How to Save a Fortune on Bavaria’s 2 Best Wools.

I don’t think I realized how popular knitting was in Germany until I landed here and saw people knitting EVERYWHERE. To the dismay of a German friend of mine, her daughter even has knitting and crochet (stricken und häckeln) class in grade school. Unfortunately the handcraft didn’t come easy for her 9-year-old. But the school insists that grades be given for this class regardless of natural ability. Do the US schools even have Home Economics classes anymore? With Germany being the knitting mecca that it is and everybody learning how to do it as part of their grade-school curriculum, it is no surprise that Germany was where I finally broke into the world of high-quality yarn.

I am a big fan of German designer, Martina Behm and her designs feature Wollmeise yarns predominately. It now takes me just 85 minutes to drive to the Wollmeise Brick and Mortar location in Pfaffenhofen Germany.

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I spoiled myself bringing home my first hank of Wollmeise. No other light-weight yarn will ever compare to their high quality and vibrant colors. And it should be said that the only Wollmeise I’ve had the privilege of knitting has been their discards. Those hanks they feel are not high enough quality to be sold at their store or online but were instead picked-up at their bi-annual sale. They put them out each spring and fall at a local church down the street at a considerable discount. Their typical prices go from 100g of twin at 21,50 Euros to 300g of lace at 44 Euros. That’s $50 USD as of today.

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I got most of my Wollmeise yarn for half or two-thirds that price at their Spring/Fall sales. So I’m not even raving about the “good stuff!” I’m raving about their clearance yarn that they can’t sell for full price! Want to join in the action? Click Here for more information about their next sale days and make sure you are there early as some of their best colors sell-out fast.

Wollmeise Spring Sale - Knit Wits on location.

I discovered Schoppel Wolle after picking up a Crazy Zauberball at a craft market in my town. After a bit of Friday afternoon research, I discovered that their factory and outlet was located only 90 minutes away in Wallhausen Germany just south of Nürnberg. That Saturday I was creatively figuring out how to make the trip with my 9-year-old. I may or may-not have promised a trip to the Lego Store in return.

I found their clearance area which is full of balls which aren’t quite 100g and perfect for my thrifty nature.

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Take this Zauberball for example. 100g for 10 Euros on their shelf. I found the same color way in their clearance area for 189g for 5,67 Euros. The only difference? The clearance balls didn’t quite make 100g. Maybe there is one ball of 90 grams instead of 100g. In this case I think there are two 90g balls. Perfect for me since my Christine and Carrie shawls typically take just short of 100g.

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I don’t expect anyone stateside to make a special trip to Bavaria just to go yarn shopping but if you were ever coming for Octoberfest or the Nürnberg Christmas Markets anyway – it would be a great way to stock up on fabulous yarns at a fraction of the cost.

For knitters who are already anywhere close-by you MUST VISIT these sales. Just don’t bring your husband!

Unlike Wollmeise, who specializes in amazing colors in mostly light weights, Schoppel has a large variety of weights and colors and most are available at a discount in their sale area.

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I love their Crazy Zauberball the most. Not only does the color veriagate through the ball but it is a two ply yarn and BOTH plys veriagate independently which makes the most beautiful effect.

I chose this Crazy Zauberball for my first Entrelac pattern: Christine. I picked up dozens of Zauberballs on my first trip to the outlet but discovered that the Crazy Zauberball truly is the best!

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The regular Zauberball below has a great color change but both plys of the yarn change color together.

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What makes the Crazy Zauberball so special is that both plys change color independently. It creates a multitude of shades that was the perfect yarn for these entrelac patterns.

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Unfortunately there are limited ways for me to get my hands on these two brands that have become my staples. I can’t get them at Michaels or Hobby Lobby and Local Yarn Stores stateside won’t have them either. I’m glad they aren’t heavy as I plan to stock up before going home. I don’t think I could live in a world without Wollmeise or Schoppel-Wolle and frankly I don’t think you should have to either!!

TBT – Prevent twisted stitches when you are an odd duck

Throwback Thursday:

Twisted Sister – Good, Twisted Stitches, Bad.

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My grandmother used to make us grand-kids the most adorable sweaters. The pattern she used was: “Quick-to-Knit” Animal Vests 3 by Leasure Arts – Leaflet #710 for $3.25 Canadian. I still have the original pattern although it is falling apart. Thank god I don’t have an old photo of us. No ideas Sherrie and Becky!

I begged my mom for that pattern because I wanted to make a cute animal vest for my son and I knew that the pattern was fairly simple. I figured it would make a perfect first project. It really did. It even taught me a great lesson in the importance of how stitches sit on the needle.

Check out these pics: See the difference in the fabric? The bottom half has twisted stitches. The top half is after I figured out what was wrong:

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If you watch the video you’ll see that it took me the entire back side and half of the front to realize that I was twisting every other row of stitches. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Every direction I read told me that to make a knit stitch I had to insert my needle to the left of the yarn at the front of the stitch. So I did. And my stitches twisted. What on earth!!

Check out the way Knitting.about.com explains the knit stitch and the photo they use. Maybe I went there for advice. Who knows. But I didn’t realize that my problems was actually not only the way I knit my stitches but the way I purled them.

I’m odd. My purl stitches are odd. I’m OK with that and you can be too. Maybe your purl stitch is normal but your knit stitch just doesn’t want to sit in its seat properly. My video above will show you how to adjust your knitting so you don’t have to adjust your purling (or vice versa) just give it a watch.

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See the photo above? It is hard to see that your stitches are “seated” wonky if they are on your needle but pretend the stitch markers on my pencil are the stitches on your knitting. The blue markers are the way stitches are “supposed” to be seated. Or at least they are the way that most patterns expect the stitches should be on the needle when they are trying to write directions for you. The yarn “should” come up the front of the needle from the right and then back down the back of the needle to the left. The purple markers are the way my stitches sit after I’ve purled them. They come up the back of the needle and down the front of the needle to the left. As usual – I just have to be different.

After I realized what was happening with my knitting I adjusted. I have to be aware of my oddity because my knit stitches seat properly it is only my purl stitches that sit wonky on the needle. So as I’m working I’m always aware of how each stitch is sitting as I approach it. If the yarn that’s coming in from the right goes up the back of the needle, I make sure to put the “back” yarn on the right side of my needle as I insert it. If the yarn that is coming in from the right is at the front of my needle, I can make a “normal” knit stitch by putting my needle in with the front yarn to the right of my needle.

At first it took a lot of thought but now it is second nature. I could have changed the way I purled so that all my stitches were seated “properly” but like I said, “I just have to be different.” and I like the way I purl. It is fast. It is comfortable and it is easier for me to adjust the way I think about my knitting than it is to change the physical movements required to make each purl.

Normal (Left) and Twisted (Right) stitches:

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Owl is fine – I’ve been busy!

I know I haven’t posted lately but it is because I have been spending every waking moment knitting for a baby shower. With just one weeks notice I knocked out two stroller blankets and designed this great little baby sweater for my friends twins. I based this pattern on an old pattern from Leisure Arts and Designed by Joan Beebe although it was heavily modified.

I chose a 2×2 ribbing and shifted the little owls down so they would sit out on a nice chubby belly. I added some buttons on one shoulder to make access easier and then also improvised an owl from one I had a picture of but no pattern. It was easy enough to figure out that the owl was made from C2B/C2F combinations. The wings were smaller versions of the birdie wings featured in the Beebe pattern.
I specifically knit on the purl side when joining the blue and then the brown again because I really like that “stitching” effect that you get seeing the purl side of a new color.

The blue color was a slightly thinner yarn so I jumped up two sizes for my needles but that area does pull a little. I think it still works although in the future I plan to ONLY use yarns that are the same weight.

Each owl has his own set of button eyes and each are different. First because I was using stash buttons and I couldn’t find six the same and secondly it gives each owl his own personality!!

I had fun with this project and am working on another version for the little girl that is on the way. Lets hope I have more than one week’s notice to get the next one finished.

Continental Success and Silence

My biggest accomplishment in my knitting means absolutely nothing to any of my family or friends. None of them knit. Well my Mom knits and purls enough to make a sweater and my friend, Amanda, is the master of the single crochet. But no one I know is as obsessed as I am. The other day I called my Mom just to share my big news. And nothing. She didn’t know what the Continental Method was. She had no idea of the new blazing speeds my needles could now travel at. I tried to explain over the phone:

“Well instead of holding the yarn in your right hand and then wrapping it around the needle, you hold it in your left and kinda hook it with the needle and pull it through.”
Silence.

I had seen it done by a lady on TV one day and was amazed by how fast she could knit. I had tried it a few times in the past but it felt like I was knitting left handed. Awkward and not relaxing at all. But I vowed to learn. I was working on a scarf with lots of ribbing and I absoultely hated ribbing. Loathed it in fact. I don’t remember why but I swore I was going to knit the whole rest of the scarf using only the Continental Method and that’s exactly what I did.

At first it felt odd and frustrating. It reminded me of keyboarding class when you were forced to learn the proper way to type. But like taking a keyboarding class, after months of painfull  aaaa-ssss-dddd-ffff excercises, you finally feel liberated and free to type without hovering over the keyboard doing the two-fingered-peck.

Now I knit ribbing as fast as I would knit or purl a whole row. I don’t drop my needle pulling my yarn to the front or the back anymore because I don’t have to let go of either needle. Life is grand. I’m estatic. I want to scream my excitement from the rooftops but all I get is silence from my Mom.

So I’ll share my big news with you and hope that it is met with more than silence.