Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Liberty Wool Print - 20% off Plus Free Pattern!

Moss Cardigan
We're in love with Liberty Wool Print yarn from Classic Elite! Liberty Wool Print is a soft worsted-weight machine-washable 100% wool yarn in a huge assortment of self-striping colorways.

We have over 40 colors of Liberty Wool Print, but you can never have enough of a good thing!  We are excited to announce Liberty Wool Print's two new colorways for this month.  And why stop there?  Classic Elite will unveil a total of twelve new colors this year, two every month ... check in for new color updates!

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

This month's new colors are Moss and OctoberMoss is an earthy blend of greens, browns, grays and blue for a cool and refreshing color that will remind you of relaxing on the soft moss of a forest floor.  October captures the brisk red, brown and orange of fall leaves against the bold blue, green and purple of a crisp autumn sky. 

Double Bonus:  Choose the free Moss Cardigan or the October Scarf pattern with the purchase of any color of Liberty Wool Print!

October Scarf
The Moss Cardigan is a simple cardigan knit on a diagonal to give the great self-striping color a visual tilt. 

The October Scarf uses diagonal sections.  The sections play with the self-striping colors so that in some places the scarf gradually blends from one color to the next, while in other places the yarn seems to boldly jump from one color to the next.  Exciting!

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

Prefer a single color?  Liberty Wool Print is known for its kaleidoscope of color, but sometimes a simple solid will do just fine.  Liberty Wool Print's solid color sister, Liberty Wool, is the same machine-washable wool available in 20 solid colors.  The Liberty Wool solids are great on their own, or as a secondary color to compliment Liberty Wool Print.

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Nymeria Wrap and Shawl Pin Choices

Are you watching it?  Season five of Game of Thrones started two weeks ago, and it's all we've been talking about! 

Arya Stark
We just can't get enough of the headstrong, independent heroine Arya Stark!  It's easy to understand how the dirty-faced young noblewoman masquerading as a boy (with her own named sword, no less!) could turn out to be the most bad-a** character on the show.  She's become a rallying point for Thrones fans around the world. Arya - simply put - rocks!

So when we asked Mountain Colors to create another exclusive FiberWiild! Game of Thrones colorway, it was easy to agree on Arya as our inspiration.  Arya's signature garment is a tunic constructed of woven strips of leather laced together.  It's perfect for a swordfighting young woman avenging her family's deaths, but it's not easy to fit a tunic into a modern wardrobe.  Instead, The Nymeria Wrap uses the linear shaping of the tunic adapted into a wrap that can be worn around the shoulders or bunched around the neck.  Knit with Mountain Colors' wonderfully soft River Wash Sport yarn, this simple design uses blocks of stockinette stitch interspersed with garter ridges and short row triangles to resemble Arya's tunic.

The Nymeria Wrap
Bonus:  The Nymeria Wrap pattern is free with the purchase of Mountain Colors River Wash Sport in any colorway!

Super Bonus:  All Mountain Colors yarns are on sale for 20% off until the end of April!

So how does a swordfighting young woman keep her wrap in place while forging her own destiny?  With a shawl closure, of course.  Letting your wrap drape gracefully over your shoulders is fine while watching Game of Thrones on a Sunday evening, but when you are on the move, whether you are escaping from a castle imprisonment or bringing in the groceries, a closure will keep your warp neatly in place.

So which is best for you?
  • Pedestal Button
    Jul Leather Pedestal Button
    I chose the brown leather Jul pedestal button for the Nymeria wrap.  The pedestal button works similar to a screw back earring - you gently work the screw on the front of the button in-between your stitches, then screw the back on from the other side.  A pedestal button is very secure, but doesn't require the commitment, sewing or planning of regular buttons. 
  • Button.  The variety of button choices is almost endless!  Any fabric store has a huge selection of shiny new buttons, but don't forget to check your grandmother's old button stash or an antique store for a vintage button.  Buttons provide a secure, lightweight close, the disadvantage is they require planning and a permanent button hole. 
  • Shawl Pin.  A shawl pin is a quick closure that can be easily inserted and removed - perfect if you are the type who continuously takes your shawl on and off! 
    • Aluminum Shawl Pin Don't like a heavy closure pulling your shawl down?  An aluminum shawl pin is the choice for you!  Big enough to stand up and get noticed, our Plover aluminum shawl pins are made of lightweight aluminum that you can hardly feel.  Plus, they're made of recycled aluminum, so you will be helping the environment while looking great in your shawl! 
    • Wood Shawl Pin.  Nothing has the earthiness and warmth of wood!  Our Jul wood shawl pins are handmade in Indonesia to add a touch of elegance to your garment.  Plus, the shawl pins area Fair Trade item, which means the artist received a living wage and humane working conditions because of your purchase.
We're always happy to help you out with your color choice and pattern suggestions. Just don't call me on Sunday evenings - I'll be eagerly watching Game of Thrones while wearing my Nymeria Wrap!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Yarns - Cotton Classic & Cotton Classic Lite

Los Angeles Pullover
The tulips are blooming in Northern Illinois!  Time to put away the snow shovels, roll out the bar-b-q grill . . . and switch to spring knitting!

"Spring" knitting?  Yup.  As in lighter yarns, lighter colors and lighter projects. 

Spring Yarn.  Put away the heavy wools!  It's time for lighter weights in cotton and linens, refreshing yarns that will breathe and wick to keep you cool while you look cool!

Bonus:  Tahki's Cotton Classic Lite and Cotton Classic are both 100% Mercerized Cotton, and both are on sale at 20% off until May 31st. 

New Leaf Shell
Spring Colors.  Deep brown, black, navy blue and forest green look great against the winter snow, but spring makes me think of light pastels like amethyst, light blue, bubblegum pink and light lavender.

Spring Projects.  It's cozy to have a heavy afghan or sweater on your needles (and on your lap!) as you knit away the cold winter months, but who wants anything but sunshine on their lap during the warm spring days!  Vests, airy summer sweaters and sleeveless tanks are the perfect spring projects.  They are comfortable to knit on a warm day - and you can wear them immediately, no stashing your completed project away waiting for next winter. We've got some great light weight cotton projects for you in Cotton Classic and Cotton Classic Lite.

Olive You free pattern!
Bonus:  Want a free pattern?  Get the "Olive You" fitted vest pattern FREE with the purchase of any amount of Cotton Classic Lite!

The Mercerized cotton of Cotton Classic Lite is an ideal fine gauge yarn for crochet work.  Maybe a lacy cardigan or light-weight shell for spring?  Let Cotton Classic Lite make your stitch patterns pop!

Stuff for Kids!  Kids are rough on their clothes.  I mean, really rough.  Cotton holds up well, and is easy to wash.  With bold colors and machine washability, it's easy to see why so many parents (and grandparents) love dressing their children in Cotton Classic Lite.

John Mercer
So what is Mercerized Cotton?  It is named after John Mercer, who invented the process in 1844.  A chemist and a fabric dyer, Mercer treated cotton fibers with sodium hydroxide.  The process made the cotton easier to dye, which was his intent, and as a pleasant surprise it also made the cotton much stronger.  Unfortunately, the process also caused cotton fabric to shrink, so it wasn't used much until the process was improved (and the shrinking stopped) in the 1890s.  Today crocheters favor Mercerized Cotton to give lightweight yarn extra strength. 

Happy Knitting and Crocheting . . . . Amy

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sock of the Month Program & Sock Knitting Basics

Launch Pad Socks
This spring, we're “launching” a new Sock of the Month program, starting with a solid workhorse of a sock pattern: The Launch Pad Socks. Unlike a NASA launch, these socks are easy - a basic, simple-to-knit pair of socks that uses just a single skein of Crock O Dye yarn from Knit One Crochet Too. If you have never knit socks, the Launch Pad Sock pattern is the perfect place to start! 

The Crock O Dye yarn is 65% superwash wool combined with silk and nylon that makes the yarn surprisingly bouncy and soft. Crock O Dye also has a sheen that you would expect from silk. While the yarn feels extra soft, the nylon and silk fiber combination reinforces the wool and will prove quite durable. Blast off with 12 yummy colors!

Launch Pad Socks
How does the Sock of the Month work?  Each month we'll be offering an exclusive new sock project, with progressively more interesting "skill building" opportunities. There's no registration required or fee of any kind.  The pattern each month will be free with the purchase of the yarn.  You can knit one project, or knit them all!

Socks are simple, right? Well, yes and no. They're small enough to get done quickly, but there is also some structure in a sock ... heels, toes, gussets, cuffs. This basic top-down pattern will teach you all the essential things you need to know to knit awesome socks.

There are a few different needle choices when knitting socks. Here are the most popular for knitting socks in the round:
    Double Point Needles, 1400-1410
  • Double Point Needles (dpn). Using double point needles is the oldest way to knit a seamless tube. You cast on like normal and then divide the stitches on to three needles to create a triangle or four needles to create a square. All those needles might appear complex, but it's not. You use your 4th or 5th needle (the one with that came in the pack that you haven't used yet) to knit the stitches off of one needle and on to the empty one you're holding. All the other needles just hang there, waiting for their turn.  Think of them as stitch holders
  • Two Circular Needles.  It is difficult to create the narrow tube of a sock with one circular needle. This is solved by simply using two circular needles at the same time similar to the way you would use double points.  You simply cast on to one needle like normal, divide the stitches on to the two needles, and then use the flexible circulars to work around.  KnittingHelp.com has a great instructional video on their YouTube channel. 
  •  Magic Loop.  The Magic Loop method is new - it was first published in 2002 - but it has quickly become the favorite method of many sock knitters.  It uses one very long circular needle to create a seamless tube of any size, from narrow socks to large sweaters.  The stitches are split so that half are on the needles and the other half are held on the cable, using the cable as a stitch holder.  Michelle Hunter has an excellent video demonstration.  
  • Two At A Time (TAAT).  Two at a time knitting knits two socks at the same time!  It is done using the Magic Loop method and two separate balls of yarn so that both items are on your needles at the same time.  TAAT is great for socks and anything else that requires creating two identical items, like sweater arms.  When you're done knitting you have both socks done at the same time and don't have to worry about the dreaded second sock syndrome (an affliction that prevents the "victim" from getting around to knitting the second sock!). Michelle Hunter explains TAAT knitting in her video instruction
The Launch Pad Socks are knit on double pointed needles, which I think is the easiest method to learn on.  We'll leave the Magic Loop and TAAT knitting for future projects!

Enjoy the Launch Pad Socks - and join us in May for the next project in the Sock of the Month series!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

*The artwork is a detail of the painting "Visit of the Angel" by Master Bertram of Minden, from the right wing of the Buxtehude Altar.  Bertram was a Gothic painter born in Minden, German in about 1345.  "Visit of the Angel" is the first known depiction of double pointed needles - and there doesn't appear to be any difference between Mary's needles and the dpn's we use today! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blocking 101 - And the Bearfoot and Bordeaux Shawl Free Pattern!

Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl
Have you heard about Amy's newest design, the Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl?  Using only one skein of Mountain Colors' Bearfoot yarn, this shawl features a simple-to-knit lace pattern.  It's a light-weight shawl that's still remarkable warm!

Bonus:  We have Bearfoot, and All Mountain Colors yarns, on sale at 20% off for the month of April!

Super Bonus:  The Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl pattern is FREE with the purchase of Bearfoot yarn during the month of April!

So once you knit the Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl, how do you block it?

Sure, it's a drag to do one more thing when it feels like you should be done!  But blocking can make the difference between a good looking project and a great looking project, so it's worth it every time.  Blocking removes the bumps and wrinkles and makes a garment look crisp and finished.

While garments have to be reblocked after they are washed, shawls are rarely washed, your blocking efforts will last a good long time!

Start by knowing your yarn.  Wool blocks well, as does any plant or animal fiber.  Don't bother blocking acrylic, or any blend with too much acrylic - it just simply won't work. 

To begin blocking start by soaking the shawl in warm (but not hot!) water.  You can soak it in plain water, or add a bit of Eucalan to add a lovely scent.  Remove the shawl and squeeze (but do not wring) some of the excess water out.  Then wrap it in a towel, and squeeze more water out.  The goal is to remove as much water as possible so that it will dry quicker.

A pretty lace edge only gets prettier with blocking!
Next, it's time to lay out your shawl and block it. I use these foam rubber blocking mats, but you can also lay towels out on a table, or even use a clean, carpeted floor floor - as long as you don't have kids or pets who are going to walk over it.  A bed also works.  Make the bed first, so that the bedspread is good and tight!

Lay out the damp shawl on the surface of your choice and use blocking pins or T-pins to secure your shawl to your workspace.  Be sure to use rust proof pins.  Start pinning in the center and work towards the edges. Smooth it out as you go.  This is your chance to make any adjustments to even out your work. Rounded edges will require more pins, straighter edges need less, but in any case there is no such thing as too many pins!

Let it dry, then unpin and marvel at your work of perfection!

Are you a more visual learner?  Check out Michelle Hunter's instructional video on blocking

Then kick off your shoes to enjoy your Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl with the new spring grass between your toes and a bottle of Bordeaux!

Happy Knitting! . . . . Amy

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mountain Colors Yarns and Patterns - All 20% Off!


April is here and everything is blooming and coming to life - daffodils, tulips, and, of course, yarn!  Mother Nature puts out her very best colors in the spring - so we are, too!  We have all 27 of Mountain Color's popular yarns in stock, in lots of colors and ready to ship.  Not enough color for you?  No problem.  As you might know, Mountain Colors has over 100 colors to choose from, so stocking every color in every yarn is close to impossible. But if you want a yarn / color combo we don't have in stock you can Special Order it and get fast delivery.

Bonus:
Alpaca Blend in Snow Tree
  For the month of April, all Mountain Colors yarns and patterns are on sale at 20% off!


Double Bonus:  That's all Mountain Colors Yarn yarns - including Special Order colors!

So which yarn should you choose?  That's a toughie, I like them all!  But here are some favorites:
  • What's not to like about alpaca? The yarn is yummy and soft, and those alpacas sure are cute!  Alpaca Blend is 50% superfine alpaca and 50% wool for the ultimate warm, soft yarn. Where can you get it?  Only at FiberWild!  If you are extra special and unique (and we think you are!) then go for a FiberWild! exclusive color in the FiberWild! exclusive Alpaca Blend
  • You won't be going barefoot when you have Bearfoot!  Bearfoot is both supple and strong - tough as a grisly bear but as snuggley as a teddy bear.  The Superwash wool and mohair make it a soft yarn, with a bit of nylon added for durability.  Bearfoot is great for warm socks, delicate shawls and fine gauge sweaters. 
  • Are you a spinner?  Skip the yarn and go for the roving!  Bluefaced Leicester Roving and Targhee Top Roving are both soft fibers with a nice crimp and an easy 3 inch staple length. 
So now what will you knit?  That's easy, because all Mountain Colors Yarn pattens are also 20% off for the month of April.  Hooray!
Back to Basics Cardigan
Gradient-1 Shawl
Have you seen the Gradient-1 Shawl?  The shawl uses the new Twizzle Gradient Pack colorways.  It's the Twizzle yarn in three variations of the same color - a dark, a medium and a light.  The Gradient-1 Shawl is knit with one yarn pack. Start knitting the skinny end with the lightest color; build with the medium value and finally add a little texture with the darkest color at the wide end. The shawl is done primarily in stockinette stitch with garter ridges at the color changes and some lace patterning with the dark color. 

Bonus:  The Twizzle Gradient Packs are 20% off, and the Gradient-1 Shawl pattern is free with the purchase of your Gradient Yarn Pack!

The Mountain Colors Yarn colors just aren't enough - we also have our own FiberWild! exclusive colors!  Every few months we get color inspired, and, like color junkies everywhere, we just need more!  The ladies at Mountain Colors Yarn take our ideas and create a new color just for FiberWild!  I create a few new patterns to compliment the yarn, and we give the pattern to you free when you purchase the associated FiberWild! exclusive yarn.  Who wouldn't want that! 

(Pssst!  Don't tell anyone, but we will be announcing a new Game of Thrones FiberWild! exclusive color and pattern soon!)

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy