Monday, November 17, 2014

Let’s Talk!

We love when a simple yet elegant pattern comes along and we all fall in love.  The Dangling Conversation by Mindy Ross is just that.  Using one skein, simple design, easy to follow directions, simple stitches yet not boring, beads if you want them, and a large needle this knit is perfection!


The conversation started like this….

Our new Quince & Co. Sparrow, 100% linen, fingering weight yarn came in the shop.  We sold a bit, but folks were not sure what to make.  At under $10.00 a skein, everyone loved the price, but still could not get their hands around a project.  So I asked my mother, Lora the knitting machine, to take a look and see what she could come up with.  Right away she said, “I’m going to make a Dangling Conversation!”  And so the conversations started.


Next I asked if she could knit one up in one skein of our Madelinetosh Dandelion.  Six hours, yes, I did say six hours, later another Dangling was born.  Then there was a skein of Freia handpaint in Velvet sitting in her stash.  She walked by it every day, but it hadn’t told her what to make yet.  Then it hit; another Dangling Conversation.  This one stole the show and I had to reorder Freia quickly.

She has now completed 10 conversations.  She has made them bigger, smaller, used fingering yarn, sport yarn, lace yarn and just about any yarn she can get her hands around.  One is going to her favorite nurse at her doctor’s office, three are in our shop, one went home with her oldest Granddaughter in Tosh Merino Light color Neon Peach, one she kept for herself and still going.

Our customers have gotten quite creative with the pattern, too. One gal pulled a skein from her stash, matched it up with two more at the shop and went BIG!  Wow!  It makes a statement. 
Our very own Terry started a rash of Dangling Conversations in our new Done Roving Yarns Transitions (right).  She cut the yarn when she finished each section as she saw fit.  Many of our knitters followed her lead.    Yes, I will order a few more Transitions as this conversation is continuing.

Now we have discovered that all skill levels are enjoying this knit and it is becoming the Go-To pattern this holiday season.  We have a few completed in Manos Silk Blend that knocked us off our feet.  This DK weight yarn yielded a warm and cozy shawl.  It is big and soft and just wonderful around a light jacket.


Come into the shop and keep your ear out.  You can still hear all the conversations going on.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Second Look at GAP-tastic

There are some patterns on Ravelry that stand the test of time and remain ever popular.  About four years ago GAP-tastic Cowl by Jen Geigley hit the top of the charts and keeps popping up.  This is a FREE download on Ravelry and very simple pattern.  The charm for most about Gap-tastic is it's simplicity and use of bulky yarn... yes bulky.
Andrea recently bound off several GAP-tastics for gifts.  She says she likes to cast on around 105 stitches instead of the recommended 131.  Some others like to cast on more.  The pattern is worked in seed stitch (k1, p1) for a certain number of inches... again this is totally adjustable!
For the yarn we recommend using something very soft and luxurious.  Alpaca is warmer than wool and softer than clouds!  We have some Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Chunky that just came in.  You would need two skeins of this for one GAP-tastic using Andrea's pattern revisions.  Pick up three skeins to make a long cowl like the original pattern calls for.  There are many other choices for yarn at The Yarn Club as well.  Other popular choices are Mecha by Malabrigo, ASAP by Madelinetosh and the always fantastic, Rasta.
So go ahead and cast on a classic simple cowl and enjoy your holiday knitting for once!  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shrinkage... and not the Seinfeld kind....

We had a great question this week on our Facebook page about shrinkage.  Working with any natural fibers you have to be on the look out for shrinkage and stretching.  Just like the beings these fibers come from... they are alive and they are elastic.  Fibers are designed to react to the environment and the body that wears them.  Here's a breakdown to what we know about these different types of fibers and their reaction to the washer and dryer:

Cotton and Other Plant Fibers: Probably the toughest fibers out there.  They come from a plants and are highly resistant to heat and washings.  Cotton takes a licking and keeps on ticking.  The fiber can be blocked and pulled to extremes only to shrink back after a nice long drink of water from your washing machine.  Remember that when you wear plant fibers they tend to pull to gravity and stretch.  Therefore, if you knit up an item in linen or cotton take into consideration the effect that might have on your finished item and make proper adjustments.  There are limits to this wonder fiber... too much bleach, chlorine or starch will erode the magical properties of the cotton fiber.  So wash those cottons in some cool water and don't over do it on the bleach or soaps.  For your cottons items that are heirlooms, keep them out of the sun and wrapped in acid free paper to preserve them.  Linen works similarly as does bamboo.

Wool and all other Animal Fibers:  We're talking the afro of the lamb my friends.  There are several types of wool but all carry the same fiber structure where the fiber contains little nubs that when agitated together create the felted wool you see in over washed items.  Here's a great video courtesy of The Laundress Blog...

Courtesy of
As you can see, hand washing is the best idea for this type of fiber.  Those nubs on each fiber are the problem when washing.  Any agitation will bring about unwanted felting.  This applies to all types of
wool and alpaca.  While some wools have less of a nub than others... its still there and you'll be playing a game of Russian Roulette if you think a tumble or two won't affect your precious knitted items.

Chemicals and Soaps?
As you've probably noticed there are a lot of different mild laundry soaps out there for your knits.  Which one you choose really is a personal choice.  We cannot recommend one over the other but we can urge your to look into them all and to stay away from your traditional detergents when washing your hand knits.  If you want to prolong their use and keep them looking like the day they came off your needles look into some of the following:
  • Eucalan - This is carried at The Yarn Club and is stored up by the register.  This product is designed for delicate washes.  It is non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate free and has a natural lanolin enriched formula.  
  • Soak - Another delicate wash contender!  Soak comes in an array of scents including scentless. Designed with the knitter in mind all it's products are guaranteed to get your knits clean without fear of chemical mishaps!
  • Dreft - Although not fully tested by the knitting community Dreft is a mild detergent you can get at any local grocery store.  Originally designed for baby wear and very sensitive skin, Dreft is mild enough to give it a go for your hand wash knits.
I hope that answers some of your questions.  Remember to watch our for call for questions on our Facebook page every Tuesday!  Comment on the thread with YOUR questions and we'll try to answer it for you here on The Yarn Club Blog!

Sources:  Why Do Clothes Shrink, Why Do Clothes Shrink in the Wash,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Simple Summer Cowl

The summer is still sizzling here in Virginia Beach! Inside at The Yarn Club we are stocked with lots of great yarns for summer and high humidity knitting. One great yarn you might have missed is Alp
Natural by Feza Yarns. This is a worsted weight yarn with 231 yards per each 100 gram skein. It's a mixture of cotton, silk, linen and acrylic. These fibers act differently than wools and animal fibers. While they can provide some warmth they tend to breathe. This means while it's hot and icky the yarn will feel cooler by your skin... then when the sun goes down or you walk into an air conditioned building that cooling effect will quickly turn into a warmer feeling. Overall these fibers work to keep your body temperature at a normal level. A quick look over on Ravelry for patterns to knit up with Alp Natural include the following...

Effin Scarf by Loretta McCollough

Only need ONE SKEIN for this project!  You can buy this pattern in store too!

Linen Top by Kat Coyle

This is a FREE pattern on Ravelry using two to three skeins of Alp Natural!

Finally we have our own FREE pattern!  You might have seen our shop sample... a cowl made out of one skein of Alp Natural!

Easy One Row Cowl
By Jan Stover
Courtesy of The Red Thread

With 16" or 24" size 7 circular needles, cast on 100 stitches.  Place marker and join in the round, taking care not to twist stitches.
Rounds 1 & 2 Knit
Round 3  *(YO, K2tog); repeat from * around
Reap round 3 until almost out of yarn.  Knit 2 more rows and bind off loosely.  Weave in your ends and ENJOY!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hitofude goes viral

Hitofude Cardigan KAL

By Hiroko Fukatsu

The Yarn Club is delighted to host a Knit-A-Long to the ever-popular Hitofude Cardigan by Hiroko Fukatsu. This lace cardigan was published in October 2013 and continues to be one of the top patterns on Ravelry. The Yarn Club has over 30 active knitters who have recently completed their project, just started their project or are starting their second Hitofude now.  Designer Fukatsu says she is just an ordinary housewife who loves knitting. She lives in Tokyo, Japan.  The word Hitofude means brushstroke.  And this cardigan is just that.  It is constructed in one continuous knit.  WOW! 

The cardigan she says was designed so that you never have to break your yarn while knitting it. No scissors needed, just a continuous knit.   It is also a very simple lace repeat with only 8 rows in the pattern. 

The pattern comes in six sizes and can easily be altered. Any fingering weight yarn will work. At The Yarn Club we are seeing great results using Anzula Breeze, Madelinetosh Merino Light and the new Dandelion, Neighborhood Fiber Company’s Rustic Fingering and Studio Sock, Juniper Moon Farm’s Zooey, Anzula Cloud…. Just to name a few! While working this pattern up in a wool or alpaca blend will add some warmth for year round wear we also recommend trying linen for the humid and hot summers on the beach!

The Hitofude construction is the most complex concept to understand while knitting this cardigan. Fukatsu has you start at the top with provisional cast-ons. You will complete the upper back and sleeves, then close the sleeves and work down to the bottom. Many knitters say the construction is similar to a shurg.

Join us at The Yarn Club on Fridays at noon to work on this pattern or online through our Ravelry group. We have a dedicated thread to this KAL and will post our progress, tips and more!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Yarn Shopping Paris Style by Hazel


Yarn Shopping Paris Style
On my recent journey to Paris, I looked up the local yarn shops. What would a trip to any foreign country be without a stop at the yarn store? I follow this particular one on Facebook and decided to find them in person. The store is called Le Comptoir (meaning the counter). I wrote down the address, set out with my trusty girlfriend, and hopped on the Metro.
Finally, when we located the store, we immediately noticed some differences in American and French style yarn shopping. This shop was very narrow and long. There appeared to be very limited quantities of yarn, but upon asking I found that there is one representative ball of each color on hand. Most of the yarns were also out of my reach. The lowest level of yarns shown in the photo above was just about eye level. Imagine shoe shopping instead of yarn shopping.
Another difference was there is no room for social knitting in the store. It just isn’t done. The biggest difference I noticed was that they had not one single skein of hand dyed yarn in the entire store. None. I was maybe hoping for some German yarns like Wollmeise or anything we lust for that are in short supply on our side of the ocean. But, alas there were none. The girl told me it was few and far between to have hand dyes. Also, pattern books are tough to come by unless they are books for the yarn in the store. No individual patterns. Boo!
Next time you walk into The Yarn Club, imagine if the experience I described is the one you are about to receive. No touching the yarns, no pilfering in the bins of delicious colors and fibers, no place to sit and get a bit of help, no hand dyed delights. I couldn’t wait to come home to my yarn bliss in our own store. I feel bad for the yarn shoppers of Paris not having this fun.        

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Toilet Paper and Twisted Yarn

Toilet Paper and Twisted Yarn

At the first Men's Knitting (and Crochet) Night, we discovered a mutual hatred of one of the most evil occurrences in yarn crafts:

If you're like me, any time this happens to the yarn being fed into your hands, some small part of you dies a little each time. If it continues on, it's like being forced to listen to “Yellow Submarine” for hours and hours and hours on end. (Don't get me wrong; I love the Beatles. However, Yellow Submarine is the most annoying song ever written. If this analogy falls flat because somehow you just love the song, feel free to substitute your least favorite song, and imagine it playing inside your house with no off button available for days.) Hyperbole aside, twisty yarn is pretty annoying.

Would you believe that toilet paper offers a solution for this problem?

Take a look at the following two pictures:

Anytime you pull yarn off of a winder-wound yarn ball, whether it be from the inside or outside, the picture above is the most accurate portrayal of what is happening to the yarn. This process adds or subtracts twist. For those who like technical jargon, if the ball does not flip or roll around or anything like that, one full revolution of twist is added or subtracted for each full circumference of the ball. For the outside of the ball, it is pretty insignificant; one twist is added to roughly 6 inches of yarn, which can be knit into the garment without hardly noticing. However, near the center of the ball, the twist is added to smaller and smaller portions of yarn – one twist for every 1 or 2 inches of yarn. For center-pullers, you actually begin at this part of the ball.

Here are the solutions:
Hand-wind your balls.
Done in the usual way, the revolutions of yarn on the ball go in several different directions. Whenever you pull off of a hand-wound ball, it is likely that sometimes twist will be added, while other times it is subtracted. You have a good chance of reaching a net of zero added twist. Pros: There is a “getting-to-know-you” experience for you and your yarn. It is easy-to-learn. You get the satisfaction of watching a spherical ball roll around on the floor. Cons: It takes a lot of time (Lace anyone?). Cats enjoy spherical balls rolling around on the floor.

Flip the Ball Over Periodically.
 As you notice your yarn getting a little twisty, flip the ball over so that the yarn is being affected by a twist in the other direction. Pros: This is a very easy solution to implement. You can continue to use balls that are wound quickly on a ball-winder. Cons: It involves guess work regarding when to turn over the ball. This solution is not available to those wishing to pull from the center!

*Allow the Ball to Revolve like a Toilet Paper Roll*
This is my favorite solution. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. In the past, I have been known to place my thumb and forefinger lightly on the “axis” of the ball of yarn, and allowing the yarn ball to spin as I pull yarn off, so that the motion is similar to the usual way of obtaining toilet paper from a roll. The better way, though, is to use a Yarn Buddy.

The axis of the ball (the hole in the middle where the ball-winder was), slips over the point of the Yarn Buddy, and the ball bearings on it allow the ball to spin freely. This mimics the way toilet paper is usually placed on one of those nifty springy stick things. You'll want one Yarn Buddy for each ball of yarn you are actively working with. For those who enjoy color work, they come in twin format two! Pros: The yarn ball stays in one place – less cat interference. Ease of use – The yarn flows smoothly off the ball. The Yarn Buddies come in awesome wood types like “Zebra” and “Really Old Barn Wood.”Also, it's just so darn cool and mesmerizing. Cons: I can't really think of any.  

Now, if you love the Beatles, you can play some in the background while you knit to your hearts delight without having to worry about twisted yarn spaghetti flowing into your hands. As much as I enjoy the Beatles, I think I'll choose Gustav Mahler or Nate Ruess.