Here are the winners of the Easter / Spring Dress knit-along!

The Easter/Spring Dress KAL that I hosted in my Ravelry group came to an end earlier this week. Many participated, and it was so fun to see everybody's little sweet little dresses pop up in the thread. As promised, prizes were awarded for the following projects:

SpinnyGonzalez won one of the two grand prizes! I selected her Tutu Top because her choice of colors was just so fresh and spunky. I think this bright green paired with acid yellow is the perfect combination for a Spring tunic that's just the thing to wear while exploring nature:

Tutu Top by SpinnyGonzalez on Ravelry

Tutu Top by SpinnyGonzalez on Ravelry

I also chose this pretty Broderie as the recipient of the second Grand Prize! I think that Dye2Knit's project is beautiful in this classic blue with subtle tonal variations. Very romantic and sweet:

Broderie by Dye2knit on Ravelry

Broderie by Dye2knit on Ravelry

Pennster managed to whip up THREE Honey Pie dresses during the KAL! Impressive, right? Two of her projects were randomly selected and she won two of my patterns :D

Honey Pie by Pennster on Ravelry

Honey Pie by Pennster on Ravelry

Honey Pie by Pennster on Ravelry

Honey Pie by Pennster on Ravelry

Another winner was Angeldogknitter, who came up with this really gorgeous combination of colors for her Tutu Top. While the body of the sweater is purple (you know that tends to be a winner for little girls!) I love that she paired it with a more subtle powdery mauve, it really gives a nice sophistication to the project.

Tutu Top by Angeldogknitter on Ravelry

Tutu Top by Angeldogknitter on Ravelry

Another really sweet version was Alisa01's Honey Pie. I love this shade of Malabrigo Rios (Archangel), an unusual red/purple hue. And look at those sweet flower buttons she picked out!

Honey Pie by alesa01 on Ravelry

Honey Pie by alesa01 on Ravelry

Last but not least, Kimzboyz made this beautiful, bright blue Honey Pie with really special buttons:

Honey Pie by Kimzboyz on Ravelry

Honey Pie by Kimzboyz on Ravelry

So that's all for this KAL folks! Are you ready for another one in June? I am planning to host an Entrechat-hack knit-along so if you know of (or are envisioning) any fun variations of my best-selling design, chime in in the comments!

What length circular needle do I need?

I just received an email from a customer today asking me which length her circular needle should be for her project.

Usually I'll specify this in the pattern (this length is meant tip-to-tip by the way), but there are times when this info isn't included, or, you may only have a particular length circular needle at home and you want to know whether you can get away with not buying a new one ;) 

Note: For the purpose of this blog post I'm leaving aside other techniques such as using the magic loop technique, double-pointed needles, or more than one circular needle.

Blog post about circular knitting needle lengths

The first thing to consider is whether the garment is knit in the round or not.

  • Garment is knit flat

As most of you probably know, even when a garment is knit flat (when you alternate knitting the right side and the wrong side of the fabric, also known as knitting "back and forth") you may still need to (or choose to) use circular needles, especially if the garment is seamless.

This is because you will at one point or another, end up with many stitches on your needle (for example, if the back and the two fronts of a cardigan are worked in one piece) and it could be unwieldy to use long straight needles -- though some people prefer to do this, or use double-pointed needles (it's all about personal preference.)

Another case where circular needles may be more comfortable to use when knitting flat is when you need to knit along a shape that has a curve to it, like a seamless cardigan's yoke, or the front band of a hoodie. For example, the textured band of my Latte Baby Coat is knit in one piece in a U-shape, along both fronts and the edges of the hood. Since it's difficult to knit along an angle with straight needles, the flexibility of the circular needle's cable is helpful.

In either case, you will need to figure out by quickly scanning through the pattern the maximum number of stitches that you will have on your needles for the size you are knitting and convert that to inches (divide the stitch count by your per-inch-gauge). Thankfully, most good patterns include stitch counts and this shouldn't be too difficult to locate.

In a seamless, top-down cardigan like my Hyphen cardigan, this maximum number of stitches will be right before you divide for the body and sleeves.

In a seamless, bottom-up cardigan like my Silverfox cardigan, it will be right when you start working the yoke, i.e. after you join the body and the two sleeves.

There are some exceptions: for example, my Tiered Baby Coat is constructed seamlessly and top-down, but in this case, there is a significant flare at the bottom of the garment, created by two increase rows, and the max number of stitches will be reached after those increases are completed, so you'd have to look at the length of the hem to determine your circular needle size in this case.

Once you have this max number of stitches, you can translate it into inches (by dividing it by your per-inch gauge). Let's say this number is about 30" (or 76cm). Does this mean that your standard, 24" (or 60cm) needle is too short? Well, not necessarily! A circular needle can hold 30-40% more than its length so you have some leeway. This is when it comes down to personal preference: how crammed do your stitches need be on your needles before it starts bothering you?

You start getting a feel for these things: I find that unless I'm knitting a seamless dress or flared out cardigan, a 24" circular needle will work ok for most kid's garments (at least until sizes 6yo to 8yo). After that, a longer cable, like the 36" (or 91cm) may be preferable.

  • Garment is knit in the round

In this case, there is less margin for error. If you are knitting in the round, the circular needle length cannot be greater than the smallest circumference of your project.

So, if you're knitting a 3 month garment that is knit in the round, like my Tutu Top for example, a quick look at the schematic will tell you that the finished garment's chest circumference (the smallest part of the body) is 17.5" or 44cm. So, you cannot use a 24" circular needle to knit the body. You need to go down to a 16" or 40cm needle. Otherwise there simply won't be enough stitches to "populate" your too-long cable.

Here's an example in the photo below: can you see that my stitches are a little stretched out? My circular needle was a bit too long for the project but I decided to forge ahead, as I was about to start a series of increases:

Stitches are stretched out on a too-long circular needle

For some projects, you may need to start out with a short circular needle or even double-pointed needles (for instance, if knitting a neckline in the round) and then switch over to a longer one as you work your yoke increases and your needle starts getting too crowded.

If you're knitting a hat, you are pretty much going to be fine using a 16" or 40cm circular needle to work the brim (unless you knit a tiny size in which case you may need something even smaller -- again look at the finished project circumference) but will likely need to switch to a smaller length, or use dpns as you work through the crown decreases.

I put together this quick chart as a reference, so that you can see the minimum number of stitches that you need to be able to knit comfortably in the round on a circular needle, without stretching your stitches.

Chart to select Circular Needle length

So, if the recommended gauge for your project is 4 stitches per inch, and you need to knit 80 stitches in the round, you'll be better off using the 16" circular needle. The 24" won't work well, because for that length, you need at least 96 stitches.

Blog post about selecting circular knitting needle lengths

 

Here's an overview of the most common circular needle lengths that are out there and what they may be typically used for:

  • 8" (20cm) to 12" (or 30cm): These are a bit unusual, (using dpns or the magic loop method is more standard) but they can be used to knit narrow tubes in the round: baby hats, socks, sleeves, mittens etc...
  • 16″ (40cm): These are mostly used to knit the brim portion of hats or the body of baby sweaters that are knit in the round. 
  • 24" (60cm): This is probably the most versatile length, especially when it comes to knitting flat or knitting children and smaller women’s sweater bodies.
  • 29" (74cm): Same as above except that it gives you a bit more room. Also good for baby blankets.
  • 36″ (91cm): Generally used for flat-knitting, it's a common size used for adult cardigans as well as shawls or blankets.
  • Longer length circular needles are usually used for large shawls and blankets, in particular the ones that are knit in the round.

So there you have it! I hope this info will prove useful to you. I have to confess that I'm a bit of a "knitting McGyver" myself, always trying to make do with what I have -- sometimes beyond what is reasonnable ;) What can I say? I can never seem to locate the circular needle length I need when I need it!

What about you? Do you try to make do with the needles you already have? Or are you fully prepared, with all cable lengths neatly organized and at the ready?

Tutu Top Hack: ties instead of button closure

My daughter is three. At this age, she is naturally verrrry particular about many things, not the least of which is clothing. She loves purple, pink, and black. She has a fondness for tights and rain boots. All pretty par for the course. But the one thing that has been a real challenge is that she is deathly afraid of buttons. Not on other people's clothing (she loves playing with my own buttons) but on her own clothes, it's a huge no-no. I think maybe her hair got tangled up in one at some point, and she is now firmly anti-button. 

I knew I wanted to make her a Tutu Top for the Easter / Spring Dress KAL (you can still participate by the way! Here's where it's happening). It's such a quick and comfy design. It's very play-friendly, lasts forever (you can make it with a bit of room to grow, and still use it as a tunic many months down the line), and IT TWIRLS!! So, a no-brainer. 

BUT, it was designed to close at the back with a button (fastened with an I-cord loop closure.)

Tutu Top knitting pattern closure hack

I knew that wouldn't fly. Thankfully it's extremely easy to turn this type of closure into simple ties.

Tutu Top closure hack

The way I did it is I started off creating a 3-stitch regular I-cord:

Cast on 3 stitches using two dpns (of the same size as used in the pattern for the attached I-cord of the neckline), slide these 3 sts to the other end of the dpn without working them, then, without turning your work, knit them (make sure the first stitch you work is nice and tight). Slide the 3 stitches again to the other side of the needle without turning your work and knit the stitches once more, keeping things nice and tight. Keep going until you have an I-cord that's about 8 inches or 20cm long.

Then start working the attached I-cord along the neckline as explained in the pattern (naturally skip the "cast on 3 sts" part). Then, work the unattached I-cord on the other of the back neck opening, as explained in the pattern, but this time make it 8 inches or 20cm long, so that it matches the other side. And of course, no need to form a loop or anything :) Voila! Easy-peasy:

And here's a happy girl in her new Tutu Top!

Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

If you'd like to make your own Tutu Top, you can find the pattern here.

For mine, I used Malabrigo Rios in the Lotus colorway for the body, and the "tutu" part is made with some fuschia-colored Lana Grossa Silkhair (which is a bit too thin, but it worked out fine).

My project for the Easter / Spring Dress KAL

Have you selected your project for the Easter / Spring Dress knit-along yet? I have! 

I've decided that my girl needs a new Tutu Top! The last time I made one for her she was just a tiny tot... look how adorable: 

Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

So after thinking long and hard about what in my stash might appeal to her (she's 3 and has strong opinions about everything), I thought some kind of purple-ness was a safe bet. And some fuschia mohair for the tutu part. I'm super excited to see how this Malabrigo Rios colorway knits up: it's called Lotus and it's got purple and aqua, which is so pretty. 

Malabrigo Rios in Lotus and Lana Grossa Silkhair in Fuschia

I will have to modify the back to get rid of the button closure; my daughter has a strict no button rule (don't ask). So I think 2 I-cord ties should do the trick. 

Easter / Spring Dress KAL knitting pattern ideas: Summer Into Fall

Are you looking for the perfect knitting pattern to join the Easter / Spring Dress Knit-a-long? This little pinafore dress is a great option.

Ok so right now the name of this pattern makes more sense for Southern Hemisphere knitters ;) This pinafore dress is what I'd call a "vêtement de demi-saison" (you didn't know you'd learn some French reading this blog, did you?), which basically means something suitable for either Spring or Fall, not-too-warm, not-too-light. A great layering piece that can be used as a tunic as the child grows, a fast and fun knit, what's not to love?

This design is all about the lovely details: the side tabs, the straps and the sweet ruffles.

For the sample, I used Gilliatt by De Rerum Natura, which is light but warm with a rustic feel. I wanted a slightly nostalgic, timeless, schoolgirl look and I think Gilliatt conveys this perfectly, but any other worsted weight yarn (including superwash options such as Malabrigo Rios) would work well, too. For a warmer weather garment, a cotton/acrylic blend would be perfect.

You can buy the Summer Into Fall pattern here, then take part in the Easter/Spring Dress KAL here on Ravelry. Don't forget to use the hashtags #easterspringdressKAL and #frogginette on social media so we can follow your progress.

Easter/Spring dress KAL!

In case you missed it I just kicked off a KAL over in my Ravelry group!  There will be amazing prizes so don't miss out and join in on the fun :) To participate you just have to tell us which dress, tunic or pinafore pattern of mine you want to knit, and post some nice WIP photos in the KAL thread. Once you are all done, take some nice photos of your finished project and post them in the "KAL FO only" thread in my group.

Be sure to use the hashtag #easterspringdresskal and #frogginette on social media so we can follow along.

Here are some ideas of patterns you could knit (from top left clockwise): Tutu Top, Colorplay Dress, Summer Into Fall, Claudine, Honey Pie, Broderie.

Which one will you knit??

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