Come to Hartford for Stitches United! Whether you yourself have many stitching interests, or you have buddies you like to travel with who knit, sew, crochet, quilt, weave, dye, and more, Stitches United is where you’ll want to be. I’ll be teaching. Check it out. Click on the image to see my classes and information on the entire event:
Frequently I hear from knitters concerned about the appearance of their stockinette stitches. “Stitches are supposed to look like ‘Vs’. Mine look like check marks. What am I doing wrong?” they ask.
Nothing. You’re doing nothing wrong. Really! Let’s figure out why this happens.
Yarns are available in S-twist and Z-twist. Most of our commercially available yarns are S-twist yarn. If you closely examine a strand of yarn, and hold it straight up and down like this |, you notice the twist creates a slanted line in the yarn. You see either a backward slant as found in the letter “S” or a forward slant as found in the letter “Z”.
Let’s look at some S-twist yarns and swatches first. Hold a strand of that yarn askew to mimic the right leg of a knit stitch like this / and observe what happens to the twist. Those slashes line up almost straight up and down. See it? Now hold that yarn askew to mimic the left leg of a knit stitch like this \ and observe what happens to the twist. You see a more exaggerated backward slant. Imagine stacking them, and you can begin to understand the appearance of columns of knit stitches, and why the left and right legs appear different from each other.
Let’s observe this in a few different yarns.
The first example above is Cascade 220. This wool yarn is an S-twist yarn made of four Z-twist plies. The ply is somewhat relaxed. The left and right legs of the stitches look quite similar. You can see the left legs stack on top of each other looking a little bit like a pole.
Above is The Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted. This merino wool/cashmere/nylon blend is also an S-twist yarn made of four Z-twist plies, but it has a tighter twist to it. The right legs of these stitches lean to the right as you’d expect. The left legs actually lean off to the left as well, but they appear not to do so, simply because of the twist. The stack of left legs look like a pole, even more so than the Cascade 220.
This “pole” effect is even more accentuated in yarn with numerous plies. The Berroco Floret above is a blend of acrylic and cotton. This S-twist yarn is made from five Z-twist plies, and each of those Z-twist plies is in turn made of two S-twist plies. Wow! That’s alotta plies.
Creative Focus Bulky
Now let’s look at a couple of Z-twist yarns. First up is Rowan Creative Focus Bulky, a loose, single ply Z-twist yarn in a wool/alpaca blend. Notice that in this case the “pole” effect occurs on the right legs of the stitches. Interesting, isn’t it?
At first glance this Noro Silk Garden yarn looks like single ply, but on closer examination it is a loose Z-twist yarn made from two loose S-twist plies. Can you find the slight “pole” effect again on the right legs?
Finally we have yarn that is neither S nor Z. This is Rowan’s Lima. This yarn is a crocheted chain of very fine alpaca. Its left and right legs looks nearly identical because there is not any twist to the yarn.
Hopefully this clears up a mystery for you. The next time you peruse a knitting magazine or observe your own hand-knits, notice how different yarns behave differently. Accept this as a feature of the yarn and make your yarn selections appropriately. Mostly, accept that there is nothing wrong.
Once in a while my knitting group gets together and has a themed party. For example, last year we gathered to overdye our previous yarn purchases in the colorway “What-the-hell-was-I-thinking?” – you know the color. Those with expertise share it, and we all benefit.
Our most recent gathering was themed “Things our mothers (or fathers, aunts, uncles…) made.” It was a time for meaningful, and sometimes silly, memories. We all share an appreciation for the memories of our family members making things, and we are glad that as makers of things, we continue the tradition.
Michale’s doll clothes.
April’s sweater, quilt, and wire jewelry.
Arlene’s crocheted coat her mom made, lined of course.
We also enjoyed this spectacular view of the day’s changing weather over Lake Washington.
Arlene’s crocheted piece. We were not sure if it was a bed or table cover, but its border went round all four sides, so we think tablecloth.
April’s sweater (above) and quilt (below).
Pat, wearing her own newly finished sweater, and holding an afghan. Her mom taught her to knit left handed and how to rip and fix mistakes. Mac the cat was on the lookout for loose ends.
Carolyn’s wicked sharp can opener and crocheted hanger.
Michale’s mom’s painted ceramic duck, with a broken and re-glued neck (above). Her quilt is below.
Arlene and Carolyn holding Michale’s doll dresses with lined bodices.
Jacqueline’s granny square blanket and Kaffe Fassett vest.
Mary’s crewel embroidery was so charming! And below is a doll made from grandma’s embroidered pillow cases.
My mom made my sweater for me when I was in high school, and it was similar to one Arlene had purchased years back.
And I made friends with Mac.
Susan was not able to share as her treasures are all in a moving pod, but she did offer sound advice. We need to record these stories, pen to paper, and store them with the treasures so future family members can know their value.
This cardigan gets nine buttons. A tenth is sewn inside for insurance against future loss. I want them done right so they don’t pull on the button band. I’m ready with buttons for the public side, clear buttons for the inside, sewing needles that fit through the button holes, a nice sharp scissors that will do double duty later, and yarn to sew with (I’ve split my four-ply in half).
I like to use safety pins to work out the button placement first. See where the pin goes in and out of the fabric? That’s where I aim my sewing needle.
If I were to snug these layers as I sewed, there would not be enough room for the bottoned-on layer to exist without getting squished, so I use a little lazy trick.
My scissor handles get closed around the button to preserve some space to make a shank.
Now I sew on the button through all the layers.
Remove the scissors. Wind yarn around to make a shank. Darn in ends. Repeat.
Ready for the next one.
(This design uses vertically stranded color work for contrasting lines of bobbles in a lace cardigan. I am still writing the pattern and working out the sizes. It will be called “Skagit Valley” cardigan when it is ready for public consumption. I love the way the yoke and neck worked out, but I am not letting you see that yet.)
Click on this link here to attend class. New: On 2/10 I updated the link. If you have found me here, you should get a discount to class! Click for a 50% off link which means the course will cost you $15.
Less strain + more efficiency = more knitting. Whether or not math is your forté, this is an equation sure to catch any knitter’s eye. If your knitting has ever been cut short by achy hands and wrists, or if you find yourself yearning for speedier stitching, join me, instructor Lorilee Beltman, for my online Craftsy class, Knit Faster with Continental Knitting, to learn a different style of knitting that increases comfort and bolsters efficiency!
When it comes to Continental Knitting there’s only one overarching rule: fewer motions mean more efficiency. During class, learn which motions have the greatest impact on stitch gauge to size knit and purl stitches equally and achieve even tension. You’ll give each finger a job, minimizing hand motions so that your knitting will become faster, more comfortable and more efficient! Whether you’re new to knitting, or seasoned in English-Style, you’ll be happy you took this big step.
For our first lesson, we’ll focus on the knit stitch — Continental style. Learn how to tension and position yarn in your hands to make knit stitches flow effortlessly across your needles, then move on to the purl stitch. I’ll show you how to hold your yarn and move it into place so that your needle grabs quickly and easily, and we’ll work to keep awkward movements at a minimum, making sure your stitches are correctly oriented on your needles.
Depending on your stitches, you might notice that your knitting is too tight or too loose. In our third lesson, I’ll show you how this happens and explain how to get those stitches just right. At this point, you’ve likely gotten an idea of how Continental Knitting increases your efficiency, but it’s with techniques that require frequent stitch alternation where the value of this style really shines. As we talk about ribbing and seed stitch, you’ll see that getting working yarn to the back or front of your knitting is simply a matter of shifting your right hand!
Next, we’ll walk through basic increases, decreases and other stitch maneuvers you need as you find out just how easy elaborate patterns become when you’re holding your yarn in the left hand. That’s why lefties especially will love Continental Knitting! Then, whether your favorite fabric has cables, colorwork or beyond, you’ll learn how to tackle each. Just try not to get too excited when you see how much easier Linen Stitch and colorwork can be — we’ve still got one lesson to go!
For our final lesson you’ll face an inevitable truth: the way you’re holding your yarn might be causing you pain. I’ll give you tips to keep in mind so you can avoid pitfalls and pain, and troubleshoot why you may have trouble keeping tension and stitches even. We’ll end on an inspiring note, and run over some small, fun projects with which you can put your exciting new skills to use! Learn how to rejuvenate your knitting and ditch stitching strain when you sign up for Knit Faster with Continental Knitting today!
Over the years, I’ve found that venturing into something new can really pay off! If you’re looking to try your hand at Continental Knitting, then rest assured that I’ll do everything I can to help, because one of my greatest passions is helping students embrace their creative curiosities and push past their obstacles! It’s this affection for knitters drove me to own and operate my own business, City Knitting, from 2005 to 2009. Now, I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to focus on instruction, and help knitters get the knowledge they need to flourish!
Luckily for both of us, Craftsy is as dedicated to getting rid of those educational roadblocks as I am. In fact, Craftsy makes education easy, with classes that you can watch anytime, anywhere, as you enjoy lifetime access to personalized support!
So what are you waiting for? Hurt less, knit faster and finish projects with smooth, even tension. You’ll soon realize that efficient knitting is exciting knitting!
Which type of person are you: clutter or anti-clutter?
I need some of each. I like my living space to have interesting personal things in it, but in general I’m happier with little clutter. Too much clutter and pattern in my living space tends to stress me out.
Throw this all out the window when it comes to creative spaces. Many of us, whether in the yarn business for work or as a hobby, have claimed a room in the house as our own craft room. For work I need this. And I need this space to be very cluttered- needles in view, a bulletin board full of random inspirations, needle gauges, notes, business cards. I want to see all my books. See them on a shelf. Gardening books. Art books. (Art books used to be my luxury purchase in college since I didn’t have the properly shaped feet to support a shoe habit.) Knitting books. My swift and ball winder need a permanent home ready to be used on a whim.
I don’t need to see all my yarn, class samples, and finished knits. I know, what’s wrong with me? So those are in cabinets behind closed doors.
Now a year-and-a-half ago we moved across the country to a house 1/3 the size of our Michigan home. Major purge. But the house did have a room for me to eventually claim as my own. With all three kids out of the house grown up working or in college, I finally got to claim my silver lining to our newly emptied nest. A week ago I painted and started moving in. It’s feeling great. I’m only half done, half-organized, but I am getting there. I may share pictures here when ready.
In the meantime I leave my handy friends with one great tip. This project has involved a trip (okay, two trips) to Ikea and lots of assembly and affixing things to walls. Partway in, when I realized I don’t have to power I used to have to hold that drill firmly when pushing screws into studs in the wall, I reached for the bar soap. Each screw gets a little roll in the soap before gliding into the wall like buttah!
We won’t be seeking gold. Instead we’ll find a wealth of natural imagery and shared experiences with new-found knitting friends.
The Vogue Knitting cruise to Alaska departs from Vancouver in a little under a year. I join Cat Bordhi and an editor from Vogue Knitting to serve up some knitting techniques to inspire you.
If you know Cat, you already know she’ll have your inquisitive minds working in concert with your hands, sticks, and favorite yarns on her latest innovation. I’d also like you to try something that may offer you a new way to add color to your knitting. A cruise like this will provide a perfect opportunity to explore your knitting at your leisure.
This is Cat’s first knitting cruise, and my second. So I can tell you first-hand that Holland America takes great care of you aboard. Great ship, great staff, great food.
Follow this link to learn the details. Spend a little time exploring the Holland America site to learn of the shore excursions you could opt to add to your cruise- kayaking, sled-dog rides, hikes, salmon bakes, and fishing.
The highlight of this tour will be the natural beauty around us. I’ll leave you with a few memories from my first visit to Alaska. These are pictures from the decks and from shore excursions. I can’t wait to spend time with you, Cat, and our hosts at Vogue Knitting.
Normally I teach with a video camera focused on my hands. The projector I connect it to projects large hands onto the screen behind me, so students can see a close-up of techniques. All of us are on the same page at the same time. I can still be facing the students and talking to them. I love it.
This past weekend at Stitches East, a disaster struck and I had to do some trouble shooting. (By the way, this post is meant to be potentially helpful to other teachers. The rest of you will find it a big yawn.) My Canon videocamera broke. No tears were shed, but my heart sank. I’d like to share what ended up working in its place, with a few enhancements I only had time to figure out once I got home.
First off, a big thank you to Hartford resident and Stitches student Marna, who saved me with, “Hey, here’s my number. I drive by Best Buy on the way to Stitches, and if you find anything there that will help you, let me swing by and pick it up for you.” I did, and she did.
Following is my big-hands-in-motion materials list:
- (From the event venue- make sure you have a power strip, cart, and a screen. The power strip gives juice to your phone and the projector. The rest is up to you.)
- A stand, or a tripod with an arm. It’s best if the thing fits in your suitcase, can rest on a table, and can hold your smartphone about 18 -24 inches above the tabletop, aimed straight down. I have a dress form stand instead of a tripod. I leave the body at home stuffed in a closet and take just the stand. Its three legs lay flat on the table, out of the way. The hemline tool, which swings out and around, is what I use to attach my phone.
- Two tiny adorable little bungie cords. One firmly attaches my phone to the arm. The other collects the cords up and out of the way.
- iPhone. I have a 5. Settings to use: set camera app to video (not camera) | light set to ON, which illuminates your hands below | hold finger on screen to lock the focus (This I only discovered now. At the show it kept autofocusing, annoying us all.) And don’t reverse the camera or your students get a nice view of the ceiling or perhaps up your nose. Zoom in close enough for folks to see, then find the perimeter of the area of the table you must stay in to not have your hands drift out of view. Put sticky notes on the table to mark your work zone.
- Adapter. For me, I got the Apple174 Lighting to HDMI adapter. Model MD826ZM/A purchased from Best Buy. One end into your phone. The adapter end has HDMI and, a happy surprise, another lightning port so I could keep my phone plugged in as I worked using the phone’s charging cord. Plug it into the power strip. It was only eight inches long though, so I also needed a
- HDMI – HDMI cord about 40 inches long. This was my “extension cord” to reach the HDMI port on my projector.
- Projector. This year I bought a ViewSonic PJD5134. I plug it in. I plug in the HDMI cord from the phone (could also use VGA, so look into that.) Not all projectors have HDMI ports. Use the settings to select HDMI as the source. You can adjust kerning. Adjust focus. And, also discovered only now, I can adjust the zoom to fill the screen instead of pulling the table further back from the screen as I did this weekend. Duh.
To my students who put up with me as I figured this out- thanks for your patience. Next week I’ll be using it at Vogue Live Chicago as well. To any teachers who want to check it out, ask when we meet at events, or find me in class.
I would have taken a picture of the whole setup for you, but my iPhone was otherwise occupied. Protip- also bring something else to tell time.
Join me this Sunday, October 5, for an event at The Naked Sheep Yarn Shop on Staten Island. I’m so excited!
Show & Tell
Starting at 1:00 we’ll have a trunk show of garments featuring a fun coloring option– vertically stranded color work. I’ll have with me some socks, hats, scarves, and the Bold Move skirt. Feel free to try things on.
After about a half hour of show and tell let me teach you how it’s done in an informal class session (about 45 minutes long). Bring some worsted weight yarn and appropriate sized needles. Please choose either DPNs, two circulars, or one long circular for magic loop knitting– whatever method you prefer for knitting in the round on a circumference of about 8″. That’s what we’ll practice on.
If you’re ready to dive in, let me and the shop staff help you pick a project to try out your new skills. Let’s spend the afternoon knitting together and I will be happy to assist individuals with questions as they arise. I’m all yours.
Location: The Naked Sheep Yarn Shop, 4038 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314
Details: Call 718-477-9276
Sunday, October 5, starting at 1:00 pm.
Then, on Monday…
On Monday the 6th I plan to hang out at the shop to knit some more. I’ll update this spot when I know the exact times I’ll be there. Again, I’ll be happy to help you make progress on your vertically stranded color work.
To get a better idea of what we’ll be up to, here are some photos of garments and swatches using the technique.
This can be a sensitive issue in knitting groups. I run into a lot of knitters from across the country and hear of the problem often, so I’ve told this story in person to many people. It comes up so often I wonder if writing it here would help more broadly.
I’m talking about knitting group etiquette, and, specifically, not monopolizing the conversation.
I talk too much, and I’ve had to come up with something visual to help me. Maybe it will help others.
When I enter into a group setting, I see the group as a pie. Twelve people? Twelve pieces of pie. I get to talk for 1/12th of the time. That’s it. If someone else chooses quiet pie, I do not get to fill the void.
If the pie splits up into sub-pies or shifts in size, adjustments can be made.
I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better at listening and resisting the urge to grab more than my fair piece.