Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why Does Seville have a Skein of Yarn in its Flag?

On a visit to Seville, Spain, a few years ago, I couldn’t help but notice banners fluttering from the lamp posts that featured what was  - unmistakably – a skein of yarn. 

 I pointed it out to my husband, a Spanish speaker, and asked him to explain it to me.  Maybe there was a knitting festival in town? (Hope springs eternal). He shrugged his shoulders – it was a mystery to him. 

This symbol was found on many signs around the city, from taxis and buses to sewer covers.

In the course of our vacation we made our way to the City Hall and there was an elaborate coat of arms and logo there:

There was a plaque telling the story behind this intriguing symbol. Legend says that it originates from the 13th-century coat of arms awarded to Sevilla by King Alfonso X the Wise. He bestowed it in gratitude for Seville´s support in his battles against his son, Sancho IV of Castile, who wanted to usurp his father´s throne during the Reconquest. 

Between the "NO" and "DO" is a skein of wool (“madeja” is Spanish for “skein”). Add the three together, speaking in Seville´s characteristic accent, and you have “no-madeja-do”; more correctly, “no me ha dejado” which means “She (the city of Seville) has not abandoned me”.  

The motto was his reward to the people of Seville for their loyalty. 

So cool, right?

See you next time!

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Designs - Buy 2, Get the 3rd for Free


I have new patterns in the Ravelry Store! Are you thinking about fall? Maybe some gift knitting?
First is the Diamonds Forever Hat.

Here's a pic with a model (somehow it looks like it's falling off her head, am I right?), and here's one with me.

This appealing hat features easy knit and purl textured stitches and a pop of color at the edges. The hat can be made beanie style or slouchy, and it sports an optional pom-pom for fun. The hat is worked in the round with a cast-on that blends into the pattern on the body of the item.
Knit in a sport weight, this hat is perfect for chilly weather.

Here's the matching Cowl:

Here are a pair of legwarmers that match the hat and cowl shown above:
Diamonds Forever Legwarmers

It uses the same texture stitch, just knits and purls to create the design, with a pop of bright color for fun.

Best of all, if you put all 3 in your cart, you'll only pay for 2. No coupon required!

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Friday, August 4, 2017

10 Things Knitters Get Wrong (Even Me!)

10 Things Knitters Get Wrong

Even if you’ve been knitting for a while, there are lots of new things to learn – not just specific techniques like the brioche stitch, or reading charts – there are YouTube videos and classes for those – but practices that might be called “managing your knitting”.
These help ensure that you have an enjoyable time with your knitting, and that you are delighted with the result.
After several decades of knitting, and a few unsuccessful projects among all the happy ones, I have learned a thing or two. 
So here are 10 things knitters get wrong that interfere with a happy experience. And, I’ve made most of these mistakes myself!
1.    Don't read the pattern all the way through to see that you understand the techniques, and construction. Make sure the pattern is within your capabilities, or includes techniques that you would like to learn. Do you like set-in sleeves or do you prefer raglan style? Read the pattern to see which one is used.
2.    Skip the Gauge Swatch, just wing it. Sorry, it might seem tiresome when all you want to do is cast on something new (we’ve all been there), but a swatch can tell you a lot of information besides simply whether you’re “getting gauge”. It can show you the drape, or feel, of the knitted fabric, how well the yarn works with this stitch pattern, and even whether you really like this stitch pattern after all. You might decide you hate working miles of seed stitch.

3.    Ignore the schematic that tells you how big each piece should be. Is your sweater looking unusually big?  Check early and often how it compares to the schematic; don’t wait till you're finished to find out!
Summer Top in Merino Wool
4.    Don’t pay attention to matching the right yarn to the pattern. I once knit a sleeveless summer top in merino wool. What was I thinking? When would I ever wear it? Maybe cotton or linen would have been a better pairing.  How about a brightly variegated yarn for delicate lace socks? You can't appreciate either the yarn or the lace. A solid or semi-solid would work better. When in doubt, it’s usually best to follow the guidance provided by the designer in the pattern. 

5.    Don’t think about how you will wear the finished piece. Do you love to knit shawls but never wear them? Do you knit bright colored pieces, but in your wardrobe you stick with mainly neutrals? Think about knitting something that you will actually use; you’ll have the satisfaction of wearing something you made with your own hands – it’s a great feeling.
Extra Long Sleeves
6.    Don’t check your own (or other’s) measurements. You really need to know your measurements before making a garment. This is important for choosing which size to make, and for planning any adjustments. It’s best to revisit them every year or so, in case (ahem) some things have shifted. Don’t just choose size Medium because you always do. For kids’ clothing, take into account growth patterns; make sleeves a little long, for example, so that they don’t outgrow it too quickly.

7.    Don’t worry about caring for your knitted piece. Are you (or the recipient of your gift knitting) up for constant hand washing? Do they even know the item needs hand washing? (How would you even manage it for a large afghan – in a bathtub?) If you're not confident that the lucky recipient of your gift will lovingly hand wash it every time, For the Love of All That is Holy, make the item out of machine washable yarn. This is a pretty good idea for any children's wear too -- the kid's mother will thank you. After all, it’s you they’ll come crying to, when the piece has irretrievably felted to baby size after being machine-washed in hot water.
8.    Don’t consider the preferences of the person you’re knitting for.  People generally have favorite colors; I’ve noticed that quite a few men I know are especially particular about the colors that they will wear. Don't knit orange socks for a man who only wears navy blue or black. Recently, I was about to knit a pink sweater for my granddaughter, when I found out (just in time) that her favorite color is now teal!
9.    Don’t think about climate. Try to make sure the wearer of your knitted item will enjoy the piece you're making for them. If they live in a warm climate, stay away from heavy cabled sweaters and cowls, think instead of socks or a light shawl.
10. Don’t be concerned with the yarn texture or content. Take into account whether you or the eventual user of the piece will be receptive to a “rustic” yarn or will they find it too itchy and put it aside. The same goes for mohair, or particular fibers that people may be allergic to.

How about you? Do you have any knitting no-no's to add to the list? Do you have any knitting mishaps to share?  Please comment below!

To sum up, choose the right pattern for your needs or your lifestyle, choose the right yarn to go with that pattern, make sure the pattern is within your capabilities, or includes techniques that you would like to learn. Make sure that the finished garment will be usable either by yourself, or by the recipient, in terms of style, color and fit. Make sure the color, yarn choice and pattern style is suitable for the recipient.
Happy Knitting!

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Giveaway - Classic Knit Shawls, and a new Project Bag.

*** Winner of the Giveaway is Rachel McKinney ****
This is a review of Classic Knit Shawls, 20 Timeless Designs featuring Lace, Cables,and More, from Interweave Press. This book is a new collection of shawl patterns that have been previously published. 

If you read Interweave Knits magazine, or have browsed through some Interweave books, some of these patterns might seem familiar. But that doesn't matter, because the editors have done a great job of collecting a wide variety of techniques and shapes and skill levels, so that anyone who wants to knit a shawl will find several items to please them.  

The Collection includes different shapes, a variety of yarns, and various construction methods. Some are lacy, some are striped, some are in garter stitch. 
If you've always wanted to try a different shape from the classic triangle shape, you will find plenty of options here. There are classic Shetland shawls, new modern styles and shapes, and some that don't feature lace at all. Truly there is something for everyone.

Here are a few that I really enjoyed looking at:  Grand Army Plaza shawl by Melissa Wehrle  This one is a lovely crescent shape with plenty of open lace work. It looks very drapey and easy to wear.  

The Galax shawl has a wide curved shape with a sideways edging. It’s the one on the cover.   

It's also very pretty and I think can be very versatile in the way you wear it - draped around the shoulders to form a shape that looks like a cowl, or hanging down.

There is one shawl that doesn’t use lace – instead it’s adorned with cables. It's called The Return Journey Shawl.  If you're not so fond of lace, this one has a beautiful cable design to provide the interest. It's a very gentle triangle shape that looks really good worn a number of different ways.

Another one I liked was the Lale Shawl. This one is worked in DK weight yarn, so it's more substantial and a quicker knit than some of the others. It features a pretty lace trim. 

This book is perfect for someone who loves to knit shawls and wants to try something different. There are plenty of options and loads of new techniques to try. 

Interweave has done its usual good job with beautiful photography, comprehensive and clear instructions for special stitches or techniques, and a very appealing layout.
If you are a shawl lover, you will enjoy this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from F+W Media.

Now for the giveaway information. If you post a comment on this blog entry stating which pattern is your favorite, and sign up for my newsletter, you will be entered into a giveaway to win your own copy of this book, plus I might just throw in a skein of beautiful yarn from my large stash

Be sure to give a Ravelry ID, or an email address -- or even your Instagram handle will do -- so that if you win I have a way to contact you! Don't forget

I will select a name in 2 weeks time, on July 24.


Project Bags!

I have to show my latest bag, for sale in my Etsy shop.  The Medium sized (or Large) Project bag is made from high quality fabric from the famous Marimekko fabric company. I bought this fabric myself to make drapes and I had leftover fabric :-) 

Choose Drawstring or Zipper style

This bag is designed with your hectic life in mind. It lets you knit wherever you are: as a passenger in the car, on a plane, in a doctor's waiting room - anywhere. It easily holds up 4 full 100g balls of yarn (Medium) or 7 balls (Large), plus your work in progress.

The convenient size holds most small and medium sized projects - or large projects, with the Large size bag. It has interfacing for firmness so the bag stands up nicely. 
Treat yourself to something durable, convenient and pretty. You'll enjoy the beautiful print as you work away with this attractive bag.

Perfect for gifts, travel, and many other uses!
Protect your work from pets, dust, and kids.
For a limited time, use code GOODSTUFF5 to get $5.00 off your purchase.

That's all for today! See you all next time.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to stay informed of future giveaways, knitting tips, test knits, and pattern news.