Monday, June 30, 2008

Kate's Edelweiss Mittens

Ever since traveling to Switzerland last spring, I have had a little obsession with all things Edelweiss. I was able to quench my thirst a bit last winter with a bright red jacket adorned with Edelweiss ribbon. Without the perfect pair of matching mittens, though, the outfit was woefully incomplete.

Enter a few skeins of O-Wool, some quality time with Excel, every Latvian, Estonian and Folk book we carry in the store (well, not every -- I couldn't carry over 25 books home on the train!) for inspiration and the end result are the Edelweiss Mittens. Knit with an extra long cuff, they are a perfect armwarmer and mitten combination. If a shorter mitt is what you're after, the length is easily customizable to your knitting preference.

The mittens employ 2 and 3 color Fair Isle techniques, knitting, purling, the ability to read charts, increasing and decreasing. The perfect summer project, they are portable, soft, small enough to fit into a beach bag or purse.

If you, too, would like some Edelweiss in your life, download the free pattern here:
The Edelweiss mitten pattern features O-Wool Classic 2-ply. It is a wonderful yarn that comes in an array of gorgeous "off" tones and is certifiably organically grown. The fingering weight feels slightly "in the grease", yet still incredibly soft to the touch in the skein and blooms and softens even more when washed. The tightly spun 2-ply construction gives it strength and stitch definition -- perfect for Fair Isle work -- and would also work well as heirloom baby gifts or other projects made to be worn next to the skin. It comes highly recommended by us at the shop, but is not the only yarn that would work for these mittens. We have at least 14 other yarns that you could use as a substitute. (14!)

If softness is what you want, why not try Pear Tree 4 ply Merino? Or, if you are looking for a more traditional yarn we have Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift or Rowan Scottish Tweed 4-Ply, both a little more rustic and tweedier with a slightly looser twist. If a classic yarn is what you're after but you want a solid color, Baby Ull would work like a charm. New to Rosies (and something we are super excited about!) is Rauma Wool - Gammelserie, Finnullgarn and Lammullgarn. (More on those asap!)

If you are looking for a more modern yarn, we carry Louet Gems, Rowan 4-ply soft, Rowan Cashsoft 4ply and Reynolds Soft Sea Wool. All four yarns come in a wide array of solid colors enabling you to create a bold or subtle combination, depending on your preference. Nature's Palette Fingering, Arucania Ranco and Koigu KPM are all great hand and kettle dyed yarns with subtle shading that would add an additional pop to your work.

Would you hold a hot beverage while wearing wool mittens in the summer?

Come on in, pick out your perfect color combination and knit away! Enjoy! - Kate

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's a Puzzlement

Well before my nephew was born (in February), I began a baby blanket for him: Rambling Rows, in Koigu. I blithely followed the yarn-requirement guidelines posted on the office wall, which represented the accumulated wisdom (or so I thought) of many knitters before me: 1 sk of Color A, the color that only appears in the four large squares near the center; two skeins each of B, C, D, and E; one skein for the border.

Knitting proceeded apace. It was . . . let's say it was intermittent. In my defense, I'd like to point out that, since I began the blanket, I've also cast on and completed a Swallowtail shawl, a cardigan from Rowan Studio, a Manos jacket, a Manos Silk Blend shawl, a Manos afghan, a felted Moebius basket, a pair of felted baby booties, a baby hat with a flower on it, another Manos jacket, plus sundry bits and swatches.

So what with one thing and another, blanket progress was a little slow. But a few weeks ago I got back into it and was making good progress -- once I was past square #40 (out of a total of 55), I really felt like it was the home stretch. Then, this happened:

Near the end of the last big block of Color A, I ran out of yarn.

I went digging in the ol' stash to see if there was another skein of the same stuff, and I found 3 contenders. But when I started to check the tags, I got stuck: the three full skeins in the photo aren't all the same color (let alone the same lot), and none of them matches any of the tags I've got in the bag with the blanket.

Here's what I know: two of the full skeins are P518, and one is 113. My labels are 1030, 3005, 820, 407, and 509. I can eliminate 1030 and 3005 because they're solids (KPM rather than KPPPM), and I know 509 is the bright yellow-green because I've got a skein with a label still on it.

What would you do? Go with one of the new skeins (knowing it's the wrong color, and that the difference will probably be more obvious when it's knit up)? Keep trying to find out whether the original A was 820 or 407, and hunt for more of that? Rip the partial block, so that it's a different color from the other 3 but at least the same color all the way through? Something else?

I'm beginning to feel a sense of pressure about this: that baby isn't getting any smaller. Help!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rosie's Featured Yarn of The Week!

Starting today and continuing throughout the summer, Rosie's will be featuring a different yarn each week, highlighting its properties, uses and special features. As an added bonus to you, we will also offer the yarn at 10% off* for the week that it is featured!

This week we are proud to kick-off with Rowan Pure Life Cotton.

Pure Life Cotton, an organic naturally dyed 2-ply cotton, is part of a new line of yarns from Rowan that are certified by BioRe, (part of the Swiss group Remei), an organization that supports social and environmental practices worldwide. It is the perfect way to incorporate environmental and social consciousness into your summer knitting! Rowan Pure Life Cotton comes in 8 colors, each naturally dyed in very subtle beautiful shades.

Rowan has also put out a pattern booklet, the aptly named organic cotton collection, featuring 18 designs by Marie Wallin. I am particularly enamored with Busy Lizzie (at left):

Knit in 9-11 skeins of Quebracho Bark, it is a perfect sweater for seasonal transitions, breezy summer evenings or to wear in over-airconditioned buildings -- a particular point of annoyance for me!

Yarn Specs:
22 sts and 30 rows = 4"
131 yards per 50g ball
Yarn of the week price: $9.00/skein!

*Both in-store and on-line! Woot!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Koigu Mill End Ankle Socks

Koigu Mill Ends...ummmmm...they’re like candy; small,
addictive and so sweet to knit with.
There are so many things you can make with the ends
we’re selling here at Rosie’s:
hats, mittens, scarves, socks... the list goes on.

The other day while savagely rummaging through the mill
ends, I found a lovely little vintage pink end along
with a bigger one that has a cotton candy dreamscape-like
colorway. Inspired, I quickly cast on for these very
cute ankle socks.

I wanted a particularly “ankle-sock-looking” heel and
to try something different. I finally found the Welsh
heel in Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. The heel flap is
worked on 31 stitches to include a “seam stitch,”
which streams down, giving the heel more character
than your average slip stitch heel flap. Turning the
heel is by far the most exciting part for me. The Welsh
heel includes yarn overs, decreases on either side of
the “seam stitch,”and short row shaping, creating a
very accommodating heel.

The 2x2 rib pattern I use for the instep makes up for it though.
Often ankle socks have a bad reputation for slipping off while en route.
Although the ribbing may seem run of the mill(ha! ha!)
it provides for a nice, snug fit, making it less likely
to slip down your ankle and bunch up in your shoe.
Don’t you just hate that?

I had a good time knitting these footies; it was quick
and only used 50 grams of Koigu, which is how much is
in a regular skein. Come by Rosie's, summer sock knitting awaits you...

Koigu Mill End Ankle Socks
SIZE: Women’s medium

50 grams (175 yards) of Koigu Mill Ends:
MC: dreamscape
CC: vintage pink

Size US 2 (3.0mm) double pointed needles (or size to obtain gauge)
Size US 0 (2.0mm) double pointed needles

GAUGE: 7 sts and 11 rows = 1 inch over st st on larger needles. It is imperative you knit a gauge swatch.

SS= seam stitch
SSK= Slip next two sts, one at a time, as if to purl,
then knit together through back loop.
MC= main color
CC= contrast color

With CC and size 2 needle, CO 60 sts.
Divide onto 3 dpns, 20 sts on each needle.
Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist sts.
Switch to size 0 needles.

Work 6 rows of K1,P1 rib.
Switch to US 2 needles.
Divide for heel flap:
(Heel flap is worked back and forth on 31 stitches)
Row 1: Sl 1, k14, p1(ss), k15, turn,
Row 2: Sl 1, p14, k1(ss), p15, turn,
Rep these 2 rows fourteen more times. (30 heel flap rows worked)

Turn heel:
Row 1: (RS) Sl 1, k4, yo, k2tog, k5, k2tog, k1, p1(ss), k1, k2tog, k5, k2tog, turn.
Row 2: (WS) yo, p to ss, k1(ss), p to 10 sts beyond ss, turn.
Row 3: (RS) yo, k2tog, k5, k2tog, k1, p1(ss), k1, k2tog, k5, k2tog, turn.

Repeat Rows 2 & 3 four more times– 18 sts

Next Row: (WS) sl 1, p to ss, k1, p7, p2tog– 17 sts; 8 sts on either side of ss.

With RS facing and MC, k8, pick up and k 15 sts along right side of heel flap, k3, *p2, k2* across instep, pick up and k 15 sts along left side of heel flap, k remaining 9 sole sts. (76 sts)

Note: Row will now begin and end at center of sole of foot. Place markers if knitting magic loop or using 2 circular needles-- 29 instep sts, pm, 23 right side, pm, 24 left side.

Next Row: k to last 2 sts of gusset, k2tog, k3 *p2, k2* across instep, ssk, k to end of row.
Row 2: work even as established
Rep these 2 rows until you have 59 sts total.

Work even until foot measures 6 3/4" (or 2" less than total desired foot length)

Row 1: With CC, k to last 3 st, k2tog, k1, pm, k1, ssk, k to last 3
sts on instep, k2tog, k1,pm, k1, ssk, k to end.
Row 2: work even as established

Repeat these two rows until there 3 stitches on each needle. K1, k2tog--8 stitches.

Arrange 8 sts so that are 4 sts on two needles, graft using Kitchener Stitch. Weave in ends.

Make second sock to match.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Knit in Public Day

We had a great sidewalk sale yesterday in honor of Knit in Public Day. It was time for Spring cleaning, and lots of yarn went to good homes, making room for all the great stuff we got at TNNA last weekend.
There is still some sale yarn at the shop, so if you didn't make it this weekend no worries. We've got plenty of great yarn at great sale prices all summer long.Clyde and I came down and did a little shopping (there is still some Jaeger Trinity floating around the sale bins...) and then headed over to the park and met up with the 3rd St. Ravelers and Rosie's crew to do a little knitting, snacking (delicious cookies!) and socializing.Stacy and Lisa S. set up a nice spot for us and Clyde showed his appreciation by eating Stacy's Cookie A. pattern.We had a great turnout, and it was good to get out in the warm weather after with everyone to just knit and have fun.We had a few onlookers who were definitely curious about why so many of us were knitting in the park, which was fine, and we also got to see someone's wedding party get their photos done (with hot pink bridesmaid dresses!) and we saw Andrea's wedding photos. It was also great to see everyone's projects. Sometimes I only get to see your projects when something is going horribly wrong! (This is where I would insert a photo of Lisa J's Noro blanket that Meg designed but instead I am kicking myself for not taking a picture!)And at the end of the day, when we headed back to Rosie's to escape the heat, Clyde made a new friend! (Insert "Awwww..." track here).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

World Wide Knit in Public Day Sidewalk Sale!

In honor of World Wide Knit in Public day, Rosie's is holding a Sidewalk Sale on Saturday June 14th from 10am-6pm.

We are conveniently located just 1 block off of Rittenhouse Square, a hop, skip and a jump from the 3rd Street Raveler's KIP Day event. Stop by for amazing deals on some of your favorite yarns or to grab the spare crochet hook, dpn or notion you may have left behind.

Check out our website for more info! We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Knit So Fine Blog Tour, Day 2

Welcome to day 2 of the Knit So Fine blog tour! Carol and Andrea Lyn had a great time talking yesterday on the Fiber Forum.
It's Courtney here and today I am interviewing Lisa Myers, who is also incidentally the owner of Rosie's (ie, my boss!).
So today's yarn is Rowan Yarn Classic Cashsoft 4-Ply, but first: Congratulations on the book!

Lisa: Thanks! It's great to see it in print finally.

C: You guys did a really great job making accessible what have before been considered "niche" yarns. I know a lot of knitters were afraid of smaller gauges, but more specifically I think manufacturers and publishers thought there was no market for it when in fact we knitters knew it was the next trend. There is no other way to get that tailored look than a fine gauge knit.

L: Which we should have seen coming, since ready-to-wear has been showing us really fitted stuff for years. And if you want to make things with shape -- not just boxy cardigans, but blazers or boleros or bedjackets -- you're going to need yarns that allow you to shape the fabric.

C: Exactly. I know that large gauges are great for a quick scarf but anyone who's ever tried to knit a sweater at 2 sts per inch knows that unless you are a size 0 you are going to look like a linebacker.

L: But those size-0 people need finer yarns too, because at 2 sts per inch, every stitch makes such a big difference that you can't get precise fit.

The finer the yarn, the more you can DO to your sweater too. Your cables can get more intricate, your colorwork more defined.

L: Even though fit is the most important thing,
I admit that all the patterning possibilities -- like cables and such -- were what excited me about the book. As you can maybe sort of tell from some of the stuff I did.


Yeah, I got that.

The cables were really amazing on the legwarmers and the gloves. I've always loved that traveling stitch Bauerliches Stricken look. And the keyhole shaping detail on the back of the calf is incredible. I admire your attention to detail when it comes to making design and fit/function come together. I've always thought that it isn't enough to just make the thing fit but that the form has to have...whatever the design equivalent to "conceptual purpose" would be.

L: That's one of the things I love about knitting -- it's an observation Charlene Schurch makes in Mostly Mittens, that it's cool to be making the fabric and shaping it at the same time -- I love to be able to turn the functional parts into design elements, and vice versa.

What's really hard about something like a book, though, is that space is limited, so you're always trying to give people good value -- which usually means the most designs in a given number of pages -- which means writing the legwarmer directions for one leg, and then adding only the vaguest suggestions about how to customize and adjust. But everybody really needs to adjust, because there's no point doing this kind of work and not making it fit, and it's not that difficult to make it fit at your ankle, your calf, your knee, etc.

I think most knitters have really taken on fit as the next technical challenge. So many of our customers now say things like 'oh, i never follow the pattern exactly. My arms are so short or my waist is really high,' etc. People are becoming their own designers more and more, which is really impressive.

On integrated shaping, one of the garments that also really struck me is the Dolman Top that Laura did. Maybe it's not shaping but the construction here that is so fascinating.

I love Laura's dolman. There's a case where the shaping is the major part of the design story, and where the whole style is kind of dependent on gauge -- a dolman at a bulky gauge won't drape well, won't be comfortable with all that fabric at the underarm.

Yeah, but here the drape is perfect. The design is really dependent on the gauge here, but also the fiber itself. The same design in another fiber--a shetland or a rayon/cotton--and you've got a whole other sweater.

For some reason, fiber content seemed to matter more in this book than most. Maybe because narrowing the range of weights made us really aware of the huge variety of fiber blends and yarn structures available right now. And maybe because thin yarns have been, as you said, sort of a niche product for a few years -- manufacturers have targeted specific types of knitting, like socks, or lace, or shetland jumper-weight. You can get all-wool yarns for any of those, but they'll be so different: tightly-spun and multi-plied yarns for socks, supersoft/superfine for lace, the traditional lofty, heathery Shetland look. Cashsoft 4-ply is really different from all of those, though: it's merino/microfiber/cashmere, so it's very very soft but also washable.

C: It's true. Aside from baby yarns, smaller gauges are niche-y. Cashsoft 4-Ply is just *yarn*, but smaller. Though it's also great for heirloom baby items. But washable ones.

And durable ones. All the RYC Cashsoft yarns are fairly durable (for what they are -- I'm not pretending merino or cashmere aren't fragile), but the physics of yarn means that the lightest weight is going to be the most durable, just because it's the finest.

C: Huh? Are all the Cashsofts technically 4-plies?

L: Here we come up against the yarn-name problem: as you know, Cashsoft 4-Ply has 4-Ply in the name because there's a traditional yarn weight in England that they call "4-ply" (it's what we in the U.S. tend to call "fingering" or "baby" weight). But any yarn made of 4 strands twisted together is a 4-ply, including Cashsoft Aran (more or less our "worsted" weight), and Cashsoft DK ("sport"). It's just that the component strands, the 4 plies, are thinner in the DK than the aran, and thinnest of all in the 4-Ply.

BUT the thinner the strand, the more tightly it has to be spun to hold together. And the more tightly a yarn is spun, the less vulnerable to abrasion it is.

So, the thinner the ply the more durable, as in less pill-y. Right?

Yes, thinner plies + more twist per inch = less vulnerable yarn.

The Cashsoft 4-Ply seems to have a lot of twist per inch for something as lofty as it is, it's certainly not overspun but it has great stitch definition. I mean, you can practically count the rows per inch on the photo of Laura's Dolman! I wonder how much of the definition is attributable to the microfiber giving it strength and a "sheen" and how much of it is the cashmere giving it a soft hand and fluffiness. What's the exact content again?

57% merino, 33% acrylic microfibre, 10% cashmere.

The long staple of the merino must be helped by the 4 plies making up the yarn. Long staple fiber gives it strength, as does the acrylic microfiber. The merino is also what gives it that soft hand, but the plies make it a practical choice for the main fiber in the blend. We all know how disappointing a merino can be when it isn't structurally sound, it is great to touch, but don't touch too much or you'll end up with a pill-y smashed nightmare of a sweater.

L: Agreed.

C: Well, I want to thank you for chatting with us all about these great technical aspects. There really is so much that goes into good design. You guys all did such a great job, again, congratulations!