While it has started to become just a tad warm out there, and you probably don’t feel like knitting with wool, hear me out. You normally don’t start your sweaters, coats, and blankets until it starts to get a bit cooler, right? Well, those are pretty big projects. They take a lot of time, especially if you like working with small gauge. My thinking is, why not start those puppies now so you have them by the time it cools down again? How awesome would it be when October rolled around, and you had a toasty cardigan made of, say, baby alpaca, merino wool, or cashmere all blocked and ready to go? Pretty darn awesome, that’s how much. Continue Reading Why You Should Start Your Projects For Winter Right Now (Yes, Right Now)
After so many years at the store, I sort of cringe when the summer projects start. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the them. There is nothing like linen, organic cotton, and bamboo to make a project feel fresh and light. Nothing drapes like these natural fibers either. The tough part is sometimes getting the correct gauge for the project. As a scarfaholic, of course, this issue does not come into play as much. If the gauge is a little off one way or the other, it is easy to adjust by adding or subtracting stitches to make the desired width and length. The same applies to blankets or afghans. But, when making a garment, it can get tricky. Sometimes, you can try to get gauge changing the needle size up or down. Nothing changes the gauge. On some fortunate occasions, a drastic change in needle size can do the trick. But most of the time the gauge doesn’t seem to want to move in either direction. There have been countless occasions, where a knitter will sit in our store, changing needles, and getting the exact same stitch count. If we are lucky, we can make an adjustment in the size of the garment to accommodate the gauge. But, a lot of times, we just can’t make it work.
I believe the reason for this is due to the nature of the fibers themselves. Cotton, bamboo, and some linens do not have a great deal of structure. They are more open and softer. In other words, they are what they are. Unlike merino or alpaca for example, they do not possess the springy ability to accommodate a larger or smaller needle. This is an issue with a finished garment as well. A knitter should take into account how the garment will drape when using something like bamboo or cotton. It can grow as you wear it or if left on a hanger.
Having said all of the above, there are some wonderful projects that can be made from these summer fibers. I am partial to the Habu yarn line, because the Cotton Gima, Linen, Linen Paper, and Nerimaki Cotton Slub, are easier with which to obtain a gauge. They are slightly more structured, and we have had great success with all of them. Also, there is the added benefit in this line of working with two or more of these fibers run together. I would like to add that the best combination of a great deal of Habu fibers is to run them with stainless steel or copper. This automatically can allow a knitter to obtain the needed gauge for a project. The yarn is immediately fortified with enough structure and definition that any desired gauge is readily achieved. Habu Stainless Steel or Copper can be added to basically any fiber from Madeline Tosh to Appalachian Cotton to give it the proper structure so that a gauge can be gotten. It also allows you to manipulate the size of the finished garment both lengthwise and width-wise.
As with any project, but especially one where the gauge is so tricky, I recommend that you check that gauge throughout the project. A lot of knitters do not realize that their knitting can vary as they knit the project. We all knit differently at different times. We can knit tighter or looser, depending on our frame of mind. It frequently happens where a knitter starts out with the proper gauge and ends up looser or tighter later in the project. Obviously, this can dramatically change the finished project. We hate to see a garment that is too tight or too loose after the project is finished. It is a really good idea to take a moment every few inches and check your gauge. It is a lot easier to make a correction at that point. It might make the difference as to being able to wear the garment and being happy, or having to rip it out or give it away. So sad.
Okay, I have tried to present a realistic view of working with summer fibers. I will say again that I love them. But, I will also say this: If everything under the moon is tried and fails, my advice to all knitters is TO PICK ANOTHER PROJECT OR PICK A DIFFERENT YARN. Unless you are more than okay with the idea that, if the garment does not end up fitting you, you have someone else to give it to, don’t continue. This is an obstacle that cannot be overcome. We would rather you not buy the project than be unhappy with the result.
In the meantime, I hope that you try your hand at something light and airy for the season. And, whatever you choose to make, I hope you have great success and enjoyment from it!
I must mention the Habu Kusha Kusha Scarf if I am doing a blog on summer scarves, for this light weight and amazing scarf has traveled with me to various climates and worked well in all. I am frequently stopped and asked about this scarf wherever I travel. Knitting To Know Ewe is getting all new supplies of the stainless and merino within the next week. Here are the images and the pattern for this wonderful scarf that is frequently worn layered with another. An amazing look: Continue Reading Scarfaholic – The Summer Scarf – Part Two
I am not a warm weather person and losing the ability to wear my winter clothing makes it even harder to endure, because I love sweaters, boots, layered clothing, and, of course, scarves. When traveling to Europe, everyone (especially in France) continues to wear scarves in the warmer weather. I decided to adopt this trend, so I have knitted and purchased a ton of summer scarves over the years. I will share some of my findings and thoughts over two separate blog posts.
Don’t be quick to discount the summer scarf. Like its winter counterpart, it finishes off and “ties together” an outfit. I really like the way a tank top looks with a light summer scarf. Obviously, the materials one would choose to make a summer scarf will differ greatly from the thick and soft luxury fibers chosen to make a winter scarf. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice all luxury fibers in making a lighter weight scarf, just that you will have to choose fibers smarter.
I am currently working on a few summer scarves, hoping to have them finished and ready to wear in the next month. One is made of Shibui Linen, and is a free pattern on their website. It is designed by Antonia Shankland, who always seems to design scarves that I would choose to make. They are easy and gorgeous. I am making this particular scarf with the colors brick, apple, sidewalk, and tar in the Shibui Linen. All these colors can be ordered on our website.
I am also working on a scarf using Habu linen. So far, I am still experimenting with this pattern, trying to combine two yarns throughout the scarf and haven’t been happy with the results. I will put this finished scarf in a future blog when I get it right. Having said that, I am more than happy with the Habu Linen itself. Here is what I have knitted so far. This just might be an all linen scarf. You cannot tell from the picture how light and beautiful this linen feels knitted up. Continue Reading Scarfaholic – The Summer Scarf – Part One
This may seem like an obvious project choice, but a lot of knitters don’t think about this. We get a lot of knitters in our store wanting to peruse the scarf patterns. They are trying to find a scarf project that appeals to them and meets their expectations for the look they want in their next scarf. I am not rejecting scarf patterns by any means. There are tons of amazing scarf patterns, and we certainly have a large amount in our store, but sometimes it is all about the stitch.
We primarily offer luxury yarns at our store, and we are fortunate that the majority of our customers are looking for luxury yarns and can find what they want with us. I would like to make a note here, and talk about luxury yarns for a moment. When we took our store over it was the end of the “novelty yarn” time. The original inventory was top to bottom novelty yarns. Not to discount novelty yarns, I think they had a time to shine (literally). As both seasoned and new knitters, we all partook of this novelty yarn time with zeal. I have been knitting since I was ten years old, and found this type of yarn challenging to knit. I witnessed a lot of people who never knitted before try their hand at a project because it looked easy and was so unusual. The yarns were expensive and, in my opinion, discouraged a lot of new knitters from ever attempting another project. This discouragement truly saddens me.
We reopened our store with the intention of making it what I would call a “sweater store”. We got rid of the novelty and began to fill our store with luxury fibers so that knitters would enjoy not only making sweaters with, but a multitude of other projects that could allow the yarn itself to do what it was meant to do. What I mean by this is that a lot of knitters focus on the pattern and not the yarn. They choose a generic yarn and think that it’s not that important to the project, but that the pattern is. However, beautiful yarn can make a spectacular project even when a simple pattern is used. One could equate this to cooking. You can have a complicated recipe, but if you are using lesser quality ingredients then your dish may not turn out as well as a simple recipe made with fresh and quality ingredients. This is basically our thinking at the store. We love simple and clean patterns that use spectacular yarns to “do the work”. Continue Reading Pick A Stitch Scarf
Habu Textiles, created by Takako Ueki, is one of our favorite lines of fibers in our store. I, personally, have made several scarves and garments with Habu, and love them all. They are not only unique, but very wearable items. I always say that the things I have made and seen made from Habu yarn are the things I would buy at a store if I saw them hanging there.
Since this is a Scarfoholic blog, I will speak to the various choices a knitter has to make spectacular scarves out of Habu Textiles. Since we carry just about everything in the Habu yarn line at our store and on our website, we are always thrilled with the limitless possibilities we have to make amazing projects. They are truly works of art, and I am always impressed with what our knitters come up with in terms of color combinations and their own ideas for scarves.
I had to write about one of my favorite scarves, not only in our store, but in the whole knitting community. It is the Habu Kusha Kusha Scarf pattern made with Habu Stainless Steel and Merino. In this blog I will share not only the pattern information with you, but show you several examples of this scarf.
As you can see, this scarf is unusual. I think it looks more like jewelry than a scarf. Whenever I wear it, heads turn. I am frequently asked where I got the scarf, and when I tell someone that I made it, they want to make one for themselves. One of the features of this scarf that cannot be shown in a picture is that it can be manipulated into different shapes because of the Stainless Steel. This is one of the things that makes this scarf so special.
The scarf is typically made with two cones of Habu Stainless Steel, and one cone of Habu Fine Merino. Some knitters have chosen to make the scarf longer and/or wider. The combinations of Stainless Steel colors and Merino colors are endless. The Stainless Steel comes in three different fiber combinations; linen, wool, or silk. We carry all three choices. Stainless Steel is a wonderful fiber to use. The Wool Stainless gives more of a matte finish. The Silk Stainless is the softest. The Linen Stainless is the shiniest. As for the Fine Merino, it is absolutely lovely. I will include in this blog a project that was done using only the Fine Merino, so that you can see what it looks like on its own.
This is an oldie but goodie at our store. I wanted to make a scarf using a stitch that looked complicated, but was easy. I came up with this one. It is basically a stockinette stitch with one row that changes it all.
Here is the stitch pattern:
- Cast on desired amount of stitches to make your scarf
- Knit in stockinette stitch for as many rows as desired. End with a right side row.
- Next row: *Purl 2tog, yarn over, repeat from * to end.
- Repeat above to desired length.
- Bind off on a stockinette row.