By | June 1, 2015

Ask anyone who’s been teaching knitting at the “big” events for a couple years (or anyone who’s done a fair bit of designing, I suppose), and they’ll tell you they regularly get questions via email. I thought it might be fun to share with you a few of my recent q&a sessions.

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I had such a great time in Lace Basics at Stitches South. Hope to see you next year. I need a recommendation for high quality blocking wires. There are many choices but seems there are comments in each that make me question the purchase. Price is not really a consideration as I believe you buy the best, once!


Hey, D. I don’t know if my opinion will be of much help, since I’ve only ever owned one set of blocking wires. You might have more luck asking in a lace group on Ravelry.

But I can tell you this: Look for a set that includes both wires that won’t bend for blocking straight edges and thinner, more flexible wires for blocking curves. Look also for wires with smooth, slightly tapered tips that’ll make it easier to insert the wires into your selvedges. Bonus points, of course, for larger sets with more wires.

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I am going to take the Wedge Shawl Design class at Stitches Midwest and was wondering about yardage needed for the project. I will be using fingering weight yarn. Is there a guideline you use?


Yardage amounts can vary widely. A couple skeins of fingering-weight yarn ought to give you a medium-size shawl. But if you want to make a better estimate, check out the shawl patterns on Ravelry. For shawls of the type and size you hope to make, how much yarn do they use?

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I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, but a friend and I plan to sign up for your Slick Set-in Sleeves class at Stitches Texas and have a question about materials. Since the sample sweater will be for a child, is it okay to use an acrylic yarn, such as Red Heart Classic or Wintuk? I have some in my stash that’s of worsted weight, and this would be a good way to put it to use.


T, I don’t mind if you and your friend use acrylic yarn, provided you actually like knitting with that yarn. Stated another way: I would prefer that you came to class with yarn that you liked rather than with yarn that you’d fight with throughout class. All too often, I see students struggling with old stash yarn they don’t care for, but feel the need to use up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make for a good learning environment. Does that make sense?


Gwen Bortner on June 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm.

I particularly love #3 — will be sharing the post with our Facebook fans!

JC on June 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm.

Gwen, the best part of that conversation is T’s response: “Thanks for answering so quickly. After I sent the e-mail I had second thoughts about it, too. I probably will get more out of the session if I work with yarn I’ll be likely to use for future projects. I think the old acrylic might best be donated to charity.”