Casting On with the Long Tail Cast On


Here is a video I created to demonstrate how to do the Long Tail Cast-On.  I do apologize for the excessive background noise, as I am still trying to get the logistics figured out.  I hope you find it useful.  I will be creating other videos soon.

7 Truths of Subway Knitting

In the past two months, I’ve started working at a yarn store which, combined with increasingly colder weather has motivated me to not abandon my knitting.  My 45 to an hour long commute has become my simple projects knitting time.  As I sit and knit away on the train, I find there are certain techniques and tools that are more useful than others, and how some people’s interest is welcome while others manifests itself in a much more unsettling way.


Integrating Knitted Items into Your Wardrobe

It’s been a while since I last wrote.  Things here have been a little hectic, and when I haven’t been rushing off to jobs, I’ve been trying to keep up with the apartment and trying not let the anxiety and depression monsters dominate my existence.  When you’re little, monsters are actual creatures that hide under your bed or in your closet.  They are monsters that can be defeated with a flick of the light switch or kept at bay by your trusty pet.  As an adult, those monsters are more insidious, creeping into your line of sight in broad daylight, following in your shadow as you move about the city, or hovering on your shoulder whispering horrible lies into your ear until you believe that the things they say are the truth, and that they come naturally from your own thoughts.  However, a dear friend sent me a text message today which reminded me that not only have I not written in my blog for a while, but I’ve been in danger of retreating into the cocoon I have created to shield myself from the monsters’ influence rather than bursting forth with shield and sword in hand.  So in attempt to at least wound these monsters that haunt the darker corners of my mind, I am resolved to write this blog post.  En guard!


Months ago, this friend sent me a letter (a real handwritten letter on pretty paper in a real envelope with a stamp and everything), to which I have not yet responded.  I have no excuse for this neglect, and as such I dedicate this blog post to her and the question she posed in her letter:


How do you incorporate the things you knit to wear into your wardrobe without overwhelming the eye with color and pattern?


To Frankenstein a Sweater

I apologize for the length of time between my last post and this one. My trusty laptop has stopped functioning, and I’ve got my fingers crossed I’ll be able to revive it.

In my last post, I wrote about how to Reverse Engineer a sweater, or more specifically, how to asses the elements that you’ll need to know to reverse engineer a sweater. In my example, I used a sweater worn by Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.  Today, I’m going to write about how to use existing patterns to create a pattern to recreate the sweater of your dreams – or in this case J.K. Rowling’s dreams.


Reverse Engineering

“I could make that.”


How many times have you said that while watching movies where the costuming is heavy on the knitted sweaters, scarves, vests, and gloves?  How many times have you been shushed during a movie when you gleefully point out the beautifully executed sweater during a dramatic scene?  Or how about when you find yourself staring at someone on the subway who is wearing a cardigan with really interesting color work?  Or when you see a winter fashion show with oversize knitwear?  Or maybe you just want to recreate a fabulous sweater you purchased and wore to pieces.


Truth:  people have been copying fashion trends for centuries – probably millenniums.  People copy other people’s hairstyles, clothes, mannerisms, shoes, and vocabularies all the time for all of time.  So it is with knitting.  Reverse Engineering is the process of figuring out what steps to take to create a garment or item that copies something you have seen without a pattern.  Coping a written pattern is cheating and against copyright law.  With reverse engineering, you are going to use all of your knitterly know-how to create a garment that looks like the one you see. (more…)

8 Ways to Beat Second Sock Syndrome

Second Sock Syndrome.  A situation many knitters face, and it’s not just for socks.  Any knitted item that generally comes in pairs is susceptible:  socks, mittens, gloves, leg warmers.  I find myself facing SSS or second sock syndrome a lot.  It usually comes after I’ve finished a sock pattern I’ve really wanted to try out.  However, finishing the first sock usually scratches the itch to knit that pattern or technique, then the second sock feels like a chore, and knitting isn’t my job, it’s my hobby!  I want to enjoy it!  So, how can we beat the second sock syndrome?


Trial by Fire and Water

In the earlier half of the last millennium, those accused of crimes could prove their innocence through a trial of fire or water.  Thus subjecting a person to either water or fire, usually represented in the form of hot metal rods or ploughshares (as the peasants would probably have more of these at their disposal), was a way to separate the guilty from the innocent.


Well, we can also use trial by fire and water to separate the wools from the cottons from the acrylics.  Generally, most animal fibers will follow wool’s example, and most plant-based fibers will follow cotton’s example.  Of course, it is always better to retain the ball band (the paper wrapped around the yarn to label it with the company, brand, fiber content, recommended needle size and washing instructions) to remember the fiber content of a particular skein, ball, or cake of yarn.  However, who hasn’t pranced home from the yarn store, ripped off the ball band with fevered abandon, and wound their skein, telling themselves “I’m going to start something with this yarn right now!” only to have to abandon your newly wound skein to make dinner or walk the dog or fall into the internet hole?  Then you return to your beautiful new yarn a week later only to discover you can’t find the ball band (psst!  look under the couch cushions).  Or maybe Great Auntie Mabel sent you some yarn she picked up at a church rummage sale, summing up the note with a, “I thought you would like this.  See?  You don’t have to spend all your money at that fancy yarn store!”  Or maybe, you are a thrifty knitter who searches the Good Wills and second hand shops for old sweaters to unravel and knit anew.  The point is, you will eventually end up with yarn whose fiber contents are entirely unknown to you.  Time to separate the guilty from the innocent.


Any Way You Want it, That’s the Way You Purl it, Anyway You Want it.

In knitting there are two and half basic stitches:  knitting, purling, and yarn-overs.  Every stitch pattern is a different combination of how these stitches are arranged in relation to each other within the same row and from row to row.  As with almost anything in knitting, there are variations of these basic stitches that can allow us to create more complex patterns.  You might knit through the back to twist a stitch or knit or purl twice into the same stitch, or double wrap a yarn-over to make it larger.  But in the end we are always either knitting or purling or creating a yarn-over in our march from one side of the work to the other.


One of the beauties of knitting is that there is no wrong way to knit as long as the stitch comes off the needle looking the way it’s supposed to.  Most people knit from right to left, as a relic of knitting’s Arabic origins, but it is not unheard of to come across the odd knitter who can knit from left to right and back again (and I meet you, my knitting wizard, you’ll know me because I’ll be the one with my jaw on the floor gurgling “teach me, master, teach me”).  Most knitting methods can be divided into English and Continental.  English knitters hold the working yarn in their right hand, while Continental knitters hold the working yarn in their left hand.


For whatever reason, purling, or creating purl stitches, is a rather disagreeable task for some knitters.  As it is actually a backwards knit stitch, I can sort of understand.  Not many people like to have to reverse their three dimensional understanding unless they really have to.  This is why smartphones allow you to rotate the digital map so that straight ahead points to the top of your phone when using your device for GPS purposes.  So, let’s take a look at some purling options.