The Adventure Continues.....




Changing colors and sewing in loose ends (tails)

Current projects: Etsy order for a Doc McStuffins sweater (size 4T) just finished, see below

About to start: 6-9 month sweaters for twins a friend is expecting!


I have been out of the blogging world for quite a while, and realized photographing the end of my current project was a great way to dive back in.

Doc McStuffins, image courtesy of

I just finished an Etsy order for a size 4T sweater that looks like the one Doc McStuffins wears.  She is an adorable cartoon character that takes care of her stuffed animals, which of course come to life when no one else is around.  I made one last year for a halloween costume- see the moms' blog post about how the whole costume came out.


This one is for another little girl, a little older (turning 4).  The hardest part of this sweater is calculating how many rows each stripe should be before switching colors, as I would like it to come out with the same number of stripes as the tv character has.  Sweater patterns are not quite broken down by # of rows, some sections are, and other parts will say "knit for 7.5 inches."  Knowing your gauge (how many rows and stitches per inch) can be helpful for figuring this out.  A bit of info on how to figure out gauge is in my post on Beginning your first project.  I had to rip out the main body (armpits down) after a few stripes when I realized they were too thick, but the great thing about clothes for younger kids/babies is they are smaller, so go a lot quicker!


This post is about what to do with all the "tails" you get from starting or stopping a project, changing colors, or simply changing skeins of yarn on a solid sweater.  I'm sure I have talkad about this before, but the stripes show very clearly what is going on.


Here is the sweater, knitting complete.  I have already sewn in the seams on the body, bottom ribbing, and top collar.  I cut the yarn at the beginning and end of every stripe, leaving at least 6 inches of yarn as a "tail"-  you can see them all hanging out the ends of the sleeves.  I use a process called "weaving in" the ends-  there are no knots involved, it is useful for closing holes, and if done properly, will stay in place for quite some time.  

 Here you can see the sleeve, and the loose stitches or gaps where one color ends and the next begins.  I also have issues with where the stitches were picked up at the base of the sleeve to work around-  there tend to be holes on either side- see the bottom of the picture.  This happens on sweater, mittens, gloves, etc, and are very unsightly if you let them go.  Much of this can be taken care of by weaving in the ends.  The first thing to do is turn the piece inside out.  You will also need a large tapestry needle or yarn needle.  I prefer the metallis ones to pure plastic, and while blunt-end is good, too dull of a tip makes the work more difficult.  





So here is the inside of the sleeve-  notice all the tails of yarn, as well as the holes where the sleeve meets the body.  Let's tackle the latter first.  Thread your needle with the yarn with which you started the sleeve, which should be right at the base where the body meets the sleeve.

1. First row- split each stitch with the needle.

Weaving ends in means sewing the yarn end through the stitches.  The trick here is you don't want to see them on the outside ("right side") of the work.  the best way to do this is to catch only part of each strand of yarn for a few rows.  It is best to go up and down through rows, rather than side to side.  This way is easier to "pierce" the yarn, only picking up a few strands, and will hold up from unraveling through normal wear on the garment.  In the picture on the right, I have worked the yarn over to the edge of the hole, and have threaded the needle through several rows, splitting the yarn in each row-  this way you will not see it on the outside.  Then I will come back down int he next column, up, etc.  See the captions under pictures.2. Now down the "column" next to the first, right actoss the hole.

3. Back up- with each column, pull the yarn snug to close the gap, but not tight. That will bunch up the knit stitches on the right side of the work.

4. Back down. 3-4 times increases the durability of your finish.

5. Up again: when sealing up under-arm holes, more may be needed. I do a few columns after I am done with the hole for good measure.




























6. Now both sides are done! on to the stripes.












The method used to seal up the stripes is the same as what I use when I reach the end of one skein and am about to start another in a single color sweater.  The only difference with stripes is I try to weave the ends through rows of the corresponding color, so it shows as little as possible on the right side.  First, start by "completing the stitch."  Leave yourself about 6 incles of yarn on each end when you trim the ends, and you can see the hole you are closing.  This is much easier than closing the hole in the underarm.  I start by going totally under the stitch where the other end is, which is where the yarn would go if you had continued.  Once this is snug, I start weaving the end up and down as shown above, sticking to the appropriate color side.  When you have done this 3-4 times, clip the yarn close to the work so the end is hardly visible.  Then do the same on the other side.  See pictures below for the process.


1. The open hole- notice where each yarn tail comes out2. "Completing the stitch": going completely under the loop where the other tail comes out.3. Pull the tail snug, but not overly tight.4. Note here the tail has been sewn down, and is now coming back up, staying on the white stitches.5. One more time down to secure.6. When done weaving, cut tail close to work. here you can see the weaving from the strip as well as the armhole.7. Next the purple side- here the stitch has been closed, and the needle catches a column of stitches through the middle of each strand.

8. In the same fashion as the white side, reverse direction and sew through some columns 2-3 more times.9. The stripe is finished, and closed up snugly.Here is the entire inside of the sleeve with all the color changes woven in.This is the sweater right side out- you are looking at the sleeve and side of the body, where all the color changing takes place. You may be able to see where it happens, but the transitions are relatively smooth, and there are no gaping holes.






































































Last is all the cuffs. Cuffs/collars on sweaters tend to be what is called "ribbing," with a knit (K) 1, purl (p) 1 repetition, or k2 p2.  once you are finished, you ofen have an uneven gap where the last stitch is bound off, and no clear columns to thread your needle through as on the body of the piece.  Here are some step by step pictures of how I do it.

1. End of the sleeve cuff- notice the gap. I start by turning the piece inside out.2. First, I "close the stitch" by sewing right side to wrong side through the first stitch of the row.3. Next, I sew back to near where I started to secure the gap.4. Now I use the same process of sewing up and down through a column of stitches, using the "in-between" space where you can find horizontal stitches to easily sew through that will not be as visible on the right side5. Here is the cuff on the right side when done- hard to see where the work happened.

The finished sweater!


















That's all for now-  pictures of what I've been working on all summer next time!  Even I am on sensory overload from the amount of pictures in this post.


As always, may your own adventures in crafting bring you joy and satisfaction.


Update: I have been working on new methods of weaving in ends, including the duplicate stitch method-  look for a blog post soon!


Crafting night!

Current projects:  I just finished an Etsy order hat, to be mailed tomorrow.  See the relisting with pictures from my new camera here, and look for a post about upgrading my pictures soon.

Next are a present for my sister's birthday, a pair of fingerless gloves for a customer in Franklin, NC, and I am still in the middle of a sweater for my Dad's birthday.



Today was the second meeting of my weekly craft night at the boarding school I work at (I would call it my "Day Job" but ironically I run a dorm, so most of my hours are evenings, nights, and mornings......


Each week I have had about 4 women stop by, a perfect number for my cozy living room.  I started teaching one woman crochet last week, one knitting tonight.  Several peaple have brought their own projects, ranging from crochet, knitting, and even painting a shelf with drawers!  Some stop by for the company rather than the crafting, or in addition to it.  No pictures of us in action, for now it is a private group that relazes with cheese and crackers, cookies, candy, La Croix flavored selzer or a small glass of wine.  I love that crafting and the fascination with it can be used as a community builder.  With only two nights off a week, I find it a wonderful way to spend one of them.  


The women who come are all ages, though more often than not they are of my generation or younger (30's and 20's).  Conversation topics are wide ranging and often have nothing to do with crafting.  People often discover that some projects are great to work on while hanging out with friends, while others need a little too much concentration, so conversation and wine do not mix well. Ususally conversation wins out in those situations.


How about you?  What do you do to get together with friends and relax?  


Fingerless Convertible Mittens

Current Projects:  Purple baby blanket in the works, birthday presents coming up!


Happy New Year!  I have been furiously working on Christmas presents for the family, and of course did not get any good pictures of them before I gave them away.  If I get some from the family, I will post them.  


I thought I'd post an entry on how I make my most popular item on Etsy, Convertible Fingerless Mittens.  I have sold over a dozen pairs in the past 15 months, with varying details such as open or closed thumbs, 5" to elbow-length cuffs.  They have shipped from Alaska to Wisconsin to Germany!  These mittens are great for warmth and versatility, the open fingers and thumbs can allow you to use a smartphone outdoors on a chilly winter day without taking your mittens off, and the flaps keep your fingers warm when they need to be so.


First I make sure the mittens will come out to the correct size by kniting a gauge swatch.  I knit enough stitches and rows that I can measure how many stitches (they look like "v"s in the picture) are in 2 inches:  gauge in a pattern usually is printed for 4", so I multiply by 2.  If you have too few stitches, try again with smaller needles.  Too many stitches, try bigger needles.  Gauge is pretty important if you want things to fit right.




After I figure out the right size needles to use, I cast on the correct number of stitches onto one needle. These stitches will be worked "in the round" on double pointed needles.  If you have been nervous about using double pointed needles (dpns) in the past, I'll try to lay out some helpful hints. 



First distribute the stitches onto three of the needles by slipping them from one needle to the next.  Arrange the needles in a triangle.  




Here is the trick to using 4 dpns:  work with only 2 at a time, and do your best to forget the other 2.  Start by taking the empty needle in your right hand, and the needle where the stitches started (NOT the one the yarn you will work is coming from).  Start knitting the stitches on the needle in your left hand, being careful the stitches are not twisted around the other needles (the one time you should pay attention to the other 2)-  that will cause problems later on.  Knit the stitches on the kneedle on the left, as if you had regular needles in your hands. (see picture on right)



As you reach the end of the stitches on the needle in your left hand, it is then empty, while the one in your right hand is now full (see picture on left).  Move the empty needle to your right hand, and rotate the knitting to the right: the next needle will be the one you hold in your left hand- use these two and knit as if you had regular knitting needles (see right).  Keep repeating the process.  It helps to have a marker of some kind (see the 1st knitting picture) to know where the beginning of the round falls.  



My version of the cuff has cables, but all mittens have some kind of knit/purl combination, so the yarn has give and stretch around your wrist.


A few rows in after the cuff increases are made to gradually make room for the thumb.  when enough of them are added on, they are put on a holder to be stitched later.  Just after the thumb stitches are set up, and 2 stitches are cast onto replace them so you can keep knitting in the round, the back half is knitted on a larger needle to stretch out that row.  This is where the convertible flap will be attached later.  On the next round, slide the larger stitches below on a spare needle or contrasting piece of yarn so they are easier to pick up again and work later. (stitch holder and holding needle in picture on left)





Keep stitching around until you have a good length, but your fingers can still be seen-  I often try them on while I'm working to check, but usually after about 4" from where you stopped knitting the cuff, you will be ready to knit the ribbing for the top, about 6 rows, then cast off (I'll try to post about how to do that soon!). see right.


Next, you have a choice of working the flap or the thumb. I usually do the thumb, as then the stitch holder is not in the way when I knit the flap.  The example shown (left) has a closed thumb-  slide the stitched from the holder onto three dpns, pick up two stitches, knit around for about 14 rows, then slowly decrease until you have between 4-6 stitches on the needles.  Cut a long tail of yarn and thread that tail through the stitches in the same direction you have been knitting, and pull them snug.  At the bottom is a picture of an open thumb-  this one is worked in ribbing, and after a few rows, they are simply cast off. 




Next knit the stitches on the needle holding the larger stitches across the back, then cast on the same number of stitches onto the next needle.  Evenly distribute the new stitches onto two needles, then you have three needles full of stitches (right).  Start with the 4th empty needle and join the yarn to the first needle, attached to the mitten (left).  Work the pattern, if there is any, on the needle attached to the mitten, and about 4 rows of ribbing on the new stitches, before switching to knitting.  After about 20 rows, start decreasing at the edge of the sides every other row.  Many mitten patterns will say to continue that until there are about 12 stitches left-  I start decreasing every row at about 20 stitches, that makes a more rounded mitten top.  When there are 12 stitches left, I cast them off, then sew together the top.  Sew in all the loose ends, weaving them up and down the backs of stitches so they are not seen on the front, and will not unravel on the back.


 open thumb

I make them in all kinds of colors, and the great advantage of custom orders is you get to decide all the details! See the listing on Etsy.

I hope your holiday crafting has brought you happiness and satisfaction.


Almost to 200 roses!

Current projects:  


finished my experiment with metallic highlighted yarn, see my fun fingerless gloves on Etsy.  Next I'm going to make gloves out of black metallic :)


Also working on a cute sweaterdress for my niece for Xmas.  posting pictures soon.


A quick post to update everyone on my rose sales.  As some of you may know, I raise money for Cystic Fibrosis research by selling crochet roses (the nickname for Cystic Fibrosis is "65 Roses.").  See more about why I raise money to help my niece here, and see colors of most of the roses I make here.  I charge $10, and $5 goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  For a guide to how I make the roses, see my post on "65 Roses Crochet Flower"


I examined my records, and discovered I am almost to 200, 191 sold!  That is over $950 raised for research through roses alone.  For anyone who likes numbers and stats, here is a list of sales so far.  I'll list them by color, most popular first, with type of backing next to it (you can get them with a pin, hairclip, or aligator pin on the back).  Some sales are the result of a large order in one color, or wanting 30 roses all different colors, so it is hard to scientifically deduce on which colors I should focus moving forward.  I have about 30 in stock of all different colors currently.  Some of the roses are pictured at the bottom of this post.


Roses Sold as of October 15, 2012:

26 solid red (21 pins, 1 hairclip, 1 gator pin)

24 pink, purple, and green variegated (all pins)

19 purple variegated (16 pins, 2 hairclips, 1 gator pin)

15 pink variegated (14 pins, 1 hairclip)

9 green variegated (7 pins, 1 hairclip, 1 gator clip)

8 cream (6 pin, 2 hairclip)

8 red variegated (4 pins, 3 hairclips, 1 gator pin)

6 Hard candy- red and white (2 pins, 3 hairclips, 1 gator pin)

7 cotton candy pink (all pins)

5 purple & gray variegated (all pins)

5 solid purple (all pins)

5 turquoise & tan variegated (all pins)

4 peach-pink (2 pins, 1 hairclip, 1 gator pin)

4 purple & black variegated (all pins)

4 pink, red, purple mix (all pins)

4 sherbet- yellow, orange, and red (all pins)

3 blue-gray variegated (all pins)

3 fall variegated (all pins)

3 purple & blue variegated (all pins)

2 bright yellow (all pins)

2 light blue variegated (all pins)

2 medium/light blue variegated (all pins)

2 muted yellow variegated (all pins)

2 orange variegated (all pins)

2 periwinkle variegated (all pins)

2 light blue (all pins)

2 medium blue (all pins)

1 gray variegated pin

1 dark pink pin

1 green pin

1 magenta pin

1 magenta-red pin

1 navy pin

1 pale pink pin

1 pink & gray variegated pin

1 scarlet pin

1 turquoise, blue & gray variegated pin

1 yellow & tan variegated pin

solid redpink, purple & greenpurple variegatedpink variegated

For those that are interested, that's 9 aligator clips (4.7%), 14 hairclips (7.3%), and 168 pins (88%).  I only started making hairclips as an option recently, and the gator clips even more recently than that.  Sales come from fundraisers I attend, prders placed in person, and online Etsy sales.  Check out the rose section of my Etsy store, or contact me for a custom order!


May your crafting bring you happiness and satisfaction such as raising money for a good cause.




My first try at steeking

Current projects:

Finished: the purple sweater for a 12 month old, see picture of it being blocked.

Finished: commissioned fingerless gloves, contact me if you want a pair in your favorite color!

Finished: tea cozy from Jane Austen Knits summer issue, see below as it was my first attempt at steeking!

On the sticks: knitted toddler dress from a Sublime pattern.






I have started my Christmas projects, and am being quite ambitious as I am also receiving several requests for winterwear such as the fingerless gloves above as the weather gets colder. Keep checking in to see how it's all going, and if I finish in time! I have one panel of the toddler dress done, though not a current picture of it.


I decided to tackle steeking for the first time with a tea cozy pattern from Jane Austen Knits (summer 2012), a great magazine for those who are both yarn and literature geeks! Steeking is a technique that has always scared me: knitting in the round and cutting your knitting for arm/neck/cardigan/etc openings instead of binding off. It is a technique that has been used for a long time, especially by those who do complicated fair isle knitting (where multiple colors and therefore strands of yarn are used) and don't want to have to take care of a million loose ends of yarn when they are done. I had the same questions as most: won't the whole thing just unravel? Why would I do all that work if it can fall apart?


I followed the advice in the article listed in Jane Austen Knits, and it worked out well for me. I'm providing a link to the detailed instructions here, and showing what it was like for me below. You may need to subscribe to knitting daily to see the article, but it is free and the article is very helpful.


note extra stitches on edge-they look like stripesFirst the pattern, and steeking guidelines, call for about 6-10another view of the extra stitches stitches between ends of the pattern, as a buffer for where you are eventually going to cut. By alternating colors, you are interweaving the yarn and creating a stronger barrier.





For extra reinforcement, especially when you are using fiber other than wool (which tends to grab itself anyway), you can crochet the columns of stitches in the middle to each other. In this case I was crocheting a strand of the white and navy stitches to each other. I was nervous about the process, and using cotton yarn, so through this would be a good idea.










Then the nerve-wracking part: cutting up the middle! Careful not to cut the crochet part, here I go, snip, snip snip!





I had a lot of loose pieces of yarn when I was done, but the main piece has remained in tact. The next step was to trim the loose ends, and tack down the steeking to the wrong side with more white yarn.


After blocking the piece (fairly essential when working with more than one color as it will even out the stitches), I am proud of my finished product! The photo below is of my cozy on a much smaller teapot than it is destined for, but the only teapot in my home!

Check out the article on steeking, it has great drawings of different ways to try it out!


Back to my cabled toddler dress, if you brave steeking too may you find happiness and satisfaction!