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(17.8km north of 401 exit 410. Look for the green house with the red roof a few doors north of the Myrtle Station railroad tracks)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Simple Pattern Drafting Part 1

At Knit Club next Wednesday we are going to draft a simple pattern for a child's jacket, using graph paper. It is an old fashioned way I know, but I really enjoy paper and pencil work. Four squares to the inch graph paper makes it so easy to draw.
 Assign one square to equal one inch of garment. For a child, age 4 to 5 the basic measurements for a drop shoulder jacket are as follows:
Actual Garment Chest measurement: 28 inches
Length from shoulder: 17 inches
Length of Sleeve: 10 inches
This is a generous amount I know, and allows for the growth spurt as well as any delay that could happen in the making, just in case.
First I find and mark the centre of the paper underneath the punched hole. So it is easier to see in a photograph, I use a Sharpie marker, rather than my trusty 2B pencil (and plastic eraser).
The the neck opening of 4 inches get's  2 dot's on either side of the centre.
Then the shoulder dots, 7 squares from the neckline edge. The total width is 18 inches, half the 36 inch circumference
The length dots are next, first the one in the middle
Then the dots at the corners of the body.
Join the dots, to make a rectangle
Sleeve dots include the length, the armhole and half the cuff.
Join the dots and now I think it looks like a jacket
Here are the panel lines in place. These lines can also mean different stitch patterns.
The measurements of each part are written, and we are ready to begin calculating the stitch and row counts. Refinements like the neck shaping are figured out later, no worries.
Four squares to the inch graph paper fits a children's size. When I need larger sizes, I can tape paper together, or...
use 10 square to the inch paper, with lots of squares to spare.
Next is swatching time, so we learn how many stitches and rows equal an inch.
I'm using Country Style DK and a 3.75mm needle, and aim of achieve 5.5 stitches and 7 rows to the inch, like the ball band says.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Make do and mend

Do you have a bit of spare sock in your life? Maybe you made one sock or mitten and got distracted by another fibre opportunity, or maybe there is a particular hole in a sock and you feel pretty sure mending it will not happen. But you like the knitting a lot, and cannot not say goodbye.
But fear not Stephanie, I say to myself, the answer is... make one of these sweet artistic pin cushions. One that is especially friendly in holding my preferred blunt tapestry needles.
I have made pin cushions successfully out of t shirt material and enjoy seeing the colour of the fabric in a new way. Pin cushions also make a nice gift for a fellow fibre enthusiast.
It creates a second landing place for pins in my sewing room. The main difference is fabric needles are much sharper and an easily pierce cloth. My favourite blunt ended tapestry needles for sewing up hand knitting not so much, actually they just bounce off the surface.
I thought, so why not use hand knitted material.
In hand weaving, wool yarn as a warp is an excellent material for cleaning and polishing the steel reeds as you weave. I didn't have much fleece on hand so I softly wound a donut shaped ball of wools left over from other projects.
In this example I use the leg part as the foot had a large hole on the side from an unfortunate sharp encounter. It is also a little bit more worn on the bottom.
Cut a tube about 4 inches long, just below the rib and above the heel.
Then, gently pull out the yarn bits to reveal live stitches. I like to keep unravelling until I have about 18 to 20 inches of yarn on one end for the sculpting part. This pair had been washed many times so after picking out the bits, the stitches stay open and happy to accept the tapestry needle.
 I used a fairly small tapestry needle, and  although the yarn was very curly from being knitted for so long, the stitches were open and stable for pulling through.
You could use new uncrinkled yarn, or even a sturdy thread like Coats Button and Craft. I like sock yarn because the nylon content makes it very strong for sewing.
Make the stuffing, by winding up some scraps of wool yarn into about a 2 ounce ball. Keep the winding soft and squishy, not hard, because you want to be able to sculpt the pincushion into shape.
Make a of hole in the middle as you wind. I used the handle of this Danish Dough Whisk because it is thicker than my wooden spoons. In the spinning world there is actually a tool to facilitate the winding called a Nostepinne.
One could also use fleece or a complete unused ball of wool. The important thing, if you want to polish your needles is to use wool, not acrylic or cotton.
When you remove the label is is easy to flatten it into a more donut like shape.
Pull the yarn through to gather one end.
I like to thread the yarn though the open stitches twice and gently draw the opening closed. I find it stays closed better than just going through the stitches once.
Stuff in the stuffing. I should be a fairly easy fit, not a struggle, and yet fill the tube.
Close the other end of the tube by threading through the open stitches as before.
Using a fairly long piece of yarn or thread, sew through the centre, making sections, pulling in a firm and friendly manner until you have shaped the ball into a sort of pumpkin.
Fasten off the thread and all is complete.
A decoration in the centre is nice, a button or a bead. I am going to find something red or deep pink to go with the grey colour of my new pin cushion family member. Maybe my favourite rose and leaf.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Planning a Knitted Jacket

The Whitby Knitting Guild this season is to explore pattern drafting and stitch techniques within the context of a modular garment to create a jacket or cardigan.
This excellent book by Jenni Dobson inspires me, and especially her Hanten jacket, where the author uses a narrow sarong augmented with gorgeous silk patchwork.
Sharion, our guild president began the knitting journey in the spring, starting with this pattern as a guide. I believe it is still available as a download through Ravelry. The original yarn is an Aran weight.
and made her own magic by mixing fine mohairs, DK and a wool blend chunky. I am looking forward to seeing what marvellous jackets and samples she has created over her summer at the cottage.
For my design dimensions, I am using the child's' cardigan I knit a few years ago as a base. This one is a mix of worsted and Aran weight yarn, using some of the fairisle stitch patterns (peerie) based on the design Jenna Louise from the book Fairisle Knitting Simplified by Anne and Eugene Bourgeois of Philosophers Woo.l This time I am making more of an indoor cardigan by using DK weight yarn.
I believe DK will create a fabric weight similar to this jacket I sewed up in a size 4 from a draft in some fleece in my stash leftover from the hoodies I sewed for my grandchildren. I believe the shape will also work well in crochet.
I checked in with my favourite children's' reference book, Style Your Own Kids Knits by Kate Buller, of the Rowan yarn company.
Rowan sizing is generous, a is a good plan, as those lovely children do grow, meaning the cardi can be enjoyed for a long time. I am making a size 5 to 6. Another thing I like about Kate's book is the clear yarn amount information.
The shape and style of the Hanten Jacket is perfect for translating into modular knitting. Japanese style skill and craftmanship never fails to please me. I posted here about the Japanese clothing  exhibit at the Toronto at the Textile Museum.
I use 4 square to the inch graph paper as it is easy to find as well as easy to use. It is also slightly heavier than ordinary lined paper, making edits work well too.
One square of the paper to one inch of the garment gives plenty of room for a child size. For adults I simply tape pages together.
To get a PDF of my draft for the child's version just send me an email with the words Hanten Jacket in the subject line.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Classic Lopi Yoke Sweater, Mom and I.

20 years ago, Alafoss published Book 18, containing most garments made with what we understood as classic Lopi yarn. A full chunky for the 6 mm needle and a gauge of 13 stitches to 4 inches.  One of the other versions Lett Lopi was new to us with Einband and Plotulopi not available to the Canadian market. The company introduced lovely tweeds that year, so my mom, (Mrs Ferguson to the Whitby knitting public) decided to try it. This week, we received Book 37, with the complete range of yarn Alafoss makes. It is a new world, with designs and materials worked into so many wonderful designs.
Mum chose the model with a very cute light teal rolled hem, innovative at the time and the rich colours which perfectly complimented the tweed flecks in the main yarn.
I don't remember who she was knitting it for, however, also at around that time, she decided to retire and we moved the shop from downtown Whitby to Myrtle Station. The project was bundled up and put away along with many other materials. A Sleeping Beauty you might say.
In July, my mom passed away, quite suddenly actually, after a short illness. A few weeks later, while beginning sort we found the Lopi project. The body, and one sleeve complete.
In honour of my mom, who by the way, was the best stocking stitch knitter I ever knew, I decided to have a go at finishing it. I figured that because it was in the round, it was possible for me to work the material in a tension that although definitely not as smooth as hers would nonetheless turn out "not bad".
What I can say to our fellow knitters is, finishing this sweater, remembering mom's hands making the stitches as I made mine, was comforting, and very helpful to me. Our connection through skill and interest remains with me, solid and wonderful. Thanks mom.