Daisy's Sweater's Alteration

I am a very impatient person as a rule and you see this the most in my attitude around presents. I hate having to wait to open mine, and to see the people I'm giving to open theirs. So, when my Dad was visiting this past weekend I made him open Daisy's Sweater early. And he loved it! He lay it over his hands and imagined it on his little pup and it brought exactly the smile to his face that I had hoped for. And then in a small voice he asked, "I'm not sure if this is okay for me to say, but would it be possible for there to be a leash hole?"

Obviously I said yes! And then I set out to figure out how to make a leash hole in a finished sweater.

My first thought was that cutting knitting means a steek, and I got excited to do my first one on a real project, not just a swatch. After refreshing my memory with some tutorials, I grabbed the appropriate crochet hook and prepared to reinforce. But as I planned where I would reinforce I thought about the kind of facing I would make and how to make it pretty over such a small area. My Dad indicated that the ideal length of the hole would be 3-4 stitches. Any of kind of facing on both sides would overlap, not to mention the fact that my steek would have a top and bottom to face as well.

At this point I entered the period where I remembered how the steek tutorials all make a big deal about how knitting doesn't want to unravel. They had photographs of swatches they had snipped and then carried in their purses without any unraveling. This sweater was made of handspun BFL that was plenty sticky. Maybe I could just cut the hole and it would be fine?

I took to the internet to ask my knitting friends. I am thankful that they reminded me how much abrasion a leash would put on the hole and that this was a recipe for a ruined sweater. Laura Chau suggested I make it like a buttonhole, which were just the words I needed to hear. A tiny hole in your knitting is a buttonhole, not a steek. I decided to give it a shot on my sewing machine, using my swatch for practice.

The first sample was a great teaching tool. My method would definitely work - the ribbon facing was invisible enough on the right side for my purposes and the automatic buttonhole worked a charm on my handknit. I also learned how hard it is to nicely line up a sticky knit with a slippery woven. I did a few more samples to play around with my stitch settings.

These buttonholes were perfect! Using my walking foot helped move the sticky knit fabric smoothly through the machine. I had thought the default buttonhole settings made a pretty wimpy looking buttonhole. I increased the width to 7mm and decreased the length to 0.2mm. This more substantial buttonhole really stood out on the knit and seemed like it would have the integrity for the job of being a leash hole.

And there we go, the final product! My Dad apologized for giving me another project when he saw me researching and testing. He didn't realize how fun an experiment like this can be! Have you ever cut your knitting using a steek, a buttonhole or another technique?

Arm Knitting Experiment

When an octogenarian asks you if you know anything about arm knitting, the correct answer is, "No, but I'm sure we could figure it out!" That is how I ended up experimenting with the technique and fodder for today's post.

Carol is the founder of a medical support group I attend and it quickly came out that we both love knitting. When chatting after a meeting one day she said she would love to learn arm knitting, and I eagerly invited her over to figure it out together. I am always up for a crafting challenge and I was excited to make a friend. Carol brought the chicken salad and her sister, Penny, and I brought my fearless spirit and an instructional Youtube video.

For those unfamiliar with the technique, arm knitting is just like using knitting needles except your arms are the needle. You pull the loops through by hand and end up with an airy fabric, great for oversized cowls and quick throws.

When diving through my stash to prepare for their arrival, I found myself drawn to a bag of roving I've had forever. I'm pretty sure it's Ashland Bay Merino and while very nice, wasn't close to the top of my spinning queue. I quickly split it into quarters lengthwise and decided to use it as is for my first piece.

I loved the fabric I got. But that cowl was plenty big for me and only used up 1/3 of the roving. I couldn't stop thinking about what would happen if I spun the remaining portion into a huge, bulky yarn and made a matching cowl. So, I did.

I'm sure this is obvious to you, but even the mostly gently spun two-ply is going to be significantly thinner than the unspun fiber it came from. I like the fabric of the spun version much less - it's so loose it makes me think of netting. It has a lovely drape, but I like my garter stitch squishy.

What did I take away from my experiment? Arm knitting is a fun, quick way to knock out a FO. I'd definitely use it to make a quick blanket or scarf for someone who likes chunky accessories. I have pretty tiny arms and found a bulky handspun too thin to make fabric I enjoy - I'd have to figure out how to arm knit tightly to use that yarn weight successfully.

I also found how fun it was to experiment with a new technique with a new acquaintance. Carol and I proudly wore our cowl at the next meeting and it was great to see her glowing with pride. We're looking forward to more knit nights together in the future!