Uncensored Guide to Finishing Projects

Wizard of Oz

The last thing you want to do when you finally finish knitting a color work sweater is weave in all those pesky ends, give it a soak, and lay it out to block. You just want to put it on and wear it…anywhere will do: the post office, the grocery store, or even just to the kid’s bus stop. Nevertheless, we all know how important the finishing steps are in a truly polished project. So, since we all have to weave in & block, let’s commiserate in this uncensored guide to finishing projects!

Weaving in Ends is the Worst
weaving in ends

As Sophia Petrillo always starts, “Picture it. Sicily 1920.” You have been knitting for weeks on an amazing fair isle sweater for your best friend’s birthday. 12 colors, 8 charts, 9 glasses of merlot, 2 seasons of your favorite show, and a touch of carpal tunnel. It’s the day before the birthday party and you cast off. “Phew! That was close!” you think. Then, you see the sea of dangling cut ends and almost lose it. In your mind, you call off the party, wonder if fringe could possibly make a comeback, and end up wanting to curl up in a ball with a box of donuts. But, it’s your best friend and this sweater will be so beautiful when you are finished so you grab the tapestry needle and weave in those ends until your eyes cross! Expletives may or may not be used.
Tip: Weave in your ends as you go. This may slow down your process a bit but it will save you from the dread of weaving in ends for an hour.

Soaking Stinks


Photo Credit: Wool & the Gang

There is a certain amount of anxiety that comes with dunking your hand-dyed project in a vat of soapy suds. You never know what could happen. The yarn could bleed, your project could bloom from a medium to extra large, or plenty of other unpredictable outcomes. Generally, soaking turns your project into a softer than soft work of art that smells wonderful so this step is worth the 10 pound mass of wet sheep that you haul out of your tub!
Tip: If you are new to blocking, try one of our Soak minis to see which scent you like best!

Boooo! Blocking 


Photo Credit: tin can knits

After you have knit your garment, woven in any ends, and given it a nice bath, it’s time to block. This step is seriously where the magic happens but, boy can it be tedious with all those t-pins! Another common roadblock is finding an area large enough to block a 1200 yard shawl or, like we learned last year, a huge Carson Throw. Some people use their beds for large projects or tetris together blocking mats to fit the shape of their shawl. Either way, once you see those stitches come to life, you will realize that all your hard work was worth it. Garter turns glamorous, lace blooms into lovely webs, and even stockinette sparkles!
Tip: If you ended up with a garment that is just a smidge too short, you can attempt to add some length by aggressively blocking your garment. Wool is very forgiving and can stand a little stretch!

Now, we know not all of these things are as miserable as we are making them sound. Some of us really enjoy blocking! We also know that these finishing steps are completely worth it and take your project to the next level. There are just things we like to gripe about (ie: what’s a swatch even?) and know our knitter friends will always understand!


Hello, Bev from Boo Knits!

We had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing the ever-so-sweet Bev from Boo Knits. She is best known for her cobweb-like shawls that are drenched in delicate beads. If you haven’t already fallen in love with our favorite British knitwear genius, Bev, you will after reading her answers to a few of our questions!

Tell us about yourself.  
BevI live with my husband in Staffordshire, England – the very green bit, right in the centre of the country.
I totally and utterly fell into designing. I didn’t have any plans or ambition to design but one day I wanted to make a shawl from a skein of Fyberspates Faery Wings – I had one skein, only one skein. I wanted a shawl that was shallow and very wide but not quite a scarf. I couldn’t find a pattern that ticked the boxes on my wish list, that would use just the one skein, so thought I would have a go at making one myself. I created Dragonfly Wings (only named so as it was the colour of the yarn and wasn’t going to be a pattern). When it was shown on Ravelry, I was asked time and again where the pattern was from. When I explained that I had made it up, I was asked to write the pattern and offer it for others to knit. I did, I released it and then I was asked when the next pattern would be released. Little did I know what had started.

Who taught you to knit? 
My aunt tried to teach me when I was a child but gave it up as a bad job when I just couldn’t hold my yarn properly. I still don’t! Many, many years later I taught myself with the aid of books, YouTube and a fair bit of trial and error to find the easiest way that worked for me.

What does your designing process look like?
I would love to tell you that I am super organised but I would be lying. I have notebooks with jottings and small sketches. I stick in the odd picture that will jog my memory – usually small pictures torn from a plant catalogue, home décor magazine or a travel brochure. These are usually colour inspiration, sometimes shape or an atmosphere I want to capture in stitch. I sometimes work small swatches to see how a stitch will work best and these get stapled into the notebook too. It makes things easier if I keep everything together in one place – in theory anyway!

How do you choose what you will design next?
I find inspiration everywhere, leaf shapes, flowers, clouds, ploughed fields, the ocean, snowdrifts, books, old churches, gravestones, windows, locks and keys, architecture … Other times I will look at a skein of yarn and know exactly what it is going to look like knit up.

Your bead choice is flawless. Where do you find the best beads and how do you choose which to use? 
beadsThank you for such a lovely compliment! I buy beads when I see something I like, not for a specific project and I always buy lots of them as I don’t want to worry about running out. I have my beads on shelves in my yarn room and match yarn and beads as and when. I always thread five or six beads onto the yarn, usually five or six different options too, and leave the cake or skein for a couple of days so I can see the beads in different lights. Those that I don’t love are removed during this time and I am usually left with two or three to make a final decision. Then I ask Mr. Boo what he thinks; luckily this is usually the one I am leaning to too. When I get down to only a few beads in a jar I mix my own bead mixes so nothing goes to waste.

What are you currently knitting? 
WorkspaceI have just finished the sixth pattern of the Boos for Beginners Collection, Mojito. Just leapt onto the needles is the prototype for the Halloween MKAL for 2017 so unfortunately, not something I can describe to you or let you see but it will be lace and it will be beaded.

Your MKALs are always so popular and well thought out. Can you tell us about how you prepare for these? 
My patterns usually start with the name of the shawl and evolve from there. I will know exactly how it will look and then have to find the yarn that already exists in my mind. MKALs are different from a regular pattern as it is very difficult to substitute a yarn when a knitter has no idea what the pattern will look like or how it is to be blocked. Different fibres behave differently ie. Alpaca won’t hold a block as well as silk and it is not as strong. For a floaty and light shawl with more of a frill than a point, and not too many beads, Alpaca is perfect but for heavily beaded shawls with definite and strong blocking then silk is the one to go for. This decision is easier to make when you can see the finished item and this is why I usually work with a dyer to create special colours on a specific yarn for the MKALs. It also gives everyone the chance to use a yarn that they might not have tried otherwise and I get some reassurance that everyone will be happy with their finished shawls.

What is your favorite design and why? 
wintersweet2_medium2_mediumMy favourite changes but I think if I had to narrow it down I think my favourite of my patterns is Wintersweet, it has a kind of faded elegance to it; as though it belongs to a different era. The shawl I wear the most? There are two really, Rum and Cola and Puck. Both are really simple shawls, one light for warmer weather and the other in DK that makes a fabulous shawl/scarf for dog walking. Rum and Cola is the first shawl in the Boos for Beginners Collection and is aimed as those wanting to start to knit lace shawls. With a beaded body and a little bit of lace, it is super simple but not boring for more experienced knitters and is just so wearable! The shawl I knit the most often – a tie between Voodoo and Spellbound. Difficult to pin down

What designers do you admire? 
All of them! Designing, whatever you are designing, is not just a job or hobby, it is a way of life. I think all designers have to live with the ‘what if’ thought constantly in their mind. All of those questions, trials and endeavouring to find the best and easiest way to do something and translating that to a chart and/or written instructions so that it is crystal clear and easy to follow doesn’t have a switch to turn it off; it is something that you live with and is in your mind constantly.

In the sphere of knitting I especially love the flamboyance of Stephen West and his love for bright colours; the boldness and geometry of Veera Välimäki and the beautiful lace of Romi Hill! I shouldn’t forget that a large part of my work is inspired by the wonderful indie dyers who create the most magical colour combinations on some fantastic yarns.

When you’re not designing, where would we find you? 
lilI live in a beautifully rural area so if I am not designing I am either out in the lanes walking my dog Lil, baking, chatting on Ravelry (usually in the Boo Group) and, of course, knitting. I am a knitter first and foremost. What can I say; it isn’t really a hobby or even an obsession but it is a need. Definitely a need – something I have to do each day.

Do you have plans to expand? Would you ever stray from your beautiful lace shawl designs? 
Ha ha – never say never! I have plans; I always have plans!

What is your favorite thing about designing knitwear?
I love the excitement of transforming a skein of yarn into something that can be worn. The texture, colour and luxuriousness of fibre and the putting together of colour, pattern and beads. I am amazingly lucky to be able to play with colour, yarn and beads on a daily basis.

Are there ideas you have that just don’t translate into patterns? If yes, what happens to them? Do they just hang out in the back of your brilliant mind waiting to be used?
Well, if my mind was brilliant I would be able to translate them into patterns right away. These ideas linger in my mind. They are those elusive answers/solutions similar to the forgotten name of an actor or a song; as soon as you think it is within your grasp the answer runs away again. I make some notes and sketches and leave the idea for a while and work on something else. Usually they get solved but there is always one or two that just refuse to make it to reality.

We would like to thank Bev so much for taking the time to answer our questions and giving such thoughtful responses! You are truly a gem and we so admire your design skills.

Luxe Inara


Inara Wrap by Ambah O’Brien is a hugely popular pattern because it allows you to really show your personality with the colors you choose. Spaulson’s (Sara) Luxe Inara does just that, shows off her bright, happy, and fun personality! Read along as we dive deeper into the inspiration behind Sara’s color choices and hear the feats & foibles of her 903 yard quest to completing an Inara Wrap.

Was their any inspiration behind choosing this pattern, yarn, or
color combination?


I saw the pattern at some point last year and loved it. I’m a wrap kind of girl, and I love using multiple colors, so it was right up my alley. I’m also a blues-and-greens kind of girl, so using those colors was a given.
Using Madelinetosh Pashmina came from a desire to make it big and from the fact that I’d picked up a skein of the Leaf in Pashmina on a whim when it went on sale. I used the Leaf for 2016’s Black Locust Mitts FKAL and just LOVED the feel of the Pashmina. It is so, so soft on the skin.

How did you like the pattern? 

The pattern was well written, although I had to ignore some of the directions because I used an extra color (Birch Grey) instead of mirroring the colors.

Would I make it again? Probably not exactly the same — I’d make it a straight-up rectangle. It is super minor, but it bothers me that when I wear it wrapped around my neck the long corners aren’t symmetrical. Talk about first-world problems.

How did you choose your color combination? 

I had Leaf and Havana already when I decided to do the Inara, so I started
plotting out colors that would fit in a gradient alongside those two. I
spent a lot of time playing with the Color Picker tool on the ESK website.

There were some I ordered that I ended up not using — Cobalt, I’m looking
at you — and others I wanted to use that I just could not find like Big Sur.
Another kind ESK customer helped me out with a skein of Big Sur on Tosh Sport,
but the color on that base didn’t bridge between Havana and Leaf as well as
I wanted.

The best part? Now I have a whole bunch of pashmina leftovers begging me to
find more multiple-color projects! But there was one setback as seen in my project page notes:

Holy hells, the Havana was tangled beyond belief. Two parts of the skein looked like my 5-year-old had gone at them with both hands and feet. It took me HOURS, but I managed to painstakingly hand wind the darn thing. Good for a badge, at least?


We would like to congratulate Sara on winning a Kitty Pick & thank her for taking the time to give us all the details on her project. It is always so fun to hear other knitting stories & know we’re not the only ones who get super frustrated at tangled yarn or spend way too long debating the perfect color combination. In the end, a project like Luxe Inara is worth all the worry and work!

August Featured Yarn – Beefcake Sock


So many of you fell in love with Beefcake Sock from Squoosh Fiberarts in our Candyland mini-skein sets that we added full skeins of Beefcake Sock to our Squoosh line-up! If you are looking for pattern inspiration, check out the project pages on Ravelry for Madelinetosh Twist Light, Malabrigo Sock, or Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock as all of these knit up similarly to Beefcake Sock. Obviously, this is the perfect sock yarn so here are a few of our “non-socks” favorites:


Honestly, majority of Melanie Berg‘s patterns would look lovely in Beefcake Sock. This light fingering weight is so much more versatile than your typical sock yarn. It packs a punch with 25% Nylon and a super tight yet springy ply. Squoosh’s color palette lends perfectly to the blips of dashed color created in Moonraker. Choose 2 skeins of a coordinating color, light and dark grey shown here, and add pops of color that make you smile. Maybe you even have a set of our Beefcake Minis which would work wonderfully with any of Melanie’s very popular shawls.

lulu 2

So many of you loved the strangely satisfying technique of dropping stitches with our Clapotis FKAL that we thought we would suggest a similar pattern. Lulu by Anthony Casalena creates those same dropped stitches and mixes them beautifully with garter & slipped stitches. We would suggest pairing a solid/tonally variegated color with one of Squoosh’s few variegated colors. We would love to see how the drop stitches show off the expert dyeing in colors like Black & Blue or Steel.

Nalu Mittd

Nalu Mitts by Leila Raabe would be ideal knit up in Beefcake Sock. Think about it, anything worn on the hands needs added sturdiness and durability just like socks. Throughout the day, your hands come in contact with so many different things – grabbing coffee cups, pushing door handles, picking up kids, reaching in your bag – fingerless mitts need the added Nylon that Beefcake Sock boasts!