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Custom Fit: Fun with Sweaters

October 12

I am super excited to finally start my first Custom Fit sweater. The brainchild of designer Amy Herzog, the Custom Fit program allows you to create sweaters that fit perfectly because they are created for your specific measurements.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that during our recent yarn crawl I ended up with a ridiculous amount of yarn earmarked to make sweaters. That was the impetus for me to finally try Amy’s ingenious program. Do I know how to alter sweater patterns to better fit me? A qualified yes…I still struggle, especially when altering armholes and sleeve caps. At the end of the day, I have limited confidence that my alterations will work as I hope. That’s why I wanted to give Custom Fit a try.

Here’s how it worked:

I signed up for Custom Fit. Once registered, I entered all my measurements into my account. It was easy, since the measuring instructions are very clear. Next I chose a pattern to buy. I wanted my first Custom Fit sweater to be simple so I could easily understand how the program works. I chose the basic v-neck Drumlin Cardigan.

drumlin-finals-web-1_medium1

Once I told the program my gauge it started to create the pattern using my own measurements, plus gave me an option to refine my measurements even further. Rather than “secretary’s spread”, I refer to my hip area as “knitter’s butt.” I altered the hip measurement so that the back would be wider than the front to accommodate where I carry my weight.

I hit a button and out came the pattern I purchased, completely customized for my measurements and gauge. It’s like magic!

Drumlin is exactly the style I had in mind when I bought my gorgeous dk-weight Cestari “Ash Lawn Collection” yarn.

drumlin-pattern-and-yarn_1

When I make sweaters I like to start with a sleeve. It’s a good chance to see whether my gauge swatch is truth or fiction! Miracle of miracles, the sleeve and gauge swatch match and the sleeve is the exact measurements that my Custom Fit pattern says it should be. I can’t tell you how relaxing it was to knit the sleeve, knowing all the shaping was already calculated for me and the final measurements would fit me.

drumlin-pattern-and-sleeve_2

In addition to the online program, Custom Fit can be found in many yarn shops. A trained staff member will take your measurements and get you started in the program. They’re there to help you every step of the way.

 

 

A Bag of Goodies for Charity

February 25

From time to time I like to provide things for local charities that are close to my heart. You might get requests for auction items, too, so I thought it might be fun to share what I just finished putting together – maybe you’ll get some ideas for auction items of your own. The auction item may be something modest for a small local event, all the way up to something with higher-end items for a fancier affair.

This time around I wanted to create a special knitting-related goodie bag. I was asked to put together several items, including a signed copy of my book Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues. I was also asked to include yarn for making one of the scarves in the book. And of course I’d have to include a set of LimaPopShoppe‘s stitch markers in the exclusive AudKnits colors:

stitch markers

Now…what would I put all these goodies in? It had to be something really special, since this is an upscale auction…

I first wrote about the joys of Chic-a products in a blog post a couple of years ago. The company’s knitting accessories are brilliantly designed, making them oh-so-useful to us crafters while delighting us with fabulous colors and patterns. I wanted a really nice bag, and one that could do double duty as either a knitting bag or a day-to-day tote. Chic-a’s Market Tote was the perfect solution. I chose the lovely “Finlandia” color:

chic-a market tote

I couldn’t resist throwing in a set of Gadget Trays as well. I have these scattered around in various drawers, keeping small things organized, and knew someone else would find them handy as well.  I chose the jaunty yellow color in the bottom photo, since it makes me think wistfully of spring:

chic-a gadget_tray

I’m sure that so many colorful treasures and my book will make for a successful auction item for charity!

Do you have ideas for creating knitting-themed auction items? If so, please leave a comment and share them with other readers!

Happiness is a Good Stretchy Cast On

October 29

I love learning just the right technique for a given purpose. When I need to cast on for a sock, I’m always worried about whether the top will stretch enough. Same thing for cuffs for mittens.

When I first started knitting, I quickly learned the hard way that the standard long-tail cast-on tended to be too inelastic for the cuffs, especially on socks, even if I casted on loosely, and even if I went up a needle size or two.

I recently started a new pair of cuff-down socks. The cuff is a 2x ribbing. I’ve come to love the Rolled-Edge cast-on as described in Cap Sease’s fantastic Cast On, Bind Off book. It starts with a few rounds of waste yarn, then a row of a strong yarn in another color. I used some white sock yarn I had on hand, and then a row of smooth pink cotton which you can see just below the green ribbing:

Sock Cast On 3

When the waste yarn was removed, I was rewarded with a lovely ribbed top that stretches like mad:

Sock Cast On 2

I next casted on for a pair of mittens. The Cast On book has a variation of the Rolled Edge cast-on that’s for 1x ribbing. I love the way it looks and how stretchy it is.

This photo shows one mitten with the waste yarn and the ribbing just started and the other mitten with the waste yarn removed. Isn’t the cuff lovely? I’m very happy with this technique.

cast on for 1x cuff

 

Once in a while, if I’m in a bit of a rush or the ribbing doesn’t have to be quite as stretchy as the rolled-edge one, I’ll cast on in the ribbing pattern using the long-tail knit and purl method. Here’s my video of the technique if you want to give it a try:

What is your favorite cast-on for cuffs? Please leave a comment with your recommendation. I’d love to try some new techniques!

Resources:

My review of Cap Sease’s Cast On, Bind Off  book. Please support your LYS by asking for the book there!

AudKnits YouTube channel

If you’d like to explore more cast-on ideas, you might like to visit Helen Griffin’s wonderful web page which not only lists a variety of cast-ons, but also links many of them to videos. It’s a fantastic collection, compiled by a very talented and experienced knitter.

 

Six Word Memoirs

December 29

I want to share a particularly entertaining and thought-provoking book with you. Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure is a gem. Part of the book’s description is, “Deceptively simple and surprisingly addictive, Not Quite What I Was Planning is a thousand glimpses of humanity—six words at a time.”

It’s amazing the way short little sentences can be used to sum up big ideas.

51APBdJcrzL

My husband and I get a kick out of reading these six-word gems to each other. We even signed up for the Six Word Memoirs web site where you can post your own little literary creations and read the clever posts of others.

My six-word memorialization of 2014 is

“Knitted my way through every adversity.”

I hope you’ll go to your locally owned book store and ask for the book. You’re sure to enjoy it.

Happy New Year!

 

Holiday Indulgence – Sweet & Spicy Pecans

December 24

Once a year I go crazy for sweet and spicy pecans. This year I tried making them with maple sugar. They’re not overly sweet. Traditional winter-time spices and the hint of maple…

YUM.

spicy pecans

I thought you might like to make them, too, so here’s the recipe:

MAPLE SUGAR AND SPICE PECANS

Preheat oven to 225 (convection) or 250 (conventional).

In medium bowl, beat one egg white with 1 tablespoon water.

In a larger bowl, mix together 1/2 cup maple sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Toss 1 pound of raw pecan halves in the egg mixture. Stir until evenly coated.

Transfer to sugar mixture and toss thoroughly.

Spread nuts on baking sheet with rim. Bake 44-48 minutes (convection) or 50-60 minutes (conventional), stirring every 10-12 minutes. Remove them from the oven when they have the desired amount of crunch. Cool in the pan.

You can download the recipe by following the links here: Maple Sugar and Spice Pecans Recipe

I don’t know whether maple sugar is available in regular grocery stores. I find it at my local natural foods store.

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas

from AudKnits

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.

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