Ode to Berroco Noble

Category: Rockland Maine Yarn Shop

A haiku for Berroco Noble, our new super bulky yarn:

Fluffy as a cloud

Even softer than cashmere

Get on my needles.

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© Berroco, Inc.

You had no idea I was such a poet, did you?

But seriously, this yarn is divine. I fell in love at first touch, and I encourage all of you to come in and feel it for yourselves. Each skein is 98 glorious yards of 98% extrafine merino/2% nylon. Noble is the ultimate in cozy, the companion you want to have with you through brisk fall days and icy winter nights. (Noble never has freezing-cold feet in bed, you guys.) With a gauge of 2 stitches per inch on a #17 needle, this is instant-gratification, quick-knit yarn at its best. It’s light, lofty, and just plain lovely.

 

 

 

It’s no secret that Over The Rainbow Yarn loves Berroco. There’s good reason for that: they consistently create quality products, and they have excellent pattern support. They’ve brought out a pattern booklet to go with Noble, and because they love us back, they have also made each of the patterns available online through your local yarn shop (Hey, that’s us!). They even sent us a sample garment, which I kidnapped borrowed yesterday in order to survive the frigid air conditioning.

I think the first item I want to make for myself is Coffeehouse. Yummmm….

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© Berroco, Inc.

 

 

 

The Best Beginner Knitting Pattern

Category: Rockland Maine Yarn Shop

Lauren_Beginner_Scarf

This is a photograph of my very first knitting project.

New knitters often wonder what to make that will suit their skill level, but also engage their interest. In my opinion, the best beginner pattern is one that teaches and reinforces basic skills. It’s one that uses the fundamentals to their fullest effect, to make something that’s attractive and wearable, that an advanced knitter might want to make, but that a beginner knitter could make. Something that has a high knit-to-glory ratio.

If you haven’t heard of the knit-to-glory ratio, it’s the amount of effort required to knit the piece relative to how impressive the finished object looks. For instance, socks knit in a self-striping yarn have a high knit-to-glory ratio because it looks like you combined all kinds of yarns into one tiny project. The Garter Trap has been an ever-popular pattern for us because it uses a long-repeat self-striping sock yarn combined with a solid yarn in an incredibly simple way: you just switch back-and-forth between the striping yarn and the solid yarn every other row, without ever cutting your yarn. In the end, it looks like you’re a colorwork master (but really a beginner could do it).

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When you search for “basketweave scarf” on Ravelry…

So, I’m going to make a declaration. The Basketweave Scarf is the best beginner knitting pattern. After you spend a few minutes learning the knit stitch and the purl stitch, a basketweave scarf should be your very first knitting project. Many new knitters arrive at this pattern all on their own, because it’s practically self-evident that it’s the best beginner pattern. The fact that there are 152 hits when you search for “basketweave scarf” on Ravelry should say something… not only have at least 152 thought this pattern up, written it down and deemed it worthy of publication on Ravelry– 152 pattern designers on Ravelry have thought to name this pattern “basketweave scarf”. Call it what you will. The value is in the stitches.

It lays flat without edge treatments. Your gauge doesn’t really matter. It works at any width, or any length. The pattern consists of squares or rectangles which can be knit at any size or proportion. One could even change the proportions mid-way through. It’s infinitely variable. And most importantly, this pattern is bound to teach you to recognize the difference between knits and purls. The ability to read your knitting is vital to becoming a confident and competent knitter.

Here’s my official example of the Basketweave Scarf pattern:

Lauren’s Basketweave Scarf

Cast on 30 stitches.

Row 1-5: (knit 5, purl 5) 3 times

Row 6-10: (purl 5, knit 5) 3 times

While you’re knitting, stop and notice how your knit stitches look like a V at the base of the stitch, and your purl stitches look like a little bump. Flip your work back and forth and observe that the V (knit) stitches look like bump (purl) stitches on the back side. Think about the fact that the last 5 stitches of the row are purled, and then you flip your work over and knit across those same 5 stitches because in fact they are knit stitches on the back side. For 5 rows, you’re just knitting when it looks like a knit stitch, and purling when it looks like a purl stitch. When you get to row 6, you’re just purling the knits and knitting the purls. Try carrying on without looking at the pattern for a while, because you can see what to do by reading your knitting.

Repeat Rows 1-10 indefinitely, then bind off.

Pat yourself on the back because you’re well on your way to knitting mastery.

 

In Search of Inspiration for Baby Projects

Category: Rockland Maine Yarn Shop

I have a printed copy of an internet meme hanging on my whiteboard above my desk at work, and another copy stuck to my fridge at home. On days when I’m struggling with procrastination, or mornings when I’m feeling sluggish and uninspired, it gives me a boost. What is this magical motivational poster, you ask? Well, it looks like this:

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Now you know what gets me moving. It came from the internet. The fact that the shark hat is crocheted makes it even better, because I know that someone out there took the time to make a shark hat for their kitty (or sure, for a baby, but let’s be honest, cats in hats are pretty amazing).

This weekend, I definitely felt like a powerful Great White Shark — I finally finished repairing Brooks’ dad’s sweater! I wound in the final ends, checked everything over, and packaged it up. Success! An item checked off the knit list! Fellow crafters, you know the satisfaction I felt when I officially declared it done. Is there any better feeling?

Now I get to cast on my capelet figure out what to make for a baby that is due in early September. I want it to be something fun but also practical, because this is a Maine baby. With that in mind, this is one of the potential items:

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© Pam Allen

 

Is this not one of the cutest things you’ve ever seen? Possibly even cuter than a cat wearing a shark hat? This is the Baby Duck Booties pattern from Quince & Co., and it makes me want to just squeal with delight. The toddler size (which I would have to make, because I knit slowly and babies grow so quickly) uses Chickadee, a sport weight yarn. I think I’d change up the color of the sole, because white would get dirty really quickly, but we’ve got plenty of colors to choose from in the store. I have also pondered trying to size this up to make a cozy pair of slippers for myself, perhaps using plushy, aran weight Osprey. (Non-slip paint or a suede sole would be a necessary safety feature.)

 

 

 

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© Espace Tricot

I’ve also considered a blanket for the heirloom factor, and because the sizing is less crucial (ditto for the gauge — score!). But there are so. many. baby blankets out there. Ravelry offered me 168 PAGES of knitted blanket patterns when I searched. After enjoying working on the ZickZack Scarf, I’m tempted to tackle the Chevron Baby Blanket by Espace Tricot, though probably in Berroco Vintage instead of cotton, because this is a fall/winter baby. However, if I continue procrastinating on this project, I may end up needing to choose Softcotton Chunky for a quick knit summer blankie!

 

 

 

 

Of course, there’s always the sweater option. I think I’ve already mentioned that I love designs by Tin Can Knits, and they don’t make it easy to choose. I’m torn between two patterns: Old Growth and Goldfish. Which one do you prefer?

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© Tin Can Knits

 

This is Old Growth, and I love the off-center buttons and fun tree motif. It’s classic, elegant, and seamless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© Tin Can Knits

 

And this is Goldfish — adorable, fun, quirky, and also seamless. With a slightly tonal yarn for the main color… this could be the one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think, readers? Booties, blanket, or sweater? What’s your go-to item to knit when someone is expecting? As soon as I have a pattern, I’ve got to channel my inner shark and attack the project!