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

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!

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 Measure Knitting Gauge in Ribbing

How to check knitting gauge in ribbing, and what the pattern means when it says stretched, unstretched, and blocked. | withwool.com

Knowing your gauge for a knitting project is important. There’s no doubt about it. But how do you measure gauge when you’re not knitting something in stockinette? And why do patterns list gauge in stockinette when the project is covered in cables or ribbing or slip stitches?

Why is the gauge listed in stockinette?

Patterns usually measure gauge in stockinette because the author is assuming that if you can match their gauge in stockinette, then you’ll be able to match gauge in the pattern’s specific stitch. Plus, it’s also a lot easier to measure stitches and rows on stockinette than on a more complicated stitch pattern. Less room for a miscount that way.

&nbsp;How to check knitting gauge in ribbing, and what the pattern means when it says stretched, unstretched, and blocked. | withwool.com

How to measure gauge in a rib pattern

There are plenty of patterns that list gauge in the dominant stitch pattern of the project too. The specific stitch pattern to swatch will be mentioned with the gauge info. If there’s no stitch pattern listed, the gauge is taken over stockinette.

So what do you do when the stitch pattern is ribbing? Whatever the specific pattern - 1x1, 2x2, 4x2, etc - ribbing is stretchy and the purl stitches hide in the back. How you check gauge will depend on 1 of these 3 words: unstretched, stretched, or blocked. I’m going to include the usual caveat, washing and drying your swatch the same way as the final project will help you get a more realistic measurement.

If the pattern says to measure the ribbing gauge unstretched: Put the knitting on a flat surface and count both knit and purl stitches over the length listed with the gauge info. 2” and 4” are the most common.

If the pattern say to measure the ribbing gauge stretched (or slightly stretched): Generally, this instruction means to pull the ribbing apart enough so that the purl stitches become clearly visible, but they are not pulled tight. You’ll probably need to pin the swatch out to get a true stitch count. Then count the stitches to find your gauge.

There’s a little room for interpretation with this instruction because one knitter might find that the listed gauge too loose or too tight. Or, if you’re substituting a different yarn, said yarn might not behave the same way as the one used in the pattern sample.

If the pattern says to measure the ribbing pattern blocked:  Let’s not confuse the general definition of blocking - washing and drying your knitting to help it be a specific shape or size, not necessarily stretching it - with the word “blocked” as written here. In this specific case, blocking means to wash and dry the ribbing while pulling the ribbing out until it looses it’s stretchiness. It’s important to pin the swatch out to the measurements listed in the pattern while its drying. Then once the swatch is dry and the pins removed, measure the gauge.

An Example of Measuring Ribbing Gauge:

&nbsp;How to check knitting gauge in ribbing, and what the pattern means when it says stretched, unstretched, and blocked. | withwool.com

My Windbreaker hat pattern is based entirely in 2x2 rib, even the cables. So, I wrote the gauge like this:

13 sts and 13 rows = 2” in 2x2 rib, unstretched

The hat is worked in worsted weight yarn, and 13 stitches seems like way too many to be in 2” at first glance. “Unstretched” is the keyword here. Since the measurement is taken over unstretched ribbing, all those purl stitches hiding in the back are counted. The stitches per inch would be very different had the gauge been listed as “stretched”.

The Windbreaker hat knitting pattern by April Klich

Sign up to the With Wool Weekly newsletter to get the Windbreaker pattern for FREE. You’ll also get news about new patterns, blog posts, tutorials, and a roundup of fiber arts links. Plus, get special discounts and bonuses just for subscribers.

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New (Free) Pattern: The Windbreaker Hat

The Windbreaker hat is a ridiculously stretchy cabled hat. Quick and easy to knit, the free pattern uses less than 1 skein of worsted weight yarn and is a great gift. #knitting | withwool.com

The Windbreaker hat got the chance to live up to it’s name this weekend. The Bearded One and I trekked through the falling snow, wind, and 19 degree temps to run errands and grab lunch. Every minute outside, the hat kept his head warm and the wind out. No cold ears here.
 
Windbreaker is a ridiculously stretchy cabled hat. Seriously. It fits both me (22") and the Bearded One’s 24” noggin. The secret to this stretch is that the hat, even the cables, are based in 2x2 rib. This has the added bonus of making the hat an easy knit while the cables keep things interesting. And thanks to the long brim, Windbreaker can be worn as a slouchy hat or with the brim folded for an extra layer against the cold.

The Windbreaker hat is a ridiculously stretchy cabled hat. Quick and easy to knit, the free pattern uses less than 1 skein of worsted weight yarn and is a great gift. #knitting | withwool.com
The Windbreaker hat is a ridiculously stretchy cabled hat. Quick and easy to knit, the free pattern uses less than 1 skein of worsted weight yarn and is a great gift. #knitting | withwool.com

The pattern uses worsted weight yarn, and this hat is made with less than one skein of Berroco Ultra Alpaca (Oceanic Mix). Both written and charted instructions are included for the cables and crown decreases. The pattern includes two sizes, medium and large, and an option to work a longer section of cables and a shorter brim.

Add it to your queue and favorites on Ravelry!

Sizes: Medium (Large) - Shown in size Large which fits a head circumference up to 24" (61 cm)

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) 40" circular needle (for magic loop) OR 16" circular needle and DPN's

Gauge: 13 sts and 13 rows = 2" (5 cm) in 2x2 rib, unstretched

Yarn: 130 (145) yds / 119 (133) m worsted weight yarn. Shown in Berroco Ultra Alpaca - Oceanic Mix.

Notions: Cable Needle, Tapestry Needle

Sign up to the With Wool Weekly newsletter to get the Windbreaker pattern for FREE. You’ll also get news about new patterns, blog posts, tutorials, and a roundup of fiber arts links. Plus, get special discounts and bonuses just for subscribers.

With Wool Weekly

Spam is bad. There's none of that here.

A Gauge Swatch Update and Yarn Chicken

Want to know if you’ve got enough yarn for your #knitting project? Here’s a simple way to find out. | withwool.com

I’ve been working on the Pacific Coast sweater for the past week. The “just one more row” litany has been good motivation to keep knitting. After regularly checking that the stitch counts were correct, I finished the raglan increases and put the sleeves on waste yarn. Now my little WIP is finally starting to look like a cute sweater! And I’m loving the stripes more and more with every row.

Since I’m using this sweater is part of a little swatching experiment, which you can read all about here, here’s an update. The sweater is about 6” from cast on to my current row, and my gauge has remained consistent across the entire length and width. Said gauge still matches up with swatch #3, the un-pinned chunk of stockinette. I was curious if the switch to working fewer body stitches would change my gauge after the constant increasing of the raglan. So far, no.

Want to know if you’ve got enough yarn for your #knitting project? Here’s a simple way to find out. | withwool.com

One thing that has been nagging me though is if I have enough yarn to knit all the stripes. I’ve got plenty of purple, but only one ball each of the green and grey. And I really don’t want to buy more. Before casting on, I made sure I had the required yardage, but I still couldn't help but wonder if I’m playing yarn chicken. So I’m falling back to my tried and true method for estimating yardage.

Want to know if you’ve got enough yarn for your #knitting project? Here’s a simple way to find out. | withwool.com

Step 1: Weigh the yarn ball in grams (the math is a lot easier in metric). I’ve got 35g of light grey.
Step 2: Knit a 4 row stripe and weigh the yarn again. Now I’ve got 32g of grey which means each 4-row stripe uses about 3g of yarn.
Step 3: Now it’s time to make math work for me. I’m knitting 10 more 4-row stripes so I’ll need a total of 30g of green and grey combined to finish the body. I’ve got 70g which leaves plenty of yarn to knit both the body and the sleeves. Definitely not playing yarn chicken and I’m rather pleased about that.

P.S. If you're not working by the stripe, work by the inch or centimeter and with the final length of the project instead. 

This is a simplified version of how I usually calculate and estimate yardage. I’ve written up a tutorial for the more detailed method which you can find here.

Now that I’m not worried about running out of yarn, I can get on with the rest of this sweater and enjoy the knitting. And since this is made with fingering weight yarn, there’s lots of knitting to enjoy.    

 

Wooly Links: December + January 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 newsletter. You can sign up to get the newsletter full of Wooly Links and other good stuff every week here.


Got a hole in your handspun sweater? Here’s how to reclaim the yarn.

Even if you don’t spin, this article on the differences between woolen and worsted mill spun yarn explains the differences - durability, warmth, color, stitch definition - between the two types.

This post by Elise Blaha focuses on knitting and sewing, but the overall focus on getting started making your own clothing applies to any craft. About time, cost, knowing what to make, supplies...

Techniques for advanced swatching: cables, lace, in the round, and fair isle.

Kate Davies outlines how to estimate yardage to make a pattern larger using her Carbeth jumper. I use a similar method myself for all sorts of projects.

Loving the cosy simplicity of the Earthshine cowl by Hillary Smith Callis.

The new issue of Twist Collective is live and it’s packed with good stuff.  Patty’s Purls of Wisdom tackles lying gauge swatches and how to get a swatch that tells the truth.

The Harmonium Slouch Hat by Kelly McClure is a great mix of slouchy and fuzzy.

A Guide to Reversible Cables that look good on both sides.

The Vintersol sweater keeps popping up in my Instagram feed and I love the yoke more and more each time.

Knitter Nina Dodd and photographer Joseph Ford collaborate to create hand knit sweaters that blend in seamlessly with the background. They’re all so good!

I’m looking forward to listening to this interview with Rachel Denny who makes incredible knit and crochet sculptures of deer and yaks. The photos are incredible!

Strauch Fiber released two worksheets to track and keep notes on making batts and spinning yarn to keep all of the details. (via Mielke’s Fiber Arts Newsletter)

The Winter 2017 edition of Knitty is here with plenty of good stuff inside.  My favorites are the Skew Too Mitts, the Cool Bearing sweater, and the Stellen Socks.

Try out this neat trick to figure out what the weight of that label-less yarn is. Good for figuring out whether a yarn would be a good substitute too.

Now this is a spinning kit! Jillian Moreno shares what she carries for her every day spinning and teaching. So much good helpful stuff in there.

If you’re on the hunt for gift tags for your hand made gifts, Alisa Burke put together a colorful collection.

Emily Wessel of Tin Can Knits wrote a great essay on developing the knit “grit” and stamina to get past self-doubt, the middle slog, and finishing.

This DIY llama ornament is pretty cute and looks simple to make too.

A cute idea to use of leftover yarn for a pair of striped socks. I’m keeping this in mind for later.

I love the simple undulating texture of the After Midnight mitts by Thea Colman.

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. 

Amy Joy Watson combines wood, rope, and paint to create these beautiful hanging sculptures.

Take a look at how pencils are made. The photos are incredible. Definitely gives a new appreciation for how this commonplace tools are made.

Need some cute today? Here’s cats wearing hats made from cat hair. The Princess Leia wig is great.

Impressionist paintings? Nope, close-up photos of Jupiter taken on NASA’s Juno Mission.

Everyday objects arranged into incredibly detailed patterns. My favorite is the rainbow of forks and toothpicks.

The 80-year-old timber escalators of the Wynard Station in Sydney, Australia were turned into a beautiful suspended sculpture for the station’s renovation.

Knitting A Gauge Swatch That Tells The Truth

#Knitting a gauge swatch is an important first step in making a sweater. So how do you make an accurate swatch? | withwool.com

This year’s knit list includes a sweater or two because I haven’t made very many of them, and I want to change that. I’ve only knit 1 sweater for myself in the *ahem* decade+ since I first learned to knit. It was the Amiga sweater, and it was cute and just the right size until I blocked it. Afterwards it was still cute, but had turned into an oversized cardigan. I definitely wore it, but it wasn’t what I set out to make or wear. I did all the things the knitting police said you’re supposed to do: knit a big swatch, used the same needles, and blocked the swatch the same as the finished sweater. I got gauge, or so I thought, but the swatch didn’t tell the truth. So for this first sweater of 2018, I’m taking a more rigorous and experimental approach to swatching. Instead of making just one swatch, I made three.

#Knitting a gauge swatch is an important first step in making a sweater. So how do you make an accurate swatch? | withwool.com
#Knitting a gauge swatch is an important first step in making a sweater. So how do you make an accurate swatch? | withwool.com

For swatch #1 I cast on enough stitches to equal 4” and a little extra for a garter stitch border. I added stripes as in the pattern and a section of 2x2 rib knit on smaller needles.  Then I washed and blocked the swatch the same way I would the finished sweater. The square was a little uneven at the sides so I pinned it out to straighten the edges. This first swatch answered a few different questions.

Would the dye bleed between the different colors? No.
Would I like knitting the fabric on the needles I had? Yes.
Would I like the fabric after washing and blocking? Yes
Did I like the stripe pattern? Yes
Did I have the right needles to knit the ribbing at a tighter gauge? Yes.
Did I get stitch and row gauge? No, my gauge was off on both counts.

#Knitting a gauge swatch is an important first step in making a sweater. So how do you make an accurate swatch? | withwool.com

With swatch #2 I was only trying to answer the gauge question. So I went down two needle sizes and tried again. Same stitch count. Same garter border. Same blocking method. This time my gauge was too tight. And I didn’t like the finished fabric - too stiff - or knitting it.

#Knitting a gauge swatch is an important first step in making a sweater. So how do you make an accurate swatch? | withwool.com

I didn’t cast on for swatch #3 right away because I didn’t have the right size needle. My needle collection has been lacking a 3mm circular for years and this was project the first reason I had to buy one. In between refreshing the package tracking, I happened to read this article on how to knit accurate swatches and how to keep them from lying to you. Contrary to a lot of what I’d read up to this point, the advice was to skip the garter stitch border and not pin the swatch at all during blocking. The article is definitely worth the read and explains the why’s behind all of these tips.

So I switched things up and followed the advice in the article: skipped the border, worked 6” worth of stitches instead of 4”, and plopped a swatch of stockinette in the sink to soak. I didn’t pin it out or even try to control the roll as it dried. Know what? I finally got both stitch and row gauge. The fabric was nice to knit and has good drape. Win win.

So why do I “trust” this method of swatching to tell the truth? It’s given me numbers and measurements that didn’t require pinning and pulling on the fabric. Plus, the accuracy for swatches knit with borders and pinned is far from 100%. There’s no reason to not try it out. And if the sweater does grow, at least it’s a baby sweater and a little extra room isn’t a bad thing. 

#Knitting a gauge swatch is an important first step in making a sweater. So how do you make an accurate swatch? | withwool.com

Since it seemed like I made an accurate swatch, I finally cast on for that sweater. It’s the Pacific Coast baby cardigan by Gabrielle Danskknit. It starts at the neck with a bit of ribbing before moving on to the stripes and raglan increases. My gauge is spot on. There’s still a lot of knitting to do before this beauty gets the blocking treatment, but I’ll let you know if gauge swatch #3 lied or told the truth.

17 Fiber Arts Things That Made 2017 Great

I’ve enjoyed making lists since I was kid and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I wanted to write up a 2017 review, but couldn’t muster up the energy or motivation to write about in paragraph form. So, I’m taking a page from Austin Kleon’s blog and making a list of the knitting and spinning that made 2017 great. Somehow the 2017 list was 17 items long without any extra help from me.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

1. The Bearded One and I going to our first fiber festival, Estes Park Wool Market.

2. Completing 100 Days of Spinning where I spun and worked with handspun yarn for almost all of those 100 days.

3. Putting in the work to design more knitting patterns. Most of them didn’t make it past the layout stage, but they’re so close to being released in 2018.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

4. Releasing the Melded Scarf, a free pattern for a striped reversible scarf, in February.

5. Knitting a Boneyard shawl with my own handspun yarn.

6. Mostly staying on the sheep and being more conscious about my yarn and fiber buying. The stash is still worthy of the name Yarn Fort, but it hasn’t taken over any more space.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

7. Spinning along with Tour de Fleece for the 5th row in year.

8. Pushing my spinning boundaries to try new batts and more textured yarns.

9. Going to Interweave Yarn Fest.

10. Finally playing around with the drum carder and figuring out how to use it.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

11. Digging into my fiber stash and spinning a beautiful gradient from one giant batt. 8 matching skeins!

12. Taking my first ever spinning class about different ways to spin color with Maggie Casey.

13. Going to meetings and being a member of my local fiber guild.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com
All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com
All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

14. The KIS hat and Mosaic Sisters patterns being used to teach classes on color work and mosaic knitting respectively.

15. Getting a whole room to use as my studio where I can work and get to all my art supplies, yarn, books, and notions. Wanted this for years so it’s great, but scary too.

16. Developing a new appreciation for hats knit with fingering weight yarn.

17. Wearing and enjoying my own hand knits. And seeing the Bearded One wearing and enjoying his hand knits too.