About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eileen Fisher Sweater Save?

In the past I've had great success (and savings) repairing Eileen Fisher sweaters, so when I came across an incredible bargain at my TJ Maxx store, I was ready for another save.

A large hole on the right front of this sweater had driven the price down from $298 to $6.  A quick look at the yarn convinced me that the texture would help hide my repairs.  What I didn't see is that this isn't simple stockinette stitch, but a slipped stitch pattern with two yarns - a hand knitting weight black and tan marled yarn and a heavy black thread.  The thread's breaking was what had caused the hole.

A much longer look still didn't leave me with much more insight into the structure of the stitch.  While it was clearly a slip stitch pattern because not every stitch was worked in a row of the black thread, I could not get a sense of any regular pattern, i.e. k1, sl 1 or k2, sl 1, etc.  So, I collected the dropped stitches onto a size US #7 needle, since that seemed about right.  I thought that the length of the yarn strands from the dropped stitches might give me a clue as to how many of the stitches had been knit vs. slipped, again it didn't seem to be a regular pattern.

So, I just kinda re-knit as many stitches as I had yarn to work and recreated the rows up to the point at which the break occurred.  Then I took two strands of a heavy upholstery thread to simulate the original black thread/yarn and worked a Kitchener seam.

In all this maneuvering, I had not found the other end of the broken heavy black thread.  So I continued with my upholstery thread and ran it back and forth through the back of the thick stitches to anchor my repair.  This resulted in a somewhat stiffer fabric, but less concern over future unraveling.  The finished appearance is not seamless with the surrounding fabric, but, as I had determined up front, the heavy texture does help hide the repair.

To test the success I sent the sweater off to my daughter at college since she (and not I) wears an extra small.  She has had it a week with no comments or  questions, so I think it has passed.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Have you ever come across a fabulous designer accessory in a high-end shop and thought, "I am a knitter.  Why would I pay over a hundred dollars for something I could make myself in an evening?"  So you went home and searched Ravelry, certain that there would be many patterns similar to this accessory from which to choose.  Only you discovered that, although this accessory seems so basic in its construction, there was actually no pattern like it.  Which meant that you had to write it yourself.  And maybe other knitters would like it, too, so why not share?

This is the story of PowderPuffs.  To me, the concept of two pompom 'ears' on a chunky headband seemed so obvious that I could not imagine that no one had ever written down instructions to make it.  So I did.  You are welcome.

PowderPuffs is a great stashbuster project.  Designed with super bulky yarn, it can be knit by substituting multiple strands of thinner yarn.

1 strand super bulky = 2 strands bulky = 3 strands worsted = 4 strands dk, etc.

And those multiple strands don't have to be the same color.  Mix strands of different colors for a marled effect.  The brown sample has two shades of brown to give it more depth, and that richer appearance is a better background for the faux fur pompoms.

Of course, it goes without saying this time of year that PowderPuffs makes a great gift.  Sized for toddlers through adults, you could make one for every gal on your shopping list.  Worked in a earthy color, I could also see this suited to the imaginative boy who becomes a bear - polar, brown or black - pick your favorite.

Thanks to my technical editor, Sara Byron, and my test knitters, Katie Carpenter, Katherine Jones and Barb Larson.

And a special thanks to my friend, Mike Lantz, who came up with not only the winning name, but most of the runners up.

Be sure to download your PowderPuffs pattern before midnight on Friday, November 11th while it is at a bargain introductory price - free!  After that date, it will be regularly priced at $3 USD.
Here's the link to the Ravelry page.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Summer of Yarn Bombing

Over the summer I participated actively in Stash Dash and managed to knit down 10,000 meters of high quality yarn.  At the same time, I was active in two yarn bomb projects which resulted in the accumulation of approximately 5,000 meters of cheap acrylic yarn.  At least I am still net negative on stash acquisition.

The first yarn bomb was a project for the free clinic down the road in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  My Wednesday afternoon knitting group created a tree wrap which raised funds through sponsorship.  I worked up a crazy piece of granny square crochet with dangling pompoms, since, why not?  I enjoy crochet, and when I am in the midst of heavy-duty knitting, it is a nice break for my hands.  Linda and Cherie from our group sewed all the pieces together, and off it went in early August.

The second yarn bomb was closer to my heart and home.  Mary, the owner of Knitch, the LYS where our Wednesday group meets, watched the busyness of the free clinic bomb and mused that she would really like to cover the bench outside the shop.  I replied that I was awfully busy at the moment, but maybe in a month or so . . . . and then my wheels began spinning.  A full yarn bomb would be a wonderful way for us to thank Mary for her generous gift of meeting time and space.  And when her staffer, Sally, suggested that we incorporate the yarn bomb into Knitch's tenth anniversary celebration, it was a done deal.

Everyone in both the Wednesday afternoon and Thursday evening groups contributed a bit of knitting or crochet.  Some, like Sue, Katie and Linda, contributed a lot.  And the Thursday night group lent some muscle to both assembling  and installing out bomb.  We covered not only the seat, back and arms of the bench, but the stair railings and building front.  My favorite contribution is the crocheted banner running below the windows.

Surprisingly, we managed to keep this a surprise, and Mary was thrilled.  Now we need to remember to take it down before the first freezing rain of winter . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lessons from Stash Dash 2016

The handspun yarn for these Lowland
hats was a prize at Stitches MW
back when it was in St. Paul, MN!
This past Sunday evening at midnight was the closing of Stash Dash for 2016.  It was thoughtfully timed to conclude with the closing of the Olympics so that any Ravellenics projects could count towards both goals.  For one of these goals, I raced ahead of the pack to the finish, while for the other I didn't make my (secret) goal, but still achieved a personal best.

So what did I learn from my busy summer of knitting?

1.  Stash Dash is about clearing out stash.  This year I dug deep and pulled out some yarns that had been moldering in stash for a decade or more.  One hat I knit from 20 year old stash!  I had less success with a sweater's worth of yarn from a long-ago Michigan Fiber Festival, but maybe inspiration will strike again.

All that was found was a cuff,
but it became a charity hat
 and mitten set.
2.  Stash Dash is about clearing out UFOs.  On a rainy Saturday a few weeks before the start of SD, I pulled out all my UFOs (un-finished objects).  There was quite a pile and some projects were so old they had never been entered in Ravelry.  There were also several that had been 'in progress samples' for classes I had not taught in years.  If they had been started, even just a cuff of a single mitten, my goal was to get them done!  I was very successful in this, generating a big pile of FOs towards #4 and #5.

Only a few stitches left in the bind off
of my Ashburn shawl.  
3.  Preparation is key.  Once I assembled that pile of UFOs, I pulled out the close-to-finished items and got them to very-nearly-almost-finished.  Since to count for SD an item must be actively knit (or crocheted) and not just finished, I made a pile of items awaiting only a few more bound off stitches.  This was the key to hitting over 2K by the end of the first week and 3.2K by the end of the second.

4.  Charity knitting can be used to introduce fun, quick patterns.  I knit two full sweaters during SD and since I am not model sized, they do take time.  Mixing in some charity hats didn't slow my sweater progress too much, but were a nice break.

My pre-Stash Dash pile of UFOs.
5.  Summer is a great time to get a jump on holiday gifting.  I now have several hats, a few mittens/fingerless mitts and even some shawls set aside for presents.

6.  Yarn bombing creates a new stash of Red Heart Super Saver.  This summer I've been working on two different yarn bomb projects.  Since I think a yarn bomb should be all about crazy color, I've purchased more than a few skeins of Red Heart at my neighborhood JoAnn's using the weekly 40% off coupon.  I think that next summer I will set a goal to knit down this new stash, perhaps by working up a bunch of charity Mother Bears.

So what was my final Stash Dash 2016 total?  11, 703 meters.  Pretty respectable for just knit and crochet projects with no spinning or weaving.  But . . . perhaps I'll start now on that scrappy sock blanket with a deadline of next Memorial Day?

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Already Fall!

#21 Cable Detail Vest by Theresa Schabes
from Vogue Knitting, Early Fall, 2016
Copyright Soho Publishing
Well, it is already fall in the publishing world with the release of Vogue Knitting's Early Fall issue featuring my Multi-directional cabled vest design.

This vest was inspired by a ready-to-wear piece that featured multiple zippers as well as multiple directions.  Since many knitters shy away from installing zippers, I substituted bands of braided cables as the decorative trim.  On the back I traveled the cables diagonally up so that they create a flattering moving line.  On the front of the vest they are not only decorative but functional, as they form the opening of the pocket bag.

As with my recent Silk Garden swing cardi, this vest begins by knitting the back, and then the two front pieces are picked up from the side edge and worked vertically around to center front.  The only seam to be sewn is a short shoulder seam, and that is worked mid-project before the collar is completed.

I love the way the VK folks styled the vest with neutral pieces and a neutral background.  Really happy with this project!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Are You Ready for Stash Dash?

It's the time of year where the avid knitter (or crocheter or spinner or tatter or weaver) gears up for Stash Dash. " What's Stash Dash?" the uninitiated might ask.  SD is the brainchild of Leslie and Laura, and their very popular video podcast, The Knit Girlls, Laura works as a middle school librarian, and so with summers off work, she needed to go a little insane with knitting.  And to quantify that insanity, they started SD.  The objective of SD is to clear out some stash and finish off some lingering projects.  All projects completed during the summer are totaled by the number of meters and entered into a category - 3K, 5K, 7K, 10K or 15K.  (See the full rules here.)

My one linger large project - Skyliner crochet skirt.
Unless you have hands that move like lightning and no fear of carpal tunnel, the way to get high meterage is by finishing projects.  Even if you only knit one row and bind off, all the meters for the project are included towards your total.  This is great for the procrasti-knitter with piles of UFOs.  For the more devious, it's an excuse to work your projects almost to the end and then put them aside until May 27th.

Last year I made it to 10K, but that was with the advantage of a crochet afghan which was well underway.  This year I only have one large lingering project, so I will be burning my wrists to get to that total again.

Here's a review of the smaller projects which will jump start my total:

My Passerine Hat which was worked up to the last row just this morning.  It desparately needs blocking, but will wait until the 27th.

These fingerless mitts were almost done, and then, for an unknown reason, yanked from the needles and set aside.  They are knit a little loosely for my taste, but with a little time investment they will be a good contribution to both charity and my SD total.

I've also got a couple mystery projects.  What?  Who?  Why?  I'll make a guess and finish them off.
 I've got some design work to do this summer, and for the first time in years I am going to knit a sweater for my husband.  Since this is my year to conquer sock knitting, I should have a few of those in the pile, too.

Goo luck to all the contestants in this year's race.  To the starting gate, ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

This One is Mine

In my last post I told the story of how I knit two very similar sweaters.  Today is the story of how I knit a third.

This was my very first published design that I knit for myself.  It's not that I didn't like my other sweaters.  Or that they weren't fun to knit or flattering designs.  It just that once you've knit a sweater to fit a model, re-knitting it to fit a regular human body with a chest measurement of upwards of 40" is a long slog.  And you also don't have the page-turning mystery of how it will turn out.  The beans have been spilled.

But this one is different.  I really love the shape.  With the angled side edges, the front pieces flare back to create a very flattering v-neck.  And, since it is a modular construction with each piece building off the previous pieces, it's a fun puzzle with no nasty seams.  And, I just happened to have a bag of Silk Garden Lite that had been marinating in my stash for just long enough to be ready to knit.

I've been really astonished about the reaction to this sweater.  Everybody wants to try it on, and, once checked in the mirror, everybody wants their own.  I'll be leading a knit-along at my LYS, Knitch, in Delafield, Wisconsin, beginning later in May.  Give them a call for details or leave me a comment.