It seems like you guys have been very busy bees, knitting up squares for the COVID Memorial Blanket … I made one too, and I plan on getting my niece, brother and sister-in-law to make one each. It’s a very easy pattern, suitable for beginners – you only need to know how to knit and purl.
If you aren’t already familiar with it, the COVID Memorial Blanket is a country wide project to honour and remember Canadians lost to COVID. Knitters from all over the country are knitting squares (with Berroco Vintage), which will be joined together to make a MASSIVE blanket … you can read more about it HERE.
This week CBC news did a story on it, it was also on TV. Since then we’ve sold out of colour 5125 Aquae (the colour designated to represent healthcare workers), the distributor is also out of stock, and we don’t expect to have it again until mid-September. That said, there are lots and lots of other colours available in Berroco Vintage, and the only limitation is what makes you happy! There aren’t really any front-runners for popularity, but I can tell you that when given the opportunity, people are going for COLOUR!
Yarn Availability & COVID
As an aside, I’ve been told by a few sales reps that availability is going to be a little spotty this fall on any products coming out of Peru – they’ve been hit pretty hard by COVID and the mills are only working at 30% capacity. Going forward, if you were thinking of making a large project and you want specific colours in Berroco Vintage, Berroco Vintage DK or Berroco Vintage Chunky, you should order your yarn now because I may not be able to get the inventory later. I think this especially applies to the neutral colours like white, off-white, ecru, all of the heathered greys, black, oatmeal, etc.
MINI-HACK! The Baggy Bind-Off Stitch
Yesterday Erica and I were looking at swatches and the subject of that last bind-off stitch came up. Somehow it’s always stretched out … and while I never really cared about it, it got me thinking that someone, somewhere on the interweb, must have found a solution. It turns out lots of someones have resolved the issue, the video below is the first one that popped up in my Google search, and I liked it a lot.
I finished my Cruz Bay crochet cardi! It turned out really nicely, it’s a great summer top, I’m very happy with it and wearing it in the store.
It wasn’t a crazy hard piece, but I’d say it was an advanced beginner to intermediate level of crochet pattern. I used a larger hook because my tension was looking too tight in the pattern stitch (luckily you start the pattern from the bottom of the sleeve so it sort of serves as an opportunity to check your tension). I had a few pattern questions that needed clarification and the designer, Donna Yacino, was incredibly fast and helpful. I put my modifications& details in my Ravelry Notes. Keep reading for more details from my project experience.
Berroco Estiva is a soft, machine washable 100% cotton, made in Italy. It works up in a gradient, from light to dark (or vice versa). It was easy to crochet with and worked up reasonably fast (for a tape yarn). I used 2.5 cakes of yarn for the smallest size. Each sleeve/side used its own cake of yarn. I started from the dark end of the cake and worked to the light. I used the remnants from the sleeves/sides to start work on the medallions around the neck and then started my third cake at the light end.
Shown in size 36 this blog post (my finished size ended up: 40″ body circumference, 12″ sleeve cuff circumference, 16″ upper sleeve circumference. My tension was 3 stitch pattern repeats & 14 rows = 4″/10cm)
Berroco Estiva: 3 (3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5) cakes (shown in colour 2621 emerald in this blog post)
I didn’t always find the pattern instructions incredibly, explicitly clear … I don’t know if it was my limited experience with crochet sweater patterns or because the pattern was written during COVID and the designer and editors were totally stressed – either way Berroco and Donna Yacino were both great.
The instructions for the rows on the body were a bit vague and I kind of fudged it (crochet is more flexible than knitting, you can do this … and after previously emailing Donna twice I decided she had earned a break) except I didn’t really keep track of what I did on the first side … and then COVID brain kicked in. As you can see in the picture above, it’s a good idea to write down what you did. I didn’t. Ooops. My general approach to this project was “Does it look like the picture? Good enough!” I am very appreciative to Apple for making it possible for me to embiggen images on my iPad.
FYI: If you decide to make this pattern with another yarn I strongly suggest you swatch first.
Ron’s Patterns Review
My beau, Ron, is sitting next to me while I write this blog post and he doesn’t understand why I have so much to discuss. His review: “I sat next to her and she didn’t swear at all during it, so I’m guessing it’d be good for an advanced beginner or low level intermediate.” Sage words.
I’ve been looking forward to this pattern since my sales rep visited last winter … I even bought extra yarn in my first order hoping I’d be able to get my greedy little hands on the pattern early. That didn’t end up happening, but that’s ok, better late than never! It’s a casual crochet cardie made with Berroco’s lurvly summer yarn Estiva. Estiva is a really versatile yarn; it’s a soft cotton tape, easy to work with, machine washable, and made in Italy. The colours range from muted to bright, so you’ve got lots of options.I don’t personally look great in yellow, but I can’t get my head around this sweater in it, it’s just so perfect! I was going to make it in the teal, but now I don’t know …
I’ve been looking for something quick-ish but also with some interest to make with Berroco Estivaand I was so happy to come across the FREE Midsommar Shawl! It’s knit on 6mm/US10 needles, so you’ll be able to finish it and wear it out by the time social distancing is a distant memory.
The pattern is pretty straightforward, and it is broken down line-by-line (I especially like this for newish knitters, it makes it easier to read and follow the pattern). For the more experienced, it can still be an asset, as it’s a lot less likely you’ll forget where you were if you’re ticking off each row on the pattern as you go.For those with dyslexia or ADHD, it’s a treasure!
BerrocoEstivais a soft, 100% cotton tape yarn that knits on a 6mm/US10 to 8mm/US11 needles. It’s already knitted, so it isn’t heavy or bulky and there’s no splitting when you work with it. It’s also machine washable, so no shrinkage. Last year we used it for several projects (including a forthcoming pattern I’ve yet to finish) and it’s a keeper. They came out with some brighter colours this year, which I think is really needed right now (although they still have the more muted colours too).
So good news … spring is coming! More good news … I got a present! This little shrug was a gift from Berroco yarns, so we didn’t actually make it … but we totally could have! Very easily, in fact! Its a nice little cotton shrug for spring & summer, knit on big-ish needles (6mm/US10). The fit is easy and the construction isn’t too involved. Wear it over a dress, a shirt, a tank or a cami, with jeans, a skirt, a romper, knickers … you name it, it goes with it! Plus, it makes a great little ‘office sweater’ when the weather gets warmer and the office temperature gets colder.
I especially love the yarn, Berroco Estiva, a bulky weight cotton tape that’s really lovely to knit with and to wear. I’ve used it before for our Beach Wrap, a Deschain Pullover, and a new pattern I designed that’s coming out soon. It knits up in a slow monochrome gradient, giving the colour some interest without making you look like you’re wearing Joseph’s Technicolor Dream-coat. Plus, we have some gorgeous new colours this year (see pictures below), so you’ve got even more inspiration to choose from!
The sides, including sleeves and yoke of this garment are worked in one piece from sleeve cuff to center back. The sides are joined at center back using a 3-needle bind off. The lower ribbing is then picked up and worked down.
To ensure gradient pattern is similar to the sample shown, work from the cakes as follows for sizes 36–52″: Start at the beginning (dark-coloured) part of a new cake for each sleeve, using remaining yarn to knit the lower section and neckband. For sizes 56″ and 60″, 2 cakes of yarn are used through out. Alternate cakes
We finished up a new store project, our Beach Wrap pattern, but this time we did a little experiment and made it with a bulky cotton yarn, Berroco Estiva. Estiva is a new yarn this year, so we’re still playing around, putting it through it’s paces, but I think it’s definitely reorder-worthy for next spring. It’s soft, 100% cotton, bulky, and not heavy or ropy like most bulky weight cottons. That ticks a lot of boxes for me. It’s also made in Italy (ie. not made by slaves) and is machine washable on cold, which is are features I didn’t expect but please me.
The wrap came out significantly smaller than our original version in linen, so if you want to make a larger wrap you can cuddle into you should get an extra cakes of Berroco Estiva. I thought it was a teachable moment (at least I got teached), so I’m going into it in more detail in a follow-up post (I actually drafted that post first, so I PROMISE it will come).
Berroco Estiva: 1 cake for smaller version (in the pictures), 2 cakes if you want your wrap larger.
Does anything say Canada to Canadians more than the iconic Hudson Bay Blanket? It’s simple design is timeless and a hand-knit version would make for a super-special baby gift. The pattern is beginner friendly (it’s just straight knitting), and makes a great low-brain activity, summer project. And it’s FREE, so that’s a bonus too!
The Hudson Bay Inspired Baby Blanket is made with worsted weight yarn, so you’ve got several great options to choose from! I’ve colour combined and art-directed the colours, so you don’t have to worry about which shades match and balance together – I’ve got you covered! Working with the palates available from each yarn line, I tired to create as many combinations that looked good as possible. I also tried to go for different aesthetics, the classics are closest to the iconic blankets sold by the Hudson Bay Company, and feature clearer, brighter colours. The subdued combos are a more modern, grown-up take on the hues, and are darker.
Cascade 220 Superwash is an affordably priced, machine washable Peruvian wool yarn. It’s soft enough for baby garments and blankets, knits easily, and has been a staple around here for a LONG time. If you aren’t into synthetics this is a great choice!
classic colours: six skeins of 817 Aran, and one skein each of 251 Evergreen, 809 Really Red, 877 Golden, 1924 Midnight Heather
slightly darker colours: six skeins of 817 Aran, and one skein each of 1950 Hunter Green, 893 Ruby, 877 Golden, 854 Navy.
Berroco Vintage is a super soft, machine washable blend of wool, acrylic and nylon. It’s easy on the hands and the pocketbook, and is another very popular choice for babies and kids. This yarn is also a longstanding resident around here.
classic colours: six skeins of 5101 Mochi, and one skein each of 5152 Mistletoe, 5151 Cardinal, 5121 Sunny, 51182 Indigo Heather.
somewhat subdued colours: six skeins of 5101 Mochi, and one skein each of 5193 Yukon Green, 51181 Ruby Heather, 5127 Butternut, 51182 Indigo Heather.
grown-up heathered colours: six skeins of 5101 Mochi, and one skein each of 5177 Douglas Fir Heather, 5181 Black Currant Heather, 5192 Chana Dal Heather, 51182 Indigo Heather.
Berroco Estiva is a bulky weight, 100% cotton ribbon yarn, so it’s super soft, easy to knit with, and works up FAST! Plus, it has scads of yardage, so you can make a smaller size of Deschain with two skeins, or a shawl/wrap with one. The ball-band calls for 6.5mm/US105 to 8mm/US11 needles, so there’s lots of flexibility to play around. The yarn is made in Italy (personally, I’m always pleased to see milling happening in Italy, they do it beautifully there), and it is MACHINE WASHABLE (a good thing for summer garments)!
Knitting Gauge: 3.5 to 4 sts = 1″ (2.5cm) on 6.5mm/US10.5 to 8mm/US11 needles. 14 to 16sts = 4″ (10cm)
When I ran across these projects on Ravelry I knew we had to make one! The pattern, Deschain, was designed a few years ago by Quince & Co for their organic linen yarn, Kestrel (which is also stunning and I love and we sell and makes me very happy). But the pattern looks equally awesome made with a new bulky weight cotton yarn, Berroco Estiva.
Note: you might need to work extra pattern repeats to get your sweater long enough. While you are working, hold it up to your body as you go (for a size small you might need to knit extra length to get good coverage).
FYI, we were supposed to do the 25km ride, but we just kept going and scored ourselves an extra 25km … I’m a little tender in the posterior, but I totally earned my donations this year! If you wanted to donate but didn’t get around to it it isn’t too late – my brother is only $12 ahead of me, I think that needs to be rectified …
Me & my father at the half-way point on a particularly wet & cold Ride for Heart.
Ride for Heart
Some of you already know that every year I do a charity bike ride with my father. This year I managed to drag my BROTHER along, so all three of us are riding 25km up, and then back down the Don Valley Parkway (a local highway).
Anyway, the purpose of the even, besides getting out of the house and getting some exercise, is to rise funds for the Canadian Heart and Stroke association, who does A LOT of important work helping EVERYONE improve their cardiac health (after all, scientific research has no borders). According to an article in the news yesterday women are TWICE as likely to die from a heart attack than men. This is NOT GOOD, because I know from computery data stuff that 95% of the people reading this are WOMEN! Sure, I’ve got a vested interested in keeping you alive, many of you reading this are my clients, but I also feel strongly that the world needs women, as many as it can get. And as women, we deserve to be strong, healthy, and happy.
P.S. They symptoms of heart attack in women are often different than those seen in men. Women can have chest symptoms (the ‘Hollywood’ clutching of the chest & sweating), or any of the following:
profound nausea and vomiting with palpitations
discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back
Since I’ve been talking about women’s health, who better to invoke than the head amazon herself, Wonder Woman. I’ve actually seen this hat in the wild, on some dude in the subway, and it was AWESOME. Sure, you can still wear your Pussy Hat to protests, but sometimes you want something a bit dressier for your day-to-day lady needs. The pattern isn’t free, but it’s only $3, which I don’t begrudge to have someone else do the work of charting the symbol.
To make things easier, I’ve pulled all the suitable colours off the shelf and come up with colour combinations that work well together (you can never really tell online which shades are actually going to look good). I personally like a darker, more sombre colour combo with a dark red, gold and blue, but I know that everyone has different Wonder Woman Toque needs, so I chose colours that were both thematically on cue and look great together. By the way, if this project appeals to you, you might want to bookmark or Pinterest this post for future reference – you’ll want to revisit the colour numbers!
Since this is such a cool project, and it is in honour of a charitable fundraising endeavour, we’re offering a one time discount of 10% Off Online orders of the yarns we think will work best (discount is applicable to all colours, you can have your order shipped or choose to order online and pick-up your order in store): Use code WONDERHAT at checkout.
Cascade 220 Superwash is a soft, machine washable, 100% Peruvian wool, it comes in a bunch of colours, and the price is very reasonable. You’ll need 1 skein in each colour plus optional 1 ball for pom-pom in colour 817 Aran:
Berrocco Vintage is a super soft, machine washable blend of wool and synthetic, and the price is right at $9.97/skein. You’ll need 1 skein in each colour, plus optional 1 skein for pom-pom in colour 5101 Mochi:
Clear Colours Combo: 5150 Berries, 5121 Sunny, 5143 Dark Denim
Medium Combo: 5181 Black Cherry Heather, 5127 Butternut, 5143 Dark Denim
Dark Combo: 5181 Black Cherry Heather, 5192 Chana Dal Heather, 51182 Indigo Heather
Malabrigo Rios is a hand dyed, SUPER soft, machine washable merino wool, and while the price point is higher at $23.97/skein, comparable hand dyed merino yarns tend to run north of $30/skein. You’ll need 1 skein in each colour, plus optional 1 skein of off-white for pom-pom in Manos Alegria Grande in AG2800:
Brighter Combo: 611 Ravelry Red, 96 Sunset, 415 Matisse Blue
Medium Combo: 611 Ravelry Red, 96 Sunset, 150 Azul Profundo
Dark Combo: 33 Cereza, 96 Sunset, 150 Azul Profundo (the dye lot of 33 is darker than the picture)