YarnCraft Episode 63 Transcript :: Must-Have Spring Projects for Men, Women, Children, and Even Pets!

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You’re listening to YarnCraft. [music]

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Zontee:  Welcome to YarnCraft. It’s episode 63 on March 29th, 2010. Thanks for joining us today. I’m Zontee.

Liz:  And this is Liz. And we are the host of YarnCraft.

Zontee:  Stop by YarnCraft.LionBrand.com for more information on the patterns and products that we talk about on today’s episode. And while you’re there, you can also leave your comments or you can also give us a call and leave a voicemail at 774-452-YARN. That’s 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. And today, we want to talk about must-have spring essentials for men, women, children, and even pets. Get inspired to just head-first into spring crafting.

Zontee:  And on today’s “Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life,” we’ll be talking about some great books on the market that make great resources for knitters, crocheters, loom knitters, crafters of all sort.

Liz:  Stay tuned for all that and more. Next on YarnCraft. [music]

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Liz:  So this week, instead of doing our traditional “Hooks and Needles” where Zontee and I talk about our projects, we’re going to maybe just focus on all the great projects you guys are working on.

Zontee:  Yeah, we’ve gotten a lot of great responses on our email account, our boards on Ravelry, on our blogs. So it’s really fun to see what you guys are working on and we love seeing your photos, as we always mention. So let’s just dive right in and share some of the things that people have been working on.

Liz:  Yeah, and Zontee is working away on her sweater and I’m working away on my crochet baby blanket. We’re just not going very fast, but you can always check out Ravelry because we have started posting our pictures. Look for updates there.

Our first email that we want to share is from Paul. It was very cute because in Paul’s first message, he mentions that because he’s a guy and there aren’t always necessarily so many patterns for guys, he was afraid that he’s going to have to learn how to knit socks. And so I was going to respond to that and say, “Paul, don’t be afraid. Come to the sock side. We have more fun.” But I don’t even have to because in his next message, he says he’s already finished his first practice sock and Wool‑Ease. So now he has the process down, he’s moving on to some sock yarn, Sock-Ease yarn, so yay Paul! Welcome.

Zontee:  Yeah, that’s great. And I think that it is important for our male listeners to know that we do love you and we want you to feel included. And we’re sorry if there’s any point where you’re feeling like we’re getting heavy on the lady’s patterns. Don’t forget that you can always call in and…

Liz:  Remind us. Remind us that you’re out there and that you need the shout-outs too.

Zontee:  It’s true. We also got a great photo from Linda, who emailed to share that she was really inspired by some patterns that she found in the same magazine as the sweater that I’m working on that I mentioned last time. And she also just finished one of our ear flap hats in Fishermen’s Wool that looks great on a fetching young man.

Liz:  Yes. I really love the color combination she used here of the Oatmeal with just a little of the Nature’s Brown edging. It’s really classic.

Zontee:  It is classic.

Liz:  Eric maybe getting one of those for next Christmas.

Zontee:  You’re going to ruin the surprise if he listens, though.

Liz:  He says he listens, but we’ll see how far he actually gets into each episode. We’ll see if he hears that one and brings it up. [laughter]

Zontee:  Finally, we also got a note from Sharon, who says that she loves listening to the podcast and she really likes knitting with it because it’s like knitting with a group of friends. And she enjoys the tips and techniques. Thank you, Sharon, for listening and we’re really glad that you’re finding it helpful.

We also want to share a couple of voicemails. So let’s first start off with an update from Jennifer from Washington State, who just tells us a little bit about her project.

Jennifer Sherman:  Hey Liz. Hey Zontee. This is Jennifer Sherman. I live in Aloha, Washington, and I just finished two zip‑back hoodies for my twin nephews. I have nephews, I guess. And they’re a red and a blue and I flip‑flopped the colors so that one has a blue body and one has a red body; and one has a blue hood and one has a red hood. And I sent those off to my stepsister and I can’t wait to see pictures of the boys.

And then I found out my brother is going to be having a little girl so I get to do a pink, maybe pink and brown zipper hoodie for my brother’s little girl. So I’m excited about those and I thought I’d just share. Thanks for your podcast. Bye.

Liz:  Next, we have a call from Karen, who had a question about using Homespun.

Karen Tobby: Hi, my name’s Karen Tobby and I’ve only known about your talk show for the last few months. I’m been listening to it and I enjoy it.

And last week on your episode 61, you had a crocheted shrug that I liked a lot. Very pretty, looks more like a sweater, which is kind of nice because shrugs can sometimes look like–just your arms. So I thought that was really nice.

And I went out and I bought some of the Homespun yarn and I could just not control this yarn at all. I wonder if there’s some sort of tricks to using it. I used all kinds of different sized needles, thinking that that would make a difference, but I couldn’t tell one loop from another. It didn’t seem to be even.

And I’ve been crocheting for a long, long time. So obviously, with that pattern–it’s the dize–so I decided to–I don’t knit with needles, I knit with Knifty Knitter looms.

And I’m going to make that dizeon my Knifty Knitter loom and go from there. Because I am able to use it on the loom and it’s even and pretty on the loom, [laughs] but I just couldn’t seem to do it with a crochet hook. So any tips would be nice. Thanks. Bye.

Liz:  So Karen, thanks so much for calling in. if you’re not used to using a more textured yarn, it can be a little tricky at first. There are some general tips that work well for Homespun or Fun Fur, or really any yarn with a lot going on. One key is to make sure you’re working in a place with good lighting and you’re able to really see the stitches clearly. So if you’re using a dark‑colored yarn, you may want to put a light‑colored blanket or pillow case on your lap. It increases the contrast for the stitches. Or if you’re using a very light‑colored yarn, like white, use a piece of black or dark‑colored cloth.

Zontee:  Loyal listeners might remember that when Lily Chin joined us on Episode 55, we were talking about this particular topic of textured yarns. And we talked about some kind of light box that you can put behind it. So if you happen to be a crafter with a light box, putting a light box behind textured yarn is another way to give yourself better visualization.

Liz:  Or if you don’t have a light box, if you even have a glass coffee table or table, you can always put a flashlight or lamp under there and put your work on top of that. I know I’ve done that in the past. [laughs]

Zontee:  I have done that as well.

Liz:  And if you’re really desperate and you really need just to get a kind of good read of how the stitches look, you can always hold your work up to a window. Another really good tip is to–I know you mentioned you were trying a lot of different hook sizes. Make sure you’re trying big ones, ones that seem almost too big. Because our instinct can sometimes be, when working with an unfamiliar yarn, to tighten up our tension and that’s going to make it even more difficult to figure out which stitch is which.

Zontee:  That’s true.

Liz:  It’s good to just do a practice swatch on a really big hook so you get familiar with the yarn, and then you can fine‑tune to match the gauge to whatever pattern you may be using. So, thank you Karen so much for calling in. We actually have a couple more calls that we’re going to share with you next week. We were so excited to get…we had four; it was great. So we’re doing two this week and two the next, so stay tuned for that. [music]

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Zontee:  We want to start off the main discussion of today’s episode with some of your products. Last week we asked you, “What are you working on this spring?” And we got a bunch of great answers, and particularly on our Ravelry board, we’ve gotten some really good, interesting ones. And we’ve got so many answers that we can’t share them all with you, but we would love for you to stop by the Ravelry group and read them for yourself.

Liz:  Untanglingmymind, which, great name by the way, I need to do some of that to my mind, she says, “I never know how to dress in springtime. In the morning, it’s a damp 40 degrees outside; in the afternoon, it’s a sunny high 70s. So I’m going to make some kind of wrapper shawl with Amazing in the Wildflowers color way, and I’m looking on the PatternFinder, the StitchFinder, for something with lacy, open stitches so I can easily scrunch it up and fit it in my bag when it gets too warm.” I think that’s a great suggestion. That’s the perfect kind of project to do right now. We are also having that kind of extreme weather changes throughout the day in the city right now, so something like this would be perfect.

Zontee:  I agree, and we do have some wonderful lace patterns in both knitting and crochet on the website, and of course if it’s already in a worsted-weight yarn, you can certainly substitute Amazing in and check that out. Lots of great options. Our next comment was from divamaglia who says, “It’s about time that I design a sweater for myself given that I make so many alterations to patterns already. And I plan to make a cap-sleeved top-down raglan in Cherry Cotton‑Ease with a deep square neckline.”

I think that that’s a really great idea to take this opportunity. Spring is a time for lighter garments, and it’s a good time to experiment: try new things. And if you’re already doing a lot of alterations on patterns, why not design something all on your own? I think that’s a really good idea.

Liz:  Yes, and I think that sounds like a great looking sweater. I really love square necklines right now, so I think that will be great.

Zontee:  Mm‑hm. And you’ll definitely want to keep listening, divamaglia, because we’re going to be talking about a great resource book for Sweater design later in our stash this this segment.

Liz:  Finally drizzle, another great name, on Ravelry, says, “Spring in the South is all about ‘wrap and peel.’ I’m looking forward to making a cardigan, but–” and she’s got a few different options that she’s looking at, but she says, “I need to make a decision soon, or tank tops will be the only option.”

Zontee:  That’s always how I feel like; you get to the point in this season when you’re starting to think what you need, and you’re like, “Uh‑oh, if I don’t finish it, I’m not going to make it in time to wear it this season, so let’s all get cranking and…”

Liz:  Exactly.

Zontee:  Make some products fast.

Liz:  Now is the moment. Let’s seize it and go. Also, Drizzle, you have an adorable puppy in your Ravelry avatar. It’s so cute!

Zontee:  Now that we’ve talked about some of the great products that you guys are excited to make for this season, let’s talk about items that we’ve been seeing on our PatternFinder. Some of these are newer items, some of them are classics. And these are great Spring‑y projects for everybody in your family, so let’s start off with the gents.

Liz:  I know a lot of guys, they really look forward to Spring as being able to get back out into the outdoors, and one way to do that is on the golf course. So we’ve got a great set of Golf Club Covers, which are a really cute cabled pair with a great contrasting pom‑pom. The pattern is in Lion Wool on our website, but you could very easily substitute Vanna’s Choice, and then you have a whole palette of color options available to you.

Zontee:  Yeah, I think that it’s really great and you can really personalize it to anybody. So, it’s a good way to incorporate yarn into your sporting.

Liz:  Exactly.

Zontee:  Another great pattern that I really like for men in the spring is this Cotton‑Ease hat. It’s the Graphite Seed‑Stitch Hat. And the reason I like this is because Cotton‑Ease is obviously is a great wearing hat for the season, and I know some of our men friends are sporting the very short‑hair look right now, but in the cooler mornings, maybe you want a little extra warmth so that cool breeze doesn’t nip you.

Liz:  Exactly.

Zontee:  And finally…

Liz:  Doesn’t Spring just seem to bring with it ideas of wandering down to the sidewalk cafe and sitting around with your laptop, and just relaxing?

Zontee:  Yeah, or a day in the park, just relaxing out in the sun.

Liz:  So why not make a little Felted Laptop Sleeve to protect your laptop as you’re wandering out and about in the new warm weather?

Zontee:  I definitely agree with that; I think I really needed a good laptop sleeve that I could just take around with me, and the great thing about a felted one is that you can really customize it to any size.

Liz:  Mm‑Hm.

Zontee:  And it’s so simple. We’ve shown you the basic construction techniques here, and we’ve given it a little strap so you can tighten it and close it, but again you can customize it to any size, color, really make it your own. You could even embellish it; I’m thinking you’d get that great needle felter?

Liz:  Oh, yeah.

Zontee:  And you can needle‑felt some designs with some loose yarn.

Liz:  Yes.

Zontee:  Very cool.

Liz:  For women, we’ve got some great cardigan options that hopefully will help Drizzle and others like her out in the decision-making process. One I really love is our Essential Jacket. It’s done in crochet. We show it in the lime Cotton-Ease, but I really think you could do this in two strands of the Cotton Bamboo held together, and only have to fiddle a little bit with the gauge. And I think, so, if you’re somewhere in the south, that might be an even better warm‑weather choice.

Zontee:  Hm. That’s a nice idea, and that has a beautiful, Spring‑y palette of colors as well. We also have the Easy Lace Shrug. I love the simple, simple, simple construction on this shrug, and I also like that it features this beautiful but pretty simple lace pattern on the back that makes it really flattering and just attractive. We show it in the Vanna’s Choice, which gives you tons of color options, but again, if you’re going even cooler, I think it would be really beautiful in the Cotton-Ease or…

Liz:  Cotton-Ease is great for lace: has very nice stitch definition. So I think this would be stunning in one of the many Cotton-Ease colors.

Zontee:  When it comes to Spring crafting, of course, we want to include your children and the little ones in your life as well, so we’ve got some great Cotton-Ease and Vanna’s Choice Baby Options.

Liz:  I like Patrick’s First Jacket, as we call the pattern. That’s a long-sleeve cardigan done in, again, Cotton‑Ease. Spring’s all about those cottons!

Zontee:  It really is.

Liz:  What I love about this is that it has some great contrast striping across the upper chest and then color block contrast sleeves, so it’s really bright, it’s really fun, and if you start knitting really fast right now, you probably will get some use out of it before summer!

Zontee:  [laughs] That’s for sure. It’s also still a great project because I know that when I was a kid, we would go up north to Maine a lot in the summer, and actually it gets very cool there, so you still want to have a nice sweater or jacket in the evenings when you have…

Liz:  Oh, I’m the veteran of several summers at sleep‑away camp in northern Maine, so I know: it gets cold.

Zontee:  It does get cold, so your kids will get usage out of these jackets.

Liz:  Yes, absolutely. For as it gets a little warmer, you may want to check out the Wii Vest. I think this is probably a great compromise garment, because I know when I was a kid, I never wanted to wear my jacket, but my mom always made me. So this is a nice Sleeveless Vest, but it’s got a hood on it, so I feel like that’s a nice middle ground.

Zontee:  I agree. And I think it’s just a really charming, simple silhouette, so, very cute.

Liz:  Yeah, it’s so simple to construct, this will take you no time at all to put together. It’s done in Vanna’s Choice Baby, but of course that’s completely interchangeable with Vanna’s Choice. So, any color in your kid’s wardrobe, you can find in those yarns.

Zontee:  Finally, we have the Child’s Playtime Top. This is a really cute dress or top, tunic top, for a little girl. And it is done in the Cotton-Ease, but again you can also switch it in the Vanna’s Choice Baby and get some more color options if you prefer that.

Liz:  What’s great about this top is that you can make it to fit a two-year-old as a full dress, but as she gets older, she can still continue wearing it as an a‑line top, so it’s one of those garments that really are going to be usable for many years.

Zontee:  Finally, when you’re crafting this spring we want you to keep the four-legged friends in mind, so we’ve got a couple of cute pet projects as well to talk about. One project I really like is our Door Hanger Bouncy Cat Toy. It’s basically what it describes in the name. It’s got a ball at the end of this bouncy kind of string or cord and it bounces around when your cat plays with it. We all know that cats really love playing with things that are hanging off of other things, hence the chasing of the yarn.

Liz:  Oh yes. Maybe you can hang this up while you’re yarn crafting and maybe put a little bell or even a little catnip in the ball before you stuff it. This will entrench your cat and keep the cat away from the yarn. I know this time of year a lot of people start opening up their porches and patios and certainly animals enjoy getting out in the fresh air as much as we do, so I really love the Sophisticated Stripe Pampered Paws Felt Pet Mat. Since they’re felted, they’re very durable, so you can make a couple and keep one out on the patio or the porch. Even when it’s a little too cool to lay on the surface your pet can still hang out outside with you.

Zontee:  That’s a nice idea. Speaking of being outside with your pet, I find that it’s always good to have some kind of toy that you can play with your, say, dog outside with. Dogs love pulling on things, so we’ve got a great dog toy pattern that’s really simple to construct and it’s fun because your dog grabs one end and you grab the other and they pull, pull, pull.

Liz:  Tug of War. It’s classic.

Zontee:  It’s true. So lots of fun options that hopefully will keep you crafting and excited for the spring.

Liz:  Definitely keep adding your comments to our Ravelry thread or on the blog. We want to know what is your must‑have project for this seasons. [music]

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Zontee:  On today’s Stash This we’re going to be talking about some great books that are good resources for crafters of all sorts. Of course, nowadays you can find so much information online, but sometimes it’s nice just to have one book that really fleshes out a specific topic and can be used as a reference wherever you are.

Liz:  No matter what sort of question you have about yarn crafting or what particular kind of yard crafting you’re into there’s a book, or ten, about that topic for you to choose from. We’re just going to go over some of the classics we’ve found that are really useful. For knitters, there’s Barbara Breiter’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting, which I believe is actually the book I used when I was starting to teach myself how to knit and crochet.

Zontee:  Yeah, and Barbara has years of experience teaching and designing, so I think she has a good insight into how people think. I also really like Crocheting In Plain English as a good reference book as well as The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by our friend Margaret Hubert, which is great if you’re a visual learner because it really has wonderful large format photos for you to follow.

Liz:  And color photos. Even people who would categorize themselves as visual learners can have really different approaches about whether they prefer photos or illustrations, so it’s always good to look at a variety of different books to see which format makes the most sense to you.

Zontee:  Agreed. Another great reference book is The Vogue Knitting Ultimate Knitting Book as well as their Stitchionaries. They’re more like stitch dictionaries, but I think, in both cases, very useful references. Of course, the Ultimate Knitting book is for knitters, but the Stitchionaries are for both knitting and crochet books. Moving on to maybe when you’re a little bit more advanced, something that we, of course, found really useful is Lily Chin’s Knitting Tips and Tricks and Crochet Tips and Tricks, which she talked about in Episode 55. Jackie, who is our technical editor and has been in this business for a very long time, still found them incredibly useful and still learned a lot from them. I think they’re great if you want some insider tricks to either craft.

Liz:  If you’re looking to do some designing of your own, in addition to the Stitchionaries that Zontee mentioned, check out some books about garment sizing. The Ann Bud series of the Handy Book of Patterns, of which there are a few variants, those are great because they give you basic formulas and a calculator. You pick a yarn, you pick a gauge, you pick a silhouette and a size. It tells you how to put them all together and come up with a pattern that you can work from.

Zontee:  That’s right and it covers everything from hats and mittens and smaller items to larger things like sweaters. I think that’s really useful if you want to be working from your own designs instead of preexisting patterns.

Liz:  A new book in that vein is Shirley Paden’s Knitwear Design Workshop. I think it’s just been out a little under a month. We’re really excited about it up in the Design department. A lot of us have copies and we’re just really enjoying it. It’s a huge book and it’s got so much information. Any question you have I’m sure this answers about knitting design.

Zontee:  Other crafts you might be interested are loom knitting. I know that’s something that people tell us over and over again they’re really interested in and they really enjoy. There are a couple of different really great books by Isella Phelps. She has two basic books as well as a loom knitting book just on socks. They’re a really useful resource not only when you’re teaching yourself, but as you’re advancing so you can get some sort of concept of how to design using a loom. In terms of other kinds of looms, you may also want to check out a new book from Noreen Crone-Findlay that is called The Woven Bag, in which she uses everything from spool knitters to potholder looms to take yarn and turn it into different woven fabrics. It’s a great book, not only for adults, but also a good way to connect with your kids because these are sometimes easier for kids to pick up on.

Liz:  If you’ve been bitten by the weaving bug and actually have gotten maybe one of the little cricket looms like we sell downstairs in our studio and in our catalog, you may want to check out Weaving Made Easy by Liz Gibson, which is a very thorough introduction starting at the very beginnings of what weaving is and how it works and taking you through some really great projects.

Zontee:  If you have any favorite books that you really enjoy working with, whether it’s on techniques or specific areas or just reference books please let us know and we’d love to share that information.

Liz:  The world of books about yarn crafting is so vast. I know these are just a few of the great resources and I’m sure you all have many great suggestions. [music]

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

Liz:  Join us again in two weeks when we talk about great projects for mother’s day. Tell us about your current project or, if you’re a mom, weigh in on what you would love to get or give this Mother’s Day. Leave a comment on your website, YarnCraft.LionBrand.com, on Ravelry, or by leaving us a voicemail at 774‑452‑YARN. That’s 774‑452‑9276.

And, as usual, our music was Boy With A Coin by Iron & Wine from the Podsafe music network. [music]

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