Friday, December 24, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 24!

Tomorrow is the big day! We have been working hard on all of the preparations and we can rest as our loved ones tear into the wrapping paper, pour over the contents of stockings, devour the sweets, and bask in the afterglow of delicious meals.
As you rest, please consider a gift to yourself; I am a strong proponent of knitters learning to crochet and crocheters learning to knit. Perhaps you knitters have a hook laying about and you crocheters a set of random needles? Both fiber arts are fantastic, having unique properties and textures. They also play very well together, as edgings or completely intermingled in projects. I have crocheted the yoke of a sweater for its decorative quality and then knitted the rest for the drape of the fabric. I am currently working on a simple granny square blanket that I plan on decorating with a garter st edging upon near completion. Then, there is my go-to-gift, a knitted washcloth with a crocheted edging (which I need to go finish and wrap when I am done typing).
So, here are some links to videos that will teach you to do the knitted cast on and to do the chain stitch, for knitting and crochet respectively. If you can do either of these base steps, then you can do all of it. If you are brave enough to take a look at them and to try, then you are brave enough to add the opposite skill to your fiber tool chest.
How to do the Knitted Cast On - the base row for your knitting
How to do the Chain Stitch - the base row for your crochet (this video also has how to do single crochet, the next step)
Both videos have a little refresher on how to make a slip knot at the start, so if you have any friends who do neither, then feel free to challenge them to learning something new, too.
Since you are taste testing these skills, you may want to take it a step further as you plan your new year. Below are the dates of the beginning levels of both.

Beginning Knitting:
Saturdays, January 15, 22, and 29 @ 4 to 6 pm
Wednesdays, February 9, 16, and 23 @ 6 to 8 pm
Saturdays, March 2, 9, and 16 @ 4 to 6 pm
Beginning Crochet
Saturdays, February 12, 19, and 26 @ 4 to 6 pm
Advanced Beginning Crochet
Tuesdays, March 22, 29 and April 5 @ 6 to 8 pm

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 23!

We're getting so close! And there is still time to pick up a quick gift for the knitter in your life if you haven't yet, the shop is open tomorrow, Christmas Eve, from 10am-2pm. Need some ideas??

Any knitter would be excited to receive a set of Interchangable Knitting needles! We carry the Denise set, which are plastic, and cost $50-55. I like these alot, I have a set and they are a good stand-by. If you want something a little fancier, we also have the Addi Turbo Click needles, which are $170. Another cute gift is the Knit Kit, a little case that has a tape measure, stitch counter, yarn cutter, stitch counter, crochet hook, collapsible scissors, stitch markers, point protectors, and a darning needle. That's a lot for $22! And, if nothing stikes your fancy, you can always get a Gift Certificate!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 22!

When giving a hand made fiber gift, we always worry if the recipient will know just how much careful they should be when considering washing their new treasure. There are two things that you can do to help ensure that there are no mysteries or accidental felting incidents.
Thing one: Include the ball band with your present. The ball band or tag holds all the information from composition to care (from "100% alpaca" to "handwash, lay flat to dry, etc."). Since you may be one who keeps the bands and tags or you may find that the care symbols are too hard for a lay person to interpret, you could copy down the information on a 3"x5" card or a decorative tag.

Thing two: You could become less subtle and include some wool wash with your gift. We have Eucalan brand in 3.3 oz at only $4.00, which is a small price to pay for some peace of mind. If you have a lucky individual whom you plan on knitting or crocheting a lifetime worth goodies for, then you may want to invest in a large bottle of Eucalan or Kookaburra. These rinse optional washes are almost easier than doing the regular laundry: fill a sink with cold or look warm water, add an appropriate amount of wash, insert fiber item, let soak for 20 mins., and lay flat to dry.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 21!

Today I have an extra special treat for you! Our awesome crochet teacher Elisa has sent us a great free pattern!

Leia's Lacy Scarf is so pretty, I just love it! Elisa always makes the most beautiful things, and I'm so excited that I can share this free pattern with you!

By Elisa Purnell
Copyright November 2007

The quickly mastered stitch pattern in this open, lacy scarf shows off your favorite variegated or hand-dyed yarn to great advantage.

-Schaefer Yarn Company Laurel or approx. 400 yards
aran weight yarn
-Size “I” crochet hook

Foundation Single Crochet (Fsc):
-chain 2, insert hook in first chain of chain 2 (closest
to slip knot), *draw up loop (you’ll have 2 loops on hook);
-YO, draw through first loop (**chain 1 made - still 2
loops on hook);
-YO, draw through remaining 2 loops. Fsc made.
-Insert hook in chain 1 of previous stitch, repeat from *.
“V” Stitch: (2 double crochet, chain 1, 2 double crochet) in same
Picot: Single crochet, chain 3, slip stitch in vertical bar and side
bar of single crochet just made.

Body of Scarf:
Foundation single crochet (Fsc) 19. Turn (do not chain). Slip stitch in top of first Fsc, chain 3.

Row 1: (2 double crochet, chain 1, 2 double crochet) in 3rd Fsc, *skip 2 Fsc, (2 double
crochet, chain 1, 2 double crochet) in next Fsc, repeat from *, skip 2 Fsc, double crochet in
last Fsc. (You should have 5 “V” stitch shells.)

Row 2: Chain 3, *(2 double crochet, chain 1, 2 double crochet) in next chain 1 space, repeat
from * across; double crochet in top of turning chain 3.

Repeat Row 2 until scarf is 80” long.
Chain 1, turn, work 19 single crochets evenly across.
Do not fasten off.

Picot Edge:
Working down long edge of scarf: Chain 1, single crochet in same stitch, single crochet in next, Picot in next stitch; *(single crochet in each of next 3 stitches, Picot in next stitch) to corner; (single crochet, chain 1, single crochet) in corner. Repeat from * around. Fasten off.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 20!

There is still time. To finish that last gift that you forgot that you needed. When we are open tomorrow (Tuesday), you can run in to get the supplies for this adorable, speedy scarf. With one hank of Misti Alpaca Chunky and US 13 or 15 needles, you can swiftly make this ruffled scarf. You can download the pattern at their website or remember to ask for a copy when you are picking up your yarn. This winter is at least the 3rd Christmas that our sample of this pattern has saved gift givers at 11th hour. I made one for my sister-in-law starting Christmas morning and had it ready to give at 2pm that afternoon.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 18!

So you have been working your fingers to the bone to complete your gifts on time. Are you ready to get yourself a gift or do you need some special luxury yarn to work that final last minute gift? Are you looking for something to get you out of the house during this dreary weather? Well, MADELINETOSH PASHMINA JUST ARRIVED!!!
This stunning yarn is a merino/silk/cashmere blend. It feels like a dream, the colors are breathtaking, and it comes with 360 yds (enough to make a lovely pashmina style shawl). Oh, and it is washable. There are new colors that haven't been seen on our shelves yet, so you'll want to see what's new. How could it be better?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 17!

Today I've got another tip on a quick Christmas gift to whip up, and this one is REALLY fast. I'm not kidding...Coffee Cup Sleeves! Much cuter and softer than the little cardboard sleeves that they slide onto your cup at the Coffee Shop, these are cute little gifts to give to teachers, your Mail Person, the neighbors, anyone!

It's such a simple little thing to knit, you can customize it with different cable patterns or whatever you feel like! I like to keep one in my purse and use it when I go to Starbucks or Coffee Bean.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 16!

So now you know the Spit Splice. Did you use it in the last couple of days?

Next, I want to bring you the Russian Join. I can't track down where I originally saw a little blurb about this join and almost no knitting references include it in their instructions. As I have shared this technique in groups, I have learned that there are little tweaks on it, as with every knitting skill. I present to you the way I like to do it.

1. Stop knitting when you have about 10" to 12" left on your old ball.
2. Load either the new end or the old end into a tapestry needle.
3. You will now sew one end into the other using a simple running stitch. Really work your way in between the fibers. Keep sewing in until you have about a 4" section of sewn overlapping yarn. 4. Holding all four tails (old end + new working end in one hand and new tail +old working end in the other), pull them away from each other to tighten the join. Think of pulling on a finger trap to escape unsuccessfully.
5. Knit with the newly joined strand as though it were continuous and just push the tails that are dangling to the wrong side.

The interesting thing about this join is that it doesn't feel like double thickness once you have it all worked in. I usually weave in the tails just for extra good measure when it comes to the finishing, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you may be able to clip the tails right up close without any extra attention. I have only tried that bold clipping on a scarf that won't be experiencing a ton of wear and tear. On garments, I haven't hazarded to try the clip and run.
Now that you are familiar with these two joining methods, wander into the shop and ask Terry about how she combines the two.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 15!

There are only 10 more days until Christmas, which means there are 10 more knitting days left! Today I want to share with you one of my favorite knitting books, Last Minute Knitted Gifts!
I've made a lot of things from this book, and true to the title, you can finish them all pretty quickly! The projects are rated by the time it takes to finish them, from Less-than-two-hour-gifts all the way up to More-than-eight-hour-gifts, you can find a cute gift to fit the amount of knitting time you have left! I thought I'd share with ya'll some of the projects I've made with this awesome book.

One thing I've made is one of Kim's Hats:
It knit up fast, was easy to do, and it fits really well!

I've also made the Child's Placket-neck Pullover
I love this pattern. It is so cute and really really fun to knit! This is my go-to baby sweater pattern. This pattern is a blank canvas for tons of possibilities. I chose to add stripes, but imagine a cute fair isle or intarsia design!
So, depending on how much time you have to knit, this book will offer lots of awesome patterns to suit your needs. Also, look for MORE Last Minute Knitted gifts by the same author.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 14!

Today is my little brother's birthday and in honor of his being a boy, I want to teach you a skill that boys (and plenty of girls) ought to be very good at - The Spit Splice; I talk about my brother like he is a 6 year old still, but he really a 26 year old today.
The Spit Splice is one of my most treasured fiber tools. It is a method for joining two ends of the same color without any tails remaining. It is applicable to all non superwash yarns that are 70% or more animal fiber (notice, basically the same rules as for what will and won't felt).
The Steps:
1. Stop knitting with your old ball of yarn when you have about 6" (leaving yourself enough room to maneuver).

2. Bringing the new ball of yarn into the picture, fray open both the old end and the new end. Open up these ends anywhere from an 1.5" to 2" down the line, really separating the plies down to the individual fiber (within reason though, this technique is meant to be fast).

3. Lay the two ends on top of each other, overlapping the splayed fibers.

4. Now comes the SPIT. You don't have to use real spit if you can't bring yourself to do so. You can dip one end into water before you lay it across the other end; you can suck on the two ends once they are overlapping; and for the most even dampening, you can keep a tiny travel spray bottle in your knitting bag and give the overlapped ends a light spritz. The most important thing is that you don't need to drench the ends.

5. Now, with the ends spit upon, place them, still overlapped, into the palm of your hand hand run them back and forth between both palms, creating lots of heat and friction. You are rolling them like you would roll clay to make a long wiggling snake. With the elements of dampness, heat, and friction, you may have put together that you are doing a mini felting project to join.

This joining method is plenty strong. Yes, if you yank on it hard to test its strength, then it will break, but so would your yarn anyway. This direct yanking is not the wear and tear that a single stitch would receive. ;) You do not have to wait for it to dry to carry on.
Hope you love it as much as I do!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 13!

If you are anything like me, you lose things a lot! Particularly, I have a hard time keeping track of my knitting notions! I can never find a yarn needle or tape measure when I need one! But the answer to my problem came from a little present from my sister (A tiny tape measure keychain!).

Get yourself a tape measure keychain, clip a bunch of stitch markers to it, add a cute pair of Puppy Snips (which we carry here at the shop!), add a yarn needle, and you've got all your necessities in one place! I just throw this little keychain in my purse and I'm always ready to weave in my ends or mark my place!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 12!

One morning a few years ago, my husband woke me with the wish that he could have a Santa Hat to wear to school (he's a teacher). After the irritation of his wanting me to pull this festive accessory out of thin air faded, it became a challenge. I thought, having finished simple beanies in large gauges within an hour and a half, I could easily deliver a knitted Santa Hat during the first few hours of the school day. Google did not fail me in my challenge quest; I found a link for the 2 Hour Santa Hat. Armed with a skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in white and deep purple, I found myself in the school parking lot around 10 or 10:30 am delivering a completed hat. I had found a ball of purple novelty fur to add in with the white for good measure. We have many balls of bulky yarn in stock and a fair amount of furry yarns still in the sale bins.
Looking at Ravelry today to refind the knitting link, I also found a crocheted version that looks pretty speedy as well.
P.S. It is purple because that is his favorite color. ;)
From Moonlight Stitches

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 11!

These are just a few of the pairs of socks that one of our lovely customers Alice has made! I think she might be addicted to knitting these, she's made soooo many pairs! Everytime she comes in she picks up more Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted (which might be my favorite yarn!) to make more pairs, I think she makes them for everyone she knows! I don't know exactly how many pairs she's made, but I would guess around 80, and she said she can whip up a pair in 2.5 days!

The colors from left to right are Unicorn Parade, Turquoise, Lorna's Purple Mustang, Satsuma, Montrose, and Happy Valley

Friday, December 10, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 10!

I am all about easy, beautiful, and fast gift ideas. We have this amazing yarn, Misti Alpaca's Baby Me Boo. I have actually declared it my very favorite yarn. It is the most perfect blend of 50% Baby Alpaca, 30% Merino Wool, 20% Bamboo, handpainted, or, as they call it, painted in the stitch, and a fun thick/thin texture. It also came with an easy pattern. The cowl pictured is the simplest thing: CO, work in a tube, and BO. If you stop when the ball weighs 50 grams, then you can get two good sized ones out of one ball. (If you follow the pattern, then it makes one with a fair amount left over.)

If you want to take on a more interesting cowl pattern, then you should come in and check out Terry's Over the Helix Cowl pattern.
Working in linen stitch and alternating colors each round, she has created an accessory that is as fun to wear as it is to make (and it is pretty fun to make). Her samples are worked in Noro Aya and some others have made it in two colors of Crystal Palace Mochi Plus.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 9!

Today I want to share with ya'll one of our shop favorite patterns, and one of my personal favorites! The Multi-directional Scarf, © 2003 Karen Baumer.

This free pattern doesn't look like much on the page, but It knits up into the cutest scarves that look intricate and difficult to knit, but secretly, it's super easy! If you can knit, increase, and decrease, you can make this scarf with ease!

Pictured are a couple that have been hanging out around the shop. The one on the left was knit out of Noro Silk Garden, the one on the right out of Artyarns Silk Rhapsody. And the one in the middle is one I'm working on right now! I'm making it for a Christmas gift out of one skein on Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in "Calumet". Variegated and self striping yarns are the best for this scarf, because it shows off the different directions that your stitches travel!

Not only is this pattern really fun to knit, it knits up pretty quick, too! I started my scarf last night and it's already about 28 inches long, which is good news because I still have 3 more Christmas presents to knit!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 8!

I am making sure that I have my late night knitting survival tools compiled.
Enjoying the quiet of the household late at night, I can get lots of work done on top secret presents by knitting into the wee hours.
Needs List:
-Good Lighting
-a couple of quilts (one for my shoulders and one for my lap)
-lots of tasty teas, especially peppermint (staying hydrated at all hours is very important)
-tons of movies to watch when my dvr list runs out.

Nighttime holiday knitting is not only very important work hours, but it is also a time when I can catch up my movie viewing that the husband and sons aren't interested in. There are a couple of places online that I am drawing my movie supply: and
Hulu holds A Charlie Brown Christmas and some great Cary Grant classics. Netflix has a ton in their "watch instantly" category that I didn't see in the theater, like Julie & Julia, Surrogates, and The Men Who Stare at Goats. I think that there is enough between those sites to keep me entertained through my gift knitting.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 7!

Let's get cozy! Last night, I made myself a cozy for my digital camera, and it took me about half an hour! Now, I'm gonna show you how to make your own!

You'll need any kind of yarn, it really doesn't matter. I used a little bit of leftover Cascade 220,
I've also used leftover bits of Noro Kureyon. You'll need a crochet hook that matches your yarn, I used a size G. Also, you need something to cover: a camera, cell phone, iPod, heck, even a laptop if you're feeling crazy!

To start, crochet a chain that is just a smidge longer than half of your electronic device (for my camera, that was 10 chains):

Chain 1 more, and single crochet across the top of each chain across the row:

Turn, and single crochet across the bottom of the chain back to where you started the round:

Now, work a single crochet into the first single crochet stitch we made:

And continue working a single crochet in each single crochet, around and around in a spiral:

Continue until the piece reaches the top of the electronic device when you try it on, stopping at the side of a long edge:

Now, slip stitch across to the center of the device:

Work a crochet chain long enough to reach across the top of the device and back, leaving room for a button (mine was about 14 chain stitches):

Slip stitch in the same stitch that the chain came from to join it to the other side:


Weave in your ends, sew on a button, and you're done! Get Cozy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 6!

Today I bring you the 56 Stitch Hat. I have been looking for a good excuse to use new Mirasol Ushya and a hat for my husband was just that excuse.

It works up lickety split (an evening worth of work).

Need a quick hat? You can download it here.

Yarn: 1 hank of Mirasol Ushya (114 yds/100g; 98% Merino and 2% Nylon)

Gauge: 2.5 sts/in

Needles: US13/9mm 16” circular and DPNs or needle size to obtain gauge

Finished Size: 22” head circumference; fits a 22”-25” head comfortably

Tools: Stitch Markers

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 5!

Tired of counting rows while you're knitting? Treat yourself with this little trick!

Let's say you have 10 rows to knit, and you don't want to keep a tally on a piece of scratch paper or a row counter. Just get yourself a bowl of 10 of your favorite snacks (like MnMs or peanuts), and everytime you finish a row, eat one! When you're out of snacks you'll be all done with your repeat!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 4!

Are you trimming the tree and decking the halls yet? As I drove home this evening after the holiday party, I could see that my neighbors had been busy as the number of lighted houses had doubled.

How 'bout knitting some ornaments to enhance your holiday decorating? Monday night, we will be having a class in the knitted globes pictured above. As shown, they are in the process of being starched around the shape of the balloon. Just in case you aren't free to join us, the pattern will be available in the store on Tuesday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 3!

I've gotten a late start this year on my holiday knitting, I just casted on this morning for a V-neck sweater vest for my dear boyfriend for his Christmas present... I hope I can finish it by the big day!

Every year I think "I'm gonna get started on my holiday gifts early, and save them for Christmastime!", but I usually don't.

Next year, I'm making a spreadsheet and putting everyone's names on it, along with the thing I want to knit for them, and every time I finish a gift, I can check it off my list (I love checking things off lists!)

What about you guys? Do you have a lot of gifts to make in these next few weeks, or did you think ahead?

(Oh, by the way, I can't recommended this yarn more! Manos Rittenhouse is soft, easy to work with, and knits up so nicely! I love the semi-solid dye-job, too!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 2

Hats are a great gift for both the men and women on your list, but most especially the men.
While I was recently flipping through Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules, I learned a new technique for hat making. If you can snag a tracing of the recipient's hand, then you will hold the key to how far to knit before working the decrease rounds. You now know that you should knit until the hat is the same length as his hand from the base of the palm to the end of the fingertips. This trick is advised to work for adult hats (in hat terms refers to anyone who needs a 20 inch hat which means both my two and ten year olds). In pinch, you can use your own hand.
Armed with this exciting new knowledge, I have been field testing it. So far it has seemed to hold true with one little tweak: we coastal dwellers seem to only need to work to our pointer finger. Cooler climates require more ear coverage so you would want to work from bottom of the palm to the middle finger.

This week is also countdown to our Holiday party on Saturday, Dec. 4th. Such a fun afternoon, potluck and prizes await you from 12 to 5 pm. If you bring two canned goods or a $2 donations to support Food Share, we will enter you in a drawing for some great stuff. Come with your holiday knitting and enjoy a great year end wrap up.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Countdown to Knitmas: Day 1!

Christmas time is here! We've got our Christmas tree and our lights up, and we even hung our stockings by the Register with care. We're gonna count you down to the big day with tips, tricks, and other goodies everyday! Let's start off with another great free pattern, this one by Anacapa Fine Yarns' owner, Lois!

May I present, the Easiest Christmas Stocking in the World!

From Anacapa Knits

You can download the pattern as a PDF Here: download now

Materials: Plymouth Encore Chunky, 1 skein in each Main color and contrasting color (shown in #0256 cream and #9601 red)
US #9 5.5mm needles

This is a great pattern when you need to knit up a stocking quickly! Maybe you have an extra guest over the holiday and you don't want them to feel left out, or the new baby in the family needs a stocking before Santa comes! Or maybe the family pooch has been a really good doggie and is getting some treats (I'll admit, I've knit a Christmas stocking for a dog...). Whatever the reason, this stocking knits up quick and darn cute, with a spot at the top to stitch your loved ones name onto it.