Finished – The Biggest Entrelac In The World

It’s done!  Celebrate with me!

The early days.

In the beginning
In the beginning

Here is a picture before completion.  You see why it may be the biggest entrelac piece in the world.

IMG_5753

This is Noro Nadeshiko yarn.

IMG_5871
Shown on a large couch before blocking.  It got bigger after blocking.
IMG_5880
Nadeshiko is fuzzy even before blocking!

Blocking changes the texture completely.

Everything flattens out in blocking.

I am taping a guest spot about entrelac today for a TV show about fiber arts. Stay tuned for more details on how to watch my episode.

My favorite pattern and all the specifics about this project are on my Ravelry page.

In the meantime, please cast on your own entrelac piece.  It’s very easy, just follow the pattern.

Comment to let me know how you like this shawl.

Five Things I Want To Create in 2016 – And Free Shipping

My fiber plans for 2016 include these five projects.

Driftwood Socks

Driftwood Socks
Driftwood Socks

I am still working (slowly) on these socks.  They were started in September, it’s now February.  Not a lot of progress lately since I had to knit the biggest entrelac in the world in the meantime.

Rogue Wave Wrap

rogue wave
From Ravelry.com

I’ve been dying to make a freeform project, and this pattern from Jane Thornley looks perfect.  It’s designed for any gauge yarn.  I plan to use some hand spun art yarns in this project, along with leftovers and things I’ve been holding onto because they are so “special”.  This includes yarns that I only have one skein of, so cannot do a big project with them on their own.

Super Easy Handspun Scarf

super easy handspun scarf
From Ravelry.com

In an effort to improve my crochet skills, I’ll probably attempt this one before the larger scarf below.

Supersized See My Stitches Scarf 

supersize my stitches
From Ravelry.com

This cool crochet pattern is perfect for super bulky handspun.  I plan to dye a couple of rovings and spin them into super bulky art yarn for this project.

Jeck Socks

jeck socks
From Ravelry.com

I like the look of these easy socks.  They seem nicely fitting and good for hand dyed yarn.  I’m always looking for sock patterns that break up pooling and blotchiness that can occur when knitting with hand dyed sock yarns. I will probably use a Turkish Toe and Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato heel, I enjoy knitting them and the fit works for me.

One thing I really like about the Turkish Toe is that it’s seamless, that makes it comfortable and sturdy.

I usually knit 3.5 repeats of the heel on 1/2 the stitches, rather than recommended 3/4 of the stitches, because I’m too lazy to move the stitches around on my circular needles when it’s time to do the heel.

Yes, I use circulars for socks, and almost everything else.  I like that I can’t drop or lose them, and I find DPNs clumsy and hard to hold on to.

I’m sure I’ll also knit headbands and cowls and lots more this year.

You can see all my finished and ongoing projects here on my Ravelry page.

What fiber adventures are you planning this year?  Comment and let me know!

As a reminder, get free shipping when you purchase two or more spinning fibers from our Etsy Store.  Use coupon code FREESHIP2FIBERS.  Free shipping ends Feb. 29, 2016.

Here’s a little eye candy from the shop.

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What Can I Do With Super Bulky Art Yarn?

I get a lot of questions about the small yardage super bulky art yarns I spin.  Typically  someone admires one my yarns like this one.

IMG_5683And then they ask me “But, what can I do with such a small amount of yarn?”

A great use for this type of yarn is a headband.  I have made headbands from super bulky yarns spun from 1.75 oz. of fiber.  This one is a 2 ply, but used a small amount of yarn.  Don’t be fooled by how little it looks, it stretches to fit a woman’s head perfectly.

Headband Knit From Super Bulky Hand Spun Yarn
Headband Knit From Super Bulky Hand Spun Yarn

Check out my Ravelry project page to see all the headbands I’ve knit.  As of today there are seventeen. Scope out my other projects while you are there too.  Friend me and say hi.

You can get my free headband pattern here.  It’s easy and fast, you’ll have a gorgeous headband in less than an hour.  Warning:  These are addictive knitting!  You’ll want to make another one immediately.

These yarns can be used in weaving projects, to stripe in a cowl or hat, or to create a face framing edging.

Combine with other super bulky yarns, handspun or commercially spun, to use in a larger project.  This is a great way to use up leftovers.  Make the colors coordinated or wildly contrasting.  Try it for a scarf or a larger project.

The Rogue Wave Wrap is perfect for this kind of yarn when combined with others.  There are a lot of patterns that would work.  Here’s one that’s free.  I am knitting this now.  watch for pictures soon.

Wrap a gift for a women in a pretty tea towel and tie with fabulous yarn.

There are a few ideas get you started.  Do you have others?  I’d love to hear them.  Comment below to share!

 

 

 

 

Your First Entrelac

Would you love to knit a beautiful entrelac project like this?

first entrelac
My first entrelac project, knit in Noro Kochoran.

After completing 20 entrelacs I consider myself quite experienced. Many knitters have told me they would love to try it, but thinks it’s too difficult.  It’s not!  Really.  Here are some tips to make your first entrelac a success.

Pattern Choice

I always use the same pattern, if I want a bigger or smaller entrelac I change the number of stitches I cast on. My go-to pattern is The Basic Entrelac Scarf by Lisa Shroyer.  Find it on Ravelry here.  You’ll notice the shawl pictured above is featured on this pattern page.

The stitches are cast on in groups of 8, sometimes I’ve cast on as few as 16. The usual number is 24.  Right now I’m working on a huge custom wrap for which I cast on 48 stitches.  This project is is using 6 balls of Noro Nadeshiko, which is discontinued.

IMG_5418
The Giant

Start with 16 or 24 stitches on your first project.

Just follow the pattern, it’s very clear and well written. If you have any trouble understanding it, here is a tutorial on YouTube.

Yarn Selection

I recommend using bulky yarn for your first entrelac. You’ll see quick progress and the heavy yarn will make your stitches easy to see if you need to tink (unknit) something. It also makes it much easier to see what you’re doing when you pick up stitches to create the new blocks.

To get an entrelac with solidly colored blocks you’ll need a yarn with a long color change. My favorites include a lot of Noro yarns. I’ve used Kochoran, Nideshiko and Transitions. These are all discontinued. Many Noro yarns would work.

entrelac_in_transitions_medium
Noro Transitions

Once you get comfortable with picking up stitches (or if you have some experience with this) try a worsted weight yarn.

taos entrelac
Crystal Palace Taos, worsted weight yarn

 

bright entrelac
Knit One, Crochet Too Paint Box, worsted

If you like striped blocks like this, try a hand dyed or commercial yarn with a short color repeat.

hand dyed yarn entrelac
Hand Dyed Yarn with short color repeats

Neutrals can be beautiful too!

entrelac latte ecoduo
Cascade Eco Duo (which is one of my very favorite yarns!)

Other Tips

When completing a row, spread out the project and make sure the edges are even. It’s easy to forget or add an extra a side triangle and once you continue there is no way to correct without ripping back to that point. Best to examine each row and avoid any anguish when you discover something awry rows later.

I like to use circular needles, it keeps the edges from slipping off best, but I use circulars for everything.

Picking up stitches intimidates a lot of knitters. I was nervous about it in the beginning. The important thing to remember – it’s easy to rip them out and begin again. Entrelac is the perfect way to get really good at picking up stitches, both knitwise and purlwise. You will be an expert after your first project and never hesitate again.

If you aren’t sure exactly how to pick up and knit, check out this YouTube video on picking up knitwise.  This is focused on socks, but the principle is the same, and the stitches are very visible in this video.

Picking up purlwise is shown in this short video.  This is going to feel very awkward at first!  Keep at it and it will become easy.  Remember, practice is the way to learn anything.

The little holes at some intersections of blocks are normal. Using a slightly fuzzy yarn will help hide them. This is a perfect excuse to use a yarn with a bit of angora, again Noro is a great choice for this.

View your first entrelac as practice. Focus on learning the skills you may not be comfortable with when you begin. Don’t worry about the result. The wonderful thing about knitting is that it’s easy to tear it all out and begin again. Entrelac’s block by block construction makes it especially easy to tear out a block and correct something you don’t like.

See all my entrelac projects (and everything else I’ve knit) on my Ravelry project page. Friend me!

Good luck with your first entrelac project. I’d love to see what you create.

Friday Finds for May 31, 2013

Today’s blog post shows a couple of Etsy treasuries I made this week.  Here is the first one, entitled “Yarny Goodies I Love”.  Find the other images and links to the products here.  This one has a very loose color theme, which I find interesting, because I certainly didn’t set out to create it that way – but I love the way it came out.

Yarnie Goodies I Love

The second treasury is less organized and really mostly for spinners, but I love it!  “Just A Little Eye Candy for Spinners” is here.

Just A Little Eye Candy For Spinners

Etsy makes it so easy to find gorgeous things.  I’m going to try to show my treasuries every Friday that I can, so keep watching.  More beautiful stuff next week!

Spring Knitting, Part 2

People ask me how they can wear hand knit accessories in the spring and summer.  Here are some examples that I think work well.

This frothy lime shawl is knit in 100% pima cotton, so it’s light, soft, airy – just right for cool summer evenings or chilly movies.  It’s an asymmetrical triangle, so it’s a bit unusual, not like anything commercially produced, perfect if you like to be just a bit different. 

Lime Shawl
Lime Shawl

Lime not your thing?  How about coral?  This is a rectangular scarf,  it makes an excellent sarong.  It’s cotton, so it dries in a flash.

Coral Rectangular Shawl
Coral Rectangular Scarf

Perhaps cooler colors are more to your taste?  Noro Nobori knits up into a gorgeous blue and purple rectangular scarf.

Noro Nobori Fishnet Shawl
Noro Nobori Fishnet Shawl/Scarf

Looking for a gift?  Finding it tricky to buy colors for someone else?  Teal looks great on almost everyone, and this 100% cotton is soft, fluffy and generally fabulous.  This is another one of those rectangular scarves that you can wear in several different ways. Doesn’t it look great with the seahorse shawl pin?

Teal Rectangular Scarf
Teal Rectangular Scarf

Spring Knitting, Part 3 will be coming soon.  We just keep creating the beautiful stuff!

Spring Knitting

After a brief vacation from blogging, I’m back (well, at least for today).  Been quite busy with kids, knitting, etc, so blogging fell by the wayside for a bit.

Nicer weather has finally arrived, after a cool, wet spring here in Indianapolis.  I hear conflicting predictions on what the summer will bring, I’m hoping for cooler than average – last year was murderous.

Been knitting a lot (to put it mildly) and there are a lot of fun new items in the Etsy store.  We’ve been knitting many things that will work for spring and cool summer nights, like this pale yellow open weave shawl.  I love this primrose color, it’s perfect for women with delicate coloring, and 100% organic cotton makes it super soft.  This is an asymmetrical triangle and it’s super versatile, wear it as a wrap or scarf, or fold it and wrap for a sarong.  It dries in about 30 minutes if it gets wet, so it’s great for the beach.

Primrose Shawl
Primrose Shawl

We found a great buy on Noro Nobori yarn this spring, so we’ve done several different things with it.  I knit this scarf;  think this is the perfect pattern to show this yarn’s unusual texture and beautiful color changes.  This one reminds me of a zinnia garden in the summer sunshine.  Cheryl, my business partner sees fireworks.  How about you?  What do you see?

Zinnia Garden Scarf
Zinnia Garden Scarf

Cheryl knit the yarn in a different colorway, this one makes me think of a spring rainbow, cheesy I know – but how would you describe it?

This scarf is just right for women with fair, golden complexions – what we might call “Spring” or “Dressing Your Truth Type 1”.  I plan to write more about this color typing stuff in a future  post.

Spring Rainbow Scarf
Spring Rainbow Scarf

Cheryl also knit this black fishnet type rectangular scarf from organic cotton.  We found a fabulous buy on Mirasol Samp’a, 100% organically grown and dyed cotton, so we snapped up a lot – watch for lots of cool new things to appear in the shop.

I love this pattern, it’s so easy to wear, it makes a nice soft scarf, a shawl or wrap and a perfect sarong.  Do I even need to talk about the possibilities for a sexy Halloween costume?

Black Organic Cotton Scarf/Wrap/Sarong
Black Organic Cotton Scarf/Wrap/Sarong

I’d love to hear what kind of hand knits you’d like to see in our Etsy shop for spring and summer.  Please let me know through the comments if you have other ideas or know of patterns that would make useful (and beautiful) hand knit items for warmer weather.

A Weighty Subject

I’ve been made aware (in a traumatic way) that not all skeins of yarn are created equal – they don’t all weigh what the label says they do.

Recently, I was knitting this lovely small shawl

Blue Lagoon Scarf/Shawlette

and I ran out of yarn long, long before I should have.  The only reason I caught on is that this was the second time I used that yarn to knit the same pattern.

The yarn was Knitpicks Chroma fingering weight.  I called the nice Customer Service queen and she apologized profusely and immediately dispatched another ball at no charge.  She asked me to let her know if there was a problem with the new ball, because that might indicate there were short weights for the whole dye lot.

The new ball was fine, but this whole experience made me think (uh-oh) and I began to weigh many different yarns.

Here are some results.

Yarn

Labeled Weight (grams)

Actual Weight (grams)

Noro Kureyon             100               99
            100               90
Noro Kochoran             100               92
            100              107
            100              107
            100              103
            100              97
            100              92
KnitPicks Gloss DK             50              47
            50             49
            50             50
            50             52
Karabella Soft Tweed             50             53
            50             50
            50             50
KnitPicks Stroll             100             102
Noro Silver Thaw             100             97

What I discovered:

1.  Yarn weights are all over the place.  8 were under weight, 6 were over weight, and only 3 were accurate.

2.  Some of the underweight balls were very short, up to 10% less than labeled.  This can cause a big problem if the weight indicates that there is less yardage than labeled.

3.  Noro was the worst offender.  The reason I weighed so many Noro yarns is because my first results were so crazy (and because I have a lot of Noro).  Karabella was pretty consistent, Knitpicks Gloss was pretty close to stated weight or a bit over.

Now, all this brought more questions to my inquiring mind.

What does it all mean?  Is the yardage short?  Is the yarn underweight because it lost moisture in storage?  Does humidity in my house affect the weight?

I am willing to believe moisture is a factor, but 10% underweight is a bit much.  I googled around a bit – searched underweight yarn skeins – and found plenty of yarns for sale with the disclaimer “slightly underweight”.

Of course, I absolutely do not believe any of this is done purposely.  But, it’s impossible to know how much yarn I use if I don’t know what I started with.  And sometimes I need to know.  For example, when designing a pattern it’s necessary to know how much yarn it takes.   Also, if I don’t know how much I started with, I don’t know what I have left.  Since I often use leftovers for smaller projects, that matters to me.

So,  I’m weighing all my skeins from now on before I knit them.  I’ll record the weights on my Ravelry project page.  And, if I notice a consistent pattern of shortages then I’ll be able to make an informed decision about buying that yarn in future.

Love Your Heart Pinterest Contest

Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US?  I’m willing to bet it’s pretty high on the list in all industrialized countries.

February is Heart Health Awareness Month, and to bring increased awareness (and to add to the Valentine’s Day fun) we are running our first contest on our Pinterest page.

Pinterest Contest

Here are the rules.

Follow us on Pinterest.

Between now and Feb. 25 create a pinboard entitled “I Heart Indigo Kitty Knits”.

Pin 12 images, each one representing one of  the following themes.  Do this in the listed order so we can tell which is which.

1.    Retro Valentine

2.    Red Dress

3.    Chocolate

4.    Handmade Jewelry from Etsy

5.    Heart Healthy Eating

6.    Flowers

7.    An Item You Love From Our Etsy Shop

8.    Love

9.    Favorite Exercise to Keep your Heart Healthy

10.  A Place For Lovers

11.  Stress Management

12.  Heart

Send us an email at indigokittycontest@gmail.com with a link to your pinboard.  We’ll select our favorite and the winner will receive a free pair of fingerless mitts (your choice) from our Etsy shop.  We’ll even pay the shipping.  If you don’t see anything you like right now let us know and we’ll make you something you’ll love.

Take a look at my sample contest pinboard for some ideas.

Fair Isle Success

I have completed the Temple Kitties hat – my first Fair Isle attempt.  I’m really happy with it – what do you think?  I love the tweediness of the yarn, the contrast between the colors, the fit, the softness – everything, really.

Thanks to Lydia for modeling.
Thanks to Lydia for modeling.

The yarn is Knitpicks City Tweed DK.  My colors were Kitten (cute name!) and Poseidon.  Poseidon is no longer available.  I had a ball lying around, left over from a sweater.  I’d been wondering for a long time what to do with one 50 gram ball of DK weight yarn.

Here’s a link to my Ravelry page for this project, which shows the details, including the yardage I used.

This is what I learned, along with a bit of advice for other Fair Isle novices:

1.  Choose an easy hat pattern in a heavier weight yarn for your first Fair Isle project.  I chose a pattern with two color knitting on only part of the hat, and in a DK weight yarn.  The trim around the base was rather fiddly and time consuming, but looks wonderful – the photo doesn’t really do it justice.  Hats are small, finished quickly and the construction is simple – you don’t want to add a lot of complicated, unfamiliar techniques to this first project.  Make this project for yourself, and select a pattern you love.  This will keep you motivated if you struggle a bit in the beginning.

2.  If you have a problem, take a deep breath, tear it out as soon as you see the problem, give it a day or two, and begin again.  You will succeed.  The awkwardness of handing the yarn will get much better very quickly.  It’s like anything else (think of when you learned to ride a bike) – practice makes perfect.  That’s a cliche for a reason – because it’s mostly true.  Perhaps a better saying would be “practice makes much better”, but that’s not as snappy, is it?

I had to try twice, the first time something got twisted.  it wasn’t the cast on;  the disaster happened later.  I didn’t discover the problem until row 12 of the 23 row chart, and I was quite miffed about it.  Tore it out completely, came back in 2 days and started (carefully) again, had no further problems.

3.  Don’t freak out about the fit until the project is done (or at least halfway).  I wasn’t sure it was going to fit, it seemed huge in the beginning, but now that it’s done I think it’s just right.  Fair Isle doesn’t stretch like stockinette or garter stitch, so it will be difficult to gauge fit in the beginning.

4.  If you have a hard time handling the yarn, try holding it another way.  I’m a continental knitter, so I hold both yarns in my left hand, but I know that won’t work for everyone.  The person who taught me recommended I hold one yarn in the left and one in the right hand, and that was so uncomfortable for me I knew I’d be struggling harder than necessary.  Experiment, but give your normal way of holding the yarn a good try first.

5.  Make another Fair Isle project soon to build on your learning.  Try a pattern in fingering weight yarn.  How about a pattern designed to use 2 yarns only, one plain and a long color change yarn?   I have a couple of balls of Mini Mochi in a bright rainbow colorway, I plan to use a creamy white to contrast.   Here are some pattern ideas I’m kicking around:

Montreal Hat by Drops Design Hat

Montreal Hat from Drops Design

Or maybe this hat designed for Mini Mochi

Mini Mochi Hat

Whatever pattern you choose, keep it simple, without a lot of new techniques, The corrugated ribbing shown on the Mini Mochi hat above is simple, so I might try that on project number two. I’ll  save tricky new stuff for project number three.

Here’s a one question poll for my readers.  I’d love to know if I have any Fair Isle experts out there.

 

I’d love to hear about your experiences with this technique, and any advice from the experts.