Saturday, November 2, 2013

100 Diamonds | Getting Started.

my project, Chart A and the first repeat of Chart B completed
We had a great turnout for yesterday's cast-on, but sorry, no group shot - it was almost too busy to think about photos! In case you're knitting along virtually (or maybe you haven't quite decided if you want to join in), I wanted to share a few hints for getting started.

First, do you need to swatch. Not necessarily - this is a shawl, so "fit" isn't that important, but a swatch can tell you if you like the fabric...and if you'll have enough yarn to complete the project. If your fabric is looser than the gauge listed in the pattern you'll use more yarn than the pattern requires. I'm using Findlay Dappled which gives me about 25% more yards than the pattern suggests; no worries there! I swatched to see if I could use a bigger needle. The pattern suggests a laceweight yarn on size 3 needles and based on my swatches, I think that's great advice. If you're a loose knitter, consider a size 2 (and conversely size 4 for tight knitters). And if you are close to the suggested 630 yards, you should definitely swatch and check your gauge. If you're loose, you'll need more yarn.

Now you're ready to cast-on. Read through the pattern first. Note that the first two rows aren't charted; you work those rows from the pattern instructions and then start Chart A. The pattern also says that the first and last stitches on each row aren't charted. Don't forget to work them! If you're counting stitches, your count should always be two more than the number of boxes on the chart (because those two stitches aren't on the charts).

Use a regular long-tail cast on, starting with a slip knot.

The stitch abbreviations are included in a separate document, linked from the pattern. The group had questions about the SKP (slip the first stitch, knit the 2nd stitch and then pass the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch). This is a left-slanting decrease similar to an SSK (and feel free to substitute that stitch - it's your piece!). I'm working the SKP because I find it easier to work after a yarn over. And I'm passing the stitch knit-wise so it lays flat once it's passed over.

If you have other questions, please ask in the comments or on the thread in our Ravelry forum.

and please, share your projects and photos!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our Next KAL | 100 Diamonds.

If you follow me on Instagram, I hope you weren't too unhappy with me when I posted this teaser photo yesterday afternoon.

In my defense, I figured a pile of pretty yarn would brighten anyone's day! I had a wonderful time pulling the yarns and posing the skeins just so. (and of course that whole effort resulted in a few balls disappearing from my pile - and the shelves - the Findley is really popular!) I understand; it's the yarn I've chosen myself to knit 100 Diamonds. Don't miss this - yes, our next KAL is 100 Diamonds and we're going to cast on November 1 (which sounds like it should be months away, but is really just two weeks from tomorrow - yikes!)

This pattern came across my radar a few months back when the designer posted photos of a slightly modified version of the shawl.
photo copyright knittimo on Ravelry
I loved that it could be modified...and that the resulting pieces could look so different from the original...and that every one of them is gorgeous! But I hadn't thought about it for a knit-along until Saturday, when I awoke to a text from Becca suggesting it. Really, it's perfect for a KAL - the pattern isn't all that complicated for anyone who's worked a lace chart, it's customizable (I love "knit your own adventure" patterns for knit-alongs), and it's a fair amount of knitting which always goes better with company, right?! And for those of us who have knit innumerable a few lace shawls, this one uses a different construction - it starts at the bottom point and knits up.

The designer hosted a KAL on Ravelry last month so we have a few dozen FOs (and a good bit of experience) to help us . Based on the projects/photos I've seen, I am loving the design in the pattern-suggested laceweight and (despite my personal yarn choice - driven by two past frogged KALs - which I am only admitting to y'all) a winter neutral. With Theresa's help, we've gathered eight yarn suggestions*.
Please note that the pattern suggests 630 yards of a laceweight yarn at a blocked gauge of 18 st/4 inches to create a finished shawl 68" wide by 34" deep.

Shibui Silk Cloud (pattern suggestion) :: 60% mohair/40% silk; 330 yds/25 g; suggest 2 skeins
Shibui Cima :: 70% alpaca/30% silk; 328 yds/50 g; suggest 2 skeins
Shibui Pebble :: 48% recycled silk/36% merino/16% cashmere; 224 yds/25 g; suggest 3 skeins
Juniper Moon Farm Findley :: 50% silk/50% merino; 798 yds/100 gr; suggest 1 skein
Fibre Co Meadow :: 40% merino/25% baby llama/20% silk/15% linen; 545 yds/100 g; suggest 1 skein (and modifying to make slightly smaller - like the designer modifications I linked above)
Swans Island Laceweight :: 50% merino/50% tussah silk; 530 yds/50 g; suggest 1-2 skeins (1 skein would mean modifications; 2 skeins would allow you to follow the pattern as written)
Habu Tsumugi Silk :: 100% silk; 450 yd/48g; suggest 2 cones
Malabrigo Silkpaca :: 70% alpaca/30% silk; 420 yds/50 g; suggest 2 skeins

*of course we have more laceweight yarns in the shop; we also have plenty of other lovely yarns that would make gorgeous shawls - these are just the eight we pulled to highlight here.

The pattern also suggests beads, but I'm not planning to use them. Although if I were knitting this with the suggested Silk Cloud...I would definitely consider it, if only to add a bit of weight to keep the shawl in place. We do have beads at the shop and they are not hard to incorporate.

I emailed Theresa on Tuesday that the only bad news I'd encountered about the project was size 3 needles. I knew the pattern suggested them, but I was hoping, especially after Boxy, we'd have a project on at least size 6s or 7s, alas no. I think the pattern suggested size 3 needle works best. I tried 4s and 3s and really like the fabric better on the 3s:

Of course if you use a thinner/thicker yarn or you're a looser/tighter knitter, you might need to go down (!!) or up. The best way to tell is to swatch! really!! these two swatches took me about an hour - and I'm pretty sure the finished shawl is going to be worth that little investment up front. (please note I did not wet-block these swatches - I merely pinned them like I plan to pin my wet-blocked finished piece)

The pattern is available online only. The instructions are clear and easy-to-follow. I am planning to knit my piece as written, without beads. If I had less yarn OR if I were using a heavier weight, I would work fewer repeats of chart B (and maybe of chart D) to make fewer diamonds. The cool thing about the construction is that we can easily get an idea how big the finished piece will be while it's still on the needles. That can all come later - for now, all you need to think about is your yarn choice, your needle (work a swatch with chart A - it's quick and easy!) and the cast-on date: November 1.

If you have any questions/comments/etc, please leave a comment here or in our Ravelry forum.
ready to go! (my yarn is Findley Dappled in the Woodland colorway and those are size 3 needles :-)
I do hope you'll join us!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Peek at Pebble.

If you spend anytime on-line - or (better yet!) if you've visited the shop in the past few weeks, you probably already know about Pebble. It's  is the newest yarn from Shibui and I've been waiting to tell y'all about it until I had time to really work with it myself.

it's awesome! (and oh my, I've just spent a few minutes hours! looking at Ravelry to grab more inspiration ideas...and I'm even more in love with it now).

Pebble is a blend of recycled silk, extra fine merino and cashmere (48%/36%/16% if you're keeping score), Shibui lists it as a "heavy laceweight" at 224 yards/25 grams and a suggested gauge of 26 st/4 inches on size 3 needles. To me, that gauge says "light sport/heavy fingering". I swatched it on US 4s and got 23 st/31 rows to 4 inches. 
my swatch in the trail colorway
And that made me very happy because that's the listed gauge for Relax (which I've had in my favorites since I saw it knit in Shibui Cima). When I first knit and blocked the swatch I thought the gauge was too open; but my daughter - who's the planned recipient of the sweater  - said no. The wide neckline means she'll wear a camisole (at least) under it anyway and it's lightweight is good. I'm halfway up the front (yes, this sweater is knit in pieces and no, I don't have issues with that!) and yes, I think she's right! stay tuned!

Of course an oversized sweater on size 4 needles might be more ... knitting/yarn/work... than you want. 

How about a colorwork hat (the pattern is free)? This is Cliff...yes it's a lot of yarn (5 colors = 5 skeins) but it's knit double stranded. I promise it won't seem like laceweight yarn! I love the colors in fiddlehead's version.
photo copyright Shibui
Or a very cool textured/shaped hat...with a matching asymmetrical scarf?  This is Peak. It looks fabulous knit double stranded in a single color, but I love the marled effect of mixing two colors.
photos copyright Shibui
I hope you'll give it try - and if you do, please share your project...on Ravelry, Facebook or Twitter.

Happy Knitting!

sorry, couldn't resist one more photo!

Friday, September 6, 2013

FO Friday | Boxy!

That's right everyone, we have seen a finished Boxy...and we have the photos to prove it!

This was knit by Pat (pattblue on Ravelry) for Marci. It's Swan's Island Fingering, which is one of Pat's favorite sweater yarns because it feels good to knit (you have to love 100% merino!) and it blocks and drapes so beautifully. Marci chose the color (of course!) and we have to agree - that green is going to look great with so many things. A real winner all around!

yes, it really is a box, with tiny sleeves!
LOVE the subtle texture at the neckline
We'd love to hear about and see your Boxy progress. Please share photos in our Ravelry group. There's a special thread for the Boxy KAL. Or you can come to the shop on Friday afternoons to join us in person; I always have a camera handy!

...and me? I must confess: I haven't even started. Yep, I got side-tracked by Olgajazzy's latest linen tee a few weeks back. It's also a lot of stockinette on size 4 needles and I decided there was no way I could knit two of those projects at once. No FO to share yet, but I am making progress.

Happy Friday and Happy Knitting!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Swatching for Boxy.

Have you swatched for Boxy? How'd it go?

I ended up knitting two swatches. I started on US 4's and thought it was too tight, so I ripped and started again on US 5's. Once I'd blocked that swatch, I thought it was too loose, so I went back to the 4's. I felt a little bit like Goldilocks :-)

By the way, here's a little trick I use to keep track of the needle size. I put eyelets and purl bumps in the lower right corner (knit an eyelet as a yarn over followed by a knit two together).

Once both swatches dried, I hung them overnight (this is what I referred to in my last post as "weighting").

And today, I took my final measurements.

Yep, the US 4 wins.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Planning for Boxy

Yes, it's finally time. Our Boxy KAL officially casts on next Friday, August 16. This KAL is not only our first sweater, but also our most epic project to date, requiring about 1,600 to 2,000 yards of yarn. Right, that's a LOT of knitting!

Because this is a sweater - even a loose-fitting one - gauge and size matter. This week, we're going to knit gauge swatches and make sure we're planning the right size.
yarn wound and ready to swatch (I'm using Meadow in the Pokeweed colorway)
Joji has provided instructions for both a seamed and seamless version. Before you knit your swatch, you need to decide which version you'll follow...because you need to swatch the way you'll actually knit the garment.

Undecided? Here are a few points to consider:

The seamed version is a front and a back knit flat, back and forth, knitting the stitches on the right side and purling the stitches on the wrong side. The front and back are seamed at the sides with mattress stitch. Because these two pieces are worked the same direction (from the bottom edge up to the shoulders) for the same length, it's the easiest kind of mattress stitch. This would be a great "first seaming project" (promise!)

I'm going to knit the seamed version (I know, you're shocked aren't you?!) for two reasons: 
first, knitting and purling. The seamless version starts with 16 to 18 inches of stockinette in the round...just knitting (yep, poke me in the eye with a needle!); and
second, straight needles. I love them! For sure the stitches are going to be crammed on tight, but that doesn't bother me!

If you're planning to knit the seamed version, you should knit your swatch flat. Cast on 30-40 stitches and work 4-5 inches of stockinette (knitting the right side rows and purling the wrong side rows).

As I mentioned, the seamless version starts with a big tube...several hundred stitches of stockinette knit in the round. And that means just knitting. No purling. Many of us knit and purl at slightly different gauges. So if you're just knitting, your work might be smaller or bigger than if you're knitting and purling. Boxy is a loose-fitting rectangle, designed with about 25 to 30 inches of ease. It's big enough, then, and you don't need to make it bigger by knitting at the wrong gauge! 

If you're going to make the seamless version, you should swatch "in the round". I promise it's easy (after all, it's just knitting and no purling!) and it's a helpful technique to know (think hats and socks and other seamless sweaters). If it's new to you, here's a great video (you only need to watch the first few minutes to learn the technique). You should cast on more stitches, say 40-50? and you'll still want to work 4-5 inches of stockinette; knitting all the rows.

In summary - for Boxy, I don't think there's a technical reason* to choose one version over the other. You should choose the version that makes you a happy knitter. We've got a lot of stitches and a lot of yarn ahead of us; let's make it fun! 

And finally - I strongly recommend you wet block your swatch and weight it once it's dry to see how your finished piece might grow. If you want to learn more about gauge and swatching, check out this article; it's excellent!

Joji states (on page 2 of the pattern) "The biggest difference among the different sizes is the sleeve circumference [at the elbow]." Measure your elbow. That's right, put the measuring tape right around and see how many inches it is. Find the size whose Sleeve Circumference at elbow most closely matches (I'd go up if you're between sizes). Then make sure you're OK with the resulting Body Circumference. I think this probably only matters if your elbow measures between 10-1/2 and 11". The 10-1/2" sleeve is a 68" body circumference and the 11" sleeve is a 76" body circumference. Choose the better body circumference; you can always adjust the sleeve size if you need to.

*While I don't think there's a technical reason for Boxy, but there might be a technical reason for another project. We're knitting at a fairly loose gauge. The resulting fabric is going to be really drapey, which means the piece will have a tendency to lose its shape as you wear it. Side seams would help it keep its shape. If the sweater were designed with a lot less ease, meaning it really needed to "fit", I'd suggest the seamed version. But a big boxy rectangle? if it loses its shape, who cares?!

Friday, August 2, 2013

An Eye Candy Tour.

Yes, consider yourself warned. This post is full of pretty photos guaranteed to tempt and hopefully to inspire. But no worries, I promise this is a calorie-free treat!

First, on the wall behind the yellow table, our just-arrived shipment of Treenway Silks Kiku, a silk laceweight in a generous 100 gram/1,100 yard put-up. We have two color collections of seven colors each, plus two neutrals. The great thing about the color collections is mixing and matching for multi-color projects like Color Affection . The 100 gram skein has enough yards to be a Main, Contrast 1 and Contrast 2 color.  All you need to do is find two friends to join you; everyone chooses a different color and you'll end up with three different shawls. Of course the company and encouragement of friends will be helpful for the knitting, too; the laceweight version of the pattern is a lot of stitches!
collection one is on the left and collection two is on the right
these are the two neutrals; that cream would make a lovely wedding shawl or even a veil
Next on our tour is the back wall, now stocked with Shibui, Swan's Island and Manos. We've added new yarns across all three brands and have lots of different weights and fiber combinations.

And now the side wall behind the sales counter. No longer the "Cascade Wall", it's now full of Malabrigo! I am so happy we have a place to show these yarns hanging.

Because really, you need to see them displayed like this to really see them!

And yes, we have a full shipment of Rasta ready to be knit into cowls for holiday gifts.

The final stop on the tour is the area formerly known as the Library. There are a few patterns left, but mostly it's now full of Habu and Shibui fingering, with sample knits to show off the different fibers. 

Funny, as I look over this post, I realize I should've also thought to take a photo of the interior... no worries, it's still chock full of yarn, too!

Hope everyone gets to visit us soon so you can see it all in person. Happy Knitting!

Monday, July 15, 2013


Probably the prettiest, most colorful display we've had at the shop entrance...maybe ever? or at least in the past few months. Last week our first shipment of SweetGeorgia yarn - all 81 colors of Tough Love - arrived and took over the cubbies and baskets.

SweetGeorgia is actually not a local company; it's based in Vancouver, Canada, founded in 2005 by Felicia Lo. Check out her video here and you'll get a taste of why we're so excited to carry the yarn. Felicia talks about color and how it can bring healing, comfort, and joy...and express love. That pretty much sums up what I love about needlecraft, and how perfect to use a yarn designed and dyed for that same purpose.

Tough Love is a washable 3-ply merino/nylon blend fingering weight yarn with a generous 425 yards per 115 g skein. It's perfect for socks, drapey shawls, sweaters and - held doubled - a great worsted weight substitute.

Here are a few of my favorite project suggestions.

First up - socks. The variegated colorways are stunning on their own. I'd use the Churchmouse Basic Sock pattern with a simple 2x2 ribbing at the cuff and a stockinette leg and foot. Or choose a tonal colorway to show off pattern and/or lace, like in the Cherry Lane Socks or the ever-popular Monkey Socks.
a very small sampling of the variegated color ways that scream Socks! or Summerflies!! 
And then the shawls. Summerflies is still our favorite single skein shawl (suggest a size 7 needle for the "average" tension). 425 yards should be enough to add another butterfly repeat or make that last knotted openwork section a little longer if you want a bigger shawl. I used 430 yards a few years ago for mine (project notes here) with added repeats and more knotted openwork.

Of course colorwork shawls like Color Affection would really shine. The hard part would be picking three colors! And if you're looking for something similar, but not quite the same, how about Happy Street . It's a new design by Veera Valimaki who designed Color Affection.

And finally sweaters (of course there are sweaters!). Ravelry seems to be overflowing with fingering weight sweaters these days so there are plenty of patterns that will work; it makes narrowing this list to three a challenge!

Joji Locatelli's Boxy . If you follow our forum on Ravelry you know this is going to be our next Knit Along, likely starting in mid-August. Most of the sizes call for a little over 1,600 yards of yarn...four skeins of Tough Love. Our shipment included four skeins each of those 81 colors so if you think you want to use it, you need to move fast!

These next two are designed by Jane Richmond. She suggests SweetGeorgia yarns for both...maybe because she's also from Vancouver? (or maybe she and Felicia are just good friends!)

Georgia  and Grace  . These are both top-down seamless cardigans with a contiguous sleeve that looks like a traditional set-in sleeve - not a raglan. The smaller sizes up to 36" take three skeins and the larger take four to five.

Remember - you will need to alternate skeins if you knit a project with multiple skeins of the same colorway.

Convinced? if only to see the yarns in person?

As always, happy knitting!

Friday, June 28, 2013


Are you familiar with Rowan's Revive? It's a DK weight blend of recycled cotton, silk and viscose, which makes it a perfect three-season yarn for our climate. It comes in gorgeous tweedy colors. It's nice to knit (it is Rowan after all). Can you tell it's one of my favorite yarns? ...and I can't believe I haven't blogged about it before!

But maybe that's ok - because now we have a beautiful sweater to show off the yarn.

This is Julie Hoover's Insouciant . We're not the first ones to use Revive; the FO's on Ravelry are all pretty and encouraging.

There are plenty of other sweater patterns that would work, too. One of my favorites is Thea Colman's ("baby cocktails") Vodka Lemonade . It looks so pretty with the tweed.

I also love Heidi Kirrmaier's Peasy . I've knit it twice already, but the gallery of Revive FOs, especially this one, might entice me to knit a third one!

Revive is also beautiful for lace. I used it for Traveling Woman and that shawl is one of my favorite summer wraps; it looks great with jeans and a t-shirt or a dressy black linen top. Check out all the FO's on Ravelry.
woman revived

Or if lace isn't your thing, how about the Churchmouse Folded Poncho ? The pattern calls for a DK weight wool, but if you've been around the shop lately, you know we're knitting it out of EVERYthing! And it works up great in Revive.

Convinced!? what would you knit with Revive?