Category Archives: Teaching

Owls

Owls Sweater in Cascade 128

Owls Sweater in Cascade 128

I forgot to post the link to this pattern. You can find it here: http://needled.wordpress.com/designs/

I can’t wait to teach a class on how to make this sweater this October. This is a great sweater for beginners to sweater knitting.  Not only is the body and the yoke knit in one piece, it’s done in bulky weight so you could potentially finish your sweater in less than two weeks.  I’ve read of people doing it in a week, but I can’t imagine the strain on your hands after constant use of bulky gauge needles.

Again, I did both sleeves at once using the magic loop method.  I found it’s easier to keep my sleeves more uniform this way. One thing I adore about this sweater is how the waist shaping is done by a series of increases and decreases done on the back side of the sweater (see image below).

Waist Shaping of my Second Owls Sweater in Universal Classic Chunky

Waist Shaping of my Second Owls Sweater in Universal Classic Chunky

If you’re interested in taking the class (and live in the pdx area), it should fun. This is a great sweater for people who are starting to consider knitting  their first sweater. I’m excited to be able to share the experience for knitting this pattern with others. Here are the class details (you can also view an abbreviated version on the Naked Sheep’s website):

Owls Sweater Class:

Saturdays (October 3, 17 and 24)
10:30am-12:30pm

Have you always wanted to make that perfect sweater as a gift for a special friend or relative this holiday season, but you don’t have loads of time? Knit in bulky weight yarn this stylish sweater makes the perfect quick knit gift.  Also, this sweater requires very little sewing or seaming. Natalie will help students customize size dimensions for the pattern if needed. She can also convert the pullover pattern into a cardigan version if desired.  Students will learn how to make two sleeves at a time using the magic loop method.

Notions & Supplies Needed:

  • Large tapestry needle
  • Cable needles (if you are new to making cables)
  • 24” circular needle in appropriate size for yarn used
  • 32” or greater circular needle in appropriate size for yarn used. If you are using the Magic Loop 40″ circulars are highly recommended.
  • Optional: 40-50 buttons or large beads for owl eyes

Recommended Yarns:

Any bulky weight soft yarn.

  • Universal Yarns Chunky Classic
  • Cascade 128
  • Cascade Soft Spun
  • Eco Wool or Eco +

Not recommended: any boucle or fur yarns.

Prerequisite Skills:

Advanced beginner. Students must be able to Knit in the round as well as increase and decrease.

Once you get the sleeves done its smooth sailing all the way

Once you get the sleeves done it's smooth sailing all the way

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Filed under Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Patterns, Portland, Portland Knitters, Stockinette, Sweater, Teaching, Techniques, Wool, Yarn

Raglan Sweater Episode 2: Calculating Stitches & Casting On

I interupt this post to bring you more on swatching….

We interrupt this programming to...

We interrupt this programming to...

So I’m assuming you’ve selected your yarn and swatched it right? You’ve also washed the swatch in woolite or some other delicate laundry soap, and blocked it to see what the fabric (you’ve knitted) looks like and wears like after it’s been washed. Also if you plan to use different stitches like moss stitch and garter stitch with your sweater, you have blocked those pieces too. You know how old people begin some didactic story or lecture with the words ,”Let me tell you a story about…”? I’m not quite old yet but I’ve been leathered by more than a few knitting mistakes or disasters and I’ll tell you a story about a sweater I knit two years ago. This was my first raglan sweater. I used a ‘super-wash’ yarn and happily knit the sweater to the required measurements, but I skipped the blocking process. The sweater had a nice garter stitch hem at the waist and on the cuffs. It looked quite gorgeous and held it’s shape before washing. After washing the garter stitch hem stretched out, and despite my efforts to dry the sweater flat. The yarn stretched and the sweater turned into a tunic. How could I have saved this by swatching and blocking? If i’d swatched properly, I would have discovered that I needed to go down a few needle sizes for the hem and cuffs. I might have also see that my knitted fabric my stretch after washing.

If you want to keep a knitted garment for a long time and have it look fabulous through most of it’s lifetime, you really need to swatch and block. If you don’t care and you’re just knitting to make a sweater, then don’t block.

We now return to our usual program…

So if you’ve figured out how many stitches per inch or per length of four inches you get when knitting this yarn in stockinette stitch. Measure your chest and and take the number of inches from this measurement and multiply it by the number of stitches per inch.

knitnotes1

Using a cable cast on, I cast on 160 stitches on a needles that were two sizes smaller than the needles I would use to knit the body and sleeves. You can use a long tail or regular cast on if you feel more comfortable.  I knit garter stitch in the round for 6 rows. Remember garter stitch in the rounds is knit one round, purl the next and repeat.  I placed a marker at the beginning of the round, and another at exactly 80 stitches. After knitting the hem, I switched to the larger needles. At the beginning of the row I increased one stitch by creating a purl stitch at the first marker. I would create another purl stitch at the next marker.  I purled these two stitches instead of knitting them as I knit the length of the body in order to create a ‘false’ seam. I would also use these purl stitches to mark the beginning of the gussets I would create for the sweater’s armpits, but I’ll cover that in more detail later in the story.

Essentially, most of the sweater is knit as a stockinette tube. This is the most mindless part of knitting the sweater, and in some ways the most fun. I look forward to watching countless movies with subtitles as I knit this part of the sweater. I can put my mind in a sort of knit on auto-pilot.

Garter stitch hem and stockinette body

Garter stitch hem and stockinette body

Now, if you’re interested in learning how to calculate the yarn and dimensions of your own raglan sweater, I suggest you visit this site:  The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater.

The Knitting Fool also has a wonderful Raglan Sweater Calculator. Fill out the stats and create your own pattern as a .pdf document. Please note the needle sizes refer to US sizes and you must knit a 4″ x 4″  swatch to estimate your gauge before running this program.

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Filed under Garter stitch, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Stockinette, Sweater, Teaching, Yarn

Swatch Day and Blueberry Socks

I know I said I was going to write about swatching as part of my process in the whole “Raglan Sweater Series” of posts. I lied.

I know a lot of knitters don’t like hearing the “Sermon on the Swatch.”  Maybe it’s just part of the lesson. Knitting a whole sweater that doesn’t look or fit right. I’ll be honest. I have had this happen to me… more than once. As a result, I now swatch.

That’s all I’ll say on this subject for now.

I did have time today to swatch a few yarns I’ve been wanting to try… some yarns for spring: a cotton/hemp blend, Silky wool, and a mystery yarn from Yarnia that I purchased at last years Knit & Crochet Show (Fall). It’s a mystery because I lost the tag.

I’m a little worried that the Coto Canapone (cotton/hemp) is a bit heavy and stiff, but I think it will soften up after washing and blocking.  I’ve heard some really great things about using hemp and I’ve swatched some pure hemp before. It was a bit too harsh for my liking, and I realized that it would take many washings before I could get it to the softness I wanted. Though perhaps I should think of this as a trade off for the fact that hemp takes a lot longer to wear thin than cotton.  Apparently hemp had quite a history as a much used textile until recent times.  Perhaps with the economy being as it is… more people will turn to having durable clothing items rather than disposable ones they replace or trash every year.

I’m quite charmed by the Yarnia yarn.  Unfortunately the photo of the swatch I took doesn’t reflect the different greens\ and purple shades in this gorgeous yarn. Some people have noted that they find the loosely spun plies difficult and splitty to work with, but I’ve always felt that if you take proper care, even splitty yarn can make nice fabric as long as your knitting on the ‘snug’ side.

From top to bottom, Coto Canapone, Silky Wool, & Yarnia 'mystery yarn.'

From top to bottom, Coto Canapone, Silky Wool, & Yarnia 'mystery yarn.'

I was also able to finish my pair of Heritage Paint socks for the shop model for my “Toe up Socks” class coming up.  I have to say, this yarn is pretty fantastic. I think it’s pretty durable and still fairly soft with no itch. Plus it’s pretty inexpensive and the yardage is huge… 437 yards a skein. I found that the solid colors of this yarn are quite a bargain at around $12-13 dollars a skein. That’s a good price for yarn for handknit socks that should last quite some time.

My Blueberry socks in Heritage Paints

My "Blueberry" socks in Heritage Paints

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Filed under Fibers, Hemp yarn, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Lace, Portland, Portland Knitters, Socks, Stockinette, Stuff I made, Teaching, Techniques, Yarn

Am I dyslexic or just lazy? I can read charts but I can’t write them

I love Elizabeth Zimmerman’s writing, but sometimes I lament that she doesn’t make enough use of charts. There are times when the mathematician in myself would prefer to scan over visual charts instead of reading Zimmerman’s written pithy instructions. I’ve decided that it’s ironic because I myself would rather give verbal instructions when teaching than write the instructions out with diagrams.

I made up a simple little pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts about a year or so ago and I gifted them to a friend who taken up knitting since then. It was a nice little number…. a simple O cable panel surrounded by two panels of a zig-zag eyelet pattern on a stockinette background. I added a bit of snugness by fashioning a mock cable rib along the underside of the mitt. Don’t ask me for a picture because again, I’m two lazy to draw or produce one.

She asked me for the pattern and yesterday I tried to write it out, and I discovered… I’m crap at writing out patterns. At the very least, I need more practice writing them and I make excuses all the time telling myself that I don’t have the time and I’d rather spend my free time knitting. Okay, I realize that this is a very bad attitude to have and I’m sure that eventually I’ll reckon with my testy impatience and selfishness. After about twenty minutes and five or six crumpled pieces of graph paper… I just told her that I would walk her through the process telling her what to do row by row. I figured that after two repeats of the very simple pattern she would be able to do at least the length of the arm and section before the thumb hole on her own. I’d later show her how to join the mitt and then finish with a ribbed edge.

It was so bloody cold this weekend. I took a break from knitting gifts to make a pair of mitts for myself. I have a different variation which I finished this weekend. I will post a picture of these when I have the time. I used a very chunky and somewhat polar bear (beige) colored furry yarn that I purchased at a sale at JoAnn Fabrics (Sensations -Angel Hair) and knit a version of the mitts I described above on US size 10 and 11 needles. Result… in about three hours I had a pair of warm toasty hand warmers to wear in the cold outside…. with clothes, a coat, scarf and hat, of course. I love them because they make me feel like a cave woman.

angelhair.jpg

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Filed under Challenge, Craft, Creativity, Gifts, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Math, Patterns, Reflection, Stockinette, Teaching, Techniques, Yarn

This is why I knit…

When I first started mastering knitting and actually making objects that were aesthetically appealing… I had a hard time giving away what I made.  Lately, I’ve been finding more joy in making things for others. I gifted a little vest I knit for a friend of mine who is expecting. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of it, but you can get a good look at it here.  She seemed genuinely charmed with the tiny little garment to the point that she too wanted to learn to knit. I agreed to help her out and get her started by teaching her.  I enjoy helping people get started and learn how knit, especially kids.  Perhaps it’s because we live in a digital age, where I believe that it’s even more important to make things with our hands. I myself found that as my career went more and more virtual and I was creating items and experiences for the web, I found myself more deeply wound in balls of string and my yarn stash grew from a basket to a shelf.  I had always been a knitter but it was more of an every-other weekend hobby.

I did a search on the “importance of craft” and found a wonderful article.  It’s sort of an anatomical treatise on our physical abilities to make things. We have thumbs… therefore we must Craft! But I think the author puts it well as he rationalizes our need to craft:

Why bother to make anything by hand today? Because for those who practice it and for those who need an antidote to the alienation of modern society, handwork can be meaningful. Individuals with a certain kind of bodily intelligence will find handwork to be a rewarding form of labor and expression.

Well at least I can reassure myself if it comes down to “the crunch” (I almost typed ‘crunchy’) because I am a knitter, I know how to clothe myself and keep myself warm.

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Filed under Craft, Knit, Science, Teaching