A Gift for My Hand Knits

As space is the constant, I continue to ‘play’ with different configurations on how best to store my hand-knits and how best to organize the stash.  Consequently, the look in the yarn room keeps changing as I now use one room and its closet for both.  Questions I ask myself:  How can I store my obsession without looking like a hoarder?  How can I see my full stash when it is time for creating?  How can I treat my hand-knits to the best care for longevity?  Light in the room?  And, so forth.

In drilling down for answers, I’ve been reading.  Topics such as:  How do you store hand-knits?  Is there a special way to fold sweaters?  What shelving and/or containers are best for breathability of natural fibers?  I am asking these questions because my hand knits are my wardrobe.  I am noticing that when I pull out a sweater I haven’t worn in a while, I am seeing fold marks.  Do people steam out those fold marks?  Is that healthy for the fibers?  Is there a way to prevent what seems like permanent folds in a garment?  You see, I can go on and on with questions like this.

In my research, I have gleaned a few common recommendations:  store away clean, give space for air circulation, and keep out of direct light when storing.  So, to that end, I evaluated my current system of storage and have since found ways to improve to allow for this criteria.

Store away clean has not been a problem as who in the world stores away clothes that are dirty?  (mumbling)  Most of my sweaters are worn with a layer underneath which helps with body sweat and such and after a duration of time in wearing, gets their due cleaning.

Give space for air circulation has gotten my attention.  I have been storing my sweaters in plastic bins.  Articles give this a thumbs up.  So many per bin with storing the heaviest on the bottom is a good start.  A way to improve on that, according to these resources, is to store and fold sweaters in that bin with tissue paper, that is, acid-free tissue paper and to fold in a particular way.  Of course, I thought, as isn’t that how wedding dresses and other special care items are stored?  The articles contradicted in where to put the paper, between sweaters or in the folding of them.  But, I thought once I had the paper, I could ‘play’.  And, play I have done.  I purchased lots of packages from JoAnn Fabrics, online.  Seems like they do not carry this in stores.  I also learned this paper can be purchased at some dry cleaners.

Here is the paper between the sweaters.

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Dart Detail, Perhaps?

Project as seen on Ravelry, also detailed [HERE]

It is typical to find me in my closet of hand knits when I am looking for something to wear.  This past week was no different.  I pulled out my lovely tri-color tunic I finished about six months, ago.  I thought it would be the perfect layer for the weather and proceeded.  With a casual, happy feeling I put on this garment, looked into a mirror, and thought, “hey, what happened?”  I felt like I was swimming in it.  Did you ever notice that when something doesn’t fit the way you want, it becomes highly distracting?   I was uncomfortable to the point that I changed out of it knowing I needed to do some adjusting.

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Honeycomb Slip Stitch

Last year, The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo brought in designer, Heather Lodinsky, to teach a skill on one of her designs.  The pattern was her two-tone slip stitch cable pullover and the skill was using slip stitches in cable work.  In my experience in knitting, I had not encountered slip stitches to be used for the design of a garment, only to be done along the edges of knitted pieces.  So, I was quick to take on the pullover with the Guild and it led me to do a self-investigation of slip stitches, in general.

ON SLIP STITCH STUDY

One way to choose a pattern is to have specific learning intentions in mind.  With this ‘study’, I purposely looked for patterns that used slipped stitches and and used those slipped stitches in  the design process.  This kind of focus not only informs, but also helps to narrow the field of potentials.  My curiosity is now satisfied and this is what I’ve found:

  • Slip stitches can be used as a variation to the basic cable technique.  More [HERE] about this project.

  • Slip stitches can be used to create an overall linen or tweed look in the fabric .  There is more [HERE] on this.

  • Slip stitches can create a unique broken-line look in striping.   More [HERE].

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Vest [Best] Dress[ed]

For a project that pretty much flew off the needles, it is interesting that I have so much to say about it.   I have lots to say not due to any pattern issue or yarn dissatisfaction, but rather the changes I made in how I constructed it.  From long tail cast on to sewing on the seam binding along the back neck, I feel these changes led to its success and will lead to the garment’s longevity.

I will begin with the pattern.  Found in an unlikely source for me, the vogue knitting online store,   I’ve always thought these a collection of older issue VK patterns so figured I had already seen all of them.  I virtually stumbled across this and was surprised it was not familiar to me.   I also found a bunch more I really liked and have queued so I now know that these collections of [free] or otherwise select patterns on various knitting websites may offer new possibilities and are not necessarily from publications.  I love everything about this garment:  its deep hem rib that shapes the piece, the deep v neckline, its concept, the pockets, its versatility, oh, I could go on.  There is nothing I do not like except its construction.  I even used the yarn  of the pattern and chose a very similar color palate substituting only the antique for grape and keeping the candy apple red color.

On the yarn.  The yarn utilized in the pattern is a bulky Lion Brand fiber called Homespun of acrylic/polyester.  I love the boucle look of this yarn and knew if I was going to knit this, this would be the only yarn I would consider.  The fiber looks almost like rickrack and gives the surface of the knitted fabric a soft, curly look.   Fabulous, however I was soon to find out that it was difficult to work with.

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Granny Square or Flower Child

I think I have more questions than answers after finishing this project.  This will create lingering in my mind.  The topic is crochet.   This is definitely the most challenging project I have made in crochet as it involved gauge, fit, shaping, and color changing within a row, none of which I am sure I did correctly and none of which I’ve ever done, before.  Also, technique in sewing the crochet pieces together.  What I knew however is that this pattern would be a great way to use up some remnant stash with its offering of color possibilities.  I have plenty of remnants from past projects of small bits of color however I knew I did not have enough of one color for the main body.    Purchasing only three skeins and using those scraps,  I thought this a great way to stretch yardage.  I did go with the yarn used in the pattern for this main color (MC), a silver grey filatura-di-crosa- zarina-chine.

Organizing stash by weight serves me well when choosing from remnants.  I just pull the container holding the weight I need/want.  Housing same weight yarn  in wide mouthed containers with remnants from each project wrapped separately in plastic bags and inclusive of their very important yarn bands  lets you see your choice quickly and efficiently and reminds you of the content and recommended gauge of that particular fiber.  To me, organizing is a huge time saver and allows my brain to remember the colors I have in particular weights.   These containers go from fingering on top, sport weight, worsted/aran, to bulky weight scraps at the bottom.

I had a really hard time getting the gauge for this and had to go down quite a few hook sizes to get even close to what the pattern required.   Here is the first rainbow I created which ended up being way too large.

We all know it is vitally important to achieve gauge for fit purposes.  In this case, gauge also had to be achieved for those multitude of pieces that would have to fit together, much like a jigsaw puzzle.

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Linen Tunic ~ Photos Help, Again

It was a hot summer.  Record-breaking in fact, in our neck of the woods.  Knitting is at a minimum for me during the summer due to  heat, not to mention the warmth of the summer sun  is a constant force of beckoning.   Who doesn’t want to be outside during short summer months?  On the other hand, the knitter in me is always looking to move forward with the stash and there is the cool of the  evenings.

I thought linen; lightweight and stays in the theme of summer.  I’ll pull the linen from the stash to work up.  I’ve had this bundle for a number of years, had never knitted with linen before and wanted to  give it a try.  I had purchased it for a darling top that caught my attention with it’s open stitch weave and detached cowl.  It is amazing to me how an experienced knitter can always find new things to take on.  Between the new yarns, new-fangled stitches, and that never-ending flow of patterns, there is ALWAYS opportunity for taking on something new.

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Level One Knitwear Designing, Make it Your Own

No, I am not officially a knitwear designer however the concept of designing knitwear, to me, has many levels.  When I think of top level knitwear designers, the people who come to mind are those who have had multiple original designs published in major knitting magazines.  Yarn companies hire these people to design using their yarns.  Then, there are the knitwear designers who design and sell from their own etsy shop, website, or the like.  You see many fledgling designers such as these on Ravelry.   And, then there are the knitters who have the ability to take a published pattern and make it their own with modifications, alterations, shape changing, yarn choice, color changing, to name a few ideas.   The later would best define where I am in the designing of my own hand knits.    With this particular project, this level one designer in me came out loud and clear.

Motivated to learn a new method called the two-tone cable technique, being taught at the local Guild, the sweater itself did not call to me so much.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely pattern designed by Heather Lodinsky, I did not want a basic crew neck nor long, lacy sleeves.

So, I began to configure how I could re-design this pattern having the best of both worlds; learning this technique and having a garment in the end I would love.  Admittedly, the changes I wanted for this garment came quickly to me.

Design Plan

I don’t know if there is an order to the process of designing but in this instance,  the beautiful front and center cable was perfect inspiration for the long lean line I always try to obtain.  So, for that long lean look, all I had to do was extend the cable which led to tunic length. I thought  shaping at the side seams would make for a better fit.  I also knew side slits could be an option at the time of seaming.  I was drawn immediately to the idea of short sleeves with the cable pattern seen in the body to continue in the sleeves and that I would ditch the lacy fabric sleeves seen in the pattern.  I love details so I thought a provisional cast-on with an i-cord bind off would nicely frame the sweater and give it a bit of boldness at the edges where it is otherwise very soft looking.  I had the berroco lustra in my stash so the colors were pretty much chosen for me.

Use Resources for Help

Remember, I am not a designer and do not have all the measurements for different styles right at my finger tips.  Therefore, to help me in the tunic I wanted, I turned to my pattern stash, found a tunic length pattern with shaped sides in the weight of yarn I was using so used those directions and measurements for the shaping.  I give credit to Kate Davies and her exquisite eye for detail where I learned about provisional cast on with i-cord bind off when working on a different project.  Now I have that technique in my ‘tool kit’ so called upon it, here.

I could not understand the directions for the ribbing in the pattern so I used what I knew about corrugated ribbing.  I didn’t need to think about the slit along the side seams while I was knitting as slits are just seams that are not sewn closed.   So, really the major challenge came with the sleeves.

Well, I knew I wanted short sleeves.  I measured the diameter of my upper arm.  Knowing my gauge, I casted on x stitches per inch x no. of inches.  So, the corrugated ribbing fit just the way I wanted.  I knew I wanted the main cable pattern and at least one of the 4 stitch cross over patterns along either side of the main cable.  I knew I needed some more stitches for binding off along the selvage.  This gave me the number of stitches I needed in the first row after the ribbing.  Then,  I figured about two inches for the actual sleeve length (after ribbing and before armhole bind off) and needed to get to the number of stitches to follow the sleeve cap according to direction.  I knew I would be increasing and my gauge told me how many rows I had to do so.  I was home free, at point of armhole bind-off to follow the shape of the sleeve cap given in the pattern.  It became a mathematical computation to know how many rows to knit, when to decrease along the selvage to have the cap fit perfectly into the armhole seam of the body.  I sketched the shape of the cap out onto paper as it was a little tricky with the back of the cap sleeve shaped a bit differently than the front of it.

You can see some calculations and extraneous math.  Logic, math, and knitting skill came together for some lovely sleeves.  Gotta say, I am pleased.

Now, you can make plans till the cows come home but what you see in your mind’s eye might not always be what you see in person.  When I slipped on my sweater I was thrilled with all of the modifications I made except for one.  I felt the sweater was too long.

Change is Sometimes Needed

Did you ever know anyone who was a whiz at technology but the minute there is a screw-up cries for help?  Same with knitting.  The talent in any form comes if and when you are able to fix your own problem(s).  So, here I was with this ‘problem’.  Well, I thought . . . what do you see in ready-wear to help with shape, fit, and comfort?  Shirring!  That’s it!  I’ll shirr the side seams!  I took a crochet hook and worked 3 sc, (single crochet) chain 3 (for a little loop) 3 sc,, chain 3, repeat, along the inside of the side seam, threaded some durable narrow twill tape through the loops and pulled for fit.  Perfect!  And, I will flatten out when in storage so as not to wrinkle.

Celebrate by Wearing

I love my sweater.  I supported our Guild, it taught me this cable technique.  It served as design practice.  It was a perfect pattern for this yarn that was in my stash, and now it serves as a wearable garment for my wardrobe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ripping Out and Resolving Renaissance

Call me obsessed.  Call me intense.  Call me stubborn.  This sweater, Renaissance designed by Teva Durham was NOT photographing to its fullest potential and it was driving me mad until I realized . . . oh, dear . . . it’s the SWEATER!!   My thinking . . . What was it?  The body fit perfectly, the neckline moved about in a ruffly kind of way as intended and certainly appropriate for its name sake.  The sleeves . . . dramatic, as seen in the pattern.  Wait.  The sleeves.  The sleeves.  Something about the sleeves.  Yes, they are long but that is the style of the pattern.  Oh, wait . . . what about their width?  That could be it.  If I made them narrower. . .   If I make the sleeves narrower, the cap to fit more snug at the top, that might give the sweater an overall better look.  Wait.  The sleeves. Maybe, just a little shorter.  For comfort sake.  Wait!  How ’bout three-quarter length keeping the essence of the pattern?  I notice I get excited, probably because I have a plan to resolve what seems to be ailing me about this garment.
Plan:

  • rip out sleeves
  • rewind yarn for reuse
  • re-design for three-quarter length which will involve changing the shaping
  • keep bell shape hem and slits as that matches the neckline
  • try on and call upon a second opinion

When I think about ripping out, I just think backwards the steps I took to knit the garment.  I want to reuse the yarn so I very carefully un-weave the ends of yarn around the armholes.  I use a blunt darning needle so as not to split the yarn.

I begin pulling where I ended up knitting the piece.  Pull.  Pull into a big, sad heap.

I do all the pulling first so that I do not wind the ball of yarn too tight.

I do not want to stretch the yarn.  After it is a big heap, I wind the yarn very gently around my hand.

 I continue until I have both sleeves pulled and wound into balls.

I let the yarn relax and go off to work on other projects.  My goal is to rid the yarn of its memory.  When I come back in a few days or so, I wind the yarn so that when I am knitting, I am pulling the yarn from the center and the yarn isn’t rolling all over the place (you never need a yarn bowl).  You can see how much straighter the yarn is.

I take a deep breath, call upon my patience, study my design notes, and knit the sleeves, again.  I sew them back into the armhole. Yes.  They are now about 1.5 inches tighter and 5 inches shorter.  I choose to not re-attach the buttons.

I show hubby the new look and he wants to see the original picture that came with the pattern and he wants to see the photos we took TWICE before.  I charm him into another photo shoot and I ask to go back to our original spot, the beautiful reeds of similar hue.  It is a beautiful day, the lighting is on our side, we are relaxed and I am feeling confident the sweater has been improved upon.

Say what you might . . . obsessed, driven, mad . . . I prefer to call it determined to get a project to fit right and look smart.

POST SCRIPT:  The story of ‘Renaissance’ is a series of events beginning with post 1 here, followed by this, ending here with a very happy girl, above.

Little Red Wagon

I recently heard someone say of her house, “This is not a house of yarn.”  She and I were looking to repair a knitted hat and she was fearing she did not have yarn or supplies we could use.  With that criteria one would say that this home is a house of yarn.  And, I am always looking for new, functional, and creative ways in which to store it.  And, the projects.  And, the works-in-progress.  And, the knitting tools.  My goal:  convenience, cleanliness, free of dog destruction, least amount of space, variety, and attractive.  I love perusing yarn rooms and often talk to knitters about their space.  When you google yarn rooms or craft rooms, you see oodles of shelving either lining walls or mounted on walls.  I do think shelving is handy however, I was recently in a local yarn shop, Raveloe Fibers and quickly became inspired by how the yarn shop owner displays her new yarns.  She uses antique suitcases, here and there, some opened, some stacked, some vertical, some horizontal.  Something about the juxtaposition of old (antique) and new was very appealing to me and I felt added an artistic appeal to her shop as well as variety in storage.   The suitcases drew me in to want to investigate further their contents, I would think the goal of her shop, any shop.  I’ve written about organizing yarn and supplies before here, here, and here and being a kind of organizational geek, I continue to tweak a ‘system’ that works for me.  Here is what is working along with some added features, ideas that may work for you.  Hang tight, this is a three room tour!

Knitting Tools to Enhance Knitting Space (aka Our Living Room)  

My shelving bin is working beautifully for my works-in-progress.  We have found an out-of-the-way spot, away from sunlight, near where I knit for easy reach and my projects are free from dirt, dust, and dog.  I’ve added a few things to make this space even better.

Likely, you’ve thought of sewing caddies for knitting supplies.  But, did you ever think to ‘borrow’ from your hubby’s fishing supplies . . . those little boxes for holding lures are working perfectly for all my little knitting tools such as row markers, stitch markers, and the like.

Purchased from an office supplies store, a 3 ” binder is ideal for me to store round needles and is easily placed on a book case, an inconspicuous spot.   From the kitchen, I’ve pulled a ceramic pitcher as it makes a nice, decorative holder for my straights.

Another kitchen item I find useful are trays.  I think I purchased these from Joann Fabrics a few years, back.  I use a tray for each project to hold the tools I need specific to each project.  There is no running around losing time and adding frustration.  If I have more than one project going at once, which happens now on occasion, there are multiple trays.  They also make for easy, quick pick-up and fit easily into the shelving bin.

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Finished Projects Space (aka Guest Bedroom)   

Moving to the second room, the space and shelving that holds my finished projects is nothing more than industrial shelving.  Sounds awful but is working so ideally, I’ve doubled it in size replacing an old shelving unit.  Together these utility shelves offer these qualities:  keeps hand knits clean from dust and sun, can see all garments, easy access, piles of sweaters not falling over, and tucks behind door.  The flatter bins can store those speciality projects such as my Hoodie Glam providing the air and space they need to keep their shape and elegance.  I keep just one project or two in them.

Hoodie Glam as seen on Ravelry

That space can fit about 100 projects from super bulky to the finest of yarns due to those bin sizes and the room is not altered at all for its other multi-functional purposes.  Yeah!  Oh, and by the way the shelving is lightweight, easily movable, can be folded up and stored away (I’m talking about the shelving) and was put together in about five minutes by me only and the entire idea including all of the plastic bins and their covers came in under $200.00!

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Yarn Stash Space and Yarn Room Space (aka office/yarn room)   

And, the third room on this tour is my piece of heaven.  Of course, I am no different and utilize book cases for office supplies and yarn bundles of remnants put together and projects I could not get to during employment.

Yarn room tools ~  Sweater racks lean against the wall in storage, come out for thorough drying after blocking, and of course, what yarn room wouldn’t be complete without a yarn winder and swift? Having ample table space allows creative energies to flow.

Sewing supplies  (a must for knitters) ~  I’ve asked for the closet door to be removed for quick, easy access.  That’s a fabric shoe holder hanging from the clothes pole.  It makes perfect storage for all kinds of sewing supplies.  A thankless job is to sort those buttons.  I’ve worked through about half of them.  The container below the tray has dividers separating size, color, style, etc.

Your more typical yarn containers are here.  Those Guild bags are ideal for sorting and holding projects.

Hubby was so thrilled when his Brooks Professional saddle arrived and I was so thrilled with its box!  Perfect for yarn scraps!

I had in the back of my head that inspiration of antique suitcases.  Not an easy combination, creativity and function, however when I was in Dick’s Sporting Goods recently, I saw this wagon.  It stopped me dead.  Yes, a wagon meant for hauling sports equipment or camping supplies, my mind went immediately to THIS!

I love the concept of the traditional red wagon.  I love the concept of its sports-like nature.  Somehow  its attitude brings my interest of health and wellness into this space and I appreciate it even more.  Just look how this newest addition fits in against the wall!  Keeping open to using containers not necessarily meant for knitting has given my space a unique feel unto itself.

I do enjoy organizing and am always interested in new and improved solutions in the handling of this knitting ‘obsession’.  I work hard to capture the beauty of the process but at the same time want to  be respectful to the space of others.  Share and share alike if you have any ideas that are working particularly well for you!

 

 

 

“If only . . .” fix-it idea

“If only the sleeves were longer.”  “If only the neck was loser.”  “I wish I had shaped the side seams.” “If only” or “I wish” thoughts are prevalent in the world of hand knitting.  They are phrases I very much want to avoid, of course, as they create your beautiful handiwork to have a lot of shelf time and I knit to wear my garments.  Unfortunately, they are phrases that all knitters have had at one time or another including me when expectation and reality do not meet and to me, the talented knitter is not one who knits but is one who knows how to avoid or solve their “if only” moments.  Also, one who actually wears their knits if that is indeed the knitter’s purpose for knitting.  I believe I am in the midst of such a situation, admitting it, and coming to terms with it.  I may have an idea you may want to borrow if you have an “if only” issue that is similar.  Here goes:

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