Introducing the Princeton Capelet

We have a sample in the shop that is truly elegant in its simplicity and sophistication!  It's the Princeton Capelet designed by Sylvia Hager.  Sylvia designed it specifically for Blue Sky Fibers Eco-Cashmere.  This little gem is perfect for the warmer spring weather that will be here before we know it!

What is Machine Washable Yarn?

At times we want to make a project with machine washable wool.  Socks, baby clothes, and items for children come to mind.  But which machine washable wool do we choose and what exactly does machine washable mean?

"What size needle was used to knit this?"

“What size needle was used to knit this?” is a question we often hear at My Sister Knits.  We put that information on the tags of display items as an indication of what size needle to use.  Usually it’s the size that was recommended by the designer. It can also be the size the knitter used to get the gauge that the pattern called for.  Matching stitch gauge is vital in certain circumstances!If you see something on display, fall in love with it, and want to reproduce it exactly, you’re going to need to do a little research.  You want to match the stitch gauge!  The knitter who created the item probably knits differently than you do. His stitches may be looser or tighter than yours. The thing you really need to know is the stitch gauge of the project!  If the knitter knits more loosely than you and you use the same size needle, your project will be smaller.  The opposite is also true; if that knitter knits tighter than you, your end result will be larger. This can be mildly annoying with a shawl or cowl or disastrous in a sweater.  The result is possibly a garment that will lay around and be worn only seldom, if at all. This is a shame due to the time, expense, and happy anticipation you’ve put into your project.We urge you to use the needle size on the tag as a jumping-off point, as an indicator of approximately the size needle you might use.  So what should you do about the display that you love that used a size 6 needle? Let’s say it’s a shawl.  Ask us for a ruler if you don’t have one; lay the shawl out on one of our tables; find something with a point, say a darning needle or pencil, and use it to count the number of stitches over at least 2 and preferably 4 inches in a stockinette or garter stitch section.  This will give you the gauge of the shawl you want to reproduce.Your task: buy the yarn you've chosen and make a knitting gauge swatch that matches the display garment’s gauge. Be sure it’s at least 4” wide and tall and give it a bath before you count your stitches per inch!  If you have to go up or down a needle size and made another swatch that more closely matches, it’s ok!If you want to get results that are even more in keeping with the display shawl, add in row gauge as well. Keep in mind that row gauge is hard to match. It would be interesting to get the shawl’s row gauge and then measure yours after you closely match the stitch gauge. Then you will have an idea of how closely your project will match the one on display!We hope to see you measuring away at the shop and we'll help in any way we can! 

Ravelry: How to Search for Patterns

Several weeks ago we showed you how to create an account on Ravelry.  This week we're going to show you how to use Ravelry to search for patterns in general, not a specific one.Usually I write as the voice of My Sister Knits but for this post I'm writing as myself because it seems much easier this way!  I, Jenny, had a gorgeous skein of My Sister Knits Local yarn that I wanted to cast on immediately.  It is the lighter gray paired with Shibui Silk Cloud.  I decided that I wanted to make a hat for my daughter, so I immediately went to Ravelry.I clicked on 'patterns' at the top of the home page.  This photo is from my phone, the home page looks a bit different on your computer but you will still see 'patterns' to click on.RavelryIt took me to this page where I clicked on the 'pattern browser & advanced search' linkHow to use Ravelrywhich took me to this page where all of the category choices are!  This is the fun part!My Sister KnitsThis is where you narrow down your choices! This photo is from my computer.  It's much easier to search using your computer and it looks quite different from your phone. Or at least, my phone!Once I landed on this page, I could start choosing from the filters on the left.  Your filters may be in a different order but they're there!  They can be rearranged by putting your cursor near the name and dragging them up or down.  I'll list the filters in the order I opened them and made my choices.Category:  I chose accessories, then hat, then all hatCraft:  I chose knitting and that gave me 67,028 patterns to choose from!Weight:  my yarn is worsted, so I ticked that boxAvailability:  I wanted a Ravelry download and I didn't care if it was free or not.Gender/Age/Size/Fit:  I chose adult because I didn't want a bunch of baby hats popping up.  I also chose unisex.  I didn't have to because it's a hat but I hoped that would narrow my choices a bit.Then I scrolled down to narrow my choices even more.  I knew I was only going to use one color and I knew that my daughter wanted cables.  So here is what I did:I found the Colors Used filter and chose 1.  This narrowed my pattern choices to 673.I then went to Attributes, chose Fabric Characteristics and from there chose cables.  Now I had 270 choices, a much more manageable number!As you play with the filters and learn how to use Ravelry, you'll see how helpful they are!  This opens up a whole new world of pattern searching!  I like the idea of swatching and then searching by the gauge that I get to find a sweater design.  You can find 'gauge' in the 'More search options' filter.  There are oodles of possibilities and combinations!We love to hear about your searches and fun with Ravelry! local yarn shop 

Ravelry: How to Create an Account

Ravelry is an essential tool for knitters!  When customers ask us "what is Ravelry?", it's hard to describe in a few words.  Basically it's a website for knitters and crocheters that fulfills all of our needs!It's where we go to look up patterns, find patterns for yarn that we have, see what others have done with certain patterns.It's also a place to find out about yarn.  You can look up a certain skein and find out what weight it is, how many yards are in it, and you can see projects that people have made with it.You can join forums and groups and you can ask questions about certain patterns or techniques in those places.  My Sister Knits has our own group!If you're an organized soul, you can enter all of your yarn into your own database so you'll know what you have at a glance.  You can also do this with patterns you like and think you might make someday.  Be careful or you might end up with 515 patterns like someone we know!  Perhaps she needs to cull!All of the patterns you buy from Ravelry go into your library and they will be available to you at any time.  If you buy a pattern at My Sister Knits, we will put it into your library for you!Ravelry is a place that inspires!Although it's free, you need an account to use this indispensable site.  Go to Ravelry.com to get started.  You'll see this:  RavelryChoose 'join now' and you'll get this:How to use RavelryEnter your email address and click on 'Email me a signup link'.  Watch your inbox!Then you get to create your account!My Sister KnitsIt's as easy as that!Once you've joined, after you've logged in you'll get to the home page:Learn to Knit This is where your fun begins!  To learn how to use Ravelry, click on the 'help' button at the top or on one of the links in the 'helpful links' box.  The help button at the top will take you to a page where you can choose 'Getting Started'.  Near the top of that page you'll be able to click on a link to a 'handy video' and find other helpful information.Now you can take some time to explore this amazing site! Be sure to tell us about your adventures on Ravelry! 

Garter Tab Cast On Success!

The garter tab cast on is used to begin a top down triangular shawl.  It gives the shawl a professional appearance because it creates a smooth, seamless edge with no dip in the middle that some triangular shawls have.With that said, a garter tab cast on can be an exercise in frustration because you aren't sure you're doing it right.  We are here today to show you an easy, fool-proof way to work it!There are several tutorials online describing a few ways of working this cast on.  Some suggest a provisional cast on - for three stitches!  That is not necessary!  Only one of the many tutorials suggest the magic trick to make working the garter tab cast on a pleasure and we're sharing it with you today.Usually this cast on starts with 3 stitches so that's what we'll work with.Garter Tab Cast OnNow, here is the all important next step!  This one will save you from bafflement, vexation, and tearing out of hair.  This is the where the magic is!  Gather 3 locking stitch markers and place one on each of the cast on stitches.  Just the stitches, not around your needle.Garter Tab Shawl StartLeave them there and knit 6 rows of garter stitch.  Next you'll need to pick up and knit 3 stitches from the side of your work (see below).  Most directions say to pick up the purl bumps in the garter ridges.  This is possibly a problematic step because sometimes the purl bumps aren't obvious.  Thank goodness Stephen West suggests merely picking up anywhere along this side as long as you end up with three picked up stitches and a total of six stitches on your needles!  Who are we to argue with internationally known and respected designer and teacher Stephen West??To pick up and knit, insert your needle into the purl bump or wherever you've chosen, wrap your working yarn around it as if to knit and draw it through.  One stitch has been created.My Sister KnitsYou'll end up with a  piece that looks much like the one above.  The last step is when you will be immensely thankful you learned about the 'magic markers'.  You're almost done with your garter tab shawl start!  Only three more stitches to go. Better Garter Tab Cast OnGrab the first marker and pull it up.  You will immediately see the stitch to put your needle through!knitting tutorialsPick up and knit into that stitch.  Do the same thing with the other two stitches.  The markers make this step, which can be the most formidable of all, a breeze!Fort Collins yarn storeAnd, voila, you have a garter tab cast on!  Now is the time to celebrate with wild abandon!  You've done it!  Successfully, easily, and with joy!We at My Sister Knits cannot take credit for this amazingly magic trick, we can only spread the word.  This technique comes from Kelbourne Woolens and we are so glad they thought of using lockable markers as it has made our world much easier!Among the designers who use this cast on are Stephen West, Andrea Mowry, Martina Behm, and Ysolda Teague. If you do a search of their designs you're sure to see shawls you recognize!To search for designs using this technique on Ravelry go to Patterns and click on 'pattern browser & advanced search'.  In the Category box, choose accessories, Neck/Torso, and finally Shawl/Wrap.  Then Scroll down the category boxes on the left side of the screen until you find 'more search options'.  From here, select 'pattern notes', type in 'garter tab cast on' and hit 'apply'.  There are 617 pages of shawls with garter tab cast ons!Your next step is to come to the shop, choose a luscious yarn, and get started! knitting fort collins

The Story of a Perfectly Finished Shawl

You want to knit a shawl.  One with a simple lace edge catches your eye but causes immediate misgivings.  It's a bit out of your comfort zone because you've never knit or blocked lace.  However, you check the pattern's stitch abbreviations as you've been taught to do and find that you know how to do the stitches required (k2tog, yo, ssk).  You take the plunge!My Sister Knits, Deception Pass shawl, Fort Collins, lace knittingFast forward to the finished shawl.  You compare your shawl to the one in the photo on the pattern.  Horrors, they don't look anything alike!  Quickly you figure out why yours is a lump of knitting that doesn't lay flat and isn't pretty.  You've finished the knitting of it but you haven't blocked it.Now it's time for the last step and the magic that will make your shawl beautiful!  You've done your research and have learned about blocking lace.  You've gathered your tools:  blocking wires, pins that won't rust such as T-pins, Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers, and a blocking mat of some sort that is large enough for the shawl and will accept pins and doesn't absorb water.My Sister Knits, Passe-Partout Shawl, Knit Blockers, northern Colorado, blocking wires, blocking hand knitsYou give your shawl a bath, roll it into a towel and do a little dance on it to get as much water out as possible.  Then you unroll it, place it on the blocking surface, take a deep breath and smile to yourself because you are going to do it!  You're going to block your lace-edged shawl.My Sister Knits, local yarn shop, lace blocking, Fort Collins ColoradoYou find that it's quite satisfying and rather fun to pat your shawl into shape, pin the corners where you want them and choose which tools to use.  You decide that a nice crisp edge along the long top is needed so that's where you thread your blocking wires.  You could also have used your Knit Blockers here.Then comes the transformative part.  You use your T-pins to shape the edge.  When you looked at the 'projects' page on Ravelry, you saw that some knitters made sharp points and some made  more of a scalloped edge.  It's up to you to decide what you want!  As you pin out your edge, the fabric lays flat and the pattern appears.  You fiddle and tweak until it's just as you want it.  Then you impatiently wait while it dries because you can't wait to wear it and show it off!My Sister Knits, northern Colorado, Hitchhiker shawl, blocking lace, blocking wiresFinally, you proudly wear it amongst friends who ooh and ahh over it and are awed by your knitting ability.  You are no longer fearful of blocking lace and you can't wait to cast on another one!My Sister Knits carries all of the lace blocking tools you need and we'll be happy to show them to you!   

Why Choose One Needle Tip Over Another?

In December we posted about the value of moving more often while we knit, protecting our backs when we sit, and knitting on more than one project at a time using different sized needles and weights of yarn.Today we’ll share why needle tips make a difference, again with information from Carson Demers’ book Knitting Comfortably, the Ergonomics of Handknitting. My Sister Knits, Colorado, lys, knitting needles

Matching our needle tips to our yarn

Something to keep in mind when choosing a needle for a project is the type of tip on the needle.  If you match needle tips to your yarn, your knitting experience will be more pleasant.  For instance, like Amelia, you may love sharp needle tips but they aren’t the best for for two-ply yarn or yarn that is softly spun or softly plied.  The structure of two-ply yarn causes the plies to push away from each other, causing gaps which are found by a sharp tipped needle.  Then we complain because the yarn is ‘splitty’ and it isn’t the yarn’s fault at all!  When this happens to you, try a needle with a medium-to-blunt tip and see if the problem goes away!  That blunt tip won’t find the gaps between the plies the way a sharp tip will.  My Sister Knits, Fort Collins Co, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, Lykke needles, Addi needlesSharp tips are wonderful for projects with small gauges like socks, lace, cables, and twisted stitch patterns.  Try purling two together through the back loop with both kinds of needles as an experiment!Or, like Diana, you may love medium-to-blunt needle tips which are best for stockinette in DK and heavier weight yarn and simple knit-purl textured stitches.  Ideally, every knitter should have both types of needle tips in their knitting toolbox!

Which needle to buy

We carry a selection of needles with both medium-to-blunt tips and sharp tips.  If you would like a sharp tip for your next project, our Addi lace and rockets are two of your choices.  If you’d like to splurge on a super sharp tip, you can treat yourself to a Signature needle!  If a blunter tip will make your project more pleasurable, you could use Addi turbos, Knit Picks Dreamz or the new Lykke needles.My Sister Knits, local yarn shop, Addi rockets, Addi needles, northern colorado A thoughtful pairing of needle tips with yarn goes a long way to making your project easier and more enjoyable to knit!We have fun helping you find exactly what you need to make your next project and that includes choosing needles so please ask!

The Bias Leaf Cowl - perfect for all knitting levels!

Since My Sister Knits is featuring North Light Fibers' yarn this month and since it is 15% off because we want you to try it and since I love it, I decided to put my other projects on hold and knit up a dear little Bias Leaf cowl to add to our display in the shop.This cowl, designed by highly regarded Norah Gaughan, is a wonderful way to use one skein of Water Street, their cashmere/merino blend.   The pattern is free with purchase of a skein of North Light Fibers yarn!My Sister Knits, lys, local yarn shop, fort collins colorado, bias leaf cowl, norah gaughan, The pattern is well written and uses basic stitches to form the pretty design.  You only need to know how to knit into the back of a stitch, purl two together, and slip a stitch from the left needle to the right.  Easy peasy!There is a chart perfect for those who have never worked from one before with large squares and just a few easy-to-read symbols!“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” H. Stanely JuddThere are certain things I always do to set myself up for success when knitting from a chart.  However, due to the simple chart and the ease of reading it, I thought my normal preparation unnecessary.  Alas, I did not have my knitting road map!As I knit away, I realized that I needed each of my components of successful chart knitting and one by one I added them in.  I would have avoided much frustration if I'd done this at the beginning!First, I use colored pencils to make the chart easy to decipher.  I use one color for knit stitches, one for purl, and one for each of the symbols.  Then I mark the symbols in the key with their corresponding color.  This makes everything stand out and easier for my brain to process.My Sister Knits, Fort Collins, Colorado, how to read a chart, bias leaf cowl, North Light FibersSecond, even if I don't think I need it, I mark where to start the rows of the chart.  Often it's only a note on the side but on this chart I found that it relieved stress if I put an arrow on each row marking the direction of reading the row.Third, I use a piece of highlighter tape to mark where I am on the chart.  I put it above the row I'm working on.  It took some getting used to  but it allows me to see what stitches were worked on the previous row.  Often this lets me know if I'm on track with the pattern.Fourth, I always also mark the row as it's finished because that tape just might fall off!Essentially, I do everything I can to map out my journey with the chart.  Some charts require a bit more even if they're pretty basic like this one.  For instance, I needed to have the empty white squares colored in because I kept knitting them even with the bold red lines marking the pattern repeat.  As you can imagine, that wreaked havoc with the pattern!My Sister Knits, local yarn shop, northern Colorado, North Light Fibers Water Street, chart reading, knitting symbolsUsually I use stitch markers to identify the end of one pattern repeat and the beginning of another but because of the sloped edge, that technique doesn't work with this pattern.  Fortunately there are so few stitches that the markers aren't needed.Each Right Side and Wrong Side row began with a specific set of a few stitches, so I wrote them down at the bottom of the chart to remind me what to do.I kept forgetting to knit into the back loop of one particular stitch so I used yet another color to outline that stitch on the chart.  That drew my attention to the fact that something special was happening there.That is the cautionary tale of my Bias Leaf Cowl!  Just because a pattern is simple doesn't mean that I can forgo my usual preparation that sets me up for success!My Sister Knits, lys, blocking knits, bias leaf cowl, water street yarn, North Light FibersOne last item, this cowl is worked flat and I will use Very Pink's tutorial for how to seam a cast on edge and a bind off edge together.  It's the clearest one I found.Come into the shop and try on this bundle of softness; you won't want to take it off!     

Our Most Important Knitting Tool

You may be pondering about what is your most important knitting tool.  Most of us would come up with a variety of answers.  Knitting needles?  Gauge swatches? Patterns? A handy dandy fix it tool to grab dropped stitches?My Sister Knits, Colorado, knitting ergonomics, most important knitting toolAll of those are important but there is one tool we all have that we tend not to think of.  Our bodies.For if our bodies don't work right we can't knit.  Arms and hands get sore and tired.  Our necks get sore from looking down at our patterns.  Our bodies get stiff if we allow them to sit while we knit for hours.We all want to knit as long as possible and in order to do that we need to take care of our most important tool - ourselves!Carson Demers, a knitter, physical therapist, and ergonomist, has written a book entitled Knitting Comfortably, the Ergonomics of Handknitting.  This highly detailed book is full of essential information to keep our bodies in good shape for years to come.  Change starts with one step.  If you implement one thing that you can do to help your body, you will have taken the first step to knitting comfortably for years!My Sister Knits, Fort Collins, Fort Collins CO, knitting ergonomically, most important knitting toolOne of the basic tenets of the book is to make small changes before there's a need for them because small, almost unnoticeable problems become larger ones before we know it.

Knit on more than one project at a time

This is welcome news for those of us who have more than one project going at once!  This is actually good for your hands!  Carson suggests working on projects that use different yarn weights, different stitches, and different needle sizes to avoid repetitive stress injuries.

Move more

It can be so hard to make yourself stop and get up to move when you're in the flow of your project!  Our bodies need movement so set a timer for every 20 to 30 minutes for a break.  This would be a great time to practice knitting standing up, get a glass of water, or do some stretches.  Possibly all three!  If a timer doesn't sound ideal you could set your break time to coincide with something to do with your pattern.  Are you doing a pattern that repeats itself?  Do you need to knit a certain amount of inches?  Decide on a spot in your knitting that takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to knit and make that your break time.

Protect your back

When we look down at our pattern or our stitches, we put pressure on our spinal discs.  To help avoid this, clip your pattern to a document reader.  You'll notice a difference almost right away!  Another thing to do is practice moving just your eyes, not your neck to look at your knitting.  The more you can do this, the easier it is on your back.My Sister Knits, northern Colorado, ergonomic knitting, most important knitting toolWe've given you three ways to take care of your most important knitting tool!  They are among the multitude of ideas in Carson's book where he goes into the science of why these and others are important.  We'll give you more ideas in the coming months! 

How to Prepare for Knitting a Dream Project!

Today we're going to tell the story of Sally.  Sally is a newish knitter who is totally smitten with all things knitterly.  She loves to sniff and squish yarn, she has her own Ravelry account, she took our Learn to Knit class, and is eager to learn new skills.The other day Sally came into the shop and she saw our Ondawa sample. She was awed by the intricate cables and the textural beauty of this sweater.  She said to herself, "Oh my, if only I could create something this beautiful but I don't even know how to cable!".My Sister Knits, Ondawa, Brooklyn Tweed, Fort Collins, knitting cables, sweater knittingOndawa is Sally's 'later' project.  For now, she needs to start with a something  smaller and simpler, take a class, and come in for Fearless Knitting help to perfect her cabling skills.  She may even look to her favorite online resources for technique tutorials when she can't make it into My Sister Knits.  In addition, Tuesday Knit Nights will provide her with an encouraging group of knitters who will be cheering her on every step of the way.Sally will start with an easy cabling pattern such as the Pollen Hat.  By the time she's finished she'll be cabling with ease, full of confidence in her ability to learn, and her 'later' project will be closer to reality.Pollen Hat, Andrea Mowry, Drea Renee Knits, My Sister Knits, northern ColoradoThe next step on Sally's journey to Ondawa needs to be a bit more complex.  She spied our Cranberry Capelet sample, tried it on, and fell in love with the cable columns that can run either up and down the side or the front.  It depends on how you want to wear it!This is a perfect mid-level project for several reasons:  like Pollen, it's made with worsted weight yarn which will make it easier to see what she's doing and the whole project go faster, it has cables over a larger number of stitches, and there are two easy-to-follow charts that will prepare her for the ones in Ondawa.My Sister Knits, Blue Sky Fibers, Woolstok, Cranberry Capelet, Thea Colman, Baby Cocktails, Colorado, My Sister KnitsWhen Sally finishes her Cranberry Capelet she'll be ready to start her dream sweater!  Her passion for Ondawa and her belief in herself allow her to develop the needed skills quicker than otherwise.  She also knows that there is help and a community of support at the shop.Sally will have prepared herself to make something that wasn't possible in the beginning.  She'll realize it's an amazing feeling to attempt such a feat!Do you have a 'later' project that you dream about?  We'll be delighted to help you find projects like Sally's that will prepare you to create it!

Speckled Yarn and Plainer Yarn; How to Pair Them Successfully

We all have it - one skein of speckled yarn that caught our eye and we just had to make it our own immediately!  It's absolutely perfect!  The delicate base color is dappled with our favorite bolder colors and the whole skein makes us cheerful just looking at it.The problem is what to make with that one skein?  My Sister Knits has the answer for you; make a two-colored shawl!My Sister Knits, Fort Collins, fingering weight shawls, These are three of several two-colored shawls on display in the shop.  They are all splendid patterns to showcase a speckled yarn!"Wait a minute", you say.  "How do I choose a yarn that will go with my dear beloved speckled skein?"  Once again, My Sister Knits comes to the rescue!  Armed with the information below you will become a master at selecting two yarns that play nicely together.Matching the yarn brands is not necessary!First, choose a yarn that is the same weight.  Fingerings go with fingerings, DKs go with DKs, you get the picture!Second, match the plies.  If yours is a single ply, pair it up with another single ply.  If it's plied, pair it with a plied yarn.Third, compare the drape of your beauty and pair it with a skein that has about the same.To do this, hold your speckled skein and the one you're considering in each hand to see what their 'flop factor' is.  The more flop, the drapier the yarn.  It's fun to go around the shop and test yarns, try it!Once you've found a yarn with the weight, ply, and drape that goes well with yours, it's time to choose a color!In the photo above we've paired yarns as examples.  Some are the same yarn line, some aren't.  The top left pair is a skein from tot le matin with one from madelinetosh.  That black has a hint of blue that is gorgeous!  The speckled yarn on the top right is hue loco paired with a tonal from hazel knits.  Look at how those greens match!The middle shelf shows how a speckled yarn can pair well with more than one color.  The speckled and the green are both Hedgehog Fibres while the orange is madelinetosh.The bottom two are both madelinetosh.Bring your speckled darling to the shop and have some fun choosing a playmate for it and an ideal pattern!  There are always plenty of people at the shop to help you with choosing if you so desire!  Staff and customers alike love to chime in on the yarn selection process when asked!We hope to see you and your precious speckled beauty soon!

Fearless Knitting: Ravelry Revelry!

Ravelry is an internet gathering place for fiber enthusiasts where you can find patterns, yarn, inspiration, help, groups, and forums.ravelrylogo81r_20140401_144342_20140401_144344Ravelry is fun, informative and is a treasure when it comes to finding patterns!We discovered this fun and colorful cowl made of chained strands while doing a search for a crocheted cowl.whole-cowl-rtpPerhaps you are wanting to knit with Lemonade yarns and are wondering what types of projects people are making with them.  Ravelry will tell you!more-lemonade-skeins-rtpYou may be planning to make something for a new baby and would like to see what's available.  Ravelry is your answer!baby-things-rtpLike walking into a yarn shop for the first time, Ravelry can be overwhelming with the amount of information available.Join us for our next Fearless Knitting sessions, Thursdays, December 1st & 8th and Saturdays, December 3rd and 10th from 11am until noon to learn how to navigate this invaluable site!We'll start with how to find a pattern and go on to using Ravelry's database to keep track of your projects, yarn and ideas.If you don't have a free Ravelry account, we'll walk you through how to set one up and you'll be ready to delve into this fount of information!We hope to see you in the shop for one of these helpful sessions!

An Excellent Poncho!

Every now and then a project comes along that everyone falls in love with.  It usually is one that looks good on all body types, is easy to knit, and uses a lovely yarn.diana-in-shelteredWe have just such a project in the shop!   It's an intriguingly designed poncho by Andrea Mowry, Sheltered.There's a design choice to be made with this poncho:  hood or cowl neck?  Directions are given for both and that decision can be made at the very end of this project!sheltered-rtpWe highly suggest knitting and blocking a 4" - 6" gauge swatch to ensure your desired fit.  Once that is done and your needle size selected, it's time to cast on!  This poncho is knit in two pieces with just a little bit of mattress stitch at the shoulders.You begin with the lower back, starting with a section of short rows to shape the bottom edge.  Jenny is going to use the Shadow Short Row method which is explained in detail in this tutorial from Cocoknits.  If you aren't comfortable with short rows or mattress stitch, please let us help you.  Jenny is here exclusively to help with your knitting questions from noon until 1 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays.  However, we all are happy to help as time permits during the day!close-up-of-sheltered-rtpThis is a well written pattern that is easy to follow.  The texture on the top of the front and back is made by knitting through the back loop (ktbl).  Andrea has us slipping the first stitch of every row which makes picking up stitches for the hem a breeze.buttons-rtpQuite a few of us have decided that we'd like our sides held closed and are pondering whether to tack them down as suggested in the pattern, use big decorative buttons, or use our Jul Leather Pedestal Button closures that screw on and can be moved from garment to garment.jul-closures-rtpWe'd love you to come in and try on this poncho; you may be as captivated with it as we are!

Build Your Bind Off Knowledge

Bring your bind off questions to our next Fearless Knitting sessions!Would you like to know more about stretchy bind offs?  How about decorative ones?bind-offs-rtpHave you wanted to try an I-Cord bind off or learn how to bind off in pattern?ribbed-bind-off-rtpOur Fearless Knitting technique demonstrations are designed to support knitters of all abilities, with an emphasis on newer knitters.  We encourage everyone to attend, regardless of knitting experience.  Knitters love to cheer each other on and we celebrate each other's successes with glee!mitts-bind-off-rtpWe also love it when you pop into the shop during Fearless Knitting time just to knit and join the community of knitters!pink-and-blue-bind-off-rtpOur Bind Off technique demonstrations will be Thursdays, November 3rd and 10th and Saturdays, November 5th and 12th from 11 - noon.  We offer free knitting help to get you past any tricky parts in a project or answer any question you may have from noon until 1pm those days.rolled-bnd-off-rtpWe hope to see you at our upstairs table!

Wondering How to Precisely Measure a Gauge Swatch?

The yummiest of yarns and a pattern you can't wait to cast on are sitting in front of you.  It's a small project, an accessory that you will love if it turns out to be the size you want.  You are prepared for success; your washed and blocked swatch is ready to be measured.  Good for you!However, you aren't quite sure how to measure it.  We are here to guide you through the process!Gather your materials:  a darning needle, some yarn in a contrasting color, a ruler or metal measuring tape, a piece of paper and a pencil, an object with a pointed tip such as a small needle or Jenny's favorite gadget, a HandiTool.materials-rtpLay your swatch on a flat surface.  Using the darning needle and contrasting yarn, mark off the section you're going to measure.left-side-marked-rtp left-side-with-ruler-rtp both-sides-marker-rtp top-and-bottom-marked-rtpCount the number of stitches between the yarn lines.  Counting the 'v's with a pointed object such as a small needle tip is easiest!Mark the number on the piece of paper you have handy and put it with your swatch.Now there is a tiny bit of math involved.  Divide the number of stitches by the width and you have your stitches per inch! Do the same to calculate your row gauge.In our sample swatch, we have 15 stitches over 3 inches which makes it easy to do the math:  15 divided by 3 = 5 stitches per inch.  For the row gauge, we have 22 rows over 3 inches:  22 divided by 3 = 7.3 rows per inch.Compare your gauge to the pattern's.  If you have fewer than the pattern calls for, try again with a smaller needle.  If you have more stitches, go up in needle size.It's important not to kid yourself at this point.  If you want that hat to be a slouchy one and not a beanie, or the shawl to wrap around your neck with the ends long enough to hang down in front, you need to check your gauge!  Join Jenny for our free Fearless Knitting demonstration of measuring gauge from 11am until noon Thursdays, Oct. 20, 27 and Saturdays, Oct. 22, 29th!  Remember that we also offer free knitting help on those days from noon until 1pm; bring in your questions!

Swatching Saves the Day!

You've just bought the most delicious yarn to make the perfect pattern and you can't wait to cast on!  You have cleared your schedule and have a few precious hours to spend on your beautiful new creation.Then a niggling thought comes to the forefront of your mind.  It gets stronger.  And stronger.  You try to push it away but you know you must pay attention to that thought no matter how hard you fight it.Enter The Swatch.....You say to yourself, "But it's just a hat, it will fit!".   And you remember the hat you made that was smaller than you intended and it looks not-quite-right to you when you put it on.hat-for-swatching-post-rtpOr you might say, "But it's just a shawl, shawls can be any size!".  And you remember the two you made that turned out way too small and you can't wrap them around your neck like you wanted.  Possibly there was also another one that ended up quite a bit larger than you wanted!shawl-for-swatch-post-rtpThen there's the cardigan you made out of that lovely soft yarn.  If you'd swatched, you'd have known that certain yarn grows quite a bit when washed and blocked.  You wouldn't have ended up with a sweater that you can wear over a sweatshirt if the need ever arises!These are all real consequences of not swatching.  Just ask Jenny!So before you start on that amazing project, heave a big sigh, resign yourself, and get out your needles!  If it's truly a project where you don't mind what the finished size is, forge ahead.  Otherwise, swatch!swatches-1-of-3-rtpThe making of a swatch.....Most of the designers and teachers now are suggesting a 6" swatch.  However, if all you can bring yourself to do is a 4" one, then start with that.For our purposes, we're going to assume you will make a stockinette swatch.  Use the needle size called for in the directions.  Your pattern will most likely give you a gauge over 4 inches, some give the number of stitches per inch.  Cast on at least that many plus  about 6 extra stitches.  Those extra stitches are for a 3 stitch garter border at each edge to prevent curling.swatches-2-of-3-rtpFirst, knit a few rows of garter stitch.  Then knit the first and last 3 stitches at each side on every row.  Make it 4" long and knit another few rows of garter and bind off.  Now comes the tedious overnight wait because, for the swatch to do any good, it must be blocked.  When you lay it out to dry, pat it into shape but don't pin it to a certain size.  Let the yarn do what it wants to as it dries.When it's dry, count your stitches over at least 2 inches and do the math to see how close you are to the pattern's gauge.  You may need two or three swatches to get as close as possible to what the pattern calls for.  If you know you're a loose or tight knitter, you may start out using a needle a size larger or smaller than called for in the pattern.swatches-3-of-3-rtpRecently, Jenny swatched Blue Sky Fiber's Woolstok on three sizes of needles  to get the correct gauge for a baby sweater and a baby hat.  Both garments needed to be a certain size so the swatching was necessary even for baby items!  A little bird whispered that she wasn't too happy with all that swatching but she was definitely happy with the result!If you need any help or encouragement with swatching, we're most happy to be of assistance!

Cabling Fearlessly and a Christmas KAL!

It's the time of year when our minds and projects turn to accessories to keep us warm and the upcoming holidays!We have two events to get you going!The first is our next Fearless Knitting topic which is cables! They make you feel so clever and are so much fun to knit but may be intimidating if you're new to them.  Jenny will demonstrate two ways to make cables; one with a cable needle and one without.kniting-with-a-cable-needle-rtp ysolda-cabling-rtpBrooklyn Tweed's yarns are excellent for cabling because of their 'stickiness' and we have three hat suggestions using worsted weight Shelter and bulky weight Quarry that will have you cabling like a pro in no time, with or without a cable needle!bt-hats-from-shelter-and-quarry-rtp gentian-hat-rtpWe have more samples using cables in the shop; you can choose to go on a treasure hunt or ask us to show you!The demonstration dates and practice times are Thursdays, September 22nd and 29th and Saturdays, September 24th and October 1st from 11 to noon.  Please feel free to come to the shop on those days for free knitting help from noon until 1pm!The second event we have is a Knit Along (KAL) featuring Churchmouse's Basic Christmas Stocking pattern to get you in the Christmas spirit!  A KAL is a fun time with everyone making the same thing.  As a bonus, there is support and encouragement as you knit at your own pace.christmas-stockings-rtpWe will knit this charming stocking on Tuesday evenings September 27th, October 4th and 11th starting at 5:30.  Come in and get your materials before the 27th so you'll be ready to cast on right away!

Fearless Knitting: Mattress Stitch Seam

Seaming.  How does that one little word make you feel? Confident?  Or would you rather turn and run from the pattern?Mattress-Stitching-RTPOur goal is to give you what  you need to approach seaming fearlessly!Jenny dug into our archives to find some popular classic patterns that are seamed.  This child's pullover would be a good place to start.Debbie-Bliss-RTPIf you'd like to try your hand at a seamed poncho, this one is timeless!Easy-Folded-Poncho-RTPIf you're really brave and would like to make an adult sweater, here are a few time-tested possibilities!arabella-RTP Breton-RTP Cornice-RTPSeaming, especially when it comes to sweaters, adds structure and prevents stretching.  Strong shoulder seams are particularly important because the weight of the sweater hangs from them.Knitting your sweater in pieces makes it more portable, also! Plus, there's just something magical about watching two pieces come together as you seam them.Our next Fearless Knitting technique demonstration is the Mattress Stitch Seam.  Join Jenny on Thursdays, September 8th and 15th or Saturdays, September 10th and 17th from 11am - noon to gain confidence in this essential seaming technique.  You will have a chance to practice on your own before you leave! As always, Jenny's free knitting help hour is from noon until 1pm those days.We hope to see you and increase your seaming confidence!

'Bibs and Bobs'

In the shop we keep a basket full of small bits of yarn that we call 'bibs and bobs'.  Some are large enough for a small  item, most have only enough yardage to use as a contrast or a sample to practice a technique.  This post is like that basket!bibs-and-bobs-RTPMy Sister Knits' Olympic ChallengeFor those of you who finished the Scelte Cowl, it's time to show us!  You may bring it into the shop or email us a photo at info@mysisterknits.com.  We are eager to see your color combinations!We will put your names into a yarn bowl and draw one to win that yarn bowl plus a 20% off coupon for any one item in the shop.  Please have your cowl or photo into the shop by 5pm Saturday, August 27th. We'll draw a name on Tuesday, August 30th and will notify you if you've won!Kimberly-schelte-cowl-RTPFearless KnittingBlocking!!  Are you unsure of the ins and outs of this all-important finishing technique?  You'll find out why it's so important, how easy it is, why there is stomping involved, and will leave this demonstration confident and eager to block your next project.  You may even find yourself digging an almost finished WIP (Work In Progress) out of hibernation in your excitement to try out your new skill!The dates are Thursdays, August 25th and September 1st and Saturdays, August 27th and September 3rd.  The time is from 11am to noon with knitting help offered from noon until 1pmFearless-Knitting-blocking-Shibui-Square-RTPA cozy space under the eaves!We created a new spot for samples behind the Sock Wall upstairs to make it easy to find what you're looking for.  It's a lovely cozy space; be sure to explore it the next time you're in the shop if you haven't found it already!sample-rack-RTPFun factDid you know that many sheep farmers use llamas to guard their flocks?  Llamas will scare off predators, even kick them if necessary.  They also can become attached to their sheep and take an interest in the lambs when they're born! Guard llamas, who knew?llama-and-sheep-RTP