Friday, December 12, 2014

Quick Holiday Project Fun

As I work on my new shawl design, I keep taking one day or one afternoon breaks to make quick knit or crochet projects for the holidays.  These are things that just take an hour or three but you get the buzz of accomplishment.  Here are some of the ones I've done so far:

A manly cowl adapted from the 1-Hour Herringbone Cowl.  This one took more than an hour but still I finished it in an afternoon.

Gecko bookmarks for the Homeless Garden Project store.  I did two in two hours, while chatting, so they are pretty fast.   I did these at a charity stitching event.  (All the other items were made by other stitchers at the charity event!)

Infinity cowl-- this one took a few hours, but once you do the set up round, it's mindless and easy!

Simple headscarf, slightly adapted from Calorimetry,  I did this in about three hours.

And finally more charity stitching goodness from our group.  I made one of the stockings (two hours with chatting), the two massaging soap holders (right hand side, about an hour each) and the crocheted cuffs/bracelets (about an hour each).

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Yesterday, I submitted my first proposal for a knitting design to a company.  I thought I probably needed a logo for my designs and came up with this:

Heddi Craft Designs Logo.png

What do you think?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Day, New Design

I was having trouble getting starting on a new project of any size and decided that the raspberry shawl was still bugging me.  So I did a few more swatches and I think I've come up with some good border bits, though I'm still thinking on it.  But while I was doing that, I found two patterns that could combine to make what I thought would be a really lovely border.  So now I'm working frantically on this brand new thing and the raspberry shawl is languishing again.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Tale of Two Curling Edges

This curly mess is a new shawl/cowl that I've been working on instead of reworking the Raspberry shawl.  It's called Verdu and is worked in the round with my last skein of the now discontinued semi-solid Daidem yarn from Knit Picks.  I was imagining a sort of stretchy, deep cowl that I could pull round my shoulder like a shawl, but even before I cast on, I realized I only had enough yarn to make a cowl.  No problem, I thought, maybe it would still make a skinny thing to go around my neck and I can test the pattern for a deeper one later.  Plus, as I started in I got the stripes I was so surprised about last time I used this yarn.  It looks just mottled on the skein and in a ball, but when you start to knit, distinct lines of color show up.  The first few color changes were at ideal points, the next few, not so much.

I noticed the bottom edge was curling as I knit up, but things got quite shocking when I cast off, as you can see.  I couldn't even put the thing around my shoulders because the curl was so pronounced.

I went online wondering why the mad curling had happened and found my exact situation on the ever-wonderful TechKnitting blog (here quoted at length):
The chain of logic behind non-curling stitch bands is this: the garment designer notices, correctly, that stockinette stitch curls like mad, but that garter stitch (seed stitch, ribbing etc.) does not curl or flip. "Ah ha!" says the designer, "I will put a garter stitch band on this stockinette item I am designing, and then the stockinette fabric will be tamed, and the garment edge will not flip or curl."  
This is a logical conclusion, and, in fact, garment edge itself will not curl up. However, that does not mean that the GARMENT will not curl up. As disappointed knitters in knitting forums all over the internet can testify, the most likely result of a garter stitch band on a stockinette stitch garment is that the bands either flip up, or the whole garment continues to curl, taking the "non curling edge" right along with it.
Solutions: Reworking the pattern edges, blocking the heck out of it (in progress as I write), and careful application of steam, heat, and/or pressure.  (For other types of garments there are a few more, but these are the ones that would work for my project.  Find the full discussion on TechKnitting.)

Moral:  The more I learn, the more I need to learn.

Updated:  Aggressive blocking does seem to minimize the curl but I think it will return while wearing.  Another possible fix is adding garter stitch ridges before and after the ripple sections in the design itself.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Making Knitting Charts in Google Sheets

I've been using a program to make charts on my iPad using an app that is no longer available, so even though it's still on my iPad, I've been looking at other options for how to make knitting charts.  I work primarily with an iPad and with a Chromebook, so Windows software for charting isn't really an option and neither is a graphics program like Illustrator.  I came across some articles like this one about how to use Excel to make charts.  Well, I don't have Excel either, but I do have Google Sheets.

The first step was making the grid in Google Sheets into even squares.  It turns out if you click on the box in the upper left hand corner you can manipulate the size of all the rows or columns at once.  However, you are just doing it by eye.  There was no way I found to specify how to change all the rows to a specific size at the same time.

So after adjusting back and forth a bit, I would back out and select one row or column and check how many pixels wide or tall it was by two finger tapping on the column and then picking the "Resize column (or row)..." option on the menu that pops up.  That would tell me the current size of the column or row and then I would go back and adjust until they were the same pixel height and width.  With everything still selected, I went to "Format-- Align" and made sure the alignment was centered left to right and top to bottom.

Next problem, no special symbols menu in Google Sheets.   I opened a regular Google Document and went to "Insert-- Special Characters..." and picked symbols for the common stitches I use in charts.  I copied and pasted those in a row across the top of my grid paper spreadsheet.  I can copy and paste them onto the squares as needed.

Here is a copy of what I did that you can use to get started.  Just click on the link and the sheet will open up.  You can make a copy to edit it.

So now I can more quickly make charts from written patterns because in a spreadsheet I can copy and paste repeats and rows and motifs.  You can see an example below.  This is a chart of the Pendants pattern from the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker.  You can see the little arrows I used to mark the beginning of the repeats.  The charts could be transferred to a pattern by taking a screenshot and editing in a web based program like Pixlr.

Friday, September 26, 2014


I'm about 25 rows into knitting the raspberry shawl and I'm starting to feel worried about the balance of open space from the center panel to the wings.  It's a little hard to judge unblocked.

However, the transitions I created for the wings get more airy before they get less airy, so it's just going to get more open.  One problem in creating charts is that on paper, more symbols look "heavier" and less symbols look "lighter" when, in fact, with lace the opposite is often true.  

I really like how the center panel has been designed and I'm excited about the short row point.  In fact, I even love my transitions between three related patterns for the wings.  They might very well make a great shawl on their own, without a center panel.  But I'm beginning to think the two don't fit together well.  I've become rather brutal about frogging things that aren't working for me in yarn.  I have a rather large bin of half finished quilting projects that will probably never see the light of day because they stopped working at some point.  It's empowering somehow when working with yarn that you can reclaim your fiber!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Center Panel Shawl Update: Not as easy as I hoped

Five techniques later from The Principles of Knitting, and I was no closer to finding a short row method that made a nice point for my next shawl.  So off to the next resource, the internet, where I found this lovely gem:
The Fleegle Symmetrical Short Row--No Wraps, No Holes, No Hassles

And now I have a sample that looks like this:

This swatch is basically the very bottom tip of the shawl with only a portion of the
center panel design, two tiny corners of the wings of the shawl, and a bit of border.

Fleegle's system creates a bit of a change of direction of the stitches along the point, but no unsightly holes and no major disruption on the front or the back.  It has a tricky bit where you knit or purl into the stitch below, but I think it's worth the effort.  

Now the next question, do I like where the center panel design ends or would I rather it be pushed now into the point a bit more?  Basically that's a question of would the eye like a balance amount of white space (or raspberry heather space, in the case of this yarn) or would the extra fabric near the point pull your eye down in a pleasing way?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Short Rows and The Principles of Knitting

The new shawl I'm designing has a center panel that I want to come down to a point before adding the border.  I think I'm going to try this doing short rows, but a quick swatch test showed me that wrap and turn short rows were going to be painful in lace weight yarn.

So off to my studio for the huge tome, The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt.  If you've never seen this 700 page book (I have the revised edition), you really should track it down.  Hiatt is the geeky-ist of geeks when it comes to knitting.  She has five different techniques for creating short rows, plus variations on those techniques!

You have to get used to some of the language in this book.  When she wrote it in 1988, knitting wan't as big as it is today.  She uses some non-standard terms compared to those in popular use today.  (For instance, she uses "inside" and "outside" instead of "right side" and "wrong side.")  However, this book has just about everything you ever wanted to know about anything having to do with knitting-- and many ways to do it!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ocean Waves Stole Reflections

I finally finished the Ocean Waves shawl that I was designing and have uploaded the free pattern to Ravelry and to Craftsy.

My goal was to make a fully reversible shawl design that showed off and worked with the color changes in hand dyed yarn and I think that I succeeded.  The first problem was finding reversible stitch patterns that looked similar on both sides.  I settled on a modified version of the Old Shale Lace pattern where an equal number of rows of knits or perls alternate with a the lacy row that gives the pattern it's curves.  That was kind of dull by itself so I then looked for a textured pattern that was also reversible.  After looking through all my stitch dictionaries, a web search for reversible knitting patterns took me to the pattern for the Crown Stitch.  I modified this pattern slightly so that it, too, looked the same on either side.  and put them together.

This shawl is knitted lengthwise so that the color changes wrap around your body rather than going up and down the back,

I originally thought I might add some small fish beads to accentuate the idea of an ocean, but they were ultimately too heavy and too large for the pattern.

In designing the shawl, I knit until I ran out of yarn, so this pattern would work well for an unknown amount of yarn.  There are two stopping places in the 34 row repeat.  It could also be knit wider or narrower by adding or subtracting groups of 80 stitches from the cast on row.  Why 80 stitches?  The crown stitch takes groups of five stitches to complete and the waves of knits and perls are groups of 16 stitches plus 17 for the ends.  Turns out the multiples of five that work for both come every 80 stitches.

At some point I will knit at least some swatches of this pattern in different weights of yarn.  I think that the pattern could be modified for a variety of uses-- blanket, cushion, scarf, etc.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


A couple of weeks ago I grafted together the ends of the cowls for my BFF Cowl project.  It turns out to be nearly impossible to graft anything together that has a mix of knits and purls but I did my best.

I don't think you'd be able to see the errors from a galloping horse, which for something I'm not putting in a competition is a good rule of thumb.

I found that I got completely lost trying to read and follow standard written grafting directions.  They just make my head hurt.  But if I look at the diagrams in directions like this and then just tell myself where my needle should go to get knit stitches or purl stitches, then I do ok.  Not perfect, but ok.  This might be a result of being a very visual person.  It's like doing the long tail cast on, who can figure out these directions until you feel them in your hands?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hopping into April with Daisy the Bunny

Last night I couldn't knit another round on the sleeves.  I had the desire to see something FINISHED, so I started this little guy while dinner was baking and finished him today.  I love knitting, but crochet often calls me back.  Crochet just seems so quick to me and I can read a pattern effortlessly.  And the few times I made an error and had to rip back-- you just tug and one stitch at a time comes out and when you've "erased" the problem you just start up again.  So much easier than tinking away on a knitting project!  So thank you Lyon Brand Yarn for this free and cute project!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two at a Time... Sleeves!

I'm making sleeves for my Alison Pullover.  After all the work on the body of a sweater, the sleeves seem like they should fly by, but I swear they take almost as long as the sweater body.  One thing that slows me down a bit is using the two at a time Magic Loop method.  I learned how to do this from this excellent post on Jimmy Beans Wool.  You have to keep going back and forth between two balls of yarn and readjust the sleeves on the cable.  The first couple of rows are hard as the knitting doesn't have a lot of weight and you have to be very careful as you pick up each sleeve that you don't turn them into mobius strips.  After a while, the rhythm starts to flow, but there's no getting around all that shifting on the needles and dropping and picking up a new yarn every twenty-some stitches.   The good thing is, though, you finish both sleeves at the same time!

While I'm talking about sleeves, here's my homemade hook on stitch counter.  It is a stitch counter that is supposed to go over the end of a knitting needle, only  I took an endpin (used to make dangle earrings) and beaded it so that the stitch counter fit between two largish beads.  I twisted the end into a loop and attached it to a removable stitch marker.  I keep moving it up the side of the first sleeve every time I do the increases so I don't forget to change the count.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Personal Design Challenges

I initially started designing lace shawls by taking Miriam Felton's amazing Lace Shawl Design Class on Craftsy.  I'm now working my way through several personal shawl design challenges to develop my skills:
  1. Bottom up construction- DONE- Spring Chill
  2. Top down construction- DONE- Vefr
  3. Rectangular reversible- current project
  4. Center panel triangular
  5. Crescent shaped 
  6. Rectangular with arms and symmetrical ends (inspired by this)
  7. Cowl that also works as a poncho/shrug (inspired by this)
  8. Shawl that alternates knit and crochet (inspired by this)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Emergency Knitting

It's a joke among my friends that I have "emergency knitting."  Some people keep jumper cables and first aid kits in their cars, I keep a knitting project.  (I keep those other things, too, and snacks for the kids, and spare shopping bags....)

My emergency knitting is a ball of Dishie or Sugar N Cream, a pair of size seven cheap bamboo knitting needles, and directions for a simple dishcloth pattern (which I have memorized by now so I'm branching out to some other simple patterns).  I don't care if it gets sand in it at the beach, or dirt on it in the woods, or food spilled on it at the park-- it's going to be a dishcloth and will see worse!

See that extra yarn over in the middle?  The ladle doesn't care!
This is what I pick up when I'm stuck somewhere without my knitting or my current project is too precious or picky to take with me into the wild outdoors.  Just important enough to do, but not important enough to worry if it gets lost or if I mess up a bit due to inattention.  A dishcloth with an extra yarnover will still do the dishes just as well!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reading a Top Down Triangular Shawl Chart

I got an email today about the Vefr Shawl that said:

I downloaded the Vefr Shawl pattern thru Ravelry.  My question is ... if you perform the set up row, which is cast on 5 stitches and proceed thru Chart A, how do you end with 71 stitches?  What am I missing?

Here was my response with added pictures:

If you look at Chart A (below), you'll notice there is a yellow outline around the charted wedge and another yellow section to the left of the chart where you repeat the yellow outlined area.  These two wedges are the two halves of the shawl on either side of the middle spine that runs down your back.  So after casting on five stitches, in the first row of the chart you knit 2 (these become the right top border edge), yarn over (the first stitch of the right hand wedge), knit 1 (the center spine stitch), yarn over (the first stitch of the left hand wedge which is shown as a yellow area on the chart), and then knit 2 (these become the left top border edge).  You've used up all the five cast on stitches and are ready for row 2 of the chart, which is a wrong side row.  On this row, starting on the left hand side of the chart, you will knit 2 (top border edge), perl 3 (one for the left hand wedge, one for the center spine, one for the right hand wedge), and knit 2 (other top border edge).  Now you have seven stitches because the yarn overs have added two new stitches to the stitches on your needles.  The first time I did this is was sort of magic!

On ever row you are working two wedges, the one shown and the one that is only indicated by the yellow block. Starting on row 3, you add 4 stitches in each right side row by adding yarn overs on either side of both the right and left hand side wedges.  Eventually after ten rows or so, you'll be able to slide your work down your circular needles and pull on that center stitch and see the shape of the shawl emerge with the top border edge stitches going straight across your work and the stitches on the circulars forming a V shape with the center stitch at the point.  By the end of Chart A, you will have 71 stitches on your needles!

If you could draw the chart with all the "no stitch" areas taken out and oriented more the way the real stitches will flow, it might look something like this:

Of course, knit stitches are more rectangular than square and so your shawl becomes more of a triangle.  Do you see how I have those first five stitches more as an arc?  All those yarn overs push the knitting out so that it forms the nice triangle shape we expect of a shawl.  But those first five stitches do leave a little gap at the top, which is why in the finishing instructions to this shawl, I've suggested you use the cast on tail to sew together the first and fifth stitch to close that gap before weaving it in.

I have you place markers around the center stitch in row 1 so that you can use that as a reminder to repeat the wedge when you hit the center marker.

KnitPicks has some excellent tutorials for reading charts, including a video about reading charts and a short written tutorial that discusses those no stitch spaces.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ode to Swatching

When I first started knitting, every stitch was so slow and ponderous, and making a swatch seemed like wasted time I could be using starting the project (which was going to take me forever anyway).  I'd make tiny swatches to guess and check and hope for the best, or no swatch at all and check my gauge as I went.

Designing shawls had made me love swatching.  It doesn't hurt that after several years of knitting, I'm a lot faster.  Now I can whip out a good sized swatch in 20-40 minutes in fingering yarn.  Swatching is like doodling.  I've read other people say that but I never understood it until I started swatching in the context of design.  Swatching to match an existing pattern seems like work, swatching to answer a "what if....?" question is just fun.

I've started keeping the swatches with my notes or charts in a binder.  These are some of the swatches from my Spring Chill Shawl.  The ones on the right are me trying to figure out how close I should space the floral motif at the bottom of the shawl.  On the left are patterns I tested out for the project. 

Here's one from the Vefr Shawl that didn't get used in the final design, but I really like it and want to use it eventually.

So now I'm wondering, are all those people who love swatching designers?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reversible Knitting

For my next shawl, I've given myself two constraints.  I have a skein of silk yarn that has subtle color changes in it.  I'm trying to work up a design that is reversible and that has horizontal lines to it so that the color changes in the yarn move with the design, not across it.  Originally, I had hoped to incorporate a fish motif, but the yarn striping has obscured my attempts so far.  Patterns with attractive reverse sides are few and far between, so i keep swatching to find the reverse not as attractive as I had hoped.  I've ripped out several swatches in this precious yarn to redo them again as I've been afraid I'll use up the skein swatching otherwise!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Vefr Shawl Uploaded to Ravelry

I finished the pattern to the Vefr Shawl and uploaded it to Ravelry today.

I finished this one more quickly that the Spring Chill Shawl, in about five weeks.  It's very motivating to see what the finished pattern will look like.

 My favorite detail is the beaded border.  I'm still a little worried that my directions won't be clear enough for knitters who often don't crochet, but hopefully it will be enough!