About Woolly Wits

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

'Bye to the Bling



Shall we say goodbye to the accessories?

This thread began last week as I recorded the sweaters I have knit that are moving out of my life.  Time to purge.  These were class samples, out-grown, or in a style I no longer admire.  Yes, it is hard to let go of hand-made projects, but it you don't get rid of what you no longer desire, there is no room to bring in what you now want.

 This pillow was created as a sample for a class that never ended up running.  It was inspired by the bag I contributed to the Bag Style book - a combination of knitting and weaving.  The yarn is a Donegal tweed,so it does not make for a comfy pillow.  My decor has also moved away from blues and greens, so this need to move along, too.
The next item was a good time while it lasted.  One of the first classes I taught was on this original design - a shoulder wrap done in a multitude of novelty yarns.  One of my students wore hers to a wedding and had another guest buy it right off her shoulders - one of my best compliments, ever.  But, my version has never been work by me as peach and yellow are not - and never have been - my colors.




 Another decorative wrap that is going away is my first real crochet project.  I worked this up sitting on the beach in Douglas, Michigan.  As my first crochet project, I spent as much time staring at the photo as in reading the directions.  Little did I know that is often the case with crochet.  There are more options as to where you can put your next stitch than you can clearly describe in written text.  The yarn is a variegated chainette bamboo that was left over from my much-worn feather-and-fan skirt.  I was so proud of this little poncho - but I've only worn it maybe twice.
 Next up are my double-knit belts.  These were fun little projects for a class I taught several times.  But, I haven't taught it in years, and haven't worn any belt in longer than that!  The top belt was worked in a (now discontinued) ultrasuede-like Berocco yarn.  The bottom belt is in Rowan Denim.


 This linen stitch scarf was a more recent project.  This was not my own design, but from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Linen stitch is very dense, so the knit goes very slowly.  This scarf is a reject because, although I like my scarves long, this one is way too long.  Here it's folded in half with a loose loop at the neck - and it still hangs below crotch length.  The yarn is a combination of a solid, a variegated, and one with long color changes.  The latter led to some cool effects, including a lime green stripe running vertically down the center of the scarf.  But, it was never worn.  This scarf will go to the Madison Knitter's Guild charity project.


Last is another set of class samples, this time of Kirsten Johnstone's sev[en] circle.  An oldie by a goodie.  Although I wear a lot of necklaces, scarves and cowls, I seldom wore these.  Both were knit from sock yarn, and that's about all I can remember about the yarn.

 Next week we'll move onto new stuff.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Goodbye, Old Friends

The spring purge struck hard this year.  Our new home in Wisconsin is slowly being updated, and, as a result, most of the knick-knacks and clutter have remained in their moving boxes.  And, I have come to realize, those boxes should never be unpacked.  I am enjoying the clean, fresh look of our new home and need to send accumulated bits and bob onto to new homes.

This applies to the knitwear, too.  I have hung on to nearly all my hand knit sweaters.  In the past I could justify this as many were class samples.  But, now that I am focusing my teaching on larger events and not my local yarn shop, the samples can go.  But, before they make their way out, I thought I would memorialize them here, as all of them are pre-Ravelry.  (Or at least before I started logging my projects there.)
Lovesme_small2
. . .  Loves Me. . .
Knitter's Magazine #84

Today, the sweaters.



This first sweater has sentimental value, as it was my first published design in Knitter's Magazine.  To celebrate, I worked my own version in Cascade 220.  I think I wore it twice.  The fit was good, but I just do not care for worsted weight sweaters.  It also no longer fits, so it is easy to let it go.



This next sweater is a class sample.  It's the Faith Jacket from Sally Melville from The Knitting Experience:  Book 3.  This is a great design for beginner knitters with lots of skill-building opportunity.  Unfortunately, it's another worsted weight yarn (a thick-and-thin spun Malabrigo)  It is also very over-sized and lacking good drape.  So, out it goes.











Next on the hit list is a real oldie.  This is a Rowan Denim cardi to which I made significant alterations.  Can't remember what they were, but I know I did.  This is the sweater I would be most like to be wearing - of only it fit.  (Here's a hint - any sweater photographed on the gray mannequin no longer fits.  My body is now plus-sized mannequin, for sure.)



This little rib warmer was a popular pattern at Knitche.  Several of us knit it.  Can't remember the name of the pattern, but I think the yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight.

And last, but not least, is Elizabeth Zimmerman's rib warmer.  This was another class sample, which you can tell since the paper tag is still hanging off it.  No longer my size, no longer my colors.  Bye.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Snoop Shopping

My snoop shopping trip
Last week I gave you some guideline for choosing sweater patterns to flatter your figure.  Why?  Because after investing your time and money in a hand knit sweater, you should be happy thrilled with the results.  But, these guidelines are theoretical until you actually test them on you.  And, the fastest and cheapest way to do that is with . . .

snoop shopping.

You are going to hit the stores, but leave your wallet at home.  The goal is to try on all kinds of styles and test the rules.  Pick sweaters you think will be flattering AND sweaters you think will be awful  – you might be surprised.

So, where should I snoop shop?  Department stores have lots of variety, which cuts down on the number of trips to the dressing room.  Or, you can go to a shop where you know you like the styles, although that may limit your opportunities to explore new options.  I recommend that you be aspirational and snoop even where you can’t afford to buy.  Why snoop shop at the Gap when you can buy a sweater there for less than the price of the yarn.  Too depressing!  If you do shop at a higer end store, dress nicely for good service.  Shopping on a good hair day and putting on a little make-up (if you wear it) will also take the focus off you and on the sweaters. 

What do you need to bring to the store?
·         Camera / Cell phone
·         Measuring tape
·         Optional:
·                 Gauge check tool
·                 Paper and pencil

What do you need to wear to the store?
·         A good bra
o   If you need a new one, that should be your first stop at the mall
o   With the girls boosted up into place, you will look slimmer
·         Thin camisole or tank top
·         If you are trying on bottoms along with sweaters . . .
o   Shoes that slip on and off easily

When you arrive to shop, grab all kinds of sweaters to try.  And, try other garments for their style lines.  Sweatshirts are great as a test, because their weight simulates a knitted fabric.  Once you find a style you like, take photos of you wearing the sweater: 
·         front and back views
·         special details
·         pattern stitches

Also capture the garment tag information – especially the fiber content.  If you are trying on a sweater, check the gauge.  

The paper and pencil were optional tools for you to bring because you can capture sizing information with your camera.  Take a large photo to see what is being measured and then zoom in close to read the tape measure.  

When you get home, relax and put your feet up.  Look at your photos.  I’ve found it’s much easier for me to be objective looking at a photo than in a mirror.  Hopefully you found some sweaters that made you feel good – and followed the guidelines.  Note any trends in your preferences, so that you can then use those to highlight in future Ravelry pattern searches. 

One last bit of work is remaining, and it is math.  Simple math.  An important component of your happiness in a sweater is its ease.  Ease is the difference between your body measurement and the garment’s measurement.  More ease gives you a baggy, relaxing fit, and less ease (even negative ease) will give you a Hollywood starlet va-va-va-voom fit.  To calculate ease, subtract your measurement from the sweater’s measurement.  Ease is usually calculated at the bust, but can also be a factor at the hip or upper arm.  The amount of ease will change based on the gauge of the sweater.  Bulkier knits need more and finer knits less, so be sure to note that. 

Now you’ve got lots of information on the design details which flatter your body, and the amount of ease you like in your garments.  Take this to Ravelry and start the hunt for your perfect sweater.

Monday, April 27, 2015

More Help Finding Your Perfect Pattern


On Friday I posted notes from my presentation on finding a perfect knitting pattern for your figure.  Those highlighted the general rules for dressing to dress taller and thinner.  I am going to continue on with guidelines for specific body issues, such as large or small shoulder, bust, hips, etc.  



Peek-2_small2
Peek by Kim Hargreaves
Some Specific Body Issues To Consider:

·         Thick/Short Neck
o   look for designs with strong vertical lines
o   wear open necklines like v-neck, scoops and slits
o   avoid turtlenecks – mock or regular
·         Thin/Long Neck
o   add bulk with turtlenecks and full collars
o   avoid open necklines
o   wear high collars or turn up your collar
·         Broad Shoulders
o   wear unstructured tops to soften shoulder line
o   deep necklines like v-necks and scoops distract
o   diagonal lines from raglans and halters also interrupt the strong horizontal
o   wear tank tops to cut shoulder  line
·         Narrow Shoulders
o   add width with horizontal lines
o   wear boat neck and off-the-shoulder styles
o   saddle shoulder
o   epaulets add volume
o   be careful of deep necklines – they may fall off
·         Full Upper Arms
o   wear sleeves!
o   wear loose-fitting sleeves
o   avoid cap sleeves
o   sleeve should end below fullness of arm.
o   wear off-the-shoulder tops to distract from arms
·         Large Bust
o   wear minimal texture and pattern over bust
o   necklines:  v-necks, scoops
o   wear wrap tops
o   diagonals will emphasize your curves
o   wear small collars
·         Small Bust
o   wear lots of texture,  pattern and color over bust
o   you can wear horizontal stripes
o   diagonals will emphasize the curves you have
o   enjoy wearing spaghetti straps, halters and other styles which don’t accommodate a heavy-duty bra
·         Long Waist
o   create the illusion of raising your waist and lengthening your legs
o   wear garments below hip length to disguise the fact that your legs are proportionately short
o   wear one color from waist to toe
o   layer your tops
·         Short Waist
o   lengthen the torso by wearing Empire waists (just below the bust)
o   OR put emphasis at hips 
o   don’t tuck in tops
o   wear vertical stripes
o   be professionally fitted for a  quality bra  to hoist up the girls
§  it will give more space between bust and waist
·         Poochy Belly
o   wear Empire waistlines
o   wear sweaters with ruching across belly
o   wear tops long and untucked
·         Broad Hips & Thighs
o   tops should end above or below your widest point
o   wear lots of color, pattern and texture on top – even horizontal stripes
o   you may have to adjust patterns and knit for a larger size on bottom and smaller size on top
·         Narrow Hips & Thighs
o   bring focus below the waist with pattern or texture
o   keep tops simple

o   go for structure rather than drape

Remember that this figures issues have to be considered in combinations, and that some combinations frequently go together.  For example, women with larger busts usually also have fuller upper arms.  (If the larger bust was genetically granted, that is.)  Normally these guidelines will not conflict, but you may end up with a long list of criteria to satisfy.  Where they do conflict, you will have to choose elements to highlight your best features and downplay those with which you are less comfortable.

In the presentation I go on to discuss snoop shopping, and how to use it to test these rules on your real body.  Those notes will be up next.






Friday, April 24, 2015

Pick Your Perfect Pattern

1_vkf12_pearl_003_small2
Wedding Dress by Nicky Epstein
Vogue Knitting, Fall 2012

This Tuesday evening I will be speaking at the Windy City Knitting Guild in Chicago.  My talk will be an updated version of my 'What Not to Knit' talk.  Mary Coen and I started giving this program when knitters found patterns through magazines and books.  In the post-Ravelry knitting world, we now have more patterns available to us than we could ever see - almost 112,000 garment patterns as of this morning.  So, instead of asking "does this pattern work for me?", the challenge is now to use Ravelry search features to find the designs that potentially do work for you.  

The first section of my talk is the general rules for choosing sweaters to make you look longer and leaner.  I am presenting those notes here to save hands from cramping and trees from the chainsaw. You are, of course, without my well-chosen photographic examples as well as my witty insights, but that is for the audience that drags themselves to the Sulzer Library on Tuesday evening.

The basic rule of looking taller and thinner:  
create vertical lines.
           
How?  Move the eye up and down the length of the body
  • One color head-to-toe
  • Vertical stripes
  • Vertical design elements, such as button bands
  • Necklines: scoop, slit, unbuttoned cardigans    
  • A trim fitting, v-neck cardigan can be the most slimming sweater you knit                
Noro_12_047_small2
Design by Theresa Schabes
from Knit Noro book
Diagonal lines:  also great for thinning and shaping
  • Wrap sweaters
  • Diagonal patterning
  • Necklines: v-neck, shawl collar 
Horizontal lines:  they move the eye across the body and widen you!
  • For most women, horizontal stripes create the single most unflattering garments.
  • Wear horizontal stripes where you want to look broader.
  • Horizontal lines can be worn to emphasize the narrowest part of you.
  • Necklines: crew, boat neck, turtleneck 
How else to look longer and thinner?

Fitted shapes hug your curves!
  • Garments close to the body emphasize the vertical
  • Boxy, oversize shapes make you look boxy and oversize
Thinner yarns are more flattering than bulky yarns
  • Smaller gauge garments will drape and cling
  • Big gauge garments add inches and tend to be boxy
Along the same lines, watch out for texture
  • Smooth stitch patterns, such as stockinette, as more slimming
  • Highly textured stitches, such as cables, will add bulk
Watch your armholes!
  • Set in sleeves are more fitted and therefore more flattering
  • Drop shoulders create excess fabric and bulk at sides
  • Dolmans also leave extra fabric to make you look wider
  • Saddle shoulders can create a strong horizontal element at shoulder
  • Raglan sleeves create a diagonal design line. 
Do you wear your clothes or do they wear you? 
Avoid ‘high concept’ garments which attract attention without flattering you.
  • This includes holiday motif sweaters.  
A word on pattern scale -
  • Shorter, smaller boned women should stick with small scale patterns.
  • Taller, bigger boned women can wear bolder patterns. 
And, beware of . . .
Bobbles – they can make you look diseased

Motif placement – they shouldn’t be centered on your breasts or other areas which you might not want brought into focus

Friday, April 17, 2015

End-to-End

This weekend I will be teaching a new class, End-to-End, at YarnCon.  The class covers several techniques for avoiding knots, such as spit-splicing and the Russian join, as well as tips on knots for when they are the better option.

As an easy reference for my students, I am listing links below to tutorials for the techniques we'll be discussing.  I plan to keep these updated, so please let me know if you have an issue either with the link, or with the quality of the tutorial.

Spit-Splice
Russian Join
Invisible Braided Join (one color)
Invisible Braided Join (changing colors)
Magic Knot
Square Knot
Surgeon's Knot
Weaving in Ends As You Go

Friday, April 10, 2015

CodaChrome-tastic!


Back in February I taught at the Madison Knitter's Guild Knit-In.  It was my first teaching gig since moving to Wisconsin at the end of August, but I felt very welcome and appreciated by my students.  One of my classes was Intro to Entrelac, which got me thinking about some variations on entrelac knitting.  One of those ideas was combining entrelac with a gradient yarn.  While entrelac and yarns with long color changes, such as Noro, have had a long and illustrious history, entrelac and gradients were an idea which seemed unexplored, at least according to Ravelry.

 So, at the Knit-In marketplace I approached Jaala Spiro of knitcircus yarns with my idea.  Without a moment's hesitation she handed my a gorgeous ball of her Calliope gradient yarn in the Race to the Cookie Jar color way.  With a little math involved to make the most of this single ball, I came up with the CodaChrome cowl.  The name is a nod to both the beautiful colors and the musical inspiration of the yarn name.

The cowl will be making its debut at Chicago's YarnCon next weekend where Jaala will have kits available.  I will be teaching two classes on Saturday - End-to-End (new) and The Thrifty Knitter (second outing) - but will be hanging around her booth when not in class.  Hope to see you there!