Friday, December 21, 2012

Announcing our Next KAL.

photo (c) shibui
Yes, it's official. We are going to knit Shibui Mix No. 9 for our next Knit-along. It's an infinity scarf, knit length-wise and then joined - after a single twist - with a 3-needle bind-off. The pattern stitch is a variation of seed stitch, which, in my book is the perfect social project. Really, it's the kind of project that demands company and conversation!

Listening to that cold north wind howl outside my kitchen window, reminds me this is also the perfect project to wear. ...long and loose, or doubled around your neck, or pulled up to create a hood.

The pattern suggests Shibui Staccato and Silk Cloud - one strand of each held together. You'll need 5 skeins of Staccato and 3 of Silk Cloud (or 1,000 yards of any DK-weight yarn).  One of the nice things about Shibui is that the different yarns come in the same colorways.

How about pink?
colorway nude
or green?
colorway apple

or teal?
colorway fjord
We'll be casting on (with a provisional cast-on - here's my favorite) two weeks from today. That's Friday, January 4, 2013 around 2pm.

Hope you'll join us!
I'm ready...once I spend some time with the ball-winder!

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Lessons from the Yellow Table.

I heard an interesting bit on the latest Yarniacs podcast about "knitting lessons learned in 2012". It got me thinking about my knitting classes, and the lessons we've learned this year.

And then dear friend and former student Martha gave me this.
yes, there are even Starbucks mugs on the table!
That, my good readers, is how blog posts are born!

1. Any tools that help you get your knitting right are OK - in fact highly encouraged - to use. A few of my favorite tools include row counters (I still use the old fashioned kind that sits on my needle or on my knitting), locking stitch markers (for example to remember where you started waist shaping),  regular markers to keep your lace or cables or other patterned stitches on track, highlight tape to keep up with a chart, and a colored pen (see number 7 below).

2. If you're knitting with hand-dyed yarn, alternate skeins. Always. Hand-dyed yarns include everything from Madelinetosh, Malabrigo, Swan's Island, and quite a few others. Yes, it can be a pain, but it's the only way to ensure you don't end up with noticeable color differences in your finished project.

3. If you're knitting something that needs to fit, swatch! You should also swatch if you're worried about having enough yarn to finish the project. And if you're knitting with fibers that aren't super wash, you should wet-block that swatch to see what it will really look like. Most yarns change when they get wet and the only way to tell how your yarn will behave wet is to try it!

4. Substitute yarns based on the fiber content and gauge of the suggested yarn, not the pattern. We're seeing a lot of newer patterns knit at a very loose gauge (for example, a fingering weight yarn like Madelinetosh Light knit at a DK or sport-weight gauge) - if you substitute based on the pattern gauge, you won't get the same drape and "look". Ravelry's yarn database is a great tool to lookup the suggested yarn.

5. If you buy yarn before you're ready to knit the project, put a copy of the pattern into the bag or enter the project into Ravelry. It only seems like you couldn't possibly forget what you intended to  knit with that yarn!

6. If you're knitting from a pattern that was published in a book or a magazine or a stand-alone leaflet, be sure to check for errata before you start. You can google the pattern name and "errata" or you can look up the pattern on Ravelry. Typically, patterns that you purchase through Ravelry (that are delivered as pdf downloads to print) are corrected as the designer discovers issues and errata isn't a problem.

7. Make notes. I start each project with a fresh copy of the pattern (it is ok to copy a pattern for personal use) so I can write all over it. I make notes about row counts (for example, that I worked 12 rows of ribbing on the first sleeve so I can make the second sleeve match it), about where I am - this is especially important if I set the project aside for even a few days, and about modifications I make. When I finish the project, I file these notes for future reference.

8. When you make a copy of the pattern, be sure you get it all - top, bottom, left, right.

9. Read the pattern all the way through before you start. Keep reading as you go. Most of my ripping comes from not following the pattern because I didn't read it!

10. Finishing is a very important step to having a project that looks great. It's often overlooked because hey, the knitting is done. But really, weaving in ends, seaming, sewing on buttons, and blocking are key to fit and wearability. (and if you can't bear to do this step, we have a wonderful finisher, Betty Bahl - just ask the shop staff and we'll get you in touch with her).

11. If you don't like the project while you're knitting it, you probably won't like it any better once it's done. Cut your losses. Rip and move on. (really, it's ok).

12. Know your limits. Are you knitting a complicated lace pattern? maybe you shouldn't work on that while you're chatting with your friends or after a long hard day of work. This is one of the reasons I have multiple projects going at one time. There is always something social, something portable, something challenging (and something that goes with wine!).

What lessons have you learned this year? We'd love to hear!
the "real" yellow table... in action during my most recent class

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another New Addition.

This week, we're highlighting the newest addition to our Malabrigo wall, Rastita (say it out loud - it's fun! or maybe I've just had one too many cups of coffee already?!).

Think of it as the sassy younger sister of Rasta*. Same fabulous colors, same slightly felted single ply 100% merino wool construction, but a sport to dk-weight. The yarn suggests 20-22 stitches over four inches on a size 6-7 needle. And it comes in a generous 310 yard skein. That single ply knits up super soft and squishy and warm...and calls out for a hat or a cowl.

By now you can probably guess I'm going to suggest the Honey Cowl . Really, it's the best one I know to show off beautifully variegated colorways. Cast on 220 stitches on a size 6 needle for a cowl about 40"+ inches around and 7-8" wide... perfect for wrapping twice and keeping someone's neck toasty warm.

Or cast on half that many stitches and make a hat with the leftover yarn. The Madhu Hat is a free pattern on Ravelry specifically designed for Rastita; and it features that same honeycomb slipped stitch pattern as the Honey Cowl. A single skein would make a great matching set!

With the tone on tone colorways, we love the Wurm Hat , another free pattern on Ravelry. This one features alternating "stripes" of stockinette and reverse stockinette that is perfect for soft squishy yarns. Check out the finished projects from two of our favorite designers, Olga Jazzy and Assemblage (Kirsten Johnstone) to see what we mean.

If you're not tempted yet, how about one last photo!

*if you're not sure you've got time to tackle a 200-300 yard project right now, there is plenty of Rasta on that wall. I spotted at least a half dozen Rasta cowls on the needles Wednesday afternoon. This cowl takes just one 90-yard skein. Cast on 59-ish stitches (you need an odd number) on a size 15 or size 17 24" circular needle. Give the stitches a full twist before you join and work k1, p1 until you've got a few yards of yarn left. Bind off. Enjoy!

Friday, November 30, 2012

fino.

Happy Friday!! and guess what?!

We have pretty new yarn...just in time for Sunday's Open House!! It's fino, the fingering weight version of manos del uruguay's ever-so-popular silk blend yarn; a 70% merino/50% silk single and the put-up is a very generous 450 meters (about 490 yards) per 100 g skein (please note that this is like a double skein of the yarn described on Ravelry).
colorway 410
Of course the colors are beautiful. And with that much yardage per skein, I'd be tempted to grab just one and cast on a Honey Cowl (220 stitches on a size 8 needle for a finished cowl approximately 7-8" wide and 60" around).
colorway 407
Or maybe another Summer Flies?  (and I'd follow the modifications so nicely described by raveler thetanull to use up every last yard of the yarn).
colorway 404
Then again, maybe I'm feeling lucky about my chances for a nice discount on Sunday so I decide to grab two skeins... I could knit Veera Valimaki's (remember all the fun we had knitting Color Affection this past summer?) Line Break .  Or another Panoramic Stole .

colorway 409
Or maybe I'm just itching to knit a sweater. (which, if you know me, isn't really all that hard to imagine!) Any of the patterns that suggest Madelinetosh's Tosh Merino Light would work. My current favorite is Joji Locatelli's Boxy . But Hannah Fettig's Featherweight is a classic (and a lot less knitting).
colorway 403
Honestly, even if I didn't have plans to knit this right away, I'd still be tempted... how about you? What's tempting you for the Open House?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Shibui Yarn Tasting.

Believe it or not, there are still a few spaces open* for tomorrow's yarn tasting event. We can only imagine that's because we haven't done a good job explaining what it is. Because surely spending a few hours swatching any or all of Shibui's seven yarns, trying on the latest Shibui Mix trunk show, perhaps winning a kit to knit one of them, and eating and drinking...in a yarn shop....see what I mean?

First up, the swatching.
We've got tasting-sized balls of each yarn rolled and ready to go. You can try them singly, or mix and match. I'm looking forward to trying the linen and the lace.  Don't forget to bring needles; I suggest sizes 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Then the trunk show of the latest Mix patterns (those are the ones on the bottom row of the photo below). It's a perfect opportunity to try on the pieces and to see how they look in real life. Photos are great, but you know it's always better to see knitwear in person.

Of course there are prizes - we've kitted up two of our favorite patterns from the latest Mix release (No. 8 and No. 10) and we just might have another skein or two of yarn, as well.


...and refreshments. You know the Cottage puts on a great party and this one will be no exception.

The fun starts at 2pm and while I'm planning to stay until 6 (when the shop closes) even if you have just an hour or two to stop by, it will be worth your time! Hope to see you there!

*call the shop at (770) 998-3483 to reserve your spot; the fee is $10.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pashmina Worsted.

I love it when I don't need to come up with a clever title for the post. Nope, this one is easy. Pashmina Worsted. As in the latest yarn base from the ever-so-popular Madelinetosh. It's a worsted weight version of the lovely Pashmina, a merino, silk and cashmere blend and comes in all your favorite colors, including the newest ones for Fall 2012.
L-R: rain water, foxglove, stephen loves tosh, mansfield garden party and grey gardens
Our shipment arrived last week and it's filled up* the right side of the back wall.  What a pretty sight!


And it's just in time for more gift knitting ideas (of course we won't tell if you decide to make this "gift" for yourself!)

Each skein is 210 yards, which is plenty for a hat or a pair of mitts and even a short cowl. Two skeins would give you enough for a long cowl or a hat and mitts. Here are some of our favorite patterns - all free on Ravelry!

Cowls
Honey Cowl - this is a pattern from Madelinetosh and it's our go-to choice for a variegated yarn. The texture and the slipped stitches really make the colors pop!
Gaptastic Cowl - another pattern with texture, this time a seed stitch. The pattern calls for bulky yarn and a size 13 needle; suggest doubling the Pashmina Worsted to use a size 13 needle (or a size 8 or 9 needle and more stitches - maybe 200 total - if you want to use a single strand)
Infinitude Scarf - with ribbing on one edge and rounds of stockinette and reverse stockinette, this pattern would work well for any of the colors.

Hats
Hermoine's Cable and Eyelet - love for a girl and this is a great project to learn cabling without a cable needle!
Knotty but Nice - and this for a guy (or a girl...love that!).

Mitts
One Cable Mitts - super easy (especially if you can cable without a cable needle!). This one works well for any of the colors.
Diamond Texture Mitts - also quick and easy...and no cables, but the texture stitch requires a little attention. And that texture might be lost in some of the variegated colors; this one works best with the semi-solids.

If you have any other pattern suggestions, please share them here, on Facebook or in our Ravelry forum. We can't wait to see what you knit!

*These photos are from Saturday.... the wall is a bit sparser now!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

November Knits.

We're taking a break from the parade of holiday knitting to share a bit of inspiration from my favorite book to hit the yellow table since Coastal Knits arrived last fall.

This is November Knits, a collection of 23 designs curated by the very talented Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelly (yep, we've crushed on them before). In addition to their own designs, they've also included patterns by Melissa LaBarre, Tanis Gray, Gudrun Johnston, Veera Valimaki and many others. They set out to create a collection of projects "capturing the essence of fall in perfect style". 

They've succeeded.  

And the timing is perfect since fall is finally here - have you seen the pansies planted out front?

Here are three projects that show the variety of the patterns - cardigans, accessories, lace, texture, fiber...all fun!

First, the Market Jacket designed by Tanis Gray. Perfect in Rowan's Kid Classic. I'm not sure what I like best - the yarn, the three quarter sleeves, the top-down seamless construction...

...or the stunning lacy cables running down the back.

Another favorite jacket is the Cobblestone Trenchcoat designed by Veera Valimaki ... in Rowan's Lima. Lima is a blend of baby alpaca, merino wool and nylon that will wrap you up in soft warmth. It even has a hood. This sweater is also knit seamlessly, but from the bottom up.

The book includes seven more sweaters, a skirt (!!), a lace shrug and a variety of accessories ranging from socks (two), to mittens, scarves, cowls and hats (six), and legwarmers (two).

These are the Spanish Moss Legwarmers designed by Courtney Kelley ... in Canopy Fingering. A perfect gift (but if you want to keep them for yourself, we won't tell!)

See what I mean? Which projects are inspiring you for fall?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Holiday Knitting Part 2 - Fine Scarves.

For our first post featuring scarves, we're highlighting those knit in laceweight or fingering-weight yarn, resulting in a fine fabric...and a lovely gift.

First, Kozue . You might remember this from a few months back when I asked for input about which yarn to use (and then on facebook about which color). Well, I've been busy knitting other things and haven't gotten around to this; turns out this is one time my procrastination has paid off. We now have Malabrigo's Silkpaca laceweight (a plied 70% baby alpaca/30% silk blend with 420 yards per skein).
See what I mean? I'm glad I waited!

Second, another pattern from Assemblage called Hakusa
For most of the pattern, you hold a strand of Habu Merino together with a strand of Habu Silk Stainless; the border is the Silk Stainless by itself. The photo shown on the pattern (and most of the projects on Ravelry) are monochromatic; Kathy knit a sample and used gray and a pale purple. We really like mixing the colors for a tweedy look over the body of the scarf and a defined contrast for the border.

...and finally, we can't resist including the Linen Stitch Scarf . Our latest shipment of Claudia Handpaints Fingering offers up plenty of colorways. Here are a few to get you thinking about fall/winter neutral combinations - with just a pop of purple or blue perhaps?
the pattern calls for three different skeins...which ones would you choose?
In our next installment, we'll offer suggestions for cowls in three different weights - fingering, worsted and chunky...you can choose the project to match the amount of time you have to spend.