Little Golden Moments

I’m writing this at what I suspect is just the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak and ‘lockdown’ in the UK, and I feel like things are tough already, aren’t they? But you know when you’re having a hard time and then all of a sudden, something happens that makes you stop and appreciate the small things? I had one of these moments last week, as I was walking back from one of my cancelled knitting classes.

I’m going to share the story here, but if you’d rather listen to me telling it, I’ve uploaded a voice-recording to Soundcloud (warning though – I get a bit emotional towards the end!). Find it here.

If you’re new to my work, you might not know that my ‘other’ job is running and teaching kids and adults knitting classes with Knitting For All. Up until last week, we’d been running out classes, but last Wednesday our school-based sessions were cancelled, kind of at the last minute following the latest government announcements.

Anyway, as I was returning home from the cancelled class, wheeling my big bag of knitting supplies back up the hill, I saw a group of teenagers coming towards me. Now, I’ve been teaching kids how to knit for quite a while, maybe 6 or 7 years, so some of those kids have now moved on to high school. Usually if I see one of them in the street they don’t make eye contact – I don’t think I’m cool enough for teenagers to say hi to!

So, I was walking up the hill and these teens were crossing the road. All of a sudden, two of them started jumping up and down, waving their arms and calling out “Hi Maddie, hi!”.

I realised that they were two of my former knitting pupils, now about 13 or 14 years old, and they were waving at me – going out of their way to get my attention (not paying attention to crossing the road! Ha!), and I just thought, how lovely! Here I am, having had to cancel all of my classes and feeling a bit upset about it, and these teens are jumping about in the street to say hello to their old knitting teacher.

It was such a small moment, but when you’re having a tough time, which I think we all are just now, it’s important to notice these little golden moments and treasure them.

I hope that my former pupils have retained enough of their knitting skills that they can pick-up their needles again during this period of lockdown, and that it will bring them some comfort, and maybe a little golden moment of their own.


Shawl featured is called Little Golden Moments and is released on Sat 28th March. Be the first to know when it’s available in my Ravelry Store and receive an exclusive discount code by signing up to my mailing list here.

5 Extra Uses For Lightbulb Pins

There are so many different kinds of stitch markers out there, but I’d be willing to bet that you have a favourite?

For me, it’s those little lightbulb pins. I like them so much that last year I bought 1000 of them online: 250 of each colour – silver, gold, black and a tarnished grey. I was slightly disappointed when four little 5cm/4″ plastic packets arrived full of stitch markers. I think I thought 1000 lightbulb pins would mean a whole big bowlful, rather than a wee handful – I guess they are smaller and take up less space than I realised?!

Anyway, in the year that I’ve been the proud owner of 1000 lightbulb pins, I’ve discovered that, besides being used as a traditional stitch marker (threaded onto your knitting needle) there are a few other things they can do which make them super handy. Here’s a wee run down of my top five extra uses for lightbulb pins …

1. If you own a set of interchangeable needles, the kind that use a little key to unscrew the tips, then you can use a lightbulb pin in place of the key (I don’t know about you, but I’m always losing those keys, but I’m never far from a stitch marker!). Handy!

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2. Similarly, you can also use a lightbulb pin in place of those little cable-end-cap-thingies – just thread the pin through the holes at each end of the cable and fasten together. Those stitches will be nice and secure on the cable until you’re ready to start knitting them again!

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3. I love being able to unlock lightbulb pins and move them around in my knitting (which you can’t do with fixed stitch markers), and they work really well as a progress marker. You know when you’re working on something for ages but it never seems to be growing? Pop a marker in the actual fabric of your knitting and it will mark your progress. You’ll start to notice the marker moving down as your knitting grows: reassuring you that you’re getting closer to having a finished object. Hurrah!

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4. Use lightbulb pins to pin together flat pieces of knitting for seaming. This works especially well for mattress stitch as the pins help to keep the pieces in place without holding them together too tightly, allowing you to sew the stitches and then draw the two sides together to create that lovely invisible mattress stitch seam.

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5. Since lightbulb pins open up, you can also use them to pin knitting essentials inside your project bag. For example – if you’re out and about with your knitting and you know you’ll need a tapestry needle, but you don’t want it floating about at the bottom of your project bag, you can thread the eye of the needle through a lightbulb pin and pin it to the inside of you bag. When you come to need it, you’ll easily be able to find it.

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There are probably lots of other ways of using these handy little stitch markers – let me know if you have another one.

 

The purple and pink project featured here is an upcoming cowl design in collaboration with Old Maiden Aunt yarns and part of Gamer Crafting’s Operation: Social Justice campaign. £1 from each copy of the pattern sold between 15/3/20 and 31/3/20 will go to CRER: Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights.

The best way to keep up-to-date with my knitting pattern releases (and get 15% off each new design) is by joining my mailing list, which you can do here.

Or head over to my Ravelry store to see all my patterns and buy yourself a copy.

 

The Secret to Quicker Short Rows

Do you find it hard to keep track of short rows? Maybe you find it tricky working out where to stop and turn? Do you end up doing a lot of counting as you knit the row to make sure that you’re turning in the right place?

If so, then have a little read of my tips below where I share my secret to working short rows more quickly and accurately (shhhh … the secret is using lockable stitch markers!).

1. When you’re using a marker to help you keep track of short rows, choose a distinctive lockable marker so that you don’t get mixed up with any other markers in your knitting. In the examples below I’ve used gold markers to mark the repeats of the pattern, and I’ve chosen a purple marker along with animal markers to mark the short rows, making it easier to distinguish the short row markers from the pattern markers.

2. Use markers to identify where the last short row turns happened. Where you place the markers will depend on which type of short row you’ve used: if you’ve worked German short rows then you could place the marker on the ‘double stitch’ or if you’ve used the ‘wrap and turn’ method then you could mark the wrapped stitch. These markers will help you quickly count how many short rows you’ve worked, which is especially handy if your pattern asks you to repeat the short rows another x number of times.

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In this example, I’ve marked the wrapped stitches with distinctive animal markers so I can see, at a glance, that I’ve worked two wrap and turns so far.

3. If the short row instructions in your pattern say something like “knit to 7 sts before the last wrapped stitch [or turn, or double stitch]” you can place a marker in that spot before you begin working the next row.

A897F526-D016-4D50-A1C2-EC9E09D43F1AFor example, in the photo above, the previous wrapped stitch is marked with the bird marker and the instructions say “knit to 7 stitches before the previously wrapped stitch” so I’ve placed the purple marker in the spot where I need to stop and wrap and turn. This means that I can easily work along to that marker without having to stop and repeatedly count and check as I’m knitting the row.

4. When your knitting pattern has the short rows written out line by line (rather than asking you to repeat the short rows x number of times), you can also use a marker to mark where the wrap and turn (or double stitch for German Short Rows) will be. Before you begin to work the next row, simply count along the number of repeats or stitches that you’re asked to work before turning, and place a distinct marker accordingly.

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In this example, from my Quiescence Shawl pattern, I’ve used gold markers to mark the repeats in the patterning. The next instruction is “[K to m, sm] 3 times, k2, w&t.” I can count along 3 repeats of the “k to m, sm” instruction, and place the purple marker 2 sts further along to the left, as this is the point where I’ll need to wrap and turn the next stitch. Again, by adding a distinct marker before I begin working the row, I don’t have to count as I go. I can now easily work along until I reach the marker and then do the wrap and turn.

If you’d like to know more about working a wrap and turn, then have a look at the video tutorial for my Quiescence Shawl pattern here. You can buy a copy of the pattern in my Ravelry store here.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive more handy hints, behind the scenes news and exclusive discounts on newly released patterns here.

The beautiful yarn in these photos is Kettle Yarn Co.’s Northiam Fingering in the Samphire colourway.

Top Five Mini-Skein Tips

To help you plan your beautiful mini-skein project and to make the most of your minis whilst you’re knitting, I’ve complied my top five tips for mini-skein success! I hope you find them useful.

1) Take Photos: Once you’ve worked out the perfect order to knit your mini-skeins in, take a quick photo of them on your phone. I always think that I’ll remember which mini I was planning to use next, but I don’t, so use your phone camera to help you.

2) Use Weighing Scales: I love my little set of jewellery scales for weighing my yarn. They are great for mini-skeins because you often want to use up all the yarn but it can be hard to work out whether you’ve got enough yarn to knit another row or not. Read about how to do this here.


3) Wind Them At The Last Minute: It’s very tempting to wind up your mini-skeins into little balls right at the beginning of your project. However, if you’re finding it hard to work out which mini to use next, you’ll find it easier to see all the colours in the yarn if you leave them as skeins. Unravelling and laying out the mini-skeins next to each other will help you decide upon the best order to knit them in.

4) Knit In The Ends: Try the handy ‘weft-clasp’ technique for joining-in new mini-skeins to avoid having to weave in lots of ends!  Read about the technique here.

5) No Weaving-In: Another way to deal with the ends is to hold them with the working yarn and work the next couple of stitches with the old tail, new tail and working yarn held together. Or, if you’re knitting a tube (like the Choose Colour! Cowl) where all the ends will be on the inside and unseen, just tie the ends in a double knot – nobody will ever see them! (I have a big oversized jumper where I did this: I have to tuck the ends in around the neck every time I put it on! Haha!)

Looking for mini-skein patterns? Have a look here.

Looking for mini-skeins?Here’s a handy list of mini-skein producers!

What Is A Knit-A-Long?

Do you know what a knit-a-long is?

I’m hosting one especially for all my mini-skein patterns, which started on 1st Dec, and after a chat with some of my knit night friends, it occurred to me that I should perhaps explain what I mean by ‘having a knit-a-long’ or KAL? Maybe you are new to this idea of a ‘knit-a-long’ or you might be a seasoned ‘KALer’!? Whichever you are, I thought it would help if I explained a bit further … it’s not complicated, I promise!

Really, it’s just a group of people who are knitting a similar thing at the same time: we are all ‘knitting along’ together. This might be knitting the same pattern, or using the same kind of yarn, or all knitting the same type of accessory (a hat, for example). A knit-a-long can take whatever form you like. You might run your KAL at your weekly knit night, or with some knitting friends you’ve met online. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to KAL – it’s just a lovey way of coming together and sharing our creativity.

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I’d love it if you joined in with my mini-skein knit-a-long especially as, if you’re experiencing winter in the Northern Hemisphere (like I am here in Edinburgh), you might be in need of some bright pops of mini-skein colour to brighten-up the darker months!

Knitting Along Together: How To Join-In With My Mini-Skein Knit-a-Long

 
THE KNITTING BIT! Firstly decide which of my five mini-skein patterns you’d like to knit: Choose Colour! Cowl, Hover, Patience Cowl, Winter Lights or Zastruga.

THE ALONG BIT! Choose some yarn (mini-skeins or leftovers) and on, or after, the 1st Dec make a start on your project.

THE TOGETHER BIT! Come and share your mini-skein creation with the rest of the KALers – there are lots of ways to do this:

If you’re on Raverly, you might like to make a project page and come and say hello in my Ravelry group – you could share some photos of how your project is going. Everyone likes to see what colours people have chosen, or which pattern they’ve picked to work on.

If you’re on Instagram, share some photos of your KAL knitting and put the tag #mhdminiskeinkal in the caption so that other KALers can find you and give you some likes! You could also tag me in your photos, I’m @harveyknits

THAT’S IT! Once you’ve done these three things, you’ve joined the knit-a-long! Whoop whoop!

Finished Projects
When some people get towards the end of their project, I’ll set-up a thread on Ravelry where they can post a photo of their finished mini-skein project and … be eligible for a prize! More on that soon …

You can join in with with KAL by casting on at any time and since it finishes at the end of February, there’s plenty of time to finish your project – it’s a very laid-back KAL.

 

Need Mini-Skeins?

I’ve spent a lovely few hours over the weekend discovering new to me indie dyers and drooling over their gorgeous yarn, and in particular their mini-skeins. So, I thought I’d write a blog post to recommend some of them to you and suggest which patterns their yarn might work with for our Winter Mini-Skein Knit-a-Long

Eligible KAL patterns: L to R clockwise, starting at top left: Winter Shawl, Choose Colour! CowlPatience Cowl, Hover, and Zastruga.

All of the following dyers are based in UK and all the mini-skeins referred to are of 4 ply / fingering-weight yarn. The dyers are in alphabetical order and I’m afraid that I can’t guarantee that they have mini-skeins in stock at the time of reading.


a Knit Away – Based in York, Emily stocks 20g mini-skein packs and ‘pick n’ mix’ minis in both speckles and solids, in beautiful muted tones. Would be great for any of the KAL patterns.

Brambles and Me – Mia dyes her yarn with naturally derived extracts from roots, bark, leaves and insects, and stocks nylon-free yarns. At the time of writing she is getting ready for the Yorkshire Yarn Fest (30th Nov) but if you get in touch with Mia, she may be able to give you more details about her lovely mini-skeins.

Castle View Yarns – Jen is based in Suffolk and is also getting ready for the Yorkshire Yarn Fest (30th Nov), so keep an eye out for mini-skeins appearing on her website soon, as she dyes lovely solid shades and variegated yarns too.

Easy Knits – Jon of Easy Knits dyes wonderfully saturated skeins and speckled 20g mini-skein fade sets. Would be great for any of the KAL patterns (the two Zastruga samples were knitted in Easy Knits yarn!)

Eden Cottage Yarns – Based in Cumbria, Victoria and her team have quite a few options for our KAL. Their Milburn 4ply in the Charcoal colour way would be perfect for the main colour of the Winter Shawl, they also have plenty of 20g ‘pick n mix’ mini-skeins too, including sparkly minis! Eden Cottage’s 20g mini-skein packs which would be great for any of the other KAL patterns.

Dusty Dimples – Dusty stocks beautiful 20g ‘pick n mix’ mini-skeins which would be great for any of the KAL patterns. She also has gorgeous lighter-coloured full skeins, would be beautiful as the main colour in the Winter Shawl, alongside some of darker mini-skeins – lots of options for all of the KAL patterns.

Hedgerow Yarns – Jane of Hedgerow Yarns stocks both 10g and 20g mini-skeins in cute little sets. They’d be lovely knitted up as one of the KAL cowls, or a Zastruga or Hover shawl too.

Fearless Yarns – has lots of mini-skein sets in both 10g and 20g weights in brilliantly saturated tones. At the time of writing, Aileen also has some ’12 Days of Christmas’ sets available too. You could find great yarn for any of the KAL patterns here!

For The Love of Yarn – If you celebrate Christmas, then Lisa has some lovely little Christmas baubles in her shop with a mini-skein inside and stitch markers too! You could make an amazing single loop Choose Colour! Cowl with three of these and then refill the baubles and hang them on your tree! Lisa also has a beautifully bright rainbow mini-skein set which would make a super cosy and thick Patience Cowl.

Iron Bridge Yarns – Felicity has some lovely 20g mini-skein sets, which would be brilliant for any of the KAL patterns. She also has beautiful pale colourways in full skeins: perfect for the Winter Shawl’s main colour.

It’s A Stitch Up – Susie stocks gorgeously bright mini-skeins in both ‘pick n mix’ form and in packs. She also has wonderfully saturated full skeins: great as the main colour in the Winter Shawl.

Kate Selene – Lots of mini-skein choice over on Kate’s website: 10g packs, 20g packs, solids, speckles and cute packaging too! I think Kate’s yarn would work really well with any of the KAL patterns – you might have a dilemma choosing which one to do!

The Knitting Goddess – Joy and Bobby produce a huge variety of mini-skein sets in both 10g and 20g options on several of their lovely British yarn bases. They even have a Lucky Dip mini-skein option if you’d like to knit yourself a surprise for the KAL!

LoveBugs Yarns – Diana has some cute mini-skeins sets in different sizes, including super-bright rainbows and a lovely birthstones set. She also some 100g dark grey skeins: perfect for the Winter Shawl.

Needle and Fred – Seem to be taking a break at the time of writing but from their Instagram feed, I can see that they have beautiful mini-skein sets in both variegated and solid colourways.

Nellie and Eve – Helen dyes with natural dyes and produces beautifully delicate yarn. Although there don’t appear to be any mini-skeins in her shop at the time of writing, you might like to check back, as Helen got in touch with me to say that she would be adding some very soon.

Pixel Atlantis – has a really great choice of ‘pick n mix’ mini-skeins in both solid and semi-solid colourways, which would be lovely for any of the KAL patterns – you might have a hard time making a choice!

Rainbow Cloud 5 – Kasia has some great ‘one of a kind’ mini-skein mystery sets in her shop and also some beautiful ‘pick n mix’ options (the 10g Christmas 2019 colourways would make a gorgeous fade effect for the Winter Shawl contrast colours – you’d need 2 of each colourway for the full contrast colour yardage!).

Rusty Ferret Yarn – Leona is taking a short break at the time of writing, but she has a wonderful selection of mini-skein sets and ‘pick n mix’ options. I knitted the featured Patience Cowl sample in Rusty Ferret and I’d also recommend Leona’s yarn for the Winter Shawl, as she dyes a beautiful dark grey which would be perfect for the main colour.

Sherry Iris – Although there aren’t any mini-skeins in stock at the time of writing, I can see from Sherry Iris’ Instagram grid that they dye-up the most lovely mini-skeins in pastel and muted tones, so keep an eye out!

Vicki Brown Designs – Vicki has lots and lots of 20g ‘pick n mix’ mini-skeins available on her website in solid, semi-solid and speckled colour ways. They’d work with any of the KAL patterns – I don’t know how you’re going to choose!

wildwoolE17 – Alice sells gorgeous speckled 20g mini-skeins in both sets and ‘pick n mix’ options, including some that are in fade sets. These would look beautiful in any of the KAL patterns.

WitchCraftyLady – Is used Almas’ 10 x 10g mini-skein set in the ‘Not Again’ colour way for my Choose Colour! Cowl sample. These minis are made from super soft Merino yarn and Almas’ dyes the colours so cleverly that the melt into each other in the cowl’s textured stitch section. She doesn’t have this particular set in stock at the time of writing, but she does have another set for sale (which comes with a project bag but there’s only one left, so be quick!), which would work for either of the cowl patterns or make a lovely Zastruga or Hover shawl too!

A grand total of 23 mini-skein yarn dyers – that should keep you busy for a while! Please let me know about any more that I could add in and if you’d like to know more about the knit-a-long (starting on 1st Dec), then have a read of this blog post from earlier this month!

Happy mini-skein ogling!

 

 

 

 

Mini-skein Patterns

Are you obsessed with mini-skeins? I think I’m getting that way too! I’m not quite sure what it is about them: whether it’s their cuteness (like little yarny babies) or if it’s their moreishness (that element of collecting a little bit of each colour reminds me of pick n’ mix sweeties)? And if you celebrate Christmas, then you might be gearing-up to peak mini-skein season, with a mini-skein advent calendar? Or maybe, like me,  you’ve got a lot of leftover yarn that are ‘mini-skeins’ in themselves?

It should come as no surprise to you to learn that I’ve designed several shawl and cowl patterns that make the most of these little yarny babies. And since I’m gearing-up to hosting a winter mini-skein knit-a-long (1st Dec to 29th Feb), I thought I’d write a little run down of some of my mini-skein patterns, incase you want to join-in and get planning. All of these patterns contain instructions to customise the design to suit the weight of the minis that you have, and if you’re inclined to do this you might find my recent blog post about weighing your yarn handy.

Zastruga, Winter 2017

4ECA650D-2342-4924-91E5-8D7A9795825DMy first pattern designed for 4ply/fingering weight mini skeins of 20g each is named after a Russian word for wind-eroded ice. Knitted in five sections, each representing a gradually worsening snow storm and featuring a different stitch pattern. This makes Zastruga a motivating knit and the pattern also includes ‘Off Piste’ instructions to help you get the most out of your special mini skeins. This version was knitted in minicakes from Easy Knits.

 

 

Hover, Summer 2017

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A bit of an experiment in side-to-side shawl knitting, Hover is named after the shawl’s shape, which resembles a hovering bird. Each mini skein section begins and finishes with a small textured pattern, and the stitch count increases towards the mid-point and then decreases back down. The desire to reach the next mini-skein and a decreasing stitch count in the second half, make Hover a moreish and fun shawl to knit.

The pattern has been written for 4ply/fingering weight mini skeins (in both linen or wool) ranging from 13g to 20g , and also includes ‘Gone Wild’ instructions explaining how to adapt the pattern to use other sizes of mini-skein.

This version was knitted in linen mini-skeins from Midwinter Yarns.

Patience, Winter 2018

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Last winter’s mini-skein knit-a-long pattern was Patience, a versatile double-loop cowl, which works really well with 4ply/fingering-weight mini-skeins from 5g upwards.

The knit-a-long last year was based around the advent period where knitters worked on a wee section of their cowl everyday. It seemed like such a little thing, but by spending a small amount of time each day, they had created a wonderful knitted accessory by the 25th December! It was lots of fun seeing what colours people chose or what was in their yarny advent calendar each day.

The Patience Cowl will work equally well with other types of mini-skeins or with leftover yarn (there’s instructions for 5g, 10g or 20g + mini-skeins). It’s also fab for fade-effect yarns, speckles or variegated yarn too. This sample was knitted in 5 x 20g 4ply/fingering-weight mini-skeins (Futrets) from Rusty Ferret Yarn.

Two more MHD mini-skein patterns coming soon (work-in-progress shots below)!

UPDATE – NOW BOTH AVAILABLE IN MY RAVELRY STORE

The Choose Colour! Cowl (left) and the fourth Shawl Saturday Series shawl (right), both of which will be eligible for the MHD mini-skein knit-a-long, and released by 1st Dec.

>>> Come and join-in with our Winter Mini-skein Knit-a-long <<<

If you’d like to join along with me and knit one of my mini-skein designs over the winter months, then come and take part in my knit-a-long, either on Ravelry or on Instagram. On Ravelry you can post about your planned mini-skein project in the special KAL chat thread or on Instagram, post photos of your minis or project plans using the hashtag #mhdminiskeinkal to take part (this will help me find your posts and I love drooling over mini-skein pics!). The knit-a-long officially begins on 1st Dec and will finish up on 29th Feb but feel free to post about your KAL plans or tell us all about your mini-skein advent calendar. There’ll be live knit-night chats, random prize draws and perhaps some real-life meet-ups here in Edinburgh. Come and join us!

 

 

 

 

 

Making Stories, Issue 2

Making Stories Magazine have released their second issue today, packed with 10 gorgeous cabled and textured knitting patterns (5 garments and 5 accessories). Plus lots of articles from writers such as Joanne Seiff and Jeanette Sloan. 6% of the profits from this issue will go to anti-racism causes, which is fantastic.

Although I don’t have a pattern featured in this issue (my Columella Shawl was published in the first magazine back in March), Making Stories have very kindly sent me a copy of this wonderful second issue, free of charge, to review for them.

Each issue of Making Stories has a theme around which the patterns and articles are based. The theme for this issue is ‘Loving & Caring’ which resonates throughout, for example in Nicole Bracey’s article on being ‘Knitworthy’ and in Ainur Berkimbayeva’s Open Heart slipper sock pattern, which I’m itching to cast on with some Blacker Yarns Tamar DK from my yarn collection!

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One of my favourite patterns in the magazine is Verena Cohrs Stern pullover, which features a textured chevron yoke pattern. This pattern is hugely flexible and is written for 16 sizes – from a child-sized 18” chest up to an adult-sized 56”. You can knit the pattern in 4ply/fingering weight yarn or in a double-knit weight yarn, with the magazine’s samples being knitted in beautiful yarn from De Rerum Natura. And if that wasn’t enough variety for you, you can also choose between making the garment as a pullover or as a steeked cardigan! How to decide?

I absolutely love the versatility of this pattern. It allows you to create a sort of ‘dream sweater’ for yourself or for your loved ones and plays wonderfully into Nicole Bracey’s message that we are all knitworthy.

Now, I didn’t just keep my review copy all to myself! The lovely people who come along to my regular Knit Night were very keen to have a look through too. One of their favourites was the Hali pullover by Leeni Hoi (the cover design) which was much “oohed and ahhhhhed” over, and quite rightly so with it’s fabulous twisted-stitch pattern and elegant funnel-neck.

All the patterns are available to view on Ravelry, where you can also purchase a digital copy. The magazine itself is available from www.making-stories.com and you can also find links to local stockists on their website too. Enjoy!

 

Using Every Metre of Yarn

The jewellry scales featured below are probably one of my most used pieces of ‘knitting equipment’ and not just by me – a week barely goes past without someone at my Wednesday Knit Night asking if they can borrow them! The great thing about them is that, since they can measure to .00g, much more accurate than a set of kitchen scales, they are incredibly useful for working out how much yarn you have left and whether you can eek out another repeat or not.

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I bought this set from Amazon several years ago for less than £10 and I reckon that I use them nearly everyday! You might find them handy too, as it’s lovely to be able to make the most out of your beautiful yarn, and not have too much leftover.

I’m going to use my latest shawl pattern Loanin, as an example but you can use the same principle to calculate amounts for other patterns.

 

Loanin asks you to knit ten repeats of Rows 1-24 of the main pattern, so just before you embark on the last repeat, weigh your yarn and write down the number (I always think I’ll remember and then I don’t!) – let’s call this number X.

Work the repeat (24 rows), and weigh the yarn again – let’s call this number Y. To work out how much yarn has been used by one repeat of the pattern, do the calculation            X – Y = Z grams, where Z is the amount used in one repeat of Rows 1-24.

Doing this might let you work out whether you can knit another repeat of the 24 rows or not, but it’s handy to do a further calculation to establish roughly how much yarn is used in each row. For Loanin, the repeat is 24 rows, so if I take Z and divide it by 24, I have the approximate amount used up by 1 row.

Loanin has a 10 row garter stitch border before the cast off so I would need to multiple that last amount by 10 to account for the border. Also think about how much you would need for the cast-off, usually 3 rows worth, so multiple the last amount by 3 to account for that!

For Example (I’ve made these amounts up so please don’t use them as a guide when you’re knitting your Loanin!):

  • X (first weight of yarn, before last repeat) -> 23g
  • Y (second weight of yarn, after last repeat) -> 15g
  • Z (amount used in one repeat/24 rows) -> 23 – 15 = 8g
  • Amount used by 1 row -> 8 divided by 24 = 0.33g
  • Amount needed for 10 row edging -> 0.33 x 10 = 3.33g
  • Amount needed for cast off (3 rows worth) -> 0.33 x 3 = 0.99g

So here, if I’d worked my 10 repeats of the pattern and I had 15g left, I could work another repeat, which would use 8g, leaving me with 7g. I would need approximately 4.5g for the edging and cast-off (4.32g), so an extra repeat would be possible!

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CAUTION! If you’re working a pattern with an increasing stitch count, then each row will use slightly more yarn than the previous row, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much yarn each row is using as you go, and adjusting your plans as necessary.

I hope that’s helpful and means that you feel a bit more confident about making shawls (or other knits) bigger – I can’t recommend a set of jewellery scales enough! If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Top 5 Shawl Edging Tips

If you’ve ever been bothered by the way the edge of your shawl looks, then have a little read below: some of these tips might give you a solution!
1. Smooth Garter Stitch >>> Lots of shawls have a garter stitch border, which is great because it stops the edges of the knitting from rolling, but many people aren’t so keen on the bumpy edge that this produces. For a sleeker edge, slip the first stitch of each row purl-wise (as if you were going to purl it) with the yarn in front, then move the yarn to the back of your work (between the needles) to work the rest of the row. This creates an edge stitch that is smoother and looks more like stocking stitch than bumpy garter stitch (have a look at my project page here to see what this looks like).
2. Loosen Up! >>> If you find that the edge of your shawl is a bit tight (when you pull it lengthways it doesn’t have much stretch), then you could work a yarn over in-between the edge stitches on the right-side row, dropping it off the needle on the wrong-side row. For example, if the edge was three stitches wide, work the first stitch, make a yo, then work the other stitches as per the pattern. Then on the wrong side drop the yo off the needles and work the other edge stitches as usual. This helps to create a bit of extra yarn within the edge stitches, thereby making them stretchier.
3. Loosen Up Some More! >>> It’s really easy for i-cord edgings to become tight, since each stitch is only being worked every other row (it is slipped every alternate row). You can use the above method within the i-cord stitches to help loosen off the edge.
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4. Carrying That Yarn >>> If you’re knitting a shawl with large stripes (wider than 2-4 rows), then it’s a real pain to have to cut the yarn in-between stripes. Try carrying the non-working yarn up the edge . After working the first stitch of the row, loosely lay the non-working yarn over the top of the working yarn, then continue working the rest of the row. This twists the yarns together and means that the non-working yarn will be carried up the back of your shawl as you work those wide stripes. (See photo above)

5. Carry Some More >>> You can also carry yarn within an i-cord edge, using a similar method as above. Just remember to keep the stitches and yarn pretty loose so that when you come to block your shawl, the i-cord will stretch in a similar way to the ‘body’ of the shawl, and is not restricted by the ‘carried’ yarn pulling tight.

Comment below if you have any more tips for edgings – I’d love to know!