Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Decorations.

In case you haven't seen the shop's holiday decorations - or even if you have and you're just as smitten as I am  - I wanted to share a few of my favorite holiday views.
a very festive welcome
the tree in the entry way
deocorated with birds and snowmen

hanging balls
...favorites until yesterday, when Greer, who won the $100 gift certificate from the Open House drawing, came to claim her prize. and her wonderful smile completely lit up our tree. Congratulations, Greer! (and to all the winners - check out our Facebook page for the complete list)
my new favorite photo of our holiday decor!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giddy Up!

Our very own Greer makes these wonderful project bags. And they're for sale exclusively at Cast-on Cottage.

She has a great eye for color - love the variety of fabric and ribbon combinations! - and her workmanship is flawless.
Choosing just one could be the hardest part.
Unless you're a die-hard fan! (and yes, that's an entire sweater project in there - yarn, knitting and two sets of needles)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Love Your Shop.

If you received the November newsletter in your email inbox* last night, we hope you're planning a trip to Cast-on Cottage to over the weekend to show off the shop to (or escape from - no worries, we understand!) your holiday visitors. And if you're thinking you might buy a skein (or two or three, who's counting - see, we do understand!) of yarn, there's something new you should know about.

Classic Elite has launched a very cool promotion called the "Love Your Shop" giveaway that celebrates the Local Yarn Store (LYS).

Here's how it works. You spend $40 or more between Nov. 11 and Dec. 15 on yarn, patterns or books at any LYS that carries Classic Elite (like Cast-on Cottage!). It doesn't have to be Classic Elite products - it can be anything. You send Classic Elite your receipt, and they send you a free pattern booklet plus 3 mini-skeins of yarn. All the details are here. How awesome is that?

*if your email address has changed since we added you to our database, you need to re-subscribe to the newsletter to update your address. the link is at the very bottom of the shop's website (here).  (p.s. you can also subscribe by clicking the Join Our Mailing List tab on our Facebook wall.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Progress Report on the Turkish Bed Socks.

We started our latest KAL two Fridays ago (on November 12) and we've had great participation in the shop these past two weeks. Admitedly it didn't seem like we made a lot of progress that first Friday - I spent the better part of one hour sewing the two seams - but it was fun and the conversation took us many very hilarious places. Looking back, I guess it's amazing any of us got knitting done! And sadly, since I didn't get a photo to share, if you weren't there, you missed it - Theresa sat with us and cast on a sock for herself.

Given our somewhat slow start, Joanna and I were very excited when we got to the finishing steps on our first socks this past Friday.
my sock on the left and Joanna's on the right (I love the way her yarn is striping!)
We must've excited Sharon, too. Because yesterday, she was wearing hers. Yep, a finished pair (raveled here). And we modeled the photo to match that one on the pattern. Which sadly doesn't show the big smile on the knitter's face, but you know it's there!
Cute, huh? Makes you want to knit a pair for yourself, doesn't it?

And in case you do, here are a few of the "key learnings" from the group so far:
  • The seams up the sides are tedious, but worth it - they add structure to the sock.
  • When you cast on the stitches across the top of the foot, really snug up the yarn across your dpn's. It's easy to get holes (and those aren't any fun).
  • Plan on at least a few extra rows on the foot - the pattern suggests 24 rounds and that is way too short (for everyone I've talked to). Sharon added a couple of rows, I added five and Joanna added a few more than that. The toe decreases add about 2" and you probably want the finished sock to be no more than 1-1/2" shorter than your foot. More stretch than that might be uncomfortable.
If you're knitting along virtually, please let us know in our Ravelry group. Questions, comments, etc. are welcome there, on facebook, or here. We'd love to have you join in the discussion!

...and of course now that we have finished objects appearing, there's talk about our next KAL. Stay tuned...or better yet, comment and share your ideas. Not only about the project (a beret or a cowl, perhaps?), but also the timing. We're game to start another project before Christmas if there's enough interest, otherwise we'll kick off the next one January 7.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rasta Cowl Craze.

A few weeks ago, I posted about this fabulous new yarn called Rasta and suggested a simple cowl pattern (Marian ) that might work. 

We wanted to try it out, so I bought a skein that day and made my Instant Gratification the next. I used size 15 needles because that was the biggest needle I had and cast on 57 stitches (I was actually aiming for 55, following suggestions from other Ravelers, but my long tail was just a bit too long and I added 2 more stitches). I knit until I had about 5 yards of yarn left and then bound off in pattern. I did add the full twist before joining - and that was probably the hardest part of the whole project. Turns out twisting on purpose is tricky!

I wore my cowl to Knit Night and Sharon and Pat (and a few others I'm sure) were inspired. We know y'all have knit dozens of these cowls because the Rasta wall is looking empty! (and no worries if your favorite colorway is gone - Theresa has reordered.) It is great fun to see the finished cowls - of course they're all gorgeous and they work up so quickly they put big smiles on knitters' faces.

But this past weekend, we saw a sight that confirmed this is officially a project craze.
Yes, that's Molly and Louise, who are regular customers for the "Needlepoint Garden" part of our shop and frequent participants in Knit Stitch Night. And yes, they're knitting (and smiling!). The Rasta Cowl. We love it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Crush (and our next KAL).

Our infatuation with the gorgeous Churchmouse patterns continues. We're seeing quite a few Linen Stitch Scarves, all looking lovely - and so different. A few Fridays ago, we were sitting around the table for knit-along time and I was finally binding off my scarf and a woman came up to me and commented about the scarf and said she was from Bainbridge Island, and I asked if she'd been to Churchmouse and did she know that was where the pattern was from and turns out - she was one of the models for the pattern! (she's the one with the really cute hair wearing the green scarf). Wow!

Our conversation continued and she asked if we'd knit any of the Turkish Bed Socks. Well, no, but we love the pattern, especially because they look so cute with Danskos.

She said the pattern is really fun and it only uses one skein of Koigu (that's 175 yards - not much knitting at all!) So the group of us around the table bought the pattern and picked out our yarn and then shared the whole story with Theresa. And she suggested we do them as our next KAL. And I said sure, but will you join us? And she agreed!

We're going to cast on next Friday, November 12 at 2pm. Please join us! And if you can't make it to the shop on Friday afternoons, that's OK - please join the discussion on Ravelry or Facebook. These projects are all about the shared experience.

(ok - honestly, this one is also about making a really cute pair of socks to decorate the insides of our Dansko clogs!)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater.

Jessica is offering a class based on this "incredible" pattern, beginning November 4. We wanted to share a few examples of finished sweaters to give you more ideas about what "custom-fit" really means. The beauty of this pattern is that you can do so many things with it.

Do you want to use a chunky, self-striping yarn? No problem.

Do you want a light-weight pullover with subtle waist shaping? No problem.

Do you want a v-neck and some lace details below the waist? No problem.

The pattern is flexible not only for design elements, but also for skill level. The top-down raglan makes a great first sweater because it's easy to fit (top-down means you can try it on as you go) and seamless!

The class is $60 for four 2-hour sessions. Thursday, November 4, 11 and December 2, 16, 10am - noon. If you'd like to sign up or if you have questions, stop by or call the shop (770)998-3483. There are still spaces available.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Special Coupon for Facebook Fans.

Are you our fan on Facebook? You should be. We just published a 10% coupon. And it's just for our Facebook fans.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Yarn.

It's been a while since we shared pretty yarn pr*n photos. I promise it's been worth the wait. These two even have good names.

First up, meet Manos del Uruguay's Maxima. 218 yards of single ply worsted weight merino in ten kettle-dyed colorways that will make you want to cast on now! And Candi did. She knit up this lovely scarf (a free pattern called Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks ) in just one evening. The knitting was definitely better than the baseball that night (unless of course you're a Rangers fan)!

She used one skein and followed the pattern as written. The finished scarf measures 4-1/2" wide and 50" long. With two skeins, you could make it longer and wider and it's still a reasonable price at $12/skein.

This yarn would also be yummy in a cowl, especially one that has some texture to show off the pretty colors. Maybe this one?

And then we have Malabrigo's Rasta. 90 yards of super bulky merino, kettle-dyed and slightly felted. The colors are what you expect from Malabrigo. Super saturated gorgeous. This yarn is popular for cowls, especially Marian . But what about a lacy scarf, like this one , just out in Joelle Hoverson's More Last Minute Knitted Gifts (we'll have the book in the shop shortly).

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fingerless Mitts Love. and a Class.

We are a bit obsessed with fingerless mitts, and not just because we're knitting them for our current KAL! They also are relatively quick, make great gifts, and add a pretty and practical touch to a fall or winter outfit.

I've made cabled, lacy mitts for gifts, and last year, knit a plain pair for myself; but this year, I wanted to treat myself to "pretty" - cables, lace and gorgeous yarn. I found the perfect pattern in Abbie Tilden's October Mitts - knit in fingering weight (8 st/in) yarn, with tiny cables twisting up the sides (and they even twist in opposite directions on the two mitts - what a nice detail!) and two beautiful lace leaves framing the thumb gusset. I used Spud & Chloe Fine, a blend of washable wool and silk and had plenty in one skein to make the pair. I love how the silk looks in the finished mitts - I have my "pretty" for sure.

The elements I love about these mitts - cabling without a cable needle, charted lace, fitted thumb gusset, fingering weight and size 1 double pointed needles - are also ones I love to teach, and I'm so excited to be able to offer a class. If you'd like to learn these techniques and knit these beautiful mitts, please call the shop to sign up!

The class will run four hours, spread over two Saturdays - November 6 and November 13, from 1-3pm. The cost is $30 (plus the materials and pattern that you should purchase ahead of time). You should have some familiarity with knitting in the round, increases and decreases, ribbing and cables. And if you prefer to knit in the round with magic loop, or two circular needles, I won't make you use double pointed needles :-)

If you have any questions, please leave a comment here, or message me on Ravelry (my Ravelry name is "mere")

Friday, October 15, 2010

FO Friday.

aka "KAL update #2".

Yes, we have a finished pair of Susie's Reading Mitts and they are gorgeous!
raveled here
Joanna knit these with the Sublime Aran and I don't think she even had to block them (yes, her knitting is that pretty straight off the needles!)

She's already cast on for a second pair, using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in a pretty blue colorway.

Also, we found a FREE!!! slouchy hat pattern (raveled here) that mirrors the picot edge and garter/lace. You know, in case you're like me and want a hat to match!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Juliet in Triplicate.

Our first Juliet class finished up on Sunday. It what was - I think - a record for the Sunday Seamless Sweater classes:  four students had finished theirs. And three of them had their sweaters to model!
Karen, Sharon and Sandy modeling their finished Juliet sweaters
Sandy was actually still working on the 3rd button loop when we stopped to take the photo, but that's really (really!!!) close to being done - close enough to get into the photo anyway.

So everyone agrees this is a great sweater because you can finish it. It's also great because you can use different yarns and get different looks - four seasons worth, which is great for Atlanta. These ladies all chose fall/winter versions: Karen used Karabella Aurora bulky; Sharon used Araucania Azapa; and Sandy used Rowan Cocoon. The Debbie Bliss Luxury Tweed chunky would be lovely, too. For spring/summer, we have the chunky Venezia (I used this for the version I knit in May). Or any of the worsted weight yarns held double - or maybe just knit loosely for a lot of drape (like Lieslknit in Rowan Summer Tweed).

If you'd like to knit Juliet, there is still room in the class that starts on Sunday, October 24. Call the shop (770.998.3483) to sign up.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Susie's Reading Mitts.

aka "KAL update #1".

A small but very entertaining group of us met for knitting last Friday afternoon. And in case you're worried about showing up when you don't care to knit our KAL project, you shouldn't be. Two of the four knitters were knitting other things!
Beth, Joanna and Sharon
But Joanna and I cast-on the Susie's Reading Mitts. Joanna selected the Sublime Aran in a lovely shade of gray (maybe the pewter colorway?). She even knit a swatch before-hand, which was good, because she ended up going down two needle sizes. And you know I chose the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a deep shade of purple. Following recommendations from a few Ravelers, I cast-on and knit the rounds before the eyelet turning round in a one-size-smaller needle (for me, that was a 4).

And to avoid having to sew down the hem, after we knit the four rounds following the eyelet turning round, we followed Carole's instructions for knitting the cast-on edge together with the current round (check out the pattern for Carole's Picot Edge Socks - she even includes photos to illustrate! - thank you Carole!).  Then we proceeded with the Decrease Round and the Lace Pattern.

Great progress to share after just two hours!
Joanna and Mary, showing off our mitts
We'll be knitting again this week - 2-4 p.m. on Friday. Please join us for knitting (and knitting along if you want!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Winners for our Next KAL.

If you voted, I doubt this will be a surprise - the two winning patterns have been in the lead the whole week! But just to confirm (and in case you didn't vote :-), the winners are:
yep, Susie's Reading Mitts and Linda K's Yummy Mummy Wristwarmers.

Hope you're planning to join in with one (or both?!) of these patterns. You don't have to participate in person (we meet for knitting at the shop from 2-4pm on Fridays) - virtual is welcome, too (and please post to our ravelry thread  to share your thoughts and photos!). We're simply trying to encourage the "community" created by a shared knitting experience.

Me, I'm planning to knit Susie's Reading Mitts. It was an easy decision only because I have just one set of the absolutely fabulous Signature dpns in size 1. And they're booked 24/7 with socks. I have plenty of dpns in sizes 5 and 4 (see below) to cover Susie.

Susie's stated gauge is 5-1/2 st per inch on a size 5 needle. That's a standard gauge/needle for DK weight yarn (including my favorite Blue Sky Alpaca Silk), but the pattern recommends a worsted weight yarn knit a bit tighter. I think a tighter fabric is great for mitts because it wears better and will keep you warmer. Based on my review of the Susie's projects, about half the knitters have chosen a worsted weight, and half a DK (there are a few who have chosen other weights, but I didn't review their projects!) What choices! I think about half the yarn in our shop would work:
kathmandu and elsebeth lavold on the left; spud & chloe sweater in the middle; debbie bliss cashmerino aran to the right
And after a quick (who was I kidding? of course I couldn't pick out yarn in just 5 minutes?) visit to the shop this morning, I have 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a lovely deep purple ready to go (it's the one on the 2nd bin from the top in the photo above). Please note the mitts require about 200 yds (only 2 skeins), but I'm planning to knit a beret to go with (stay tuned!). I'm hoping to cast on tomorrow for a gauge swatch and I'll report back - I'm also planning to knit the rows before the eyelet turning row in a smaller needle to make the turned under edge fit better. Stay tuned for details on that, too.

I hope there are (at least!) a few of you who will knit the Linda K's (fingering weight) mitts so we can share hands on advice about that pattern, too. Please feel free to speak right up in the comments, or you can private message me on Ravelry (my user name is mere).

Here are the details for the two patterns - please feel free to post question/comments/etc - we really do want to hear from you!!
Susie's Reading Mitts  This pattern isn't quite as old, but it's still very popular. And note that we've got a suggestion about those picot edges that will avoid having to sew them down.
photo from flickr
Linda K's Yummy Mummy Wristwarmers (note that this pattern is only available via Ravelry)

Happy Knitting!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

How Would You Spend $100?

...if you won a shopping spree at Cast-on Cottage?

For lucky customer Marge Licht, that's not a daydream kind of question. Nope, Marge won the Grand Prize Drawing and has $100 to spend!!

We did enjoy talking about the possibilities at Knit Night. I offered up "something fun" and was quickly reminded that really, any yarn purchase should be fun. We finally settled on "a splurge". Something you've had your eye on but haven't quite been able to justify. For me, that would be a lacy stole's worth of Blue Sky Alpaca Silk. What would it be for you?

Congratulations, Marge, and enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fingerless Mitts KAL.

It's time to vote! Thank you to everyone who chimed in on Ravelry to help us narrow down the choices. We're going to pick two patterns - one for worsted weight and one for DK weight - so you'll still have a choice to make about which one to knit (unless you decide to make them both!)

So, without further ado, the finalists:

For worsted weight,

 Fetching  (sorry, but the ravelry project button seems to be broken this morning! maybe it's because over 15,000 of these have been knitted!!) - Fetching was originally published in Knitty back in 2006. It's a fun knit and fast (and the only one of these four finalists I've made -back in pre-ravelry days!)
copyright Cheryl Niamath

Susie's Reading Mitts  This pattern isn't quite as old, but it's still very popular. And note that we've got a suggestion about those picot edges that will avoid having to sew them down.
photo from flickr
 And for DK weight (although many have knit these projects with fingering weight),
Sourwood Mountain Fingerless Mitts  - Another design from Knitty, from 2009. 
copyright Erica Jacofsky
Linda K's Yummy Mummy Wristwarmers (note that this pattern is only available via Ravelry) 
photo from flickr

Please vote using the buttons in the sidebar to the right. And check back on September 29 to find out which ones win. We'll be starting the KAL on Friday, October 1 from 2-4pm (or you can always join us virtually).