Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Knit a Spiral Scarf

Amazing Curly Scarf - free pattern below.  Want less ruffles?  Check out my Potato Chip Flutter Scarf!

I've knit a few spiral scarves over the years, and they remain one of my favorite knits.  How cool is it that your fabric begins to spiral right before your eyes as you bind off?  And the best part - it is so easy to do!

Also called a corkscrew or potato chip scarf, you can use just about any yarn and needle size you like.  The secret, or trick, to making your scarf spiral is in the increase rows.  That's it!

I do recommend using at least a 32 inch circular needle - you will start out with relatively few stitches and in the end will have hundreds, or even 1,000 stitches that need to fit comfortably on your needles.

All you have to do is cast on a certain number of stitches, let's say 100.  Knit two or three rows; then you will do an increase row to double the number of stitches you started with.  Simply knit into the front and back of each stitch (you could even make YOs if you don't like knitting into the front and back of your stitches) - so if you started with 100 stitches, after the increase row you will have 200.  No need to count to make sure you have exactly double the number.  A few more or less isn't going to make much of a difference.  

Now, knit some more plain rows - however many you knit before, whether it be two or three.  The most I have used between increase rows is three, so while I am sure you could do more, I can't vouch for the looks of the scarf in doing so or the effect this would have on the spiral.

Do another increase row, again doubling the number of stitches on your needles.  

Continue in this manner until you have roughly 800-1,000 stitches.  I say roughly, because the needle size and weight of yarn you use will affect how long your scarf ends up being.  A word of warning though - do remember that as you increase the number of stitches, the length of your scarf will also increase.  One of the first spiral scarves I knit ended up with close to 2,000 stitches, and was about 12 feet long.  That is much too long for most folks!!   Obviously, if you are using a lace weight yarn and small needles, you will need more stitches to get an appropriate length on your scarf; if you are using a larger needle and bulkier yarn, you won't need quite as many stitches.

When you are ready, bind off.  I usually knit one row less than I knit between the increase rows, so for example if you were knitting two rows between increases, knit one row and then bind off.  You can use any bind off you like.  Ta-Da!  You now have a spiral scarf.   (Is this scarf too curly/ruffly for you?  Maybe you will like the Flutter Scarf instead)

Below is a video in which I knit the above scarf.  If you would like to knit the same, go here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Knitting With Sequins

I've been wanting to add sequins to my knitting for some time now.  When I began searching around for instructions, I found next to nothing!  I did find a snippet from the Knit Simple site, however their instructions were to pre-string the sequins on an auxiliary thread.  I wanted to add them with a crochet hook, like I do beads.   So, after I finally found some sequins, I began playing around to see what method of adding sequins worked best for me.

I had a hard time finding sequins at the craft stores, believe it or not.  I finally found a small bag of multicolored sequins at Michaels.  I also found a website called Cartwrights - where there are more sequins than you can imagine.  All shapes, sizes, and colors from hearts to ghosts and more!  If you are serious about knitting with sequins, then that is where you should go!

You will need a crochet hook small enough to fit through the hole in your sequins, and the yarn you use should fit as well.  If you prefer, you can use a contrasting or complimentary color of yarn that fits your sequins, and knit that along with a thicker yarn.  You could also sew the sequins on later, however that for me seems too time consuming.

Once you have your sequins, yarn and crochet hook you are ready to begin.

Knit to the stitch that you want to put the sequin on.

If working on stockinette stitch:

1: Place the sequin onto the crochet hook (upside down if using cup shaped sequins)

2: Insert the crochet hook into the stitch you want the sequin on, and pull the working yarn through the stitch - essentially you are making a knit stitch with the crochet hook

3: Now continue pulling the yarn through the sequin

4: Place the new stitch onto the left needle, and purl it together with the original stitch

Continue knitting, adding as many sequins as you like.  On the reverse row, when you come to the stitch(es) with the sequin, purl as you normally would.

If working on garter stitch:

Follow steps 1 - 3 above

4: Place the new stitch onto the left needle, and knit it together with the original stitch

Continue knitting, adding as many sequins as you like.  On the reverse row, when you come to the stitch(es) with the sequin, knit as you normally would.

If any of the sequins want to flip around to the other side of the fabric, give them a gentle tug and straighten them out on the right side.

The above is what works for me.  If you don't like this method, it isn't the only way to knit with sequins.  Play around until you find a technique that works for you.

Here is the video - I hope you find it helpful.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Carol's Needleworks

Today I stopped in at Carol's Needleworks, in Bridgeville Pa.  A bit out of my way, but I have been wanting to check it out for a while now.  It is a small store, but has a nice selection of yarn, notions and patterns.  The store is neat and organized.  I also had the pleasure of being waited on by Carol herself.  Carol is absolutely lovely!  Probably one of the nicest people I have ever met.  I was greeted by her as soon as I walked in, which is not something you always get upon entering a store these days.  Whenever I go to a yarn store, I always ask if they carry any Lorna's Laces; I've been lusting over Helen's Lace for quite some time, but really didn't want to shell out the bucks before fondling it to make sure I felt it was worth the money.  (For the record, no store I have been in has ever had Helen's Lace, and Carol was the only one who ever offered to order some for me.)  Carol does not carry any Lorna's, but when I told her what I was interested in, she pulled out a color/sample card which had a few strands.  Honestly, it wasn't quite as nice as it looks in the pictures on Jimmy Beans.... sorry.  I was glad I hadn't decided to buy any!  She also suggested a similar yarn by Abstract Fiber called Hepburn, which is 1,000 yards of exquisite merino and silk (80 and 20%, respectively).  The color.... Tequila Sunrise.  How could I resist?  I had to get it.  I also fell in love with Audrey from Schaefer Yarn.  The color I chose is called The Brontes, after the Bronte sisters of course.  Audrey is a scrumptious blend of 50% merino, 50% cultivated silk.  I cannot wait to get this stuff on my needles!!  And, to satisfy my chunky yarn cravings I have been having, I picked up a nice hank of Elaine, also from Schaefer.  Elaine is 99% merino, 1% nylon.  I am not sure what the color is called, that tag must have fallen off.  I don't care what it's name is -- it is fabulous!

If you are in the area, I do highly recommend stopping in at Carol's Needleworks. She definitely knows her stuff, is extremely nice and eager to please all of her customers.  Excellent customer service!  Below are some pictures of the shop, the yarn I got, and one of Carol herself.  She let me take the picture since she was having a good hair day!  Again, very nice lady and I can't wait to see her again!

Here is where you can find Carol's Needleworks:

429 Washington Avenue
Bridgeville, PA 15017

Friday, November 18, 2011

Knitting With Beads

I have long loved adding beads to my knitting.  I have two small beaded bags that I use for going out, just for money, phone, etc. when I don't want to carry a larger bag; I also have a couple of scarves with beads.

If you have never tried knitting with beads, I hope this will encourage you to do so!  It isn't as hard as you may think.

Beads come in many sizes, shapes, colors, and are made from different types of materials.  You can find them in craft stores such as Joannes and Michaels; your local yarn store may even carry beads.  There are also plenty of places online to find beads.

One thing to consider when choosing your beads, is whether or not they will fit onto the yarn you want to use.  If you are in love with a particular bead, but your yarn is too thick to fit through the hole, you can use a thinner yarn to put the beads on, and knit with both strands.  Choose a complimentary color, or a contrasting color - the choice is yours.  If you only want a few beads here and there, sewing them on afterward is also an option.  Something else you may want to consider is how much weight the beads will add to your finished item.  Using lots of big, glass beads for example may make your scarf uncomfortable to wear.

There are probably as many ways to add beads to your knitting as there are knitters.  The most common is stringing the beads onto your yarn before you begin knitting, or adding the beads one at a time as you go along with a crochet hook.  The second method is the one I prefer.   My problems with stringing the beads on beforehand are:  A) If the yarn is a fine, thin yarn the weight of the beads may break the yarn  B) The moving of beads up and down the yarn can cause a bit of fuzziness or pills on the yarn.  If you are using a fine, delicate yarn and prefer to pre-string your beads, just do a few at a time.  When you run out of beads, break the yarn, add more beads, and continue.  This will also leave you with extra ends to weave in, which can be a pain.

As I said, I prefer adding the beads one at a time with a crochet hook.  This method is the fastest and easiest for me, and the beads appear equally well on both sides of the fabric.  There is no worry that a bead may be stubborn and want to show itself on the wrong side of your fabric!  To add beads this way, you will need a crochet hook that is small enough to fit through the hole in your bead.  I use a US Size 11 hook, which is teeny tiny.  Since it is so small, it tends to snag on thicker yarns sometimes as you pull the yarn through the bead.  If that happens, all you have to do is pull the rest of the plies through the bead, and it will be fine once the stitch is back on the needle and you have knit it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to Knit a Scarf

Extreme Pastels Scarf pattern below

Also check out my other scarf patterns.  Video tutorials on each scarf.

Free Patterns:
 Flutter Scarf (a potato chip scarf) 
Amazing Curly Scarf (a spiral/corkscrew scarf)
Lacy Ruffle Scarf 

Available for Purchase:
Quite Contrary Scarf

If you are new to knitting, you may be wondering how to knit a scarf.  Scarves are good beginner projects, because you generally don't need to worry about gauge - something which often confuses newbies.  Scarves can be knit as long as you want, as wide as you want, as skinny as you want.  You can use any yarn you like, any needle size, and any stitch pattern.  It can be simple, such as garter stitch, or something more complicated like lace.

Even though a scarf is a simple project, all of the options can be overwhelming.  If you aren't ready to go it alone, there are more scarf patterns available on the web than you can shake a knitting needle at.  If you would like to design your own, here are a few steps to get you started.

Find a stitch pattern you like.  There are many web sites with stitch patterns if you don't own any stitch pattern books.  The Weekly Stitch has a new stitch pattern posted each week, most with a video demonstration of the stitch.  

Choose your yarn and needles.  If you aren't sure of which needle to use for you yarn, check the ball band and start with the recommend size.  While you don't have to swatch first, you certainly can if you like; you can decide from there if you like how the fabric looks, and if you'd like to make a denser fabric then try a needle size smaller than the one recommended.  If you'd like something looser and airy, shoot for a larger needle size.    Also, a swatch can tell you how wide your scarf will be.  Myself, I just guesstimate and don't worry about it.  Obviously, what type of yarn and needle size you use will affect the width.  Finer yarn will require more stitches, and heavier weight yarn will require less. 

Once you have your yarn, needles and stitch pattern you are ready to cast on.

 There are many cast ons - use which ever cast on you like.  Long tail cast on is one of the most common ones.  Backward Loop is also common, or you can even do a knitted cast on.

Begin knitting your scarf; keep going until it is as long as you want it to be.  Now you can cast off, or bind off.  Use any bind off you like.  The standard knit bind off will do fine, but of course there are many different bind offs.  If you like to purl, you can try the standard purl bind off, or if you crochet perhaps the single crochet bind off will feel most comfortable for you.

If you have knit your scarf with wool or another animal fiber, you may want to block it before wearing it. Blocking is not required, but can open up your stitches and give the scarf a more finished look.  You can always add fringe to your scarf if you like!  Now you are ready to wear your new scarf!

Scarves are a good way to use up left over yarns; you can use several strands at once, or just knit with one until you run out and then begin with another.  The scarf above was knit with four strands of yarn on large needles.  I wanted to use up some scrap yarn, as well as get it done fast.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Knitting Patterns

The holiday season starts with Thanksgiving - and turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and more turkey just when you think you can't possibly eat one more bite.  And then the pumpkin pie!  

Before you eat yourself into a tryptophan coma, here are a few cute Thanksgiving/Fall themed patterns for you to knit up.

Corn on the Cob Pot Holder (requires a bit of crochet knowledge also)
Autumn Leaves Placemat (you will need to sign up for a free account to view this one)

Gobble Gobble!