Many of us love to knit with a combination of alpaca and wool–it certainly is my favorite–but finding an American combination has been challenging, especially hand-dyed. The Alpaca Yarn Company has just launched “Symmetry”, a 50% baby alpaca, 50% fine wool, in sport weight, kettle-dyed in 18 beautiful colors. This is a perfect yarn for garments that are soft to the skin and warm to wear. You have to see it to appreciate the colors, with deep and pastels partnered for those two color projects. Join us on Friday the 10th from 5-7 to check it out.
I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Francis Chester-Cestari, the shepherd and owner of Cestari Sheep and Wool Company in Virginia. He is passionate about increasing the number of wool sheep on the East Coast and has started a “Let’s Grow Sheep Together” program to encourage the breeding and shearing of wool sheep. Although the world population of sheep has gone from 1 billion to 1.1 billion, most of the increase is from meat breeds, or hair sheep, that do not need shearing and thus save meat farmers that expense. (He argues that the meat from hair breeds is not as flavorful (i.e. strong) as the meat from wool breeds. According to the American Society of Animal Science, hair lamb tastes more like goat than lamb. If you like lamb, you may want to talk to your local suppliers, find out what type of lamb they have, and do your own taste test. Heritage Foods USA has information on the taste of heritage breeds.)
In addition to promoting wool, Francis is adamant about processing wool without the use of harsh chemicals and maintaining the lanolin and natural characteristics of the fiber. He believes the current “super wash” processing of wool, which uses chlorine gas to strip the outer fibers, then Hercosett 125, a plastic, to coat the fiber, leaves a product that is no longer wool at all. Next time you are knitting with super washed wool, have a good feel of it. You too will wonder about the content of it. Merino wool, which is naturally fire resistant and water repellent, can be machine washed in cool water and hung to dry. It can’t be thrown in the dryer, like super wash, but you can feel good about the product you are wearing.
Cestari wool and local cotton is hand dyed or kettle dyed. At the Yarn Tasting on Friday, October 13th from 5-7, we knit/crocheted with their Mt. Vernon line of 100% Merino, Old Dominion Collection of 100% Virginian cotton, the Traditional Collection of 100% wool, and Ash Lawn Collection of 75% cotton, 25% wool. The Mt. Vernon made a lovely tonal fabric, perfect for sweaters. The Traditional Collection still has the smell of the sheep and the grease of the lanolin, another great choice for a sweater. I’m using the Ash Lawn for a baby blanket, with it’s cotton/wool easy wash fiber and gentle pastels. The cotton will make great dishcloths or cotton tops. Come check them out!
This is a big weekend in Bethlehem. The Change Agent Film Festival, starting Friday, September 15, and going through to Sunday, the 17th, features Citizen Jane, Dolores, Ada for Mayor, and Waking the Sleeping Giant, all films chronicling people who have brought about significant changes to make their communities a better place.
Love.Yarn.Shop. will be on the sidewalk knitting on Sunday from 1-3, with the beginning of a lap blanket for the Welcome Blanket project. Smart Museum of Art is calling for blankets which they will put together to equal the length of the proposed “Wall” on the border with Mexico. After the display, these blankets will be distributed to agencies that work with new refugees and immigration families. Come by and we’ll show you how to knit and you can knit a few stitches, a row, or even several rows, knowing this will go to welcome someone into the country you believe in.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 No matter what your religious or political affiliation, giving can bring you a sense of worth and fill you with gratitude for what you do have. As Winston Churchill once stated, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” As knitters and crocheters, we have a “one-up” on some people, because not only can we make something useful for someone else, but there are many outlets for our talents. We don’t have to look around and say, “What can I do?” No matter what the cause, hand-made items are in demand and often the knitter or crocheter has to look no further than the stash in the closet to find the yarn needed.
There are a number of charitable knits we are doing at Love.Yarn.Shop. that you can jump in any time to contribute:
CHaD: We starting two years ago pairing children’s books with knitted animals. This has been so popular with the tutors at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth that we have been asked to continue. The tutors take the book and animal to a long-term child in the hospital for a reading lesson and then the child gets to keep both the book and the toy.
Purple Baby Hats: Littleton Regional Hospital is calling for purple baby hats to be given to new parents as part of their education about Shaken Baby Syndrome. These are quick and easy.
Chemo Hats: The Oncology Department at Littleton Regional Hospital has a basket for chemo hats. Patients can pick up a hat from the basket. These are always needed and I hate to see that basket empty when I know many knitters and crocheters are asking themselves, “What should I knit next?” While thinking about your next project, make a hat.
Welcome Blankets: The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago is calling for 40” x 40” blankets for a display of warm welcome to equal and counter the 2000 miles of wall Trump wants to build along the border. The blankets will be distributed through refugee organizations after the display is taken down.
Knitting and crocheting charities abound at both the local, national, and international level. Feeling guilty about how much yarn you have? Get those needles out and knit a hat, or two, or ten!
As the petals of the hydrangea blush into pink and the leaves on the maple pop orange overnight, the call of wool tugs knitters and crocheters into the yarn store to sniff out their next project. They squeeze skeins and flip through magazines in search of the perfect fall project to ease them into winter. The Fall Interweave Knits issue is just the magazine for them. It has twelve patterns for pullovers and cardigans, all of which are interesting, modern, and beckon to the knitter. I had a hard time deciding which ones to highlight, but two weaknesses intervened: fair isle and men. The Prairie Wind Cardigan by Amy Gunderson is a knit-in-the-round, steeked hoodie, a perfect blend of traditional and modern. The Nelson Pullover by Irina Anikeeva takes its queue from athletic wear with a drawstring tie on a cowl neck. The Whiskey Creek Pullover by Amy Christoffers has a shawl collar which is reminiscent of the military pullovers of the 40’s and 50’s. All are worsted weight and knit in the round for the majority of the body, which is my preference when knitting sweaters. Come in and take a look!
During the Great Northern Yarn Haul, Love.Yarn.Shop., like many of the shops, held a drawing for a grand prize. Anyone who participated in the Haul and visited the shop entered the drawing. The winner is…Nancy Lyndes! She won a gift card for $25, a skein of Good Karma Farm alpaca/wool yarn, 2 skeins of Swans Island Rambouillet, 3 skeins of a bulky hand-painted merino from Ella Rae, and a skein of superwash extra fine merino from Ella Rae. Congratulations, Nancy! Participants who visited 20 or more shops will submit their “passports” by July 31st for the grand drawing worth over $500! We can’t wait to see who wins that!
That’s the phrase that comes to mind when I am unpacking new color ways from Round Mountain Fibers: Luna Moth, Hubbard’s Caterpillar, Robin’s Nest, Mandarin Duck and Bufflehead. The dyer, Monica MacNeille, captures the colors of the birds and butterflies beautifully. There are many fine dyers, but Monica has an incomparable eye. Come see her yarns first hand.
Who would have thought that in one short Main Street, so much could be happening for kids and families? Wednesdays the Patchwork Players perform at 11:00 at the Colonial; on Tuesday mornings, free golf lessons are given to children at the Bethlehem Country Club from 9:30-12:00 and on Friday mornings at 8:30 for more advanced players. The public library has a summer reading program on Tuesdays at 11:00. On Sundays, the whole family can enjoy concerts at the Gazebo from 6-8 with hot dogs and hamburgers available. The playground, basketball courts, tennis courts, and skate park are all right off the Main Street. Of course, ice cream, donuts, and iced coffees beckon families for a little respite from the sun and fun. Saturday mornings the Farmer’s Market offers fresh vegetables, craft beer, and other locally crafted products. Put on your calendars August 12th for Old Home Day and Art Walk, when the town will be busting out with activities! I’m so glad to have my shop in this little town!