Results tagged “knitting tools” from Fabric.com Blog
When you think about sewing or knitting organization fabric and yarn bins come to mind. This is some serious storage to consider. But when it comes to the little bits, sewing and knitting has it in equal ratio to the big bits. For every huge bin of interfacing and fabric you have, there is a tiny sewing foot, tapestry needle or bobbin that is also in need of organization. Mostly the problem of organizing these bits and bobbins is haphazardly thrown together or rounded up in cups, small bowls or in bags. But there is a better way. This tiny accessories need to be close at hand, and easily found. This means that they need small containers of their own. How, you may ask, do you have a container small enough to properly organize the bits without getting lost themselves? Well, I found the answer on a recent trip to Ikea.
Ikea offers these wonderful small containers, Bygel, that hang off a wall mounted bars. These containers are perfectly sized to fit sewing feet, needles, scissors and marking tools without taking up precious cutting space but they can be detached to be where you need them. Hanging your tiny parts is great because they are easy to find and easy to access. Plus, the bins come in cute colors to brighten your sewing/knitting space. These bins are just big enough to hold a collection of small tools but you can still see in and find what you need. The mouth is wide enough to reach in and the walls are tall enough to support scissors and marking tools so they don't fall out. The bottoms are flat so you can detach and park them next to your sewing machine or knitting chair if you will be using several tools for a project. When they are hanging on the wall all my small accessories are easily within reach.
If you don't have an Ikea around you can make a similar hanging station by using small, wide mouthed Mason jars, adjustable pipe fittings, a length of 1x6 pine board and some screws. Determine how many jars you need and the spacing you want between and then cut your board to accommodate your plans. Paint or stain your board as needed. Then screw each adjustable pipe fitting into the pine board, slide each Mason jar into the pipe fitting and then tighten your fitting. Now this set up is not detachable like the Ikea's Bygel but it will hold your tiny bits just as well and beautifully too.
One of the first tools you will learn to use as a knitter is the stitch marker. They come in many shapes, sizes, colors and designs. You can purchase them inexpensively, have them custom made or make them yourself. In the course of your knitting career you will use many different kinds of stitch markers depending on your yarn and needle size (Remember my mohair blog post, I recommend not using jump ring based stitch markers). Fortunately all stitch markers will work the same when it comes to using them in your knitted projects. There are basic uses and creative uses as well as desperate uses. I will cover all the basic uses and attempt to cover all the creative uses. As far as the desperate uses, I can simply recommend that you carry plenty in your notions bag. To move a stitch marker as you knit simply slip it as you would a stitch; don't work it just slip it (pass it from your left needle to your right).
Basic uses of Stitch Markers:
The most common and basic uses of stitch markers are to mark your stitches so you do not have to count every row or count to where your pattern changes every time. If you are knitting in the round you will place a marker between the last stitch of the previous round and the first stitch of the new round so you will know when a round has been worked and you can count how many you have worked. You can also use it to highlight where a pattern change is occurring such as a sleeve increase, bodice decrease or cable pattern. Place the marker at the beginning of this change and at the end so you will know where to work your changes and when to stop. This helps so you don't have to count over to a certain spot on every row. You can just work to the marker then work the change to the next marker and then continue on your way.
Markers can also help you count rows. I love to use them when working cables. With cable you must work the twist after a certain number of rows. With the stitch marker I count the number of rows from the marker up and then move the marker up when I work the next twist. The twist of cables can skew the rows a bit making it difficult to determine which row the twist was worked on and then throwing off the size of your cable. Using the stitch marker eliminates the guess work. You can also use them when you begin a decrease or increase and then count the rows since the marker instead of searching your project for signs of the beginning of the increase/decrease.
Creative uses of Stitch Markers:
I have been known on occasion to use my stitch markers to hold dropped stitches in check until I can repair them with my crochet hook. The stitch marker keeps the stitch from unraveling more and holds it in place if I don't have time to address it at present. I can also use my stitch markers to plan changes in my project before actually making the changes. If I am working on a sweater and I want to insert a dart or increase/decrease for shaping, I can slip in some stitch markers where I think the change should be made and then I can step back and determine any pattern disruptions, determine how the placement will look or try it on to see if the placement sits on my frame where I anticipated that it would. Also, when finishing a hat and I have gotten to the last few stitches and just need to weave in the tail and pull it tight, if I find myself without a tapestry needle I will slip the stitches to a stitch marker until I find a needle to finish.
My last and most creative use of a stitch marker is as a sock monkey earring for this great Sock Monkey Hat!
One important thing you should know about me is that I am a Harry Potter Fan. One reason for my JK Rowling fanaticism is that she is a fan of knitting and so are the costumers for the movies. I love curling up on the couch with my sketch book waiting for inspiration to come on the screen. The subject for today's posting is courtesy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movies. The lead female character wears a cardigan with a cabled button band that I fell head over heels for. It is such a fun and unique idea that I decided to experiment with my own.
You can really see the bar tacks on this picture
For my cabled button band swatch I knit only the button holes. Knitting a button band for the buttons is the easier of the two and I want to figure out the right cable and button hole combo for me. I started with a 9 st cable with a 3 st purl center (see Twist Cable instructions below). I added a horizontal one row button hole but found that it left a bar tack on the right side of my cable that I didn't like. Next, I tried the same cable with a vertical button hole. This button hole/cable combo seemed to work well together but I prefer horizontal button holes on my cardigan to reduce button slippage.
Third, I tried a simpler cable that didn't cable across the whole of the sts like the Twist Cable above. The Honey Comb Cable just twists over half the sts on each side. This greatly reduces the tension and allows the button band to lay flat and means you can cable between fewer rows so you can have more button holes. I coupled this cable with a double yarn over button hole. The combo of the Honey Comb Cable with the simple button resulted in a very polished button band. The light cable will not pull on the sweater when the button band is attached (making blocking easier) and the simple button hole was easy without distorting the cable.
The yarn used for this sample is Lion Brand Cotton Ease
Button Hole Instructions can be found here
9st Right Twist Cable: Cast on 9 sts
Row 1 (RS): knit 3, purl 3, knit 3
Row 2 (WS): Purl 3, knit 3, purl 3
Row 3: Slip first 3 sts onto cable needle and hold to back, slip second 3 sts onto cable needle and hold to back, knit third 3sts then purl second 3 sts from cable needle then knit the first set of 3 sts from cable needle
Repeat Row 1 & 2 twice (or more depending on the size of your button hole) then repeat Row 3
Honey Comb Cable: Cast on 12 sts
Row 1 (RS): knit 3, purl 6, knit 3
Row 2 (WS): purl 3, knit 6, purl 3
Row 3: Slip 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in front, purl next 3 sts then knit 3 sts from cable needle, slip 3 sts onto cable needle and hold to back, purl next 3 sts, knit 3 sts from cable needle
Repeat Row 1 & 2 once
Row 6: Slip 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in back, knit 3 sts then purl 3 sts from cable needle, slip 3sts onto cable needle and hold in front, purl next 3 sts and then knit 3 sts from cable needle
For a long time, I avoided any project with buttons holes for one reason: I could not make them neat. As hard as I tried buttonholes always threw off my projects. I could spend hours knitting something perfectly but when it came down to the buttonholes, it ruined the whole piece. Happily, I was not alone in my dislike for buttonholes and they have come a long way since I began knitting. Let me share with you some of my favorite methods to create great looking and hard working button holes.
Above I used Vertical Buttonhole for my French Press Pattern
When I pick up a button band or I need to knit horizontal buttonholes into a project, I go with this method. It is fast, easy and secure. The finished look is very clean and symmetrical. I love that it is all done in one row since I have a past of forgetting to cast back on for 2 row button holes and so I spend lots of time unknitting. One Row button hole: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY4vBzLo-Xs.
Amy, from Knittinghelp.com has helped me through many issues with her helpful videos and no less so with this one. She recommends you write down the instructions but I have found a printable version here http://www.knittingdaily.com/glossary/one-row-buttonhole.aspx
Above is a 4 st One Row Buttonhole that is sturdy
enough for my homemade toggle buttons.
Eunny Lang, editor at Interweave Knits, demonstrates a more precise and slightly complicated (involving more tools than the above method) One Row Buttonhole here. I would recommend this buttonhole method when working with fine yarn, lace or when you need an absolute perfect buttonhole. This is the Rolls Royce of buttonholes, only to be trotted out when you need to show some pomp and splendor. For every day, the previous One Row Buttonhole version is your best bet. http://www.knittingdaily.com/blogs/daily/archive/2010/05/31/a-better-buttonhole.aspx
Now, sometimes a knitter needs a vertical buttonhole and horizontal will not do. In that case try JeshKnits pictorial tutorial. Her pictures are crisp and clear and show you from just the right angle how to go about achieving a great vertical buttonhole. I love these for sleeve bands and cowls. Vertical Buttonholes: http://jeshknits.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/vertical-buttonholes-a-tutorial/
Check out our great knitting and crochet section here for awesome deals for all your buttonhole needs
I often teach friends and neighbors to knit. Invariably they show up with a ball of worsted weight yarn and 2 ridiculously long straight needles. One of my first recommendations I make if I think they will stick with knitting is to invest in a set of interchangeable cable needles. But even if they are unwilling to take that step, I encourage my students to use cable needles as their default needles as opposed to straight needles. My reasons are thus:
1) Multipurpose. You can only knit straight on straight needles, while you can knit straight and in the round with cable needles. This means you can change needles less if you have a project that jumps from knitting in the round to straight and back again.
2) Weight distribution. Even when working straight on cable needles it is gentler on your wrists because the flexible cables allow knitters to rest most of the weight of a project in their laps or on a table in front of them. This is a good option of those with weak muscles, arthritis or people just getting in the game who haven't built up their knitter's bulk yet.
3) Odd jobs. Cable needles can serve as stitch holders, can be used in provisional cast-ons and other odd jobs that straight needles can't even dream off.
4) Lighter. Though not terribly so, over many hours the lighter weight of cable needles over straight needles can reduce fatigue, muscle strain and can speed up your project.
But how do you knit straight on cable needles? Easy, it is just like have a string tied to each end of your straight needles. You knit from your left needle to your right and once you get to the end of a row (this is easy to tell) switch your left needle to your right hand and vice versa for the other needle and start your next row. It is easier done than said and will really open your eye, expand your project load and reduce your needle inventory. You can start with one and go from there. I would encourage you as I do my students to invest in an interchangeable needle set; it is worth its weight in yarn!
When you are in need of an excellent seamless cast on, you can't go wrong with the Crochet Cast On. The Crochet Cast On is a flawless cast on perfect for joins, grafting and decorative bind offs. You can use it when knitting identical halves of scarf or shawls, for sock toes or when matching your cast on to your bind off. You don't need to know to know how to crochet to complete the crochet cast on, but having a feel for the hook is helpful in learning this new technique. It is a great foundation for pick up stitches later on and is easy to pull out later.
All you need is your working yarn, some waste yarn in a contrasting color, your needle and a crochet hook. It is a terrific alternative to the Provisional Cast On, if you are short on cable needles or just prefer this method. It is always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve and more than one way to get the end result, if the end result you are looking for is a seamless join or graft!
Fair Isle and intarsia are not the only options for adding color to your knit work. Duplicate stitch is another way to add one or several colors to your knitting after it is completed. In fact, duplicate stitch can be the easiest of any of the color work options since there are no bobbins or extra strands to mind. You simply knit your piece and then go back and add in your duplicate stitches in another color. Duplicate stitch is a great way to add just a hint of color or to add a non-repeating design element.
To complete a duplicate stitch of a knit stitch is to
recreate a 'V' or upside down 'V'. Take your threaded tapestry needle and come in from the back at
the bottom of your 'V'. Go back in at the top right of the 'V' and come out on
the top left of the 'V'. Go back through to the back of your work at the bottom
of the 'V'. (or vice versa is you prefer to duplicate the upside 'V' rows instead)
Now, the duplicate stitch for the purl stitch is a little tricky but there is more than one option. If you want a true duplicate stitch than there will be 2 rows of stitching. While the knit stitch creates 'V's the purl side creates 'S's. There are curved bumps (that look like 'n') and concave bumps (that look like 'u'). This is best depicted in pictures rather than words.
To do a single row of purl, use a loose backward embroidery stitch. This will easily mimic one row of purl stitches should you not want the double row look.
Duplicate stitch is a great way to add a custom or personalized look after the fact or an easier way for you to insert color into a knitted piece. With duplicate stitch there is no need to try out different patterns to get an idea to work. Just knit up the piece and add the color design after.
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Knitting Lace is a wonderful experience and the finished product is even more rewarding. Lace has been a prized commodity for centuries and as a hand craft its lessons have been passed down for just as long. Knitting lace is not difficult only challenging. You need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to successfully knit Lace (by successfully, I also mean with low frustration). Here are 5 of my Lace Secrets:
1) Lace Cast On. For a gorgeous lace shawl or scarf you need a beautiful cast on, the lace cast on is easy but adds that certain detail to give your lace something special. Bonus: you do not need a long tail for this cast on. The lace cast on adds decorative loops in the form of yarn overs to blend in beautifully with the yarn overs of your lace. This is a seamless cast on. Caution: you will always cast on an odd number of stitches
2) Lifelines. We have discussed it before but lifelines are so important I would be remiss if I wrote a lace article without emphasizing the importance of lifelines again. Please use them. They will save much heartache especially when knitting with difficult yarns like Mohair, Angora and Cashmere (the fluffy yarns are trying to rip back). It is good piece of mind to always have a safe place to rip back to where you KNOW your stitch count is correct. In addition, for those of us who like to check items off their To Do lists, you get a warm, similar feeling each time you move up your lifeline. Another section well done!
3) Consider lace knitting as "Me Time". You need to concentrate so no TV, movies, kids playing, knitting in public (maybe later but not to start) or with friends. There are plenty of projects that you can knit while distracted, lace is not one of them. Think of it as a good excuse to pour a glass of wine, sit on your porch and get inside your mind. You deserve it and your lace does too. I don't knit lace often now because of my daughter but when I do, I revel in it because for an hour or 2 that is all I am doing and it feels so good.
Invest in Lace. Lace is a fine art so treat it
as such. Buy yourself (or
make) a great knitting bag to keep all your tools organized or easy to
hand. Your bag will protect your lace, make it easy for you to knit and keep it
Spend time on picking your yarn. Consider the fiber, color and feel of your yarn. Knit a swatch. Don't just go with your budget. Consider that you will be spending significant time with this yarn while knitting and after. You want to love it always. Knitting lace is a luxury with the time you spend and the yarn you use.
5) The Devil is in not thinking of the details. You've already bought the yarn and committed the time, so think about the details. As your start your project, pack up all your tools and books you may need to complete your lace. Get your bag organized and wind up your yarn. Get everything in order before you start. If you set aside the time, get organized and use the right tools, lace knitting will be awesome. I remember my first time with lace. I just sat down and had nothing planned. I was jumping up every 5 min to grab something, would soon lose it in my lap and was frustrated so much I may have drop kicked my needles a few times. Now, I am committed to the planning and I love knitting lace!
Designed to finish off remnant yardages of sock yarn to make newborn slippers, SockPixie's Magic Slipper Pattern can easily accommodate bigger kid slippers by upgrading your yarn gauge. This is a fast and enjoyable slippers pattern to make for any special kid in your life. My daughter is especially in need of slipper because of her delightful habit of pulling off her socks in the few minutes in the crib before she falls asleep only to be awakened later with cold feet. You would think the only way to tame this habit would be to duct tape her socks on but just putting slippers on over the socks seems to deter her. I have not deeply contemplated the logic behind this, only delight in the ease of the solution. Thus I make sure to have plenty of slippers on hand. I was delighted to find such a good looking and easy slipper pattern. I dismayed slightly when I saw it was for sock yarn, since I have an abundance of worsted weight yarn remnants. I decided to make it work and set to work. I found that since the yarn is bigger and my little one's foot is bigger that if I just knit the pattern as is but with the bigger yarn it would work out perfectly for the most part. One of the few changes I made (besides the worsted weight yarn and size 7 needles) was to knit the middle of the sole longer. My wee one wears a size 6. When the instructions say to keep knitting till you reach 2 ¼ in. I kept knitting to make my sole 5 in. long. You can also achieve this by making sure you have 28 garter ridges which will give you the correct length. You can adjust the size for a size 4-5 by using a size 5 or 6 needle and even smaller by using DK or sport yarn. The same for larger. You don't want to use anything bigger than a US 7 with worsted weight yarn but by using bulky or super bulky or doubling your yarns you can knit a much bigger slipper for even older children.
I used the remainder of my Berroco Vintage and it works very well with the slipper. It is a little slick on the bottom so I will need to add some puff paint or slipper bottoms for traction. My daughter loves them too and even brought her pair to me to put on before nap yesterday. I was delighted and already have another pair cast-on.
Meet the January Cropped Sweater. This is my solution when cold days meets flowy tunics that are all the rage these days. I was tired of my empire waist tunics and dresses bunching up or bulging under my sweaters and cardigans so I set out to design a sophisticated cropped sweater that could hold its own style-wise but no be so bold as to distract from the whole. The January sweater features a diagonal rib pattern boat neck and a zigzag pattern down the arm. Deep ribs hug the sweater to your figure so no waist shaping is needed. The deep ribs on the cuffs ensure that brisk winds won't creep up your sleeves. The sweater stops just at your natural waist so there is no need to worry about bunching of billowing blouses. The fitted nature of the sweater will keep you looking slim while accommodating trendy tunics and dresses. The details are subtle. The cropped sweater is knit with 4 balls Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky, but with additional 2-3 balls you can increase the length of your sweater to waist length. If you want to add color you can opt for a color change for the neckline or just the cuffs. Go for coordinating colors like Dark Blue and Light Blue or something bolder: Light green and Teal. I have been sporting mine for a little over a week and it works really well for most of my wardrobe. The fitted nature also fits under all my coats without added bulk. I really enjoyed designing and knitting this sweater. The Chunky Yarn knit up quick and the added warmth was perfect during the recent snow storm.
The January Sweater is advanced beginner. You will need to be familiar with knitting in the round, increasing, decreasing and switching needle sizes. The pattern is simple to follow but you will need 4 balls of Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky, sizes US 10, 10.5 & 11 needles, tapestry needle and waste yarn. If you want to make a full sweater, bump up your yarn to 6 balls. This sweater is best knit on Interchangeables to make the needle changes easier.
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Steeks make me sweat or rather they did before I actually attempted a steek. My Norwegian mother in law informs me that steeks were once the bread n butter of knitting. Everything was knit in the round and then cut and added to later: neck lines, sleeves, cardigans. I was flabbergasted. It just made me so nervous, until I did it. But, of course it is like that for everything: driving, dating, and getting a real job. You are so nervous before; it seems so weird. What if you mess up? It is all so new. But then you do it and then get used to it and as with driving and the rest if just falls into place. Steeks will be the same.
Now there are a few good articles out there on steeks (not a lot but some good ones) but the info available on non-natural fibers is virtually nonexistent. There are sources that say you can do it but I didn't find any that showed how or gave a good run down. So I set off to do that. I knit up a few swatches to practice my mad experimentation on in Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky (80% acrylic, 20% wool). I knew this would make a good swatch to experiment with because we had the wool to snag and prevent quick unraveling and then the acrylic to serve as the control in our non-natural steeking experiment. I set to work.
I figured in my research that I would need to machine sew along the edge of my steek but getting the stitch length just right and then determining if machine stitching would hold would be my issues. First, I tried just a regular stitch length that I would use sewing quilting cotton. I quickly determined that that would not hold. The yarn was too chunky and the stitch was too long. Generally every other row was caught up and secured. I dialed it down the smallest stitch length and pulling the knitted swatch widthwise a bit so I could see the bars between stitches, I sewed really slowly. I left a long tail of upper thread and bobbin thread at the beginning and end to knot at the top and bottom of my stitch line to secure the cast on and bind off. The slow sewing, smaller stitch length and really watching where the needle landed each time helped profusely to make sure each stitch was secure. After sewing another line of stitching down the other side, I was ready to cut my steek. I used my super sharp sewing shears to get the job done right. Afterward I picked up stitches along the side and knit a small facing to hide any frayed ends on the cut side. I tested my swatch thoroughly, pulling, tugging and finally giving it to my toddler to have at. The stitches held and the machine stitching did not significantly affect the movement of the sweater.
I am so pleased to have gotten my first steeking experience out of the way and feel no fear in using them in the future. I am emboldened now and find myself daydreaming about how to incorporate them into all my future projects. I can see myself seriously cutting down on my purling!
For the first few years of my knitting career, I believed that the only way to knit a circle smaller than 16 in. was to use DPNs. I detested using DPNs and so would avoid all projects that required them. I missed out on many great patterns and many learning opportunities. I eventually caved and used DPNs but it was like getting a kid to clean their room on a sunny day. They avoid it and avoid it until they have to do it and it is no fun for anyone. One day, I stumbled upon magic loop. I was cruising blog land and came across a picture of a knitter whipping up socks while on a road trip. The picture showed the beginning of the socks being knit on one circular needle. I was shocked and excited! I ran to my favorite knitting forum (Knitty.com Coffeeshop) and posted a link to the picture and an urgent cry that I needed info on this technique with a quickness. 5 min later I had my answer: Magic Loop. The clouds parted, the sun shined down uponth my face and I heard the angels sing. I spent the night devouring all info on Magic Loop and practicing my heart out. It was awesome! And it is SO easy.
First you need some flexible, thin, long length cable needles (at least 32 in. long depending on the diameter of the project) like Hiya Interchangeables. Cast on the required number of stitches just as you would with straight knitting.
Scoot your sts down to the middle of cable and count out half of your sts (I cast on 16 so I counted to 8 sts). Fold the cable at the center of your Sts and slide each half of the Sts down a bit on either side of the center and pull the cable up, dividing your Sts.
Leave the Sts with the working yarn in the middle of the cable and slide the Sts without the working yarn to the needle. This is your left needle. Take up your right needle which will have no Sts on it and work the Sts from the left needle to your right. The other half of the Sts hangs out on the middle of the cable allowing them to stay close because of the flexible needle.
Once you are done working the first half of the stitches, slide the unworked Sts to the empty needle and the worked Sts go to the center of the cable. Work the unworked Sts from the left needle to the right. Repeat the above steps until your project is the desired length.
I am in the middle of Danger Craft's Tofu pattern and so far I have knit the entire body, legs and arm on magic loop. It is my go to and so easy. I don't have to divide Sts among 3-4 needles. No need to jungle 4-5 needles and while I have lost many a DPN I have not yet lost an interchangeable. Magic Loop on Interchangeables also makes it easier to put my knitting away. I just twist off my needle and replace them with end caps. I never knew who to properly store and transport my DPNs without a needle sliding out. No project is avoided now!
Check out more small diameter knitting with more Danger Craft toys here.
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Deals by following @fabricdotcom
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I have noticed among knitters and lay people alike that knitting is seriously considered a winter activity. Like geese flying south and bear hibernating, knitting is what is done indoors and in cold weather. Not for this knitter and not for many steady fast others who have turned to knitting as not just an activity to populate their closets but as therapy and way to keep a cultural tradition alive. I know that this may do little to sway some but perhaps with some inducement (a proverbial carrot dangling from a stick, if you will) you will be knitting by the pool this summer.
The biggest hurdle appears to be, the yarn. NO ONE wants to touch wool, let alone think of it without sweat popping up all over, especially here in the south. Cotton, however, is at home in the heat. It's cooling and lightness has earned it the #1 spot in summer wear. With cotton, you don't need to lay your creative focus and stress relieving needles in with your winter wear. I love to put aside many of my favorite sweater patterns or those I have not yet had time to knit in the cold weather aside for spring time (or in many restaurants, offices, and movie theaters that think 60 deg is the ideal climate for patrons in summer) knitting. I can't stop knitting, even when it is too hot to go on. I love the feel of completing one more row, of reaching another point in the pattern to see how the author handles this increase or this cable turn. And I love completing a pattern, weaving in the ends and gloriously blocking it. Cotton allows me to continue knitting and wearing my creations year round.
I generally go for heavier weight cotton for spring (worsted and DK) and then towards lighter weights as the temperature goes up (sport and fingering). I try to start in Jan but sometimes hold out till February because it is still so cold here. But before long I am dreaming of humidity and can't wait to pull out my cotton yarns. I know by the time I am done the weather will be warm enough or I will be stubborn enough to wear it. The colors of cotton sing to me as well. I can't help but spurn the jewel tones of winter and find my shopping cart full of pinks, yellows and (my fave) bright grass green. I will often alter my patterns to accommodate the warmer weather by shortening the sleeves but often enough just changing from wool to cotton is enough to make any sweater perfect for warm weather. Though cardigans are my favorite because you can unbutton for breezes, pullovers work well for office wear, early morning walks and late night dates. I love knitting with cotton; it is forgiving, great for textures and the warm weather equivalent of wool.
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Often when you are finished knitting you find yourself with a piece that is not quite how you imagined or doesn't fit as well as you had hoped. All the knitting down the drain you think as you plan to frog your project. Wait- All you really need is to properly block your knitted project. Wet blocking will bring out the details in lace, adjust fitting issues and show off the cables to best effect. Wet blocking is simple and to those detail-oriented folks, immensely satisfying.
Start by fully submerging your knitting in the water and gently (especially for wool-you don't want to felt it) squeeze to saturate every fiber. You will probably see air bubbles escape. Then leave your knitting in the water for 20-30 min. Drain the sink or bowl slowly and then carefully squeeze out extra water. Don't wring the fabric, just lightly squeeze.
Lay out your towel on a flat surface and open it fully if needed to accommodate your project or fold it in half width wise for small pieces. Carefully lay out your piece on the towel and gently shape it so it is laying flat. Roll up your towel until the whole towel is rolled up. Apply gentle pressure to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Unroll your towel and lift your piece on to your blocking board. Start by pinning the major corners or points of your piece (for a shawl the top 2 corners, for a sweater the shoulders and neck line). Using a ruler gradually add more pins until your piece is fully pinned and shaped to your satisfaction.
Now comes the hard part: waiting. Put your blocking board in indirect light so it will not fade but will use the warmth to help it dry faster. You must wait until your piece is FULLY dry. Don't pull out those pins until you are very sure it is dry and then wait a little longer. The bigger the piece the longer the wait. It is worth the wait since you will be rewarded with a beautiful piece of knitting that fit better and looks amazing.
First choose your yarn. It is most important to start with the yarn though you may have a basic idea of how you want your hat to look in the end- it all depends on the yarn. You may want a chunky hat with a cable but first you must know your yarn so you may base your math and needle size from the yarn. Next, using the needle size suggested on the ball band, knit a 4 in. by 4 in. swatch. Once complete, take a good long look at your swatch. Does it give the stitch definition you are looking for? Is the fabric thick enough? Will it give you the look you want? If the answer to any of these is no, consider switching your yarn. A smoother yarn will give better definition- essential for cable and textured stitches. If you fabric is not thick or dense enough go for a smaller needle. Next, count your gauge and multiply it out to the circumference of your head or the head of the hat wearer. My head is 22 in. around, for example, and with a chunky yarn giving me 12 Sts over 4 in. means I must cast on 66 Sts for a hat.
Now if you have a chosen stitch pattern that you want to incorporate you must accommodate this into your cast-on. Say, I want to use a lace pattern that repeats over 14 Sts. I start by dividing 66 by 14 and get 4.71. Rounding up to 5 means that I will have 5 repeats of the pattern if I cast-on 70 Sts. Adding the extra 4 Sts will only increase my hat circumference by roughly 1 in. If this is an issue you can always add on a ribbing with a smaller needle before starting the lace. The ribbing knit with a smaller needle will make the hat a little tighter along the bottom edge.
Knit until you reach the crown of your head (for me this is 7 in.) and then it is time to start your decreases. I prefer to make mine even across the stitch count and widely spaced so it will not distract from the patterns. A k2tog decrease gives a nice dome shape that will fit your head very well. To determine where to place your decrease you must divide into your stitch count and determine the highest number available to fit your pattern. Given the example above, I could divide 70 by 10 which would give me 7 decreases or I could divide by 14 which would give me 5 decreases. I would choose the 5 decreases since it would blend in with my lace pattern which has 5 pattern repeats. I would then *knit (in pattern) 12 sts, k2tog and repeat from * to the end of the round (12 sts plus the 2 in the K2tog gives 14). The next round would be knit in pattern without decrease.Each decrease round subtract 1 from the knitted stitches: 2nd decrease round knit 11 sts then k2tog, 3rd decrease round knit 10 then k2tog, etc) Decreasing and then skipping a round gives a nice gradual crown that fits the head smoothly and comfortably. I would repeat these 2 rounds until I was k2tog the whole round. Then, you break the yarn leaving an 8 in. tail. Using your tapestry needle, weave the tail though the remaining loops following the direction of knitting and pull tight. Turn your hat inside out and weave this tail into the hat to secure the end.
Your hat is now finished! You can use this basic hat pattern to make any number of hats in any design or fashion. It is a trusted and true pattern that has served me well. Pass it on!
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One of the basics of knitting is knitting I-cord. I made a comment last week on Facebook about how I never use my DPNs. Milinda Paquette kindly reminded me the importance of DPNs if only for knitting i-cord. And i-cord is important in knitting. It is a versatile technique that can be used for straps, ties, and decorative accents on toys or edges. I-cord is almost too easy for its return on value. I-cord is like the bias strips equivalent in sewing. I have used i-cord for pumpkins stems, toy arms, elephant noses, ear flap ties, belts, ETC.
There are 2 easy ways to make i-cord: DPNs or knitting spool. Now, if you prefer to use DPNs, which I do, than the shorter the better (like the Hiyahiya 4 in. DPNs) because once you are done knitting a row you don't switch your left and right needles. Slide your stitches to the other end of your right hand needle and then switch your needles from right hand to left. Knit your stitches again, making sure to snug your first stitch. The tail pulls the stitches together and after about 3 rows you notice your knitting forms a tube. If you have a shorter DPN then you have less sliding. Be sure you snug that first stitch but DO NOT pull it too tight otherwise it will be too tight to knit the next row (this took me a while to learn and I hated i-cord until I learned to loosen up a bit). You can make your i-cord as thick as you want but you must knit with at least 3 stitches. If you need it smaller, than sub in a lighter weight yarn. You can make your own knitting spool with an old wooden thread spool and some nails. Spool knitting is fun and really great for kids. To adjust the size you will need a bigger spool and more nails but it is a great kid's craft.
You can also use i-cord as a totally awesome bind off. It is called attached icord and the edge is actually icord that you knit on as you bind off. Interweave has a great video. Attached I-cord is a great finish for blankets, sleeves, slippers and hats.
A knitter's needle is as personal as a favorite pair of pants or how one takes coffee. It is a tiny piece of your personality and thus very important. You will spend many hours with your needles. Picking a tools that can make or break your knitting (and in the end your sanity) is important and should not be rushed into. As a new knitter, I tried everything as I discovered it but I was like a 10 yr old on a shopping spree. As I taught myself, my first needles were metal so I bought a bunch. As I explored more forums, I discovered bamboo so I purchased a set of straight and DPNs. Then I came across my first set of interchangeable in acrylic so that was another chunk of change. After that it was magic loop and the purchase of 40 in. plus cable needle since my Interchangeables were not compatible with magic loop. It went on and on until I finally settled down and found the perfect set for me. I still have many of my original purchases but I only use my "married set": I call them my "married set" because I dated all the others and finally fell deeply in love and have not strayed since.
Many knitters are monogamous with their chosen set but others have not settled down, changing from needle to needle depending on the project and what is new. If you know you are destined to be a monogamous knitter than it is important to find your needle. You may choose to follow my path but there are easier ways to find your needle.
1) Do you have any allergies or arthritis? This will rule out some needle right away. I am allergic to nickel so that was an early indicator and why I was drawn to wooden needles. Wood or bamboo is also key for older knitters.
2) How do you knit? Fast or take your time. If you prefer fast, there are many "turbo" needles out there made with nickels and have pointy tips and slick finishes. If you like to take your time, maybe not slow but not super fast, and precise stitches then wood or bamboo may be for you. Some are well varnished and can be as fast as nickel but I often find that wood and bamboo grip more and prevent slipping stitches. Do you knit more in the round than straight? Then a set of circulars or Interchangeables are for you. My mother in law knits more flat than in the round and sticks to her straight needle and rarely touches her Interchangeables. I knit more round but I only use my interchangeable no matter what the project.
3) Visit the forums and read what others have to say. You might find someone who knits like you and find your perfect needle without spending time and money on others.
4) Do you like trends? Then, my friend, you are probably not a monogamous knitter but enjoy new needles with jewelry on the end, Knit Lite, and anything new and exciting. Go to it if you love it. There is no shame in "dating". If it keeps you knitting and happy- where is the problem? You might have less money for yarn but you do have some really awesome needles!
With our great selection of needles you are sure to find the right one for you. Plus, with our free return shipping if you don't- it's not problem to try them out to make sure. Make sure and ask for a Fabric.com gift card for Christmas so you can pick your favorite needle!!!
Pictured: my fave needles- Lantern Moon
There are various ways to store your needles, ranging from plastic containers to a jumble at the bottom of your knitting bag. I prefer mine nice and neat so I can see what I've got, sizes and which are missing. I also like to keep my different needle separated: straight, DPN and circular. This gets tricky as you collect more needles but with the right patterns and some sewing time you can create a fun collection of knitting needle cases to fit your needs.
A great needle case makes it easy to keep your needle organized but also serve as a grab n' go for knitting away from home. You never know when you might need a needle change or even your trusty crochet hook for a dropped stitch. A needle case fits in your bag and keeps your tools snug and within reach. There are some great options out there to make your own.
For a great DPN case, I have designed this compact roll that can fit a whole set of DPNs from 0-15 in one compact ribbon roll. All you will need is ½ yd of 2 coordinating fabrics, 1 yd of ribbon and some time. You can download the PDF pattern:Needle case.pdf.
You can match all your cases together or mix and match with a central color for a funky, eclectic look. I love to make and collect needle case and update them every few years. They also make perfect gift that are fast for a special knitter in your house.
**Psst: The DPN case can also be used for crochet hooks, colored pencils and markers!
I heart knitting in the round for one reason- No Purling (depending on the pattern). Knitting in the round is easy but it takes some getting used to and there are some tricks to help you knit in the round better and easier.
1) Consider your cast-on when knitting in the round. Backward loop is SOOOO easy to cast on but so difficult to knit that first row, especially when trying to keep your stitches from twisting (more on that later). Long tail cast on is my number 1 choice but I also like cable cast on as well. Both give a smooth edge.
2) Twisted stitches: When first learning to knit in the round you will read everywhere about the pitfalls of twisted stitches but it is hard to avoid a danger that has no face. Basically untwisted stitches are all lined up with the cast on bumps at the bottom. It might be beneficial to check each stitch to make sure. EVEN if you have 300 stitches! That is all the more reason to check since you do not want to cast 300 stitches on over and over to fix a twisted stitch. When you have knit and your stitches are twisted you will know it within a few rows. Your knitting will not be a knitted tube but the whole tube will be twisted. You will be forced to rip back to the beginning. The real danger is at the beginning when you join to knit in the round but the whole first row you must be aware to keep those stitches straight.
3) Ladders: This generally happens at the beginning of the round or when knitting on several needle (magic loop, 2 needles, DPN) at the join between each needle. Prevention is easy for each cause. Before joining to knit in the round, cast on an extra stitch then slip it from the right needle to the left. Knit the first 2 stitches together (the extra stitch from the right needle and the first stitch from the left) to begin knitting in the round. Knitting these 2 together will make the join tight and prevent a ladder. When moving from needle to needle I like to knit the first stitch on a new needle, then when I knit the second and I pull it tight. Snugging the 2nd stitch will snug any looseness from the first stitch and secures the snug. Determining how tight to snug your stitches will take practice. Not tight enough will not help and too tight will make it difficult to knit the stitch the next time around. (the below picture is a ladder at the beginning of the round)
4) Gauge: your gauge with straight knitting and knitting in the round is different. How different varies from knitter to knitter. But know that it is not a good idea to knit a gauge swatch straight for a round project. Knit your swatch to match your project. If you are making a hat, swatch in the round. If you project is flat, swatch flat. You may knit tighter in the round, getting 28 stitches per 4 in. in the round versus 30 sts per 4 in. straight. You may think that is any big thing but over the course of a sweater, you might find that while you made gauge you sweater is finished and too tight. 2 sts over 4 in. in the context of a sweater is a big deal. If swatching correctly seems like a waste of an hour, consider the 30 hours of a sweater that doesn't fit.
Lace knitting is an indulgence for me that I do not treat myself to very often. This is due in part to the challenges of lace knitting and the concentration I like to devote to it that I am often lacking lately. But I enjoy it so very much and have for some time. I wrote the below back in 2007 and it has inspired me since to sing the praises of lace knitting but also shout even more loudly the tips and tools every knitter should arm themselves with before they are elbow deep in YO's and no way out.
"I have been knitting my largest and most complicated to lace project to date: Swallowtail Shawl from Fall 2006 Interweave Knits. It is not so much that it is very difficult, but just that I did not do any research beyond reading (well skimming, if we are going to be honest and I guess I will since you can't hunt me down and shame me in the streets) the pattern before casting on. I ran into many or really one difficulty. My count was off repeatedly and it was extremely vexing (was watching Pride and Prejudice last night)." -Tara Miller, www.gruenetree.com, July 2007
Here are the tips and tools I have been testing and recommending since that fateful project. I hope you will read this and use them before you end of like me back in 2007.
1. Stitch Markers- Have many kinds of stitch markers handy and test them with your yarn for EACH PROJECT. Example: I am knitting the swallowtail with mohair (Rowan Kid Silk Haze to be specific) and it is very fine. I am using jump rings that I fashioned into my very own highly fashionable stitch markers unfortunately as stunning as they may be, the mohair slips through the jump ring and thus making it appear as though my count is off. I now use a locking stitch marker, as plain as it may be, the ends lock in place leaving no space for mohair to slip through. My jump ring stitch markers work just fine for every other yarn I have knit with successfully.
2. Life Lines- If you are knitting lace without a life line you are either very brave, have too much time on your hands, or are ignorant (no shame in that, obviously you recognize this fault and have decided to continue reading) or are an idiot. I love my life lines and am so paranoid (or is it too tired to starting over 5 times) that I double up. I will knit one repeat, weave in my life line, knit another repeat and then weave in another. I do not take out the first and just move it up. I usually have 2 just in case I made a mistake and it has managed to evade my notice and climb up 2 repeats. I am not taking any chances; I like to start new projects, not old.
3. Needles- Make sure you pick the right needles for your project. Take into consideration the size the project will grown to be and the weight. If you are knitting with, say, mohair you will only need to take into mind the size and pick your length of needle or cable according to your preference. But if you are using a thicker fiber you also need to consider how heavy your project will become and probably want to consider a cable needle to distribute this weight to your lap instead of your wrists. Another yarn/needle combo you want to consider is slippery-ness and delicacy of the fiber. If the fiber is very delicate, like mohair or silk, than you might not want to trust your wood needles. As smooth as they may feel, there could be a rough spot that you do not find until you are 80 million rows into your project and it has caused a minor turning into major hiccup. Also, you want to reduce the chances of dropped stitches as much as possible which can result from slippery yarn on slippery needles so make that swatch and go with your gut.
4. Be confident. This is only knitting; you can rip it out. It is for fun and relaxing, no use stressing over it. How much are you really going to want to wear a shawl with bad memories? If it is too difficult, just put it down and come back when you have more experience. If that is 2 weeks or 20 years, no biggie. No shame in passing it down to the next generation. How much more fun will it be to pass down than to painful get through it. Wouldn't you love to finish a project your mother or grandmother had started? Even better if you finished something they considered over their heads. Then you can wear it around and boast. Perhaps you can make a custom tag for it that says "In your face Mom/ Grandmom!" Just a suggestion.
My favorite room of the house is my sewing room. This is not just because it houses my sewing machine and other tools of my trade but because it is just my room. Painted the color I love, decorated with fabric and yarn as far as the eye can see (if you squint it looks like it goes on forever) and great big windows for light that makes me want to make. Establishing your own sewing room only takes a few key items, the rest is up to you.
1) Work stations: I have 3 works stations. A cutting table (I prefer counter height), a sewing table and an ironing board (or as I so nervously call it in my video "a knitting board"). You can combine your cutting table and sewing table into one to save space. Add a tabletop ironing board and you have got yourself a 3 in one station.
2) Wall space is a great tool for many purposes. You can hang inspiration on it- on the back of my closet doors I hang pretty pictures from many of my favorite craft blogs. It gets my creative juices flowing. I also use my wall space for a chalk board. I can jot down ideas, draw designs, make lists and record measurements. Plus the mini chalkboard I have for my daughter, Devon, is a great place for her to hang out while I get some 'me' time. (Great bonus: Chalk easily wipes off most surfaces, even dogs). Wall shelves are great for limited floor space or in my case to keep yummy yarn cakes out of little, destroying baby hands. Plus you can organize books, display projects and more inspiration.
3) Storage: No crafter can craft without storage. You find a great sale, you stock up on tools and notions. You see a limited amount of yardage in a to-die-for print. You just got paid and had too many glasses of wine at the SnB meeting and went overboard on yarn. But you must be organized. There is no point storing supplies and tools if you can't find them when you need them or forget about them. Storage can be so pretty, embrace it. I use red, transparent bins in my bookcase for fabric scraps, patterns, and yarn storage. In my closet, I keep fabric rolls, smaller yardages in a sweater holder, tools and hard cases on a shelving unit and unfinished projects hanging up. Interfacing, muslin and canvas yardages go up above because they are used the least. Pillow stuffing is banished to the attic because it takes up so much darn room.
4) Lighting. Please do yourself a favor and choose great lighting for your sewing room. I am lucky to have big western-facing windows but in the evening I use my track lighting system that I bought for less than $100 at a home improvement store. It is good looking and task oriented. I also have an Ott light on my sewing table for great task lighting. Great lighting will help you see what you are doing and love your finished projects even more.
These are the main areas to focus on when setting up or redecorating your sewing area. The rest, paint, wall art, decorations and knick-knacks, is up to you. Don't ask a lot of opinions because, I fear, you will end up with a sewing rooms that everyone else likes but you. This is your creative rooms, be bold, and go with your gut. How can you go wrong, just look at your awesome projects. Your sewing room will be a reflection of those projects times 100!
P.s. Just so you know I was so nervous filming this video. I want to reiterate that I smile a ridiculous amount more than as portrayed in this film. If you ain't buying it, I would love to have you over for sweet tea and witticism so I can at least impress you with my hosting abilities. I am not bad.
My wall color is from Valspar and is based on the color found at Mt Vernon in Mr. Washington's step-daughter's room.
Nancy dress found here
Yarn Swift found here
Chalkboard paint walkthrough here
Heather Bailey Pincushion Pattern here
If you knit, sooner or later you do so outside of your home. I call it knitting on the go (KoG for short). I would venture a guess that I knit outside my home about 50-60% of the time. I knit in the car, waiting for meetings, DMV, Doctor's office...you get the picture. KoG is awesome. I repeat: KoG is AWESOME.
But, preparation is everything in the KoG game. You will need a bag, dare I say it, a knitting bag. Wait! Before you stop reading right now and imagine old ladies with needlepoint floral carpet bags that more than hint at moth balls, you need to realize that is a myth created and exploited by Hollywood fat cats. It holds no basis in truth. Ok, that is a lie-- but you can choose your own knitting bag. One will not be assigned to you. There are some really cool ones out there. The "Cool Stuff" feature at Knitty.com is always a great place to check--they are featuring a super bag in this edition called the Swift. Jondana Paige is force to be reckoned with among knitting bags. Don't forget you can sew up the perfect bag from one of the many patterns at Fabric.com. Choose the fabric, trim, pocket placement and handle length. I have made all of my knitting bags. My current favorite is the Betty Shopper because I am making several sweaters.
Next, taming the yarn. Depending on your style there are different options. You can toss your skeins in individual zip-top plastic bags, allowing a tail to slip out. This will keep your yarn tangle free and prevent the gummy bears stuck to the floor mats from depositing sugary goo on your merino. If you "don't do" plastic then there are some other options. This one here is a really cool drawstring yarn ball bag made by Funtific. If you prefer to make your own, let me suggest the Amy Butler Stash & Dash bags in any size. With their zip top you can leave a hole open for your yarn but there is plenty of space inside for your ball to roll around unhindered. Plus they are pretty cute too.
Third, you will need some travel tools. If you would be so kind as to refer back to my previous post on notions and the included pouch pattern, that would sum up this section. However, those with a tendancy to misplace items like to have multiple sets of tools, this kit is perfect for KoG (look how shiny!)
Last, take your pattern. I would recommend either printing an extra copy or photocopying if needed. This chart keeper is great for keeping your place in a chart or for holding any knitting pattern while on the go.
I hope all of these tools and tips help. Your first trip out with your knitting may not go as planned but you will soon learn what works for you. Good luck and feel free to leave a comment adding your recommended tools and suggestions for KoG!