Tag Archives: Knitters

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