Summer Knitting

I am lucky enough to live near a beach; actually many beaches. And I love to knit when I sit on the beach. There is something special about the soothing nature of the rolling waves, and the yarn easing its way through my fingers and making stitches on my needles.

But beach knitting can’t be just anything. I remember a long time ago working on a very complicated colorwork vest, one that required a lot of yarn on bobbins. That was a challenge in any location, much less a breezy, sunny, sandy locale. And I don’t really like working with heavy yarn when I’m on the beach. But a lightweight wool is fine, and cotton and cotton blends are perfect.

As I begin to plan my summer knitting, I’m thinking about choosing two projects: one that takes a little thinking and needs constant attention, like this
Greta in Wrap It Up
And one that is more mindless, for when I’m on the beach with other people, or when it’s a windy day.

Nereid in Seaside Village
Since it’s going to be hard to narrow down my choices, I might have to plan for more than two projects. After all, there is also knitting while watching baseball, or by the pool, or at the cottage in the woods – or just knitting in the summer when there is nowhere to be but home!

Do you knit at the beach or when you are camping in the mountains? Or in some other type of relaxing vacation setting? What is your summer knitting strategy?

5 Reasons Why Knitters Love Scarves and Shawls



Giuliana in Villa from Wrap It up 1506
1. Scarves and wraps are usually quicker to knit than a sweater. And knitters love to start new projects! The sooner you finish a project, the sooner you can plan and start the next one.

2. Since they are quick to finish (see above), you can shop for yarn more often. 

3. No finishing. With rare exceptions, most wraps are done when then knitting is done. Weave in a few ends and it’s ready to wear. No tedious seaming, ribbing, or buttons to sew.

4. They always fit. Nothing is more disappointing to a knitter than working for months on a sweater only to finish, try it on and discover it isn’t a great fit. If you wanted to wear a sweater that isn't flattering, you could save yourself a lot of time and go buy one.

5. They make great gifts.  For knitting and non-knitting friends alike, handmade gifts are the best – and a scarf always fits (see #4 above!).

A quick glance at favorite projects on Ravelry confirms that wraps are very popular. Our May pattern collection, Wrap It Up, is all about wraps. From rectangular scarves and stoles, to triangular and circular shawls, in garter, chevron, ridges, and lace and eyelets, Wrap It Up has a wide and diverse selection.


As always, our printed books have a scratch-off code for a download of the entire collection. Or you can purchase individual designs as pdf downloads. Click on the cover below to see all the projects in the book.

Wrap It Up 1505


Behind the Scenes: Photoshoot for The New Generation

Our newest pattern book, in stores now, is all about baby. We shot The New Generation at the end of August last year at a beautiful, small public garden in Hollis NH. We had so much fun with our three adorable models! But photographing babies is always a challenge.

First there is the challenge with babies too young to sit up on their own. Here is Kayla, on her back, lying on the Marion blanket, knit in Sprout.

Lying down works for blankets but not so well for sweaters. For sweaters we need a helping hand. 

And even with Mom’s support, it’s difficult to show off that sweater (Betty Ann in Sprout).
We tried propping up our model Cameron in the corner of a bench – what you can’t see is mom’s hands, just out of the shot, ready to grab him as he slides off the bench.
Older babies or toddlers are a different problem altogether. Our charming model Lili, 20 months, took off running as soon as her feet hit the ground and she didn’t stop! All we could do was chase her and hope for the best. We went through the tall grass and round and round and round the entire garden. (Below is Lili wearing Emmeline in Provence.)

After a couple of hours of top speed, non-stop running, Lili (above in Fannie in Liberty Wool) had a nap but the rest of the crew had to carry on and finish the model-less shots -  including Edwina and Edwin in Mohawk Wool shown below.

The Edwin Pullover and Edwina cardigan use the same cable in different ways. Both are truly heirloom pieces and each also has a coordinating hat.

View all thirteen designs for baby in The New Generation here.

Along the Shore

It’s so fun when a new yarn arrives. Shiny. Full of possibilities. Ready for swatching and the contemplation of designs. Our latest introduction is Santorini, and boy, are there a lot of possibilities! We’ve come up with some patterns that allow the yarn to sing – all found in the pattern book called Along the Shore.

Looking for something easy? Try Naushon  - as shown on the cover, it’s a lovely wrap that will handle any spring-like chill. Or make it narrower  
Naushon knit in Santorini
and you’ll have a really fun, colorful scarf.

And then there’s the Sankaty cardigan.
Sankaty knit in Santorini
A great sweater for just about anyone. And how about a cute tank top? Nashawena fits the bill. 
Nashawena knit in Sanibel and Santorini
In all the excitement about patterns in Santorini (Sanibel’s cousin – you can knit any of these patterns in Sanibel too!), let’s not overlook some other great patterns in Along the Shore.

Tuckernuck in Sprout – a cropped cardigan for spring. 
Tuckernuck knit in Sprout
Squibnocket in Chesapeake – looking for an easy-to-wear skirt? This is it! 
Squibnocket knit in Chesapeake
And two adorable tunics: Madaket in Firefly and Katama in Seeding. Throw on over white pants and you’re all set for the beach picnic! 
Madaket knit in Firefly            Katama knit in Seedling
We also have three cute tops: Nonatum in Provence, Montauk in Cerro, and Tashmoo in Mesa. Pick the one that best suits your style (or all three?) and you have the summer season covered.
Nonatum knit in Provence | Montauk knit in Cerro | Tashmoo knit in Mesa

Along the Shore can be found at your LYS, or online at ravelry.com. You can also find individual patterns on ravelry – stop by your LYS for them to help you make the purchase and while you’re there, they can help you find Santorini and other great yarns right in their shop!

The Recipe

Last time, we talked about making a magic ball of yarn. This week, we give you a simple "recipe" for a scarf made from the magic ball. (Read our Web-Letter too, for a Feather & Fan Scarf!)
The ends were left exposed on this scarf. 
The scarf was knit with all ends showing on one side.
Magic Ball Easy Diagonal Garter Scarf "Recipe"

GAUGE is not crucial – choose a needle size appropriate for your ball of yarn.

AMOUNT of yarn: The 72" long scarves shown used a magic ball that weighed approx. 10 to 12 ounces (approximately 280 to 340 g) and were primarily worsted weight yarns.

ABBREVIATIONS
CO: cast on
dec('d): decrease(d)
inc('d): increase(d)
k: knit
Kfb:  Knit into the front then the back of next st – 1 st increased.
k2tog: knit two sts together - 1 st decreased
ssk (slip, slip, knit): Slip 2 sts, 1 at a time, knitwise to the RH needle; insert tip of LH needle into the fronts of the two slipped sts and use RH needle to knit them together -1 st decreased.
st(s): stitch(es)

SCARF

CO 2 sts.

Increase section:
Inc row: Kfb, k to end of row – 1 st inc’d.
Rep Inc row until you have 40 sts (or any number of sts you choose).

*Row 1 (RS): Kfb, k to end – 1 st inc’d.
Row 2 (WS): K1, ssk, k to end – 1 st dec’d.
Rep from * until longer side measures desired length.

Decrease section:
Every row: K1, ssk, k to end of row - 1 st decreased.
Work Dec section until 2 sts remain.
K2tog and fasten off.

Voila!
Diagonal Scarf with ends woven in, for a more "finished" look.

Make your own ball of yarn!

Have you seen those multi-colored, multi-textured novelty yarns where loads of different textures and colors are knotted together into one big magical hank of yarn? They make wonderfully colorful and unique scarves and cowls. You can make your own magic ball of yarn AND use up your leftovers and odd balls in the process (allowing room in your stash to buy more yarn). The concept of the magic ball is not new – Kaffe Fassett made it popular decades ago and it continues to be a great way to gain confidence working with color. 
Finished Scarves
We decided to do a little de-stashing of our own. Here's how.

Step 1: Gather all your odd balls and leftover bits of yarn.
Dive deep into that stash  you probably have more than you think. Throw a magic ball party with some knitting friends like we did at the Classic Elite office. Pool your yarns and wind the balls together. Even your most outlandish yarns will work – fun fur, bright acrylics, scratchy wools and spaced dyed yarns – all will work and add to the beauty of your magic ball. Make a big pile of yarn on the floor or a large table – you can’t have too much yarn!
Magic ball winding party at Classic Elite Yarns. It’s amazing how different each magic ball is – 
all from the same pile of yarn!
Step 2: Start winding your ball.
Choose a random yarn from the pile and cut a random length. *Choose your next yarn, cut a random length and knot it to the previous yarn with a simple overhand knot; rep from * winding as you go.

Shorter lengths will blend colors together more easily but longer lengths will leave you with fewer ends to deal with.  I usually make my lengths around 2 to 3 yards – but I don’t mind weaving in ends (more about dealing with the ends below). You can make each strand the same length or differ the lengths.

About color: You can plan your use of color or choose each length completely at random for a more stripey or patchwork look. Blending colors, to make your magic ball look as if it is one multi-colored yarn, can be achieved by always choosing your next length to have “something” in common with the previous length – either a similar hue (color) or the same value (degree of lightness or darkness) or a similar saturation.

Have fun playing color! Wind a rainbow ball by going around the color wheel. Or wind only analogous colors (2 or 3 colors next to each other on the color wheel) with the occasional pop of a complementary color (the color directly across the color wheel). 

Don’t worry too much about different weight yarns – the occasional heavier yarn won’t disrupt your knitting and lighter weight yarns can be doubled or tripled to become closer to the weight of most of the yarns used.
Susan, Cheryl, Betsy, Andi, Chris, Heather and Tonia working on their winding.
Step 3: Cast on and knit!
Choose a needle size that matches the average of yarns used. Garter, Stockinette stitch or other simple stitches work best – there is so much going on with the yarn, a more complicated stitch will get lost.

As you knit, stop to admire your knitting often. Remember, you created the ball and you can change it too. If a certain length of yarn is not working, take it out and add another or knot the adjoining strands together.
Magic Ball knitting in progress.
Dealing with the ends:  There is no way around it – Magic balls have LOTS of ends to deal with. Here are some options:

1. Weave in your ends. The method I use: Whenever I sit down and pull out my magic ball knitting, I first weave in the ends from the last time I knit, allowing me to admire my work and avoiding having all the ends to weave in at once when the knitting is done.

2. Untie the magic ball knots as you go and spit splice (if you are using wool yarns) or knit in your ends.

3. Let your ends become a “design feature”.  Instead of weaving in ends, tighten and trim knots at yarn changes. You can also adorn your ends by adding beads. If knitting a garment, let the ends flow freely on the inside – No one will know unless you tell them.

4. Trim your ends and line with fabric - cotton flannel of micro fleece work well.

Read further for instructions on making a scarf from the Magic Ball Scarf "recipe." And have fun with your stash!
Magic Ball Scarf

Birdsong

If you have seen any weather reports lately, you know that not only is the Northeast buried in snow but many parts of the country are also battling a deep freeze. Birdsong is a brand new collection of designs that features garments that are perfect for layering and for warmer temps. You will find pieces made in your favorite yarns - Cerro, Classic Silk, Firefly and Sprout. And you'll also see that we have a new yarn in this collection. Sandpiper is a cotton yarn with five spaced dyed strands that, when plied together, create a fabric with depth and interest, and enough subtlety for beautiful stitch detail. Check out the six designs below, pick your favorite to cast on and transport yourself to sunnier days!

Alouette
Sometimes the fun is in the details: easy to knit stockinette in two colors with front pockets and an open cross-over back.

Dove
This hooded open front cardi with be the one you’ll want grab when you want to be sure to have a comfortable layer available. 

Take a classic cardigan and add lace panels that stop at various heights and you have Starling.

Birdie combines 3 different colors of Sandpiper with varying width stripes in this V-neck pullover that makes a colorful piece to layer or wear alone.

Imagine a perfect Tee, that’s Jarita.  A complimentary square neckline with a rib and cable panel on the front and back along with seed stitch edgings on the sleeves, neck and bottom.

How about a fun, interesting knit? Deryn combines 3 colors of Sandpiper along with alternating section of eyelets and garter stitch with short rows, creating a shawl to keep the cool nights at bay.

Having flipped through the pages of Birdsong to write this post, I feel heartened that spring will definitely, eventually, no doubt about it, get here, sometime soon!