A Ravelry Intro and Your Knitting Inspiration

We had a sudden change of plan at the December meeting when our guest speaker was unexpectedly caught in a blizzard and unable to join us. With some quick shuffling of topics, and drawing on the knowledge of our lovely members, we pulled together a great meeting where I think we all learned a lot.

Catherine started things off with a piece of her upcoming January 2018 meeting talk about Ravelry. She’s been working hard and practicing new Ravelry skills to share tips and tricks next month, so she was able to start a portion of that talk at this month’s meeting. Catherine chose to only cover the basics of navigating your Notebook in Ravelry, pointing out features of the tabs at the side of the screen that we maybe haven’t explored in detail before.

First of all, your Ravelry profile matters. Speaking from experience, I’ve clicked on many profiles on Ravelry to learn more about my fellow fibre fans and I’ve been disappointed with the lack of information. The point Catherine really hammered home is how much Ravelry is a community, and how it relies on the input of community members to make it the wonderful resource it is. Go ahead, fill out that profile! Share some fun details about yourself, log your projects, upload your photos, and be engaged with this community. You get what you give to Ravelry, meaning you can help make it a better source for knitters and crocheters and spinners by adding details of your projects, the yarns and the patterns you use.

One of the biggest discussion points of the night was regarding how everyone uses the Queue feature on Ravelry. Some members were mystified about it altogether, so we’ll start with the basics. The Queue is your way of organizing the projects and patterns you want to make next. Think of it as a to-do list. Once you add a project to your queue, you can add as much or as little information as you like. Ravelry prompts you to add the yarn you plan to use (by linking it to the Ravelry database of yarn, so other users can see when someone uses the same yarn in their stash for a project), the order in which you want to knit your queued items, a deadline, and notes or tags. For those of us with an *ahem* ambitious queue, the tags especially can help you find something you queued long ago. You can add a project to your projects page directly from your queue when you’re ready to starting knitting, with all of your notes and yarns details already entered.

Catherine will be giving us a detailed walk-through on advanced search features on Ravelry next month, but she stumbled on a topic that generated lots of questions – the Library feature. Any pattern you buy or download from Ravelry is saved to your library, but don’t forget you can add your existing books and published patterns too. It’s a step that can help you narrow your pattern search later when you realize the exact pattern you want to make is already sitting in your house in that Vogue Knitting magazine from 2008. We all keep our knitting magazine forever, right? Not just me?

And another often overlooked section of your Ravelry Notebook is the Stash, where you can organize your yarns and fibres. It’s helpful as a way to see what you have on hand in one convenient place, but it can also assist other Ravelry users. Every buy a yarn online? Not sure of its true colour? Try searching for the yarn and seeing photos of it in someone’s stash, in a variety of lighting conditions. Need an extra half a ball of some discontinued yarn? Maybe someone on Ravelry has half a ball sitting in their stash that they’re willing to sell and send you. Problem solved!

Catherine’s final advice for the night was to just go in and play around with Ravelry. Try out some of the features you’ve never used before. Contribute to the greater community of yarnies around you and you will surely benefit too.

After our break, Alexis made a special guest appearance to lead a sharing of ideas, resources, and your favourite sources for all things yarn. Here’s a list of links, as promised:

The Knitter’s Review by Clara Parkes – author of Knitlandia, the Knitter’s Book of Yarn, the Knitter’s Book of Wool, and many more wonderful resources

The Grocery Girls podcast -check out their YouTube Channel for recent videos

Off Your Needles – hosted by Craftsy, video episodes on YouTube

A Wooden Nest – it’s a podcast and a blog

The Gentle Knitter poadcast

Espace Tricot – great free patterns, a podcast, a shop in Montreal, and an online store

Fruity Knitting – a podcast, with great guests

Kristy Glass Knits – YouTube channel

The Knitmore Girls podcast

Kate Davies – designer with a blog and online shop

Fringe Association blog

Very Pink Knits – knitting patterns and video tutorials

The Yarn Harlot – author and blogger

Tin Can Knits – great tutorials, simple and beautiful patterns

There. That should keep us all up to our ears in great knitting information until we meet again in January.

Happy knitting,

Victoria

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Finishing Techniques Revisited

I started my presentation this month by referring back to the techniques covered by this topic a year ago. Yarn Club members who were at the November 2016 meeting may recall some great techniques tucked in at the end of the meeting, shared by Alexis. As mentioned in September, with our change in meeting format, we’re now getting more time to really delve into each meeting topic. The finishing techniques shared last year included pre-planning your edges, seaming, and weaving in ends, so we touched on each of those again, and then took it a few steps further.

Before getting into any knitty gritty details (ha!) we took a moment to appreciate WHY finishing your pieces with care is so important. For many knitters, the knitting is the fun part, and picking up a darning needle brings all the fun to a halt, and your sweater pieces sit in a basket unseamed and unfinished. Don’t let this be the case! Give your knits the respect they deserve with thoughtful finishing.

In the pre-planning discussion, I focused on choosing the correct selvage edge for your piece. The slipped stitch selvage that many knitters swear by for their pieces is not always the most appropriate choice. In general, follow these simple guidelines:

  • if it’s going to be a FINISHED edge, use garter or slipped stitch edging
  • if seed/moss/textured stitch, use this stitch or slipped stitch
  • if edge will be SEAMED on stockinette, use stockinette selvage

There is a truly wonderful Craftsy class by Sally Melville that every knitter should watch, called Essential Techniques Every Knitter Should Know. That seems like a bold title, but oh man, they aren’t kidding. Go and watch this. Take notes. Use the resources that come with the class. Incredibly useful and practical tips. You won’t look at your knitting the same way again.

We discussed weaving in your ends, including some handy techniques to avoid picking up the darning needle, if you’re so inclined.

When you’re darning in your ends, take care to do it securely. This picture nicely summarized the DOs and DON’Ts:

Finishing Knitting Techniques: How to Weave in Ends
Photo via Interweave Knits

But there are some other great techniques I learned while researching for this talk. You can knit in the tails, weave in the ends as you go, or splice them.

Knitting in the Tails:

  • knit old yarn together with the new yarn for 5 or 6 stitches
  • treat double stitches as one stitch on the next row
  • no bulkier than weaving in the ends on the WS
  • stitches cannot sit beside each other, one will move to the back
  • will NOT work with fine, lace work – open work will show the worked in tails

Weaving in the Ends as you Go (also known as Knit-Knit-Unknit, or locking in long floats in colourwork):

  • introduce new yarn by lightly draping new working yarn over the needle and knitting with the old yarn
  • when knitting the next stitch with the new yarn, wrap the old yarn around the needle, then wrap the new yarn, and unwrap the old yarn as you knit the stitch
  • lock the old yarn in place on the WS of your work for 5 or 6 stitches

This is best illustrated with a video to see it in action.

Splicing

  • no “wrong” side, can be used on reversible items
  • splicing guaranteed with wool, acrylics or superwash wools may not work
  • break the wool, don’t cut it, as it leaves a tapered end
  • pull apart the plies and taper them, or untwist the singles
  • layer the two ends on top of each other, add a bit of moisture, and rub them between your hands to felt them a bit

Seaming was the next chunk of our discussion, where I spent most of the talk on the different situations for seaming, and less time discussing the technique itself. You can seam using whipstitch, backstitch, or mattress stitch, my preferred method is mattress stitch. You can find loads of tutorials on mattress stitch, here’s a great one with clear and easy to follow pictures from Purl Soho – https://www.purlsoho.com/create/mattress-stitch/

Your three main seaming situations are row to row, stitch to stitch, and stitch to row.

Ok, does this apply to picking up stitches too? You betcha!

Alright, what about the weird situations, like when you’re picking up for ribbing around the neck of a sweater? You bet it does!

After a refreshing break to clear our heads from all the new knowledge, we came back to round out the evening with a look at adding zippers to our knitting, and steeking.

For a detailed and very helpful tutorial on everything zippers, I highly recommend Kate Atherley’s article on Mason-Dixon Knitting. Kate leads you through choosing the right zipper, correct placement, and helpful tips from the experts along with “learn from my mistakes” tips. A great article and a great resource. I tried out the techniques myself with a swatch that I passed around at the meeting, and I can tell you I learned everything I know about adding zippers to knitting from this article.

Steeking certainly got everyone’s attention to close out our meeting. I tried out some different techniques on teeny tiny swatches knit in the round, I tested out hand sewing and crocheting to reinforce the steek before cutting. My personal favourite technique is the crochet reinforcement, but I shared that my very first (and only) steeking project was reinforced with two rows of machine sewn stitches on either side of the steek. I was positively terrified that it would come undone!

I won’t reinvent the wheel to share the knowledge I learned about steeking, so check out the resources below for comprehensive tutorials and tips to try on your next project:

Crochet reinforcing by Tin Can Knits

Steek FAQs by Kate Davies

A steek overview by Interweave Knits

The steek sandwich by Kate Davies

Happy knitting!

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October Show and Share

The name of the game was shawls this month, with guest presenter Mindy from Raven Knits Design.

Roxann shared two of her own beautiful shawl designs, Sweet Angel Wings and Netting a Mermaid:

Sweet Angel Wing, photo via Beadaddictroxy, Ravelry

Netting a Mermaid, photo via Beadaddictroxy, Ravelry

Catherine brought in a few of her shawls to share. Her Hitchhiker was knit with Gobsmacked merino fingering weight yarn:

Hitchhiker, photo via Martina Behm, Ravelry

This is Springtime Bandit, knit in Blue Moon Fibre Arts Twisted DK.

Springtime Bandit, photo via Fruwho, Ravelry

This gorgeous little thing is Haruni, knit in Fleece Artist Merino.

Haruni, photo via Fruwho, Ravelry

And rounding out Catherin’s shawl selection is Aeolian, knit up in Diamond Luxury Collection Foot Loose (not discontinued).

Aeolian, photo via Fruwho, Ravelry

I brought a few of my own shawls to the party, including a slim little crescent shawl, Annis, knit in Indigodragonfly Merino Lace Singles.

Annis, photo via vrock, Ravelry

I also brought along the very first shawl I ever made, Laminaria. The fibre is a seacell merino blend.

Laminaria, photo via vrock, Ravelry

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October Guest Speaker – Mindy from Raven Knits Design

The temperature is starting to dip to normal fall levels, and it was perfect timing to welcome Mindy from Raven Knits Design to Yarn Club this month for a talk all about shawls.

You can find more information about Mindy’s patterns on Ravelry, where she maintains a Ravelry group called the Raven’s Nest. If you’re new to groups on Ravelry, be warned that this group can get quite heated in their discussions, but everyone is welcome.

Mindy also mentioned her involvement with the Indie Design 2017 Gift-A-Long, where you can score a great deal on independently designed patterns. New to the idea of a Gift-A-Long? Check out the FAQ page for more information. The action starts November 21 and goes right through December 31 – plenty of time to bang out a few holiday projects.

While listening to Mindy’s talk, I had a few highlights I wanted to share about what I learned:

  • A bowed triangular shawl is called “heart shaped”, and it’s a lovely thing that will prevent the bunching up of the shawl at the back of your neck.
  • A broad centre panel to your triangular shawl makes for a more flattering shape. There will be no “arrow” point of the shawl, pointing directly to your bottom. Here’s a great example from Mindy’s pattern collection, this is Stone Serpent:

Stone Serpent, photo via Raven Knits Design, Ravelry

  • And possibly my most favourite thing from Mindy’s talk was the Sontag shawl, which isn’t a particular pattern, but rather a style of wearing your shawl. Mindy demonstrated this with one of her favourite shawls. She said this is how she wears her shawls at home as an extra layer, and her arms are free to move around while she’s knitting or doing the dishes. This requires longer ends for your triangular shawl, so the ends can wrap around you and tie in the back. Mindy’s rule of thumb is a shawl that is as wide as your arm span (or longer!). Mindy has a page on Ravelry for her triangular and Sontag shawl designs if you’re looking for a pattern.

Image result for sontag shawlPhoto via Joy Melcher, civilwarlady.net

Here’s a great example from Ravelry:


Kay’s Tess D’Urbervilles Shawl, photo via Kay Meadors, Ravelry

  • For blocking your shawls, do as Mindy does and stretch the heck out of them! You want the lacework to open up, so don’t be timid about pulling on those pins and blocking wires.

Tiliacaea, photo via Raven Knits Design, Ravelry

  • Worried about how much yarn your triangular shawl is going to eat up? Tired of playing yarn chicken? Mindy gave us some helpful pointers on the math involved in a triangular shawl, and to make your life easier, there’s a spreadsheet for that! Check out Rose-Kim Knits and download the Shawl Progress Calculator (link on the right side).
  • For anyone looking for your own round shawl pin like the one Mindy used in her demonstrations, search for a “penannular shawl pin” the next time you’re at a show or shop. I found a few beautiful examples with a quick search on Etsy.

Mindy kindly set up a discount offer for her patterns for Yarn Club members. Check your inbox for a special email with the promotion code, valid until November 5.

Thank you again to Mindy for sharing her passion for shawls with us!

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September Show and Share

Jo shared her work in progress So Faded sweater, made with Richard Devrieze yarn.


So Faded, photo via Andrea Mowry, Ravelry

Liz shared her Om Shawl, which has some interesting options for wearing the finished piece. Liz chose to sew on only some of the many buttons called for in the pattern, and she modeled it for us in a cardigan style.

Om Shawl, photo via Andrea Mowry, Ravelry

Om Shawl, photo via Andrea Mowry, Ravelry

I shared my recently completed Bronwyn pullover by Melissa Wehrle. I’d love to show you a picture of how nice it looks on me, but it’s simply been too hot to think about pulling on a woolly outer layer. For a few precious weeks when I first finished it, I was wearing it every morning for my daily dog walks.

Bronwyn, photo via Brooklyn Tweed, Ravelry

Beautiful work all around, and a few projects even included short rows, which was a great tie-in to the September discussion topic.

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Short Rows and a hello from your new hosts

What a great turnout for our first meeting of the year, thank you to all who attended during what I know can be a very busy time of year. If you missed the Yarn Club meeting, let me catch you up on a fairly big change before I share some great resources from our talk.

This coming Yarn Club year, Alexis will be taking time off to spend with her family and her newest addition, a baby boy due in October. She isn’t going anywhere, and will still come to meetings when she can, but our monthly meetings, blog updates, and general administration will be handled by two new faces this year.

Enter: Victoria and Catherine.

Hi! I’m Victoria!

I am a friend of Alexis and a Yarn Club member since the beginning, and I am absolutely tickled to be keeping Yarn Club going while our fearless leader takes a break. Joining me is my fellow Yarn Club member and very dear friend Catherine. Together we will host Yarn Club meetings and keep you in the loop in the fibre community this year.

You can reach us with any Yarn Club questions or comments through email at GuelphYarnClub AT gmail DOT com.

Ravelry contact:

Victoria – vrock
Catherine – fruwho

We look forward to getting to know you all better this year.

This month, we delved into an introduction to short rows.

I was very open about my lack of expertise with short rows; I did a lot of research and swatching to prepare the talk this month, and the resources I used were a great help to me in creating the presentation, and hopefully in my future knitting.

It was a challenge to present this topic without getting too heavy into technical information. I purposely chose to NOT drone on about exactly how to execute short rows, and I made the assumption that most members were familiar with the concept of short rows. If you aren’t, and you want to start from the beginning, I found this article from Interweave very helpful. It walks you through the basics of four very common short row methods – wrap and turn, yarn over, the Japanese or pinned method, and the catch method:

Short Row Knitting – The Ultimate Guide

Once we covered some familiar ground with the common short row methods, we moved right into applications in our knitting.

I saved garment shaping for the end, and expanded on short row methods with a study in sock heeling shaping.

I adore knitting socks. They’re such a portable project, they can be plain Jane or complicated, and they’re a fun place to experiment with new stitches or techniques. I’ll be upfront and honest here, I haven’t done a lot of different sock heels. I’m kind of a wrap and turn fan, as this was the first short row technique I learned, and it hasn’t steered me wrong yet. It was eye opening and really interesting to try new heel techniques, and I encourage you all to follow in my footsteps and make a series of itsy bitsy heel swatches for the sake of your knitting education.

The first set of swatches I created came from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns. This is a great book to add to your library if you’re interested in vintage patterns that are adapted for modern yarn and knitters. I tested out the Dutch/horseshoe heel, the Welsh heel, and the French/round heel. Each one used a different short row method, and had a distinct look. All three use a heel flap construction on a top-down sock.

I also looked at heels turned using short rows only, no heel flap. These could be added to a toe-up or top-down sock. The five short row methods I tested out were wrap and turn, yarn over, German/double stitch, Japanese/pinned, and the shadow wrapped method. I tried these methods out on swatches, and the instructions for these all came from a very help website, The Chilly Dog, which detailed each method with lots of pictures and step by step instructions.

Photo via The Chilly Dog: 5 Knit Short Row Sock Heels

Garment shaping is another great application of short rows. We scratched the surface by discussing shoulder shaping and adding bust darts to a garment.

Photo via Sarah White: A Trick to Make Seaming Shoulders Easier

Things got more intense when we discussed bust darts. If you have any sewing knowledge, or you wear clothes, this will be familiar to you:

Photo via By Gum By Golly: Finished: 1940s Simplicity Diamonds Skirt and Alma Blouse

Interweave has a lovely introduction to adding bust shaping in your knitting:

Shaping a Bust with Short-Rows

And the most helpful blog I came across was Knitting Bust Darts by Connie Hester. Highly, HIGHLY recommend. Great pictures, great examples, a solid discussion on short row shaping. This article walks you through how to add shaping to your next garment.

3 inches of Short Rows 3 by Connie Hester

Photo via Connie Hester: Knitting Bust Darts

As an added bonus, I threw in a quick few slides about adding vertical darts to your knitting in place of short row shaping. The link to Connie Hester’s blog details these instructions with examples as well.

Image_small2

A great example of vertical bust shaping, Hvitveis by Lene Tøsti

And while we didn’t get into discussing short rows as design features or unique construction elements, I finished things off with some examples of short row projects to inspire you.

Waiting for Rain by Sylvia McFadden

Toph by Wooly Wormhead

Goldfinch by Andrea Mowry

Catherine wrapped things up for the night with a hands-on mini workshop about entrelac. Her beautiful entrelac blanket took 3 years to finish and was modified from a scarf pattern.

Catherine’s Entrelac Blanket

 

Entrelac Scarf by Allison LoCicero

For anyone who wants to give entrelac a try, here are the instructions Catherine shared at the meeting:
And for the crocheters, you’re in for a treat. Catherine’s first love is crochet and here’s a curated search of patterns for crochet entrelac.
Happy knitting!
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Attaching Edgings – Knit & Crochet

(The Maryborough Vest pictured above is an example of a pattern that attaches edging as-you-go)

Many knitting books devoted to edgings still advise that you’ll need to seam the edging to your project.  Unless they’re referring to attaching knit or crocheted edging to a woven commercial fabric, this just isn’t true.  This misconception about how to you must attach edgings is a particular pet-peeve of mine; after all, crocheters would scoff at the idea of sewing an edging to an afghan.  When it comes to edging, knitters should take a page from the crocheter’s book instead (and if you’re a knitter, edging is a great place to start adding a few crochet skills to your arsenal!)

In that vein, I’ll start with the versatile crochet edge.  Not just for crochet, you can apply crochet to the edge of any fabric, knit or woven.  When I use it with knitting, I find adding a foundation row of single crochet all the way around the edge of my project provides a good base for then creating more intricate designs.

Here’s how:

 

Now to knit edgings: there are two types.  Type 1 is worked lengthways (where the length refers to the work on the edging, i.e. the edging is worked back and forth to form a long strip which needs to be attached to the project in some way).  This is the type of knit edging that books often dismiss as needing seaming. However, you can knit Lengthways Knit Edging on to your project in a couple of different ways.

When you already have live stitches on your needles from your project, you can attach edging like this (also called an applied border, thanks Ms. Zimmerman!):

Similarly, you can pick up stitches along a cast-on or bound-off edge to create live stitches that can then be used in the above technique.

My favourite technique, and IMO the most versatile, as it allows you to work on very large pieces of knitting without picking up all the necessary stitches before you start (read: no enormously long circulars), is to attach the border by picking up stitches along the edge of your project as you go.  This one isn’t as easy to find a video for, so I made my own (complete with mid-stream fast-motion to make me the fastest knitter in the world):

Because knit stitches are wide and short, when working along a cast-on or bound-off edge I am only picking up and attaching stitches on the right side row, so that the wrong side can fill in the extra space. When I come to the last stitch in my edging RS row, I slip it, pick up a stitch from the edge of the swatch, and knit the two stitches together through the back loop.  This way the edging stitch lies on top of the swatch stitch.

Once you are finished one edge, you have to turn a corner to keep going:

In order to turn a corner so that the knitting doesn’t buckle as it turns, I use a series of little short rows to make the corner neat and pointed, not unlike one side of a short-row sock heel.

And finally, the side-edge:

Since I’m working on a side edge, I’m picking up and attaching a stitch from the swatch to every row of the edging, so that the rows of edging match exactly to the rows of the swatch. The last stitch from the RS row is attached, and the first stitch from the WS row is attached. I’m using an SSK to attach the RS row, and a P2tog to attach the WS row, but as long as you are consistent you can use whatever decrease stitch you like and it will look neat and uniform.

Knit edging Type 2 are edgings that are worked widthways (so worked along the whole required width of the edging).  2A, as noted above, is edging that would begin a project, such as a bottom ruffle on a sleeve or hem.  2B is edging worked from it’s top edge “down” which is confusing but means you could end a project with that, as it ends with a bind-off – for example, edgings used to finish circular or semi-circular shawls. Most sweater necklines fall under this 2B category as well.

Obviously these types of edging are very easy to use without seaming, however if applying them to a side-edge, all the stitches required to work a number of repeats of the edging pattern would have to be picked up first.

A few other things you might find inspiring:

That’s it for a start! Knitting on the edge…

Have fun 🙂

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June Show & Share

Alfie brought in multiple bags of projects to share in June! Here are just a few we snapped pictures of:

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Oceanwind Knits – Resources for Knit Design

At our May meeting, Yarn Club enjoyed a great discussion with Lori Law of Oceanwind Knits about the ins & outs of knitwear design and pattern publication.  Here are the resources Lori shared with us after her talk:

Stitch pattern ‘dictionaries’ are the backbone of knitting design.

(One of my first and still favourites – Alexis)

Books I use regularly :

  • Ann Budd’s “Handy Books”
  • Sock books by Cookie A have very good technical information for building sock designs.

  • Shirley Paden’s “Knitwear Design Workshop” (although I have yet to actually publish a sweater pattern, I will one day.  :))

Ravelry has some designer group forums which are always interesting to follow.

I keep multiple spreadsheets of general sizing information which I can transfer into designs.  (I do not know where precisely I retrieved all of this sizing from, I gathered it via Google over many years).

Craft Yarn Council website.

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May Yarn Club Show & Share

So many great projects and patterns this month!

Liz wore her Sunshine Coast sweater by Heidi Kirrmaier, made with Lang Seta Tweed.

Valerie showed off her finished and blocked Croeso, Lace & Cable Shawlette by Camille Coizy Delahaie, made with Viking of Norway Alpaca Silk.

Erin brought in her Cascades pullover by Michele Wang, made with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter

Karen showed her All About That Brioche shawl by Lisa Hannes, made with Paca Peds – Alpaca, Superwash Wool & Nylon.

Terri brought in her tiny Raindrops pullover by Tin Can Knits for a new baby, mad with Knit Picks Kettle Dyed Sock Yarn

Marilyn shared her Stripe It Away test knit for Meiju K-P, made with Ancient Arts & MadelineTosh Light.

Gillian wore her Omena vest by Jill Zielinski, made with Plucky Scholar.

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