Need some more ideas for summertime knitting? Check out Kristi Porter's two excellent books on the subject.
Knitting in the Sun and More Knitting in the Sun are written by a California knitter who still finds ways to knit -- and use her knits -- all year long. In these books you'll find accessories, sleeveless, short-sleeved and long-sleeved items, wraps and other goodies for the warm weather, whether that's just a couple months of the year where you live or all year round.
The first book focuses on projects for women, while the second book is all about kids. I actually liked the second book better because of the variety and the fact that many of the projects go up to size 12 -- and you don't find a lot of knitting patterns fitting that demographic.
If you've read or knit from either of these books, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Cotton yarn is not just for washcloths, though of course that's a great use for it and I have made a bunch of knit washcloths through the years (my daughter loves using them, too, which is a bonus). Here are some more project ides for working with this versatile yarn.
- The Slip Stitch Baby Blanket is one of my all-time favorites. Cotton is perfect for a summer baby and parents will appreciate that it's machine washable.
- Speaking of summer babies, the Cotton Beanie is a super-simple and quick knitting project that can easily be embellished to suit mom's taste.
- Bamboo stitch is a lot of fun to knit, and this three-color Bamboo Stitch Table Runner makes a nice statement on your table any time of year.
- Another interesting choice for the table is the Andalusian Stitch Napkin. It's a commitment to knit a whole set, but they sure are pretty.
- Finish off your knit table with quick and easy Cabled Napkin Rings.
- And if you're tired of knitting washcloths, try a Soap Sack to hold your favorite bar and give it a little scrubbing action.
For the past couple of months I've been sharing some articles from Creative Knitting magazine's editor, Kara Gott Warner, that have given us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into putting a knitting magazine together.
She told us all about the submissions process and how themes and color stories come into play as the knit garments are produced, and today she's sharing all about the photo shoot. It's always interesting to me how the knit items are presented in magazines, and I imagine that's a really fun but difficult job to decide how best to show off a knit while showing the readers exactly what they need to see to decide if it's a project they want to knit.
I hope you've enjoyed this series, and I'd love to hear if its inspired you to try your hand at knitwear design, or if you have any other thoughts. Kara and I are brewing up more goodness, so stay tuned for that as well.
Cotton is one of the most environmentally hazardous fibers to produce, because so many pesticides are used to grow cotton. That's why it's worth considering using organic cotton if you can afford it or if you're knitting for children or someone who might be particularly sensitive to environmental chemicals.
The good news is there are a lot of different organic options on the market for knitters who want to use them. Here's a look at a few.
- Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton is a really organic feeling, kind of bumpy textured yarn that's soft and squishy
- Kollage Hope is a lovely, creamy lightweight yarn made completely in the United States, further reducing its footprint
- Galler Yarns Inca-Eco Cotton is a highly textured organic cotton yarn that comes in lovely colors and is a lot of fun for simple projects
I admit I don't use organic yarn all the time, but I do think it makes a difference when you're knitting something really special. Have you tried organic yarns? Did you notice a difference? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I don't know about where you live, but where I am we seem to have skipped the end of spring entirely, with a jump from warmish springlike to snow and back again (in the past two weeks) and a forecast this week that looks a lot more like mid-June than mid-May. Which has me thinking about summer knitting, putting aside the wool and alpaca for cotton, bamboo, light-weight yarns and smaller projects.
In case you're thinking that way, too, I thought I'd spend some time this week looking at cotton and other yarns and projects that are great for summer knitting. Cotton yarn is favored among summertime knitters because it is rather light-weight, really strong, takes dye well and is machine washable and dryable. It can be a little hard to knit with if you have wrist problems, and it tends to sag when it gets wet, but it's still a great choice for a whole lot of projects.
Interested in learning more about different kinds of cotton yarn? Here are a few that I have reviewed:
- Lily Sugar'n Cream, which may be what most people think of when they hear "cotton yarn;" it's a classic kitchen cotton great for washcloths and other projects
- Martha Stewart Crafts Cotton Hemp, a smooth and somewhat shiny yarn great for home projects
- Lion Brand Recycled Cotton (pictured) is one of my favorites, soft and pretty
- Red Heart Eco Cotton is a nice blend of recycled cotton fibers and acrylic, so it's kind of half eco-friendly
Do you knit with cotton yarn? Do you have a favorite? What do you make with it? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Being Mother's Day week, it seems appropriate to take a minute to think about knitting for yourself. Of course it's not just moms who put themselves last when it comes to knitting (or anything else, for that matter) but moms often have to be really conscious about doing something nice for themselves.
So Debbie Bliss and I give you permission to cast on something that's just for you and work on it this weekend. If you need some ideas of what you might make, check out her book Knits for You and Your Home. These projects are designed to help you indulge, cocoon, pamper and detox (which really means make simple organizational projects for your home and crafty space). There are tops, hats, a lacy collar, a giant pouf, a cozy cowl and a lot more.
Of course these projects would make lovely gifts, too, but try not to think about that right now, OK?
What's the last thing you knit for yourself? I'd love to hear about it!
When you're a new knitter, making things for your home is a great place to start, because you can practice making bigger projects but they don't necessarily have to come out a perfect size. What is an afghan, after all, but a really, really big scarf?
You can also use pretty simple stitch patterns on a big scale to make striking, modern looking decor items for your home even if you're a relatively new knitter. British knitwear designer Ruth Cross has lots of ideas that will help you do just that in her book The Knitted Home.
I think of this book more as an idea book than a pattern book, though there are specific projects in here, too. It shows a lot of different ways that knitting can be used in the home that you can copy directly or put your own spin on to cover your home in knits, no matter your skill level.
Do you ever knit for your home? I'd love to hear what kind of projects you like to make.
I love knitting baby blankets for the new little ones in my life. It's my standard go-to gift for mom friends, and they're a lot of fun because there's so many different things you can do, and pretty much no matter what size it turns out or what time of year the child is born it's going to be useful. And it will last a lot longer than an adorable little sweater.
If you need some new patterns to add to your baby knitting arsenal, check out 60 Quick Baby Blankets. Like other books in the series, this one uses Cascade Yarns -- in this case 220 Superwash and 128 Superwash -- and offers up a variety of blankie ideas, from stripes to chevrons, intarsia monkeys and owls to lace and cables.
This is a nice collection to keep on hand for when the need to knit a baby blanket strikes or if you like to knit blankets for charity. If you've read the book I'd love to hear your thoughts!
During my weekend with the Yarn Harlot (saying that just never gets old!) we talked a few times about the importance of using the right cast on and bind off for your particular project.
When you're knitting socks, for instance, you need a stretchy cast on in you're going top down or a stretchy bind off if you're going toe up. When knitting with silk hankies like we were doing, you need stretch on both ends of the project because the "yarn" has no elasticity of its own.
I think we knitters know intuitively that there are better choices for some projects, but we still use the same cast ons and bind offs we always do. Probably because we don't know where to look for advice or how to know which beginning or ending is best for which projects.
Enter Leslie Ann Bestor, whose book Cast On Bind Off includes more than 50 options for the beginning and end of your project. It explains the properties of different cast ons and bind offs and includes handy lists of the best techniques for certain times, such as when you need to bind off lace or cast on for ribbing. This books is also small, portable and has a lot of pictures, so you can carry it with you and easily find and execute the perfect cast on or bind off for whatever project you're working.
Do you have a favorite cast on or bind off? I'd love to hear!
Last year I learned of a super-special opportunity that was happening in my home state: the Yarn Harlot, aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, was coming to visit, to give a public lecture and to teach some small classes as part of a knitting retreat.
The classes would only be open to 18 people, selected via lottery.
Of course I threw my name in the hat, and luckily I was selected as one of the few who gets to spend the whole weekend with her. We'll be getting three classes, as well as the public lecture and hopefully some time to knit together, too.
For those of you who don't have a knitting retreat planned this weekend, maybe you can check out one of Stephanie's books:
- Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off
- All Wound Up
- Free Range Knitter
- Things I Learned from Knitting (Whether I Wanted to or Not)
Somehow I've never reviewed a few of hers, and I've actually never read the one that's just called The Yarn Harlot, so it's coming in my bag with me.
I hope you all get some good knitting in this weekend, wherever you are! And if you want to follow along on my adventure, I'm going to try to keep my Facebook page well updated. There will probably be some Instagramming going on as well.