Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tools of the Trade

Have you ever come across a pattern, whether it was knitting OR crocheting and found it difficult to follow? Well, I've got a few ideas!!

If the instructions are crochet, then instead of reading them across the page....
the instructions
one term
the other
so that when you have to repeat those instructions, it's a lot easier to see!!! I do that at times when the designer doesn't have it in his or her head to make it easier on us! I crocheted this one really neat shawl. It had to be made in sections and then sewn together. The instructions were ONE page, (and there was a lot more room left on that page). The designer could have repeated the instructions for us instead of saying: 'go to section 1 at the * and then go back to section 2 at the *. Yeah right! This was a class--I couldn't let my students go from * to * from one area to another---they'd walk out of the class---and I wouldn't blame them!

A tool I LOVE to use is Post-It Notes. Thank you Art Fry (the inventor.) I go through those things like tissue paper. When I'm reading a pattern, I keep the Post-It Note under the line I'm on. It not only keeps my place, but I use it to make notes and write down my repeat rows and hash mark them. This has kept my sanity!!! Another way to keep your place is a Magnetic Board. These were widely used in the counted cross stitch world. The board, which happens to be metal, is placed under your instructions page and there are line magnets to keep your place and to keep the page from turning. Either way is GREAT, but I really LOVE my Post-It Notes!!

Just like a carpenter or a plumber has his/her tools, so should every crocheter and knitter.
They're our tools of the trade, so to speak!!!

HAPPY STITCHING, fellow stitchers!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CABLES-They're easier than you think!!

A dear friend of mine took one of my sweater classes which happened to have cables on it. In making her cables, she criss crossed them. How? When you are taking your knit stitches off the cable needle, you need to slip them purl wise. The first stitch you slipped is the first stitch you will knit off the cable. Well, she knitted her last stitch off her cable needle. When she learned that she was doing it incorrectly, she had to continue cabling in that fashion to finish the sweater.

So, how can you make sure that you don't knit off your last stitch? Take a dark color of nail polish or a permanent marker and paint on the tip of one side of the cable needle. Personally, I prefer a straight needle instead of the "J". The painted tip should be on the right side as you are transferring your stitches from your needle to the cable needle. Now, when you are knitting the stitches off the cable needle, you'll know from which side to knit.

Cables really are easier than you think. I'm sure the first time we held knitting needles in our hands, we had no idea what we could do with them or what we could create!! Don't be afraid...just practice it. With each cable you make, the prouder you will feel!

Happy Cabling, my friends!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Boy or Girl Buttonholes???

When we first find out that we're going to be a grandma (or grandpa), an aunt (or uncle), one of the first things we want to do is knit or crochet a sweater for that precious newcomer!!

Sometimes the moms don't want to know the sex of their child, so we have to create our sweater in either neutral colors or just plain white (blah....boring!) Then the chore comes to the buttonholes. Which side do you put them on when you don't know if it's a boy or a girl? Well, the easiest thing to do is to put them on BOTH SIDES so that when this precious bundle does arrive, you can then place the buttons on the correct side. Then when you sew on the buttons, you also sew up the buttonhole! So, which side does the buttonholes go on for boys or girls? My rule of thumb is this: GIRLS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT, so the buttonholes go on the right for girls, and the left for boys.

The only time this won't work is when you have to give the sweater as a baby shower gift. I don't think the moms (or the dads) really care if the buttons are on the wrong side. They're not going to care---they've got too much to do when the baby arrives to even notice buttons/buttonholes!

So, chant the mantra: GIRLS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT, GIRLS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT and you won't forget which side the buttonholes go on!!!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cast On, Bind Off!!

Tonight at our stitch-in, we had a FREE CLINIC on knitting a circular scrubby. The project only has 18 stitches and the reason why I'm writing about this is because of how one customer was casting on which happened to be not one of my favorites.

We all know that there are a ga-zillion ways of casting on, but my favorite is the long-tail (or otherwise known as the sling shot cast on.) Did you know that if you are doing this cast on, that the short end MUST be on the left? If you have been casting on with the tail on the right, and you had enough yarn to cast on, then, boy you were lucky...or you had a LOT of yarn to cast on with.

The reason why the short end MUST be on the left side is that when you have the yarn coming from the ball on the right, it takes up much more yarn than the left side. So...what's the formula for casting on: worsted weight yarn normally takes up 1 inch per stitch. Lighter weight yarns are going to take up less and heavier yarns take up more. What I like to do is measure how much 5 stitches takes up, and then do the math.

Oh, by the way....if you are casting on tooooo tightly, you have options: you can cast on with a larger needle OR you can cast on with 2 needles held together and cast on tightly. Then pull out one needle and all the stitches will be even. Either way is fine.

The same holds true for binding off. I have seen a lot of projects where the bind off is way too tight. So, if you have trouble binding off loosely, then switch to a larger needle when it comes time to bind off.

It's always fun starting a new project, and it's even more thrilling to finish it!

Cast on and bind off, my friends!!

Happy Stitching!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Yours vs. Mine

There are times when you start a knit project with, let's say, Brand X straight needles. You then decide that you want to change from Brand X straight needles to Brand Y circular needles. DON'T DO IT!!! Why? Good question!

Let's say I'm the manufacturer of Brand X needles and you're the manufacturer of Brand Y needles. Just because we manufacture needles DOESN'T mean that they are going to be the same exact thickness. It's okay to switch from straight to circular or visa versa on a project AS LONG AS they are from the same company. If you switch from Yours to Mine, there will be a definite difference in your gauge...AND it will show. The same holds true for crochet hooks.

So...decide first whose needles you're going to use and stick with them throughout your project. It's going to be YOURS or MINE!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Round-and-round You Go!

This evening was the first time we held a class on a Friday night and it started off with a Pizza Party! Our class was knitting socks. Socks, as some of you are well aware of, is VERY, VERY HOT in the knitting world. Why? I wish I could tell ya---but...I LOVE to teach this class.

We use the Ann Norling pattern, which has 3 yarns types: Fingering, DK (or sport) and worsted. I prefer to teach on worsted weight yarn because the stitcher gets to do less homework, and at the end of 3 sessions, you have one sock made!!! do you get these socks made? There are a few ways: 3 or 4 double points, 2 circular needles or 1 circular needle (Magic Loop Method). It really doesn't matter which way you knit them as long as you have fun knitting them.

I prefer knitting with double points and that's what was taught this evening. At first, you may feel you have 6 thumbs, but once you get going, it really becomes quite simple. If you have ever knitted in the round with circular needles, you will know that the yarn MUST start on the right needle or you won't connect your stitches. Well, that's how it's done with double points. You work around and around and guess what....around once more!!! The tail that is left after you have cast onto your needle is between your first and third needle so it helps you know when you complete your round.

The next time we offer a Sock class, which happens to be on each of our newsletters, try it. If you're reading this and you don't live in the South Florida area, then go to your LYS (local yarn shop) and take a class. You will never regret it, because it's like a merry-go-round: you go around, and around, and around and eventually you stop!!

Happy Stitching!!!