Our 2/14 Alpaca Silk is one of the hidden gems in our Valley Yarns collection. The fact that it’s on a cone gives some knitters and crocheters pause, but let me tell you what a boon that is. For larger projects, and even multiple small projects, it means only 2 ends to weave in at the end of your work. You read that right, only TWO ends to weave in! There’s so much yardage on one of these cones, over 1,700yds in fact, that each cone really can result in multiple projects. Like our Allamanda Shawl. The pattern requires 550yds but with the incredible yardage on these cones you could get three of these shawls out of just one cone! This makes it a wonderful choice for wedding party shawls, or other occasions where multiple versions of the same knits or crochet are needed.
The fiber combination of this yarn, 80% Alpaca/20% Silk, results in a lace weight yarn with incredible strength and beauty. The silk gives the yarn durability and a delicate sheen while the alpaca imparts warmth and softness as well as a subtle halo. Together you get a yarn that is soft and easy to work with, even in the summer heat, that becomes garments and accessories that are surprisingly warm.
After years working as a tech editor Kate began to compile some of answer to questions she regularly encountered in the process of pattern writing. She sees designing and pattern writing as two separate skills and this is a guide for helping designers articulate their instructions. She also gives resources for photography and pattern layout.
I love a good wrap. A nice wide shawl that I can snuggle into like a great knitted hug is a real comfort, but I don’t necessarily want to look like I’m wearing a blanket. The new Shenandoah Valley Shawl designed by Katharine Malcolm is that perfect shawl! Knit in our Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk it is gauzy and ephemeral but amazingly warm and cozy.
The silk give the yarn strength and shine, while the alpaca give it that surprising warmth and a soft fuzzy halo. With a decreasing pattern of cables forming a mountain shaped border at each end and a gentle striping effect of stockinette and yarn overs, reminiscent of the rivers and streams, you get to see the best of the Shenandoah Valley in this shawl, the gorgeous Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains as well as the James and Potomac rivers. And with the bonus of the incredible yardage of the 2/14 Alpaca Silk being offered on cones you will only have 2 tails to weave in at the ends of this project!
Katharine talked to us about herself and how this design came to be.
When did you learn to knit?
I taught myself how to knit before I was ten years old, a long time ago. The first article I can remember knitting was a woolen turtleneck, shaped, full fashioned sweater with mock cables on the front and the back. I was 12 at the time. In my college years, everyone knit in class. I knit my model train loving fiance a pair of socks with an original train on the side, but never thought of it as designing. The same was true as I knit for my sons and nephews, including whole animal families of hand puppets. It wasn’t until I became a TKGA Master Hand Knitter that I realized that what I had been doing for years was designing. I have been knitting my own designs ever since.
What prompted you to start designing?
I tend to find a design that I want to create in knitting and as I proceed, my ideas grow. That was the case with the Shenandoah Valley Shawl. It started as a project to work on a train trip and as I knit, I did not want it to be the same throughout, so I created the triangles. As I worked the shawl that you see I realized, looking out the window that the color matched the Blue Ridge Mountains. From another window I can see the Appalachian range and the Shawl fit in perfectly. Many of my designs evolve as I knit.
Give us a glimpse into your design process, where/how do you find inspiration?
When I was working towards the Masters Program for The Knitting Guild Association, I decided that since I lived on an alpaca farm, that I would create the yarn for the project. As a result, it was not only an original design for the vest and the long coat, but they were both knit from a one of a kind yarn.
What did you love about the Valley Yarn you worked with?
I loved the feel of the Alpaca/Silk. The silk adds a sheen to the alpaca and I loved working in color. I have been knitting with my hand spun, but none of the alpacas come in Whipple Blue!
With a gorgeous combination of lace and cables, this light and airy yet scrumptiously warm shawl could be the perfect accessory, and with almost 30 colors of 2/14 Alpaca Silk to choose from you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you. Download your copy of the pattern now and cast on!
Even though the summer is just beginning to heat up, our fall yarns have begun to arrive. If you’ve been to the store, you’ve probably noticed swatches of most of the yarns on offer, Store staff knit these to provide you with an example of how the yarn looks, not only in stockinette stitch, but also in a stitch pattern. The swatches are labeled with all pertinent yarn information in addition to suggestions for use. Knitting swatches also gives staff an opportunity to get to know new yarns so we can help you even knowledgeably.
The newest from Valley Yarns, Pocomtuck, is a dk weight cashmere. Karen knit a decorative swatch to show this yarn to its best advantage. She found it to be a luxurious knit, and states that “it lends itself to a wide variety of garments and accessories.”
Marthe’s swatch of Plymouth’s Tuscan Aire shows this bulky yarn’s adaptability to stockinette and textured stitches. Comprised of 90% merino wool and 10% nylon, “this light and lofty fiber is just perfect for lightweight yet warm ponchos, cowls and scarves.”
Mary M. chose another new Plymouth yarn, Cannoli, to try out. She thought it was an exciting, fast knit and would use it for accessories and gifts. The construction (it’s a single) makes it bouncy and the colorways are very tempting.
Berroco Cotolano has become a new staff favorite and Maryanne knit the swatch. This wool, cotton and nylon blend is remarkably soft and would make a fine three season garment. Cables and other textures are really enhanced in this yarn.
This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more as fall yarns continue to roll in. Happy knitting!
It’s time to get to the fun part, the body of the hat! Feel free to add stripes in multiple colors, or stitches, for these first 3 options.
1 – Stockinette
Rnd1: K all sts
Repeat Rnd 1
Continue in stockinette until the hat is 2 inches LESS than your desired depth from the cast-on edge
2 – Seed Stitch
Rnd 1: *K1, P1; rep from * around
Rnd 2: * P1, k1; rep from * around
Repeat Rnds 1 and 2 until the hat is 2 inches LESS than your desired depth from the cast-on edge
3 – Moss Stitch
Rnds 1 and 2: *K2, P2; rep from * around
Rnds 3 and 4: * P2, K2; rep from * around
Repeat Rnds 1 through 4 until the hat is 2 inches than your desired depth from the cast-on edge edge
You can add stripes into any one of these stitch patterns or combine these stitch pattern as their own stripes as shown above! And just to gussy things up a bit, here’s a great way to avoid that unsightly jog that happens with stripes in the round!
Please note: the Cable and Fair Isle motifs work with an 18 st or 20st repeat, depending on size.
4 – Cables
18 and 22” sizes only, an 18 st repeat
Rnd 1: *P1, k4, p1, k6, p1, k4, p1; rep from * around
Rnd 2: *P1, c1L(left twist), c1R(right twist), p1, k6, p1, c1L, c1R, p1; rep from * around
Rnd 3: Repeat Rnd 1
Rnd 4: *P1, c1R, c1L, p1, k2, sl 2 purlwise, k2, p1, c1R, c1L, p1; rep from * around
Rnd 5: *P1, k4, p1, 1/2Rc(c1 over 2 right), 1/2Lc(c1 over 2 left), p1, k4, p1; rep from * around
Rnds 6-9: Repeat Rnds 4 and 5 twice more
Rnd 10: *P1, c1L, c1R, p1, k6, p1, c1L, c1R, p1; rep from * around
Rnd 11: *P1, k4, p1, k6, p1, k4, p1; rep from * around
Rnd 12: *P1, c1R, c1L, p1, k6, p1, c1R, c1L, p1; rep from * around
20 and 24” sizes only, a 20 st repeat
Rnd 1: *P1, k1tbl, p1, k4, p1, k6, p1, k4, p1; rep from * around
Rnd 2: *P1, k1tbl, p1, c1L(left twist), c1R(right twist), p1, k6, p1, c1L, c1R, p1; rep from * around
Hatfield is one of my top 5 yans from Valley Yarns! 100% super soft, baby alpaca in a sturdy, yet lofty, 2-ply laceweight with 437 yds, means you have a versatile yarn with almost endless possibilities.
We already have some incredible pattern support for this yarn, with more planned! It’s perfect for lightweight, yet incredibly warm garments and accessories, and with that extensive yardage you’ll only need a few skeins. Pictured clockwise from top left: Lina Shawl(just 2 skeins), Fruits of the Forest Scarf (also only 2 skeins), Poet’s Corner Shawl – NEW! (2 skeins!), Traversina Shawl (1 skein in each of 6 colors, but only 2 skeins in yardage), Breezeway Pullover (2-4 skeins depending on size), and the Crisanta Shawl – NEW! (only 1 skein!)
This is an amazing yarn for summer knitting. It’s lightweight nature means you won’t have a bulky project heating up your lap while you enjoy some beach time, but you’ll finish with a great piece to ward of the chill come Fall. Do you have Valley Yarns Hatfield on your needles?
Talitha learned to knit as a child and was fascinated by the Mrs Crosby line of yarns and Mrs. Crosby’s back story. She worked with the staff at Mrs. Crosby to tell the story of her childhood friend Vivian and turned it into a real world mystery adventure with fantastic patterns and stories
Kathy also talks with local knitter, designer and photographer, Caro Sheridan about the Pokemon Go phenomenon.
Every June, I am honored to celebrate another class of graduates from the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program. We just had our graduation and 9 new designers have been launched into the knitting universe! Our very swanky ceremony was held at a very nice hotel/conference center nearby for the first time ever–because we’ve outgrown our former celebration venue otherwise known as “the back classroom.” Want to see some eye candy?
Our graduates this year are, from left to right, Lorraine McGough, Sara Gibbons, Liz Frosch-Dratfield, Andy Tarr, Alexis Price, Lindsey Lindequist, Susan Baron, Donna Smith, and missing from the photo is graduate Cindy Romaniak. Each created a masterpiece of design and construction using the skills learned in the 16 required classes that make up the WEKP, as we call it.
This year’s sweaters ran the gamut of texture and construction. Susan Baron made an absolutely perfect coat in Madelinetosh Chunky; the detail was incredible. From the complicated math she used to figure out how to end a cable at the shoulder seam, to the ingenious use of a sport-weight yarn as a facing for the heavier front panel of the jacket, Susan made a garment that any professional designer would be proud to call their own. And, she got the stamp of approval from the designer herself when Amy Hendrix, the co-owner of Madelinetosh, saw Susan’s Capstone at her appearance at WEBS and loved it.
Alexis Price made a lovely cabled pullover, keeping it traditional in her yarn and color choice, but making it her own with shaping and textural details. You can see the pride she takes in her Aran sweater (as well she should!).
Cindy Romaniak’s complex paneled design contains a number of elements completely unique to her design sensibility. Her use of several different stitch patterns, unique Empire shaping, directional knitting, and eye-catching colorwork made this garment stand out.
Sara Gibbons created an exquisite saddle-shoulder lace-and-cable sweater with 3/4 sleeves and knit it in a heathery green that beautifully complements her coloring. Sara was the most independent of our designers, needing only to consult her mentor Kirsten Hipsky for a few final questions about her finishing. Sara’s design was inspired by a sweater of her mother’s and she really nailed the essence of that earlier sweater.
Lindsey Lindequist achieved the impossible – she finished her Capstone sweater while caring for a 2-year-old and a newborn. My hat is off to her! Her 2-color cable and sweet “Tree of Live” design on her front pockets (pockets! yes!) add standout elements to a reverse-stockinette background. Congrats, Lindsey!
Lorraine McGough’s “Butterfly Sweater” (as she and I both called it) reflects her sunny personality as well as her perseverance. She knit the front as one piece and then steeked it (in order to preserve the unity of her butterfly eyelet stitch pattern), and knit intarsia butterflies around the shoulders and hem. Her sunny yellow color choice and bright bursts of color were exactly what she planned.
Donna Smith made a designer’s dream sweater: she used stitch patterning to shape the back design of her cabled rib cardigan. The placement of her buttons emphasized the vintage look of her swing design and the blue color she chose added the perfect final touch.
Andy Tarr had a tough year but still managed to pull off one of the most beautiful sweaters we’ve seen–and the complexity involved in her yarn and design made her dedication to her project even tougher. Andy hand-dyed Valley Yarns Huntington in shades of lavender and purple to achieve a gradient pattern, and she knitted a contrasting lace overlay as the front panel of her cardigan. It can be worn either buttoned on both sides as a fitted cardi, or open, as a draped open piece. Either way she wears it, the craftsmanship is evident in every detail.
Liz Frosch-Dratfield had a rough year as well–and almost decided to wait to finish her sweater. However, with some persuasion, she decided to forge ahead (since I knew she’d been planning her Capstone design for over a year!) and her finished design is absolutely exquisite. Knit in Valley Yarns Northfield in purple and heathery green, she used a leaf motif throughout. The ties in front, the hemline, and the sleeves showed off hand-crafted leaves, and the lace patterning echoed the leaves, climbing like vines up the front and back panels of her cardigan. The final result is a flattering and eye-catching work of art.
I’m so proud of this year’s grads. Huge thank yous go to our Capstone mentors: Stephanie Gibbs, Cyndi Shepard, Erin Holman, Ping Wood, Kirsten Hipsky, and Sara Delaney. A thank you as well to Kris Potasky of KP&Co Designs, who hand-made lovely, lovely matching bracelets as our gift to the graduates. And a final thanks to Kathy and Steve Elkins, who started the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program in 2008. It’s grown to almost 100 folks at present, and 34 have graduated since 2009. I hope you find inspiration in these designs.
A combination of sleek shaping and yarn give this vest an ultra-modern look. At the back, fully fashioned shaping worked throughout the wide ribbing subtly shifts the twin braided cables outward, creating a flattering bias in the fabric. The fronts are picked up and knit crosswise with welt pockets, braided cable embellishments and garter-stitch edgings. A trim shawl collar is worked along the top edge.
We think this design looks lovely in the versatile neutral of the Silver colorway but would be equally stunning in the Peridot or Eggplant colorway for a splash of color in your wardrobe.
We are nearly halfway through July and the Tour de Fleece. The what?! You mean you haven’t heard that spinners are spinning along with the Tour de France? We are and it’s great fun as well as a great way to get into a rhythm of spinning every day. I know it is making a big difference for me as the daily workout helps me spin more consistent yarn and improve my technique. I made some adjustments in my hand position after our workshops with Beth Smith last month and having dedicated time every day allows me to practice and become comfortable with that. On the challenge days I am working on plying, trying some new methods to spin a 3-ply. There’s still some room in our Tour de Fleece SpinShops on July 17th, so check out the event page for descriptions of the array of fantastic spinning workshops and join us for some fiber fun!
I’m also looking lustfully at some of the travel wheels we have in our spinning section, thinking about upcoming summer trips. We have 2 nice options with another on the horizon. The Louet Victoria is delightfully compact and light, folds with ease and even has a built in carrying handle. The spinning is smooth and it has accessories including a jumbo flyer for plying or creating art yarns. The Sidekick by Schacht is another contender that features its own carrying strap, folds easily into a snug shape and is a dream to spin on. Later this summer we will have a new loom from Schacht – the Flatiron, which is a folding Saxony wheel with many options for set up. I plan to try it out as soon as it arrives and will let you know how it spins.
Will you be taking your spinning on the road this summer?