Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Knitbot Trunkshow.

Yes, Maggie's gone, but the excitement continues!
trunk show samples (more designs on the table behind)
Hannah Fettig's trunk show arrived in the shop on Monday. She's the designer behind Knitbot and the Maine end of Coastal Knits. We've featured a few of her patterns in the shop for months now - great patterns like the Featherweight Cardigan, Contented Cardi and Wispy Cardi - and now that we have her trunk show, you can see the designs knit up and try them on!

I spent a bit of my time in the shop yesterday doing just that. Here are my hands down favorites - the ones I would cast on right away to knit for myself (if only my Christmas knitting were done!). All of these designs are knit seamlessly, and with the exception of the Sycamore Vest, they're top-down raglans, which means they're also easy to fit.

we're not sure about the bird applique!
 The Trail Jacket  features an A-line silhouette and 3/4 (how about changing these to bracelet?) length sleeves. Knit in a heavy worsted/aran yarn, we suggest Spud&Chloe Sweater, Rowan Felted Tweed Aran or Kathmandu. We would also add a button to the neckband.

the pattern offers two options for the placing the back cable detail - across the waist or across the shoulders
 The Contented Cardi features half-sleeves (which can be easily shortened or lengthened), the super-popular elongated and drape-y fronts, and a subtle cable across the back.  My favorite yarn for this pattern is AslanTrends Llama Mulberry Silk which has a lovely drape, but it would also work well in Berroco Ultra Alpaca, Cascade 220 or the Madelinetosh DK or Merino DK.

The Lightweight Pullover  I wasn't prepared to love this one but I do! It reminds me of those very-favorite pullovers I had when I was in college...they were easy to wear, went with everything, and kept me just-a-bit warm. Perfect for our southern winters! The sample is knit in Classic Elite Fresco, one of those under-appreciated yarns. It's a sport-weight wool/alpaca/angora blend...easy to knit with, blooms beautifully and comes in every color. Or of you're wanting to splurge, how about the Fibre Company's Road to China Light. or Madelinetosh Pashmina.

The Sycamore Vest. This came across my radar when it was first released, but a few of the comments on Ravelry made me pause about knitting it. Here's the great thing about trying on a sample! I LOVE the way it fits, especially the way it hangs open, ever so casually....  It takes a sport-weight yarn with a bit of heft to give it drape. I was thinking Mirasol Nuna, but then today remembered the Louet Linen. I'm going to use the Linen.

And last, but certainly not least, the incredibly popular (for good reasons!) Featherweight Cardigan. The sample is knit in Canopy Fingering and it's lovely. simply lovely. If Canopy Fingering doesn't appeal, we have many other options from which to choose. Spud&Chloe Fine, Marian Foale 3-ply, Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light... the list goes on.

The trunk show will be in the shop through December 31. We ordered all the patterns yesterday, so they should be in the shop shortly.  (And we have the Contented Cardi and Featherweight Cardigan and a few others already.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Maggie Excitement. Continued.

Maggie herself has come and gone and we had a blast while she was here (you can see photos of the all the fun on Facebook)...but we still have the trunkshow and a great selection of kits available in the shop.
the trunkshow - one (of three!) racks
La Alhambra - available as a kit
the London Scarf - multiple kit options
Sadly, the trunkshow and extra kits are headed back to Maggie on Monday. But that still leaves a few days to come into the shop and see what you missed.

I dare you to try to resist!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Ella Coat Knit-along.

Kathy posted on Facebook and Ravelry about doing a "big" knit-along in early 2012. By "big", we mean a coat!

Yes, we fell in love with The Ella Coat when we saw Nora Bellows modeling it so well back in November (she was in the shop for a weekend, teaching the Noni Bags workshop).

Now the pattern has arrived and we're gearing up to order yarn for all who are interested.

The pattern has options for a solid coat, a solid coat with contrasting ruffle (that's the option pictured) and a striped coat. Yarn requirements vary based on which option you choose. For the solid coat with contrasting ruffle (as pictured), the smallest size 32" takes 1,000 yards of the main color and 500 yarns for the ruffle; the largest size 54" takes 1,500 yards of the main color and 750 yards for the ruffle. Striped versions have 11 different colors (1 skein of each plus 500 yards for the ruffle).

The recommended yarn is Stonehedge Fiber Mill's Shepherd's Wool, a beautiful worsted wool with 250 yards per skein that comes in plenty of colors (check out the color cards here).

The pattern is very detailed (just like all the Noni Bag patterns, if you're familiar with them) and includes notes about modifications to ensure a beautiful fit. The coat body is constructed as one piece, the sleeves are knit separately and then sewn in. (and even given my bias toward seamless construction, I'm going to give this one a try!)

...the hardest part is going to be choosing the color(s)! I'm thinking about a brown body with an oatmeal ruffle. or maybe an oatmeal body with a brown ruffle. or maybe purple and green like the pattern shows. What colors would you choose?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Off to a Slow Start.

...but a good one!  Three of us started the Rustling Leaves Beret tonight. Yes, it's a slow start - 144 stitches in 1x1 rib on a small needle isn't quick!
not even an inch of ribbing to show for our time! (and how 'bout all those Starbucks cups??!!)
Project notes: we're all using a size 1 16" circular needle (and at least two of us used about a 60" tail to cast on those 144 stitches :-) Please note that the pattern suggests a size 2 needle; we went down one size to ensure a snug fit for the brim. We are planning to switch to size 3 needles (as the pattern suggests) for the body of the beret.

It's not too late to join in the fun! We'll be knitting at the shop tomorrow afternoon - please join us!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rustling Leaves Beret KAL.

Can you believe it's November already? Can you believe Starbucks already has their Christmas cups? Yes, and if you're like a lot of knitters, you're thinking about knitting gifts.

So our next knit along is a cute beret that should knit up quickly. We're going to knit the Rustling Leaves Beret, designed by Alana Dakos, and included in the super-popular Coastal Knits book. We think this beret would make a lovely gift*.

It takes just 175 yards of fingering weight yarn and suggests Madelinetosh Sock (395 yards). That's right - a skein makes two! So find a friend and a skein you both love and make plans to join us!
close-up of the claudia handpaints fingering (top) and tosh merino light (bottom)
Of course any fingering weight yarn would work and we have plenty of other options in all kinds of colors.
tosh merino light, claudia handpaints (175 yds = a single skein project), madtosh sock
We're going to cast-on at Knit Night this week (Thursday, November 10) and we'll continue knitting Friday afternoons during our "normal" KAL time.

(*and of course we think it's fine if you knit this one for yourself!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Knitters for Peace.

...apparently I haven't posted here before about our wonderful charity knitting/knitters. I searched the blog for "charity" and "tuesday" and came up empty. I did, however, find a wall photo on Facebook (and I hope that link works). I feel terrible about that...not only because the ladies who show up week in and week out are what make Tuesdays a great day to work in the shop, but mostly because they create such beautiful works of art. for charity.

They call themselves Knitters for Peace. Most would call them angels. Here's a sampling of the latest hundred or so hats they've created to donate to Christian City Children's Village and the Mt Bethel United Methodist Homeless Ministry.
this is the "pile" - there were two more bags full sitting off to the side when I took this photo
see what I mean about works of art? look at the lovingcare that went into the details on this hat!
I had to try this one on!
 Would you like to join in? the only thing required is your time and bit of knitting knowledge. Theresa donates the yarn - if you know how to cast-on, knit and purl, we'll make sure you learn the rest of what's required to knit a hat! We'd love to have you!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Maggiknits Weekend.

...if you receive our newsletter, you're already in the know about this special event (and my apologies for a repeat!). but if you don't (oh, and you should! please visit our shop's homepage to subscribe - it's the "join our email list" link at the bottom),

we have an exciting announcement!

We will be hosting Maggie Jackson at the shop for three days of fun including a fashion show and workshops. Mark your calendars!! December 2, 3 & 4.

In Theresa's own words:
"If you have been to Stitches, you know it's often difficult to even get close to the booth hosting Maggie and Maggiknits. I have experienced it myself at Stitches and Market and I’ll tell you why it’s so hard... Her garments are different, eclectic, statement pieces – like the kind of special wardrobe pieces that you would find in wonderful boutiques that are now few and far between. They are high style but very wearable and hugely fun to create."
We're starting off Maggiknits Weekend with a fashion show on Friday night and then we'll host two days of workshops on Saturday and Sunday. See below for details. Reservations are required for all three events - call the shop (770) 998-3483 to reserve your space (or visit us in person - we always love to see our customers)!

Friday Night Fashion Show - December 2, 2011
Refreshments 6:00 pm
Fashion Show 6:45 pm
Tickets: $10

Please join us for an informal Fashion Show presented by Maggie. There will be approximately 40 designs for your review. Refreshments will be provided starting at 6:00 pm followed by the Fashion Show at 6:45 pm. Space is limited and tickets must be purchased in advance.

Saturday "Oh No...Not Another Scarf" Workshop - December 3, 2011
10:00 am to 4:30 pm
Cost: $125 includes lunch and materials fee (enough materials for a project)

By the end of this class, Maggie hopes the piece you make will NOT go towards a scarf but to one of the other design options she will show including a table-runner, a pillow, a purse, a shawl a wall hanging, etc. Maggie will have you thinking 'outside of the box' by making holes in your work, cutting yarn in the middle of a row, just to retie leaving knots to the front of the work, joining her re-known tubes and working a Ladder Stitch. She will also show some finishing techniques for the project. Maggie will offer her advice on what she has learned from being a Fashion Designer doing Ready-to-Wear for 25 years, selling to well-known high end department stores and having a staff of 45 knitters. Samples of these stitches will be shown on garments to stretch your creative thinking. (Bring Needles size 7 or 8 US, preferably wooden, bamboo or plastic to work with the linen and other yarns and scissors.)

Sunday "Wearable Art" Workshop - December 4, 2011
10:00 am to 4:30 pm
Cost: $125 includes lunch and materials fee (enough materials for a project)

This class is a combination of various small squares which can be put together after class to make a scarf or put towards a larger project. We will make knitted and fabric bows on a square, a ruffle stitch square with a tube and 2 colored picot tube, knotting yarns to make a loopy stitch, to name a few. Samples of these stitches will be shown on garments to stretch your creative thinking. (Bring Needles size 7 or 8 US, preferably wooden, bamboo or plastic to work with the linen and other yarn and scissors.)

Following on the "weekend" theme, we are offering a $25 discount if you attend both the Saturday and Sunday workshops. Total cost to attend both sessions will be $225.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bad News and Good News.

Bad News first:

Theresa received a note from Susie Gibbs this morning saying that she's sick and won't be able to be at the shop tomorrow. We're working to reschedule and we'll let you know as soon as we have a new date.

Good News last:

We were planning a party, and we're going to have one anyway! Bring your knitting and let's have fun in spite of the Bad News.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Susie Gibbs in Person!

three yarns and three supporting pattern books
Yes! the person behind Juniper Moon Farms will be at the shop - in person! - next week. Tuesday, October 11, from 5-8pm. We love her story and (love love!) her yarns and the opportunity to meet her "for reals" is...simply priceless.

Please plan to stop by.

Tuesday, October 11
fabulous company and luscious yarns, refreshments (and wine)
no charge

If you've started a Juniper Moon project - or have one in your queue, all the better. Please share! (and if you haven't. beware. it's enticing for sure)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Creature Comforts Modifications.

As promised! ... and barely in under the "promise" wire because I kept thinking I'd be able to have my own project cast on for a photo.  Not gonna happen and I finally admitted it at 6:00 pm tonight. So this is a photo-less blog post. Bear with me!

In response to feedback from the 250+ knitters who came before us on this project, our suggested modifications are to:

1. remove the pocket; and
2. knit the main body ribbing in the round.

Assuming y'all can figure out how to not knit the pocket, the rest of this deals with the main body ribbing. We were initially planning a provisional cast-on, moving straight into the main body (and the cable chart) and then joining the provisional cast-on stitches to the live stitches at the end to knit the ribbing. But we saw a few project comments about the finished shrug falling off the shoulders. That made us think that a more stable edge might be better.  Yep, that means we're going to pickup stitches all around the main body to knit the ribbing (after we knit the main piece and seam the underarms).

I'll definitely post photos soon, but for now, if you want to get started, this means you need to cast on (long tail cast on is fine) and immediately move to the Cable Chart. The first row will be a wrong side row. (and despite what the chart says at the top of page 8 - the chart is read from left to right on a wrong side row - just like every other chart you've ever read!)  ...and don't forget to adjust your length measurements to account for not having that 1-1/2 inches of ribbing at the beginning.

I know a few folks have started - it would be great to see works-in-progress (especially since I don't have one to share!). Please post photos in Ravelry to share in our group, or on Facebook.

Happy Knitting (and Happy FALL weekend!!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What the UPS Man Brings.

I've posted before about my love for the UPS man who services the Cast-on Cottage route. Truly, a yarn store must deserve a special rating. Remember the day we had 29-ish boxes delivered? yeah. we're a tough crowd.

I always get a little twinge of excitement in my stomach when I pull up to the shop and see the truck.

and then I read the labels on the boxes sitting in the foyer. yesterday was a home run!

Yes, two boxes (50+ pounds if you're weighing, but really, ladies don't weigh do they?!) of madelinetosh. our latest shipment of vintage, tosh dk, pashmina and the new "sport" are now checked in, stocked and ready to knit.
dusk, well water, magnolia leaf, byzantine and antique lace
cousteau, well water and smokey orchid
We have new colorways - magnolia leaf and antique lace! - and tried and true oldies - byzantine, well water, dusk composition book gray. (and more) And of course, it's madelinetosh - it's all lovely!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Creature Comforts Cardi.

aka our latest "project crush". And oh my, I'm onto something new here - I just googled "project crush" so I could link in a definition and got nothing useful back! In short, this is a project that we fall in love with, often at first sight, and will daydream about, and then do all sorts of crazy things - like setting aside holiday knitting?! - to cast-on.

In any event - this is it, the Creature Comforts Cardi. A madelinetosh pattern that is available in the shop or online.

It seems like we might be in a new phase of crushing on projects - our Nantucket Vest KAL being the first - that are part accessory, part garment, fun to knit and flattering on many different shapes and sizes. I hope it continues. Because even if it's not an official KAL, we all know it's more fun to knit along!

click the photo to see it bigger!
(and then click your brower's back button to return to this post)
First up - yarn suggestions.  The pattern suggests madelinetosh vintage, a worsted weight, washable merino. It's a lovely yarn and we have project quantities in oodles of colors (and another shipment on the way). Vintage suggests a gauge of 18-20 st/4 in and the project requires 18. Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted is a great match. It's also a worsted weight washable wool in very pretty colors, with similar yardage. Thinking a bit outside the box, we also have two Cascade worsted merino/alpaca blends - Eco Duo (70% alpaca/30% merino) and Eco Cloud (70% merino/30% alpaca) that suggest 18 st/4in. These yarns come in gorgeous neutral/natural colorways - the Duo are blends of two colors and the Cloud are heathered - that would show off the stunning cable panel on the back and work up into that "throw on anytime/go with anything" cardi. The alpaca blend seems like it would lend a nice drape to the project, as long as you take into account that it might grow.

I've chosen Eco Cloud for my project. I swatched today (and wet-blocked my swatch :-) and am pleasantly surprised to be on stitch gauge with the recommended size 9 needle - I can't remember the last time I knit a sweater on size 9 needles! My row gauge is 1/4 row off - I'm getting 5-3/4 rows/in and the pattern requires 6. I don't think this is going to be an issue. I'm moving forward with the size 9's!
...knitting with the Eco Cloud is like a dream - soft, flexible...and fast!
We've chatted a bit in the shop about pattern modifications...I'll post about those next week.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, or want to join in, please leave a comment here or in our Ravelry group. I've started a new thread for this project.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hoppin' in Style.

My last post didn't generate a lot of any feedback, but after working a 6+ hour shift in the shop today, I know there are a LOT of shop hoppers!

And no offense to any of the others (really - it was a pleasure to meet you and I do hope you'll come back to visit!), but these two were my favorites. They arrived with big smiles on their faces - Cast-on Cottage being shop #7 on their list! - and had these great bags to store their newly acquired stash...
Robin and Donna, with the shop hop bags that Donna created (her pictures are much better than mine!)
and passport portfolios to record today*'s journey.

(and they happily agreed to be photographed for our blog - THANK YOU!!)

*Yes, they are planning to turn in their completed - all NINE shops! - passports at The Whole Nine Yarns this evening. They said they set off at 8 a.m. this morning, visited the shop that was farthest away first and enjoyed a picnic lunch in Duluth. They seemed well-matched for such an adventure - we wish them the best in the grand prize drawing!

P.S. Even if you don't think you can make all nine shops, it's still worth buying the passport (remember, it's just $1) and getting it stamped at the shop - you only need to spend $10 to get a stamp. Turn in your stamped passport to the shop by next Sunday (September 25) to be eligible for all the prizes (except the $900 grand prize). It's the best raffle ticket I've bought lately :-)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Are You Planning to Hop?

As in "Shop Hop"? The 5th Annual Atlanta Shop Hop starts tomorrow (Saturday, September 17) and continues through next Sunday (September 25). Nine shops in the metro area - including Cast-on Cottage - are participating.

To join in the fun, all you need to do is purchase a passport (just $1.00 - we have them on sale at the shop) and then visit one, two, or all nine! of the participating shops. Spend $10 at the shop and you'll receive a pattern and a stamp on your passport. If you get all nine stamps, you're eligible for the grand prize - nine $100 gift certificates (one from each shop). If you don't get all nine, you're still eligible for great prizes.

Here's a look at our prizes (and of course they're great - Marci and I picked them out!)
perfect for a lace shawl, complete with a pin!

who doesn't covet a lantern moon bag filled with notions?

and my personal favorite - a kit to knit the Stacey shawl (and yes, that's the Pewter colorway)
...and our stamp - of course it's a paw print!

Check out the official Shop Hop blog to see all the prizes and the passport for the Official Rules.

And have fun hopping!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Knit Along.

In the knitting world, it's known as a KAL. I've written about them before and this afternoon's session was a great example of what's so wonderful about them. Knitting in a group, be it virtually or in person, allows us to share lessons learned (no one should have to repeat a mistake that someone else has already - usually painfully! - made), tips for and inspiration. I haven't done any research to support these next statements, but I suspect that projects worked in a KAL are:

  1. more likely to provide a positive experience (in Ravelry, this is the big smiley face); and
  2. get finished (provided we space them far enough apart to allow time to finish!).

KAL-time at Cast-on Cottage is a pretty loose affair (ooohh, doesn't that sound NOT like knitting!) We have a group knitting time (2:00 - 4:00 on Friday afternoons) and we usually have a designated project. But folks arrive as early as 10:00am (and leave as late as 6:00 pm - ahem, that is when the shop closes Mary!) and some knit the KAL project - and some don't.

Which brings me back to today. and why our Friday afternoon KAL is a must-not-miss event on my weekly calendar!
Beverly, Libby, Lydia, Kathie, Pat, Mary, Penny (with Holly), Jessica & Joanna
This is the group, gathered at the yellow table at 3:45 this afternoon (thank you Marci for taking the photo!) Nine of us knitting (ten if we count Holly; sadly, despite Penny's efforts to get Holly to hold yarn, turns out she's much better at growling at noticing small children than she is at knitting). Four of us working on the Nantucket Vest. Everyone chatting. and laughing. and sharing.

Not only sharing about yarn and patterns and who's knitting what with what...but also about the Nantucket Vest.  I demo'd casting on with two balls of yarn - a must-do suggestion for the circular part of this project. (and I looked for an on-line tutorial and didn't find one that was exactly right - this one gives the gist - you'll use two balls of your Nantucket Vest yarn and I suggest you drop ALL of the slip stitch when you're done).

And we talked about swatching. Swatching is important if you want to knit a garment that fits like the pattern says it will! Yes, you should swatch!

The pattern has gauges for three different stitch patterns using three different needles. Size 6's for seed stitch (worked in the round), size 7's for stockinette (worked flat) and size 8's for feather and fan (worked in the round). Because the two "in the round" swatches are a combination of knitting and purling, I don't think it's necessary to swatch them in the round. Seed stitch worked flat is really identical to seed stitch in the round (just be sure to knit the purls and purl the knits). And feather and fan worked flat just has rows 2 and 4 (the "wrong side" rows) reversed - i.e., row 2 = purl and row 4 = knit when you work flat. I worked my swatch to use all three needles and all three stitch patterns (you can see an example in this blog post). Suggest you do the same, but it's likely that if your size 7 stockinette swatch works out to the stated 4.5 stitches per inch you'll be fine.

If you're joining us virtually, please chime in on our Ravelry thread. We'd love to see photos! (I'll share one of mine once I'm through with that first seed stitch section).

...and a closing note to everyone who shared their Friday afternoon with me today - I LOVE this time - thank you!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nantucket Vest KAL (again!).

My how time flies! Was it really over three months ago that we announced our plans for the Nantucket Vest KAL? And then a few weeks later, we had to put it on hold because the Tahki Ripple yarn was on backorder. At that time, we expected the yarn in late July. Well, it finally arrived yesterday! Yes, the Tahki Ripple is now in stock in three colors - white, black and natural.

The good thing is that since we live in Georgia, and it's still August, we have plenty of time to knit - and then wear! - the Nantucket Vest before the temperatures drop (but can I say, honestly, if it got just a bit cooler right this very second, I wouldn't complain!). So we're still moving forward with the KAL. We'll cast on next Friday, September 2 - which will allow everyone who's participating in the Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL to finish that project first.

The Nantucket Vest pattern is the in the Summer 2011 issue of Interweave Knits. We still have a few copies available. And if you're not sold on the Ripple, the Maggiknits Maggi's linen is a great substitute. I've seen a work-in-progress with with the linen and it shows off the stitches and the lace perfectly. I had planned to use the Ripple, but after seeing the linen, I'm strongly considering changing my mind!

If you have any questions about the upcoming KAL, please post them here, or in Ravelry or on Facebook. and please - if you're participating in the Westknits KAL, share photos in our Ravelry thread. We've seen a few in the shop and they are looking lovely!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Juniper Moon Farm.

You remember Theresa had way too much fun checking out all the yarns at market back in June. One of her best finds was a new line by Juniper Moon Farm. Susan Gibbs owns Juniper Moon Farm. She left her job in New York City as a network news producer to raise sheep and make yarn. How cool is that??!(you can read her story here).

Our shipment arrived in the shop on Friday and judging by the Sunday Seamless Sweater Workshop's reaction, it's a wonderful addition!
a pile of Findlay
There are three yarns:

  • Willa, a 60 percent merino, 40 percent superfine kid mohair blend in a bulky weight, with an ice cream cone twist and 153 yards per ball. Susan Gibbs says, “I wanted to make this yarn because so many knitters think they don’t like mohair. Superfine kid mohair doesn’t have any of the itch associated with lesser-quality mohair, it’s gloriously soft and has a lovely sheen.”
  • Findley, a 50 percent merino, 50 percent silk lace yarn that, at nearly 800 yards, comes in a ball rather than a hank so it doesn’t have to be wound. “The yarn is super smoothy, with a beautiful sheen,” Susan says. “It’s soft, doesn’t split and it feels amazing when it’s knitted up.” This is the yarn that captured my heart. I bought two skeins to knit Hannah Fettig's Breezy Cardigan.
  • Chadwick, a 60 percent merino, 40 percent baby alpaca single-ply aran yarn that comes in a 202-yard, center-pull ball. “This yarn is so special, so soft and so lofty that you may never want to knit with anything else,” Susan says.

a bigger pile - Findlay and Willa
Each yarns comes in 12 luscious colors and each features patterns by designer Tanis Gray. You can see all the colors by visiting Juniper Moon’s website...or the shop. Of course Theresa ordered all the colors!
the biggest pile with all three yarns!