Archive for January, 2013

Snow Drift

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Jack Frost may be nipping at your nose while we all brrrh and shiver through the deep freeze, and doesn’t that electric blanket look far more inviting than the blanket of snow piling up outside the window?  Take heart……in fifty-two days the sun will be making its celebratory crossing over the celestial equator.  In the meantime, there is always a silver lining, this is the time of year when we burrow inside for the duration, tackle our unfinished knitting projects, and are constantly on the lookout for fresh inspiration to plan the next ones.

 

snowdrift7

A snow drift provides the wintry white palette for this selection of cosy designs-

 

Dual Capelet by Katia

Dual Capelet by Katia

When a scarf just can’t battle the chill, and a shawl is too heavy, this fluffy little capelet from Katia’s Accessories Collection may just be the right fit.  Knit in Dual, a fascinating yarn that knits smooth or loopy, in plush superwash merino.  Available in fourteen colour picks.  Snow white (shown above).

 

Cabled Turtleneck by Debbie Bliss

Cabled Turtleneck by Debbie Bliss

Pull on this instant defroster when the temperature plummets, a plush Cabled Turtleneck featuring a stag-horn centre panel from Debbie Bliss’s F/W Knitting Magazine.  Knit in Paloma, a light ‘n’ lofty mix of baby alpaca and merino aptly suited for winter wear in an array of powder puff hues.  Ecru (shown above).

 

Merino Sport Cardigan by Katia

Merino Sport Cardigan by Katia

Latticework cables underscore the substantial borders and edgings on this classic one-button cardigan, complete with kimono sleeves and clean lines from the Katia Basics Collection.

 

Sampler Poncho by Katia

Sampler Poncho by Katia

Flaunt those fringes!  Katia’s Sampler Poncho is a stylish layering piece for c-c-cold spells and delightfully easy to knit in two straight pieces with oodles of interest and texture.  Knit in a chunky merino wool for a blanket-weight feel.

 

Waterfall Jacket by Debbie Bliss

Waterfall Jacket by Debbie Bliss

Drape yourself in a luxurious covering of comfortable warmth with this stunning Waterfall Jacket by Debbie Bliss, quite simply a long rectangle shape with added sleeves.  Knit in creamy-smooth Andes, a blend of baby alpaca and mulberry silk available this season in no less than two dozen shades.  Ecru (shown above).

 

Crochet Top by Katia

Crochet Top by Katia

A pullover with lacy appeal, from Katia’s Basics Collection is crocheted in a pretty shell stitch pattern, and ultra quick with precisely twenty-seven rows to the shoulder.  Dust off your crochet hook and twirl away!

The Facts on Flax

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Linen is one of the oldest textiles known to man, rated highly for comfort, durability, and keeping its cool in sweltering hot weather.  Spun from lustrous fibres tucked inside the multi-layered stem of the flax plant, linen yarn may be one of the most labour-intensive fibres to manufacture, yet this amazing list of properties make it worth all the effort- three times stronger than cotton, absorbs moisture easily, resists pilling and lint, drapes with ease, and gets softer with every wash.

 

Flax Flowers in Bloom

Flax Flowers in Bloom

Flax plants are not difficult to grow, they thrive in a cool, humid climate, grow to a height of about four feet with a very slender stalk, and are ready for harvest in less than three months.  While they can bloom in blue or white, it is the pretty sky-coloured flowers that are known to produce the finest quality fibres for spinning into yarn.

 

Flax Drying in the Field

Flax Drying in the Field

As soon as the flowers and leaves die off, and stems start to turn yellow, plants must be pulled from the soil or risk losing their hidden luster.  Hand-pulling is still done in some parts of the world to ensure that the entire root and stalk remain intact, this keeps the sap from draining out, and protects the integrity of the linen fibre.  Plants are tied in bundles or beets, and dried, in preparation for the next step- extraction or retting.

 

From Plant to Fibre

From Plant to Fibre

To extract the long silky fibres from the flax plant, the bark and inner pectin must first be rotted away in a process called retting, by submerging stems in pools of stagnant water for a few weeks, or by the use of chemicals in large vats.  The outer layer of the stem is soaked away until the linen fibre is revealed, then rinsed, combed, straightened, and placed through spreaders, machines which line up the fibres and overlap the ends to form slivers.  From this step, slivers are passed through rollers which produce linen rovings, resembling luxurious locks of blonde hair, and are now ready for spinning into yarn.

Here is a preview of some of the newest linen designs for Spring 2013 from Katia and Diamond Luxury Collection

 

Linen by Katia

Linen By Katia

Catch the breeze in this airy boatneck pullover, knit in one-piece from cuff to cuff.  A new design for Spring 2013 in Katia’s Sport Collection, knit in Linen by Katia, a classic favorite in a collection of fifteen neutrals, tan, chocolate, slate, and sand (shown above).

 

Lino by Katia

Lino by Katia

Heading south?  Shed those winter layers, and embrace the fresh air in this gauzy pullover with resort appeal.  Knit in Lino by Katia, a pure linen yarn that gets softer with every wash.  Available in eighteen tempting spring shades, including taupe, silver grey, and greige (shown above).

 

Pima Lino Lace by Diamond Luxury

Pima Lino Lace by Diamond Luxury

A great jumping off point for first-time lace knitters, this butterfly-style top is worked up in two squares, with wide borders picked up and knit on each side.  Knit in Pima Lino Lace from Diamond Luxury Collection, is just the right blend of natural linen softened with pima cotton.  Choose from one of twenty quintessential colour choices, ranging from Caribbean brights to basic neutrals- wheat, straw gold, emerald,  fuschia or soft blue (shown above).

 

The Comforts Of Home

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Sometimes getting stranded inside for a stretch of time due to an impending blizzard, or pelting ice storm can be a good thing.   It gives us an opportunity to get reacquainted with our shelter from the elements, and add a few cosy homespun touches, making our humble surroundings all the more warm and inviting for friends and family.  Handknit furnishings have never been so trendy, just take a walk through several of the larger home decor stores to see the comfy array of plush cabled throws layered over couches, and thickly-textured cushions tossed onto chairs for a chic cabin look.  All it takes to get the same designer look is the time to sit and knit along with a hint of inspiration.

Get cosy and take a peek inside Katia’s Home Collection Two, filled with charming handmade accessories to transform and brighten up your nest-

 

Knitted Pouffs

Knitted Pouffes

Make up for the lack of sunlight by injecting jolts of colour into your space.  These knitted pouffes double nicely as footstools and extra seating when friends come over for a fun night of old-fashioned board games.

 

Patchwork Throw

Patchwork Throw

Insulate yourself from winter’s wrath with this homey patchwork throw worked entirely in small squares.  A great beginner project knit in Azteca, an aran weight yarn with a multitude of colourful picks.

 

Pillow Covers

Pillow Covers

These knitted slip-on covers will refresh tired looking pillows in a jiffy.  A budget friendly way to enhance your existing decor, and make the transition from one season to the next.

 

Crocheted Rug

Crocheted Rug

Spruce up a hallway or front entrance with this boldly patterned circular rug, crocheted from the center out in a bulky weight wool, a cheery welcome home on a cold damp day.

 

Knitted Pockets

Knitted Pockets

Not only easy on the eye but fully functional knitted pockets will de-clutter your craft area.  Hang a row of these along the lower wall of a kid’s room for quick and easy toy pick-up or try a couple in the front hall for stashing mitts and hats.  Knit in Azteca, a 50/50 blend of wool and acrylic in eighteen transitional colourways.

 

Crocheted Baskets

Crocheted Baskets

Bolster your spirits this season with fresh greenery tucked inside a trio of crocheted baskets.  This is a super speedy project which adds a relaxed organic vibe to your surroundings and compliments any decor.

Winter Warmers from Malabrigo

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

As the holiday lustre gradually fades away, its only natural that winter revs up and keeps us in its icy grip for a few months more, and New Year lists start to overflow with a bevy of fun knitting projects to try and tackle.  Settle in for the duration with a hot cup of tea and a look at Book Four by Malabrigo, a collection of eighteen patterns inspired by the stunning architecture of Uruguay by well-known and up-and-coming indie designers.  The emphasis is on clean lines, well-fitting and flattering shapes, with subtle details which highlight the natural beauty of these richly hued and hand-dyed yarns.

Start the ball rolling this year with Winter Warmers from Malabrigo

 

Alcazar by Joji Locatelli

Try a new direction!  If straight up and down knitting is a piece of cake, challenge yourself to multi-directional, with this sleek tunic featuring a lower vertical panel and inset cables on the shoulders.  Designed by Joji Locatelli and knit in Rios, a washable merino wool in subtle shadings.  Cumparsita (shown above).

 

Cambio by Stephen West

Beginner basics with style!  A square and a rectangle are quite surprisingly the only two components in this simple yet well-constructed vest by Stephen West, knit in Rios, a superwash merino wool in an aran weight with extra drape and silky sheen.  Playa (shown above).

 

Voluta by Alexandra Tinsley

Fascinated with fairisle knitting?  This stylish hat inspired by the traditional fretwork seen in railings throughout Uruguay is a perfect starting point for two-colour stranding.  Knit in Merino Worsted, a velvety soft hand-dyed wool in more than one hundred uniquely dyed colourways.  Natural, and beige (shown above).

 

Abalorio by Mary Catherine Black

Leaning towards lace knitting?  Set your sights on this circular motif shawl, in the colour of the year, a refreshing shade of emerald green.  Designed by Mary Catherine Black, in Malabrigo Lace Baby Merino, a feathery light yarn with over fifty shades of lush colour.

 

Antiguo by Gudrun Johnston

Step up your shaping!  Take a turn at knitting this pretty ruffled bolero designed by Gudrun Johnston and gain extra practice at increasing and decreasing.  Knit in Lace Baby MerinoAmoroso (shown above). 

 

Geodesico by NellKnits

Ready for a few twists and turns?  Learn the ins and outs of cables with this trendy cap designed by NellKnits, interesting two-piece contruction comprised of a wide knitted band and stitches picked up along the edge for the top shaping.  Knit with one skein of Merino WorstedForest (shown above).