Frequently Asked Questions

Since we’re wrapping through the first month of this new year, and our new social media outreach has drawn some new eyes, we figured it was high time to answer some questions from our lovely knitworthy followers! IfĀ you have any burning questions we’ve missed, please do let us know: we can update this post and answer flash questions on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr!

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FO Friday: Dawnwings

Hello, friends and family! It’s a beautiful Friday for some beautiful knitting, isn’t it?

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Dawnwings is knit from the “Wings of Peace” pattern by Renate Haeckler. It uses nearly 700 yards of silk/merino blend DK yarn, knit on US size 9 needles.

It took me some time, stealing bits of knitting here and there in a busy year of commissions, gifts, and other projects, but I have finally finished my Dawnwings (companion to the Duskwings I completed for my wife last year.) This was one of the first patterns I fell in love with in my early weeks browsing Ravelry, and I knew I’d need one of my very own someday. Now, I have wings of my own!

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The silk blended into the yarn makes this knit less “warm” in the heat wave – but will still help trap heat when the cool weather returns.

This pattern is rather uniquely shaped – very long and good for wrapping around your neck in a more scarf-like manner, while still looking stunning draped traditionally over your shoulders. I’m fond of having folded wings over my shoulder, but the triangle scarf look is trendy right now (and a little less warm), so I might experiment. Or I might just hold the tips in my fingers, stretch out my arms, and pretend I’m flying. šŸ™‚

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Wheeeeee!

For this iteration, I used a very slightly lighter-weight yarn and smaller needles than I did for the Duskwings, although a more aggressive blocking led to a similar finished size. The yarn is also has a different construction method (single ply – fluffy and light) and fiber content (merino-silk blend). All in all, these differences add up to make Dawnwings much lighter, as is appropriate to the name.

I’m also extremely happy with the end effect of the color. Back in the very beginning, when I first discovered this pattern, I’d dreamed of making it in a yarn I’d found randomly googling small dyers – a shimmering merino-silk blend shifting between gold and peach, heavenly and magical to my baby-knitter eyes. When it came time to purchase yarn forĀ my shawl, though, I was committed to buying from my local yarn store, and thus picked this tonal gold colorway of Malabrigo’s Silky Merino. I’m in love with its brilliant brightness now. It’ll be easier to match with my wardrobe, to be perfectly honest, and I’m excited to wear it out and about.

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It’s a perfect pop of sunshine, and a good accessory to have on hand for overly-enthusiastic air conditioning (or for needing some shade from the sun).

I’d discussed in my Duskwings post some of the…Ā difficulties I encountered knitting said project. After having knit this pattern once before, and having developed my lace skills extensively in the meantime, I’m happy to say that I had a much easier road of it this time. I’m incredibly pleased with the look of the correctly knitted contour feathers (although Kai prefers her messy, organic style), and I enjoyed the pattern more when I understood how it was coming together under my fingers. I’ll be happy to experiment with knitting this again with different colorways and types of yarn.

All in all, this was an incredibly valuable knitting experience, and I have an incredibly wonderful shawl here at the end. It’s a good conclusion to a long and winding yarn-road of learning, and after taking a breather, I’m setting my eyes on the horizon, so to speak, of new projects. Let’s see what comes after the next turning of the sky.

-Kit

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A New Day

We’ve been teasing “big news” on our social media outlets for a few days, and here it is: we’ve outgrown our Etsy store, and we’ll be transitioning to other sales channels over the next few weeks. This has been a change slowly coming for a while; we’ve both been unhappy with our level of control over our current storefront, and we wanted more flexibility with our payment options than a traditional retail structure offers. Etsy has been developing in a direction that increasingly doesn’t suit how we prefer to do business: one-on-one, personalized interactions that let us help customers find the perfect knits for them. We need intuitive and hassle-free ways to manage custom commissions and payment plans for our more luxurious knits. We need a change.

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We want to keep our business centered around the ideals that inspired it: personality, comfort, and creativity.

As of yesterday, we’re now taking payments on our open commissions through Shopify invoicing: we’ll email you about updates if you’ve got an active commission. We’re currently in the process of setting up our Facebook Shop to get a feel for that platform, and we’re also testing our ability to sell directly through the Messenger app. In the near future, we’ll be offering more unique designs on new and existing channels, including more patterns coming soon on Ravelry. Long-term, we plan to build a gallery and storefront directly integrated here, on WordPress, where we can serve great products exactly the way we want to, with made-to-order knits, custom commissions, and in-person sales all easy to explore.

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We’re incredibly, unbelievably excited to make it easier than ever to show you what we can do, and to help you get the knitwear that suits you best.

 

Our Etsy store will remain open until July 15th, 2018, although it is currently only offering ready-to-ship knits (at a discount!) so that any final orders can be cleared rapidly. You can stay in touch with us through the comments here, on our Facebook Page, through Messenger, on Twitter, on Tumblr, or by email at cozyhearthyarnworks@gmail.com. We’re happy to answer everyone’s questions about this move, and we’re incredibly excited about our more flexible, dynamic, open future!

-Kit

Test of Time: Simple Shawl

I completed the knitting on what would become the primary photo sample for our Simple Shawl design in March of 2016, and it became one of the first listings on our storefront not too long after. Since one of the best features of hand-knit items, in my opinion, is that they’re designed to last, I thought I’d take some time today to review just how well that sample Simple Shawl has held up to regular use over the past two years.

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My very own Simple Shawl, two years old and still just what I wanted.

Looking at it now, I can see more tiny details I’d fix or change in this particular piece – details I have updated in the design we sell now. But the basic structure of the shawl has never changed, and I’ve continued to use the same yarn (a loosely-spun acrylic) even as my fiber tastes have matured. It’s a choice that has paid off – I was concerned that the fluffy texture wouldn’t hold up well, but after much wearing (and a few trips through the washing machine!), this sample is still squishy and soft. The surface texture has changed slightly – weathered, almostĀ gaining stitch definition as the yarn’s halo gently compacts – but retains its rustic charm.

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A close-up of the shawl’s stitches. The yarn remains in good condition, with wispy flyaway bits of fiber continuing to add softness and warmth against the skin.

I have no plans to change the yarn I use for this design after seeing how well it’s held up. I want to expand my offerings of more simple, rustic designs like this to include natural fibers, but having an inexpensive and incredibly durable option like this available makes sense to me. I still love this shawl. I want other people to get to love their own versions of this shawl, too.

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Wrapped with the point in front like I have here, draped over my shoulders, tucked over my lap… it keeps me warm, in body and in heart ā¤

It’s good to see my beginner efforts standing the test of time. We’re discussing some possible changes here at Cozy Hearth Yarn Works that we’ll hopefully be able to share with you soon, but one thing’s for sure – the Simple Shawl is here to stay.

-Kit

 

(Finally) Finished Object: Liara-Rose

Long-awaited, much anticipated… mostly just for me, but with the slowed pace of store work after the turn of the year, I was at last able to turn my attention to a “selfish knitting” project I’d set aside in favor of pattern design, festival booths, and the holiday rush – my Liara-Rose shawl. For all that this was the first circular shawl I’d ever cast on, it’s not the first I’ve finished – just the first finished circular shawl I get to keep for myself.

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The Liara-Rose is a circular lace “pi shawl,” knitted in 100% superfine alpaca fingering yarn, with a beaded knitted-on lace border.

At one point late in the pattern, back when I still thought I’d finish this in time to wear it to our first festival booth (oh, sweet summer me), I’d been very anxious about running out of yarn; thus, my particular iteration of this pattern has some notable “missing repeats” of the last lace chart in the body of the shawl as I hoped to avoid the delay of shipping in more yarn. Alas, even that didn’t save me – I ran out of yarn partway through the knitted-on edging, and the shawl was put in the back of a project cubby to get back to “just after I get through this.” I ordered more of the fingering-weight alpaca yarn, and told myself sternly that it wasn’t worth ripping back to add more body lace. As it turns out, I like the look of my alterations… and if I’d done the full body of lace, this might have turned out larger than I’d intended! As it is, it frames my body exactly as I’d hoped.

Another change from the pattern-as-written is evident in the beading. I wanted beads, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the design’s called-for parallel rows of beads at the edge. After some deliberation, I left only the outermost row of beads, and added a small four-bead flower motif in the center of each repeat of the edging lace. I love both the final look, and the beads themselves! I had such a hard time deciding what kind and color of beads to add; eventually, I settled on a variegated set of cool gray beads as yet another nod to the narrative origins of the pattern design.

I’m so incredibly in love with this shawl. I’ll be taking a break from epic-sized lace, briefly, to finish up some smaller projects (and to keep putting work into several sweater designs I’ve been workshopping), but never fear – I have two new pattern designs of my own and a whole folder of patterns on Ravelry for circle shawls I want to add to my collection. This is just the first of many – and what a good first it is!

-Kit

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Fiyero still thinks knitting photo shoots are all about him… in his defense, he’s an excellent model.

How to Care for Your Handknits

The promised guide is here! We’ve put basic washing instructions in the packaging with every order we’ve fulfilled here at Cozy Hearth Yarn Works, but sometimes, you just need a little more details. We get that. We’re rather detail oriented people ourselves. So, for your reading pleasure, we’ll walk you through the steps and hopefully answer all your questions about how to keep your treasured knits in the best possible condition.

Do you still have the packaging your knitwear came in? This has lots of relevant information attached – in the “Thank You” note, we also add details about the fiber your yarn is made of, and our basic recommendations for care. If you lost your card, feel free to get in touch with us to double check your fiber content.

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Fiber content and basic washing instructions are included in your Thank You card when your order arrives!

A lot of our offerings are either acrylic, or high-percentage acrylic blends, because we know making your knitwear care easier is valuable. Even with machine-washable knits, there’s a few things to keep in mind to keep your knitwear in best shape! Stick with cooler water and more gentle agitation if at all possible, as acrylic can be damaged by high heat. If you’re concerned about, say, sweater sleeves or the trailing ends of a shawl or scarf getting tangled and stretched, washing your knit in a garment bag (or even a pillowcase knotted at the top) can save you some heartache.

If at all possible, you want to dry every kind of knitwear flat for it to keep its best shape. Some acrylic yarns can technically handle a trip through the dryer on low heat, but again, heat can damage acrylic fibers, and softer yarns are likely to pill and lose their softness. Just take your damp knits out of the washer, gently stretch them back into shape if necessary, and leave them somewhere flat to dry out.

Now, if you’ve purchased something made with natural fibers, it’s a somewhat different story.

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A cotton baby set

Cotton, which is our fiber of choice both for washcloths and for a number of baby items, is very forgiving. It can be washed as hot as necessary, and can even easily handle a trip through the dryer on low. It can stretch under its own weight if stored hanging, but so far we’ve only debuted designs that won’t likely run into that problem. (If you decide to commission an oversized cotton sweater, that’s another story!)

Wool (and most animal fibers) can be damaged by rapid temperature changes, excessive agitation, and application of heat. Consequently, a lot of modern wool is put through a chemical process called “superwash” that removes some of those limitations. Superwash wool items can, in fact, go through your washing machine (although we’d still recommend drying them flat.) If your wool knit doesn’t say “superwash” on its instructions, it will need to be handwashed. Luckily, that’s easy!

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Wool knitting being handwashed in the sink

If you only have one knit item, set a clean bowl in your sink. (If you have more than one, or it’s a very large item, you might end up using the whole sink basin – use your judgement.) Fill your bowl with lukewarm water, and add a washing agent. There’s lots of specialty wool washes on the market. We use Soak, and we’ve had good results before with Kookaburra in terms of cleaning, although we weren’t huge fans of the very strong tea-tree-oil scent. In a pinch, you can use a bit of shampoo or (for lightly soiled items) conditioner you use on your own hair; wool is hair, after all. Swirl the wash around in the water until it’s integrated, then add your knits to the bowl. At this point, you should mostly just let your knits be: squeezing air bubbles out gently can help them stay submerged, but too much swishing or agitation risks felting your knits. Let it soak, and let the wash work its magic.

After the time listed on your wool wash (or after, say, 20 minutes with a homemade wash), gently lift your knits out. You can lightly squeeze out a bit of extra water, butĀ don’t wring them. Instead, lay them out on a clean bath towel, and roll up the knit to press out extra water without disturbing the knit fabric. Finally, reshape your knitting and lay flat to dry.

There’s the basics of care for all the fibers we currently carry! Someday, we’ll need to update you on the particulars of silk, and I’d like to write a basic troubleshooting guide for “something went wrong with my knit how do I fix it,” but I think I’ve rambled for long enough about fiber behavior and washing techniques. Stay cozy, friends, and take care of yourselves while you take care of your knits, ok?

-Kit

Gratitude and #SmallBusinessSaturday

Happy Holidays, one and all! We’ve been gearing up for the season for a while here at the Cozy Hearth, making sure that our customers, friends, and family stay warm this winter. We wanted to take some time on this year’s Small Business Saturday to celebrate small businesses in general (on our Twitter feed), and to be thankful for everything that makes our little knit-business run.

Our shop cats, of course, are always eager to help. They also make dashing, charismatic models for store photography, when they feel like cooperating. Which is, in true cat fashion, only sometimes.

 

Isaac and Fiyero both like to keep a close watch on all fibercraft proceedings.
Our suppliers make the things we need to make more things! While we do some online shopping for specific fiber or color needs, we’ve been transitioning more and more to purchasing our yarn from our local yarn store, Yarn Stories. Besides supplying yarn, the owner Lauren also supplies advice, cheerleading, and the most excellent back room for social knitting available.
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They also have Facebook!
Last but far from least, we need to thank Kai. My wife, Em’s sister-in-law, and the biggest supporter ever for Cozy Hearth Yarn Works. She’s provided a lot of startup funding, but more than that, she is our constant encouragement and biggest fan. Kai is our first choice for project critique, our favorite recipient of prototype knits, and our go-to consolation when things don’t go the way we dreamed. We literally wouldn’t exist without her encouragement. Thank you, Kai, for everything.
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ā¤
We sincerely hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and offer best wishes for your winter holidays to come!
-Kit

FO Friday: Open-Ended Treegarth

SoĀ on top of the planned Etsy-store-remodel and the furious preparations for our first festival booth in September, we have, of course, still been knitting store orders and custom commissions. I have the great pleasure of finally showing off my most ambitious commission yet – a nearly four-foot-diameter allover lace circle shawl, knittedĀ and designed by yours truly.

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This shawl is knitted on US size 5 needles, and contains around 1000 yd of yarn. Hand-picked by the customer, the yarn is actually a fingering-weight hand-dyed sock blend in three different colorways, and is a blend of merino wool, domestic wool, silk, and nylon.

I cast on this project at the end of March, with a general plan for the design (lace motifs selected, aĀ mostly finalized idea of order, and the general structure of a pi shawl in mind.) The center of the shawl features a star motif, followed by interspersed concentric rings and various styles of leafy lace charts. As I went, I had to adjust math (of course), check in for feedback from family, friends, and the luckily local customer, and listen to my instincts. The original design actually called for a much more finished style of edging, but as I neared the end, my heart was telling me that a more open, ruffled edge better matched the customer’s original inspiration. Since she and my live-in-knit-experts concurred, this one-of-a-kind version of the Treegarth design opens at its edge with unconstrained blooms of lace and a simple bind-off.

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Instead of the traditional knitted-on border, the shawl fades from the darkest colorway to the lightest and ends with an uncomplicated gentle ruffle.

I completed the knitting itself on Sunday, but that is not the end of the journey for lace projects like this. After some thoughtful planning and somewhat frantic search for a space big enough for the purpose, I embarked on the final steps of washing and blocking the shawl early yesterday morning. First, the entire piece was submerged in a mixture of lukewarm water and wool wash for fifteen minutes while I set up my work space. Then, after excess water was carefully drained and pressed out in a towel, I really set to work.

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Lace submerged for washing! For our natural fiber products, we use a wash containing tea tree oil and lanolin, which both removes dust-mite-type allergens and conditions the fibers into perfect softness.

Lace stitches are all about shape, and given yarn’s tendency to follow its spin, the shape of lace stitches can be rumpled and obscured when fresh off the needles. Luckily, natural fibers, especially animal-based fibers, are elastic, and take to reshaping fairly well. By stretching the shawl out and pinning it in place while wet, and not unpinning it until completely dry, I took a charmingly rumpled smallish circle of knitting to a wide, graceful drape over the course of a morning. (The pinning itself actually took an hour, for a piece this large – luckily, my blocking space was quite airy and the light weight of this yarn encouraged the drying step to pass relatively rapidly.)

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So. Many. Pins. For lace this complex, I prefer stretching and pinning not just the edges, but also in the center of motifs in order to get the perfect shaping.

After blocking was complete and all the pins meticulously collected, the shawl was ready to go to its forever home! Again, local commissions make this step much simpler – the customer was doing errands in the neighborhood and dropped by to try on her prize. From what I hear, it went straight home to display, and she’s excited to have it to wear both for a work-training week ahead and for the very same festival our shop will be selling at in September.

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Modeled on its owner, the shawl has excellent drape, and came out perfectly-sized for her frame.

 

While I can’t wait to refine the Treegarth design further, ideally for future pattern publication, I’m glad I went with my heart and made this particular commission one of a kind. It suits its owner perfectly, and it makes me happy to know that, after all that work, it’s so incredibly loved. Here’s to making more adored knitwear as we continue – onward and upward!

-Kit

Change is Gonna Come

Hey all! First of all, we owe you an apology for the long silence. Our summer has been jam-packed with friends’ weddings (and the associated furiously working needles on wedding gifts), some schedule shifts (as my wife’s workplace expands), and a lot of taking stock. Some of that taking stock was literal – Em and I embarked on a project to fully itemize our personal and professional yarn stashes, which involved almost six hours of up-front labor and a lot of follow-up documentation.

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Over 100 kinds of yarn = a lot of photography!

Right now, though, we’re getting ready for some more changes. I’m getting more confident with our Twitter account (if you haven’t seen it, check out the widget at the bottom of the page!). Em is organizing all of our records better. We’reĀ both knitting and planning ahead for our first-ever festival booth – more on that later. And, most importantly, we’re going to be giving our Etsy store a full remodel over the next few weeks, so that we can better use all of Etsy’s features to communicate with visitors to the shop.

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Always a work in progress.

We’ll be back with more posts here soon – we’ve got some exciting thoughts about fiber, pattern design, and of course all the projects we’ve been knitting. In the meantime, pardon our dust, and have a great summer of your own. ā¤

-Kit

Pattern Design: Mori Lace Gloves

That’s right, bumblebees and chickadees, I’ve worked out my first pattern design! (I should say, the first design that’s complete and I’m willing to let see the light of day… there’s a few failed monstrosities of pattern drafts stuffed into trash bins around here, and I wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a giant lace shawl pattern in the works in the background.) These gloves are inspired by construction details from several different fingerless mitts, but the lace charts for the back of the hands are originally the property of Ana at knit-nana, repurposed from her inimitable Mirno shawl design with her gracious permission. (Thanks Ana!)

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My hand-copied draft chart, and an early prototype knit.

The lace comes out quite differently at the gauge used for mitts (I tried a few different worsted weight yarns at US size 7 needles). I’d originally thought it would be best shown in a lighter worsted yarn with a bit moreĀ shine to the fiber, but, surprisingly, Em’s test knit yarn choice (of which I was incredibly dubious) is my favorite finished test knit so far.

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Em’s finished test knit, in 2-ply merino hand-dyed with rudbeckia.

Em chose to do a test knit using yarn gifted to us for Christmas (thanks Grandparents Boyle!). The yarn is more deeply tied to our family than simply by gifts, though; our cousins Paul and Sadie run the excellently adorable Foothills Flowers Farm in Washington, and above and beyond the beautiful blooms, they also sell yarn hand-dyed with their own flowers through their online shop. It’s definitely worth checking out, and I highly recommend their yarn for this design! (Disclaimer: Paul and Sadie didn’t pay me anything for this; I just really like their yarn.)

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Detail of the geometric Mori Lace.

The Mori Lace Gloves use a simple lace at the wrist to create a gentle ruffle, then proceed up the hand with geometric lace at the back (bordered with a subtle 1×1 cable on each side) and a simple thumb gusset. There are special instructions for a bind-off that hits the sweet spot between stretchy enough for finger and thumb movement, and firm enough to not stretch out of shape. None of the lace stitches are exceedingly advanced; any intermediate lace knitter or adventurous beginner could have an easy time making a sweet, rustic set of fingerless mitts.

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C’mon, you know that thumb gusset looks awesome!

That said: readers who areĀ also knitters, if any of you are interested in test-knitting to help me iron out the last bugs in my instructions before I publish to Ravelry, I would love to hear from you! Shoot us an email at cozyhearthyarnworks@gmail.com, or get in touch with me through whatever social media you prefer.

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Bonus feature: looking stylish and staying warm while enjoying your knitting-fuel of choice.

For now, back to proofreading, and figuring out Ravelry’s “add a pattern” process…

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Happy knitting!

– Kit