Gifts for Knitters

The holiday season is upon us! Make sure that your wish list has lots of options to help your loved ones find the perfect gift you’ll use again and again this year. Many non-knitters have a hard time picking things out for their crafty friends & family members, so we’ve made things easy by sharing some universal advice and creating this handy gift guide featuring some of our most popular products. All you have to do is the share this link as a subtle hint!

Louet Gift Guide

Idea #1: Pattern Books

Most knitters already have plenty of yarn, so an interesting book of patterns can help them put all of it to good use! This year, we published She Made Them Her Own: The Best of Trudy Van Stralen as an homage to the founder of Louet North America. Trudy’s timeless garments are sure to keep them knitting all year long!

We also have many more patterns available to purchase individually; we recommend checking out our collection of Gems patterns for wearable garments and accessories using our easy-care Gems superwash Purl & Loop Placemat Weaver, distributed by Louet North America.yarn!

Idea #2: Purl & Loop Weaving Looms

These user-friendly looms are a great introduction to weaving! As previously mentioned, most knitters have a LOT of yarn in their stash, and weaving is a great way to use up that stash to make room for more pretty skeins. Purl & Loop looms are the perfect way for knitters to give this craft a try. Check out this post on our blog which shares a few project ideas using these clever little looms!

a11f6140aae2a5ce_mediumIdea #3: Kollage Needle Sets

A well-crafted set of knitting needles can provide a lifetime of pleasurable knitting. Kollage needles (and crochet hooks!) come in a variety of options, from Double Pointed Needle (DPN) sets to Mini and Full Interchangeable sets, which ensure that they always have the size of needles they need for their next project.

For that special someone, you can go the extra mile by treating them to our Needle of the Month Club, which allows you to personalize their needles with their name or a special saying. Each month, a new pair of interchangeable tips will be delivered to their doorstep for their knitting pleasure. Click here to learn more about our 2017 Needle of the Month Club – but hurry, spots are limited!

Kollage Needle of the Month Club

Idea #4: A Little Spa Treatment

Soak Wool WashEvery crafter has use for a good wool wash, and Soak‘s no-rinse formula comes in a variety of wonderful-smelling scents to delight their senses! Handknits shouldn’t be the only thing enjoying the spa treatment, though: go the extra mile with Soak’s Heel and Handmaid to provide luxurious care for hardworking hands and feet.

From all of us at Louet North America, we wish you a happy holiday season!

 

Guest Post: Wee Weaving with Knitting Sarah

Knitting SarahOur guest blogger this month is Sarah Chy, a Wisconsin-based knitter, spinner, writer, and small-scale family adventurer. In today’s post, she shares her recent experiences weaving with Gems yarn on the Purl & Loop Wee Weaver, which Louet North America distributes throughout Canada. You can keep up with her latest crafty projects and family hijinks on her blog, knittingsarah.com.

I first started looking for small looms as a gift idea for my daughter’s 9th birthday. She knits & knows how to spin, however she has an impatient streak that often works against her. She still really wanted to join me in the fiber arts in some way, but we both recognized that at this stage knitting and spinning just weren’t quite the right fit for her. Having heard a lot of spinning friends talk about how speedy weaving is, I thought it was worth a shot to steer my girl toward a loom.

There are a lot of options out there on the market and as I was not a weaver myself, I did a lot of research. I was loath to spend a lot just for a taste of the craft, but it was important to me that the tools be good quality. I also knew that my very independent daughter might have a lukewarm reception for a complex warping process that required help from me. The ideal loom was one for which my daughter could just hit the ground running, that would allow her to do small projects, and that would insure that she could start and finish easily so her attention wouldn’t wane.

Purl & Loop Wee Weaver comes with everything you see here - distributed by Louet North America.Ultimately where I landed was with Purl & Loop’s Wee Weaver. It’s just 4” x 4.5” across and it comes in a kit that includes everything you need to get going (except the yarn).  A wood tapestry needle, pick up stick, comb, and metal tapestry needle are all included as is a handy little cotton carrying bag to keep everything together. As someone new to weaving, I really appreciate that I could get everything I needed in one spot. Even more importantly, though, the instructions are concise and well-written and accompanied by clear color photos. Simply put, it is a fantastic introductory loom.

Quite literally I did not have to lift a finger to help my daughter get started. Like many moms,  a little part of me wanted to be needed, but she read through the directions and then informed me she could handle it. She went on to warp her Wee Weaver easily in just a few minutes and was weaving effortlessly in no time. She couldn’t have been more proud and I felt like we’d made a great choice.

Start weaving right out of the bag!

Start weaving right out of the bag!

Of course I was happy to see my girl succeed and fall in love with weaving. What I didn’t expect was how quickly I fell in love, too. The Wee Weaver, it turns out, is the perfect loom to introduce anyone to weaving. As I watched my daughter whiz through her little squares and make fun plans as to how to use them, a whole new world opened before my eyes. Along with my loads of knitterly yarn scraps, the spinner in me saw unlimited potential for handspun yarns. The fiber artist in me knew I had to get my hands on a loom.

Purl & Loop Placemat Weaver, distributed by Louet North America.With the Wee Weaver such a hit, shortly after acquiring it we added a Purl & Loop Placemat Weaver to our collection. Getting the Placemat Weaver was primarily to give my daughter some more options in her craft. She was having a blast and I really wanted to encourage her. I’ll confess though that there might have been the slightest hint of selfish motivation. It wasn’t lost on me that her devoting attention to a new loom would free up the Wee Weaver for me and I definitely wanted a turn to play with it.

With my daughter busy with the Placemat Weaver, I thought it would be very fun to put this little loom through its paces and at the same time create some fun Christmas gifts. Louet’s Gems Worsted is a great fit for the Wee Weaver – the worsted weight insures projects will be quick and there are loads of colors to pick from to personalize your projects. I picked Brick Red, Fern Green, and Cobalt Blue, thinking these colors would have a Christmas feel that wasn’t so overpowering that they couldn’t be used all year round. And then I got weaving!

Mug Rugs woven on the Purl & Loop Wee Weaver with Louet's Gems Worsted yarn.

I started with some very basic fringed mug rugs. The instruction manual includes directions both for squares with fringe and without, so doing this was a snap. For fun, I made one mug rug with a green warp & red weft and one with a red warp & green weft. I think a set of four would make a great little handmade hostess gift or stocking stuffer. I could also see making individual, personalized ones for co-workers or even having kids make them themselves for their teachers. There are so many ways you could go!

Mug Rugs woven on the Purl & Loop Wee Weaver with Louet's Gems Worsted yarn.

I learned very quickly the not-too-loose and not-too-tight place that was just right for my warp. I discovered that weaving my weft in at a slight angle before combing it down helped to keep my edges nice and neat and that taking a little time to check on my edges throughout was well worth it. I also found it fun to experiment with how tightly you ‘beat’ the weft as it can really change the feel of the fabric. And that’s the great thing about the Wee Weaver, it’s a fantastic tool to just play & observe & try things out.

It's easy to make a mug rug with Purl & Loop's Wee Weaver!

With my mug rugs complete, I had another idea in mind to test. What about a coffee sleeve? I whipped up three identical fringeless squares, sewed them together, and voilá! A quick & easy coffee sleeve! I used my sewing machine to sew the squares together, but you could just as easily hand sew them. I especially love that thanks to the fact that Gems Worsted is machine washable & dryable, this sleeve is reusable and easy to care for – always an added bonus, especially when you’re making gifts.

Turn your Wee Weaver Squares into a useful coffee sleeve - visit the Louet blog for more project inspiration from Knitting Sarah!

I’m so very impressed with the mighty Wee Weaver. This loom that fits in the palm of my hand and is very reasonably priced has turned both my daughter and me into fully fledged weavers. Whether you just want a new tool to play with, you want an easy and fun way to make unique gifts, or you want to get a taste for weaving, young or old, the Wee Weaver is for you. Be prepared to fall in love with weaving – I think you will!

 

Personalized Kollage Knitting Needles

A Thank You Gift for Team Louet North America

Interchangeable Kollage Needles

As a special thank you to the members of Team Louet North America, who continued to hold the winning Spinzilla team title for the second year, Louet North America sent each team spinner a personalized Mini-Interchangeable set of Kollage Knitting Needles! Here you can see some of the needles from the production process.  This mini-interchangeable set includes 6 tips (US4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10), 3 firm cables (24″, 32″, 40″), cable ends, interchangeable tool, and instructions, all in a functional case. Personalization was chosen by each individual – there are Ravelry names, blog titles, and each set is truly unique!

Ashley's Kollage Needles Stefaniegrrr's Kollage Needles

Two have shared their new needles on Instagram, and we are looking forward to seeing more pictures tagged with #kollageneedles as the rest of the team receives their sets! We’re also looking forward to creating personalized needles for the 2017 Needle of the Month Club!

Kollage Needles: Make them your own!

Kollage Needle Colors

The Kollage Needle of the Month club is a gift that the knitter can look forward to receiving all year long. Each month of 2017, the recipient can look forward to a new square circular needle arriving in the mail. The color of each needle will change from month to month as well. Not sure how to personalize your set of Kollage Needles in our Needle of the Month Club? Here are a few ideas:

  • Best Knitter Ever!
  • #1 Knitter!
  • One Stitch at a Time
  • Swatch Master
  • “Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.”
  • Just keep knitting

Having new tools can inspire you to start a new project! With a full set of knitting needles, there are countless projects that can be started. The Needle of the Month club makes a great gift, don’t miss out on securing your spot by following this link to sign up today!

Dyeing 101 with Gaywool

There are a lot of dyes available to the hand dyer these days, but the diverse range of Gaywool Dyes are an ideal match for beginning dyers as well as experienced fiber artists. These user-friendly dyes come in a diverse selection of colors which are inspired by the colors of Tasmania.

In a later post, we’ll talk more about the Gaywool’s Acid Dye and Lanaset Dye ranges, which are best suited for intermediate and experienced dyers. Today, we will focus on Gaywool Originals & Bushblends, which are quick & easy to use and require very little clean-up – perfect for at-home and beginning dyers!

Basic Safety

  • Always wear gloves and a particle filter mask when handling dyes.
  • Turn off any fans and close nearby windows when mixing powder or crystal dyes.
  • Make sure your work area is well-ventilated; when cooking your dye baths, be sure to turn on vent fans and open a window.
  • Do not eat, drink or prepare food in your work area while you are preparing dyes.

Gaywool Originals Starter KitOriginal

This dye range offers 36 beautiful colors which are chemically based & complete – that is, the formulation includes the mordant and dyebath acidifier  that is necessary to produce true to type color fast dyeing. Originals are formulated specifically for raw or spun wool, but can also be used on cashmere, mohair, silk, nylon and fur – however, we do not recommend use on other synthetic fibers.

Dyes can be used for immersion, rainbow, microwave dyeing, also with steam set and direct application techniques (more on these techniques in a minute!).

Just getting started? We recommend the Gaywool Dyes Original Starter Kit!

Bushblends

These dyes offer fast results in just 30 minutes with a vibrant color range which can be strengthened or diluted to suit your preference. Bushblends contain everything you need to dye without messy mixing or weighing, and they are compatible with Gaywool Originals.

Depending on the strength of the shade, dyeing time varies between 15-30 minutes; the dye uptake is very quick and the dyebath has very little residue after exhaustion has completed.

Bushblend dyes work best on natural fibers such as wool, silk, angora and mohair, but can also be used on fur, feathers, nylon and nylon blend fibers, among other uses.

Dyes can be used in immersion dyeing, rainbow, microwave, and oven dyeing. They can also be applied using steam setting and direct application techniques.

Gaywool Bushblends Dye Color CardDyeing Resources

Here are some of our favorite dye tutorials to get you started:

Directions to use Orginals for Stove Top, Steam, Microwave, Random and Cold Water dye methods can be found here.

Directions to use Bushblends for Stove Top, Steam, Microwave, Random and Cold Water dye methods can be found here.

Follow us on Pinterest for more great dye inspiration!

Kollage Needles & Your Hands

Kollage Knitting Needles

 

Many knitters enjoy the act of knitting because it relaxes them. The repetitive motions that get knitters into that “groove” unfortunately cause aches and pains! If your hands hurt, working with your knitting needles and yarn is no longer going to be enjoyable!

 

How to Keep on Knitting!

What can you do to keep your hands ready for many more days and years of knitting? You need to consider more than just your hands! Before you settle in for an evening of knitting, consider the following. Where are you sitting? Are you curled up on a couch at awkward angles or in a seat that allows your arms, wrists, and hands to be in a neutral position? How are you sitting? Is your body scrunched up and hunched over your knitting, with lots of tension in your shoulders? What are you knitting with? Kollage Knitting Needles are made of aluminum and are available in a variety of needle sizes, both circulars, and double pointed needles. Plus, the unique square shape is easier for your hands to hold!

Knit with Kollage Knitting Needles

Take Care of Your Hands!

Listen to your hands and make sure to take breaks! Try a few of these stretches for your hands that are easy to do anywhere, shared by Knitting Daily

Wrist and Forearm Extensor/Flexor Table Stretches

Extensor Stretch: Sitting back from your desk, straighten your arms and hold your hands flat. Place the back of your hands along the edge of the table. Bending only at the wrist, with fingers pointing at the floor, press gently into the table edge.

Flexor Stretch: Sitting back from your desk or table, straighten your arms and hold your hands flat. Place your fingers along the edge of the table, bending only at the wrist, with fingers pointing at the ceiling. Press gently into the table edge.

 

Hands Tendon Glide Start with your wrists in a neutral position.

STEP 1: Extend your fingers apart and toward the back of your hand.
STEP 2: Relax the extension and curl the top segment of your fingers to the base of your fingers.
STEP 3: Repeat Step 1.
STEP 4: Relax the extension and fold your fingers to the base of your palm.
STEP 5: Repeat Step 1.
STEP 6: Make tight fists.
STEP 7: Repeat Step 1.

A New Kollage Knitting Needle Set

As mentioned above, working with a smooth, lighter weight needle may help. One of the most common things people say about the Kollage Square Knitting Needles is how they were able to knit longer (or even, in some cases start knitting again)! Click here to read Colleen’s testimonial about using Kollage needles after she experienced a repetitive motion injury.  A wonderful way in which you can treat yourself all year long is the first Needle of the Month Club!

Kollage Needle of the Month Club

As a member of the Needle of the Month Club, you will receive 12 Kollage square circular needles. One set of needles will be mailed to you each month, starting in January 2017. When you receive the final shipment in December 2017, you will have a complete set: US 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 in your choice of cable length. The needles will be colored, a different surprise each month. In addition, the needles can be engraved with your name! Click here to check out all the details and sign up today!

Thank You, Team Louet!

The results of Spinzilla 2016 are in, and we are pleased to say that Team Louet has successfully defended their title to win this year’s Golden Niddy Noddy! Here are the official results from Spinzilla.org:

5,525,309 yards of yarn spun!

Team Champion Louet North America, 296,849 yards

Rogue Champion Jeri Nokes, 28,592

Most Yarn Spun Monica Bittner, Team Louet North America, 50,378 yards

Thanks for taking your time to spin during Spinzilla!

We’re proud of this year’s Team Louet spinners; everyone has gone above and beyond to contribute to our team total of 296,849 yards. All we can say is WOW! Our top 3 spinners were Monica Bittner (50,378), Teresa Simons (35,690) and Alexis Borsboom 21,852). Everyone’s contribution made a huge difference in reaching this year’s goal. Thanks to each and every one of you!

teamphotocollage

This is our fourth year of participating in Spinzilla, and we thought it would be fun to share some of our team’s stats from the past four years:

updatedteamlouetinfographic

We look forward to seeing what everyone makes with their handspun yarn – all collective 789,273 yards of it! If you need some project inspiration, check out our Team Louet Spinzilla board here on Pinterest, where we have lots of pattern ideas, plus great fiber prep tips, spinning tutorials, and more.

Congratulations to all 2016 Spinzilla Spinners. See you next year!

Soft Yarn Doesn’t Always Have To Pill

Often, it seems like knitters have to make a choice between choosing a yarn which may feel soft in the skein but pills like crazy in the finished garment, or a more “rustic” yarn which trades softness for longevity. While there is a time and place for both ends of the spectrum in your yarn stash, there is a way to have your [yarn] cake and eat it, too: Louet Gems was designed to resist pilling to create garments that truly stand the test of time – without sacrificing softness!

gems

Many years ago, Trudy Van Stralen wanted to create a 100% merino yarn that was easy to care for; after much experimentation with spinning and twist, she came up with what is now known as Gems yarn. This custom-milled yarn is worsted spun with a tight twist to minimize pilling while maintaining a high elasticity. Gems is then steamed for the softest touch, a quality that was very important to Trudy, as she wanted this yarn to be a delight to not only work with, but wear! As an added bonus, the combination of twist and steam allows for excellent stitch definition. And did we mention that Gems is also machine washable?

Here, we have two swatches knit from the same skein of Gems yarn; one has been hand washed and one has been machine washed and dried. Can you tell the difference?

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If you happen to be making a project to gift, you want to make sure that it will be properly taken care of by the person you are making it for – and let’s face it, not everyone is on board to hand wash, nor will they remember to do so when the time comes! This is where a good superwash yarn such as Gems can really save the day, because it can be tossed in the washing machine without fear of coming out ten sizes smaller than it started out.

We know that a lot of knitters still prefer to hand wash their projects made from superwash yarns – and that’s ok! Whether you machine wash or hand wash your garment over time, it will still look great, especially in those “high friction” areas such as the underarms of sweaters. Here is one sweater knit in Gems that is over two years old and has enjoyed regular wear during each fall and winter season (not to mention, a machine wash or two):

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This garment has yet to require a de-pilling session – and if you’re wondering, this photo has not been retouched!

We’d love to see your own photos of projects made with Gems yarn, whether they’re newly finished or freshly unpacked for yet another season of wear. You can use the #louetnorthamerica hashtag on social media or click here check out our Ravelry group!

Dye & Prep to Spin with Louet & Gaywool Dyes

Spinzilla is fast approaching, and now is the perfect time to prep your fiber for easy spinning! Click here for our previous post which covers more ideas for fast-spinning fiber preparation; today, we’ll focus on dyeing natural colored spinning fiber with user-friendly Gaywool dye to make striped rolags on the Louet blending board.

Supplies:

Prepare to Dye

Since we are planning to make striped rolags with one color that will be more dominant than the other, you will want to divide your fiber into two sections for each color. Color A (shown here in Iceberg) will be approximately 2/3 of the fiber your have on hand to dye; Color B (shown here in Rosemary) will be 1/3 of the fiber. Be sure to write down the exact weight of each set of fiber, because this will help you to determine how much dye to use in your bath later on.

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Your fiber will best absorb the dye if you soak it in warm, soapy water ahead of time. Fill a sink or basin with enough water to submerge your fiber, and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. Carefully squeeze to remove excess water from fiber before proceeding to the next step.

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While your fiber soaks, begin heating up the water in your crock pot or stock pot for the dye bath (make sure to use enough water to cover your fiber sufficiently. Dissolve dye in hot water according to directions on the package, add to dye bath and stir.

Time to Dye

Add fiber to dye bath and allow water to come to a boil. Gently move the fiber around in the dye bath using tongs, being careful not to felt – this allows the dye to be worked through more uniformly. If you prefer a more kettle-dyed effect, you can opt to move fiber less, though we do not recommend skipping this step entirely.

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After 15-30 minutes, remove fiber from dye bath – you may wish to allow dye bath and fiber to cool down before handling fiber. Be sure to wear protective gloves to prevent dye from being transferred to your hands. Rinse fiber in warm water and allow to dry.

img_2649

Time to Blend

Once the fiber is completely dry, it’s time to start making your rolags on your blending board! For this project, Color A was added to the left and right sides of the blending board, with a section of Color B in the middle, using the width of the opening for the handle as a guide.

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Blend as many rolags as you desire, or until you run out of fiber! Then, be sure to store in a plastic bag or bin to keep safe from pests until it’s time to spin.

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Be sure to share your Spinzilla fiber prep with us on your social media of choice! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry!

Kollage Needles and Swatching

Smart Swatching

You’ve picked up a new skein of yarn, you’ve found a great project (check out Stacey’s post for tips!), you’ve got your needles and are ready to go! But wait! Did you swatch for gauge? Smart knitters know this is a key step!
Kollage Needles and Swatching What’s gauge? Gauge is your measurement of how many stitches and rows per inch your knitting produces with that particular combination of yarn and needles. It gives you an idea of what to expect from your finished project. When knitting with Kollage Square Needles, the square shape of the needle shaft can also impact your gauge.

Swatch SetOne knitter here at Louet North America knit three swatches from a skein of Louet Gems Worsted. Each swatch was 40 stitches across and 36 rows tall and knit on a US6 (4.00mm) needle. Each swatch sat for 20 minutes in warm water and laid flat to dry. A difference was noticed immediately after the swatches were complete and laid next to each other.

Here’s the gauge for each swatch:

  • Kollage Square needles: 20.5 stitches &  31 rows per 4″
  • Round bamboo needles: 19.5 stitches & 29 rows per 4″
  • Round metal needles: 19 stitches & 30 rows per 4″

If her pattern called for a blocked gauge of 4 stitches per inch, and she planned to use Kollage Needles, she’d have to swatch again with a larger needle!

The square shape can take some getting used to, so swatching also allows the muscles in your hands and arms to relax into the rhythm of making the stitches. You will want to treat your swatch the way you will make and treat your finished project. If it’s knit in the round, swatch in the round! Will your project be hand-wash / lay flat to dry or tossed in the washing machine and dryer? Also, always knit your swatch with the same needles you plan to use for the project!

What Knitters Are Saying

Kollage Needles Reviews

The best information comes from folks who are using the materials. Hearing from knitters who are dealing with arthritis are able to knit again, and for longer lengths of time, thanks to Kollage Square Needles brightens our day! We have now set up a Kollage Needles testimonial page. Your feedback is important to us and helps us to make these special needles even better. Email your experience to Dave@louet.com!

Let’s connect! You can find Kollage Needles on Instagram, Facebook, and are welcome to post projects and photos in the Ravelry group!

Stacey’s Tips: Finding Patterns on Ravelry

I’m so excited about the fabulous colors of my new yarn line in Louet Gems worsted!

all yarns

I know your first question. What patterns can I use this yarn with?

What if I told you… thousands?!?

Here, let me show you the secret.

This is a worsted weight yarn, which means that it knits up to 5 sts per inch on a size 8.

It also means that you can use this yarn in nearly any pattern that calls for a worsted weight yarn! And because Gems is machine-washable, you know it’s going to wear great!

Let me show you how to search for patterns.

Go to www.ravelry.com and click the ‘Patterns’ tab and then click ‘Pattern Browser & Advanced Search’.

ravelry 1

Now, scroll down and click the ‘worsted’ button under ‘weight’.

ravelry 2

134,442 patterns? Whoa!

Now, feel free to click some more buttons. Only knitting? Do you have 4 skeins in your stash? Then click ‘650-750 yards’ under ‘yardage’.

The default sorting is most popular first, so you’re getting some great suggestions!

ravelry 3

There’s no stopping you!

Now if we all just had some more time on our hands… I’m lucky to finish one project a month!