Knitvent Day 9 – Tension Matters

In 2017, I noticed my own tension has changed over the years.  As a result, I MUST do gauge swatches for each pattern I decide to knit, and yet again if I substitute a yarn for a pattern.

Just like no-one’s handwriting is the same, using the same needle size as another knitter doesn’t mean the result will be the same.  When size matters, I have to be sure I match the pattern’s gauge to make sure what I knit ends up similar to the pattern.

So on top of the ripping back that I mentioned on day 4, I have ‘extra knitting’ for gauge swatches for each gift before I actually start knitting the gift!  But at the very least, I make sure the size is right!

Knitvent Day 8 – Another one published!!!

Today is a different peek – I found out yesterday that my sister-in-law had a pattern published in Knitty magazine!  This is the second person that I taught to knit that has been published!  In this case, I can only say I ‘started’ her knitting because I began teaching her when she was 9 or 10, but then we moved away from Ontario to BC, so her subsequent learning came from others.  I used to send knitted gifts back east (when postage didn’t cost me over $50), but for her, I sent her yarn to knit with – sort of a ‘some assembly required’ gift 🙂

I’m thinking perhaps a gift knit with Christmas colours in this hat for one of my geeky friends.  (another item not on the original plan)

Braineater Hat by Vi Caughran – Knitty Winter 18

Knitvent Day 5 – Its a Mystery!

On day 2 I mentioned I knit a gift through a knit-a-long (KAL), well last month, I participated in an annual MKAL.  The MKAL is a mystery knit-a-long, where hundreds(thousands) of knitters around the world participate in knitting something that is a complete mystery to us.  We start out with suggested yarn, yardage, needle sizes and gauge that we’ll need to match for best results.  We either buy the suggested yard, or stash-dive for an equivalent yarn weight and test our gauge to ensure we match.  I generally need to drop 2 needle sizes, so this prep week is perfect for me.  In this year’s MKAL I had to actually switch yarns because the one I started with just would not behave and match gauge even after dropping 3 needle sizes (see yesterday’s post about what happens alot over the holiday knitting!)

We receive clues once a week over the month of November, and end up with a finished project.  Any MKALs I’ve participated in let us know the general category of what we were knitting (ie hat, shawl, socks, etc), so it’s not like we have no idea what we’re knitting, its just we don’t know what style or stitch pattern nor what it even looks like!  I love the MKALs as I get a surprise at the end myself before it becomes a gift!

Not so tense gauge…

I have finally given in to checking gauge and doing gauge swatches for every project I make.  Partly because it is an easy way to keep ‘spare yarn’ for my projects if I ever need to mend them; and partly because recent projects weren’t turning out as I had expected.  I learned some lessons in the last few months:

three gauge swatches for the Must Have Cardigan
  1. I beta-tested a new circled hat pattern by Woolly Wormhead.  Previous to this beta test, I had knit Dulcie and the hat was slightly larger than I expected.  I didn’t do a gauge swatch for Dulcie, but for the beta test, I was going to be accurate…it took me 3 tries to get gauge.  I didn’t realize that I knit so loosely!  I was shocked.
  2. I wanted to knit a shawl with a handpainted yarn I recently purchased, and I swatched with a smaller needle than asked for, assuming that I was knitting loosely so would need smaller needles.  Wrong again, I actually had to go up a needle size from the suggested size to get gauge.
  3. I’m having my Twin Rib Baby Hat pattern tech edited next week because I’ve designed a matching bootie set to go with it.  My original design in 2011 listed a different needle size and stitch count than what I am using now?  My knitting has changed?  Both hats used the same yarn though!  Maybe I made a typo on the original post(?)  I’ve double checked my current swatch but the original hat has long since been given away.

So the lessons I learned was I knit more loosely than Woolly Wormhead; I knit tighter than Karie Westermann; and I’m now knitting looser than I did 6 years ago.

Designers and experience knitters have always said to “Do gauge swatches”, and its finally sinking into my brain.  Its crazy to think needle sizes and stitch gauge will be standardized across all patterns and yarns when even your own knitting tension may change over time!


36 days and counting…

Each year my son’s school hosts a Holiday Market during school hours where the school children go shopping for their families’ gifts (My son is now 11 and I’ve never had to take him Christmas shopping as a result!!!)  I usually donate dozens of handknit face/dish cloths, a few hats, and usually a unique, one-of-a-kind scarf or shawl towards this market.  My son knew to never buy the handknits since it was likely made by me, and I’ve received lovely lavender tea; homemade caramels, chocolates and other delicious treats.

So I’m busy working on some of those items and realize, there are only 36 knitting days until I have to get a bunch of family gifts completed!  There are lots of pinterest posts out there that show ‘quick knits’ or ‘one-hour knits’ but I have a few that are popular with friends/family

  1. Socks – my sister-in-law LOVES my handknit socks – where I can whip a pair up quickly, as the deadline looms closer, hiking socks are a better bet – thicker yarn & larger needles knit up quickly
  2. Hats – the children tend to lose these so having extra on hand are a great idea…having a child in hockey means we hockey moms could use a few as well – I’ve made almost a dozen of these “Capitan” hats for hockeymoms I know
  3. fingerless gloves – if your favourite teen (or adult) needs the dexterity for their phone, fingerless gloves are the way to go without the finicky knitting of individual fingers (and these ones are knit flat for those that don’t like dpns)
  4. so many more ideas but I have to get back to my knitting – I’ll post again later 😉

Happy New Year & SKM

Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 190...
Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 1905 chasing old man 1904 into history. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All the best to everyone in the New Year!

As is a ‘new’ tradition (new to me since 2012), apparently January is Selfish Knitting Month.  I did follow through on that last year, although it was very difficult to NOT give away the knitting 🙂  I have yarn & pattern selected for my ‘gift’ this month, however…

I have not finished the IOU gift yet.  For the 2nd year in a row, my brother takes one for the team, and is left with no gift but instead was given a bag with balls of yarn & a pattern for socks within it.  I’ve finished ONE sock so far, but life (read: novice hockey tournament) got in the way, and I’ve only just cast on the 2nd sock….

Yes, I can whip up a pair of lovely socks in a weekend (like the socks I finished in 2 days for my husband this year – finished by 11pm Christmas Eve).  But, these socks, are Socks for Soldiers, with specific instructions and 12 inch long legs….I might as well have knit my brother his kilt socks (which are still owing to him by the way)…

I will finish the socks by the weekend, then will cast-on my personal, selfish project….

In the meantime, I have already figured out 2 of next years knitmas gifts…and once I finish my selfish knitting…I’ll start early on 2013 knitmas and avoid the IOU gifts…. (famous last words…)

How about you? Did you finish all the knitmas/handmade gifts you had originally planned?

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33 Knitting Days…

Holiday break
Holiday break (Photo credit: César Poyatos)

Holiday knitting is in full-swing: I have tons of projects on the needles, yarn strewn about the attic…

I will actually ramp up even further when the panic realization strikes that I don’t have enough ‘free time’ to knit all the projects I have planned, let alone bake goodies, go shopping and prepare for the holidays…

So, to release any tension associated with the holiday knitting crunch, I hunted down the holiday tv specials:

Canadian Schedules:
YTV – not published yet

US Networks:

I enjoy knitting in front of my holiday favs…

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Weaving Word Association: Selvedge…Temple

I’ve been sick the last week, so didn’t get much further on the weaving, so no photos of progress to date 🙂 However, the weaving is coming along.  I wasn’t happy with my selvedge edges so Google’d “weaving selvedges” and had some links come up referring to “Temples”.  After I checked a few sites out, ran across one that made their own, which led me to others (read: I was lost down the rabbit hole)…

…much later I was trying out a binder clip with yarn & a washer tied to it to hold the edges taught…worked like a charm!

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Finally Warped, Two Years Later…

I have a lovely used LeClerc table loom, purchased through about two years ago.  The woman I bought it from had never really touched it – told me the previous owner set it up for her, and started her with a couple of inches of weaving.

For the last two years, that is how the loom sat in my attic/craft room.  Periodically I would go up there and throw the shuttle back & forth a few times; my son would take a couple of tries; I’d read the “Learning to Weave” book and try a couple of things. I took the practice warp off, but couldn’t figure out a way to put one back on without a warping board.

This past spring, I sent photos of various warpboard “how-to’s” to my brother, and voila, had a warping board…it just took me 3+ months to actually use it… but that’s not as bad as the fact it has taken me two years to warp my own loom!!

I’m following the book’s instructions to do a sample piece, so I’m using sock yarn, hoping I can get a washable placemat for the lil guy to use at school.

Instructions called for 2 colours of 60 ends each, so I managed to use the warp board twice in one day!!!

I didn’t have a sley hook for sleying the reed, but instead used a plastic stitch marker from my knitting kit it took me a good couple of hours to do this with 120 threads into teeny tiny spaces (Note to self: need to buy a sley hook)

Threading the heddle was just as tiresome (120 threads through moving targets) & I could not get comfortable (Note to self: bring kitchen stool upstairs next time!)

After a few inches of weaving, I’m thinking using this practice piece as a lunch placemat might embarrass the 7yr old, maybe it’ll be a timeout or blackmail mat instead…

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Issue Solved…tearing out too short Cast-On

As soon as I read today’s article, I exclaimed “BRILLIANT”!

My favourite cast-on technique is the long-tail cast-on, but, as any knitter can attest, if you don’t estimate your yardage correctly, you inevitably end up miscalculating and every so often have a too short tail and have to rip back and redo the caston to get the number of stitches you need…casting on 80 stitches on teeny tiny double point needles for socks, this can be rather frustrating.

So later today, I’m trying the long-tail with 2 strands (guess that means I need to cast on a pair of socks) 🙂