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Gaugefy App

February 27

You may remember I’ve been working on the second level of the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program. I’m learning to be a stickler for gauge (oh dear, I’ve become one of those people). In Level 2, we have to write instructions for our swatches, including gauge.

A tool that I’m finding to be helpful is the Gaugefy app for Apple devices. It’s very easy to calculate gauge, since it lets you enter any measurement for your swatch – you’re not stuck with 4″ x 4″ for example. It then takes the stitches and rows in your swatch and calculates stitches per inch.

app, Gaugefy, gauge

You can then hit the “Create” button to go to a page that allows you to to use your stitches-per-inch calculation in a number of ways. I like using it to get the 4″ gauge to put into the gauge section of my patterns. Or you can you can estimate the measurements that you’ll get using a certain number of repeats. Or go the other way and figure out how many repeats you’ll get in a given measurement.

app, Gaugefy, gauge

This handy app has a free version which I use all the time. For $1.99 you can get a version with even more features. It will store your gauges for you for future reference.  As a designer, this is really handy. I can have at my fingertips the gauges for yarns I use in design work, or gauges for specific stitch patterns.

app, Gaugefy, gauge

Gaugefy seems like such a simple little app, yet is very handy!  You can check it out for free in iTunes and upgrade to the paid (but still really inexpensive) version if you’d like to be able to save the results of your swatches, including yarn and needle size.

Chic-a Bags

September 28

I first discovered Chic-a knitting bags and accessories during the recent SLO Yarn Crawl. Their trunk show at Nordic Mart offered up fantastic bags and needle organizers, all in the most delightful patterns! Here’s their line-up of pouches:

Chic-a knitting bags, knitting accessories

 

Chic-a uses oil cloth for easy cleaning and durability. My favorite thing in the world is to sit in my yard and knit. I like to put my project bag on the ground beside my chair, but regular cloth gets stained and wet. The oil cloth is perfect for my outdoor knitting.

Chic-a project bag

High on my wish list are needle cases. I love my sets of interchangeable needles, but organizing them can be a challenge. And do not ask me why I have so many straight needles…I just do. I would love to have one of these well-thought-out staight needle cases for my overflowing collection!

Chic-a needle cases

I had the pleasure of eating lunch the other day with Joanna Reyes, the owner of Chic-a. She told the the wonderful story about how her penchant for sewing her own project bags led from stocking her local yarn store all the way to a full-fledged company selling bags all over the country. What I like best is that she solicits feedback and suggestions from real-life knitters. She incorporates that input into new products and designs, so her accessories are perfectly suited to our knitterly needs. Such is the case with this incredible Knittenger bag, which holds up to seven balls of yarn, with grommets that feed all the yarns into a section of the bag. It’s great for any large project, but anyone doing colorwork – and especially intarsia – will appreciate how it keeps order among all the yarns.

Chick-a Knittenger bag

 

Resources:

If you haven’t seen Chic-a bags in person yet, you can find them in lots of shops around the country. They can also be ordered directly from the Chic-a website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiber Factor

April 29

Have you been following the Fiber Factor?

If you haven’t heard of it yet, it bills itself as ”a knitting design competition being held to find the next great knitwear designing superstar!” Twelve extremely talented contestants compete to win 6 challenges, with an overall winner receiving a trip to Germany.

The first challenge, called “Knit Your Life” is underway. I love watching the progress videos. It’s inspiring to see how these designers come up with their concepts!

What would you include in a design that shows people who you are?

We Have Winners!

November 23

Congratulations to the four winners of the AudKnits 4-year blogiversary drawing! Lovely custom stitch markers are on their way to Jen, Janice, Andrea and Susan.

If you weren’t among the winners, but have a hankering for these gorgeous markers, you can order some for yourself from my friend Laurie at LimaPopShoppe on ArtFire. She has the special AudKnits colors, as well as many other great designs to choose from.

giveaway, drawing, blogiversary, stitch markers, Lima Pop Shoppe

DNA Results, or It Was A Really Long Walk

May 9

National Geographic, DNA test, Genographic project

You may remember a few posts ago I talked about the amazing National Geographic Genographic Project which traces human migration across the globe. Steve and I submitted our DNA to add to the database, and also to find out what our roots are.

The results are in! Let’s just say it was a really long walk. All of us can be traced back to Africa 150,000 years ago. Then various groups wandered off in different directions. My people trudged off to West Africa and hung out there for a long time. Then, about 80,000 years ago, one of my matrilineal ancestors had a DNA mutation and eventually her clan headed north. We wandered into the Mediterranean region, and may have even met up with a Neandertal or two. (I wish I could ask them!)

Finally we get to the branch of my tree which split off about 50,000 years ago with another mutation. My matrilineal line crossed the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia – a tough hike and one I can’t imagine making unless ice cream had been invented and was just on the other side.

The Genographic Project produced a very detailed report of our DNA, including which genes mutated along the way and a map of our ancestors’ migrations. If you’re geeky like me, you will love participating in the Genographic Project. It’s fascinating!

Knitting Evenly App

February 21

If you read my blog, you know that I recently knit a February Lady Sweater in a ridiculously short amount of time. I garter stitched my way into bleary-eyed mental exhaustion. So when I got to the instruction that called for working 41 increases evenly over 239 stitches…well, I almost cried. The few brain cells that were left knew that I could pull off the math if I had to, but I might well end up with 41 mistakes instead.

Enter my favorite new sanity saver, the Knit Evenly Calculator app.

Knit Evenly Calculator, knitting app, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, knitting software

Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and requiring iOS 4.0 or later, the app is an ingenious tool for figuring those tricky “knit evenly” instructions. It’s very simple to tell the calculator whether you’re working with increases or decreases, and whether you’re knitting in the round or flat. You type in the number of stitches you’re increasing/decreasing across, then tell it the number of increases/decreases you’ll need…

Knit Evenly Calculator, knitting app, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, knitting software

and it tells you the answer, in your choice of formats  - a simple spacing out between two given stitch counts to either side, or the more complicated but also more evenly distributed :

Knit Evenly Calculator, knitting app, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, knitting software

Being the stickler type, I favor Option 2, the more evenly distributed method. The calculator not only shows me the written instructions, but also gives me a way to keep track of which increase I’m on. I just set my iPhone or iPad next to me, and touch the little red squares each time I complete a step. See the little arrow above the third square? That indicates where I am in the instructions. As I finish a step, the little light turns red, and the pointer automatically advances to the next step. Very cool, and well worth the $1.99 price!

Resources:

Knit Evenly Calculator by JAKRO SOFT LLC

I Get to Meet Marly

September 28

Sometimes the little things in life bring great happiness. Especially during times of turmoil, they come to mean a lot.

Podcasts are like that for me. Listening to them makes me happy, no matter what else is going on in my life. I have a giant list of favorites, but one which always puts a smile on my face is Marly Bird’s Yarn Thing. Marly’s energy infuses her podcasts with a sense of fun. I’ve been wanting to meet her for the longest time, and finally got a chance to at the Vogue Knitting Live LA event this past weekend. See her fantastic smile? You can hear it in her podcasts as she interviews fellow yarn-obsessed luminaries.

Marly Bird, Yarn Thing, Vogue Knitting Live LA

I finally chased down Marly at the Market. She seemed a little surprised to have her very own stalker. But I’ve been wanting to thank her for her podcast for the longest time!

If you want to listen to great interviews, participate in live call-ins, and get some laughs, you can check out the Yarn Thing Podcast on BlogTalkRadio or  iTunes.

Stitch Marker Drawing Giveaway

December 2

Aren’t these stitch markers perfect for the upcoming holidays? I adore anything resembling cloisonné. I hope you do too! My friend Christy made these; they fit up to a US size 10 needle. I’ll be giving them away in a drawing, right here, on December 10th!

stich markers, free, giveaway, drawing

 To win, enter a comment on here on this post. Please include your contact information in your comment so I can let you know if you’re the lucky winner!

(One comment per person, please.)

The Cozy Corner

May 26

I haven’t been knitting a whole lot, as we’ve been settling into our new part-time place. I don’t want to bore you with details; let’s just say that when life gets a bit rocky, having a wonderful husband and a new place to nest makes all the difference.

  A good cozy corner can transform stress into calm in an instant. A pretty chair next to a view filled with trees… fluffy pink mohair on the needles… Ah, it reminds me things are pretty darn good.

 

Holey Procrastination

January 28

I’ve learned a lot from my first big lace project. It all started a couple of years ago. (Yep – this is my longest-running UFO ever.) For my birthday, my friend gave me the fabulous book “Victorian Lace Today” by Jane Sowerby. I took a lace class at my LYS, made about a dozen swatches (and you wonder where I get the nickname Swatch Queen), and settled on a yarn I liked. I commenced to knit the Leaf and Trellis design… some would say obsessively. I was really getting the hang of this lace knitting thing! I completed the center and got a good start on the border.

Then I put it down for about a year, as I allowed Life and other projects to divert my attention. Big mistake.

When I picked the project up again, it was as if I’d never laid eyes on it, let alone contributed countless hours to its existence already. I studied the diagrams. I looked at my previous work. Still, the squiggles on the charts meant nothing to me. I previously thought that after knitting about 16,000 of the same stitch, I would never have to look it up again. But no. And I kept forgetting the silliest things, like doing the “pass over” part of “psso”.

I discovered some nifty techniques along the way that I thought I’d share with you. Maybe you’ll find them handy too!

One thing that helped me get back on track was my own chart I had created (and even saved – yay!) right in the beginning. I used Stitch & Motif Maker to replicate the chart from the book. As you can see in the photo below, I put little numbers in the stitch squares before a long-ish series of knit stitches. I did this because I found that when I’m following a chart and run into a series of blank squares representing knit stitches, I get hung up having to think about how many stitches are coming up. I can glance at any chart and my brain immediately registers seeing one, two, or three stitches in a row. But any more than that and I have to mentally pause, especially when it gets to be six or seven. Which is it? Six? Seven? Four?  The little numbers I put in the squares tell me “knit four” or “knit seven” – whatever the case may be. One glance and I can chug along without pause.

Another thing that made it well worth the charting effort is that Stitch & Motif Maker puts the stitch numbers along the bottom of the chart. Unfortunately, the charts in Victorian Lace Today do not include the stitch numbers. To me, it makes it cumbersome to keep track of how many stitches I should have on the needles at any given point. Making my own charts allows me to quickly see the stitches I should have; considering how frequently I make mistakes, this is a very good thing!

By making my own chart I could also make it plenty big enough to see easily. I print it on cardstock paper so it doesn’t slide around in my lap. The post-its I use to mark my place stick better, too.

To keep track of which stitches are to receive double and triple joins, I put two different colors of  removeable stitch markers in the stitches. I used turquoise to indicate a double join, and orange to indicate a triple join.

I’m determined to get this shawl completed before my next birthday, which is right around the corner. (Honestly, without deadlines I’d atrophy altogether.) With luck, I’ll be wearing this to my birthday dinner!

Another Favorite Thing

December 29

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad…

I started feeling kind of bad the other day when trying to finish up my Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I got stuck at the point of knitting the buttonband.

I don’t know about you, but when I find a pattern I like in a magazine, I tear it out and put it in an overflowing, stuffed-to-the-gills binder full of similar aspirations. Then I toss the rest of the magazine away.

I got to where the pattern called for making the buttonband, using the Glossary to make the button holes. Uh-oh. The Glossary had long ago been pitched along with the rest of that issue. Normal knitters don’t feel panicked at the idea of figuring out how to make button holes from any of a slew of reference books sitting right on their shelf. Or they could even ask for help. I know this.

Me, I panicked. I wanted to know exactly what that missing Glossary would have instructed me to do. Evidence to the contrary, I seem to think that the path to eternal bliss is to do Everything Just Right. So I had to make THE buttonholes as called for in the elusive Glossary.

Interweave Knits to the rescue! Did you know they offer CD’s containing their magazines? I happened to have the 2007 volume on hand. The Tangled Yoke Cardigan appeared in the Winter issue that year, so I was able to print the missing glossary page. Ahhh. The buttonholes are all done – just the way the instructions call for. Which makes me very happy, and qualifies the CD as one of my Favorite Things.

Interweave-Knits-CD

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