Join our stashbusting summer

There are so many lovely yarns coming out for Autumn, but we know some of you are saying that you don’t have room in your stash.

With this in mind, it is time for a session of summer stashbusting – that way you can make some room. Here are a few ideas and some pics to give you inspiration.

Stripe it

We’ve all had the frustration of not quite having enough yarn in the stash for a whole garment, hat or scarf. But as we know stripes and even colour blocks are very fashionable right now. Check your stash again to see if you have enough yarn in two or three colours to make a whole garment. Then pick a pattern you like and work out how your stripes or colour blocks are going to work. This is a chance to be adventurous with colour.

Inspiration from top left: Striped T-shirt from Wendy; Stripey accessories from James C Brett; C+B Lolli colour block sweater; Stylecraft Wondersoft baby sweater; Rico Essentials Super Kid Mohair Loves Silk stripes scarf

Stripes are something you can really go for in kids’ hats and mitts. Collect up all your odd balls of DK yarn, for example, and pick out simple beanie and mitten patterns. Then randomly pull out yarns work a few rows in each to create fun rainbow effects.

Sock heels and toes

If you have odd amounts of sock yarns to use up you could go down the stripe route or you could make socks with contrasting cuff ribs, heels and toes. A great choice for contrast heels is to use a sock pattern with an afterthought heel

You can also take a similar approach to the bands and cuffs of a sweater, think vintage sweaters and cricket jumpers for inspiration.

Inspiration from left: Hayfield baby cardigans with a contrast edge; Socks with contrast heels knitted by JuJu Vail; Wendy cricket slip over

Granny squares

Crochet squares are a great use of stash yarn and another opportunity to get creative with colour. You could go all out and feed as much of your stash as possible into a blanket but there are lots of smaller projects to contemplate – cushions, tote bags, pencil cases, scarves and gadget covers. Remember that if you go for a more lacy square pattern like the traditional granny square you may need to line your project.

Inspirations from left: Wendy Serenity blanket; Debbie Bliss Rachel bag; Sirdar Harrap Tweed DK blanket

Toys

If there are youngsters in the family why not turn your left over yarn into some fun friends for them, Toy patterns range from simple squares to elaborate families of costumed animals, there is something for everyone. And they are no reason not to have fun with colour – there are some very well loved multi-coloured dinosaurs and pink cats out there.

Stylecraft Crochet Dragon Heads; King Cole tortoises 

Charity knits

And if none of the above appeals, why not check out our charity pages on the website. There are free patterns and links to charities who use knitting in their fund raising appeals  – from helping refuges or the Grenfell Tower families to protecting animals and raising awareness of various health conditions.

And if you do decide to join in with a sport of summer stashbusting let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages (tag #summerstashbusting ) and share pictures of what you make.

 

New yarns for all the family

August is the time of year where we start to see new yarns for autumn and winter appearing in our yarn shops. There are always interesting new offerings, colours etc so we will probably do several posts with new yarns that catch our attention over the next couple of months. However, we have already noticed a trend for new practical washable yarns suitable for knits for all the family, as well as being great options for youngsters to try a first project with, so we’re starting with those.

Clockwise from top left

Wendy Stella chunky

Stripes and ombre colour effects are still very popular and this yarn will give you that look on chunky garments and accessories. This soft yarn has colour tones that fade from solid into blended shades and back again giving a subtle stipe effect.

Sirdar No 1

This double knitting crepe yarn has been designed to be a classic DK with something for everyone in the family thanks to its wide colour palette. A practical go-to DK.

Stylecraft Tweedy DK

With 26% cotton Tweedy is a a good choice for autumn knits, especially with a collection of interesting heathered shades to create fun colour effects that will look good on garments and soft accessories to add an extra layer.

James C Brett Stonewash DK

This range of lighter-coloured variegated yarns incorporates the fading you see in stonewashed fabrics. The fresh range of colours should show stitch patterns well.

DY Choice Apollo

Another yarn offering stripe effects, this time in a DK. Apollo has long colour repeats giving stripes of vibrant colours. The 300g balls mean you could make a cheerful kids jumper from a single ball.

King Cole Big Value Baby 4ply Spot

This is a fun variation on a 4ply baby yarn, adding spots of colour. We don’t think it is just for babies though. Combine it with a toning solid colour to create interesting stripes or a different approach to colour block style garments.

 

Trendwatch: Superbright knits

This is the summer of colour. Alongside colour block and stripe patterns, the trend of this summer is strong colours.

We have mentioned the Fuschia trend already but zingy oranges and yellows, pillar box red, lapis blue, emerald greens and electric purples are all also great choices.

To be on trend all you need to do is pick a pattern you like and choose a bold, vibrant shade to make it in. Don’t be afraid of bright colours – they look great in the sunshine and show of your great makes.

Here we have selected some yarns that could help you achieve that bold look in your summer knits.

 

Tips: Summer knitting and crochet with cotton

At this time of year we often think about using cotton yarns to create cool, summer garments.

If you are used to working mainly with wool, cotton can behave differently so we have collect some useful tips to help you with your warm weather projects. Thank you to everyone who contributed tips on social media.

Needles

Your choice of needles can make a real difference to your experience of working with cotton. Many people prefer bamboo needles over metal to get the most accurate tension.  Metal needles can allow the cotton to slip and slide a bit too much.

The other downside of combining metal needles with cotton can be splitting. Because of how the fibres form in cotton yarn, particularly sharp needles can easily slip into the yarn rather than a whole stitch causing splits.

Crochet

Cotton yarn is very popular for crochet. It forms very crisp well defined stitches and firm fabric. So choose your crochet pattern with that in mind. 

Finished fabric

Cotton yarn behaves differently to wool, so if you decide to substitute cotton in a pattern written for wool, the finished item will look different. This can be a good thing but it is worth swatching carefully.

cotton yarn

You can see here how on the green swatch, which is in wool using the same yarn weight and needles, the rib is pulling in more than the cream cotton yarn.

Because cotton softens over time and can be heavier than wool it is a good idea to choose patterns with firm tension to avoid sagging – some people go down a needle size when working in cotton.

Swatch and then wash your swatch to get a good idea about how a particular cotton yarn behaves.

Using long colour change and self-striping yarns

As we revealed in our post about summer knitting trends, stripes are in.

One of the ways to achieve lovely striped garments is to use yarns dyed with long sections of contrasting colours that give you stripes as you work.

There are lots of these yarns about at the moment as you can see from this selection.

There are plenty of accessory patterns for these types of yarns at the moment and they do make fabulous shawls and scarves, but they are also lovely for sweaters and cardigans and especially on trend right now.

If you are going to use a self-striping yarn for a garment there are a couple of things to think about before you start. Mainly this centres around whether you want the stripes to match on the front and back of a garment and the sleeves to match.

If this is important to you, you may need to wind off some yarn at the start of some parts of the garment. For example if the front and back are to match you will need each to start at the same place in the stripe sequence, which will mean winding through the yarn to the matching spot.

You will also have to keep an eye on the stripes at each side of the front neck so they line up – otherwise if the stripes match elsewhere your garment could look lopsided.

On the other hand if you are not worried about the stripes lining up, just go for it and enjoy the effect as with this Noro top.

noro taiyo

Trendwatch: In the pink for summer knits

It seems that if you want to look the height of fashion this summer go for a strong pink yarn.

In its Colour of Year predictions Pantone point to a series of strong pink shades to tone with the leaf green it picked out as this year’s colour.

Meanwhile in its summer trends review Vogue tells us to avoid pale pinks and to go bold with fuschia.

With this in mind we had a look to find some yarns to keep you right on this trend this summer.

 

Using tape and ribbon yarn

When we took a look at summer knitting and crochet trends last week, mesh knits were among the looks we highlighted.

One way of achieving summery mesh looks is using tape or ribbon yarns with lacy or drop stitch patterns.

Tape and ribbon yarns are pretty much what the name implies flat yarns that look like lengths of tape or ribbon. They are often used on larger needles creating a light summery fabric which can be great for tops and cardigans for warmer weather.

Working with a flat yarn rather than a more usual round one, can seem a little different. The yarn will give more pronounced stitched because of its shape and will naturally want to twist as you knit so you should take care to lay your yarn flat over the needle as you make your stitches.

Choose patterns that show off the yarn using big enough needles to show the colours and texture of the yarn, rather than very delicate stitch patterns to create fun knits.

A few tape yarns and similar for you to take a look at: