Category Archives: Natty Knits Patterns Hints and Tips

Big Owl Pattern – Hints and Tips

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The Big Owl pattern is now available in the Natty Knits Etsy shop and on Ravelry and Craftsy. Big Owl can be knitted as a stuffed toy or as a pajama case. Instructions for both are included in this pattern.

Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your Big Owl pattern.

A Note on Gauge

When knitting toys I always use needles that are a mm size smaller than  recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right but at least knit up some garter stitch using smaller than usual needles, until you get a fabric that you can only see pinpricks of light through.

Yarn Suggestions

I used a variety of different bulky yarns whilst testing the Big Owl pattern. I found that I liked the heathered yarns best, or yarns with two contasting colors twisted together.

More About Short Row Shaping

The Owl pattern uses a technique called Short Row Shaping. This involves turning the knitting around before you’ve knitted to the end of the row, so making the knitted fabric 3 dimensional. However, when you turn the knitting, you leave a small hole. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here.

Gathering End Stitches

If you find that it’s hard to gather together all the end loops on the underside of the Owl’s body, then just pick up every other end loop. The gather will be less lumpy and because you’re using a bulky yarn, there won’t be any gaps.

Buttonholes

The pajama case Big Owl calls for two three-stitch buttonholes. A three-stitch buttonhole can be made over two rows, or one row.

Two Row Buttonhole – I’ve always been drawn to this type of buttonhole. Very simply, the two row button hole involves binding off a certain number of stitches in one row and casting on the same number in the next row. Choose your cast on type in the second row carefully, in my experience it’s best to use a backward loop cast on.

One Row Buttonhole – You can also work a button hole over just one row, this is done with a slip stitch bind off and then a wrap and turn to allow you to cast on stitches going back in the other direction. I found this great video tutorial by JadeFletcherKnits which shows this technique very clearly. It creates a well reinforced button hole which looks better over more than three stitches. A variation on this is Techknitter’s Tulips Buttonhole, which is fiddly, especially if you’re not used to handling a crochet hook, but is really worth the effort.

Sewing Techniques

Garter Mattress Stitch

The seams on the top of the Owl’s head are sewn together using the garter stitch version of a mattress stitch. There is a very clear tutorial for how to do this on the Knitty website here (scroll to the bottom for the garter stitch version) there’s also an excellent description in the Stitch n Bitch books by Debbie Stoller.

Weaving Stitch

The following way is an excellent method for sewing the top and bottom of garter stitch knitting, it leaves a nicely hidden seam. This will be useful when sewing the back seam of the owl’s body.  The basic method involves weaving the yarn in and out so that it goes directly over the existing stitches in the knitting. Here’s a diagram:

The important thing to remember when using this method is not to pull the yarn tight as this will just make a nasty mess. It’s a delicately balanced operation, but simple with practice.

Felt features

How you choose to give your owl eyes is up to you, I’ve used felt or buttons before, but you could also use embroidery or safety eyes.

When I cut eyes from felt I choose a button of the right size and make a stencil by drawing around the button and cutting it out of paper, that way the eyes are usually quite even.

If you have any questions or comments which are not covered either in the pattern or here, please contact me through the NattyKnits Etsy shop and I’ll do my best to help you.

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Winter Flowers – Free Pattern Hints and Tips

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Winter Flowers is a new free Natty Knits pattern, you can find it on the sidebar to the right of this blog.

I chose the name Winter Flowers because these blooms are woolly and robust, they are knitted in sock yarn, which makes them durable too. The flowers are 2.5″ in diameter and have an inner and outer layer which are knitted separately. They are perfect little adornments for bags, hats and other accessories. You can also add a pin to the back of a flower and turn it into a brooch.

Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your pattern.

Yarn Suggestions

Any sock yarn will do for these flowers, but it’s better to use a heather or solid color as a striped yarn is going to look a little strange. Then again, strange might be just what you want! I love Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn because of all the great solid color choices and it’s affordable too.

More About Short Row Shaping

The Winter Flowers pattern uses a technique called short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post about short row shaping, with lots of photos just here.

Short rows in stockinette stitch can be tricky, if you find you have an uneven finish on your flowers, try adjusting the tension of the work before you sew it together.

Thinking Sideways

Winter Flowers are knitted sideways, which means that you won’t see a petal shape until you’ve knitted enough so that your knitting will start to fold back on itself. When it does, it will look like this:

petal in progress

Fake Grafting

To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the back of the body, use fake grafting. Lay one stockinette stitch piece above the other. Notice how each stitch forms a V shape. You make the seam by sewing Vs between the top and bottom pieces.

Sew from back to front through the middle of a V in the bottom piece. Then sew behind both arms of the corresponding V in the top piece and then from front to back into the original V.

Pull the yarn gently until your two stitches form a sewn V that matches the size of the knitted Vs.

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Snake Maker – Hints and Tips

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The Snake Maker pattern (previously published in Knit Now magazine) is now available from Ravelry and in the Etsy shop.

The Snake Maker allows the knitter to knit a snake to their own specifications. It includes a tail, head, tongue and left and right coiling sections. These right and left leaning sections can be knitted in different orders to create different kinds of snakes, a coiled snake, a sidewinder snake or even a straight snake, all in the same pattern. Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best results.

A Note on Gauge

When I knit toys I always use needles that are one or two sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right, but you can check it by holding your garter stitch fabric up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.

More About Short Row Shaping

The Snake Maker pattern uses a technique called short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post about short row shaping, with lots of photos just here.

Short rows in stockinette stitch can be tricky, if you find you have an uneven finish on your Snake, try adjusting the tension of the work before you sew it together.

I-Cord

The tail begins with some I-cord, this is a way to knit 3 stitches in the round on 2 dpns. There are many great tutorials about i-cord on the internet, my favorite two are Knitting Help, for their no-nonsense videos http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/knitting-tips and PurlBee for her great photography http://www.purlbee.com/i-cord-tutorial/. (Meanwhile I have added i-cord to the list of things I must blog a tutorial for.)

SSSK?

That’s right, as though an SSK were not torture enough, I added another stitch into the mix. Do not be scared of this maneuver!  You only have to do it twice and the snake’s eyes can cover any unsightly stitches when you sew them on later. Remember to slip the first two stitches knitwise and the third one purlwise . If you feel that the stitch is too uneven try purling the resulting stitch through the back loop in the next row.

Stuffing

Stuff your snake as you sew up the seam in the body. This will give you a chance to get the stuffing even without trying to stuff around the coils. There’s a popular blog entry about stuffing just here, which may also help.

Mattress Stitch

The snake’s body is sewn together with mattress stitch. This is an often used seaming technique for the sides of stockinette stitch and another one that Knitting Help explains really well.

If you have any more questions about this pattern, please contact me through the blog, Etsy shop or Ravelry.

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Whale Pattern – Hints and Tips

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The Natty Knits Whale pattern is now finished and available to buy from EtsyRavelry and will soon be on Knit Picks too. The Whale is good knit for an intermediate knitter and has lots of fun and interesting techniques like Kitchener Stitch, Provisional Cast On, 3 Needle Bind Off and of course Short Row Shaping.

Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your pattern.

A Note on Gauge

When I knit toys I always use needles that are one or two sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right, but you can check it by knitting a garter stitch swatch and holding it up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.

Yarn Suggestions

The Whale pictured above is knitted in Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Twilight, I also thinks this pattern works well with Patons Canadiana.  My first whales were knitted in gray, but I think the blue looks better.

Provisional Cast On

Just as there are many ways to cast on, there are many ways to provisionally cast on. You can find some provisional cast on methods here on the excellent knittinghelp.com. I use a long tail provisional cast on, this is how it’s done. Hold the provisional and working yarn ends in the right hand against the needle. Loop the provisional yarn around your thumb and working yarn around your finger, as shown below where the black yarn is provisional. Then cast on as you would for an ordinary long tail cast on.

prov CO for blog

When you unpick the provisional cast on, turn the tail upside down, pick up the stitches starting from the cast on tail and go right. Pick up each st from front to back, unpicking the provisional yarn as you go. When you start to knit, your first stitch will actually be the last stitch you picked up.

More About Short Row Shaping

This pattern uses two rows of short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here. In that last tail bind off row, I would suggest picking the loop up onto the needle to make it easier to purl it together with the stitch above it and the corresponding stitch on the other needle.

3 Needle Bind Off

The 3 Needle Bind Off is a great way of making a secure and neat seam, it works very well as a seaming method for the shoulders for sweaters, although it does create a ridge on the side of the fabric facing you. Unusually, the ridge is on the outside of the Whale’s tail at the end of the fin.

Take the two needles with stitches on them and hold them next to one another in your left hand, knit together two stitches, one from each needle and then when you have two stitches on the right hand needle cast off as you would normally by leapfrogging the first stitch over the second.

Here‘s a really clear video tutorial from knittinghelp.com, scroll down to the bottom for the video of the 3 needle bind off.

Kitchener Stitch

Kitchener stitch is most often used to sew the toes of top down socks. It’s an invisible sewing technique which creates a fake row of stitches between the two pieces being sewn together. I’ve written a tutorial about Kitchener Stitch, you’ll find it here.

Mouth Seam

There is only one sewn seam in this pattern, but it is a tricky one. You will need to use mattress stitch for the top lip and fake grafting for the bottom lip. There are 15 sideways top lip stitches and 16 bound off bottom lip stitches and to be sewn together. I’ve sewn one row per stitch, that means one “ladder rung” per stitch, except for the middle Kitchener stitch row which I sewed through both ladder rungs.

If you have any questions or comments which are not covered either in the pattern or here, please contact me through the NattyKnits Etsy shop and I’ll do my best to help you.

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Tiny Santa and Christmas Fairy Hints and Tips

The Tiny Santa and Christmas Fairy pattern is finally finished and is available in the Natty Knits Etsy shop, on Ravelry and as part of the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program. Instructions for both Santa and the Fairy are included in the same pattern. These little figures are only 3″ tall and intended to be used as tree decorations, although you could easily make them without the loops and use them as stocking stuffers.

Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your pattern.

A Note on Gauge

When I knit toys I always use needles that are one or two sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right, but you can check it by knitting a garter stitch swatch and holding it up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.

Yarn Suggestions

An acrylic baby dk works very well for this pattern. I suggest either Berrocco Comfort Baby or Sirdar Snuggly because they come in lots of great colors. Try to avoid using a wool yarn, it will lack stitch definition and make it harder to knit. I have knitted a fairy in a nylon fingering weight yarn with 2.5mm needles, it worked well, although it was very fiddly. I have also knitted both Santa and the Fairy in Knit Picks Shine Sport, a lovely cotton blend yarn with a delicate sheen. The photo below shows the fairy knitted in Vanna Glamour fingering weight yarn on the left and Knit Picks Shine Sport on the right.

More About Short Row Shaping

This pattern uses a technique called short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here.

Repeats

The repeats in the To Knit Body section are repeats of the first set of instructions, but with added stitch markers. Repeat 1, will actually be the second time you knit rows 1-6.

Pick Up Stitches

The Santa and Fairy pattern contains a lot of instructions to pick up stitches. As with any stitch pick up, the needle is pushed from front to back through one of the holes in the knitting, then the yarn is looped around the needle and pulled back through the hole. If you’ve never picked up stitches through the center of fabric before, take a look at this tutorial.

How to PM Between Stitches

In this pattern, markers are placed to show where to pick up stitches for the arms and legs. The markers go between stitches and they stay static in the knitting. When you place a marker it looks like this:

I always prefer to use a scrap of yarn as a marker because it won’t pull the knitting out of shape and it’s easy to remove. You can find more information about static stitch markers here.

Three Needle Join

I love an interesting new technique and I love to put these in my patterns. The three needle join is a great idea and it saves on sewing. Here’s a full tutorial for the three needle join.

Sewing Techniques

There is only one seam in this pattern, however it is a tricky seam. The seam begins with the weaving stitch for sewing together the cast on and bind off edges of garter stitch. Then it switches to fake grafting for sewing together the cast on and bind off edges of stockinette stitch. Here’s how to use both techniques:

Weaving Stitch

To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the underside of the body, use the weaving stitch. Lay one piece of garter stitch fabric above another. Notice that each row has linked upper and lower loops. Sew through the upper loops on the bottom piece and the lower loops on the top piece, as shown below. You are creating sewn stitches over existing loops.

The tension of your sewing needs to be just right, neither too tight nor too loose. As you practice this stitch it becomes easier to judge the tension and make an invisible seam.

Fake Grafting

To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the back of the body, use fake grafting. Lay one stockinette stitch piece above the other. Notice how each stitch forms a V shape. You make the seam by sewing Vs between the top and bottom pieces.

Sew from back to front through the middle of a V in the bottom piece. Then sew behind both arms of the corresponding V in the top piece and then from front to back into the original V.

Pull the yarn gently until your two stitches form a sewn V that matches the size of the knitted Vs.

Facial Features

There is very little space to be creative with facial features. I’ve found that the best way to make the features is to keep it simple and use half a knitted stitch width for each sewn stitch (as shown below). Some knitters prefer to sew on features before they close the top of the head, although I prefer to close the head first, so I can make sure everything is symmetrical.

If you have any questions or comments which are not covered either in the pattern or here, please contact me through the NattyKnits Etsy shop and I’ll do my best to help you.

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Snake Maker – Hints and Tips

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The newest Natty Knits Pattern “Snake Maker” is in Knit Now magazine, available from all good newsagents in the UK.

The Snake Maker allows the knitter to knit a snake to their own specifications. It includes a tail, head, tongue and left and right leaning sections. It’s actually a pretty easy pattern, but here are some hints and tips to help you get the best results.

A Note on Gauge

When I knit toys I always use needles that are one or two sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right, but you can check it by holding your garter stitch fabric up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.

More About Short Row Shaping

The Snake Maker pattern uses a technique called short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post about short row shaping, with lots of photos just here.

Short rows in stockinette stitch can be tricky, if you find you have an uneven finish on your Snake, try adjusting the tension of the work before you sew it together.

Snake Making Formulas

Knit a coiled snake by repeating the left coiling section, so that the sewn seam will be on the inside of the coils. Ten sections will make one complete coil. For larger coils, knit two rows in stockinette stitch between each section. This Python was knitted with 27 sections!

Knit a straight snake by knitting in the round all the way through. Knit to Rnd 31, of the tail, M1L at the start of the next rnd, make the snake body as long or as short as you like, then begin the head at Rnd 1.

Knit an S-shaped snake with this formula: Tail, 6 x left coil, 6 x right coil, Head. Experiment with your own combinations of left and right coiling sections.

The Snake Maker pattern will be available to buy from the Natty Knits Etsy shop and Ravelry in March 2013.

 

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Robot Pattern – Hints and Tips

The Robot pattern is finally finished and is available in the Natty Knits Etsy shop and on Ravelry. It will soon be part of the Knit Picks Independent Designers Program.

Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your pattern.

A Note on Gauge

When I knit toys I always use needles that are one or two sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right, but you can check it by knitting a garter stitch swatch and holding it up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.

Yarn Suggestions

I used Patons Canadiana for most of the Robots I knitted, it is 100% acrylic and comes in an impressive array of colors. I’ve also knitted some Robots in Knit Picks Brava Worsted, which is very similar to Canadiana.

More About Short Row Shaping

The Robot pattern uses a technique called short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here.

Repeats

The repeats in the To Knit Body section are repeats of the first set of instructions, but with added stitch markers. Repeat 1, will actually be the second time you knit rows 1-10.

Pick Up Stitches

The Robot pattern contains a number of places where stitches are picked up through sideways stockinette stitch. As with any stitch pick up, the needle is pushed from front to back through one of the holes in the knitting, then the yarn is looped around the needle and pulled back through the hole. Pick up stitches through the center of a stitch. All the pick ups in the Robot pattern are made in every other stitch of the sideways stockinette stitch.

When you make pick ups through the foot for the legs, check that you are picking up stitches through the same column of stitches on each foot. This will keep your Robot symmetrical and help him to stand up.

How to PM Between Stitches

In this pattern, markers are placed to show where to pick up stitches for the arms. The markers go between stitches and they stay static in the knitting. When you place a marker it looks like this:

I always prefer to use a scrap of yarn as a marker because it won’t pull the knitting out of shape and it’s easy to remove. You can find more information about static stitch markers here.

3 Needle Bind Off Grafting

The arms and legs of the Robot are attached to the body using an unusual technique. I call it 3 Needle Bind Off Grafting. I wrote about it in depth in this blog post, which has lots of good photos.

Stuffing and Standing Up

Don’t overstuff your robot, the more squishy his stuffing is, the more likely he is to be able to stand alone. Too much stuffing will make the bottom of his feet too round or make his body too heavy to support on his legs.

Sewing Techniques

The only sewing in the Robot pattern is one seam in the body and each hand and foot. However it is a tricky seam. Each seam begins with the weaving stitch for sewing together the cast on and bind off edges of garter stitch. Then the seams switch to fake grafting for sewing together the cast on and bind off edges of stockinette stitch. Here’s how to use both techniques:

Weaving Stitch

To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the underside of the feet, hands or body, use the weaving stitch. Lay one piece of garter stitch fabric above another. Notice that each row has linked upper and lower loops. Sew through the upper loops on the bottom piece and the lower loops on the top piece, as shown below. You are creating sewn stitches over existing loops.

The tension of your sewing needs to be just right, neither too tight nor too loose. As you practice this stitch it becomes easier to judge the tension and make an invisible seam.

Fake Grafting

Lay one stockinette stitch piece above the other. Notice how each stitch forms a V shape. You make the seam by sewing Vs between the top and bottom pieces.

Sew from back to front through the middle of a V in the bottom piece. Then sew behind both arms of the corresponding V in the top piece and then from front to back into the original V.

Pull the yarn gently until your two stitches form a sewn V that matches the size of the knitted Vs.

Facial Features

One of the great things about knitting a Robot is customizing the face. There are many iconic robots in popular culture and as you can see from the photo below, it’s very easy to suggest a type of robot with just some felt features.

It would also be easy to modify this pattern to add an i-cord antenna or a control panel for the tummy, knitted using intarsia color work.

If you have any questions or comments which are not covered either in the pattern or here, please contact me through the NattyKnits Etsy shop and I’ll do my best to help you.

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