Useful Tools for CrossCrafting

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  1. Water-soluble Fabric Pen – great for marking pick up positions on fabric when knitting or crocheting onto commercial fabric.
  2. Tiny Metal Crochet Hooks – Great for puncturing fabric to pick up stitches for knitting or crochet. These ones from Clover have a super comfortable handle.
  3. Blocking Supplies – Always wash and block your swatches! I use stainless steel welding rods for my blocking wires, but for swatches or small edges, these are great.
  4. Hera Marker – in a pinch I’ve used the edge of a book or a spool of thread laid on the flat edge, but nothing beats a hera marker for pressing small seams. Also great for marking a pickup position temporarily on a woven fabric. There’s also a slim version here, and a version with a point turner here.
  5. Iron and a pressboard – You probably already have an iron, and you can make a pressboard yourself.
  6. Skip Cut Blade for the rotary cutter – This works really well with knit or fleece fabrics (flannel too!) to cut a line of notches that can be used for picking up stitches or crocheting onto an edge. Not recommended for use on woven fabrics. I have the one linked there, but this company makes a variety of blades for specific fabric types. Very handy.
  7. Ruler – while any old ruler will do the job, I really like Creative Grids quilting rulers for a lot of purposes. They have a grippy side (which is so handy!) and they’re clear, which means you can really see where your marks are landing in the grand scheme of the fabric. I particularly love this 3″x7″ one for working with swatches.

Symbiont Cowl

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Version 2

This gracefully shaped cowl is inspired by the micro-photography of the tiny organism called Licmophora flabellata. A rare symbiotic diatom (a single-celled algae), the delicate fan-shaped structures show beautiful patterning when you look at them through a microscope. Combined with the buttons, the unique shape enables this cowl to be worn in a variety of ways-as a shawlette, as a tubular cowl, and styled like a handkerchief.

symbiont3

Yarn: 185 yards (170m) of worsted weight yarn. Shown in SpaceCadet Capella (100% Superwash Merino Wool, 195 yds (178m)/100 g), in ‘Pasadena’.

Gauge: 18 sts & 24 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) square in stockinette after blocking.

Needles: 5mm (US 8) straight or circular needles for flat knitting.

Notions: Four 1 3/8 inch (35mm) buttons, 4 backing buttons (see note), needle and matching thread, tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

Finished Size: 7 inches (18cm) wide at cast-on edge, 17 inches (43 cm) wide at fan-edge, and 25 inches (63.5cm) long.

Techniques Used: knit and purl, k2tog, p2tog, ssk, k1tbl, p1tbl, slipped stitches with yarn in front and back, yarnovers, quadruple yarnovers (with instructions) to make a buttonhole, pkok and INC pkok (instructions included), backing buttons, 2-row buttonhole (with instructions), knit/purl long-tail cast on (video tutorial here: https://youtu.be/L7MKMlzVNzM) in pattern.

Pattern is both written and charted.

symbiont2

This cowl is knit flat in one piece, from the narrow end to the wider, fan-shaped edge. Periodic increases shape the piece. Yarnover buttonholes are worked along both edges during the final chart, and two-row buttonholes are worked near the final edge.

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Cloudlift Shawl

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Cloudlift1

Inspired by a detail from the well-respected Arts & Crafts design house of Greene & Greene, this shawl features stacks of shaped garter-stitch ‘cloud lifts’, accented by a succession of reverse stockinette welts that move with the shaped fabric. The perfect use for a mini-skein set, these accent welts provide a canvas for playing with color and texture.

 

Cloudlift5

Yarn: Lux Adorna Knits Sport Soft Spun (100% Cashmere) in the following quantities: 2 skeins [230 yds (210m)/50 grams] in MC [shown in Jackalope], and one mini-skein set [45 yards (41m) each] in C1-C8 [shown in Bohemian].

Gauge: 20 sts and 40 rows per 4 inches (10cm) square in garter stitch.

Needles: 3.75mm (US 5) 32-inch (80-cm) circular needle or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: Six pin-style markers, tapestry needle to weave in ends.

Finished Size: 65.5 inches (166.5cm) wide at widest point, and 14 inches (35.5cm) tall. See schematic for more details.

Techniques Used: knit and purl, sl1 k2tog psso, k2tog, m3 (with instructions), slipping stitches with yarn in front and back, use of hanging markers.

Pattern is written out with a schematic for finished measurements. Not charted.

Cloudlift7

 

Markers should be hung from the stitch created by the double decrease (sl1 k2tog psso), and moved up to the stitch created by the double decrease on the next RS row.

I used a long-tail cast-on for the first cast-on (see tips for this here: http://www.miriamfelton.com/tips-for-long-cast-ons/) and a cable cast-on for all following welts. You can find a tutorial for the Cable Cast-on here: https://youtu.be/fxckFm02_HA.

Feel free to choose your own progression of the contrast colors. I suggest you tie or tape a snipped piece of each one to the edge of the pattern. You could try going in rainbow order, or maybe a progression of monotone hues from dark to light. I went with a progression from cool to warm that ends with the color of sunshine.

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Lanata Socks

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Lanata1

With strong lines from twisted stitches and textured columns, these beautiful socks feature a cabled clock at the ankle and an innovative short row heel that fits higher insteps easily.

Lanata2

Yarn: 310[350, 390] yards of heavy fingering weight sock yarn. Sample in Dragonfly Fibers Dragon Sock (100% Superwash Merino, 390 yds/4 oz). Shown in “Hidcote Gardens”.

Gauge: 16 sts & 24 rounds = 2 inches (5cm) square in Stockinette in larger needle.

Needles: 2.5mm (US1.5) needle(s) or size needed to obtain gauge. Use your preferred method for small circumference knitting: e.g. double points, magic loop or two-circulars.

Notions: 2 stitch markers (4 if working two socks at a time), tapestry needle to weave in ends, cable needle.

Finished Size: S [M, L] to fit 78, 9 inch (17.75 [20.25, 22.75] cm) foot circumferences. Negative ease is built in to the pattern.

Techniques Used: knit, purl, m1L, m1R, k1tbl, k2tog, ssk, use of markers, small cables including c1 over 1 left/right, c1 over 1 left/right with a purl background, and c1 over 2 left/right.

Charts for each size are given, but translations of the charts are also given.

Lanata4

These socks are knit in the round from the cuff down to the heel. A few stitches are increased at the base of the cuff, then the Shadow Wrap short row heel is worked with right- and wrong-side rows. Two stitches are picked up at the join between heel and instep to ensure a gap-free ankle, and then work is rejoined in the round and the gusset is decreased (also decreasing out the extra stitches needed for the cabled cuff. The foot is worked even until it measures approximately 1.75 [2, 2.25] inches 4.5 [5, 5.75]cm short of total foot length and then the toe is decreased. Live stitches are then grafted together to close the toe using kitchener stitch.

 

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What do Difficulty Ratings in patterns really mean?

Something has been bugging me for years in the fiber arts world.

 

When submitting a pattern to a print or online magazine, or even when submitting classes, I’m often required to give a pattern or class a difficulty rating. But how helpful are these ratings, really? What constitutes a “beginner” pattern? I think we can all agree that a knit and purl stitch, casting on and binding off, and knowing how to increase and decrease are beginner concepts. You can’t really make anything other than a scarf without knowing how to increase and decrease. But what about a m1. What about (k1, yo, k1) into the same stitch? It’s AN increase, but it seems to be more in the realm of intermediate. The distinctions between these rankings (even when you use a non-standard system and give it a breakdown like knitty does) are still pretty subjective.

 

In psychological fields, there’s a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It basically boils down to people not knowing how much they don’t know. A beginning knitter who feels confident with a few increases and decreases probably doesn’t even realize things like tubular cast-ons, short rows, entrelac, and brioche EXIST to know that they don’t know them. So a beginning knitter might even be able to knit a sweater and count themselves an expert.

 

But a more accomplished knitter with more experience of what is possible might count themselves as Intermediate since they haven’t tackled a steeked, stranded, handspun opus yet.

 

Granted, this is not an in-depth exploration of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. That’s not what this is about. But when considering the under-defined difficulty ratings in this light it makes them much less useful. In an attempt to let you make your own decisions I’ve been including Techniques Used in my pattern descriptions.

screenshot-2017-01-03-13-41-172

My hope was that this will allow makers to assess their own skills and comfort levels. If you are looking for an easy going project and not a challenge, and you know how to do all the things in the techniques used section, you should be good. And if you know how to do most of those things, and you’d like to learn a new skill, then you still might go for it.

 

I’m wondering if this is really enough though. Maybe I need a highlighted area that includes techniques used as well as links to tutorials. What do you think? What information is most relevant to you in regard to difficulty ranking?

M

Liliom Mitts

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liliommitts1

These simple stockinette mitts, accented with reverse stockinette welts, feature an Eastern Thumb style that appears to grow out of the wrist. Subtle arm shaping makes for a great fit, and the DK weight yarn makes it a quick knit.

liliommitts2

Yarn: 170[190, 210] yards (156 [174, 193]m) of DK weight yarn. Shown in Anzula Cricket (80% superwash merino wool/10% cashmere/10% nylon, approx 250 yds (228m)/115 g) in ‘Iris’.

Gauge: 24 stitches & 34 rounds per 4 inches (10cm) square in stockinette after blocking.

Needles: 3.5mm (US 4) needle(s), or size needed to obtain gauge, in your preferred method for small circumference knitting (dpns, two circulars, or magic loop).

Notions: 3 stitch markers (6 if working both mitts at the same time), holders or waste yarn for thumb stitches, tapestry needle to weave in ends.

Finished Size: To fit 6[7, 8] inch (15.25[17.75, 20.25]cm) hand circumference measured around palm above thumb. Negative ease is built in to the pattern.

Techniques Used: knit, purl, k2tog, ssk, m1L & m1R, use of markers.

 

 

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Keeping it Real

screenshot-2016-11-03-11-44-02So hi, I wasn’t ready to talk about it until now, and I’m not really even sure if I’m ready now, but it’s time.

Early this summer I spent 6 weeks going through a regimented withdrawal for a drug I was on for my Fibromyalgia. It worked for a while, then it stopped, so I decided the symptoms weren’t really worth taking it anymore (btw, there’s just been a settlement of a class action suit for withdrawal issues from this drug. It was horrible. They totally deserve the money). It was miserable, but I did it right. Slowly, and with much slack granted to myself. My medical team is amazing and very helpful.

It was done and I was coming back to an equilibrium, just waiting to feel better. Waiting and waiting and waiting. And then I realized that I was crying nearly every day, had no creative drive, and was just FUCKING SAD. Turns out the Cymbalta was treating the depression that frequently comes with Fibromyalgia without me realizing that it was. It’s really hard when your body is full of pain to know whether your pain is causing depression or your depression is causing pain. They feed on each other.

I tried to find a therapist, but we were changing health care providers, so I had to wait. The putting-it-out-there and being rejected trying to find someone made things worse. It’s like applying for jobs. It’s a lot of energy put in with very little return. I had to farm it out to my husband. He stepped up for me and made me an appointment. I love this man.

So I’m in therapy, and I got an urgent appointment with my GP to get on a medication. In the intervening months I had tried all the coping mechanisms I knew to deal with my depression, but I just couldn’t push through it this time. I needed some chemical help for my brain. Things are much better now. Still not 100%. I haven’t gotten back to full-on creative knitting work. But my brain is back to THINKING about it, which is a great relief.

I’m not making any grand sweeping statements about depression, drugs, or anything really. But I think talking about it is really important to end the stigma of mental health issues. We have them. It sucks. It impacts our lives in dramatic ways. It impacts our families.

All during this time I’ve been trying to decide how to pivot this creative work I do. The market has changed. I can’t make a living selling patterns anymore. I need something else. But I still need it to feed me creatively and physically. Maybe I need more teaching, maybe I need to finally start the podcast I’ve been talking about for a year, maybe I need to publish another book. Meanwhile my lack of focus has been channeled into The Construction Papers, and I’m really enjoying how it ties back in to my past Years of Making. Also, I like sending people mail.

M

 

p.s. If you’ve waded through this and would like something a little more uplifting for your day, check out the new episode of Stash Local, where Kim Werker talks about making and giving yourself permission to change your narrative (the story you tell yourself) of who you are.

 

Abbreviations for Construction Papers Patterns

Crochet: 

ch: chain

sc: single crochet – insert hook into stitch, yo, pull through a new loop, yo, pull through 2 loops.

dec: single crochet decrease – insert hook into first stitch, yo, pull through a new loop, insert hook into second stitch, yo, pull through a new loop, pull through 2 loops. (1 stitch decreased)

inc: single crochet increase – work 2 single crochets in the same stitch. (1 stitch increased)

st(s): stitch(es)

sl st: slip stitch – insert hook into stitch, yo, pull up a new loop, pull through 1 loop.

hdc: half double crochet – yo, insert hook into stitch, yo, pull up a new loop, yo, pull through 3 loops.

dc: double crochet – yo, insert hook into stitch, yo, pull up a new loop, yo, pull through 2 loops, yo, pull through last 2 loops.

dc inc: double crochet increase – work 2 double crochets in the same stitch (1 stitch increased)

dc dec: double crochet decrease – yo, insert hook into first stitch, yo, pull up a new loop, yo, pull through 2 loops; yo, insert hook into second stitch, yo, pull up a new loop, yo, pull through remaining 4 loops.

rem: remain(ing)

turning chain: a turning chain can be any number of stitches tall, but will count as one of those stitches. For instance, a dc turning chain is 3 chains tall, and should be counted as a dc. On following rows a stitch is usually worked into the top of the turning chain just like a regular stitch.

 

Knitting:

Passel Shawl

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passelshawl1

Starting with just a few stitches, this asymmetrical triangular shawl grows in size until the full textured panel is revealed, then builds an easy to work mesh lace alongside the panel until the full length is reached. Slipped stitch edges along the garter border give a clean and neat finish to this breezy piece.

passelshawl3

Yarn: 435 yards total of Fingering Weight yarn. Shown in Phydeaux Aegypte (50% Alpaca/25% Linen/25% Silk), 435 yds per 100g) in Linen.

Gauge: 20 sts & 30 rows = 4 inches (10cm) in mesh stitch after blocking.

Needles: 4mm (US6) straight or circular needle for flat knitting or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: tapestry needle for weaving in ends, stitch marker.

Finished Size: 58 inches (147.25 cm) across wingspan, 46 inches (116.75 cm) along panel side, 33 inches (83.75 cm) along bind off edge.

Techniques Used: knit, purl, slipped stitches, k2tog, ssk, yarnovers, double yarnovers knit front & back, m1, m3, sl1 k2tog psso, knit through the back loop.

passelshawl2

The bind off used is a knitted lace bind off, which you can view a tutorial for here: https://youtu.be/1o7g1H-V7Ts  Bind off: k2, slip left hand needle into front of both stitches, k2tog through the back loop, k1; repeat from to end.

The row gauge of the side panel is much shorter than the surrounding mesh, if you are winging the length, measure along the mesh side. That side will be the wingspan of the shawl.

 

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Scintilla Hat & Mitts Set

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scintilla1

Speckled, almost pixelated colorwork blends the coordinating colors of a miniskein set into this slouchy hat and matching mitts. With ribbing to ensure a good fit, this set is as much fun to knit as it is to wear.

scintilla3

Yarn: One Lorna’s Laces String Quintet Miniskein set, shown in Violin. 535 yds of Shepherd Sock in 5 colors.

Gauge: 34 sts & 40 rounds = 4 inches (10cm) square in colorwork pattern on larger needles.

Needles: 2.5mm (US1.5) for ribbing, 2.75mm (US2) for the rest, or size needed to obtain gauge. Use your preferred method for small circumference knitting: e.g. double points, magic loop or two-circulars.

Notions: 7 repeat markers, plus a different marker for the beginning of the round, tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

Finished Size: Hat – To fit 19 inch (48.25cm) head. Hat is 11 inches (28cm) long from ribbing to crown. Mitts – 6.5 inches (16.5cm) around to fit hands up to 8 inches (20.25cm) circumference, and are 8 inches (20.25cm) long.

Techniques Used: knit, purl, k2tog, yarnovers, knit front & back, m1, stranded colorwork, reading colorwork charts.

scintilla2

Each String Quintet set contains different colors. Arrange your colors however you’d like, but consider contrast between colors when you do. If you have two similar colors, you might wish to keep them apart.

Check out my tips for colorwork here: http://www.miriamfelton.com/tips-for-colorwork/

Because this set has both colorwork and single-color sections, be sure to spread out your stitches on the needle and keep floats loose enough so that colorwork will block to the same gauge as the single-color sections.

Both Hat and Mitts use an alternating knit/purl long-tail cast on. A tutorial is available here: https://youtu.be/L7MKMlzVNzM The video demonstrates (k2, p2) rib – make sure for this project you cast on in (k1, p1).

The newest color should be kept dominant (see colorwork tips above).

For the hat I let floats go a max of 7 sts without catching, but for the mitts (where fingers could catch in a 7 st float) I caught them every 4 or 5 sts.

If you swatch for this set, I would recommend blocking your swatch with the yarns unbroken. That way you can unravel your swatch to use in the pieces. Yardage may be tight.

 

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