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Monthly Archives: April 2014

  • Working with Multiple Strands of Yarn

    This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

    There are so many different patterns that call for working with two, three, or even four strands held together (our Spring 2014 Knit-Along pattern, the Spring Lace Shawl, calls for four). Why do designers like working with multiple strands? There are quite a few reasons. Different colors held together and worked together as one can create a tweedy color effect. Two different yarns together may create a unique texture. Other times, the multiple strands will make for one extremely bulky yarn which enables an afghan to be worked up very quickly. Here are a few examples:

    Marmalade Kimono Crochet Mother of the Bride Crochet 5/12 Hour Throw
    Knit Marmalade Kimono: Two colors held together for a tweedy look. Crochet Mother of the Bride Shawl: Two different yarns held together for a combined texture. Crochet 5 1/2 Hour Throw: Several strands held together for a fast finish project.

    If you've never knit or crocheted with multiple strands, don't worry: just pretend you are working with a single strand; each stitch is made as if you were holding one strand of yarn. That's really all there is to it.

    Once you get started, you may find the strands twist together. People have come up with all kinds of ideas to try to prevent this from happening. You can section off a shoebox, putting one skein in each section, and make holes in the top to feed the yarn through. There's even a gizmo specifically made for this purpose that you may see in stores. While these organizers will keep your balls from getting tangled into each other, they will not keep the strands of yarn from twisting as you knit or crochet them. This is in part due to how you wrap the yarn around your fingers as you feed it through as you work each stitch. I wrap it several times and every wrap twists it. Don't worry if this happens though; it makes no difference if the strands are twisted around each other or not. The stitches will look the same regardless.

    Here is the one word of caution however: it's easy for the strands to get so tangled that loose loops start to form. Just take care that you don't have any of these loops lurking as you work each stitch. If those loops are becoming a frequent problem, try running your fingers through and down the strands toward the skeins to eliminate some of them. If you are still having the problem, hold the strands of yarn and dangle the work itself, letting it spin to untwist the strands. I've found this a much easier solution than dangling the individual skeins.

    Enjoy your next multiple strand project!

    Want to learn more about creating colors by using multiple strands of yarn? Click here to read our popular blog post about the topic. 

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  • Chevrons to Love: the Zig Zag Dress

    This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. We're sharing the most recent story here in the blog. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

    Knit Zig Zag DressSamantha, my youngest child, has always been the most protected. I've knitted for her steadily all along, believing that my hand-made garments would somehow shield her. Maybe it's because she was a preemie—her miniature face overwhelmed by the baby bonnets I'd knitted months earlier. But she grew heartily, becoming an energetic, red-haired mop-top with strong lungs, much fiercer than her brothers. She loved to sing and got good parts in school musicals, belting out songs and reveling in the applause.

    Now a teen, Samantha's the classic package of ups and downs—surprising kindnesses, prickly outbursts, sentimental jags—wrapped in creative chaos. She did well in high school, was passionate about Drama Club and Math Team. College acceptances arrived; she agonized over two Midwestern universities, and oddly, all I thought of was what to knit for her to take to Chicago, against whose harsh winters she needed protection.

    Then I see this amazing pattern, an adorable, vivacious dress, with chevrons of snappy color angling up and down, and I think, "That’s my beautiful Sammy girl." I buy the yarn and start. Knitted on a number 9 circular in machine-washable, destruction-proof Heartland, it's undoubtedly the most enjoyable project I've ever tackled. It goes fast. Stitch and color variation make it interesting; imagining Sammy in it is, simply, a pleasure.

    Even with all this forethought, I wasn’t ready for her response when I gave her the dress as she left for Freshman Orientation. For once, my irrepressible daughter was speechless, and then, after we hugged she whispered, "Mama, this is the most absolutely perfect thing you’ve ever knitted for me."

    She sent me a photo-text last week. Standing on the Lake Michigan shore, she’s wearing the zig zag dress over a long-sleeved black tee, leggings, and sheepskin boots. She's got on a scarf, a hat, a sweater, and mittens that I knitted, too, but everything pales beside this dress.

    She wrote, "Mama, look, I'm covered in love!"

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    All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

    Selma Moss-Ward is a freelance writer who combines her love of writing and of knitting in her columns, stories, and blog posts. Selma is also an active classical musician and the caretaker of five wonderful pets. She lives with them and her husband in Rhode Island.

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  • Can You Run and Crochet Simultaneously? Susie Hewer Can!

    Susie Hewer Deramore Crochet
    (image courtesy of Deramores)

    We want to congratulate Susie Hewer "The Extreme Knitting Redhead", who ran the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday, April 13th and won the Guinness World Record for creating the longest crochet chain while running a marathon!  Sponsored by our friends over at Deramores in the UK, Susie used the bright, cheery Hometown USA while she crocheted.

    Susie began running to help support Alzheimer's Research UK after losing her mother to vascular dementia in 2005.  Every race that Susie runs is in dedication to her mother, and she has raised thousands of dollars for dementia research over the years.

    Crocheting is an art form that Susie embraces as a method of educating others on dementia. She uses crochet to teach how dementia breaks the links between cells until the brain can no longer function properly.  Additionally, her mother taught her to crochet when she was young, which makes this even more meaningful to her.

    We wish Susie well on her future endeavors and hope that she continues to inspire more people along her journey! You can read more on her blog here.

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