May 2010 Archives

Review Monday: Albert the Absent-minded Monster

May 31, 2010

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I love knitting hats. Hats for everyone was my motto. I love 'em. They are so easy and quick and just plain fun. Well, now I love knitted toys! Monsters to be specific. More to the point this monster: Albert the Absent-Minded Monster. He is adorable and pleasurable to knit. Albert is one happening guy.

I was not so sure to begin with. I have typically been against knitted toys in the past. Knitting is time consuming and most of all a relaxation process. How my definition of knitting and toys could be melding in a way that I could come to grips with was not something I wanted to think of. Toys are loved, sure, but they are also abused, forgotten, and partners in messy crimes. To spend hours lovingly knitting something that will endure those experiences was beyond me. Until, I had a child. Gone was the nay-saying. I took one look at Albert and knew she would love him. That fact that I could make him for her was the sweet, chocolate covered cherry on top of the hot fudge and peanut butter Sunday with my choice of ice cream (Thank you Brusters!)

Now for the Knitty-gritty: Albert was a great knit. Not the fastest project I have completed but certainly enjoyable. He took about 5+ hours to complete. I followed the pattern explicitly, except for when I didn't, which I will explain as we go along. First, I used Magic Loop throughout since I have developed an allergy to DPNs since I discovered Magic Loop. I, maybe, have shortened the body by a few rows. I got anxious to move on after row 40-something (probably 45, 46). After that the pattern changed from row to row so it was hard to get bored. I enjoyed seeing the different parts take shape. I had also forgotten how much I enjoyed 3 needle bind off and how pretty it was.

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Assembly was straight forward but I think I over stuffed the arms. I will try less next time and perhaps a different attachment for a better shoulder. I will also over-exaggerate the belly button next time-bigger is better! Since my daughter is 16 mos, I went with knots for the eye, just in case. Also, I don't recommend super glue for his mouth- go with the fabric glue as recommended. I didn't have any so I went with the super glue. Turns out, not as super as one would expect. I ran out for the fabric glue.

Mostly, I just love how flexible his ears are. They make Albert very expressive.  Albert strikes me as just the right size to take to Grandma's or the movies. He can sneak in anywhere. Plans are in the works for a rainbow collection. I will probably go with double-stranding some to make them bigger. I want to experiment with different sizes as well as color. 

Check out more pictures on Ravelry

Yarn used Berroco Weekend in Nectarine

Don't forget to catch Fabric.com on Facebook and Twitter

P.s. Albert is getting comfy in his new home

Unusual Knitting Tools

May 28, 2010

Well- this topic even put me through the ringer. I mean, I know there are some weird knitting tools out there (I rely on a bobby pin so I should know) but I guess I just took all my tools for granted. Or given the whole bobby pin relationship, my perspective was off. So I attempted to think about knitting from the outside as a newbie or, dare I say it, someone who doesn't knit. Which tools would I totally not expect a knitter to use. Most of the tools I thought of are not really that weird but put into the context of knitting and you might just hear "You use that with knitting, WHAT"!

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First up, Glow in the Dark Knitting Needles...seriously. Now you really can knit anywhere. These are great for those boring movies that your sister makes you sit through, knitting while cuddling with your hubby even though he insists on watching TruckTV. You can also knit at that uber-romantic restaurant during a pretty boring blind date that you mother swears is "Mr Right" (He will probably get the hint from your knitting at the table, but if he doesn't you can use these babies as defense). The Knit Lite is made by Clover and come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. I plan on getting a pair for porch and movies on the green knitting this summer!


Next up are knitting needles that measure your knitting for you. The Knit Stix are plastic or wooden needles and rulers in one. These are great for those times you forgot your notions pouch or, like me, your child has run off with it again. The Knit Stix are laser imprinted so no need to worry about rubbing off the numbers.


Graph paper is a office staple but this is no ordinary graph paper. Knitting graph paper is crafted to reflect the knit stitch which is wider than it is tall. There are several sites to help you print your own, which is very handy if you are designing knitted projects. Regular graph paper will skew the finished look due to its square nature (in this case it is not hip to be...). Knitting graph paper is used for lace designs, cable pattern, intarsia and any other design aspect that is best explained in chart form rather then written out. Print out a few extra pieces to keep in your knitting bag should inspiration hit away from your computer.

 

Last, and my favorite, is your washing machine. This is one of the greatest tools a knitter can have when the bug for felting hits. Washing machine felting can take any oversize wool project and turn it into an amazing piece of fabric art. A knitter can felt bags, toys, pillows, hats and bath mats to name just a very few. Top loading machines are the easiest to use for felting but any washing machine will get the job done if you familiarize yourself with its settings and keep an eye on your project. It is so much fun, especially for kids. 

Let me know what your favorite weird knitting tools are for next time

Tara Miller

Ask the Expert- Knitting Episode 1

May 26, 2010

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Hi all- Welcome back to "Ask the Expert" where I answer your questions weekly so you can get back to knitting. Side note: No questions are dumb questions. Seriously, if you want to ask it than it can't be dumb. You are probably not the only person to want the answer, just the first to ask it.

Down to business-

This first question comes via email:

I knit English but my mom knits continental; which is better? Should I consider switching?

It is not a question of better- to each her own when it comes to knitting style. It is also not determined by which hand is your dominate hand. I am a righty and knit English (though I can change it up continental style) my mother in law is also a righty but knits continental. It really depends on how you are taught or really just what you feel comfortable with when you first pick up the needles. I have taught beginners both styles and I just ask them to pick which ever they prefer. Some will say that continental is faster than English but the world's fastest knitter knits English style.

Question 2 also via email:

How do I measure my gauge swatch to make sure it is correct?

Knit at least 4 in. by 4 in. in the pattern gauge. Lay down your swatch and try to get the yarn to relax a little. This will vary by yarn but you can try stretching it, smoothing it, shaking it. You will know it when you try it. Sometimes nothing needs to be done. Then using a ruler count the number of stitches that covers 4 in. across and then the number of rows that makes up 4 in. Compare that to your gauge. If you are 1 stitch or row off, I would not recommend adjusting your needle size but anymore than that, I would.

Question 3 from Facebook:

Anna asks: How do you connect different colors into one row?

You can either knit the tail in with the working yarn for about 2 or 3 stitches; this is a very neat option and weaves in the end at the same time. Or you can knot the new color into you knitting but this is not the neatest option. It makes for a messy wrong side and can be uncomfortable if it is a garment. If you are knitting Intarsia make sure you hook your new color around your old color, once, to prevent any holes.

Question 4 is also from Facebook:

Darcie asks: "End on WS" means end after the wrong side or ready to knit the wrong side?

This means you end after knitting a wrong side row, ready to begin on a right side row. It can also go by "End with WS"

Question 5 comes from the Blog

Mayflower 23 asks: Among some of the things that still baffle me are selvedge edges. I am trying to remember to slip that first stitch every time I knit flat but it hasn't become second nature to me just yet. My question is how do I slip the first stitch if I'm knitting garter stitch? Does it change for stockinette? Does my working yarn have to be on one side or the other or just where it should be for the type of stitch I'm about to knit? Perhaps a rundown on this topic would be as much help to others as it would be to me.

Let me start by saying that I do not slip the first stitch unless called for the in pattern. It is too hard to remember and seems unneeded to me. I sometimes like to cut corners, that's how I roll. But if you still really, really, really want to slip stitches, if you are knitting garter, slip is knit wise. Stitch you needle in the loop to knit and then slip it. It can change for stockinette, but doesn't have to. The edge will be the same as with garter but it may be easier to remember and you don't have to throw you yarn around if you slip it knit wise on the knit side and purl wise on the purl side.

Your working yarn should be on the side of the stitch you are using (front on the purl side and back on the knit side) or according to pattern. Some patterns (like lace, eyelets and a combo with ribs. See Barbara Walker's Knitting Treasuries for examples). This is a great topic you bring up and I am putting it on my calendar now for a more intensive rundown. Look for it in July but in the mean time I hope this helps and if not let me know and I can revisit next week.

 

Keep your questions coming! You can submit them via email, comments on the blog, Facebook and Twitter. I will make sure and do a round up on Facebook and Twitter on Mondays to remind you to ask your knitting questions. 

P.s. The picture features my beginning of the Lady Eleanor Stole from Interweave Knits Scarf Style

Tips & Tricks: Life Lines

May 25, 2010

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When one starts to knit there are certain rites of passage that are necessary to complete. It is not that they must be completed in order to be a great knitter, it is just that most knitters do complete them whether or not they mean to. A mistake in lace knitting is up toward the top and also the most frustrating.

When a knitter is ready to start knitting lace, they dream of flow-y shawls, delicate patterns and a true sense of accomplishment. However, once they cast-on they are met with counting errors, dropped stitches, and "what row was I on again" for the hundredth time. It happens to the best of us; a little help is needed. Life Lines are one of the few true to their name. When you are waist deep in your sister's wedding shawl or 3 weeks committed to a new sweater pattern that cost you $86.27 in yarn than you want a life line. A life line is a piece of yarn woven through your lace knitting that should you make a mistake, you can unravel back to your life line and put your stitches back on your needle and pick back up. You will not need to frog all the way back to the beginning or guess which row you are on. It is the net for a tight rope walker. And guess what... It is simple. Here are the steps

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Step 1) Obtain some waste yarn in a contrasting color to the yarn you are knitting with (so it will be easy to see. The same reason life vests are Bright Orange!) Make sure it is at least twice the length of your knitted project. You want slack so it won't pull out if you sit on it, your baby pulls on it or the cat thinks it is the most fun toy-EVER.

Step 2) Thread it through your tapestry needle.

Step 3) Thread it through the loops on your needle- just right through. I like to do this on row one of my lace repeat and then move it up when I get back to row 1. However, if you lace repeat is 12 or more rows you may want to do it more often. If that is the case, do it when you stitch count returns to the original stitch count (some increase and decrease as you go along) or the row after a YO. It is easier to pick up a knitted YO than a YO.

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Step 4) Continue knitting but do not knit the life line, push it out of the way if needed. It should go straight through your knitting. Move it up every once in a while and only move it when you are sure you won't need it. Sometimes it is safer to have 2 life lines, if you are a real worrier.

My discovery of life lines made it fun to knit lace where it was too stressful before. It really helps if I can't interpret a pattern and want to risk just guessing. I can also put my work down and pick it up at a later date and know where I am. It has opened up a new door for me and I hope you as well. 


The stitch pattern is Travelling Vine from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker, knitted with size 8 needles and a sport weight yarn.

Review Monday: Rowan Organic Cotton DK Naturally Dyed Yarn

May 24, 2010

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On May 10th I discussed Rowan Organic Kids Collection and knitted up a super cute pattern from that book. Today, I am reviewing the yarn used for that project, Rowan Organic Cotton DK Naturally Dyed in Oak Bark.

First there is one very important thing you should know about me. I love natural fibers. I am as a moth to a flame. I often relapse into daydreams where I am bounding through a field of wild flowers (I am, of course, wearing the cutest of sundresses) just my nature fiber skein, wooden needles and me! I recoil as if struck when I happen upon yarns similar to Red Heart. The fiber can make or break my day. That said you can see the general direction of this review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this yarn. It was very similar to other cotton yarns I have worked with in the past but I did notice some subtle differences that, in my humble opinion, justify the Rowan name. First, there was a delicate but distinct softness that went above the usual cotton softness. Like extra softness, if you can imagine. It did not leave my hands feeling as dry as cotton usually does. It glided just a little better making it much easier to use with my preferred wooden needles. Typically, I pair cotton with acrylic needles but I was glad not to have to do so this time. My acrylic circulars are not equipped for magic loop.

I did have the usual trouble of splitting that is common with cotton, so I was left with a few wayward loopies scattered throughout my finished project. A few min with a crochet hook fixed them.

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I was further impressed with the colors available. I am used to a bright array of the spectrum but the Rowan Organic collection is a rainbow of toned-down, natural hues that are outside the norm of cream, white and brown so as not to bore but are also great for any color palette. You can be sure that any color selection will fit nicely into your wardrobe.

The added bonus is the organic. This is a must for a growing number of knitters and gives peace of mind to an activity chosen for peace of mind. They go hand in hand.  I will definitely be using this yarn again and again. It is a yarn that once you finish one project, you start scanning your magazines and books for another.

-Tara Miller

P.s. Don't forget to submit your questions for this Wednesday first "Ask the Expert" posting!

 

Introducing "Ask the Expert"- the Knitter's Edition

May 22, 2010

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Fabric.com is new to knitting, so it follows that most of our customers must be as well. But even the more seasoned knitters have questions that need answers. Forums are great but sometimes your questions can go weeks without answer and finding the right forum can be tricky. Maybe you just need a yarn recommendation, or an explanation of a cast-on. Or maybe your question is trickier than that. Ask it.  Every Wed will feature "Ask the Expert" posts here at the blog.

You can submit your question as a comment on the blog. Every Wed. I will pick 5 questions and answer them. I will try to pick the questions that are the most helpful to most of the readers but, of course, I will also pay heed to those who just need specific help. I encourage all forms of flattery and general sucking up. In fact, I would as far as to say that it will greatly improve your chances of having your question answered. However, we all know how gracious and generous we knitters are so I am sure that even if you call me a "fat cow who dresses in plaids and stripes" (I assure you I do not) that if I find merit in your question, I will answer it while secretly hoping it takes you three tries to get gauge. You can vote on comments too.

I will break the ice by answering a few questions that some of my neighbors have thrown my way in the past few weeks.

Q: What are your favorites when it comes to knitting?

A: That is a broad question so I will toss out the first things that come to mind. I love wool. Love it. It is so soft and colorful. It has great stitch definition but is so springy so I consider it forgiving. It doesn't make my hands feel "weird" like cotton can.

I love hats. You can do anything with them. They knit up in hours. Everyone loves getting a hat. You can make the funkiest hat and it will not look weird if you wear it right. Here is one of my fave's, I make one a year (at least).

Wooden needles are my favorite. I am allergic to nickel and most metal needles are nickel plated. They make my joints ache and my fingers feel tired. I get worn out quickly knitting with metal. I like Acrylic too but sometimes they are too slick for me.

Q: What cast-on do you most recommend for a beginner (and I mean a BEGINNER!)

A: I like 2. The backward loop is the easiest to learn and get started but can be a bit tricky for a newbie to knit the first row due to the nature of the loop being so adjustable. The long-tail cast-on takes more practice to get but it is easy to knit the first row and makes a really nice, neat edge. So it depends on you. Do you want to just cast-on and go or do you really want to make it easier in the long run.

Q: I really want to feel the yarn- I can't get over that to buy online.

A: Unless you are new to fiber, you know what it feels like. Merino more or less feels the same.  The prices can't be beat. You are saving the drive and time plus you can shop in your own home. Do you really need to feel wool again to see that is AWESOME? The bottom line is: you have to trust the site you are purchasing from. If they say it is soft, it is. If they say that it is springy or fluffy or smooth, trust them. If you can't trust their opinion of yarn fibers, why in the heck are you giving them your credit card number!? Fabric.com's merchandisers are pros when it comes to fiber. Every yarn gets put into the store by a real person. They touch it, think about it and write about it. Plus if you need more, you can call their customer service. I am sure they would love a chance to get their hands on it too!


Best of knitting to you: Tara Miller

Lazy Weekend & Yoga- New, free knitting pattern

May 20, 2010

Free Knitting Pattern from Fabric.com and me, Tara Miller...            

Cozy 005 250.jpgDid you think that sewers would have all the fun. Fabric.com is proud to announce free knitting patterns to add to their collection of free downloadable sewing patterns featuring Hot Patterns!

Introducing Lazy Weekend French Press Cozy and Yoga Water Bottle Cozy Download here: cozy pattern.pdf

The debut pattern is designed by yours truly (Tara Miller) exclusively for Fabric.com customers. This first pattern is a double: Lazy Weekend French Press Cozy and Yoga Water bottle Cozy. Both are made from Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Lime and feature the same great (but secretly easy) eyelet pattern. Crafted to help keep your favorite beverages--be it Coffee and H2O--at just the right, cozy temperature. This pattern is fast enough to knit up both in a weekend. The featured eyelet is so simple, this pattern is rated "beginner" but your friends and neighbors will never know and peg you: EXPERT knitter. You can glam up your French press for that brunch with the in-laws (She won't remember criticize your pancakes once she sees this hot number). Find your water bottle's inner chi while the cotton yarn ensures no slippage from glistening hands fresh from a workout (every southern girl knows we don't sweat; we glisten). Most of all, your cozy will be one of a kind and hot to trot (or cool as a cucumber,  your choice). 

Check out more pictures on our Facebook page and Ravelry


Psst... Be sure and upload your pictures of your finished cozy on our facebook page. I will be looking to feature customer projects in upcoming blog posts! 

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Tips & Tricks: Swatching

May 14, 2010

Where to begin to explain how important and helpful swatching is? Where to begin? Hmmm..

Ok, when I was in 5th grade my class was given a special test. We were not told beforehand if it would affect our grade or really why we were given the test. We were just given the standard pre-test pep talk "read the instructions and begin". And we did. Heads down, we were hard at work. There were about 30 questions and they were all surprisingly simple: How many equal sides does a square have, Red and Blue make what color, etc. There were some that required a little thought but for the most part, easy. I was at questions #18 before I really looked up and took stock. Some of my classmates were just sitting there, done and waiting. I was shocked. I was totally rocking this test and I wasn't even close to done. Surely, something was amiss. And there was me like most of my class, who had not listened and not read the instructions on the top of the test: Put your name at the top and wait for further instructions from the teacher. I had just skipped the instructions and failed the test.

Luckily this test was to remind us to read instructions because obviously the teacher was on to us and we needed the lesson. Swatching is like reading the instructions. If you don't do it you will miss something and with projects such as sweaters, shawls, and other heavily involved patterns that can mean unflattering fits, sizing issues and realizing you don't understand the stitch pattern until it is too late. When you have hours and many balls of yarn involved you will really wish you had taken that extra 30-60 min (at most) to knit a swatch.

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For example, I recently cast-on to swatch for a sweater I am interested in. The swatch gauge states that with a size 8 needle 18 stitches and 20 rows should be 4 in. by 4 in. So I cast on 18 stitches and planned to knit 20 rows so see where I am. - I must inform you that for 96.25% of my projects I do not need to adjust my needle size--20 rows later I measured and found that I was way off, 1 in. off. I was shocked and relieved. Had I not knit my swatch and just started my sweater, I would have ended up with a sweater a toddler or other wee person would wear much more than me. I also discovered that the stitch pattern is poorly written and I needed to examine the picture as well as re-read the pattern before I got it and was able to knit my swatch. I cast-on for the swatch twice before I could get past row 1. I was frustrated but not as frustrated as I would have been had I needed to cast-on twice for 100 stitches instead of 18. You probably would have heard me through your computer and, of course, wine follows choice words.

I hope this serves as a warning and a comfort to you. As anxious as you are to start that project do not taint that joy with frustration and failure. Think of your swatch as a peek at how unbelievable your fiber and color will look knitted up. Then when you are on row 100,000 out of 200,000 you can remember how gorgeous your swatch was and find the will to chug through.

ยท              As of this printing, I know of no pattern with 200,000 stitches, so fear not! But then again I have never bothered to count. 

Swatch shown in Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Lime 

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Knitting on the Go- Get out there!

May 12, 2010

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.


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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.


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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!

Review Monday: Rowan the Organic Cotton Kids Collection

May 10, 2010

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Once in a while you come across a knitting book that is full of projects you are not only excited to knit but can't wait to knit (I am talking a 6 yr old waking up on Christmas morning excitement)! This just about sums up my state of mind when I first finished reading Rowan the Organic Cotton Kids Collection. This book's one-two punch of cute kids coupled with equally cute projects guarantees it a place in every shopping cart. The pictures are bright and detailed. It is easy to see how clothes will fit, the actual size of projects and the wonderful color options available. All projects featured in this book are knit with Purelife Cotton 4 ply and DK yarns meaning that most knitters will already have something in their stash to start on a project right away and if not then the featured yarn and colors are easily found. Since it is organic cotton you know that all projects will be just right for baby and kids; clothes will be super soft and stuffed animals will cuddle right back.

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I had the opportunity to knit one of the chickens (Gordon, Hugh and Jamie) from the book and it was easy and breezy. I used Rowan Organic Cotton DK in Oak Bark. The chicken knit up in about 2 hours but with the finishing and all the details, the whole project took about 3.5 hours for completion. I also had to come up with some modifications for me. I didn't have a crochet hook in the appropriate size so I knit a 3 stitch i-cord for each leg, about 3 in long and finished it off with 3 small strands of yarn as the feet. I also wove a piece of yarn to the top and tied it in a bow because I could not crochet a comb. I think both of these mods do not change the character of the pattern so are easy options for those who are exclusive knitters or, like me, lack the correct tools.

Another modification that I opted for out of easy was to pick up the middle 16 stitches at the bottom of the body where the base attached. This allowed me to knit the base right onto the body and made for less finishing later. I had to add an extra purl row before I could follow the pattern instructions for the base. I also only used 2 colors for the finishing details instead of the recommended 3 colors. I just used little bit that I had in my left-over bin for just such occasions. No telling what brand they are but I know they are cotton. 

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I highly recommend this as a first project from this book. It gives a good feel for the yarn and also allows you to get comfortable with Rowan's instructions and standard terms (if you are not already from previous books and patterns). All important aspects you want to be familiar with before you jump into a sweater or one of the dresses. I found no flaws or mistakes with this pattern. I could not find any errata listed on the Rowan website. I recommend this pattern as an advanced beginner or intermediate knitter depending on your comfort. You can check out the other projects from this book on Ravelry and pick your favorite!

Knitting on the Go- Notions plus Free Sewing Pattern

May 6, 2010

One of the great aspects of knitting is that it is portable. Knitting on the go is fun and a great way to pump up your otherwise bland activities. Long car trip, more like a great time to cast-on for a new project. Concert in the park, how about background music for a spicy lace shawl. Waiting for your table at a restaurant, now you are working a few more rows on that hat for your niece's graduation present. 

However, knitting on the go it not without pitfalls. But like any good adventurer you need a tool belt. Indiana Jones and his whip, Iron Man and his suit, Inspector Gadget and his, er, gadgets, you are about to bestowed upon with your KNITTING POUCH OF NOTIONS  (that intended to echo when said). Please step into Fabric.com's deep underground lair where our scientists have prepared a highly stylized layout of your notions
 
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At the end of this post you will find a knitting pouch sewing pattern so you may create your own arsenal of knitting tools for stitching on the go. This is a quick and easy pattern that you can customize to fit your knitting persona. I will show you my pouch and all the tools I pack inside. I never leave home without a project and this bag. It is as close to me as my wallet and I forget it less than my cell phone (which is not really proving my point, but anyway...)

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In my pouch can be found:
Scissors
Bobby Pin


The Yarn Cutter and scissors are redundant but I find on bumpy roads and when babies are toddling around scissors are best left in the pouch. Plus, it's pretty. 

Most of these items need no introduction but I will explain the rest. Crochet hooks are great for picking up dropped stitches and on occasion they are called for in patterns. I have also used my crochet hooks as cable needles when mine escaped. Tapestry needles are used to weave in ends once a project is complete and for some cast-offs. Stitch Holders are like parking spaces for your stitches when not in use but you don't want to just leave them unattended. They have a tendency to run away. 

Now the Bobby Pin is the secret weapon. I have used it for everything from stitch marker, row marker, stitch holder, keeping my pattern in place when there is a breeze. Plus. when I decided to go for bangs and then grow them out, this little baby kept the peace and my hair out of my view. You never know when or what you will need it for, so stock it. 

These are the basics. From time to time, depending on my project, you might find more tools in my pouch but you will never find less. Invest in quality products and take care constructing your pouch and you will be happily knitting on the go in style and ease. Enjoy!

 

Tara Miller-Knitter

 

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Getting back in the game- the Knitting Edition

May 5, 2010

So you're not a newbie but you don't really consider yourself a knitter anymore. If has been awhile since you have put yarn to sticks then step closer. It doesn't take much to get back in the game, even if the game was 20 years ago. In fact, it will be easier than you realize; once you have momentum you will be whipping out projects in no time.

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Step 1) Take Stock

Do you have supplies? If not do you remember what you used most? Did you use wooden or metal needles? Was your favorite yarn cotton, wool, or a blend? Start there. If you hung onto your old supplies and still have a stash then go through it and pick something that gets your attention, it is more likely to hold it.


Step 2) Set the mood

Find a comfortable place to sit for a while, something nice to drink, maybe some music and plenty of time. Relearning to knit (or any skill) is not something easily done with kids running around, hungry cats rubbing your leg or phones ringing. Knitting is relaxing so setting the mood is key to triggering your memories.


Step 3) Where to start

What do you remember about knitting? Practice what you remember and think about what you don't. Start at the beginning with something simple. Cast-on 10-20 stitches and work a row in a knit stitch. If you get to the end, do you recall what comes next? If your first row was a success (it doesn't need to be perfect but recognizable) try purling on the way back. Keep at it till you feel comfortable.  If practice is all you need-awesome! But if you know practice is not enough then refer to the Learning to Knit post. You can use any of those methods to gain a refresher lesson.


If knitting and purling itself is not your trouble but just feel out of the loop with yarn fiber combinations, needles materials ("Back in my day we knit with metal needles and we liked it, we loved it") and pattern choices, feel free to contact customer service with any questions. If you are looking for opinions, recommendations or reviews try leaving a comment here on our blog or contact us via Twitter or Facebook. Social Networking is a great way to be in contact with knitters from around the world without leaving your house. Once you get back the horse, it will be like you leaved got off. 


Check back Friday for Knitting on the Go: Notions with a notions pouch sewing pattern

Let's start knitting!

May 3, 2010


Hi and Welcome Knitters, Wanna-bes and Looky-Loos, I'm Tara
You might remember me from previous sewing blog posts on Fabric.com's blog. Since we last spoke, I have started a family and honed my craft of crafting. If it can be fashioned out of fabric, yarn, paper or other various slow moving inhabitants found in my house, then I am making it. For the sake of this blog we are going to stick with sticks and yarn (aka knitting) with the occasional daytrip off track.

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Want some background? I have been knitting since highschool (we will round that down to 10 years and leave it at that) and have been designing knitting patterns and teaching for 4 years. I love knitting for the end result but like most knitters, my love extends beyond. It is the process. Like the crossword puzzle in the Sunday paper and a long, hot bath, knitting is relaxing and therapeutic. I can turn off my brain and breathe. Yet at the end I have something beautiful that I can keep and make myself happy or give away and make someone else happy. It is a win-win and I stay sane. But in order to find solace in knitting you first must learn. Come grasshopper...

Learning to knit is like learning any new skill (walking, driving, cooking, for example), it takes a desire to learn and a source to learn from. That is just the basics but there are many different methods of learning, you will know what works best for you. One method, and I mention this first because this is how I learned to knit, is to teach yourself from a book (See below for links to some great teaching materials). The pros for this method are: you can work on your schedule, you can repeat steps as often as necessary and there is no one to hear you swear when mistakes are made. The cons are that you must interpret the instructions and pictures yourself and an increase in your swearing vocabulary (in extreme conditions wine consumption is directly related to swearing frequency). The cost for this method is low ($$), just the cost of books, needles and yarn (cost of wine will vary).

A second method is to track down a relative, friend, neighbor, mail-lady, grocer, or any person you can wrangle into sitting down and teaching you to knit. This may be easy or difficult depending on where you live. If you are lucky enough to live in Norway or Ireland, throw a stone and grab whoever it hits, apologize and invite them in for coffee because they know how to knit. Look in your local newspaper or neighborhood circular for knitting clubs (often mention "needles" in their description). I suggest you visit your city's website for listings and your local newspaper for more info. Of course, you will need to work around this person's or group's schedule and teaching methods. The chances are pretty good that you will have a one-on-one lesson with you setting the pace.  The cost of this method is very low ($) just the cost of needles and yarn.

The third option is also the most expensive, least flexible but offers a fair amount of hand holding. I am referring to yarn store lessons. If you are lucky enough to have a yarn store within driving distance then you are sure to find lessons, great lessons. But at a cost. Most yarn stores charge a lesson fee plus materials, purchased at the store. Add that to the driving and you have yourself a pretty penny. However, you don't need to worry yourself over picking out needles and yarn. In providing supplies, the guesswork is avoided. You do need to worry about class size, availability, times offered and how often.  One last pit fall that must be avoided is the after-class-purchase. We are all guilty and it cannot be avoided. Who among us can sit in a room surrounded by soft, beautiful yarn, knitted into samples of sweaters, scarves and pillows and not be wooed? Let she (or he) who is without after-class-purchase throw the first stone. You will find no ammo in my hands. The cost of this method is high ($$$) with residual costs always possible.

Pick any of these methods that suit you but don't expect to wake up knitting. It takes some work; knitting is a new skill. Using both hands to hold sticks and yarn is tricky. It was tricky for me. But I wanted to learn and I did. You can too and we'll be here for you. Good luck!


Learn to Knit Materials:

"I can't believe I'm knitting"

"I can't believe I'm knitting DVD kit" 

"10-20-30 Minutes to learn to knit"

"Cool Stuff- Teach Me to Knit"

With so many encouraging titles, you can't go wrong. Plus Fabric.com's No Hassle Return Policy makes it easy comforting that you will find the right book and be up and knitting in no time. Feel free to comment with any questions or messages. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter

 

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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