Tilting Cowls, Strings ‘n Things

Hi All,
This week we have another beautiful sample to share as well as a mini fiber wiki. We also want to revisit our Save the Knockers Campaign. We hope this information will encourage shoppers to try new fibers or help identify better yarns choices for specific project types when they are out and about at festivals, fairs, and shows.

Tilted Cowl by Jenny F
   
This uniquely-shaped cowl by designer Jenny F. may be the perfect marriage of cowl and shawl. Instead of the standard tubular shape, this cowl begins simply in the round but then branches out and grows like a shawl as it comes to a point on one side. It gives you the warmth and comfort around the neck while the length of the cowl comes to a point without having to worry about ends falling off the shoulders, coming untied, or creating a lump under your sweater or coat.

We love our Sea Song – Fingering and Cashmere Silk – Fingering for this project.

Strings ‘n Things
As many of you travel to SAFF and other fall fiber shows, you may encounter exotic fibers or terminology, which may be unknown to you. All fibers have inherent characteristics, which make them both unique and appropriate for certain projects or garments. Below are some of these terms and fibers and their basic characteristics.

Fleece: A woolen coat of a domestic sheep, long-haired goat, or other (usually domesticated pack) animal, especially after being sheared (but before being processed into yarn or thread).
Wool: Made from the fleece of sheep, it is the mother of all yarns and threads and remains the most popular choice for yarns. Types of wool include (but are not limited to) Merino, lambswool, Shetland wool, and Icelandic wool.
Superwash Merino/Wool: Woolen fleece, which has been processed to remove the outer scales of the fiber, thus removing the natural fuzzy crimping properties, which could cause it to felt. This “washable” wool can be machine-washed, although it is usually recommended to wash on gentle cycles or in a laundry bag and dried flat. This informative article on how the superwash industry made a comeback in the USA was shared by Christina O. (thank you) recently on social media.
Alpaca: The natural fleece harvested from an alpaca of which there are two varieties–the Suri and Huacaya. It is soft, durable, luxurious, and silky and, while similar to sheep’s wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpaca is naturally water-repellent and flame-resistant.
Angora: The fur of the Angora rabbit. Angora is known for its softness, thin fibers, and what makers refer to as a halo (fluffiness). It is rare to see 100% Angora due both to the expense and pilling/felting properties of the fiber; it is usually mixed with another fiber like superwash wool or silk to strengthen the fiber.
Mohair: The hair of the Angora goat. Resilient and noted for its high luster and sheen. Mohair is warm in winter, while remaining cool in summer due to its moisture-wicking properties. It is durable, naturally elastic, flame-resistant and crease-resistant.
Cashmere: The fleece or fiber from a cashmere (or familial) goat that is technically a form of wool. The word cashmere is an old spelling of the Kashmir northernmost geographical region of South Asia also known for its very fine sapphires. Cashmere is finer, stronger, lighter, softer, and approximately three times more insulating than sheep’s wool.
Silk: A natural protein fiber composed mainly of fibroin, produced by certain insect larvae. The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fiber, which allows silk textiles to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colors. Silk is the strongest natural fiber known to man and is often blended with other shorter and weaker fibers to increase both beauty and durability.
Cotton: A soft, fluffy staple fiber grown in a hard, prickly cotton boll (the real irony is how soft are cotton “balls”). Cotton is a versatile and breathable fabric and is the most widely used plant fiber in the textile industry. It does, however, grow and stretch when it is wet so it is not the best fiber for items that have some heft or length. It will also shrink under extremely hot conditions. Remnants of cotton fabrics have been found pulled from prehistoric sites.
Rayon of Bamboo: Fiber created from the cellulose extracted from bamboo plants. It is considered a semi-synthetic fiber because the cellulose is chemically-altered, however, it makes a fiber that is strong with a lovely sheen (similar to silk blends) and is beautifully paired with other fibers like cotton and merino.
Tweed: Yarn which has a primary background color but is flecked with different colors usually during the spinning or plying process. Tweed (or twilled) textiles are created with purposeful flecks often in patterns like herringbone or houndstooth.
Heather: Yarn spun from fleeces pre-mixed with different color natural or dyed fibers.
Marled/Ragg: A plied yarn in which the individual plies or strands are of different colors.

We Still Think Pink in October
We have NOT lost sight of the fact that it is STILL October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are fully committed to our Save the Knockers Campaign, which is still going strong. Our sponsorship (donating free knockers yarn to those who sign up at our studio) of the Knitted Knockers.org project will extend into next year. Further, one of our dyers (Glenda T) has knit a beautiful shawlette from pattern called Kindness (bottom right) by designer Jaala Spiro in our color way Hope, part of our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ lineup. The pattern is currently free on Ravelry and makes a beautiful gift for self or someone you love.
 

Safe travels and happy stitching, y’all!

Harvesting Wheat and Other Fall Treats

Hi Everyone,
It’s here; it’s here! Our shop sample of Winter Wheat (completed by the talented Linda R) is finally in the shop, and it is so scrumptiously beautiful. If you haven’t identified a fall project, this may be just the one for you.

Winter Wheat is an asymmetrical cardigan by Atelier Alfa (aka AlfaKnits) with large textured stripes and an eccentric construction. It is worked top down and sideways at the same time. The left front and the collar are worked in one piece and the top stripes wrap around the neck as a shawl. This special construction ensures the left front falls straight and the right front more fluidly.

Stitches are left on hold for the sleeves and the body is worked top down with more interesting stitch patterns and textures. The sleeves are also worked top down; the right side has the same large stripes. The left sleeve is finished with some smaller stripes at the bottom. Finally an attached I-cord can be added with a few afterthought buttonholes. Sample shown in Walkabout – Fingering in color ways Cherokee, There’s a Storm Brewin, Deep Woods Red, Kale, and Autumn Gold.

Rolling…Rolling…Rolling
The Fibre Studio is again taking “the show on the road” on October 7. We are presenting a Trunk Show at Admit Ewe Knit yarn shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, our lovely state capitol. If you are in the area, pop in for our pop up and peruse our shop samples in person to find your next favorite project…whether it’s Sweatitude (sweaters with attitude), a Fade (What the Fade or Find Your Fade), or you’re seeking a Starting Point…and the meaning of it all! We have something right for ewe.

Another reminder that we are still in the throes of our preemptive Save the Knockers Campaign in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. We are seeking Knitted Knockers knitters (say that five times quickly) and taking orders for Hope (below left) as part of our campaign. We are also taking pre-orders for our new Fifty Shades of Gradient™ color ways Amsterdam (below center) and Joplin (below right) for the Charlotte Yarn Crawl, which begins on September 22.

   

What’s on your needles or in your queue for this fall, y’all?

Unraveled: Fiber Q&A 05 – Binding Off

Hi All! We are again tackling a highly-personalized topic for knitters. Continuing from our last Unraveled blog post in the series, which was dedicated to cast on methods, today we will discuss bind off methods.

While there are many bind off methods available to knitters, here are several methods which will be utilized repeatedly. We think these methods are great tools for any maker to have in his/her knitting arsenal.

“Why are you sharing several bind off methods but only highlighted a few cast on methods?” you ask. It’s simple really. With a cast on, there’s just “empty space” with needles and a bit of working yarn. However, when there are infinite types of projects and stitch combinations already on the needles at the end of a project, selecting the correct bind off really pays homage to the finished project. It can even “make or break” it.

The Bind…Off (BO)

 

 

 

 

Knitted BO Method: This is the most basic bind off method and should be utilized with right side of fabric facing knitter. Tight knitters should go up 1-2 needle sizes to prevent puckering.

Knit two stitches, pass the first worked stitch over the second worked stitch, leaving remaining stitch on right needle. *Knit another stitch, and pass first worked stitch over last worked stitch, leaving remaining stitch on right needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Stretchy BO Method: This bind off method is great for most all projects, but especially for lace knitting (where projects are aggressively blocked) and for finishing projects which may need to stretch and shrink (e.g. hats, cuffs, socks, et al). This method is already stretchy (most makers do not need to go up a needle size) and is worked with right side of fabric facing the knitter. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

*Knit two stitches together through the back loop and move worked stitch back to the left needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Stretchy Rib BO Method: This bind off method is quite useful for rib combinations (1:1, 2:1, 2:2, et al) when the maker doesn’t want that “flare out” at the end of their project. You know what I mean…that stretched out appearance which can make brand new garments look worn and socks not stay up on the leg. This method is worked with right side of fabric facing the knitter; the method alters based on the “next” stitch. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

Based on rib stitch in row below, knit/purl first stitch. *Looking at the next stitch to be worked, twist existing worked stitch by turning right needle 360 degrees (clockwise for an upcoming knit stitch and counter-clockwise for an upcoming purl stitch), and then work the next stitch as usual in the rib. Pass first worked stitch over second worked stitch.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Icelandic BO Method: This semi-stretchy bind off method is appropriate for binding off those projects knit in garter or with slipped stitches because the resulting edge has very defined horizontal bars. This bind off can be completed from either right or wrong side facing rows. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

*With yarn in back, insert your right needle into the first stitch as if to purl. After insertion, take tip of right needle and insert into second stitch on left needle as if to knit. Wrap working yarn around right needle and knit that second stitch. Move worked stitch back onto left needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Picot BO Method: This decorative method can really finish a lace project beautifully. There is a simple math equation used herein. Basically, the maker should bind off twice as many stitches as he/she casts on. The more stitches cast on, the larger the picot bump. Also, due to the additional cast on stitches, this bind off method utilizes about twice as much yardage to bind off. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

For a small picot – *Cast on two stitches. Knit two stitches and pass first worked stitch over second stitch. Knit the next stitch and pass the first worked stitch over the second stitch…three more times. Slip remaining working stitch back to left needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

I-Cord BO Method: This bind off method is the most complicated and possibly the one utilized the least. However, understanding how this method works is of great benefit when the maker wants to create a beautifully smooth finished edge to a garment and is also beneficial for baby blankets and wash cloths. This method creates a closed edge (and can use 3 or more stitches depending upon the maker’s preferences) so it holds up to wear very well. It also utilizes a lot of yarn to finish the project. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

For a 3-stitch I-Cord, cast on three new stitches. *Knit two of the new stitches. Knit the third new stitch along with the next “old” stitch together through the back loop. Move all three stitches on the right needle back to the left needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Feel free to share this or any of our blog posts with your greater fiber community and/or those newbies you’d like to teach to knit. Sharing is caring, and we love welcoming new fiber artists and makers into our community.

Happy and peaceful stitching, y’all!

 

Unraveled: Fiber Q&A 04 – Casting On

Continuing our Unraveled series, today we are going to tackle one of two topics, about which some makers feel so strongly, we’re quite sure we can already hear someone’s yarn felting from steam and agitation all the way from over here. (Ha!)

In this post, we answer what WE think are the best cast on methods (our next blog of the series will discuss the bind off). There are many available cast on and bind off methods available to knitters, but we’ve narrowed our blog topics down to a few of each, which we think will repeatedly prove useful during future projects.

The Cast…On (CO)

Long Tail CO Method: This is a great method when you need a fairly stretchy cast on and only a minimal number of stitches needed–a good thing since part of the tail is used to create the cast on stitches. We’ve linked a helpful video here.

Create a slip knot where there is enough tail remaining to create all stitches (depends upon weight and wpi calculations). Place the slip knot on needle and hold the needle in your dominant hand. Ensure the yarn tail is facing you. Insert your non-dominant hand thumb and index finger between your two strands of yarn (tail and working yarn). Close the rest of your fingers around the yarn, which creates tension. While holding your non-dominant hand like holding a slingshot, insert the needle under the strand that is wrapped around your thumb. Lift your needle up and around the top of the strand that is held between your fingers. Bring your yarn out through the thumb loop. Pull your thumb from the loop of the yarn and pull the yarn to tighten the newly-developed stitch. Repeat until the correct number of stitches are on your needle.

Knitted CO Method: This is a consistent method when there is a large number of stitches to cast on and when the cast on edge will be easily seen in in the final project. We’ve linked a helpful video here.

Create a slip knot where there is about six inches of yarn tail remaining. Place the slip knot on needle and hold the needle in your non-dominant hand. Use your fingers to hold the yarn tail out of the way. Holding the other needle in your dominant hand, insert the needle into the slip knot and work a knit stitch, but do NOT slip the previous stitch off of the other needle. With the dominant hand needle still inserted into the new stitch, pull the stitch long, tilt it away from you (to open it up), insert the non-dominant needle into the new stitch, and gently place the stitch on this needle. Insert your dominant needle into the newest stitch as if to knit and repeat until the correct number of stitches are on your needle.

Cable CO Method: This method begins the same as the Knitted Method, however, the remaining steps create definitive spacing and ensure ribs and other stretchy set up rows do not flare or buckle. We’ve linked a helpful video here.

Create a slip knot where there is about six inches of yarn tail remaining. Place the slip knot on needle and hold the needle in your non-dominant hand. Use your fingers to hold the yarn tail out of the way. Holding the other needle in your dominant hand, insert the needle into the slip knot and work a knit stitch, but do NOT slip the previous stitch off of the other needle. With the dominant hand needle still inserted into the new stitch, pull the stitch long, tilt it away from you (to open it up), insert the non-dominant needle into the new stitch, and gently place the stitch on this needle. Insert your dominant needle completely BETWEEN the slip knot stitch and the newly-formed stitch (AND NOT INTO IT), wrap the yarn as if to knit, and pull the stitch through the two stitches. Do NOT slip the previous stitch off of the other needle. With the dominant hand needle still inserted into the new stitch, pull the stitch long, tilt it away from you (to open it up), insert the non-dominant needle into the new stitch, and gently place the stitch on this needle. Repeat as necessary.

For experienced knitters, these are not new methods, however, if you are a beginner or are teaching a friend or loved one how to knit, we hope this list proves to be a useful resource.

Peaceful stitching, y’all!

Unraveled: Fiber Q&A 03 – Connections in the Round

Happy New Year, everyone! We thought we would start off the new year by posting a new segment in our Unraveled series. With all the beautiful cowls and infinity scarves, which have been posted these past weeks, this post is dedicated to knitting in the round.

cowl-photos[Pictured Above: (On Left) 3 Color Cashmere Cowl in colorways Cherokee, There’s a Storm Brewin’, and Autumn Gold & (On Right) Soul Warmer Cowl in CPK6 – Dark Side of the Rainbow]

We will discuss two primary topics: how to seamlessly 1) join your cast on stitches in the round and 2) add jogless second (third, fourth, etc.) colors. [Note: These tips work for any type of needle.]

Joining in the Round
After casting all of your required pattern stitches, cast on one additional stitch. Ensure all cast on stitches are facing the same direction (inside of circle) so there is no twist or moebius created at the very beginning of the project. Slip the first cast on stitch purlwise from left to right needle. Take the last (extra) stitch cast on on the right needle and pass it over the newly slipped stitch. Tighten both the working yarn as well as the end yarn to remove any bar or gap. Place a stitch marker on the right needle to mark the beginning of your row and begin to knit in pattern.

A helpful video for joining your work in the round can be found here.

Update Since Original Posting
Another way to join in the round came from a fellow yarn who was trying our our Studio Sox yarn in a ribbed sock pattern. She starts all her small projects like hats and socks flat (back and forth), knitting two or four or six rows. Then, when her working yarn meets back up at the starting point (where her end is located), she connects her projects in the round–but only AFTER there is enough yarn in the project to prevent pulling, stretching, etc. When she weaves in her end, she simply uses the mattress stitch up the side. Voila…a very smooth, seamless join. For those of us who use double-pointed needles, this prevents that crazy helicoptering effect that occurs when there are only 1-2 rows on the needles, and the needles are stronger than the yarn.

Changing Colors in the Round
When it’s time for a color change, add the next color and knit just as if flat knitting. At the end of the row, take the right needle and pull up the stitch directly below the first stitch of the current row and place it on the left needle right beside the first stitch of existing row. Knit both the first stitch of the row and the pulled up stitch together as the first stitch of the row and continue to knit in pattern and color.

After a few rows, ensure the color join is seamless by weaving the yarn ends on the back side of your work using duplicate stitch.

A helpful video for changing colors in the round can be found here.

As always, we encourage you to post your cowl and infinity scarf projects and pictures on our Facebook page here or on our Ravelry page here.

Happy stitching, y’all!