Posted by: PeggyGaffney | July 8, 2008

Work the Designs in Cross Stitch

Why Not Try to Cross Stitch the Designs

It may be too hot to knit, but these charted patterns from The Crafty Golden Retriever Knits of the Golden can also be worked in cross stitch. If it is too soon to wear a sweater, but you’d love to wear the head study of your dog to your next show, consider working it in cross stitch onto a blouse.

The simple way to do this is to get some waste canvas in a weave that will give you a modest number of stitches per inch and some embroidery floss in the colors to go with the charted design. Baste this canvas to the fabric where you want the design to be. Then, using the chart, work you stitches across the intersections in the canvas and through both canvas and fabric.

Once all the stitching is complete, slightly dampen the fabric and using a tweezers, pull the threads of the canvas out, one at a time. When all the canvas threads have been removed, what is left is the lovely charted design on your blouse or jacket or tablecloth or what ever item you’d like.

Posted by: PeggyGaffney | June 18, 2008

Working Dog Hair into your Sweater

Now for those of us who have dogs, having dog hair in a sweater is a given. Dogs shed! That is one of life’s facts and if they are going to shed anywhere, it will be on you. However, what I’m talking about now is working dog hair into the sweater as part of your knitting plan.

As those of us who have Arctic dogs know, dog hair is warm, very warm. My dogs go out and sleep in the snow with icicles hanging from the coat and they are warm as toast. So will you be if you knit an entire sweater of dog hair. My friends who have done this have found that these sweaters are too warm to wear for any length of time unless they are outside in January.

No, the use of dog hair in the sweater that I’m referring to is the inclusion of it in the pattern. Dog hair, especially that which has been blended with other natural fibers such as merino wool works beautifully as an accent or when you are working the intarsia design.

When you are knitting the intarsia pattern of your dog, you want it to look as close to the original as knitting will allow. You may not be able to match the coat color with the shades of wool or cotton available even though they are numerous and varied. The answer might be to take combings from your dog; and you really don’t need much, and have it spun to be the yarn used when knitting the dog’s coat. That would guarantee a perfect match

What I have also done is knit the sweater in wool or cotton and then using pure dog hair that has been spun, and gone over the dog pattern in duplicate stitch. This had two benefits. One was that since the same gauge yarn was used throughout the sweater, there was a smooth transition between yarns. The second was that by working the stitches over the original yarn using the spun dog hair, all the fluff was on the right side of the work. This was done very effectively on a scenic sweater I knit in Brown Sheep’s Cotton Fleece. I then went back when I finished and worked just the Samoyed in the spun hair. It was very effective and the dog being the only fuzzy part of the design seemed to come to life and almost move.

So give it a try. Find a spinner nearby who will agree to work in dog hair, or teach yourself to spin which will really be fun, or send the hair to a place like VIP Fibers which will spin it in the exact gauge you want. You don’t need much to make a spectacular effect.

Posted by: PeggyGaffney | June 12, 2008

Working with bobbins

When you knit an intarsia pattern, you need bobbins. These are object that hold the separate colors of yarn as you work across the row. Now bobbins can be anything that will hold yarn from a piece of cardboard,Clover knitting bobbins to a clip clothespin, to the flat plastic yarn holders that look like the plastic pieces that hold your bread loaf closed. However, the ones that I like best are called EZEX bobs Bobs. These are circular in shape and look somewhat like a flying saucer, but they do a great job and tend to tangle less because of the fact that they don’t have edges to catch. The other reason I use them is that the large ones hold a lot of yarn so that if I load them with the main color, there are fewer ends to weave in at the end. They come in three sizes and they work by having you wind the yarn on, spool style, then the plastic cover clamps down hold the yarn firmly, though allowing you to pull out the amount you need.

Being able to control the yarn you have hanging from your needle when working an intarsia project can make the difference between a day where you feel you are a yarn painter creating a work of art, and a frustrated knitter who is faced with a mess that looks as though your cat went psycho.

The way to avoid holes in your work when changing colors is to be consistent, always picking up your new yarn from behind the yarn you were working. However, if you do end up with a few holes from color changes (and we’ve all done it) just stitch them together on the back of the work when you are weaving in the ends.

Now, as to weaving in the ends there are two schools of thought. The more complex the design, the more ends of yarn will need to hide on the back side of the work. Some knitters just want to work up the design and then tackle the job of making it neat. I tend to be of the school of thought that it is better to take a break when your ends start building up and work them in as you go. For one thing, it will be a different motion for your hands and that is good It is easier to keep the back of the work neat to keep bobbins from catching on loose ends of yarn. However, be sure you do weave in your ends. The back of the work should look almost as good as the front.

Happy Knitting!

Peggy Gaffney,
Author of The Crafty Dogs Knit series
Published by Kanine Knits

Posted by: PeggyGaffney | June 9, 2008

Painting a portrait in yarn

Intarsia is a five dollar word in knitting for creating a single layer design in many colors. The benefits of using intarsia are several. The first is that it keeps the sweater from being too heavy because it only is a single layer. Secondly, since there are no floats of yarn across the wrong side of the fabric, there is nothing to catch on jewelry or glasses when putting your sweater on. Lastly there is color; you may use as many colors per row as you want.

Because of this free use of color, the portraits I’ve designed can capture the exact shade of your dog’s coat as you work the design. If you can’t match the coat with available yarn, think about getting your dog’s hair spun. If you get it spun mixed with a little marino wool, it works up beautifully. Just don’t do the entire sweater in dog hair or you’ll find out why they pant all the time.

Posted by: PeggyGaffney | June 1, 2008

The Crafty Golden Retriever Knits

The Crafty Golden Retriever Knits published by Kanine Knits

Author/Designer Peggy Gaffney has added another book to her The Crafty Dog Knits series and this time it is for those who love Golden Retrievers. Peggy’s forty years in the world of purebred dogs has given her a unique insight and allowed her to create charted knitted designs that show these dogs in action. The inspiration for these designs comes from the stories within the book about the Golden Retriever telling all the wonderful things that are distinctive to that breed. These stories are the inspiration for nearly 25 charted designs. Patterns for sweaters, hats, scarves, mittens, pillows, afghans and even a Christmas stocking are included so that knitters may choose the designs from the collection and create truly unique garments and accessories. Sweaters are sized from infant to men’s 2x and instructions are in inches and centimeters.

Peggy Gaffney hopes that all knitters who love their Goldens will enjoy this knitting celebration of the breed.

The Crafty Golden Retriever Knits

Posted by: PeggyGaffney | June 1, 2008

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