Wednesday, 16 January 2019

New year resolutions for crafters

As well or instead of making new year resolutions about exercise or diet, many knitters and crocheters use this time of year to set out an ambition or target for their yarnie activities.
Usually these fall into three categories – learning something new, organising yarn or patterns, or setting out a big ambition.

Learning something new
This can be to try out at least one new stitch pattern each month or to master sock knitting. In some way adding  to our crafty repertoire. 

Our followers made some great suggestions on social media
Claire Boyd: "I'd like to learn to do brioche knitting. Been knitting for 30 years and forever learning new techniques."
Lisa Scott: "I would like to learn to read charts."
Nicky Jackson: "I am going to learn to knit with double pointed needles and how to crochet a ripple blanket."

Lots of people decide to go “cold sheep” in January. This is a resolution not to buy any yarn and only use their existing stash for the whole year.
We reckon this is pretty tough, so how about trying to use mainly stash but allowing yourself to supplement it when necessary so you can actually use stash yarn in patterns you really want to make.
The other big organising resolution is to not cast on anything until all projects are finished. If you are a serial caster-on this can be a tough challenge, so we have a suggestion here as well. If you have five or more live works in progress, you could resolve to only start something new when you have completed (including sewing up or blocking) two projects. That way over time you will reduce the number of live projects but not be stranded with only large projects when you actually need a handbag sized project for when you are on the move.

You could use this time of year to set out a big project – a major charity knitting plan or designing your own sweater for example. Follower Marjolein Kooiman has a plan to design a Tunisian crochetalong in 2019.
Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to achieve your ambition rather than cram it into the first couple of months.

For all these types of yarnie resolution, remember that they are not iron-clad rules – if you don’t manage everything you set out to do even though you tried, that is fine too.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Knitwear trends for this winter

If you are planning some on trend knitting projects for this winter you would do well to keep the three Bs in mind – big, bold, bright.
A browse of the catwalk pictures and the fashion blogs will show you that designers have been favouring large or multiple cables on sweaters, bright colour combinations and colour block designs influenced by sportswear. Others are combining what are being described as “grandad knits” such as fair isle slipovers and of oversized cardigans with glamorous fabrics such as velvet or silk.

Vlad cabled sweater by Spencer Vladamir; Oversized cardigan in space dyed yarn by Missoni; Ader sportswear inspiredstripes and colour combinations; Erdem sweater combined with eveningwear

We’ve been looking around for some patterns to get us started with our fashion knitting.

Ramblin Woman by Caitlin Hunter really fits with the “grandad” knits trends and would look fabulous with a pair of Katherine Hepburn trousers or over a velvet skirt. 

Sylvi by Mari Muinonen is something of a knitting pattern classic but its time has come again showing how to make a statement with cables. 

For a great example of colour blocking check out JeannieChin’s Patchwork Pullover which also use a variety of textured stitches. If these strong colours are too much for you, try shades of the same colour.

If you fancy the idea of an oversized scarf, take a look at rectangular wrap patterns in aran or chunky to give you plenty of volume. The Snowfall onthe Bowery Wrap by Alexandra Tavel is ideal and you could crochet extra rows in the plain sections if you want more length,  

Whatever you decide to knit or crochet this winter, we hope you enjoy it. And don't forget to share pictures on our social media with the tag #knitprosinaction.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Colour crochet trends

We have noticed that lots of people are experimenting with interesting colour crochet techniques at the moment and have spotted a couple we want to try. 

Mosaic crochet
Mosaic crochet is a colour technique that produces an effect similar to Fair Isle knitting. Although it creates a two colour pattern, you only use on colour at a time. So if your pattern is in red and white, you would work all the red stitches in the pattern in one row, chaining over the gaps for the white stitches. Then on the row with the white yarn you would “fill in the gaps” in the pattern using an elongated stitch (click here for tutorial). 

You can use the mosaic technique to create a range of stitch patterns. A great way to try them out would be the Havana CAL by TinnaThorudottir Thorvaldar (pictured). This afghan not only contains seven mosaic patterns but it is currently free on Ravelry.

Colour pool crochet
A few yarn companies have produced yarns dyed in such a way that if they are crocheted to a particular tension and stitch count the yarn automatically produces a pattern that looks like a plaid or argyle. In colour pool or planned pooling crochet, the number of stitches in a row are worked out to ensure the stripes of colour develop diagonally across your work.

Colur pool projects from Stylecraft and Universal Yarns
It can take a bit of working out to ensure your pattern comes out correctly but there are a number of videos to help you from yarn companies or from retailers and bloggers to give you tips

We have been trying out colour pooling for ourselves and have found the new Zing crochet hook set very useful because it can help to swap hook size from time to time to help adjust your tension by small amounts to keep the diagonal colour stripes correct.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Have you a Christmas knitting plan yet?

I saw a sign in a shop window at the weekend listing how many Sundays were left to until Christmas. It didn’t make me rush inside to do some shopping but rather prompted some thoughts on planning for gift knitting.
We all know that gift knitting can get out of hand at this time of the year. So it is important to take a breath and ask yourself deep, searching questions – and you need to be perfectly honest here. How many hand knit items you want to give, what you are going to make and will it involve secret knitting?
Most of the horror stories about gift knitting or crochet are about running out of time. No one wants to be desperately sewing up hats or grafting the toe of a sock in the early hours of the morning following the work party or hiding in the bathroom with the yarn because the secret project is only half done.

Small knitted and crochet gifts may be as appreicated as a complicated sweater
Write your knitted or crocheted gift list now and try to work out how much time you will need to finish everything on the list – a timescale of more than a few weeks and you might want to plan for December 2019 instead.
Think about whether you are knitting for other knitters or for non-knitters. A non-knitter may not be aware how much time a jumper takes and will be equally touched by the thought and work that goes into a hat, socks or mittens that are perfect for them.
Equally a fellow yarn crafter may appreciate an intricate stitch or a stunning yarn choice on a small item.
And most importantly there is more chance of all of them actually receiving their presents if you choose smaller items to make rather than sweaters for everyone.
Even if you have already started making your gifts, it is worth answering these questions to see if your plans are on track.
Whether you are making one scarf or planning yarn gifts for 20 people we wish you all the best with your Christmas crafting plans.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Introducing the nostepinne – a great way to wind yarn

When the new products in the KnitPro collection arrived with the UK team, we learned a new skill and agreed our crafting life had changed forever. 

We absolutely love our nostepinnes, which are traditional Scandinavian tools for creating centre pull balls of yarn. Ours come in plain and coloured wood with a turned handle.

 To make your ball, you handwind the yarn round the nostepinne in a specific way. Click here for a video demonstrating how to use it. It only takes a few minutes to learn and once you have practised a little you will discover this is a satisfying and relaxing way to wind up yarn.

As you can see, you can use a nostepinne to wind any yarn but I think most people would turn to their ball winder (if they have one) for 800m of laceweight for example. A nostepinne is particularly handy for winding small ball to be used in colour work or granny squares for example. It is also very useful for tidying up half used balls of yarn into neater cakes. Certainly we have been using ours regularly since we had the opportunity to test them out. 

Let us know if you have tried a nostepinne and tell us how get on if you buy a KnitPro one.