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How to Cast On. A beginner knitting video

Casting On, or getting your stitches on your needle, can be a challenge for the beginner knitter.  Thought I’d try my hand at creating a video for casting your stitches on to your needles.  If you’ve taken my classes, you’ll recognize this cast on.

It’s called the long-tail cast on and leaves a very neat edge to your knitting and I use this cast on for most of my projects.

If you have questions, leave me a comment and I’ll either answer you through email or upload a video response.

What other kinds of videos would you like to see?

 
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5 Tricks to Take Your Knitting Up a Notch

in How To

The longer you knit, the more little tricks you learn along the way.  Some you discover on your own, some you pick up from other knitters.  I thought I’d share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned and pass them on to you.  These tipis should help your knitting look a little more polished or save you some time while knitting.  I’d love to hear some of your tips for your knitting.

These are a couple of my favorite tricks.

1. Use Stitch Makers when Casting On

Whenever I’m casting on a bunch of stitches…anything over 50, it never fails, that while I’m casting on and counting, something will distract me.  The phone rings, the cat coughs up a hair-ball, or my own inability to count, I always tend to miscount.  Then I have to stop and re-count the stitches I’ve just cast on.  Then it dawned on me I could save a whole bunch of time and headache by just adding a stitch marker every 25 stitches.  Now if I miscount, I can go back to the last stitch marker and recount and not back to the beginning to recount.

2. Add a stitch when joining in the round

If you like working in the round, but hate the gap that often appears where the join is made, then you’ll love this tip.  A great way to prevent this gap, is to cast-on 1 extra stitch then the pattern calls for and when you make the join to work in the round, move the extra stitch you cast-on over to the needle with the first cast-on stitch and knit these 2 stitches together as your first stitch.  You’ll be surprised how nice your join will look!

3. Help your cables look neater

When working cables, often times the stitches can get pulled and stretched and not have that polished look.  The cables can start to look a little loose and baggy.  I learned an easy trick to keep that column of knit stitches straight and “pop” off the background.

The cable swatch above shows a cable column with a 1 stitch knit column in between.  That 1 stitch column can sometimes get sloppy and loose.  The trick is to knit into the back of the stitch on the right side and purl through the back of the stitch on the wrong side.

Take a look at the photo again, I forgot to implement this little trick until about half way up the back.  See if you can tell the difference on the lower half of the photo compared to the upper half where the 1 stitch column is a whole lot neater.  Knitting and purling into the back of this stitch tightens up the slack.  This is a great trick to remember.  I also use it when picking up stitches along an edge.  Often times after you pick up stitches along an edge and then knit or purl the following row, you’ll see a good size gap form between the two knitted pieces.  An easy way to take care of the gap is to pick up your stitches like you normally do, and on the return row, either knit into the back loops or purl into the back loops depending on your pattern.  (I’ll have future posts on tips for picking up stitches along an edge.)

4. Slip Stitch Bind-off

I use this trick mostly on sweater construction.  When knitting your sweater, you’ll get to the bind-off for the underarm or neck area of the sweater.  The instructions will have you bind off a certain number of stitches at the beginning of several rows.

The swatch above shows a 10 stitch bind-off on the first row and then 6 stitches on the next right side row, then 4 stitches.   As you can see, I used the regular bind-off, knit 2 and cast-off one stitch, you see a noticeable bump.  To make your seam smoother and neat, when you begin the bind-off, slip the first stitch and then knit 1 and cast-off the slipped stitch.  In the photo, you can see the difference between the regular bind-off and the slip stitch bind-off.

5. Last stitch loop, pulling yarn end up rather than through

When you reach the last stitch of your cast-off row, most knitters will reach through the loop and pull the yarn tail up through the loop.  Nothing wrong with that, but I’ve found that sometimes you’ll get a baggy last stitch.  Instead, I grab the loop itself and make it bigger and bigger and eventually the tail will pull up.  This has helped me to have a neater last bind-off stitch.

I hope you can implement these tips and I’d love to hear some of the tricks you’ve learned along the way.  Leave me some comments and tell me what are some of your favorite  time-savers?

 
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Yarn Bombing!

in Yarn

Have you heard about yarn bombing or tagging?  Have you tried it?  Yarn bombing is a stealth mission for many knitters!  It’s going into your city and finding objects that just need a little knitting graffiti.  Adding a scarf to a city statue, wrapping a parking meter pole with a little colorful love…..anything really can be bombed.  It’s a fun project to do with your knitting group.

Well I started a yarn bombing project with a friend and we are having an absolute ball creating and designing our masterpieces.  The chairs are just Yarn Bomb chairwonderful and my friend found them literally on the curb waiting for the trash man.  She snagged 2 of them and dragged them home and now they’ll be given a new life.

Nancy's ChairWe meet weekly and sew on the pieces we’ve completed since our last visit.  And we plot and plan how we want to change this or that and prepare for the next visit.  Our goal is to cover every inch of the chair and hopefully have an explosion of texture and color on permanent display in our homes.  It’s been a great project to try new stitches, new techniques and new color combinations.

The finished product turned out so great.  What a fun project this was to tackle. Here is a photo of her completed chair as well.

yarn bomb earbudsI was sitting in my knitting chair and glanced over at my earbuds….then looked what happened!

Have you ever done a project like this?  Have you ever snuck out at night and yarn bombed something in your town!

 

 
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Noro Around My Neck

in Scarf

Typically I’ve always bought my yarn from a craft store because it’s usually cheaper than local yarn shops.  One of the drawbacks in buying yarn from a local craft store is that you can’t buy enough balls of yarn in the same dye lot to complete any big project like an afghan or sweater.

One day, I decided I’d bite the bullet and go yarn shopping!  Yeah!  I had enough time to shop at three shops here in Orlando.  Each shop had many yarn choices, which I loved, and the owners where knowledge and friendly.

I bought yarn at each shop and the prices were, of course, higher than the craft stores, but I was expecting to pay more.  The quality of the yarn is so much higher than the craft stores.

One of the yarns I had read about and saw in pictures, but never actually got to squeeze and pinch was Noro Silk Garden. This yarn is so different than a typical Red Heart Acrylic!  HA!

A ball of this yarn is 45% Silk, 45% Kid Mohair, 10% Lambswool.  And as I knit this up, I’d occasionally find little bits of straw…like actual straw from the pen of the little lamb!

I was drawn to this yarn mainly because of the color changes that are happening so often throughout the ball.  I’ve knitted through 6 skeins of this yarn and I don’t think I’ve seen a repeat in the color schemes.  Love that!

It is a little pricey at $12 a ball, but I was anxious to knit it up and see the fabric it would produce.

I chose Jared Flood’s Noro Striped Scarf and the pattern is free and easy to memorize.  This would be a great beginner project.  The fabric looks stockinette, but it is actually a 1×1 rib, which helps the fabric to lie flat and not curl like a typical stockinette would do.

Have you tried this yarn?  What did you make?

 
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Pick a door, any door

BEHIND WHICH DOOR,

Behind Which Door, by marc falardeau, on Flickr

Doors!  When one door closes, another will open.  That is what I’m watching and waiting on.

A door closed for me last week.  I quit a job that was not making me happy.  I’ve never done that before.  I’ve always, always taken and kept jobs because, well, you know, you don’t just quit a perfectly good job.  You stick it out, no matter what, you take the good with the bad, you work, and you watch the clock as each hour slowly passes to the next.  And at 5:01, I’m already in my car speeding away.

There wasn’t anything “wrong” with the job.  The people were nice, the office was nice, the work was nice.  Why quit?   Well, I wasn’t happy.   I want a job that I love!  I’ve never had one of those.  I’ve never had a job where I lose track of the time and can’t believe it’s time to go home already.  A job that puts that little thrill inside my chest….a job that challenges me and inspires me and where I wake up and can’t wait to get to the office.

So I guess I’m ready for that.  I’m at an age and place in my life where I can actually take a time out and look for that kind of job.  What do I want to do when I grow up?  What skills do I have and enjoy using?  What kind of work will fulfill me?  Can I make any money doing what I love?

It’s Monday morning, I’m not at the office today.  It feels scary and most of all liberating.  I have many doors in front of me.  I will try several doors and see what adventures lie on the other side.  I’m excited about the future…..my hand is reaching for the knob.

 

 
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A Sampler Afghan Becomes an Heirloom Piece

This was one of those projects, and I have many, which I start and go great guns on in the beginning, then I peter out and never seem to get it finished.  Well this one I finally finished.  I bought the yarn years ago when Fisherman’s Wool was around $8.99.  Now it’s over $12.  Ouch.  I saw the pattern book and really wanted to give it a try, it’s called Sampler Afghan.

I thought this would be a fun project to learn some new stitches and have something useful when I’m finished.  I just love how this blanket turned out.  I used the same size needle  throughout to help keep the gauge close to the same from square to square.  I liked that each square was completely different and there were 60 patterns to choose from.  I used 20 patterns for this project.

As this was knit up, the yarn felt scratchy and coarse.  I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be that comfy afghan  you want when you grab a blanky and catch a little nap.  I blocked the afghan after all the squares were assembled and the wool is so much better.  It’s softer and the weight of the blanket feels great.  With 100% wool I’m surprised that after blocking it feels so much lighter.

It took me a few months to get 20 squares (12×12 inches each) complete and I loaded them into a canvas bag so they’d all be in one spot if I ever felt the urge to assemble.  Two years later, after passing over this UFO (Un-Finished Object) every time I reached for the next project in the stash, I finally decided it wasn’t ever going to put itself together.  I started laying out the squares and using a crochet hook the same size as the knitting needles I used a single crochet stitch to attach each square into long strips, then single crocheted the strips together.  I thought a simple border would work out best and I picked up stitches along each side and knitted a 2.5 inch seed stitch border.  I just love how well it turned out.

This is one of those projects that would make a great heirloom piece to hand down to kids and grandkids.

 
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Fancy Fruit and Produce in Orlando – You are gonna thank me

in Food

With the economy going haywire these days and food and gas prices skyrocketing, I’m always looking for some ways I can save some cash…..you know I do have a yarn addiction that needs to be fed regularly!

Let me share a little spot I’ve found that can save you lots o’money.  If you need a little help with your food budget, you gotta try this grocery.  Fancy Fruit & Produce has 3 locations around Orlando.  I’ve been shopping here for a little over 6 months now and I gotta say, I’m impressed.  The vegetables and meat departments are amazing.   Love how they are constantly turning over fresh produce, and there is a good selection of meat and the store is kept nice and clean.

I went shopping the other day and got a good buggy full of stuff….went through the checkout and was really surprised my bill was under $48.  Seriously shocked.  Having gotten skirt steak, a pork roast, 2 rib-eyes and big package of chicken breasts, plus a good amount of veggies.

I cooked up some of the corn last night, took one of the rib-eyes and broiled it for hubby and me and used the new potatoes in a new recipe called Crash Hot Potatoes from the Pioneer Women.  Delicious! Dinner last night came to a total of $5.30.  How is that for a steak dinner for two!!!!

What places have you found to save money?

 

 
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Yummy! Crazy Zauberball

in Yarn

I was visiting a local yarn shop and ran across the most fascinating yarn.  It was sitting there in a big bowl of yarn and each ball had it’s own amazing colorways wound in crazy patterns.

I stopped dead in my tracks….I just stood there staring and wondering how in the world could 1 ball of yarn have so many interesting color changes.  I mean seriously, look at this!

So I decided right there I had to have one.  I mean I HAD to have it.  My “gator” eyes gravitated to the orange/blue combo.  After squeezing it and wiping the drool off my face, I bought it.  Squee!

This magic is called a Crazy Zauberball.  I believe it comes in different weights, but the ball I grabbed was sock weight.  I raced home and opened Ravelry and started looking for patterns that would show off the beautiful colors.  I didn’t want to do socks….I still have my bad case of one-sock-itis…..I can get the first sock complete and can’t make myself cast-on the 2nd sock.  So I decided to try for a wrap of some sort.  I found a pattern called Wingspan, and it’s FREE.  Oh my, I couldn’t wait.

It was a relatively fast knit project and didn’t take long to memorize the short row pattern.  The best part was just watching how the colors changed row after row.  Mesmerizing.

I would highly recommend this great yarn.

Pattern is on Ravelry HERE.

 
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Paper or Plastic? Neither!

in Bags

I like to knit up some quick projects in between some of the longer productions.   I’ve started to knit market bags.  Made out of cotton, these bags knit up quick.  I like the fact that the fabric is sort of stretchy.  You can jam a lot of stuff in these bags.   I’ve currently got yarn stuffed in these bags, go figure!  These will make great bags to grab when I head to the grocery.  My only problem there is that I buy WAY MORE than just one bag of groceries!  I’m going to leave a couple of these in my car for stops to Costco where I always seem to have items rolling all over my trunk after I visit.

These are great for taking to the beach, picking up toys around the house and a million other things.

With the cooler weather we are enjoying, I might pack up a little picnic and throw it into one of these bags and head out to my favorite shady tree and…..wait for it……do a little knitting!

Free pattern for the yellow Chevron Bag

 
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Best Yarn Ever!

I have to tell you, I just LOVE this yarn!  It’s called Bamboo Ewe from Debbie Stoller.  It’s made of 55% viscose from Bamboo and 45% wool.  It does felt up nicely if you go in that direction.

I’ve made two blankets and now I’m knitting a sweater with it.

The first blanket I made using the Twilight colorway.  I used the pattern called Bookman Blanket which was featured in Interweave Knits, Holiday Gifts, 2010.  The pattern shows the ABC alphabet throughout the blanket.  I decided to make the blanket personal to me and my family, so I substituted my own words instead of the ABCs.  I have my name, my husband’s name and my kitty’s name and the word LOVE at the end, which you can see in the photo.

The yarn itself is so soft as you knit, but after blocking the yarn really relaxes and becomes even softer.  After blocking it’s got a wonderful drape and is the perfect weight for an afghan thrown over yourself when taking a quick nap.

Then I decided I loved how it turned it so much I’d make another one, but this one for my sister.  I decided to use words throughout the blanket that describe her.  I used words like beauty, peace, fun.  I used the Geranium colorway and it turned out just beautiful.

Then something really wonderful and horrible happened.  Joann’s Craft store put almost all of their Debbie Stoller yarn on Sale for 97 cents a skein!  Oh my!  Well I just couldn’t help myself!  I bought enough twilight to make matching pillows for my couch, enough lipstick shade to make the sweater I’ve just started and a stray skein of snapdragon pink, that I’m not sure what to make yet.    I also picked up skeins of Alpaca Love, enough for a sweater in the Fern colorway and 2 skeins of dusk.  I hope it knits up as nicely as the bamboo.  The horrible part is I’m afraid that Joann’s will no longer carry this great yarn!

So if you can find this yarn, especially on sale, grab it.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

 
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