Categories
FO Spotlight

FO Spotlight: Flax

A special FO Spotlight today on Flax by Tin Can Knits. An older project made new! This is my new favourite sweater that is getting me through COVID-19 quarantine keeping me looking professional on video calls and cozy all day long. 

I originally knit this Flax sweater for Matt in late 2018. But after realizing a couple of weeks ago that he never ever wears it – I took it back! There are no hard feelings for him not wearing the sweater, it’s not his style and he’s particular about the way things sit on his neck and the neck is a bit high for his liking. 

A young white woman takes a selfie in a mirror, she is posed with her hand on her hip. She is wearing a blue knit Flax sweater and grey leggings
I’ve pretty much been living in this sweater for the past week

The Pattern 

Flax is part of the Tin Can Knits Simple Collection which is a collection of free patterns that are designed with beginners in mind. 

Flax was the first sweater I ever cast on (just not the first one I finished LOL). I find it really easy to follow and I didn’t use any of the video tutorials which I”m sure are amazing and would further help first-time sweater knitters. 

I really enjoyed making this sweater and I plan to knit another one as well as a Flax Light

A picture taken from above of a white woman sitting cross legged, her torso, left arm and legs are visible. She is wearing a blue knit Flax sweater and grey leggings
The garter stitch on the sleeves is one of my favourite details

I didn’t make any modifications to the pattern, however, when I knit it again intend to add short rows at the back of the neck to bring the neck up in the back so it doesn’t sit so high in the front. 

The Fit 

This is a size medium and it should fit me with 1” of negative ease, but as you can see it’s a loose fit. My gauge is too big by half a stitch per inch so that’s why it’s a bit bigger. I like the fabric I’ve achieved and I like the baggy fit. 

It fits like a favourite sweatshirt and is so comfy to wear with leggings, but also looks good dressed up with jeans. I think it would look super cute layered with a white collared shirt underneath!

A blue knit Flax sweater lies spread out on a hardwood floor
The first FO picture of the sweater on the old wood floors of our last apartment!

When I make my next Flax I’m intending to size down to the small/medium size and knit at the same gauge, I’m using the same yarn. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

One of the things that is so great about this pattern is that it looks great with both positive and negative ease!

The Yarn

I used Wool And The Gang Shiny Happy Cotton for this sweater in the colour Cloudy Blue. Matt picked out the colour for this sweater and although it’s not a colour I would normally pick for myself I really like it. 

Shiny Happy Cotton

  • 100% cotton 
  • Aran/worsted weight (it’s on the heavier side)
  • 155 yds to a 100g ball

This yarn is super cozy and soft. I know that some knitters find knitting with cotton unpleasant and that it hurts their hands, I enjoy knitting with cotton in general, but I didn’t have any of those issues with this yarn. 

I used 6 skeins to make this sweater. 

A partially finished knit Flax sweater sits on a white background next to a cactus in a square yellow pot.
I love raglan detail! (RIP to the plan in this photo….I have a brown thumb)

You can check out my Ravelry project page for Matt’s Flax to see some more photos and yardage details. 

I’m in love with this sweater, and I can’t wait to make another and see how it turns out with a bit of negative ease. And I’m really excited for my Flax Light that I’m going to knit with a slub base. I’ll be sure to share those with you when they’re finished!

Categories
Tips

Tips for Knitters During Social Distancing

Earlier this week I posted about Tips for Learning to knit for non-knitters or newbie knitters who were looking to learn a new skill during the COVID-19 self-isolation. But I recognize that the majority of my audience are people who already know how to knit. 

Well, I didn’t want anyone to be left out! So here are some tips for knitting during COVID-19 self-isolation. 

Have good posture

Good posture is a good habit to have when you’re knitting at any time, but during self-isolation, you’re likely to be knitting for longer than normal and this can take its toll on you physically. 

Here are some tips for good posture and avoiding pain while you knit

  • Sit up straight with back support. I know I’m guilty of knitting in a slumped over position with my legs crossed. But it’s better to sit in a straight posture, with your lower back supported and shoulders relaxed and not hunched or tightened upwards
  • Take frequent breaks! As much as we all love a knitting binge for hours on end it’s really not great for your body. Make sure you’re taking frequent breaks to stretch your arms and hands out. Here are some hand and wrist stretches courtesy of We Are Knitters
  • Take care of your eyes too! Make sure you have good lighting – ahem ahem a note to self as I knit in the dark watching horror movies…. And if you’re reading a pattern make sure you have it zoomed on your screen or use a magnifying glass if needed to make sure you aren’t straining your eyes to read

Support Your Local Yarn Store

Yarn stores that can still operate are doing so through online sales and curbside pick-up. With many of the larger yarn distributors placing a hold on shipping, like KnitPicks, this is a great opportunity to support a local business. 

You can also support independent yarn dyers during this time by buying yarn directly from them! I just picked up a couple beautiful skeins from Sweet Georgia and I can’t wait until they’re delivered!

Stash dive!

You might have some yarn in your stash that you’ve been waiting to use up. Now is the time!! Trust me there’s probably some real gems in your stash. 

I went deep stash diving into some scraps to use for Jessie Maed Designs My little Secret Crop KAL. This pattern is totally free during the KAL it’s kind of like a big test knit! You can find more details on Jessie’s Instagram.

A hand holds two knitting needles with a blue, white and orange knitting piece on them
I’m loving the blue and orange splashes in my Little Secret Crop

I’m having so much fun with it and I never would have thought to use the colours I’m blending together from scraps in my stash. 

Use Social Media to Connect

If you’ve been watching my Insta stories (and if not you should totally come follow me on Instagram) I’ve been doing a daily Captain’s Log update about my day. As well as posting other updates and pictures of the kitties.

Instagram has been a great tool for me during this to stay connected to my knitting friends and follow up with what everyone is doing. 

An orange tabby cat lies on a bed with paws curled up near his face
Follow me on Instagram for knitting and cute kitties!

Local knit nights are going virtual through video hang outs and knitting podcasters are doing more live video broadcasts to connect with their community. It’s so great that we have this technology to stay connected even if we can’t meet face-to-face!

Don’t get cast-on-itis

This is my final tip, and it might be the hardest one! I know that I have been suffering a serious case of cast-on-itis…I just want to cast on everything that I have queued up (and many things that I don’t have queued up).

This is definitely a good time to stash bust and knit a bunch of projects off of your Ravelry queue! But in order to really finish anything, it’s important you try and focus on just a few projects at once. 

That’s what I’m trying to do to make sure I really make the most of this time and come out with a bunch of FOs and not a bunch of UFOs.

If you don’t know FO = Finished Object and UFO= Unfinished Object

Two hands wearing blue speckled knit fingerless mitts hold a mug of coffee
Make sure you take this time to relax and enjoy some slow knitting

Those are my tips! This was an extra special bonus post on a Thursday – make sure you keep your eye out next Tuesday for my regular update. I’ll be talking about what I’m binge watching because of course while you’re doing all this knitting you need to knitflix!

Categories
Tips

Tips for Learning to Knit

Because of COVID-19, most of us have been on self-isolation at home for the past couple of weeks and we’ll be in full isolation a couple of weeks longer and likely social distancing for longer than that. During this time I’ve had a couple of people ask me for tips for learning to knit. And this is a great time to learn as it will give you something to do! 

This post will cover some tips for learning to knit, we’ll cover

  • The basic skills
  • The materials you’ll need to get started and where you can get them
  • Common mistakes and how to fix them,
  • Some recommendations for easy patterns

It’s not going to be a post that goes into the details of how to actually knit, but I am going to link to tutorials that will. 

Materials to get started

Well…you’ll need yarn and needles of course! 

Now needles come in a variety of sizes from very teeny tiny US size 1s (2.25mm in diameter to bigger US 19 (15mm in diameter). The size needle you use will determine how big your stitches are and they correspond somewhat to the bulk of your yarn. For example, you wouldn’t use a very small needle with a very bulky yarn. 

A thumb and pointer finger hold up a knitting needle to show the numbers on the side
Most needles will have the size written on the side

Like needles, yarn comes in different sizes as well, called weights. The lightest weight is fingering represented by a 1 and the heaviest is jumbo weight, which is number 7. You’ll know what weight a yarn is by reading its label.

A dark purple ball of yarn on a wood table
The yarn label will tell you the yarn’s weight and other useful information like how many yards there are in a ball and washing instructions.

For beginners I’d recommend starting with worsted weight yarn – that’s number 4 on the yarn weight range. And a US 5 or 5.5 needle. This yarn and needles are going to be not too thick, not to thin and will be easy enough for your hands to work with as you get started.

Knitting needles are commonly made of wood, metal, or plastic. For beginners, wood is the best choice as they have a bit more grip and will help keep the stitches from sliding off the end and getting dropped. 

Pick a light colour of yarn so you’ll be able to easily see the stitches. 

Where can you buy knitting needles and yarn 

For beginners, I’d recommend shopping at your local big box craft store like Michaels when you get started. They have a wide selection of yarns and will be more budget-friendly when you’re just getting started. 

You can also find a local yarn store (LYS) in your area. A LYS can be especially helpful as a beginner because most of them offer classes and knitting help if you get stuck or make a mistake you’re not sure how to fix. 

In addition to needles and yarn you’ll also need the following before starting your first project. 

  • A yarn needle (for weaving in your starting and finishing ends)
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • You might also need stitch markers
  • A crochet hook can also come in handy for picking up dropped stitches

DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

As I’m writing this during the time period of COVID-19 and you should avoid all unnecessary outings. I recommend you order materials online or find a store in your neighbourhood that is offering curbside pick up.

A hand holds two knitting needles with stitches and knit fabric hanging off them
Don’t go out during the COVID-19 pandemic if you don’t have to! Just stay home

Where to begin

It can be overwhelming to learn something new. But all you need to know right now to get started is that all knitting is basically made up of two stitches: knit and purl. You can do some neat things with them, lace and cables and there are increases and decreases. But the foundation of all of this is knit and purl.

And you’ll, of course, need to know how to get started – this is called casting on. And how to finish called binding off or casting off. Counting stitches and rows will also be something useful to learn right off the bat. 

I recommend you start by making a square or rectangle and just practice knitting and purling, casting on and binding off. You can unravel it over and over to keep practicing. 

Check out these video tutorials to learn the basics: 

Very Pink has tutorials for all the basic skills here

And you can find a video on counting stitches here also by Very Pink

Common mistake

You’re learning something new and you’re going to mess it up!! And that’s totally okay. Don’t get upset, don’t panic almost any mistake you make is fixable. 

Here are the most common knitting mistakes with resources on how to fix the ones you can and avoid the ones you can’t. 

Twisted stitches

Twisted stitches are a common mistake for new knitters. Twisted stitches cause your knitting to sit unevenly. 

This tutorial from Martha Stewart describes twisted stitches and what causes them

Dropped stitches

You are indefinitely going to drop a stitch at some point! This can cause a lot of anxiety and you may think you need to start over – but that’s not the case. Picking up a dropped stitch is actually very easy. 

Here’s a quick tutorial from The Spruce Crafts on fixing dropped stitches

Adding stitches at the sides

See #2 on this list of common knitting mistakes from Martha Stewart. This is a great resource that also covers dropped stitches, twisted stitches and tight tension. 

How to un-knit to fix an error or rip back your project

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes you’ll need to undo part of even all of your knitting to fix mistakes! 

This comprehensive tutorial covers two ways you can undo knitting to fix past mistakes. By unknitting stitch by a stitch or by ripping out all or part of your project. It also goes into how to decide which method you need to use. 

Where to go from here

Once you have the basic skills down it’s time to knit your first pattern! 

A pattern is going to provide you with the needle size and yarn weight you need. Make sure you use the specified yarn and needles. The pattern information will also tell you how much yarn you’ll need.

When knitting a pattern you’ll need to make sure you meet the gauge for the pattern, especially if it’s something like a hat where the size matters. Gauge is the size of your stitches and rows to ensure your item comes out the right size. You measure gauge by knitting a swatch and measuring your stitches. 

This post by Lion Brand Yarn will teach you about gauge

Knitting patterns are written in almost another language, there are a lot of abbreviations. The pattern will give you a “dictionary” for what all the abbreviations mean so make sure you read that before getting started!

For example this 

Row 1: K3, p to end of row

This means you will knit three stitches and then purl to the end of the row.

When you’re just getting started it can be helpful to write out the abbreviated instructions in full for yourself. 

Finding your first pattern 

Ravelry is a great place to find knitting patterns. You can set up a free account and browse through the pattern base. You can filter your search by difficulty level and the techniques involved. 

You can also buy kits from Wool and the Gang or We Are Knitters that come with everything you need. 

Tin Can Knits has this collection of easy (and free) patterns created for knitters who are just starting out!

A light blue knit sweater without sleeves sits on a white background
This is the beginnings of a Flax Sweater from the Tin Can Knits Simple Collection

You’re ready to get going with your brand new hobby!! Good luck and remember to enjoy it!

Categories
FO Spotlight Knits of Steele Designs

FO Spotlight: Twister Mitts

Today I’m shining the FO Spotlight on my most recent knit design the Twister Mitts! I love these fingerless mitts, I’ve been wearing them almost non-stop for the past few weeks. Knit with worsted weight speckled yarn and an off centre cable detail makes these an irresistible accessory.

A white woman holds her hand on her chest showing knit fingerless mitts
These mitts have been my favourite accessory for the transition from Winter to Spring.

Did I mention the seed stitch detailing!

The cable and seed stitch also pops when made with solid yarn. They would of course look absolutely gorgeous in any colour, but I’m eager to see a pink pair pop up as that is my favourite colour!

The Twister Mitts are knit in worsted weight yarn. I used this beautiful speckled yarn from KnitPicks that I had leftover from a sweater. It was a KnitPicks special reserve colourway, but you can still get the regular Swish Worsted. Which comes in so many colours!

My tester for this pattern used Lion Brand Heartland and hers are absolutely lovely as well. Any worsted weight yarn will do it.

I am in love with the off centre cable, I’ll be honest I didn’t do it on purpose! I originally planned for the cable to go straight up the middle, but the way I worked the gusset caused it to drift towards the thumb. And I have to say what a happy accident because I love how it turned out.

A white woman's hand is held outstretched palm down, the sidewalk and orange construction fence are int he background

I knew I would need a different stitch along the top of the mitts and the thumb as stockinette stitch would curl. I debated doing a 1×1 rib to match the cuff, but it just didn’t seem right. Seed stitch to the rescue, after the rib this was the first stitch I thought of as it’s one of my all time favourites.

I designed these last Fall so I would have a pair of mitts to wear when it was chilly, but that would still allow me to easily use my phone for playing Pokemon Go! It took me a while, but I did get around to writing up the pattern and built up the confidence to release it. 

A white woman's hand lays on a computer keyboard wearing a knit fingerless glove
I’ve even been wearing my Twister Mitts in the office when my hands get cold.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s a difficult time for a lot of people during this pattern release. My office is closed and we are all working from home until April 6th.

So I want to offer a special discount! Until April 6th the Twister Mitts are 30% off on Ravelry – no coupon needed! Head over to my Ravelry store to buy your copy and let’s stick together and support each other during this challenging time.

A young while woman wearing glasses leans with her hand against a tree trunk, she is wearing knit fingerless mitts.
Sometimes…photos don’t turn out exactly like you envisioned…
Categories
Free Patterns

Free Ribbed Hat Knitting Pattern

Here’s a free knitting pattern for a ribbed hat! A very easy knit hat pattern that’s great for beginners. This unisex slouchy beanie is worked in a 1×1 rib stitch and will fit most adults and some children. 

This lightweight hat is the perfect accessory for transitioning in and out of Winter, thick enough to keep your head and ears warm, but not so thick that you’ll be burning up.

The Hacked Hat

You might be wondering how this hat got its name. I mean what does a nice knit hat have to do with hacking? Well, there is a story behind it…

One of the first hats I ever made was a slouchy hat made of denim cotton yarn. But as cotton tends to do, it stretched out quite a bit after a few wears. One day I wore it to work with a black hoodie and had my headphones on at my desk, and all my coworkers told me I looked like a hacker- LOL.

A young white woman wears a stretched out knit hat pulled over half her face
My cotton denim hat is now way too stretched out to wear!

My cotton denim hat is now too stretched to comfortably wear, but I found the perfect yarn to make a slouchy hat that would stay on my head! Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird

It’s 100% merino, so soft and a great value. Did I mention easy to come by because it’s available and big box craft starts and the colours!! I used the prettiest soft grey for this hat, and I have a bright coral colour in my stash that’s waiting to be knit.

And so with an idea and the perfect yarn, the Hacked Hat was born!

A young white woman with glasses on wears a great ribbed knit hat
The Hacked Hat is the perfect slouchy beanie to wear on a bad hair day!

The Hacked Hat is a unisex beanie worked in a 1×1 rib stitch. The stretchy nature of the stitch means it will fit most adults and some children without the need to adjust the pattern. The fit of the hat can be adjusted to be more or less slouchy as desired.

Hacked Hat Pattern

Skills required:

  • Knitting in the round
  • Knit
  • Purl
  • Knit two together 
  • Purl two together

Yarn

  • 149-164yds/136-150m of worsted weight yarn. 
  • Sample used 149yds/136m of Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird in Sterling

Needles

  • US size 6 (4mm) circular needles 16” (or longer if you wish to knit with the magic loop method)
  • US size 6 (4mm) DPNs

Notions

  • Yarn Needle
  • BOR Marker
  • Scissors

Gauge

  • 32 sts and 28 rows = 4”/10cm in 1×1 rib st. unstretched

Finished Measurements

  • Folded Flat 7” x 10”/18cm x 25.5cm

Abbreviations

BOR: beginning of round

CO: cast on

k: knit

k2tog: right leaning dec; knit 2 together 

p: purl

p2tog: right leaning dec; purl 2 together 

rnd(s): round(s)

st(s): stitch; stitches 

Instructions

CO 100 sts., join to knit in the round, place BOR marker. Be careful not to twist your sts. 

Rnd 1: K1, p1 to end.

Repeat this round until hat measures 9.5” (24cm). Approx. 62 rounds, depending on your row gauge. Proceed to decreases.

If you wish your hat to be more or less slouchy then either start the decreases sooner, or repeat rnd 1 until desired length is reached. 

Decreases

Switch to DPNs

Rnd 1: K2tog, p2tog to end (50 sts.)

Rnd 2-4: Knit.

Rnd 5: K2tog to end. (25 sts.)

Rnd 6: K2tog to last st., k1 (13 sts.)

Finishing

Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Use a yarn needle to thread the tail through the remaining sts. And pull to tighten. 

Weave in all ends. 

You’re ready to rock your new hat!! And maybe become a computer whiz 😉 

A young white woman wearing glasses and a grey knit hat smiles at the camera
Put on your new hat! And don’t forget to share a photo on social media

Use #hackedhat to share your WIPs and FOs on Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me @knitsofsteele!

Click here to view my designs on Ravelry

You are allowed to sell your finished items made with the Hacked Hat pattern. You may not use my photos/images to sell your items. Please give pattern credit to Knits of Steele/Cassandra Steele on your listings. Happy knitting!