When looking for new patterns, techniques, or just general inspiration, there are quite a few sources we like to consult. A variety of blogs, books, and magazines make up many of the sources, but overall, Ravelry.com is the ultimate source of knitting information. If you’re not familiar with the site, Ravelry is an extensive yarn and pattern database, that simultaneously functions as a fiber-based social network. Patterns, yarns, and more—you name it, it’s in there. Millions of knitters use the site as their main knitting resource, and it’s very easy to get lost in the myriad project pages full of inspiration. In addition to using Ravelry, we also like to turn to our favorite blogs, books, and magazines for extra bits of curated knitting information.

Here is how our staff members like to get their knitting information:

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BEKAH: “Ravelry.com. You can find pretty much anything and everything. And get lost for hours.”

ELA: “Fashion shows, web search, purlonpearl.tumblr.com.”

SARAH C: “Interweave Knits magazine, Knit Purl newsletters, Ravelry”

SHEILA: “One of my favorite books is a reference book, ‘The Knitting Answer Book’ by Margaret Radcliffe. This is my go-to book if I’ve forgotten how to do a stitch. It is also the book I recommend the most. My three favorite websites, Ravelry, http://techknitting.blogspot.com and Knittinghelp.com, all have fun, interesting information for every knitter whether beginner or advanced.”

SARAH K: “Knit Purl of course! But also Ravelry.”

CAIT: “Pom Pom Magazine.”

OLEYA: “I primarily visit the Fringe Association blog (updated on a daily basis!), but I also like Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Review, and the Woolful podcast. I also have a very deep respect for ‘The Principles of Knitting’ book by June Hemmons Hiatt.”

KELI: “I find Ravelry endlessly inspiring. It’s hard to pick anything else, since Ravelry includes it all!”

Whether they’re digital or analog, these are the sources we turn to when we need advice, inspiration or to find out what’s new in the knitting world.

Please join us next week for the last post of the series, which highlights our favorite finished objects.

SpringCleaning

The daffodils have bloomed and the cherry blossoms are fast and furiously filling their branches with “pink snow,” as my son shouts. It smells of fresh cut grass in the parks and the sun is warming those much-needed afternoon walks. I feel the need to get something breezy, linen and silky on the needles. I’m still in the thick of Rowe, my Brooklyn Tweed cabled sweater, and it’s becoming very clear that this is not as portable as it once was, especially to the park.

Are you also feeling the pull to lighten your knitting bag of long winter projects? Here are a few low budget ideas that I’ve been dreaming of to carry along when I find myself soaking in the rays and still want to keep my fingers happily active in a knitting project. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re a knitter who wants to finish that one last winter knit before moving on to a new warmer weather project—give yourself a break and let go! It’s spring— clean out your knitting bag and embrace a small sunny project to freshen up your needles. You’ll be so glad you did!

Spring Lace Infinity Scarf by Linda Thach // Shibui Linen
Have you been gravitating towards a bright color out of your comfort zone but just can’t get yourself to take the plunge? This is the perfect project to squash your color fear! Linen has a beautiful drape that will also deliver that bright pop of fresh color needed to get your spring glow in full swing! Light, airy, and low on the difficulty level.

Filemot by Hunter Hammersen // Geilsk Wool Cotton
This certainly won’t break the bank at only 1–2 skeins! The bit of wool in this yarn will add structure to this beautiful motif, as well as warmth for chilly spring evenings. The cotton will give that drape you’re craving. The colors are a perfect compliment to the spring ensembles you’ll be donning soon!
Con: Part of a book, so you can’t buy the pattern on its own.
Pro: The other patterns included in the book are just as lovely!

Mia by Jennifer Wood // Shibui Twig
This sweet little number is knit using Shibui’s recently launched Twig yarn. This top comes in a wide range of sizes and the best part—it’s free! The yarn content will certainly satisfy your spring in to summer knitting needs. Made of linen and recycled silk, it’s just as the designer said: soft and cool and with the kind of drape that is effortless.

This week, we are musing over our favorite patterns and designers. A variety of details make a pattern attractive. Most knitters are drawn to elements like clear photography, styling, presentation, and brand familiarity. Looking closer at the pattern details, some are drawn to how interesting the pattern looks and the relative knitting requirements—patterns can range from monotonous and repetitive (great knitting for binge-watching), to detailed and complex (no wine tonight!). Clearly, there is a lot to take into consideration when choosing a new knitting pattern.

Our favorite patterns reflect our diverse backgrounds and interests—we have chosen a mix of traditional patterns, patterns from long-time designers, and patterns we have designed ourselves. Let’s take a look at the designers and patterns we find inspiring.

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Bekah “Backbay by Jared Flood. Simultaneously classic and modern, simple and interesting. Favorite designer: Boadicea Binnerts. From the Netherlands, she designs clean yet intricate modern pieces, often inspired by fashion on the runways of Europe.”

Ela “Hats—my own designs!”

Sarah C “Cowichan sweaters. My sister gave me some really old patterns I have used for several sweaters, and I adapted the one below and changed the design from an adult sweater. The tops of the buttons are bits of caribou antler from Alaska!”

Sheila Hannah Fettig

Sarah K “Stephen West! I love how he is always daring to try something different and experiment with textures and colors.”

Cait Julie Hoover

Oleya “I am a huge fan of Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed due to the attention to detail, photography, and styling.”

Keli “I have to credit Kaffe Fassett for inspiring me to learn to knit many years ago. Someday I will knit one of his designs.”

With pattern inspiration and some new designers to try, go forth and make pattern decisions with confidence!

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Tools are a vital part of any maker’s work. Their function, aesthetic qualities, the stories they tell, and the craft they represent all add to their value.

It can definitely be said that aside from a plentiful yarn stash, tools are among the most indispensable items in a knitter’s arsenal.

With so many options for tools on the market, from homemade contraptions to luxury hand-turned accessories, sometimes it’s hard to know what’s worth investing in. How many of these tools do we actually need? When it comes down to it, it seems helpful to go back to basics. First and foremost, a quality set of knitting needles seems to be of utmost importance.

Here are a few words from our staff members regarding their favorite tools:

BEKAH: “Addi Clicks—I never need to buy different length needles, and can even use them as stitch holders.”
ELA: “Circular needles / Rockets!”
SARAH C: “Probably Lantern Moon cable needles with beveled groves—works so well for cables.”
SHEILA: “Besides my array of knitting needles I could not live without my crochet hooks, not because I crochet but rather because they are essential to fix those pesky mistakes that happen to even the best knitters.”
SARAH K: “My trusty Addi clicks set.”
CAIT: “My Lantern Moon Rosewood Interchangeables.”
OLEYA: “Folding scissors. I’m kind of a klutz, so it’s nice to have something that has the pointy ends folded away. (I actually have poked myself with no injury!) I love that they’re travel-safe, too.”
KELI: “My Ebony Interchangeables from Lantern Moon are one of my most prized possessions, period. I also get pretty excited about the Fix-A-Stitch—it’s exceptionally handy for fixing garter or seed stitch.”
RACHEL: “A row counter!”

Our favorite tools, pictured above:
1. Brittany Cable Needles in Birch
2. Addi Turbo Rocket Needles
3. Lantern Moon Crochet Hook in Rosewood
4. Fix-A-Stitch Tool Set
5. Snip-its Folding Scissors
6. Kacha-Kacha Row Counter
7. Lantern Moon Interchangeable Knitting Needles
8. Addi Click Interchangeable Knitting Needle Set
9. Addi Click Bamboo Interchangeable Knitting Needle Set

With proper tools and captivating yarn at the ready, finding a pattern that brings the two together harmoniously is the next step of the knitting process.

Please join us next week for a look at what patterns and designers have a permanent spot in our knitting queues.

BLTPortland is home to many talented makers, and here at Knit Purl, we like to take advantage of the fact that we belong to such a creative community. We constantly seek out new and interesting artisans, our latest being Gina Zahn, the owner of Brave Little Thread.

We are pleased to carry her Lighthouse DK yarn, a soft single-ply blend of alpaca, merino, and silk. Curious to know more about her fiber journey, I asked Gina to share her story and inspirations with us.

How did you get started dying yarn?

The origins of my dye work date back to when I was caring for my German Angora rabbit. My wooly bunny was producing bountiful mounds of milky fiber every shearing and I had stacks of his raw fleece perfectly aligned in translucent bins on my work shelf. It’s neutral tone was akin to unbleached linen, and as months passed I could almost hear the growing wall of canvas-colored bins shouting directly at the artist in me. “Paint me!”

My process began with much research coupled with a very ungoverned practice of experimentation. For example, I knew I ought to wear rubber gloves while dyeing, but whenever a surge of inspiration came to me, there was no time for gloves. As soon as the angora hit my hands, it was as if the fleece were melting like butter between my fingers and before I knew it, I’d be elbows deep in the dye bath.

My hands were an awkward sight for weeks. Even still, the plunge of the fiber into the dye bath is probably the most stimulating part of the dye process for me. There is just something incredibly satisfying to me about the transformation happening between my bare hands—the fiber swelling with watery pigment and mini bubbles of air tickling up my arms.

I have always been a surveyor of color, and although the minimalist in me is incessantly knitting with neutral palettes, the artist in me is relentlessly stockpiling mental notes of the various palettes that color my world here in Portland, and my hands are plucking and picking from our lush vegetation with the hopes that its essence might be colorfully translated to the blank canvas of my raw fiber.

What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?

The process begins with counting my dye lots and tying up my skeins. If I am dying with acid dyes, the palette is usually conceived on a whim. But if I am working with natural dyes, the palette would have been formulated while collecting materials. I spend my morning tending to multiple oversized pots on my stove. A delicate dance of watching, stirring, waiting—all the while, my baby boy is strapped to my back, cooing in my ear like my little cheerleader in the grandstands celebrating with me as I draw a few gorgeous strands from the surface of each pot.

When the pots are cooled, the rinsing begins. Then I make countless trips outside to hang dry my work. My husband built me a portable rod system that allows me to relocate several dye lots worth of yarn indoors if the weather is not ideal for drying. But I must say, it is quite satisfying to see the endless heavy strands slowly regain that plumpy squeezable appeal that is irresistible to the touch. And the spectrum of color draped from one end of the dowel to the other.

Once the yarn is completely dry and the kids are in bed, I spend my night winding and tagging the skeins. The go immediately into categorized boxes until they are shipped or delivered.

What inspires your work?

It all depends on the day. Sometimes it is just a squeeze of a new blend of fiber, and other times it’s a random leaf my son brings me from the yard. I wish I could put my finger on exactly how I am moved to create. I honestly just feel like I am a sponge that is perpetually soaking in the sights and textures of the good things God has given me. If only I had enough time to squeeze out all the goodness I absorb in a day.

Tell us about the name Brave Little Thread.

I wanted to capture within my name, the very paradox of the humble thread. While it is to its core incredibly simple, when given the right circumstances it can be manipulated to become something spectacular. Everyone’s fiber journey, whether it be weaving, crocheting or knitting, always involves a little (or let’s be honest…a lot) of bravery. There are always those patterns or techniques that we shy away from due to insecurities in our abilities, or fear of failure. But sometimes all it takes is a squeeze of some irresistible hank of stunning yarn to erase all doubt and infuse us with the inspiration to do whatever it takes to create. I hope to infuse every ounce of my fiber with this very palpable sense of empowerment for those seeking to create.

How did you chose your color palette and the yarns you work with?

Choosing my yarn is easy. I ask myself “Would I crave to knit on that?” Palette choosing is an entirely different beast for me. It is one thing to see the purple leaves on the tree outside my window, and an entirely other thing to try and translate that exact color to my yarn. There are so many variables. So far, all the colorways I have created have been limited edition due to this color translation challenge. I am definitely still in the process of discovering my color palette.

Any plans on the horizon you’d be willing to share with us?

I am in the designing process of planting a garden for natural dyes. I hope to experiment more with these natural color palettes that seem to thrill me these days. In the mean time, I will continue to share my fiber journey on Instagram along with all the inspiring fiber folk on that platform.

Thank you Gina, for sharing your wonderful work and story with us. You can view the Lighthouse DK yarn here, and read more about her journey on her blog.

staff-faves_yarns_final-01

What makes something a favorite? Through trial, error and repeated use, we eventually discover what is special to us. Once we find something worthwhile, we begin to foster a relationship with the product or brand.

The resurgence of knitting combined with the availability of resources on the Internet has resulted in a plethora of products, patterns, and designers to choose from. When there seems to be something new offered on a daily basis, how can we best sort through the options?

We’ve certainly seen a lot over the past decade. Over the years, we have acquired certain preferences. Obsessions. Must-haves. Favorites. On the occasion of our 10th birthday, we’d like to give a gift to you: a curated list of our most favorite things.

In the first post of this series, we’ll begin with exploring our favorite yarns. It’s what we collect, what we stash. We delight in the colors, textures, and all the possibilities of what could be. For many of us, one of the great pleasures of knitting is all about indulging in beautiful yarn.

Here are some words from our staff members about their favorite yarns:

BEKAH: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, “I love the fabric that it makes—warm and lightweight, with such gorgeous colors and textures.”

ELA: Pebble Abyss, “Pebble is my favorite yarn on the floor. Colors—that’s what attracts me first and the most! Soft and cozy for next to the skin projects.  Airy and ‘sticky’ for easy knitting and gauging. Would love to have a sweater in every color or combination.”

SARAH : Woolfolk Far, “So soft to knit with, can’t wait to make another sweater with it. I love the cowl I made with it.”

SHEILA: Shibui Staccato, “I like Shibui Staccato for its drape and think it’s perfect for summer knits.”

SARAH K: Swans Island DK, “Swans Island DK is both a sturdy and beautiful yarn that is versatile for many projects. (I made the Tulip Petal Boot Cuffs and absolutely love how they turned out.) Plus, the yarn is eco-friendly and machine washable. A staple for your stash for sure.” 

CAIT: Shepherd’s Wool, “I chose Shepherd’s Wool when I wanted a more drapey yarn for my Ondawa sweater. It’s really soft, has excellent stitch definition, and great yardage. It’s also very forgiving if I need to redo my cabling.”

OLEYA: Brooklyn Tweed Loft, “This would be my ‘desert island’ yarn. I love the light, airy quality and the fabric it creates. It’s versatile enough for lightweight sweaters and accessories. It performs fabulously in stranded colorwork, my latest obsession.”

KELI: Sunday Knits Eden, Since I wrote a whole blog post on Eden, I feel obligated to stay faithful. It doesn’t really feel like cheating to call Nirvana my new favorite yarn, though—it has all Eden’s wonderful qualities, with a little added softness. Plus, it comes in a charcoal gray, one of my all-time favorite colors, as well as Moss, a shade that keeps catching my eye.”

Yarn is definitely something to be admired on its own, but it is made magical after being transformed from a single length of string to a continuous piece of fabric, with dimension and texture. Finding the right tools to work with is an important part of the process.

Please join us next week for a post about the tools that we find essential in our knitting lives.

kiwib

We’re always excited about a new yarn launch with one of our favorite dyers, and Alpha B’s new yarn, Kiwi B, is no exception! I chatted with Anne Morrow about this new addition to her lineup, what projects will be perfect, and what sets it apart from the other yarns on our shelves.

Tell us about your newest yarn, Kiwi B. How does it fit into your existing line?

Kiwi B is 100% New Zealand Polwarth in a DK weight. I was looking for an additional DK weight yarn but wanted to offer something a little different than the standard merino but still a yarn with the soft hand. I added the BFL DK last year and the people I work with in the UK sent me a sample of Polwarth when it became available. After dyeing it, knitting with it and having friends knit with it I knew I had found a winner. The yarn dyes beautifully producing a deep and rich color I like. It’s a smooth yarn as it is spun worsted and has a bit of luster due to the Lincoln sheep used in the development of the breed.

How did you source the Polwarth for this yarn?

I receive the yarn from the supplier I work with in the UK. They source the fiber and send Polwarth top sliver to be spun in Italy to their specifications. The Kiwi B is spun worsted, offering a denser yarn than a woolen spun one. It’s necessary that I offer a consistent, quality yarn, and I’m pleased with what I’ve been able to get from this supplier.

Polwarth is a great wool, but one that our readers might not be familiar with. What do you love about this breed and what makes it different from other wools you’ve used?

Polwarth sheep were developed in Australia as a dual-purpose sheep, able to thrive in diverse climates, such as high rainfall areas (not always suitable for Merinos). Originally, Saxon Merino rams would breed to Lincoln ewes. Through selective breeding the Polwarth was born. Saxon Merinos are a small sheep known for producing what many consider the finest wool of the four strains found in Australia. The introduction of the long wool Lincoln to the Saxon gave Polwarth a slight luster and durability. Polwarth is now considered 75% Saxon Merino and 25% Lincoln. It’s a large sheep and the micron count is around 22–25. The Polwarth was introduced to NZ during the 1930s and these sheep are now found in North America, Australia and South America too. In South America the breed is named “Ideal.”

What are some projects you think this yarn would be perfect for?

Kiwi B is suitable for accessories, sweaters and any project where you would use a merino yarn.

Our suggestions? Hit up some of our favorite patterns designed for DK-weight yarns, like Shibui’s Shift or the Ardyth Cardigan from CocoKnits.

 

 

I look forward to it every year—the launch of new patterns and yarns from Shibui! While fall and winter are eternally a knitter’s favorite seasons, I love seeing what interesting garments the team at Shibui Knits comes up with for the warmer weather ahead. Especially since the weather is finally showing signs of spring outside, too.

This season marks a new era from Shibui, featuring patterns designed in-house rather than by independent designers. While we’re sure that many designers will continue to collaborate with Shibui on patterns, it’s exciting to see a collection so originally Shibui without any outside influences. I interviewed Shellie Anderson, the Product Development Manager at Shibui Knits, about the work that the design team put in to make this season’s knits special.

This is the first collection that the design team has done entirely in-house! How was the process different this time around?

It is a collaborative effort of our design team to generate design ideas and give input in the final design concept. I then take those ideas and create the piece and write the pattern. It’s a very creative and exciting process.

Technically this season marks the end of the Mix titled collections. What changes and what can we expect from this season’s patterns?

The Mix concept will never go away—it’s the foundation of our brand. While we’re no longer labeling our collections as Mix, we’ll continue mixing the yarns to create beautiful fabrics. We are also offering more multiple fabric/yarn choices within a single pattern, enabling the knitter to customize the garment to her tastes.

Tell us more about what we will see in the SS15 collection. What yarns have been featured, what influenced this collection?

Inspiration comes from everywhere, but a lot of this collection is based on shapes that we wanted to wear and design. Spring and summer can be a bit more challenging to design for. However, I’m really fortunate to have such great yarns to work with that support these seasons. Our Linen, Kavo, and now Twig, are very well suited for lighter weight garments. Of course, we featured all three in this collection. We also mixed these yarns with Cima and Pebble—a great new combination is Pebble + Kavo. We featured that fabric in our Axis design in this collection.

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Tell us about Twig! It’s the newest yarn in the Shibui lineup.

Our team put a lot of time and effort into getting all aspects of Twig just right. I think we were able to come up with the perfect blend: 46% linen, 42% recycled silk, 12% wool. I believe our fulfillment team nicknamed it Twig before the decision was made, but the description says it all:

“It bends and bows with grace, like new branches in the Spring. It knits up into a beautiful fabric—soft and cool, with the kind of drape that is simply effortless. This yarn is impeccable as a standalone and entirely mixable.”

I love the texture of this yarn! It’s just enough to give the fabric interest without being overpowering. It’s awesome by itself, although my current favorite combination is Twig + Cima.

What else can we expect from Shibui this year?

Of course, I can’t give away any big secrets, but I can say that we’re very focused on showing the versatility of patterns and fabrics this year. We’ll be showcasing different combinations inside of single patterns. Apex, a new SS15 pattern I mentioned earlier, features three fabric options: Linen, Kavo, or the Cima + Twig combination.

With a new yarn to play with and a full collection of beautiful patterns, we’ve no doubt that Shellie and the rest of the design team will continue to surprise us with the clean, modern, and creative products and patterns that Shibui does so well!

shelter

Last week, we talked about the Targhee sheep—how the breed was developed, the characteristics of this wool and some of the projects it’s ideal for. This week, we’ve been discussing one of the branches of the Targhee family: the Targhee-Columbia cross.

A crossbreed is exactly what it sounds like! Two lines of pure sheep breeding match up and pair together to compliment each other. With Targhee-Columbia, the goal was to take all of the great qualities of spongy, dense, soft Targhee wool, and combine it with Columbia, a wool known for having a great sheen, but not so much for being next-to-skin soft. Perhaps the most well-known occurrence of this wool in popular yarns is it’s use for the Brooklyn Tweed brand. Here’s some info from their website about where they source the wool, and why they love this breed:

“Brooklyn Tweed yarns are born in the shadow of the Bighorn Mountains of north central Wyoming, where ranchers have raised sheep for 150 years. Our wool comes from three Johnson County ranches that husband Targhee-Columbia sheep, a distinctly American cross of two breeds with their origins in the wide-open spaces of the West. Both are large, sturdy animals able to withstand the harsh winters and terrain of their rangeland homes. The Targhee produces a fine wool with Merino-like softness; Columbia wool is stouter and lends durability and character. The combination is ideal for the lofty, warm, woolen-spun yarns Brooklyn Tweed set out to create, yarns that are soft enough to wear against the skin but also long wearing an imbued with distinctive personality on the needles.”

www.brooklyntweed.com, Our Story

 

Having knit with Shelter fairly recently while making a sweater for my father for Christmas, I can personally attest to the yarn being a perfect blend of both sheep. While Targhee in my experience is lofty and soft, the Columbia adds a grist to the yarn that keeps it weighty and allows finished projects to have more drape.

During the knitting process, this blend is the quintessentially woolly yarn. Being woolen-spun, it’s lightweight, while the Targhee adds some density to each stitch. The real magic happens when this blend is blocked, though, and the Columbia’s beauty comes to the forefront, adding a slight sheen and the visual warmth that only the best wools have.

Try out your very own Targhee-Columbia projects with one of Brooklyn Tweed’s yarns here.

 

FireCrackerMitts_closeup

Just in time for the Lunar New Year, we’ve released our latest pattern, the Firecracker Mitts. The stitch pattern adorning these mitts is open to interpretation—you might think of it as representing sparks to ward off evil or as lucky five-petaled plum blossoms welcoming spring. Either way, you’ll want to know how to knit it! Videos exist demonstrating how to work this evocative and highly textured stitch—commonly referred to as a daisy stitch—in a flat swatch. The Firecracker Mitts feature two slight adjustments: the stitch pattern is worked in the round for much of each mitt and a reversed version appears in the right mitt, giving you a sweetly symmetrical pair. To make everything clearer, the mitts’ designer, Bekah Stuart, walked us through how she works the daisy stitch.

Each daisy requires working into five stitches at once. Fortunately, bouncy Bannock is well-suited to the task. To make things even easier, the pattern has you prepare for each daisy by creating a group of five extra-roomy stitches. Here Bekah works on this step by wrapping her needle with yarn not just once but twice as she knits a stitch.

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On the following round, when she reaches a group of double-wrapped stitches, she slips each one knitwise to her right-hand needle, releasing the extra loops in the process. That knitwise slipping closes up holes in the fabric, so she keeps the left leg of each stitch in front as she transfers all five elongated stitches back to the left-hand needle.

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The next step is to work into all five stitches as if they were a single stitch, through the back loop, as shown above, for the left mitt, or through the usual front loop, as shown below, for the right mitt.

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Here Bekah has worked a k1 and a yo into the group of five stitches. She’ll go on to knit one, yarn over, and knit one again, and then to drop the five elongated stitches off her left needle—one daisy done!

As you work daisies, don’t worry if you find yourself needing to redistribute your stitches so that all five stitches worked together are grouped on a single needle—it’s simply the nature of the pattern. In addition, keep in mind that while stitch markers would get in the way of making daisies, in a sense, they’re built right into your fabric. Once the pattern is established, the plain knit stitch that separates groups of elongated stitches (the “k1″ in “[CDP, k1],” for example) is worked into the central “petal” of the daisy below, as Bekah demonstrates here.

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Similarly, the middle elongated stitch in a group of five will be worked into the plain knit stitch below.

The daisy stitch is a satisfying little stitch that works up quickly into a cheery set of mitts. Start yours today and begin celebrating the Year of the Sheep with Knit Purl!