Tuesday 31 December 2013

Get "knitting fit"

Happy New Year. At midnight we start again, 2014, wow. Do you have any knitting resolutions?

Mine is to take better care of the parts of my body I need for knitting. To this end I'm including advice for keeping "knitting fit".

10 exercises for knitters:  From Pam Allen

ICE is your friend. I know it might feel better to put heat on sore muscles but ICE does a better job. After knitting, or at the end of the day, place a cold pack across the back of your neck. You might have to bundle up a bit but it really does help. Also put a cold pack on your wrists. They take a lot of the strain when you're knitting, all those repetitive movements are hard on them.

I do an exercise that a physio therapist told me about. It really works for me. This helps to loosen the muscles between your spine and your shoulder blades.
Stand with your back against a corner of a wall. Lean your back against the corner so that the corner is placed between your spine and your shoulder blade. Move your feet about 2' away from the wall. Comfortable? Roll your back up and down along the corner, by bending & straightening your knees. Don't rub, just roll. When you reach a point that hurts, hold it there for several seconds, then release and roll to a new spot. Now do the other side of your spine.
The theory, as I understand it, is that pressing and releasing stimulates blood flow and relaxes the muscles. These muscles in the upper back are very difficult to stretch yourself. The corner of the wall helps.

Hope these exercises help you knit for ever and ever,

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Holidays. Hope you have a great one. I got most of my knitting done but you may have noticed there are a couple of needles still engaged. I was soooo closed this year.
Deb & Lyn

Tuesday 17 December 2013


I couldn't make a video. Somehow what I needed wasn't coming up on my computer today (or lots of other days, it's just me). So here's the I-Cord Thumb in pictures. The instructions for this mitten and the Alternative Thumb are in the Need An Accessory? book

Knit your mitten as usual, putting the thumb stitches on spare yarn.
When you're ready to do the thumb put all the stitches on ONE double pointed needle. (Tip: If there are really loose stands beside the needle stitches, pick one strand up, twist it and put on needle.) Knit across the stitches.
Now SLIDE the stitches to the other end of the needle. Yarn from the ball is now attached to the last stitch on the needle. Pull the yarn across the back of all the stitches and Knit the first stitch. Knit across all the stitches on the needle. You can see the ladder that makes. All is well.
Again, *Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle, pull the yarn across the back of the stitches and Knit all the stitches; repeat from * for the length of your thumb. Work a couple rounds of K2tog to decrease the top of the thumb. You'll have a lot of ladders going up the inside of the thumb. Wonderful.
Now, get out your crochet hook and let the magic begin. With the crochet hook, pick up a leg of a stitch at the base of the thumb (this is a stitch in the fabric of the palm).
Pull the first ladder through this stitch. 
Hook up each ladder, one by one up the thumb.
Put the last loop onto the needle. Using a sewing up needle, thread the yarn through all the thumb stitches and pull tight. Sew in end. Use the end at the base of the thumb to tidy up the little hole.
Ta, da, ladders are gone. Thumb is finished. This photo has NOT been doctored!!

That's how easy it is. You can knit a thumb in minutes. Try it.
P.S. Sharon in Surrey, Lazy, ha, ha! You have so many socks on the go. I just finished 2 pair this week. Now only 2 toques to knit. Good luck with the knee warmers.

Friday 13 December 2013

I'm knitting socks right now. Well, more like always since I have a sock project in my purse at all times. Just thought I'd show you because just I read a really good article about making socks fit on the  Knitting Daily blog.

Just finished a pair of plain toe-up socks in Koigu.
I've been carrying around a large (size 11 shoe) pair for my husband. They are NOT going fast.
A fun pair in worsted weight wool which ARE going really, really fast.
And a cool pair for a friend with slip stitches which I am loving.
P.S. Brenda, How can you have all your Christmas knitting done?! I'm so jeolous.
Sandra, I share your sentiments. Let's get the fast stuff done first. At least then it feels like some of it is done.
Liz and Sharon, good on you for not taking this on. I'm sure you're much more relaxed than I am.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

What's on your Christmas knitting list? ARGHH, it's December already and I've not started.

I was at a Knitting Guild meeting last night and Sandra (who knits for everyone at Christmas) gets a phone call from her sister-in-law:  "We really liked those hats you knit us last year, could you do us each some more this year and we really liked our socks and the kids would love leg warmers and . . ."    Sandra's comment was "The hats are doable, but where was all this information when I asked in August?! And how long does she think all this knitting is going to take? It's December already!!"

I guess it's time to get down to some sort of list.
2 Toques, one for my son and a second one for the daughter's new boyfriend, both in black, of course.
Socks, at least 2 pairs.
Cowl and matching mittens.
Finish mittens for myself since it's getting cold here.

Must get going on it.

Sunday 24 November 2013

If you are knitting a Bag from the Top Down, you can finish the bottom of the bag in several ways. Here's a rectangle bottom done in stocking stitch. You could also do it in garter stitch.
After knitting the bag down to the desired length, pick out 4 stitches for the corners of the bottom. As you work around your last round, work a phoney seam at each corner. This is a set of photos for this technique how to do a phoney seam .

*On the next round, at each corner, work a Double Decrease (see below). Work a knit round.* Repeat from * to * until you run out of stitches on the short side of the rectangle, ending with a Double Decrease round. Turn it inside out and work a 3-Needle Cast Off across all the bottom stitches.

The Double Decrease involves 3 stitches, the centre stitch is the corner stitch.
Work to 1 stitch before the corner stitch, slip the next 2 stitches together as if to knit, K1, Pass 2 slipped stitches over.

Just need to work my strap and I'm done.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Lyn and I were busy last week getting ready for the annual Cabin Fever Retreat.
Lyn is reskeining the lovely dyed wool made by the students that took her dye workshop.

This year's Design Focus was on waist and hip shaping. We had fun with the 2 projects.
Wristers, where we practiced waist and hip shaping.
We worked one wrister with waist shaping (decreasing) and the second wrister with hip shaping (increasing).
A second project was to make a bag with shaping that reflected our own body shape.
Here's a closer look at my own bag.
The bag handle has to be added. But it certainly is a good look at my figure.

And here's Kelly's alternative use of a wrister!
We're all looking forward to next year.

Friday 8 November 2013

Size It Smaller

Top Down garments really lend themselves to specific sizing.

You guessed it, Lyn is not a plus size but the cardigan from the Need A Plus Cardigan? book can be easily adapted to a smaller size than the pattern is written for or to work in between sizes. The smallest size in the book is for a 44" finished sweater. We made the green one 42" finished.

The green cardigan for Lyn, and the new blue cardigan for myself, are cast on as written in the book for the size 44". The Yoke was knit as written for the 44" size until I was an inch or two from the bottom of the Yoke. The adjustment for sizing is done in the last couple of inches before the Divide Round.

I checked the chart for the number of stitches required for the Bottom of the Yoke for the 44" size then contemplate my size change. I want to make it 2" smaller for a 42" cardigan. I want the Back to be 1" narrower and the Front 1" narrower.

The chart for the Bottom of the Yoke gives me stitch numbers for the Front, sleeve, Back, sleeve and second Front for the 44" size. I only look at the Back. If I subtract 1" worth of stitches (approximately 6 sts if using DK yarn for example) from the number of Back stitches in the chart, that would make my Back 1" narrower.
Bottom of Yoke Chart (pg.17):  size 44"  Back 96 sts
Adjusted for size 42" by subtracting 6 sts:  new Back will have  90 sts

When I knit to that number of Back stitches that automatically takes 1" off the Total Front too, which gives me a cardigan that is 2" smaller. Ta, Da, done.

I knit the Yoke until I hit the adjusted number of stitches for the Back and continue to work the Great Divide using my markers as a guide (because now my stitch numbers don't match the Divide chart). I cast on the correct number of stitches for the underarm cast on and continue with the pattern for Bust Increases, etc, as written. The Body of my garment is now the 42" size I wanted.

You may wonder if the back of the neck would be too wide since we're downsizing. On these cardigans the front Buttonband is picked up in one piece all the way around. When I knit across the my first buttonband round 1 decreased 3/4"-1" worth (5 sts) across the back of neck. Now it's narrow enough.

Do you need to work in between sizes for a better fit? That's really, really easy. Next to no math. I'll tackle that next. Stay posted.

Monday 4 November 2013

Can't put it down

Do you have projects that you love knitting so much you just can't stop? I'm knitting one now, the Panel Cardigan out of the Need A Plus Cardigan? book . I like to knit adult-sized sweaters but must admit that some of them are more fun to knit than others, especially near the end. This is going really fast. The Lace Panels are interesting to knit and the stocking stitch in between is a rest and motors along to the next Panel. And this is for MYSELF, Yay.

Here's Lyn in one of the lace cardigans from the book. This is the one I'm reproducing. I really like the collar. I think I'll put a lace edge at the bottom of 3/4 length sleeves.
Mine is in blue.
The pattern is really pretty. 
Have you knit something lately you couldn't put down?

P.S. Brenda (from the comments) A NEW blue cardigan for the next 6 years!
t_a (from comments) The scissors are very, very scary the first time you use them.

Thursday 31 October 2013

It's mitten wearing weather now for us here in Canada.  The knitters in the Need An Accessory? book mitten class , last Saturday at Yarn Forward and Sew On in Ottawa, got a head start on their pair. As you can see, the yarn weights ranged from DK to bulky weight and everyone got one mitten done and started the second one. And lots had cables running up the back.
I've been wearing my own pair and am knitting a fingering weight pair to put inside when it gets really cold. I'm ready winter, bring it on!
 - Deb

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Sweater Surgery

Do you have an old favourite that you're just not willing to part with even though it's showing some wear? My  Lakeside Raglan from the Button Up Your Top Down book (blue cardigan in the centre) is that cardigan for me. I've worn it very steadily for 6 years and now the collar needs some tightening up.
Scissors to the rescue.

Ta, da. 
New tighter collar. OK, you might have noticed that the collar is a different looking colour. Dye lots change a lot in 6 years and washing and wearing might have something to do with it. But my old fav is back and now that I'm on a roll, I think it could probably use some new cuffs. Where are those scissors?!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Not Written in Stone

Knitting patterns are not written in stone. They are there for you to play with, really it's true. If you need permission, you have it from me. Please, please do whatever you want with any of the Cabin Fever patterns. Have fun. Take a chance. Each time you make a little or big change you make that project your own creation. Take a step away from a pattern and see where you end up.
Right now I seem to have a thing about making bags. I'm knitting myself one out of the Need An Accessory? book in two colours.
To make it easier for myself, I made a small change to the original stitch pattern from the book as worked in this cowl.
For this bag, I worked garter stitch instead of purl stitches between the cables. I was knitting and watching curling over the weekend (my daughter's team WON, yay) and with all the excitement and sitting on the edge of my chair, I knew I would find it difficult to keep track of the cable crossings. Changing every other round to a simple knit round meant I would cross my cables on every 4th garter stitch ridge (every 8 rounds). So far it's working out really well and it's going to make a really great bag.
I had fun over the summer knitting Harriet's Jacket by Elizabeth McCarten. This is a garter stitch project where, for the jacket, you cast on at the sleeve cuff and knit up the sleeve and then work half the jacket to the Front edge and the centre Back, attaching both halves at the centre Back. I cast on at the end of the sleeve and carried on from there. I guess I knit Harriet's Vest. Once the buttons are sewn on I'll be wearing this a lot. It fits great.
Have you made little or big changes to a pattern? Did you enjoy it? Will you continue to do so?

Monday 7 October 2013

I was away last weekend at the Sticks, Strings and Stewardship Retreat in Sudbury, ON.  This is a retreat with a focus on charity knitting.
Mitts and hats are put aside destined to those who need them and the rest these knitted garments will go to a bazaar they run in November with the proceeds going to various charities in the Sudbury area where money is needed more than knitted garments. 
They also provide blankets for Project Linus.
Needles, yarn and patterns are also collected and put in kit bags which they deliver to the waiting rooms of the regional hospital for those knitters who arrive at the hospital, flown in from remote areas with their loved ones, without their knitting. You can imagine how welcome this service is!
Here's the whole gang of wonderful knitters who are making a difference in their community.
I've gone to this retreat for 5 years and am looking forward to next year. We have lots of fun knitting over the weekend. I took two classes: log cabin quilt and Latvian Mittens.
Good Times.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

A friend of mine sent this great video to me about fashion and ageing. If the quote: "when I am an old woman I shall wear purple" in this poem, resonates with you then this will reinforce that wonderful ideal. Grab a coffee and sit down and enjoy this. It's 47 minutes long but worth the time.

Does this inspire you? Now I'm wondering where my red shoes are because I should put them on TODAY.
fabulous fashionista


Monday 30 September 2013

This is a RETREAT info-mercial.

It's Retreat time. We're gearing up for our Cabin Fever Retreat on November 15-17 at the Fern Resort.
This year we're going to focus on getting a GREAT FIT for your sweaters. And you know what that means right? The measuring tape has to come out. I know that none of us like to look at what the measuring tape tells us but it really does get you the fit you want. Everyone is going to do a sweater map with body measurements and the adjustments needed for their figure. Then we're going to do a small project (it's a secret so far) where you'll work with these adjustments. It sounds a little bit dry but it's going to be lots of fun. How could it not be when knitters are knitting and eating great food! Lyn is also going to do a dyeing workshop. If you haven't tried hand dyeing yet this will be your chance to make your own unique skeins.

We have a couple more retreats going in the spring. Lyn and I are part of a group that put on it's first annual event last year. Here's a terrific video from our Yarn Over Sleep Over Retreat held last April. We'll be holding another Yarn Over Sleep Over Retreat again in April 11-13, 2014.

We also have a Northern Ontario Knitting at Lake Lauzon event where I teach for 2 days in Algoma Mills, ON (on Hwy 17 at the top of Lake Huron). This year on April 26 & 27 we'll be knitting socks in all their guises. That will be a fun couple of days. 
If you live locally you can travel in each day or make arrangements to stay in the Lake Lauzon B&B rooms.
It's getting busy around here but these are really fun events and I'm looking forward to them all.
p.s. Sorry Robebe, I know you can't make it and all this doesn't help at all!

Friday 27 September 2013

I'm doing some work on a circular yoke with increases around the yoke. It makes a good around Yoke.
But it's getting scratched anyway. It's not going to work for the book.

For the books I usually work a Basic sweater which acts as a template. Onto the template you can add in one of the various pattern stitches we supply or one of your own to make the garment a unique design. So instead of increasing on either side of 1 stitch . . .
I'm going to make 8 spokes several stitches wide where a stitch pattern could live. Similar to this child's sweater.
I'm going to make it really easy to tell which rounds to do the increases on too because once I get started I don't like to have to think too much when I knit either!