Showing posts with label knitting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label knitting. Show all posts

Tis the season for RSI's

Chances are you're probably in that holiday craft twilight time - the mad dash to get all those projects finished that you have in mind for your handmade gifting this season. I feel your pain, I have a list myself. I am also fortunate in that I get to knit and crochet as a source of income - so that's a lot of time spent with my hands and wrists in repetitive motion which could lead to repetitive stress injury or RSI. Even without the worry of RSI's, working long hours on knit or crochet projects can make for some pretty sore and tired hands, aching shoulders and a complaining spine.

So what can you do to reduce pain and fatigue while you craft?

Use proper body mechanics

I know I've spent some time on my nice comfy couch with feet propped up and needles in hand, in front of my favorite show only to be terribly disappointed when I can't move without pain just 30 minutes later. How is it I can spend hours in my craft room and barely tolerate the comfort of my red cushy leather couch? It all boils down to proper body mechanics.

Keeping your spine in proper alignment will help reduce pain and fatigue. Your grandmother was right - sit up straight. We all have three natural curves in our spine: the cervical (neck), the thoracic (upper back) and the lumbar (lower back). Proper alignment of the spine means keeping these natural curves lifted, not collapsed or held. Picture your spine as a gentle S curve, with each vertebrae stacked gently on top of each other. When you sit, you should feel your ears balanced over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips and your spine lifted. If you have a chair with a lumbar support, make sure it is in the proper position and uncross those legs! Crossing your legs while you are seated will cause the spine to twist in an unnatural position which will lead to an aching back and shoulders. Speaking of legs, make sure your chair is at the proper height for you. Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle - no dangling feet and no knees pointing up. When seated, you should be able to have both feet comfortably on the ground while maintaining that 90 degree angle. I personally don't use a chair with a back. My favorite crafting chair so far is a padded storage stool. It's the right height, it's comfy and it serves a purpose (it holds my spinning fiber). I make it a point to sit up into proper spine alignment while I work but when I notice I'm starting to slouch I move on to the next point.

Take frequent breaks

It's important to take frequent breaks. If you notice yourself slouching or your shoulders are starting to squeeze in on your neck then it's time to move around. Get up, do a few squats, or a few lunges. Gently stretch your fingers back, give yourself a mini hand massage, lift your hands up to the sky and stretch out your spine. Do anything that will gently stretch those muscles and joints and get the blood moving.

I save my dusting and vacuuming for some of my "break" times. And fortunately with two large breed dogs that like to shed a lot, it's a daily break time opportunity.

De-stress your workspace

The quickest way to sit in a hunched or stiff position is to have a stressful workspace. Try not to have too many projects out at once, especially if you're planning on them all going out the door at once! This is a visual cue of a pile of work that needs to be done. Pull out one project at a time, work on it for a while then put it away before pulling out your next work in progress. This will keep your workspace de-cluttered and will help you remain calm. Stress? What stress, I'm almost finished with this and I see nothing else that needs to be done right now. That's my yarn zen mantra - it's a little simplistic but it works.

I hope you get to enjoy your crafting as much as I enjoy mine.

~Happy Crafting!~

Disclaimer: I am not a physician and can not diagnose or treat any condition. The advice given here is my personal opinion for my situation. If you are having difficulty, please consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What's trending for Fall?

As a crafter you are also part fashionista so it helps to keep up on the latest trends. We have some amazing colors and textures coming up for the Fall/Winter 2016 season.

Some colors to keep your eye on:

New hand dyed colors for the shop!
Colors for the Fall/Winter season range anywhere from the traditional deep pumpkin and mulled wine to soft prism kissed pinks, purples and blues. And the yarns are just as wonderful. Soft worsted and woolens, shiny silks and fingering, beaded lace weights - it's all beautiful.

I just finished dyeing up two new colorways for the store and of course it had to be Poe inspired - my little nod to the Halloween season.

Annabel Lee is a beautiful wool and tussah silk blend, hand dyed in soft shades of silver that blend into cool blue and purple before transitioning into a soft pink. Edgar is 100% polwarth  in shades of rose, purple, and steel grey handpainted on a creamy background. Both are wonderfully soft and ready for your needles.

Accessories as always will run the gamut from hat to fingerless gloves. The wonderful thing about accessory patterns it that they are usually quick so it is possible to punch out at 5 on a Friday and have a neat new hat or cowl by 8 AM come Monday morning. The other thing that's great about accessories is that you can splurge on a slightly more expensive yarn - always a fun thing to do.

Dropping Daisies Crochet Scarf

Adirondack Knit Hat
A few quick accessory patterns for you to try:

Adirondack Hat (Free through the end of September!)

Dropping Daisies Scarf

Fearcorbda Capelet

Yarn never gets boring

Ebb & Flow knit lace scarf pattern by Color Energy Designs
Finally getting organized!
This post contains ad links

There are so many things I enjoy about knitting - the patterns, the shapes, the history, the yarn, the community. And it never gets boring which is a huge bonus for me. I know it seems like I get bored for the amount of WIPS I currently have but the truth is I get so excited when a new yarn or a new pattern crosses my sights that I have to stop what I'm doing and cast on right that second. I do cycle back around to those less sparkly projects....eventually.

Right now I'm enjoying a Craftsy class (Lace Shawl Design with Miriam Felton) and you know what that means - more projects! And with any luck, more patterns for my Etsy Shop. Right now I'm midway through a simple lace design scarf project. Ebb & Flow is knitting up in a nice rustic wool yarn in burnt orange. It's going to be perfect for the autumn.

As I'm taking the course I can't help but look through my handspun yarns. The worsted weights are nice but I'm still trying to decide how to incorporate some negative space in future knit pieces. There's so many stitches, so many yarns and just plain not enough hours in the day. But that doesn't stop me from absolutely filling as many minutes as I can with yarn. And you know what? I'm never bored. :)

Finding the right size yarn

Fingering weight, hand dyed yarn from Color Energy Designs
Fingering weight, hand dyed yarn from Color Energy Designs
Finding the right yarn for your next project can be tricky; especially if you've decided that you want to use a yarn that's different from the one listed in your chosen project. Much of the yarn industry is standardized in terms of labelling but every once in a while you come across an absolutely stunning yarn without all the easy markings. In that case, you can use the wraps per inch (WPI) method to determine the yarn weight. To get the yarn WPI, wrap the yarn around a pencil and count the amount of times you can wrap the yarn in an inch. Take care not to wrap tightly or stretch the yarn while wrapping. In a yarn store without a measuring tape? No worries. The distance between the end of your thumb and the knuckle is approximately an inch.

Once you've determined your WPI, use the chart below to view your yarn weight and type. Then let the crafting begin!

Yarn Type
Common Uses/Qualities
Doilies, fine lace, airy shawls. Beautiful drape; blocking is usually key for getting that desired effect.
Socks, shawls, kerchiefs, fingerless gloves. On smaller needles, provides solid texture. On larger needles, nice fluid drape.
Baby clothing, lightweight sweaters, and various lightweight accessories.
Baby clothing, lightweight sweaters, accessories, blankets/afghans, heavier socks.
Mittens, sweaters, scarves and hats. Blankets/afghans.
Aran is similar to worsted. Blankets, winter accessories, fall & winter sweaters.
Heavy sweaters, blankets, hats, cowls. Usually knits up quickly (depending on the project).
Super Bulky
5 to 6
Yarn rugs, heavy sweaters, thick blankets. Depending on the project, a very quick knit.

Finishing Starts at the Beginning

     I like a nice straight edge when knitting up a new flat piece such as a scarf or blanket. There is nothing more disappointing then getting that last stitch bound off, laying your piece out flat and seeing a wobbly edge. More than once I’ve had the thought “no amount of blocking is going to fix that”! And just as many times a piece would be completely frogged and reworked into something different, that is until I discovered the slip-stitched edge.

      The slip-stitched edge is a simple technique that virtually guarantees your finished flatwork will have a nice, clean uniform edge. And it’s easy to incorporate into virtually every pattern in your library. The first stitch of every row is slipped purl-wise – that’s it, nothing fancy but the end result looks fabulous and professional.

      You don’t need to limit this technique to flat work such as scarves or blankets. I’ve incorporated the slip-stitched edge into virtually all of my knit work. Seams on sweaters are far easier to stitch up when edges are uniform and tidy. The added advantage of a sweater that utilizes a slip-stitch edge as selvedge is a seam that doesn’t easily stretch beyond its original intended measurement.  It also makes picking up and knitting stitches along an edge for collars or sleeves easier and more uniform.

     There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before using a slip-stitch edge. Think about the end result first. Some patterns incorporate increases with the first and last stitches of a row. If so, can the increase be moved in one stitch without losing the overall integrity of the pattern? If not then this is not the technique to employ. Think about the edging pattern itself and where it will be on the finished piece. Will that straight edge take away or add to the visual appeal of your cardigan?

      This is a nice finishing technique for your knitting but it starts long before that last stitch is bound-off, it starts at the beginning.  

Teacup Teddy

Teacup Teddy
 Latest project...done.Well actually, the latest of 35 projects done. I really need to stop flipping through magazines because as soon as I see the next "IT" project I have needles out and the cast-on has begun.

This latest IT project is from the May 2014 issue of Craftseller magazine. You can check out the current issue here:

I discovered the magazine while browsing on my Nook during a brief case of boredom (I don't know how I can get bored while surrounded by my endless bits of fiber, but I do).

The Teacup Teddy project is super easy and super fast. If you want a new project that will only take a day then I highly recommend this one. It will also make a great Mother's Day gift for your coffee/tea/cocoa loving mom. (Hint, hint, she'll love you for it!)

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is absolutely, without a doubt, the best time of year for the crafty person.Well in my humble opinion anyway. I love stretching those creative muscles, learning new techniques and the holidays always give me the perfect excuse. (Like I need one)

I was poking around the library and found Leslie Stanfield's 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet. Heaven in a book.
Excellent library find!
After flipping through the book I knew I needed to break out the stash basket, needles, hooks and get down to business.
Practice flowers in progress

Lucky me, I just happened to have some florist styrofoam in my craft room. It's amazing the things I find in there. I'm pretty sure I purchased that piece on sale about five years ago with no particular project in mind. That's how I fill my craft room - clearance racks and sales. I let the items that surround me spark creativity.
The flower patterns in the book are easy to follow. The pictures are amazing. There are even a few embellishment projects (which I may use later). Instead I decided my table could use a holiday centerpiece complete with a snowman. The centerpiece is a combination of knit, crochet and needle felting.
I'm pretty sure this is one book I'll add to my library - the project possibilities are endless and who doesn't like flowers all year long.
Merry Christmas!
© 2013 E. Stilson-Ouderkirk

Adirondack Hat - My Mountain Design contest submission

Recently, I opened a Vogue Knitting email to read about the My Mountain design contest and they were giving away balls of Schachenmayr yarn. Giving it away and all I had to do was ask? I clicked on the email link and had a design forming in my head before I was even aware of conscious thought. The pattern below was my submission.  I hadn't previously tried the yarn but I am a huge fan of it now. If you haven't tried it - you need to. It's soft and bulky and warm and just everything you would want for a winter hat. Visit the Schachenmayr web site for yarn information and free patterns! (

Adirondack Hat/Cowl

2 skeins Schachenmayr Boston Style
Size 8 circular needle (16")
Size 7 DPN

K = knit
P = purl
K2T = knit 2 together
YO = yarn over
PM = place marker

Cast on 56 stitches using the long tail method.

Set up row: PM; join and knit each stitch around, being careful not to twist row.

Row 1:  *K1, P1; repeat from * to end of row.
Row 2:  K all stitches.

Repeat rows until piece measures 8", ending with Row 1 of pattern.

Next row: *K2T, yo, K4. Repeat from * to last 6 stitches. K6.
Next row:  K all stitches.
Next 2 rows: repeat Rows 1 and 2.
Bind off loosely.

Using the double point needles knit a 3 stitch I-cord 22" in length. Lace through openings at top of hat/cowl. Make pom-poms or tassels for the each end of the cord.

To wear as a cowl, simply slip it over your head. As a hat, pull the cord tight and tie it up.

© 2013 E. Stilson-Ouderkirk

Not enough hours in a day!

Knitty City on 79th
Berroco Swing Shawl
I can't believe how much time has passed since my last post! But not to worry, I have filled my time by moving to a new city (Albany NY is amazing), recent trip to NYC (inspirational visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art & Knitty City on 79th) and of course with yarn of every size, color and texture. I even added to the stash while at Knitty City - wonderful Berroco yarns in cotton and linen. Which of course prompted another project - the Swing Shawl pattern on the Berroco website is perfect for the textures and colors I chose.

The Schackenmayr has arrived!
Recently, I opened a Vogue Knitting email to read about the My Mountain design contest and they were giving away balls of Schackenmayr yarn. Giving it away and all I had to do was ask? I clicked on the email link and had a design forming in my head before I was even aware of conscious thought. That's how it is for a fiber enthusiast. (We are also known affectionately as yarn junkies). We operate by instinct; the yarn speaks to us - we don't see the fluffy, soft ball of yarn. We see all the possibilities that it will become. For us there is no such thing as too much yarn - only undiscovered projects. Right now I have a room full of undiscovered projects and am happily collecting more.

Spring Kitchen

I have spent the entire previous week doing my version of Spring cleaning. It doesn't necessarily mean I've gone through and made things spotless! My version of the big spring clean is to clean out the old dull tired looking kitchen towels, pot holders, placemats, etc. Time to bring some of those bright spring colors in! (As I'm writing this, we are once again getting hit with another winter storm here in the north eastern US - I'm muttering "lovely" with as much sarcasm as I can muster)

I made the flower pot holder by adapting a crochet pattern I found online. I love this pattern and will probably make a few more. The pattern can be found here: I love the classics!

The v-ribbed pot holder and the red and orange placemat were patterns I found in Vintage Crochet for your Home book by Coats & Clark. Again, you can't go wrong with the classics, or is it vintage? Either way, I love it!

The lime-green, white and orange hand towel pattern was in my latest (Spring 2013) issue of Creative Knitting and was the catalyst for my need for festive colors in the kitchen. I'm including a link to the related tutorial here:

Now that my kitchen is a little brighter, the rest of the rooms seem a little dull. I'm now looking through the yarn stash and thumbing through my stack of pattern books and thinking about the possibilities that this week will bring. That's one of the true gifts of crafting - we really can make our little bits of the world as bright as we need it to be.


Today was a work in progress day.  I'll admit it - I have a problem. I am a yarnie, I can't help myself. Every color, every fiber, every texture is my favorite as soon as I see it, touch it, hold it. I have bags, boxes and baskets in various rooms of my house all waiting for my next "must-do" project. And I have multiple "must-do's" in various stages of completion, all strategically placed so that anytime, anywhere I do have something to work on. So I guess everyday is a work in progress day.

Anytime I go shopping (which isn't very often) I am compelled to visit a fiber store. My internal GPS can find one wherever I go - it's a skill. And luckily, I haven't yet reached hoarder stage so I needn't worry about an intervention.....yet! But I do have my enablers. Recently a friend tagged me in her FB post; I clicked the notification and suddenly on my screen was a beautiful picture of shelves stuffed with yarn. I must talk a lot about yarn.

Today's projects were a set of wool socks and the Indian Cross-Stitch scarf. What are you working on?

Cable cuff toe-up wool socks

Indian cross-stitch scarf
This is a simple toe-up pattern made with Cascade Yarn 220 Heather. I started with 12 cast on size 5 DPN. The first row is knit in front of stitch on Needle 1, knit in back of same stitch with Needle 2 (do this for each stitch). At the end of the row you'll have 24 stitches to be divided evenly between your double point needles. (I am positively addicted to making my own socks now - all it took was wearing that first pair & I was hooked!)

I saw this stitch as part of a sweater pattern and had to try it. Do a search for indian cross-stitch. It's lots of fun and it adds a lot of drape to your completed fabric.

© 2013 E. Stilson-Ouderkirk

Fearcorbda Capelet

Two things interest me: genealogy and fiber art history. I am fascinated by fiber art history in particular. I've spent a great deal of time in yarn shops, taking in all the colors, the textures, the endless possibilities! I can't help but wonder at the contributions our ancestors made for us and find myself asking questions. Questions like how did they arrive at the process of spinning fiber, who was the first person to discover the process, why did they take two sticks and a ball of string to make something? Sadly, we will never have the answers to these questions but we can certainly take the time to acknowledge their contributions. And we do, every time we dive into a dog-eared pattern book with needles and yarn stash at the ready.

My love of genealogy was the inspiration for the name of this pattern. Fearcorbda of Alba (also known as Scotland) resides in the distant branches of my family tree. The only information I have been able to find to date is that she was born in 677 and died 723 AD. Fashion of the day for that region was practical-oriented and probably would not have included a capelet. But I'd like to think the women of that era would have taken the time to make something fancy for themselves because "they're worth it"!

 The Fearcorbda pattern is now available as an immediate download in the store! Don't forget to create an account while you're there and you'll always have access to your file.

Annabel Lee Arm Warmers

I love knitting and now I've discovered a new passion - designing! This design for arm warmers reminds me of the Victorian era, so with homage to Edgar Allen Poe, I've named them Annabel Lee. I hope you have as much fun making them as I had designing them. 

Yarn: Red Heart super saver, color 4321 - spa blue fleck, 1 skein 

Needles: 1 set straight, size 7 & 1 set dpn, size 6 

k = knit
p = purl
k2t = knit 2 together
yo = yarn over
sl = slip 1
psso = pass slipped stitch over

Using straight needles co 39 st. Work one row knit (counts as wrong side) then turn. 
Switch to dpn, knit next row spacing the stitches evenly, join to beginning. 

Next round (counts as Rnd 3): place marker, knit around. 
Rnd 4: purl around. 

Rnd 5: k5, yo, *k3, s1, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1, yo. Repeat from * to last 8 stitches: k3, yo, k5. 

Rnd 6: knit around. 

Odd Rnds 7-17: repeat Rnd 5. 
Even Rnds 8-16: repeat Rnd 6. 

Rnd 18: (decrease Rnd) k3, k2t, knit around to last 5 stitches, k2t, k3

Odd Rnds 19-25: k4, yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 7 stitches: k3, yo, k4.

Even Rnds 20-24: repeat Rnd 6. 

Rnd 26: (decrease Rnd) k2, k2t, knit around to last 4 stitches, k2t, k2.

Odd Rnds 27-33: k3, yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 6 stitches: k3, yo, k3.

Even Rnds 28-32: repeat Rnd 6.

Rnd 34: (decrease Rnd) k1, k2t, knit around to last 3 stitches, k2t, k1.

Odd Rnds 35-41:  k2, yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 5 stitches: k3, yo, k2.

Even Rnds 36-40: repeat Rnd 6.

Rnd 42: (decrease Rnd) k2t, knit around to last 2 stitches, k2t.

Odd Rnds 43-45: k1, yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 4 stitches: k3, yo, k1. 

Even Rnds 44-46: repeat Rnd 6.

Rnd 47: (increase for thumb gusset) Inc 1 in 1st, yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 4 stiches: k3, yo, inc 1 in last st.

Even Rnds 48-60: repeat Rnd 6.

Odd Rnds 49-59: continue in established pattern increasing 1 st before first yo and increasing 1 st after last yo of Rnd.

Odd Rnds 61-63: k8,  yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 11 stitches: k3, yo, k8. 

Rnd 62: p7, k1,  yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 11 stitches: k3, yo, k1, p7.  

Rnd 64: bind off 7 purlwise, k1,  yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 11 stitches: k3, yo, k1, bind off last 7 purlwise, break off yarn.  

Odd Rnds 65-67: join yarn,  k1, yo, *k3, sl, k2t, psso, k3, yo, k1,yo. Repeat from * to last 4 stitches: k3, yo, k1.  

Even Rnds 66-68: repeat Rnd 6.

Rnd 69: purl around.

Rnd 70: knit around.

Rnd 71: bind off purlwise, break off yarn and weave in ends.



© 2013 E. Stilson-Ouderkirk