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!!