Sunday Swatch – Bamboo Bloom Handpaints

Today’s Sunday Swatch is in Bamboo Bloom Handpaints color 310 Fuji.

Sunday Swatch Bamboo Bloom Handpaints_120

The word of the day is “simplicity.”  A very simple garter stitch swatch on size 9 needles.  Knit every row and voila.  A beautiful textured scarf that would look great with blue jeans and equally great dressed up.  Add to your simplicity by kicking off your shoes and enjoying the great outdoors while you’re at it.  Bamboo Bloom Handpaints has thick, soft wool sections interspersed with thin, shiny stretches of rayon from bamboo.  It won’t weigh you down on a gorgeous summer day like today.  There are beautifully coordinating solids in Bamboo Bloom, as well.

Our most popular free pattern for this yarn is Michael del Vecchio’s one ball Persephone Handpaints Cowl, pictured at right.  It’s a simple knit on size 10 needles that really lets the texture of the yarn shine through.

We hope you are able to find some time today to appreciate the simple things in life – and to knit!


Free Pattern Friday – A Week of Babies!

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Little Bird Patch Pullovers together_blog

Today, it’s a two-fer!  We present the Professor Pullover (left) and Love Patches (right).  How adorable are those little elbow patches?  Both cute baby sweaters are knit in lightweight machine washable Little Bird 100% microfiber acrylic (344yds/100g).  This yarn is exceptionally soft, making it a great choice for baby projects.

These two designs cap off an entire week of free baby and kid patterns.  Sometimes it’s hard to find things that aren’t too froufrou for little kids, so we focused mainly on designs that didn’t have too many lacy details.

Infusion Over and Out Vest_blogFirst, the Over and Out Vest in Infusion Handpaints wool/acrylic.  Two skeins makes a sophisticated vest for a tyke who needs dress up a little but still keep those arms free for making mudpies.  Did we mention Infusion Handpaints is machine washable?


Lil Grandpa cardigan_blogNext, the Lil’ Grandpa Cardigan in Deluxe DK Superwash 100% wool.  Sized for ages 1-10, this machine washable cabled cardigan would look very dignified paired with a bubble pipe and a golden retriever.


Bella Chenille Snowbaby Set_blogThe Snowbaby Set is a snuggly soft hat and sweater in Bella Chenille.  Sized for 3-24 months, it’s a simple project to knit in the round.  The snap flap at the shoulder makes the sweater very easy to pull over baby’s head.


Little Bird Colors Cutie Cardi 1_blogFinally… okay, something a little more frilly, because how could we resist?  The Cutie Cardi is knit in Little Bird Colors 100% microfiber acrylic with a solid Little Bird crocheted border.  The pleated pockets are an adorable accent.

We hope you find some inspiration from these sweet designs for little sweethearts!

Let the Weaving Wednesday Fun Begin!

Knitters and crocheters, I’m not going to lie: this new section of our blog is here purely to enable you to use more yarn. Well, and to make pretty things and entertain you, of course!

I first started weaving about 5 years ago after already knowing how to knit and crochet. After some struggles character building with a homemade frame loom, I scored a 4 harness floor loom on Craig’s List. I happily used it for a year or two, weaving up rugs and towels and other assorted goodies. Weaving can be very freeing and meditative, and it’s a great way to use up leftover odds and ends from other projects. But I moved 2 years ago and had to pack up the loom. It sat neglected and unassembled for this entire time until I moved again a couple of months ago. My significant other was kind enough to put her back together again and I am once again able to bask in the glory of all her harnesses, treadles, and heddles.

But there is still the problem of time. Warping a large loom takes a fair amount of it. Between work and all my knitting and crochet projects, I have little time for other kinds of craftery. Which is sad! But, this story has a happy ending. After TNNA in Indianapolis earlier this month, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Schacht 15″ Cricket rigid heddle loom.   I had been lusting after a small tabletop loom for some time, and am so happy I finally acquired the Cricket!

Not 24 hours after returning from my trip, I got to work warping my new loom. Because it’s been so long since I’ve woven anything, I wanted to start simple. I decided to use a single yarn for both warp and weft, and to do just a plain weave scarf.


(Pardon the cell phone quality pictures here)

For my yarn, I chose the very colorful, very sequiny Classic Shades Sequins Lite color #408 Jubilant – so sparkly! The awesome thing about the Cricket is the ability to direct-warp, which is super duper speedy. It took me about 15 minutes to attach my warp.  As I mentioned, I’m using the 15″ Cricket. I decided I wanted a scarf about 10″ wide. I figured the fabric would draw in somewhat, maybe 10% or so. I used an 8 dent reed (which means there are 8 ends per inch), and attached 88 ends (11 inches). I knew I wanted a long scarf, so I measured the warp at about 90″, which as you can see, is the length from the back of the loom to the doorknob!

I began weaving and soon realized my error: sequined yarn does not make the best warp yarn. Oops. Because the warp yarn must pass through the reed constantly, yarn with stuff on it doesn’t work so well. The sequins kept getting caught up, and I was getting frustrated. Rather than  power through it (weaving is supposed to be relaxing!), I cut off my warp and started again. A 5 dent reed would probably have worked fine, but I just had the 8 dent at the time I was doing this scarf.

After taking a quick survey of my stash, I decided upon 2 different colors of Saki Bamboo Solids , colors 204 Violet and 209 Denim Blue. Just for kicks, I did one side in Violet and the other in Denim Blue. A sock weight yarn such as this will typically fare better in a tighter sett (more ends per inch), but I decided to stick with the 8 dent anyway since it was what I had. Because it really does take 15 minutes or less to warp this loom, I was back to weaving in almost no time!

SakiWarpedLoom_retouch ArcedWeft_retouch

It took me several inches to really find my weaving “rhythm”. As with most beginning weavers, my edges were less than perfect. I remembered a trick I had learned with my floor loom as to how to deal with the weft yarn. As shown above, I aim the yarn in a 45 degree (approximate) angle, and then beat the weft down. With a little practice at being as consistent as I could, those edges improved immensely! I’ll be sharing other tips as I learn them over the coming months, so stay tuned for more edging advice!

I wove my colorful scarf over the course of just a couple of days. It took me around 3 1/2 hours to weave, and took 1 ball each of the Saki Bamboo Solids and just 1 ball of the Classic Shades Sequins Lite. I decided to stick with simple fringe for the ends.


The scarf did draw in about 10% as I’d estimated (yay!), and I ended up with a 10″ wide x 76″ long, not including fringe. That’s another awesome benefit to the Cricket – there’s hardly any loom waste.

And here are a few glamour shots:

CS Sequins Lite Scarf 1_blog CS Sequins Lite Scarf 2_blog CS Sequins Lite Scarf 3_blog

When weaving my header, I forgot how many rows I wove when I got to the end. I guessed, and I guessed wrong, so one header is taller than the other. Oops! The edges aren’t perfect, but they’re charming, right? All in all, I’d call this a win!

Stay tuned for next time, I’ve got something yummy brewing for new colors of Flax!


Sunday Swatch – Classic Shades

Today’s Sunday Swatch is in Classic Shades (197yds/100g).

Sunday Swatch - Classic Shades

Above, the start of a basic multi-directional scarf on size 8 needles in the founding member of our Classic Shades family of yarns.  Classic Shades is a wildly popular yarn, and it’s not hard to see why.  It’s got a very affordable price for its generous 197 yards – three balls easily makes Yumiko Alexander’s stunning Arizona Sunset cowl, double-wrapped in the picture at right.

Classic Shades is an acrylic/wool blend in a silky soft single.  Durable and machine washable, it’s a great choice for those wanting a self-shading yarn with knockout color.

Free Pattern Friday – Dockside Pullover in Flax

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Dockside Striped Pullover in Flax

Today, it’s the Dockside Striped Pullover in Flax.

Ah, summer.  It hits us here in the South a little sooner than the rest of y’all.  But make no mistake, it’s on its way.  With that in mind, we bring you something light and airy for the move to warmer weather.

Dockside Striped Pullover in Flax - detailThe Dockside Striped Pullover uses a basic four row stitch pattern to create a breezy fabric.  It’s an easy-to-memorize fabric stitch, great for porch knitting.  Our Flax 100% linen is the perfect fiber for this, becoming more relaxed and comfortable with each washing – or accidental splash by the lake.

Stay cool – and keep on knitting!

Afghan Knitalong – Block Five

Square Five "Check It"

Block Five is called “Check It” (link here).

How’d we do with lace?  I have to say, that last square went pretty quickly for us in the office, with no major malfunctions.  I feel like we’ve mastered that technique.  Good thing, too, since we’re on to something new!

Block Five is called “Check It” for obvious reasons – it uses slipped stitches to create a colorful checkerboard.  It’s a clever way to create blocks of color without a lot of picking up and dropping of yarn as you go.  As usual, Amy Gunderson has provided us with a video to demonstrate.

Block Five "Check It" back sideHere’s a view of the back side that shows the stitches slipped across the wrong side of the work.

I’m very excited about this block.  Slip stitch is such an easy way to create a colorful design!

We’d love to see what you’ve done – share it here, on Facebook, or in our Ravelry group.  We’ll see you in two weeks with another great block!

Sunday Swatch – Superwool

Today’s Sunday Swatch is in Superwool.

Sunday Swatch Superwool_blog

Superwool is one of those yarns that you touch, then you pause and squeeze because you can’t quite believe what you’re feeling.  Superwool is super stretchy!  It’s an acrylic/nylon blend that’s specially spun to provide a lot of give.  Frankly, as, shall we say, a “substantial” knitter I am delighted to find a yarn that’s going to be kind to my curves – especially a super bulky one that knits up quickly.

Quick Cowls Lava Flow Cowl Superwool_blogThis swatch is a cable taken from the Lava Flow Cowl pictured at right, a one ball pattern that’s part of our free Quick Cowls e-book.  It works up very quickly on size 17 needles.  I knitted this swatch in a coffee shop and foolishly left my cable needle at home, so I wound up using a Sharpie magic marker to hold my stitches.  I felt quite resourceful.

If I hadn’t had my tools, I still could have made a quick project – this yarn works great for arm-knitting.  It’s simple to make this 50″ long “Supercowl” using just your hands and one skein.  Superwool’s elasticity makes it a natural fit for arm-knitting.  It’s very easy to move the yarn over your wrists.

I just might unravel this swatch and use it to teach my daughter how to arm-knit.  What a fun project in a fun yarn!

Inspiration By Design