Recently in Knitting Category

Spring knitting: Cotton Yarn

March 17, 2014

cotton yarn1.jpgSpring is upon and whether or not you have felt warmer temperatures it is time to prepare for the change of season where your yarn is concerned. Put away your wool and cashmere and grab your cotton. I want to show you three great lines of cotton yarn we have at Fabric.com and explore some spring patterns.

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(Coral Colored Yarn) First up is just prefect for dishcloths which is my all-time favorite spring knitting project. They are small, quick, and don't take up a lot of lap space. Coincidentally, my dishcloth usage increases during spring and summer in direct correlation with watermelon consumption. Peaches n' Cream cotton yarn makes an excellent dishcloth because it is tightly wound and features 4 ply of quality cotton yarn. You can scrub and wash all day long and it will still last years. I do recommend that you increase your needle size because it will shrink and thicken after the first few washes. Increasing the needle size will make sure your dishcloth retains a good size and will keep its flexibly that a good dishcloth needs.

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(Yellow Colored Yarn) Secondly, we have a similar cotton yarn from Lion Brand, Kitchen Cotton. While this will also work for dishcloths I prefer it more for wearable projects because it is less tightly wound so it has a bit more loft, drape and a better hand when next to the skin. You can use it for light sweaters, shawls, wraps and blankets. It also has a bit of a sheen which makes it an excellent choice for baby and kids wear since it will be smooth and nice to the touch.

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(Blue Colored Yarn) Lastly, I want to share our Lion Brand Organic Cotton which is not wound with several plies but it is combed and lightly wound with a thin ply of cotton to give the overall yarn a slub look that adds texture and softness to your projects. You might remember it from my Worsted Swirl Hat. It is unbelievably soft and still has good stitch definition despite the slub texture. Being that it is organic makes it a great choice for kitchen items and kids wear as well as wonderful for bedding (pillows, blankets, etc.). cotton yarn5.jpg

Free Knitting Patterns and New Yarn

February 19, 2014

We are constantly getting new, beautiful fabric and yarn stock in at fabric.com so I wanted to take this opportunity to reintroduce you to our free knitting pattern downloads by pairing them up with some of our newest stock of yarn. Since most you are still in winter's grips it is nice to explore something new if you have cabin fever. For those of us getting a taste for spring's rapid approach (it was in the 70's in Atlanta the other day), we have a taste for brighter colors. So new is needed all around; check it out with me.

Autumn Stars Sock Pattern: more like Spring Stars so let's knit these socks up in brighter hues and sequins.



Beach Pillow Knitting Pattern: Spring Break is coming and many of you will head to the beach. Coordinate this pillow to match your beach blanket or swimsuit in Cotton yarn.



Belle Handwarmers: Who needs handwarmers in spring? Anyone who works in an office, early mornings or night shift. But knit them up in a softer shade and some pima cotton and alpaca.



September Shawl: This is my favorite of the free pattern downloads I've designed for fabric.com. I have made it as teacher presents and gifted it to friends. I love working it in different yarns, fibers, and sheens. This cotton metallic yarn works up with a soft hand and nice drape, espcially if you go up one needle size. The metallic sheen means you can wear this to glam up your tunic and jeans or over a little black dress for a night out.

Knitting with Beads

January 31, 2014

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Great beauty comes with great challenge was never more true than working with beads. Knitting with beads is my white whale. I love the outcome but it is not the most enjoyable knitting for me. Others love it but not me. However, the finished product does make it worth it and I do love beaded knits. Oh do I! Many of my friends and family do as well so I grin and bear it but it is tricky work. Beads are slippery, elusive and seem to have a mind of their own. They will deceive you into thinking you have them right where you want them only to work a row and find they are somewhere else. Luckily beads are easy manipulated. Beads are so beautiful that any amount of funny business is worth it. IMG_5361.JPG

Preparing to knit with beads is not difficult. When pressed I would say that no part of knitting with beads is difficult just tricky. To knit with beads you must first string your beads. You can knit with just about any size bead as long as you find a yarn that will fit inside the bead. I find that lace/fingering weight yarn works the best. This doesn't restrict you to only fingering weight patterns. You can pair your beaded fingering yarn with any other weight of yarn, just knit with both yarns together. I first paired my lace weight beaded yarn with another skein of the same yarn. Two lace weight strands together was the equivalent of one strand of fingering weight so I worked with a size 4 needle.

However, I didn't like the finished weight so I paired my beaded lace weight yarn with DK weight and that gave me the equivalent of a light worsted weight yarn and I worked it on a size 6 needle. 

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To string your beads you will need a tapestry needle that will fit inside your beads. I used a size 6/0 seed bead that I purchased online. This is the most popular size (it is about the size of half a grain of rice). My beads were pre-strung which was very helpful. I just threaded my needle with my yarn and strung the beads while they were still on their original string. Once all beads were strung I clipped the original string. I didn't have to deal with beads scattered all over my table and they were all lined up ready to go. Your pattern will tell you how many beads to string. Every once in a while you will come across a bead that won't fit on your needle; just skip it and string the next bead. When you clip your original string all the faulty beads will fall to the table.

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Once all your beads are strung lead out a good bit of yarn from the ball and push your beads all the way down. You will have to do this repeatedly as you use of the lead yarn. You will pull up a bead as you need it. Once you get to a beaded stitch, pull up a bead close to the needle and work it into the stitch you are knitting. It should sit in the middle of the loop you created. If it doesn't you can manipulate it on the next row. Sometimes a bead will pop over to the back side. Just push it through later on; it is not a big deal and easily fixed.

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Beads can be added to any pattern to add sparkle to any detail you like. Add them to your collar, the tops of pockets, sleeve cuffs, blanket edgings, hat brims or shawls. I recommend if you are starting out to pair your yarn with a DK or bigger weight yarn so you can easily see your loops, bead placement and to get a feel working with beads. You will love the result whether or not you enjoy the process.  

Check out Ravelry for great beaded patterns in all sizes.

 

Nearly Invisible Knit Increases

December 6, 2013

I have been on a sweater knitting rampage lately which is weird because I prefer fast knits. However, I went on a bit of a hiatus after my second baby was born; it's tough to imagine but I just didn't have the time. But I have grown accustomed to two kids and I needed my knitting fix again so I have been burning through sweater patterns. One trend I have noticed that has been giving me a challange is invisible increases that, well, aren't invisible. No increase can truely be invisible because you are adding a stitch-creating something from nothing. But some of these invisble increases are very visible and in a most distrubing way. They all tend to leave holes in my sweater, like a yarn over increase but smaller. I have tried video's, blogs and forums to figure out the way around this and have found nothing. I was left to solve it on my own. The answer came one night while I was night by the fire. Knitting makes me relaxed and sleepy at night so I accidentally increased on the wrong side of my cardigan but didn't notice until the next morning. I was shocked and excited not because I had to frog all the way back to my collar (which I did any way just to fix my holes) but because the increase was less visible when done on the opposite side. 

Continue reading Nearly Invisible Knit Increases.

Knitting: Calculating Yarn Yardage

November 22, 2013

When creating a new project it is always handy to have the correct amount of yarn needed to see your project to fruition. If you enjoy math (or can easily tolerate it) then read the following paragraphs. If you despise math and don't mind rough estimations or need the easy but less percise way of calculating yarn then please skip down to the * at the bottom of the page. If you are looking for a math-free and precise way of gaining your yardage then: sorry, you will have to settle or one or the other. 

Continue reading Knitting: Calculating Yarn Yardage .

Knitting Techniques: M1R & M1L

November 1, 2013

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There are many different ways to increase in knitting; some are neutral and some slant. In order to achieve the correct look it is neccessary to use the right increase for your design. Neutral increases do not slant either way but slanting increases can go either right or left. Slanting increases are perfect for raglan shoulder seams, triangle lace shawls or to shape a design to a hat or to blend in with an overall scheme. Make 1 is a simple, easy slanting increase that makes a subtle increase that can blend easily into a design. It is created by picking up the bar between stitches and either knitting into the front or back. Make 1 can slant either Right or Left  depending on how you pick it up. Besure to knit into it so it twists or else you will be left with a unattractive hole. Below I will talk you through Make 1 Right and Make 1 Left. 

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Make 1 Right slants to the right and is created by picking up the bar between stitches (seen in top photo above) from back to front. This means you come into the bar from behind and pick it up with your left needle. Then knit into the front of the stitch, just like regular knitting. 

M1L collage.jpgMake 1 Left slants to the left. It is created by picking up the bar between stitches (as shown in top photo above) with the right needle from front to back. Then slip the newly formed loop onto your left needle and knit into the back loop (shown in 4th photo above). 

This versitile slanting increase creates a small twisted stitch that blends well and is less noticeable to other slanted increases like Knit Front & Back. It is perfect for lace work. 

Project shown: Bloomsbury Kids Sweater in size 6 yrs in Lion Brand Wool Ease in Sea Spray. Follow my progress on instagram by following TaraDangerMiller and Fabricdotcom

Knitting Washable Wool

October 25, 2013

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Sometimes being a fiber snob has its drawbacks and I always feel the weight of my snobbery when its laundry day. I despise hand washing and flat out refuse to do it for my children (if you have seen them eat spaghetti you'll understand). Soooo, as much as I long to only clothe them in natural fibers I think I will leave that to the cotton knit fabrics and not the wool knitted sweaters. Give me machine washable, please. This is the foundation of my love for Lion Brand Wool Ease; it's machine washable with all the wooly goodness. The stitch definition is also amazing; making it perfect for the delicious lace sleeved kid sweater pattern I found on Ravelry, Bloomsbury Kids. It sounds crazy putting a lace sleeved sweater on a kid or baby but this is no ordinary lace sweater. The lace is very basic but the design is really eye-catching. There are not a lot of eyelets to snag fingers or to reduce warmth. The gauge really helps to keep this a very useable and warm sweater. The design of the lace panels is unique and also a fun knit. I had a great time working this up because the lace pattern is simple and easily memorized, the yarn was so soft and allowed the stitches to be seen well but with just a touch of fuzziness and it is small. The only modification I made to this pattern was to use Jeny's Suprisingly Stretchy Bind-off from Knitty.com for the cuffs and bottom. I recommend this for the kid's version just to make it easier to put on and take off. It looks great too. 

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I am also a fan of the colors available in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Worsted, each color has several shades to choose from. The yarn is flexible, slightly fuzzy but without the itchiness. The yarn was never irritating while working over several hours and my daughter has since worn the sweater twice without complaint all day. I have consequently washed it twice without incident. It comes out nice, not distorted at all and with no shinkage. I do block the sweater slightly just to shape the sleeves to better see the lace. Usually acylic-based yarn cannot be blocked but Wool-Ease does block some, just enough for a kids sweater. The baby sweater is worked in Natural Heather and I have just started a second for my almost 5 yr old in Seaspray which if you follow Fabric.com or me on instagram you can follow the progress. 

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Knit: Cable Stitch

October 4, 2013

cable2.jpgWith winter fast approaching it is time to think about the cable stitch, a winter knitting staple. But did you ever think about why the cable is synonymous with cold weather. Just like fall makes you think of apples because that is the harvest time; cold, windy days make you long for a cable sweater because cables help keep you warmer that plain knit. The twisting of the cables pulls in the fabric making it tighter and more dense plus the cables overlap creating a double layered fabric. This creates a warmer fabric that can stand up to wind and chill of winter days. Including cables into your designs will not create a stiffer, more uncomfortable fabric. That is dependant on the yarn, but it will create a stiffer drape. 

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Cables are best suited to wooly textured yarns because the wool provides great stitch definition while the soft loft of the yarn blurs the lines just a bit to create a inviting look. I prefer my cables worked in light color yarns so the cables are visible. The darker the yarn the less visible your cables will be. 

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Cables also are a great way to add texture and interest to a project. If you want to create a more dense fabric, adding cables will create the texture you want while adding interest. You can combine several types of cables together. I am always looking for new combinations to try out and love combining several different cables together. You can create a cable from any number of stitches but the higher your count the more difficult and complicated it can become. You can also vary the density of your finished fabric but adjusting the number of cables used. More cables in a design will create a thicker fabric, great for a lap blanket or fisherman's sweater, less will create texture with more drape which will work for fashion sweaters, hats and shawls. Cables can also be used strategically to create density where needed. I used them in my Noel Cable Cowl to create some body so it would stand up and add warmth even though it was knit from a lighter wight yarn. 

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Costume Corner: Baby Shrek the Ogre

September 11, 2013

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Well, I have a baby so you must have seen this one coming. For the most part I'm a pretty laid back mom but I always, always like for my girls to look good. This is especially true for halloween since I love Halloween. I really love it. In fact I was planning hallween costume a few minutes after I found out I was pregnant. When it comes to babies though I don't let anything irritate, distract or inhibit them- it just makes my job easier. So I set out to make a super cute costume for my youngest that would not distract her from her job-walking, crawling and getting into trouble- but would make for some memorable photos. It is amazing how well some key clothing items can be configured into great costumes for little ones. 

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For my daughter, we decided it would be funny for her to be Shrek the Ogre for Halloween. You see, when we told my oldest daughter that we were having a baby she named her soon-to-be sister "Baby Shrek" until even after we found out "shrek" was a girl. To make this costume all that is needed is a tiny vest, leggings, a t-shirt or onesie and a knit hat. Since the weather in Georiga is tempermental and I never know if it will be warm or cold on the big day I like to keep my options open to make sure my kids are comfy. For this costume I can use a long sleeve shirt or short sleeve. I have also decided to use a pink shirt instead of Shrek's white just to show she's a girl (people like to know). To create your own baby Shrek costume try these tutorials to make your pieces. 

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Vest: I modified this baby shirt pattern to be an open vest just sewn at the shoulders and sides. I cut the back piece on the fold but not the front to create the open vest. I left off the sleeves. I used some brown interlock knit fabric to prevent curling and because it is thicker and will hold up to the grommets better. I added 4 grommets just like Shrek. I didn't hem or bind arm holes to give it the haphazard, worn look Shrek rocks. 

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Leggings: This is a a great pattern to use to make all kinds of leggings or knit pants for your kids. I used the same brown interlock just in case it is chilly that night. I know Shrek wears tartan leggings but I wanted to be able to use the leggings for everyday use and I'm not sure if I have too many outfits that will match Shrek's particular tartan. 

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For the hat I knit this pattern using 2 strands held together, one of cotton (Lion Brand Cotton Ease Lime) and one of wool (Lion Brand Wool Ease Sage). 

This costume idea can be adapted for other characters as well. For animals you only need change the hat and keep the t-shirt and leggings the same color to coordinate with the animals. Try searching Ravelry for the hat pattern. Here's a great Despicable Me minion crochet hat pattern. For Princess Leia, try this pattern. If you want to sew an animal hat, check out this collection on Pinterest.  

Product of the Month: Jumbo Cable Stitch Holder

August 23, 2013

Large_CNC-011.jpgThe past year or so I have really embraced chunky yarns. The most endearing characteristic is that they knit up so quickly compared to worsted weight yarn. I also love how lofty and chunky all my finished objects are and I really love to give soft, luxurious items as gifts. Hats knit up in a chaunky yarn are a dream to wear and make you feel so good when the air is cold outside. Who wouldn't want a nice plush, wooly scarf for the holidays. And sweaters, oh, don't get me started on sweaters. I have never knit up a sweater so fast or been so anxious to pull it on, curl up with a book, needles and some hot chocolate. You certainly can't have a chunky knit without some cableing somewhere and for that you need Clover's Jumbo Cable Stitch Holders. 

These holders are so great. I used to use some DPN for cableing and figure-Meh, good enough. Hmm, so wrong. First DPNs get in the way, can be cumbersome and can lead to stitch slipping due to their shape. The cable stitch holders are shaped to just hang out of the way without taking up all the real estate. My favorite part though is the short side/long side. I use the short side to inititally slip the stitches off the needles and the long side to then knit the stitches off again. The two different colors allow me to grab the size I need at a glance. The bonus is you don't need to use the same size holder as needles. In my swatch I used size 17 needles but the holder was approx a size 13-15 and it turned out great. The jumbo stitch holders are nice and smooth to help most yarns just slide on and off then knit easily. I also really like that they can tuck away behind your ear, in a pony tail or a neckline when not in use with just a slip of the hand. I find anything left in my lap eventually gets forgotten and falls to the ground when I am distracted by my children or other responsibilities. 

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Overall, for such a small tool I am surprisingly excited over them. I expected just another review but walked away with renewed excitement over how much more fun and easy cabling is (I love the look but I usually hate them because they can be a hassle). I am now actively looking for cable patterns- who would have ever thought!

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