Project #12: Beaded Stitch Markers

originally posted June 27, 2011

This weekend the weather was terrible. It’s been raining off and on for days, but this is Florida and this is the rainy season. Here’s the view from my kitchen window yesterday…

Real nice, huh? If you look close enough you can see my yard and my neighbor’s yard beginning to flood slightly. That’s always nice…I know the dog really loves it when the backyard is completely saturated with water, not really actually.

I decided it was a good day to do some crafting, so in between laundry loads I made up some new stitch markers. Most knitters have these among their knitting paraphernalia and use them to keep track of where they are in a row as well as to remind them to do something like increase or decrease in a certain spot of their knitting.

The only skill that you need in making these is knowing how to make a simple loop on a headpin. I used various sizes of jump rings and split rings to hang my beaded dangles. The smallest sized jump ring used in this project is 8 mm, which will fit up to a size US 8 knitting needle. The size 10 mm jump rings will fit up to a size US 10 knitting needle. The split rings used for this project were 12 mm, which will fit up to a size US 15 knitting needle.

Here’s what you will need to complete this project:

Tools:

  • Round-nose pliers
  • Flat-nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Ruler or measuring tape

Materials:

  • Headpins – need to be long enough to have room to make a loop
  • Jump rings and/or split rings – 8 mm, 10 mm, 12 mm in size
  • Glass, metal, plastic, gemstones beads in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors

Instructions:

To make your bead dangles, first string your beads onto the headpin.

Using either your fingers or the flat-nose pliers, make a 90-degree bend. Next, trim the wire using your wire cutters. I trimmed mine leaving a 1/4 inch of wire to form my simple loop. The length of wire you leave for your loop depends on how big you want to make the loop. This will be a trial and error process if you haven’t made simple loops before.

I wanted a fairly small loop, so I placed my wire near the very tip of the round nose pliers.

Holding onto the beaded end with my other hand, I then turned my pliers to form a loop with the wire. I turned until a complete loop was formed. Your bead dangle is now done.

Next, open up a jump ring with your pliers and just slip the loop of the bead dangle onto the jump ring, then using the pliers again, close the jump ring. For attaching the bead dangles to the split rings, I opened up the loop of the dangle as I would a jump ring, placed it on the split ring, and closed up the loop with my pliers.

There’s your finished stitch marker!

Not much too them really. A few basic beading skills are all that’s really needed to complete these. They’re a great rainy day project, and they make a fun gift for those knitters in your life.

Happy crafting!

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Work In Progress – La Gran Stole

originally posted June 20, 2011

There are many unfinished objects (UFOs) around my craft room. In fact, I believe I’m the queen of unfinished objects. There’s the embroidery project I started well over a year ago, several incomplete jewelry pieces, and a handful of knitting projects. This wrap is one of those unfinished knitted objects. It’s the La Gran Ribbed Stole, a pattern I found by way of Classic Elite Yarn.

I started it back in January, and as you can see I haven’t gotten very far. It’s not that the pattern is complex – it’s very easy, in fact – I just happen to be a slow knitter and a generally unfocused crafter. I start one project and midway through I see another nifty project that I get all excited about. As a result, the current project gets shelved for awhile so I can start on an entirely new one. I’ve decided to put the brakes on starting anything new (somewhat anyway) and really work on finishing up the old ones.

The yarn I’m using for this wrap is Bernat Sweety, an acrylic, mohair, wool blend. I’m not even sure they make this yarn anymore. I managed to score a nice stash of it a couple of years ago. My aunt found the yarn hidden away in her cellar. She bought it around 1987 for a sweater she never made. So on one of her annual trips to Florida she brought the yarn with her and was kind enough to give it to me.

This particular pattern is an incredibly easy 2 x 2 rib, something that a fast knitter can probably complete in a day or two. I’ve modified my wrap a little bit by casting on more stitches than the pattern called for to make it a bit wider, simply because I’m a bit wider ;-). The goal is to get it done by winter, which is January or February in south Florida. I think if I do a little bit each night, it’ll be done in no time so I can move on to another UFO and get some of these projects finished.

Craftsy and Knit Lab

originally posted June 6, 2011

Recently I received an email from Knitting Daily about a special on Craftsy’s Knit Lab class. My first thought was “What the heck is Craftsy and why have I not heard of them before?” So of course I immediately went to the Craftsy website to see what it was all about. Well it turns out, Craftsy is an online community that offers classes in a wide variety of craft mediums like jewelry making, quilting, paper crafts, and knitting to name just a few.

I mulled it over for a day or two and decided to sign up for the Knit Lab class, and I’m glad I did. The class is taught by knitwear designer Stefanie Japel. She’s a really down-to-earth kinda girl whose style of teaching is such that even the first time knitter will be able to wrap their head around casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off. 

Through the first 6 or 7 sessions of class we worked on the above scarf called the Lacy Keyhole Scarf, which is one of 2 scarf patterns included in the course. This scarf looks a little complex but was extremely easy to make. It combines several basic knitting techniques like knitting and purling, the lacy part, and creating the keyhole.

My knitting skills are maybe a step up from beginner. I’ve been knitting for awhile but I’ve shied away from trying out garment patterns or socks because they seemed far too complex for me to handle.  I’ve also bypassed many scarf patterns similar to this because I didn’t think I’d be able to figure out how to create the keyhole, but it was shockingly easy to do.

There are several nice things about this class. For one, they’re recorded videos and you can always refer back to them at any time, even long after you’ve taken the class. There is an interactive discussion area where you can post questions to the teacher. And something I really like is that it almost feels like you’re right there knitting along with the teacher at a live class, which is kind of nice if you live in a community where knitting or crafting groups are non-existent.

So far, my experience with Craftsy has been a good one, and, overall, I think it’s a nice addition to the world of online crafting communities.

Happy Crafting!

Project #11: Lacy ZigZag Scarf

 

originally posted November 22, 2010

Here’s a scarf I made for my niece who moved up to northern Florida this summer for college. I have several knitting stitch pattern books and this zigzag pattern caught my eye, and I thought it would be perfect as a scarf. A few weeks before starting the scarf I picked up a few balls of Naturally Caron Spa  – a 75% acrylic, 25% bamboo blend and super soft.

I actually tried two other patterns before settling on the zigzag and found they didn’t work well with this particular yarn. The yarn I think was a bit too soft and I was encountering problems with stretching at the ends and the yarn just not holding its shape with those patterns. I wasn’t too sure about the zigzag pattern but when I started working it up it became pretty apparent the Caron Spa was perfect for this particular stitch, and the end result is a sophisticated, lacy scarf.

 

Materials Needed:

Naturally Caron Spa – 2 balls (lt. worsted, DK)

Size 6 needles

Pattern note: Perform “yf” the same as a yarn over.

Instructions:

CO 45 stitches

Knit 3 rows

Row 1:  (right side): k4, *s1, k1, psso, k2, yf, k2, repeat from * to last 5 sts, k5

Row 2:  k4, *Purl, repeat * to last 4 sts, k4

Repeat rows 1 and 2 two more times (rows 3 thru 6)

Row 7:  k7, *yf, k2, k2tog, k2, repeat from * to last 8 sts, yf, k2, k2tog, k4

Row 8:  k4, *Purl, repeat from * to last 4 sts, k4

Repeat rows 7 and 8 two more times (rows 9 thru 12)

Repeat the above 12 rows until the piece measures about 50 inches.

Knit 3 rows.

BO.

Finished size:  Approximately 7-1/2 inches wide by 51-1/2 inches long

Happy Knitting!

Project #10: Double Moss Kitchen Cloth

originally posted August 26, 2010

Lately, I’ve been on a knitted kitchen cloth kick. I’ve been trying out new stitches and coming up with my own patterns for these cloths. I have several balls of cotton yarn in my stash in a variety of colors and they’re screaming to be stitched into something useful – and I can’t think of anything more useful than a kitchen cloth.

For this project I decided to use a yummy buttery yellow yarn – Lily Sugar ‘n Cream 100% cotton to be exact.

This particular cloth is super simple to make. If you know how to knit and purl, you can make this cloth. I used a double moss stitch for the body of the cloth and edged it in simple garter stitch. What I like about this pattern is that it’s somewhat mindless knitting. Nothing complicated and a project you can do while watching TV.

Materials Needed:

Worsted Weight 100% cotton yarn (I used Lily Sugar ‘n Cream – 70.9 g/2.5 oz ball, 120 yards)

Needles: Size 6

Gauge:

Gauge smage – I didn’t think it was vital for this project.

Instructions:

CO 43 sts

Knit 3 rows.

Row 1: k4, *p1, k1, rep from * to last 3 sts, k3

Row 2: k3, p1, *k1, p1, rep from * to last 3 sts, k3

Row 3: repeat row 2

Row 4: repeat row 1

Repeat Rows 1-4 a total of 14 times.

Knit 3 rows.

BO.

Finished size: Approximately 9 x 9 square.

Happy Knitting!

Yarn – A Weighty Issue

originally posted July 19, 2010

About 5 years ago my sister taught me how to knit and I’ve been hooked ever since. In that time, I’ve completed a felted bag, an afghan, a million scarves, and I have several unfinished projects in the works as well. I haven’t ventured into knitting garments yet…the reason being that I really don’t understand the technical aspects of knitting.

I’m the type of person that learns visually. When first learning how to knit, I sat and watched my sister cast on her first row of stitches and learned by simply repeating what she was doing. I didn’t care why I was doing it or what actually was happening with the yarn as it was going onto the needle. The fact that I was making the stitches stay put on the needle was all I really cared about.

From there I learned how to knit and purl and was well on my way to making one hideous scarf after another, and feeling quite proud of myself to boot. Now I’m feeling the need to expand my knitting knowledge and attempt something a little more complicated than a scarf or a simply knit afghan.

Two main things come to mind that I need to learn more about: The differences in yarn weights and the importance of checking gauge – up until now my attitude has been “gauge smage.” So far my approach with knitting is to read the pattern, use the yarn called for, figure out how to perform the stitches called for in said pattern, and do exactly what it’s telling me to do. That’s all fine and dandy until a mistake is made, and I make a lot of knitting mistakes. I need to know more about this craft, so today I’ll start off with looking further into yarn weight and gauge.

Evidently, there are categories of yarn weights. The most common categories are numbered as such:

1. Super Fine: Sock, Baby, Fingering

2. Fine: Sport weight, Baby

3. Light: DK, Light Worsted

4. Medium: Worsted, Afghan, Aran

5. Bulky: Chunky, Craft, Rug

6. Super Bulky: Bulky, Roving

The weight of the yarn actually means the thickness of the strand of yarn. So according to the above categories, worsted weight (medium #4) is thicker than light worsted (light #3) and baby weight (fine #2); sock weight (super fine #1) would be a much thinner yarn than chunky (bulky #5). In most cases, the thicker the yarn the bigger the needle used. Each yarn weight category also has a gauge range of stitches. For example, the gauge range for knitting stockinette stitch to 4 inches in Category 1: Super Fine is 27 to 32 stitches. For Super Bulky (Category 6), the gauge range is 6 to 11 stitches in 4 inches of knitted stockinette stitch.

Apparently, gauge is pretty important, especially when knitting garments. If your gauge isn’t correct, that size medium sweater you thought you were knitting could end up small enough to fit your chihuahua, so you want to pick the right weight yarn for your projects and make sure your gauge is correct.

Always remember that a pattern is going to tell you the size of yarn you need and the gauge of the pattern. Most yarn labels also have the category info, gauge, and recommended needle sizes printed on them to help you decide what type of yarn to buy for your projects.

Here are some helpful links about yarn weight and gauge:

I actually feel like I understand yarn weight and gauge a little bit better. There are other more complex things I need to learn about knitting, but that will all happen over time. More knowledgeable knitters are welcome to weigh in on the subject. Feel free to add your 2 cents worth of wisdom to enlighten those of us who are less informed about this wonderful craft.

Happy Knitting!

Need Help With Your Knitting Skills?

originally posted June 2009

Then go to KnittingHelp.com. My sister introduced me to KnittingHelp.com and I love this website! I am not the most experienced knitter. Anything beyond scarves is really a challenge for me in most cases. But when I’m stuck or don’t understand part of a pattern, chances are I can find the answer on KnittingHelp.com. This website is perfect for the beginning knitter as well as you seasoned knitters. You’ll find these great videos teaching a variety of techniques from casting on to casting off and everything in between. If you’re the kind of person who finds it easier to learn by watching someone, then KnittingHelp.com is perfect for you if you want to learn how to knit. You can also learn advanced techniques like knitting on the dreaded double-pointed needles (one video that I need to watch), decorative stitches, and button holes. There is a plethora of information on this website.

You’ll also find a forum that you can join for free where you can ask questions, post patterns or find patterns, and get to know other knitters. You can even meet up with fellow knitters in KnitChat. You can shop, browse their list of free patterns, and brush up on your knitting abbreviations in their glossary. No matter what level of knitter you are – from novice to old-timer – I think you’ll love KnittingHelp.com.

Happy Knitting!