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Tip of the Day - Taming Unraveled Yarn

Posted on August 28, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 1 comment

We've all been there... knit a hat, scarf, sweater and realize when we get it done, or nearly so, that we hate it. And I don't just mean hate it, I mean that there is no possible way we can live with ourselves knowing this item is still in existence in the universe!

So, we unravel it, wind into balls as we go, or sometimes even let it pool into it's little wavy strands on the floor while we contemplate what to do next. Do we just use it as it is? how do we get it back into it's original lovely state without making it look like a rag the dog tossed around?

So, I have the answer, yes I do!

First, put it into a skein. If you don't have a skeinwinder or niddy noddy to get it into a skein, just use your hand and elbow to wrap it. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just make sure you secure it with ties in 3 or 4 places before you go to the next step.

Next, put water into a kettle and let it start boiling. Carefully hold the two ends of the skein so it is right over the steam. You want to hold the skein maybe 5 or 6 inches above the steam, being careful not to let the steam touch you as it will burn. Do one section at a time. Magic will happen... the kinks and waves will wiggle away, leaving you with perfectly straight yarn again. And this is super gentle on the yarn. If you have one of those nifty clothes steamers, that works even faster.

Once you try this method, you will never want to do it any other way!

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and so Braidsmaid continues...

Posted on June 21, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 0 comments

Well, I thought I would have this beautiful scarf done by now, but I have come up against one of my personal oddities. I was nearly done with Pattern II a few days ago when I decided to carefully scrutinize a few stitches wayyyyy back that had been bothering me. It was just a minor blip that I thought was maybe a loose stitch, which I could just tighten up later. I fussed with it, turned up the lighting to check it out more and saw what it was... two purl stitches in a sea of knit. I couldn't believe it! I mean, I REALLY could not Believe it!! And, as my luck would have it, it wasn't near the beginning of a row, it was deep in the middle, near the cable where there was no way to just let those two stitches run down and then fix them. I had only two choices - live with the mistake or rip it way back down. And so ripped it was.

Now, for those who have known me and my knitting tales for awhile, you have heard me talk about this. Strange as it seems, my default 'knitting' is purling. So, when I'm tired, get busy talking, am otherwise distracted, no matter what the pattern I'm supposed to be knitting, I often just begin purling. Crazy, I know... You would think by now I would check more often when I'm knitting in those situations because I know that about myself, huh? Obviously, not.

So here is my scarf, ripped way back and started again... Maybe I'll get it done this next week, barring any further purling! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Anyone else have any default knitting that messes with your projects?

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A New KAL Begins - Braidsmaid

Posted on May 28, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 2 comments

When someone suggested we do a Braidsmaid KAL using Martina Behm's new pattern, I had a moment of pause because I already have so many projects going, but I quickly got so sucked in. The scarf is just amazingly beautiful and can be made up in a wide range of fingering or sports weight yarns. It has so many elements I appreciate - cables, interesting shape, garter stitch, lovely drape. Isn't it just awesome?

So down the slippery slope I go again. Join me!

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Cameo Mystery Shawl

Posted on May 12, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 4 comments

Well, it's finished! The pattern is actually called "Cameo", but I've called it mystery because... well, the upshot of this project saga is I am no closer to an answer to why it took over 200 more yards than the pattern called for than I was while knitting it. It's a mystery...

By the time it was off my needles, it was ginormous. All that extra yarn would certainly make an extra large shawl. I got it.

But then I wet finished it, hand washed in mild soap, spun out excess water and put in low heat dryer until slightly damp. Laid it flat to finish drying.

Now for the big shocker... it measures exactly, and I mean EXACTLY the dimensions written in the pattern, 19.5" x 88".

So, same gauge, same yarn type/size, same needles, but used 30% more yarn. And still measures the same as in the pattern... So how does one explain that?

 

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Gauge is Important.... (right??)

Posted on April 14, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 0 comments

I'm a big advocate of doing gauge swatches before launching on a project that makes a point of them. Which is most every project! Certainly it's needed for sweaters, socks, mitts, skirts... all things that need to fit well.

This is the step that most new or inexperienced knitters and crocheters skip. This is the step that even experienced knitters/crocheters skip. This is a step that I used to skip. 

For most of us, we don't have teachers or knitting mentors who help us understand why gauge is important. So we think it's just one of those extra, aka optional, steps that stand in the way of our jumping in to our new, exciting project with both feet.

But, sooner or later, there comes a moment when we sense that there is something important about that whole gauge thing. Sometimes, it's when we work on a sock using the needles and yarn called for in the pattern and realize about 1/2 way to the heel that the sock could fit an earthworm. Or, it could be when we knit a sweater, all the while thinking something may be off with the size, but convince ourselves that it will all be well in the end. And it never is.

At that light bulb moment, we ask the question, "What is Gauge, Really?" and become advocates of doing gauge swatches. And, for the most part, garments fit, stitches look as they should, yarn requirements work out and we become much more confident knitters and crocheters.

But note I said "for the most part".

Because recently, I've had several people with projects where gauge just didn't yield all the right answers. It's left us scratching our heads trying to figure out why and the differences. And then, as luck would have it, it happened to me... IS happening to me on my current project.

I'm knitting the Cameo Shawl. It's knit mostly in garter stitch and uses 2 colors across 3 sections. The first section is all color A, the second is colors A & B, and the third is all color B. The pattern calls for 2 400-yd balls of fingering weight yarn and the gauge is 18 stitches over 4inches, after blocking. I picked my yarn, did my swatch, got my gauge and off I went. I love how the stitches look. I've loved knitting on this shawl.

But then something happened as I finished the first section, all color A. I was running out of color A yarn. How could that be?? So I did what we all do... I blamed the yarn. The ball must not have had the correct yardage. And it couldn't have, because why else would I be running out? Ok, get over it and buy another ball. Which is what I did and carried on. At the end of nearly every couple of rows, I'd stop and admire it and smile as I love the way it's looking, love the yarn, love the stitches. I finish section 2.

Then, again, there's a problem as I get to section 3. The shawl is beginning to look very large. I mean, LARGE compared to the original photos. I check the finished dimensions from the pattern and see that mine is, in fact, very large. And now I'm becoming increasingly perplexed. I'm reminded of  a similar situation with a friend working on a different shawl.

Now, as a designer, I strive to write patterns that represent my designs as completely and clearly as possible, and after a test knit or two or three, am confident that all the needed info is there. So I assumed no less with Cameo and my friend's pattern, both written by accomplished designers. And we were not disappointed. All the information was there to proceed, clear as water, specific, exact.

So what's happening? Well, all of the projects in question were done mostly in garter stitch. As best as I can tell, it has to do with the designer's interpretation of gauge after blocking. Garter stitch is extremely stretchy. Just lay it flat to dry and you have one answer, block it out with the stretch and you have a completely different result. With my shawl, laying flat to dry, it has the perfect gauge of 18 stitches over 4". But stretch it out and it's as low as 12 stitches over 4". That would account for the differences in yarn requirements and shawl size. I don't want to believe it, but there are no other viable explanations.

So, hear me out! Gauge is Important. You want to test for it, get it right. BUT, do what you can to get a sense of the designer's assumptions regarding the blocking of the piece before doing the measurements. Because BLOCKING MATTERS, too! Especially when it's garter stitch...

 

 

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Foolproof, an aspirational project!

Posted on January 21, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 0 comments

After we completed year-end inventory counting, John and I took a few days of R&R at a fabulous bed and breakfast not far from here. That we would vacation fairly close by was not our original plan, but our bodies hurt after so many days of physical exertion and we realized we didn't need go far to be pampered. 

Of course I took a new knitting project. I had the pattern and the most gorgeous  yarn, Baah Aspen, a fine merino, cashmere, silk blend, in a silver and lively purple and had already wound it into balls. And I had taken lots of needles, just in case. The pattern was called Cameo and I was excited about starting it while sitting in front of the cozy fire, watching movies with my sweetie.

Well, you know where this is going, right? I started the shawl, and restarted, and restarted. Funny thing about vacations and the mind, at least my mind. It had been so long since I had had the opportunity to totally unwind, I found my mind kind of unraveled, unable to concentrate for even a few moments, let alone the time it takes to knit an entire row. Then, I had a flash, and realized I didn't have enough yarn for the project. Well, maybe I did, but probably I didn't. You know that sinking feeling. 

The next day, I decided to try again. I found a pattern I liked, Foolproof, and the yardage would work. After several hours of sort of knitting, as in knitting, ripping, repeat, I had completed 3 rows. Vacation was over, and I was completely refreshed. 

(A teaser for next time... We got home, I was able to work on this fascinating project, love it and even have something to show!)

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