Knit – OMG Yarn (balls)

Knit

How to Take Your Shawl Game to the Next Level: Applied Lace Borders

May 17, 2017




Shawls are one of my favorite things to knit. They’re versatile wearables, great for every season and occasion, AND I absolutely love how simple, beginner-friendly shawls show off hand dyed yarn.

Now, if you really want to take your shawl knitting game to the next level, you may want to try a couple different patterns with new techniques.

My latest shawl design, the Water Shawl, uses an applied border (aka applied lace border or knitted-on border).

What is an applied lace border?

An applied lace border is a type of border treatment where the stitches are worked at a 90-degree angle to the body stitches. In all seriousness (this is a Melina-ism phrase), nothing special is really done, you’re just casting on border stitches and then working the last stitch of the border row with the first live stitch from the body (k2tog or how you’re otherwise instructed by the designer). Then you turn your work, and the next live body stitch is worked together with the first stitch of the next wrong side border row.

This will all make sense in a minute here.

In the case of the Water Shawl, you end up working the body of the shawl in a top down fashion. Then, on a right side row, you cast on the proper number of border chart stitches and start working them, working a k2tog with the last border row stitch, and the first live stitch from the body.




Dangit, Melina, that makes absolute no sense. Show me some pictures dagnabbit.

I know, I know. So, let me show you, using the Water Shawl to demonstrate:

    1. First, to set up, when I finished working all the charts for the body of the Water Shawl, I turned the whole work so the right side was facing me. Place a marker before your live stitches (to alert you when you get to the live stitches), and then, using the backward loop method, cast on the number of border stitches necessary. In the case of the Water Shawl, I cast on 29.
    2. Work the first row of your border chart/instructions to the last stitch, which will get you to one stitch before your marker like this: 
    3. Slip the stitch from your left needle onto the right, remove the stitch marker, and place the stitch you slipped back on the left needle. Essentially, you’re just removing that stitch marker for a second.
    4. Now, knit two stitches together (k2tog)……and turn so the wrong side is facing.
    5. If you notice, the working yarn is now on the left needle. The next live stitch from the body is on the right needle. Slip that live stitch onto the left hand needle and put your stitch marker on the right needle.
    6. Now, purl two together (p2tog).Do you see how that works? Here’s what it should look like after you purl those two stitches together:
    7. Now you can go on to finish the rest of the row as written.
    8. Repeat steps 2 through 7 ad nauseam et infinitum (until you run out of live stitches).

    Why use the applied lace border in a design?

    The applied border allows for extra drape along the border. The Water Shawl is definitely a huge beast of a shawl and needs all the help it can get to get that swagger going. An applied border seemed like the only option, really.

    I think it also adds a unique dimension to any design. Honestly, anytime I see any knit or crochet item, I’m analyzing its construction (be warned, as an introvert, I’m probably more into your sweater until I get to know you better…lol). With this type of border, your stitches are perpendicular to the body stitches, so as a knitter and a designer, I like seeing the stitches go in different directions.

    Want to make the Water Shawl? Click here to go to Ravelry to purchase or click on the patterns tab above and that will take you to my Etsy store which also has the pattern available.




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Learn to Knit: Continental Knitting

April 13, 2017





Now that you’ve learned how to cast on your stitches, how about learn how to knit and purl those stitches, eh?

Knitting is made up of knit stitches and purl stitches, and just like with crochet, you can hold the yarn in your left hand or you can hold the yarn in your right hand. The difference with knitting is that the stitches themselves and the direction in which you knit do not change with how you hold your yarn.

I’ve come across several conversation threads where crocheters are learning to knit and were searching for left-handed knitting vs. right-handed knitting…nope, knitting is funny that way…the stitches are the same no matter what.

Choosing how to hold your yarn is a matter of comfort or preference. I’m teaching you about this one first, because it’s the trickiest and takes longest to master. I will say this: those speed demon knitters use this style of knitting. So you’ll be a fast knitter once you master this technique!

What is Continental Knitting?

Continental knitting, also known as German or European Knitting, is a style of knitting in which the yarn is held in the left hand and the right hand uses the knitting needle to work the stitches. You can be left- or right-handed to knit this way, so it’s kinda misleading to call it left-handed knitting (read: just don’t call it that…LOL).




What you’ll need:

  • Yarn (of course) – In the video below, I used Vanna’s Choice yarn. It’s 100% acrylic and one of the softer wallet-friendly yarns that I like to use for projects.
  • Knitting Needles – Choose the needles suggested by the label on your yarn. For this demonstration, I used US 9 circular needles (beginners, use straight needles – they come in a package of two with nothing connecting the two needles). You will need both of your knitting needles.
  • Patience – It’ll take some time to learn how to knit and usually I took an entire 2-hour class period for teaching my students how to master the stitches. Don’t get frustrated, every one takes quite a few tries before they get it.

Before you start…

Cast on a good 24 stitches or so using the long-tail cast on method I taught you.

Watch the video (and subscribe to my YouTube Channel)

In the video I started out with some stitches already worked, so that it was easier for you to see what I’m doing. The long-tail cast on actually knits on some stitches for you anyway, so it’s like a bonus row already done for you.

You will need to hold the needle with all your cast on stitches in your left hand. The tension on the working yarn is kept by using your left finger as demonstrated in the video.

Knit Stitch

  1. Hold your yarn in back (behind the needle).
  2. Insert right needle from front to back.
  3. Grab the working yarn with your right needle. Remember, the working yarn is the yarn that is connected to the yarn ball. Make sure you are not grabbing the tail from where you cast on your stitches.
  4. Use the needle in you right hand to pull that working yarn through the stitch to the front.
  5. Complete the stitch by using the right hand needle to pull the loop you started with off the left needle. The working yarn loop that you pulled to the front is now on your right needle.

Congratulations! You’ve knit your first stitch. Keep practicing that knit stitch for a couple of rows until you get the hang of it.

When you get to the end of a row, all your loops are on your right needle. Take that needle and move it to your left hand with the tip facing toward the right, like how you started the row.

Once you feel like you are ready, try the purl stitch (in the same video).




Purl Stitch

  1. Your yarn is held in front for a purl stitch (in front of the needle). Uh oh! What the bleep does that mean?! At the beginning of a row, it’s easy, just swing your yarn to the front. If you’re in the middle of a row, bring the yarn to the front in between your two needles NOT over the top of either needle (that will create yarn over, which means extra loops, and your project will start to grow…you don’t want that).
  2. Insert your right needle from right to left. Check out the different angles of my video in order to see what that looks like.
  3. Use the right needle to wrap the working yarn around. This is the tricky part. Watch this section of the video many times. Yes, it’s that important. To be honest, I have a hard time describing this part in a written fashion. You may think to yourself, “but if I just grab the yarn with the needle and pull it through the back, that’s easier!” Unfortunately, if you do it that way, your stitch is twisted and it is not a proper purl stitch. Use your left finger to help wrap the yarn and stabilize it.
  4. Once your working yarn is wrapped properly, pull that loop out through the back (as shown in the video). Like with the knit stitch, use the right hand needle to pull the loop you started with off the left needle. The working yarn loop that you pulled to the front is now on your right needle.

You did it! You can knit!




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Long-Tail Cast On: Start Your Knitting Off Right with This Method of Casting On Stitches

April 12, 2017

There are tons of different ways that you can get started with knitting. It’s called casting on, which is how you get all of your stitches onto the needle so that you can begin a project.

While there are so many ways that you can get your stitches on the needle, the long-tail cast on is what I teach all of my beginners, because it’s the most versatile and best looking.

Let’s get started with my favorite method of casting on stitches. It’s called the long-tail cast on. Below the embedded video you will see my written out steps on what to do here.




What you’ll need:

  • Yarn (of course) – In the video below, I used Vanna’s Choice yarn. It’s 100% acrylic and one of the softer wallet-friendly yarns that I like to use for projects.
  • Knitting Needles – Choose the needles suggested by the label on your yarn. For this demonstration, I used US 9 circular needles (beginners, use straight needles – they come in a package of two with nothing connecting the two needles). You will only need one of your two knitting needles.
  • Patience – It’ll take some time to learn how to cast on your stitches and usually I took an entire 2-hour class period for teaching my students this method. That way they could practice over and over again and then get their project started before the end of class. Don’t get frustrated, every one takes quite a few tries before they get it.





Here we go!

  1. Make a slip knot and place this loop on your knitting needle. This counts as one of your cast on stitches. So, for example, if the pattern you’re making says cast on 36 stitches, that slip knot counts as one of those 36 stitches. Woohoo, you’ve already started something!
  2. Grab your tail. It’s important to remember that for how I teach the long-tail cast on, the tail of your yarn is always looped on your thumb. Thumb and tail both start with the letter ‘T’ and that’s how I remember.
  3. Wrap the tail around your left thumbJust as shown on the video, once you grab the tail of your yarn, you’re going to wrap the yarn around your thumb, forming a loop. It’s very important that you start the wrap by bringing your thumb from over the top and loop the thumb around in a counter-clockwise motion.
  4. Wrap the working yarn around your left index finger. Your index finger is going to come up from underneath the working yarn, the strand that is attached to the ball of yarn. The next step will help form that loop around your index finger.
  5. Rotate your left hand to get your yarn into position. The video is better at demonstrating this, but you’re left hand is going to rotate so that your palm is face up. That act helps loop the yarn around your index finger and thumb and makes the loops presentable for the act of casting on more stitches.
  6. Thread the needle through the loop on your thumb from below. Refer to the video for this step. Your needle tip will come from underneath the loop and through said loop.
  7. Grab the yarn from your index finger with your needle and pull through the thumb loop. Essentially, you’re pulling that top yarn, the index finger yarn, with the needle and pulling it through the loop on your thumb. Keep watching, the magic is about to happen.
  8. Drop the thumb loop. What?! Yes, I promise. Drop that loop off of your thumb. That will allow the loop you just made to close onto your needle.

You’re going to repeat steps 3-8 for the complete number of stitches that you need to cast on.




Some helpful hints:

  • You can use your thumb to tighten the stitches onto the needle, but don’t pull too tight. 
  • If your cast on stitches are too tight – the stitches should be snug on the needle, but loose enough to move freely once you start your next row – start over and keep playing around with tension.
  • Don’t drop the yarn from both fingers every time, just the thumb. The act of re-wrapping the yarn on your thumb can also help tighten your stitches.

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How to Choose the RIGHT Yarn for Your Next Project

April 5, 2017




Having good results with any knit or crochet project depends a LOT on the yarn you choose to work with. It can make or break a design and it can determine how much you (or a lucky recipient of your hard work) love to wear the completed item.

As a yarn shop owner, I always enjoyed helping customers pick out yarn for all kinds of patterns: sweaters, shawls, afghans, mittens, you name it. I know some shops like to make the sale, but I liked happy customers, and nothing made customers happier than getting the right yarn every time (or most of the time…). My quaint little yarn shop depended on repeat customers who depended on what I’d picked out for them. Let’s just say that I had a couple repeat customers who had such amazing taste in yarn, I couldn’t wait for their next visit to sit down and page through my catalogs and samples to find just the right yarn that I had available through suppliers (Dear Skacel, your yarn catalog was my favorite to page through and fawn over).

To be honest, I’ve even walked through my local JoAnn’s and helped people select good yarn for a project there – I mean, that’s the kind of yarn I had access to before I was introduced to yarn shops. When you don’t have someone to help you look through yarn or who is pushing the sale of yarn you don’t need or want (yes, there’s such a thing), you need to know what you should consider when picking the right yarn for your next project. So let’s take a look, shall we?

The Project

Of course, the first question I asked was, “What are you making?” Is it a sweater/jumper? Is it a shawl or scarf? Is it meant to be worn next to the skin? Is it meant to be worn over or under something? All of these are important questions. I mean, would you want to wear a scarf next to your neck that has itchy or tough fibers that poke at your skin? Probably not.

Budget

Believe me, I know budgets can be tight too. If you don’t have a big box store nearby, your local yarn shop is the answer, however, those boutique level yarns can get pricey. Not everyone can make a sweater or afghan out of yarn that costs $20 for each 100g ball. Remember, though, you get what you pay for with “economy” yarns.

The small print to read here though is: even expensive yarn can have poor manufacturing, so make sure you read reviews if you can before you buy. I won’t blast any yarn companies in particular, but nothing peeved me more than yarns from manufacturers with poor quality control. Self-striping yarns at $15-$25 per ball with knots in them, abrupt color changes, or out of sequence color changes can totally throw off your project’s aura in a heartbeat.




Yarn Composition and Characteristics

The same yarn may behave differently for different knitters/crocheters AND can behave one way for a knitter but another way for a crocheter.

Ahem, BIG CHUNKY FURRY EYELASH YARN IS NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO CROCHET WITH! Well, at least for me anyway. The fur hides the stitches and they’re sooooooooo difficult to keep track of. I always ended up with weirdly shaped scarves.

If your project needs some drape to it, like for a scarf, shawl, skirt, or dress, you will want to choose a yarn that will do that. Plant or non-animal based fibers are always good for those types of projects (think cotton, bamboo, silk, tencel, etc.).

If your project needs to insulate or keep someone rather warm, choose animal-based fiber blends. Alpaca fibers, in particular, are hollow and thus insulate really well, so you’ll notice that projects made from this luxury fiber will keep you warmer. You might want to avoid alpaca for summery shawls or accessories.

Yarn “Memory”

Projects that require some bounce-back or memory – think projects with ribbing like socks or sweaters – you want to use fibers/yarns that will meet that challenge. Most cotton fibers will create loose, drapey fabrics, so they will lose their shape with wear or added moisture from sweat. As a result, I don’t usually suggest cotton for socks or sweaters.

Notions and Tools Needed

You also need to consider whether or not you’ll be able to use that yarn with all the notions and tools you’ll use to complete the project. If your project needs buttons or zippers, avoid single plies or lofty fibers that will get caught or tangled.

The Wearer

As a mom of three, I LOVE to make little sweaters and things for my kiddos. When you need to knit or crochet for babies and kids, you have to remember that they will fidget, cry, or rip off any clothes that are not comfortable. That’s why I don’t like to use wool for their projects. If I do need to use wool or that’s my absolute only choice, I pick merino wool, which is the softest to work with.




You will also need to consider if the person you are making the project for has any allergies. If they have allergies to specific dyes, like from hand dyed yarn, or to wool, you will need to use alternative fibers that are a good substitute for what you cannot use. Cannot use wool, but need something with memory to it? I am a big fan of Kraemer Yarn’s Tatamy yarn – a cotton/acrylic blend that comes in worsted or DK and is soft, hard wearing, and not quite as memory-free as most cottons.

The Case of Hand Dyed and other Novelty Yarns

Big shocker, I’m going to add a special section about hand dyed yarn. When working with hand dyed yarns or intricate novelty yarns, you want the yarn to speak for itself in the project. So if you’re looking at these kinds of yarn without a project in mind, pick the project to show off the yarn. Most simple, beginner-friendly projects, are GREAT for these kinds of yarns. Single stitch scarves, mostly stockinette stitch sweaters, non-lacy items, those would be the best to choose. If you have a beautifully mosaic dyed sock yarn, vanilla socks are the way to go.

I hope this helps the next time you’re stuck on what yarn to use for your next fiber arts endeavor. Let me know how it goes!




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Beginner Friendly Knit Patterns: Hand-Picked for You by OMG Yarn

March 27, 2017

One of the many things you end up doing as a yarn shop owner is scouring Ravelry and the internet for patterns that will keep beginning knitters confident in their newfound craft. They need to keep buying yarn, right? Well, now that I don’t have the yarn shop, I find myself still eyeing up some of the gorgeous new patterns that are surfacing as the result of this maker movement taking over.




I have a ton of things listed from my yarn shop days in my Ravelry queue, but I thought I’d share the wealth and created a Pinterest board that includes some of my go-to patterns for Knitting 101.

A couple of my favorites…

The Garter Stripes Cardigan – by Melina Martin Gingras

This was the first pattern I had ever written. Ever. It came about because I wanted to make a simple yoke cardigan pattern for a baby and I couldn’t find one anywhere! It’s now my go-to pattern for whenever someone I know has a baby. I’m even working on one right now for my littlest, Ola. It’s great for learning how to knit sweaters. This can be used with OMG Rushmore yarn (available in my Etsy shop) and knit in a single color or multiple colors. The original was knit in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, another one of my favorite yarns to work with.

Supporter Scarf Number One – by Nicole Drouillard

This is my favorite HUGE scarf pattern to pass on to other people. If you’re into sports or making gifts for your favorite sports fan, this quick knit scarf is perfect! (Did you see the big picture at the top of this post? That’s the scarf!




So take a peek at some of the projects that I have saved on the Beginner Friendly Knits Pinterest board, save, share, and knit! You’ll make a million of each of these!

Here’s my Beginner Friendly Knits Pinterest Board, which of course, takes you to the patterns:

 

Adventures in Sock Knitting: Join in on the Sock Madness

March 13, 2017

“Can you make something like that, mom?” My son constantly asks me if I can knit something he sees in stores. My response is the same every time, “I can knit anything, sweetie.” I usually say that jokingly, but as I cast on the socks for the qualification round for this years’ Sock Madness, I realized, I actually can knit anything, thanks to Sock Madness.

If you are a glutton for punishment  die hard knitter but want to challenge yourself in speed and new techniques, you need to join Ravelry’s Sock Madness group (like, yesterday). I first learned how to knit socks when Peanut, my oldest, was a baby. It took a lot of muddling through poorly written free patterns, but eventually, because I’d stuck with it, it became my favorite thing to make. If you check my Ravelry Project Page, you’ll see that I’m not joking.

But why knit socks?

There’s a good Craftsy article on that subject, actually, but I have a few of my own reasons too. When I ran Midwest Yarn, my yarn shop, I always explained the advantages of having handmade socks to my newbie sock knitters:


  • The properties of wool make handmade socks perfect for a wide variety of situations and wearers. I had plenty of customers making wool socks for their husbands (and one male knitter who learned how to make socks just so he could knit them for his wife) because they are hard wearing, warm, and can be worn several times before the need to be washed. Wool wicks away moisture, meaning your feet are not marinating in sweat (you’re welcome for that visual).
  • You can make unique socks for people of all ages and sizes. This is pretty self explanatory, but still, I mean, research shows that people who wear wild and crazy socks tend to be more intelligent (and have superior awesome-ness if you ask me). My boyfriend, Dennis, has HUGE size 12 feet, so I probably won’t be making socks for him, that’d be two 100 gram balls of yarn minimum!
  • They (usually) are very comfortable. I say usually, because, let’s face it, I’m picky about clothes. I don’t like wearing socks made from yarn larger than fingering weight, because I am sensitive and an feel each individual stitch digging into my feet. I know plenty of people, including my mother, who like thick boot socks. Dennis wears thicker (store-bought) wool socks for trudging through winter snow or below freezing temperatures all day (he’s a FedEx contractor, and those guys definitely don’t get snow days).

The Sock Knitter’s Toolbox

Here’s the basics of what you’ll need for knitting a decent pair of socks:

  • Double-pointed needles (wooden or metal, but I recommend Karbonz by Knitter’s Pride if you really get into it) or circular needles for magic loop method.
  • Good Sock Yarn. This may be a controversial statement, but you don’t necessarily need to get yarn with nylon in it in order to have a long-lasting pair of socks. I’m not just saying this to sell more yarn from my Etsy Shop, I’m saying it from experience. I have enough hand-knit socks to not ever have to buy anymore from the store and I wear mine for running, walking, around the house, etc. I have had wool/nylon blend socks fall apart on me, while their all wool counter parts hold up year after year. You want to find a yarn with a good, solid twist/spin to it, which helps reinforce the structure of the sock. Sock designers tend to incorporate a reinforced heel to help too, but with dozens of different heel techniques out there, that may not always be the case. The sturdiest pair of socks I own, made from OMG Calatrava Yarn, a fingering weight 100% Superwash Merino Wool. It has a very tight twist, but it’s soft, and I love it.

    Toe-Up Ribbed Socks, free pattern when you sign up for our mailing list (Knitters)

  • A good pattern. I recommend a good pair of vanilla socks to start. I have a good toe-up sock pattern that I wrote for my sock knitting students. Join our email list (sign up on the bottom, right hand side) and check the box that you’re a knitter, I’ll send you a copy of the pattern, free. If you’re more of an advanced knitter, or would like a new challenge, I would check out some of the previous Sock Madness patterns if you missed the qualifying round for the current competition.

Why Sock Madness?

I recommend Sock Madness and it’s not just because I’ve been a designer for the warm-up round a couple years ago (The Choose Your Own Adventure Socks are now available for purchase on Ravelry). I learned some of the more difficult techniques that I know now from biting the bullet and joining this competition.

German cast-on. Super-stretchy bind-offs. Zippers. Different cuff treatments. Buttons. Steeks. Fair-isle. Mosaic Knitting. They definitely know how to throw things at you for Sock Madness. If you join the group, you can see lists of the patterns from previous competitions and try them on your own.

My finished pair from the 2017 Sock Madness Qualifying Round. I’ve officially gotten the email, and I’m moving on to the next round.

The rules are pretty strict so that people cannot cheat in the competition. As long as you follow the competition rules and finish quickly, you definitely will go far in this competition. The farthest I’ve made it is Round 7, and that was an accomplishment in and of itself. The only reason I was slow that year was because of the birth of Sharky and some health issues that led to temporary paralysis of my left thumb and index finger (talk about a rough couple of weeks).

If you need a cheerleader, I’m happy to be there for you, because sock knitting is so incredibly addicting. That is, if you don’t catch a case of Second Sock Syndrome (the unfortunate reason only single socks get made, sometimes you finish one and aren’t feeling the desire to make the second one).

From Concept to Reality: 6 Tips to Writing Awesome Knit or Crochet Design Proposals

March 6, 2017

When I design for an OMG Yarn only publication, I can just execute a design when and how I want to. That’s kind of the point, right? Working for yourself, you can design the things you want. I picture something in my head, I pull out my stitch dictionaries, and I write a pattern. I am not confident with my sketching skills, so I leave the drawing pictures to when it is absolutely necessary.

One of the hardest things we have to do as a knit or crochet designers is take a concept and describe it well enough to get someone else excited about it. Occasionally, I come across design calls that inspire some unique things using a yarn I’ve been eyeing up (the nicest thing about designing for other companies is not the money, it’s the yarn). Although each design call is a little bit different and each company asks for different elements, the basic elements of a design proposal are pretty much universal.

 

Here’s a few things you can do to help your design proposal stand out from the bunch:

 

  1. Describe your general concept. Obviously, you need to let people know what your idea is. Don’t just show them with a sketch, share what your inspiration was. Tell the prospective company why the project is important to you. If you were inspired by something in nature, include a picture (if there’s room). If you were determined to re-create a classic design or a design from another type of craft, share that, put your own spin on it. My personal belief is that if a design does not make me say “OMG”, it’s not worth doing. I show the reader what makes me say “OMG” and try to get them on that level as well.
  2. Be creative with your proposal, but follow the instructions in the design call. Submitting to a design call is like turning an assignment in to your teacher and completing a job interview all in one. You’re demonstrating how well you can work with others AND how well you can follow directions.

    What does that mean for a design call? Well, if they ask you to keep your proposal to one page, keep it to one page. That should go without saying. Seriously.  As a former hiring manager, nothing bothered me more than someone who could not follow the application directions. If we asked for our applicants to provide a specific thing, to save time, I literally threw out all the resumes that didn’t include that thing. I mean, why work with that person if they cannot follow a simple instruction? I have read many a design call that have that specific line item in it (if you cannot follow directions, your proposal will not be considered). Instructions are not suggestions.All that said, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun with your design proposal. The picture above, I submitted with a design proposal for the Enderis Park Pullover for Holla Knits. I used my very limited Adobe Photoshop skills and showed the design in action (as per the instructions from the design call). It’s one of my favorite designs and I still wear the sample I knit.
  3. Keep it simple. Don’t overthink your design too much. Chances are, your first idea was the right idea, but make sure you can properly execute your design concept. Unless the call or the potential audience for your design demands complicated techniques, keep it simple. That does not mean you can’t try a different way of constructing your project, but you definitely do not need to make the knitter or crocheter stand on their head and work the project with their left toes only. Or do you?
  4. Know your potential audience. If your audience enjoys standing on their head and using their left toes only, THEN AND ONLY THEN should you write your pattern to call for it. Otherwise, ask yourself, Is this for beginners or is this project for more intermediate/advanced knitters/crocheters? If your design call is for Beginning Knitters Magazine (it doesn’t exist, but you know what I mean), you likely won’t be designing a complicated fair isle project with steeks, zippers, unique cast ons, or anything else requiring more advanced knitting techniques.You’ll also want to consider the basic style that the design company caters to. If they have a modern bohemian style, you want to stick with that. Also consider if the readers of that particular publication prefer a quicker project or if they will be more apt to enjoy a time consuming project (or maybe even a little of both).
  5. You do NOT always have to reinvent the wheel. This falls under a couple different categories, keeping it simple and following the instructions. Don’t think you can get away with redesigning templates or how the design company wants you to put together a design. Remember, you’re selling them on a design and you as a designer, you’re not there to tell them what to do, you’re working with their parameters on your design.

    One of the first OMG Yarn designs – Lettercarrier Mitts – I like fingerless mitts because I need to use my fingers for touch screens, but hate having cold, painful wrists.

  6. Don’t give up who you are as a designer. OMG Yarn designs is about a couple things. I have the “go big or go home” type designs and it’s also my unique style. I won’t just design something just to design it, it has to be something I feel I can wear or use all day, everyday. In some cases, I like to up-cycle or use unique materials. What is your niche? How can you prove you’re passionate about a design if it’s not something you would do (or wear)? I mean, one of the things I LOVE about StevenBe is that you know who he is just by what he’s wearing and his designs reflect that. So if you decide that all your designs have to have something orange in it. Own it. If all your designs are accessories for a specific purpose, offer that and don’t apologize for being you as a designer.

If you keep a lot of the above things in mind, you most certainly could have a successful design career ahead of you. I encourage you to be persistent as well. After all, you may hear “no” more often than you hear “yes” but that’s ok, it’s part of the process. When you finally get that “yes”, embrace it and use as an opportunity to grow.

 

Additional design tip: If you need a base to sketch on, use what is called a croqui. If you Google search a croqui, you can find a good sketch of a “live model” to put your design on. Just trace her outline.

 

 

The Kitten Hat: Free Knit Pattern for the Littlest Resisters

February 27, 2017

Disclaimer: Of the few things I feel strongly enough to speak out about, Women’s Rights and equality are amongst them. I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to continue posting about the pink hats that have taken over a lot of fiber arts discussions in a big. I, for one, am a big fan of not rocking the boat, because I don’t like attention or confrontation. So if you’re opposed to a free pattern for these cute little cat-eared hats modeled by my gorgeous little girl, this post is not for you. I still love you though. There are plenty of other patterns that probably will be for you and they’re coming soon.  I will always be a safe space for everyone. EVERYONE. Knit and crochet on, sisters (brothers and non-binary gendered fiber artists).

The Kitten Hat

For those not in the know, I’ve made a giant pile of pink hats with my friend Beth of The Big String. A portion of the proceeds from the hats went to women’s issues, supported local female-owned small businesses, and also helped this little blog get off the ground. Making all these hats has its advantages, mostly that the pattern keeps evolving. It’s not quite the pattern that initially started circulating. We had to change with what worked and what didn’t for making these hats wearable, comfortable, and as quickly as possible. We even busted out my mother’s Ultimate Sweater Machine for a few, because the demand was so high. I’ll probably share my notes on using the machine to knit these hats sometime soon here too.




I also had my kiddos add a little extra positive energy to each of the hats that were sent to others. They proudly donned these hats and wore them around the house, happy to help mom not drown in the sea of pink yarn. Peanut would even announce the current hat count to everyone in line at craft stores and shout that “mommy bought ALL of the pink yarn!”

As we got more and more involved, I noticed that the original hat pattern could technically fit all three kiddos and myself, just with slight modifications. For baby Ola, I had to fold up the brim, meaning she needed a shorter brim. For Sharky, it was just a hair too big, so that meant a shorter hat body, but same brim length. Peanut could wear the adult hat just fine, but the ears were not as defined. From there, the Kitten Hat was born.

Pattern

The Kitten Hat comes in two sizes: baby (about 4 months and older) and child (aged 2 and up). You’ll see notes for where you can size up or down to customize these hats if your kiddos have bigger or smaller than usual head sizes.

The hat is worked flat and then sewn along the sides for the fastest construction. Feel free to add some duplicate stitch sayings, like “resist” or “persist” to personalize the hats even more. Use different colors or stitch patterns for further customization. Make this hat your own.

TIP: I have found that a slightly stiffer fabric helps the kitty ears stand up better, so you’ll notice that I am using a smaller needle size for what the yarn calls for. It works. I’ve made a bajillion of these.

Yarn

  • One ball Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice Yarn, 100% Acrylic Yarn, 3 oz./85g, 145 yds/133 m  in your color of choice
  • OR any heavy worsted weight yarn that will get the gauge listed below

Gauge

  • 4.5-ish stitches per inch in stockinette stitch on US 8

What You’ll Need

  • A pair of US 7 straight needles
  • A pair of US 8 straight needles
  • A tapestry needle to sew side seams and weave in ends

Glossary

  • K: Knit.
  • P: Purl.
  • RS: Right Side.
  • WS: Wrong Side.

 




Hat – Instructions are for baby size with larger/child size in parentheses.

Cast on 34 (38) stitches on smaller needle using a long-tail cast on.

Establish brim ribbing as follows:

Row 1 (WS): K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * across.
Row 2 (RS): P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * across.

Repeat Rows 1&2 for 2.5″ (3″).

Switch to larger needles. Work in stockinette stitch (knit row on RS, purl row on WS) for 6.5″ (9″). Ending with a RS row.

Note: For a child that’s between 2 and 4 years old, you can shorten that larger length by about a half an inch to make the ears more prominent.

Switch to smaller needles.

Establish brim ribbing as follows:

Row 1 (WS): K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * across.
Row 2 (RS): P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * across.

Repeat Rows 1&2 for 2.5″ (3″).
Bind off loosely. Sew side seams. Weave in ends. Lightly steam to block.

 

Some really cute outtakes from photographing Ola in her hat. She needed a nap.

 

Free Pattern: Knit These Gorgeous Fingerless Mitts to Match OMG Yarn’s Groundhog Hat

February 21, 2017

Don’t forget to grab a copy of the matching Groundhog Hat pattern on Ravelry.

Groundhog Fingerless Mitts

As a mom and knitting addict, I cannot always take a bunch of double-pointed needles with me in the diaper bag. I wanted to design a set of fingerless gloves that were worked flat to prevent my work coming off the needles while bouncing around from place to place with three kiddos to keep track of.

Designed to match the Groundhog and Chuckling Hats that my mother commissioned me for on Groundhog Day, the Groundhog Fingerless Mitts are worked flat and sewn on the sides. There is even cable detail on the thumbs!

Yarn

  • You’ll need one ball of Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease Tonal, an 80/20 blend of Acrylic and Wool or any chunky weight yarn that will get you the gauge listed below

Gauge

  • 3.5 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch on US 10.5

What you’ll need:

  • A pair of US 9 straight needles for the cuff
  • A pair of US 10.5 straight needles for the body
  • A cable needle
  • A tapestry needle to sew the side seams and weave in ends

Glossary:

  • C4F: Cable 4 Front. Slip next two stitches onto cable needle, hold them in the front, knit the next two stitches, knit the two stitches from the cable needle.
  • C4B: Cable 4 Back. Slip next two stitches onto cable needle, hold them in the back, knit the next two stitches, knit the two stitches from the cable needle.
  • K: Knit.
  • P: Purl.
  • RS: Right Side.
  • WS: Wrong Side.

Mitts (Make 2)
NOTE: You can make the mitts completely identical, or you can substitute a C4F on the thumb cable.

Using smaller needles, cast on 30 stitches using a long-tail cast on.

Establish the cuff ribbing as follows:

Row 1 (WS): K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * across.
Row 2 (RS): P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * across.

Repeat the previous 2 rows until your cuff measures about 2″ from the cast on edge, ending with a WS row.

Switch to larger needles.

Establish cable pattern on the body as follows:

Row 1 (RS): P2, K2, P2, K5, P2, K4, P2, K5, P2, K2, P2.
Row 2 (WS): K2, P2, K2, P5, K2, P4, K2, P5, K2, P2, K2.
Row 3: P2, K2, P2, K5, P2, C4B, P2, K5, P2, K2, P2.
Row 4: K2, P2, K2, P5, K2, P4, K2, P5, K2, P2, K2.

(If you want to make these mitts for larger hands, add an equal number of stitches to the instructions in bold. For example, if you’d like to add an inch to the size, add two stitches to the first bold K5 and two stitches to the second bold K5…they will both be a K7 on that row and P7 on the WS row).

Repeat Rows 1-4 twice, work rows 1-3 once more.

Decrease row: K2, P2, K2, P5, BO 8 stitches, P5, K2, P2, K2.
Next row: P2, K2, P2, K5, CO 5 stitches using backward loop method, work rest of row in established pattern (knit the knits and purl the purls).

Work in the established pattern for another 2″ or desired length.

Bind off loosely. Sew side seam and weave in ends.

Lightly steam to block.

 

 

Duplicate Stitch: How to Avoid Fair Isle Like the Plague

February 13, 2017

About a year ago, a co-member of a local mom’s group, Broads with Babies, commissioned me to make her a HILARIOUS hat, because Wisconsin winters are rough (language, I know).

 

I’m actually not a fan of any type of two color knitting that is not a stripe – fair isle or intarsia – just because I can be a lazy knitter. Like the title suggests, I avoid it like the plague. I did, however, want to keep up with my knitting and get rid of some yarn. I did, after all, just close my yarn shop and had hundreds of balls of yarn sitting in bins in the attic.

 

Duplicate stitch, though technically an embroidery technique, is a great way to get personalized sayings or small graphics onto your knitting without having to worry about loose or tight floaters getting in the way. I have been using it quite a bit lately to complete some of my “craftivist” projects (I’ll be posting about that soon too).

 

Rather than reinvent the wheel here, I found a YouTube video from some of my favorite folks at KnitPicks.

 

Don’t forget to follow OMG Yarn on Instagram to see what I’m working on next! Some big projects are already in the works!