Author Archives: Knit-O-Matic

PREORDER Pompom Quarterly 28

PomPom Quarterly 28 Spring 2019

The new Spring issue of Pom Pom Quarterly will be available and ship February 28th! This issue includes pretty crochets as well as knits that will carry you from the end of winter into the heart of spring.

NEW Laine no. 7

Laine no. 7 – Kouta

  • 140 pages
  • an interview with Veera Välimäki
  • a long-format story about The Fibre Co.
  • my story by Emma Robinson of The Woolly Mammoth
  • a Q&A with Annie Rowden
  • recipes
  • a travel guide to London featuring the best spots to stay, eat and shop.
  • 12 knitting patterns from a talented group of designers: Lærke Bisschop-Larsen, Kiyomi Burgin, Aleks Byrd, Kristin Drysdale, Carol Feller, Whitney Hayward, Natasja Hornby, Dami Hunter, Renate Kamm, Meiju K-P, Nancy Marchant, Alejandra Pont, and Stephen West. 
  • See Projects Online
  • See Project on Ravelry

OPEN Family Day!

We are OPEN all day on Family Day Monday, February 18th, from 11 am to 6pm!

Photo: Tin Can Knits

Rye

I’ve always loved these simple socks, and they knit up lickety-split with worsted weight yarn and 3.75mm needles. Rye makes a great first sock for beginners or something quick & easy for more experienced knitters (the designers even have an online sock tutorial for sock newbies). So in honour of Family Day, I say let there be socks!

Women’s socks should require about 1 skein/100g of and of the yarns listed below, for men’s socks I’d get a second skein (or make them shorter). Socks tend to be stretchy, so an Adult small isn’t really all that small and fits my size 8.5 feet.

If you don’t like double pointed needles never fear, you can try using some super short circular needles from Chiaogoo. The 9″ length is good for children’s sizes and average women’s size socks. The 12″ circulars will work with men’s socks, and women’s shoe sizes 10 & up (or if your feet are 12″ in circumference or larger).

Size

  • Baby (Toddler, Child, Adult S, M, L) 
  • Foot (adjustable): 4 (6, 7.5, 9, 10, 11.25) inches
  • Leg (adjustable): 4 (6.5, 8, 9.5, 10.5, 11.5) inches 
  • Cuff: 5 (5.75, 6.5, 7.25, 8.25, 9) inches around 

Yarn Suggestions

All of these yarns are 100% machine washable. The Manos Alegria Grande is made with merino wool and a bit of nylon, so they will hold up better than a yarn made with 100% wool. If you want to really wear these sock hard, like in winter boots, I suggest you go with a yarn that has a good amount of nylon in it, like Berroco Vintage or Berroco Comfort Print. If they are intended as house socks any of the following suggestions will work.

Materials


Intro to Socks Class

Details

Skill level: intermediate beginner (after hats & mitts), Instructor: Liane, 2  session class (4 hours)Whether you’re just up for something different or you would like to learn to make socks for the first time, this class is a great place to begin. Here you will learn how to use double pointed needles, how to make short-row toes and heels, a mitred alternative to the heel-flap of the traditional cuff-down sock, and how to bind off with elasticity. Materials not included, but we sell everything you need and you receive 10% off all materials during your class.

Materials Required

Yarn: 1 of any of the following:

Needles: 3.75mm/US5 – 7.5″ double pointed needles

Next Class: Monday March 25 & April 1: 6:30 – 8:30

Yarnsperiments & A Hack

On our Last Date I promised to update you on my yarnsperiments, and I have lots to share! I originally played around with holding 2 strands of Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk together, and since then I moved on to see how it acted when I held it with a heavier yarn. The concept is to hold a light, airy yarn like a brushed alpaca or mohair with a heavier, more conventional yarn. The heavier yarn stabilizes the fabric, giving it body, and density. The airy yarn gives it a soft, all-over halo (please note: the fabric can only be as soft as the fibre. A downy alpaca will continue to be soft, and itchy mohair will still be scratchy).

And so, I offer up my experiments …. I’ve used the same 2 yarns throughout: Cascade 220 Superwash Sport and Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk. The Cascade is a sport-weight machine washable merino wool, it is super soft and comes in 50g/125m skeins (perfect for experimenting). The Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk is a worsted weight brushed alpaca that looks kind of like mohair but feels like happiness. It comes in 25g/140m skeins. Both yarns are 100% natural fibres.

On the C Train

My first foray into this combo was On the C Train, a pattern that was designed to be made with 2 strands of yarn held together. It’s made in a K1P1 rib (which I like to call ‘stupid stitch’, which while tedious to knit, makes for an elastic fabric that fits well. I ran short on my base yarn, the Cascade, so the size is a bit on the small side (slouchy on a 21″ head) – all of my modifications are in Our Ravelry Notes. 

The finished fabric almost looks felted, I think because of the colours:

  • The yarns were a dead-on colour match, there’s just about no distinction between the two when they were knitted up. Of course, dye lots can shift colours around, but this combo on this day for this project were twins.
  • Both yarns are solid colours. They are not heathered, so there isn’t any differentiation in the colour, it’s flat.
  • The colour is dark and doesn’t reflect much light. (Yes, yarn can reflect light, and it affects how you perceive the colour. The darker the colour is, the less depth and the flatter it’ll look). The halo of the alpaca also prevents light from being reflected off the merino.

Anyway, it looks really cool! It doesn’t feel remotely felted, it’s soft, extremely comfortable, and has an all-over lightly fuzzy texture. This hat could look really cool in a black on black combo.

Materials

Chunkeanie

Chunkeanie is a pattern we’ve made before, and I’ve always really liked the aesthetic. When I’m knitting it I feel really meh about it, but once it’s done it just looks amazing! It especially looks good on, which is important, since it’s a hat, not a tea cozy. One caveat, I feel like the pattern runs small, their size medium fits my 21″ head. The texture is still soft, and very comfortable. I like this particular yarn combo knitted on the 5mm/US8 needles, it blooms nicely, although I think the brim could be knitted on 4.5mm/US7 needles.

This colour combo with the light greys looks amazeballs! The light grey of the Cascade merino is a bit more of a cool colour, and the alpaca is warmer. They ended up working well together, with the fuzzy alpaca becoming the dominant colour. This is an interesting phenomenon that I hadn’t actually noticed until now. I’m glad I photographed the hats next to their constituent yarns, you can kind of see which colour is more dominant when they are neighbours. Cool! I just learned something new!

The fabric of this hat looks a lot less flat and more fuzzy than felted, probably for a few reasons:

  • Both of the yarns’ colours are heathered, which give it a bit more depth of colour.
  • In the purple alpaca yarn the silk and alpaca content are almost indistinguishable, the entire strand looks the same. In the light grey the silk (the carrier yarn or core) took the dye in a different way (silk does this, it’s fickle) and it is lighter than the alpaca (you can see the silk shining through in the picture below). This little hit of colour runs through the stitches, randomly creating little highlights. (One of the advantages of knitting holding 2 strands together is that the colour distribution is completely random. When the yarns are already pre-spun together you lose that added depth of colour.)
  • The value (the lightness or darkness of a colour) of the colours is much lighter than the purple hat. The dark value of the purple hat added to the flatness of the colour. With this hat, the lightness of the colour creates a greater depth of colour. I can still see details in the yarn, like the stitches and the plies. Even though our mind doesn’t tend to register those little lines, they create micro shadows which in turn creates contrast and adds more depth to the overall colour.

Anyway, this hat-speriment was definitely a win. It looks really good on me, and I think I’m going to have to make myself a second – otherwise I’ll swipe the store sample.

Materials

Chunkeanie

The grey hat worked out so well that I decided to try a different colour and make one for my mom. My mother has a little mini head, so I opted to try a smaller needle size and went down to a 4mm/US6 for the ribbing and 4.5mm/US7 for the crown. The tension was fine, but I definitely feel like the 5mm/US8 was a prettier tension.

The first hat (purple) was a dark colour, the second (grey) was a light colour, and this one was in between. It looks like the fuzzy yarn (the alpaca) is still coming out as the dominant colour in the fabric. The alpaca also seems to look patchier in this hat, which is an optical illusion because it is exactly the same as the other two hats. This is because of the special things going on with this particular colour combo:

  • The Cascade merino is a heathered colour, so it isn’t as flat as the purple. But the heathering is only one colour, white, and it isn’t as complex or have the depth of colour that is in the light grey, which has black and white in it. (You’ll have to take my word on this, my camera skills haven’t made it this far.)
  • The Cascade merino is a bit lighter than the alpaca, while in the other combos this was reversed. The base is showing through a lot more than the other hats, which look more uniform. Light colours project and pop out to the eye, while dark colours recede.
  • Like with the grey hat, the silk hasn’t taken the dye exactly the same as the alpaca and is peeking through, creating some small highlights.

Materials

Knit Hack: Alternate Cable Cast-On

The Chunkeanie pattern calls for an Alternate Cable Cast On, which you do not have to do to make this hat, but I like trying new things, seeing how they work, why the designer chose to use it, etc. The Alternate Cable Cast On is a great way to cast on for a ribbed edge of K1P1 or K2P2 and is a much, much, much easier alternative to a Tubular Cast On. Like, SO MUCH.

So if it’s so much easier, why does it need a hack? Good question. When you do this cast on you’re basically alternating making a knit stitch, then a purl stitch, a simple enough concept – in theory. In theory, my brain should be able to pay attention to knits and purls and knits and purls. In THEORY. In reality, I found myself having a nice little rendez-vous with my learning disabilities. I was constantly screwing up the sequence of the knits and purls and having to rip it out.

How I Mastered this Cast On

Stitch Markers. Get them, use them, they’re your little plastic friends! I placed a stitch marker after every 10 stitches, and before proceeding more than a few stitches past that I went back and checked to make sure the last 10 stitches were correct. Once I confirmed that I was on track, I moved on to the next 10.

Read the Stitches. The other thing I had to do was learn to read what the knit and purl stitches looked like. You can’t check to see if your stitches are correct if you don’t know what they are. The best way is to just practice casting them on and looking closely to see how the knit looks compared to the purl. To my eye, the knit is a long bar that sticks out and the purl is bead or a bump that recedes. I tried taing a picture and labelling it for you, but I don’t know if it’s super helpful – people all conceptualize things in different ways, so it’s best just to study your stitches closely and get familiar with them in your own terms.

Pay Attention to Your Join. This is where reading your stitches again comes in handy. Because the sequence of the stitches is what this cast-on is all about, I joined my stitches by threading the yarn tail on a darning needle and pulling it through the other side. I don’t know why, but I found that once joined my stitches had gotten turned around to the other side, and my round was starting with a purl. At this point I didn’t really care why or how this was happening, I just wanted to get on with it and make a hat, so I adapted and started my ribbing on a purl.

Conclusion

OMG, that was SO. MANY. WORDS. I’m sorry if it’s too many words, too much explanation. Please feel free to take it or leave it, or take some and leave the rest. My conclusions are thus:

  • The hats look really good!
  • I like the yarn combination, it worked out well.
  • The grey hat made me the happiest, but the purple was cool.
  • I now know more than I did before, and this exploration was definitely a worthwhile use of time and resources.

I’ve already moved on to my next project, I’m knitting a Nuvem with the Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk as a straight-up single stand. I think it’ll make for a super cosy wrap for spring, and so far it looks great – but more to follow!

Exploring Brushed Alpaca

Last time we chatted I was showing off my latest project, Paprika, but like all accomplishments, a bit of work went into it before it happened. Before starting, I swatched … I know, you hate swatching, you avoid swatching, swatching is gross, swatching is boring, blech. I think I understand how a dentist feels, telling their patients to floss – it’s a Sisyphean task. Instead of listing all the important (aka. boring, grown-up) reasons to swatch I think I’m just going to share ….

I once read that designer Veronique Avery learned how to knit, and design, by making swatches EXCLUSIVELY for a year. That’s right a YEAR of swatching. When I read that, I thought “Wow, this lady is single-minded.” But you know what, I bet by the end of that exercise she REALLY understood hand knitted fabric. She understood how different fibres, different tensions, and different stitch patterns behaved.

Designers understand that swatching is knowledge. But swatching is more than just the way to make sure your project is going to fit. Swatching is a way to experiment with yarn, explore it’s potential, see how it behaves. It’s a way to decide how you like it, how you don’t like it. Will it do what you want it to do, will it look like you want it to? Most people remind you that swatching is a way to avoid being disappointed, but it can also be a way to find new things you like!

Before I started my Paprika, I experimented with the yarn I was thinking about using, Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk ….

Initially, I was thinking about making the sweater with some colour. I grabbed 3 warm colours and cast on a little cowl based on the Snap hat I made a little while ago. Yup, that’s right, it’s a swatch AND a project. Squares swatches are ok, but not so much fun. To start with I was playing with colour, so the tension didn’t matter, and I made something that made me happy – an actual garment (which is what the end product will be, anyway).

I initially thought I’d be into this colour combo, but once it was done it was full of NOPE (at least for this sweater)! Such is life. But I did find out how the yarn knitted at a new tension, what it looked like on both sides of the fabric, how some of the colours looked combined, and I have a great little cowl! (all of the project details are in my Ravelry Project Notes)

Materials

Following up on my colour-speriment, I thought maybe I’d rest my eyes and try a neutral ombre/colour gradient. So I made a cowl to swatch the tension and colours. The fabric is lovely, the colours blended well, and my swatch, a cowl, is lovely (an added bonus). But as I thought about the sweater, I decided simple was better, and that figuring out when to change the colours in the sweater felt like too much work for me. Sometimes the KISS (Keep It Simple Sister) principle is extremely effective!

Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk is a great yarn to play around with colour gradations and colour combining. The strands stick together and the texture blends nicely. As far as a swatch, it gave me my tension information, helped me narrow down my colour concept, and its a really nice, light, airy cowl! I haven’t written the cowl up as a formal pattern, but all the directions and details (needle sizes, yarn colours) are in my Ravelry Project Notes.

Materials

Following the second cowl (and a couple other swatches that I really did not enjoy, and I pitched the results) I learned a lot:

  • The yarn is really nice and soft, very cuddly and cloud-like
  • It’s quite versatile, it adapts to a whole bunch of different tensions
  • I like combining the colours in some projects but not in others
  • If I’m going to make an ombre sweater, it is best made from the top-down (so I don’t have to think too much about colour placement, matching the arms to the body, etc.)
  • I now have a reference for how some of the colours look combined

And of course, the most important thing I learned from the process, was that I really enjoyed working with this yarn, and I wanted to keep exploring it in different ways. At the risk of sounding like the final paragraph in a serial mystery novel … I did, and the results were unexpected! But You’ll have to wait for the next instalment to find out more.

SALE Cascade 220 Superwash Sport

SALE Cascade 220 Superwash Sport (select colours)

While supplies last, select colours of Cascade 220 Superwash Sport are 20% Off! These colours won’t be restocked, so be sure to get enough for your projects.

Cascade 220 Superwash Sport is a super soft, 100% merino superwash yarn. It’s great for kids and babies (I frequently use it for my niece and nephew), and the 50g skeins make it a nice choice for colourwork.

1 skein is usually enough for a baby hat, 2 for an adult hat or mitts/gloves, 4 for a scarf or infinity cowl, 8 for a baby blanket (approx 30″ x 30″). It’s also perfect for blankets and afghans that require a lot of colours, like those by Attic 24.

  • 100% Merino Wool
  • 50g/125m (136yds)
  • Sport Weight
  • 3.75mm/US5 to 4mm/US6 needles
  • 22 to 24 sts = 4″ (10cm)
  • Machine wash cool, tumble dry low.
  • Made in Peru
  • Project ideas from Ravelry

SHOP ONLINE

NEW Mineville Merino 2ply Bulky

Mineville Merino 2ply Bulky

I’m always on the lookout for beautiful yarns, especially if they’re affordable (’cause what’s the point if you can’t actually buy it?), and Mineville’s Merino 2ply Bulky is exactly that! It’s a super soft and silky superwash Merino wool, hand dyed by in Nova Scotia by Emily of The Mineville Wool Project. The base yarn is a loosely spun 2 plies, so it hasn’t been deprived of all of its squish.

Because it’s soft and washable, its great for hats, mitts, scarves, cowls, baby blankets and afghans, sweaters …anything that’s going to touch your skin. It’s also a bulky weight yarn works up on a 6mm/US10 needle/hook, so its great for anyone (like beginners) who wants to see some progress in their project.

  • 100% Superwash Merino Wool
  • 100g/100m (109yds)
  • 12 sts = 4″/10cm
  • 6mm/US10 needles
  • Machine Wash, lay flat to dry
  • Made in Nova Scotia, Canada