Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Straightforward Zipper Insertion -- The Stitching

For some helpful tips on pinning a zipper into a sweater, see my last post, A Straightforward Zipper Insertion -- The Pinning.

Stitching the zipper into my Everyday Cardigan -- even with a few stops to attempt to get helpful photos -- took only a bit more that an hour.


That is my #3 BIG something that really is a part of 'everything you need to know' about inserting a zipper of your own.

Sewing a zipper in by hand prevents the stretching that can happen when using a sewing machine on a handknit fabric.

Whenever I work backstitch, I always think of it as 'one stitch back and two stitches forward'. The backstitch, as shown in the illustration, is commonly used in hand embroidery to create a line.

You will start on the wrong side by securely stitching one end of the zipper to the sweater. Then work one or two small stitches above that. (Try not to let any of this show on the right side.)

Bring the needle out to the right side. Locate the column of stitches that will be your stitching guideline. As I mentioned in my last -- The Pinning -- post, the "well" where the I-cord is attached to the front of this sweater will perfectly locate and hide the stitch line. In this next photo, I am just using the needle as a pointer to show my planned stitch line.

Beginning the backstitch looks like this.

The steps you will be repeating:

1) Insert the needle in about one half of a row of knitting before where the last stitch came out.

2) Guide needle out two whole rows above where the last stitch came out.

3) Draw out needle to complete the stitch.

Remove pins just before you get to them. Check the wrong side fairly often to see that the stitches are appropriately located near the center of zipper tape which was you pin line.

When you get to the end of the zipper you will need to turn back to the wrong side to securely stitch the end of the zipper as you did at the start.

My project, named Everyday Sweater, really is all that.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Straightforward Zipper Insertion -- The Pinning

One of the reasons it has taken me so very long to complete my Everyday Sweater zipper insertion is because I wanted to take some photos of the process and maybe even write a tutorial on it.

It has become obvious that this is NOT a sweater that will allow me show you 'everything you need to know' about inserting a zipper of your own.  This is one of the most straightforward zipper insertions that I have ever come across.

The applied i-cord edging all around the the piece (after blocking) has already made the corners as finished looking as can be.  My purchased zipper is a perfect length (requires no shortening) and the navy color was easily matched.  I will stitch the zipper in place by hand (as I do for most knitted garment zippers)... but I will not have to worry about how the stitches will look because... (1) The navy thread will also match perfectly making the stitches less visible, even on the wrong side, (something I can get fussy about)... (2) On the right side, the "well" where the I-cord is attached will perfectly both locate and hide the stitch line.


OK, that truly is a #1 BIG something that really is a part of 'everything you need to know' about inserting a zipper of your own.

I have carefully pinned the zipper in place.  Starting with the top and bottom...

and then pinning in between.  A cardboard backed tablet helped me keep the pins through just the front layer.

I folded the top edges of the zipper tape at an angle to match the start of the v neckline.

Note:  Because of the i-cord, the knitted edges will meet at the center of the zipper covering the teeth.  For most sweaters with zippers, the edges cover only the zipper tape leaving the teeth exposed.


And that is a #2 BIG something that really is a part of 'everything you need to know' about inserting a zipper of your own.

Photos of the hand-stitching will appear in my next post. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quince & Co: A New Collection & News on an Old One

Flying Geese, Peg Blechman
Scarves, etc 5, © Pam Allen

Last week Quince & Co. released Scarves, etc 5, their annual collection of scarves, cowls, shawls, etc made with a full variety of Quince & Co yarns. My favorites this year are the colorwork cowl, Flying Geese by Peg Blechman and the light and lovely Paperless stole by Leslie Anne Robinson.

 Paperless, Leslie Anne Robinson
 Scarves, etc 5, © Pam Allen

I often choose one neutral color when I make a two-color piece like Flying Geese.  (In fact, the colors used for the design sample remind me of one of my own colorwork design projects.)  Two colors, two colorwork patterns, deep and snuggly, in the warm heathery alpaca/wool blend that is Owl, what's not to love?

My favoriting the Paperless stole took me by surprise... What I really appreciate, in addition to my love for the light & beautiful mohair/merino yarn, Piper, is the variation in stitch pattern on the side and bottom edgings. I have often used such a distinct edging (as in my Love and Prayers Scarf). 

But a stole? I have never worn a stole. And yet if you look at the photos, you might find yourself wanting one, as I do.

True disclosure: I submitted a design proposal for Scarves etc 5 made with two colors of Piper yarn. It was for a smallish scarf. I believe that there were some good ideas in my proposal. But, truth be told, before I sent it in, I did not have a lot of time to consider the 4 edges. I mean, I did show or suggest what the edges would be, but Paperless did it so much better.

Since the day that I first learned that my own design submission for Scarves, etc 5 had been rejected, I was very much thinking about making a much larger rectangular shawl (a stole?) with the same yarn and with a more distinct bottom and top edge. Now I can see a stole as being something that I could actually wear and I am inspired.

I recommend viewing the gorgeous Scarves, etc 5 Lookbook (find link on this page). For this one, Quince includes designer descriptions and inspirations. (Interesting that Paperless was inspired by an embossed paper towel.) The ten patterns in the collection are available at Quince & Co for $5.50 individually, or just $19.00 for the collection.

And now the News on an Old One:  The patterns in the first Scarves etc, now named Scarves etc, 2012, have just been collected into a bundle. Formerly these patterns were available only individually for $5.00 each. Now you can purchase all twelve for just $22.00. The Scarves, etc 2012 Lookbook is also quite beautiful and worth a few minutes of your time (find link on this page).

I am still rather proud to have a pattern in that collection.

  Jonna, Carolyn Kern
 Scarves, etc 2012, © Quince & Co.

Jonna is now available as part of the Scarves etc 2012 bundle. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Oops, I Did It Again

Yesterday, I cast-on for a new sweater just for me.

I was NOT supposed to do that.

I have more than enough knitting for now with a magazine project on the needles that is due in early February. I have a couple of sweaters (I wish to blog about) that need finishing. Some pattern writing and formatting are weighing on me as well.

Casting-on for a new sweater was an easy trap for me to fall into...

First I saw this blog post by Sally Rainey in praise of both the pattern and the yarn. The pattern was designed by Julie Hoover (my newest favorite designer). After I read the post, I bought Julie's Leigh pattern and her Hart pattern as well. (Check them out if you have a minute. Just. Beautiful.)

And the yarn! Sally used the same yarn Julie wrote the pattern for, and it is one that I enjoyed swatching with at a "Shibui Yarn Tasting Party" at Gosh Yarn It! last year. Shibui Pebble [48% recycled silk, 36% merino and %16 cashmere] is a marvelously tweedy, light as air, lace-weight yarn that is held double when knitting Leigh. I bought eight skeins of it in the 'ash' coloway during the Gosh Yarn It! year-end sale (the day after I bought the patterns).

I had the yarn. I had the pattern. Yesterday, I swatched and cast-on for Leigh, and I knit a good inch or two.

I was NOT supposed to do that.

At some point during one of my daughter's visits over the holidays, we were in a car together and talking about knitting. (I can't remember why we were in the car, or why we were talking about knitting.) I said to my daughter, "I think I have reached a point where all of my future knitting will be my own designs... even sweaters. I don't think I will ever use any other designer's patterns again." 

In Julie Hoover's recent blog post she says she was obsessed with Pebble in 2014 when she wrote several patterns for it. She says she is still obsessed, and she was about to cast-on for a Cohle (also beautiful) as part of a KAL she is hosting. She referred to the project as her "pleasure knitting". Note: It is something she will enjoy knitting, but it is her own pattern.

Sadly for me, I must stop and think about NOT making this Leigh. I would enjoy the experience of knitting one of Julie's designs, but as a designer myself, I know that I really could make a sweater of my own design using the Pebble.

I keep thinking about what my daughter said to me in that car after I said what I said. She said, "Those are fight'n words!"

I guess I will be frogging that little bit of Leigh. It has been a fight for me to decide that.

And I thought that she was just joking!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

On the Other Side (of Christmas)

It was an amazing kind of Christmas in my house this year!

All three of my siblings, and pretty much all of their families, were here for the best of Christmas feasts. We put three tables together end to end and had a sit down dinner for 19. Very many hands went into the making of that meal.

In my three bedroom home, I had a total of 11 overnight guests (for three nights).  The photo above is of the small tree I think of as "the children's tree" in my living room. It usually goes in the family room, but this year it and the bigger tree swapped places to make more space where it was needed for dinner tables and air mattresses and gifts and celebration.

I hope that your holidays were merry and bright and full of love!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

(Nature) Midweek Meditation

"Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds..."                                 ~  Frances Hodgson Burnette, THE SECRET GARDEN

Friday, November 20, 2015

Indie Design Gift-A-Long

It's that time of year again... time to cast-on holiday gifts... or at least to start planning them. And I know a great place to start!

TATU Socks

The 2015 Indie Design Gift-A-Long on Ravelry began last evening. A group of over 300 knit and crochet designers are offering from 5-20 patterns each with a 25% discount through midnight (EST) next Friday, November 27. There are over 5000 patterns on sale!

You can browse by designer in the Participating Designer Thread.

Or, you can check out these Gift-A-Long Pinterest Boards:

Hats and Head Things
Cowls, Scarves and Neck Things
Shawls and Stoles 
Sweaters and Other Garments 
Hand and Arm Things
Feet and Leg Things
Baby and Kid Things (except toys) 
Toys, Home and Miscellaneous Things
Crochet Patterns

After you get all of your patterns and your gift knitting plans in place, don't forget to join the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long group.

There you will find some amazingly lively and incredibly fun GAL-2015 KAL/CAL's with tons of gift knitting support, some really fun games, lots of friendly chatter, and thousands (yes, thousands) of prizes! The fun goes on and on every day until the end of the year 2015!

Ready, set, GIFT!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dear Daughter (I know that you have been knitting lately),

And then you sent this photo of your little dog sleeping in a cowl that I made (for you). "For your blog", you messaged. Thanks, my blog could always use a good pet photo!

I know that you have been knitting lately.

You gave me that Honey Cowl project of yours (no project photos) when I saw you about a month ago, and you had me do a little repair work. (It really was not all that bad.)

Did you know that the yarn I gave you for the cowl was the Berroco Ultra Alpaca yarn leftover from the Feldspar pullover that I knit for your dad?

He wore it on Saturday when we went out to dinner while you were home for the weekend.

I cleaned up this pile of abandoned knitting from your bedroom floor where we left it after our abandoned knitting discussion. I ripped out the skinny scarf that you were teaching someone how to knit (and you don't remember who)... and the hat that you started that was coming out way too big.

I know how tough it is for newer knitters to rip out old knitting, but sometimes it puts you where you need to be to move forward.

I have a new hat pattern (I custom wrote) and yarn ready for you when you finish your Honey Cowl. I am looking forward to seeing the finished project. I love it when you knit, but I love you whether you knit or do not knit. Love, Mom.

(PS: Its been almost a year since I have had a new pattern in a magazine, but it looks like I am getting a sock pattern published next year! Yeah!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Design Release: Seabreeze

  Design: Seabreeze 
Sample Yarn:  Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd's Wool Fine
Yarn Required:  Light fingering weight yarn, 220 yards color A, 150 yards color B

My latest design release, Seabreeze, is a completely reversible, two-color, garter stitch infinity cowl with a knit-as-you-go garter stitch edging. The edging is actually the same one that I used for my Paper Lanterns shawlette design. Both patterns are available on Ravelry and they will be linked indefinitely in a Ravelry 'Pattern Set' promotion...

The patterns are available individually for $5 each. The total price for for both (the set) is $8. If you would like to buy both (right now!) this is a handy link to place them both in your shopping cart (and you will see the discount automatically). For this promotion past purchases will count toward the $8 total... so if you already bought one of the patterns, just by placing the second pattern in your cart, you will see the -$2 discount.

(Sorry about all of the promotional stuff. I love Ravelry! If not for Ravelry and paypal, I would not have this opportunity to sell my patterns.)

But now I would really like to let you know a bit more about Seabreeze....

I fell in love with this edging I found in Barbara G Walker's A SECOND TREASURY OF KNITTING PATTERNS. I love the round shapes that I think look like a strand of beads... resulting in a cowl much like a long strand of pearls that can be worn either long-and-loose or doubled-up. Seabreeze embraces my belief that anything is easier to wear around your neck when it is reversible.

Seabreeze is also a great skill-building pattern for an intermediate knitter. The skills that will be new to many are (provisional cast-on), garter stitch grafting, and a thing I call "reversible garter stitch intarsia". I believe that the pattern provides enough detailed instructions for these skills, but look for a tutorial on the reversible intarsia here on my blog in the not to distant future.

Thanks for reading!