Quick holiday knits

It is the time of year when knitting thoughts turn to thick, cosy yarn and quick holiday knitting! I have been trying to get in more thicker weight yarns as a result and am slowly adding them to the shop in the next few weeks.

I have been looking at Tin Can Knits‘ fantastic The Simple Collection over the last while, as I met one of the dynamic duo, Emily, a few weeks back. The free collection has some lovely, simple garter patterns – perfect for quick knitting and getting all those holiday projects off the needles!

Rye socks in DK would make a perfect warming gift for someone on my list…

….maybe in bright mustard Waltham DK in ‘Havant’, which is nearly the same hue as the yellow ones above, or a more subdued neutral like ‘Nutkin’ in SW BFL DK, right, for the more conservative giftee:
Kettle_Yarn_Co_WALTHAM_Havant

In the aran/worsted department there are so many perfect patterns right now that it is hard to choose! I recently got another Tin Can Knits design, Barley, off the needles in the softest, thickest, squishiest BFL/Alpaca for holiday gifting and it is the simplest/quickest pattern – merely a few hours and I polished off a child’s hat! A softly saturated and slightly greyed shade up in the shop this weekend, shown to the left.

I recently swatched brioche stitch in BFL/Alpaca Aran and the combo is a match made in heaven!

Blushy-grey ‘Violaceous’ (below left) BFL/Alpaca would be luxuriously fuzzy and hug-able in the beautiful Brioche Scarf by Purl Soho:

Kettle_Yarn_Co_Aran

I was quite surprised at how easy the stitch actually is – just YOs and k2togs, which are just made to seem complicated with strange abbreviations. Very easy to get into a rhythm with. I love the feel and look much I now desperately want to find the time to make myself their stunning Brioche Vest!

And if I had another 5 hours to the day, or another set of arms…look at this newly released Aran weight beauty by Amy Christoffers! Wouldn’t it be gorgeous in the BFL/ALpaca, too??

I just can’t figure out what I need to give up to make more time…sleep or even less housework…? ;-P

Nov 1st = knit along!

Today is the big launch day for the first Kettle Yarn Co. KAL of the beautiful Charm shawl by Juju Vail!

[photo: Juju Vail]

My lovely moderators and I have got some tutorial-type, in-depth instructions to help everyone start on the group pages and will be on hand to offer any help needed if you have a question.

There are more lovely fingering, sport and heavier yarns being added to the shop this weekend that will work for this pattern…a handful of brights:

[Westminster fingering]

A slew of pseudo neutrals:

[clockwise starting with the big image – a new hand-painted Westminster fingering  – ‘Median’, 100% British SW Bluefaced Leicester DK OOAK, and Islington fingering – ‘Nutkin]

And some heavier weights for warmth:

[Above, BFL/Alpaca Aran – OOAK grey/rose, more Wimbledon sport – ‘Tournament’ grey, and Kensington fingering- ‘Denbigh’.] 

..it’s never to late to start!

Xmas jumper count down

Xmas jumper count down

I have been thinking more and more about holiday knitting over the past month and realising that when you are knitting gifts it is a real balance between starting early enough and fitting in time to get things knit up for yourself!

Those of you that have been following along for a while know how much I’d love to be able to knit a full colourwork jumper, but that my skills have been sorely lacking. I have been slowly working through projects to try and get comfortable enough with the process to go large scale…

colouwork

However, I had a bit of a freak out a few weeks ago when I realised that if I didn’t start my xmas jumper NOW It would be another year I’d missed the boat. In a panic I downloaded a pattern I have been wanting to knit for ages now, the beautiful, snowflake-y Boreal by Kate Davies

Boreal_Kate_Davies

…and dyed up some fat aran yarn:

Kettle_Yarn_Co_AranMix

I thought some of you might get a kick out of these ‘monster skeins’ of aran! They are just 2 hanks skeined together as I got tired of skeining a gazillion hanks the other day, so I twisted these together, as they are for us and not the shop! The blue/purple SW Merino on the far left is for my partner’s jumper (which I really need to get started on as well), and the grey/red BFL/Alpaca are for my xmas Boreal. The red never seems to photograph well with this camera but it is a lightly variegated pink red/yellow red that I think will add some interest to the top bit…if I manage to knit it!

Fingers crossed.

Fred Perry knitting patterns #fail

There has been a huge buzz this week on the supposedly ‘free’ knitting patterns British retailer Fred Perry released as part of an advertising campaign. Turns out the patterns are so poorly written and edited that they are almost a spoof on knitting patterns. (Not sure if this is intentional and they are supposed to be funny? Let’s just say the knitting community has not been amused and they have gotten some pretty negative press from the manoeuvre!)

My response is this…don’t waste time banging your head against the wall trying to figure out the gauge, yarn weight, sheep breed (sheep breed!!), etc. Just pick another pattern from the hundreds of amazing patterns already out there that are WELL WRITTEN!

For example:

Fred Perry yellow cardi

Fred Perry’s cardi could looks sneakily similar to Sirdar’s V Neck Cardigan, if better styled:

And for their cabled beanie…

Fred Perry cabled beanie

…how about a free pattern from Máire O’SullivanHipster Sister? Just start some of the cables higher up and make it a shorter hat without turned over brim and fab pom?

And I just happen to have some Aran weight in the shop at the moment that would work for both – BFL/Alpaca in a grey/lavender – with more skeins going up in the shop next week which work well together(right):

Just sayin’. 😉

*update Fred Perry have removed the patterns from their website. If you are looking for some entertaining reading check out the comments on Kate Davies’ blog…they are cracking me up!

Pairing, pairing and more pairing…

So my mind has been whirring with choices for the Charm knit-a-long (KAL) and I am still undecided on what yarn(s) to knit mine in. I think it is just the issue of an ’embarrassment of riches’ and having way too many choices. ;-?

But as promised the other day, here are yet more yarn pairs to help you if you are having the same problem…

A strand of this warm golden caramel lace Westminster (Cardamom) held with the BFL/Alpaca light fingering would make for a subtly blended yellow . The fabric quality will be beautifully drapey and very warm. I’d finish the edging with the grey but you could try either.
Kettle_Yarn_Co_CaramelGrey

I have several different shades of yellow dyed up for the update this coming Saturday, and yellow/grey is one of my absolute favourite combos! How about a Kensington mustard yellow (Wells – will be posting this to the shop on Saturday Oct 19th) and an edging in a shimmering Islington grey (Blighty)? The Kensington in the body would be warm and full, while the silky edging would give it a nice finish:

Kettle_Yarn_Co_YellowGrey2

For all us green lovers holding a strand of spongy Falkland (left) with a strand of lighter Bloosmbury green in the crescent will create a lightly marled effect with a thicker, spongy and warm fabric. You could then edge with either the light green lace or the darker fingering.
Kettle_Yarn_Co_Greens

Then a super luxurious option I have been considering for my mother…a large size in Westminster Butternut with an Islington Blighty edging! Super drapey and luxurious to wrap around and around like a big, warm hug!
Kettle_Yarn_Co_OrangeGrey

I will leave it there for today but will try to get more pairs with the new batch of yarns ready to show you next week! If you missed my past posts on yarn pairing you can see more examples under the ‘yarn pairing’ category. Remember if there is something specific you are after, just email me through the blog and let me know.

Happy planning, all!

First Kettle knit-a-long!

For those of you who haven’t been following along on the Kettle Yarn Co. Ravelry group chatter we have decided to start a knit-a-long (KAL) to share some fun and help each other along while knitting up Juju Vail’s beautiful new shawl Charm!

Charm shawl - Juju Vail

A simple garter shawl with some lovely details this pattern is going to be great for some quick holiday gift knitting! This pattern will look great in a number of different weights with all that garter and there are two sizes which use either one skein or 2 of fingering weight, so more options for all of us.

Charm shawl - Juju Vail

I am toying with the idea of using Islington in light silver blue/grey ‘Vestige‘ for the crescent with the warmer, woolier natural Bloomsbury edging. Think this would be a subtly stunning classic with a traditional feel, the shine and drape of the Vestige contrasting with the fluffier crunch of the Bloomsbury lace edge.

Or a little bit more of a contrast Islington in a deeper grey ‘Blighty’ crescent with a fluffy lighter grey BFL/Alpaca lace edging perhaps… And thinking for both of these first two you could reverse the colours and get 2 small shawls (ie. One with dark crescent/light edge, and other with light crescent/dark edge)? One for you, and one to gift? Just the way I like it! OR you could stripe the two colours across the body of the shawl and use one for the edge…

Another similar pairing option  with a bit more zing, perhaps? Pair Bloomsbury ‘Coram’ green held together with Islington ‘Brunswick‘ teal— and then a Brunswick edging?

But then I think how beautiful and slightly more edgy/young/hip the shawl would be in a simple crisp, delicate lace like Bloomsbury in  screamingly bright blue ‘Montague‘.

Kettle_Yarn_Co_BLOOMSBURY_Montague

Then….THEN another part of me wants to knit up a simple, one colour, super fat, squishy Charm with some Wimbledon sport weight in ‘Darwin‘!

Kettle_Yarn_Co_SWMerino_CentreCourt2

Oh no. I am doing it again, aren’t I?? I have taken more shots of possible yarn pairs for this project and will post suggestions over the next few weeks, as this post is getting out of control! Can you tell how excited I am about this KAL?

We’ll be casting on November 1st, so pull out your Kettle Yarn Co. skeins and join us then! More chatter on the group pages

The endless joys of yarn pairing

I think most of you know how truly and thoroughly a yarn nerd I am already, so the title of the post should come as no surprise? 😉

Last Monday I showed a few examples of possible yarn pairs for blindingly simple but stunning subtle-y striped shawls like Camomille and Merlot. I got a bit carried away with the process and decided at the last minute that I’d better split the post as my yarn-nerd-ness was getting out of hand!

I’d paired up 2 more, classic grey combos to show you – ‘ColebrookeBFL/Alpaca‘ and then ‘Colebrooke/Dusty Miller‘ – and then realised how different these two shawls would be due to the properties of the yarns being paired and got really excited!
Kettle_Yarn_Co_greys

While the two above look incredibly similar in the skein, the two pairings would create substantially different moods in a shawl!

The BFL/Alpaca combo is more lofty on the right will knit up significantly warmer and ‘fuller’ than the Bloomsbury BFL/Silk, with a sumptuous Alpaca bloom and sponge. It is so warm – even knit as an open lace – that I often find myself overheated with this blend in the mild autumn chill!

In the pairing with Bloomsbury (right) the 80% BFL makes stitches hold a bit more crisply open and the extra silk adds to Westminter’s already substantial drape giving a slightly more dressy (formal/evening wear) feel to the shawl. Both could be worn to dress up last winter’s coat OR over a party dress for a holiday event, but the subtle difference lets you tailor for personality.

You would never think it just looking at the skeins, which look quite similar at first glance, would you?

I first discovered the joys of yarn pairing when knitting Helga Isager’s Nightingale Vest.
bloom

It was amazing how even adding a single thin strand of lace to otherwise rather unpleasant feeling sock yarn transformed the fabric into something much greater than its parts (knitting gestalt)!

Yarn pairing is amazing and opens up a world of possibility in stash busting. Add a strand of another yarn and you can create amazing colour effects like heathering and ombre – like in Antonia Shankland’s Kinetic cowl below which starts with 2 strands of the same colour, moves to two strands of 2 different colours for a gradient, then back to 2 strands of the new colour:

Or even change the drape and handle of a yarn and counteract a less desirable trait by blending to better suit your pattern – create more drape, LESS drape and more structure, or add a fuzzy soft halo for an feminine ‘sweater-girl’ twist.

Fun AND useful!