Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Fall Yarns

I am finally able to get back online. A week and a half ago my computer decided that it didn't want to play with the internet anymore. Kaput! My beloved husband, who serves as my tech support, has spent the last 11 or 12 days taking things apart, putting in new things, putting things back together again, re-loading all the software, taking things apart, putting in new things, putting things back together again, reloading all the soft-ware, taking things apart... I could keep up with emails here on his computer, but his computer wouldn't let me into Blogger, or vice versa. Now we have that working and I'll be playing catch-up this week.

The tricky thing is that his computer has all sorts of bells and whistles that mine didn't, and I am having trouble negotiating the whole mess. But I'll get there... I've always maintained that one of the little-known secrets to a happy marriage is seperate bathrooms (and not telling him how much yarn you own), but I'm starting to suspect that seperate computers might play a role as well.
Well, if you've been in the shop in the last few weeks and peeked into the back store-room, you have noticed that it is stuffed sky-high with large cardboard boxes, all filled with gorgeous yarns for fall. Some old favorites, some old faves with a new twist, and some brand-spanking new wonderful stuff. Not being one for slinging boxes around myself, I go in now and then and see what's on top.

These are the new Pagewood Farms Sock yarns. The yarns are hand-dyed in small batches and come from San Pedro, California. Yukon is a lovely, soft blend of merino superwash, bamboo, and nylon (70/20/10). The merino makes this sock yarn soft and warm, the bamboo adds a silky sheen which is really nice, and the nylon reinforces for those hard-wearing areas. At approximately 450 yards per skein, one skein should make a wonderful pair of socks.
Also from Pagewood Farms is Alyeska, a luscious blend of merino superwash, cashmere and nylon (80/10/10). This stuff is bite-your-knuckles delicious! I really had to restrain myself until Lynn gets it into the computer system and priced. You wouldn't think that just 10% cashmere could make that much difference in a yarn, and their just plain merino superwash/nylon sock yarn, Denali, is like knitting with and wearing clouds. But Alyeska is just that much more soft, cushy and smooshy.
As I said, I've used the Pagewood Farms Denali in socks and was very happy with the softness, colors and the knitability. So I can already tell you that you're going to love these yarns! Not a sock knitter? (GASP!) Think of these for lace shawls, too, and baby sweaters!

Bringing back a yarn that Lynn had when she first opened the shop, Kiwi now has several colorways of the Montage Collection Handpaints. This 8-ply yarn is spun from New Zealand wool, and as the name might tell you is hand-painted in a gorgeous array of colors. This yarn weighs out at approximately 450 yds per 200 gms. The colors are bright and vivid and I can see this turning into beautiful sweaters, slippers, hats and scarves as well as mittens and all kinds of felting projects.
Well, fellow yarnies, I have mastered getting photos from my phone to the computer and into the blog, next to conquer getting photos from my camera into this computer so that I can post about techniques. I think my husband is starting to cringe everytime I call his name...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kaffe Fassett yarns for Fall

Lynn is starting to get in yarns from her fall orders, so I can begin to show what's going to be new for this coming fall at Kiwi! The back room is stuffed with boxes, so keep tuned as I show you what will be appearing on the shelves in the coming weeks.

First off, the wonderful Kaffe (pronounced like 'cape', but with an 'f') Fassett has come out with new colors in his popular sock yarn for Regia. This is a sampling of the colors that are new, and I have to tell you that they are very vivid and rich. Very pretty. As with the other Regia sock yarns, one ball is sufficient for the average pair of socks. I like the way that these don't pattern into very defined, solid lines. Yarns like these are a wonderful chance to work short-row heels.

Regia is also producing a sport-weight sock yarn by Kaffe Fassett, known as the 6-fadig (6 ply, as opposed to the regular sock-weight, which is 4 ply). I knitted socks last winter with another Regia 6-fadig and can tell you that it is a dream to knit with, and makes nice, comfy, bouncy socks. These should be very nice for those of you who, like me, knit for people in colder climes, or who always have cold toes - also like me!

These new fall sock yarns probably won't be hitting the shelves before early October, but keep them in mind as you plan your fall and winter knitting.

We are also carrying the Kaffe Fassett Colourscape Chunky by Regia. These yarns are %100 Lambswool, with long color changes that make it ideal for entrelac patterns, and also for felting. The 100 gm. skeins have approximately 175 yards per skein and knit up at about 3.5 sts/inch. This single-ply yarn has a spin that is very similar to Noro Kureyon, and comes in some luscious colors.

I always love to know what the new yarns are, and I'll enjoy sharing what I find out with you. Check back!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Latvian Cast-on

I know I'm a day late for posting for this last week, but once I mentioned the Latvian cast-on in the previous blog post, I realized that I really had to show you how to do it.

The tricky thing with that idea is this - how do you take a video of yourself knitting? You really need both hands for knitting, and then two spare hands for working the camera. I spent the week puzzling over how to make that work, and then last night as I was knitting I remembered my old tri-pod from my photography days. I took a few minutes of digging to find it in the back of my closet, and then I was in business! By then, of course, it was really too dark in the house to get a good video, so here we are this morning. So this week will be a double-feature!

Pardon the scratchy asthma voice, and the camera that would really rather focus on the carpet than on my hands and my knitting. I think it works pretty well, though, for my film debut!

Now for the written out instructions-

Latvian cast-on:

Very much resembles a Long-Tail cast-on in the set-up and execution. You should be able to pick this up easily!

Leaving yourself a 6-8 inch tail for weaving in later, measure out the length of yarn you need for the number of stitches you would like to cast on. Figure another 6-8 inches into that length for use later.

Now double that whole length (so that you have 2x as much yarn) except for the original 6-8 inch tail, still hanging onto your original tail in your right hand. The doubled length of yarn becomes your thumb yarn, the single strand of yarn going to the yarn ball is your finger yarn, and the 6-8 inch tail is held against your needle. Set yourself up for a regular Long-Tail cast-on.

Instead of starting with a slip knot as many people do with Long-Tail and its variations, begin by pointing your needle straight down in the space between the yarn arranged in your left hand going from thumb to finger and the inner curve of your hand between your thumb and index finger. Bring the needle firmly back against the yarn, and turn it so that it is pointing towards the finger, twisting it in the yarn as you continue to turn the needle to the upright position. See how much neater that is than a slip-knot?

Now, cast on your first (next) stitch by using the normal Long-Tail method, remembering that the doubled yarn serves as your thumb yarn in this cast on.

For the second stitch, instead of putting your thumb down through the middle of the two yarn strands and then pulling up the way your normally would, reach your thumb outside of the yarn strands and over the thumb yarn pointing downwards. Scoop your thumb under the thumb yarn and up through the middle of your thumb and finger strands.

Notice that in a normal Long-Tail, the loop around your thumb is twisted at its base. With this second, altered stitch, the thumb loop is open at its base.

Now take your needle, go over the top of the doubled thumb strand, down under the single strand thumb yarn, grab your finger yarn and bring the new stitch through the thumb loop.

Alternate the normal, more familiar stitch with the altered stitch for the number of required cast-on sts.

See how the stitches arrange themselves on your needle in pairs?