Thursday, January 28, 2016

Today's Tip: Double your Yarn, Double Your Fun!

Why Double Your Yarn?

Have lots of fingering weight stash, but want to knit warm cozy hats? Read on for a solution!

Sometimes you may want to knit a piece that calls for a heavier yarn than what you  may have on hand. Or perhaps you have lots of stash of beautiful lightweight yarn that you want to use, but it’s not right for the pattern you want to make.

For example, I got it into my head to make cozy slippers for my grandkids, son, and daughter-in-law, after seeing a cute pattern, and I wanted to make them out of bulky yarn.

Surprise, out of all the hundreds of yarns in my stash, there is very little in bulky weight. It’s about two-thirds fingering weight. Probably because, living in California, I have no need for heavy knits.
So I did some research to find out more about doubling up yarn so that you can use lighter weights of yarn to substitute for a heavier yarn.

This is what I found. Remember it's always wise to make a gauge swatch, because even among several fingering weight or sport weight yarns, there is some variation. They're not all the same. 

But having said that, there are some guidelines.
The following are approximate; however, as with all substitutions, you should check to make sure you're happy with the gauge. 
First Method 
Proceed as follows:
2 strands fingering = one strand sport weight
2 strands sport = one strand worsted weight
2 strands DK = one strand bulky
2 strands worsted = one strand bulky to super bulky weight*
*2 strands of a lighter worsted yarn held together may approximate the thickness of a chunky or bulky yarn, while 2 strands of a heavier worsted weight yarn held together may come close to the thickness of a super bulky yarn.

Second Method
You can also use a simple calculation:
Take the regular gauge of a yarn, e.g. 7 sts per inch or 28 sts for 4 inches for a heavy-ish sock yarn and multiply it by 70% (or 0.7).
7 sts per inch x 0.7 = 4.9 sts per inch
This will give you an approximate idea of the gauge you can achieve when doubling the yarn up.  So if you hold 2 sock-weight yarns together, you will be able to get a gauge of 4.5 to 5 sts per inch or 18-20 sts for 4 inches. 

Just remember it's always a good idea to do a gauge swatch. Not only to see if the gauge comes out right, but to check that you like the look of the fabric: not too stiff, not too drapey for your purposes. We don't want winter hats with huge holes in them, or sweaters so stiff they stand up by themselves!

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P.S. Here is some pretty yarn to look at, from The Flying Kettle yarns.

Sources: Lion Brand website, TinCanKnits blog 

New Projects

Here is one of my new designs. The Contender Hat is a cozy cabled hat that can be made in a masculine color to suit one of the men in your life, or can be knitted just for you!  It needs just one skein of 100g of DK weight yarn. It was featured in the 2015 Men in Knitwear Calendar.

Mr September is a knockout. To keep warm during training sessions he sports a handsome hat featuring an unusual garter cable on a background of cushy warm garter stitch.
The ribbed border is long enough to be turned up for extra w

The hat can be made in a slouchy style if desired.
Pattern is both written and charted and has been professionally tech-edited, for a more pleasant knitting experience. 

More of my designs can be found HERE, if you're looking for something to knit with your doubled yarn. :-)

Current Knitting 

I'm working on a new design - here's a sneak peek.
This is the same yarn you see above in the 2 yarn cakes. Isn't it pretty?
It's going to be on display at Stitches West (Santa Clara Convention Center Feb. 19-21, 2016) at The Altered Stitch booth. Come and see it!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Meet Clare Devine!

Today I'm happy to introduce the lovely Clare Devine, a wonderful designer with a gorgeous new hat collection called the Tea Collection. She is one of the many designers participating the Indie GiftALong for 2015.  She has a beautiful blog too.
Flexor by Clare Devine
Chamomile by Clare Devine
Lapsang by Clare Devine

Here is my interview with Clare.

What is your favorite part of the design process?

I love dreaming up ideas and choosing yarn – there is nothing that beats the creative frenzy of being in a yarn shop with a new design idea and weighing up all the possible options. I also really enjoy putting the pattern together, crunching the numbers and making sure the pattern is as clear as it can be.

What items do you most like to knit, wear and design?

I really enjoy knitting a range of things. This year I have been on a garment kick when it comes to personal knitting. I wanted some really great hand made pieces in my wardrobe and so far have knitted a new tank top, a sweater and a cardigan. Given how much work knitting I do this is not bad going.  I also love to knit socks and hats, they are also some of my favourite items to wear in the colder months. I don’t do cold well so cold feet or ears are out of the question.

In the warmer months I really love shawls and plan on making some beautiful linen shawls in the coming months for my new sunny home in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tell me about your favourite yarns. Fibres, blends, brands, colours, processing, origin ….

This really depends on what I am making. I used to be about the soft yarn (I think many newer knitters are) but these days I love thinking about different breeds and how they might work with stitch patterns or how they might wear over time. Through my design work I have been experimenting with lots of different fibres – this is one of my favourite parts of working in the fibre industry, it is my job to experiment with amazing yarn.  I have a real soft spot for linen too! It is not always the kindest fibre on my wrists but I love the fabric it creates. Perfect for my tendency to prefer hot summer days over cold winter mornings.

What is your most used knitting tool or accessory?

The humble lockable stitch marker. I love them and almost always have one attached to the belt loops on my jeans – you never know when you might need one. They are incredibly handy. Perfect for marking stitch repeats, marking rows or a specific point in a pattern and catching dropped stitches etc.

What have you got on your needles at the moment?

I have a few things on the needles for me at the moment. The Aoraki hat from Libby Jonson and I plan to cast on a Pinglewin from Anna Maltz for my little girl. There are so many amazing patterns out there at the moment. One that I really love and hope to be casting on soon is Sailing by Meg Gadsbey / AtelierMeg

You can find me on the web in these spots … Blog at 

Get a lovely free pattern on Newsletter sign up .

On Ravelry as ClareDevine

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Project Bags, and Starting a Test Knit.

Did you know I have an Etsy shop where I sell project bags?
I just added some Christmas themed ones (The Grinch that Stole Christmas).

Hope you like them!!
They are sturdy, and are firm enough to stand up when you're using them. High quality print fabrics are used both for the outside and the coordinating linings. Have a look!

Test Knit - Sorcerers Stripe Scarf or Cowl

If you would like to know when the pattern is released or to be advised of future tests, just let me know.

Seeking testers to test my pattern and create a handsome scarf or cowl using a unique stitch in DK or worsted weight yarn, any fiber. Should be soft enough to wear against the skin.

See more pics and details here.

This pattern produces tiles of horizontal and vertical stripes - which are reversible. The horizontal stripes become vertical stripes on the other side. It uses ribbing and slipped stitches, nothing complicated!
It's fully reversible and would be great knit in team or school colors!
The cowl will be knitted flat then sewn together to form a loop. For a scarf you leave the ends un-attached.
It uses about 270 yds /246m of each color.
Get all the info and sign up here.

If you can’t test right now and would like to know when pattern is released or to be advised of future tests, just let me know.

Testers who complete on time will get the final version of the pattern, plus an additional free pattern from my Ravelry Store, as a thank-you .

P.S. I haven't quite finished knitting the scarf, but I think you can see where it is going :-)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Interview with the Talented and Awesome Romi Hill; Book Review and Giveaway



Romi Hill has long been a design idol of mine.  Her Waves of Grain wrap, from Knitty 2008, is the first lace project I knit.  She is who I want to be when I grow up, as a designer! 
So, when I had the opportunity to interview her, on the occasion of the publication of her newest book, I jumped at it.

Interweave/F+W; $24.99

courtesy Interweave/F+W

1. What led you to publish this book?
I wanted to spread my love of lace as far and wide as I could, and enable potential lace knitters! I've done quite a few electronically delivered patterns, both eBooks and single patterns, and I know that I am missing a huge group of people who aren't necessarily online as much as I am. Also, there are still tons of people out there who are online a lot, but still love holding paper in their hands and putting it on their bookshelves. I'm one of those people, actually. I have my collection of favorite knitting books, and I wanted to create something that could sit happily on that special shelf, in hopes that others would feel the same way. I set out to create a collection of classic wearable designs, worthy of being kept and knitted season after season.
2. How would you describe your style?
Hmmmmmm. I guess I'd say classic, with a twist. I love classic construction and tailoring, but I also really enjoy mixing up that classic look with my own details. I love to put an extra little something special into each design. What's really funny to me is that people say they can recognize my designs, but I don't necessarily see it!
3. What makes a design work?
You won't let me get away with “I just know it when I see it,” right? Ha! But seriously.... I think a clothing design needs to be wearable and aesthetically appealing. When you put it on, you should look in the mirror and feel great. It should emphasize what you feel are your strong points and de-emphasize what you feel are your weak points. The elements comprising the design need to play well together and create synergy, and the finishing details need to create a polished overall look. It can be an amazing design, but if it is finished poorly, that's all I can ever see. Last, clothing designs need to look great on a 3-dimensional body, instead of just looking great when laid flat.
4. What is your process like; i.e. what steps do you follow to create a design?
This is the toughest question that I am ever asked; it really varies! Though it always starts with an inspiration. Often a special yarn will tell me what it wants to be. Sometimes I will see an amazing sunset and think the clouds create a gorgeous pattern. Sometimes I will see a building, painting or artwork and it inspires me. Sometimes I see a piece of commercial clothing and find myself picking it apart into elements I think work and ones I think don't work, and before I know it, I have redesigned the whole thing. Sometimes I am looking through my stitch dictionaries and imagine the stitches coming together to create a piece.
After that initial inspiration, I set about sketching on paper and engineering in my head. I make notes about the structure of the piece, and work on making the design pleasurable to knit. I think knitwear occupies an interesting space. It is fashion, but it is also a hobby. Because of this, each piece must satisfy the two important tests of looking great and being pleasurable to create. There are actually a lot of designs I don't pursue because I think they are needlessly difficult or confusing to knit compared to the end result. I try to look at each piece in a holistic way. I ask myself if the yarn will be wonderful to work with, and if the piece will be wearable for many seasons. If I am designing a garment (sweater, skirt), I work on making it a flattering shape for the body, and a yarn that will stand up to wear and still look great.
And I swatch and block, swatch and block! I let my swatches sit around for days and sometimes even hang them up with weights so I can tell how a larger piece might act after being worn.
5. How do you know when a design will be successful, or do you ever know?
To be honest, I never really know. I am often surprised at the pieces that become very successful. It used to lead to many sessions trying to puzzle out what the magic was! In the end, I have just decided to please myself. Sometimes the design becomes successful and sometimes not, but at least I know I've done my best and am happy with the result.
6. Which are some of your favorite designs - ones you're just in love with?
This sounds like cheerleading, but I'm really happy with the designs in my new book! I'm in love with Talus, Williwaw, and Salt Grass. I get a geeky joy out of the fact that Salt Grass is basically a top down lace gansey; I even blocked it on a woolly board! I also really love the Virginia City Cloche and Cowl. Other pieces I love (not in the book): Red Freckles, Miswis, MadroƱa, and Fuchsia Nouveau Petite shawls. And my Leyfi sweater. The one I wear most often, though, is Trieste. It's a mohair and silk triangle that is almost always with me when it's chilly out. I keep it balled up in my bag.
7. Finally, what are you working on right now that has you excited?
I'm working on an eBook subscription: 7 Small Shawls, Year 5. The theme this year is asymmetry and I am having SO much fun delving into all the ways something can be asymmetrical. Beyond the obvious, there are actually even some stitch patterns that look symmetrical but are really asymmetrical in the way the pattern is created, like Frost Flowers. The possibilities are endless! I'm also working on some pieces for Bare Naked Wools that I'm really excited about.

Thank you so much for having me as a guest!

Romi, it was great getting to know you better!
  * * *

Book Review

This is a review of Rosemary Hill's new book called New Lace Knitting - Designs for Wide Open Spaces. 
Rosemary has created a book of cohesive lace designs that incorporate some common lace motifs, but use them in new and unexpected ways. Romi starts her book with a few basic rules. These include information on making and using a swatch, making sure to use good yarn and needles, keeping your cast-ons and bind-offs loose, ways to track your lace repeats, reading charts, reading your knitting, and blocking your piece when it's done. 
Romi is famous for her gorgeous Lace shawls, however, in this book she also includes sweaters and other accessories. As a master of lace design, Rosemary does not disappoint. 
A few of my favorite designs that stand out - Talus Cardigan,  a two color design using feather and fan; Manzanita Tee (the cover photo) - a pretty top, with a flattering lace yoke; and Fallen Leaf, an interesting shell with a graceful cowl neck. The skirt called Hope Valley, surprised me, as I usually don't like knitted skirts; this one in a denim yarn looks wearable and elegant. I also like the Aspen Gold Scarf and the Crystal Bay shawl..  The Chinquapin wrap is worked in worsted weight yarn, with an interesting fringe treatment.
Talus Cardigan
Hope Valley

Chinquapin Wrap
The intermediate to accomplished lace knitter will find items in this book to challenge and excite them. It's a worthwhile investment for many hours of knitting enjoyment.


You can win this pattern collection! Comment here on the blog saying which of the patterns is your favorite, in order to enter a giveaway for the book.

Please be sure that you sign up for my newsletter, if you haven’t already done so, in order to be eligible to win (you can sign up in the upper right hand corner of this blog).  Make sure you give me an email address or Ravelry ID, so I can reach you if you win, and confirm you're signed up for the newsletter. The drawing will be on Nov. 7.
See you next time!