Pinterest Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered our Pinterest Contest! It was really fun to see what everyone liked from our Fall 2013 Collection. Here are some of the top pins:

Clockwise from top left: Cinnabar, Pinecone,
Cutie Pie, Trillium, HRH and Colette
But I know what you guys are really waiting for. So without further ado…drumroll please…

The winner is Allyson from AZ. Allyson chose the Shiver pattern in Kumara. I can't wait to see her Finished Object.

Congratulations Allyson!

Vail - a magical yarn!

Vail, CO is a magical place. The mountain-scape is stunning. And the town of Vail has a quaint European vibe that is perfect for a ski town, but also a great place to stroll around, have lunch and do some shopping in its many stores and art galleries. I am lucky to have a family member who lives not far from there and have been to visit lots of times.


And just like Vail, CO, our MountainTop yarn Vail is magical and stunning! It is one of my favorite CEY yarns (I know…I shouldn’t pick favorites. But sometimes it’s hard not to).  It is a fingering weight blend of alpaca and bamboo, which means it has a nice drape, beautiful luster, keeps you warm and toasty, and comes in 8 natural colors.

This fall we released Avant Garde, a booklet featuring five designs in Vail.

My favorite piece (I know, I know) in the book is Colette by Tonia Barry. It is a simple open front cardigan with a unique button detail on the sleeves that gives it just an extra bit of flair. It’s one of those cardigans that you will wear with everything – jeans and t-shirt, a skirt and boots to work, or over a dress for an extra layer of warmth. 

The sleeves are each knit in one piece with the buttonholes worked into the fabric as you go. Additionally there is a purl bump worked into the sleeve as a placement guide for the buttons. Once you have finished the knitting on the sweater and have sewn it together, you simply fold the sleeve over and button the corresponding button in its buttonhole to make the sleeve more fitted and give it a je ne sais quoi.


There are some other great pieces in the book as well, including Margaux, which is crocheted. Jill Wright used a simple mesh stitch to highlight the shape of her tie-front cardigan with deep flowing sleeves.


Some of the other pieces in the book include a lacey chevron wrap (Simone), a pullover with a double peplum (Adele) and a pullover with lace panel on the front and a unique ruffled trim on the sides (Paulette).
  
  

Vail is best known as being perfect for shawls. Jump over to Ravelry to see some of the amazing things people have made with this beautiful yarn!


Knit on!

A hat...a hat I can do!

For the past 3 weeks I have been working incessantly on a sweater to wear to Rhinebeck (aka the New York Sheep and Wool Festival). I have gone several times in the past and love seeing all the beautiful hats, scarves and sweaters that are hand knit. Not to mention all the socks that are hiding under everyone’s boots and shoes.


The first week I was really excited about the sweater and made amazing progress on it. But somewhere in week 2 I started slowing down and I have come to the conclusion that I am just not going to make it. I still have both sleeves, the collar and the button plackets. Even if I stayed up every night from now until then I would not be able to finish the sweater.

But I still wanted something new and knitted for Rhinebeck.

And then the other day I had a brilliant idea. A hat. A hat I can do!

I navigated over to Ravelry right away and starting looking at patterns. I had an idea of what I wanted, but didn’t want to start from scratch. Something slouchy with some texture. Simple, but not basic. I looked for a while and was ready to give up. When I finally found it!

The Ackert Hook Hat by Laura Chau was it - a slouchy hat, mostly in seed stitch with a flower at the center. Perfect.

I ran back to the warehouse to see what I could use to make the hat. I choose Color by Kristin in Aubergine – a color that will go with the multitudes of scarves and shawls I own. I couldn't wait to get home to cast on.

It only took me 2 evenings to make this hat and I love it. I used 2 skeins of yarn on a size 4 needles (I knit on the loose side). It’s a little dark to see the beautiful flower, but I know it’s there and that is what counts! It’s a great fit and I can see myself wearing it with lots of different things.

 

And best of all…it’s finished!

I did make a few mods. I took out one repeat, as I wanted a slouchy hat, but not too slouchy. And instead of a 1 x 1 rib, I did a 2 x 2.

I am really looking forward to see all of the knitters and crocheters at Rhinebeck and to come back with lots of inspiration for my needles. That’s the best part. Well…except maybe the maple flavored cotton candy.


Knit on!

Hand Knit Socks

Sock knitting is one of those things that knitters have very strong feeling about, one way or another. And they are not shy about telling you their reasons either.

“I love knitting socks, they are so toasty”

“Ugh, why would you knit socks, when you can just buy them? It’s not like anyone sees them!”

“Socks are a great travel project – they are small and once you have a basic pattern memorized, you can do so many things without being glued to a pattern.”

 “Wool socks are itchy.”

“Hand knit socks are a great way to express yourself. There are so many beautiful yarns out there just made for socks.”

“What a waste of time – I would rather make a sweater (or cardigan, or blanket). I would never wear them anyway!”

I know I have mentioned this on the blog in the past, but just so we are clear…I am a sock knitter. There. I said it. It’s out there. What do I like about knitting socks? So many things…

A plain vanilla sock is a great travel project, especially for someone who relies on mass transit. Working the leg or foot portion of the sock takes no thought what so ever, and even the cuff, heel and toe are like second nature after making a few pair.

They fit your foot EXACTLY. I am tall and therefore have big feet. Women’s socks are always a little too tight and if I buy men’s socks, they are a little too big. Hand knit socks are always perfect!

Wearing hand knit socks to bed is the best! You know how your feet get cold at night, but you can’t wear your slippers to bed? Hand knit socks are the answer.

Everyone wears socks…so everyone needs socks! They make great gifts! Really. Once people know you make socks they will stop asking for scarves and hats.

I am paraphrasing StephaniePearl-McPhee when she said “Socks make you feel smart.” She explained that prior to you turning a heel for the first time, you will worry about how it all works out and that it is impossible to do. And then you do it. And you feel like you should be a rocket scientist. I hadn't made a pair of socks when I read that. Now that I have, I can tell you that she is right.

Socks are flexible. You can make them cuff down or toe up. Long or short. You can use DPNs, 2 circular needles or magic loop (my preferred method).  You can make them as simple as you want or extremely complex.

CEY has several great yarns to use as sock yarns. My favorite is the Liberty Wool Light Print. I love it because I can make a simple sock and let the yarn do all the work for me. I made this pair last spring and they have been getting a lot of wear lately.


I also love that I can just throw them in the wash and not worry about them felting. (Pro tip – consider letting your socks air dry after washing them. It’s a little easier on the fiber and may help prolong the life of your socks).

This year we also introduced Liberty Wool Light in Solids, which if perfect for those socks patterns that include stitch patterns that would otherwise be a little hard to see in a print or variegated yarns. I can’t wait to get a few things off my needles, so I can cast on some lacey socks with the LWLS.

Another great sock yarn is our Alpaca Sox. Made from alpaca, wool and nylon socks made from this yarn will keep your feet warm and dry for years to come. You will definitely want to wash these socks by hand…but it is soooooo worth it…

I love the Alpaca Road Socks by Maria Leigh in the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts. She used 2 colors of the Alpaca Sox to make a subtle plaid pattern. Just enough to keep your interest, but not so much that you can’t easily memorize it. And the extra layer of yarn in the floats of the color work will be extra warm for those cold winter nights that are ahead.

 
Photos courtesy of Interweave Press, Harper Point Photography
Do you make socks? If not, maybe now is a good time to try a pair out. You know…before it the nights get really cold!


Knit on!

Alpine Forest...an interview with Amy Loberg and give-away!

Our good friend Amy Loberg is back this season with a dedicated accessory booklet called Alpine Forest. In this book she used Fresco and a variety of techniques to make beautiful feminine accessories for adults and even an updated version of a classic baby hat and mitt set. From cables to color work to lace, there is something for every knitter.



I sat down with her to talk a little about knitting and the book.

Stay tuned to the end to answer a question about Amy for a chance to win a copy of her Alpine Forest book and 3 skeins of Fresco!


CEY: How long have you been knitting?

Amy: My German grandmother taught me to knit when I was either 7 or 8. My mother and sisters all knew how to knit, but used the English technique. My mom thought it would be better for me to learn Continental, so she had my Grandmother teach me. I learned to crochet at the YWCA at age 10.  I am perfectly competent at crochet…but I prefer knitting.

CEY: What was the first thing you knit? 

Amy: Oh…that was too long ago to remember! My first ‘real’ knit was a sweater after I received my undergrad. Then I took a long break until after grad school when my sister sent me a kit that was an intarsia sweater of the world! Sean (my husband) bet me $100 that I could not finish it in a year. I used the money to buy a new sewing machine!

CEY: You and Sean own Fiber Wild in Galena, IL. What inspired you to open a yarn store? 

Amy: We were living in the concrete jungle (Chicago) and wanted to move to the country and get out of engineering and high tech. Here, you either create your own job or bring your money with you. The county is a huge tourist area because is it beautiful and it is full of history. We thought that since I was a fiber junky already, there was no yarn store around; we would give it a try. We were young enough that if it did not work, we could always go back to the real world.


CEY: When did you start designing knit wear? 

Amy: I designing and sewed my own clothes as a kid and moved on to quilts when I was in college. I guess knitwear designs started shortly after I started knitting and spinning. About 10 years ago I knit something that I not only really liked, but fit me really well. That was when I started documenting my designs and writing patterns. 

CEY: What inspires you? 

Amy: Structure and pattern really inspires me. And good yarn always helps. Sometimes it’s a color or two or three. I think very spatially and will work through the entire design in my head before the yarn hits the needles or the pen hits the paper. Patterns come to me without encouragement, sometimes at odd times. If I am lucky, I can write them down before they escape!

CEY: All of the designs in Alpine Forest are made using Fresco. What is it about this particular yarn that that draws you in? 

Amy: I love the color palette and the texture. The colors are bold enough to be fun without being too bright. And there are lots of choices and you can always find great pairs for color work.  The texture of the yarn is great. While it is being worked with, if feels soft and holds the stitch definition well. Once is washed, it blossoms and is incredible soft. 


CEY: In this book you use a variety of techniques – Fair Isle, cables and lace. Do you have a favorite technique? 

Amy: This month it is color work, next month it will be cables. The month after that I will move onto something else like lace or socks. Sooner or later, my fingers will be itching for something I haven’t done in a while…like color work!  I like to say I am a sweater and sock junky. But I am also a color work, lace and cable junky.

CEY: What is on your needles right now?  

Amy: Here is what I will admit to having the following on my needles right now: 

  • A Fair Isle sweater made from lots of left overs we had in the shop
  • A Lopi style sweater
  • A simple tunic with a little bit of lace detail (this is my shop knitting project)
  • A couple of simple shawls that will eventually have some lace on them…when I feel it is the right time.
  • And lastly a pair of socks!

It sounds like a lot, but I knit sleeves in the shop on the weekends so I often have multiple sleeves done long before the bodies are started!

There are other projects, but we don’t need to talk about those!

To enter the giveaway, send an email with the title 'Amy' to blog@classiceliteyarns.com by Friday, October 11 at 5 PM EST with the answer to this question: Does Amy knit English or Continental? One winner will be selected at random for the correct answers. 

Holiday Knits

This time of year is about when I begin to panic as a knitter. I am coasting along, working on all 8 of my current projects – for once knitting for me – when all of a sudden I start spotting Halloween stuff in the stores. Everyone knows that Halloween is the unofficial start of the holiday season. If the jack-o-lanterns are coming out, it won't be long until the turkeys start to appear. And right after the turkeys are ‘the holidays.’ There is also something about this time of year that the hands of the clock seem to move faster and faster... which means I am already running out of knitting time.

If you have even had a passing thought about knitting or crocheting something for a loved one for the holidays this year, I implore you to come up with a plan NOW. I say this for your own good. We partake in the fiber arts because it is fun and relaxing. There is nothing fun and relaxing about staying up until the wee hours before the day you open presents, wired with caffeine and weaving in ends.

I also encourage you to think small. Yep, you read that right. Think small. Sure you would love to knit a sweater for everyone in your family, but (if you are like me) with 2 parents, 4 siblings (1 brother and 3 step-siblings) and countless nieces and nephews…it just isn't going to happen. But hats...hats you can do.

One of my favorite books from this season is..well…Favorite Hats. It has 9 patterns and features several different yarns. The projects in the book range from a simple man’s cap with stripes to a cabled hat with a big pompom to a slouchy sparkly hat. You are sure to find something for everyone on your list.

  

Hats are great, most people wear one in the winter, but if you want to make something on a slightly larger scale there is Favorite Scarves & Wraps. This book features eight patterns that range from a simple lace scarf to a bulky wrap (again with pompoms!).

 

Now is the time to make your list of who is getting what and start planning. And don't forget to make at least one extra to wrap for those ‘Oh…I didn't know we were exchanges gifts’ moments that we all have!