Photo: Woolfolk FAR
As knitters, we are familiar with 2-ply and 4-ply yarns, but have you ever picked up a ball of yarn that is super light and on closer examination, discovered that the yarn itself looks like a knitted chain? Discovering chainette yarns is exciting and opens up new possibilities for your knitting. But what exactly is a chainette yarn?
Chainette (from the French word for Chain) yarns are made up of narrow plies that are machine knit into a strand that resembles mesh You will be knitting with something that has already been "knitted". They have a chained construction that provides a hollow, airy core. Since you’re using less fiber to create the same yardage, this allows the cost per yard to decrease which is why many luxury fibers like cashmere are spun into chainette. If you want luxury at an affordable price, search for chainette.
The hollow core traps air between the fibers and creates a lofty, lightweight garment. They are good for heavily cabled garments to show off cables without the weight, especially since chainette yarns offer excellent stitch definition. If you've ever knitted an Aran sweater, you know how much yarn goes into one of these garments. It's not unusual to see a medium sized adult garment with close to 2000 yards of yarn, which is needed to create all of the intricate cables and deep texture. Chainette yarns give you the yardage you need with less weight so you'll have a comfortable finished garment that feels lighter, with less stress on the shoulder seams, and less weight pulling on the neckline.
Chainette yarns are also great for heavy fibers like alpaca, yak, llama, cotton who benefit by becoming lighter. If a fiber has a tendency to hang with gravity or grow lengthwise as you wear it, and it is spun into a chainette construction, it will be less prone to that drop and the downward pull will be controlled. This is great for cardigans with buttons, since it's common for buttons that are evenly spaced on an alpaca cardigan (for example) while lying flat, to look "off" when you wear it. There will be more space between the buttons at the top than between the buttons at the bottom, since the yarn at the top is stretching down more in an attempt to hold the weight of the garment. The yarn towards the bottom of the garment is only holding a couple of inches and can retain it's fluffy shape.
Since chainette yarns are stretchy (like i-cord) they help rigid cotton and plant based yarns become more elastic. This opens up more stitch possibilities for cotton yarns and allows you to create cables or lace with greater ease since the yarn will have some give to it when being stretched with a cable needle or when making decreases. This added stretch is also helpful when you're working with ribbing or for garments with negative ease. You want a fabric that will spring back and retain it's shape.
Savvy knitters know that the softer the yarn, the less durable the finished product will be. If you want a garment to last, you need to knit with a yarn with more substance. But because the fibers have already been “knit” into a tube which keeps them in place, chainette yarns prevent pilling of super soft yarns that normally have a tendency to pill like cashmere and merino, so you're able to knit soft garments that will last. This is especially important when investing money in expensive, luxurious cashmere.
If you want the softness of cashmere without indulging, you're able to achieve a similar effect with merino. Soft yarns like merino will take on an ultra soft feel, making it feel more like cashmere than wool, with a nice drape thanks to the airy core.
Heavy yarns become lighter, inelastic yarns become more elastic, soft yarns gain strength; everything you knew about fibers and yarn is turned upside down with chainette constructed yarns. But this opens up more projects to you, as a knitter, and allows you to do more with a wider variety of yarns. When knitting with chainette, think about these qualities and make sure your knitting takes them into consideration. For example, because it is stretchier, side seams will help give your garment structure and keep it in shape. Patterns that have turtlenecks or cowl necks with the fiber next to your neck, are perfect for chainette yarns.
Once you understand chainette properties, you're better able to pair this yarn with the right project. Davos Pullover, designed for chainette yarns, takes advantage of the super soft chainette merino by incorporating a fluffy cowl neck which snuggles next to your skin to keep you cozy and cuddly. It has a fit that can be worn against the skin and feels as soft as fleece. Seams give it stability and keep it at its original length. Davos is knitted in luxurious Woolfolk Far, which goes a long way thanks to the chainette construction. Davos uses only 1130 yards for a size 36". Davos Pullover can be found here.
"Melange, Jaspe, Ombre." Schachenmayr.com 2019, <https://schachenmayr.com/en/news-events/whats-new/melange-jaspe-ombre>
"Chainette Yarn at WEBS." WEBS.com blog. 2019., <https://www.yarn.com/categories/chainette-yarn>
Babin, Meghan. "Chainette + Wool Studio = Luxury." Jan 20, 2017. <https://www.interweave.com/article/knitting/chainette-wool-studio-luxury/>
I was recently at a fiber show admiring a cute pile of baby sweaters at a booth. I was talking with the owner/knitter and she had so many gorgeous sweaters, in every color imaginable. Her work was lovely and knitters and non knitters were buying her sweaters, mostly as gifts. Mothers LOVE a hand knit sweater for their baby after all.
Then by our surprise, a woman walked by and said "That is my design. You can't sell those." Everyone at her booth disappeared, leaving the designer and knitter to settle this dispute.
This made we wonder about ownership, rights, and profit in the knitting world as well as the perception of it all. After delving into research and consulting the U.S. Copyright Office, I learned a lot about the process and wish that I could have gone back in time to that booth to save that poor knitter.
First let me say that I am NOT a lawyer nor do I work for the U.S. Copyright Office. I am a knitwear designer and my words and views in this article are of my own, based upon my experience and research with U.S. Copyright laws. Laws oversees vary from country to country.
Before we tackle the "selling knitted goods" issue, let's talk a minute about copyrights in general. How do you know if a pattern has been copyrighted? Copyright protection automatically goes into effect the moment an original work has been completed and fixed in a tangible form. After the pattern has been finished, it is essentially protected under copyright laws. So you should assume that all patterns floating around in print and on the internet are copyrighted. A pattern or any other type of work does not need to be registered, published or stamped with the (c) copyright notice in order for it to be protected. I do register my patterns with the U.S. Copyright Office, but it is not necessary. In the United States, a copyright lasts from the time the pattern or original work is completed until 70 years after the individual author's death or 95 years if the copyright is owned by a company.
Copyright laws offer protection to the author, artist, or to me as the designer. They prevent someone else from selling my patterns, or distributing them for free. Now we get back to "selling knitted goods." The copyright extends to the PATTERN. That is the tangible thing that I have created and have rights to. It covers the pattern, and all parts of the pattern like the photos, schematic etc. What it does NOT cover is the item that is made by using the pattern.
When you knit from a pattern, that thing that you create is, well, yours. You bought the pattern and the yarn, you knitted the item, it is yours. You may do what you wish with that item. You can wear it, give it as a gift or sell it. You can knit one sweater from a pattern or you can knit 100 sweaters from that same pattern. What you can't do, is claim the pattern or design as your own, sell the pattern to someone else or make copies of the pattern and give them away.
If someone gives you the pattern for free, that is normally sold to the public, it is a gift for you. It does not allow you the right to give it away to others for free as well. Copyright laws protect distribution of copyrighted materials in this regard. The same holds true if you receive a pattern as part of a kit. It is your pattern that you received for your use.
If you knit a sweater or accessory from one of my patterns, and you are fortunate enough to sell your finished item and make a profit, I encourage you to do so! It takes great skill and attention to details in finishing, to create a project that is "sales worthy." First let me say THANK YOU for purchasing one of my patterns to begin with. From the initial concept, to the finished PDF, there is a lot of work that goes into publishing a knitting pattern. In many cases the cost of the knitting pattern is less than 10% of the yarn needed to knit an adult size sweater, so the cost of a pattern is minimal. But it is everything to me, as the designer! So I am appreciative to everyone who has supported me and my designs by purchasing one of my patterns.
If you decide to give credit to Donna Estin Designs for the design on your finished, sellable projects, thank you. It is not necessary, but it's kind of you. But it's completely your decision. Sometimes the purchaser (mainly another knitter) is interested in who designed the garment. But if you're selling to the general public, they really couldn't care less who designed the thing that you made and sold to them, so don't bother.
I'm honored that you 've selected one of my designs to knit with the intent of selling the finished garment. I hope that I am able to help you create a niche business in this fabulous fiber world we all enjoy. Each of us play a roll in furthering the fine reputation of hand knits in the eye of the general public. Knitting is a skill that should be upheld and cherished. It is quite impressive! The more we are able to share the uniqueness and quality of a hand knit item to a broad base of the population, the more sought after hand knits will become. Which further increases demand for our time-treasured craft.
Happy knitting & happy selling!
U. S. Copyright Office 26SEP19 <https://www.copyright.gov/>
Krellenstein, Jason. "Ask a Lawyer, Knitting and Copyright." Vogue Knitting. Spring/Summer 2012. <http://www.vogueknitting.com/magazine/article_archive/ask_a_lawyer_knitting_and_copyright>
The Three Needle Bind Off Purlwise allows you to use 3-needle BO with Reversed Stockinette or Garter stitch, where your purl stitches are on the right side of your garment. This creates a seam that blends in nicely with the purl stitches and is hardly noticeable.
You can read the step-by-step instructions below or watch the video [click here].
How to work the Three Needle Bind Off Purlwise:
1. The setup is the same as regular three needle bind off. With the right sides held together (we’re working with Reversed Stockinette so we want the purl sides together), needle tips pointing in the same direction, and same number of sts on each needle, insert 3rd needle knitwise into the first stitch on the front needle. Leave it on the needle.
2. Wrap yarn counterclockwise around 3rd needle tip to bring the yarn in front. (You’re setting up a purl stitch and you always bring your yarn forward before you purl.) Insert 3rd needle purlwise into the first stitch on the back needle and purl this stitch. Let it fall from the back needle.
3. Take the yarn clockwise around 3rd needle tip to the back of your work. Lift the front knit st that is being held open, over the st that you just purled and off the needle. You have 1 st on the 3rd needle. Do these steps again and you'll have 2 sts on the 3rd needle.
4. Lift 2nd st over 1st st and off. Continue until all stitches have been bound off.
What we’re doing is knitting the stitches on the front needle and purling the stitches on the back needle. You bring your yarn forward before purling, then bring it to the back before knitting.
For the front, go into the stitch as if to knit.
For the back, yarn forward, purl the st, yarn back.
Lift the knit stitch held open over the purled st.
Bind off one stitch.
This creates such a nice seam that blends in nicely to purl stitches. I hope you find it useful. Many knitters love to join shoulders with the three needle bind off. It is a convenient way to end your work and join the front and back at the same time. With so many cable patterns using reversed stockinette as a background stitch for the cabling, there are many times where you end up with lots of purled stitches around the shoulders. Patterns will have you bind off and seam, which has its own advantages (stronger, more stable seam, etc.), but the Three Needle Bind Off Purlwise gives you another option that is fun to do, looks great and saves time. I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you to all the tester who are testing the Belfast Pullover. New sizes are scheduled for release by the end of August 2019.
Belfast Pullover is an easy-to-wear pullover which achieves the look of cables without a cable needle. The body is worked in columns of textured cabled stitches and the bodice in Stockinette with a gently scooped neckline. It is worked flat from the bottom up and is both charted & written out with schematics. Pullover is designed to be loose-fitting so please select a finished size that gives you about 4"/10cm of positive ease.
Skill level: Intermediate
Yarn: Worsted weight (yarn shown in sample is Good Karma Farm 60/40 Alpaca/Wool blend)
The test is being run on YarnPond.com. If you're not familiar with YarnPond, you can sign up as a tester for free. Click here for all the test/pattern details, or to apply.
The deadline to finish your test garment is 7/31/19 (but I am flexible on this). I hope you can join us!
When I was Stockholm not long ago, I noticed women wearing shorts over tights. It was the first time I had seen this combination and initially I thought, why not just wear pants? But as I saw this outfit over and over again, it grew on me. Shorts are cute. They give a little burst of color in the middle of your body, and you can wear them over any color (or print) of tights you like. It was a beautiful example of combining the look you want with the practicality you need.
I thought about this recently when I watched the Pre-Fall 2019 fashion shows. There are two trends that grabbed my attention and I saw enormous potential in combining something that looks stylish with the practical.
Trend # 1 - Dresses over pants:
Skirts and dresses are being worn over pants and this is look is definitely taking off. Why would you wear a dress or skirt over pants? First, it gives you a longer, taller look. Second, it’s edgy and weird and everyone wants to be weird these days. Third, it’s a protest of tights and yoga pants. For people tired of the bulging spandex everywhere you look, replacing the tights with pants is chic, more conservative and definitely fashionable. If you select pants that are on the opposite spectrum of tights, and wear wide or flare legged pants, it creates an air of the roaring 20’s and Phrynie Fisher’s modern woman. Be on the look for tuxedo-stripe pants to make the colors pop. This trend is pushing into unisex better than any other. Men and women can both wear tunic dresses over pants. It allows men in the western world to pull in elements of the east and combine basic tunics with pants, in theory, wearing a dress but not really wearing a dress. As men and women’s attire become more and more unisex, you’ll likely see this trend picked up quickly. Watch for everyday brands such as Calvin Klein who are releasing this trend heavily for Fall 2019.
Trend # 2 - 1980’s style Mini Dresses:
Those famous super short dresses are becoming THE party dress. The hem length for dresses has been getting shorter and shorter beginning in 2016 with Saint Laurent’s Fall show and reaching massive popularity across loads of designers at the Pre-Fall 2019 shows. If you love this look but can’t pull it off, be a trendsetter and wear the mini dress over yoga pants or capris.
Easton Tunic/Dress is designed to be worn over a long sleeve tee shirt and pants. It works well with jeans and cords for a casual look and provides great coverage so it’s easy to wear without being self-conscious if your jeans are a little tighter than they used to be. Designed in 2 lengths (tunic and dress), it is flattering with A-line shaping. Without sleeves or neckline finishing, this is a good project to work when you want to take your brioche into a garment.
For more inspiration, please visit:
When you're substituting yarns for a pattern, knitters know that if that pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn, that substituting another worsted weight yarn is the thing to do. But all worsted weight yarns are not the same. Some yarns like cotton are inherently heavier than yarn made of angora. But even within the vast area of Worsted Weight Wool, you'll find balls of yarn that will weigh differently.
Why does weight matter?
When you finish your garment, you will either end up with a fairly lightweight sweater or an extremely heavy one. If you're doing a lot of cables which takes more yarn, a sweater knit with a heavy fiber will be even heavier. This affects your shoulder seams, the neckline drop, the sleeve length, and the overall comfort. If you're knitting with lace, a heavy yarn will really widen the openwork and leave you holes bigger than you wanted. Brioche uses almost twice as much yarn as stockinette, so you'll definitely want to minimize the total weight.
In these cases, you'll want to select a yarn that weighs less. This is a yarn that gives you more yards per gram in each ball/hank/skein.
On the other hand, if you're working with a "puffy" stitch pattern that you want to lie flat, a heavier yarn will help pull the garment down and stretch out that pattern to a pleasing texture. If you're working with elongated stitches that only look cool when actually elongated, you don't want a yarn so light that the dropped yarn overs puff out and glob together. You want them stretched out to give the full effect.
In these cases, you'll want to select a yarn that weighs more. This is a yarn that gives you less yards per gram in each ball/hank/skein.
Also think about the size. You can use a heavier yarn with a Woman's XS than you can with a Men's size 5X.
When substituting yarn for a pattern, first figure the weight per yard of the yarn listed in the pattern. Divide the total grams by the total yardage on the ball band to find out how many grams one yard of yarn weighs. This is easier to do in grams than ounces since with ounces you'll end up with a slew of fractions to contend with.
Below is a comparison of WORSTED WEIGHT YARNS, ranked from lightest to heaviest:
As you expect, the cotton blends are the heaviest. But look at the difference in wool! There's a big difference in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter at 0.36 grams per yard compared to Sugar Bush Bold at 0.53 grams per yard. A sweater that uses 1300 yards of yarn will weigh 468 grams with Shelter and 689 grams with Bold. That is a substantial difference that you will notice as soon as you pick up the garment.
Sometimes you want it light, sometimes you want it heavy. But knowing that the weight will have an effect on the finished garment, is an important tidbit to tuck away in your brain.
Before you make your next substitution, think about what you're creating and how you want it to behave. Then grab your phone to do a quick calculation to figure out how much one yard of yarn weighs before purchasing your yarn. When you invest time and money into a hand knitted garment, you want it to turn out the best that it can be. This quick little trick helps to do just that!
I recently traced the journey of my latest project around the globe and it made me think about local versus global trade in knitting. Fiber from Alpacas raised in SOUTH AMERICA sent to MASSACHUSETTS to be transformed into hanks of hand knitting yarn, then shipped to the UK who sold it online to me, a knitter in VIRGINIA, who knit a cardigan for someone who lives in SOUTH AMERICA. So the yarn traveled around the world and ended up where it began.
I think of the time, effort and cost of such a journey. And I also think of the local sheep and alpaca farms and woolen mills along the East Coast of the US who do it all. Yes, we live in a global market, but is it always better? Sometimes, yes.
But sometimes it's a great feeling to walk down the lane wearing a sweater you made from sheep on the farm just over the ridge.
Knitting is a way of life for many of us. It has meditative qualities, allows you to be productive while watching a movie in the evenings, is relaxing, is a great way to solve problems, and allows you to be creative and produce one-of-a-kind garments that are uniquely yours. The more you knit, the more you want to knit. Knitting 3+ hours a day, every day, of every week of every month for years and years can take it's toll.
Having received diagnosis's for 2 Frozen Shoulders over the years, and having experienced constant pain irritated by knitting, I have made some observations and found remedies which may help other knitters. It has been my experience, that knitting in certain people and conditions, can cause shoulder, bicep and elbow tendinitis. When you continue to work through the pain, the inflammation builds, the pain intensifies, and adhesive capsulitis can set in. NOTE - I am not a doctor or physical therapist. These are my own observations of things that have worked for me.
Before we begin, observe your body after you've been knitting for awhile. Freeze your position and you'll notice your arms are tense. Shoulders are elevated, upper arms are tense and elbows have been in a bent position while working for awhile. Your head is often held down and the center back of your neck is tender. Crocheters tend to have issues with carpal tunnel because of all the wrist movement. It's been my experience that knitters usually don't have a problem with their wrists as much as they do with their forearms, upper arms, and shoulders.
1. If you exercise regularly (by exercise I don't mean knitting) you are less likely to experience pain. Even 100 jumping jacks every day helps strengthen the arm muscles and provide joint stability.
2. Stretching after exercise and while knitting is essential. Take a break from knitting every 30 min. and stretch your arm (bicep, tricep, forearm, shoulder, - move everything around and hold the stretches).
3. Switch to circular needles which allows the weight of the garment to rest on your lap instead of being held by your arms.
4. Wear reading glasses while you knit which allows you to hold your fabric lower and avoid the temptation to work with the garment held mid-tummy or chest level, which adds weight to your arms.
5. Check your posture. Sit up straight and place a pillow behind your back to help with this.
6. Place pillows (or dogs) under each elbow to support arms and take tension off your upper arms.
7. When you have pain, stop. No really, stop knitting. It's a death sentence for addicts, BUT, it's temporary. Take a break for a few days, or however long it takes for the pain to subside. Do something else. Look through books and pick out your next pattern, buy yarn, learn a new technique from a reference book, add a new reference book to your library, make a list of things you want to knit, inventory your supplies, wind hanks of yarn into skeins, visit your LYS and immerse yourself in all things knitting, look online at knitting tutorials, take an online knitting course from Craftsy.com, organize your knitting supplies. Just stop the motion of knitting for a short bit.
8. Get massages. (smile) Not the standard 50 min. massage from the place in the shopping center, but go to a wellness center that has massage therapists who specialize in sports medicine. Tell them about your arm muscle overuse, and have them spend the whole hour on your hands, forearm, upper arm, shoulder and pecs. They will know what to do. By breaking down the fascia, you'll feel better instantly.
9. To alleviate pain:
10. Knit with finer yarns and smaller needles. You won't work as hard knitting with a size 1 needle and flexible fingering yarn as you will with size 10 needles and bulky, stiff yarn.
11. Knit with natural fibers. Pure wool is elastic and easy to work with. Alpaca slides through your fingers effortlessly and is light as air.
12. Avoid cotton.
13. Work on lace patterns and try to stay away from large cables which require more muscle effort as you twist and pull stitches.
Knitting without pain is a given for some people. But for those of us who do experience pain, and sometimes you're just genetically predisposed to tendonitis, there are ways to alleviate the pain the still knit.
By being aware of what's happening, changing your posture and habits, you can continue to knit for a lifetime. Know that if you experience pain, and develop tendinitis, after you rest, stretch, ice, etc .and the pain goes away, it will just come back again after you get back into your knitting routine. This is why improving your posture while knitting, and the way you knit is so important.
I hope you find relief from some of these tips. And please share other tried and true remedies and tricks of the trade that helped you.
All this chatter about seamless knitting leaves me feeling a need to defend the humble seam. I know, I know, you either knit or you sew but not both. Knitters generally don't like to sew. A cast on or bind off with a tapestry needle leaves many knitters shaking their heads NO. We all know how to Kitchener, but how many knitters say, YIPPEE, I get to Kitchener!
Frankly, knitters go out of their way to avoid sewing. So when a flat piece can be worked in the round, it is. When working a baby cardigan, many knitters cast on the left front, place a marker, cast on the back, place another marker and cast on the right front, all to avoid stitching a seam.
But there are benefits to seams! They provide stability, keep the garment in place and give it a nice shape. A pullover knitted in the round can take on a barrel shape around the middle, which is not the look we want. A seamed sweater tends to hang flatter, giving a more flattering look.
One of the most important areas to seam is the neckline. So many of us place the back and front neck stitches on a holder instead of binding them off, then pick them up again when working the collar. Why go through the trouble of binding off 40 stitches if you need 40 sts back on the needle to continue knitting. The reason... is that it provides stability.
A seam holds the garment place. It keeps the neckline the width it's supposed to be. Stitches that continue from the back into the neckline are stretchy and will expand outward. A nice, high turtleneck will quickly slip down into a crew neck that runs down into your collar bone. If a sweater stretches down your shoulder and takes on a shape of it's own, it is most likely due to the absence of a sturdy, seam. The few minutes that you save by putting the stitches on the holder will cause disappointment later when the garment is worn. To keep your sweater squarely on your shoulders, with your lovely collar in place, bind off the front and back entirely. Sew the shoulder seams in place, then pick up your stitches and work the neck.
Next is the shoulder. This join can take on a lot of stress with heavy garments made from cotton or longer tunic length sweaters and dresses. Heavily cabled sweaters also add weight which tests the shoulder seams. This is where you'll likely need extra reinforcement to keep the garment from stretching out too much. Heavy fronts and backs that are joined with the 3-needle bind off will often exhibit stitches that are stretched out of shape and add extra length at this junction. When dealing with a heavier fabric, it's best to bind off the shoulder stitches then seam them together. For fine fabrics, and lightweight, cropped garments, or children's sweaters, the 3-needle bind off works just fine.
Seams done properly look neat, finished and professional. They enhance the garments and give it a polished look. They are also wonderfully slimming on skirts. A solid piece of skirt fabric has little to distract the eye. Two or more pieces seamed together break up the width, create slimming panels. Seams can be turned inside out and worked with a different color yarn to create a whimsical, accent especially fun on children's sweaters.
There are many seaming methods to chose from depending on your needs. The versatile Mattress Stitch allows the benefit of working with the Right Side of the fabric facing you, so you can match up color work, patterns, and cables. It is virtually invisible and can be used to join many different types of stitches. If you learn only one seaming method, learn the Mattress Stitch. The backstitch is fast. The crochet method is easier on the hands/arms and doesn't require the same length of yarn to constantly move in and out of the fabric, which is good for yarns that pull apart easily like Icelandic yarns. Whichever seaming method you chose, do consider the function of the particular seam. If you don't want a bulky ridge, you might want to pass on the crochet method.
When you bind off that last stitch, think of the knitting phase finished, and the fun "finishing" phase is next. Put the work down for the night, wait until the next morning when you're fresh and have new light streaming in the windows, and embrace the finishing technique of seaming. You'll thank yourself later with garments that just wear better.
Hello! I'm Donna. I knit every day and enjoy designing knitwear that is artistic, intricate and comfortable. I specialize in women's sweaters with a contemporary silhouette.