Many of you ask about how wool is made into a superwash. Thanks to the Brown Sheep Co. for the following information:
Yarn that is treated with special processing so that it can be washed in the washing machine has become increasingly popular. A washable yarn can be created in two different ways. One way is to take the fiber through an acid bath that will eat the edges off of the scales that are found microscopically on the wool fiber. The other method, used by Brown Sheep, puts a polymer coating on the scales so that scales will not catch onto each other. Because of this coating, this yarn has a different hand. It feels "smoother" or "slicker" and we do not recommend lapping the joining of one skein to another, but knotting the joint instead. If the one skein is joined to another in the normal lapping fashion, your join may come apart in the wash.
A garment crafted from this product can safely be washed in the wash machine on the gentle cycle. Lay flat to dry rather than throwing the garment in the dryer.
A natural fiber shampoo should be used to help keep your natural fiber garment vibrant and rich.
(Brown Sheep produces Lamb's Pride Superwash and recommends the use of their Top of the Lamb Shampoo).
used by permission
Tip 1: gauge - gauge - gauge
To get the best possible result, it is vital to adhere to the gauge. Knit a sample to determine exactly what size knitting needle to use. It is always good to check the gauge in the middle of a piece than from the edges, as they tend to curl slightly. Cast on about 10 stitches more for the sample than what is specified for the pattern gauge. If the sample is knit too loosely or does not have enough stitches per inch, switch to thinner or smaller size needle. If the sample is knit too tightly or has too many stitches per inch, use a thicker or larger needle. Remember, that the needle size specified in the pattern is simply a recommendation, so the knitter should always make a sample to determine which needle size to use for correct size results.
Tip 2: cast on - cast off - cast on
Always cast on with the body size needle. Cast off with a needle 3 sizes larger than body size and always cast off in pattern.
Tip 3: Long Tail Cast On
Ever run out of yarn when casting on?? Here's a tip you will use over and over again. Measure out one inch of yarn per stitch and you will always have enough.
Example: If you have to cast on 60 stitches you need a 60 inch tail.
Tip 4: Two-color Patterns
To ensure the nicest possible figures when knitting two-color patterns like the ones typically found in Norwegian sweaters, it's a good idea to knit with the background color in your right hand and the contrasting color in your left hand. This will keep your tension even and the stitches consistent throughout the garment.
Tip 5: Sewing on Buttons
Have you ever had the buttons on your knitted garments hang loosely because they pull the knitted fabric? We suggest you sew on all buttons with a clear plastic backer button. This method will anchor the button and hold it in place. If your button does not have a shank, make a shank between the outside button and the knitted fabric. A thread shank is made by sewing on the outside button with a space between the button and the knitted fabric and then when you have sewn the button with enough thread, wrap thread around the threads between the button and the knitted fabric. Five wraps is usually enough. Then make a tight knot with your thread and cut. You will be able to button your sweater easily and the look will be very professional.
Tip 6: Yarn Weights and Equivalents
Weight of yarn refers to how thick it is.
The most standardized thicknesses are:
Fingering - approx. 7 to 8 sts per inch. A lightweight used for socks, babywear and delicate items.
Sport - approx. 5 to 6 sts per inch medium weight used for sweaters, baby items and lighweight afghans.
Worsted - approx. 4 to 5 sts per inch. A popular weight for sweaters and afghans.
Chunky - approx. 3 to 4 sts per inch. Work up easily and quickly for sweaters, scarves and afghans.
Bulky - approx. 2 to 3 sts per inch. A heavy yarn very popular this winter for sweaters, jackets and scarves.
Equivalents Approximate yarn equivalents:
2 strands fingering = one strand sport
2 strands sport = one strand worsted
2 strands worsted = one strand bulky
Tip 7: Converting Meters to Yards
A quick way to determine yardage when it is in meters is to take the numbers left of the last right number and add it or them to the whole.
Example: 127 meters
Take the 12 and add it to 127 which equals 139 yards
Example: 89 meters
Take the 8 and add it to the 9 which equals 97 yards
Tip 8: On beginning neck openings when knitting a Norwegian sweater
Once you have cast off the required number of stitches for the front neck opening, and completed that round, you will begin working back and forth from right front neck edge across the back to left front neck edge, shaping the front neck opening by casting off or decreasing stitches only at the beginning of each row. But before you continue with the neck shaping cut the yarns at the end of the last round.
Slip the stitches that will form the left front shoulder of your sweater from the left needle to the right hand needle. You will now be set up to begin and end your rows at the front neck edge. Reattach the yarns and continue working the front and back together. By doing this, you will maintain consistency of your patterning and the colorwork wont be off by one row on the left front shoulder.
Tip 9: Intarsia
Intarsia is the method used to knit simple picture shapes and graphics. Designs are bedoming more sophisticated, intricate and elaborate with the use of multiple colors. Intarsia is distinguished from other forms of color work in that each area of color is knitted using a separate supply of yarn. The interlock, a simple manuever of interlocking the yarns at each color change, is the only adjunct technique needed to knit intarsia designs. The stitches should look as if they just magically change color from one stitch to the next, with no flaw revealing the process of the color change. This technique is fun and is taught in the Intarsia Knitting class.
Tip 10: Stubborn Needle Cord
From time to time, circular needle cords can become stiff and rigid. Here are two easy fixes for this problem.
Try dipping the needle into a cup or bowl of hot water (hot, not luke warm) for about 30 seconds or so. This will soften the cord and make it more pliable.
You can also wrap a moist paper towel around the cord when storing it in its baggie. (This is why many needle baggies have zip-lock seals). The moist towel will help replenish the moisture which may have been sucked out of the cord. The main reason that cords become stiff is due to a lack of moisture.
Tip 11: Sock Toe Closing
When finishing the toe of a sock, put the last few stitches on holders, turn the sock inside out, divide the stitches between two double point needles and with a third needle, bind the stitches off together.
Tip 12: Thick and Thin
Have you noticed that when you compare light and dark yarn within the same type, the dark yarn is thicker than the light yarn? That happens because of the amount of dye used in the yarn. i.e. black always feels thicker than a pastel.
Tip 13: Keeping track of decreases
When decreasing every four rows on a sleeve, use as a row marker, a doubled strand of yarn with four spaced knots tied in it. Each time you pass the marker, move it down one knot. when you get to the fourth knot, it's time to decrease.
Tip 14: Keeping track of increases
Every time you increase on a sleeve or knitted piece, add a knitting pin to the increase stitch. When you lose count of how many times you have increased, just count the number of pins you have pinned on the garment. Saves a lot of time!
Tip 15: Increases
Make One (an increase which slants to the right):
On RS rows, insert LH needle under the horizontal strand between two stitches from back to front, and knit it through the front loop. On WS rows, insert needle under the horizontal strand from back to front and purl it through the front loop.
Make One (an increase which slants to the left):
On RS rows, insert LH needle under the horizontal strand between two stitches from front to back, and knit it through the back loop. On WS rows, insert needle under the horizontal strand from front to back and purl it through the back loop.
Melissa Leapman (Used by permission)
Tip 16: Embroidery with Chain Stitches
If you want to embroider a motif once the knitting is finished, it's often best to use chain stitches. Use a thick, blunt needle and try not to pull the strand of yarn too tightly as you sew. Begin embroidering in the lower right corner of the motif. If the chain stitches have been embroidered correctly, the strands will be horizontal on the wrong side of the garment.
Dale of Norway
Tip 17: Determining Twist Direction
"Spinning twists yarns together. When the twisted yarns spiral runs upwards to the left, it is called an "S" twist; when it runs upwards to the right, it is called a "Z" twist, which is considered standard. Some yarns with a "Z" twist are spun from individual strands which are themselves spun with a "S" twist. Finer yarns are usually more tightly twisted than heavier ones, as they need more twist for strength. The longer the staples are within the yarn, the less twist it needs to hold together." Vogue Knitting
Why is it important to know the direction of the yarn twist? The reason is that if the yarn has a tendency to split open as you knit, you are untwisting the yarn in which it was twisted at the mill. You want to be sure you are knitting with the direction of the twist - then you will not have a problem with splitting.
Tip 18: Felting
When felting any item in your washing machine, Bev Galeskas, the designer guru of felted items, says it is of vital importance to place your knitted item to be felted in an old pillowcase with a zipper. The reason is that the loose fibers can clog the filter of your washing machine.
Tip 19: Knitting yarn with slubs
When you are knitting with a yarn that has slubs that you would like to have show on the outside of your knitted project, always purl when you come to the slub. This will keep you from having to pull the slub to the front later.
Tip 20: Hems
Hems are worked along the edges of garments that are designed to hang loosely from the body. Work the desired depth of hem facing, work one row of one of the following turning rows to create a ridge that marks the hem fold line, then work the body of the garment.
Simple Turning Ridge: Knit one row on the wrong side of the work to create a purl ridge on the right side of the work, which denotes the fold line.
Picot: This forms a decorative and flexible turning row. The turning ridge is worked over an even number of stitches. On the right side: knit 1, *yarn over, knit 2 together; repeat from *, ending with k1.
excerpts from Knitting Companion
Editors Note: (Every knitter should own this small but huge information book which is very portable)
Tip 21: Hemming
Hems can be done several ways. The Backstitch gives an elastic quality to your work. Work it as follows: Insert a threaded tapestry needle through an open loop, catching a stitch on the knitted body, then back through an open loop two stitches down and pull the yarn through. Count back one stitch and repeat.
Knit-in-Hem : This type requires no sewing. Work the hem and turning ridge of your choice. Then continue with the body until it is the same depth as the hem, ending with a wrong-side row. For a regular cast on, use a separate strand of yarn and an extra needle and pick up one loop on the cast-on edge for each stitch on the main needle. Cut the extra yarn. (Alternately, use a smaller knitting needle and simply insert it into one half of the cast-on edge stitch, thereby eliminating the need for extra yarn.) For an invisible cast on, clip out the waste yarn, placing each open loop on an extra needle. For both cases, fold up the hem so that wrong sides are together and the needles are held parallel to each other with the stitches for the main body held in front. Knit one stitch from the front needle together with one stitch from the back needle. Continue across row to secure the hem in place.
excerpts from Knitting Companion
Editors Note: (Every knitter should own this small but huge information book which is very portable)
Tip 22: Spit and splice
This method is used to join a new ball of yarn to your work when knitting with a wool, a wool/mohair, alpaca, cashmere, and angora. This method eliminates having ends to weave in. To splice, untwist about 4 1/2 inches from the ends of both of the old and the new yarns. Cut away half of the plies from each, wet each end of the yarn by putting it in your mouth. (Yes, spit has the enzyme to help splice them together).Then twist them together and rub them together between the palms of your hands until the plies are well twisted. Continue with your knitting. The damp ends will dry and hold fast. This method does not work for superwash wool, cotton, silk, acrylic or any synthetic fiber.
Tip 23: Decreases
Decreases that are usually done
on the right side of your work are: K2tog: a K2 together will slant the stitches to the right. SSK: a ssk (slip, slip, knit) will slant the stitches to the left. It is worked by slipping two stitches knitwise, one at a time, onto the right needle and then insert the left needle into the front of the two slipped stitches and then knit them together.
Decrease that are usually done
on the purl side of your work are: p2tog: purl two stitches together at the same time (right slant) spp: to work this decrease, slip a stitch purlwise, purl the next stitch and then pass the slipped stitch over the purled stitch and off the right needle. (Right slant) p2tog tbl: worked on the purl row by slipping two stitches knitwise, one at a time to the right needle. Return these two stitches to the left needle and then purl these two stitches together as one through the back loops. (Left slant)
Tip 24: Bamboo Yarns
100% bamboo fibers are now being produced driven by the need to use less petroleum. It is an environmentally friendly raw material and is easy to produce because most of it is grown in China, The starchy pulp is refined much like Tencel which takes less time and and less energy. Bamboo has breath ability, avoids absorbing odors, good ventilation, UV protection, is non allergenic, and moisture evaporates easily. The fiber accepts color well, is strong and has a silky luster.
—info from Classic Elite Yarns Newsletter, Spring '05
Tip 25: Band from yarn ball/skein
Always keep the band from the yarn you use. The band has the washing instructions clearly marked (hand wash or machine wash), color number, dye lot number, stitch gauge, needle size, number of yards per ball, fiber content, and whether fiber can be ironed, bleached, dry cleaned. With the label in hand, we are able to find the exact yarn, color and dye lot when you are in need of more.
Tip 26: Three Needle Bind Off
This technique is great for binding off live stitches at the shoulders, toes of socks, or a right side showing seam: With stitches on 2 needles, place right sides together. With third needle *Knit 2 stitches together (1 from front needle and 1 from back needle). Repeat from * once more. With left needle, pass first stitch on right needle over second stitch and off right needle. Repeat knitting 2 together and passing stitch over to end of row.
—The Knitter's Handbook
Note: This handbook is by far the best help book we have seen in 15 years. The illustrations and explanations are great
Tip 27: Save your label
Be sure to save a label from each type of yarn you are using until your project is completely finished. Why is this important? If you do need an additional skein, you must have the same dye lot and it is much easier for the shoppe to find your yarn if we see the label with its color number and lot number. So many people come in with a piece of yarn and expect the shop to know which yarn it is out of over 550 yarns! Also, we have a retailers internet group where we can find yarn for customers. In order to put yarn on this site, we must have the color number and the lot number. SO - START A HELPFUL HABIT - SAVE THOSE LABELS. Thanks!
Tip 28: Stripes that match
When knitting with self-stripe yarn you can knit the stripes to match both fronts, both sleeves, both socks, by pulling out the yarn to the appropriate color to begin the second item with the same color as you started the first piece. Save the yarn you have cut away from the ball just in case you need it to complete the project.
Tip 29: How to reduce pain while knitting
When you indulge in a passion like knitting, you know how easy it is to get caught up in your project that you can go for hours before realizing the time, or even the day for that matter! This persistent oblivious concentration can lead to wrist pain, if you’re not careful.
Here are some suggestions for preventing this type of pain, and if not preventing it, then at least dealing with it when it occurs.
Step One: Posture is extremely important when it comes to doing any type of activity, including knitting. Sometimes there is a temptation to “hunch”, especially if the work is troublesome or demands concentration. To avoid this poor posture, be sure to sit in a chair that keeps your posture upright yet comfortable and relaxed. Do not let your shoulders slouch forward. If possible, the chair should have arms, so that you can rest your elbows comfortably. If you are knitting on a couch, try stacking firm pillows to act as arm rests or purchase a back/armrest combo. The whole objective is to keep your wrists in line with your forearms and not to allow your wrists to bend excessively and repeatedly.
Step Two: Your work should rest comfortably in your lap so you aren’t continuously holding the weight of it. Using circular needles is a great way to take the weight off your wrists and put it back in your lap.
Step Three: If you have wrist or hand pain, take breaks frequently, and use ice in small, 20 minute increments (overuse of ice can be damaging as well). Try periodic breaks to stretch and massage your hands, wrists and fingers. It is also a good idea to purchase good wrist braces that you can wear to bed at night. This isn’t always necessary, but when pain acts up, it is a good way to get the pain under control.
Step Four: Pain can sometimes be managed with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, but this is something that should be discussed with your doctor. If you have severe or persistent pain, you should definitely consult your physician. Remember the old line...? “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Remember the response...? “then stop doing that!”
Can you imagine no longer knitting??
Gasp...Choke...me either! So lets knit in a healthy manner and continue to enjoy our relaxing, stress relieving hobby!
—used by permission Skacel Collection newsletter February 2009
Tip 30: Untwisting "twisted" yarn
Know those great yarns that come already wound around a cardboard tube? While they are great to work with (no pre-winding needed) they can sometimes twist upon themselves while you are knitting. Jan of Knitters Mercantile of Columbus, Ohio, has an easy way to take care of this: when you are at the end of a row, place a rubber band snuggly around the skein, making sure you catch the yarn that is “heading” to your needles. Then, holding on to your needles, drop the skein of yarn (you may need to stand up to make sure the skein does not hit the floor). As the skein hangs, it will untwist but not unwind off the tube. Hold until the skein stops, and you’ll be ready to knit again! (Just make sure you remove the rubber band first!!)
—Used by permission from Knitters Mercantile of Columbus, Ohio
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