Knitting: November 2010 Archives
I am pleased to introduce my & Fabric.com's November Free Knitting Pattern Download: Belle Handwarmers. The Belle is named for the yarn that created these toasty handwarmers, Amy Butler's Belle Organic Aran (50% Organic Wool 50% Organic Cotton), but the real inspiration was the Fabric.com logo. Colorful and textured, I knew that I needed some color work for this pattern. Pulled from the "R" and "O" both the multicolor and texture are mimicked in the tri color and floral texture.
The signature button also plays a big role in Belle, as a sleek closure and a style wrist detail. The longer wrist length coupled with the button closure ensures a warmer wearing and no sneaky breezes creeping up your arm. The featured stitches are surprisingly simple but designed to impress. These handwarmers are great gift that can be knit up over the weekend or several week nights. Give them to commuters with chilly steering wheels, those who work in frigid offices, loved ones who work outside, soccer moms with early morning game times or texting teens. Belle Handwarmers can be knit in 3 colors (as shown), 4 (with the wrist band, top band and thumb band in the 4th color) or just one (though you will need 3 balls total). Any worsted weight yarn will work but you will want to stay away from 100% cotton because it will not hold in the warmth and may stretch. Merino wool, alpaca and silk blends will be the warmest.
I once promised myself to only knit for myself... I kept that promise until my little one was born and now it seems as though my needles belong to her (even though I won't let her touch them- she puts items away never to be seen again). I can't stop looking for kid patterns or toy patterns. Anything that might get a squeal or a smile. Thus, one day whilst creating my November blog calendar I stumbled upon Bekah Knits Lollipop Skirt. My heart was hardly still and my needles started to sing. I had to make it- I HAD TO MAKE THIS SKIRT. It was cute and made of cotton- Deal- Done- Say no more. I quickly added it to my Google calendar.
My little girl looks adorable in this skirt and the length really works for both of us. The Lion Brand Cotton-Ease yarn was great to work with. The color selection is very extensive making it easy to pick your favorite colors for this skirt. The over 200 yds on each ball means you can get 2 skirts (depending on the sizes) out of 3 balls in different colors. I will make another skirt once she grows out of this one. It is so fun to watch her play in something I knit.
A dropped stitch can seem like the end of the world but with some practice and patience you can pick them up like a pro and not bat an eyelash. Dropped stitches used to be a heart attack for me. But once day I decided I had had enough. Too much stress for such a small thing. I knit up a stockinette swatch (4 in. by 4 in) square and set to work practicing. The Stockingette provided me with practice for both knit and purl stitches. Since all knitting is made up of these 2 stitches practicing them will be your bread and butter. I also recommend some time with knit 2 together and purl 2 together. Below you will find some helpful step by step pictures of what a dropped stitch looks like (My dad always says: "The first step to problem solving is recognizing the problem".), the approach and the finished product. The loop is the stitch from the row below and the ladder is the strand of yarn above the loop. Thread the ladder through the loop to fix your dropped stitch.
You want to approach a knit stitch from the knit side or front (side facing you) and pick up the loop and then pick up your ladder. Pull your ladder through the loop toward you. Place repaired stitch back on left needle and knit.
You want to approach a purl stitch from the purl side or the back side (side facing away from you) and pick up the ladder first then the loop. Pull the ladder through the loop away from you. Place repaired stitch back on left needle and purl.
Knit 2 together:
You will approach this the same as a knit stitch but there will be 2 loops and 1 ladder. With the knit side facing you, put your crochet hook into the left loop first then the right loop then pick up the ladder. Pull the ladder through both loops toward you and place on left needle. Knit the stitch.
Purl 2 together:
You will approach this the same as a purl stitch but there will be 2 loops and 1 ladder. With the purl side facing away from you, put your crochet hook through the ladder first, next the right loop first then the left loop. Pull the ladder through both loops and put the stitch on your left needle and purl
Practice all of the above until you feel comfortable. Picking up stitches will become easy and a no brainer with time.
No one ever imagines accidents will ever befall their knitted goods, but accidents do happen. When they do it is important to know how to repair your knitting. There is no one sure way to fix every possible accident that could 'ruin' a knitted project but there are certain steps and techniques to know that can save your hard work and restore knitting. For an example we shall use a pair of Knucks that I knit for my photographer brother a few years ago as a Christmas present. Unfortunately, his dog loved them too- a little too much and chewed off the pinky. I have been circling it for a few weeks trying to decide how to approach the damage and repair it without reknitting. I just decided to jump in but work slow and see where it went. I still had some wool left over so I was feeling good!
I started by pulling on the loose ends and pulling out any stray threads. Basically clearing the rubble. I wanted to get to a continuous row of loops to put back on a needle and perhaps just knit up the pinky again. However, the nature of the pattern didn't allow knitting just the pinky. Knucks are knit from the top down with the fingers knit individually then knit together then the body of the Knuck is knit down from the fingers. The damage did not go past where the fingers joined the body so I had to pull off all the fingers. One of the threads chewed was the row that joined the fingers together.
Once the fingers were removed, I put the body on a circular needle and set aside. I reknit all the fingers following the pattern to one row after the fingers were knit together. Next I stitched the fingers to the body with a Kitchener stitch. The Kitchener stitch allows for a seamless, invisible join of both pieces of knitting and can be used on live stitches or bound off ends. This was the easiest part and the most satisfying. Once done the knuck looked as good as new (minus weaving in the ends).
Here is a quick review of the steps:
1) Clear the rubble (pull loose threads and damaged rows). Don't worry about pulling out rows, you want to get to a full row and clean off all the damage. If you pull out too much or all- you are no worse off than if you hadn't tried at all, so no worries.
2) Put your clean live stitches on a needle and asses the loss. What parts are missing?
3) Read the pattern, especially the part that was damaged and missing. Read how to reknit that area and how it is joined. Try to follow the directions as closely as possible to recreate the missing parts
4) Join your reknitted part to the existing knit with a join that either closely resembles the original or is invisible, like the Kitchener stitch.
These steps can be used on sleeves, socks, gloves, toys, most knitted goods. Just pour yourself a cup of coffee, take a deep breath and jump in. If you find yourself over your head, don't worry. You can reknit from scratch. At least you tried and perhaps learned something new.
Psst: I plan on doing a complete re-do of the embroidery on the Knucks using some of the techniques learn in Sublime Stitching.
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!