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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Loops Troops' picks: Fibre Company Road to China Light.

Today's Loops Troop pick comes from Barbara...and Gina!  They are both in love with the Fibre Company's Road to China Light, a strong, soft, drapey yarn with lots of body – perfect for luxurious, soft sweaters and accessories. 

Kettle dyed for beautiful depth of color, Road to China Light is 65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel and 10% cashmere.  Each skein is 159 yards, and it works up on a recommended gauge of 6-6.5 sts/inch on US #3-4 needles.

Barbara's first project in "RTCL" was the Dustland Hat by Stephen West.  She loved it so much that she cast on for another project, turning Jared Flood's Guernsey Wrap into a scarf.  "I got the idea from VisualFallacy's Father's Day Scarf on," Barbara said.  "I cast on 34 stitches, holding the yarn double.  I just love how this yarn feels in my hands.  Such a pleasure to knit with."

Here's Barbara, wearing another of her recently finished projects - a 5th Avenue Infinity Scarf made with Tanglewood Beaded Cashmere and Silk.

Gina H. seconds Barbara's emotions about Road to China Light.  "I LOVE this yarn!" Gina says.  "It has to be one of my all-time favorites.  So soft, a beautiful sheen, it has a fine "halo" and best of all, the color is a subtle semi-solid.  Yum!"

Gina designed our Osage Cowl using RTCL.  

She's also working on a Sycamore Vest in RTCL.

Road to China Light is available at both Loops locations.  You can also preview the colors or purchase the yarn here on

- Shelley

Monday, December 3, 2012

Loops Troops' picks: Debbie Bliss Riva.

Today, Loops Troops staff member Ruth weighs in with her favorite fast-knitting yarn for holiday gift knitting:  Debbie Bliss Riva.

"British yarn Riva - lofty yet warm, love the heathery colors," Ruth says.  "Riva is perfect for a simple moss stitch scarf.  Decide the width you want after determining your gauge.  Cast on an odd number of stitches accordingly.  Then just K1, P1 for every row.  At the end of one episode of "Downton Abbey Season #2," you are well on your way to a lovely Christmas gift.  Now bring me some figgy pudding!"

Debbie Bliss Riva is a supersoft blend of 70% wool and 30% acrylic.  It has 88 yards per skein and knits at a chunky gauge of 3.5 stitches to 1 inch on US #10.5 needles.  You can also try #11 or even #13 needles for a soft, drapey look and feel.

Shop Loops' great Riva selection at either location or here at

- Shelley