Yarn shop samples are important. It’s often hard to tell how a yarn will look and feel when knit up when you first encounter it in skein-form. Does it really knit to the gauge on the label? How fuzzy will it become? How will it drape? How will the colors pool? How wide will the stripes appear? Most of the time, words are inadequate. When it comes to yarn, you have to hold it in your own hands.
And the same goes for knitting patterns – clear photographs are helpful, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a physical object is surely worth a million. We’d all rather feel like we’re not stabbing in the dark when it comes to committing to a knitting project.
Yarn shop samples to the rescue! We do our very best to show off as many of our yarns as possible with knit-up examples on display in the shop. We invite you to hold them in your hands, try them on (we have a full-length mirror for your convenience), check them out in different lighting situations, toss them around, or whatever helps and inspires you to knit with confidence. If you ever find a shop sample that you like, we will put the yarn and pattern in your hands. Yarn shop samples are good for showing off the latest knitting world trends and helping you think outside the box. Why limit yourself when there’s inspiration all around?
So, I’ve been on a quest to furnish the shop with new samples lately. I’ve been banging out small projects that you could easily finish in a few days (hello holiday gift ideas!). Here are the newest shop samples you’ll find at Over the Rainbow Yarn. Come on in and touch them any time!
Thanks to Catherine for modeling these ones! I knit the Zig Zag Cowl in Gina Chunky and Jennifer knit the coordinating Zig Zag Hat in Chunky Merino Superwash. I loved seeing how the Gina Chunky works up in delightfully irregular stripes with numerous colors swirled throughout. This pattern is so clever, too. The zig-zags are formed by wrapping the yarn around the needle twice to make an extra-tall stitch, then slipping the stitch for several rows.
I just whipped this one up last night after it was recommended by our Euro Yarns sales rep (yep, it’s a quickie). It’s basically my favorite crochet stitch – the linen stitch! It’s worked in alternating colors of Cairns, a cotton/acrylic yarn with an unusual structure and many colors. The pattern is incredibly easy to adapt for anyone who’d like to have a longer, shorter, wider or narrower cowl! If you don’t know how to crochet yet, it might be worth learning in order to make this cowl.
It’s the biggest, the squishiest, the coziest cowl ever! I made the Clayton Cowl out of Ushya (merino wool) and Paqu Pura (alpaca fiber). This cowl combines a super-bulky yarn and a sport-weight yarn in a really cool way. It’s basically garter stitch, except you knit every other stitch in the row below, which has the effect of creating an unbelievably fluffy texture and wrapping the two yarns around one another in a very unusual-looking way. No one will know how you made it unless you tell them.
Sometimes it’s all about the pom pom! I knit the Swirled Ski Cap in Classic Shades. I used about half the skein for the hat and the other half for the pom pom. I knit the child size, but the pattern includes an adult size as well. This pattern is so much fun, and reminds me of soft-serve ice cream! The pattern suggests a 2-color option with the stockinette parts in one color and the reverse-stockinette parts in another. Oh, the possibilities!
Gloves are one of those things that knitters often avoid, out of habit or out of fear. All those fiddly little fingers can be intimidating. I think the fear of fingers accounts for some of the popularity of fingerless mitts. (Don’t get me wrong; fingerless mitts are awesome.)
Anyway, the fingerless mitts that I knit myself a few weeks back inspired me to finally embark upon a glove-knitting adventure (everything in life should be an adventure) so that I could wear the two as a set, suitable for the cold winter days that are due to arrive any day now.
I’m a sucker for luxury fibers, and the 100% baby alpaca Herriot called out to me the moment it crossed my mind to knit a pair of gloves. It even comes in a rich, golden hue that perfectly complements the navy I used for the fingerless mitts. It would make a fine replacement for the tragically lost pair of cashmere gloves that I purchased at a thrift shop last winter. Baby alpaca is one of the softest fibers you’ll ever touch and also one of the warmest, much like cashmere.
As it turns out, making gloves is easy – in fact, making perfectly fitting gloves is easy! Let me tell you how.
First, pick a yarn and needles, either make a gauge swatch or make an educated guess about the number of stitches that will fit snugly around your wrist, and cast on. I picked a DK-weight yarn and US 2 needles because I wanted the fabric to be dense. I cast on 48 stitches, then realized that it was coming out a bit large and did some decreases to get down to 40 stitches. As a result, it flares a little bit just like my arm does. Happy coincidence!
The trick is to try it on over and over again. Just try it on constantly without removing the needles.
Knit ribbing for a while, then make a thumb gusset. A thumb gusset consists of paired decreases lined up on top of each other on one side of the glove. If you’ve ever knit a mitten, then you know how to make a thumb gusset. I found placing the increases every four rows made the glove flare out at about the same rate as my thumb does, but again, just try it on and adjust accordingly. (Admittedly, I tried increasing every three rows at first, and it sagged just a little).
The thumb stitches hang out on some scrap yarn while you knit the palm up higher, then the pinkie hangs out on some scrap yarn while you knit the rest of the hand up a touch higher. Just look at your hand and you’ll probably notice that the base of the pinkie is lower than the base of the other three fingers.
Make a diagram like this. Make the stitches around the edge match the total number on your needle and add 2-4 as a bridge from the front to the back. (I recently learned these are called fourchette stitches!)
My diagram actually looked like this. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered to get up and find a proper piece of paper.
At some point, you’ll probably have to map out an action plan for allocating the stitches on your needle across the four fingers. I won’t blame you if you scribble it out on a scrap of paper towel. You just have to decide how many stitches to put onto stitch holders.
Then, put all the stitches except for those to be used for the index finger on some scrap yarn. Cast on some stitches to bridge the gap from front-to-back and accommodate the depth of your finger. Knit five little tubes. Don’t forget to try it on constantly to make sure it’s all working out. Trying it on is how you figure out when to stop knitting and cinch up the top of each finger!
I am pleased as punch with my new gloves – you should give it a try! Who needs a pattern when you’ve got a hand, anyway?
Doesn’t it look great with the fingerless mitt on top?
Who doesn’t love a good alliteration like “WIP Wednesday”? WIP stands for “work in progress”, and this is one of those social media holidays, like Throwback Thursday. It’s a good day to be a crafter, and share your work with the world.
Today, I’m working on this hat and matching mitts. I’m just about done with this project – all I’ve got left is one measly thumb to knit, a few ends to weave in, and a pretty little bow to complete the left mitt. In my world, pretty much everything needs a pretty little bow.
I’m always dreaming of ways to combine colors and textures in yarn. It feels more like painting when you mix materials together. These two blues in Berroco Noble and Quince & Co. Lark happened to spark my imagination last Friday as I was on my way out the door. It’s funny how inspiration strikes.
I made a similar hat a while back, but it was a bit small. It didn’t quite cover my ears. I’ve been itching to perfect it for some time (these yarns are heavenly-soft and not at all itchy, just to be clear), and I intend to write down a pattern for these gems in the near future. It’s been satisfyingly quick and easy. It’s the sort of project you might like to whip up while taking a break from a larger one.
And while we’re on the subject of acronyms like WIP, may I share a few other yarn-related acronyms that you should all love and use? We use a lot of abbreviations in our knitting and crocheting patterns, but these ones go beyond the stitches.
LYS: Local Yarn Store
KAL / CAL: Knit-Along / Crochet-Along
KIP / CIP: Knitting in Public / Crocheting in Public
HOTN / HOTH: Hot Off the Needles / Hot Off the Hook
UFO / FO: Unfinished Object / Finished Object
BFL: Blue-Faced Leicester, a breed of sheep
WPI: Wraps Per Inch, a measurement of yarn weight
EZ: Elizabeth Zimmerman, a revolutionary and beloved knitting designer and teacher
That’s all, folks! What are you working on this WIP Wednesday?