You’re listening to YarnCraft. [music]
Zontee: Welcome to YarnCraft. It’s Episode 34 on August 31st, 2010. Thanks for joining us today. I’m Zontee.
Liz: And this is Liz. We’re the hosts of Yarn Craft.
Zontee: Stop by our website, YarnCraft.LionBrand.com, for more information on the patterns and products that we talk about on today’s episode. You can also leave your comments there or give us a call and leave a voicemail at 774‑452‑YARN. That’s 9276. We always love sharing your stories, questions, and comments on the show.
Liz: As usual, we’re here at the Lion Brand Design Center in New York City, and today we’ll be giving you a sneak peak at what’s in store this fall from Lion Brand. From yarns to patterns to our new fall catalog, you’ll get the inside scoop on all we have coming.
Zontee: And on today’s “Stash This: Ideas for your Crafting Life,” we answer some common listener questions about construction, from sweaters to hats and more. We talk about how you can figure out how to adapt patterns and make projects work for you.
Liz: Stay tuned for all that and more, next on YarnCraft. [music]
Zontee: As usual, we want to start off our episode by just checking in project‑wise. I know that I haven’t had too much time to work on my machine‑knit sweater, so not much progress there. But I really do hope to have something to report back to you by the next episode. I feel like by then I should have all the pieces done and I can assemble. So wish me luck and cross your fingers, and hopefully I’ll have something to offer then.
Liz: That’s one way that machine knitting is a little slower than hand knitting, because actually doing the knitting is much faster, but that machine is just not as portable as a regular set of needles.
Zontee: It’s true, it’s not portable; you definitely have to come to it. And of course all the pieces do have to be made flat. So a lot more seaming. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as we’ll talk about in our construction “Stash This.”
Liz: I’m definitely taking a different approach. Long‑time listeners may remember that two years ago I started a project in the then brand new LB Collection Superwash Merino, which, because I am me, put aside to work on other projects in the meantime.
Most of that wasn’t my fault. I didn’t tell anyone to go out and have a baby so I had to stop and make sweaters and baby blankets and booties and everything.
Zontee: That’s true.
Liz: They did that to me. I was the victim there.
Liz: But I’ve decided it’s time to finally finish off that sweater. I just got back from a long business trip and working on a sweater on the round is definitely a great plane project.
Zontee: That’s true, it probably is really good. And since your flight was so long, you probably had lots and lots of time to be working on it.
Liz: Yes. But next time I make a sweater in the round for knitting on a plane, I’m not going to use black. Or I’ll bring a flashlight. [laughs]
Zontee: That’s a good idea, as well. And of course long‑time listeners have heard us talk about how it is harder to work with darker yarns.
Liz: Especially on a plane at night.
Zontee: So if you’re in a situation where you know the lighting may be limited, you may want to stick with a much lighter color. Easier to see your stitches.
What else is going on here in the office in terms of people’s projects? On the last episode we shared some of the things that people have been working on, and that’s always really fun to hear, what they’re working on and why.
I know that Jess and Lindsey, who you heard from last time, both just picked up the brand new Superwashed Merino Cashmere, which we’ll talk about later this episode. They picked out a pattern from the online magazine “Twist Collective,” and they’re both working on it.
Liz: The same pattern?
Zontee: The same pattern. They’ve kind of got a rivalry going on. This is their second pattern that they’re making the exact same pattern.
Liz: What did they make before?
Zontee: A sweater from “Interweave Knits.”
Zontee: And that was in the LB Collection Superwash Merino.
Liz: I thought I saw their finished sweaters and I thought they were different, but clearly they just individualized them and made them each their own, even if it was the same pattern.
Zontee: Mm‑hmm. And that’s really what’s great about patterns, using them as a jumping‑off point so you can customize them to your own needs. But they finished those, they picked out a new pattern, they’re going to go for it.
From what I understand, whoever gets done first gets a prize or something.
Liz: So they do this on purpose?
Zontee: I think so, yes.
Liz: Maybe I should do that and that might encourage me to finish some of my sweaters. I need a sweater buddy, clearly.
Zontee: We should all have sweater buddies. What a good idea. [music]
Liz: Today is the last day of August, and that got us to thinking that summer’s pretty much heading out, and that means fall is right around the corner. While that can kind of be sad–the days get shorter, the weather gets cooler, school starts for those of us going back to school–but that also is exciting because it means it’s really yarn-crafting and yarn-wearing time again.
Zontee: It’s true. Here in the Northeast of the United States, certainly it’s starting to get into sweater weather, and we’re really excited about that.
I love the summer, it’s probably my favorite season, but at the same time, you really don’t get so much usage out of all of your yarny goodness. So this is the time to take out the sweaters, fluff them back up, and get ready to integrate them back into your wardrobe.
Liz: I actually like the fall and winter much better than summer, so I only have to pretend to be sad because most people are. I’m like, “Woo‑hoo, it’s cold. Yay!”
Zontee: [laughs] Fair enough. And lucky for you listeners, we have a ton of great things in store here at Lion Brand for you when it comes to this fall.
First of all, it’s a huge season for brand new products. We have three new yarns that just came out. If you’re on our newsletter list, you probably already know this.
First of all we introduced Baby Wool, which is 100% totally easy‑care wool, which means that is machine washable and dryable. That’s kind of a great innovation, isn’t it, Liz?
Liz: Yes. I know I never have a place to air‑dry a large baby blanket or anything. So I’m really looking forward to making some projects in this that I can just run through the washer the dryer.
Zontee: And I think it’s really great for adult garments, because most adults, we like to wear a lot of natural fibers and whatnot. But when they’re easy‑care, it makes it a lot better, because you really don’t have to worry about throwing it and being able to wear it again right away.
Zontee: In addition to Baby Wool, we also introduced our Superwash Merino Cashmere. This is a great blend. I’m really excited about this because it’s so soft, it’s really luxurious, but it’s really affordable too. And it comes in some really sophisticated colors.
Liz: Yeah, a nice 14‑shade range, so a lot of choices to do a lot of different color combinations.
Zontee: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Do you want to tell us about our last new introduction?
Liz: Our newest introduction is Tweed Stripes, which is 100% acrylic easy‑care yarn. It’s specially constructed to have very gradual tweedy stripes in it. So it’s a self‑striping yarn, but instead of getting really distinct blocks of color, you get a more shaded transition.
Zontee: It’s almost the way painterly colors are in Homespun, but this is more traditional, kind of a smooth yarn. So that’s kind of nice.
Liz: Yeah, but a little more traditional. It’s kind of in between stripes and a painterly color of Homespun. It’s a new kind of color technique.
Zontee: Yeah. And what’s great about it also is it’s bulky‑weight, so it’ll work up really quickly.
Liz: But it’s also specially constructed to be very lightweight, so it’s going to be bulky but not heavy. I think people are going to be really excited about it.
Zontee: And that’s going to be great for accessories and things for the home as well.
Liz: Yeah. It’s also a great choice for afghans. We also have a few yarns that you may have seen on our website but are new to a lot of store shelves this fall. One is Baby’s First, which is a cotton/acrylic blend. It’s a bulky‑weight choice for baby items. It’s going to make projects really fast. And the best thing about it is it’s so soft; it’s such a soft cotton/acrylic blend.
Zontee: Oh, it definitely is. Every time people feel it they say, “Wow, I can’t believe how soft and fluffy this is.” And certainly that’s why I picked it for the shrug that I made.
Liz: Yeah, I’m definitely making my next baby project out of Baby’s First, for sure. Unless I’m in a real hurry, then I’m going to use Quick & Cozy, which is a super‑bulky, even thicker than Wool‑Ease Thick & Quick yarn. And it’s a special type of chenille, so it’s ultra‑plush, very soft, very fluffy, and makes projects really quick.
Zontee: I really like it because it feels like you’re petting a stuffed animal or something when you’re working with it. And it really does work up so quickly. I could see this for adorable baby blankets that are really fluffy, as well as toys. Or, ooh, cushions. You could make some really cute cushions for kids’ rooms. Or, honestly, your couch.
Liz: Yeah. Because while there are some pretty traditional baby colors in Quick & Cozy, there are also some really good fashion colors and interior dec colors.
Zontee: Definitely. It has some great bright shades and neutral shades. So it’s pretty flexible.
Liz: I totally want to make cushions, like, right now for my couch.
Zontee: Me too. I actually am really into this idea.
Liz: OK, we’re going to do it.
Zontee: We should really grab some and we’ll just do it right now.
Liz: Yeah, because it wouldn’t take any time.
Zontee: [laughs] Exactly. In addition to those five new yarns, we’ve also added a ton of colors to our line this year. We’ve got new colors in everything from Nature’s choice, which got multicolors in the line, to doubling our line of Vanna’s Glamour from seven colors to 14 colors. Which gives you so many different jewel tones, which are exciting. And we’ve also added new colors to Homespun.
Liz: And all of those new colors are painterly shades, because we know how much everyone loves those. So these are all really great painterly ones.
Zontee: And as you may remember from previous episodes, we talked about how Sock‑Ease got solids this year. So in addition to our amazing self‑striping colors, we’ve also got some really fun coordinating solid colors. And that’s really great, because if you like sock yarns where you kind of play with color blocking and whatnot, then this is really perfect for that.
Liz: In addition to the great solids in Hometown USA, we’ve added some fun multicolors, as well as great textural tweed neutrals. So whatever kind of look you’re trying to achieve, there’s now a great color for it in the Hometown palette.
Zontee: Yeah, the Hometown palette is really fun, because you can do everything from just kind of neutral tweedy shades that really breathe fall, or bright items for your sports team. I mean, this is getting to the time when we’re thinking about football season here in America.
Liz: Oh, yeah. Especially you and me, Zontee, we are really thinking about football season.
Zontee: OK, shush. Maybe you and me are not thinking about it, but lots and lots of people are.
Liz: Yes, and we support them all.
Zontee: In addition to all of those great colors that have already come out in the last year, we also have some new colors of Wool‑Ease Thick & Quick and Vanna’s Choice that you’re going to be seeing in the next month or so. So in September, look out for your catalog –or if you don’t already get out catalog, go online to the website and check these outs–but we’ve got great new colors in Vanna’s Choice and Wool‑Ease Thick & Quick.
Liz: There’s also going to be a special new entry into the LB Collection, the first time we’ve added a yarn to that in quite a while. I think people are really going to love it. It is one of my very favorites.
Zontee: I’m already excited about it. I’ve already got a pattern picked out and a color picked out of this yarn. I’m also very excited.
And if you want just a tiny little clue about what kind of yarn it’s going to be, just think about what Liz’s favorite animal happens to be and you’ll be on the right path, you’ll be in the right direction.
So Zontee mentioned that starting in the beginning of September you’ll start to get our catalog. Those of you who have been looking at it for a while are going to notice something different. This year instead of coming out twice year, we’re bringing you one bigger catalogue that’s going to run for the entire year.
Zontee: What’s great about this format is that we’ve really organized into sections by season and by holiday and occasion. So you’ll have all of your patterns for fall grouped together, your New Year’s patterns together, gift items together.
Its kind of a fun catalogu In addition to all of these great patterns–and we have almost, what, like 100 items probably for this upcoming catalogue that are brand new?
Zontee: We’ve also got some great articles that are going to be really useful, and informational pieces that you’ll probably want to keep and hold on to.
Liz: One trend we really noticed for fall that we think is going to be big is shrugs. So in our fall section, you’re going to see a couple different patterns for knit and crochet versions, for adults, for tweens, in several different yarns. I think those are going to be really popular.
Zontee: I really think that this just capitalizes on this whole concept of layering that we’ve talked about here on Yarn Craft. The nice thing about a shrug is it’s not as full coverage as a sweater, but it’s a nice thing to throw over another shirt. So if you’re already wearing a long‑sleeved shirt, this adds a little warmth. And they’re really fast‑finish projects, they make great gifts. The construction is generally pretty easy, but they look really impressive. So I say it’s a winner.
Liz: Absolutely. We’ve got some great classic afghan patterns in fall. We’ve got traditional ripples and well as some more inventive granny‑square and mitred‑square ones that I think are going to excite people who are real afghan lovers.
Zontee: Yeah, I’m really excited about them because they have some really great usage of color. And I think even if you’re not going to make an afghan, it gives you some real inspiration in terms of how can you construct these shapes and match colors together. I really love that.
Liz: One of my real favorite afghans is the mitered‑square throw. It uses different colors of Amazing and our Fisherman’s Wool. It just looks really unique; it’s a really fun technique for creating a really big color impact with the Amazing.
Zontee: Yeah. I like the idea of using a self‑striping yarn along with a solid, because then you get two different effects in one piece. And if you wanted to make that completely machine‑washable, you could use the Wool‑Ease instead of the Fisherman’s Wool, couldn’t you?
Liz: Yes. That is correct. Earlier we mentioned it’s getting to be sports season, and for those of you who are heading out to a chilly stadium we’ve got our Home Team Hat and Scarf, and our Stadium Throw and Stadium Pillow, all done in Hometown USA. They’re going to keep you warm and comfortable out there in the stands.
Zontee: I think this is a great idea. And if you have any sports lovers in your family with birthdays that are upcoming, you may want to consider making a set of these things, because I do think that they’re nice items to keep in your car, bring along, and when you’re sitting in the bleachers at a high school game or a university game even, then you can stay comfortable.
Liz: And amigurumi lovers might want to check out our Halloween treat bad and ornament ideas. We’ve got a whole wealth of different Halloween motifs you can implement.
Zontee: Yeah, I think this year’s collection of Halloween things is really cute. We always come up with fun new things every year, but this year’s is particularly cute. And, Liz, I know that you’re a Halloween enthusiast, so you must be particularly…
Liz: No, no, no. My mom is a Halloween enthusiast, and I craft presents for her for Halloween.
Zontee: I see.
Liz: The distinction is important.
Zontee: Have you gotten anything picked out?
Liz: I think I might just have to make one each of all the different little ornaments, so she can them together as a set on one of her trees.
Zontee: That sounds like a good idea.
Liz: Yeah. They’re all just so cute.
Zontee: I like them. Speaking of ornaments, as you get into the holiday season section of our catalog, you’re going to find some really wonderful crocheted snowflake patterns that I think would be really adorable on a tree.
In addition to the crocheted snowflakes, we also have some great knitted balls and little gift boxes and thing that you can make out of yarn that I think are really cute. So could do an entire tree with yarn ornaments if you are an ambitious yarn crafter. Just grab the catalog in September and…
Liz: Start right away.
Zontee: Start right away…and you can have them in time for December, I actually think that this would make a very attractive tree.
Liz: It really would. For those of you think that there is no end to the things we can wrap with yarn, you are correct. Because we also show how to take a Styrofoam ball and use Vanna’s Glamour to make a really sophisticated‑looking ornament just using wrapping.
For winter things, we’re talking about lots of accessories: hats, cowls, scarves. Again, all that layering goodness we love.
Zontee: But we also have some great new garments for the winter, and one of them is the Color Striped Tunic. And this is a piece that I was lucky enough to see in person at TNNA when we brought it with us. This is a great piece for your teens and tweens.
Liz: But we actually have it sized up for adult sizes as well.
Zontee: That’s perfect, because I would like to make one for me.
Zontee: It’s a really wonderful pattern in our Amazing yarn. And by combining four different colors of Amazing, you get even more striping and exciting color effects. So this is a very cool piece. I would even call it a dress. I wouldn’t say just tunic. But a dress that you could wear over leggings. It’s really perfect for the winter. It will definitely keep you really warm and comfortable. I love that it has kind of a cowl neck. It’s great. It’s a great piece.
Liz: For those of you who either like to craft way ahead of time or are down in this other hemisphere and looking forward to warmer weather, let’s talk about the spring patterns we have in the catalog.
Zontee: I love this whole‑year format because it does allow you to plan way ahead of time, or to prepare for seasons. Like Liz said, it’s perfect for our listeners in the Southern Hemisphere, who can download this catalog online when it comes out, and you can enjoy all of these different ideas no matter what season.
Liz: Earlier in the episode we were talking about sweaters and new Superwash Merino Cashmere. For those of you who may be interested in that, there’s a great one in our Lace Inset Cardi. It’s a very classic cardigan style with raglan sleeves. And we’ve added some very kind of randomly interspersed lace patterning that give it’s definitely a very up‑to‑date look.
Zontee: This is actually a great piece not only for transitioning to spring but also transitioning to fall. So whenever you want to make this piece, feel free.
Liz: We know spring is also a really big time for weddings or starting to plan weddings, so we have a little spread suggesting different ways you can use yarn crafting, on your big day. Everything from sparkly shawls for the mother of the bride, or a Vanna’s Glamour clutch for a bridesmaid, or little wedding favor bags or ways to decorate a tabletop with yarn embellishments.
Zontee: Again, I really like these ideas. If you are planning ahead for a wedding, this is the perfect time to be getting your supplies together and kind of working them.
I know that my friend’s wedding is coming up, and her mother made all of the napkins for the wedding already. So there are definitely some very ambitious, wonderful moms who are out there supporting the weddings out there in the world, and if your mom or you wants to do some crafting, get some ideas in the catalog.
Liz: Regular listeners know that when we talk about the spring, we often talk about babies, because at least in my personal experience, that’s when they’re always born.
Zontee: And I just like babies. [laughs]
Liz: So we’ve got some great patterns featuring those new yarns we talked about. We forgot to mention our new Babysoft prints. But you’ll see patterns for some baby blankets using those.
Zontee: Oh, yeah. The Babysoft prints are really adorable, and they’re kind of like a surprise every time. So each one is a little bit different.
Liz: Another pattern in one of our new yarns is the Lacy Short Sleeve Sweater in the Baby Wool that is just the most precious little sweater photograph and the most precious little girl.
Zontee: She’s the daughter of one of the guys here at the office. So we’re pretty enthusiastic about her.
Liz: She’s our favorite.
Zontee: In addition to clothing items and blankets and all of that good stuff for babies, we also have some really cute new toys. We know that both knitters and crocheters love our toy patterns, so we’ve got a little bit for everyone. These are really cute, whimsical takes on the classic toys that children really have. So you’ll see some bunnies and teddy bears and whatnot. Really adorable.
Liz: Everyone should make the bunny. It’s very cute.
Zontee: Bunnies for everyone!
Liz: I stole the original.
Zontee: I was going to say, isn’t it on your desk?
Liz: Yeah. I may or may not have the original bunny toy on my desk.
Zontee: You kidnapped it, Liz. That’s what you’re telling us.
Liz: I believe it was a gift from the company to me, because I’m awesome.
Zontee: OK. OK. We’re going to go with that.
Liz: All right.
Zontee: That’s our official story.
Zontee: Of course, moving from spring to summer, there’s some wonderful new patterns for the summer. If you happen to be in a place where it’s still warm and you can crank out a quick summer top, I say check out the catalog for those as well.
We’ve got some great new tops in cotton. They’re going to be really cool. They’re going to be really nice. Again, for those in the Southern Hemisphere, you can start now and you can have them ready for you in your summer.
It’s really a diverse catalog, which I think contains a little for everyone at all times of the year.
Liz: For fans of our LB Collection, I think you’ll be very excited that we have an all new, nine‑page section all about the LB Collection, with a lot of new patterns, everything from very traditional pullovers and cardigans to some pretty out‑there statement pieces. So there’s really something for everyone in that.
Zontee: Yeah. I’m really excited about that whole section. I hope that you guys have gotten some inspiration and excitement for some things that are coming down the line and that you’ll definitely go to our website and check out all of these things, because you will be seeing them over the next few weeks.
Of course, go into your local store, check out the new products on the shelves or go to LionBrand.com and browse through our new products.
Liz: Leave us a comment and let us know what is your very next project on your to‑make list. [music]
Liz: On today’s “Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life,” we’re going to share some general pointers for getting started with your first sweater or your fitted garment. When we asked for comments on Ravelry, we got several comments about what is garment construction: how do I know what I’m doing? What are the different terms? How do I know it’s going to come out right?
Zontee: I can definitely understand why you would feel this way. Obviously a sweater can feel like your first really big, kind of more advanced project, and you don’t want to put a lot of time into it if you haven’t kind of gone over all if the basics. So hopefully we’re able to help you with that today.
Liz: I think, if you’ve never made a garment before, the very best place to start is by finding a pattern or a photo of a garment that you really like. A good way to know if you’re going to like how it fits is look at what’s already in your closet. What are the things you wear? What is your very favorite sweater?
Zontee: I agree. I think it’s always really useful, not only when it comes to the shape of the items, to look at what you’ve bought from a store, but also from a sizing perspective. A question we get all of the time is, “How do I know what size to make of a sweater?”
Liz: If you’re anything like me, this really helped me out, because the first several projects I made were all pullovers. I found that I really didn’t wear them a whole lot. Then eventually I realized that was because when I go shopping in the store, I almost only buy cardigans.
So now, unless I am very specifically making a pullover because I know I’m going to wear it in certain ways and want that, I make everything a cardigan. I’ve figured out how to convert things that are pullovers into cardigans, because I know that’s what works for me.
You’ve got to know what works for yourself before you even start thinking about anything else.
Zontee: I agree.
Liz: Once you’ve selected your pattern or inspiration photo, you need to analyze what the basic shapes are of the piece, how it’s constructed, and what stitches they use.
Zontee: So something you’ll notice is how is this garment constructed? Is it a top‑down pattern that’s made in one piece, where you’re working from the neck area downwards?
That’s one very common construction. What’s cool about that construction is it can allow you to actually put on the piece as you’re working on it. That’s why some people really like that.
Is it done from the bottom edge upwards, which is another common construction? Is it made in pieces? How is this piece constructed?
Liz: If you’re working from a pattern, usually the easiest way to determine that is by the schematic. You can also figure that out by reading through the pattern. There are advantages to each of the methods of sweater construction, as Zontee said.
Top‑down, you can try on as you fit, and you can customize the length of your sweater to fit either your body or the amount of yarn you have very easily.
Zontee: Yeah, like you said, it’s great for the yarn amount. But if you do have a longer torso like I do, or if you’re a taller person, or if you just know that certain sleeve lengths or body lengths work better on you than others, instead of following the pattern exactly, something like the top‑down pattern will allow you to adjust those things depending on what works best for you.
In our last episode, you may remember that Patty, who is our Studio Director, mentioned that in her quest for the perfect version of Emmaline sweater, she had to adjust the lengths of the bodies to be different from that of the designer, because the designer was tall and had a long torso.
Patty is about my height, and we’re petite ladies, so she had to change it a little bit. So a top‑down pattern can be a great way to ensure that you can adjust all of these things.
Liz: Whether you’re going from the top‑down or the bottom‑up, one great thing about working in one great piece is you’re doing the back and front at the same time. So any changes you make to one you can do simultaneously to the other. You don’t have to remember later.
For example, on the black Superwash Merino that I’m making, it’s in the rounds. I’ve increased the amount of waist‑shaping, because I know that that looks better on me. So I didn’t have to make a notes and figure out what I did on the front so that I could replicate it on the back, I just did it all at once.
Zontee: I also find that it can be advantageous to be doing it in one piece when you’re worrying about doing things like your gauge changing a lot. If you’re the kind of a person who hasn’t done a lot of big projects and you’re not totally sure you’re exactly consistent yet, it can be very helpful, so that the front and back really match as closely as possible.
Because if you do one piece of the front and then do the back, but you’re gauge changed as you’re progressing, then one piece may be looser than the other. That could be a little bit trickier. Blocking can certainly help it, but it may be another way to make it a little simpler for you.
Liz: Probably the biggest advantage of working either on the seamless constructions is that when you’re done, you don’t have to sew it together.
Zontee: This is one of the most popular reasons that people like these seamless pieces, and often convert their patterns if they aren’t written that way. Because they say, “I can’t stand seaming things together”.
I really understand this, because I don’t particularly like seaming things either. Certainly, my last two sweaters were seamless.
For those of you who’ve decided, wow, top‑down sounds like the way for me to go, one great resource would be Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel, a really useful book, where she talks a lot about how to customize those patterns to your body. And all of those designs are from top‑down.
But there are things to be said for seaming pieces together. Certainly it gives the piece more structure, which helps it to keep its shape better. I have found, just from my own experience, that my seamless pieces do tend to sag a little bit more.
So that might be a good reason to make it in pieces. Another good reason to make it in pieces, of course, is portability.
Liz: It’s a lot easier to carry around just the front of a sweater or a sleeve than the entire sweater sitting on your lap, when all you’re trying to finish is that last cuff.
Zontee: This is very true. I’ve had that experience with my last Organic Wool sweater, where I had the entire thing on my lap. I kept thinking to myself, “This is so hot! It’s like torture. I can barely get through this. If it weren’t only one giant piece, I’d actually bring it with me somewhere!”
Liz: So now that you’ve got your pattern, you’ve figured out what size to make, you know how you’re going to construct it, you need to look at your gauge and your stitch patterns. We talked a lot about gauge in the “Stash This” in the episode last week. That really is going to be the most important factor in determining whether your finished project fits.
Zontee: Yes. If you do your gauge swatches and you’re very good and consistent about it, you will be pleased to find that your finished garment will end up the right size.
I know this for a fact, because the last time I finished that crocheted sweater that I talked over the summer, I measured it to see if it actually turned out to be the size that I expected it to be, and it was spot on.
So I’m telling you that this works. Make your gauge swatches, make them big, measure carefully, and you will be happy with the results.
Liz: For those of you who are worried that your gauge is still not going to be very consistent or are just unsure about the whole process, my biggest tip would be to start with a relatively plain stitch pattern. Something that you know, for you, will go pretty quickly, and a relatively loose style, like an oversized boxy sweater.
So you’re making very simple shapes, very simple pieces, because it really won’t take you that long, and once you make your first sweater, you’ll get a huge kick out of it.
Zontee: Yeah. Definitely. I think the other important thing about a plain stitch is also, because it will kind of give you a really easy basis to understand how this fabric is going to behave. If you look at stockinette stitch or single crochet fabric, even like a shell stitch fabric, when you make a swatch, you’ll see that none of those things have a ton of give.
But with a knitted fabric, it will stretch more than crocheted fabric. The reason you want to know all of these things is it will give you a sense of how is this fabric going to behave on your body.
Some people like closer fitting garments, so they make it a size smaller because the stitch pattern they’ve done it in is stretchier, so that it will stretch over their body. But if you did a smaller size in a fabric that has no give, you will have a very tight fitting sweater that may not shape so well around you.
So all things to consider as you’re looking at these patterns, as well.
Liz: Another thing that a lot of people asked as well was, “How do I change a pattern garment to either fit me or have the design elements I’d like?’
There are certain things that are very easy to change in most sweaters, like the length of the body and the length of the sleeves. Most patterns will tell you to knit to a certain number of inches. You can just figure out what you want your desired number of inches to be and substitute that into the pattern.
Zontee: Exactly. Some of the other questions that we’ve gotten were “How do I change a neckline?” Now that sort of thing, I think, is a little bit tougher.
If you have a lot of familiarity with sweater patterns, you’ll see kind of emerging patterns: rates of increasing, decreasing, or binding off of stitches to make certain kinds of shapes.
If you’re really comfortable, having seen a bunch of different patterns, you can then take those elements from one pattern and reuse it in another. But sometimes that can be something that you need a little bit of training on.
If that’s the case, you may want to consider some various books that will really help you with those kinds of construction things. I think that Shirley Paden’s Sweater Design Workshop is a really great book for designing your own garments. It’ll give you a really strong understanding.
Liz: It is extremely thorough.
Zontee: I think that if you go through that, you’ll not only be able to design your own sweaters, but you’ll be able to adapt sweaters to fit your needs. Margaret Hubert’s Complete Photo Guide to Knitting and her Complete Photo Guide to Crochet are both great books that are also very comprehensive in all things knitting and crochet.
But what I like about those is that they also give you that construction sense. Margaret brought some samples the last time she was here that were just necklines and collars of how she increases to create a crochet garment, give you a sense from the top‑down, in a crochet garment, these shapes will be a good basis. You make them as wide as you need to get to a good shoulder length, then you decrease at the right places.
I thought it was very cool, but you’ll see a lot of that in her books. I think the important thing, when it comes to adapting, is always getting really comfortable with lots and lots of different sweater constructions so that you know how to change them to your specific needs.
Liz: Once you’ve got that level of comfort, both Zontee and I recommend drawing out schematics on paper or graphing them out, because that helps you map out where your stitches are and how they have to increase or decrease to make the sort of shapes you want.
Zontee: Exactly. I know that the first sweater I made, I actually drew schematic out for it. I said, I want to go up this many inches, until my waist, then I want to change. Then I want to do some waist‑shaping, do some bust‑shaping. I want it to hit me at a certain place. Then I wanted my neckline to be a cowl neck.
So all of these things you factor in. You draw it out. You make kind of a road-map of, like, “This is how I’m going to do it.” By doing a schematic and making lots of swatches, doing a lot of math, you can really make this happen for yourself, so that you can make it completely custom sweater.
Liz: If the math sounds a little overwhelming to you or you’re looking at books but it’s not quite clicking, we definitely recommend that you look for a place to take classes in person. We’ve got several really focused on sweater construction at the Studio. Our “Sweater School” is always really popular.
Zontee: That’s really where Patty takes you through a pattern and shows you how to adapt that pattern to fit you, like I mentioned earlier. In the last episode, she talked about how her sweater…
Her bust is the small measurement. Her waist is a small measurement, but her hip is the large measurement. How do you make all of those things work for you? She walks you through it and actually teaches you how to make those calculations.
We also have a guest teacher coming in, Melissa Leapman, who you may know from her color work books. She’s coming in to teach a class called “Nifty Necklines,” all about how to adapt your necklines to the shapes that you want and the formulas, and the considerations that you need to make when you’re doing something like that.
Liz: So, if you’re not in the New York area, we encourage you to look at your local yarn crafting resources and see if similar crafting classes are offered there. Finally, Jasmine2009 had a question on Ravelry.
She wanted to know ‑‑ in addition to the construction of her garments, like sweaters ‑‑ she wanted to know, “Are there basic formulas for hats, gloves, and socks?” They’re definitely are.
This is another situation, where experience is going to teach you. You’re going to realize that, when I make a hat, I go straight for this much, then I start to decrease at this rate. OK. I get the formula, and you can start adapting it to your own. But if you want a really great resource for formulas that have already been plotted out, then we recommend The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd.
We honestly don’t know if there’s a book that covers formulas in crochet. Hopefully, there is. So, listeners, if you know, email in and let us know. We’ll be sure to share that, if you drop us a line. [music]
Zontee: We want to thank all of you for joining us today, and we want to thank those who shared their tips, questions, and comments by emailing us or sharing with us on Ravelry.
Liz: Do you have questions or great tips about using color work or stitch patterns to spice up projects? Share your question or comment on our blog by emailing us on our Ravelry group or by voice mail at 774‑745‑YARN.
That’s 774‑745‑9276. Your thoughts may be included in the next episode. As usual, our music is “Boy with a Coin” by Iron and Wine from Podsafe Music Network.
To learn more about the patterns, links, and products discussed in this episode, visit the episode guide.