February 17, 2015

Spotlight on Stitch Samplers

How do you know that you have the right yarn for the project you want to make? Swatching is a great way to test out a new-to-you technique or stitch pattern before tackling that larger project. Of course, it’s hard to know how a yarn will knit up before you make your purchase – and we doubt many knitters buy yarn just to knit a swatch! That’s where our website’s handy yarn swatch feature can save the day: we’ve already done the swatching for you!

By clicking the “stitch sampler” graphic underneath each yarn’s color palette, you’ll get to see a knitted swatch featuring stockinette, lace, cables, or other textured stitches using our yarns. In this example, our Bulky yarn is shown in trellis stitch, seed stitch and stockinette stitch on the recommended needle size, US 15 (10mm).

To give you an idea of how you can use this function to compare and contrast between yarns, here is the stitch sampler for one of our lighter-weight yarns, Metalico, which is a single-ply sport weight yarn. Shown here, it is knit in three different stitch patterns – a wide rib, a yarnover cable, and a delicate lace – at the recommended gauge on US #3 (3.25mm) needles:

Of course, you may choose to use a larger needle size to create an airy knit, or a smaller needle size to produce a close-knit fabric for added warmth; by being able to see how the yarn behaves when knit in the recommended conditions, this gives you a jumping-off point to start planning your next project, long before you head to the yarn store!

Click here to explore our world of yarn & view more stitch samplers at www.blueskyalpacas.com.

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February 3, 2015

Guest Blogger: Pam Powers

This week, we have a special treat for our readers: knitwear designer Pam Powers joins us to share two of her newest designs using Blue Sky Alpacas yarns. Pam has self-published many patterns over the years, and her recent work has focused mainly on accessories. Pam tells us that she especially enjoys the freedom of designing scarves because there are so many shapes and sizes to explore. We hope you enjoy Pam’s take on the modern handmade aesthetic in these exciting new designs!

When I initially started planning my book, Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves, I wanted some of the designs to have an ethereal or Bohemian look. My goal was to take traditional heavy knitted scarves and lighten them up with the use of design and color, so immediately I thought of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes color palette. Pastel colors can be a little tricky if you don’t want your garment to resemble baby knits. There needs to be a certain amount of saturation to the color, while still retaining lightness. Worsted Hand Dyes is also a yarn that has a good amount of heft to it, unlike baby yarns, but still retains a softness due to the royal alpaca and fine merino blend.

The two pieces from my book using Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes are Chantilly Ascot and Bow Tie Ascot. Both of these pieces have the pull-through ascot shaping which I think is a nice, flattering silhouette for a short scarf. You can keep the piece snug around your neck without the bulk of tying.

Chantilly Ascot
is a rather complex twisted-stitch lace pattern that I found in a Japanese stitch dictionary. Having the patterning only on the ends makes it a more manageable project. And I think this shade of blue, Lagoon, is just a beautiful robins egg blue that you don’t see very often in yarn.

Bow Tie Ascot
is from my existing pattern collection. I originally did a kids version of this scarf with fun colorwork, but then altered the shape, made it one color and added cables to make it more adult-like.

Light Pink is the perfect “ballerina pink”, so I naturally thought of my daughter Claire, who happens to be a ballerina, to model it.

The shape is similar to a men’s bow tie, so you don’t have to worry about tying it just right to keep the perfect bow shape.

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January 16, 2015

Design Your Own Yarn with HANDSPIN

We’re pleased to introduce HANDSPIN, a smooth and springy blend of 50% superfine alpaca and 50% wool roving that comes cleverly packed in an up-cycled burlap coffee bag.

Perfect for both spindle and wheel spinning, this soft and versatile fiber can be spun fine or chunky, or anything in between. Your finished skein will look lovely in its natural state, but DIY dyers will be delighted with how well this fiber takes color, too. Whether you choose to dye the un-spun fiber or your finished skein, you’ll sure to have a yarn that’s as unique as you are!

We source our coffee bags from Metropolis Coffee Company, located in the heart of Chicago. Metropolis (as the locals refer to it) specializes in small-batch artisan roasts, sourcing beans from Africa, South America, and Indonesia. They are one of the most respected roasters in the Chicagoland area, and their cafe is a destination for folks visiting the area. You may spot their beans making an appearance in a specialty beer from Lagunitas (their Coffee Stout) or find their beans in the aisles of Whole Foods.

Image of roasters ©Morgan Anderson

These large burlap bags would otherwise find their way to a landfill, but we’re thrilled to find a way to reuse them while also providing an eco-friendly way to package our newest product. We hope you’ll dream up more creative uses for these bags once their journey continues into your own craft room!

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December 22, 2014

Free Pattern: Extra Quick & Easy Scarf

Happy Holidays from all of us at Blue Sky Alpacas! Please enjoy our newest pattern, the Extra Quick & Easy Scarf, as our gift to you this holiday season.

Designed by Virginia Sattler-Reimer, this simple scarf can be knit with just one skein of EXTRA yarn. It’s a great choice for adventurous beginner knitters as well as intermediate and advanced crafters who are looking for a soothing project to cast on this winter.

Click here to download a free PDF on our website.

Click here to view pattern details on Ravelry.

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December 4, 2014

Pattern Inspiration: Nurturing Cardigan

Sweater season is our favorite time of year, and the chilly start to winter here in Minnesota has us thinking about all things sweater. From the warmest pullover to a versatile cardigan, it’s time to update that winter wardrobe! Kristen TenDyke’s upcoming book No-Sew Knits: 20 Flattering Finish-Free Garments is full of delightful sweater possibilities, and we’re quite smitten with the Nurturing Cardigan that’s knit with our organic Skinny Cotton yarn.

© Joe Hancock

This simple boxy sweater is perfect for layering, and it’s a cinch to knit, too: the body is worked in one piece straight up to the underarms. From there, the underarm stitches are bound off, then the back and fronts are worked separately to the shoulders where they are joined with a three-needle bind-off. There is no complex shaping in the body, making it easy to work a lace pattern (which can be easily interchanged with any of the stitch patterns used in the chapter). The possibilities for this sweater are endless!

We’re seeing some fantastic finished hats in our Bulky Hat KAL that’s happening now through December 15th in our Ravelry group! So far, our KAL participants are loving how quickly these hats knit up – and boy, are they warm! Make gifts for your entire family in a snap and you just might win our grand prize; for each hat you finish and post by December 15th, you’ll be entered in our drawing. Click here to join in the fun!

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