Archive for the ‘Tips & Techniques’ Category
If you have an account at yarn.com then the Wish List is a great place to save items you’re not quite sure you’re ready to buy, but you don’t want to loose track of. It’s also an easy way to put together a list of can’t-lose gifts for your family and friends.
Step 1: Add items to your Wish List
Step 2: View and edit your Wish List
Step 3: Share your Wish List with friends and family
We all know how important it is to do a gauge swatch, but sometimes your stitches can be hard to see. Knitting and crocheting with fuzzy yarn, ruffle yarn, or even just a super bulky yarn can make counting your stitches really tricky.
To make it easier, hold your project up to a window so the light can shine through. This will allow you to see your stitches for easy counting! Just make sure you don’t stretch your project, otherwise it will distort your stitch count.
Fur has been hitting the catwalk and our shelves, but is there a way to keep in step with this trend while avoiding looking like a Muppet? The key here is to think small. Accessories and details add edge to your wardrobe without going overboard–I’ll show you how.
To play with this trend, I knit myself a quick fur cowl in only a few hours using Prism Plume in the Kilimanjaro colorway. I simply cast on enough stitches to fit around a 40″ US 13 circular needle, twisted my stitches before joining them to create a twist in the cowl, and knit through two hanks of yarn before binding off. The hand-dyed colors of Plume are luscious and it’s super soft around the neck. Fur cowls look great against a cabled sweater for texture contrast, or go monochrome and match your cowl to your jacket or top–it’s like making a shirt you already own into a fur-necked turtleneck! For a retro-inspired shape, try a keyhole scarf like Zelda from Louisa Harding or a fur collar.
Fur vests can be a fun layering piece, but wear carefully and avoid other fur accessories with this one. Berroco’s Granita (left) and Lousia Harding’s Olive (right, from Book 129) feature similar construction styles with different fur textures. Both are meant to be worn open, which creates a long vertical line and helps avoid any ‘wrapped in animal hides’ comparisons. Belts emphasize the waist–always a good thing! I’d pair these vests with something sleek on the bottom, like slim-fitting pants, skinny jeans, or a pencil skirt and tights.
The hardest part of all is deciding which fur yarn you’ll choose! These are not like the eyelash yarns of yesterday–fur-look yarns now come in different fibers and textures ranging from natural-looking fur replicas to colorfully flamboyant options. Rozetti Wicked Fur (bottom left, in color 104 Zebra) is soft, fluffy and comes in natural shades with different color ‘tips,’ just like real fur. If you want a splash of color, check out Louisa Harding Luzia (shown in 02 Ruby and 05 Sapphire) or Filatura di Crosa Jenny (shown here in 08 Almond, but it’s also available in jewel tones). Luzia has a smoother texture that tends to lie flat, which I think looks very realistic in its natural colors; Jenny has longer feathery strands mixed with shorter ones for depth. And Berroco Marmot (in the back, color 3743 Amber) creates a fabric reminiscent of shearling fleece when knitted up.
Will you be trying out one of these fur yarns this winter? How will you be using it?
Coned yarns aren’t just for weaving! Yarns wound onto a cone are wonderful to knit and crochet with. They generally come in fairly large quantities, which means fewer joins and weaving in ends. The only tricky part can be getting the yarn off the cone easily while you’re working with it. You could put the cone on the floor, but your seat may not be high enough to be effective. A great solution is to run the yarn over a tall object so it glides off the cone easily.
Here, I used a tall computer monitor, but a desk lamp would work really well too. If you haven’t worked with coned yarns before, you can try the Valley Yarns 496 Greenway Shawl knit in Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel (Colrain Lace) and Valley Yarns 456 Sumac Berry Shawl crocheted in Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk.
Have you ever held a dripping sweater in your hands and wonder what is the best way to remove the excess water before blocking? Just the right tool may be found in your kitchen.
After I finish knitting or crocheting a project, I like to give it a good soak in some water with wool wash. I’ve tried a number of ways of removing the extra water before pinning it to a blocking board. My favorite and probably the quickest method is to use a salad spinner. It’s a lot more gentle than the spin cycle in my washing machine. I’ve used the towel method, but I don’t love the big pile of wet towels I have at the end. So if the project isn’t too big, I grab my salad spinner.
I’m always impressed by how much excess water I can get out with the salad spinner. (Yay centrifugal force!) A large salad spinner is big enough for many projects such as scarves, shawls, baby garments, lightweight sweaters, and gauge swatches (you do swatch, right?).
What is your favorite method of getting out the water from your project? Leave a note in the comments.
When blocking mittens or fingerless mitts with color-work or lace, the stitches may need to be stretched a bit during blocking to settle into shape. Instead of just soaking your project and laying it flat to dry, you can use blocking wires (or long single point needles in a pinch!) to pull the edges evenly. This lets you block the mittens with minimal pin use and virtually no distortion to the pattern!
All proceeds from the sale of the Safe Passage Hat and Mittens benefit Safe Passage.
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.
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.
If you’re looking for a great handmade gift to give this holiday season, try socks! Socks can be quick and easy while still making a big impact. If you’re new to the world of knitting socks, tackling the heel may be the most intimidating part. Once you master the wrap and turn technique, they’re a cinch! You can see the wrap and turn demonstrated below, and you’ll be on your way to making socks in no time.
Valley Yarns B-3 Basic Socks are a great pattern to get started with if you’re never tried knitting socks before.
This week’s tip comes from WEBS Design Manager, Kirsten. She helps us solve the mystery of what length circular needle to use for our projects.
Finding the right length of circular needles can be confusing to even experienced knitters. As a general rule, the length of the needles should be shorter than the circumference of your knitting. You can always scrunch the stitches up on a short needle, but you can’t stretch them out. For example, if you’re knitting a 38″ sweater, you would use 32″ circular needle. Any longer and the stitches won’t reach all the way around, and any shorter wouldn’t leave enough room for the stitches on the needle. Of course, there’s an exception to this rule. You can use a needle longer than the length of your stitches if you’re doing magic loop. With the magic loop technique, you could actually work a hat on 40″ needles.