Archive for June, 2014

A Gentle Footprint

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Watch out… a chance encounter with one of these charming fuzzy dark-eyed creatures can melt your heart in an instant.  More than just an adorable face shyly-covered by an outrageously comical mop top, alpacas are known for their sweet disposition and curious nature.  Quickly becoming the more sustainable choice for wool, these long-necked members of the camelid family which are native to the Peruvian highlands, have softly padded feet and graze on tall grasses leaving a very gentle footprint on the environment.  Alpaca fleece is hollow and contains no lanolin (which eliminates the need for cleaning with harsh chemicals) yet it is much softer, warmer and more resilient than sheep or goat wool.  Alpacas grow enough fleece to produce wool for an average five sweaters per year.  It would take four cashmere goats to produce a sufficient amount of wool for just one sweater.

 

alpaca 3 alpaca 4 alpaca 2 alpaca 6

Alpacas come in a variety of natural colours ranging from blue-tinged ebony, golden-brown, honey beige to silver and creamy white, a surprising twenty-two shades in all, with the white fleece being in greater demand for it’s ability to accept dyes.

 

Suri Alpaca

Suri Alpaca

There are two types of alpaca, the Suri breed (shown above), easily recognizable by their long spaghetti-like locks that grow up to six inches per year and produce a luxurious fine fibre with a polished sheen.  Suris make up less than twenty percent of the worldwide alpaca population.

 

Huacaya Alpaca

Huacaya Alpaca

The Huacaya (shown above), the more common and hardier of the two breeds is otherwise known as the South American teddy bear for the rumpled, cuddly appearance and springy fleece which differs greatly from that of a sheep.  Not only is it highly rated for its thermal value, alpaca fibre has a lovely soft drape and blends smoothly with silk, merino, linen, cotton and bamboo.

 

Alpaca Gold

Alpaca Gold

In limited release and at the head of the queue for fall knitting projects, look for Alpaca Gold, a softer handle in comparison to cashmere and with much more gloss.  Make no mistake, this is a hand-sorted premium fibre which accounts for only ten percent of all combed baby alpaca.  Exclusive to Diamond Luxury Collection in a dozen richly-dyed shades.  Truly decadent!  Mallard (shown above).

 

Alpaca Blush

Alpaca Blush

Alpaca Blush will put a rosy glow on your needles with eight semi-solid lollipop colours ideal for mixing it up in fairisle cowls or striped gloves and matching caps.  This new quality from Diamond Luxury Collection is a superfine alpaca spun in a dk weight.  King Crimson (shown above).

 

Alpaca Peru Heather

Alpaca Peru Heather

Also in the mix for fall knitting, Alpaca Peru Heather has subtle highlights in a pleasing palette featuring both prominent hues and demure washes of colour.  Cerulian (shown above).

Flip Flop Socks

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Life is better in flip flops, the sun shines brighter, the breeze feels a tad more refreshing, and toes are always ready for a spontaneous dip along the water’s edge.  The only thing missing is a cosy pair of socks for sitting around the campfire or wearing on a chilly morning walk.  Luckily, knitting offers many creative solutions to life’s little snags, and a pair of toeless socks could be the answer to stretching more mileage out of summer.  Jump into flip flop season feet first with a pair of these handknit socks (minus the toes) in Crofter DK, a comfortable cotton blend from Sirdar.  It’s our version of blue skies, vanilla ice cream, juicy watermelon, and a slice of key lime pie all rolled into one ball.  To make things even more interesting, these socks are knit on ChiaoGoo mini circulars, an alternative to standard double point needles or the magic loop method.

 

001

Compared to double point needles, joining in the round is a cinch with these short circulars.  Cast on stitches stay in position and do not twist over the needle.  It may take awhile to find a comfortable way to hold the needle tips, longer circulars can be supported with all four fingers, whereas these mini ones have room for just your finger and thumb.  Be patient and your knitting speed will increase.

 

006

Those dreaded ladders that mysteriously appear between double pointed needles are a thing of the past with these ChiaoGoo stainless steel nine inch circulars.  Each round is worked smooth and evenly with less time wasted on sliding stitches and switching needles from hand-to-hand.  You may find your tension will be a little firmer as there is less play between the stitches, they are worked right on the tips of the needles.  How many times have you lost a sock needle, either between the deck boards or under the seat of a car?  Mini circulars eliminate that problem too!

 

008

Shaping the heel does not require a stitch holder or extra needle.  Stitches that are in holding position at this point will sit comfortably on the circular cord until the instep is shaped.  Sock patterns that require toe shaping may need a secondary mini circular or double points as stitches are decreased.

Are you ready to try knitting on mini circulars?  Leave a comment and let us know how you like them, we welcome your feedback!

 

015

 

FLIP FLOP SOCKS

Size:  Women’s Medium

Yarn:  2 balls Sirdar Crofter DK (col. 74)

Needle:  3.25 mm/U.S. 3 ChiaoGoo Red Premium 23 cm/9 ins circular

Tension:  24 sts and 36 rows = 10 cm/4 ins over st st

Abbreviations:

Pm- place marker

Psso- pass slip stitch over

Sl1- slip one

Cast on 48 sts, join in round being careful not to twist sts.  Place a marker on needle for start of rnd.

Work 8 rnds in K2/P2 ribbing.

Next Rnd- [K5, p1] rep [to]

Rep last rnd until work meas 15 cm/6 ins.

HEEL FLAP:

K across first 12 sts, turn, P across 24 sts.  Cont on these 24 sts only for heel flap.

Row 1- [Sl1, k1], rep [to]

Row 2- Sl1, p to end

Rep last 2 rows until heel flap meas 6 cm/2 1/4 ins ending with Row 2.

SHAPE HEEL:

Sl1, K12, sl1, k1, psso, k1, turn

Sl1, p3, p2tog, p1, turn

Sl1, k4, sl1, k1, psso, k1, turn

Sl1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn

Sl1, k6, sl1, k1, psso, k1, turn

Sl1, p7, p2tog, p1, turn

Sl1, k8, sl1, k1, psso, k1, turn

Sl1, p9, p2tog, p1, turn

Sl1, k10, sl1, k1, psso, k1, turn

Sl1, p11, p2tog, p1, turn = 14 sts

K 14

SHAPE INSTEP:

Pick up and k 14 sts along side of heel flap, pm, work in Pattern as set across rem 24 sts on needle, pm, pick up and k 14 sts along opposite side of heel flap, k7, pm (start of rnd).

Rnd 1- K to 3 sts before 1st marker, k2tog, k1, work in pattern as set until next marker, k1, sl1, k1, psso, k to end

Rnd 2- work in pattern as set

Rep these 2 rnds until 48 sts remain.  Cont as set until work meas 15 cm/6 ins (or desired foot length) from pick up edge of heel.  Work 5 rnds in K2/P2 ribbing.  Cast off in ribbing.  Sew top of ribbing together leaving a 3 cm/1 1/4 ins opening (or desired size) for big toe.  Reverse opening on 2nd sock.

Design by: Michele Meadows

 

 

Baby Blues

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

It’s a boy’s world out there with frogs to catch, forts to build, and the occasional kite to fly. With a slighter higher ratio of boys being born over girls (a prevalent trend since 1940) it really is no surprise that baby outfits are being knit predominantly in shades of blue.  Finding a good selection of patterns for baby boys is a walk in the park, just take a browse through the extensive catalogues of both Sirdar and Sublime, two leading British manufacturers offering tiny designs that are contemporary and appealing in yarns sturdy enough to stand up to whatever little guys can get into.

 

Sirdar Leaflet #

Sirdar Leaflet #4440

Just one of the boys!  No bells and whistles are required on this one, an easy-fitting raglan cardigan featuring subtle rib detail and a matching cap.  Knit in Snuggly DK, Sirdar’s classic baby yarn rounded off with more than ten shades of irresistible blue.  Peaceful (shown above).

 

Sublime Little Pip Tank

Sublime Little Pip Tank

Oh boy!  Keep the look crisp and modern with this popover vest, a much-needed layer for wee guys offering comfort on cool days.  Just one of the seventeen designs in Sublime’s Book 671, knit in ultrasoft Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK, offering more than thirty-five storybook colours in the range.  Puddles (shown above).

 

Sirdar Leaflet #

Sirdar Leaflet #4428

Button Up!  Looking dashing and dapper in this gentleman’s vest, a combination of stripes and cables to knit in either a pullover or button front style.  Knit in washer friendly Snuggly Baby Bamboo.  Dinky Denim and Bobbi Blue (shown above).

 

Sirdar Leaflet #

Sirdar Leaflet #4433

Little boy blue!  This cosy cardigan is fit for a pint-sized prince in a crew or v neck style, with convenient fold-over pockets just big enough to be stuffed with little treasures. Knit in Snuggly Baby Bamboo, a dk weight yarn that feels soft and silky against baby’s skin.  Bobbi Blue (shown above).

 

Sublime Captain Lively Sweater

Sublime Book 671

Sailor boy!  There must be a sandy beach nearby for this tiny tyke to wile away the hours in this Captain Lively sweater with a nice roomy neck opening and stripes that add pizazz.  Knit in Sublime’s Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK,   Rubadub and Puddles (shown above).

 

Sirdar Leaflet #

Sirdar Leaflet #4429

Boys will be boys!  That means spills and thrills, so it might be best to keep the look relaxed with a sporty pullover knit in alternating bands of stocking stitch and ribbing.  Knit in Snuggly Baby Bamboo, a seasonal favorite from Sirdar, with thirty-eight popular shades to choose from including Dinky Denim (shown above).