Meet Lauren:

LaurenI’ve been working at Over the Rainbow Yarn since January of 2015, but I’ve been a loyal fan since the early days. I am an avid crafter with a fervent wish to collect all of the craft skills (except perhaps the messy ones…). I am hopelessly obsessed with adorable things. To name a few of my favorite things in life: vintage dresses, polka dots, pastel colors, picot edging, cupcakes, and kittens.

I was inspired to learn to crochet when my husband and I received a beautiful hand-crocheted doily as a housewarming gift, upon my move to Maine in 2011. Knitting is a relatively new addition to my repertoire, but it is my dearest crafting love of late, and I consider myself a very competent knitter.

My favorite way to make things is by experimenting. I find crafting fulfilling because it is an opportunity to invent things, and to see my whimsies become physical things. So, I dabble in knit and crochet design on the fly. I intend to write patterns for my more successful experiments ASAP! Sometimes I fail completely, but that’s ok. It’s only yarn.

Here are Over the Rainbow Yarn, I am in charge of maintaining the website; I write the weekly newsletter; and I seek graphic design opportunities everywhere I look. Have you ever noticed our store signage? I made that. I also take a lot of photos for our social media pages.

Lauren’s Latest Blog Posts:

Ice Cream Hats

I ran into my friend Kate on Main Street in Rockland today. “Only you would wear a wool hat on a nice summer day,” she said. Yes, I am proud to be quirky that way. No matter the weather, it’s layers of knitwear for me. Anyway, it may not have been obvious, but it’s actually an ice cream hat. That makes it warm weather wear, right?

Perhaps the two things that inspire me most in the world are hats and painfully adorable things that make you go squeeee. I don’t typically jump up and down with excitement, but I’m squeeing on the inside when I see things like pastel rainbows, baby animals, and highly decorated cupcakes.

I’ve gone on a dessert kick before when I decided to make miniature dessert sculptures out of polymer clay a few years back. I made donut earrings, ice cream cone necklaces and cookie pins. I mashed together my loves of kittens and desserts and made a kitten head ice cream cone necklace. I even sculpted a 3-inch tall layered wedding cake with sunflowers and purple icing pearls. 

And lately, dessert is on my mind again. I’ve been knitting ice cream themed hats like a madwoman. It started with a mint green and chocolate brown yarn that simply called to me for non-dessert-related reasons, and proceeded with the absent-minded knitting of a hat. I didn’t intend for it to be a mint chocolate chip ice cream hat. I think it decided that for itself. Have you ever met an author who claims the characters speak for themselves? It’s like that, except a hat.

The ice cream hats are knit in Malabrigo Worsted and Juniper Moon Farm Moonshine, two gorgeous and well-matched yarns that I can only describe as buttery-soft, which seems appropriate. I needed a huge palette to knit all the flavors, so I’ve stocked up on all the colors (not quite all of them, but I wish) and set them up in my living room. It feels like being back in art school, sitting in my apartment with colored pencils and little cups of ink and paint brushes sprawled across my oversized coffee table. I usually kneeled on the floor and worked at the coffee table because I needed so much table space for all the colors.

So far I’ve achieved a neapolitan hat, a mint chocolate chip hat, a peanut butter cup hat, a rainbow sprinkles hat, a pumpkin spice hat, a cotton candy hat, and a hat that simply can’t decide whether it’s a candy cane hat or a strawberry cheesecake hat. Pistachio and Rainbow Sherbert have been teasing me while I’ve been distracted with other knitting projects for the last few days. I think I’d like to write, design, illustrate, and self-publish a book of ice cream hat patterns. I think I’d like to drive around hunting for photo backdrops that match every hat. It remains to be seen whether I’ll see all that through, so stay tuned.

I am grateful to all the folks I encounter at the yarn shop who either share my excitement about this silly project or humor me warmly. How lucky am I to work with a bunch of knitting enthusiasts every day? During Stitch ‘n’ Spin last Thursday, Kelly told me a story the other day that made my heart swell with pride and joy. She encountered a random stranger who was in a knitting rut, so she whipped out her phone and shared my recent Instagram post about the ice cream hats. The knitting rut was resolved immediately with daydreams about strawberry shortcake! Who doesn’t love desserts?!

Reading Your Knitting

It is possible to be a pretty competent knitter without understanding how to read your knitting, but knitting may be an entirely more frustrating experience than it has to be! If you know how to look at your knitting and determine whether the stitch you’re working into is a knit, a purl, a yarn-over, a knit-two-together or a make-one, you will be much less likely to make mistakes, and you will be able to easily “memorize” patterns. In reality, you don’t have to memorize anything or even mark your place in the pattern if you understand how stitches are constructed and can determine what stitch to make next based on those you see below.

Tip 1: Notice that when you knit a stitch, you’re actually altering the stitch below the new one you’re creating.

Here is your left needle at the beginning of a new row. The knit stitches are highlighted in yellow, and the purl stitches are highlighted in pink. The grey stitches on the needle are still indeterminate stitches. They will become knits or purls as you’re knitting the next row!

Now you’re halfway through the row. You decided that the indeterminate stitches from the photo above would become knit stitches, so I’ve highlighted the knit stitches and those that are about to become knit stitches in yellow.

Tip 2: Notice that knitting and purling are exactly the same thing, worked in reverse. Thus, a knit is a purl if you turn the fabric over, and vise versa.

This is the same swatch as above, flipped over. Again, knit stitches are highlighted in yellow and purl stitches are highlighted in pink.

Tip 3: Knitting means pulling the working yarn from back to front; purling means pulling the working yarn form front to back.

This is a knit stitch that you just popped off of your right needle. See how the yarn comes through the stitch below from the back to the front?

And this is a purl stitch that you just popped off of your left needle. (It’s actually the exact same stitch as in the previous photo, flipped over.) See how the yarn comes through the stitch from the front to the back?

Tip 4: If you’re working into a knit stitch, you will see a V shape below the loop you’re working into. If you’re working into a purl stitch, you will see a horizontal bump below the loop you’re working into.

You’ve introduced some purls alternating with knits in the previous row, and you’re knitting every stitch in the current row. I highlighted two rows this time: the current row and the previous row. The yellow stitches on the left needle aren’t knits yet, but they’re about to become knits. Notice how you’re about to work into a knit, then a purl, then a knit, then a purl…

Tip 5: The purl bump is actually the top of the stitch.

Now, you want to count how many rows you’ve completed in order to figure out whether you’re on a straight knitting row or a knit, purl row. You should pull the fabric taut because knit and purl stitches distort each other. Notice that there are two knit rows between the rows with the purl bumps, and also two knit rows above the previous row with the purl bumps. That means you’re ready to work a knit, purl row.

Hemmed Edges

Right now, these fingerless mitts in Malabrigo lace are on my needles. I used a purl turning row hem!

My Copy Cat Beanie (in Malabrigo Worsted) has a basic hem – no turn row! Thus, it looks a little more rounded on the edge.

My Caroline Cloche (in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool) uses a purl turning row, just like my fingerless mitts above. So it has a sleek, crisp looking edge.

And I added a sewn hem to my Norrland hat (in Berroco Folio) when I realized the ribbing was a bit too long at the very end!

Let me sing praises to one of my favorite finishing techniques: hemmed edges. Our sewing projects get hem treatments, so why not our knits? Hemmed edges lend a polished look to your hand-knits, the concept is simple, and the benefits are numerous:

  • You can knit stockinette stitch right to the edge without any curling.
  • It forms a placket into which you could insert elastic or a drawstring.
  • It’s always nice and stretchy.
  • Your edges are reinforced against wear and tear with a double-thick fabric.
  • Your edges are warmer – a hemmed edge on a hat will keep the cold wind off your ears.
  • There is no wrong side near the edge.
  • You could add a secret accent color on the inside.
  • It just looks nice!

There are a few styles of hemmed edge. Any of them can be worked in the round or flat:

  1. Basic Hem: Cast on, knit twice as long as you want your hem (in stockinette, ribbing, seed or whatever stitch you like), then knit every live stitch together with the cast-on stitch directly below it.
  2. Turning Purl Row: Cast on, knit as long as you want your hem, work a single purl row, knit the same length again, and knit your live stitches together with your cast on stitches. You’ll find that the purl row will cause the fabric to turn neatly and flatly all on its own.
  3. Turning Eyelet Row / Picot Hem: Cast on, knit as long as you want your hem, work a row of (yo, k2tog) all the way around, knit the same length again, and knit your live stitches together with your cast on stitches. Like the turning purl row, the row of eyelets will also turn all on its own, and when folded in half it will appear as a dainty picot edge.
  4. Provisional Version: Use a provisional cast on instead of a regular cast on with the above styles, transfer the provisional stitches onto a needle and knit the live stitches together with the corresponding provisional cast on stitches. This might be easier if you have trouble finding the cast-on stitch directly below the next live stitch.
  5. Sew At The End Version: Turn your edge over and sew it down at the end of your project. You can do this with a basic hem or a turning row hem – whatever suits your fancy!

A few super-cool and popular projects with hemmed edges from the Ravelryverse:

That One Neon Stripe

This week’s blog post is kind of a follow-up on last week’s blog post, in which I wrote about the fade, a trend inspired by Andrea Mowry’s “Find Your Fade” shawl. The fade is all about gradients made from hand-painted, speckled, and highly contrasty colors. The speckle-dyed look is so hot right now, and I think it’s because it screams “hand made”. It usually is, but even the odd machine-dyed speckled yarn suggests hand-crafted quality.

At the same time, neutral tones are surprisingly modern looking lately. There’s a connection between the rainbow speckles and the neutrals that didn’t occur to me until a few days ago. Neutrals are the colors of wool and other natural fibers, even if they are in fact bleached or dyed. We want our yarn to be straight from nature, raw and real, and we want it to be hand-made. I think both impulses are a reaction against mass-produced things, harmonious with the ethic of slow fashion.

Now, here’s another observation about contemporary color schemes in the knitting universe. It’s the combination of neutrals and super-brights. It’s that one neon stripe incorporated into a classic design that bridges the gap between the 19th century and the 21st. Maybe it also bridges the gap between handcrafts and mass production.

I found so many examples of this type of color scheme on Ravelry that I’m not even sure where to begin with examples. It’s everywhere when you look for it. It has an undeniably contemporary look. I feel like all the cool kids are doing it. Meet a few of the cool kids:

Pictured:  Ticking Stripe Wrap, Super Easy Lap Blanket, Friendly Fair Isle Sweater, Color Dipped Hat, Beautiful Spring Scarf, Pointy Newborn Hat, Baby Jumper, Granny Stripe Scarf, Crocheted Balls

Above: Nine gorgeous designs by Purl Soho. Purl Soho is a super-trendy yarn shop in New York City that puts out impressive free patterns with tutorial-style instructions on their blog on a regular basis. Their color choices and photo styling are to die for, right?

Pictured: Wrap & Run, Stat Hat, Speedy Cowl, Rainbow Warrior Shawl, Painted Windows Shawl, Loop Shawl

Above: Casapinka is an ER-doctor turned knitwear designer who claims she loves pink too much. I disagree. Her use of bright pink combined with soft neutrals is so on-point it makes my heart swell with joy just to look at her designs. I was inspired to knit her Rainbow Warrior shawl in bright pink Malabrigo sock. You may have noticed that I am typically a fan of more subdued hues, but Casapinka turned me over to the bright side.

Pictured: Radiate Sweater, Ohlala Sweater, East or West Sweater, 3-Color Cashmere Cowl

Above: Joji Locatelli is a knitwear-designing mama from Argentina. She designed the gorgeous neon-edged shawl at the top of this post. I am kind of enthralled by her East or West sweater (bottom left). It’s sleek but unusual, with its side-to-side construction. I’d love it even without the hot pink accents, but I think they take the pattern from clever to brilliant. Joji’s 3 Color Cashmere Cashmere Cowl (bottom right) is one of the most popular patterns on Ravelry. Not everyone chooses to knit it in neutrals with a neon stripe, but I would contend it’s that stunning stripe that drove its fame.

Pictured: Rose Bowl Hat & Cowl, Happy Street Shawl, Bulb SweaterDipped Cowl

Above: Veera Välimäki is a Finnish designer whose designs “focus on simple and clean lines with small modern details” according to her website. That’s exactly what I’m on about with this blog post: those small modern details. Veera says yes to classic, neutral colors and yes to bright, surprising accents at the same time.


Read more on our collaborative blog page.