Phase 2 of Road Construction – How to Get to Us

Whew! We successfully survived the first phase of the Hwy 110 construction project. Over the weekend of August 5-6, MnDot opened up all of the east bound lanes! Yippee! But, they’ve now closed the west bound lanes. Sigh!

What does this change mean for you?

If you’re coming from the North, South or West

You can go back to using Hwy 110 to get to us. Simply follow your normal route to the store and take Dodd Rd to Hwy 110.

Getting home will be a bit more problematic. To go South or West, take Dodd Rd south to Hwy 494 W. To go North, take Dodd Rd north to the Marie Ave (the first stop sign; turn left and go to Victoria (the first stop sign); turn right and go to Hwy 13 (first stop sign); turn right and take go to Hwy 35E (less than 1/4 mile).

If you’re coming from the East

Take Hwy 494 west to Dodd Rd, turn right and go 1.5 miles to the Village at Mendota Heights (take a right on the first street after Hwy 110 – Market St).

110 Alternatives - 494 west to Dodd

You can return home the same way or use Hwy 110 east to connect to Hwy 52 or Hwy 494.

It looks like we’ll have another 6+ weeks until this project is over. Thank you for your patience and support!

Aalto KAL: Part 4, What Now?

According to the calendar, the Aalto KAL is over. However, I don’t think anyone is finished with their poncho yet. Am I right? I know I’m not! I haven’t even finished with the first half!! And Mary Lou who has been attending the in-person KAL hasn’t either. We took a pic yesterday of our progress.

IMG_2886

So, first of all, we are going to extend the knit-a-long. If you can or want to join us in the store, we will be meeting Saturdays, July 29 and August 12, from 2-4pm. That’s four more weeks. Not sure if that will be enough, but we will assess when we get there. I’m hoping to get to the shoulder shaping in the next few days, and I will do another post on the short rows then.

What we noticed, though, when we took the photo is that my fabric (the orange) is much more open than Mary Lou’s fabric (the blue). It’s hard to tell in the above photo, but here’s a close up.

IMG_2885

We decided we had better check our gauges again. Oops! Neither of us is on gauge! I am back to 19 sts/4″ and Mary Lou is at 25 sts/4″! I am not terribly concerned about mine. I know I can stretch my finished piece vertically and gravity will do the rest. I may never achieve that perfect 22 sts/4″, but it will be close enough (remember my comment about being tall?). Mary Lou is also not going to worry about it. She is short and was concerned about the length of the poncho down her arms. That is not going to be an issue at all now. And, when she held up the piece to her body, it was obvious that the circumference will be big enough to accommodate her torso, so that’s not a concern. She can also stretch her poncho horizontally when she blocks it if she decides she needs more room in the torso.

This is one of the beauties of this garment – you don’t have to be spot on with your gauge to still have a great poncho.

How are things going for you?

~ Laura

Aalto KAL: Part 3, Adding a New Ball of Yarn

First of all, sorry for the delay in getting this blog post done (and thank you, Judy, for reminding me to do it!). I have been under a deadline to get a shawl design wrapped up for our upcoming Progressive East End Project, and I haven’t even gotten to my 2nd ball of yarn for Aalto yet. Sigh…

However, Mary Lou was here knitting with me at last Saturday’s in-store knit-a-long, and she had to attach a new ball of Twig. Normally, when I add another ball of yarn or a new color to my knitting, I knit in the new strand and the old strand as I’m knitting like this:

But, because of the airy, open nature of this fabric, this method won’t work – it would show through as a line on the right side of the fabric.

So, the best way to add your next yarn is to knit several stitches (I would do 8-10 sts) while holding both the old and new yarn together. I suggested to Mary Lou that she should do this at the beginning of the row, because even if it was a bit noticeable, having it at the edge of the fabric would mean that most people would never see it. However, Mary Lou ran out of yarn suddenly in the middle of the row, so she decided to add her new yarn there (despite my dire warnings!). I believe she knit 10 stitches with both the new and old yarn held together, then she dropped the old yarn and kept knitting with the new one. After knitting with the new one for several rows, here’s what it looks like:

The join is in the middle of the row right under where Mary Lou’s nose ends. Can you see it? Neither can I. So, go ahead, change yarns in the middle of the row!

Bonus tip: This type of join is also ideal when working with cotton yarns. My favored knitting in method is terrible for cottons – you can always see the join from the right side. Knitting several stitches with the old and new yarns held together, surprisingly, is not nearly as noticeable. For a tighter fabric, I may only do a few stitches , but for open fabrics, where the stitches are looser, I like to do 8-10 stitches.

~ Laura

Aalto KAL: Part 2, Swatching (again) and Casting On

After completing my 2nd swatch, blocking and hanging it for a while as suggested in the first blog post about our Aalto KAL, my gauge was still off by one stitch per inch – I have 21 sts and 27 rows per 4″ instead of the required 22 sts and 28 rows. So, am I going to make a new swatch on a smaller needle to try to squeeze in that additional st and row? No.

Now, before you jump all over me for not getting gauge since that’s what we preach here all the time, I have my reasons. First, this is not a garment that needs to fit accurately (like a sweater or hat does). I did the calculations and realized that the difference in size is not going to make a big difference for me personally. I’m making the largest size, so I will be casting on 209 stitches.

209 sts divided by 5.25 sts/” = 39.8″ (vs the 38″ shown on the schematic)

Almost 2″ difference. But, I’m tall and can handle that extra 2″ without any issue. I took a tape measure and held the end at the center back of my neck, down over the curve of my shoulder and along my arm. 20″ (half of the approx 40″ width of the front or back) hit me just above the elbow. I think that’s o.k.

Now about that pesky row gauge. What to do about that? If I was making a sweater with a set in sleeve, I would have to either get the row gauge or make some adjustments to make the sleeve work. But… Aalto is unfitted so adjustments aren’t as necessary or difficult. Again, I am tall (5’8″), so I don’t want to the garment to be short on me. Luckily, 26.25″ is pretty good for me. So, I just need to make sure that I get to the required length (23″) before I start the shoulder shaping. (I highly recommend checking the length by holding a tape measure to your body – if you are short, you may need to decrease the length.)

While I could simply measure each piece and hope for the best, the better way to make sure my front and back match in length is to count my rows. For 23″ at a gauge of 27 rows/4″, I should knit 155 rows (wow, that’s a lot of knitting!) before I start the shoulder shaping.

What’s the best way to count my rows? I could use the old-fashioned method of hash-marks on a piece of paper. Or I could use the CountMeme App that I have on my phone.

countmeme_logo_s1

But, I’m worried that I will forget to “hash” or to press the button on CountMeme, so instead I am going to using locking stitch markers to mark off every 10 rows.

FullSizeRender (4)

For me, this will work the best. What technique will you use?

Finally, casting on…

209 stitches to cast on is daunting – especially thinking that I would have to count those stitches multiple times in order to convince myself that I cast on the right amount. To make it more palatable, I put a st marker on my needle after every 10 stitches – as I was casting on.

FullSizeRender (3)

For 209 sts, I used 20 markers. I could have used regular stitch markers, but I used locking ones because they were handy. After I knit my first row, I will remove all except those marking the 50th, 100th, 150th, and 200th stitches. I’m leaving those in to help with counting later on.

People always ask how to know how long of a tail to leave for long-tail cast ons such as the German Twisted Cast On called for in the Aalto pattern. There are many ways to accomplish this. Check out this Google search for some ideas.

That’s it for now! Who’s started their project?

~ Laura

Aalto KAL: Part 1, the Swatch

We’re gearing up to start the Aalto Knit-a-long starting June 17 (sorry for the delay, everyone; we had two colors that were back ordered…). In prep to start knitting, I highly recommend doing your gauge swatch at least the week before the KAL starts.

I did my gauge swatch this past week. I chose the Poppy colorway (thought it would go nicely with the purples and pink in my hair! The Poppy color is actually a bit darker than pictured).

Here was my process for doing my gauge swatch. I hope this helps you when you do your gauge swatch:

  • Because the gauge is supposed to be 22 sts & 28 rows/4″ and I always want to do a swatch at least 6″ wide (the bigger the better for swatches, people), I decided to cast on 30 stitches (to get a 6″ wide swatch, I really should have cast on 33 stitches, but…).
  • I knew this yarn would be slippery and while I am addicted to Addi needles because they are super fast, I decided that it would be better to go to a less slick needle. I chose Knitter’s Pride Karbonz. Karbonz circularI could have used bamboo needles, but the Karbonz combine the flexibility and “stickiness” of bamboo or wood needles with the speed of metal because of the metal tips. (Keep in mind when doing your swatch to knit it with the same needles you will be using for your garment – your gauge may be different with a wood needle vs a metal needle or a different brand).
  • The pattern calls for a German Twisted Cast On. Instructions for this cast on are provided in the pattern, but I found them hard to understand. Shibui also provides a link to Lucy Neatby’s video on this technique, but again, I was having a hard time following the video. So, I went to the trusty Cast On, Cast Off by Leslie Ann Bestor. Sure enough, German Twisted Cast On, aka Old Norwegian Cast On, was in there, IMG_2282and I was able to figure it out. Your swatch is a great place to practice this cast on if it’s new to you!
  • I started my swatch the way the pattern says to start – with 4 rows of reverse stockinette. This is not necessary, but I just wanted to see how it looked. After that I switched to stockinette for the full width of the swatch.
  • I often will slip the first stitch of every row for an item that is not being seamed, because it produces a nice edge; however, I noticed when I was doing each row in stockinette with this yarn and the bigger than expected needle size that the edge stitch was rolling under to the back. And I knew that the edge of the actual garment is in reverse stockinette, so after I had knit a few inches, I added the edging called for in the pattern to my swatch. Slipped StYou can see that the edge stitch (inside the purple box) is rolling to the front of the swatch now that I am doing the reverse stockinette edging. I decided that I really didn’t like that look, so I switched to actually working the edge stitch (knit or purl depending on the row). Here’s how it looks after I switched (above the black line is the area where I did not slip the first stitch of each row).Not Slipped I wish I had done a few more rows, but I think I like the non-slipped edge stitch better.
  • The gauge in the pattern calls for the swatch to be blocked. Make sure you do this before you measure! I got the swatch completely wet then laid it on my kitchen counter to dry overnight. I didn’t pin or use blocking wires; I just patted it flat and aligned the edges with my hand.
  • After it dried, I measured the center of the swatch in the area where I had only done stockinette (not where I had done the reverse stockinette edging). Measuring in the center will give a truer measurement than incorporating the edging stitches in your measurements. Make sure to measure across at least 4 inches. My blocked gauge was 18 sts/4″ – too few stitches!
  • BUT… because cotton & linen are notorious for stretching, I thought I’d better simulate gravity and hang my swatch up for a few days to see if the gauge changed. I hung the swatch on a pants hanger. Because the swatch is much smaller than the finished Aalto poncho will be and thus won’t stretch by itself as much as the full garment, I wove my circular knitting needle through the bottom of the swatch to simulate the gravitational pull on a larger garment. IMG_2330After hanging for a few days, my gauge had changed slightly to 19 sts/4″. Still not right…

It’s back to the drawing board (or knitting needles) for me – I’ll have to go down a needle size to try to get the right number of stitches per inch. (Oh, and by the way, my row gauge was 27 rows/4″; almost right. I’m hoping changing the needle size will help with that as well. I’ll discuss how to compensate for row gauge in a future post.)

~ Laura

Getting to Us During Road Construction Season

It’s well known that in Minnesota there are two seasons – winter and road construction. And, this year, the road construction season is going to hit 3 Kittens hard.

mndotconstruction

Hwy 110 will be under construction all summer with East bound traffic affected from May 15-July 24 and West bound traffic affected from July 25 until the end of the project in the early fall. You can read more about the project here.

The officially suggested detour for both directions will be to take Hwy 494 to Dodd Rd. But we have a few other suggestions that you might like to try. [Note – none of the following maps are clickable, but they were all created using Google Maps, which allows you to click and drag the suggested route onto other possible routes.]

Coming from the West (such as Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs)

494 to Dodd Rd

MnDot’s route is probably easiest if you are coming east using 494: exit at Dodd Rd and go north, turn right at Market St and enter the Village at Mendota Heights.

110 Alternatives - 494 east to Dodd

Hwy 62 (the Crosstown)

Take the Crosstown (Hwy 62) east until you cross over the Mendota Bridge, stay in the right line to merge onto Hwy 55, turn left at Mendota Heights Rd, turn left at Dodd Rd, turn right at Market St and enter the Village at Mendota Heights.

110 Alternatives - Crosstown

Coming from the North (such as St Paul & northern suburbs)

Hwy 52

Take Hwy 52, exit and turn right at Wentworth Ave, turn left at Dodd Rd, turn left onto Market St and enter the Village at Mendota Heights.

110 Alternatives - Hwy 52

Hwy 35E (but be warned that there is bridge construction on the I-35E bridge)

Take 35E south, exit and turn right at Hwy 13, turn left at Victoria Rd S, turn left at Marie Ave, turn right at Dodd Rd, turn left onto Market St and enter the Village at Mendota Heights.

110 Alternatives - Hwy 35E South

Coming from the East (such as Woodbury, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights)

Hwy 494 west to Dodd Rd

MnDot’s suggested route is probably the best: take 494 west, exit and go north on Dodd Rd,  turn right at Market St and enter the Village at Mendota Heights.

110 Alternatives - 494 west to Dodd

494 to 52 N

This route will help you avoid any back up on Dodd Rd going north: take 494 to Hwy 52 north, exit and go west on Wentworth Ave, turn left at Dodd Rd, turn left onto Market St and enter the Village at Mendota Heights.

110 Alternatives - 494 to 52

Coming from the South (such as Eagan, Burnsville)

494 to Dodd Rd

MnDot’s suggested route is probably the best – take 35E north, go east on 494, exit and go north on Dodd Rd, turn right at Market St and enter the Village at Mendota Heights.

110 Alternatives - 494 to Dodd

Mendota Heights Rd to Dodd Rd

If you want to avoid the 35E/494 interchange, you can exit 35E and head west on Lone Oak Rd, turn right at Pilot Knob Rd, turn right at Mendota Heights Rd, turn left at Dodd Rd, turn right at Market St and enter the Village at Mendota Heights.

110 Alternatives - Mendota Rd to Dodd

 

 

We hope that these ideas help you out. And if you have other route ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

We rely on you, our customers, to allow us to stay in business – even during construction season. So please help us out by braving the construction and visiting us throughout the summer!

~ Julie, Laura and all of the 3 Kittens Team

Aalto Knit-A-Long Starts June 1!

We’re trying something a little new with our next Knit-A-Long (or “KAL” for short)!

First, here’s the project: Aalto by Shellie Anderson

Aalto

 

I fell in love with this pattern the moment I saw it. It’s perfect for every “body”! Cool and breezy for summer. Plus it’s an easy knit – two stockinette squares joined at the shoulder with a 3-needle bind off. Perfect summer knitting and summer wearing!

We are offering Aalto Kits for this KAL. Each kit will include enough yarn to make Aalto in your chosen size, the printed pattern, and a little something fun for joining the KAL! The yarn is Shibui Twig, a 46% linen, 42% recycled silk and 12% wool blend that comes in luscious colors.

Shibui Twig

Kits must be ordered by May 1st in order to start the KAL on June 1!

Click here to order yours now!

For this KAL, we’re offering two ways to knit with us – In-Store and Virtual:

In-Store – This is our traditional KAL format. Join me (Laura) for 4 sessions at the store from 2-4pm on the following Saturdays – June 1, 10, 17 and July 8. It’s just $15 to join the in-store KAL, but seats are limited to 10 participants. Sign up for the In-Store KAL here.

Virtual – Since our space is limited for the In-Store KAL, I thought we would try a virtual way to join in the fun. We’ll have a dedicated thread on our Ravelry page to discuss our progress, post pictures, ask questions, etc. Plus, each week of the KAL, I will send out an email to all participants with a tip for completing your project – there may even be a video or two for special techniques that you might need. Virtual participation is free and is open to everyone (including our In-Store KAL participants). To sign up, just send me an email at laura@3kittensneedlearts.com.


I’m really excited about this KAL. I wish we could start it today!

~ Laura

PS Don’t forget to order your Aalto Kit by May 1! (Kits will be available for purchase after May 1, but I just can’t guarantee yours will be available to start on June 1…)