Category Archives: alpaca

Exploring Brushed Alpaca

Last time we chatted I was showing off my latest project, Paprika, but like all accomplishments, a bit of work went into it before it happened. Before starting, I swatched … I know, you hate swatching, you avoid swatching, swatching is gross, swatching is boring, blech. I think I understand how a dentist feels, telling their patients to floss – it’s a Sisyphean task. Instead of listing all the important (aka. boring, grown-up) reasons to swatch I think I’m just going to share ….

I once read that designer Veronique Avery learned how to knit, and design, by making swatches EXCLUSIVELY for a year. That’s right a YEAR of swatching. When I read that, I thought “Wow, this lady is single-minded.” But you know what, I bet by the end of that exercise she REALLY understood hand knitted fabric. She understood how different fibres, different tensions, and different stitch patterns behaved.

Designers understand that swatching is knowledge. But swatching is more than just the way to make sure your project is going to fit. Swatching is a way to experiment with yarn, explore it’s potential, see how it behaves. It’s a way to decide how you like it, how you don’t like it. Will it do what you want it to do, will it look like you want it to? Most people remind you that swatching is a way to avoid being disappointed, but it can also be a way to find new things you like!

Before I started my Paprika, I experimented with the yarn I was thinking about using, Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk ….

Initially, I was thinking about making the sweater with some colour. I grabbed 3 warm colours and cast on a little cowl based on the Snap hat I made a little while ago. Yup, that’s right, it’s a swatch AND a project. Squares swatches are ok, but not so much fun. To start with I was playing with colour, so the tension didn’t matter, and I made something that made me happy – an actual garment (which is what the end product will be, anyway).

I initially thought I’d be into this colour combo, but once it was done it was full of NOPE (at least for this sweater)! Such is life. But I did find out how the yarn knitted at a new tension, what it looked like on both sides of the fabric, how some of the colours looked combined, and I have a great little cowl! (all of the project details are in my Ravelry Project Notes)

Materials

Following up on my colour-speriment, I thought maybe I’d rest my eyes and try a neutral ombre/colour gradient. So I made a cowl to swatch the tension and colours. The fabric is lovely, the colours blended well, and my swatch, a cowl, is lovely (an added bonus). But as I thought about the sweater, I decided simple was better, and that figuring out when to change the colours in the sweater felt like too much work for me. Sometimes the KISS (Keep It Simple Sister) principle is extremely effective!

Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk is a great yarn to play around with colour gradations and colour combining. The strands stick together and the texture blends nicely. As far as a swatch, it gave me my tension information, helped me narrow down my colour concept, and its a really nice, light, airy cowl! I haven’t written the cowl up as a formal pattern, but all the directions and details (needle sizes, yarn colours) are in my Ravelry Project Notes.

Materials

Following the second cowl (and a couple other swatches that I really did not enjoy, and I pitched the results) I learned a lot:

  • The yarn is really nice and soft, very cuddly and cloud-like
  • It’s quite versatile, it adapts to a whole bunch of different tensions
  • I like combining the colours in some projects but not in others
  • If I’m going to make an ombre sweater, it is best made from the top-down (so I don’t have to think too much about colour placement, matching the arms to the body, etc.)
  • I now have a reference for how some of the colours look combined

And of course, the most important thing I learned from the process, was that I really enjoyed working with this yarn, and I wanted to keep exploring it in different ways. At the risk of sounding like the final paragraph in a serial mystery novel … I did, and the results were unexpected! But You’ll have to wait for the next instalment to find out more.

PROJECT Paprika

Paprika

I’m sorry it’s been so long since you’ve heard from us, I’ve had the Flu for what seems like an ETERNITY! While I’ve spent a good amount of my spare time dosed to the gills with Dayquil/NyQuil, I’ve managed to get a few things finished … including this sweater, Paprika.

I love the look of mohair, but I don’t love the itchy feel, so I’ve been doing some experimenting with Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk. It looks like mohair, but it feels like happy. Plus, it’s light as air! I made Paprika with two strands held together, on 8mm/US11 needles. It was a fast and easy knit, worked in one piece from the bottom-up, so no seaming – nothing fussier than picking up stitches.

The style is oversized and roomy. I made a medium but I could have easily made a small. It was definitely an affordable knit, coming in under $50 (I used 8 skeins of Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk).  

When you’re ready to make yours you should definitely take a look at our pattern notes on Ravelry, I found a few quirks with the pattern and noted my modifications & etc. I also feel that the sleeves are way too long and I’d make them several inches shorter. Other than that, I’m pretty pleased with the results!

Size

  • S(M, L, XL)
  • Finished Bust Circumference: 45(48, 41, 54.5) inches or 112(120, 128, 136) cm

Materials

  • Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk: 8(9, 9, 10) balls. (holding 2 strands together, shown in colour 3 gray)
  • 6mm/US10 -36″ circular needles
  • 6mm/US10 double pointed needles
  • 8mm/US11 – 29″ (or longer) circular needles
  • 8mm/US11 double pointed needles (or 16″ circular)
  • Pattern
  • Our Notes on Ravelry

PROJECT Classic Ribbed Hat

Classic Ribbed Hat

We just finished this easy Classic Ribbed Hat, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The pattern was a freebie, so yay! We used a single skein of Diamond Baby Alpaca Sport, which is a BULKY weight, supremely soft 100% baby alpaca, and it feels marvellous! We used 5.5mm/US9 needles, so the tension is tight and the fabric will hopefully be a bit on the dense side, and more Canadian winter friendly. I kinda really like the colour, sometimes pinks and purples can be so surprising. And of course, we topped the whole thing off with a Raccoon Fur Pompom – I think they add a little polish and finish the look. I think it makes a beautiful, personal holiday gift (and it works up fairly quickly, so you can get it done in time).

Modifications

I wasn’t sure about the sizing, so we cast on for the child side to fit an adult S/M, and then followed the instructions for the adult size. We also did an extra round of decreases at the end, to make the top more manageable to close. We always try to write out mods in the project notes on Ravelry.

Materials

SHOP ONLINE

NEW Handmaiden Wanderlust

Handmaiden Alpaca Merino Wanderlust DISPLAY .png

Handmaiden Wanderlust Islands Alpaca Merino

Handmaiden’s LIMITED EDITION collection, Wanderlust Islands, just arrived! Inspired by their lust for travel, Handmaiden has created 13 new colourways inspired by their “bucket-list” islands. Some are exotic and some familiar and the colours are designed to shine on their own or coordinate for multi-colour projects.

The Alpaca Merino base is a soft, squishy, versatile 2ply yarn that’s perfect for all kinds of projects, from shawls, wraps, sweaters, scarves, hats – you name it! A pretty sport-weight yarn, it’s not too thick, and not too thin, and has lots of yardage. Plus, it’s Made in Canada!

  • 70% Superwash Merino, 30% Baby Alpaca
  • 100g/300m (329yds)
  • Sport weight
  • 3.25mm/US3 needles
  • 24 sts = 4″(10cm)
  • Hand wash, lay flat to dry
  • MADE IN CANADA

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

Handmaiden Wanderlust Islands Combo Blog.png

Update: later the same day

Don’t wait, seriously, we’ve already sold out of some colours!

SALE & FREEBIES Cascade Lana Grande

Cascade Lana Grande BLOG

SALE 20% Off Cascade Lana Grande

Cascade Lana Grande is a lofty, super bulky/polar weight yarn made with 100% Peruvian Wool. It knits up beautifully and FAST – plus it’s very affordable!  See it at work in patterns like Umaro by Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed), the Weekend Pullover from Knitting Pure and Simple, the Big Snowy Owl, and it’s ideal for the Button Bear Cowl. It’s great for beginners too, we use it frequently in our classes. It knits up fast and is great for making gifts (it’s never too early to start).

  • 100% Peruvian Highland Wool
  • 100g/80m
  • Super Bulky Weight
  • 9mm to 12mm (US size 13 to17) Needles
  • 8 sts = 4″ (10cm)
  • Made in Peru
  • Project ideas on Ravelry
  • Read our Blog Post with project ideas

 

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

 

Sweet

 

 

Gaptastic COMBO

Photos: topstitchgirl & morgpet

 

Gaptastic Cowl

 

 

unoriginal hat 1

Photo: madorange

An Unoriginal Hat

FREEBIE Nour

 

 

Nour

One ball of gorgeous yarn makes a hat – it’s a no-brainer holiday miracle gift! And yes, we sell fur pompoms (both real and synthetic) and excellent pompom makers!

Yarn Options

Materials

FREEBIE + HACKS Paloma Cowl

BLISSPATSFPALOMACOWL.zoom.1.jpg

Paloma Cowl

I like simple, loose cables like this cowl; they create great texture and interest without too much effort.

Yarn Options: Super Bulky (10 to 12mm needles)

Yarn Options: Bulky (8mm needles)

Materials

HACKS

  • Because all of the yarns we’ve suggested (above) bloom beautifully, you can try pushing your needle size up to a 12mm/US17 and omit a ball of yarn.
  • The yarn suggested in the pattern is super-bulky, so expect your cowl to be too. If this is too much for you, consider substituting a slightly thinner, bulky weight yarn, and smaller (8mm/US11) needles. If this seems too narrow, add a second cable pattern repeat.
  • The pattern is knit flat and seamed in a circle, but if you want to do something more knitterly like a 3 needle bind-off or kitchener stitch, you can cast on using a provisional cast-on (casting on with scrap yarn).