Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Spring Cleaning: Getting Started

Over the next few weeks I will be posting about spring cleaning tasks.  We all hate it, yet we all know that it must be done.  I like to think that I'm a clean person all year long... but pull out my stove or refrigerator and I'm absolutely horrified at the mess that accumulates under and behind them!

This year to make my spring cleaning a little more fun for me I'm documenting some of it and writing up tips and tricks I've learned over the years.  I hope this will help out some of you that dislike this daunting task as much as I do.

First thing I always do is gather my supplies.  I usually don't have all my cleaning stuff in one location throughout the year.  I keep certain things in certain cabinets or rooms.  When I start my spring cleaning though, I gather everything together in an easy to carry container, so that I can move from room to room without running all over the house to grab this or that.

Speaking of running from room to room, some tasks are better split up for me, while some I do all of throughout the house at one time.  Each week when I dust the ceiling fans, I do all of them first before I get started with the weekly cleaning, rather than doing the fan in each room while cleaning each room.  I take the same approach to certain tasks during spring cleaning.

Baseboards, on the other hand, I do while doing the room they are in.  One year I thought it would be a great idea to do all the baseboards in the whole house in one day.  Ummmm, yeah, I couldn't stand up after a couple hours of that and didn't even manage to get them all done that day.  So, for me baseboards get done for each room on a different day!

I like to make a realistic list of what tasks I want to accomplish and make myself a schedule.  Then I try really hard to stick to that spring cleaning schedule and not get distracted or side tracked with daily or weekly tasks.  As much as I dislike making to-do lists (mainly because I forget where I put it when I need it) I do make a list on my phone of everything I want to get done and mark it off as I do it.  I usually allow about a month to get everything done, but that is mainly because I only work on my tasks in small chunks of time, rather than killing myself trying to get it all done in one weekend.

The last little thing I do before I get started is to find a few audio books and make a few playlists.  I have found that when I'm doing tasks that are mundane and boring (like scrubbing baseboards) listening to an audio book is a lot better for me than music.  However, on the flip side of that, I must have up beat dance type music on when I am shampooing the carpets.

So, gather your supplies, make a schedule, put together your listening pleasures and let's get our houses organized and cleaned together!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ask Mary: How to Translate Needle Knitting Pattern to Loom Knitting

Q:  Can I use needle knitting patterns for loom knitting?  If so how?

A:  The short answer is yes, needle patterns can be used for loom knitting.  It isn't overly difficult to translate the pattern, but to cut down on the frustration of it not looking right, there are a few things to take into consideration.

If the needle knitting pattern is written for knitting in the round, no changes are needed.  All you have to do at that point is figure out your gauge and which loom to use or how many pegs to cast on.  You can't always follow the stitch and row count of a needle knitting pattern exactly, unless your gauge is exactly the same.

TIP:  Find needle knit patterns for circular needles and work them as flat panels on a loom to create something that is not round or a tube.  Such as, you really like a hat or cowl pattern that is worked on circular needles... no one said you can only make a hat or cowl with it.  Work the pattern back and forth without connecting the ends to make a scarf or shawl.  The only thing to figure out then will be your gauge and how many times to repeat the pattern to achieve the desired size.

Speaking of gauge, when you first start doing your own pattern translations it is easy to forget that one minor thing that will actually make or break your project expectations.  GAUGE!!!  Check it!!  Yes it is a needle pattern, but it should tell you what yarn and needles to use.  Use that information to cross check it using the chart I posted on Knitting Loom Gauge and Size.  This will at least give you a starting point.

Now on to how to take a straight needle knit pattern and make that item on the loom as a flat knit piece.  The simple way to do it is to change every other row to the opposite of what it says.  Pick either the even rows or the odd rows, and write it all out before you start, then work from your written pattern.

For example for simple stockinette stitch:

Needle pattern:  Row 1: Knit every stitch
                           Row 2: Purl every stitch
                           Continue repeating Row 1 & 2

Loom pattern:  Row 1:  Knit every stitch
                         Row 2:  Knit every stitch
                         Continue repeating Row 1 & 2

NOTE:  If a needle pattern calls for you to 'work in garter stitch' for so many inches or rows, on needles that means knit every row... but on the loom it means to work a row of knit then a row of purl.

Sometimes I will convert all the odd rows (which usually are considered the Wrong Side (WS) in needle patterns.  This is simply so that I don't confuse myself.  However, occasionally I run across a project where it is easier to convert the even rows.  Let's look at the needle version of the Old Shale Stitch (which by the way, is actually the Old Shale stitch, but most refer to as the Fan & Feather Stitch.  For a close look at the two and the difference take a look at the post:  Knitting Techniques:  Old Shale Stitch over on the Craftsy Blog.)

Usually written as:
Multiples of 18
Row 1:  (Right Side) Knit across
Row 2:  Purl across
Row 3:  *(K2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times, (k2tog) 3 times; repeat from * across
Row 4:  Knit across
Repeat Rows 1-4

In this case the only difficult line is Row 3, so rather than trying to do the opposite of that I simply do the opposite of the even rows.
Looks like this:
Multiples of 18
Row 1:  (Right Side) Knit across
Row 2:  Knit across
Row 3:  *(K2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times, (k2tog) 3 times; repeat from * across
Row 4:  Purl across
Repeat Rows 1-4

I want to point out that when I say do the opposite of what the needle pattern says, I don't mean work the row backwards.  I mean do the opposite stitch.  Knits and Purls are the opposite of each other.  In the example above IF for whatever reason you wanted to stick to converting the Odd Rows it would look like this:
Multiples of 18
Row 1:  (Right Side) Purl across
Row 2:  Purl across
Row 3:  *(P2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times, (p2tog) 3 times; repeat from * across
Row 4:  Knit across
Repeat Rows 1-4

That to me is WAY too much purling!  That's why I use the Even Rows to do the opposite on this one.

If you run across a pattern that has a lot of yarn overs and k2tog (like above), you will have to be patient while you learn the stitch.  You may have to move your stitches around on your loom as you are working (so the yarn doesn't get so tight you can't keep going) or you may have to use stitch holders like when making cables.  Some needle patterns are just too fiddly or time consuming to even worry with... for me anyway.

Keep in mind that needle knitting with straight needles requires you to turn your work at the end of each row and go back the other direction.  With loom knitting you don't turn you work, you simply just go the other direction while your knitting is still facing the same way.

I hope this will help you to get started in translating patterns!  It takes time and effort, but with a little patience you can make just about anything on a loom that is made on needles.

If you have a question you would like for me to answer in my weekly Ask Mary series, please send your question to:  Put ASK MARY in the subject line to make sure that I don't over look your question.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Knitting Loom Gauge and Size

Using the correct gauge loom for a certain project and yarn can make all the difference in the world how the finished item will look when done.  I encourage you to make notes for yourself when you make gauge swatches, so that you don't have to constantly repeat your swatches.

Different Loom Gauges
Most loom manufacturers state the loom gauge as a fraction of an inch.  The measurement is the distance from the center of a peg to center of the next peg.  You may see it written as C2C Space or C2C Gauge or just as Gauge.  

The standard gauges used by various loom makers are in the following chart.

This chart is just a guide.  For various types of yarns you can use a larger or smaller loom to achieve various looks.  For example most lace is done with Fine yarn or smaller but using a larger loom to achieve the open, airy look.  Another example is using Twisted Knit Stitches (ewrap) with a larger yarn on a smaller loom or using multiple strands of a smaller yarn on a larger loom.  This chart doesn't cover the various ways to set up a double rake for double knitting.

Loom Knitting Patterns
If you are following a pattern specifically for loom knitting try to use the loom and yarn listed in the pattern.  If that is not possible substitutions can be done and still achieve an item fairly close to the pattern.  This takes some trial and error and some practice.  Do a gauge swatch with the loom and yarn you wish to use to determine if it will work for that pattern.

Needle Knitting Patterns
If you are following a needle knit pattern get a yarn as close to the same weight as the one used in the pattern that you can get.  Look at the size needles the pattern calls for and use the chart above to determine which loom to use based on the needle size in the pattern.  I always suggest doing a gauge swatch and comparing it to the gauge measurement listed in the pattern.  If your swatch is too big (your number of stitches is the same but it measures bigger in inches) use a smaller loom, and if your swatch is too small (same number of stitches but measures smaller in inches) try using a bigger loom.  There is no fool proof way to get it exactly right.

I hope that the chart and notes I have here will help you get started.  Remember to make notes for yourself as you go.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Ask Mary: Can I make this?

Something I get asked a lot is if a certain item can be crocheted, knitted or loom knitted.  Usually there is an accompanying picture, but not always.  Most of the time it is either a crocheter wanting to make something that was knitted or a knitter wanting make something that was crocheted.  Another scenario where I am asked this question is someone wondering if they can make an item they have never seen a pattern for.

First of all if you can imagine it or think of it, then yes you can make it.  That doesn't mean it will be easy to figure out or that someone else already has a pattern written that you can follow.  But, if you can think of something then you can make it if you take the time to put in the effort of figuring out how to make it.  One other small point along these same lines:  If you are a beginner at your craft and see a pattern for something marked expert or advanced don't be afraid of it.  You can still make it.  Take your time, read all the directions first and look up the things you don't know and make notes.  Then when you actually start to work on the item take it one step at a time, you will be surprised at what you are capable of doing!

Now onto "Can I crochet this knit item?" and "Can I knit this crochet item?"  The simple answer is:  You can make something very close, but not something identical.  There are a few stitches in crochet that are mock knit stitches and a few stitches in knit that are mock crochet stitches.  But, in general if you want something that looks identical to the picture then use the craft and methods that the item in the picture was made with.  If you want an item that in general is close to the item in the picture then sure you can make it with a different craft but the exact stitches won't be the same.

There are a few books that I have seen over the years that will help you translate crochet into knitting and knitting into crochet.  There is also a club (Annie's Hook and Needle Kit Club) ran by Annie's Attic that will send you a project each month that has the yarn and instructions for making an item that has the pattern written for knitting and crochet.

Another question I am asked frequently is if needle knit patterns and stitches can be converted to loom knitting, and if so how.   Next week I will be answering the question of how to convert needle knit patterns to loom knitting.

If you have a question you would like for me to answer in my weekly Ask Mary series please send your question to:  Put ASK MARY in the subject line to make sure that I don't over look your question.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Loom Knitting: Design Your Own Ski Mask

Someone in a group I am in was looking for a warm, easy to make ski mask and in the search there are not many patterns out there for loom knitting a ski mask... so I decided to attempt to help by writing up a basic overview for designing a ski mask.

This isn't a step-by-step tutorial or a pattern, but a basis to get started with.  I don't have any of the pictures of ski masks I've made, but the next one I make I will take pictures of it and add them in here.

For this, you can use any loom and yarn you want that will work with your measurements.