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Final Measurements

Hey Everyone!

While I was working on the first sock of my regal pair of socks, I had remembered something I had learned while working at the studio. 

This tip is: let the garment/item you are knitting shrink up before taking final measurements. 

I.E. the sock I am working on needs to be 5.25 inches from the heel flap to where I will start the toe. Once it measures 5.25 inches while knitting, I let it sit until the next day, then measure it again (it is typically a bit shorter than it was while I was working on it the day before), and then I knit up the remainder I need, before knitting the toe. I make sure it is the right length once it has shrunk to final size (as it is looser while knitting), before moving on. 

While I was working at the studio, we had to check the pieces against the final dimensions and against the other pieces of the same size to ensure consistency. 

Knitting, Knitting Essentials, Tips, Wool

Washing My Wool

Today, I spent the day washing the woolen accessories I have knit up. Today is the official first day of fall, and it certainly feels like fall. I decided to spend the day washing, and letting my woolen wears air dry. Many of which I have yet to wash since I made them. Over the past year I have learned why you should wash your woolen accessories. When they are new, and never been washed before they still have all the chemicals and waxes in them that they were produced with. Washing them gets the chemicals and waxes out. Chemicals are used to treat the wool for various reasons. Waxes are used especially on wool’s that are used for machine knitting so that the wool knits up, and holds up better when being used on a machine. The waxes help the wool’s slide through the carriage and over the needles so much easier. Some of the yarns I had used at my previous jobs were so full of waxes that within 20 minutes my hands were sticky from the waxes. We washed everything at the studio, which was where I really learned about how to wash wool. Through that experience I learned that once the garment has been washed, and much of the chemicals, and all the waxes and stuff are washed out, the garments are so much softer. I have found that with my own knit goods, once they have been washed the first time they are so much softer.

After the first time I wash my wool, I only wash them when they absolutely need it. Wools don’t need to be washed very often after the first time, and when they do, they need a very delicate hand wash, or the gentlest setting on an HE Washer that does not have an agitator. Agitation = one of the worst things you could do to wool. You will also want to use a wool wash when washing woolen items. I would recommend either Eucalan Wrapture which is made with Jasmine Oil and enriched with Natural Lanolin, though any of the Eucalan line of no rinse delicate washes would be fine (I am just familiar with the Wrapture line). I like the smell of the Jasmine oil, which is also a natural antiseptic (helping to get the chemicals and any germs and such out that you wouldn’t want on your skin) The Lanolin in the Wrapture wash also helps with adding some water resistance to your woolen items. I have also used The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo, this is what we used at the studio with the garments that we made.

I always lay my washed woolen items flat on old bath and beach towels on a hard surface like the floor. It usually takes them several hours to dry. I sometimes even will use two or three towels underneath each item so that there is more layers for the moisture to go.

I figured today would be a good day to wash my woolen wear, because it actually is feeling like fall, yet is warm enough to open out the house to get fresh air in, and help my garments dry. It is also to help air out the Wet Sheep smell. It honestly smells like a wet sheep in the living room, so I am hoping it gets aired out by tonight. Having the Wet Sheep smell with having washed wool is a given. I don’t mind the smell so much, but I don’t think the other people I live with want to come home to the smell of wet sheep. This time of year is perfect for opening up the house anyway. It is overcast and cooler, but not pouring down rain.

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Eucalan Wrapture
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The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo
Thursday Tips, Tips

Stitch Markers

Hey Everyone! 

Stitch Markers are a wonderful thing. They are small little rings that slide on your needle to mark when you need to switch what kind of stitch you are working on. There are a couple kinds of projects that I don’t really use them on, but for most things when I am working on a special pattern within whatever I am making I make full use of stitch markers. 

The two exceptions to my stitch marker rule are when the the pattern you are working on changes every time you work on the right side (like lace or the Saxon braid). On those you just really need to be paying attention. 

The other patterns I use, especially for sweaters I use stitch markers, because I an pretty much doing the same thing every time I get to the stitch markers. It makes life less complicated using stitch markers so I don’t have to count, and I don’t have to pay as close attention to what I am working on as I am one of those who can knit and not have to look at what I am working on at every moment. 

Knitting, Thursday Tips, Tips, Yarn

Gauging yarn in yardage

Hey Everyone!

My tip for this week, is when you are yarn shopping, make sure you also check the yardage you will need for a project against the yardage per skein of yarn to determine how many skeins you will need. It is better to have a bit of yarn left over than to not have enough. Weights per skein of yarn are a good general guideline, but the yardage you get per weight will vary between yarns.

I figured this out because I barely had any yarn left over from a 16 ounce skein of yarn when I made a size 8 knit for kids sweater, when the guidelines say 14 ounces makes an 8. Then I got looking at the yardage for that brand of yarn, versus what the guidelines say for how many yards you need for an 8, versus another brand that makes a 16 ounce skein of yarn. That is when I tuned in to the fact that the yarn I had used was thicker, so you get fewer yards to the ounce, verses a thinner (yet still 4 ply) yarn from a different brand. So in the future I will just have to remember that I cannot make a size 10 with just one skein of the thicker brand of yarn.

Yardage is also important and useful when you are working with a pattern that you can use different types of yarn with, and they give you how much yarn you will need in yards. Again, I would rather have a bit of yarn left over than run out, and need to scramble to try to find more yarn, and possibly not be able to find the same yarn I had bought, and then not be able to complete my project.

Knitting, Thursday Tips, Yarn

Blocking

Hey Everyone!

Today I wanted to talk a bit about Blocking, and how it applies to knitting projects. I have been knitting for years, but blocking is relatively new to me. I had never really had a need to block items I had made, until I started knitting lace items. Most of the items I have knit have been sweaters, hats, and baby blankets for kids in need using 100% acrylic yarn. The first lace scarf I had made, the pattern pointed out that it needed to be blocked after I had finished it, to spread out the knitting, and to make it lay flat, and to loosen up the YO’s (Yarn Over’s). I have also read that it is good to block wool items.

Lace definitely needs to be blocked, so that it will lay flat and to loosen up yarn overs, I have also found that blocking some wool items (especially that have stockinette edges) is a good idea, where as with others you can lay it flat to dry, (if you use a garter stitch edging especially), Blocking involves pinning the edges of garments down to towels or a blocking board, and there are blocking wires out there as well. I don’t have a blocking board or blocking wires. For as much blocking as I do, I have found that straight pins and old bath towels, and a flat surface work well if you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) invest in blocking wires and a blocking board. Pretty much everything I make that needs to be blocked are personal projects, which I don’t make less of than projects for kids in need.

Blocking is the process in which you shape a knit/crocheted item using water, and letting it dry. There are different methods to blocking. My usual method of blocking, is wet blocking by which the item is washed (according to the washing directions on the label), and then shaped, and tacked down to dry.

I blocked my most recent infinity scarf before I seamed (or sewed up) the two ends together. I blocked it mainly because of the pattern I used, and I wanted it to lay flat rather than rolling, as it was doing while I was knitting it. So I put it in the washing machine (yes I use the washing machine with wool), I put it on the gentlest setting (which is the hand wash setting on my machine), put it on a rinse cycle with cold water, and added a little bit of Euclan Wrapture wool wash before I pinned it to old bath towels to dry. If I didn’t have an HE washing machine without an agitator, I would hand wash anything I knit in the sink. I do not recommend putting wool or any hand knit item in a washing machine with an agitator.

I learned about washing wool and cashmere while working at my previous job, where we washed all of the items we knit, most of which were washed after linking, though a few were washed before linking. It was in part to wash the wax and chemicals that were applied to them to make them easier to use with a knitting machine off.

There are a lot of resources out there, videos, blogs and such with instructions on how to block your knit items. I will post a few of the resources below.

How to Block:

Knitty directions

Craftsy 

Vogue Knitting

Knitting, Thursday Tips

To The New Knitter

I know learning to knit is hard, and with learning anything new it takes time, practice and mistakes to get good at it. Take it from someone who has been knitting for almost 2/3 of their life, I am still learning new things all the time. Patience and perseverance will pay off.

I totally understand that it is hard to not compare yourself to someone else or to not get frustrated, as I have done so myself plenty of times.

I have learned that you have to keep trying and working on learning new things, and that some things are harder to learn than others. Some people also take to it quicker than others.

Knitting Essentials, Knitting Needles, Thursday Tips

Needles Stash

Hey everyone!

Today’s Thursday Tip post is going to be about the different size needles I have in my needle stash, and what sizes I recommend as the bare necessities.

This post is intended for someone who has mastered the basics of knit and purl, and is ready to move on to bigger and other projects.

In my stash I have at least one pair of straight needles in the following sizes: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11. I have multiple pairs of needles in size 5, size 7 and size 9. Size 7 and 9 needles are the two sizes I most commonly use and I have at least two sets of them. I have a long pair and a short pair of size 5 needles. I also have circular needles in size 5, 7, and 9. I like having a few circular needles for bigger projects so I have more room to spread out the project on the needles.

Once you have learned to knit, and are wanting to start working on expanding the size of needles you have, I recommend size 5, 7, and 9 followed by 6 and 8. I have 3, 4, 11, and a circular size 13 or 15 needles. I will occasionally use the size 3 and 4 needles if I am working with thinner year and want the stitches to be tighter. I will rarely (like a couple times a year at most) use the size 11 needles that I have, and I haven’t used the size 13 or 15 (see I can’t even remember what size they are) since I purchased them. If you are into using really thick or doubling up thicker yarns, or a really loose stitch than the bigger needles would be good, but with the projects I typically work on I don’t have much need for anything bigger than a 9.

I also prefer bamboo and wooden needles to the metal needles, and I detest plastic needles. With the bamboo and wooden needles, the yarn moves a lot easier for me, and I like how they feel in my hands. I can knit with the metal needles, but when I have the option I go for the wooden or bamboo. I detest plastic needles because the yarn catches, and doesn’t move up and down the needle on its own, and I have had to force whatever I am working on, one way or the other to work the garment.