Tech Tip Tuesday: Weave in ends after blocking

There are various schools of thought on this topic – should ends be woven in before or after blocking?

I tend toward the latter. Blocking allows all of your stitches to get adjusted and smushed around (technical term), and that includes ends. You can even tighten or loosen end stitches to look better during blocking.

After the item has dried, the end is easier to deal with – the wonkiness of any fabric is now smoothed out, and you can put the correct tension into the weaving in of ends to make it look good now, without worrying what a block will do.

Do you have a preference here? I’d love to hear!

Here’s my latest blocked item – a peek at a new design I’m calling Blackberry Goodness for Nancy:

Grape goodness for Nancy

 

 

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FO: Lintilla

Over at the Knitmore Girls podcast, there is a  “Behm-a-long” happening – folks are knitting up wonderful patterns by Martina Behm, a lovely German designer with some really hot patterns.

On my trip to Princeton and then Rhinebeck, and staying in Hyde Park, and then a night with friends in Katona, I worked on my shawl, and while I brought back-up emergency knitting, and even packed my Chaio Goo interchangeable needle set, just in case, I never finished the shawl. I came close on the airplane ride home, and then realized that I had  messed the final tip, so I put it away, and finished it Tuesday night, and blocked it over night.

Along the way, I took the opportunity to weigh the remaining amount of my 150 gr Wollmeise skein in the madness of the Saturday Rhinebeck crowds to make sure that I had enough yarn to finish the  project – and I had 12 grams left, so I didn’t cut it close (it will be put in the “little balls of fingering weight yarn” bag for some future use).

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The weather got cool just in time to wear it – lucky me!

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Project details here: Renee’s Lintilla

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Rhinebeck Redux – Part 2

Rhinebeck is more than a marketplace, which is its charm. I happened on a sheep-dogging demo when I wandered in around 12 noon on Sunday

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and then met Amy again for lunch. (You should really check out her video blog Hudson Valley Knits.) I got to meet her mother-in-law after lunch, and then I had one of my fan girl moments when Amy Herzog and her trusty sidekick Jackie were only 10 feet away. They are as lovely in person as you would want them to be, and I apologized for not bringing my beta-test Customfit sweater on the trip (needed cardigans for my long journey amid wonky HVAC systems). Amy had read my review of Customfit, (you have checked it out, right?) and we chatted about all the plans – some secret – that they would like to bring to the market. And bless Amy, she got my photo with the two of them:

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Stash Enhancements:

I don’t need any yarn really, and the fiber had to really call to me. I managed to buy some yarn from Cephalopod Yarns (Bugga in a really subtle colorway), and on Sunday, another very bright skein for a secret gift at Miss Babs. These are the two skeins:

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and then I went by Into the Whirled, and showed Chris (the dyer) my hat and cowl combo that I knit after spinning her lovely BFL.

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She was quite interested (no lines at that moment) so I wasn’t pulling her away from customers) and shared what must be a dyer’s dilemma: she only had time to test knit swatches of her beautiful colorways. I might have bought certainly did buy  a couple of more bumps of fiber to spin. But since this was the second fiber festival of the year for me, I held back because I have a lot of fiber to spin!

IMG_1914I also bought a couple of new spindles, and an adjustment to a third. In Abby’s class, we got to choose a student spindle, so I picked up a low-whorl one since I don’t own any, and with Amy, we found an interesting hybrid, a top-whorl Turkish spindle. I know! Amy apparently has been getting a lot of looks with hers, but the price point was good, and I didn’t see a lot of other ones at Rhinebeck. Finally, I got some new arms for the Trindle  I bought two years ago – these are heavier, and are little bronze hearts. Really lovely!

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Finally, I left with lovely memories of amazing samples, trees with flaming leaves, and the knowledge of a special time..

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Rhinebeck Redux – Part 1

This year, I was lucky enough (again!) to have a work trip out to the NJ/NY area that ended just before Rhinebeck (aka New York Sheep and Wool) festival began, so I once again had an experience of a lifetime.

As two years ago, I stayed in a house down in Hyde Park, just slightly more sane than actual Rhinebeck, and drove up with better directions and a shorter trip than last time — by at least an hour.

Patsy, my host, was welcoming again, and this time I got the lovely big room with the rocking chair, and queen canopy bed. Very smart choice, and I loved it.

Last time when I went to Rhinebeck it got a little lonely hanging out all day on my own and not knowing anyone, so I put up on the Ravelry board that I was looking to join in dinner with anyone, and Amy of Hudson Valley Knits responded that we could have dinner. Now Amy did more than that, she invited her whole knitting group – the Peekskill Knitting Group to have dinner, as a preview for Rhinebeck (Amy called it the Rhinebeck Rehearsal Dinner!). Amy’s husband is a chef, so she knows good food – we had dinner at Birdsall in downtown Peekskill. A lovely craft beer/ale/cider house and focusing on locally sourced food, we ate in the garden (there were heaters), and had a wonderful evening:

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These ladies are a ton of fun! What a nice warm-up to the actual event!

This year, because I had screwed my ankle up, I did not take in the whole adventure the way that I did two years ago – I didn’t make it to the animal barns, I stayed away from a couple of the meet-ups because the hill footage was too much for my right leg. I did, however, get to take a class with Abby Franquemont, in fact, two classes.

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They were lovely, and she has an inductive style to teaching classes, so you can think that perhaps she doesn’t know what she’s doing unless you figure it out. I got there early the first day and we chatted about teaching adults, since I’d just finished doing that myself, so I knew what she was up to. I learned to spin on a low whorl spindle, and a couple of new tricks to do long draw in a more ergonomic manner. Plus, we had a young spinner in our midst. Meet Ashley.

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She is 10, and the granddaughter of one of the organizers, who brought her and her little sister along to be runners for the classes, but oops, she ended up being a spinner. By the beginning of her second day of spinning, she already had five balls of yarn (!!!) She is spinning tussah silk in this picture – amazing and wonderful.

At the end of the first day, I had bought some stuff, eaten lunch, oh, and bought Clara Parkes new book and gotten her to sign it. More photos and experiences tomorrow, including the stuff I acquired!

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A Review: Customfit

One of the hardest projects for knitters to make is a sweater that works Why is that?

1. It has to fit many places well: chest, shoulders, waist, hips, elbows, wrists, and neck. A lot has to go right to make a sweater wearable.

2. When a sweater is knit it pieces you can’t try it on as you go to see if it will fit. And then if you knit top-down, the patterns available are somewhat limited, and for some shapes, really hard to do well.

3. If you are off in your knitting gauge by as little as 1/4 stitch per inch, even though you love the yarn and the fabric your needles is making your choices are stark – start over with swatching again, or find that your sweater is too big or too small. Or, you can recalculate the entire pattern to your gauge.

3. Directions can sometimes be byzantine in either their brevity or their loquaciousness.

I haven’t even dealt with the issues of whether you like your sweaters snug or loose or in-between. Let’s face it, sweater knitting can be hard.

Amy Herzog has set out to change almost all of this for 21st century knitters. Her new bespoke online pattern business, Customfit, allows any knitter the opportunity to knit a swatch in yarn they want to use, measure the intended recipient (limited now to adult women, but I bet this expands over time), choose from a variety of options for styles (again, this will expand) and create a custom-written pattern just for this project.

Disclaimer: I signed on as a beta-test knitter back in July, and was in the last wave of beta testers before the preview folks came online.  I am receiving a free membership for a limited time in return for my testing.

I wanted to put Customfit to a reasonable test, so I used some very basic Cascade 200 Quattro yarn, and created a 5×1 garter rib stitch pattern.  Using a basic yarn meant that I would testing the software more than the yarn. Also, this stitch pattern, although it is an even number of stitches, has the quality that it actually has one center stitch (because of the 5 and 1 thing). I knit in a couple of sizes of needles to get the fabric that I wanted. Read that again – instead of having my yarn and needles try to fit a pattern, I get to let the yarn and needles be the best they can be.

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After blocking the swatch (very important!) I entered my own measurement information on the swatch, and my measurements. Customfit provides some great videos to help you along with this.

For a sweater style, I worked from one of the template patterns (there are currently six), choosing a V-neck pullover. It was a little hard to figure out whether I would like how deep the V-neck was – next time I’ll check with a sweater I own. I wanted 3/4 sleeves, so I shortened them to a 3/4 sleeve length that I picked in my body measurements, and I picked a mid-hip length.

The pattern generation went well, and the pdf immediately showed up on my iPad, and I was able to open it up in Goodreader and save it. Slick. (Ravelry integration is forthcoming). The patterns are also saved on the Customfit website, and you can always have access to patterns that you have generated. There was a beta-test blip for me, when weeks later I went on Customfit and my pattern was gone – but Amy and her team found it and it was returned to my library within a day.

The pattern I chose to knit was in pieces – I’m with Amy in thinking that these sweaters tend to fit better on a variety of frames, and hold their shape better. The pattern also came with directions on how to knit the pattern bottom-up in the round to the armhole, knitting the front and back separately flat, and then picking up stitches to knit the sleeves down. With my very simple stitch pattern, this would have worked, but for other stitch patterns with a noticeable “direction” the user should take care before venturing into this territory.

The front and back of the sweater were each a multiple of the stitch pattern, but the increases came in the middle. The 5×1 stitch pattern actually centers better with a multiple of six stitches plus one.  I didn’t think to do this on the back (and probably wouldn’t have as a beta tester), so I had to add in one more increase on the left side, or I would not have had a mirrored effect – as it is, it is a little off-kilter – there’s one more decrease on the left side (and later, another increase). Another note is that there is no allowance for the side seam stitches – with another stitch pattern, this might have gotten me into trouble. It’s important to understand which stitch(es) in a pattern are the center, so you can put the stitch pattern on the sweater intelligently.

The pattern also assumed I would use the same needles for the body and the 1×1 ribbing. Personally, I think the ribbing tends to look sloppy at the same needle size, so I went down one needle size for all ribbing.

On the front, I wised up and added the one stitch extra to center the stitch pattern, and things went very well up on the whole. Customfit’s default decreasing at the edges is just one stitch in and in the line of the decrease (at the right edge, it’s an SSK, on the left one, a K2tog). Because I had that center stitch added in the middle, I put that stitch on a locking stitch marker when I got to the neckline shaping, and ignored it doing the decreases for the neckline.

At the shoulder decreases, Customfit does not do any fancy short row techniques, just binding off – I used a little more knowledge to get a better effect by slipping the first stitch at the 2nd bind-offs- the newer knitter might not be happy with the outcome just reading the directions.

The sleeves were knit without incident, after adding in one more stitch to the over all stitch count so I got symmetrical increases and decreases.

Seaming went great, and I actually thought the way Customfit works the increases/decreases at the edge gives a very good edge to the garment – a lovely surprise!

The V-neck went ok – except for some minor beta-tester error (the knitter, not the pattern) – and the resulting neckline was good.

And here’s the true test: the sweater on! See that smile?

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If you look carefully, you’ll see that the left “dart” looks a little bigger – that is the issue with the increases/decreases that I mentioned above. In this yarn, it’s not very noticeable.

Right now I’m at my upper weight swing (I can vary as much as 20 pounds), but I think it will look good at a lower weight too!

Final Thoughts:

  • Customfit is currently priced per pattern at $10. Given the prices of current standard patterns out there, I think this is very reasonable, and lets the user try out the program without a major investment.
  • For an advanced beginning knitter, directions on measuring bodies and swatches is clear, and the resulting pattern is written clearly enough to result in a successful sweater the first time – which is huge! One good sweater means more sweaters will be knit.
  • More directions will be needed to successfully incorporate an overall stitch pattern into the Customfit architecture – but this is a development issue, not a setback at all.

Customfit is now live, but there’s a little list as they manage the load of all the knitters knocking on their door. I can’t help but say – go get on the list and try it out!

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Tech Tip Tuesday: Experiment on a Small Canvas

If you get in a knitting rut, this is my advice: start experimenting on small projects to get your knitting mojo back!

Learning new things is a challenge. When you are a beginner, there are so many things that you don’t know that it can seem overwhelming to actually knit something productive.

My advice: experiment with new knitting techniques on a small project – mittens, hats, socks, cowls. These projects are not all that much bigger than a large swatch, and if you have to rip part of it out, it can’t be a lot!

I knit some socks from Sensational Socks to see if I could learn how:

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They aren’t perfect, but very warm and playful!

Another time, I knit some colorful socks and mittens out of scraps, and refined my color knitting for a good cause (Afghans for Afghans).

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Don’t stay stuck – experiment and play!

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My Precious

Let me say up front: I don’t stalk yarn. I don’t go on websites to find the latest loveliness, or to figure out when an update will happen. I’ve knit for over 30years, and this is true for me: there will always be great yarn to knit with.

So it is a little extraordinary for me to get a little rhapsodic about a yarn, but Wollmeise has done that. I was given two skeins of it (not purchased-see first paragraph for why), and the drape and color have seduced me, the first skein was knit up two years ago, but other one hung out while I figured out what to with it.

Here are the two skeins, the one on the right has been in the stash for two years:

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I”ve finally found a pattern for it —Lintilla bye Martina Behm, a ruffles Shawlette in garter stitch, just slightly asymmetrical .

Loving it! It will be my travel knitting for my East Coast trip, which will include a weekend at Rhinebeck (aka NY Sheep and Wool Festival)! I might finish in time to wear it there.

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FO: Dark and Stormy

In a time of grieving, a comfort knit is a very good thing. The yarn for this sweater was ordered before my mom died last spring, and it arrived the day after she died. Talk about good yarn karma. It’s Yowza! Whatta skein from Miss Babs in the Rainforest colorway. I knit a swatch, wet it, and through it in the dryer (it’s superwash wool):

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I had been gifted the Dark and Stormy pattern for some reason (now lost to history), and it was sitting in the library for quite a while. I’m not terribly fond of top/down raglan sweaters for me, because I have a bust, I’m short, and the proportions can get really off. But I really loved the back cable on this sweater, and top-down seemed about all I was up for knitwise, so I began, and I got through the yoke, separated for the body of the sweater, and knit down to a couple of inches below the bustline (after having added in some short rows), and summer came. A hot knit on the lap was not in the offing. It sat off to the side, in knitting timeout, waiting for another day.

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In the meantime, I worried about whether it was a good thing to do the top-down raglan, even though everything seemed to fit. I worried even though I  had tried it on at a yarn swap to see what my knitting friends thought – and it had passed inspection. I mused and pondered.  Maybe I should rip it out and start over, using the cable, but  instead knit the sweater in pieces with set-in sleeves, but because I was alternating skeins of the lovely hand dyed yarn, ripping out the yarn would be a big old pain in the you-know-what.

Finally, I decided I should just go ahead. I didn’t want to go back, and sitting half-way done would have been the stupidest decision of all.  Let not the dream of the perfect create obstacles for the good! I kept knitting, and tweaking to make sure there wouldn’t be too much fabric under the arms. You can check my project details on Ravelry here.

And requisite feline inspection also occurred:

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The shawl collar and button bands were completely reworked – I blogged about it here, and the result is really lovely. The buttons were a totally great find (you know about the Button Emporium, right?), and this will be my Rhinebeck sweater (she says hoping that there will be a crisp coolness in the air along the Hudson Valley).

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I hope to get some photos of me walking at the Wool and Sheep Festival with it on!

Dark and Stormy she’s not – she’s a hug from my mom. I still need those hugs.

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Tech Tip Tuesday: Shopping from Your Pattern Stash

I love patterns – even ones that I know I will never knit. And having patterns available and in mind to knit makes purchases at the yarn store so much easier.

Over the weekend, I worked at Bluebird Yarn and Fiber at their 5th Anniversary sale. My job was to be on the floor to help customers find yarn, and make selections. The ones who ended up being very successful were the ones who walked in the store with an idea of what they wanted to knit – be it a cowl, sweater, hat. We could look at the yarn requirements and then pick the yarn and needles to go with the project. I helped one woman choose 4 different project yarns for four separate projects, and she thought I was a miracle worker to find her appropriate yarns – well, she helped tremendously by knowing what she wanted to knit!

Today I checked my virtual library on Ravelry, and it contains – among the books, magazines, leaflets, single and multiple pattern pdf”s.

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a total 2, 279 patterns! These are ready to knit and now to me free, but I don’t remember a lot of them. It’s a knitting stash buried in the stacks, so to speak.

The Ravelry library in your notebook makes shopping from your pattern stash easy, once you invest a bit of time. Take a rainy, quiet afternoon and gather your knitting and crochet magazines and books and enter them into your Ravelry library. (You don’t need to do this for patterns bought on Ravelry – they’re already there.) It might take an hour, two if you have a lot of them.

Why do you want to do this? Well, in the Ravelry pattern advanced search, you can click on a button to search only for patterns that are in your library.  So, if I’m looking for a scarf pattern with lace, I can search for that kind of pattern that is buried in my own books and magazines (I have 47 patterns to choose from with these characteristics). I can search all the cable cardigan patterns in my library to see what appeals (18 patterns here, and I’ve knit many of them!).

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Do you notice a color theme here? LOL!

Make the small investment of time in your pattern library on Ravelry, and you’ll make more intelligent yarn choices, save money, and use those patterns you already have!

Want to do this? Check out the guided tips page on Ravelry to take the Library Tour.

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