Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wrist warmers - a brief history

Wrist warmers

During the first half of the 19th century, known as the Empire, knitting with pearls mounted on yarn was a European fashion. The wrist warmers were meant to keep you warm during cold days. They could also be beautifully decorated and worn as part of a dress on formal occasions.
In Scandinavia, wrist warmers became a part of the Folk costume and were worn by women as well as men in different patterns. 
  You may use your wrist warmers on chilly days, such as
when driving your car or just around the house. You can also wear them under or on top of your gloves, or even when just being indoors.
Wrist Warmers may create a new look to your sweater or coat.
Friends with aching joints have found them soothing and comfortable.   They are now coming back as a fashion accessory since they allow layering and a bit of frill if you so desire.

At one time most Maine mittens were knit without ribbed cuffs, or without any attached cuff at all.  The cuff was separate (called a wrister) an stayed on even when a man had to take off his mittens to do adjustments on a bit of harness or tool.   

Wristers have also been called "pulse warmers," half mitts," half handers," and "fingerless gloves, " which pretty much sums up their function and shape.

Wristers are still used by Maine coastal fishermen.  Even fishermen who have gone over to insulated rubber gloves often still use wristers underneath to protect their wrists from chafing by the edges of their frozen oilskin jackets.

Wristers are useful under loose, cuff-less mittens for any outdoor occupation requiring occasional fine work; such as delivering mail or newspapers, working on cars, horseback riding, or as mentioned above, in an indoor environment that might be cooler than what is comfortable for your fingers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Getting a consistant gauge

Cranberry neck warmer
To make sure you're getting the gauge you expect, recheck the gauge several ties as you knit.  Checking repeatedly is especially important if your mood changes drastically during a project. 
I know I don't knit very loosely when I'm upset!

If you knit tighter than you purl, or vise versa, your gauge will be different for the parts that are knitted in rows and the parts (or projects) that are knit in the round.  You may find you need to use different sized needles for the same yarn but are used for different techniques used in projects.

Now, when you add colorwork, you may have to compensate for the gauge tightening then as well.  Again, double check your gauge if you are adding colorwork to only one portion of your project.

Sometimes it helps to take a break, walk around a bit and wash your hands.  I know when I knit in the warmer months things tend to get a bit slippery.  I also tend to stay in my chair much longer than I should.  Walking about every 1/2 hr helps you to stay focused.

And finally, try knitting your gauge swatch on different types of needles.  Some yarns, such as chenille, are easier to knit on metal needles.  Wool, on the other hand is easier to work (for me!) on wooden needles.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tips for circular knitting

I wanted to talk just a little about circular knitting today and give you a couple tips.

How to help eliminate ladders-
Sometimes a vertical line of looser stitches develops at the boundaries between double pointed needles.   In the knitting world, these are called ladders...for obvious reasons when you see them!  To help avoid ladders, when you reach the end of a double pointed needle, work 2-3 stitches from the next needle onto the working needle in each round.  Doing so will move the boundary between the needles and help prevent a column of loose stitches from forming.  Be sure to place a marker to designate the beginning of the round.   Another simple alternative is to work the first stitch or 2 tighter than you normally would.  I use this technique when knitting mittens for my shop.

Hand knit vest with circular needles

Working with circular knitting needles-

If you use circular needles with interchangeable tips, try putting the needle size needle to get gauge on the right hand tip and a needle one size smaller on the left hand tip.  You will be knitting with the proper size needle, but the stitches will move more easily from the cable onto the smaller left hand needle tip as you work around.  Of course, if you don't have interchangeable needles, the alternative is to pull the yarn a bit snugger as you come to the end of 1 needle.  This is my preferred method since I only just got some interchangeable knitting needles and I'm not quite used to them.  I normally use bamboo and have been very happy.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tips before you start your project.

I wanted to give you all a few tips before you begin your projects.  Now, none of this is profound, or earth shattering; but it might just be a reminder in this busy world. 

Knit with a yarn you really like

You'll have more fun knitting if you enjoy working with the yarn you've chosen!

Make a copy

If you make a photocopy of the instructions and circle or highlight the numbers that apply to your size and gauge before you begin you will avoid accidentally following the wrong column of instructions.  Many people have copiers included in their printers now.  A luxury we didn't used to have!

Always check dyelots

Make sure all the balls or skeins will match when worked up.  Many times handspun comes in custom, one-of-a-kind skeins, but I've chosen to also spin up a commercially dyed wool for those that need consistent colors.  You know, for those odd times you decide you want your project a bit bigger or longer.

Keep a notebook or journal

This is one aspect of organization that I often neglect.  I know I should write down gauges that I get with different yarns, but I think I'm too busy.  Take the time  to write your knitting projects down so you can easily refer back to them when it's time to knit or crochet that project or at the very least, work a gauge with that same yarn you just used.  Who knows, they may love their item enough that they want another in a second color!

Friday, June 29, 2012

In the past we have had a garden.  It was fun, but since we are traveling more I felt it was a waste.  We would have to be gone for a whole week and come back to zucchini that were mammoth size, tomatoes that were rotting on the vine and weeds that had grown like a jack in the beanstalk!  And, actually, that was if it was a good week.  In the middle of the Summer, if it didn't rain we lost whole plants.

So, this year we went to flowers.  You can't eat flowers, which may determine whether we grow them again next year, but they seem to fare well on their own.

My husband has been away for a week and wanted to see how they are doing.  They are just starting to come out, but I thought I would share some of the pictures.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I've been a knitting and spinning fanatic these last days.  I feel it is time to get things stocked up for Winter, even though the temps are supposed to be in the 90's tomorrow!

Here are a few of my latest projects.

The scarf was knit from a yarn that just wouldn't move in my shop.  I LOVED that yarn from the minute I spun it up and was quite happy to knit it up into a simple scarf.

Now I have 2 projects in the wings waiting for me to finish up...that should happen in the next 2 days I expect.  You get to see my psycho-delic orange plastic knitting needles.  They are on their last leg, so I ordered some new ones.  You'll see them the next time I photograph my  next pair of mittens. :-)

And here is my latest skein of handspun waiting for me to ply it up.