Knitting up the STASH    Tuesday, August 28, 2018

“My yarn stash is too large” – No Knitter, Ever

Except, maybe… me.

Ever since I’ve welcomed my son into my life, I’ve been feeling more and more like I need less and less “stuff”. There are a zillion reasons why… but I won’t unload them all onto you, tempted as I might be. This wave of a very light minimalism started with clothing and shoes and keeps expanding through my house to cooking items, cabinets, drawers, and closets. My favorite tool for measuring progress (other than seeing empty space or neatly stored useful items in closets) is my own printed chart of 2018 things to declutter in 2018, inspired by the Nourishing Minimalism Decluttering Challenge of 2018. To the right is a photo of my progress by the end of August. Each colored box represents one item gone. YEAH! I tried changing colors each month, but there were a couple of deep-cleaning months and I felt I earned a new color halfway through. 

So… How does the yarn fit into this? Knitting and crocheting are my favorite hobbies. They’re also my work and two of my creative outlets. But sometimes looking at so much yarn makes me feel less creative. Less happy. Yarn that I’ve had for 10 years or a project that’s been sitting half done for 3 years don’t bring me joy. They make me feel burdened. Additionally, if I’m designing a project, I certainly don’t want to use a yarn or color that has been discontinued. I realized a few months into my light minimalism phase that I needed to take control of this aspect of my clutter as well. I love my local shops and want to support them and will continue to buy new yarn. But, as with all of my shopping during this epic decluttering, I bring a mindfulness to the store with me about what comes home.

To the left is a photo of my yarn cabinet after it was tidied two years ago. At that time, I had about 2 more cabinets worth of yarn in a storage room in my studio. Some of these yarns have been sold or donated and some have been knit. Some still sit there, waiting for their fate to be decided. 


I plan to chronical what I’ve been doing with my yarns to declutter and curate my stash in a few blog posts. Here are the first four steps towards this:

First step: Lessen the load. I’ve been destashing yarns in my Etsy shop. I have also been donating a lot of yarn, books, needles, etc. to the knitting group at my town’s senior center. They are loving it. Their joy in receiving items matches my joy in offloading them. How do I decide what is for sale and what to give away? If it's a valuable yarn (nice fiber, hand-dyed) or if there's enough yarn to make a substantial project and/or it holds some sentimental value for me, I try to sell it. If it's inexpensive yarn that costs more to ship than to sell or yarn that I only have bits and pieces of, it is given away. 

Second step: Knit the random single skeins of certain yarns and colors that you just can't bear to part with. Turn that love of the color or fiber or yarn into an actual project. What a concept. I began this process by knitting a hoodie cardigan for my son in some single skeins and odds & ends I had accumulated in Filatura di Crosa “Zara”. It's one of my favorite yarns ever, which is probably why I have so much of it. Yes, present tense. I still have a lot, even after finishing this sweater. 

About the sweater: I worked a basic top-down sweater with 8-row stripes of varying colors. I didn’t want to have to make the sleeves match, so I made sure that the stripes in the front of the body wouldn’t always match, either. Hooray for intarsia! I was able to use about 300 grams of yarn and I found ROBOT BUTTONS in my button stash (*in robot voice* PERFECT). This project was 100% STASH. It's probably going to fit him when he's 6.

Third step: Pat myself on the back!

Fourth step: Repeat steps 1-3.


Ravelry Projects 2018 Post-A-Thon!    Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Have you knit something that I've designed? Please post those projects to Ravelry! For each finished project you post, I'll gift you another pattern for FREE!

Here's how it works:

For the remainder of 2018, if you knit one of my published designs* and create a project page for that finished project on Ravelry, I'll send you a coupon code through Ravelry messages to download another pattern for FREE from my Ravelry Shop**.

The only rules are that your project page must be linked to my pattern AND your project page must have at least one photo of the finished project. You don't need to rate my pattern 5 stars, but I'd love the ego boost ;)

Are you a super-duper-Shaina-pattern-knitter (and local)? Have you worked up 8 or more of my published designs and created Ravelry project pages? I'd love to give you a spot in one of my group classes on the house!*** This offer goes through the year... so start knitting and posting!

If you are a regular student of mine and think I might have photos of your project from my camera, a quick reminder in an email would be great.

Happy Posting - and, THANK YOU!!



* Published designs are designs that are attributed to me and/or are available for purchase (or free) on my website, Ravelry, or Etsy. These are available from multiple sources: some are self-published on Ravelry/Etsy/, others are published with Interweave or with Tahki/Stacy Charles, etc. A published design will have a pattern page on Ravelry that you can link your personal project page to. Custom designs do not qualify.

** Your free pattern gifts are self-published patterns from my Ravelry Store only. Patterns that have been published in knitting magazines or for knitting companies are excluded. The coupon codes expire on 1/31/2019.

*** Group class must be used before 1/31/2019. Please e-mail me once you've hit 8 pattern pages. One group class for free for every 8 separate finished project pages posted to Ravelry. Posting photos of 8 different necklaces under one "Gatsby Necklace" page counts as only one project page, whereas creating 8 different project pages for 8 different necklaces would count as 8 separate projects. 

Little Hats, Big Hearts    Saturday, October 29, 2016

I'll be collecting red baby hats to send to the NJ chapter of the American Heart Association in February for their "Little Hats, Big Hearts" initiative. The goal of the program is to raise awareness of Congenital Heart Defects. Babies born in February are given red hats in participating hospitals. For more information, to see if your state is participating, and for additional patterns for the hats, please visit:

Shaina's Ribbed Baby Hat for Little Hats, Big Hearts (SEAMED VERSION):

Materials: US 7 needle, worsted weight cotton or acrylic (washable) yarn, tapestry needle for seam.

Instructions: Cast on 54 stitches.

Row 1: k2, (p2, k2) repeat between ( ) to the end of the row.

Row 2: p2, (k2, p2) repeat between ( ) to the end of the row.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until piece measures 4” (or 6” if you want the brim to fold-up), after completing a row 2.

Crown Shaping:

Next row: k2tog, (p2tog, k2tog) repeat between ( ) to the end of the row. 27 stitches remain.

Next row: p1, (k1, p1) repeat between ( ) to the end of the row.

Next row: k1, (p1, k1) repeat between ( ) to the end of the row.

Next row: p1, (k1, p1) repeat between ( ) to the end of the row.

Next row: k1, (k2tog) repeat between ( ) to the end of the row. 14 stitches remain.

Finishing: Cut yarn leaving a 12” tail. Using a tapestry needle, pull the tail through the remaining stitches to secure them. Seam the hat and weave in tails. 

Shaina's Ribbed Baby Hat for Little Hats, Big Hearts (SEAMLESS VERSION):

Materials: US 7 DPN, worsted weight cotton or acrylic (washable) yarn, tapestry needle.

Instructions: Cast on 52 stitches and divide evenly among DPN. Join work in the round.

Round 1: (k2, p2) repeat between ( ) to the end of the row.

Repeat round 1 until piece measures 4” (or 6” if you want the brim to fold-up).

Crown Shaping:

Next round: (k2tog, p2tog) repeat between ( ) to the end of the round. 26 stitches remain.

Next 3 rounds: (k1, p1) repeat between ( ) to the end of the round.

Next round: (k2tog) repeat between ( ) to the end of the round. 13 stitches remain.

Finishing: Cut yarn leaving an 8” tail. Using a tapestry needle, pull the tail through the remaining stitches to secure them.  


Knitting Tool Bag Essentials    Wednesday, May 25, 2016

One question I'm asked a lot by students is: "what accessories and tools should I have in my knitting bag?" 

While the contents of my tool bag look like I'm prepping for knitting doomsday, there are essentials that every knitter should keep with their active projects. Nobody wants to pause their knitting session because they forgot to grab a pair of scissors. So...

Here it is, folks! A list of quintessential items for your knitting bag. I’m not talking yarn, needles, and patterns (we already have that covered, right?). I’m talking about the goodies that prepare you for (almost) anything you’ll encounter in a project or pattern. No more panicking that you don’t have a measuring tape! Stitch markers at the ready? Bring it on! I’m such an accessories person that a good project becomes a great project when one of these sheep stitch markers greets me at the beginning of every round. Use a pencil case or cosmetics bag to hold all of your gear and you can easily transfer your tools from one knitting bag to another. Marvelous! 

Here are the items that are crucial in your knitting bag:

Scissors – find a nice, sharp pair with a sheath to protect you from injuries while the scissor isn’t in use. Slip-N-Snip Scissors

Stitch markers – an assortment of sizes and styles is best. Get fixed rings in a variety of sizes for lace knitting. The lock-ring style can be used on the fabric itself as well as on the knitting needles. Lock-Ring Stitch Markers

Tapestry needle – my favorite tapestry needle for seaming and weaving in tails is the Chibi by Clover. The bent tip makes seaming a breeze! Clover Chibi 

Tape measure – use a flexible tape measure made of fiberglass or flexible plastic/fabric that measures in inches as well as centimeters (for European patterns). 60 Inch Tape Measure

Crochet hooks – an assortment is good for fixing mistakes. Try to get hook sizes that are close in size to the knitting needles you typically use. Example: if you tend to use a lot of worsted weight yarn, an “H” hook would be a good one to have. Susan Bates Silvalume Crochet Hook Set

Stitch holder – I like the double-ended stitch holders from Clover but the basic metal safety-pin style stitch holders work well, too. Double-Ended Stitch Holder

Needle gauge – Needle gauges verify knitting needle sizes and usually have a tension measurer, too. Be aware that there is a slight discrepancy in sizing for European 4.0 mm and American US 6 knitting needles. If you use European needles (Addi Turbo), get the Addi Needle Gauge and if you use American needles, get the Susan Bates Knit-Chek

Needle stoppers – if you ever work with a lot of stitches and worry about them falling off the needles, it is a good idea to keep a pair of needle stoppers in your bag. Point Protectors

Row counter – row counters, when necessary, are an incredible tool! Clover Mini Kacha-Kacha Row Counter

Spare yarn – for placing large amounts of stitches on hold, for working a lifeline, etc.

Highlighters – in multiple colors, highlighters can help you organize different instructions in knitting patterns. I especially love using them on charts and written patterns that use multiple stitches. Sharpie Highlighter Set

Button needles – small, blunt-tip tapestry needles are great to sew buttons on with. Clover Tapestry Needles

Going for some extra credit? Here are a few other items that are useful depending on the projects you tend to knit: cable needles, yarn bobbins for intarsia, calculator, large eye beading needles for beadwork, pom pom makers.


The Knitter's Pride Pattern Holder in small or large is also a great accessory. The magnetic board keeps your patterns upright as you knit and you can move the magnet to keep track of rows. This is particularly helpful for chart knitting! 


Happy knitting!

Forget to work a cable? Duplicate stitch to the rescue!    Tuesday, March 1, 2016

You’re knitting away happily, about to finish your project. Then, you look down and realize that about 20” into the thing you …FORGOT…A…FREAKING…CABLE…!

We’ve all been there. Maybe a riveting TV show was on while you were knitting. Maybe it was a tough day. Distracted or not, whatever the reason, cables were forgotten and you didn’t notice until it was too late to rip. In fact, it wasn’t until AFTER Gloria’s blanket came off of my blocking board that I noticed the missing cable.

Somehow cables can just sneak past us. Let’s face it: they’re twisted creatures to begin with.

Fortunately, there was a bit of yarn in the bag. Gloria had doubled the yarn for this project, so I threaded a double-strand of yarn onto my tapestry needle and began working a duplicate stitch over the section that was missing the cable. A left (front) cable was missing – so I began working the duplicate stitch from the first stitch on the right side and connecting it to the fourth stitch of the cable panel.

I then worked into the second stitch, the fifth, the third, and finally the sixth stitch. After connecting the appropriate stitches to create a mock-cable, I adjusted the tension to create a “row” of stitches. I then pushed the yarn tails to the WS and wove them in.

Shhhhh… our little duplicate stitch secret!

Other great uses for duplicate stitch:

Working small sections of color in Intarsia or Fair Isle, weaving in tails, and repairing small holes or tears in knitted pieces. 

Have you used duplicate stitch to fix or as a shortcut and felt like a genius, too?! Share your experience!

Repurposing Knits    Thursday, May 7, 2015

Once in a while a client will come to me with a project that hasn't been touched in months or years. This project may have become dormant because the knitter got stumped by tricky instructions or had a major life event get in the way. Usually I'll work through the pattern and get the person back on track. However, if the client isn't in love with design anymore or started it for a child who is now, say, in college, we need to come up with a better use for the yarn. 

Chaye knit the back and front of a child's color block sweater years ago and then put it away until recently. When she began the sweater, she twisted her stitches as she knit. Chaye has since learned to knit conventionally and completing the rest of the sweater with her old knitting technique wasn't a viable option. 

We ripped the two pieces until about 6" remained, stuck the stitches onto a knitting needle, and worked a few rows of rapid decreases. Two baby hats were quickly made! These will be fantastic baby gifts and she plans to use her remaining yarn to make my Mod Stocking Cap. Fabulous repurpose! 

Other repurposing ideas

Note: you may need to rip a bit to make these ideas work with your specific project

Half of a scarf can be turned into a cowl with a quick seam. It can also be ripped to 18-20", turned on its side, and made into the brim of a hat. Stitches will need to be picked up along the long edge of this piece and then a hat crown will need to be knit. 

Two pieces of a sweater can be made into a pillow, a drapey oversized wrap (depending on the sweater size), or a knitting bag. 

Remnants of yarn can be combined to make my Zucchini Blanket.


Have fun repurposing your projects! 




Vintage Knitting Books - for a good laugh    Thursday, December 4, 2014

I adore vintage knitting books and find much inspiration in their pages. On a recent tidying of my attic I found a stack of vintage knitting and crochet books that I hadn't looked at for a while. Perhaps it was my mood or all the dust getting to my head, but I could not stop giggling at some of what I saw. Here are some of the designs that YOU could have been knitting in the 1960's-1980's:

Dick and Stephen have a great time modeling their sweaters together, don't they? Well, it seems that they enjoy being in sweaters more than these next two little dudes in crocheted sweaters from the 80's. The youngster on the right looks like he's about to knock out the photographer's assistant if even one more photo is taken! 

Susie, wearing the classic knit twinset, chokes the family's beloved cat, Whiskers. Careful Whiskers! If Susie doesn't get you first, Jack is comin' for you in a striped short-sleeve pullover that grandma made!

What vintage knitting and crochet photo collection would be complete without the his-and-hers vest patterns? A WHOLE book full of gems like this:

I'll leave you with one last hunk wearing a fabulous 70's vest and a whole lotta chest hair. 

I hope those brought a smile to your face!


A textile lover in Ireland    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I recently took a trip to Ireland with my husband and it was obvious I was in the right place once we landed in Dublin and saw a sheep pasture outside of the airplane window.  The trip was a wool-lover’s dream! We drove through a lot of the country, hopping from city to city, and the drives were so peaceful with the sheep-dotted hills, stone walls, and farms filling the countryside. However, this feeling of peace and serenity would come and go as we found ourselves on the slimmest of roads holding on for dear life as cars flew past us.   

In addition to pulling the car over whenever I thought a scene was photo-worthy, Matt also stopped into every sweater shop we saw and patiently watched me touch each sweater in there... and there were plenty! The sweater shops were FULL of Irish knits and woven pieces that are *gasp* actually still made in Ireland – most by machine. The patterns and designs everywhere were incredible. I ended up bringing home a gorgeous woven throw. Just a quick squeeze of the fabric brings a smile to my face.

On the third day of our trip, we wound up in Limerick at the Hunt Museum. As we wove our way through the museum, inspecting artifacts, jewels, and art from the Hunt Family collection, we happened upon a room where two lovely curators were setting up an exhibit on Sybil Connolly, an Irish couture fashion designer from the mid-20th century.  The curators had their gloves on and were nice enough to talk to me and let me watch them unwrap the garments. I got to take some photos, learn a bit about the designer, and see the fabrics and designs up-close. It felt like a personal tour and was one of the highlights of the trip for me.   













The cream dress on the left has crocheted Irish ​lace flowers appliqued onto it. The pink dress has a lace overlay made by a particular group of Irish Nuns. Special permission needed to be granted to Connolly to dye it pink, as the lace is not supposed to be altered from its original white.



The garments are remarkable and unique and were probably even more so in their time. I left the museum feeling inspired to sew, create, and design. I hope you’ll find some inspiration, too!  

Wraps Per Inch    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Using Wraps Per Inch is a helpful tool for determining your yarn weights - whether you have a mystery yarn ball at the bottom of a box or if you bought a beautiful, nameless handspun at the Sheep & Wool festival. Using wraps per inch is a handy way to organize the yarns for my Zucchini Blanket Pattern – the pattern calls for orphaned and scrap yarns in fingering, sport, DK, and worsted weights. Figuring out the yarn weights can be the trickiest part of making this blanket.

Here’s how to figure out your Wraps Per Inch (WPI)

Wrap two pieces of masking tape around a spare straight knitting needle, measuring a 1” space between the tape. Alternately, you could mark a 2” space to get an even more accurate WPI. Make sure to double-check your measuring.

Holding the yarn next to one piece of tape, gently wrap the yarn around the needle to fill up the marked space. Do not pull the yarn tightly around the needle. This could distort your results.

Count the number of wraps within your space. (If you marked a 2” space, divide your number of wraps in two).

Use this guide to help determine your yarn weight.


35+ WPI


19-22 WPI


15-18 WPI


12-14 WPI


9-11 WPI


8-6 WPI

Super Bulky

5-2 WPI


For the Organized Knitter    Friday, January 31, 2014

...and even the not-so-organized of us: Mama's Notebooks "Knit & Crochet Notebook" 

My dear friend Heather is a super-organized mom of three who runs a tight ship! We met in high school and have birthdays only 6 days apart. We had some duo parties together, like our tea party, that were a blast! While writing this blog, it occurred to me that Heather is actually the first person I ever taught to knit. After our senior year of high school we began knitting together and it's been one of the special things that keeps us connected. 

Since Heather is an incredible knitter and tremendously organized (I think you have to be with three kids, right?!), she created a knitting notebook for herself and then began selling them when she realized how useful they are. Her notebooks have it all! There are pages for each project you’re working on and a table of contents to get to the right project quickly. My personal fave is the guide for taking proper measurements and the page to KEEP those measurements around for when you’re ready to knit for your lucky family member or friend. There are also pages for project wish lists, inventorying your needles and hooks, tracking your gauge for the yarns you use, and even a yarn reference page!

I started selling these for her in November and already they’ve helped many of my students tremendously. It’s nice to have all of your project information in one place. No more sifiting through little scraps of paper to figure out what row you left off with, no more wondering what needle you were supposed to use for that gorgeous new yarn you swatched last week, and no needing to stress about measuring your husband nonchalantly because you’d like to make him a sweater as a surprise. It’s all in the book!

Way to go, Heather! I wish you great success with your notebooks and am so proud to have you as my friend and my very first student. XOXOX

Check out Heather's notebooks here:

Heather's Ravelry username is HeathersKnits

And, if you know a new mommy who needs help keeping to a feeding schedule or someone who likes to keep a weekly/monthly schedule and budget, her other notebooks are must-haves, too! 

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