Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Knitting

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

So what does Memorial Day have to do with knitting?  A lot, in fact!

Memorial Day started as a day to honor soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War, and later it was expanded to include the fallen in all wars.

Sojourner Truth knitting, 1864
During the Civil War the government issued socks for the soldiers.  They were awful, and soldiers quickly learned to write home to their wives, mothers and sisters to send them good-quality, hand-made socks.  The Spring 2012 Knitting Traditions magazine has an excellent article on Civil War sock knitting, as well as two patterns for socks originally published in 1864 and 1865.  The magazine includes the original patterns, plus versions updated with modern knitting terms.

WWI Poster, 1917-1918
The knitting tradition continued through all of our country's wars.  The American Red Cross especially encouraged knitting during WWI and WWII.  There is a page on their museum website with some really interesting and original knitting patterns from World War II. 

You don't have to go back in history to help our troops this weekend.  A number of groups provide an opportunity for military charity knitting.  Socks for Soldiers, Inc. is a good one, and Ravelry has charity knitting groups including We Care Stitchers and Soldier's Angels.  You should also try your local knitting guilds and church groups.

When knitting for soldiers the military often requires 100% wool.  Wool blended with a polyester, and even some wool that has been "Superwash" treated, will melt when exposed to fire - causing major skin burning.  I often recommend Brown Sheep Nature Spun 100% wool to knitters making helmet liners and hats for our troops in the Middle East - nights are cold over there!  I also like to recommend Suzy the Shepherdess fingering weight 100% wool yarn to those knitting socks for soldiers - and all sock yarn is 15% off through the end of May!

Knitting for hospitalized soldiers (afghans and lap blankets are popular) often requires acrylic so that they can hold up under rigorous hospital washing.  I recommend Berroco's Comfort and Knit One Crochet Too's Nautika, both acrylic and nylon blends.   

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Curiously Foldable Tetra Stadium Blanket - And the Yarn is 20% Off!

The Curiously Foldable Tetra!

Hi Everyone! When we first saw the Tetra blanket designed by Jolie Elder, our reaction was “a blanket . . . . Yawn!” But when we looked at the pattern we discovered an incredibly interesting design technique ... obviously more than your grandma’s afghan!

The Tetra Stadium Blanket is a convertible, curiously foldable blanket that can take on many shapes.  It is constructed by knitting four blocks with two colors that are then folded and seamed. The finished blanket can then be folded in a number of different ways, creating unique two-color geometric patterns. You can even fold the blanket into a pouch to carry your supplies to the stadium! There are several ways to fold and use the Tetra Stadium Blanket:

Folded into a stadium cushion.
  • As a flat blanket, the Tetra is double-thickness with a pinwheel pattern. This is good for draping over legs.
  • Grab it in the center, and the Tetra will self-fold into a square striped four-layer pad, useful for making a warmer and more comfortable seat.
  • Push one corner up inside the opposite corner, and the Tetra becomes a large triangular pocket or sling, good for hauling pompoms, victory foam fingers, or treats.
  • Lay the triangle flat, and fold the two acute corners to meet at the right-angle corner. This produces an 8 layer cushion, perfect for when the game goes into overtime or extra innings.
  • Push one edge up inside the opposite edge (two corners inside two corners), and the Tetra becomes a rectangular four-layer pad, useful for two people.
  • Finally, challenge bored family members to find new ways to fold the blanket. The loser has to make a trip to the concession stand!
Jolie has videos on her blog Knot Knecessarily Knitting to demonstrate this great design, and here is the Ravelry page.
20% Off all Simplicity Yarn!

Each blanket uses two colors of Skacel’s Simplicity yarn, 8 skeins each ... the DK weight yarn is a soft 55% superwash wool/28% acrylic/17% nylon blend and is machine washable. Shop from over 60 colors of this versatile yarn ... or choose one of our pre-packaged Tetra Stadium Blanket Kits. We all “huddled” around and decided on eight popular color combinations ... either way, the Simplicity yarn is on-sale at 20% off, so the project cost is about $94.    

Word Geek Alert:  So what does the word "tetra" mean?  The name comes from the Greek word meaning a combination of four.  Appropriately named, you'll knit four squares and attach them in four different directions.  

Bonus: Free Shipping, and if we ship to an address outside of Illinois, no sales tax!

Another Bonus:  Whether you get the kit or choose your own colors, all Simplicity yarn is 20% off!

P.S.  Check out Jolie Elder's Serpentine Scarf pattern too!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Exclusive Color - Sugared Violet!

Spring Flower Toe-Up Socks

Hi Everyone!

I have a new exclusive color from Mountain Colors Yarns ... I call it “Sugared Violet.” It's a blend of pretty purples and blues, with just a hint of green.  I like the color so much I asked our friends at Mountain Colors to dye not only the ever-so-popular Crazyfoot sock yarn, but also their great Winter Lace Jr, and Alpaca Blend yarns. I was so inspired by the new color I designed a new sock pattern, the Spring Flower toe-up socks, perfect for the Crazyfoot!

Spring  Flower Pattern
Not into socks? ... no problem! I designed a new lacy shawl pattern for the Winter Lace yarn ... the “Sugared Violet Shawlette.” It’s a lovely classic design that is shaped to fit perfectly around your shoulders. I also whipped-up a new pattern to go with the Alpaca Blend ... an elegant pair of wristlets featuring a horseshoe cable. Not very spring-like, but I was inspired!

Horseshoe Cable Wristlets
Bonus: Buy any skein of our exclusive FiberWild! colorways and get the matching FiberWild! e-pattern free!

Another Bonus:  All sock yarn, including the new Sugared Violet in Crazyfoot, is on sale for 15% off through May 31st!

And Yet Another Bonus:  You always get free shipping to the US and Canada on all orders over $75!