Tag Archives: alpaca

Good-bye Purl By the Sea-Another Local Yarn Store Closes

Overcast weather on Montauk beach

Overcast weather on Montauk beach

Despite the forecasts for heavy rain, my husband and I took off Friday and headed out to Montauk for one last visit to Purl By the Sea before Nora Franzetti closed its doors. Ever since we first discovered Purl By the Sea nestled behind the main drag in Montauk, it’s been the bright spot in our visits to the beach. It’s always been welcoming and friendly circle of knitters. Women who live in the area combined with those who vacation there regularly. Further, it had a great assortment of yarns including low priced work horses such as Lamb’s Pride as well as unusual high end specialty yarns. To add to the allure, Nora kept an amazing selection of knitting books.

The vibe in this store is wonderful and it’s closing is real loss to the knitting community. I feel very lucky to consider myself a part of this circle of women. They were very welcoming to my husband who tended to quietly take up residence on their husband’s rocker in the back corner.

We thought that we would be able to beat the rain. But by the time we got to the beach, it started drizzling and after an hour of camping out beneath our rain gear, we decided to head for Purl By the Sea.

Since it was our last visit, we spent most of the day there. It was the beginning of the 50% off sale and stuff was flyingout of the store.

I bought the last two Barbara Walker stitchonaries (Volumes 3 and 4). I also bought a 47 inch Addi in case I make another Hemlock Ring Blanket. Of course, I couldn’t resist at least one more addition to my stash. I bought a few hanks of Blue Sky Baby Alpaca to make a scarf which should be very soft!

Since the weekday trains back to Manhattan are scarce. We walked around Montauk in the light rain and headed back to the beach for a last look at the cloudy sky.

We treated ourselves to East by North East, a fancy local restaurant, which serves pan Asian cuisine. It was a nice way to cap off the day. Of course, our train didn’t get back into Manhattan until about 2.00am…

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

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Thermal Scoop Neck Sweater-First Sleeve

Knitting sleeves can seem endless. Some knitters like my mom, knit sleeves two at a time so that you don’t have to knit the same piece twice. I find it much easier to knit one sleeve at a time. Otherwise, I spend more time untangling the two pieces.

Instead, I keep track of the rows where I make increases and decreases while knitting the first sleeve so that I can make the second sleeve the same size. 

Since my arms tend to be longer than most of the patterns I use, I measure the sleeve before I start and layout the increases so that they occur long the length of the sleeve at reasonable intervals. All it takes is some relatively simple math and voila! 

Here’s the first sleeve (albeit without the cap).

 

Thermal Scoop Neck Pullover-First Sleeve

Thermal Scoop Neck Pullover-First Sleeve

 

 

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Cheif

Thermal Scoop Neck Sweater Front Done

Thermal Scoop Neck Sweater FrontMy  Thermal Scoop Neck Sweater is making progress. Stitch by stitch it keeps growing. One of the changes that I made to Laura Chau’s Thermal Sweater on Knitty is eliminating the button tab on the Scoop Neck. Since I’m knitting the sweater in two pieces rather than the round, I also  needed to modify the neckline. 

Here’s what the neckline looks like. I left the stitches around the neck live to help me when I add on the finishing. I plan to use 6 rows of garter stitch which makesa great border since it lays flat. Also, it matches the bottom and cuffs. 

This neck is more open than many  necklines that I have made. The idea is to allow a lacy camisole to stick out against the soft  white alpaca thermal sweater.  Inspired by lingerie, this feminine look can be adapted to either day time or evening wear.

PS – The front of the sweater is longer than it appears since I photographed it on a chair.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Thermal Scoop Neck Pullover Progresses

Thermal Scoop Neck Pullover Back Finished 

 

Thermal Scoop Neck Pullover Back Finished

The back of the Thermal Scoop Neck Pullover is finished! I am one third of the way done with the knitting (excluding finishing.) This sweater is taking waaaay longer to knit than I anticipated.  

Every time I start a sweater, I go through a process of swatching and knitting to get the  size and shape to fit.  Since this sweater is knit with thin alpaca yarn on number 2 needles, there’s more rows of knitting per piece. 

As usual, I made significant modifications to the Knitty Thermal pattern. In reality, the initial pattern may only be considered inspiration. Among my modifications are:

  1. Knitted the back and front of the sweater in two parts rather than one piece on circular needles. I did this to get more shaping than the original design. It helps that  I don’t mind sewing sweaters together.
  2. Changed the pattern stitch since I  followed the instructions for circular knitting when knitting the garment flat. I like the way that the stitch has the little ridges that long underwear has.
  3. Made  decreases and increases for side shaping to enhance the pattern rather than rely on the give in the knitted material. (I tracked the rows to ensure that it’s consistent on the front and back of the garment.)  

Since I am concerned that the sweater may not be wide enough, I am adding two stitch repeats to the front of the garment. I’ve done this before and it can be a good way to adjust the size of the garment in process. Given the choice, I prefer to make the front slightly larger than the back.  For this pattern, it should work well with the scoop neck.


Swatching religon – Do you have it?

 

Thermal Swatch - 100% Alpaca from Silk City Fibers

Thermal Swatch - 100% Alpaca from Silk City Fibers

Many knitters hate swatching since it delays the joy of starting your new project, especially if you’re a knitter who always gets gauge and are using the yarn specified in the pattern.

A swatch is practice for your main garment to ensure that your knitting will yield the sme results as those outlined in the pattern. It involves knitting a 4 inch by 4 inch square to check that you get the same number of stitches per inch. If you get less stitches, your knitting is looser and you need to use a smaller needle and if you get more stitches you need to use a larger needle.

You should look at the resulting fabric. Just because you get the same gauge doesn’t mean that it is the correct gauge for that yarn. For example, the swatch may be to gauge but produce an airy material. Then you need to use a smaller needle and do some math to adjust the pattern. Further, the sample should be washed to check whether the material changes in terms of size which can further delay the main event.

Over time, I have learned that swatching is necessary and I always make a swatch and wash it by hand. I use this piece of material to make my adjustments to a pattern. For my adaptation of the Thermal pattern, I knitted a swatch that made sense for the yarn and washed it (See above photo.)

The thinner than I remembered 100% alpaca soften and has a slight haze to it. When I measured it, it was on target for gauge, 7 stitches per inch. That said, when I started knitting the back of the sweater, I found that it more like 6 stitches to the inch due to the difference in the way I knit a larger piece. As a result, I have had to redo the math and my cast on several times.

I got frustrated at first but then I calmed down and remembered that this happens to me almost every time I start a sweater.

 

What is your experience swatching?

 

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Silk City Fibers Year End Sale Visit

As readers of this blog know, I am a big fan of the Warehouse Sales at Silk City Fibers in Paterson, NJ.  As a manufacturer and wholesale, Silk City Fibers’ doesn’t regualarly sell directly to consumers. On the second Saturday of the month, they open their doors from 9.00am to 1.00pm to consumers.

Silk City Fibers in Paterson, NJ

Silk City Fibers in Paterson, NJ

The yarns offered vary from sale to sale.  The yarns are on cones which may be a deterent to some knitters. Also, since the yarns are used in manufacture, many of them are relatively fine for the hand knitter but can be very useful for machine knitters and weavers. One way for hand knitters to overcome the issue of the fineness of the fibers is to wind several threads together. I have used multiple strands of yarns that would otherwise be too thin to make wonderful knitted projects. 

In addition to their five rooms of wares, there are often boxes of mill ends up front. For me, these are often a treasure trove of unual yarns. While there may not be enough to make a full sweater or other project, they’re great for scarves and other small projects.

Mill ends up front...

Mill ends up front...

To the best of my knowledge, Silk City Fibers’ email list for the sales has been built via word of mouth, customer telling another.

For this trip, four of us drove from the upper reaches of Manhattan to Paterson after a quick pit stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and bagels. We made good time and were in the warehouse by 9.30am.  My friends were focused on the Chunky merino which has 450 yards per cone. Together, they persuaded the manager to bring out other colors since they weren’t inspired by the ones that were for sale. Of course, the fact that they were buying twelve cones in total helped sway his decision.

Being into lace, I was focused on a cone of their Kashmir, a 15% cashmere, 15% silk, 70% merino blend, which was on sale. I bought a cone in a brick red which I plan to make into a spectacular lace piece. 

Out of the mill ends, I found a 2 1/2 pound cone of Italian 100% linen in a New Yorker’s favorite color, black. While the thread is very thin, I figure that I can knit three threads together to make a great linen top. Additionally, I bought a 1/4 pound of a fine grey mohair with a thin silver sparkle to it. I tested knitting one thread before I bought it and it will create a wonderful stocking knit shawl.

As we were finalizing our decisions, one of the employees brought out four one pound cones of 100% alpaca that had been company samples. It was very soft alpaca from Peru in a fingering weight. I took the cone of white  to use for a lace item.

We paid and left happy so that we could get back to the city before noon. Each of us had spent under a $100.00 for our stash enhancing bundles which were way below the retail prices we’re used to.

NY Sheep & Wool Festival – Rhinebeck Bound

For the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY, our friends Kathy and Bill invited us to spend the weekend at their cabin in the Catskills. While Kathy introduced me to Sheep & Wool Festivals five years ago, this was our first Rhinebeck adventure in four years.

Cabin in the Catskills

Cabin in the Catskills

Catskills Cabin in the Woods

Catskills Cabin in the Woods

A sheep and wool festival means serious stash enhancement with yarns that are difficult to purchase at retail. Despite my overflowing stash containing over a year’s worth of yarn, I still wanted more. We arrived around mid-afternoon which enabled us to snag a great parking spot near the back of the fair grounds. We also got to see some of the dog trails which I had never seen before (too much yarn and too little time! I have my priorities.)

Back Entrance to NY Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck

Back Entrance to NY Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck

Alpacas enjoying the NY Wool Festival

Alpacas enjoying the NY Wool Festival

October Sunlight on Felted Hats at Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival

October Sunlight on Felted Hats at Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival

Horse Drawn Train at Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival

Horse Drawn Train at Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival

Lace knitting has captured my imagination this year. Maybe it’s the mathematical increases and offseting decreases that create amazing patterns. Whatever the reason, I focused my shopping on yarn for future lace projects and I found wonderful yarns to add to my stash. Top on my list was some true Shetland Lace from Jamison and Smith, the purveyors of the true article. I bought two skeins (870 yards) for a bargain $20.00! In addition, I bought a hank of Icelandic lace weight in a natural beige, which the hubster liked. It was a generouse 2,400 yards for $24.00. Lace weights definately help you stay within a budget!

Near the front of one of the barns was low priced wool from a variety of sheep bred in Maine. I bought a cone of sport weight in a wonderful turquoise containing 1,750 yards for $18.00. (While the yarn was a bit course, the finished garments were softer. I thought that it would make a nice jacket sweater.)

Lastly, I indulged in a qivuit blend, the most luxurious of fibers. It comes from the wild musk ox in Alaska and makes cashmere seem reasonably priced! I bought one skein with 436 yards of a plum lace weight. In addition, we purchased some New York state dessert wines and a pair of ear muffs.

It was a great weekend to be in the country where the leaves were colored glorious reds and yellows. The fall sunlight was ever so bright. We went into a nearby town to check out some local galleries and to have brunch.

Halloween Spirit in the Catskills

Halloween Spirit in the Catskills