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There was something fishy going on at Classic Elite Yarnsin ’86

Strong branding prevails, and for Fall 2011 Classic Elite is offering beautiful blends of yarn in predominately natural colours. As always, the collection has been worked into very usable garments and accessories. They are highly wearable, even if you have fish hands to accommodate (though you may have trouble working cables).
Each new season The Loop carries a selection of their pattern books. These books are beautifully photographed and are styled in a very North East American way, which is perfect for Maritime Canadian knitting.

Last summer we were tagged by mystery yarn bombers. We loved it!
Your new Challenge: Get us this summer with a romantic clue to your identity.

Are these our Bombers?

On the Ferris wheel of Zaub it’s an up and down ride. We love Schoppel Wolle’s Zauberballs. We carry all the types we can get in. Straight up Zauberball is the single ply fingering weight. Crazy (which does not mean that the other Zaubs are in any way sane) is the 2 ply fingering weight, plying two singles at different points in their colour sequence. We have also carried their lace weight which is akin to the non-crazy but still coo coo sock weight. We are now carrying their 6 ply (Stärke 6) which is a sport weight which uses the same plying technique as the Crazy sock weight.

Everyone loves Zauberballs and we have several customers who are on our books to receive ‘Zaubalerts’ when new colours come in. Trouble is it’s hard to get. If you covet this yarn too, consider joining our Zaub Club, adding your name to our list of Zauberball lovers. You’ll get a call as soon as it arrives and can have first pick of the colourways.

This fall we’re showing two new Bulky yarns.  Unfortunately, both ‘Bulky’ and ‘Chunky’ can seem like subjective terms.  I thought I would write a little about our new yarns, Burley Spun, and Grande to explain how chunky chunky is.

The Craft Yarn Council tops out their Weight System with their 5th and 6th categories; Bulky and Super Bulky.

The Bulky category comes after Medium (worsted and aran yarns) and includes Chunky, Craft, and Rug Yarns.  Their gauges over 4″ of stockinette stitch should work out to 12-15 stitches.  For most knitters these yarns require needles from 5.5mm to 8mm.  Crocheters are advised to use a 6.5mm to a 9mm hook.

Super Bulky is the heaviest category and comes after Bulky.  This whimsical title is applied to Roving, but also to Bulky yarn. ?!?!?!  Confusing or what?  Best to focus on gauges.  The CYC describes Super Bulky as having a gauge of 6-11 stitches (in 4″ worked in stockinette stitch).  These yarns should be worked with needles larger than 8mm (15mm is the biggest needle in most shops.  The Loop carries these sizes and does get in circular Addi needles in sizes over 15mm.  We can always special order these for you!)  Crocheters should use a hook size greater than a 9mm.  I would advise using the biggest hook you feel comfortable with.

Our first new Bulky yarn comes from Schulana.  Grande comes in brightly coloured 50g balls.  It provides 9 stitches over 4 inches, using 12.75mm needles.  Bouncy, soft, and fun to work with, Grande looks great in textured stitches and cables.  It’s 2 plies also make it look accomplished in plain knitting.
The Loop is thrilled to provide free patterns with the purchase of a 50g ball.  Thrilled, because Schulana has put together a free booklet of four smashing hat patterns.  Just take a look!  Each hat takes just one ball.  You can find a growing gallery of these projects at Ravelry.
Visit the Grande Hat Gallery Here:
Brown Sheep yarns are a firm favourite with knitters, and a new addition to The Loop.  Our first yarn from this company is their heaviest offering, Burley Spun.  In skeins of 226g, Burley Spun’s single ply looks a bit wild and untamed.  It also looks like good fun, and I can’t wait to make an oversized winter cowl in one of the super saturated colours.  We will also be receiving Burley Spun in Handpainted colourways which will look stunning in plain knitting; perfect for beginners and for Holiday knitting.

This yarn is also considered Super Bulky, its gauge at 10 stitches over 4″.  The good people at Brown Sheep would like knitters to try a 9mm needle, but in my books bigger is better.
Learn more about Burley Spun at Ravelry

Stay tuned for a tutorial on using this extraordinary new yarn.

hbc cowichanThis week saw the launch of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s line of Olympic-themed sportswear in honour of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. But one garment in the collection–a Cowichan-style sweater (pictured above)–has attracted criticism. Coast Salish elders have called into question HBC’s decision to contract the manufacture of the sweaters to a non-Cowichan company. Cowichan Tribes chief Lydia Hwitsum claims that the traditional Cowichan design (like the one pictured below) is the intellectual property of her people.

Traditional Cowichan sweater

The discussion brings up interesting questions about who “owns” traditional designs, and how handmade things are used as cultural symbols.

You can read more about the Cowichan sweater tradition here, and here. There is also an NFB documentary on the subject, called “The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters”. Interested in questions of intellectual property and clothing, check out intellectual property lawyer Susan Scafidi’s excellent blog, Counterfeit Chic.

Early tomorrow morning, Thursday September 10th, tune in to CTV in Halifax to see Mimi on the morning show, Breakfast Television. She is probably going to try to teach one of the hosts to knit, in record time.  This will be live, so anything could happen! Very exciting. Just don’t forget to set your alarm.

Revolution baby blanket

Revolution baby blanket in progress

My friend is having a baby this summer and I wanted to make a blanket that was quick and easy, without being too boring. Too much to ask? I was looking at the fun designs of British math geeks Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer (Woolly  Thoughts). I had a hard time deciding which of their intriguing patterns to go with, but thanks in part to the projects posted on Ravelry, I chose “Revolution”.

A couple of dozen people had posted Revolution on Ravelry and many talked about how easy it is. Looking at the images I felt that it must be fairly simple, but my mind just couldn’t grasp how exactly the funky jagged spiral effect was created. I  purchase and downloaded the detailed, colourful pattern booklet and began to study it. Indeed once you read the instructions and get started, it’s blessedly simple to do. This is a fun pattern, a way to make garter stitch interesting! I’m using Estelle’s organic Cloud Cotton, which itself is a delight to work with. This is going to be a lucky baby, if I may say so myself.

Denise Interchangeable needles are made for this project!

One of the things that is making this project so enjoyable for me is my Denise Interchangeable Needle set.  It’s like the Denise kit was made for this kind of project. The blanket is a circle but you are only ever knitting one “wedge” at a time. Stitch holders are important, and as the segments of the blanket get bigger, you would need to use multiple circulars or lengths of yarn as stitch holders. With the Denise set, I just add lengths of cable and carry on. Most of the time the same needle I am knitting on is acting as a stitch holder for another part of the blanket.

Denise needle sets

We love the Denise Interchangeable company not just because of their products, but because they are a small company with a great customer service ethic.  The product itself is made with a conscious effort to support local (to Denise) manufacturing. We are always delighted to chat with them and they are incredibly friendly and helpful. And how many big corporations would send a package in the mail looking like this? (Yes those are individual postage stamps.) We love Denise.

Simpsons stamps

This morning’s Chronicle Herald comes the announcement that the Maritime Fall Fair will no longer include livestock events and homemaking competitions.  Citing a lack of public interest in the agricultural and artisanal competitions (including the knitting category won by Richard Stilwell last year), the organizers want to develop the retail craft component of the fair instead.

Aren’t agricultural fairs meant in part to provide an opportunity for farmers and artisans to promote their skills and educate the public? If these events are not attracting the public, then maybe the organizers aren’t doing enough them! Am I right in thinking that it is completely backwards to be cancelling these components of the fair at a time when interest in local agricultural poducts and self-sufficiency is on the rise?

We would happily host a homemaking salon des refuses here at The Loop!

I often listen to the American radio network NPR online. Last week, during an interview on the news quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me with a woman who knits sweaters for featherless chickens, comedian Mo Rocca took a swipe at homemade sweaters, calling them “itchy”.

American knitters swiped right back, and this week, Rocca apologized for his use of “the i-word”. You can hear both the original clip and Rocca’s retraction on the WWDTM site.

While the slight did net him an offer of a soft handmade sweater from some Ravelry members, Rocca’s troubles are unlikely to end there. His apology makes some pretty uneducated references to alpaca!

Cathy is merriment
Mimi is starlings
Morgan is pomoboho
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