Friday, March 30, 2012

Interview with Patti from Sweet Grass and Wolf Creek Wools...and a Giveaway!

Leanne's "Habitat" in Sweet Grass
Wools Mountain Silk 2ply

We recently added Sweet Grass and Wolf Creek Wools to the JBW family and couldn’t be more excited!
  In fact, Leanne grabbed a sample skein and immediately knit Jared Flood’s “Habitat” out of it.  You can see it on the project log here.  Patti the owner and dyer behind all of the color magic is just as nice as can be and offered to participate in a blog interview with us!  Here is what she had to say about her company:   

JBW- Would you give us a brief history of Sweet Grass and Wolf Creek Wools’ and a little info about your yarns?

Patti- I bought Sweet Grass Wool around 2004 from the woman who raises the sheep. She loves the animals and never was a knitter or a dyer, and I was carrying her yarn in the yarn shop I owned at that time, so it was easy to say yes when she offered it to me. It is the Domestic wool side of my business. Wolf Creek Wools is the side of the house that carries imported yarns and fibers.

JBW- How many staff members does your company have? 
Wolf Creek Wools 
Luscious in "Lichen"

Patti- I am the only full time person. My boyfriend is the skein and label meister when I need help.

JBW- Do you have a favorite yarn or yarns that you dye? If so, what is it?

Patti- It depends on the day and my mood, if I am calm or antsy.  It also depends on the music I am listening to when I am dyeing.  

JBW- What was the last crafty project you finished (or are working on) using your yarns?  

Patti's Mountain Silk DK
Sweater
Patti- I am making a sweater out of the Mountain Silk DK, (out of a batch of yarn that is not a standard color - I grabbed the wrong dye bottle).  I am making the pattern up as I go.  Attached is a picture of what is done so far.

JBW- As a small artisan yarn company, do you have any advice for those folks out there hand-dying with kool-aid in their sinks on how to make a living doing what they love?

Patti- If you love color, keep at it.  Make sure it stays fun - keep blending the colors to see/learn what they do.
 
JBW- And now for the speed round! Where did you grow up? 
  
Patti- Cheswick, Pennsylvania (too small to be on the map, it is outside of Pittsburgh to the east up the Allegheny River).

Sweet Grass Wools Mountain
Silk DK in "Nassau"
JBW- What time do you start working on a typical day? 

Patti- What is a typical day?

JBW- Tell us about your previous life—you know, before yarn…  

Patti- Many years with the phone company, ended my career with them as an engineer in 2003.
JBW- What is your favorite hobby?  

Patti- Knitting and spinning

JBW- A little known fact about you… 

Patti- My real hair color - even I don't know it!  

Wolf Creek Wools
Bliss in "Sapphire"
JBW- Your favorite book?   

Patti- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

JBW- What was the last movie you saw in the theater? 

Patti-  Red Tails

JBW- Biggest accomplishment? 

Patti- Beating breast cancer in 2003.

JBW- What inspires you?  

Patti- Nature 


Sweet Grass Wools Mountain
Silk 2Ply in "Raspberry"
Thanks so much again Patti for giving us the inside scoop on Sweet Grass and Wolf Creek Wools!  If you’d like to learn more, feel free to check out the Sweet Grass Wools website and Facebook Pages!   

Along this this interview, Patti was nice enough to send us a beautiful sample skein of Mountain Silk 2ply in Raspberry to give away to one of our lucky readers!  It’s 200 yards of  worsted weight wool and silk goodness!  To win this skein, please leave a comment letting us know what pattern you will use it for by 11pm Pacific time on Sunday, April 1st.  I’ll choose a winner at random on Monday morning and we will announce the winner in Jeanne’s Monday blog post! 

Good luck, and happy knitting and crocheting!

Kristen

PS. Did you know that Heart Disease is the #1 killer of Women in America?  Want to do something about it?  Find out how at www.StichRed.com.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

The front view of our
new-old little house!
It’s true! Spring is here in the High Desert, and we are racing to wrap up winter knitting and crocheting projects in order to begin planning out our warm weather activities-- which in my case means gardening! I may have mentioned this back in the fall, but my husband and I bought a house last September and went to work preparing for the impending cold months.  We didn’t have a chance to put a winter garden in our hoop house before the holidays, so we just decided to wait until spring. 


You can see the plastic hoop house
in the background and the messy
overgrown garden in the foreground.
Oh garden-I have big plans for you!
Now that spring is here, I am busy crafting a massive plan! Pinterest, my go-to place for inspiration, has been a big help in the planning process.  Even though we Nevadans experienced an exceptionally mild winter, local Native American legend doesn’t recommend planting here until after the last bit of snow is off of Peavine mountain (a local peak). So with that in mind, I am going to wait to plant at the end of May which gives me plenty of time to turn our already designated garden plot into several big raised beds!  


In the meantime, I’ll be planting greens and root veggies in our hoop house.  (We were so lucky to already have this hoop house on the property when we moved in.  Although not very pretty, it allows us to grow our own food year-round, kind of like a greenhouse but much more cost-effective.)  For more info on building hoop houses, check out "The Door Garden" Blog. 

I am aiming for our new raised beds to look something like this (thank you Pinterest!):

How to build these raised garden beds at:
http://www.simplebites.net/how-to-build-raised-garden-beds/ 

Enid!
Chicken House!


Last on the big garden plan for the year is to acquire some more chickens.  We have this beautiful little coop and run that can house up to six feathered ladies but we only have one currently residing inside (a Plymouth Rock named Enid, shown in my arms, at right).  She keeps us in eggs, about 6 per week, but we’d like to have enough to share with friends and family so 6 chickens it is!  Luckily, another family friend is going to get a whole bunch of chicks this spring, and she offered to raise them until they are large enough to integrate with our older bird.  Apparently the older ones sometimes beat up on the little guys so we have to make sure they are able to hold their own before we introduce them. 



Wallace likes Chicken eggs too!
With a little bit of hard work and strategic planning, we should have our best garden year yet!  I am so excited!  I love eating the food that I have grown and harvested myself.  It feels so good to be just a little bit self-sustaining and be able to grow all of the vegetables we need on our tiny little plot of land.




Hopefully at the end of it all, I’ll get to preserve a bunch of it for next winter!  Remember when some of us ‘lil beans made pickles last year?  The hubby and I have been enjoying those all winter—so good!



Well, happy spring everyone! Feel free to leave a comment and tell us all about your garden plans or your favorite spring activity!



And of course, happy knitting and crocheting!!!
Kristen


PS.  If you haven't heard of Pinterest yet--it's awesome!  Basically, it's an online Pinboard where you can save images and links in one place for all kinds of inspiration!  Check out the Jimmy Beans Wool Pinterest Boards and let me know if you'd like to be a contributor to our JBW Knits or LLE Knits boards!  Happy pinning!


PPS.  Stitch Red is close to our hearts...and yours too!  Find out more about our campaign to bring heart disease awareness--the #1 killer of women in the US--to the whole needle arts industry by going to www.StitchRed.com  

Friday, March 23, 2012

How to Crochet with Ruffle Yarn

Happy Friday everyone!

Today I wanted to share with you a video that you might find helpful if you have joined in on the recent ruffle yarn craze.  Most Ruffle yarns work pretty much the same way and in this video, Leanne shows you how to crochet with Rozetti Tundra.  Don't let the yarn fool you though, the same technique could be applied to Trendsetter FlamencoCha Cha and Poppy, KFI Flounce and Flounce Metallic, Katia Triana and Triana Lux, Crystal Palace Tutu, Plymouth Joy Metallic, Rozetti Spectra, Filatura di Crosa Moda and Moda Lame, Berroco Ric Rac or Lacey...the list goes on and on!  I hope this is helpful to all of you crocheters out there wanting to jump on the funky and fun ruffle train!



Hope you all have a fiber-tastic weekend and happy crocheting!

Kristen

PS.  Did you know that Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women in the US?  To find out more about our newest campaign, Stitch Red, check out the website here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Always grab your knitting...

I have been with my family since March 1st as my son Chris was in the hospital (I just came back to work on the 14th). Now I know you just gasped, but rest assured that he is healing well and all is really good now! I can't thank my JBW family enough for all they have done for me, Chris and my family! They all pulled together, covered my shifts for me and encouraged me to stay with Chris and be a Mom. So that's what I did.

Now, with that covered, let's move on to the title of the blog and why I grabbed my knitting when I got the call to come to be with Chris. I have to say it was instinctual, like I never leave home without it!

I am currently working on a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern 123, so I have had lots of stockinette to keep my hands occupied and sooth my mind. Elizabeth Zimmerman said it best when she said, "knitting through all crises" and boy, I have to agree.

I love this pattern with its options and, of course, its simplicity! I have added a bit of lace down one side to add extra interest and am working on the sleeved version. The pattern includes a cap sleeve version and if I had done that one I would be done by now, but I like sleeves. I will still be done with the sweater sooner than later and love Diane's patterns for the break it gives me from more complicated projects I tend to get myself into.  Oh yeah, the pattern also includes options for one button or multiple buttons. I am doing the one button version and since it's top down I have tried it on several times to make sure it fits like I want it to.

The yarn is Malabrigo Sock yarn in Turner. I am making the 38" size which only requires 3 hanks and I am pretty sure that I will have enough left to make something small, maybe mitts? Now, don't panic because this uses sock yarn the needles are 5 and 3 (US). Really, it's been easy to work up. Of course you know I LOVE the yarn, so I am in heaven.
My camera is a bit fuzzy, but this is the lace...

I encourage you to knit top down if you haven't. If you have, I am sure you know why I love it so much...NO seams and minimal finishing!! I have decided not to put an actual button hole, or button on mine and am going to use my collection of pins, as well as my shawl pins to close the sweater. I will be able to change this look based on my mood...what fun, right?

Now that things have settled down a bit, I have also been lucky enough to have 2 very special hanks of yarn in my possession that are now becoming the Sun Catcher Shawl, which is a KAL (knit along) hosted by the designer Iris Schreier!! She is also well known for her luxury yarns from her company Artyarns! Yipppeee!!


Iris sent me 1 hank each of her super yummy Ensemble Light and the Beaded Silk and Sequins for another project we were going to work on together, but this yarn just cried out to become this lovely shawl. So, off we went in a new direction. I just love knitters!! We will be carrying the Ensemble Light at the shop soon and it will be here in time to join the Ravelry KAL, or you can use a different Artyarns and jump on board now with no waiting!

I am going to use the Beaded Silk and Sequins in the last repeat and on the edging. I have to tell you that the Ensemble Light is one of the most amazing yarns I have worked with. It is a 50/50 blend of silk and cashmere which sit side by side. Iris says that she loves the effect that this technique creates in a finished project. I HAVE to agree! Yum, yum, yum!

The drape and feel are phenomenal and it's like knitting with well butter (if you could do that:). I want to make a shrug out of it next and will probably add some of her beaded/sequined yarn in for a bit of bling here and there too.


At any rate, never forget your knitting and as always...

Happy knitting, crocheting and sewing!

Jeanne


PS. And now to announce the winner of last Friday's giveaway for a copy of Dora Ohrenstein's: Custom Crocheted Sweaters!  Drumroll please....and the winner is (thanks to random.org) is commenter #5- Zelababy who said:

"I would really like to try the Shawl Collared Tunic. You can really see from the picture the shaping at the waist, something I've never been able to accomplish with crochet. This book sounds perfect."

Thanks so much to everyone who commented!  Zelababy, please e-mail kristen@jimmybeanswool.com to claim your book and she'll ship it to you right away!!

PPS. Did you know that Heart Disease is the number 1 killer of women? Check out Stitch Red campaign and one stitch at a time we can defeat this silent killer!





Friday, March 16, 2012

Dora Ohrenstein's "Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit"--and a Giveaway!

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Dora Ohrenstein about her stunning new book: "Custom Crochet Sweaters- Make Garments that Really Fit."  She was nice enough to write the following post and send us a copy of her new book for a giveaway!  Here is what she had to say about her book:  

Dora modeling the
"Shrug Hug" design


I'm so excited about this opportunity to talk to Jimmy Beans blog readers about my new book, Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit.  While there have been a number of excellent books on this topic for knitters, I believe this is the first one offering crocheters in-depth knowledge of how sweaters are put together, and how to alter them when necessary.

It may not be widely known that garment making with crochet has a long and fine history.  Think of the gorgeous Irish Crochet blouses and dresses of the early 20th century!  Even in American magazines of the 40s and 50s, there were plenty of crochet sweaters, dresses, coats and the like.  Only in the decades after that did crochet become more of a "home dec" craft.  Thank goodness, crochet garments are making an awesome comeback.

"Eleganza Raglan"
The lapse caused problems however.  Many skilled crocheters had not learned the knack for following garment patterns, reading schematics closely, and knowing what to do when their measurements are different from the "standard." Since I love designing and making garments best, I wanted to write this book so people could once again be empowered and comfortable with it.

"Shawl Collared
Tunic"
I devote a large section at the beginning of the book to tackling the broad issues that crocheters face:  firstly, taking good measurements of your own body.  The tape measure can be cruel, I know, but truly you can't make a sweater look good if you don't know the dimensions of the body it's going to cover.  There are key measurements at the bust, shoulder, hip, and sleeve that will help you master fit.  

The book also covers how you can measure your store-bought sweaters and learn more about such things as how much ease you like, how low and wide you like your necklines, the depth of your armhole, and other tidbits.  Once you've accumulated all these numbers, you can now examine very closely the schematics for sweaters and see if they need alteration.

"Shrug Hug"
"Floating Tee"
Lots of times people choose a size to make based on their size for store-bought items.  Keep in mind, however, that sizing is always done based on "standard sizing," yet very very few people are actually standard sized!  I find many women have a discrepancy between their bust and shoulder size: the former may be a medium or large, but the shoulders are a small.  If the shoulders on your sweater are larger than your actual shoulders, this will definitely affect the sweater's fit adversely.  The shoulder and neck is where the sweater hangs from, and good measurements here are really important.  This in turn means that altering the armhole may be one of the most important alterations to learn.  That's the area where fabric is removed from the bust to the shoulder.  I devote plenty of space in the book to this particular issue.

There are ten designs in the book, and each is quite different, though all the garments are, I like to think, classics suitable for everyday life that will remain stylish for years to come.  To help readers understand the various types of sweater constructions, I used all the major ones in the book:  Dropped Shoulder, Fitted Sleeve, Vertical (or side to side) Construction, Raglan in pieces, Top Dow Raglan, and Circular Yoke Construction.  Each of these constructions is analyzed, its advantages and disadvantages discussed, as well as potential fitting problems. 

It's funny how people sometimes think they can't wear one or the other type sweater -- but once I teach them how to make it fit, they often change their minds.  Even a very simple, rectangle sweater with no shaping can look fantastic when made to the right dimensions and with a yarn that gives plenty of drape.  

"Cream Puff"
I've gotten great feedback so far on this book, which makes me very happy, of course. Some readers have requested more hands-on attention, so I am offering online classes at my website, Crochetinsider.com, to teach the material that's in the book.  I've taught this class a few times, and you'd be amazed at the gorgeous sweaters that students are making for themselves since taking the class!  If you're interested, please check out the info here:
"Uptown Top"


I will be offering these classes again soon.

If you love crochet but haven't yet ventured into garments, I urge you to take the plunge!  If you already make sweaters but aren't always pleased with how they fit,  I truly believe you'll learn what you need to know in Custom Crocheted Sweaters.  I'm on a mission and seeking others  to join the cause. Holding hooks high, let's show the world how gorgeous crocheted garments can be!

Thank you so much Dora for your insiders look at your book!  For those of you crocheters out there looking to create your own well-fitted garments, this is the book for you!

Now for the fun part.  Dora has graciously given us a copy of her book to give away to one of our lucky readers!  To be eligible, please leave us a comment (one per person please) on this blog post telling us what design from the book you are most excited to crochet!  Cut off time for this giveaway is Sunday evening, 3/18 at 11pm (PST) and the winner will be announced in Jeanne's blog post on Monday.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a happy weekend!

Kristen

PS.  Have you heard about Stitch Red yet? Check out how you can get involved here.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Interview with Amy Small of Knit Collage yarns!

Amy with her Knit Collage
studio managers in India
Jimmy Beans Wool recently began carrying Knit Collage yarns and we couldn't be more excited! Knit Collage's spinning studio is based in Punjab, India where they sought to create job opportunities for women. Knit Collage now employs 36 women to card and spin all of their lovely and unique yarns as well as crochet tiny flowers and quality check all of the finished skeins. Knit Collage's stunning yarns are like nothing we've ever seen, and after interviewing the owner of Knit Collage, Amy Small, we now know why!  Here is what she had to say about her company, knitting, and her other passions:


JBW- Can you give us a brief history of Knit Collage yarns/products?
Amy at the spinning wheel! 

Amy- The short story is that I started out by spinning a bunch of yarns (the Gypsy Garden one!) and emailed photos of them to a few yarn stores.  One owner, the woman who runs Loop London, placed an order off the pics and then I was in business!  From there our orders grew slowly to where we are today.
Several of the ladies carding wool

JBW- How many staff members does Knit Collage have?

Amy- It's just me full time.  Susan, who works here pretty much works full time time too though.  She handles all the shipping, photography, pattern proofing and much more!  We also employ over 36 women at our spinning studio in Punjab, India.  Other than that, we really rely on free lancers to help us with everything else.

JBW- Do you have a personal favorite yarn of yours?  If so, what is it and why?
Spinning Gypsy Garden 

Amy- I think my favorite yarn for a while now has been either Woodstock in our Rolling Stone line or Sugar Magnolia in the Gypsy Garden line.  I love Woodstock because it is so hippie-ish and totally dreadlock
looking.  I love the colors and different flowers and trims in Sugar Magnolia too though.  I think it's a tie!


JBW-  As a small artisan yarn company, do you have any advice for those folks out there hand-dying with kool-aid in their sinks on how to make a living doing what they love?
Taking a lunch break!

Amy- I kept my day job until I was sure that the yarn business could support me. I think that would be my one piece of advice for someone who's trying to get started.  And to keep your overhead costs down as much as possible in the beginning- working from home is a great idea!!

Thanks so much for the insight on the business side of things--and now for some fun questions!


JBW- Do you prefer coffee or tea?

At the trim market in India
Amy- HUGE coffee drinker- I am useless in the morning without it!


JBW- Tell us about your previous life—you know, before yarn…

India
Amy- I used to design sweaters at Free People.  I loved it!  I had an amazing boss who is the one who really introduced me to India and that's how the love affair with it began!  She is still a very close friend and has been an integral part of helping me start my business. I love Holi which is one of the most fun, crazy Indian holidays!  More info about that holiday here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi


JBW- What is your favorite hobby?

Amy- I'm a little bit of an adrenaline junkie!  When I lived in Hong Kong, I started to run marathons and now I'm addicted.  I completed a 50k Northface trail race in Singapore in 2009 and my partner and I came in
first place for women.  With 93 degrees out and lots of hills, that was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done.  Whenever I'm going through something tough at work, I think, well I did that race, I can do this too!  I am training for the Boston marathon right now too. I'm on the Melanoma Foundation's team and am helping raise money for this great cause along the way.  If you're interested in helping me reach my goal, click here:
http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/amysmall/RunningforCover_Boston_2012


JBW- What is your dream job?

Trims and beads for the yarns
Amy- I think I've found it with what I'm doing now! I just need to figure out how to spend most of my time doing what I really love- the designing part- and not all the clerical admin stuff I spend most of my time on. Slowly as I gain more experience, I think I'm moving in the right direction.


JBW- A little known fact about you…

Amy- I'm a total goofball on the dancefloor!


JBW- Your favorite book?

Amy- I love to read, it's so hard to say a favorite book!  I recently read Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I loved them so much and already want to reread them.  I also recently read the Steve Job's
biography and found that super inspiring.

Pixie Dust Earflap Hat
Free Pattern on
Knit Collage Website

JBW- What was the last crafty project (knitting or other) that you created?

Amy- I took a sock knitting class earlier this fall because I'd never knit them before. Our yarns are so chunky, knitting on size 0 needles was so hard for me at first!  And I can't believe how long it's taking me to knit them but it's been a lot of fun and a good knitting challenge. Most of the things I knit are samples for our tradeshows or presents for my friends and family made from Knit Collage yarns.

Thanks so much Amy for letting us interview you about Knit Collage!  It's been so much fun to get a behind the scenes look at the company and learn a little more about the person behind it as well!  To check out Knit Collage's beautiful yarns at Jimmy Beans Wool click on the yarn type to go directly to our site: Rolling Stone, Pixie Dust, Gypsy Garden, and Stargazer.  Click here to visit the Knit Collage Website and check out some of their free patterns.  Or, check out some of the 2nd Quality skeins of Pixie Dust and Rolling Stone that we just got in at 50% off!  What a great reason to give Knit Collage's gorgeous yarns a try!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stitches West!

I know it’s been a little over a week since we returned from Stitches West, but whew it’s been busy!  I finally feel like things have calmed enough around here to catch you up on the fun time we had there.  Thanks so much to all of you who visited our Stitch Red booth at Stitches.  It was so fun to see all of your faces and meet you in person!





Our main goal for this booth was to get the word out about our Stitch Red campaign and wow, did we ever!  Our booth looked as if the color red had exploded everywhere—it was so great!  We arrived and unpacked and set up our booth in now time at all, and it went surprisingly smoothly.


 


 We were selling tons of great Stitch Red Products like the Shibui Silk Cloud, Artyarns Rhapsody Light Glitter, Lantern Moon Heart Stitch Markers, Jade Sapphire Silk Cashmere 2 ply, Classic Elite Magnolia, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted, and so much more—all in the Stitch Red colors. 





We also brought with us whole bunch of the Mini Red Dress Kits which feature Classic Elite yarns, a pin to sew on, and the pattern which is bonus pattern from our Knit Red book that is due out in June.  They are so cute and fun to make too! In fact, Diana bought one and knit it while we were there.  It was such a fast knit!




Thanks to the Stitches event planners (XRX) who graciously donated the booth to us for the Stitch Red campaign.  It was so much fun to be able to go to the event and promote something we all care about so much.





It was my first time at Stitches and I definitely came away with some awesome new yarns to play with including: Bijou Basin Ranch’s Bliss yarn (a blend of Cormo and Yak fibers), A Verb for Keeping Warm’s Floating in "Magic Bean" and Even Tinier Annapurna in "The French Monks Finest", Ranch of the Oaks’ Icelandic Lamb, some gorgeous sparkly sock yarn from the Chicken Boots booth (I think the skein was hand dyed at a shop in Humboldt, CA called "Yarn- A Sweet Shop for Yarn Addicts", and Knitted Wit’s Bulkan in "Peacock."  I am flat out in LOVE with all of these skeins and am busy plotting projects. 






I bought a copy of “What Would Madame Defarge Knit?” after one of the designers, Erica Hernandez stopped by the booth and introduced herself.  She was just the nicest person and I was so inspired by the book (which comprised of knits based on characters from classic literature) that I had to get a copy for myself!  She is working on some other collections based on similar ideas including a Shakespearean themed one.  I am so excited to see what’s next from her!










I also bought Ysolda’s newest book: Whimsical Little Knits 3 (which I believe we should be getting in the shop very soon) and got to meet her and have her sign it for me!  It was so awesome to meet one of my long time knitting idols in person.  I’ve followed her blog for years…since she first started designing, and it’s true what everyone says, she really is one of the sweetest gals around!  I even got my picture taken with her in her little photo booth.  So much fun!

We all had such a great time-- thanks so much to Jimmy for letting us be a part of this year’s Stitches West!  Hope you all have a great rest of your week and happy knitting!

Kristen




Monday, March 5, 2012

To swatch, or to not swatch...

To swatch, or to not swatch...that is the question! Well, I think Autumn, another Bean who works here, would agree that swatching is the way to go on big projects, such as sweaters and garments we want to fit us. We all seem to have an aversion to this process. I know I do! However, I am here to tell you it really is an important step!

I recently got to take a workshop with Diane Soucy of Knitting Pure and Simple fame, and boy when she stressed the importance of swatching, I listened! Before the class, she had us work up a swatch in stockinette and any stitch pattern we wanted to use...I know it's hard to believe, but I got gauge...yippee!

Autumn is test knitting this sweater for our very own customer/designer, Elizabeth Doherty aka Blue Bee Studio. Stay tuned for the published pattern, as it will be fabulous just like all of her designs. She did three different swatches using different needles, as well as washing and blocking them prior to actually measuring the stitch/row count. I think she did a brilliant job, but I won't discuss the final outcome on needle size, as that should be a surprise for the published pattern.

The bottom line is that we all knit differently and what works for you probably won't work for me and visa versa. The other thing I noticed, as I am knitting along, is that my gauge can change as I relax. I have to say it's important to check your gauge every so often to see where you are. Here is one of my favorite Jimmy articles on gauging and she talks about this very thing and how to adjust if you need to.

Autumn you are doing a GREAT job!
Another great tip (that I didn't think up) is to knit a big enough swatch and begin with the needle size called for and of course if you like the fabric and you get gauge great, BUT maybe you don't. If that happens to me, I will keep on knitting and work a couple garter ridges before I change needle size. I do this as many times as I need to and will eventually rip the swatch out, so I don't cut the yarn. IF I think I will do the project again, however, I will keep the swatch and take good notes.

The other quick tip on doing a swatch would be IF you are knitting in the round...knit your swatch in the round too! Yes, that really can change things for the piece later on!

So, I want you all to run home and do a gauge swatch! LOL! I don't usually swatch for scarves, or shawls; mostly due to the fact that I am lazy and have done enough projects that I can tell if I want to change needle size.

As always, happy swatching, knitting, crocheting and sewing!

Jeanne

PS Check out Stitch Red...we are all super excited!!


Friday, March 2, 2012

How to do a Seed Stitch AND tell the difference between your Knits and Purls!

Hi everyone and happy Friday!  I hope you've all had a fabulous week!  We've been recovering from Stitches West, but I'll post more on that next week...

I have been teaching quite a few classes lately and one question that comes up often is when you are first learning to knit, how to tell the difference between your knits and your purls.  This can be tricky at first, making it difficult to do things like a Seed Stitch pattern which I show how to do in the video.  Hopefully this helps those of you who are just starting out remember how to tell the difference between your stitches so that you don't get confused (as I did quite a bit in the beginning.)



One trick with seed stitch that I don't outline in the video is if you cast on an odd number of stitches when you begin a scarf or cowl, you won't have to ever worry about remembering what stitch you start every row with because it will always be a knit.  If you cast on an even number of stitches, you'll have to alternate starting with a knit on row 1 and a purl on row 2.  I find the odd number to be easiest for something like this.  Plus, if you are knitting a scarf, what is one extra stitch?

If you want to try an easy seed stitch scarf, try grabbing a skein or two of bulky yarn like Plymouth DeAire, Rowan Big Wool, or Debbie Bliss Paloma and using big needles like a US size 13 or 15.  Cast on 17 or 19 sts, and work every row: Knit 1, Purl 1 (repeating these until the end of the row and ending each row with a Knit 1).  Once the scarf reaches the desired length (1 skein would knit a cowl or 2 skeins for a scarf or double wrap cowl), bind off and add fringe or sew the ends together for a cowl!  Easy enough!  Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions: kristen@jimmybeanswool.com.

Happy knitting!
Kristen

PS.  Have you heard about the Stitch Red yet?  It's a great way to support Heart Disease Awareness!  Check it out here.