Tips & Trips & Trivia, Oh My!

Hi Everyone,
Welcome to February–an exciting month for many reasons. This week we have a new tip that will prove to be a lifeline, some February holiday trivia, and a few upcoming festivals and shows. Later this month we will release two new color ways, but that is a subject for an upcoming post (bwaahahahaaaa).

Not-So-Notable February Holidays
While there are a few very well-known American holidays in February like Groundhog Day (2/2), Superbowl Sunday (1st Sun in Feb), Valentine’s Day (2/14), and Presidents Day (3rd Mon in Feb), did you know there was also:

  • National Pizza Day (2/9) – It is appropriate this occurs in February; pizza pie is even mentioned in the song ‘That’s Amore’ because…well…love!
  • Singles Awareness Day (2/15) – Ummm…is that ironic or what?
  • National Drink Wine Day (2/18) – What a grape idea!
  • National Muffin Day (2/20) – Use this day to soak up the residuals of all that wine.
  • National Margarita Day (2/22) – Watch out when this falls on Taco Tuesday!
  • National Chili Day (2/23) – To bean or not to bean is the question!
  • National Tortilla Chip Day (2/24) – This wasn’t combined with Nat’l Margarita Day, why?

Valentine’s Day Trivia: Most stories of how this holiday originated are considered somewhat romantic. However, one of the martyrdom stories is based on a popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome, which indicated he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell. Saint Valentine was not the only martyr ever to sign a note in that manner. There are plenty of husbands and boyfriends who think they are martyrs at this time of year…bless their hearts.

Vertical Lifeline
Many knitters use a lifeline, especially when knitting open lacework, where tinking or frogging back to an earlier row is challenging due to ornate patterning. However, there is a great reason to use a vertical lifeline as well. “What is it?” you ask. A vertical lifeline is a piece of thread or  yarn, which is inserted at the beginning of a large number of repeats to keep track of a set number of those repeats. It is especially useful when using magic loop and knitting anything two at a time.

“How is it used?” you ask. For example, when knitting socks (or mittens or sleeves or 80’s legwarmers) two at a time on magic loop, it can be difficult to track position with four or more pieces involved. It’s especially confusing when the maker must set it down for some time. However, if the maker inserts a piece of thread at the beginning of an oft-repeated section and leaves it visible and reinserts it VERTICALLY every ten rows or so, it is easy to quickly review and count where the knitter left off the project.

The photo at right shows a vertical lifeline inserted into a sock and then reinserted every ten rows allowing the maker to count rows/repeats easily. A quick visual inspection of each section would show where the maker left off in the project so he/she doesn’t lose count, skip a section, or (aaack) knit backwards, which has happened to many of us when using magic loop.

Upcoming Events
Feb 16-18: The Fibre Studio will present a Trunk Show (aka Pop-Up Shop) at Hook & Needle Yarn Shop in Maryville, TN. (Studio Closed)
Feb 16-18: The Southern Alpaca Celebration will be held at the Cabarrus Arena in Concord, NC. This is a great opportunity to meet members of the Piedmont Fiber Guild (PFG) and learn of their local activities as well as learn more about alpaca and spinning.
Mar 3: For those interested in spinning but cannot attend the alpaca show, our next Spinning Saturday will be the first Saturday in March at The Fibre Studio; all skill levels are welcome. Just a reminder that The Fibre Studio is a retailer for Majacraft and Ashford spinning and weaving products. We are always happy to answer questions or arrange demos for those of you interested in learning more.

Want to know what we’re deweing? Pop in to see our studio wörks on Ravelry, Facebook, and Instagram as well as on our website at thefibrestudio.com.

Happy stitching, y’all!
The Ewe Crew

November 2017 Newes

Hi Everyone,
This November, we are celebrating the “golden age” of fiber, crafty ninja ewes, and a seasonal recipe.

We Put the Gold in These Winners
One of our newest gold standard projects is the Tilted Cowl. Our shop sample was made in luxurious Sea Song – Fingering, in three contrasting colors. We’ve used colors Indigo, BoHo Chic, and Golden Wheat in the sample (at left), but have offered a few additional color suggestions below.

This uniquely-shaped cowl combines the best characteristics of a cowl and a shawlette, and our Sea Song – Fingering (a Merino/Silk/Sea Cell™ blend) looks luminous and feels amazing against the skin.

   
Above Left: Golden Wheat, Cherokee, Sage Leaf
Above Middle: Purple Haze, BoHo Chic, Coral
Above Right: Silver, Mountain Thistle, Sage Leaf

We recently revealed our shop sample Winter Wheat (not to be confused with our color way of the same name), which is an asymmetrical cardigan by Atelier Alfa (aka AlfaKnits) with large textured stripes and an eccentric construction.

We used Cherokee, Deep Woods Red, Autumn Gold, Asparagus, and There’s a Storm Brewin’ in Walkabout – Fingering for our shop sample at right.

Winter Wheat 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.

The Yin and Yang of Shopping
Meet our three Ewe Ninjas. These ewes will help guide our customers and readership through one of the most harrowing shopping weekends of the year. Balance your shopping chi and learn about these little helpers.


Our first ewe ninja is Noir, who is our personal shopper for Black Friday. Noir will help you navigate our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ line, which will be on sale on Friday, November 24.

 


The second ewe ninja is Purpur, who is our personal shopper for Small Business Saturday. Purpur is a bit of a bag lady and will help you navigate our Atenti and custom Holly Aiken bags, which will be on sale on Saturday, November 25.

 

Named for the star of Stranger Things, our third ewe ninja is Eleven, who is the personal shopper for Cyber Monday. Eleven will help you navigate that strange and wonderful cyber space where beautiful yarns meet amazing projects. Eleven knows a secret, which is The Fibre Studio is having a sweater knit-a-long (KAL) in January. Hence, our Walkabout – Fingering, Merino Bamboo – Fingering, and our Patterns will be on sale on Monday, November 27. This will be a great time to stock up on fiber and patterns for generously-sized projects like large wraps and sweaters.

Stay tuned. More to come next week….same fluffybutt time, same fluffybutt channel.

A Seasonal Recipe
With the holiday season approaching and all the gorgeous apples available, we wanted to share an all-natural and tasty recipe with you.

Salted Caramel Fruit Dip (Makes About 2 1/2 Cups)
Ingredients:
2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
1/3 cup raw smooth hazelnut butter
3-4 tsp fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt (to taste)
Large, flaky salt to garnish (optional)
Instructions:
1. Cover dates in warm (but not hot) water and soak for 4-6 hours.
2. Drain the dates and place in a food processor, reserving date water.
3. Add hazelnut butter, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and sea salt to food processor. Process mixture on high until smooth. Add reserved date water (one tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency–thicker for dippin’ and thinner for drizzlin’. Garnish with flaky salt as desired.
4. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Serving Suggestions: Perfect as a dip for crisp, tart apple (or other firm fruit) slices or as a drizzle for apple-pecan “nachos.”

Want to know what we’re deweing? You can always pop in to see our studio wörks on Ravelry, Facebook, and Instagram as well as on our website at thefibrestudio.com

Peaceful stitching and mining for gold, y’all!
The Ewe Crew

What the….?!

Hi Everyone!
We are jumping on the “What the….?!” bandwagon! There are all sorts of sayings, acronyms, emoticons, expressive language (some more colorful than others), and fiber projects, which allow us to insert our own term into the question “What the….?!”  Here are today’s two favorites.

What the….Fade?!

Designed by Andrea Mowry, this What the Fade wrap pattern is her first ever Mystery Knit (ahem) FADE Along!!  The color suggestions (not kits) pictured are among the many potential options available in our Walkabout – Fingering and Freckles – Walkabout yarns.

Why no kits?” you ask. Two simple reasons: 1) to offer you the opportunity to stash bust on this very large project and 2) to encourage you to be your most creative, unique self. We would love to HELP you create your perfect project and don’t want to tie you to preset options. Of course, we’d be delighted to help you put together a one-of-a-kind kit.

Not interested in another mystery? Take a look at this Find Your Fade (at left) by the same designer. This gorgeous shawl was made by Anne Z who raided her stash and then also added our Walkabout – Fingering and Freckles – Walkabout yarns in variegated, tonals, and freckled yarns to bring it all together. A truly personalized beaut of a project!

What the….Fibre Studio?!
This past year has witnessed a lot of changes here at The Fibre Studio at Yarns to Dye For. We expanded our color palette and dye types to include Freckles, added new yarn bases (like Cotton Bamboo and Studio Sox ), and brought back our SW Merino – Sport and Lt Worsted and Bulky in a plethora of color ways.

Our most profound changes have been to our online shop. We redesigned it within a new platform and want to provide you with a visual aid to help navigate the new design AND to let you know what helpful information is available to you 24/7.

As with life, the only constant in our studio is change. Happy stitching, 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!

 

Easy As 1-2-3

Hi Everyone,
As you may have noticed, we’ve recently dedicated much of our blog post time to those topics (e.g. Size Matters, Color Matters, et al.) we hope will help our fiber community match patterns and yarn in a thoughtful or even courageous manner. Since 70% of yarnies buy the color ways and pattern combinations they see in photos or in shop samples, we wanted to share some of our favorite bundles on Ravelry.

Got stash? We certainly do. Like to bust that stash wide open? As do we! Below are Ravelry bundles with suggested patterns for 1-, 2-, 3- or other multi-skein projects, which will enable you to free up fiber storage space even as you create a project you love. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

One-Skein Wonder projects can be found here.
Dynamic Duo projects can be found here.
Triple Treat projects can be found here.
Knits in Kits projects can be found here.

Did you know local yarn shops and studios like The Fibre Studio receive a small wholesale income from the Ravelry patterns we sell? And at NO ADDITIONAL COST to the customer as well!? #shoplocal #shopsmall  During the purchase process, we provide our pattern customers both with a hard copy and an update to their Ravelry library. Many patterns shown in our Ravelry bundles are sold on our online shop here, and some of the online pattern pages display photos of our shop samples or customer projects completed in our yarn. Simplify your life and buy your yarn and patterns together.

Curiouser and curiouser. Let us know if there is a topic or a question you’d like answered on our blogs or emails. As a tight crafty community, you might just find that others have that same question or are curious about the same topic as you!

Happy stitching, y’all!

Summer Newes ‘n Such

Hi Everyone,
We have exciting newes for y’all–a new yarn base, a new gradient color way, a new tip, new projects, summer hours, and more.

Introducing Studio Sox
The Fibre Studio has found a new yarn base, which we call Studio Sox, and this fiber blows us away. It is a 75% SW Merino | 25% Nylon blend, and it takes color beautifully. We debuted it during our June 10 WWKiP Day celebration in color way Old Glory, and it was very well-received. Surprisingly, it has a soft and springy hand feel similar to our SW Merino – Fingering but is more tightly-plied and resilient for socks. We have some exciting ideas for our Studio Sox so stay tuned.

Holiday Hours
Please note: Due to the upcoming holiday, The Fibre Studio will NOT be open on Saturday, July 1, nor will we be open on Wednesday, July 5.

Introducing Princess
The Fibre Studio added a new color way called Princess to our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ line for our June 10 WWKiP Day celebration. It is now available on our online shop here. Princess evokes the whimsical pastel dresses of the various animated princesses, we all know and love. This color is Belle, Ariel, Aurora, Tiana, and Cinderella all rolled into one. There is a certain seaside cottage charm elicited by this color as well, and it would be beautiful knit into a lacy shawl and thrown over shoulders on summer evenings.

Flat-Bottom Girls
We have a new contender for an earlier blog post, Connections in the Round. One of our fellow yarnies was knitting a ribbed sock in our new Studio Sox. I asked her why it was flat, and she shared the most FABULOUS tip. She casts on her smaller projects, like hats and socks, and knits flat (back and forth) for two, four, or six rows. 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 a modified mattress or duplicate 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.

Fifty Plus One Projects
We are always looking for project ideas to utilize our yarns in unique and exciting combinations. Below are three very diverse projects, all of which could utilize one skein of our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ and one skein of our SW Merino – Fingering. The possibilities are endless. From left to right, they are Match & Move, Bad Blood Cowl, and Allira Shawl.

     

Stay tuned for our two-day Red, White, and You sale next week. Happy stitching, y’all!

 

Size Matters

Hi Everyone,
Last week, we discussed Color Matters and ways to match yarn bases, dye types and colors to a favorite project. This week we will discuss size because, contrary to what many say tongue-in-cheek, size DOES matter.

This week we’d like to introduce one of the biggest cowls we’ve ever seen. It’s the Bad Blood Cowl by Megan Bohlander. This cowl is basically one very long “stocking.” It feels amazing against the skin as the stockingnette side is always out no matter how the cowl is worn (long and loose or wrapped up around the neck). We have identified Bad Blood Kits here, which is perfect for public or social knitting, while the provisional cast on and grafted finish make it interesting even for experienced knitters.


While many of you have heard of our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ fiber line, did you know these fluffy, luxurious gradient cakes come in (what we fondly term) big-a$$ skeins? Yes, our gradients come in two generous sizes: in a 4 oz | 113 g (approx 560 yards) cake and a 7 oz | 200 g (approx 980 yards) cake. Instead of changing colors manually and weaving in all those ends, perhaps you could let the yarn do all the work!

Some of our favorite shawls, which use our big-a$$ gradient skeins are (from left to right): Brie Shawl in color way Seaside, River Cane Shawl in color way Old Glory, and Glacier Sweep in color way Glenda of the East.


Yarn Chicken and Other Barnyard Fiber Challenges

  • This may be the most “d’oh” tip we’ve ever offered, but honestly, the best way to ensure sufficient yarn for your project is to actually use the yarn base, weight, and yardage for your size, which is recommended in the pattern.
  • Knit a gauge! Use scrap yarn of the same type and weight as your project and knit a gauge(s), varying needle size until you meet the project’s gauge requirements. This will ensure your project will use the pattern’s estimated yardage and meet the size requirements.
  • To use a lighter weight yarn than called for in the pattern, calculate the percent increase in number of wraps per inch (wpi) from the recommended yarn weight to your desired yarn weight and then increase yardage by same percentage. For example, if pattern calls for worsted weight yarn (9 wpi) but you desire to use fingering weight yarn (14 wpi) your project will need 64% more yardage. The formula is 9 ÷ 14 = 0.64 and then (# yards of worsted in pattern) x 1.64 = (# yards of fingering to buy). [Please note: Needle size will also determine how much yardage you will need, but we are making the assumption the maker is going to use the needle size recommended for yarn weight.]
  • Playing yarn chicken (bock! bock!) is not always a fun activity. When calculating whether you have enough yarn to finish the remaining number of rows and bind off, we like the following process. Lay out your project as flat as possible (do not stretch but it must be flat). Lay out your working yarn across your project if flat (or around the project if in the round) three times for each row and six times for a stretchy bind off. You can do as often as necessary as your working yarn ball/cake diminishes.
  • This last tip isn’t about size so much as about happy endings. When purchasing yarn, buy enough (or more than enough) yarn in the same dye lot or group to finish your project. If you plan to “just buy more” if/when you run out, you may find a dye line across your project that is unsightly. Also, when making a large tonal project (like a sweater), it is recommended that the maker alternates skeins row-by-row to get a lovely and consistent result.

We hope you better understand how both color and size matters when selecting and making projects.

Happy stitching, y’all!