Archive for the ‘Authors & Designers’ Category

Are you a Standard Size?

Sunday, November 10th, 2013
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This is our last guest post by Dora Ohrenstein.

Let me start with a question: do you choose a sweater size based on your “standard size”? This is the number one reason people experience “sweater fail,” and those who have know how disappointing it is. Standard sizing is something that clothing manufacturers have developed, for obvious reasons of convenience, and that designers are required to follow when grading patterns. If your measurements are not standard — and let’s face it, whose are? — you will be so much happier with your garments if you learn to alter patterns.

Some women have a bust size that is large in relation to their overall size — they are really a small or medium according to standard sizing, but with a few extra inches in girth here or there. Others may have shoulders that are larger than standard, or a significant difference in circumference between bust and hips. Once you understand the key measurements and alteration points of a sweater, you can tweak patterns to fit you more precisely.

Schematics are included in most patterns to allow the knitter or crocheter to see what the actual finished measurements of individual pieces are, and to compare them to her own. Where there is a discrepancy of over an inch, it’s time to think about making an alteration. You’d figure out how many inches of difference at various crucial points, and how you would alter the stitch and row counts so that the sweater ends up at your measurements, not the mythical standard sized person. Alteration is just some tinkering with the numbers on your calculator, it is not rocket science, and it can be mastered if you are motivated.

Now is the time to bring up the sensitive subject of measuring one’s body. Nobody likes to do it, it’s hard to do yourself, and your husband won’t know how and all that. Nevertheless, I urge you to please find a way, because without it, it’s hard to make a sweater that fits, trust me. For very good instructions on how and where to measure, please visit: http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/sizing.html

Our main areas of concern are three width measurements on the body: bust circumference, high hip circumference, and shoulder width (sometimes called cross back width), and two length measurements on the body: shoulder to high hip, and armhole depth. If you like sweaters to hang at different lengths, then take circumference and length measurements at the low hip, waist, and mid thigh as well.

We also need at least one width measurement and one length measurement on the sleeve: your upper arm circumference, at the largest point, and sleeve length from the underarm to the wrist. I suggest you make a schematic and record these width and length measurements on it, then scan and save it in your computer.

Once you’ve done this, please visit this page: http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/womansize.html

to see how your measurements compare to standard sizes. You’ll see immediately which areas you will need to consider for alterations in sweaters. Keep in mind that this same alteration is likely to come up repeatedly, and that once you’ve done it on a couple of sweaters, it will be quite easy.

One more important concept to consider is the matter of ease, the bit of extra fabric we add to body measurements to make a garment more comfortable to wear. I’ve noticed a strong temptation to add generous amounts of ease, as if in terrible fear that the sweater will be too small. Please do not fall into this trap. A sweater that’s 4 – 6 inches larger than you everywhere will look like a big baggy sweater. Keep in mind that knot or crochet fabric is very stretchy, in all directions, and can be counted on to stretch more with wear. In most situations except outerwear, there’s no reason to add more than 2″ of ease over your full body circumference. In fact, bustline widths can be done with no ease, or with negative ease. No ease can be very comfortable and flattering and if you are very shapely, an inch of negative ease is not be scoffed at. It will simple make the sweater emphasize your curves. You can take a cue from your store bought sweaters by measuring them at the bust width to see how much ease they have over your actual body measurement — remember you are measuring half your circumference. You may be surprised to see the result!

Whether you’re making a sweater from the top down or bottom up, knowing your measurements ahead of time, and comparing them to the sweater pattern, will save you lots of time and energy. There is some math involved, but please don’t panic – the calculator does all the hard work!

If you’re interested in exploring this topic further, you might want to join me at VK Live, where I will be offering a class entitled: Altering Crochet Sweaters. To learn more, or register, go to http://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/66410/classes/. Or visit my website to learn more about online classes: CrochetInsider.com.

Getting the Right Fabric in Crochet

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
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Today we have a guest post by Dora Ohrenstein

Floating Tee, lacy open work and cashmere yarn.

Floating Tee, lacy open work and cashmere yarn.

Consider this: when you create an item, whether knit or crochet, do you think about the fabric you’re making? Sometimes we yarn lovers get so caught up in a the look of a particular design or stitch, we forget about the tactile feel of it, the way it hangs and moves.

What are some of the characteristics of fabric? Its smoothness or texture, stiffness or fluidity, weight, solidity, warmth, elasticity, breathability on the skin, washability, durability. You probably think about such things when purchasing items for your wardrobe or home. If it’s a blanket, you want it to be warm, soft enough to feel good but hardy enough to survive washing. A jacket might also be warm, but needs to be fluid enough to allow ease of movement for the wearer. A top for wearing indoors would need other qualities: breathable fabric that is comfortable to wear and soft against the skin, and that drapes nicely around the body. At the other end of the spectrum is a bag, which works best with a more rigid, structured fabric that will hold its shape over time.

Eleganza Raglan, made with very soft Pima cotton in DK weight

Eleganza Raglan, made with very soft Pima cotton in DK weight

A variety of fabrics can be created in both knit and crochet, but how it’s done is quite different depending on the craft. Since my expertise is in crochet, and since many knitters, and even some crocheters, don’t quite understand how fluid fabric can be achieved in crochet, let me amplify!

Several factors are significant: Firstly, the size of stitches, which means the size of the hook. I tend to use a larger hook than what is called for on the ball band. Typically, for a fingering weight yarn, I use a D or E, for a DK, a G or H, and for worsted, a J or K. There are no hard and fast rules, and a lot depends on the stitches you will be using. If you habitually crochet tightly, your stitches may look very neat and tidy, but your fabric will be dense and rigid. Loosen up those stitches and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in the feel of your fabric.

Shawled Collar Tunic, made with a large hook and mohair blend yarn

Shawled Collar Tunic, made with a large hook and mohair blend yarn

Our chosen stitches make a huge impact on fabric too. In crochet, there is no default stitch like stockinette, but rather, an infinite number of stitch patterns that result in closed or open work fabrics. To make closed fabric that drapes well, avoid short dense stitches like single crochet. Instead, use taller stitches to improve drape in the fabric. Working in one loop only also increases drape. The more open and lacy the stitch pattern used, the more drape. The more dense and textured, the more rigid the fabric. So, any time you use cables, puffs, bobbles or other dimensional stitches, you are working towards structure and away from drape. That’s why these stitches are great for hats and bags.

Of course the fibers in your yarn make a difference too: alpaca, bamboo, pima cotton are examples of fibers that enhance drape. Here are some photos of sweaters from my book entitled Custom Crocheted Sweaters. In each case, the yarns and stitches were carefully chosen so that the sweaters would drape in a flattering way. I hope this shows how crochet fabric can be just as suitable for wearables as is knit. I think both are lovely and both have a place in our lovely yarn universe!

I’m happy to answer any questions you post here about crochet fabric! If you want to delve further into the topic, I invite you to my classes at Vogue Knitting Live, January 17 – 19, 2014, click here for the complete schedule.

_________________
Dora Ohrenstein is a crochet designer, author and publisher. Her books include The New Tunisian Crochet (Interweave, 2013), Custom Crocheted Sweaters (Lark, 2012), the first in-depth book on sweater construction and alteration for crocheters, Creating Crochet Fabric (Lark, 2010), and Crochet Insider’s Passion for Fashion (Leisure Arts, 2009). Dora’s chic and innovative designs appear regularly in Interweave Crochet, Crochet! and Crochet Today. She is Co-Editor of Annies.com widely read Talking Crochet column, and she writes for various other publications about crochet history, international traditions, and techniques. Dora is the founder and editor of Crochet Insider, (www.crochetinsider.com) an online magazine that has won the Flamie Award three times. She is also a professional singer and voice teacher.

On the bookshelf this week: Vintage Design Workshop

Friday, November 1st, 2013
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NaKniSweMo – National Knit a Sweater Month is in full swing and it’s not too late to get started.

Geraldine Warner has put together a wonderful book that allows you to adapt vintage patterns into the perfect fit for modern-day style!

Vintage Design Workshop is divided into two sections, the first half teaches you how to update any vintage pattern to accommodate modern sizes and gives advice on choosing substitutes for yarns that are out of production. The second section demonstrates how to adapt modern patterns to create a vintage silhouette, teaching how to mix and match sleeves, necklines, or collars to the pattern of your choice to achieve a vintage look.

Leave a comment below and tell us if you’ve held onto a vintage pattern that you’d like to update and you could win a copy! All comments must be posted by 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Please make sure to leave us a way to contact you if you win! The winner will be drawn randomly and posted here the following day.

Edited, Wednesday November 6, 2013:

And our Winner is –  Michelle who said, “I’ve updated an already “updated” pattern from the 30′s with good results, but I’d love to have even more ideas. This book looks great.”

Congratulations Michelle! Keep an eye on your inbox, we’ll be contacting you soon.

Tunisian Crochet – More than a Fad!

Sunday, October 27th, 2013
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Today we have a guest post by Dora Ohrenstein. She shares with us the magic of Tunisan crochet.

Lorelei Pullover, copyright Interweave

Lorelei Pullover, copyright Interweave

The excitement about Tunisian crochet and its awesome possibilities has proved enduring in the crochet community. In fact, even some knitters are getting on board. If you are among the uninitiated, it’s time to delve in and find out why crafters are so committed t this variation of traditional crochet

Most people have seen Tunisian simple stitch (Tss) and Tunisian knit stitch (Tks). The latter is popular because it really does look like knitting, although the fabric is quite different (more on that later.) But there are thirty or forty more known Tunisian stitches, and new ones being invented every day!

Calisto Vest, copyright Annies.com

Calisto Vest, copyright Annies.com

The New Tunisian Crochet (Interweave 2013) has instructions for 30 stitch patterns, including many examples of gorgeous lace, textured stitches, entrelac, cables, and intarsia. When I display my collection of swatches from the book, people say things like “I had no idea Tunisian crochet could do so much!” I thoroughly enjoyed researching all the stitches in 19th century needlework books and in a variety of foreign publications, and they’ve become a great source of design inspiration for me. On this page are some of my recently published Tunisian designs, and there will be many more to come!

What I love about designing with Tunisian is
1. The unique look of the stitches.
2. How beautifully the fabric drapes.
3. How different yarns can be featured in an entirely different way from regular crochet.

Blue Jewels Pullover, copyright Annies.com

Blue Jewels Pullover, copyright Annies.com

The resemblance to knitting is part of the appeal, but if you plan to adapt a knit pattern to Tunisian knit stitch, keep this in mind: the return row that’s necessary in Tunisian crochet adds an additional layer of fabric to the back of the work, making it quite a bit heavier and thicker than its knitted equivalent. For this reason, I recommend that you redo the gauge, using a substantially larger hook than the knitting needle used in the original. You”ll end up with larger stitches, and fabric that is far more fluid and attractive. Of course, for some items, like a snug hat or winter jacket, thicker fabric is desirable for coziness and warmth.

For most wearables, however, I get the right fabric when I use very large hooks, or open stitches. For example, the Calisto Vest, worked with Madelinetosh Merino worsted, is worked on a 6.5 hook, whereas most knitted patterns using this yarn call for 5 mm or smaller needles. For the Blue Jewels Pullover, crocheted with Crystal Palace Mini Mochi, usually worked by knitters on size 2.5 or 3 mm needles, I used the 6.5 mm hook again, and the drape is stupendous on this garment.

For the pullover published in Vogue Knitting Crochet 2013, three different stitches were used, two of them lacy. An unusual dropped stitch is shown on the cover sweater of my book, a stitch I found in the Encyclopedia of Needlework, published in 18 .

Lace Pullover, copyright Vogue Knitting

Lace Pullover, copyright Vogue Knitting

Increased interest in Tunisian has had the marvelous effect of instigating the manufacture of new and improved Tunisian tools. Once upon a time I was very attached to my hand crafted wooden Tunisian hooks, but having discovered the advantages of a cabled hook, I transferred my affections to this new tool. When making sweaters, a cabled hook makes the work much easier to handle and lighter on the hands. You can also work in the round using a cabled hook, without resorting to a double ended hook!

When teaching Tunisian crochet, I notice many people have difficulty creating larger stitches because their tension is too tight. If you struggle with this issue, you might want to check out my Interweave DVD, which explores the topic in depth (click here for a preview).

Or, come take my Tunisian classes this January at Vogue Knitting Live, January 17 – 19, 2014, click here for the complete schedule. We’ll be looking at a variety of stitches and techniques, and you’ll become part of the growing group of Tunisian crochet devotees!

_________________
Dora Ohrenstein is a crochet designer, author and publisher. Her books include The New Tunisian Crochet (Interweave, 2013), Custom Crocheted Sweaters (Lark, 2012), the first in-depth book on sweater construction and alteration for crocheters, Creating Crochet Fabric (Lark, 2010), and Crochet Insider’s Passion for Fashion (Leisure Arts, 2009). Dora’s chic and innovative designs appear regularly in Interweave Crochet, Crochet! and Crochet Today. She is Co-Editor of Annies.com widely read Talking Crochet column, and she writes for various other publications about crochet history, international traditions, and techniques. Dora is the founder and editor of Crochet Insider, (www.crochetinsider.com) an online magazine that has won the Flamie Award three times. She is also a professional singer and voice teacher.

Amy Herzog Can Help You Make the Perfect Sweater

Friday, October 25th, 2013
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Do you remember your first sweater? I remember mine. I actually learned how to knit by making a sweater. I got such satisfaction from showing it to people and saying airily, “yeah, I just made that.” Well, I don’t know who I was fooling. Of course you could tell I made it. The shoulders had a Michael Jackson-esque largeness from clumsy seaming, and one sleeve was a tad (noticeably) longer than the other. And I guess I didn’t notice myself that for one inexplicable row I changed from knit to purl and stopped halfway through and returned to knit. Plus, it was about five sizes too big.

There are 2 main reasons why most sweaters don’t fit:

Measurements (yours, incorrectly done)

Gauge (also yours, maybe incorrect)

Amy Herzog, designer of the best-ever sweaters and author of the groundbreaking book Knit to Flatter, has developed a software program that she just rolled out called CustomFit. By the way, this link takes you to my CustomFit home, so don’t go messing around with my measurements! She’ll be at WEBS on Saturday, November 2 from 11:00am – 2:00pm to show off the site and show customers our unique partnership with her website.

acorn-trail-2

Amy herself, in Acorn Trail

 

Here’s how it works: users establish an individual online account that contains their detailed body measurements.  Based on that information, knitters have the opportunity to design a customized sweater from a seemingly infinite number of styles and design details.  Here are a few examples to whet your appetite. I am a CustomFit account holder myself and am about to get busy on a gorgeous scoop-neck pullover with hemmed neck, bottom edge, and sleeves that will fit me like a glove because I spent quite a bit of time making sure my measurements were correctly done.

Amy’s store event will make that part of it a breeze, since WEBS is partnering with her to have our very own CustomFit account. We will record customers’ measurements and this information will be stored under the WEBS account in CustomFit. This gives WEBS the opportunity to provide personalized service in the form of sweater choices and yarn consults on your customized patterns.

If you love Amy’s iconic designs, you can use an existing pattern of hers, which now have CustomFit adaptations and instructions. She even has an FAQ section (which she’ll answer in-store on Saturday, November 2) so that you don’t get frustrated or lost.

It’s really perfect. So we’ll see you on November 2 from 11:00am – 2:00pm, tape measure in hand and ill-fitting knitwear in the trunk of your car, en route to a landfill or Goodwill.

 

On the bookshelf this week: The Art of Seamless Knitting

Friday, October 18th, 2013
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Did you know that November is NaKniSweMo – National Knit a Sweater Month? That means it’s the perfect time to give away a copy of The Art of Seamless Knitting by Simona Merchant-Dest and Faina Goberstein

This book walks you through the ins and outs of seamless knitting with chapters on lace, cables and textured stitches as well patterns worked with top-down and bottom-up construction. You’ll find pullover and cardigan sweaters as well as accessories and loads of tips and tricks for increasing and decreasing in pattern.

Leave a comment below and tell us why you’d love to make a seamless sweater and you could win a copy! All comments must be posted by 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Please make sure to leave us a way to contact you if you win! The winner will be drawn randomly and posted here the following day.

Edited, Wednesday October 23, 2013:

And our Winner is –  Carmen who said, “I would love to make a seamless sweater. I have yet to finish a sweater for myself because I’m too worried about how I’m going to put it all together!”

Congratulations Carmen! Keep an eye on your inbox, we’ll be contacting you soon.

On the bookshelf this week: Scottish Knits

Friday, October 4th, 2013
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This week we’re excited about the color play in the newest book of patterns from Martin Storey, Scottish Knits.

Scottish Knits by Martin Storey

In Scottish Knits, Martin Storey pays homage to beautiful Celtic cables and colorwork with 17 stunning and innovative handknits accessible to knitters of all skill levels. The projects include garments, accessories and home goods, many of which feature different color patterns or textures within a single piece.

2 colorful cardigans from Scottish Knits

Scotland has a rich tradition in handknitting thanks to the exquisite hand-dyed yarns that have been spun in the Scottish islands for centuries. Traditional techniques have been handed down through generations, resulting in a treasure trove of stitch patterns, textures, and colors. What happens when beautifully crafted handknits meet a Scottish sense of color and whimsy? You get an exquisite book of Scottish-influenced designs that knitters will crave.

Leave a comment below and tell us what colors of Rowan Fine Tweed you’d use for either cardigan above and you could win a copy of Scottish Knits! All comments must be posted by 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Oct. 8. Please make sure to leave us a way to contact you if you win! The winner will be drawn randomly and posted here the following day.

Edited, Friday October 11, 2013:

And our Winner is –  Ara who said, “Love your website, your blog, your yarn, and would love to win this book. The designs look intriguing. Just starting a sweater today with yarn purchased at Webs.”

Congratulations Ara! Keep an eye on your mailbox, your copy of Scottish Knits will be arriving soon.

The Harlot is Coming!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
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My first career was in publishing–I did publicity for authors and books, and I worked in New York City, for a fairly well-known set of publishing houses (Random House and Simon & Schuster). My strength was celebrity authors, and I got to work with lots of them. When I moved to western Massachusetts, I worked at a smaller publisher, Storey Publishing, in the Berkshires, and I got to work with another celebrity: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Believe me, I was more excited to work with the Yarn Harlot than almost any other so-called “celebrity.” She’s a beautiful writer, she’s a lovely person, and most importantly, she is totally relatable to her audience and she’s an AMAZING knitter and teacher.

The Yarn Harlot is coming!

The Yarn Harlot is coming!

I’m super-duper excited that Stephanie is coming to WEBS right before Rhinebeck to teach for us!! She will run two classes, Grok the Sock (Thursday, October 17) and Knit Smart (Friday, October 18). Grok the Sock is a 6-hour sock intensive, not difficult, and integral to understanding basic construction of the sock.  Knit Smart is a lecture-style class with Stephanie’s trademark humor and smarts, about how to figure out where you might encounter knitting pitfalls and how to make ensure they don’t derail you.

There is limited space available in these classes, so sign up now and beat the Rhinebeck rush!

EZ

Friday, September 27th, 2013
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No, not “easy.” EZ as in Elizabeth Zimmermann, knitting touchstone, uninhibited free spirit, master knitter, mother of Meg Swansen, and most importantly for this blog post, prolific author. Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote numerous magazine articles and patterns, four design books, Knitting Without Tears, Knitter’s Almanac, Knitting Workshop, Knitting Around, hosted her own PBS television series, and founded Schoolhouse Press, which purveys books, yarn, patterns, and tools.  The Opinionated Knitter, is actually a collection of her newsletters over the course of 10 years. She was also the first knitter to ever be honored with an obituary and article in the New York Times when she died in 1999 at the age of 89.

EZ is beloved by knitters and designers for her innovations which are less overthought ideas and more like common sense. Knitting back and forth on straight needles is slow and tedious; her insistence on knitting in the round on circular needles is fast, eliminates the need to purl, and makes seamless garments. While Zimmermann’s patterns have always been relevant, her garments and clear mathematical formulas that re-invent how to design based on measurements and gauge have experienced a resurgence over the last few years. If you look on Ravelry you’ll see thousands of TomTens, Pi’s, and Baby and Adult Surprises.

Beautifully, mathematically proportionate!

Beautifully, mathematically proportionate!

Here at WEBS, our classes have included EZ’s Baby Surprise Jacket and her Pi Shawl design. These classes ALWAYS sell out.  This fall’s EZ classes are almost sold out (Well, the Pi Shawl class is sold out. Run like the wind to get the last space or two in the Baby Surprise Jacket). Have you knit an EZ pattern? What did you love? What would you like to see next semester? Give me your ideas in the comment section below.

On the bookshelf this week, Great Little Gifts to Knit

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
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In the coming months we’re going to share some new releases and some of our older, but favorite titles, to help get you inspired to try different techniques and discover new designers or just to motivate you to get some gift projects going.

Our first book just happens to be Great Little Gifts to Knit by Jean Moss, a wonderful collection of quick gift projects that are perfect for almost every occasion and every person in your life. We’re thrilled to be the second stop on the blog tour for this book.

The book is broken down into 4 chapters with projects for the home, baby, his and hers. We’re going to share two of our favorite projects with you.

The Hugs Socks, worked in Rowan Felted Tweed Aran, feature fun stripes on the toes and heels and a simple but graphic fair isle pattern on the leg, and since they’re worked in an aran weight yarn they will fly of your needles.

We also really like the Will-o’-the-Wisp Shawlette. You can customize this one by doing a bit of stash diving for contrasting fibers or colors, as Jean suggests in the book, or by adding a beaded accent.

Leave a comment below and tell us what little projects you’re excited to knit or crochet this year and you could win a copy of Jean’s book! All comments must be posted by 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Please make sure to leave us a way to contact you if you win! The winner will be drawn randomly and announced on the blog later next week.

Edited, Wednesday September 11, 2013:

And our Winner is –  Ellen who said, “I am going to do socks, scarves and maybe gloves. (okay fingerless gloves.)”

Congratulations Ellen! Keep an eye on your mailbox, your copy of Great Little Gifts to Knit will be arriving soon.

It’s never too early to get started on those holiday gift projects and with the first day of Autumn less than three weeks away the clock is ticking! Be sure to check out the project gallery to see all the projects from this book and be sure to check out the next stop on the blog tour and all those that follow.

Blog Tour Schedule
Mon 2 Sep       Wendy Knits
Wed 4 Sep       WEBS
Fri 6 Sep          Getting Stitched on the Farm
Mon 9 Sep       Stolen Stitches
Tues 10 Sep     Knittedbliss
Wed 11 Sep     Black Bunny Fibers
Thur 12 Sep     Rhythm of the Needles
Fri 13 Sep        Tiny Owl Knits   
Mon 16 Sep     Just Call Me Ruby
Tues 17 Sep     Zeneedle
Wed 18 Sep     Redshirt Knitting
Thur 19 Sep     A Friend to Knit With
Fri 20 Sep        Craft Sanity
Mon 23 Sep     Connieleneknits
Tues 24 Sep     Knitsofacto
Wed 25 Sep     Ulla Bella
Thur 26 Sep     A Really Good Yarn
Fri 27 Sep        Urban Yarns
Sat 28 Sep       Linda Marveng
Mon 30 Sep     Yarnings
Tues 1 Oct       Tentenknits