Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tips 'n' Tricks: Logo Embroidery

As promised, I give you the brief tutorial on how I stitched the logo onto my Red Wings Winter Classic hat. What follows are instructions on how to use satin stitch to create a logo on a knitted garment. This is just How I Did It, not necessarily How It Should Be Done.

Logo on felt backing

Once I found the logo I wanted to use, I printed it and cut it out. I then laid it face down on a piece of felt and traced around the entire outline. Your logo should look backwards when you're done. I used a felt tip pen and I ended up with badly stained fingers. The felt I had did not absorb the ink like I thought it would. Proceed with caution. (The little D in the corner was just a test of the pen on the felt)

Felt backing pinned in place

I then tacked the piece of felt to the inside of hat. Note that my hat is lined and upside down in the photo above. Be sure to orient/mount your felt piece properly. Obsession in this area is not taken lightly. I took a few pins and poked them straight through both pieces at key points to make sure I had the right position on the stripe of my hat.

Stitch pattern practice

Before I started stitching, I wanted to think about how to orient the stitches around the logo. I knew that keeping the 'stitches' as short as possible was ideal. I also wanted to use only one length of yarn to fill in the spaces of the logo. (If you're working a larger piece, that may not be possible and you may have to divide and conquer. But then again, in that case, this technique may not be your best option.) My first attempt is on the left and you can see - in the second sketch - where I changed the orientation of the stitches at the bottom of the logo.

And so we begin...

I decided to start with a small piece of the logo, the skinny bar running up the middle of the logo. I made sure I had good lighting and got to it. Don't try to thread enough yarn onto your needle for the whole logo. You'll end up having to walk across the room to pull it all through. Use about 3-5 feet of yarn at a time. Pull your needle and yarn through leaving a 2 inch tail. As you work your stitches, catch the tail on the backside to seal it in.

The trick to the technique is to make sure your needle goes vertically through both pieces of fabric and then pull through. Don't, don't, DON'T (did I emphasize that enough? Don't.) try to push the needle down and back up in one move like you would when sewing fabric. You'll end up with a badly puckered logo.

To get the right location on where to bring the needle back up, I used a combination of poking the needle through to line up with the lines drawn on the felt and 'eye-balling-it' from the front. I'll admit that throughout the process, I ended up sewing either inside or outside the lines a lot to matchup better on the front side. Remember, no one's going to see if you stayed within the lines on your felt backing, but everyone will see the right side of the logo. 

Another tip is to ignore individual stitches in the knitted fabric. Instead, think of it as being a solid piece. Take the the photo below for example. There is about a one stitch width between the two embroidered lines, however, there's not a single continuous column of stitches separating them. There are actually two reasons for this. One, because I knit the hat in the round, my stitches slanted slightly to the left. It's a factor of how I knit and the yarn, but that's a different discussion. The other reason - and this would be a bigger issue if my stitch columns didn't slant - is because wrapping a bunch of yarn around a single column of stitches would inevitably pucker and leave gaps on either side. I made sure to be very exact with my stitch placement and definitely split stitches if necessary.

Logo embroidery progress

As you continue to work your way around the logo, you can remove the pins tacking the felt to the inside of the hat. At this point (above) you can see the first two (from left) vertical lines of the logo. If you look closely at what is the center line of the logo above, you can see the top half of it is not as wide as the bottom. If something like this happens, you can correct it in two ways. One, you could pick your stitches out individually. It's not as bad as it might seem, the felt backing helps as does a blunt needle. Just be patient. Your other option is to go back over your work with more stitches to better flesh out the design. I didn't actually do that in this spot (I didn't mind so much that vertical line) but I did in plenty of others.

Red Wings Winter Classic hat

For the sharp point at the lower left of my logo I switched from tiny vertical stitches to a few sort of 'outline' stitches to bring it to a sharp point. Unfortunately the best thing I can suggest here is a bit of trial and error to see what works for you. The whole bottom line of the logo is where I stitched over a lot as described above to get the right shape.

Once you're done and your logo looks beautiful - and it will - just tack your loose ends down on the inside and finish up your hat.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

FO: Red Wings Winter Classic Hat

Red Wings Winter Classic hat
Pattern: Very Warm Hat
Author: Elizabeth Zimmerman
Source: The Opinionated Knitter
Yarn: Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes in Natural, Cascade 220 in Red
Needles: Knit Picks Options, size 5
Started: January 16, 2009
Finished: January 31, 2009
Modifications: none
Ravel It!

For the final goal of my January Hat Trick, I wanted to replicate the Red Wings version of the 2009 NHL Winter Classic hat. As soon as I saw the players skate out onto the ice wearing them, I knew I had to have one. I had one fortunate false start with this hat before I ripped it out. I say fortunate because after I frogged it, I rinsed/set the dye in the red yarn to avoid ending up with a pink hat. I'm glad I did because quite a bit of dye came out of the yarn. 

Wings hat, reversedMy first attempt had about a 4 inch lining in it to double up the material around my ears - I started the hat during the coldest point of winter thus far. I didn't like the way it sat on my head - you could see where the lining ended - so I decided to knit a fully lined hat. Of course, I turned to Elizabeth Zimmerman and her Very Warm Hat. I didn't want to use up any more of the natural yarn that absolutely necessary, so I knit the lining fully in red. The upshot is that the hat is completely reversible. I wasn't sure I would like the purled turn row (the original lining was just folded over) but it does form a nice edge between the two sides and I like how the white edging sets off the red side nicely on the reverse side.

It took several attempts to get the logo the way I wanted it and again, I'm so glad I stuck to my guns and did it right. I tried some practice, free-hand embroidery on the reverse side and was pleased with the result, but I knew I could do better. With the deadline for the knit-a-long fast approaching, I considered sewing on a felt patch. But after seeing how thin and flimsy the felt at JoAnn's was, I knew it wouldn't work. Not to mention the skinny parts of the logo would've been impossible to sew. The felt wasn't a complete waste though, as I used it for backing of the final logo. I believe the technique I employed is called satin stitch. It's basically filling in a shape or outline with lines of yarn sewn right next to each other. If you look at a store-bought, machine-knit cap, you can see a more refined version of this, and that's what I set out to duplicate. I'm cooking up another post that goes into further detail of the process.

The final verdict is absolute love, and quite possibly my best FO to date.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random updates

I'm subbing lots of links for the lack of photos. Sorry about that.

1. My Cobblestone sweater is near completion. I ran out of yarn two rounds + bind off away from finishing the neck. So, last night I undid the garter cuff on one sleeve and began reknitting after decreasing 10%. I plan to see how much yarn that gets me, and if it's half enough, do the second sleeve the same way. If it's not enough - and I just did a quick calc in my head and it's probably not going to be - then I'll have to frog the sleeves further and decrease more rapidly.

2. I have two blog posts on my Red Wings hat that are almost ready to go. I just want one more photo to accompany the FO post and I need to get the logo tutorial out of my head and into a post. I want to get the FO post up first, but with the weather we're expecting over the next few days, that may have to wait until the weekend. 

3. For a quick instant gratification project, I'm knitting a pair of bed socks for my future sister-in-law. Why is it that everything I've knit for the women I know is hot pink? They're also really tiny (compared to my socks) and I'm using Cascade 220, so they're going really quickly. Or at least they should. My sock mojo is not what it used to be.

4. After the success of the January Hat Trick with the Puck This! group on Ravelry, we've started another knit-a-long, The Great Hockey Sweater KAL. After I finish the socks mentioned above, I plan to pick up my Vintage Red Wings sweater again. The red yarn has been rinsed of extra dye and should be good to go now. All the same, I think I'll block it by spritzing rather than soaking.

5. I miss spinning. I was never into it hardcore, but I'm still excited to see what kind of yarn I can produce. It just seems I can't find the time or energy. That's kind of a different subject though. My other issue is that I really, really, really want to finish my Cobblestone. And then I know I'm going to feel the same way about my Wings sweater. I can't justify taking time to spin when I could be knitting. Right now spinning seems like more of a chore than knitting because I'm a long way off from a finished product.

6. Aside from the fact that it will allow me to wear my sweater when I finish it, I'm done with winter. I'm sick of the grey skies and cold temps. I'm sick of walking outside and thinking, "ugh, why am I alive," when the cold hits rather than, "I feel so alive!, " when the bright sun and warm temps hit you. I need a vacation.

7. And so as not to leave us all on a downer, I will say that I'm excited about the possibilities that my new stash enhancement presents. I want an all-purpose hoody/sweater/jacket, so I'm thinking of knitting a Adult Tomten. Although after reading Jared's detailed post about it, I'm feeling anxious. I've never knit a garment with that much construction. Maybe a child's version is in order first. I'm also thinking some cables are in order, which reminds me, I have a Christmas gift I never blogged. You might be interested in that :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How to Hide Yarn From Your Spouse in 7 Easy Steps

Bartlett Natural
Bartlettyarns Fisherman 2-Ply, Natural

Step 1: Make enormous yarn purchase using personal bank account direct deduction through Paypal.

Bartlett Oatmeal
Bartlettyarns Fisherman 2-Ply, Oatmeal

Step 2: Have enormous yarn purchase delivered to work. Dodge questions from co-workers about contest of package.

Bartlett Medium Sheeps Gray
Bartlettyarns Fisherman 2-Ply, Medium Sheeps Gray

Step 3: Plan to arrive home from work well in advance of spouse. Allow enough time to complete all steps as well as normal spousal duties like making dinner, so as not to arouse suspicion.

Bartlett Dark Sheeps Gray
Bartlettyarns Fisherman 2-Ply, Dark Sheeps Gray

Step 4: Procure giant storage bag(s). Raid spouse's stash if necessary.

Hefty XXL zip bag

Step 5: Place yarn into giant storage bags, lay on top of to remove as much air as possible and store in rarely used bed drawer. Make sure bed drawer is on your side of the bed.

Yarn in the bed drawer

Step 6: (optional) Place laundry basket and other random bedroom object in front of rarely used bed drawer.

Step 7: Discard any and all incriminating shipping materials. Burn if necessary.

Unfortunately for me, I messed up on step 3 and my wife got home as I was in the middle of the process. I had one bag done and stupidly tried to hide the rest, tossing a sweatshirt over the box. She walked into the bedroom and said, "What's in the box?"


All told, that's 40 skeins of Bartlettyarns Fisherman 2-Ply. 8,400 yards / 10 pounds / 4 sweaters worth (or more) of yarn. And I only paid $135 shipped. Can you say bargain?