Hello knitters! Love is in the air and Valentine’s day is approaching. I know that it is super corny, but I really enjoy this holiday because I love pink! AND I like cheesy romance movies, particularly of the ’90s variety.
So this week while I’m sitting on the couch with my knitting here are the movies on my Valentine’s Day knitflix list.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
This movie is on the top of my list because I haven’t seen it! I didn’t jump on the bandwagon when this movie was trending, so now here it is on my list and little bit late for all the hype.
A classic! I saw Dirty Dancing for the first time on TV one weekend when I was a teenager and have loved it ever since. This movie is a must-watch for me every year.
P.S. I Love You
Get the tissues!! This is a great movie, but boy oh boy what a tear jerker. I just love the story, it’s different from your typical romance film, and the soundtrack is excellent.
Romeo + Juliet
You can’t get more classic than Shakespeare right? I have been wanting to watch this movie again and Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion.
To be clear I’m talking about the 1996 one with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. But the more traditional one from the ’60s is good too!
10 Things I Hate About You
If you want a ’90s teen romantic comedy movie than look no further! This is another of my favourite movies, but I’m not sure I’ll be giving it a watch this week because I just watched it a couple weeks ago…
Fun fact: this story is based on Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew. The first time I watched this movie was for English class in school. So I guess two points for Shakespeare on this knitflix list!
If you need a knitting project to get you in the Valentine’s Day spirit, check out my For the Love of Stripes knit hat design on Ravelry. This free hat knitting pattern is inspired by Valentine’s Day!
That post ended up being so much longer than I originally planned, but I really hope that anyone who wants to knit their first sweater will find it useful.
January 2021 works in progress
I’m still working away on my For Fox Sake. I knit the sleeves this month, sometimes I like to do my sleeves first! I’m so ready to take on the rest of the body. Mindless stockinette is my go-to for knitting while reading and I have been doing a lot of that lately!
I’ve also been making progress on this baby blanket, I was trying to work on it for 30 minutes a day this month. I’ve been slacking recently, but I just need to do two more pattern repeats.
In February I’m setting a goal to knit a row a day and hopefully I’ll be finished by the end of the month.
January Finished Objects
I was so close to not having any Fos this month, but I finished my vampire vibes socks on January 31! I started these on Halloween and this has been my other go-to project lately for knitting and reading.
There were new cast ons in January!
Unless you count….
New design sneak peek
I have been working on a colourwork hat design for the past couple months! This is the Brigand hat. It uses worsted weight yarn and has a cozy double brim.
There are instructions for three sizes baby/toddler, child, and adult. By the time this is posted hopefully this pattern will be in testing. Keep an eye out for this pattern release sometime in February!!
I did some shopping this month!!! I don’t want to go too wild with buying yarn this year, however, I want to buy more yarn this year, specifically buying form indie dyers and local yarn stores.
I picked up a skein of worsted and a sock set (showing significant restraint might I add because sooo many beautiful colours). As soon as I saw this yellow I knew I had to have it. It’s going to be a hat, I’m thinking something with cables.
This is Valeris and it’s one of the mystery colourways from January. As you can see it’s beautiful, I will definitely be ordering more yarn from Dragon Hoard Yarn in the future (like maybe I already have some in a cart lol).
Shirley Brian Yarns
When I saw this this adorable knitasaurus bag from Shirley Brian Yarns I could not resist! I love a good dinosaur pun and while I was there I had to buy some yarn. This is Aperol Spritz on the slub base. I have been planning a faded sweater using slub yarn and this just fit right into my colour scheme I had to have it.
Reads of Steele
I have been reading a ton lately. At the end of December I read the whole A Court of Thorns and Roses series and it really brought back my love of reading. Here are all the books I’ve read this month (cheating a bit to include some I read at the end of December).
A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Wings and Ruing, A Court of Frost and Starlight. I’m just linking the first one and you can find the rest from there 🙂 (if you’re going to read these stay off the internet haha sooo many spoilers, but it was still good even with spoilers)
A couple issues of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the comic Season 8
This is more books than I’ve read in the last two years! I used to love reading as a kid I devoured books, but lately reading didn’t hold much interest for me, which made me sad. I’m so happy to have my love of books back!
What’s my secret to knitting and reading? Ebooks! I read ebooks on my tablet propped up on a stand so it’s hands free, I just need to lift a hand every now and then to flip the page.
I was getting so bored and running out of things to watch, but I’ve re-discovered an old favourite and started some new shows with Matt.
Gilmore Girls – I started a re-watch of the series and it’s so nice to remember how much I love it. The early seasons are so fun! I’m halfway through season 3 now.
My Hero Academia – Matt and I were in need of a new show so he put this on the other night, he’s seen it before, and I was surprised by how much I got into it.
Marvel movies – we’ve been watching a lot of Marvel and other superhero movies lately. It’s a phase!
Wandavision – and of course with all the Marvel we’ve been watching we had to start this new Disney+ original
Hello! It is the beginning of a new year and maybe you set some goals for the year ahead like knitting your first sweater! As much of the world is in a lockdown thanks to COVID-19 this is a perfect time to learn how to knit and knit your first sweater.
Knitting a sweater for the first time was my new year’s resolution for 2018. I had intended to knit Flax by TinCanKnits as my first sweater, in fact I even finished the body, but my gauge was way off (we’ll talk about how to avoid this later on) so it was way too big – I rippled it out and made the Harvest cardigan with the yarn instead, but that’s a story for another day…
My first complete sweater ended up being the Julia sweater which I got as a kit from Wool and the Gang. It’s made out of their Billie Jean yarn which is upcycled denim. I absolutely love this yarn…too bad I’m not the biggest fan of the sweater.
From my experience above you may think you’re also going to hate your first knit sweater. But that’s not true! And the tips for knitting your first sweater that I’m going to give you below will help you avoid my mistakes!
Choosing the right size for your first knit sweater
Most knitting patterns use bust size as the main measurement for determining which size you should make. Choose the size that matches, or is the closest, to the measurement of your full bust. The widest part of your chest.
What is positive or negative ease?
In many sweater knitting patterns you will see the terms positive or negative ease. Ease is the difference between your measurements and the final measurements of the garment. So this will make the garment looser or tighter fitting.
Positive ease refers to a garment that is looser fitting around your body and allows for movement. A good example of a sweater with positive ease is Andrea Mowry’s Weekender, which has 10” of positive ease.
Here’s a picture of me wearing the Weekender I knit for my mom. I have a 38” bust measurement and the finished measurement of this sweater is 48” giving me the full 10” of ease.
Negative ease is a garment that is tighter and will fit snuggly to your body as the measurement of the finished knit sweater is smaller than your actual measurements.
Here’s me in the My Little Secret Crop with a negative ease of 5”. As you can see it is tight fitting.
Most patterns will indicate if the knit sweater has positive or negative ease built into the final measurements, or if you should choose a size that is a certain number of inches smaller or larger than your bust measurement.
For example, wording similar to this means you do not need to choose a larger size to get the intended ease, the ease is written into the pattern already: This sweater is intended to be worn with 5 inches of positive ease, this is included in the design, please choose the size that correlates best to your bust size.
In this case, if you have a 42” bust you will knit the size that is closest to 42”.
While wording like this means you need to pick a size that will give you the intended ease: This sweater is intended to be worn with 5” of positive ease, to achieve the intended ease choose a size that is 5” larger than your actual bust size.
In this case, if you have a 42” bust you will knit the size that is closest to 42” plus the 5” of ease, so the size with a bust closest to 47”.
Gauge and swatching
Gauge is how many stitches and rows of knitting fit within certain measurements, usually measured over 4”. The pattern for your first knit sweater should include the gauge and the stitch pattern to measure your gauge in (if it doesn’t include this info do not knit this sweater, especially as your first knit sweater! This information is critical!)
Gauge can change depending on many factors, some yarn doesn’t puff up, or bloom, as much as others, certain fibers can knit up tighter or looser. And naturally knitters can have a tighter or a looser gauge as well.
How does gauge affect fit?
Gauge is incredibly important for sweater knitting because it’s how you ensure your finished garment will fit!
If your gauge is tighter than the designer’s gauge, that means that your stitches are smaller, so it takes you more stitches to knit 4”. If you try to knit the sweater at that gauge with the designers instructions, it will come out way too small!!
The opposite is true if your gauge is too big, your knit sweater will come out too big as well as it takes you less stitches than the designer to knit 4”. This is what happened to me when I knit my first Flax sweater that I had to rip out. My sweater came out several sizes too big because my gauge was off.
My gauge was only off by a couple stitches, but this shows just how important it is! Just a couple stitches off produced a garment that was a completely different size than intended, so you need to make sure you’re meeting the pattern’s gauge.
How to measure gauge
To measure your gauge you will need to knit a swatch using the yarn you are going to use to knit your sweater. Here’s a photo of a swatch I recently knit for a sweater, it has a purl line in the middle because I swatched with two different needle sizes so that border divides the different gauges.
A swatch is a square of fabric knit in the stitch you need to measure your gauge in, if you need to measure gauge for stockinette stitch then you will knit your swatch in stockinette. You should cast on more stitches than you need for 4” and knit more rows than needed so your square is larger than 4” by 4” as you’ll want to measure in the middle, not near the edges where your stitches can be tighter or looser.
You should knit your swatch in the method that you will knit your sweater. If your sweater is knit in the round you should knit your swatch in the round, if it’s knit flat you should knit your swatch flat.
Block your swatch
Blocking is when you wet your knitting and then lay it out flat to dry in the shape you want it to be in. Being wet, and then drying, can cause the yarn to stretch out more, so that’s why it’s important to block your swatch. Seeing as you’re going to wash your sweater at some point it’s going to get wet, and when it does that can change the size of the stitches.
So it’s important to know what your gauge is after your knitting has been blocked.
To block your swatch leave it soaking in warm water for about ten minutes, squeeze out as much water as you can (don’t wring) and lay it out flat, tug gently to shape it, but don’t pull too hard and stretch it out unnaturally.
Measure your gauge from the swatch
Once your swatch is blocked and dry it’s time to measure your gauge. I always start with rows personally!
Lay your measuring tape down at the top of a stitch and count the number of stitches that fit in 4”. That’s how many rows you knit to reach 4” in length.
Then lay your measure tape across your swatch starting from the left side of a stitch and count the number of stitches across to 4”. That’s how many stitches it takes to reach 4” across.
What if your gauge is wrong?
Firstly, if your gauge is wrong take a deep breath!! There is nothing wrong with you, or with the designer for that matter. Everyone knits differently and there are a handful of designers out there who knit tighter or looser than me, when I knit one of their patterns I just know that I won’t get gauge with the needles they recommend! And that’s OKAY.
What to do if your gauge is too small
If you are getting more stitches or rows in 4” than the pattern states than your stitches are tighter. To remedy this go up a needle size (or two if you’re really small) and swatch again to get looser, bigger stitches.
What to do if your gauge is too big
If you are getting less stitches or rows in 4” than the patterns states than your stitches are looser. To remedy this go down a needle size (or two if you’re really loose) and swatch again to get tighter, smaller stitches.
What to do when the stitch gauge matches, but the rows are off (or vice versa)
You may find that you are able to meet the stitch gauge but not the row gauge, and then when you swap needle sizes the row gauge matches, but now you’ve lost the stitch gauge. When this happens, prioritize meeting the stitch gauge.
As stitch gauge is what determines the width of the garment it is what’s most important for fit. The length can almost always be altered easily by knitting more or less rows and most patterns give the length directions in measurements rather than the number of rows. So it will say something like “knit until sweater body is 15” from the cast on edge” so you won’t even need to worry about knitting a set amount of rows.
All this swatching can be really annoying. I won’t lie to you it’s my least favourite part about sweater knitting, and every time I debate not swatching. But it is so so so important for knitting sweaters and other garments.
Top-down vs. Bottom-up
If you are knitting your first sweater with a design that is knit in the round then you will be either knitting from the top-down, meaning you start with the collar and work down to the bottom edge. Or the button-up meaning you start from the bottom edge and work your way up to the collar.
Flax by Tin Can Knits is knit from the top-down and is a raglan style sweater.
The weekender is knit from the bottom up with a drop shoulder for the sleeves.
Both a perfectly fine options for your first sweater, but many knitters prefer top-down for sweater knitting as you can try the sweater on as you go to test the fit and see the length.
Knit in the round vs. flat
You can knit a sweater in the round using circular needles, Flax is knit in the round so it has no seams along the sides; it’s all one piece.
Or you can knit a sweater flat in pieces and then seam the pieces together. The Julia sweater that I made is knit flat and seamed, as is this super bulky cozy sweater.
Skills to know
Basic stitches for knitting your first sweater
To knit your first sweater you’ll need to know how to knit and purl. These are the two foundational knit stitches needed for any project.
In addition to knitting and purling you may need to know techniques like cables and lace knitting depending on the sweater pattern you choose. The simplest stitch for your first sweater is going to be one that is knit primarily in stockinette stitch.
Increases/decreases for sweater knitting
If your sweater is knit in the round from the top down then you will need to increase to make the body wider from the neck out over the shoulders. If the sweater is knit in the round from the bottom up then you will need to decrease to shape the neckline.
And regardless if the sweater is top down or bottom up you will likely need to decrease as you knit the sleeves so that the sleeve tapers from your upper arm to your wrist to fit your arm correctly.
Common increases and decreases
There are a few common increase/decrease methods that are used in knit sweater patterns. Increases create new stitches to increase the overall stitch count, making the sweater wider. While decreases take stitches out to decrease the overall stitch count, making the sweater narrower.
When I was knitting my first sweater I found online tutorials really helpful so I have linked a few below!
Make 1 left/Make 1 right
This increase involves picking up the strand between two stitches and making a new stitch. There are two variations, one is left leaning and one is right leaning. This sounds complicated, especially if you’re a beginner knitting. But it is pretty straightforward!
The hardest part for me is remembering the steps for each one. Here is how I remember
Make 1 right: R for rear and for regular. Pick up from the rear (the back) and knit the stitch regular (through the front).
I don’t have a trick for make 1 left, just that it’s the opposite no r, so pick up from the front and knit through the back.
Knit front and back
This increase is essentially creating two stitches out of one! Once you knit a stitch as normal sticking your needle through the front, you’ll put your needle back into the same stitch, through the back loop and knit it again.
Just like the knit two together, slip-slip-knit makes one stitch from two. Instead of just knitting two stitches together though, you slip the next two stitches onto your right hand needle and then knitting them through the back loop.
The difference between the ssk and the k2tog is the way that the decreased stitch leans. A knit front and back leans right, while an ssk leans left. The way the decrease leans affects the shape of the garment so most knit sweater patterns will use both!
For example when decreasing on the sleeves you will knit front and back for your first decrease and slip-slip-knit for the second one. This causes the decreases to lean into each other giving the sleeve a nice shape.
In this photo the left leaning knit two together is boxed in red and the right leaning ssk is in yellow.
Seaming your first sweater
If you’re knitting a sweater flat in pieces you will need to seam all of those pieces together at the end to make a sweater. Most knitters prefer to knit in the round over seaming as seaming can be…well annoying and time consuming. I personally find it a little fiddly!
But there are advantages to seaming, it gives a knit sweater more structure than a sweater that is knit in the round with no seams.
When I knit my Julia sweater it was the first time I had seamed and it came out really wonky!
The mistake that I made was pulling too tight. When you are seaming make sure your seam isn’t too tight or too loose.
Hello friends, today on the Knits of Steele knitting blog I want to tell you a bit more about my latest knitting design the Cass Cowl. This knitting pattern is squishy, it’s cozy, it has a big braided cable and twisted rib. This knit cowl design has everything I love and that’s why I named it after me!
This chunky knit cowl came to be way way back, I’m not even sure when. I think it was some time in 2019. I knew when I designed it that I eventually wanted to release the knitting pattern, but I lost my confidence a bit and even though I wrote the pattern up I never put it through testing or had it released.
But I set a goal in 2020 that I’m continuing this year to design more knitting patterns and release more of the knitting patterns that I already have written and ready to go. So starting of 2021’s schedule of releases here (finally) is the Cass Cowl knitting pattern!
I named this pattern after myself as a joke at first. It was a placeholder name until I could think of something better, but it just stuck and so it has remained the Cass Cowl. It feels like the right name for this knit design.
And the reason that it is a fitting name for this knitting pattern is that this knit cowl has so many of the design features that I love. Starting of with twisted rib. I’m not sure why I love twisted rib so much, but I do! It just adds a little something extra to a hat brim or sock cuff, or in this case the edges of a knit cowl, over traditional ribbing.
I designed this cowl knitting pattern when I was going through a cable phase. The big braided cable is offset to the side and starts right from the beginning of the cowl and goes right to end integrated into the twisted rib. For obvious reasons, this giant braided cable is my favourite part of this knit design.
And it’s all knit out of super cozy and squishy super bulky yarn!
I used Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick for this cowl, it takes just over 2 balls to complete. I used the colour Spice Market for this pattern, I’m in love with the rose gold, pink and yellow tones in this yarn! Unfortuantely, I think this colourway has been discontinued 😦
But no need to worry because this cowl looks great in any colour! It suits variegated and solid yarns just fine.
This knit cowl is honestly so squishy and cozy. It’s one of the warmest knit accessories I own and I always pull it out on super cold days. It’s large enough to come up and cover half of your face to ensure warmth, but also that you can still see! But it’s not so bulky that it’s uncomfortable and you can easily push it down to sit under or around your chin.
It keeps the wind out when it’s tucked into the collar of your coat and when paired with a hat it keeps your head and neck totally warm and covered from wind and snow.
As most knitters can tell you, it’s really easy to get carried away with projects, to get side tracked with new yarn and new cast ons. It’s possible to do a lot of knitting and feel like you accomplished nothing! So for 2020 I set some knitting goals to keep me on track.
At the beginning of 2020, I wrote out my knitting goals for the year. It was actually one of my first posts on this knitting blog! Of course when I wrote this blog I had no idea the turn that 2020 would take… But despite being thrown for a loop by a global pandemic and seemingly endless months of lockdown – I made some good progress on my knitting goals!
Knitting goal 1: Colours
The colours that I wanted to knit with this year were one of my goals. This was because in 2019 I felt like a lot of my projects were really dark neutrals – there was A LOT of navy blue in 2019.
I wanted to use more bright colours because I really love bright pinks and teals and greens, but have never really brought them into my wardrobe.
I think I did pretty well with this goal. Here are some of my colourful projects from 2020.
This was my Christmas Eve Cast on in 2019, but I didn’t finish it until mid-February. I absolutely love the colours I used a mini set from Holy Press Fibres for the contrast colours. The main colour is Mushroom on Artfil Belle which is a fingering sock yarn, and one of my favourites. I love the contrast of the bright colours and this gorgeous tonal great.
This pattern was on my Ravelry queue for ages, I had a really hard time choosing colours. I knew I wanted to use Magician as the main colour, and I bought that yarn first while I made up my mind about the second colour.
I actually used a colour wheel to pick this contrast colour. I highly recommend using a colour wheel if you’re like me and bad at coming up with combinations. I think I almost used a creamy white instead of this peach!!
I used a Hawthorne fade set from Knit Picks for this sweater and it took me a few tries to figure out the colours and the pace of the fade. I’m not 100% happy with the fit of this sweater, it’s too tight and too big in all the wrong places, and I ran out of yarn so the sleeves are an awkward length. But I love the colours!
And I used this light neutral colour for my Simone Pullover, which is totally out of my comfort zone and I loved how it turned out!
These last two sweaters are my biggest fails towards goal number 3…stashbusting…two new sweater quantities definitely weren’t in the plans for 2020…OH WELL!
I have my Coziest Memories blanket to use up my fingering weight scraps. But one of my goals for 2020 was to knit some scrappy knitting projects that weren’t for fingering weight.
My success towards this goal has been so-so…
I knit the My Little Secret Crop by Jessie Maed Designs at the beginning of lockdown in March, actually I knit two of them. This was a really good project for scraps, but as I used fingering weight held together it didn’t quite meet my requirement of scrappy knitting projects that weren’t fingering weight.
For my second My Little Secret Crop I used Nomadic Yarns self striping yarn held with some speckled Hawthorne fingering and it Love the way it turned out. This was a serious game of yarn chicken, by the end I had just a bit of the striping yarn left over.
I knit the Falling For You cowl by Leslie Alcock. It’s worsted weight and you just need a bit of each colour. It’s designed to be 4 colour blocks and that’s how I knit it, but for my next one I want to do smaller stripes of many colours and that will be perfect for using up worsted weight scraps.
This year, I sought out to solve my own problem when it came to having lots of super bulky scraps. I didn’t have enough of one colour to knit a whole hat so I designed this scrappy knit hat just a few days ago.
I have so many bits of super bulky yarn so I will definitely be making more of these knit hats in all sorts of colour combinations! You can find the free knitting pattern here.
Knitting goal 3: Stash busting
I had some great success with this goal. I knit 37 projects in 2020 and nearly all of them were using up yarn I already had in stash including several sweater quantities.
I have quite a bit of this fuzzy yarn leftover so I need to come up with something to make, I’m thinking a cozy cowl would be perfect!
And here’s how I failed:
Given I knit so many projects with yarn I had in my stash, I’m not sure I’d call it a failure, but I certainly bought more yarn this year than I wanted to…well than I planned to, because I certainly wanted to buy all of this yarn (and more)!
Outside of the yarn for my Simone Pullover and my City Limits, most of my new yarn came from the Great Toronto Yarn Hop – you can read about my haul from that event here.
Sweater quantity for the For Fox Sake sweater. Although in my defense…this was a pattern from my Ravely queue, so it’s a de-stash of my queue LOL.
And some sock yarn! The bubblegum pink is going to be a pair of Shag Carpet Shorites, I’ll hold the yarn double. I don’t have plans for the self striping skein yet…definitely socks though!
there’s some of the other pretty yarn I didn’t get to this year…somehow in all the knitting I did there is actually yarn I didn’t use! It’s almost unbelievable. However, I saw a moth the other day so most of it is packed up safe in vacuum bags and not fit to be photographed!
Knitting goal 4: Designing
The final goal I set was to design, and actually release, more of my knitting patterns. I have a tendency to design something and then lose the nerve to actually put it out into the world.
In 2020 I released six knitting patterns, many of them are free knitting patterns on this blog!
One of these six patterns is the Twister Mitts
I’m pretty proud of my progress this year, but I did design two pairs of socks that never saw the light of day so I still have some work to do in this area.