A quest for perfect yarn cakes, and the Maple Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder

Ball winder 1.JPG

I was recently chatting with my friend Shannon Cook about the woes of our yarn ball winders. I had been using a smaller plastic ball winder, which annoyed be for several reasons: the yarn guide had to be manually held in place, the table clamp was really shallow and did not fit on any tables I own, and most importantly, it couldn’t handle winding an entire skein of Hinterland Range, which is one of my favourite and most frequently used yarns! We realized we were looking for the same thing: a sturdy, wooden ball winder made to last. Enter: the Jumbo Maple Ball Winder from Fiber Artist Supply Co.

Beyond the winder itself being beautiful, I was really impressed with the amount of research and engineering that went into making this tool so efficient and easy to use. I grew up as the daughter of a fine woodworker and was given an appreciation of creating the smartest and most beautiful things from wood. The fact that my yarn winder now matches my wooden table top swift is also deeply satisfying, in my own Instagram-obsessed way.

This ball winder is heavy and sturdy enough that I didn’t need to clamp it to a table (although it does come with a clamp if you need or want to use it). The winding action is very smooth and satisfying. I tested out the winder using many different yarn weights and skein sizes (in the name of science!) and the ball winder had no issues with turning each into beautiful, even cakes. One thing I will caution against, fellow yarn glamour photographers, is that multiple starts and stops or changes in speed, etc that can happen while you are trying to wind yarn and extensively document the process at the same time can result in a less-than-perfect cake.

When have posted some of my experiments on Instagram earlier, there were some specific questions that people had about the yarn winder that I can now address:

@whistinggirlknits: I want to see it take down a hank of Eco Wool! 💪🏽
See below — this created a cake the size of my head! (For reference: Eco Wool is a bulky weight yarn with a hulking skein size of 250 g / 8.82 oz and approximate yardage: 478 yds / 437 m). 

Ball winder edited 2.JPG

@katierojoI haven’t perfected winding lightweight (fingering/sport) yarns on mine. Tips?
I found that having the yarn guide as close to the winding dowel as possible, and slightly offsetting the metal yarn guide towards the same dowel is the ideal setup (you can see an example of this, and more about yarn guide placement here.) I made some cakes of sock yarns (Hedgehog Fibres Sock, Black Cat Custom Yarn Sock) as well as other fingering weight and DK yarns with good results (Brooklyn Tweed Peerie, Quince and Co. Chickadee).

@Pearadiseisland Can it work with any swift?
Yes it can!

Ball winder edited 3.JPG

If you are considering one of these winders or want to see more of one in action, I would suggest checking out Timothy’s videos about using the winder and the placement of the yarn guide.

Overall, the attention to detail with the engineering of this winder and its clever, sturdy production makes my heart sing. It is something that was made with usability and longevity in mind, and I am so happy it will be a part of my studio for years to come!

Seeking Test Knitters for Children's Colourwork Cardigan

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General requirements:

◾️ Creation of a Ravelry project page when the pattern is published (on the day of, or as close to as humanly possible). The project must include photos of the finished garment on a model
◾️ Participation in a discussion thread for testing on a private Slack forum, if there are any questions or comments you have while knitting
◾️ Completion of a short questionnaire upon completion of the knitted garment

Incentives:

◾️ A digital copy of the completed pattern, as well as an additional pattern previously published by Standard Knits

Timeline for project:

◾️ Tech Edited Pattern available to testers: January 20, 2018
◾️ Feedback on FO due: February 17th, 2018
◾️ Ravelry project upload: Late February 2018, exact date TBA

Testers will obtain their own yarn and keep their completed sweaters. The suggested yarn for this pattern is Brooklyn Tweed Quarry, but testers may use whichever similar yarn they choose as long as gauge is correct.

Pattern Information:

Sized to fit children approximately 2 (4, 6, 8, 10).
Chest circumference (finished measurements):  25 (27, 29, 31, 33)” / 63.5 (68.5, 73.5, 78.5, 84) cm. Intended ease: approximately 3 – 6” / 7.5 – 15 cm positive ease in chest

Difficulty:
Advanced beginner / intermediate

Skills required:
Skills required: long tail cast on, increasing, decreasing, working colourwork from chart, picking up stitches, short rows, buttonholes.

Yarn:
Brooklyn Tweed Quarry, 100% Targhee-Columbia wool 200 yards / 183 meters per 100g / 3.5 oz skein

C1: 2 (2, 2, 2, 2) skeins (shown in “Lapis”)
C2: 1 (2, 2, 2, 2) skeins (shown in “Obsidian”)
C3: 1 (1, 1, 1, 1) skeins (shown in “Moonstone”)

Or

Chunky weight yarn

C1: 210 (230, 280, 320, 365) yards / 195 (210, 255, 295, 335) metres
C2: 200 (220, 265, 300, 350) yards / 185 (200, 245, 275, 320) metres
C3: 115 (130, 150, 175, 200) yards / 105 (120, 135, 160, 180) metres

Needles:
US 11 / 8mm 32” circular needle
US 11 / 8mm DPNs or circular needles for magic loop for sleeves; DPNs recommended for pocket linings
US 10.5 / 6.5 mm 24” circular needle
US 10.5 / 6.5 mm DPNs or circular needles for magic loop for cuffs
or sizes needed to obtain gauge

Gauge:
Using US 11 / 8mm needles, 12 stitches and 18 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stockinette stitch


HOW TO APPLY

Send an email to Lindsay, standardknits@gmail.com with the following info:

◾️  Your name
◾️  Which size you are interested in testing
◾️  Your Ravelry user name
◾️  Your Instagram name (not required, but I'd love to connect there!) 

The Pender Cardigan

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At the end of September, the Pender Cardigan was released as part of Hinterland Straits 2017. The collection also includes the Haro shawl by Shannon Cook, Tribune Bay by Andrea Rangel, and Wya Point by Nat Raedwulf. 

Yarn

Hinterland Watershed is a chunky, softly spun yarn made from 50% alpaca, 50% rambouillet (also known as french merino) and if we've met before, I was probably wearing something knit from it. I have previously designed the Gambier Jacket using this same yarn, and I was interested to challenge myself with a textured project. Unlike some other chunky yarns, Watershed is very light which makes it great for avoiding stretching or lengthening in a larger project like a sweater (which can sometimes happen with alpaca fibre). I found that bulking up the fabric with texture makes it wear even more springy and light... bliss. 

Aug_28_photoshoot-78_medium2.jpg

Fit

I aimed for a fairly conventional fit with this cardigan with about 6" of ease in the chest circumference, though I specifically wanted the cuffs to fit on the tighter side — I like my cozy clothing to be functional, and I hate when big chunky cuffs get in the way of doing important things with my hands (like knitting, obvs.)

Seamed vs. Seamless

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In comparison, the Gambier Jacket is seamless (except for the pockets). But because the textured fabric of the Pender would be so bulky, I knew that seams would create a structured fit that keeps its shape a bit better and "hugs" the body.

Because Watershed is a little bit soft for seaming, it works well to do short sections and / or add some extra twists to the yarn while working. It is also key to keep the tension not to loose / not too tight when seaming because of the thickness of the fabric. Goldilocks seaming, if you will.  

Another benefit of seaming such a bulky sweater is that the sleeves, fronts, and back are worked separately, so the project is easier to manage while in progress. 

 

Construction notes

Collar and button bands: Honestly, the button bands almost killed me (and probably my test knitters, but they were far too nice to say anything about it.) It took 3-4 times knitting and then several times rewriting the instructions before it all came together. Why make it so complicated? I really wanted the collar to stand up on its own. The construction starts with the back collar only, and then the sides of the collar are picked up at the edges of the short-row-shaped button and buttonhole band, which kind of tents the collar. This in combination with the twisted rib (which creates a more solid fabric) was successful in my plan for maximum neck warmth. 

Sleeves: the set in sleeves were slightly challenging to plan, but I was happy with the shaping I was able to achieve by putting the decreases a few stitches in from the edge (even the sharp decreases at the beginning of the cap). This gives the seams a softer look, and didn't seem to mess with the fit — I'm pretty happy with how the shoulders do not look overly big in this very bulky fabric.

Cuffs and bottom band: I think the first idea I had for this cardigan was to somehow have the cuffs and bottom band "sideways." At the same time I wanted to only have seaming where it was structurally necessary, so I figured out a plan to pick up stitches while working sideways. I'm sure it has been done before, but it was new to me. It was a fun discovery and I'll probably use this method again! 

FO

I am most happy with the collar of this sweater, which looks kind of like a bomber jacket and really does stand up on its own. The sample knit travelled to Knit City recently, and it was so fun to see so many knitters try it on and enjoy the coziness... though I'm happy to have it back and will probably keep it on for the majority of this Winter. 


Photos of cardigan: Kelly Brown
Photos of yarn: Hinterland 

Seeking Test Knitters for Women's Super Bulky Cardigan

***TEST FILLED, THANK YOU!***

General requirements:

◾️ Creation of a Ravelry project page when the pattern is published (on the day of, or as close to as humanly possible). The project must include photos of the finished garment on a model.
◾️ Participation in a discussion thread for testing, if there are any questions or comments you have while knitting
◾️ Completion of a short questionnaire upon completion of the knitted garment

Incentives:

◾️ A discount when ordering the suggested yarn from hinterlandfarm.ca
◾️ A digital copy of the completed pattern, as well as any other you choose from Standard Knits

Timeline for project:

◾️ Tech Edited Pattern available to testers: July 13, 2017
◾️ Feedback on FO due: August 27th, 2017
◾️ Ravelry project upload: Late September, TBA

Testers will obtain their own yarn and keep their completed sweaters. The suggested yarn for this pattern is Hinterland Watershed, but testers may use whichever similar yarn they choose as long as gauge is correct.

***TEST FILLED, THANK YOU!***
 

IMG_5949.JPG

 

Pattern Information:

Chest circumference (finished measurements):
38 (41, 44, 47) [50, 53, 56, 59]” / 96.5 (104, 112, 119.5) [127, 134.5, 142, 150] cm

Intended ease: approximately 6” / 15.25 cm positive ease in chest

Difficulty: 
Intermediate / experienced

Skills required:
Long tail cast on, increasing, decreasing, seaming, picking up stitches, short rows, buttonholes

Yarn:
Hinterland Watershed 50% Rambouillet, 50% Alpaca, 150 yards / 137 meters per 112g / 3.95oz skein
7 (8, 9, 9) [10, 11, 12, 12) skeins (shown in “Truffle”)

Or

Super bulky weight yarn
975 (1,115, 1,220, 1,320) [1,425, 1,530, 1,725, 1,775] yards / 890 (1,020, 1,115, 1,210) [1,305, 1,400, 1,575, 1,625] metres

Needles:
US 10.5 / 6.5mm 32” circular needle
US 10.5 / 6.5mm DPNs (for pocket linings)
Cable needle
Optional:  Straight needles of the same size may be used for fronts, back, cuffs, and bottom band if preferred
or size needed to obtain gauge

Gauge:
Using US 10.5 / 6.5mm needles, 14 stitches and 19 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stockinette stitch

 

Seeking Test Knitters for the Men's Gambier Sweater

***TESTS FILLED, THANK YOU!*** Seeking test knitters for the men’s Gambier, a squishy, cozy colorwork jacket knit in a super bulky yarn.

General requirements:

- Creation of a Ravelry project page when the pattern is published (on the day of, or as close to as humanly possible). The project must include photos of the finished garment on a model.
- Participation in a Ravelry thread for testing, if there are any questions or comments you have while knitting
- Completion of a short questionnaire upon completion of the knitted garment

Incentives:
- A discount when ordering the suggested yarn from Hinterland.ca
- A digital copy of the completed pattern, as well as any other you choose from Standard Knits

Deadline for project completion and feedback:
February 15, 2017

Deadline for Ravelry project with photos:
February 2017, TBA

Testers will obtain their own yarn and keep their completed sweaters. The suggested yarn for this pattern is Hinterland Watershed, but testers may use whichever similar yarn they choose as long as gauge is correct.

Overview of pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate
Skills required: colorwork, picking up stitches, short rows, working in the round

Yarn: 

Hinterland Watershed 50% Rambouillet, 50% Alpaca, 150 yards / 137 meters per 112g / 3.95oz skein

C1: 6 (7, 7) [8, 9, 10) skeins (shown in “Ash”)
C2: 2 (2, 3) [3, 3, 3] skeins (shown in “Snow”)
C3: 1 (1, 1) [1, 2, 2] skeins (shown in “Honey”)

Or

Super bulky weight yarn
C1: 800 (900, 1,000) [1,175, 1,275, 1,450] yards / 730 (825, 915) [1,075, 1,165, 1,325] metres
C2: 225 (255, 310) [330, 350, 385] yards / 205 (230, 285) [300, 320, 350] metres
C3: 95 (100, 110) [130, 155, 165] yards / 85 (90, 100) / [120, 140, 150] metres

Needles:
US 10 / 6mm 40” circular needle
US 11 / 8mm 40” circular needle
US 10 / 6mm double pointed needles
US 11 / 8mm double pointed needles
or sizes needed to obtain gauge

Gauge:
Using US 11 / 8mm needles, 11.5 stitches and 15 rows = 4” / 10 cm in colour chart 3

Size information:
Chest circumference (finished measurements): 41 (46, 52) [58, 63, 69]” / 105 (117, 132) [148, 160, 175] cm

Intended ease:  4 – 6” / 10 – 15.25 cm positive ease in chest

***TESTS FILLED, THANK YOU!*** If interested in being considered for this test knit, please send an email to standardknits@gmail.com and include:

- The size you would like to knit
-  Your Ravelry name
- Your Instagram name

Thank you!

Seeking test knitters for two sweaters

***TESTS FILLED, THANK YOU!*** Seeking test knitters for a squishy, cozy colorwork cardigan knit in a super bulky yarn, and for a boxy, cropped long-sleeve pullover knit in an aran yarn.

General requirements:

  • No revealing pictures on social media (though teaser pics are welcome!) Further social media info and support will be provided for confirmed test knitters.
  • Creation of a Ravelry project page including photos when the pattern is published (the day of, or as close to as humanly possible.)
  • Completion of a short questionnaire, general feedback on the pattern


Incentives:

  • A discount when ordering the suggested yarn
  • A digital copy of the completed pattern, as well as any other you choose from Standard Knits
  • Social media (and real!) love

Deadline for project completion and feedback: 
August 1, 2016

Deadline for Ravelry project with photos: 
Late September / early October

**TESTS FILLED, THANK YOU!***
 


Overview of cardigan

Difficulty: Intermediate

Skills required: colorwork, picking up stitches, short rows, working in the round

Yarn: Super bulky weight yarn, suggested: Hinterland Watershed  

C1: 850 (1,050, 1,300) [1,500, 1650, 1,800] / 780 (960, 1190) [1375, 1510, 1650] metres
C2: 200 (275, 360) [400, 490, 550] / 180 (250, 330) [365, 450, 500] metres
C3: 60 (85, 110) [125, 140, 150] / 55 (80, 100) / [115, 130, 140] metres

Needles: 
US 10 / 6mm 40” circular needle
US 11 / 8mm 40” circular needle
US 10 / 6mm double pointed needles
US 11 / 8mm double pointed needles
or sizes needed to obtain gauge

Gauge:
Using US 11 / 8mm needles, 13 stitches and 19 rows = 4” / 10 cm in colour chart

Size information:
Chest circumference (finished measurements): 37 (42, 47) [52, 57, 62]” / 94 (107, 119.5) [132, 145, 157.5] cm

Intended ease:  4 – 6” / 10 – 15.25 cm positive ease in chest

 


Overview for pullover

Difficulty: advanced beginner

Skills required: long tail cast on, increasing, slipped stitches, picking up stitches

Yarn:
Worsted weight, suggested: Hinterland Range
1,080 (1,200, 1,320, 1,450) [1,570, 1,730, 1,870, 2,000] yards / 990 (1,100, 1,210, 1,330) [1,440, 1,580, 1,710, 1,830] metres

Needles: 
US 5 / 3.75mm straight or circular needle (knitter’s preference for knitting flat)
US 5 / 3.75mm circular or double pointed needles (for neck ribbing)
US 6 / 4mm straight or circular needles (knitter’s preference for knitting flat)
or size needed to obtain gauge

Gauge:
Using US 6 / 4mm needles, 19 stitches and 26 rows = 4” / 10cm in stockinette stitch

Size information:
Chest circumference (finished measurements): 38 (42, 46, 50) [54, 58, 62, 66]” / 96.5 (106.5, 117, 127) [137, 147, 157.5, 167.5] cm

Intended ease: 6 – 8” / 15.25 – 20.25 cm positive ease in chest

 

***TESTS FILLED, THANK YOU!***