2.26.2015

Working Gauge and Nelkin Designs Patterns!

If you've come across my designs before you'll know I can be a stickler for gauge. How to work gauge swatches comes up ALOT when people are ready to dive into a new design of mine and I decided it's time to give you all some rules and guidelines that I follow when working gauge for my patterns!
  1. Cast on at least 6 sts more than called for in the gauge. Use the needle size called for. If you know you knit loosely, then go down a needle size. If you knit tightly, go up!
  2. Knit in stockinette stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) or garter stitch (knit every row) for at least 4 inches. Bind off LOOSELY! The pattern will tell you what stitch to use.
  3. Soak your swatch in warm water for 5 minutes, if not longer. You can use a little wool wash if you want, but it’s not necessary.
  4. Take your swatch out of it’s bath and squeeze out all the water in a towel.
  5. Lay out your swatch flat. I use my ironing board for this as things dry quickly on it and it’s surface can get wet! I smooth out the swatch, but I DO NOT pin it.
  6. Let dry completely. (important... especially with superwash yarns!)
  7. Measure your stitch gauge. You want to do this over multiple inches, making sure you keep away from the edges to get an accurate stitch count. This is why you are casting on 6 more stitches than called for.
    • I always use an ironing board as a work surface and a gauge ruler or measuring tape.
    • With the swatch lying flat, measure the number of stitches over 4" (10cm).
    • Repeat for the row gauge.
    • Remember that stitches run horizontally and rows run vertically.
    • If you have too few stitches per inch (i.e., the gauge is loose), go down a needle size. This will tighten up the gauge by creating more stitches per inch.
    • If you have too many stitches per inch (i.e., the gauge is tight), go up a needle size. This will loosen up the gauge by creating fewer stitches per inch.
    • If a pattern calls for 24 sts/inch, and you get 23.5 or 24.5 sts/4 inches I wouldn’t re-swatch, but if the margin of error is bigger than that… I would!
  8. You can also measure your row gauge BUT in most projects the stitch gauge is more important so it’s not necessary to get too worried about it! I'll let you know in a pattern if row gauge matters more than stitch gauge.
If the gauge called for is in the round, then you can work a flat swatch in the round as follows on double pointed or circular needles:
  1. Work one row. DO NOT TURN WORK. Slide your stitches to the other end of the needle.
  2. Leaving a long float hanging at the back of your work, work another row. Again do not turn your work and slide your stitches to the other end of the needle. What this does is simulate working in the round.
  3. Continue on like this for 4 more inches.... follow directions above from #3.
Marking and Storing
I keep all of my gauge swatches... for "just in case" in an antique milk crate.... it's fun to look through and I always get good ideas when I play in it!
I mark them all so I know what size needle I used for the swatch. I can look up the yarn by searching my projects on Ravelry!  I do this by either, tying knots in the tail for the number of my needle size, or by purling that number of stitches in one of the first few rows. I know some designers who mark their swatches with sets of yarnovers and knit 2 togethers. 
This technique doesn't work well for the smaller needles sizes that have half sizes (like a US 1.5), when this happens you need to tie a note onto your swatch!

A final note: This is how I work gauge in my patterns... gauge technique may differ from designer to designer which is why I wanted to share mine with you. Do you have any other tips or tricks you'd like to include? Or a question? Let's start a gauge dialogue!

2.19.2015

Triplex... A New Kit!

Triplex is all about the number three!  It starts with three friends: a designer, a yarnie, and a button maker who decided to join forces and create a kit! I did the designing and knitting, Jill provided me with some incredible yarn, and Jennie made gorgeous buttons to match.
Triplex comes in three different colors: Iris, Pine and Trillium all in Jill's exclusive Mohonk, a 100% Cormo sport weight.
Triplex can be worn in three different ways: If you fold Triplex lengthwise and button it you’ve got a shrug, if you wear it centered at the back and bring the ends over your shoulder and button it you have a “ruana” and if you just wrap it around your body you have a shawl!





And Triplex plays with three knitting techniques: You’ll be expanding your knitting skills by working with elongated stitches, ruching and attached i-cord!.

Three times the fun, that’s what Triplex is!

If you are at Stitches West this weekend you can see kits in person at Jill and Jennie's booth (933, 935 & 937), I wish I could say that you'd see me there too, but I'm home, with a sick kid, a bored dog, and some negative wind chill temps to keep me company.

Luckily, I know not everyone can make it to Stitches West, so I have a limited number of kits available in my Etsy shop!

2.05.2015

Pathways Collection: A Collaboration with Kelbourne Woolens

I'm sure you've been seeing hints about the Pathways Collection over the last few months.... and it is time to celebrate its release!  It has been a long time since I did a collection with a yarn company and I absolutely ADORED working with Kate and Courtney at Kelbourne Woolens on it.  When I worked at Schaefer Yarn I often designed collections around a specific yarn and after the release of Knockout Knits it was refreshing to return to a project that brought me back to my designing roots.

The Pathways Collection plays with Kelbourne Woolens newest release Road to China Lace and has designs that go from simple to complex. I designed and knit the collection while I traveled this summer and fall. While I was on the road I thought about home, a lot, and invoked it in every piece. The 4 designs in the collection are named for favorite roads I ride my bike along (when weather permits). I closed my eyes and invoked their landscape, traveling their pathways while I knit away! (It's a skill, knitting with your eyes closed... works better in garter than lace : )!)

If you know my work you know I love to help make you all better knitters, so every design teaches, explores new constructions, and keeps your mind active while you knit!

Oh, and the yarn?  Road to China Lace is the laceweight version of one of my favorite yarns... it is  soft, has incredible drape and just floats off the needles. Most of these designs need only 1 skein as there is a whopping 656 yards on each skein... so if you run into it on your travels pick one up! (The large sizes of Stillwell and Vesa need 2 skeins.)

Covert Cowl
Stillwell Shawl (shown in large)
Prospect Shrug (sized)
Vesa Shawl (small and large)

All four of these designs are up on Ravelry and ready to be purchased and knit... head over to see LOTS more photos of them, read details, and think about which you want to make first! I can't wait to hear... I'm setting up a thread in my Ravelry group for questions/support, and any of these patterns are eligible to be knit in the 1st Quarter KAL.

Starting next Tuesday there will be a daily in depth discussion of each of these 4 designs on the Kelbourne Woolens Blog... keep an eye out. You'll get to learn about my inspirations, techniques learned, fashion tips for wearing them and more!

2.04.2015

Citgo Cowl: A Craftsy Student's SUCCESS!

Oh... I am so excited to share something with you! 

While I was away last week one of the students from my Craftsy Design Your Own Cowl Class published a stunning and innovative cowl pattern I just have to show you! Check out Citgo Cowl by JustineLark!!!!!
Part of what is so exciting about this is seeing how a knitter can watch my class, practice with the patterns and templates included and GO.FOR.IT and then realize their own truly innovative piece. That was my goal when I made the plan for Design Your Own Cowl, and I'm thrilled Craftsy and I succeeded!

Citgo Cowl is Justine's first pattern... it is a moebius, and the chevron shaping is created by working short row triangles in the first round of the cowl.  Justine is one of the main moderator's in my Ravelry group, and when I heard she was working on her first design I wanted to know more. I had a really hard time wrapping my brain around how the construction worked... so I asked if I could test knit it!
Such a fun knit… it flew off my needles! It was a great challenge to be a tester instead of the designer, so good to put yourself in others shoes sometimes. I knit mine with Quince and Co Osprey leftovers from my Rhinebeck sweater.... it is wonderful to have color to throw around my neck for the dreary winter days that have taken hold.

Also, I just posted February's prizes for the 1st Quarter KAL in my Ravelry group.... they are pretty awesome, and as usual I kinda wanna keep them all!  Thanks to DragonFly Fibers, Anzula, Ross Farm Fibers, Soak, Jill Draper and Jennie the Potter!  Y'all are the best!