Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do this & you'll never run out of yarn again.

Yet another customer wrote to me to say she had run out of such-and-such yarn. Did I have any of that color? She needs it for a project she is working on.

[banging my head against a wall]

WHY does it have to be that same color and same dye lot? Because she started with Famous Brand Boring Beige #11111 and by golly, she needs to finish with Famous Brand Boring Beige #11111 even though the results are going to be just as predictably boring as any of us can imagine.

I'm not trying to tell knitters or crocheters what to do, but honestly, if you CONSIDER this piece of advice, you will never have this problem again.

  • Look at your project and figure out how much yarn you need.
  • Find three or four color-coordinated yarns in the gauge you think you will need--keeping in mind that you will have to test that gauge and/or use a different size needle.
  • Buy 20% more yardage than you estimated.
Now, it just so happens that I sell yarn on Zibbet in harmonizing color families. I have a huge selection in my own home, so running out of yarn is inconceivable to me. But if you get a whole gaggle of color-related yarn, you can use whichever yarns you liked best, add a pocket later, change the collar, whatever, and likely still have some leftover. Save the leftovers for a hat or something.

Today, I am wearing a brown sweater that I knitted from a vast assortment of brown yarns that I sell. Many of them were close in color or from the same color family, but many were not. They were just brown. And I could gaze at this sweater all day. I am gazing at it now as my fingers slip off the keys and ,u tu[omg siffers as a resi;t/

Do you think it was hard to make this? My knitting skills are near nil. I never learned to do intarsia, cables, entrelac or any of that stuff. I just use straight garter stitch or stockinette or maybe if I'm in a really fancy mood, I will do a seed stitch. I knit while I watch TV and I scarcely look at what I am doing. And no one has sweaters that look like mine. Well, okay, in a few cases, that is probably a good thing, because I make mistakes while I work and often refuse to unravel, but still... I have the most creative sweaters in my neighborhood, I promise you. And I never, ever, ever run out of whatever yarn I was using, because I use a wild hodgepodge of ONE COLOR FAMILY and make sure I have extras.

If I did not have extras--this doesn't happen, but if it did--I wouldn't hesitate to shift to another yarn that sort of harmonizes and just repeat that yarn somewhere else on the project. What is wrong with having a sweater with slightly contrasting collar, cuffs, pockets? That is tame compared to some of my projects, where I make the sleeves different colors and the front and the back are different lengths. Or the hem deliberately slopes to the left.

You CAN get wild and funky, people. But if that is not your taste, that's okay. I know some people like classic, traditional clothing. But please, at least contemplate knitting outside the dull beige box. Please. You will never run out of yarn again, but more than that, it will be good for your soul!

dj runnels

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Just listed a cutter quilt. It has a flaw in the corner, otherwise I would sell it as a vintage quilt. I was going to make pillow covers out of it but my project list is in serious, serious backlog.

Not feeling well today, but I did want to post a list of what I sell and/or am working on. It's a cut-and-paste, which is as much as I can handle right now.

handwoven handbags, pillows, wall pockets, scarves, handknit bags, neckwarmers, rugs, hats, hoods, belts, eyeglass cases, primitive chokers, hippie necklaces, trader beads, jewelry findings and gift boxes for jewelry makers, handmade polymer clay scarabs and other pendants, papier mache bowls, potpourri holders, handpainted boxes and wooden housewares, ethnic and cultural antiques or vintage house wares, rare and antiquarian books, maps, sheet music, ephemera for paper crafts, handmade zombie journals, garden journals, arts and crafts and design books, supplies for professional crafters such as shopping bags, mannequin heads, candle holders, empty jewelry boxes, garden castles, birdhouses, bird feeders, garden stakes, bookends—these last few products in conjunction with my husband, the woodworker.

dj runnels

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rustic wooden bowl, painted & sanded

Gosh, I'd like to remove this. But for some reason, I cannot.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Yarn Mixing 101

Originally posted on my website and on eBay:

Everyone asks me how I blend my yarns. I normally reply that I use a pitchfork, bacon grease and 3D glasses. But after a few slaps to the head, I behave and give more intelligent advice. This guide will be about switching yarns while knitting. I realize some of you will read this and say, "Duh!" but I would not be writing this if I had not been asked for advice. Others are having trouble with the concept so if you know all of this already, try to sit still and be quiet. Or run out and get Starbucks for all of us.

The easiest way to explain what I do is to have you try a swatch. This should only take 20 minutes. Even less if you've been drinking Starbucks. Choose three worsted weight yarns that look completely different in terms of color. Yeah. We're going to make an ugly swatch so you can see what it is you did and how you did it. Next select a needle size that is about a size larger than the yarn calls for. Designate your colors A, B and C.

Cast on 12 stitches with A.

Row 1: knit across. In fact, knit all the odd rows.

Row 2: purl across. You will purl across all the even rows.

Row 3: knit across.

Row 4: Leave A hanging there. Make a slip knot with a three-inch "tail" with B. Purl across working the tail into your knitting. It will be bulkier than the other rows. I'll address that in a minute.

Row 5: knit across with B.

Row 6: purl across holding A and B together.

Row 7: knit across with B only.

Row 8: leave B hanging. Make a slip knot with a three-inch "tail" with C. Purl across working the tail into your work. It will be bulkier here, too. And now you will have strands hanging all over creation.

Row 9: knit across with A.

Row 10: purl across with B.

Row 11: knit across with C.

Keep going until you feel you are getting the hang of it. At any time, if A, B and C are creating a humongous tangle, cut one off at the seam and tie a knot that won't show when you sew the seams together which is sort of the beginner method. OR create a slit knot and work the tail into your knitting. The more distinct your colors are and the more often you switch at the end of a row, the more striped your results will be. The more you alternate between A, B, C and D and E and however many yarns you have, plus the more SIMILAR your colors are and the more you work the tails into your work, the more blended the effects will be.

But before you start making a coat the size of a Buick, please do this: measure your gauge. I asked you to use slightly larger needles to allow for those bulky double-yarn rows. How did they turn out? If you're using worsted weight yarn and you're getting 4 stitches to the inch on every row, that's great. If some rows are wider than others, you will likely need to swap needle sizes now and then as you work...unless you like the results you are getting. Also look at the color changes that started on knit rows versus the color changes that started on purl rows. If you always swap colors on a purl row, you'll have a nicer look on the "right" side of the piece. But if you don't mind the dotted lines or if you're doing straight knit on both sides, then don't worry about what everyone says you "should" do. Rely on what you like. It's your work. You go, girl.

This is not the only way to blend yarns. It is one way and it is intended to simplify the mystery for beginners who are nervous about this sort of thing. If you feel encouraged by this swatch test, try it again with yarns similar in color and texture and you will like your results much better. If you're familiar with the yarn in my store, THIS, my darlings, is what it is all about. This is why I create yarns in color families and this is how I knit every day of my life. I haven't made a solid-color anything in over a decade. This is what the rest of us have been doing with yarn-mixing, or at least one way of doing it. Good luck. Experiment. There is much more to knitting than following concise directions and I hope you enjoy this great adventure that awaits you. Stephanie, I wrote this for you and in honor of your grandmother.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trying to connect my blog to Facebook

I am trying to link this blog with my Facebook fan page (instead of my private profile) and Facebook asked for nine of my FB friends to confirm who I am. So I hope no one gets mad at me. Or wonders why I am blonde one week and not the next.

dj runnels

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Zombieland, the movie

Saw the Zombieland movie.
The male leads are funny.
The female leads are okay.
Ya gotta love Bill Murray.

I laughed out loud over a dozen times but regretted that I was eating popcorn, because the grossness was just too gross.


Friday, October 2, 2009

This blog is read-only

New mannequin head for sale.

I made this using papier mache techniques over styrofoam. I will write more about it soon.

My blog is read-only, but I have a Facebook fan page you can join without revealing your profile or info page.

dj runnels
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