Knitting

Winter Birthday Presents

Winter Birthday PresentsJune is the official beginning of winter in New Zealand. I have recently finished a couple of winter birthday presents and sent them off, a bit belatedly, to my youngest daughter. There has been some very cold weather in the South Island, and even in the North Island, over the last few weeks, including enough snow to allow the early opening of some of the ski fields.

Winter Birthday PresentsIn March I made my daughter a pony tail hat which she seemed very pleased with. I thought it might be useful for her to have a few more, so I have just knitted another two. Hopefully they will help her keep warm.

I have also been waiting for an opportunity to try out a pattern I got a wee while ago for “Owlie Mitts”. I had a lot of fun making these for the most part. There was one problem though. I misread the pattern when I made the first one and, instead of doing 6 repeats of the 4 row rib pattern (ie 24 rows) I only did 6 rows. The result of this was that I had to make three mitts instead of two, which was the reason the presents got sent away late.

Winter Birthday Presents
Before Beads
Winter Birthday Presents
With Beads

I have included a few photos of the finishing process on the mitts to illustrate the difference that a bit of trim can make to a project. In this case it was the addition of black seed beads for the eyes of the owls. (See also “The Magic Of Outlining”.) The yarn I used was Opal sock yarn. While it may not have been the best yarn to show off the owls to best effect, I felt the colours were a good match for both the hats.

My next projects will include a scarf knitted in thick yarn and some light weight woollen singlets for the local neonatal intensive care unit.

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

How many times have you been stuck wondering what is the best yarn to use for your next project? There is such a wide variety of yarns available now that it can be a bit overwhelming trying to make a choice. My personal preference tends to be for wool, especially for babies, because it is a natural fibre that “breathes” and is very warm. The modern range of yarns, however, contains an ever expanding number of different fibre types, and also blends of different fibres.

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

One of the first things to look at on your pattern is whether or not it is written for a particular unique yarn, or is suitable for one of the more general types of yarn like 4ply, 8 ply, 12 ply etc. If the pattern is very yarn specific then you are best to stick with that yarn for your project.

A lot of patterns are still designed for more standard yarn types. Obviously it is safest to use the yarn(s) recommended in the pattern, but if you want to use something different there are several really important things to consider.

Yarn Ply and Needle Size

Always make sure that you get the same ply/weight yarn as that used in the pattern. It is also essential to do a test square to check that your gauge is correct, and alter your needle size accordingly if it is a bit off.

Yarn Length

The composition of yarn can make a huge difference to how far it goes. A ball of acrylic yarn can be up to 30% longer than a ball of wool of the same weight. Cotton can be similar to, or slightly shorter than wool, and blends of acrylic and natural fibres will be different again. Always check the band on a ball or hank of yarn for the length and for the batch number. Make sure you know what the length of a ball is for the yarn used in your pattern and work out from that what you will need in the yarn you are choosing. If you are in any doubt err on the side of caution and get extra.

Knitting

How Much Yarn Will You Need?

How Much Yarn Will You Need?A very common question most of us will have encountered when starting a new project is “How much yarn will I need?” The obvious answer is to check your pattern, but this may not be as simple as it seems.

Patterns give the average quantities required by someone working to the recommended tension gauge and who is making their garment to the measurements stated. Hopefully you will have checked your tension (see “I Should Know Better By Now!“), but if you are adjusting the length of your garment, or using a different yarn to the one stated, it is a bit more difficult to estimate.

I am trying to use up some of the wool that has accumulated in my cupboard. Some of this yarn came to me from my mother’s “stash” some years ago, so quite a lot of it does not have current patterns available. Having worked in a wool shop many years ago, I am familiar with the importance of checking the yarn length in a ball as well as its weight. Some of the older yarn does not have the length on the wrapper so I have tried to check it online.

My mother gave me some very useful advice early on in my knitting “career”. She recommended making the back and one sleeve of a jumper first because this should use about half the amount necessary for the finished garment. If knitting these two items uses more than half your yarn then you have a problem. If you are working on a different kind of project it should still be possible to work out a similar way of dividing it up to help you get an estimate of your total.

How Much Yarn Will You Need? How Much Yarn Will You Need?The vest I have just finished (see photos) was a good example of this. I had originally wanted to make the cardigan but it became obvious halfway up the sleeve that I would not have enough wool. Consequently I pulled the sleeve undone and made the vest front instead. I am actually very happy with how it has turned out and it will probably end up being more useful than the cardigan would have been too.

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

I’ve Fallen A Bit Behind

I've Fallen A Bit Behind
Image courtesy of Flickr

I’m afraid I’ve fallen a bit behind with my website lately. I’m not quite sure where February went, but we are now into the second week of March!

During February I had several projects on the go which I have now finished. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of any of them and they have now been given to the people I was making them for. The wool I referred to in “Working With Hanks Of Yarn” was knitted into a lovely hooded jacket for a little girl who will be turning two in a couple of weeks. Her Mum wanted it as a birthday present for her.

The second project I have just finished was slippers for my son and his partner who live in Melbourne. Obviously they were not needed in a hurry as it is still very warm over there, but I wanted to include them in a parcel I was sending which was already a bit late. I had fun “playing around” with several patterns (see “Using Patterns As A Guide”) and came up with two unique pairs of slippers which have now been sent on their way.

My main priority now is to catch up with posts for this site. I have been fortunate enough to get hold of copies of several crochet pattern books from Leisure Arts to review. I have really enjoyed looking at some different ideas, and will be posting reviews on them very soon.

Happy handcrafting everyone!

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

Working With Hanks Of Yarn

Working With Hanks Of YarnI have previously not had much experience working with hanks of yarn, but was recently asked to knit a jacket for a friend’s little girl. I suggested she check out the range available at The Wool Company. I really love their yarns and the fact that they are high quality and locally made. The wool she chose comes in 200g hanks.

Working With Hanks Of Yarn Working With Hanks Of YarnMy original plan for winding the wool into balls was to use one of the dining room chairs but then I decided to try something else. The back of the chair was not quite the right width and was a bit high for me to work with. It occurred to me that one of the back cushions off my sofa might be more suitable and it was. The cushion was just the right size and it was easy to move around too.

Working With Hanks Of Yarn Working With Hanks Of YarnAs I started winding the wool I started wondering about how I was going to get an idea of how much I was using as I was knitting the garment. I came up with the idea of using the kitchen scales. I wound the wool until I got to 25g then turned the ball 90 degrees and wound on another 25g, making a total of 50g. I repeated this procedure, turning after every 25g, and it has worked really well.

I have a tendency to change patterns a bit as I go (see “Using Patterns as a Guide”) so it has been very useful to know my yarn usage. I have made the garment significantly longer than the pattern and have been able to be confident that I will have enough wool to complete the garment.

I hope these tips can be useful to others of you who are working with hanks. I would love to hear any stories and tips that you might like to share.

Cross Stitch, Karen's Korner, Knitting

A Busy Start To 2018

I don’t know about you but I have had rather a busy start to 2018. It has involved family, friends, knitting and cross stitch, so it has also been a very good start.

One of the special things about Christmas is being able to catch up with family, and this year was no different. Following that, on the 6th of January, our elder son arrived with his two little dogs to stay with us for a few weeks. He has just completed “The Longest Walk New Zealand” during which he walked just over 5000 km around the country to try to help raise awareness of animal welfare organisations. You can find out more about his adventures on his website (see link above).

A Busy Start To 2018I have been spending quite a lot of time in the last few weeks with two of my grandchildren who live locally. The weather has been lovely for most of the time and we have been on a number of “adventures”. These have ranged from a paddle in the local stream accompanied by a crowd of curious ducks, to a bush walk and a walk along the shoreline of the local harbour. It is great when kids enjoy doing simple, outdoor things. I feel very blessed to have this involvement with them.

A Busy Start To 2018On the crafting front, I have knitted a couple of little hats for some twins girls who were born prematurely to a young couple from our church. I also made a larger version for their three year old sister. It was fun to do such tiny knitting, especially knowing that the twins and their mum are all doing well.

A Busy Start To 2018Over the last couple of months I have also been busy with three more cross stitched cushion covers. These are for the three grandchildren who live locally. They all have their birthdays within a few weeks of each other at the end of January / beginning of February, so it is good to have them finished. I just need to put the backings on them all now.

I hope you have all had a good start to the year and look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Knitting

Christmas Knitting Ideas

Christmas Knitting Ideas
The last post in my Christmas series is Christmas knitting ideas. I have rediscovered a wonderful pattern book on my shelf called “Jean Greenhowe’s Christmas Special”. All the photos I have taken for this post are of pictures in this book. It is a Sirdar book (number 236).

Christmas Knitting IdeasI am not usually overly keen on knitted Nativity scenes, but I find the one in this book quite delightful. I won’t have the time to make it for this year, but plan to give it a go next year. I really like the way the figures all seem to belong together.

Christmas Knitting Ideas Christmas Knitting IdeasThe book has a great selection of knitted toys too. They come in a range of sizes and would all make lovely gifts for children and maybe even some bigger people too. There are several versions of Santa, including a Mrs Claus, and several different snowmen too. They are joined by such things as an upside down doll, a teddy, a reindeer, an elf, and even a fairy for the top of the tree.

Christmas Knitting IdeasChristmas Knitting IdeasAnother thing which interested me was a collection of small Christmas stockings. They look like a great idea for putting just a few small treats in. I find that a lot of stocking patterns seem to be a bit big. I find that a lot of stocking patterns seem to be a bit big. It can also be fun to use up some of your yarn scraps knitting little tree decorations.

If you are looking for a bit more inspiration for projects to add to your Christmas craft selection, I suggest you check out some of my affiliate sites listed below. Enter “Christmas” in their site search bar and you will find a treasure trove of ideas. Enjoy your browsing!

Affiliate sites:

Leisure Arts, Craftsy, Annie’s, Knit Picks, LoveKnitting, Creative BugConnecting Threads

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.