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Monthly Archives: October 2011

  • 5 Tips on How to Design and Make a Scarf

    Whether you're a beginner interested in making your first project special or an experienced designer looking for a new endeavor, designing your own scarf is a wonderful project. Scarves can be as plain or complex as you like, and since you won't have to worry about fit, scarf projects are the perfect opportunity to try out new skills or yarns. If you have made scarves before and want to try designing your own scarf from scratch, the tips below can help get you started. If you prefer working with a pattern and modifying as you go, click here to see all the scarf patterns available for free online at LionBrand.com.

    Try these 5 tips to design a scarf that is perfect for your taste and style.

    Metropolis Scarf Easily Customize Length & StyleMost scarves are designed to be a single, long strip of material. If you already have a favorite scarf pattern that you'd like to make in a new way, try making that strip into a new shape. You can get the look of an extra long scarf like the Metropolis Scarf to the left by adding more rows of the stitch pattern. If you feel adventurous, you can even sew the ends together to make a long infinity-style scarf.
    Craft with Yarn Learn a New CraftIf you normally stick to one craft, a new scarf is a  perfect opportunity to try out knitting, loom knitting, crochet, or weaving. If you're interested in learning a new craft or just brushing up on your skills, click these links to Learn to Crochet and Learn to Knit, and watch our videos on Loom Knitting and Weaving.
    Stitch Patterns Try a New Stitch PatternBecause scarves are typically a simple rectangle, a new stitch pattern can make all the difference to the look of your project. Take a look at the Lion Brand.com  Stitch Finder for inspiration.
    Yarns Choose a Yarn You LoveA new scarf is a great opportunity to work with a new yarn for the first time. Because scarves tend to be of simpler construction, so be sure to pick a yarn that you love to make a scarf you'll love wearing. Click here to see all the colors and styles of yarn on LionBrand.com
    Make Tassels Add Details and AdornmentsClever details like tassels, fringe, appliques and buttons are part of what makes designer scarves so highly coveted. They can also make your handmade scarf uniquely you. Click here to learn how to make your own tassels like the ones to the left. You can add buttons, beads, patches, trims or pockets to your scarf, the sky is the limit.

    Choosing new yarns, trying out stitch patterns and adding details will truly make your scarf one of a kind and uniquely perfect for you.

    Have you ever designed or modified a scarf? Share your story in the comments section below!

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  • How to Hand Felt with a Little Help from Your Kitchen

    I've always wanted to be a certain famous pig for Halloween, so when my boyfriend expressed an interest in being a certain famous frog (news reporter fedora included), I jumped at the chance.

    Naturally, I decided to knit the pig ears and nose I needed for my costume -- and for some added authenticity, to felt them as well! Since the pieces were small, I hand felted them in a hot bath using just a few tools I already had in my kitchen. Here's how I did it.

    Not all yarns are created equal. In order for your project to felt properly, you must use non-superwash yarn made from animal fibers. I used Martha Stewart Crafts™ Merino in Milkglass Pink. [Note: For a pattern, I searched online for a knitted leaf pattern and modified the shaping.]
    I got my felting tools in order: a large saucepan to hold the project, potato masher to agitate it, and shampoo to help speed along the process. [Note: I do not suggest using a non-stick pan for your felting project. As an alternative, try filling a sink for your project. Just be sure that you have a good-quality strainer to catch stray fibers.]
    I put the pan directly into my kitchen sink in case I would splash a lot of water around. Then, I drizzled my project with shampoo and filled the pan with very hot tap water -- too hot for me to touch! I grabbed my potato masher and, using a twisting motion, started agitating my project. [Note: In addition to helping with agitation, the potato masher has the added benefit of letting you use extra hot water, since you don't have to touch the project with your hands.]
    After a minute or so, my project appeared to stretch out. [Note: If this happens to you, don't worry! The fibers spread and become more malleable when they are introduced to hot water. The agitation is what causes the felting.]
    5 minutes later, as you can see, the stitches started to shrink together. [Note: If your water cools down or becomes too sudsy, pour it out and add new soap and water. I changed my soap every 10 minutes or so.]
    After another 10 minutes, my fabric started looking more like actual felt. [Note: Some stitches, like the ones on the edges of the right ear, still hadn't felted. I made sure to focus on those areas when I returned the ears to the water.]
    Another 10 minutes later, my project had felted completely. I soaked the pieces with hot water and vigorously rubbed them together to finish the process.
    After rinsing the pieces and rolling them in a towel to remove excess water, I blocked them around soup spoons to give them my desired shape.
    Here are the fruits of my labor. Fit for the most glamorous of pigs, if I may say so myself!

    Are you incorporating yarncrafts into yours or your kids' Halloween costumes this year? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: Time for Sleeves and Blocking

    Welcome back to the Wisteria KAL! I hope working the front of your sweater went well and working through the "at the same time" was a success. Now that the body of the sweater is done, it's time to give it some sleeves! When working sleeves I find it helpful to work them both at the same time for two reasons: it helps ensure they turn out the same shape and length, and they are both done at the same time! Personally I'm not a big fan of knitting the same exact thing twice, so it's really nice to get them done all in one go. After working the top of the front piece at the same time, working on both sleeves is a snap!

    To set up for knitting both sleeves at once, you'll need two separate balls of yarn and a long needle, preferably a circular needle at least 29" long. Using one ball, cast on the instructed number of stitches for one sleeve, then drop that yarn. Now using your second ball, cast on the same number of stitches for the second sleeve. Now start knitting across both sleeves -- just be sure to use the yarn attached to each sleeve and not carry the same strand all the way across both! Here's a shot of my sleeves in progress:

    Knitting the sleeves

    The sleeves begin with 3 inches of ribbing, just like the body pieces, then increases begin immediately in the stockinette section and continue for most of the sleeve. The increase used for the sleeves is the knit into the front and back (kfb), and you can learn more about how to work this stitch by clicking here. There are many repeats of the increase row as you work your way up the sleeve, so it's important to keep track of how many you have done. The nice thing about the kfb increase is that it makes what looks kind of like a purl bump (a little bar) on the right side of your work so you can count your increases if you lose track. Once the increases are completed, work even until the indicated length (or your desired length, measured from wrist to underarm). Afterward it's on to the sleeve cap!

    Sleeve caps can be a bit tricky, but we'll make it through with the help of our row gauge. Remember back in the post about gauge when I told you to go with the needle size that gives you stitch gauge but to know what your row gauge is? This is when it comes into play: the instructions for shaping the sleeve cap are based on the row gauge of the pattern (6 rows/inch) so that the finished cap will fit into the armhole depth we already knit. If your row gauge is off, you may end up with a sleeve cap that is too tall or too short to properly fit into the armhole. But don't despair! It takes a bit of math so bear with me, but we can figure out how to make your sleeve cap fit based on your own row gauge.

    After the initial bind-offs every row, the pattern says to repeat the decrease row every other row (every right-side row), which is the same as saying every 1/3 inch (2 rows at 6 rows/inch gauge, 2 rows divided by 6 rows/inch equals 1/3 inch). To calculate when you should work your decreases, multiply your row gauge by 1/3 inch to find out how often you should increase. However, from your comments in the gauge post, it sounds like that most of you are getting a row gauge of just slightly over 6 rows/inch - somewhere in the range of 26-30 rows over 4 inches, which will give you an increase every 2.5 rows or so. In that case, I would advise that you throw in a regular knit row (with no increase) a few times along the way (and purl back) to make your cap a bit taller, then you can block it to the exact shape later. If your row gauge is looser (less than 6 rows/inch), you may need to make a few decreases on the purl rows so your cap doesn't get too tall before you complete your decreases. My best advice is just to keep an eye on how tall the cap is getting and refer to the schematic in the pattern to make sure you are on track for the right size. Your sleeves should end up looking roughly like this:

    Sleeves

    As you are working on your sleeves, it's a good time to block the front and back of your sweater so they can dry while you keep knitting. To block my pieces, I fill my bathroom sink with lukewarm water and a cap-full of wool wash (why not clean it while I'm at it, right?). I leave it for 10-15 minutes then drain the water and gently squish the pieces to remove excess water. I carefully transfer my knitting to a towel, scooping them up so they don't stretch out of shape when wet, and then roll them in the towel to get out more of the excess water. I lay out my blocking boards (a yoga mat or layered towels work, too!) then get my blocking wires, pins, a measuring tape and the pattern schematic. Being careful to follow the schematic measurements, I pin out both pieces of the sweater to the size indicated, measuring each part as I pin and adjusting as necessary. I personally don't block out the ribbing and instead start my pins and wires above the ribbing because I want it to retain its natural tendency to pull in. If you want to the bottom of your sweater to be less shaped, you can also pin out your ribbing, but keep in mind that it will have less elasticity. This is how it looked once I was done:

    Blocking

    Now let the pieces air dry. Repeat this process with your sleeves once they are knit as well, and next week we'll be ready to seam the pullover and knit the collar! A finished sweater is soooo close! Have a great week!

    Related links:

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