Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gift Knitting?

It's that time of year for frantic finishing to get those gifts wrapped up in time.
I just cast on one more myself. It's an easy hat, but with only about five days to finish it, I am a little nervous. I want it to go into a certain person's stocking. We'll see!

If you have one more little gift to make and you have a couple of free evenings remaining before you need to wrap up your special gift, consider these easy knits:

(especially in the bulky!)





Free Patterns:



I hope this helps calm your frenzy, at least in the knitting and crocheting department. I can't help you with all the baking and shopping. Give yourself a breather on that.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Iain Update

As modeled here by our good friend Keith 
(shown here with his daughter Faith in the Iain, Jr.),
the Iain has been one of my best-selling patterns.

I first conceived of the idea to design an Aran pullover that had the features of a hoodie sweatshirt. I also wanted to play around with placing cables on a background of other than reverse Stockinette stitch. I was working on this design back when I did a lot more substitute teaching, so I even polled some teen boys in my classes about how they would like such a thing. They were all full of approvals. The thing was, in 2008 when all of this came together I was better at imagining things like this than actually writing them out clearly. Thus, the first incarnation of the pattern, although edited and tested most proficiently, was not the best and has been causing knitters a certain amount of frustration all these years.

I have wanted to fix this problem for a while now, but other matters kept pulling me away. This past summer I decided it was time to get to work on it. First, I tackled some of the main issues and re-checked all the math. Then I went on Ravelry and read all the knitters' notes who had knit the Iain. That was painfully entertaining. There was a time in this newish career of mine when this would have made me very anxious and even downright mortified. Thankfully I have tempered my tendency to be upset and now I take it in stride. It is a nasty aspect of the ego to hold on too tightly to what it loves and thus to be insulted when it is found to have been in error. Ego, be silenced! Mistakes happen. And this is knitting, not brain surgery. Peace, be still.

All philosophizing aside, I am grateful to all the knitters on Ravelry who took the time to record their less-than-happy experiences knitting Iain. You helped me so much! I took it all as a giant wish list and set about improving the pattern. The main charts are now all in one place and with all the line-by-line included on those. The V-neck charts include one whole pattern repeat so that you can see how the neck shaping relates to the entire thing. Not only that, but the neck decreases now all allow for the center cable to cross just before the V-neck begins. Before, only one size did this nicely. As it happens, that was the size I knit as my sample and so it didn't occur to me that the other sizes needed to have this feature. Not only all of that, but the hood charts are drawn much more clearly and are now correct (as much as anything can be correct that is fashioned by humans). They also include one whole pattern repeat after the shaping is complete. The text directions also give a lot more help in the hood section.

Could I have included more in the pattern update? Sure! I could have written out the entire sweater, but it's now sitting at 20 pages because of all the charts. That's enough. This pattern has always been classified "experienced" level knitting. In that regard, I expect the knitter to be able to handle some chart reading without always needing line-by-line to go with it. The first section of the pattern is written out (the lower body) and by the time you knit up to the armholes you should be acquainted enough with the stitch patterns to read your knitting and follow charts from there on out.

Here's what I do. When knitting a complex pattern, I do not divide my attention. There is no music playing, nothing on the TV, no one else in the room. There is just me and my knitting, which can be very zen and conscious. We knitters have the opportunity to practice being in the now every day. Just me and my yarn and needles. So simple. So calming.

Uh-oh. Philosophizing again! Okay, I hope this update either helps you with your Iain project or encourages you to start one. Make one for yourself!

Now, to get busy on making the same changes to the Iain, Jr. Whew! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Vintage Yarn Info

This is for my vintage knitting and crochet pattern enthusiasts:
Yarn equivalent charts for vintage discontinued Patons, Beehive, and Jaeger yarns--just one more great thing I found in the stash that Mary Jane gave me.

If you have trouble seeing these images, just click on each and you will be taken to a larger image. I hope these are helpful to you.


This one gives gauge by needle size in metrics. That's what we want to see!
"Stocking Stitch" is, of course, Stockinette Stitch. I interpret the third column to mean that these were not available in Canada, but were in England. These flyers were all published in Toronto. 

There are also some needle equivalents at the bottom of this one.

This one is helpful because it categorizes the yarns by weight.
("Intermediate" weight--that's a new one on me!)

You can see that these are from 1979 and 1981, so the yarns are gone. Hope this helps with all your awesome 70's and 80's vintage knitting!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Vintage Sewing Treasures

Not only were there tons of great knitting pattern booklets in the stash I got from Mary Jane, but there were some fabulous sewing patterns. Looky!
Since these are from a Scottish lady, many of them are British.

See? Entirely.

This was the best thing. I love it.
I would love to be a wonderful dressmaker. But how?

Here's how!

Thrilling!

Good details.

And no worries when you wear your tulle evening gown to a bonfire, but only if it's made with flare-free tulle! Whew!

Play it safe, y'all.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Vintage Knitting Treasures

Remember that lovely stash of vintage knitting patterns I told you about?
The one that sweet Mary Jane gave me?

Well, I think it's high time to show you some of them close up.
Ah, the 60's and 70's. So colorful!

An Aran vest can save any fashion era.

My favorites--the 40's and 50's.

Love the men's from those decades as well. 
I want that Norse number!

 Which is your favorite?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Meme Cardigan, Part Four

Once your Meme Cardigan is complete, you can choose how you want your front closure.

I tried out two different closures for my cardigans. The first was easy and quick with just a zipper. The second was a little more involved, but worth it. I love both!

For the first Meme, I simply pinned my zipper to the back of the garter stitch edging and then sewed it on.

Couldn't be simpler.

For the second one, I used these cute little wooden oval buttons.

First I attached each button to the garter stitch edging, positioning each one at the middle of the twisted-stitch cable beside the front closure.

On the corresponding band, I attached yarn and worked one slip stitch to stabilize it, then three crochet chain stitches for the loop, and ended with another slip stitch, all corresponding to the look-a-like loop in the cable pattern. Then I wove the ends in very well. 

I could have made loops in the garter stitch edge as I worked it, binding off three stitches on one row and casting those stitches back on in the next row. As it was, I had not decided quite how I was going to work those buttonholes/loops, so I worked the edging and let it rest until I decided. This was easy to work after the cardigan was finished and blocked. 

At the back of both the button loop side and the button side, I sewed grosgrain ribbon for stability and to hide some yarn ends.

I've worn both these sweaters and tested them and both closures work very well. I am now working on another one for my mom and she has requested big buttons. I'll show you how that goes.

How will you close up your Meme Cardigan?





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Meme Cardigan, Part Three

Welcome back to our Meme Cardigan project!
As you can see, I have joined the front pieces of the cardigan to the back section by casting on the required stitches across the bottom of each armhole and have worked one pattern repeat on the lower body. On each size of the Meme, the cast-on stitches at the side seams are worked in different combinations of baby honeycomb. It complements the rest of the stitch patterns in the sweater nicely and with such a small repeat, it was easy to adapt for each size. 

Once the lower body is complete, you will return to the armhole and set up for knitting the sleeves. This model that I'm working is size 38, so there is a twisted knit stitch at the center of the lower armhole, making it a natural seam line. I will start with this stitch.

I love using this little Susan Bates tool for picking up stitches. Its crochet hook end makes it easy and I can line up a few stitches on it and then slide them to my circular needle.

Once I do that, I pick up the required stitches along one half of the sleeve. Since I am using a worsted weight yarn, I pick up approximately three stitches in every four rows.

When I arrive at the saddle stitches waiting on scrap yarn, I slide those to a second circular needle and knit them in pattern. I made a note of where I was in the cable pattern, but I didn't even need to, because the pattern tells me which row to start on! Nice.

From there, I went on to pick up the required number of stitches along the second half of the armhole, which brings me back to the center of the lower armhole, where I began. At this point I have enough stitches to work on one 16" circular, so to make things simple I will knit a few rounds before I separate the stitches onto either two circulars or one long one to work it Magic Loop Style.

There is that sleeve, stretching out so prettily from where we picked up those stitches along the armhole.

Next post we will look at the front closure.

See ya in a couple of days!









Monday, November 11, 2013

Meme Cardigan, Part Two

Now that you've met the Meme Cardigan, let's tackle this project!

All of the following steps are explained in the pattern, but we have the added benefit of more visuals here.

The very first (and useful!) step of this knitting project is to make a swatch. "What's different from other patterns in that regard, Jen?" you might ask. Well, the swatch is also the first real step of the project. You don't need to make a swatch that you later rip out to use the yarn. You use this swatch, because it's the first of your saddle shoulder pieces. Once you get gauge by either getting lucky on the first try or by changing needle size and trying again, you just make another one exactly the same as the first. The pattern tells you how many rows to make the saddle once you have achieved gauge. 
Lay your two saddle shoulder pieces out on a surface with the cast-on edges facing inward and the stitches on holders facing outward. The edges on scrap yarn will be picked up for your sleeves later.

We're starting with the upper back section, so you pick up your given number of stitches along one long edge of the left saddle piece. It's the left one as you would wear the sweater, not as you are looking at it from an opposite position. Then you will cast on the given number of stitches across from the left saddle to the right saddle and pick up the same number of stitches along the long edge of the right saddle as on the left one. This joins the shoulders and sets up the back section.

Here is how it will look after working one pattern repeat, which is fully charted and written out in the pattern.

And here is our back section placed on scrap yarn so that we can do the same thing on the front section. As you can see, I have picked up the required stitches along the right saddle's long edge and with a second ball of yarn I have picked up the other as well. That's because they must be worked separately. You may choose to work one of the front pieces at a time so that you won't need to juggle the two balls. It's such a small part of the project that I chose to juggle.

The front pieces are worked, the neck shaping (also fully charted and written in the pattern) complete, and the front is ready to join to the back. 

Let's save that step for the next post.

See ya soon!

Yarn in these photos is Cascade Sierra, color 03

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Meme Cardigan, Part One

In early October when the fall weather was just beginning to appear, I asked daughter Natalie and her doggy Graham to come with me to the park so we could snap some shots of my new 

I have named several of my sweater designs for family members, and while I had named a couple of other designs sort of after my mom (Rudy, her nickname that I now know she hates, and Marsaili, which is Marjorie in Gaelic and a now hibernating sweater design whose fate I am deciding), I had not done a full-fledged sweater in her honor.

Solved! The Meme Cardigan. We all call her Meme now since my daughters all have called her this their whole lives. Now there are four great-grandkids, and soon to be five, who call her Meme, too. I have another one in progress just for her, so I'll show you that one soon.

Let's look at how this design came about.

It started like this.
I was inspired by a sweater I'd seen in a movie and that sweater was a mock turtle. I lived with this design in this state for a while and just never could love it, soI left it to marinate for a couple of years. Then I picked it back up earlier this year and bingo, it told me it would rather be a cardigan. I went about changing all the parts that were affected, waiting until the end to figure out the closure. I kept trying to make some kind of clever thing happen with the front center cable, which is a repeat of the back center cable. The front one could be split right down the middle because the movement of the cable does not cross the center. I love cables like that.

In the end I just decided to make it simple: add a skinny vertical garter edge and attach a zipper. 

This one was knit with Cascade 220 in color #2441, a lovely oatmeal heather. On the second model, I decided to use a different yarn and to try adding buttons. 

For this one I used a stash of cream Cascade Sierra that I've had for years, waiting for the right project. I have always wanted a good, cotton sweater, and I knew Sierra, a good 80/20 cotton/wool blend, would be perfect. Unfortunately, this yarn has been discontinued, so if you can get your hands on some, grab it!
I love this sweater! It's just the right weight and can be a year-round layer. It would even work over a summer dress.

I kept the lines simple by putting in lots of vertical lines and low-relief cables and twisted stitches. I also made the neckline feminine--scooped and rather wide. In warmer weather this will keep you warm enough but not too much, and in colder weather you can wear a turtleneck or add a warm scarf, like I did in the pictures.

This is a top-down, seamless sweater with minimal finishing. You begin the project with working one of the saddle shoulder pieces as a swatch. When you get gauge, you follow with the second saddle piece and then pick up from there for first the upper back and then the upper front. On it goes from there down so you can make everything the length you want. The yarn amounts in this pattern are padded upward a bit for that purpose.

I'll be back next time for the next installment, in which I will show the steps of this project.
I hope you'll try a Meme Cardigan!

Big huge thanks to my daughter Natalie for the beautiful photos!




Monday, November 04, 2013

Knit Fit 2!

Thanks to those of you who commented on that last post and told us what you've been doing lately! Things have calmed down a bit now so I can get back to regular posting.

The first thing I must tell you about is the fun times I had this past Saturday at Knit Fit 2! This is the second year that I've had the honor of teaching at this wonderful event.

I just love it, because it's small and cozy and friendly. It happens in Ballard at the community center there and I hope it will never grow too big to stay put. Sasa Foster and Hannah Ingalls do a great job of making it look like they just casually put this thing together every year. I know that it secretly must be nerve-wracking at times. Thanks to both of them and everyone else who helped.
Knit Fit was great again this year!

Thank goodness I was able to visit the market before classes got started so that I could nab some lovelies.
I finally got some Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock after admiring Felicia Lo's work for years. Hers is the one on the left and the color is Willow, a subtle green and purple mix. The other two gorgeous hunks of wool are from Cathy of Intrepid Otter Yarns. To the far right is Baby! Superwash Merino DK in a color named for Darryl in Walking Dead. It's called "A boy and his bow." The yummy orange one in the middle is BFL! Superwash Sock in Inferno. The pictures do not do these yarns a bit of justice, you guys.

And this picture does not touch the cuteness that is Cathy. I just love this lady. I first met her a couple of years ago when she won one of my Junebug Days contests. We don't get to see each other ever, even though we kind of live in the same town. That's crazy.
She generously donated both those skeins above for yarn support for designs, so pretty soon I'll be showing you what becomes of that. I can't wait!

Speaking of very nice people, I was contacted last week by Mary Jane of Seattle who had a bunch of vintage patterns she inherited from her Scottish mother-in-law. She wanted to donate them to me because she saw that I was teaching a class on using vintage knitting patterns. I was floored!

And then I was beneath the floor when she showed up Saturday just before class to double my collection! Yes, the stack on the left is my existing collection and the stack on the right is what Mary Jane gave to me.

Let's spread it out and get a good look. Yesterday while I was recuperating (the classes wore me out, y'all!), I looked at them all more closely. They are fantastic! Not only are there plenty of awesome vintage patterns, but a couple of issues of Woman's Weekly from the 80's and one of New Zealand Woman and Stitch from 1970. Too cool. There are even some old sewing patterns that look like they are from the 40's. I'll be showing you some closeups of individual booklets later. Some are simply sublime and some are deliciously ridiculous (cue the 70's and 80's!)

The best thing of all was that Mary Jane drove all the way across town in some pretty nasty weather just to get these to me so that the class could enjoy them, too. And they did! We found so many inspiring patterns in this batch, and a couple of folks used one for their worksheet activity.

And while I'm bragging about really nice people, let me say how much I appreciated all the wonderful ladies who came to my classes.

Thanks to Lisa, Becky, Nancy Jo, Brooke, Julie, Fiona, and Danica for making the vintage class so enjoyable! Here is Brooke modeling one of the crochet shrugs I made from a vintage pattern for class project. Doesn't it look great on her? Spicy, in fact.


I wish I had pictures of the Finagle Your Cables class, but we had so much to cover that there was no time to even think about it. Thanks to Patti, Heidi, Marge, Margaret. Heather, Deanna, Nancy, Pat, a second Pat, Joanna, Lisa, and Sue for being such troopers and putting up with my going on and on about cable knitting. Fortunately, I could tell they all loved cables as much as I do. What a blast!

I hope I get to do Knit Fit again. It's just the best!
Thanks again to everyone who made it happen!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What's Doin'?

I haven't heard (or used) that term in a while, but it popped into my head.

What IS doin'?

Swatching


Making


Editing

What's doin' at your house? Really. I want to know. Let's sweep some dust off the comments box and heat her up!