April 18, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

Longest crochet chain while running a marathon

Susie broke her own world record for making the longest crochet chain while running a marathon. She plans to undo all her hard work and re-crochet it into a blanket to donate to someone suffering from Alzheimer's. 

To help Susie raise money for Alzheimer's Research UK click here.

Crochet wrapped bus promotes Fargo

Street artist Olek crocheted a cosy for a double decker bus to promote the new mini series based on the movie Fargo.

The Spring 2014 Twist Collective was released last weekend. 

Mark your calendars — Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People 7 comes out on 22 April.

Amy Herzog announced her second annual Make Wear Love retreat with Clara Parkes. 

Colette released two patterns for knit fabrics this week: Mabel and Moneta.

You can read more about them here. We love the versions that members of the Curvy Collective have blogged about. Colette also released a new book on sewing with knits that I'm eager to take a look at. 

And I got home from Cambodia,  I've been slowly trying to recover from the long journey and time change. Fortunately the weather has made the reentry as easy as possible and knitting is something that can be done when you feel like a bit of a zombie! 

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April 17, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

The pattern will tell you the stitch pattern to use for your swatch (and if it doesn’t specify work your swatch in stockinette stitch). Even if you don’t need to work a stitch pattern to test for gauge it can be a good idea to knit a swatch in an unfamiliar stitch pattern to get used to it before working it over many repeats in a garment
— Little Red in the City

After swatching in pattern you may discover that your chosen yarn/ pattern pairing do not go together at all; the stitch definition may get lost; the colours may over power the lace; or the pattern that looked delightful as a chart might be a mess when knit up. On the other hand it may get you even more excited to cast on and start your project. 

How many stitches to cast on

Stitch dictionaries tend to include helpful information like 'cast on a multiple of 5 + 2.' This means that in order to follow the directions as given you should cast on any multiple of 5 stitches, plus 2 (7, 12, 17, 22...).

The additional stitches are used to create a balanced pattern. This number does not include any edge stitches and you will probably want to add 2 or 3 stitches of garter stitch at each side. So for a pattern with a multiple of 5 + 2 I might cast on 38 sts for my swatch and work 3 stitches in garter at each end. 

Extracting a stitch pattern from a project pattern

Patterns for shawls or sweaters often incorporate the instructions for a stitch pattern into the general directions. Look for the directions for a full repeat and carefully count the number of stitches in the repeat. If the pattern is worked flat or in a panel it may be obvious how many additional stitches are needed to work a balanced pattern, but it really doesn't matter if your swatch is symmetrical, so don't worry too much about this! For an example check out this post on extracting a swatching pattern from the Sherilyn shawl pattern. 

Swatching in the round

Often stitch patterns will have different directions for working flat vs in the round. Whether you're knitting flat or in the round can also affect gauge so it's important to work the swatch the way the majority of the project will be worked. The fact that you won't need to convert the stitch pattern directions is just a bonus!

Measure using pattern repeats

Once you've finished and blocked your swatches you'll need to measure them to ensure you've got the correct gauge. You may find that counting individual stitches or rows in stitch patterns more difficult to count, but since you can figure out how many stitches/rows are in a pattern repeat it can be faster to count pattern repeats. In the example below there are 4 rows per pattern repeat so 10 repeats x 4 row = 40 rows for 4 inches. 

Swatching in pattern — count pattern repeats Works for both stitches and rows

Measuring motif or cable width

Sometimes it's even easier than that and the motif or cable width is given, add some stitches to either side of the motif so your swatch is big enough to spread out and then measure the motif.

Swatching in pattern — measure motifs

You can find even more information on swatching on pages 18–29 of Little Red in the City.

technique thursday

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April 15, 2014 by Sarah

Back in October I wrote about some of the amazing Elijah modifications floating about on Ravelry, and finally, just before my own little one was born in February, I managed to knit a special elephant just for her.  It was the fifth I've made, and the only one I've kept!

Alana's Elijah

I went with a combination of a couple of ideas — the garter stitch 'neckband' and 'cuffs', and a little stripey sweater.  It was straightforward to do, simply alternating the two colours every two rounds once I got past the garter stitch.  One technique I did use though, was tech knitter's jogless stripes tutorial.  She describes a couple of different ways to make the colour changes invisible, I used the travelling method so the start of the round begins at the back his sweater and moved a few stitches to the left.  I picked up stitches for the arms a few rows further down the body than the patterns shows, but just so that the sleeve came out of the sweater body and not the neckband!

Alana's Elijah is a bit littler too, I used some fingering weight merino and 3mm needles as its what I had to hand.  There's enough left for a second one too, so I'm tempted to make this Elijah a little brother with a colourwork sweater.  (Having a baby doesn't seem to have stopped me planning all the projects, so I'm adding it to my long, and always expanding queue...)

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April 14, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

You might know Mary-Heather from her work at Ravelry where she helps businesses small and not so small to make the most of their advertising. Or maybe you've knit one of her fun patterns like the Simple Things Shawl or the Sugarleaf Cardigan she designed for my book The Rhinebeck Sweater.

So Mary-Heather, what else do you love?



1. The Sandia Mountains.

You know how some people are beach people? I'm a mountain person. Since moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2008, the Sandia mountains have been part of my daily view. Capped with snow in the winter, glowing with golden aspen leaves in the fall, and bright pink at sunset year round, they loom over the city, gorgeous from every angle. Plus, I am one of those lucky people who can get lost even with GPS but the Sandias help me avoid that here in ABQ. I can see them from everywhere in town, and they're always East. Thanks, mountains, for being huge and immobile. I appreciate you.


2. Bright nail polish - it's Spring!

Ever since the temperatures started rising I am all about bright nails. They cheer me up as I type.

3. Documentary Tuesdays.

Documentary Tuesdays are a little household tradition started by my fiancé Jacob. The name pretty much says it all... we watch documentary programs or movies on Tuesday nights. Recently we've enjoyed Twenty Feet from Stardom, Gasland (this one totally bummed me out, though I'm glad I saw it), and pretty much everything in the PBS American Experience lineup.


4. Project Life.

Project Life is a super easy and fun scrapbooking/photo-journaling/memory-keeping system that uses pocket photo pages and "core kits" of cards with designs or journaling space to slip into the pockets that don't get photos. I started an album this year and LOVE it. I love building a 2014 photo journal as I go, and keeping a physical album of all the little daily pictures I take. I especially love how easy it is to put layouts together: slip the pictures into the pockets, add the cute cards, journal on the cards (or not), add a few stickers/movie tickets or mementos/embellishments (or not), DONE. (Until the next batch of photos are ready for printing!) I know I'll appreciate having this album for years to come.

5. YNAB, or You Need a Budget.

I'm guessing this will make Ysolda laugh when she sees that YNAB has made the list because I've enthusiastically recommended this program to her before. YNAB is a program set up around a method with Four Rules of money management. It has really changed how I feel about budgeting - it's intuitive and downright fun to me now! Yep, that's right, I think budgeting is fun. I'm just living my 30-plus life, y'all.

6. Coffee.

'Nuff said.


7. Urban Decay's Naked2 Palette.

Pretty pretty neutral colors in a sturdy metal tin. Absolutely my go-to palette when I wear eyeshadow - the colors make it easy to experiment with cute looks.


8. My ridiculous(ly awesome) sequined shower cap.

It looks like Strawberry Shortcake and Bob Mackie had a shower cap baby, and it makes me smile every time I put it on.


9. Our cutting board.

Enormous, made from New Mexico juniper, and purchased at the Los Poblanos Inn and Farm (one of our favorite places to go here in Albuquerque). I love to cook, and something about chopping on this great big board calms me. 


10. My dog Charlie's ears!

I love these even more than yarn, actually. They really are the very best ears. 

10 things


April 11, 2014 by Rebecca

Knitting in the press

An article in the Guardian this week about craft hobbies caused lots of discussion on Ravelry and twitter, even getting its own hashtag - #ANDknitting.  If you have a look at the hashtag search its so interesting to see the variety of careers that knitters around the world have.  The Ravelry thread discussing the article is here.  Knitting also made the news in the Globe and Mail and caused controversy when it called knitting fusty!  But did also say that knitting had its groove back...


As if it couldn't get any better for Sarah after the lambs on instagram last week, a geep was born in Ireland.  It's a super-rare cross between a goat and a sheep, and is just as cute as you'd expect!  The farmer was interviewed here, seems like its sheep mother is looking after it well.


3 May is Yarn Shop Day — Ysolda will be at Kathy's Knits in the afternoon doing Book signing and helping you take proper measurements so you can make your own Perfect Sweater

There are still a few spaces left for Ysolda's Shawl Geometry Class at This is Knit in Dublin on 17 May. 

The Events page is still a work in progress but you can see some of the upcoming events Ysolda will be attending.

Wish I was there

Iceland!  It seems like the knitwear design world has moved there at the moment.  Well, not really, but Stephen West, Cirilia Rose and Kate Davies have all paid a visit.  It looks like a whole lot of fun is being had, and there are some beautiful (and hilarious) images from their trips on Kate's blog and Stephen and Cirilia's instagram.

The Makerie Spring retreat is this weekend and I'm kinda jealous, maybe Sarah and I should do some embroidery or crochet this weekend as both Cal Patch and Rebecca Ringquist are teaching. Last year Sarah and I both worked on the drop-cloth monthly embroidery and Rebecca released her new monthly collection Color Burst which looks amazing.

Bex's Monthly embroidery — blanket stitches

Bex's Monthly embroidery — blanket stitches

Sarah's in progress Couching sampler

Sarah's in progress Couching sampler

What are you planning on working on this weekend?

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April 10, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

A tubular bind-off that's a perfect match for a tubular cast on. The only catch is that the only way to create that seamless join between the stitches is to sew it. Sewn bind-offs, especially along long stretches aren't my favourite but this one is completely worth it. Just make sure to cut the tail long enough. This technique involves grafting so if you aren't familiar with that you might want to look that up.

There are two ways to do this, the method shown here is by far the simpler but skipping the second needle and grafting the stitches on one needle, like this, is faster.

Shown as a bind off for k1, p1 ribbing but can be used for any stitch pattern that you'd use a tubular cast on for.


You will need

Blunt darning needle

A spare needle in the same size or a slightly smaller size than the working needle


Stop when there is just one row left of your pattern. Set up for the bind off by working one row: knit the knits and slip the purls purlwise with yarn at front. Work the next row: purl the purls and slip the knits purlwise with yarn at back.

Stop when there is just one row left of your pattern. Set up for the bind off by working one row: knit the knits and slip the purls purlwise with yarn at front. Work the next row: purl the purls and slip the knits purlwise with yarn at back.

Take the spare needle and work across the row / round slipping the knits onto the working needle and the purls onto the spare needle. Slip all stitches purlwise.

Take the spare needle and work across the row / round slipping the knits onto the working needle and the purls onto the spare needle. Slip all stitches purlwise.

With the stitches divided you can see that the set-up rows created a strip of stockinette between them.

With the stitches divided you can see that the set-up rows created a strip of stockinette between them.

Cut the yarn leaving a tail about three times as long as the edge and graft the two sets of stitches together.

Cut the yarn leaving a tail about three times as long as the edge and graft the two sets of stitches together.

2 x 2 ribbing

For 2x2 rib the stitches can be rearranged into 1x1 rib before working the set up rows. If you've already done the tubular cast on for 2x2 rib the process of rearranging the stitches is essentially the same. *K1, slip the next st off the needle, p into the next stitch making sure that the loose stitch is a the front, put the loose stitch back on the needle and k it, p 1, rep from * to end.