WIP of the Week, week 4

WIP of the Week, week 4

One of my favorite #fringeandfriendsknitalong moments last week was the day @rhiowens and @clairemueller posted back-to-back photos of their twin Ondawa WIPs on Instagram (here and here). Not only did they happen to post them in sequence, they appeared to be on the exact same row of the pattern. It was a little spooky! And both were so beautiful they made me take another look at that pattern. Claire’s caption was about having organized the multiple charts into one plastic sleeve to keep it portable, but it was hard to imagine anyone actually taking this on public transportation. This week, I chuckled at this picture of her with her sweater and her page protector on the train. Have yarn, will travel indeed, Claire! So congratulations, you’ve won this week’s amazing prize, which is 3 hanks of delicious, cream, 10-ply Cormo from Tonofwool at the birthplace of Cormo in Tasmania. There’s a reason it’s called @tonofwool: those skeins are huge! Can’t wait to see what you make of it. And thank you, Ms. Gusset, for the lovely prize!

I also want to say congratulations to Audrey, who as far as I know is the first knitalonger to complete her Amanda (which coincidentally happens to be knitted from Tonofwool). Great job!

.

IN TINY SHOP NEWS, a few big baskets and big totes arrived this week!

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! If you need a good chuckle, read through the hilarious responses on yesterday’s Q for You. I love you people.

.

PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: Amanda panel progress report: Let’s see these sweaters!

Q for You: What are your odd habits?

Q for You: What are your odd habits?

Do you do stuff like this? When Lauren (aka @suskandbanoo) sent me this photo for her Our Tools, Ourselves feature last winter, I laughed out loud. This is so me. Anytime I’m knitting with DPNs or a cable needle, I inevitably stick whatever I’m not using in my bun. The other night I was knitting with my hair down (this apparently never happens) and I was at a total loss as to what to do with my cable needle when it was not in use. It’s a handy trick; the problem is I often forget I’ve done it and go wandering out into the world. Like when knitting in airports, or the other morning in a busy waiting room. I had a double-point in my hair all day on Tuesday without realizing it.

Likewise, I used to keep one of those white rubber stitch markers on my ring finger at all times. You never know when you’re going to need a stitch marker, right? But while it was invisible to me (unless I needed it and was happy to have it), I got asked about it so often I had to stop doing it.

So here’s my Q for You: Do you have weird fibersmithy habits like this? Do you leave a trail of yarn wherever you go. Have your houseguests found skeins hanging in your shower, or a pair of embroidery scissors on every surface? You’re safe here, you can tell us.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How do you store your patterns?

.

Photo © Lauren of Süsk and Banoo, used with permission

I’m three!

I'm three!

This weekend was my third knitting birthday — 3 years since that fateful trip to Nashville to visit friends, who taught me to knit while I was there. Er, here. Now not only does my life revolve around knitting — with this blog and Fringe Supply Co. — but I also live in Nashville! Life is strange, ain’t it? If you were reading last year, you’ll remember I spent the month of October doing a series of posts aimed at new knitters and those wanting to expand their skills. This weekend, in honor of the anniversary, I organized it all neatly onto one page (along with a couple of other applicable posts), so you can now find it all right here: Beginning to Knit.

There’s general guidance — from how to learn to knit to how to gradually expand your skills — along with some very basic techniques and then a set of posts revolving around pattern recommendations for those wanting to give something new a try, including cables, colorwork and pullovers for first-timers. I’m always saying my favorite thing about knitting is how little you need to know to expand your knitting abilities exponentially. If all you can do is the knit stitch, learn to join those stitches in the round and suddenly you’re making a stockinette tube. Insert your needle into two stitches instead of one (knit two together, or k2tog) and you can decrease, which means you can turn that tube into a hat. And on and on — such incredibly simple little maneuvers turning your knitting into cables and then lace. But I also I love that I still have so much to learn — new tricks, techniques, construction methods, and on and on. Knitting is a neverending opportunity to amaze yourself, the way I see it. So if you’re a new knitter or you’ve been knitting for ages but haven’t quite gotten past basic knitting and purling, I hope you’ll find encouragement and enlightenment in those posts.

I’ll be continuing to add to that page over time. But for now, can I ask you for a little knitting birthday gift? If you find Fringe Association valuable, will you take a minute to tell your friends and/or followers about it? Pin your favorite post, tell your Facebook friends about the Beginning to Knit page (there are no doubt people wishing they could knit), whatever the case may be. It means to world to me.

And thank you so much for constantly egging me on and making me a better knitter!

.

p.s. Pictured above are a sampling of my own projects, clockwise from top left: my first (of two) Orlane’s Textured Shawl (June 2013); my Acer Cardigan (Jan 2014); some simple stockinette armwarmers (Feb 2012) (at sport weight, still the finest gauge thing I’ve knitted!); and giant lace in the form of my State Street Cowl (Jan 2013). Most of my FOs from the past three years are documented at Ravelry.

WIP of the Week, week 3 (plus new buttons!)

WIP of the Week, week 3 (plus new buttons!)

Oh, you guys, it was SO HARD to pick a #fringeandfriendsknitalong WIP of the Week this week. I wish I had at least four prizes to give out, and I’m certain it’s going to keep getting harder every week. But in the end, I decided this week’s prize goes to Catherine Wendland, who goes by “wendlandcd” both on Instagram and on Ravelry. Catherine’s Amanda has become a Flat Stanley of sorts, and I’ve been enjoying seeing it at the hardware store and on a city bench and, in the case of the above photo, at what does appear to be a very lovely park. So Catherine, you’ve won a $150 gift certificate to the brand new Fancy Tiger Crafts online store! Please let me know how we can get in touch with you about redeeming your prize.

Congratulations to Catherine and to the wonderful Fancy Tiger ladies on the launch of their beautiful new site! (Make sure you update your bookmark or RSS for their blog, by the way.)

I want to make sure everyone knows how to see all of the amazing sweaters that are happening as part of this knitalong. Photos are mainly appearing at Instagram and Ravelry. If you’re in the Instagram app, you can search on the hashtag #fringeandfriendsknitalong. Otherwise, it’s been brought to my attention that there are third-party websites that will allow you to see hashtagged Instagram pics (since their own website does not), e.g. Websta. (It ain’t a pretty page, but at least you can see the pics.) And for Ravelry, you can see all of the tagged project pages right here. If you’re blogging about your WIP, please remember to link to it from the comments here!

Keep those photos comin’! There’s another awesome prize to be awarded next Friday.

. . .

NEW! Buttons worty of your handmade garments

In Fringe Supply Co. news, I have a bunch of buttons that have been patiently waiting for me to photograph and post them, so this week I picked out four varieties that happen to come in Amanda-appropriate sizes. I know none of us are anywhere near the buttonbands-and-buttons stage, but I love having buttons picked out in advance — it’s like the carrot on the end of that stick! Clockwise from top left, they are: concave cream bone, a beautiful tea-stained looking bone; soft concave corozo, in ivory, navy and black; concave horn disc in horn (obvs), bleached horn and extra-bleached horn; and narrow rim grommet corozo in navy, crimson, black and plum.

I’m thinking of pale buttons for my ivory Amanda, and am debating between the concave cream bone and the soft concave corozo in ivory, both of which would be gorgeous. But it would also be amazing with the contrast of the horn or the black with the gold grommets! Right? So many great choices.

And of course, lots of options there for all the other projects of the world, as well. I also received a few baskets this week — natural and patterned. And the cable needles are finally available in ebony again.

Have a stellar weekend everyone! I’m planning to get my clothes out of the suitcase finally, hopefully look for a couch, and then I shall KNIT!

.

PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: In pursuit of sleeve perfection

WIP of the Week (and other fun stuff)

WIP of the Week, week 2 — #fringeandfriendsknitalong

Last week, the knitter known as “waldorfmanufaktur” (on Instagram, Ravelry and Flickr) was a veerrrry close runner-up for the #fringeandfriendsknitalong WIP of the Week. I was crazy in love with her simple, beautifully lit photo of her swatch for Ondawa. But this week you might say she wins the prize for sheer enthusiasm. She is working on two sweaters and a scarf all at once! All cable-y goodness, and all of them promising to be gorgeous. (Specifically: Amanda, Ondawa and Guilder.) Congratulations, Simone, you’ve won a prize package from Kelbourne Woolens including a cable-print project bag, knit check and keychain knit check, and three skeins of Knightsbridge in the color Black Pool.

Keep those photos coming, friends — next week is another killer prize! And I have to say, while this week’s winner didn’t wind up coming from that pool, I loved all the shots of what you’re doing, listening to, and drinking while knitting — including the multiple Amandas at the beach. So plenty more of those, please! (By the way, Kate helped me figure out how to see all the tagged photos on Ravelry — if you tag your project page fringeandfriendsknitalong we’ll all be able to see it in the tag search results, seen here. Really wish web users could see the hashtag results on Instagram — it is an awesome sight to behold: over 200 photos and counting.)

IN OTHER NEWS: There’s a little interview with yours truly on the Madesmith blog about Fringe Supply Co. and how it came to be. (I swear I got my hair cut since then! Blame that rat’s nest on the move. And the heat.) And speaking of Fringe Supply Co., another big bunch of your favorite things got restocked this week: Cable Fashion Drama and Macrame Pattern Book, repair hooks, bone DPNs, rosewood crochet hooks, bonsai scissors and a bunch of sizes/colors of bento bags. Go get ’em.

Happy knitting this weekend!

.

PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: The secret to a truly great-fitting sweater

.

The secret to a truly great-fitting sweater

The secret to a truly great-fitting sweater

Hopefully those of you participating in the #fringeandfriendsknitalong are knitting away at whatever pace suits your lifestyle and heart rate. Remember we’re not knitting to any particular schedule, but we will be continuing to post content here at what is likely a faster clip than most of us knit — that way the information is here when you need it, whether that’s next Thursday or next year. Last week we talked about the body and next week we’ll talk about the sleeves, but meanwhile let’s talk about row gauge! That under-discussed topic.

In knitting and measuring swatches (in the event that even happens), people tend to focus on stitch gauge. Of course, stitch gauge is what will determine the width of your fabric — or more specifically for our purposes, the circumference of your sweater. And when we talk about fit, we tend to talk about circumference (our own and our sweater’s). But row gauge determines the length of your fabric; your row gauge is most likely different from pattern gauge; and to be adept at accounting for differences in row gauge is to have a much better chance of your sweater fitting the way you want it to.

ACCOUNTING FOR GAUGE DIFFERENCES

Say for a minute you’re knitting a scarf with a stitch-pattern repeat, such as Shackleton (a good Amanda alternative). If your row gauge is shorter (more rows squeezed into each inch) than the pattern gauge, your scarf will be shorter. No big deal, right? Unless you are really, really particular about how long your scarves are. To make up for your more compact row gauge, you could simply knit an extra repeat of the stitch pattern. The same is more or less true for something like the body of Amanda. Since it has no waist shaping, the body is just a big rectangle, same as a scarf. So if your row gauge is different from the pattern gauge (or you simply want your sweater to be longer or shorter than desired), you can simply knit to your desired length, and it really doesn’t matter that it took you a different number of rows to get there.

But where there is shaping involved — as in the sleeve increases and the yoke decreases — a pattern will almost always be written according to rows, not inches. For the sleeve increases, you’ll be told to work an increase row, then repeat that a set number of times, a set number of rows apart. (E.g., “repeat the increase row every 8th row 11 more times.”) If your rows are bigger, it will take you fewer of them to reach the total sleeve length, which means you may need to work your increases closer together in order to fit them all in.

For the yoke decreases, if your row gauge is bigger and you work the prescribed number of rows (alternating decreases along the way), your yoke will be longer than the pattern measurement. Your underarms will hang lower, in other words, and the sleeves you attach to that lower underarm will hang that much longer as a result. Conversely, let’s look at my Amanda in progress. My row gauge is much tighter than the pattern gauge, and Amanda has a pretty shallow yoke to begin with. Because my overall gauge is tighter (more stitches and rows per inch) I’m using the Large numbers knowing my sweater will come out a little smaller than the Medium. Knitted at pattern gauge, the sweater has an armhole depth of just 6.5 inches. If I don’t make changes based on my smaller row gauge, I won’t even be able to get my arms into those armholes. So I’ll need to space out my decrease rows, working them at a slower pace over more rows, in order to wind up with enough yoke depth. (That’s also why I’m knitting with a cable needle on this, because swatching both with and without one showed that my row gauge was even more compact when I knitted without a cable needle. I want all the row depth I can get in this situation, so cable needle it is!)

So it’s super critical to be mindful of discrepancies in row gauge and what implications that might have — as well as knowing how to account for them. If you’re not familiar with how to calculate increases and decreases for yourself, there’s a basic formula in my top-down sweater tutorial. The process is the same whether you’re increasing or decreasing, knitting from the top or the bottom. It’s simple, and it’s one of the most important skills a knitter can have.

ACCOUNTING FOR BLOCKING

But what about the whole issue of row gauge that changes with blocking? Some swatches will be obviously shorter or longer after blocking, but it’s hard to pinpoint how much your sweater might shrink or grow in length. Blocking a swatch is different than blocking an entire sweater, plus some fibers grow tremendously with gravity as you’re wearing the garment. (You’ve no doubt experienced this phenomenon at some point in your life.) Lots of people will advise you to knit a very large swatch and to hang it on a hanger to try to get a better sense of how it might grow. This is less of a concern with wool than with bamboo and some other fibers. Regardless, say your swatch is different in length after blocking. Well, if you want your sleeves to be 18 inches long, for instance, you don’t actually want to knit to 18 inches — you want to knit to whatever length will become 18 inches when blocked. Below is Kate Gagnon Osborn again with a simple but meticulous way to solve for that. Take it away, Kate!

. . . . .

To make sure your sweater body and sleeves come out the correct length, you want to knit to your blocked length, which may differ from your unblocked length. How does this work exactly? First, determine the number of inches your knitting should be, as written in the pattern. For the Amanda sweater back in my size, I am to knit 14.5″ total length, and my personal row gauge — after blocking — is 7 rows per inch.

Calculation A: Ribbing

Multiply your row gauge by the length of ribbing specified in the pattern, in this case 2.75″:

2.75″ ribbing x 7 rows per inch = 19.25, or 19 rows of ribbing.

Calculation B: Body

First, subtract the length of the ribbing from the total length of the body:

14.5″ total length – 2.75″ ribbing = 11.75″ of the body (cable) pattern to be worked.

Now multiply your row gauge by this length. Again, I’m getting 7 rows to the inch:

11.75″ body x 7 rows per inch = 82.25, or 82 rows of body.

Instead of measuring my unblocked sweater back, I will count my rows to determine the correct length. Once I knit the 19 rows of ribbing and 82 rows of the body, I know I will have the correct length back after blocking. If the pattern tells you to end after working a WS or RS row, or end the cable pattern (or lace or colorwork) pattern on a certain row number, you may adjust your final number of rows by a few as needed, and your overall length won’t vary too greatly. Just make sure to match this row number on the front pieces as well.
—KGO

. . . . .

Thanks, Kate! And here’s a bonus tip for making that easier to keep track of. Remember my Hot Tip about marking your increases/decreases to save having to count? Some people will pin a marker every 10th row when knitting, period, so they can easily tally up their rows. That comes in super handy in a scenario like Kate describes above.

Of course, if you matched row gauge, you have nothing to worry about!

.

PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: WIP of the Week, week 1

Hot Tip: Annotate your charts

Hot Tip: Annotate your knitting charts

A good chart is a thing of beauty unto itself, but knitting from one can be a little daunting — especially if it’s numerous stitches wide and/or many rows tall. Each of our brains works differently, so it’s important to be able to annotate a chart in whatever way makes it make the most sense to YOU. Pictured here are Meg Strong’s chart and my chart for the Amanda cardigan we’re knitting for the #fringeandfriendsknitalong. And you can see our two minds reflected in them:

— Meg has enlarged hers to 8.5×14 and attached it to an 11×17 sheet of paper, along with the stitch guide and legend, and she’s color-coded all of it with highlighter pens. Each color indicates a different cable stitch, and the corresponding description in the guide is highlighted the same color. As you can see, it makes each of the cable stitches stand out more clearly from the surrounding stitches, and it’s easier to follow the direction of the cables as they lean this way and that — especially within the honeycomb. (Note that she’s also opting to mirror the diamond cables so they twist toward each other, rather than having them all twist left as written, so she’s simply made a note beneath the center crosses about which direction she’ll twist.)

— Me, I’m perfectly happy in black-and-white and small-scale. But for my brain to make this digestible, I have to divide it up into its component parts. I’ve drawn a rule (that’s design-speak for “a line”) down the chart to separate each of the sections. (“Like with like” is my mantra in all of life.) This way I can clearly see the honeycomb portions, the slipped-stitch portions (with flanking purls), the diamond panels, and the braid. The purls no longer blur together and the rows are broken up into easily memorizable chunks. And everywhere I’ve drawn a rule on the chart I’ll also place a stitch marker in my knitting. So I always know exactly where I am, and never have to think very hard about it. If I get off course, I’m going to know it within a few stitches without even looking at the knitting — the stitch markers will let me know.

The point being: It’s your chart; make whatever kind of marks are helpful to you!

There’s also the matter of keeping track of what row you’re on. I’m a big fan of a wide post-it note or piece of post-it tape, and I place it below the row I’m currently working. I like to be able to see where I’m going, since my knitting shows me where I’ve been. But lots of people do the opposite. This here post from almost exactly one year ago is also full of great advice from you guys about other ways to track progress, so check the comments on that. And if you have anything to add, let’s hear it!

.

AND HERE’S ANOTHER HOT TIP: You can cable without a cable needle. If you find cable needles too fussy and want to learn how to do without, Kate posted a tutorial on the Kelbourne blog.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tip: Remember right- vs left-leaning stitches