New episodes every Tuesday!
March 15, 2022

65: Your Questions

65: Your Questions

This week is all about you! We're answering your questions all episode.

If we keep answering five question an episode, we might get caught up one of these days!

The Make Good Stashdown is still going!

It will continue until March 31, so there's still plenty of time to join. Join the fun by posting photos with the tag #makegoodstashdown (no year, please!)

Send us your letters!

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NaN Hi, and welcome to Make Good, the podcast about yarn and knitting from Scratch Supply Co. We're recording today in downtown Lebanon, New Hampshire, and we're really excited to be here. I'm Karen.

NaN And I'm Jessica.

NaN We're answering your questions today.

NaN Like all day, nothing but you.

NaN So we've got a little bit of a backlog of questions that we haven't had a chance to get to at the rate of one per week. So we thought we would devote an entire episode to getting a little bit caught up tiny bit.

NaN But every bit counts. It's like the whole one stitch at a time thing. You keep going and eventually you have a sweater.

NaN Before we jump into the new questions, we've had some suggestions for our question writer from last week.

NaN If you listen to episode 64, which is on Quick Fixes, the question that we received was from Laurie about a sweater that she admits that had damaged armpits from deodorant. It bleached out the yarn in her Indy dyed sweater. And we offered some suggestions. And on the post on our Instagram grid, some of you chimed in with the same suggestion. Chicken Butt Knits and Mandy Lee Five two, three. Both suggested that if you have additional yarn left from knitting your sweater, you could duplicate stitch over the damaged area to try and make it more invisible, which we think is a great idea.

NaN Yeah, that would work really well. It might add a little bit of bulk.

NaN There no less bulk than garment guards in your armpits or lining.

NaN Oh, very true.

NaN Or weird flower embroidery that I suggested.

NaN So our first question this week is from Jane.

NaN Hi, Jane.

NaN She says my question has to do with Superwash for sweater knitting. I always hear people at my Lys say don't make a sweater out of Superwash. The problem is that I accumulated a lot of Superwash prior to becoming a sweater knitter, and I'd like to use up my stash. Is it okay to blend Superwash and non Superwash? For example, what if I Marl lace weight wool with a Superwash decay for the body? I'm planning to knit the sheep camp. I have stash of decay weight 100% Merino Super wash and was going to use Dream State for the color work. I could Morrow in the lace weight to keep it from growing too much. If that would work.

NaN Jane, that's an excellent question, and I suspect some people might already know what my answer is going to be. It's watching is kind of my default answer, and it's not always 100% foolproof. We know that sometimes swatches lie to us, but they give us a good idea of how our fabric is going to behave and if we're going to be able to achieve the kind of fabric that we want. When I suggest swatching to you, I'm telling you to experiment with blending those yarns, Marling them together to see if you like the visual effect. But don't just knit a square and think, I'm done. I'm ready to knit this sweater or not. You have to go the additional step of actually blocking that Swatch the way that you're going to block the sweater. Sheep Camp is a beautiful sweater. The color work and the yoga is fantastic. It's on my list of things to knit eventually. So I understand your desire to knit this project, but I would definitely suggest experimenting with your fibers before you knit this entire thing to figure it out. Your Swatch will let you know if your fabric is going to stretch substantially in one direction or the other. And by one or the other, I mean, is it going to get really long? Is it going to get really wide? What is going to happen when you put these two yarns together to make your main fabric? You might find that you really like it. You might find that you need to make adjustments to the pattern based on how your fabric behaves, or you might find that you need to find other yarn. So experimenting is kind of the only answer. There's not a blanket, thumbs up or thumbs down. I will say that I've knit many sweaters out of super wash yarn with tremendous result. Like, I love those sweaters and I wear them all the time. So it's not an inevitability that you will have a crisis situation if you use super wash. Tons of people have knit so many sweaters and they turn out great. You just have to know what you're getting into based on the yarn that you're using.

NaN So I'm actually not familiar with this sweater. Where does it hit in the hip? Is it I'm going to say regular length? Is it a long or short sweater?

NaN I would say that it is like top of the hip bone leaning towards cropped. It's actually a Jennifer Berg pattern, and it's just great color work across the yolk. But the body isn't particularly long. It's not like a tunic or anything.

NaN So that will help with the super wash. Like, if the sweater is longer, the weight of the yarn will elongate over time. It will block it long. I think if this is short like this, that won't be as much of an issue.

NaN And you'll find out when you knit that Swatch and you block it. But definitely to speak to your point about combining Superwash and non Superwash, you can definitely do that. People do that all the time and knit tremendous things. There are lots of patterns that are designed for you specifically to do that. We did our knit along last year with the Penguino, and people were pulling together super wash and non super wash to keep it from weighing an incredible amount. Because non super washed yarns are often lighter, they're less dense, especially if you're finding woolen spun ones. There's more air in between the plies, so it's not as heavy of a fabric. So definitely experiment and if you do, take some pictures so we can see how it turns out.

NaN Our next letter is from Chelsea. Hey Chelsea, I am planning to begin my journey into garment making this year. I live in Michigan and our weather varies wildly everything from oppressively humid, hundred degree days in summer to bitterly cold single digits in the winter, which is actually kind of awesome as a knitter because I can make myself all the things Yay. I've been eyeballing some beautiful tank top patterns, especially hinterim styles roll over the top tank. I'm definitely planning on doing that one. My question is, do you have a suggestion for fiber choice for warm, sweaty weather? I personally lean more toward earthy textures and don't really love things with lots of Sheen. Thanks for the advice.

NaN I do have suggestions, Chelsea, so you may know that we are in New Hampshire, and New Hampshire has wildly varying weather too. It is frigidly cold.

NaN It's super hot.

NaN It happens to exist all over the place, temperature wise. It was like 60 degrees the other day and right now we're looking at snow coming down. So I feel your weather variability to speak to that. I think wool is a great all season fiber.

NaN This is your most shocking answer ever.

NaN I have to say I wear wool all year round.

NaN Wool breathes.

NaN If you happen to be a sporty kind of person, you'll notice that there's lots of athletic wear, everything from shirts to socks that are made out of Merino because it's breathable, it keeps you dry because it Wicks wet. It's a great fiber. We love wool, but you might find that you want to be working with some different types of fibers for warm weather, too. I tend to look at wool and other things blend because I really like the elasticity and the feel of wool when I'm knitting. For me, part of the consideration of fiber is my finished product, but part of it is my experience as a knitter and what the fiber feels like in my hands. I know that there are lots of knitters that really love things like cotton and linen blends. I struggle with those deeply because plant fibers are not elastic and my hands are just not happy when I'm working with kind of rigid is not really the correct word, but unforgiving yarn. I need that kind of bounce in my fiber to be happy knitting it. But plenty of people love knitting with all plant fibers. Hemp is another option. I can say I don't have tons of personal experience with those yarns, and I'm going to recommend two different options that are wool and cotton blends for you. For that tank top. I looked it up and it is a really nice pattern and I think is super wearable and would even be a good layering piece for when you get into cooler weather. Brooklyn Tweed makes a decay weight yarn called Dapple, and it's a blend of Merino and organic cotton, and it's really nice. There's a lot of tonality in the fiber, and the colors are fairly subtle. They're not extremely saturated or bold, but it's got kind of like an earthy vibe to it because the cotton and the Merino take the dye differently. So you might get a really interesting effect looking at a yarn like that and avoid the kind of shiny aesthetic that comes with certain blends, like if there's a yarn that has viscose in it or some other plant fiber that has Sheen, sometimes silk will do that. Dapple will avoid that kind of aesthetic. There's also a yarn called Duo from Sannis Yarn, and that's also a DK white cotton and wool blend that has a really nice color palette and might be a nice option for a top like that.

NaN If you're looking at the Dapple, you're going to want to find somewhere that will work with you on choosing your skeins. If you live near a yarn shop that carries it, and I know there are a couple of yarn shops in Michigan that do go check it out in person, because sometimes even within the same die lot, it can vary. And depending on the aesthetic you're looking for, a little bit of variability between scenes is kind of a nice look, but that is something you should know before you place a huge order. Our next question is from Christie. Hey, Christy, I have a question about picking yarn for projects. I want to use a nonsupperwash yarn for a project, but when reading the ball bands of some yarn, it doesn't say whether it's Superwash or not. Is it safe to assume that if it doesn't specifically say Superwash somewhere, then it is a non Superwash yarn, or is there a hidden language that would let me know?

NaN Good question, Christy. So when you are looking at yarn that is wool.

NaN If it is superwash

NaN It's going to tell you you're looking for either the word super washed, really plainly stated, or sometimes on ball bands, you will see language that says swareno. Sw stands for super wash. But if there's no information about the wool, it's probably untreated wool. Another tell, which we covered a little bit on our episode on super wash yarn is that there are yarns that are not technically called super wash because it's a different process. So kind of green treatment, organic superwashed yarns might say that they are machine washable and they're Merino wool. If it says that it's machine washable on the ball band, specifically, that it's machine washable, not hand wash, but machine wash, that's telling you that that yarn has been treated in some way so that it can safely go through your washing machine and you don't have to be concerned with it felting and shrinking.

NaN Can I interject something here? Absolutely, because you mentioned machine washable as a clue. Sometimes you will see especially with indie Dyers, you will see something like 80% super wash Merino, 20% nylon, and then underneath it it will say hand wash only.

NaN Aha, more tricky language.

NaN The superwash is real. They're not tricking you, they are just giving the gentlest possible instructions. You could put those in the washing machine.

NaN You could definitely if it's superwash, you can run it through the wash. You'll see that sometimes on hand dyed yarns. Also sometimes see it on cotton yarns. Cotton is definitely machine washable. The ball band might say hand wash only or just hand wash, but it's because that is the most gentle, long term way to care for your garment. And if your yarn producer wants you to treat this as a piece that you're going to have for many years, they want you to take good care of it. That's the kind of language you're looking for on the ball band. Do a close reading, and if you're not certain, you can always check producers website to see if there's more information. A Dyer might list more clear information on a listing on their page. You can ask your yarn shop. You can check listings on Ravelry. There are lots of different ways to glean more information about the yarn that you have in front of you.

NaN I do think it's generally pretty safe to assume that if it doesn't say either Superwash or SW, it's probably not. And part of that reason is that there is a whole category of producer who doesn't even consider Superwash as an option.

NaN I suppose the unaltered state is the default and the treated wool is the one that needs to be designated as something different.

NaN This next question comes from Jess. Hey Jess, I have what I will call curvy upper arms and biceps and I find that many sweater patterns upper arm size is too small for the body circumference size that I choose. I really want to knit the sweaters, but should I just find sweaters that have the correct all over measurements for me if they exist? Or should I choose the size to knit by body circumference and cast on extra stitches when going back to knit the sleeves or choose the sleeve size and try to decrease or increase if knitting bottom up for the body?

NaN That's a really good question, and I think it's something that lots and lots of knitters encounter. Whether it's their upper arms or their bust or their waistline or their shoulders. There is something in your measurements that is not in line with whatever the grading a designer uses as their standard measurement sets. None of us are cookie cutters, and in order to be able to produce designs in traditional ways, designers need to have a grid like a spreadsheet, some sort of metric for creating dimensions so that they can produce scaled sizes. That said, all of our bodies are excellent just how they are. So here's the beauty of handmaking clothing. We figure out how to make adjustments to fit our bodies. Or we find designers that design for our specific types of bodies. So there are lots of options for in your specific circumstance, Jess, finding things that comfortably fit your upper arms. The first thing I'm going to suggest is in line with you asking, are there designers that have measurements that fit me? Swanky Emu Knits is a designer who designs an aesthetic that has a formula. We interviewed her last year. So if you look back through our past seasons, you'll find the interview with Swanky Emunits. Go listen to it. She's a brilliant math person, and the way her patterns work is that you take a specific set of body measurements, you plug them into her spreadsheet, and then the pattern is made just for you.

NaN It's genius. It's so genius.

NaN It's the magic that we all want for all of our clothing, things that fit our bodies exactly how we want them to fit.

NaN You can apply what you learn from knitting her patterns to other patterns.

NaN Another thing that's really helpful is when you find designers that use schematics in their patterns. If you're not familiar with schematics, they are technical drawings in the pattern of the finished garment, and it gives you measurements in all sorts of different places. So you'll know how long the arm is from the armpit to the wrist. You know how big the neck opening is, you know how big the bust measurement is, or the waist, or from the armpit to your hem. Those are all important numbers for people who are making their own clothing. And schematics are still not ubiquitous. There's no industry standard that's telling designers they need to use them. So when you find patterns that have them, and it's a designer that has an aesthetic that you enjoy. And this is the kind of thing you want to be knitting, really spend some time with that information because it will allow you to figure out where you need to try and blend sizes if that's something that will make a sweater fit your body better. For example, you might find that in order to get to the number of stitches on an arm to fit you comfortably, you might need to extend the Raglan some. And that doesn't necessarily mean you need to extend the depth of the yoke. So from the top of your collarbone down to your armpit, that number may stay the same. But in the pattern, the Ragland increases may only go to three quarters of the way down that line. And if you need to have more stitches exist for your arm, you can do some math and calculate, if I need to add six more stitches to comfortably fit my arm, then I will do however many more Raglan increases to get those stitches there so I can wear the sleeve on my arm that I want to wear. So it will take a little bit of homework. Whether it's looking at the patterns you have already or looking for designers that are designing in ways that will allow you to make changes in efficient ways. You don't need to, like, rewrite a whole pattern. But if you can look at those numbers and make informed decisions based on your measurements, then I think that after a try or two, you're going to get really comfortable with finding what works best for you and your sweaters.

NaN The first step in doing this successfully is to get accurate measurements of your body.

NaN Yes.

NaN And that can be difficult in a couple of different ways for people. It can be kind of emotionally difficult. It can also be physically difficult. I don't know if anybody else has ever struggled to wrap a tape measure around their upper arm, but it's hard to throw that loop around. With the one free hand you can't really use. The other hand, it's goofy.

NaN It's challenging.

NaN Getting a helper helps a lot. And if that isn't something that's available to you for reasons of comfort or just practicality reasons, doing your best and then checking against something that fits really well that you already own, measuring that and kind of figuring out what's happening there is a good option.

NaN You know who might help your local yarn shop?

NaN Oh, absolutely.

NaN I measure people all the time in the shop all the time. I ask them questions when we're picking patterns and making decisions about what size to select. And when I ask them if they know a measurement and they tell me a number that is very clearly very far off, like, that is the number of your bra size, but that is not the fullest point of your chest. Or maybe they're guessing based on a number inside some readytowear clothing that doesn't have a real relationship to your body's measurements. We just get out the measuring tape, we take some measurements, we write some numbers down, and then we can make informed decisions about what will be the correct size for them to knit to get the kind of fit that they want for their garment.

NaN I can tell you that when I started taking sweater fitting seriously, I measured myself, and I was way, way off. I had looped the back of the measuring tape, like, halfway down my thoracic spine. It was not in any way in line. And so I had this number in my head that was like ten inches bigger than what it actually was. And I was like, why is everything kind of like loosey goosey and falling off my shoulders? I didn't get a helper.

NaN That's right. And how were you to know that that tape measure was not parallel to the floor? Not parallel to the floor. It was like a hula hoop hanging around your body.

NaN It's impossible to know for sure with the eyes in the back of your head.

NaN Yeah. So there are lots of places to reach out for help as you're determining the information that you need to make those good choices.

NaN Our last question today comes from Elliot.

NaN Hey Elliott.

NaN So I've been pretty sedentary for the past two years, but I've got a good bit of travel plan for the spring and summer. Can you offer any tips for traveling with projects or good projects for traveling? I'll be driving and flying and I'm terrified of having my needles or something taken by TSA.

NaN So super fun. I do have some travel tips for you and to speak to flying first. You can take knitting needles on a plane. We've all been doing it for years, but if it is reassuring to you, you can go to the TSA website and go to the search function and search knitting needles. And it will take you to the page where it explicitly tells you that they are allowed to be with you. And you can go through lists of prohibited items. So if you generally keep your eight inch dressmaker Shears in your bag because you like to cut fabric and knit, you might be surprised to find that you can't take your giant Shears on the plane, but you can take your double pointed needles. So just make sure that you go through your project bags before you travel to pull out the aerosol can of I don't know what comes in aerosol cans anymore, like spray glue.

NaN You were doing some of those snowflakes. Yes.

NaN Get those things out of there first, start with an empty project bag, and then carefully select what you will need for your actual project and just put those things in so you don't find an old banana in there either.

NaN I think this might be over caution, but I have heard tales of some TSA agents going rogue on this a little bit, and they will just decide they are personally not comfortable with you taking this thing on the plane and they're not going to let you. I know people who prep before going on planes with a selfaddressed stamped envelope because there's always a mailbox right there. And if the agent says, hey, you can't bring your set of interchangeable chowgues on the plane, you're not lighting them on fire, you just mail them back home to yourself. And then hopefully you brought a book for the plane.

NaN Going to finger knit? Yeah.

NaN You're going to ask them for the little plastic cutlery and just like, make it work.

NaN There's a lot of knitters. And if you've ever been in an airport at the end of a fiber festival weekend somewhere, if you look around the waiting area for pre boarding your flight, there might be 50 knitters sitting there all working on projects at the same time. It's a glorious sight to behold. I would also recommend pack light and pack efficiently and have a bag that closes. Well, yes, I know a lot of our project bags are open at the top or just have some sort of drawstring closure. But even with a drawstring that leaves that open hole at the top of where all of the bag fabric is cinched and the last thing you want is your project bag falling over sideways on the flight or even in your car when you're road tripping, losing all of your stitch markers to actually the back of the plane or the depths of your floor mats, or who knows where these things will end up. But just packing in a bag that you can close all the way and you just take out the things you need when you're in transit will be super helpful and way less annoying if you're not losing the things that you love to work with while you're on the road. Also, good projects for traveling. I think good projects for traveling are things that are your feel good nits. You don't want to pack your most complicated fisherman sweater that has nine pages of different types of cable charts. If that's your quiet focus, time knitting and not your feel good. Hang out with friends, go hike a mountain or hang out on the beach kind of knitting. You want things that are engaging, things that don't need miles of yarn so you're not packing a suitcase full of project with you in the event that you magically spend your whole vacation knitting. Unless that's what your vacation is. Manageable projects. Projects that don't involve too, too much focus, things that are fun and exciting, and also something that won't be heartbreaking to you if it does disappear. Those are my suggestions for your travel projects. Speaking of travel, we're going to be doing some yes. You may have heard we're going to Scotland and we will be gone for ten more days.

NaN And we will definitely talk about it a lot. I think probably our first episode back will be talking about it. We're going to be gone the first like two weeks, basically, of April. So we mentioned this before and we got a lot of questions about what this trip was. It's not just us independently chasing sheep around Scotland, although that is fully my entire plan is just hugging them. Following the sheep and hugging them. Yes.

NaN So this is the store's trip, not the podcast trip this time, but it's our wool and whiskey tour. And we discovered way back in 2019 this amazing group of people who are actually here in New Hampshire who do this. Rowan tree travel is what they're called. And they help people go on knitting vacations, basically. And we said to them, we would love to take knitters to go do something fun. And they plan this amazing trip for us. So the people who are going on this trip currently are people who are aware of us and our shop in 2019 and kind of jumped at the chance to come travel with us and then had to wait. Yeah.

NaN They've put up with it being rescheduled twice.

NaN We're finally going. We're all super excited, including us. I think there's maybe 20 of us, so it's a good size group and it's going to be a lot of fun. And if you're having a little bit of FOMO, is that a thing? If you feel like you missed the trip but would be interested, we'll definitely be planning other ones. And we will let the podcast community go, because it's not just people who live near us in New Hampshire who are coming with us. People are traveling from around the country to join us in Scotland, which is really fun and exciting. So maybe you will join us somewhere sometime, too. But we'll definitely let you know when we're planning it.

NaN We didn't want to plan it before this trip successfully went forward because the folks at Rowan Tree Travel have been so swamped with trying to manage all of the cancellations and reschedules and everything that have had to happen during Covet. It just kind of felt unkind to ask them to plan a new trip.

NaN We're definitely asking them as soon as we get back.

NaN Yeah, that's the plan.

NaN So, Karen, what are you planning for travel? Knitting.

NaN Okay, I've been knitting socks for 800 years. Normally, socks are my travel project, and I think I don't want to knit socks while I'm traveling.

NaN What are you going to do?

NaN So I have had my eye on the Slippy V Shawl by Stephen West ever since he released it last summer, maybe. And I was like, I want to knit this. And I remembered and I got the pattern when it was released, which is impressive. Follow through for me knitting pattern wise. And then I haven't picked yarn or cast it on or anything, but I think it's big enough that it will take a fair portion of the trip. It won't take a ton of brain power, I hope. And we are going to be visiting some yarn shops while we're in Scotland. So if horror of horrors, the nightmare scenario happens where I finish my knitting and have no more knitting, I have the means to solve it. How about you? What are you going to bring? I don't know.

NaN Yes. I'm ill prepared for this. I'm kind of thinking maybe a tank top. Oh, yeah. I feel like that's not super high yardage. I could probably get it done between time flying and cozy knit nights with a weed DRAM of whiskey by the fire or something. Is that what we're doing? But I think I could finish that, have it, maybe even be part of my things that I wear while we're there. If I'm real fast, maybe the last day the flight home.

NaN I would like to, at this point, insert a preview for our first episode back where Jessica tells you about all the whisky related mistakes she made on the stink top.

NaN New mistake, different spirit. But in the spirit of all of my mistake making for sure. Yeah. So I haven't picked a pattern yet, but I'm playing with different yarn ideas. And if I decide before we leave, which I'm kind of going to have to do.

NaN I will update you all here. Okay. So make good stash down.

NaN Still chugging along. Not done yet.

NaN Close, though. Close.

NaN We're halfway through March.

NaN There's two weeks left.

NaN I know you all have some stash left. There's a ball of yarn under your couch or something. Pull it out and knit it. Just get it done. You too could be that person who told us they knit all of their yarn and now they have none left.

NaN If you can't knit at all, get on a plane with an open top bag and just lose it.

NaN Stash, problem solved. But if you are still thinking about joining it's seriously, not too late. You can take pictures of your project, post them on Instagram and use the tag make good Stashdown and we will see it. And if you happen to follow the make good podcast Instagram account and the scratch supply co Instagram account, that means you are entered to win the gift card that will be giving away at the end of the knit along, which is $150 of mad yarn money to scratch. So that could be you. Keep posting those pictures. It's exciting and amazing and you're knitting awesome stuff, all of you.

NaN We're seeing a lot of people knitting for pets. We're seeing some amazing, fun, creative things.

NaN So good.

NaN Yeah, it's the best.

NaN You inspire us. Well, I think that's it for this week.

NaN You can listen to us just about anywhere. You can get audio podcasts you might even want to subscribe rate and review us.

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NaN No, you can visit the website to get the show notes, but you can also get the transcript there.

NaN Which is a new thing that we're really excited about and you can send us your questions. You can use the contact form on our website or email directly to your scratch and scratch supply.

NaN We'll talk to you next week. Bye.