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Arm Knitting Books and a Free Pattern

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Now that arm knitting has been big for a while, there are starting to be printed booklets and pattern collections devoted to the technique.

magenta medley arm knittingThe Magenta Medley arm knit scarf by Mary Beth Temple. Design Originals.

If you like that classic cowl pattern that is so often what you see when people talk about arm knitting, the Leisure Arts pamphlet Learn to Arm Knit is a fun choice. It shows the same pattern worked in more than 30 different yarn combinations, so you can really see how different the same project can look worked in different colors, textures and weights of yarn. This booklet also includes a finger crocheted scarf and has links to video tutorials if you need to see the technique in action.

Want a little more variety in your arm knitting patterns? Mary Beth Temple's Arm Knitting has 15 different patterns, including basic scarves and cowls, of course, but also shawls and projects that use different stitch patterns. There are even some that aren't that bulky. Temple's publisher kindly allowed me to share the Magenta Medley scarf pattern, which uses eyelash yarn and just three stitches for a less voluminous project (though you'll see my version, made with random yarn I found in my office, is a bit bulkier, but I still love it).

Alluring Arm Knitting

Monday April 21, 2014

I have been skeptical of arm knitting for a long time. Sure, it's great to be able to finish a project really fast, and it's good for stash busting because you're using three or more yarns at a time, but I'm not a huge fan of the look of the really bulky projects -- usually scarves and cowls -- that are made with this method.

arm knittingAn arm knitting project in progress. Sarah E. White.

It looks to me a lot like knitting with size 50 US knitting needles, which I'd rather do, frankly, because it's easier to put down a project when it's on needles than when it's on your arms.

But I finally tried an arm knitting project, something smaller than the things you usually see, and I have to admit it was fun and I do like it. Even starting off not knowing how to do it at all, it took just a couple of minutes to figure out what I was doing and the whole project was done in less than half an hour. There's certainly something to be said for making an accessory that I can wear today (which I am).

If you're skeptical, too, check out my roundup of arm knitting resources, and stay tuned this week for some book reviews, patterns, tips and more.

Have you ever done arm knitting? What did you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Books to Help You Knit Green

Friday April 18, 2014

Need a little more inspiration for eco-friendly knitting? Check out these books.

knitting greenKnitting Green by Ann Budd. Interweave Press.

Knitting Green by Ann Budd includes essays on things such as assumptions about green knitting, a shop owner's view of organic yarn choices and natural dyeing, among other issues. It also includes 20 patterns worked with eco-friendly fibers to get you started on your sustainable knitting journey.

Joanne Seiff's Knit Green covers a lot of different options a person concerned about the environment might think about when it comes to knitting, such as supporting biodiversity, vegan knitting, fair trade and recycling. This one also has 20 projects using yarn with the features described in the essays.

Sweater Renewal by Sharon Franco Rothschild is a fun one that isn't actually a knitting book. This one offers options for remaking old sweaters -- whether you knit them or bought them -- into home decor items and accessories.

And while "local" is relative, Knit Local by Tanis Gray encourages thinking about where your yarn comes from and how far it has to travel to get to you and highlights 28 yarn companies from the United States and Canada that use domestically sourced materials to lighten the ecological load and support in-country fiber production.

Knit Bags for Shopping and Beyond

Thursday April 17, 2014

If you're not collecting plastic bags to make plarn, one of the simplest things you can do to help the environment in a small way is to stop using plastic shopping bags. It's pretty easy to get in the habit of bringing your own reusable bags when you go shopping, and it's all the more fun when you can use bags that you made yourself.

lace market bagThis market bag is a great choice for hauling items from the farmer's market, and it's really easy to knit. Sarah E. White.

I love this Ribbed Lace Market Bag for trips to the farmer's market or other places where you just need a little bag. The mesh makes it light and easy to fold up and carry with you, while the bag itself is made out of linen, which is really strong and will allow it to last through lots of trips to the market.

Or try the fun Felted Market Bag by Eileen Casey, perfect for trips to the yarn store!

If you're looking for other ways to bag things up with knitting, check out my full collection of bag knitting patterns.

Make Your Own Yarn from T-shirts and Other Materials

Wednesday April 16, 2014

One eco-friendly way of getting knitting supplies that we sort of touched on yesterday is by upcycling, or making yarn out of some other material that was already in existence as something else. T-shirt yarn is a common example. I have a whole box full of T-shirts that one day I really will make into a quilt, and many of them I've cut the bottoms off of to make into T-shirt yarn. It's a relatively easy process but it can be really hard on your hands to cut through all that material and to keep the "yarn" a somewhat consistent thickness.

plarn bagI made this little bag for holding coupons out of plastic yarn. Sarah E. White.

When you've made your yarn, you should know that it can be a little difficult to work with, but it's still a lot of fun for projects like this super-sturdy bag. I love this one for outdoor activities or even the beach because you can wash it in the washing machine.

Another kind of upcycled yarn is known as plarn or plastic yarn, which is made out of plastic shopping bags. This isn't as nice to work with as yarn made out of fabric, but it's still fun to try (and can give you a use for those bags that's not just using them as bags).

 

Reuse and Recycle Your Yarn

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Another great way to make your knitting a little lighter on the environment is to reuse yarn from old projects you are no longer using or to buy sweaters at the thrift store and unravel them for reknitting. I had a sweater -- one of the first I even knit -- that actually ended up with some bizarreness around the armholes such that it was physically impossible to wear. After letting it sit like that for a couple of years I ripped the sweater apart, unraveled it and have been using the yarn for lots of other purposes since.

silk yarnRecycled silk yarn. Sarah E. White.

You can also purchase yarn that includes recycled materials. One of the most beautiful in recycled silk yarn such as Darn Good Silk. This is made from leftovers of the sari production process and is great because it keeps those little bits out of the trash. Similarly, Lion Brand Fettuccini yarn is made from the remnants of T-shirt manufacturing. It's a really fun, quick knitting yarn that's great for home accessories (like this bowl, which my daughter insists is a hat).

Lion Brand's Recycled Cotton is another great yarn that includes some recycled content. If you look around you can find a fair number of these types of yarn.

Have you ever ripped out a project to reuse the yarn or knit with recycled fibers? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Knit Greener with Eco-Friendly Yarns

Monday April 14, 2014

With Earth Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take some time to think about how we as knitters can tread a little more lightly on the planet. Yes, knitting can keep us warm, which might lower our use of central heat in the winter, but yarn production and shipping fibers around the world means knitting doesn't always have the greatest eco-footprint (and no, stash does not really count as insulation, in fact, looked at this way, it's a waste of precious resources).

owool balanceI love this yarn, which is a mix of organic merino and organic cotton. Sarah E. White.

So why not start with yarn? There are many different options out there that are billed as being ecologically sound, or at least more so than conventionally produced fibers and those made with petrochemicals.

But much like when it comes to food, picking the greenest yarn depends a bit on what you value most. Is it better to buy a locally produced yarn from the farmer's market, where you know you're supporting local agriculture even if the production methods aren't that eco-friendly? Or would you rather buy organic fibers even if they have to be shipped across the country?

I will admit that I don't think about it that much. But I would love to hear how you decide to buy a certain yarn and if eco-friendliness plays a role!

More Knits from Literature

Friday April 11, 2014

Clearly I've got a bit of a theme going this week, and I have one more book to add to the mix. What Else Would Madame Defarge Knit? is a sequel to the book of almost the same name that came out a few years ago. Both books involve knitters getting inspired by some of their favorite books and characters to design different knitting projects.

what else would madame defarge knitWhat Else Would Madame Defarge Knit? edited by Heather Ordover. Cooperative Press.

In this installment there's a little bird from The Secret Garden, a shawl inspired by Penelope from The Odyssey, and, I kid you not, a layette for Rosemary's Baby among many other projects.

(I mean, come on, isn't a layette for the spawn of Satan worth the price of admission?)

This book is so interesting to me because it's fun to see what books and characters people were inspired by and how that translated into knitting. This book will surely add to your reading list as well as your knitting queue!

Knits Inspired by the Library

Thursday April 10, 2014

It's not true, of course, that every librarian is a knitter or that these two particular pursuits overlap more than any others, but there is a cliche in some people's minds that librarians and knitters are the same kind of people: prim, matronly, proper.

stitching in the stacksStitching in the Stacks, edited by Sarah Barbour. Cooperative Press.

We know better, of course, and so do the knitters who contributed to Sarah Barbour's fun book Stitching in the Stacks. This book's 29 projects are inspired by libraries and librarians, past, present, real and imagined.

These projects include sweaters, shawls, mitts and vests for use in the library and beyond. There's a French press cozy featuring call numbers for coffee, and a cowl striped by the Dewey Decimal number for knitting. But there are also projects you'd never know where inspired by books, which is part of the fun. (Though I really can't resist that knit bookworm.)

Add Some Personalization to Your Knitting

Wednesday April 9, 2014

I think knitters are knitters in part because we love to have things that aren't like the things other people have. And one way to ensure that our projects are completely unique is to add an initial, monogram or favorite word to a project.

knitted alphabetThe Knitted Alphabet by Kate Haxell and Sarah Hazell. Barron's Educational Series.

But sometimes it's hard to find interesting alphabets for knitting. The Knitted Alphabet by Kate Haxell and Sarah Hazell aims to change that by providing 26 different alphabets -- some with both upper and lowercase letters, some with numbers -- that you can use on just about any knitting project you like.

There's everything from basic serif and sans serif fonts to 3-D, vintage and cartoony fonts, all of which are sure to inspire you to add a little lettering to your next knitting project.

Do you ever personalize your knitting projects? I'd love to hear what you've done!

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