Random Knits, tips and tricks

Support Your Stitching

This post probably not going to be about what you’re thinking, I’m not talking about financially, I’m talking physically, literally support your stitching.

I am working on a cowl that is going to be sort of epic for me. It is reeeeaaaallllyyy long. It’s the Scattering Petals cowl from Dana Rae. Here is the link for anyone interested.

When making something this big and taking it a as a to go project, which this is, you need to support it properly. I do often walk around and knit on this. You will need to support larger projects both knit and crochet when you are working on them standing or sitting.

When the items are just beginning or are going to stay small we already naturally support them. But as things grow and get bigger they get heavier.

Careful support is important for the project and for you. It is important for you so that you don’t hurt yourself by being in an unnatural position for an extended period of time. If you’re hurting ask why and think about what you’re doing. Reposition yourself and try again. Reminder to get up and move around about every 20 to 30 minutes. I know those long stretches of stitching are so much fun but take care of your most valuable and irreplaceable tool, you.

Lap support is the easiest and best. Snuggle up with a project and don’t lean over it.

As some projects grow and they are in our lap, the pile gets higher and higher and the stitch is right in our face. Make the conscious decision to smash the pile and not hurt your eyes.

Underarm support is great for walking and standing but again don’t do it for too long, you’ll arms will get sore. Ask me how I know…

Supporting as project as it grows and get heavier is important for the tools, materials and finished piece. The weight of a blanket, scarf or sweater pulls down on the stitches that are on the hook or needle. This can pull on cords and cause wear and separation. It can make the yarn stretch out too and blocking might not be able to smooth things evenly. This is where your finished piece is effected. If you don’t support a heavy piece and the weight is pulling on your piece your gauge will change and not be the same as the gauge of the piece when it was smaller. It will find it more difficult to make the stitches too. Like fighting to get the yarn through the loops.

Support your stitching.

Happy making!

behind the scenes, Swatching

Knitted Mitered Squares

A swatch of course.

I tried a couple of different increases to see which one I liked best. Blocking will tell the final story but that won’t happen until tomorrow.

Then I tried two different bind off methods to see which one most closely matched the give and stretch of the slipped stitch side. Above is the normal bind off and below is what I learned when working lace, that one is the winner.

Front and back views are important and help to avoid surprises later. I measured this one too but since I used different increases, bind offs and want to block it, it isn’t the final measurements.

The last thing that I have to play with is joining and the best way to do that. I want it to be a join as you go piece and I want it to look nice in both sides, even when joining different colors.

After I get the knitted ones figured out, I will start on the crocheted ones. I think some parts of that might be easier but only time will tell.

behind the scenes

Mitered Squares

I have finally finished that last project and now I can start another! I’m not a monogamous stitcher but I do try to limit myself and meet the same deadlines I give my testers.

I will be starting a mitered squares baby blanket. This one will be knit but I also have plans for a crocheted version as well. I have already searched a bit to see how mitered squares work.

When I want to do something that is new to me I search the internet first to get an idea of what has been done.

The knitted ones I found, no I didn’t look at ALL of them on the internet, we’re made by decreasing. I don’t want that for this project, that’s more work than I want to put in this go around. I’m thinking more of a recipe so that the blanket can made any size, with any square size, using any yarn you want.

I also want to make this a join as you go, modular piece, maybe with different square sizes but we’ll see about that last part.

Comment below what size squares you’d like to make and what you would make from them.

Happy Making!

behind the scenes, Brick and Mortar, Swatching

More Swatches

I’m sure you all probably think that all I do is swatch because that’s mostly what I’ve been sharing here. The swatches are needed but also I have been only working on one project and it can only be shred so much.

These swatches are needed for a video shoot later this week. They are videos for the Brick and Mortar Accessory patterns that will be released next week.

I will be shooting videos for both knit and crochet and for both right and left hand knitters and crocheters.

Here are my swatches or the beginnings of them and a note for what I’m doing. I shoot in batches but don’t edit that way. This combination works best for me.

Some are specific stitch techniques and some are finishing techniques. I love to help stitchers learn something new and level up their stitches.

What would you like to learn?

behind the scenes, Brick and Mortar

New Shooting Configuration

As I have said before I am pretty much a one woman show. I shoot the majority of my footage on my own.

I recently tried a new set up and I love it!

I changed the recording quality on my camera to be higher just to see the difference and whoa, it is amazing!

This is a Nikon DSLR. It’s the 2nd one I’ve owned. I use this primarily for shooting videos. Stills look better from my phone because it has more mega pixels. I don’t replace this one because the shooting modes are plenty for making the videos I make.

The DSLR is mounted to a boom arm that I bought last year. That is mounted to a tripod that I have been hauling around for 20 years. I was given to me by my father in law back when I was still using film.

Light comes from 2 locations other than natural from the sliding door you see in the background.

A small light mounted on a tripod shown above and a ring light near the camera shown below.

This mic came as part of a kit for something I’m not sure why I bought. It helps pick up sound so much better, sorry about the birds in the background. Having this mic here means I don’t have to scream or try to project and hope my voice is picked up.

The remaining free space is almost all available for me to move around and still be in the shot. There is a screen on the camera that I can turn around and see what’s in the shot.

Here is the link for the video I made during this session. Click through and see what you think.

Happy Making!

Brick and Mortar

Mirrored or Identical…

The Brick and Mortar mitts are seamed up the side when you have reached the desired size.

These mitts are seamed as mirrored. That means when viewed from the top the bricks are mirror images of each other.

These mitts are seamed as identical. That means when viewed from the top the bricks look the same on both hands.

The difference is when they are out on the hands. Mirrored are the same on top of the hands and on the palms.

The identical will have the top of the left mitt will look like the palm of the right mitt and vice versa.

These mitts here are all knitted but the same idea applies to the crocheted ones as well. Which seaming will you choose?

Happy Making!

behind the scenes, Brick and Mortar, Swatching

Math, definitely part of my process…

Getting these hats ready to go to the tech editor. Gauge is always part of a part and is minimal basic math. That’s how many stitches and rows or rounds per inch so that you can replicate the work I’ve done and it actually fit.

When there are different sizes then there is more math and not just basic everyday math, but geometry. You figure how much yarn used for one size and the number of square inches for that size and then how many yards use per square inch and then apply to the other sizes you want to make.

For me this is the owner part of the process. It don’t have the formulas memorized or even organized in one place because I don’t do it enough. I’m going to be doing it more though so I better get organized.

The other little bit of knitting that isn’t a hat, is a swatch for mitts using DK weight yarn. So far I like this needle size with the yarn. Next I’ll measure the swatch and do some basic math to figure out how many stitches to cast on.

Thankful for all those math classes in school. Didn’t feel very practical in the moment though I love numbers but very useful now.

Happy making!

Brick and Mortar, Swatching

Brick and Mortar in DK

I decided to try making the Brick and Mortar mitts, knit version, in DK weight yarn. So far, so good.

Less stitches and rows to get the same size finished piece. It goes faster and they will be a bit thicker than the ones made with fingering weight yarn.

I chose to do just two colors this time and have less ends to deal with.

The way the Brick and Mortar mitt patterns are written is almost recipe like. A really good recipe with lots of guidance so you can use any yarn you want. You have to be willing to swatch though.

This is one of those pieces where the item could be the swatch. Take notes! Without notes of yarn weight, hook or needle size,number of stitches and things like that, swatching doesn’t do any good.

I will make the Brick and Mitts free when you use the code “swatch it” when they’re released in March and it’ll be good through the end of May 2023.

Happy making!


Unpopular opinion: Swatching is helpful

Warning you may disagree with this post.

Swatching is helpful and prevents heartache later on down the knitting and crocheting road.

I recently recorded a video about why I think seatching is helpful and thought I’d share some of the stills I took during that shoot here.

These swatches are examples of some of the swatches I’ve done over the last couple of years. Some are knitted and some are crocheted. I think three, we’re experiments for actual projects I wanted to make.

You’re probably wondering if I swatch for projects before I start and the answer is yes. Click the “Swatches” category tag above this post to see other examples. Usually those swatches are ripped out after notes and photos so that I can reclaim the yarn for the project.

What are all these other swatches for then? Various things. Learning new techniques, trying out colors and even long term stretch tests or felting limits.

Swatching helps to save heartache by learning earlier that those colors don’t work together or that fabric is too stiff or too loose. If possible look for a piece of the project that can be a swatch, such as the sleeve. For socks and hats I usually just get started. Blankets and shawls, swatch.

It’s all knitting, crocheting, yarn, needles and hook so why not do it? Just swatch!

Happy Making!


Blocking Day!

Yesterday was blocking day. In Colorado my studio was large enough that my blocking table was always set up. Here that isn’t the case. When I need to block something here I have to set up my table on the back patio. I watch weather for rain, not often and wind. Neither were happening yesterday so I was good to go. So glad I can block outside here in the winter.

I set up my 6 x 6 foot table, cover it with the foam floor mats and a sheet. This session I had some swatches and a large, very large shawl.

I soaked all the items in water, which thankfully is available out back, then let them sit for a couple of hours.

When I was ready to block I took my salad spinner outside to spin out the excess water.

I did the swatches first, because they are little and easy. Then I tackled the shawl.

These swatches are the examples for the how to read knitting charts workshop I will be teaching at the Las Cruces Knitting Guild in February. If it goes well I plan to make it into at least a workbook and maybe a video class. If you think you might be interested in that please share in the comments below.

While it turned out to be bigger than I was expecting it was easier than I was expecting. I pulled out and blocked each of the points along the edge and then just made sure everything else was smooth. No wires needed anywhere. I did have to add a couple of smaller mats because the shawl isuch bigger than the table.

The Fantastitch Shawl from Stephen West