Posted by: GourmetGirl | September 16, 2014

Yarn and Needles

Newbury Street Jacket with May Lace Scarf

Newbury Street Jacket with May Lace Scarf


What’s your favorite yarn?

Wool? Cotton? Alpaca? Linen? A blend?

And the size? Sport? DK? Worsted? Aran? BULKY!??

Choosing the right yarn for a project can make or break its final outcome. And choosing the size of needles will play a big part, too.

My general feeling about mixing yarn and needles: 1). The smaller the needle size, the happier the final project. 2) Keeping to 100% natural fiber or blend of natural fibers the happier the final project.

Yarn can be a personal choice. Cotton over wool to wear more times in a  year. Or the love of the soft spin of alpaca can win over at other times. Your needle size, however, can make you happier for the final project.

It is easy to obtain roughly the same gauge over 2 or 3 different needle sizes. The smallest needle size will cause your fabric to stretch less. Too tight it becomes rigid and too loose it can be saggy and baggy.thumbnail.aspx

If you can find the patience: knit up 3 swatches with the same yarn using 3 different needle sizes. Block, dry and test the stretch. The time spent on matching up your needle size to your yarn can bring  you happiness with your final project.

Remember your goal: To Wear or Use your Project.

Isn’t that more important than the speed of you finishing?

Experience with choosing the right yarn and needles takes some work. And, even all the work and experience you put into your project does not guarantee you will be In Love with your finial outcome. Too many factors come in to play, like the pattern choice. But, if you do the job right, your stitches will be perfect because you chose the right yarn and needle size.

Happy Knitting Bliss,




Posted by: GourmetGirl | September 9, 2014

Two or Three or Four or MORE!

I am getting in the Mood for a color project.

imagesColor  was my favorite class in college.

I studied Joseph Albers – theFather of Color – and was mesmerized by how colors take on colors that they surround. So, I guess, it is natural that I love to look at the combinations of color with Fair Isle.

Lovebirds-WEB-ONLY01-320x479I remember the first knitting piece I saw with manipulation of color that intrigued me. (An Alice Starmore wrap – I didn’t even know who she was at the time!) The main design color as well as the background changed in color. It was FABULOUS! To the right is one of the more recent designs to come from the Starmores: Lovebirds.

Alice Starmore’s book, Fair Isle Knitting, covers some of that principle in her designs. No surprise then that I enjoy studying her theories of color also. Knitting in-the-round, wrapping the yarns as you work the colors, picking and throwing with speed. These are the techniques to learn. The manipulation of color and design are what I dream about.


100_4491I have worked with multiple colors before. My Fair Hat was a fun project and that hat still is my favorite to wear when the wind is cold and blowing.

I have a design that has been sitting for awhile for a top-down sweater where you do not need to do that dreaded “cutting”. I still think about casting that on to start. I even think about starting a new one with the neutral skeins of alpaca yarn staring at me. I was thinking of a two color caplet or cowl project. Maybe with a solid ribbing to fold over at the top.

What I need to do is go back to my knitting chair and finish the projects already started! Darn that laundry and other distracting stuff!

Happy Dreaming of Knitting With Color,





Posted by: GourmetGirl | September 2, 2014

Children Know MORE

My 15-year-old daughter FINALLY wants to learn how to make clothes!

Sewing. Yes, I am talking about sewing. She seems to think that if she has the desire to make  it – it will happen.Unknown

In theory, I do agree.

Desire plays a LARGE part of making something happen.

However, she wants to be able to skip over the basics. Like setting up the machine and learning to sew a straight line.

I told her, “Let’s start with making a pillowcase for your body pillow on your bed”.

BORING! She wants to make a t-shirt dress. Then a pair of shorts that look like a skirt. AND without thought of material and difficulty. She wants to jump right in and make something to wear!

I remember when I taught her and a friend to knit. Once she got the hang of the knit stitch, she became bored. SURPRISE! She was too young, I thought, to teach her to purl. So, I taught her to slip one, knit one, pass the slip stitch over. And off she went.

Now, because her Momma knits, she did not really want to knit. I still have that 7 inches of a scarf that has “her” pattern stitch. In the back of my mind, I always hope she will finish that scarf.

Knitting, crocheting, or any other type of needlework – needle CRAFT – takes time, experience, PATIENCE.

I am HAPPY that she realizes that if she wants garments that are special (without paying an arm and a leg) there is only one way to obtain them – MAKE THEM YOURSELF. Making your special garments yourself is the way to HAVE special garments.

I am channeling my grandmother now: Patience, Patience, PATIENCE.

My daughter may be starting out on the learning to sew (creating garments) later in life than me. But, I am THRILLED that she is ready to learn! Sometimes, I fear that the needle crafts of making garments is slipping by the way-side. Sure we see it on Fashion Runway. But, what about day-to-day America? When the “Wonderful-World-of-China” is gone, will people go back to making their own clothes?

As I am writing this, she is “googling” knitting machines, watching videos and is delighted in how fast the machine can knit.

Heavy sigh.

Patience. Where is the patience?

Let me know when you find it…..

Happy Knitting and Creating,




Posted by: GourmetGirl | August 26, 2014

Trefoil by the Lake

100_5248I finally had a photo shoot for: Up North at the Lake. To my surprise the water lilies were blooming with an almost identical flower color.

Light weight cotton with a simple looking yoke area. Stockinette then a fabulous finish. I have worn it many times and LOVE it. This a tank that is perfect for wear with jeans, shorts or dress it up with a skirt.

Simple looking, but with some interest. Knitted from the to-down with untraditional methods for a seamless look. The pattern also has custom options for it to work perfect for your body and desires.

Download the pattern Here and create your own version.

Screen shot 2014-08-23 at 10.41.03 AMScreen shot 2014-08-23 at 10.35.16 AMI have also tried a different way to show a schematic. Photos of the front and back of the sweater. Click on the photo for a better view. I like this so much better than a line drawing. It also allows me to give additional explanations of the pattern.

Yes, all the openings are finished with an i-cord bind off. Another LOVE about this sweater!

Happy Knitting,



Posted by: GourmetGirl | August 20, 2014

How Much for Knitting?

UnknownHow much to charge for knitting?

How much is a hand craft worth?

It takes years to develop skill. It takes hours upon hours to knit a garment. Even a simple scarf can take an entire weekend of constant knitting. So, when asked how much you would charge to knit something – how would you respond?

Number One: What is the skill level of the pattern?

Skill Level is HUGE! There is a big difference between knitting in garter or stockinette stitch and a lace pattern. Even a semi-skilled knitter can have troubles when dealing with yarn overs and knit togethers. So, if the skill level is more advanced, do you charge more?

Number Two: What is the weight of the yarn?

It is much quicker to knit a bulky yarn weight item than a lace yarn weight item. Days and Days we are talking!

Number Three: What is the needle size?

How many times have I posted about needle size? When you are knitting for yourself, it IS worth the extra time using smaller needles. But, when knitting for someone else, when they have handed you a pattern, there is a gauge to follow. The piece will take much less time on size 10 than on size 4 knitting needles.

Number Four: Is there a time frame?

Time. Can you knit the piece in a weekend if they want it A.S.A.P.? Or if it will take you multiple days of 5-6 hours of knitting? Can you physically accomplish the task? Even IF you are given a “whenever” time frame, you need to complete the item in a reasonable timeframe.

Conclusion? Unknown-1

If you have somewhat calculated the skill level and hours it MAY take you to complete the knitted piece, you need to add extra time for problems that may arise. Problems, you say? Yes. Quality of yarn. Quality of the written pattern. And those are only a few of the extra time factors that don’t include your personal life.

One more question before I go back to some sort of conclusion: How much would someone pay for the piece in a store? Let’s keep boutiques out of this. The first thing I can think of after the store is: If the yarn quality is high, the person has already paid more for the yarn than a store-bought item!

Too many factors to weigh in to calculate a price for knitting something you do not get to keep and wear? (I could say the same for knitting for a magazine or yarn company – add time for designing and writing the pattern for multiple sizes!)

It reminds me of a time when a woman saw a long lace tunic I knitted. She wanted me to sell it at a local boutique. I responded: It cost me $200 just in the yarn. Which she replied: Add a $100 to that price.

This woman was obviously willing to pay $300 for my lace tunic. I couldn’t even tell you how many hours it took me. And, back then, I was not as skilled of a knitter as I am today.

Depending on the part of the country (I am using the US as a reference here) you live in, an unskilled worker makes around $8 an hour. Less after taxes, insurance, etc. But, let’s use $8 an hour as our starting point. And, let’s use two days as your THINKING of a time frame. (I have a hard time knitting more than 5 or 6 hours day after day.) 12 hours. Let’s use 12 x $8. $96 and why not just round-up to an even $100.

You KNOW it took me longer than 12 hours to knit that lace tunic! So, you charge less for something that took you a weekend to knit? Some companies now pay 15-25 cents a yard. That really isn’t enough to cover minimum wage for unskilled labor.

Why is it that skilled creative labor is so cheep?

I don’t know if there is a RIGHT answer to our conclusion.

Happy finding your OWN conclusion,




Posted by: GourmetGirl | August 12, 2014

Knitting “Off the Rack”

I re-read this post from 2013 and find it “fitting” to re-post. Enjoy!

It is rare for anyone to find a perfect fit off the rack – so why would you “knit off the rack” when you can customize your sweater?

Many knitters veer to the “Top-Down Sweater Side” for this very reason.summer_goddess_300_medium

When I first started having my designs published, I wrote my patterns like I was teaching a class. I would explain the process and give options for the knitter to customize their knitwear. Of course, the publishing world and their tech editors changed my words – took things out and yes, left gaps and errors in their wake. Many times I have sent my original pattern to a confused knitter and I would receive a response back: NOW it makes sense!

I started to shorten my words and eventually started to add Notes and Custom Notes to my patterns. I still defended my stand on armhole depth – I measured store bought sweaters and would tell them my findings. I lost that battle most of the time.

Now that I have decided to jump off the crazy whirling world of main stream publishing, I find myself veering back to leading the knitter to customize their knitwear to their body preferences.

I must admit, some of my patterns are not for the meek, but I help you through the pattern so it does not seem so daunting. Many times, I do not follow “standard” knitting. But, as I recently wrote to an inquiring knitter: Trust the pattern, it will lead you in the right direction.

Most of the knitters that knit my patterns are not “Posters” on Ravelry. So, if you do choose to follow the path of not Knitting off the Rack, don’t worry – you are not alone.

Happy Knitting,thumbnail.aspx


Posted by: GourmetGirl | August 5, 2014

It is All in the Details

I have always been a fan of the phrase: It’s all in the details.
My paternal grandmother was my teacher and I didn’t know how much she taught me until it was too late to ask her questions.
I remember the day she commented that I had gained more patience. I couldn’t believe she thought I had any at all!
Patience is something I believe I need to always be working on, because I feel I lack enough patience.
100_4150Patience is required to obtain detail. Detail in a craft. Details do not happen without patience. Experience in creating details is worth striving for the rest of my lifetime.
In knitting, details can be as simple as rows of even stitches. Beads added. Cables completed. Lace winding and looping in fascinating knots.
Details in knitting, crocheting and sewing is something I am continually working on. I want my wearable art to be State-Fair-Blue-Ribbon-Worthy!
I feel Grandma helped me to strive for the details.
I will continue to remember her patience in the details. Patience in all forms of Art and/or Craft. And patience in life.
It’s all in the details. And I will keep looking……..
Happy Being in the Details,
Posted by: GourmetGirl | July 29, 2014

Knitting Sleeves to Fit YOU

One of the many “standardized” sizes I disagree with is that long sleeves for sweaters should be knit 17 – 18 inches in length.

Yes, if I shove a tape measure up my armpit and measure down to my wrist it is 18 inches. If I knit a sleeve 18 inches it always seems too short. Even with the start of the sleeve an inch or two below my arm pit – 18 inches is too short of a sleeve for me. When I move, the sleeve always seems to move up my arm.

Look closely at all those sweaters displayed in the magazines – have you seen how short some sleeves are on the models? Even the sweaters that are obviously too large for the model (shoulder seam appearing too low on the arm) the sleeve ends above the model’s wrist. Sure some models could have extra long arms for their 5’10”, 105 lb. body. But, a size 38 inch sweater’s sleeves should be long on them – not too short.

Further research on this phenomenon made me run to my closet and start measuring sleeves of store-bought clothes that I liked the sleeve length. I wear extra small to small. The sleeves from the underarm seam to the end tends to run abound 20 inches.

I knit that sweater I was working on 20 inches. It was perfect in length – it never seemed to ride up too short, and it has a nice drape over the ribbing. Yeah!

On my next sweater I didn’t knit my sleeves that long. I was measuring, trying it on, trying it on and trying it on. I figured this sweater must be different. I knit it to 18 inches.  Wearing the finished sweater – THE SLEEVES WERE TOO SHORT!

One of the many things us knitters need to remember when wanting our sweaters to fit well – measure clothes that you own that fit you the way YOU like them and knit to those measurements! Don’t follow the knitting standards. Knit for YOUR body.

Can I repeat that again?

Knit to fit YOUR body. Don’t knit a sleeve 12 inches in circumference if you measure 14 inches. Likewise, don’t knit your sleeve 17 inches if all the sleeves in your closet measure 20 inches. (A tape measure can be your friend.)

Happy Knitting to fit YOU,


Posted by: GourmetGirl | July 22, 2014


I remember my first chart. I was frighted by the large numbers of rows, columns, dashes and blank areas.

It was just knit and purls, but as I stared at the chart with wide eyes, I swallowed and plunged in!Cables

After a bit the chart was not scary at all! It was sooooo much easier to follow than long lines of k3, p1, k3, p1, k6, p1, k3,………..where it was easy to get lost in the written directions.

I could actually SEE the pattern in the chart and find my place with ease!

Of course, I have learned a few “tricks” along the way to make chart reading easier.

My favorite way is to put the chart in a plastic sheet and use a dry erase marker to draw through the row I have just completed. It makes it very easy to see my next row and I don’t have to worry about a bulky magnate board or a bumped bar. When I am finished with the last row I just tissue off the marked through rows and start the chart over!

To the above right is a page I found on Pinterest. It is a great example to show knitted cables and their charts. Note that the symbols for the cable actually leans in the direction the cable is worked. Look and you can visually “see” how you will be working your rows.

SerendipityPractice with a simple chart first. Then before you know it, you will not shy away from more complicated chart like the one pictured to the left!


I urge you to take the chart plunge! It will bring a whole new area of beauty to your knitting skills!

Happy Knitting from Charts,




Posted by: GourmetGirl | July 15, 2014

Art of Knitting Sweaters

Summer is in full swing! It is a perfect time to take a look at your sweater knitting, make a goal and start Knitting!100_4217

The Art of Knitting Sweaters is not for everyone.

Patience, Time and Practice are not qualities every knitter has. But, it is something every knitter can learn to accomplish no matter the skill level.

Patience is needed first of all because it takes many hours to knit even a basic sweater. A garter stitch sweater can be accomplished for the beginning sweater knitter as well as one in stockinette. It takes patience to wait for the outcome of a sweater and patience to improve your skill.



Time is needed to knit a sweater a second and a third time to figure out how it fits YOU the best. That silly tape measure is your sweater’s friend! Why spend all that time knitting a sleeve that is 13 inches wide when your arm is 14 inches around? Many knitters knit without taking the time to measure their own body or measure a garment you already own and love to wear to make sure it will fit well.Thinking you are a 36 does not mean that a 36 inch sweater will fit you. It may be too big. Most knitters knit their sweaters too big. Knitting is a waste of time if you are not aware of what you are knitting or how you need to do to accomplish best results. (See my article on Gauge.)

Practice makes perfect. It also gives you knowledge. Smaller stitches make sweaters that stretch and sag less. Lighter weight yarn in those smaller stitches gives a lighter sweater with drape. Add weight to the yarn and you will add warmth to the sweater. Practice with different yarn and different stitch counts.Put everything you learn together for fantastic sweaters. Continue with these qualities again and again to move on to cables, lace, fair isle, and combinations of techniques.

Work with more Patience, Time and Practice in your knitting and your wardrobe will be blessed with wonderful works of Wearable Art.

Happy Knitting your Art!



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