Category Archives: Knit Hack

PROJECT Brushed Alpaca Nuvem

Nuvem

I just finished a third Nuvem and it was a total win! It’s light and airy as a cloud and cozy as hell. It’ll be an awesome spring/fall wrap, I just want to cocoon in it. I used Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk and 4.5mm/US7 needles, so it also didn’t take a super long time (I took about a month, but I totally dawdled because I wasn’t into any tv shows or audiobooks). Anyway, everyone who picks it up says they they feel compelled to make one – especially after I tell them the yarn only cost $36 (total).

Notes

The pattern isn’t very complicated, but it does involve a cast-on that some may not be familiar with: Judy’s Magic Cast-on. It’s isn’t hard, and I don’t think you should let it stop you from making this project. Judy’s Magic Cast-on is a very popular technique for making toe-up socks, and there are tons of videos and tutorials for it online, so if you have a hard time with one just skip to the next.

Nuvem Needle Hacks

  1. The last time I made a Nuvem I came up with an easy Knit Hack to help keep track of my needles on this project!
  2. This pattern is worked on two identical circular needles, which can get unwieldy. After I had been working for a while and my Nuvem had grown sufficiently I found that I was able to transfer all of my stitches to a single 60″ circular needle. My preferred type of needles for this project are interchangeables (I have a set of Addis, but Knitter’s Pride are also a great option, their extra cords and tips are affordable), because if I’m going to buy two identical needles of the same size, they might as well be interchangeable tips.

Size

I always wonder why shawls and wraps don’t come in sizes – people comes in different shapes and sizes, and a person with larger shoulders, back and/or bust will need a larger garment, right? Luckily, this pattern is extremely flexible, so it’s very easy to make this wrap smaller or larger. I cast on 143 stitches, which measured 37”/94cm in length after blocking (the end sections each measure about 17″/42cm). I feel like my wrap would fit up to a size large, but if I was an XL or larger I’d make it longer. If you want yours longer you can cast on more stitches (based on my tension, that’s about 3.85 stitches per inch, so if you wanted your wrap to be 4″/10cm longer I’d cast on an extra 15 stitches). If you want it wider you just have to knit extra rounds (or block it width-wise – I blocked mine length-wise).

  • Width (after blocking length-wise): 23”/58cm
  • Length (after blocking length-wise): 71”/180cm
  • Weight: 150g

You can get an idea about the finished size in the picture below. The mannequin is a size 6 and on the small size at that (no booty whatsoever), so I’d say that this is what it would look like on a small person.

Materials

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!

PROJECT Snap

Snap

I tried this pattern a few weeks ago, and I thought it would make a great post-holiday knit because it makes great use of bits ‘n bobs of stash yarn. It’s really nice to find a stash busting project that’s small and fast – so many are blankets! The pattern is Snap from Tin Can Knits, who are great designers (and are very reliable).

The colour variation and gradation are achieved by working with multiple strands of yarn held together and periodically changing them out. I used 4 strands of fingering weight yarn held together, although the pattern offers guidance for combinations with lace weight and sport/DK weight yarn. Working with multiple strands of yarn wasn’t hard, but if this is a new thing for you it’s just a good idea to take things slow and don’t rush your stitches.

All of the yarn I used was fingering weight from stash, and almost all of it was variegated. I worked the ribbing in a combination of 4 colours, and then I started changing out a single strand of yarn every 4 rounds, graduating from the darkest colours to the lightest. I think I used approximately 9 to 10 different colours/yarns in all. I started with the darkest greens and then transitioned up through the lighter or more yellowy greens, and then into the yellows.

I’ll be honest and tell you that while I was working on the hat I fussed in my head about which colour should go next, but I don’t think it was necessary. There was so much going on visually with 4 strands of variegated yarn, and I had so many colours that were somewhat close, that each individual change of yarn didn’t make a huge difference. The hat is knit on the knit side and then turned inside out after it is finished, and the colour changes are much more subtle on the purl side.

I made the size “adult S/M”, but after blocking it fits an adult M or 22″ head. If you are knitting for a smaller head (20.5 to 21″) I suggest going down a size. The fabric is heavy, a bit on the dense side (which makes sense, sock yarn doesn’t tend to be fluffy stuff).

Size

  • baby (toddler, child, adult SM, adult L)
  • fits head 16 (17.5, 19, 21, 23)” around

Materials

PROJECT Granny Slippers (and a Hack)

Granny Slippers

A client came in last night who wanted to make some granny slippers, and it occurred to me that I’ve NEVER made a pair, and maybe I should step outside my box and try a pair. I’m happy to report that they were SUPER EASY, beginner friendly (like after scarves), fast, and don’t use a ton of yarn, and are super cosy and warm! I whipped up a pair in one evening, so they’re definitely doable for holiday gifts. They aren’t fancy, but they are definitely cosy, warm, and fast!

I decided I wanted a funkier pair and used one skein of hand dyed Fleece Artist Back Country, but another great (less pricey) yarn would be Berroco Vintage Chunky. The yarn was lovely (as always), soft and smooth. If you want a pair of fuzzy slippers you could hold together 1 strand of Cascade 220 Superwash and 1 strand of Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk (1 ball of each should be enough. The pattern, Easy Steps by Drops, is a freebie, and was fairly easy to follow. Please read below for our modifications and notes. 

Modifications & Pattern Notes

A. I used 5mm/US8 needles, and it made the tension a bit tighter, 15 sts = 4″ (10cm). My feet are narrow, so this didn’t make a big difference in size, but if you are knitting for wider feet I would add a couple of stitches to the pattern.

B.  The pattern, which was not originally written in english, has one phrase that novices might find confusing. It says “K sts tog 2 by 2”. What they want you to do is K2tog across the row (so knit 2 stitches together, and keep doing this to the end of the row. For beginners, the pattern website also has a how-to video on how to knit 2 stitches together. 

C. For beginners who do not know how to seam (or for more experienced knitters who may not know how to do this particular seaming prettily), the pattern website offers some handy how-to videos to get you through the project. To make a tidy seam at the back of the foot (because it is a cast-on edge) this may be a helpful video

D. Please see our Hack below for suggestions on making sure the colour distribution of hand painted, variegated yarns is the same for both your slippers! If you’re using a solid, heathered or semi-solid yarn you don’t need to worry about this, but you might find it interesting and useful information for the future.

Materials

Knit Hack

And now for the hack! It’s a universal knitting truth that variegated yarns have a tendency for the colours to pool in ways we can’t anticipate. Sometimes it’s fun, funky, and enhances the project, and sometimes we don’t really care for it. It’s random, it happens, and we learn to accept it. You can usually play around with this effect by varying the needle size, the number of stitches you put on, and the stitch pattern you choose. But while knitting these slippers I found out something new – the place in the colourway that you cast on (where you place your slip knot or first stitch), can have an effect. 

Option A) Asymmetrical Pooling  Approximately half of the colourway in this particular skein is dark, and the other half was colourful (lets say it starts with the dark blue, the moves into a second part, the brighter warm colours). In the picture above, I made the slip knot around where the colour is changing between the two. The colours pooled kind of randomly, and I thought it worked with the skippers once they were seamed – they’re kinda funky.

Option B) Symmetrical Pooling  In this picture, I made the slip knot around the centre of the dark part of the colourway (so about 1/4 of the way through the colour repeat). The colours ended up pooling completely symmetrically! All the Blues stacked up on the right and the reds lined up on the left. It was super cool. It also didn’t suit my sensibilities for this project, although I kind of want to make a neckwarmer this way. 

Caveat Emptor: every skein of hand-dyed yarn is different, so this isn’t a rule. so much as a factor. Like I said at the start, the number of stitches, the tension and the stitch pattern also have an effect on the colour distribution. But if you are making your own slippers with hand-dyed, variegated yarn, be sure to cast on in the same place in the colourway to get a similar colour distribution. 

So there you go, you learn something new every day!  For more information on colour distribution in variegated yarns, I highly recommend the book Artful Color, Mindful Knits.

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