We’ve been looking through the results from our survey and have seen some interesting comments.Since we’re always interested in feedback about how we can do better, we’re also thinking of ways we can follow the advice we’ve gotten through the survey.At the same time, we’re realizing that asking questions about how we can communicate better are giving us results about how much we’re not effectively communicating now.We had a lot of requests to start doing things that we’re already doing.That lets us know that we need to do a better job of letting everyone know what’s going on.
We had several respondents say that they would like more beginner classes, more, technique classes, more design classes, more free classes, more classes.I want to take this opportunity to let everyone know what we’re already doing and what we’re going to be doing starting right now.
Our weekly newsletter is the best way to keep track of what’s going on at OTR.
For the downright beginner, we have a “Learn to Knit 5 Minute Guarantee” lesson that can be scheduled any time Mim is in the shop.It takes a little bit longer than 5 minutes to learn to knit, purl, cast on and bind off.That’s why we have Drop In Class every Monday and Thursday evening from 5-7 pm.You can come in with any question, project, goal, or agenda and we’ll tailor instruction just for you.We have so few people taking advantage of this time that you may be the only one there.That means you get 2 hours of instruction all to yourself or maybe with one or two other people, then you can segue right in to Stitch and Spin night until 8:30.
If the Monday and Thursday evening time slots absolutely don’t work for you, we offer 15 Minute Mini-Classes any time you care to schedule one.These Mini-Classes are also tailored to you personally and cover anything you want to cover.The only requirement is that we be open and there be two people here in the shop (that way, one person can devote all their attention to you and the other can help other customers.)From beginner basics all the way through to the most complex, advanced technique, you name it and we’ll teach it in one or more sessions.
Our comfy chairs up front get a lot of use during classes, social groups and spontaneous knitting time.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the absolute basics, we offer Technique Classes almost every Saturday from 2-4.There are single topic classes and series, there are project-based classes and classes that cover techniques only.The more popular the topic, or the more important we think it is for you to learn it, the more frequently we offer a class.For example, “Be The Boss of Your Socks” is offered at least three times a year because there are always more people who want to learn to make socks, and “Finishing School” comes around on the calendar at least three times a year because we think everyone can benefit from some attention to washing, blocking, and seaming.We let you know what’s coming up for classes on our Events page here on the website, the Events page on our Facebook page, through the newsletter, with in-store signage and through community bulletin boards.
If we offer classes and no one comes, we assume the topic is of no interest and shuffle it to the bottom of our idea pile.We’re always willing to expand our offerings or bring things back from the discard pile if there is interest.In fact, most of our class ideas come from customer comments in the store.You can tell us what you want through comments here on the website, or comments on our Facebook page, or in the shop. In addition we’ll be offering a paper evaluation form at each of our classes from now on, and one of the questions on that form will be, “What other classes would you like to take at OTR?”
Want to learn to make polymer clay buttons?
We’ll also schedule a formal two-hour private class on any topic you like at any time you like if you and four friends want to come together.Teens, retirees, families, veterans or circus performers who want to knit their own leotards, we’ll create a class just for you on any topic you like as long as there are five of you.Call the shop or drop by and we’ll discuss the details and schedule your own private yarn party.
Because several people have asked, we’ll be offering Tuesday evening classes as well starting next week.Beginner Lace will be February 9, 5:30-7:30 and Traveling Stitches will be February 23, 5:30-7:30.In March, we’ll be offering “Finishing School” on March 1, 5:30-7:30, and “Be The Boss of Your Socks” on March 15, 5:30-7:30.If those classes are well attended, we’ll expand the offerings.
We offer 12 original free patterns with free instruction for 12 weeks of every year.
In addition to formal classes, we offer The 12 Weeks of Christmas small project knit-alongs from the first week in October through the middle of December.The patterns are free and so is the instruction.We only ask that you buy your yarn from us as we’ve designed the projects around specific yarns.Many weeks during the season we have no one there.This leads us to think that there is no interest.But I promise, if folks really want to show up, we’d be willing to expand 12 Weeks of Christmas to 12 Month ofChristmas with small project knit-alongs, free patterns and free instruction if you get your yarn at OTR.Get back to me on when would be a good time to start and how many of you are willing to be here.
If you just want to be around other knitters to ask and answer questions in a social setting, we have Stitch and Spin circles on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-8:30 pm, Wendesday morning from 10 am-Noon, and a new group that has spontaneously started coming on Thursday starting at Noon-ish.You can come in at any of those times and be assured of lots of companionship and support.Or the comfy chairs are always here, and the staff is always willing, so you can come in and just sit and knit a spell and ask quick questions on the fly whenever you have the time and feel inspired.
For those of you who live far away and can’t make it in, we are looking into webinar formats to be able to offer online classes.We’ll be getting our first on-line class up and running by the end of March.Watch the Events pages for times and details.
A customer winds his yarn into a ball at Over the Rainbow Yarn.
As a side note, we had several men comment that they felt awkward or unwelcome being the only guy around.Notice I said “several men?”Well, there are more of you than you think, and if only one or two of you would come hang out, the others would no longer feel like they are the only ones.Paul?Daniel?Cliff?Steven?Chris and Cooper?Bill?Any of you want to sponsor a manly contingent and give the other guys permission to come out of the shadows?
We consider ourselves fiber evangelists.We want to do whatever it takes for you to start, commit to, or sustain a fiber lifestyle.If you have a idea that we are not already doing, please let me know and we’ll bend over backwards to fulfill your fiber dreams.
It won’t surprise you at all that we have customers come in every day asking for help with their knitting. We love to oblige. But there are a few common, one might even say universal rookie mistakes that it’s so easy to avoid, once you know what to look for.
#1 The Accidental Yarn Over:
When you knit a stitch, your yarn travels from the back of your work, around the back of the back needle, and naturally falls to the back.
When you purl a stitch, your yarn travels from the front of the stitch, around the front of the front needle and naturally falls to the front.
If your yarn starts in front of your work when you knit, an extra loop of yarn gets wrapped around your needle. This extra loop is not anchored at the bottom to the row that came before. It will increase your stitch count by one and leave a hole underneath it. (NOTE: this extra loop is also called a yarn over and is the essential component of lace where you want the holes!)
The most common time for these yarn overs to appear is when you set your knitting down or put it in your project bag. The working yarn can easily slip from one side of your work to the other and never cause a problem. Then when you pick your work back up again, you don’t realize that the yarn is on the opposite side from where you want it and knit blithely on, only noticing rows and rows on that you have a hole and too many stitches.
To Fix It: To avoid adding stitches and holes when you didn’t want them, just make sure that the yarn is in back when you are forming a knit stitch, or in the front when you are forming a purl stitch.
#2 The Accidental Short Row: If you stop knitting in the middle of a row, turn your work around and go back across the partial row you just knitted you have worked what we call a Short Row. It makes the stitches you just worked two rows further on than the stitches you didn’t finish.
Like the yarn over, it will leave a small hole though the yarn over hole will be round-ish and the short row hole will be more like a vertical slit. (NOTE: short rows are an essential component of sock heels and bust shaping where you want some parts of your knitting to be taller than others!)
The most common time for these short rows to appear is also when you set your work down in the middle of a row. To avoid making these accidental short rows, always look at your work when you pick it up. Find the working yarn and follow it toward your needles and find the stitch it is leading straight to. This is the last stitch you worked.
To Fix It: Put the last stitch you worked, and the needle it is riding on, in your right hand and proceed to knit as you always do, confident that you are going the right way!
#3 The Backwards Stitch Mount: If you look closely at a knit stitch when it’s lying flat, you will see it has two legs. When a stitch is on the needle, it is turned in profile and the right leg is closest to you and you knit into it from front to back. But some times you can see or feel that there is something just…well, weird and funky about a stitch. It might feel too tight when you begin to knit it. If you look closely at it, you can see that it is riding on your needle with its left leg closest to you.
Sometimes this happens when you are picking up stitches that have slipped off you needle. Sometime it can happen if you wrap your yarn around your needle in a clockwise rather than counter-clockwise motion. Either way, there is nothing to worry about.
To Fix It: Simply slip the stitch off the needle and put it back on so the right leg is closest to you. Or, better yet, just knit it through the right leg even if the right leg is in the back.
These are the simplest ways to avoid rookie mistakes and really start to be the boss of your knitting!
If you’re new at this knitting thing, it can help a lot to know where to look for patterns and how to figure out which patterns are going to be suited to your skill level. So here’s a round up of our favorite patterns for beginners. For all of these projects, choose a worsted weight yarn in a color that inspires you and US size 7 or 8 needles.
Doing the most basic knitting stitches produces rectangle-shaped swathes of fabric, and you’ll notice that all of these projects consist of simple rectangles.
#1 The Scarf — A scarf is a great way to get started. There’s no shaping or seaming. Nothing fancy or difficult. At is’s basic best, you can knit every row until it’s long enough or you run out of yarn. If you’re ready for a little bit more of a challenge, you can add to your skill level in gentle increments. Start this way:
Cast on 24 stitches. Knit every stitch, every row. It’s just that easy. Good old garter stitch has a simplicity and charm that are hard to resist.
To increase the challenge without driving yourself crazy, try adding some stripes. Just break off the old color (always leaving a 3-4 inch tail to weave in later) and start knitting with the new one. Or make your whole scarf in Knit 1-Purl 1 ribbing. It’s just like it sounds; knit 1 stitch, then purl 1 stitch, then knit 1, then purl 1, knit 1, purl 1, k1, p1 (see what I did there? now you know the abbreviation for 1×1 ribbing)
(Photo from Deb Stoller on Ravelry with and actual pattern here) #2 The Cowl — If you think about it, a cowl is just a scarf that has been attached at the ends. So you can do that. Knit a scarf just like the one in #1, and when it’s long enough, sew the ends together. Keep it kind of short and it’s a neck warmer. Make it long and it’s and Infinity Scarf. Flip one end over one time before you sew both ends together and it’s a mobius.
(Photo from Patons Yarn on Ravelry with actual pattern here. NOTE: this pattern uses chunky yarn and bigger needles, but the principle is the same.)
#3 The Hat — Once again, if you think about it, a hat is a tube that has been gathered together at one end. And a tube is just a rectangle with its ends sewn together. The only challenge here is that there is some fit to a hat. A human adult sized head is about 22 inches around. So you’ll need to make sure you cast on enough stitches to go around. Pick a worsted weight yarn and try it this way:
Cast on between 90 and 100 stitches. Obviously, the bigger the head, the more stitches you cast on. Knit every stitch, every row until you have 9-12 inches (9 inches if you don’t want to roll up the edge, 12 inches if you want a deep cuff, in between if you want in between.) When you’ve gone far enough, break off your yarn leaving a really long tail (about two feet long). Sew the tail through all the stitches on your needle (before you even bind off) and pull tight, like a drawstring. Then sew the sides together until it looks like a hat.
To increase the challenge, you can work the same variations you worked on your scarf from #1.
(Photo from Lion Brand Yarn on Revelry with pattern here. NOTE: this pattern uses a chunky yarn and bigger needles, but the principle is the same.) #4 The Fingerless Mitts — And if you think about rectangles and how they can fit around your neck and head, it’s not such a leap to figure out how they fit around your wrist and hand. The only tricky part is the thumb…and even that isn’t all that tricky. Try this…
Cast on as many stitches as you want to to make it as long as you want your mitts to be from the base of your fingers up your arm (usually about 8-10 inches, so 40-50 stitches.) Knit until your piece will go around your hand. Bind off and sew the edges together leaving a hole in your stitching for your thumb to stick out.
Are you sensing a pattern here? Simple rectangles can make almost any kind of garment.
(Photo from Erin Amelia on Ravelry with pattern here)
#5 The Boot Toppers/Leg Warmers — Just like the mitts in #4 only make it big enough to go around your leg and when you sew it up, don’t leave a hole for your thumb. Try this…
Cast on enough stitches to go from the top of your foot to as high on your leg as you want the warmers. Knit until your piece goes all the way around your leg. Bind off. Sew the bind off edge to the cast on edge.
(Photo from Crafty Times blog with pattern here. NOTE: Again, this pattern uses chunky yarn and bigger needles.)
#6 The Slippers — You can make a rectangle into a slipper. Of course you can. Try this…
Cast on 5 stitches for every inch your foot is long. Knit until your piece is long enough to go from the inside of your ankle, down under your foot then up to the outside of your ankle. Bind off. Fold your piece in half with the cast on edge touching the bind off edge. Sew one side together just as it’s laying. Sew over-under through the stitches of the other side and pull them together like a draw string. Then sew up from the gathered toe across the top of the foot until it is as closed as you want it, leaving an opening big enough for your foot to go through.
(Photo from handepande on Ravelry with pattern here. NOTE: This pattern has decrease at the toe. You can do them or not as you choose)
#7 Part A: The Vest/Sweater — Okay, this one takes a bit of math, but a vest is, at its most basic, two rectangles; one for the front, one for the back. And a sweater just adds two more rectangles; one for each sleeve. Try this…
Measure around the widest part of your chest. Round up to the nearest whole number and add four inches for ease. Divide this number in half. Cast on 5 stitches for each inch and knit until it’s as long as you want from neck to hem. Then do it again. Now you have a front and a back. Lay these two pieces flat with the bound off edges touching each other. Sew these edges together leaving an opening big enough to put your head through. Voila!
(Photo from Elizabeth Smith on Ravelry with pattern here)
#7 Part B: Add Sleeves — If you want to make a complete sweater, measure around the widest part of your upper arm and add 4 inches for ease. Cast on 5 stitches for each inch and knit until it is as long as you want your sleeves. Bind off. Now do it again. Lay each sleeve so that the center of the bound off edge meets the shoulder seam you have already sewn on the body of your sweater. Sew each sleeve to the body. then sew the long seam on each side that runs from the wrist edge of the sleeve up to the body then straight down to the lower hem. You’ll have a perfectly lovely drop shoulder tunic with kimono style sleeves…beautiful and right on trend.
(Photo from Dorthe Skapple on Ravelry with pattern here. NOTE: this pattern has ribbing at the cuffs, but you don’t have to do it.)
As your skills grow, you’ll be able to add increasing and decreasing to shape your pieces and make more complex garments. But you don’t need to wait. Go ahead and try your hand as these simple projects and see how far you can get with basics.