Vintage Knitting Needles and Antique Bottles

Vintage Knitting Needles and Antique Bottles

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tools and Techniques- Blocking

A Laundry Maid Ironing, Henry Robert Morland, imported from
Are you the type that enjoys ironing the perfect shirt, with starch and steam? Maybe you press your napkins and tablecloths, sheets and pillowcases with pride? Or... if you are of the mindset of the post 1950's generation... you overlook wrinkles and buy linen because it is supposed to look rumpled??? What is my point? Blocking.... it is like a magic wand. Trust me when I tell you... if you have not discovered this for yourself, please reconsider.

Blocking tools
I am loving the Google image search for this topic of "Tools and Techniques", take a gander at today's Search Results. Or, Google for yourself and see where it leads you. You will be amazed at how simple and transformative blocking can be!

My collection of blocking tools this week include items I picked up at Knit Wit in Portland, but chances are your LYS has similar items in stock.

Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers
I've used the Knit Pro blocking pins a couple times now and I love how they work. They grab the selvedge edge of a shawl or scarf with multiple pins. There are two sizes, 6 small and 12 large. They come in a compact yet sturdy case and cost $25.00.  I know, you probably think that might be an indulgence, but I have begun to look at my tools in a different light, I am choosing to invest some money in items that will aid me in achieving the most optimal project outcome.

Blocking mats
So, I have heard a number of comments on this tool. Some say you need more than one set of blocking mats, others suggest buying similar children's mats in a dollar store, or larger floor mats at Home Depot or Loew's. All are good suggestions. I choose to spend some money at Knit Wit, my home away from home LYS. The blocking mats can be configured to accommodate a triangular shawl, an oblong scarf, or sections of a sweater. They come in a plastic tote that neatly fits onto the bookshelf in my craft room. Retail price $ 25.00

Blocking wires and T pins.
I have had my blocking wires for quite awhile, I got them at Windsor Button before it closed. (Please, a moment of silence). They are stored in a sturdy cardboard cylinder and come in two diameters, the thinner wires bend to sloping curves while the thicker diameter is less pliable. Along with the blocking wires, I got a yard stick and T pins. I find the process of picking up edge stitches from a damp FO to be hypnotizing, so I don't mind the time it takes to apply the wires for blocking. It allows me to use fewer pins and gives a firm edge to the knitted item. I find when I don't use the wires, I end up with scalloped edges and that isn't always my preference. The set of blocking wires, pins and yard stick retail for $19.99 at Knit Picks. (Link here).

Sock blockers from Knit Picks
I do not knit socks, but there are blockers for socks too. In soaking and blocking a pair of socks, the stitches line up and any small tension issues will smooth out. Blockers are available from many sources. These are from Knit Picks, come in three sizes and retail for $13.99.

Blocking wires doing the trick to open up sticthes of mohair aand art yarn.
Steps for blocking your knitting
  1. Fill a large basin with warm water.
  2. Add a capful of wool wash, such as Soak or Eucalan.
  3. Push the knitting into the water, squeezing out the air bubbles.
  4. Leave garment to soak for twenty to thirty minutes.
  5. Pour water out of basin or drain sink.
  6. Using a towel, lay the knitting out, roll towel up and squeeze excess water out. 
  7. Use a dry towel, spread it out over blocking mats.
  8. Place knitting on towel. Press and smooth but do not stretch the garment.
  9. Using the schematic from your pattern, lay the knitting out to match the measurements.
  10. Anchor the knitting with blocking pins.
  11. If you are using blocking wires, use the tip of the wire to pick up stitches on the selvedge edge.
  12. Spread the knitting and wires and use T pins to anchor.
  13. Leave your knitting to dry, a fan can speed up this process.
Some links for tips on blocking your knitting:
Craftsy blog: Blocking, a Knitting Tutorial
Purl Bee: Blocking
Can you share a tip or trick on blocking?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Making Monday: Prisma Loop

Classic Elite Yarns, Seedling
I often think of you, that collective "you", my knitting friends, as I work on my projects. I knit and I wish I could reach out and share how the project and yarn are working. So, instead, I will try to enable you with today's post.

Garter stitch galore

Prisma and denim.
Blocked and ready
Pattern: Prisma Loop by Cloud House Studios
Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns, four skeins of Seedling, knit on size 7 needles

When I was visiting Knit Wit for tools, I spied this great variegated cotton and thought it would make a nice gift. I chose this particular yarn and project because I thought it would be perfect with jeans and a white tee. Seedling is an aran weight cotton, it has a bit of crimp that lends the slightest texture to the project. I enjoyed knitting with this cotton, as it threaded through my fingers I found it had a soft almost silky feel when compared to the dishcloth cotton I usually knit with.
The Prisma Loop pattern is free on Ravelry and requires you to have skills to knit garter stitch, do a three needle bind off and pick up edge stitches. The pattern gives you directions for edging options, I chose to do the garter edge, but picot stitch is explained if you like that detail. If I hear you sighing with the thought that this is too challenging... I want you to reconsider. This is within reach; when I get stuck I find a YouTube video and watch as I do the steps, pausing to re-play if I need to. I do enjoy making a pattern that teaches me a trick I don't know. Doing a three needle bind off is a cool technique to learn,  and useful for joining edges, don't be afraid.
The knitting was easy, 46" of garter, alternating colors every two rows. In using this technique, it reduces the pooling effect. Modifications to pattern include, using a larger needle when picking up edge stitches, the bind off was not a super stretchy, it gave a lettuce leaf effect to the edge. I used the traditional bind off.
I am not averse to using a pattern numerous times and I will make this again. Easy, mindless and cool techniques applied in the finishing. What are you working on today?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Works in Progress

Pattern: Clouds by The Knit Cafe Toronto
Yarn: S. Charles Collezione Ritratto, Grignasco Kid Seta on size 8 needle
This pay-for pattern is another from the Knit Cafe of Toronto. I love how lightweight it is and the colors make me happy. I do love midnight blue and the bright blue, the knitting actually goes pretty quickly, given that it is stockinette stitch. I do believe this is a pattern I will make again. Easy and so elegant.

Pattern: Navarra by Berroco Design Team
Yarn: Cascade Yarns ECO+ size 11 needles
Navarra is a free pattern for a very long scarf/wrap. The seed stitch slows me down a little but it is a pattern that is fool proof to work on when in conversations with family or watching an engaging movie. i am at the half way point now, my goal is to finish it before August arrives.

Pattern: Daybreak by Stephen West
Yarn: Toil and Trouble Classic Yarn in colors Lady Sybill and Smoke Signals on size 4 needle
I have made a Daybreak before but this time around, I am being more of a detail stickler, my left leaning increases actually lean left! ha! The Toil and Trouble yarn from Circle of Stitches is glorious in color and so soft. I am in the second section of the pattern where the skeins alternate and create striping. Daybreak is a $6.00 pattern.

Pattern: Prisma Loop by Cloud House Studio
Yarn: Classic Elite Yarn Seedling on size 7 needle
This cowl is to be a gift, it is an easy knit and the garter stitch really pops in this yarn. I have about 12 inches to go before I join the loop and then pick up stitches for a solid edging. Is you haven't tried Seedling, I urge you to search it out. I picked it up in Knit Wit and there is still some in stock. It would make for a nice substitute for wool if you are knitting for someone who finds wool itchy. Prisma Loop is a free pattern.

Tools and Techniques Tuesday- Make your own tool kit

Knit Wit Yarn Shop, 247A Congress Street, Portland ME
A few weeks back, I dropped into Knit Wit in search of tools to share with you. Susan has an extensive collection of needles, notions, magazines and..... yarn. The other thing I love about Knit Wit is the array of samples knit in yarn that is displayed nearby. I always feel so inspired, it is dangerous, so tricky to resist the temptations. I seriously urge you to trek into Portland and visit this small but magical shop. Anywhoo, back to the topic of today's post, tools.

Knit Wit Notions
CHIBI needles and case, compact, easy to spot in the project  bag and so cool. This is an inexpensive way to keep the tool you need to weave in ends as you knit. This reroutes you past hours of weaving in when you feel your project should Just Be Finished! Grab this handy tool when you spot one in your LYS.

Skacel Mini Scissors, these were just too cute to pass up, sharp, compact and in a plastic case.

Tape measure, these things disappear like I don't know what. They are so valuable to have handy, and should be replaced periodically. I saw a post on Facebook yesterday that documented how the tape may be inaccurately printed or stretched from frequent use, so pick one up the next time you visit your LYS.

Clover Stitch markers, deluxe! These are cool, they are a bit larger than typical stitch markers and have a clip for a PostIt note with specific directions to follow at that point in your knitting. The kit comes with perforated paper notes.

Clover minis, these plastic stitch markers fit various needles and come in three colors. Handy!

Fix a Stitch, sturdy crochet hooks in three sizes will come into use to fix dropped stitches, weave in ends or create the crochet chain for provisional cast on. There is a tip sheet included that describes methods to repair knitting mistakes.

Knit Kit
Last week I reviewed the Knit Kit. It is a compact collection of handy tools to keep nearby when you are working on a project. For some, the price tag of $25.00 might be prohibitive. Here is an easy solution. Make your own!

  1. Collect your knitting tools- round them up, lay them out, and set upon creating a tool kit for your project bags. 
  2. Locate some tins or small containers, or... go buy some Altoids!
  3. Cool tools to include in your kit: measuring tape, scissors, yarn cutter, darning needle, stitch markers, crochet hook, row counter, stitch holder, highlighter tape. (I discovered I had so many tools but none were handy when I needed them). Safety pins are another item I usually have handy, good for marking wrap and turn stitches.
  4. You might want to add a small pad of PostIts and a golf pencil. Another good item to keep handy is a compact dental floss, lifelines are the saving grace when working on large or complicated projects.  
Search your house for a tin or small container
Now, onto collecting tins or containers and assembling the collection of knit notions and tools in my craft room. I must admit, the collecting of all of these things happened over the course of a few days, I have such an unorganized collection of things in the craft room and so I did it in small doses. I was surprised by the number of things I had and how infrequently they get used because they are tucked away. Now that I plan to make up tool kits for my project bags, perhaps my efficiency will increase? One can hope....

Darning needles
Measuring tools
Scissors and yarn cutter
Stitch markers
Crochet hooks, stitch holders, point protectors, counters
Completed home made tool kits
So, you decide, will you opt for the compact and handy Knit Kit? Or, will you search your abode for the many tools you have on hand and make some little tool kits for yourself? I may continue to make these and give them out to a friend or new knitting acquaintance, to promote more knitting!! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Next week, blocking tools.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Making Monday, What to Do When You Didn't Buy Enough Yarn

On this Making Monday post, I want to share a strategy for finding skeins when you have underestimated the amount needed for a project, or as a way to catch great deals on yarns.  I find it to be an effective way to buy yarns that might be discontinued or out of stock. It is often surprising to me how inexpensive the skeins can be, in this case the retail price is 18.00; I got a number of skeins at 5.00 each.
Clouds from Knit Cafe Toronto
The Clouds pattern is one I found on the Knit Cafe website, a yarn shop in Toronto. I hope one day I will get to visit that interesting city with multiple LYS. I often lurk on the Knit Cafe pattern page because the esthetic of design is one that resonates with me.  Clouds is one of my "mindless knits" projects that I work on when watching TV or hanging out with family. It is a very simple pattern and will become a much loved scarf this fall and winter. The design is a large square, that when folded, creates an interesting overlay of color and stripes.

Layout of Clouds stripe design

Clouds, knit with Ritratto and Kid Seta
Pattern: Clouds, Knit Cafe Toronto
Yarn: S. Charles Collezione Rittrato and Grignasco Kid Seta on size 8 needles
Rittrato  is a yarn that I used to visit at Windsor Button. Visit, because it cost 18.00 a skein and at that time, I was a much more cost conscious consumer. Now, I tend not to consider price as much as the swoon factor of the yarn. I loved the flow of jewel tone colors and shine. When I found it on sale at WEBS, 3.99 a ball I bought this colorway with the mohair... I had no pattern in mind. If I had thought harder, I would have picked up more than two balls, but I didn't. (Did you know I am impulsive and loathe to read all details and directions? Well, I am). I selected the Clouds pattern, cast on and loved how it looked. Then, the project bag got buried in the pile of "I'll Work On That Later". When I pulled it out to tackle this shawl, I realized I was not going to have enough yarn. This is the important message for today...

Yarn Tab for Rittrato
De-Stash page on Ravelry Yarn tab........ I should start by confessing that this is an Alice in Wonderland scale rabbit hole. You have been warned.
I started my search for more yarn at WEBS since that was where I originally got the Rittrato. No go, out of I then went to the Yarn tab on Ravelry and typed in Rittrato. It will take you to the page that shows the yarn in the many colorways and at the bottom is a row of yarn photos of De-Stash items.
Bottom of page shows items for sale
This De-Stash section of the Yarn page shows that the five balls of red are priced at 5.00 each!!! (Ruh-roh, disregard, look away, disregard, look away). In my experience of shopping in this way, I have met very nice people and have had only good results. I do shop like this and have probably accumulated a dozen skeins, none of which disappointed me when they arrived. I do want to share that you might want to isolate the incoming skeins in your freezer if you are fearful of moths, but I have not had any issues with wool pests.

Note Send a Message link in the upper right.
To pursue this yarn de-stash transaction, you click on the red yarn icon. It takes you to a Stash page. Typically, the seller will give you details such as, "wound into a cake or ball", "still in the skein," or "label missing but never used". Most times, the price and shipping costs are listed in the comments box, but if you see no price, click on the "Send a Message" button in the upper right.  When I send a message to the seller, I usually ask if the yarn is still available and give my zipcode so they can figure out a shipping price. I use PayPal to send money, but some sellers will entertain a swap.

Bought on Ravelry De-Stash
Bought on Ravelry De-Stash
Bought on Ravelry De-Stash
Progress so far, about 50" wide at the base
This knit draws so much attention, I have been traveling by bus from Boston to Portland each week, this is my bus project... it is probably the color, but when the admirer touches the mohair and feels how lightweight it is, they become further entranced. I was in a row of four people knitting last week, totally by chance, none of the knitters knew each other and our conversation seemed to be of interest to those nearby. Please share in the comments if you have ever tried the Ravelry De-Stash method of shopping, I would love to hear your experience.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tools and Techniques- The Knit Kit

The Knit Kit
I have seen the Knit Kit in yarn shops before. I never considered buying one, but today, I want to give you reasons to add this tool to your project bag. Imagine having the tools that you will need right at your fingertips, no getting up, heading to your craft room and rooting around for the tool you need? (FYI, rooting around in craft room often leads to the casting on of a new project....).

Organized storage
The Knit Kit, also known as the Swiss Army knife for knitters. It comes in a variety of colors and can be found in your local yarn shop.  The kit is TSA approved, is Made in the USA, and the company offers a one year guarantee for defects (save your sales receipt, return to place of purchase). The kit includes 8 tools in its compact case.

Eight tools in a compact case.
Knit Kit tools include: a needle gauge (twenty sizes from US 000 to 15), tape measure, yarn cutter, two digit stitch counter, darning needle, stitch markers(4 large, 4 small), two point protectors, folding scissors, crochet hook (two sided/two sizes).  Retail price: $25.00.

The Knit Kit
I have been using my Knit Kit for two weeks now. It was handy as I worked on my test knit sweater, the tape measure, scissors, darning needle and crochet hooks were often put to use. I like the compact case, it doesn't take up much space in my project bag and the bright color makes it easy to find.

I got my Knit Kit at The Knit Wit Yarn shop in Portland and I know they have plenty in stock. This would also make for a nice gift for a knitter or someone would crochets. Let me know if you have one and love it!

Next week, I plan to share a home made tool kit for your project bag. Happy Knitting!