Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fashionknitsta Thursday: 3/11/10

Hello and happy Thursday everyone! After all the excitement of the first ever Portland Yarn Crawl last weekend, this week at the store has seemed extra quiet. It was so great to meet so many locals that had never been in before and those coming in from out of town as well. If you didn't get the chance to visit us during the crawl you missed some great events! We were lucky enough to have both Julie Weisenberger of CocoKnits and Takako of Habu Textiles visit with us all weekend and bring along trunk shows. It was amazing to be able to see so many of their pieces in person and wonderfully enough a preview of many of the garments (all done in Habu yarns) from the soon-to-be released book by Olga Buraya-Kefelian & Vanessa Yap-Einbund Ori Ami Knits (now available for pre-order through our website).

This is Julie Weisenberger (modeling her pattern Yvonne) and myself in front of her garments.

Takako and myself in front of our Habu display.

Eva was kind enough to model a new CoCoKnits pattern, Lena, for me. It's done in Rowan Lima, a mostly alpaca with a touch of merino blend, and oh my goodnes, is it a dream. I think this one left us all drooling, I can't wait for the pattern to be published!

These pieces are all from Ori Ami Knits, from left to right are the Arcus Pullover in Habu A-32B silk mohair, the Duplicity Pullover in Habu Tsumugi Silk A-1 and Wool Stainless Steel A-148, and the Axonometric Top done in Habu A-174 Cotton Gima.

These beauties are on the far left the Puzzle Vest from Ori Ami Knits done in Tsumugi Silk A-1,. In the middle we have Tessa by CocoKnits done in Habu Shoshenshi Linen Paper A-60, and finally on the right another of my absolute favorites from Ori Ami Knits the Foldover Top , done in Habu Silk Stainless Steel A-20/21 and Tsumugi Silk A-1.

Thanks again to Eva for modeling the beautiful Rhombus Wrap from Ori Ami Knits. I think this one was a favorite for all of us. The gorgeous dress next to her is Concertino, also from Ori Ami Knits. This piece was by far my favorite, done in the Habu XS-21 linen held double it is absolutely the perfect weight for spring and just look at this detail:

So beautiful! I cannot wait for this book to come out! A big thanks to Julie and Takako for bringing all of their beautiful pieces to share with us and for letting me be a huge nerd and take photos with them. I hope we get to see you again soon!

Since I have so many super-secret-sock-club things to attend to I'll have to cut this a bit short today. Hope everyone has a great weekend, check back next week for another edition of Fashionknitsta. Until then, as always, stay chic blogfans!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Three Needle Bind Off tutorial

Now here's a tutorial I wouldn't have immediately thought of, but it turns out that many knitters are not familiar with the Three Needle Bind Off and that just won't do. Sandy Kay and I borrowed Lindsay's (our resident Fashionknitsta) nearly finished Vintage Baby Cardigan to demonstrate this super-easy technique - both in the English and Continental styles.

First a little background, the Three Needle Bind Off is used as an alternative to seaming knit garments.  Two in-progress pieces (i.e. still on their needles) are worked together at the "seam" to create an effortless join that has a little extra elasticity.  Please note: this technique is traditionally worked with the two pieces held right side to right side - ensuring that the seam will be on the wrong side and hidden.  Be sure to check this before starting!

It is also important that both of the pieces being worked together have the same number of stitches.  If they do not, correct this before working the bind off.

The first half of the tutorial is shown in the English style, the second half is in Continental.  The technique is worked the same for both, only the working yarn is held in a different hand.

Text instructions:
  1. Hold two pieces as if to knit in left hand, with the needles held parallel, making sure that the "right" sides of the garment are facing each other.
  2. Using right hand needle, go through the first stitch on the front left needle as if to knit.  Continue through the first stitch on the back left needle as if to knit.  The right hand needle will be poking through two stitches at this point.
  3. Knit the two stitches together by pulling the working yarn through both stitches.  Once both the stitches have been knit, slide these two stitches off the left needles.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3, you will now have two stitches on the right needle.
  5. Using the back left needle, pull the first stitch on the right needle up and over the second stitch (as if to bind off).  This step may be a little uncomfortable at first.  We recommend that you hold the back left needle so that it sticks out an extra half inch, making it easier to manipulate the stitch being bound off.
  6. Continue in this manner, i.e. knitting one stitch from the front left needle with one stitch on the back left needle, then binding off the previously worked stitch (on right needle) over this new stitch.
  7. After you have worked across the row, the "seam" will look like a crocheted chain.  When you reach the last stitch, cut the yarn (leaving at least a 6 inch tail) and pull it through the remaining stitch.
  8. On the opposite side, the seam will be almost invisible.
  9. Congratulations, you've just completed one seam!
Next week?  Picking Up A Provisional Cast On!  And we have just the project for this.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fashionknitsta Thursday: 3/4/10

Happy Thursday everyone! If you're in PDX I hope you're enjoying this beautiful day, it's really looking like Spring!

If you've been keeping up with the recent current events, i.e. the Olympics and Fall 2010 Fashion Week you may have noticed the same trend we have, a resurgence of Fair Isle and cozy knitwear! Sara has blogged a bit about it when she featured the Peruvian Alpine Skiing Team uniform and we've all been very excited to see it! With all this wonderful sunshine lately I've been trying to get into a Spring feeling and so far it's really not working out. Really, how could it with amazing patterns like this one by Helena Bristow based on the official US Olympic Hat designed by Ralph Lauren available (for free!) on Ravelry:

Love the moose motif! This little beauty is done with a worsted weight yarn so it would go super fast, I think because color is such an important part of this I'd stick with Cascade 220 Superwash (sadly not on our website, but available in the store) to get really clear reds and blues. Keeping in the Fair Isle spirit, one of my (and everyone else's it seems!) favorite pieces from this years Olympics was this great sweater for the Canadian Olympic team by the Hudson Bay Company:

I haven't stumbled upon a pattern based on this one yet (big surprise, right?) but I hope its on the way. Until then I suppose I'll have to be satisfied with this pattern for coordinating mittens.

Designed by Heather Desserud, this free Ravelry pattern is done with fingering weight yarn. Again, making color the first priority I'd use Jameison's Shetland Spindrift.

EDIT: Shortly after finishing this blog, on a whim I decided to take another look. This isn't exactly what I was looking for, but its pretty great. I'm not sure how I ended up at Canadian Living Magazine, but they had a beautiful pattern available for free by Paton's Design Studio for His and Her's Reindeer Sweaters!

Done originally in a chunky Shetland, I would love to see these in Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky or Shibui Highland Wool Alpaca.

Whoever was coming up with concepts for these Olympic looks was obviously on the right track as this knitwear and Fair Isle trend was present all over this years Autumn/Winter runways. In my opinion the D&G show at Milan Fashion Week was by far the stand out for this trend. Here are a few of my favorite looks:



I just love how they put the twist on the classic look of this traditional design. It was such an interesting move to incorporate the printed Fair Isle motifs on chiffon, but pair it with such a substantial knit leg warmer. In the third look I really love the juxtaposition of the leather with the little knit rib trim.

After a quick Ravelry search I found a couple of things that will I am hoping will get me started on the accessories I'll need for fall. The Oslo Legwarmers by Martha Mertzig is a step in the right direction, as well as the Cotton Reel Mittens pattern by Ysolda Teague that we just got in.

It was nice to see that there were options in this trend for men as well. Also at Milan Fashion Week Gucci showed a nice chunky Fair Isle Sweater:

I found a similar pattern on Ravelry (for free!) appropriately named The Dude by designer Andrea Rangel.

The pattern calls for bulky yarn so Rowan's Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky would be a gorgeous choice.

If you're looking for something a little more tailored, British designer Lou Dalton showed a more traditional approach at London's Fashion Week:

Just beautiful, I love the classic look of a Fair Isle Vest.

As far as knitwear goes, Fair Isle wasn't the only trend to be see on the runways. Everyone from Michael Kors to Lacoste to Pringle of Scotland were showing knits:

Michael Kors


Pringle of Scotland

These are all lovely, I'm especially interested in the big chunky scarf at Lacoste, but by far the stand out of this season in the knitwear world was Prada.




Absolutely beautiful, the entire collection is wonderful (so Mad Men!) so I suggest taking a peak at the rest of it if you're interested. These pieces were really standouts, the cabled dress in the second image is beyond words and I love the stockings and the chic headbands. I'm going to have to get started on a pair of Cookie A's Rhiannon Socks immediately (definitely in Isager Alpaca 2 to get the wooly look!):

And one of these babys. This pattern, Julia's Cabled Headband is a free Ravelry download by Paulina Chin. My search found that there are quite a few cabled headband patterns on Ravelry so if you like the look, there is a lot to choose from!

Before this post gets too out of hand (I really could go on for days!) I probably should get back to shipping. I hope everyone gets to enjoy the sun today (hope it stays through the weekend!), as always check back next week for another edition of Fashionknitsta. Until then, stay chic blogfans!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tips, Tricks, & Tutorials

So, by now, you may have seen our Provisional Cast On tutorial.  If not, check it out, since it seems that Sandy Kay and I are odd ducks (well, you knew that already) and we do it differently than anyone else.  And, as you never know when the odd technique will come in handy, we've decided to start documenting our own unique tips and tricks.  Expect to see about one a week - hopefully every week.

The first tip/ trick thing came about because I just started a Ruffled & Ruched Scarf and, in a pique of curiosity, checked other Provisional Cast On methods online.  And, d'ya know, I didn't find anything like ours.  Weird.  But, in any case, we'll be writing up tutorials as we come across techniques in our own staff projects that warrant attention. 


Shown above is my IP scarf.  Say 'hi' to Eva in the background.  Next week we're hoping I'll be along enough to demonstrate how to pick up a Provisional Cast On.  I'd better get knitting, eh?

Moving on.  We just have to share with you the cutest little baby sweater.  Several of us staffers here helped Lynne translate the British knitting terminology from the pattern (it's a Debbie Bliss) and all feel that it was completely worth the time and effort:

Hooded Jacket

It's so schweeet!  The pattern is the Hooded Jacket from Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby book.  It's not a hard pattern, by any means, just a little different for American knitters.  Lynne certainly seemed to think it was worth the effort, too.

Next, I have two staff projects that will also feature into upcoming tutorials (so exciting!).  The first is Darcy's Thursday vest:

Thursday WIP

Being knit with Habu Textiles Superfine Merino A-177 in Charcoal/ #6 and Habu Textiles Ramie Cork A-166 in Black/ #10.  When Darcy finishes the knitting, we'll do a quick tutorial on handsewing handknits - i.e. creating the "dorsal fin" cowl on the front.

Then we have Sandy Kay's February shrug, which is actually a modified Skif June:

February Shrug

(It's the red-orange shrug on the pattern)

This one is going to be a doozy.  Sandy choose to combine Habu Textiles XS-55 Linen Lace (yum) and Tsumugi Fine N-76 in #39.  The hand is unbelievable, and the color?  Just magnificent. 

Skif close-up

She's currently at the arm increases and making rapid progress.  This thing is going to be gorgeous.  And when Sandy finishes knitting, we'll do a quick tutorial on sewing handknits with a sewing machine!  Sandy Kay is planning to bring in her Bernina.  That'll be interesting.

Now, lastly, do you know about the upcoming Portland Yarn Crawl?  You probably do, since we've mentioned it twice in two newsletters and on the blog, on twitter, and on ravelry.  But, just in case this is the first you've heard of it...
  • See the website.
  • We'll be participating from March 5 - March 7th
  • There will be a yarn crawl raffle - win a prize basket from the organizers, or one of many, many prizes from us!
  • We will be hosting THREE amazing trunkshows this weekend - CoCo Knits, Ori Ami Knits, and Habu Textiles.
  • There will be a Portland Yarn Crawl scavenger hunt and, yes, we have one of the pieces.
  • Another session of Reading Japanese Patterns has been scheduled on Saturday, March 6th.
  • We'd compiled a list of easy parking suggestions, just because:
    • We validate for ALL Smart Park garages with purchases over $25
    • Street parking is $1.60/ hr (free after 7pm and on Sunday)
    • Weekday parking at the nearby Presbyterian Church is $3/ hr in their secure, underground garage
    • Weekend parking at the nearby Presbyterian Church is $2.55/ all-day before 5 pm. After 5 pm, it’s $4.
    The Presbyterian Church is located on the corner of SW 12th and Alder - just 1 block from us (and the Streetcar) and 2 - 3 blocks from the MAX!
  • There will be all sorts of prizes and other fun special events at the store - but you have to show up to find out!
We'll hope to see you here this weekend!

Provisional Cast On Tutorial

We've been having a lot of fun teaching our Happy Hour classes every week and one thing we've noticed, Sandy Kay and I, is that there are so many ways to do different techniques that you can always learn something new (especially from one another!). For instance, the way Sandy Kay and I perform a Provisional Cast On is completely different from what you'll find on or Knitty.

Since so many of our customers are web customers, we thought it would be a good idea to create a tutorial once a week (or so, permitting) to share the many tips and tricks we've discovered. This week we're going to show you our own unique method for Provisionally Casting On.

A Provisional Cast On is used when the cast on edge will later be picked up or worked again, such as in the Ruffled & Ruched Scarf. As I was just about to start such a scarf (for a friend), Sandy Kay and I took the opportunity to shoot this tutorial.

When working a Provisional Cast On, always use a smooth and even waste yarn. Sandy Kay prefers a cotton yarns, I prefer superwash wool. The yarn shown is Cascade 220 Superwash. The main (or "working") yarn is Shibui Baby Alpaca DK.  The tutorial is embedded as a slideshow below.  If you would like to see each individual image, check out our Provisional Cast On set on Flickr.

Note: our method is a variation of the traditional Long-Tail, or left-handed, Cast On.

Text instructions:
  1. Using both yarns held together, make a slip knot.
  2. Place the slip knot on the right knitting needle.
  3. Using thumb and forefinger, tighten slip knot.
  4. Place working yarn over forefinger and waste yarn over thumb.  
  5. Using the waste yarn as the "tail", twist waste yarn with thumb and place over the right needle.  Continue to hold the loop in place with thumb.
  6. Using the right needle, catch the working yarn and pull it through the waste yarn loop.
  7. Using thumb, pull waste yarn loop up and over working yarn.
  8. Drop waste yarn from the right needle.
  9. Tighten the stitch using thumb to snug the waste yarn up against the needle.
  10. Repeat from Step 5, casting on as many sts as pattern calls for.  DO NOT count the waste yarn slip st from Step 1 as a stitch.
  11. Note: when working the first row DO NOT knit the waste yarn slip knot on the first st, simply pull it off the needle at the end of the row.
Over the next couple months, we'd like to cover the following techniques:
  • Picking up a Provisional Cast On (that's going to be really important for the next step in the scarf!)
  • Sewing handknits with a sewing machine (for Skif sweaters, etc)
  • Sewing handknits by hand - i.e. for the Thursday vest.
  • Joining new yarn the quick and easy way
  • A whole new jogless stripe method
  • Casting On in the round seamlessly
  • Stuffing a hand-knit toy without lumps
The whole point of this series is to provide knitters with new/ different methods to complete projects.  If you have a request for a tutorial, please let us know!  Leave a comment or send us an email at info(at)knit-purl(dot)com.  We're always glad to take suggestions and would love to know that someone out there found this useful :)