Categories
Musings

The Final Stretch: 2021 Knitting Projects

I absolutely cannot believe that there are only 4 months left in 2021! So in reaction to this I bring you a list of the knitting projects that I want to finish before the end of the year…or at least cast on.

One of my goals for 2021 was actually to knit less, if you can believe it. I did a ton of knitting in 2020 through the pandemic I was knitting basically all the time I finished 38 projects! But I didn’t enjoy all the knitting that I did, it was more compulsive than anything and it certainly wasn’t mindful. –

So for 2021 I decided that I wanted to knit much less and focus some of my free time on other hobbies like reading, playing video games and my new craft cross stitch. I set a goal of knitting just 12 projects.

I’ve completed 11 projects and with 2 on the needles that I will definitely finish this year, plus some others I plan to cast on which you’ll hear about shortly, I will exceed the 12 project goal. But that’s okay because I have enjoyed everything that I knit this year! And when I didn’t want to knit, I didn’t feel like I had to.

And now to the knitting projects and yarn, which I know is the real reason that you’re here! 😉

Current WIPs

I already wrote about these two WIPs in my July/August Round-up a couple of weeks ago so I’m going to be brief and just share some updates on these projects!

Baby Flax

I’ll definitely be down this one soon because I just cast off the body and I’m planning on doing short sleeves!

Weekender

I’m ready to separate the back and front on my Weekender. I was just waiting to finish the body on the Flax sweater so now that’s done I’ll work on my Weekender for the next few days.

Current progress on my Weekender, Baby Flax before the ribbing

Cast-ons

CL Beanie

I’ve been hunting for a project for this worsted skein of Breaking Yarn in Hazmat Suite – which is my favourite colourway of all time!

When I bought it I knew that I wanted to make a hat it just took me a while to seek out the right pattern and I’ve finally decided on the CL Beanie (Ravelry link).

This is a free pattern and I think this hat is going to be sooooo cute and of course I’m going to add a faux fur pom.

Maize (fingerless)

I’ve been wanting a simple pair of fingerless gloves, but I couldn’t find a pattern that was quite right. Then when I was looking at Tin Can Knits to download the Flax pattern I realized I could make the Maize mitts fingerless!

I definitely want to get these knit soon before the chilly autumn weather comes, and well before it’s too cold and time for real mittens. I don’t have a full skein of worsted in stash, at least not in a colour I want to use, so I’ll probably use a couple of colours together. I just need to look through what I have.

If I have enough Hazmat Suit left from my hat it would be awesome to use it as one of the colours and make a matching set.

Coffee Talk

These socks are going to be my 2021 Christmas Eve cast on so it’s going to be a while until I get them cast on. And I definitely won’t finish them this year.

I’ll be using my Christmas Day advent box from Woolberry Fiber Co which is from way back in 2019! And trust me the skein was pristine when I received it, but it’s a little raggedy now from being in my stash LOL

Part of the reason that I haven’t used this yarn yet is that I have been waiting for the perfect green minis to do heels and toes. These minis were part of a set I got from Nikki Slipp.

I’ll probably also cast on a new sweater soon after finishing my Weekender, but I have a few sweater quantities in my stash to choose from and I haven’t fully decided yet which one is next!

Categories
Tips

How to Knit Stranded Colourwork

Have you wanted to try knitting colourwork, but think it’s too hard or you don’t have the right skills? Then this post is for you! Here are my tips for beginner knitters to get started with knitting colourwork patterns and let me assure you – you absolutely can do it!

There are so many beautiful colourwork knitting patterns out there, everything from sweaters to hats to socks! Starting a colourwork knitting pattern for the first time can be intimidating. But I assure you, knitting stranded colourwork is not as hard as it looks and if you can knit the basic knitting stitches you can knit stranded colourwork. 

These tips will help beginner level knitters mast the basics of stranded colourwork. 

Tips for Stranded Colourwork: Gauge and Swatching

What is gauge?

If you’re not familiar with the term gauge and what it means, here’s a quick rundown. 

Gauge is how many stitches and rows of knitting fit within certain measurements, usually measured over 4”.  The pattern for your colourwork project should include the gauge and the stitch pattern to measure your gauge over.

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.

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 colourwork project 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 project will come out too big as well as it takes you less stitches than the designer to knit 4”. 

Measuring gauge when knitting stranded colourwork

To measure your gauge you will need to knit a swatch using the yarn you are going to use. 

A swatch is a square of fabric knit in the stitch you need to measure your gauge. Most colorwork knitting patterns will tell you to swatch using the colourwork part of the pattern, the pattern may also include the gauge for other stitches that are used in the design.  

For your swatch, 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. 

Make sure you block your swatch so you have an accurate measurement of gauge. 

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.

How stranded colourwork can affect gauge

Just like regular knitting, your colourwork can be tighter or looser, and because you are knitting a different technique you may find your colourwork is tighter or looser than your regular knitting. It’s really common for knitters to knit more tightly when knitting colourwork. 

If you are new to knitting stranded colourwork you should swatch over the colourwork portion of the knitting pattern, even if the pattern hasn’t said to, as you’re not used to what your gauge is over stranded colourwork.

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. 

Tips for Stranded Colourwork Knitting: Reading Colourwork Knitting Patterns

Colourwork knitting patterns can have written or charted instructions. Most colourwork knitting patterns will be charted and may or may not have written instructions. 

Here’s an example with a quick colourwork pattern I’ve just made up on the spot. We will be discussing colourwork knit in the round from now on, as stranded colourwork is most commonly knit in the round. 

Written instructions will give the pattern instructions for the colourwork pattern like this (normally the written instructions would use abbreviation, but I have written them in full so it’s easy to understand):

Round 1: * Knit 7 stitches with colour A, knit 1 stitch with colour B, repeat from * to beginning of round

Round 2: * knit 1 stitch with colour A, knit 5 stitches with colour B, repeat from * to beginning of round

Round 3 & 4: * knit 1 stitch with colour A, knit 1 stitch with colour B, knit 3 stitches with colour A, knit 1 stitch with colour B, knit 1 stitch with colour B, knit 1 stitch with colour A, repeat from * to beginning of round

Round 5: * knit 1 stitch with colour A, knit 5 stitches with colour B, repeat from * to beginning of round

Round 6: * Knit 7 stitches with colour A, knit 1 stitch with colour B, repeat from * to beginning of round

The chart for these same instructions looks like this:

As you can probably tell it’s a lot quicker to read – and to create – the chart. it also makes it easier to avoid mistakes! This is why most stranded colourwork knitting patterns provide charted instructions only. 

How to read a colourwork knitting pattern chart?

The first thing you should note when looking at the colourwork chart is the legend which will tell you which colour is which. The pattern will note how the different colours are labeled, some common ones are:

MC for Main colour and CC for contrast colour 

CA, CB, CC for Colour A, B, C etc.

C1, C2, C3 Colour 1, 2, 3 etc.

The example I’m going to show is just two colours, but stranded colourwork patterns can have 2 or more colours. 

In this legend the colours are marked Colour A and Colour B

You need to keep in mind which colours you are using for each, so you may be using black for Colour A and red for Colour B so where the chart is purple you will use black and where it is pink you will use red. 

The chart is read from the bottom right, it’s the opposite of how you’d read something normally, but it is also the direction in which you knit from right to left and starting at the bottom of a piece. 

The numbers along the bottom label the stitches and the numbers on the side are the rows/rounds. It is also common for charts to show more than one repeat, in this pattern a repeat is 8 stitches, but three repeats are shown to give a better idea of the pattern.

So you will start with round 1 but knitting 7 stitches in colour A, then 1 stitch in colour B and repeat that all the way around. 

Then you’ll move up to round 2 and knit 1 stitch in colour B, 5 stitches in colour A, 1 stitch in B, 1 stitch in A and repeat those 8 stitches all the way around. 

Then you’ll move up to round 3 and continue until you have knit the whole chart. 

Stranded Colourwork Knitting: What are floats? 

So now you know how to read the chart, but how do you actually knit with two colours? It’s a lot simpler than it seems. You will be creating strands, called floats, along the back of your knitting.

Floats are the strands of yarn that will be on the inside of your project. You create a float when you knit the next stitch in a different colour and bring that yarn strand across a section of stitches. 

Using stitches 2 to 6 in round 3 of our sample chart here’s an example: 

Stitch 2 is knit in colour B followed but three stitches in colour A. When we switch back to knit the 6th stitch in colour B a float is created behind the 3 stitches knit in colour A.

Catching floats

If you have to bring your yarn across a lot of stitches it is common to use a technique called catching, or trapping floats. This makes it so you can avoid having such a long loose float. This helps with the overall tension so a long float doesn’t pull too tight or be left too loose. 

You won’t need to catch your floats every time, only when you have a lot of stitches to cross. It’s recommended to catch floats when the float is going across 7 or more stitches, or longer than an inch. 

So in rounds 1 and 6 of our example, you’d probably want to catch your floats. You’ll catch your floats by trapping the non-working yarn behind your working yarn when you knit a stitch. 

Using round 6 as an example:

Knit 3 stitches with colour A (the working yarn). Then before working the fourth stitch, take the non-working yarn (colour B) and put it over the working yarn before knitting your next stitch. 

Now when you knit the next stitch with colour A the non-working yarn (colour B) is trapped by your working yarn, creating a shorter float. 

Managing the tension of your floats

When knitting stranded colourwork it’s important to manage the tension of your floats. If your floats are too tight then your knitting will be pulled in by the floats and pucker, it won’t lie flat. If your floats are too loose your stitches will be loose as well and won’t lie evenly in your knitting. 

To avoid tight floats stretch out your stitches along the right hand needle when you are creating your float so the float is going across the stitches at their full width and not bunched up. 

In the picture above I’m stretching out the three stitches in colour A so that when I knit the next stitch with colour B the float is not too tight. 

To avoid loose floats make sure the float is lying taunt, but not tight, against the back of your work and the stitches on either end are even and not loose. 

How to hold your yarn when knitting stranded colourwork

How you hold your yarn to knit colourwork will depend if you’re an english or continental style knitter. I knit english style and I will hold my yarn in one of two ways depending on how I’m feeling that day (LOL) and depending on how often I have to switch colours. 

One hand

If I don’t have to switch colours too often, I will just drop the working yarn and pick up the next colour with my right hand and keep going. So this means I just keep knitting normally in english style pausing every now and then to drop the working yarn and pick up the next colour. I only use my right hand to hold the working yarn. 

Two hands

If I have to switch colours frequently I will hold a strand of yarn in each hand and knit a combination of english and continental style. 

How you hold the yarn will depend on what you’re comfortable with! Experiment with different techniques as you learn. You can also use tools like a Norwegian knitting thimble to help manage your yarn strands. 

Don’t cross the streams!

Except for when you are catching floats, avoid crossing your yarns strands if you can as it will cause them to tangle and it will eventually be difficult for you to pull from your yarn. 

To avoid crossing the strands always take your second colour from underneath the first so you’re not crossing it over the yarn coming from the ball (except of course when catching floats and you want to cross the non-working yarn over the working yarn). 

There you have it! Those are the basics of knitting stranded colourwork, not so bad right? Now you’re ready to go out and tackle your first stranded colourwork knitting pattern. If you need a suggestion I’ve recently released a beginner friendly colourwork hat pattern called Brigand – you can find it on Ravelry! It’s worsted weight and is has instructions for three sizes: baby/toddler, child, and adult. 

Categories
Knits of Steele Designs

Brigand Pattern Release: New Hat Knitting Pattern

Hello everyone! Today is a very exciting day because I’ve just released a new knitting pattern! I teased this knit colourwork hat back in my January 2021 round up post and it is finally out.

This cute colourwork knit hat uses two colours of worsted weight yarn and comes in three sizes, baby/toddler, child and adult. I think it would look great on anyone and there are so many fun colour combinations that you can experiment with.

The colourwork is simple and engaging, the colourwork portions are charted in the knitting pattern. This pattern is great for beginner level knitters who are looking for a first stranded colourwork pattern and learning how to read charts.

I’ll be putting out a blog post next week with some tips for getting started with stranded colourwork for anyone who wants to try, but feels a bit hesitant about the skills involved.

Spoiler for that post: it is easier than it looks and you can totally do it!!!

I went out with my dad for a cute photo shoot in the park before all the snow melts and we got some great photos! He even modeled Brigand for me.

You can find the Brigand hat knitting pattern in my Ravelry store and if you purchase before end of day on Februay 28th (eastern time) you can save 30% with the code BRIGANDRELEASE2021.

Categories
Knitflix and Chill

What’s on my Valentine’s Day Knitflix List

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.

Dirty Dancing

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!

Categories
Free Patterns

Scrappy Colourblock Hat

Hi everyone, I’m here today with a free knitting pattern for a super bulky weight hat. This scrappy colourblock hat is a great pattern for all of your leftover bits of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick or other super bulky weight leftovers.

This is also an easy level free knitting pattern and it is a beginner friendly hat pattern. This is a really great free knitting pattern for your first hat if you are just learning to knit.

You only need to know how to knit and purl, knit two together and slip slip knit, and knit in the round. I know that seems like a lot if you’re just getting started and learning to knit, but it’s easy I promise!

If you’re learning to knit and don’t know how to do those things you can pick them up really easily! Here are some helpful tutorials:

Knitting in the round

1×1 ribbing

Knit two together

This free hat pattern also makes for a great last minute gift because it works up super quickly and it only requires a bit of each colour so you can make it with bits of leftover yarn from your stash.

I wanted to call this hat the Oh Sh!t last minute gift hat! If you’re anything like me you leave your Christmas gift knitting until last minute. I do this every year and whip up some last minutes hats, mittens or ear warmers using super bulky yarn. These projects come together so fast and make great handmade Christmas gifts.

So this year I started to tally up who still needed a gift. We are not doing any Christmas gatherings this year, but we do have some family dropping by to do a socially distanced gift exchange. I wanted to knit up a couple quick handmade gifts, but when I looked in my yarn stash…there was not a full skein of super bulky in sight!

This year with the lockdown it’s hard to just run out to the craft store and grab some super bulky yarn, and even if you can run to a store yarn has been in short supply. And this hat works up SO QUICK I knit the adult, child, and baby size all in one day.

I always have a TON of leftover bits of super bulky weight yarn like Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick. But never enough for a full hat, a half skein of one colour, a quarter of another, bits and bobs leftover from hats and mittens.

This hat is knit in the round from the brim up. 16” circular needles are used until the decrease rounds when it is necessary to switch to DPNs or magic loop to maintain tension.

This knit hat comes in three sizes: baby/toddler, child, and adult. This knitting pattern is written for the smallest size with the numbers for the larger sizes in brackets. 

Required skills: knitting in the round, knit, purl, knit two together, slip slip knit

Yarn

  • Super bulky – Sample used Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick
  • Colour A: 9 (11, 12) yds
  • Colour B: 9 (11, 12) yds
  • Colour C: 9 (11, 12) yds
  • Colour D: 9 (11, 12) yds
  • Total: 36-48 yds

Needles

  • US 13 (9 mm) 16” Circular needles and DPNs or size to obtain gauge

Notions

  • Yarn needle for weaving in ends
  • BOR marker
  • 3 stitch markers (different from BOR)

Gauge

  • 10 sts and 14 rows = 4” by 4” in stockinette stitch

Sizing

  • Baby/Toddler (Child, Adult)
  • Fits head circumference 17-18” (19-20”, 21-23”)

Abbreviations

BOR: beginning of round

CO: cast on

dpn(s): double-pointed needles

k: knit

k2tog:  knit 2 together

p: purl

pm: place marker

Rnd(s): Round(s)

ssk: slip slip knit; slip next 2 stitches one at a time as if to knit, return to left needle and knit 2 together through back loops

sm: slip marker

st(s): stitch; stitches

Pattern Instructions

With Colour A CO 36 (40, 44)  sts.

Join to work in the round and place BOR marker

Brim

Work 3 (4, 4) rnds of 1×1 ribbing (k1, p1 around)

Knit 1 (1, 2) rnds

Hat Body

Switch to Colour B

Knit 4 (5, 6) rnds 

Switch to Colour C

Knit 4 (5, 6) rnds 

Decreases

Switch to Colour D

Set up row: *K9 (10, 11), pm, repeat from * to end of rnd

Rnd 1: *Ssk, k to 2 sts. before next marker, k2tog, repeat from * to end of rnd

Rnd 2: knit to end of rnd

Repeat rnds 1 and 2 until 12 (8, 12) sts. remain, switching to DPNs when circumference becomes too small for 16” circular needles.

Finishing

Cut yarn leaving at least an 8 inch tail, using a yarn needle weave yarn tail through remaining sts. and pull tight. Weave in ends.

Make sure you share your projects on social media and don’t forget to tag me!

I really hope you enjoy this free hat knitting pattern for the scrappy colourblock hat! You can see my other knitting patterns in my Ravelry store and follow me on Instagram to keep up with all of my knitting adventures.