Tuesday, 20 November 2018

St Kilda Sweater

I  love Fair Isle.  It's fun to work stranded knitting with different colors.  Counting the colors is relaxing, 3-2-1-2/ 3-2-1-2/3-2-1-2/  its like a little song at each round.  But, here's the thing, after about 5", I'm ready to move on.  Which is why St Kilda features a 5" Fair Isle border at the hem and cuffs, then transitions into Stockinette so you can speed up the knitting, and wear the sweater sooner.

All colorwork is kept at the beginning, or bottom, so you start with all of the fun, then move on to single color plain knitting for the rest.  Body and sleeves are worked in the round from the bottom up, then worked flat.  Set in sleeves make for a nice fit across the chest and back.  There is extra ease around the hips to give a little more room when wearing with jeans or cords.  The wide ribbed neck works great with a turtleneck or long sleeve crew neck.

Worked in DK weight 100% wool, this pullover is knitted with Kelbourne Woolens, SCOUT.  Having a heathered DK wool gives the pullover a bit richer look than a solid color.  The sunflower color in St. Kilda is one of my favorites, but I don't look great with yellow around my face.  This is a way I can wear that warm, heathered yellow color, with it kept at the cuffs and hem, with a more flattering grey around my neck and face.  If you're one of the lucky people who just looks radiant in yellow, you might want to reverse the colors and use it as the main color.

There are really lots of options for mixing up the colors.  There are 5 colors total, 3 greys, a dark red and yellow.  True to the traditional Fair Isle form, no more than 2 colors are used in any given round.
If you want to find out more about the St. Kilda Sweater, visit Ravelry or my website.

If you want to find our more about the island of St. Kilda in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, click here.

Thank you for visiting & I hope you like this pullover as much as I loved knitting and wearing it.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Measuring Lengths when Knitting with Superwash Yarns

Ages ago, I walked into my local yarn shop and said I was done with superwash yarns.  Sweater after sweater ended up so much larger than the pattern called for and had super long sleeves that were unwearable.  Yes, I had swatched, and I had knitted the pattern exactly as written, but ended up with an expensive, time wasted mess.

With more and more amazing superwash yarns popping up, the desire to knit with them is becoming irresistible.   

When wool yarn is treated to become "superwash" it is stripped of it's natural elasticity properties.  It won't spring back into shape after being soaked in water.  It grows in size.  And this can ruin a carefully hand knit garment.

But there is a way around this.  You can knit with a superwash yarn and have your sweater turn out as expected.  You just need a bit of planning and math.  (just a little).  

I always list in the notes section of my patterns that are worked in superwash yarns, to measure lengths vertically with the weight of the garment hanging from the needles.  But there is just so much explanation that you can write into a pattern before it becomes tedious to read, especially for knitters who are already know this. So I'm taking a few moments to elaborate here, and arming you with the knowledge and steps to take to be able to knit a garment that fits with superwash yarns.

1.  Knit a swatch.  As a wise knitter told me once, "We all knit swatches after all!  We either knit 4x4" swatches or 18x20" swatches."  With superwash yarns, this is a must!

2.   Measure the UNBLOCKED swatch.  Write down your stitch and row gauge over at least 4".

3.  Block it.  Soak it in water, roll it in a towel,  lay it flat, pin it and let it dry.

4.  Unpin it and fluff it out.  Lay it back down and with a ruler, measure the dry, blocked swatch and again write down your stitch and row gauge over 4".

5.  Your stitch gauge, after blocking, must equal the stitch gauge of the pattern.  Some patterns list both the pre and post blocking gauges, and if they don't, it is standard practice that patterns will list the gauge after blocking. If your stitch gauge doesn't match, try a different needle size, make a new swatch, and measure it before and after blocking.  

6.  Once you have a blocked swatch that matches the pattern's stitch gauge, use this swatch and figure the percentage that your swatch lengthened. Compare your pre-blocked row gauge to the post-blocked row gauge. If the pre-blocked row gauge is 32 rows=4" (8 rows=1") and after blocking it's 28 rows=4" (7 rows=1"), 8 div by 7=1.14.  The length increased by 14%.  You can also measure the new swatch.  If the old one was 4" and the new one is 4.57" 4.57/4=1.14.  

 If the swatch is 10% larger, then it increased 110% of the original size.  This equates to (110/100) or 1.1.  This is the number you'll need.  
       10% = 1.1
       15% = 1.15
       20% = 1.2
       22% = 1.22 etc. 

(If blocked is 10% larger, you can't just reverse it all and say the pre-blocked swatch is 90% smaller.  It's close, but not accurate.)

7.  Back to row gauge!  If your blocked swatch was 10% larger, you'll divide by 1.1 remember.  Use this knowledge when knitting lengths.  When a sweater says to "work until piece measures 18" and divide for armholes", you'll want to lift your needles up and measure the length with the weight of the piece hanging from your needles.  Place the tape measure just under the needle so you're measuring the last row of stitches worked that are lined up under the ones that are on the needle.  Let the tape measure hang until it reaches the bottom.  You'll stop knitting when you've reached the length called for in the pattern, in this case 18" divided by 1.1 which equals 16.36".  That is a big difference, especially if you're working sleeves.

Since you've done the pre/post block experiment, you know that, in this scenario, a piece of knitted fabric measuring 16.36" unblocked, will grow 10% after blocking and become 18".  The percentage changes with every project.  Yarn, needle size, tension, and stitch pattern all affect the percentage of growth.  So you'll want to do this every time you're knitting with superwash yarns. 

If you're unsure of your math, or just nervous about proceeding, you can always stop 3-4" short of the length that the pattern states to knit to, take a tapestry needle threaded with yarn and run it through all the stitches, remove your needles and soak the unfinished piece.  Block it and measure it after it's dry.  This will help you to figure out how much more you need to knit before proceeding.  Once it's dry just re-feed your needle into the stitches, remove the waste yarn and continue on.  You can always start knitting the sleeves or front while it's drying, because we need to keep knitting right?

There are many reasons why you might end up knitting with a superwash yarn, and I hope this helps you to knit garments with confidence.  You've mastered the hardest part - knitting stitches into a lovely fabric.  By tweaking your process just a tad, you'll end up with a garment that fits.  And expand your repertoire of yarns in the process.  

If you have any questions, please email me at donnaestindesigns@gmail.com.

Happy Knitting, 

Donna Estin

Visit www.DonnaEstinDesigns.com

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Irving Pullover - NEW RELEASE

The test knit has finished and I am so please to be able to bring this lovely top knitting pattern to you.  a thing for string's DK is a luxurious yarn that is amazing to knit with.  It holds it shape too which is important with lace patterns.  

Skill Level-Intermediate

Featuring a combination of waterfall & umbrella lace patterns this standard-fitting, light-weight pullover has gentle shaping between lace panels to allow more room at the hips. With long set-in sleeves, simple Garter trim at the neckline and soft merino yarn, this is designed to be worn next to the skin or over a camisole. It is worked flat from the bottom up, is charted & written out with schematics.   

Women’s S (M, L, 1X, 2X) Shown in Size S
To fit actual bust at underarm: 32 (36, 40, 44, 48)”/81 (91, 101, 111, 122) cm to be worn with 2”/5cm of positive ease

Finished Measurements
Circumference at bust: 34 (38, 42, 46, 50)”/86 (96, 106, 116, 127) cm
Length: 23.75 (24.75, 25.25, 26.25, 26.75)”/60 (62, 63, 66, 68) cm

Materials and Equipment
A Thing for String Hand Dyed DK yarn (230yds, 100g, 100% Superwash Merino Wool), Blue Granite 5 (6, 6, 7, 7) hanks

OR 1069 (1180, 1303, 1442, 1567) yds/978 (1079, 1192, 1319, 1433) m of DK Superwash Merino Wool.

Size 5 (3.75mm) circular needles, 16”/40cm
Size 6 (4mm) needles, or size needed to obtain gauge
Scrap yarn
Stitch markers
Tapestry needle

Over Charts A & B: 22 sts & 28 rows = 4”/10cm after blocking.
The pattern PDF is available for $6.50 as in instant download.  Click to Download
Visit RAVELRY too for more info!

Monday, 9 July 2018

Tubular Bind Off - An Easier Way

To create a lovely, rounded edge at the end of k1p1 ribbing, the Tubular Bind Off method gives you the stretch and look that is just perfect.  There is an easier way than putting half of your stitches on one needle  - it can be done with all of the sts where they are.  

After clicking on the link below, scroll down until you see "One Needle Kitchener BO for Double Knitting"  You can use this even if you're not working in double knitting.  Just plain k1p1 ribbing is fine.


  Video Tutorial

Once you get into the rhythm of the bind off, it moves at a steady pace and leaves such a great bind off edge.  Thank you Sockmatician for putting this video together!

Monday, 7 May 2018

How to Correct Bias from Occurring in a Knitted Garment

[NOTE - this article applies to those who knit either English or Continental style.  Both are considered "Western Knitting", and proper orientation of a knit stitch is where the right leg of the stitch is on the front needle.  If you practice "Eastern Knitting" where you knit and purl in reverse, and the left leg is on the front needle, the below article will not apply.]

Unintended bias in knitting causes a garment to twist to one side in a spiral nature and is caused by too much twist in the yarn.  This is more common in inelastic yarns like cotton and in yarns that are 2-ply.  In wool blends yarns it is most often caused by the yarn being overspun. 

Z twist yarns rarely give us trouble with creating bias.  It’s the S twist yarns that are the culprits.   This is because when a yarn is inelastic or twisted too tightly and you knit it, the very process of wrapping the yarn around the needle for each new stitch adds more twist to an S twist yarn.   Knitting removes twist from a Z twist yarn.  When the twist tightens, the entire fabric will slant or skew to one direction, which ends up wrapping around the body if you’re knitting a garment.  If you've ever had a cheap t-shirt or cotton shirt that twists, this is why.  The side seam ends up swirling around to the front and back of the top and it just won't hold straight no matter what you do it.  

It doesn’t matter whether you knit English or Continental style, because when you knit either style, the yarn is traveling around the needle in the same direction.  In Continental style, your fingers make smaller movements and the needle moves around the yarn instead of guiding the yarn around the needles with your fingers which happens in English style.  But when you examine each in slow motion, you’ll see that the yarn is wrapped counterclockwise around the needle in both methods.  Once you've knit a stitch, the right leg of the stitch will be on the front of the needle and the left leg of the stitch on the back of the needle. 

Bias is more noticeable in Stockinette stitch.  When you incorporate a combination of knit and purl stitches, it can help but not always.  Cables can actually increase the bias because of the extra tightness that occurs when forming them.  Working in twisted stitches can cause more twist as well which is what we are trying to avoid in overly twisted yarns.

If you’ve wound your own skein and are pulling from the center, pull out a foot of yarn and hang it next to a foot of yarn from the outside.  The yarn in the center may be pulled tighter than the yarn at the outside, because when you’re first getting the swift going, if you allow the ball winder to pull yarn from the stationary swift, it will stretch tightly at first.  Once you get some momentum going and less yarn is on the swift, you’ll notice that the tension eases off.  However, this is not causing the bias.  

When you examine two pieces of yarn, one from the center and one from the outside of the cake, the center strand may be pulled tighter but the amount of twist remains the same.  Once you remove the tension from the center, both strands should lie the same.  If you just pull on a strand, it makes it tighter, but doesn’t affect the twist.  The amount of twist can be determined by looking at the number of crosses that one strand makes on the other.  The closer the diagonal lines are together the more twist you have.  Measure out about 6” of yarn from the center of the skein and 6” from the outside, then count the number of diagonal slants in each piece.  If they are close to the same then you have the same amount of twist in each end of the yarn. 

More often than not, the root of the problem lies with the way the yarn is spun before you buy it.  Bias cannot be steamed out.  Severe blocking may help, but once the fabric is dry it will have a tendency to skew again.  Knitting flat & seaming the sides is better than knitting in the round but again, it will not eliminate it.  

The correction needs to be made during the act of knitting. 

For overspun yarns, one easy, but time-consuming method is to pull out a yard or so of yarn, take a clothespin and clip the yarn to the ball.  Let the ball of yarn hang from the work so it untwists itself, then knit normally from the untwisted yarn.  Or by hand, untwist a section of yarn, clip it to something (pillow, blanket, your shirt, anything really), and knit until you reach the clip.  Then untwist another section and keep doing this.  Eventually you’ll need to let the ball spin itself back to a normal position.  

Another better, faster remedy when working in Stockinette is to wrap the yarn in the opposite direction (under and clockwise instead of over) when forming the purl stitch on the WS rows.  Then when you’re working the RS rows, knit each stitch through the back loop.  This untwists the yarn and you’ll notice instead of a tightly swirled S on the needle, you’ll find a very loose one that almost resembles a single ply.  If you’re working with 2 ply yarn, instead of a twist on the needle, you may actually see both plys squeezed together and lying almost side by side, with just a little twist between them.  

If you’re working in a combination of stitches this becomes a bit trickier, since the front & back of the same stitch need to be altered in order to reduce the amount of twist in the yarn, and at the same time prevent the stitch from becoming twisted.  A twisted stitch has the bottom two strands of the V crossed.  When you pull the stitch apart, instead of the V opening up at the bottom, you’ll see the strands crisscross and become tight.  You do not want twisted stitches (unless the pattern calls for them in the design.)

By wrapping the yarn around the needle the wrong way (clockwise) when making a purl stitch, and knitting through the back loop when knitting this same stitch on the next row, you are orienting the stitches on the needle so that the left leg is at the front of the needle and the right leg is at the back.  This is opposite of how stitches are normally oriented.  If you were to only do one of the two, for example, knit a stitch through the back loop, then purl it normally on the WS row, you would have a twisted stitch.  But since you’re knitting through the back loop on the RS AND wrapping the yarn around the needle clockwise when purling on the WS, both actions counter each other out and the stitches remain untwisted.  And you are accomplishing your task of untwisting the yarn every time you work a stitch. 

Most of the time we don’t realize we have a problem until we’ve knitted a few inches and the fabric begins to slant.  If you notice that the yarn is kinking and doubling back on itself, that’s a sign that it’s spun too tightly.  Removing some twist at this point may save you time in the long run.  Watch the yarn as you go though.  Sometimes you'll find sections of yarn with a tighter than normal twist, then it evens out.  

I hope this tip helps and that it brings some answers to the puzzle of unintended bias.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you can fix the problem as you knit you’ll be able to continue creating a garment that you can be proud of.  

“Adding twist to splitty yarns."  07MAY18.  <https://yarnsub.com/articles/techniques/adding-twist/>

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Master Knitters in Dallas

DFWFiberFest 2018 was such an amazing event.  Anytime you have a large gathering of knitters, oodles of yarn, gadgets you didn't know existed, classes, lectures, hands on events, and a wealth of knowledge being exchanged, you KNOW it's a great place to be.  And since we were in Texas, everything was bigger, including the collection of yarn on the convention floor!  TKGA Masters Day was sold out to knitters working on their masters certification.  We managed to gather all Master Knitters together for a group photo at the end of the day.  We are tired from a long of day of teaching, learning and coordinating, but we smiling!  Yes, that's one happy group of knitters.  

For more information about becoming a Master Knitter or The Knitting Guild Association, visit 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wendy Cardigan - Yes Summer is Coming!

The Summer 2018 issue of Creative Knitting is in mailboxes and store shelves, and the northeast is getting snow - again.  At some point we will finish up the thick wool turtlenecks and look for a lighter, warmer-weather knit.  

Wendy Cardigan uses eyelets against a background of stockinette in diagonals for a flattering look.  The open front makes finishing a breeze and the yarn is TO DIE FOR.  If you've ever avoided linen or cotton, or if you have hand/arm pain when knitting with stiff yarns, you really should try Plymouth's Nettle Grove.  It glides through your fingers effortlessly and has a nice crunchy feel.  It's a sport weight yarn (45% cotton, 28% linen, 12% nettle, 15% silk; 218 yds/50g per skein) shown in sapphire # 42.  Cardigan uses 5 (6, 7, 7, 8) skeins.

For more information, visit Ravelry or Annie's website. 

Pattern is available in print in Creative Knitting Spring 2018's magazine, or online from Annie's. 

This issue has 15 patterns and you can see them all 

Happy Knitting!


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Masters Day Class Schedule DFW FiberFest 2018

Here is the schedule of classes for Masters Day April 5, 2018:

If you are working on your Masters in Hand Knitting Certification or just thinking about it, but have not signed up the Master Day Courses, stop by The Knitting Guild Association’s booth to get more information, talk to the instructors, committee members, discuss swatches, and more.  The booth will be staffed with members of the review committee who will be glad to take a look at any swatches that you need a second set of eyes on, before submitting them.  

If you are attending, you have the freedom to visit any of the classes regardless of the level you are currently working on.  In addition, you will be given handouts on ALL of the classes, not just the ones you attend, so you’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge.  
  --  "Knowledge is power."  Sir Francis Bacon. 

I hope to see you there!

“The Knitting Guild Association is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to providing education and resources to knitters to advance their mastery of the craft of knitting. We support serious knitters in their efforts to perpetuate traditional techniques and keep the artisan aspects and high quality standards of the craft alive.”

For more information about the show, visit

For more information about The Knitting Guild Association, visit

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Book Review - The Art of Fair Isle Knitting

The Art of Fair Isle Knitting, by Ann Feitelson:  Loveland, CO, Interweave Press, 1993, 183 pages, ISBN 1-883010-20-9, $34.95.  Reviewed by Donna Estin.

Having a marketable product that the mass population links exclusively to you is the key to financial stability.  While no one knows the thought process behind the first Fair Isle design, Ann Feitelson begins her book with a historical journey examining the coalition of home based hand knitters and merchants who created a unique product that allowed Fair Isle and the rest of the Shetland Islands to flourish economically.

This book is divided into thirds; history, technique and patterns.  The history is crucial for understanding the importance of a simple, repeating design, (i.e. speed = quantity = money). Appreciation of the coordinated efforts of a group of islanders that raised sheep, created a style, hand knitted garments, promoted their product and created a sustainable economy for decades gives depth to the art of Fair Isle.  It leads you to knit with more knowledge and a deeper grasp of the art form you are continuing.  You must understand a tradition wholly, in order to carry it on, otherwise it becomes diluted, cheapened and forgotten.

Enlightened by the history, the author leads you by the hand into the science of selecting colors with the goal of teaching you to design your own Fair Isle sweater.  For the color-challenged knitter, this book gives sample color palettes in appealing combinations.  And if the comprehensive color shading, technique and design are just too much to absorb the first time around, the rest of the book provides over twenty patterns ready to knit. 

I thought I knew Fair Isle, but this book illuminated all that I didn’t know and challenged some of my preconceived notions.  The book trained my eye to look upon a sweater and see not a random collection of colors, but a well-thought out scheme of complimentary colors shaded from light to dark with opposing contrasts between background and pattern.  And what I thought had been originally designed centuries ago to look artful, delicate and complex, was really designed to be simple, easy to memorize and knittable at great speeds to ensure commercial success.

Some of the looks are dated but in all fairness, many patterns are twenty years old.  For me, the return to varied, undyed wools and neutral colors is the most appealing.  Like a tide coming in and out, the popularity of this design has moved in and out of fashion.  But the flexible, warm fabric knitted to withstand weather seems to be forever connected to harsh weather climates and like the changing tides, is constant and always with us.  I have a new appreciation for Fair Isle and a much deeper understanding.  This book deserves to be read twice and holds answers to the how and whys of Fair Isle knitting that would benefit every knitter embarking on this style.


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.