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Archive for January, 2010

If you are looking to knit the Stitch Diva Endless Cardi Shawl primarily for warm weather wearing, I would recommend Soysilk or Bamboo fiber.

The Cardi-Shawl can even be worn backwards!

I swatched up SWTC Bamboo, which makes for a very thin, EXTREMELY drape-y garment. Perfect for extra-hot climates or layering this garment with a more fashion forward outfit. I got gauge on a size 6, but would recommend stepping down a needle size to counteract some of the stretching that can occur with bamboo. This yarn has a beautiful barely-there sheen for an extra dash of polish.

In the soysilk camp there are two ways to go: Plied or Tape construction. Both are breathable and easy to care for. For those of you un-initiated to the world of soysilk knitting, I can tell you it is best looked at in comparison to the more familiar cotton.

The plied option is called “Pure” by SWTC. The swatch has the hand of the llama or even the yak/bamboo, shockingly enough. It has a very slight cotton-y halo and is incredibly light in the hand. Like cotton, this option lacks stitch memory. If tugged on, the fabric will stretch and hang the way cotton does. However, because it is so light, it will not pull itself out of shape the way cotton can.

The tape option for this project would be “Oasis” by SWTC. The tape structure adds 2 key feature to this project: texture and bounce. Tape yarns show textured stitches, such as cables, in high relief. This project does not a have a particularly textured stitch pattern, but the tape yarn does give it a little extra personality. Each stitch has perfect stitch definition and those drop stitch rows really stand out. The bounce come from the knitted structure built right into the yarn itself. You can tug on the fabric pretty good and the whole garment just pulls right back into shape with this yarn. The tape yarn does add a bit of weight to the fabric. The heaviness of the yarn balances with its own springiness to create a beautifully draped, bouncy garment.

I have yet to knit up the swatch, but I can tell you this project would also be a joy to knit with SWTC Terra. The cotton/bamboo blend comes in a rich palette of earth tones. This yarn has an intriguing interplay between the earthiness of the cotton and the sheen of the bamboo. In fact, the idea of this garment knit up in this yarn is begging me to go swatch it up right now!

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I am so over the moon to make this announcement:

I have my first pattern for sale on Ravelry!

Honeycomb Shawlette

The pattern is the Honeycomb Shawlette. I cast this on during my student teaching when I just wanted a project to meditate over. It needed to be simple to memorize but require my rapt focus. It needed to be small and smash into my purse without complaint. It needed to be absolutely beautiful. After a year, almost 2 years, on the needles I finally finished it. I wear it everywhere. It is lofty, soft, squishy and exactly what I wanted. I get tons of compliments on it everywhere I go. I have to thank Barbara, a customer at one of the shops I rep at. She went absolutely ga-ga for it. Her enthusiasm and support really pushed me over the edge to write out and code up the pattern and make it available to the public. And here it is! The first of many Knest Designs!

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Joanna, modeling the amorphous garment "right side up"

On Thursday I was at Sister Arts Studio in Chicago to kick off a the Cardi Shawl Knit (and crochet) A Long. I first knit this garment (designed by Stitch Diva) last September. After raving about it to Donna at SASI over the pone and e-mail, I knew I just had to drop in wearing it. Just as I suspected, when she saw it in person, Donna decided that we must do this project as a Knit-A-Long.

The whole thing is knit up as one looooong rectangle, knit along the long edge instead of the short. The magic is in the 3 needle bind off. The resulting garment can be worn right side up, upside down, belted, pinned, open, even backwards!  Of all my garment projects, this is my most frequently worn item.

Please Note: photos never do this garment justice, though Donna and Joanna made a valiant effort! She is wearing the XS, which is generously sized enough to be tried on by significantly larger women. Customers who normally knit a size L or even XL are knitting this project in M.

To prepare for the Kick Off event, I knit up a small army of swatches. It was amazing how much there is to think about when planning a garment yarn choice. I admit, I usually don’t spend as much time on this step as I should. That will certainly change now! The key word you’re going to hear over and over with this project is “Drape”. This is not a densely knit wool sweater, it is an exciting foray into the sensuous world of slinky knits. Today I will cover the protein fibers I swatched up.

"Upside Down" and shawl pinned, my personal favorite way to wear this!

The most luscious choice by far was definitely the Lhasa Wilderness by Bijou Basin. It is a 75% yak, 25% bamboo DREAM of a yarn. I was in love before, but after this swatch, I am really dying to knit this garment again with this yarn. The swatch was unbelievably light and soft, but with spectacular drape and a barely-there sheen. The stitch definition was clear. This fiber combination is both breathable, hypo-allergenic, and warm. Considering this project would need just a hair over 4 skeins for the generously sized XS, this is a great “Bang For Your Buck” yak project.

If the Yak/Bamboo is just not in the budget, the new Llama Luxury from South West Trading Company is a spectacular substitute. It comes in a subtle palette of neutrals. The llama fiber is remarkably light, yet insulating (think alpaca). It drapes wonderfully, but has enough stitch memory to keep from looking saggy. The swatch had a slight halo, making it look oh-so-inviting to squish!  Soft and lovely next to the skin, you would need 7 skeins to make the XS.

Wearing it backwards; feels crazy, and yet it totally works!

The most popular choice at Knit Night was the Yin/Yang combination from SWTC. These are sister yarns, each 60%wool, 20% bamboo, 20% silk. Yang also has a iridescent mini-sequins held on by a silk thread. With these yarns you can knit most of the garment in the plain Yin, and then throw in some Yang on the ribbing and drop-stitch rows. It adds some extra sparkle and interest. The yarn itself has great stitch memory and knit up to a rather dense, bouncy swatch compared to the rest. The bamboo and silk contribute enough drape to keep the project hanging as it should.

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of Swatched With Love; Cellulose Strikes Back!

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We are all deeply saddened by the devastation in Haiti. I am sure many of you will be happy to hear that Jordana Paige is doing her part to send support to the struggling nation. Next week she is offering discontinued and/or damaged stock from the warehouse. All bags will be $50. 100% of these sales  will be going to Doctors Without Borders Haitian Relief. All the bags are in useable condition (no missing handles or gaping holes). Most have minor cosmetic issues like upside-down labels or fabric scratches. The beloved Rio in Red will be available! I know lots of you have been begging to get that one back. This is a rare opportunity to not only get your hands on a spectacular handbag, but also to send support to people in dire need. Please check out Jordana’s Blog for more information.

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Tea and Swatches

In preparation for a very exciting night this Thursday at Sister Arts Studio, in Chicago, I have been a’swatchin’!

You may remember, last fall I knit the Stitch Diva Endless Cardi Shawl. It was a delightfully simple yet satisfying project. I wore the resulting, um, cardi? shawl? wrap?…garment to knit night. It was a smash hit and I got knitters’ handshakes from every direction. Well, We decided that it needed to be a Knit-A-Long.

I knit my original garment using stash yarn, not yarn I sell. However, several of the yarns that I carry would be stellar subs for this project. The garment demands a drape and sheen to be successful. I have been swatching and sampling from my rep kits to help customers pick their favorite yarns for their projects.

If you are interested in joining this KAL, we will be kicking it off at Sister Arts Studio on Thursday at 6:30.

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Sorry for dropping off the Blog-O-Sphere for a while, I do still exist!

Part of the reason for my absence is the gone-missing-ness of my camera upload cable. Posts without photos are like decaf-espresso shots….no fun. Well, I have unearthed the errant cable and so here I am! Lets catch up a little.

The gifts, all tarted up for the big day

Due to a slow December, I did get all my X-mas knitting and quite a few other people’s shopping done well in advance. I was quite pleased with how all the gifts looked, wrapped and ready for Christmas morning! Everything seemed to be pretty well received and appreciated. It was a (relatively) peaceful holiday with precious little drama, besides my mother’s brand new, top of the line oven going Ka-Putt on us, X-mas eve with loads of family members due to arrive the next day… and nothing prepared. We managed to keep our wits about us and everything worked out just fine, though.

Mom in our classy room!

Once the holidays were over I got ready for a big trip out to Anoka, MN for a fashion show at Shepherd’s Choice. I will confess, I was more than a little concerned about this trip. The event was booked in the middle of the day on a Saturday, meaning that I would be hard pressed to either drive in that morning and immediately put on the show, or drive out right after the show, being on the road alone in the dark well into the night. I could not find any other appointments out that way so I could not justify staying overnight for 2 nights for just one appointment. Also, right before I left there was a big ole’ dump of snow right over my route, making the roads impassable, at least in my immediate area. I was more than a little on edge about going all that way in those conditions all alone.

Well, long story short, my mom came to the rescue! We drove out there on Friday afternoon, in the brand new SUV she got for X-mas! We decided to stay in Stillwater, MN, because I’ve been there before and thought it was adorable! Well, Stillwater was indeed adorable, but DARN COLD! Mom and I checked into the deal-of-the-century Water Street Inn, and were beyond grateful to be inside from the -10 temps outside.

All set up for Bubble-then-Snuggle, I guess

Besides being affordable, adorable, and warm, the Water Street Inn also had Spectacular food (the best meal I’ve had on the road to date!). There was live music in the bar and the holiday decorations were still up, making my mom feel festive and smile-y. The room had one surprising feature, worthy of photos: a whirlpool tub right smack-dab in the bedroom! We did not use it, but we were amused by it. We instead decided to cozy up to the in room fireplace to relax. I will certainly be staying at the Water Street Inn again. Mom says she would love to come back to Stillwater to shop and explore, only next time when the weather supports human life.

The next day we went over to Shepherd’s Choice in Anoka, MN for the fashion event. We were greeted with warm smiles and great enthusiasm, despite the continued deep freeze outside. The fashion event was a great success! Customers knit with sample balls from Bijou Basin, fondled sample garments, learned a great deal about luxury yak fiber, and then settled in for a SWTC fashion show… complete with volunteer models. It seemed a little silly, talking about breathable, lightweight summer fibers like soysilk and bamboo, but I think everybody found it hopeful and comforting. Spring will get here eventually, we should start preparing for it now!

I will be posting photos from this event, but alas….more camera cable capers! My mom took photos on her camera and so she gave me the camera to upload them, but I do not have her cable.

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