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You Want me to Cast on WHAT?! (Test of Counting That High)

10 Jan

Casting on has is an art all it’s own. There are books dedicated to just this technique alone and depending on what you’re making/doing, you should know at least five at all times.

I dislike trying to use long-tail cast on for large projects (and I try to use other methods because this one is a little ugly for an edge). I know the whole trick about leaving a tail, wrapping the yarn, counting the wraps, then multiplying that length of yarn to the number I need. But you know what? It doesn’t always work. There, I wrote it! I find that method is a better measurement then eyeballing the amount of yarn you need, but I either end up with WAY too much yarn (usually the bigger the needs, the more yarn) or just missed the mark (converse issue of the former).

I figured out why this happens, it depends on how tightly you wind the yarn around the need and how tightly you actually make the cast on stitch. See how this doesn’t work out so well? Wind too tight, but cast on even a little loosely, there goes your measurement.

Also, don’t use the backwards loop cast on. Why? Because of the structure of the stitch when cast on (super stretchy), you end up with WAY too much yarn. This method is best for a handful of stitches, not for 100+.

I like to use the lace cast on method (and I stick to this one when I’m using smaller needles, but not necessarily lace. Like for a shawl, scarf, or cowl). Eunny Jang has an AWESOME page about this lace cast ons and I’m really linking it here for me to remember where the heck it is (oh, yeah, and you too. Sharing and all that).

But remember, when you have a project, look up a few cast on methods for the type of project you’re doing and chose accordingly. Not all projects need a long tail.

Working my crafty, old lady Friday night (Judge me, I dare you), -Stacy C

Knitting (and Crocheting) in the Unlikeliest of Places

30 Apr

I don’t really get International Knit in Public Day. Yarn-crafting in public is my life, EVERY day. I do it all the time, almost obsessively, because I don’t like to feel as if I’m wasting time. I knit in waiting rooms, watching TV, traveling, exercising, everywhere. Yes, I knit working out.

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I even figured out how to talk and take a picture of me holding knitting. I’m pretty BA.

It’s really not hard to do provided you take a few precautions. Can you walk and talk at the same time? Then you can knit and walk at the same time! I figured out how to do this earlier in the year when I made the resolve to get more fit. The only way to make my fat butt go to the apartment workout space was to let myself continue knitting while in motion. Before compromising with myself I would say, “After this row,” “When I get to the next section I will stop and work out.” This made it really hard to move it, move it, over to the building of physical fitness because let’s face it, I didn’t want to stop. After a few blah attempts to work out and the excruciating “wait” on the machines (you know, where you check the digital timer every 7 seconds because you desperately hope it’s been 20 minutes on the treadmill?), I told myself I could knit on the treadmill. I started out walking on a speed of 2.0-2.3 mph, really fast at all. To compensate not going so fast (but I was ok with that because at least my “fat butt” was moving) I put the incline at nine. I eventually can get up to 2.7 mph if doing a really simple knitting stitch.

I felt pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to get through the boring knitting rows when doing a sweater or repetitive pattern and at the same time getting through the painful act of exercise. I felt like a knitting ninja when I figured out how to do my circular entrelac on the treadmill. Additionally, I successfully experimented in other attempts to push through the workout blues and figured out how to knit while doing crunches, bollywood-style knee bounces, leg lifts and wall sits. I’ve also heard of other knitters crafting while working out on a stationary bike (I don’t have access to one) with good results.

One of the biggest things I can’t stand doing is sitting still for stupid award dinners, especially ones that rival the Oscars in time sucking and matter even less. Well, one of my professional duties is sucking it up and going to one every year. Last year, I crocheted under the table. This year, I’m going to work on I-cord for a necklace. Not visualizing it? Imagine this: sitting on one of those tables right next to the stage at the table of a “VIP” with my hands under the table linen doing I-cord. Another ninja skill – knitting without looking. If I’m gonna be a prisoner, I’m gonna make the most of it!

If you wonder how I get all that knitting time in, it’s because I make time in the most unlikely places getting through stuff and doing what I want to do. Rocking life.

“Stacy, out” *drop the microcphone*,
-Stacy C.

I Finally Get Two-Handed Knitting!

16 Jan

Two-Handed Fair Isle Knitting. I looked at that for a while and constantly thought, “We already knit with two hands, what’s the big deal?” Well, after hearing this technique over, and over, I decided to get the scoop and this is what I found online:

NOW IT MAKES SENSE! I use both hands to carry the yarn when making stitches! This technique really should be renamed “Two-handed stitch making.” Doesn’t really have a good ring to it, but more clear than the commonly used term.

And of course, once I see something I don’t know how to do, I have to investigate how I can make it happen. I’ve written about left and right handed knitting methods before; but this is different because it requires both types at once. My ambidextrous self was super excited to see this in action.

One of my favorite right-handed knitters is Staci (It’s not just the name similarity :D) from Very Pink Knits and how her right hand just flies over those needles similar to my Continental picker knitting ways.

I’ve tried the knit stitch the way she does and it didn’t take much time to get to a good pace. Though purling this “flicking” way, is just not AT ALL easy. Knitting with my yarn like Staci is was a breeze, but I had to find another way to get some good tension to purl. I found a video with an additional way of getting that tension with right-handed knitting:

That way was ok, but I found that wrapping my yarn this way really helps me get the right tension on my forefinger: 20130115-132038.jpg

The biggest thing to take away from all of this is you need to make sure you have the yarn go over your forefinger and your other fingers help keep the tension correct for that one digit. Also, don’t drop the needle, use your thumb and middle finger to keep those stitches flying.

SLOOOOOOOOOWLY making things happen,
-Stacy C.

The Truth About SSK

14 Oct

Hello everyone,

While illness and work may be keeping me away, I have a real doozy for you.

Here it goes, SSK is really k2tbl – BAM!

It’s faster and I just think it’s cool to point out.

I think someone just couldn’t get k2tbl or thought writing it was too long and created SSK. Sissies (hehee).

Working on the cutest sweater,
-Stacy C.

Re-Construction for a Man Sock – Size 12

21 Sep

Hello Knitters,

My 2012 Sock Put Ravellenics Winner

Have you ever seen a sock pattern and wanted to make it for the manly man in your life? Have you looked at the pattern only to see that it goes to a woman’s size 9 and you think, “WHAT?! How the heck am I going to make it the right size? Forget it.”?
I was almost that way, but decided, uh uh, guys need socks too, let’s DO this. Of course, the sock pattern I chose just HAD to be a pain in the butt and a little complicated to construct. But you know what? Victory was mine and I lived to tell the tale! (See blurry man-taken photo of the finished product).

Let’s begin. I took the pattern for the “Half ‘n Half” socks by Patons. I was careful to keep to the same needle and yarn size for my first man sock test drive. I casted on using the German Twisted Cast on and highly recommend it. (DO NOT use a long tail cast on for socks, you need a stretchy edge. It’s a whole other post for why, but heed this advice.) It does a great job stretching, but isn’t so loose on the first row that you lose close stitch construction.

Blurry Man Sock, but proof it fit.

To figure out the man re-construction, I was directed to Cabin Fever “Need a Sock?” book. It took me a while to find ANY literature with information on the construction of a man sock. While I only borrowed it, I’m definitely going to buy it. It’s a little pricey, but it helps you break down every section of a sock to figure out how to custom design/alter patterns for any foot size. From this handy guide, I was able to figure out that casting on for a Size 12 man sock needed 80-84 stitches (those man calves, they’re a killer). Be sure to take into account the cuff because, just like women, if you can’t get their man foot through the hole or the sock up enough the leg, no one is wearing that baby.

The first sock I casted on was with a size 2 needle, but I thought that was a tad tighter than I wanted, I went up to 2.5 and it was better. For the cuff, I would go up . 5 or 1 whole need from the pattern size to be sure the cuff is stretchy enough. Because of the pattern needs I was working with, I casted 81 stitches.

After casting on 81 stitches I did the cuff with a ribbing of P1, K1 for 2 inches. Then I followed the leg pattern for a total of 7 inches for the cuff and leg. You might need to repeat a section of the leg to get the size proper size. For the foot I knitted 8 inches then shaped the toe for another 2.5 inches. Cabin Fever suggests a total foot length of 10.5-11.5 inches for the entire foot of this size.

For the heel, I had 41 stitches and followed the pattern’s “flap heel” construction directions for 2.5 inches before the shaping. For the sole I picked up 67 stitches (22 stitches for each side and 23 for the bottom). You can follow the directions for the heel, because the heel shaping will give you the extra (or shorter) length you need for the right foot size.

I didn’t delve too much into the specifics of the pattern, because I’m trying to give an understanding of dimensions for a “man sock,” not copy a pattern and call it a man sock. Also, these particular socks were very different from most sock projects because I had to do them flat, then sew them up at specific points (of course my first time out with a full set of socks was not kindergarten but advanced calculus). That being written, you can still use these general measurements and tips for the sock pattern you are trying to modify. I was quite upset that I couldn’t find anything on the internet about how to figure out man socks! I’m setting about to shatter the silence ;)

Finishing up my killer sweater,
-Stacy C. Cervantes

What is UP?! (FDC stitch info.)

13 Sep

Well, that question is loaded. Because in my personal and knitting life a TON and in my career it’s a weird one. Well putting aside I got my second dog back in my life, permanently, I have been yarning it UP!

I know I owe you lots of deets on my adventures in man-sock making, fingerless glove love affair, beaded bagging, yarn dying and a crochet braided scarf. I’m also obsessed with designing a sleeve wrap.

I’m gonna start with the man-socks. I have lots of notes. Wait, Psych! (I didn’t mean to). I left all my man sock making notes on a printed pattern at home, in my stitch library.

Let see, what little tid-bit can I give you?… FOUNDATION DOUBLE CROCHET STITCH! I brought you all this way just to mess with your little minds to bring you crochet – you love it! :-p Guess what I learned this week while making Interweave Press’ “Rapunzel Scarf“? about foundation crochet. This little beaute can be done in SC or DC but we’re going to focus on the DC aspect. 

As you can see from my strips, there is the chain and first row DC all done in one stitch.

The wonderful thing about this stitch is say you have to cast on like 50, or 150, or 250, you sit there and chain FOREVER, then you have to stitch FOREVER, etc. To skip straight to step three, you just foundation crochet. You see, while you’re doing this stitch you make the base chain AND the first row! That’s right, you do TWO things at the same time and crochet goes even faster – faster, like 2.0. With crochet already being fast, let’s just say this is awesomeness.

To start follow these steps:

Ch3 (ok, there’s minimal chaining, but I didn’t lie)
Yo, insert your hook into the first chain,
*Yo, go through one loop,
DC one stitch*
Yo, insert your hook into the next loop repeat from * and continue until you have the number of stitches needed.

If that’s still as clear as mud, I really liked this clip from Crochet (that’s her YouTube name, alright?) and it helped me on my way.
Just remember, you can use this stitch for patterns and then start on row three.

Yeah, I’m a little hyper, but you got a post outta me – uh!

Working with yarn made from NASA technology, no really,
-Stacy C.

P.S. This pattern is on sale for $3.85 at the Interweave Press online store until Friday, Sept. 14, 2012!

Seamless Yarn Joins – you Wanna Know This!

30 Aug

Hello my people,

I want to share with you a little trick I picked up from Debbie Stollar of “Stitch N’ Bitch” and “Happy Hooker” fame. (Side note, don’t Google search “Happy Hooker” without “Crochet” as part of the wording. Trust me, it’s not geared toward yarn making.) I love this tip SO MUCH I have to shout it from the roof-top! (AKA, writing a blog post I hope someone reads.)

This tip will work with any animal hair yarn. A good rule of thumb is, “Can you wet felt with this yarn? Then you can – or can’t – seamlessly join it while working with it.” I have some pictures in this post to aid with the step-by-step process:

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Here we have two different color 100% wool strands. No matter the weight, if you can felt with it, this trick will work. First step is to wet about 1/4 inch of each end.

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Then you overlap the two ends over each other about 1/3 of an inch.

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Take the overlapped, wet ends into the palm of your hand and slowly roll it around. Think of those Play-doh snakes you made when you were younger, too slow and it would stay too thick, too fast and it would get real thin and break. You want to roll it around enough to bind the ends together, but not so much it breaks or so little it doesn’t work. It’s helpful to count to 10, check and repeat a max of two times.

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As you can see, the two strands are bound or “felted” to each other. Continue using the yarn as usual. If you are a super tight knitter – cough*, cough* Susann – you want to knit looser than normal for the stitches involving the bound yarn, to make sure you don’t pull the felted ends apart. You can also wait for the ends to dry (about a minute) before using them to be extra sure of tightness.

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Voilá! The yarn is incorporated into the yarnwork just as if it came from the original skein.

As easy as it is to use this trick, it’s super fun too. I feel like a magician making my projects from potion-fixed yarn! Yeah, it sounds weird, but just try it, you will agree. For my more seasoned readers, this might be a rote and boring post; however, I did find that the more plyed (twists or strands of fiber wound together to make your yarn) your yarn is, the less this trick works. You can still use this trick on 2-ply yarn, but anything more than that, it doesn’t work because the fibers are so wound to itself, simple rolling won’t get the other strand to bind. Single ply or “roving” yarn is the best for this trick.

Project Hyper and Getting Back to it,
-Stacy C

Kitchener Stitch Made Easy!

1 Aug

I am in the middle of Ravellenics 2012 so this post will be brief, but helpful. I have tried to understand how to do Kitchener stitch before, but I ended up doing my own thing in a weird fusion of the stitch. Well, I’m making these socks by Patons and I not only want to medal for making them, but I want them to look medal-worthy. I searched for a better tutorial (again) and of course, Very Pink Knits came to my rescue. SO EASY!

Just remember:

(bottom needle) Knit, off, purl
(top needle) Purl, off, knit
Repeat

My socks are going to blow the “judges” away!

Back to work!
-Stacy C.

Hard Lesson Learned

16 Jul

Anyone who works with yarn knows it comes in balls. A lot of times, when a yarn maker starts out, they tend to buy skeins of machine wound yarn. Well, what happens when that skein “vomits” so bad near the end of it’s wound life you need to “rewind” it? Or when you buy an amazing hank of yarn from, say, a wool festival and you want to use it but it’s not wound? You have to get to work and wind that sucker!

If you’re like me, you might not have a ball winder and are coming to find some kind of help (and possibly solace) for your yarn predicament. There are two things you can do for that yarn to get into working shape, wind by hand or by ball winder.

The first method I suggest for small skeins of yarn, like a mostly used skein that is getting tangled near the end of a project or one that is only a couple hundred yards long. This link from wikihow shows you a couple of great methods for using your hands. Funny story how I learned the limits of hand winding. As you know, I went to a festival and bought some lovely local yarns. Well, most of them were not wound and I decided I would wind 500 yds of fingering lace on my own… Do you know that it took me two and a half days, of 8-9 hours of effort each day to get that hand untangled after successfully winding about 75 yds?! It did. And It was really hard. But I loved that yarn so much I worked through it. But I told myself, “NEVER AGAIN!”

The next method is THE way to handle yarn that is being ripped from large projects, multiple skein project or for those lace weight hanks that seem small (refer to ball winding fiasco above). I decided it was time to check a ball winder out for myself and was able to borrow one from a friend. The one I used is from KnitPicks.comand is very affordable.

A two-in-one handy tool!

What’s cool is it has an option for either hand holding or using a table clamp. (No, I wasn’t paid for saying this, but it would have been nice if I had.)

Tension is THE key for either method. If you’re “rewinding” yarn from a frogged project or the last couple yds of a project, you’re find. But if it’s from a brand new hank, don’t go all slacker (pun intended) on winding. That fiasco mentioned before? The tangles from hell happened when I tried to just put the hand on my shoulders like a purse – dumbest idea EVER! While I still don’t have a swift (it’s on my christmas wish list), I was able to find ways around the house to give me the necessary tension, you’d be surprised what you can find. Check it out:

Rocking to audiobook,
-Stacy C.

Giveaway and the Springtime Bandit Finale!

12 Jun

The time has come my knitting peeps, to talk of many things – but I’m done on the Springtime Bandit! Almost. This is the last installment about this pattern and my adventures in advanced lace knitting.

Let me start off by pointing out the edge chart shows both RS and WS rows, which means you have to pay attention to EACH row. (Really, you get the hang of it after a couple of WS rows. Just don’t  get lazy!) The reading of the pattern is still the right side only before you have to go “backward” once you get to the middle (green) square. Let’s take a look at the chart, shall we?

The mighty third and ending chart

Doesn’t look intimidating AT ALL. I decided from the beginning of this chart to show it who’s boss and I took some strategy methods to make this crazy chart portion one of the least mistake and problem sections of this project. How did I do this? So glad you asked.

First, I wrote on every row of the chart and marked the K stitches so I wouldn’t count incorrectly in the “moment” of the row. Look closely at the first few rows (you can click on it for a closer look):

“Write” out the pattern

You will see that I wrote a number in the center of the K stitches and ran a line through the rest. This helped me know that I had to do so many K stitches before moving on to the next type of stitch. When you do this, be sure to use a non-black ink pen (pencil runs when highlighted and is hard to see), ensuring you don’t confusion your K shorthand with the actual pattern. Then, I wrote on the side of the main chart how many stitches are in each section before and after the pattern repeat (sill 14 stitches for repeat). This helped me know when I was getting to the end of repeating and needed to have enough stitches for the last portion of the row. I did all of these notations before I even started this chart because I knew I would get overwhelmed and wouldn’t want to start and stop between knitting rows.

Another helpful tip was to use a two color highlighter system. I highlighted the row I was on alternating colors making sure I didn’t confuse what row I was on by accidentally looking at the one below. One color was for the RS and one was for the WS. Of course after I did this chart I found out about a new discovery - highlighter tape. I was floored! You can put down this piece of tape, then pick it up and move it up a line. I really want to try this for next time.

To finish out, I steam ironed it which worked wonders with the cotton. I’ve washed it since I’ve ironed it and it really maintained its shape. Look in awe at the end result!

FINISHED!

The Prize

(GIVEAWAY!) To celebrate the end and for my loyal readers, I have a giveaway! I’m giving away a large skein of Lily Cotton, Sugar ‘n Cream Twists. This skein is 603 yards of cotton possibilities and with this size you can make a shawlette or scarf and still have enough left over for a washcloth! This giveaway is open until July 9, 2012, at 11:59 p.m. To enter leave a comment telling me your favorite lace pattern and whether you love or hate lace. For extra entries, follow me on twitter or retweet a post (leave another comment letting me know your Twitter handle). I will announce the winner on July 10, 2012.

Loving my lace fever,
-Stacy C.

Tackling Lace (and the Springtime Bandit) Part 2

5 Jun

Hello again boys and girls,

I hope my last post helped you with basic lace chart knowledge and/or the tricky Springtime Bandit. In this post I’m going to cover the second chart (aka body chart). This is where the fun happens and where it starts to get a little harder. (How could it get harder?! It does, simmer down, you can do this.) I will say, for a three charter, at least it gets incrementally tougher and not all in your face at once.

At this point, I suggest placing a stitch marker after the green square (halfway point of the row). This let me know if I had properly done the row to that point. There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling out 100+ stitches when you get to the end of a row verses 50. Another way to help with pulling out stitches is a lifeline. There’s a lot of different ways to use/place a lifeline and this video from verypinkknits and article from knittingdaily.com should help. I’m not a big fan for many reasons and prefer the stitch marker method; but I offer all options to my readers to keep down murder rates of  lace and/or others with needles.

Look at the progress!

The body chart starts off with 67 stitches and repeat the chart (12 rows) four times. Once again, this chart reads right side only, go backward at the mid-row point, and only shows RS rows. The first round of the chart is simple because there isn’t a pattern repeat. When you get to the 14 stitch repeat portion, you will read it this way:

Row 1: k2, yo, *k5, vov, k5, sk2togp, repeat from * until the last 12 stitches, this brings you to the midpoint. Going “backward”, yo, k5, vov, k5, *sk2togp, k5, vov, k5, repeat from * until the last 2 stitches

Remember, as you are doing this chart, you will increase the number of repeats for each pattern round. By the time you get to the last chart repeat you will be doing the pattern repeat five times before you continue to the middle stitch. This is the way it’s supposed to work because it needs to grow to fan out for the triangle shape.

One other thing, If you look at the left-hand side of the picture, you can see my chart is marked up. It might seem overwhelming, but it really helps you keep on task. As I (and another reader) found out, going over the chart with this kind of intense care helps you see where you might be reading the chart wrong. I never like to mark things up, books, handouts, worksheets, etc. (I know, that’s what they’re there for, duh!). I like to keep my stuff look nice and new for as long as possible; however, I decided this was for the greater good. Once I marked the pattern in my own secret code, it was as if the pattern came alive and took root in my brain! Using a charts only pattern really leaves a lot of room for the reader to skim over the right way to read the project or misread a key element. An extra “tip,” if you’re working from a book, take a photocopy and mark the duplicate up. Your book still stays nice and spiffy – ta da! (Geeky, I know.)

At the end of this section you should have 167 stitches – no arguments. It’s a requirement to go to the next phase.

Finishing up the Father’s Day Gifts,
-Stacy C.

Tackling Lace (and the Springtime Bandit), Part 1

24 May

I have been taken over by lace. It started out as an interest, quickly escalated to a war, then became an obsession of wills. The plus side of living in the Northeast is that you can wear scarves, “shawlettes” and bandanas and not melt after five minutes in the middle of Spring/Summer. I came to the conclusion my wardrobe needs these additions and, of course, I would make them. I decided to use my Plymouth Covington 2035 Yarn for the Springtime Bandit.

The pattern lists that it’s intermediate. Let me tell you, it’s ALL LIES! Don’t get me wrong, I love this pattern now, but it’s very advanced. Here are my reasons, it’s a chart only pattern – actually, it’s THREE charts, four sections, no written instructions for the body and the cast on is tricky. I wasn’t able to find a pattern tutorial all in one place and spent hours researching and figuring out the best way to get the desired result. I felt I owed it to others who follow to make an FAQ and a lace tutorial (of sorts). Don’t be scared away, I’ve done the hard part, figuring it out.

To give you my lace credentials, You might remember my wrap from the Juliet Scarf pattern or my Skinny Lace Scarf from the Cashsilk Fern Scarf pattern. “I’ve done lace before, nothing to worry about,” I assured myself. When I put this pattern in my queue I didn’t worry about going over the instructions. After frogging a different project, I turned to this one and the nightmare began…

It’s the baby start of a Springtime Bandit bandana!

Let’s start at casting on (it really does have to start here). The cast on is called Provisional (or invisible, or loop) Cast on. I chose to do the crochet chain method and found the tutorial from Jimmy Bean’s Wool extremely helpful and very easy. You can also do the method where using a knitting needle (check out Knittinghelp.com‘s video). Either way doesn’t matter, as long as you do it consistently and end up taking out the extra yarn.

When you get near the end of casting on, it reads, “K2, rotate work and pick up 1 st in each of 3 garter ridges,” You pick up from the left side on the garter ridge “knots.” The work goes from vertical to horizontal. The reason you have to cast on this way is because the edging of the bandit looks similar to the way this cast on looks. It keeps the shawl looking the same all the way around.

Now that you’ve got that down, let’s go on to the first chart. (If you never read a chart only pattern before, the best way to describe what you’re doing is reading a map. You have a legend, symbols/pictures and a distinct way of reading them. For more on how to read them, check out this Knitty post or Wendy knits ‘ post). These chart pattern read more advanced than tutorial charts you typically find. You read from right to left and when you get to the little green box, you read the same line from left to right, working “backwards.”

Example, line 1 reads: K2, yo, K1, yo, K1 (you still have three stitches left, now you go backwards), yo, K1, yo, K2

You only do the middle stitch once before you start working backwards. This chart only shows the right side rows, read page 2 “Notes on the Chart” section. Once you finish this chart, congratulations! You’ve finished a quarter of the way of the project. Keep going!

Cooking up part 2,
-Stacy C.

Take THAT You Muggle Knitters! :-p

24 Apr

I get a hard time from friends for my yarn crafting – shocking, I know. But it really irks me at times, I can do something they can’t and it’s like a beautiful work of art! Don’t hate, Stockin-ate! :-p

Well, I found something I can do that’s not only useful, but can only be easily done with knitting needles that those muggle-crafters can’t do! What could this possibly be, you ask?

Restringing a hoodie!

*Crickets*

You don’t seem duly impressed, but you really should be. For those that are awing, I applause your insight.

To better get you on my inspiring page, imagine this: Have you ever had a drawstring hoodie that for some unknown reason – or worse, you see it happening and can’t stop it – suddenly has two feet of string on one side and a gaping hole? Well, fear not any longer as I have the perfect solution!

What you need:
14″ knitting needle size 6 or smaller
Ability to tie knots
Nimble fingers

The first step is to take the drawstring completely out (don’t panic, it will work).
Then you tie one end of the drawstring around the base of the needle taking care that the knot is tight enough not too fall off the back end.

Step one

Next, insert the needle on one side of the hoodie and scrunch up the hood fabric all the way onto the needle (hence why you need a long needle).

Step two

Pull the needle through the hood fabric tanking care to pull gently so as not to force the knot off the needle and/or snag on the little strings inside.

Voilá the hoodie is restrung, untie the knot; and for the symmetrical freaks, like myself, adjust the string to even length and be amazed at your McGiver abilities.

Voilá

Not the most invigorating post, but this was really a two part DIY and stick-it-to-the-yarn-bullies. To all you mockers, I’ve got skills McGiver ain’t even seen – so don’t come asking to use my needles when you need help! (But really, I totally would because if someone needs my needles I would feel super cool.) Hope this DIY was not only entertaining but useful.

Off to figure out how one can use a circular needle to cook a turkey…
-Stacy C.

Felt it up! (No, it’s not Feeling up)

30 Mar

It’s National Cleavage day and I couldn’t resist the title! Spring is right around the corner, this seems to be the PERFECT season to felt. We have eggs, flowers, purses, bowls, etc., the list goes on and is cute. Felting is one of those yarn projects that both knitting and crochet can do, so why not share a post for this month? There are different types of felting, felting sheets, rove felting and wet felting. We’re going to focus on wet wool felting (because that’s how it works for knitting and crocheting, we’ll talk other animal fibers later) and will refer to it from now on as “felting” – I hear by decree.

Through hours of trial and error, and following the scientific method (in the yarn world), I have come to the conclusion that four things, in order of importance, are necessary for proper felting: wool content, agitation, soap and hot water. You might think it interesting that hot water is at the end of the list. Let’s go through some of my felting projects to further explain:

Not the best picture, you get the idea

Mocassins for Him: I made these slippers for my dad last year, and they were the first thing I ever felted. I used Patons Classic Wool in deep olive and I can tell you, putting something I knit into the wash for the first time was so nerve racking! I used my top loading washer, some detergent, a couple pairs of dark colored pants, and went through two small loaded washes to get them to the size I wanted. When they came out, I was afraid they were too small and was worried about maintaining the shape. I had shoe forms to put into the slippers but they were too big and wouldn’t fit into my felted slipper. I decided to put them on the outside of my boots to get them to a bigger man size and it worked! My dad likes them and wears them to this day. Making sure to shape your felted item while it dries is important to remember, don’t go through all that trouble just to let it shrink dry.

Felted Fortune Cookies: I don’t yet have a picture for these because I still have to sew them into cookies. I didn’t get around to it before this post because I’ve been so annoyed with this project! I used the same wool as the slippers and tried the stove top method because I had two cookies and didn’t want to put them into the washer (I was trying to be eco). Let me tell you just stick to the washing machine method, it IS more eco.

Let’s begin this sage, I brought a large pot to a rolling boil and stuck my wool into it, then stood there and stirred it for twenty minutes and not much happened. The water got darker and the wool kind of got a little fuzzy. By fuzzy, I mean the look wool gets when it’s splashed with cold water. I decided to see if the rolling boil would help the wool, maybe my spoon was getting in the way. After 45 minutes, several gallons of water and maybe a millimeter of felting later, I decided to ramp this puppy up. I added some dish soap (the water was “pure” up until this point) got out my potato masher and went to town (as much as you can in boiling water) and I started to see some results!

After another 30 minutes the cookies had gotten smaller – by about .25 inches… I quickly realized, it was the agitation but I couldn’t produce enough to make it go faster without burning myself. Stirring isn’t enough agitation – mashing was the trick – I had to physically beat up the wool in hot water which isn’t really good for the skin, you know? I finally put my cookies into the washing machine and saw that it does more than stir, it is a hurricane of water movement. THAT is why you get such fantastic results in the washing machine – some times too good if you’re not careful. By the time I got to this point, I was tired of even looking at those cookies, just like you are of reading about this drama.

Al Green's "So in Love with You" keeps playing in my head

Fine Feather Cap: Yes, THE hat! This story begins with using the Lion Brand Yarn Wool-Ease, a wonderful acrylic and wool blend, but NOT made for felting. I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work and I read the care instructions. But it has wool in it, I thought it might be possible. I did some research online and read how other people were told it doesn’t felt either, but it did for them. This is what I discovered – it doesn’t work for brand new, non-beat up wool. When I went back to these LIARS (it’s what it felt like after five failed felted loads, but I did get my too big jeans down to a wearable size!) I realized these ladies wore their favorite items almost daily by the time it went into the wash and felted. This causes me to believe if you beat the CRAP out of a low wool blend, you might have a shot of getting it to felt eons later. There’s more to this story in the last post, but to save time I will skip to the end.

Gonna shake these peacock feathers!

I finally got wonderful results using Patons Classic Wool in Aran; Red Heart’s Stitch Nation Full O’ Sheep in Passion Fruit, Mediterranean and Thyme; and this mystery yellow wool I got from a fellow yarn maker. I stuck to my tried and true method and as you can see, it was well worth all the hard work. I was so in love with the end result, I let the cap felt dry on my head! When I had to take it off for bed, I let it further dry on a plastic playground ball.

Even though some of my stories might seem daunting and appear to make felting not worth the effort, I’ve taken some of the tears out of it for you. If you haven’t ever tried it, think of this as a tutorial in what to avoid, and what to pay attention to, with your projects. I found a great tutorial by Lion Brand Yarn in the basics of this method (that reaffirms some of my follies too!). Also, for sticking with this post, I’m doing a giveaway! One luck reader will get a skein of Lion Brand Yarn Fisherman’s Wool in Natural Brown, with over 450 yds you’re sure to get a good project (or two!) out of it. To enter this great contest, leave a comment – for an extra entry, follow me on twitter (leave an additional comment to alert me that is why you followed me.) Entries must be received by Friday, April 20, 2012 and I will randomly select and announce the winner on Saturday, April 21, 2012.

Yes, I’m buying friends, but you’re ok with that because you might get more yarn, :-p
Stacy C.

Flower Power! Basic Crochet Flowers – Pattern and Tutorial

27 Feb

If you’ve caught on from the last couple of posts, I’ve rediscovered crochet. Somehow, after diligent knitting, I’m having no trouble working my hook! I would be a professional hooker if I could be – pun intended!

Check out this beautiful necklace with a flower accent. (For sale in my Etsy Shop.)

But I’m having a blast making gifts and adding to my Etsy Shop.

While designing my crochet necklaces, I also discovered how to create my own crochet flowers using some basic steps I’ve seen repeated in patterns.

There are a bazillion patterns and ways to make crochet flowers making it confusing as a beginner, or just looking for a simple design. I tried looking at videos but didn’t get how to make them until someone broke down a pattern for me. After a couple tries, with several patterns, I’ve found it’s really fun to make them any way I want. I know this is just one way to make a crochet flower but it is the most popular way. If you want to create your own, below are basic pattern tutorials on how whip up your own accent piece:

Small Crochet Flower 

The smaller flower

For the Center: Chain 3-4 stitches
Slip stitch into the first stitch (making a loop)
SC 5-6 times into the center of the the loop
Slip stitch into the front stitch of the first SC

For the petals: (this is where you can have fun)
All steps done in one repeat occur inside the same stitch
*slip stitch or sc into the next stitch
(if you slip stitch, you can sc next for extra petal definition)
chain 1-2 stitches
SC or HDC 2-3 times
chain again (same number as the first chain)
slip or sc (again, what you did at the beginning of the petal)
repeat from * to the last loop
slip stitch into the original first stitch tie off

Large Crochet Flower 

Small and large buddies

For the Center: Start similar to the small flower, but add 1-2 stitches more for a larger size

Outer Loop Section: this section builds the height for your bigger flower
After you slip stitch into the first SC, *chain 1-2 stitches
Skip a stitch then SC into the next stitch, repeat from * to the end
Slip stitch into the first stitch of the chained row

For the petals: very similar to the smaller version, but you use bigger stitches, again for height
All steps done in one repeat occur inside the same stitch
*slip stitch or sc into the next stitch
(if you slip stitch, you can sc next for extra petal definition)
chain 2-3 stitches
HDC, DC  or TC 2-3 times
chain again (same number as the first chain)
slip or sc (again, what you did at the beginning of the petal)
repeat from * to the last loop
slip stitch into the original first stitch tie off

Extra Notes and Tips:
Don’t worry about gauge or hook size, use what’s comfortable for you. But, if you want a really small crochet flower, the smaller the needle, the smaller the result. The same goes in reverse for large flowers and needle size. I typically use a G (4mm) for the small and a 7 (4.5mm) for a large.

The thing that really got me, was making the petals in the same stitch. You will have 4-7 stitches made inside the stitch from a previous row. Don’t worry, that’s what gives the petals their shape.

This is my practice before moving on to needle tatting! I might start with crochet tatting first…

Yarn Dreaming up a Storm,
-Stacy C.

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