You’re listening to YarnCraft. [music]
Zontee: Welcome to YarnCraft. It’s episode 65 on April 27th, 2010. Thanks for joining us today. I’m Zontee.
Liz: And this is Liz, and we’re the hosts of YarnCraft.
Zontee: Stop by YarnCraft.LionBrand.com for more information about the patterns, products, and websites that we talk about on today’s episode. And while you’re there you can also leave your comments or you can give us a call and leave us a voice mail at 774-452-YARN, that’s 9276. And we’d love to hear your stories and suggestions so that we can share them on the show.
Liz: As usual we’re here at the Lion Brand Design Center in New York City. And today we’re talking about our absolute favorites. That’s everything from favorite tips and techniques, to music and movies, to yarn too. We’ve asked you, our listeners, to give us your feedback and we’ll be sharing it on the episode today.
Zontee: And on today’s “Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life” we’ll be talking about finishing techniques. Things from seeming to tips on blocking, adding edging to customize a design and so much more. It’s a “Stash This” that’s definitely going to come in handy.
Liz: Stay tuned for all of that and more, next on YarnCraft. [music]
Zontee: Starting off our episode we’re going to do a quick update of our projects on our hooks and needles. I’m very happy to announce that my sweater has been done.
Liz: It’s super cute.
Zontee: It is pretty cute, huh? And you can see it on our YarnCraft group in Ravelry, so if you want to check that out, please do. So now I can get back to my South Bay Shawlette in the sunbeam color of the silk mohair, and pretty excited to pick that back up.
Liz: I finished my Cheerful Squares Baby Blanket in the Cotton Bamboo from the LB Collection, just in time to get it washed and blocked and have it dry by the time I had to leave for the baby shower. And I also finished the little booties as well. And they were all… They were both given, delivered to the expected mother, all very well received. So I was very excited. I’ve got pictures of both on Ravelry. Though the pictures of the booties are really bad because I was taking them in the middle of the night, the night before I had to leave when I finished them.
Zontee: It’s OK, we forgive you.
Liz: You know, but there’s a pretty decent picture of the blanket that was finished a little sooner.
Zontee: Yeah, I thought it looked wonderful.
Liz: And I just want to say thank you so much for the people who gave me encouragement on our blog. DCAlane, thank you. And also the people who left such nice comments on Ravelry. I really didn’t think I was going to get it done in time for the shower. I was really happy that I got it finished.
Zontee: I’m happy for you as well. Speaking of great comments, on our blog we got two good ones that were related to last time’s episode about Mother’s Day gifts. One was from Monica who mentioned that she had made the Amigurumi Pincushion Tea Cup for her mother for Christmas, but she added a saucer, which really, you know, completed the look. So I think that that’s a great idea. And very simple, because all you really need to do is crochet a circle.
Liz: Exactly. And Angel shared a pattern for finger-down finger-tipless gloves. It’s a free pattern from the summer, 2006 Knitty called Knucks, which is done exactly how Zontee and I theorized it would have to be done. But it’s good that there’s a nice thorough pattern that can walk you through, should you choose to engage in that process. Also Zontee and I were really amused and heartened to see a thread on Ravelry entitled “We Miss the Sirens,” about people who have noticed that we have slightly fewer background noises.
Zontee: So just to clear up a couple of rumors, unfortunately Liz and I are not in a high rise building and we are not sipping martinis while dressed…
Liz: Or cosmopolitans.
Zontee: Right. Or while dressed like we’re on the set of Mad Men, although we really appreciate that fantasy and we support your imagining of us in that situation.
Liz: That’s kind of how we like to imagine ourselves, so we’re all together there in the fantasy world.
Zontee: It’s good.
Liz: But it doesn’t quite match up with the reality of us sitting on the…second floor in an ancient building, drinking water.
Zontee: That’s about more right, actually.
Liz: Yeah, that’s kind of where we actually are.
Zontee: Yes. If you’ve ever had a chance to visit the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York City, that is in fact our Design Center. And so it’s a New York loft building in that older style, which is really beautiful. We have these beautiful pressed tin ceilings. But not quite as glamorous as Madison Avenue, perhaps.
Zontee: And in terms of the background noise, it must have just been a quiet day in New York because we actually don’t edit for background noise. And…
Liz: I particularly had to laugh when I saw the comment about how our sound engineer must enjoy it. The sound engineer is Zontee. She does all the editing and then posting of the podcast online and everything, so…
Zontee: Yeah, we do all of our production ourselves.
Zontee: So again, we appreciate the fantasy of this really cool set up, but not quite the reality.
Liz: Yeah. Maybe it encourages people to know even from Lion Brand this is a very DIY effort. So if you’re interested in doing a podcast, you too can go on and do one on your own.
Zontee: It’s very true. And so far it’s been a quiet day here in New York, so who knows. Maybe we’ll get a siren, maybe we won’t.
Liz: Exactly. It is just kind of spooky quiet right now. It’s nice.
Zontee: Moving on, we’ve got a great phone call from Virginia in Michigan. So we’re going to share that now.
Virginia: Oh, hello. This is Virginia Raimi in Michigan and I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your show. I happened to click on my email on the Lion Brand Yarn to check out the patterns and somehow I went to the podcast and heard you speaking. It was just so refreshing to relax away from all the stresses of… But I’m usually working, I don’t usually take time out to relax and just talking… hearing other women talking about yarn and everything I’ve knitted all my life and crocheted and…
It just inspired me to try some small project because my health is breaking and I need to relax more. So I just wanted you to know how great you are and that I think you’re doing a great work there. And so I just thought I’d let you know. Thank you, bye bye.
Liz: Thanks so much, Virginia, for calling in. We hope more of you will call in for our next episode.
Zontee: And finally we got a great email from Bea in Montreal. She says that she loves the podcast and at the risk of sounding like a total yarn geek, she feels that we are celebrities. Ooh!
Zontee: Liz, we’re celebrities. How very cool.
Zontee: So she says that she’s 19 and she lives in Montreal and she has been bedridden for over a year. And so knitting and crochet are the only things that are keeping her sane. And she wants to first off get her hands on some Lion Brand yarns so that she can see what they feel like. And Bea, we want you to know that we would be happy to send you some color cards as a gift from us to you. So just shoot us an email with your information and we’d be happy to get those out to you so that you can get your hands on the Vanna’s Choice and Sock‑Ease and Cotton‑Ease that you’re interested in. And finally she asks us, what is your all time favorite Lion Brand Yarn and why? And that’s great for our favorites episode. So Liz, do you want to take a crack at this?
Liz: This is so hard for me to answer because it really feels a lot like having to pick like a favorite kid. Because every yarn is such an involved process to get it from the beginning of an idea all the way to the point where it’s for sale on the counters. And people are using it and enjoying it. That like, it’s really emotionally intense with each yarn.
Liz: So usually the yarn I’m most excited about is whatever one I’m currently, or whichever ones, plural usually, are currently in the pipeline and are about to come out. So the ones I can’t talk about right now because there are three that are all extremely exciting that will be coming out later this summer or early fall.
Zontee: Can you give us any hint? Are we going to be really excited?
Liz: You’re going to be really excited. I think we’re introducing some yarns in our regular collection that hopefully will be available in a lot of stores. It’ll still give a real kind of luxury feel for people in their projects.
Zontee: Woo. I could always go for some affordable luxury.
Liz: Exactly. Then there’s one really special LB Collection yarn that people will understand why it’s special to me when it comes out.
Zontee: In terms of my favorite yarns, right now I’m really liking the LB Collection Superwash Merino for sweaters. I’m kind of in sweater mode. So I’ve been planning a lot of them. I just finished that one in Superwash Merino. I have two others in the pipeline that are possible Superwash Merino projects. I’m feeling pretty good about those. But in terms of project yarns for gifts, and I do a lot of gift knitting and crocheting. It’s kind of a big thing for me. My favorite is honestly, Wool‑Ease Thick & Quick. I know that sounds a little lazy, but I like a quick finished project. It makes me feel good to know that in a couple of hours I can have a gift and send it off to somebody, and be happy about it.
Liz: I don’t think it’s lazy. I think it’s a practical strategy that enables you to make as many gifts as possible.
Zontee: Thank you Liz.
Liz: So we hope that answers your question. I know I was very vague and noncommittal, but there’s so many great yarns. Who could pick one? [music]
Zontee: Today’s episode is all about your favorites and our favorites.
Liz: Does anyone else have the song from the “Sound of Music” running through their head? “These are a few of my favorite things?”
Zontee: I didn’t but now I think I might.
Liz: That’s a little gift from me to you, everyone listening, enjoy.
Zontee: So we took a quick survey of our listeners, you guys, on Ravelry, and we got some great responses. Quite a few of you responded with your favorites, that’s tips, techniques, yarn crafting websites, books, music to craft to, audio books, movies, people to craft with or for. And anything else that you could come up with. So let’s see, overall trends that we saw a lot of.
Liz: Well, not surprisingly given the medium, we got a lot of Raverly.com and LionBrand.com fans, two very popular websites.
Zontee: It may be a little bit skewed, guys.
Liz: Yeah. Probably not a total representative sample, but you know. They both are chock full of information.
Zontee: Definitely. And of course, some of our favorite websites that came up with you guys as well were things like “CrochetMe.com”…
Zontee: ”Knitty.com.” So lots of these great websites that have resources that make it really easy to learn new skills online.
Liz: And that are all totally free. So that’s… It’s amazing when you take a minute and stop and think of all the information that’s free out there on the Internet just related to yarn crafting.
Zontee: Exactly. Other things that were kind of givens… We knew that they were going to come up, but of course, they were very popular among our listeners ‑ zip lock bags, not only for project bags but also to keep your yarn clean, to keep them from rolling around, to feed your yarn through. Lots of uses for zip top bags. Of course, lifelines. One of our listeners in fact wrote, “Lifelines, lifelines, lifelines,” three times so that you just got the point of how important it really is. That is a skill that we find really useful, and I’ve found has saved my butt a couple of times.
Liz: For those of you who may not know what a lifeline is, it’s when you are making really any sort of complicated project. But people used it a lot in the lace knitting, where you thread a narrow piece of thread, really, or people even use waste yarn, dental floss, something smooth that’s not going to distort your stitches. Thread it through a place in your work where you know everything is correct from that point backwards. Because then if you go forward and you realize you’ve made a catastrophic error instead of having seven scallops, you have 14 triangles or something crazy. You can take the whole thing off your needles, rip back, and the lifeline will catch the stitches at the point where they’re correct, so you won’t drop any of the stitches.
Zontee: Other things that we found really interesting was that we have a lot of Harry Potter fans ‑ something that we support here…
Liz: Are you a Harry Potter fan?
Zontee: I enjoy some Harry Potter, and I can understand why knitters and crocheters appreciate Harry Potter because there are some beautiful knit and crocheted garments not only in the films, but also they talk about it throughout the books. So I can see why there’s a little bit of an affinity right there.
Zontee: Speaking of affinities for knit and crocheted things in movies or film or TV, we had quite a few sci‑fi fans as well who mentioned everything from, Firefly of course the Jayne hat which…
Liz: …continues to be a phenomenon.
Zontee: As well as Dr. Who with the scarf, the Dr. Who scarf.
Liz: I’m definitely way behind on the modern “Who” I don’t think the scarf is such a thing in the modern series, at least not in the first few. Hopefully, they’ve worked it back in.
Zontee: Yeah. So it’s interesting that things like science fiction can tie so well into yarn crafts. We’re really happy to see that you guys were excited about those things. Now before we move on to your favorites, Liz do you have a favorite tip, technique, yarn project, anything you want to share with us?
Liz: My favorite thing in relating to yarn crafting besides just the yarn, I want to give a shout out just for audio books in general. Because I love to read. When I first started to knit, I found I was reading a lot less because I’m not one of the… I tried. I tried to figure out ways to hold books and knit at the same time and could never make that work. So then when I found audio books, it was just a really natural combination for me. So I really enjoy that. What about you, Zontee?
Zontee: I’m going to share a favorite pattern.
Zontee: It was more of an inspiration pattern because I’m not totally sure that I would make it. But it inspires me to create beautiful things. That would be the Dressmaker Details Cardigan in our pattern collection on LionBrand.com. It’s just such an incredible, beautiful cardigan with so many interesting details. I feel like it’s one of those pieces that you look at and you can take little pieces of the whole and incorporate those into other projects if you don’t want to make the entire thing.
Liz: I also really love that pattern, too. People who look at our notebook on Ravelry might notice down at the very bottom, a little frogged swatch for that cardigan that I was going to make years ago. But then, I also realized that maybe the giant collar wasn’t necessarily for me, so then I just thought maybe I’ll just figure out ways to incorporate these elements that I like. The princess seaming, the cables, into other projects.
Zontee: Exactly. OK. So let’s dive right into comments from you, our listeners.
Liz: We’re just kind of going to go randomly through all these great comments because there were really so many, it’s kind of impossible to organize them. One comment I really liked was from Cinderga is the simple declarative, “I love socks,” and not just because she says that she knew she wanted to knit socks when she saw her first ball of Lion Brand Magic Stripes, which is our older self‑patterning sock yarn. But Cinderga says it took her five years and several tries to finally get the first sock done, but it was totally worth it.
I agree. I find socks a very satisfying project.
Zontee: Speaking of socks, Drizzle mentioned that one of her favorite techniques is nine‑inch circulars for socks. It took a little time to get used to them, she says, but now she’s hooked. She’s also becoming addicted to dyeing yarn.
Liz: That’s given me encouragement, Drizzle, because I did pick up a nine‑inch circular in the sock sizes. I had them special order them in the studio for me. But the first time I tried it I got so frustrated, I haven’t tried again since. But I’ll try again. I’ll keep an open mind.
Zontee: You know I’ve tried them for sleeves and I really like them for that.
Zontee: I feel like they make you move really quickly because you don’t have to tinker so much. It’s not like Magic Loop or Double Points. I like them. I feel that they are very smooth. Like she said, there’s a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get past that, they’re very enjoyable.
Liz: See, I am like the wind with my Double Points. We understand each other. We work. But I’ll give the nine-inch circulars a try. I also really like Drizzle’s sock tip, which was: start the second sock RIGHT AFTER finishing the first. That’s “right after”, both capitalized and italicized. That’s how important it is. I think that goes for anything that’s pairs: socks, mittens, leg warmers, wristers, sleeves on a sweater. As soon as you fasten off that first one, cast on for the second one.
Zontee: I agree. Either do them one after the other, right away, or else do them at the same time if you have that ability. If you have two sets of needles or if you can do them two socks on two circs or there are a lot of different methods. But I find it very useful so that you get them to be the same size because I have made this mistake before, people. I once made a pair of wristers for a friend, and trust me, once was definitely bigger than the other. It was not good. They may have blocked out so that they looked the same size, but they definitely didn’t feel the same size, and that is not so good.
Liz: Yeah. I’m sure your friend didn’t even notice.
Zontee: If she did, she was too polite to mention.
Liz: That’s a good friend.
Zontee: [laughs] And one more sock related comment that we got was from DivaMaglia, who said that one of her favorite people to yarn craft for is her husband, who luckily likes handmade socks.
Liz: I’m afraid to make my husband a pair of handmade socks because I’m afraid he will like them. Then I’ll be spending the rest of my yarn crafting life making socks in a size 13.
Zontee: [laughs] Moving on past socks, let’s talk about some more great tips. UntanglingMyMind shared that she uses lever‑backed earrings as stitch markers and she keeps them on a charm bracelet for easy access. I think that’s a very fun tip and it makes it so that your stitch markers are both fashion statement and very practical.
Liz: Yeah, very convenient to keep them on a charm bracelet. There’s one thing I’ve learned in interacting with all our customers on Ravelry and Facebook and our website. It’s that there’s pretty much an infinite variety of things that could be used to make stitch markers. You have no excuse for losing your place in your yarn crafting.
Zontee: We heard from Josh, a longtime commenter and listener. He said that his favorite tip is using plastic bag ties from bread or English muffin or bagel bags as bobbins. It’s a good excuse to never put them back on the bag again because he’s a guy and he just twists the bag, and puts the tail under. That’s his story. He’s sticking to it. But it’s definitely a good use of plastic bag ties, those little bobbiny shaped things, practically.
Zontee: They’re almost the right shape. But they also made me think of twisty ties, which would also make good stitch markers.
Liz: Yes. If you just have an excess of twisty ties and are looking for things to do with them, CarolynR57 suggests stripping the paper off them and then using them as a needle for stringing beads onto yarn because the wire is soft enough to bend and twist around into a needle shape, but will still fit through the eye of small beads. I did one experimental beaded knitting project several years ago and that would have been a really useful technique because it is kind of tough to find a needle that has a big enough eye to fit your yarn through it, but is still small enough to go through beads.
Zontee: That’s a really good point.
Liz: People also recommend using dental floss threaders for that, which is good. That’s another thing that you might have around your house that you could repurpose. DCAlane, who’s become quite the regular commentator, thank you, has a good tip that I had not thought of. She stores patterns and links to patterns she finds online using one of her email accounts that has good search functionality. Because she can just email the link or the copy of the pattern to herself and then just do a quick search for whatever type of project she’s looking for, and that way she only has to print something out when she actually wants to knit it, which I think is really brilliant.
Zontee: I think that’s really good tip.
Liz: Way more organized than having a binder. Or, if you’re me, a stack of papers in the general vicinity of a binder that one day you’re going to organize into grouped projects.
Zontee: Also that makes me think of the service, Delicious.com, which is a bookmarking site that I use. That way, you can log in from any computer anywhere and see all your bookmarks in one place and you can tag them and add notes. That would be a really great way to store your patterns as well. Because you can find them anywhere. Another technology related tip was from Kattalyne, and she says that she carries around her patterns on her iPod Touch or her iPhone by using an app to download them as PDFs and keep them on there.
Related to that, Lion Brand also has an iPhone app that allows you to access patterns and yarn information while you’re on the go as long as you have service. That’s really great because you can also save your favorites so you can refer back to them.
It’s a really good tool when you’re shopping as well because if you’re in a store and you’re looking at, say, Homespun Yarn, you can use the app to pull up Homespun patterns, and pick a pattern that you want to use right away so that you know how many balls you need to buy. I think that that is pretty nifty.
Liz: One last tip we wanted to share, that I thought was really good, was from joyisintheJourney, who is a new knitter but has a very wise perspective, I think. She suggests always have a project that’s a little harder than your current skill level so you have something to work on that’ll challenge your skill set. Because if you mess up, it’s no big deal. There’s no deadline or need for absolute perfection. And as someone else commented, you can always rope your yarn back and reuse it. It’s not like cutting fabric or cutting wood for wood crafting.
Zontee: Knitting yarn is very forgiving.
Liz: The yarn’s always going to forgive you, it’s going to be OK.
Zontee: So now let’s move on to some fun things because we figured it would be interesting to see what kinds of books you listen to or read or movies. Things like that that you really enjoy. So interestingly enough, we also asked, “What are some movies with yarn crafting actually in them that you really enjoyed?” It was fun to see what people came up with because some of these movies, I didn’t even realize had any yarn crafting in them. UntanglingMyMind told us that A Tale of Two Cities and The Emperor’s New Groove both have yarn crafting in them.
Liz: Madame Dufarge, she’s nefarious, but knitterly.
Zontee: But knitterly.
Liz: Josh, we love your comments. I don’t know if the sweater that Zack Quinto wears as Spock in the new Star Trek movie counts as knitting in a movie. I mean, it is a knit but no one is actively knitting it. But we do both agree with your “purr” on the Zack Quinto.
Liz: So we’ll let it slide this time.
Zontee: This time. [laughs]
Liz: WickedStash reminded me that in a few episodes… There are a few episodes of Friends scattered throughout its 10 season run where Monica is knitting. That reminded me that there is a very funny scene where, at least, I think Chandler and Phoebe are helping Monica. Like acting as a swift in helping Monica wind yarn into a ball and they’re all connected together. They keep having to run around the apartment for various things. Good comic relief.
Zontee: Oh, that’s clever. I never noticed that, but I wish I had noticed now.
Liz: No idea what episode it’s in, but somewhere there’s a dim memory of it.
Zontee: That’s very interesting. And one more something that I just thought was cute was from DCAlane who said, “My five year old has been known to ask me, what’s more important, knitting or your kids?” That’s a tough one to answer sweetheart.
Liz: Don’t make people choose. That’s just not a good idea.
Zontee: And she’s also looking forward to Friday Night Knitting Club, the movie, as are we.
Liz: Yes, several people commented on that. I think we are all really looking forward to that. It’s been a while. But I have noticed that, apparently, Friday Night Knitting Club must have been very popular. Because last time I was in Barnes & Noble, I noticed at least two other books that were in the same vein as that book, definitely all about knitting and communities around knitting. So if you love reading about knitting in addition to yarn crafting, you may want to go to your local bookstore and see what they have available.
Zontee: Finally, we want to talk a little bit about who do you yarn craft for or with. Inkstain tells us she likes to craft for her friend, Stacy, in Colorado because number one, it’s actually cold there. And number two, she thinks that I’m a genius. I can understand that. It’s nice to make things for people who really appreciate it.
Liz: Yeah. I knit a lot for my friend who lives in California and I would wear that this makes no sense, but I just can’t stop. [laughter]
Zontee: Josh also had a good comment about who he likes to craft with-slash-for.
Liz: He apparently is having a tough time finding other male yarn crafters on the south coast of Massachusetts. So he is going to make them himself. He is teaching his boyfriend to crochet. Or reteaching since apparently, his boyfriend’s grandmother had taught him many years ago, which is something we hear a lot. Apparently there are a lot of grandmothers teaching their grandsons to knit and crochet, which I say more power to all of them. But Josh, I think… [mumbles] I think your boyfriend might see through your plot to double the stash available.
Liz: So, you know, good luck with that, but it might be a little transparent.
Zontee: Sculdintape on Ravelry tells us that she likes to craft with her bestest mate because they’re like two old ladies–she says, “No offense”–when they get together with their knitting in crocheting. “She appreciates everything that I make for her so much,” she says. And again, it’s the appreciation factor and sometimes it’s nice to make things for other yarn crafters, because they know the kind of work that goes into the end product.
Liz: Definitely. And then kind of on the other end of the appreciation scale, ThatDeanGirl says that her favorite people to yarn craft for are babies because they can’t complain and it all knits up so fast. [laughter]
Liz: And I think that’s true. The baby is not going to notice that drop stitch.
Zontee: It’s true.
Liz: Yup. [music]
Liz: On today’s “Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life” we’re going to talk about finishing. That category that takes care of all those odds and ends that happen after the main work of the yarn craft project is done. And maybe you’re like me and you consider the actual knitting and crocheting the fun part and the finishing the obnoxious part you have to get through before you can start the next project part.
Zontee: That’s true, but someone once told me that finishing can be the difference between home made and hand made and I think that’s really important. You want to do a nice job on finishing so that you really honor the work that you’ve put into the piece up to that point.
Liz: It’s really true. So even though I don’t like all the finishing work, I try and make it as fun for myself as possible. I’ll either wait till I have something special to watch on TV and watch that while I do it, or get a new audio book. As I already mentioned I love them. [laughter]
Liz: I’ll get those and listen to that, something to make me excited about that part of the process, too. One of the parts of finishing… You have to deal with them pretty much every project is weaving and ends. That can range from just one tail at the beginning and end of a one ball scarf, to I’ve heard of, Fair Isle and Intarsia sweaters that have quite literally three, four, five, hundred ends in them.
Zontee: I don’t think that I’m going to be making one of those any time soon. I’m going to be honest.
Liz: They’re not on my horizon. But some people, it’s what they’re really into. So weaving in ends is one of those things that you can actually take steps while you’re making your project to make that part as fast when you’re done. One thing to consider is, “Are any of your edges in this project going to be seamed?” If so, leave a long tail at the beginning of your project. Because then you can use that to sow it up later and that means two less ends that you have to weave in.
Zontee: Good point.
Liz: And you could also… There are various techniques for working in ends as you go. That really saved me on doing all those granny squares, which were each four colors for the baby blanket I made.
Zontee: Yeah, crocheting over ends as you change colors is a really great technique.
Liz: It’s such a life saver. But there are methods for doing that in knitting. Depending on the thickness of your yarn, sometimes you can just hold the tail of the old yarn and the tail of the new yarn together with your working yarn as you knit it. That doesn’t work as well in bulkier yarns, however. And that’s… That technique is definitely the least noticeable on the bind off or cast on row. So usually it’s very unobtrusive there. Don’t forget that if you’re doing something with a lot of narrow stripes you can carry the yarn up the edge of your work when you change colors, instead of cutting and rejoining every single time you make a stripe. When I learned about that that kind of changed my whole perspective on stripes.
Zontee: I agree. I find that being able to carry it along that side edge of the work makes it so much simpler. Because if you had to cut every single time and start a new section, that would be a lot of ends.
Liz: Yeah, and narrow stripes are so fun. They’re such a great way to incorporate different colors. And having to not deal with the ends is key. Then don’t forget that when you do have to inevitably weave in those few ends, the easiest way is… in a steamed project, to just use the tail end to kind of reinforce the area of the seam that it’s close to. Because that’s going to both secure your end and provide a little extra strength for the seam. Then if you’re not near a seam, you want to weave your ends in a zigzag motion so the yarn is traveling both horizontally and vertically along diagonal lines and switching directions at least twice. Because that will make sure as the piece stretches and moves around, the yarn will stay secured inside the yarn craft project. You can do that whether you’re using a blunt needle or a crochet hook to tuck your ends in.
Zontee: And I use a blunt needle for a lot of smaller products, but as they get a little bit bigger sometimes I like the crochet hook because I find that just to be faster.
Liz: You should always leave a nice long tail, because that will allow you to weave it in for a significant portion of time. I usually recommend at least two inches. But sometimes, you just want to finish that one last repeat. By the time you’ve finished off, there’s just a little bit of yarn left. That’s where the crochet hook really comes in handy, because you don’t necessarily have enough to use a needle with.
Zontee: That’s a really good point.
Liz: But you could still use the hook.
Zontee: Yeah. I find that it’s a hassle to have to do the zigzagging and the doubling back. You definitely want to come back around, though. I usually think of it as you making kind of a crunchy looking C shape. So that you come back a little bit. But it really does keep the yarn secure. Because you don’t want it to pull out and have an end sticking out later on as you’re wearing the piece.
Liz: Oh, see. I always do a sideways W. Interesting. There are so many different ways to think about the shapes. A lot of people have questions about various different types of seaming. Probably because if does right, it’s not very visible and so it doesn’t get all the flash and attention of stitch patterns or motifs. But there are lots of different techniques for seaming and there are some really basic things to know before you even get started. Which is that for almost all your projects, you want to be doing up your seams in the same yarn, in the same color that you made the project with. That is what is going to make it the least visually obtrusive. It just gives you a little extra coverage.
Zontee: That’s exactly right. We sometimes get questions from people who are new to knitting and crocheting. Or making pieces that they have to seam and they say, “Oh, should I be getting a sewing machine out?” And no, you do not. You should be doing this by hand with the yarn itself so that it blends in really seamlessly. And also the yarn being the same as the yarn that you have used the project will give you the right thickness in order to reinforce those seams correctly.
Liz: Yeah, because a machine sewn seam on something that’s knit is not going to stretch properly. You’re going to lose the great properties of a knitted project. The one time… The few times I would suggest using a different yarn are if you’ve used a roving type yarn like our Alpine Wool, which is a singly ply. And you have to seam a relatively long area because weaving the yarn in and out of a seam can cause a little abrasion. So in a case like that, I might suggest finding a similar fiber yarn, one of our Fishermen’s Wool or Lion Wool in a similar color to your project to use in a seam. Just because it’s a four ply and it’s going to be a little sturdier.
Zontee: Another time I might suggest using a slightly different yarn situation would be when you have used a double strand to make the project. Sometimes you want to go with that single strand to do the seaming itself. Because not only is it a little bit easier on you as you seam, but you don’t quite need that extra bulk.
Liz: Exactly. And just, again, talking about how the active sewing can be abrasive for yarn. Generally when you’re seaming, always just use lengths of yarn that are about the length of your outstretched arm. That’s the easiest to work with without causing tangles and it’s going to make sure your yarn doesn’t get overly abraded.
Zontee: Now let’s talk about a couple of basic seaming techniques for both knit and crochet. If you aren’t familiar with these techniques, definitely go to LionBrand.com. Go to the Learning Center and click on either “Learn to Knit” or “Learn to Crochet”, where we actually have directions and diagrams for each of these skills. For knitting, you want to use a mattress stitch, which is pretty much one of the most common seaming techniques. Because it’s so common, it’s definitely one that you’re going to want to practice. It makes a beautiful and visible seam.
Liz: Mattress stitches most often seam in stockinette or other textured stitch patterns like seed stitch. But there is a variant, it’s basically the exact same motion where you’re doing it in garter as well. I just used it to sew up the backs of my garter stitch booties. It also makes an invisible seam.
Zontee: And you can see directions for both of those on our website. Another good technique if you don’t enjoy seaming so much for, say shoulders is if you can do the three‑needle bind‑off, that’s a great way to draw in shoulder seams in a very strong, sturdy way. It’s basically like casting off of two sides at the same time. So it allows you to make that seam without actually doing any sewing.
So if you’re not such a fan of sewing and you’re making something like a garment, a sweater that might be a technique you want to check out.
Liz: It’s definitely less stretchy than the other seaming techniques, which is what makes it great for shoulders, but not necessarily a technique you’d want to use in a sock, maybe, where you want a lot of stretch. [laughs] In crochet, there is an equal infinite variety of seaming techniques. One way that’s very popular is actually using single crochet or slips edge to seam pieces together that people really like because it’s the exact same motion as crocheting. So you don’t have to get a needle, you just use your hook. But it will make a slightly bulkier seam than some of the other techniques.
Zontee: Exactly. It’s a technique I like to do for things like afghan blocks, and things where you don’t mind if there’s a little bit more thickness in those spots, but perhaps not so much for certain kinds of garments. In that case, you’d want to use an invisible sewn seam. Again, directions for all of these techniques are in the Learning Center. This time for crocheters, it would be under “Learn to Crochet.”
It’s almost the equivalent of that mattress stitch concept except for crocheters. Again, you’re going to be working your yarn back and forth between the two pieces which are laid flat next to each other. So that creates a seam that has no bulk.
Liz: We also get a lot of questions about blocking. It’s, I think, a topic many people find intimidating. The point I want to make about blocking is that blocking is essentially washing. Blocking… The term blocking, comes from millinery traditions where steam was used to shape a wool hat to a specific person’s head and maybe, in the beginning days of knitwear and wool suiting that was similar to how it was. But now when we have so many yarns that are easy care, blocking can be as simple as running something through the washer and dryer. If that’s what your instructions for your yarn say, I think that’s how you should treat your finished garment.
Then for something that’s maybe hand wash and lay flat to dry, blocking can be as simple as dunking in an appropriate temperature water with an appropriate type of soap, rinsing, and then laying flat to dry in the general shape that you want the final object to be.
Zontee: Exactly. What a lot of people find is great about blocking is that it gives you that opportunity… While pieces are wet, they’re a little bit more pliable so you can shape them. You can adjust your stitches sometimes if you find that you have a little bit unevenness in a spot here or there. You can even take a crochet hook or the tip of your needle and kind of zuzzh your stitches a little bit.
Liz: Though honestly I find that once things have been washed, so much of that unevenness takes care of itself without even needing to get out an implement.
Zontee: Of course, there are some more advanced blocking techniques, like steam, that some people find necessary. But generally speaking, if you find that the washing of your piece and laying it out or drying it however it’s recommended, and doing a basic shaping, is enough, then you’re probably good to go and you don’t have to worry about it.
Liz: I’m a firm believer in washing a project once it’s finished according to the care instructions. But I really only go the full… full‑out blocking with steam and everything for lace projects where you do need a little extra attention to really open up the stitch pattern. But I say most of the time you can be very relaxed with your blocking. It doesn’t need to stress you out.
Zontee: And I think that one important thing also to mention about the big difference of washing a piece is also that some yarns will bloom or soften as they are washed. So in order to get that final product feeling from your piece, you may need to run it through the cycle or hand wash it so that it has those final properties. Things like our Recycled Cotton do look much more beautiful once they’re washed.
Liz: Remember, when you’re doing your swatches you should be washing your swatch according to those final care instructions. So you can see just how the yarn might change after the first wash.
Zontee: Good tip.
Liz: Now for the really fun part of finishing. That’s edgings. Because that is a great way to not only give your piece a much more finished look, but also personalize it with some great embellishments.
Zontee: Yeah, I love edging for things like knit lace scarves. Where I find that if I just do a single crochet edging all the way around. It gives them a little bit more sturdiness around those edges. Which is nice because with lace pieces sometimes they collapse a little bit. I think that that’s a nice technique. I’ve also done a little bit of trim on hats. When you do a really solid hat at the top, sometimes it’s just nice to just add a trim all the way around the bottom to make it a little bit more whimsical and cute.
Lots of options are available on our stitch finder. Again, that’s at LionBrand.com inside the Learning Center.
Liz: We also heard from many of you calling back to our favorites segment. A lot of people really enjoy the Nicky Epstein books which there’s a three‑part series all about edgings, which I know people find really useful.
Zontee: We hope that today’s “Stash This” about finishing has been enlightening for you. We hope that it really helps you take your product to that next level so that you can feel really proud of it at every stage. And so that you have that reinforced feeling of the fact that finishing does not have to be a chore.
Liz: No, finishing is fun. It’s all in the attitude. [music]
Zontee: We want to thank all of you for joining us today. As usual, we want to thank those who shared their stories, questions, and comments, especially everyone who left us a comment on Ravelry. We want to give a quick shout out to the Crochet Liberation Front and thank them for giving us the Flamie for the most crochet friendly yarn company of the year.
Liz: For the second consecutive year. Woohoo!
Zontee: Woo! And we also want to remind you if you haven’t already checked it out on our Facebook or Twitter pages that right now, we’re holding “Show Us Your Stash Week.” So change your profile picture to a picture of your stash, no matter how big or small. You can take just a picture of a small portion of it if it’s… We’ve heard a lot of people say that their stash is too big for a picture, but you can take a picture of a small section of it. It’s OK. Show us your stash and we want you to encourage your friends to show us their stashes as well.
Liz: Join us again in two weeks when we get inspired by outdoor living. Now that the weather’s getting even warmer. We’re going to talk about picnic projects and more. Tell us about your favorite projects to work on while enjoying the great outdoors. Or a project that you’ve made like a market tote or a water bottle cozy that’s useful for day trips. Leave a comment on our website at “Yarncraft.LionBrand.com” or 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 and Wine by the Podsafe Music Network. [music]
Get links to the patterns and websites discussed on this episode by visiting the episode guide.