Archive for May, 2015

Summertime Shawl

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

As the calendar flips over to June this week, the anticipation of summer activities is at an all-time high.  There may be a long weekend camping trip to plan, an end-of-school trek to the amusement park, or the annual family picnic to organize followed up by a road trip to a friend’s cottage and let’s not forget all those magical days of just hanging out in between.  For knitters, there isn’t much that stops our needles from clicking, and part of the ritual of summer is finding a tag along project, not too big, and not too challenging, something that fills the time and gradually becomes a stitch by stitch compilation of our favorite memories.

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This shawl is knit in our newest worsted weight cotton blend, Summertime, in a trio of colours that represents the season perfectly from the lushness of cool green grass to the sparkling blue of a favorite lake, and the stunning sunset that tops off an ideal day.

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An easy style to knit and wear as a lightweight shawl or a fashionable neck scarf.

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SUMMERTIME SHAWL

Finished Size: 211 cm/83 ins x 43 cm/17 ins

Yarn: Summertime by Diamond Luxury Collection 100g skein each in col. #162 (MC), #160 (A), #161 (B)

Needles: 5.00 mm/ US 8 – 32 ins/80 cm circular

Tension: 15 sts and 30 rows = 10 cm/4 ins in garter stitch

Abbreviations:

Kfb: Knit into front and back.

Tbl: Through back loop.

Yo: Yarn over needle.

 

Cast on 3 sts with (MC).

Row 1: K to last st, kfb.

Row 2: K2, yo, k to last 2 sts, k2togtbl.

Rep these 2 rows throughout in Stripe Sequence I as follows-

30 rows in (MC), 2 rows in (A), 2 rows in (MC).  Cut (MC).

30 rows in (A), 2 rows in (B), 2 rows in (A).  Cut (A).

30 rows in (B), 2 rows in (MC), 2 rows in (B).  Cut (B).

Rep 102 rows of Stripe Sequence I once, then rep first 34 rows only.

Continue in Stripe Sequence II as follows for 30 rows-

2 rows in (A).

2 rows in (B).

Cast off loosely in (A).

Fringes (optional):

Cut strands of each colour in 35.5 cm/14 ins lengths.

Attach one fringe consisting of all three cols. in first and every following third cast off st.

Design by: Michele Meadows

Picking vs Throwing

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

“Are you a picker or a thrower?”  Try posing this question as an icebreaker at your next knitting-related gathering.  You may get a few puzzled looks or an answer pertaining to baseball but the majority of knitters know that there is a great divide when it comes to technique.  Although there is virtually no difference to the finished work, there is a huge distinction in the appearance and actual method of achieving that end result and a great deal of controversy over which method is the fastest.

Picking is the term which refers to Continental knitting, and involves the use of the opposite hand (usually the left) to hold the yarn.  The tip of the working needle grabs or ‘picks’ the yarn while the left index finger acts as a lever to regulate tension by holding the yarn slightly up to tighten and down to slacken the stitch.  The wrist is constantly in motion flicking forwards for purl position and backwards for knit.  Hands are situated over the needles and there is a strong resemblance to crochet which makes it easier for dual crafters to adopt this style.  Originating in Germany, Continental knitting made its way to surrounding countries in the early nineteenth century and eventually to North America where Elizabeth Zimmermann was instrumental in its introduction.

Continental Knitting Method

Continental Knitting Method

Throwing refers to the method of English knitting which consists of the yarn being held in the dominant hand (usually the right).  The yarn runs from the ball around the baby finger and is wrapped over the index finger for tension control.  An overhand position on the needles is generally more favorable although some knitters prefer an underhand hold for support.  To create a stitch, the right hand moves upward reaching to ‘throw’ the yarn over the tip of the needle.  This can be achieved by quickly releasing the right hand from its hold on the needle or with a bit of practice by sliding the hand along the shaft of the needle.

English Knitting Method

English Knitting Method

The Switch: There is always a fair bit of wiggle room for improving your knitting technique, and the payoff for learning both the Continental and the English method comes when you are working in fairisle.  With practice and patience, holding one strand in the right and one strand in the left hand will vastly improve speed, plus the notorious tangled mess will be eliminated.  If its just overall speed that you are hoping to achieve, then this instructional video on Continental knitting is a great place to start as well as signing up for a hands-on workshop at your local yarn shop.

Tip: To learn the Continental method try working on a sample in the round first, practicing just the knit stitch for a few days and then attempt the purl stitch on its own for a few days.

Amigurumi

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Whimsical creatures with oversized heads that fit easily onto a keychain, into a pocket or the palm of your hand, this is the fantasy world of amigurumi.  A new-fangled way of paper-folding?  Not quite….. Amigurumi is the art of creating stuffed miniature characters as well as realistic-looking edible delights, typically by crocheting very tight close stitches in a cylindrical fashion entirely without seams to sew.  Originating in Japan decades ago, it wasn’t until the last fifteen years that this imaginative craft got its feet wet worldwide by making a big splash on the internet via well-known sites such as Etsy and Ravelry.  While these disarmingly cute critters are sometimes gifted to children as soft toys, the real appeal is to the kid in all of us.

Its a small world after all…  

Amigurumi Craft Packs by Katia

Amigurumi Craft Packs by Katia

Katia offers four snack-pack assortments in Amigurumi, with each package containing ‘ten by ten’ (ten grams of sturdy cotton in ten colours) for all your project needs.

The Wolf and the Sheep by Katia

The Wolf and the Sheep by Katia

These two unlikely pals, The Wolf and The Sheep go peacefully hand-in-hand in the world of amigurumi.  Make this darling duo as a special storybook gift set for the smaller fry in your life.  FREE Pattern.

Long-Legged Kitty

Tiny Long-Legged Cat by Kristi Tullus

A feline with attitude, just big enough to hang around on your desk for a good squeeze when work stress puts your patience to the test, this Tiny Long-Legged Cat is only 12 cm from tip-to-toe, (hardly big enough to stir up a fuss) and could be crocheted in a mixed rainbow of colours.  FREE pattern.

Beavers

Beavers by Sharon Ojala

Canada’s national mascot, the beaver has gnawed its way into the hearts of amigurumi fans, and just in time for summer visitors from faraway to take home as token souvenirs.  FREE Pattern.

Simple Baby Carrots by

Simple Baby Carrots by Anne-Caroline Alard

Much more than just a bevy of cute critters, the art of amigurumi has also found its way from the supermarket, with pint-sized replicas of fruit, vegetables and sweet treats.  These Simple Baby Carrots are ideal for beginners to learn how to shape a cylindrical object before taking on a more challenging project.  FREE Pattern.

For more fun ideas, Ravelry has two pages of free patterns suitable for using Katia Amigurumi  right here.