Tutorials: May 2012 Archives
If you are like the majority of knitters, you cast on tight. Some just cast on a little tight, but most cast on really tight. This can be a real pain when it comes to sweater necks, top-down socks and even starting a nice scarf (you can clearly see where your knitting looses after the cast on edge). You can try teaching yourself to cast on loosely which can be an exercise in patience or you can just try one of my 2 easy, loose cast-on methods. You will love them both.
1) Bigger needle: depending on how tight you cast-on you can use a bigger needle for just the cast-on and then on row 1 switch to your pattern recommended needle size. I suggest going up 2-3 needle sizes (i.e. from an US 8 to a US 10). I prefer 2 sizes because my cast on is only medium tight. If yours is super tight, go up three. Try each with a gauge swatch to see which needle size works best for you. Remember the loose cast on may look pretty loose but this will be less visible after blocking and wearing.
2) Double your needle: If I don't have my needle pouch with me or if I am traveling I will cast on holding both my needles together. This doubles the size of the needle and gives a very nice, loose cast on. It is a little tricky holding and casting on with 2 needles but you will quickly get the hang of it. This one is especially handy because once you have cast on just slide one needle out and you are all set for row one.
A well-done loose cast on is not only better for garments and wearing but also for that trouble-some first row. If you cast on tight you probably dread working that first row because it is so tight and hard to get your needle in there to work each stitch. With your new loose cast on, working the first row will be as easy as working any other other row. On top of that, your knitting will no longer blossom out once you get past the first row. Your project will be the same size from cast on to the last row (unless you change the size). No longer will you need to knit a few rows to get a real feel of the width of your project. You can see evidence of this in the first picture. From the cast on row to about row 2-3 the sample flares out until it reaches its working width (see red marks). This may not seem like a big deal but if you are creating a beautiful color work scarf you will want it to be perfect from start to finish and don't want the color skewed by this flare.
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I love a tie top pocket! They are the perfect detail to add to a cotton dress, a sassy pair of shorts or to finish off the front of your tote bag. These pockets feature a cute knot at the top that really takes any project to the next level. Tie top pockets are really easy to make as well. By downloading my pattern piece you can make your own to any size you need by increasing the size on your copy maker until you get it bigger enough or small enough to meet your needs. Or you can draft your own using a circular object: plate, lid or bowl.
To start print and size you pattern. You can download mine by clicking on the pattern above and printing or downloading. To create your own, trace a round object that is about ½ in. bigger than you envision your pocket to be (this takes seam allowance into consideration). Trace it and then add elongated bunny ear to the top of your circle. Line up your ears with the outer most part of the circle and the ears should be as long as the circle is tall and as wide as 1/3 the width of the circle (i.e. if the circle is 5 in. diameter than the ear should be 5 in. tall and 1 ¾ in. wide). These ears are your ties. Cut out your pieces from fabric and pin RS together. Stitch your pieces together leaving a gap at the bottom big enough for turning. Trim seam allowances, the tops of your ears and sharp curves. Turn your pocket right side out and press. Press the turning gap closed and topstitch your pocket into place onto the finished project. Tie your ties and you are good to go.
Call me crazy but of all the detail work in knitting (most of which I detest) I love picking up stitches. It is a reason that I cannot narrow down but I like it, I enjoy it and I am pretty darn good at it. Picking up stitches is an acquired skill but it is based on the foundation of knitting; it is not like not like learning to knit itself. Learning to pick up stitches is similar to learning to drive in the rain. It is a lot to take in at first but since you already know how to drive you are just pushing your boundaries a little. Learning the nuances of picking up stitches will help you apply this skill to any gauge or any yarn fiber so you can pick up and knit with confidence. Picking up stitches is great for button bands, hem details, or simply adding details you didn't realize you needed originally. I used this instance when I knit my daughter's first hat. It was an undemanding ribbed brim hat that I thought would stay in place well on her (then) 9 mo. old head. And it did until she was 12 mo. old and decided hats weren't for her anymore. With the temperature outside falling, I picked up some stitches on the brim of the hat and added ear flaps with ties to keep the hat on her head. It worked great. You can add length to your socks after binding off, length to sleeves or a scarf or even add a ruffle trim to your favorite cardigan.
First with the WS of your project facing you, begin picking up your stitches by sliding one needle under 2 loops (if you only pick up 1 loop it will pull away from the knitting by accessing the slack from neighboring loops, by picking up 2 loops you anchor your picked up stitches so it won't put too much pressure on one stitch). When picking up stitches from a bound off edge I like to use the 'V' shape the bind off makes and slide my needle under both lines of the 'V'.
Slide your second needle into the same space as your first and make a loop with your yarn and slide it over your right needle and pull it through using your left needle to help the 'V' in place. Slide your left needle under the next 'V' moving to the left. Insert your right needle and wrap your yarn and pull through.
Above is a look from the WS. You can see the white purl bump against the yellow.
Above is a look from the RS. You can see the loops continue from the row above. From the RS, you can't see that the white row was picked up, it looks like a continuation.
Continue until you have enough stitches then turn your work and continue knitting. It is important that your pick up your stitches from the correct direction. Always pick up with the WS facing up (or facing you) because you will be picking up and knitting the first row with means the purl bump will be in the back. If the RS is facing you, then the purl bump with be on the RS and the picked up stitches will be obvious.
I was window shopping over at my favorite store, Anthropologie, a few weeks ago and found this top and knew it was destined to be mine- But not for $58! A quick look at the close-ups confirmed that is was a very stylized version of a pillowcase top with a banded hem. Done, case closed, let's get to work. I, being 5 mo. pregnant, decided to craft my version from knit to make it last the summer. I tell you I feel really pretty and myself in this top (which is hard to accomplish, considering I just popped).Here's how to make your own. You can easily make this top from a woven or a knit.
1 yd of Knit fabric (you can use interlock or jersey just make sure it has at least 20% stretch across the grain)
Walking foot on your standard machine.
Measure and cut your fabric pieces according to my handy cheat sheet that you can download below (click on the picture to save and print or click here to if it is not visible).
Here's an example of the main panel measurement: widest measurement is 38 in. / 2= 19 in. + 1 in. (seam allowance)= 20 in. cutting width
Length from shoulder to hip bone is 22 in. + 4 in. = 26 in. cutting length
From the remaining fabric cut a 2 in. wide strip by at least 60 in. in length for the drawstring tie at the top.
All stitches are assumed zig zag stitches unless otherwise noted
Mark your main panels 6-8 in. from the top on each side; above the mark is your arm hole and below is your side seam. Stitch your sides together (RS facing) starting at these marks. Fold down seam allowance in your arm hole and topstitch in place.
To make the front keyhole, cut an 8 in. by 2 in wide piece of knit for the facing and pin it the front main panel of your top as shown on the cheat sheet, matching centers (RS facing). Using a narrow stitch, stitch close to your center line on one side, stopping ½ from the bottom of the facing, stitch across your center and stitch back up the other side of your center using the same spacing (try to stitch between 1/8 and ¼ in. from the center). Clip down your center line and turn your facing to the inside of your front main panel. Turn under the raw edges of the facing, pin in place and topstitch around the edges of your facing to secure in place using a straight stitch.
Make top ruffle and casing: on the front and back, fold the top of your top down 1/2 in. and pin or baste, fold down another 1.5 in and pin in place, topstitch along fold using straight stitch. Stitch another line 3/4 in. above the topstitching using a straight stitch.
Stitch your hem bands together at the sides and fold in half, matching raw edges, WS facing, and pin to the bottom edge of your top, stretching the hem band as needed to fit. Stitch around hem band.
To make the draw string, fold draw string in half lengthwise, RS facing and stitch down the length. Turn draw string right side out and feed through casing using a safety pin or bodkin starting at one side of the keyhole on the front of your top and finishing on the other side. Knit your drawstring at both ends.
Congrats you are DONE! Enjoy your Keyhole Pillowcase top in wovens as well as knits, just cut your hem band on the bias for a little stretch around your hips. I love this top in solids as well as medium or small scale prints. Polka Dots are a must for this style!
P.S. because this is knit it makes a great maternity top!
If you are familiar with Grommet Pliers then, please, put all your pessimistic plier preconceptions aside; Snap Pliers are nothing like Grommet Pliers. Compared to Grommet Pliers, Snap Pliers are a walk in the park on a breezy spring day while drinking an iced coffee, holding hands with your sweetheart. I was loath to try these but I have some cloth diapers that needed to be converted from Velcro to snaps and have some cloth diapers to make in the days ahead and knew this was a task I could no longer put off.
I should have purchased a set of Snap Pliers years ago. They are so easy and snaps are handy for so many projects. Before I start listing their uses like Bubba listing shrimp recipes (see Forrest Gump for movie reference) I will share how to use the Babyville Boutique Snap Plier Set ($19.98) which includes the Snap Pliers already pre-loaded with a size 20 die trays (this is where you place your snaps pieces and press them together to seal) which is the size of the snaps Fabric.com carries! Plus a screw driver to change the die plates, an awl to punch a hole for your snaps and a shank that fits the larger die tray. Complete instructions are also included.
After my placement is marked I use my awl to punch a hole for my first snap. Since I am punching through PUL, which is a knit, I need to punch and twist to make a larger hole than I really need because the hole will slowly close up once I remove the awl and I need to get the shank of my snap through the hole before it closes so I make it a little bigger than I need to allow time for my fumbling fingers.
Once your shank is in place, place one of your snap cups on the shank. It doesn't matter which just make sure you only use one kind in each location. I will use the other kind on the diaper tabs. Once my snap cup is in place, I hold the two pieces together with my fingers while I maneuver the pieces into the Snap Pliers placing the shank end in the bottom die cup and the top snap cup under the top die cup.
Once the snaps pieces are in place, I squeeze the plier handles together with as much pressure as I can muster and then release and squeeze again for good measure. That's it. You do the same procedure for the other side of your snap but you really don't need to be super strong to squeeze the pliers with enough force and it is all really easy. I love how professional they look (I don't always get the best looking grommets) and can't wait to convert all my diapers to snaps and make some new ones as well!!
Check out our great selection of snaps in different, cute colors!
To start with, pull your shirt -- inside out -- over your sewing machine. A unisex size Medium is just about perfect.
To make marking easier, you might want to pin the shoulders of your shirt so the neck opening sits higher than the top of the machine.
Next, mark the curve of your machine where you'll cut and sew the top of the cover. I used a sharpie so it's easy to see in photos.
Pull your shirt off your machine, and clip along your marked line. I usually taper my curve so it ends down at the bottom of the armscye.
Here's the trimmed top of the former shirt/almost cover.
To true up the top and make it symmetrical, fold your fabric in half and clip your curve so both sides are ever.
Next, just stitch that top clipped edge closed.I usually use my serger.
Pull your stitched cover over the machine, and mark the handle width. You'll clip an opening from one marking to the other to let the handle through. I know what you're thinking. "Why don't you just leave an opening in the seam?" You can totally do it that way if you prefer, but I find that in the course of being carried around, the seams tend to start to split open. This way, the seam stays intact.
You also need to mark the point where the cover hits the table or other sewing surface once it's pulled down.
Use that lower edge mark as a guide, and fold up the remaining piece of shirt. The mark will be inside the crease of the fold.
I make a reverse cuff by folding the hem back down. This will reinforce the top edge of what's about to become a series of pockets.
Stitch channels into the folded lower edge to create pockets. You can customize the width of your pocket channels to match the items you most often take with you when you sew on the go. I like to make one wide enough to hold the foot and power cord, and the rest varying sizes to hold spare needles, thread, snips, trims and whatever else I need.
Here we are, loaded up and ready to go! Who wants to host a sewing get together?