Category Archives: Tutorials

Fall 2013 Knit Along – Amy Herzog Designs

Last year, many of you joined us for our “Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting” KAL and some of you completed your very first sweaters. This year, let’s take it to the next level and achieve a perfectly fitting sweater.

Amy Herzog is passionate about helping women create well fitting sweaters. Her Fit to Flatter blog series was immediately a huge hit in the knitting world when she wrote it in 2010. Soon after releasing the tutorials, she started offering classes at yarn shops teaching knitters how to determine their body shape and create well-fitting sweaters. Earlier this year she released the hugely anticipated book, Knit to Flatter, which includes all of the incredibly useful information from her blog series plus a whole lot more!

From Amy’s website:

While I love all knitting, and do occasionally design all kinds of knitted things, my true passion is for sweaters. It is my intent that all of these sweaters should be wardrobe staples for you–things you love to pull out of the drawer and wear again and again. It’s crucially important to me that they fit you well.

To that end, I recommend you choose a size that fits your shoulders properly and make modifications from there. I’ve created lots of resources to help you do this! Please start by visiting my fit to flatter page, and I look forward to seeing what you create.

Amy Herzog DesignsFrom top left going clockwise: Trimmings, Jackaroo, Asilomar, February Fitted Pullover, & Afterlight

Want to take full advantage of Amy’s knowledge about fit and making modifications to achieve a perfect fitting sweater? Stop in and pick up a copy of Knit to Flatter and if you already own a copy, bust it out and start reading! Sonia and Liz have both been pouring over their copies and plotting ways to flatter their shapes.

Amy has over 60 published patterns, truly something for everyone! All of Amy’s Ravelry patterns are available here at Stash through the Ravelry in-store download program, and we also have several copies of Knit to Flatter at the shop, which contains 18 of those patterns.

The Knitty Gritty:

  • The Fall 2013 KAL begins on September 21st (no better way to celebrate the first day of fall than casting on a new sweater!) and ends December 21st.
  • Pick any Amy Herzog sweater design.
  • If you’re feeling really ambitious, pick up her book, get yourself measured and get to work making some modifications that are going to make your sweater fit perfectly.
  • Join us for a special monthly edition of Stitch Night to get support and cheer each other on! September 25th will be the first KAL focused stitch night! Need help getting your measurements? We have a tape measure and are happy to help. Let’s all support one another and encourage each other make the best sweaters possible!
  • Need a review from last years tutorials? They’ve all been compiled into one Googledoc or you can view them on the blog.
  • Now, get swatching!
Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Books/Patterns, Knit Alongs, Knitting, Products, Stash, Tutorials

Crafty Times:: Pom Poms

We have a bit of a love affair with the humble pom pom. Plush, bouncy, and playful, the pom pom is a yarny symbol of happiness.  I dare you to try not to smile while holding one.  Impossible.

They make whimsical additions to knits, finish off a gift with a flourish, or make flouncy cat toys.  We also like to hang them wherever we can at the shop (have you seen our awning lately?).  Did I mention you can make them using leftover yarn to bust stash like a boss?

Our favorite method (and we’ve tried quite a few) is using these funny little gadgets by Clover (available at Stash, of course).  They are a little tricky looking at first, but after your first go at pom pom making, you’ll be a pro.

>>> Pom Pom Pictorial <<<

DSC_0535

DSC_0549

DSC_0551

DSC_0538

DSC_0540

DSC_0544

DSC_0547

DSC_0546

DSC_0545

Pro tips:  

  • Use a lot of yarn.  The more densly you wrap each arm of the pom pom maker, the more plump your pom will be.
  • Have fun with it!  Hold multiple colors/textures of yarn together.  Wrap each side in a different color.  See what happens!
  • Triple tie the center so it’s nice and tight.  You don’t want your pom to start shedding its fringe at an awkward moment.

Now it’s your turn!  What you’re favorite way to use a pom pom?

2 Comments

Filed under Crafty Times, Tutorials, Yarn

Crafty Times: Wee Holiday Trees

WeeTree

DSC_0613

We love festooning the shop with festive decor this time of year, and are always looking for fun ways to incorporate yarn into our decor.

My favorite new project has to be these wee yarn-wrapped trees. All it took was a quick trip to the craft store and a search through the leftovers bin for some green yarn.  In a few minutes we had these delightful trees. And because I love a bit of sparkle (and an excuse to get out the glue gun), we added sequins in Stash colors.

photo-29

DIY Wee Holiday Tree

Materials

  • 50 yards medium-weight yarn (quantity may be more or less depending on the size of your cone). We chose green but think a snowy white would be lovely.
  • Cardboard cone
  • Glue; we used a glue gun, but Tacky glue would work well too.
  • Beads, sparkles, sequins, Pom poms; anything goes when it comes to embellishing your tree.

Add a small dot of glue at the top of the cone to secure the end of your yarn. Begin wrapping the yarn around the cone, beginning at the top and working your way down while making a single layer of yarn. Continue until you get to the base of the cone. Add another small dot of glue at the bottom and wrap yarn over it. Carry the yarn to the inside of the cone and secure with more glue or a piece of tape. Cut.  Decorate your wee tree with glee!

* * *

Now it’s your turn.

Have you made any holiday decor for your home or workspace?  Share a picture with us on Facebook!

3 Comments

Filed under Crafty Times, Tutorials, Yarn

Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Blocking

We’re on our final blog post of the Sweater KAL series: blocking and finishing! Many knitters don’t bother blocking small projects and when they tackle a larger project they aren’t quite sure how to go about blocking. Once I started knitting sweaters and shawls (both things that really require blocking), blocking FOs (finished objects) became second nature and now I block 99% of my knitting as soon as it’s off the needles.

You can weave in your ends either before or after blocking. Some people think that it’s better to weave them in before blocking so that you aren’t messing too much with the fabric after you’ve carefully blocked your project. Other knitters say that it’s better to wait until after blocking because if you weave in the ends before blocking you won’t be able to stretch and manipulate the fabric as well. When it comes to sweaters, I haven’t found that it matters too much since you (hopefully!) won’t want to stretch it too much and there shouldn’t be overly aggressive blocking (unless it’s to open up a lace pattern). Weaving in all those ends can be a bit tedious, so some folks like to weave them in as they go. That way the only tail you have left at the end is from your bind off!

Find some wool wash:

We carry Soak at Stash…I have a large bottle like the one pictured and it’s lasted me about 8 months so far and I’ll probably get a whole year out of it. I wash a lot of handknits and use Soak for my handspun yarn as well.

You’ll want to use something gentle and ideally something that doesn’t require rinsing. I know Woolite sounds like something you should use to wash your wool handknits, but it’s a bit too harsh. You can also use a shampoo formulated for normal hair, but this requires rinsing. Personally, I like to stick to something that’s specifically for handknits and that I don’t have to worry about rinsing.

Figure out where the best place to wash your sweater is. I almost always use my top-loading washing machine. But you can also use a large mixing bowl, your sink, bathtub, or anything that will hold enough water to submerge your sweater.

Fill your container of choice with a squirt of wool wash (check bottle for specific amounts) and enough lukewarm water to fully submerge your sweater. I don’t usually measure my wool wash….but most of them instruct you to use 1 tsp per gallon of water.

Place your sweater in the water and gently push down on it so that it becomes fully submerged. If you’ve knit your sweater using wool yarn, it will want to repel the water so it needs a little encouragement to become fully submerged. Make sure you don’t agitate or rub the garment as these things could cause felting.

Walk away and leave your sweater soaking for at least 20 minutes. Don’t worry if you forget about it and 20 minutes turns into 5 hours. Not a big deal!

Carefully remove your sweater from the water, making sure that you support the entire sweater as you lift it out. It will be quite heavy, and you don’t want any pieces of the sweater to stretch under the weight of all that water!

Squeeze (don’t wring!) the excess water out. 

There are a couple of ways to get even more water out of your garment, which makes drying time faster and makes blocking a bit easier. You can roll up your sweater in several dry towels and press down on it to soak up the extra water. If you are blocking a small item such as a hat or socks, you can use a salad spinner to spin out the excess water! My personal favorite is the spin cycle on the washing machine. After I soak my sweaters (or any other knitted object or handspun yarn!), I empty the water out of the washing machine, put my sweater back in the now empty machine, and turn on the spin cycle. Only use the spin cycle for 10 seconds. I’ve tried both this and the towel method, and I think the spin cycle is far more effective. It really decreases drying time and I’ve found that there is less chance of your sweater stretching because it isn’t as weighed down with water.

Carefully carry your sweater to the place where it’s going to be blocked. If you have a mixing bowl or colander, put your sweater in there to carry it from point A to B. It’s easier to keep it all contained that way and you won’t have one part of your sweater hanging down and stretching as you walk across the house.

Lay your sweater flat to dry. You can use blocking boards, an empty bed with a towel on it, or a towel on the floor. I use large foam mats that snap together, but for sweater blocking you really don’t need anything fancy.

Block to desired measurements. I try not to fiddle with my wet sweaters too much, but I do measure across the bust to make sure that it’s close to my desired measurements. I also make sure the arms are the same length, and I often pin the cuffs just to make sure the sleeves stay the same length. If you’re knitting a cardigan make sure that each side is the same width and length.

Wait ages for it to dry. Handknit wool sweaters take forever and a day to dry. Especially in the Pacific NW during the winter. Try and be patient and wait for it to be COMPLETELY dry before doing too much with it. If the back seems really wet still, flip it over carefully.

Weave in your ends if you haven’t already! There are many different ways you can weave in your ends and I came across this fantastic post that discusses many techniques and has great pictures.

Wear your sweater proudly! 

We obviously didn’t cover everything that could possibly come up during your sweater knitting process, but I hope I’ve provided you all with some good basics to get your started!

Have you all picked your sweater patterns yet? The official cast-on for the KAL is next Wednesday September 19th! Pop into our Fall KAL thread in the Stash Ravery group and let us know what sweater pattern you’ve chosen! Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions or need advice! We’re happy to help.

Leave a comment

Filed under Knit Alongs, Knitting, Products, Tutorials

Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Seaming

Most of Hannah Fettig’s patterns are knit in one piece and require little to no seaming. However, there are a few that do require seaming and I’d like to cover it so that you don’t feel unprepared to knit other sweaters in the future!

Many knitters I know really dislike seaming. I honestly don’t mind it too much and I think it’s because I learned how to seam early on in my knitting and just went for it. One of my very first sweaters was seamed and while I prefer to knit sweaters in one piece so that I can try them on, I don’t dismiss a pattern just because it requires seaming.

I’m certainly no expert in the seaming department, but I’ll share what’s worked for me as well as some great resources.

Some Useful Tools for Seaming:

Darning Needles – we carry the Chibi’s at Stash

Marking Pins to hold your knitted pieces together – Also available at Stash

If you’re knitting a sweater that requires seaming you really need to block your sweater pieces before seaming. I know, I know. At this point you are sooooo close to having a finished sweater that you can wear and the last thing you want to do is wet your pieces and wait for them to dry before moving onto the next step. TRUST ME. Just do it. It’s really important that you block your finished pieces to the correct dimensions before you try and sew them up. It will be much easier to match them up if they’re all the correct size. Not to mention that blocking will help to uncurl those pesky edges.

Should you use the yarn you knit the sweater with to seam? In most cases, yes. However, if you’ve used a yarn that breaks apart easily (do a little tug test on a strand from your ball of yarn, does it break fairly easily?) or a single ply yarn, you’ll want to find something else to seam with. In this case, I’d suggest finding some sock yarn in a color that closely matches your sweater. This is a good time to dig through your leftovers bin! If you’re knitting a sweater in bulky yarn, you may want to think about using something a bit thinner to seam with so that your seams aren’t too bulky. Try seaming your swatch to test out whether you’d like to use something thinner before seaming your sweater.

Unlike with traditional sewing, you want to seam with the right sides facing you and the wrong sides together. The way you’ll sew them together will create a seam on the inside of the garment.

Using the mattress stitch, seam the shoulders first. Seaming the shoulders first will allow you to attach the sleeves with more accuracy. Knitty has a great article with pictures on seaming using the mattress stitch. Sometimes the pattern will have you do a Three-Needle Bind-Off for the shoulders instead of traditional seaming.

After you seam the shoulders, pin the top of your sleeve  to the body of your sweater using marking pins (or you can use split ring stitch markers or coil-less safety pins). I like to start at the top center (where your shoulder seam is) and pin the center and then each side. It’s also a good idea to use the same method when seaming. Again, use the mattress stitch. Typically, I cut a length of yarn, put it through my needle, stick the needle through the top center and pull half the length of yarn through before beginning seaming. That way you have yarn to use for seaming on both the front and back of the shoulder/top of sleeve. Start seaming the front and when you reach the underarm, stop and go back to the top and seam the back of the shoulder/sleeve.

Once you’re done seaming the top of the arm, use the mattress stitch to continue seaming down the side of your sweater. You’ll want to pin this as well before sewing. After the seaming the side, seam the sleeve also using the same pinning and mattress stitch process. 

Repeat for the other side of the sweater!

What if it doesn’t look as neat as you’d like? Well, you have a couple of options…the first, of course, being to rip out all of the seaming and try again. The second is that you can block your sweater or steam it and see if that helps even out the spots you aren’t happy with. It’s hard to believe that steaming or blocking could really make that much of a difference, but check out this post by Anne Hanson.

If you aren’t completely happy with it, rip and redo it. I know it sounds like a lot of work and it’s a bit demoralizing when you have a finished sweater and then you undo the seaming, but you won’t regret redoing it.

Some other great resources regarding seaming: Stitch ‘n’ Bitch: A Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller, The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, and The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square. There are also countless videos on youtube and forum postings on Ravelry.

The last blog post in the series will be up on Friday: Blocking!

Leave a comment

Filed under Knit Alongs, Products, Tutorials

Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Tips and Tricks for Sleeves

I feel like I’ve thrown a LOT of information at you over the course of the blog series thus far so I’m hoping this post won’t be quite as overwhelming as the rest and hopefully not as wordy!  There are a few little things about knitting sleeves that I wanted to mention and didn’t want the information to get lost in some of the longer posts about modifying sweaters.

Picking up stitches at the underarm: If you’ve knit mittens, you might know where I’m going with this. Sometimes when you pick up the number of stitches that the pattern specifies (at the underarm of a sweater to begin the sleeves, or for a thumb on a mitten), you end up with a little hole on either side of the picked up stitches. It looks a little like this:

Real sweater WIP complete with little holes under the arm.

There are a couple of ways you can deal with this. The first being to leave a decent sized yarn tail when you pick up your stitches and use the tail to close up the holes. The other thing you can do is pick up a couple of extra stitches and then get rid of them on the next round by using K2TOG (knit two together). You can even knit those stitches together through the back loop to tighten them up a bit more.

Modifying Shaping: We talked about this a bit in our previous post, and I just want to reiterate that you’ll be much happier with your finished sweater if you take the time to shape your sweaters to fit your body. If you’ll be shortening the sleeves or lengthening them, you’ll want to think about if you want to put your decreases (or increases if you’re knitting bottom up!) closer or father apart. Don’t be afraid to change the sleeve length of the pattern! If you prefer 3/4 length sleeves…go for it! Want to change a short-sleeved or 3/4 length sleeve to full length? Add a couple of more decreases and keep knitting!

Working in the Round: I’m going to be completely honest, here. I loathe knitting sleeves on double-pointed needles. This is the number one reason I taught myself Magic Loop (knitting in the round on one long circular needle). I highly recommend doing magic loop for sweater sleeves. I find that with dpns, you end up moving your entire sweater each time you reach the end of your needle. There are plenty of people out there who don’t mind using dpns for sleeves, so give it a try if you really love using dpns! If you’re interested in learning magic loop, we have a couple of great resources at the shop: The Magic Loop Booklet and the Circular Knitting Workshop book.

Consider Knitting Your Sleeves Before Finishing the Body: Never in a million years would I have thought to do this for a top-down sweater, but it makes complete sense. Jasmin from The Knitmore Girls Podcast mentioned that this is how she knits her top-down sweaters, and I think it’s brilliant. Like I mentioned above, when you are knitting sleeves you are constantly rearranging/twisting your sweater. This method has you knitting the sleeves right after the sleeve split, so that instead of an entire sweater sitting on your lap you just have the top portion of the sweater. You might want to knit an inch or two of the body first to make sure that you’re on track with the fit just in case you need to rip back! I haven’t actually tried this yet…but I’m hoping to do it for my next top-down sweater to see if it helps my dislike of sleeve knitting. The only reason I can see NOT to do this would be if you are worried about running out of yarn. In that case, I’d knit the body first and split your remaining yarn in half using a kitchen scale so that your sleeves will be the same length.

I think that’s all for sleeves! Next week we’ll have our final 2 posts in the series and then it will be time to start our sweaters!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Knit Alongs, Knitting, Tutorials, Uncategorized

Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Making Adjustments on the Fly

The biggest appeal of seamless sweater patterns is that you can try them on as you go and make adjustments to fit your body. It’s a little more difficult to do with bottom-up sweaters, but it can certainly be done! Top-down sweaters are perfect for making adjustments as you go!

I think one of the biggest things to keep in mind is that you don’t need to follow the pattern exactly. You’ll be much happier with your finished sweater if the smallest part of the waist lines up with your waist, the hem hits you in a flattering spot, and the sleeves are the correct length.

Let’s use the Bayside Pullover from Coastal Knits as an example. Below is the schematic from the pattern. We’ll start at the top of the sweater and work our way down.

We’re not going to talk about every single measurement and change you can make to your sweater, but I’d like to hit the big ones: Yoke depth, sleeve circumference, chest, waist, and hem.

Yoke Depth: As a fairly short person, I find that the yoke depth on many knitting patterns are a touch longer than I’d like. But some of you taller folks may find that it’s not quite long enough. Take a tape measure and start measuring from the top of your shoulder. Look at where the yoke depth as written will hit you. If you follow the directions, this is where the sleeves will be split off from your sweater. Does it reach where you’d like the underarm of your sweater to begin? Is it going to be saggy in the armpits if you knit that length? Figure out your ideal length. After you’ve done your raglan increases you can keep knitting without increasing until you reach this measurement. You can also “try on” your sweater to figure this part out. It’s a little tricky, but put your sweater on some waste yarn, drape it over your shoulders and pinch the sleeve stitches around your upper arm/shoulder. You can then decide if you’d like to make the yoke a bit longer or split for the sleeves.

Let’s take a minute to look at what your stitches on your needle will look like if you are knitting a top-down sweater:

If you are knitting a cardigan, the front stitches won’t be connected and you might be adding a button band afterwards, so don’t freak out if you try on your cardigan without the button band and it seems too small! The stitch markers mark the raglan increases. There will always be 4, and you will be increasing on BOTH sides of the markers. This will result in a total of 8 stitches being increased during each raglan increase round. 

Chest Circumference: If you’ve decided that you’d like your sweater to be an in-between size for the chest measurements, you can either do more or less raglan increases to get your desired size. For example, if you wanted a sweater (using the Bayside Pullover from above) that measured 34″, you could follow the directions for the size 32″ and do a few extra sets of increases. Now, you probably want to know how many sets of increases. Well…the gauge for the pattern is 24 sts/4 inches which equals 6 sts/inch. Since you want TWO extra inches you’d want 12 extra stitches. You’ll be adding 4 body stitches during each increase round. See Diagram Above. So, to achieve 12 extra stitches you’ll want to do THREE extra raglan increases on the BODY ONLY.

If you want your sweater to be a little bit SMALLER, just leave out an increase or two using your gauge to figure out how many increases to leave out.

Arm Circumference: The idea of altering the circumference of the upper arms is exactly the same as the chest circumference. If you’d like them a bit larger than the schematic, add an extra increase or two on the SLEEVES ONLY (see diagram above for placement of these stitches) and if you want them smaller leave out an increase or two. Of course, this would be a bit more complicated if you were doing a pattern that had cables or lace and required a specific number of stitches.

If you’d like your entire sweater (sleeves and body) larger/smaller, do more/less increases on both the body and sleeves.

Waist: Ideally you want the smallest part of your sweater to match up with the smallest part of your waist. The best way to achieve this is to measure how far it is from just below your full bust to just before the smallest part of your waist. You’ll need to look at the pattern and decide if the pattern as written will work, or if you want to do your waist decreases closer together or farther apart. Instead of doing decreases every “X” number or rows (this will likely be how the pattern has the decreases written), take the measurement from above and divide it by the number of decreases the pattern calls for. This will tell you how often to do your decreases. Let’s say that you measure and get 6 inches and the pattern has 4 waist decreases…you’ll want to do your decreases 1.5″ apart.  You can also look at the waist measurement and decide if you want to do more or less decreases. Is the waist measurement smaller than you’d like? Skip a decrease. Too big? Do an extra decrease!

Make sure you don’t begin your decreases until you’ve knit far enough to reach your full bust. You don’t want to start getting rid of stitches (and inches) before the fullest part of your bust. If the pattern says to start the waist decreases after you’ve knit an inch from the sleeve split, but your full bust isn’t until 2 inches past…wait until 2 inches.

The waist shaping is where being able to try on your sweater comes in handy:

To try your sweater on, either put it on 2 really long circular needles or thread a piece of waste yarn through all of your stitches and pull your needle out. If you use 2 circular needles make sure that the total circumference will be able to fit over your shoulders…you don’t want to drop stitches while trying on your sweater! Trust me, it’s not fun to have to pick them back up.

After your waist decreases you want to knit straight for a couple of inches to where your waist starts increasing to your hips.

For the hip increases, use the same method as for figuring out the waist decreases. Your waist decreases and hip increases may not be spaced out the same depending on your body type. For example, I typically spread out my decreases farther than patterns call for, but put my hip increases closer together. Measure on your body where you’d like your increases to start and end. Divide this number by the number of increases you want to do to figure out how many inches apart to place them. There is no reason you need to do the same number of waist decreases and hip increases (unless you need a certain number of stitches for a cable or lace pattern). Tailor it to your body measurements. 

For sweaters that don’t have any waist shaping, such as the Rocky Coast Cardigan or the Schoodic Cardigan, you’ll just need to worry about hem length and the sleeves.

Hem Length: The beauty of a hand knit sweater is that you can make it as short or long as you’d like! Something to keep in mind: if you use wool, your sweater will likely grow a little bit. Err on the side of a little short (you can block it longer or add length later) instead of too long. Trying your sweater on is a great way to decide exactly when to bind-off!

A few words about bust darts: I’m nowhere near as knowledgeable about bust darts as I am about many other aspects of sweater knitting. I’ve done horizontal bust darts in one knitted top so far, and it worked out beautifully. I’ll probably start doing them more often, but I can’t really give good instructions yet! If you have a cup-size larger than a C, it’s worth considering doing bust darts so that the front of your sweater doesn’t ride up. Horizontal bust darts give you a little extra room in the bust area without making the entire sweater larger. The bust darts are done by using short rows across the front of the sweater. Custom Knits 2 (which we have at the shop) has a section on adding bust darts by using short rows. Little Red in the City (also at the shop!), has a great section on shaping and horizontal bust darts. Ysolda tells you how to calculate how many short rows to do and gives tips on figuring out where to place them. Little Red is chock full of other great sweater-knitting information as well.

Come on back on Friday for Tips and Tricks for Sleeves!

3 Comments

Filed under Knit Alongs, Knitting, Tutorials, Uncategorized