IMG_7013We’ve received several inquiries lately asking how to convert a hank of yarn (on the left) into a ball of yarn (on the right) for easier use when knitting and crocheting.

I created this photo tutorial to show you the steps. The staff at your local yarn store can also show you, or maybe even wind the yarn for you.

IMG_7001First, find where the end of the hank is tucked into the loop.

IMG_7002Pop the end out so you can open up the loop.

IMG_7004You might have to give the loop a little shake to get it to open up. (Bonus points if you can frame a pet in the open loop!)

You want to ensure all the strands are hanging neatly and you have a clean, open loop. If there are strands crossing the center you’ll want to follow their path and return them to the proper side or you’ll get a tangle later.

Do NOT remove any ties at this point or you’ll risk the yarn getting tangled.

IMG_7005Next, place the loop over your umbrella swift.

If you don’t have an umbrella swift you can use the back of a chair (or flip it over and use the legs), the hands of a willing friend, or even your own feet. The goal is to keep the loop open and secure so it can’t collapse and get tangled.

IMG_7006Open the swift and tighten the bolt to secure it in place. (This is also a good time to move your Peace Lily or other objects that might get hit by the spinning swift.)

IMG_7009The yarn will be tied in one or more places. Remove the label, if you haven’t already, and remove the ties. I prefer to untie the knots if I can. If you don’t have the patience for that, you can cut right next to the knot to remove it.

It’s important to cut close to the knot to avoid damaging the yarn. In some cases, the ties will be made with scraps of yarn that are very obviously not your main yarn, but it’s still best to be careful!

IMG_7010Once you have a free end, thread the tail through the guide eye on your ball winder and secure it in the notch.

When you start cranking, you should use your other hand to guide the yarn coming from the swift to help control the tension.

IMG_7011Ta-da! A lovely yarn cake has been created. You can use this as a center pull ball, provided your tail stayed secure in the notch.

Of course, you can also wind the yarn into a ball by hand. If I had to choose between a swift and a ball winder, I’d take the swift. It’s much easier to wind the yarn into a ball by hand than it is to secure the loop, in my opinion.

IMG_7017Are you on Pinterest? Here are all the steps in one image for your Pinning pleasure.

I also made this (possibly embarrassing) video demonstrating the steps.

For both the pictures and the video I used Juniper Moon Farm Sabine yarn in the Icicle color.

In the video I’m wearing my Kayleen Pullover from the Interweave Knits Summer 2014 issue. The sweater was knit using, you guessed it, Juniper Moon Farm Sabine.

KureopatoraIf you are a member of Ravelry, you’ll recognize this screen grab.

The new Noro yarn “Kureopatora” topped the Popular New Yarns list this week!

It is understandable this yarn is getting a lot of attention. Kureopatora is a 100% Merino blend with a suggested knitting gauge of 5.5 sts/inch and a generous 295 yards per ball.

And, of course, the fabulous colors for which Noro is famous!

In her spotlight in the current issue of Noro Knitting Magazine, Leslie Petrovski writes:

So seductive, this Cleopatra namesake: A sophisticated mix of Australian super merino, New Zealand merino, and Falkland Island, Tasmanian and Polwarth wool, this new addition brings a softer, slinkier profile to Noro’s family of colorful wools.

There are a number of great patterns available for this new yarn. Issue 5 of Noro Knitting Magazine includes five patterns using Kureopatora.

Kureopatora beretThe Cabled Beret, designed by Carol Sulcoski, takes one ball of  Kureopatora and is shown in color 1001.

Add the Cabled Beret to your Ravelry queue.

Kureopatora mittsThe Smocked Fingerless Mitts, designed by Erica Kempf, take two balls of Kureopatora. They are shown in color 1011.

Add the Smocked Fingerless Mitts to your Ravelry queue.

Issue 5 is the current issue of Noro Knitting Magazine, which will make it easy to find at local yarn stores that stock Noro yarn.

All the patterns in the booklet “Romance“, by Jenny Watson Designs, use Kureopatora yarn.

Kureopatora pulloverThere are four designs for men. This great pullover, “Dream,” is shown in color 1006. There is also a matching hat.

Kureopatora vestThis attractive vest, “Embrace,”  is also shown as a cardigan. The vest is shown in color 1016, while the cardigan is shown in the same color as the Dream pullover.

Kurepatora sweaterThe Romance book includes five sweaters and a number of accessories for women. As you can see in this picture, there are a number of collar treatments for the “Kiss” pullover.

I think the capelet shown in the main image would be great on its own as a transition garment.

You can preview the rest of the book on our main website and on the Designer Yarns website (Noro’s UK distributor).

Check out what people are making on the Kureopatora project tab on Ravelry.

With a great mix of merino wool fibers and the stunning colors for which Noro is famous, Kureopatora is sure to continue growing in popularity. Visit your local Noro retailer to see what the fuss is about!

Have you seen this yarn in person?

As you are working on the blocks for your Noro Heart Blanket you will generate many yarns ends that will need to be woven in. Really, all knitting projects have ends that need to be woven in at some point.

IMG_6476Luckily, there are a lot of resources online explaining how to deal with these yarn tails. I’ll give you a few quick tips, then point you toward additional resources.

On the Heart Blocks you’ll have a tail everywhere you started and stopped a color, in addition to the tails from casting on and binding off. (If you leave the cast on and bind off tails long enough you can use them to seam together the blocks later.)

IMG_6849This block has an additional pair of tails within the heart because I ran out of that color, that is marked by the lower darning needle. The higher darning needles is marking the hole where the third strand of background color was added for the top peak of the heart.

IMG_6857Here is the back of the same heart. You can see the hole is formed because one leg of each stitch is unsupported. The goal is to get that stitch leg some support!

In the middle of a row like this, you’ll want to close the hole invisibly by darning in the tail. This method is similar to duplicate stitch.

You’ll thread the tail through a darning needle, the follow the path the yarn would have taken if there wasn’t a break. The left leg will travel toward the left and the right leg to the right.

Since it’s a little hard to explain in writing, I made a quick video so you can see how it’s done. I only trace one stitch in the video. You’ll want to keep going until you’ve used up the tail. It’s also a good idea to double back a row above or below to help lock the tail in place.

IMG_6872Here is the same heart with the hole closed up.

As you’re knitting the blocks for your Heart Blanket, I urge you to stop occasionally and weave in the ends. Maybe even as you finish each block. This will prevent you from facing down a big pile of blocks with a seemingly endless number of ends to deal with!

Additional Resources

The Shibaguyz covered Weaving in Ends for a Technique Tuesday post in December. The “Invisible Purl Bump Weave” is the third method shown.

TECHknitting shows weaving in ends on the public side of the fabric, but the idea of following the path of the stitches is the same.

Vogue Knitting has a text explanation.

Jimmy Beans Wool has a video showing how to deal with a cast on tail. Notice how Laura zigzags.

Webs has a tip for dealing with a short tail and another for knitting the tail in. (Normally I’m all for knitting in ends, but you’ll want to test how it impacts your motif before you commit to it on this project.)

Still stumped? Visit your local yarn store and ask for a lesson!

How are your blocks coming along? Are you dealing with the tails right away or leaving them until the end?

Next week Karen and I will discuss blocking methods!

There are mixed reports on the massive snow storm that was supposed to blanket the East Coast this week. Based on what my friends are posting on Facebook, it missed some people entirely, while others received the predicted multiple feet of snow.

Whenever the forecasters start predicting massive snow storms, I can’t help but think:

snow baby yarnFortunately, we have tons of great patterns for babies and children so you can start stockpiling gifts!

VN RomperThis adorable hooded romper is a free pattern from Viking of Norway. It is knit using their Baby Ull yarn, which is a fingering weight, 100% wool available in 16 colors. It is sized from newborn through 48 months.

Wool is great for baby garments because it is absorbent, it is a natural temperature regulator, and it’s self-extinguishing if (heaven forbid!) it is exposed to flame.

EB Joey romperThe Joey Romper from Euro Baby is another adorable option. It is knit using Babe Softcotton Chunky yarn, an easy-care Cotton/Acrylic blend available in 25 colors. This yarn is a great choice for busy parents who will want to machine wash items. With a suggested gauge of 3.5 sts/inch, projects will work up quickly, too!

The pattern is part of the Baby Softcotton Chunky Book, but is also available as an individual download. Visit your local yarn store for more information. It is sized from newborn through 3 years old.

Brisbane blanketIf you want to make a set, check out the Brisbane Cardigan and Blanket designed by Jenny Watson for Queensland Collection. The cardigan is sized to fit chest 14 (16, 18, 20, 22)”

With simple shaping and stitches, this would be a great project for an advanced beginner looking to move beyond scarves.

The set is knit using Queensland Collection Brisbane yarn, a 100% Superwash wool available in 10 fun colors. You just knit and the fun stripes happen automatically!

Brisbane has many of the benefits of wool, but is machine washable for easy care.

ER fruit hatsIf you’re looking for projects you can whip up quickly to add some spice to a store bought gift, check out these adorable fruit hats from Ella Rae.  (All three designs are included in the single leaflet.)

The beanies are knit using Ella Rae Superwash Classic yarn. This 100% Superwash Wool yarn comes in large 220 yard balls and is available in a wide range of colors. I would be surprised if you can’t make more than one beanie from a single ball of yarn, which is economical.

If the fruit aren’t your style, check out the fun animal beanie set, which includes a zebra, bunny, and giraffe!

DB Crossover jacketYou can’t talk about knitting patterns for babies without mentioning Debbie Bliss. She made her initial mark with classic patterns like this Crossover Jacket from her Cashmerino Aran booklet. The 12 patterns in this book cover a range of sizes from six months to six years.

This sweet sweater is knit using the very popular Cashermerino Aran yarn, which is available in over 40 colors.

LH GlaciaLouisa Harding has a book of children’s designs coming out for Spring 2015.  The Glacia Cable Slipover, shown above, is part of the Cassia book.

Glacia is knit using the new Louisa Harding yarn Cassia, a wonderfully soft wool/nylon blend available in in 20 colors.

This unisex cabled slipover includes four sizes for ages 1 through 5 years. Add it to your Ravelry queue.

Sweaters for babies are fun to knit because they are small and fast. They are a great way for beginners to advance their skills since they include all the steps you need to make an adult sweater, but on a small, achievable scale.

In this age of cheap, mass produced items, hand made baby gifts are usually received with excitement and delight. Start planning now for when the shower invitations start rolling in!

Have you seen the new issue of Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine?

As we’re deep into the winter blahs, it’s nice to have some fresh, spring-like images to inspire us.

173500The print version started arriving in local yarn stores in the USA last week and is available in the Knitting Fever iPad app. (Look for it overseas about a month later.)

While there are 30 great patterns, including garments and home decor, there is more to the magazine than that!

The recipe from Nell’s Kitchen is a yummy sounding chocolate chip banana cake with marshmallows.

There is an excerpt from Lucinda Gosling’s new book “Knitting for Tommy“, which is about knitting during World War I (including two vintage sock patterns).

The “Where I Work” feature visits Joy Bates at Seven Gauge Studios. And there is an essay from Elsbeth Lavold about her Viking Knits project and the new book “Viking Knits and Ancient Ornaments.”

But we can’t spend all our time drinking tea and reading interesting articles, so let’s take a peek at the patterns!

174471There are several adorable garments for children, but what caught my eye were the three crocheted stuffed animals designed by Emma Varnam.

Bob the Bunny, shown above, is joined by a duck and a dog. All three are crocheted using Eco Baby yarn. Don’t be surprised when Bob is my “rabbit, rabbit” post on our Facebook page on February 1.

174491You can cuddle with Bob the Bunny under the beautiful cabled throw in the home decor section. This great blanket is knit using Mia yarn, a lovely wool/cotton blend.

Instead of using cream, as shown, I’d probably use green to make my sofa, or red to match my golden retrievers. LOL! The Cabled Throw is 30 1/4″ x 54 1/4″.

The garments for adults will keep your knitting needles busy for a while. It will be hard to decide which one to make first. When I was at knitting group Wednesday night, people were drawn to the Perfect Pastels section of the magazine.

174483There are five wonderfully feminine tops with little details that make them special.

The Raglan Sweater with Chevron Edging, shown above, is one of my favorites. It is knit using Luxury Silk DK yarn, which is available in 25 colors.

This sweater is sized to fit bust 32 (34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50)”

Debbie isn’t the only designer contributing garments to this issue.

174468This fun Error Sweater was designed by Conway+Bliss. It is knit using Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarn. I would probably use the colors shown in the magazine, but it is available in 55 shades if you want to change things up.

You can see more Conway+Bliss patterns in our Free Pattern section. Look for more designs in the spring!

174479True Brit Knits contributed a pair of unisex sweaters, including the Pullover shown above and a V-Neck Cardigan. Both garments are knit using the new yarn Delphi, a 100% Cotton tape available in 12 colors.

Both garments are sized to fit bust/chest 32-34 (36-38, 40-42, 44-46)”

This is just a little taste of what you’ll see in this issue of Debbie Bliss Magazine. You can preview the other patterns on our website.

The issue is so new we haven’t had a chance to enter it into Ravelry yet! But that should happen soon.

Which pattern is your favorite in this issue?

We only started on Wednesday, but how is your Noro Heart blanket coming along?

Some of you are probably a few squares in already, while others might be at the start of the heart motif scratching your heads.

Don’t worry, intarsia is easier to knit than you think! In this blog post I will review some of the basics. If you’re still confused, you can probably get a lesson at your local yarn store. That will allow you to see the technique worked in person, and give you a chance to ask questions in real-time.

IMG_6744_2Intarsia is sometimes called “picture knitting” because the technique allows you to drop a motif into your knitting.

Compared to Fair Isle or stranded knitting, when working intarsia you knit isolated blocks of colors.

I selected this heart for the discussion because the natural flow of the Noro colors helps highlight the different sections.

Intarsia heartThis heart is knit using Kureyon color 340 for the background and 350 for the heart.

How many yarn ends?

The first thing to do when you start an intarsia project is to determine where your color changes are and how many pieces of yarn you’ll need. To do this, follow the path of the yarn by tracing your finger over the chart. When you first reach a new color section, that will be a new piece of yarn.

Keep in mind that once you have a color established you can usually continue to use it for a large section.

In my sample heart above, you can see that I cast on using B1 (background 1) and knit with it until I reached the heart (H1).

At that point, I got the ball of yarn for my heart color (H1) and knit the one stitch for the bottom point of the heart.

The left side of the heart returns to the background color, but with a new length of yarn (B2).

There are now three pieces of yarn in play. B1, H1, and B2. I used those three strands of yarn all the way through the block until I reached the top V in the heart.

At that point, I introduced a third strand of the background color, B3. It turned out to be dark purple, but I figure it will blend with the overall blanket when it is done.

Because of the break from starting the “shaping” for the top of the heart, I needed a new strand of heart color yarn, H2.

I now have 5 tails of yarn in play: B1, H1, B3, H2, and B2. That is the order in which they will be handled on a right side row. It is reversed on a wrong side row.

This might all sound complicated, but it will make sense as you are knitting. For most of the time you are dealing with one strand of yarn. It is just when the colors meet and cross that you have to worry about managing two colors.

Check out this tip from Webs for keeping your place in a chart.

IMG_6746Here is a picture of the wrong side of the same heart. You can see where the colors were started and stopped for each section. The little half-moons are where the yarns are crossed at the color changes.

Crossing Colors

It is important to pay attention at the point where you change colors. There is a potential for a little hole to develop at that junction.

In order to prevent the hole, and keep your fabric nice, there is a special way to cross the colors.

To work the color cross on a knit row you pick up the new yarn from the right and underneath the current yarn. Stated another way, when you get to the stitch where the color change happens pull the current yarn to the left, then grab the new yarn and pull it to the right and over the top of the old yarn.

My pictures show the process on the purl side because I think it’s easier to see what is happening, but the principle is the same on the knit side.

IMG_6461In this picture I’m knitting the second row of the heart. I need three green stitches in the center of the block.

I purl using the grey (B2 because it’s a wrong side row), until I reach the heart. Then I drop the grey (B2) and pick up the green heart yarn (H1), making sure they wrap around each other. I’m going to leave the grey yarn just where it is while I pick up the green yarn and just work a purl stitch.

IMG_6462_2After I work the three heart stitches I return to my background color, B1 in this case. In this second picture you can see I’ve already trapped the green yarn as I’m working my stitch.

When you change colors, give them a little tug to take up the slack, but not too much or your stitches will end up distorted.

I made this little video back in 2013 demonstrating the technique using an argyle cowl. Again, I’m working a purl row. I look a little awkward in the video, but remember that I’m reaching around a camera and I’m trying to use slow, exaggerated motions so you can see what is going on!

Bobbins or Balls?

Now, all my talk earlier about having 5 tails of yarn in play at once might have you wondering about yarn management.

Personally, I’ve just been using the full balls of yarn. I use both ends of one ball for the background colors, then introduce a third ball for the small V section. I’m also using both ends of a single ball for the heart.

The squares are small enough that the balls haven’t gotten terribly tangled. By the time things get ugly, I’m already done a section and able to cut the ball loose.

IMG_6751_2You, however, might not be feeling so cavalier. You might prefer to have lengths of yarn, which will be easier to manage than full balls.

There was a moment, a very brief moment, when I thought I’d knit a square, unravel it, and measure each section so I could tell you an estimate of how many yards you’d need.

I hope you, as a fellow knitter, can appreciate that I couldn’t bring myself to destroy (and re-knit!) one of my lovely blocks. If you do it, please report back to the group!

As you can see, each section takes most of a color run. You might be safe isolating the sections.

Once you decide how long to make your length of yarn, you can either let it hang free, which will be easy to untangle, or you can make a yarn butterfly by wrapping the yarn around your fingers. Video showing how to make a yarn butterfly.

Webs has a tip for managing yarn tails, too.

Check out this blog post for a discussion of yarn bobbins and butterflies.

Don’t be afraid of trying out intarsia. You have to start somewhere! Challenging ourselves with new knitting techniques keeps our minds sharp and gives us a sense of accomplishment.

What tips do you have for making intarsia easier to knit?

Welcome to the official start of the Noro Heart Blanket Knit Along!

Are you ready to cast on?

Don’t worry if you are not ready. Since this is a virtual knit along you can jump in any time and work at your own pace. The blog posts will be available to read when you’re ready.

The knit along is running from January 14 through February 14, but if you have questions after that you can still leave a comment. I receive an email notification when there is a new comment so you won’t be overlooked.

172843During the course of the Noro Heart Blanket Knit Along, Karen and I will be writing blog posts with the goal of providing food for thought and tips to help make your blanket a success.

Today I will be sharing ideas for alternate construction methods. Tomorrow I’ll cover some intarsia basics.

Other planned topics include:

  • Intarsia vs Stranded in terms of knitting this blanket
  • Weaving in ends
  • Blocking your blocks
  • Seaming

We can add other topics based on your questions and comments as the KAL progresses. We encourage you to share you own tips, suggestions, and observations in the comments! You might look at things in a different way than us that could benefit someone else.

Construction 1: Motifs

The pattern instructs you to knit the required number of squares then arrange them “as desired” and seam them together.

There are some advantages to this method.

  • The project is very portable since you only have to carry enough yarn for one or two small squares
  • Working individual squares means you won’t end up trying to manipulate a big blanket as you’re knitting
  • Fewer bobbins to get tangled up as you’re knitting
  • Since two background colors are used, you get to decide how the colors will be arranged in the final blanket.

The downside of working motifs is that you then have to sew them all together at the end! When I first saw the pattern I thought, “If I wait until the end I won’t end up with a beautiful blanket. I’ll have a project bag of shame at the bottom of my closet.”

So I started pondering alternative constructions.

Construction 2: Strips–Vertical or Horizontal

Nancy at Common Threads, a yarn store in California, started knitting her blanket back in November when Noro Knitting Magazine issue 5 first came out.

You can see her project on Ravelry.

She decided to knit her blanket in vertical strips that are each two squares wide. As she says in her project notes, that leaves her with just two, long seams to sew.

That sounds like a pretty good idea to me! Two squares wide would still be a manageable size. You can, of course, alter your width as you see fit.

When I was first contemplating the pattern, I tried to figure out whether it would be possible to cast on the entire width of the blanket. I thought I could place stitch markers to designate each block across. What I couldn’t decide was how many balls to use as I cast on and where the separations would be.

Keep in mind, the flow of the colors will change greatly between the small area of a single square or the wider area of multiple squares worked in sequence.

Having worked several squares individually, I’ve decided I enjoy having the flexibility to arrange the background colors, rather than falling into the habit of taking the colors as they come along without thinking about it. (As I fear I would if I was knitting a continuous strip. Your mind might work differently than mine!)

IMG_6551Construction 3: Provisional Cast On, No Bind Off, and Grafting

Karen and I have both come to the conclusion that binding off each square seems like a bit of a waste.

Sure, we’ll have to attach the squares on the side using mattress stitch, but it seems that the top to bottom seam should have more options.

With some planning, either Kitchener Stitch or a three-needle bind-off should both be viable ways to connect the squares vertically.

You can use a provisional cast on, either a crochet chain or Judy’s Magic Cast On seem most logical. Instead of binding off, place the last row of stitches on a piece of scrap yarn.

When you’re ready to seam the blanket you just pop the live stitches onto a pair of knitting needles and graft away. It seems much easier, and less bulky, than seaming over the ridges from the cast on and bind off edges.

You will also still have the option of arranging the squares in a pleasing manner, as the pattern originally directs.

There is a small edging worked around the blanket at the end, so having the live stitches at the top and bottom will save having to pick up stitches in those areas.

Check out this YouTube video from Webs showing how to work a provisional cast on. They use a crochet hook to work it straight onto the knitting needle. That seems easier than the crochet chain method I usually use!

How will your blanket grow?

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought as you prepare to start your blanket.

Which method do you think you’ll use? Closed motifs, strips, or open motifs for grafting?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Stay Connected

Come join the conversation in the Nuts for Noro Group on Ravelry. We’ve been brainstorming about blanket construction and how we want to use our background colors.

Remember to link your blanket to the Heart Blanket entry on Ravelry, and post pictures of your progress so we can all admire it.

If you’re on Instagram, remember to use the hashtag #noroheartkal so it’s easy for people to see your squares.

The other day I saw a Huffington Post headline that read:

How To Prevent A Cold: Wear A Scarf And Keep Cosy

It was a little too late for me, since I already felt the tell-tale scratchy feeling at the back of my throat, but I click through to the article anyway.

The article was about new research from Yale University that shows the rhinovirus reproduces better in your nose because it’s cooler than the rest of your body.

This is the sentence that really caught my eye:

The finding not only proves that people are more likely to catch a cold in cool-weather conditions, but it also shows that wearing a scarf around your face could be the key to tackling illness this winter.

It’s an excuse to knit or crochet a new scarf! (Like we need an excuse.)

Knitters and crocheters tend to fall into two scarf camps: either they have a basketful from which they can select, or they don’t have any because they give them all away.

How is your scarf supply?

Get some inspiration from these patterns, then head to your local yarn store for supplies. Euro Baby maypole scarfThis hat and scarf set from Euro Baby has enough texture to keep your attention. Maypole is a chunky, machine washable, self-striping yarn that makes this project look more complicated than it is.

Debbie Bliss Bobble ScarfThe Bobble Scarf from the “Simple Knits” book by Debbie Bliss is an interesting use of color and texture. It is knit using two shades of her Blue Faced Leicester Aran yarn, a breed-specific, 100% wool yarn available in over 20 color.

Araucania Cheveron LaceI love the sharp contrast between the hot pink and the brown Huasco Worsted yarn in this Araucania Chevron Lace Scarf. The chevron stitch is fun to knit, too!

Don’t worry if you aren’t as enamored with the bright pink. Huasco Worsted comes in more mellow colors, too.

Louisa Harding HedgerowSpeaking of bright colors, the Hedgerow scarf from the Louisa Harding Esquel book is shown in a vibrant shade of orange that will brighten up a gloomy winter day. I love the leaf motif, too!

Esquel yarn is a super yummy, 60% Merino Wool, 20% Wool, 20% Llama, 20% Silk blend that has been very popular. It is available in 20 colors, if orange doesn’t make your needles twitch.

JMF Etch scarfIf you’re looking for unisex options, the Etch scarf from Juniper Moon Farm could be just the ticket. The woven look of the cables is very interesting.

Etch is knit using Juniper Moon Farm Herriot Great yarn, a 100% Baby Alpaca available in 12 colors. The scarf version takes three hands and the wrap version uses five.

Mirasol Paqu Pura cowlOk, this Mirasol pattern is actually a cowl, but cowls can keep you nice and warm, too. One of the nice things about cowls is they stay put!

This set takes two hanks of Paqu Pura yarn, a 100% Peruvian Alpaca yarn available in 15 colors. (Don’t forget that Mirasol purchases support a school for children of shepherds in Peru, too!)

Noro Reversible cowlI haven’t forgotten you crocheters! This beautiful Reversible Cowl is one of the crochet patterns in issue 5 of Noro Knitting Magazine.

It uses a combination of Silk Garden Lite and Silk Garden Solo yarn for the color contrast.

Want even more inspiration? Check out my Scarf Bundle on Ravelry. I’ve added more patterns to my Cowl Bundle, too.

NORO_Ravelry Banner-07

We’re excited to announce a virtual knit along for the beautiful Heart Blanket in Noro Knitting Magazine issue 5, starting January 14, 2015!

What is a “virtual knit along”? We’ll all be working on the same project at the same time in the comfort of our own homes. We’ll be sharing our progress here on the blog, on Instagram, on our Facebook page, and on Ravelry.

Local yarn stores might also be holding events related to the knit along!

Add the Heart Blanket to your Ravelry queue.

172843Karen and I both fell in love (pun intended!) with this pattern as soon as we saw it.

The blanket is knit using three colors of Noro Kureyon yarn. Kureyon is a hearty, worsted weight, 100% Wool yarn that is available in over 30 awesome colorways.

Heart Blanket Pattern Details

Pattern: Heart Blanket (#33) designed by Bonnie Franz from Noro Knitting Magazine issue 5.

Finished measurements: 51″ x 56″

Materials: Noro Kureyon- 7 skeins #102 (A); 6 skeins EACH #344 (B) & #343 (C)
US size 8 needles
Gauge: 15 sts and 22 rows= 4″ over St st

The blanket is shown in the magazine with mostly traditional red and pink hearts from color 102, but there is no reason not to go a little wild!

IMG_6480I have been knitting hearts using color 340-Ecru, Lime, Brown, Caramel as my Heart color and they are stunning!

The green is also a better match for the decor in my living room!

You can find more inspiration in the wonderful colors being used by people at Common Threads (Ravelry link), a yarn shop in California.

IMG_6500_2The blanket is rated “easy” in the magazine, which is defined as “basic stitches, minimal shaping, and simple finishing.”

As you can probably tell, the blocks are knit using the intarsia method. This will be a great project to practice this technique as there are only a few places where you need to add in a new color.

Karen and I will also be sharing tips during the course of the knit along here on the blog to help you be successful!

You’ll also be able to ask questions in the blog comments if you get stuck.

How can you participate?

Head to your local yarn store for supplies!

We’ve made the single pattern available digitally for the duration of the knit along (until Feb 28, 2015). However, this is another great issue of Noro Knitting Magazine, so you might want to just get the magazine instead.

The staff at your local yarn store can help you select the Kureyon colors that will make your heart sing.

Then be ready to cast on your first block on Wednesday, January 14. We look forward to seeing your pictures!

It’s that time of the year.

Time for knitters and crocheters to start kicking themselves for not starting their gift projects earlier.

Time for bleary eyes and strained wrists as they stitch frantically into the night trying to finish up that last hat or a second sock.

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Don’t let the stress ruin your holiday or lead to injury!

In keeping with my annual tradition, I offer you these Unfinished Gift Letters to include in the box as a way of explaining just what happened.

Click on the image of the version you want (knit or crochet, or both!). This will change the screen so you see a bigger version. Print the letter as you normally would. (They look really small on a mobile device, but they’ll be the correct size on a normal computer.)

This one is for knitters.

Knit version

Knit version

Print it out and fill in the blanks!

This one is for crocheters.

Crochet version

Crochet version

As for those unfinished gifts…you can start earlier next year!

Please Accept This Unfinished Gift

My Dearest [insert loved ones name]:

Enclosed please find the [scarf/hat/socks/gloves/sweater] I’ve been making for you. The yarn and project were carefully selected with you in mind.

It isn’t finished because my ambition outstripped my [knitting/crocheting] time.

Please know that I’ve spent many evenings of late, thinking of you fondly, as I worked on this project. There is love in every stitch.

I know you are disappointed that you won’t get to start using it right away. Believe me so am I! There is nothing that makes a [knitter/crocheter] as happy as seeing the [scarf/hat/socks/gloves/sweater] they made put to good use.

Now that you’ve admired your present, please return it to me so I can get back to work. I can’t tell you when it will be done, but I promise it will be soon. Definitely before next [insert gift giving occasion]!

All my love,

[your name here]