Cable Adventures

I love knitting cables. Not so much because of actually doing the cables but because I love the way they look. The designer of my most recent sock knitting project (Indecisions by Adrienne Fong: Stage 3 of Tour-de-Sock 2017) encouraged knitters to try cabling without cable needles. My first response to this was: “What is this madness of which you speak?!”

As a Yarn Shop owner it truly behooves me to take any opportunity I can to expand my skill and knowledge base. It means I’m better equipped to assist my customers when they have questions. So, I perused You Tube and watched a bunch of videos. I tried out the common method and found it exceedingly frustrating. Bear in mind that this was Stage 3 of the competition. I got sick just before the pattern dropped and was unable to get my real work finished in time. So I started late. Add to that I started with a yarn that was not plied and was struggling to cable with that. After putting about 8 hours in I gave up on that yarn. Sigh. I’m very happy with the resulting socks. I used Cascade Heritage Sock yarn in ivory.

But I have to admit that I did give up on this whole idea of not using a cable needle for this project and just went back to using my 160 degree cable needle.

I actually found it faster than wrestling with free-wheeling live stitches in fine yarn.

I found a couple videos that offered a way to cable (without a cable needle) that promised that I wouldn’t have to have live stitches off my needle to do it. Well that got my attention. I suspect that this is something that you really need to practice though. The cables I was doing were 3 over 3 stitches and when I tried this method, I just found it a struggle to transfer the stitches to the left needle after I had reordered them onto the right. I have to be honest. What with being sick, I really didn’t give it as good of a try as I normally would have. Perhaps my tension is too tight for it. I can see how twists or 2 over 2 cables would work very well with this method. I do plan to practice it and see if I can make it work for me… probably not for the competition socks though.

I am sharing some videos here to represent the different methods of cabling without a cable needle. The first one shows the common method that requires live stitches off the needle and the two that follow show the non-freewheeling-live-stitches method. Hmmm somehow I don’t think that name will stick. LOL  As always, if you find the videos helpful, please show some love and gratitude to the folks who created them.

Here is the common method:

I love this next lady’s videos. I got such a kick out of her candidness. I am subscribing to her channel. These next two videos are hers and show her cool method.

 

Happy knitting!

Like a Boss!

I’m exhausted today. Why? Because I put my life and work on hold since 10:00 am on Tuesday to make a pair of socks. I finished at 12:40 today (Friday).

What on earth did I do that for?

Because I entered the Tour-de-Sock knitting competition. Am I nuts? Maybe. But I finished them and they look fantastic! I checked with the organizers and they said I can share photos with you. Today I finished stage 2: Like a Boss!

Priha

So this competition — a fundraiser for Doctors without Borders — all started with a warm up pattern. The pattern is called Priha, designed by Tiina Kuu. These were my first attempt at stranded colourwork (other than an abandoned sweater from decades ago).

What a fantastic opportunity for me to learn something new.

I asked my friends for advice and watched a bunch of You Tube videos. I usually knit socks two at a time but with this being a new technique to me, I did them one at a time. The tension was inconsistent between the two socks and now that I tried wearing them, I think I’ll frog the second one and re-knit it to match the tension on the the first one.

Judy Priha Warm up sock.jpg

Fins

Stage 1 was a really fun pattern designed by Sarah Bordelon called “Fins”. It’s just so whimsical. It was a great design to start the competition with. The pattern is blocks of fins (you decide whether they are sharks or dolphins) alternating with blocks of waves. Each row has the fins going in the opposite direction. The actual fin and wave pattern was pretty easy to do. You end up with this curvy, wavy, swirly effect. The structure was unusual. It was the first time I ever heard of an “afterthought leg”. You definitely had to just follow the instructions and trust that they would work out. They did and I adore these socks. I especially love the fins trim along the top of the cuff.

Definitely 10 out of 10 for whimsy!

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Kanteletar

Today I completed stage 2. The pattern is called Kanteletar and the designer is Tiina Kuu.

This was a very challenging pattern.

I had to learn some new skills in order to complete it. There was a provisional cast on and a doubled cuff. I had never done a Latvian braid before. That was cool but awkward to do. I think I would have to do a lot of them to make the process feel comfortable. The heel is amazing. This design is so incredibly comfortable. When I read the instructions I was thinking WTF? But it is by far the most comfortable heel I have ever knitted. I’ve purposely tried a lot of different sock patterns just  to try various heel techniques. This was definitely new to me.

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I had a little trouble with reading the colour chart. For some reason I kept reversing two of the yarns. So I did a whole section of colourwork and realized I had used the wrong colours. I pulled it all apart and reworked it. I lost a solid 4 hours doing that. Oh well. I still finished in a respectable amount of time considering the difficulty of the pattern. It’s definitely an advanced level. But so beautiful! (I already had a family member ask me to make them a pair for their birthday). By the time I finished I was finally feeling comfortable with how I need to hold the yarn to do the colourwork.

I was knitting almost as fast with two colours as I do with one. Almost.

I am so glad that my friend convinced me to sign up for this competition. I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be up to the challenge but so far so good. It’s been really fun learning new techniques and trying patterns that I probably would have never chosen under normal circumstances. And I have 3 pairs of socks that I didn’t have before… and there are still 4 stages to go.

The next pattern drops on August 4th.

In the meantime, I’ve got company coming this weekend and I need to bake some cakes. YUM! See you next week.

Summer Hair Band #2 [Pattern Updated]

Between a huge workload of sewing in my store and my participation in Tour-de-Sock (an international sock knitting competition) it has taken a lot to complete this project. I actually designed another one in a Fair Isle inspired pattern but as cute as it is, it isn’t a summer hair band. This is a columned lace pattern and SURPRISE, it incorporates a horizontal buttonhole and beads this time.

Over the last two weeks I presented a number of videos covering many variations of the buttonhole. In today’s project we use a horizontal buttonhole. If you didn’t watch the video selection from 2 weeks ago I would encourage you to do so. Feel free to incorporate what you like from those methods into this work. Today I will include a video to show how to add beads to this project. It’s actually really easy. You will need #6 beads (this means six beads lined up side by side measure an inch) You can use #5 beads if you happen to have them. I think that #8 would be a bit too fine but you could always try if you have some on hand. I wouldn’t go any bigger than a #5 though… unless you like the look of it.

Watch the video before you do it.

For this project you will either use a fine crochet hook (it has to fit through the hole in the bead) or the “Superfloss” method. I recommend the Superfloss method if you will be going to the beach (or anywhere actually) to knit, or if you have kids or cats around you when you knit.

I used leftover Malabrigo Sock yarn for this project, but any sock weight yarn will do. A fine cotton yarn (like a #10 crochet cotton) could work as well. Because you will measure it to fit your head the gauge isn’t critical on this one.

The stitches of this hairband will tend to pull together to create a dense looking fabric. However if you take the time to block it, you will get a pretty ladder-like lace pattern on either side of what looks like a braid (even though no cabling is required).

Here’s the pattern!

I hope you enjoy this pattern. Happy knitting!

More Knitted Buttonholes

Last week I gathered a number of videos together that demonstrate horizontal knitted buttonholes. There are other ways to make buttonholes in a knitted garment. Today I’ll touch on three more types:

  1. Yarn-Over (Eyelet) Buttonholes,
  2. Vertical Buttonholes and
  3. “Afterthought” Button Loops.

If you are making something that can use small buttons, like a baby sweater or a headband, you can actually use an eyelet as a buttonhole. These are technically called yarn-over buttonholes, but you often see them called eyelet buttonholes as well. In my Summer Hair Band #1 pattern from a number of weeks ago, the pattern is made up of staggered rows of eyelets and you actually use a row of those eyelets as buttonholes. These are very easy to make and work well for relatively small buttons.

Yarn-Over/Eyelet Buttonhole over 1 stitch (in stockinette stitch and 1×1 ribbing)

Yarn-Over Eyelet Buttonhole over 2 stitches (in 2×2 ribbing)

This is an excellent video. She explains and demonstrates how to avoid interrupting the knitted pattern very nicely in this video.

 

Next we have a demonstration of the vertical buttonhole. Vertical buttonholes are not the most stable, but they do look quite nice and discreet. They are not difficult, but they are a little more fussy to do. This is only because you have to use an additional piece of yarn and then weave in the ends afterward.

Vertical Buttonhole

 

Another way to add a buttonhole is to create a button loop after the garment is completed. The nice thing about this technique is that it doesn’t interrupt the knitting process as you go. This means that it doesn’t change any pattern you have knitted in. Also, you can actually put off deciding what size buttons you want to use until after the garment is complete.

Button Loop (or Afterthought Buttonhole) using 3 strands

 

The previous video shows the process of making a button loop close up and slowly. The next one shows you the entire process right to the end on an obvious garment. You can actually see how it looks in relation to the garment. The only thing I would add to these is that I would actually put the intended button through the loop before I commit to the size so I’m sure it will work for the button I want. If you haven’t chosen a button, I would say at least decide what size of button you want to use so that the proportion appeals to you.

 

Button Loop (Afterthought Buttonhole) using 2 strands

 

I hope that this selection of videos will be helpful to you. Most patterns will give you directions for the type of buttonhole that the designer intends. Having an overview of the different types of buttonholes possible can help to understand those directions a little easier. Also, if you find that you don’t like the style that a designer has proposed, you have the tools to be able to swap it out for one that you prefer.

It’s good to have options! 🙂

I want to add a little side-note about YouTube videos. I absolutely love the fact that so many people share their skills in this amazing and easily accessible format. I have the utmost respect for them, for their time and their skill and their willingness to share that. I share links to these videos with that in mind. When you find a YouTuber that explains and demonstrates things in a way that works well for you, I encourage you to subscribe to their channel. There are loads of fantastic videos out there.

Show your love and appreciation by liking, sharing and subscribing for these amazing and creative people.

Knitted Horizontal Buttonholes

Have you ever avoided a knitting pattern because it included buttonholes? I have to admit, I haven’t always been particularly proud of my knitted buttonholes. I decided it was time to do something about it. After a bunch of YouTube tutorials and some practice I’m feeling a lot better about it and I thought I would share my exploration with you.

There are a number of ways to knit buttonholes.

In today’s blog I will only talk about horizontal buttonholes. We’ll expand into other territory next week. Essentially, making this type of buttonhole requires that you cast off enough stitches to create a big enough hole for your button size and then cast them on again.

There are two basic approaches to knitting horizontal buttonholes:

  • the one-row
  • and the two-row.

The one-row buttonhole does this all in one procedure over (you guessed it) one row.

The biggest advantage to this is that you can check the size against your button right away.

If it doesn’t fit well, you don’t have to frog very much to change it. For the two-row buttonhole, you cast off, knit to the end of the row, return on the wrong side and then cast on to complete the buttonhole. Although there are really just two ways to do this, if you have ever done a search for horizontal buttonhole tutorials you will discover that there seems to be an endless list of them. Why?! Because there are a lot of different cast on methods that you can choose from to complete your buttonhole. Also, some methods reinforce the beginning and/or end of the buttonholes while others don’t.

I am a firm believer that every one of us needs to find their favourite way to do things.

I recommend that you knit up a swatch and give these various methods a try. Chances are you will find one that you love the look, construction and method for. I tried to sift through what I found on YouTube and organize a variety of them for you.

Simple two-row buttonhole (with backward loop cast on).

This is an easy and very straightforward buttonhole. I personally am not inspired by this one although it certainly does the job. I find that it doesn’t look the nicest compared to others and it has a tendency to stretch out. If you are really careful to keep the stitches snug at the beginning of it, that can help. It’s definitely nice and easy. 🙂

Find here

Simple two-row buttonhole (with cable cast on).

The cable cast on method gives a sturdier top edge to the buttonhole. This is easy to do and I have found that when I do it this way it doesn’t stretch out quite as easily as the previous one.

Find Here

Reinforced two-row buttonhole

This one does seem a little complicated when you first watch it. It’s worth giving it a go though. After you do it a couple times it starts to make more sense.

Find Here

My personal preference is to do a one-row buttonhole. Again, the differences are mainly in the type of cast on used.

One-row buttonhole (using twisted purl-wise cast on).

This is a great buttonhole for garter stitch or seed stitch. The twisted purl-wise cast on is a nice easy one to do; similar to the cable cast on and not very stretchy compared to the backward loop cast on, for instance. This disappears into the “ditch” of the garter stitch.

Find here

One row buttonhole (using crochet cast on).

This buttonhole looks really nice because the cast on creates a chain along the top that mirrors the cast off.

Find here

Reinforced one-row buttonhole. This one is very strong and it doesn’t stretch out. It also looks attractive. It does tend to pull in at the sides just a bit.

Find here

Tight One-row buttonhole

This is a pretty cool (and really easy) buttonhole. It makes a sturdy buttonhole that won’t stretch out. And because of that it’s great that you can test it immediately to be sure that the button will fit.

As I mentioned there are endless videos of buttonhole demonstrations. I’m sure there are many that I didn’t even get to. But this sampling should help if you want to explore a few. With any luck one of them will stand out and maybe even become your new favourite.

Happy knitting!

Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

I was born in British Columbia, Canada, to German immigrants. I can only imagine the courage it took for my parents to leave everything familiar, pack up what little they had at the time (and despite knowing very little English) take the long trip to this amazing place that I now call home. I’m glad they did.

I love Canada!

Anyone who has read a few of my blog posts will know that I love fibre arts. I love anything to do with fabric, thread, yarn. That love comes directly from a long line of fibre-loving women from whom I descended. You may not know that I love music just as much. This love of music was also passed down through a long line of music loving ancestors.

I am a

  • Classically trained singer,
  • Vocal teacher,
  • I’m a songwriter and

I play

  • piano,
  • guitar,
  • flute
  • and a bunch of other instruments

(though no where near well enough that I’d want anyone to hear those). My parents told me that I sang before I spoke. I remember being able to memorize songs after hearing them a mere 3 times as a child. (Those days are in the past).

On July 1st this year, Canada celebrates 150 years.

It got me thinking about the songs that I have associated with Canada Day since I was a child. I hope you can humour me as I take a Canadian trip through my musical memories and share them with you.

The first video link I want to share is a song called “Canada Is“. When I first learned this song in school, I was struck by how much there is to this country. It made me feel so proud to be Canadian. My teacher would laugh at me because I could never get through it without sobbing. I still get sentimental and proud when I hear this song and I still can’t get through it without crying.

This next video is a delightful spoof on the previous song as performed by the Muppets in Montreal back in 2012.

This next video link is to C-A-N-A-D-A. It wasn’t until my children were all grown up that I stumbled on the following Video sung by Raffi. If I had known he had recorded it I would have played it for my kids along with his other CD’s that we played endlessly!

And if Canada Is made me cry, you can only imagine what this next one did! I had no idea that there was an American version of this song until much later. When I heard it, I was convinced they had stolen our song. Of course, that’s silly. When I was 10 years old I learned the chords for this on my guitar and fully intended to sing it at a school Canada Day assembly. My teacher had me sing it to her before clearing me to be on the program; she gave me 3 tries and finally ruled that although the sobs of pride were endearing, I really did need to be able to sing it without crying. I wonder whether I could do it now? LOL

One of the things I love about the CBC is the Canada Vignettes video shorts that have been tucked between programs for as long as I can remember. One of my all time favourites (besides The Cat Came Back) is the Log Driver’s Waltz. There is just something so delightful about it that I just never get tired of it. Here is the link:

I could go on, but that would be straight-up self indulgence! I am deeply grateful to all those that came before me who made this country what it is.

To all the First Nations peoples and the countless immigrants who evolved this country into what it is today, I thank you.

I love my home in the Monashee mountains of British Columbia and I wouldn’t trade it for all the world.

To all my fellow Canadians: Happy Canada Day!

(Judy does a happy dance a la Kermit the Frog.)

And next week, we’ll get back to yarn-ie stuff again. 😀

Image by Harry Sandhu

Shifting Perspective

I doubt it matters where you live or who you are, life perpetually lays before us an unending series of challenges and responsibilities. It just is.

Life is life.

When it gets overwhelming it’s important to carve out time for the things that bring us peace, pleasure and a way to break from the pressures and responsibilities of life.

As owner operator of a small business in a small town, I talk to a lot of people. I consider it a privilege that my regular customers allow me a glimpse into their lives. What I have noticed is that without a doubt, we are all the same. Yeah, the flavours of our challenges vary a bit, but it’s the same for everyone. Life is an ebb and flow of experiences that range from delightful to dreadful with every conceivable piece of the spectrum in between. Life is life.

When I start to feel overwhelmed with my responsibilities and the challenges they present me it’s easy to feel like I’m alone in the struggle.

But I’m not.

That feeling of overwhelm is very real. It can undermine my capacity to function well. And we all face the same struggle, every day. Often what feels like a struggle to me pales next to the woman whose daughter is recovering from a brain injury and is not the girl she was before her accident. Wow! Sharing stories about our struggles can help us to let go of the pressure (if only for a little while) and to reset our perspective.

Since opening my business I have been striving to find a healthy balance in life. It’s really easy to let business take over and the needs of my customers become the most important thing in my life.

But that’s not healthy.

Years ago a woman told me that the work she did to earn money was just a way to earn money. She had no attachment or sentiment toward that work. It was simply the thing she did so that she had the money to live her life. She considered the time outside of her work hours to be her life. Part of me admired her detachment while another part of me tried to imagine whether I was capable of doing that… or would want to.

I think for me, the bottom line comes down to perspective. When the current perspective results in undue stress, resetting it is vital. There was a time when I believed that to show anyone my struggle was a sign of weakness. I have mostly been that little duck that seems serene from what you see above the surface of the lake, but whose legs are busy, paddling like mad to keep it all together. These days, the people closest to me recognize that life is life. We can be there for each other without the need to compete, judge or blame. And what a relief that is. It makes resetting perspective so much easier.

There was a time when sewing was the thing I did to break away. Now of course sewing is my livelihood. So at the end of a day of sewing for my customers, sewing doesn’t offer me what I need for myself.  These days, knitting is that thing that I carve out space for. It’s my oasis; my mental health break. I love the fact that it can be meditative, or challenging or fun or all of that. It can be a quiet personal retreat or it can be social.

One of the things I love about our “Social Saturdays Stitching Circles” is that it creates a regular scheduled time to sit and knit with other people; to talk about our lives; to share in an activity that brings us joy, peace, and a wonderful creative outlet; to break away from the usual routine and all those responsibilities.

It’s a time to make sure that my perspective matches my core values.

Most important it’s a weekly reminder for me that it’s the close relationships in my life that deserve top billing, always.

Who knew that knitting could be that powerful?