Category Archives: Knit Hack

PROJECT World’s Simplest Mitts

cascade 220 superwash wave mittens

World’s Simplest Mittens

My friend Rosie just finished a set of mitts made with Cascade 220 Superwash Wave and I think they’re really cool! She used one skein to make all three mitts with the World’s Simplest Mittens pattern (a freebie from the lovely ladies at Tin Can Knits, she made a size Women’s Medium). Why three? Why not?! There was more than enough yarn left to make a third, and you inevitably always misplace or lose one mitten. Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool, having three mitts that match but aren’t exactly alike – it’s like having extra wardrobe options!

The pattern is excellent; a basic mitten knit in the round. It is very straightforward, well written, and the instructions (like all of the Tin Can Knits patterns) are easy to read and follow. It is written for sizes Toddler to Adult Large, and accommodates four different sizes of yarn (fingering, DK, worsted and chunky weight).

Alternatives to DPNs

If you don’t like making mitts because you don’t enjoy using double pointed needles, you might want to try using the new Addi Flexi-flip needles – they’re a great alternative to traditional double pointed needles (Rosie has been using hers since they first came out, and she’s become a convert, despite not having a huge issue with double points to begin with). You could also try using Chaigoo’s 9″ circular needles (you can get them as singles, or if you really like them invest in their interchangeable set) but you will still have to finish the thumb on double pointed needles.

Knit Hack: Matching the Thumbs

Sometimes matching the thumb to the rest of the mitten is tricky with yarns that change colours in stripes or as a gradient. This is because you knit the body of the mitten first, and then go back and do the thumb last – the colourway will have changed by the time you go back to do the thumb. You can see this in the centre mitten in the image above.

If you want your thumb to match the mitten better, wind off a little bit of yarn after you’ve put the thumb gusset on hold, and before proceeding with the body of the mitt. You won’t need a lot of yarn (maybe 5m of worsted weight yarn?), it doesn’t take much to knit a thumb. When you go back to finish the thumb you can use the yarn you wound off and your thumb will blend in beautifully.

Cascade 220 Superwash Wave 114 Spring BLOG

Materials

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

Cascade 220 SUperwash Wave mitts combo.jpg

 

PROJECT Welcome Relief

discount banner blog

blanket 1

Welcome Relief

I stumbled across this fun little stash-bustable blanket pattern and thought it was extremely shareable. It’s worked completely in garter stitch, which means it’s a great primer for anyone who’s up for learning short rows (intermediate beginner level) and knitting that’s easy on the grey matter. The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash, which is great because it’s soft, easy to work with, washable, and it comes in a zillion different colours. yarn, you can also opt for Berroco Vintage. If you want a sturdier The pattern isn’t a freebie, but it’s very affordable and the proceeds of sales go to refugee relocation organizations (details are in the pattern notes, but there’s also some moving information on this subject in the comments).

Short Row Hack

Mark your short row turns by putting a Locking Stitch Marker or Calabash Pin in the turning stitch – it is SO MUCH EASIER to find that little stitch when there’s a plastic thingy hanging off it.

Size

40″ x 40″, but the size is completely and easily adaptable.

Materials

  • Cascade 220 Superwash or Berroco Vintage: 7(11, 16) for a blanket 40″ x 40″(50″ x 50″, 60″ x 60″)
  • 4mm/US6 – 32″ needles (or longer, depending on the desired size)
  • locking stitch markers
  • tapestry or darning needle
  • Pattern

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

balnket combo

 

 

CLEARANCE Rowan Original Denim

We’re clearing out some summer yarns that we aren’t bringing back, so grab it on sale before it’s gone!

Rowan Denim Sale Display.png

 

CLEARANCE 20% OFF Rowan Original Denim

Rowan Original Denim is a 100% cotton yarn, which behaves like denim fabric.  It shrinks slightly on its first wash and the colour continues to fade gradually over time, creating a unique look. It’s great for people of all ages, and all kinds of projects, including sweaters, tanks, blankets, bags, facecloths and tea-towels, etc.

Rowan Original Denim is suitable for all-year-round knits and showcases textured stitches and cabling brilliantly To keep your Rowan Original Denim garments looking sharp, try hand washing in a delicate wash and add a cup of white vinegar to the water before adding the garments.

  • 100% Cotton
  • Double Knitting Weight
  • 50g/90m (98.5yds)
  • Gauge: 20 sts & 32 rows = 4″/10cm
  • 4mm/US6 needles
  • Machine wash cool, lay flat to dry
  • Read all our Denim Blogs and Hacks

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

 

 

French Market Bag

Here’s a great one for the people who aren’t afraid of the hook – a gorgeous french market bag made with DENIM! I love Rowan denim, and I love small summer projects that are high on satisfaction and low on commitment. Plus, the yarn is on SALE all month – how can you go wrong?

Materials

 

Boneyard Shawl

FINISHED Stripe It (again)

Urth Uneek Worsted Cowl BLOG 2

 

Urth Uneek Worsted Cowl BLOG

Another Stripe It Cowl

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I just finished a Stripe It Cowl, it just needed to be photographed properly. I used 4mm/US6 needles for the ribbing and 4.5mm/US7 needles for the body of the cowl. I’m super happy with it, and I think all of the colourways will look glorious!

Mini Knit Hack

One secret to a happy project: use the darker end of the colourway for the bottom of the project and the brighter colour for the top, darker colours look more balanced on lower parts. In my project, the pin  & green is darker than the orange & blue, so it went on the bottom.

Materials

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

stripe it combo.jpg

 

HACK & PROJECT Simple Skirt

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KNIT HACK: Project Searches

Sometimes a great way to browse for potential projects on Ravelry is to do it through actual projects. The main advanced pattern search on Ravelry is great, but it normally shows patterns based on their popularity, and because of that it often feels very redundant, and I don’t get to see project ideas that are not the most popular. One alternative way to browse for inspiration is to search PROJECTS, rather than patterns.

  1. I go to the ADVANCED PATTERN SEARCH
  2. Then I click on the PROJECTS tab in the top left. This will show all the projects people have added to Ravelry.
  3. You can change the order they are displayed based on various factors by clicking on the drop-down menu that is just to the right of the “search” box.
  4. So far, you still have a lot of stuff to look at. The big column of menu items on the left side of the screen will let you limit the search parameters. For example, you might want only crochet projects, or a certain weight or yarn, or a specific type of project (like a shawl, or a sweater). Today, I am searching for a specific yarn, so I went to the bottom and chose YARN NAME and put in “Rowan Denim”.
  5. I found a skirt that looked really interesting. To see more skirts made with this yarn, I put “skirt” into the search box and it pulled up all kinds of skirt projects made with Rowan Denim.

 

 

 

Simple Straight Skirt

In my search today, I found something really cool, a simple straight skirt made with Rowan Original Denim – a great little summer knit that you can wear all year. Plus, the denim yarn is pretty sturdy so it will stand up much better than a regular cotton or a wool. Plus, Rowan Denim is ON SALE NOW!

Materials (for a 19″ skirt)

  • Rowan Original Denim: 6(7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10)
  • 4mm/US6 needles (straight or circular)
  • TWO 3.5mm-24″ circular needles
  • Size I (5.5mm) crochet hook, for provisional cast-on.
  • ¾”/2cm non-roll elastic (waist measurement plus 2″/5cm).
  • Needle and thread (for the elastic)
  • Optional: Blocking materials.
  • Pattern Download

Size

Finished hip sizes (actual skirt hip measurement after seaming):  32 (34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52)inches or 81 (86, 91, 97, 102, 107, 112, 117, 122, 127, 132)cm.

DENIM HACKS

Denim yarn is a lot like the denim your jeans are made of, and it is dyed with the same type of dye, indigo. All the things that happen with your jeans also affect denim yarn. You should definitely not avoid using denim, and knowing a few hacks in advance will make the experience fun.

1. Shrinkage

Denim shrinks in length (like jeans), so I suggest you make your project a little longer than you normally would, maybe buy an extra ball. If you are using a pattern written by Rowan for their denim yarn, all of this will already have been taken into account, so you don’t have to worry about this.

2. Dye

Due to the nature of the indigo dye, it bleeds. The two darker colours come off on your hands quite a bit, and I’ll admit that that is a constraint unless you live in a world where everything you own is a dark colour. The lightest colour isn’t as bad, the colour transfers a little bit but not a ton.

  1. I skein up the yarn and secure it in at least 4 points. If you’re making something big you can join the skeins and made a super-skein to save time down the road.
  2. I fill a basin with cold water and white vinegar (maybe a cup? I just splash a bunch in). I use the Allen’s Cleaning Vinegar, it is double strength and seems to stabilize dye better than regular white vinegar.
  3. I leave the yarn in the solution for at least 15 minutes – I like to give it a good soak for good measure.
  4. I hang the yarn to dry.
  5. With the two darker colours I will wash the yarn a second time in a fresh vinegar bath, to set any residual dye.

It’s a little bit of work, but in the summer it’s fun to do some experimentation and light chemistry experimentation.  I do it in my bathroom and the indigo has never stained my white ceramic. It’s also a fun thing to do on the deck or balcony.

Other Denim Hacks & Lore

 

 

FREEBIE French Market Bag

 

 

French Market Bag

Here’s a great one for the people who aren’t afraid of the hook – a gorgeous french market bag made with DENIM! I love Rowan denim, and I love small summer projects that are high on satisfaction and low on commitment. Plus, the yarn is on SALE all month – how can you go wrong?

Materials

Notes

If you want to read more about knitting with denim yarn see the recent post by Mason Dixon Knitting, they’re denim fanatics and know all the ins & outs. Personally, my only advice (when making a market bag) is that the indigo dye comes off (it’s supposed it, that’s what good indigo does), so use metal needles, wear dark colours, and don’t sit on light coloured furniture when you work with it – its a nice throwback to when I was a kid and my mom dressed me up in dark clothes when I chose to play in the mud.

KNIT HACK Teachable Moments

DMC Natura Lace preblock 1

Knit Hack

I know most yarn stores don’t normally talk about their flops – we really don’t want to scare you out of trying things – but I felt like this project could be a great teaching moment for all of us. I’ll throw in some technical advice, but it’s really more about what’s going on in our heads.

So I knit a sweater in 4 pieces, I blocked each piece as I went, and I seamed them together. I tried it on prior to a final block and it, A. did not fit comfortably, and B. did not look good. NOTE: I did not weave in the ends, because it ain’t over till it’s OVER – and I include blocking in this – because it’s a major pain if you have to take the seams out and the ends are already in. If the ends are still free the project is still salvageable. If they’re woven in, there is no way I’m going back in, it’s just too masochistic for me. If you enjoy it, please be my guest. 

The Back Story

I had a new yarn, DMC Natural XLCotton, and I wanted to experiment with it, see what it could do (and not do). I decided a sweater is a good test, and I wanted a new cotton sweater for wearing around the store (yeah, I’m like Mr Rogers, I come in and change my sweater and my shoes).

First Mistake: Pattern Choice

First off, I searched for a pattern that might work with this tension of yarn. I settled on Dawning. It looked pretty on the model, right? The pattern choice was my first mistake, I broke my own rules! I know which shapes and styles suit my body, what I look best in, and what I can get away with.

Reality no.1:

I have small shoulders, I look best in set-in sleeves, I can get away with a yoke construction.

Reality no. 2:

I have a bottom heavy profile, so I look good in necklines that elongate the appearance of my upper body, like a boat neck. However, I still have small shoulders, which means that a neckline that looks good on a model with large shoulders falls off of mine. I have to shorten my necklines, bring them in a bit.

Reality no. 3:

I look terrible in anything thicker than a worsted weight yarn, they’re generally too bulky for my frame.

If you want to learn more about your body shape and what looks good on you, I highly recommend the book Knit to Flatter by Amy Herzog, and Amy’s online class Knit to Flatter. They are both extremely helpful, and I found her to be an engaging teacher in the online class

 

DMC Natura Lace preblock 2

Second Mistake: Forcing the Swatch

Next, I started swatching. If you go to my Ravelry project page you can see I did a bit of swatching. I wanted to be diligent, and I swatched in stocking stitch and in the lace pattern. I swatched until I got the right tension for the pattern.

Questionable Choice no. 1: Playing With Needle Size

While trying to get the right tension, I went WAY down from the recommended needle size on the ball-band (They recommend an 8mm to 9mm (US 11 to 13), and I pushed it down to a 6.5mm (US10.5). At work I’m always telling people not to force the yarn, you can’t change what it is, you have to work with its innate physical properties. I ignored my own advice because the swatch seemed to feel ok. Maybe I was just deluding myself, I don’t know.

Questionable Choice no. 2: Swatches Aren’t Sweaters

Another thing I always tell my clients is that a little 6″ swatch does not behave the same way as a full-size garment, especially once you factor seaming into the equation (seaming creates more structure in a garment, so If you have something that is already stiff it will make it even stiffer. Because I forced the needle size, the fabric as a sweater doesn’t have much flexibility.

Questionable Choice no. 3: Fibres Are What They Are

The third and last mistake in judgement is that I ignored what I knew about the textile. It is cotton, and I know that cotton always looks thinner than it knits. I deluded myself and into believing what I wanted to believe. Moreover, the yarn that the garment was designed with was made with the same fibre, cotton, but had a very different structure. Theirs was a stretchy, woven tape, and mine was a multi-ply strand that didn’t have and internal give. I knew my substitution was never going to fall the same way the one in the pattern did, but I kind of ignored the extent to which the drape was a part of the garment’s construction and design.

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Third Mistake: Size Choice

Cotton stretches, and I don’t love super oversized garments, so I went down to a size smaller than I would normally wear. BIG mistake. First off, cotton that is knit too tight does not stretch appreciably. Second, I don’t normally wear garments in bulky or super bulky weight yarn. Finally, I forgot about the rules of ease (the amount of space between you and your garment), which I learned from Lily Chin in my early days in this industry. Basically, the thicker the yarn is, the more space you’re going to need between you and the garment to make it fit comfortably. Thick yarns take up a larger amount of space, so you need more ease in a garment made with them. Garment designers scale up the ease for a reason, and I ignored that fact.

I learned this stuff about ease in a class with Lily, but I think it is all in her book Lily Chin’s Knitting Tips and Tricks.  The Craft Yarn Council has a chart that describes standards for ease, but it doesn’t include the amount of ease you should add as the yarn gets thicker. 

Moving Forward

Ok, so moving forward, what am I going to do? I mean, just because you make seven bad choices and basically ignore just about everything you know about knitting doesn’t mean the project has to go in the garbage.

Solution no. 1: No Shame

I don’t have any bad feelings. I do not feel any shame or remorse about this project or anything accompanying it. It’s a sweater, not my life’s work. If it doesn’t work out, it’s no biggy, nothing is going to happen to me. My identity isn’t invested in the things I make, they’re just crafts. Tears are not necessary.

Solution no. 2: Salvage

The upper arms are way too tight, so I’m going to take out the seams and try re-seaming them looser. Then I’ll give the whole thing another good blocking and maybe try and stretch it. It might improve things, it might not. I won’t know until I try.

Solution no. 3: Make Lemonade

Got a bowl of lemons? Make lemonade. This sweater wasn’t a success as a garment, but it’s a great teachable moment I can share with you! Sometimes a thing isn’t what you intended it to be, and it turns out to be something else, something that is equally, if not more, valuable.

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Solution no. 4: Mindfulness, Introspection and Growth

This is the hardest part of this process. I think it might be one of the hardest parts of life. You might not be ready for this, but I highly recommend it. I ignored my own wisdom SEVEN times in the process of making this garment, that’s a pretty significant pattern. At any time I could have stopped myself but I pushed on until the end, oblivious to the realities at hand. And I *still* haven’t completely thrown in the towel! So I have to ask myself, what’s my motivation, what is my relationship with this sweater anyway?!

By the way, I’m a somewhat shy person and not especially into opening up my inner life online. I’m sharing this part of my process because I see customers EVERY DAY who are stuck in this type of thing, and it honestly breaks my heart. 

Thinking about it, I think I got hooked on the picture in the pattern. It must have tweaked some inner, aspirational vision of myself. I’m normally fairly jaded and skeptical about aspirational marketing, but this one seems to have slipped in under my radar. The photo (above) isn’t even that sophisticated, it isn’t one of those pictures of big-shouldered women with impossibly thick hair casually walking down a beach in their sweater, without a care in the world ….. and AH-HA! As I re-read that last sentence I see it – I wish I had hair like that lady in the picture, it doesn’t have anything to do with the sweater. I have always wanted thick, long, luxurious hair. I didn’t even consciously notice the model’s hair until now.  Over the last few years, I’ve managed to grow my hair long, but I’m afraid thick and luxurious aren’t in my genetic cards.

Well, there you go, what a funny little subconscious thing! (Although, it’s tied to my insecurities, so I guess it isn’t *that* insignificant, I shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand, right? Insecurities have feelings too!) Wow, a random belief about something as small as my hair still had the power to lead me down the garden path and completely block out my better judgement. I don’t think my intuition even had an opportunity to get a word in edgewise!

(Please note, I apologize for the privilege on display in my subconscious. Hair isn’t a huge part of my culture, it isn’t normally something I think too much about. But I’m well aware that in other cultures a woman’s hair is a BIG thing, and they totally get how it factors into a person’s feelings and conception about themselves – clearly much better than I do.)

Tonight, when I’m meditating before bed, I’ll release this stuff and set it free. Well, I’ll actually be setting myself free – who needs to carry this stuff around?!  I’ll also be nice to my hair, I’ll wash it and make an appointment to get a long needed trim. I think it’s the least I can do for us.

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