This column by Michelle Edwards, author of A Knitter’s Home Companion, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter. To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.
My mother, Lillian Edwards, was a life-long knitter. She was an attractive, well-dressed woman: tall and thin with dark black hair and almond-shaped brown eyes that almost looked Asian. She called them “laughing eyes,” and that is how I like to remember them.
I’m told that as a young woman my mother knit socks, argyle ones. It was in the days before I was born, perhaps before she was married … maybe even as a young, single, working woman, living in Manhattan with her parents in a tiny apartment on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island.
My mother grew up poor. Her parents were both Russian immigrants. My grandma Yetta, with a handkerchief soaked in vinegar, wrapped around her head, rested a lot. She suffered from migraines and was always carrying a large purse with her — as if she was waiting to be uprooted again. This time she would be prepared. I would often seen her stuffing sugar packets in her purse when we were at HoJo’s.
My grandfather, Samuel, was as a quiet man. Hard to reconcile my gentle grandpa with the gangster he used to be. My grandfather and his brothers were the strongmen for a liquor smuggling ring during prohibition. When they double crossed the boss, two of my uncles were murdered in broad daylight at a Philadelphia street corner. My grandparents, my mother, and my uncle fled Philadelphia in a hurry and slipped into Coney Island where they could meld and blend into the mass of Russian Jews like themselves.
I don’t know who taught my mother to knit. Maybe my grandmother did, when she was not resting. It wasn’t a question I ever thought to ask my mother when she was alive. I know that she taught me how to knit and that she knit like a Russian Jew, with her yarn in left hand, wrapped around second finger, picking open the stitch and pulling the yarn through with her right hand needle. It is a very fast and efficient way to knit and I am often asked by knitters out here in the Midwest to teach them “my way” of knitting.
Posted in Wellness | Comments Off Comments
Hand-knit and hand-crocheted items make great gifts to be treasured and loved. Make them even more special by making them unique. Pick colors special to you or your recipient and you’re sure to please, says Jackie Smyth, our technical editor. We asked Jackie to recommend readers three patterns that feature color as the main attraction. (This column originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.)
|Knit Slip Stitch Pom Hat||Crochet Sante Fe Throw||Crochet Little Princess Throw|
LBY Newsletter: Knitting and crocheting are great for handmade gifts that really reflect the giver or the recipient. What’s a simple recommendation about how to customize a project?
Jackie: One word—COLOR. The great thing about patterns is that it’s easy to choose other colors in the same yarns and get a totally different look. To make a pattern really personal, choose colors that you like or that have representative meanings to the recipient. Perhaps they love autumn colors or spring colors. The right colors can add a lot of depth to a project.
LBY Newsletter: What if you are nervous about choosing colors that will go together?
Jackie: Going with a yarn that has a great color range is often a good place to start. The Lion Brand Design team works to create yarn collections that are designed that coordinate beautifully.
LBY Newsletter: What’s a yarn you might recommend for someone looking for easy-to-match yarns?
Jackie: Vanna’s Choice® is a great yarn for mixing and matching colors. All 23 of the solid colors in this collection are designed to match and coordinate. You could use three colors in one family—say, Dusty Rose, Rose, and Antique Rose—to get a light-to-dark effect, or you could pick a few contrasting colors like Purple, Chocolate, Pea Green, and Rust that will really pop against each other.
It’s good to look for inspiration from the things around you. The garden is one place to find unexpectedly beautiful contrasting colors. Fashion and architecture are other places to draw inspiration.
LBY Newsletter: Would you recommend a few colorful patterns for our readers?
Jackie: For a simple project, I like the Slip Stitch Pom Hat pattern. We’ve carefully plotted the colors for each pattern stripto create a bold statement piece, but I would encourage you to experiment with your own color combinations. You could draw from the current fashion concept of Normcore and create a more traditionally color hat.
Next, I like the Santa Fe Throw. In colors to match the recipient’s home décor, it but would make a truly fabulous house warming gift.
My third recommendation, the Little Princess Throw, of the impact of color in your project. Tailor your color choice to the baby to create an heirloom – or have fun with gender neutral brights–have fun!
Don’t be afraid to change the colors in a pattern to suit you better. That’s the great thing about knitting and crocheting; you can really make every item your own.
LBY Newsletter: Thank you for your recommendations, Jackie. We look forward to speaking with you again next month.
For more pattern ideas, click to visit our Pattern Finder.
To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.
Looking for a fast, last minute gift for an anniversary, birthday, or baby shower? The secret is to pick a project that uses basic stitches and multiple strands of yarn, says Jackie Smyth, Lion Brand’s technical editor. We asked Jackie to recommend two quick and simple patterns for beautiful afghans on the fly and to tell us all about why she likes them. (This column originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.)
|Fast Finish Throw||Speed Hook Baby Blanket|
LBY Newsletter: You’ve chosen two simple, speedy patterns for our readers. What’s your first recommendation?
Jackie: I love the Fast Finish Throw because it’s just about as simple as they come. The beautiful colors in this afghan are soothing and it has a wonderful texture.
This project is easy and fast for two reasons: First, it’s made using only stockinette stitch. And second, it’s worked on Speed Stix, our exclusive size 50 knitting needles. When you work with Speed Stix the resulting fabric is quite forgiving so exact gauge is not a worry, making it simpler for knitters of all levels. When you knit with Speed Stix, it creates stitches that are an inch tall, which means that you see results quickly.
LBY Newsletter: What about the gorgeous colors in this afghan? How did you get that blended effect?
Jackie:The Fast Finish Throw is made with four different colors of Jiffy®yarn held together, so it has the beautiful look of tweed. It’s a gorgeous look without a lot of effort, something that everyone from beginners to designers can appreciate.
LBY Newsletter: That definitely sounds like a great, simple project. What’s the second pattern you’d like to recommend to our readers?
Jackie: My second recommendation is our Speed Hook Baby Blanket. You only need to know how to do a single crochet stitch to make this one! This blanket is made with our size S-35 Speed Hook, which is an extra large crochet hook. Again, your gauge doesn’t have to be exact with the Speed Hook. Like the first afghan, this adorable baby blanket also uses multiple strands of yarn—this time three strands of Cotton-Ease—which not only makes it extremely fast to crochet, but adds dimension to the color. You can make it in the recommended colors, our alternative color combination, or in colors of your own choosing. I think that this one is absolutely perfect to make for a last minute gift.
LBY Newsletter: So what are the main things that our readers should remember about these projects?
Jackie: Again, the key to the ease and beauty of both of these projects is simplicity. You can use basic stitches and super-sized needles and hooks, along with multiple strands of yarn worked together, to make these simple and satisfying blankets.
LBY Newsletter: Thanks for your recommendations, Jackie. We look forward to speaking to you again next month for more great tips.
For more great patterns, sign up for our New Patterns Alert, and see the latest creations from our Design Department.
To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.
It’s our final week of the knit along. Time to talk about finishing up and showing off our projects! I hope that throughout the knit along you have been able to pick up skills and tricks that have not only helped you in this project, but that will carry over into others and help you approach lace with more confidence.
So who feels like that 90 inches is just too far away?
Rather than letting the shawl hibernate in your works in progress basket you may be able to modify it and finish up early. If it’s too short for a shawl it might make a great cowl. Just sew the two ends together and you’ll have a stylish accessory that will carry you right into the winter!
If it is long enough to wrap around your shoulders you can use a shawl pin to keep it closed and wear it like a stole like I did.
Now if you made it all the way to 90 inches you might find the shawl a little unruly at times. To keep it in place, try sewing a few buttons along one edge of the shawl. You’ll then be able to wrap the shawl around you any way you like and secure it by using the yarn overs as button holes.
No matter how you style it you’ll have a beautiful project that everyone will be so impressed that you made! I hope you all have had fun and learned a lot. Keep your questions coming this week as your projects move toward the finish line!
|About Grace: Grace DiLorenzo has been knitting for the last 10 years. What started as a hobby quickly grew into a passion. Her favorite things to make are garments and lace. As a teacher at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York City she has been able to share her love of yarn crafting teaching beginning through advanced knitting and yarn dyeing classes. She has lead the first four in studio knit alongs and is excited to do it again!|
Welcome back everybody. Its week three, we’re halfway through the knit along and I’m sure you are all starting to see some progress. Some of you may be cruising along without a care but more likely you’ve ripped back so many times that if you have to do it again you’ll be ripping out some hair as well! This week I’ll show you how you can save the work you’ve already done, and your sanity, with a lifeline.
A lifeline is a piece of yarn that you thread though a row of stitches. Once it’s in place you can rip back to the lifeline if needed without disturbing any of the work below it. I like to put a lifeline in after finishing a pattern repeat or after any part that I’ve struggled with and don’t want to risk having to do it again. To put a lifeline in thread a needle with some waste yarn then thread the yarn through each stitch on your needle.
Welcome back everybody! I hope you all had a fun week of swatching and getting started. This week I want to focus on something that is inevitable with lace knitting and many of you may have already run into…mistakes. The most common mistake in lace knitting is missing a yarn over. It is such an easy mistake to make that even veteran lace knitters make it from time to time. How do you know if this has happened to you? If you get to the end of a row and don’t have enough stitches to complete the pattern, you have missed a yarn over. Although it may be tempting to just add a stitch and move on this will throw off the whole look of the pattern. To fix it you’ll have to get to the root of the problem. I’m going to give you a couple tricks to help find the offending missed yarn over and fix it.
The first thing you’ll want to make sure of is that you don’t go too far past the mistake. One good thing to do is to count your stitches at the end of each lace row. Being able to “read” your knitting is another helpful skill. This is like retracing your steps to find the spot where things went wrong. Just read through the pattern stitch by stitch and try to recognize those stitches in your row. The yarn overs are the easiest to recognize, just a big hole. If it says YO in the pattern and you don’t see a hole, bingo! You have found it! This can be difficult to do so don’t worry if you can’t see it at first.
Hi, I’m Grace and I’m so excited to be leading the knit along for the Spring Lace Shawl.
This is a great project for both experienced knitters and beginners who are ready to advance beyond simple stitch patterns. With an elegant lace pattern and a chunky, multi-stranded construction, this quick knit will be the perfect addition to your wardrobe to curl up with on those cooler spring evenings.
I’ll be posting every week giving you tips for getting through the project successfully.
I work in Lion Brand’s New York Design Department, where every day is a bit like a birthday! Wrapped packages arrive every afternoon – each holding a new and exciting design. On a daily basis, we’re all inspired to add way too many new items to our project queues.
When we opened the box containing the Neutral Cabled Afghan, I knew it was something I should put at the top of my list.
A good friend recently moved from New York (a city of steam heat) to less well heated Dublin, so was clearly in need of something to wrap up in on chilly evenings. The colors of the Neutral Cabled Afghan are a perfect match for his color scheme and the cables are lovely nod to his Celtic surroundings.
I’m a big fan of interesting construction techniques, so I was super excited when I saw how this afghan was made. No sewing! And a different stitch pattern on each of the panels means I’ll never be bored.
We featured David Muir on our Facebook page earlier this month, which received an overwhelming positive response. We asked him a few questions about himself and how he got interested in crocheting.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, like where you’re from and why you decided to join the military.
I’m originally from Easton, Maryland but I call Pooler, Georgia home now. I joined the Army because of the “adventure” and “awesome toys” — eventually it became more than that. I worked with a group of individuals that became my great friends, and my family.
I was in the Army for 10 years until I decided to seek new adventures. Many of us were stationed together for 6+ years. At that point, others started getting out or changing duty station. It just changed. It wasn’t the same. I needed to try something new. When I got out of the Army in July 2011 I lived in Spain for the summer. I even worked at a scuba dive shop just for fun.
|David Muir and his first afghan,
made with Hometown USA.
After that I moved to Pooler, GA where I lived with my brother, Danny. I worked for Gulfstream as a Quality Engineer but soon missed my Army brothers. When I heard my old unit was deploying to Afghanistan, I decided to look for a job with the slight chance I’ll see them again. Working on the Apache Helicopter is my specialty so our field is quite small. Unfortunately I didn’t get the same base as my old unit, so I’m not in the military anymore. Now I work for DynCorp Aviation.
Last month I wrote an article called “Why bother knitting a scarf?” Much to my surprise, I received thousands of positive reactions from readers who share my love of homemade, local, and beautiful “slow fashion” items. Clearly, knitting is being embraced by people from all walks of life who benefit from its peaceful, relaxing repetition. It got me wondering – what’s really going on when people knit? Why is it so tremendously popular?
It turns out that knitting has incredible health benefits. It makes people feel good in just about every way. A bit of research has revealed a wide range of ways in which knitting helps humans cope, physically and mentally.
1. Knitting is used for therapy. It’s a powerful distractant, helping people manage long-term physical pain. For those who are depressed, knitting can motivate them to connect with the world. It is a conversation starter, allowing people to interact politely without making eye contact. It builds confidence and self-esteem.
2. Knitting is supremely relaxing, which is extremely important for reducing stress and anxiety. Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, wrote The Relaxation Response, in which he recommends the repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or muscular activity to elicit “the relaxation response” – decreased heart rate, muscle tension, and blood pressure. Knitting is likened to meditation, sometimes described by knitters as “spiritual” and “Zen-like.”
3. Knitting connects people. By joining a knitting group, a solitary activity turns into a social one. One study, called “The Benefits of Knitting for Personal and Social Wellbeing in Adulthood” and published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, found that “knitting in a group impacted significantly on perceived happiness, improved social contact, and communication with others.”