Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Weird Little Sock Drawer

These little guys are all knit up. Seven pairs of socks that are my size, but I can't wear them, yet. I have to photograph them, first!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Spring Hat

The brim is flipped up, because I like to wear it that way.

Behold, my spring hat! I made it with my own handspun using the pattern I teach my beginning knitting students at community education. It's not too late to sign up!

If you're already familiar with casting on, knits, purls and decreases, but still want to come to class, I'll have a fingerless mitt pattern for you to try. Or, bring any project you want and I'll walk you through it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Flash Sale at Craftsy!

The banner should be showing this, too, but I wanted to let you all now there's a sale on supplies this weekend at Craftsy! It starts today and ends at midnight on 4/26, so don't waste any time.

Securing A Ball Winder/ Swift

Sometimes you want to put a ball winder on an edge of a table that's not perfectly square. Maybe it's bull-nosed or has a weird lip on it. Despair not! A cheapo jar opener can help keep the clamp from slipping off and sending your poor winder flying. (If you care a lot about the surface, be sure to check to make sure said jar opener isn't degrading and melting itself onto your table/bar/whatever every couple of weeks.)

P.S. - Are you coming to Yarnover? Come see me! I'll be at Saga Hill Designs. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Grafting, Kitchener Stitch and the Modern Knitter

I haven't found a perfect way to teach Kitchener Stitch, or Grafting, to everybody. All of the methods that use "go through this stitch knit-wise and that stitch purl-wise" leave me a bit cold. They require that your stitches be seated on the needle a certain way, and not everyone knits (or purls) in only one way.

My solution is to get the stitches off of the needles, as soon as possible. I use a little dental floss as a "safety net" when I do this. But, this doesn't help you if you aren't at least a little comfortable with the technique, already.

So, I turn to my guiding star for All Things That Are Kind of Tricky, the TECHknitter.

She has two excellent posts about Kitchener Stitch. Here's one that uses a darning needle. Here's another one that doesn't.

The ugly truth is, this is one skill that you have to practice to master. I mean, practice a lot. Often. Use up every little gauge swatch you've ever saved by grafting them to each other until you feel good about it.

AND, if you are someone who has to have a quiet place with good light and either a YouTube video or written instructions to manage it, that's ok, too. As long as you get a result you like, it doesn't matter how you get there. You are not a lesser knitter because of that.

I actually got a lot better at Kitchener stitch when I practiced a lot of darning and Swiss darning. It really taught me the "path" of the yarn through the stitches.

Oh, and there's also a (FREE) Craftsy class with everything you might want to know about seaming, including grafting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Teeny, Tiny Manifesto

This is what I'm trying to do.

from The Opinionated Knitter

I don't want to compare myself, directly, to Elizabeth Zimmermann, because I respect her way too much, but I'm trying to give socks the same sort of treatment she gave to seamless sweaters. 

It all hinges on the "key number," which she called K, for the number of desired stitches at the chest. 

I call the number of stitches used for the body of the sock S. S tells you what to do to make any toe you want. 

Half of S is X. Once you know X, you can make any heel you want. 

That's it. Please don't be scared off by X and S! 

(If I had realized I would be pronouncing X and S, I would have chosen different variables. They sound REALLY alike, no?)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Donna Druchunas' Sock Classes on Craftsy

Donna Druchunas, the force of nature behind the incredible Sheep to Shawl series, is also Craftsy instructor. We met up, over email, to talk about our classes. Here's the skinny on hers:

Does your class cover cuff down, toe up, or both?
DD: I have 3 sock classes on Craftsy. Knit Sock Workshop and Knit Original Toe Up Socks both cover toe-up sock knitting. Knit Original Cuff Down Socks covers, perhaps obviously, cuff down socks.

What kinds of heels and toes are covered in your course?
Knit Sock Workshop has a Bosnian Toe, a Swirl Toe, and basic afterthought heels.
Knit Original Toe Up Socks has a wedge toe, a mocassin toe, and a short-row tow. The heels are a gusset heel, an afterthought heel, and a short-row heel.
Knit Original Cuff Down Socks has a wedge toe, a round toe, and a short-row toe with choices of a Dutch heel, a French heel, and an short-row heel.

Does the course include patterns? If not, how to the students create a finished sock?
Knit Sock Workshop has patterns for a lace sock and a colorwork sock. The colorwork sock can be worked in a single color for beginners.
The Knit Original Cuff Down and Toe Up classes each have a universal pattern for students to create their own custom-fit socks as well as 3 bonus patterns.

What kind of fitting information do you include? Is it about customizing patterns or creating unique sock designs?

DD: In the Knit Original Socks classes I mostly focus on creating unique socks, but have a few tips on working with patterns to improve fit. Knit Sock Workshop is all about working from the patterns.

Monday, April 20, 2015


I know April is almost over, but I wanted to let you all know about the “When Life Gives You Lemons” Lemon Stress Ball pattern - There is a crochet version and a knit version, and they are both part of the #StitchAwayStress campaign by the Craft Yarn Council as part of National Stress Awareness Month.

Also available on that page is a link to a fun video/tutorial on YouTube from Twinkie Chan for the lemon stress ball and a video that features personal stories from a variety of people who have used knitting and crochet to reduce stress. If you make a stress ball, please post a photo of it with the hash tag #StitchAwayStress and #lemonstressball on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. 

Even if you don't want to make your own lemon, go look for #StitchAwayStress on its InstagramFacebookPinterest and Twitter.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Paris Wallpaper

This might be the last time I make Paris Wallpaper socks, and it might not be. I'm not making promises - they're so much fun to make!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I used to wear glasses. Then, I wore contacts. I've been back to glasses full-time since I had the shingles. (Was that 4 years ago? 3? I know it had to be fewer than 5 and more than 2.)

My twin sister and I called it "the Clark Kent effect." If we were together and one of us wore glasses in public and the other one didn't, NO ONE asked us if we were twins. If we both did or both didn't, at least one person would ask if we were twins. 

Yes, just about every time! People are very curious about the diversity of their gene pool, I suppose!

So, I decided to show my current true self to the world and wear my glasses for my Craftsy class. It kept me looking like "me" and saved me from gouging my own eyes out because I tried to wear contacts for three days straight for the first time in over well over 2 years. 

I've never minded glasses. I only preferred contacts because glasses can be a little annoying to use if, like me, you tend to smudge your glasses if you use them along with a camera. I'm not a newspaper photographer anymore, so if I smudge my glasses, I have time to clean them!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Trailer for My Craftsy Class

Just in case you're curious about exactly what's in my class, here's the class trailer (complete with map of Minnesota!).

And, no, I don't know what is the deal with my pinkies. Apparently I'm fancy like that.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Craftsy: My Little Table

Essentials for the little table behind the one everyone can see. My needle gauge, water, spare needles, random socks and weird little swatches!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Craftsy Rocks, Exhibit Two: The Crew

I didn't get a photo of the whole crew, because I was kind of freaking out, but I did remember to snap a shot of the studio door. I ended up having two editors and three different camera operators, because I think there was a bit of a bug going around. I hope you all feel better, guys!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Craftsy Flash Sale! Tons of Classes Are Half Off!

Pssst - For this weekend only, get up to 50% off Craftsy’s best online classes (but not mine, because it goes live tomorrow!). Each class gives you hours of up-close instruction from expert instructors that you can enjoy, view and review anywhere.

Fiber arts, quilting, sewing, jewelry, paper crafts, home and garden, cake decorating, cooking (even gluten free), photography and art are all waiting for you to jump right in!

Craftsy Rocks, Exhibit 1: They Spelled My Name Right!

It's such a little thing, only 8 letters long. But, you'd be surprised how often it's spelled wrong!

Craftsy hangs adorable stars on the dressing rooms, where they chalk in your name so that you know which one is yours. 

Thursday, April 09, 2015


Loops is fantastic! Beautiful yarns, a friendly staff, and even a computer you can use to make sure you're getting enough yardage for your project. I loved my one-stop hometown book tour!

If you live within driving range (and, of course, everyone has their own definition of that) of Tulsa, you simply have to stop there. It's really quite wonderful.

Monday, April 06, 2015


Quick post from my mom's house - my one and only attempt at cross stitch!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Enter for A Chance to Win My Craftsy Class BEFORE It Goes Live on 4/13/15!

I went to Denver in February, where I met some wonderful people and had a great time shooting a Craftsy class all about sock heels and toes!

It's called Socks My Way, Heel and Toe Variations, and from now until April 12 (the day before the class launches), you can enter to win my class. Just click through this link to enter.

I'll show you some behind-the-scenes images next week, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

More Beginning Knitting Classes in St. Louis Park!

I never get tired of seeing "instructor Lara Neel" in print. :)

If you already know how to knit and don't want to make a hat, you can still come to the class. I'll  have an alternative project for students who are already comfortable casting on - fingerless mitts.