Monday, March 11, 2013

The Loops Troops team up for the spring knitalong challenge!

We asked.  You answered.  And now we've got 5 - count 'em, 5 - knitalongs chosen by you, starting next week at Loops!

The Loops Troops have formed 5 teams, each with a different project.  Everybody's using different yarns, to keep it interesting.  And to keep it even more interesting, we've got...wait for it...


The KAL team that gets the most members by April 1 is the **winner**.  You become a team member by (a) purchasing your yarn from Loops or, and (b) showing up for at least one weekly knitalong and signing in, OR posting a photo of your yarn in our Loopalicious Ravelry group, under the corresponding KAL group.  The group threads will be up by tomorrow morning, March 12.

And now for the prizes.

Everyone on the **winning** team gets a $10 Loops gift card.  Yeah, we said everyone.  Also, you can be a little sneaky and join multiple teams to increase your odds.

And really, everyone wins, because you get to make a gorgeous project and get free support along the way!  Do keep in mind, these are not classes.  You need to be familiar with cast on, knit, purl, increase and decrease to participate...and for the lace classes, you should know what a YO is :)  For the crochet-along, you need to know chain stitch, single crochet and double crochet.

Now, for the five Loops Spring KAL (and CAL) groups!

1. Team Tuesday Night Wrap Stars.  This group will meet Tuesday nights at Loops Utica from 6-7:30pm, starting Tuesday, March 19th.  Making Roberta's Wrap.  Many of us have made this super-easy, super-versatile vest in Louet Euroflax (shown below).  Jane and Ruth will be using Ripple and Lontue for a two-tone version with a multi effect for one section.

Love this 2-tone version...

2. Team Racy Lacy.  This group will meet at 2pm Wednesday at Loops South, starting March 20th.  They will be making the Lace Ponchette.  Team leaders Janet, Cindy, Linda and Loretta are using 4 different yarns: Sublime Silk & Bamboo DK, Firefly, Malabrigo Silky Merino and Louet Euroflax.  Here's a photo of your leaders:

And here's the project (photos by rei on ravelry):

3. Team Scowlicious.  This group will also meet Tuesday nights at Loops Utica from 5:30-7:00, starting Tuesday, March 19th.  They will be making the crocheted Net Scowl.  Sherri is leading the group and using Cristallo, plus she will have lots of yarn ideas, including the Rapport and Prism Euroflax that our two Ginas used for their Scowls:

4. Team Steamy will meet Thursdays from 1:30-3:00pm at Loops Utica, making the Age of Brass and Steam Shawlette, starting March 21st.  This is a great first lace project.  Looks great in Berroco Linsey (shown below) and any DK or worsted yarn with good drape.  Cassidy and Holly will be the team leaders.

5. Team Dirty Skirty includes Tracy, Nancy and Gina R.  They will be meeting Sundays at Loops South from 1:00-3:00, starting March 17, and making the Lanesplitter skirt (although the Swirl Skirt got lots of votes, we've researched it and we think the Lanesplitter is a little easier, with more flattering results).  Below are some photos by NelkinDesigns (and by the way, she has some great notes for making the skirt seamless on her blog, here!  Thanks Laura!).  Linsey and Kudo are great yarn choices for this.

So...ready, set, start your needles!  Get your yarn and get into a knitalong group next week!

-  Shelley
shop online at

P.S. Special thanks to new Looper, Pam M., for taking the impromptu photo of the Racy Lacy team! When you walk into Loops, you never know when you might get hit up to be a photographer - or a model!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spring KAL's: Just tell me whatcha want, whatcha really really want.

The Loops Troops are into spring knitting right now.  I mean, really into it.  Our spring yarns have been pouring into the store, and the texts have been flying back and forth, as we try to decide what to do for spring knitalongs (and crochet-alongs).

So I thought we'd ask you, our beloved customers, to help us decide.  This is a compendium of text and screen grabs, so be gentle on the quality of the photos, please :)

Lizzy Cowl/Poncho:

Swirl Skirt:

Lanesplitter skirt:

Stone's Throw Scarf:

Osage Cowl:

Lois Cowl:

Sexy Little Shawl:

Roberta's Wrap:

Dovetail Vest:

Honey Cowl:

Age of Brass and Steam:

Lace Ponchette:

Summit (photo from Ravelry):

Reixa (photo from Quince & Co.)

Net "Scowl" (crochet):

Cast your "vote" by commenting, either on this page or our Facebook page.  We'll announce the winning knitalongs and/or crochetalongs next week!

Thanks for playing!

- Shelley
shop online at

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Purl sez, win this yarn!

Today, Purl would like you to win this fabulous bag of Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK:

Really, she would.  It makes her happy when people get excited.  Almost as happy as she gets when you play fetch with her nasty rubber chicken.

Or with her even nastier stuffed chicken.  (Are you sensing a theme here?)

Anyway, we Loops Troops absolutely adore Baby Merino Silk DK.  Gene loved it so much, he designed a baby blanket for it.

And it's not just for baby stuff.  The merino/silk content, soft hand and sophisticated heathered colors make it ideal for scarves, shawls and sweaters, too.

So, for your chance to win a full bag of 10 skeins, post a comment telling us what you would make with the yarn.  Be sure to leave your email address or name in the comment so we can find you if you win.  You can also tell Purl how cute she is.  She can never get enough of that.  Right, Purl?

- Shelley
shop online at

Friday, January 25, 2013

Giotto. Gorgeous any way you say it.

This week, we received a new shipment of one of our longest-running bestsellers at Loops.

Giotto is a ribbon yarn that is hand-dyed in colorways like no other.

(Purl was helping out with my impromptu photo shoot.)

"No, don't make me choose!" she says.

Each hank has great yardage and it knits up super quick.  Customers always say the same thing:  It's gorgeous!  How do you pronounce it?  And what can I make with it?

The company that sells it says it's pronounced "zhatto," with a soft "j."  I call it "gee-oh-toe."  It's named for an Italian painter, so maybe our Italian friends can weigh in on the comments...

As far as what to make with it, I love anything with a dropstitch.  The easy dropstitch really shows off the hand-painted beauty of the yarn, which you can see even better when you open up the hanks.

Here's an example of a dropstitch scarf in Giotto by helenodriscoll on Ravelry:

And there is a really cute tunic pattern we can send you with purchase of the 4 or 5 skeins of Giotto you need to make it.  Modeled her by Loops Troops member Pat "Call me!" N.:

Tracy is planning a knitalong on this tunic.  For details, visit the Loopalicious ravelry page.

And just to whip everyone into a little more frenzy, let's have a little giveaway.  Leave a comment on the blog about your favorite Giotto color, and what you would make with a free skein!  We'll draw a winner this coming Thursday, Jan. 31.

To shop our Giotto selection, go here.

Happy looping!

- Shelley

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ritalin Cowl.

My mom loves to tell the story about when I was a toddler and she begged the pediatrician for something, anything, to calm me down.  She insisted I was hyperactive.  He said no, he didn't think so, but she could try this new medicine called Ritalin.  And if I wasn't truly "hyper," she would know it, because it would make me even wilder.  Not possible, she said. 

Sure enough, a couple of hours later, she caught me trying to scale a brick wall in our living room.  Like a crazed spider trying to escape a metal bucket.  I don't know what's more disturbing, the story or the fact that our living room had a brick wall.  But hey, it was the '70s.

The truth it, everyone who knits has a little ADD I think.  That's why we all love casting on projects.  It's why we all have (shhhhh) secret stashes.  And it's why I like projects that don't get boring.  So I have a fighting chance of staying engaged until it's done.

That's why I designed this Ritalin Cowl.  It's perfect for ADD knitters.  Just when you get tired of a stitch, or a color, wheeeee here comes a new one!  I wanted to show off the amazing range of colors in this yarn from the Fiber Company called Acadia.  

Acadia is an absolutely luscious, completely original 2-ply yarn with a subtle tweed effect and the softest hand - thanks to the luxe combo of merino wool, baby alpaca and silk.   I think some people are a little afraid of it at first, with its tweedy tufts of texture.  But Acadia works up like a dream and has surprisingly awesome stitch definition.

I had such fun choosing colors.  At first, I was sure I wanted to cull from the gorgeous blues and greys:

But I just kept gravitating to this warmer palette.  The purples and copper and crazy lime were just calling to me.  HEY LOOK, LOOK AT HOW SHINY WE ARE, A-D-D GIRL.

And so my Ritalin Cowl was born.

Now, I'll bet you'd like the pattern already.

Ritalin Cowl
You will need 1 skein each of 4 colors Acadia.  I used Blackberry (A), Wild Onion (B), Amber (C) and Kelp (D). 
Using #8 32" circular needles, cast on 250 sts with Color A.  Join to work in round.  I tried not to twist, but I accidentally got one twist in there I guess...which isn't the end of the world...just do your best.

Seed stitch border:
Rounds 1:  *K1, P1* to end
Rounds 2:  *P1, K1* to end
Repeat these two rounds 2x more for a total of 6 seed-stitch rounds.

Still working with Color A, knit 10 rounds.

Still working with Color A, work eyelet ridge section:
Purl one round.
*YO, k2tog* one round.
Purl one round.

Now switch to Color B, knit 10 rounds, and work another eyelet ridge section.
Switch to Color C, knit 10 rounds, and work another eyelet ridge section.
Switch to Color D, knit 10 rounds, and work a seed stitch border.  (There is no eyelet ridge in Color D.)

Bind off very loosely.  Lightly steam block.
Be creative with your Acadia colors, embrace your knitting ADD, and enjoy!

- Shelley

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Yarns of Christmas: Rowan Big Wool

Today we kick off a the 12 Yarns of Christmas with one of our favorite fast-knitting yarns:  The fat, the fabulous  Rowan Big Wool.

Gina R. loves Big Wool because it's great for beginners.  "It shows texture well and looks great when worked on big #17 needles.  Fast and great results!"  We all love that!

Gina designed one of her beginner patterns, the Appleseed Scarf, using Rowan Big Wool.

One of our other favorite patterns for Big Wool is the ever-popular GAPtastic Cowl, a free ravelry download.  But I'll let you in on a secret.  Big Wool, which is spun from soft merino, is much softer, more durable and luxurious than the yarn called for in the GAPtastic pattern.

We also carry an alternative to Big Wool that's wool, but not merino, so it's not quite as soft.  But it costs a bit less and is a great yarn nonetheless.  It's Cascade's Lana Grande.

Big Wool and Lana Grande, together, helped me solve a little problem this season.  See, my children have the most spectacular stockings, each needlepointed by their three great-aunts.  These amazing aunts have made 18 of these mega-stockings for their relatives.  Can you imagine?

Trouble is, next to these gorgeous handmade stockings, the little cheap store-bought ones that Brent and I have looked kinda sad.   I feared that another Christmas would come and go without a new stocking for Brent.  Then I spotted this at Gina H's house:

Hooray - a handmade stocking fast enough to make by Christmas!  And after just a little cajoling, Gina agreed to whip up a pattern.  I picked out some blue Big Wool to coordinate with our other stockings, plus a marled Lana Grande for the contrast color.  In just a few evenings, my first "Big Love Stocking" was born!

Here are some close-ups.  It has the cutest little jingle bells on the jester-style tips of the cuff:

Gina has generously agreed to make this pattern free, with purchase of the yarn to make it, through Christmas, after which time it will by $5.99.  Better yet, Big Wool is one of our 12 yarns of Christmas, which are on sale 20% off, now through the 24th!  Shop our Big Wool selection at either Loops location or here on  Shop Lana Grande (not on sale but a great deal even at regular price), here.

Watch our Loops Facebook page every day from now until Christmas for info on our other 11 yarns of Christmas!

- Shelley

Monday, December 10, 2012

Loops Troops' Picks: Rowan Lima and Alpaca Chunky.

Loops Troops member, Loretta, fell in love with Rowan Lima last fall when it first arrived at Loops. 

 "It flew off the shelves pretty quickly, but I was able to get two skeins that I turned into the Rikke Hat," Loretta says.  "It was so cute and knit up so quickly that I immediately cast on for another one, both of which ended up in Chicago with my daughter.  They are super soft and plenty warm."

Rowan Lima has a chain-like construction that makes it light and lofty.  It's composed of 84% baby alpaca, 8% merino and 8% nylon, and has 109 yards per skein.  Originally introduced as a DK yarn, Lima is really a worsted and works up best at a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch or even less.  It is much softer at a looser gauge, and the chainette construction helps minimize pilling so you can get away with the looser gauge.

Lima's big sister is Rowan Alpaca Chunky.  It's 98% alpaca, 2% polyamide, and 76 yards per big, chunky skein.  It knits at 2.75 stitches per inch on #15 needles.  And even though she usually prefers smaller-gauge yarns, Loretta has fallen for this one, too.

"Like everyone one else, I'm caught in the cowl craze," Loretta says.  "I first made a Garter Stitch Eternity Scarf in Cascade's Baby Alpaca Chunky for the store..." 

"Then I realized I could whip up another for my daughter in Rowan Lima.  I modified it slightly to  make it a bit smaller to make sure my 2 skeins would get 'er done and, sure enough, it's as cute and wearable as ever."

"Now I'm thinking, maybe one more in Rowan Alpaca Chunky.  Hmm...which color to make?"

- Shelley