Monday, 29 February 2016

The Sleeve of Doom

It's serious. A matter of life and death even. Because I really don't want to freeze to death in Edinburgh.

All went according to schedule until last night when I bound off the first sleeve, only to realise that that sleeve is too long as well as far too wide. There isn't enough time for me to do it all over again, so I have had to resign myself to not being able to wear my Pixelated Pullover to the Edinburgh Yarn Fest.

Just a few days ago I started this post and was quite certain I would manage it all:

As long as I don't restrict my knitting to the weekends like I usually have to, I should be able to do this. I'm optimistic, but at the same time the realist in me knows very well that something might throw a spanner in the works at the last minute. I definitely don't have the time to reknit the hip increases (because those hips are now at my thighs... this much yarn is heavy), but I can finish the sleeves. 

Something definitely threw a spanner in the works now!

Of course I made changes to the sleeves according to my measurements - I added 10 extra stitches that I needed to decrease along the way. It sounded simple enough, but I was concerned about the placement of my decreases. That part worked out fine, actually. I don't even know why my sleeve is so long! I measured my arm properly, but I suspect the yoke is deeper than expected. I will have to make my increases more frequently starting just above the elbow next time and I would prefer a longer ribbing, too. Ultimately, I think that I needn't even have added those 10 extra stitches to fit my upper arms. Ah well. Live and learn. Knit and reknit.

What are your knitting worries at the moment? Tell me I am not alone!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Pattern Writing Skills with Kate Atherley

When Kate Atherley comes to town, you go to her classes. So when Kate made her way from Toronto, Canada, to Bath in the United Kingdom, of course I had to go. 

Last Sunday was a wet and windy day as I made my way to the magnificent A Yarn Story on Walcot Street for some lessons in pattern writing for knitters. As you know, I have designed a few knitting patterns, but there is always more to learn and I was particularly keen on any tips Kate could give me to make my patterns easy to read. And so she did!

"Enable your knitters to be successful."

The class was three hours long and packed with invaluable advice. I had several moments when I thought, "Ah, I'll need to change this!" or "That will definitely need to go in my patterns from now on." I plan to gradually rewrite my existing patterns and take better photographs, especially of socks, to make them more appealing and informative. After all: "Life is too short to struggle with poor instructions."

As a result, what I need to pay more attention to in my patterns are the following points:

  • make sure to always include gauge information: in stocking stitch and in pattern stitch, always after blocking
  • add notes/suggestions when adding yarn information to make it easier to find yarn substitutions
  • size/fit information: note finished measurements and how the fit is mean to be (positive/negative ease etc.)
  •  add version number/date, contact info and details of where to get more knitting patterns to the end of the pattern
  • be more specific about copyright and what I allow/prohibit regarding the use of my patterns and finished knits made from them

Of course there was a whole lot of additional information that is beyond the scope of this blog post. If Kate Atherley comes to a place near you, it is well worth going to this class so you can get all the detailed tips directly from her.

A little self-discovery

I had a little revelation in class, too. I always knew that my stitches lie differently on my needles as a result of changing my way of knitting several times because no pattern I learned from ever specified what knitting styles they were and how they differed. This always led to issues when I learned new stitches because how I knit into a stitch is different, and this gets very confusing and frustrating sometimes. 

Turns out I am a combination knitter! My stitches lie with the left leg forward (also known as Eastern uncrossed knitting) while most instructions seem to assume it is the right leg that is to the front of the needle. Remember my moaning about no longer being able to figure out the Kitchener stitch after changing the way I knit? Yeah, that's why. Maja from Cloopco explains Eastern uncrossed knitting in this blog post - check out her videos, too.

Further reading

As part of Kate's class, every participant got a copy of her book Pattern Writing for Knit Designers that I am looking forward to reading. (I happen to be mentioned in it, too, as Kate asked me about pattern sales on Etsy. You will find a host of better known knitters and experts in the book who share their knowledge.) Since I was there, I also got a copy of Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet. Can't go wrong with that!

Those three hours on a dreary, drizzly Sunday turned out to be very well spent and I am very grateful for the expert advice, especially from the point of view of a tech editor, we received that day. Highly recommended!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Bill Oddie, The Knitting Song

Who knew Bill Oddie had a song about knitting? I didn't and I am shocked. If you, too, had no idea, here it is for your enjoyment. It's catchy!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Knitting and Crochet Inspiration: Valentine's Day Edition

Whatever your plans for the day, whether you spend it with your significant other, friends or by yourself, enjoy it and do what you love!

Since for many of us, crafting is one of the loves of our lives, I have trawled through the dangerous depths of Ravelry to find interesting knitting and crochet patterns for you. Enjoy!

4. Rose

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Knitting Inspiration: Super Chunky Knits

What do you mean, it's not cold enough for super chunky knits? Do we really need an excuse to knit with squishy wool? I don't think so! (Also, I am still very cold in my flat even though it is fairly mild outside.)

If your fingers are itching to cast on something new, here are some ideas for colourful chunky knits:

1. The Big Hat is an easy-peasy project suitable for beginners who want to try knitting in the round. The super bulky yarn makes it a quick knit, too, which is great if you want to show off your latest accomplishment as soon as possible. Just add a pompom and you're good to go. From the Ravelry pattern page: "The Big Hat includes two tutorial videos that guide you step-by-step through the pattern, from beginning to end. Watch the entire Big Hat being knit up, and follow along at your own pace!"

2. Have you always wanted a chunky knitted pouf in your home? I have! Now you can knit your own. Puff Daddy is ideal to get to grips with a large three dimensional project. Knit it, stuff it, enjoy it! Just make sure you use durable yarn such as cotton or acrylic.

3. Blankets are a favourite among knitters and crocheters, but they can take a long time to make. Big Box Detox has a free knitting pattern for you so you can make this Quickie Blanket in next to no time only using knit and purl stitches. If you are new to knitting and want to practice your stitches (and have some patience), then this is a great way to start something big.

4. Made from Malabrigo Yarn Rasta, this pretty shawl caught my attention immediately. Sentiment will definitely keep you cosy. The edging is good practice for first time lace knitters and the whole project should knit up fast with the chunky yarn. Go bold and choose an eye-catching colour!

What is your favourite chunky knit?

Thursday, 4 February 2016

More ChiaoGoo Goodies

Regular readers will know that I only recently made acquaintance with ChiaoGoo knitting needles and that I loved them from the start. Since Christmas was only two months away, several ChiaoGoo needles and notions ended up on my wish list.

I was a very lucky girl. Mark gave me this useful needle case for my circulars. There is space for every size and there is also a little pocket at the front which can be closed securely with a zip. That is where I keep the cable connectors and end caps/stoppers which Mark's parents gave me. I desperately needed those notions for my jumper, so I was especially happy with my presents.

You wouldn't believe how many orders I places between Christmas and mid January... On Christmas Day itself I took advantage of the free postage Purlescence offered and completed my set of TWIST cables. At the beginning of January they had a sale, so of course I had to buy some knitting needles to complete the small set. And after they arrived I thought, why not complete the large set, too, and buy the needles and cable connectors? And so I did, though I decided not to buy some of the larger sizes simply because I wouldn't use them. If necessary, I can return to my KnitPro circs instead.

Once the order arrived, I realised I forgot to buy matching cables for the larger needles, so, yeah, another order had to be placed. There was a slight mishap with this one as I was accidentally sent the transparent SPIN cables instead of the red TWIST ones, but I was curious about them anyway and decided to keep them. They will be very useful and I am sad about my not being able to use them with the smaller needles that I need far more often for my projects. I haven't tried the SPIN cables yet, though I did attach them to see what they're like and I think knitting with them will be fun and easy. I am very impressed so far.

Have any of you used SPIN before? What are your impressions?