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Summer Knitting, A Time to Think

Since Earth Day I stepped back to reevaluate & KNIT! But, of course, local has been on my mind in a big way. Here are some ruminations from a rainy season of yarn, iced tea, and sand in my toes.

My new sweater on a mannequin in my studio craft room. Can't wait for cold weather!

Summer, Knitting and Solitary Time

It's been a quiet summer for Locally Dressed. One filled with solitary time and reflection. And knitting! I knit my first two sweaters. One I was working on at the beach this year for a friend's new baby. The other, a sweater for myself, I just completed. I had knit two vests and a hat, but there was something about an entire sweater that was more daunting.

Choosing a Design

Close Up showing front stitch & in color!

I choose a Knits 'n Knots pattern that used circular needles for the most part. I didn't want to sew together pieces for my first try. It seemed more efficient to do it in the round. I learned this knitting up the baby sweater, which was in the round with raglan sleeves.

I also picked this pattern because I have crocheted some items from this designer and found her patterns easy to read and very user friendly! If you're an expert knitter, you might find her detail too much. But for someone new to knitting, it is great. She includes links to 'how tos' for intermediate and more advanced stitching. And it's an all in one package.

Free Patterns Can be Good Too

When I knit up the baby raglan, which was a free knit (yes, some are actually OK!) I only had issues under the arms with loose stitches when I picked them up to complete the sleeves. Every new knit is a learning experience when you are learning.

I learned a few things with the baby sweater that I was determined to keep in mind while creating the big sweater. So if you have thought about knitting, or are a newer knitter yourself, here it goes (if neither - just skip this list!):

  • It is really difficult to knit in the round with baby sleeves - they are so tiny!!

  • Three-needle knitting (double pointed) isn't quite as easy as you think! Ok, the knitting is BUT it is kinda difficult to keep good yarn tension between each needle.

  • I found that using the Magic Loop technique was the easiest - fewer stitches to worry about yarn tension.

  • You have to be willing to pull out your knitting and begin again if it looks wonky.

  • YouTube is your friend and can offer you different methods to solve your problem. You need to dedicate some time to finding a solution if you're having an issue.

  • If all else fails, call a friend or a yarn store and see if someone can provide hands-on advice. This has the double advantage of getting you connected with the store so you can go to them for fiber in the future! Around the Keene, NH area, Green Mountain Spinnery is a great place - those people can knit!

Needless to say, the baby sweater had some mistakes and took much longer than I originally thought (note bullet on pulling out stitches when it doesn't look right!) I learned so much creating it and my friend graciously said it was perfect!

Making garments for friends might be one of the best ideas for improving knitting skills. Baked in is a desire to have it look its best, incentive to remove stitches and redo! And you can always start with a hat or scarf, quite a bit easier!

It's my baby sweater (with embroidery stitching removed and blurred). It isn't your eyes - its a bit wonky.

Onward to Full-Sized Sweater

I wish I could say that creating the baby sweater made the full-sized sweater a breeze. I didn't choose a raglan sleeve, so the knitting was a bit different, putting stitches on holds and then picking them up again across the neckline, as well as around the arms. I learned that this style of knitting requires specific bind-off methods. I didn't follow the method suggested - not a good idea! And then, had to learn how to fix my collar when it stretched out! YouTube to the rescue again!

Final Piece of Knitting Advice for a Novice from a Novice

If a designer suggests a certain style of bind-off or stitching - use it! There is a reason, even if they don't explicitly state it! If the method seems difficult and you find it isn't quite looking right - knit up a quick swatch to work out the kinks. It will be worth the time!

Local to southwestern NH? I'm talking at the UCC in Keene, NH in October

Want to see some of the things I made during my year in local clothing as a novice? Or, view some of the items I purchased from local manufacturers or learn more about regional Fibersheds? Do you have a question about my experience or just want to meet to talk local clothing, supply chains, and the benefits of wearing garments longer to help the environment?

Well, I've been invited to speak to the Women's Group at the UCC in Keene, NH on October 10th from 1-2pm about my year in local and regional Fibersheds. Interested in attending? Contact the UCC Women's Group to reserve your seat at 603-357-3126. (Space is limited.)


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