Category Archives: stash

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.

KNIT HACK Stash-Busting Sock (Part 2)

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

On Tuesday I talked about blanket projects that are perfect for sock weight stash-busting. Today I’m going to help you make your blanket look GREAT!  In 2014 I ploughed through my stash of bulky weight yarn and made my parents a magnificent house-warming blanket, and I’ll share my system with you.

NOTE: If you don’t have suitable stash yarn but want to make a Granny Stripe or Corner to Corner blanket (or something along those lines, I suggest using Cascade Ultra Pima and a 4mm hook (you’ll need at least 10 skeins for a lap blanket)

What You’ll Need

  • Large table or flat surface to work on
  • Large Ziploc bags, about 10 to 20
  • Masking tape & permanent marker
  • Digital kitchen scale (optional)

blog scrappy blanket 4.jpg

Preparation

1. On a large table or flat surface lay out your stash and group yarns by colour: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, purple, brown, cream, grey. Personally, I have broken my stash down into subsets: light pink, dark pink, red, orange, peach, yellow, warm green, cool green, green-blue, turquoise & teal, blue, cool purple, warm purple, brown, cream, light grey, dark grey.

2. If you have variegated colours that you don’t know where to put them, hold them next to each colour group and choose the one it blends with. If it doesn’t match anything (I had one odd-ball), you can either keep it as a wildcard or leave it out of the project.

 

blog scrappy blanket 3.jpg

3a. Bag your colour piles. Each subset gets it’s own bag.

 

blog scrappy blanket 2

3b. If your project is going to be a gradient or ombre, label each bag with it’s order of sequence (1, 2, 3, 4, … etc) with masking and a sharpie, and leave space on the label to write the weight later.

Blog scrappy blanket 1

4a. Weigh each bag and write down the weight on the bag. I recommend using metric measurements (grams) if your sale allows, it is precise (you can always convert to imperial measurements afterwards) and I round down.

4b. Add up the total weight of your yarn, and subtract about 50 to 100g for good measure. My total is around 3800g, which is probably enough to make a Queen sized bedspread. This doesn’t mean I *will* make a queen sized bedspread, I may not use ALL of my yarn, I might get bored with some colours, or only want to use a portion of them because I have so much (I’m heavy on the greens). About 1000g is ok for a lap blanket.

5. Evaluate your spectrum for gaps. You may or may not have noticed that I have next to no red in my stash, so I’ve bought myself a skein of red Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Ruby. I don’t have much yellow, but that’s ok, it’s kind of an accent colour, so I won’t use a ton. I also don’t have much in terms of a medium ‘pinky’ pink, just light and dark pinks, but I think I can live with that (if it starts to bother me I’ll buy some).

6. Wind up skeined yarn, but keep the label with them. If you don’t end up using that skein you’ll want to know what it is and how much of it you have.

7. Choose a project and/or method, for example:

Crochet

Knit

OK, I think we’ve done enough work for a day, in upcoming posts I’ll discuss strategies for combining colours and swatching. I know, swatching is a total turn-off, but my suggestions are sincere and come from my own, actual experience – it’ll be fun and EXTREMELY helpful. Seriously, I promise, it’s so, so, so useful. So good.

 

Blog scrappy blanket COMBO

KNIT HACK Spring Prep

Moth-Proofing: 5 Easy Things You Can Do Now

It feels a little early, but even if spring is only casually flirting with us, it may be time to start thinking about protecting your woolens for the upcoming season. It’s A LOT easier and cheaper to avoid moth holes than it is to mend them. Even worse, if you end up hosting a moth infestation you’ll have to pitch everything. You can read up on the “How-Tos” in Storing Your Knits from last spring, but here are a few things you can do to get yourself started.

Change Your Moth Traps

I just changed my moth traps and they were blessedly EMPTY. If you haven’t already, it might be time to change yours, and if you don’t use them I suggest you do. I only consider them a second line of defense, but they’re helpful, and they’ll let you know if you have moths.  I use the Aeroxon Clothing Moth Traps.

Bag Exposed Stash

Bugs like sweaters, but your stash is also vulnerable. There’s no time like the present to bag up yarn that’s floating around. Don’t forget projects on hold, laying fallow in project bags. If the majority of your stash isn’t already organized in sealed bags (like Ziploc) now is probably a good time to get on that. By the way, the picture above is pretty, but a good example of how NOT to store your yarn (stuff in baggies doesn’t make for good pictures). If you find yourself spring-cleaning your stash and need to purge, our next yarn swap is April 23, 2017, or you can drop off donations in a sealed plastic bag any time we are open.

Wash Dirty Woolens

Start washing the sweaters you wore this winter, especially anything that’s been in frequent use. Little bits of food & shmutz are what moths feast on, so shutter the buffet. If you’re like me and wear a lot of sweaters, getting them all cleaned is a bit of a chore, so you might as well start early and get it over with. I like to wash with either Eucalan or Soak, both are excellent no-rinse delicate washes that are very easy to use (I do not suggest you use the stuff from the grocery store).

Store Peripheral Knits

Start bagging and storing any knits or woolens that you aren’t likely to use again this season. At my house this includes heavy wool sweaters, thick wool socks, scarves/hats/gloves that didn’t get used, felt hats, wool coats.

Plan Ahead

OK, this sounds really niggly, but I’m constantly learning from my mistakes in this particular area. Almost every year I come across some class of object that I forgot was made of wool – and of course I find this out the hard way (lots of tears and regret). I always think I’ll remember things but never remeber things, so I keep a running Moth-Proofing Checklist and add to it every time I find something new that needs to be stored. I keep my checklist digitally in a cloud-based form of storage (iCloud, Google Docs, Dropbox, etc), so I can get to it easily and it won’t get lost. This is currently what it looks like:

  • socks (wool)
  • coats (wool)
  • knit scarves, hats, mitts, gloves
  • legwarmers
  • felt insoles
  • blankets
  • pillow covers
  • felt hats
  • needle felted stuff
  • felted bags

 

New Year Stash Busters!

This project is easy, fast, and will use up ALL of your miscellaneous stash yarn. It is made with a basic Tunisian Crochet technique, but don’t let that put you off because it’s really easy, fun, fast, and anyone can learn it. You can take a class with us in store (private or project class), take an amazing online class from Craftsy (presently on sale for $14.99!), or teach yourself via Free Tutorials from Stitch Diva. For this blanket you only need to learn the base row, tunisian simple stitch, changing colours, 3 colour tunisian, and binding off – basically a beginner class. You do not need to know how to crochet to learn Tunisian crochet. 




A great project for using up smaller leftovers. Combine similar weights and fibres (worsted with worsted, bulky with bulky, animal fibres vs plant fibres).  I think this ribbing/colour combo would also be a great technique to use to make a simple pillow cover, especially with Noro yarns. 
  • Pattern available on Ravelry for about $3.50 CAD
  • 16″ circular & double pointed needles (6mm for bulky, 4.5mm for worsted)
  • bulky weight yarn, but you can sub worsted and cast on more stitches.




This project is a great opportunity to experiment and play with texture and colour. Yarns can be any thickness, texture or fibre. To get an effect like the picture above, choose base colours (hues) which are harmonious (blend well together) plus a contrast colour. For example, greens + teal blues, blues + purples, oranges + reds, reds + dark pinks, oranges + yellows, oranges + browns. You can also choose yarns that are all from the same base colour. In the example above the designer has chosen colours which are in the same colour family, orange, but vary in their value (relative darkness or lightness), plus a light beige for contrast.  They have also played around with the value of the colours, putting dark colours next to light/bright colours, which creates contrast and makes the colours ‘pop’. 
  • FREE pattern via Ravelry
  • 8mm-29″ (or longer) circular needle
  • bits of yarn in an appealing palette, size doesn’t matter




  • pattern available via Ravelry, individually or as part of the ebook Color by Number, or the MEGA ebook Coloring Book
  • Any yarn of any weight
  • needle size appropriate for yarn
If you don’t have the stash but you want to make the blanket any of the following would work beautifully:



  • pattern available via Ravelry, individually or as part of the MEGA ebook Coloring Book
  • Any yarn of same weight, as many colours as you like
  • size appropriate for yarn



This project can be a great stash buster if you’ve got a big pile of yarn that’s a similar weight and fibre. I I doubt its a quickie, but it is definitely a beauty.  It can be downsized to make a stunning baby blanket too!



This scarf is a great way to use up little bits & bobs of yarn that’s the same weight. The pattern stitch, linen stitch, is a dense one so increase your normal needle size about 1mm & check your tension
  • FREE pattern via Ravelry
  • fingering weight yarn, but you can sub sport or worsted
  • 4mm-36″ circular needles (or size appropriate for yarn)