Free Pattern Friday – Summer Poncho

It’s Free Pattern Friday!Flax_SummerPoncho_alt_blogToday, the Summer Poncho in Flax.

We’re on the road to Columbus, OH right now for the annual summer National Needlearts Association trade show, but we still had to share this absolute beauty.

Susan at TNNAThe Summer Poncho is designed by Susan Whitmore, the owner of Rainy Day Creations yarn shop in Pineville, NC.  To the right you can see Susan snuggling with Suzy the Cuddlebunny at a previous year’s show in the Universal Yarn booth.

She has just closed her shop and is enjoying a richly deserved retirement.  We miss her welcoming shop, but we’re so glad that she’s taking time to enjoy herself.  And we’re doubly glad that she shared this lovely design with us before hopping on her motorcycle and vrooming off into the sunset!

Flax_SummerPoncho_blogKnit in FibraNatura Flax linen yarn in two pieces and seamed, this oversized poncho will fit a variety of sizes and is easy to adjust simply by seaming more or less of the sizes and neck.  It’s a simple written pattern and contains a schematic for assembly.  Such a great piece for summer!

We hope you enjoy this piece, and that you pull a page from Susan’s book and take time to enjoy life.

Happy knitting!

Free Pattern Friday – Swim Cover

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Alana Coverup main_blog

Today, the Swim Cover in Alana.

This is a timely design.  Why?  Take a look.

Weather Map Heat WaveYep, that’s next week.  Hot.  Hot hot hot.  Hard to believe it’s only May.  So maybe this is a good moment to cast on for something to help you stay cool.

Alana Coverup alt 2_blogStart off this long weekend by casting on for the knitted Swim Cover in Alana (158yds/100g).  Be ready to chill by the pool or on the beach with a sun hat to keep you in the shade and some flip-flops to keep your feet off the scorching ground.

Pictured is the small size of this cover-up, which took exactly five hanks.  In the pattern we call for six, just in case you want to grab an extra hank for safety.  We do factor in a little extra yarn for swatching purposes, but surely you wouldn’t skip your swatch, would you?

This simple Alana Coverup alt 3_bloggarment is knitted flat, with some nice reversible stripe stitch detailing at the hem, pictured right.  The whole cover-up is just two rectangles seamed together at the sides.  This lets you make the armholes as long or as narrow as you wish.  We call for 9-11″ for the armholes, so you’ve got plenty of room to lift your arm dramatically to your brow while calling for a mint julep from your lounge chair.

Next week, stay cool, make sure your pets (and you!) have plenty of water, and keep crafting.

Happy knitting!

Alana Coverup alt 1_blog

 

 

Rocked Knitalong – Button Tab Finishing

Today we’re wrapping up the Rocked knitalong with the final piece of the puzzle, the buttons and button tabs.  Just two simple pieces of knitted stockinette and a couple of buttons take this mesh shirt from “okay” to a really finished looking garment.

Although the instructions call for a cast-on of 8 stitches for the button tabs, I went with 10 stitches since my Garden 5 is a little finer than the Cotton True Sport.

Rocked button tab before blog

 

(I love how Heather photographed my tabs and buttons into a smiley face!)

You know that thing that drives us crazy about stockinette stitch, the way it rolls? This top is all about taking advantage of that fact, especially with the button tabs. Because the stockinette naturally rolls to the inside along the side of the piece, our button tabs look like an i-cord or tube.

To attach each button tab, I sewed one end inside the sleeve at the pick-up line for the sleeve, and centered right on the shoulder seam.

Rocked button tab interior_crop blog

 

I could have tacked the other end of the button tab to the outside of the shirt, but instead I just pinned it in place so that the edge just touched the sleeve pick-up line. I then layered a button on top of the tab and sewed it on, through all layers. It’s as easy as that! The button holds the outer portion of the tab in place.

Rocked button tab both sleeves blog

Although I opted for a fairly boring button choice, I really like the idea of contrasting buttons on this shirt. A pop of red on a white Rocked, or chartreuse green on a gray version – there are many possibilities. Have fun with it!

Rocked finished blog

Thanks to everyone who has been knitting along with us. I know there are lots of you still working on your Rocked tops. Don’t forget about our Ravelry group dedicated to the knitalong. I’ll be popping in here and there to see how you’re doing. And if you have a question, ask!

 

IRL – Heather’s Hat

We are fully immersed in balmy summertime weather here in North Carolina. I look longingly at my heavy hand-knits every morning, knowing I won’t get to wear them for months. But with high heat also comes air conditioning, and we keep things pretty chilly here in the Universal Yarn office.

Many of us keep a lightweight sweater or jacket on the backs of our chairs for when the cold blast becomes too much. Heather, on the other hand, loves to knit and wear hats. She follows patterns sometimes. But Heather has knit so many hats that she is a hat-knitting pro and will often just cast on and start knitting, which was the case with this lovely hat in Poems:

IRL Heather Poems twist hat 2

 

I asked Heather to tell me about her hat, and here’s what she had to say:

“I was going to see Kingsman (loved it!) and wanted a fairly mindless project to work on in the dark, and hats are my go-to.  To keep it a little interesting, I added a right twist every other row.  I liked that technique in my Rocked Knitalong so it seemed like a good addition here.  For the decreases, I did a p2tog every couple of rows in the p3 sections, then did did my best to keep the twists going as I did k2tog for the final decreases. 

This hat will probably be set aside until I see what the Afghans for Afghans charity ( http://afghansforafghans.org​ ) is doing this year.  If they’re in need of hats, that’s where it’ll go.  It gets cold in those mountains!”

Heather’s hat took just one ball of Poems. We don’t have an official pattern for the hat, but Heather cast on 90 stitches with a US size 8 16″ circular and dove right into k2, p3 ribbing and worked a right twist every 2 rounds.

Thanks for sharing, Heather!

Free Pattern Friday – Water Ski Scarf

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Seaspray Tassel Scarf 1 blogToday, the Water Ski Scarf in Cotton Supreme DK Seaspray.

We featured Cotton Supreme DK Seaspray  not too long ago in the popular Color Block Scarves, but it’s so perfect for the season that we couldn’t resist sharing it again.

Seaspray Tassel Scarf 2 blogI love this yarn, and I love this scarf.  The pattern is knitted flat (obviously) and both written and charted.  Lace on US size 6 (4mm) needles goes quickly, and the tassels make this such a fun and kicky piece.

Cotton is great for summer, of course, and the pastel tones of Seaspray go great with the current bright trends.  We put together a couple of fantasy outfits below that would look great with the scarf.

Seaspray Scarf outfit 1

 

First, toss on a tank and your keds and you’re ready to go, no fuss no muss.  You could use pretty much any pastel top and then just a pop of whatever color you’ve made your scarf in at the bottom to pull it together.

Seaspray Scarf outfit 2

 

Next, dress it up a little!  Neutral sandals keep it from being too matchy-matchy.  You could even do a nice braided leather bracelet, although I do like the melony orange accent with the gold here.  The purse and turquoise/blue earrings bring it together.

We hope you enjoy this free pattern, and that you always feel fabulous in your handmades wherever you go.

Happy knitting!

 

rocked knitalong – picking up stitches

We talked about seaming our Rocked the other day, so now it’s time to cover picking up stitches for the sleeves and neckline. The end is near! But if you’re going at a more leisurely pace, then this post will be waiting here for you when you’re ready to tackle this particular section of Rocked.

Here in our office knitalong, we’re in all stages of completion. As we all know, hand knitting is not a fast thing. We all have other things to do in our lives and may not be able to spend as much attention as we’d like on our projects. But that makes us treasure them even more once we finish them. I know I do.

Let’s first talk about determining the rate of picking up stitches off of your piece. And before that, let’s clarify what it means to “pick up stitches” vs “picking up and knitting stitches”. What we are doing here is picking up and knitting stitches. This means we are using our needles to pull our working yarn through our piece of knitting (the seamed Rocked) in order to work edgings. This is different than simply picking up stitches, which would not involve extra yarn. Picking up stitches just means to take your needle and place stitches on it, the stitches from the piece itself with no extra yarn. There are sometimes patterns that call for this technique and it is different than picking up and knitting.

Rocked seaming 1 blog

Let’s talk about the neckline first. The pattern tells us to pick up and knit 72 sts along both the front and back neck edges.  We want to be sure to pick up these stitches evenly spaced, otherwise the neckline might pucker in a section where too many or too few stitches are picked up in relation to the surrounding areas.

I like to use my very favorite knitting tool, the mighty safety pin. Removable stitch markers work great, too. First, place a safety pin in the dead center of the neckline. Use a measuring tape if you need to, or count pattern repeats to be sure you’re in the center. Then, place a safety pin between the center pin and the shoulder on each side of center – you now have 4 sections of equal length along one side of your neckline. From here, you could start picking up and knitting. You know you need to have 72 stitches total on the one side, so you would pick up and knit 18 stitches in each of the 4 sections (72 / 4). Or, if the sections feel too large and you’re struggling to pick up and knit evenly in them, halve them with more safety pins so you have 8 sections and pick up and knit 9 stitches in each of these smaller sections.

The safety pin method is one I almost always use with a curved edge such as a neckline. But when picking up and knitting stitches from a straight vertical edge, along the side of a piece, I can usually just do a little math and figure out my rate without the need for markers.

For example, let’s take a look at the smallest size sleeve instruction. It says to pick up and knit 72 stitches along the side of the sleeve.  If my stockinette stitch and row gauges match the pattern, then I have 5.25 stitches and 7.25 rows per inch. Knowing this is important, because it means I want to be picking up about 5.25 stitches for every 7.25 rows along the side of the sleeve. But that is not helpful, because how in the heck do you pick up 5.25 stitches?!  You could throw in the towel and use the safety pin method – I personally will do this for vertical edges sometimes, too. Or, you could do a little math.

Divide the number of rows per inch into the number of stitches per inch, so: 5.25 / 7.25 = .724, or about 72%. If I were to pick up and knit 3 stitches for every 4 rows, this would be 75% which is just a little too much. If I were to pick up and knit 2 stitches for every 3 rows, this would be 66% which would be not quite enough. So my game plan would be to do this: alternate between the two, and pick up and knit 3 stitches, skip a row, pick up and knit 2 stitches, skip a row, and so on.

If your gauge doesn’t quite match the pattern, that’s okay. Simply pop your personal numbers into the equation and you’ll have your answer. You’ll want to note that if your stitch count is different than the pattern, you will be picking up and knitting a different number of stitches from both the sleeve and neckline. To calculate the stitches you need, simply measure the edge and take that number of inches x your stitches per inch.

Here is a short video showing how to pick up and knit from the side of the sleeve.

And here is my Rocked after doing both sleeves and the neck edging.

Rocked pick up and knit C blog Rocked pick up and knit E blog Rocked pick up and knit A blog

We’ll be back in a few days to attach the sleeve tabs and buttons. See you then!

 

 

Mother’s Day Yarn Art

Mother’s Day is tomorrow!  Are you ready?  Me neither!  Fortunately, Amy came up with marvelous way to put together a handmade gift from your stash in a flash.  Yarn art!

Step one is to find an image that you want to use and draw or trace it onto your card.  We used a cut-down sheet of foam core board.  We’re going to be using adhesive for this craft, so construction paper or thinner paper is a little iffy – we don’t want it to buckle or ripple from the moisture of the glue.

Card 1 Card 2

Amy freehanded her design, but you could also use clip art.  You can see it above with a couple of flowers already filled in with Bamboo Pop.  We’ll show you how to do that in the next step!Card 3 Card 4

 

Outline your design with glue (we used Alene’s clear gel tacky glue).  It’ll be easier to do a small section at a time rather than the whole thing – it’s easy to accidentally smear your yarn through the glue if the whole card is covered in it.

Card 5 Card 6

Card 7

Position your yarn over the outline and stick it down.  We used the point of a pencil to press the Bamboo Pop to the card.  It keeps glue off the fingers and it’s more precise.

After you do your outlines, fill in the area inside, then if you wish you can cover any remaining space.  Be as creative as you want.  Incorporate straight lines, whirls and swirls, unusual colors or shapes – it’s all up to you!

Card 8 Card 9

I love the touch Amy included of the chain stitch around the edge of the card!

Finish it off with a personalized message on the back.  Draw your own, or use clip art or illustration from the internet.

Voila! A personalized card that you made yourself without making yourself crazy.  We’ll hope that Amy’s mom gets the card before she reads this post!

Happy crafting!