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.
Puddletown had the pleasure of hosting Wendy Hanson of Shaggy Bear Farms to our August Guild Meeting.
Wendy and her husband moved to Scio, Oregon about 15 years ago and began a fiber farm where they breed and raise a variety of goats, sheep, and alpacas. This growing farm now boasts more than 25 different breeds of sheep and they currently have over 400 animals in their "farm to needle" operation. Many of the sheep were originally rescue animals.
Wendy described the characters of her sheep and has enjoyed giving them names and personalities. She enjoys singing while shearing them. She also provided information about intentional breeding versus accidental breeding and what it takes to continue a fiber farm. A self-described hard worker, Wendy rises about 3:30 in the morning to tend to her "babies" before working a full day's job and coming home to more farm work before retiring in the evenings.
Wendy's inventory of yarns were truly beautiful; from vibrant colors to a natural/neutral palette. Wendy brought many hanks and rovings of her self-dyed yarn to show and sell. Wendy describes her inspiration for color choices from "Mother Nature".
Thank you, Wendy, for sharing a glimpse into your incredible life with us.
Please join us at our next week, Thursday September 12th, for finishing techniques with Shellie Anderson.
Thank You, Black Sheep Gathering for Having Us
Puddletown Knitters Guild held its first booth at the Black Sheep Gathering (BSG) in Albany on July 7th and 8th. The guild was well received by the staff organizers! It was the first time BSG had hosted a guild and they were warm and welcoming.
Thank You, Volunteers
Our fabulous volunteers greeted the public, introduced them to our budding guild, described our past events and current charity, and provided cards, pins, and project bag patterns to inquirers. It is estimated that volunteers spoke to well over a hundred people during the weekend. In addition, the volunteers chatted with folks from three other nearby guilds and it was great to share information.
We would like to especially thank the following volunteers who were so kind to help: Michelle Corcoran, Anna Manayan, Kathryn Gearheard, Kimberly Williams, Laura Bergeron, Michele Nichols, Rebecca Robb and Emme Von!
Did you go to Black Sheep Gathering this year? What fiber festivals did you visit this summer?
Just a quick update on PKG's "Knit Nights," our monthly meet up to discuss our thoughts and experiences on racism and other social justice issues in the knitting community.
First, we now want to call this meet up Conscious Conversations. This reflects what we want to promote and what we strive to do. For knitters who are engaged in social media, who use Ravelry, who go to yarn shops, who...well, knit, we set aside a night each month to allow both members and non-members to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Second, we have a new meeting time and place. Please join us the last Monday each month, 6:30 to 8:30 at New Seasons Seven Corners cafe.
So, if you've been wanting to talk in person with other knitters who have been following Ravelry's news, discovering or wanting to support more BIPOC knitters, and just want to self-reflect through conversation about race, gender, personal politics, and more with other knitters, please come. :)
From member Anna Manayan:
A support group has started for the Master Knitter Program Level 1 by TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association). A table at the Puddletown monthly guild meeting is set up for our enrollees to meet at 6pm, before the regular guild meeting. The purpose of the support group is to offer encouragement, support and accountability for those enrolled in this awesome program.
TKGA started the Master Knitter program in 1987 as a means to help educate knitters to improve their skills. You do not need to have any goal of teaching or designing; just the simple goal of taking your knitting to the next level. Specific goals and criteria were created by TKGA that include knitting swatches, answering questions and completing a couple of projects.
Level 1 has a time completion of one year. It includes 19 swatches, 4 gauge worksheets, 22 questions, a mitten, references that serve as a guild for your future knitting library, and questions and answers about blocking. Your work is sent to a designated committee member from TKGA for review. There is no limit during the year of your enrollment on the number of swatches you can do or re-do if needed.
A few members have completed the entire Master Knitting Program, Level 1, 2 & 3. In speaking with them, they have all said that the program has taken their knitting to the next level! How wonderful that is to improve our confidence and skill as knitters so that we can take on those projects that we dream of!
You can enroll anytime for Level 1’s one year program; however, how nice it would be to enroll now so that we can all begin together. Go to TKGA’s site to join here https://tkga.org/membership/ Once you join you will receive an email giving you login information. Once you log in, you can then enroll in the level 1 program. You can then print the 33 page instruction sheet for the course and bring it along with your “swatch” in progress at the next guild meeting.
Besides our guild as support, Puddletown has a ravelry group to facilitate this program for our members as well as TKGA, which has an official ravelry group for the course. I am looking forward to sharing the enthusiasm of embracing this course with our Puddletown Guild members!
Thank you Celeste Percy for giving us a glimpse inside of the Black Sheep Gathering festival Sheep to Shawl Contest!
Each July in rural Oregon, Black Sheep Gathering brings together fiber enthusiasts, ranchers, farmers, and festival goers for a weekend. There are sheep and Angora goat shows, arts and yarn shows, and even fleece shows. One of the most compelling is the Sheep to Shawl contest. Celeste runs the content, and talked us through how it works.
Five spinners and one weaver in each team of the Sheep to Shawl content work together to create a 1,440 square inch (or larger) woven shawl within five hours. Spinners start with washed, unprocessed fleece which is spin for the weaver to immediately incorporate into their warped and tied loom. You can imagine the tension as the weaver waits for the freshly spun wool.
One of the rules of the finished shawl is that there may be no "white" colored yarn used. Participants use the un-dyed, natural wool spun during the contest and other yarn of their choosing that meets the fiber content requirements.
Of course, everything must only be done by hand. The only electrical equipment allowed by each team is a personal light if needed.
Participants are invited to the Black Sheep Fiber closing night potluck dinner and to model their masterpieces at the animal show.
Have you been to Black Sheep Gathering or even participated in Sheep to Shawl? Be sure to visit the festival this July 4th weekend, July 5-7 at the Linn County Expo Center in Albany, Oregon. Puddletown Knitters Guild will be there the 6th and 7th with project bag patterns to give away.
Thank you again, Celeste!
Missives from the fabulous women who got the ball (of yarn) rolling.