Summer Top KAL Prizes Update

We have loved seeing your posts about what you are working on for the Summer Top KAL! We’ve seen some great projects started, we are looking forward to sharing some of them with you soon. Be sure to post progress pictures and get in the conversation on our Ravelry group.

We have contacted some of our favourite suppliers that we carry at the shop, and we are happy to announce some further additions to the prize pot!

Alexa and Emily of Tin Can Knits have graciously donated a number of patterns from across their range. We have their patterns in the shop and absolutely love them. They have a great range of sizes across all ages, so no one gets left out of the fun. They have just announced a new pattern collection featuring kids (and a few adult) patterns, we can’t wait to see the designs.

MB-playdate-01a

Tin Can Knits – The Max and Bodhi’s Wardrobe

They have donated three separate prizes for our KAL:
1. An e-copy of their newest collection ‘Max and Bodhi’s Wardrobe’
2. Winner’s choice of one of Tin Can Knits’ ebooks (9 Months of Knitting, Pacific Knits, Great White North, Handmade in the UK, Road Trip, Max and Bodhi’s Wardrobe)
3. An ecopy of a Tin Can Knits pattern of choice (must be published by Tin Can Knits)

TCK-raindrops

Tin Can Knits – Raindrop

There are so many to choose from! Which is your favourite?

Pom Pom Quarterly are another favourite of ours. They have donated a brand new copy of their summer issue and one of their rad tote bags. We would show you a picture of it, but it hasn’t been published yet! This is another collection of patterns that we are looking forward to, and it is sure to include lots of warm weather knitting inspiration to carry your knitting through the summer months.

Pom_Pom_Tote_featured_image-375x500

Pom Pom Tote

The Fibre Co has been so generous to donate one skein in their fabulous fibre blend Meadow in the colour Fennel, this yummy yarn is a mix of Merino wool, Baby Llama, Silk and Linen. Not only this, the winner of this prize will also get their hands on a digital Fibre Co pattern of their choice!

The Fibre Co Meadow - Fennel

The Fibre Co Meadow – Fennel

Fyberspates has also contributed to the pile of prizes, one lucky winner will receive one of their single patterns!

Challow by Fyberspates

Challow by Fyberspates

And in case you finished projects need some TLC, Soak Wash has been so generous to contribute with a large 375ml bottle of Soak Wash Yuzu.

Soak Wash Yuzu

Soak Wash Yuzu

Now all you have to do is get your summer knitting happening! You’ll find all details about the KAL over at the Summer Top KAL page!

Fibre Fridays: Linen

This week’s fibre feature is linen. Linen has been used as fabric for thousands of years. Some of the oldest fabrics found were made of linen, dating back to 2,000 BC in Egypt.

Linen is a fantastic hot weather fibre. It is cool to the touch and breathes very well, keeping the wearer protected from the hot sun without over heating. Linen is unique in being one of the few fibres that is stronger when it is wet, making it a very durable fabric.

Linen comes from a plant called flax. Unlike cotton, where the fibre comes from a pod that the plant produces, linen is made from the inner stalk. This type of fibre is called a bast fibre. Other bast fibres include nettle, hemp and rattan. The plant is grown to a height of about 4 feet. When it is ready, the plants are pulled up from the roots and left to decompose in a process called retting. This unbinds the unwanted outer bark from the inner bark that makes the fibre. The two types of bark are separated by big metal rollers in a process called scutching. The fibre lengths are combed to find the longest fibres which are then spun into thread or yarn. It is easy to see how linen production is labour intensive. The highest quality linen is produced in Western Europe and the Ukraine, with the best coming from Ireland, Italy and Belgium. Part of this is due to the ideal climates in these regions for growing the plants. We found two amazing documentaries that show the process of producing linen in Europe. They are in French, but with English subtitles. The first is about linen production and farming, while the second highlights the innovations that are being made in linen and flax being used in less traditional production.

BE LINEN MOVIE from Benoit MILLOT on Vimeo.

BE LINEN MOVIE 2 from Benoit MILLOT on Vimeo.

We have lots of linen and linen blends in the shop that would work well for a summer top. Rowan Pure Linen is made in Italy and comes in a great range of 8 muted colours.

Kilda - from Rowan The Pure Linen Collection

Kilda – from Rowan The Pure Linen Collection

Also from Rowan we have Silkystones, a 48% linen, 52% silk blend. For our Summer Top KAL, Maya is currently knitting Hane out of this yarn and it is turning out beautifully!

River - Rowan Silkystones Collection

River – Rowan Silkystones Collection

Maya's Hane in progress

Maya’s Hane in progress

We love our linens so much, and we want you to love them as well, which is why we are offering a discount on Artesano’s Linen Silk DK for you! Regularly £7.95, it is now £5! This linen, wool and silk blend has great texture from the linen, drape from the silk and a bit of bounce from the wool. It comes in 8 subtly variegated shades.

Artesano Linen Silk

Artesano Linen Silk

Last but not least we have a brand new yarn to tell you about. We have just received our first shipment from The Fibre Co. We have 6 fantastic shades of Meadow. The Fibre Co. is known for their unusual blends of fibres to create unique yarns. Meadow is 40% Merino Wool, 25% Baby Llama, 20% Silk and 15% Linen. This heavy laceweight has amazing drape with a subtle texture. With 545 yards per skein, you can do a lot of knitting with just one or two balls. We don’t have the patterns available online yet, but they are available in-store.

Hidalgo - Meadow pattern available in store

Hidalgo – Meadow pattern available in store

The Fibre Co. Meadow

The Fibre Co. Meadow

Repost: Susan Crawford – Looking Back and Looking ahead

What is there to say about Susan Crawford? She is in no need of an introduction, as her name is well known both within knitting, vintage and the fashion scene.

Susan CrawfordVintage fashion and craft magazines from the 1930s to the 1950s has long been an obsession for her and this fascination is very clear in her bespoke designs. She is the author behind several publications on vintage knitting amongst them the Stitch in Time Vol 1 and Vol 2. At Knit with attitude we are over the moon thrilled about having Susan visiting us Saturday April 25th!

Repost from Susan Crawdord’s blog Just Call me Ruby April 9th 2015:

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Looking Back and Looking ahead

The lovely Maya at Knit With Attitude in Stoke Newington, has long been a stockist and supporter of all things Susan Crawford Vintage. In fact, when I announced the pre orders for for the republication of A Stitch in Time volume 1,  Maya was one of the first retailers to get in touch and pre order the book.

Many emails have passed forwards and back but we have never managed to meet. However, on Saturday 25th April I will be presenting a talk at the shop, “Looking Back and Looking Ahead”. The talk begins at 1pm and is completely free, although booking is required as space is limited.

So what is the talk all about?

I will be looking at my career to date paying particular attention to the long life of A Stitch in Time volume 1 – now in its 7th year of publication. I will have a selection of samples, old and new, for people to look at and try on and I will also explain how I have approached the recreation of these garments.

Then we will be looking ahead to the forthcoming publication of The Vintage Shetland Project which in collaboration with The Shetland Museum, has taken over three years to date and will finally be published in October of this year. I will have with me a small and very secret selection of some of the items being knitted for the book and I will share an insight into the work that’s gone and is still going, into the project.

There will then be a general Susan Crawford Vintage trunk show celebrating the introduction of Fenella to the Knit With Attitude range of Susan Crawford yarns.


I hope to see some of you there!

for now,
Susan xx

 

Fibre Fridays: Silk

We are writing these fibre posts in relation to our summer KAL, so silk is an obvious choice. Cool in the heat, warm in the cold, silk is a perfect summer fabric. Silk has amazing drape, which makes it perfect for loose tops and shawls. The structure of the fibre has very little elasticity, which means that it doesn’t bounce back to it’s original shape very well. This gives it fantastic drape for loose tops, but it is less appropriate for a figure hugging ribbed sweater as it will become less figure hugging over time. For this reason silk is often blended with other fibres to get the best of both worlds. A wool silk blend will have much of the natural elasticity of wool, with all the sheen and intense colour of silk.

For the summer KAL Natalie is working on the Fieldwork Cardigan, she chose to make it in Fyberspates Scrumptious 4Ply, a gorgeous merino silk blend perfect for this project.

Fieldwork Cardigan - Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 5

Fieldwork Cardigan – Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 5

So we know that we like knitting with silk, but how is it made? We won’t lie to you, silk is a contentious issue. There is no perfect silk solution, but we want to give you some facts about different kinds of silk so that you can make your own decision.

All silk comes from silk worms, or the caterpillar from a silk moth. Most silk comes from the Bombyx Mori variety. In simple terms the silk worm is hatched, then it eats a lot and grows for about a month. When it has reached it’s full size, which can be about a thousand times it’s hatched size, it spins a cocoon. The cocoon is harvested and turned into silk. The contentious issue is what happens to the silk worm in this harvesting process.

The first thing to know is that the Bombyx Mori silk worm has been domesticated for silk production since 2600 BC. That’s almost 5000 years. While there are a few breeds of silk worms that can be found in the wild, the Bombyx Mori is not. It is completely dependant on people for survival, and pretty much exist solely to produce silk. They are blind, can’t fly very well and some varieties don’t really have mouths as adult moths. The life span of an adult moth is about 5 days, in which span they lay an average of 500 eggs and then die.

Mulberry silk, such as the Indochine Yarn by Lantern Moon, is harvested after the developing chrysalis is ‘stifled’ before it can mature and hatch out of the cocoon. This process of killing the moth is done with heat by either boiling the cocoons or placing them in an oven. The thread of the cocoon can then be reeled off in one continuous thread, which is usually around 6m long! This incredibly long staple length is one of the reasons that mulberry silk has such a high shine and strength. Some of the moths are allowed to live so that they can hatch eggs for the next harvest.

Lantern Moon Indochine

Lantern Moon Indochine – 100% Mulberry Silk

Tussah and noil silk, such as Hokkaido, is harvested after the moths hatch. The moth secretes a solution that dissolves a small hole in the cocoon so that it can climb out. The impact on the cocoon means that that 6m long thread has been cut up into much smaller pieces. This means that the resulting fibre has less shine and lustre than mulberry silk. These smaller pieces are spun together to create the fibre in a similar way to how wool is spun. This process is often referred to as Ahima or peace silk, as the process does not directly involve killing silk moths. However, we want to identify all the sides of the silk production, and the truth is that the silk moths die in this method as well. Since more moths reach adulthood, there are more eggs laid and more worms hatched. Since this method creates significantly more worms that than can be fed or cared for, the surplus worms are left to starve, or are sold at market for humans to eat. Also, due to the general dependance on humans and their short life span, the adult moths are not released into the wild to live happy little moth lives.

Now, this is all starting to sound really depressing! So why use silk at all? Well, at the end of the day, silk moths are bugs, and bugs have a life span and they do die, one way or the other. If you are looking into the ethics of silk, the question between the two methods is not which method kills moths, but which method are you more comfortable with? There is the controlled population method of mulberry silk where exactly the number needed are hatched and then quickly killed, or the over population of tussah silk, where the unneeded adult and moths are discarded after the process.

DesignEtte Shikoku - 100% Raw Silk

DesignEtte Shikoku – 100% Raw Silk

What’s a knitter to do? We’ve added a few other factors into the equation to help us with the silks we carry. Lantern Moon creates their Indochine silk yarn and silk bags in partnership with local communities in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bali using traditional techniques that are passed down through the generations.

DesignEtte makes their natural fibre yarns in countries that support regulation and ethical labour laws.

Noro Kibou - Cotton, wool and silk blend

Noro Kibou – Cotton, wool and silk blend

Noro works very hard to maintain a production process that is as eco-friendly as possible. All their animal fibres come from organic farms, and they are directly involved in the dyeing and spinning to ensure as little waste as possible while still creating a luxury process that lasts.

Du Store Alpakka’s Fin is a luxurious silk and alpaca blend. Du Store Alpakka is a major supporter of the Mirasol project, which supports the education of the families of the shepherds that raise the alpacas in Peru.

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Du Store Alpakka Fin – Alpaca silk blend

Similarly, Fyberspates works directly with all of their production process to ensure high employment and environmental standards with all of their yarns. We love the colours in their wool/silk blend range, Scrumptious.

Here at Knit with attitude, our biggest goal is to provide ethical and environmentally friendly knitting options that are also beautiful to knit with and wear. The key word in there is options. We do our best to do our research into the companies that we work with, but we want to provide our customers and readers with the information that they need to make their own informed choices, because a lot of the time it isn’t as easy as this yarn good, that yarn bad. We also have a range of customers who have made up their own minds in terms of what they need from their yarn and from their knitting.

The truth is that unless you are growing your own fibre, right from the start, there is no perfect yarn. An organic, fair trade cotton is pretty perfect in some ways; environmentally friendly to grow, ethically produced and animal cruelty free is great! But none of these yarns are produced in the UK, as cotton doesn’t like our cool, damp climate, so they all have to be shipped, which has it’s own carbon emissions. Some companies have all the right practices but aren’t certified organic or fair trade because they are small producers that can’t afford the expensive process to become certified. For some people local is more important than organic, for others the ethics are most important, and for some the environment and ethics are a bonus for a beautiful skein of yarn. We aren’t here to make that choice for you.

Fyberspates Scrumptious - Merino silk blends

Fyberspates Scrumptious – Merino silk blends

There are a lot of things to take into consideration for environmentally friendly shopping, from food to fibre. We just hope that we can provide you with some more information to help you make your own informed choice, and we are always looking out for more information and discussion ourselves and for our customers. If you have any concerns about the way a certain yarn is made, just ask!

It’s All About Socks!

We’re going slightly sock crazy over at Knit with attitude these days! Admittedly there has been a lot of focus on summer tops here on the blog with the Summer Top KAL happening, but really, what knitting project is more suitable for summer than socks? Small, light-weight and so portable you could even bring it to the beach (if you happen to be near one). I personally love a sock project as my public transport knitting, as it is almost impossible to bump into anyone while enjoying some quality time on the bus or tube.

Dawlish - CoopKnits Socks

Dawlish – CoopKnits Socks

Laverne - CoopKnits Socks Volume 2

Laverne – CoopKnits Socks Volume 2

If you happen to be one of those who still think of old ladies when thinking socks you really have to readjust your conceptions, sock knitting is super-cool and allows you to dive into a whole new pool of stitch combinations and techniques. We’re talking three dimensional constructs here!

Rachel Coopey

Rachel Coopey

One designer that has been receiving a lot of attention lately is Rachel Coopey, and let me assure you the buzz is well deserved. Her edgy designs grew quite a fanbase with her first printed collection Coop Knits Socks, and with the recent Coop Knits Volume 2 Rachel confirmed her position as the Queen of Socks – the applause does not seem to be dying out anytime soon.

CoopKnits Socks Volume 2

CoopKnits Socks Volume 2

In both of the CoopKnits Socks collections well-written instructions are accompanied by Jesse Wild’s beautiful photographs which really brings each individual design to the front.
Rachel’s creative designs often incorporate a variety of skills, including cabling, grafting, lace and twisted stitches, providing a great opportunity to try out new techniques. 
Each design is beautifully balanced and well thought out, giving both experienced and novice knitters the chance to create wonderful, wearable socks that are enormously enjoyable to knit. Not only that, but every print book contains a code to enable you to download the eBook free of charge.

Brighton - CoopKnits Socks

Brighton – CoopKnits Socks

Wilbert - CoopKnits Socks Volume 2

Wilbert – CoopKnits Socks Volume 2

At Knit with attitude we just can’t decide on which of these we will cast on for first, however, we all agree on which yarn to use. Remember the lush newcomer mentioned in the last blog post, Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply? Quite a few of Rachel’s designs feature this tightly spun Merino yarn, hard wearing and washable, ensuring a long life for your favourite socks.

Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply

Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply

If you have already dipped your toe in the world of sock knitting but want to take your skills to the next level, perhaps you would like to turn things on their head and learn to knit socks from the toe up? We have a very exciting course coming up later this month – Toe Up Sock Knitting with Jane Lithgow.

Jane Lithgow

Jane Lithgow

Jane was taught to knit by her grandmother at the age of four and over the years has had a go at pretty much everything knitting related from punk inspired mohair sweaters in her youth to blankets and bootees for her niece and nephew when they were babies. However, her particular passion is for socks, a self confessed sock knitting geek, with lots of samples and sock related stories to show and share! Above all, Jane is an experienced, enthusiastic and patient knitting teacher who loves to pass on her skills and love of the craft.

Artesano Definition Sock Yarn

There are a few spaces left for grabs, so it is still possible to get in touch to secure your spot. The Toe Up Sock Course is on Sundays 19th and 26th of April, the fee is £60 which includes the Artesano Definition Sock Yarn and a set of double pointed needles, everything you need to complete your first pair of Toe Up Socks – one of many I guess, as sock knitting is highly addictive!

Milfoil - CoopKnits Socks

Milfoil – CoopKnits Socks

Fibre Fridays: Merino

Another instalment of our Fibre Fridays! This week we are talking about merino wool.

Merino wool! you may say, That’s not a summer yarn. It’s all sheepy and warm and not at all good for summer knitting. Well, we are here to disagree!

Merino sheep were first bred in Spain, and were highly prized

Long before the invention of synthetic fibers, the fabric of choice for sportswear and outdoors was wool. Did you know that cyclists in the Tour de France wore wool jerseys, even in the middle of the summer? In 1947, when the Tour first tried to introduce the first synthetic threads on the iconic Yellow Jersey by their sponsor Sofil (a synthetic thread maker) there was outrage among the riders. Louison Bobet, the rider who was to wear the yellow jersey, flat out refused, saying that it was a matter of hygiene and that pure wool was the only way to go. The company had to make a new, 100% wool jersey over night for him to wear!

One of the reasons for this is the breathability of wool. It naturally cools the wearer down in the summer, and keeps them warm in the winter. It can absorb 35% of its weight in water before feeling wet to the touch, as well as repelling moisture (or sweat) away from the wearer, reducing clamminess.

Now, we aren’t advocating that you all run out and knit your own cycing jersey. Merino works very well as a light layer for regular, everyday use, which works well for summer time. A lightweight merino jumper would work well over a sundress in cool evenings, or with a lace pattern for a summer top. Here in the UK we are rarely battling really, truly hot temperatures, which makes wool an excellent choice year round.

Wool is a very sustainable and renewable fiber, which is one of the reasons we love it so much! As with any product that we carry, we are conscious not just of it’s impact on the environment but also on the people and animals that are involved in the process. For this reason we make sure that all of our merino comes from farms that do not practice museling, a painful surgical process common in Australia against flystrike.

Araucanía Botany Lace

Araucanía Botany Lace

So what should you look for in a wool yarn? We like fine gauges, like Arucania Botany Lace, or blended with another fiber such as silk, with Manos Silk Blend DK.

Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend DK

Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend DK

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Crown Tee by Jenise Reid

Natalie is dreaming of the Crown Tee by Jenise Reid. It calls for a lace or fingering weight yarn. We have some great candidates for this pattern, which you can purchase through the shop in person or on Ravelry. Botany Lace by Arucania is a very hearty plied yarn that has a lot of stitch definition, which would make the lace pop. We have two options from Fyberspates; Scrumptious Lace and the brand new to us Vivacious 4Ply.

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Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace

Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply

Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply

The silk content of the Scrumptious will have more drape, while the Vivacious will have more stitch definition. Finally, Sulka Legato by Mirasol is a 60% Merino/20% Silk/20% Alpaca from Peru which would have amazing drape and comes in great colours.

Mirasol Sulka Legato

Mirasol Sulka Legato

Now, how’s that for summer inspiration! And remember, the Summer Top Knit-A-Long is in full swing, share your summer knits with us and you can be the lucky winner of £100 to spend on more yarns + we’re about to reveal the huge pile of extra goodies we’re adding to the prize draw, so keep your eyes on the blog for further announcements.

 

 

Fibre Feature Fridays: Cotton

One of the hardest things about choosing a new project is deciding which yarn to use. We have lots of yarns in the shop that are great for summer and lightweight knits. Our Summer Top KAL is in full swing, so over the next few weeks we will feature different fibres that we carry and highlight what makes them good for summer knits to help you decide on what to use. Some will be familiar to you, some may be a surprise!

Our first fibre feature is cotton. Cotton is pretty well known for being a summer fabric. It is a plant fibre that is cool, soft and easy to clean. It has none of the ‘prickle’ factor that animal fibres can have, so it works equally well for those with skin sensitivities and for hot weather.

Unfortunately, cotton has a bit of a contentious place in the global fibre industry at the moment. Due to the high quantity of water and pesticides needed to make cotton grow on an industrial level, commercial cotton can have disastrous results for the environment. This is why we do everything we can to carry yarns that come from companies that ensure their cotton comes from ethical and environmentally friendly sources.

Debbie Bliss Eco Baby in solid colours

Debbie Bliss Eco Baby in solid colours

Eco Baby is hands down the most environmentally friendly cotton in the shop. Not only is it organically grown, it is also dyed with non-toxic dyes in recycled water to minimize the impact on the communities that produce the yarn. Debbie Bliss has ensured that the yarns are produced in a way that benefits the producers in other ways as well, the labour is fair trade as well. Eco Baby comes in a range of solid pastels, as well as variegated. Perfect to mix and match. Debbie Bliss’s Eco Baby and Eco Baby Print – a 100% certified organic and fair trade cotton.

Debbie Bliss Eco Baby Prints

Debbie Bliss Eco Baby Prints

We love our Manos yarns, and Serena is no exception. Manos del Uruguay is a non-profit social organization and a member of the World Fair Trade Organization. Since 1968, Manos has provided jobs for craftswomen living in Uruguay rural areas. The Manos mission is to eradicate poverty through sustainable economic growth and by enabling craftspeople to improve the quality of their craft products. Serena is a cotton and alpaca (yes! alpaca!) blend. The alpaca makes the yarn incredibly light, while the cotton makes it more appropriate for warm temperatures. We have 6 super sweet and summery colours in stock that range from pastel blue to bright pop orange. Manos Serena – 60% Baby Alpaca/40% Cotton.

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Manos del Uruguay Serena

Mirasol is another company that works directly with the communities that produce it, this time in the Munani region of Puno in Peru. A percentage of each yarn sale goes directly to help fund a remote school. We have a range of 12 brights and neutrals that are perfect for any sunny day. Mirasol Pima Kuri – 100% ethically produced Pima Cotton

Mirasol Yarn Collection Pima Kuri

Mirasol Yarn Collection Pima Kuri

What can’t you say about Noro?! This well established company from Japan ticks all the boxes. They are environmentally friendly, from the fibres to the dying, and boy to they know colour! Noro is personally involved with inspecting all aspects of production, from visiting the animal farms to checking the machinery used and keeping restrictions on the dye processes to maintain products that are as eco-friendly as possible. Between the unusual fibre combinations to the trademark long colour repeats, Noro is always recognizable on the shelf. We have Noro Kibou – 54% Cotton, 34% Wool, 12% Silk and Noro Tokonatsu – 40% Cotton 30% Silk 30% Viscose, in stock.

Noro Kibou

Noro Kibou

Noro Tokonatsu

Noro Tokonatsu

Colour can be a bit tricky with cotton, which is one reason we are happy to work with Wool and the Gang. We also know that their yarns are all ethically produced in partnership with small producers in Peru. Their Shiny Happy Cotton is produced with no use of pesticides and comes in over 20 shades! It’s hard to pick just one.  WATG Shiny Happy Cotton – 100% Cotton

Wool and the Gang Shiny Happy Cotton

Wool and the Gang Shiny Happy Cotton