Monday, August 21, 2017

August Reboot Series - Tips for Knitting gloves

 
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-sylvia-dering-infinity-scarf-and-gloves

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates. 


Gloves are a relatively simple and quick project. A pair of gloves can often be knit faster than a pair of socks. They are extremely portable and easy to try on as the knitting progresses. Gloves offer the potential for all sorts of creative experimentation on a mini canvas.

As with many other skills, what initially seems complex is not in reality difficult. Once the process is broken down into a series of steps, each one progresses logically.

Working in wool initially is recommended. It’s warm to wear and can be blocked to smooth out any uneven stitches. Cottons, linens and rayon’s are all workable once the knitter has built some basic glove skills. These fibres are cooler and less elastic, therefore accurate fit becomes more important. The smaller knitting gauges of fine yarns offer more potential for patterning and often allow for better fit. Take note, sock yarns are commonly referred to as fingering weight indicating their common use in creating gloves. Very chunky yarns become problematic when working fingers as there are so few stitches required for each finger. Gloves can be made in any nearly any yarn thin enough to permit four stitches around the little finger; finer yarns do create a more elegant glove.
 
Needles for gloves should be made out of stickier materials like wood or bamboo. The recommended needles to use for making gloves are the five inch length made by Brittany in birch or Knitter's Pride wooden needles. The latter have the advantage of being produced in different colours, which makes the various sizes less likely to be confused by the knitter. Both types are light weight and short enough not to be cumbersome.
There are many different ways of casting on for gloves. Choose a method that creates a stretchy flexible edge. Long tail cast on works for most knitters. When using this cast on, try spacing each stitch on your needle about a needle width apart to keep the edge flexible.  When experimenting with alternative cast on techniques, remember that with circular knitting it is the opposite side of the work that faces out.

It is also possible to begin the cast on without creating a slip knot by using an e wrap twist a
s the starting stitch. I like to do this as it ensures a very straight edge at the wrist.

There are several ways of joining work in the round. The first is to cast on the required number of stitches, arrange in a circle and keep knitting. Two other methods have the knitter cast on one extra stitch. The next step is to either knit the last and the first stitch together or pass the last stitch over the first to join the round securely. My favourite is to knit two stitches together and pull snugly while making the next stitch.


I like to recommend that you avoid inflexible or heavy stitch holders during construction; it makes it more difficult to assess fit when trying on a partially completed glove. Stitches are less likely to pull or elongate using waste yarn as a holder. Choose a smooth yarn of the same or of a lighter weight to use. I use several different colours of markers to keep track of the start of round, the thumb gusset and any stitch pattern sections.

As it is not always possible to measure the recipient, glove pattern sources like Ann Budd’s book “The Knitters Handy Book of Patterns” are recommended. This book includes five gauges and seven sizes for knitters to work from.


Gloves can often be knit with the yarn leftover from other projects as they require approximately, 130 yards (120 m) to 250 yards (230 m) of yarn for gauges from 5 stitches to 9 stitches per inch, for a woman's medium size. The smaller the number of stitches per inch, the lower the number of yards or meters required.

Gloves are easy to customize while knitting, if the knitter is the intended wearer, because they can be tried on at every stage of construction.

To create a personalized pattern, place the hand down flat on a piece of paper and draw around all fingers and the thumb. Notice the little finger starts lower down on the hand than the other fingers. The thumb starts to protrude immediately above the wrist. Note each finger is generally a different length. Add measurements to the drawing of the hand. Measure each finger and the thumb around the base and record their lengths as well. Document the wrist measurement. Measure the palm straight across above the thumb, just below the knuckles to determine sizing when using patterns. Hand sizes and shapes vary much more between individuals than is generally thought. Finger length ratios in particular, vary widely among individuals and the variations are not all consistent with all fingers being longer or shorter.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-laura-evesham-beret-scarf-and-fingerless-mittens

 

Friday, August 18, 2017

August Reboot Series - More on Barbie

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some  will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.  (As predicted I sent out a much higher number than usual of interview invitations but I don't yet have a new one to post.) 

http://cheezburger.com/7020119552


One of the most popular posts on my blog is about the Barbie factor and how it impacts body image for many women. I found the above image fascinating, now I'm thinking about how makeup plays into the negativity. In some ways I've become more relaxed about being seen without makeup by friends as I've gotten older, however I don't leave home without at least applying some, even if it's a short trip to run errands. 

How about you? Do you go out in public without your face done?  



The Huffington Post has a very interesting article on what is being called a normal Barbie. You can read the article here

Nickolay Lamm has now created a new option. It's a doll with realistic proportions scaled exactly to the average 19-year-old American woman's measurements. In the photo above the doll is posed next to Barbie. Elle magazine has an article here about the fundraising Lamm did for his project.

There is a chart comparing Barbie proportions to real women on my blog here


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August Reboot Series - Stripes, Breaking Fashion Rules

Stripes
This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.


I'm always suspicious of simplistic fashion rules. You know the kind I mean, the ones that are supposed to apply to everyone equally. I think they are like using stereotypes to describe people, there might be a tiny kernel of truth that applies in some cases but the real problem is that they limit our thinking and stop us from considering variations. 

Almost everyone says not to wear horizontal stripes or you will look wide, yet stripes are a fashion classic and they are one that knitters seem to be afraid of.

I would like to suggest that you challenge this fashion rule. Stripes are an easy to knit pattern that can add colour and freshness to your wardrobe. So how do you make them work? Take a look at the images above. I've kept it simple and only used black and white / red and white samples. Look at each example, first compare the width of the stripes. Do you see what happens as we go from wide to narrow stripes? That is what is known as the ladder effect. Narrow stripes encourage the eye of the viewer to climb up the body. Visually that works like a vertical line which makes the eye move in the same way. At the far right the patterns become so busy they come very close to reading more like a solid, especially when viewed from a distance.

Next, look at the garments in the center. Where does your eye go? Mine immediately drops to the wide band at the bottom. Does that give you any ideas about how single wide stripes should be placed on the body. Maybe at the shoulder it would be more flattering? Or, what about doing a folded knitted hem so that the pattern repeats evenly right to the edges on the garment?

I choose highly contrasting colours to demonstrate stripe effects. What if you did stripes of low contrast colours? How does that change the look? What if you varied the width of the stripes from narrow at the hip to wider at the shoulder? What if you used more than 2 colours? What if the contrast colour was low contrast at the hem and high contrast at the shoulder? Are you getting a sense of why I don't like a single simplistic rule?

A reader of the original post also pointed out "that stripes are cheerful. Cheerfulness compensates for (alleged) widening, in my book." I fully agree!

Do you have any other observations?

You get extra credit if you made note of how matching stripes across the body and sleeves ups the flattery quotient and that dropped shoulders lowers it by pulling the eye out and down to the armhole where the lines converge. More credit for anyone who saw the flattering diagonal lines created by the cowl neckline on the red and white garment on the far right.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August Reboot Series - Understanding Ease

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates. 

What is ease?  In simple terms ease is the difference between the finished measurement of a garment and the measurement of the body. A garment which is smaller than the body has negative ease. A garment which is larger than the body has positive ease. If a woven fabric garment is too tight it will restrict the wearers movement. Our knitted fabric has stretch, which allows garments to have a closer fit without restricting movement. In knitting we often base ease assessments on the bust or chest measurement only. Patterns then make assumptions about the other body measurements in relation to that single point of reference. Ease looks like this. But it is confusing to garment makers because this is also fit and styling mashed up with ease.

Image from http://quickneed.com/tutorials/all-about-fitting-wearing-and-design-ease/

Understanding ease is one of the most difficult concepts for garment knitters to truly understand. Knitters often show me gorgeous work and then tell me how very unhappy with the result. When I ask questions, their disappointment most often comes down to the gap between the garment that they imagined and the one they knit.

Often the gap has to do with the knitter's personal ease preference. This preference is a moving target, as we age, gain or loose weight and adapt to changing silhouettes in mainstream fashion, our preferences are constantly shifting. 




I sewed many of my own clothes for years. I also used the same patterns over and over. Once I had something that fit me well I would return to that pattern often. I would make it in a different colour. I would make a jacket with a matching skirt, then I would make the same jacket with pants. Then I would make it in a print fabric, or a tapestry or a knit. 

When I was machine knitting I used a knit radar for shaping. It's a charting device which allows you to draw your garment shape. You select settings by your stitches per inch and rows per inch, and let the Radar guide you through the shaping of your garment piece. By simply changing the gauge settings, you can knit this same garment over and over with a variety of yarns and stitch styles. I used to knit the same basic garment shape, change the neckline, shorten or lengthen sleeves and the hem, and no one ever noticed that I was knitting essentially the same sweater over and over.

Now I often do the same thing with my hand knitting. I layer new or different details on the same basic garment shape. In the LYS that I worked at we had only one customer that I was aware of who did this with a pattern. She had an old pattern, that fit perfectly, she only worked in one gauge but substituted many different yarns. She varied the length from garment to garment and substituted short sleeves for long on summer sweaters but that was about it....and no one noticed what she was doing.  

You can do this if you really want to understand the illusive concept of ease, as it is impacted by fabric weight and drape. In the photos above look at the sleeves. The jacket on the bottom right is made from a tapestry print, it is the stiffest fabric in the four jackets. Did you notice how those sleeves stand away from the body? Once you make the same pattern with different yarn types, your understanding of the concept starts to crystallize. When we move from pattern to pattern each time working with a different silhouette we learn these lessons more slowly.

Friday, August 11, 2017

August Reboot Series - The Barbie Factor

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.  (As predicted I sent out a much higher number than usual of interview invitations but I don't yet have a new one to post.) 




Several years ago I spoke at my guild about Knitters and body image. I want to share a little of that presentation because I know many knitters who, due to body image issues, won’t knit garments for themselves. 

Body image refers to a person's perception of their own physical appearance. It describes how one perceives one's appearance to be to others, which in many cases may be dramatically different from one's objective physical condition or how one is actually perceived by others. Many people are so overcome by body loathing that the other amazing dimensions of who they are simply fade away and they negate attributes like exceptional talent, stellar careers and strong loving relationships.

Did you grow up playing with Barbie dolls? I did, so I thought that that’s what grown up women are supposed to look like. Researchers generated a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions and they said that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her torso would be too narrow to contain her organs.

Jill Barad who was the president of Mattel until 2000 estimated that 99% of girls aged 3 to 10 years old own at least one Barbie doll.

Today, whether or not to give little girls Barbie dolls is often hotly debated by many mothers who believe that they foster poor body image. Take a look at the image below. The real woman is shown as 5’4”, 145 pounds, with measurements of 36" 30" 39". Barbie is depicted with an 1 inch smaller bust but maintaining the proportions of a real woman. She then becomes 6' with the measurements of 35",19", 33". Unfortunately we incorporate these images in our view of the world and then apply negative comparisons to ourselves.





Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August Reboot Series - Standard Stitch Chart Symbols?

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up. I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.

http://knitting.about.com/od/reviews/gr/chartmagic.htm
 
At a recent Knit Night we were talking about the many advantages of working from charts as opposed to text. You can read more about the why here. Someone in our group mentioned looking for charts with standard symbols. I'm not sure what standard symbols are. There are so many software packages out there for creating charts. Publishers do use one type for consistency within their publications but around the world there are many more.

If you google, knit charting software, you will see a large number of systems here. I can think of a few more that didn't even make the first page.

There are free systems as well, here is a link about one.

I use the right leaning forward oblique (/) for k2tog and the opposite direction left leaning oblique (\) for ssk. One of my peers thinks that is confusing to knitters so she uses two totally different symbols for clarity. The two are also very different from one another as opposed simply reversing direction of the same symbol. Another uses a graphic arts software unrelated to the knitting industry and created her own symbol data base.


Here is a chart from http://www.tettidesign.net/2010/10/cool-current-wristwarmers-pattern.html. This is a Ravelry designer from Estonia.




The thing that is most important for the knitter to know is, there is no truly standard system of charting symbols. Always check the legend for the specific chart you are working from to ensure accuracy.



I wrote this one back in October 2013. I don't have any new info to add but I still hear commentary on standardization as though it is an active ongoing process. To my knowledge the knitting industry is such a small market, progress is very slow. I have seen some software listed as multi-language but I've not seen actual numbers of languages available. Knitting is international but many of the tools we use are not. I'm also not a fan of rating a pattern poorly in public forums for using unfamiliar symbols. If a legend is provided I feel the pattern writer has met the requirement for the knitter to be able to interpret the pattern. Many more foreign language patterns are being translated as designers try to increase market share. I'd rather those patterns became available to more knitters than have them rejected on the basis of standardization.



Monday, August 7, 2017

August Reboot Series - The Camera Does Lie!

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.

One of the great things about my knitting career has been the amount I've gotten to learn about so many new things. Have you ever heard the saying "the camera never lies"? I used to believe that but now I know it isn't true.

The camera sees things differently than we do. Light conditions impact colour so much more than I was ever aware of before I needed photos that are true to the colour of a specific yarn. When I worked in my LYS we had a problem  pattern. I was told to let customers know when they tried to buy the yarn that it didn't come in that colour. The photo was incorrect with respect to the true colour, changing a beige yarn to pale green.


I've also discovered that detail shots have colour issues as well. When you move in close to get the photo the proximity of the camera changes the light. Sometimes we colour correct and other times we use a magnification of a full garment shot, crop and then sharpen it up. 

Once a friend was showing me wedding photos of what I thought were coloured blocked bridesmaid dresses. She mentioned that the colour difference was only visible in the photos. The dresses were made from velvet and chiffon that reflected light back to the camera differently.

Take a look at the photos below. I heard  Melisa Joan Hart mention on a talk show that the white mark on her forehead was not visible to anyone except the camera.







I've also noticed that designs like the ones below with small textured stitches look great in the real world. The patterns sell more copies when knitters see the garments but get less notice and fewer positive comments when viewed in photos. I have other patterns which I notice the photos sell more copies than the samples do.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-anne-meredith-cardigan

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-emily-brent-cardigan


I've heard similar commentary on the fashions at awards shows. The press people frequently comment on the difference between the photos and their real world observation of the clothing. It's never consistent as to which makes the garments and the attendees look better. 

My hands are not really this big, they are just closer to the lens in the first photo.


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-sylvia-dering-infinity-scarf-and-gloves


Humm.. how do I say this, I occasionally have a similar problem with another part of my body that protrudes forward. I discovered this effect when we were taking photos at Christmas. I was wearing a cocktail dress that fits snugly around the torso. The shots where I was at an angle to the camera looked normal but the straight on photo looked very disproportionate.

Friday, August 4, 2017

August Reboot Series - A Question for an Expert

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.  (As predicted I sent out a much higher number than usual of interview invitations but I don't yet have a new one to post.) 


The title of this post was in the subject line of an email to me. 

The note reads:

Hi Robin,
After about 70 years of knitting, I didn't realize I wouldn't know the answer to this question until I came upon it. If a pattern calls for size 4 mm needles and farther on asks you to use needles one size larger, are they asking you to use size 4.5 mm or size 5 mm?
 
My answer:

You need to look at the pattern source. Even then you may not match your needle with the designers plan. U.S. needles are all sized as whole numbers except for the 1 1/2, 2 1/2 and 10 1/2. (Of course this depends on what chart you look at and has changed since I wrote the original post.) If the pattern was written with U.S. sizes and converted to metric, one size up is 4.5. However not all the charts agree on an exact equivalent for each size. 
 
Currently, metric sized needles are being quoted more often for accuracy, so the designer could mean one size up on the metric chart. The same problems exist with the old UK/Canadian system. I still have many of those needles as they belonged to my Mother and Grandmothers. Japanese needles have another sizing system which doesn't align with any of these systems. The simple answer is that only the original designer or sample maker knows for sure what their one size up means if it is not listed specifically in the instructions or materials section of the pattern. I sell a lot of my patterns in the U.S. so I include both sizes in my patterns. Manufacturing of needles is done in many countries so they may work to more than one standard of sizing. 
 
How do you know for sure which is the best size....you already know what I'm going to say, by knitting a swatch.
 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August Reboot Series

I was poking around in my google stats recently and I discovered my topic index has more page views than any single post on my blog. That tells me my old posts have lots of value for many readers. Generally when I find a new blog, I start following along with the current posts. If I really like what I see I read from the archives but it tends to be kind of haphazard.  

So I decided for the month of August (which includes some husband staycation time), I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. I'll focus on the informational ones which see lots of traffic. If you are a newer reader you won't have seen some of these posts as I've been blogging since June of 2009. Some will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back from them to fill all the August dates. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Qualities of Fabric - Sheen


Fabrics may be considered to be matte, have sheen or be shiny. Fashion stylists will tell you that shine draws the eye of the viewer and will therefore make an area look larger or at least bring the viewer's attention. Matte fabrics will recede and may make you look a little slimmer. These effects are very subtle. Many of us draw attention to our faces with the sheen of jewellery or silk scarves.

I've collected some detail shots of some of my patterns for you, unfortunately the detail doesn't show as well as I would like. The top row is from left; mohair, bamboo and rayon/sea silk. The bottom row is mixed fibre rayon/wool/mohair, super wash wool and mohair/silk with a metallic thread. You might find it helpful to look through your own clothing comparing wool, cotton, silk and rayon to increase your understanding.

Here's a few fabric photos I pulled off of Pinterest to help demonstrate. 

Sheen, shine and matte.




We see mainly matte yarns and yarns with a little sheen in the knitting world. I did knit a very shiny sweater from lurex yarn  many years ago like this one:

http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/library/colourmart-lurex-sparkle-yarn

One other think to keep in mind is Imogene of Inside Outside Style  recommends matching our natural sheen with at least one item of the things we wear to create harmony.

Friday, July 28, 2017

An Interview with...Katherine Matthews


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/amalia-shawl


Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find Katherine here and here on Ravelry. She is on Instagram as KayMatthews.


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/les-bermudes


Where do you find inspiration?


Anywhere and everywhere! I’m sure most artists and creators are the same way – we soak in inspiration from everything we see or do, or from our environment. Sometimes ideas are sparked, for me, by seeing something in a film or a documentary; sometimes it comes from art or nature. These days, too, I’m especially inspired by Indian films (I review and write about them), and Korean television dramas – especially when it comes to colour choices. And a visit to an art gallery or museum usually results in lots of ideas being noted down in my sketchbook.

What is your favourite knitting technique?

I adore lace, and that’s what I knit the most. But I also love the simple elegance of garter stitch. I love Fair-Isle and other stranded colourwork, and I used to knit a lot of it – I’m planning to go back to it, and I’ve got a few designs in the works that will move me in that direction.

 
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/hana-bi-shawl


Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?

I tend to look at the work of designers who create things completely differently than I do – things I probably wouldn’t design myself (or maybe wished I had designed), because I love to see how other designers solve problems or explore different ideas. I actually don’t think it’s a bad thing to be influenced by the work of others. One of the most eye-opening moments for me came on a visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. At the time (they’ve since undergone renovations, so no idea if this still exists) they had a gallery devoted to artists and works of art influenced by Van Gogh, or by whom Van Gogh was inspired. So you see artists trying out different styles and techniques. I truly think this is how we grow as creative people, and how we stretch the bounds of what we’re capable of. Of course, we have to own those influences and share how they influence us. 


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/make-waffles


How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?

Over the years, that’s varied, but generally I worked with one or two at a time. These days, because I’ve scaled back a little bit in order to deal with “life stuff”, I’m doing sample knitting myself, though I think it will be worth it to go back to using others to test/sample knit.

Do you use a tech editor?


Yes. Though I’m pretty thorough in terms of my pattern writing, I still think it’s prudent to take that extra step, and have an experienced editor double check things. For me, if they catch anything, it’s usually small proofreading mistakes, but even that is worth it. 



http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mariza


Did you do a formal business plan?

I didn’t, because what I was doing just grew kind of organically. I do think it’s a sensible thing to do – and in fact, I took advantage of a workshop run by my local arts council last year, which was a business planning course for artists. I think my next step will be to implement some of the things I learned there, including trying to more formally plan out my next steps.

Do you have a mentor?


I don’t have a specific mentor; I do have a lot of supportive people around me who have helped when I needed to pick someone’s brains about things. I also find that being connected to my local arts council means that I can tap into information and resources that I might otherwise have overlooked.


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/rani


How do you maintain your life/work balance?

These days, I don’t, because my husband (who also helps with the business) and I are dealing with some of those big life changes that make it hard to find balance. I do think, though, that the secret to keeping some kind of perspective is to have regular routines, to make to-do lists, and to stick with them. 


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/breakwater-shawl-2

               Photo credit John Meadows, and the model is Jennifer Santos Bettencourt.

How do you deal with criticism?


It depends on the criticism. Valid, thoughtful observations about my work, I’m fine with, even if I don’t agree with them in the end. I’m also fine with the idea that not everything I create is for everybody; those who don’t like it have their reasons, and that’s okay. 


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/tikal-2


What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?

Learn as much as you can. Learn constantly. Value what you do as work (even if you are having to squeeze it in around a day job while you establish yourself). Set goals, and find the manageable, bite-sized steps to achieve them. Don’t be so excited about getting your work out there that you skip steps – it’s worth taking the time to do your best work, and present it in the best way possible.

What’s next for you?

I have a bunch of designs in sketch and swatch form that I’d really like to take on to completed patterns. As well, I’ve been dyeing my own yarns (I’ll have a table in the micro-market at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Guild Fair in September), and my aim is to produce some unique colourways combined with my own designs, whether just to sell at shows, but also with an eye to setting up an online shop and perhaps trying out some clubs. I returned to teaching last year at the Toronto Knitters’ Guild Spring Frolic, and I’d like to do more of that – I’m especially interested in Orenburg lace knitting, and have taught an introduction to that tradition, and I’d love to be able to teach more classes on it, as well as work on designs inspired by it. 



http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/tide-6


             Photo credit John Meadows, and the model is Jennifer Santos Bettencourt.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Qualities of Fabric - Weight and Texture

The weight of knitted fabric has an impact on both the knitting and the wearing of our hand knits. You notice the weight when you pick up a completed garment. When you are wearing it gravity will pull the garment down if it's heavy. Usually weight will be related to the thickness of the fabric. However very lofty fibres may be lighter than expected. In some cases we create extra thickness with stitch patterning and texture. It can be a good thing for hiding bumps and curves if that is something you wish to do. Fabrics with drape may feel heavier even when the difference is minor because the garment collapses against the body. Often weight is related to the warmth of a garment. 

I learned about weight early on when I decided to knit a pattern with a cotton yarn instead of the wool suggested by the pattern. There's a reason I'm always telling knitters we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. It was a heavily cabled sweater and ended up being really heavy as well as stretching out to a tunic length. It was however a great lesson in understanding the impact of yarn substitutions.

Texture can come from the yarn itself as well as our stitch patterns. Mohair, boucle as well as thick and thin yarns will add texture even in simple stocking stitch. Texture will add visual weight to the body. In those cases we may be surprised by the lightness of the actual garment. I think garments which look heavy work best when we pair them with other garments made from smoother fabrics or items which fit closer to the body.

Here's an interesting comparison between two of my designs in a similar silhouette and knit/purl stitch combination.



Different yarns, stitch patterns and gauges, same silhouette for on the left Prudence Crowley and on the right Deborah Beresford. 

Prudence is an aran weight single. Deborah Beresford is double stranded fingering weight. I got very different gauges. Deborah weights 127 grams more. When I hold each vest I can tell which is heavier yet Deborah but feels much heavier than that when it's worn. The yarn is a super wash and has more drape to the finished fabric. However when looking at the two garments I don't see any visual weight difference.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ruth-kettering-wrap

The wrap in the photo above is a stash busting pattern. The wool (far left) and alpaca (third from the left) versions feel very light. The sizes vary slightly. Weights from left to right are; 238 grams, 290 grams, 81 grams, 323 grams. Again the holding compared to the wearing weight feels less consistent than the real weight measurement due to the natural drape of the wraps which include silk and rayon fibres. They will slither off of my shoulders making the experience of wearing them quite different. The deep folds of the two heaviest wraps give you a visual hint as to their greater weights and drape.


Compare these two sweaters knit from the same yarn. Can you see how the one on the left falls against the body at the waist. It's because all those little cables make it heavier than the knit/purl stitch of the sweater on the right.

How do you learn about these qualities? You have to pay attention to the fabric you are creating when you knit and compare each one against another. And the bad news you will learn the most when you screw up, at least I did. 


Monday, July 24, 2017

Qualities of Fabric - Drape

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-mayfair-top


One of the hardest things to demonstrate to knitters through words is how much drape does a fabric have. Yet it is critical to the results of our knitting projects.  What we are trying to capture is how fluid or stiff the fabric is.  It's is not about the thickness of the fabric, it’s an assessment of the manner in which the fabric moves.  To begin to understand this concept think of the garments in your wardrobe. If you own an Oxford style shirt in a stiff cotton compare it to a silk blouse. Look at how the collar stands on it's own in cotton but falls against the body of the blouse when created out of silk. With knitted fabrics we see similar qualities dependent on fibre, stitch patterning, spinning method and gauge. In some ways I think this is more complicated for knitters because we have such varying results when we create our fabric. When you buy clothing you put it on and the assessment is pretty quick. On the other hand sometimes the fabric qualities change after washing or dry cleaning. This is usually due to fabric finishes. Examples would include Teflon to cut down on staining, or low wrinkle treatments on cotton shirts. 

Take a look at my photo at the top, one sweater is knit in cotton and the other is in rayon. You should be able to tell in this photo which is which. 

Hint, look at how the sleeves hang and at the hems.

I hope this helps your understanding. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

An Interview with...Faye Kennington






Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find Faye here on Ravelry.


Pattern to be released in August 2017.




Where do you find inspiration?
Quite often inspiration comes from the natural environment around me. I live on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Pacific Rim National Park and we have an abundance of flora and fauna in the temperate rainforest. The feather motif that I used in Feather Throw came to me after finding an eagle feather on a walk. Many of my colour-work designs feature local animals, too. However, I find inspiration can, and does, come from anywhere.


What is your favourite knitting technique?

I guess I'm going to have to go with short rows. Since learning the twinned stitched technique of shadow wrapping, the possibilities seem endless. I have a new hat design almost ready to go that is worked side to side with short row shaping at the crown. 


Pattern to be released August 2017.


Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I often look at other's work, for a variety of reasons: 1) there is always a new technique or skill I can learn; 2) there's no point in investing the time necessary to produce a design if it is too similar to a good pattern already readily available elsewhere; 3) I love the knitting craft and it would be a shame to miss out on the beautiful things other Designers are putting forward; and, 4) I've gotten to be friendly with many Designers on social media and I enjoy cheering them on.


How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?

I write my patterns, knit the samples and photograph the finished objects. Then my Technical Editor looks at the pattern and I make adjustments. Then I post a call for Test Knitters on Ravelry. After I incorporate Test Knitter feedback, I publish. 


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/feather-throw



Did you do a formal business plan?

No. I have goals, but designing is my secondary business, so sometimes my goals must take a backseat to my primary business.


Do you have a mentor?
Not really. However, I am a member of a Slack community of Designers where I can bounce ideas off my peers.


Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

No.


Do you use a tech editor?
Yes.


How do you maintain your life/work balance?

I don't! 



http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/waverleaf


How do you deal with criticism?
Talk a long walk with a friend and rant. Look for the kernel of truth once I've calmed down.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I live in a rural and remote area and it's not uncommon for people to wear many hats to make ends meet. I have been self-employed for 3 years, but not all my money comes from design. I have been designing since 2010.


What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I think that if you want a career in knitting, unless you can get a full time job for a yarn company or another third party, you should expect to take on a variety of roles and income streams. For example, you may want to design patterns AND provide technical editing service for peers AND teach at your LYS OR develop a yarn line OR offer photography services, etc. I don't think many people can make a go of it just by designing patterns alone.

Also, it's been said before, but start as you mean to continue. Try very hard to produce a professional quality product from the get-go. It's relatively easy to self-publish a poor quality pattern, but that won't be the legacy you want to look back on in the future.


What’s next for you?
Looking forward to the Indie Design Gift-A-Long, a seasonal gift knitting KAL with a group of independent Designers on Ravelry, I have been working on a series of hat patterns, and a number of stranded colour-work designs including some beautiful Christmas Stockings. If you want to see what I'm working on, please follow me on Instagram at @UkeeKnits.
 


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/whitefish-ripples

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How to get the Length Right when Knitting Garments

Have you ever discovered while using mattress stitch on your seams that they are not the same length? It's a common problem caused by the practice of measuring our knitting. Often measuring works just fine. Especially if we are careful to lay the work flat and to avoid stretching it. Be sure to measure on a flat surface. It frequently helps if you do a little steam blocking as well before you measure. 


Working with stable yarns like wool usually means more accuracy but what happens with silk-like yarns which drape?

I rarely have this problem but then I really love lots of stitch patterning so I frequently depend on the pattern row repeats to ensure equal lengths on the fronts and back of garments. 

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/rosina-nunn-cardigan

The stitch pattern on this cardigan makes it easy to match row counts above the armholes. The body is worked flat in one piece to the armholes eliminating the challenge in that section. 

This is a detail shot from a cardigan knit in pieces.





Can you see how easy it would be to count rows by using the pattern stitch?


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-anne-meredith-cardigan




Here's a few other tips to use to ensure equal lengths. 


Count pattern features such as cable crosses or lace motifs.

Knit both the pieces of the fronts and the sleeves at the same time. 

Know that many knitters will find that they make one side of a piece longer than the other depending on their individual knitting style.  That means when you measure, be consistent in which side you measure on.

Count the rows in stocking stitch, either as you are knitting or after completion.You can add a marker in while you are knitting or count the V's of the stocking stitch. Look for the red V below.



If stitch patterns make it too difficult to count due to pattern crossings as in the example above use the bars instead.These are the same bars you use when working mattress stitch. Look for my red bars below. Next look beside the cable turn and notice you can still see the bar when the work is pulled apart.



This is from one of my favourite sweaters.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-patricia-lane-pullover


To avoid recounting, place markers at regular intervals during the counting process. 

As always while writing this post I checked a number of my reference books. Many don't mention measuring work in progress at all. (Or a least I couldn't find it on the index reference page). However, the very detailed June Hemmons Hiatt never disappoints, as it is indexed and she is very clear that rows are the way to go for accuracy.