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!

Meet Stacey Trock of FreshStitches

Hi there, Louet readers! I’m Stacey, and I’m the designer behind FreshStitches and the new FreshStitches Yarn line with Louet! I’m so excited to share it with you!

all yarns

I love designing, knitting and crocheting with bright colors that are amazing for kid’s items as well as adults.

I began fantasizing about starting a new yarn line a few years ago, and I knew my yarns would have to be a few things:

  • Available in gorgeous colors
  • Made from a super-soft, high-quality wool
  • Have great stitch definition
  • Be machine washable
  • Reasonably priced

Do those characteristics ring a bell to you?

Stacey Trock of FreshStitches.com.

Stacey Trock of FreshStitches.com.

They scream Louet Gems to me! Imagine my delight when I chatted with Dave at Louet and he was just as keen to collaborate with me as I was with him, making this set of 7 fabulously bright colors available on the already stellar Louet Gems yarn base.

The result is a collection that you are going to love!

Machine Washable

A lot of people think that superwash (machine washable) yarn is only important when making children’s clothes or for people who aren’t interested in handwashing.

That couldn’t be further from the truth! And let me tell you why.

Wool loves to felt. All it needs is a little moisture and friction, and it’ll felt pretty quickly. One way to do that is by accidentally throwing your sweater in the washing machine. Ooops.

But… have you ever… sweated? Or worn your sweater under a coat (causing the coat to rub against the sweater)? Or spilled something on your piece and tried to wipe up the spill? I’ve done all of those things. And I can tell you how it ends up. Felting.

A few years ago, I knit a dress from a lace-weight yarn. I wore it twice before it began to felt. After all of that work! It was then that I swore that if I was going to put so many hours into making something amazing to wear, I was only going to do it with machine washable yarn. It’s not just for kids… it’s for normal people!

Try a fun color… I dare you!

I personally don’t need any convincing to make something with a couple (or several!) bold colors. My wardrobe is pretty basic, and throwing on a bright shawl or hat completely revitalizes my look.

If you feel like a bright aqua is a little out of your comfort zone, I suggest you try pairing it with a neutral (Cloud Grey, Pewter and of course, White and Black are some of my favorite Louet Neutrals) and I think you’ll find that bright color no longer seems so out of your zone after all!

Grab your skeins, today!

These delightful colors are rolling out into your LYSs and are also available here on Louet.com. Grab your favorite colors (or the whole rainbow!) and keep your eye on this blog for tips and features!

Cabling Without a Cable Needle Tutorial

Our 2016 Blanket uses Gems Worsted weight yarn and was designed for us by Mari Chiba. This heirloom-quality throw is a great way to lean new skills as you work through each section (the blanket is knit in six strips); the pattern and class are available exclusively at your LYS. Even if your LYS isn’t offering the class, you can purchase the pattern via the Ravelry-In Store Pattern Sales program at your LYS. Each section includes both written and charted directions, so it’s a great way for intermediate & beginner knitters to build confidence; more advanced knitters can also use this project learn time-saving tricks such as cabling without a cable needle. Today, we’re excited to feature a guest post from Mari, showing one method for cabling without a cable needle. To see another way to cable without a cable needle (and yes, there is more than one!), keep your eye on Mari’s blog, it’s coming soon!

How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North America

This tutorial is for the 2/2 LC and the 2/2 RC, both of which are used in Section 2 of the 2016 Cable Blanket. This tutorial will show how to create the cable twists without using a cable needle, then you’ll knit across the stitches.

First up, the 2/2 LC: 2/2 is the number of stitches that are cabled, and LC stands for left cable, so the stitches at the front lean to the left. This is also sometimes called a front cable, because the first group of stitches is held in the front. For 2/2 LC: 2 stitches in the front, 2 stitches in the back, with the cross leaning to the left. This is also sometimes written as C2F.

Step 1: With the yarn in the back, slip all 4 stitches purl-wise to the right hand needle. 
How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North America

Step 2: Pick up the first 2 stitches you just slipped with your left hand needle, working from the front. Leave all the stitches on your right hand needle for now.
How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North AmericaStep 3: Slide the right hand needle out from all 4 cable stitches, which will leave 2 stitches floating. Pinch these to make sure they don’t slip away!webres-0406Step 4: Pick up the 2 floating stitches with the right hand needle. You’ll now have the first 2 stitches from the cable on the left hand needle at the front, and stitches 3-4 on the right hand needle at the back. 
How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North America

Step 5: Slip the 2 stitches from the right hand needle onto the left hand needle purl-wise. At this point the stitches have been oriented for the cable, so you can knit across all 4 stitches. How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North AmericaAfter you’ve knit across all 4 stitches you’ll have finished your 2/2 LC. Congrats! Now it’s time to master the 2/2 RC.

How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North America

Next is the 2/2 RC. Just like the 2/2 LC this means 2 stitches are on either side of the cable twist. Also known as C2B, the first 2 stitches have to go to the back, so that stitches 3-4 can come to the front and cross to the right hand side.

Step 1: With the yarn in the back, slip 4 stitches purl-wise to the right hand needle. 
How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North America

Step 2: With the left hand needle, pick up the first 2 slipped stitches from the back of the work. Leave all the stitches on the right hand needle for now.

How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North AmericaStep 3: Carefully slide the right hand needle out from all 4 stitches, leaving stitches 3-4 floating. Pinch at the base so they don’t drop! 
How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North AmericaStep 5: Pick up stitches 3-4 with the right hand needle. Now the first 2 stitches from the cable will be on the left hand needle in the back, and stitches 304 will be on the right hand needle in the front. 
How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North AmericaStep 6: Slip 2 stitches back to left hand needle. At this point all the stitches are in the proper order for the cable twist and you can knit across all 4 stitches to finish the cable. 
How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North America

And voila! You’re cabling without a cable needle!
How to cable without a cable needle, a tutorial from Louet North America

If you haven’t seen the class for our 2016 Blanket offered at your LYS, ask for it and tell them to contact us! We know there are many knitters who would love to get hands-on help in learning how to make this stunning cable and lace blanket.

Guest Post: Spinning Art Yarn with Jill Nickolene Sanders

On today’s guest post with Jill Nickolene Sanders of Saori Santa Cruz, you’ll learn how you can turn your scotch tension S95 Victoria wheel into a Irish tension wheel using the Victoria Art Yarn Head This makes it easy to spin both art yarns and bulky-weight yarns on your Victoria.

 

I get a lot of emails from my Etsy shop asking about the conversion of the Victoria scotch tension wheel into new art head Irish tension wheel. The instructions that come with the head are very clear and easy to follow, but here is a sequential photo showing how I switch over my Victoria to give folks a better understanding:

How to switch your Louet S95 Victoria Wheel over to Irish Tension using the Art Yarn Head for Victoria.

The wonderful design of the Victoria Art yarn head allows for easy and quick removal so that your Victoria wheel is still very portable – plus, there are no holes to drill to mar your wheel! At first, you will need to oil the flyer rod often to break it in; after a few weeks, you can oil it less frequently. The lazy kate that comes with the Victoria wheel will not fit the Irish tension bobbins, as they are too thick. I use my Louet tensioned lazy kate, which I absolutely love because I can use if with all of my Louet wheels!

Another plus is that any of the Louet Irish Tension wheel accessories such as flyers, bobbins, and lace high speed bobbins will also work on the Victoria Art yarn head. While some will only use the the art yarn flyer and bulky bobbins to ply their yarns from scotch tension spinning, others will embrace the freedom to create new and exciting yarns with it. I have included a few “get your feet wet “ art yarn ideas for beginners using my Louet Victoria art yarn flyer.

One of my favorite projects uses Louet’s Northern Lights wool top with Louet’s 8/2 organic cotton as a ply. Of course you can use any roving and thread or finer crochet cottons, but the the Northern Lights is so much fun and easy to use!

First, spin a single from the entire roving with a Z-twist; you will be spinning it “as-is” from the bag, no need to predraft or split the roving vertically before you spin. Then, put your 8/2 cotton cone or spool of black thread onto your lazy kate and ply it with the Northern Lights singles with an S-twist. That’s all there is to it!

Combine singles of Northern Lights with cotton yarn or thread to create a colorful art yarn!

To spin elastic art yarns, buy a tube or spool of elastic sewing thread. Spin a bobbin of singles from your chosen fiber. You will then use the elastic thread to ply with your singles; I tension the elastic so that when the yarn is taken off of the bobbin, it relaxes into a lovely, textured skein! You can use this to knit, weave or crochet – the resulting yarn has great recovery and will not stretch out.

Here is one more fun idea to try which uses hand carders or a drum carder: first, cut up snips of yarns into 1” pieces – this is great for those eyelash or other novelty yarns you do not know what to do with that have been lurking in your stash! Sprinkle onto your prepared fiber or batt – it’s not necessary to card them in, though you can try that if you so desire. I prefer to fold over my batt and spin it like a burrito – I use it to spin a bobbin full of singles which I then ply with a fun metallic or solid-colored yarn.

There are so many interesting techniques for spinning art yarns – YouTube, books, and workshops can assist you, or you can get creative and dream up your own techniques! Below are a few more yarns that I have spun using my Victoria Art Yarn Head to inspire you.

Coiled Yarn:
Coiled Yarn Spun with the Victoria Art Yarn Head.
Lovely Locks:
Art Yarn Spun with Locks on the Louet Victoria Art Yarn Head.
Lumpy bumpy singles plied with metallic threads:
Lumpy bumpy singles plied with metallic thread with the Louet Victoria Art Yarn Head.

Now you have the best of both worlds: a portable 6-pound scotch tension wheel and a quick conversion head to turn it into a portable Irish tension wheel capable of spinning art yarns, bulky weight yarns and other creative project whenever you want!

Jill’s studio is located in the Californa redwoods, where she teaches and stocks fibers, yarns, weaving equipment and the fantastic Louet spinning wheels. You can find her on Ravelry as Nickolena and on Instagram as saorisantacruz. Her Etsy shop is saorisantacruz, and you can read her blog here.

Guest Post: Jane Stafford on Weaving with Louet Organic Cotton

Today, Jane Stafford returns as our guest on the Louet blog to share the reasons why she loves weaving with our cotton yarns in her studio. Jane also suggests some great weaving patterns which are designed specifically for today’s featured yarns and are available as free downloads on our website. Enjoy!

At Jane Stafford Textiles (JST), we love weaving with cotton and cottolin, especially when it is spun with organic cotton. Louet North America’s Organic Cotton and Cottolin yarns are manufactured by Venne in Holland, spun from Egyptian cotton, and certified organic through GOTS (Global Organics Textile Standards).

Organic cotton is so SOFT! It is amazing how different it feels compared to regular cotton, and it reduces the impact that growing cotton has on the environment. That’s why we love to use it at JST: to support the production and growth of sustainable textiles, while creating exquisitely woven pieces. Venne’s Organic Cotton can be used for so many items: the traditional tea towel, runners, scarves, shawls, and more.

I have always looked at the humble tea towel with great respect. Towels do so much work for us everyday, from drying our hands and dishes, to looking absolutely beautiful on a table or in a basket. We like to sett our 2/8 Venne at 18 epi for plain weave tea towels….it beats in at 18 ppi easily and the result is a stunning fabric. The patterns for our Cornucopia Tea Towels are available for free download here.

Cornucopia Towels - Free Weaving Pattern at Louet.com.The result is soft yet sturdy with a lovely drape and hand. Having said all that, why not take your 2/8 cotton out of the kitchen and into some luxurious
scarves and shawls. This Bronson Lace scarf is light and lovely, perfect for a summer evening out and about (click here for a free pattern download).

Elegant and versatile, organic cotton also makes lovely place mats or a runner for your living room, dinning room, kitchen, or anywhere. This plain weave runner incorporates log cabin blocks to create a beautiful, earth-tone piece for a table or side board. It is also available for free download here on Louet’s website.

Click here to explore all of our VENNE yarns for your next weaving project. 

Guest Post: Mari Chiba

Today we have a guest post from knitwear designer Mari Chiba. Mari has designed many patterns for Louet and this month her design, the Colbie Tank, featuring Louet Euroflax Sport and Gems Sport is on the cover of the Spring 2015 issue of Knitscene! We’re so excited to see our yarn, and Mari’s design on the cover. You can learn more about Mari and her designs at mariknits.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram as @mariknits, or on Ravelry as MariChiba. 

© Knitscene/Harper Point Photography

When I first imagined this sweater I knew it had to be in Louet yarn. I couldn’t think of another yarn that would have the same color and the same weight in two different bases that would work together as perfectly as Euroflax Sport and Gems Sport do for this design. The cable portion on the neck is worked in Gems Sport, which means the cables have great definition and and hold the shape of the top well. The body is worked in Euroflax, a fabric that gets softer the more you wash and wear, and is effortlessly comfortable and drapes beautifully.

You may have also noticed that I LOVE Crabapple, I’ve designed two other patterns using this color, the Chibi Maruko Cowl and Coleen from Louet North America Fall 2014. So when I sketched this top and sent it off to Knitscene I always hoped it would come to life in Crabapple.

Colbie Tank Sketch by Mari Chiba

Colbie Tank Sketch by Mari Chiba

 

However, when it came to making this cable come to life there was a bit more challenge than I initially expected. I ended up knitting and re-knitting the cable and the back of the top about 8 times before I finally came up with the short row ratio that the final top has in the cable section to make it lie flat.

Colbie Tanks WIP photo by Mari Chiba

 

You can see in this first photo that this clearly wasn’t going to work. Who wants a droopy cable on their neck?

Colbie Tanks WIP photo by Mari Chiba

I also tried eliminating the cable on one side, but this both departed from my original vision AND still didn’t lie flat.

Needless to say, as simple as this top looks, it was a challenging design for me to figure out how to make it match my original vision. I’ll be blogging more about the short rows in the cable section on my own blog at mariknits.com.

Guest Post: Baa, No Wool?

Guest blogger Sayra Adams of Atomicblue Fibers shares her adventures in dyeing, spinning and knitting with non-wool fibers with us this month. Get inspired to explore the surprisingly wonderful world of non-wool fibers on today’s post. Enjoy!

 Seriously. No wool? How can you have yarn without it?! I know. You’re imagining acrylic Red Heart yarn! But what if I was to tell you that today’s manufactured fibers are so much more? Faux cashmere: so silky and luxurious. Then there’s icicle: lovely soft sparkle fibers. I can also show you a faux angora that you’d swear was the real deal! It’s very exciting stuff. The spinning fibers these days are high tech, way beyond the basic crunchy acrylics of the past.

I had spun exclusively non-wool yarn before. It was gorgeous, but lacked softness. There was no bounce, which was a big let down. My goal was to recreate the lovely look of that yarn. This time, with bounce and incredible softness. How? With fake cashmere!

Fake cashmere, it’s a wonder fiber. I am totally addicted! It’s a nylon fiber, it gives my scarves strength. It also adds shine, and luster. Some are purists, I respect that. Only natural fibers are their thing, which is totally great. This article focuses on nylon fibers, spotlighting Louet’s fake or “faux” cashmere. Here’s some secrets about faux cashmere. It soaks up dye like nobody else’s business! If you love neon, it’s your fiber. Fluorescents, they are spectacular.

On today’s post, I’ll be taking you from fiber to shawl. There’s room to play, so branch out and do your own thing! I used Jacquard Acid Dyes, but you can use any dyes you are comfortable with to achieve fun and varied results. 

Colors I used: Lilac, Hot Fuschia, Gold Ochre, Purple & Emerald.

Fibers used:  I mixed things up. Overall, I ended up with 6 oz of blended fibers with about 50% being the lovely fake cashmere.

  • Fake Cashmere
  • Icicle (like Firestar)
  • Milk Fiber
  • Starbright
  • Blending nylon
  • Fake angora
  • Angelia (applied while carding) 

Here are some tips on nylon: It’s a bit of a tough customer to wet before dyeing. Much like silk, it takes some time to soak up water. I add a drop of Dawn to break the surface tension. Give the fibers a few squishes, and you’ll be good to go. I mixed the dyes somewhat concentrated, since I wanted bright happy shades. I did simple direct dyeing, in my 22 quart stainless pot-each color took about 20 minutes to set. Refer to your chosen dye product instructions.

IMG_5434.JPG

It was hard waiting for my fibers to dry! I wanted to card them right away. Instead, I waited 24 hours. Wow. How gorgeous, so fun to card. I laid in the various shades to create a marled blended effect. I sandwiched colors, I laid them in a striped pattern. I also carded my batts a second time. The batts blended wonderfully. My Carder has 72 tpi, a great all around cloth. Yummy!

IMG_5464.JPG

 Once it was all carded up, I was set to spin. I’m not a technical spinner by any means; I spin by intuition. I knew I wanted to knit a shawl, so I broke the fibers into two bunches, weighing them into 3 oz sections. I then spun a fingering weight thick and thin. I spun somewhat fast, and let the fibers rest overnight. I then plied the lovelies together to get a great worsted weight. How gorgeous! The colors blended and turned out heathery, yet bright. I ended up with 190 yards of light worsted weight yarn.

IMG_6003-horz.jpg

Surprise! This yarn was incredibly springy and a joy to knit! There’s nothing more tiring than crisp, lifeless fibers. My previous adventure had me flashing back on an acrylic baby blanket (we’ve all been there!). Not the case here, however – this yarn was sublime. Super boooounce! I was in love. I knitted a simple shawl, using Lala’s Simple Shawl from Ravelry. I knitted it on size 8 needles until (gasp!) I ran out of yarn. Luckily, I anticipated this and ran back to the studio to dye more nylons, this time in hot pink! Yowza. The shawl turned out really cute, and fun – it was a quick knit! I added the eyelets in the border of the shawl, with a few rows of garter stitch. I think they look better that way, more pronounced. The shawl is on the smaller side, which worked out great.

This was a lovely project, and I hope I have changed a few minds about nylon fibers along the way – especially fake cashmere! While nylon fibers certainly won’t keep you as warm as wool, they’re perfect for a project meant for kids because they are so hard wearing. They are great too, if you live in a tropical environment, or when you’re transitioning to Summer and don’t want to let those lovely Winter shawls go. These fibers are tailor made for vegans, or anyone who’s allergic to wool, too! 

IMG_6643-horz.jpg

I gifted the shawl to my 8 year old daughter; she adores it!IMG_6639.JPG

Sources:

Paradise Fibers 1-800-320-7746

Please visit Louet.com to view more products; click here to see a complete list of our Retailers.

If you don’t dye-there’s many lovely sources on Etsy.