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Make Do and Mend: Recent Repair Projects

I’ve been working and plugging away at a number of repair projects, and while I’ve been posting them to Instagram, I thought I’d highlight a few here.  We’ve got one crochet piece and one knit piece.

The knit piece features a stocking that was hung over the fireplace with care – but was hung a little too close to the flames!

a christmas stocking with a hole burned through it

a christmas stocking with a hole burned through it

Not only did the warmth of the fire burn through the stocking, but it melted one of the stocking stuffers to the fabric, causing the bottle to leak all over the fibers.  It was a mess!

A side note: this is a really good reason to use wool when making anything that will get anywhere near heat – wool does not melt or burn like acrylic or cotton.

repaired christmas stocking ready to go back to its owners

repaired christmas stocking ready to go back to its owners

This stocking needed an overhaul – I pulled things out at the ankle and re-knit the foot.  I’m pretty pleases with the color matching – not perfect, but pretty close!


 

The other project I wrapped up was a crochet afghan that had developed a hole.  It was a nice diversion, since the last few repairs I’ve done of crochet afghans have been plain single crochet.

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The first step was isolating the crochet stitches that were in danger of unraveling.  Because this pattern is a gathered stitch, things are a little more tricky – there isn’t a one-to-one ratio of stitches.

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Then there’s the process of re-crocheting the area. I had a choice here: I didn’t have any of the blanket yarn I could harvest, so I could either use a closely matching yarn (which is tough to find with cream colored things), or I could crochet the piece in a slightly tighter gauge so I would have enough yarn to do the repairs (and weave in ends).

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This is a strategy that works well over a small area – in this case, this one pinwheel (marked by the teal thread). Over larger areas this would cause the area to pucker.


And that is most of what I’ve been working on!  What projects have you gotten off the needles/hook?

Classes with Tinking Turtle

Golly, we’ve got a lot going on at the Turtle-Wrangling Ranch!  It must be spring, as my class schedule is picking up as I teach at Fiber Festivals and local venues.  Check out some of the highlights:


wp-1489607241853.jpegDances With Wool is located southwest of Richmond, VA in Midlothian.  I’ve got a bunch of classes I’ll be teaching there in the next few weeks:

  • Ravelry 101 (March 18) – Learn how to use the ever popular Ravelry website!
  • Stripes Three Ways (March 18) – We’ll cover three different types of colorwork, with a fun little twist!
  • Finishing Essentials (March 18) – This class is a must-take if you’re looking to learn to put a crochet or knit object together.

wp-1489607231169.pngFibre Space is one of my all-time favorite stores to teach in (partially because I love all the places to eat lunch in Alexandria… shhh!).

  • Padded Crochet (March 19) – I don’t teach this skill or this class often, so take it while it’s available!
  • Bind Offs (March 19) – We had such a great response to our Cast-Ons class, this one covers finishing your projects with intentional bind offs!

wp-1489607224330.jpegNext weekend I’ll be in North Carolina for the Carolina Fiber Fest. This’ll be my second time teaching at this fiber festival, and it’s at a new location!  I’ll be teaching:

  • Duct Tape Dress Forms – The first time I’ll be teaching it since my maternity leave – it was too hard on my body while pregnant.
  • Hairpin Lace Scarf in a Day – this crochet technique is great for quick projects!
  • Stripes Three Ways – This class is popular, and you’ll see why – it teaches some great colorwork techniques.

 

Unique Sweater Pillows Tutorial

Lately I’ve been able to dig my teeth into some interesting projects like the hobbyhorse blanket I repaired a couple of weeks ago. Today I wanted to share with you another project I’m working on.  I was approached by a client interested in having six sweaters turned into pillows.  A dear friend of hers had passed away, and she wanted to take her friend’s distinctive sweaters and turn them into pieces she could treasure.

I’ve worked a few times with commercial made sweaters; although more often I’m taking them apart for teaching purposes or using them to practice techniques I’d like to teach.  While this isn’t a tutorial per-se, it’s an outline of my process and some tips and tricks I’ve discovered after working on other smaller projects similar to this.

Stabilizer ironed onto the back of the sweater pieces

Stabilizer ironed onto the back of the sweater pieces

My first step was taking the sweaters apart.  All but one was chain-stitched together, which made disassembling them pretty easy once I got the hidden stitching undone. The last one was sewn together, which was a bit more of a pain to take apart. At least it was done in mattress stitch!

Next I ironed on stabilizer.  The stabilizer gave the knit fabric more woven qualities, which was needed for several reasons:

  1. It made sewing into the fabric infinitely easier.
  2. For colorwork or stranded knitting sweaters, it prevented unraveling.
  3. The stabilizer prevented the fabric from distorting by keeping lines straight and preventing stretching.
  4. For sweaters with button bands or zippers, it prevented them from accidentally opening.  It would allow some of the sweaters button bands to not be sewn, preserving some of the sweater-like qualities.
  5. It allowed the finished pillow to be sturdier.

On the very last piece of sweater I was just shy of covering the entire sweater.  Since I would be trimming most of the edges away, I pieced together a few extra scraps of stabilizer I had to finish it off (you can see this above).

Figuring out the size of the pillow, and making sure all the lines are straight

Figuring out the size of the pillow, and making sure all the lines are straight

After the stabilizer was on, I began to look at each sweater, determining the notable features of the sweater – what made it distinct?  How could I choose a shape that complimented the look of the piece?  Would the pillow look better as a square or rectangular pillow?

Cutting the pieces using a quilter's template and a fresh blade on my roller cutter

Cutting the pieces using a quilter’s template and a fresh blade on my roller cutter

This tall ice-skating Santa would have gotten cut off as a square pillow. I also loved the beading on the edge of this sweater and the beaded snowflakes.  I had to fudge cutting this pillow out to make sure that I caught all the elements that made it interesting.

I cut pieces to preserve the button bands, then had to make sure the button bands were in the center of the pillow

I cut pieces to preserve the button bands, then had to make sure the button bands were in the center of the pillow

I thought it was important to keep the qualities of the sweater above that made it interesting – button bands and ribbing at the edge. This pillow had a really thick button band that was nearly impossible to sew through, needing a lot of hand stitching.

After cutting out all the pieces and making sure I’d gotten them to the correct size, it was time to pin them together.  For most of the pillows I was able to use my sewing machine to sew at least three of the sides.  For two of them I was also able to machine sew part of a fourth side, saving on a lot of time.

A stack of sewed pillows, awaiting stuffing

A stack of sewn pillows, awaiting stuffing

The top pillow above, with the blues and greens, ended up being a favorite. I love the buttons on the button band!

 

Mattress stitch is almost always a perfect solution to having two fabrics come together invisibly

Mattress stitch is almost always a perfect solution to having two fabrics come together invisibly

Next I began hand-sewing the final edge of the pillows. I used #10 crochet thread instead of normal sewing thread. This was becasue I was having to yank at the pillows to get them to look the way I wanted them. This was doubly true when sewing through the button bands, and getting three layers of very thick knit fabric to come together.  Even still, sometimes I wasn’t careful and had the thread break.  Not fun!

Mattress stitch (aka ladder stitch) was my stitch of choice.

Pillow made out of old sweater, button band showing

Pillow made out of old sweater, button band showing

The pillows are coming together now! I wasn’t always able to get the ribbing to come together evenly on the bottom.  It’s a nitpicky detail, and probably something only I could notice. It couldn’t always be helped though. I love here how I could keep the button band unsewn, so it looks like the button band on a normal sweater, with that dimensionality! The thick stabilizer unerneath will prevent stuffing from escaping.

 

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Some close shots of the lovely beadwork on the bottom of the Santa sweater. I just had to keep a detail like this. I’m already wondering how to replicate this in a handknit design.

This has been a fun project and a unique way to honor a passed friend. In the next few days I’ll wrap up with the final touches – removing lint, straightening edges and getting ready to send these pieces back to my client.

Repairing and Reknitting a Lace Knit Blanket

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post on a repair project.  So today I’ve got a post walking you through my thought process as I reknit an unraveled section of the blanket.  I thought this Hobbyhorse Blanket repair project was a good one to talk about my process and how I go about tackling a big repair.

This is going to be a very image-heavy post, so be forewarned.

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This is the blanket right out of the box it was mailed in.  The piece looks to be a cotton and rayon blend?  Not quite sure, and I’m not sure I want to do a burn test on it.  But it’s got a drapey quality, and it is able to be machine washed.  Looking at the piece I was immediately struck by the construction: lovely, lovely edging, and very unique and intricate lace hobbyhorse worked on each of the four corner panels (it’s a 3×3 panel blanket).

knit hobbyhorse

For reference, this is a hobbyhorse, looking how it’s supposed to look.  I’m actually assuming it’s supposed to be a hobbyhorse (based purely on the fact that it’s a crib blanket), I suppose it could also be a dog.  I think it’s a Barbra Walker lace pattern.  I’m actually not quite sure.  Now I’m going to have to go look it up. Anyone looking at this know the pattern? (I’ll update if I get a response)[Update: it IS a hobbyhorse, and WAS a Barbra Walker pattern. Ha!  I knew I’d seen it somewhere. It’s in Barbara’s Third Treasury of Knitting Designs pages 178 and 179].

Hobbyhorse completely unraveled

This is the repair I need to make right.  We’ve got lots and lots of dropped stitches, and it looks like two different pulls – one right above the cream, and one about halfway up, on the righthand side thats a lot smaller.  Right away I’m a little disappointed about the pulls – fixing pulls is so fiddly!  And I didn’t notice these on the photos the client took.

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First step is finding all the dropped stitches, each one captured with its own stitch marker.  At first I thought it was eight dropped stitches, but after taking this picture I found a 9th one on the left-hand side, caught by the remaining safety pin.  looking at things, the first thing I want to do is fix everything until all the cream dropped stitches are done.  That’s just all easy stockinette, so I take my crochet hook and ladder all those suckers up.  In this case, i love that the blanket has been loved and washed so much, those kinks in the yarn make it really easy to space those stitches out.

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Okay, so we’ve gotten everything up to the cream, I want to tackle that massive pulled stitch.IMG_20170213_150454231[1]

This pull is massive.  Nearly 20 stitches affected on the right.

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And another 10 stitches to the left.  Fun fun fun.  Well, lets sort through the strings here for the one that’s pulled to see what I’m working with.

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Well now, that’s a lot of yarn that isn’t where it is supposed to be.

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I decided to pull a bunch of the yarn through to where the end of the pull was, and work backwards, redistributing the yarn along. Again, the kinks in the yarn here are helping me, because when I place things right, the kink lines up and settles into the spot it once was in.

… Lots of time later…

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Okay, we’ve got the yarn redistributed on both sides.  It still looks a little wonky, but that’ll even out over time.  Let’s start tackling the lace pattern.  One of the good things here is I’ve got another hobbyhorse to compare to on the blanket, so I’m using that as a template.

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The first five rows were plain stockinette, so so I knitted those up quickly with my needles.  I’m not worrying so much about gauge right now – I’ll go back and fuss with things when I’m finished.

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This is where I’ve stopped – I have to figure out the lace section for the last bit, and I may have made a mistake.  Since I’d been at things for quite a while, I decided to give things a rest while I think through where I want to go next.

Keep tuned, and I’ll record the rest of the work on this project.

Little Turtle’s Sweater

Kimono SweaterA while back I made a sweater for Rebecca that fit for all of two minutes, and I’ve been wanting to make another since then.

A spare skein of Dragonfly Fiber’s Traveller in Flannel Pajamas and a size 6 needle, and I was on my way.  Stacey Trock had made her daughter a sweater using a kimono type sweater pattern, and I remember how she loved it because it only had two fastenings.  I looked around at a couple of different styles, decided I really didn’t like anything (mostly because a lot of them tie up, and Rebecca would untie things as quick as fastened them).  So I played around with the numbers and started knitting.

You know when everything in knitting goes well?  It’s a simple pattern, minimal shaping, and the yarn is a joy to work with?  Well, this is that sort of project.  I love Dragonfly Fiber’s Traveller base, I love the colors, and I like anticipating how cute this sweater is going to look on Rebecca.  I’ve got great needles to work on (nice a pointy, how I like them), and it’s nice to be working on something that well, isn’t for work.   A little bit of a break, you could say.  I’m going to have this done this week, and Rebecca will be able to wear it for the rest of the season, and it’s going to be wonderful.

I’ve got the body done, and I’ve got the sleeves done too.  All that remains is the final bit of seaming.  I can’t wait to have Little Turtle in the sweater, ready to wear.  As it is, it makes a cute vest.

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I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

PPS: also, appreciate this photo, above.  It’s really hard to get a picture of my daughter when she wants to wiggle.

New Classes at Dances With Wool

wwl-allIt’s always exciting when a new yarn store comes to the area – what yarns are they going to carry?  So it was super exciting when a few months ago Debbie Floyd, the owner of Dances with Wool, got in contact with me.  She was opening a new yarn store in Midlothian, VA.  And she wanted to talk to me about classes.

I’m so excited about this new yarn store to the Richmond VA area, especially as the Knitting Basket is closing.  While I haven’t been by the store since they had their opening, what I did see was a store focused on good quality yarn, beautiful patterns, community and classes.

Starting in November I’ll be teaching a Skill Building class focused around my pattern, Wild Wood Leaves.  It’s a crib blanket with options of three different sizes, and is currently only available if you take the class.  The wonder of this series of classes is you can take the entire series of eight (and get a discount on all of them) or pick and choose which ones you need the most.

The classes are as follows:

  • Week 1, Nov. 2, 6-7 pm – Reading Patterns, Knits and Purls (middle left panel)
  • Week 2, Nov. 9, 6-7 pm – Increases, Decreases and Yarn Overs, Beginning Lace (bottom left panel)
  • Week 3, Nov. 16, 6-7 pm – Color Work With Duplicate Stitch (bottom right panel)
  • Week 4, Nov. 30, 6-7 pm – Color Work With Intarsia (middle right panel)
  • Week 5, Dec. 7, 6-7 pm – Beginning Cables (top left panel)
  • Week 6, Dec. 14, 6-7 pm – Slip Stitches (top right panel)
  • Week 7, Jan. 4, 6-7 pm – Bringing It All Together with Seaming and Finishing (all)
  • Week 8, Jan. 11, 6-7 pm – Picking Up Stitches and Borders (all)

You can sign up for the classes here.

I can’t wait to begin teaching locally again!  I’ve missed being able to do it since Rebecca was born, and I’m so pleased to be able to spend time with students while establishing good foundational knitting skills.

You should also check out Dances with Wool!

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Fall Designs Featuring Animals

This fall I’ve got a number of designs coming out, and several of them are children’s garments featuring animals.  I’ve noticed an uptick in my interest in designing children’s garments (I wonder why? *coughlittleturtlecough*).  There’s two children’s designs I wanted to highlight today.

Raynard Willow YarnsRaynard is a children’s dress featuring sweet little foxes on the front of the body and pockets.  Featuring a folded over hem at the base of the dress and on the pockets, this simple and sweet dress is an idea that came into my mind fully formed.  I blame the proliferation of forest animals featured in baby items lately – foxes just seemed to be everywhere.

The Foxes are worked with duplicate stitch before the dress is assembled, meaning this project is very approachable to beginners looking to stretch their skills.  And with the majority of the pattern worked in the round, this dress fairly flies off the needles!

It was a joy working with Willow Yarn’s Daily Worsted – this blend is washable while still being durable and soft.  And with such a range of colors, you can come up with some adorable color combinations.  Willow even offers the pattern at a kit – which takes the decision making out of the process.

You can purchase and download the pattern here!

 


 

lok-window-cat-1 I’m also excited to tell you about my first pattern in Love of Knitting magazine.  This pattern features some animals near and dear to my heart – my cats, Peake and Watson.  I’d originally envisioned this as an adult pattern, but the editor of Love of Knitting, Deborah Gerish, pointed out how perfectly it would work as a children’s sweater.

I think she was correct.

Inspired by the silhouette of Peake and Watson as they sit on the window watching the outdoors and birds, the pattern is titled Window Cat.  The cats are written as intarsia, but could also be added after the fact with duplicate stitch.  I have them on the pattern facing away from the viewer, but with a little ingenuity, you could add eyes and whiskers so that they’re facing out.

The sweater is worked in Classic Elite Yarn’s Liberty Wool, one of my favorite yarns.  Liberty Wool is sturdy and soft and long-wearing.  It’s washable and comes in SO MANY COLORS.  While the solid colors are stunning, I also think it would be fun to make the cats calico – by using one of their variegated yarns in browns and oranges and whites.  I have so many ideas for how to adapt the pattern!

I also love the finishing details on this pattern – the vintage buttons match the sweater perfectly.  They’re not too upscale.  Instead they match the quality of the sweater, casual and much-loved.

I love the brown of the trim, the garter stitch around the yoke, the crochet trim around the neck.  Simply put, I love the way this pattern turned out.

I have to admit, I have some plans for this motif in the future – I’d love to turn it into a matching hat and cowl pattern too!  So many potential options!

Do you have cats?  How would you customize this pattern?

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SVFF on Saturday

Little Turtle wakes us up around 5 in the morning, so for the first time the morning drive to SVFF I wasn’t drifting off to sleep.  The three of us left our house around 5:50 am, and began winding our way through Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley.  We watched the sun bleed through the trees, and fog linger over the fields with the mist thick enough to obscure your view barely six feet into the field.  We wound through farms and orchards, Little Turtle talking and gurgling in the back.  Pulling into the fairgrounds, the air was cool and I pulled on my sweater while we set up.

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Today I was teaching Helix Knitting, using my Circle Game pattern.  It was such a great group of ladies – interested in learning, willing to try, and determined in the face of mistakes.  I was a little nervous –  not about teaching the class, but having Little Turtle along.  It was my first time teaching in-person since becoming a mama.  Michael was a champ – helping with setup, wrangling Little Turtle, and driving us where we needed to go.

After class we got to visit with a good friend from the Washington, DC area who was taking Patty Z‘s blending class.  I’m so envious!  If I didn’t have a baby, I’d be all over Patty’s classes on spinning cellulose fibers.  Ah, well.  Another time.  Once we wrapped up and said goodbye to our friend, it was for a walk around the fairgrounds, where we could see vendors setting up and preview some of the wares.  The vendors don’t start selling until tomorrow, but it’s fun to see how various vendors have gotten their booth transportation down to a science – slotting in every piece into the back of a car or trailer.

This evening we’ll get a special treat.  The hotel room has a TV, and we’ll watch all the television we don’t at home (since we don’t have at TV).  I’ll work on a pattern that’ll be in Crochet World next year, and we’ll get to bed early.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Duct Tape Dress Forms, and getting to see a bit more of the festival.

Have you been to any Fiber Festivals this fall?  Are you planning on going to any?

 

Parental Leave, Repair and Finishing

Sweater repair with guidelines.

Sweater repair with guidelines.

If you’ve been following the blog in the last few weeks, you’ll have noticed Michael is writing a series on Maternity and Parental leave.  You can read Parts 1 & 2, and there’ll be a third part coming out next week.  I’ve been enjoying reading about his perspective as Mr. Turtle.  While Michael and I came to deciding on Tinking Turtle’s policy together, our thought processes in some ways were very different.  I struggled with the day-to-day operations: how is this going to affect myself and the customers?  He thought more about the big picture: how are we going to match our leave policy to our values?  How have others handled parental leave in the industry?

One of the things we were both on the same page about was being transparent to our customers – I want to be clear about why we’re making the choices and decisions we are, with plenty of lead-time to accommodate changes.

As of yesterday, I made the decision to stop accepting submissions for Repair and Finishing until after Little Turtle arrives.  Over the weekend we took a hard look at my workload, due dates, obligations and commitments.  We came to the conclusion that I’m nearly at max capacity for designing, teaching and finishing/repair.

If I’ve accepted your piece and you’ve made arrangements to pick it up with me, you will not be affected.  If I have your piece already, you’ll be getting it back well before the baby comes.  But chances are, anything new that comes my way will have to be tabled until the end of June or the beginning of July.

If you are still interested in finishing or repair, you have a few options.  Right now, I have a signup list to be notified when I begin accepting repair work again (note: if you are on my mailing list, this list is completely separate).  If it is a true knitting or crochet emergency, drop me a note, as I have a very tiny bit of wiggle room for small and contained projects.  And for some types of finishing or repairs, I may have another resource to point you towards.

Got questions about what’s going on?  As always, ask away in the comments or drop me an email.  I always love hearing from customers!

Tutorial: How to Unwind a Skein

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About a week ago I got a great question from Mary, one of my students and customers.  She wrote, “How do you unravel a twist of yarn? Made a mess and I am sure there is a correct way but I’m not privy it and I have three more to go….Mary.”  When Mary was talking about a twist of yarn, she was talking about a skein.  And this can be quite puzzling if you’ve never dealt with yarn stored this way.

I thought it was a great question, so I’ve put together a tutorial about it.  Since it’s a fairly picture-heavy post, I’ve put the rest of the post behind a cut so the photographs won’t slow down the loading time on the website.

But first, why is yarn stored in skeins, and not pre-wound for customers?  There are a couple of different reasons.  First, it’s generally agreed that keeping your yarn wound into balls for long periods of time can stretch out the yarn, especially if the yarn is wound up tightly. Keeping it in a skein allows the yarn to breathe a bit more.  Second, it’s easier for yarn companies to ship their yarn in skeins: they take up less space, squish better, and lie flatter in boxes.  Yarn that is in balls tends to be hard for LYS’s to store – I used to call a couple of different balled yarns “tribbles,” as they seemed to jump off the shelves whenever my back was turned.  Finally, for hand-dyed yarns, gradients and a few other yarns, skeins allow customers to see all the colors in the skein better, so they’re not surprised by a “mystery color.”

So that’s why you often may get your yarn in skeins from a Local Yarn Store.  Most stores offer balling services if you buy the yarn in the store or if you pay a small fee.  But do expect to wait – often sales clerks have to fit in the winding of yarn around their other duties!

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