What can you knit for Christmas? (by Ina Gilmore)

November 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Holidays and Seasonal

I don’t know about you, but the Christmas presents I remember most are not the most expensive.  No, the ones I remember most are the ones that came from the heart.

They may have been as simple as a young child helping his busy mom make Christmas ornaments for everyone.  Or as complex as a favorite aunt making matching hat, scarf, and mitten sets for my sisters and me — while taking care of her own growing family and working full time.

And in an economic downturn, maybe it’s time to consider — or reconsider —simpler . . .more practical . . .less expensive gifts.

So what are some projects to knit for Christmas?

  • A lap-ghan or baby blanket  This recommendation comes from Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune.  She’s an avid crocheter, reportedly preferring these gifts.  And yes, they do work also for knitters!What’s a   lap-ghan?  It’s a half-size afghan that an adult uses to warm his or her legs.  This is a favorite of those bothered by chills and drafts.  And yes, it’s not just confined to the northern areas.  Southerners get chilly too!
  • Scarves, hats, and mittens  Well these will get more use in northern climates.  Hats and mittens usually require knowledge at least roughly of the size of the recipient’s head and hands.  Scarves on the other hand are small projects.  And even beginning knitters can knit garter stitch scarves.  Actually their biggest challenge may be binding off!Tip:  When you want to make a scarf faster, knit it lengthwise.  Instead of knitting back on forth on only a few stitches, cast on enough for the entire length of the scarf.  This way you only have to knit a relatively few rows.  Although they can get quite long!
  • Toys  You can knit toys for children, such as a teddy bear or doll clothes.  You can also knit a cover for an I-pod or cell phone to protect an adult’s “toys.”

These ideas can help you get started for knitting your own memorable gifts.

And when you want to knit a special gift for use every Christmas, consider knitting a Christmas stocking.  You can personalize it with names if you are so inclined . . .or just your own knitting style.  When you’re looking for Christmas stocking kits, be sure to check out the kits Naughty Knitterz offer from patterns I designed.  (Insert link)

Keep knitting to your heart’s delight—or someone else’s —  Ina  
The Knitting Yarn 





Have you tried loom knitting yet – part 1? (by Jen Chambers)

August 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Loomz

It’s a whole lot of fun.

Sure it looks a little spooky and doesn’t resemble your pointy sticks at all.  How do you begin?  What will you make?

I found patterns by Googling loom knitting or circle looms.  There are quite a few patterns on Provo Craft’s website as well.

The different color rings are for different size projects.  Using the Lion Brand Knitfy Knitters the blue ring is for baby size heads, the Red ring fits kids, The Green ring for adult heads.  The Yellow ring is for even bigger projects, and I used mine to knit flat projects back-and-forth rather than in the round.

Here’s the basics….you begin by looping the yarn around each peg  going in a counter clockwise pattern wrapping the pegs one at a time.  Once you’ve wrapped each peg with a loop one time, then repeat and put a second loop around each peg.  After this, use the hook that comes with loom and pull the loop on the bottom of each peg up and over and off the peg.  It’s the same principle you learned when you learned how to bind off stitches.

This will leave one loop on each peg.  Stop and re-loop each peg with a second loop.  Then repeat using the hook and taking the bottom loop up and over and off the peg.  As you do this, you’ll grow your project into a connected tube of knitting.

It’s very easy to create hats, scarves and other fun projects.  Look for part 2 of this article…coming soon!

Introduction to Tri-Looms (by Pamela Kelly)

April 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Yarnz

I have been crocheting and knitting for the better part of my life. However, I now primarily spend my time knitting, spinning, and weaving. I fell in love with spinning the first time I sat down at a spinning wheel at one of my friend’s shop. As time progressed I decided I would like to try other fiber venues. As it turns out, I saw a tri-loom on the internet and asked my husband if he could make me one of these. Husbands are great for that sort of thing you know. With no information other than a photograph and a bit… sorry… a lot of ingenuity on his part he endeavored to build a tri-loom for me. After about three months of effort his first seven foot loom actually turned out to be only six feet long because, for whatever reason, he calculated seven feet to be seventy-two inches, which of course is only six feet. He’s over that and better now!

Jim now makes tri-looms for Sunflower Fibers (www.sunflowerfibers.com) in several sizes and is working to get his personal adjustable design patented.

Knitting and weaving is just not simply fun for me, it is a “passion”. I have wanted to weave and knit full time for years but unfortunately making a living at a full time job was preventing me from doing that. I was a computer programmer for a major international company, and as many IT jobs have done in the past several years, my husband’s and my job were both best-shored to other countries. So I have been forced to do what I love to do. How cool is that??? Besides, a job is a “job”. Weaving and knitting is “fun”!

Jim makes looms and I weave and knit.

Triangular (tri-loom) weaving frame.

An adjustable triangle loom is for weaving pieces into various garment accessories, blankets, throws, afghans, shawls and scarves in various sizes. There are three wood rails attached at the angle or corner to create a 90 degree triangle. Each rail has nails or pins aligned in a straight row for the full length of each board. The nails are proportionally spaced in order to have the same number of nails on each board. Since the hypotenuse is longer than the two adjacent sides the nails will be a bit further apart on the hypotenuse side. The size of a tri-loom is measured by the hypotenuse side of the loom. An adjustable tri-loom has drilled holes at specified distances to allow different sized looms to be created from one set of three rails.

This invention relates to a 3-sided 90 degree weaving loom that can be adjusted to various sizes.

Background of the weaving loom.

The triangle weaving loom is used for weaving triangle shaped fabric pieces that can be used as an individual piece like a scarf or shawl; or to weave several triangular pieces that can joined together to make ponchos, afghans, bed throws and many other common household or garment items. The adjustability of the loom allows for the different sizes desired for the item that is being constructed.

Weaving on a triangular loom is much easier than normal weaving because the only measurement that is required is how much yarn is needed to complete the job. The complete piece can be woven by using a center pull ball of yarn. Other weaving projects, or weaving on a floor loom, may require measuring and cutting warp yarns, or dressing with warp yarns, winding shuttles with weft yarns before weaving.

When weaving on a triangular loom it is imperative that there be an equal number of uniformly spaced pins on each rail and that the pins intersect with no major gaps at the corner and at the 45 degree angles.

Summary of the invention

A tri-loom is a triangle made of three rails of wood with nails or pins evenly spaced on the upper side of the wooden rail for weaving the yarn. The rails are connected via a bolt and wing nut at the ends, or at the specified pre-drilled holes that allow for the adjustments to create a different sized loom. No matter what sized loom being used the loom is constructed in a way that allows for the loom to have the same number of nails for each loom depending on the loom size desired.

No matter what size loom being used the following is required and provided.

  1. The invention provides an adjustable triangular loom that maintains an equal number of pins or nails on each rail.
  2. The pins or nails intersect at the corner and angles with no major gaps.
  3. The spacing of the pins or nails will be uniform on each rail regardless of the size of the triangle loom being used.

More unobvious and obvious features will become more apparent looking at the pictures of the looms at www.sunflowerfibers.com.

Holiday Knitting Is A Marathon (by Robyne Devine)

April 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Holidays and Seasonal

Say what you will about me, but I’ve already begun my 2010 holiday knitting. One of the joys of the holiday season for me is giving the gift of something hand-made; from hats to sweaters to mittens, I love the look on a loved-ones face when they open a package full of items I’ve made just for them.

Gifting handmade takes far more time than gifting store-bought, however. Making each individual item takes a far amount of time – there’s the picking out of patterns and yarn, sizing items properly, not to mention the actual knitting! To keep myself from losing my mind (and giving myself Carpel Tunnel) this November, I’ve already begun my holiday knitting.

Getting your holiday knit on this early is as easy as a few simple planning steps. Here’s how I got myself into the holiday groove so early.

First, I spent some time making my Gift List. I put everyone’s name into a document on my computer, and started to figure out what each person might like. For some, it’s as simple as a hat or a pair of mittens. For others (like my nieces and nephew) something more substantial like a sweater was in order. I made this list as large and “Ideal World Knitting” as possible – practicality comes into play later.

Once the list was made, I started to figure out what I already had yarn for. This is key in getting as many hand-knits made for the holidays as possible, truth be told. If you’re constantly running to the store for more yarn, you’re cutting into precious knitting time and spending far more money than you may want.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find much of the yarn you need in your stash – in my case, I had enough yarn for at least five of the projects on my list. That’s when the fun really starts. I updated my list to reflect the yarn I already had, so that I could start figuring out what yarn I needed. If you don’t know what you need, you won’t know what to get!

I watch the sales at my local yarn shops as well as at the big box stores, and when I saw yarn on sale for a holiday knitting project I wanted to tackle, I snapped it up. Thanks to this, I was able to purchase almost all the yarn I’ll need for holiday knitting before April 1!

Once you have your yarn, or have begun to figure out what yarn you already have for your projects, you can begin knitting! I started knitting some of the smaller items (scarves, mittens, etc) right away. With the weather turning warmer every day here in the Midwest, I don’t want to get bogged down with too many larger pieces on my lap. Plus knocking out a bunch of smaller items will get more names crossed off the list faster – a huge mental boost! Figure out which project you want to knit first, and jump right in!

Finally, I designated an area in my craft room for holiday presents – it’s actually the top drawer of my “knitting dresser” for now. As I finish gift-able hand-knits, I write down basic information (who it’s for, yarn content, care instructions) and pin that piece of paper to the hand-knit so it doesn’t get lost. Then I store finished items until it comes time to gift! You may also want to keep a running list of what you’ve knit up and who it’s for, to help remind you at a glance which projects still need to be tackled. I’ve been using Ravelry for that so far, with much success.

Even if you don’t start your holiday knitting as early as I do, if you love to gift hand-made presents, a little organization can go a long way to keeping your gift-giving in order – and help keep you sane!

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Keep on Knitting! (by Robyn Devine)

People often marvel that I’m able to complete as many knitting projects as I do. I didn’t think I was knitting all that much and then I started to add up what I’d gotten accomplished. From August until now I’ve finished over 50 items!

I haven’t always been this accomplished of a finisher but deadlines and a desire to push myself has proven very helpful. However, my strategy of being a stern, whip-bearing task-master, may not work for everyone.  I’ve come up with a handy list of five ways to finish more knitting projects.

Have a “project” bag you can take with you - Be sure you’ve got either a purse big enough to carry your project or a designated “project bag” you carry with you everywhere. This way you can knit while in line at the post office, while others are driving, while waiting for a child’s ballet class to get finished, etc. An extra five or ten minutes here and there will get you closer to your goal of finished knitting projects!

Keep it simple – This can mean knitting up a pair of stockinette stitch socks, letting self-patterning yarn do all the hard work for you or it could mean ribbed scarves. Figure out what you can knit blindfolded and let that stitch or project type dominate your “to knit” list. If you love to knit scarves then knit scarves.  You can give them to everyone for the holidays.  Don’t force yourself to knit items you’ll stress about and won’t enjoy!

Make it small – If you take a close look at the projects I’m finishing not one of them is large-scale. I don’t knit many sweaters and if I do they’re of the baby variety. Much of my knitting is hats, hats, hats. Many are for the One Hundred Hats project but I’m also getting into the habit of knitting hats for everyone around me. I’d love to be known as the hat lady passing out hats all year ‘round to friends, loved ones, and even strangers! By keeping my knitting small I’m able to bust through projects faster!

Keep a list – I find that I get more knitting done when I write out a list of what I’d like to accomplish. This works great around the holidays, or if you have several birthdays arriving at once. My “holiday knit list” has been a life-saver this season – I don’t have to wonder what’s next to make, I just consult the list! I’ve got everything from One Hundred Hats projects to gifts for friends and family added, so I’ve just been working down the list, one project at a time!

Set BIG goals – Sounds strange to “make it small” and “keep it simple” and also to set big goals but not to me! Deciding to knit One Hundred Hats was a huge goal and one I entered into quite lightly to be honest. I arbitrarily picked a number and a time-frame. It has really changed my life. I find I’m more goal-oriented now. I’m constantly thinking about my “main things” and I’m focusing my life around something I’ve become extremely passionate about.

People have asked me what I’ll do if I don’t make my goal. All I say is, “But I will make it!”!  That’s the only way I’ll allow myself to think about it. Setting this challenge is forcing me to focus.  My thinking about the best way for me to use my time has pushed me to not only knit One Hundred Hats but a lot of other items too.

Maybe you don’t want to set as big a goal for yourself.  Whatever goal you set for yourself be sure there’s a bit of danger to it.  You know, “Can I really do that?”  …and remember to always enjoy the ride!

Knit, then Purl, then back again (by Robyn Devine)

August 13, 2009 by  
Filed under The Knit and The Purl

Just learning to knit, and feel overwhelmed by patterns that tell you to do such things ask “kfb”, “m1” and more? I remember the feeling well – I still sometimes have it!
But have no fear, beginner knitters.

There are plenty of patterns that call for no more knitting knowledge than casting on, binding off, knitting and purling. And with those few skills under your belt, you can make many a knitted item – possibly something handmade for the holidays?!

From scarves to hats (yes, hats!), from baby items to those for adults, and even a few for your home – here’s some of my favorite ‘easy peasy’ patterns for you to try!

Entwined - this great pattern gives you a scarf and hand warmers all in one!

Rockstar Scarf – easy peasy, all knit stitch, this scarf gets it’s drama from the variety of yarns used.

Waffle Stitch Dishcloth – looks harder than it is! This dishcloth uses only knits and purls to give it a great texture.

The Squidge Cloth – another one where the pattern is all knits and purls, I use this dish cloth all the time!

Calorimetry – looks so much harder than it is. Short rows are a new skill to be sure, but again, just knits and purls and you’ve got a great cold-weather headband!

Drops Headband – another great headband, this time ribbed.

Flat Hat – this is a great go-to pattern for flat-knit hats. You just knit up a big square and gather the top, and you’ve got a hat! Perfect for donation hats!

Baby Surprise Jacket – really Robyn? Yes, really. This jacket is knit flat, with knits, purls and bind-offs and then suddenly? You have a jacket! (Ravelry link)

Baby Bib O’Love – from Mason-Dixon Knitting, this bib is the perfect gift for any baby shower. (Ravelry link)

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