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 Things

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What makes something a favorite? Through trial, error and repeated use, we eventually discover what is special to us. Once we find something worthwhile, we begin to foster a relationship with the product or brand.

The resurgence of knitting combined with the availability of resources on the Internet has resulted in a plethora of products, patterns, and designers to choose from. When there seems to be something new offered on a daily basis, how can we best sort through the options?

We’ve certainly seen a lot over the past decade. Over the years, we have acquired certain preferences. Obsessions. Must-haves. Favorites. On the occasion of our 10th birthday, we’d like to give a gift to you: a curated list of our most favorite things.

In the first post of this series, we’ll begin with exploring our favorite yarns. It’s what we collect, what we stash. We delight in the colors, textures, and all the possibilities of what could be. For many of us, one of the great pleasures of knitting is all about indulging in beautiful yarn.

Here are some words from our staff members about their favorite yarns:

BEKAH: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, “I love the fabric that it makes—warm and lightweight, with such gorgeous colors and textures.”
ELA: Pebble Abyss, “Pebble is my favorite yarn on the floor. Colors—that’s what attracts me first and the most! Soft and cozy for next to the skin projects.  Airy and ‘sticky’ for easy knitting and gauging. Would love to have a sweater in every color or combination.”
SARAH : Woolfolk Far, “So soft to knit with, can’t wait to make another sweater with it. I love the cowl I made with it.”
SHEILA: Shibui Staccato, “I like Shibui Staccato for its drape and think it’s perfect for summer knits.”
SARAH K: Swans Island DK, “Swans Island DK is both a sturdy and beautiful yarn that is versatile for many projects. (I made the Tulip Petal Boot Cuffs and absolutely love how they turned out.) Plus, the yarn is eco-friendly and machine washable. A staple for your stash for sure.” 
CAIT: Shepherd’s Wool, “I chose Shepherd’s Wool when I wanted a more drapey yarn for my Ondawa sweater. It’s really soft, has excellent stitch definition, and great yardage. It’s also very forgiving if I need to redo my cabling.”
OLEYA: Brooklyn Tweed Loft, “This would be my ‘desert island’ yarn. I love the light, airy quality and the fabric it creates. It’s versatile enough for lightweight sweaters and accessories. It performs fabulously in stranded colorwork, my latest obsession.”
KELI: Sunday Knits Eden, Since I wrote a whole blog post on Eden, I feel obligated to stay faithful. It doesn’t really feel like cheating to call Nirvana my new favorite yarn, though—it has all Eden’s wonderful qualities, with a little added softness. Plus, it comes in a charcoal gray, one of my all-time favorite colors, as well as Moss, a shade that keeps catching my eye.”

 

Yarn is definitely something to be admired on its own, but it is made magical after being transformed from a single length of string to a continuous piece of fabric, with dimension and texture. Finding the right tools to work with is an important part of the process.

Please join us next week for a post about the tools that we find essential in our knitting lives.

April 01, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall

How to Become a Swatcher

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Swatching, it could be argued, is perhaps the most important task in the knitting process. A swatch tells you everything you need to know about whatever you’re hoping the yarn you’ve chosen will become: how it will wash, how it will wear, and what gauge measurements you have relative to your pattern. It allows you to experience your choice of yarn and needle, and make alterations before you’re elbow deep in thousands of stitches. Why then does it feel like such a chore to knit those squares?

Instead of approaching swatching as busy work that comes before the knitting, I’m trying to think of my swatches more as an entirely different project—just as important and relevant as what I’ll be making after they’re complete. To gain some insight into the mind of those who swatch, I chatted briefly with Sandy Barnes, Shibui Knits’ self-pronounced Lover of Swatches.

Sandy began her love affair with swatches when she started working with Habu.

“I actually bought little cones, little quantities, of Habu yarns. I would keep them in a box and just get them out to see all of the different fabrics I could make. They were a separate craft project in and of themselves—I never knit anything big with them, I never made anything. I was just swatching to play with the fabrics,” she explained.

Swatching, for Sandy, is all about playing with fabric. When she began to think about the finished swatches as potential fabrics for her garments, the act of swatching became about the excitement of the yarn, combined with the act of choosing fabric (instead of constantly worrying about matching gauge.) Through teaching MIX parties, Sandy began to extend her love of swatching while sharing all the possibilities of Shibui with shops and other knitters.

“I had a seamstress in one of the MIX parties come up to me afterwards, and tell me that I had revolutionized the way she thought about swatches,” she recalled. “She told me that as a seamstress, she fell in love with the fabrics first, and they told her what they wanted to become. Now, her knitting has become that way for her. She falls in love with the fabrics first, all of the textures that can be created in knitted stitches. Afterwards, she finds the right pattern, or has fun matching a pattern she loves to the yarn.”

It’s so important to remember that simple detail when applying yarn to pattern, of course. Swatching an inch in simple stockinette isn’t enough. Swatch in pattern. Swatch in the round. Swatch using your increases and decreases for the pattern and see if you’d rather use different ones. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but don’t get lazy and hurry towards your project blindly.

“Swatching is all about needle size, and yarn choice, and how it will affect everything in the end. Try different yarns, think about what you want the finished piece to be. Yes, it might be a cardigan, but what kind of cardigan? Choosing the right yarn at the right gauge can transform any piece into something new.”

January 21, 2015 by Hannah Thiessen

Slow Knitting, on a Grand Scale

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If you’re like me, the new year is full of promise in the knitting department. If you chose to make gifts last year for friends and family, it can feel like a breath of fresh air after the holidays are over. This is the perfect time of year to begin your slow knitting—knitting that focuses on the meditative craftsmanship of simply making.

While it might be tempting to throw a few simple, small projects on your needles for instant gratification, think instead about tackling something larger. New techniques, detailed lace, cables or textures, applied to grand scale garments are the best medicine for recovering from a season that often feels hurried, rushed, and materialistic.

Consider your fibers carefully. While binge-shopping clearance sales and end-of-year specials may tempt you, think instead about saving for a purchase that will bring you joy with every moment of construction and wear. Do your research start to finish—know the source of your wool, the yarn’s traits, and match it to the perfect pattern to showcase your work and time. Choose colors that can be worn with everything in your wardrobe. Slowly knitted garments are celebrations of time and craftsmanship. Don’t compromise on sub-par materials.

Above all, swatch. Celebrate the swatching and the act of it. Enjoy the feel of testing the new yarn on your favorite needles. Does your pattern call for a stockinette swatch, but feature an intricate lace? Practice that lace motif once through before starting, blocking and all. If things aren’t coming together, don’t despair, but see it instead as an opportunity to perfect the project through a better pattern choice. This is a process not meant to be done hastily.

When everything is aligned, when the yarn and pattern and needles and swatch are all singing to you, take a deep breath, and begin.

January 07, 2015 by Hannah Thiessen

Knitting Paradise

From time to time, a customer will ask me to name my favorite yarn in the store, and I have to admit, I have a tendency to be fickle. One day it’s Får, the next it’s Pebble, closely followed by Swans Island Bulky. With so many amazing yarns to choose from, it’s rare that a frontrunner emerges. For the past several weeks, however, I’ve been able to answer without hesitation, because I’ve been working with Sunday Knits Eden.

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We had been searching for a good, basic sport-weight yarn, and I remembered what high praise Kate Davies had given Sunday Knits. We got a sample, and by the time I’d finished swatching, I was in love. Eden 3-ply is highly consistent in texture—perhaps not surprising when you consider the Italian mill that spins it has had nearly 400 years of practice. In addition, Carol Sunday, the woman behind the yarn, doesn’t believe in including knots in the skeins she sells. This is only one example of her high standards —she also ensures that her fiber is sourced from humanely treated animals.

In the skein, Eden appears fairly thin, and while generally classified as a sport-weight, it could certainly work as a fingering-weight. Once knit up on US 3, 4, or 5 needles and blocked, it blooms into a cohesive, exceptionally lightweight fabric with a velvety softness. The extra-fine merino has enough tooth to hold stitches in place, but I can’t detect a trace of prickle. These qualities make it an excellent candidate for colorwork, so it’s fortunate that Eden’s palette is gorgeous. From the perfectly pure Red to the softly heathered Twig, the colors have a rich, natural sophistication. I’ve already managed to collect about a third of them, and I’m not sure I could be more excited about my plans.

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Carol creates not only yarns, but patterns as well, and I’ve had my eye on her fringed stoles for years. When Knit Purl became one of 15 shops in the world where you can get your hands on Sunday Knits yarn, we made sure to order plenty of Sonoma Stole patterns. This pattern appeals to me on so many levels: I love wearing lightweight, crescent-shaped shawls, I love a pattern with only 6 stitches to cast on and zero ends to weave in, and I love playing with color. While the pattern photography features a stole knit with 17 different colors (available as a kit by special order), Carol encourages Sonoma Stole knitters to develop their own sequence of colorful stripes. I find a project most satisfying when I make it my own, so I took on the challenge.

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I created the Sunrise and Wildwood colorways featured in our kits by gathering every color of Eden on the table in front of me. I then picked a few favorite colors I knew I wanted to include and shuffled the yarn until I found pleasing combinations. The Sonoma Stole requires at least four skeins of Eden, but I’ve been working with eight colors for added depth. For my own stole, I was most drawn to colors in the blue-green range. I love the glowing gradient achieved by using neighbors on the color wheel, and I know I prefer to wear green rather than blue near my face. After mocking up possibilities in Adobe Illustrator, I arrived at my own custom stripe sequence, which I’m calling Aurora.

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I’m very ready for a sizable, cozy, colorful project for myself, and I plan to cast on any minute now! Judging from the large swatches I’ve already created, I have no doubt this stole will be a joy to knit and to wear. I invite you to follow my progress on Ravelry. My hope is that you might be inspired to try my new favorite yarn yourself.

December 22, 2014 by Keli Hansen

Knit, Purl, Weave


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Knit Purl now carries looms! After much research (we were definitely swayed by Knitty’s glowing review) we’ve started stocking 20″ Knitter’s Looms, made in New Zealand by Ashford. I have personally been fascinated with weaving ever since seeing a customer’s scarf created with hand-dyed yarns in my early days at Knit Purl. When I realized that Ravelry has a section full of woven projects, my fascination intensified ten-fold. Though I’ll always love the body-hugging stretch of knit fabric, I welcome the chance to create more stable woven fabric for items like bags, pillows, wraps, and placemats.

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Perhaps the greatest appeal of weaving for me, however, is the opportunity to play with color in a new way. Have you ever been besotted with a variegated yarn in the skein, only to watch it knit up into a blotchy mess? To my eyes, weaving blends and mellows wildly colorful yarns. When warp and weft are strikingly different colors, the fabric can be nearly iridescent. I’ve also seen amazing things done with slow striping yarns like Noro and with pooling warps, which align the colors in a yarn across the width of a piece. Best of all? None of these effects require a huge, complex loom—they’re all perfectly suited to a simple and portable rigid heddle loom like those at Knit Purl. If you’re curious how it all works, Ashford has a video covering the basics. Or come by the store and try our floor model yourself! We’re starting a scarf on our loom (and we’ll be sure to share the results). What will you make?

December 17, 2014 by Keli Hansen

Autumn in the High Country

I recently visited my dad in Wallowa County, where I was born and lived until around 11 years old. Wallowa County is the very northeastern county of Oregon. It’s remote, high in elevation, and beautiful. The first time I took my husband to visit the county he called it Little Scandinavia, because of the picturesque alpine peaks and pastoral farmlands.

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Photo courtesy Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce

Wallowa county has always been somewhat self-reliant. Because of its distance from any metropolitan center or robust supply chain, coupled with a recalcitrant attitude towards big box stores and chains (Subway is the only chain restaurant in the entire county), Wallowa locals have always grown a lot of their own food. This trip back to my birthplace was especially interesting because the slow food and locavore trends are making a big impact in the county. I ate at the newly revamped Lostine Tavern, a local tavern that was recently crowd-funded to turn it into a farm-to-table eatery headed by Chef Lynn Curry.

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Across the street from the LT I visited the Lostine Community Marketplace, a shop selling local handcrafts, from quilts and homespun yarn, to slingshots, pickles, and pottery. The Community Marketplace is staffed in volunteer shifts by those who sell their wares through it. I especially admired a collection of vintage hats on display and the tiny wood-burning stove.

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The store was started by my “Auntie” June, an ideas-woman whose current project is using native plants to dye handspun yarns and fleece from her specially bred flock of Targee-Wensleydale sheep. The wool from this breed has a long staple, with no “prickle factor,” and a wavy crimp. I visited her home studio and got to bring an undyed skein still smelling of lanolin home with me.

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Kitty-corner from the Community Marketplace is M. Crow & Co. General Store. I grew up buying penny candies here. The General Store has also recently changed owners and received a facelift. Now along with the same popsicles and Jiffy Pop popcorn from my childhood, you can buy Filson workwear and handcrafted wooden furniture. Three nice attractions, with a focus on local goods, in a town of 275 people. Lostine is hopping!

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I also attended the Wallowa Harvest Fest on the Nez Perce Homeland grounds where my sister, dad, and I pressed five gallons of apple cider from apples we had gathered the previous day. We also picked out pumpkins for Jack-O-Lanterns and a few dozen duck eggs to bring back to Portland with us. It was a good visit to a place where “shop local” isn’t just a buzzword, but a way of life.

October 24, 2014 by Summer F

What Can You Make with Dyed in the Wool?

Here at Knit Purl, we’ve been enchanted with Spincycle’s Dyed in the Wool yarn for a while now.

On the sales floor, I’ve been working away on a Quaker Yarn Stretcher (inspired by this project). The sport-weight Bluefaced Leicester makes a supple fabric on US 8 needles, the pattern has enough variety to keep me engaged without taxing my attention, and the color transitions of the yarn keep me knitting simply to find out what soft stripe will appear next. With our stock recently replenished and some new colors to admire (Payback, Devilish Grin, and The Saddest Place), now seems like the perfect time to share more pattern ideas for this dazzling yarn!

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Back in June, we were lucky to host Kate and Rachel—the creative masterminds behind Dyed in the Wool. They brought a trove of inspiring samples featuring the color-flecked stripes of their yarn. I especially enjoyed seeing the full garments, including Nijo and the charming Jonesy. Still, I think my favorite approach to using Dyed in the Wool is to combine it with a more solid yarn—whether in simple stripes or intricate colorwork. Both ladies had versions of Mon Petit Gilet Rayé, Kate shortening both the sleeves and body to make hers extra cute over a dress. Used this way, the sophisticated hues of Dyed in the Wool almost seemed to shimmer.

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The trunk show included several accessories using this same principle, including a Pine Bough Cowl nearly as lovely as Cait’s. Kate and Rachel highly recommended Beyond the Pines because you can use every bit of a cherished single skein of Dyed in the Wool. Their version of Fixation still has me feeling inspired to make at least one for myself. (If you find this interplay of yarns and colors as captivating as I do, be sure to look out for Dianna Walla’s forthcoming mitt pattern. The Spincycle yarn pairs well with Loft, Staccato, and Swans Island Fingering, to name a few.)

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Finally, the self-proclaimed spinsters had some highly inventive projects that took advantage of Dyed in the Wool in very different ways. You may have seen Heidi Bears’ crocheted African flower creatures on Ravelry. In celebration of their yarn’s rainbow of colors, Kate and Rachel had a hippo and unicorn created. They were simply adorable (and larger than I would have guessed). In contrast, Kate used a more homogeneous colorway to create an incredible Celestarium.

Kate and Rachel themselves are simply delightful and we’re so proud to carry their handiwork. Each skein of Dyed in the Wool is one of a kind—pick some out while there’s still plenty to choose from!

October 10, 2014 by Keli Hansen

What We Knit: Sarah’s Nymphalidea Shawl

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 I have really enjoyed working on my Nymphalidea. It’s the second shawl that I’ve started, and I was in search of a burst of color. I found Noro Shiraito to be the perfect solution, and I combined this with Twirl’s Petals yarn in Twirling Ollie (black). The solid neutral tone of Twirl against Noro’s changing colors creates a nice contrast that I could see being a colorful accent to any basic outfit.

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As a newer knitter, I like that this shawl appears somewhat intricate, but is actually quite simple to knit! I enjoyed working with both yarns, particularly Twirl’s unique, raw handspun qualities, which have an interesting texture.

September 25, 2014 by Sarah Kovelle

What We Knit: Shop Samples

With the return of cooler days and longer nights we have lots of cozy seasonal samples planned for the store. Here are a few of the latest shop samples knit up in fantastic new yarns.. Autumnal Mitts knit with Sage Bluff DK in Covelli, Blade, & Willow. A quick and plush knit. The Plimouth Hat in Swans […]

The post What We Knit: Shop Samples appeared first on Knit Purl Blog.

September 23, 2014 by Summer Fouche