Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New from Julie Hoover.

We hinted about Julie's new collection for Manos Del Uruguay on Pinterest a few weeks back (remember?) ...then we saw all the details on her blog. and finally, today, our favorite three patterns have arrived in the shop.
Beaubourg, Palette and Flore
...and now we can share them with you!

Flore, with Manos' Silk Blend in Nickel, Natural, Coffee and Pewter
First up, Flore (because Julie says it's her personal favorite...and honestly, it's mine too!)  , a relaxed fit seamless raglan pullover knit from the bottom-up in stockinette stitch and then turned inside out. The pattern calls for two colors of Manos' Silk Blend (a DK-weight wool/silk blend). It's shown in Natural and Nickel. We also love the rich brown (appropriately named Coffee) and the blue (Pewter). These four colors would work well striped in any combination.  Depending on your size, you'll need 4-5 skeins of the main color and 3-4 skeins of the contrast. The pattern suggests a size 9 needle to get 4 stitches and 7 rows to the inch.

Beaubourg, with Lorna's Laces, Madelinetosh Vintage, Chadwick and Cascade Eco Cloud
Then there's Beaubourg  , an oversized dolman pullover worked in reverse stockinette (purl stitches on the right side) with exposed seams. The silhouette reminds us of Chaleur (Julie lists differences between the two designs on her Ravelry project page here), but with easier stitches and construction (meaning this would be a great first or second sweater for a newer knitter, or a "social" project for those with more sweater experience). The pattern suggests Manos' Maxima, a worsted weight single ply merino yarn that's similar to Juniper Moon's Chadwick. We also think Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, Madelinetosh Vintage and Cascade Eco or Eco Cloud would all be great substitutes. Look for a wool (or mostly wool blend) that suggests 4-1/2 stitches to the inch.

Palette, with Sulka and Voyage
And finally, Palette , a chunky double-wide cowl with yummy textures of garter and rib stitches. It's fully reversible and can be worn doubled or hanging straight down. The pattern suggests Manos' Wool Clasica, an aran weight single ply merino. We love all the yarns suggested above (for Beaubourg) and also Mirasol's Sulka, a lovely merino/alpaca/silk blend and Berroco's Voyage, an alpaca/polyester (93%/7%) blend with a chainette construction similar to Cascade's Cloud. The alpaca would make a toasty warm hug for someone special! The cowl takes about 400 yards of yarn, seven to eight skeins of the Sulka or two of the Voyage.

photoshoot outtake. those flowers always make me smile!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fibre Company Love Continues.

Time flies - I can't believe it's been a year since we received our first shipment of The Fibre Company's Road to China Light and Canopy Fingering. Those two yarns continue to be favorites for projects big and small. The colors, the fibers (merino, camel, silk, alpaca, yummmm), the soft drape. What's not to love?! So we were excited when Theresa wanted to expand our offering and carry Acadia and Savannah, too.

Those yarns have just arrived and wow. They're even prettier in person. Let me introduce you:
left to right, top to bottom - driftwood, lupine, blackberry, wild onion, maple, douglas fir, kelp, amber

This is Acadia, a DK weight blend of 60% merino, 20% silk and 20% baby alpaca. The Fibre Company says
Acadia is an absolutely beautiful, completely original and custom designed 2-ply yarn with a rustic look and soft hand. A subtle tweed effect created by the silk noil is combined with a heathered base and then overdyed in the duotones we are known for, creating incredible depth of color. 
...and we agree. The colors are stunning. And the pattern options are numerous. To get you thinking, here are three suggestions:

image from here
Avery cowl . A free pattern on Ravelry that was designed for Acadia. The lace pattern shows off the tweed beautifully. Two skeins on a size 6 needle. Finished size approximately 25" wide and 12" high. This seems like a great piece to go from fall to winter to spring.

© Gudrun Johnston/Jared Flood
Norie Hat . This pattern suggests Savannah (see below), but it works fine for Acadia, too. Two skeins on a size 5 needle. (I can't wait til it cools off enough to wear a hat!)

image from here
Etched Rio Wrap. Sadly, the pattern isn't up on Ravelry yet, but we fell in love with it when we saw the first sneak peek photos from TNNA back in June. The pattern suggests a DK weight alpaca silk blend, and now that we've seen how pretty Acadia is in lace, we think it would work perfectly. Knit it in a bright color like kelp or maple to make a statement, or driftwood for a go-with-everything staple.

...and now please meet Savannah, a sport-weight blend of 50% wool, 20% cotton, 15% linen and 15% soya. Yep, another multi-season blend that works so well in Georgia.
left to right, top to bottom - natural, sycamore, slate, bluegrass, crepe myrtle, woodsmoke, cabernet, persimmon
The Fibre Company says:
Savannah is a beautiful and rustic spun 2-ply yarn with a crisp yet soft hand. The unique blend of fibers are spun and then kettle dyed, and the different way the fibers absorb the dye creates a beautiful depth of color with subtle heathered tones. Additionally, Savannah is spun and dyed in the U.S.A., and we are proud to play a small role is supporting local textile mills here in Pennsylvania.
All true, and we are proud to support a USA-produced yarn!

As with Acadia, there are lots and lots of pattern options. Here are my favorite two.

Schieffelin Point Shawl . A free pattern on Ravelry that was designed for Savannah. This is a semi-circular top down shawl with a garter-stitch body and knitted on lace border. Love the shape! Three skeins on a size 7 needle.

...and I saved the best for last. Yes, Hannah Fettig's Sycamore Vest .  Five to nine skeins on a size 5 needle.
my incentive to finish the two Ravellenic Games projects I've queued...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eye Candy.

The Knitter's Edition.
the front table, stacked high with Habu merino, silk stainless, bamboo, kits, ...
the table to the left of the front entrance, stacked high with Habu cotton gima and tsumugi silk.
If you've been thinking about knitting with Habu (or really, even if you haven't!), this is the time to do it! I'm delighted to see Habu's Tsumugi Silk leading the poll to knit Kozue:
have you voted yet? (the poll is on the sidebar to the right)
And today someone bought three cones of the silk to knit her second Color Affection shawl. (She's going to follow the lace version stitch/repeats and use a size 4 needle). I can't wait to see how it knits up!

If you're wondering what happened to all the bright cotton that was up front...it's now making a bold statement in the kids' hall.

...as always, you really need to see it in person to appreciate it fully. We hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wishful Wednesday.

This week, I'm wishing for some input. Specifically about which yarn to use to knit my new-favorite scarf (another Kirsten Johnstone assemblage design!)

Let me introduce you to Kozue  (maybe you're wondering why I didn't wish I spoke Japanese, but I've learned that having multi-lingual friends is actually much  better!)
Here's how Kirsten sets the stage:
Kozue: Japanese (Romanji) for (n) treetop.The pattern detail is reminiscent of treetop gazing;
the twiggy branches,
the framed space,
the filtered light,
the susurrus sway.
Oh my, right?!

I actually stumbled across the pattern (which was published a few years back) browsing the projects of another favorite designer Julie Hoover. Come to find out, Julie and Kirsten are friends in real life (and as I type this I realize we are truly in a different age...where friends can be virtual, or real, or imaginary :-). This is a pattern I wish I'd seen sooner. Love that "tree" detail (which kind of reminds me of the twisted stitches in Making Waves, except it's a lot more twisted and a lot smaller gauge). and especially LOVE the yarn options.

Which brings me to my wish for input. 

The choices* (left to right) are:
1. Habu XS-45 20/3 Bamboo (100% bamboo)
2. Habu A-1 2/17 Tsumugi Silk (100% silk)
3. Dream in Color Wisp (silk/merino)
4. Habu N-75 2/48 fine merino (merino)
5. Nirvana (extra fine merino)
6. Findley (silk/merino)
7. Tactile Arcata Lace (100% tussah silk)

Which yarn would YOU choose to knit this? 

Cast your vote using the "Wishful Wednesday" buttons on the sidebar. I'll announce the winning choice on August 21 (...to cast on after the Ravellenic Games!).

(*thank you to Marci for helping me narrow down the choices..and choose the colors!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You Had Us at Petite.

As in Royal Petite, from Blue Sky Alpacas. A new petite ball - 100 yards of their 100% Royal Alpaca - paired with patterns designed to use just a ball or two. Sounds good, right?
our "petite" display, located just behind the front table of habu
...but wait. It gets better.
how cute?!
Just look at the packaging for the patterns.
each little folio opens up - there's a picture of the alpaca (it's even signed on the back!) on one side and the pattern on the other
this is what the pattern looks like, unfolded
If I haven't convinced you, check out what Wendy Bernard, of Knit and Tonic fame, said in two of her recent blog posts. (and for the record, I think Elmo is a Muppet, how about you?)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Color Affection Starts Tomorrow!

That's right - our Color Affection KAL starts tomorrow - Friday, July 6th, 2pm-ish. And judging from the diminished piles of Madelinetosh Sock, Madelinetosh Light and Malabrigo Sock stacked on the shelves, we think this is going to be a popular one!  (you might want to arrive early for one of those coveted seats around the yellow table :-)

One of the (very many!! in my humble opinion!) advantages to a knit-along is sharing tips and techniques. Based on my review of projects on Ravelry (oh my, more than 4,200?!!!), talking to folks who have knit this, and my own experience with garter stitch and short rows, I have just a few thoughts to share. Of course once we actually get into the knitting, I'm sure we'll have more.

First, many have asked about needle size and swatching. The pattern suggests a size 6 for the fingering weight size. I usually like a size 6 or size 7 needle for fingering weight shawls, so a 6 seems fine. And no, I'm not going to swatch - but if I were worried about having enough yarn, or if I thought I was a loose or tight knitter...I would.

Second, the most prevalent modification I saw on all those project pages was about the edge. And making it looser by adding a YO between the first two (knit) stitches on every row, and then dropping it on the next row (or some variation thereof, but the one I just described is by far the easiest!). If you want your finished shawl to have a crescent shape at the edge, I would knit the pattern as written. But, if - like me - you'd like to block that edge into a straight line, I suggest the modification. Yes, I'm going to do this.

Third, twisting the two (and then three) colorways along the edge so it's pretty. This photo tutorial shows the method I plan to use. It adds one more twist to the color change than I usually do (which is what Jared Flood described in his ever-so-popular Noro Striped Scarf).
twisted edge {one}

twisted edge {two}

twisted edge {three}

and Fourth (and finally), a reminder that short rows in garter stitch are easy. You just wrap & turn (think "move the stitch, move the yarn, move the stitch") and you're done! I also suggest hanging a locking stitch marker around that wrapped stitch (or placing it on the needle just before or after that stitch) so you can easily find it knitting back...and know where to start counting for your next wrap & turn.

...off to wind my yarn and cast on. Writing this post has made me lose whatever self-control I had about waiting til tomorrow to start!!

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Getting Ready for the Ravellenic Games.

We've been talking about it on Ravelry, and on Facebook, and last week these posters showed up in the shop. Yes, we're getting ready for the Ravellenic Games!

The question we hear the most is "What is it?"

There might be more official answers, but really, it's a big knit/crochet-along hosted on Ravelry to coincide with the Olympics. You "compete" by starting and finishing projects (see "Events" below) during the Olympics. The official start is 9pm London Time on Friday, July 27th and the official end is midnight GMT on Sunday, August 12. That translates to 4pm Cottage Time on the 27th and 8pm on the 12th.

We're going to have a big Opening Ceremony party at the shop on the 27th...to coincide with our regular Friday afternoon knit-along time. We'll keep each other honest about not starting til 4pm!

Your projects are entered into Events. There are 32 events this year (here's the link on Ravelry that describes them all). Some have firm rules, some are open to interpretation. You decide which event(s) you’d like to enter. Or you can decide what your personal challenge will be and then figure out which event(s) will work. I've decided to tackle one of my languishing WIPs - the Panoramic Stole (remember that shop KAL we did months ago? yeah, I never finished). That fits into the WIPs Wrestling Event (note that the rules state it has to be a project you haven't worked on since May 15, 2012). And I'm going to knit my monthly charity hat. That project fits into multiple events: hats, cables, charity and stash; I'll enter my hat into all four.

Project tags are what make all this work. You give your project tags to identify it as a Ravellenics project, the event(s) in which it's competing and our team. 

The official Ravellenics Tagging Tool is now live. There's a very detailed tutorial on Ravelry - please check it out (I can't do that nice a job here!)  And remember to add our team tag "teamcottage2012" (without the quotation marks).

I've added the official tags to both of my projects. Here's how they look now.
this is the Panoramic Stole - entered into just one event, so there are three tags (the event, the Games and our  team) and the "official ok"

this is the project for my charity hat - entered into four different events..and officially part of the Games!