Studio Renovation!

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We are finally moving forward on the basement renovation, which means in a month or so I will finally have a completed studio. I don’t remember how much I talked about the basement issues, but it was a mess down there. Our weeping system let go, which lead to repeated flooding’s in the basement. My craft room and storage was down there, and in the end I lost a lot of stuff. That was mostly due to the foundation company leaving holes to outside that allowed some mice in, and you can imagine how that went. We found the holes, got everything buttoned up down there, and it’s also been bone dry for well over a year. Now we are finally moving forward. It’s been hard to get our heads into getting all that fixed, because of the sheer frustration and absolute nightmare the whole thing has been. Since Covid is still an issue, the crew is in the basement only, with their own bathroom, and we interact as little as humanly possible…and even then we are very distanced. Which is good, because they just sick with Covid and have been off the job for a couple weeks. But, they are now back and working, and thankfully everyone has recovered. We have a huge laundry list of safety measures in place, so all is well in our household. 🙂 I’m a bit of a germaphobe (a lot of a germaphobe), so disinfecting is really high on the daily list of chores.

Anyway! We are at a point now where I can share progress pictures. First up was the demolition. They took down what was left of the drywall on the ceiling and took out the remaining studs. The studs were all cut off and left hanging about 2′ off the floor. That was fun. lol But, it was cleaned up and we were left with the plastic stuff on the walls for the internal weeping system we had installed.

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Then they put up walls! Real full walls again!

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Next up was the new back door. We had a new one put in with all new framing because it had taken a beating with the flooding and things.

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Isn’t she nice?! Next we have the insulation. That was put in last week. This is as far as we have gotten so far. The guys will be back this upcoming week to do some cross bracing of the joists to help with the squeaking and noisy floors. I’ll be doing some work down there this week, myself, trying to fix the floors in the kitchen. I’m hoping I can fix the issue of the bouncing in the floors, which is related to the floors bouncing up and down when you walk over them. My plan is to go from underneath and grab the staples that are through the subfloor, in the hopes of bending them over. If I can’t grab them, I’ll put something heavy on the kitchen floor to weight it down and just hammer over a bunch of the staples to hold it. Fingers crossed it helps. 😀

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That’s all to report from the studio. I have already made a bunch of purchases for lights and things, so I’m very anxious to be able to get down there and start doing the decorating. 😀

New Releases and an update!

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Hi everyone! I have been very busy lately with getting samples completed, edits finished and patterns launched. Over the next couple months I will also be making changes to my products. I’m going to only keep pattern listings on here, and all finished products will be moved to my Etsy shop. This will help me keep my inventory properly accounted for, and also makes it easier to deal with shipments. I will post when I have shop updates on Etsy going forward, so you won’t miss anything. Also, I’m going to be starting to have a serious of posts of my studio being built. Yay! The new studio is going to be about 75% of our basement. A few years ago we had 3 bad floods down there thanks to some very heavy spring rains. That has meant a ton of work has happened down there. First the furnace froze up in the summer because of the AC. Then we flooded from the rain, and the carpet came out, then the 2nd flood hit when the water came up through a crack in the floor. That meant a complete gutting of the basement, and all the exterior walls down there had the floor jack hammered out about 8″ back and an internal weeping system was installed. Then an entirely new HVAC system was installed. And now it’s dry and happy in there, and has survived a few seasonal changes, including 2 springs. Now we are ready to put it back together. We decided that it would become my studio. As an extra level of safety down there, we are installing dricore, which is a 2’x2’x3/4″ tile that sits on the floor and is plastic on the bottom. It allows for breathing room and if we flood again the damage will be minimal, as long as it’s not higher than the 3/4″. It also gives me extra insulation to keep my feet warm. We’ve already hired the contractor and are just waiting to hear from them about a start date. It’s looking like mid to late July, but since it’s actually a pretty small job, they may slip us in with other jobs when they have some time. It will take longer in general, but they will technically get it started and done earlier than just waiting for a time. I need to decide on paint colors though. I’m having a hard time with that. I’ve already received my lights, so that was easy, and I’ve chosen most of the furniture. But paint…it feels so permanent. lol Even though I could totally repaint whenever I want, it’s such a big part of the space.

Other than that, I’ve been working hard to get patterns released. First up I have my Diamond Hat. This hat is in 3 sizes, as always, and features a large diamond design on it. The diamond also fades into the crown decreases, without having it stop abruptly.

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Next up are my Switchback socks. These socks are a lot of fun. They have decreases and yarn overs that create this meandering effect that reminded me of switchbacks you see running up the mountains. Because of the disconnect of the look of a chart compared to how it actually looks, you will need to pay attention to the chart. Once you see how it works in your knitting it becomes much easier to follow along. It’s not a complicated pattern, but you will need to count for the first bit.

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Lastly, I released my Oak Island Scarf. I love this one. I’ve been fascinated by the mystery surrounding Oak Island off the coast of Nova Scotia since I was a kid. Growing up there it was fascinating to think there could be some place so close and so mysterious. That made this design a lot of fun for me. The tv show inspired me to do an acorn design, since the followers of the show call themselves acorns. 🙂

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Aside from that, I have a few other designs in the pipes, one of which is a sweater that with any luck I’ll be listing for testing in about a week. I am waiting for the last run of edits, and I’m also going to sit down and do a full recalculation of everything to make sure it all looks good. This one was one of my favorites, so hopefully this will start moving forward very soon. It’s been in limbo since October of last year. I can’t wait to show it off, though. 😀

So You Want to Knit 10 – How to Make Your Own ‘Thing’

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Making your own design isn’t as difficult as it seems. Sure you can get all kinds of fancy with charts and what not, but if you are doing it just for you, then you can just whip out some graph paper and get going. One thing I should mention about graph paper, though, is that your graph paper design will not look the same as what you knit from it. The reason is that stitches and rows are not the same height/length, but your graph paper is perfect squares. For the best result find yourself some Knitting Graph Paper. You can do a quick google search and there are a few places that will offer it for free, and you can just print it out yourself and get to work. The knitting graph paper has rectangles instead of squares, and will translate much better for knitting patterns.

Google is very much your friend for finding knitting stitch patterns. There are hundreds and hundreds of stitch variations that have already been designed that you can incorporate into your pattern. Knitting stitches like the “waffle stitch” are not copyrighted. While a full knitting pattern is copyrighted in terms of reproduction of the printed product, the stitch designs are not. You just can’t copyright a knit or purl stitch. So you can either search for ones that already exist and incorporate them, or use that graph paper to try different things to get a look you want. Also, Pinterest is also a great place to find stitch patterns. If you are really really into doing your own design making, I would also recommend buying books like “750 Knitting Stitches” (this is an Amazon link, but I am not set up as an affiliate and don’t get anything for you clicking on this link) that have a plethora of stitches in all different types, like cables, or lace, or color work. There are numerous other stitch books as well, but this is one of my personal favorites. I do still resort to searching online a lot though. I also find a lot of stitch designs on Pinterest. It can be great to have free sources when this is something you might only look at once in a while and isn’t something you need for your daily knitting life.

Design making, does not have to equate to design selling. If you are not interested in selling your designs, then simply keep a book/binder/etc with your design notes in them in case you want to recreate them. You don’t have to go crazy with writing up a full proper pattern if you don’t want to. I would recommend also keeping notes on what needles you used, what the gauge was that you got at that time, the yarn you used, etc. These will be very helpful later.

When it comes to gauge, you will want to calculate that. I will have a post later that goes more in depth with the gauge and things, but you will want to know what that is before you start your new design. The biggest reason is so that you know how many stiches you will need to cast on. This means you will need to swatch. A swatch is simply a 4″ x 4″ piece that you work up before hand. You can do this in two ways. Many people will do a plain stockinette, which is knit one row, purl the next. To cast on for a swatch, you can be very generic about it, and cast on until it looks like you have approximately 4″, with the stitches spread out. Don’t bunch them all up before you measure, but don’t pull them out tight. Make it look like just a smooth symmetrical stretch. Then work for about 4″ and do a full cast off. Next, which is very important, and you won’t want to skip this…wash and dry your swatch. You want to know how the yarn acts. Some yarns will stretch when washed, and will change the who size of your project. Swatching is actually good for any project, and I highly recommend it. It’s really more about the yarn than about the project when it comes to swatching. Also, if you have chosen a design for your pattern, you might want to consider doing your swatch in the pattern you have chosen. The big reason is that the kind of stitch makes a huge impact on your swatch size. If you have chosen a lace pattern, it will be much larger than a stockinette because of all the open parts. If you have chosen a cable, it will be smaller than stockinette because it pulls the fabric in more. When you dry your swatch, you will also want to block it. I will go into more detail on blocking in a future post, but it is just a way of stretching the piece out on to foam times, or your bed, or whatever you have that you can stick pins into, pinning it down into shape and then leaving it to dry. This is very useful in opening up the lacework and smoothing out your piece.

Here is a before and after picture of a lace project I did. This is my Hexagonal Shawl:

Before in its bunched up glory:
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Blocking:
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After it is dry when all the lace is opened up and can shine:
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I know swatching seems like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. I mean, what if you knit a lovely scarf for yourself, washed it, and now it hangs down to the floor and is twice the size it was when you started. You’ve wasted a ton of yarn and your time on something you might not wear. So, it’s definitely worth it, especially when your yarn is a natural fiber. Those will bloom (stretch) and grow like crazy.

Once your piece is dry you can measure it. I have a handy tool that is a Knitting Gauge Calculator (this is an Amazon link, but I am not set up as an affiliate and don’t get anything for you clicking on this link). You lay this tool down on your swatch, and you can easily count your rows and stitches. You will count every row/stitch in the open spaces on the ruler to calculate the stitches per inch. This tool only goes to 3″, and I normally will do 4″, but it will give you a good idea of where your work is. I prefer to do more than 1″ of stitch and row counting, because your stitches could easily have partial stitches that are not accounted for. Now you take the stitches/rows for 3″ and divide it by 3 to get the number per inch and you can work from that. If you are making a scarf, you’ll be able cast on the number of stitches in that inch times the number of inches wide you want it to be. The same if you are making a blanket. The width you want your blanket to by times that number of stitches per inch. It’s as easy as that!

Another great thing to do is to keep your notes written somewhere. This can be whatever works for you, but keeping notes on everything you have done is very important. You’ll want to write down the yarn you used, and it’s details of weight, fiber contents, etc, along with the size needles you used, gauge you had on your swatch, and all the important parts of cast on and pattern you decided to put into your design. Even if this is just for your purposes, and you don’t intend on designing professionally, you’ll still want all of this. If you really like what you have come up with and want to make it again, or if you set it down for a bit and need to remember what you were doing, these notes will be very helpful. I will even take a little clipping of the yarn to staple to my page, and even staple the ball band to my page. Honestly, I am terrible at organizing everything like this. I just purchased some notebooks today to be able to start organizing my notes better. I have a terrible habit of losing ball bands and then forgetting what I used. So, now every design will be getting a page or two in my notebook with all the basics of the pattern for the yarn and such. I have a separate notebook where I write all the hen scratch notes of the pattern math and such.

Working up your own design doesn’t have to be super complicated. When you hear that there is math involved it can make it seem daunting. A lot of the math you will come across for scarves and blankets and such are simply division or multiplication. For example, if you want to add a stitch design into your project, how many stitches do you have to work with, how many are in the stitch pattern you want to work with. Do these divide evenly, or will you have stitches left over? Do you want to have stitches left over for an edge? Once you know those things, you can make the numbers work as you want them to.

Example: I have a stitch pattern that is 8 stitches, and I have a scarf I am working on that has a gauge of 20 stitches per 4″ (5 stitches per inch), and I want my scarf to be 10″ wide. To make a scarf that is 10″ wide, I need to have it be 10 x 5 = 50 stitches. Now, 50 divided by the 8 stitch pattern is 6.25. If 6 x 8 is 48, I have 2 stitches remaining. Now I have a decision to make. Do I just go close to 10″ and cast on the 48 stitches and not have any edge stitches, or do I do 5 repeats of the stitch pattern, which will be 8 x 5 = 40 stitches, and will give me 10 stitches left over (or 5 stitches per side) for an edge. I would most likely cast on 50 stitches, and have 5 edge stitches on each side with 5 repeats of the pattern in the center. That gives me everything I want in a scarf. The importance of edge stitches is that they help to prevent your project from rolling at the edges. If you have ever made a project that didn’t have a large enough edge or an edge that was stockinette, you’ll notice that it rolls in on itself. My edges are usually done in garter (knit on the right and wrong side), and it holds up against rolling much better. And of course, if you are looking for something that will roll on the edges, then stockinette edges or taking the pattern right to the edge would be exactly what you are looking for.

I hope these tips will help you to make something that is your own. A lot of these tips will transfer to almost any project you want to try making. They will hopefully allow you to have a better understanding of why a designer made a particular decision in the project you are working on. Sometimes it’s just a matter of having to force the math to work as closely to what they wanted to achieve as possible.

Thanks for reading!

Sneak Peek!

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Well, it has taken the first three and a half months of this year to finally be better, but here I am. I had a horrible allergic reaction at the end of December, and am just getting to a point now where I can eat somewhat normally, and my voice is returning. I can never have nuts again, but I’m alive and feeling much better now. 😀 That means I’m back to work! Yay! I have been working on a few projects. I managed to knit a hat sample for a design back in January, but just last week managed to have enough brain power to write up the pattern. It is now in editing, so hopefully you’ll see that come across as a test knit in a week or two. 😀

This is my Diamond hat. It’s made with an aran weight yarn, so it’s nice and fluffy. The diamond pattern consists of slipped stitches, decreases and small cables. It’s actually a great introduction to cables if you were looking to carry on past my How To blog post about them. The cables involve two stitches at a time, and is a great way to practice cabling without a cable needle if you are feeling adventurous. (Honestly it sounds scarier than it really is.) Also, the decreases for the crown all happen in between the cables, so you can keep the pattern going to create a star effect on the top of the hat. It makes it a great hat for a pom pom. 😀

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Next up is a scarf I am working on. This is made using the acorn stitch and is called “Oak Island Scarf”. If anyone has watched the show The Curse of Oak Island, you will have heard the fans being called Acorns. I find the show quite interesting, but I am from Nova Scotia originally and have always been fascinated with the Oak Island mystery and what the story really is. So, this is an homage to the story and the fans.

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And the last project on the go right now is a pair of socks. These socks look complicated, but the pattern is very easily memorized. It will make them great for tv viewing! They are cuff down which make them a great beginner sock. I know how hard those toe up cast ons can be, and I have a lot of toe up socks, so I wanted to make another pair of cuff down, so as to include a variety of skill levels. They look very lacy, but honestly the pattern repeat only ever has knit stitches, a decrease and one yarn over. Again, these are another great way to get into the adventure of lace knitting, and you’ll get a comfy pair of socks out of them. 😀 Unfortunately, while these can be knit two at a time for the small and medium size, the large size is going to have a few rows that have yarn overs at the beginning or end of the row, which is going to make them a bit tricky.

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I am hoping to get the scarf and socks knit in the next few weeks to then get them through editing. Thankfully the scarf is short and simple and shouldn’t take much time by the editor. That will mean a much faster turn around. 🙂 I am also going to start working on my last batch of edits for the few remaining un-edited patterns. That should be heading out in a few weeks, and then everything I have in my store will be tech edited. That will really free up my mind, because I constantly worry that there is a mistake in those patterns that I or testers never found. I’m too much of a perfectionist to let mistakes slide, so I want to make sure everything has had yet another set of eyes on it, and that everything looks as good as we can possible get it.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!!