Have you knit yourself a sweater? I have made a couple and I’ve had a few made for the shop in the last few months. It seems like the knitting community is making a turn towards sweater knitting. Oh there are still plenty of shawls to make.
Sweaters seem especially daunting because they are supposed to fit. And that adds a level of difficulty. How do we make sure that sweater is not too big nor too small, to make sure it’s just right.
First of all you need to take your measurements. And so gather your bestie and take each other’s measurements. Secondly, you need to get gauge. You MUST make a swatch. You have to. I know what you are saying. It wastes time and yarn and therefore wastes money. But if your gauge is off, then your sweater will not be the same size as the designer’s sweater and it will not fit. If you do these 2 things, you will have success!
Just one more thing about sweater knitting and really knitting in general, it’s OK to ask for help. I’ve had a sweater mentor and I also had a sock mentor. Someone who can walk with you step by step through the hard parts. Having mentors (thank you Ellen and Terry!) gave me added confidence to step into something new and to be successful. Go out and find a sweater pattern to make. Check out Corrine Walcher’s designs on Ravelry. She designs great cardigans!!
Are you going to buy some gifts today? Did you go out Thanksgiving night or Black Friday? I know it’s a thing in many families. They work together to figure out their routes. They time their shopping to get to Costco for the free food tastings. It is a full contact sport. I am not a shopper. Oh when I was a kid, we did have big shopping sprees. What we did was go on the day after Christmas to return gifts and get new items that we marked down really deeply. And it was a fun time with my mom and sister.
Since I was a kid, it was always a thing to make presents. I know if you have been reading my posts for a while you may have already heard about my handmade gifts. As a family, we would make candy and cookies for friends and family. We always made English Toffee for my grandpa, it was his favorite. As a pre-teen, I made potholders out of leftover fabric and I stuffed them with a piece or two of old towels. I made these for many years. It was my thing.
When I started to do more cooking, I wrote my own “cookbook”. It was a collection of salads, including all our family favorites, even Jello salads. I typed these up with carbon paper to make multiple copies at once. Oh the error fixing!! It was a horror. Things are so much easier today with spell checking computers and printers. The adults who received these cookbooks, were so kind and encouraging.
Over the years, I’ve made jewelry and scarves. I’ve made calendars that included all the family’s important dates. I’ve woven and beaded and dyed and printed. I’ve shared the things that are important to me with those that I loved. I hoped that they would appreciate and feel all the wonderful holiday feelings that went into making their presents.
So as we look to the next Christmas or Chanukah or even birthday, how about making or buying things that promote cozy, loving feelings. Buying something that makes a home cozy. Buying something that will enhance creativity, yours or for the person who will be getting the gift. Buy something that is made by a local artist or is from a local farm. This way your gift will be meaningful to you, your recipient and the makers.
In the next couple of weeks there are many opportunities to shop with small businesses. You can find some hand made gifts, even if it is too late for you to make them yourself. We are open this Sunday from 1:30-4:30. Or email for an appointment!
Disclaimer: I usually keep my political views to myself. This post is different. I feel the need to speak my truth. If you would rather not read this, that is okay too.
As I sit here this morning, I feel the full weight of the last week of tragedies upon my shoulders. What is going on? What has happened to our country? How could my country turn into such a dangerous place? It feels dangerous to state our preferences. It feels dangerous to be open to strangers. It has been getting more and more dangerous to go to school. And now it’s dangerous to go to our place of worship, although maybe that has been getting more and more dangerous over several years. One church locking the doors, so the gunman went to Walmart and shot people there instead. The worshipers in Pittsburgh had active shooter training, WHAT? I’ve had to lock-down training, but I would never have thought that a person practicing his or her faith would have to learn how to deal with an active shooter. And yet, here we are.
I am hoping to find more kindness. But is hope enough? Okay, I will put more kindness out into the world. It is small thing that I can do. I can hold the door open for the next person. I can greet people I pass on the street. I can let that car pass me or merge in front of me. I can slow down my pace. I can open my heart to people who are different than I.
And most importantly this year, I can go out and vote, well, actually I have. YAY! I can ask my representatives to be more kind, not just civil but kind. To look at their work as if the health and well being of THEIR families depended on it. And I am going to ask you to vote as well. I am not concerned with HOW you will vote, I just ask you to participate in our democracy. And to celebrate that, I am hosting a giveaway of a Raddiant Shawl kit. How do you enter to win? Well, first go out and vote, and then comment to let me know that you have voted on either my Instagram page or my Facebook page. I will randomly pick a winner to receive this kit. But most importantly, I think we will all win when more people participate in our civic duty of voting for our representation. So GO, VOTE, COMMENT, and WIN!
It all started with too many snow days in a row. I had this knitting book that I bought last summer and it’s been sitting on my shelf. I had opened it a couple of times but just looked so complicated that after flipping through page after page of beautiful hand knit tunics, hats, scarves and sweaters, it would go back to the shelf. Last Friday, I took it off the shelf. I armed myself with post-its, a highlighter and the desire to learn more about knitting. The book is Artful Color, Mindful Knits: The DEFINITIVE guide to working with Hand-Dyed Yarns but Laura Militzer Bryant.
Hand-dyeing is what I do. It is my passion. I love when the colors make a pattern similar to ikat weaving. I did have an understanding that the patterning was a result of the number of stitches, but I thought it was a fluke or serendipity. Well, it’s not. This book teaches you to understand the way a yarn has been dyed, whether it is dyed across like stripes on the skein or whether it has been dyed around where the skein is dipped into successive dye pots to achieve color. Of course there are many more techniques to get color on the skein but these two are the ones that produce the most noticeable patterning. Sometimes when you buy skeins the dyers have kept the skein as it was out of the pot. There it is easy to see the color transitions and to understand how it was dyed. However there are other dyers, myself included, who reskein the yarn to show the interactions of the colors.
Very simply, to determine the magic number of your yarn, you need to determine the repeat. Then you need to swatch. This will help you determine how much yarn you use in each stitch. Of course this number will change with needle size and yarn weight. You do a simple calculation to get your magic number on that yarn, with that stitch and those needles. A knitter can stack colors, make the colors zig-zag, or spiral with a few minor tweaks to the magic number.
Here is my yarn: it’s magic number is 73. This is our BFL DK yarn in Amsterdam Tulip colorway using a size 8 needle about 4.5 stitches per inch.
In the first experiment I used half magic number of 36.5 +1.5 for 38 stitches across. I used a fisherman rib (k1, p1). The result was different on each side and really striking. The fabric was a bit heavy though and I knew I wouldn’t be happy with it, so I ripped it out.
Then I decided to do a ribbed lace pattern with 8 rows of stockingette between the ribs. I used double the magic number + 2 and knit in the round. The pattern is a bit more mixed, however there is a spiral pattern going on in the colors. This cowl actually took 1.5 skeins about 300 yards. When you start your next skein, you need to match new yarn to the same place in the repeat, so that you don’t disrupt the pattern. This took me a bit of time but I was really pleased with the results.
Where to find us
Open June 16th 2:00-5:00pm
9/14-21 Black Sheep Yarn Shop in Timonium MD
We are at the following fiber shows:
June 1-2 Fiber Art Studio Tour here at the farm
August 10th Fibernate Fiber Farmer’s Market, Vienna, VA 1-5