April 26, 2016

Spring Inspiration: Rangoli Shawl

A colorful shawl design recently caught our eye in the latest edition of Twist Collective: Rangoli is a vibrant exploration of color which combines lace with slipped stitches to create a stunning effect.

Designer Lana Jois shared the story of how this design evolved from concept to finished piece:

When I sent in the idea of Rangoli to Twist Collective, it was only in two colors. I mentioned to the editor Kate Gilbert that it was inspired by an artform of the same name, the art of making beautiful designs on floors and courtyards using colored flour and flowers on festive occasions – and so it evolved into a multi-color shawl.

The package of yarn I received from Blue Sky Alpacas simply took my breath away – I was having Spring flown to me in a parcel! Kate must have already had Fruit Theme on her mind for Spring 2016 because she had picked #144 Mango, #143 Papaya, #145 Guava and #148 Peridot in Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk. Beginning with lovingly winding the skeins by hand all the way to taking the shawl off the blocking mats and (very reluctantly) sending it off, I had an amazing time making Rangoli. The yarn was a delight to work with. The shawl combines three stitch patterns that are part lace and part slipped stitches so you’re only working with one color at a time.

Rangoli is knit with Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk yarn, a shimmering blend of 50% alpaca and 50% silk; you can view pattern details on Ravelry and Twist Collective.

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April 12, 2016

Spring Sweaters

Warm-weather knitting projects need not be an oxymoron with the right stitch pattern and yarn! Recently, two lovely knitted tops have caught our eye for the spring and summer months, both of which are knit with our light and lofty 100% Certified Organic Cotton yarns.

The Garter Twist Tee by Kristen TenDyke is knit from the top down, making it easily customizable for the best possible fit. A breezy lace pattern near the bottom ensures wearability for the entire season and pairs nicely with the garter stitch sections. Knit with Skinny Cotton which is spun from 100% Certified Organic Cotton, this pretty tee is a must-make for spring!

The Lace-Yoke Top by Jeannie Chin features plenty of positive ease to ensure a comfortable fit. A flattering boatneck top is complemented by eyelet lace details which are also echoed near the bottom of the garment. This easy-wearing tee uses our 100% Certified Organic Cotton Worsted yarn worked at a larger gauge, shown above in #601 Poppy.

This June, we’ll be introducing 6 exciting new colors to our 100% Certified Organic Cotton Worsted palette. Make sure to follow our blog to stay updated!

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March 22, 2016

Designer Spotlight: Woodhouse Knits

Jennifer Wood of Woodhouse Knits has created some unique designs in Blue Sky Alpacas yarn over the years. Last December, the Evelyn cardigan pattern in Extra yarn caught our eye in particular; featuring interesting construction elements, the resulting cardigan is not only fun to knit, but flattering to wear as well. Jennifer shares her design process and some of her best sweater knitting tips with us in the following interview.

How did you learn to knit?
I have my daughter to thank for my learning to knit: when she was in middle school, she read The Witch of Blackbird Pond. The descriptions of colonial women knitting captivated her, and she begged me to teach her how to knit. So I bought a book, some needles and yarn, and we both learned how to knit together. I fell in love! Something about this age-old craft captivated me immediately and I have hardly put the needles down since then.

When did you begin to design your own patterns?
I started designing in 2009. At the time, I did not know how to knit sweaters, so I was doing mostly scarves and hats. I learned about sweater construction by reading books and playing with designs for them – it was definitely a trial and error process at first! Little did I know how much I would enjoy designing sweaters later down the road. I love to get an idea and then figure out how to make it work. It fascinates me.

Evelyn, knit in our Extra yarn, has some interesting design elements. How did you come up with this concept, and what was the process like to bring it to fruition?
I really like braided cables and wanted to do something interesting with them. So I thought, what would it be like to start out with a braided cable and have it move into single rope cables which form a pleat on the back of a garment? Since I knew I would be using Extra for this design, I decided that I wanted it to have more of a jacket feel to it. I added the reverse Stockinette to the top and a peter pan collar and made it form-fitting through the shoulders and lots of ease around the bottom, making it like a vintage swing jacket. Extra’s excellent drape was perfect for a swing coat! This is one of those designs that came together fairly quickly: what was in my head worked out quite nicely on the needles!

What are some of your best tips for knitting sweaters?
Definitely make swatches and block them. Making sure you have the correct gauge is crucial to fit. It also helps you know how your yarn will work for the stitch pattern in the design.

Pick a yarn that has the same qualities as the yarn used for the sample, especially for designs that have cable or lace details. If the sample yarn has good stitch definition, pick a yarn with good stitch definition. If calls for both good stitch definition and drape like Evelyn, pick a yarn that has both – I recommend a wool blend like Extra.

Know how you like your sweaters to fit your particular body type. For example, if you are making a sweater that has set-in sleeves like Evelyn, how it will fit you across the back is important. You can adjust the bust while working on the sweater, but the across back can not be adjusted once you begin the sweater. A good approach is to measure a sweater you have that fits you exactly the way you like it, a method you can also use to figure out other measurements such as arm hole depth, upper arm, neck circumference, etc. This will help you to get a better fit.

Use the schematic to help you determine what size to make. Again using Evelyn as an example, check the back measurements on the schematic and pick the size that best matches your desired measurement. Then, if some of the other measurements are different from what you need, you can usually adjust them along the way. If you are not sure how to do this, you can always contact the designer – most are more than happy to help.

Finally, enjoy the process! It’s incredibly fun to watch a sweater come together on your needles.

Jennifer Wood began Wood House Knits in 2009. Her designs unite classic and modern styling with beautifully detailed patterns for a contemporary romantic feel. Most are created with top down construction that is easily adjustable, making them wearable and elegant.

Refined Knits (Interweave, 2016), Jennifer’s first book, showcases 18 of her beautiful designs. She also sells patterns through Ravelry and her own website: woodhouseknits.com. For Jennifer, designing knitwear is a wonderful adventure, allowing her to express her creative impulses and drawing her closer to the Creator of all. The creative process—watching and feeling abstract ideas take on a tangible form—continues to amaze her.

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March 8, 2016

Blue Sky Alpacas Knits for Eddie

Recently, knitting made big headlines when the folks at Jimmy Beans Wool yarnbombed at the Sundance Film Festival to promote a new movie starring Hugh Jackman and Taron Edgerton called Eddie the Eagle – but it didn’t stop there! Eddie mania quickly swept the social media world as knitters everywhere shared photos and videos from the event, and continued to engage in Eddie antics such as this video of the film’s stars coaching two “stitching athletes” in a thirty-second knitting competition!

The Jimmy Beans crew designed two free patterns for fans to knit or crochet their own version of the Eddie hat, which was inspired by the actual sweater worn by Eddie’s mom. We decided to knit our own version using the free knitting pattern and a skein of our Certified Organic Worsted Cotton yarn in #614 Drift; using a size 7 needle, we knit the Adult size M.

After knitting the hat, we used duplicate stitch to add the E and the wings using small amounts of #619 Tomato, #632 Mediterranean, and #638 Dandelion and the chart below.

You can learn more about Eddie the Eagle and the #iknitforeddie contest here.

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February 23, 2016

Chic Knits

Simple stitches and luxe yarns are always a winning combination, and in Simple Chic Knits, there are plenty of knitworthy patterns that fit this description. Karen Miller and Susan Ritchie of the online yarn store Mrs Moon have collaborated to create this collection of beautifully simple modern knits; we’re pleased to share three of the must-make patterns featuring Blue Sky Alpacas yarns in this exciting new book.

Knit with Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Certified Organic Cotton yarn, the Checked Baby Blanket makes a sweet welcome gift for newborns. The deceptively simple stitch pattern is knit with three colors of yarn, shown here in #606 Shell, #608 Lemonade and #607 Lemongrass to create an heirloom-quality blanket with a modern twist.

The College Scarf can be knit in any color combination of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes to match any school or sports team colors you wish (shown here in #2013 Midnight Blue and #2026 Petunia). The simple garter stripes create a squishy fabric that’s perfect for warding off chills while cheering your team on from the stands.

Fans of quick knits will enjoy the Neck Ruff, which is worked in Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky yarn, shown here in #1002 Silver Mink. This big-stitch project is designed to keep your entire neck warm without sacrificing softness for next-to-skin wear!

Simple Chic Knits is available here on Amazon.
Click here to find your nearest Blue Sky Alpacas stockist.

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