Category Archives: Knit Hack

KNIT HACK Nuvem Needles

Nuvem

We’ve made a Nuvem for the store before (see our last Nuvem), and I thought it would be a good travel project for my holiday in California. After I wound up the skein I looked down and thought: “Oh crud, what have I done?! That is a dump-truck sized ball of skinny yarn, how am I ever going to get through it?” Well, I’m happy to report that my moment of project panic abated once I started knitting, I got used to working with the skinny yarn fairly quickly, and it was a good travel project. I’m not a laceweight kind of person, but the Wollmeise Lace has a lot of body to it and is easy to hold on to and work with. The colour is beautiful too, I choose a saturated teal blue (Neptun).

Materials

Notes

If you want to you can make a Nuvem with fingering weight yarn. To make a smaller, thicker version of the wrap, you can use about 800m of fingering weight yarn and 4mm/US6 needles.

 

Blog Nuvem 1.jpg

Nuvem Hack

Nuvem is a fairly simple project, there are just a few obstacles to getting it set up. The first is the cast-on, which is unusual, but not hard once you watch a video or follow a tutorial (which are included in the pattern, so not to worry, no hack needed). The second is the needle situation. The project is worked from the center out, but it’s knit in an oval, so you need to use TWO circular needles to do this. It’s the “two circulars at the same time” technique, which some people use instead of the magic loop technique. Don’t worry, it isn’t scary, when you use this method you only need to work with one needle at a time, the second is just hangin’ out, on hold. Normally people use the two circulars method to knit things with a small circumference, like a sock or a hat, and it’s easy to distinguish the two needles from each other. With a larger project like the Nuvem, it’s a bit harder to see what you are doing.

Normally people use the two circulars method to knit things with a small circumference, like a sock or a hat, and it’s easy to distinguish the two needles from each other. With a larger project like the Nuvem, it’s a bit harder to see what you are doing, and which needle is which. The pattern suggests you use two different types of needles (ie. one wood, one metal), but I don’t love this solution because I find that my tension is different on different types of needles. Additionally, you can’t take the exact size of you needles for granted, the manufacturing of each company is different. My solution was to use two sets of the same needle (Addi Click interchangeable bamboo – always great for flying) and I colour coded the needle tips. How does one colour code Knitting needle tips? Our method has to be bright, customizable, easy to see, sturdy, resilient, and also removable – I used Nail Polish.

Blog Nuvem 5.jpg

Life Hack: I keep a cheap collection of bright, distinct colours of nail polish around the house and/or office. Mine came from the dollar store and cost $3. They don’t have to be good polishes, you’ll never use them on your nails, and you don’t have to take special care of them, but they are extremely useful for labeling and organizing things. I am especially fond of colour coding my keys with them, and you can also write on white polish.It’s removable with nail polish remover, which can also be obtained cheaply at the dollar store or drug store. 

Blog Nuvem 3

Painting Your Needles

  • Paint your needles FIRST. Do not cast on until after you paint.
  • Use bright colours that are easy for you to distinguish from each other. I used Pink & Orange, but you might be better with a higher contrast like Green & Red, or Blue & Orange.
  • I painted on the METAL portion of the needles, not the wood (you won’t be able to remove polish from the wood without ruining the finish on the needles). If you don’t have a metal portion on your needles you can paint the plastic cord.
  • Paint on BOTH sides of the needles for maximum visibility.
  • Make sure your paint is dry before starting to cast on. Tap it and check t make sure there is no paint on your finger. If there is, wait longer.

 

Blog Nuvem 2

Ta-Da! The pink goes with the pink, and the orange goes with the orange. I have to say I’m extremely pleased with this hack; I was constantly looking to reorient myself (especially when taking my project out of the bag) and finding the other end of the needle was using was a SNAP!

KNIT HACK & FREEBIE & Store Hours

Cozy Weekend

Since we’re looking towards the Labour Day Long Weekend (how did THAT happen so fast?!) I thought it might be a good theme. This sweater is super cosy and a VERY quick knit on 10mm/US15 needles with affordably priced Cascade Lana Grande.

KNIT HACK: A Note on Ease & Thick Yarns

When choosing a size in a sweater made with a very thick yarn you should always account for a good amount of positive ease (the space between you and the sweater) for it to fit properly. This extra space sounds like it will make the garment too large, but it is actually eaten up by the thickness of the fabric itself. 4″ to 6″ of positive ease is not uncommon. Another thing to consider is that garments made with thicker yarn require space for you to move comfortably in. Looking at the finished measurements of this sweater, a 41″ bust circumference for a size small is not unheard of, especially since the style is a little oversized and casual.

Materials

  • Cascade Lana Grande: 7(8, 9, 10, 10, 11) skeins
  • 10mm/US15-29″ circular needles
  • 9mm/US13-29″ circular needles
  • 9mm/US13 double pointed needles
  • FREE Pattern

Sizes

  • S (M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL)
  • Circumference at bust: 102(112, 120, 128, 138, 152) cm or 41(45, 48, 51, 55, 61) inches

Labour Day Long Weekend Hours

We will be closed from Sept 2 to Sept 4 for the Labour Day holiday.

  • Saturday Sept 2 Closed
  • Sunday Sept 3 Closed
  • Monday Sept 4 Closed
  • Tuesday Sept 5 11am – 6pm

Return to Fall/Winter Hours

Starting September 18 We will return to our regular Fall-Winter store hours (open Sundays) and our SnB groups will return to their regular dates (Tuesday 12-4, Wednesday 5-8, Sunday 1-5).

Haley Takes a Holiday

I’m taking a week off before the fall rush hits, and Liane will be minding the store from Monday Aug 28 to Friday Sept 1, so please drop by and keep her company! We won’t be shipping anything from August 27th to September 4th, but you can still pick up your online orders in store. I’ll try and post during my R&R, but if I don’t please don’t feel abandoned, it only means I’m very busy relaxing.

KNIT HACK Granny Stripe Ends (Part 6)

Granny Stripe Blanket Aug 17 Ends.jpg

For all the posts in this series, you can go HERE!

I’ve been making good progress on my blanket, I’d say it’s about 45% finished, but the ends have started driving me up the wall. They’re getting a little tangled and in the way when I work, so I’ve started weaving them in. I tried weaving them in from the bottom up, but it was too excruciatingly boring, and instead employed a childhood game. Like most kids, my brother and I weren’t into tidying or putting our toys away, so my mom came up with a game. Depending on the quality of our mess, sometimes she would have us put the toys away by brand, other times it would be by colour, or size. So I started weaving in my ends by colour – all the reds first, then the orange, then the pink … really whatever tickled my fancy. It worked, I was distracted from the tedious exercise and the ends thinned out.

Granny Stripe blanket Aug 17

KNIT HACK Weaving In The Ends

Weaving in the ends on a granny stripe blanket isn’t especially hard, but to make it look nice you’ll have to do it with a darning needle. Because of the granny stripe technique, the ends do not look nice worked in as you crochet, they will not be visible on the back of the work. As a reference, I leave a generous tail at the beginning and end of each row, at least 12″/30cm. Having a good amount of yarn makes weaving in the ends much easier and more secure.

 

Granny Spripe Blanket Weaving In Ends 1

1. With a darning needle weave the end you want to work (here GREEN) up in through the stitch or the same yarn above (so Green goes through Green). On rows where there is only one post or stitch at the start of the row you may want to go right through this post to conceal the yarn. On rows where there are two posts or stitches, you don’t need to do this.

 

Granny Spripe Blanket Weaving In Ends 2

2.  Thread needle through the tops of the stitches of the colour you are weaving in (the Green end goes into the tops of the Greens) for THREE or FOUR full clusters or the colour of the row above (here you can see the needle going through two).

 

Granny Spripe Blanket Weaving In Ends 3.jpg

3.   Turn your needle and work back across in the opposite direction.

 

Granny Stripe Blanket Weaving In Ends 4

4.  At the end of the row evaluate your work, give it a small tug to make sure the yarn is settled, and you can trim your end.

 

Granny Stripe Blanket Aug 17 2

A Tale of 1.25 Blankets – Stash-Busting Sock (Part 5)

 

Granny Stripe Blanket Aug 2, 2017.png

Left: the first version of the blanket. Right: the second incarnation.

 

For all the posts in this series, you can go HERE!

This post isn’t really a Hack post, it’s more about sharing insights – OK, it’s really just a project update. I’m not usually into sharing the ins and outs and ups and downs of making things, but this particular project involves my ‘creative process’, and I know that some people find it a slightly mysterious state that they’d like some insight into, and I’m happy to share.

I think when we last left off ,I was rolling along and had figured out how many rows I needed to work each day to get the blanket done by the end of the summer. I also had an idea about my colour distribution, and basically, I thought I was off to the races. Hahahahahaha! The best laid plans … after working about twelve inches I found, despite all my planning, I didn’t like my blanket.

1. Too Wide

I had overestimated the size I really wanted, it was working up to be about a queen size, and I just wanted a throw. Also, the rows were taking FOREVER! Part of the problem might have been the fabric’s natural stretchiness once was worked up on a larger scale (the stitch is very stretchy in the fingering weight merino wool), but I think I just chose the wrong finished size.

So I started again, from scratch. This time I chained 242 stitches to make a blanket narrower, it is working up to about 51″ wide.  To get an accurate dimension you need to measure it on a flat, hard surface, like a table or the floor. You won’t get an accurate measurement on a bed or sofa. I guess I did have a HACK for you, after all!

2. Hated the Colour

Everyone else liked it, and the colours looked gorgeous together, but I didn’t dig it. My rainbow system (above left) was VERY rainbowy, and the prospect of that much rainbow in a blanket was a bit too rainbow-brite for me. The prospect of a queen sized rainbow blanket was too much for my delicate aesthetic sensibilities. It was also kind of boring for me to work, it was very predictable, andthe harmony and redundancy weren’t working for me.

My new ‘system’ is simpler but subjective. I’m alternating warm (red, orange, yellow) and cool (green, blue, purple) colours. I’m also alternating light and dark colours, bright and muted colours – basically trying to create a contrast between colours. I like to create a tension between colours. Do you remember the Kandinsky painting at the start of the movie Six Degrees of Separation? It was a double sided painting; one side was an expressive, chaotic style, and the other more controlled. Well, I’ve always appreciated a graphic, controlled design aesthetic, but my soul as an artist is in the chaos camp.

People often ask me if I like their colour choice, and I always answer “What I like doesn’t matter.” This isn’t just a tactful way to respond to a colour combination that turns my stomach, it’s the truth, my preference is completely irrelevant. I don’t have to work with your colours, and I don’t have to live with them. My job isn’t to tell you what I like, my job is to help you find what YOU enjoy, what looks good on you, and which colours are complimentary and work well with your project. That said, if you like what I like, I’m more than happy to share!

Oh, BTW, I don’t weave in the ends until the end, because as you can see, it ain’t done until it’s DONE, and trying to rip back work when you’ve woven in the ends is a special kind of hell. Another Mini-Hack!

Conclusion

So I’m back on track …. sort of. My ‘schedule’ was totally shot to hell, but I’m really enjoying the project now, so I’m happy. As for the creative process, it’s kind of a misnomer. It’s really more of a progression, an evolution with fits and starts, giant strides and dead ends. Setbacks aren’t failures, just diversions, and sometimes they can be extremely fruitful and get you where you need to go.

 

 

Granny Stripe Blanket Aug 3 COMBO

ASHES & KNIT HACK: Making Marls

 

 

Ashes

I just ran across this new pattern on Ravelry, Ashes, and knew that it’s simple, easy to wear look would appeal. I mean, can’t you see yourself wearing this just about everywhere and every day? It’s the kind of sweater you can make several versions of, one for each season in a different type of yarn. One thought that came immediately to mind was that this sweater would look amazing knitted up as a marled colour (see all about that below).

Size

NOTE: this pattern is designed to be quite oversized. Before you choose a size to make you should check the finished dimensions below, you may want to make a smaller size than normal.

  • XS (S, M1, M2, L, XL, XXL)
  • finished bust circumference:  46.5 (48.5, 51, 53, 55, 57, 58.5)” or 116.5 (121.5, 127, 132, 137.5, 142.5, 146) cm
  • Sample is size XS worn with 14.5” (36.5 cm) positive ease at bust

Materials

  • Malabrigo Lace Baby Merino: 3(3, 3, 4, 4, 4) skeins in each of TWO colours [a total of 6(6, 6, 8, 8, 8) skeins]
  • 3.25mm/US3, 24” (60 cm) AND 32” (80 cm) circular needles, AND Double pointed needles
  • 3.5 mm/US4, 24” (60 cm) AND 32” (80 cm) circular needle, AND Double pointed needles
  • Stitch holders or waste yarn
  • stitch markers
  • tapestry needle
  • Pattern

Forester_4_medium2.jpg

Forester from Brooklyn Tweed: Great example of a marled knit.

Knit Hack: Making Marls

marled colorway is usually created by holding two strands of different colours together at the same time. Above is a great example of a marled knit, Forester by Brooklyn Tweed.

Marled Yarn COMBO.jpg

Marled Yarn: Misti Alapca Chunky in a marked colourway.

You can also buy yarn that creates a marled effect (see above), it will be an equal combination of at least two colours, by sometimes there are more.

Fibre Texture

One important thing to consider when knitting up your own mark is the texture of the fibre. A marled textile works best if the fibres stick together and ‘blend’ a bit. The fuzzier the yarn, the better the marl effect. Yarns with a smooth surface don’t blend well. I think Ashes it would be awesome worked up with a single ply laceweight yarn like Malabrigo Lace Baby Merino. It has a halo to it that will make the two strands blend together almost seamlessly.

Malabrigo Lace COMBO Marls

Colour Combinations

High Contrast

Most people think of a marled colour as a high contrast and obvious look, like a black & cream (195 Black & 64 Natural) or black & light grey  (195 Black & 9 Polar). You can also experiment with something a bit more edgy, like a tan & muted pink (like 18 Applewood & 60 Dusty).

Low Contrast

Another option is a lower contrast, which creates a more subtle effect. Putting two reds together would create a subtle depth of colour (like 44 Geranio and 94 Bergamota), or a bright red & pink would be a vibrant combination (like 94 Bergamota & 184 Shocking Pink). Blues look great combined together (like 186 Buscando Azul and 26 Continental, or 27 Bobby Blue & 98 Tuareg). If you’re a purple person try 34 Orchid & 97 Cuarzo for a subtle, pretty purple.

Variegated

If you want something variegated, but the original colourway is a bit too much, try pairing it with one of the dominant colours in the colourway (like 242 Intenso & 44 Geranio, 157 Amoroso & 24 Vermillion, 228 Snowbird & 94 Bergamota, or 9 Polar Morn & 622 SFO Sky).

 

Ashes Marled COMBO

Photos: Misti Alpaca, grasflecken/Isabell Kraemer

 

 

 

KNIT HACK Stash-Busting Sock (Part 4)

 

Granny Stripe Blanket BLOG July 11 2

For all the posts in this series, you can go HERE!

Grany Stripe Blanket

I am very pleased to let you know that my sock yarn stashbusting granny stripe blanket  is coming along swimmingly! Now that I’ve worked a few rows I’ve gleaned more insights ….

How Much Yarn?

If you don’t want to run out of yarn part-way through a row, you are going to need to know how much each row uses. I measured mine at around 9g of sock weight yarn, but everyone is different and this may not be the amount you use. You can glean this very useful knowledge fairly easily (I would wait until after you’ve worked a few rows and fall into a flow with the stitch):

  1. With your digital kitchen scale, weigh the ball of yarn you are about to use.
  2. Work a row, break yarn.
  3. Weigh the ball of yarn again.
  4. Subtract the second weight from the first weight – this is the amount of yarn you used.

Project Notes

I ALWAYS suggest that you keep project note in your Ravelry Notebook. You’ll inevitably need to remember something about the project at some point down the line, and all the details will be waiting for you there. It’s also helpful to see other people’s projects, so it’s nice to pay-it-forward, share and contribute to the community. Finally, you get to show off your work, people will say nice things to you and warm your heart.

Useful things to take note of:

  • hook/needle size used
  • tension/gauge of your project
  • yarn/s used
  • modifications made
  • finished measurements
  • advice you’d give other people about your experience, or anything you’d want to know if you did this project again

Establishing Timelines

Blankets are big-ish projects and I know myself – if I don’t finish this one by the end of the summer it won’t get done for a looooooong time. It’s good to set a goal like a best-before-date, and you’re most likely to be successful achieving a goal if you break down the work into daily quantifiable chunks.  I’ve measured my gauge and I’m working at approximately 12 rows = 4″ (10cm), or 3 rows per inch. I also measured my started project and it is about 65″ wide (unblocked), and I’ll aim to make a square blanket so it’ll be about 65″ high. There are about 50 more days until September. I have worked 25 rows so far.

Here’s how you figure out the math:

  1. 65″ high x 3 rows per inch = 195 total rows required
  2. 195 rows total – 25 rows completed = 170 rows to complete
  3. 170 rows to complete / 50 days to complete = 3.4 rows per day to complete

If I work 4 rows per day I should have this part of this project completed in about 43 days – not bad. I’ll still need to weave in the ends and work a border around the edge, so the extra week will be a good buffer to finish this project by September.

I’m not super disciplined, so to keep myself accountable I’ll print off a calendar and mark my rows every day. I kind of enjoy this approach, if I fall behind I know I have to catch up the next day, or I’ll work ahead of time and carry that balance forward. Really, whatever works for you is good.

Not sure how long it takes for you to complete a row? No problem, just time yourself working a row using the Stopwatch function in the Clock App on your smartphone or tablet (I have an iPhone, but if you have another just Google how to find and use the stopwatch function, Google knows everything). I just timed myself and it took about 18.5 minutes to complete a row (probably not my best time, but it isn’t the Olympics).

KNIT HACK Stash-Busting Sock (Part 3)

 

Crochet Blanket Swatch BLOG.jpg

For all the posts in this series, you can go HERE!

Swatching

Before you start your project I urge you to swatch, especially to find the right needle or hook size. For crochet, holding one strand of sock weight yarn, a 3.5/E hook is generally good (if you are a tight crocheter, if you are loose go down). For knitting, holding 2 strands of sock weight yarn together, 4.5mm/US7 or 5mm/US8 needles should be good. Everyone’s tension is different, so play around to find the size that you are comfortable with.

I always keep track of my choices in my Ravelry Projects, it’s a great place to keep your notes because they never get lost and you can look info up from your smartphone.

Now, everyone emphasises how important swatching is for the success of your final project, and I can’t *make* you swatch, but I think I can motivate you to swatch. I made a small swatch and am glad I did, as I found out several VERY useful things …

I made a smallish swatch (see picture above), about the size of a blanket for a doll, and am glad I did, as I found out several VERY useful things … knowledge is power! 

Hook Size

I preferred a 3.25mm crochet hook since my crochet tension is on the loose side. I also found out that I have two D hooks made by the same company (in different styles) that are actually different sizes: one is 3mm and the other is 3.25mm. 

Project Changes

I wasn’t loving my yarn worked up in a log cabin style, it didn’t suit the predominantly smooth texture and mostly variegated colour ways. I am changing to a granny stripe blanket .

Enjoyment

I found the granny stripe blanket quite easy and simple. I thought I might find it a bit boring, but I think it’s actually kind of zen, and frees up my mind to play with colour.

Accurate Measurements

I now have a more concrete tension measurement. The pattern is a multiple of 3 plus 2, so I swatched with a chain of 41 stitches, which measured approximately 8.5″ (I laid it flat on a table and measured with a ruler. I did not get around to blocking, but for a true gauge measurement you really should, as textiles can loosen up). Your tension will not be the same as mine, you need to check yours for an accurate measurement.

Project Size

I have a lot of yarn, but I’d like to finish this project this summer, so I’ll make it a lap blanket size, approximately 6 feet or 1.8m (182cm) wide should be sufficient. A chain of about 348 should be right. The pattern is a multiple of 3 plus 2, so 347 would be the right number.

Alternate Techniques

I followed the pattern and did not enjoy the long chain that you start with (the prospect of 347 wobbly chains doesn’t appeal), or how you have to enter the stitches in the first row. I’m not a novice, so I’m going to try starting with a “foundation since crochet” (FSC) chain. I like the idea of starting with an FSC because it gives me a good idea of how wide my work will actually be (unlike a regular chain, which really isn’t helpful in that department), and it will be easier to work the first granny Row into. I’ll swatch this first to make sure I like the look and the technique works for me (no point in making 340 stitches and finishing out I don’t like it). Before I start the real project I’ll also have to decide if this is the colour I want the first border to be. And of course, I have to practise the FSC, it’s been a while since I’ve done it and I need to consult a tutorial for a refresher (The best instructions I’ve ever come across is in Jennifer Hansen’s Broomstick Lace Craftsy Class, but Purl Soho has a decent tutorial on their blog).

NOTE: after a practice go I also found that the FSC was tight on a small hook and should be worked on a slightly larger hook, I’ll try a 3.25mm or 3.5mm next time. Oh, and if you go with the FSC, most tutorials will tell you to put a pin in at a specific point -DO THIS, especially if you put your work down in the middle (otherwise you’ll never find where you are supposed to pick-up).

Colour Choices

I’ve been sorting out my approach to colour and experimenting as I swatch ….

1. The first aesthetic choice was to evict all of the muted colours. They weren’t making me happy blended in with the more saturated colours, so they are outie and can emerge at a later date in another project. The second colour issue I found was that I am very uncomfortable with the random look.

2.  I found that I am very uncomfortable with the random look.

3. The granny stripe pattern works with two rows per colour, but I like one row, it looks scrappier.

4. I like the occasional row of semi-solid colour, I have a lot of  yarn with complex colouration and the solids seem to break up the business of the variegated colours.

5. I like alternating between a dark/muted colour and a light/bright colour.

6. I think I will cycle through a row of each type of colour: red, orange/peach, yellow/gold, warm green, cool green, turquoise/aqua/teal, blue, cool purple warm purple, light pink/dark pink.

Fibre Choices

I’m enjoying the multi-ply yarns more than the single ply yarns. I don’t think I want this particular project to be a melange of different textures and just kind of stick to playing with colour.

 

Choosing a Colour Palette

If you are NOT artsy

If you are bad with colour and not very artsy, the most expedient choice would be to work with an ombre or a gradation. This means working through your colours in the order of the rainbow or something similar (see the colour wheel below for an idea) and within each colour group from light to dark. I like the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Sister! Another approach is to browse through other people’s projects on Ravelry.com, Pinterest, or instagram and find something that you enjoy – there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, right? 

If you are KIND OF artsy

You have a choice to make: do you prefer chaos or control? Do you want your colours to complement each other and be harmonious and designy, or do you want them to clash and look random and scrappy?

colour wheel 1

Harmonious

If you want it harmonious consider placing cool colours (green, blue, purple) next to each other and warm colours (red, orange, yellow, pink) next to each other. Hold colours next to each other and squint your eyes (or remove your glasses) to get a better idea of whether they blend or clash.

Above is a colour wheel, which is kind of mysterious to people who have not been to art school or taken art classes. The colours opposite each other in the circle are a VERY high contrast and make each other ‘pop’ (it’s a bit of a harsh combination to my taste, I don’t really like them together). Colours next to each other in the circle are blendy. The colour next to the one at the opposite end of the circle often look nice

Clashy

If you like it clashy, combine colours that are opposites. Put bright or light colours next to dark or muddy colours. Place warm colours (red, orange, yellow) next to cool colours (green, blue, purple). Use a random number generator app (available free in your phone or tablet app store) to help choose the next colour group.

Personally, I like a controlled chaos. I’ll use a random number generator, but if I don’t like the choice I’ll run it again (and again, and again) until I come upon a colour combination I like.

If you ARE Artsy

You don’t need my help, you’ve already got it goin’ on.