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super soft delicate shawl

I have to admit, I didn’t knit this myself. Yes, I have some wonderful trusted knitters who knit garments for me that are way above my skill level. And also they are so much faster! Since I am the slowest knitter in the world. This shawl, called The Joker and The Thief is designed by Melanie Berg. She designed it for a gradient and I decided to use full skeins of Zephyrette so ours is a ABCBA pattern. What I mean is that we progressed through the colors and then went backwards through them again. Our shawl is made with Zephyrette. Have you used it before? It is a delicious blend of baby alpaca, silk and cashmere. It is super soft but has the structure of the silk so that it doesn’t stretch out.

You can pick your own colors or we can put a kit together for you. Grab the yarn in our online store and the pattern from Ravelry.

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gradient set to make a pretty shawl

gradient set shawl

This shawl is a really fun one to make. It  is a shallow crescent shape. It can be worn in so many ways from over your shoulders or backwards like a cowl.  It is made with my Corrie Sock yarn. The kit includes a 5 mini skein gradient set, beads for the edge and the pattern.  The mini’s do all the work for you, most of this shawl is garter stitch and at the end there is some lace stitches for interest.  This is a good project to take to the soccer field or swim meets. All you need to do is add needles and you’re ready to cast on. There are 5 colors to choose from, so go grab one in my online store.

5 mini skein gradient
Cherry set
5 mini skein gradient
Purple set
5 skein gradient set
Brilliant Blue set
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color combos for making the Camau Shawl

kits to knit a shawl
shawl for alpaca wool blend yarn

I have some beautiful color combos to make this fun shawl. It is a crescent shaped shawl with short rows of eyelet in a contrasting color. The main color is all garter stitch and it easy vacation knitting. It makes a nice light shawl for summer nights. The kits include 4 skeins of Cirrus yarn and the pattern. Just add needles and you are ready to get knitting. Grab one or two kits in my online store. It’s currently on sale for $45 per kit.

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Autumnal Yarn Collection

hand dyed yarn in autumn fall colors

I’m working on my Autumn yarn collection that will make their debut at the three fiber festivals in September and October. I have a booth at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, Fall Fiber Festival at James Madison’s Montpelier and Rhinebeck Fiber Festival. I’m still deciding which yarn will be the featured yarn at which festival. As you can see these are fingering weight yarns. They make excellent socks but I also love this yarn for making shawls. Click here if you would like to join my mailing list so that I can let you know about new colorways, patterns and which of these yarns will be available a specific show.

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4 skeins + a pattern = a kit

yarn pattern kit for shawl
4 skeins of Zephyrette luxury yarn blend of alpaca, cashmere and silk

I love this combo of Zephyrette skeins. Our Zephyrette is a blend of baby alpaca, silk and cashmere and is heavenly to knit with. This Strisce pattern is really car or TV knitting. It is mostly a garter stitch shawl with some lace at the bottom edge. It is an asymmetrical triangle shawl and can be worn is a variety of ways. This kit comes with the pattern and 4 skeins of yarn, all you need to do is add needles. You can get the kit here.

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couch knitting on hot summer days

knitting in the wild

I love to do my knitting on the couch watching/listening to a guilty pleasure on the TV. Here’s a fun and easy 2 color brioche cowl knit in the round. Full disclosure…..I did have to redo this first attempt at least 4 times to fix mistakes as I learned this new technique. Yarn pictured is Rum Raisin LiViLy Cormo Worsted and Synergy mint green Worsted. You can grab some of this in my online store.

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Love Knitting Shawls?

fingering weight yarn to knit a shawl

Do you struggle to pick yarns and colors that will make that shawl really shine? I put together shawl triads just for you. I combined fingering weight yarn skeins in colors that work together for a really great shawl. There are some with only sparkly yarn, some with a little bit of sparkle and some without sparkle at all. You can find the triads here.

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Washfast: What does it mean?

I am asked all the time about whether my yarns are color fast and wash fast. And my usual answer is yes. But I need to clarify that answer. And I’m going to try to not sound like too much of a chemistry geek, so here goes.

The dyes that are made to dye protein fibers are called acid dyes. There are many different formulations of these dyes but they all work the same way.

To be totally washfast, the dye molecules need to hold on to the fiber like you would hold onto your child on a busy street. You have a strong grip on your child and he or she won’t be able to get loose.  But acid dyes don’t work that way. They have a very loose grip, more like holding someone’s hand with your pinkie. In the right conditions, that pinkie can slip away. Wool, silk, mohair and alpaca fibers  hold the dye particles very weakly.

If you wash or rinse your yarn or your knitted garment in HOT water, the dye will fall off and you can have bleeding into other colors that are nearby. This is especially true with reds and turquoises.

If you are buying roving there is another layer to the story. With roving, dyers need to be very careful not to felt it when dyeing and rinsing, so there may be more loose dye particles in roving. When you are drafting and spinning your roving into yarn, you can be dislodging these tiny particles from the fiber and so when you rinse your yarn to set the twist you may have more dye run off. So be mindful of that. Again, rinse your newly spun yarn with cool or cold water.

Good dyeing technique makes sure all the dye in the pot is now on the yarn or fiber. It’s called exhausting the pot.  Good dyeing technique makes sure that there is plenty of time for the dye to attach to the fiber at the correct temperature. And finally good dyeing technique makes sure that the yarn or fiber is rinsed and that the water from that rinsing is clear without any dye particles in it.  And know that all my of yarn and fiber has gone through these 3 steps.

Now if you are spinning the roving and your hands are becoming pink or blue, that roving hasn’t been properly heat set and rinsed. That’s a bad dye job. If you get a roving like that I would urge you to wet the fiber, wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in a plastic bag and steam it for 10 minutes. Then you can let it cool and rinse it out. That should fix the problem and this should have been done by the dyer.

So how should you wash your garments or yarn? If you are making a fair isle or other colorwork item, rinse the yarn before you do all that knitting. You will be able to tell if the yarn will run and you will mitigate the problem before it is a problem. And each time you wash your hand knit or crocheted items, you should wash in cool or tepid water. Use a nice wool cleaner, I use The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo and then lay flat to dry.

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Yarn Weights and Measures: What Do They All Mean?

grist1
I’ve been thinking a lot about what all those ways that yarn manufacturers, including myself, categorize the yarn.  There are so many ways of speaking about the size of the yarn. The standard yarn weight information is set up in a table with discreet squares. But I’ve been studying this lately and I’ve noticed that there is overlap,  a lot of overlap among the yarn weights. So it seems to me that this is really a continuum. Just look at the info about YPP, yards per pound, the overlap here is really large. Why is that? It has to do with the spinning process.

yarn weights

Was it spun in a woolen way with lots of air and softly spongy and so it has a bigger diameter? Or was it spun in a worsted way which compacts the fibers and aligns them all in one direction and so it appears thinnner. These two yarns could have the same YPP but a different grist or appearance and they will behave very differently. So use these as a guide, but the ultimate test is your own swatch. These two yarns were both supposed to be a DK weight. But the diameter is SOOOOO different. They knit up differently too. The green one knits like a lace weight yarn. It is our Heritage BFL yarn. And the turquoise yarn is Fingal’s and truly knits like a DK yarn. It is also made with BFL wool and both were made at the same mill.  Go figure!!

grist2

This really comes into play when you are wanting to make that special sweater. You are wanting to use yarn from your stash, not go out and buy the yarn that the designer used. Or maybe that yarn isn’t available anywhere near you. This is when those standard yarn weights become important. And even more important than that, is to knit up a swatch. Not only a stockinette swatch but also a swatch in pattern.

 

But is a swatch important when it is for a garment that doesn’t fit your body, like a shawl or a cowl? Well, I think getting the gauge close is important so that the stitches look the same. You may not need to get it “exactly” right if it isn’t going to “fit” your body. What is important to do is to check the size of the finished project, because many times the photographs used in the pattern, may be on a mannequin and not a person. It may be made for an extremely small or large person, someone whose body is vastly different than yours.  Sometimes making a swatch seems like wasting your time and a waste of yarn. You will probably only need 25-50 yards for a swatch. It will reduce the chance that you would need to frog your project.  I think it is important to make sure that the stitches look right. You may be a looser knitter than the designer or vice versa. So changing your needle size will be just what you need to get your swatch to look like the picture. Those are important questions to answer and it is worth the time to figure this out before you jump into your garment.