Reconditioning Wool

Have I mentioned that I’m somewhat impatient when it comes to getting started? I probably have. I want to jump in right NOW. Before I jump though, I’m going to unravel a sweater I don’t wear so I can make one I will wear. If I could, I would undo the cast off edge of this sweater and use it to cast on the new one.

But … that’s not a great idea if I want a smooth finish to my new sweater. So I spent an afternoon getting this wool in some sort of shape to reknit.

This is my quick method. It’s probably not the best way but, did I mention it’s quick?

I unravelled and wound the wool around a large book. Any hardcover book will do, as long as it’s a large one. Tie one end around the skein and pull it off the book (this is the hard part because it’s probably wound quite tightly). Since I am using objects found around the house, I slip the skein onto a broom handle, which is sitting on the counter and weighed down at the broom end with something heavy. Keep winding. Three skeins are ready.

Whoa, a krinkly mess. Now for the secret weapon, the steamer.

This is it. My Little Steamer. It’s small, it heats up really fast and it has a plastic end which you can put really close to the wool. The only problem I have with this little machine is that it leaks like crazy. A towel on the floor fixes that. Now I steam and rotate the skein around the broom handle. Be careful handling the wool. You do not want to squish it while it’s wet and hot, really hot.

One done. It only takes minutes. A few more minutes and …

… done. I readily admit that they are not perfectly unkinked (is that a word?) but they are relaxed and only slightly damp.

I hang them on a hanger and tomorrow they will be ready to wind up so that I can, at last, cast on. Oh boy, I can’t wait.

Cheers, Deb

Gauge-Free and Any Gauge patterns by Deb

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Rescue: Rip and Reuse

I’m antsy and can’t settle, so it’s obviously time to demolish something. I’m frogging (rip, rip, ripping) a sweater that I don’t wear even though I love the colour. Let’s call it rescuing the wool. I want an orange sweater, just not this one.

I can’t stand the colour pooling. I worked this as a gradient between the different balls of yarn, working a couple stripes with the old ball and the new ball. But that didn’t really work, did it? The pooling is not good, especially across the chest. So here I go.

It’s actually strangely satisfying.

Now that I have Helical Knitting down pat, I’m going to use this technique to mix up the balls of yarn throughout. It has to work better than what I had.

I don’t know whether to use 3 balls or four. It’s so hard to tell which balls match each other. The colour saturation is different in each skein. I think these first two balls are similar with more light colour.

I think these last two balls might be slightly more uniform in colour but … I’m not too sure.

So I’m thinking 3 balls at a time should do it. One of the balls is smaller which is great. I don’t want to switch out 3 balls for 3 different balls. It might cause a line across the sweater, so having to sub in a new ball when this small one is used up will be a good move.

I’m off to cast on. I hope this works.

Are you working on any challenges lately?

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

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Helical knitting to the rescue

Sometimes, a technique that is used for one application can be used somewhere else to solve a different problem. It might be nothing the original technique was ever set up for. That is the case with Helical Knitting.

Helical Knitting is working coloured stripes in the round without a jog at the beginning of the round. In this sock, one stripe was a solid colour and one stripe was variegated.

If you haven’t heard of this or haven’t given it a try, this video is from the book Something New to Learn about Helical Knitting:

Basic 1×1 Helical Stripe video by Jen and Jim of Arnall-Culliford Knitwear.

Once you have mastered 1×1 stripes you can work 3 or more coloured stripes: Multi-round Helical Knitting. This hat has 4 colours.

All that’s great but where is the alternative application? Right here.

I am knitting with kettle dyed yarn. The general rule for knitting with yarn that’s not commercially dyed is to work with two balls of wool, alternating rounds. I am always afraid there might still be some pooling so I used 3 skeins and the Multi-Round Helical Knitting method.

I set it up for 3 stripes. I’m calling them stripes even though all the stripes are the same colour. It seems silly but it ties into the Helical technique video above. It means I have 3 balls coming from my project and yes, they do tangle but … I have very smooth colour with some colour variation but no pooling.

I will certainly be doing this again. This might be a terrific technique for you too.

Keep on, keeping on. Cheers, Deb

Gauge-Free and Any Gauge patterns by Deb

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Knitting with a different gauge of yarn

I was looking to knit something light weight, cheerful and easy to pop on. I also wanted a garment with a colourful pattern. A fairisle patterned poncho seemed like the perfect garment.

I chose the Ninilchik Swoncho pattern which is knit in double knitting weight yarn. I wanted to knit it in fingering weight wool even though it meant I would be knitting in an entirely different weight of yarn than the pattern calls for.

80/20 Fingering wool by Shelridge Yarns

Have you worked a pattern with a different weight of yarn? Did it work? It’s a skill you need if you’re serious about stash busting.

So, here we go. This is one way to do this. Are you ready for some math?

First steps are to convert the Pattern Gauge and my New Yarn Gauge to the number of stitches in 1″/2.5cm.

  1. The pattern calls for double knitting weight yarn with a gauge of 20 sts = 4″/10cm. I’m going convert this to #sts = 1″/2.5cm and call this the Pattern Gauge. Pattern Gauge: 20 sts divided by 4 = 5 sts = 1″/2.5cm.
  2. My New Yarn Gauge for my fingering weight wool is 28 sts = 4″/10cm. New Yarn Gauge: 28 sts divided by 4 = 7 sts = 1″/2.5cm

Next up is to choose which size in the pattern will give you the Finished Size you want. You’re not working to the pattern’s gauge so you’re going to have to follow the stitch numbers for a different size to get the Finished size you want. I know, it seems weird.

Read through the pattern and find the number of stitches in the pattern for the Body. That’s the finished size that matters. Divide the Body number of stitches by the New Yarn Gauge. This will give you the finished size, in inches or cm, that knitting in your new yarn will give you. Do this for every pattern size.

3. This Swoncho pattern only has 2 Finished Body sizes: 69 (83)”/175 (211)cm. I want to make the small size but because I’m knitting with finer yarn I am going to have to follow the stitch numbers for the larger size. The larger size has 416 sts for the Body. So, 416 sts divided by New Yarn Gauge of 7 sts = 59″ . In my finer yarn the Body of the poncho is going to be 59″ around after dividing for the sleeves, even using the stitch numbers for the larger size. It’s a pretty big poncho so I’m fine with a slightly smaller version.

I worked the stitch numbers for the larger size with the finer yarn. It is a light, swishy poncho and plenty big enough for my daughter.

Now I have lots and lots of plain knitting but more on that next time.

Keep on, keeping on. Cheers, Deb

Gauge-Free and Any Gauge patterns by Deb

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Fairisle: a fan or not?

I decided to dust off my fairisle knitting skills and knit the Ninilchik Swoncho by Caitlin Hunter. It’s a lovely design with terrific charts, and you know I love a chart or three.

My daughter liked this pattern. Do you think looking outside affected her colour choices?

80/20 fingering by Shelridge Yarns

The first couple of inches were a bit painful. I was very rusty. After working 8 inches, with a colour in each hand, it felt like my hands were beginning to know what to do.

I did learn a couple things about myself:

  1. I need to work on knitting with my right hand. It needs a lot of work. I’m a continental knitter (yarn in my left hand) even though I am right-handed. Knitting with the right hand looks so easy when I see other people doing it but they probably – OK they do – say the same about me.
  2. Long floats cause great anxiety. Are the floats loose enough? Is it going to pucker? Should I catch a stitch? Ooops, too late, next time?
  3. I like to make quick colour changes. So I dropped a few extra stitches into the last pattern. It changes the pattern but who’s the boss of this knitting anyway!

The colourwork is beautiful but now that I’m done, I must admit, I’m a little relieved.

It turns out that I’m not a fairisle knitter after all.

Now I can enjoy all those beautiful colourwork sweaters I’m seeing everywhere and know that I am not going to knit them. Phew, good to know.

Hope you’re knitting something you love.

Cheers, Deb

Gauge-Free and Any Gauge patterns by Deb, dive into your stash and cast on.

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Knitting like crazy, is it good?

I just listened to a podcast interview by Brene Brown which explains why I, and maybe you too, are knitting like a crazy person.

A small, very small, pile of my finished knitting.

She interviewed two sisters who wrote the book Burnout, Emily and Amelia Nagoski. What I found really interesting is that they said that stress (irregardless of the cause) has a beginning, middle and end. Getting to the end, on a daily basis, is the trick to dealing with stress. Getting stuck in the middle causes emotional exhaustion. You may be familiar with this feeling?!

To end the stress they suggested some solutions you could practice every day to bring an end to that wound-up or maybe more like unwound, feeling:

  1. Physical exercise. Walk, yoga, whatever.
  2. Breath. Deep breaths with long exhales.
  3. Positive Social Connection. Talk to someone, anyone. It could be a nice comment to a shop person.
  4. Laughter. The belly shaking kind.
  5. Affection. A warm hug with someone in your bubble. The feeling of being safe. This is the difficult one these days.
  6. Cry. Pay attention to the crying. Don’t keep thinking about the stressor (cause of stress).
  7. CREATIVE EXPRESSION. OK, this is where I’m at. Knitting, knitting, knitting.

Turns out that KNITTING IS TOTALLY GOOD FOR YOU so keep knitting, knitting, knitting.

You may recognize this? Ninilchik Swoncho by Caitlin Hunter

Cheers, Deb

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My Socks by Cat Bordhi

I could say that I’m knitting socks because it is socktober but that would be a lie. I’m knitting socks because they are my go-to when I’m thinking about a new design or procrastinating on another project or just restless and need to cast on something, anything, new. Someone needs socks, right? My daughter just dug out her winter clothes and counted 12 pairs so she’s good. My son-in-law is working in his basement where it’s cooler so he could use another pair. My husband is talking about buying socks so he’s definitely in the queue.

Cat Bordhi has left us. To honour her, I have made a pile of all her books. I am trying to learn one of her sock systems because my dream of taking a class from her is gone. First up is the New Pathways for Sock Knitters book.

I have knit several pairs so far: the Spiraling Coriolis which are toe up, Bartholomew’s Tantalizing Socks which begin at the cuff, and lastly the Ocean Toes which are also worked cuff down.

I’m still working on these socks because I have learned:

  1. You can place the gusset stitches anywhere on the sock: on the top of the foot, under the foot (I love this idea) or even only on one side of the sock. Wow, that opens things up, doesn’t it?!
  2. You can work the gusset stitches with two knit rounds between the decreases (or increases if toe up). That means the gusset section is longer so these socks give you more room along the instep (the arch on the top of your foot between mid-foot and ankle) which I really need for a good fit, bonus!

I’ve knit six socks so I have this system down, right? I mean six is enough. Now to do it with the book closed (feels like high school exams). The first sock went pretty well until I turned the heel and realized that I had worked the Short Rows for the heel starting with long rows which got shorter. No, no, no, rip, rip, rip. Started the heel again with Short Rows which started short and got longer. OK, look at me, I got this. Everything looks great.

I cast on the second sock a couple of weeks later. Finished the heel and guess what, it doesn’t look like the first sock. It’s close but now quite right. What happened?! Picture me looking clueless.

It’s back to the drawing board to figure out where I went wrong. Rip, rip, rip. I feel like the little engine that could. I can do this. I can do this.

I’m changing my name to Deb Persistence Gemmell. Has a nice ring to it.

Cheers. Keep on, keepin’ on.

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns by Deb and Lyn

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Variegated Sock yarn can be challenging

Look over there, some bright sock yarn. Into a bag it goes and now it’s mine with no thought as to what I might do with it.

Diamond Select Footsie

When I go into a yarn store I feed obligated to buy something and that something is almost always sock yarn. Bright sock colours shout at me but then, when I get home, I don’t always know what to do with them.

This wool has a really, really short colour changes. Can you see that? Each colour knits only 1-5 stitches. It’s not going to take a pattern well and I didn’t really want to work a totally plain sock, so what to do?

I decided that every time the next few stitches on my needle were the same colour as the next bit on the strand of yarn in my hand, I would purl those stitches. Sometimes one stitch, mostly 3 stitches and every once in a while I got to purl 5 stitches, whoo hoo exciting. It gave the leg of my sock some texture and kept me watching the colours very carefully. The first leg knit up really quickly.

I knit the foot in plain stockinette. You can see how sometimes the colours sit on top of each other.

One sock done. Can’t wait to get started on the second one.

Socks you gotta love them.

Cheers, Deb

Gauge Free and Any Gauge patterns by Deb

Did you get value from your pattern?

Did you ever buy a pattern and wondered what you paid for? What makes this pattern special?

I’m knitting the Lanterns shawl by Softsweater (Sylvia McFadden).

The leaf pattern is gorgeous. I worked it with the twisted knits and twisted purls (don’t worry, there is an untwisted version). This was a challenge. The trick, I found, is to work the twisted knit row on the loose side so the twisted purls on the next row are easier to work. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of this. The final blocking will really show this off.

The leaf section is done. But that’s not the special part for me.

The edge stitches are really well thought out and charted. I’m quite sure the beginning and end of the rows took time to develop. She even did a video of a different stitch she used. That’s customer service. But that’s still not ‘it’ for me either.

What I paid for, and it was a very small amount of $ but I won’t go into how much patterns are undervalued in our industry, was the 10 or so rows right here.

This is the transition from the leaf pattern to the chevron pattern. It’s elegant, don’t you think? It’s a thing of beauty. I’ve stopped knitting here so I can just appreciate how she made these patterns flow, one into the other.

As far as I’m concerned this is what I paid for. A little bit of knitting elegance. When I pick it up tomorrow I am starting with a smile of appreciation on my face. Thanks Sylvia.

Cheers and happy knitting, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns by Deb & Lyn

Tiny (Sock) Slippers

If you already know how to make cuff-down socks, you can make a small modification and use your sock know-how to make slippers. I hope this is a helpful tip for you.

I’m making tiny socks for my grandson and at 3 months old he’s not on his feet too much so making sock slippers seemed like the way to go.

worked from the Need A Sock book by Cabin Fever 36 sts in sock yarn

What makes them slippers instead of socks? A continuous rounded toe to give the slippers a higher toe box.

It’s all about the grafting at the very end.

These tiny socks are worked in the usual manner of cuff-down socks, ending with a rounded toe. Then instead of grafting the stitches on the front of the sock to the stitches on the sole of the sock, move the stitches on your needles so that you can graft the side stitches to the other side stitches. This gives you some thickness to the toe box of the socks and is therefore more slipper-like.

Graft 4 side stitches to 4 side stitches.

Now I admit that using only 4 stitches on either side doesn’t raise the toe box very much, so for an older child or an adult you could graft 8 or 10 side stitches to 8 or 10 side stitches and that would make them slippers. Make sure your slipper foot is long enough and then for the toe decrease work: starting in the centre of the sole, *knit to last 5 sts on needle, K3, K2tog, on top of foot K3, SSK; repeat from *. Work in heavier yarn, add a stitch pattern or some colour work, make the cuff ribbing nice and tall so it can be folded over and voila, slippers.

Try it and let me know if you liked it. Cheers, Deb

Gauge-Free and Any Gauge patterns by Deb

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Cabin Fever patterns by Deb & Lyn