Tag Archives: Knitters

We’ve launched our podcast!

 

Rachels Sock Yarn Blanket in Progress

Rachel's Sock Yarn Blanket in Progress

Introducing… “Cloudy with a Chance of Fiber”

Two fiber and craft obsessed individuals from Portland, Oregon chat and explore what it means to live in a DIY nation.

You can view our show notes and link to the podcast here:

Cloudy with a  Chance of Fiber

I’m still working on some of the technical details with the RSS and iTunes but for anyone who want’s to listen it’s up there :).

Datura Sock Yarns in Mauve, Grey and Aqua. Prize yarn is either the Mauve or Grey. Winners choice.

Datura Sock Yarns in Mauve, Grey and Aqua. Prize yarn is either the Mauve or Grey. Winner's choice.

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Filed under Craft, Knitters, Knitting, Podcast

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

Sort of final note about the Sock Summit

I don’t have a lot of time to blog about this now. I will probably return to some of the witty and insightful comments I heard yesterday. Even though I had a ripping headache for most of the afternoon, the Luminary Panel was well worth it.  I have a very fuzzy picture of the panel, but I figure with all the photo snapping that went on yesterday… someone has a better photo than me.

I especially liked Anna Zilboorg’s dry wit. I need to read more of her books.

Also, one person had a very thoughtful comment about how mono-chromatic (in terms of racial and cultural diversity) the knitting culture is. Even though, as one panel member pointed out knitting is not part of all ethnic and minority groups cultural background, many ethnic peoples have taken up knitting because it is a practical way to clothe their families. All this talk made me want to belong to an outreach group that teaches all people how to knit, and how accessible and affordable it can be with some creative wrangling and selections of yarns. I started a list of yarns by price for making a plain raglan sweater in  previous post. (By the way the final installments for the raglan sweater instructions are on their way). On another note, when I teach my classes I try to include all price ranges for suggested yarns because I do want people to be able to afford to knit the objects in the class.

Also, the notion that knitting should be available to groups rural areas as well reinforced my thought that online shops are good for people who do not live withing close proximity to a local yarn store.  Here I am living in a city that has one of the highest number of yarn stores per capita and I forget that someone in a smaller town or rural area may not have access. Also, there is the comfort-zone factor or that that the yarn store in a city may not be in a neighborhood where some ethnic minorities feel welcome or comfortable.

Knitting should be universal - Photo from the morguefile

Knitting should be universal - Photo from the morguefile

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Artfibers Yarntasting Part Deux

Wonderfully thick yarn called Udon in color 05
Wonderfully thick yarn called Udon in color 05

Hello there again!

Leila Wice of Deboko Design was kind enough to send a load of photos from the Artfibers Yarntasting event my way. I’m posting a few more here.  I’m also including most of the photos in a gallery below so you can see more of the swatches people made.

Looking through the photos, I remember that it was just so much fun!  Thinking back upon the whole event, I enjoyed the whole bit. It was great to see so many knitters intensely enjoying what they were doing as the diligently knitted away through as many samples as possible. If you are interested in hosting your own yarn tasting you can find out about it on their website &  contact Artfibers directly.

It's nice to knit in the warmth of the sun
It’s nice to knit in the warmth of the sun
It's always good to have your kit ready
It’s always good to have your kit ready
Smart knitter Rachel tagged all her swatches with Avery labels
Smart knitter Rachel tagged all her swatches with Avery labels
It's so pretty it hurts to look at it all
It’s so pretty it hurts to look at it all
Working with limit amounts allows you to try all the yarns
Working with limited amounts allows you to try all the yarns

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I’m a Tweeter on Twitter

At least I’m not a twit on twitter.

My Twitter ID is:

I am  following 36 people… (look I don’t have that many friends). I accidentally selected the option to populate twitter contacts with your gmail e-mail book. Now I’m sure there’s some insurance agency in Iowa that’s wondering why they’re being followed by some strange blue-faced Asian lady.
I like checking on the knitters in Twitter by typing “Knitting” in the search. Interesting conversation!
I wonder if following too many people can just lead to confusion.
If anyone wants an knitting follower post a comment on this post with your twitter ID.
I will follow you eagerly if you’re sharing stuff about fiber goodness including knitting, crochet, spinning, dyeing, etc.

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Video Log: Yarnia for Fiber Lovers

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kZlSVd0KAo&feature=player_embedded]

I like the corner for the husbands… :).

I actually went to Yarnia recently and made some very lovely bamboo/wool blend yarn that I’m using right now in raglan sweater for myself. As soon as I take some photos I’ll post it up here. I love the fact that Yarnia has some very beautiful heathered alpacas and wool threads to include in the mix. You could spend hours in there just playing with combinations.  I like matching analagous colors like families of greens with very different fibers like alpaca and silk or hemp and silk. What joy! I’m in fiber heaven when I’m in there.

Because I knit somewhat tightly, I’ve had to adjust my tension (loosening it) so that I’m not tugging to much on the yarn and causing some the strands to bunch up, but I love how the fabrics knit up.

Some people might complain about splittiness with this type of yarn, but I have to say… “Just rub some dirt in it” (i.e. sometimes you just gotta deal). If you want multistranded goodness you’re just going to have to compensate for the split factor. The overall effect of the colors and blending of fibers is well worth it to me. My bamboo/wool blend has a lovely spring to it. The boucle thread I chose for the combo has also added some grip to the fiber that prevents the bunching.

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Filed under Hemp yarn, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, 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

Raglan Sweater: Episode 1 – Selecting Your Fiber

 

Click here to view the pdf version of the notes table

Click the link below to view an updated version of this table

yardage_raglan_sweater

I eventually will put the pattern up for Eric’s sweater, but I thought I’d share a little about the process it took to knit it. Knitting a raglan sweater in the round is a good advanced beginner knitting project. Before you start you should be able to do the following:

  • Knit stockinette stitch (right side – knit stitch/ wrong side – purl stitch). Though it is arguable that if you are knitting in the round to make the sweater you only need to know the knit stitch. Still you should probably know how to purl since you need to purl to be able to create a ribbed hem for your sweater.
  • Knit with circular needles in the round
  • Do simple increases or decreases (k2tog – knit 2 together & ssk – slip stitch and passover slipped stitch on the next knit stitch)
  • Sew in ends with a tapestry needle
Panel of stockinette stitch with a garter stitch edging on the bottom

Panel of stockinette stitch with a garter stitch edging on the bottom

If you’ve knit a number of scarves in stockinette or garter stitch or if you’ve knit anything like a hat where you needed to decrease or increase, you’re definitely ready to knit a raglan sweater in the round.

Now you just have to pick and get your yarn.

In a previous post, I mentioned that it is possible for you to purchase yarn for a sweater and not break the bank. I thought I might help a few folks out by providing a few of my notes on yarns that I find to be affordable.  I put together a brief table with my notes on some of of the yarns I’ve used in the past to create sweaters and other garments. I actually put this table together for my own reference.

Please, please note, that these are just estimates and notes put together to give you an idea of what yarns you could use to create a sweater. You should take the recommendations here with a grain of salt and understand that they’re there to give you a point of reference rather than a prescription for knitting a sweater. I also created this to give myself a cost estimate for any raglan sweater projects I might do in the near future. Let’s hope the cost of fiber doesn’t go up too much.  The prices on the table are based on the range of pricing I’ve seen in different stores or on the web.

As you can see from the table below depending on your size and fiber you’re using, you can make a sweater for as low as $30- $40 dollars. I believe that this is what you’d normally pay for a good sweater in a retail shop. Note to self – I need to loose a few more pounds so I can save money on yarn 🙂 Again, if you are looking to save even more money, you can search eBay or Ravelry for swap and trade bargains. You can even re-purpose yarn from thrift store sweaters.

Note that the yarns here in the table are arranged roughly from bulky weight to worsted. Bulky weight yarns allow you to knit a sweater in a short amount of time, but some people don’t like the ‘chunky’ appearance of the knitted garment. Eric’s sweater, featured in a previous post, was done in a heavy/bulky weight yarn that had a gauge of about 4 stitches in an inch. The bulky weight of this yarn and the simplicity of the pattern allowed me to complete the project in less than two weeks.  I believe that worsted and aran weight yarns could be used for a beginner project.

One of the considerations you may want to make when choosing your yarn. How much “ease” or looseness of fit do you want in your sweater? Do you want a baggy and slouchy look or do you want your sweater to fit snuggly? If you have a bustline of 36 inches and you want a comfortably loose sweater you might want to add 3-4 inches of ease to your sweaters bust measurement.

Finally, one general rule for purchasing yarn you should always follow: order an extra amount or skein of yarn if your pattern or size estimate is close to the yardage available in the suggested numbers of skeins. There is no way to predict (other than buying a sample skein and knitting a gauge swatch before you begin your project) whether you will be able to knit the project with the exact yardage specified. It is always better to err on the side of having a little more yarn than you need. Besides you can use the scraps to make a scarf, neck-warmer, or even a hat.

…. Next episode…You must Swatch!

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Holy Sock Holes, Batman!!!!!… It’s the Sock Summit 2009

Sock Summit 2009

I about peed my pants when I saw the speaker/guest list for  the 2009 Sock Summit. I feel so fortunate to live here in Portland, proud in fact that we’re hosting this event. Last night at knit night we were discussing how many yarn stores there were in PDX: Twenty four-last count. Eileen mentioned that we had the highest number of yarn stores per capita and the only other city that could compare was Minneapolis St. Paul. Someone else mentioned that folks who want to study and prep for opening a yarn shop often come to Portland to “do their homework.”

I attended a conference here in downtown Portland earlier this week and met one very excited knitter who was just dyeing (ooops….) dying to get into her rental car and start her yarn crawl. I sent her a Google map of all the yarn stores I could think of. Too bad, I didn’t know about Judy Becker’s Google Map.. And what’s the best thing about purchasing at Portland Yarn Stores? Shopping is  TAX FREE!    Needless to say, I think she and her friends have probably dropped a pretty coin into our local economy.

It’s funny but as we were talking I pulled out my crochet project to share, and I think a colleague of hers walked up to us as we were yammering about yarn and such, I think he was confused by the fact that I pulled out a piece of craft to share at a e-learning tech conference. Ah, the befuddlement of those who don’t ‘get’ our craft.

I’ve often thought that Portland and Oregon as a whole should sponsor some sort of “Craft Tourism.” I believe that Portlanders truly have that DIY spirit. I know so many people in this town who are devoted to their craft. I’ve met many people who tinker and are involved with producing their own products. They’re just not satisfied with the consumer fodder that’s put out before them.  The love to customize, adapt, re-mix and re-work anything from sweater patterns to beer. Even though we have one of the fastest growing unemployement rates in the country, I have faith that many of the people of this town are resourceful and innovative enough to reinvent their purpose and livelihoods.

My Crocheted Koigu Scarf

My Crocheted Koigu Scarf

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Filed under Knitters, Knitting, PDX Culture, Yarn