Meet Lauren:


Lauren

I'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.

Get to know Lauren by reading her latest blog posts below.

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Fidget Spinners:Everything old is new again

Have you all seen fidget spinners? They are the newest, hottest fad toy to hit the small fry in every school and neighborhood. If you haven’t heard of them, you can look at this CNN article about the fad here.  They were originally developed as an concentration aid for children with…what else can I call it…fidgeting disorders?…who seem to be able to concentrate better with their minds when their hands are occupied with something endless, mindless, but physically absorbing. But the toys have become so popular with kids of all thinking styles, that teachers are complaining that fidget spinners have become more of a distraction than the original fidgeting that fidget spinners were designed to help curb. Hmm. My sister has been looking high and low for a fidget spinner for my 7 year old nephew, and every place she’s looked has been sold out. I found a supply and picked up several of them in different colors, not knowing his preferences in the matter. (At Ocean State Job Lots in Rockland, Maine if you’re in similar straits and can’t get ahold of one) All the time with a nagging sense that I may be missing an opportunity.

See, I was recently encouraged to stock some fidget spinners as an impulse item on my counter top. All I could think of by way of reply was, “If you’re standing in the yarn shop and need something to fidget with, why don’t you just take up knitting…or crochet, or tatting, or…well SPINNING, for the love of wool.” I mean, really? Occupy the hands with a gadget that produces nothing, and produces nothing? I don’t think so, thanks.

Once upon a time, I was an education major. I’m also a mom. I know kids need to play. I know they need to bounce around and hop and skip and climb things. I also know there are kids who can learn better if they are engaged in meaningless physical activity while listening and looking at learning materials. I really, really understand that sitting still and absorbing like a sponge is not the ideal learning situation for most kids much of the time. They can do it in short bursts if they must, but then they’ll need to burst out into something more physical.

I also understand that kids like to feel accomplished and helpful. they like to know that they are making something, contributing in some way. In the way old days before there were public schools, children learned about the world at home from their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, anyone who was around. And they were set to work early. Gathering eggs, milking goats, herding sheep, tending gardens, sweeping, washing, and fixing things. Their learning wove in and around all this physical activity. Guess what else they learned? How to card, wool, spin and knit…to keep their hands busy while they did other things. Even into the 20 century in USA schools, and even now in European ones, children learn to knit as part of their curriculum. Yup, right there in school, along side reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. Turn the heel of you sock while listening to a lecture on the capitals of Africa.

How have we forgotten so? When I did a Google search for “children learning to spin,” I got an image page that looked like this… I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see anything on this that looked like learning to spin. Entertainment, maybe, but nothing to do with what I was looking for.

But if I Googled, “children learning to spin wool,” I got this. Ahh. Now that’s more like it. If children benefit from having something to do with their hand while they listen and learn, why not give them something useful to do? And actual skill that produces something?

All I can say is, if you’re looking for a fidget spinner for your kids, come in and we’ll hook you up with the original gizmo that children have been learning with for millenia. Look at that face. Works for me.

 

Stitch Proportions

It’s useful to think of your knitting as a grid, especially when reading and writing charts. But as it turns out, knit stitches aren’t equally proportioned like the graph paper you used in math class. Knit stitches are typically wider than they are tall, and whether you’re working in stockinette stitch or garter stitch has a major impact on your stitch proportions too. Furthermore, stitch proportions can be affected accidentally by gravity, or intentionally by blocking.

In stockinette stitch, knitted stitches are typically 4/5 as tall as they are wide. That means that if you cast on a number of stitches, then knit the same number of rows, your knitted swatch will be about 4/5 as tall as it is wide (say 5 inches wide and 4 inches tall).

 

 

In garter stitch, knitted stitches are even squatter at 1/2 as tall as they are wide. Conveniently, if you count the ridges instead of the rows, you’ll typically find that an equal number of stitches and ridges will produce a nearly perfect square. That’s why modular knitting is typically worked in garter stitch and lays neat and flat when you pick up one stitch per ridge along the side!

We usually only measure the height and width of our stitches, but knit stitches live in a 3-dimensional world! It’s the depth of the stitches that explains why garter stitch requires more yarn to cover the same area. In garter stitch, your stitches are deeper. More yarn goes into making a thicker, stretchier fabric. The image on the left shows the same swatches as above with three rows of stockinette colored orange and three ridges of garter colored magenta.

 

Here’s when you want to keep stitch proportion in mind:

  1. When you’re checking your stitch gauge and row gauge. Stitch gauge refers to stitches per inch measured horizontally. Row gauge refers to stitches per inch measured vertically. Many patterns only require matching a stitch gauge for sizing because they instruct you to knit for 10 inches as opposed to 50 rows, for example.
  2. When you’re picking up stitches along a side edge. Skip every 5th stitch (or every 2nd for garter stitch) along the side for a smooth, unpuckered fabric.
  3. When you’re seaming a cast on/bind off edge to a side edge. Skip every 5th stitch (or every 2nd for garter stitch) along the side edge for a neat seam.
  4. When you’re designing a chart for colorwork or surface decoration. If you use regular graph paper (like a cross stitch chart), remember that the design will appear vertically squished.

Knit stitch graph paper is designed with boxes that reflect the typical knit stitch proportions. Download knit stitch graph paper at theknittingsite.com.

More technical gems of wisdom from the blog:

 

Summer Knitting Daydreams

My Cullum sweater in progress.

You may associate knitting with winter. Maybe you don’t even believe in summer knitting. I myself am hopelessly in love with warm, fuzzy fibers like alpaca and cashmere. The ones you want to wrap yourself in when it’s chilly outside. There is this delightful image always lingering in my mind of a woodstove, a cup of steaming tea, an oversized blanket, snowflakes, snuggly kitties, comfort, gratitude and yarn – lots and lots of yarn. You know – the definition of hygge. Jennifer wrote about it once

But let’s get back to summer knitting. Imagine this instead – an elegant lightweight top knit in linen, an ethereal shawl draped around your shoulders while you take a stroll outside in the evening, or a lacy cover-up to wear while knitting on the beach and sipping icy lemonade. You can wear your hand-knits in the summer too.

Today, I’m in the midst of a summer sweater called Cullum, designed by Quince & Co. for their sport-weight 100% linen yarn, Sparrow. It’s the first time I’ve worked with linen. It behaves differently from wool – it’s not springy. Instead, it’s slick and drapey. It almost feels rough in the skein, but it’s not. It’s just the lack of elasticity that I’m unaccustomed to.

We have a few light, summery yarns for sale at the shop, each with their merits, but Sparrow is the one that most resoundingly shouts summer, in my humble opinion. Linen is a summer fiber. I associate it with elegance and warm-weather daydreams.

Above: The Arena Cardigan by Norah Gaughan, and the Shoals Tank by Carrie Bostick Hoge, also designed for Quince & Co. Sparrow. There are an impressive array of designs for Sparrow available on Ravelry.

Are you in getting in the mood yet? I don’t know about you, but I was also inspired by the latest issues of Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits. This summer, both magazines featured stunning but uncomplicated lace shawls and sweaters with a delicate, classically feminine vibe. I love it. I really love it. If you’ve been in the shop lately, you might have already heard me gushing about this issue of Interweave Knits. Here, you can even preview the patterns on Ravelry.

And by the way, we have a whole album of light and dreamy summer knits on Ravelry. You really can knit and wear your knits all year long.