I received a letter from America, well an email from America, from a lovely lady in search of a discontinued yarn which I imported from America and she needed to finish a very large project.
But that wouldn’t have been so catchy and it also didn’t link beautifully to the The Proclaimers hit song Letter From America. For those who know them, you’re welcome, feel free to hum along for the rest of the day. For those who don’t, I’ve embedded a YouTube video link below, enjoy the ear worm :).
Back to a letter from America
Kelly was desperate for just a few more balls of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, in the Willow colour. It’s a soft, muted green and so pretty. I was keen to know what Kelly was making and she replied to say it was needed for a blanket she was crocheting for her son. It’s been a long project which she has been worked on over several years. It’s an heirloom piece which I’m sure her son will love, use for years and pass down to his own children over the years.
It’s a real labour of love and will be a treasured memory of home when her son leaves to continue his education, to go to work etc. Like a warm hug from Mom, it’ll always be an anchor to his family.
Much like a letter from America, it’ll be treasured on good days, keep him warm when he’s unwell, be a play mat for his kids or a fabulous snuggle blanket when watching TV or playing games with friends. We all need a virtual warm hug from home and this really fits the bill.
The blanket fits nicely with an overhang on a King Size bed and used a few yarns which Kelly had picked up on sale over the years and in colours chosen by her son. I’m so pleased that Kelly has allowed me to chat to you about the blanket, but now I’ll let her tell you in her own words:
“I really, greatly appreciate your help in buying that yarn! I started digging through my old photos for when I began this project, and it was November 2017. I attached the photo of the stack of yarn from when I first bought it. I can only guesstimate that I spent about 85 hours on it, but that’s only just a guess.
For the body of the blanket, I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Willow (light, mossy green), and Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Kale (dark green) and Mesquite (brown).
I didn’t use a pattern. I just chained until I was satisfied with how wide it was. I wanted it to be wide enough to cover a king sized bed with plenty of overhang on the sides. I used a double crochet/chain 1 repeat throughout.
For the border, I used Caron One Pound in Espresso (brown). For the first row on the border, I did 3 SC stitches in each chain space of the blanket body. In each corner, I put one extra SC. On each of the next three rows, I used double crochets. In each corner stitch, I did a DC, TC, DC in the same stitch. It helped keep the corners squared. I ended it with a row of SC.
I’m very happy with how it turned out and even happier that it’s finally DONE. Buying all that yarn on clearance was nice at first, until I couldn’t find more of it when I ran short. 🤣 Thanks again for having what I believe to be the last 7 skeins of Willow on Earth.
This blanket is so, so warm and soft. I really wanted to make my son something that he could use & enjoy for many years to come. With Ohio fall weather quickly approaching, I think it’s done just in time!”
I have only one ball of the yarn left, some Wool-Ease Chunky in Willow, if anyone needs it for a project? Lion Brand have a great range of free patterns on their website and great advice on yarn substitution.
Thank you so much to Kelly for her Letter From America, the beautiful photos and sharing her fabulous blanket story with us.
What will you make for your family?
Lion Brand Yarns
Lion Brand Yarns, including Vanna’s Choice, Wool-Ease, Wool-Ease Thick n Quick, Wool-Ease Chunky, Vanna’s Colors, Babysoft, Baby Wool
Baby Knits and a design journey – what I started with and how my design ended up
It depends on the design, sometimes I doodle with the yarn, swatch and play around and the yarn tells me what it wants to be. That’s easy, it’s intuitive and pretty much always works out.
Other times, I have a vision in mind, in this case a dress with a bib/bodice top and a lace skirt. I started knitting the skirt bottom up and in the round. I wanted to keep the piece as a seamless dress, minimum finishing.
Baby Knits and a design journey – Version 1
Version 1 was knitted half a dozen times as I perfected the shaping of the bib/bodice to make it easier to knit and reduce the finishing as much as possible. There is a neckband at the front to pick up, but that’s the only time you pick up and knit any stitches.
Baby Knits and a design journey – Yarn Choices
My go to for baby projects would normally be Stylecraft Special DK where I know that the Mum is busy, hasn’t time to hand wash and won’t need to worry about the item being washable. In this case I had a bag of several colours of Patons 100% Cotton DK, no two the same and wanted to design something using a cotton yarn.
The thought being that it could be a 3 season layering piece in cotton, cotton/bamboo or acrylic/cotton blends. In a superwash wool yarn, it would be suitable for Winter worn over a long sleeved top or sweater.
I’m not a yarn snob and I truly believe that the right yarn for the project has to be suited to the recipient, how they need to care for it and fit their lifestyle. I use a lot of blended yarns, acrylics and cottons for baby knits and prefer superwash wool to non washable wool. That’s my choice. For tea cozies, I’d like a roving wool which is easy to felt and will keep my tea warm.
Baby Knits and a design journey – Version 2
Version 2 was after discussion with the Testers they preferred the idea of buttons on the fronts and straps on the back with buttonholes. A quick bit of editing and a change to narrow the neck (more stitches for the straps) and it was perfect.
Test knitting is for me, a vital part of perfecting the design but also in getting the explanations right so that knitters can follow the instructions easily. I break down the sections of the pattern so it’s clear which part you are working on, try and make any shaping as easy as possible, chart them where needed and ensure it’s really obvious what you need to do.
I narrowed the neckline to make a better fit, but kept the wider shoulders which should be an inch or so wider than the child’s shoulders. Partly for layering but also to allow for the differences in kids. I was a skinny child but my brother was a chunky kid. We’re all different and the best advice I can give is to knit the bodice/bib to fit the child and make the skirt longer or shorter to suit their shape. All the measurements are included in the pattern so to some extent you can pick and mix, but allow extra yarn if you are adding length at all.
The pattern is available to buy in our online shop on the website, in our Ravelry Shop or our Payhip Shop. 25% off until 31st August with code babybeautiful
There’s no coded needed in our online shop on this site, the pattern is already discounted to make it easier for you.
If you’d like me to chat more about our design process, yarn choices etc, do let me know and what patterns you’d like me to feature.
Shawl Patterns I Love August 2020 both Knit and Crochet
Today’s blog post is a round up of Shawl Patterns I Love August 2020. I have seen some amazing shawls over the last month and wanted to share some with you. They are a mix of knit and crochet so there should be something to please everyone.
If you’d like to recommend your shawl faves, email me email@example.com, message lor-artemis on Ravelry.com or contact me via Facebook or Instagram @woollymadlydeeply.
All the designer name links and images for the patterns link to the pattern page on Ravelry.com. If you can’t use Rav at the moment, you have the designer name to search on the Indie Pattern Portal or Payhip.com
I love the colours used in this shawl, the soft, muted rainbow works beautifully. The shawl uses short rows to create the leaf shapes and stems and is knitted from tip to tip, sideways. It uses sport weight yarn, but you could easily sub 4ply/fingering weight yarn in the right colours. You could go for a more subtle look with neutral colours or go for a high contrast option to really pop.
This is, unusually, a free pattern and I just love the colours Joji has chosen for her shawl, those rich greens really call to me. Beautiful colour blocking and it looks like a very relaxing knit. Knitted with DK weight yarn and 5mm needles for a soft drape, this is a large shawl for wrapping around and maximum comfort. Odyssey is a crescent shaped shawl in 3 colors of medium-weight yarn. Medium weight means DK, or worsted, or even Aran! The good news is that you knit it up super fast. Each color section ends with a lace band that features striking big eyelets and wavy texture.
I do love this shawl and it’s incredibly popular. It looks like a great option to bust some stash and have a lot of fun with colours. It’s slip stitch colourwork, sometimes called Mosaic, so you only work with one colour at a time. It’s triangle shaped and worked with DK/Worsted yarn.
I spotted this shawl and thought, oooh Crochet lace. How wrong was I? On closer inspection it’s skull motifs and so clever. It is crocheted with Aran yarn and a 5mm hook, so this will be quick and fun. It would make a great addition to your Halloween costumes or the perfect gift for a teen going through their Goth phase. It’s also free, did I mention that?
Is it a shawl, is it a scarf? Do we care? No, because it’s got POCKETS and we love our pockets. Crocheted with Aran weight yarn using 9mm and 10mm hooks this will be super fast and make a great gift for anyone who loves a Boho look or just likes to have pockets. For the clumsy among you, me included, I think I’d end up wrapped around the door handles within five minutes of wearing it, but I still like it.
A fabulous crochet shawl for a fade set or gradient cake of yarn. I love the lacy details and strong design lines of this. It’s crocheted with a Sheepjes Whirl and a 3.75mm hook, the gradient of the sample is lovely. There is a chart and it uses US crochet terminology.
I loved the colour of this crescent shaped shawl, it uses 4py/fingering weight yarn, gradient set or cake would be awesome. Crocheted with a 3.5mm hook and with such a pretty ruffle and lacy patterning. Love it.
A show-stopping garter stitch shawl from Stephen West. I love his wacky style and presentation, a true artist. His designs are always interesting, well explained and give you the opportunity to play with colour, texture and contast. A triumph.
Another free pattern and the peachy, warm and light colours really spoke to me. I love the bobble details and the chance to mess around with yarn and leftovers if you wanted. Meditative knit stitch is interrupted by just four rows of bobbly texture to achieve a shawl that delivers high impact flare with minimal effort. La Bien Aimee Merino DK creates lovely drape while Cosy Posy Yarn Co. Fluff adds light, fuzzy contrast.
This beautiful lacy shawl uses sock yarn, approx 450yds so more than the average skein but enough to use up leftovers or let you play with colour for the various sections. Crocheted with a 3.5mm hook it’ll be light, airy and beautiful. The asymmetic shape appeals to be and makes for a fun shawl to wear and style.
I absolutely love Barbara Benson and her patterns are fabulous. I do really want to knit this shawl which uses slip stitch mosaic knitting to create gorgeous colour patterns very, very easily. It’s so easy, you’ll think it’s cheating. Worked in DK weight yarn, it’ll be a quick knit and a fun way to bust some stash.
I know, it looks like it’s knitted but honestly, it’s Tunisian crochet and I love, love, love it. DK yarn is crocheted with a 6.5mm hook to mimic knitting in all it’s glory. I am blown away by this, who knew? It uses Tunisian Knit stitch and features video tutorials to show you the other stitches which create the lace effects. Genius.
Thanks goodness it’s not Cowboys and Aliens which ranks high on the list of worst films ever. I was drawn to the colour of the shawl, which is perfect for me. But also, the lace and texture details. it is a fun knit, enough to keep you interested but not so taxing that you can’t watch a bit of TV at the same time, just avoid anything with subtitles. Knitted with DK yarn and 4.5mm needles for a nice drape but not too much. I think the trellis stitch pattern combined with garter and bobbles is a winner for me.
I love the styling of this one, the beach, the neutral colour and dreamy lace. It’s crocheted with DK yarn and a 4mm hook, it would look good in a gradient but I like the simplicity of one colour to show off the lace patterning. It’s triangle shaped, worked bottom up to maximize the size and use of your yarn, you can go big or small on this one.
I couldn’t look at shawls and not include a bit of brioche for you. This crescent shaped shawl uses four colours of yarn so perfect for a fancy set or busting some stash to get the colours that suit you. The design features stripes of lace with two colour brioche in between. It’s a large shawl but worth the time involved. 4ply/fingering weight yarn on 3.5mm needles.
A lovely honeycomb/bee themed shawl and a great way to use up stash. It uses sport weight yarn but fingering would do, 4.5mm and 5mm hooks for maximum drape and a light, airy fabric. The design is packed with fun stitches, is asymmetric, uses filet crochet, surface crochet, front post stitches, stripes and lots of texture. Gorgeous!
Greens, yellow, texture, trees and lots of fun. I really like this asymmetric shawl. Each section is inspired by trees, the pattern is charted and written. There are photo tutorials for the various stitch patterns and lots of help. It is crocheted with sport weight yarn and a 4mm hook
This little beauty takes a garter stitch knitted shawl to the next level with a knitted-on border added on. the cables and lace add interest and texture to the piece. It’s a classic. DK yarn, 4.5mm needles make for a squishy, soft shawl.
The Marina Wrap is a light and airy shawl pattern that uses only one ball of Red Heart It’s A Wrap Rainbow Yarn. The lacy stitches and gentle crescent shape of this shawl show off the yarn beautifully. UK knitters might want to try a DK weight yarn cake or something like Stylecraft Cabaret.
Using DK and Lace yarns held together, this soft, buttery shawl is sure to wrap you up warm and cozy. Grace used 4.5mm needles at a gauge/tension of 18×24 before blocking, so it will grow from that size.
I think that’s enough from me today, I hope there was something to inspire you in this little collection. Let me know your favourite.
Today’s post is a round up of Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting, though to be fair, some of this also applies to crochet so crochet fans, please read on.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Try to keep your tension or gauge even
What does that mean? Well, for a start, try and keep the stitches the same size in each row or round. Then try and make sure that your wrong side rows (if you are working flat) have stitches the same size as the right size rows.
If you notice loose or sloppy stitches in your rows (crochet or knit) you need to work on improving your tension. I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed I knit tighter than when I’m relaxed. Same with crochet. I have to make an effort to keep my stitches the same size, but it’s worth it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Always finish the row or round
I’m knitting a sweater at the moment, top-down on circular needles in the round. I finish the round, then slip the marker and knit a couple of extra stitches before I put the work down. When I come back to it, I tink the couple of stitches I worked back to the marker and then knit a full round. This helps keep my tension even and stop the needles pulling on the fabric in the middle of the garment.
When working flat, back and forth, I ALWAYS finish a row before putting the work down. Otherwise you get pulled stitches in the middle of the row that may not even out with blocking later. Most of our kids know not to interrupt us mid row, so let’s use it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Learn how to fix your mistakes
There are so many tutorials on YouTube, Craftsy and other sources to help you learn how to fix a problem with your knitting or crochet. Do a search and watch a few until you find the video that works for you.
We learn through our mistakes and you’ll be so much better a knitter or crocheter for doing it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Check Your Work
Check your stitch count, particularly in lace or cable patterns, to make sure you haven’t dropped a stitch, missed a yarn over increase or worked a decrease in the wrong place.
If it’s crochet, count your chains, stitch clusters/shells to make sure you haven’t missed any. If you miss a chain or a cluster it can wreck your next row, so check regularly and rip out if needed to work it again.
Learn to read your knitting, it makes it easier to see a mistake in the work as you look at it. And, hopefully, save a lot of tinking back.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – use a row counter
When you are first starting to knit, it’s hard to keep count or track of your knitting. Some people mark off every row they knit on their pattern, others are able to ‘read’ their knitting and count up every now and then. For me, my favourite gadget is a swimming length/lap counter. It’s a digital counter with buttons to count each lap/length and a digital display. it fastens to my finger just like a tiny watch, the battery last for ages and it works well.
You can get row counters to go onto your needles and change that each row. It’s handy when you are working increases or decreases to shape a sleeve, waist shaping etc. My friend adds a locking stitch marker to the end stitch of the increase/decrease row when she is knitting sleeves to make sure they are worked every x rows and also so she can count up and make she she’s worked them all. It also makes life easier when working the second sleeve, to ensure the shaping matches.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – a crochet hook is a fantastic help when knitting
It’s a great tool for picking up dropped stitches and working back up to the top of your knitting. I use a crochet hook sometimes for picking up stitches on a neckline as it can be easier to pull the yarn through to make each new stitch. A fine crochet hook can be really useful for adding beads to your knitting. Beads are sneaky little horrors but a crochet hook can help you wrangle them.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – use the right yarn for the stitch pattern
Fancy yarns, textured yarns and busy patterned yarns are great for stocking stitch (stockinette) as the yarn does the hard work. A plain yarn with a good twist will give better stitch definition for cables, lace and textured stitch patterns.
When you’re starting out, buy cheap, plain yarn. Why? Because it’s easier to see your knitting if you’re not distracted by stripes, speckles, random colours, fancy textures that are hard to knit. As you learn and build your skills, you can move up to more luxurious or expensive yarns if you want. If you like knitting with cheaper yarns and that suits your budget, that’s fine too.
The right yarn is the right yarn for your pocket, your colour preference, works with the pattern you are knitting and makes you happy. If you’re knitting for a busy Mum, she’ll want something machine wash because it’s easier to care for, so an acrylic or blend might be best. If your budget runs to a superwash wool, that’s great, but it’s not essential. It needs to be easy for her to look after.
I can’t think of a single person who has commented ‘That’s a lovely sweater and it’d be so much nicer in a fancy yarn.’ No one says that, they all say ‘That’s a beautiful sweater.’ End of story, they don’t know what yarn it is, how much it cost or anything else, they just like what I’ve made, so it’s the RIGHT yarn.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – It’s okay to rip it and start again
It’s not a failure to rip something out. Think of it as perfecting and improving your finished project. It’s also a learning experience that will help you in future projects. It takes time to learn to knit and you need to practice. I’ve been knitting since I was 4 years old, I’m now 52 and I am still learning new things. I love that there is so much to learn that keeps me interested.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Always block your knitting
I block all my projects, that might be steam blocking with my iron held above the piece, spray blocking or web blocking. Sometimes I’ll machine wash the item, then pull it to shape/size and dry it flat. For smaller items I will spray with water, pull to size and to even out the stitches and leave it to dry. The main reasons are to a) make the knitting share the stitches evenly and make the work look neat and b) to make the finished item the correct size (or as close to it as we can get) so it fits.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Use the right needles for your yarn
That might be circular needles or dpns for a piece knitted in the round. Though I used circular needles a lot for flat knitting things like cardigans because they allow the weight of the piece to be in my lap and not dragging on my straight needles. When starting out, I suggest bamboo straight needles as they grip the yarn and make it less likely for your stitches to fall off as you knit. Your local yarn store (LYS) will be able to show you different types of needles and may let you try some in the store and see what you think before buying them. Interchangeable needles have different size tips,
I hope you’ve found this article helpful but if you have other questions, do get in touch and we’ll try to answer them.
If you have knitting FAQs or frequently asked questions to add to this post, let us know and we’ll try to answer it here. I’ll be updating this post every week with several new questions and answers, so there will be more info each time you visit.
How do I learn to knit?
Depending on where you live and your proximity to a yarn/wool shop, you may be able to attend classes to learn to knit. If your local store doesn’t offer in person classes, they may offer online classes for beginners. For those who don’t have a local yarn store (LYS) there are thousands of videos on YouTube to teach you how to cast on, how to use the knit stitch, how to purl and build up your skills. Another good resources is myblueprint.com aka Craftsy which has classes you can buy and watch online, download to an iPad or phone via their app. The courses start with Knitting 101 with all the basics up to designer level.
The two terms mean the same thing, it’s a small piece of knitting worked in the suggested pattern to ensure you have the right number or rows and stitches per 4 inch or 10cm square. If you have more stitches per 4 inch, try a larger needle, if you have less stitches per 4 inch try a smaller needle. I usually make a square that’s approximately 6 inch or 15cm square, a larger piece gives me a more accurate result when I am counting my stitches per 4 inch/10cm square.
If you don’t knit a swatch then your finished object (FO) could end up being a lot smaller or larger than you wanted or anticipated. With a hat, that’s maybe not such a problem as it’ll fit someone, but a sweater could be a lot larger or smaller than you need. It could be too long or too short and end up wasting your time and money.
If the front of your sweater has 100 stitches, at a gauge/tension of 20 sts = 4 inch it will measure 20 inches in width making a 40 inch sweater. But, at a gauge/tension of 18 sts = 4 inch it will measure 22 inches in width, making a 44 inch size sweater. If your sweater works out at 4 sts per inch, the end result would be 50 inch chest. That’s quite a difference in terms of fit and possibly yarn usage.
Always block your gauge/tension swatch after you’ve finished knitting and cast off the piece. You need to block it the same way you intend to block the finished item, whether that’s wet blocked, steam blocked or spray blocked and pinned to shape. Your square in lace will typically be larger than a stocking stitch square because of the holes/eyelets.
Do I have to use the yarn recommended in the knitting pattern?
No, you don’t have to use the exact yarn recommended in the pattern, you can use any yarn that is the right thickness and gives you the correct number of stitches and rows per 4inch/10cm square for the pattern. However, it’s worth understanding the characteristics of the recommended yarn. For example, a garment knitted with linen will typically grow in length when blocked and when worn so is knitted shorter than the same garment knitted in acrylic which doesn’t grow in the same way.
You can find suggested yarns at https://yarnsub.com or chat to the staff at your local yarn store, who will find a yarn to suit your pattern, your pocket and the right fibre for you. If you’re allergic to wool, they could recommend an acrylic, cotton or other plant based yarn.
If you are knitting from your stash, you could combine yarns, so two strands of yarn to make the equivalent of a heavier yarn. Always swatch to make sure it’s not too stiff or too floppy a fabric when knitted.
Can I photocopy a pattern for my friend?
No, that would be copyright theft. Your friend needs to buy their own copy of the pattern for their use. The same applies to digital pdf patterns, you not allowed to share patterns with others, they need to buy their own. A lot of work goes into designing a pattern, both in terms of knitting a series of prototypes, testing, technical editing, graphic design, tutorials and special instructions, the cost of the yarn used etc.
What is ply? I’ve seen it next to yarn weight, what does it mean?
Yarn manufacturers used to make yarn using multiple plies or strands of yarn twisted to make a thicker yarn. So 4ply in the UK is fingering weight, 8ply is DK or double knit weight yarn and so on. Although there are yarns called roving, a loose single strand that can be any thickness. On that basis, it’s best to go with the yarn thickness or weight as a guide. Standard Yarn Weight System
My yarn has a dyelot on the label, does it matter?
Yes, and No. If your yarn is dyed in a particular way and contains natural fibres, then dye lots matter, you don’t want to run out and find that your second sleeve is a different shade of that colour than the rest of the sweater.
If it’s a big box acrylic yarn, then it probably doesn’t matter. I used a lot of Stylecraft yarns and their dye lots are very consistent and I’ve never had an issue.