We’ve got socks-on-the-brain at Loop, this week. No, not a new illness, we’re planning our summer knitting: small, portable projects that can build our winter gift giving stash… or end up on our own feet, come autumn.
I like to use my “fancy” sock yarns to knit the bodies of my socks and then slip in contrasting, afterthought heels in hardwearing Lang Jawoll Superwash sock. Not only is this great for self-striping and hand-dyed yarns, as the afterthought yarn won’t break up the colour pattern, but it extends your “fancy” sock yarn so you can get more out of it.
We have Jawoll Sock in 53 colours! Each ball comes with a matching spool of nylon tucked inside. Knit the spool yarn together with the ball yarn on toes and heels and areas that receive a lot of wear (such as fingertips on gloves).
Afterthought heels can also be replaced if they start to wear-out before the rest of the sock. Just pick-up the stitches from the main body, reknit the heel and then cut out your old one.
I’ve made odd-matched socks, so I can really extend the number of socks I get from three balls of yarn… and so I don’t get bored with my colour choices. The three balls I’m using here can give my little feet at least 7 odd-matched socks.
There are loads of great patterns for socks with afterthought heels. I’ve included my own recipe as a pdf download at the end of the post, as well as some detailed snaps of that afterthought heel in progress.
Columns left to right, top to bottom:
a) The sock heel from the right-side with bright yellow waste yarn for my heel.
b) Turning the sock inside out and looking at the waste yarn from the wrong-side makes it easier to spot the stitches for picking up.
c) The waste yarn is still attached, while the circular needle picks up the sock stitches between the waste yarn purl bumps.
d) A close-up of a few of the stitche,s being picked up from the waste yarn.
e) All the stitches are on the needles. Time to remove the waste yarn.
Next comes the knitting of the heel.
Columns left to right, top to bottom:
a) Beginning at one side, I unpick the waste yarn. I may use small scissors or an extra needle to pull the waste yarn back out, through the stitches.
b) All the stitches are on the needles.
c) Push the stitches down onto the needle cable and feed the ends of the needle tips up through the sock to turn right-side-out.
d) All ready to knit.
e) The first half of the stitches are knit. You can see one strand is coming from the Lang ball and one from the nylon spool. The yellow thread holds a single stitch that I failed to pick up. I will pick it up as I come to it. I’m about to make the 2 extra sts by twisting the sides of stitches between the upper and lower needle.
Time to start knitting that heel.
And then graf,t with kitchener stitch, to close final stitches.
Yes, I admit it, even though I twist my edge stitches, I sometimes still end up with a little hole at the corners.
I don’t sweat it though. I’m happy to turn it inside out and darn shut while I weave in all my ends.
That’s it, all done (hole invisible now). Happy knitting! – Juju at Loop
Read on to find out how you can win some gorgeous BSA Metalico! (This contest has now closed, but keep an eye out for more giveaways in the future! Congrats to Lee, our winner!)
The beautifully luxurious yarns from Blue Sky Alpacas have long graced the shelves of Loop and we’re still in love! They are our absolute go-to yarn for gorgeous alpaca softness and to-die-for colours. We were lucky enough to get a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at BSA – with the wildlife of rural Minnesota in the US included – and are excited to share their stunning yarns and patterns with you today! We are also so pleased we get to give away enough of their luminous Metalico to knit a wrap! Read on for more details.
Metalico is our new favourite BSA yarn and it’s absolutely glorious. It’s naturally occurring shades of baby alpaca blended with lustrous mulberry silk. We think it speaks for itself, no?
Metalico is gorgeous in wraps, shawls, fingerless gloves and even special sweaters.
We asked the lovely Jillian at BSA how she thinks this gorgeous yarn can be used to its best potential:
Metalico has beautiful drape and swing, which is why many of our Metalico patterns are wrap, poncho, and shawl designs, though it also works well for sweaters. The metallic sheen after which it was named is so beautiful that knit items made from Metalico seem like fine jewelry one should only don for special occasions, but it is a yarn that was made to be used and loved. It is fashionable, functional, and meant to be enjoyed and appreciated every day!
There are, of course, other lovely BSA yarns at Loop!
Above is the cosy and beautifully heathered Melange. We love it for toasty handwarmers (which still come in handy in the British ‘spring’!), scarves, hats, baby cardies and so much more! The colours are gorgeous on their own, but the whole palette looks stunning striped together too.
We asked Jillian what she thinks makes alpaca yarns so special:
Alpaca fiber blends well with other fibers and has unique thermal properties that allow it to be warm while still being light-weight due to the hollowness of the alpaca follicle. It is also durable, allowing handknit items to become family heirlooms that are passed from generation to generation.
If perhaps you’re one of those knitters who likes to knit ahead for the winter, or if you just fancy some quick knitting with deliciously chunky yarn, BSA Bulky (above) is fabulous! We know from experience that new knitters and old hands alike love to knit simple 1 or 2 skein cowls that are fast and super-warm.
If you are lucky enough to be experiencing warmer weather, or at least dreaming about it, the BSA’s Organic Cotton (no alpaca in this one!) is just lovely. It’s a wonderfully soft cotton in a naturally occurring white with no bleach or dye involved. It’s absolutely heavenly. Perfect for a summer baby blanket!
We love the ethos behind these wearable, yet luxurious and timeless yarns. Jillian told us that they hope their yarns also ”reflect the creative energy and collaborative spirit of the people who work here,” and we think they do! BSA’s location in rural Minnesota might also have something to do with the inspiration behind their yarns; Jillian tells us ‘It is not uncommon to have all sorts of wildlife in our “backyard,” including deer, birds, raccoons’!
We have loved getting to know Blue Sky Alpacas a little better this week. And they’re going to talk a bit about us over on their blog too! To celebrate our friendly blogging day, we are hosting a simultaneous giveaway, in which one winner chosen on each blog will receive one of the new 1920s-inspired Metalico wrap patterns of their choice (Daisy, Frances, or Zelda) and enough Metalico in their color choice to complete the project. To enter, leave a comment by Tuesday the 21st telling us why you love Metalico and we’ll announce the winner next week! This contest has now closed.
We do love a bit of crochet at Loop, particularly when the weather warms up. Crochet is perfect for when you want a a quick little project that you can whisk away on holiday, or stuff in your bag for your commute. You can make small items like toys or home accessories, or crochet little motifs that will one day be put together as a blanket or garment. We have an abundance of crochet inspiration at Loop right now that can help you get hooking!
We love the crochet aesthetic of two French women – both called Cecile! – whose books we stock at Loop. The first Cecile – Cecile Balladino, whose book Crochet Boheme is pictured above – will be teaching master classes at Loop next month! Her book is full of the colourful, romantic crocheting like that featured on her blog Eclectic Gipsyland.
Cecile will be sharing her love and expertise of colour combinations, plus imparting tips and tricks such as weaving in ends while crocheting, seamless changing of colours and different types of granny squares. There are still a few places left and you can find booking information here!
The other Cecile – who we have also been lucky enough to have teach at Loop! – is Cecile Franconie, whose book Granny Folies is a fun and sophisticated take on granny squares. Keep in mind that both Ceciles’ books are in French – but don’t let that put you off if you don’t speak the language! If you have a basic knowledge of crochet charts, they and the gorgeous photos are sufficient enough to follow the patterns.
We do, of course, have crochet resources aplenty in English too! Here’s a selection of some of our recent favourites:
There’s also a new crochet magazine we adore: Simply Crochet. We love it for its truly modern take on this traditional craft!
If you haven’t yet had a chance to pick up a hook and give crocheting a go, never fear! We have a Beginners Crochet class starting next week, and the lovely Jemima will get you hooking in no time. And pretty soon you’ll be able to start stitching away at our all-time favourite crochet blanket pattern, the Babette Blanket!
We hope you’re inspired to get crocheting! Feel free to have a browse of our extensive crochet book library here, and perhaps have a little swoon over our gorgeous collection of crochet hooks (including the incomparable Furls and this gorgeous set from Chiaogoo) here!
We recently changed our window display – the lovely Sophie and Juju took the lead and made it a showcase of all things happy and bright at Loop! Yarns, ribbons, books, toys and even blocking kits have lit up our storefront on Camden Passage. Just in case you can’t pass by the actual shop, we thought we’d share it with you here!
We were very much inspired by a lot of the neon and neutral colour combinations we’ve been seeing recently. Above is the fabulously electric ‘Edison Bulb’ colourway in Madelinetosh Sock. We think it would look great striped with a grey in a shawl (like this one!), socks or even a cardigan. It’s sitting atop one of our favourite bright/neutral samples at Loop, the Aunt Jane scarf, which we knit in the super-soft Jade Sapphire 2ply Cashmere and trimmed with Malabrigo Lace in Bobby Blue. In the background you can see another exciting colour by Madelinetosh: Oceana, again in Tosh Sock. (Edison Bulb and Oceana are available in Madelinetosh Vintage too.) Sitting atop Edison Bulb is BC Garn Jaipur Silk Lace, which comes in an array of brilliant colours and neutrals alike.
We had fun arranging balls of yarn like (more!) Tosh Sock, this time in Maple Leaf, and cones of Habu Silk Stainless Steel in front of our little ‘Loop’ letters.
This is one of our lovely sari ribbons, perched in front of a Loop favourite: The Muhu Island book. We also used some Tilli Thomas Sari Ribbon to newly trim our Oleander wrap. Here it is ‘modelling’ before we put it in the window:
There were lots of other fun little things we managed to include in the display like our fun, brightly coloured blocking kits, our little lion man with the neon foot, Knit Collage Rolling Stone in Buttercup Glow and our quirky little logs wrapped with some of our favourite bright colours:
If you love these bright colours but are still not sure quite what to do with them, then socks might be your answer! You can take pleasure in looking at your brilliantly coloured project on the needles and then have your own private enjoyment of its vibrance on your toes. We absolutely adore the new book by Rachel Coopey, Coop Knits Socks, which fully takes advantage of fun sock yarn colours!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our little tour of our shop window. Hopefully we’ll see you in Camden Passage somtime soon!
With springtime comes wedding season, and for knitters that often means it’s time to knit something that celebrates that momentous occasion. A wedding shawl can mean many different things; you might be knitting one for yourself to wear while saying, “I do,” or you may be making a shawl as an heirloom for someone important to you. You might be knitting a shawl for the mother of the bride or groom, or you might just want something extra special to wear as a guest at a dear friend’s wedding. Whatever your role, a wedding is one of those circumstances where the significance of hand-knitting comes into its own. Choosing a special yarn, knitting each stitch while thinking about a person in your life about whom you care, and ultimately wearing, or seeing worn, a beautiful object that will be tied up in someone’s feelings about such an important day in their life, are all reasons why wedding shawls are so wonderful to make.
Tilli Thomas Symphony yarn is the perfect ‘special occasion’ yarn. It’s an exquisite blend of kid mohair and silk with tiny beads sprinkled throughout. In the photos above, it’s used in our Beginner’s Lace Shawl, which is easy enough to be your first lace project, but beautiful enough to be an heirloom. And if you don’t fancy beads, this pattern can be knit in almost any lace or 4-ply yarn. It would look absolutely stunning in any one of these luxurious yarns below:
Or if you’re preparing for a late summer wedding, when it’s bound to be a bit chillier, you might try doing a lacy shawl in the slightly heavier, but absolutely divine Juno Alice DK:
There are, of course, many gorgeous shawl patterns to choose from at Loop, like this Shetland Hap Shawl. It’s quite a traditional pattern but can be worn in a beautifully modern way. Here we’ve paired it with the heavenly Shilasdair Luxury 4-ply – a blend of cashmere, baby camel, angora and merino.
Crochet can be used to great effect with the right pattern and yarn, like this timeless wrap from Blue Sky Alpacas, knit in sumptuous Metalico.
Or, if you want to make something with very little possibility of falling off the bride’s shoulders, you might try the Layering Shrug, a free pattern here on our blog. Part shawl, part cardigan, it’s perfect for pairing with a strapless dress.
We especially love this shrug knit in our BC Garn Jaipur Silk Lace which comes in a gorgeous array of colours and neutrals:
Whatever you decide, remember also that weddings don’t always need to be ‘traditional’. Have a look at the myriad styles and colours other knitters have gone for on Ravelry for even more inspiration. If you know the bride would love a hot pink or scarlet red shawl, then it will be that much more fun to knit. The best thing about making a wedding shawl yourself means that it can be personal and completely unique to the wearer and treasured as a special gift for a long time to come.
Cherry blossoms are starting to appear in London, giving off a wonderfully calm and beautiful presence – could Spring finally be here?! This feeling puts us in mind of the quietly beautiful Habu yarns and Japanese knitting and crochet books we carry at Loop. Based in New York City, but with a heavy Japanese influence, Habu describe their yarns as ‘slow’ materials that give soul to the fabrics they produce.
Habu yarns open up all kinds of creative possibilities and are perfect for experimentation. They come in little bundles, or on cones, wrapped up in simple brown paper.
We worked up a few swatches of these unique and inspiring yarns to show you some of the possibilities:
Habu’s Silk Stainless is one of our most unusual yarns. Its core is stainless steel, which is wrapped with silk to create a luminous and also structured fabric. We’ve known it to be used for jewellery, mixed with a wool yarn for scarves you can ‘shape’ and even as trims on cuffs or the bottoms of sweaters.
Here are some other combinations of Habu yarns we think would look stunning:
More inspiration for how to make use of these beautiful yarns can be found in the Setsuko Torii Hand-Knit Works book or the lovely Ori Ami Knits:
Or if you fancy trying out some stitch patterns and applying them yourself, try one of our fabulous Japanese stitch dictionaries:
And for some really very gorgeous Japanese knitting and crochet patterns try one of these (bear in mind that although the writing is in Japanese the patterns use a very clever charted system you can follow with the help of this book):
We hope you feel as inspired as we do by these lovely bundles of yarn and beautiful patterns. We look forward to seeing where your creativity takes you!
The vintage aesthetic has made a comeback in recent years and at Loop we can’t get enough! Our shop is nestled in beautiful Camden Passage, in amongst antiques dealers and vintage clothing boutiques, and Loop is no exception to the rows of vendors selling vintage goods. We scour flea markets around the world to find some wonderful and unique vintage items for you, your home or for a great gift!
We have stunning antique buttons…
Bakelite yarn holders and knitting needles from the 1940s and 50s…
And of course, lots of vintage inspired items too – like books with a modern take on vintage knitting patterns:
Vintage Modern Knits is great for a contemporary twist on the vintage aesthetic, and Vintage Knits for Modern Babies is full of timeless patterns for little ones. Love to crochet? Jane Crowfoot’s Homespun Vintage has knit and crochet patterns for the home. Also pictured above is one of our favourite yarns for knitting vintage patterns – Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. It’s a great 4ply wool perfect for fine-gauge jumpers and colourwork!
Be sure to keep an eye on our page of one-of-a-kind items. We add new finds to our collection of vintage goods all the time!
p.s. Did you love our post about Skein yarns last week? Even more colours have arrived in the shop today!
Have you heard of Skein? We had it at Loop last year, but if you blinked, you missed it because it veritably flew off the shelves! We now have a new base yarn in – a seriously luxurious 50% merino/50% silk blend – and we are so excited to have these amazing colours back in the shop!
Skein yarns are hand-dyed by Kristen all the way over on the northern coast of New South Wales in Australia. Kristen kettle dyes beautiful fibres in semi-solid and variegated colourways. We love them all, but are particularly fond of the colourways with random splashes of colour – gorgeous!
We were really lucky to catch a quick interview with Kristen about her life as a yarn dyer; we’re happy to be able to share it with you:
How long have you been dyeing and how did you start out? I have always been interested in dyeing, primarily because I grew up watching my mum dye silks with natural and acid-based dyes. When I started knitting, I was ‘introduced’ to Kool Aid dying via blogs and magazines. It really piqued my interest so I gave it a go and really enjoyed it, so much so that I started buying professional acid-based dyes. I played around with different dying techniques and, after a year of experimentation, I decided to open up an Etsy shop. That was in January 2010 and I haven’t looked back since.
What inspires your colours? Magazines, blogs, nature, movies…everything! I am always looking for unique colour combinations: I have a million notebooks that I carry around with me, and when I see something or think up an interesting colour combination, it gets jotted down. In fact, the best part about Skein is experimenting with colour – the more crazy the colour combination, the better!
What is a typical day at Skein like? I usually answer emails while eating breakfast. Luckily Skein HQ is located in a separate building in the backyard, so I walk out my back door and into the studio – no driving, no traffic, yay! From morning to lunch I dye up orders and from lunch to around 5pm I do bits and pieces like admin stuff, photography, marketing, stocktaking, organising wholesale orders, and so on. There are now two of us who work full time at Skein. Paul is the shipping guru: he skeins, labels, packs and ships all the orders which is a HUGE relief and means I can work normal hours and no weekends.
What’s your area of Australia like? Beautiful! We live in a small town about 15 minutes north of the city of Coffs Harbour, which is on the northern coast of New South Wales. It’s a subtropical climate, so there’s plenty of sun and a lot of humidity! In summer we walk to the beach at lunch time and have a swim; it’s a welcome relief after standing over boiling dye pots! From our house we have the choice of three beaches, all within walking distance. The area is surrounded by a national park; there’s plenty of birds, wallabies and kangaroos. The beaches are part of a large marine sanctuary – no resorts or developments allowed. It’s paradise!
The new yarn at Loop is a sportweight – meaning it’s thickness is right in between a 4ply and a DK – making it just perfect for shawls. We’re obviously a bit nuts for shawls at Loop – especially ones of the stripey variety – and Skein yarns couldn’t be more ideal. We matched up two of Kristen’s semi-solid colours for yet another Andrea’s Shawl – a pattern that is a firm Loop favourite.
You can view all the shades of Kristen beautiful yarn at Loop’s online shop here! We have recieved about one third of our order and are expecting the rest of the colours to come in over the next couple of weeks.
Here at Loop, we have long been fans of Knit Collage – we were the very first shop in the world to place an order for their yarns! Knit Collage is owned and run by the lovely Amy Small who designs these happy, cheerful yarns that are unlike any other. Amy teaches women who come from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Punjab region of India to spin beautiful fibres that incorporate tiny crocheted flowers, ribbons and other lovely trims into the yarns. Every single skein of yarn is completely unique!
Amy designs each and every yarn and colourway herself – all year round, she collects bits and pieces she thinks will be beautiful when spun into yarn. When she’s ready to design a new yarn, she’ll lay out all her fibres and trims and arranges them into tiny piles until she has a rainbow of colour combinations she likes. She then experiments with spinning these combinations together until yarns she’s happy with emerge from the wheel. Amy then works with her spinners in India to produce the yarn – she creates a ‘recipe’ for the spinning and that’s how each lovely, unique skein comes about! Amy tells us that India is the most inspiring, beautiful place she’s ever been, and that is truly reflected in her gorgeous yarns.
In the shop, we love marvelling at these magical balls of yarn, which are works of art in themselves before they’re even knit. But of course it would be a shame to waste them! Juju designed this adorable cowl to make the most of 1 ball of Knit Collage yarn, using simple garter stitch and an added bit of mohair.
Like each ball of Knit Collage, each Candy Cowl can be unique too! We had fun playing around with different colour combinations:
As always, we encourage you to be creative and adventurous with your colour choices!
Materials: 1 ball each of yarns A & B, below.
Yarn B: Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Debbie Bliss Angel, OR Party Angel (for a bit of sparkle). Hold Yarn B double or triple, (depending on how airy you want it) throughout. (Pictured: Rowan Kidsilk Haze in 653 Shadow)
Needles: 10mm circular needles (or use 9mm or 12mm, if that is what you happen to have).
Size: 90cm circumference
Note: The cowl is knit flat, then seamed. Since this is a pattern with an uneven number of row repeats and two different yarns, the yarn you need will sometimes be at the opposite end when you want it. Because you are using circular needles, you can knit (or purl) from whichever end the yarn presents itself. The stitch pattern remains in garter stitch throughout.
Cast on 40sts with Yarn A. Knit one row.
Rows 1-3: Knit 3 rows with Yarn B held doubled or tripled.
Rows 4&5: Knit 2 rows Yarn A.
Rep these 5 rows, 6 times, so that there are a total of 6 mohair stripes.
Knit 1 row in Yarn A and cast off.
Half twist the cowl into a mobius and sew short edges together into cowl shape.
You may also like to crochet some extra flowers and other shapes to stitch to your Knit Collage yarn. Or add in some more beads. Whatever takes your fancy!
You probably didn’t know you needed a bunny brooch for your shawl. But you do. You need one with a secret pocket for hiding little chocolate eggs in.
I won’t tell you if those chocolate eggs are part of the children’s egg hunt or if they are your own private stash. That’s up to you. But I offer you this little pattern for a Bunny Pin (with a Secret Pocket) to try out with some lovely natural wool yarns.