Thursday, January 31, 2013

Splurge with Exotic Qiviut Fiber!

Muskox
How would you like it if you were named after a bad smell?  Well that, unfortunately, is how the muskox got its name.  The males emit a nasty musk odor during mating season, hence the name muskox.

Muskox wool, however, does not smell - and is the most luxurious fiber on earth!  The muskox coat is a mix of black, gray and brown with long guard hairs that almost reach the ground.  You don't want coarse guard hairs ... it's the soft undercoat called qiviut (pronounced kee-vee-ute) that feels like butter in your hands.  Qiviut is eight times warmer than sheep's wool and retains its warmth even when wet.  Qiviut is the Eskimo word for "undercoat" - and who knows more about warm fiber than an Eskimo! 

Pure Qiviut in Brooks Blue
But it is more than just a warm fiber.  Qiviut is finer than cashmere, hypoallergenic and will not shrink.  It's also very durable, and a qiviut garment can last for generations. A luxurious fiber for those not shy about spending money on fabulous yarns, it also makes a wonderful gift!

Each spring the muskox naturally sheds its undercoat and domesticated animals are combed by hand to collect the glorious fiber.  Each animal produces from four to six pounds of qiviut - that's not much!  (By comparison a sheep, which is much smaller, produces about eight pounds of wool a year.)  After washing and combing the qiviut, you have about three pounds of usable fiber.        

Bluebell Rib Qiviut Scarf
Today most muskox run wild and many are protected in nature preserves, but some have been domesticated and are raised for their wool, milk and meat.  FiberWild! carries qiviut from Wind Valley Muskox, a small family farm in Colorado.  The Wind Valley yarn is a super-soft lace weight and is dyed in blue, plum, forest, and teal.  We have several one skein projects, including the Bluebell Rib Scarf.  The simple pattern allows the beauty of the yarn to take center stage! 

You deserve it - you've been good!  Splurge on exotic qiviut yarn and be the envy of all your friends.

Happy Knitting!     Amy


Friday, January 25, 2013

New for the "Crafty Lady" - ChiaoGoo Needles


ChiaoGoo Bamboo Needles
New Arrivals - "ChiaoGoo" circular knitting needles, double points, straights and interchangeables!

If you like Bamboo ...

Warm to the touch (even when left out in the car on a cold winter night!), ChiaoGoo bamboo needles are eco-friendly.  ChiaoGoo needles use moso bamboo, the largest and strongest of the bamboo species.  Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable resource - and moso bamboo is too big for panda bears to eat, they prefer the smaller species. 

Both the ChiaoGoo straight needles and double point bamboo needles have the US and metric sizes permanently laser printed on the needle, so it will not wear off. 

If you prefer interchangeables, you'll love the ChiaoGoo Spin Set.  The join between the needle tip and the cable utilize a screw mechanism (hence the name Spin) and are secured by a key so they won't pop off. These interchangeables also feature lifeline holes in the cables, so you will never have to unravel a piece over a mistake again.  (See Michelle Hunter's lifeline video to learn three different options for creating a lifeline.)  The ChiaoGoo Spin Set comes in Small (needle sizes US 2 - US 8), Large (US 9 - US 15) and Complete (US 2 - US 15) and all include a pretty and functional zippered case to keep your needles neat and secure!

If you prefer steel . . . .

ChiaoGoo Steel Red Lace
Have you tried the ChiaoGoo Steel Red Lace fixed circular needles?  These wonderful, lightweight needles are made of a high-grade, strong, stainless steel. They have a nice, smooth satin sheen that does not reflect any light, making it easier to see your work! The flexible cord is a multi-strand, nylon-coated steel cable which allows your yarn to slide easily.  The tip is ridiculously sharp - excellent for lace knitting or patterns with a lot of increases and decreases.

ChiaoGoo Twist Needle Set
 For a great value, get the ChiaoGoo Twist Interchangeable Set.  It's everything you love about ChiaoGoo's Steel Red Lace circular needles—lightweight yet strong stainless steel needle tips, flexible nylon-coated steel cables, and sharp lace tips—and it comes in a convenient and quality interchangeable set.  The join between the needle tip and the cable utilize a twist mechanism (hence the name Twist) and are secured by a key.  The interchangeables also feature lifeline holes in the cables, (See Michelle Hunter's lifeline video to learn three different options for creating a lifeline.)  The ChiaoGoo Twist Set comes in Small (needle sizes US 2 - US 8), Large (US 9 - US 15) and Complete (US 2 - US 15) and all include a stylish and functional zippered case to keep your needles neat and secure!

Leary of purchasing items made in China?  No worries.  ChiaoGoo is manufactured in China by a family-owned business which prides themselves with offering high quality knitting needles.  Started by four brothers, they were taught bamboo work by their father and grandfather, both traveling bamboo craftsman.  But their real inspiration came from their mother, an avid knitter who was their needle tester and often asked for special bamboo needles to meet her needs. 

And just what does ChiaoGoo mean?  Chiao (pronounced chau) means "crafty" and a Goo (pronounced gu) is a "lady".  So a ChiaoGoo is a "crafty lady"!

Happy knitting!    Amy

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Non-Knitters Guide


A "thing" of yarn is called a skein.
 It is an unfortunate fact of life that some of the most important people in our lives may not be yarn enthusiasts.  I see a lot of non-knitters dragged unwillingly into my store, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts for the non-knitters in our lives.  So parents, children, significant others, etc., read on!
  • Do not be afraid!  Yes, we carry sharp scissors and needles with us at all times, but for the most part knitters (and crocheters) are rather harmless.  We like to joke that we even share needles!
  • Multiple Projects are Normal and Necessary.  Don't expect us to finish one project before starting the next, this is simply not realistic!  Sometimes we may feel like working on a simple project, sometimes we want something more complex.  Sometimes we just don't feel like going downstairs, so we'll grab something out of the upstairs knitting basket.  Multiple projects are a sign that someone is creative, hardworking, and a great multi-tasker.
  • Learn to Knit Kit
  • LYS (Local Yarn Shop) Behavior.  Did your mother tell you not to touch things in a store?  That's not true at a yarn shop.  You should touch the yarn all you want, and comments like "Oooo, this is so soft!" are acceptable and welcomed.   
  • Yarn Budgeting.  There really isn't any such thing.  Hold back your comments when your knitter buys yarn for an endless number of projects, or even says "I don't know what I'm going to make with this yarn, but I just HAVE to have it!"  Resistance is futile!
  • Drink the Kool-Aid!  Tired of being a non-knitter?  You can join the knitters of the world by taking the Introduction to Knitting Workshop for hands-on help, or learn at home with a Lean to Knit kit that includes needles, yarn and a instructional book.

Happy Knitting!     Amy 








Tuesday, January 15, 2013

All Tweed Yarns on Sale - 20% Off!

Sir Rowan Tweed
Some might announce a new addition to their family by mailing birth announcements or holding a naming ceremony.  Not us.  We have a sale!  So in honor of our new kitty, Sir Rowan Tweed, we put all of our tweed yarn on sale!

We have 17 tweed yarns to choose from, each in a variety of colors, and all are 20% off!  Tweeds are great for warm sweaters and cozy mittens.  Most tweeds also felt well - just be sure to choose one that is 100% wool (and not machine washable) if you plan to felt. 

Rowan Tweed Aran Yarn
A traditional Scottish tweed yarn is a nubby wool.  Many of ours are 100% wool, although some are blends to add softness or to make washing easier.  According to fashion legend, the word "tweed" was coined in the 1830s when a London merchant received a letter from a Scottish firm advertising their woven twill wool fabric.  He misread the handwriting and thought the twill cloth was named after the Tweed River that runs through the textile district in Scotland.  He advertised the wool as tweed, and the name stuck.

Luxury Tweed Raglan
Luxury Tweed Raglan
So what should you do with your tweed yarn?  The Luxury Tweed Raglan sweater has a mock turtleneck and a slimming ribbed bottom.  You'll use Debbie Bliss' Luxury Tweed, a soft merino with 15% angora.  Looking for a crochet project?  Check out the Floppy Beret with Bill! Crocheted in Classic Elite's Portland Tweed, it's an easy project with very little finishing! Free patterns you say?  Michelle Hunter's Reciprocation fingerless glove pattern is a FREE pattern knit with Trekking 6-Ply Tweed

Dog Sweater PDF
Tahki Dog Sweater
Also, the Tahki Dog Sweater pattern is a very nice sweater for your pooch knit in Tahki's Donegal Tweed.  (Don't tell Sir Rowan Tweed, he'll hiss!)

Happy Knitting!      Amy

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years Knitting Resolutions

So what are your New Years Resolutions for 2013?  And I don't mean "Loosing Weight" or "Be a Better Friend" - I want to know what your Knitting Resolutions are!

Don't have any?  Well, here are some suggestions:
    Building Blocks
  • Learn a new knitting skill.  Sign-up for a class for some hands-on instruction, or learn at home with "Building Blocks" by Michelle Hunter.  The book teaches 12 new skills.  You end up with 12 blocks that you can finish into an afghan, baby blankets, pillows - or whatever your imagination can come up with! You can also join one of Michelle's Knit Alongs to learn new skills from home with video tutorials and support on her Knit Purl Hunter Ravlery Group!
  • Dig into your yarn stash.  We've all got a stash of yarn we bought with plans to use it "for something, someday."  Why not now?  I like scarf knitting to use-up stash yarn - the size doesn't matter, so you can just keep knitting until you run out of yarn.  If you prefer to go by the rules and follow a pattern, check out the Reverse Lace Scarf, it's easy to knit and uses almost any kind of yarn! For those who like to multitask, you can complete two resolutions at once if you use your worsted weight yarn in your yarn stash to learn new techniques with the Building Blocks book. You might have an interesting looking blanket when you finish, but what's wrong with a little color variation?!
  • Believe in UFOs (Un-Finished Objects).  Yes, you can finish that project that has been on the needles forever!  Need some friendly peer pressure to help you out?  Come to our free weekly Open Stitching every Thursday evening from 6 to 8 pm - just show up!
    Della Q Lily Zip Pouch
    
  • Visit More Local Yarn Shops.   This is especially fun to do when traveling.  Visit www.knitmap.com to find a yarn shop at your destination.
  • Needle Control.  Got all your needles stuffed in a coffee can?  A Della Q needle case will keep your needles well organized - and they're pretty!
By the way, Sean has commited to losing 20lbs this year! It's a "Threefer":
1) It's a New Year's Resolution.
2) It's a bet he made with his friend Joe.
3) It will be a minor miracle!

Have a great New Year - and Happy Knitting!     Amy