9.30.2009

Winter predictions

I begin to wonder if the number of sweaters I have planned to knit is similar to the length of the hair on a wooly worm. If so, we are in for a severe winter.

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It all began in the middle of summer, it’s hot, humid and I’m sweating. But for some reason keep begin drawn to bulky yarn, and sweater patters. Now I’m at that point in my life when I can have a full blown hot flash, anytime, anywhere. And I haven’t worn a sweater, unless it was a cardigan that I could whip off in an instant.

OK, I need to back up, maybe it actually started last winter. The winter of 09 here was a bad one, we had a huge ice storm and lost power in the house, (and most of the city) for days. Some residents in Kentucky were out for 2 weeks, it was brutal.

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During that time we stayed in he house and bundled up. Rummaging through the closets and locating that specific item is difficult, especially with nothing but a flashlight.

It was then, that the insanity began. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find my first knitted turtle neck (yes turtle neck) bulky sweater. Oversized and knit in the round, EZ style (Knitting without tears), it was the first sweater I had knitted that I could wear. Happily I pulled in on, over the two tee shirts, and fleece top I already had on.

Ta Da! It was the first time, I was warm. I began to remember why hand knitted wool sweaters are so wonderful. They make you feel loved and happy and toasty warm.  All with that “and I made it myself feeling”. I didn’t take it off, it went over everything I wore those cold dark days, and even to bed.

Back to the present. I have spent the summer planning sweaters, spinning yarn to knit into sweaters and buying yarn for sweaters.   I usually wear a long sleeve tee at the most in the cold months.

Five sweaters planned (rav link). Prediction for my winter. Toasty and warm.

Check the Farmer’s Almanac for the forecast in your area

May your knitting needles fly as fast as dragonflies..

9.24.2009

I have 1000 silkworm eggs, or it’s my Birthday!

happy-birthday

If you have the new Spin Off mag, you have probably read the fantastic article by Michael Cook about Growing your own silk, and his in depth website Wormspit.

Well, I fell in love with the little wiggly spinners. A relatively new spinner, and I have only spin with a silk hankie (or matwatas) once. But I knew I had to have some of the voracious little guys.

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I’m planning on letting them all live out their natural life span, all of the info I have found indicate that if you desire the silk for thread, the worm must be killed while in the cocoon (the cocoon is one long filament), but if using to spin, it is not necessary to do that. More info at Peace silk

016Here are my eggs

My husband had asked me “is there anything you would like me to get you for your birthday?”. And so  as I set out on an adventure, come with me on my wormy quest for silk.

I hope to be able to make some silk hankies and dye them. I found a nice tutorial on how to dye them by Constance Rose Textile Design

Here is a tutorial on how to spin them from Clever Crafty Foxy

Photos to follow soon, I hope…

9.22.2009

Featured Etsy Seller

Designs By Vanessa Vanessa lives in Arizona (lucky thing) and has an obsession for all things birdie. Her shop is fun just like her items.

Charming Chickadee Necklace $25.00

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Song Sparrow Earrings $15.00

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Iron On Applique Patch - Pretty Birdie, Little Birdie or Speedy Turtle $3.00

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These are just a few of her darling things. She blogs at Designs by Vanessa

9.20.2009

Got gauge? Or I hear voices in my head

When a pattern tells you to get gauge. I only wish it were that simple. Practically every fitting problem can be due to gauge. Go to you LYS and ask them for help with a pattern fitting problem and what are they going to ask you?  Got gauge?

I started a sweater recently, and knitted my gauge swatch at work during my lunch break. Big mistake, evidently I’m a uptight knitter at work (you think?).

I dutifully knitted, washed and measured my swatch, calculated my gauge and started off.  Have you ever been blindly knitting along thinking, “this looks a little big”, but you keep knitting? (Because you know you have gauge).  Listen to that little voice in your head, that’s your knitter’s intuition speaking to you. Get your ruler out and measure, your gauge is a fluid number, a force of nature, ever changing, like the wind. (especially during stressful times)

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Here is a great in depth article from Knitty and Jenna Wilson about gauge and yarn substitutions.

 

Watch out when you substitute, a slightly heavier yarn, will produce different drape and flow of your item. For example the Knitty pattern above called for cotton yarn at 150 yd at 100 gms, I switched it to wool that is 440 yd at 220 gms, Dividing the gms by yds we can get the weight. Cotton yarn 0.66, Wool yarn 0.5, this looks pretty close but tells me the yarn I’m knitting with is 0.16 lighter. This will affect my bulk (underarms) weight and drape. Think about this when you are substituting yarns. This is an especially helpful tool when deciding on yarn for lace knitting, in which a little change in drape may alter your desired look.

I found an excellent article from the Knitting Curmudgeon about swatching and gauge.

Fuzzy Galore explains it this way

Read Knitty’s  Knitting patterns 102, it will help you avert knitting disappointments, by Jessica Fenlon who blogs here at JessieKnits

If you are feeling adventurous, and who isn’t because we all love to create. Here is a Excel gauge adjustment calculator from Con-fusion in glass and string, thanks Helena!

May you knitting needles fly as fast as dragonflies..

9.18.2009

This and that…

Here are some links I’ve run across that are too good to keep to myself. There are so many great artists out there, here are some with free patterns.

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Knitty fall 2009 out!!

The Mountain Mom Report blog has a tutorial for a cosmetic case, I think this would be great to hold some knitting accessories, or carry along with socks to knit.

Crochet a linen grocery tote with The Purl Bee

Just in time for Halloween crochet a scary Eyeball with optic nerve! Thanks Crochetninja

A great combo of knitted hat, scarf and mittens patterns from Pickles, nice yarn also.

Get some exercise, and make some memories from by little hands, make a nature wreath to hang on your door.

I love this girly backpack from My little City girl free pattern, crochet

This would make a great knitting tote, pattern from Moda Bakeshop

You know those coil less safety pins we love, Riot of Daisies found them in plastic

 

Enjoy these, quick go now and create something!needletemplate

9.13.2009

Afterthought zipper

Evidence that life is a like yarn, sometimes it gets knotty, but with patience you can work it out, or if all else fails, cut it and tie a knot.

This knitting story begins with a knitting girlfriend, a birthday and a series of catastrophes.

I started knitting the felted knotted up bag because a friend was having a birthday. She has been knitting for about a year and has been admiring my felted bag. Her partner wanted to buy her some yarn so she could make one, but she was a total non knitter. So enter me.Armed with a budget, and a pattern, I set out. I find the perfect yarn and it was on sale! Yay! A lovely kettle dyed yarn that was perfect. I couldn’t resist buying some yarn for myself, and decided I would knit the purse with her.  

108223202_34d8c710baI love this photo, it came in an email, does anyone know who these two women are? I feel like I should recognize them. 

A week before her birthday a series of disasters happen, the worst one is that her uninsured father in in an explosion and got 3rds degree burns on his face, hands and arms. He is taken to a large hospital with a burn unit. So on her birthday she is in a strange city, in a different state, and with NO knitting. (portal to hell, no?)

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Fast forward to present. I have knitted my purse, (her Dad is doing well BTW),  I show her mine, because I want to make sure she likes the pattern, and she loves it and the colors, better than the colors I bought her and she wants to buy it from me. But she wants a zipper in it

So I’m giving her my purse! Yay…after all who appreciates a knitted gift more than a knitter? But it needs a zipper….so…….

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The Afterthought Zipper

If you absolutely need to add a zipper after you have your purse done, this is what I did.

-I found a zipper that matched, or if you can’t find one that matches, white, black or cream is good. For the length, buy something close the your purse opening, stretch it out and measure it, plus about 4 extra inches. If in doubt longer is better, we can always cut it off.(the end will be hidden)

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-a small amount of fabric, I used some of the leftover lining fabric.

-pins, sewing machine, and some patience.

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1. This is to make “tabs” on each end of the zipper. Take fabric (double it, or fold it over) and cut a small rectangle, about 3 times as long as the distance from where the zipper stops to the end. (now you have one for each end).

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2. Fold it over (right sides together), pin and judge if it the right size to cover the end of your zipper. The important measurement is the sides, we will tuck the raw edge in as much as we need to.

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3. Sew down each side. Turn, and roll raw edges up, as far as you need, place on end of zipper, pin and sew.

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4. The only zipper I could find that matched was 24 inches long, now I measure the bag opening, and pin the zipper along one side, with the tabbed end that is done sticking out about 2 inches on that side, cut the other end about 2 inches longer, than the opening on the other side.

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5. Now repeat step two for the other end of the zipper.

6. Now pin your zipper to the opening and eyeball it to see if it is going to fit.

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Looks pretty good, ok…

7. Lay out some of your fabric and cut two pieces that fit from about the length of the zipper. And about 3 times as wide.

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8. Lay your zipper right side up, unzipped, on one piece of fabric that is right side up, and pin along the edge.

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9. Pick up your zipper and fold the ends over, and pin to just even with the tab. Now sew your line along with edge of the zipper with the raw edge of the fabric, sew it fairly close to the edge.

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10. Flip it over and trim a wedge, to eliminate bulk from each side, and then pin. Also pin the other raw edge about 1/2 over. Now press.

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11. Fold this piece over and pin it to the front of the zipper. Now the fabric will be right side out and your zipper will be face up here.

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12. Press and sew a seam.

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13. Now repeat for the other side.

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Woo hoo, now you are ready to put this into your purse.

14. Line this up and pin, making sure that it is in the center of the bag and the center of the zipper. You may have to pin several times to make it look like you want it to.

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15. When you are satisfied you can either tack it in by hand or sew it in with the machine. You can tuck the tabs into the bag if you leave both ends open a little, or keep them out.

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Now your ready to grab you phone and go.

Hope this helps

May your knitting needles fly as fast as dragonflies

9.10.2009

Knitter’s on the runways….

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Yeah, we know it, we are talented and knitter’s know how to look good in their knits.

Last year, we were all knitting or crocheting the big neck wraps. Lots of patterns everywhere, in fact we have been knitting and crocheting them for a couple of years.

Now, our scarves are showing up everywhere on the runways….

This year we have all price ranges Derek Lam scarf $35, Armand Diradourian scarf $438, Fendi scarf$180, Anna Kula scarf $225 to name a few.

Instead of looking to big name designers, look to the “real designers” of these warm and beautiful items.

Tudora by by Cheryl Marling she blogs at a simple yarn

Aibhlinn by Mary Burr

Baby it’s Cowled Outside by Megan Granholm who blogs at loop de doo

Chic Cabled Cowl by Elizabeth at Loop Knits, and she has more patterns.

Misti International, chunky, fast pattern (rav link)

From Hello Yarn this classy Irish hiking scarf (rav link), and her Besotted Scarf (rav link)

Just to get you started, find some yarn, get your needles out and cast on. Or if you don’t knit, Etsy has many talented designers that you can shop with, buy from an indie designer.

Support real artisans.

May your needles fly as fast as dragonflies….

9.06.2009

2 at a time, it’s always been a good idea

Learn_from_Noahs_Ark

It all started with the book by  Melissa Morgan-Oakes (rav link). Knitting two socks at a time. I have tried several other methods of knitting two at a time socks and this is the one that “clicked” for me.

The greatest thing about knitting two at a time besides not having the “second sock syndrome” is any alterations you make in the pattern, are immediately done on each sock. I had trouble writing it down, (thinking I’ll remember I did this), ha, no telling how long it would be between each sock.

 003 (3) 2 at a time Sailor’s Delight Socks

I love her book and the patterns. Almost all of the patterns are for socks I would actually make and wear, or gift to someone. Hot tip!! She is in process of writing another book! The second book will be out in April of 2010 and is toe-up, two at a time.

 

 0172 at a time Berry Season socks

I did try other methods before this one made sense, if this book doesn't work for you try some others:

Knitting Circles Around Socks: Knit Two at a Time on Circular Needles by Antje Gillingham

Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles: a Manual of Elegant Knitting Techniques and Patterns by Cat Bordhi

the Queen Kahuna Books, she has toe up and cuff down on two circulars

Come to Silver has a detailed tutorial on two at a time toe up socks on her site she blogs here

Suddenly I was thinking 2 at a time for many things. Mittens,  and sleeves!  I have read about  making both sweater sleeves at one time before but never seriously contemplated trying it. Melissa’s book has given me the skills to plan and carry this out.

I have recently fallen in love with a Knitscene fingerless mitts pattern and am determined to knit them 2 at a time.

013 Destined to become fingerless mitts!

May your needles fly as fast as dragonflies…

9.03.2009

Top down, not your father’s convertible

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Upon a suggestion from a fellow Plurker, I am converting a pattern that I am knitting, to a top down pattern. I am well versed in knitting in the round, bottom up sweaters. I found and fell in love with Elizabeth Zimmerman early in my knitting life. But have found limited info on top down sweaters. Bottom up in the round sweaters made me convert any pattern I could into this type of construction. When you are done, there are none to few pieces to put together, your good to block and wear.

Top down, in the round sweaters have had the same effect on me, plus, as everyone points out, you can try them on as you go. I feel like I am “in the flow”when knitting this way. I didn’t think trying them on would be a great plus, but it is. Now I am in search of more top down construction books and info.

The best resources that I have found are: Barbara Walker’s Sweaters from the Top down, great book, good explanations, great section on increases, more types than I knew there was, and examples of what they look like, (this alone is worth taking a look at the book). These are some of the few photos in the book, the finished garments are simple diagrams. I would like some finished garments shown on real people. But that is the only criticism I can make, she gives you plenty of detailed info to run with. This book will let you design any style top down sweater, with the yarn you want to knit it with. You will need a basic knowledge of knitting, or another book to help you understand knitting terms and how to cast on and off etc.

The Incredible Custom Fit Raglan Sweater, the is a online calculator. Plug in your measurements and your good to go. I had to get further info from other sources, it left a few holes in explanation. I am using this plus the Barbara Walker book to “make” my sweater.

Another online calculator I found is from the Knitting Fiend, a detailed calculator that makes a pattern for your sweater, she does ask for donations. You can customize your sweater to various styles and use your own gauge. (The calculator asks for a dizzying amount of measurements, so I would think this sweater would fit well). This eliminates the math and makes it simple for you.

She has a wealth of info on her website and all types of pattern calculators. Here is a handy one for converting a sweater pattern to your gauge. (again, she does the work for you if you are math challenged)

Does anyone have a favorite top down sweater book? If so let me know. I’m sure this is just the first sweater that I will be knitting from the top down.

May your knitting needles fly as fast as dragonflies…