Thursday, February 23, 2017

Knitting Tutorial: M1L & M1R Increases

There are several ways to increase stitches when knitting.  

This tutorial focuses on the "make one" technique which can be used to make a left leaning stitch or a right leaning stitch.

This tutorial is for increases made with knit stitches (not purl stitches)...working knitwise.

How to: M1L = make one stitch left leaning (knitwise)

Make one (1) stitch by picking up the ladder stitch from the front and knitting through the back of the stitch. 

Step by step instructions...

1. Separate the needles slightly to locate the ladder between stitches:

Step 1: locate ladder between stitches
2. With the left hand needle, pick up the ladder by inserting needle from the front towards the back.

Step 2: pick up ladder stitch from the FRONT
3. Knit this picked up stitch by inserting the right hand needle through the back of stitch.

Step 3: insert right hand needle through BACK of stitch
4. Wrap the right hand needle and complete as for a knit stitch.  One new left leaning stitch made!

Step 4: wrap right hand needle & complete as for a knit stitch

How to: M1R = make one stitch right leaning (knitwise)

Make one (1) stitch by picking up the ladder stitch from the back and knitting through the front of the stitch.

Step by step...

1. Separate the needles slightly to locate the ladder between stitches:

Step 1: locate the ladder between the stitches
2. With left hand needle, pick up the ladder by inserting the needle from the back towards the front.

Step 2: insert needle from the BACK to pick up ladder
3. Knit this picked up stitch by inserting the right hand needle through front of stitch.

Step 3: knit by inserting right hand need thru FRONT
4. Wrap needle and complete as for a knit stitch.  One new right leaning stitch made!

Step 4: wrap needle & complete as for a knit stitch

Here's an example of completed M1 stitches:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Favorite Photos from the #YarnLoveChallenge

As you may have read in my previous post, this month I am participating in the #yarnlovechallenge over on Instagram. The organizers of this fiber themed challenge came up with themes for each day of the month in February 2017 and encouraged any yarn enthusiasts to share their photos related to the themes. It's been so fun to participate and I particularly like the themes for the second week of February and thought it would be fun to share a few of those photos here on the case you missed them.  

The theme for day 8 of the #yarnlovechallenge was "where I craft".  This photo was taken in my home studio where I spend a lot of my time.

My home studio.
I bought the sturdy, white table for my first college apartment many years ago.  This table is fantastic for crafting.  I love the durable white surface and it fits in right next to a big east facing window so I have lots of natural light.  My husband built an awesome desk and cabinets that run along the wall (behind the table).  That's where I have my computer and printer.  We live in an old house and this room was originally the kitchen when the house was built in the 1940's.  In case you are wondering...the grey blanket draped on the chair in the center of the photo is my Over the Rooftops blanket knitting pattern.  The blue blanket on the table was made using my free knitting pattern...The Boulevard Blanket.  The blue yarn is Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'Washington Denim'.

The theme for day 9 of the #yarnlovechallenge was "tools".  I love knitting tools!  It was fun to create a flatlay design using some of my favorite knitting a few old treasures...

Some of my favorite knitting tools.
The Susan Bates US 13 straight knitting needles on the right are from the 1980's.  I haven't used them in years!  These days I primarily use circular knitting needles for flat knitting (working back and forth just like with straight needles) and double pointed needles for hats and other small in the round projects. My stitch markers, tape measure, tapestry needles and old Susan Bates gauge ruler are a few of my most used little tools.  I use a clip board with paper or a simple spiral notebook to keep notes when I am working on a new knitting design. I always have several ballpoint pens and basic pencils handy for taking notes, editing patterns, jotting down pattern name ideas, etc.

The theme for day 10 brought back a lot of memories..."oldest stash".  I pulled out my bin of really old yarn and dug to the very bottom to find some of these yarn treasures from the 1980's...

My oldest stash yarn.
I bought a lot of this yarn when I was in high school and college when I worked a couple summers in a little yarn shop.  Apparently I spent a lot of my earnings on yarn!  I knit mohair sweaters with the ivory and blue yarns (top corners).  A mohair sweater sounds dreadfully itchy to me today!  But...I did wear those sweaters. The raspberry colored yarn is alpaca and I knit a very soft, over-sized sweater for myself with that yarn.  I used the medium gray blue yarn (center) to knit a short sleeved pullover top that I wore many times in the spring and summer.  The greenish and gray blue yarns in the lower right of the photo are Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted. I knit many sweaters with various colors of this reliable yarn back in the 80's and 90's.  In more recent years, I used up some of my leftover Lamb's Pride Worsted by knitting hats and mittens for my kids.  The ivory ribbon marketed for knitting and crochet was purchased in the 80's.  I never used it for knitting so these days I use it for wrapping packages and as a background prop in my knitting photos.

"Travel Projects" was the theme for day 11.  My favorite travel project is to visit a local yarn shop and bring home some beautiful yarn as a memento of the trip. I also love going to local book stores when I'm on a trip. Books and yarn are my favorite souvenirs!

The Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas & Purl Soho in New York City.
 Last weekend I took a day trip to Lawrence, Kansas with my daughter.  It's only about 40 minutes from our house.  We went to Mass Street Music for her to check out some guitar accessories.  It's a really nice guitar store!  We also stopped in The Yarn Barn which is a lovely little yarn shop on Massachusetts Street.  (Locals call it "Mass Street".)  The Yarn Barn carries a great selection of yarn for knitting and crochet, as well as a huge section of supplies for weaving. (If you are interested, they print a beautiful annual catalog filled with their products.) I bought some beautiful yarn...see photo below.  One year ago I went to New York City and loved having the opportunity to go to Purl Soho. Their wall of yarn is gorgeous!  (FYI: check Purl Soho's hours before you go...when we were there they did not open until noon.)  Also...I would suggest previewing their yarn online before you go so you have an idea of what to look at first.  There's so much to see in this small but well stocked store!

Here's the gorgeous yarn I purchased at The Yarn Barn last weekend.  It's Malabrigo Rasta - a super bulky weight yarn that is kettle dyed.  The color is called 'Solis'. I'm making plans for this yarn!

Malabrigo Rasta - kettle dyed yarn in 'Solis' #809
Now I should get back to working on one of my knitting projects. I have a couple things in the works. idea has been slow to come together.  Trying new ideas takes time and patience!

If you would like to see more behind the scenes photos and follow along with the #yarnlovechallenge follow me on Instagram...@fiftyfourtenstudio.

Hope you have a wonderful week!  Happy Valentine's Day!  Happy knitting!

Mary Lee
Fifty Four Ten Studio

Monday, February 6, 2017

Three Year Blog Anniversary!

This week marks three years since I started this Fifty Four Ten Studio knitting blog!  It's been such a fun way to share my knitting patterns, extra details about my patterns, knitting tips and behind the scenes photos of my work in progress. It also helps me record my progress on my knitting endeavors. I really appreciate all who have read my blog!

This month I'm participating in a fun "challenge" on Instagram called the #yarnlovechallenge. If you have not heard about it...the organizers set up the @yarnlovechallenge Instagram page and posted a list of themes for each day for the month of February 2017.  The idea is for any yarn enthusiasts to share photos based on the daily theme.  Themes include: "currently making", "stripes", "where I craft", "tools", "happy color", "yarn love", and more. They came up with a great list of ideas and it's been fun to decide what to share on each day.

In case you are not in Instagram, I thought it would be fun to share a couple of the photos I used...

The theme for Day 1 of the #yarnlovechallenge was "introductions".  This is a photo of me taken on the first day of school...either 2nd or 3rd grade.  I picked this photo because my mother taught me to knit when I was about this age.  As a girl I loved to sew, design clothes for my dolls, knit draw and paint.  I love this navy blue sailor dress, my metal lunch box, the red ribbons in my hair, the wallpaper in the kitchen of my childhood home, and the umbrella hanging on the all brings back a lot of wonderful memories.

The theme for Day 5 of the challenge was "community".  I made a collage of favorite photos that all relate to my community...Kansas City.  I have lived in the Kansas City area my entire life.  I love my hometown!  We're right in the middle of the US...some call this "fly over country" but those of us who have lived here a long time know we have a lot that makes our city special....friendly people, great BBQ, the amazing Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the Kansas City Royals baseball team and so much more.  See below for details on this collage of photos.

Kansas City - my community - my hometown. 
Here's the details on this photo collage...starting at the top left and working row by row:

1. The Parkway Pillow - my knitting pattern named for Ward Parkway, one of the prettiest and most well known streets in Kansas City.

2. Meyer Circle Fountain - it's located along Ward Parkway and is representative of the many fountains in our city.  Kansas City is known as "the city of fountains".

3. Brookside Blanket knitting pattern - named for the neighborhood where I grew up.

4. Shuttlecock sculptures at the Nelson-Atkin's Museum of Art - our world class art museum!  These sculptures were very controversial when they were installed in 1994.  Now, they are a KC landmark!

5. My Third Street Blanket knitting pattern - the name was inspired by the old River Market area in KC.

6. Sunflowers in Kansas - a photo I took at Grinter Farms in September 2016.  Their sunflower farm is absolutely beautiful...but best to avoid the crowds by going out there during the week.

7. My Westport Blanket knitting pattern - named for one of the oldest neighborhoods in Kansas City.

8. State Line Road - about half of the KC metropolitan area is located in Missouri and half in Kansas.  (I live in Kansas!)

9. The Boulevard Blanket - my free knitting pattern named in honor of our beautiful KC boulevards.  An old promotional slogan for KC was "More boulevards than Paris, more fountains than Rome."

The theme for Day 4 of the #yarnlovechallenge was "speed".  I used this photo...more below...

The Boulevard Blanket - a free knitting pattern.
In terms of speed as it relates to knitting...I am a very slow knitter and I'm ok with that!  I've seen videos on Instagram of knitters who knit so fast it makes me anxious.  It doesn't look relaxing at all to me!  For me knitting is about the process...not about how quickly I finish a project.

The pattern I used for the blue blanket above is my always free pattern...The Boulevard Blanket.  It's very easy to knit with super bulky yarn.  The yarn I used is Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'Washington Denim'.  This yarn is so soft and cozy.  It's very economical but don't let the low price fool.  The price is low but the quality is nice.  It's not "sticky" like some acrylic yarns.  I really enjoy knitting with this yarn!  It comes in a wide variety of colors.  I particularly like the softer, muted colors like 'Dallas Grey', 'Houston Cream' and 'Washington Denim'.

I have a couple of projects in the works right now.  Sorry no details ready to share yet but I'm really excited them and I'll post info as soon as it's ready!

January 2017 was a record month for my pattern sales on Ravelry, Etsy and Craftsy!  I am so appreciative of all the purchases and kind feedback on my patterns!  THANK YOU! 

In the past couple weeks, I've enjoyed helping a couple of knitters via their email questions. One knitter told me that she taught herself to knit using online videos. I was so impressed especially because her stitches were so well done with very even tension. It's very hard to teach a new knitter how to achieve even tension! I was so happy to be able to help her as she worked on my Where the Sidewalk Ends blanket.  I was thrilled to receive her email a couple days ago with a photo of her beautiful finished blanket!  If you ever have any questions when using one of my patterns, email me using the email address provided in the pattern. I'm happy to help!

Thanks so much for reading this long post!  If you would like to know more about the #yarnlovechallenge you can check out the @yarnlovechallenge Instagram page or see all my photos related to the challenge on my Instagram page.

Have a great week!  Happy knitting! :)

Mary Lee
Fifty Four Ten Studio

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New Chunky Blanket Knitting Pattern: Over the Rooftops

I'm so excited to announce my new blanket knitting pattern called "Over the Rooftops".  This chunky blanket is quick and easy to knit with super bulky yarn.  I really enjoyed knitting this blanket!

Over the Rooftops blanket knitting pattern.
The pattern is available on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.

If you are a fan of the movie Mary Poppins then you have probably guessed the inspiration for the name of this pattern.  One of my favorite scenes is when Bert (played by Dick Van Dyke) and the chimney sweeps dance to the song "Step in Time"...which includes the words "over the rooftops".  I love watching them dance across the rooftops of London. The texture of this blanket reminded me of city rooftops!

Over the Rooftops - chunky texture with super bulky yarn.
I love knitting blankets with super bulky yarn.  For this blanket I used Lion Brand Hometown USA super bulky yarn in the color 'Dallas Grey'.  This yarn is very economically priced so you can knit a blanket without spending a fortune!  The yarn is very soft and cozy. I really enjoy knitting with this yarn.

One thing to know about this blanket...I highly recommend blocking the finished blanket!  The stitch pattern in the center of the blanket tends to pull together ribbing style if it is not blocked.

Here's what my blanket looked like before blocking...

Blanket before blocking...knitting bunches together in the center.
Notice how the center of the blanket bunches together. Taking the time to block the finished blanket makes a huge difference in the appearance of this design.  Blocking your knitting is not hard!  Allow about 20 - 30 minutes for setting up the blocked blanket and about 2 to 4 days for it to dry.

Here is the same blanket after blocking...

Over the Rooftops blanket - after blocking.
How to block a blanket...

1. Soak the blanket for several minutes in cold water in the kitchen sink.  (I cleaned the sink first!)

2. Pull the plug to allow the water to drain out.  Let the blanket sit for a few minutes to allow excess water to drain off a bit.  Do not wring or twist the knitting.

3. Set the blanket on an old towel for a few minutes to drain off excess water.

4. Set up blocking mats on a carpeted or water resistant floor (don't set up on hardwood floors!).

Last year I purchased two sets of POCO-DIVO "child play mats" on Amazon.  Each set includes nine 12" mats that fit together like puzzle pieces.  I have two sets so I have enough pieces to make a mat large enough to block large blankets. These were the most inexpensive option I could find when I purchased them.  There are other similar products available...this set with grid lines and included T-pins looks very nice.

5. Carefully unfold the wet blanket and spread it out on the blocking mat.  At first your blanket will likely look a bit messy and uneven...

6. Spend some time carefully adjusting the blanket.  Use the edges of the mat and a ruler as a guide to make the edges very straight.  Check the stitches in the center of the blanket and adjust as necessary to make the rows straight and even.  Use rust resistant T-pins or other blocking pins to pin the edges in place.  Here's what my blanket looked like after I pinned it to the mat...

I usually set up a fan next to the wet blanket to try to expedite the drying process.  It can take 2 to 4 days for a large blanket to dry depending on the yarn, air temperature, etc.  It's worth the wait!

Here's another photo of the blanket after blocking...

Over the Rooftops blanket - knit with Lion Brand Hometown USA super bulky yarn
The pattern includes instructions for five blanket sizes.  Approximate sizes after blocking:

XL Afghan: 57" wide x 60" long
Large Throw: 48.75" wide x 48.75" long
Medium Throw: 43" wide x 45" long
Small Crib / Lap Blanket: 37.25 wide x 40" long
Baby Blanket: 31.25" wide x 35" long

Any of the blankets may be made longer by adding additional pattern repeats.  In the pattern I have included estimates for additional yardage needed to make blankets longer.

This pattern will work well with many super bulky yarns. As noted above, I used Lion Brand Hometown USA.  Other options include Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick (available on Craftsy and at many U.S. craft stores) or Loops & Threads Cozy Wool (available at Michael's Craft Store).

I recommend using a solid color yarn so the texture of the pattern shows up best.

This is an easy pattern to knit.  Even with an easy pattern, stitch markers are helpful for keeping track of the pattern changes. The green circle markers shown in the photo below are Clover Jumbo Ring Stitch Markers.

Stitch markers are helpful even with a fairly easy pattern.
I started designing and knitting this blanket over the New Year's weekend.  I really enjoyed knitting this design and I am thrilled with how the blanket turned out.  It's super soft, chunky and cozy!

The Over the Rooftops blanket knitting pattern is available on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.

If you enjoy knitting chunky blankets with super bulky yarn you might also like my other blanket patterns including Third Street Blanket, Westport Blanket and Belleview Blanket.  You can also see all of my blanket patterns on Ravelry.

Thanks so much for reading!  Happy knitting!

Mary Lee
Fifty Four Ten Studio

Ready to weave in ends on my new chunky blanket design.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January: Knitting, Reading & Early Spring Cleaning

I'm working on a new blanket design this week.  I can't show too much of the design yet but I'm really pleased with how it's coming together.  I'm nearly finished knitting the blanket so I hope to be ready to share more details in the near future.  I'm using Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'Dallas Gray' for this new blanket.  Here's a sneak peek...seed stitch border for the blanket...

This week: knitting, reading & drinking hot tea.
I often use favorite objects from around my house in my knitting photos.  In the photo above there's an old 8 oz. weight that brings back fond memories of going to antique fairs with my dad.  I include this weight in many of my photos...I just love the simple, round shape and the way it anchors the white background. The old mason jar has an assortment of buttons...some were my grandmother's. 

I've been reading "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain.  I highly recommend this book!  The section about the power of working alone and how it sparks creativity is especially interesting to me.  If you are an introvert, live with an introvert, work with introverts, are the parent of an should check out this book. (Just a coincidence that the book cover matches my yarn perfectly!)

Westport Blanket - an easy to knit blanket.
This month I'm also trying to get caught up on sorting through piles of stuff that accumulated over the holidays (and for months and years before that!). The photo above was taken in the now peacefully organized guest room in our house.  I painted this room last fall so that forced me to empty everything out of the room and carefully evaluate what would go back in. (Within the next couple months I hope to do the same to at least one other room!) The gray blanket in the photo is my Westport Blanket knit with Hometown USA in 'Dallas Grey'. I love how this chunky blanket looks tossed at the end of the bed.  And, in case you are wondering, the white duvet cover and pillow shams are from IKEA (purchased fall 2016).  I made the Peace Pillow when I designed my "Peace : Love : Home" pillow knitting pattern a couple years ago.  The pillow cover is knit with super bulky yarn. The letters are cut from felt and stitched on with DMC embroidery floss.  

If you like seeing behind the scenes photos like the ones included on this post, follow me on Instagram.  

Happy knitting!  
Mary Lee
Fifty Four Ten Studio

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Favorite Knitting Pattern Highlights from 2016

Today I'm reflecting on all that I accomplished and enjoyed in 2016.  It was a great year!  I enjoyed many fun times throughout the year with my family and dear friends. I did pretty well keeping up my goal of walking every day and trying to reach 10,000 steps each day.  My FitBit does a great job of motivating me and keeping me accountable on that goal! 

In the knitting department...2016 was a record year for Fifty Four Ten Studio!  My pattern sales for September thru December were outstanding!  I really appreciate all the purchases of my patterns and the kind feedback I have received from customers.  I recently celebrated my third year of designing knitting patterns.  I love what I am doing and feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to publish my patterns online.  I'm old enough to remember the days of relatively limited choices in knitting patterns which were primarily published in knitting magazines, yarn company pattern books and hardcover craft books.

I published nine new knitting patterns in 2016....eight easy to knit blankets and the Side Line Cowl.

These are three of my favorite easy to knit blankets from 2016...

Easy to knit blankets!
Top: Third Street Blanket - my best selling pattern in 2016!
Middle: Stones in the Road Blanket
Bottom: Westport Blanket

All of these blankets are knit with super bulky yarn and are very easy to knit.  All of these blankets have directions for five sizes so it's easy to make a baby blanket or a large throw.  These patterns are available on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.

In 2016, I also enjoyed knitting a few items using my previously published patterns.  I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in the lovely color 'Glacier' to make The Parkway Pillow.  I love how it turned out!  (See more about this project on my August 2016 blog post.)

The Parkway Pillow made with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in 'Glacier
In this first week of January 2017, I'm catching up after a fun holiday season.  I'm carefully packing away my collection of Christmas decorations.  All of my homemade ornaments get packed in a special box.  (If you missed it...I wrote about my homemade Christmas ornaments in December.)   Also, I am making lists of things to accomplish this year.  There's a few house projects on the list such as cleaning out all of the kitchen cabinets and painting a couple rooms.  I told my family my new year's goals are to read more and knit more!  Right now I'm reading "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"'s very interesting!

My list of knitting project ideas for 2017 is pretty long! This week I started working on a new blanket design.  I'm using Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'Dallas Grey'.  I'm looking forward to sharing more details as the pattern comes together!

New blanket design in progress.
I hope the new year is off to a great start for you!  Thank you so much for reading!
Happy knitting in 2017! :)

Mary Lee
Fifty Four Ten Studio

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" - Easy Blanket Knitting Pattern

I'm so excited to announce my newest blanket knitting pattern called "Where the Sidewalk Ends".  This blanket is very easy to knit with super bulky yarn.  The pattern is available on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" blanket knitting pattern.
The book "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein was one of my favorite childhood books.  I loved the quirky pen and ink illustrations and the clever poems.  The poem "Where the Sidewalk Ends" is a reminder to get off the beaten path and slow down...explore new places and find our own path...

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Quick and easy blanket knitting pattern.
This blanket was designed for my teenage daughter.  She loves simple, uncluttered design.  She loved the idea of a bright white blanket with a very simple stripe texture.  (She loves stripes...and I do also!)  The finished blanket looks fantastic in her room with her dark gray chair and light gray comforter.

The yarn I used is Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'New York White'.  This is a clean, bright white!  Hometown USA yarn is very soft and makes a great blanket for anyone.  This is a nice yarn choice for children or babies because it is 100% acrylic and according to the label is machine washable and dryable.  (I have not tried machine washing and will probably choose to hand wash when needed.)  

This pattern will also work well with other super bulky yarns including Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick or Loops & Threads Cozy Wool (sold at Michael's) well as many other super bulky yarns.  I suggest solid color yarns so the pattern shows up best.  

A couple stitch markers are helpful reminders for the easy pattern.
Hometown USA is a very economically priced yarn.  It is available in a wide assortment of colors and is sold at many US craft stores including JoAnn's, Michael's and Craftsy. I used 10 skeins of yarn.  One or two skeins did have a knot in the middle of the skein.  I choose not to let this bother me!  In order to sell the yarn at such an economical price the manufacturer has to make the most of all of the yarn!

The pattern includes instructions for five sizes...from very small baby blanket up to an XL throw/afghan.

Approximate sizes after blocking...
XL: 50" wide x 55" long
Large: 42" wide x 50" long
Medium: 37" wide by 47.5" long
Small (Crib/Lap): 34.25" wide x 35" long
Baby: 30" wide x 30" long

It's easy to make any of the blanket sizes longer by adding additional pattern repeats.  Each pattern repeat adds about 2.5" to the length of the blanket.  The pattern includes estimates for additional yardage needed to make each blanket size longer.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" blanket - easy to knit!
This pattern is very easy to knit!  With the super bulky yarn the chunky blanket knits up very quickly.  I finished knitting this blanket in only a few days.

I love the texture of the super bulky yarn!
I loved photographing this blanket!  We had brown butcher paper sitting out for wrapping Christmas gifts.  I spread a large piece out on my craft table to try as a background.  The brown paper is a fun contrast with the bright white blanket.

White yarn, red ribbon and simple brown paper.
 My "Where the Sidewalk Ends" blanket pattern is now available on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.

Thanks so much for reading.  Best wishes for happy holidays!