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  • Stock Your Sock Drawer - Andrea Rangel

    We are so happy to host Andrea Rangel here on our blog for our Stock Your Sock Drawer Series. Andrea has been a part of Tolt from the very beginning, designing our first pattern, the Tolt Hat and Mitts, and continues to collaborate with us on special projects, including our Farm to Needle book. Our recently published Camp Tolt Pattern, Okanogan Socks, were designed by Andrea; when we decided that we wanted a pattern for technical hiking socks, we knew immediately who we wanted to ask... 
    You can follow Andrea on her blog and on Instagram @andrearangelknits and be sure to check out her book, Rugged Knits



    1.  Do you consider yourself a "sock knitter"?   Why do you like to knit socks?

    I’m an everything knitter, including socks! I love to wear hand knit socks, so it’s always good to add to my wardrobe. And, like most sock knitters, I appreciate how portable a sock project is. Just one ball of skinny yarn brings lots of hours of enjoyment!


    2.  When did you knit your first pair of socks?   Was it harder or easier than you thought?


    I knit my first pair of socks for my grandad when I was a fairly new knitter. They were in a weird microfibre yarn and they came out enormous. Not sure why I sent them anyway, but he still gets a good laugh out of them and I know he appreciated the effort. Making the socks was easier than I expected (aside from my gauge and materials issues - we’re always learning, right?), but turning the heel was so magical! I didn’t have any understanding of what I was doing - I just followed the directions without question and when that little heel pocket appeared I was so amazed. It was like alchemy! Just follow this magic spell and a sock will appear! I still love that about knitting socks.


    3. Are you a DPN or Magic Loop knitter and why?   Has it always been that way? If not when and why did you make the switch?


    I’m all about the magic loop. It’s so much less finicky in my opinion, and I can just use my favourite interchangeable needles for it instead of having to go fetch something different. I did start out knitting socks with dpns, but I never warmed to them. They always felt a little overwhelming (and I would always drop my needle on the floor when I got to the end of one!), so I was delighted to find out about magic loop.






    4. Do you have a favorite pattern or heel and toe construction?


    I like knitting socks every whichaway and don’t really have favourites. Toe-up is great because it allows for adjusting the leg length without much trouble, but the traditional top-down sock with a reinforced heel and Kitchener toe is such an elegant construction that I love it too! The heel and gusset in that construction are particularly pleasing and I love the way they fit.


    5.  Is there a favorite sock yarn at Tolt that you have worked with or want to work with?


    My favourite pair of socks right now is my Clochan design knit up in Hazel Knits Entice MCN (which could easily be substituted by YOTH Little Brother or Hazel Knits Artisan Sock). I was initially a little nervous that they wouldn’t wear as well because of the cashmere content, but they feel so luxurious and have proved to be super sturdy! I wear them as boot socks and hike in them and they make my feet so happy. 





    6.  Do you have any tips, tricks or advice you can give to other sock knitters new or experienced?


    When I first started knitting socks, I had trouble getting the snug gauge that makes a comfy and durable sock. I’m a pretty loose knitter, but wrapping my yarn twice around my index finger instead of my usual one time, thus adding a bit of extra tension, made all the difference! My advice is to be willing to try new things - tension your yarn a little different, knit a sock construction you’ve never tried, use a different yarn! 
    I also have a recommendation about fit - try knitting your socks with a bit of negative ease. I usually wear socks that are about an inch smaller than my actual foot circumference. In fact, I knit the XS size of my new sock pattern, Okanogan, which is 6.5 in/16.5 cm, and it fits my 8.25 in/21 cm foot just fine. I had to be a bit forceful to get the sock on my foot, but once it was there, it was comfy. 
    Hand knit socks aren’t as stretchy as store bought ones, so that can take a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth it! You can knit socks to be really durable by working at a snug gauge and reinforcing wear points like heel and toes (see Okanogan again), but the true genius is that hand knit socks can be repaired! If you get a hole in your store-bought socks, all you can really do is throw them away. But handmade socks are survivalist socks. With a little spare yarn and a darning needle you can reinforce worn stitches. Add a couple double pointed needles and you can fix actual holes! That makes hand knit socks super practical as well as being special. 
    Happy sock knitting! 




    P.S. If you’re ready to stock your sock drawer, I hope you’ll have a look at Okanogan! It comes in a bunch of sizes and it’s got tons of clever details to make it the perfect trail sock.
  • Best Friend Vasa




    When Veronika first told me she was releasing a new yarn for light weight summer knits I was eager to see it.   I love wool yarn and it's usually the only thing I knit with which means I don't have many hand knits for the warmer weather ( actually, I think I only have one hand knit summer top!).  I told Veronika I was excited to see her Best Friend yarn and wanted to knit a Vasa tee with it, she kindly offered to send me a couple of skeins just in time for my trip to Santa Fe.  

    The yarn arrived the day before we were to fly out which didn't leave much time for swatching.   I decided to do something that I would never recommend to another knitter... I skipped the swatch.  Instead of going in blind I thought it wise to ask Veronika what she would recommend in the way of needles.   Vasa has a gauge of 24 stitches per four inches using fingering weight yarn on a recommended US 3 (3.25mm) needle, since Best Friend in a light fingering Veronika suggested I use a US 5 (3.75).  Veronika, the queen of swatching, warned me that this was a suggestion and that I wasn't to blame her if the garment didn't fit, haha!





    My plan was to knit the Vasa in the round.   Sitting on the plane I cast on the front panel stitches and worked a few rows of garter (knitting flat) and after about an inch and a half I put those stitches on hold and cast on the back panel stitches and worked them the same way. I then joined both pieces and worked them in the round until the desired length, purling two stitches on each side for a faux seem. When I reached the underarm I split for front and back and worked those pieces flat. Then, I bound off for the neck leaving an even amount over the shoulder so that I could do a three needle bind off.   

    This was a perfect project for my adventures in Santa Fe, simple and light weight, and I am so pleased with the way it turned out. I ended up getting about 25 stitches per four inches. The top turned out to be about a 34" bust (the smallest size) instead of the 38" bust I cast on for. Despite the smaller size it still fits nicely, and, because of this beautiful yarn, it has lovely drape. I'm so happy to have another summer knit!!!

     

     

  • Stock Your Sock Drawer : Susan Moskwa

    We are so pleased to introduce to you our friend Susan Moskwa.   Susan does a lot of behind the scenes work for Tolt, she is the tech editor for our patterns.   She is truly amazing and we don't know what we would do without her!  When Susan is not busy crunching numbers and making edits she enjoys spending time knitting.   You can find Susan on her website or on Instagram .







    1. Do you consider yourself a "sock knitter"? Why do you like to knit socks?

    Yes! For me, socks are the "comfort food" of knitting. They're safe and easy; I know my size, I can knit one from scratch without a pattern, and I know how to fix things when they go wrong. I travel a lot, and socks make great travel knitting: small, portable, and it takes me a couple weeks to finish a pair. Plus I love that one skein is enough for a pair, so—unlike sweater quantities of yarn—I can buy sock yarn here and there without knowing exactly what I'm gonna do with it but without worrying whether I'll have enough.



    I also love socks as a tiny canvas for whatever type of knitting you want to try out. Lace, cables, colorwork, bobbles, beads... you can do them all on a sock. You could do them all on the same sock. You can do totally crazy things on a sock that you could never get away with on a sweater (remember this??). Socks can be practical or decorative, rugged hiking socks or cashmere-y house slippers. When I was younger, I didn't believe in crazy socks; I thought of socks as underwear for your feet, something purely functional, not meant to be seen or shown off. But now I knit them in all kinds of colors and designs, and I love to incorporate them as part of an outfit, not just a layer between foot and shoe.



    2. When did you knit your first pair of socks? Was it harder or easier than you thought?

    I started knitting regularly in 2008, and in summer 2009 I knit my first pair of Leyburn Socks. I found it quite straightforward: start with a well written pattern, and do exactly what it says. Once you can knit, purl, decrease, and knit in the round, you've basically got what it takes for socks.


    3. Are you a DPN or Magic Loop knitter and why? Has it always been that way? If not, when and why did you make the switch?

    I started out using DPNs, but I got terrible ladders at the joins and I didn't want to have to constantly worry about snugging them up or shifting my joins. As soon as I learned Magic Loop, I never looked back. I also tried two-at-a-time socks on a long circular needle, just to see if I liked it, but found that a bit too fiddly... too much managing cables and working yarns and trying to keep everything straight (both physically and conceptually). I also like to do a lot of trial and error on the first sock, and then knit the second sock straight through once I've gotten everything exactly the way I want it. When I knit two-at-a-time, that meant ripping back two socks for every one mistake.

    4. Do you have a favorite pattern or heel and toe construction?

    I like to knit top down with a heel flap; I have a high instep, and this construction always fits me. I went through a phase of experimenting with different heel types, but nothing worked as reliably as the heel flap + gusset. But I also like to try new things, like interesting constructions or moving the gusset around. I rarely knit the same pattern twice. Among my own patterns, my favorite is Cheshire; I love the movement between the textured and the reverse-Stockinette sections.



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    5. Is there a favorite sock yarn at Tolt that you have worked with or want to work with?

    Right now I'm more drawn to individual colors than I am to any particular yarn base. I'm finding self-striping yarns really fun, and I'm trying to buy more solids and semi-solids, because I like knitting complex patterns that don't show up as well on multicolored yarns. I'll always be a sucker for a rich blue or purple, no matter who's dyed it!

    6. Do you have any tips, tricks or advice you can give to other sock knitters, new or experienced?

    1. Newbies: Don't be intimidated. Just follow the directions (carefully).
    2. Everyone: Take the Yarn Harlot's Grok the Sock class. This is the class that propelled me from "someone who has knit some socks" to "a sock knitter". It includes principles for knitting socks without a pattern, among other very useful and empowering info.
    3. Learn to darn and mend your socks! It will make you feel very clever. Plus, better to spend an hour darning than two weeks knitting a new pair to replace the old one.



  • Veronika and Dami - Girls Road Trip

    We are thrilled to be the kick-off location for the Girls Road Trip !   Veronika of YOTH Yarns and Dami of Magpie Fibers will be at Tolt on Tuesday May 9th from 6pm-8pm to release their new yarns, Best Friend and Solstice, as well as their gorgeous new trunk show featuring the design collection for these lovely new yarns!  

    We asked these two friends some questions about their special relationship, the new yarn and design collection, and the road trip they will be on.



    Photos by Kathy Cadigan

    • When did you two meet and how did you become such close friends?


    Ve:
    We happened to meet, as most knitters do, at a knitting event. It was a couple years ago in Frederick, Maryland, Dami's town. I had been invited to participate in a LYS pop up shop and Dami was the new local dyer on the scene. So the story goes something like this...

     V: I'd like to go for a walk in the morning. Any suggestions?

     D: I walk my dog every morning, come with us and we'll show you around.

     V: What?! You have a dog? I love dogs!!


    We hit it off immediately and I really fell in love with Dami's sweet town and community. Outside of knitting, Dami and I have a lot in common and have created a beautiful friendship. You know when you meet someone and it just clicks! Dami invited me back shortly after my first visit to Frederick and we've been visiting each other and frequenting yarn events ever since.

    Dami: Yup, so basically Ve really just wanted to hang out with Kam, my Great Pyrenees. But once the dog snuggling was over we discovered we were long lost sisters, which made Kam happy because Ve spoils her rotten!


    • How has your relationship helped your businesses?
     

    Ve: We both believe that collaborations and friendship are an integral part of the work that we do. It's not only helpful to bounce ideas off of each other, since most of the time we are in the same boat, but our talks and venting often times results in lots of funny discussions especially when trying to name things. Having someone with an outside perspective to share the ups and downs of a running a small biz is a wonderful thing. Knitting can be a very solitary art form most of the time. It's nice to have someone to gripe to when you're ripping out half a sweater in a design you're under deadline for!

     

    Dami: I don’t think I can overstate how much Ve has helped me grow my business. Having someone you trust completely, who’s there to give advice, offer suggestions, and always has your back is the greatest gift. She also pushes me to do things outside my comfort zone… like design.

     

    •   How do you stay in contact with each other since you live so far apart?

     

    Ve: Well, I like to call Dami about 10 times a day! I'm a bit old school and dislike texting when I just want to chat. I'm sure Dami finds that irritating most of the time, but she puts up with me! Also, the nice thing about all of our collaborations is that we get to see each other frequently. The GRT (Girls Road Trip) just happens to be one of those events. We are quite lucky to work in an industry that thrives on bringing our community of knitters together. We both love meeting knitting folk in person and getting to introduce our yarns in person, share stories and help people shop for their favorites.

     

    Dami: Ve’s morning call is part of the daily routine! We do communicate frequently, she’s usually the first person I call with troubles or triumphs, and always when I need advice.

     

    •   What inspires you both and keeps your creative juices flowing?

     

    Ve: Necessity tends to be the mother of invention as they say. We both have different design and business practices, but a lot of the time our crazy late nights drive us to come up with bogus ideas that essentially stimulate our creations. Outside of that, I can say that for myself, inspiration comes from many places, but most often from things that I'm currently loving or seeing trend. I have a fondness for people watching... what are folks wearing and how are they combining colors, fabrics, textures, etc. In our line of work, we travel a lot and it allows me to see what is happening all around the globe, which honestly is one of the coolest parts of my job.

     

    Dami: I tend to be pretty pragmatic. With yarn colors or bases I see a gap that I want to fill, a base I wish I had, a color I want to knit with. When I’m designing I really enjoy the ‘enginering’ aspect, it’s what I love about making jewelry too. There is something infinitely satisfying about taking a bunch of raw materials, be it yarn, jewelry parts, or the contents of my pantry and creating a finished product. It’s magical, like modern Alchemy!

     

    •   Can you tell us about your new bases and the new collection?

     

    Ve: YOTH's new base, Best Friend, is really my heart right now! I've always loved textured cotton materials and I wanted to recreate that in a yarn base. I definitely didn't want a novelty yarn, but I wanted something unique yet very wearable. We partnered with Cestari Sheep & Wool Company to create this subtle beauty. It's a 75% cotton/25% wool blend that has an earthy slightly thick thin character to it with little slubs here and there. We had our lovely dyehouse that we use, dye the yarn for it's wool content. So, the resulting fiber is delightfully heathered. Think colors from our color palettes in a subdued version of itself. We've chosen 9 stunning favorite colors and added a much needed undyed natural. The skeins boast 550 yards each, so you can go for days and still make a lovely fabric perfect for warmer weather on size 5's.

     

    The collection... well, my contribution to the project, features my favorite things: a shawl, a tank/tunic and a basket. Each of the patterns are simple with thoughtful detailing and offer options to knit different styles and/or sizes. I find that my most worn clothing pieces are the ones that I can layer and I wanted to create a garment and accessory piece for this collection that offered that. Both come with options to customize, which I love from a knitting perspective. The baskets were a sweet touch at the end that actually became a happy accident when they morphed from a knitted handbag pattern to a really cute basket set. They're even teenager approved!

     

    Dami: Magpie’s new base is called Solstice. It’s the first yarn I’ve designed from the ground up and I’m really proud of it. It is a light fluffy combo of 50% domestic SW merino, 25% domestic cotton, 25% silk. The blend combines the bounce of wool, the breathability of cotton and the drape of silk. I think it’s a great year-round DK yarn. The 12 color palette makes my heart so happy.

     

    My part of the collection consists of a chunky sweater, a simple tank and a patterned wrap. The sweater and tank are quick easy knits, each with a cool little design twist. The wrap is really my homage to New Mexico, the patterns and colors I love so much. I think it makes great use of the Solstice palette and has some sections of mosaic and slipped stitch colorwork to keep it interesting.

     

    •   Tell me about the Girls Road Trip?

     

    Ve: We are starting in Carnation, WA, home of the famous and wonderful Tolt Yarn & Wool, my old LYS. We'll rent and pick up an RV (which is sooooo much fun!) the day of our trunk show and then hit the road the next morning. We have nine total planned stops and participating yarn shops on our road trip from Washington to New Mexico. We've learned a few things from last year's road trip and so this year we think we have a good idea of what is coming, but we've come to know that fun and adventure (good or bad) is always around the corner. It keeps life interesting!

     

    Dami: The RV part was one of those happy accidents from last year. It started with the idea of taking Kam with us… it really is still all about Ve snuggling the dog! We were a little apprehensive, but discovered we absolutely love it. We knew it would be a main feature of this year’s trip. Another great part of the adventure is meeting up with knitting friends along the way. You’ll definitely recognize some of our guest GRTers!

     

    • If you could create a music playlist for your road trip that would reflect your new yarns and collection what songs would you choose?

     

    Ve: Ahhhhh! I'm so boring! I like no music most of the time. Chatting, listening to a book on tape or a podcast is my fav. If I were to choose a playlist it would be something totally predictable and lame like Top 40 Pop or Country. Dami would wanna kill me!

     

    Dami: Hahaha! We definitely have different musical tastes, I’m all old school R & B and 80’s alternative rock and while we do have some happy overlap, we have found the long hours driving between stops are the perfect time to catch up on Podcasts.  But mostly we just chat… its amazing, and a little scary, how much we find to talk about! 

     

     

  • Toltia Outing

    Tolt Yarn and Wool is closed on Mondays and we usually do a lot of behind the scenes work that day, but every once in awhile we get to play hooky and go on a field trip. This past Monday the Toltias (as we lovingly have been named by Tif Fussell) spent the day in Seattle. Our first stop was a lovely lunch at Sitka and Spruce!





    I can't say enough wonderful things about Sitka and Spruce. The atmosphere and the service were amazing and the food...  the food...   WOW!  Spectacular! And it just kept coming, one delicious course after another. We left there feeling cared for and our bellies full.

    After poking around the shops nearby we got back in the car and headed toward Fremont to visit the lovely Kathy Hattori of Botanical Colors. Kathy graciously welcomed us into her natural dye studio where she was busy at work color developing for a top secret project. Kathy not only teaches and sells her natural dye material but she also works with companies such as Eileen Fisher to develop natural dye colors.








    Even though Kathy was busy at work she shared some of her process with us and showed us some of the things she has been working on and she even welcomed us to dip some yarn into her indigo vats. Thank you so much Kathy! We look forward to having Kathy teach again this Summer in Carnation (details coming soon!).

    Our adventures in Seattle were not over. Kathy said we had to visit her friend Patricia's studio which was just down the street, and we are so glad we did!  








    Patricia Belyea was a graphic designer who left the busy corporate world to follow her passion of quilting. She opened a shop, Okan Arts, in her home where she carries the largest selection of vintage yukata cotton in North America. Walking into her studio was a delight. So many gorgeous rolls of fabric neatly organized in shelves, beautiful quilts and Japanese trinkets on the wall. Patricia offered us tea and cookies as she told us a bit about what she does, how she got started and about her new book that will be coming out in October. We left Patricia's studio feeling inspired and ready to hop on a plane to Japan, a few of us even left with yards of fabric. If you're in the area be sure to contact Patricia for a visit, her shop is open by appointment only.

    The best part of Tolt is the people; the people who come to visit us and the people that work here. I am so grateful to spend my days with my fellow Toltias and look forward to our next outing together!

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