Warm-Weather Knitting

For some, knitting is strictly considered a cold-weather activity, bringing to mind thoughts of warm, cozy sweaters and thick, cushy scarves. Thoughts of knitting in hot weather might be too much to bear. But there’s no reason to put your knitting needles down for a season. Knitting during the summer can be fun and rewarding. Here are a few reasons why:

Wool lovers, rejoice! For those who might think twice about knitting a wool t-shirt, think again: wool can actually help you stay cool in the summer. Wool’s breathable qualities can regulate body temperature, absorb and evaporate moisture, and help reduce sweat and odor.

For those who just can’t bear the thought of working with wool during the summer, think of it as an excuse to try out a new type of yarn. There are quite a few plant fiber options to explore, in a variety of textures and weights. Some staff favorites include Joseph Galler Inca-Eco, and Juniper Moon Farms Zooey. Plant fiber yarns perform beautifully in lightweight accessories, like Shibui’s L.1 scarf in Shibui Linen (pictured above) and the Sea Salt Cowl in Hand Maiden Lino.

Consider knitting smaller projects, like toys, socks, and jewelry. In addition to being a lot easier to manage when it’s warm, they are great to take on summer trips, whether you’re going on a road trip or trekking across the globe. Best of all, they can be instantly gratifying!

Knit sleeveless tops! A vest or sleeveless top can be a quick project (no pesky sleeves to worry about) and a great entry into the world of garments if you’ve never made a sweater before. Vasa is one of my favorites, and I’ve just started one in Shibui Twig. Some other sleeveless options are Shibui Mix. No. 15 and Shibui Slope.

Take advantage of the abundant natural light and longer days, and take your knitting outside. Portable projects can be packed up and taken to the beach, out camping, or at the park. For those seeking a more social experience, World Wide Knit in Public Day is June 13th, which is a wonderful time to knit outside in the company of others.

I can’t imagine setting my knitting aside when the mercury rises. Even during the warmer months, there is still something soothing about the clicking of needles and creating fabric.  With all the sunlight, outdoor knitting opportunities, and project options available, I find more reasons to knit during the summer than not. Warm weather knitting is a great excuse to continue to indulge in your favorite hobby, so why not give it a try?

May 27, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall

How to Make a Yarn Tassel

Looking for a new technique to help spice up a finished object? Why not try making a tassel? Tassels are fun to make, and are a great way to add an extra bit of flair to a project. Our tutorial will show you how to make a removable tassel out of a Unicorn Tail, perfect for adorning the ends of the Loop Shawl. Let’s get started!

We’ll start by making the cord the tassel hangs from. The cord allows the tassels to be removable, and eliminates any extra dangly ends. Once finished, you can attach the cord to the end points of the shawl with a simple lark’s head knot.

To make the cord, measure out a length of yarn about two yards long, and fold it in half. Then you’ll want to twist the cord. There are many ways to do this, depending on the tools you have available. Essentially, you’ll want to loop the end of the yarn around something, like a doorknob or chair post. You can also twist the cord by using your lap, by rolling the yarn toward your knee on your left and away from your knee on the on the right.

Keep twisting until the yarn begins to kink up on itself. When it’s ready, you’ll want to pinch the middle so the yarn can be folded in half. It’s helpful if you have a friend to do this part. When you let the yarn go, it’s going to look like a kinked-up mess. There’s no need to panic. Gently coax and smooth the twist down the length of the cord. Once the entire length has a uniform amount of twist, set the cord aside.

Now comes the actual tassel-making part! You’ll want to create a bundle of yarn that will form the body of the tassel. To make the bundle, wrap the yarn around a piece of cardboard or another sturdy object that is a uniform size and shape. We used a 4” tall piece of cardboard for our tassels. The width doesn’t matter too much, as long as it is wide enough to accommodate the bundle of yarn.

For the Loop shawl tassels, we wrapped the yarn 24 times around the cardboard. More wraps will result in a thicker tassel, fewer wraps, a thinner one. After completing all wraps, cut the yarn. Repeat the entire wrapping process again for the second bundle.

Now that the bundles are done, you’ll want to cut one more piece of matching yarn, just a little longer than the bundles. This piece of yarn will tie everything together.

Make a cross with the new piece of yarn and the cord you set aside earlier, like this:

Then place one yarn bundle above and one yarn bundle below the cross section. Fold the cord down and out of the way, into an upside-down “u” shape. You’ll want to make a very tight square knot with the yarn.

After the square knot has been made, tie the ends of the cord together in an overhand knot. For our tassel, we left about six inches of cord remaining above the knot.  Snip and unravel the ends of the cord.

Now you’ll make the shank. The shank is the wrapped portion that binds the top of the tassel. To create the shank, you will be using a nautical technique called “whipping the end of the line.” Cut a new strand of yarn about 30" long, and using the technique shown here, wrap the tassel from bottom to top. Then hide the end of the yarn shank inside the top of the tassel.

 

There’s just a bit of finishing work left! Wrap a piece of waste yarn around the tassel and cinch it tight near the bottom. The ends will puff out and you can then trim the ends to an even length.

Fluff out the end of the tassel and admire your handiwork! You’re all done!

 

 

May 20, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall
Tags: Tutorial

The Woman Behind the Wool:Interview with Kristin Ford of Woolfolk

Kristin Ford was one of the first people I met when I moved to Portland five years ago. I remember stopping by the store to get some needles for a project, and she was working the sales floor. I enjoyed her upbeat personality and sense of humor. I worked alongside her several years while she was at Knit Purl and Shibui Knits, and it’s been an absolute pleasure watching her evolve from my fellow co-worker to independent yarn producer. Her company, Woolfolk is one of my favorites, and I couldn’t be prouder or more inspired. I am delighted to share her interview with you today.

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May 13, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall

Tried & True

When we knit for other people, forming each stitch by hand, I think we all hope the finished piece will be special to the recipient. When my Grandma Pat knit a baby blanket to welcome me—her first grandchild—into the world over 36 years ago, I wonder if she imagined that rectangle of fabric would become one of the most meaningful objects in my life.

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May 06, 2015 by Keli Hansen

Our Favorite Finished Objects

Many of us have created several projects over the course of our knitting careers. No matter how many projects we make, each finished object should be considered an achievement. Lots of thought, time, and energy go into the act of creating cloth from a simple length of string. Hundreds of tiny stitches represent hours, days, and perhaps even years of work.

And yet there are still certain pieces that hold a deeper place in our hearts. Maybe they’re the projects we labored over intensely for several months, or the pieces that complete our wardrobes in a satisfying way. Perhaps they’re the projects that are a spectacular match of a pattern and yarn, or the stunning projects we admire from afar, created by others.

Here are our favorite projects that we’ve either made ourselves or lovingly admired:

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From the process of choosing beautiful yarn to completing a favorite finished item, we hope you have enjoyed learning about our staff favorites. Here’s to ten more years of knitting beautiful things!

April 29, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall

Our Favorite Sources

When looking for new patterns, techniques, or just general inspiration, there are quite a few sources we like to consult. A variety of blogs, books, and magazines make up many of the sources, but overall, Ravelry.com is the ultimate source of knitting information. If you’re not familiar with the site, Ravelry is an extensive yarn and pattern database, that simultaneously functions as a fiber-based social network. Patterns, yarns, and more—you name it, it’s in there. Millions of knitters use the site as their main knitting resource, and it’s very easy to get lost in the myriad project pages full of inspiration. In addition to using Ravelry, we also like to turn to our favorite blogs, books, and magazines for extra bits of curated knitting information.

Here is how our staff members like to get their knitting information:

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BEKAH: “Ravelry.com. You can find pretty much anything and everything. And get lost for hours.”

ELA: “Fashion shows, web search, purlonpearl.tumblr.com.”

SARAH C: “Interweave Knits magazine, Knit Purl newsletters, Ravelry”

SHEILA: “One of my favorite books is a reference book, ‘The Knitting Answer Book’ by Margaret Radcliffe. This is my go-to book if I’ve forgotten how to do a stitch. It is also the book I recommend the most. My three favorite websites, Ravelry, http://techknitting.blogspot.com and Knittinghelp.com, all have fun, interesting information for every knitter whether beginner or advanced.”

SARAH K: “Knit Purl of course! But also Ravelry.”

CAIT: “Pom Pom Magazine.”

OLEYA: “I primarily visit the Fringe Association blog (updated on a daily basis!), but I also like Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Review, and the Woolful podcast. I also have a very deep respect for ‘The Principles of Knitting’ book by June Hemmons Hiatt.”

KELI: “I find Ravelry endlessly inspiring. It’s hard to pick anything else, since Ravelry includes it all!”

Whether they’re digital or analog, these are the sources we turn to when we need advice, inspiration or to find out what’s new in the knitting world.

Please join us next week for the last post of the series, which highlights our favorite finished objects.

April 22, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall

Spring Clean Your Project Bag!

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The daffodils have bloomed and the cherry blossoms are fast and furiously filling their branches with “pink snow,” as my son shouts. It smells of fresh cut grass in the parks and the sun is warming those much-needed afternoon walks. I feel the need to get something breezy, linen and silky on the needles. I’m still in the thick of Rowe, my Brooklyn Tweed cabled sweater, and it’s becoming very clear that this is not as portable as it once was, especially to the park.

Are you also feeling the pull to lighten your knitting bag of long winter projects? Here are a few low budget ideas that I’ve been dreaming of to carry along when I find myself soaking in the rays and still want to keep my fingers happily active in a knitting project. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re a knitter who wants to finish that one last winter knit before moving on to a new warmer weather project—give yourself a break and let go! It’s spring— clean out your knitting bag and embrace a small sunny project to freshen up your needles. You’ll be so glad you did!

Spring Lace Infinity Scarf by Linda Thach // Shibui Linen
Have you been gravitating towards a bright color out of your comfort zone but just can’t get yourself to take the plunge? This is the perfect project to squash your color fear! Linen has a beautiful drape that will also deliver that bright pop of fresh color needed to get your spring glow in full swing! Light, airy, and low on the difficulty level.

Filemot by Hunter Hammersen // Geilsk Wool Cotton
This certainly won’t break the bank at only 1–2 skeins! The bit of wool in this yarn will add structure to this beautiful motif, as well as warmth for chilly spring evenings. The cotton will give that drape you’re craving. The colors are a perfect compliment to the spring ensembles you’ll be donning soon!
Con: Part of a book, so you can’t buy the pattern on its own.
Pro: The other patterns included in the book are just as lovely!

Mia by Jennifer Wood // Shibui Twig
This sweet little number is knit using Shibui’s recently launched Twig yarn. This top comes in a wide range of sizes and the best part—it’s free! The yarn content will certainly satisfy your spring in to summer knitting needs. Made of linen and recycled silk, it’s just as the designer said: soft and cool and with the kind of drape that is effortless.

April 21, 2015 by Rachel Bishop

Our Favorite Patterns

This week, we are musing over our favorite patterns and designers. A variety of details make a pattern attractive. Most knitters are drawn to elements like clear photography, styling, presentation, and brand familiarity. Looking closer at the pattern details, some are drawn to how interesting the pattern looks and the relative knitting requirements—patterns can range from monotonous and repetitive (great knitting for binge-watching), to detailed and complex (no wine tonight!). Clearly, there is a lot to take into consideration when choosing a new knitting pattern.

Our favorite patterns reflect our diverse backgrounds and interests—we have chosen a mix of traditional patterns, patterns from long-time designers, and patterns we have designed ourselves. Let’s take a look at the designers and patterns we find inspiring.

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Bekah “Backbay by Jared Flood. Simultaneously classic and modern, simple and interesting. Favorite designer: Boadicea Binnerts. From the Netherlands, she designs clean yet intricate modern pieces, often inspired by fashion on the runways of Europe.”

Ela “Hats—my own designs!”

Sarah C “Cowichan sweaters. My sister gave me some really old patterns I have used for several sweaters, and I adapted the one below and changed the design from an adult sweater. The tops of the buttons are bits of caribou antler from Alaska!”

Sheila Hannah Fettig

Sarah K “Stephen West! I love how he is always daring to try something different and experiment with textures and colors.”

Cait Julie Hoover

Oleya “I am a huge fan of Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed due to the attention to detail, photography, and styling.”

Keli “I have to credit Kaffe Fassett for inspiring me to learn to knit many years ago. Someday I will knit one of his designs.”

With pattern inspiration and some new designers to try, go forth and make pattern decisions with confidence!

April 15, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall

Our Favorite Tools

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Tools are a vital part of any maker’s work. Their function, aesthetic qualities, the stories they tell, and the craft they represent all add to their value.

It can definitely be said that aside from a plentiful yarn stash, tools are among the most indispensable items in a knitter’s arsenal.

With so many options for tools on the market, from homemade contraptions to luxury hand-turned accessories, sometimes it’s hard to know what’s worth investing in. How many of these tools do we actually need? When it comes down to it, it seems helpful to go back to basics. First and foremost, a quality set of knitting needles seems to be of utmost importance.

Here are a few words from our staff members regarding their favorite tools:

BEKAH: “Addi Clicks—I never need to buy different length needles, and can even use them as stitch holders.”
ELA: “Circular needles / Rockets!”
SARAH C: “Probably Lantern Moon cable needles with beveled groves—works so well for cables.”
SHEILA: “Besides my array of knitting needles I could not live without my crochet hooks, not because I crochet but rather because they are essential to fix those pesky mistakes that happen to even the best knitters.”
SARAH K: “My trusty Addi clicks set.”
CAIT: “My Lantern Moon Rosewood Interchangeables.”
OLEYA: “Folding scissors. I’m kind of a klutz, so it’s nice to have something that has the pointy ends folded away. (I actually have poked myself with no injury!) I love that they’re travel-safe, too.”
KELI: “My Ebony Interchangeables from Lantern Moon are one of my most prized possessions, period. I also get pretty excited about the Fix-A-Stitch—it’s exceptionally handy for fixing garter or seed stitch.”
RACHEL: “A row counter!”

Our favorite tools, pictured above:
1. Brittany Cable Needles in Birch
2. Addi Turbo Rocket Needles
3. Lantern Moon Crochet Hook in Rosewood
4. Fix-A-Stitch Tool Set
5. Snip-its Folding Scissors
6. Kacha-Kacha Row Counter
7. Lantern Moon Interchangeable Knitting Needles
8. Addi Click Interchangeable Knitting Needle Set
9. Addi Click Bamboo Interchangeable Knitting Needle Set

With proper tools and captivating yarn at the ready, finding a pattern that brings the two together harmoniously is the next step of the knitting process.

Please join us next week for a look at what patterns and designers have a permanent spot in our knitting queues.

 

April 08, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall

Interview with Gina Zahn from Brave Little Thread

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Portland is home to many talented makers, and here at Knit Purl, we like to take advantage of the fact that we belong to such a creative community. We constantly seek out new and interesting artisans, our latest being Gina Zahn, the owner of Brave Little Thread.

We are pleased to carry her Lighthouse DK yarn, a soft single-ply blend of alpaca, merino, and silk. Curious to know more about her fiber journey, I asked Gina to share her story and inspirations with us.

How did you get started dying yarn?

The origins of my dye work date back to when I was caring for my German Angora rabbit. My wooly bunny was producing bountiful mounds of milky fiber every shearing and I had stacks of his raw fleece perfectly aligned in translucent bins on my work shelf. It’s neutral tone was akin to unbleached linen, and as months passed I could almost hear the growing wall of canvas-colored bins shouting directly at the artist in me. “Paint me!”

My process began with much research coupled with a very ungoverned practice of experimentation. For example, I knew I ought to wear rubber gloves while dyeing, but whenever a surge of inspiration came to me, there was no time for gloves. As soon as the angora hit my hands, it was as if the fleece were melting like butter between my fingers and before I knew it, I’d be elbows deep in the dye bath.

My hands were an awkward sight for weeks. Even still, the plunge of the fiber into the dye bath is probably the most stimulating part of the dye process for me. There is just something incredibly satisfying to me about the transformation happening between my bare hands—the fiber swelling with watery pigment and mini bubbles of air tickling up my arms.

I have always been a surveyor of color, and although the minimalist in me is incessantly knitting with neutral palettes, the artist in me is relentlessly stockpiling mental notes of the various palettes that color my world here in Portland, and my hands are plucking and picking from our lush vegetation with the hopes that its essence might be colorfully translated to the blank canvas of my raw fiber.

What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?

The process begins with counting my dye lots and tying up my skeins. If I am dying with acid dyes, the palette is usually conceived on a whim. But if I am working with natural dyes, the palette would have been formulated while collecting materials. I spend my morning tending to multiple oversized pots on my stove. A delicate dance of watching, stirring, waiting—all the while, my baby boy is strapped to my back, cooing in my ear like my little cheerleader in the grandstands celebrating with me as I draw a few gorgeous strands from the surface of each pot.

When the pots are cooled, the rinsing begins. Then I make countless trips outside to hang dry my work. My husband built me a portable rod system that allows me to relocate several dye lots worth of yarn indoors if the weather is not ideal for drying. But I must say, it is quite satisfying to see the endless heavy strands slowly regain that plumpy squeezable appeal that is irresistible to the touch. And the spectrum of color draped from one end of the dowel to the other.

Once the yarn is completely dry and the kids are in bed, I spend my night winding and tagging the skeins. The go immediately into categorized boxes until they are shipped or delivered.

What inspires your work?

It all depends on the day. Sometimes it is just a squeeze of a new blend of fiber, and other times it’s a random leaf my son brings me from the yard. I wish I could put my finger on exactly how I am moved to create. I honestly just feel like I am a sponge that is perpetually soaking in the sights and textures of the good things God has given me. If only I had enough time to squeeze out all the goodness I absorb in a day.

Tell us about the name Brave Little Thread.

I wanted to capture within my name, the very paradox of the humble thread. While it is to its core incredibly simple, when given the right circumstances it can be manipulated to become something spectacular. Everyone’s fiber journey, whether it be weaving, crocheting or knitting, always involves a little (or let’s be honest…a lot) of bravery. There are always those patterns or techniques that we shy away from due to insecurities in our abilities, or fear of failure. But sometimes all it takes is a squeeze of some irresistible hank of stunning yarn to erase all doubt and infuse us with the inspiration to do whatever it takes to create. I hope to infuse every ounce of my fiber with this very palpable sense of empowerment for those seeking to create.

How did you chose your color palette and the yarns you work with?

Choosing my yarn is easy. I ask myself “Would I crave to knit on that?” Palette choosing is an entirely different beast for me. It is one thing to see the purple leaves on the tree outside my window, and an entirely other thing to try and translate that exact color to my yarn. There are so many variables. So far, all the colorways I have created have been limited edition due to this color translation challenge. I am definitely still in the process of discovering my color palette.

Any plans on the horizon you’d be willing to share with us?

I am in the designing process of planting a garden for natural dyes. I hope to experiment more with these natural color palettes that seem to thrill me these days. In the mean time, I will continue to share my fiber journey on Instagram along with all the inspiring fiber folk on that platform.

Thank you Gina, for sharing your wonderful work and story with us. You can view the Lighthouse DK yarn here, and read more about her journey on her blog.

April 01, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall