Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New Pattern - The Inez Horton Top

I've published Inez Horton on Ravelry, Love Knitting and it will be up on Patternfish soon. 

This summer top is created with simple stocking stitch and garter stitch, worked in two different directions. It uses a classic, sport weight, 100% linen yarn. The side body and sleeves are picked up on a circular needle and knitted out from centre body segments. The sample is knit in a slightly looser gauge to encourage extra drape in the fabric. It is shown with no ease at the bust. The hip has 28 cm (11 inches) of ease, making it flatter a variety of figure shapes. The sample is size 94 cm (37 inches) and is shown on a 94 cm (37 inch) mannequin and model. There is very little finishing required on the garment as all outside edges are worked in garter stitch and only the underarm is seamed. Sides are joined with three needle bind off.

I'm a big fan of linen for summer garments, it's cool and the drape is very flattering on the body.


If you would like some extra tips on knitting with linen I have a post here on the topic.

We took some of the photos on the mannequin to give you an idea of how the body underneath a garment impacts the shape. I realized the appearance is changed in a more significant way when I first published Rosina and a reader emailed asking what size was I wearing? I was wearing the sample but it is true things, look different on the same measurement but with a different body shape.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Casting on Without a Knot

I used to start all my cast  on rows with a slip knot. That little knot always irritated me when it came time to do the finishing. Sometimes it gave the corner a slight unevenness, or I had to adjust how I executed my mattress stitch to work around the bump the knot created. Sometimes it was just because I could feel the little hard knot it created. In a bulky yarn it was worse because it was bigger and in lace weight it was occasionally more visible depending on the stitch pattern I was using above the knot.

Set up the same as for long tail cast on.
I now use a simple twist in the yarn. When doing a long tail cast on I make the first stitch as a loop and then carry on in the usual way. When I'm using the cable cast on I make the loop, move the needle to my left hand and then continue working in the same way that I would if it was a slip knot. Once the first stitch is completed it holds the knot-less loop in place. One thing to aware of is when you use this on long tail cast on, the work will be one row shorter on the end without the knot. This is because Long Tail creates a cast on and works the first row at the same time. I've done it many times and the difference disappears after blocking. I always question these details because variations between knitters can create differences in the final results. So as they say your mileage many vary.

Place the needle facing down behind the strand of yarn.

Turn the needle up allowing the yarn to twist around the needle.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

New Pattern - The Elizabeth Penn Top

I've published this one on Ravelry, Love Knitting and it will be up on Patternfish soon. 

It's a very forgiving, oversized shape, which is cool to wear on hot summer days. I've worn it over a strapless bandeau style bra in the photos. I've also worn it at other times over a white tank with a regular bra.

The top is made from two simple rectangle shapes and is edged at the hem with Willow Lace Stitch. It is created with a classic 4 ply fingering weight, 100% cotton. The original yarn has been discontinued but there are many brands who carry this common form of cotton. I've added substitution details in the pattern and some brand names on the publishing sites.

The stitch pattern appears in text and chart formats. The edging on the armholes and neckline is picked up on a circular needle and knitted out. 

The sample is knit in a slightly looser than normal gauge to encourage drape in the fabric. The drape allows the square neckline to fall into a deep scoop on the body. It is shown with 18 cm (7 inches) of positive ease. The sample is a size 112 cm (44 inch) and is shown on a 94 cm (37 inch) mannequin. I also measure 37 inches at the bust, however my frame is more in the range of a size 35 in terms of my shoulder width. The shoulders of the sample were joined with Kitchener Stitch, which could easily be replaced by a three needle bind off or they could be sewn together. A novice lace knitter could tackle this pattern, as most of the garment is stocking stitch and the lace stitch is very straightforward.

Skills required – Long tail cast on, knit, purl, decreases, yarn over, casting off or 3 needle bind off, picking up stitches, optional Kitchener Stitch.

760 (862, 981, 1096, 1203, 1328, 1457, 1579) metres.
845 (958, 1090, 1217, 1337, 1475, 1619, 1755) yards.

The hem uses an extra strand of yarn for the cast on row only. This gives the edge a little extra weight forming a more substantial scalloped edge.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Shawl Geometry by Holly Chayes

Holly Chayes has sent me her three book bundle on Shawl Geometry to review. It's a pretty amazing package of basic instructions for an astounding number of shawl shapes and construction methods.  If you are someone who likes to experiment, these books will be a welcome addition to your library. They definitely got my design juices flowing. This is the ultimate handbook for all shawl knitters.

Holly says "The Shawl Geometry Series of books is a master class in shawl shaping, with enough shawl shaping recipes to keep you knitting for a lifetime (or two). Shaping shawls isn’t hard, but it’s sometime confusing to know exactly what to do next. Over the course of these three books you’ll learn everything you could possibly need to know about how to shape knitted shawls using increases and decreases. Book one begins with common shapes that we all know and love, book two covers more uncommon shapes, and book three dives into the principles & theory of shaping (and transforming) knitted shawls." 

Holly has done an update from the original versions so I asked her to fill me in on what the changes incorporated?

She explained "The update basically expands on everything (more shapes, more technical explanation, etc) and brings more cohesion to the series. While the first version was more of a loosely organized collection of recipes and theory, the update brings focus to each of the books - so the first book is specifically common shapes, the second book is specifically more intermediate shapes, and the third book is focused on principles and theory about how to shape and transform shawl shapes. 

To give you a sense of the size of the update. In the old version book one was 35 pages, book two 40 pages, and book three 20 pages. In the updated version book one is 92 pages, book two 159 pages, and book three 163 pages. 

Just the change in length alone meant I could include far more shapes and also more explanation and tips about the shapes that needed them. 

I hope that helps give you a sense of what the update involved." 

Each of the first two books give you a swatch size photo sample, a schematic and instructions on how to knit the shape in more than one direction. They are presented in recipe formats which you can use as a swatch to practice on and then apply what you've learned to create your own project. The math of each recipe is laid out for you. Once you pop your own numbers into each recipe you can start knitting.

Book 1 covers the more common shapes. Squares, rectangles, triangles and circles. Each of these has many variations of construction. Take a look at the photo below and you'll get a much better idea of the real variety this book covers. 

Book 2 has 45 shawl shapes, some are a little less common with 89 additional recipes. They include variations on the shapes from Book 1, crescents and doughnuts. 

Book 3 is the advanced theory on shaping which will help you to understand how increase and decrease variations impact the knitting fabric. You'll get extra tips on the principles of how to shape curves and straight edges as well as a chapter on short row shaping. For a better photo of this book check Holly's page here at the bottom of the page.

You can find all the details here:

Check out her Ravelry designs here to see some of the recipes executed in full size versions.

The only limitation I found is when I loaded the books on my ereader. (I use a KOBO) The font size of the PDF was a little small. I could still read it, and I'm aware my vision isn't great when it comes to smaller font sizes, so this might not be of concern to most other people. It was not an issue on my laptop at all. It just meant I read most of the books on my laptop instead of my KOBO. 

I did an interview with Holly back in 2015 which you can read here

Friday, May 25, 2018

Where did the Knitting Classes Go?

I don't have any answers to the question "where did the knitting classes go?". It's been coming up a lot lately and I've been asked the question many times in the last few months. My own guild, the Toronto Knitters Guild chose not to have classes at their annual event after close to 20 years of doing so.

They posted this to the website:

There are not going to be any workshops at this year’s Frolic. Many of the workshop proposals we received were similar to what is currently offered at our GTA yarn stores (some of whom are vendors at the Frolic). After careful consideration, the Frolic Committee decided not to offer workshops this year. Instead, and as part of the TKG’s mission to promote fibre-related crafts in the Greater Toronto Area, we are promoting the workshops available at the LYS. We hope you aren’t too disappointed, and look forward to seeing you at the Frolic Marketplace.

At this time they have announced they do plan to consider offering them again next year. There was some activity in our Ravelry group discussing the classes, however considering that the event has well over 1000 attendees, 17 posters and 21 posts isn't very many. A number of the posts were about a class in Toronto being taught on the Sunday as an alternative so there were really only a few posters unhappy about the class cancellations.

I heard from a third hand source that some vendors felt the Frolic was compromised by becoming a market only event. However to my knowledge no one felt strongly enough about this to raise it with the organizers.

Some of my friends didn't attend at all because there were no classes offered. Others still attended but said they were disappointed because the more advanced classes they wanted were only available at the event and LYS classes tend to be for beginners.

On the other hand all the teachers I know have been discussing how hard it is to fill classes anywhere other than very large events. Some have stopped submitting class proposals due to the poor compensation structure. Even at the large events some of my peers have confided their expenses were outpacing their profits due to inflation being paired with stagnant payment rates. Rates for classes and presentations have been the same since I started and in some cases are being reduced as venues also struggle financially.

So here's a few of the theories I've been hearing during these conversations. 

LYS are taking care of the teaching needs of knitters. (I'm not sure this is true, recently two yarn shops have told me they can't fill their classes).

YouTube and Craftsy have become our sources for knitting classes. In other words it's a technological change.

Retreats and large events are the main place knitters now take classes.

Knitting has been popular for the last 20 years and we have less need for classes as the majority of the knitting population has a high level of skill already.  

Many knitters aren't interested in developing higher level skills. They prefer simple soothing projects due to high stress levels in other parts of life.

Knitters are very project focused and many classes are technique based not project based.

I'd love to hear any other ideas you have on this topic. Our industry struggles to survive and I see many of my peers quietly dropping out because for many it's not a sustainable option.