Short Rows without wraps | Knit the Turn | kt2

I am a bit infatuated with Schoppelwolle’s Crazy Zauberballs and I’ve used them again for my pattern, Carol’s Frequency – available on Ravelry.

Some of my previous patterns like Vera and Night Flier have used typical short row techniques but I found them cumbersome and finicky.

I wanted to reduce the number of pauses and still be able to maintain color-shifting modular properties that I had such great results with in my patterns: Carrie and Christine which also feature Crazy Zauberballs. I played with my short rows and finally came up with a way to create short rows very simply without wrapping at each turn.

After creating my first Carol’s Frequency shawl I decided to write the pattern and, of course,  include a detailed description of how to implement the technique I had used. I assumed that the technique must already exist but could not find any illustrations, videos or instructions describing it that I could link within the pattern.

The “Knit the Turn” is very similar to Japanese short rows but without requiring a collection of pins marking each turning point. Because Carol’s Frequency requires a number of turning points for every wave, a multitude of pins would have made these short rows more laborious.

Below are the instructions for “Knit the Turn” and these can be used for any short row project involving garter stitch. I hope this technique relieves some of the headache that can come with short rows. It sure made my life easier while creating Carol’s Frequency.

Knit The Turn (kt2)

Approach: at each turning point you will simply turn your work without wrapping. It is imperative that your first stitch on the return row will be slipped knit wise with the yarn in back of the work. That way, when you return to the turning point, it will resemble the illustration below:

Step 1: with R needle, pick up yarn strand running from the last stitch worked to the next stitch at the front of the work. (see below)

Step 2: place the yarn strand on the left needle. (see below)

 

Step 3: insert right needle through the picked up yarn strand and the turning point stitch and knit together like a SSK. (left leaning)

NOTE: Illustration incorrectly shows picked up yarn behind turning point stitch. Obviously this strand will be in front.  (see below)

Completed Kt2: short row complete with no need to wrap and turn. Continue working across row with no noticeable gap. (See below)

Here is an example of the finished short rows. There are many short rows worked in each wave of this pattern using the Knit the Turn method illustrated above.

Still need some help? Check out this video tutorial:

 

 

 

Mastering Crochet the slow and steady way.

I had the most inspiring day today. I am giddy with pride and excitement.

I’ve hosted a monthly knitting/crochet group for a local service organization for the last year or two. In that time I’ve offered a few tips and gotten a few newbies started with either knitting or crochet and I love every minute of it. I love the camaraderie that happens when you get a group of yarn-lovers together to share their knowledge or show-off their WIPs (work in progress) with pride.

I love that I can encourage and motivate others to embrace this passion of mine.

Sometimes I am so busy jumping from student to student that I barely get time to chat. Other times like today I get to work one-on-one with a longtime student and finally help her break through a barrier.

My good friend, Sara Nantz, has been a consistent face at Knit Wits for the better part of a year now but has not been able to graduate from a basic single crochet swatch. At first her 10 stitch swatch would loose stitches on each row. Then she been to gain stitches and I could tell that although she wanted desperately to learn, she really struggled with her stitch count and turning properly after each row.

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I tried everything. I explained how to count her chains from the hook in order to find the starting stitch. I showed her the little “bumper” that appeared at the end of each row that would tell her to stop. Nothing was working. I was grateful that she kept coming back to the club but unsure how to help her past her hurdle.

Then it happened. She showed up at Knit Wits today with her starter project in hand. 4 inches of beautiful, consistent, and STRAIGHT crochet fabric. I was (sorry Sara) shocked. Completely flabbergasted and secretly dancing inside myself with excitement.

I thought I had better get this lady started on her first actual project before something happened and the magic wore off. She decided on a cowl in a beautiful deep purple and I wondered if I dare explain a double crochet. I knew it would make her piece softer and help her feel that addictive sense of accomplishment faster. After spending the better part of a year teaching her how to get 4 inches of single crochet straight would I overwhelm her and jinx the whole thing?

I decided to give it a shot. I showed her the double crochet over 3-4 stitches and then handed over the yarn and hook. A few “oh, don’t forget to wrap first” and “through the work and then through 2” comments during the first 3 stitches and she finished the entire row herself. I held my breath and watched her turn chaining two like I had explained, turning the work like the page of a book so she could count her chains and find her starting stitch for the way back and insert that hook exactly where it belonged. SHE DID IT!

Then I asked her if she wanted to work her cowl as a long rectangle and then sew it together or if she would rather avoid turning each row by working it as one long and (almost) endless loop. Can you believe she told me she wanted to keep practicing turning and she thought she should do it the “hard” way so she could make sure to learn it properly? I THINK I LOVE THIS WOMAN!

Today I feel like a Momma Bird who watched her little baby fly for the first time. It took her monthly visits for over a year and while other students came, mastered the swatch test and moved on to numerous project by now while she still had the original mustard-yellow swatch with wavy edges that she kept working relentlessly. I am so glad she never gave up. I’m so glad she kept coming back. I not only gained a success-story but I gained a friend.

3 Best Yarns for Beginning Knitters

When I first started knitting, I would never think of putting a ball of yarn in my basket if it cost more than $5. Red Heart, I Love This Yarn (Hobby Lobby) and Loops and Thread’s Impeccable (Michaels) was all I used. Most of the time I didn’t even buy them unless there was a sale. I even bought old sweaters or blankets at the thrift store or goodwill just to rip them out and re-use the yarn. I know – that was a little extreme I’m not suggesting you do that.

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But I do suggest to all my new students that they start with these three yarns for two reasons:

1) They are not a big investment. Before you decide if you will love knitting (you will) stick to the $5/skein yarn instead of the $30/skein stuff.

2) It is so much easier to learn on plain yarn than fuzzy, ribbon, mohair, or any other novelty yarn. Please just don’t do it.

If you ask me to make you a large blanket I will still turn to Michaels for Impeccable yarn. Priced at $3.49 for 4.5 ounces, it has a nice color selection, it isn’t too rough for a baby blanket, and once in a while there is a sale that makes it ridiculously cheap.

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Michaels’s customer service has impressed me as well. My Sister-in-law once offered to shop for me while I was in Korea. I sent her the colors and she filled up her cart. The cashier commented that she must have a big project. When she explained that it was actually for me stationed overseas with my Soldier, the cashier offered to take 20% off as a Military Discount. I suppose that would’ve been a pretty elaborate story for 20% off if it hadn’t been true but the cashier had no proof of that. She didn’t need to make that offer. That’s the kind of service that keeps customers coming back. And the yarn is great too.

Hobby Lobby’s brand, “I love this yarn/cotton” is a very nice budget yarn as well. You will pay $3.66 for a 7oz skein. It will work very well for first projects. It has a nice feel and is easy to work with both on the needles and on the budget.

Red Heart Super Saver is a great “learning yarn” I wouldn’t choose it for that gorgeous sweater I saw on Pinterest. But I would use it to practice a new technique, cast-on, or pattern. Some say it can be scratchy. It can. For a baby blanket or other item that might be cuddled with or held up to a chubby cheek, I would pick the other two. But for most other items (mitts, dog sweater, hat, novelty items) a trip through the wash and Red Heart is almost as cozy as the others. Plus paying just $4.29 for a 7oz skein gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside too.

Remember – you will not want to show off your first projects. You really won’t. You’re just learning and making plenty of mistakes. Your stitches won’t be consistent and you shouldn’t be focused on making them consistent yet. Just knit. Just crochet. All of that perfection comes with time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pull back your crochet or tink (un-knit) your knitting to fix mistakes and learn to do it right. If you are going to take the time to learn this craft you should strive to do it right. But if you focus on perfection you will drive yourself mad. When starting out – just focus on learning and developing. Use the cheap yarn and enjoy the process. Make a few mistakes. Finish a piece and master a new technique and then laugh at the hideous neon-green yarn you picked. I did. Then throw it out (it cost all of $5) and start again with a nicer yarn the next time. Your taste in yarn will grow along with your confidence in your abilities. Until then – remember everyone has those first projects they aren’t proud of. EVERYONE. And if you are going to chuck it later. I would much rather it be Red Heart at $5/skein than Wollmeise at 44 Euros!!

My first blanket mid-way through the stitch-together process. Lovely huh?

 

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And what’s on my needles 5 years later.

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How to Save a Fortune on Bavaria’s 2 Best Wools.

I don’t think I realized how popular knitting was in Germany until I landed here and saw people knitting EVERYWHERE. To the dismay of a German friend of mine, her daughter even has knitting and crochet (stricken und häckeln) class in grade school. Unfortunately the handcraft didn’t come easy for her 9-year-old. But the school insists that grades be given for this class regardless of natural ability. Do the US schools even have Home Economics classes anymore? With Germany being the knitting mecca that it is and everybody learning how to do it as part of their grade-school curriculum, it is no surprise that Germany was where I finally broke into the world of high-quality yarn.

I am a big fan of German designer, Martina Behm and her designs feature Wollmeise yarns predominately. It now takes me just 85 minutes to drive to the Wollmeise Brick and Mortar location in Pfaffenhofen Germany.

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I spoiled myself bringing home my first hank of Wollmeise. No other light-weight yarn will ever compare to their high quality and vibrant colors. And it should be said that the only Wollmeise I’ve had the privilege of knitting has been their discards. Those hanks they feel are not high enough quality to be sold at their store or online but were instead picked-up at their bi-annual sale. They put them out each spring and fall at a local church down the street at a considerable discount. Their typical prices go from 100g of twin at 21,50 Euros to 300g of lace at 44 Euros. That’s $50 USD as of today.

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I got most of my Wollmeise yarn for half or two-thirds that price at their Spring/Fall sales. So I’m not even raving about the “good stuff!” I’m raving about their clearance yarn that they can’t sell for full price! Want to join in the action? Click Here for more information about their next sale days and make sure you are there early as some of their best colors sell-out fast.

Wollmeise Spring Sale - Knit Wits on location.

I discovered Schoppel Wolle after picking up a Crazy Zauberball at a craft market in my town. After a bit of Friday afternoon research, I discovered that their factory and outlet was located only 90 minutes away in Wallhausen Germany just south of Nürnberg. That Saturday I was creatively figuring out how to make the trip with my 9-year-old. I may or may-not have promised a trip to the Lego Store in return.

I found their clearance area which is full of balls which aren’t quite 100g and perfect for my thrifty nature.

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Take this Zauberball for example. 100g for 10 Euros on their shelf. I found the same color way in their clearance area for 189g for 5,67 Euros. The only difference? The clearance balls didn’t quite make 100g. Maybe there is one ball of 90 grams instead of 100g. In this case I think there are two 90g balls. Perfect for me since my Christine and Carrie shawls typically take just short of 100g.

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I don’t expect anyone stateside to make a special trip to Bavaria just to go yarn shopping but if you were ever coming for Octoberfest or the Nürnberg Christmas Markets anyway – it would be a great way to stock up on fabulous yarns at a fraction of the cost.

For knitters who are already anywhere close-by you MUST VISIT these sales. Just don’t bring your husband!

Unlike Wollmeise, who specializes in amazing colors in mostly light weights, Schoppel has a large variety of weights and colors and most are available at a discount in their sale area.

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I love their Crazy Zauberball the most. Not only does the color veriagate through the ball but it is a two ply yarn and BOTH plys veriagate independently which makes the most beautiful effect.

I chose this Crazy Zauberball for my first Entrelac pattern: Christine. I picked up dozens of Zauberballs on my first trip to the outlet but discovered that the Crazy Zauberball truly is the best!

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The regular Zauberball below has a great color change but both plys of the yarn change color together.

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What makes the Crazy Zauberball so special is that both plys change color independently. It creates a multitude of shades that was the perfect yarn for these entrelac patterns.

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Unfortunately there are limited ways for me to get my hands on these two brands that have become my staples. I can’t get them at Michaels or Hobby Lobby and Local Yarn Stores stateside won’t have them either. I’m glad they aren’t heavy as I plan to stock up before going home. I don’t think I could live in a world without Wollmeise or Schoppel-Wolle and frankly I don’t think you should have to either!!

TBT – Prevent twisted stitches when you are an odd duck

Throwback Thursday:

Twisted Sister – Good, Twisted Stitches, Bad.

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My grandmother used to make us grand-kids the most adorable sweaters. The pattern she used was: “Quick-to-Knit” Animal Vests 3 by Leasure Arts – Leaflet #710 for $3.25 Canadian. I still have the original pattern although it is falling apart. Thank god I don’t have an old photo of us. No ideas Sherrie and Becky!

I begged my mom for that pattern because I wanted to make a cute animal vest for my son and I knew that the pattern was fairly simple. I figured it would make a perfect first project. It really did. It even taught me a great lesson in the importance of how stitches sit on the needle.

Check out these pics: See the difference in the fabric? The bottom half has twisted stitches. The top half is after I figured out what was wrong:

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If you watch the video you’ll see that it took me the entire back side and half of the front to realize that I was twisting every other row of stitches. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Every direction I read told me that to make a knit stitch I had to insert my needle to the left of the yarn at the front of the stitch. So I did. And my stitches twisted. What on earth!!

Check out the way Knitting.about.com explains the knit stitch and the photo they use. Maybe I went there for advice. Who knows. But I didn’t realize that my problems was actually not only the way I knit my stitches but the way I purled them.

I’m odd. My purl stitches are odd. I’m OK with that and you can be too. Maybe your purl stitch is normal but your knit stitch just doesn’t want to sit in its seat properly. My video above will show you how to adjust your knitting so you don’t have to adjust your purling (or vice versa) just give it a watch.

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See the photo above? It is hard to see that your stitches are “seated” wonky if they are on your needle but pretend the stitch markers on my pencil are the stitches on your knitting. The blue markers are the way stitches are “supposed” to be seated. Or at least they are the way that most patterns expect the stitches should be on the needle when they are trying to write directions for you. The yarn “should” come up the front of the needle from the right and then back down the back of the needle to the left. The purple markers are the way my stitches sit after I’ve purled them. They come up the back of the needle and down the front of the needle to the left. As usual – I just have to be different.

After I realized what was happening with my knitting I adjusted. I have to be aware of my oddity because my knit stitches seat properly it is only my purl stitches that sit wonky on the needle. So as I’m working I’m always aware of how each stitch is sitting as I approach it. If the yarn that’s coming in from the right goes up the back of the needle, I make sure to put the “back” yarn on the right side of my needle as I insert it. If the yarn that is coming in from the right is at the front of my needle, I can make a “normal” knit stitch by putting my needle in with the front yarn to the right of my needle.

At first it took a lot of thought but now it is second nature. I could have changed the way I purled so that all my stitches were seated “properly” but like I said, “I just have to be different.” and I like the way I purl. It is fast. It is comfortable and it is easier for me to adjust the way I think about my knitting than it is to change the physical movements required to make each purl.

Normal (Left) and Twisted (Right) stitches:

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Tuesday Tea Time – Loose Leaf v. Sachet

Tea Time – June 21, 2016

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4 years ago I discovered Harney & Son’s Hot Cinnamon Spice (purchased at Barnes & Noble café) and I have never been without it since. Living overseas it has been a bit of a challenge to find my favorite brew but I have Amazon.com to help me out.

The tea snob within me wants loose leaf tea only. I’ve tried the tea bags and the sachets but I only want the GOOD STUFF. Last month I couldn’t find loose leaf that would ship to me so I ordered a big bag of 50 sachets.

I have a touch of loose leaf left so I have conducted a little experiment to see if loose leaf is really better than sachets.

Here we go…

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Same mug, same amount of cream, same amount of Truvia, same Culligan water boiled in the same kettle. The only difference – the tea.

Timer set for 4 minutes!

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Add the cream and Truvia (ssshhh don’t tell my Doctor – I’m supposed to be avoiding artificial sweeteners)

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They LOOK the same.

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The taste:  He stole the sachet tea!! He guessed right away that the tea he liked was the sachet tea. I said, “Why do you think that?” and he (can’t get anything by this guy) said, “It’s fresher.” Good point!

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Conclusion: The sachet tea is fresher. Must complete experiment again with tea of equal freshness. (good excuse to refill my future tea reserves)

 

Tuesday Tea Time

Tea Time – June 10, 2016

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Today’s tea is English Westminster from Tee Gschwendner in Nürnberg.

The Buy

We stumbled upon this shop on a stroll back to the train station at Königstraße 45.

Luckily my family enjoys the occasional “cuppa” so they didn’t mind stopping to sniff a few blends and show me what they thought I should get. I was a little low on my black tea supply and knew that there were only a few grams of English Breakfast left. I decided to give English Westminster a try instead.

The store provides me a typical paper bag but the label is removable and came off very nicely. As you can see, I was able to easily transfer it to this Tea Purple jar I had leftover from South Korea. Of course, I realize that a clear glass jar isn’t the optimal storage solution for your tea investment but I don’t plan to have this in stock for long.

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The store offered me a free sample of another chai tea I was interested in. I haven’t tried it yet but it was nice to have a small sampler to take home even though I was not making a huge purchase. The store owner spoke great English and offered me a free plastic teaspoon (in the photo) with my minuscule 50g tea purchase. It was a nice experience! I also tried one of their tea-infused candies and they were yummy!

THE TEA

The tea is basically English Breakfast. A little milder if anything. I drank it on the run and almost forgot I wasn’t drinking English Breakfast. Very smooth. Little to no bitterness (4 minute steep) and no after taste. I will be getting more.

The rating

Very nice quality tea. I give it an 8.2/10 because it is so similar to English Breakfast that I may as well have had the original.

 

 

June 18th is World Wide Knit in Public Day

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This year especially I am looking forward to World Wide Knit in Public day on June 18th. I have felt so much love and support since I launched YellowRibbonCrafts.com  I never imagined that living my authentic life could be this rewarding.

I think deep down inside I knew I always like knitting. I experimented with crochet but it’s not for me. I tried to like it. I don’t care if my friends like crochet more. I’ll still love them and their choices are their own. I think everybody should be able to be able to express their yarn-skills however they are comfortable. I don’t think anybody should have to be ashamed or hide their love of knitting. Since I told my parents, they have been very supportive. My crochet friends even like to meet and hang-out with my knitting friends at knit-clubs. My family supports my craft and they know that knitting makes me happy. I just couldn’t go through life crocheting and not experiencing all that the knit community had to offer.

With that said, I do like to dabble in crochet now and again and that doesn’t mean I’m not still a knitter. There are a lot of great things about crochet and you need a little crochet in your life too.

When I tell people I’m a knitwear designer, they sometimes say, “Oh I always knew you’d end up knitting.” I’m not sure what gave it away.

Today being a knitter is much more culturally accepted. I’ve found that online sites like Ravelry and Craftsy are great places to meet other knitters like me. The stigma attached to knitting is slowly dissolving as more and more of us stand up and show pride in who we are.

The next time you see someone knitting in public, give them a smile and let them know you support them. Make sure to support your crocheting friends too. World Wide Knit in Public Day is celebrated every year on June 18th.

p.s. National Coming Out day is celebrated every year on October 11th. You’d better celebrate that too.

Make Inertia work for you

IMG_1025Inertia is a strange beast. I remember my High-school physics teacher explaining that an object in motion naturally wants to continue its current motion and direction, but once it stops it requires more effort to get it moving again. That is an oversimplified definition. The webpage PhysicsClassroom.com explains it much better:

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Objects tend to “keep on doing what they’re doing.” In fact, it is the natural tendency of objects to resist changes in their state of motion. This tendency to resist changes in their state of motion is described as inertia.

Ironically enough – at my small school the physics teacher was also the gym teacher. He used to tell us it is easier to keep running even if we have to slow down than it is to stop and walk and then try to start running again after catching our breath.

It is true for running, it is true for knitting and it is true for weight loss. At the beginning of the year, I entered a Lose2Win contest and lost a total of 20lbs. Won a snazzy new BMW gym bag and was feeling on top of the world. I was feeling like I could take a breath from weight loss. I started indulging in a few forbidden foods and skipping my daily exercise. Fast forward to two months later and I’m finding it impossible to start running again. Both literally and figuratively. The fruit I buy goes rotten before I can be bothered to eat it. Overgrazing has rendered all household snacks extinct. I can’t break my inertia and get myself moving. Because I haven’t stepped on the scale since the final weigh-in, I’m scared to face reality and see how much damage I’ve done.

Don’t worry – I’ll eventually get myself moving again (I’ll post when I finally do) but it also makes me think about my knitting students and some comments that they have made to me lately:

“I want to keep working on my project but once I set it down I don’t know how to pick it back up again.”

I know that I often stay up knitting until 3am because of inertia.

“I just can’t put it down.”

“One more row.”

“Let me just get to the next color change.”

Inertia is a very powerful motivator but it can also hold us back. Like weight loss, it is more psychological than physical but once we leave a project sitting too long we start to wonder how long it will take to remember what we were doing. Will we have to back-track and figure out where we were? How long will that take? Will I be able to get back on track? What if I can’t find my way again?

I have a feeling that a few sentences ago you were thinking that this lady should just get back on the jogging trail and the sooner the better. Just do it! Hurry before you lose all your progress! Don’t think about it – just do it. You will be so happy you did.

It is great advice and it applies to BOTH OF US. You pick up that old project that you’d love to finish but that’s been stalled by that beast named Inertia and I’ll get back on my running trail and give myself a bit of my own advice.

Deal?

 

Darth “Intarsia” Vader

May the (Intarsia) Force Be With You

Back when I thought knitting might be a fad for me, I was very conscious of each project I made. If I quit knitting tomorrow, I wanted to make sure I had an awesome collection of items to show for all the time I was “wasting” with my needles.

When I wanted to tackle Intarsia, I decided to tackle the Dark Lord himself. Darth Vader! My son was a bit obsessed, I was reliving my memories of the Star Wars franchise and I was determined to make things my Grandmother would never think to make (Love ya Great Gram!) so I found photos of Darth Vader, and made my own pattern (for more details on how I do this see: Ninjago Lunch Bag Challenge. 

577875_10151605259265217_173499650_nI decided to make Darth Vader into a pillow and although the chart I created used 39 stitches, I cast on 59 to account for the edges. I then knit 10 rows of black before starting my chart. To make the back, I knit a black square 59 stitches wide and 72 rows high to match the size of the front. Then I found a pillow form at my local craft store that fit. You could also tear apart an old pillow and use the stuffing if you can’t find a pillow form that matches your finished size exactly.

You can turn Darth Vader into anything you’d like by using The Force (of math). He could be a Lunch Bag like my Ninjago guy, a sweater, basically anything that has an extra 39 stitches x 52 rows that could use a little bit of the Dark Side.

Feel free to use and share this Chart. I’ve included a few details to help you make your math work.

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Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Needles: 6-9 mm depending on yarn thickness. 6 mm will work well for recommended yarn

Recommended Yarn: Loops and Threads: Impeccable (Available at Michaels) 100m = 100g, 100% Acrylic, Colors: Wine/Black/White/Grey

Size: 39 stitches wide 52 rows high

Directions: Cast on 39 (plus edge stitches depending on required size) Center and work the chart from the bottom to the top using color suggested for each block.

For Example:
Row 1: (reads R to L) k12 in Black, k1 grey, k2 black, k1 grey, k23 black, turn
Row 2: (reads L to R) p22 black, p6 grey, p11 black, turn

Need Tips??:

Basic Intarsia Tips from Natty Knitter
or
Video Tutorial on wrapping Intarsia colors