Categories
FO Spotlight

Mom is Knitworthy: FO Round Up

In honour of Mother’s Day this coming weekend I thought I would do a bit of an FO Roundup of knitted gifts that I’ve made my mom! My mom is really knitworthy and she’s one of the only people I knit gifts for.

If you follow me on Instagram then you’re familiar with her. This is Brenda!

Okay…Here’s a nice one…also an old one, clearly mom and I need to step up our selfie game!

Mother and daughter smile at the camera, wearing Winter jackets and scarves,
A picture of mom and I enjoying a walk from a few years ago

The first gift I ever made for my mom is this cute little dinosaur. I went through a whole dinosaur knitting phase, and I actually have a couple long-abandoned dino WIPS…I should pick those back up!

A purple and green knit Mesosaurus on a white blanket

Mom keeps her on the bed with her decorative pillows. Her name is Debbie the Dino. Debbie is a Mesosaurus knit from Knitted Dinosaurs by Tina Barret.

The second gift was this cowl. I made this many years later when I picked my knitting back up in 2017.

A woman smiles at the camera wearing a winter coat and a red, pink and grey striped knit cowl
Mom wearing her striped ribbed cowl at the mall in 2017

I used Caron Cakes, I think this colour is Red Velvet. It’s just a simple 5×5 rib pattern. This was right at the beginning of my Instagram career so of course, we had to do a photoshoot with this Christmas decor at the mall!

mother and daughter smile at the camera in front of a gold decorative background

I didn’t knit this hat specifically for her, or for anyone. It was just part of my Braided Cable Beanie obsession! But she took a liking to it so I gifted it to her in 2018, complete with a faux fur pom pom.

A knit striped hat in red and purple tones on a white background

Unfortunately, I don’ have any pictures of her actually wearing it!! This is also knit with Caron Cakes, but the Chunky kind.

What else is there…birthday socks!! Okay, I’ve knit way more things for her than I thought I keep remembering more as I go.

These are the Shag Carpet Shorties by Nicole Bracey. It’s one of my absolute favourite sock patterns. I’ve written a whole blog post about the Shag Carpet Shorties, it really reads more like a gushy love letter I love them so much!

Hand knit socks with an intricate cable in beige yarn
Close up of the beige version I knit my mom

When she asked for a sweater for Christmas in 2019 how could I say no?! I let her pick the style out of a few options I already had in my Ravelry library and she picked The Weekender by Andrea Mowry. But I kept the colour a complete surprise!

Read my The Weekender FO Spotlight (you haven’t already) for the project details! This is my favourite project for my mom, and I think it’s probably her favourite too. Just look at that happy face.

A white woman stands against a grey wall wearing a green knit sweater

…and I love it too. It was hard to give it up!! I’m definitely going to knit myself one.

A young white female takes a selfie in the mirror wearing a green knit sweater

Most recently I knit her a pair of Bun Bun Slippers for her birthday which was a couple weeks ago in April. Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, I haven’t been able to give them to her yet, but I know she’s looking forward to cozy feet!

A pair of red knit bunny slippers on a comforter

These slippers are really cute, I have a pair that I made myself and I’m planning to make a few more to use up some of my Thick & Quick stash.

Well, that’s it…I think…al the things I’ve made my mom. As you can see she’s very knitworthy and she appreciates and loves every piece. Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I haven’t picked out my gift…I guess it’s time to hit Ravelry!

Categories
Free Patterns Knits of Steele Designs

Free Pattern: Reusable Cotton Face Scrubby

This free knitting pattern for a reusable cotton face scrubby is a great way to reduce waste instead of using one-use cotton pads. I was inspired to design this pattern by Earth Day and out of a need I had in my own skincare routine!

I was so tired of using toilet paper, tissues and one use cotton pads to take off make-up, remove nail polish, and apply toner. Not only was it a waste to use so many one-use products, but they didn’t work very well!

A white woman's hand holds a bottle of Lush Tea Tree Water Toner against a dark wood table with a reusable knit cotton face scrubby next to it
These scrubbies are great for applying toner – this is my favourite toner from Lush!

When cotton face scrubby patterns started cropping up last year, I thought wow that is such a great idea, but something was wrong….nearly all of them were crochet!! There’s nothing wrong with crochet, but I cannot crochet more than a chain so making a round face scrubby was out of the question.

So I grabbed some cotton DK from my stash and got started! I knew I wanted to design something that was pretty enough to leave stacked on the counter and also functional. So I sat down and designed Reusable Cotton Face Scrubbies 4 Ways!

The pattern includes instructions for

  • The Classic style
  • Mitered Square
  • Striped Mitered Square
  • And Bordered style
6 reusable cotton face scrubbies laid out on a white background
Four scrubby styles are better than one!

And today I’m so happy to bring you the pattern for the Classic style free on the blog in honour of Earth Day 2020!

Each square takes so little yarn, this is a perfect stash busting project to use up leftover bits of cotton, which adds to the sustainability of the design. I used Paintbox Yarns Cotton DK for my scrubbies in the colours Dolphin Blue, Duck Egg Blue, and Vanilla Cream.

If you plan on using your scrubbies for make-up or nail polish I would recommend a darker colour so it doesn’t show the stains as much.

A blue reusable cotton face scrubby sits on a grey washcloth
FREE on the blog the Classic Style Scrubby!

Free Pattern: Classic Style Scrubby

Inspired by the classic hand knit dishcloth, this classic style make-up pad is knit corner to corner with timeless eyelet details around the border.

Abbreviations

k: knit

k2tog: knit two sts together

yo: yarn over

st(s): stitch(es)

Pattern Instructions

Cast On 4 sts

Row 1: K all sts

Row 2: K all sts

Row 3: K2, yo, k to end

Repeat Row 3 until there are 18 sts.

Row 4: K1, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k to end

Repeat Row 4 until there are 4 sts. 

Row 5: K all sts

Row 6: K all sts

Bind off all sts. 

Finishing

Weave in ends and block if desired. 

And that’s it – so easy! I bet you already want to make more. Did I mention that these make great gifts? I sent some pictures to my mom and she said she wants some, so I’m planning to make her a set for Mother’s Day.

A blue and cream reusable cotton face scrubby sit on a grey washcloth on a dark wood table
A close up look of the Bordered style. This one has two different textures on the right and wrong sides!

Don’t forget you can visit my Ravely store to purchase the downloadable pdf pattern that includes instructions for 4 Scrubby styles:

  • The Classic style
  • Mitered Square
  • Striped Mitered Square
  • And Bordered style
A reusable cotton scrubby sits on an aqua washcloth on a dark wood table
Shhhhh don’t tell the others, but the Striped Mitered Square is my favourite!

 

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!