Keep Knitting Those Caps!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

As I've mentioned on my blog before, for almost a year now, the Denver Public Library, through its Cultural Programming Department, has been running a project called "K4OT", Knit for Our Troops." The object of the program is to have local volunteers knit helmet liners for our troops in Iraq and especially Afghanistan, where winters can be pretty harsh. To date, the program has donated over 13,000 caps to the Rocky Mountain USO, who distributes the caps to families of soldiers deployed overseas.

I'd like to share with you a letter that Chris Loeffelmacher at the Library received recently from the wife of a deployed soldier:

"...My husband Mike is currently deployed to Afghanistan. I recently received caps for him, and 5 of his fellow marines from the Rocky Mountain USO. It is bitter cold in Afghanistan this time of year, and the one thing all of our Marines are asking for is something to help keep them warm. The caps I received will be a godsend to them, when they get them at just about Christmas time.

"I can't say thank you enough for the support and care that is being shown by the wonderful people who knitted the caps. Just know that the boys will appreciate them more than you will ever know! Thank you again for everything you've done, and God bless you!



Chris would like you knitters out there to know that the program is still going on, and with even more troops being deployed to Afghanistan this winter, the need is growing! Chris said, "If you have an extra skein of washable wool and a free evening or two, we'd love to include your hat(s) in a shipment headed to our brave soldiers on overseas assignments. For a copy of the pattern or details about where to send/drop off caps, go to"

Sale! Sale! Sale!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sale News:

Strawberry Tree, a vintage Denver yarn shop, is closing its doors on August 31 and is selling its entire inventory at 35% off.

Showers of Flowers is also beginning a yarn sale on August 1st.

Happy Shopping (and Knitting)!

Knitting for Troops Honored by Denver City Council

Hi fellows knitters....sorry to have been mum for so long, I have been a little under the weather, but I'm back and rarin' to get back to knitting!

I want to start off by telling you about a very exciting happening in our local knit world. Last Monday, July 20, at the Denver City Hall, in the City Council Chambers (a beautiful room), Councilwoman Carla Madison submitted Proposal #34 citing the Denver Public Library and its Director of Cultural Programming, Chris Loeffelmacher, for our fabulously successful "Knitting for the Troops" program.

This project began with a class at the library, as part of its Fresh City Life program in July 2008. We produced a goodly number of hats and the idea began to spread to other shops and knitting groups. So, in January of this year, Chris created a statewide marathon on a Saturday, as Knitting For the Troops Day. Most of our local shops, Showers of Flowers, Lambshoppe and Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins opened their doors for the day to all knitters who wanted to spend their day knitting hats. In addition, Whole Foods grocery chain opened up their meeting rooms in 11 branches to hat makers. There were snacks and good feelings shared by all. Down at the Denver Main Library they even had some great entertainment. We are still receiving hats from all over incuding a box from London, England wishing us well. So far, as the proclamation stated, 13,000 hats have been sent to the USO and still sending.

By the way...thanks to Meredith Gabow, a real Fresh City Life advocate, who got the City Council involved. And thanks to all the knitters who contributed their time and talents to make this possible!

If any of you would like the pattern for the hat, it is available on line at

I'm so glad to be back and I expect to be bringing some informative and interesting things to you as well as patterns for new yarns!

Special Event this Saturday at LambShoppe!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

As you know, I spend one day a week with my good friends at LambShoppe in Denver. This Saturday, May 16th, they are hosting a very special event:


Colorado's own Ann McCauley, author of the newly published Together or Separate: Knitting the New Twinset and The Pleasures Of Knitting: Timeless Feminine Sweaters. Ann will be in LambShoppe to teach two classes on May 16th.

Ann will also have a Trunk Show and a Book Signing on May 16th. She can be seen in the Knitty Gritty episode known as Delightful Details. She teaches knitting locally and nationally at yarn shops, guilds, and large knitting events. Ann recently taught for Stitches West at the end of February. She has also begun to design for Louet Yarn Company.

Ann's 1st Class! Learn ways to enhance your sweater knitting for a professional finish. Swatching, gauge, quality of knitting, measuring, fit, shaping, blocking, seaming and more! It's the small details that make a big difference.

Ann's 2nd Class! Explore how your body alignment and comfort affects your ability to knit and do other handwork. Awareness, alignment, body mechanics, self-help hand-care and pressure points are just some of the topics we'll cover.

Contact LambShoppe at 303-322-2223 for more details and to register.

I've known Ann since she published her first book, and she is talented, creative, friendly and helpful. I'm sure you will enjoy the experience, whether you go for a class or just to get your book signed!

As a reminder, I offer workshops at LambShoppe every Tuesday afternoon and evening, so pick your pattern, and let's get started!

The Tenth of May is Mother’s Day

Friday, April 24, 2009

Whether you need a gift for your knitting Mom, or you are the knitting Mom, there is a wonderful choice of things to gift or be gifted with. Here are just a few ideas to help you make it a great Mother's Day this year.

Blue Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needles Set

One of the interchangable needle sets in the last posting is a gift that will last a lifetime. The picture is of a Denise set in blue; they now make a pink set that has some of the purchase price going to breast cancer research -- a bonus! Denise makes a middle-priced set; sets by Boye are less and sets from Skacel are more (see my gift shop for these options).

Swift Yarn Winder - Large
Another option that seldom wears out is a yarn winder. A two-piece set, it consists of a tall spindle-like object with spokes (left, usually wood) that expand or contract to accommodate the size of the hank or skein that needs winding.

Yarn Ball Winder
The swift's partner is a ball winder that winds your yarn into a ball as you turn the handle. This tool is especially appropriate for knitters who prefer the more natural fibers that are less processed and usually come in skeins (as opposed to balls). The two partners are purchased separately and come in different sizes.

The choice of gorgeous yarns and fabulous pattern books is endless; any one (or more) of which we knitters love to receive.

Also if the knitting Mom also likes to read when she isn’t knitting, there are always the novels that are centered around yarn shops. "Friday Night Knitting Club" by Kate Jacobs takes place in a yarn shop in Manhattan, has been on the NY Times best seller list for months, and is now coming to the screen with Julia Roberts.

Knit One, Kill Two (Knitting Mysteries, No. 1)

If mom prefers mysteries, the series by Maggie Sefton in paperback takes place in a yarn shop in Fort Conner, Colorado (really Lambspun in Fort Collins, Colorado) - fun to read and each comes with a different knitting pattern and a free recipe.

Of course, if all these choices are too overwhelming, there is always the handy-dandy gift certificate, which everyone enjoys receiving. Remember, sometimes the giver is hoping for a knitted gift in return! Most yarn stores have certificates available in person, on-line or by mail. So happy gifting!

Learn to Finish Your Knits!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Once you finish knitting your project, your project isn't really done until it's finished! Whether you know how or want to learn how, a must-have book for your knitting library is "The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques" by Nancie M. Wiseman.

It starts with a wonderful selection of the basics , casting-on, decreasing, bind-offs, all with excellent illustrations. Then there is a detailed formula for all the different methods of joining the pieces of your project. Not only is each method well explained and pictured but Nancie also includes a list of advantages and drawbacks to each method. There is definite wisdom in learning all the methods as you can then select which method is best for each project you make. She also details finishing touches for picking up stitches, buttonholes and crochet edgings. All in all a great addition to your knitting library.

In the near future I will be offering a selection of patterns of my classic knitting designs. Each pattern will offer a varied selection of yarns appropriate to each design. Best of all I will be available to answer any questions or help with sizing advice etc.

Let’s keep in touch……

On Pins and Needles

Friday, April 10, 2009

Isn’t it amazing that what we are doing today with our knitting and crocheting skills is exactly the same things that have been done for hundreds of years all over the world? Of course the fibers have changed and we are using many new and beautiful yarns in addition to some of the same kind of hand-spun and -loomed yarns that many times are produced by knitters themselves.

It is the knitting implements themselves that are so different today; once being made from bone as well as wood. Today we have many kinds of needles (they used to be called “pins” in the British Isles) from which to choose. In response to the inquiries I have received regarding my preferences, I will tell you I almost always use circular needles; either both unjoined like a pair, or joined in a closed circle. My only straights are double points. As far as metal or bamboo or plastic, at times I have used all of these.

I like to use bamboo needles when knitting with very light weight or fingering yarns as the weight of the needles does not affect the quality of my knitting. I like metal with heavier fibers that require more pushing along the needle as the slick finish of the metal means I do not have to work as hard.

Beginning knitters progress faster when using plastic or bamboo or wood as they don’t have to worry about their stitches falling off the slicker metal needles. If you are relatively new to the world of knitting and have not yet invested in a large assortment of needles, which are getting quite expensive, I would recommend that you consider one of the interchangeable sets that are on the market.

In these sets, everything comes in a convenient kit. You can convert to almost any size from 2 or 3 thru 15 by simply connecting the heads to different lengths of pliable tubing. The most inexpensive one is made by Boye Needle Co, who I believe was the originator of this idea. Their needle heads are metal and screw together with the tubing.

The most popular in recent years is made by Denise needles. The heads are plastic, have the pointiest points and lock into place. They are also now making spare parts available separately and by the way will replace any defective part at their expense for $1.00.

The newest set is now being brought out by the Skacel Yarn Company. They are a German company and have had the most successful metal circulars on the market for the last 10 years (called addi Turbo Needles). They are also the most expensive set by far but are a very good product. I assume that sometime soon one of the bamboo makers will hop on the bandwagon and bring something similar out. Most of these products are available in most yarn stores.

In my next post, I'll make some suggestions for great Mother's Day gifts, since we are getting close (May 10th -- you have a month!).

By the way, if you haven’t yet figured out that taking a needle inventory and keeping it on a card in your wallet is a great thrifty idea and keeps you from buying duplicates you can’t always take back, think about it! IT WORKS! In another post, I’ll show you an example....

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

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Sizing Matters

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It’s very important as a first step to your successful knitting to have an accurate set of measurements for whoever you are knitting for (babies and pets excepted). If the knitting is for you it is best to have the measuring done by another person as it is difficult to measure yourself accurately.

Here is a list of the most essential areas you need:

  1. Chest or bust (widest part just below armpits).

  2. Shoulder (bone to bone, not including upper arm).

  3. Underside length (just below armpit to bottom of garment).

  4. Underarm (just below sleeve seam to wrist).

  5. Upperarm (bicep circumference).

  6. Wrist (circumference).

  7. Arms eye (circumference around entire armhole).

Please remember in taking circumference measurements to keep a finger inside the tape to avoid a too-tight result.

The second most important step is checking out the actual knitting measurements that the pattern is designed for. Some pattern makers work right to sizes (e.g. 32, 34, 36, etc.). Others take those measurements and add on an arbitrary ease. Either way works if you know how you want your clothes to fit.

If the pattern does not offer you measurements — actual and knitting — then you will have to check yourself. It’s only a matter of dividing the stitches given for the size you think is correct by the stated stitch gauge — you will then have the actual knitting result of the pattern. Which is why your gauge is so important.

Knitting is just a collection of arithmetic formulas. You have so many inches to cover and it takes so many stitches to cover those inches. If you are still unsure about fit, especially if you are a beginning knitter, a very safe way to start is by measuring a garment that fits correctly and going by those measurements. Don’t forget: there are no knitting police — you are free to change any of the measurements in the pattern to better fit you.

I know some of this sounds complicated and it’s easier just to follow a pattern. It is easier, provided the pattern suits your needs. Otherwise, you are back to the lady in my swatch post, who when asked if her knitted garments fit, replied "SOMEBODY."

Feel free to comment on this post or contact me (see below) with a specific question on your current project. The only dumb questions are the ones not asked.

PS About Swatches

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In response to follow-up questions about remedies for swatches that do not match patterns…..

There are several solutions in addition to the obvious one of changing yarns or patterns. Depending on how great the difference is you might switch the size you have selected (see my post on Sizing Matters) or substitute the correct stitches per inch (gauge) and stitches per size given in the pattern if your arithmetic skills are up to the task. We will be talking about these formulas at a later time.

Keep the questions coming!

The Importance of Knitting Swatches

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Have you just found a gorgeous pattern with great yarn and you’re very excited to get started? Well, of course you are going to make a swatch………

Swatch making is the most valuable use of your preparatory knitting time. Swatches are the foreplay of knitting, always a worthwhile beginning to creating a satisfying experience. The most efficient swatch is made by casting on the number of sts designated in your pattern that will produce 4” in width (the "gauge"), in whatever stitch is used, on the needles the yarn calls for. After working for 2” (that is, 4" wide and 2" long), lay the swatch flat and measure the width. If the result is too narrow, jump up a needle size; conversely, drop down a size if you are too wide. The Rule Of Thumb: The gauge changes ½ stitch an inch per needle change. Do not tear out; just continue on with the adjusted needles, which gives you a good comparison of sizes.

While I was stressing the necessity of swatch making to a recent knitting class, one student proclaimed “I never make swatches, it's a waste of time.” I asked her if what she makes always fits? “SOMEBODY” was her reply. So there you have it.

Remember: "As ye knit; so shall ye rip"! Do you have a swatch story to share? A problem you need help with? Please add your comments! In future posts, I'll be discussing more of my "Knit to Fit" techniques.

Today's Book Pick

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pet Projects: The Animal Knits Bible by Sally Muir and Joanna Osbourne.

A fun book for animal lovers and friends of all critters. Adorable pictures and 33 delightful projects for all kinds of pets.

All of my book picks include a link to purchase at; you can also browse my book pics in my book carousel on the left side of my blog page! Clicking on the hyperlink in this post, or on the books in the carousel will take you to the Amazon page that will tell you more about the book (and recommend related ones, too...)

Terrific new book

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Exciting and challenging new book called Knit One Below: One Stitch, Many Fabrics
by Elise Duvekot.
Wonderful projects for advanced knitters.

Knit for Our Troops!

We are thrilled to have participated in the K4OT project! Chris at the Denver Public Library reports that over 10,000 hats were collected. THank you so much for all the knitters who contributed to this wonderful cause. Check this blog to get updates on upcoming projects.
Knits by Jani. Design by Pocket