Knit Purl Turns 12

© Knit Purl

This week is Knit Purl’s birthday—we are turning 12 this year! Our founder, Darcy Cameron, first opened our doors in 2005 in the heart of downtown Portland. Since the beginning, Darcy has made a point of carefully curating a selection of elegant notions and local, unique, or hard-to-find yarns of the highest quality.  Only a couple years after opening Knit Purl, Darcy was inspired to create her own line of yarn. In 2007, Shibui Knits was born in the basement of Knit Purl.

 

© Knit Purl


A note from Darcy:


“When I started Knit Purl 12 years ago I was focused on elevating the whole experience of shopping for yarn. I was obsessed with making sure every aspect of the business from the design of the interior, the product mix, events and business practices were top notch. It didn't take long for me to understand that in pursuing these goals it would be people and relationships that would take center stage. Of course, the vision is what keeps us excited about continuing to improve but what ends up being most important is who you're doing it with and for.


It ends up that working toward an ambitious goal with a talented and energized team has been the most satisfying part of owning this business. We challenge our team to do things they aren't sure they are capable of and when they succeed their deep sense of pride and accomplishment. It's a joy to see.


Seeing a customer in the store that has been coming in since the beginning is like seeing and old friend that you've been through a lot with. That customer has seen us at our best and at our worst. They've been with us as we evolve and grow.


Now, looking forward, I'm excited about working hard with our dedicated team to deliver an even better experience for our customers. To all of you who have participated in this evolving experiment, know that my heart is full of gratitude.“

 


© Knit Purl

In-store Events
This year we are celebrating our birthday the whole week! You’ll receive 10% off Shibui Knits with the purchase of a Knit Purl Tote Bag. If you already have one, bring it with you to the store and we’ll extend the discount to you! (in-store only 4.10.17 - 4.16.17).
On Wednesday April 12th we are planning on having a party from 6pm-8pm. There will be knitting, cake, cider, and Darcy will be there!


Online Events
There will be a special treat to all of our customers on our newsletter list! We will let you know what it is in our Friday Ecard.


Online & In-store
We are launching our limited edition Knit Purl colorway: KP Anniversary 2017, in Luxe by Rhichard Devrieze. Luxe is a fingering weight 75% Superwash Merino, 15% Silk, 10% Cashmere yarn.

 

 

April 10, 2017 by Lacey Link

The Story of June Cashmere

© Jared Heveron

June Cashmere yarn appeals to the heart and head as well as the hands. The yarn, available in both a DK and a heavy laceweight, comes to Knit Purl from the mountains of the Kyrgyz republic in Central Asia via Belgium (for scouring), Scotland (for spinning), and Maine (for dyeing). If a transparent supply chain were all that made these yarns special, though, we wouldn't bother telling you the story – it's the human element (paired with the extraordinary quality of the yarn!) we want to highlight.

 

© Jared Heveron

Cashmere is a fiber born from adversity: the extraordinarily soft fiber we know and love comes from the insulating down of cashmere goats, allowing them to withstand the brutally cold winters in Mongolia and the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia in China which are the sources for most of the finest cashmere in the world. Exceptionally harsh and/or snowy winters in 1999–2002, 2010, and 2016 – known in Mongolian as dzud – have decimated the herds in Mongolia, though, and limited the cashmere supply. Suppliers have been forced to look to other countries to meet the demand for the fiber, including Kyrgyzstan, nestled among other former Soviet ’Stans on the western border of China. Most buyers, sent from Chinese mills, buy cashmere by the kilogram at a low price, putting no emphasis on the quality of the fiber they are buying, with the result that many Kyrgyz herders sheared their goats to increase the yield, thus mixing the cashmere down with the tougher guard hairs: this is where June Cashmere makes a difference.

 

© Jared Heveron

Starting in 2013, Sy Belohlavek – the founder of June Cashmere – became interested in bringing Kyrgyz cashmere to western knitters. Rather than trying to purchase cashmere at the lowest price per kilo, he and his buyers told the nomadic herders he would pay higher prices – for higher quality, pre-sorted fibers. At first, they focused on the proportion of down to guard hairs, but after three years of training, Sy and his team are able to focus on the quality of the cashmere down itself during their annual spring buying trip, paying the herders higher prices for softer fiber. This provides the shepherds with a much needed source of income in a country suffering from chronic underemployment, allowing them to pay debts and invest for their future.

 

© Jared Heveron

June Cashmere also engages in development work to support the welfare of the herders who produce the cashmere, installing heating in schools so children can pursue their education during the winter, as well as repairing water pipes so communities can have access to clean water. This is an essential business goal for the company, as Kanat Anarbaev, the Kyrgyz general manager, discusses in an interview on the June Cashmere blog. In addition to these infrastructure projects, the company also invests in community training, spending time and money to teach the herders not only how to sort fibers themselves, but how to train other shepherds to do so as well. The company is not interested in keeping these small, independent producers dependent on June Cashmere for income, but wants to see them – and Kyrgyz cashmere – become a real player in the global fiber community.

 

© Jared Heveron

What you really want to hear about, though, is the yarn. Both the DK and the laceweight yarns are plied, with five and three plies, respectively. Although both yarns bloom when washed, they do not have the tender halo of most cashmere yarns on the market, such as Cardiff Cashmere, making June Cashmere well-suited to gender-neutral patterns. Both yarns are a pleasure to knit with, having a dry, almost cottony hand, without much bounce, but with very good stitch definition; they are probably best knit at a tighter gauge, which will give the finished product greater resilience and elasticity. In working with the yarn, our tester had occasion to rip out and reknit, and the yarn softened up beautifully, but did not pill or become ragged. Be careful, though when combining colors: the samples we blocked did bleed, so at this stage in the development of these yarns you might want to focus on single-color projects. With this caveat in mind, though, we feel confident in saying that these yarns will only get better with time – and they are already pretty extraordinary!

 

© Jared Heveron

It’s important to think about where your yarn is coming from, as well as how it is produced. June Cashmere yarns are an interesting example of how it is possible for globalization to make a positive impact on the those living in emerging economies, while also bringing a very special pair of yarns to your needles. What's the story behind your favorite yarn?

 

-Meaghan

April 03, 2017 by Guest Blogger

Sheila's WIP

© Knit Purl

This week we interviewed Sheila, Knit Purl’s merchandising guru and one of our fabulous sales floors staff. We asked her about what projects she has recently finished and what is she working on. Sheila said she has been on a colorwork kick ever since she read Poems of Color: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition. She loves that it tells the story about the history of colorwork. “Colorwork keeps my interest without being complicated. I can still watch TV and not lose track of what design pattern I am knitting.”

When we got Knitting from the North in the store Sheila was the first one to purchase it because of the modern colorwork patterns. Since then she has made three patterns from the book.  She just finished the Arrow Pom Hat in Sunday Knits Nirvana in colors Cream and Teal (photo below).

© Knit Purl

Sheila is now working on Barley Twist Cowl by Hilary Grant in Sunday Knits Nirvana (3 ply sport weight) yarn in the colors Earth and Cream (first photo). Sheila said she picked Sunday Knits for her recent projects because all of the color options in Sunday Knits' yarn lines. Knit Purl carries nineteen different colorways of Nirvana, thirty different colorways of Eden, and eighteen different colorways of Angelic. This gives you sixty-seven different colors to choose from, to make your colorway projects unique and one of a kind. Sunday Knits is also one of Sheila’s favorite yarn lines in the store, she loves it because it is pleasurable to work with and is the perfect weight for most of the projects she knits.


If you were knitting Barley Twist Cowl, which colors of Sunday Knits would you pick?

 

 

March 27, 2017 by Kira Sassano

Knitting from the North | Book Review

© Knit Purl

Knitting from the North by Hilary Grant is a beautiful collection of modern patterns that were inspired by traditional nordic and fair isle knitting, as well as the landscape these traditions (and the designer) originate from. Featuring 30 patterns that are bold, graphic and fun, this collection is a modern take on traditional stranded colorwork. The patterns are mostly chilly weather accessories, with a few sweaters. The accessories range from hats, headbands, scarves, cowls, mitts, mittens, cuffs, to mock turtlenecks. All of the patterns are knit in fingering weight yarn.

© Caro Weiss

I love the bold, geometric and graphic quality of the colorwork motifs combined with a palette that includes high contrast, ombres and bright pops of color. These knits are cozy and cheerful, sure to get you through the tail end of winter. This book would also be a great introduction to knitting with color.

© Hilary Grant/Kyle Books


The Arrow Circle Scarf is a wide, long cowl that is knit flat and grafted. I think it looks amazing in black in white. It would be lovely knit in Brooklyn Tweed Loft or Woolfolk Tynd. It would also be interesting to reimagine the pattern as a cowl that is half the length but knit as a tube in the round so the floats are hidden, adding an extra layer of warmth.

 

© Caro Weiss

The Beacon Pom hat is a simple slouchy, ribbed hat with a pom pom. Grant’s choice of color makes it a standout. It would be fun knit up in one of the brighter Ambrosia MCN colors, like Verdigris or Pink Flambe.


© Caro Weiss

I also think the Barley Twist headband is really cute and would look great in Isager Alpaca 2.


If you are interested in colorwork we highly recommend Knitting from the North. Grab your copy here.

 

 

March 20, 2017 by Kira Sassano

Em's Spring Cardigan

© Knit Purl

Em is the sales floor supervisor at Knit Purl and she shared with me one of her many works in progress. Em is knitting herself a new summer cardigan in Shibui Twig. She chose the color Abyss and is knitting it up with size 5 needles.

© Amy Christoffers & Knitbot

She is combining two cardigan patterns together, Pomme de pin by Amy Christoffers and Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig of Knitbot. Em wants her pattern to have the fit of Pomme de pin, but with stockinette stitch, hence the look of Featherweight. She is knitting it from the bottom up and will do a set in sleeve. She also wants to try and do a sewn on button band after a recommendation from Karen Templer of Fringe Association’s blog.


Happy Knitting Em!

 

 

March 13, 2017 by Kira Sassano

Amirisu: Iceland Winter 2017 | Magazine Review

© Amirisu

I have long been fascinated with Iceland, from the music, to the terrain, to the culture, and gorgeous lopi sweaters. There is an article on pages 11-12 about the role of lineage and the history of knitting in Icelandic culture that I really enjoyed reading. I am glad to see that the editors of Amirisu feel inspired by Iceland too.

 

© Amirisu

My favorite pattern in this issue is Gullfoss by Rie. Gullfoss is a lovely cabled pullover that has an interesting construction. The combination of cables and lace creates a beautiful yoke that is first knit sideways, then folded in half, with stitches picked up to join in the round. Gullfoss is named after a waterfall in Iceland and the cables and lace are meant to emulate the flow of water. This pattern would be lovely knit up in Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor or Luxe B DK.

 

© Amirisu

Another pattern that I like is Vidro by Melynda Barnardi. The pattern is a hat and cowl set knit in stranded colorwork. I love colorwork for accessories because the wrong side floats make a thicker and warmer fabric. The hat comes in two sizes and the cowl is long so you can wrap it around your neck twice. This pattern would be great in Woolfolk Tynd or Isager Alpaca 2.

 

 

March 06, 2017 by Kira Sassano
Tags: Review

Charli’s Watkins Cardigan

© Knit Purl

Charli, who is head of e-commerce and customer service at Knit Purl, recently finished knitting Watkins. Watkins is a chunky-weight colorwork cardigan designed by Whitney Hayward for Quince & Co.


Charli told me that she and Whitney are actually both from the same hometown in Missouri. The pattern was inspired by a nearby state park called Watkins Woolen Mill State park.

 

© Knit Purl

Charli used Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, double stranded, to achieve the gauge. Her main color is Soot, with accents of Cast Iron, Blanket Fort and Hayloft. The cardigan is knit seamlessly, from the bottom up in the round and then steeked. This was Charli’s first time steeking, she was intimidated at first but got the hang of it quickly. The pattern comes with illustrated step-by-step instructions, geared towards the first time steeker. After reading those and watching a youtube video or two, Charli successfully steeked the cardigan. I love the colors she chose and I think it turned out beautiful. She is really happy with it!


Whitney Hayward is based in Portland, Maine. You can see her Ravelry page here, and follow her on Instagram here.

 

February 27, 2017 by Kira Sassano

GUEST BLOGGER: SHELLIE ANDERSON | SHIBUI KNITS REED

© Shibui Knits

 

Shibui Knits recently released a new 100% linen yarn, Reed. As a member of the team responsible for developing this new yarn, I’ve been asked to talk a little bit about it and let you know how it compares with our previous Linen.


For me the most noticeable difference is the softness of Reed. It has a much softer hand than our Linen. There are several factors that contribute to that difference, of which two are particularly significant: we are using a different mill that sources higher quality raw material, and we have also tightened the chainette, which contributes to the softness and adds extra strength. The higher quality of the linen fiber also contributes to more saturated colors, which more closely align with our other yarns. We are very happy to partner with this mill, both for their responsiveness and their impeccable quality control.

 

© Shibui Knits

 

In developing this yarn, we intentionally created Reed so that it would directly replace Linen. It has the same yardage and will produce the same gauge. You can substitute Reed for any of our patterns that call for Linen, including Etch, Square, and Aurora. Like Linen, Reed mixes very well with other Shibui Knits yarns, adding to a unique drape and depth of color to the fabric. I particularly like how it mixes with Shibui Knits Cima, Silk Cloud, and our newest yarn that will be available at the end of March with our SS17 Collection.


Although I personally liked Linen, I love Reed. I wasn’t a fan of knitting with Linen solo due to its crisp hand, but I could knit with Reed on its own for days. Shibui Knits has a couple pieces coming out in the SS17 Collection at the end of March using Reed held single and one with it held double and I enjoyed every minute of knitting those pieces.


If you loved Linen, you will instantly appreciate the changes we have made with Reed – and I think you will come to love it as I do.

 

Shellie Anderson

February 20, 2017 by Guest Blogger

CAPSULE | Michele Wang for Brooklyn Tweed

© Knit Purl


Brooklyn Tweed has a new capsule collection designed by Michele Wang. If you are a fan of Brooklyn Tweed, you are most likely familiar with Michele Wang’s designs. Michele’s aesthetic is a mix of sophistication, texture, architectural cabling and chic coziness.


In the introduction letter of the book, Michele likens wearing her favorite handknits to being in the comfort of old friends. I love that sentiment and I think it really comes through in the patterns and the styling of the book.


The collection is mostly garments, there are two pullovers, five cardigans and a hat. These patterns are well written and they keep the knitter engaged, with a repertoire of techniques. My two favorite patterns are Ilia and Bingham.

 

© Jared Flood | Brooklyn Tweed

Ilia is a boxy fit, fingering weight cardigan that juxtaposes lattice and rope cables with ribbed hems. Like all of the garments in the collection, it is that is knit from the bottom up, in pieces that are then seamed. The collar is knit from picking up stitches. Ilia looks like it would be a great layering piece and would look lovely with a shawl pin closure.

 

© Jared Flood | Brooklyn Tweed


Bingham is a chunky knit, shawl collared pullover that would knit up quickly, keeping you cozy and warm. I love the look of the vertical cabled panels on the front and back, which add interest to the ribbed collar and hem.


We are so excited to have Michele Wang visit us on February 18th, for a special event where she will talk about the new collection. She will discuss the inspiration behind the pieces, delving into each sample in more detail. This is a great opportunity to learn about the creative process, touch the samples and learn about how to design a collection. The discussion will be followed by a book signing. Reserve your spot now here.

 

 

February 13, 2017 by Kira Sassano

WIP - Glacier Park Cowl

 

© Knit Purl


Today I am highlighting a work in progress that I started recently. I have been really excited about doing a colorwork project. I decided to knit the Glacier Park Cowl after meeting the designer, Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks, when she came into the store recently. She is a wonderful Oregon based designer and a very friendly person. You may recognize her name from the Camp Wilkerson shawl she designed, which we featured in Shibui Dune. Caitlin has published a handful of original patterns and is clearly very passionate about knitwear and design. I am excited to see what she comes out with next!


The pattern calls for fingering weight and I have been wanting to knit with the Sunday Knits 3ply yarns. I chose to knit the cowl in 4 colors instead of 2, mixing Sunday Knits Angelic and Eden. Angelic is 75% Ultra-Fine Merino, 25% Softest Angora and Eden is 100% Extra-Fine Merino Wool. My main color is Angelic in Midnight, a dark heathery blue. The main contrast color will be Eden in Bay, a seafoam green. Then I will use Angelic in Dijon and a bit of Shibui Pebble in Sidewalk as accent colors.

 

© Caitlin Hunter


I worked my gauge swatch in the two main colors and cast on to size 3, 24" circular needles. For my cast on, I used the twisted german to make the edge extra stretchy and then started the 2x2 rib. This was my first time using a Norwegian knitting thimble and once I got the hang of it I found it very helpful.  So far I am loving the yarn and I can't wait to start the colorwork part of the pattern.

 

 

February 06, 2017 by Kira Sassano