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Kate had such a fun time sharing the sweaters from the fall issue with everyone at the Green Mountian Spinnery weekend, that she's doing it again.


Twist Collective Trunk Show

October 16, 6:30 pm

Trumpet Hill Fine Yarn & Accents

Rosewood Plaza, 501 New Karner Road

Albany, New York

Consider this: you find yourself far from home, with a day(or an afternoon) to yourself, and your fiber senses tell you that something about this town/city/ speaks to your soul.

You dig out the yellow pages and look for yarn stores, and you find them, but you wonder, what else is there?  An exhibit at the Historical Society of ladies’ shawls?  A fantastic hand-woven tapestry in the lobby of the Bank?  A gregarious alpaca farmer with an open door policy five minutes out of town? The best tea shop to knit in on the west coast? You can’t tell from where you sit. You wish you had a knit friend in town.

Which is where the inspiration comes for something we invite you to help us with here: A Fiber Tour of My Home Town.

Here's an example, just to show you what we mean.  Published tour authors will receive a Twist Contributor's button, and the tour will be linked to your own website if you like, then featured in the sidebar as the library grows. Please include photos if you have them, information as you see in the example, your link information, and a Google map if you can manage it.  Send submissions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Location: Boston North Shore: Newburyport/Salem/Beverly Farms, MA, USA

Transportation: Foot/Car

View Larger Map

Time: half day/full day

Potential Wallet Hit: Medium to High


From Newburyport, where I live, there are several worthy destinations that offer a concentrated day of fibery fun. Here in town, you can check out my local shop, A Loom with a View at 31R Pleasant Street, which splits its floor space between the knitting and weaving (Betsy will try and convert you so watch out), have a lovely cup of coffee and a sweet at Plum Island Coffee Roasters tucked down amid the boat yards but still a short walk from the shop, and then maybe take a nice drive out to Parker River Alpacas (please call ahead to make sure Dave is there).

Or you could spend a day on Cape Ann, starting in Salem at Front Street which offers a concentration of shops for the fiber enthusiast: grab some excellent coffee and sandwiches at the Front Street Coffehouse at #20, check out Beadworks at #10 and the needle arts shop B.F. Goodstitch at #18, before settling in to take in the wool across the street at Seedstitch Fine Yarns at #21, a gracious and creatively ambitious yarn store full of light and colour and discoveries.

You can round out your day by strolling through the galleries at the Peabody Essex Museum at 161 Essex Street, looking at Asian and Oceanic decorative arts and admiring the homespun linens in the Yin Yu Tang, a complete Qing dynasty house re-erected in the museum’s central courtyard. Or, if you are feeling in need of little more knitterly fun and you have a car, you can drive 15 minutes to Beverly Farms to drop in on Tink and Wink at the tiny but delicious shop, Yarns in the Farms for a bottomless teapot indulgence of your latent Yorkshire sensibilities. 

Last week I was in the back seat of a friend's car (knitting, of course), on the way to a yarn sale.

As we pulled up to a red light, we noticed that a car in front of us had an unusual license plate that read "KNIT ON".  I quickly dug around in my knitting bag for two of these little babies.


tape measures 


I knocked on the driver's side window.  After she recovered from shock and lowered it, I offered her choice in colour, and asked her to check out the magazine. She was delighted to be given something for free, the red light surprise notwithstanding, and said that no one had ever said anything about her license plate before.  What part of the world must she live in, I wondered, knitcentric as I am. 

Which is all to say that Irene and Julia (that's me) will most likely be at Rhinebeck with a load of Twist Collective tape measures.  If you're there, and you are wearing, or carrying with you proof of purchase in the form of a WIP or a copy of your pattern, we'll hand one over for your kit bag.  Or if we happen to see you in traffic with your knitter's license plate, that could happen too.  You just never know.

When last we spoke, I had promised to show you what a sewn steek looks like, so that maybe you wouldn't be intimidated out of using a non-Shetland yarn such as Classic Elite's Fresco for a steeked design like Little Birds.  Here's the swatch, unharassed.


The first thing I like to do is choose a stitch width and length on your sewing machine that matches the size of your knit stitches.  Rumors that sewn steeks are stiff and compromise the drape of the fabric are paranoid nonsense.  If you use a machine stitch that matches your knitting, you won't be over sewing on the knitting, and the thread does nothing to stiffen the knitting. I suppose if your machine has tension issues, you could make a mess of it, but you won't because you'll do a test swatch like I did here when I was checking out the zig zag settings.

Obviously you wouldn't do this in red thread.  It's for visibility. Obviously.


Line up the row of stitches you want to secure according to your steek panel.  I didn't knit an official steek panel on the swatch, so you need to pretend there is one.  Here it is sewn,


And here it is cut.  Wow.  Just like that.  No hyperventilating, no shots of Scotch.  Just zip and clip, baby.

I'm heartless, I know.

Then you can pick up the stitches, two stitches for every three rows on the vertical and diagonal edges.

After the knitting of the border, you may find the yarn ends from the cut to be a little raggedy.  I tinked them out to reduce the bulk.

And then I gave them a trim.  It looks a lot tidier, and it does not (repeat: DOES NOT) compromise the security of the steek.  Everything will be fine.  I promise. 


Never mind that the left edge is all wonky.   


A few North American readers have asked me what I would substitute for the Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift because they've been having touble finding it in the right quantities.  I immediately thought of Harrisville New England Shetland, a dead ringer for Jamieson's in gauge and texture.


Harrisville New England Shetland

Here are the closest colours in my opinion. The Harrisville Oatmeal and the Cobalt are good matches for the Jamieson's Eisit and Clyde Blue to my eye, but you can see from the photo that the Leprechaun (in a special guest appearance down there at the bottom) is a different kind of green than the Harrisville Hemlock. Harrisville does offer a green that has more yellow in it, called Emerald, but I personally found it to be garish in combination with the Cobalt and the Oatmeal.  Which is not to say that you couldn't find a different combination of colours altogether, but this was just following as closely to the sample version as would be possible with Harrisville's offerings.  I think Hemlock in this combination actually warms the sweater up a little, which personally, I like.

And now for something just a little bit different.  

Classic Elite is issuing a new yarn this fall that I have heard Creative Director Pam Allen call a "Bohus style" yarn: Fresco is a 2 ply sport weight yarn, 60% wool, 30% baby alpaca, 10% angora, in 35 colours, with a recommended gauge of 6½ sts/inch on US 5 needles.  I immediately thought a stranded sweater in this yarn would be a dream to wear.  With all that lovely soft fiber, even the tender skinned among us can wear a simple camisole under the sweater and call themselves dressed. 


Classic Elite Yarns Fresco

To achieve the recommended gauge of 7 st/in, I knit a 45 stitch swatch on US size 2/ 2.25 mm needles.  I am a slightly loose knitter, being a scooper, so other knitters may get the same results on a size 3.  I found the 10% quantity of angora to be just right, giving the yarn the gentle bloom that I like about the bunny, but not enough to tickle my nose, obscure the stitches, nor to leave a trail of fluff on the upholstery.  Fresco was lovely to knit with, never split, and even in stranded knitting drapes well, but not too much.  The swatch took a few days of abuse in the bottom of my purse with only a little bloom, but not a pill in sight.  Longer wear under the arms would better represent how it would hold up, but I'm satisfied it's got longevity to it.  


steek swatch


Admittedly, Little Birds would be a different sweater in this rather than a traditional Shetland yarn: drapier, a little more feminine (as if Little Birds needs any help in that direction) and steeking it would involve securing the stitches first, but I'll show you how to do that in the next post.