How Creative Do You Feel About Your Knitting?

Good morning! Episode 11 of my Knits & Cake For Breakfast series is now available on my YouTube channel, and will be uploaded there every Thursday morning.

Join me as I share what knitting designs I’ve been working on this week and show you what kind of cake I’m eating for my breakfast – it’s nearly the weekend, right?

In this episode I chat about how creative you feel as a knitter and ways to get more creative … beginning with using pops of colour in your projects (hint: check out this blog post here). Plus, what is a porridgie?!?! And some upcoming sweater design news!

The TED talks I mention are “A Deeper Understanding of Creativity” by Daniel Cape and “Creativity is a Craft and it Belongs to Everyone” by Gabriela Pereira. Click the links to watch them on YouTube.

This is a replay of my IGTV Live video from Thursday 13th August. Find a transcript for this episode by following the link here: http://www.linktr.ee/harveyknits

Click below to find more of my content over on Instagram …

Working Out How Much Leftover Yarn You Have

I reckon that I have so many oddments and scraps of wool leftover from knitting projects, that I could knit a whole sweater with them! Although before I start, and so that I don’t run out, I’d like to make sure that I have enough. Here’s a handy guide to help you work out how much leftover yarn you have, so you can make the most of it in your next scrappy project.

I’ve collected all these yellow leftovers for my scrappy sweater pattern – if you’d like to be the first to know when it’s ready, sign up to my mailing list by clicking the button below.

Firstly, you need to find out how many metres of your yarn there is in 100g (I’m going to work this out in metric measurements as it’s easier!). A good place to find this would be the ball band. If you don’t have the ball band then you could look it up on the yarn companies website, or do an online search. If you are able to use Ravelry without it causing health issues, then you could also look there.

Write this amount down. If your yarn comes in 50g balls then you’ll need to multiply this amount by 2 to find out the meterage for 100g, likewise if your yarn comes in 25g balls, you’ll need to multiply by 4 to calculate the meterage for 100 grams-worth.

A close up photo of the ball band on a ball of orange yarn.

For example, the band on the partial ball above is from a 25g ball of Jamieson & Smith’s 2 Ply Jumper Weight yarn, which has 115 m per ball:

25g = 115m

4 x 115m = 460m

Therefore 100g = 460m


Secondly, work out how many metres of yarn are in 1g by dividing the meterage of 100g (which in my example is 460m) by 100:

460m divided by 100 = 4.6m

Therefore 1g = 4.6m


Lastly, weigh how much yarn you have left (digital jewellery scales are ideal for this as they are very precise).

A ball of orange yarn sits on top of a set of digital weighing scales. The scales read 14.32g.

In my photographed example, I have 14.32g left and if I multiply that amount by 4.6m then I’ll know how many metres of yarn I have left from this ball:

14.32 x 4.6 = 65.87m

Therefore I have approximately 65m of this orange Jamieson & Smith’s yarn left and now I can start working out which knitting patterns I could use it in.


Now you know how much yarn you’ve got, next week’s blog post will have some fantastic ideas about what you could knit with your oddments and scraps! By following my blog (clicking on “follow” in the right hand corner), you’ll know exactly when my posts go live.

Seven Helpful Tips to Stay Motivated and On Track With Your Knitting

More than once, I’ve pulled an all-nighter to get a knitting project finished!

I love a deadline. I have to admit that sometimes it’s the only way I get things finished! What I don’t like is having to stay up half the night knitting, when I’ve vastly underestimated how long a project is going to take me – you’d think I would’ve learnt by now.

You might not often have a deadline for your knitting, but if you like to gift-knit, or wear a finished garment to a knitting event, or for me, finishing a design sample for a magazine, then you might have experienced that feeling of knitting-deadline-dread. This might lead you to procrastiknit -perhaps casting on a new project to avoid working on the deadline one?

Whatever your reason for needing some knitting motivation, my top seven tips will help you to stay focused, especially if you have a dauntingly big project to work on or a deadline to meet.

A lot of the ideas that I share with you below, require you to break down a larger task (the finished knitted item) into smaller chunks. If you complete one of these chunks every day or every other day, then you can work out how long the whole task will take to complete. Working backwards from the ‘deadline’ can be a good way to calculate out how many chunks you need to complete each day to finish the whole project, or how many days it might take to have a finished knitting project in your hands.

  • Repeats | Break your pattern down into chunks depending on the number of pattern repeats you need to work in order to have it finished. If you’re knitting sleeves, you could break down the knitting into a certain number of increases or decreases per chunk.
  • Counting Rows or Length | Break the pattern into chunks based on how many rows or centimetres/inches you need to work in order to be finished. This works particularly well with sleeves or bodies of garments, or big shawls.
  • Time | Time yourself knitting a few rows, or a pattern repeat. How many rows or repeats do you need to work to finish the project? From this number, you can work out roughly how long the whole project will take to finish, and how long you’ll need to spend knitting each day in order to complete your project.
  • Use Progress Markers | Use lockable stitch markers, to mark your progress by placing them in your knitting each time you start knitting a new chunk and/or when you finish. You could also use makers as a reward for your progress, perhaps you get to add a marker for every 5 cm of progress? Choosing which marker is next, or placing the markets into a pleasing pattern or order, could be part of the fun and motivation!
  • Amount Of Yarn | Another way to break your project into chunks is to weigh your yarn and knit a certain number of grams each day. If you’re knitting with mini-skeins or leftover yarn, you might decide that knitting-up half a mini-skein each day will help you stay on target for your deadline.
A notebook lies open on top of an armchair. On the page is a geometric shape that represents a knitted shawl. Most of the shape is coloured-in.
  • Make A Diagram | Draw a picture of your finished item (use the pattern’s schematic to help you), split it up into manageable chunks, and colour-in or tick off each section when you’ve finished it. Alternatively just colour-in the pattern’s schematic diagram!
  • Make A List | If drawing or colouring isn’t your thing, then make a list of each chunk and tick it off when it’s completed. You might also like to date the section so you can track your progress, which I find particularly motivating.

Remember to leave yourself time for any finishing, blocking/washing and drying – it’s very easy to underestimate how long this will take!

The diagram photographed above features an upcoming shawl design for a knitting magazine – if you’d like to be the first to know when it’s published and see some sneaky peek pics, then sign-up to my mailing list. Click the button below!

The Right Knitting Tools For The Job

I agreed to knit a shawl for a knitting magazine even though I was secretly scared of the yarn.

Do you have much experience knitting with lace-weight yarn? 

I’ve used it a few times in shawl designs but it’s tended to be the slightly thicker type of lace-weight or ‘sticky’ mohair. So when the editor of The Knitter magazine got in touch to ask me if I’d like to design a shawl with some gorgeous merino silk lace-weight (800m per 100g), of course I said “yes please”, but secretly I was a bit nervous about knitting with such fine yarn.

This prompted me to have a think about which needles I would use for the project. Recently when I’ve knitted lace, I’ve enjoyed using a 4.5mm Hiya Hiya Sharp fixed circular needle: as well as having quite sharp tips, the metal is smooth, allowing the stitches to slide easily off the needles.

I decided to leap into buying a set of the same needles but the interchangeable version … and I’m so glad that I did! They are lovely and sharp, but not too sharp, just enough to tackle the fine lace stitches. Actually, I think sometimes needles that are too sharp can split the yarn … so it’s definitely a case of choosing the right needles for the job, whether that’s in terms of the sharpness of the needles, or the materials that they’re made from.

Despite having the ‘right’ tools for the job, I did panicked a bit when I started knitting the sample and realised I was dropping stitches every so often. Argh! I thought maybe it was my lack of concentration due to lockdown but I realised that it was just that I wasn’t used to knitting with such fine yarn or with my new needles, so I persevered.

Now I’m well into the project, and into the rhythm of it, it’s flying along and I’m loving working on the design. Plus there’s no more dropped stitches! Sometimes you need to give new things a chance and knitting lace-weight yarn with sharp slippy needles has definitely been a learning experience for me.

A light a floaty piece of knitting is suspended above the ground, creating a dappled shadow.

The final shawl is going to be a beautifully floaty and light piece of knitwear even though it’s made of nearly a kilometre and a half of yarn! While I can’t show you a photo of the actual shawl, I’ve shared a couple of photos above of one of my initial swatches, which will give you a feel. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some photos of the real thing soon.

If you’d like to be the first to know when the pattern is published in The Knitter, and see some exclusive photos, sign-up to my mailing list by clicking the button below.

Top 10 Patterns: Number 1, Ama Sweater

I almost didn’t publish my Ama Sweater pattern, which seems ironic as it’s my best selling pattern and number 1 on my Top 10 Ten Countdown! The pattern is built on the back of a moment of crashing self-doubt.

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I had what I thought was a great idea and I’d worked hard on all the little details: getting the raglan increases to sit nicely with the ‘string-of-pearls’ stitch; making sure the over-sized raglan shape didn’t mean huge sleeves for the upper sizes; and working out how to make the least fussy neckline possible!

Then, bam! I was hit with a horrible wave of self-doubt where I questioned everything about the pattern and couldn’t see a way forward. I put the design on hold for months and told myself that I’d just have to forget about it.

However, there was a little niggle in the back of my mind telling me to ‘just do one little thing at a time’, so that’s what I did. I strapped numerous pillow cases around my tailors’ dummy’s chest to help me check the measurements for all the sizes and I started to learn how to use excel for some of the maths. I had some very welcome support and friendly nudges from my knitting friends and yarny colleagues … and do you know what? It worked. The pattern was in good shape and when I had it test knitted, I received the most fantastic feedback.

My Ama Sweater pattern has gone on to be, not only be my best selling pattern, but also my most knitted pattern: at the time of writing there are 74 projects on Ravelry and 354 uses of the hashtag #amasweater on Instagram.

So in light of all that, I’m pleased to let you know that I’m planning to release a flurry of new garment patterns over the coming autumn and winter!

Now would be a perfect time to sign-up to my mailing list. Not only will you be able to buy all of my Top 10 Patterns with 15% off, but you’ll also be the first to know when new patterns are released and the first to find out about preview knitting opportunities. Plus it’s the only way to receive exclusive discounts on all my new designs. Click here if you’d like to sign up

There’s also a video tutorial for working Ama’s decorative ‘string of pearls’ stitch, which you can find on my Tutorials page or by clicking here.

The Ama Sweater pattern is available to purchase by clicking here for my Ravelry Store or clicking here for my new Payhip Shop.

 

Top 10 Patterns: Number 2, Ama Shawl

As both of my Ama Shawl samples have met with disaster, it seems a bit odd that it’s number 2 in my Top 10 Countdown and that I find myself needing to knit another one. My original pink/grey sample (pictured) has been nibbled by (now dealt with) moths and my blue/grey sample has fallen foul of being put away damp on top of something red … you can guess how that turned out!

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So it’s just as well that I finally got round to creating a tutorial for the Ama Shawl’s i-cord tab cast-on, which you can find on my blog or by clicking here. Ama is a top-down shawl that starts as a semi-circle shape with some simple short rows added to create a wider, more wearable style of shawl. Like my Ama Sweater pattern, it features the ‘string of pearls” stitch and is a great option for variegated yarns (this sample was knitted in yarn from The Wool Kitchen).

The Ama Shawl pattern is available to purchase by clicking here for my Ravelry Store or clicking here for my new Payhip Shop.

Remember … mailing list subscribers get an exclusive 15% off all the top ten patterns until 31st July! Click here if you’d like to sign up

Tutorial: How To Knit An I-Cord Tab Cast-On

MaddieHarvey_Ama_HeldOutAn i-cord tab cast-on is used in lots of top-down shawls with an i-cord edge, just like my Ama Shawl pictured left. It works in the same way as a garter tab cast-on but the ‘tab’ that you pick up stitches along is an i-cord rather than a strip of garter stitch.

If you’d like to know more about garter tabs, click here to have a read of my “Smarter Garter Tabs” blog post.

You could use this method with any of my top-down shawls, where you wanted to replace the garter stitch edge with an i-cord: just be sure to pick up the correct number of stitches along the i-cord in accordance with your pattern instructions.

 

Firstly, cast on three stitches. Knit the three stitches and slip them back to the left-hand needle. Repeat this twice more (or however many times according to your pattern).

 

Next, knit the three stitches once more, but this time don’t slip them back to the left-hand needle. Instead turn your work 90 degrees clockwise. You’ll be picking up stitches along the line of V stitches as shown in the right hand picture below.

 

Now pick up and knit, 3 stitches along the side of the i-cord (left hand picture below). You now have 6 stitches on the right hand needle. If you’d like further details on how to do this, then click here to read my blog post about picking-up stitches along an i-cord.

 

Lastly, turn the work 90 degrees clockwise again and pick-up and knit 3 sts along the cast-on edge of the i-cord (right hand picture above). This can be a little bit fiddly but try to make them as evenly spaced as possible, inserting your needle under two strands of yarn before pulling through a loop. You should now have 9 stitches. Work the wrong-side row according to your pattern instructions.

I hope you’ve found that helpful? For more knitting tips straight to your inbox, you can sign up to my mailing list to receive my twice-monthly “Creative Notes” and news of exclusive offers, by clicking here.

Click here to head to the pattern page of my website, to find out more about my Ama Shawl pattern.

Top 10 Patterns: Number 3, Soft-Hearted Cowl

Now we’ve reached the top three of my Top 10 Patterns, and I’m delighted that the Soft-Hearted Cowl is number three, as it was only released in March of this year as part of Gamer Crafting’s Operation: Social Justice campaign. I can’t wait for the weather to get cooler again so that I can wear the sample!

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Another super-versatile 4 ply/fingering-weight pattern with three different size options, I’ve included the hand-drawn schematics below so you can see. Size 1 is a single-thickness cowl knitted with 2 x 50g of two contrasting colours. Size 2 is also a single-thickness cowl but is knitted with 2 x 100g of yarn, which is also the amount of yarn needed to knit the size 3 version, which is turned sideways so as to create a double-thickness cowl for a really cosy accessory.

Whichever version you make, each one starts with an i-cord, along which stitches are picked-up and knitted, so today’s blog post is a tutorial to help with that. You can have a read by clicking here.

The Soft-Hearted Cowl pattern is available to purchase by clicking here for my Ravelry Store or clicking here for my new Payhip Shop.

Remember … mailing list subscribers get an exclusive 15% off all the top ten patterns until 31st July! Click here if you’d like to sign up

Top 10 Patterns: Number 4, Folden Shawl

First published in 2017, this pattern has had a wee resurgence recently thanks to Jess of Ginger’s Hand Dyed, who knitted-up her own ‘free style’ version as part of featuring me as Summer Designer at Ginger Twist Studio. You can find Jess’s version by searching the #foldenshawl hashtag on social media.

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Folden is a great pattern for people who are new to shawl knitting and it’s also a lovely relaxing knit for those who are a bit more experienced. Plus it’s a fantastic design for using up leftover 4ply/fingering-weight yarn: you could knit one in 10 x 10g, 5 x 20g or 2 x 50g and you could stripe different yarns or knit your Folden in blocks of colours. There are lots of possibilities for being creative with this pattern!

Plus, Folden has tassels, which are great fun to make and a good way to use up leftover yarn. I have a video tutorial on my YouTube channel to show you how to make the tassels and you can also find it on the Tutorials page of my website by clicking here.

The Folden Shawl pattern is available to purchase by clicking here for my Ravelry Store or clicking here for my new Payhip Shop.

Remember … mailing list subscribers get an exclusive 15% off all the top ten patterns until 31st July! Click here if you’d like to sign up

Top 10 Patterns: Number 5, Demelza Edition Shawl

Kicking off the top 5 of my Top 10 Pattern Countdown, is Demelza – a super versatile pattern that was originally published in Knit Now Magazine in 2017 and was reworked as part of Countess Ablaze’s #titsoutcollective in the summer of 2018. This pattern is perfect for connecting with your inner Demelza Poldark, and striding along a wind-swept Cornish clifftop!

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So, I said Demelza was a versatile shawl … there are three different sizes to knit, in two different yarn weights and with two different colour options. The two colour version pictured is the size large 4ply/fingering-weight shawl, which uses 2 x 100g of yarn from Old Maiden Aunt.

There’s also a small-sized 4ply/fingering-weight version too, which is great for those single skeins lurking in your stash, especially solid and slightly variegated colourways.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a double-knit version too. It measures up in-between the two 4ply/fingering-weight shawls, and uses 250g of double-knit yarn (something around 120m per 50g).

There’s also the possibility of making the shawl bigger if you have more yarn by extending the cabled section and the garter stitch edging. Phew! That’s a lot of options!

Demelza a a traditional top down triangular shawl so I’ve got some top tips lined up for you about the garter-tab cast on, as I know it can be fiddly for some people. You can find that by clicking here.

The Demelza Edition Shawl pattern is available to purchase by clicking here for my Ravelry Store or clicking here for my new Payhip Shop.

Remember … mailing list subscribers get an exclusive 15% off all the top ten patterns until 31st July! Click here if you’d like to sign up