Alpaca Sox – Not Just for Socks

I love Alpaca Sox. Now I know you have heard me say that about almost all of CEY yarns. But it’s especially true in this case. Of course I am a sock knitter, so I have a special place in my heart for sock yarns. But Alpaca Sox is so much more than just a sock yarn. It makes amazing shawls and scarves, great trans-seasonal garments, lightweight blankets that are sure to become heirlooms (or hold it double to make a thicker, warmer blanket) and awesome hats. Can you tell how much I love it?  Here are a few examples of some of the Alpaca Sox projects in our newest book – All Seasons.

Paramount, designed by Tian Foley, is a beautiful top down pullover.


This is a great trans-seasonal piece. You can wear it now as is. And then layer it over a long sleeve tee when the weather turns cooler (I know…it’s hard to imagine that right now, but it will be here before we know it).

One of the things I love most about this piece is the shaping. Instead of doing traditional waist shaping, Tian placed a cable and rib section around the waist to pull in the top. Not only does it give a nice shape, it gives it some added interest – both visually and in the knitting.


She then did a mini version of the motif on the sleeves to tie it all together.

I personally am a big fan of top-down sweaters. I love that you can put your knitting on some waste yarn and try it on as you go. This ensures that you will have a perfect fit when you are done with your sweater and that the cable and rib detail will hit you in the right spot.

An added bonus to top-down sweaters? Minimal finishing! Usually there are a few stitches under the arm to sew together and weave in your ends and that is it!

Something else that I love – directional knitting. It takes knitting to a whole different level. And that is exactly what Susan Mills did with Catawampus.


Susan took the garter stitch scarf to a whole new level, by turning sideways, then sideways again, and then sideways once more!

The kettle dyed effect of the AlpacaSox and the striping of different colors really shows off the multi-direction knitting on this scarf. And the fact that she has you picking up stitches and knitting in different directions means…minimal finishing!

Of course these are just a couple of examples of how to use Alpaca Sox to make something other than socks. Here are a few more from past seasons:

Clockwise from top left: Madame X, Astrid, Gabrielle, Wasabi Hat and Sky Chief

What have you knit in Alpaca Sox that isn’t socks?


Knit on!

Designer Spotlight - Tabetha Hedrick

TabethaHedrick  is a freelance knitwear designer and writer raising a family in Colorado, and lives by the belief that joy comes when fully participating in the present moment. She is a long time contributor to the Classic Elite Yarns line, as well as Vogue Knitting, Creative Knitting, Knit Simple, Interweave and Knitscene. Tabetha’s indie patterns and portfolio, blog, and teaching schedule can be found on her website, www.tabethahedrick.com

Her patterns never disappoint. They are always beautiful, classic and feminine. Today she is going to tell us about her newest design for CEY – Vixen Charm.

Vixen Charm

Of all the designs I worked on this year, Vixen Charm is easily one of my favorites! The simple, sophisticated lace, charming bell-shaped cuffs, and deliciously soft yarn make it a fabulous addition to summer and fall wardrobes.


Soft Linen is such an amazing yarn. While it doesn't have a significant amount of elasticity, the gentle twist, drape, and memory make it ideal for lace. Stitch patterns, enhanced by the gentle shadow of the plies, display themselves with a beautiful clarity (as you can see in Vixen Charm's leaf lace pattern), but it is the soft crispness that will delight you the most, I think.

 I'm frequently inspired by the lace patterns I run across in my research and they then guide me to the perfect silhouette. I love things that are feminine, especially when I can utilize them year round. I'm pretty sure Vixen Charm offers both of those aspects. Grin.


 

You can easily doll it up over a cute summer dress or wear it casually with a tank and jeans. The lace looks complex, but it is, for sure, crazy easy. Here are some tips to make the whole experience perfect:

Tip 1: Experiment with your needle tips and lean towards a soft-pointed tip, like Addi's Lace Turbos. You don't want something super sharp, because you can easily split your yarn, but you need enough sharpness to work the k3togs easily.

Tip 2: Use this chance to practice new bind off techniques! I'm pretty loose when I bind off in ribbing, but I know many knitters struggle with this. For a collar that wears easily around the body, try playing with something like the Elastic Bind Off. Here's how to work it --

Step 1: Work your first two stitches as normal.
Step 2: Slip each of those first two stitches back over to the left-hand needle.
Step 3: Knit those two stitches together though the back loop (you now have 1 stitch on the right-hand needle).
Step 4: Work the next stitch on the left-hand needle as normal (you now have 2 stitches on the right-hand needle).
Repeat Steps 2 through 4 all the way to the end. Your results will be nice and stretchy, while ensuring a good, clean edge. You can see a photo tutorial that I did for the Creative Knitting Online Newsletter here.


 These tips plus Classic Elite Yarn's awesome yarn promise that you will be super happy with your Vixen Charm project. Happy Knitting!

Other Classic Elite Yarns Patterns from Tabetha Hedrick

From left to right: Fana, Butterfly and Adele.

WIP Wednesday – Baby Sophisticate Cardigan

Not too long ago our Book Keeper, Pattie, was invited to a baby shower for a soon to be born boy - which of course meant she wanted to bring a gift. But she didn’t want to bring just any gift. She wanted to bring a hand knit gift. Unfortunately, she was a little short on time. What’s a knitter to do?

The answer of course is knit with a bulky yarn. After a consult (where most of the CEY office weighted in) we decided she should knit I mean she decided to knit the Baby Sophisticate Cardigan by Linden Down in Sprout.



 How cute is that? She told me that part of the reason she picked this pattern was because it looked like an old man’s sweater and was really charming. The pattern was really easy for her to follow - a plus for Pattie, who is a beginner knitter. And because Sprout is a bulky yarn, it knit up super quick.

The next consult on the project was finding the perfect buttons. I think we, I mean she did a great job. The blue buttons look beautiful against the bright green cardigan.



Pattie made sure to knit the 6-12 month size in the cardigan, so the baby will be able to wear it more than a few times before he outgrows it. I highly recommend this train of thought. Babies have a way of growing faster than you think they will. Also sometimes a six month old baby is bigger or smaller than the size of a six month old sweater. But one of the best things about babies is that they look adorable in things that are a little big for them and still look really cute in things that are the right size. So if you make it on the larger side, it won’t matter. 

Sprout is a great choice for baby things. Not only does it knit/crochet up fast, but it’s also machine washable (I can almost hear a collective grateful sigh from mothers of young children everywhere). We all know that while babies are totally adorable, they are also really good at being messy.

Next week Betsy is going to share with us her WIP in ClassicSilk. Be sure to stay tuned!*

Knit on!


*Hey…did you know that you can get the blog delivered right into your mailbox? It’s true. Make sure to fill in the box on the top right of this page with your email address and click submit!

Summer Knitting

For some people the term summer knitting is an oxymoron. But those people aren’t hard core knitters like us.

I love the fact that knitting is so portable. You can take with you anywhere you go.

I personally love to knit outside. I live in an apartment, so I don’t have a backyard. I often take my knitting to the park. For me it’s perfect - sitting in the shade helps keep me cool enough that I can still work on wool projects without getting too warm, but I still get the warmth of the sun on my shoulders and maybe even a little color on my pale, pale legs.


I have a blanket that I like to take with me and a light weight camping chair (so my back is supported and I can enjoy hours of uninterrupted knitting time). Some other essentials for outdoor knitting – something to drink, a snack, my iPod, a backup project (in case I get bored with what I am working on) and a hard copy of my pattern.

But the park isn’t the only place for some summer knitting. I know that Betsy (CEY President) loves to knit beach side. For her there is nothing more relaxing than hearing the waves of the ocean break along the shore while pluggin’ away on some stockinette stitch. It becomes almost meditative to her.



Another good place for some summer knitting is pool side. Although I don’t have a backyard, my apartment complex does have a pool and I have recently discovered they are open until 8 PM - which means after work, I can head down there with my knitting and lounge in one of the chairs already provided for me and zone out with my knitting - often a pair of socks, but not always. Of course I will still take something to drink and my iPod for the ultimate knitting experience.



Where is your favorite place to knit/crochet in the summer? Do you venture outside, to the beach or pool, or even the ballpark? Let us know!


Knit on!

WIP Wednesday…In the Beginning

What is the one question that one knitter asks another knitter on a regular basis? “What’s on your needles?” And the knitters who work in a yarn store or for a yarn company get asked that question at least twice as often. Trust me…I know.

With that in mind, I am starting a new series today called WIP Wednesdays. Every Wednesday I will tell you a little about something that is on the needles of an employee at Classic Elite Yarns. Most of us here at CEY are knitters (and we have a few who also dabble in crochet), so you will get to see a variety of projects. I may occasionally throw in a FO or two and there may be times when I can’t really show you the whole piece someone is working on (as it is a photo sample or a design that is yet to be released), but we might talk about the stitch or yarn.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Today’s WIP belongs to Cheryl. Yep - the same Cheryl who lost (and then later found) her Mitered Mittens this winter.  She also recently had her first design (Bias Table Mat) published in our weekly Web Letter (I personally couldn’t be more proud).

Cheryl is working on a Kali tank top by Sarah Alderson from the Knitty, Spring + Summer 2014 issue.   



She is using 3 colors of Firefly– 7774 Parakeet and 7734 Vivid Violet as the main colors and 7732 Venice as an accent. Cheryl LOVES Firefly. It is by far one of her favorite yarns. If you already checked out her Web Letter pattern, you will notice that she used Firefly and Bella Lino in her design. And it is not uncommon to see her around the office in a Firefly tank or cardigan during the warmer months.



Not a fan of traditional color work, Cheryl has recently embraced slip stitching. She really loves the way you get the look and feel of color work, while only working with one color at a time. This is her third slip stitch project this year!


Cheryl is by far our fastest knitter, so this tank should be done in no time. I’ll be sure to post a FO picture when it is.

What’s on your needles?


Knit on.

Villa Projects

Earlier in the week I told you about our newest yarn, Villa, and how awesome it is. I am really excited to share some of the amazing projects in our newest book, AllSeasons, that are knit from Villa.

Enswathe by Susan Mills is a lace triangle shawl knit from the center out and down. It features two distinctly different lace patterns that are separated by a garter section and has a gentle scalloped hem.



One of the things I love about triangle shawls is that they are more flexible than you think. You can wear them draped over your shoulders (as shown in the picture above), but you can also scrunch it around your neck and wear it like a scarf. I strongly believe in having a light weight shawl with me wherever I go in the summer – as you never know when you are going to be stuck in an overly air conditioned place. They also take less yardage than a traditional rectangle shawl…which means they work up faster.

Cowls have grown in popularity over the past few years and don’t show any signs of slowing down. That was a bag part of Tonia Barry’s design inspiration for Dancette.



Tonia combined her love of cowls with the chevron trend that also seems to be here to stay. But she took it one step further by making half of the double loop cowl in the chevron stitch and the other half in a traditional wide stripe.



This is genius…and I will tell you why. It gives the wearer more flexibility on how to wear the cowl. If you want the chevron to be the focus, you can wear that in front. But if you are in a stripy mood one day, you can adjust it so only the stripes show. Or you can wear it like our model in the first picture did, with both the chevron and stripe showing.

Knit in one color of Villa and one color of Vail, there are lots of color combinations.

Fingering yarn isn’t just for shawls and cowls though. You can also make garments from it. That’s what TianFoley did with Fortune.



I love this little top. A deep v-neck is flattering on most people and the ribbing at the empire line is a great optical illusion for those of us who are not lucky enough to have a true waist.

This is a perfect example of a trans-seasonal knit. You can knit it now, wear it in the late summer on its own, and then wear it in the fall as a layering piece underneath a jacket.

Tonia Barry also designed Beauteous in Villa.



This drapy, cropped top with kimono sleeves and lace accents is another great year round knit. Wear it now with a tank top underneath and later in the fall and winter with a long sleeve shirt or turtleneck.

All these garments (and more!) can be found in our All Seasons book, which can be found in your LYS or as a download on Ravelry.

Still looking for some inspiration on what to knit in Villa? Check out some of the FOs in Vail (Villa’s undyed cousin) on Ravelry.


Knit on!

Without further ado…

There isn’t a doubt in our minds that you love our Vail yarn. It has been one of our most popular yarns since the day it was introduced. I mean, how could you NOT love it? It is a beautiful fingering weight alpaca/ bamboo mix that drapes beautifully and has a stunning luster to it. THIS is what people are talking about when they say that alpaca is the poor man’s cashmere.

Vail is part of our MountianTop Collection, which is comprised of undyed fibers. For many of you that is awesome, while others have been longing for more.

So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Villa…Vail’s dyed cousin.


Isn’t it lovely? There are 8 beautiful colors to choose from. The next one is just as beautiful (or even more so) than the one before it.

Now, I can hear a few of you saying…“I don’t know, it’s June and it’s alpaca.”  Please let me assure that while this is a warm and wonder fiber…it is also the perfect yarn for summer knitting. Because it is a fingering weight, it will glide through your hands without getting too warm. I see lots of summer tees, shawls and lightweight cardigans created from Villa. And you won’t have to pack those FOs away once fall descends upon us, they will make great layering pieces.

I know I have quite a few things in my virtual queue for Villa…the Flair Shawl, Colette, a ColorAffection, a Featherweight Cardigan, Dahlia Cardigan (I have a cardigan problem) and so much more! It will also make awesome mitts, hats, lightweight sweaters, scarfs, shawls…you name it, it will be beautiful in Villa. I can't wait to show you some of the designs in the newest book later in the week.

OMG…I need to learn to knit in my sleep…or teach the cat to knit…or something.

Villa will be arriving in LYSs this week, so give yours a call to see if they have it in yet!


Knit on!

Don’t Forget Dad

You know how when you were a little kid and you made something for your dad in art class (like an ash tray – even though he didn’t smoke), but he still proudly put it on his desk? Yeah…that was an awesome feeling.

Dads (and granddads and uncles and brothers) love getting handmade gifts. I know this to be true from my own personal experiences. And nothing warms their hearts (or hands, heads, feet or torsos) more than hand knit gifts.

Father’s Day falls early this year – June 15th (mainly because the month of June started on a Sunday, and the holiday is always celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of the month), but it’s never too late to get that feeling back.

Does the man in your life wear a tie to work? There are a plethora of patterns on Ravelry, many of them free, for neck ties and bow ties. I would love to see some in Liberty Wool Light. That way the yarn can make some handsome pattern while you quickly knit or crochet this up, and it’s machine washable!

Maybe your guy isn’t the tie type. Now I know this thought will be difficult to think about, considering that the weather is finally acting seasonally appropriate, but how about a hat? I don’t care how many hats you have, you always need more. This is true for men and women. Unfortunately hats are easy to lose, no matter how careful you are. Not to mention it’s good to have spares hanging around (in case he needs to walk the dog late at night and left his hat in the car or at the office; or maybe he loaned his to a buddy whose ears were cold because he has doesn’t have awesome knitter/crocheter in his life; I see lots of scenarios here). Bonus points – hats go quickly!

My step dad once said to me “Hand knit socks mean love.” He got it. I think that was the nicest thing he ever said to me. He is sock worthy. One of the nice things about making socks for guys is that typically they don’t like all those fancy patterns. Pick a plain stockinette or rib sock pattern and some manly colored sock yarn and cast on. I know the timeline could be tight on this. But you can do it.

Now some of you will want to show your father figure how much you love him by making him a sweater. I can almost hear your mind turning from here. “There is no way I can make a sweater in just over a week.” And you know what…you are probably right. However, there is no shame in wrapping up a picture of the sweater you are making him along with a swatch and tell him that you are still working on it. He doesn’t need to know that you just started. The best part it will be like you are giving it to him twice…now and when the sweater is finished (hopefully that will coordinate with the fall/winter season.)

There are some dads who like to be in the kitchen. And for them there are a lot of choices. Dish clothes, kitchen towels, hot pads, etc. Again Ravelry is a great source for (often free) patterns. We have lots of yarns that would make awesome kitchen things – like Seeding or Sprout. Both are machine washable cotton and come in a bunch of colors.

Whatever you decide, I know he will love it…because you made it for him.

Knit on!


P.S. Don’t feel bad if your timeline is too tight for a handmade gift; just don’t forget to send him a card.

Where have all the stitch markers gone?

Stitch markers…they are a knitter’s best friend. They help keep us on track by separating repeats, telling us where to increase or decrease, or even helping us count our stitches when casting on. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, can be economical (plastic ones that come in a large bag) or luxurious (take a peek at some of the beautiful ones you can find on Etsy) and yet they seem to be the tool we need to replace the most.

Why is that?

Sure, they are small. And the rubber ones seem to bounce right off the needles. But it feels like I buy a new set of stitch markers once a week. Okay…that is a little bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean, right?

When looking for lost stitch markers, I recommend starting by looking in between the cushions of your sofa. There is something romantic about the relationship between the sofa and stitch markers. It kinda reminds me of two love sick teenagers. They MUST be together, no matter the odds or what anyone else thinks. It’s the Romeo and Juliet story of knitting. I am sure that if you were to lift up your sofa cushion today, you would find a bunch.

And then there is the vacuum. I don’t know about you, but my vacuum requires that I often give it sacrifices. No, not just the clumps of cat hair and dirt it is supposed to pick up. But also small earrings, hair bands, cat toys and stitch markers. I don’t know how so many get trapped in there. I am lucky that I have one of those newish vacuums that has a bag-less canister that is see through…so I can identify all the things that I didn’t intend to pick up. I confess that I don’t always dig out the stitch markers. I consider it an offering to the powers that be – knitting and vacuuming. Truthfully it’s not worth getting my hands dirty for. Although I did recently see a cable needle on the inside of the canister and just couldn’t let it stay there.

But beyond the sofa and the vacuum, where do all of our stitch markers go. Sure, there are probably tons in all of my WIPs. And if I was honest with myself about what was going to get finished and what wasn’t, I could increase my supply (this is also why I know I own about 15 sets of US 4…my favorite size, but that is a whole other blog post).

But that still doesn’t answer my question. Where do they go? Are they like the toys in the Toy Story series and come alive when no one can seem them? Do they play together? Do they have support groups for the ones that don’t see as much love? Do they run off, looking for a better life?

Do you know where all the stitch markers have gone? If so…can you let me know?


Knit on.