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

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!

Two As One

Hi Everyone,

The ladies here at The Fibre Studio are frequently amazed and gratified by the generous acts of service within our greater fiber community. One of our favorite yarnies is Ginny S. Our Ginny crochets “The Ginny” shawl for many of her friends and family. These gifts, made from some of the finest yarns and generously-proportioned, are truly gifted from the heart.

Ginny’s magnanimity made us think about those that knit for self AND for others, and we wanted to create a product for those customers who want the ultimate in color flexibility, but who still want to make something special. After all, life is too short to knit with acrylic bad yarn.

Introducing our new Mosaic Knit Kit Builder, an “interactive” add-on built for the maker with an interest in mosaic style shawls and who may knit for others. What is mosaic knitting, you ask? Mosaic knitting at its simplest is the technique where the maker utilizes multiple yarn colors (only one color at a time) along with slip stitches to create intermingled geometric patterns.

Many of the featured shawl patterns in our kit builder utilize “odd” amounts of yarn so The Fibre Studio has identified a way to maximize yarn usage and pattern options to enable customers to identify two, 8-ounce skeins of yarn in their favorite contrasting colors and then decide which two shawls they want to make–for self, to gift, or to work with a friend.

All featured patterns combinations were reviewed for yardage requirements. Any two patterns herein will use up to TWO, 8-ounce skeins (approx 1120 yards each) of our SW Merino – Fingering, a 2-ply yarn, which is fluffy and springy in the hand.

How to Build Your Kit
1. From our Mosaic Knit Kit Builder page, select which two patterns in the kit builder you want to purchase and add them to your cart;
2. Go to the SW Merino – Fingering collection and select two, 8-ounce skeins of yarn in contrasting color ways and add them to your cart;
3. Provided you have added the Mosaic Knit Kit to your cart and meet the minimum purchase of $100, use the discount code MOSAIC at checkout to get 50% off the kit builder (i.e. one of the patterns for free).

This is a “TWOfer YOU” deal you won’t want to miss! With the purchase of TWO, 8-ounce skeins you get TWO patterns, resulting in TWO shawls. And YOU choose the kit!

We love our fiber community and the attitude of gratitude and generosity that abounds within it. We also love finding new ways to enable creativity within that community. 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!

 

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!

knitCompanion Workshop

Are your hands full?  Does your lap runneth over with yarn, needles AND your paper pattern, stitch counter, row markers?

Learn how to utilize knitCompanion, a user- and device-friendly app, which can simplify your life AND open up space on your lap for that lovely, fluffy, soft yarn you’re currently working.

Charlotte knitting guru, Linda Rudisill, will teach you how to update or download the latest version of the app to your device, download your next project pattern, review the app’s existing tools as well as additional tools available with upgrades, and then personalize the viewing screen to YOUR particular specifications.

Have ADD/ADHD and dance with the squirrel on a regular basis?  No worries!  The app screen may be simplified to draw the eye to the most basic of information–perhaps only the written instructions with the stitch counter.  Love to see everything on one page?  Conversely, the app can be set to show sections of your pattern’s written instructions, stitch counter, corresponding chart sections, and chart key.

Join us for this knitCompanion class and never be a lonely, overwhelmed knitter again.  Class info is as follows:

Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Time: 10:30am to 12:30pm
Location:  The Fibre Studio at Yarns to Dye For, 658 Griffith Road, Suite 107 | Charlotte, NC  28217
Cost:  $20 per person (Attendees must pay by cash or check made out to Linda Rudisill. Cost does not include app or pattern download.)

Fixing Mistakes I

This 2-hour class will cover ways to avoid making mistakes, to decide if a mistake is structural or cosmetic, to identify and correct the most common mistakes (ex. – dropped stitches, skipped stitches, split stitches) in stockinette, garter, rib and seed stitch.

The class will also cover tinking, frogging, and whether or not to fix a mistake at all.

Please check our calendar for available dates and call The Fibre Studio to reserve your spot.

Cost: $25