mYak Story

@mYak

The changing seasons always have me thinking of exploration to distant lands, ideally with exotic fibers. One can’t always get out of town at the drop of a hat, though, and sometimes have to be content with a bit of armchair traveling – and few places on earth draw the imagination powerfully as the Tibetan highlands. Since Alexandra David-Néel’s journey to Lhasa in the 1920s, the first western female to visit the city, Tibet has been a magnet for adventurous females, and the story of mYak yarns epitomizes this sort of intrepidity.

 

@mYak

Co-founded by Paola Vanzo and Andrea Dominici, mYak demonstrates the best of a hybrid heritage – spinning together the natural fibers sourced from the nomadic herders of the Tibetan highlands with the founders’ native Italian attention to artistry. These two have spent years traveling in Tibet and working directly with herders, much in the same way the June Cashmere team does, with a deliberate focus on training and sustainability. This personal involvement in fiber sourcing and processing ensures that mYak yarns are ethically produced, eco-conscious, and fully traceable from the grasslands of Tibet to your project bag.

 

@mYak

mYak yarns, available in both worsted and lace weight, are made of 100% baby yak down. Due to the extreme cold temperatures of the Tibetan plateau, this down is exceptionally fine and warm – and exquisitely soft. The down is combed from the bellies of yak calves in the spring, before it is naturally shed for the summer, which means that the animals are not harmed in the process of collecting the fiber. This does mean that the supply of the yak down is limited, both because the number of suitable yaks in a herd is small, and because the process for collecting it labor-intensive. The down is sorted from the guard hairs in Tibet, then shipped to the town of Biella in northern Italy for processing and spinning.

 

@mYak

To enhance the sustainability and strength of their yarns, mYak chooses not to bleach the natural color from the fiber. Yaks are generally darker in color, and the down ranges from pale grey to nearly black. Dyeing the fiber unbleached gives depth to the colors of the yarn, as well as a rich heathered quality.

 

Where will your fiber travels take you this summer?

 

 

--Meaghan

 

 

May 29, 2017 by Guest Blogger

Memorial Day Weekend Projects

© Knit Purl

Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner, which means lots of long car rides to the beach or the mountains-- the perfect time to start a new small project. This year I am planning on treating myself to Vireo Cowl in Cardiff Classic Cashmere Single in the Piombo (light grey color). I have been wanting to knit it all winter long after feeling the sample knit we have in store (so luxurious and soft). I am still debating on what I want as my pop of color on the edging. I am thinking of diving into my stash and see what colors I have to see what would look good with the grey.


Here are some other great small projects for knitting in the car:

© Shibui Knits

Envoy is a fabulous one skein project knit up in Shibui Knits newest yarn, Lunar. It’s the kind of accessory you’ll want to knit up in every color. It’s the perfect accessory for breezy summer nights. Best part is it’s a free with purchase pattern. If you buy a skein of Shibui Knits Lunar we will throw in Envoy pattern for free.

 

© Knit Purl

Another travel project I recommend is Churchmouse’s new hat pattern, Thinking Cap.  “Inspired by a ready-to-wear Italian cashmere cap” , it is a fine luxurious fabric that, knit on smaller needles, looks like something you could buy at Nordstrom. Everyone will be asking you where you bought it. Thinking Cap takes two skeins of Shibui Knits Pebble (which if you haven’t knit with you should -- it’s a staff favorite.  Not to mention the fiber content is a dream… silk, merino, and cashmere, your fingers will be thanking you.



What are your favorite small projects to work on during weekend trips?

 

 

May 22, 2017 by Lacey Link

Cocoknits Sweater Workshop June 17 & 18

@ Cocoknits

Despite admiring Julie Weisenberger’s designs for ages, I’ve never managed to sit down and actually get started with the Cocoknits method. So of course I’m tremendously excited that Julie is coming to Knit Purl in June to teach a workshop about how to knit sweaters that actually fit and flatter the figure. After taking a sneak peak at the schedule, I can confirm that this day-long class (which will be offered two times during the weekend) is not to be missed.

© Knit Purl

You’ll want to arrive fully caffeinated, because Julie is starting the day by jumping into the introduction of the Cocoknits method for seamless, top-down sweaters. With tailored shoulders and a customized fit simplified by a thorough set of worksheets, Julie’s method makes it easy to create a sweater that suits your body type. With video and hands-on demonstrations, Julie will clarify the techniques she uses to achieve a perfect finish. And that’s all before lunch!

© Knit Purl 

After lunch (from one of the local food carts – or perhaps Portland icon Tasty N Alder?), Julie will help you fill in your worksheets, and walk you through the tricky first two sections of a top-down sweater: creating the upper back and shoulders. You’ll leave the workshop with a good start on a new sweater, as well as a completed worksheet to make finishing your sweater a breeze.

Julie then moves into the tangled topic of yarn choices – she’ll walk you through her strategies for pairing a yarn with a pattern, and help you make wise choices for your own Cocoknits sweater. I’m thinking of using Shibui Knits Twig for the swingy Lizzie cardigan, but still need to choose a color; but of course, I might end up changing my mind – the garter stitch cardigan Tallulah is pretty appealing, too.

© Knit Purl

Both classes have already filled up but you can sign up for the waitlist by emailing us at info@knit-purl.com Also feel free to join us June 17, 3-6pm. Julie will be available to answer questions, sign copies of her book, talk about her trunk show – and the samples will be available to try on, too, perfect for answering any lingering questions about fit! 


Have you knit one of Julie’s designs? Which one are you eager to cast on?

 

--Meaghan 

 

May 15, 2017 by Guest Blogger

Shibui Knits Lunar | Yarn Review

© Knit Purl

Lunar - adj; of or relating to the moon.

It's no coincidence in my mind that Shibui chose to name the newest line in their collection "Lunar".  Just as one can easily spot the moon in the night sky, this lace weight gem also commands the eye's attention.  

© Knit Purl

My fingers have been itching to play with the latest from Shibui Knits since I first heard a whisper about it a few months ago.  So when the opportunity arose to cast on, my mind immediately went to the pullover pattern, Milan.  And so, without hesitation, (except for which of the 12 colors to choose!) I grabbed my needles and began to swatch.

Instantly I knew Lunar would become a favorite.  I'm absolutely enamored with the way this glides on the needles, and OH the fabric, made with 60% of the softest Merino wool and 40% silk, it drapes so gracefully with what I consider to be the perfect amount of sheen.  Let it be known that I am a BIG fan of yarns that you can dress up or dress down. 

© Knit Purl

Working with yarn that is versatile is a must for me, so imagine my delight when about half way through my Milan, which I would consider to be a more delicate piece, I remembered that Shibui yarns are designed to not only be beautiful on their own, but to be beautiful held together also! 

BEHOLD! The Siena cardigan.  

© Shibui Knits

Siena drew me right in, and looking at the specs, I quickly realized why... it's made of Reed, a 100% chain plied linen, held together with my new love, Lunar!  The fabric that these two yarns creates is absolutely swoon-worthy.  Knit on a size 10 needle, the cardigan enrobes you in a fabric that feels like a cool drink of water on a hot day.

© Shibui Knits

With a nod to the genius of designer Shellie Anderson, I had to cast on immediately.  This is the cardigan that my summer dreams are made of.  I love that Lunar adds a sheen to the sturdier Reed, making it perfect for throwing on before heading out to have all sorts of summer adventures.

As I discover more and more of the magical properties of Lunar, I am excited to finish my two sweaters, but also to try a few other projects as well!  I had a sneaking suspicion that it would also be well suited for open lacework and my suspicions were confirmed when last Wednesday at our Knit Night, one of the gals pulled out her Lunar Starlight Wrap that she was knitting in the Imperial colorway, and needless to say, jaws hit the floor, it is working up stunningly!

The possibilities of Lunar seem endless!  Have you given it a try yet? What are you making?

May 08, 2017 by Em Hanna

Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

© Fiona Rogers

I know I’m not alone in saying that I owe my fiber love to my mother. I first picked up a pair of knitting needles around age twelve when she brought home a do-it-yourself knitting guide. My curiosity peaked and before I knew it, I was sitting alongside her, needles in hand. I didn’t know at the time, but the afternoon project would grow into a life-long passion. This Mother’s day I hope to thank her with some luxurious hand-made knits. We’ve got some great project ideas and gifts for mom this Mother’s day.


As Spring creeps in, and trees sprout fresh, luscious leaves, I’m thinking about open, airy shawlettes and cowls that mom can wear in air-conditioned restaurants and breezy summer nights. Not to mention, an open lace stitch will grow quickly on the needles and Mother’s day is only two weeks away!

© Swans Island

I’ve had my eye on Swans Island Lace ever since we featured it in the Eastport Ruana kit. I’m determined to knit with it while I still can. (Swans Island Lace has been discontinued and we’ve got the last of it in stock!) Juliette Scarf (photo above) is a single-skein shawlette that will grow quickly on the needles. I’m also loving this dreamy Coastal cowl (photo below) with its sea of stockinette and simple eyelets. Both of these beauties would be equally beautiful in Shibui Knits’ Lunar.

© Swans Island

When it comes to shawl patterns, Janina Kallio’s designs often float to the front of my mind. Ardent (first photo on blog) and Parasol (image below) have both been on my to-knit list for some time. Ardent, is an elegant triangular shawl, and Parasol a soft, classic half-circle, I may just want to make one of each! They’re dying to be to be knit with subtle hand-dyes such as Alpha B’s luscious, Sexy B. At 437 yard, one skein will be just enough to knit either of these shawls. Two skeins of Shibui Knits’ Reed or Three skeins of Twig would be a great alternative to wool, to keep her nice and cool.

© Janina Kallio 

If you feel intimidated by Lace, have no fear, these projects are simple enough for a beginner, but have enough variety for an entertaining knit. If you’re local to Portland, consider joining us at our upcoming Beyond The Basics: Beginner Lace class on May 13. You’ll leave the class with confidence to take on any of the projects above, and more. Seating is limited.

© Knit Purl

If your mother is the knitter in your life, you can still bring her the gift of luxurious hand-knits with a project bag filled with beautifully useful tools and accessories. I fell in love with Okubo’s felt Dumpling Bags (photo above) the moment I saw them. Fill one up with some gorgeous knitting supplies such as the lovable Pudgie and Putford scissors, elegant Jul Twig shawl pin, a wooden Pom Pom tool and my favorite Knitting Row Counter and Colored Ring Stitch Markers from CocoKnits.


I wish you joy and quality time with your mothers, aunties or grandmas this Sunday. I’m sending out a huge thank you to all of you strong, courageous, loving mothers out there. Soak in all the love on your special day.

May 01, 2017 by Charli Barnes

Woolfolk Luft | Yarn Review

© Knit Purl

You always wonder about these high-quality yarns – how durable are they? How long are they actually going to last? The first sight of a sample skein of Luft from Woolfolk immediately piqued our interest. Luft is Woolfolk’s signature Ovis XXI Ultimate Merino Wool, unspun and blown into an organic cotton “cage” – and the result is a lofty bulky weight yarn begging to be knit into three-season sweaters. The cotton cage gives the yarn a subtle glow, especially when paired with one of the darker colors. If you’re going to make sweaters to wear nine months out the year, though, you have to pay attention to the durability of the yarn – it has to be able to stand up to wear. As a service to our readers (and out of curiosity!) we put Luft through its paces with a simple stress test.


While nothing takes the place of years of everyday wear, we gave Luft some pretty harsh treatment. The cotton cage was up to the pressure, the threads remaining intact and unwarped. The merino stayed inside the cotton cage, and did not shed, even going through the dryer – though, as discussed below, the wool does felt.


© Knit Purl

 

For our stress test we took our sample skein and knit five swatches on size 10 needles, right in the middle of the suggested needle range. Swatch number one is unblocked at 16 sts and 24 rows per 4 inches; as you can see, it has a bit of personality before being washed. When you touch the swatch, the cotton cage adds a bit unexpected crispness to the wool halo, and the edges roll slightly despite a small garter selvedge.


Swatch number two is hand washed using wool shampoo, soaking for fifteen minutes. We set it flat to dry, unpinned. Even during a damp Portland winter, it dried overnight, the stitches becoming more cohesive, and the edges lying flat. Gauge changed slightly, as one would expect, condensing vertically to 14 sts and 27 rows per 4 inches. The cotton cage takes more of a backseat in the blocked swatch, the resulting fabric having more of the familiar Woolfolk softness.


© Knit Purl

Swatch number three was machine washed on the gentle cycle with other woollens (to add a bit of friction) using wool shampoo, then dried flat unpinned. Smaller than both the unblocked and hand-washed swatches, swatch three shrank slightly to 17 sts and 26 rows per 4 inches, but otherwise does not feel significantly different from the hand-washed swatch.


Things get interesting with swatches four and five – both were machine washed along with an ordinary load of laundry (for friction) on the perm press setting using standard laundry detergent. Swatch four was dried flat and swatch five was thrown into the dryer with the rest of the laundry. Putting these swatches in with a regular load of laundry did result in some felting – swatch four felted slightly and also biased a bit, while its gauge shrank to 17 sts and 30 rows per 4 inches. The result is not unpleasant, but it does lose most of the initial feel of the yarn. In swatch five, the merino felted completely, while remaining encased in the cotton cage. The gauge shrank to 18 sts and 30 rows per 4 inches – and the resulting fabric is dense and smooth – and might actually make an interesting sweater on its own account.


What factors are important to you when trying out or testing a new yarn?

 

-Meaghan

April 24, 2017 by Guest Blogger

Spring Clean Your Knits

© Knit Purl 

As the weather warms and my thoughts of cozying up with a hot cup of coffee slowly shift to dreams of relaxing on the front porch with a glass of iced tea, I start to get the Spring Cleaning itch.  And just as I believe that knitting a summer sweater in March will bring warmer weather my way, I also believe that once the windows can stay open for the afternoon, it is time for my favorite aspect of the annual spring clean: Knitwear care!

Being the avid knitters that we are, we all know that after 6+ months of self-made coziness, this task can be a little daunting, but with a bit of strategy and the right tools for the task, I find that it can be (dare I say it?) almost as rewarding as the knitting itself.  Almost.

Everyone has their own process for taking care of their knitwear, but I thought that today I would share mine with you.  Here is how I make sure all of my beloved hand knits are well preserved during their summer vacation.

1. Pull EVERYTHING out of the closet, or drawers, or baskets, or wherever else knitwear hides.

© Knit Purl

2. Grab the wool wash, and if you're like me, every single towel in the house...  I'm a big fan of not too potently scented wool wash with lanolin in it.  I'm a recent convert to The Laundress Wool Wash, it makes my knits feel great and they smell nice too!

3.  Let the washing up begin!  Fill the sink with lukewarm water and a splash of wool wash and add your first knit.  I like to let my knits really soak, and while they soak I like to take that opportunity to clear off every flat surface in my whole house... I'm going to need it.

©Knit Purl

4. Set up what I like to call "assigned seats"  Knits that really need to be blocked and pinned are assigned to my interlocking blocking mats on the dining room table.  Knits that need to be blocked to specific sizes get the living room floor and the check your gauge cloth on top of towels.  Everything else gets a towel on the remaining flat space (I'm looking at you, socks and hats.)

Pro tip: Keep the coffee table clear, you're going to need a place to enjoy your take-out tonight. (Dining table is full, remember?)

5. Time to get your knits out of the sink.  Gently squeeze out the excess water, roll them up burrito style into a towel, and decide where to let them dry.  I like to go ahead and get my next "batch" of knits soaking while I carefully block the previous batch.

6. Repeat until everything is clean, blocking, and potentially ALL over your house. Although this moment is not the most Instagram worthy moment of your knitting life, I think it's nice to take a moment to admire all of the lovely work your hands have created.

Now that you know all of my Spring Knitwear Care secrets, I'm curious, how do you show your knits love as the weather warms up? 

 

April 17, 2017 by Em Hanna

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