So You Want to Knit 12 – Yarn and Substitutions

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I talked about yarn in the first part of this How To in the Materials section. However, there will come a time when you will not have or be able to get the yarn that is called for in a pattern. Not to fear! There are substitutions that can be made. Thankfully yarn substitutions are much easier than baking substitutions. hehe

So, where to start. When you get your pattern you will find that there is a section of important details such as gauge, needles, and a yarn section. Those yarn details is what you need. It will likely list the name, weight, fiber details and amount you need of that particular yarn. The first step to take is to do a search for that yarn. You can do this through a site like Ravelry, which I mentioned in the last post, or you can just do a general search online to find it. The important thing to look for is the Knitting Gauge. This will give you all the important information on exactly what that yarn weighs. You see, the problem with yarn designations like Fingering or Worsted is that all of these are ranges. That means they will vary in actually weight (the width of the yarn) by potentially a lot, which will make your project not work as you would have hoped.

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As you can see from the above photo from the Knit Picks website, I have circled the yarn weight. This happens to be their Wool of the Andes Tweed, which is a worsted weight. They give you the details on how many stitches you should get per inch if you on a particular range of needles. So, in this yarn you should get 4.5 stitches per inch if you knit on size US 6 needles. This range is the important detail that you want. You can now go through your options for worsted weight yarns to find something with a similar range listed.

Another important detail is the fiber content that is listed. This yarn has a high wool content, which will mean that when you block it (which I will cover in a later post) it will grow. That means the yarn will expand in size. Your pattern will tell you what gauge is needed to get the desired look they have listed, and that is almost always after blocking. If you chose a yarn that is not the same fiber content, which is most likely to be the case, you will want to knit a swatch and then wet block it. You can take your measurements of how many stitches and rows per 4 inches you have to make sure you match the pattern.

The next detail to look at is the number of yards/meters. The yarn listed on your pattern will tell you how many skeins you need of the yarn they suggest. Simply multiply the number of skeins for your size by the yards/meters listed for the suggested yarn. Then you can divide that by the number of yarns in your chosen yarn to get the number of skeins you need of that yarn.

As you work through a few things, you will begin to notice the differences that come up with the different yarns. Some yarns just don’t bounce back like other yarns. Wools definitely bounce back nicely after washing. Yarns like cotton will tend to stretch and won’t really shrink back up when you wash it (making sure to wash it based on the directions the yarn gives you). That is why fibers like cotton, silk and linen are not recommended for socks. They will just end up droopy and saggy.

I really hope that this helps you with coming up with yarn substitutions. It does require a bit of research as you are looking for a yarn you like, but it’s very worth it. I skipped this when I was starting out and just went by the weight, thinking all worsted weights were the same. I was very wrong. It wasn’t the end of the world, but trying to figure out gauge does get more complicated. If you do find a yarn you just love, that doesn’t match the yarn gauge, you do have the option of doing swatches to get to the gauge your pattern calls for. It could mean you go up or down a few needle sizes, but you can still achieve the desired look. The next post in this series will be all about gauge, so you’ll be able to do those calculations for yourself. 😀

Thanks for reading!!

So You Want to Knit 11 – How to Find a Pattern that Meets Your Wants/Needs

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Now that you know a lot of stitches and techniques, you will want to figure out how to find a pattern. There are many many places to purchase patterns. My number one recommendation to new knitters is always Ravelry. This is a knitting community that has forums with groups you can join and chat with other knitters. But, you don’t have to use that at all if you don’t want to. The great thing about Ravelry is its search feature. You can search for anything and everything. You can choose to look at knitting or crochet patterns. You can choose to search for only free patterns. You can search by item type like a sweater or scarf. You can search by yarn weight or amount. And you can combine any number of things to really refine your search. There are so many amazing pattern there and it’s a great resource.

Buying individual patterns usually means that you will be downloading a PDF file. You will need something that will allow you to see and print that pattern. If you prefer to have it on a handheld device of some sort, you can consider a program like Knit Companion, which is an app that allows you to save, see and mark your downloaded patterns. It also has counters to help you track where you are. Downloading patterns means you always want to make sure that your source is reputable. Just doing a search for some kind of pattern doesn’t always work out well. It’s tough to find what you want, and you don’t want to download something that isn’t what it says it is.

Another location for patterns is LoveCrafts. They have lots of patterns, but also sell yarn, which can be handy if you can buy what the pattern tells you to all in one place. Knit Picks is another place the sells yarn and supplies, but also has patterns on their website that is usually made with yarn they stock. I recently bought a pattern from them for a lovely sweater, and was able to choose which size I was planning to make and built my own kit. It was super helpful. Now, of course you don’t have to buy the yarn from them, and can absolutely just buy the pattern and be done.

You will notice that I usually say ‘buy’ the pattern. This is because the majority of patterns are not free. And you might be asking why not. Well, when a design gets to the point of publishing a pattern they have spent weeks if not months on developing this pattern. It’s not fair to expect them to give their work to you for free, regardless of how simple you might think it is. For example, I just finished a cowl pattern that I’m about to send to an editor. First off, the editor charges me for their time, which can run me anywhere from $30 to $300 or more depending on the complexity of the pattern. At this point though I have about 80 hours invested into this pattern. If I was lucky to make $15 an hour, that’s $1,200 already. I would need to sell about 72 copies of this pattern just to break even on my time, and I’m not done yet. I don’t just write up a pattern and go. I also knit the item to make sure the pattern works and that I get the look I envisioned. I also have to spend a month or two supervising a test knit. That is where others knit the pattern to make sure it works. Most patterns are in development for a good 6 months for even simple projects. One of the sweaters I am working on has been on the go for 2 years now. So, as you can see it really is a steal to get a pattern for even $15, but most are somewhere around the $5-10 range. Now that being said, places like Ravelry and LoveCrafts do have a lot of free patterns available.

Now that you have some resources on where to find patterns, feel free to go and browse. Oh, and you do need to sign up for Ravelry, but it’s absolutely free to do so. Happy searching!!

Studio Completion!

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I am a very happy camper right now. The studio is pretty much complete. There are a couple things to be done, but it’s 100% usable. Thursday we have a counter top being installed in the bathroom, and then when the contractor gets back from vacation at the end of the month, he’ll come in to install the sink and hook up the plumbing, and do whatever touchups I find…which so far is very little. I have already moved most of the furniture down there, and have most things set up. We are going to consider having built ins made for the storage room to display yarn and give us lots of extra storage space. We are just waiting back on a quote for that one.

I am still waiting on a couch to be delivered, but it’s delayed a bit. It’s fine though, because we took down a couple comfy chairs.

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There is a photography corner set up, so I can do pictures of my new designs and whatnot, without having to constantly be pulling things out of various closets. All I need to do now is set up my light box somewhere. I think that will only be brought out when needed though, because the cats will absolutely try to go on top of it and ruin it.

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We managed to get the entertainment/storage unit set up on Sunday. We’ll hang the tv up soon, but for now it’s fine sitting on the cabinet.

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I also found a cabinet that is perfect for my tea cabinet. I think I’ll look at buying a piece of plexiglass for the top to protect it, though. I’ve already made tea over there, and am super happy with the amount of storage. I might have a tea problem. lol The sump is exposed on that side of the room, but at some point we’ll figure out a permanent solution to covering it. For now, this antique sewing cabinet will work fine for keeping anyone from stepping on it.

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In the storage room, it’s a bit sparse right now. I brought down the red cubbies to hold my yarn, which is what it was doing anyway. It will stay like that until a more permanent solution is found. And Daisy had to get in on this picture. She is so overwhelmed with all the stuff down there. She just keeps running from room to room, purring and chirping. hehe

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So, that’s it for this part of the tour. We have a carpet guy coming Thursday to measure the stairs to get us set up with new carpet there. I was going to refinish the stairs, but when I pulled off half the carpet it was a mess. The landing is this cobbled together plywood crap that is just atrocious. We decided to just cover it all back up with a nice carpet. Either way it’ll look nice, and it’ll be nice on the feet.

Thanks for reading!

Renovation update!

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I’m very excited about the renovation update. We are so close to being finished! By the end of next week, we should be able to start moving everything in. It’s been a couple months of renovation work so far, but we are down to touch ups, caulking and thresholds. We will have one project that is delayed, but that is because we are at the mercy of the subcontractor. So, the bathroom won’t have a sink until he comes to put in the granite. But, that doesn’t mean an unusable space, thankfully.

We decided to go with Dricore on the floor, and an LVT flooring. We have had multiple floods down there, and really don’t want to deal with ripping up walls and carpet again. This will give us a 1″ buffer between the concrete floor, and the top of the sub floor. If we have similar floods again, this will protect us against those. The LVT is not everyone’s first choice for flooring, but honestly it’s super durable, which is great for the studio space. And it looks pretty good. It’s obviously not wood, but that’s not something you want in a basement anyway. And I couldn’t do tile, because the floors are very uneven down there. I didn’t feel like spending the extra cash to float and level the floors. So, this will be just right. 🙂

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The lights I bought months ago finally went in last week. I was a bit worried that they would be a bit too dim, because they don’t use full sized bulbs, but they are actually pretty good!

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I purchased these lights from Etsy from Lamp Goods. They are simple, but just right for the space. 😀 I went with a silver finish to just add a bit of bling in the space. I also have a new door knob set for the back door that we have to put on that is also silver. Also, the faucet in the bathroom is also silver. I think I forgot to get new door knobs for the bathroom and furnace room doors though. I should probably fix that. hehe It’s amazing how many little touches there are for a simple space like this. I didn’t go too far out there on the design, because I figured my extra pieces would add the flare. But, there are so many extra pieces! I still have the old white ceiling fans in there, but that will be fixed once we start working on the hubby’s office. I’m taking his ceiling fans because he’s getting new lights. His ceiling fans are silver/grey, so they’ll work well. 😀

So, hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have an update with actual furniture in there! Thanks for reading!