08
Jan

Learn Something New with Yarndevu!

Written by Sarah. Posted in crochet, DIY, knits, technique

This week is all about skill building and I’ve got a new way for you to do it!

Basic RGB

I’ve taught so many people to knit over the past eleven years, I’ve lost count. Sometimes an old high school friend will tell me about a wonky scarf or their first hat that I helped them make and I can’t quite remember doing it. It really makes me happy, though, that those memories are so vivid for them. Teaching someone else to knit is a joy. (I don’t get gooey that often so you better believe I mean it!) And I don’t know any knitter that has not jumped at the chance to teach someone else.

So in that spirit, I want to share Yarndevu with you! Yarndevu is a new site that’s launching very soon in the New York area that’s all about skill-sharing in person. You can use it to learn or teach someone how to knit or crochet and the whole idea behind it is getting together, face-to-face. I love the online craft community (I mean, duh) but it’s really magical when we get together in person and, let’s face it, there’s no better way to learn. It’s hands-on and you can get immediate answers.

Yarndevu is great for anyone that’s googling “How to Knit” (Did you know “How to Crochet” and “How to Knit” were both in Google’s top 5 “How To” searches for 2014?) but it’s also fantastic for people that are looking to graduate to the next step in their craft education. I love the idea of pairing someone very experienced with a newbie! If you’re like me and you want to master a new aspect of the craft (I want to learn brioche this year), or you’re stuck where you are, it’s a great resource as well! Maybe you’re confused about how to turn a heel or you need help reading a colorwork chart. Or you’re a certain knitter that is interested in granny squares but maybe doesn’t know where to start. You can use Yarndevu to find someone that will help to guide you over a coffee.

I’m pretty excited about the launch! I’m really excited to see what I can learn and also teach using this new tool. But most importantly, I am looking forward to using Yarndevu to meet other crafters. You can sign up today and you’ll snag an invite to the launch party later this month. So, what do you want to learn?

ps. Don’t forget to vote for what I should learn next!

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06
Jan

What Should I Learn Next?

Written by Sarah. Posted in brioche, crochet, granny square, knits, poll, technique

While you might be under the impression that I am a Master Knitter (TM) that knows everything there is to know about everything, that is not the case. In actuality, I don’t know that much about anything but I can give you really good directions to the pedestrian crossing of the Williamsburg bridge (stay on South 6th for three blocks and turn left at Bedford) and I have a fairly extensive knowledge of Mad Men story arcs. I know  a thing or two about knitting as well. But there is still more to learn!

grannysquarebrioche

New year, new skill, right? I’m torn between two things that I really want to learn but I’m having trouble deciding which to tackle first. I’ve sworn I’d learn to crochet for the past two years. Maybe 2015 is actually going to be the time that I make my first granny square. I’ve also been dreaming of making a brioche scarf for a long time but I’ve been way to scared to try it.

So I need your help! Voting ends Friday 11:59pm EST! Help me pick!

granny square image via Meet Me at Mikes / two color brioche cowl via Purl Bee

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30
May

Kollabora: I-Cord Everything

Written by Sarah. Posted in accesories, knits, kollabora, technique

I’ve been trying to come up with some fast and fun knitting patterns that are light on the pattern side and heavier on the personal creativity end. Stuff that you can really customize without worrying too much about doing big adjustments. Something that I’ve been doing a little bit of experimenting with are i-cords. They’re quick and easy to knit but I feel like they can be used so many other ways than for drawstrings.

queen

Taking some inspiration from Janelle Monae, I started out with an i-cord bow tie. And I didn’t stop there.

Check out the endless i-cord possibilities (completely with tutorials) in this guest post for Kollabora!

03
May

Blocking Cotton

Written by Sarah. Posted in blocking, knits, lace, sweater, technique, WIP

I will admit that blocking has only recently become my favorite thing ever. I used to really hate it. I’ve mentioned that once or twice before. But it’s the best. THE BEST. When I finished knitting up the Poolside top, I was really excited to block it. The lace definitely needed a little relaxing and I was hoping that the stitches would lay a little bit neater.

Here’s the thing. I’m still not the biggest fan of cotton yarn. It was fun to try out a top in this fiber and the Blue Sky Alpacas really does cotton justice. It made me re-think the way that I feel about cotton. That being said, the stitches are VERY defined. It’s a nice, crisp look but it also highlights wonky parts were weaved in and where new skeins were joined. And basically if my tension varied at all, you could tell. So this guy needed a blocking.

Here’s a before shot. Don’t mind the dramatic shadows…

blocking cotton

 

It’s all pinned down but you can kind of see what I mean about the stitches being defined in the left sleeve. It’s not really meshing and smooshing together the way that wool does, the stitches just kind of sit next to each other telling all of the other stitches to bugger off.

Anyway, when I went to block this, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything properly. I think I’ve only made dishtowels out of cotton yarn and those really don’t need to be blocked. That just sounds silly. Anyway anyway, I turned to this helpful guide from Knitty. Remember, kids: Different fibers need to be treated differently! You can’t just dunk everything into a basin of warm water and Soak.

Cotton needs to be steamed. This is how I did it since my iron is a piece of crap and I don’t have a steamer.

blocking cotton 2

I took an old pillowcase and soaked it in the sink. I wrung it out a little and placed it over my sweater which was laid out on a blocking mat. (I pinned it down since I wanted the lace to stretch out a bit. Whether you pin your blocking is up to you and the way you want the fabric of your sweater to turn out. Think about that!)  Then I ironed it out and removed the pillowcase.

Another pro tip: Ask someone else to take a photo of you ironing. It’s really hard and probably dangerous to photograph and iron simultaneously.

blocking cotton 3

Ta da! That’s it! There’s what it looked like immediately after ironing. I tried it on after it dried for 24 hours. Cotton is tough. It doesn’t want to stretch out the way other natural fibers might but the neckline did kind of lose its shape. The lace, though, looks really beautiful in this color and fiber.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out and it’s always fun to try some new blocking techniques! More photos of the FO coming soon!

Have you ever blocked cotton yarn? Any tips?

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20
Mar

Fair Isle Almost FO

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, embroidery, FO, knits, sweater, technique

It’s been a long road but my fair isle sweater is pretty much finished. It feels like I’ve been working on this thing my whole life (since I started it while I was on my hurrication back in October), a lot of other pieces have been finished since I cast this thing on but it’s done.

Since I haven’t been able to take photos of the FO, I wanted to talk about the finishing of the garment and some of the cool details. One of the elements that really drew me in to this pattern were the embroidered parts on the front and back. I’ve never embroidered on a piece of knitting but I do like to do both things separately. The colorwork alone was full of little details but this part made it even more unique.

embroidered

 

The purple/grey flowers and pink hearts (which are up near the neckline) are knit by intarsia which is why the pieces are worked flat. (At least the front and back. I wish I’d worked the sleeves in the round but that’s life.) Then embroidery is added over them to make it pop. It was pretty fun. My French knots always throw me for a loop when I’m rusty but I finally got them to work.

It is mainly from exhaustion that my embroidery is messy. I really wanted this sweater to be finished and I was on the home stretch. (When I just had to seam and work the neckband I realized OH GOD I also had to do all of the embroidery details which added about four more hours of work.) I can be a perfectionist when the mood strikes me. I’m usually really particular about my knitting but I actually liked the folksy imperfections in the embroidery. It kind of has a home made Christmas sweater feeling which balances well with the anal colorwork sections. (All in all, I probably ripped out and re-knit about 7-10″ of colorwork in different parts of the sweater.) The pattern suggests a lot more embroidery. I did less because I’m a minimalist (read: I’m so over working on this sweater).

I can’t wait to show you more of this sweater. It’s definitely going to be my favorite thing to wear from now on.

Have you embroidered knitting?

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15
Mar

This is the Worst Part

Written by Sarah. Posted in faire isle, knits, sweater, technique, WIP

For today’s post. I’d like to take a moment of silence in honor of all of the knitters out there that we’ve lost to our most tragic epidemic in the community: Weaving in ends.

weaving

It’s happened to all of us at one point. Sometimes weaving in ends, you feel like you should just throw in the towel, call it quits, give up. If you know a knitter at risk, don’t be afraid to help.

Now I have to get back to weaving.

ps. I’m heading to Chicago next week! Any places I have to visit?

pps. Check out my fingerless mitts featured in this trend guide!

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04
Mar

WIP Storage

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, no clutter, technique, WIP, yarn

I may have mentioned before that my WIPs are a sad state of affairs when I’m not working on them. Generally I keep everything in a pile on the couch, shoved into the cushions so that I don’t lose odds and ends. I’ve been known to sit on three or four skeins of yarn while I work.

Here’s the gist:

wips

That’s four skeins of yarn, three swatches, a sleeve, and a cross stitch all on one couch cushion.

That was before the move. Since we’re in our fancy new apartment, I promised that I would keep things here under control. I don’t need to grow a crazy yarn monster. So I plan on getting some type of container for my needlework. But what shall I use?

Right now, I have my faire isle sweater in a tote bag that lives on the floor next to the couch. I can keep all of the yarn and the pattern in there. It’s a pretty slick deal. I’ve also been focused on accomplishing one pattern at a time which helps tame the mess.

It’s also handy that I have my stash nearby. In the old place, my stash was kept above our closets in this little storage nook where we kept boxes and things that we generally didn’t need to get into very often. It was about 6 or 7 feet high which meant that Jon would have to get on a ladder every time we needed something from up there. Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled about dragging out boxes of yarn so they stayed put. I started filling my nightstand and bedside table with bags of yarn. It was an unruly mess. Worst of all, it didn’t really encourage me to put excess yarn away after I was finished with it. Now all of my yarn is in a closet about five feet from my favorite knitting spot so I can put things away and (get this!) use yarn I already have in my stash with ease! It’s kind of changing my whole life.

I’ve been searching for a great vessel to keep my WIPs in. I have a yarn bowl but it isn’t really conducive for transportation or colorwork. I’m hoping for something big enough to hold a sweater but not too big as to condone couch-side yarn hoarding. Things that aren’t going to be worked on need to stay in the closet! I do plan on sewing some project bags but I want a box of some sort to live near the couch.

I think I’ve found my new WIP bin. It wasn’t what I was expecting (I was really looking for something with a lid) but I was browsing the Fringe Supply Co site and I kind of fell in love with these gorgeous baskets.

basket

What do you think? Perfect, right? A good size and really handsome. Our apartment has some nice wood pieces so the color will be great. And Jared Flood has them. I’m sold. I can’t wait to buy them and put them next to my spot and fill them with yarny things!

But this all gets me thinking: How do you lovely people store your WIPs from day to day? Do you have a couch full of yarn or are you super organized? (No judgements!) Baskets, bins, or bags?

ps. I made a playlist to craft by for Kollabora. Check it out here.

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19
Feb

FO: Great Divide Shawl

Written by Sarah. Posted in accesories, blocking, FO, knits, lace, life, photos, shawl, technique

Wow! I had such a productive long weekend! While most of it felt relaxing (because I was knitting), I got so much done (mostly in the knitting department…I also made cookies). One of the things that I finished was my Great Divide shawl. And I’m in love.

great divide

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really into wearing shawls. That is definitely going to change. It’s exactly what I need for chilly spring days. (Speaking of, it was way more than chilly while taking these photos. Oh my god was I freezing. Can you tell?) I’m psyched that I had these colors in my stash. I’m one happy camper.

I’ve recently discovered that I totally love blocking. I used to really hate it (I might’ve mentioned it here). In an effort to change my ways, I’ve had a tub for blocking for a while now and I bought some proper wool soap (though I’ve used Doctor Bronner’s – which my aunt Sherry said she used to use on embroideries, thanks for the tip! – the past couple of times since my wool wash was packed away and I’ve enjoyed the results!). I guess having some space in the new apartment to lay out the pieces without being totally in the way is encouraging. The blocking kit my mom got me helps too, though I’ve had that for a long time, too.

great divide 2

 

Although this wasn’t lace per se, this piece really needed a good blocking and everything opened up beautifully! I’m totally learning the merits of blocking my knits and I don’t hesitate to do it any longer!

I’m very excited about this shawl! It looks like I’m still growing as a knitter! Knitting shawls and blocking things! What a change! Maybe I’ve been replaced with an alien or a robot? I like cleaning the kitchen now, too. I’m definitely sick, guys.

Brb, going to check WebMD.

How do you feel about blocking? What’s something you made that surprised you?

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26
Nov

WIP: Faire Isle Sweater Frustrations

Written by Sarah. Posted in faire isle, holiday, knits, life, sweater, technique, WIP

How was your Thanksgiving? Jon and I cooked dinner for our family (with help from my mom and Aunt Sherry!) and his first turkey turned out fantastically! It was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and I was so pleased to be able to do something small for my family who has done so much for me.

After Jon and I spent all day working on turkey and mashed potatoes and other yummy awesome Thanksgiving goodies, he and my parents fell asleep on respective couches and I sat down to work on the back of my faire isle sweater as a little treat to myself for keeping my energy up all day and also because I was having a dessert/tea sugar/caffeine buzz. I guess the buzz was insufficient because I ended up casting on 120 stitches instead of 130. I counted it at least five times before I started knitting. But about three inches in I realized that I was missing an inch of width.

So I ripped that whole piece out. It was only about a day’s worth of work but I was pleased with how it looked. It’s always disheartening to frog a good chunk of knitting. And it’s embarrassing when you find yourself cursing the pattern when really you’re the one that can’t count. That’s about where I am with the progress on this sweater now. I always kick myself because I post photos of the beginnings of things and the FOs but it’s tough to show the middle part without looking like a pile of stitches.

RIP

In my fit of frogging, I began to worry that the sweater will turn out too tight. As I mentioned before, the difference between all of the sizes is 4 1/2″which left me with a difficult choice, somewhere between fairly snug and possibly awkwardly large. (I’m really trying to hold back in the oversized comfy sweater department. I love them but I should really be wearing proper outfits now and then.) I’ve started kicking myself that I should have been using size 4 needles instead of size 3s to give myself a little extra breathing room. With both sleeves finished, I am going to continue crossing my fingers that a good blocking and some good old-fashioned wear will make everything just right. I do hope it turns out. I like to think that I’m a process knitter but I’ve been really looking forward to styling this sweater.

Anyway, stick around this space because there will be some fun gift guides coming up soon!

Any crafting catastrophes recently? What holiday crafting are you doing? What do you want for the holidays?

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29
Oct

Sandy Knit-a-Long

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, knits, life, new york city, photos, style, sweater, technique, WIP, yarn

Hello, East coast! Are you having a hurrication day? Pretty much everything in the city is shut down since the trains and buses aren’t running. I hope you’re all stocked up on snacks and beer!

Anyone up for a Hurricane Sandy Knit-a-long?

When I found out last night that my office would be closed today, I took the chance to cast on the swatch for this Debbie Bliss faire isle sweater I’ve had my eye on for a while. I’m obsessed.

The pattern is from Debbie Bliss Magazine’s Fall/Winter 2012 issue. I’m using St Denis Boreale yarn which is some super soft American Wool. The MC is this great gunmetal grey Pewter colorway, CCs are Champagne, Spicy Rose, Gray Card, and Blue Eggshell. Sadly, the St Denis lines are being discontinued. The yarn is gorgeous and I’m disappointed I discovered it too late. Also, I might be stocking up and hoarding whatever I can find especially since it is on sale until the stock runs out.

I’ve since cast on for the first sleeve. I love the way these colors look. I’ve been dying to make a faire isle sweater with some neutrals mixed with neon. That Spicy Rose is absolutely perfectly bright. So much fun. I’ve decided to use only size 3s (the pattern calls for 3mm and 3.5mm needles) and I hope that works out.

I’m having a few issues with the pattern. I think I’m reading it properly but I’ve caught a few wonky spots. I may need to consult with some other knitters. And there’s no Rav page for the pattern yet. Eek! Anyway, I’m working through that. Still a big fan.

I’m not sure right now if I should be carrying the CC up the sides or cutting and rejoining. I’m leaning towards (especially on the advice from  a few friends) carrying them very loosely. I’ll do anything to avoid weaving in ends. What would you do?

More updates when there’s some nice light for photographs! Until then, follow me on Twitter and Instagram for pics of my #sandykal.

Are you knitting the hurricane away? What are you making? Are you prepared for the storm?

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