Solving knitting problems: Cable mistakes

One frustrating thing that can happen with you knitting, is to look down and realise that you have cabled the wrong way.

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But if the mistake is only a few rows down, rather than rip out at the rest of your cabling, there is a way of untwisting that one rogue cable.

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Arrange your work so that the stitches each side of your cable are on separate needles and pin your work to a foam or cork board. Only drop the stitches that form the top crossing part of the cable off your needles. In this example it is the three right hand stitches of the cable.

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Drop those stitches down to just before the last cable cross and pin the ladder of strands created out of the way.

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Place the three dropped stitches on a safety pin and slip under the other half of the cable – this will happen very easily.

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Use a crochet hook to pick up the stitches one at a time, making sure that you work up the “ladder” strands in the correct order.

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When all the stitches have been picked up you will have a correctly aligned cable.

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Baby knits – a first step to big knits

When we are out and about at craft shows we often meet people who tell us that they have been knitting for a while but they are nervous about trying to make a whole garment. Of course we also meet people whose first project was a jumper but this blog is for the first group.

There are lots of reasons why newish knitters may be nervous about tackling their first jumper even if they have used quite complex colourwork or patterns for hats and scarves. They include:

  • What if I spend a lot of money on yarn and then can’t finish the sweater?
  • I don’t understand how cardigans go together.
  • I’ve never really done any shaping.
  • I’m worried about sewing up.

One way to help someone get past these worries is to suggest they start with a baby garment.

The great thing about baby garments is that you can find pretty much every style of sweater or cardigan you can think of. So you can find bottom-up and top-down designs, raglan and set-in sleeves, colourwork, lace, cables etc. Have a look at the UK Hand Knitting baby pattern collection here for an example of this.

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So by picking a baby sweater in a similar style to something you’d like to make in an adult size you can learn about shaping, sleeves, picking up stitches for a neckband and all the techniques while only using a couple of balls of yarn from your stash. This is a good way to build up confidence with the techniques and you will always find a grateful recipient for a baby cardigan whether that be a friend or relation or a local charity.

And if you don’t believe there is a relationship between these mini knits and a grown up sweater, check out this blog post from Let’s Knit magazine about baby knits and their adult equivalents.

Tips for choosing yarn colour

Most knitters will have heard a story like this:

A customer in a local yarn shop has looked through piles of patterns but can’t find what she wants. The LYS owner asks what she is looking for. “I want a red sweater, “ says the customer, “but none of these are red.”

And all though we might laugh, we all know that sometimes choosing a different colour for a pattern can be difficult.

There are lots of reasons why a pattern will be pictured in a particular colour. It could be the designer’s favourite shade, because it fits with the theme of a collection or magazine, or because it is a colour for the yarn that season, for example.

However it may not be a colour that you like or want to work in. So how do you decide what shade to use instead?

First of all, will the colour you choose go with your or someone else’s colour scheme, whether that be in terms of clothes or home depending on what you plan to make?

Remember that colours can complement each other, you don’t need to match exact shades necessarily.

Once you have some shades or colours in mind look to see what is on offer in the yarn but think about which of your options have the same tone as the original pattern colour. This is because using a lighter or darker tone could affect how your stitches and pattern detail show up.

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Different colours or tones can make the stitch pattern look different

And don’t forget to make sure all your yarn of one colour is from the same dyelot – it is very frustrating when you discover that one section of your beautifully made jumper is a different shade.

Colourwork

Whether making something using Fair Isle, stripes or any other colour technique choosing your yarn shades can seem complicated.

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You want colours to work together but be different enough for the pattern to show. A colour wheel can be helpful here.

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Using colours that are near each other on the wheel (analogous colours) will give you a more tonal effect, whereas colours from opposite side (complementary) will result in more popping contrasts. Looking at a colour wheel may help you narrow down what yarn shades might work together for your project.

Then if you are shopping in a local yarn shop, hold your shortlisted colours together to help you imagine how the colours will look in your finished piece.

If you are shopping online, copy pictures of the yarn in the different shades you are considering. Then you can use some photo-editing software or a free collage maker like picmonkey.com to look at the colours side by side.

The more you play with colour and experiment the more confident your will become putting colours together or spotting which shades will best show off a stitch pattern.

Summer knitting projects for kids

As the schools break up for the summer, many people’s thoughts are turning to how to keep their kids occupied for the summer.

One way is to teach them to knit or crochet – see our tips here – but what if they have already mastered the basics? How do you keep them interested when the everlasting scarf for teddy no longer cuts any ice?

Projects that are relevant to them and aren’t too overwhelming are a good idea. With this in mind we’ve put together a few project suggestions.

Toys

A simple garter stitch teddy, or even a dinosaur (like the ones pictured below), can be a good project introducing a little shaping and new techniques without being a mammoth project.

Some children may think they are too old for a toy but they can be encouraged to make a present for a new baby you may know or a younger sibling. Not only do they get the satisfaction of completing a project but also some appreciation for their work.

Gadget cases

Basic rectangular knitting or crochet is great for making gadget and pencil cases. They are a way for encouraging children to practice but they also offer opportunities for them to add their own style through stripes and embellishments.

Homewares

Older children might want to put their own stamp on their bedroom. One way would be to encourage them to make their own cushion covers (chunky yarn is a good option here) or starting a granny square blanket (if they run out of steam, the square might become a cushion cover instead).

Yarn choice

Involving kids in the choice of the yarn for their projects will also help engage them. Think about interesting yarns such as self-striping, tape and chainette yarns and different materials such as raffia or making their own T-shirt yarn or “plarn”. Unusual colour combinations and vivid neons might also prove popular and keep interest in a simple scarf.

Garter stitch dinosaurs from Sirdar would be a good first toy project http://www.sirdar.co.uk/designs/funknits/4632 : If the kids don’t want to knit for themselves how about for a pet as with this dog coast from Stylecraft http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Life+Chunky+Pattern+9179+Striped+Dog+Coat/0_CAFA110/PRNC360.htm : These cookie and cupcake cushions from James C Brett might be popular with developing knitters: These Wendy cushions could be adapted to many colour schemes http://www.tbramsden.co.uk/catalog/patterns/Accessories-1/5974:Yarns like this Lolli chainette from Conway+Bliss might keep kids interested in their projects: Crochet gadget cases from King Cole will lend themselves easily to embellishments such as buttons and badges

Garter stitch dinosaurs from Sirdar would be a good first toy project: If the kids don’t want to knit for themselves how about for a pet as with this dog coat from Stylecraft: Cookie and cupcake cushions from James C Brett might be popular with developing knitters: These Wendy cushions could be adapted to many colour schemes: Yarns like this Lolli chainette from Conway+Bliss might keep kids interested in their projects: Crochet gadget cases from King Cole will lend themselves easily to embellishments such as buttons and badges

Behind the scenes: What makes a good sample knitter?

At UK Hand Knitting we are often asked about sample knitting for designers ad yarn companies. So in our latest look behind the scenes we talked to David MacLeod, Design Manager at Rowan about working with sample knitters and what the job entails.

How important are good quality sample knitters?

It’s very important to have good quality knitters because their work represents us in our brochures and pictures, also it costs time and money if garments are not knitted correctly as we may have to have them reknitted.

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It is essential that sample garments are well knitted or crocheted for photography as well as to test that the patterns work. Patterns: Felbrigg, Mie and Hiyama from Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine 59

What skills are important in a sample knitter  – being able to knit to tension, following instructions precisely, etc?

The skills are exactly as you’ve said – being precise and working to tension – and also it’s nice to have someone who  takes pride in what they’re knitting.

We do have a regular group of knitters and some ladies who like to knit more than others. It’s very hard to find good knitters who are experienced enough to knit our garments and knitters that are prepared to do any project.

One of the most important skills is feedback which may include feedback on the yarn itself or on the pattern or design, so our knitters need to be good communicators.

How do you find your sample knitters? Do you work with a regular group of them?

We sometimes get emails from people asking if they can knit for us, or we send out an email to ask for applicants. All knitters have to pass a knitting skills test.

We do have bank of sample knitters that we use on a regular basis.

 

 

Are you ready to Commit to Knit?

June is Commit to Knit month 2016, when we ask you to pledge to knit an item (or more than one) for charity.

The month follows on from our first Commit to Knit campaign last year when hundreds of knitters and crocheters signed up to make items for a number of charities with yarn based projects. This year we have decided run the campaign in June to coincide with Worldwide Knit in Public day on Saturday 18 June, and we hope that some of you will organise charity-knitting events through your knitting groups on the day.

This year we are focusing on eight charities and have worked with our member yarn companies to put together a set of patterns – one for each of the charities The charities are we are supporting are Knit For Peace, Project Linus, Knit A Square, Oxfam, RSPCA, Mission To Seafarers, Bonnie Babies and  AYME Mums.

We have teamed up with Immediate Media, publisher of Simply Knitting, Simply Crochet and The Knitter, to create a Commit to Knit pattern booklet which will be given away with copies of those magazines over the next few weeks.

The patterns will also be made available of the UK Hand Knitting website over the period of the campaign. Three of the patterns are already on the site for you to make a start – click here to see our egg cosy, crochet tulip and preemie hat patterns.

How to Commit

If you want to knit or crochet something for charity during June please sign up to the campaign here. And if your knitting group would like to pick a charity to knit for during the campaign or would like to organise a charity knitting in public event, you can join the campaign here.

There will be suggestions and advice on organising an event in future weeks and we’ll be running prizes draws for individuals and groups who sign up during June.

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Look out for the Commit to Knit booklet with Simply Knitting, Simply Crochet and The Knitter magazines

 

Facing the one skein challenge

Do you have lots of single skeins or only a couple of balls of particular yarns in your stash? It is very easy to be tempted by a new yarn and buy one or two balls to try it out. The problem can be deciding what you can make with 50g or 100g of yarns.

Unless you are going for a patchwork approach, full-sized garments are out but there are a surprising amount of items you can make out of just a ball or two of yarn.

Clutch bags, purses and phone cosies are all good options and offer the opportunity to try out new stitch patterns as well. You can play about with texture or if you have a couple of skeins in two colours you could try some fair isle or crochet colourwork.

Cosy accessories can easily be made from one or two skeins. A beanie hat is easily produced from 50g of 4ply, DK or aran yarn and you should manage a hat and mitten set or a snuggly scarf from 100g. And there are plenty of shawlette patterns using a mere 100g.

Homewares offer lots of options from table mats and wash clothes to egg, tea or mug cosies. Or you might have a go at creating some felted bowls.

Baby gifts can be another great way to use up a lonely ball or two. Plus you might manage a whole garment such as a slipover or a tunic for a newborn, as well as hat and mitten sets.

Socks are of course a perfect one skein project – that’s what 100g balls of sock yarn are designed for after all.

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Some one skein inspirations: Acorn Cowl in Araucania Botany Lace; Cup cozies from Red Heart; Man’s beanie in Stylecraft Life beanie; UKHKA baby waistcoats; Sirdar Crofter tea cosies; James C Brett crochet hat in Noodles

To help you (and us) use up those beautiful but small quantities of yarn, we’re starting a “one skein challenge”. The aim is to do one small project using no more than 100g of yarn on a regular basis (one of our team is trying for one challenge project a month). We’re adding a section to our Ravelry group for people to share patterns and finished projects.

So please comment below if you fancy taking up the challenge or have a one skein pattern to recommend – and do join our Ravelry group. We’ll be asking for updates on your one skein wonders on Facebook and Twitter during the year.