Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Flax Hand Towel - A Favorite for Centuries

If you're looking for a small project for on-the-go summer knitting and want something both practical and beautiful, this great two-skein heirloom Flax Hand Towel is just what you're after!

Flax Hand Towel
Brides, mothers, mothers-in-law, new babies, anyone moving into a new home, holiday gifts (knit now to reduce your holiday stress this year!), anyone with a birthday, or yourself . . . .  Who can't use a hand towel?  

This easy-to-knit lace-edged hand towel is an ideal project both for portability and for easy gifts. With a simple lace edging, the hand towel is also a quick and easy way to learn lace knitting.

And if you're worried about a delicate hand-knit piece getting used, don't.  Knit in Euroflax Sport 100% linen yarn, the finished towels are also extremely durable. Toss it in the washer and dryer to clean, and it just gets softer and softer with use.

Detail of Flax Hand Towel
Bonus: Receive the pattern FREE with the purchase of Euroflax Sport!

Euroflax Sport is 100% wet spun linen, and is the industry standard for all-natural linen, for good reason.  Wash it.  Use it. Wash it again.  It only gets softer and more luscious.  Euroflax is the real deal.  Expect drape, durability, wonderful natural sheen, and a beautiful palette of 14 gorgeous colors.

Tarkhan Dress, c 2800 BC
Flax has been a favorite fiber for centuries, and it was so highly prized by the Ancient Egyptians that linen was used as currency.  Expect your Euroflax Sport linen projects to be around and looking good for a long, long time. Your linen hand towel may not last as long as the Tarkhan Dress (left) - but it might!  Worn around 2800 BC, the Tarkhan Dress was excavated from a 1st Dynasty Egyptian tomb in 1913 but was categorized as a pile of linen until it was "rediscovered" in 1977 when the pile was cleaned.  This is not as surprising as it may seem, as the early archaeologists were men who were generally not interested in textiles, and it wasn't until women started entering the field of archaeology that ancient textiles started to become appreciated.  The Tarkhan Dress is part of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at the University College London.

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Monday, June 22, 2015

Three Summer Projects in Soft Linen - And the yarn is 20% Off!

Geneva Shawlette
What if you could combine the drape of linen with the softness of alpaca?  It would be Classic Elite Yarn's Soft Linen yarn!  Soft Linen is a blend of 35% linen, 35% wool and 30% baby alpaca, and that adds up to 100% awesome!

Bonus:  Classic Elite Yarn's Soft Linen is on sale at 20% off until June 30th!

When you get a gorgeous alpaca-wool-linen blend like Classic Elite's Soft Linen there's a large selection of available patterns - you may feel a little overwhelmed with your knitting options.  So I'll let you in on three of my favorite designs for Soft LinenYou can choose either the Geneva Shawlette or the Zig Zag Lace Cardigan FREE with the purchase Soft Linen yarn, and the Stripie Scarf is free anytime.
Zig Zag Lace Cardigan
Geneva Shawlette
The Geneva Shawlette adds slashes of color in short rows to create a dramatic graphic effect in a simple and light-weight garter-stitch shoulder wrap.  It was originally published by Classic Elite in the 1401 Oceanside pamphlet.

Zig Zag Lace Cardigan
This time of year, sometimes you need a little something, but you don't want a sweater.  The lacey zig zag panels of the Zig Zag Lace Cardigan offer air movement through the fabric, making this an ideal design for officewear or moving from warm to cool environments and vice versa.  The lacy cardigan is classically beautiful and will quickly become your grab-and-go favorite.

Psst!  Does it look familiar?  You may have seen this pattern before.  It's been one of my most popular designs, and in this new version I've updated the styling and added one smaller size and two larger sizes.

Stripie Scarf
The Stripie Scarf
The Stripie Scarf is a striking modern neckwrap made up of two striped wedges. Knit the first wedge and then add the second, joining the two as you go. Finish with a short section of single crochet, and hit the streets. Pair with a simple white button-down blouse and jeans or use it as a splash of color in any outfit.  You'll need two balls each of two colors of Soft Linen - and with 25 colors to choose from your possibilities are endless! 

The Stripie Scarf PDF is totally free.  Yup, totally free, no obligations at all.  Go ahead and get it now!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

MORE Colorways from Liberty Wool Print (And they're 20% Off!)

Hat in Kalahari Sunset
Can you ever have too many color choices?  Heck, no!  Fortunately, the folks at Classic Elite Yarn agree, too!  We already have 40 colors of Liberty Wool Print, but Classic Elite has vowed to unveil a total of twelve new colors this year, two to four at a time - and it's time to announce the newest colorways!

Liberty Wool Print is a soft worsted-weight machine-washable 100% wool yarn in a huge assortment of self-striping colorways.  Pick a color - any color - and you can choose a free pattern!

Bonus:  All Liberty Wool Print yarn is on sale at 20% off!

Poncho in Lavender Mist
Nothing says golden warmth and sunshine like the sun setting over the sands of the Kalahari Desert in Africa.  Keep your head desert warm in the chill of winter with the Kalahari Sunset Hat.  Kalahari Sunset is a gorgeous blend of orange, red, pink and brown.

Is it a solid color cable shawl, or a striped throw worn casually off the shoulder?  It's both!  The Lavender Mist Poncho plays with color and texture by combining the self-striping purple, blue, gray and green of Lavender Mist with with her solid sister, Liberty Wool - 20% off during the month of June!

Pullover in Cherry Delight
Sometimes just a bit of solid can really add drama to a kaleidoscope of stripes.  The pullover in Cherry Delight is a happy blend of red, pink, tan and brown with a splash of solid.

The blue, red and gray of Blue Sienna combine for a fun crocheted cowl.  Eight simple squares let the colors do their magic to provide the excitement.  

Double Bonus:  You can choose any of the four patterns for free with the purchase of any color of Liberty Wool Print!

Crocheted Cowl in Blue Sienna
Want more patterns?  It's easy to find pattens for a nice worsted weight yarn, from dramatic new designs to classic standards.  Check our Liberty Wool Print page for some of my favorite patterns for kids, adults, shawls, hats, mittens, wraps, home decor, and more!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Adventure into Texture with the Rogue Star Socks!

Most stars are firmly established within their own galaxy, but not a rogue star.  A rogue star has escaped the gravitational pull of its home galaxy and is moving along on its own course, charting its own path, creating its own destiny.  Hmm . . . kind of like you!

It's time again the for Sock of the Month, and this month we are featuring the Rogue Star Sock. Each month, the challenge increases. First, we brought you the simple and utilitarian Launch Pad Socks. Last month, we upped the ante with ribs and cables in the Red Planet Socks. This month, we venture into mirrored cables and a symmetrical staghorn texture stitch with The Rogue Star Socks.

Rogue Star Sock
Worked from the cuff down, these handsome socks combine mirrored cable panels front and back with sections of heavy texture down either side. Luckily, even an all-over pattern like this is relatively simple to keep straight with our instruction; it's basically just two patterns alternating around.

The Rogue Star Socks are knit with Rowan Fine Art yarn.  You probably think of mohair and silk as luxury fibers, right?  They are, but they are also two of Mother Nature's most durable fibers.  Traditionally socks are knit from wool, but wool tends to wear, so Rowan Fine Art yarn is a blend of 45% wool, 20% mohair and 10% silk for a durable blend with the breathability of natural fibers (so your feet don't get sweaty!), plus an extra 25% of Polyamide thrown in for extra-extra strength. 

Rogue Star Sock Detail
The fiber content is a very practical reason to knit socks with Rowan Fine Art yarn, but let's face it, it's also a very pretty yarn, with a wonderful palette of 13 gorgeous colorways.  The yarn is hand painted in South Africa by the Cape Mohair Spinners, a group that hires women from some of the poorest communities in the area.  While the women are trained in the hand dying process they are creating an opportunity for genuine improvement in living standards for their families and their communities.  So you get a great blend of fiber, fabulous color, and the knowledge that your purchase is helping women around the world.  Awesome! 

Bonus:  The Rogue Star Sock pattern is FREE with the purchase of Rowan Fine Art yarn

Knit one Sock of the Month, or knit them all - choose your own path, you're a Rogue Star!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Friday, June 12, 2015

Unleash the Mystery with the July KAL - Mittens!

You know you're going to need them this winter (don't remind me!), and they're a small project that easily slips into your purse or beach bag for the summer ... a great summer project!

I'm looking forward to knitting the Unleashed Mittens.  What do they look like?  We don't know!  The Unleashed Mittens are the latest KAL (Knit A-Long) project from Michelle Hunter

We do know that the Unleashed Mittens are convertible mittens.  Not familiar with convertible mittens?  Well, they're fingerless mitts with a handy flip top that covers your fingertips to keep them toasty or buttons back out of the way to let you tap on your tablet, get a grip on your keys, or dial your phone (perfect if you're cell-phone-dependent). If you've never worn these, you're in for a treat, and if you've never knit them, you're in for another. Regardless, you'll be delighted when Michelle unleashes her informative and well-paced instructions and videos.

SimpliWorsted in Edgy Eggplant (# 45)
Never done a KAL?  It's easy ... Michelle will reveal the pattern on her website in four segments, starting on Thursday, July 2nd.  How much does it cost?  Nothing!  You don't have to register or pay any fee to participate.  Have a question?  No problem, Michelle posts photos and online video instructions, plus you can post questions on Michelle's KAL site or in her Ravelry group. Questions are typically answered daily.  It's like having a knitting tutor right by your side!  And it's OK to get video help at 3 am - perhaps your grandmother isn't so accommodating!

Materials you'll need . . . .

The first step is to pick your yarn - which may be the most difficult part of the project.  Michelle has knit the Unleashed Mittens in HiKoo's Simpliworsted, a squishy soft machine washable wool blend - and there are over 50 colors to choose from!

Bonus:  We've got every color of Simpliworsted on sale at 20% off!

The Unleashed Mittens pattern will feature two sizes, children (approx. 4-6 years old) and adult.  You'll need one skein of Simpliworsted for the child size and two for the adult.

SimpliWorsted in Iris Blue (#12)
You'll also need:
  • Two buttons 1/2 - 3/4" in diameter.
  • Size US 8 [5.00 mm] and US 6 [4.00 mm] double-pointed needles or sizes needed to obtain gauge in Stockinette stitch on larger needles.
Note:  Mitten hands may also be knit with two 24″ circular needles or one 32″ circular needle for the "Magic Loop" method. See Michelle's Magic Loop Tutorial Video if you're not familiar with the technique. Michelle's own sample was knit using the Magic Loop method on 32″ Addi needles. For the thumbs, a set of four US 8 double points are recommended.

And you're ready to get unleashed!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Coming Soon - The July KAL!

Knit Purl Hunter's July 2105 KAL - Unleashed badgeGet ready for the July KAL - Details coming soon!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Classic Elite Yarns' History & 20% Off!

A Lowell Mill Girl
Classic Elite Yarns is headquartered just outside of Lowell, Massachusetts.  In the 19th century Lowell was the United States' largest textile center and is considered to be the cradle of the American Industrial Revolution.  The "Mill Girls" were the young women who worked in the textile mills.  They worked long hours in harsh conditions, then spent their evenings in company housing where their social lives were strictly controlled.  Not fun!  But, they also had their own money - a rarity among women at the time - and with their economic independence came a desire to challenge the system of female subordination.  In an era that thought women were too feeble-minded to organize, they banded together to create unions and fight for better lives and working conditions.

Provence in Crushed Violets
Classic Elite Yarns has its origins in the textile manufacturing mills of Lowell.  Classic Elite began in the 1940s as an offshoot of a textile mill, first creating fiber for hand weavers and designers and later producing yarn for hand knitters.  Today Classic Elite Yarn is owned, managed and staffed primarily by women - the spiritual descendants of the determined Mill Girls who turned the notion of the "weaker sex" upside-down!  They no longer manufacture yarn, and instead search the world for fine hand knitting yarn to bring to you!

We love Classic Elite Yarn!  As a tribute to the hardy Lowell Mill Girls of the past - and our spunky knitters of today - we've put all of our Classic Elite yarn and patterns on sale at 20% off for the month of June! That's over 40 yarns on sale, each one in a variety of inspiring colors, for a total of . . . . well, I'm not sure, but it's a whole lot of yarn!

Do you have a favorite?
  • Provence
    Majestic Tweed in Cherry Pie
    is a 100% cotton yarn - great for summer knitting!  It is a cabled cotton yarn that has a long staple length, which gives it great strength and sheen. And since it is mercerized, it absorbs dye beautifully and is less likely to shrink!
  • Liberty Wool Print seems to have an endless palette of colors!  Available in almost 40 different colorways, Liberty Wool Print is a 100% washable wool in fun, self-striping colors - and you get a free pattern with each purchase!
  • Majestic Tweed is a tweedy blend of wool, angora, silk and nylon that works up into a soft fabric with just a little bit of halo. 
  • Firefly is a natural blend of viscose and linen that shimmers like a firefly!  It's soft, drapey and a bit dressy in 18 shimmery colors. 
Firefly in Chicory
And patterns?  The Classic Elite patterns, it seems, are endless.  There are patterns for all ages and all seasons. And, yup, the patterns are all on sale at 20% off, too!

My favorite knitting "work space" is a wicker chair out on my porch with a glass of wine - much better than the working conditions of the Mill Girls!  Get yourself some Classic Elite Yarn, and then join me in raising a glass in tribute to the Lowell Mill Girls!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Springtime Knitting with the Spring Daydream Scarf

Spring is a time for color!  Color is bursting from every green thing around us.  Now is not the time for knitting hot heavy wool projects like an afghan.

Spring is the perfect time to knit - and wear - the Spring Daydream Scarf.  The Spring Daydream Scarf uses bias fabric and vivid color to wake up your summery wardrobe.

Spring Daydream Scarf
You can daydream while you knit, because knitting the Spring Daydream Scarf is just about as simple as it gets. Most of the stitches of every row are just knits … no purls. The magic happens on the edges of the fabric. With the simplest of increases and decreases in those last couple of stitches, the entire fabric is shifted to a 45° bias angle adding drape and interest.

Spring Daydream Scarf
The Spring Daydream Scarf is knit with Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy yarn.  Hempathy is a blend of cotton, hemp and modal. You get the drape and weight that you'd expect from a yarn that's 75% cotton and hemp, but the modal (a type of rayon) adds a bit of sheen to this finer-than-worsted spring/summer blend.

You'll need three balls of Hempathy to knit the scarf, and we've got 18 bold colors to choose from!  Go with the Dark Turquoise, Gerbera Pink and Bleached White shown in the photos, choose one of the five combinations suggested on the bottom of the Spring Daydream Scarf page, or pick your favorite three colors for your own unique scarf.

Happy Spring!  And Happy Knitting! . . . . Amy

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Magic City Henley - And Shetland Sheep!

Magic City Henley
The Magic City Henley pullover by designer Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark explores traditional fabrics and styling.  The modern henley-neck pullover is worked in 100% American Shetland Fingering from Elemental Affects, and was inspired by the city of Birmingham, Alabama where she makes her home.

Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark says:

In thinking about what motifs represent Birmingham, Alabama, I was drawn to its history as a rail and steel town. It's also home to amazing green spaces; the city is filled with and surrounded by nature, including a particular type of wetland flower, the Cahaba Lily. I’ve combined stylized motifs of the lily, railroad tracks, and smokestacks to represent the Magic City.

The Magic City Henley is a bottom-up, circular pullover worked with steeks.  (Don't know what a steek is? Google it!)  The Magic City Henley pattern is available exclusively in Interweave Knits Summer 2015 Issue, we have plenty in stock.  For the experienced knitter.

Shetland Ram with Gorgeous Horns!
The Magic City Henley is knit with Elemental Affect's Shetland Fingering yarn.  Shetland Fingering is made from USA grown and dyed Shetland wool. You'll use six different colors in the Magic City Henley, and we have 44 beautifully dyed colors available to choose from.  With wear, the construction of this yarn and the nature of Shetland wool work to basically "felt" without shrinking it. The stitches simply blur, and the tiny kinks along the strand of the wool begin to merge into an almost solid piece of fabric that's softer than the original yarn.

So what's so special about Shetlands?  A dog is a dog, but there are different breeds of dogs and each has their own characteristics.  Sheep are the same way.  The Shetland sheep breed originates from the Shetland Isles.  The Shetland Isles have long winters and short, mild summers - it's no wonder they take wool seriously! The Shetland sheep is a small sheep that retains many of their primitive survival instincts and characteristics.  Their hardiness makes them easy to care for; they survive just fine in the wild under harsh conditions and a poor diet, but thrive as strong, hardy and long-lived when raised on a farm.  Today they are a favorite breed for a "spinner's flock," small flocks of sheep raised by handspinners and knitters on hobby farms, where they are often treated more as pets than livestock.   

Golden Fleece on a Shetland
The highlight of the Shetland breed is their color.  There are 11 main colors and 30 markings recognized among the breed, from pure snow white to deep coal black, with variations of grays and browns in between.  Many of the markings retain their fun Shetland dialect names such as Bersugget, Bronget, Flecket, Fronet and Gulmoget. There are even blue Shetlands!  Well, they're not really blue.  The "blue" color comes from dark wool mixed with individual white fibers (called an Iset marking) which gives the sheep a bluish tint from a distance. 

Being a primitive breed, the Shetlands are known for their horns.  The rams have gorgeous spiral horns.  Some ewes also have horns.  A ewe's horns are curved but not spiral and overall a smaller, more delicate version than their brothers.

Colors on a Shetland Ewe
Another primitive survival trait is that Shetlands will shed their wool in the late spring.  Just as your house cat will "blow" her coat in the spring - leaving big puffs of cat hair all over your carpet -  the Shetland's coat will loosen in the late spring.  Islanders used to pull the wool of the sheep by hand, called "rooing."  This can be avoided in a modern flock by shearing in the early spring - you do not want all that lovely wool strewn about the pasture and trampled into the mud!

All of the sheep photos are from the website of the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association, an excellent source for Shetland information (and full of pretty sheep pictures, too!). 

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fore! . . . or Five or Six Golf Club Covers

The modern game of golf originated in Scotland in the 1400s, and the first written mention of golf clubs appeared in a 1504 reference to the clubs of golfer King James IV of Scotland.  And since that time, golfers have been fanatical about keeping their golf clubs from banging into each other. 

Golf Club Covers
A golf club covers' job is to keep your clubs from rattling around in the car or as you zip your cart from hole-to-hole. They're basically big thick socks - but you don't have to turn a heel!  I've engineered these Golf Club Covers so that the heavy ribbing in an elastic-blend yarn provides the stretchy-cushion. The pattern is written in three sizes and stretch to fit even the biggest "Big Bertha" driver.

The Golf Club Covers are knit with CoBaSi Plus.  It's the same Cotton, Bamboo and Silk blend as the superfine CoBaSi, but CoBaSi Plus is a medium worsted weight yarn.  The cotton, bamboo, and silk give it durability, drape, and sheen. There is also 21% elastic nylon, giving the finished yarn bounce and "memory" that is difficult to achieve without wool. And the covers are machine-washable, so go ahead and throw your clubs in the mud after a bad game!

Bonus:  The Golf Club Covers pattern is free with the purchase of CoBaSi Plus yarn!

Double Bonus:  CoBaSi Plus yarn is on sale at 20% off!

Golf Club Covers
The Golf Club Covers pattern is a terrific "blank canvas" … knit them in one or two-colors, or striped!  With 35 colors of CoBaSi Plus to choose from, you can choose your team colors, your school colors, or your employer's company colors.  Knit a red and green cover for Christmas or a brown and orange cover for autumn golfing.  Unlike socks for your feet that have to be knit in a matching pair, your club "socks" don't have to match and you can make each one creative and unique.

As a kid I remember the neighborhood dads lugging around their clubs with an old tube sock on the end of each club.  Yuck!  Your clubs each deserve a handmade "sock" of their very own. 

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy