And the Tour Begins

It’s that time again. “What time?” you ask. “Canada Day?” Well, yeah, that too. But that wasn’t what I meant.

It is time for TOUR DE SOCK!

(Judy’s doing a happy dance à la Kermit the Frog, complete with sound effects). I had so much fun with the tour last year that I signed up once again as a member of Team Sock Minions. We have a new local knitter on our team as well this year. (If you don’t know about the Tour, I did a write up about it around this time last year. Here’s a link to get you there: )

I diligently finished up some projects to get them off my needles before the competition begins. Although, I admit that I left a few for “tweeners”. And I started another knit-along with my daughters. It’s just a Whoopsie shawl though; super easy. My warm up socks, Miriam by Eeva Kesäkuu, have been knit, photographed and shared. Here they are:

Now I’m just planning out my work load in the store so that when the first competition pattern drops at 10 a.m. on July 7th, I will be ready to rock and roll!

The specifications have been released and I’m on the hunt for an exciting yarn to start the competition with.

The specs for the first sock say we should go crazy with colour. I’ve pulled a few different yarns I would like to choose from. Here’s a photo of the ones I like. I will probably wait until the pattern drops before I actually choose, even if it means I have to wind the yarn before I can start.

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I have recently met a few travelers who came looking for yarn for TDS in my shop.

I even printed out the TDS shopping list for one. She wanted to be sure she would be ready no matter where she would be traveling or what pattern they gave us. It’s been fun meeting other competitors in person. What a great way to make new friends!

What with the long weekend (Canada Day, as mentioned above), the store will be closed an extra day.

That will give me a chance to get ahead on my sewing for my customers and open up a little knitting time.

Hey, I have my priorities, okay? I can do that and still attend the Canada Day parade… and make sure I get a nice big hamburger and a refreshing beverage in my belly too. And bacon…. there will be bacon… possibly during the fireworks. It will be RADIANT!

Happy knitting!

 

 

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Spring Cardigan Fever

This was a very snowy winter for us. On April 30th there was still a remnant of the once huge snow pile in our parking lot. By the end of May 1st the last of that snow was finally gone.

I officially turned off the furnace; that makes it cardigan season!

Since completing my  “Chance of Showers” cardigan this season, I have been on the lookout for another cardigan pattern to dive into. I want something that fits close to my body, is short waisted, interesting without being an obnoxious amount of fussy work, 3/4 sleeves, open necked, knitted all in one, and buttoned up. Oh and I want it to look like it has set-in sleeves. Hmmm that’s a lot of parameters, isn’t it?

My search has taken me down that rabbit hole called Pinterest. So many beautiful cardigan photos are posted there! But you know what? I’ll find what I think is the most glorious cardigan ever, click on it, and find that it either goes to some foreign site in a language I can’t read or it terminates in a photo and no way of finding the pattern. I have to say it: “This makes me very sad!” I finally gave up on Pinterest and started looking on Ravelry instead.

In my searching I found something very cool.

I love to knit but I hate having to sew pieces together once the knitting is done. I will do it because I actually really want to wear what I make. So I’ve been on the look out for patterns that allow you to make your garment all in one piece. I like the look of a set in sleeve and I always thought there must be a way to mimic that look yet not have seams. I often thought about sussing out how that could actually work. But I never really had the time to commit to experimenting with it. I’m happy to say that someone else had the same thought; and they did take the time to figure out how to do it. Susie Myers has named it contiguous knitting. It’s worth checking out. There is a group on Ravelry devoted to this method. Find it here!

An explanation of how it works is found here

Susie Meyers has a link to her “recipe” for building a sweater in this way. Here is the link.

I read through it and realized quickly that simply following the recipe will require some trial and error. Unfortunately, my life is so full that I don’t see myself having the patience or time to put into that trial and error process. However, then I noticed that there is a long list of patterns that use Susie’s technique in their construction. Here is a link to that list.

I figure that for the first time I try this, I will buy a pattern and follow it so that I get a feeling for how it works.

After that, I’ll take what I learned and perhaps try winging one. I looked at all the patterns in the list. (There were a couple that don’t actually count as contiguous. I suspect that those will be culled as they are discovered by the moderator.) There are some lovely patterns there. Two in particular caught my eye and fit my parameters quite nicely. There were a couple more that looked promising too. Most of these patterns are for sale, and not free. I don’t mind paying for patterns. There is a lot of work in putting them together. The designers will never get rich off the few dollars we pay them per pattern! I like to support their creativity so they’ll continue to make more patterns for us all. Here are the links to the ones that I am considering knitting:

Alecia Beth

I absolutely LOVE this pattern. It looks feminine and fancy without being so fancy I wouldn’t want to wear it every day. Fingering weight yarn makes such a nice cardigan especially for spring. My only hesitation is that it is fingering weight yarn and that’s quite a commitment.

Alecia Beth

© gosik, © gosik, by jettshin  Flickr

Hermine

I love that this next sweater is mostly stockinette stitch, but it has a little bit of pattern to keep it from being boring. It’s also out of fingering weight yarn which makes it ideal for a spring sweater since it won’t be terribly heavy. But again… that is a lot of stitches. Do I have the courage and tenacity to make a 4 ply sweater? That’s the question.

Hermine

© attimania, © attimania, © Quietsch

 

Ciel, Une Fille!

This next one is a free pattern. It’s very pretty. I would probably choose something a little less fluffy than what they did but I love the look of it. It’s adorable! I think I would simply shorten the sleeves to a 3/4. It calls for worsted weight, so I see that as being very achievable in spite of my busy schedule. The pattern itself doesn’t have any photos on it, but there are photos on Ravelry that you can refer to.

Ciel, une fille!

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© tatacharlotte

 

Seelie Cardi

This one is a free download. I really like the look of the photo. I have to say, my first thought was that one of my sisters would rock this sweater as is. I downloaded it and lo and behold! It is a tutorial that guides you through making a contiguous sweater out of any yarn. Interesting… this would be an option.

Seelie Cardi

© britt schmiesing

 

So now, it’s all about making a decision. Not that I don’t have other knitting on the go. I actually have 3 pairs of socks on needles right now, and a shawl and a ball of yarn divided for yet another pair of socks waiting to be cast on. Must be the spring sunshine bringing out the “Startitis” in me. Well, that and the fact that my current cardigans are just a teenie bit too warm now and I’m putting them on and taking them off all day long to stay comfy. I definitely need a spring cardigan… Eenie, Meenie, Miney Moe?

Wish me luck! Happy Knitting!

Raglan, Anyone?

Most of my knitting buddies will agree.

We love to knit, but we hate having to sew the pieces of our knitted garments together when we’re done.

Even people like me, who sew a lot, usually don’t like to assemble a sweater once it has been knit. A raglan sweater (whether a pull-over or a cardigan) is knitted from the collar down and incorporates a yoke that allows the sleeves to be knit directly onto the body of the sweater. The sleeves and the body (in the case of a pull-over) can be knit in the round thus completely eliminating the need for assembly once it has been knit.

Now that is my kind of sweater: No seams!

The first time knitting a raglan sweater can be rather confusing. It’s not uncommon for designers to make assumptions about what you know. If you are inexperienced, that can undermine your enthusiasm and ultimately your desire to ever make another sweater.

I love beginners. I love watching people experience the process of discovery. Last year I posted a bunch of beginner knitting patterns. I wanted to step it up a bit from the dishcloths. It’s been ages since I posted a pattern and I figured it was high time.

So today I have a pattern for you.

It’s a miniature raglan sweater designed to fit “My Life” dolls.

Small enough that you can finish it in a few evenings, big enough that you can easily get a good understanding of the process of making a raglan sweater. I put a lot of energy into making the pattern as simple as possible to follow… with the beginner in mind. I hope that once you have done this project that it will inspire you to try making a full size raglan project. (Of course, there is no obligation!)

I did my best to explain how the construction works.

I also included a chart that you can follow so you can see, row by row, where the increases happen. It gives a clear visual of how many stitches are in each section. At first glance, you might think that I have been charged with the task of increasing stitch marker sales across the nation. But, trust me. A well placed stitch marker is your friend! I tried to include some helpful photographs as well.

It’s confession time: I did not have anyone else test this pattern. I checked it over, and over, and over and I’m confident that I caught everything. However, I am just a human. So, if you try it out and you have any trouble with it whatsoever, please drop me a message and I will help you. If there is an error, I will correct it and post the amended pattern.

I’m quite pleased with the result. I hope you have fun with it. And I hope that some lucky child will be getting a new sweater for their doll very soon.

Happy Knitting!

Here is the Pattern!

The Ravelry 2018 Challenge

And the decision has been made…

I have officially signed up for the Ravelry 2018 Challenge. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. But I picked a modest number of 20 knitting projects to finish this year for now. We’ll see how it goes. I may add a few more if it goes well.

I have seven projects queued up, four of which are started, including the cardigan I was talking about a couple weeks ago, two shawls, (both the same pattern but completely different yarns) and a pair of Legolas socks for my son. Two of those are Knit-alongs. I know that I want to try my hand at doing some Scandinavian mittens this year and there are a couple of beautiful cowls I am deciding between. There are two sock patterns that I want to make for myself that I’ve had in my library for over a year that I’d love to actually make. I plan to participate in Tour-de-Sock this summer and that should give me another half a dozen projects or so.

If I do complete 20 projects, that’s a little over 2-1/2 weeks per project over 52 weeks. That should be doable, even with my full schedule. It’s funny how my first thought was that I really ought to do more. Good grief! I think I’ll stick with 20. LOL

Here are photos of my started projects as they sit today. Darn! See, now I have to finish them! Oh NO! LOL 😀 I’m feeling the whole, Love-Hate thing starting already.

Reyna

The shawls are both Reyna. I’m doing one with fingering weight Malabrigo Sock yarn. The other is with Comfort Wolle Gala yarn on 8mm needles; it’s a knit-along. Same pattern but completely different outcome. I’m excited to see them both finished.
Find the pattern here

 

Legolas

The socks are Legolas from Fellowship of the Socks.
Find the pattern here

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Chance of Showers

The cardigan is Chance of Showers; it’s my other knit-along. I modified it to have a long fitted sleeve with a longer lace panel than the pattern offers. The sleeves are done and I’m ready to start the body of the sweater now.
Find the pattern here

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So how about you? Are you up to the Ravelry 2018 Challenge? Do you want to join me?

Resolution or Challenge?

When I was deciding what I should write about (that isn’t anything to do with New Year’s Resolutions) I got distracted and logged in to Ravelry.com. They’ve come up with a bit of a twist on that theme. They are hosting a 2018 Ravelry Project Challenge. That made me think.

I’ve never been particularly keen to jump on the New Year’s Resolution band wagon. Is there such a thing as a Resolution Scrooge? If so, I might just be it. It always seemed rather contrived to me. I get the whole, “fresh year, fresh start” idea. Maybe the reason I don’t get excited about it is that I don’t need one more thing added to my to-do list?

I like Ravelry’s idea for their Project Challenge though. Years ago I bought one of those self-help cassette tape sets off a late night infomercial. Surprisingly, it was one of the most valuable purchases I ever made. I learned a lot from listening to those tapes. 🙂 One of the tenets of that particular system was that

if you want to create change in your life, you have to put yourself at stake.

The way they explained it was that if there wasn’t some form of accountability for this goal you had set, there is nothing to keep you honest about sticking to it. If nothing is holding you at stake, it’s easy to bail… and fail. So they said,

“tell people that you have set this goal; invite them to ask you about it regularly.”

The idea is that having a bunch of folks checking in on you will help motivate you to hang in there when you want to give up.

I have employed this method ever since I learned about it. And it has worked very well for me. This is what Ravelry is doing by creating a platform to announce your project for the year to a whole lot of people and a place to show your progress as you go. The more I think about it, the more I like it. I’m on the fence as to whether I’m going to participate in this challenge, specifically.

It’s funny how life works. Being a New Year’s Resolution Scrooge didn’t stop me from inadvertently doing a New Year’s Challenge. (In spite of myself?). On New Year’s Day, I met with my knitting buddy to hang out and knit and catch up on our holiday stories. We are both avid sock knitters and this normally would have been a perfect day to start a new pair of socks. But nope, not this time. She suggested that we do a knit-along… and that it NOT be socks. What?! Not SOCKS?! LOL But, you know what, I was excited about the idea. She insisted that I choose the type of garment. I had been dreaming of knitting myself a cardigan for a couple years so I suggested that we knit a cardigan. Wouldn’t you know, she had a couple cardigan patterns in her queue. We chose a pattern called “Chance of Showers”. It took a minute or two to purchase and download the pattern, pick out some yarn and next thing I knew I was casting on my cardigan. How did that happen? LOL

Here it is, the 11th of January and I’m well into my knitting challenge. I didn’t even know that Ravelry was going to do a project challenge. I will be adapting the pattern a little. I don’t like short sleeves on a sweater because I like to have the option of them being long or shoving them up to my elbow if I’m too warm. So I’m lengthening the sleeves. Other than that, I’m sticking to the pattern. Well, I’m knitting both sleeves in tandem so I can be sure that I get them exactly the same… but other than that, I’m sticking to the pattern.

And you know what? I’m actually really excited about it. I have to be honest, it’s my first knit-along. My knitting buddy and I have a healthy level of competition, and although I’m no slouch, she’s definitely a faster knitter than I am. So there’s my way of keeping myself on track with it. We haven’t seen each other since the day we cast these sweaters on (hers is purple, mine is green). I suspect we’ll compare notes this Social Saturday.

Maybe I will document my progress on Ravelry… we shall see.

Happy knitting!

 

 

Sewing Mitered Corners

Mitered corners look tidy and fancy. Most things we see (tea towels, table cloths, place mats and so on) have quickly finished edges. Many of them are simply a twice-turned (sometimes called “rolled”) hem, or a serged edge that has been turned and stitched. I call this a “serge and turn” if you can still see the serged stitches and a “serge and roll” if you can’t. If you are looking for a way to take a simple project up a notch.

Try making it with a wide hem with mitered corners.

Before I get started, I want to acknowledge that this may end up looking like a whole lot of words. Please take the time to read and then compare to the photos. This process is a wee bit counter-intuitive. I have sincerely tried to be as clear as I know how to be.

First off, you need to plan your project accordingly. I like to allow 1.25 inches for my hem when doing a mitered corner. This gives me a quarter inch to tuck under and one inch of fabric that shows off the miter. So I will add 2.5 inches to my desired finished width and length. For instance, if I want my table runner to be 12″ x 18″ when finished, I would cut out my fabric to measure 14.5″ x 20.5″.

Tips:

Experienced sewers may be able to eyeball a quarter inch edge.

If you can do that, all the power to you! If you don’t think you would be able to do that evenly, or it would take you a long time to do so, I have a couple tips for you: If you have a serger, you can serge around the outside edge of the fabric. This gives you a quarter inch seam allowance that you can easily see and turn under. I encourage you to choose a thread colour that blends in with your fabric. This will hide any imperfections when you tuck the edge under and stitch it in place. If you don’t have a serger, you can run a row of stitching a quarter inch from the edge as a guide for turning your seam allowance. Use a thread colour that looks good with your fabric, that you can see, but that won’t look ugly if it shows a little after you are done. Both of these tips are optional, but they will make doing the corners much easier. There are presser feet that are designed to align a quarter inch from the edge of the fabric. If you don’t have one, they are a handy addition to your tool box.

You will need to mark your fabric in some way.

You will be marking on the right side of the fabric. You can use dressmaker’s chalk, a Pilot Frixion pen or other fabric marking pen.  If using a pen, please, please, PLEASE take the time to test it on your fabric before you use it. Frixion pens react to heat and marks should disappear when you press your project. But, I have had a few times when it didn’t completely disappear. I’m not sure whether it is an issue of fibre content or ink colour that causes this. Some fabric marking pens are water soluble and the ink washes away. I don’t have a lot of personal experience using the water soluble pens; both Dritz and Prym make these. I have many customers who swear by them. I usually use DM chalk or Frixion pens.

Marking the outer turn line:

Measure and mark your turn line 1.25 inches from each of your edges respectively. Do this on the right side of the fabric. You will end up with squares drawn on each corner.

Marking for the mitered corners:

Turn your fabric so you can work on the wrong side now. What you need here, is to mark the corners to prepare for the miters. If you have a grid ruler* use it to mark the 1.25″ lines at the corners; measure from the outer edge the way you did on the last step. Notice on my photograph that I marked the 1.25″ turn line about 2″ further than the corners of the squares. This is important. (*I highly recommend having at least a 4″x4″ grid ruler in your tool box. A 3″x18″ and a 6″x24″ are the other sizes I couldn’t live without. Olfa, Omnigrid and Fiskars all make very good grid rulers.)

Next, mark another set of lines 1 inch in from the lines you just made. Notice that this has created two more squares beside the corner square? These are important.

If you didn’t serge the edge, or stitch a quarter inch guideline, then take the time to mark where that quarter inch edge is now. You will thank me later.

Take a moment to notice what you have created. You should have 4 one inch squares drawn in the corner, with a quarter inch edge at the edge of the fabric. Think of that edge as being separate from your squares.

Now using a ruler (do not eyeball this) draw a line. Start at the point where the square meets the outer line at the edge of the fabric (2.25″ from the corner) through both squares and end at the outer line. You did not mark in the outer quarter inch. This creates a triangle with the corner of the fabric; it should bisect two squares. Your line should go through the point where the four squares meet in the middle. This is very important. This is your stitching line.

tablerunner-07

If you are doing this for the first time, I recommend that you just mark one corner to begin with. Once you have sewn it and you understand what it is you have to do, then mark the other three. That way, if you misunderstood the instructions on the first one, you don’t have to undo anything before you can proceed.

Creating the Mitre:

Fold your fabric at the corner with right sides together. You are creating a triangle here. You will be able to see your corner markings. Be careful to align all the edges accurately. You may find it helpful to pin the edges in place so they don’t shift while you are working. Line your work up so that the quarter inch edge is toward the back of the presser foot. Align the needle and presser foot with your stitching line. Your needle should be placed at the point where the stitching line meets the quarter inch seam allowance. DO NOT SEW OVER THE SEAM ALLOWANCE.

Secure the stitching by back tacking (sew forward and back a couple times) and stitch to the end of the stitching line. Secure the stitching again.

Trim the extra fabric away. Looking at the raw edge that you just trimmed, one end is the original edge of the fabric, the other is where the fabric was folded. Clip the fold from the edge to the stitching line.

Turn the corner right side out. Don’t press it yet because that would erase your markings. Use your finger or a point turner (another tool I couldn’t live without) arrange the seam allowance open. In other words, you want there to be seam allowance laying on both sides of the seam you created, inside the corner.

Once you have all four corners mitered, carefully line them up with the markings so they lay nice and flat. Press the corners. I recommend that you now press along the turn line all the way around the project. Take your time with this so that you get a nice smooth edge. If you chose a loose fabric, you should probably pin that edge in place at this point. Now you can easily turn that quarter inch edge under and top stitch as close to the edge as you can manage.

Ta-Dah! You just made a mitered table mat. Congratulations!

Reflecting on Tour-de-Sock

Tour-de-Sock is coming to a close for 2017.

What an experience it was for me. For anyone unfamiliar, TDS is a sock knitting competition and fundraiser. Money raised by the competition is donated to Doctors without Borders.

The competition is made up of 5 stages. (This year there was a warm up round as well). In each stage a sock pattern is made available at a specific time (announced in advance) for all the competitors to access. Racers from all over the world then download the sock pattern and following strict guidelines knit each pattern respectively. Photos of the completed pair of socks are then submitted. The photos must clearly show the front and back and size of the socks and both socks. This way moderators can inspect them to be sure that everyone followed the instructions and did the work expected to qualify for that stage of the competition and to make it fair to everyone.

My friend and fellow sock knitter invited me to join her team.

I’m so glad she did!

The anticipation was fantastic. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. With each stage of the competition there was tremendous excitement leading up to the pattern drop. The discussion boards were busy with chatter as the competitors tried to guess what the next round would bring. We were given advance notice of what materials we would need for the next round. Many people were traveling while in the competition so they would have to be sure they brought what they would need along.

I’m glad that I wasn’t traveling.

As each pattern dropped, I generally found that I didn’t actually want to use the yarn I had originally picked out based on the specs provided. I really needed to see the pattern first.

I discovered that Finns are incredibly fast knitters!

Round after round, the early finishers were “Finnishers”. In some rounds the first socks were already posted in less than 24 hours from when the pattern dropped. I realized right away that there was no way I was going to be able to out-knit them. I wanted to push myself and see what I could do though. I really hoped I could manage to finish at least one pair in the top 100 finishers. All things considered. I think I did pretty well. There were around 1700 competitors.

  • In stage 1 I finished at #180;
  • stage 2 at #105;
  • stage 3 at #205;
  • stage 4 at #172 and
  • stage 5 at #74 (HURRAH).

After starting on stage 6, which employed a jacquard colour stranding technique and 4 colours of yarn, it took me a little more than 10 hours to knit just one cuff. I was not in love with the pattern. I decided to throw in the towel on that round. Besides just thinking about the number of hours it would take, I had a lot of new sewing work come in the store and I really needed to put my full attention back on work.

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In every round I learned a new skill.

I ended up with 6 completed pairs of socks. The patterns I knitted were not necessarily patterns I would have ever chosen to knit. Yet I thoroughly enjoyed making them. I discovered that I love doing stranded colourwork. Well, I love knitting with 2 colours. Using 4 colours (stage 6) was just a bit more awkward than I wanted to navigate. I fell in love with some designers that I didn’t know about before. I really pushed myself and I feel proud of what I accomplished.

I can only imagine the huge amount of work involved in administrating a competition like TDS. My hat’s off to all the people who poured their free time, their passion, their skills and their talents into making TDS happen. My life is richer for participating.

I can hardly wait for it to start next year; sign me up!