Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Time to bust that stash

The yarn cupboard door is groaning again so it is time to tackle the stash.

Step one is a good old stash toss. This is when you take it all out in one go – be proud of that yarn – spread it out and reorganise it.

Even if you have lists, sometimes looking at your stash can really make a difference. You will find a number of things happen:

  • You will find the perfect yarn for a project (or several) you have been planning to make. If this is the case, put that yarn in a project bag with the pattern ready to start.
  •  Two lots of almost identical yarn, possibly acquired for the same project.
  • You will uncover a skein or two of truly beautiful yarn that you put in a safe place until the perfect pattern came along and then forgot about. Take a little time to find that perfect pattern right now.
  •  You will fall in love with some yarn all over again. Place it in an accessible place in your stash, so you keep it in mind
  • There will be some yarn that you are mystified as to why you ever acquired it. Don’t just put this back in the cupboard, put it aside to sell, swap or donate – someone else will appreciate it more than you.
  • There will also be a project that only needs the neckband doing – finish it to free up the needles and project bag.
  • There will be plenty of orphan balls, small amounts of yarn and leftover oddments. Sort these by yarn weight, fibre type, etc so you can see what you have got and put aside for our next blog.

As you put your yarn away again why not start an “in” list that you add to every time you acquire yarn and an “out” list to record what you use. This doesn’t stop you buying more yarn but just helps you see what’s available when you spot a new project.

Do give us your stash organising tips.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Six reasons to knit or crochet for charity

We have been thinking about knitting and crocheting for others recently and one great way to do this is to make something for charity.

There are several good reasons to take on a charity project:

  1.  Doing something practical – knitters and crocheters have skills that can be used for a good cause which can be more satisfying that dropping some coins in a box. And what you make could be loved by someone who really needs it.
  2.  Standing in the street shaking a collecting tin can be difficult for some of us. So another option is making something for the charity to sell to raise money. Plus there are two beneficiaries – the charity and whoever buys your lovely knitted object.
  3. Charity projects are often small or you can contribute to something bigger like a blanket or bunting. These small items are fantastic stashbusting projects.
  4. You can team up with friends, a knitting group or even online contacts to do a charity knitting project and have a lot of fun doing it.
  5. So many of us are addicted  to knitting but from time to time we have to recognise there is an upper limit to the amount of knitwear you can fit in your wardrobe and that friends and family can wear. So charity knitting gives us another outlet.
  6. There is a special sense of value. The  object you  create may be loved by someone who will really value a warm garment or a comforting blanket. Or they may benefit from a  charity that has raised money through our stitches.

Here are a few recent charity projects we’ve spotted.

The Big Knit for Age UK raises money for a range of projects for older people by asking people to create little woolly hats for Innocent smoothie bottles. For every bottle with a hat sold, 25p goes to the charity. This is a great project for knitters of all abilities – even a novice can make a simple mini beanie.

If you are more inclined towards making a full-sized hat or other warming items, charities such as The 
Mission to Seafarers or St Mungo’s accept useful pieces like like hats, gloves or scarves. If you have a found a pattern for these that you enjoyed why not create an extra version for charity. St Mungo’s also run an annual woolly hat day fundraising event.

If the idea of knitting or crocheting a whole blanket for charity seems a bit daunting, 
Blankets for the Homeless has the answer. It accepts knitted or crocheted squares, as well as complete blankets, through local hubs which then organise people to sew them up to make a blanket. Then, they go back to "Blanket Central" where they are edged and distributed to the homeless.

If you would rather craft for charity in a group, why not organise a Knitter Natter event to raise money for 
Arthritis Research UK. You could organise a knitting tea party where people donate to join in and make items to raffle or sell to raise more money while you are at it. Find out more here.
If you have a charity knitting project you'd like to recommend, let us know on our Facebook page.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Tension squares - The key to successful knitting projects

Have you ever had the experience of knitting something to the correct size in the pattern to discover you have created a miniature sweater or a cardie that doubles as a tent?
It comes down to not having checked your tension – or made a tension square.
Knitting to the correct tension is essential if your piece is going to come out the same size as the pattern. All the numbers in the pattern for rows, stitches, decreases etc have been worked out using a specific tension – if your tension doesn’t match then neither will the measurements. And if you substitute a yarn, it is even more essential because you can’t assume it will behave exactly the same as the yarn in the pattern.
DK squares (26sts x 34 rows) knitted on 4.5mm, 4mm and 3.5mm needles
Getting the right tension
The three squares pictures were knitted with the same self striping yarn and lightly steamed before measuring. Measure your square in several places using a tape measure or a gauge such as our lovely Elephant Needle and Hook Sizer, as shown here, and average the number of stitches you count in 10cm in each measurement. Repeat this to work out the number of rows.

The 4.5mm needles gave a tension of 19 sts x 25 rows, 4mm was 21 sts x 28 row and 3.5mm, 23 sts x 30 rows for a 10cm square.
This means that 105 sts would give you 50cm using the 4mm needles but 45.5cm on 3.5mm and 55cm on 4.5mm – (stitch number divided by stitch tension) x 10 = width.
So if the tension for the pattern was 21 sts for 10cm on 4mm needles but your tension came out as 20sts because you are a slightly looser knitter you could end up with a garment several centimetres too big. The same is true for differences in row tension
If your tension is looser, knit a new tension square using a needle one or two sizes smaller.
If you have too many stitches and rows to 10cm try going up a needles size.
Sometimes you need to try a couple of needle sizes to get find the right tension but the hassle of knitting some extra tension squares is nothing compared to ending up with a useless garment.

In most cases if you can only get one of row and stitch tension correct, it is better to choose the needles that give you the right stitch tension and the closest row tension. This is because patterns often ask you to work to a certain length which will allow you to compensate for having a slightly different number of rows to 10cm.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Last minute Christmas Ornaments

There is still a couple of weeks to go before Christmas.  While there might not be quite enough time to knit gifts, we’re sure you could still makes some Christmas ornaments for the big day and we have found some lovely patterns around the internet for knitters and crocheters.

You can never have too many Christmas stocking and these mini bootees by Yarn Stories are such fun to hang on your tree or decorate gifts.  They are even big enough to fit in a couple of little chocolates.

Or, if you are a crocheter you could try this pattern by Tanya Eberhardt.

How about these lovely trees to decorate your home? You could have great fun mixing up the colours of choosing shades to go with your Christmas theme. They have been designed by StudioNyske and you can download them here.

If you want to revamp your Christmas baubles then Susan M Allen has some lovely ideas for you.  you could use any yarn to contrast with your tree theme.

There's no reason not to add a little bit of crochet to your Christmas table with this Holiday Napkin Ring by Oombawka Design.

And finally here is a delicious looking Christmas pudding by Amanda Berry to top your tree.

Wherever you are and whoever you are with, everyone at KnitPro would like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.