Get creative and help Innocent’s Big Knit collect a record two million hats

This year’s The Big Knit, from Innocent, is calling knitters, crafters and creators to submit their weird and wonderful woolly designs, to make it the biggest ever. The campaign run by Innocent, the smoothie company, raises money for Age UK by asking knitters and crocheters to create hats for the drink bottle. For every bottle sold with a hat, Innocent donates 25p to Age UK to help keep older people warm and well over winter. The campaign has raised over £1.9m so far. And this year it’s aiming for the biggest knit yet with a target of two million hats.

So we have decided to help them on our stands at some of the big craft shows this spring.

And as you can see from this selection of mini hats made on our stand at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, it is possible to be very creative with 28 stitches and just and few rows.

You can find a wide range of patterns on the Big Knit website or you can use the basic beginner hat pattern as a template to let your imagination go wide. Try a new stitch pattern, create a mini sculpture or go made with colour – this is an opportunity to get creative and use up your woolly oddments

Then simply send your hat or hats with a little note of your details to The Big Knit, Fruit Towers, Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5BU.

Or find us at the Hobbycraft and Sewing for Pleasure Shows at the NEC, Birmingham, 16-19 March, to make a mini hat with our volunteers.

the big knit

Increasing with and without holes

Our yarn doctors report that one of the regular questions they are asked at yarn shows is about doing neat increases.

For most knitters, their first experience of increasing is by accident when they create a stitch and (inevitably a hole) by knitting into some part of the knitting that isn’t a stitch or by accidently wrapping some yarn round the needle between stitches.

Once they’ve learned to avoid these problems, knitters will tend to learn one type of increase but this can be confusing because different patterns can call for different increases and if you don’t understand the technique you can end up with unintentional holes.

Kfb – knit front and back

knitting increases

This form of increasing uses one stitch to make two. You first knit normally into the stitch but instead of dropping the loop off the left hand needle at the end, you knit into the back of it first, creating two stitches from one.

It is important to remember that this method uses an existing stitch to increase. It is most commonly what is meant by “inc 1” or “inc in next st” in patterns but it is important to check the pattern to make sure.

This method of increasing creates a little horizontal bar at the base of the new stitch, to the left, as you can see above. This means you cannot create exactly symmetrical lines of stitching which some designers prefer. However it is a neat increase method.

M1 – make 1 stitch

A “make 1” increase uses the space between two stitches to create a new one. The left hand needle is inserted under the “bar”, the horizontal strand of yarn between two stitches, and then you work into that new loop to create a stitch.

increased knitting

There are two ways to do this:

mi stitch

  1. Insert tip of left need from back to front of workIn this case you knit the “new” stitch normally .
    This will give you an increase that leans slightly to the right as on the right hand side of the swatch picture above.
  2. Insert tip of left need from front to back of workm-1-f2b

    In this case, you knit into the back of the new stitch, creating an increase that leans slightly to the left (as pictured above).

It is very important to work into the new stitch as indicated because this will twist the picked up yarn – otherwise you will create a small hole in your work.

The left and right leaning increases can be useful when symmetrical increases are needed. In some pattern instructions you will see these abbreviated as M1R and M1L. Always check the pattern notes to be sure you understand which version is needed.

Remember that a make 1 increase doesn’t use any existing stitches.

Yarn over increase

This is an intentional version of those accidental increases we started with.

yos

A yarn over increase is worked by simply putting the yarn over the needle between two stitches and working into it on the next row creating a new stitch with a hole below. It is most commonly used in lace and is often paired with a decrease.

Remember to always read the pattern carefully to check what type of increase ins required.

You will find our Yarn Doctors on the UK Hand Knitting stand at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at London Olympia, 2-5 March 2017

 

Spring summer yarns 2017

We’ve seen glimmers of sunshine this week but inside the yarn shops spring and summer is definitely on the way with lots of yarns for warmer weather appearing.

With so many spring and summer yarns hitting the shops we thought we’d pick out a few to inspire you with thoughts of summery colours, lightweight fibres and draping fabrics .

spring summer yarn 2017

Clockwise from left: Sirdar Toscana DK; Rico Creative Melange Lace; James C Brett Cotton On Denim; Debbie Bliss Sita; King Cole Giza Cotton Sorbet; Stylecraft Mystique; Wendy Fleur DK

Sirdar Toscana DK

This 100% cotton yarn has a subtle, phased colour effect yarn comes in six shades inspired by Tuscany in Italy – what could be more summery?

James C Brett Cotton On Denim DK 

Another interesting colour option for cotton tops this summer comes with Cotton On Denim DK. This is a 50/50 cotton/acrylic blend that’s light, soft, and washable which comes in semi solid shades based on fading denim from traditional blue to a pink/red tone.

Wendy Fleur DK 

Fleur (44% cotton, 28% tencel, 28% acrylic) brings a different texture to your summer knitters. It is a lightly brushed yarn which knits into a light, airy fabric especially with lace stitches. It is available in both bright and pale shades.

King Cole Giza Cotton Sorbet 4Ply

If you prefer a lighter weight 100% cotton yarn, King Cole’s Giza Cotton 4ply comes in a range of multi-pastel shades inspired by summer drinks.

Stylecraft Mystique

For those looking for something different this summer, take a look at Mystique, a non-woven tape yarn made from a polyester and viscose blend which is as light as a feather.

Debbie Bliss Sita

Sita is part of the Pure Bliss collection of yarns using luxury fibres. This one combines Mulberry Silk and Mako cotton in a selection of jewel colours which will create eye-catching summer knits

Rico Creative Melange Lace

For draping summer cardigans and shawls, there is Creative Melange lace, a 95% cotton print yarn in soft tones.

Do share pictures of your summer knits with us on our social media.

Finding and saving patterns on Ravelry

When our Yarn Doctors are out and about on our stands at craft shows, one of the regular questions that people ask is “where can I find patterns?”.

There are a number of answers including a wide range of knitting and crochet magazines, and browsing the pattern leaflets at your local yarn shop. Your local yarn store owner will no doubt have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of patterns available, but if you still can’t find what you are looking for, another useful tool is Ravelry.com.

ravelry pattern search

Ravelry, the online knitting and crochet community, has a database with over 400,000 knitting and 200,000 crochet patterns including patterns from books, leaflets and magazines. Most entries include a picture or several, yarn and needles details and where to find the pattern (for example the leaflet number or magazine edition, and whether it is available online).

ravelry pattern searchYou can just browse popular patterns on the site but several hundred thousand options would take a while, so Ravelry has created a range of filters to help you find what you are looking for.

To narrow down you search you can choose different types of pattern in terms of knitting versus crochet, clothing or other projects, size, and yarn weight etc.

You can also choose options such as types of colour work, whether there are lace or cables, and even styles of pattern such as written versus charts.

As you make your choices the range of patterns reduces until you have a manageable number to browse.

You can also use the search box to look for patterns using a particular yarn or brand or from a particular source.

For example in the screengrab below, you can see a search for UK Hand Knitting which has brought up images for our baby patterns. I could further narrow down my search by clicking to only search for patterns using 4ply and including preemie sizes.

ravelry pattern search

I could also have searched for a particular yarn that I have in my stash to find patterns using it.

Once you have picked out a pattern you might want to make, you can save it to your “queue” – a list of patterns you like on your own account, which is very handy because it is easy to find the pattern again. Below I’m saving the particular UK Hand Knitting pattern I want to use  – now I have the details for when I’m ready to buy and use it.

ravelry pattern queue

The queue function also comes in handy when you spot a pattern in a magazine or book, or even in a pattern selection in a shop, that you might want to make in the future.

For example, it can be very frustrating flicking through a pile of magazines trying to remember where you saw that perfect cabled sweater. But if you search for the sweater on Ravelry and add it to your queue it will be much easier to find it in the future (as long as you keep the magazine). And if the pattern isn’t yet in the database, there are straightforward instructions to help you add it so you, and others, can track it down again in the future.

It can take a little bit of organisation to start your queue but once you have it, it is easy to browse all the things you want to knit and find where to access the patterns.

Get involved with our 100 stitch challenge

The hunt for the Nation’s Fastest Knitter kicked off at the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycraft Show in Manchester last week.

We had a lot of fun with people seeing how fast they could knit a single row of 100 stitches. It was particularly interesting to see all the variations on knitting technique and had a lot of chats about needle preferences and where to put the yarn.

nations fastest knitter

Most people prefer to make an attempt in knit stitch but one contestant asked to be timed over a purl row as well – turned out she purls much faster than knit.

During the three days we had lots of mini competitions with mothers and daughters comparing times or all the members of a knitting group have a go.

All of which has given us some more ideas about how you can get involved.

As well as coming along to other ICHF Events show – Sewing For Pleasure and Fashion & Embroidery with Hobbycraftsat the NEC Birmingham, 16-19 March and Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts Show at ExCeL, London, 20-22 April – you can enter online by submitting a link to a video of your attempt. Watch the video below to find out how.

Making a video by yourself might be difficult so why not get friends or members of your knitting group to have a go. You could have a mini contest and help each other make the videos to enter.

Or if you run a local yarn shop you could run your own local contest and encourage your customers to enter videos.

We look forward to hearing about how you get on.

The closing date for online entries is Sunday 2 April 2017.

 

Greenery is the colour…

Every year the colour specialists at Pantone choose their colour of the year which the company says is “a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude”.

greenery-swatch

The Pantone choice is quite influential with lots of stylists and buyers using it in their work and because the people who select it look at lots of sources including the fashion catwalks over the past year.

This year the colour is “Greenery” described as: “A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings. Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.”

But don’t despair if green isn’t your thing. Pantone doesn’t expect us all to be clad head to toe in green sitting on green chairs. It produces a page of different colour combinations that work with its chosen colour like this one.

pantone-color-of-the-year-2017-color-palette-1

But to reflect the colour of the year we’ve put together this selection of leafy yarns.

 

Dealing with a knot in your yarn

One of the things that irritates most knitters is finding a knot in their yarn.

_mg_7075

While there may be occasions when you find more than one knot suggesting a problem, in general finding a knot will be a rare happening, however annoying.

Those rare knots are the result of how yarn is produced using long continuous threads. This can be difficult to maintain and occasionally the yarn will break. It will be joined with a small knot to keep the production process going.

This means that once in a while you will come across a knot that needs to be dealt with. If you are knitting stocking stitch with a DK or thicker yarn it may be possible to just keep knitting and ensure the knot sits on the wrong side.

_mg_7063

But if you are working in a textured stitch pattern like in the swatch pictured, or lace, finer yarns and reversible patterns this is not an option. The best option is to cut out the knot and treat the rest of the ball the same way as if you were joining in a new yarn or ball.

If you can it is neatest to make the join at an edge, but if you are working in the round or find the knot half way into a row of 200 stitches, you might not see that as an option. In which case you should stop knitting when there is 10 to 15cm of yarn to the knot. Cut the knot and then leaving another 10cm tail. Knit two or three stitches using both the tail of the “old” yarn and the “new” yarn and then continue using the new yarn only.

_mg_7066

You can weave in the ends after a couple of rows or when you make up the piece.

Another option would be to cut out the knot and split splice your yarn instead of joining in as above.

Whatever approach you take, remember that knots are a rare occurrence and that they shouldn’t spoil you knitting.