Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review of Knit Swirl by Sandra McIver

I drove for an hour to a yarn shop that was hosting Sandra McIver author of Knit Swirl. She had most of the coats and jackets from the book available to try on. It was fascinating and wonderful to be able to see how each one fit and figure out which one was your own personal choice as a “first knit” since I can see that after knitting one you will want to knit more. I had a hard time choosing but I finally picked two and maybe three that I plan to make. Five years of work went into the development of creating the concept of the rounded jacket structured as Sandra McIver pictured it in her mind. Knit from the outside in and creating the shaping by decreases.

My dilemma is that I have two baby blankets, two shawls a coat and a Kimono and an almost finsih jacket on my needles right now and I really need to finish all of them before starting anything else. I wish I could knit faster and nothing else to do all day. So many projects and so little time, Sadly I won’t be starting my swirl just yet although I have picked out my yarn.

If you have been following my blog I made a similar type jacket a few years ago. That one was knit in two pieces, a circle and rectangle and then put together. This also had very little seaming but I have to admit that after trying on the Knit Swirl I think the fit and shaping is nicer. My original pattern came from a Korean company Zaol that is now out of business and the pattern was offered for free on the internet but is no longer available. The circle was knit using short rows which I find fun and easy but it took a while to knit the whole circle and the rectangle was simple and straight but a bit boring. I wasn’t entirely happy with the sleeves as the cuffs were a bit wide but after looking at the Swirls I have an idea of what to do to fix the problem.

The Swirl is knit all in one piece and has one seam to sew when you are finished. You cast on an enormous amount of stitches and work from the outside in. The beginning of the swirl is slow knitting because of all the stitches but as you decrease it goes faster and faster and then you get to the center where you bind off part of the circle leaving a center section knit the back and sleeves flat. The book diagrams and explains everything so that even a beginning knitter can handle this if they are okay with working so many stitches. The patterns are knit in a series of welts that you keep track of by just counting. You mark the beginning and end of the circle with a colored marker.

There are two basic shapes, a circle and an oval which are either centered or off center centered which means the opening is in the center which creates a larger collar and or off center (more near the top) which makes the collar and lapels more narrow. The off center oval makes a longer back and there is even a very short bolero style perfect for a summer jacket. The patterns are offered in 3 sizes, small medium and large. According to my measurements I would be a small but as I tried on the samples I quickly decided that I liked the slightly larger jackets with more overlap room so I will be knitting a size two. With each pattern she tells you what yarns were used for the samples and how much yardage. All are knit in worsted weight yarn on #8 needles but you will need a cord length of at least 40 inches to start in order to accommodate all the cast on stitches, over 600. She explains how to use two balls of yarn for your cast on. There were lots of women in the store all trying on the jackets and it was interesting to see that they looked good on everyone, short, tall, thin, heavy with large bust or small.

After trying them all I decided that I would either knit a longer coat called Silken Dreams, knit in Tilli Tomas yarn with beads that is a bit more dressy since the alternating welts are knit with a beaded yarn. or Copper Collage. I have some red merino/silk in my stash if I decide to make this one. The third one that I thought I might like called Silhouette In the Sun. I will be anxious to learn which ones you like the best.

I hope some of you get the book and knit a Swirl for yourself .

Monday, July 11, 2011

Finding the best Basic Yarn

In Search of the Perfect Basic Yarn

We all love the speicaly yarns that our eye is drawn to when we are looking at yarn but often they sit in your stash because after purchasing them you aen’t sure what to make using them. It seems that mot of the time I find a pattern with some interest and what I need is basic yarn in solid colors. Every company seems to have them but many are expensive, put up in small balls and require lots of balls which equals lots of money.

I have been searching for the perfect all around yarn. The go to yarn when you want something basic. I looked for something that would have a good feel, nice memory and easy care. My final vote is Ella Rae Classic and Ella Rae Amity.

Classic is a wonderful basic wool yarn that will meet your every need. Both knit at about the same gauge.

Amity has a touch of wool , 25% but is mostly acrylic, 75%. Has great yardage at 200 yards per skein and knits up on a # 8 or #9 US needle. It is great for sweaters for the whole family babies included, scarves, afghans and blankets, hats , gloves and just about anything you can think of.
It knits up with a really good look and feel and doesn’t pill.

The yarn comes in both sold and heathers and at $5.00 a skein is a real bargain. A baby blanket will take about 3 or 4 if you are making it bigger and adult sized afghan will take 8-10 depending on the finished In my opinion this yarn is wonderful for all your basic sweaters especially if you want to show off our stitch pattern and for everyone in your family.


Fiber: 75% Acrylic, 25% Wool
Yardage: 200
5 Stitches = 1 inch Needle size: 8 US

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Shawls

I had shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff injury that I suffered with for about a year after stupidly tripping in my kitchen. While I have been able to knit getting dressed is entirely another story.
It is difficult to get most things on and not much that goes over my head. My left arm is in a sling and since I am only able to use one arm getting a sweater on or off becomes a real workout. I quickly realized that a light weight shawl was the most practical piece of clothing in my closet but I wanted to have many different ones that would co-ordinate with my clothes and cover up my sling. After making several like the first one on this blog I was ready to design my own. Each one that I made was really nice but I wanted a top down with more or a natural drape over the shoulders and one that stay there becuse again it putting it on is still a bit of a challenge. I set to work designing exactly what I wanted and the result is the June Clouds Shawl which I have uploaded to Ravelry. It knits up with about 450 yards of light weight fingering or sock yarn and the interesting ribbed ruffle finishes the edge nicely. I have been experimenting with a variety of yarns and I am about to mke one using Tillie Tomas Sock yarn. Many of the sock yarns come in multicors and while that makes up in a very interesting pattern I also found that I needed solids. I will be casting a new one during the holiday weekend with the Tillie Tomas yarn and will post pictures as soon as i have enogh on my needles to show off my work.