Blog Tour and Giveaway: Palette mini-collection

painted vivacious peacock 2

Thank you for passing us the baton Julie, Knitted Bliss.

Everyone loves hand dyed yarn. From the subtle shading of a semi-solid to the cacophony of variegated, there is something for everyone. You can find speckles and flecks of colour that will appear like sprinkles on your fabric, or longer blocks of colour that pool and shift and stripe together.

Heavily variegated yarns live very comfortably in the sock knitting realm, where the risk of unsightly pooling can be hidden in shoes. But the best think about handdyed yarns are the colours, and relegating them exclusively to feet isn’t always the place these handdyed yarns want to be. Especially now, in March, when the weather is still grey and spring is a promise not a reality, we want that colour to be visible. We want it around our necks and near our faces so that we can see it!

The trick is to find a pattern that works with the handdyed yarn to let all it’s crazy colours shine. Patterns such as cables or certain texture stitches get lost very easily in variegated yarns, the colour overwhelms and hides them. The texture needs to be allover enough that it doesn’t compete to much with the colour, but also knit in a way that disrupts the potential for pooling.

fresco blissful knits

Enter the Palette mini-collection from Inspiration Knits aka Louise Zass-Bangham. There are two patterns, Painted and Fresco. They each have the same structure and stitch pattern, but Painted is written for 100g of fingering weight, and Fresco is written for 300g of DK/light worsted. This means that there are endless possibilities for yarns to use! The allover texture of the vintage stitch pattern that Louise found in Mary Thomas’ Book of Stitch Patterns is a sort of faux-cable/braid, so it does an amazing job of breaking up colour.

In a variegated yarn the pattern allows the colours take centre stage, as seen below with Fresco knit in Tango by Blissful Knits. Wouldn’t it look great in Alegria sock yarn?

IMG_6658 - Version 2

Manos Alegria

We also love Painted it in Fyberspates Vivacious. Here the semi-solid nature allows the texture of the stitch to come forward instead. We are dreaming of it in the subtle shades of Fyberspates, or even Noro Tokonatsu?

painted vivacious peacock 1Fyberspates Vivacious

Noro Tokonatsu

Louise is running a KAL over on her blog that starts on April 1st. You can join in on her Ravelry group. The next stop on the blog tour is yarn dyer Miss Babs!

What yarn would you use for a Palette shawl or scarf? Let us know in the comments below and you’ll might get your hands on your very own Palette Collection. We’ll draw a random winner of this giveaway, who’ll receive a download code for the collection, next Friday April 2nd.

UPDATE – The winner of our Give Away is Michelle, you should find the download code for your copy of the Palette Mini Collection ebook in your inbox. Congratulations!

 

 

Ed’s Animals with TOFT

EM_FINALCOVER2.indd

When I saw these adorable crochet animals from TOFT I knew instinctively that they
would make a terrific addition to the shop – and a fun way to introduce people to
crochet! Even better, TOFT is a well-known UK company – regularly seen at yarn and
fibre shows around the country while they build their brand, but also remaining true to
their roots as a family-run business. And best of all, all of the yarns produced by TOFT are
done so in the UK and all are ecologically and ethically sound.

Kerry Lord, the founder of the TOFT Alpaca Shop yarn brand (and who grew up on the
TOFT Alpaca Stud Farm) took the time to answer some questions about going crochet
crazy with her collection of critters from Edward’s Menagerie.

blog3Let’s start with Edward’s Menagerie. They are such a cute collection! For people who aren’t aware or haven’t got your book, tell us how this project came about.
In August 2012 I left TOFT on my pregnancy due date to go on maternity leave. Instantly
driven insane by not being at work I decided I would learn to crochet. Following
mastering the double crochet stitch from a you-tube video an elephant flew off my
hook, and then dozens of other animals joined it with a couple of weeks. The rest is
history.blog4

Being self-taught, what was the process like for you learning to crochet and learning to crochet animals? How is amigurumi different from crocheting garments?
I have not, and maybe never will crochet a garment. In fact other than one crochet
blanket and a couple of hats, it’s only ever been animals!
What has been your experience introducing people to crochet (and to lovely TOFT
yarns!) by teaching them how to make an animal?
It is a perfect way to start. The fact that the whole collection only uses the double
crochet stitch makes it very approachable to knitters and total craft newbies. Every
animal is just a series of increasing and decreasing using a single stitch.
The animals were born of TOFT yarn, rather than being selected having already made an
animal. I think the Edward’s Menagerie are the patterns I’ve been waiting to write since
I first spun a batch of TOFT yarn back in 2006. The collection plays perfectly to the
natural colour palate and the resulting soft and supple fabric or down to the quality of
the yarn.blog1

We’re not supposed to have favourite babies, but do you have a favourite of the
animals you’ve made? Does Ed have a favourite?
My favourite changes every week and alters every time I see a new animal on the
#edsanimals hashtag in a colourway I have not seen before. The lovely thing about the
natural colour range and this collection is that they are all interchangeable and make
perfect substitutes. Some day Ed will own Piotr the bear in all ten colours!
We have a Siegfried the monkey that has travelled the world with us over the last two
and a half years.blog6

Tell us more about TOFT and the yarns.
TOFT yarns are manufactured from only the finest fleeces. We hunt for the softest fibres
and are dedicated to top quality spinning here in the UK. When you make one of our
animals in TOFT yarn it is the kind of quality product that will only ever get better with
love. When made in the lush TOFT wool or alpaca yarns, these are truly heirloom pieces.
Your role at TOFT sounds incredibly exciting! How do come up with new ideas for the
yarns and the company itself to keep things fresh for makers?
With a lot of hard work and a very flexible attitude. I have thoroughly loved the last nine
years building TOFT into what it is today and I think the key to our success is keeping an
open mind and surrounding myself with equally creative people.

blog7Anything else you’d like to share about TOFT or the Edward’s Menagerie collection?
Share with us what you make by tagging photos of them on social media with the
hashtag #edsanimals and tweet to us at @ToftAlpacaShop so we can share them with
our fans too!

Thanks so much to Kerry for taking the time to chat with us. If you’d like to try your hand
at crocheting one of the TOFT animals, we now have the book and bunny kits in stock! Or if knitting is more your thing, we also have kits for the TOFT Slouchy Rib Beret or the TOFT
Beginner Snood. We will also be running a class on May 16th with Sanna King, our resident crochet master, to learn how to make the animals in this book! Check out our class list for more information.blog5

Summer Top KAL 2015

Spring and summer can be a difficult time for a knitter. The warm layers are begging to be thrown off and toes long to be free from wooly socks. In general, the inspiration or knitting mojo can fade in the face of longer days. Luckily for you, we’ve got just the ticket to keep your needles clicking all through the year. We are happy to announce the first KWA Spring/Summer Top KAL!

While the winter jumper certainly owns the lion’s share of knitting patterns, there are loads of really inspiring and (most importantly) wearable knitting and crochet patterns that are perfect for warmer temperatures. We have it a bit easier here in the UK as winter isn’t terribly well known for getting very hot, which means that lots of patterns are wearable in the evenings and cooler days all year round. But there are also lots of customers will travel to warmer climates for their holidays, or maybe they are lucky enough to live there year round! We have been pinning loads of breezy knits onto our Summer KAL board. (https://www.pinterest.com/mayaknits/kwa-summer-knit-a-long/) We have everything from linen sleeveless tops to wear on their own to lightweight wool blend cardigans that are perfect for layering.

Summer Top KAL 2015

The rules of the KAL are:

1. Cast-on will be March 20, the first day of spring! If you have a summery WIP that you would like to finish, they will be counted as well.
2. Cast off will be June 21, the first day of summer, just in time to wear our new creations over the summer.
3. Use any KWA yarn to knit something summery. We are focusing on tops, but feel free to branch out into some wraps.
4. Tops and sweaters for children are totally allowed. You don’t have to knit for yourself, though we would never argue against knitting something special just for you!
5. Post your finished projects on our KAL board on Ravelry to enter for prizes! You can chat about your current projects in our general Ravelry board. Feel free to tag any posts on other social media sites with #KWAKAL to keep us posted on your progress.
6. Did we say prizes? We did! We will randomly draw winners for some excellent prizes at the end of the KAL. The grand prize is £100 for you to spend at Knit with attitude, there will also be runner ups and a whole lot of goodies to be won. Keep your eye on our social media to be updated as new prizes are added.

We will be back with regular features leading up to the KAL and during it talking about yarns and techniques, as well as what we are knitting ourselves.

What are your summer knitting plans? We would love to hear what projects and yarns you are planning on using, in the comments below and on Ravelry.

Spring – inspirations and ideas

Spring is beginning to show it’s face here in London. The flowers are starting to bloom, crocus and daffodils, and the trees are just starting to bud. Here in the shop we’ve got all sorts of new yarns and patterns to inspire your needles for the warmer months!

First up is an expansion of the cotton yarn from Debbie Bliss, Eco Baby, now in Eco Baby Prints! There are 6 different variegated colourways, ranging from bright to muted. These yarns will work well for a range of projects, and are certainly not limited to the under 5 set!

We do have the accompanying Eco Baby Prints book of patterns, which features yarns from both the Prints and Solids range of colours. There are twelve patterns for an age range of 3 months to 6 years. With the exception of a few dresses, the patterns are gender neutral. The classic shapes will work well on all kids for years to come.

Pleat Neck Top in Eco Baby Prints

Pleat Neck Top in Eco Baby Prints

We’ve got another great cotton line in as well, this time from Louisa Harding. Azalea is a DK weight 100% cotton. All of the colours are delightfully speckled, creating a variegated yarn that is still quite subtle. We can’t wait to see it knit up!

The Azalea pattern book is full of 9 romantic, feminine summer pieces. Tops, shawls and sweaters all feature lace edgings, bell sleeves and ribbon accents that feel like they are straight out of a faerie world! The soft colour variations work perfectly with this mood.

Gobi Top in Azalea

Gobi Top in Azalea

Also from Louisa Harding, we have the Cassia Children’s Collection, another book of twelve knitting patterns for children aged 1 to 5. This booklet features Cassia, a DK weight 100% superwash wool. This is a great yarn for hardworking kids (and their parents!) as it comes in a full range of bright colours, and is easy care as well. The strong possible colour combinations are highlighted in the book, with many of the projects calling for stripes or colour blocking.

Prince Jumper in Cassia

Prince Jumper in Cassia

Returning to adult knits, we have a new yarn and collection in from Noro! This new yarn from the Japanese company does not disappoint. We have 8 solid shades of Noro Tokonatsu, a 40% Cotton/30% Silk/30% Viscose. We love Noro because we know that they are directly involved with every step of their manufacturing process, from farm to knitting needles.The accompanying Jewels Pattern Collection has a range of garments and accessories that would all be perfect for the transition from cooler to warmer temperatures.

Noro Jewels Collection featuring Tokonatsu

Noro Jewels Collection featuring Tokonatsu

What’s on your summer knitting wish list? Keep them in mind, we’ve got a big announcement about a summer KAL* coming for you in the next few days!

*Knit Along