June 2020 Meeting Recap: Cheryl Murray talks Cast-ons, Bind-offs: Basic and Beyond, Member Tips, and Show & Tell
by Kimberly Williams
The raffle is back! Our board members have been hard at work in the last month to bring the raffle to our virtual meetings. And it was a success! Three lucky people will be receiving their prizes in the days to come.
On a serious note, the past weeks have been difficult as well as inspiring. When we formed this guild three years ago, our main mission was to create a diverse community of knitters. Now the board enhances that vision by committing our organization to being an anti-racist community of fiber artists. Please join us in the hard work ahead.
Check out and support BIPOC makers, designers, and dyers. Below are just a few of the many talented Black members of the fiber community.
Kathryn Gearheard updated us on our sister guild, the Brave Girls Knitting Guild. In her previous visits, Kathryn taught the members to knit using straight needles and they showed no sign of interest in circular needles. However, as they delve into the realm of baby sweaters, they have joined Team Circular. When the world opens back up again, we will host a circular needle drive to add to the straight needles we have already collected. It is inspiring to see the Brave Girls using knitting as a marketable skill rather than just as a hobby.
Anna knocked it out of the park again with our member tip. This week she showed us a new way to count rows and how to place a running stitch marker using a darning needle and contrasting yarn. To count rows, run a needle up through a column of knitting and gently separate. Count the bars revealed to get your row count. Oh boy, does this change my knitting world! And then, Anna took it even further by showing us how to keep track of those rows. Check out the video to see how she does it. This technique can help track increases, decreases, and the length of the work. Not to mention motivate you on neverending stretches of sweaters or socks.
Member tip themes! I told you that Anna was on fire this month. To help inspire us and jog our brains on the great things we know that others might not, we will now have member tip themes. Each month, Anna will tell us the theme. If you have an idea or trick, send us an email and Anna will incorporate it into her presentation. July’s theme: Non-knitting things you use as knitting tools. For example, Anna uses a bread clip to wind up tails until she weaves them in.
Capitalizing on our virtual meetings, we went all the way to Kansas City to bring you Cheryl Murray’s presentation on casting on and binding off. She is a teacher of 15 years, designer, member of the Sunflower Knitting Guild, frequent customer of Yarn Barn, and known as Prairieknits on Ravelry, Twitter, and Instagram.
We all have our tried and true method we prefer to cast on and bind off. However, if a designer calls for a specific cast on method, Cheryl says there is probably a reason, for example, a particular look or desired stretchiness. You may also want to try a different method to achieve a decorative feature or use a provisional method to keep live stitches to add something extra later.
There’s no way Cheryl could cover all the numerous methods, so she outlined some problems with the standard long tail cast on and some tips to overcome them. First, long tail cast on needs a tail, right? But how much? I have definitely cast on a whole lot of stitches only to run out of yarn at the last few required. I have also started over when I ended up with way too much tail that I couldn’t stand to leave and waste that yarn. Yep, even started over when the cast on number was multiple hundreds. Cheryl, thank goodness, gave us some rules of thumb to guesstimate the length of tail. If your finished dimension is 20”, multiple 20 times 3 to get the length of tail you need. Or allow 1” for every stitch e.g. 40st = 40” (these tricks usually work for worsted weight). Or wrap the yarn around your needle 10 times, then measure the length. If it is really important, cast on 10 stitches, then pull them out and measure the length.
Next, Cheryl addressed the issue of long tail cast ons being too tight, either to knit into or as a finished edge. Use a finger on your left needle to eyeball and mark the spacing between cast on stitches. You can cast on using a larger needle but that doesn’t always work. She advises practicing until you cast on properly. Remember, hug your needle with the yarn, don’t strangle it. I thought that was a great way to focus my cast on energy.
The last issue Cheryl discussed was the reversibility of the long tail cast on. Typically it is not a reversible method. Meaning, the long tail cast on makes a row of knitting. If you turn and start working your right side row, that cast on row is the opposite of what it should be. Some patterns fix this by adding a purl row before the pattern starts. If it doesn’t, you can add one in, but double check it doesn’t mess up counts. Or cast on purlwise. All you do is reverse the order of the knitwise long tail cast on. You can even cast on in pattern which is great for ribbing which gives the edge a little extra stretch.
Cheryl also demonstrated the Estonian method with the optional double yarn start for an even more decorative edge. And lastly was the Twisted German cast on, also known as the German Long Tail cast on, and also as the Old Norwegian cast on.
As too tight bind offs are a common problem, Cheryl covered a few ways to help. If you need just a little extra stretch, try the Suspended bind off. This method basically prevents you from pulling too tight. The Elastic bind off is also good for just a bit more stretch. If you need to stretch the edge to the extreme for a lace shawl, try the yarn over method or Russian Lace bind off. So much great information here and in her handout. Thanks, Cheryl.
Cheryl recommended these two books: Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting and Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods
Once again several people sent in pictures of their finished projects and we were able to put together our virtual show and tell.
Want to watch the full meeting? Click here.
May 2020 Meeting Recap: Luigi Boccia of Brooklyn Tweed Takes Us Behind the Scenes with the Design and Launch of a New Yarn, Member Tips, and Show & Tell
by Kimberly Williams
May’s virtual meeting presentations started with Anna sharing tips on how to keep track of what sized needle was used for a gauge swatch.
Method 1: add a series of yarn overs to a row of the swatch. For example, if you are knitting with size 5 needles, you would add 5 yarn overs with their corresponding K2TOG (YO, K2TOG, YO, K2TOG, YO, K2TOG, YO, K2TOG, YO, K2TOG).
Method 2: add knots to a tail to equal the needle size.
Method 3: add a numbered bead to a removable stitch marker. This last is my personal favorite, as I love an excuse to buy beads.
Click images below to see examples.
Our speaker for the month was Luigi Boccia, co-owner and operations manager of Brooklyn Tweed. He took us through the process of launching a new yarn and gave us an exclusive preview of their next yarn, Dapple. After 10 years of focusing on growing a business and maintaining their goal of sustainably sourced and milled yarn from the U.S., they were ready to challenge themselves and create something a bit more playful.
Dapple blends cotton, a renewable, sustainable fiber, with Merino wool. The wool comes from a Colorado ranch owned by a scientist focusing on improving the genetics of the herd. This business relationship had already been established. Finding a cotton farm that met Brooklyn Tweed’s high standards was the first challenge. They learned about a Texas organic cotton farm while watching the documentary The True Cost. That farm turned out to be a perfect fit.
The next big challenge was how to dye the fibers. Wool and cotton take color differently. Cotton provides an additional challenge as it takes color sporadically. You could dye each separately and then mix them together, trying for an exact match. Or you can achieve a marled effect with 2 different colors. Or as their mill suggested, you can dye the fibers together with a dye developed for one of the fibers and produce a faded effect normally produced through a hand-dyed method. And thus was born the first line of Brooklyn Tweed with no two skeins alike.
Luigi’s excitement for the whimsy in Dapple was obvious. He encourages sweater knitters to be experimental with skein placement to get the best variation. Dapple’s playful nature is set apart from Brooklyn Tweed’s other lines’ classic and timeless colors.
For me, the most interesting thing was learning about why they release only a few colors with each new line. The smaller palettes help local yarn shops adjust their space to new inventory. Too many choices can also overwhelm knitters already excited by a new yarn. Which of us hasn’t stood, mesmerized and drooling over a newly discovered yarn?
Now we will all hold our breath until Dapple is released on July 15th with two new patterns by Jared Flood.
Thank you, Luigi, for our sneak peek!
We wrapped up with a virtual show and tell. Our knitters have been productive and have created some beautiful things.
April 2020 Meeting Recap: Our First Virtual Meeting with Meaghan Schmaltz (aka The Unapologetic Knitter), the Return of Member Tips, and Show & Tell
by Kimberly Williams
Our first virtual meeting was a success. Margaret welcomed people as they signed into the Zoom meeting. And what a breath of fresh air was that bit of normality in the face of our current situation.
Anna Lorton has graciously volunteered to organize our member tips to make them a regular feature of meetings again. She started off with two great ideas. For those reluctant to speak in front of a crowd, you can ask a friend to present your tip. As well as technique tips, we can also share “knit-changing” book recommendations.
Anna’s tip for this month was a game changer for Make 1 increases.
Back by popular demand and bravely agreeing to be our virtual presentation guinea pig, Meaghan Schmaltz, aka The Unapologetic Knitter, spoke to us about the challenges of grading designs to achieve size inclusivity. Her passion for this movement was apparent immediately and outlined in three reasons to design for all body shapes. Community, pride in creation, and because it’s the right thing to do. When a pattern gains popularity and everyone is knitting it, a community is created around that pattern. If that pattern’s design limits sizes to a small range, many will be excluded. And isn’t one of the best parts of being a knitter the sense of belonging? When you knit a pattern and the design is thoughtful about each size, thus allowing the finished sweater to fit you well, pride will follow. Pride that you made this beautiful sweater, stitch by stitch. And hopefully, that pride will translate into self-love.
There are many challenges to grading a pattern. Grading is adjusting a pattern for a range of sizes based on a sample size. Ratio of increases is not the same at every part of the sweater, collar, yoke, bust, sleeve, waist. Raglan yokes are especially hard to grade and maintain the 45 degree angle. To grade a pattern for an inclusive size range takes time. Either the designer must put in the effort themselves or hire technical editors, like Meaghan.
What does all of this mean for knitters? Patterns will be longer with more breakouts—sections of the pattern written for a subset of sizes; for example, size 1,2,3 only, work these steps. More time on the designers part will increase pattern pricing. In our opinion, the cost will be well worth it.
Meaghan also presented results from her size off comparison of Andrea Mowry’s Comfort Fade Cardigan sized using standard nomenclature (S,M,L) and the Weekender sized using numerical nomenclature (1,2,3,4). Part of this inclusive movement in knitting design is the shift in nomenclature. Meahan looked at 10 pages of Ravelry projects for each sweater. Out of the 320 projects of each design, 50% of the Comfort Fade reported the size made. Compare that to the numerical sized Weekender at 70% reporting the size made. Are people more comfortable with a method of naming sizes that does not include a negative connotation? It would seem so. This all goes back to the sense of community. Ravelry provides us with a place to share our projects and learn from others’ projects. How much more useful would this be if we all felt comfortable to share the size we made?
Lastly, Meaghan highlighted some designers she knows who are doing the work to further embracing body positivity and size inclusivity. Jacqueline Cieslak is a great inspiration for both of these. Shannon Squire and Annie Lupton are making the effort to go back and regrade their designs for a wider range of sizes. Meaghan works with Trysten Molina and Andrea Mowry to create designs that have the same look at all sizes.
Thanks, Meaghan, for a great presentation.
Despite being virtual, we still wanted to do a show and tell. We asked the community to mail in their projects, and finished off the meeting with the below.
We have been following the evolving COVID-19 situation carefully and doing our best to follow public health guidelines.
With our community in mind,
the March meeting
previously scheduled for Thursday, 3/12
and the Native Knits KAL evenings
previously scheduled for Tuesday, 3/17, and Tuesday, 3/31
are postponed due to coronavirus.
As soon as we have the arrangements complete,
we will share the details with you.
February 2020 Meeting Recap: A Packed Meeting with Special Guests, Main Speaker Yvonne Cutright, and Show & Tell
by Kimberly Williams
Another great meeting of Puddletown Knitters Guild with a lot happening.
We received some adorable stuffed animals for our charity knitting project, bringing us to a total of 20. Don’t forget to tag @ButterflyBoxesPDX to spread the joy of crafting with a purpose.
Exciting news for our guild. We are now sister guild to the Brave Girls, a group of new knitters in Rwanda and Uganda. Next month, Kathryn Gearheard, teacher to these women, will tell her story and share their goals. We will also be collecting straight knitting needles for her to take to the Brave Girls. So clean out your duplicates or purchase some new ones and bring them to the March meeting.
Peter and Betty Charles were on hand to demonstrate their finely crafted swifts and winders. It was fascinating to hear the origin story of their company, Oregon Woodworkers. Betty’s LYS asked him to fix and recreate a shop swift that was always breaking. Peter spent the next two years perfecting the design. Their swifts come in a variety of woods, set up and pack up easily, and are pretty enough to leave out all the time. Even better, there are zero wood on wood turning points, so our PNW humidity won’t wreak havoc on your yarn winding.
Our speaker had years of wisdom and stories to share with us. Yvonne inspired us with her designs and the process behind each. The highlights I took away are:
Post meeting book list from Yvonne, in no particular order:
And her latest purchase mentioned at the meeting:
Show and tell
In her presentation, designer Debbi Stone of Stitches of My Life Designs discussed gauge: what is it, what determines it, and what is the role of gauge in the success of your final project.
Like many beginning knitters, Debbi was never taught about gauge and how it can affect your knitted item, and this led to many project failures where things just didn’t fit right. Luckily, once you master gauge you can prevent these things from happening.
Gauge is defined as the number of stitches per inch, in both stitches across (stitch gauge) and stitches vertically (row gauge). Gauge can be affected by the yarn, the needles, the knitting style, the knitter, and the situations of the day; therefore it’s important to always check gauge if you want your project to come out as expected. An additional consideration with gauge is the desired overall structure or drape of the finished fabric. Before making anything, Debbi recommends knitting a gauge swatch. If this matches the gauge listed in a pattern, then your project will match the design as written. If it doesn’t, it will not and you will need to make changes (different needles or yarn are the easiest things to switch out).
When swatching, you will be able to find out how you like the fabric, how the yarn looks, how the pattern or colorwork look, how the fabric flows/drapes and generally how you like it, in addition to the gauge you get. Some swatching tips Debbi had were to be sure to stick to the same situation as the pattern calls for as much as possible. For example, use the same yarn, and the same needles; if the pattern is knit in the round; knit the swatch in the round; swatch all of the knitted patterns you will be making in the project; and be sure to knit onto the full shaft of the needle (not just the tip of the needle) even though it’s a small swatch. By following these steps, you will get a swatch that is representative of the gauge you will get with the project. To make a useful swatch, Debbi suggests always including a garter edge so as to more easily see the edges of what you’ve made without curling. Finally, Debbi insists that if you don’t block your swatch, you shouldn’t even bother knitting it, as you will have no idea of what happens to the yarn/fabric once blocked. When blocking, she recommends following the ball band regarding temperature, but then simply laying out the swatch to dry (without pins) in order to see what it does naturally.
Thank you, Debbi!
Show and Tell
Brad Clark and his life-long sweetheart, Cheri, owned The Naked Sheep Knit Shop for 12 years. Living with a knitter for over 30 years has taught Brad a lot. He shared insightful lessons, humorous stories, and tips.
Brad asked us to consciously think about our knitting and our lives. He broke it down into a few steps:
He highlighted that knitters are a wonderful group of people. Whether it’s supporting local businesses like The Naked Sheep Knit Shop, or during tragedies like a Portland knitter who was in a serious accident while bicycling, we pitch in when others are in need.
Rose Haven Blankets
Puddletown donated about 50 handmade blankets to Rose Haven. Some were quilted, some crochet, some knitted, but all were made with TLC. Seeing the heavy bags filled with blankets was inspiring. These blankets will help women and their families stay warm throughout the winter while letting them know that someone cares.
In addition, we also donated many boxes of menstrual products to help refill Rose Haven’s shelves.
Kim Biegler shared her work process at Ewethful Fiber Farms and Mill. In 2015, Kim met Janell of Fantasy Fibers. After processing her own fleeces at home, Kim was intrigued by the milling process and Janell reached out when she decided to retire. In 2016, Kim took over the business, and used it as a reason to expand her menagerie with more fiber producing animals.
In addition to her own yarn, she also works with farms throughout the northwest. When Kim receives skirted fleece from a farm, she washes the fiber and sends it through the dehairing process to remove coarse hairs like guard hairs. Then, it’s time for picking where the fibers are fluffed and blended (e.g., different types of wool, or wool with alpaca). When it’s all fluffed and blended, it’s off to the carding process where fibers are aligned and roving and batts are produced. Then it’s time for spinning, winding, steaming and skeining … and then … Yarn!
Throughout this whole process, there are many variables that Kim needs to account for including things like temperature and humidity, which affect the fibers and can cause the machinery to jam.
Unlike larger commercial yarns, Ewethful yarns are sourced, milled, spun, and dyed in Oregon. Large, commercial yarns could start in the northwest, but are transported out-of-state for washing, then hauled somewhere else for spinning and yet another for dyeing before coming back to the northwest for sale.
Thank you, Kim!
Chair Margaret Weddell explained to the members that the purpose was to elect board members for the term of January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2022.
The terms for Angela Bayout, Kimberly Williams, Kim Winter would expire December 31, 2019.
Angela did not want to seek reelection, and we thank her for all of her hard work. Kimberly Williams sought reelection to the board and would like to serve as Outreach Coordinator. Kim Winter sought reelection as Volunteer Coordinator. lyric apted and Julie Spellman sought election to the board as co-Communications Coordinators. There was a motion by member Stacy Hankin to elect them, seconded by Michelle Corcoran, and was passed with no dissenting votes.
Board members Margaret Weddell (chair), Natalie Sass (Secretary/Treasurer), and Annette Caughman (Program Chair) were elected to two-year terms last year and will continue to serve on the board through December 31, 2021.
JC Briar's October presentation produced so many cries of delight with her unique approach to visualizing a pattern on paper. After writing a book (Charts Made Simple) explaining how charts work, she took her computer programming know-how to revolutionize charts into maps. Stitch-maps.com is an “online stitch dictionary, crowd sourced” that produces stitch maps that resemble the knit fabric in a way a stitch chart just can’t.
You can search for common stitch patterns by pattern name or tags such as “brioche” or “lace” and even “Japanese stitch clusters.” If you can’t find the pattern you need, you can enter the written directions, click a button, and voila, a stitch map just for you. Don’t worry about copyrights, JC keeps tabs on the new additions to the site. Also, most stitch patterns are not eligible for copyright status.
The website has various levels of access. Some parts are free. For $15 a year you get access to a little more, and if you are a designer there are even more features for you. Just to name a few features of the stitch maps, there are row guides and column guides, section highlighting and even stitch counts per row.
It seems hard to believe this amazing tech has been around since 2012! It has 250 symbols for stitches and over 1000 stitch patterns in its library. Check it out so you can be as amazed as everyone else. Thanks, JC!
Show and Tell
Check out your amazing finished projects!
Rose Haven Blankets
It was overwhelming to see all of the finished blankets piled up at the bow tying table. At least 40 blankets have been collected for Rose Haven Women's Shelter. A big thanks to everyone who worked hard on making that possible. We will be taking them to Rose Haven after our November meeting along with any menstraution products collected at that meeting.
Join us next month when Kim Biegler, owner of Ewethful Fiber Farms and Mill, joins us!
This month, our own Volunteer Coordinator Kim Winter stepped up to share her Tip Top Sweater Tips before casting on. As a knitting teacher herself, Kim is full of amazing information. Thank you, Kim, for sharing your expertise! Here are her tips, in her own words!
Once I have begun my sweater, I keep the pattern, all the yarn and needles in the same project bag. If I need that needle for another project, I never put it on another needle but instead put the sweater wip on waste yarn or just a needle holder. I make copious notes on my project and even will put a note to myself as to where I left off in case I don’t get back to my project in a timely manner.
They say an average sweater takes 30-60 hours to complete. The ten hints listed above usually take me under an hour and by doing this “homework”, I knit successful and wearable sweaters. I encourage you to delve into the world of sweater knitting! It is so much fun!
Thank you, Kim!
Join us next time, October 10, with JC Briar.
Missives from the fabulous women who got the ball (of yarn) rolling.