Knitting: August 2010 Archives
Pearl gleams and shimmers. Pearl is elegant and sophisticated. Pearl is a knitted clutch with a textured body and lacey, scalloped flap. Pearl is lined with a sea blue Dupioni silk. Pearl is our latest free knitting pattern download.
I dreamed of pearl when I first saw Berocco's Lustra. For many months I wanted to get my hands on it and see what could be made with it to bring out the sheen and incorporate the slight fuzziness. The textured stitch came from a stitch guide but I had to reverse it for knitting in the round. The lace stitch is simple but delicate enough to add to the elegance of the clutch without detracting from the texture.
Pearl is knit with a worsted weight Tencel and Wool blend on size 8, 24 in. cable needles. You can sub in any silken or woolen yarn but I would not recommend anything too fuzzy or stark (like pure cotton). The slight fuzziness blends the gaps in between stitches in the texture. The pattern for the lining is also included. You can use any silky fabric or spice it up with patterned quilting cotton.
Pearl is perfect for any occasion where a clutch is needed. It's soft to the hand. A small luxury when you are stuck in heels for the night.
Felted Flower Bowls: what a fun, quick felted knit. I love projects like this: quick and gorgeous. Not only is this an afternoon, naptime project but it also make a great gift. Give a cluster of 3-4 to a friend for catch-alls or jewelry in different colors. They make darling teacher presents (keeping erasers, paper clips, thumb tacks, etc) or for a little lady to keep all her treasures.
But... in order to make the bowl you must first come to peace with felting. It was hard for me (my first felt was a cell phone pouch) to knit an object only to 'ruin' it, in a way, by washing it against its washing instructions. It was also hard to fathom that it would be so different after than before. But felting is so fun, shrink-dinks fun! To an extent textures can play well but in general you want to stick with garter or stockinette stitch. There are no ends to weave in and colorwork takes on a whole new meaning. While felting is easier in a top loader washing machine, it can be done in a front loader. I felted the flower bowl in a front loading machine. I choose the shortest wash cycle and checked on it after each cycle to see when it had felted enough.
Felting makes a fabric so knitting the item in its finished shape is not a necessary step. You can knit pieces or just on big piece and sew it together once dried (try Knitty's pumpkin). Felted knitting gets thicker as well as denser in the process. Felted items that work well are bags, appliqués, hats, slippers, and decorative items (agina with the felt pumpkins- I love 'em). Felt is great for shaping, cutting and is much more manipulative than non-felted knitting. Felting is only possible with coat fibers like wool, alpaca and llama. You must also be very careful of blends. I used Berocco's Lustra, a wool & tencel blend, and I will admit I had some concerns on whether or not it would felt. With a 50/50 blend my fears were pretty small but there was still a small sigh of relief when I pulled it out and saw how fine the bowl looked. I have a special place in my knitting heart for felting and I certainly cannot wait pass it on!
Here is a great article from Knitty.com on felting, ins and outs and how-tos.
Here is my project page on Ravelry.
If you haven't read Mason Dixon Knitting, you are seriously missing out. Many a knitter's obsessions have sprung from this book. I, myself, bought it after flipping through it for 2 min in a book store. I saw the pictures (didn't read a word), closed the book and took it to the check-out. I have since read it over and over and over. It is my knitting Pride and Prejudice. One project I have dreamed of but not yet attempted was log cabin. It is gorgeous and so simple. The way it is explained lends it easily to scrap yarn, mystery yarn and random yarn. You can knit till you run out and counting stitches is not really required. It is perfect TV knitting; you can knit it in squares for take-along knitting and it is great for beginners because it is just garter stitch. For those easily bored, just change colors when you tire of one. It is perfect for everyone! I began mine a couple of weeks ago from scraps of wool and wool skeins with missing ball bands. I would love to give you more info on the colors, etc but I cannot. I do know it is all wool. This blanket (oh, yes, it will be a blanket one day) will features pinks, browns, turquoise and maybe some cream; it will be for my sweet, little girl. I am picturing it as a nap blanket, for family movie nights and story time before bed. It will be lined on the back side with quilting cotton, muslin or Kona cotton once finished. I will probably hand stitch the lining on but I think it will be relaxing. The lining may make it possible for me to avoid weaving in all the loose ends (GOODY).
My log cabin began with my scraps of yarn and grew from there. Once I gathered all my wool (it really is my favorite fiber to work with) and saw the color scheme my random bits leaned towards, I knew at once who the blanket would be for and I left out the colors I didn't need. I choose the center color from the smallest scrap of yarn and knit till it ran out. I bound off the edge but left the last loop on my needle, then turned the piece to the right and picked up a stitch for every garter ridge. I knit back and forth till I felt it was big enough and then bound off on the right side leaving one loop on my needle and turned the piece to the right. I will continue till I feel the blanket is big enough. I may add a border or not. I have yet to decide. But the greatest thing is you do not need to cast on 500 stitches and knit endlessly back and forth. You cast on a few, knit for a while then build from there. You can make squares and sew them together later. You can change directions, add increases and decreases. You are golden as long as the basic method is kept true: knit, bind off on the right side, leave on loop on your needle, pick up more stitches and knit.
This is a project to challenge the mind or a relaxing way to knit up all your random bits. It all depends on your approach.
More great fibers to knit a log cabin blanket with are:
I do not often get the opportunity to work with novelty yarns or any yarns outside the ordinary but I do enjoy the walk on the wild side, as in this case. I would certainly describe S. Charles Sahara Yarn as outside the ordinary but a delight none-the-ess. Sahara looks like a ribbon yarn but when knit up doesn't behave as expected. The texture of the knitted swatch was not flat and light as I would have expected. It was dense, soft, and with a subtle texture when knitted with the needles recommended (size 8, see picture right).I expected a much lighter drape but was pleasantly surprised at how significant the yarn knitted and how well it would hold up to wear for sweaters, blankets or capes. This is no whimsical yarn.
Sahara was a not the smoothest of yarn sliding over your fingers but the knitted piece was more supple than I anticipated and deserves the term 'soft'. Like all linen it will get softer and less stiff with washing and wear. The ribbon folds nicely when knit up and gives an almost slubby texture similar to the textured cottons on the market but on a smaller scale. The stitch definition is very nice, good for cables and some slip stitch but I would not try anything too intricate, like herringbone, for fear that the yarn's texture would compete with the stitch texture. This yarn would work very well for knitted bags, cardigans, and blankets when knitted according to the ball band. When knitted on bigger needles- I used 17's- the texture and display of the yarn was very different (see picture below). The yarn was not much different from that wound in the ball and worked very well with such a large needle. Knitted in a lace stitch on big needles this yarn will make a nice, airy, lacey shawl perfect for summer picnics and early fall. Sahara it works very well for an high interest lace when knit with anything larger than size 11 needles. This makes a great fall yarn due to of the colors offered, the nice texture (makes me think of boucle) and the fibers (linen, bamboo and rayon) make it a perfect transitional yarn.
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.
I love me some free stuff, especially knitting patterns. Though a free knitting pattern gets my blood pumping for two reasons:
1) I fall in love with a new designer and end up buying all their other patterns
2) I feel an undeniable desire to buy yarn immediately in order to complete said knitting pattern.
A free pattern can make my weekend, give joy to a long road trip and allow some quiet time. Some days it seems as though there is nothing more prefect than a free pattern and if the person who shared it were right in front of me, I would be forced to give them a big hug, a cup a coffee, some brownies and a nice chat about how awesome they are. Alas, that has never happened so I just give a quiet cheer and the requisite fist pump from behind my screen.
But, Say, don't you want to know where to find such delights as I described above? Of course you do. Let me share some of my favorite plunders for free knitting pattern gold.
http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/- A little tricky since you have to follow the link to see a picture and sometime there aren't any pictures but this is common among free pattern databases. This one is the most extensive I have found not attached to a brand. You only have a project name to go by but you can search by project type (i.e. afghan, sweater, scarf, etc)
http://www.lionbrand.com/content-knittingPatternIndex.html- This site is the most extensive associated with a brand. Lion Brand makes some NICE yarn and all of these patterns feature their yarn but you can make substitutions for a similar yarn should the mood strike. You can save your pattern notes for future use and most patterns have reviews for you to check out. Lion Brand also features a wide variety of Crochet patterns.
Knitty- You knew I would sneak this in here but half of Knitty is the patterns. Free patterns submitted by fellow knitters and reviewed and selected by other knitters for publication. Each pattern features many pictures of the finished product plus a schematic with measurements. All the pictures are artful and fun giving you a great idea of the true nature of the project.
Ravelry- Another you were sure I would sneak in. This is my fave feature of Ravelry: I click on the pattern tab then on the 'pattern browser & advanced search' link. Then under 'availability' (the third box on the left) I click 'free' and voila- all the free patterns I could dream of, complete with pictures. I love it. I can read the project notes, search by garment, anything and it is all FREE!
Interweave Knits- Now the Knitting Daily does not have the catalog of free patterns as the above but they are awesome patterns. Magazine quality, some challenging, professionally photographed patterns. You will find yarns used you have never heard of or designers you never meet before. It is all very exciting like a fancy restaurant that dares you to try something outside your comfort zone. You will learn something new and you will never be the same.
Of course you cannot forget Fabric.com's growing collection of free knitting patterns that I add to each month. I am gearing up for Christmas with some smaller, faster knits that will make excellent presents for the big holiday.
P.s. the featured picture is a free scarf pattern called the Sally Stripe