How To Sew Soles Onto Knitted Slippers

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

Cosy slippers are wonderful things. I’ve made several pairs for other people, but this is the first pair that I’ve made for myself. The slippers are thick and cushy, and I can turn up the cuffs when I need the extra warmth. I want them to last a long time which means adding soles because all my socks (and some of my shoes) wear out underneath the balls of my feet. A sewn on sole will last much longer and be easier to repair than plain knitting. So, here’s how I like to attach soles to slippers.

I prefer using backstitch instead of whip stitch or blanket stitch when the sole is smaller than the bottom of the slipper. If I can’t see the sole from the side, I don’t want to see the stitches holding it in place either.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

Materials

  • The Slippers

  • Pins

  • A narrow tapestry needle

  • Soles (I’m using Fiber Trends Suede Soles.)

  • Yarn that will fit through sole holes (try saying that three times fast.)

  • Scissors

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

1. Use the pins to pin the sole in place on the slipper. Since these suede soles come as a separate toe and a heel, I’m working with one piece at a time. I like to use as few pins as possible to not skew how I sew the fabric and the sole together.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

2. Thread the tapestry needle and put the end of your yarn between the sole and the fabric. Burying the end between the sole and the slipper keeps the end in place and keeps you from feeling it during wear. I highlighted the end in pink so it would be easier to see.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

3. It’s time to start sewing down the sole with backstitch. You can start anywhere you want. I picked a spot in the middle of the pins so I’d have plenty of room to work. Pull the needle through a hole from underneath and then down into the next hole in the line.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

When it’s time to remove the pin, the completed sewing will hold the sole in place. You can also move the pin to a different spot if that helps.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

4. Slip the needle through a stitch on the slipper - it shouldn’t go all the way through the fabric. Catching just the top of the loop in garter stitch or a leg of a stockinette stitch will be enough to secure the sole.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

5. Push the needle back up through the last hole that has yarn. This will create a continuous line of stitches on the visible side of the sole.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

6. To continue, push the needle through the next hole in the line and repeat steps 3-5.

Here’s what the sewn sole will look midway through.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

When you’ve finished sewing and need to secure the end:

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

Push the needle through first sewn hole and bring the needle to the outside of the sole.

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

Then slip the needle between the sole and slipper and push it in as far as you can. It helps to have your hand inside to help guide the needle. Angle the needle through the fabric to the inside of the slipper. The yarn will both be slipped through a few stitches and buried underneath the sole.

Then turn the slipper inside out as best you can and cut the working yarn. Repeat for the other sole pieces. All done!

Learn how to sew soles onto your slippers for extra grip and added durability. #knitting | withwool.com

When you need more yarn:

Secure the working yarn between the sole and slipper by pulling it through a few slipper stitches before cutting. Then cut a new length of yarn. After threading the needle, pull it through a few stitches on the slipper and push it up from the bottom into the last used hole to continue sewing.


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Pattern Update: Waffle Time Washcloth

The Waffle Time Washcloth is a free #knitting pattern that makes a wonderfully cushy washcloth. | withwool.com

I got an email this weekend asking about my Waffle Time washcloth pattern. The knitter’s in-progress washcloth didn’t look anything like the washcloth in the photos. She asked if maybe the K3 needed to be outside the asterisks?

The Waffle Time Washcloth is a free #knitting pattern that makes a wonderfully cushy washcloth. | withwool.com

I published Waffle Time in 2016 and haven’t really touched it since. So, I started knitting a swatch to get the pattern fresh in my brain. Surely, the instructions would work. There were 15 finished projects on Ravelry that looked just like the original sample… and there was one that didn’t. Huh. I spent hours trying to get the stitch pattern to work as written. Different stitch counts and different numbers of repeats. No matter what I tried, my swatch didn’t look like the original washcloth either. Ugh. What did work was pulling the K3 out of the asterisks, just as she suggested.

The Waffle Time Washcloth is a free #knitting pattern that makes a wonderfully cushy washcloth. | withwool.com

Thanks to her message, the pattern has been corrected, and I updated the layout since I was fiddling around with the file anyway. You can download the updated pattern below and have yourself a lovely new washcloth in no time. I might dig out a ball of cotton and knit one for myself too since I gave the original cloths away.


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How I Organize My Knitting Needles and Notions

3-ring binders and zippered pockets are a great storage system for #knitting needles and notions! No more digging through drawers and bags to find that one thing I need right now. | withwool.com

My previous method for organizing my smaller knitting needles, extra interchangeable cables, and random crochet hooks was stuffing them in a plastic bag. This wouldn’t have been so bad if everything had a label marking it’s size or was even in it’s original packaging. Nope. It’s was a tangled mishmash and I had to pull out a needle gauge every time I needed a knitting needle. So I finally did something about it. I picked up three giant 3” 3-ring binders and zippered binder pockets* (yeesh, those were hard to find).

3-ring binders and zippered pockets are a great storage system for #knitting needles and notions! No more digging through drawers and bags to find that one thing I need right now. | withwool.com

The next question was how do I label everything so I know what it is. I thought about designing cute templates that I could print out, but that seemed like more work than I wanted to do. Eventually, I settled on something much simpler. Tape. Specifically, washi tape in a pattern that I liked and that wouldn’t distract from my labeling.

Even after figuring out how I was going to organize everything and getting all the materials, I was still shoving my needles right back into that plastic bag. Ugh. It wasn’t until I’d spread out the needles, and the cables, and crochet hooks on my desk for the 25th time that setting up the binders seemed like a better option than shoving everything back in the bag.

A few notes before we get to the knitty-gritty:

  • I coiled up all my circular needles and extra cables as shown in this tutorial.

  • I grouped everything by size. Size 4 needles with other size 4 needles, regardless of length or type. 4mm crochet hooks went in with the 4 mm knitting needles because I don’t want to have to dig through a separate pocket to find a match for a project. The only exception was my interchangeable needle tips because they already have their own organized pouch.

  • I did not do this all in one sitting. All my various needles and hooks and notions were scattered across my desk, my couch, and my floor. It was overwhelming so I did things in chunks when I felt like it or got frustrated about everything falling on the floor. Again.

  • As I went through years of accumulated knitting supplies, I got rid of what I didn’t need or wasn’t going to use again. Those circular needles with the metal cables that I got in a box at a garage sale did not make the cut.

  • The zipper pockets have different colored zips. I tried to keep things organized by color - needles in one color, extra cables in another - which worked until the end when I had more needles than I had pockets in that color.

Here’s what I did:

3-ring binders and zippered pockets are a great storage system for #knitting needles and notions! No more digging through drawers and bags to find that one thing I need right now. | withwool.com

First, I started with the extra interchangeable cables. I measured them, sorted them by length, and put each length in it’s own pocket. As I filled up a pocket, I added a strip of washi tape to the front and wrote down what was inside.

3-ring binders and zippered pockets are a great storage system for #knitting needles and notions! No more digging through drawers and bags to find that one thing I need right now. | withwool.com

Next up on the list were the fixed circular needles. I coiled them, sorted them by size, and made each size it’s own pocket. These stacked up pretty fast. Sizes that I had a lot of or where on the much smaller end, got there own pockets. I don’t want to have to sort a 2.0mm needle from a 2.5mm every time I start a pair of socks. Sizes that I don’t have many of were bundled together, US 10 and up for example, because its easier to tell them apart. Straights, DPN’s, and crochet hooks went in next.

3-ring binders and zippered pockets are a great storage system for #knitting needles and notions! No more digging through drawers and bags to find that one thing I need right now. | withwool.com

After the needles were contained, I gathered up random notions from various drawers, bags, and shelves. The pom-pom makers I can never find when I need them, they went in a pocket. If it was a needle or pin of any kind - tapestry, beading, cable, or t-pin - it went in a pocket. Extra scissors, needle gauges, tape measures, row counters, chart trackers, etc - you got it - went in a pocket. It is possible to fit a surprising amount of stuff into one of those.

3-ring binders and zippered pockets are a great storage system for #knitting needles and notions! No more digging through drawers and bags to find that one thing I need right now. | withwool.com

After corralling everything into their designated pockets, I sorted them into binders. Notions and interchangeable needle cables went into one binder. Needles and crochet hooks got their own binder. I added a needle gauge into the front of the needle and crochet hook binder to make it easy to put things away.

3-ring binders and zippered pockets are a great storage system for #knitting needles and notions! No more digging through drawers and bags to find that one thing I need right now. | withwool.com

I’ve been using this system for almost a year, and it is a massive improvement over shoving things into scattered bags and drawers then forgetting where they are. The two binders have their own shelf and they are impossible to miss. Whenever I need something, I know right where to look which makes to so much easier to start a project or finish one. If I ever need to expand, I have an extra binder and extra pockets. I am so happy that I finally organized my needles and notions and don’t have to go digging every time I need something.


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*This post contains an affiliate link which means, if you decide to buy through that link, I’ll get a small commission. My opinions are my own, and formed after much use. Thanks!

A Long Overdue WIP

After years of waiting, I finally cast on a pair of slippers for myself. The first one is so cosy! #knitting | withwool.com

Have you ever not started a knitting project because of the inertia of your couch? I have, last Saturday in fact. That morning I decided it was finally time to cast on for a pair of slippers while it was still cold outside, and I was going to do it that night. My cold feet have pleaded with for a pair of slippers for long enough. Later though, after putting the Mini to bed and cleaning up the kitchen, I plopped down on the couch and did not want to get back up. Printing the pattern, finding the yarn, and digging out the right needles seemed more like work than fun. The couch and a very cozy blanket had me trapped. So I watched a movie instead.

After years of waiting, I finally cast on a pair of slippers for myself. The first one is so cosy! #knitting | withwool.com

Sunday was a different story. I pulled out everything I needed before the end of the day when the couch sings its siren song. Casting on felt so good. I’m making the Prairie Boots by Cocoknits and using Malabrigo Chunky. The first slipper is speeding along too thanks to the bulky yarn. I finished the first sole and a good chunk of the foot that afternoon. Over the past few days I’ve finished the foot and am speeding my way up the leg. A single row squeezed in during the odd moments of the day really adds up.

After years of waiting, I finally cast on a pair of slippers for myself. The first one is so cosy! #knitting | withwool.com

I couldn’t resist trying it on and the slipper is as cosy as it looks. There will be no cold feet here…just as soon as I finish the second one. And pick out the right buttons. And sew on the suede bottoms. Okay, so it might be awhile before my feet get to bask in the warmth that is this pair of slippers, but it’ll be worth it. I’ve waited at least a year to pick out a pattern so a few more weeks is nothing my toes can’t handle.

After years of waiting, I finally cast on a pair of slippers for myself. The first one is so cosy! #knitting | withwool.com

A Handspun Sock Update: 2.5 Years Later

2.5 years later, this pair of 100% wool handspun socks is still going strong! No holes, thin spots, or fraying. The opposing 3-ply yarn construction makes a really durable sock yarn. #handspunyarn #tuffsocksnaturally | withwool.com

In 2016 I spun yarn to make a pair of socks. I used Louet Northern Lights Roving, which is a neither soft nor scratchy 100% wool, to spin a sock yarn with an opposing 3-ply construction. The one ply that is spun in the same direction as the plying twist is thought to add elasticity and durability because of the extra twist. I wanted to test this idea for myself. Would an opposing 3-ply be more durable than the traditional construction? I knit the yarn into a pair of socks for The Bearded One and they’ve become one of his favorites. They have seen constant wear during the chillier months for the past 2.5 years.

2.5 years later, this pair of 100% wool handspun socks is still going strong! No holes, thin spots, or fraying. The opposing 3-ply yarn construction makes a really durable sock yarn. #handspunyarn #tuffsocksnaturally | withwool.com

So how are these two and a half year old socks holding up? Really well. There are no holes or thin spots threatening to become holes. The bind off at the cuff shows no sign of fraying or extra wear and tear. The soles may be more felted in spots, but overall the stitches are still distinct and can be stretched apart.

2.5 years later, this pair of 100% wool handspun socks is still going strong! No holes, thin spots, or fraying. The opposing 3-ply yarn construction makes a really durable sock yarn. #handspunyarn #tuffsocksnaturally | withwool.com

The only real difference that I can see is how much the yarn has pilled on the inside. So far, this pilling doesn’t seem to affected the sole’s durability. If anything, the “loose” wool is making the socks more cushioned and insulating. The only other sign of wear is that the surface of the socks that rubs against pants and slippers aren’t as smooth as they used to be.

2.5 years later, this pair of 100% wool handspun socks is still going strong! No holes, thin spots, or fraying. The opposing 3-ply yarn construction makes a really durable sock yarn. #handspunyarn #tuffsocksnaturally | withwool.com

As for how the socks are washed, I treat them no differently than any of my other handknit socks. They get a 20+ minute soak in warm water with Eucalan. Then I roll them up in a towel and squish out the excess water before hanging them up to dry.

2.5 years later, this pair of 100% wool handspun socks is still going strong! No holes, thin spots, or fraying. The opposing 3-ply yarn construction makes a really durable sock yarn. #handspunyarn #tuffsocksnaturally | withwool.com

2 years ago I was curious if an opposing 3-ply sock yarn would be more durable than a traditional construction. I even shared an update showing how the socks were wearing after a few months. Comparing the then and now photos shows that the socks have held up wonderfully. I expect that it’ll be a few more years before I need to make any significant repairs. This is a major difference from thick house socks that I’ve knit from 100% wool commercial yarns. I’ve got a whole pile of them with holes in the toes, soles, and heels that I’ve been meaning to repair for years. It’s refreshing to see a pair of 100% wool socks that are still going strong after years of dedicated wear.

2.5 years later, this pair of 100% wool handspun socks is still going strong! No holes, thin spots, or fraying. The opposing 3-ply yarn construction makes a really durable sock yarn. #handspunyarn #tuffsocksnaturally | withwool.com

If your interested in spinning your own wool sock yarn and ditching the nylon, check out the Tuff Socks Naturally project which aims to knit a sustainable sock without nylon or superwash wool. The #tuffsocksnaturally tag on Instagram has some beautiful and interesting examples.

I still can’t say if an opposing 3-ply yarn is more durable than a traditional 3-ply because I haven’t spun a traditional sock yarn yet. I’m definitely considering giving each construction a try so I can make a pair of handspun socks (or two) for myself.

How to Work Judy's Magic Cast-On in Knit and Purl

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

Judy’s Magic Cast-On burst into the knitting scene in the Spring 2006 issue of Knitty. The technique has become my default way for starting toe-up socks and other center-out projects because of it’s versatility. This cast-on is fast, seamless, and makes a great provisional cast on (but that’s another tutorial). And, if you change how the yarn is wrapped, the stitches won’t be twisted on the needles.

I recently cast on for a pair of toe-up socks that would need a princess sole - where the smooth side of stockinette is against the foot - and didn’t want a noticeable “seam” across the toes. Would it be possible to use Judy’s Magic Cast-On to get started entirely in purl? After a little fiddling and experimentation, I found that it is possible and just as easy to start Judy’s Magic Cast-On in purl as it is to knit.

Let’s start at the beginning. If you know how to work the knit version of the cast-on that doesn’t twist the stitches, skip ahead to Step 8.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

Materials: You’ll need your yarn and a set of circular needles. It’s also possible to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On with double pointed needles, but it will be more finicky to work the first few rows.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

1. Arrange your needles so that both tips are together and pointing left.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

2. Pull the yarn between the needles - leave yourself enough of a tail to create the required stitches and weave in later. 8 inches, or about 20 cm, is usually enough to start a pair of socks. The working yarn will lay over the top needle and the tail will hang down in the middle.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

3. Twist the tail and working yarn together around the top needle - this counts as the first stitch. The yarn will now form a V between the needles and your hand. The tail, which was at the bottom, will now be held at the top over the pointer finger. The working yarn will now be held at the bottom over the thumb.

How the stitches are wrapped is very important. When wrapped as demonstrated here the stitches will sit untwisted on the needles. If wrapped as shown in the original Knitty tutorial, you’ll have to knit through the back of the stitch to seat them correctly on the needle during the next round.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com
Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

4. To make a stitch on the bottom needle, wrap the top yarn up and into the gap between the two needles.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com
Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

5. To make a stitch on the top needle, bring the bottom yarn into the gap between the needles and then up and around the top needle. The movement is like working a yarn over.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have the required number of stitches on your needles. Pushing the stitches together as you work will help keep them the same size. When a pattern calls for casting on 20 stitches with a toe-up cast on, that means to make 10 stitches on each needle because this cast-on creates pairs of stitches.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

7. Take the tail yarn and tuck it between the needles next to the first stitches. It should sit on the same side as the purl ridge created by the cast on. You’ll have to hold in place until the first few stitches are worked, but then it will be secure.

8. Turn the work so the tips are now pointing right. The first stitch on the new top needle is the beginning of the round. If you’re starting a pair of socks, the top stitches form the top of the toe and the bottom stitches form the sole.

Here’s where things change depending on whether you want the knit or the purl side as the right side of your project.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

To start with the usual knit side out, make sure the smooth side of the cast on is facing you and knit as usual.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com
Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

To start in purl, keep the purl ridge facing you. The tail end of the yarn will be laying across the front of the stitches. Instead of knitting, purl the first round and continue as stated in your pattern.

If you’re working with circular needles, pull the bottom needle out and start working the first stitch of the top needle. If you used double points, bring in a third needle for half of the stitches on the top needle. After you’ve worked a few rows and created more structure, you can add additional needles.

One additional note: When starting a pair of socks, I like to work one plain round and then begin the toe increases. The extra row creates a smoother edge and gives a better base for increases.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

Here’s what a finished sock toe looks like with knitting as the right side.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

Here’s what the purled sock toe looks like after all the increases are done. Not a seam or bunched up stitch in sight. I had already wove in the tail before taking this photo, but it will be hanging from the outside of your work when starting in purl. You’ll have to bring to the other side before weaving it in.


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8 Months Later and Blogging Again!

I have this informal rule when I’m looking for new blogs to follow: If the latest post was 6+ months ago, I’m moving on. So when I realized in October 2018 that it’d been 6 months since I published anything new to my own blog, I was rather frustrated. I did not imagine that my maternity leave would stretch 8 months. Before Mini Me came along I thought that 3-4 months would be enough time for me to get my feet back underneath me (ha!), but it took that long just for me to not feel like a walking zombie. Never mind feeling like a functional human being who could string a sentence together.

When I took this break (which in no way was a break) way back in May 2018, I was also burned out by the whole routine of blogging and writing a newsletter on a weekly basis. I didn’t know if I wanted to come back to blogging or continue to publish knitting designs at all. Even though my maternity leave was twice as long as I expected, it did help me realize that I still wanted to write about and share my knitting. I still wanted to design and share my own knitting patterns. I still wanted to send out a newsletter to connect with people and share beautiful, interesting, fun, and helpful things. So I’m going to keep doing all of those things - just in a different way than before.

My mantra since before Mini Me was born has been “Go with the flow,” and I’m going to stick with it. I’m challenging myself for the next few months to put out a new blog post and newsletter every 2 weeks. I’m hoping that by publishing every 2 weeks instead of 1 week that I can still write detailed posts at a similar quality as I have previously. If that doesn’t work, or just stresses me out, I’ll switch things up again.

My other challenge for this year is to tackle the pile of half-finished designs which are stacked pretty deep. I would like to share at least 1 of them with you in the next few months. Guess I’d better figure out the decreases for that lace hat and update that other hat pattern I never published from 2010.

The one thing I have managed to do is update my website. I’ve updated the homepage and tweaked the overall design. Plus, I’ve got a new logo!

To celebrate my return to blogging and feeling like a functional human being/mom, I’m having a sale on my knitting patterns. Now, January 16th through end of January 31st MST, use the coupon “yayblog” on Ravelry to get 20% off all my patterns.

Big News + What's Next

The Pacific Coast sweater is finally done and I couldn’t be happier! | withwool.com

This sweater has shown up a lot during the past few months. I used it to test out a more truthful and accurate method of swatching.  When I was feeling overwhelmed by all of my knitting projects, I focused on this sweater to feel like I was making progress. Plus, there were the random WIP updates. In all that, I never shared who I was making this sweater for. Well, I’m not mailing it cross-country, and I’m not giving it away at a baby shower. This little beauty is staying right here with me for my own little one!

The Pacific Coast sweater is finally done and I couldn’t be happier! | withwool.com

Aside from a few fiddly details of my own making, the pattern - Pacific Coast - was a pretty easy knit. I made a few changes, but mostly followed the instructions since I haven’t knit a lot of sweaters of any size. You can check out all of my notes, mods, and more photos here on the sweater’s project page.

The Pacific Coast sweater is finally done and I couldn’t be happier! | withwool.com

Since it’s almost baby time, there’s going to be a few changes around here too. First, this will mostly likely be the last blog post for awhile. Second, I’m not sure when I’ll be back to regular posting or what that schedule will be. I’m just going to play it by ear. There might be a random post here and there over the summer or maybe not. We’ll see. Third, the With Wool Weekly newsletter will also be taking a break and will return eventually.

Happy knitting and happy spinning. I’ll see you on the other side and on Instagram.

Wooly Links: April 2018

Wooly Links is a round up of the best knitting, spinning, and crochet links I find on the web. The collection goes out bi-weekly in the With Wool Express. You can sign up to get the newsletter full of Wooly Links and other good stuff below.


You can do so much great stuff with crochet - like make the Willendorf Venus with this pattern.

Now I want to make a blanket into a wall hanging too. There’s no knitting police to say you can’t after all.

Bristol Ivy shares her thought process for how she designed the lovely Shape of the Bay shawl.

A handy list of some of US fiber festivals from May through August.

April 21st was the inaugural Local Yarn Store Day which aims show appreciation for small shops and celebrate the fiber art community. You can learn more about the big day here.

And to help celebrate Local Yarn Store Day, Laura Nelkin partnered with Melbourne Woolens and designed the Adventura Shawl which will only be available in stores with Ravelry in-store sales. The shawl is a choose-your-own-adventure pattern that could be lacy, mesh, or colorful.

Beth Smith highlights the costs of producing fleeces in small flocks for handspinning.

I am rather smitten with the cabled Hawley sweater by Julie Hoover. The details are so clean and neat.

Felicia Lo Wong of Sweet Georgia Yarns shares her experience hosting a booth at the huge handcraft convention of h+h Cologne. So many interesting tidbits and things to think about.

Not just for spinners! A thorough example of how the number of plies in a yarn affects the look and texture of knitting.

It isn’t always fun to have to pick up stitches, but doing it well is really satisfying. This tutorial on the in-depth details of picking up stitches in different situations is clear and helpful.

A neat tutorial for how to work helical stripes and skip the jog when switching colors.

I am rather smitten with the bold geometric lines of the Correa shawl by Ambah O’Brien.

Duplicate stitch doesn’t get enough love, and Franklin Habit shows how great it can be.

A great video with answers and tips about stranding knitting from Paper Tiger. Even the opening is fun.

Are step-by-step photo tutorials how you want to learn new techniques? Here’s a detailed tutorial with extra GIFs about how to work the tubular cast on.

I stumbled across this in depth guide to drum carders and there is so much good info for the reading.

How to spin yarn with beads

And now for something completely different... is about the other interesting stuff I find online. Sometimes it's photography, art, science, crafty goodness, or a good story.

A touching thank you to all the supporters of the Woolery Weave-Off which is  donating hand woven kitchen towels to women and children moving out of shelters.

Kristen Meyer arranges a variety of objects - leaves, broken crackers, bark, moss, etc - into exact geometric shapes. So satisfying.

New Nasca lines were recently found in southern Peru.

Carrie Chan creates incredibly precise watercolor patterns and designs. Just looking at them is satisfying.

How to Make Bulkier Yarn with Chain-Plying

Yarn thinner than you like? Learn how to chain-ply commercial yarn into the thicker, bulkier yarn you want!  #spinning #knitting | withwool.com

Way back when, at least on the internet time-scale, I wrote a tutorial about how to chain-ply commercial yarn to manipulate color which you can read here. The variegated yarn I used flashed and pooled no matter how I knit with it, and chain-plying it created a beautiful marled yarn. Then I used that yarn for an easy (and free) hat pattern. Now I’m chain-plying another commercial yarn because I wanted to make it bulkier. So consider this part 2.

Yarn thinner than you like? Learn how to chain-ply commercial yarn into the thicker, bulkier yarn you want!  #spinning #knitting | withwool.com

I’ve had the Opal Sock Yarn Bunny by Susan B. Anderson pattern in my Ravelry queue for months. It’s so cute, but I have had the hardest time picking out the right yarn. I wanted something durable and hard-wearing because I like to imagine that this would become THE favorite toy; however, I also wanted the colors to be something whimsical and fun. Turns out durable and whimsical is a hard combination to find.  I eventually found a ball of sock yarn hiding in the deep stash. Seriously, I bought this ball of Zitron Trekking XXL 9 years ago on vacation. I almost turned it into a pair of socks, but didn’t want to knit socks on size 0 needles.

I don’t want to knit this totally adorable bunny on size 0 needles either. Plus, I’d like the bunny to be a little bigger than the 6.5” height stated in the pattern. Chain-plying to the rescue. The first and most important step to chain-plying any commercial yarn is to figure out how the yarn is plied. Commercial yarn is generally plied to the left, AKA with S twist, so you’ll need to chain-ply to the right, AKA with Z twist. If you’re plying a single ply yarn, you’ll probably be plying to the left. You can find the full tutorial for how to chain-ply commercial yarn here.

Yarn thinner than you like? Learn how to chain-ply commercial yarn into the thicker, bulkier yarn you want!  #spinning #knitting | withwool.com

And a helpful tip: If you’re working on a wheel, and have the option, use a jumbo bobbin. The plied yarn will take up more space than you expect. I plied 459 yards of fingering weight yarn and just barely got it all on to a single regular bobbin.

Yarn thinner than you like? Learn how to chain-ply commercial yarn into the thicker, bulkier yarn you want!  #spinning #knitting | withwool.com

I finished the newly-plied yarn just like any other handspun yarn because you still have to set the twist. I skeined it and measured the results before dunking it in a bath. I had about 137 yards of worsted weight yarn. Then I soaked it in cool soapy water for 20 minutes, rolled it in a towel to squeeze out extra water, and snapped it out my arms to even out the twist one last time. Then I let it dry over night.

Yarn thinner than you like? Learn how to chain-ply commercial yarn into the thicker, bulkier yarn you want!  #spinning #knitting | withwool.com

The twist really really relaxed and evened out. There are still a few over twisted and kinked spots, but most of the yarn is well behaved and smooth. I measured the skein again to see if setting the twist changed anything. The yarn was still a worsted weight, but I did “lose” 23 yards to the yarn plumping up. So I’m down to 114 yds, and really hoping I have enough yarn because I love it even more now.

Yarn thinner than you like? Learn how to chain-ply commercial yarn into the thicker, bulkier yarn you want!  #spinning #knitting | withwool.com

Before you go, here’s a few things to keep in mind before chain plying for bulkier yarn.

  • Even though chain-plying a fingering weight yarn will make a worsted weight yarn, the “new” yarn won’t have the same feel as a commercial or handspun worsted weight skein. Why? It’s much heavier and denser than either.
  • Because of how chain-plying works, expect to reduce your yardage to at most a third of it’s original number. My original 459 yds turned into 114 yds.

  • Sample a small piece of yarn first to see if you like the weight, drape, and density of the chain-plied version. It’d be really frustrating to do all that work and turn out with something you don’t like or wish you could undo. Take it from me, undoing a chain-plied yarn is not quick or easy.

Knitting A Gauge Swatch That Tells The Truth: The Results Are In

The sweater is washed and blocked. Did the different method of swatching tell the truth? Is my sweater the same size it was before washing? Yes and yes!  #knitting | withwool.com

I knit myself a sweater a few years ago and did all the things a “good” knitter is supposed to do. I knit a reasonably sized swatch on the same needles I was going to use for the sweater. I washed and blocked the swatch the same way I was going to wash and block the sweater. I liked the results and got gauge, so I cast on for the real thing. Said sweater was cute and fit perfectly until I washed it. Instead of the cute cropped cardigan I wanted, I ended up with an oversized sweater that I still wore and enjoyed. So not a total loss, but not really a success either. Blasted lying swatch.

Then a few months ago, I read an article which helped explain why my swatch didn’t react the same way as my sweater when it hit the water. Seeing as how I was about to knit a baby sweater, I decided to try out this different swatching method that skipped the garter edges and blocking pins for what seemed like very logical reasons. You can read all about the swatching attempts here and an update from when I was halfway though the sweater here.

A few notes before we get down to the knitty gritty: I did not knit this sweater all at once, but in bits and pieces over a few months. I knit it while watching tv and not watching tv. I knit it on the same needles I swatched with. I knit it when I was tired and when I was wide awake. I can’t remember if I knit it on road trips. All of this is too say that my gauge had the opportunity to change a lot during knitting even though the sweater was stockinette.

The sweater is washed and blocked. Did the different method of swatching tell the truth? Is my sweater the same size it was before washing? Yes and yes!  #knitting | withwool.com

I measured the stitch/row gauge and overall dimensions before dropping the sweater in the bath. Here are the numbers:

  • Stitch/row gauge (measured across the back): 29 sts and 38 rows = 4”
  • Stitch/row gauge of washed and blocked swatch: 28 sts and 37.5 rows = 4”
  • Sweater measurements across chest: 9.75”
  • Sweater length from neck cast on to body bind off: 11.5”
The sweater is washed and blocked. Did the different method of swatching tell the truth? Is my sweater the same size it was before washing? Yes and yes!  #knitting | withwool.com

I washed the sweater the same way as the swatch. I soaked them both in cool, soapy water (I like unscented Eucalan (<<— affiliate link!*)) for 20 minutes. I rolled them in a towel and squeezed out the excess water. Then I laid them flat to dry without pinning them down (this is one of the important parts of this swatching method). The only change I made when blocking the sweater was gently pulling the button bands and collar into place to make them lie flat and even up both sides. See what a difference blocking made to how neat and even the stitches look? After the sweater dried, this is what I found:

  • Stitch/row gauge (also measured across the back): 28 sts & 38 rows = 4”
  • Sweater measurements across chest: 10.25”
  • Sweater length from neck cast on to body bind off: 11.75”

Wow! The only gauge difference between the washed and blocked swatch and the washed and blocked sweater was half a row over 4”. The chest measurement changed too, but the stitch gauge changed to match the swatch so I’m calling it true. Overall, the length of the entire sweater only changed by .25” which could have happened for several reasons - me tugging out the edges, the ribbing growing, etc. I’m not worrying over an extra .25” on a baby sweater.

I also measured the sleeves. Their length and diameter stayed the same; however, I’m not counting this info towards the swatch experiment because they were knit in the round and not flat like the swatch.

I’d say this method of swatching - skipping the garter edging and not pinning the swatch into a rectangle - is the most accurate and truthful method of swatching I’ve ever tried. You can read about the full method and why it it works here. It’s definitely how I’m going to swatch for all my future sweaters and anything else that has to fit. Definitely give it a try.

I’m looking forward to seeing how truthful the swatches are when I knit a sweater for myself. I suppose that will be the true test, and I’m more than willing to give it a shot.

The sweater is washed and blocked. Did the different method of swatching tell the truth? Is my sweater the same size it was before washing? Yes and yes!&nbsp; #knitting | withwool.com

*This post contains an affiliate link which means, if you decide to buy through that link, I’ll get a small commission. My opinions are unbiased, my own, and formed after years of use. I wouldn’t recommend this soap if I didn't think it worked. Thanks!

Finally! Soft Alpaca Handspun

Took a few tries, but I have finally spun soft alpaca yarn. And it’s everything I hoped it would be. | withwool.com

After many long months and countless other projects, I started feeling the itch to get back to spinning yarn. I hadn’t sat down at my wheel since the end of Tour de Fleece in 2017! Pretty sure my Sidekick was starting to feel a little lonely, and I can’t have that. My last project was 4 ounces of alpaca that I’d turned into batts on a rented drum carder. I spun the batts during Tour de Fleece and set them aside to let the twist relax a little before plying. I just never got to the plying part so the singles have been looking pretty on my shelves since then.

Took a few tries, but I have finally spun soft alpaca yarn. And it’s everything I hoped it would be. | withwool.com

Since the singles were the closest thing at hand and the easiest thing to spin (plus I had to clear my bobbins), they went on the wheel first. Not wanting any leftovers, I decided to ply each single with itself which meant winding each into a center pull ball. Happily, not one of the single broke during winding, and I wasn’t particularly gentle with them either. I’m not going to lie here - I was worried that the plies had too much twist because they didn’t pull apart. Weird thought for a spinner to have, I know, but my previous attempts at spinning 100% alpaca didn’t turn out great.  At least this batch of alpaca was still soft at this point.

Took a few tries, but I have finally spun soft alpaca yarn. And it’s everything I hoped it would be. | withwool.com

My last alpaca handspun turned out wiry and over-twisted which I did not want to repeat. After all, I only had this fiber in my stash for 10 years because I didn’t want to mess it up. So that I’d have to work to add too much plying twist, I went with a slower ratio for me, 5.7:1. Even though the drafting twist had been resting for several months, which could have skewed things a bit, I still aimed to line up the individual fibers and create a balanced yarn. Mostly pulled it off, and the newly plied yarn was soft and not wiry at all. Whew!

Took a few tries, but I have finally spun soft alpaca yarn. And it’s everything I hoped it would be. | withwool.com

I didn’t wash this fiber before turning it into batts which I probably should have because I was cleaning up dirt and VM, and washing my hands every step of the way. I did my usual 20 minute soak with Eucalan and the water was so dirty that I couldn’t see the bottom of the sink. There was no missing that dirt ring though. It took 3 soaks for the water to finally run clear. After squeezing out the excess water, I lightly snapped the yarn but skipped thwacking it against the shower wall because it already had enough of a halo.

Took a few tries, but I have finally spun soft alpaca yarn. And it’s everything I hoped it would be. | withwool.com

The yarn looked pretty limp and sad when I hung it up to dry, but that changed fast. I suppose this is the reason why you spin samples first.

Took a few tries, but I have finally spun soft alpaca yarn. And it’s everything I hoped it would be. | withwool.com

All 4 skeins bloomed into an airy, plump, and positively luscious yarn. Not one of them was wiry or prickly or over-spun. There’s definitely some thick-and-thin spots but it’s reasonably consistent overall. Plus, getting rid of all that dirt made the yarn even softer which I didn’t think was possible. Washing and setting the twist had some other side effects too. Before washing, 2 of the skeins were a DK weight and 2 of the skeins were about worsted weight. All of them plumped up to a light bulky weight of about 7-8 WPI. Of course, this changed the yardage too. The 313 yds I started with turned into 264 yards, a difference of about 15%. Totally not complaining though.

Took a few tries, but I have finally spun soft alpaca yarn. And it’s everything I hoped it would be. | withwool.com

So now what? I’ve finally spun soft alpaca yarn which is a first for me and a long time goal. Definitely going to knit it into some sort of cowl or small shawl because there’s plenty of yardage to play with. Maybe something based in garter stitch with a simple lace pattern. Or I could just keep wearing it as is. :D It is really soft after all. I’m also thinking about submitting the best skein of the 4 to the handspun competition at a local fiber festival - that is if I can figure out all the rules and requirements.

3 Tips for Easier Plying from a Center Pull Ball

Use these 3 tips to make plying yarn from a center pull ball easier and tangle free. #tutorial | withwool.com

Knowing how to ply from a center pull ball is a handy trick to know. It’s great for plying those leftover singles on a bobbin or spindle. It’s great for when you don’t want to have any leftover singles/plies at all. You could even ply yarn from 2 separate center pull balls, not just the ends of one ball.

All that said, you have to use the technique carefully because if can affect the original drafting twist of your plies. This post from Jillian Moreno shows why. Still, there might be cases where you want to affect the twist. Maybe your plies have been sitting for months and the original twist isn’t as active. Or you want to add more twist because there wasn’t enough during drafting.

Personally, I haven’t noticed a huge difference in yarns that I’ve plied from a center pull ball vs. yarns that I’ve plied from bobbins. But I’m not spinning lace weight. In fact, some of my favorite yarns that I’ve ever spun have been plied from center pull balls. So here are my favorite tips and tricks for plying from center pull balls that I’ve learned over the years.

Use something as a center support for the ball.

Use these 3 tips to make plying yarn from a center pull ball easier and tangle free. #tutorial | withwool.com

As you work, the ply that formed the center core of the ball is being pulled out and moving onto the bobbin or the spindle. When enough of the center is gone, the ball will collapse on itself which means tangles and knots and aggravation. Putting something into the middle of the ball when it comes off the winder gives the ball a core of support which prevents those frustrating tangles.

Use these 3 tips to make plying yarn from a center pull ball easier and tangle free. #tutorial | withwool.com

And even if the ball does collapse on itself, like mine did in the photo above, the core will keep the ball open enough to work from and help prevent knots. I was able to ply the rest of this yarn instead of calling the whole thing a loss.

The center core doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just make sure that what you use is long enough to stick out from both ends of the ball.

  • Rolled up pieces of paper, like shown in this tutorial, work just fine. They’re also a good option if you’re taking a class or don’t have anything else close at hand.
  • A simple nostepinne is a great option for larger center pull balls and I'm using one in this example. They even come with a handle which makes holding onto them even easier.
  • And don’t forget about chopsticks, long handled spoons, or straight knitting needles. Whatever you’re using as a core doesn’t have to be big around, just smooth so it won’t snag.

Keep your hands farther back from the orifice.

How close you keep you’re hands to the orifice during plying seems to come down to personal preference; however, working farther back makes things a little easier. Keep your front hand about 8 - 12”, or 20 - 30 cm, from the orifice.  The extra space gives you more room to properly tension the plies and sort out tangles before there’s a problem.

Working farther back from the orifice also means that you can add twist at a slower rate since the twist will build up over the distance from the orifice to your hands. Then you’ll have a little more time and wiggle room to correct any issues.

One hand controls the plying twist, the other hand tensions the plies.

A post shared by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

I’m using my left hand, aka the front hand, to control when the twist enters the plies, and my right hand, aka the back hand, is holding the center pull ball on the nostepinne. Use which ever hand you prefer for each task.

The front hand only has 2 jobs: control when twist moves into the plies and to feed the yarn onto the bobbin.

The back hand holds the center pull ball and does all the work of keeping the plies evenly tensioned. You mainly want to hold the core support and just keep a thumb and a finger or two on the ball to hold it in place. The outer strand will be able to move more freely than if you’re holding it without the center core. Using this hold, I can angle and move my hand back and forth to evenly tension the plies. Think of it a dance you’re doing with the yarn.

The ball can sit farther back on the core so that the center ply wraps and feeds out slower. If the ball is closer to the tip, the center ply feeds out faster. One position isn’t better than the other. So experiment to see which spot works better for you and the yarn.

Wooly Links: March 2018

Wooly Links is a round up of the best knitting, spinning, and crochet links I find on the web. The collection goes out bi-weekly in the With Wool Express. You can sign up to get the newsletter full of Wooly Links and other good stuff every week below.


These giant oversized crochet doilies by Ashley V Blalock seem like they could grow and take over the world.

That Night There Were Roses by Debbie Sullivan solves the hump shape of crescent shawls with short rows. It’s lacy and gorgeous with a wide wingspan.

Neat! How to spin a beehive coil without using a core for your handspun.

A great complication of different knitting increases with clear diagrams and instructions.

This tutorial was sent to me when I asked for help preventing holes at sleeve joins, and it is a detailed look at how to seamlessly knit set-in sleeves. Saving it for later.

The Spring+Summer 2018 issue of Knitty went live and it’s full of good stuff. I’m definitely going to knit a sea turtle or 5 and Charmayne is on the list too.

Janelle Shane is trying to teach a neural network to generate knitting instructions, and a Ravelry group is interpreting and knitting up those garbled lines with interesting results.

I’m incredibly tempted and smitten by the large scale lace of the Equal Night blanket. Might even have the yarn in my stash to make it too!

Blocking your knits can be an art form all by itself.

I used a Clover pom-pom maker to make the pom on my latest hat, and it was so easy to make a great pom without a lot of extra trimming. Here’s a handy tutorial about how to use one.

Why crescent shaped shawls always seem to have the hump in the middle.

Info and advice from Patty’s Purls of Wisdom about biasing gauge swatches, metric vs US needle sizes, and “startitis”.

The SNAP hat pattern might be just the thing for all those leftover bits of sock yarn.

25 names of fabrics, wools, and leathers derived from place names.

Looking for a quick baby knit? Franklin Habit wrote up his variation of the vintage Fine-Hour Baby Jacket and it’s a cutie.

Here’s a great example of just how much color can change when colorful blended fiber turns into yarn.

I’m loving the texture of the Beeswax Scarf by Amy van de Laar.

A quick and helpful tutorial about how to count rows in garter stitch.

And now for something completely different... is about the other interesting stuff I find online. Sometimes it's photography, art, science, crafty goodness, or a good story.

The Parthenon, Pyramid of the Sun, and other ruins have been restored to their ancient architectural glory in a series a series of GIF's by Maja Wronska.

Ethel Stein, a master weaver who combined historical weaving methods with a Bauhaus design aesthetic, has died at the age of 100. (via Mielke’s Fiber Arts Newsletter)

Diana Sudyka creates beautiful illustrations around vintage postage stamps.

Elyse Dodge meshes beautiful geometric mountains with painted landscapes of British Columbia.

 

How To Block A Slouchy Hat

How to block a slouchy knitted hat the easy way! | withwool.com

Sometimes the hardest part of finishing a knitting project is figuring out how to wash and block it so that it looks its best, especially hats and slouchy hats. I stalled while trying to figure out how to block my Owl In The Thicket hat after not being able to put it down because the cables were so addicting to knit. How could I block it so that the cables and fabric relaxed evenly?  

How to block a slouchy knitted hat the easy way! | How To Block A Slouchy Hat - withwool.com

This is the hat after it came off the needles. Looks good, right? The cables are crisp. The shape and length are just right. So why would I need to block it?

How to block a slouchy knitted hat the easy way! | How To Block A Slouchy Hat - withwool.com

This is why. The needles I chose created beautiful cables, but also a firm fabric. It looked more like a gnome hat than the loose slouch that I had in mind when I cast on. The hat wasn't a knitting failure, just unfinished. Skipping blocking was not an option. But how to do it? The cables and fabric needed to relax evenly over the entire hat, so I didn’t want to use a balloon or a ball. And stretching the hat over a plate wouldn’t help since I wasn’t trying to make a beret or tam. So what else would work?

The perfect slouchy hat blocker turned out to be a smooth foam roller. What’s a foam roller? Basically, a dense foam cylinder used to help loosen tight muscles, tendons, and knots before or after exercise. They’re easy to find and not expensive. And when you’re not using them to block hats, you can still use them to work out those pesky muscle knots. The one I have is 18” around which makes it the perfect size for blocking most child and adult hats.

HOW TO BLOCK A SLOUCHY HAT ON A FOAM ROLLER

Step 1: Soak the hat in cool water with a squirt of no-rinse soap for 15 to 20 minutes. I use Eucalan (<<— affiliate link!*) and love it.

Step 2: Roll the hat up in a towel and squeeze out the excess water. Remember not to wring it out which will pull the hat out of shape.

How to block a slouchy knitted hat the easy way! | How To Block A Slouchy Hat - withwool.com

Step 3: Pull the hat over one end of the foam roller. Then you can move it around and make sure the hat and design details aren’t twisted. Plus, since this is foam and not a balloon, you can easily stretch and pin out any lace or crown decreases.

If you want to keep a ribbed brim as stretchy as possible, you can cut the foam to size so that the brim hangs below and un-stretched.  

Step 4: Let it dry, take it off the roller, and enjoy a perfectly slouchy hat.

How to block a slouchy knitted hat the easy way! | How To Block A Slouchy Hat - withwool.com

Here’s what my hat looked like after blocking and with the addition of a giant pom-pom. It’s a definite change for the better, and the slouchy hat I wanted from the beginning. Blocking isn’t magic, but it certainly seems like it could be.

*This post contains an affiliate link which means, if you decide to buy through that link, I’ll get a small commission. My opinions are unbiased, my own, and formed after years of use. I wouldn’t recommend this soap if I didn't think it worked well. Thanks!

Finished: The Owl In The Thicket Hat

The Owl In the Thicket is my new favorite hat! Cables, owls, beads, cashmere - what’s not to love? | withwool.com

It seems like I say this every year when I finish a new hat, but this is my new favorite hat. It’s soft, warm, and perfectly slouchy. There’s even cables and owls with beaded eyes for good measure. The only thing I’m kicking myself about is that I didn’t cast on until a year after I’d bought the yarn! Still I’m glad it’s finished and just in time for weird spring weather. Will it rain? Will it snow? Look out the window to find out.

The Owl In the Thicket is my new favorite hat! Cables, owls, beads, cashmere - what’s not to love? | withwool.com   

The pattern, Owl in the Thicket by Sara Huntington Burch, was a great challenge. This hat is all about the details and required lots of attention. Aside from the ribbing, there were only a handful of rows that were the same in the entire pattern. I had a lot of fun knitting it, and now I want work on more complicated projects. It’s nice to break out of the auto-pilot knitting every once in a while. And the knitting didn’t actually take all that long because I had a hard time putting it down. I just got hung up on how to block the thing which I’ll show in more detail in my next post.

I splurged on a skein of the recommended yarn, Anzula Cricket in the Lenore colorway, which I don’t do often. The benefit and responsibility of having a large stash means I usually shop from it first. The reason I splurged is that Cricket is a blend of merino and cashmere with a beautiful luster. The yarn was wonderful to work with and the semi-solid dye job added the right amount of detail. I’m glad I didn’t pick out a darker color because then all the cables would have gotten lost which would have been a complete waste.

The Owl In the Thicket is my new favorite hat! Cables, owls, beads, cashmere - what’s not to love? | withwool.com   

The yarn and cables certainly go a long way towards making this my favorite hat, but the pom-pom is what really makes it. I add pom-poms to stuff on a case-by-case basis. They’re cool, but not always necessary. Not this time. The pattern sample looked so good with a pom-pom, and my hat just looked so lacking without one. So I made a very large and in charge pom-pom, but how to put it on? This pom was pretty weighty and used 5 yds of yarn! I didn’t want it to pull the hat out of shape or for it to look tacked on. The answer turned out to be a .5” button. I used this tutorial for how to attach a removable pom-pom. Now, I have no intention of wearing the hat without the pom or taking it off (except maybe to wash it). The button gives the pom somewhere to sit, and that little bit of extra structure makes all the difference.

Now to wait for the weather to get cold enough to wear this beauty. I might not have to wait long with this random weather.

The Specs:
Pattern: The Owl In The Thicket by Sarah Huntington Burch
Yarn: 190 yds Anzula Cricket - Lenore
Needles: US 4 - 3.5 mm
Dates: January 11 - March 11, 2018
@Ravelry

Wooly Links: February 2018

Wooly Links is a round up of the best knitting, spinning, and crochet links I find on the web. The collection goes out bi-weekly in the With Wool Express. You can sign up to get the newsletter full of Wooly Links and other good stuff every week below.


A clear tutorial on how to work double crochet without it turning into a wobbly trapezoid. Saving this for the next time I dabble in crochet.

How to make super fluffy pom-poms

MochiMochiLand is at it again with a cute (and free) knitting pattern for a four-leaf clover.

I was in a bind the other day when I needed to figure out how to space button holes on a button band. This button band calculator from did all the math and made the knitting a breeze.

Knit and Tonic wrote a helpful review of the expanded edition of Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book.

Cute alert! Check out this free crochet pattern for a cactus hat.

As part of the Tuff Socks Naturally project, which explores the durability of socks made without nylon or superwash fibers, @rebeccaspindle shared the interesting history and breeding of the Ryeland Sheep.

Why row gauge matters

Beth Smith shares how she uses sample cards to plan her spinning for large and small projects.

Adventures in natural dyeing with black beans. Follow along with a super detailed attempt at dyeing yarn with black beans. The colors are lovely.

Nora Fok creates wearable art using knitting, weaving, braiding, and knotting. One piece is made of 3,500 knit spheres made from nylon microfilament.

Even a knitter with decades of experience can really screw stuff up.

I’ve never washed a raw wool fleece, but this is the tutorial I’d use if I ever decided to try.

Curious Handmade has written an informative series on how to get started knitting your own socks.

Tutorials for 3 different and beyond-the-basics knitting cast-ons.

And now for something completely different... is about the other interesting stuff I find online. Sometimes it's photography, art, science, crafty goodness, or a good story.

I am continually surprised by the scale and detail that can be achieved with needle felting. Paolo Del Toro makes huge masks similar to Japanese Noh theater masks.

Cayce Zavaglia creates incredible portraits using embroidery, and this behind the scenes interview gives a neat look at her thought process and intention.

Bete Molina uses her background in graphic design to create these incredible patterned quilts.

Bring on the giant, inflatable, light-up rabbits of Amanda Parer! I’d love to see these in person.

A Little Studio Reorganization

I reorganized my studio with the help of some stacking shelves. | withwool.com

I’ve been feeling the itch to reorganize my studio space for months. I stared at it all for a bit before moving on to measuring and mentally rearranging all the furniture. Unfortunately, nothing drastic was going to happen without moving furniture to a different room which just wasn’t an option. But, I wasn't completely out of luck because I was able to stack a second shelf on top of one I already had. That little bit of extra storage space has made all the difference.

I’m not done rearranging, clearing out the clutter, and moving stuff around, by my studio feels so much cleaner and better organized. No more random piles of stuff shoved into corners. Yarn Fort can actually be Yarn Fort instead of a stack of all the things. The tip top shelf is the new spot for all my WIP’s and in-progress designs. My craft supplies, sketchbooks, and art supplies have a designated space that I can get to without moving other stuff out of the way first. And I have some extra shelf space to work with too. It’s great. The only downside of this new setup is that I haven’t figured out where to put the drum carder. It can’t chill on the couch for much longer.

It’s been awhile since Yarn Fort made an appearance, so here’s the stash in all it’s 5’ 7” glory. That’s 1.7 meters for my metric friends. While Yarn Fort hasn’t gotten noticeably smaller since 2016, it is better organized at least.

I reorganized my studio with the help of some stacking shelves. | withwool.com

A Solution to WIP Overwhelm

Feeling overwhelmed and stuck in your #knitting projects? Try working on them 20 minutes at a time. | withwool.com

Normally, I’m a knitter and spinner that has a lot of projects going at any one time because what I want to work on changes. I’ve got simple projects for autopilot knitting, small projects for travel knitting, and complicated projects for a challenge. The large number of these different project usually doesn’t bother me. Usually. At the moment though I’m feeling rather overwhelmed by them all. There’s the baby sweater that’s also a gauge swatch experiment. There’s the shark that still needs a sweater. There’s unfinished gift knitting leftover from the holidays. There’s a bunch of alpaca singles waiting to be plied. There’s all the knitting patterns that I’m in the middle of designing. And never mind the general day-to-day routine and work and projects that aren’t fiber related. Being stuck in the middle of all these different projects with all their deadlines has been weighing me down. So, last week, I took a break to watch tv, waste time online, and play games. The down time helped me think.

Feeling overwhelmed and stuck in your #knitting projects? Try working on them 20 minutes at a time. | withwool.com

The only way to finish these all these different projects is by focusing on just one of them at a time. Rushing to do bits and pieces on 20 things at the same time is just dragging things out. So I’m picking the baby sweater to work on until it’s done. While I can’t finish it in a night, the sweater is the closest to the finish line of everything. Plus, I didn’t have to tackle a bunch of other to-do’s first in order to get back to knitting.

Still, this grand decision didn’t make it any easier to get going again. Being in “the middle” is a slog. When I need a kick in the butt to get to work, I use the pomodoro technique to help me focus. The technique boils down to 20 minutes of work followed by a short break. And repeat. That’s it. I use an app called Focus Keeper which lets me set the length of my work sessions, breaks, repeats, and tailor lots of other nifty options. I use it when I need to get to work or just don’t want to do something necessary, like cleaning the bathroom.

Feeling overwhelmed and stuck in your #knitting projects? Try working on them 20 minutes at a time. | withwool.com

This time I used the app for my knitting. All I had to do was work on the sweater for 25 minutes. After that, I could stop or keep going. Surprise, surprise - I kept going and finished the decreases on the first sleeve. I’m glad I had the timer to keep me accountable because I would have put the sleeve down halfway through otherwise. Figuring out how to work jogless stripes that happened in the same spot as the decreases while I kept track of rounds and carried the other colors up the sleeve took all of my attention.

Feeling overwhelmed and stuck in your #knitting projects? Try working on them 20 minutes at a time. | withwool.com

I’m pleased with how the sleeve turned out except for this hole where I started knitting again. Picking up a stitch at the beginning and end of the round did nothing. I’m going to sew it up with a yarn tail when I weave in the ends. Do you know any tips or tutorials so this hole doesn’t happen on the second sleeve?

Feeling overwhelmed and stuck in your #knitting projects? Try working on them 20 minutes at a time. | withwool.com

Oh, I picked up some buttons too! I found these cute little wood hearts at my local yarn shop. They’re a cute match, and I’m glad they’re the right size since I had to guess if they'd fit.

There’s still a good chunk of knitting to do on the sleeves before I can get to washing and blocking this baby. And I’m going to keep using the timer because it’s helping me get through the slog. Maybe it’ll become a daily goal of one 25 minute session until the sweater is done and buttoned. If you’re stuck in the middle like I am, give the pomodoro technique a try. Even 5 or 10 minutes will get you closer to the finish line and out from under the overwhelm.

How to Clean Stubborn Fiber Out of a Drum Carder

Chunks of fiber stuck in your drum carder? Get a pair of forceps to get those pesky fibers! | withwool.com

My drum carder has been sitting unused and unloved for the past few months. Why? All this green fiber stuck in the tines. I bought 4 ounces of Corriedale wool locks, AKA the green fiber, to practice making batts and figure out the carder’s quirks. Making the batts turned out to be a struggle because the locks were matted, but I didn’t realize how matted until it was time to feed them into the carder. I had to crank the drum while pulling back on the fiber to get them to open and pull apart instead of just feeding onto the main drum in one big clump. I made 2 batts before calling it quits because the all the  fiber stuck on the main drum. To make things even more aggravating, the stuck fiber only seemed to trap more fiber down there with it. The bent paper clip I attempted to pick the fibers out with didn’t do that great job and none of my other tools did a thing. So the carder went back on the shelf until I could figure out how to clean it.

The answer to my problem turned out to be in a blog post from 2009 (!) that listed the basic tools to use with your drum carder. Definitely worth a read if you’re thinking about getting your hands on a carder. Anyway, one of the recommended tools was a pair of long thin forceps, extra long tweezers, because they’re thin enough to get between the tines without damaging the carding cloth. So I picked up a pair at the hardware store.

This is what my carder looked like before:

Chunks of fiber stuck in your drum carder? Get a pair of forceps to get those pesky fibers! | withwool.com

And this is what the carder looked like after the 23 minutes I spent picking at with the forceps:

Chunks of fiber stuck in your drum carder? Get a pair of forceps to get those pesky fibers! | withwool.com

I didn’t pull off every bit of green since I’m going to try carding the rest of the fiber (it’s a point of pride and stubbornness now), but the difference is night and day. The forceps were great for picking up both small and large bits of fiber. Even better I was able to work them under the larger sections and push the fiber up so I could grab it.

Chunks of fiber stuck in your drum carder? Get a pair of forceps to get those pesky fibers! | withwool.com
Chunks of fiber stuck in your drum carder? Get a pair of forceps to get those pesky fibers! | withwool.com
Chunks of fiber stuck in your drum carder? Get a pair of forceps to get those pesky fibers! | withwool.com

Cleaning the the carder wasn’t quick, but the forceps did a great job. They grabbed every stuck strand big or small. Plus, I didn’t scrape or poke my fingers on the tines. Glad I’ve got the forceps as part of permanent drum carder cleaning kit. They’re cheap, work well, and don’t take up a lot of space. Get a pair.

Chunks of fiber stuck in your drum carder? Get a pair of forceps to get those pesky fibers! | withwool.com