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On Pins & Needles

Dear Ann,
A super-quick, photo-free post to impart two pieces of vital information.
1. Non-knitting discovery: there is a really nice, tiny fabric/quilting/embroidery shop on Lexington Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street. It’s friendly! It has a well-curated selection of fabrics for quilting and making simple clothing. It’s called Pins & Needles. I got some lovely quarter-yards of Liberty Tana Lawn for my someday quilt involving either the Union Flag or Old Glory or possibly both. The owner, Rachel, also keeps a lovely blog.
I would never have known about this 2-year-old shop if the Parking Space Fairy hadn’t granted me a metered spot right in front of the sandwich board sign at the shop door. It’s an upstairs shop, so you have to be looking up to actually see it. I could have passed it by 100 times, and probably did. I’m so excited to be able to stop into this cute little place when I’m in the neighborhood, and see what’s new. Size-wise, and in other ways, it reminds me of “Old Purl.” New Purl is great, fabulous, wonderful–but sometimes I miss Old Purl. There is something about a tiny shop that makes each item more powerful.
2. Honey Cowl Almanac. In the comments to my previous post, Cookie got a discussion going about how to figure out when you need to stop knitting the Honey Comb stitch pattern on your Honey Cowl, with enough yarn left to knit 3 rows of stockinette edging and bind off–while maximizing the width of your cowl and minimizing your leftover yarn.
Note that this method only works if you are using more than one skein of yarn for your cowl. If you are using one big skein, split it into 2 equal skeins — by weight is the way I’d do it — before casting on. Then do as Pam suggests: when you are done with Skein 1, mark your spot with a stitch marker or by weaving in a length of contrasting waste yarn. Then, count how many rounds of the slip-stitch pattern you have up to that point. Let’s say it’s 20 (which means that you cast on, knit 3 rows of stockinette edging, and then knit 20 repeats of the 2-round pattern). Now you know that with the second (or third, for that matter–the last skein), you can knit 20 repeats of the 2 row pattern, plus 3 rounds of stockinette edging and a bind-off. If you’re nervous, knit one fewer repeat of the 2-round pattern to ensure plenty of yarn to finish.
Isn’t that clever? Isn’t that tidy? A similar methodology can be used in other situations where you are knitting a long distance in a consistent pattern. Basically you are using the skein of yarn as a unit of measure, converting that skein into X amount of edging and X number of rounds.
Sorry for no pictures. I really feel like a post needs a picture. But I have to go to Curriculum Night. Bringing my knitting FOR SURE.

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  1. Where’s the like button! Skein as measurement. Love!

  2. Ditto, Midj!
    Thanks for tbe grest odes, Kay!

  3. uhh, that was supposed to read. great idea. ( these. phones put words and punctuation and letters in my mouth that were never intended to be).

  4. No way, an adorable fabric store on the UES?? Totally not on my radar, but will be now. As someone told me 30 years ago in Amsterdam, “You must always look up”.

  5. I use my kitchen scale to figure out when to start finishing up. I weigh my ball of yarn before I start knitting, cast on and knit those three rows of stockinette, then weigh the ball again. The difference is how much yarn I need to have left when I start binding off, and I can always fudge on the side of extra yarn if I think I’ll need it. Last time I finished with 8 inches to spare!

  6. That is so funny! I recently applied the method outlined in #2 to know exactly when to stop knitting the pattern on a blanket and start knitting the border. I’m a genius! haha

  7. Thanks for the heads-up on Pins & Needles – we need the small, fun stuff in NYC. I’ll go there. I miss Old Purl, too. . . the light, the cute street, and the intense pressure, er um, desire to splurge.

  8. I’m thinking that if you’re using 2 skeins, you should probably weigh them to make sure they are actually the same — sometimes they aren’t. But otherwise, this is such a great idea! Also, I think Diane’s “grest odes” should be MDK-speak for “great idea” from now on.

  9. Great idea! I’m currently working on the Honey Cowl. Thanks for the tip!

  10. I use a similar method for deciding when to finish my first sock to make sure I have enough yarn for the second one. Not that I mind leftovers per se, but it is nice to not need them.

  11. Algebra!

  12. !!!
    I’m knitting a Honey Cowl, about halfway done, and I just now consulted my copy of the pattern and discovered yes, I WAS supposed to knit four rows of stockinette before I started the slip-stitch pattern. I didn’t do that. I was so excited about HoneyCowling that I roared straight into the slip stitch. (That is a sentence that will never appear anywhere else on earth.)
    Oh well! No rolled edge for me! I’ll call it a “personal variation.”

  13. Assisted in the comments! Mentioned in a post! Instigator of clever yarn-based solutionizing! I’m going to be super-cocky all day! This is all really helpful because my current Honey Cowl is a loooong one, and things can get really ugly with 220 stitches.

  14. I could have used this post a week ago when I had to frog a row or so to finish but thanks to this post I’ll never have that problem again. Is it an indication that I may have a small honey cowl “problem” when I thought the second part of this post might read something like, “How to figure out when you need to stop knitting the Honey Comb stitch because you might have a slight honey cowl dependency”? I have been honey cowl free for a week but do have a couple of skeins on hand for emergencies.
    Thanks for posting about the various shops you discover in New York. If I ever make it back up to the big city, I hope to visit all the places you’ve mentioned over the years.

  15. Curriculum night! Knitting! The only thing that makes curriculum night bearable . . .

  16. match the second sleeve and call it gorgeous!

  17. “well curated selection of fabrics”! Well put, that is exactly how I felt when I got tricked into entering Stash Quilt Shop. I do not quilt, but the sandwich board (again, a sandwich board) said “YARN” and suckered me in. On my most recent visit I was informed that I now qualify for the frequent buyer discount. How did that happen? I do not quilt.


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