Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Winter Cabled Socks

Sometimes you just want a soft, thick, squishy sock that’s fast to knit and one you’ll wear all the time.  When you want a pair to keep by the door and slip on every time you enter the house, this is the sock.  It’s great for wearing indoors on cold hard wood floors since it’s thick and spongy.  Knit with worsted weight yarn in mostly 2x2 ribbing, it keeps the cold out.  Pretty cables run down the center and are great if you’re new to cables, or just like the look of something pretty without too much work.  These socks knit up quickly, easily, and are really hard to make just one pair.  The pattern is written for mid-calf but you can easily make these knee socks by working 12-13” before beginning the heel, or ankle socks (to be worn like booties) by beginning the heel just after the ribbing is finished. 

Skill:  Intermediate

21 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches in St st
Needles:  US 6 - 4.0 mm double pointed needles
Women's M/L 
This pattern is available for $2.99 USD

For Pattern Info - Click Here
To Start Knitting Now - Download PDF 

Pattern is written out and charted, with schematics.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

On Your Way to the Masters Day 2018

If you're working on your Masters, sign up for Masters Day at the Dallas Fiber Fest!  There are so many great classes to help you on Level 1, 2, and 3.  Join me in either Pattern Design for Hats & Sweaters or Picking up Stitches & say hi!



Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Color Block Tunic

Color Block Tunic

Longer, tunic length sweaters are just so easy to wear.  They look good with leggings, long skirts or just about anything that is comfy. 

The dramatic color blocks provide a slimming profile and the lace waistband adds a feminine accent. The dual-colored cables on the sleeves twist thecolors into eye-catching stripes. I wanted a longer design that would be easy to wear and fun to knit. Despite the longer length, the majority of the garment is worked in quick stockinette stitch, but it incorporates enough elements of change to hold the knitter’s interest.

Sizes XS (S, M, L, 1X, 2X)

Finished Measurements
Chest at underarm:  32 (36, 40, 44, 48, 52)”/81 (91.5, 101.5, 112, 122, 132) cm
Hips at widest point:  44 (46, 50, 54, 58, 63)”/112 (117, 127, 137, 147, 163) cm
Length: 30 (31, 32, 33.5, 35, 37)”/76 (79, 81, 85, 89, 94) cm 

Materials and Equipment
Hikoo KENZIE (50g, 160yds, 50% New Zealand Merino, 25% Nylon,
10% Angora, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils) in the following colors: 
Color A # 1023 Wombat 4 (4, 5, 6, 6, 7) skeins
Color B # 1000 Pavlova 4 (4, 5, 6, 6, 7) skeins
Color C # 1011 Tamarillo  3 (3, 4, 4, 4, 5) skeins
Size 5 (3.75mm) needles
Size 7 (4.5mm) 24” circular needle 
Size 7 (4.5mm ) needles or size needed to obtain gauge
Cable Needle
Tapestry Needle
Stitch Marker
Waste Yarn

Gauge  20 sts & 28 rows = 4”/10cm over Stockinette Stitch on larger needles
To save time, take time to check gauge.
This pattern is available in Cast On Magazine, Fall 2017.   Visit  http://www.tkga.org 

For more patterns and information, visit www.donnaestindesigns.com

Happy Knitting!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Book Review - Finishing School, A Master Class for Knitters

Finishing School, A Master Class for Knitters, by Deborah Newton:  New York, NY, Sixth and Spring Books, 2011, 164 pages, ISBN # 978-1-936096-19-0, $29.95.  Reviewed by Donna Estin. 

The best way to prove that professional finishing doesn’t need to be stuffy or boring is to add artistic flair and out-of-the-box creativity to the mundane.  Deborah Newton draws from her background in theatrical costume design to elevate finishing from tasks to art.  Edgings in a contrasting color, silk-lined pockets and zippers that stand out are not only possible but encouraged. 

The Dali Lama once said “learn the rules so you know how to break them.” Deborah Newton’s underlying advice throughout this book echoes this sentiment, with an added message... “in perfect execution.”  She acknowledges traditional guidelines and rules but never reveals them, preferring knitters to experiment through swatches in order to learn to read their own work.  This common sense approach is energizing, especially when color, flair and variety spill from the glossy pages.  Her ability to stimulate creativity in the midst of perfectly executed finishing makes you want to rummage through your sweaters and redo the edges.  

Before opening the book, pull up another chair because Ms. Newton will sit right next to you and talk you through all her tips.  This personable approach is filled with stories of past experiences, good and failed.  You have a trusted friend.  Half of the book is text and half filled with captivating, color photos that make you want to organize your supplies and buy more yarn. 

Finishing requires thought, planning and knowledge of garment function.  Sometimes you need to take a step back and think about the garment from many angles before deciding on a technique.  For knitters who have reached a plateau, the book shows you why your same old techniques may not be the best choices for every garment.  Bullet point tutorials sum up techniques that make quick references.  You’ll learn several ways to seam, when to use each and why.  Her explanation of the best buttonhole ever (compliments of Barbara Walker) is a game changer.  The art of finishing however isn’t limited to your ability to perfectly join a seam.  It encompasses your desire to transform your piece into a professional, runway-worthy garment.  This is where the added pizzazz comes into play.  She strikes a balance between finishing a garment properly and artistically. 

Educational, fashionable, encouraging and fun to read, this book includes over a dozen patterns and the thought process behind many of her Vogue Knitting designs.   Precise knitters will find ways to polish their techniques and bohemian knitters will delight in the creativity.   I loved learning new tricks and being encouraged to try different techniques.  I valued the art of finishing before this journey but came away energized and excited about the possibilities.  And isn’t that the goal of every how-to book?  To educated and elevate the reader’s skills while leaving them energized and excited?  After our long chat I said goodbye to Ms. Newton and ran my hands across the shiny hard cover.  This inspiring book is to be cherished and referred to often.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Fiber Patterns is LIVE

I am so incredibly pleased to announce that FiberPatterns.com is LIVE!

This project, aimed at bringing knitters and crocheters together with today's best indie designers, has been in the works for awhile and is finally available for everyone to view!  During the launch I have become acquainted with some incredible designers from around the world and meet new ones every day.  It's a wonderful community full of artistic expression, talent and kindness.  

FiberPatterns.com is an awesome new website is full of unique knitting and crochet patterns designed exclusively by indie designers.  

Knitters and crocheters can find some of the most current designs & click on the pattern for more info.  The site refers shoppers back to the designer’s website or Ravelry where you can get more information on the pattern and purchase/download instantly. 

FiberPatterns.com really lets you connect with the designers with a full bio of each, a way to contact them and links to their own sites to see the full range of their designs.  The site is easy to navigate, has no ads, and fresh, unique designs.  PLUS +++  The best part, is that’s so easy to find what you’re looking for.  If you’ve ever been to a site where you’re searching for women’s cardigans and you find 80,000 patterns which you need to sift through to weed out the dated patterns, you’ll know what I mean.  No 1970’s leaflets here. 

All designers are currently designing.  Each one specializes in a niche within their craft and more designers are being added regularly.  None of the designers work for publishing houses or yarn manufacturers. They are not limited with their designs nor bound by constraints.  They are truly independent and have come up with unique, fun, artistic and beautiful sweaters, blankets, scarves, socks, mittens, hats, children’s garments and so much more. 

The introductory team of designers includes Katherine Lee, Kerry Bullock-Ozkan, Elin Brissman (a brilliant painter as well), Janet Welsh, Catherine Roujansky, Holli Yeoh, Agata MackiewiczSusan Carlson and myself, Donna Estin.  

The common bond between all of us, is Ravelry of course!  Visit us on Ravelry, see our designs and to see what all the excitement is about, visit www.FiberPatterns.com.

Happy Knitting & Crocheting,

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Are You a Tight Knitter? Loose?

A shopkeeper sitting outside her kitchen shop in Gamla Stan, Stockholm was knitting in the sunshine in December. I complimented her project and she asked if a) I knitted and b) was I an American?  Yes to both.  "The problem with American knitters is they knit too loosely,"  she said.  

I think about her often.  Whenever I notice someone's seed stitch pitted with holes, or a floppy, drapey sweater that doesn't hold it's shape, I remember her words.  I too prefer the look and feel of a densely knit garment that behaves.  

When "tightening up" your knitting, the tendency is for knitters to knit tighter.  Tug the yarn after each stitch, scrunch the stitches across the needles, and hope that you can insert the needle tip into the next stitch without breaking something.

But after spending much time studying this "knitting too tightly" or "knitting too loosely" problem, I've discovered something.  And I'll share it with you.

How you knit affects your hands, arms, fingers, and the ease or difficulty of the process of knitting.  It rarely affects the finished product.  Why?  Because knitters are clever!  Knitters adapt their tools to accommodate their knitting style.  If you're a loose knitter you get in the habit of going down 1, 2 3 or more needle sizes before even beginning your swatch.  If you knit tightly, a solid worsted yarn on a size 7 needle can turn into a swatch yielding 6 1/2 sts per inch instead of the ball band recommended 5 sts/1".   If you're knitting tightly, and you're getting 6 1/2 sts instead of 5 sts / 1", you don't change the way you knit, you go up a needle size, and up another size, while still knitting tightly.  If you're a tight knitter it is possible to knit a perfectly tensioned fabric on a size larger needle and a loose knitter can create the same exact fabric on a much smaller needle.  So if the finished garment is the same, why should it matter?

It matters because tight knitters can experience pain in their fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, neck as they tense their muscles.  It's harder to work decreases and increases when the yarn is too tight.  Cables are near impossible.  And don't get me started on attempting the Cable Cast On with yarn wrapped so tightly around the needle it is suffocating.  But when tight knitters loosen up, they discover uneven tension, rowing out and gauge troubles.  This is NOT because they are knitting too loosely, but because some stitches are loose and some are tight.  It is the inconsistency in their knitting that is to blame.  

The trick is to maintain even tension regardless of how you knit.  Change your needle size!  Tight knitters can go down 2-3 needle sizes and try to knit on the loose side.  Loose knitters go up.  This will feel weird.  You might feel like the yarn is flowing through your fingers without you being in control.  Be mindful of your tension and keep your purl stitches the same tension as your knit.  Don't tug so hard after each stitch.  Keep practicing and you'll be amazed at how your knitting evens out as your body relaxes.   

Adopt an easy style of knitting that allows you to enjoy the process without fatigue, and at the same time produce a neat garment.  By being aware of both process and finished product, you can achieve both.  

   *  Find a style that feels good
   *  Experiment with needle sizes
   *  Swatch, block, test gauges
   *  Choose your yarn carefully.  100% wool is wonderfully elastic and hold it's shape well.

In the end, the problem isn't that we're knitting too tightly or too loosely, it's that the finished garment wasn't knit to produce a well-behaved garment.  Just like soft yarns aren't always better, floppy garments aren't going to be loved year after year.   A garment can be knitted with a loose touch, on a much smaller needle to produce a tighter gauge and a firmer fabric.  THIS! is what the shopkeeper in Gamla Stan was referring to.  Holding a piece of dense knitting, with no holes and a firm feel, that stays put around the neck, doesn't slip off the shoulders and doesn't sag, without ladders to the left of the cables, messy ribbing, and uneven eyelets, is a wonderful piece of knitted fabric to behold.  This piece of properly knitted fabric, will last for years. So go ahead and RELAX, just make sure your finished product doesn't look as easy-going as you are when you're knitting.  

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Celtic Earth Handbag

Celebrate Summer.  Celebrate the Earth with a natural handbag.  Upcycle and bring new life to fibers. Made of strong, recycled fibers, this favorite handbag features Celtic symbols paired with knotted eyelet lace. 
Designed for everyday use, it is large enough to hold today’s gadgets with a handy strap for hands-free mobility. It opens easily and quickly, and shuts with I-Cord to tie for extra security. It features a sturdy Garter Stitch bottom for stability.
Instructions are charted & written out, for knitter’s preference.
This handbag is a favorite for those who avoid the use of leather.

For pattern info, please visit:  www.DonnaEstinDesigns.com

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