I don’t think there are many of us that use the yarn called for in a pattern whether it is for machine knitting, hand knitting or crochet. So when using an alternative yarn do you ever cut it a bit fine and only have a few metres left or run out of yarn before getting to the end? I know I’ve played “yarn chicken” more than a few times!
I can remember, many years ago, standing in the local wool shop (when there were such things in almost every town!) waiting whilst the assistant patiently helped a customer choose yarn for a pattern and then refer to a folder on the counter. The information in the folder told her how many yards there were in the chosen balls of yarn and the recommended yarn and from that the assistant was able to work out how many balls were required for the pattern. (yes—even then the length of yarn in a ball varied despite it all being the same ply!)
We can still do that today except it would probably be in metres and grams rather than yards and ounces. Most suppliers and manufacturers give this information on their websites so you should be able to find the relevant information on-line if it isn’t printed on the ball band or cone.
As an example, I have a number of balls of sock yarn waiting to be knitted up. You probably can’t read the small print on these four ball bands so the top one is 100g/460m, left is 100g/270m, right is 100g/420m and bottom 50g/210m.
So you know how many yards/metres (length) to each ball of yarn and how many balls of yarn the pattern says you need. Multiply the length per ball by the number of balls to give you the total length of yarn you need. Now divide the total length by the length of each ball of substitute yarn. The answer is the number of balls of yarn you’ll need. Don’t be tempted to round down even if it is only a little over. You’ll need some for your tension swatch and to sew the garment together. I refer here of course to balls, but it could be cones, skeins, donuts or cakes.
If you are substituting yarn remember that the drape, stretch and look of a garment will be affected by the composition of the yarn, so substituting a cotton yarn for a wool or acrylic yarn will not only give an entirely different number of balls, but also different look to your garment. Want to know more about yarns lengths and plys? The Knitting Wool Store and Laughing Hens may be of help. As usual have a look round these UK sites. Similar US sites are on the web too so if you do visit one don’t forget you’ll need to do a bit of term and size conversion.
Some of you like to knit from vintage patterns, but the yarns will have long been discontinued. And the information in the pattern gave a yarn name rather than a ply. The website Vintage Knits might be of help to you. The link is to the Patons page so scroll down to the bottom to find a link to the home page where you can find free patterns and other interesting pages.
If this doesn’t exactly make sense to you then visit Knitting Brain and Sister Mountain to find what is probably a better explanation.
Have you tried knitting from a visual pattern? That’s how Anne Lavene writes her patterns and they are really unusual but also easy to follow and work from. I took along a copy of her free pattern when I was knitting at a show. Visitors who had never or have rarely seen a knitting machine were fascinated that I could knit a summer top in a day. (At home it would have been even quicker!) It’s a great introduction to her patterns which can be purchased through her website. There are tutorials there too to help you. (The yarn by the way is Grigna and it took less than a cone. Cream edges are crocheted in a different yarn. I think it was two strands of Silky, but not sure.)
Marianne Henio is also a designer who has been on the scene for quite a few years now and is building up a portfolio of patterns for both machine and hand knitters. She also has a free guide “how to Write and Convert your own Knitting Patterns” that can be downloaded from her website when you sign up for her Newsletter.
Mary Anne Oger’s blog “Needless to Say” is amusing and full of useful hits and tips. Some of you may have seen her books and articles in Canadian and American magazines.
Do you like the thought of flip flops, but don’t like the post between your toes? I spotted a website with details of how to crochet a top onto the base of flip flops and turn them into a slipper or summer shoes using cotton yarn. There is another pair with a different top again ideal for summer wear.
How do you join your yarn? Do you use the two methods in this video? Do you use a “magic knot” , a “Russian join” or a “spit splice”? Maybe spit splice isn’t one we should be using right now but kept for the future!
It’s not easy measuring socks whilst you are knitting them, especially if they are not for you. This sock ruler may work for you. Or alternatively you can make your own. I’ve used an offcut of mounting board for mine as a temporary measure. I’ll get a proper one in due course.
When I was looking at the sock rulers I also spotted a row counter that looks like a good idea, especially if you use circular needles. It would even work for crochet too perhaps. In the form of a ring it’s unlikely to get in the way or lost.
Have you been making face masks or know someone that wears one for work? I’m sure you’ve heard that they are getting very sore ears. So here’s a simple pattern for Ear Savers for knitters and crocheters. My guess is that they would be easy to adapt if you don’t have the recommended yarn, or just use two strands together. If you’re not keen on these ones, search on Ravelry for alternative patterns, including adjustable, no button and some especially designed for children and the young at heart. All these free patterns are on Ravelry, so if you haven’t joined yet now could be a good time. Photos of the ones I’ve knitted for my family in Show and Tell.
Do you have trouble threading the needle when sewing up your knitting or crochet? You might find these yarn needles easier to thread and use plus being in such bright colours they should be easy to find! Pony also make a similar set, but they are all the same colour. Some of you might prefer to use regular needles, but have you tried the ones with the little curve at the end? There are a number of different makes made from plastic as well as metal. These ones made by Clover and supplied by the Wool Warehouse as well as other suppliers come in their own tube to keep them safe and you should be able to find them when you need them!
Browsing the World Wide Web
The first few websites etc that I visited this month all seemed to be based around exercise!
All this knitting crocheting and crafting that is being done could mean you need to do a little hand exercise. A while ago I brought an exercise sheet along to a club meeting which at the time we all found quite amusing. I came across it again on the same or a similar site. This time it was on the We Are Knitters blog. After you’ve finished doing the exercises take a look round the rest of the blog—interesting. You'll just have to look for yourself to find out what, but it will be worth spending time on this site. It will lead you on to other sites to visit too.
Here’s another website with exercises for knitters. The Loopy Ewe is a yarn shop in the Colorado USA that also has a blog on its website. Their post for April 2017 includes exercises for knitters, some of which are for shoulders and neck as well as hands and wrists.
Are any of you into Yoga? If so there are a number of YouTube videos showing exercises and positions for knitters. Here’s one to start you off (Yoga for Knitters and Crocheters) which will lead you on to others.
I’m due an eye check, so these eye charts made me smile. Just so those of you that crochet don’t feel left out here’s a chart for you.. I wonder what you get if you followed the instructions top to bottom. If you give it a go, please send a photo of the end results and I’ll include it next time.
Ever thought your knitting could be in code for espionage? This isn’t a long article but it is an aspect of knitting that I hadn’t thought about.
Fed up with a garment, but don’t want to throw it away. There is a website call Reknit Revolution that has some interesting and unusual ideas for giving your knits a bit of a makeover.
I came across the Instagram account belonging to Kendall Baker. She describes herself as a Knitwear Designer and was winner of the GFW Visionary Knitwear Award in 2016. I can’t fully explore this Instagram and other accounts until I either log in or sign up to Instagram, but it looks as if it could be worthwhile. Something else to put on my to do list!
Those of you that like experimental knitting may find Kathleen Morris’ website of interest. Kathleen is a textile artist, researcher and educator.
My Stay and Home and Keep Busy List
My list is definitely getting shorter. I’ve spent about a week machine sewing during the day, and doing any hand sewing required, plus hand knitting in the evening. The results? Well two dresses and a skirt for those hot days we might get, plus masks for all the family.
I also found the bag containing two tops I’d cut out but never sewn together. Everything is there including the pattern envelopes so I don’t have to guess the stitching order, and I’ll be able to put the paper pattern pieces back into the envelope too. I seem to remember cutting them out originally to see how they fitted before I cut them out in more interesting fabric. I have plenty of tops at the moment so once these are made up I’ll write a few notes on the pattern envelope and delay making more until I need them.
As for the evening knitting, well, I’ve made more socks in the Happy yarn I mentioned last time (see show and tell). The light colourway yarns are just about gone now and the little left is not worth keeping. There are two darker colourways and I’ve cast on with one and will change to the other probably as I finish the heel shaping. They don’t go together quite as well as the other colourways did, but nobody will see unless I take my shoes off! (Isn’t/wasn’t there a craze for wearing mismatch socks? Doesn’t seem right somehow to wear two completely different socks.)
I didn’t like the market bag I started knitted in the Rowan cotton, so I’ve frogged it and started again. I think the problem was that the yarn is too fine for what I wanted it to look like. It looked too fragile to hold any heavy shopping as well as coming out so big you’d never be able to lift it. A smaller size needle would mean it could take me for ever to knit. So I cast on again using two strands together. It’s looking good and progressing more quickly too. It has also enabled me to have another go at “magic loop”. I’ve never been particularly successful when I’ve tried previously, but I think I may have cracked it now.
Now that the sewing is almost finished I have been thinking about another project for during the day. I haven’t done any weaving for ages so I’ve dug my loom out. It’s an Ashford Knitters Loom and has had something on it probably for over a year now! It should to be a scarf when finished and is using a technique I saw online called “clasped weft weaving” which is something I’ve not tried before. It’s a bit slower than just weaving back and forth so doesn’t grown that quick. I’ve had another project lined up for a while so am keen to get this one finished and off the loom so I can warp up for the next one. (One jump ahead again!) Once more it will be something I’ve not tried before.
I’m still experimenting with my loom to learn as much as I can. I got the loom originally thinking it would be a way to use yarn from my extensive stash and that it would use lots of it quite quickly. I was fooled on both counts! It’s not quicker but I am enjoying another way of playing with yarn. And it would be oh so easy to buy yarn for it rather than use something from the stash. One day I might, when I have a little less yarn here!
I’m not sure how long I’ve had this band on my Inklette for but it was certainly on there last September so that really must be finished too. I could use the band as handles on a bag. In my search for fabric for backing the family history quilt I showed you last time I found something that would work well so I just need to get on with it! So far I’ve been using cone ends of Branwell Artistic, Bonnies Sable Crepe and similar yarns. These make quite firm bands ideal as book marks, bag handles and similar and have been great for learning. I must try some different yarns and fibres to expand my knowledge. I wonder what other yarns I could try....mmmmm. Like all crafts, you never have all that you want (not necessarily the same as need!). The Inklette allows you to make bands up to about 50mm/2” wide and between 1m/39” and 1.8m/70” long. On an Inkle, its big brother (or should it be sister?) you can make bands up to 75mm/3” wide and between 1.3m/51” and 2.8m/110”long. I must resist, I must resist, I must resist.
Update: I have been in touch with the company whose name I was given as a supplier of needles for my Victorian knitting machine. They responded to my email to say that they can help as soon as lockdown is over and they can get back to work. It won’t be easy for them to socially distance when they do return so I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait. But it’s not something that is essential, so I’ll wait patiently.
Still plenty on my list for me to do! I haven’t started my big clear out yet, or beading or ............ This fine weather is also showing that I do need to do a bit of Spring cleaning, but I still have other things I’d prefer to do first!
Show and Tell
Alison has been knitting pairs of hearts for a hospital in Swindon following an appeal she saw on BBC News. She’s knitted 15 pairs in all. I’m sure the hospital will be very grateful and I guess others may like some too, so check locally to you. It would also be a lovely way of connecting with the younger members of your family.
Alison is also been working on a stalled project—a nearly finished cushion cover for her sister. Being at home has meant she has been able to get on with it and is now knitting i-cord for the edging. She’s promised to send a photo when it’s finished. Thanks Alison.
Karen has sent me lots of photos of her scarf that I mentioned last time. This one on the left is as it came off the needles and the ones below show it after it had been finished. Would you believe that somewhere there is a row that has grafted the two “ends” together. I can’t spot it even when I enlarged the pictures! Lovely and thanks Karen
I do seem to have been busy over the last few weeks! You’ve already heard about my sewing, so now it’s knitting’s turn.
First off here’s the socks in two different colourways of yarn. Without using both colours I wouldn’t have had enough yarn for this pair. And unless someone takes a close look they may never notice! The next pair of socks is already on the needles, but you will notice the change in colourways for them.
And then there is the ear savers to wear with our masks. I’ve a few more still to knit as they would be easy to loose if we’re not careful and they will also need to be washed from time to time, possibly as often as the masks just to be on the safe side. The yarn used for these is mainly chunky, the exception being the lilac ones which are aran weight yarn. Used the same number of stitches for both and there is very little difference in size. I haven’t counted the rows!
Another finished project is a the market bag knitted with two strands of the Rowan 4ply cotton. The bag itself is about A4 in size so ideal for a 4pt bottle of milk, or a bag of potatoes. I did make a classic rookie mistake when knitting this and I’m sure some of you have already spotted it. All the K2tog for the lace holes are in the same direction, so the bag twists. I should have done some of them in the reverse direction to counter the twist but at the time I didn’t think it would matter as there were a few rows of plain knitting between each row of lace holes. So lesson learnt. I made this pattern up as I went along rather than planning fully before I started. There is still plenty of the Rowan yarn left, so maybe I’ll try crochet next.
Procraftinating (pro-craft-in-a-ting): The act of delaying doing laundry, the washing up, chores and that other project you said you’d finish by starting new craft projects.
In the rush to return back to normal,
use this time to consider
which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.
(from Mentors Channel—Facebook)
Until we meet again
and carry on
Knitting or Crocheting!
Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives
Keep positive—We will meet again
Late News: I’ve just been sent a link to a News Item on the BBC website. A lady in Norfolk is knitting the “NHS Knittingale Hospital” to raise much needed funds for her local hospital.