Crafty Pets Photo Contest from Knitter's Pride

Do your furry friends like to "help" with your knitting or crochet projects, or photobomb your work in progress (WIP) and finished object (FO) photos? We'd love to see your best photos Knitter's Pride products and your animal friend(s). Don't have a pet? We encourage you to get creative for your submission - only your imagination should limit you!

How to Enter
Take a photo of your favorite Knitter's Pride products (WIP and FO projects are welcome!) with your pet or animal friend. Any craft counts!

Post your photo here on Ravelry to be entered in our grand prize drawing (note: 1 photo entry per person, multiple entries will not count towards grand prize drawing).

Grand Prize Drawing
1 lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a Large Navy Pattern Holder and their choice of either a Deluxe Zing Interchangeable set or a Waves Crochet Set. 

We'll announce our grand prize winner here on this blog on Friday April 27 - all photos posted between now and April 20 will be eligible for the prize drawing. Hint: we may award other prizes for originality, too! 

We'd love it if you'd also share your entry on Instagram using the #KPpetphotocontest and #knitterspride hashtags to help us spread the word (we may even repost your photo to our Instagram feed with credit to your account), but posting on Instagram is 100% optional!

Also, congratulations to Raveler MemorableOne, the winner for last month's giveaway!

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Sticking Your Steeks: How To Cut Your Knitting Without Fear

Steeking is a technique used primarily in colorwork knitting where you knit in the round, adding extra columns of stitches that you can later reinforce and cut open. "Steek" is a Scottish word that is used for the columns of stitches that will later be cut. This technique enables you to knit colorwork patterns in the round without interruption, rather than having to work back and forth on sections to accommodate armholes, necklines and openings for cardigans. 
For instance, if you are interested in knitting a colorwork cardigan, you may choose to knit the garment as a pullover seamlessly in the round, adding a small panel of extra stitches at the front that you will later cut open to create your cardigan fronts.  
Steeking is best accomplished using non-superwash animal fibers that are slightly sticky or fuzzy because they tend to hold together better when you cut them open. While you can steek with superwash yarns, we recommend using something a bit stickier for your first attempt, as superwash yarns are normally fairly smooth. Traditionally, steeked sweaters are knit with Shetland wool (as in Fair Isle sweaters) or in Icelandic wools (as in Nordic sweaters).
If you are contemplating steeking a colorwork project, the best thing you can do to prepare is to create a swatch. Let’s try it!
  • A pattern, specifically a colorwork chart.
  • Appropriate yarn and needles as your pattern requires.
  • A crochet hook that is approximately the same size as your knitting needles.
  • 5-10 yards of sturdy waste yarn.
  • Stitch Markers.
  • A pair of sharp scissors.
  • Sewing machine, threaded and ready to go.

Start with creating a swatch of your colorwork design in the round, adding a short vertical panel of 5 stitches where you will be making the cut to your knitting later on. For this swatch to be useful both in terms of testing your gauge and as a steeked swatch (it's always good to make your swatches do double duty!), be sure that you knit a sufficiently-sized swatch to check gauge (click here to read our previous blog post about swatching). For whatever gauge you knit at, we recommend knitting your swatch as a 5” or 6” square. Additionally, a design which has frequent color changes is ideal for your first steek, as denser colorwork holds together the best when cut.   
Step 1: Cast on your chosen number of stitches for your swatch (remember to add 5 extra stitches for your steek panel!). Knit the first row of your swatch in your main color. At the end of Row 1, join your work, being careful not to twist it, and place a stitch marker to mark your beginning of round. When you knit Round 2, place a second stitch marker 5 stitches from the end of your round. Now knit 2-3 more rounds in your main color.
Step 2: Begin knitting from your colorwork chart. You will be working Row 1 of the chart over all of the stitches of your swatch, except for the last 5 stitches of the round (which is now located between your stitch markers). Most often, patterns will have you work 2 colors per row; you should alternate these colors in 1x1 colorwork when you reach the final 5 stitches of the round (which we'll refer to as the steek panel). 
For instance, if you are working with colors A and B, you can knit the 5-stitch panel in A-B-A-B-A. On the next round, if you are using the same colors, you should reverse the colors, so you knit B-A-B-A-B.  If you are using different colors in the next round, just alternate those colors in the 5-stitch panel. When you finish using any color, you can cut that color, leaving a 5-6” tail.  
At the end of your swatch, knit 2-4 rounds in your main color and then bind off loosely.
Step 3: Once you have created your swatch, the next step in steeking is to reinforce the edges where you wish to cut. There are two primary methods you can use for this: sewn reinforcement and crochet reinforcement. If you are comfortable machine sewing your knitting, run a single or double line of stitching vertically along the outer edges of where you will be cutting. We recommend running these lines through the 2nd and 4th column of stitches of your 5-stitch steek.  
If you are not comfortable with the sewing machine method, you can use a crochet hook and crochet around the 2nd and 4th column of stitches holding your knit stitches into place, as shown below. For additional photos and a tutorial on how to do a crochet reinforcement, you may wish to consult Kate Davies’ excellent tutorial on her website, Reinforcing and Cutting.
Step 4: Once you have reinforced the edges, it is time to cut your knitting!  For this you will want to use a pair of sharp scissors. You will also want to pick a vertical line in the center of your steeking panel, the 3rd stitch, and cut through your knitting at the same point in each row.
At this point you made your first steek! What follows are additional suggestions for finishing a steeked edge garments or other finished knits.  You may wish to practice these techniques on your swatch, but if not, you can now wash and block your swatch to check for gauge and get ready to start your project.
Additional Steps: After you have cut open your knitting, you will need to begin your finishing work.  From the outer edges of your reinforcement line, pick up for your button bands and knit them as written in the pattern. Or, in the case of sleeves, you may pick up the stitches and knit your sleeve down to the cuff; alternatively, you could knit the sleeves separately and sew them in.  
There are many methods for finishing the inside of your garment where the steeked edges are. You may wish to knit a folded button band. If you do this you can tack down the inside portion of the folded button band over the steeked edge, trapping it inside the buttonband, out of sight. 
If your button band is not folded, you may wish to purchase some ribbon to line the inside of your button bands. This will both stabilize your button bands, as well as cover the steeked edge. Again, if you are comfortable using a sewing machine on your knits, you can attach the ribbon to the button band using your machine. If you are not, you can tack the ribbon down and hand sew the edges to the button band, covering up the steeked edge. 
Whether or not you hide the steeked edge, after a few washes the edges should felt a bit and become even more secure.
If you are interested in more information on steeking, you may wish to read:

It's been a while since we hosted a giveaway here on our blog! We're giving 1 lucky reader a chance to win this Pattern Chart Keeper and Blush Needle and Crochet Gauge with Yarn Cutter from our 2017-18 Collection! To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post telling us if you've ever given seeking a try (and how it went if you did!). Be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We'll randomly select a winner to announce on our next blog post in March. Good luck!

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Stashbusting in 2018: Making the Most of Your Yarn Stash

We know that some of you may be “cold sheeping*” in 2018, but even if you’re not, we all have yarns marinating in our stash that we’d like to use. Today’s blog post will talk a little about how to use your stash, with a look at a few ways that Ravelry can help you make the most of your precious skeins.

Better Stashbusting Through Ravelry
First, we'll look at a few tools on Ravelry that can help you find the perfect match between yarns in your stash and patterns to knit with them.

We recommend taking the time to enter ALL of your stash into Ravelry - even those skeins lurking in the very bottom of the bin! While this may take an afternoon of your time (or perhaps several afternoons), it's worth it if you are committed to stash-busting.

You can easily go to the Stash tab in your notebook and see what you have already entered into Ravelry, and also use the Add to Stash button to enter your yarns into your stash.

If you decide at some point that you want to knit with a specific yarn in your stash, you can click on that yarn entry, and then view projects that have been made with the same yarn. This may help you narrow down your choices for that perfect pattern!

Perhaps you'd rather start with the type project you want to make and then figure out what yarn in your stash you'll use for it - Ravelry makes that easy, too! First, go to the Patterns tab, and then click Pattern Browser and Advanced Search. You can now sort by a variety of factors: pick the kind of project you might want to knit (hat, scarf, shawl, sweater, socks, etc.), and then you can scroll down the page and on click the menu option Yarn in My Stash.

If you want to narrow down the pattern by what weight of yarn you have and how much you have (for instance, say you have 1,000 yards of worsted weight yarn in your stash), then select the appropriate parameters and Ravelry will find patterns calling for just that amount of yarn.

Mixing Yarns in Your Stash
Sometimes there are a variety of skeins that appear in one's stash that are all different weights and fiber types - have you ever wondered if you could use some of them together? In general, you may not want to mix yarns of extremely differing fiber types or weights within the same project because they may detract from the finished object. For instance, you might not want to mix merino yarn with a cotton yarn because the merino will be soft and stretchy and bounce back into shape, whereas the cotton may not have very much give or might get stretched out of shape more quickly. Or you may not want to knit a striped project out of a fingering weight and a worsted weight because there will be such a variation in your gauge between the sections.

However, you may want to explore projects where yarns of different fibers and types are worked together. Kobuk by Caitlin Hunter is a hat that is knit by holding a lace weight strand of mohair together with DK strand of merino yarn to create a super fluffy and warm hat. Stephen West designs a large number of his patterns to be knit with yarns of multiple weights and fiber compositions, and his latest Marled Mania theme is all about holding two strands of different yarns together for the effect it creates.

Do you have a ton of leftovers in specific weight(s) of yarn? Perhaps you knit socks like crazy and always have odds and ends left over, or maybe you love to knit hats and lots of little bits of worsted weight yarn lying around. If so, you might consider the following stashbusting projects:

There are many, many projects on Ravelry that can be knit with leftovers of various types. Scrappy sock blankets are a popular project now. Try the Sock Yarn Blanket by Shelly Kang, Memory Blanket by Georgie Nicholson, or Barn Raising Quilt by Shelley Mackie & Larissa Brown, all of which can be knit with sock scraps, or adapted for any other weight yarn. Another pattern to keep in mind is Stephen Wests' Garter Squish pattern, which is available for free and could be adapted for a variety of yarn weights and yardages. If you’re a crocheter, you might check out patterns by Lucy of Attic24 which incorporate a variety of stripes and colors into fun afghan patterns.

Colorwork Projects
If you’re feeling adventurous, you might check out patterns featuring colorwork to use up your odds and ends of leftovers. This works best if your leftovers are solid, but we have seen some beautiful projects out of variegated colorways as well. For this you can use the search parameters we discussed above and select what you might like from the Colorwork folder under Attributes. Then you can add what weight yarns you’re looking to use up, and determine what might be your perfect project.

Reclaiming Your Stash
We all have those unfinished projects, you know the ones that we were so excited to cast on but are now languishing in project bags out of sight and out of mind. You might try rediscovering those yarns and repurposing them for other projects: Frog that sweater you started 2 years ago that is now too small for the recipient (here's a great tutorial on the Knitted Bliss blog)! Don’t like knitting with lace weight as much as you thought? Use the tools above to find a project where you can combine it with another yarn or hold it doubled and select a fingering weight project that shows that beautiful yarn off. Or just use the pattern search to help you find different patterns that catch your fancy. Don’t let those beautiful yarns go to waste!

We hope the stash busting ideas and tools we discussed above will help you make the most of your stash. Please share your stashbusting projects with us on Instagram by using the tag #knitterspride. We look forward to seeing what you create!

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*Cold Sheeping: Trying not to buy any new yarn!

How To Knit The Perfect Gauge Swatch for a Sweater (& Why You Should)

Swatches are a vital and crucial part of knitting - anyone who has ever ripped out an entire sweater will tell you that. Swatches are necessary tools to ensure proper gauge, and the way you treat them will inform how well your garment fits—even after several wears and washes. This also holds true for other projects, of course, but extra precision is required for garments to achieve the desired fit!

There are a few things you will need when making your swatch.

  • Gauge. A multipurpose gauge like our Knitter’s Pride Needle Gauge covers all your bases—it measures clearly, you can check needle/crochet sizes if you need to adjust, and it includes a yarn cutter. 
  • Yarn.
  • Needles. For the purposes of swatch-making, it is a good idea to have at least 3 needles on hand. The recommended needle, plus one size larger and one size smaller. 
  • A bowl.
  • Water.
  • Your chosen knitwear detergent (here, we're using a no-rinse wash called Allure).
  • Small towel.
Starting Your Swatch:

1. Check the pattern gauge, then cast on approximately 1.5 times the recommended stitches for 4 inches. For example, if the pattern calls for 20 stitches in 4 inches, cast on at least 30 stitches. This will give you enough surface area to obtain a proper, realistic measurement of your gauge. The first and last stitches of most swatches can be a little wonky, so you won’t include those when you measure. 
We strongly recommend casting on more than 4 inches because it will give you the most accurate measurement (the bigger the swatch, the better - especially when it comes to sweater knitting). Everyone adopts a unique, natural flow when knitting that simply doesn’t develop in a smaller swatch. Also, since no one’s gauge is totally perfect, your stitch count per inch will vary ever so slightly between inches. The more inches you give your swatch, the more accurate your measurement will be. If you can stomach casting on double the recommended stitches, even better.

2. Check your pattern for how the garment is made. It’s important to work your swatch in the same way you will be knitting. Flat knitting in stockinette stitch involves knitting on one side and purling on the other, while round knitting in stockinette simply involves knitting. That alternating purl row helps determine the size of your stitches and will affect your gauge swatch.

Pro Tip: If your sweater is worked in the round, try casting on one of the sleeves first. Your sleeve can act as a gauge measurement. If after 6+ inches your gauge is correct, you can continue with the following steps and pick up the sleeve again when you’re done measuring. If not, it’s much less hassle to rip out a sleeve. Elizabeth Zimmerman famously recommended knitting a hat to match your sweater, but a sleeve is even more useful as it speeds you along on your sweater journey.

3. This might be the most important step. Are you stressed? Watching a thriller/action adventure/horror movie? In a rush? All of these factors will affect your gauge. Try to knit your swatch under similar circumstances in which you’ll be making your project. 

4. Knit for at least 1.5 times the recommended gauge, as in step 1. As with your stitch gauge, your row gauge needs to be large to ensure accuracy. Bind off.

Preparing Your Swatch:

1. Mix a small amount of detergent with cool water in the bowl. Place the swatch in the bowl and wash it the way you would your finished sweater. 

2. Remove the swatch from the bowl and use the towel to roll out any excess water. 

3. Lay your swatch flat on the blocking mats and let it dry. Important: Do not block or pin the swatch.  

Measuring Your Swatch: 

1. Once dry, take your gauge and lay it flat against your swatch. Don’t stretch or manipulate the swatch at all. Measure both the number of stitches and number of rows inside 4 inches. Move the gauge around the middle of the swatch and measure in different places, but try to avoid the cast on and bind off rows. Like edge stitches, they will not provide the most accurate reading. This is why having more than 4 inches is essential—it gives you ample room to take several measurements. Measure to see how many stitches and rows fit within 5 inches as well. Record these different numbers.

2. For the 4-inch measurement, divide the number of stitches and rows by 4. Do the same for the 5-inch measurement, dividing by 5. This will give you the number of stitches and rows per inch. The larger stitch and row measurement will be the most accurate measurement you have. If your gauge matches the pattern gauge, you’re all set!

Troubleshooting Gauge Issues:

1. If your gauge is too small (ie, the pattern calls for 4 stitches to the inch and you are getting more than 4), try going up a needle size. If your gauge is too large (pattern calls for 4 stitches, but you are getting less than 4), try going down a needle size. 

Pro Tip: If changing needle sizes doesn’t work, try changing the kinds of needles you are using. Metal needles tend to be slippery, plastic slightly less so, and wood and bamboo tend to be sticky. Sometimes a large gauge on metal needles will shrink using the same sized bamboo needles. Play around with types of needles to see how your gauge differs between materials. Every knitter is different!

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Winner + Crafting Resolutions for 2018

Happy New Year! We're excited to dive into another year of sharing tips, tricks and techniques with our readers. In our last post, we asked to hear everyone's crafting resolutions, and we got some fabulous responses!

Here are some of the most frequently-mentioned resolutions from our informal reader poll:

We're planning to share lots of blog posts in 2018 which focus on these goals to help you keep your crafty resolutions!

Giveaway Winner
Congratulations to acerani, who won our Leafy Yarn Bowl giveaway with this response:

A sweater! I'm timid about knitting clothes - it's long and challenging, so I hope it turns out wearable!

We will contact our winner via Ravelry to arrange for the delivery of the prize.

Thanks for joining us!

What Are Your Crafting Resolutions for 2018?

As 2017 winds down, it's a great time to take stock of your accomplishments for the past 12 months while also making plans for the year ahead. Perhaps you made some resolutions at the start of 2017; were you successful in all of them, or did a few escape your to-do list? Sometimes your priorities change as the year progresses, but you may decide to revisit those forgotten resolutions, or perhaps make new ones, as the calendar begins anew. We know that many knitters and crocheters embark on yearly challenges related to the craft - for instance, by pledging to knit a pair of socks each month, or going "cold sheep" and only knitting or crocheting from one's stash for an entire year.
Even if you don't make an official pledge for 2018, that there is always something new to learn about knitting, crocheting and crafting in general! We look forward to sharing lots of inspiration and tutorials with you in 2018, and we'd love to hear your suggestions for tutorials and other features you'd like to see.

Do you have any special challenges, techniques or projects you hope to tackle in 2018? Tell us about them in the comments for your chance to win a Leafy Yarn Holder from our 2017-18 Collection! Be sure to also include your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We will randomly select one lucky blog reader to announce as our winner on our first blog post of 2018.

From all of us a Knitter's Pride, have a safe and happy holiday season. See you in 2018!

Free Patterns: Recipe for Relaxation Knit & Crochet Mason Jar Cozy + Free Printable Gift Tags

The holiday season is in full swing! Today, we have two free patterns for a quick gift you can whip up in just a few hours. These mason jar cozies are a fun and festive way to package a thoughtful gift, and mason jars can hold so many things: colorful candies, hot chocolate or baking ingredients, or relaxing bath salts (we share our favorite recipe below!). Whether you knit or crochet, we've got you covered with this simple pattern using a bulky weight yarn. Enjoy!

Recipe for Relaxation: Relaxing Bath Salts
Depending on the size of your jar, you will need to double, triple, or quadruple this base recipe. You'll need 1/2 c. Epsom salts (found at most grocery or drug stores), 1/2 c. baking soda, and 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Some popular choices include lavender (relaxing), rose absolute (relieves anxiety), bergamot (uplifting), eucalyptus (great for cold & flu season), or tangerine (calming). Mix everything together in a clean bowl and transfer to your mason jar.

Crochet Mason Jar Cozy


Gauge: 11 stitches and 16 rounds = 4" in single crochet

Finished Dimensions: To fit 3" circumference jar (see pattern notes for how to adjust for other sizes); 3.5" height

sc - single crochet
dc - double crochet
rnd(s) - round(s)

To Make Cozy:

Begin with a magic ring - sc 6 stitches. Use removable stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round as you work; you will be working in a continuous spiral unless otherwise noted. 

Increase Rnd 1: sc twice in each stitch. 12 stitches. 
Increase Rnd 2: *sc 1 stitch, sc twice in next stitch, repeat from * to end of round. 18 stitches.
Increase Rnd 3: *sc 2 stitches, sc twice in next stitch, repeat from * to end of round. 24 stitches.
Increase Rnd 4: *sc 3 stitches, sc twice in next stitch, repeat from * to end of round. 30 stitches.

Note: You can adjust final circumference by working fewer increase rounds (for a smaller jar) or working additional increase rounds (for a larger jar). For a larger cozy, simply add 1 more sc stitch between increases. 

Work turning rnd: sc all stitches through the back loop only. When you reach the end of the round, slip stitch in the first stitch at the beginning of that round. Chain 1 stitch.

For next 2 rnds, sc all stitches. When you reach the end of the second round, slip stitch in the first stitch at the beginning of that round. Chain 3 stitches.

Next rnd: Skip first stitch of rnd, *DC in next stitch, skip next stitch and chain 1, repeat from * to end of rnd. When you reach the end of the round, slip stitch in the first stitch at the beginning of that round to close. Chain 1 stitch.

Single crochet all stitches until you reach desired height (sample shown measures 3.5 inches from turning rnd). When you reach the end of the final round, slip stitch in the first stitch at the beginning of that round. Break yarn and pull through loop to secure. Weave in ends. 

Knit Mason Jar Cozy


Gauge: 16 stitches and 18 rounds = 4" in stockinette stitch

Finished Dimensions: To fit 3" circumference jar (see pattern notes for how to adjust for other sizes); 4" height

k - knit
kf&b - knit into front and back on 1 stitch (1 stitch increased)
k2tog - knit 2 stitches together (1 stitch decreased)
p - purl
yo - yarn over

To Make Cozy:

Cast on 6 stitches. Use removable stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round as you work; you will be working in a continuous spiral. 

Increase Rnd 1: kf&b 12 stitches. 
Increase Rnd 2: *k1, kf&b, repeat from * to end of round. 18 stitches.
Increase Rnd 3: *k2, kf&b, repeat from * to end of round. 24 stitches.
Increase Rnd 4: *k3, kf&b, repeat from * to end of round. 30 stitches.
Increase Rnd 5: *k4, kf&b, repeat from * to end of round. 36 stitches.

Note: You can adjust final circumference by working fewer increase rounds (for a smaller jar) or working additional increase rounds (for a larger jar). For a larger cozy, simply add 1 more knit stitch between increases. 

Work turning rnd: p all stitches. 

Work 3 rnds in stockinette stitch (k all stitches).

Eyelet rnd: *yo, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.

Work in stockinette stitch (k all stitches) until you are approximately 1/2" from desired height from turning rnd (sample shown measures 3.5 inches from turning rnd).

P 1 rnd.
K 1 rnd.
P 1 rnd. 

Bind off all stitches knitwise. Break yarn and pull through loop to secure. Weave in ends.

Since it's the season of giving, we have two more bonuses for you this month!

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