A Really Useful Gift for a Knitter

My mind has been on gifts for Christmas. In fact, I’m a bit worried how I’ll complete all the presents I’ve planned to make. I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of some yarn for some of those gifts–hoping it will arrive before Thanksgiving when I’ll finally have some time to knit.

This past weekend I went to Knit Fit in Seattle and picked up a few of the skeins I need, but some are still in transit. Meanwhile I took a master class on decreases and increases, because I’m always struggling to know which one to use when and what each one looks like and is best for certain projects.

On the wrist of the instructor, Andrea Rangel, had on a tool I truly coveted. It’s the one thing I’m always wanting close to hand, but isn’t handy—a measuring tape. Instead of it being in a toolkit there it was as a fashionable bracelet on her wrist.

When I got home I made a quick search and discovered they are made in Oregon by a company called ILOVEHANDLES. For a mere 19.95, I think it’s a beautiful, affordable gift for any knitter in your life.

A Yarn Weight Key for Holding Two Strands Together

Holding two strands of yarn together can make some beautiful projects. I came across several blogs and lovely patterns on Ravelry which show some spectacular outcomes of holding two yarns of the same weight together.

I’ve got it in my head to do a gradient sweater with a set of Miss Babs Fingering Weight yarn and I’m not too keen on knitting it at a fingering weight. I once knit a sport weight and it took me over a year to complete it (of course not knitting monogamously).  And yet, patterns like the Happily Sweater by Katy Banks, the Progressive Pullover by Faina Goberstein and the Gradient Pullover by Amy Miller are calling my name!

     

I’ve been looking for a key to holding two strands together and couldn’t find a definitive source. This won’t be one either, as this is not an exact science. But after researching and testing I came up with what you could use as a good rule of thumb. After that, swatching should get you the rest of the way.

First to the Craft Yarn Council to get the “standard weight” categories, including a “new” knitted yarn weight called Jumbo—which I often get by hold three worsted weight strands together. The table below is a modified version of what you’ll find at their site. I encourage you to look there for the full table.

Category
Fingering 10-count thread
Sock, Fingering, Baby
Sport, Baby
DK, Light Worsted
Worsted, Afghan, Aran
Chunky, Craft, Rug
Super Bulky, Roving
Jumbo, Roving
Gauge Range Over 4”
33–40 stitches
27–32 stitches
23–26 stitches
21–24 stitches
16–20 stitches
12–15 stitches
7–11 stitches
6 stitches or less

In general, from standard yarn sources (e.g., Quince and Co, Lion Brand or Cascade Yarns, in general I find the following is true:

  • 2 strands of thread weight = Lace weight to fingering
  • 2 strands of lace weight = fingering to sock to sport weight
  • 2 strands of sock = sport weight to DK
  • 2 strands of sport = DK or light worsted
  • 2 strands of DK = Worsted or Aran
  • 2 strands of Worsted = Chunky
  • 2 strands of Aran = Chunky to Super Bulky
  • 2 strands of Chunky = Super bulky to Jumbo

Always check your gauge, since your mileage may vary. I’m selfishly sharing so I could put the list in a place I could find it. 😊

Maybe next time I’ll do some tests with mixed weights, since I do an awful lot of those combinations too. And after that maybe three strands.

Like so much with knitting, the possibilities are endless!

Fabulous, Fully-Fashioned, Fitted, Fuchsia Funnelneck

Let’s face it, the original is hard to improve on. Stefanie Japel’s Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest is an awesome pattern. And I’ve made it before and received compliments. So why mess with perfection? Because I’m not perfect and neither is my shape!

I’m a bit crane-necked, small breasted and a bit hippy (or as the lady at the Eddie Bauer store selling jeans says, “Your style is ‘Curvy’”). I also feel that while the Bernat Panama yarn is true to gauge in the stockinette, the ribbing always felt a bit looser than I’d hoped in some places on the previous garment.

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I cast on 96 stitches (extra small is 108 sts) to narrow the neck and only bound off 3 sts each side for the start of the armholes. They I increased following the directions until I was following the pattern for a medium size in the bust (I just kept doing increases until I hit 192 sts). From there I followed the direction (excepting some reductions I hid in the back shaping as I narrowed towards the waist (12 sts) to get it back to size small for the waist (180 sts).

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Pre-blocked, but still looking great!

From there the shaping was done more subtlety—with needle decreases and increases. I knit as directed with the “smaller” needles and then dropped a needle size in the garment just above my natural waist and knit for 1 inch. I switched to the needle requested for 2 inches then increased needle size every two inches after to widen the bottom of the garment it.

And voila! Pleased with self.

Naming Your Photo Folders to Find Things

I take lots and lots of photographs. Let’s face it, in the digital world, “film” is cheap, so I convince myself to take multiples to make certain I get the best possible shot. However, I’m only moderately good about going back and sorting through them and I’m jealous of my husband who somehow manages to get this done (it takes me hours because I fixate on fixing them and deleting the bad ones).

We recently (April 2015) moved to Orcas Island and I have loads of pictures from when we were house hunting as well as just kayaking with our friends from Body Boat Blade who were some of the first folks to tell us (you should live here!).

I was looking for a specific visit—after we moved, but fairly early. I opened my folder for 2015 to find the shot in question. Instead I found a folder naming structure which used to serve me well when I traveled the world for work and hardly ever visited the same place more than once a year.

Year Day Month Location or for longer visits Year Month Location so for a visit to the Isle of Skye it would be 2015 05 Skye and that would be perfectly identifiable.

Living in a picturesque place has rendered the system less than ideal. When I went photo hunting I found in since 2015 I have more than 20 folders all named “Date – Orcas” and even that I have them as subfolders under year, was not as helpful as I’d hoped.

Oddly this does not happen with knitting projects that go into named, rather than dated folders—like “Watson Shrug” or “Fabulous Fuchsia Funnelneck”. In those cases, I rely on the date of the photo to remind me when it was taken because knitting takes time. One folder for several dates of photos make sense—especially if you pick it a project and put it down again as I often do because of my busy working schedule which no longer includes much travel.

So today I spent the morning going through those photos and adding little descriptors like “Funny Nick” and “Lovers Cove”.

What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Lover'sCove
Kayaking in Lover’s Cove, Orcas Island

The Leap You Get From Frogging

“You can turn that back into string?” asks Watson—a non-knitter looking at one of my failed experiments and the potential recipient of the objects d’art in question. And while we knitters like to think of “the string” as yarn or wool (no matter what it is made of) it is basically that—balls of twine that can be made into clothing or household objects.

Frogging is simply taking made articles of knitwear back into the components of what they are made of to be remade into something else. I love the work of Grid Junky who literally buys old clothes (even jeans) from thrift stores and turns them into beautiful new things.

Lately I’ve had quite a few things that just didn’t turn out as I’d hoped. My First Crochet Project: The Seahawk Gadabout Bag. As you can see from the photo, it grew wider as it got taller. This is in part because I added a stitch each row (as directed by the pattern)–but didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t an add, but a “close the loop” stitch. I have it somewhat balled up. I didn’t want to go all the way back to the base, but I might have to because I can’t remember what size hook I used. How terrible would it be if I tossed the whole thing in the trash?

I’d mentioned I was Christmas Knitting for my Crew. Needless to say, I missed that target.

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The ball in between the article and the skeins is the frogged portion of the project.

One was a capelet based on my Big Needle Caplet I was knitting for a friend. I was trying to create an interesting pattern, but the bigger the item got, the more wonky the pattern looked. Also because it was a partial rib pattern, instead of increasing smoothly, it was smaller on the more heavily ribbed parts and wider on the less ribbed. So out it was pulled. I’ll be checking out Sequence Knitting for a better fabric.

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Then there was the Bias Scarf for Sushma. That was finished and turned out very well. Only it was finished *after* Christmas.

The one I started and finished first was the Cabled Shrug for Watson which sadly barely fits my tiny “girls” and will definitely not go around Watson’s robust bust. I modified significantly from the original—thinking to “update” the “look” and the result is that because I used garter instead of ribbing has a big bulge under the arm and across the back. So while the Watson Shrug was my first project started back in the Fall for my friends at work, it will end up being the last one I complete. It’s on my list to frog and quite likely will be a different shrug based on another pattern from Sequence Knitting. img_5382

This said, I think it is totally worth it to frog things and feel there is no shame in turning things “back into string” when they don’t work out.

Try, try again knitters!

I’d love to hear about your ups and downs of frogging!

Smitten Ain’t Quite Fittin’

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This project started out in the warm early Fall (Summer Knitting in Winter) when I was wanting a T-shirt to wear in navy, but honestly could not find a pretty fitted one to purchase. Though I’m now back on mission to “buy local” and make things instead of buy them. My money pit of a house might be partly responsible.

I’m replacing the siding and they disturbed the bats living in the soffits who when frighten took refuge in my attic. At night, they crawled out of my heat lamps in the bathroom. Imagine having a bat circling your ceiling fan! I literally slithered out of our bedroom on my belly until the husband had shooed it outside! It was the harmless small Western Brown bat—the kind that gobble up mosquitoes, so I like them around—just not zooming around dive bombing my head in my bedroom.

Back to knitting…

I love the Smitten Tee pattern and it was free, so what’s not to like! I also modified it to fit my taller frame, but I think I got a bit carried away. It turned out a bit bigger than expected and a bit longer too. But all in all, I count it a major success. I used up all of my vintage yarn–beautiful Italian Lane Borgosesia Cotone del Borgo. OR at least the navy color.

I’m curious if anyone else’s experiments have had good/bad/so-so results.

Where’d It Go? or Seller’s Remorse

My stash is prodigious. It’s mine and my grandmothers with a few of my friends’ grandmothers thrown in. There was a time, in the not too distant past, that knitting was a dying art. So when people saw me knitting, I would get given all the spare yarn that hadn’t been used up.

Yarn Collage
Just a fraction of the yarn from my stash

One Fall when I was on sabbatical I took to photographing and cataloguing all of my yarn—at least the small portion of it that remained after I donated most of it to charity—about 75%. But don’t let that fool you, I’ve still got an immense supply which grows every time I go to a knitting event—much faster, I might add, than I can possibly knit it with a very busy full time job that never seems to end at the end of the day.

To second the Ravelry post on January 6th by MaryHeatherB “Tip: 3 Things to do on Ravelry in the New Year”, Tip #1 is to catalogue your yarn on Ravelry. I highly recommend that you go through the exercise. Now I tend to shop at home because I know what I have and in what quantities. And now that you can “slurp” in photos you won’t have the added hassle I had in photographing 200 yarns.

I’ve been knitting things for the women members of my team and trying to pick up a few new skills along the way leveraging free patterns on Ravelry. One didn’t go so well. I attempted to give Aran Cabled Shrug in Kaya Wool by Crystal Palace Yarns a more modern look by switching the ribbing to garter and adding increases to compensate for the lack of give. I love how it came out, but feel it is a bit too misshapen to give away—not to mention way too small for its intended receiver. I’m still trying to work out a closure for it that helps hide the underarm “bump”.

Next I turned to a different project that I ended up falling in love with—a Bias Scarf by Shelby Dyas. It came out so pretty (and heavy) that it hard to part with. I bought some Lion Brand Homeland in Bryce Canyon and paired it with an unidentifiable yarn in my grandma’s stash—a slick, nylon, ribbon yarn in burgundy by Malibu Mark which reminds me a lot of Anne Blatt’s Antique.

That’s when I got the idea to make a shrug from the pattern—a square you can wear. If it were wider it would be perfect and I knew of just the yarn to pair up with a bit more ribbon yarn—but this time of KNOWN origin, Lane Borgosesia Diamante in a variegated black-taupe-white and/or solid black. On the hunt I went and I came up empty. I searched by stash and it was not to be found. Where was it? I sold it!  And no doubt now these two beauties are probably knitted up, possibly together, in some gorgeous creation.

And there was this VERY old Berroco Glace variegated cotton-blend ribbon yarn which barely deviated from white in the palest of pinks and blue. I was purusing Ravelry, as I often do on weekends, and found a great summer top to use it up with, feeling so proud to be shopping in my stash. Firstly, I couldn’t find it in my stash, but I was certain I still had it so I went to my storage rack… Gone! Well, it wasn’t my color, I rationalized. Er, um. *sigh*

I’m happy to have them get used and there was no telling when I would have used them, so it’s for the best, of that I’m certain. What it did get me to do was “rethink” my trade or sale portion of my stash on Ravelry.

Copyright, Creativity and Crafting

The song Donna Summer song “She Works Hard for the Money” is rolling around as I write this post. And work hard I do. And in spite of this, I’ve mentioned I wanted to start selling my extra produce at the local resort. Well, they’ve put me off just long enough that I’ve gotten the message—not interested. They are nice people, they just to keep things neighborly. So rather than say “No”. It’s always, “We’ll get back to you.” Only they never do. So I’m looking for a new outlet.

Happily, many of the samples I knit up fell into the hands of my family members for Christmas, saving me a huge amount of time shopping and bringing lots of joy. The other reason I didn’t sell them was that I noticed (and wrote about) that some of the items had the stipulation that they “cannot be used for commercial use”. I assumed this referred to the knitted garment, but a person posted on that blog I should read up on it because that was not the case citing US copyright law.

I didn’t have time to check it out at the time, but this weekend I decided to research and found out—they are quite correct. According to US copyright law, this stipulation cannot apply to “useful articles” produced following a recipe or pattern. The UK (of course!) has a similar rule specific to knitting and croquet items.

You certainly don’t have to take my word for it–after all, I may have many advanced degrees, but I’m no lawyer. So here’s where you can read up on it yourself:

You might also find a couple of articles helpful to parse the legalese. I really appreciated Jason M. Krellenstein’s brief description in his “Ask a Lawyer” column in Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2012 issue. To summarize: any statement about “no commercial use” in a pattern has no legal precedent and is unenforceable on knitted items. This article, from 2014 in “Plagiarism Today”, spells out in understandable detail why socks, hats and sweaters fall under “useful objects” and can therefore, not be restricted by a designer.

The bottom line: A designer cannot, as of this writing, legally enforce a “no commercial use” clause in the UK commonwealth (Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, etc.) or in the United States on articles generated by following the pattern.

In retrospect this makes sense. The pattern and all the hard work that went into creating it belongs to the designer—and they should profit from the sale of that pattern. For produced item based on that pattern, a knitter’s cost of materials, time and effort, modifications/customizations belong to the knitter–full stop. Effectively, the knitter may not be restricted from earning a profit on their labor, clause or no clause.

This said, while you (and I) can sell these items (until there is a legal decision to the contrary), be mindful of what the copyright protects–the pattern itself. The law is very clear that this intellectual property belongs to the designer.

A pattern should not be resold or given away, in whole or in part.  A pattern must be purchased and it should not be shared, unless the designer gives you permission. You also cannot reproduce or publish it without express permission. Speaking from personal experience with my own *very simple* designs, designers work hard for the money.

Big vs. Little

I’m mainly a long time knitter of sweaters. And though I’ve only knit one afghan, I’m in the mood to knit another “big” project. It’s hard to explain the drive to do it mid-summer. I live far North (for the US) and this summer it’s been pretty rainy and cool in the San Juan’s. And though the chilly nights might explain some of it, I think it is more about size than the chill of summer evenings.

Moving to little Orcas Island has been a challenge for me—a good one. And though I have so far kept my home in the big city, I’ve definitely moved my flagpole. I still work—a lot—so downsizing to a city apartment just hasn’t been a priority—especially in the last two months when I’ve been averaging 80-hour work weeks. It’s a new small job at the same company and I love it—much better than my big job where I felt idle, unnecessary and depleted. And though it might seem counterintuitive that a small job takes more effort than a big one, it is a good metaphor for knitted projects.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been knitting a lot of small projects—picking up new skills to make socks and such with the intent of having lots of easy-to-carry on the ferry and quick-to-finish items. I was also sussing out whether to sell items at the resort next door—and they only carry small items—hats, gloves scarves and the like.

So with the new job, finding out the resort is only selling the owner’s mother’s (and friends’) items and running into too many “no commercial use” pattern restrictions, I feel it is probably time to switch back to my bread-and-butter of big knits. And one of the lessons I’ve learned recently is that small, doesn’t mean quick. My Project’s page in Ravelry reminded me I’ve been at this last pair since early May.

Socks in particular are my nemesis. They take FOREVER. And sure, I’ll get faster at it when I’m not spending so much time ripping it out and fixing things, they are still a very big project for me right now. I don’t mind smaller needles. Give me a sweater on fours and I’m fine. But knitting with toothpicks and featherweight yarn is definitely putting me off socks. Definitely not a quick, little project.

To reassert my big knitting skills with so little time for knitting, I’m thinking I’ll picking up one of Frankie Brown’s afghans that grow organically like her Ten-stitch twist or Ten-Stitch Blanket. Which will challenge me on joins, but not on the knitting itself. And I think both might be great stash busters—particularly of sock yarns I might decide maybe aren’t for scarves or socks anymore. 😉

Brioche in Plain English

I’ve struggled with two color brioche and for someone that has been knitting brioche for many decades without a hitch—both in the round and flat—this is a huge source of frustration. I decided to take multiple classes until I could master it. The upshot is that this approach did not work, so I hope to save you the trouble and expense and hopefully a lot of angst.

The problem isn’t you, it’s the lingo.

Recently there has been a largely unnecessary adaptation from standard knitting terms which might sell books and patterns, but stymies people that just want to do these techniques without having to learn new terminology, take classes or buy books.

*deep sigh*

I was bewildered when a member of my guild said that Nancy Marchant “had to invent new terms” because there weren’t any, the only thing I could think would prompt such a remark is that she wasn’t aware that brioche knitting is technique had been around for centuries. And while vintage patterns use multiple methods of description (the rational for creating a new “standard”) each of these ways is easily more comprehensible to me, but most lack the colorwork I want to learn.

At no small expense I flew to Colorado for YarnFest to take my second (and third) class on the topic from Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark (the first was 4 years ago from Nancy herself at Vogue Knitting in Seattle). Once again I failed to learn the technique.

Admittedly part of the problem was I sat next to a tardy 20-something “troll” who had taken the class before and poured scorn in a loud whisper on other attendees who failed to grasp it. She had lots of fodder since that happened to be the majority of the ladies there—all of whom were knitting veterans with decades of experience looking for a way to bridge this unnecessary gap. Needless to say, I left early just to get away from her competitive, obnoxious behavior.

I’m not the type to give up, especially when it is something I know well, like brioche. So I immediately turned to the web to uncover a solution—right there in my hotel room—knowing I was going to have the follow on course the next day and would need to know how to do two color to move onto increases and decreases.

If you’ve also struggled, I want you to know that I’ve discovered that others are still willing to use the standard terminology to teach these fairly basic techniques and give you equally good results—at no charge.

That evening I came across a YouTube video by a lovely young lady, Stephanie of Milk Shed, and learned, in ten minutes, exactly what the first 2 hours of the class covered. And the lingo? Good old fashioned slips with yarnovers and knit/purl to togethers. There is also a written tutorial that comes with a free cowl pattern. Even Jo-Ann’s is getting into the plain English act with their online tutorials—not a BRK (brioche knit) or a BRP (brioche purl) in sight!

And not to worry if you want to knit a newer pattern. I found that once I mastered the techniques it was fairly straight forward to work in reverse. All you have to do is to map normal knitting terms onto the newer patterns.

*deep happy breath*