Category Archives: Knit Alongs

Fall 2013 Knit Along – Amy Herzog Designs

Last year, many of you joined us for our “Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting” KAL and some of you completed your very first sweaters. This year, let’s take it to the next level and achieve a perfectly fitting sweater.

Amy Herzog is passionate about helping women create well fitting sweaters. Her Fit to Flatter blog series was immediately a huge hit in the knitting world when she wrote it in 2010. Soon after releasing the tutorials, she started offering classes at yarn shops teaching knitters how to determine their body shape and create well-fitting sweaters. Earlier this year she released the hugely anticipated book, Knit to Flatter, which includes all of the incredibly useful information from her blog series plus a whole lot more!

From Amy’s website:

While I love all knitting, and do occasionally design all kinds of knitted things, my true passion is for sweaters. It is my intent that all of these sweaters should be wardrobe staples for you–things you love to pull out of the drawer and wear again and again. It’s crucially important to me that they fit you well.

To that end, I recommend you choose a size that fits your shoulders properly and make modifications from there. I’ve created lots of resources to help you do this! Please start by visiting my fit to flatter page, and I look forward to seeing what you create.

Amy Herzog DesignsFrom top left going clockwise: Trimmings, Jackaroo, Asilomar, February Fitted Pullover, & Afterlight

Want to take full advantage of Amy’s knowledge about fit and making modifications to achieve a perfect fitting sweater? Stop in and pick up a copy of Knit to Flatter and if you already own a copy, bust it out and start reading! Sonia and Liz have both been pouring over their copies and plotting ways to flatter their shapes.

Amy has over 60 published patterns, truly something for everyone! All of Amy’s Ravelry patterns are available here at Stash through the Ravelry in-store download program, and we also have several copies of Knit to Flatter at the shop, which contains 18 of those patterns.

The Knitty Gritty:

  • The Fall 2013 KAL begins on September 21st (no better way to celebrate the first day of fall than casting on a new sweater!) and ends December 21st.
  • Pick any Amy Herzog sweater design.
  • If you’re feeling really ambitious, pick up her book, get yourself measured and get to work making some modifications that are going to make your sweater fit perfectly.
  • Join us for a special monthly edition of Stitch Night to get support and cheer each other on! September 25th will be the first KAL focused stitch night! Need help getting your measurements? We have a tape measure and are happy to help. Let’s all support one another and encourage each other make the best sweaters possible!
  • Need a review from last years tutorials? They’ve all been compiled into one Googledoc or you can view them on the blog.
  • Now, get swatching!
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Filed under Books/Patterns, Knit Alongs, Knitting, Products, Stash, Tutorials

Featured Dyer:: Anzula

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Today we are pleased to feature one of our shop favorites, indie dyer Anzula.  Inspired by their upcoming visit to Stash (read on for details), we wanted to take a moment to bask in Anzula’s broad array of colors and get inspired by the story behind the yarn.

Anzula specializes in bringing you luxury fibers. You will find beautifully hand dyed and yarns and spinning fibers carefully selected from the best sources in the world. They are passionate about the crafts of knitting, crocheting, weaving, and spinning their yarns into heirloom works of art to be cherished for a lifetime.

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Stash: Can you tell us a little bit more about how Anzula was founded? Sabrina, what inspired you to take the leap into dying yarn as a business?

Anzula: Anzula grew from a hobby, from owner Sabrina Famellos’ love of crocheting and spinning.  She started selling crocheted accessories and handspun yarn at farmers market, and in a yarn shop and a record shop. She then started dyeing the fiber she spun. She spent a couple of years focusing on her career teaching massage, and when the economic downturn came in 2008 and she was laid off, she jumped into dyeing and got a booth at Stitches West selling hand-dyed yarn. It was well received, so she did Stitches South and Sock Summit that year. Encouraged by the interest, she signed up for a booth at TNNA and the yarn was picked up by 14 new shops.

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Stash: How do you come up with color stories and choose such interesting base yarns?

Anzula: The colorways that Sabrina creates come from her experience. From snapshots, mood boards, or recollections, she recreates ideas in the fiber. When creating the yarns and fiber, the focus is always on creating an heirloom quality product. She chooses only bases that she would knit with herself, and she also keeps an eye out for special blends.

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Stash:  At Stash we believe happiness is living in the potential–what a yarn could become, what a color can make someone feel.  How do you find happiness in the potential?

Anzula:  Potential is Anzula’s playground. Our warehouse is located in downtown Fresno, so our neighborhood itself is full of potential. The team always knows what our goals are, both as individuals and as a company, and we are very aware of what we are capable of achieving. This focus on productivity and goals actually allows us plenty of room for a positive, fun environment, and allows us to bring a lot of joy to our jobs.

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Help us celebrate and support Anzula this Friday for their special trunk show event at Stash.

Trunk Show Event Friday 4/26, 11am -2pm

We’re also kicking off our next Crochet & Knit-Along with their yarns on May 1st, so this is the perfect time to see, feel, and experience new colors, bases, and samples in person.  Anyone is welcome to join in the Anzula-Along; simply pop into our Ravelry group to get in on the conversation!

anzulacollageNow it’s your turn to share!  

What is your favorite yarn or color from Anzula? Let us know in the comments below.

If you liked this post, be sure to share it with your friends by clicking the social media icons below this post so we can spread the Stash love.

See you Friday!

 

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Winter Knit-Along :: The Jeweled Cowl

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Well, it’s February again, a month of chilly weather, grey skies, and wavering constitutions.  If you’re like us, you believe in the power of knitting to lift spirits, create beauty, and brighten moods. We’ve come up with a group project worthy of rejoicing and shaking away the doldrums.

The Jeweled Cowl sample has been such a hit this winter, it only seemed sensible to make this cowl the project for our next KAL!

Beads add an irresistible bit of sparkle and shine to help ease the winter blues. Knit in the round, this drapey beauty is stockinette-heavy and easy to size-alter for skinnier scarves or wider, more dramatic stoles. If you’ve been meaning to try beaded knitting, this is an excellent beginner project!

Here are the details:

Pattern: Jeweled Cowl by Sachiko Uemura
Yarny Needs: 400-600 yards of lace weight yarn and size 6-8 24” or 32” circular needles (depending on your gauge and your preferred fabric texture)
Beady Needs: size 8 round seed beads and a size 14 steel crochet hook (tiny!)
Dates: Cast on February 6th, finish by March 20th, Spring Equinox

We have a mini class for knitting with beads using a crochet hook coming up this Sunday 2/10/13 at 1pm. Call or stop by the shop to register.

Ready to cast on?  If you are local, join us this Wednesday for Stitch Night where we can cast on together!  Of course, anyone anywhere is welcome to participate in our Stash knit-alongs.  All you need to do is hop on over to our Ravelry page and join in on the discussion.

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Lee Meredith Coming to Stash!

We have a very special guest coming to Stitch Night in a couple of weeks.  Lee Meredith (aka Leethal) will be here with a trunk show of her fabulous designs!

Meet + Greet with Lee Meredith

November 14th, 5-8 pm at Stash  

Wobble Bass Hat  (photo from Ravelry pattern page)

A little bit about Lee, from her website:

Lee is a maker of things, doer of stuff living in Portland, Oregon, with a main focus on designing original hand-knit accessories. She spends her time writing, designing, making, teaching, spinning, photographing, brainstorming, and creating. With a background in photography and art, and a love of color, puzzles, and experimentation, she brings all these elements into her creative work, as well as into her writing on her blog, do stuff!

Lee has designed a variety of accessory patterns including hats, shawls, fingerless mitts, scarves and cowls. One of my favorite things about Lee’s patterns (besides the fact that they’re just plain awesome) is that they’re all completely customizable. Her patterns allow you to use any gauge yarn you’d like and guide you through the steps to make it just right.

Parallel Lines (photo from Ravelry pattern page) would be a great pattern for self striping yarns or little bits of leftovers! 

Lee’s patterns are  fun and original and many of them have an innovative and interesting construction. They’re also packed with great information and tutorials to help you learn any new techniques you may need for the pattern.

Freewheelin’ (photo from Ravelry pattern page) Gorgeous cables + contrasting edge.

The Either/Or (photo from Ravelry pattern page) mitts are part of an e-book called Remixed.

Well, I could go on and on about all the fun and interesting patterns designed by Lee…but how about you just come meet Lee and see for yourself? You can try on her innovative designs and perhaps start a new project at Stitch Night!

Mark your calendar now:

Meet & Greet with Lee Meredith 

November 14th, 5-8 pm at Stash  

Lee also has a Mystery-KAL going on right now…extra brownie points to anyone who brings a finished shawl from the MKAL!

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Fearless Knitting

On the eve of our Fall knit-along, I couldn’t help but reminisce about My First Sweater.

 

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From my blog, just after finishing up that first sweater:

My first sweater is now a knitting memory.  There are things I would do differently next time to be sure, but overall it was a positive learning experience.  I now know that I am a capable sweater knitter, up to the task of tackling any challenge.  A whole new world of possible knits now seems open to me.  Where I used to shy away from looking too closely at beautiful sweater patterns, I now take a second look.

Anything is possible when you take your time and work through the challenges, both in life and in knitting.  Knitting Wicked helped me reconnect with the fearless knitter within, something I used to know intimately but which was slowly buried.  Are you fantasizing about knitting something that you think is beyond your ability?  What if you just tried it?  And what if you tried it and succeeded?

What if, indeed?  

And with that, I challenge you to jump in needles first and join us tomorrow.  Whether it’s your first sweater or your 40th, there’s something to be enjoyed with each  new project.

I dare you to choose a pattern that intrigues, inspires, and even challenges you a bit.  The knitting community at Stash and at large is here to help, so what are you waiting for?

If you’re looking for ideas, check out Hannah Fettig’s sweater patterns here and here.  And don’t forget to check in on our Ravelry board, where there is always sure to be an answer to your burning sweater knitting questions.

Please leave a comment below and let us know what sweater you’ll be knitting this autumn and what about it challenges and/or inspires you.

Happy knitting!

xoxo

Sonia

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Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Blocking

We’re on our final blog post of the Sweater KAL series: blocking and finishing! Many knitters don’t bother blocking small projects and when they tackle a larger project they aren’t quite sure how to go about blocking. Once I started knitting sweaters and shawls (both things that really require blocking), blocking FOs (finished objects) became second nature and now I block 99% of my knitting as soon as it’s off the needles.

You can weave in your ends either before or after blocking. Some people think that it’s better to weave them in before blocking so that you aren’t messing too much with the fabric after you’ve carefully blocked your project. Other knitters say that it’s better to wait until after blocking because if you weave in the ends before blocking you won’t be able to stretch and manipulate the fabric as well. When it comes to sweaters, I haven’t found that it matters too much since you (hopefully!) won’t want to stretch it too much and there shouldn’t be overly aggressive blocking (unless it’s to open up a lace pattern). Weaving in all those ends can be a bit tedious, so some folks like to weave them in as they go. That way the only tail you have left at the end is from your bind off!

Find some wool wash:

We carry Soak at Stash…I have a large bottle like the one pictured and it’s lasted me about 8 months so far and I’ll probably get a whole year out of it. I wash a lot of handknits and use Soak for my handspun yarn as well.

You’ll want to use something gentle and ideally something that doesn’t require rinsing. I know Woolite sounds like something you should use to wash your wool handknits, but it’s a bit too harsh. You can also use a shampoo formulated for normal hair, but this requires rinsing. Personally, I like to stick to something that’s specifically for handknits and that I don’t have to worry about rinsing.

Figure out where the best place to wash your sweater is. I almost always use my top-loading washing machine. But you can also use a large mixing bowl, your sink, bathtub, or anything that will hold enough water to submerge your sweater.

Fill your container of choice with a squirt of wool wash (check bottle for specific amounts) and enough lukewarm water to fully submerge your sweater. I don’t usually measure my wool wash….but most of them instruct you to use 1 tsp per gallon of water.

Place your sweater in the water and gently push down on it so that it becomes fully submerged. If you’ve knit your sweater using wool yarn, it will want to repel the water so it needs a little encouragement to become fully submerged. Make sure you don’t agitate or rub the garment as these things could cause felting.

Walk away and leave your sweater soaking for at least 20 minutes. Don’t worry if you forget about it and 20 minutes turns into 5 hours. Not a big deal!

Carefully remove your sweater from the water, making sure that you support the entire sweater as you lift it out. It will be quite heavy, and you don’t want any pieces of the sweater to stretch under the weight of all that water!

Squeeze (don’t wring!) the excess water out. 

There are a couple of ways to get even more water out of your garment, which makes drying time faster and makes blocking a bit easier. You can roll up your sweater in several dry towels and press down on it to soak up the extra water. If you are blocking a small item such as a hat or socks, you can use a salad spinner to spin out the excess water! My personal favorite is the spin cycle on the washing machine. After I soak my sweaters (or any other knitted object or handspun yarn!), I empty the water out of the washing machine, put my sweater back in the now empty machine, and turn on the spin cycle. Only use the spin cycle for 10 seconds. I’ve tried both this and the towel method, and I think the spin cycle is far more effective. It really decreases drying time and I’ve found that there is less chance of your sweater stretching because it isn’t as weighed down with water.

Carefully carry your sweater to the place where it’s going to be blocked. If you have a mixing bowl or colander, put your sweater in there to carry it from point A to B. It’s easier to keep it all contained that way and you won’t have one part of your sweater hanging down and stretching as you walk across the house.

Lay your sweater flat to dry. You can use blocking boards, an empty bed with a towel on it, or a towel on the floor. I use large foam mats that snap together, but for sweater blocking you really don’t need anything fancy.

Block to desired measurements. I try not to fiddle with my wet sweaters too much, but I do measure across the bust to make sure that it’s close to my desired measurements. I also make sure the arms are the same length, and I often pin the cuffs just to make sure the sleeves stay the same length. If you’re knitting a cardigan make sure that each side is the same width and length.

Wait ages for it to dry. Handknit wool sweaters take forever and a day to dry. Especially in the Pacific NW during the winter. Try and be patient and wait for it to be COMPLETELY dry before doing too much with it. If the back seems really wet still, flip it over carefully.

Weave in your ends if you haven’t already! There are many different ways you can weave in your ends and I came across this fantastic post that discusses many techniques and has great pictures.

Wear your sweater proudly! 

We obviously didn’t cover everything that could possibly come up during your sweater knitting process, but I hope I’ve provided you all with some good basics to get your started!

Have you all picked your sweater patterns yet? The official cast-on for the KAL is next Wednesday September 19th! Pop into our Fall KAL thread in the Stash Ravery group and let us know what sweater pattern you’ve chosen! Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions or need advice! We’re happy to help.

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Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Seaming

Most of Hannah Fettig’s patterns are knit in one piece and require little to no seaming. However, there are a few that do require seaming and I’d like to cover it so that you don’t feel unprepared to knit other sweaters in the future!

Many knitters I know really dislike seaming. I honestly don’t mind it too much and I think it’s because I learned how to seam early on in my knitting and just went for it. One of my very first sweaters was seamed and while I prefer to knit sweaters in one piece so that I can try them on, I don’t dismiss a pattern just because it requires seaming.

I’m certainly no expert in the seaming department, but I’ll share what’s worked for me as well as some great resources.

Some Useful Tools for Seaming:

Darning Needles – we carry the Chibi’s at Stash

Marking Pins to hold your knitted pieces together – Also available at Stash

If you’re knitting a sweater that requires seaming you really need to block your sweater pieces before seaming. I know, I know. At this point you are sooooo close to having a finished sweater that you can wear and the last thing you want to do is wet your pieces and wait for them to dry before moving onto the next step. TRUST ME. Just do it. It’s really important that you block your finished pieces to the correct dimensions before you try and sew them up. It will be much easier to match them up if they’re all the correct size. Not to mention that blocking will help to uncurl those pesky edges.

Should you use the yarn you knit the sweater with to seam? In most cases, yes. However, if you’ve used a yarn that breaks apart easily (do a little tug test on a strand from your ball of yarn, does it break fairly easily?) or a single ply yarn, you’ll want to find something else to seam with. In this case, I’d suggest finding some sock yarn in a color that closely matches your sweater. This is a good time to dig through your leftovers bin! If you’re knitting a sweater in bulky yarn, you may want to think about using something a bit thinner to seam with so that your seams aren’t too bulky. Try seaming your swatch to test out whether you’d like to use something thinner before seaming your sweater.

Unlike with traditional sewing, you want to seam with the right sides facing you and the wrong sides together. The way you’ll sew them together will create a seam on the inside of the garment.

Using the mattress stitch, seam the shoulders first. Seaming the shoulders first will allow you to attach the sleeves with more accuracy. Knitty has a great article with pictures on seaming using the mattress stitch. Sometimes the pattern will have you do a Three-Needle Bind-Off for the shoulders instead of traditional seaming.

After you seam the shoulders, pin the top of your sleeve  to the body of your sweater using marking pins (or you can use split ring stitch markers or coil-less safety pins). I like to start at the top center (where your shoulder seam is) and pin the center and then each side. It’s also a good idea to use the same method when seaming. Again, use the mattress stitch. Typically, I cut a length of yarn, put it through my needle, stick the needle through the top center and pull half the length of yarn through before beginning seaming. That way you have yarn to use for seaming on both the front and back of the shoulder/top of sleeve. Start seaming the front and when you reach the underarm, stop and go back to the top and seam the back of the shoulder/sleeve.

Once you’re done seaming the top of the arm, use the mattress stitch to continue seaming down the side of your sweater. You’ll want to pin this as well before sewing. After the seaming the side, seam the sleeve also using the same pinning and mattress stitch process. 

Repeat for the other side of the sweater!

What if it doesn’t look as neat as you’d like? Well, you have a couple of options…the first, of course, being to rip out all of the seaming and try again. The second is that you can block your sweater or steam it and see if that helps even out the spots you aren’t happy with. It’s hard to believe that steaming or blocking could really make that much of a difference, but check out this post by Anne Hanson.

If you aren’t completely happy with it, rip and redo it. I know it sounds like a lot of work and it’s a bit demoralizing when you have a finished sweater and then you undo the seaming, but you won’t regret redoing it.

Some other great resources regarding seaming: Stitch ‘n’ Bitch: A Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller, The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, and The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square. There are also countless videos on youtube and forum postings on Ravelry.

The last blog post in the series will be up on Friday: Blocking!

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