Archive for the ‘Lessons’ Category

pull yourself together, Daisy

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Hi Knitters,

Tomorrow I’m heading down to Pio Pio for the book signing and morning tea at Struan Farm on Saturday. There are 75 knitters coming! Wow! I’m so excited to meet everyone. I’m hoping David will drive so I can knit all the way (an easy project that allows for viewing the gorgeous countryside as we go).

A thought that’s been simmering in my brain all week: ask readers what kind of vintage patterns you’d like to have access to and why. I intend to make more available and it would be helpful to know what you’re interested in. Please leave comments.

Now to this wee lassie, Daisy Dachshund from my book.

Daisy is based on a real life gal who had quite a few adventures in her 15-year life, some of which involved breaking the law. She was a drama queen in the best way and was the beloved pet of my kids. Truth be told, I made this project for them, even though they’re adults now.

She’s a versatile little thing –  a soft toy or a pencil case. The publishers scratched their heads when they saw her and asked me to explain why she’s in the book, which I do.

Toys are such fun to knit and put together and I think the finishing is the fun part. They take on distinct personalities and sometimes it’s quite a surprise. They’re also wonderful gifts. I was looking through Susan B Anderson’s work the other day, on her blog and in her book Itty Bitty Toys, and came away with a big smile on my face. She must have so much fun coming up with those cuties!

Daisy is straightforward to make as a softie; you just have to join her across her back, by stitching or grafting. Here are some photos of how to make her as a pencil case. The written instructions for this are in the book, but I thought it would be helpful to see some photos:

Prepare the pocket insert. The fabric is stiffened with iron-on interfacing.

Before you place the pocket inside, stitch some fabric to the tops of her legs and to the base of her neck to keep the leg and head stuffing in place.


Place pocket

Baste around the top, leaving room for the zipper to be inserted between the lining and the knitting.

Now she’s ready for inserting the zipper


I’m exhausted after all that, say Daisy, I think I’ll have a lie down and rest until car pool arrives to take me to school

a variation on Kitchener

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

This little bag is my India’s first sewing project.  I took it out of storage the other bright sunny day and gave it an airing. It reminded me that even if we think our attempts at something are imperfect, we should never discard them, because when seen afresh they might just be beautiful.

There’s always something new to learn. In knitting as in life.

My latest lesson came in the form of a need to join two pieces of 1+1 rib at the back of a neck.

A bit of research led me to the discovery that there is a way of doing this which, although not perfect, does make a fairly seamless join.

As far as I can see, there is only 1 disadvantage, and here it is:

The resulting join does not stretch and so should not be used in a place where it will be required to (the back of a neck is an ideal place for it, therefore)

So, here is what to do:

1. First, take your 2 pieces of knitting, with equal numbers of stitches on each needle.

2. Slide the alternate purl stitches from each needle onto smaller needles. I tried placing these stitches on a spare thread, but found this to be problematic because the stitches tended to lose their tension which was a problem when I placed them back on the needle. This often happens to me when I place stitches on a spare thread, as for underarms. Does this happen to anyone else? A proper stitch holder seems like the best solution.

Note: this process involves quite a bit of finagling and a couple of swear words, mainly because you’re sliding stitches from one needle onto two different needles while keeping them facing in the right direction. When you’ve finished this part of the process a cup of tea and a deep breath are advisable.

Then you’ll be ready to do the deed.

3. Holding the knit stitches on the needles close together, graft them using Kitchener Stitch.

Here is a reminder of the four steps of Kitchener.

Step 1: Place sts to be joined onto two separate needles. Hold the needles parallel with points facing to the right and so that  the right sides of knitting  are facing outwards.

Bring threaded needle through front st as if to purl and leave st on the needle.

Step 2: Bring threaded needle through back st as if to knit and leave st on the needle.

Step 3: Bring threaded needle through the same front st as if to knit and slip this st off the needle. Bring threaded needle through next front st as if to purl and leave st on the needle.

Step 4: Bring threaded needle through first back st as if to purl, slip that st off the needle, bring needle through next back st as if to knit, leave this st on the needle.

Repeat steps 3 & 4 until no sts remain on needle.

4. When you’re done, turn the work over, transfer the “purl” sts from the smaller needles to the working needles, and graft them together.

The result will be a piece that is joined but does not have the elasticity of rib in that one place. A small price to pay.

catching up

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Hello! I’ve been buried under a pile of knitting projects for most of this year and not able to show off to you because I must wait for them to be unveiled. More on this in coming weeks, hopefully.

I do manage to squeeze in the very necessary Small Project from time to time, especially while I’m watching DVDs.

My latest SP was this cowl. With a circular needle, some scrumptious yarn and a good stitch dictionary, you can make one like it or one of your own design.

Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns is my favourite. You can’t go wrong with Barbara.

For Polly’s Cowl I used the Scroll Pattern on page 220.

I made it while watching a superb, inspiring documentary, A Bigger Picture, featuring the brilliant David Hockney who moved from Los Angeles where he’d spent many years, back to his native Yorkshire to paint. And what paintings they are. The English countryside as you’ve never seen or imagined it. If you love colour, you’ll love this film. I’ve now watched it twice and I’m going to buy it so that I can watch it every time I’m lacking inspiration!

You have to love a man who makes a whole book’s worth of paintings of his own precious dachsies:

Back to my cowl and the practicalities of adapting stitch patterns.

Most are written for flat rather than circular knitting, so if you’re going to work them in the round, you need to do a bit of translating.

1. When deciding how many stitches to cast on, leave off the extra edge stitches at the beginning and end of each row.  For example, “multiple of 10 plus 2″ changes into  “multiple of 10″.  Your repeat  will be what’s in parentheses only.

2. Pay attention to the alternate (wrong side) rows. In some patterns they are simply purled. These you would knit in the round. But if the alternate rows are patterned, you must translate. For example:

In  “Scroll”  Row 2 is written thus:

P2 tog, p7, yo, p1.

Because you’re working from the opposite direction, and still on the right side of the fabric, it will turn into this:

K1, yo, k7, k2 tog. It’s backwards.

note: P2 tog-b on the wrong side becomes ssk on the right side.

You’ll need to make a swatch to determine how many stitches to cast on for your cowl, so you might as well use the opportunity to work the pattern back and forth for one repeat to get familiar with the way it works. This will make the translating easier.

For Polly’s Cowl I used a 9 mm [US13] 60 cm circular needle, 2 strands of aran weight yarn, and cast on 70 sts. I wanted it to be generous. If you want a more fitting cowl, you will need a 40cm needle.

Remember I was yak-king about men who love knitting a while back?

Here’s Ryan again, in a Fair Isle beanie he designed and knit himself. Gorgeous, eh? ( boy and beanie)

I’m still not sure why knitting is still considered by some to be fuddy duddy. Polly and Ryan above would seem to indicate otherwise? Sadly, there are many here in NZ who mistakenly think this and no amount of evidence to the contrary will change their minds, it seems, although it’s always worth trying.

It’s not so in the USA, at least in my experience, although I tend to mix with the choir. I don’t know if it’s the case in the UK, Australia, or other countries?

Here, I meet knitters who say their work mates (usually women) laugh at them because they knit. Wow. What an archaic attitude.

Don’t they realize that while they think they’re terribly modern, paying for horrid acrylic scarves, we’re knitting beautiful  things with lovely soft yarns in gorgeous colours and having fun into the bargain?

We knitters can not only make it ourselves, we also get to have fun while doing it. Lucky us. Spread the word!