Posts filed under 'Written by Nadya'
The frugal college kid in me will always have a soft spot for acrylic yarn – it’s cheap, it comes in loads of colors, there are soft blends available, and it’s almost indestructible. The eco-savvy world-saver in me cringes at the pollution emitted and toxins created through acrylic yarn production. And herein lies the problem: is it worth it to quit acrylic cold turkey to save the environment?
As a petroleum-based fiber, acrylic’s carbon footprint is massive compared to those yarns created by more natural means (e.g. wool from animals or plant-based yarns). In this way, Red Heart Super Saver could be more of a scourge than we thought (it’s not just tacky, it’s also kinda sorta lethal). I understand that many don’t have the economic means to be so wary of the ramifications of their knitting, but the simple fact that this is a hobby would imply that it is not absolutely necessary to daily life (whatever knitters may say). That being said, it’s worth considering the effects of acrylic yarn.
If you look at some of the various commentary on the acrylic debate, many bloggers will urge you to completely purge yourself of your Carron, Red Heart, and whatever other craft store brands you can find. They suggest instead deconstructing sweaters from thrift shops to recycle the yarn. Or, better yet, they encourage you to invest in the various “vegan” yarns that are out there. Some of these animal-free yarns are so clever in their recycling – like soy yarn or the various bamboo blends that are out there (look here for more “vegan” yarns). They’re beautiful and unique in texture and appearance. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite within the budget of the frequent acrylic user. And, to be honest, as quaint as upcycling sweater yarn sounds, I don’t really like the idea of using ratty, old yarn to make things for my loved ones.
So, that brings us back to the first question: what do we do about acrylic? Personally, ruling out acrylic completely makes knitting way too expensive for my tastes. I simply can’t afford to whip out wool for every project. I consider myself conscientious enough, though, to make some effort towards removing acrylic from my stash. Therefore, the only thing I can suggest is to reduce the amount of acrylic you buy. That’s what I’m doing. It’s working pretty well – I take a bit more time to save up for nice wool, my projects make better gifts for all the time and the better quality yarn, and the environment is a tiny bit better off (or not worse off for the sake of my yarn). It’s a pretty good deal.
August 6th, 2012
We just finished our Noni Knitalong for the Ella jacket! Check out the new Ella Coat (picture above and also available in children sizes) by Nora J. Bellows. Knitters dropped by and knit this jacket with Sudha, who knit this jacket for Saloni. There were many, many different versions of this jacket and you really should check out Nora’s blog for more ideas on this jacket.
We at the store love this structured sweater. We think it’s perfect for the end of winter and beginning of spring. The ruffles add a sense of whimsy and the pattern is basic enough it almost invites experimentation with colors. For the icing on the cake, the A-line cut and slightly lifted waist on the jacket means it’s flattering for most body types.
The pattern is ranked at intermediate to advanced, but we reckon any daring knitter could manage it.
The children’s pattern is just as charming with the bobbles and striping. Nora herself says it was inspired by the story of the Princess and the Pea. We think it’s the perfect amount of girly without being garish.
This coat, unlike the women’s size, is felted. This adds durability and warmth.
And here is the result of the one Sudha made:
The jacket was knit in Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool. Come welcome spring with this great jacket!
March 30th, 2012
My name is Nadya and I think I have a sock phobia.
I’ve generally played it safe with my projects – scarves, hats, mittens, and the occasional sweater. I stick to the usual yarns like Cascade and Malabrigo without venturing too far out into the great unknown of Art Yarns or Frog Tree (exotic, I know). My knitting is manageable and mild-mannered. And I’ve never every tried socks or any pattern using needles smaller than size 4.
It’s too delicate, I tell myself, I’ll never be able to manage it. It’s too intricate, I think, I wouldn’t be able to keep the pattern straight. I’ve breezed right through gorgeous sock patterns on Ravelry in the same way vegetarians skip over the burger section of the menu. But now I figure if I don’t try the hard stuff, what’s the point of this expensive, time-consuming hobby? Maybe it’s just me growing up.
As a college student, maturity is often thrust upon me – I do all my own laundry now. I mean, I can even cook myself pasta without burning anything. I’m beginning to view the world as something I will soon be a part of, and jobs as a necessary, and even exciting, prospect. University has meant that the last three years saw me grow up and take on adulthood. Despite all of that, and despite being able to argue with my professors over world issues that baffle the best, I have refused to knit socks. It seems a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Therefore, to see me through the new year and my new signs of waning adolescence, I have decided it’s high-time to tackle a part of socks. I’ll start with an easy pattern. No need to be overly ambitious at the beginning. I’ve started saving some interesting sock patterns with the idea in mind that I will actually do them one day. No more great sock experiences will be forgone in the same way as all those mouth-watering gastronomical experiences being vegetarian has denied me.
I’m taking hold of the knitting needles of fierceness this year and I’m gonna make myself a pair of warm, pretty socks. I’ll do it even if it takes months.
So, if knitting socks is a sign of maturity, what’s lace?
March 27th, 2012
Tuesday Night Cowl by Susan Lawrence
If you’ve been on Ravelry at all in the past three months, you’ve seen a whole bunch of new and old cowl patterns filling up the Hot Right Now box. Every day in the store we get requests for yarn to make the Madelinetosh Honey Cowl or for new circular scarf patterns. It’s always interesting when a certain pattern or type of pattern takes off like this. And to be honest, cowls are kinda funky looking – they are giant, knit circles, or, in the case of the mobius cowl, giant mobius strips. What is it, exactly, that makes this bizarre piece of clothing so popular?
Personally, I have a lot of issues with scarves – they don’t stay up, they get tied too tightly, the make the front of my sweater uncomfortably bulky, etc. Scarves have been the cause of many a street scene and public display of frustration. They’re also monotonous to make and I lose patience with them quickly. I do not like straight scarves, and they don’t like me.
So with the dawning of the Age of Cowl, all my scarf issues were put to rest. Cowls and circular scarves are easy and neat and not difficult to manage. They are just slipped on, over a jacket, or looped twice around the neck, and that’s it. They’re warm and simple and they don’t get in your way. As an added bonus: they’re actually chic.
From a design perspective, cowls leave a lot of room for unique style elements; any knitter with a little experience (or close to none) can spin the basic cowl in a number of ways. Make it all moss stitch, or drop stitches, or add a mobius, or or or do anything you want! Once you start designing cowls, it’s hard to stop.
March 8th, 2012
Snowflakes and reindeers and Douglas firs and ugly sweaters and holiday cards sent from halfway around the world – it’s Christmas time again! You know the drill: these are some of the store favorites for Christmas celebrations.
Christmas Bauble by Greedy for Colour
This pattern has blown-up on the internet! It’s like every craft blog worth its salt has featured this tutorial at some point and some have even posted some creative variations. Greedy for Colour’s knit ornaments look sweet, easy, and perfect for your leftover yarn stash.
Paperclip Ice Skate Ornament by Suzie’s Stuff
We at Nine Rubies think these ornaments are super creative. They look pretty simple to make, and the paperclip blade makes them unique.
Yarn Basket Ornament by Red Heart
Red Heart hit the nail on the head with this ornament pattern – it’s perfect to give to your fellow crafters or to the friends who tease you for your yarn obsession.
If you have some blah glass or metal ornaments laying around, try dressing them up with some ornament cozies:
Ornament Cozy by Knit Darling
These stocking patterns are pretty classic. Who knows, they could end up being family heirlooms after this Christmas.
Paige’s Christmas Stocking by Jennifer Hoel
Tis the Season Stocking by Pennies per Hour of Pleasure
Christmas Tree Christmas Stocking by Lion Brand Yarn
(psst, this one is crochet!)
Bunting and Garlands
A key part of the holiday season is tacky decorations, not that these garlands are tacky! Actually, they’re pretty cute and I could be convinced to leave them up all year (or at least all winter).
Snowflake Garland by One Sheepish Girl
Smitten by Emily Ivey
Advent Garland by Frankie Brown
The last one is the best Christmas garland I’ve found yet! How cute is this? You could even use all the separate parts for Christmas ornaments.
Embroidered Gift Tags by Craftyminx
Yarn has so much potential, especially with gift wrapping. Embellish your presents with crochet flowers, novelty yarn ties, and sweet handmade gift tags. The possibilities are endless.
December 17th, 2011
I love Christmas. I love the cheesy music and the sugar cookies. I love making ornaments and hanging them on my family’s plastic “vegetarian” Christmas tree. I love the horrible matching sweaters and the reindeer socks I can buy at Target for a dollar. What I don’t love is scrambling for gifts.
It usually happens, at least once a holiday season, that there is some friend I forgot to go shopping for. They’re usually family friends, that girl who dog-sitted for us once, or the son of my mother’s aunt’s nephew. Either way, they’re on their way over and I don’t have any sort of holiday present for them. Enter Nadya’s Fantastic and Wonderful Grab- Bag of Knitted Goodies.
This isn’t an original idea, I know, but it’s still super handy for December; basically, I use up my yarn stash by making chunky knit scarves, fingerless mittens, and unisex hats that I can then give to whoever visits during the holidays. This way I get my yarn box nice and empty for the new year, I keep myself busy with short two hour projects (which is all I have the attention span for during Christmas break), and I’m ready and prepared for the unplanned houseguests.
You’re probably saying “But wait! Gifts like that can’t nearly be personal enough!” And you’re right. But remember the basic tenet of elementary school: everyone loves a handmade gift. It works even better if your handmade gifts are warm, usable, well-made, and not a macaroni necklace. The holiday season is a trying and hectic time full of last-minute shopping trips and little kids underfoot. Make your own grab-bag and let things get a little easier.
Here are the ones I’m doing right now:
Chunky Circle Scarf by People Webs
This scarf is easy to crochet and turns out pretty cute. I like it because it uses up a whole bunch of yarn – either you can double up some worsted weight or you can use chunky yarn. Either way, expect to be down a few skeins in no time at all!
Scarf of Many Colors by Sand and Sky
This scarf was made for your stash! You can use up all the little leftovers from your other projects to make this gorgeous mix of color. Also, the stitches are super simple – this scarf is a relatively mindless project.
Luxe Cowl by Nutty Irishman Knits
Can you tell I have a thing for cowls? This one is also great to use up the odds-and-ends of your yarn stash. If the color flurry is unappealing, it’s equally gorgeous in single color worsted weight. This simple design means it will be appealing to most, so you can’t go wrong!
Annie by Jane Richmond
If you want something a little harder, try Annie by Jane Richmond. It’s done on smaller needles than the rest and the texture is so pretty. Another mindless scarf project, but the results are super chic!
Honeycomb Cowl by Courtney Spainhower
I really like the texture on this one. Use self-striping or basic colors to make something pretty and cozy.
Emerald Green Handwarmers by Creative Yarn
These are the easiest things in the world to make! They’re each knit as a rectangle and then sewn up the sides with a hole left for the thumb. You could even supplement the moss and double moss stitches with your favorite stitch.
Camp Out Fingerless Mitts by Tante Ehm
These are so cozy. I especially like the coloring effects the designer used. Worsted weight should work just as well if you don’t have any Noro laying around.
Mock Cable Fingerless Mittens by Naomi Adams
Mock cables are faster than actual cables and the effect is neat. I like these because they work well as a small gift or stocking stuffer.
Rikke Hat by Sarah Young
This hat looks so European and comfy, I’ve even made one for myself. DK weight and relatively small needles, the Rikke Hat is more delicate looking than some of the other patterns listed here.
Twistin’ the Night Away by Susan Menashe
You probably know some teenage girls who would flip for this turban-like headband. Susan Menashe’s pattern takes not time at all and uses up your chunky yarn to boot.
What are your favorite quick knits?
December 16th, 2011
Here in the Bay, it’s getting a little bit chillier. The wind is blowing a little harder and leaves are changing colors. I think I can officially say this is football weather!
I’ve heard it said that the best thing to knit along to is a football game. Use the time-outs for counting your stitches or reconsulting your pattern, while you make use of the exciting game-play to get through the repetitive stockinette stitch portions of your project!
So, as you cozy up on the couch with the game and all that stash yarn you need to get rid of before next year, try some of our favorite football-inspired knitting and crochet patterns.
Football Hat by Susan B. Anderson
This is the latest pattern that has made waves (scored?) at the Nine Rubies store. From Anderson’s book Itty-Bitty Hats, this is actually the real inspiration for this blogpost. We just love the little bobble on top!
Football Helmet Winter Hat by Tracey Rediker
This pattern must be purchased, but you have to admit – it’s completely adorable! Change the colors to your favorite team’s or just to your favorites. Even the adult fan would enjoy wearing this hat on game day.
Football Mosaic Scarf by Sarah Burton
How great is this design? I mean, again, it’s easily adaptable to any team’s colors, but I also think it just looks cool. You could even give to a non-football fan – it could be like subliminal messaging.
Football Cocoon and Hat Set by Tupelo Honey’s
Here’s one for the crocheters out there! This little football-shaped cocoon blanket and little hat are so adorable it’ll make you choke on the guacamole!
If you would like to make up your own design, or use a more basic pattern that could be worn year-round, this blog has a list of Cascade 220 colors than sync up nicely with NFL team colors. Or, if you’d rather use a different yarn, use this list of all the team colors of every team in the NFL since 1922.
To get you started, try using this basic Harry Potter Scarf pattern or Mae’s Striped Team of House Hat. Switch the colors out to your liking, and wear proudly.
Well, that’s all from us! Be sure to tell us how the football season goes for you – for both your favorite football team and knitting projects.
- Nadya the Intern
October 15th, 2011
Crocheted Bow Tie by Linda Permann
As a joke, I recently asked my brother if he would wear a knitted tie if I made one for him. I assure you it was a joke and not a test to see how much he loved me. His eyes got bigger and he started grinning madly, “Totally!” I got so excited I promised him seven handmade ties. I also found out that he was planning to wear one for his first day of his senior year of high school (I am a little unsure if he is doing this to demonstrate his “power” as a senior, able to wear whatever he likes, or because he actually likes the tie that much). This whole experience got me thinking – what is it like to knit for guys?
Obviously, my brother is a good sport and he would happily put on whatever I made for him (provided it was not completely hideous or pink). And the guy friends who were lucky enough to receive a lopsided hat or hastily made mittens from me knew better than to criticize my creations. My dad, on the other hand, maintains a general distaste for knitted goods and would rather leave the house with just a t-shirt than put on an itchy wool sweater. Are guys with overwhelming older sisters or female friends the ones that do not mind a nice scarf?
I mean, it seems that all guys are different in their views on yarn handicraft. Think about the “boyfriend sweater” curse, for instance. On nearly every knitting blog, in nearly every cheeky knitting book, and on the lips of seasoned knitters is the warning “DO NOT, REPEAT, DO NOT KNIT A SWEATER FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS NOT PUT A RING ON YOUR FINGER (children and close relatives excluded).” There is truth in this warning, of course – why go through all the pain and suffering of making a sweater for someone who has not committed? There are stories of knitters who, during their breakup, are confused as to who should keep the sweater – the maker or the receiver. There are stories, even, of the sweater causing the breakup (“You didn’t even bother to consider if I’d like this color,” etc.). Mittens and scarves are fine for boyfriends, but sweaters are for husbands. Fair enough. But I’m still confused on what to make exactly that would be the universal man-friendly knitted gift.
Some guys wear scarves. Some wear gloves. Most wear hats when it’s cold. Few wear sweaters, opting, instead, for sweatshirts or jackets. And here I am, with all this yarn, no money, and a growing Christmas gift list. What to do?
No seriously, do you guys have any suggestions?
September 26th, 2011
I often think that knitters and crocheters form a sort of geeky cult (and I mean that as a compliment!). This is probably because knitting has transcended age and gender divisions to become something fashionably doable. That being said, yarn crafts seem to fall in step with various other nerd cults and fandoms – think Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Yo Gabba Gabba, and millions more. I guess the rule is “If it exists, it can be knit.” Like in my previous article (Harry Potter and the Tangles of Cascade), sometimes it’s pretty easy to see where knitting and these fandoms meet. With Harry Potter there were knitters around the world recreating their favorite knits from the books and the movies. Or they were creating their own knitted versions of magical objects. And maybe it’s something about British creations, but Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings also have a pretty large crafting community.
Doctor Who, a British television show that began in the ‘60s, has a new and hipper face since its 2005 continuation. And its fans are as creative as ever. If you check out doctorwhocrafts you can see what I mean. Here are a couple of my favorite Doctor Who designs:
1. The Original Doctor Who Scarf
Harkening back to the beginning (ish), here’s 4’s scarf in all its original glory! This site is wonderful as it shows you how to do 4’s other scarves as well. Everything you’ll need to make the scarf, like the instructions, tools, and recommendations, are so precisely and meticulously laid out (though you could still use scrap/stash yarn for the most part) – knitting nerdiness at its finest!
2. Adipose! (“Amigurumi ‘Fat’ Baby”) by Jennifer Christensen
From season 4, the terrifying yet adorable fat babies! This pattern is great. If I were you, I’d make a million or two of these little guys.
3. Dalek Egg Cozy by Ellie Skene
EXTERMIN-EGG! (I came up with that all on my own.) How better to stick to those pesky Daleks than have them keep your eggs warm? It’s the perfect plan!
4. Ood Ski Mask by Lilana Wofsey Dohnert
This is a crochet pattern and probably the most creative Whovian creation I’ve ever seen. It’s kinda scary, but maybe it’ll be a conversation starter (or a Who-dar) at the ski lodge.
5. Tardis Ornament by Laura Fisk
How great! I’d love an ornament Tardis for my Christmas tree!
With The Hobbit in production (I’m so so so excited) and the Lord of the Rings book series still sitting soundly in my English Major heart, I have been seriously considering taking on some of these detailed charts and dolls.
1. Tree of Gondor Chart by Emma Schurman
I must be an über nerd because I would adore to have this on a sweater. Looks like a straightforward chart pattern and the pictures are very helpful in showing how it knits up.
2. Hobbits by Sammi Resendes
Look! Amigurumi hobbits! How lovely! I’d make all four from the fellowship – I imagine an amigurumi Pippen would be so huggable.
3. Days of the King Socks by Lobug Designs
This pattern must be purchased, but it’s a great-looking pattern for socks. The color-work looks so pretty. I would love to cuddle up with The Two Towers with these socks on.
And as a little extra, here’s some great Yo Gabba Gabba – themed knits:
DJ Baby Rock by Vickie Howell
I adore this pattern. I’m actually considering making one for every baby I see from now on.
2. Brobee Cap by April Scripps
How perfect! Any Yo Gabba Gabba fan would jump for this hat.
And there you have it, just when you thought knitting couldn’t get any nerdier, Nadya, daring intern and geek extraordinaire, proved you wrong! But seriously, if any of y’all make any of these things, tell me so we can exchange photos and jump up and down in our mutual appreciation of pop culture.
September 19th, 2011
In the wake of the recession, and most notably in the past few weeks, Economists and small yarn store owners have been bewailing the hike in wool, cotton, and silk prices. It seems that in the past two years, while many of us where silently freaking out (or, if you’re like me, running around like a headless chicken) over the media-reported state of the economy, many sheep farmers and wool harvesters converted to the more lucrative dairy farm industry (see the Financial Times article on this). Flocks of yarn-yielders are now considerably smaller than they were a few years ago, and, as such, supply is low. In addition, according to the previously mentioned article, during the recession many fiber farmers burned through their inventory (read: sold it off at discount prices) in attempts to cut their losses.
For silk and cotton, synthetic fibers have all but replaced them as they are cheaper to create and sell. Big brands like Lion Brand Yarn and Red Heart, which produce acrylic blends and ship to craft store chains like Michael’s and lower-priced department stores like Walmart, estimated a doubling or tripling in their sales as knitting has historically been a recession-proof hobby (read about it here). Synthetic fiber yarns, it seems, tend to do well despite economic dips because they cater not only to the frugal crafter but also to a range of skill levels. Even the pricier brands of yarn were expected to sell in larger numbers than before (here and here); knitting was the perfect stress-alleviating hobby in troubled times – it felt cost-effective, it is meditative, and it harkened back to simpler, recession-free times. But this huge payout for yarn venders never came. The sad fact is, during the recession, the amount of crafting that occurred was not enough to stabilize the wool, cotton, and silk industries and now they’re skyrocketing in price.
Here, you can see Australian wool has more than doubled in price since last year:
Even if you track five years back, to before the recession, wool prices are still at their highest today (and about two and half times more expensive than they were in 2006):
There was a momentary drop in prices in late 2008 and early 2009, when the above articles were written, but they didn’t stay down. In Economics, this is what is called “Future Expectations” – the expected price or amount of sales influenced what was then the present pricing. Directly after those happy eight months, prices went up again.
Looking at American upland cotton with the same parameters yields similar results (with the same drop in late 2008). Though cotton pricing is on its way down from its peak this past year, it’s still very much more expensive now than it was five years ago:
In the store we carry Pima cotton. Pima has hit $3/lb. on the world market.
What does all this mean for us? Our suppliers can no longer afford to stay at the prices that they have been offering us as the mills that supply them can no longer get the wool and cotton at the original low prices.
What does this mean for you? You’ve probably seen quite a few of your favorite yarns going up in price. Right now we’re considering alternative yarns, so stay tuned for yarn-tasting announcements and supply updates!
- Nadya the Intern
September 7th, 2011