I’ve met several teachers that have the strong belief that ever sweater should have shaping. I cannot say I totally disagree, but there are some sweaters I would not put shaping in. Something that is going to be so big on me that the shaping won’t matter, would not get any shaping. Like a comfy sweater for home.
The smallest amount of waist shaping can make a huge difference though; taking a garment from box shaped to beautiful. Even men’s sweaters could use a little bit of shaping going from the shoulders/chest to the waist.
One of the most common kinds of shaping involve increasing and decreasing stitches along the sides. My absolute favourite pattern’s waist shaping is from the top down and you end up decreasing for the waist and when you increase for the hips, you add more stitches than you had for the bust. It is really quite clever because this sweater fits me perfectly. When you think about it, that shaping technique makes a lot of sense. If you happen to be a bit bigger on top then around the hips, add a few more stitches in the bust.
If there is no shaping in the pattern you are going to have to use your common sense to add it in. I would look at patterns that already have shaping and try to apply it that way. Read at least two or three and you should get the general feeling for how shaping is inserted into the pattern. I would highly suggest you use a pattern you are familiar with, that you have either knit before or have tried on a finished product. I think the shaping of a garment is an extremely personal thing and different designers do it different ways.
If you have never done any shaping before, find a pattern that already has it included. The best way to get to know a technique is to try it! Usually, it is best to try it in a structured environment if you’re on your own. The pattern comes in handy for accommodating extra stitches and keeping track of them.
For something a little less invasive then adding in or taking away stitches, you can just change the needle size you are working on. Patterns have you swatch for gauge so your knitting will match theirs and the sizes will be accurate. If you go up or down a needle size, the gauge and garment size changes. For shaping, you are purposely changing the gauge for a small portion of your garment. For a waist, you would make the needle size smaller while you’re knitting through that section. As I have never tried this technique for myself, I would suggest not going too extreme in the needle size changes. You don’t want comical shaping that would only work if you were a barbie doll or ambitious corset tightener.
There were not a whole lot of videos about waist shaping so I am providing a link to Amy Herzog’s blog. This is her article about waist shaping and her Fit to Flatter program always uses it. Here is a link to a brief synopsis of the Fit to Flatter, I would highly suggest giving it a look! I am taking a couple of Amy’s classes in October at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago and I can’t wait!
If there is a huge problem with you knitting, the answer is obviously that you need more coffee, right? I mentioned before that I had spilled my coffee all over when I was knitting on the Crazy Striped Cardi, but that was perhaps an example of too much coffee. I am going to lay out a couple shorter stories about time when I could have used more, or less, coffee for my knitting.
With the Crazy Striped Cardi, I was sitting in the morning, next to computer with my knitting and pattern. This is a familiar morning ritual for me; some quiet time before I start my day. It was going as well as a pattern full of short rows and an early morning can go when I reached for my cup of coffee and knocked it over. It spilled everywhere, luckily missing the top of my computer. I jumped up and got a towel to wipe off the bottom of my computer case and picked up my pattern. The pattern was still legible, but obviously ruined; I will tell you with complete honesty that the pattern marker didn’t move an inch through all the coffee and rough handling as I tried to dry it off.
I didn’t notice until later that I had actually gotten some of the coffee on the sweater itself. I can’t exactly wash it when I am half way through knitting it, so whenever someone commented on the stain, I just told them that I could block that out with any sweater problems.
A couple examples of when I could have used more coffee include when I have been blocking. My washing machine has a wool cycle, so when I am blocking things, which are super wash, I put them on the wool cycle of the washer with a little bit of soak. This works perfectly for me because the cycle doesn’t agitate it at all, the drum simply fills with water and it slowly rocks from side to side. There is even a section of this wash cycle where it allows the garment to soak in the water before it drains the water out.
After the cycle is done, I will get my garment and pin it out on a towel to block. The last TWO TIMES I have blocked anything, I completely forgot I had a knitted garment soaking. I left my green shawl in there for a good few hours. Luckily it was all balled up and scrunched so it didn’t start to dry while in the washer. If I had to guess, I would say I forgot about it for about five hours; just left it there. Knitters everywhere had a collective aneurism at the thought.
One more example of a need for coffee, or perhaps just more sleep, is when I started the Crazy Striped Cardi ribbing on the hem. You have to knit along a stripe of about 27 stitches then pick up 120 then continue knitting along other stitches that were held. As complex as this sounds, it really wasn’t too bad. It was just a hell of a lot of stitches. Knit one round plain, purl one round plain, then start the ribbing. It is a 1X1 ribbing done on size 3.25mm needles; needless to say it took me a second to pick up the rhythm of it. I was also using the Addi needles I have because I didn’t have a circular needle with a cord long enough and a gauge small enough to pick up the hem. Using unfamiliar needles and 1X1 ribbing a hundred billion stitches, it was not the most fun I’ve ever had in knitting. Along the second row of the ribbing I noticed that I had a seed stitch going instead of a ribbing. Smacking myself in the head I started looking back to see where I had gone wrong, I had actually messed up my foundation row and put two purls together instead of a knit and a purl. This was an easy fix though; I un-knitted back to those two purls and just purled two together and kept going like it was nothing at all.
It’s the small mistakes that happen the most and there is usually something that can be done about them, but the huge mistakes that involve very elaborate corrections are usually better to write about. I think I will end up trying to do a small anthology of stories like this once a month. Otherwise I might lose my mind trying to think of huge mistakes I’ve done. Let’s be honest too, if I had a huge mistake once a week, I would probably put all my knitting in time out, cover my ears and rock in a corner.
Anxiety is something most people are acquainted with at some point in their lives. There are a wide and varying amount of reasons why someone would feel anxiety, but feeling it in your knitting is not something most people look for. Knitting anxiety usually happens when you have a deadline.
I’ve found the most difficult deadline to deal with is the assumed deadline. If you are knitting a garment for a friend or co-worker they usually assume you will have it done within the year. Depending on the garment this may be a reasonable assumption, but depending on the skill level and general life state of said knitter, it may not be.
When I have to work on something, not in the ‘I am super inspired’ way but in the ‘I need to get this knit’ way, I have no motivation at all. Then, because I am not knitting the garment, I feel bad about it. I really should be knitting it; I should really go and knit a couple rows right now. Then I procrastinate for another few weeks.
In the back of my mind this incomplete garment weighs on me and kind of taints all my knitting. If I finish something else I have a moment of ‘Yes! Finished!’ then I think ‘Unlike garment X’. I think Garment X is a really good way of thinking about this theoretical project. Garment X rolls around in my head until I am finally able to muscle through it and finish, but this kind of knitting is really not good for the soul. The whole time I am working on it I have an internal monologue going; which looks something like this.
“Oh man, I hope this person doesn’t mind how long it is taking me to knit this. Of course they won’t mind, they’re getting a hand-knit thing, they’re going to love it no matter what. Oh man, I hope they love it I am spending so much time on it, gotta get it done right now or else they are going to hate it what if they hate it Iwouldneverbeabletoknitagainomgomgomg.”
It generally descends into utter chaos from there. I end up cutting into time where I should be doing really useful things… like sleeping or eating. However, knowing yourself is half the battle; whenever I take on projects from other people, I add a disclaimer that I have a lot of stuff in the queue ahead of them and it might be a while. Then they will either drop it or accept the fact that this could take forever.
For me, that takes a bit of the edge off and I am usually able to work at a relaxed manner. Unless the garment is covered in cables, then all bets are off.
Another kind of anxiety is the kind when you are about to embark on a new and harder section of a project. For example, with the French Cancan shawl, I worked on it and blazed through the first part. It was all garter stitch so there were no problems at all. Increases and yarn overs flying around everywhere, that did not touch me at all, but when I started on the edging. I kept finding excuses to not knit. I needed time for this errand and I had to clean that thing, I couldn’t possibly have time to knit! Then I had an intervention with myself and buckled down to knit the edging. It really wasn’t all that bad, I just had to get into it and stick with it. Generally a good dose of self-awareness will help combat the anxieties of knitting. Don’t be afraid to have an intervention with yourself, sometimes you’re the only one who can call yourself out on bad behavior.
Oh my word… we are so close. I think I need a paper bag and some Zantac.
The most recent wedding thing that has happened was my bachelorette. It ended up working out perfectly to do my bachelorette on my birthday! We started the evening off with a pole dancing class. I actually had a lot of fun! The person teaching had a very interesting personality, but she clearly had a passion for what she was teaching and was insanely fit. Just spending an afternoon taking a class and my calves were so sore the next day.
After the class we went to the Burlington Lakefront hotel and got ready to go out. We ended up going to the Martini House for dinner. I had the best pasta ever! The martinis were pretty good too. I found it very interesting that after you paid, instead of bringing you mints, you got a ball of cotton candy. You’ll have to excuse the poor photo; the lighting was not optimal where we were sitting so everything needed flash.
We have also added to our wedding party. I know, completely last minute, but it was sooo meant to be. Okay, the story from the beginning. Once upon a time, Paul had a groomsman who had to travel for work. He doesn’t get a lot of say in the matter, sometimes they just spring trips on him. Half way through August, he gave us a call and said this had happened; he wasn’t going to be able to make the wedding. With only two months left, Paul and I immediately started planning for who would fill his spot. As you may have noticed, I have a thing about symmetry and I wanted there to be equal amounts of boys and girls.
Eventually Paul asked our friend Richard to be a groomsman and all was right with the world. Richard and Liane have been helping us out a lot with wedding things, so it was perfect! Then, traveling groomsman called back a couple weeks ago and his trip had been cancelled; he would be able to make it out. We now effectively had seven groomsmen and six bridesmaids. Bridesmaid dresses usually take four months to come in and we had five weeks. I asked Liane to be my bridesmaid and it was a whirl of calling stores to see about rush orders and what we could buy off the rack. Thank heaven I wasn’t picky about what I wanted them to wear, we would have never found the same dress.
The one store that was willing to work with us and be extremely helpful, called the manufacturer of the dresses and asked if they had anything in emerald green and gave the size range we were looking for. They had one. It was a special limited edition dress that wasn’t even online because they only made one in every size; the one size they had left was the one we were looking for. We went, she tried it on, it looked great. Done and done. It’s long, so we will have to have it hemmed off at the knees, but it is perfect.
We are also currently having something of a fiasco with the numbers. Usually when you are planning a wedding, the stat is 15% will decline. Paul and I blew the bell curve on that one because our decline rate was about 35%. The room we are in has a minimum amount of people you need in order to have the room. It is too close to move us to a smaller room or something, we are going to be in the big room, but pay for people that aren’t there. There isn’t really much to do about this aside from start inviting random people off the street. We have already been through the list of people we wanted to invite but couldn’t and not a whole lot of them could come. It’s not really a catastrophe and I am sure there are much bigger problems we could have, but it still kind of sucks. It will be a good night anyway! I am sure we will be able to fill a room regardless of the amount of people actually coming.
That is all the wedding drama for now, I am planning on doing one more post before the wedding just to keep you updated on how badly I am freaking out. Keep an eye here for it, I am sure the posts will become more and more comical as they go on!
I realize that I may have mentioned before but I have completed the Vampire Barbie socks! I have good photos to share with you now as well as an update of the Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan.
The Vampire Barbie socks were knit entirely in tiny little pieces. Paul and I carpool to work because we work at the same company. It’s not a particularly long drive to work, but instead of just sitting there, I started working on my socks. I got a shocking amount done while making the seven to ten minute commute to work. I’ve decided any time I am a passenger in a car, I am going to knit I’ve accomplished so much while knitting during a wait time, like at the doctors office or the passport office.
Since I’ve finished my Vampire Barbie socks and the K/W Knitters Fair is over, there is not a while lot of pressure to finish anything with my own yarn. I cast on a sock from the Knit Circus yarns; the Greatest of Ease base in the colour Over the Rainbow. This was a special colour that was only available for about a month or two? But I heard about it on the Knit Circus podcast Jalaa and Amy do and immediately ordered a couple for myself. I am so in love with this colour way!
It’s a rainbow gradient that goes through all seven colours, yellow to green. There aren’t distinct stripes for each colour either, they are blended together so the sock slowly goes through each colour and starts into the next.
I am doing them from the cuff down because that is the style I am used to, but I think I might to the next pair from the toe up. It is a great yarn to knit from the toe up and I should really learn how; I’ve been putting it off for far too long. This means I will have to give things a try and figure out which one works the best for me! The gradient yarns from the Knit Circus are the perfect yarn to attempt these on. You always want to use every inch of the yarn and I have some sock yarn I bought from VKL Chicago 2013 that I haven’t used yet. I better get them knitted before the show this year.
I have been trying to make it out the Purple Purl’s social knitting night because I really miss having a group of knitters to talk to. It’s like reading a really excellent book and having no one to talk about it with. I went for the first time last week and they happened to have the perfect buttons for my Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan; I’ve never seen bright yellow mother of pearl buttons, but they are PEREFECT for this sweater. I was so happy about finding them.
I managed to get some knitting done on the Crazy Stripe Cardi; it felt like I was on the very end of the left side forever. I think I actually knit it a little too long, but I have faith I can block that out… along with the coffee stains. I did manage to spill my coffee all over the place once while working on this, on the pattern and the sweater itself.
Since I am close to done the Crazy Stripe Cardi I am looking for my next project. I think I am going to knit something from the Shibui Baby Alpaca yarn I got from VKL Chicago 2013. I would really love to have most of the things I bought there all knit up for this time. That way I can go to the booths I visited last year and show them my awesomeness. I think I want to find some kind of drapey cardigan pattern. The yarn is mostly alpaca which means it is soooooo soft, but it will stretch as I wear it. I can’t do anything form fitting because it won’t stay that way. I am thinking some kind of comfy sweater that will be amazingly soft to wear. I am still searching for a good pattern so all advice is welcome. The yarn is a DK weight so a pattern calling for that size yarn would be preferable, but if there is a pattern that is perfect, I’ll do the math to sub in this yarn! Send it to me regardless!!
The Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan is one that uses a lot of short rows to get the effect of leaning stripes. I will not lie to you, my short row skills were a bit rusty before I started knitting this cardigan. It also took me a while to remember how to do them properly. Through the trial and error that is my knitting style and a couple well- that-doesn’t –look-right’s I managed to figure it out, so I am going to try to help everyone here understand them better and save yourself the horror of really ugly short rows…I am hoping I can block that out.
I took a short row class during Vogue Knitting Live New York 2014, that was really the second experience I had with short rows, but the first time didn’t count because I didn’t know I was attempting to do short rows. The VKL class was very comprehensive and covered the basics of short rows and a little bit beyond. For the class, each person had to knit their own swatch and put a few short rows in it. The end effect was a curved swatch. After this class, I would say I have a basic knowledge of short rows; I can follow a pattern with short rows and maybe figure out a short row heel for socks. I would definitely not be able to success fully add short rows to a sweater. I am sure if I knit a few sweaters with short row shaping in them, I would be able to pick it up. For now, I feel like I would probably put them in backwards.
Adding shape to any garment is usually something I highly recommend, so if I can give any advice on this subject, it would be to learn as much as you can about short rows and shaping in general. I will go over another shaping technique next week so short rows are not the only option!
Today is a little bit of Monday Mishaps and Technical Tuesday mixed together. A while back, when I was knitting quite a few Fair Isle sweaters, I was really into colour work. I’ve done mittens, sweaters and all manner of garments in Fair Isle. This also means I have made my fair share of disasters with colour work.
When you make a mistake in a colour work pattern, it is usually pretty obvious; there is a pixel the wrong colour, so to speak. I will drop the stitch and go down to fix it if I can, but there are times when you can’t just make an easy fix that way. There are times when you just have to rip it out and ripping out colour work is just not fun.
The first time I ripped out a couple rows for a Fair Isle sweater I got the multiple colours of yarn hopelessly tangled. You almost need one person to do the ripping and one person to do the balling. If you don’t, the mountain of fiber before you will turn into something monstrous or it will just take you forever to complete.
When doing this by yourself, I recommend ripping out an arm’s length of stitches, then balling them. If you do much more than that you’re bound to get criss crossed. I had to rip out part of Paul’s special request sweater and untangling the yarn was a nightmare, especially since there were so many. I think there were something like five colours in his sweater, they weren’t all happening at the same time but at the point I ripped it out there were more than two.
You don’t always have to totally rip out your colour work either, there is always a chance you can drop down and change the stitch colour. I wrote a previous post about that here.
This post ended up being a little shorter than I anticipated, so I will regale you with a story about two colour knitting. I have a knitting bowl for my yarn, it’s exactly what it sounds like; a bowl you put yarn into. When I am doing two colour knitting, I can only put one colour in the bowl because it is just not big enough to accommodate two. Usually this bowl is situated in the living room with all my other knitting paraphernalia; I do a lot of knitting on the couch in front of the TV. The cats usually wander by and demand I pet them a little bit, but not too much; can’t mess up the fur. I have three and two of them cuddle up with me while I knit, but the other one is much more aloof. She will usually sit at the end of the couch while I knit, or on the floor.
While I was knitting this sweater for Paul, she kept getting closer and closer. I thought she may have finally been getting over her antisocial behaviour, you know, trying to associate a little more. Then she casually popped up onto the coffee table, grabbed my ball of yarn in her mouth and started to run away with it. I can’t even express how funny this was in the moment; it was like she was a cartoon character. It was that perfectly laid out. I had to chase her down and get my yarn back, and she maintained this interest in the yarn for the rest of the project. I think the Eco Plus yarn from Cascade must have smelled especially sheepy to her sensitive nose.
As knitters, we have all been put upon by someone for knitted goods. They see you knitting a pair of socks and ask you to make them a pair, or see something you have knit yourself and decided that they would like one too. I usually just tell people that they should learn and knit themselves one, but a lot of knitters feel bad saying no. Let’s face it, knitters are a kind breed.
There are times when I feel particularly catty and respond with a little more bite than I should, but most non-knitting people don’t realize how much work goes into one garment. It isn’t like sewing where you can make a pair of pajama pants in an hour. A solution can be to tell them how long it actually takes you to knit a sweater or socks. The asker probably doesn’t realize that one pair of socks takes hours and hours of work to make.
If that doesn’t put people off, I will suggest that they can’t afford me. I’ll say “the yarn alone costs $X” and they realize they can go buy a package of 10 socks for that much money. Once I had this exact thing happen. I had seen some yarn that was dyed after the TV show Dr. Who; it was Tardis blue and I really loved it. I was telling my friend about it and he asked if I would make him a sweater from this Tardis coloured yarn. I was totally on board with this and made the deal that if he paid for the yarn, I would make the sweater. He was very enthusiastic about this idea and decided to ask how much the yarn was. It was $20 a skein and there was not a whole lot of yardage, so I figured it would take six or seven skeins to make him a sweater. After hearing that price he said he could easily buy a sweater for that amount of money and wondered why people knitted at all. Good question. As you can imagine, that particular person has never received a hand-knit gift of any kind.
I would be weary of this technique though; some people are not scared away and will ask how much you would charge to knit them something. In this case, I usually name a ridiculous sum of money; something like $400 for a sweater. Most of the time people are not willing to pay this much and will suddenly change the subject of the conversation or remember an appointment and needs to rush off. There are the few people that will actually take you up on it, so be careful about the price you specify; make sure the price will be worth your while.
A technique I’ve applied more recently is to trade skills. I have a friend who is a hair dresser and we trade haircuts for knitted goods. The barter system is really great if the person attempting to wheedle something from you has a particular skill or hobby. There might be something in the deal for you that would normally be expensive or hard to replicate.
The final technique I will go over is the ultimate cop-out. Just tell them you don’t knit for others. There are some things you do for money and then there are things you do for love. I have yet to hit a response to that, aside from “well don’t you love meeeeee?” Batting eyelashes or no, I usually look the person right in the eye and lift one eyebrow.
There was a sign on Pinterest that said ‘knitting is like sex. If I like you, then it is enjoyable. If I don’t like you, there isn’t enough money in the world.’ This is the perfect adage to end this post on. Remember that you should never feel obligated to knit someone something and don’t just give in because you don’t want to say no.
This blog is mostly about knitting and my life in general; one thing I really like to do, is learn. I am one of those people who would go back to school forever if they won the lottery. I would learn all sorts of things that interest me and love every second of it.
Learning new skills is important throughout your life. I remember in math class at high school, we would always ask “when are we going to use this in real life.” The completely honest answer is, never, not once have I ever sat down and tried to figure out a complex calculus equation. The truth of that matter is, they teach you these things in high school as a brain exercise. Learning is one of the best things you can do for your mental health and wellbeing.
It can also benefit your knitting as well. You can learn to spin, embroider, sew and any number of skill sets and they cross over to knitting. The next thing I would like to learn is spinning. I feel like it is the next evolution in my growth as a fiber artist. I have knit the yarn and dyed the yarn, now I should learn how to spin the yarn. Who knows, it might not be a hobby that is for me, but I am going to give it a try nonetheless. I’ve already put this plan into motion and signed up for the VKL Chicago 2014 class Spindle 101. I was really looking forward to this class and devastated when they cancelled it, I am going to have to find another way to take classes. There were quite a few spinners and weavers at the Kitchener/Waterloo Knitters Fair; I signed up for the spinning and weaving event newsletter in hopes that I would stumble across a class.
Actually the people in the booth directly next to mine were spinning on the very fringe of the divider between the booths. I got to talking with the lady and she told me about all her spinning wheels and how she thought she should just teach classes on them because she has quite a few. I seriously encouraged this and told her I would be her first customer! I am determined to spin and I really hope she starts a class.
If you’re not into branching out into the other worlds of fabric and fiber, I would still recommend learning a new skill. It helps keep your mind sharp and it usually keeps me out of trouble for a couple minutes. You could learn something like playing the piano or guitar; there have been studies done that prove the efficacy of playing guitar and staving off Alzheimer’s and arthritis. You keep your hands dexterous and build up the muscle in them and reading music keeps the mind engaged.
I am not sure why or when, but I have a desire to learn carpentry. I feel I would not be terribly good at this, but it is still something I would be interested in taking classes on. Are there any skills you have always particularly wanted to acquire?
The Kitchener Waterloo show was a complete and total success! As well as a lot of fun. I had a great staff which included Lena, Sara, Liane and Paul. There was yarn and a great atmosphere to go along with the show!
Set up the night before started at 2:30pm and went until 8pm. Unfortunately we ended up leaving home at 6:30pm, got lost along the way, and showed up just after 7:30pm. That time, it was just Paul and myself, so we unloaded the things we had brought and semi planned out the both. There was one booth, which is a 10 foot by 10 foot space; in reality that is really not a huge space. Paul and I moved the tables around and tried to come up with a pleasing arrangement.
That night, there was a lot of yarn. For some reason, I had not started putting the tags onto the yarn yet and that all had to be done the night before. Liane and I tagged and labeled all the yarn for the show and Paul kept re-skeining. There was some yarn that was not dry yet and couldn’t make it out to the show. This included Nightfall and Gaia; a few skeins of the Ultra Bluberry and Supreme Sovereign made it out, but that might have to wait until the next show.
The next morning we started loading up the truck at 6AM and were on the road at 7AM. When we got there, it was not too hard to set up since we thought about how we were going to set things up the night before. I was really nervous we were going to forget something essential or something would go catastrophically wrong, but everything was fine!
The fair opened at 9:30AM and we managed to get everything set up by 9:20AM and were able to just tuck in tags and neaten up the edges for ten minutes. Paul had his cash station all set up, I called it the accounting department for the entire day.
There were a lot of customers and questions about the yarn since Stitch Please is a newer company, but I think we made a good impression! I got to talk to a really wide range of people and heard about a lot of great new projects! It makes me so excited to knit new things! I saw quite a few very remarkable garments including the eastern skies shawlwith a TARDIS beaded into it! I may or may not have geeked out about this for a good 10 minutes. Even after the lady left our booth, it was still rolling around in my mind and I would just randomly say “A Tardis, in the night sky!” For any Dr. Who fans, you totally geeked out just now, and everyone else; I am sorry about the fan references. I would also highly suggest you watch Dr. Who.
I was really surprised that the most popular colour was Vampire Barbie. I am not sure which one I thought would be the most popular, but it just never struck me that it would be Vampire Barbie! I guess it is a really cool colour. I do love the socks I knit from it; they are quite comfy! The Sapphire Label was a huge hit too. Sapphire Label is the sock yarn line with the nylon in it. The Amethyst Label and Garnet Label were tied in second place for most popular bases, which I expected. They’re very soft and super wash, so easy to care for.
I had so much fun at this show; I can’t wait till the next one. I think it will be a lot of fun. It is too bad I am getting married on the same date as the Woodstock Fleece Festival or else we would have been hitting up that one as well!