YarnCraft Episode 59 Transcript :: 20 Valentine’s Day Projects & Learn to Adapt Patterns of All Kinds

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You’re listening to YarnCraft. [music]


Zontee: Welcome to YarnCraft. It is Episode 59, on February 2, 2010. Thanks for joining us today. This is Zontee.

Liz: And I’m Liz, and we are the hosts of YarnCraft.

Zontee: Go online to YarnCraft.LionBrand.com for more information about the patterns, products, and websites we talk about on today’s episode. While you’re there, you can also leave your comments or give us a call and leave a voicemail at 774-452-YARN, that’s 774-452-9276. We always love sharing your stories and suggestions on the show.

Liz: As usual, we’re here at the Lion Brand Design Center in New York City. Today, we’ll be talking about projects for Valentine’s Day, since it is right around the corner. We’ve got projects to make with or for kids to give out in class, as well as sweets for your sweetheart and for your friends.

Zontee: On today’s “Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life” we’ll be talking about making a pattern with stitch pattern work for you. Find out how you can resize a pattern to use a different weight of yarn, learn the trick to using a stitch pattern to make a scarf or an afghan the right size, and get a few good tips on integrating a stitch pattern into a simple garment.

Liz: Stay tuned for sweet projects and even sweeter tips, next on YarnCraft.



Zontee: On today’s “Hooks and Needles” section, Liz and I are just going to do a really quick update before we hop into our episode.

Liz: How’s your sweater coming along?

Zontee: It’s coming along really well. I feel like I’ve made a decent amount of progress since the last time we talked about it. I know it feels like just yesterday, but it’s definitely moving along. So that’s really great, and I really do think that I’m going to make my deadline of finishing it before the end of winter.

Liz: Well, and it’s a short-sleeve crop style, so it will be a great transition piece into spring.

Zontee: That’s exactly what I am thinking.

Liz: So that’s real incentive to get it done.

Zontee: It’s true.

Liz: I am furiously going away on my leg warmers, because they are less of a transitional item and more of a “dead of winter” item. I finally finished that first one, and I am about halfway through the second one, so end’s in sight.

Zontee: Great! Great to hear. All right, before we get started with today’s episode, we want to share a customer comment or two. We asked you on Ravelry to share some of the great products that you’ve actually made for Valentine’s Day.

KristyRecycles wrote to say last year she made the Heart Hot Pad from LionBrand.com, and after making it, she made three dishcloths using the same pattern, but with a single thread, instead of three. Then she also made four more hearts that she turned into two small pillows for her toddler, one of which she put a cat toy inside of — so it’s got a plastic ball with a little bell inside of it that jingles — and embroidered it.

I think that that’s so great that she got so many different projects out of one pattern. She really liked the heart motif, and she just ran with it.

Liz: Yes. I think that is really true to her username. She probably not only recycles physical found objects and whatnot, but also takes one pattern and makes it work in so many different ways, which is really great.

Zontee: Definitely. I think that it’s a great example of the things that you can do. If you find a shape pattern that you really like, you can do these different things with it. Make two of them, and make a pillow just by sewing up the edges. Turn them into little pockets for a sweater for a child. So many different ways of adding.

Liz: Yes. Like we’ll be talking about in our “Stash This” later this episode, just by changing the number of yarn strands you use, which changes the thickness of the yarn, you get a whole different size and a whole new spin on that pattern.

Zontee: Exactly. [music]


Liz: Whenever I think of Valentine’s Day, I always think about how fun it was as a little kid to make your little decorated mailbag, and make valentines for all your friends. So what better way to make really personalized valentines for your classmates than to throw some yarn crafting into the mix?

Zontee: Definitely. We want to share with you of course the Valentine’s brooches. I believe we might have mentioned these last year. They are little cardboard shapes that have been decorated with yarn.

Liz: They’re so versatile. You can play around with the colors. You can play around with what initials you glue on them with yarn.

Zontee: Oh, yes. You can make one for everyone of your classmates with their initials on it.

Liz: Yes, or your school’s initials, or …

Zontee: That would be cute too.

Liz: So many different things.

Zontee: The brooches also made me think about those embellished cards that we had for the holidays. You could do the same thing with hearts and cupids and arrows and all sorts of Valentine shapes and get cute, personalized cards that you can make out of just construction paper and yarn.

Liz: Yes. Very economical and very fun. If you want to make some very special envelopes to tuck a little gift or present into, we have what we call an Envelope Flatware Holder or our quick Valentine envelopes, which are just two different styles of little envelopes decorated with either a contrast trim or a tiny little heart that would be so cute to hold a little bit of candy or a card or just all sorts of stuff.

Zontee: Definitely. And those will work up really quickly, so you can buy just a couple balls of different colors. Mix and match to make the hearts and the trim in different colors with different body, and then you can make a whole bunch of them for all of the kids in your child’s class.

Liz: And if you’re helping a child in your life make something special for a parent or a grandparent, aunt or uncle, maybe, they want to do a picture frame. And we’ve got a great Sweetheart Frame pattern that is a crafted item done with great fun fur. So I think this makes a really cute frame for a picture.

Zontee: Absolutely. I think that’s really cute and easy to do.

Liz: And if you want to make something special for a child in your life for Valentine’s Day, consider our Amigurumi Heartfelt Bunny which is so cute. I just love this little guy.

Zontee: Yes. That one’s really cute as well as our Amigurumi Heartfelt Bear. Both of them are a little bit Valentine’s theme. They’ve got little hearts, and they are very sweet. Again, they can be done in any color that you choose, but we’ve chosen to do them in pinks.

Liz: Yes, very sweet.

Zontee: And, of course, you may want to extend the Amigurumi or toy concept into things that you want to give to just someone special in your life. Something you might want to consider is our Amigurumi Lovebirds. They’re a little pair of matching birds that look like they’re kissing.

Liz: They do.

Zontee: I think that they’re really cute.

Liz: Yes. And, hey, maybe, you want to make something for your cat. These would work really great as cat toys with just a little bell stuffed inside with the stuffing.

Zontee: Oh, that’s cute too. I like that. And, of course, if you are a knitter, we also have some really great Sock Critters that are kind of sock-inspired.

Liz: Yes.

Zontee: It’s all the same skills that you use in socks, in stuffed animals, and those are really sweet. I’m pretty sure any of those can be embellished with some Valentine’s Day colors or just a little heart too.

Liz: Yes. Definitely. They’re so sweet. They almost don’t need any extra embellishment, though. They would be a great Valentine’s Day gift.

Zontee: Agreed.

Liz: If you do like to decorate around the home for Valentine’s Day, we do have the previously mentioned Pot Holder patterns that are heart shapes. We have knit and crochet and a knit one with a lacy edge as well. Those are really fast and going to be really fun.

Zontee: Definitely. I think that what’s great about them is, of course, you can reuse those shapes for different things.

Liz: Absolutely.

Zontee: And I do think that a lot of people like to decorate around the house. And so we’ve also got a great String Art Valentine’s Day Wreath. This, again, is a great project to do with your kids. You just use different colors of line cotton to create and decorate a pre-made wreath and then make little hearts and stick them on there. I think that would be really cute for your door.

Liz: Definitely. And don’t forget, if you have a special valentine in your life, consider making a yarn-crafted gift this year.

Zontee: Absolutely. Now, if your Valentine’s Day sweetheart happens to be the kind of person who likes to dress up a little bit, just be a touch festive. We’ve got a lot of really fun and cute crazy things to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, including Valentine’s socks.

Liz: These have some faux fur trim on them. I would say that would work great for a lot of people. If you’re making them for yourself or you’re not into that, you can always leave off the Fun Fur.

Zontee: You don’t necessarily need the trim.

Liz: But it’s fun if they’re into it.

Zontee: Yes. We also have just some fun purses, one that’s shaped like a heart and another that has a flower. We even have fingerless gloves and mittens that are in reds and whites. Lots of different ways of dressing up if you happen to be the kind of person who’s really fascinating and want to have something in your outfit for the day.

Liz: Of course, if you can encourage your Valentine to be super festive with you, we have our Heart on a String Mittens, which are his and hers mittens embellished with hearts. We have that in both knitting and crochet.

Zontee: It’s true. Now speaking of embellishing with hearts or flowers or anything, that’s actually a really great way of making a present that might just be a simple scarf or regular scarf that you’d like to make–maybe just a garter or simple crochet–and actually adding something to them to make them a little bit more special.

We have a lot of flower patterns on our website, and of course we’ve talked about the different heart motifs we have. So of course you could do that. Sew it on there, and you’ve got a great product that takes practically no time at all.

Liz: Don’t forget. If you’re giving someone a gift on Valentine’s Day–you know to show that they’re extra special to you–I like to embroider my initials somewhere discreet on the project where it won’t show. You could also embroider a little heart right next to it and be very sweet.

Zontee: Oh, that’s very cute. I like all of those ideas. Now, if you’re thinking about things that may not be quite so overtly Valentine’s Day but you want to give something special to those people who are special to you in your life, we’ve got some great new projects that might be appropriate.

First off, we have the Sweet Sachets, which are these really adorable little animal-shaped sachets that would a really nice gift to tuck into your…

Liz: Dressers, closets.

Zontee: …dresser, linen drawers, that sort of thing. It comes in a set of two different colors, but you could certainly do them in any color that you like.

Liz: Also a great stash-busting scrap yarn project because they’re small and fast.

Zontee: Definitely. Similarly, we have the Touch of Warmth Cuffs. They’re basically yarn bracelets.

Liz: Yes.

Zontee: They’re really attractive, and we’ve done them in a bunch of colors of the Alpine wool. But again, whatever you feel like and just go with the concept. A really nice gift, especially I think for teenagers.

Liz: Definitely. And then I think we’ve been very restrained in not talking about how much we love washcloths and dishcloths as gifts for people for any occasion. So we’re going to let ourselves talk about the great new Sandy Shore Washcloths we have on our website. They’re really fun. They’re great textural washcloths, so they’re going to feel great when people use them. They’re really beautiful. A no-lose project. Guaranteed hit. [laughs]

Zontee: Definitely. Washcloths, maybe with a nice fancy soap or something. Great little gift.

Liz: Yes. Or since it’s winter, maybe consider a nice, little, fancy rich lotion of some sort?

Zontee: Oh, that’s great. Yes.

Liz: At least up here in the Northeast I know we all have dry skin issues we’re dealing with.

Zontee: Yes, that’s certainly what I feel like all the time. But yes, I definitely think that bath products and that sort of thing is a great gift for mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends.

Liz: Girlfriends.

Zontee: Just about everybody.

Liz: Everybody. One last note, especially if you’re going to be crafting with kids for Valentine’s Day, maybe consider broadening the concept a little bit and looking to a charity that you could also make something for, in addition to family members, loved ones, or classmates.

A lot of people really focus on creating and donating to charity around the winter holidays in December. So a lot of organizations probably are seeing a drop-off right now and would really welcome any donations that could be made.

And you can check out our Charity Finder to find either something close to you or that is a cause that really resonates with you or your child. I think that’s a way to just broaden the concept and put a little more love out into the world.[music]


Zontee: On today’s “Stash This” we’re going to be talking about some really common questions that we get all the time. They are actually things that have relatively easy answers, but maybe you haven’t come across them yet.

Let’s start off with one common question that we get, which is how you can translate a pattern that uses one weight of yarn to be used with a different weight of yarn that you want to use.

Liz: Exactly. Maybe you just happened to have a lot of a different weight yarn in your stash, or the yarn called for in the pattern doesn’t have the color you want. You could encounter the situation for a lot of reasons.

Zontee: Definitely. So Laura, who works in our customer service department doing pattern support–and some of you might have talked to her or emailed her before–recently wrote an article about this very topic for our blog, the Lion Brand Notebook.

The short explanation is that you can do this if you first make a gauge swatch. Find out the gauge that you get in the yarn that you want to use with the needles or hooks that you actually want to use with that yarn. So start off with a gauge and honestly…

Liz: Make a very big swatch.

Zontee: Yes.

Liz: It can’t be a teeny tiny one.

Zontee: A very large swatch because you want to get a very, very accurate picture of how you’re going to be working as you create this garment or this piece.

Liz: When you’re doing a substitution that involves changing the weight of the yarn, I really recommend you make a very large swatch, as close to eight by eight inches as you can stand to make it. Or bigger is even better. Measure the gauge carefully and write it down.

Then wash your swatch however you plan to wash your garment. If you plan to hand wash it and lay it flat to dry, do that. If you’re going to machine wash and dry it, it’s one of our easy care yarns, go ahead and do that. Then measure the swatch carefully again and record if there’s any different change.

Zontee: Definitely. You’re going to want as complete a picture as possible because this is a change that pattern is not necessarily designed for. So you want to get a really accurate picture of what’s going to happen.

Liz: You may even want to use the tip Lily Chin gave us when she was on our show. And that is to tape up the swatch on the wall, and let it sit for a little while. Then measure the swatch while it’s hanging up.

You would really want to try this, especially if you’re substituting to a heavier weight yarn because that garment is going to then weigh more than it otherwise would have. You want to make sure you’re not going to end up with a dress when you started out to make a crop sweater.

Zontee: [laughs] Exactly, and this is actually going to be the key to all these different resizing things we’re going to be talking about today. It’s really your gauge because that’s going to determine your finished product.

Liz: So now that you know what your gauge is and you know what finished size you need your project to be, you can calculate how many stitches you need to either cast on or chain to start the project.

Then you want to take that number and look through all the sizes listed in the pattern and see if there’s a size that calls for starting with something close to that amount you’ve gotten. Because if there is, you can then just follow the pattern for that size as written, and you’ll end up with a garment that is the size you need.

Zontee: Exactly.

Liz: Say you’re trying to make a sweater that has a 40-inch bust. You do the calculation. You read the pattern and you see with your new yarn you could actually follow the pattern for, say, 36-inch bust. But because you’re using a thicker yarn following the instructions for the 36-inch size, you will end up with a 40-inch sweater.

Zontee: Exactly. And that’s actually something that I’ve done before, and I did actually end up with the right size garment. It was really great. This will also work in the case of things like blankets and such.

If you have a blanket for a worsted weight yarn and you want it to be larger, you could actually use a bulky or super bulky yarn to make your garment larger. Then you’ll end up with a bigger blanket in the same exact pattern. And vice versa if you want to use a thinner yarn and make it smaller.

Liz: Exactly.

Zontee: Of course if you want to do a little bit more personalizing on more specifically referring to sweaters, you can also look at an article that we exerted from Stefanie Japel’s book Fitted Knits in which she explains how you can rejigger some of those patterns to really work.

Both her books, Fitted Knits and Glam Knits are really great resources if you are the kind of person who wants to really make this sweater really personal to you.

Liz: You are going to have to do a little more math in that case. But it’s only a little bit and you can do it.

Zontee: It’s really worthwhile.

Liz: The articles walk you through it really clearly. We’ll be linking to those on the YarnCraft blog.

Zontee: Next, maybe you’ve gone to our Stitch Finder, and you’ve checked out all the different stitches that we have and you say, “Wow! I really love this. How do I take this and turn it into a scarf that’s 30 inches wide?” OK, that might be more of a shawl, but you know what I mean.

Liz: Yeah. [laughs]

Zontee: And however long you want it. Let’s say 72-inches long. Now that you know exactly what you want and the dimensions to be, again, you have to start with a swatch.

Test your hooks and needles to see if you like the fabric that you’re creating with that yarn. I always ask people to start with the recommended size on the label and then move up or down, depending on how you want the feel, the drape, to look.

Once you’re really clear on what your gauge is, I actually find that the easiest way, especially with stitch patterns where there’s a set number of repeats and et cetera, et cetera, is to figure out how big each stitch repeat is instead of maybe doing the stitches per inch because that can change especially with things like lace patterns and circles.

Liz: Exactly.

Zontee: Maybe, my stitch repeat–I’ve done one repeat of the pattern and it gives me 2.5 inches. So, if I want to make something that’s 25 inches wide, then I take my 2.5, divide that into 25, and I know I need to do 10 repeats across of my pattern.

Now, I cast on the number of stitches for that, which would be 10 times whatever the original stitch pattern is. And then I just make it, and I just keep on going until I reach my 72 inches or however far I want it to go.

Liz: Exactly. If you want to use any sort of–if you want to do a garter stitch or single crochet border as you work on the edges of your piece, factor that in as well. You’re going to want to do that on your gauge. So you factor in how much space that takes up.

Zontee: Definitely. Or if you know that you want to do, say, I want a 30 inch total, then I know I would have five inches left over on the edges to do my garter stitch.

Liz: Exactly.

Zontee: And I would need a garter stitch swatch in order to figure out how many stitches that would be on either end.

Liz: Exactly.

Zontee: You can do a little bit of calculation, and then you can actually figure that out.

The other thing that people often ask us is “I have an actual scarf or throw pattern, and I want to change its size, and it is something that has a stitch pattern within it.”

Now if it’s not the kind of thing where you want to change the entire size, like we described earlier with a different weight yarn, and you actually want to increase the number casting on in the original gauge and everything, again, you are going to need to figure out what that stitch pattern is and what the stitch multiple is. That’s how many stitches it takes across to create that pattern.

Sometimes you’ll find that the stitch patterns will actually have a number that they need plus some kind of extra factor that you need at the end of it to make it work out. Say, there’s a garter stitch at one end or the other end.

Liz: Right. Often our patterns will tell you what the stitch multiple is, but if you have to figure it out, you need to look at the pattern as it’s written out. We’ve all seen where there’s an asterisk and then some instructions on individual stitches and then a semicolon, and it says, repeat from the asterisk.

The number of stitches that are in between the asterisk and where it says repeat, that’s your stitch multiple. You want to see what is the largest number of stitches in the pattern that it’s telling you to repeat, and that’s your stitch multiple.

Zontee: Exactly. Again, the number that you are going to be adding will probably be on the outside of those asterisks.

Liz: Exactly.

Zontee: It’s going to be on either end which will be some kind of border stitches.

Liz: Exactly.

Zontee: So to adjust your pattern you’re now going to take your gauge again of how wide that stitch multiple is, and then figure out how wide that is compared to what you want it to be. Then add back on those outside border edge stitches that are in the pattern, and that’s going to be what you’re going to want to cast on for your new size.

Again, because knitting and crocheting is a vertical activity, once you know how many you have to get your width, to get your length you can just work until you get to that length.

Liz: Almost always in patterns, the vertical measurement is given in inches and not in rows because you can just keep working the number of rows until you have the correct length.

Zontee: Exactly. Of course, in some cases you may need to do a little bit of rounding. Let’s say you wanted 35 inches of length, but in order to finish your row repeat, you’re going to need to end up with 36 inches. It’s close. You’re just going to have to decide to go ahead and do it.

So, again, we have a great article by author Barbara Breiter on our website about this very topic. We’re going to link to that, and it’s going to be really helpful to give you some examples of specific knit and crochet projects in which this might be necessary for you.

One final question that we get a lot when it comes to how to use stitch patterns or patterns in general, resizing and all that good stuff is how to actually take a stitch pattern that you like– that you’ve seen on our website or wherever–and actually incorporate it into a basic garment.

We’ve discussed afghans and scarves, flat items that are relatively easy for you to actually add those stitches into or use those stitches for the entire body of it. Well, that’s relatively straightforward.

But maybe you’re talking about something like a hat or even as far as a sweater. That is actually still possible. I find that because of the construction of the hat where the crown of it has a lot of decreasing, that’s not the best place to have a pattern.

Liz: Yes.

Zontee: But on the bottom part where it’s all flat, you can actually have a stitch pattern. This will work, whether you’re working from the top down or the bottom up. What’s important is since you are only going to be doing that pattern on that bottom section, that that’s where you’re really need to be doing your calculations.

Liz: Exactly.

Zontee: I find that if you understand the construction of how to make a hat in general, that’s the best way to approach this because you’re going to want to do it on the simplest hat possible.

We’re actually going to link you over to the Lion Brand Notebook where I actually wrote two articles, one on knitting and one on crocheting, about how to make a basic hat no matter what. That’s going to give you a really good starting point.

Now, for crocheters, if you’re working from the top down for a hat, all you need to do is once you get to that area where you start wanting to do the pattern, make sure that you’ve taken a look at what your stitch is. Think about what the stitch multiple is and figure out how many repeats you’re going to need to get almost to the number that you have now around the circumference of your hat.

Now, if that number’s not exactly right and you need to, say, add two stitches or take away, decrease, one stitch or something. Go ahead on the round before you start this patterning…

Liz: Make that adjustment.

Zontee: Make that adjustment and either increase two or decrease one or whatever it is that you need to do. That actually won’t be very noticeable at all. In fact, unless you were an expert knitter or crocheter staring really hard at somebody’s head, you’re not going to notice. It’s not a big deal.

Go ahead and make that adjustment. Now you have the right number in order to start your stitch pattern and so you can go ahead and go around and around and make that stitch pattern.

For knitters, starting from the cast-on edge up, same general idea. You’re going to want to work in your pattern up to the point where you’re ready to start decreasing. Then in that area I would recommend going into the stockinette stitch. That would probably make it easier.

Liz: Yes or whatever stitch is called for in the pattern you have as written.

Zontee: Right. And at that point, again, you’ll want to adjust, either increasing or decreasing slightly so that you can get the right number for the decrease pattern.

Liz: You’ll just want to increase or decrease so that you’ll have the number of stitches it told you to cast-on at the beginning of the pattern if you had not been working in your pattern stitch.

Zontee: Exactly. Once you make that adjustment, you go ahead and finish your crown decreases and you’ve got a hat.

Liz: Super personalized hat.

Zontee: Exactly, which I think is really fantastic. Now, if you want to take that a step further, our good friends down in the Studio have been teaching the Weekend Retreat Cardi which is a top down sweater. It’s got short sleeves. It’s a really great basic, first-time sweater, if you haven’t made a sweater before.

Even some of their really new students to sweater making for their second sweaters, actually took the same concept and added a little bit of patterning to the bottoms of their sweaters once they got to that body area. They got past the bust, and then they wanted to add a little bit on the bottom.

Liz: So they got past the part where there would be any increasing or decreasing for the shaping. And then, once it was just a more straight rectangular portion, that’s when they added the patterning in.

Zontee: Exactly. Again, you just want to consider where you have the border stitches and then, again, make a little bit of an adjustment if you need to, for the pattern area. Then go ahead and start your pattern stitches, and you’re going to have yourself a great sweater that’s very personal and has a lot of flair.

Liz: If you’ve never done this before and you want to add a stitch pattern into something like a hat or a sweater, I recommend you look for something that has small stitch multiple, maybe just two or three stitches. There are a ton of patterns like that. That is going to require the least amount of those adjustments we were talking about when you’re getting ready to start the portion where there’s shaping.

Zontee: Exactly. And good luck, have fun and don’t forget to swatch.

Liz: Exactly. Swatching is everything. [music]

Zontee: We want to thank all of you for joining us today, and we want to thank those who shared stories, questions and comments.

Liz: Join us again in two weeks when we talk about some of the amazing fiber artists that are part of our community. We will profile a couple of different artists and find out where their inspiration comes from. If you have any great artists you would like us to cover, please leave a comment on our website, yarncraft.lionbrand.com, on Ravelry, or by leaving us a voice mail at 774-452-YARN. That’s 774-452-9276.

Happy yarn-crafting, and as usual our music was “Boy with a Coin” by Iron and Wine from the PodSafe Music Network.[music]


To learn more about the patterns, links, and products discussed in this episode, visit the episode guide.