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News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for May, 2009

Textured Circle Shrug Knit-Along: Sleeves

May 28th, 2009

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Time to move on to to the SLEEVES section.  This week’s installment is pretty easy, technique-wise, but there’s a lot of knitting to do (both sleeves).

The last time we talked about the sleeves, we had placed them on a length of scrap yarn to be worked later:

Now transfer the sleeve stitches back onto your US8 needle.

When all of the stitches are back on the circ, the sleeve will look like this:

If you are happy with the width of the sleeve, you’ll just attach your yarn here at the beginning of a RS row. Continue with the pattern, just following the directions as indicated.  You’ll begin working in Textured Stripe wherever you left off in the stitch pattern.  On my sleeve, before I put the sts on the scrap yarn, I had completed 5 rows of reverse stockinette and so now I’ll start right in on 8 rows of stockinette stitch.

The instructions say to work 2 rows even, this just means to work two rows straight (no increases or decreases) whether you should knit or purl according to the stitch pattern.

Sizes 40-42 (44-46, 48-50, 52-54) begin working decreases to narrow the sleeve as it goes down the arm.  If you don’t want to narrow the sleeve, just work straight (no increases or decreases) in textured stripe until the sleeve is the length indicated in the pattern, or to desired length.

Other sizes just work straight (no increases or decreases) in textured stripe until the sleeve is the length indicated in the pattern, or to desired length.

The length indicated in the pattern is FROM THE UNDERARM…so measure from where you are starting TODAY, not from the very top of the sleeve.


You simply cast on a few stitches at the underarm.

I’ve cast on about 10 st (using the “knitting on” method) at the under arm, to show those who want to modify the sleeve width how this would look.

To see how to cast on sts, check out the “Cast on” videos

Here’s what the sleeve with extra stitches looks like as you knit it:

You can cast your stitches on where I did, at the beginning of the first RS row, or you can cast half on at the beginning of the row and half at the end, or all at the end. It depends, really, on how many extra stitches you need. The more you cast on, the more the seam will move around the arm. If you’re casting on more than about 10 sts, I’d cast on half at the beginning of this first row, and half at the end, so that the seam stays in the center of the sleeve.

Here is what my shrug looks like with the sleeves finished.  (I’ve lightly steamed mine, just so that you can see how it looks; you do not need to steam your knitting at this point.)

You can see that I’ve done two different sleeves.  The one on the left is done “normally” without increasing at the under arm.  For the sleeve on the right, I’ve added extra stitches at the under arm.  I’ve done this so that I can work the next step of the pattern as an example for everyone.  Your sleeves will (hopefully) be the same.  Your sleeves may also be longer or shorter than mine, depending on how you prefer them to look.

Next week, we’ll pick up stitches and start working on the ribbing.

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Knitting with FDR

May 27th, 2009

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My friend Daia stumbled across this photo and thought that I would find it of great interest since I am in the yarn business. The photo features the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his wife Eleanor as newlyweds. I always find it exhilarating to see famous people knitting, so you can imagine my excitement to see one of our former presidents engaged in one of our favorite pastimes. I hope you all will enjoy this photo as much as I do.

5 Tips on Crafting for Men from YarnCraft Episode #41

May 26th, 2009

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On YarnCraft’s latest episode (Crafting Confessional: Stories, Tips, and Projects from Men Who YarnCraft), we ask the guys what they make, what they’d like others to make for them, and to share their funny and interesting stories (from where they yarncraft to how they got started to their secret yarncrafting behaviors). It’s a great episode that’s sure to make you smile.

With Father’s Day coming up, here are 5 great tips for making gifts for men from the episode:

  1. Look to his wardrobe. If he doesn’t wear red, chances are a red scarf is not the way to go. If in doubt about color, go with neutrals like blacks, grays, and browns.
  2. Think texture. Instead of opting for items with a lot of colors, look to interesting stitch patterns and cables to give your project interest. Go to the episode guide from this episode for a list of great patterns including some wonderfully textured scarves and sweaters.
  3. Get cozy. When it comes to non-clothing items, think comfort and relaxation. Blankets are a great item for men, especially big, comfortable ones like our 5 1/2 hour and 6 hour throws. Other great items include drink cozies and remote caddies — all great items to get comfy on the couch or in the den.
  4. Check the size. Many of the sweaters (especially our classic aran sweaters) on are unisex — when in doubt, check the chest size. If the sweater’s small size is a 38″ (or larger) chest size, it’s most likely man-friendly.
  5. Ask him! See what things your guy needs. He may give you some great ideas from shoe bags to golf-club holders to desk organizers to slippers. There are so many ways to incorporate your yarncrafting into your gift-making!

For even more ideas, great stories from our male listeners, and so much more, click here to listen to this episode [MP3].

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A Knitted Village

May 25th, 2009

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A group of women have been working for 23 years to knit their small town of Mersham, England. The wooly Mersham is a highly accurate scale model, including houses, a cricket match, a red phone booth, chickens, townspeople, and more. Read more about the remarkable knitted village here.

Textured Circle Shrug Knit-Along: Separating the Sleeves from the Body

May 21st, 2009

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Just to recap: last week we cast on for the shrug, knit the yoke, and tried on the shrug to make sure it fits.

In today’s post, we will go through some of the possible fit problems that you may have run into while trying on your shrug after last week’s installment.

Once we do that, we will make fit adjustments, place our sleeves on scrap yarn to be worked later, and finish the body of the shrug.

Next week we will finish the sleeves, and in the following post we will begin the neckline trim.

By this time, you’ve completed the yoke portion of the shrug, and are ready to move on to finishing the body (the pink-filled area in the schematic above.)

This is the point at which you have an opportunity to try on your shrug (if you have not done so already) and make any adjustments in the size before continuing with the project.

In my last post, I transferred my whole shrug to a long piece of yarn so that I could show you how the project looks at this stage, and also to show how you could make sure that your shrug fits.  (See last post for photos.)

There are several possible fit issues that might come up at this stage, and we will discuss possible solutions to them in today’s post.

Some possible fit problems:

  1. My shrug fits fine across the back, but the armholes feel too tight.
  2. My shrug is tight across the back and the armholes feel too tight.
  3. My shrug is too big across the back, but the armholes feel fine
  4. My shrug is too big across the back and the armholes feel too big.

Fit issue #1 will be handled next week when we get to the section of the pattern marked “SLEEVES.”  Since we are simply finishing up the body for right now, and your body section fits properly, we don’t do anything different at this point.

Fit issue #2 is corrected by just working a few more rows of the shrug, continuing on in both Textured Stripe AND increasing every RS row.  You can simply knit a few rows, try the shrug back on, see if it fits, and repeat that process until you get your custom fit…

OR you can figure out figure out exactly how many more rows you need to complete by doing the following:

  • Figure out how much wider you need to make the back in inches.
  • Figure out how many stitches you need to make up that measurement.
  • Work enough raglan increase rows to bring you to that width. (At the same time that you are adding width to the back, you are also increasing the sleeves, so this *should* also help the fit of your sleeve.)


  • Say I need to make my shrug bigger across the back by about an inch.
  • Using my gauge, I know that I have about 4.5 stitches in one inch, so I need to add about 4.5 stitches to the back of my shrug to make it one inch wider. (To make the math easier, I’m going to round down to 4 sts.)
  • I increase 2 stitches in the back of the shrug every RS row, so I need to work 2 additional increase rounds in order to increase ~1 inch of width.

Working these extra rounds will also increase the width of my sleeve by one inch.  If that isn’t quite enough extra width at the sleeve for your fit issue, you can add more stitches next week when we get to the “SLEEVES” section of the pattern.

Fit issue # 3: For this fit issue, you will need to rip back a few rows, until the fit across the back feels good to you, and then add more stitches to the sleeve next week when we get to the “SLEEVES” section of the pattern.  You can use the steps in the example above to determine exactly how many rows to rip back in order to get your exact fit.

Fit issue # 4: For this fit issue, you will just rip back a few rows until the back fits you the way you like it, and should not need to add stitches next week when you get to the “SLEEVES” section of the pattern. (Since both your back and sleeves were too big) …but you can if you do need to!

The arrow on the left in the photo below shows how ripping back a few rows will make both the back and sleeves smaller, while the right arrow shows that adding a few rows will make both sections larger:

Now that you’ve solved your fit issues (if you had any) let’s move on to finishing up the body of the shrug.

At this point, the pattern reads:


NEXT ROW(RS): Place next 50(58, 66, 69, 77, 85) sts for first sleeve on scrap yarn to be worked later, rejoin yarn and work to marker, place last 50(58, 66, 69, 77, 85) sts for first sleeve on scrap yarn to be worked later.

So, what you do is just thread a darning needle or tapestry needle with a length of yarn (abot a foot long or so) and use the darning / tapestry needle to remove the 50(58, 66, 69, 77, 85) sts from your circular needle.  Then, you knit or purl (whatever you should do according to the Textured Stripe pattern) across the back, then just place the last 50(58, 66, 69, 77, 85) stitches onto another length of yarn.

It will look like this:

Skip ahead in the post to: NEXT ROW (RS)

  • NOTE: If you already have your whole shrug on a long length of yarn, you can just run your circular needle back through the stitches for the back and leave the sleeves on the scrap yarn. (You’ll have to work one extra row of the back in stitch pattern in order to be caught up with the pattern):

Step 1:

The entire shrug is on a length of waste yarn.  Run your circular needle through ONLY the back section (section between the 2 markers.)

Step 2:

Cut the scrap yarn at center back, pull the cut end out of the back stitches, tie.

Now just tie the ends of the scrap yarn.

Now, the pattern says to “work one row even.”  This just means to work one row in Textured Stripe pattern without doing any increases or decreases.  From this point in the pattern until we begin the next section, you will only be working with the stitches used for the body.

So, work your one row, then go on to:

NEXT ROW (RS): Continue in textured stripe, bind off 3 sts at beg of next 10(8, 0, 16, 0 0) rows.  Then, 4 sts at beg of next 6(8, 14, 4, 16, 16) rows.

  • If you have a zero in the first set of instructions (3rd, 5th, and 6th sizes) you start right away decreasing 4 sts at the beginning of the next 6(8, 14, 4, 16, 16) rows.

Stitches are decreased here in order to give a curved shape to the back of the sweater, so that it slopes inward and will help the ribbing to hug the wearer’s lower back, rather than hanging loosely around the body.

  • Fit tip: If you would like to extend the length of your shrug, I suggest that you do it by lengthening the ribbing, rather than extending this section.  When you add the ribbing, it will pull the lower edges of the shrug, and you will get a “bubble-back” look to the sweater!

Here is what my shrug looks like at this point:

(See my flickr set for more photos)

Here’s how to transfer the stitches onto scrap yarn.  You can do this same process to save the sleeve stitches:

Thread a darning needle loaded with waste yarn through the stitches on the needle.

Remove the sts from the knitting needle onto the darning needle.

Transfer sts from darning needle to yarn.

I’d like to invite everyone to post your progress shots to the flickr pool for this KAL.  And, if you’re still having any “so…what am I doing wrong here?” questions, this would be a great place for you to post photos of what your knitting looks like, so that your fellow “KALers” (including me) can help out.

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Craft for Father’s Day with BK4K!

May 20th, 2009

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BK4K (By Kids, For Kids) is our monthly kids’ newsletter that’s perfect for kids and the adults that craft with them, from parents and grandparents to teachers and scout leaders.

Spend those long summer days crafting! This month’s BK4Kis all about showing appreciation to your dad, so enjoy your summer vacation by making him a Father’s Day present he’ll love and use year-round. Personalize drink cozies and knit a striped remote cozy. These fun patterns are perfect for Father’s Day or any day!

Want to craft without knitting or crocheting? Dad’s desk organizer is a great way to be creative and use scrap yarn.

For more great kid-friendly ideas each month, subscribe to BK4K. If you already have a Lion Brand account, you can simply add it by clicking on “My LBY“, and selecting it under “My Subscriptions.”

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Find Us on Ravelry

May 19th, 2009

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Are you a member of Ravelry? In addition to sharing your projects made with Lion Brand patterns and Lion Brand yarns, you can also join groups and connect with other yarncrafters with similar interests. We’ve got some great groups where you can share your projects, ideas, pictures, and more!

Want to know more about Ravelry? It’s a knitting and crocheting community that features forums, patterns, yarn information, and more. Sign up for free at

Yarn Overcomers Help Unemployed Deal with Stress

May 17th, 2009

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Here’s a story about a group called Yarn Overcomers that teaches unemployed people to reduce stress.

Textured Circle Shrug Knit-Along: Casting On and Working the Yoke

May 14th, 2009

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In this week’s post, we will cast on and work through the YOKE of the shrug.  The yoke of the sweater is the part that contains the cast on edge, the beginnings of the sleeves, and the top part of the body.

Now that you’ve found the perfect yarn, the correctly-sized needles, made your swatch, checked your gauge, and breathed a sigh of relief…LET’S CAST ON!

Gather up your yarn, needles, two stitch markers, and cast on 60 (60, 60, 68, 68, 68) stitches.  (I’m making the 3rd size.)

  • Tip: Even though I’ve been knitting for a number of years, I went through my copy of the pattern and circled the direction numbers and all stitch counts for my size.  This really makes the pattern a lot easier for my eye to follow, especially on a black and white print out.

Do not join to work in the round. Even though we are using circular needles, because the shrug is left open at the front, we work back and forth.

  • We use circular needles because we shape the sleeves and shoulders as we go, so we have to navigate some curves.  It might be possible to knit this shrug on straight needles, but I haven’t tried!

RAGLAN SET-UP ROW (WS):This is the portion of the pattern in which we place our markers and set up the placement of the raglan increases.

The instructions say to begin working in stocking stitch or stockinette (which looks knit on the RS of the fabric.) Because row 1 is a WS row, we need to purl.  So, purl along, placing markers as indicated in the instructions. (pm = “place marker”)

RAGLAN INC ROW (RS): [KFB, work to 1 st before marker, KFB] twice, work to last st, KFB — 66 (66, 66, 74, 74, 74) sts.

Written in this shorthand notation, these instructions may confuse the beginner knitter.  Written in longhand, they would look like this:

  • Knit into the front and back of the first stitch on the needle, work to one stitch before the marker, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, pass marker from left hand needle to right hand needle, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, work to one stitch stitch before the marker, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, pass marker from left hand needle to right hand needle, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, knit to the last stitch, knit into the front and back of the last stitch.

In other words (because even written out longhand, it’s a lot!): Increase in the first stitch, increase one stitch on each side of every marker, and increase in the last stitch. (Increases 6 sts.)

NOTE: KFB = knit into both the front leg and the back leg of the next stitch on the needle.  This increases one stitch.  Here’s a video at showing how to KFB (continental) (English).

Work this whole section (13 rows) in stocking stitch, so that all of the RS rows are knit, and all of the WS rows are purled.

  • Each increase row adds 6 stitches.
  • At the end of this section, you should have 96(96, 96, 104, 104, 104) sts.

Here’s what my knitting looks like after finishing this section:

Here’s a closeup of how the raglan increases look:

NEXT ROW (RS): Begin textured stripe stitch pattern, and at the same time, continue working your raglan increases until you have 180(204, 228, 242, 266, 290) sts.

  • THIS is the point at which you begin working in the textured stripe pattern.  The first 5 rows will look purled on the RS, and the next 8 rows will look knit on the RS.  Then, just repeat this pattern.
  • NOTE: While working in reverse stocking stitch, work your raglan increases as PFB (purl into the front and back of stitch) so that they look purled on the RS (this just adds continuity to the look of the purl sections.) Here’s a video on showing how to PFB (continental) (English).

Here’s what my shrug looks like (on the needles) at the end of this section:

When you break the yarn at the end of the last row, be sure to leave a tail.  Any time in knitting when you cut or break a working yarn, you MUST leave a tail so that that end can either be tied off and woven in, or attached to a new length of yarn and worked later.

TIP: At this point, I suggest that you thread a darning needle with a long length of waste yarn and place the whole shrug onto the waste yarn.  You can now try on your shrug and make sure it fits you properly.

  • If it’s too small, work a few extra rows, continuing your raglan increases every-other row.
  • If it’s too big, just rip back a few rows until it fits.

This may sound like a lot of extra work, but it’s so much better to take the time to check fit now than it is to find it doesn’t fit later!

Here’s what my shrug looks like on a length of waste yarn:

You an see that we’ve formed (from L to R) the cap of the left sleeve, the back of the shrug, and the cap of the right sleeve.

To see if your shrug fits, try it on, matching the points indicated with arrows in the photo above at the under arm.

Next week, we will separate the sleeves and continue to form the back of the shrug.

Related links:

5 Gifts for Bridesmaids from YarnCraft Episode 40

May 13th, 2009

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Amigurumi Little Wedding CakeStart crafting for those summer weddings! In episode 40 of YarnCraft, our bi-weekly audio podcast, Liz and I share the perfect projects for wedding, whether the bride is your family member, your friend, or yourself! From bags and shrugs to afghans and amigurumi, we have great tips for making the big day extra special. We also share great questions and comments from listeners, as well as talk all about dyeing your own yarns.

Here are five great patterns that make great bridesmaid gifts/wedding party favors:

To listen to this episode, click here [MP3]. For more information about the podcast or this episode, visit the YarnCraft blog.

Join us next Tuesday for an episode about men who yarncraft and gifts for guys, with plenty of time until Father’s Day!