Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Knitted Toys and Smaller Needle Size

There's a lot written about gauge and tension in relation to knitting which can be quite intimidating to the beginner knitter. Where toys are concerned, the good news is, you don't have to worry too much about gauge and tension except where you want something to be a specific size.

Generally, for toys the most important consideration is to prevent the stuffing from coming out or showing through the knitting. Using a needle size smaller than the one recommended for the size of yarn is the most popular way to achieve a closer knit fabric. There are other factors which can influence the end result of a piece of knitted fabric, for example, how tightly a person holds the yarn, how a person holds their needles and the type of material the needles are made from eg. metal, bamboo, wood, plastic.  

For this experiment I used Naturals Organic Cotton double knitting by Stylecraft who kindly sent me samples. The cotton is washable, has a lovely bounce to it when knitted up and there are 38 gorgeous shades. I particularly love the pretty sample colours and how they worked together: Rosewood (purple), Sage (pale blue) and Bone (white). (The embroidery on the houses is the same yarn and gives a hint of the other lovely shades in the range).

I used my pattern Mini Red Roof Croft House and chose three smaller size needles than the 4mm recommended on the yarn ball band

For each main house colour (seen on the walls) a swatch was made in stocking stitch and the number of stitches and rows were counted.


House Number One...

Even though I'd used a 3.25mm needle the gauge was very similar to the one recommended on the ball band. So the way I knit was influencing the end result. That said the fabric created was great for my toy. I could see a tiny bit of the filling through the garter stitch roof but none through the stocking stitch sections. (Gauge was 22st and 34 rows over 10 cm). House approximately 13 cm wide x 10 cm high.

House number Two...

This was knitted with 3mm needles and turned out slightly smaller than the first (purple) house. (Gauge was 23 stitches and 36 rows). House size approximately 11.5 cm wide x 9 cm high.

House Number 3...

The third house was completed with 2.75mm needles, the result being definitely smaller than my first (purple) house. The white house has the tightest fabric and had the best surface for sewing the embroidered flowers on the front. Finished house size 10 cm x 8 cm.

The size of each house reduced by about 1cm in hight and width each time the needle went down a size.

In summary, a tight fabric is good for toy making. Experiment yourself with a smaller needle size to see how that affects the end result.

Enjoy your knitted toy making!



Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Updated Scallop Mittens


Alternate bands of contrast colour on lacy cuffs. These mittens are knitted flat, suitable for confident beginner knitters. The pattern has been updated with new instructions and knitted in this gorgeous tweedy yarn Highland Heathers from Stylecraft.

Scallop Mittens Pattern is available to download from Ravelry and Etsy.

Knitting Skills 
Cast on, cast off, knit, purl, slip one stitch, pass a stitch over another stitch, bring working yarn forward, make one stitch, knit 2 stitches together, basic seam sewing

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

The Power of Knitting


So happy to have been gifted a copy of
'The Power of Knitting' by Loretta Napoleoni, published by Tarcher Perigee, October 2020.

The title grabbed my attention followed by a curiosity to find out what could this Italian journalist, economist and political analyst have to say about the gentle craft of knitting.

"In a fractured world plagued by anxiety and loneliness, knitting is coming to the rescue of people from all walks of life. Economist and lifelong knitter Loretta Napoleoni unveils the hidden power of the purl and stitch mantra: an essential tool for the survival of our species, a means for women to influence history, a soothing activity to calm us, and a powerful metaphor of life". (Extract from the publishers)

Loretta takes you on a personal journey through her life. Along the way she describes historical, social and political changes with knitting an unlikely and influencing feature. Family, friends and strangers feature in this story of how knitting has influenced Loretta and the people around her.

In a particularly interesting section (Chapter 7 Knitting in the Age of Neuroscience) the author describes discoveries in neuroscience which explain how knitting can be helpful for mental health and wellbeing. She describes the way she coped with personal challenges and over came them with the help of knitting.

There are also 10 knitting patterns included in the book.  As remembrance day is fast approaching the poppy pattern caught my eye. It’s a quick and easy project.

The book is an inspirational, positive read and I recommend it to anyone wishing to learn more about the gentle craft of knitting told from a different, interesting perspective.