Our friends at Smith College created a cute video featuring Northampton. Make sure you check it out, and watch until the end for a special cameo from your favorite yarn store.
Are you a fan of Valley Yarns? Have you been meaning to try it for a while but just haven’t gotten around to it? Now’s the perfect chance during our Valley Yarns Flash Sale. You have through October 6, 2015 at 11:59pm EDT to save 30% on Valley Yarns!
Valley Yarns is our own brand that we source from all over the world. We look for beautiful yarns that will last, and strive to have them at affordable prices. You may want to take this chance to check out our two newest yarns, Valley Yarns Hatfield and Valley Yarns Sunderland. Both of these 100% alpaca yarns are super warm.
Maybe merino is more your style? Take a look at Amherst. It’s one of my favorite Valley Yarns yarns because it is so soft. Prefer something without wool? Valley Yarns Southwick, Valley Yarns Longmeadow, and Valley Yarns Goshen are all wonderful cotton blends. I have a hard time knitting with cotton, but I must say, Goshen is one of my favorite yarns, and I’ve done several projects with it.
If you’re hoping for something machine washable, we have three weights of Valley Superwash, Worsted, DK, and Bulky, that are sure to fit whatever project you are looking to make. I’m actually thinking about some quick accessories in Valley Superwash Bulky, since the weather turned a bit chilly over the last few days, and we have some great bright colors that we’ve recently added to the line.
This is just a small sampling. No matter what Valley Yarns yarn you choose, you’ll love working with it. If you need inspiration, we also have a wonderful collection of Valley Yarns patterns designed exclusively for the yarn.
Don’t forget, until October 6, 2015 at 11:59pm EDT, you can save 30% on your purchase of Valley Yarns.
The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest arrived recently and this book is not to be missed. Slip-stitch knitting is a simple and versatile technique that can be used to create stunning projects that look a lot more complicated than they are. Create stunning colorwork, amazing texture, and more.
The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting includes a complete overviews of all of the basics of slip-stitch knitting. Stitch formation, reading charts, customizing stitch patterns, selecting yarns, and tips for designing are all included in this book. Not only that, you’ll also find 16 patterns for garments and accessories that use slip-stitch knitting.
The Fialka Boot Toppers look like complicated Fair Isle, but there are worked in a fairly simple slip-stitch pattern that plays with the placement of stitches, how floats are carried, and color changes. It’s super easy to customize for your favorite color, too. The Šiška Hat looks like a complex cable, but instead it is made up of crossed slip stitches. The reverse is a basketweave pattern, so you get two hats for the price of one. It’s knit in Malabrigo Worsted, so you know it’s super soft, and this one may end up the next project on my needles.
Not only will you find great accessories, like those above, The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting also includes gorgeous garments. I’m a big fan of hoodies, and with a finished size range of 36 ½” – 57 ¼” the Kromka Hoodie would fit an array of sizes. The body of the sweater is worked in a single color in stockinette stitch, and the cuffs and front bands are worked in a two-color slip-stitch pattern, with a different two-color pattern at the hem. It’s colorful without being overwhelming. The Koketka Sweater is a classic yoke sweater knit in the round from the bottom up. There is a two-color slip-stitch pattern on the edges as a border, and another slip-stitch pattern is used on the yoke. This pattern teaches you how to shape without disturbing the pattern, and it’s a beautiful option knit in Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk.
Whether you’re new to slip-stitch knitting, or already a fan, The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting is definitely a book to pick up for you bookshelf, and explore these great techniques.
Now that you’ve created your list, and you know what yarns and projects, you should probably decide how you want to organize all of this info. Are you a pen and paper person? Do you prefer a computer? Your smartphone? You need to pick what’s best for you. If you prefer physically crossing things off a list, you might want to use a notebook. If you, like many of us, live on your smartphone, you may want to utilize an app.
Pen and Paper Person?
Head to your favorite office supply, or even better, paper store and peruse the notebooks. There is great joy in selecting a new notebook with fresh pages that’s just waiting to be filled up. Consider how you’ll want to keep track? Are you going to want to dedicate one page per person? (You can draw a big ‘x’ through the page when you finish the project.) Would you like to use lined paper, or maybe graph paper? Again, you need to think about how you’ll function best. I like the idea of using a page per person, especially in a smaller notebook, like a pocket Moleskin.
Do spreadsheets make you grin from ear-to-ear? Does having information saved on a computer make you more comfortable than a notebook that can be lost? Spreadsheets may be the way to go for you. You can organize the columns however you like. Name of the recipient, project name, yarn being used, anything else you need for the project, finish date for the project. You could even include things like start date, halfway point date (where you need to be halfway done), or a column for a contingency gift just in case (which you won’t need, since we’re planning ahead). One of my favorite things is color-coding. I’d probably color code the people by priority level and then the projects by type. If there are several hats on the list, and I’m feeling particularly excited about making hats for a few weeks, I can easily spot them on the spreadsheet and knock them out. When you complete a project, you can gray out the cells, or use strikethrough to mark it finished.
Nearly everyone I know has some version of a smartphone, and there are tons and tons of different organizational apps. If you’re an organized person, chances are, you already have your favorite. Mine depend on what I’m doing. For example, for something like grocery shopping, I use Clear. This app is basically a list-maker. You can swipe to check the item off the list. If you want something more robust that handles more information, you may want to check out something like 2Do, or Swipes, which integrates with Evernote. Because organization is such a personal thing, you want to use the app that’s best for you.
How will you keep yourself organized?
You’ve decided who you’re going to make gifts for, but what exactly are you going to make them, and what yarn are you going to use. Usually we have at least a general idea of what we want to make someone. Using my examples from last week, I know I want to make my mom socks, my sister would love something kooky, my nephew a dinosaur, and coworker 1 a shawl. My cousin needs a pair of mittens or gloves and we’ll add a boyfriend who needs another hat in there too (since he liked the last one so much).
Where do you go now? I think the easiest way to proceed is to choose a specific pattern that you want to make the person. You could search through the patterns on our site, use the search feature, and search for, say dinosaur. Oh look! Danger Crafts Basil the Boogie-Woogie Brontosaurus PDF. It’s adorable and going on the list for the nephew. Something kooky for my sister may be a little bit longer of a search. I would start this search on Ravelry. The ‘advanced search’ feature is great for this. I started by clicking on ‘softies’ (all), then ‘knitting’, and ‘worsted’ (because I don’t want to spend forever knitting it). Next, I sorted by ‘most popular.’ I didn’t see anything on the first page that screamed her name, but what I did see was a fox, and my sister loves foxes. So, I added fox to the search box and found a great project for her – Backyard Bandits. Hey, I could make her all three! Well that’s settled. On to searching for the other projects.
So, now that I have that projects settled, it’s time to pick the yarn. I have all the pattern information and a general idea of what I’m looking for. Again, I take to the search section on our site. We’ll use that Boogie-Woogie Bronto for this example. I know I want something washable, since it’s a stuffed animal, and my nephew is 3. Under the yarn category, I click ‘Yarn by Fiber’ and select ‘Washable Wool.’ Scrolling through, I spot Berroco Vintage. I’ve used this yarn before with loads of success, and I know there are lots of color options, so I’ve found my yarn for the Bronto. I just need to decide on colors.
Another option, is of course, knitting from the stash. My stash happens to be a lot of sock yarn that’s perfect for socks, shawls, and mittens. So, taking a look at the requirements for those projects, and looking at the yarn I have in my stash, I’m sure to find just what I need. And if not, there’s always yarn.com.
What’s your favorite way to search for yarns and patterns?
There’s no new Ready, Set, Knit this week, so check out the archives and listen to your favorite episode, or catch up on some you’ve missed. Not having a new podcast this week got me to thinking about the different things I like to do when I’m crafting. I watch TV, listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, and sometimes I just like to enjoy the silence. I have a backlog of podcasts that I need to catch up on and a pile of audiobooks that are waiting to be listened to. I think this weekend will be a good time to slow the go-go-go that’s been happening, take a little time to craft, and catch up on listening.
What’s your favorite “noise” to listen to while knitting, crocheting, weaving, or spinning?
When planning your holiday projects, the first step is to decide who you want to gift with your precious handmade projects. Well, the first step is deciding if this is something you want to undertake, but even if you’re only planning one or two projects, a plan is always helpful. Anyway, because your time is important, you do not want to spend that time working on a project for someone who is just going to shove it into the bottom of a drawer, or won’t be able to properly care for it, or who could lose it.
For example, I love my dad. He is amazing and can fix anything. I would love to make him a hat, but I also know how many hats he goes through in a winter. It’s not because he makes a habit out of losing things, or because he’s absent-minded. He has a tough, busy job where he doesn’t stop and is responsible for things like snow removal. In the process of doing a hundred things at once, things like hats get misplaced. I know he would be afraid to accidentally misplace it, so I don’t want to make him something, that I know he’ll love, but will be afraid to use.
Another gift recipient type is the kind that won’t actually be excited about receiving something you spent your time creating. I’ve seen this happen with family members who don’t know anything about crafting, or think it happens overnight. I’ve also seen stunning handmade gifts be cast aside at baby showers because the recipient just wasn’t interested. I’ve been very lucky because nearly every single one of my projects has been excitedly received. Sometimes you don’t know if the person is going to be excited about your gift, but it’s a chance you need to decide if you want to take. Most of the time, you can tell if the person will be thrilled.
So, make a list of the people you want to craft for. Really look at that list. Then, prioritize based on who you really want to knit for. Will my mom, sister, and cousin love those things I’m planning on making? Yup! They stay on the list and move right up to the top. As I mentioned, Dad would love it, but wouldn’t use it, so he gets crossed off. Is my 3 year old nephew really going to be excited about something I make? Possibly, if it’s a dinosaur. He’ll go in the middle, because I can always pick something out equally fun from the local toy store. Coworker 1 would love a project, but since they aren’t family, they’ll also be moved to the middle of the priority list. Coworker 2 would appreciate it, but probably won’t use it, so they’ll get some other awesome trinket. Friend 3 would be just as happy with some store-bought mittens and can’t tell the difference, so I won’t be spending my time knitting for them.
How do you prioritize your gift list?
I know, you probably don’t want to hear it, but we’re just 5 months away from the winter holidays. This year is going to be different! I say that every year, but this year, I actually mean it. I’m going to make a plan for holiday projects and I’m going to stick to it. I really am. (Please stop laughing! :))
If you’re anything like me, organization goes a long way to making things easier, and so does checking stuff off of lists. There’s nothing more satisfying than having a to do list with everything crossed off. So, this month, we’re going to take a look at some planning tips. Every week we’ll have a different post focusing on the things you can do to make planning and completing those projects you want easier.
I know this makes holiday projects sound like a big undertaking, and there are lots of you who don’t feel the need to make anything for anyone. (And there’s nothing wrong with that, the entire rest of the year, I’m happily selfish with my crafting!) I have found, there’s nothing better than watching the face of someone who truly wants a handmade gift as they open the package and are thrilled with the contents.
What are we going to cover? Well, we’ll talk about putting the right people on the list, the actual planning (for yarn and patterns), and the best ways to keep track of your progress.
What are some of your favorite tips for planning holiday projects?
I don’t know about you, but my summer knitting seems to consist mostly of MKALs (Mystery Knit-a-longs). There’s something about the surprise that is more appealing to me during the warmer months than any other time of year. I like having a pattern handed to me in chunks. It also sometimes helps me to finish sections, since I know the next one is coming.
There are several MKALs starting up (or that have recently started) that I’m already signed up for, or thinking of signing up for. Kirsten Kapur’s Through the Loops Mystery Shawl 2015. I have quite the stash of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light that I’m planning on going through and choosing two colors to make this shawl. It’s one of my favorite yarns for shawls, so I’m excited to get going on this one.
Next up is the Hydrangea MKAL 2015 by the fine folks from Kelbourne Woolens in The Fibre Co. Meadow. I did their MKAL last summer that featured Meadow and I loved it. They include great tips on the different techniques, so it’s awesome if you’re trying to pick up new skills and really learn something. I’m still trying to decide on a color though. After the winter we had, I still don’t want any dull or netural colors, but the Queen Anne’s Lace is calling to me!
The Shetland Trader MKAL is also appealing to me. I like that it’s more of a focus on texture than on lace. Gudrun Johnson designed one of our 40th Anniversary patterns, Valley Yarns 40th Anniversary 14 Tirrick Shawl, and this one is still on my to-knit list. I just love the pattern and I have no doubt that Gudrun’s MKAL would be a fun one. Maybe in three colors of Valley Yarns Charlemont?
So, what do you think about MKALs? Are they something you’re interested in? Obviously from my three picks, I’m a shawl knitter, but there are lots of other MKALs out there. What is your ideal MKAL project?
It seems like everyone I know is about to have, or has just had a baby. Knitting baby things is very rewarding for me. You get a finished project in no time at all, and thankfully, most of the people I have knit for are super appreciative of the gift. If you’re looking for some inspiration for Spring baby knits, the Valley Yarns Spring Baby Sets eBook is a great collection.
It contains three matching sweaters and blankets that are perfect for baby. The yarns it features are Valley Yarns Longmeadow, Valley Yarns Valley Superwash DK, and Valley Yarns Valley Superwash (which happens to currently be part of our Anniversary Sale).
The Martius Baby Pullover and Martius Baby Blanket feature cables and moss stitch. I love the addition of contrasting, colorful buttons at the shoulder. It is a cute detail that can add a bit of pop and personality.
If you’re looking for an adorable short sleeve baby cardigan with a lacy touch, you’ll want to check out the Aprilis Baby Cardigan and Aprilis Baby Blanket. I love the lacy pattern, and you may recognize it as a tiny version of our popular Philomena Cardigan.
The Maia Baby Cardigan uses a fun math trick to turn two matching garter stitch hexagons into a cardigan. The trick is that they aren’t really hexagons, but 3-dimensional shapes made of six right angles. Simple stripes wrap all the way around the outer edges of each hexagon to give clues to the clever observer about how it’s made. The 3-needle bind off used to join the pieces together in the end is sturdy, but can be undone in order to be worked on again to keep the cardigan growing right along with the baby. The Maia Baby Blanket is worked from the center out, bright stripes around the outer edges.
All of these patterns are also available individually, but the eBook saves you almost half the price! Plus, having the patterns as downloads is so handy for carrying along and saving without taking up physical space.
Which pattern in the collection is your favorite?