Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Karen and Cassy

Colleen and I celebrated our birthdays this summer and are now in the midst of some required physical maintenance. While we are recuperating and Sarah Jo is apprenticing in Ohio, we are relying heavily on the talents of Karen and Cassy. If you haven't met them yet you will really enjoy them. Both are U. of A. students with different backgrounds and talents. They are both hard workers, very responsible young women and great enthusiastic knitters. Karen is KKPwnall on Ravelry and has a blog and Cassy is casystotyle on Ravelry and her blog is Two cool girls, two cool styles.

So, Block Ave. is getting a tune up, Colleen and I are getting improved parts and knitting goes on! Karen and Cassie are minding our continued "sidewalk" sale to make room or new yarn. It's starting to arrive along with new ideas for fall, holiday projects and gifts.

I hope you hang in there with us - your support is so precious. Drop in and have a chat and a knit with Karen and Cassy!

Love ya,

Friday, July 16, 2010

Knitting challenges

Last night we convened for our weekly wonderful customer social knitting/crochet group at the shop. We meet from 6:00 - 8:00 every Thursday. Karen took a picture of the gathering. We had birthday treats, some wine, and some great people.

Ideas, inspiration, and skills were shared among the range of novice to experienced knitters. One topic that came up was the notion that there are some folks out there who are intimidated by our shop's specialty - they don't know enough about knitting or crocheting to be one of "us". That makes me sad, 'cause I've always thought our mission was to provide, not only quality materials and tools, but the help with that stuff - no experience required. We provide the support that a general craft store cannot: learn to knit and crochet classes, project classes, drop-in help, answering quick questions, hand holding, as well as bringing together a community of knitters and crocheters that help one another.

For example, I was sitting next to Amy who was finishing up her summer lace, a fabulous form-fitting Vogue cover-up, and she needed help on the crochet edge. Tracie coached her on the first step and she then asked me if she was doing the crab stitch correctly. Well, I can't crochet my way out a paper bag, so I went to get Knitter's Companion for a reference. Sadly, we were sold out. So, I asked Barbara if she knew how to do that stitch. She sat with Amy for the duration and then Amy modeled the finished garment! Voila!

In addition, Jane was teaching how to knit lace, while I coached Andrea, who knows how to stand on her head (which is much harder), on some new stitch patterns. These are just of few of my observations. My point is that all it take is the desire to learn. Knitting and crocheting are not "hard". Life is hard and we're all doing that successfully - sometimes better on a particular day than the next - but we can do knitting an crocheting together and help each other along the way with all the rest, too!

Love you guys!

Friday, June 18, 2010

We're Having Fun Now

Despite what it looks like in this picture of Sarah Jo,we worked really hard at Market. Sarah Jo got her feet wet in the design world before she left for her apprenticeship with Shannon Oakey. Joy and I combed the vendor booths for the best of all the yarn choices for fall and winter. It's always so exciting to see all there is out there. We feel really confident that we made some really great buys this season. We also met some fabulous people, including Grace Anna Farrow, and Amy Butler. We had lunch with Amy, and are very excited to be offering her complete line of new yarns and designs this fall. Just stay tuned for an upcoming event featuring it. Amy gave us lots of ideas and in addition to being inspirational, is a very nice person. That goes ditto for Grace Anna . We will be featuring her designs also and are going to add Isager wool that she uses in her most recent book. It is a wonderfully dyed, incredibly drapey , lightweight wool, that makes the most of her spectacular shawl designs. If you have been around the shop lately you've heard many of us ooing and aahing over her designs.
Though the heat is raging, my mind is on fall and all the shop goings on that will be upcoming. We have some wonderful classes planned so don't forget to check our website and newsletter for updates. We are in the midst of updating our website so if it seems lacking or you can't get there for a little bit, try again. We will soon have a new webmaster and despite my lack of web knowledge I feel confident it will be more up to date and easier to view.
World Wide Knit in Public Day was over 90 degrees in this part of the world but a few brave souls showed up on the Fayetteville Square and showed all the Farmers Market crowd how portable and beautiful knitting can be. We held a raffle that day for a Knit Kit and the winner was one of our new knitters. That was just perfect, because she can now move on to her next project with a lot of new tools to help her. For those of you who don't know the Knit Kit is a compact little case that has wonderful things included in it like stitch markers, scissors, point protectors, tape measure, and much more. You just throw it in your bag and end the constant searching around for the tools you need.
I hope you all make it down to the shop this season and start planning those Holiday knitting gifts, as you know ,it's never too soon to start. And I promise you will be pleased with the selections we have made for this fall.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Join us on Saturday June 19th for World Wide Knit in Public Day. We'll be swarming the Fayetteville Square during the Farmer's Market - no particular gathering place, just form groups as you please. Bring a chair, your knitting and a friend, and don't forget to stop by Hand Held to enter a raffle. We had lots of fun last year, so come by!

Also, our yarn of the month is Koigu!

It's 20% off for the month of June, and we have lots of lovely colours - and some great patterns from Churchmouse. There's a Linen Stitch Scarf, a cute Beaded Beret, and a ruffle scarf.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Knitting Art

Knit graffiti!

Go check out the Fayetteville Square (i would suggest soon, as we don't know how long it'll be up). We covered 3 sides of the Square and all the light poles in front of the Towne Center.

The Tuesday Stitch 'n' Bitchers and Hand Held coordinated on this, as well as a First Thursday display in the shop of Cynthia Parker's mad knitting skilz. We're convening at Hand Held for that and partay tonight from 6-8.

See you there!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March in Seattle

Don't I look happy? And why shouldn't I? I'm on a ferry going from Seattle to Bainbridge Island to see Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. That was just one of the wonderful things that Joy and I did while visiting Seattle for the Yarn Market News Business Conference. We saw and learned lots. Hopefully you will see some of the things we've learned in a future trip to the shop. We are always trying to find ways to make our shop and your shopping experience a little better. Our collective minds have been buzzing about the upcoming season and we will be letting you know about some of the classes and events we will be having soon. Meanwhile remember there are a few more days left of Noro Month and we have 2 yarns featured this week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tiedyed Colours and Travel Plans

Behold, the contents of the 3 giant boxes that came in Tuesday!

Louisa Harding Mulberry, a 100% DK weight silk (along with a book full of gorgeous patterns)

Elsebeth Lavold Cool Wool, a worsted weight 50/50 wool/cotton blend in an array of colours

Supersocke from On Line, a self-patterning sock yarn that's 20% angora. The photo can't begin to convey the buttery softness

And that's not even all of it!

This week's 25% off Noro yarn is Sekku, a classically-Noro-striping lace weight

Joy and Colleen are off to a Yarn Market News Conference in Seattle this Saturday through Wednesday, but i'll be holding down the fort til they get back. Colleen's taking along a vest made from a new Araucania cotton laceweight

Friday, March 5, 2010

A(n almost) Spring Rainbow!

The votes are in, and the winner is... Noro Silk Garden! 72% of those that voted preferred Silk Garden, followed by 27% for "one Hand Held doesn't carry" (if Ya'll could elaborate on that in the form of a comment, it would be appreciated), and Kureyon and Taiyo tied at 18%.

As You may know, March is Noro Month here at Hand Held. We'll be hosting several brightly-coloured events throughout the month - i believe tomorrow's slipped stitch hat class is full, but we still have the pattern (and yarn, of course) available, and if You've always wanted to try entralac but never have, we've got a class for that on the 27th!

Each week we'll have a different Noro yarn on sale - check Your inbox for newsletter updates.

This week's is Kureyon - for one more day, it's 25% off!

Joy has been having fun with Taiyo. This sweater is from Noro Flowers book 4.

And, not Noro but perfect for spring, we're getting in some wonderful new summer yarns! Amoung them, Jil Eaton Cottontail

and beautiful lacy scarf kits from Jade Sapphire

with more coming every day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Socks - Top Down vs. Toe Up

The results of last week's poll are:
44% use DPNs, 44% prefer 2 circs, and a lonely 11% responded with Magic Loop! i must confess myself surprised by the results.

A note on the following article: the toe up method that i use is not... normal. Most toe up socks have short-row toes and heels, which i'll talk about later, but the pictured example has a "star" or "Turkish" toe and heel.

Let's talk about the more common method of construction first: top down. A top down sock is cast on at the upper edge, the cuff and leg are then constructed, followed by a heel flap, a heel turn and a gusset, and finished with a foot and a toe.

The following sock is top down, with a flap-and-gusset heel, and a wedge toe finished in Kitchener.

The pros: Top down patterns are more readily available, the sock is constructed more logically, and it's easy to try on as You go (You'll know within inches if Your cuff will fit, and You can put it on to check foot length)

The cons: Heel turns can be mystifying and heel flaps maddening to some. Alternative heels are available, such as short-row and afterthought, but You may have to adapt Your pattern. Yardage needed is difficult to determine as You won't know You don't have enough yarn until You run out half-way down the foot of Your second sock, and unless You want a lumpy toe (i learned to accept this a long time ago) You must do Kitchener Stitch to close the toe.

An excellent book on top down socks is Cookie A's Sock Innovation. The example sock was knitted with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock using the Twists and Turns sock pattern in Shannon Okey's How to Knit in the Woods.

Toe up socks begin with either a short-row toe or only a few stitches worked circularly outward, followed by the foot and short-row or Turkish heel, then leg and cuff.

The following sock is toe up using Cat Bordhi's Personal Footprint method, with a Turkish toe and heel.

The pros: No Kitchener stitch is needed, if You want to economize yarn You can divide Your skein in half then knit each cuff until You run out of yarn and, along those lines, if You get tired of knitting or are doing a rush job, You can stop sooner than the pattern suggests.

The cons: Toe up socks are harder to fit as You go and many people find the short-rows required for toe and heel confusing (some patterns do have a gusset and heel flap but those patterns are few and far between), and it is imperative to work a stretchy bind off if You want to be able to wear the socks.

A good book for learning toe up socks is Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy D Johnson. The pattern for the photographed sock is Bumpy Socks from Cat Bordhi's Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters with Colinette Jitterbug.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Socks - DPNs vs. 2 Circs

Knitted socks have been around for a long time. While non-knitters and even some in the knitting community don't understand the purpose of labouring long hours to make something that can be purchased in packs of 5 for 2 dollars, those of us who have tried it know better. It's not about economy of time or money - it's about enjoyment... the beautiful yarns, the delicious patterns, and the way they just feel better on Your feet.

While there are many techniques employed in making socks, i'll focus on just two today. i'm a 2 circs girl, but i'll try to be objective. :)

Let's start with DPNs. Double pointed needles are the traditional way to go. Using 4 or 5 long "toothpicks", one travels in a triangle (or square) around the outside of the sock using the 4th (or 5th) "free" needle to knit with.

Pros include: Most sock patterns are written for DPNs and will detail set-up (so many stitches on each needle, chart breaks, and so on). i would also guess (but i'm putting up a poll to confirm, so please vote!) that there are more sock knitters out there who use DPNS, so if You get into trouble it may be easier to find someone who can help You. And knitting with a bristling wreath may allow You to knit in peace. ;)

Cons are: If You're not paying attention, it is unhappily easy to pull out a needle instead of using Your free one, thereby forcing You to rescue a lot of tiny loose stitches. Along the same lines, if You toss the sock haphazardly into Your knitting bag You are liable to lose a needle (there are, at least, devices made for safe containment during transit). Also, the more needles that are involved in a project, the more places You can have ladders, pesky spaces created by the gap where two needles join.

Star-student Jessie (who learned to knit at January's LTK class) demonstrates how to knit socks on double points at our class Saturday:

When using 2 circs, the stitches are evenly divided between two circular needles - You then knit with one set of needles at a time.

Pros: With only two points of join and the fact that the cable is thinner than the actual needle (enabling You to pull needle-transition stitches tighter) there is less likelihood of developing ladders. The length of the cable also means that Your stitches are more likely to stay put - You can tie the cord in a knot, if it makes You feel safer. And finally, since everything is hooked together You won't drop a needle, making it easier to knit while waiting in line or sitting somewhere You don't want to lose a needle, like an airplane or a movie theatre.

Cons, however, are: Since most sock patterns are written for double points, You will likely have to translate Your pattern from a number designed to be divided by 3 to one divided by 2. It is possible as well to knit with the wrong needle, producing one free circular and a convoluted S-twist. And circular needles themselves are more expensive, especially when You have to buy 2 sets (this is particularly bad if You only knit socks with needles that size - otherwise You can get 2 different lengths and use them for other projects).

Another recent convert to sock knitting works with 2 circs:

Next week, we'll discuss top-down vs. toe-up!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, All!

Love - Joy, Colleen, Sasha, and Sarah Jo!

Watch for details on our upcoming sale, and in the meantime, enjoy this pattern!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spinning Their Wheels

Over the weekend, Cecilia Jaffe from the local spinning guild taught a 2 day workshop at the store on her craft.

The parts of the wheel were discussed

As was proper care. A "thirsty" wheel will squeak and split, so everyone got down to oil their wheels.

Since feeding the fiber while treadling is akin to rubbing Your stomach while patting Your head, treadling was practiced first.

Then the fiber was "attenuated" to make the spinning easier, and to produce a more even yarn.

The attenuated fluff was loosely twirled into "bird's nests"

Once the wheels' needs had been taken care of and the desires of the fiber listened to, the spinning began. Cecilia demonstrated first, to make it look easy

Then everyone else tried.

It was swiftly found to produce an intense desire for alcoholic beverages - cookies and books on spinning were an inadequate substitute.

Day 2 began with plying the yarn, then putting it in to soak.

Wet sheep smells almost as bad as wet dog,

And tends to get handled gingerly.

Coats were donned and everyone tromped outside. Cecilia demonstrated

Then everyone else gave it a go. (Yes, she is slapping a wet hank of yarn against a down-spout) This is an important step because, besides removing excess moisture, it also evens out the twist.

Cindy contemplated her attack

But Fawn dove in energetically.

The completed yarn was hung to dry while the class reviewed the more troublesome topics.

At times it was frustrating, and while these students may be producing "art yarn" for awhile, they've already boldly taken the first step toward becoming Spinners.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Wonderland

The snow has stopped falling, the sun is trying to come out, and it's beautiful weather for staying in and finishing up those pesky WIPs or diminishing Your stash. :)

On my back porch there are a 5 inches of snow.

Not sure how accurate that is. Since the wind was blowing yesterday, i suspect we probably got more.

Since going out is out of the question, i've been knitting. Here's the Sunday Sock Knitters' Mystery Stocking as far i can get it (Jane, is the heel going to be the main colour or the contrasting colour?). i enjoyed learning the mosaic stitch pattern.

An excellent stash-busting project for this sort of weather is Calorimetry, since it takes less than 100 yards of worsted weight yarn.

Have fun and stay warm!

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Year, New Knitters: part 2

Ah, the exciting day when one moves on from the pink swatch, and starts their very first hat! The delightful choice... which brim shall I do?

i think this class's favorite was the rolled brim. Then a color must be chosen
and the knitting begins!
Note that some are talking while knitting, and others have even dared to glance up from their work. These knitters are well on their way to both a warm winter hat, as well as a life long hobby (or erhm obsession, as is the case of some Learn to Knit graduates ;)

Sunday Sock Knitters' Knit A Long

The Sunday Sock Knitters (or SSK, for short) created by Juliann, met yesterday afternoon from 1-3. While we were founded as a yarn-and-pattern swap group, the supply of yarn and patterns is piling up, so we're taking a few months off and trying something new. Jane is kindly writing a mystery Christmas stocking pattern for us, which she's doling out a piece at a time. Ah, the suspense!

She went over the pattern with us (looking over the mountain of stash swap yarn on the table),
then assisted us through the concept of a bobble that wasn't knitted into your knitting (to be attached later jester-jingle-bellwise to the points on the cuff, if desired).
After that, we tackled the lace cuff
which has a respite of stockinette and ribbing before beginning the slipped-stitch panel. O_o More on that as knits warrant!