Saturday, September 25, 2010

Learn to Knit: Supplies

Hopefully the Free Cowl Knitting Pattern has inspired many of you to learn (or relearn) to knit this fall.  When you're just starting out, the volume and variety of knitting supplies available can be overwhelming, not to mention, expensive. Some of you have been asking where to start.  Here's a list of basic knitting supplies for beginners to get you started. 

Most patterns will tell you which size and shape of needle you will need.  Because there are thousands of size-shape combinations available, I recommend selecting a pattern you love first, and then buy the needles required.  If you do this for each project, you will eventually build up a nice collection. 

Materials: Knitting needles come in metal, wood, acrylic, and plastic.  I have always used bamboo needles.  They're relatively affordable, not too slippery, and bamboo is an environmentally friendly material. 
Shape: Needles come in straight, double pointed, and circular.  With straight or single point needles, you work your knitting back and forth.  These range from 9 to 14 inches long.  Double pointed and circular allow you to knit "in the round" as in a hat or sock.  Double pointed needles usually come in sets of five, at lengths ranging from 5 to 8 inches.  Circular needles are a little easier for beginners because they accomplish the same thing with only two needles instead of five.  They come in different lengths ranging from 16 to 48 inches, depending on the size of your project.
Sizes: Knitting needles are sized based on their diameter.  US sizes range from 0 (1.75 mm) to 50 (25 mm) and above.  The size you select is related to the weight of yarn you're using and the relative tightness or looseness of the stitches desired. 

All the rest
Stitch Markers: These help you remember where you are in the pattern without having to count all the stitches.  There are some very cute handmade ones available on Etsy. Check out sellers Reignbow Designs or Lynn Bates Designs, or you can tie a bow with a different colored scrap of yarn.
Tapestry Needles:  These are fat, blunt end needles, with a big eye. You will need this in almost any project to weave in the tails of yarn left at the beginning and end of your work.
Needle Point Protectors: Slide these on the end of your needles when you take a break to stop all your hard work from sliding off the end.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Take Awesome Photos

Here is my very short guide to taking great photos.  First, read your camera manual.  There is actually good stuff in there.  Second, take a LOT of photos.  Take pictures every day, annoy your friends and family with your constant shutter-bugging (is that a real term?)  Then when you realize your camera won't do what you want it to do, go buy a ridiculously awesome new camera.  Enter the Canon EOS Rebel T2i .  

We've been kicking around the idea of a new dslr for a while now.  We've had a Canon PowerShot G6 for years and it's been great.  7.1 megapixel resolution has been plenty for our travel and store photos and the full manual controls let you have the same control (more or less) as an SLR.  However, it's not an SLR and sometimes the clunky menu-based controls get in the way of a great shot and mostly it's really hard to get consistently good focus.  The T2i or 550D as it's known overseas is everything that we could want in a camera (except maybe small.  Side note:  For going small, I'm really impressed with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 we have at work).  The T2i's 18.1MP sensor combined with an ISO range up to 6400 gives you an incredible amount of room to work in any lighting type.  With an image stabilization lens you can hand-hold shots in lighting where the G6 simply would have said, "No, thanks, I'm afraid of the dark."  And(!) it shoots full 1080 HD.  Check out some of the unedited test pics below and hopefully we'll have some travel prints available at Etsy soon.  I'll be busy reading the 278 page manual.

New Stacked Squares Brass Pendant Necklace

Jewelry-making has slowed down a bit at Skadoot.  Okay the jeweler has gotten slower ;) but we have added a new pendant to our jewelry line last week.  The Stacked Squares pendant is available on an eighteen inch sterling silver necklace and matches our brushed brass earrings.  We will have a specially priced set with the Small Squares earrings and the Stacked Squares Pendant available soon.  There's a leather and brass pendant and a couple ideas for bangles on the drawing board at the moment.  Check back often.  Cheers.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

So you want to learn to knit...

I remember my first knitting lesson, given by some patient coworkers around the lunch table.  I couldn't get over how awkward every movement felt!  ...trying to hold the needles, put tension on the yarn, and actually knit a stitch...I was a mess!  I have lived to tell that it all became a lot easier with practice. Now I would actually call knitting natural. It is one of my very favorite things to do! So, if you've decided to learn to knit this fall, let me encourage you to keep it up!  Here's an easy pattern to help you practice some of the basics.  And, if you're already a super-stellar knitter, I hope you'll enjoy this quick knit.

Free Cowl Knitting Pattern -
Yarn: Reynolds Smile  Color: Grey/Pink
Weight: Super Bulky
Yardage:  124 yards/ 100g 
Needles: Size 13/ 9mm
 You will also need two buttons and a tapestry needle.
CO = Cast On
BO = Bind Off
Sts = Stitches
K = Knit
P = Purl

CO 25
(P3, K1) 8 times, K1
(P1, K1, P2, K1, P3) 3 times, K1
(P3, K2, P3) 3 times, K1
(P2, K3, P1, K1) 3 times, P2, K2
(K2, P2) 6 times, K1
Repeat Rows 1-5 until your work measures about 27 inches.
BO all sts

Once you have finished knitting, all that's left to do is to use some yarn to sew the buttons to your cowl as shown below.  You can fit the buttons through your knitting at whatever location works for you (no button holes required).  

For more knitting patterns, visit me at Skadoot on Etsy.
Still not sure you're ready to become a knitter? Purchase this handmade knit cowl here

Copyright © Shannon Brown, 2010.  All rights reserved.  This pattern is for personal non-commercial use only. Thank you!

Monday, September 13, 2010

"A Little Blue" Treasury by beatknits

The Classic Cable Knit Bag was included in another treasury!  A Little Blue by beatknits features items with a beautiful shade of teal in them, or in my case the background.  Beautiful!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A little recognition for Skadoot!

Two exciting developments:

First: The Classic Cable Knit Bag was featured in the "You Never Know What You Might Find" treasury on Etsy.  Thanks palimpsestic! Click here to view the collection of beautiful handmade items.

 Second: A new little link appeared on my Ravelry account recently: "my original designs".  I'm so excited! Nerdy I know. :)  Thank you to my fellow Ravelers for already giving me 11 favorites and 1 queue!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First Knitting Design Posted

Just as the first gold leaf fell outside, I (finally) finished my new design for the Classic Cable Bag.  The pattern is now available at Skadoot on Etsy. I just made it out to snap a couple of pictures before the next downpour started. Actually, I didn't quite beat the rain.  As early as it is, it seems that fall is officially here to stay.  That chill in the air can only mean one thing: it's time to get cozy and start your fall knitting projects!

This wool and leather bag is the perfect fall accessory. You will get lots of attention carrying your handmade bag. Wear it casual with jeans, or pair it up with a trendy plaid skirt and boots.  

My prototype bag was knit with 100% natural undyed bulky weight wool. It requires about 160 yards of yarn on Size 10/ 6.0 mm needles. It is fully lined with 100% cotton fabric and trimmed with soft brown leather. There is a pocket inside, perfect for making cell phone or keys easy to find. The strap is also leather. Brass rings and screws provide additional detail.

This pattern is ideal for any level of knitter from Beginner to Advanced. If you can knit and purl, and you're willing to try out a couple of cables, you can knit this pattern.  This five page PDF pattern includes the knitting pattern with instructions for finishing, complete with detailed color pictures for every step. No felting necessary. While I used leather to trim this bag, you could easily substitute any fabric of your choice.