the thumb hole

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the other night my friend kyran texted me this picture with the text “why is this happening?”

this is a problem with almost all gloves, mittens, and fingerless mitts. you get to the thumb. you pick up the required number of stitches according to the pattern and you still get holes on either side of the thumb.

what’s a knitter to do? add more stitches!

let me explain!

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thumb instructions from early morning mitts by erica knudson

as you can see in the instructions above, the designer has 15 stitches from the gusset and tells the knitter to “pick up 4 sts along the gaps” for a total of 19 stitches.

well first of all pick up more stitches then the pattern calls for. it seems that most patterns with thumbs call for 4 stitches to be picked up and knitted once the thumb gusset is finished and you are ready to start the thumb.

but i recommend picking up and knitting at least 2 more stitches in this area. so if the pattern says to pick up 4 stitches, pick up 6. but make sure that your final number count is odd or even just like the designer called for. don’t add a odd number of stitches if you’re total number of stitches is supposed to be odd in the end. and vice versa!

and yes i know you have to get rid of them. to get rid of the extras just simply knit an extra row to decrease them away (especially if you have a longer than normal thumb) or do it all in one row and make sure you have the right stitch count in the end.

and don’t forget to tighten on that 2nd stitch!

happy knitting!

h.

 

oh the yarn!

i think you probably all know by now how much i love organizing stuff! i love cleaning out closets and finding more space where i didn’t think i had any! and when it comes to yarn and knitting spaces, i can use all the space I can get!

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my guest room a few years back while i was sorting yarn

one of the benefits of owning a yarn shop was i had somewhat unlimited yarn storage! if you work outside the home, think about all the stuff that lives at our office and is really your personal stuff! what would you do if all that needed to come home?

when i decided that i was going to participate in the yarn crawl, i knew i needed to inventory my stash. ever buy the same book twice? well i’m that way with yarn (and books but that’s a different post). i’ve bought three skeins of tosh sock in the same color way from three yarn shop in three different states over the last few years. i obviously love that yarn and that color way!

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tosh sock in peony

so time to get organized!

organizing your stash

forever i organized my stash by fiber content in under-the-bed tubs. but we only have 2 beds in our house that we can actually store stuff under (excluding will’s room and my yarn is too precious to live in there). and unfortunately my stash couldn’t be contained under those beds! and do you really want to hide all that beautiful colorful fiber under a bed? NO you want to see it and see if often!

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yarn storage in recycled zipper bag and ziploc zipper bag purchased at target

when i destashed last year, i switched to giant zipper bags. i’m talking about the one that sheets, quilts, and comforters come in! i got this trick from mary and it’s wonderful. great storage and i’m recycling. it’s a win win!

haven’t bought any new sheets or quilts lately? beg and borrow from friends and family! or you can buy then on eBay. and ziploc makes them and target selling them!

my yarn is now “hidden” in plain sight all over the house! open the closet in the master bedroom and where you might store shoes, i’ve got yarn! yep, there’s the fingering weight! go into the guestroom and next to the sheets, pillowcases and other linens stored in a build-in cabinet is sport weight, lace weight and worsted/aran!

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every morning i get to look at my beautiful yarn stash while picking out my clothes for the day!

and i don’t have it organized by fiber or color. instead i have each bag labeled with weight name. if i have more than one bag of a weight (hello, fingering) then i give it a number. did you know you can add a location to your stash yarn in ravelry?

speaking of ravelry! i’m all the time singing it’s praises but let me show you how wonderful it really is! my stash is an investment and if i don’t know what i have or where it is, then i can’t use it!

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screen shot of my stash in ravelry

while i owned the shop, i was really lazy with my personal ravelry. i hardly ever added yarn to my ravelry stash. this is how i bought 3 skeins of the same yarn in the same color way from 3 different shops! but it’s all in ravelry now! so when i’m shopping i can just look on my phone and see what i have. no more repeat buying unless i want to. and if i’m searching ravelry for a new project, it will recommend yarn i have in my stash for the project i’m looking at! how cool is that?!?!?!?

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here are my recommendations for the quick and dirty ravelry stashing.

  • do it front of the tv with your iPad. it won’t feel like such a chore if you are entertained while doing data entry!
  • do ONLY the following fields –
    • yarn name
    • company name
    • colorway (don’t have the tag, use the handy drop down to get the color recorded)
    • number of skeins

but make sure you do the photos! that’s why the iPad is so handy! snap them right there in ravelry! the photo doesn’t have to be professional. just clear and bright! most of mine are taken on my lap desk right on the keyboard.

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quick & dirty stash photo for ravelry

now i’m ready to get knitting and use all this great yarn i’ve collected over the past few years!

wanna take a look at my stash on ravelry, then CLICK HERE to take a look!

happy knitting! (and stashing!)

h.

yarn crawling

this year i actually got to participate in the ARKANSAS YARN CRAWL! my friend betsy and i drove up to northwest arkansas last thursday to check out HAND HELD KNITTING (fayetteville) and MOCKINGBIRD MOON (rogers)!

hand held knitting is in this wonderful yellow house right off dickson street! the proprietor cynthia is as friendly as any yarn shop owner i’ve ever meet (and i’ve met a few)! and she has this gorgeous long white hair that i would kill for!

she has a wonderful selection of yarns and her shop models are incredible. i was super excited to see koigu, frabjous fibers cheshire cat, and tons of manos del uruguay! i picked up a few skeins of juniper moon herriot in a very dark grey, a skein of manos allegria, and three balls of lousia harding mulberry! i have no idea what i’m going to make with the mulberry but it’s 100% silk and at 75% off, it was coming home with me!

after a quick lunch at the dirty apron bakehouse, we headed up the road to rogers and mockingbird moon. y’all this shop is one of my favorites in arkansas and loralee, the owner, knows her yarn! she carries a huge variety but she has a few of my all time favorites – blue sky fibers, hedgehog, and brown sheep!

i stocked up on brown sheep nature spun sport weight. it’s my favorite fair isle wool! yes, i really like to better than jamison! i know that’s blasphemy. but there is just something about brown sheep! and it’s american made! i think she may be the only shop in arkansas to carry it!

and don’t you just love the button! loralee’s daughter (who designs fabric) created this amazing sheep and they created a button just for crawlers. plus in addition to getting your passport stamped, for every $10 spent you got a raffle ticket to enter into a drawing for the mockingbird moon raffle items. she had about 2 dozen prizes to chose from and you got to decide which prize you wanted a chance to win! i got 5 tickets so i let them ride on one prize! increased my chances right!

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we sat and knitted for a little while at mockingbird moon! betsy got asked everywhere (including by the girl at the table next to us at lunch) about her sweater! yes, she knit it and the pattern is T-SHAWL by jacqueline kilmartin. the yarn is plymouth yarn taria tweed.

we wanted to make it to eureka springs as well but there just wasn’t time. i don’t see how crawlers made it to all 9 shops last year in a day (and I think a few did)! so betsy suggested an overnight girl trip in the spring to check out what eureka has to offer yarn-wise! sounds like a plan to me!

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we left rogers at about 3pm and we thought we would try to make KNIT 2 TOGETHER in russellville. so we flew down the hill and made it about 10 minutes before closing! she has a ton of noro and some wonderful hand-dyes that i’d only ever heard of – never touched! i was excited to see ARKANSAS YARN CO. i’ve followed lorri ann helberg on social media but i hadn’t seen her yarn in person before! yes it is as wonderful as you think it will be!

betsy commented that we spent more time in the car than out of it but it was a wonderful day! good friends on a road trip to explore arkansas yarn shops! doesn’t get much better than that!

happy knitting!

h.

be a confident knitter

take my fix-it class this sunday (october 22nd) from 1:30 to 4:30 at THE TWISTED PURL in conway!

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i get asked all the time about fixing mistakes. and it is easier than you think. it just takes a little practice on a swatch you don’t care about and voila! you’re fixing your own mistakes.

in this class i’ll teach you

  • how to know your stitches
  • how to pick up dropped stitches in garter, stockinette, and ribbed stitch
  • how to turn a backward stitch around
  • how to make a accidental yarn over disappear (or appear)
  • how to use a life line to save you heartache and frustration

with this tricks and tips, you’ll save yourself from a lot of ripping!

PRE-WORK REQUIRED: you must 3 swatches before class so you will be able to practice the tips and tricks i’m teaching!

call cyndi today (501.339.8832) to get our spot & your pre-work handout!

poldark is back!

i love masterpiece on pbs. and not just downton abbey. i love them all – the classics, the mysteries, the contemporaries.  and others do to because every time a new show starts on masterpiece, ravelry is flooded with new projects inspired by these shows.

are you watching poldark? i didn’t watch it the first time they did it (1970s). i don’t think that i was old enough. but i’m loving it this time.

look at these patterns!

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demelza’s song

look at this shawl, demelza’s song by kalurah hudson. knit out of a worsted weight yarn. i’ve got some jojoland splatter dash that might be just the thing! this shawl would be great for this fall/winter. simple design. great yarn. elegant look.

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demelza

wanna challenge yourself? lace with fingering/sock yarn. since sock yarn doesn’t count in your stash i’m cover there! someone told me once that sock didn’t count in your total stash count and that was all i needed to buy sock yarn! like i needed more help! i say it all the time – lace is not that hard. and if you are using fingering weight yarn, it take half the fear out of it. (lace weight yarn is half the fear!)

 

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demelza

 

or play with cables and beautiful yarn with a light halo! this yarn has a little mohair or angora in it and gives a nice softness to the cables. i won’t normally recommend yarn with a halo for cables (you want good stitch definition for cables) but it really works here.

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poldark

i could resist these gloves! so yummy! i’m talking about the yarn! get your mind out of the gutter!

happy knitting. & watching!

h.

me knitter then versus me knitter now

if you are on ravelry (and if you aren’t you should be), then you might have a queue of patterns that you plan on making in your lifetime (or many lifetimes).

i have 46 patterns in my personal queue on ravelry.com. i know some will have more. but these are patterns that i fell in love with at first sight. some are from my early days of knitting and others are when i wanted to be challenged by some technique. a hand full are actual patterns that i have the actual yarn to do the project!

one of those early patterns is clapotis! when i started knitting back in ’04, i would pour over knitting magazines trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible! then i got my invite to ravelry (remember those!) and i discovered kate gilbert.

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kate gilbert is a pattern designer who was leaving in paris with her french husband when she designed clapotis! maybe it was the bright colored yarn or the french bistro where the photograph was taken but i wanted to make this pattern!

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it required 820 yarns of silk/wool blend. in those days, anything more than 250 yards seemed like an insane amount of yarn! and at this point i wouldn’t dare make a substitution. the original was knit with lorna’s laces lion and lamb. so i trooped over to the YARN mart (this was long before i ever thought i would own it!) no lorna’s laces there!

so off to the internet. i think jimmy bean wool might have been the only online place i could find it and at $40 per skein… “$120 for a shawl! that’s crazy!” that’s my ’04 self with sticker shock! i stuck it in the queue and waited.

about a year ago i posted about clapotis on the YARN mart blog. i challenged folks to knit clapotis with me or find their own clapotis! i grabbed 2 ball of ella rae lace merino and got started. so much has changed in a year! no more the YARN mart! no more having to knit what will sell yarn! now i knit for me now!

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when i closed the shop, i loaded all my UFOs into my SCOUT  basket and brought it home.  i did an initial purge. do i still want to knit this? what was i thinking with this? i’m never gonna finish this – ever!!!  i think we all have tub or closet or drawer like this!

in this mess, i rediscovered by clapotis! i’m about 1/2 way through! time to finish it! i just gotta finish it! the amazing thing is that i still love clapotis. 13 years later i still love this shawl! what knitting pattern can you say that about?

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so just like a year ago, i challenge you to go find your clapotis! what pattern did you fall in love with when you started knitting or first discovered ravelry? do you still love it but never cast on? well go do it! but don’t forget to share! let us know what pattern, what pattern, what inspired you!!!

happy knitting.

h.

 

knitted knockers

yep you heard me right! knitted knockers!

boobies! ta-tas! jugs! whatever you call them, as women, we’ve got them (or had them at one time)! and as we all know october is breast cancer awareness month. so why not knit some knockers for someone who has had their rack betray them!

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there’s this great organization called KNITTED KNOCKERS! you can go to their website to find out how to knit a knocker, where to send your knocker, or how to get a knocker!

you can crochet them or knit them! (no hook discrimination here!) you can magic loop them or dpn them or knit them flat! you can even loom them if you are so inclined! but just please use the PATTERNS provided by knitted knockers!

and don’t (PLEASE DON’T) make them out of acrylic! think about it? would you want to wear non-breathing, heat radiating acrylic next your skin for hours a day! TRUST ME THE ANSWER IS A BIG FAT NO!!! even the softest modern acrylic is a big NO!

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so pay attention to the KNITTED KNOCKERS APPROVED YARN list! cotton, pima cotton in particular, looks to be almost always a winner. and there are some great options sold at the local yarn shops around the state.* mockingbird moon in rogers is having a KNITTED KNOCKERS WORKSHOP saturday, october 14th from 10:30-12:30 (during the ARKANSAS YARN CRAWL)!

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what i love most about knitted knockers? you can do whatever color you want! i mean, yes, they can  be life like (flesh color and nipple color). but why have something you were born with when you can have any color under the rainbow. make them psychedelic or speckled or neon! have the nipples bright yellow and the body variegated purple! take all your yarn scraps (only approved fibers please!) and make a crazy, technicolor dream knocker!

so help a gal out! knit a knocker for someone! you never know when you are going to need one yourself!

happy knitting!

h.

*why don’t you pick some up during the ARKANSAS YARN CRAWL October 13th through 22nd?!?!?!

but the pattern must be wrong… (right?)

i really screwed up a project last week! it was a shawl and i knitted all the increase/decreases the wrong way. the fabric was supposed to be on the bias so this was a real problem. i didn’t read the instructions correctly and i used the wrong set of instructions. and for a split second i thought “but the pattern must be wrong!” Right? WRONG!

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when i knitted margethea a few years back i did the body in garter instead of stockinette because i was having a backward day!

i mean there can be mistakes or typos in patterns. or a pattern can be vague (which a lot of knitting patterns are unfortunately). or a pattern can include techniques/methods you are not familiar with but usually (9 times out of 10) it is the knitter who is wrong! sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it’s true.

i’ve said for years that if i think i’ve found a mistake in a pattern, just go to ravelry and find out how wrong you are. i think maybe twice i have gone to ravelry, looked at other knitter’s comments and found that someone else in the massive knitting universe had the same problem i did with the pattern in question. the majority of the time what i do find is that other people have a problem that i completely missed or didn’t see as problem. (and no i don’t know how it came out right!)

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the head hole on this sweater for will was WAY too small because i didn’t do the decreases and bind-off that the pattern instructed!

and i’m here to tell you, different people think about things in different ways. that’s one of the great things i love about knitting. there are dozens of ways to cast-on, bind-off, increase, decrease, etc. the list goes on and on. there is no way that a pattern designer can think of all the ways a knitter is going to read their pattern.

if you need the pattern to be right – completely right – here are some tips to help ensure you get a good pattern.

  • pay for patterns on ravelry – if a designer is charging for the pattern, then they have most likely vetted the instructions, had test knitters knit the item, had a another set of eyes on the pattern. not always the case but most of the time it is true!
  • check out what others have said about the pattern on ravelry – did a lot of folks have the same comments about problems with the pattern? buyer beware. or be prepared to struggle with or fight through the pattern.
  • pick a tried and true pattern – have thousands of people knitted this pattern with happy results? then the pattern is probably a good one! please avoid patterns that have less than 5 projects or were just published unless it is designer who has other successful projects/patterns.
  • beware of published patterns – one of weirdest things is that magazine and books patterns are often wrong. with press deadlines, shortcuts are taken. or the publisher has left out key notes to save space. if you fall in love with a pattern in a  book or magazine, go to ravelry and see what others have said. if it is super new, what a year and see what people have said.
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this is february lady sweater attempt #1 (exception to pay for pattern rule) and i couldn’t get the increases right. thanks to fellow ravelers who wrote notes that they had that problem too. and the ravelers who made a online calculator that could give you increase instructions for your specific pattern and stitch count!

and most importantly…

if you come across a pattern that was confusing or weird, you are probably not the only person who thought that. email the designer with your question. post in the project notes in your notebook on ravelry so others who have the same problem might learn from your confusion. we are all here to learn from each other. don’t be afraid to raise your hand!

happy knitting!
h.

smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em

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for years i’ve said that knitting is cheaper than therapy. if you are feeling down, or had a long, hard day at work, or your family is driving you a little crazier than normal, yarn and needles in your hands can make it all a little better!

and it is not just in our heads! science has proven that something really changes in the brain when we’re knitting! the yarn harlot does a whole talk about it! apparently the feel-good brain chemicals get going when we’re knitting and it is just like any other addiction! we are hooked!! (well maybe i should say we’re needled cause hooks are for crochet! but you get the idea!)

and we have dealers (your LYS owner or your favorite hand-dyer). and we have enablers (our husbands, children, or friends). and we have fellow addicts.

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yummy hand-dyed recently spied at THE TWISTED PURL

these fellow addicts are the only people who truly understand our obsession with knitting and yarn. the social knitter, much like the social smoker, cannot truly understand the bliss we get from a wonderful yarn sliding through our fingers as we knit a row or two. i used to stay that smoking was my one true vice and that is why it was so hard to give it up. i was a really good smoker!!!

but i did give it up! or maybe i just traded smoking in for a healthier habit?

yarn collecting (cause let’s admit it – that’s what i do) is just as expensive! have you seen the price of cigarettes lately??? and yarn is just as addictive. although you do have something to show for it at the end!

when i smoked i used to cobble together enough money to get a pack of cigarettes (especially the day before payday). and sometimes i feel the same way when i’m in a yarn shop and money is tight but i just have to have it! i check my credit card balance and see if i have enough money to make the purchase or think about what holiday is coming up so i can say “this is for my birthday!”

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and the ARKANSAS YARN CRAWL is another great reason to collect some new yarn. this year it’s october 13th through 22nd and 8 shops from arkadelphia to eureka are participating. (i’ll be teaching a fix-it class on sunday, october 15 at THE TWISTED PURL!)  what a great way to see our great state and add to your collection!

so look under the sofa cushions or car floor mats or wherever else you might find some change! grab your mad money and get ready for next month’s big statewide yarn event!

happy knitting.

h.

 

that 2nd stitch…

do you know about the 2nd stitch?

so when you are working in magic loop or on dpns, ladders appear between the needles.

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wanna know how to avoid these ladders?

it’s all in the 2nd stitch.

as you move from one needle to the other, knit the 1st stitch on the new needles just as you would any other time. then when you enter the 2nd stitch give the working yarn a little extra tug!

voila!!! snug and tight!

problem solved!

happy knitting!

h.