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Free Pattern: Simple Ribbed Beanie

November 12, 2018

Simple Ribbed Beanie by Melina Flynn
Note: I got married this summer, so my name is no longer Melina Martin Gingras

If you haven’t learned by now, I LOVE making hats for myself and my entire family. In fact, as part of my morning routine, I tend to skip doing my hair for dropping off the kiddos at school, so hats are my thing before I’m officially home and have gotten ready for the day. I could never have too many hats. ūüėČ




I have wanted to write a very simple knit beanie pattern like this for a few years, so I am happy to share it and it calls for MY YARN.

If you’re newer to knitting, know that you can complete this hat using a 16″ and 9″ circular needle rather than switching to double-pointed needles at the top. You’ll also learn a new method of decreasing stitches.

Yarn

  • You‚Äôll need¬†one skein¬†of OMG Rushmore: Sport Weight, 345 yds, 100g/3.5 oz.
  • Alternatively, you could use 100g of Wool of the Andes Sport¬†in your favorite color.¬†NOTE: The link is an affiliate link. You can always check out our disclaimer page for more information about affiliate links.

 Yarns from knitpicks.com

Gauge

  • 6 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch on US 4.

What you’ll need:

  • A 16″ circular needle, size US 4.
  • A set of 4 or 5 dpns or 9″ circular needle, size US 4.
  • A tapestry needle to sew the side seams and weave in ends.




Glossary:

  • CO:¬†Cast on
  • K:¬†Knit.
  • K2tog:¬†Knit two stitches together.
  • P:¬†Purl.
  • P2tog:¬†Purl two stitches together.
  • psso:¬†Pass slipped stitch over stitch just worked.
  • Sl1:¬†Slip one as if to knit.

Sizing:

  • Small/Baby (Medium/Child, Large/Adult)
  • Finished measurements: 16.5″ (20″, 22″)

This hat is meant to be worn with negative ease, so the finished measurements will be smaller than your head size. If you need to cast on more or less stitches, make sure you increase or decrease by multiples of 8.




Hat Pattern 
Using 16″ circular needle, CO 104 (120, 136) stitches using a long-tail cast on.

K2, P2 around (for the whole round) every round until hat measures 6″ (7″, 8″) from the cast-on edge.

Begin decrease rounds as follows, switching to dpns or smaller circular needle as you see fit:

  • Round 1: *K2tog, P2, K2, P2; repeat from * to end of the round.
  • Round 2:¬†*K1, P2, K2tog, P2;¬†repeat from * to end of the round.
  • Round 3:¬†*K1, P2tog, K1, P2;¬†repeat from * to end of the round.
  • Round 4:¬†*K1, P1, K1, P2tog;¬†repeat from * to end of the round.
  • Rounds 5-6: *K1, P1;¬†repeat from * to end of the round.
  • Round 7:¬†*Sl1, P1, psso;¬†repeat from * to end of the round.
  • Round 8:¬†K all stitches around.
  • Round 9: *K2tog;¬†repeat from * to end of the round.
  • Round 10: *K2tog;¬†repeat from * to last stitch of round, K1.

Break yarn, leaving an 8 inch tail. Thread tail through all stitches on needle, being careful that you don’t drop any stitches. Pull tail tight and thread through center to the inside of hat.

Weave in ends.

Lightly steam to block.




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Gritty Photography, Free Spirits and The Oversized Sleeveless Tunic

June 28, 2017




 I like photography that stands out. I also like yarn that stands out and speaks for itself. When paired with the perfect project, photography and yarn can certainly make indie dyed yarn into a work of art.

The idea behind the Oversized Sleeveless Tunic design was to have a simple, oversized top that I could wear anywhere AND show off my yarn in a way that doesn’t take away from the speckled colorways I have been dyeing lately.

With the photography, I got adventurous in every way.

iPhone Photography

I use my iPhone for photography these days. Gone are the days where I had the time to grab my camera, take photos, download photos, edit photos, and then choose the best to go into patterns.

I take photos and edit them right in Instagram, send them to myself, and they get done in a much more streamlined manner (if that’s not another blog post, I don’t know what is…haha). The results are more unique photos and way less time is spent fighting with computer software to do what I want it to do.

The photos from the Oversized Sleeveless Tunic were purposefully grittier. They’re a throwback to when photography was new and a bit more of a raw art.

They’re also an homage to my favorite cinema director Tony Scott who experimented with older hand cranked cameras in the movie Man on Fire. The raw cinematography contributed to the die hard emotions of the film and was a way to draw the audience in to the wild spirt that comes alive when avenging the apparent death of a loved one.

I got a little adventurous and took the short walk to our lakefront in order to get a unique backdrop from the Lake Michigan shore. The free spirit in me has always loved looking out onto the lake and seeing nothing but endless skies and, of course, endless possibilities.

Showing off what gorgeous fabric that OMG Rushmore and the new color Newsprint is Dead can do, I created the Oversized Sleeveless Tunic.




Newsprint is Dead

The colorway wouldn‚Äôt exist if it weren‚Äôt for my three-year-old. I was playing with an idea (I‚Äôve been looking for black speckled yarn that looked like newspaper EVERYWHERE) and layered grey and black together. My toddler snuck up behind me and asked, ‚ÄúWhat you doing?‚ÄĚ half-jokingly, because he knew what I was doing.

I asked if I should add another color to the yarn and he said, ‚ÄúYes! Pink!‚ÄĚ

The result: A page of newspaper that looked a little bloody before the dye set. It almost looked like a murder scene. Perfect.

Oversized Sleeveless Tunic

As the pattern description says, as a mom of three young kiddos that are always on the go, I need to wear comfortable, loose clothing that allows me to keep up with all the fun. One of my go-to clothing items is a tank top or sleeveless shirt that I can layer under a cardigan or over a t-shirt.

The Oversized Sleeveless Tunic is designed to be a go-to knit that you can actually wear, be comfortable, and stylish at the same time. Pair this with solid color yoga pants, layer with your favorite tank tops and/or cardigans and knit it with your favorite sport weight, hand dyed yarn.

This design is beginner-friendly and perfect to show off a speckled, variegated, or even solid colored yarn. There’s six inches of ease, so your top will have a gorgeous drape to accentuate almost any figure shape.

It is constructed from the bottom up and in the round. The front and back are worked flat and there is a faux seam on the side that tapers to the under arm.

The day that I photographed this, I walked down to the lakefront and back, and it was just so comfortable that I left it on ALL DAY. I ran to pick up my boys from their dad’s house, I took all three kiddos shopping at Target, and then came home to rest. Mom clothing needs to feel un-impeding of the process of caring for kiddos and this did just that.

It also will go perfectly with a black cardigan I just bought, so it’ll likely get put into the rotation of my mom wardrobe aka the mom uniform.

The pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry store and my Etsy shop as well. See links below.

Limited time only: The pattern is free in my Ravelry store until July 4, 2017, no coupon code necessary.




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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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Offensive Fiber Art and the Art of Offending through Art

May 11, 2017




My belief is that art should not be comforting; for comfort we have mass entertainment and one another. Art should provoke, disturb, arouse our emotions, expand our sympathies in directions we may not anticipate and may not even wish. – Joyce Carol Oates

What do you think? Should art provoke? Should art offend? It certainly can.

Let’s explore that fact today, shall we?

In case you did not know, I help admin a Facebook group called, “Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists”. My friend Nicole Goetz of Mercantile 519 started the group a few months ago and it’s now composed of over 8,000 people!

Being an admin for large Facebook groups requires you to step back from your own personal beliefs in order to objectively look at problems that may arise between members of the group and offer a fair solution that may or may not help. If you can’t help, sometimes you remove people from the group, sometimes you take down posts, and sometimes you offend or enlighten others around you.

Offensive Fiber Art(ists)

My foray into my own mildly offensive fiber art didn’t start with knitting that big pile of pink hats for the March on Washington earlier this year, but it certainly influenced me a great deal. Discussions surrounding the hats usually took on one of two forms:

  1. People who were greatly offended by their interpretation of what the hats were all about AND
  2. People who were offended at the offense people took over the hats.

This eventually pointed me in the direction of where I wanted to go with OMG Yarn (Balls) and this little bloggy of mine.

I LOVE art. I have my own projects (like the “It Is Too Fucking Cold” hat pictured above), but I love seeing what people come up with on a daily basis in the Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists group. What I look forward to most is seeing some of the things that cross stitchers and embroiderers post: sassy sayings stitched in a way to provoke.

Most recently and most notably, a post in the group provoked a bit more than just an “OMG” from our members, but an intense discussion of institutional racism and experiences of others. Discussions got aggressive and beyond mildly offensive, leading multiple reports of the post. The image itself offended many as well.

Trying to stay neutral, I posted: “Admin here: Hi, stop reporting this post. If someone is being disrespectful to each other, contact us admins. You may not agree with the viewpoint given by the art in this post, but art is supposed to be provocative. Don’t like it, keep on scrolling.”

Then, I thought twice.¬†Yes, art is supposed to be provocative but if it isn’t, is it still art?




The Art of Offending

As artists we cannot choose what is offensive to others, we can only create artistic works and hope that our intended meaning comes through. I mean, of course, sometimes a hat is just a hat and a sweater is just a sweater, but what about knitting or crocheting a uterus and sending it to a legislator to invoke change?

I cannot create a piece of art meant to offend and expect that EVERYONE will be offended. I also cannot tell someone who is offended by what I think is benign that they don’t have the right to be offended, even if it wasn’t my original intent. Like I said, we cannot control who is offended from who is not, but we can use art media in a way to provoke conversation.

Hell, there was a point at which someone was offended by my modern take on a dream catcher, even though I, myself, am Native American. I could have been offended by someone telling me what pieces I could and could not make, or I could have learned from the conversation. Why was she offended? What could I do better as a person to explain myself? Am I even required to explain myself as not exploiting a particular culture?

And then you could be offensive in what materials you use or how you use them…

The one thing that comes to mind when I think of offensive art was the fallout from Chris Ofili’s painting, “The Holy Virgin Mary”. The artist used elephant dung¬†as a medium and the whole world lost their damn minds over it. Haha!

In the fiber arts community, there’s that lady who knits while keeping her yarn in her vagina. Nah, I’ll pass.

Offending, Provoking, and Invoking Fiber Arts as Means to an End for Change 

Me, personally, I just stick to¬†my occasional craftivism and hope to impact the world positively through knitting and crocheting for a cause and also to help pass on the tradition of fiber arts to younger generations. That’s what I mean to do with my fiber art for fun. The heavy lifting for OMG Yarn, obviously is yarn dyeing and designing, but still, it wouldn’t be fiber art without a little bit of stirring up the pot, right?

Historically, knitters and crocheters have been on the forefront of change in many ways, and craftivism is not a new concept.

“The history of craftivist art lies in the foundations first established by the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK. The idea of ethical interactions and relationships between the artist and his or her environment as a whole has carried through the generations. Female-led efforts to promote craft industries in Canada during the late 19thcentury have also influenced today‚Äôs craftivist undertakings by implanting the trend with feminist values and ethics. Craft artists and social action groups are thus driven to create their art in conjunction with a framework dedicated to political change and constructive protest. Through the manipulation and exploitation of stereotypes that lie in the assumed innocence of knitted artwork, the familiarity and gentleness of craft art has become a tool for assertive social action.” (Hardy-Moffat, 2012).

Now, I’m seeing people I’ve met in the fiber arts industry, people like Donna Druchunas and more, invoking social change and awareness with their fiber arts. Facebook groups like Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists and Compassionate Craftivists have popped up for fiber artists to unite their efforts or just ogle over others’ hard work at “offending”.

In the end…

Fiber artists are really just group of people out for tolerance, acceptance, and change and they’re united through an obsession with various fibers made into string.¬†What’s not to love about that?

And yes, I do realize that there are people that knit, crochet, spin, etc. just to relax or have fun, but that is evocative too, no? What say you?




References.

Frank, P. (2015, June 01). At $2.3 Million, It’s The Most Expensive Painting Made Of Elephant Poop. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/01/chris-ofili-elephant-dung_n_7470692.html

Hardy-Moffat, M. (2012, November 16). Feminism and the Art of ‚ÄúCraftivism‚ÄĚ: Knitting for Social Change under the Principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://cujah.org/past-volumes/volume-v/essay3-volume5/

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Free Pattern: Landon’s Sweet Baby Blanket

April 24, 2017




In an effort to keep all my patterns in one spot, I’m moving this free pattern over to the OMG Yarn (balls) website. It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and I designed this for a (now former) co-worker’s baby.

Pattern

Well, it’s a good thing that I actually kept notes and wrote myself a basic pattern for the blanket I made for our family friend’s baby named Landon, it seems he’s gone viral overnight! ¬†I posted his picture last night on the Midwest Yarn Facebook page upon receiving the appreciation photo – actually, my husband got it texted to him with a follow up saying that the picture was too cute and he might want to hide it from me (because I love baby pictures!).

So Landon’s Sweet Baby Blanket is quite simple to do and it’s a perfect weekend project to whip up if you have a short deadline like I did.

Yarn

  • Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK, 105 yds/50g: 5 balls of main color, 2 balls of the complimentary color.
  • OR any DK weight yarn that will get the gauge listed below.

Gauge

  • 5 sts per in on US 6 or size to obtain gauge.

What You’ll Need

  • 40″ US 6 Circular Needle or size to obtain gauge (I used a US 5 because I wanted my stitches to be tighter together – big or loose sts mean little fingers can get tangled up in there)
  • A tapestry needle to sew side seams and weave in ends.

Glossary

  • MC:¬†Main Color
  • CC:¬†Complementary Color
  • slm:¬†slip marker
  • pm:¬†place marker



Blanket 
Cast on 140 sts in CC. ¬†Work in garter st until blanket measures 2″ from cast on edge.

Switch to MC.

Row 1: Work first row of letter chart (below), pm, k to end of row.
Row 2: Purl to marker, slm, work next row of chart.
Row 3: Work next row of chart, slm, k to end of row.

Repeat Rows 2 & 3 until letter chart is complete.

Continue in st st in MC until blanket measures 28″ from cast on edge, ending on a WS row.

Switch to CC.¬†Work in garter st for 2″. Bind off loosely.

To complete borders, pick up about 3 sts for every 4 rows along side of blanket. Work in garter st for 1/2″. Bind off loosely. Repeat on other side.

Weave in ends. Lightly steam to block.




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Your Complete Guide to OMG Yarn’s Fingering Weight Yarns

April 19, 2017




Picking the right yarn to dye is difficult, just as picking the right hand dyed yarn to make your next project is. I, personally, can be a little bit of a yarn snob, because I’ve gotten spoiled from playing with so many different yarns while owning a yarn shop (and of course, I was able to sample some amazing yarns that I didn’t even carry).

I know you’ve been tempted by the gorgeous photos I share on Instagram and Facebook, but there’s no way of telling how great and soft these yarns are. This¬†is the first in a series of posts to entice you a little bit more to try the different yarns I create. Let’s talk about OMG’s awesome fingering weight yarns,¬†OMG Calatrava¬†and¬†OMG Vegas.

All About OMG Calatrava

Named after the architectural beauty known as the Milwaukee Art Museum (located in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the city in which I grew up), OMG Calatrava is an energetically spun, light fingering weight yarn.

OMG Calatrava’s details:¬†100% Superwash Merino Wool; gauge:¬†7.5 sts/in on US 2; approximately 400 yds/3.5oz.

I chose this yarn because of how it is spun and takes dye (yep, I try dyeing every yarn before I select it). It is great for shawls, scarves, and other accessories.

Because of the tight spin of the plies, you can even use it for socks. In fact, my most worn pairs of socks are made from OMG Calatrava and they hold up well, even without nylon in it!

Even though it is tough enough for socks, it is soft enough to wear next to the skin and great for baby wear, like Ola’s dress that I keep sharing pictures of (and with this little cutie wearing it, how could I not keep sharing?). I also used OMG Calatrava in the color Pisces for the latest pattern I released, the Mesa Shawl.

The Glamour of OMG Vegas

Chloe Shawlette

If you need yarn that is a bit more fancy, something with a little glitz, try OMG Vegas. A little heavier fingering weight yarn, OMG Vegas has a bit of sparkle like the lights of Las Vegas.  This would be gorgeous in any accessory imaginable or as a great gift to the yarn lover in your life.

The plies of this yarn are a bit more loosely spun, but it is not splitty, so it can be worked in knit or crochet.

OMG Vegas’ details:¬†63% Superwash Merino Wool, 20% Silk, 15% Nylon, 2% Polyester Glitz; gauge: 8 sts/in on US 2;¬†approximately 420 yds/3.5oz.

My first shawl design, the Chloe Shawlette, was done in OMG Calatrava, and I still keep the sample around. It’s next to the skin soft, has a wonderful drape, and takes the dye just a little bit lighter than my other yarns, showing its unique fiber personality.




Intrigued? Well, head on over to my Etsy shop and try a skein or two of these fingering weight yarns! Use coupon code OMGYARNBALLS for a 10% discount since you’ve spent the time reading about them.

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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 thumb.¬†Just 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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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).

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.