Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Dispatch from the Yellow Table.

Sometimes I overthink this whole blogging thing, especially when it's been a long time since I posted*. I want to share something "perfect"...and I get so caught up in all that...that I just can't seem to get it done. So I decided this morning that I'd take a different approach. Something simple. Y'all let me know what you think.
This is the first in what I hope to make a recurring feature here, sharing a bit of what's going on around our Yellow Table.

First up, we're excited about the latest issues of Knit.Wear and Knitscene, especially these four tops, perfect for the warmer weather:

Folded Lace Tank - Pretty pleats and lace knit in Manos' Serena.
(c) Interweave Knits

Bokeh Tank - Another pretty top with lace accents, knit with Shibui Linen and Silk Cloud held together. The Silk Cloud adds just a touch of soft halo to the Linen's structure. There's a sample swatch in the shop if you want to see and feel for yourself.
(c) Knitscene/Harper Point

Linum Tee - ...and Another! This one is knit with Quince & Co's Sparrow...which should be in the shop any day now. That's right! We're going to be carrying Sparrow! This tee requires only five or six skeins for most sizes; it's a great project to try the yarn.
(c) Knitscene/Harper Point

Morro Tank - Asymmetrical color blocks knit in Shibui Staccato. What's not to love!
(c) Knitscene/Harper Point
We're still talking about - and a few of us are knitting! - Shibui. Sandy's Mix workshops last weekend were a lot of fun. Nothing like a few dozen garments in a trunk show to get everyone excited about a new project...or three! Right, that might me! (you can read about my queue derailment on my personal blog -> here)
Mix swatches - that top one is Pebble & Linen and maybe my new favorite
And last but not least, an upcoming Mystery KAL.
(c) Rowan Yarns, 2014
This one is hosted by Rowan and features an afghan designed by Martin Storey to highlight their new (washable) Pure Wool Worsted. You can read more details on the pattern page in Ravelry (here) or come into the shop. We've got all fifty colors in stock; you can use one of their suggested palettes, or create your own. Here's mine:

I started with the suggested 17-color palette and swapped out a few colors to make my unique palette. I've done a few Mystery KALs, but never one for an afghan. I think the format of this KAL might be just the thing to keep me excited about all that knitting!

So - that's it - of course there's a lot more going on in the shop... yarn, patterns, works-in-progress... if you have an hour or two, we'd love to have you stop by. Take a seat at the Yellow Table. Share what you're working on...and soak up inspiration. It's one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon!

*Whoa, February 20 seems like ages ago...and it was in a way. It was winter and we were digging out from snow and knitting all the warm things. And now it's spring. The weather forecast is sunshine and low 70's. A new season is always an inspiration, isn't it?!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mixing It Up.

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Shibui's yarns. According to Ravelry, I've completed ten projects with their yarns, including Heichi (worsted weight raw silk), Staccato (fingering weight super wash merino and silk blend), Silk Cloud (lace weight mohair and silk blend), Linen, Merino Alpaca (worsted weight merino and alpaca blend) and - most recently - Pebble (a lace weight silk, merino and cashmere blend).

Four of these projects feature "mixes" - holding together multiple strands of one or more yarns. Admittedly I've become slightly obsessed with the whole idea of blending the different fibers and textures to create the perfect "yarn" for a project. One of my favorite mix-ins is Silk Cloud. I added it to Heichi for Garance (project details here) and to Staccato and then Merino Alpaca for two Mix No. 9's (project details here and here). Something about that silky mohair, with its fine halo and shimmery core, takes a beautiful yarn and makes it truly stunning. It also plumps up…so instead of knitting with a fingering weight, it's DK, or instead of worsted, it's aran. And that means fewer stitches per inch, resulting in quicker projects.

my Mix No. 9 - Staccato and Silk Cloud
I knit Mix No. 9 for the first time last winter as part of our knit-along. I followed the pattern as written, holding together one strand each of Staccato and Silk Cloud (to make a DK gauge). I'm not gonna lie…it was a lot of knitting (nearly 900 yards on size 7 needles). But it was most definitely worth it. The finished piece is beautiful, wearable, warm (it's gotten lots of use this year!) and stylish. My daughter has borrowed it multiple times, but when I offered to knit one for her but she said "no". She wants to knit it for herself … someday (yes, it's a lot of knitting!)!!
can you see the halo and the shine from the Silk Cloud?
Ah…but she needs the cowl now! So I tweaked the pattern a bit and used a chunkier mix (Merino Alpaca and Silk Cloud, which knits up at an aran gauge), bigger needles (size 10), fewer stitches and a lot less knitting! I was delighted with the project (you can see all the details on my Ravelry page here); and she loves it, too!
her Mix No. 9 - Merino Alpaca and Silk Cloud

Heichi and Silk Cloud would be perfect for another chunky version. I'd suggest size 9 needles and a few more stitches. But if you don't mind all the knitting, I think Pebble and Silk Cloud would be stunning. That mix knits up to a DK weight (which is what the pattern suggests), but I'd still go up a needle size to an 8, and reduce the stitches just a bit.

In summary, here are suggested alternate mixes, skeins, needle and stitch counts. Follow the pattern as written except for these changes (and feel free to ask if you have questions!)

  • Merino Alpaca (4 skeins) and Silk Cloud (2 skeins) - size 10 needle; 52 stitches.
  • Heichi (5 skeins) and Silk Cloud (2 skeins) - size 9 needle; 56 stitches
  • Pebble (4 skeins) and Silk Cloud (3 skeins) - size 8 needle; 64 stitches
Have you tried mixing it up? Which mixes are your favorites? and which ones do you want to try?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beaubourg | Done.

Yep, it's done! finished. seamed. blocked. gifted. and (very poorly! so sorry, Katie!) photographed.

You can see the details on sizing, needles and yarn requirements on my Ravelry project page (here).

I followed the pattern exactly, except for the collar which I picked up and knitted directly onto the neck edge (instead of knitting it separately and then seaming). And it came together beautifully. I especially love the yarn over short rows to shape the shoulders and front neckline. I did think to take photos as I worked them and created a short pictorial to walk you through the technique.

A few other finishing notes:
  • I buried all my ends on the knit side (which is the wrong side of the finished piece) before I started seaming. Note that I joined all the new balls a few stitches in from the sides so my side seams would be smooth. Heichi separates into three strands; I buried each of those strands separately with a sharp needle. 
  • I used Silk & Ivory (from the needlepoint side of the shop) to sew the seams. That thread is sturdy and smooth and made seaming the Heichi almost easy.
  • I worked all the seams in mattress stitch, treating the knit side like the right side. That put my seams on the outside once I turned the garment purl side out. (and yes, that means I had to do a very careful job with them because it's like wearing a garment inside out!)
  • I first seamed both shoulders and then I knit the collar.
  • For the collar, I picked up a multiple of 4 stitches (so I could work the K2/P2 ribbing in the round) beginning at one shoulder. I knit the collar with the knit side facing - just like a regular collar on a stockinette sweater. I bound off in pattern, loosely. I didn't work any special bind off, just loose - but even - tension on the stitches. The collar used a full skein of yarn to be exactly the 6" the pattern suggested.
  • And then I seamed the sides, wove in the last few ends (this sounds quick but it took four hours!) and gave it good 30 minute soak (in the bathroom sink).
  • I smoothed it into place and let it dry. Note that I took this photo early in the drying process. I subsequently unfolded the collar so it wouldn't dry with any kind of crease. (note that Katie isn't wearing the collar folded in the photo above).

And now - the pictorial on working the short rows. We've added a new section to the sidebar to store tutorials like this…hopefully over time we'll have a real catalog. If there are ones you'd like to see added soon, please let us know.

I think that's all I have to say about Beaubourg - except - I wish it were mine! The finished piece feels great and you know silk is one of my favorite fibers. Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you'll consider knitting this one for yourself!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sundry | Tips to Begin.

Three of us cast on our Sundry shawls at the shop last Friday and I know there are a few more out there! Please do share your progress in our Ravelry group; we'd love to cheer y'all on!

I've used about one-third of my main color yarn, so that means I'm half-way through the main color solid garter section. There are 69 stitches on the needles, but the rows are getting noticeably longer; I'm not sure how many stitches I'll be able to increase before I start the houndstooth section.

The only tip I have to share so far is to mark the right edge of the right side (RS) rows. I'm using a locking stitch marker and I move it up every few inches so I can see it easily. When I start a row at that edge, I know I'm knitting a right side row (with an increase at the beginning). Conversely, when I start a row at the other edge, I know I'll be decreasing at the beginning and increasing at the end.

I am nearly certain I've messed up those increases and decreases somewhere along the 100+ rows I've worked. But I'm completely positive it doesn't matter! I am just weighing my yarn and counting my stitches every few inches so I'll know when to start the houndstooth section.

Isn't that bias edge pretty? (it's the left edge of the RS rows.)

If you have any questions about your Sundry please post them here or on Ravelry. And please - share photos!!

…and now I'm off to start swatching the latest from Shibui.

yep, I do love my job!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sundry KAL.

Over the weekend, I started a thread on Ravelry announcing our next KAL (here). And I did get a one "love" response…but nothing else. I can only hope that means y'all are so busy watching the weather forecasts you aren't thinking about knitting?! Of course I don't know about the rest of you, but if I'm facing a forced day or two at home, the only thing I'm thinking about is "what am I going to knit?" (once I've made sure I have ample milk, coffee, popcorn and wine in the house!)

So let's just forget about the winter weather advisory for a bit and start thinking about Sundry. Click here to ooh and ahh over the project gallery . The pattern is available for in-store purchase (or on Ravelry).

Jennifer Dassau, the designer, describes it like this:
An elongated, asymmetrical wrap that combines the warmth and style of a shawl with the wearability of a scarf; Sundry means various or diverse, and this wrap features two colors, two stitch patterns and endless styling options. Cast on at the long, pointed end, Sundry has shaping at each end of rows that grow ever wider. Two colors contrast yet harmonize in solid garter stitch and houndstooth slipstitch sections; the slipstitch is easily worked using just one color per row. A simple picot bind off finishes the long straight end.
She suggests a sport-weight yarn, about 380 yards each of two colors, on a size 7 needle. The finished piece measures approximately 24" deep and 112" wide (measured along the longest edge of the triangle).

The nice thing about a shawl is that you really can knit it out of anything; your finished piece and yarn/needle requirements will just…be different.

Here is Kathy modeling her Sundry. It's big and cozy, knit at a DK-ish gauge. The brown she used is the Lotus Mimi…100% mink!…doubled. And she really does love it… even though I failed to capture her smiling! (sorry, Kathy!)

I mean the details…what's not to love?

Here it is blocking to give you a better idea on the size and the shape (I think that's a queen-sized bed).

This piece is all about COLOR! We really love contrasting solids: black (or navy) and white with a pop of red or yellow; charcoal or lavendar and cream. This one, by stormyk9 is a gorgeous example (and she's written detailed notes about how she did it on her Ravelry project page). Shibui Staccato, Fibre Company Canopy Fingering, Spud & Chloe Fine and Marion Foale are all great choices for solid colors in a fingering weight. Mirasol Nuna and Shibui Cima doubled would be lovely in a sport weight. Contrasting tonals work, too. I've chosen Malabrigo Sock in Eggplant and Turner for mine (that combination has been a favorite since Stephen West's Lakedale Shawl way back in Malabrigo Book 3).

If you want to use a variegated colorway (Claudia Handpaints fingering or Sweet Georgia Tough Love) - and those yarns make the houndstooth section look like a mosaic - just be sure to choose a contrasting solid or semi-solid for the second color. The key is contrast. You want the two colors to really pop in that houndstooth section; don't choose yarns that share colors - you'll get mud in the middle.

Adjust your needle size up or down depending on your yarn's weight - and your personal preferences. I know I like Malabrigo Sock knitted on a size 6, so I'm going to start there. If I don't like the way it looks after a few inches, I can always rip it out and start over! (in other words, I'm considering the first couple of inches my "swatch"  :-)

For yardage, we don't suggest less than about 350 yards of a fingering or sport weight (unless you want a much smaller piece). The designer has included notes that describe how to get the most out of the yarn you have. We do have a lot of experience with this shawl, so if you have any questions, just ask!

The official cast-on is this Friday afternoon (January 31, 2014). We hope you'll join us in person or virtually. If you do join virtually, please share your project with our Ravelry group…and post photos. We can't wait to see!

...and now the snow is falling…I'm off to another pot of coffee and some knitting. stay warm, y'all!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beaubourg | Begun.

I shared with y'all last week that I was going to swatch and cast-on for Beaubourg. Yes, that happened!
going for 4 stitches and 6-1/2 rows to the inch
First, the swatch. I've used Heichi several times before at the pattern suggested gauge, most recently in May, 2012 when I knit Element. on size 8's. I'm glad I knit a new swatch; my gauge has loosened up a bit! With the 8's, my stitch gauge was about 1/4 stitch per inch too big (maybe workable?), but the row gauge was about one row per inch too big. Row gauge matters for Beaubourg because the sleeves and shoulders are shaped with short rows. If I followed the pattern with my too-big row gauge, the 32 rows of shoulder shaping would be 6" long instead of nearly 5". On a piece that's already oversized, I didn't want to go there. So I swatched again on size 7's. My stitch gauge is a smidge tight, but I got the row gauge closer. Now I'm only 1/2 row per inch too big (six rows to the inch). I can live with that. I cast on with size 7's.

This sweater is knit in pieces; the back and front are knit separately and then seamed together. That means the back and front need to be the exact same length. When I'm knitting pieces that need to match exactly, I like to count rows instead of measuring. I converted the measurements to rows by multiplying the number of inches by 6 (my row gauge). For example, I needed to knit 13" before I started the underarm shaping. 13" is 78 rows. Easy!

The underarm shaping started on row 79. The pattern says to cast on stitches at the beginning of the next 6 rows. I used the knitted cast-on and then worked the new stitches as part of the row. I'm now more than halfway (I've worked 33 of the required 54 rows) to the back shoulder shaping.

Love that i-cord along the sleeve edge!

and now that pile of yarn looks like this.
on skein #4 (of 12)

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Tale of Two Projects.

I know it's been ages since I've shared anything here and I apologize. Hoping you'll forgive me when you see what I have to share today!

First up, perhaps the cutest quickest baby project ever.

This is the Winter-baby kit with hat and mittens (a free pattern on Ravelry),
you can see my project and even more details on Ravelry, here
specifically the newborn size, knit with one skein of the Swans Island Washable DK (not even the whole skein) in the Pewter color way, a set of size 4 dpn's and about six hours this past weekend. The pattern is very clear and I followed it as written with just a few exceptions (all detailed on my project page).  I was especially impressed with the earflaps - they're quite clever in that you end up with no seaming, no picking up stitches and an earflap that starts underneath the ribbing to keep baby's ears super-toasty -

and the brioche stitch on the mitts. Of course newborn mitts are likely to be cute no matter what, but still, these are special!

I've got a few babies on the horizon this year and I'm delighted to have a pattern that knits up so well (so fast). Note that this set is for a baby due in February, so I'm anticipating he'll be able to wear it this winter. I also have a few summer/early fall babies and I plan to knit the 3-6 month size for them.

….and now, the pile of yarn I bought yesterday.

This is 12 skeins of Shibui's Heichi in the Sidewalk color way, destined to become Beaubourg.
© Fairmount Fibers/Julie Hoover

I have had my eye on this pattern since it was released (a year and a half ago!) and am excited to finally knit it. I chose the Heichi for two main reasons: first, I love it at the pattern-suggested gauge of 4 stitches to the inch; and second, because silk is a year-round fiber for our climate and I think this design could be worn year-round (or at least for ten months of the year).

I'm planning to swatch - yes, even though I've knit this yarn at the correct gauge three times before, it's been a while and I want to double-check - and cast-on later this week. Based on what I've heard around the shop, I think a few of y'all are interested in the pattern as well, so I'm going to share my progress here on the blog. Stay tuned and please - if you have any questions - ask them in the comments. And definitely, if you'd like to join me and knit-along, I'd welcome the company!