suggested for two of our newest favorite designs - Bristol Ivy's Linum Tee (from Spring 2014 Interweave Knits) and Jamie Thomas' Meander (just released last week).

Kestrel is new this season and Quince & Company has released a five-pattern collection of simple sweaters and a cowl. But if you'd like to dip your toes into a smaller project, how about the Churchmouse Diagonal Lace Scarf & Wrap . I cast on the wrap-sized version  myself Sunday evening and I'm thrilled with the quick progress I'm getting with 42 stitches on size 11 needles!
A few inches into the 2nd ball...it's already more than 16" long!
And stay tuned for a tutorial on how to turn this project into the perfect social knit...once you know how to read your knitting, it's a piece of cake!