Thursday, August 27, 2015

Project Inspiration: August Crochet Stitch Pattern

As if receiving fabulous yarn every month with your subscription wasn't awesome enough, Yarnbox Classic also arrives with great project inspiration.  Subscribers receive a free knit and crochet pattern as well as a monthly knit or crochet stitch to help build on your crafting knowledge and maybe inspire your next project.  

New yarn means a pattern hunt for a new and exciting project.  Sometimes, all I need is a really great stitch that compliments the yarn color and fiber.  Then, I can then have my own crochet "choose your own adventure."

The adventure with our July Classic Box was made even more exciting with the cashmere sport yarn from Pepperberry Knits.  Any yarn with cashmere in it makes me happy. Make it 100% cashmere and I'm on happiness overload.  I thought it would perfect for the Single Post Crochet Rib stitch that came with the box.

I enjoy this pattern stitch because it's easy to remember and gives your finished piece a ton of texture.  It is an ideal stitch for garments and accessories where you want a little stretch to the material.  So great pattern texture plus awesome cashmere yarn brought me to creating this nifty cowl pattern that I hope you all enjoy.




Single Post Rib Stitch Crochet Cowl
by Aimee Hansen

Materials:
Size H crochet hook
Pepperberry Knits Sport-Weight Cashmere Yarn (approximately 230 yards)

Pattern Notes:
In this pattern, we will be alternating front post and back post stitches to give us the single post crochet rib.  Rounds are not joined unless otherwise stated.  Make sure to mark the first stitch of your round and move your stitch marker up with each round.

Gauge:
In alternating front post and back post double crochets, 17 stitches across x 15 rows high = 4"x4".  Because of the stretchiness of this stitch, gauge is not important.

Adjustments:
To make cowl longer, increase beginning chain by a multiple of 2.  To make the cowl higher, repeat round 2 until you reach your desired height.

Finished Measurements:  Approximately 29" around x 6" high

Abbreviations:
ch - chain
sl st - slip stitch
dc - double crochet
fpdc - front post double crochet
bpdc - back post double crochet
bphdc - back post half double crochet


Pattern:

Ch 110.  Join to form a ring being careful not to twist.

Round 1:  Ch 3 (counts as first stitch).  Mark the top ch of beginning ch 3 (this marks the first stitch of your round.  DC in the next ch and in each ch around.  Do not join. (110 stitches)

Round 2:  FPDC around the next stitch (move your stitch marker to mark this first stitch).  BPDC around next stitch.  *FPDC around next stitch.  BPDC around next stitch.  Repeat from * around.  Do not join. (110 stitches)

Repeat round 2 for 19 rounds or until desired height.  End your cowl with the next round.

Round 22:   FPDC around the next stitch (move your stitch marker to mark this first stitch).  *BPDC around next stitch.  FPDC around next stitch.  Repeat from * to last stitch.  BPHDC around last stitch.  Join with a sl st to the first stitch in the round.  Fasten off.  Weave in ends.  (110 stitches)


BONUS!  If you have yarn leftover, try out this pattern for matching fingerless mitts.
I made both patterns with the 400 yards of Pepperberry Knits sport-weight cashmere that
came in the July Classic Box.




Single Post Rib Stitch Fingerless Mitts
by Aimee Hansen

Materials:
Size H crochet hook
Pepperberry Knits Sport-Weight Cashmere Yarn (approximately 125 yards)

Pattern Notes:
This pattern is very similar to the cowl above.  Your finished mitts should be snug.  See adjustments to make mitts bigger.  Make sure to mark the first stitch of your round and move your stitch marker up with each round.

Gauge:
In alternating front post and back post double crochets, 17 stitches across x 15 rows high = 4"x4".  Because of the stretchiness of this stitch, gauge is not important.

Adjustments:
To make mitts larger, increase beginning chain by a multiple of 2.  Increase the number of rounds before and/or after the thumb round to increase length for proper fit.

Finished Size:  Womens size small to medium

Pattern:

Ch 24.  Join to form a ring being careful not to twist.

Round 1:  Ch 3 (counts as first stitch).  Mark the top ch of beginning ch 3 (this marks the first stitch of your round.  DC in the next ch and in each ch around.  Do not join. (24 stitches)

Round 2:  FPDC around the next stitch (move your stitch marker to mark this first stitch).  BPDC around next stitch.  *FPDC around next stitch.  BPDC around next stitch.  Repeat from * around.  Do not join. (24 stitches)

Repeat round 2 for 17 rounds or until desired height to just below the thumb.  

Round 20: (thumb opening round)   FPDC around the next stitch (move your stitch marker to mark this first stitch).  BPDC around next stitch.  FPDC around next stitch.  BPDC around next stitch.  Ch 4.  Skip 4 stitches.  *FPDC around next stitch.  BPDC around next stitch.  Repeat from * around.  Do not join. (24 stitches)

Round 21:   FPDC around the next stitch (move your stitch marker to mark this first stitch).  BPDC around next stitch.  FPDC around next stitch.  BPDC around next stitch.  1 dc in each of the next 4 ch.  *FPDC around next stitch.  BPDC around next stitch.  Repeat from * around.  Do not join. (24 stitches)

Round 22:   FPDC around the next stitch (move your stitch marker to mark this first stitch).  BPDC around next stitch.  *FPDC around next stitch.  BPDC around next stitch.  Repeat from * around.  Do not join. (24 stitches)

Repeat round 22 for 4 rounds or until desired height above thumb.  End your mitt with the next round.

Round 27:   FPDC around the next stitch (move your stitch marker to mark this first stitch).  *BPDC around next stitch.  FPDC around next stitch.  Repeat from * to last stitch.  BPHDC around last stitch.  Join with a sl st to the first stitch in the round.  Fasten off.  Weave in ends.  (24 stitches)

Repeat mitt instructions for second mitt.





Thursday, August 20, 2015

Exploring Color: Marled

There are so many ways that color can be applied to yarn, and so many effects! We thought it was time to talk about some of them here on the blog so that our members can get acquainted with some of the great techniques and color types that they can experience through Yarnbox subscriptions.

For the July shipment of Classic, we got to share a special type of color application called marling. Marled yarn is where each of the plies -- typically two, but sometimes three or more -- are different colors. You can have extremely stark differences in color (see some examples of black and white marling below) or you can have subtle differences, like in these Pepperberry Knits skeins from the July shipment:


This technique can also be achieved and customized by taking two solid colored yarns and double stranding them throughout a project. The possibilities with this technique are limitless! Think about creating fabrics with colors that pop against each other (like fluorescent orange and heather grey) or colors that blend into one another (like emerald green and lime.)

Marling can add a subtle dimensionality to an otherwise-solid project choice. When knit or crocheted, each stitch has slight differences in the way the marl faces, giving it an overall speckled look. This has been very popular lately in all types of fashion design and pattern design! Here are a few great examples:

Marled Wave pattern by Stephen West
Colorblock Marled sweater from J.Crew Fall 2014
Provence Marled Cardigan pattern by Pam Allen 

Boyfriend Hat pattern from Purl Soho
Marled Madness pattern by Stephen West
Humbolt Sweater "marlisle" pattern in progress from Anna Maltz

Newsboy Hat Hannah by Heidi Hennessey
Fairlington Cowl by Tanis Grey
Paros Hat by Robin Allen

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

July Classic Review: Pepperberry Sport Weight Cashmere

Sometimes, we get a chance to send something really special to our Classic subscribers. Not that what we send isn't special already -- each month we try to outdo ourselves -- but occasionally, a yarn company comes along and makes it possible for us to send our most popular subscription a really unique product.

In 2013, we partnered up with Bijou Basin Ranch and sent everyone a yarn blended with deliciously luxurious yak fiber. In 2014, our December box featured a possum, polworth and alpaca yarn all the way from New Zealand. This year, our July box was the lucky strike, with two skeins of sport-weight, 100% cashmere from Pepperberry Knits out of Idaho.


For such a special box, I wanted not only the softness of cashmere, but also a new way of highlighting Pepperberry Knits' full range of colors. Heidi, the owner, has a great range of solids, but it seemed like the marled colorways (marled is two or more colors plied together to create a mottled, speckled fabric), would be a fun twist on classic cashmere. We chose some of our favorites to send to our members from her great selection:


While they can seem a bit unusual and possibly intimidating in the hank, these yarns knit up into a relatively even fabric that has just enough interest to create stunning, unusual pieces. Our designer this month, Mary Beth Temple, came up with two patterns that highlighted the lusciousness of a little bit of cashmere. Both Medallion Shawlettes keep the cashmere where we like it -- close to the neck! The Medallion Shawl to Crochet and Medallion Shawl to Knit have already been cast on by a few members:


What color did you get, and what are you making?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Watch Me Wip: Hannah's Projects

I am personally really excited about our #WatchMeWip event on Ravelry (for which signups are happening now!) As someone who has been knitting and crocheting for a very long time, I find myself in a near-constant battle against things I've already cast on (but have gotten bored knitting or run into a challenge and set aside) and things I'd like to cast on. I love the feeling of guilt-free crafting that comes with clearing out my project bags and making room for new things, but I haven't really been able to attain it. #WatchMeWip seems like the perfect time to get some of these projects done (and wearable for Fall) so I have plenty of time to work on new things for holiday gifts and personal wardrobe!

Here's my list of the work-in-progress projects I'm hoping to complete for this event. What are you going to be working on?

Abby's Hat -- made in a mix of yarns to mimic a commercial hat she purchased in neutral colors. This is about 1/3 done.  
Dawlish socks! This pattern is from Rachel Coopey and features Candy Skein sock yarn (a dyer from September 2013!)  
Germinate -- this shawl is from Through the Loops and I'm almost to the third lace repeat (each row feels so long!) The yarn is Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering from our October 2014 shipment. 

Lace Ribbon Scarf -- a free pattern from Knitty, reimagined as an infinity cowl where I'll sew the ends together when it's finished. This is a little over halfway done and features Madelinetosh Merino Light in Neon Peach. 
Pop Blanket! This is the smallest size, made in Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton. I love this but each square started to feel like work so I set it aside. It would be great to finish it up and send it to be displayed in my mom's yarn store. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

July Plus Review: Artyarns Premiere Shipment

I love the rush of excitement that happens whenever we introduce a new product! Since we work on things for as much as a year (or longer) before their release, finally getting to share them with everyone is a welcome reprieve from secret-keeping. Such is the case with our latest subscription, Yarnbox Plus Artyarns (or just Yarnbox Plus.)


The idea for this club happened after we'd done both a Classic and Luxe shipment featuring Artyarn's fantastic lines and they were well received by members. I think it's safe to say that these shipments have been among the top favorites of Classic and Luxe thus far, and so it seemed like a natural inclination to want to work with Artyarns again in some capacity. We don't really like to repeatedly use the same dyers over and over, since the club is about variety, so we came up with a new concept -- a club that would showcase the variety within the Artyarns yarn line and products, while still delivering the same quality and beautiful curation that our members love! Iris and Elliot, Artyarn's owners and operators, helped us come up with a plan that would work for everybody involved.


Iris and I went ahead and planned out the first full year of the Artyarns quarterly shipments. Each shipment of Yarnbox Plus Artyarns will have a theme that matches the time of year it goes out. Naturally, we wanted the first shipment in July to have a summery, fun mood, and we themed this first box around the idea of an exotic trip to faraway, coral-filled seas! We loved the current trend towards gradient kits and decided to play up the idea with a monochromatic shawl featuring three skeins in Regal Silk and one in Beaded Silk. Then we coordinated three colorway options for our members:

Coral:

Caribbean: 

Jellyfish:

All three kits were very popular, with members snagging up extras in backstock, through a re-order period after the boxes had all gone out, and through trades and destashes in the Yarnbox group. Of course, Iris' beautiful pattern, the Starry Summer Nights Shawl, probably helped in driving the excitement: 


If you missed this kit, be sure to watch the order page to get in on all the Plus Artyarns excitement for the next round. We'll be doing occasional re-orders for this kit throughout the year, so if you want this one specifically be sure to keep an eye on our overstock store (for members only) and the pre-order availability through our social media. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Watch Me Wip Event!

We couldn't be more excited to announce the newest Yarnbox event, Watch Me Wip! Inspired by the trendy song of the summer, Silento's Watch Me:


Yup, this catchy earworm is everything we'd want in an event -- color, silliness and a lot of fun! The Ravelry group's Mod Squad and I hatched a plan for a fun new event where Yarnbox members can get everything off their needles in time for upcoming holiday knitting (or just fall knitting, whatever suits you,) in a fun way with prizes and camaraderie.

For the next two weeks, we'll be asking members to sign up on Ravelry and choose 5 wips that they'd like to complete in the duration of the event (August 24th - October 31st at midnight CDT/CST.) You can read all of the official rules here, but just in case, here's a rundown:

- For the next two weeks, **until August 24th**, we'd like you to sign up here with a list of wips (works-in-progress) you'd like to complete before the event ends on **November 1**. **Each participant may have a maximum of 5 wips that qualify for this event, so choose things you really want to finish and that will count for the most points if you do!**

- On August 24th, the Mod Squad will divide all participants into teams and assign all wips point values (each wip is worth 1, 2, or 3 points based on size and complexity of projects.) At that point, the event officially begins. You are welcome to keep working on your wips up until the date of the event starting, but remember that if you finish it before the start date, it will not count in your tally. Teams are going to be divided as evenly as possible based on overall point value.

- All projects considered for points should be tagged #watchmewip and linked on the Ravelry signup thread. The #watchmewip tag should go into the 'tags' section of your project entry on Ravelry. **ALL projects must be entered into your Ravelry project listings WITH a picture and start date to qualify, by August 24th.**

- Points will be tallied monthly based on #watchmewip completed projects, and a progress bar will be shown for each team! Work hard on getting things off the needles to earn points and work your team towards victory and an awesome team prize of Yarnbox Swag Bags (featuring all kinds of Yarnbox branded goodies like project bags, buttons, stickers and more!)

Here's a quickie checklist -- make sure you have all these steps completed before August 24th:

1. Make sure all the wips you want to compete with are entered into your Ravelry project notebook with tag #watchmewip and a photo.

2. Announce here your intention to participate before August 24th and include a list of your wips (no more than 5 per participant!)

3. Mod teams will be announced and you'll be tagged by your team moderators -- participate in team threads!

3. The event starts on August 24th and ends at midnight CST/CDT October 31. Be sure to update your project entries on Ravelry with progress as you go along and announce any completed wips in your team thread.

4. Work hard, win fun Yarnbox Swag!

This event welcomes ALL wips, regardless of the yarn they are using -- the idea is to clear your needles for all those fun Yarnbox projects you can't wait to cast on for gifts or otherwise this fall!

Head on over to the Ravelry group to participate!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why Join a Sock Club?

Every month when the time rolls around for Yarnbox Socks to ship out again, I find myself thinking about why a sock club is such a special thing. Sure, there are clubs out there for every type of specific project -- hats, shawls, cowls, and even sweaters! We run several great yarn based clubs (obviously) that revolve around a constantly changing array of accessory projects, but I really felt strongly that a sock club was the right way to go when we decided to expand our offerings for 2015.


People love to extol the virtues of socks as a project -- they're portable, there are so many easy sock patterns that work up quickly for instant gratification, you can try new techniques and skills on a smaller scale, and they're a great way to play with some of the most unusual dye methods without feeling overwhelmed by crazy speckles, stripes, or variegation. Sock yarn in and of itself is fun to buy -- one skein is fairly affordable and doesn't take up a lot of room in your stash, yet can provide several hours of enjoyment.


That said, I think that part of the true beauty of sock knitting is that it combines a need (warmth) with a jollifer (there is nothing as fun as a pair of bright colored socks on a dreary day), instant-gratification and long-term use. Socks purchased commercially are often a one or two season item, before they get a hole and are no longer useable (cotton socks are the worst for this, in my experience.)


Hand knitted socks, on the other hand, often last a whole season with minimal washing and can be darned in the summertime so that they'll last winter after winter. You can make lightweight, lacy ones with smooth superwash wools or blends, or thicker, wooly ones for deep winter days. Wool socks have so many virtues: they are warm even when wet, wick away moisture from the skin, and don't retain scents.


Yarnbox Socks allows our members to experience so many of the different types of sock dyeing, textures, brands and designers that make sock knitting so fun. When we started this club, my goal wasn't just to add another 'sock club' to the list of those out there, but to create a community of people who each month join together to add yet another sock to their growing fall and winter stash. I really hope that as we move into the fall season together, I can start seeing these socks in action, paired with cozy layers, denim, clogs, boots, fireplaces and fun gatherings. It's like a little piece of my work gets to travel the world, and I find that extremely exciting.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

July Socks Review: Oink Pigments Sock

I love a nice, simple sock pattern.

There's something about slipped stitches, simple knits and purls or even just plain stockinette that really shows off the beauty of hand-dyed and variegated yarns. The color changes and interplay really show up when uninterrupted by complicated lace, cables or textures.

Basic patterns also have the added bonus of being really great for beginning sock knitters and building a solid sock drawer. For our Yarnbox Socks subscription, we try to send a good mix of both simple, basic patterns and more complicated patterns -- just the same way we try to send a mix of yarn colors and dye methods, too.


For our July socks shipment, we partnered up with a Yarnbox member and long-time participant in the Ravelry group, Jessica Larson. She's designed socks for us before in past Classic boxes, and it seemed just the right time to bring her back and create a beautiful sock pattern to match up with the wide variety of visual effects provided by Oink Pigments, our dyer for July.


We know our members loved knitting up this pattern in all of the different colors Oink Pigments dyed for them. A bevy of summery blues, paired up with pops of color or swapped for purples, greens and browns, made a great foundation for some summer socks. The smooth ply of this yarn makes for great all weather socks (not just wintery ones!)