Wow! Vicuña

Wow! Vicuña

It has been many years since we’ve seen any Vicuña yarn at TNNA. The vicuña is one of two wild camelids in South America, related to the alpaca. It is said that Vicuña fiber is the softest and silkiest in the world, and I cannot disagree. It is also very warm, which is of course how the Vicuñas survive in the Andes.

Read more about these amazing animals here.

The fiber itself is very rare– there are not many animals, they are wild and have to be gently caught to be sheared. The fiber itself has to be manually picked over to remove the guard hairs, which is very labor intensive.

Naturally, this means that Vicuña yarn is quite expensive, and we were quite surprised to see some available.

Linen is for Summer Crafting

Linen is for Summer Crafting

In the summer, it’s too hot to be working with a big wool project. One thing I like to work on is guest towels, because they make great gifts (and to be completely honest, I love them myself!).  You don’t need a pattern, just a basic concept. Sport weight linen knits to about 6 stitches per inch.  Here are the steps I use to create one of a kind fancy guest towels.   Remember, this is a towel, 1 stitch or row doesn’t really matter!

1) Choose a size. A large hand towel is about 11-12 inches wide by 22-24 inches long. This is the size most often found in a 3-piece terry towel set including bath+hand+washcloth. It will take about 100g of sport weight linen. A smaller guest towel is about half as big, about 6-7 X 15-18 inches and takes about 50g. These measurements have a lot of leeway, so you can fit the size to the stitch pattern you want to use.

2) Choose a stitch pattern you like, but make sure it is a combination of only knit and pearl stitches. You need a flat fabric to make a functional towel that will launder well.  No lace, cables, bobbles, slip or tuck stitches.  Take note of the number of stitches in the pattern repeat.

3) Choose the number of stitches to cast on.  Figure how many whole repeats of your chosen stitch pattern will fit into the width you want. Your towel needs a picture frame of a non-rolling stitch such as seed stitch or garter stitch to help it stay flat.  Your picture frame needs to be 5-8 stitches on each side and 5-8 rows on each end, so you need to include these stitches in the total to cast on.  Examples:  Let’s say you want the big towel, 12 inches wide, and 6 st/inch = 72.  Your pattern is 15 st, and 15 X 4 = 60.  15 X 5 is 75, which will be too many.  So you have 4 repeats plus 6 st on each side.

That one was pretty easy.  Here’s a slightly more complicated example.  Your pattern is 8 st plus 5 (those extra stitches allow for centering and so forth).  1 repeat only is 13 st, but 2 repeats is 21 st (not 26) because the “plus 5 st” is only counted once in each row.  So if we are aiming for about 72 stitches across, we might choose 6 repeats, which is 63 st (6 X 8=43+5=63).  That leaves only 9 st to get to 72, but we want the picture frame to be the same on each side, so we add a stitch and settle on 73 st to cast on.  It doesn’t matter how many repeats or stitches in the borders as long as you get close to the size you want.  So cast on however many stitches you have figured out–72 in the first example, 73 in the second.

4) Remember you are making a picture frame around the rectangle, so if the picture frame is 5 st on each side, you will start by knitting 5 rows of your non-rolling pattern for the beginning border.   After the beginning border, you will work that many stitches in border, X repeats of your main pattern, and at the end add border st.  When you get to the length you want  (I try to make it at the end of a full repeat) you will work the ending border same as the first.

So here are some stitch patterns to get you started, and every one will make a gorgeous towel.  Blank squares are knit, dashed squares are purl.  All charts are read right to left on odd rows, l to r on even rows.  All of these patterns look great on either side.This is a simple stripe pattern of stockinette and seed stitch, that only requires any even number of stitches.  It’s very flexible, and if you use seed stitch for the border, the seed stitch stripe will come floating out of the border if you make the border an even number of st on each side.

This is a simple garter block.  The repeat is 10 st, and the last 5 are to balance the pattern.  That is, this pattern has a repeat of 10 st plus 5.

 

 

This is a simple basket weave.  It is a multiple of 8 st, plus 5, but not easy to see in the chart.  So in the first 4 rows, the repeat returns from st 12 to st 6, and in rows 5-8 (WS row) goes from st 12 through st 6.

This is a pattern that is harder to “see” in a chart than in the knitting.This is a diagonal pattern, 4 st of knit or purl overlapped by one.  This is easy to see in the chart, even though the repeat is a multiple of 8 st plus 6, which seems complicated.   But it isn’t at all–once you have knit 3-4 rows, it will be a no-brainer.

 

 

So why not go for it?  You’ll find these small towel projects are fun to knit, easy to carry around, and so appreciated if you gift them.

Right now (May 17-25, 2017) we have the Universal Flax sport weight linen on sale for 4.99/50g.  Go see it here.

Change in the air for the Needle Arts industry

Change in the air for the Needle Arts industry

We recently were informed of some major changes in the distribution of a few popular yarns. Twenty years ago this sort of thing would never be discussed with the end customer (you!) but our world has indeed changed dramatically because of the internet and social media.

About a month ago, Westminster Fibers Inc. announced that it would no longer be importing and distributing any yarns in North America. The brands that you will recognize are Rowan, Regia, SMC, Schachenmayr, Schachenmayr Select (aka Gedifra), Istex/Lopi wools, and Butterfly Super 10 Cotton.

Of course this doesn’t mean that these brands will no longer be available to you– not at all! There are quite a few established companies interested in providing the import and distribution of these brands.

As for Handknitting.com, you already know that we are committed to all 5 Lopi yarns, and also to Butterfly Super 10 Cotton, and we promise to continue to provide them to you if at all possible.

While we wait to hear about the possibilities for future importers, we are working on a plan to make sure we will have enough of all these yarns to fulfill your orders for the coming season.

We think it is important for you to have accurate information, not rumors. As children we all played the game “telephone line” where a message is passed from one to another and by the time the message reaches the end of the line it has changed dramatically! Well, the internet accelerates and magnifies this effect. If you have any questions at all, please contact us directly by emailing Laurel@handknitting.com.  Please do not rely on speculations on the chat and comment threads of the various social media sites for your information.  We will do our best to answer all your questions honestly and in a timely manner.

Plotulopi Knit Along

Plotulopi Knit Along

Hello Everyone! I hope you already know that we have begun importing Plötulopi, the classic unspun Icelandic wool. In celebration, I’ll be hosting a sweater knit-along in our Handknitting.com ravelry group for the beautiful Auđna pullover:

22 Audna

Isn’t that gorgeous? It is truly a special design, and has great design elements that are derived from the nature of the Plötulopi yarn.

This isn’t a beginners’ project; you should have some experience with knitting in the round, and with stranded color work like fair isle. On the other hand, you could very well learn some new techniques while we work through the sweater pattern!

Your investment in the project will depend on the materials you need, of course. You will need the yarn, Lopi Book #34, and US 7 & 9 circulars and dpns. You can see more details about this in my project listing.

There is no charge for this KAL. We have set up a kit package on Handknitting.com, but participation is not limited to people who buy the products from us. (If you are experienced with Plotulopi and have everything you need in your stash, that’s fine! We welcome your insights!)

I’ve been working and test knitting this pattern for the last month, and I will start posting my preparatory suggestions within the next week.   Please help me spread the word with your friends who might be interested. Thanks so much, Laurel

 

 

[1]: http://www.handknitting.com/Audna_Plotulopi_Sweater_Kit_p/audna.htm

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Malou BiColor Cowl

Malou BiColor Cowl

Dropstitch Cowl 1 This is the drop stitch cowl I passed along to you last year, but reworked for 2 balls of Malou Bicolor. I knit this in one evening while watching a football game! Size 13 circular needle, 24″. Cast on 67 st, join circle by slipping last st to left hand needle and start 1st round by K2tog (66 st). You can put a full twist into the cast on row (shown), or leave the twist out as you prefer. Rounds 1 & 3: K Rounds 2, 4: P Round 5: Knit, double wrapping each stitch. Tip: be sure not to pull your second wrap tight! Round 6: Purl, dropping the extra wrap on each stitch. Repeat these 6 rounds 5 times, then repeat rounds 1-4 once and bind off loosely. Weave in ends, then snuggle up!

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Vogue Knitting Live, Chicago!

Vogue Knitting Live, Chicago!

We leave for Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago on Tuesday!  It’s very exciting–we are bringing Lang there for the first time!

All of you in the area need to come see us in the Marketplace, booths 203-5.  For those of you who can’t come, the store will be open while we’re gone but shipping will be delayed until Wednesday, November 6.

Soft, with the slightest amount of haze…

Soft, with the slightest amount of haze…

MIST!     Another Hit at Stitches Midwest

Mist comes from Twilley’s of Stamford, a name known for quality throughout the UK.  Mist is an enticing blend of alpaca, wool and synthetic that fills out your stitches with a delicate halo– a Mist!  And it comes in the most becoming “misty” colors, too.

Mist Sweater

This is my design for Mist– a simple boat-neck pullover with extra long ribbing and embellished with an easy-to-knit lace accent.  The pattern is currently free with purchase, and a medium (38-40″) takes only 8 skeins–That’s a $50 project!  This shape looks great on almost everyone–the neckline is flattering and draws attention to your face.  If you need another size, just email Laurel@handknitting.com for yarn requirements based on your finished chest measurement.