About

Gretchen Tracy is an American who's obsessed with knitting and currently living in Zürich, Switzerland with her husband and three small boys (find pics on her Instagram!). She enjoys designing one- and two-skein patterns that are quick knitting, easy enough to be fun, and difficult enough to keep her interest. In that vein, she has designed patterns for AllFreeKnitting and Crucci brand yarns, and some of her knits have been featured on the Berroco yarn blog and in Knitsy magazine. Last but not least, if you have any questions, hot design suggestions, or would simply like to reach out, she can be contacted at ballstothewallsknits@gmail.com.

91 comments:

  1. Hi Gretchen,
    I've found the perfect site for knitting quick and easy projects. I too do not have a lot of patience in following long patterns. So I've picked the grouchy hat and starting it now. I'm a new knitter so hoping it goes well. Yes, my fussy teenager actually loves the look of that hat on your page :D thats a great start for me :)
    Thanks for sharing,
    Saira

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    1. Hi Saira! I'm glad you've found a pattern that works for you :) And please let me know if you have any questions - I'm always happy to help (also, I TOTALLY should have called it the Grouch Hat instead! So much more character!!!).

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  2. Oops I meant Slouch Hat lol sorry for the typo...

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    1. Hello there! The simplest pattern that I have that's sized for those ages and can be knit back and forth is the Kids' Banana Beanie. I wrote it as a circular pattern originally, but if you scroll down to the comments you can find an adaptation for back-and-forth knitting. And I hope you earn your circulars :) I knit everything on them, and love being able to create seamless hats!

      http://www.ballstothewallsknits.com/2014/11/kids-banana-beanie.html

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  4. I just tried the wickerwork hat pattern and I love it! I used super bulky yarn and size 15 needles. Size 13 would've been a little better, but I love it. It will keep me warm during recess duty at school. :) Thanks!

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    1. I'm glad you like the pattern! I bet it's super cute in chunkier yarn :)

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  5. I thought of using the wickerwork pattern for a cowl. Have you tried that?

    Thanks!
    Melissa

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    1. Hi Melissa!

      You're right, it would make a really good cowl :) I haven't done it, although I know at least one person turned it into a scarf!!!

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  6. Any relation to Gloria Tracy?

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  7. I'm new to the joys of knitting and the internet, and just found your site. What a lovely place to escape! Thank you for sharing your marvelous designs and talent.

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    1. What a lovely compliment - thank you!!! :) And I'm glad you're discovering how wonderful knitting can be. Finally, as always, let me know if you're ever making any of my patterns and have questions - I'm always happy to help!

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    2. Hello Gretchen,
      I can't believe that all these projects are free to copy, Wow your a very talented lady to knit all of these hat's cowl's etc...... God sure knew, when he picked you to share,all of what you have to give to the rest of the world... Thank's a bunch God Bless you and family...

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    3. Thank you very much! I'm happy to be able to share all of my projects and designs, and am very happy to hear that you like them as well. :)

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  8. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful patterns. I'm looking for commuting projects at the moment and I think some of yours will keep me well occupied. Cheers

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    1. I am glad to hear you're enjoying them! :) And please, let me know if you ever have any questions - I'm always happy to help!

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  9. I am totally impressed with your blog - you are not just a really talented designer, but also super generous sharing your work with the world the way you do! Kudoz! I have become a die hard fan of your blog, and more or less everything I knit these days, are from here. Now: off to start on the wickerwork hat :) Inger Kontochristos, Norway

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    1. Thank you for your kind and lovely compliment! I just love knitting, and am happy that I can share that with so many people. :) Also: you're making the right choice with the Wickerwork Hat. I've gotten to see tons of finished products on Ravelry, and it's a hat that looks good in tons of colors and fibers. As always, let me know if you have any questions, and happy knitting!!!

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    1. No worries! But I have no way to recover deleted comments either way. :)

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  11. Hi Gretchen. I am trying to make the small arrowhead fingerless gloves. I have completed the first row in the directions for the thumb gusset. However, I am having trouble with the 2nd row where it states to work k2,yo,ssk,k2tog, yo,k2 and to repeat 6 times. I am not seeing this as there appears to be only 5 pattern repeats. Could you possibly elaborate the instructions for me. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

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    1. Hi Bev!

      If you're making the small size, you should have cast on 54 stitches. And since the stitch pattern has a 9-stitch repeat, I think you should have 6 repeats. Either way, you should simply be continuing in pattern while you add your thumb stitches, and then knitting all of your thumb stitches. So as long as you're continuing the pattern without interruption, you should be okay! :)

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  12. Difficulty with the diagonal weave cowl. Do the yarn overs end up in the back of the cowl? Is the front of the cowl where the point where stitches are joined in the round? Is the pattern supposed to be uniform all the way around until you get to the back (second marker after 49 stitches?) The front middle does not work. Lattice work interrupted between stitches just before and after the first marker where stitches were begun and joined in round.

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    1. Hi there!

      The extra stitch marker and the yarn overs actually end up in the front of the cowl, and form a kind of diagonal line down the front. It's hard to see in the pictures (that also means the row marker will end up at the back of the cowl). As far as your other questions are concerned - there is a break at that extra stitch marker that does interrupt the pattern, although it resumes on either side, and there is also a break in the lattice pattern at the join in the back, which you can see in the pictures of the back of the cowl. This is because continuing the lattice work over the seam would require slipping stitches back and forth across the row marker (which you can certainly do, but I decided that, being in the back, it was unnecessary). Let me know if you have any other questions! :)

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  13. Just want to let you know that I adore your fabulous patterns. I am in awe of how you come up with so many great designs so regularly and my gift recipients and I appreciate your creativity and variety. Thank you for doing what you do!!

    Sincerely,

    A happy knitter in Utah

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    1. You are too kind! :) Obviously I love to knit, and I do it to keep myself sane. Being able to share my creations with so many lovely people, and to see the projects they come up with, is a wonderful added bonus!!! :)

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  14. Hi from Scotland Gretchen. I wonder if you can tell me if the Wickerwork hat could be knitted in Double knitting wool as I cannot get the Patons Classic that the pattern suggests. Hope you don't mind me asking. Hugs Rita xx

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    1. Hi Rita!

      Let me know your specific yarn gauge (stitches per 4 inches) and I can help you with some modifications. And I definitely don't mind your asking! :)

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  15. I have wanted for 3 years to make a simple shrug but can't find the combination I want of making it bulkier, thus quicker to knit, and also in a plus size to fit my oversized bicep area. I want ribbed cuffs (this is for WARMTH) for at least 2" then increases in time to fit my large arms. I would knit it in the round so there would be no sewing. I also am limited to whatever I can buy at my small local Walmart store... sorry, but that's how it is. I'm thinking redheart standard yarn (worsted?) with size 9 maybe for the ribbing and 11 for the body? Then do swatches to get gauge for ribbing then body? Then calculate # of stitches needed at what point to determine increases? Or is there an easier way?? Thanks so much for your help. I know you don't have any shrugs, but with just cuffs and simple knitting I am hoping you'll take a moment to help me out. Thanks SO MUCH! ;-D

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    1. Hi Sherry!

      I would love to be able to design something like this for you, but I haven't branched into sized clothing pieces yet (almost exclusively because I simply don't have the time right now). Perhaps I could help you modify a pattern, though? I found one on Ravelry that seems like it might suit your needs - made in the round, ribbed cuffs (although they use a large needle for the ribbing - obviously we could change that!!!), and 14 stitches per 4 inches. Here's the link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fisherman-shrug. Like I said, I could help you modify this pattern to suit your needs, if you'd like. If you're interested, email me at ballstothewallsknits@gmail.com. :)

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    2. Oh, wait, that one has to be sewn together too! I'll see if I can find anything else.

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    3. Ooh, what about a cropped shrug where you simply made the arms longer and added some shaping to narrow them as they go? http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kaya-cropped-raglan-shrug

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  16. I didn't mention that the with the worsted I'm thinking of using 2 strands. Thanks ;-D

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  17. Just found your blog, really nice! i'm glad i stumbled on it.

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you like it!!! And please, let me know if you ever have any questions. I'm always happy to help! :)

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  18. Just found your blog and love all your designs! I find both knitting and crocheting my "therapy" after a long day in the office! (considering what I spend on yarn, it would probably be cheaper to see a therapist!!!) Thanks for sharing all your ideas and patterns!

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    1. Ha! Yes, I'm guilty of the same thing... but a therapist would never understand me like my yarn does! :) Anyway, glad you're enjoying my site. And please, let me know if you ever have any questions! I'm always happy to help!!!

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  19. I have a question about the Bricklayer's Lace Blanket. I was looking for a pattern for my expected great grandchild and I am loving this one. However, I have a question about knitting within the stars to form the pattern. It says "until you have "x" amount of stitches left in row. I have been following the pattern and find that the amount of stitches at the end of the row will vary. Should I be ending when the suggested number at the end of the row is stated? I have started over once believing that each time I should have 96 stitches on the needles but this isn't happening and I am frustrated.

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    1. Hi there!

      I'm sorry to hear that you're frustrated. Of course I can answer any specific questions you're having about one row or the other, but in general the idea is that you have a 4-stitch garter border on each side, a 12-stitch pattern repeat that you'll work across the middle, and then 2 extra stitches sandwiched between the pattern and the border on each side that help set up & finish the pattern. So, after knitting your first 6 stitches of each right side row (edge 4 + set-up 2), you should have 90 stitches left in the row. Then after working your between-the-stars stitch pattern 7 times (or 12x7, which is of course 84), you'll have a final 6 stitches which should be just enough to finish the last of the instructions given (with the slight exception of row 8, where you only work 5 existing stitches before you start the pattern repeat and then have 7 to end with when you get to the other side).

      If none of my explanation is helping, though, and you keep repeating the pattern and ending up with strange numbers of stitches at the end, I suggest placing stitch markers after each pattern repeat (so after each set of 12 pattern stitches). That way you'll catch a dropped/missed stitch immediately simply by counting, and it will help you stay even in each row! :)

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    2. Thank you, Gretchen. I will try again and use the stitch markers as a guide.

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    3. What a difference a stitch marker makes! I went from frustrated to excited and happy with the design of the blanket. I do appreciate the time you took to break down the pattern and help me to make sense of it. This is the second time I've visited your site for a pattern and I will surely be back for more.

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    4. I'm so glad to hear it! I can definitely get bogged down in lace patterns, and stitch markers are my favorite solution! Anyway, glad to hear things are now going well. Let me know if you have any other questions! :)

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  20. Help - do you have instructions for lady lawyer arm warmers using circular needles?

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    1. Hi there! To knit something of this small circumference on circulars, you will either need to have a 9" circular needle or use the Magic Loop method - there are plenty of internet tutorials for it, but here's a link to one: http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/10/demystifying-the-magic-loop/

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  21. Hello from Utah, USA! I absolutely adore and appreciate your patterns and posts and am so thankful for your generosity with your excellent talent. I am sorry to hear about your forearm issues and as much as I enjoy your posts, yes, please slow down and take more time for healing as I hope to see your patterns for many years to come. It is a hard thing to do but worth it for the recovery and ability to continue to do what you enjoy as long as you want. Thank you again for your incredible posts and make the best of your recovery and healing.

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    1. Thank you for the well wishes! :) And yes, I'm trying to slow down but I have to admit that I'm my own worst enemy - I get bored and WANT to knit and then have to force myself to listen to my body instead of just my brain. I'm getting better at it, though! :)

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  22. I can't thank you enough for the hours of knitting fun you have provided me with!!! THANK YOU!!! I told my husband that I wished you were my neighbor. You are so talented and your willingness to share your talent so freely with everyone is amazing! I love every pattern I've tried so far and can't wait to make them all :). Happy knitting!

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    1. Thanks Melody, that's awfully kind! :) And I bet our ACTUAL neighbors wish they could trade places with you too - especially our downstairs ones (so many kid feet!!!). ;) Anyway, let me know if you ever have any questions, and I hope you keep enjoying my site!

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  23. I just stumbled across your blog and I wanted to say, your patterns are gorgeous. You are inspirational. Thank you so much for being generous with your talent. Sending love all the way from Key West FL :)

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    1. Thank you! I'm always happy to hear that people appreciate my work! :)

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  24. Hi Gretchen: We are in the process of doing the "Friend of the Forrest Hood" and got to the Transition Rows where we break from the round and go back and forth. BUT, the pattern reads to KNIT the even rows, which would give us a purl bump on the outside, is that correct? We don't see a purl ridge on any of the pictures, the whole hood look StSt. HELP!!!! :) Thanks in advance!!!!

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    1. Hi there! The instructions once you begin knitting back and forth read:

      "Row 1 (wrong side): k1, purl until you have 1 stitch left in row, k1

      Row 2: knit"

      So you should be purling all of your wrong-side rows (other than the first and last stitches, which will give you a nice edge when you go to pick up your stitches around the face hole), and knitting your right-side rows. Since you're going to have to turn your work around to begin knitting back and forth at the break, the first not-in-the-round row is of necessity a wrong-side row, which makes the even rows knit rows, as you suggested, but also right side rows, so you shouldn't get any garter. Does that help at all??? :)

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    2. Yes, it does, thank you!! A friend is knitting it and I was trying to help her, so I wasn't working the pattern myself, plus I have a head cold, so I was just hitting a wall with my thinking. Thank you!!!! Great website and patterns! Thank you!!!

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    3. No worries, I understand; I hit a wall with my thinking any time I have 2+ children yelling at me. :) Glad I could help!

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  25. Great website. Congrats! I'm in love with your projects: colours, patterns, easy enough to work. Many many thanks

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    1. Thank you! I am very interested in that sweet spot between boring and fussy and I'm always glad to hear people appreciate it! :)

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  26. Hi, I love your blog! One pattern idea I have is something in brioche knitting. I recently tried it and fell in love with the way it feels, both to knit and after it's done. There are only a few free brioche patterns that are more complex and interesting than the basics, I'm wondering if designing a slightly more complex brioche pattern is something you'd ever be interested in.

    I really like the top down, triangular brioche shawls, I've made a basic one, but the shawls I've done typically have the right side a mirror of the left and vise versa. I've seen some paid patterns where the brioche seems to be at a different angle than a mirror angle on one side... if that makes any sense. Maybe trying to replicate that would be interesting? I'm not sure how it's done.

    Anyways, thank you for all your patterns!

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    1. Hi back! And I'm glad to hear you like my site; I do what I can. :) Anyway, it's funny that you mention brioche - I actually took a brioche class back in March and have been kicking around ideas, although I'll certainly have to play with the stitch a bit more before I can come up with anything fun. I'll definitely move it higher up my priority list though!!!! :)

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  27. Hi Gretchen,

    I just wanted to let you know that I am a BIG fan of your patterns. I have made several, each one seems better than the last! I keep coming to your site and getting more. I was a knitting addict before finding your patterns, but now....well....I believe I'm incurable! Keep up the great work (so I can keep knitting)!
    Moira

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    1. Hi Moira!

      Thanks for your kind comment - I love getting this kind of feedback! :) And don't worry, they'll keep coming - I have a hat pattern for this week that I'm really excited about!!!

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  28. Love your site ! its frosty and may snow here in Pensacola Florida! much love, Rose

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    1. Oooh I love the snow (we got a few inches last night!). And I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying my site. :)

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  29. Hi Gretchen

    I really like your blog. I noticed you are in Zurich. Would you happen to know someone who would appreciate a complete set of 5' Chiaogoo interchangeable needles (new)? I'd be willing to sell them for CHF 130.-

    Thanks and regards, Jan

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    1. Hi Jan!

      Glad you like my website. :) And I don't know of anyone off the top of my head but I'll let you know if I find someone!

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  30. Wow, thanks Gretchen. That's very kind of you.

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  31. Wow i love your patterns! I’ll be following you from now. I just picked up knitting since i moved to the US a year ago.
    I have a skein of lacy fingering yarn I want to make into a cowl. What pattern do you think will fit?

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    1. Oh, it depends on the yarn of course, but two that I'm partial to are these:

      https://www.ballstothewallsknits.com/2016/06/divine-drape-cowl.html

      https://www.ballstothewallsknits.com/2014/08/zigzag-ribbon-stitch-cowl.html

      I think I used slightly heavier weight yarn in the first one, but it's knit on oversized needles in any case so I think it would still work with a fingering! :)

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  32. Your site is great. I knit for Knots of Love and enjoy using your designs. Since I live in Southeast Arizona, I do not knit hats for myself. Finding the yarn you specify in the patterns is no easy fete. I usually substitute and use a yarn that I can get the same gauge.There is not a yarn store within 100 miles and ordering on line you can't feel the lovely yar s before purchasing. Thank you again for making knit hats fun.

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    1. Yes, I usually buy whatever I can find on sale - substitutions are always encouraged! :) Anyway glad you're enjoying my patterns!!!

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  33. Gretchen, I have missed seeing new patterns on your blog in recent months. All OK with you and yours?

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    1. Hi there! Thanks for your note. :) And yes, things are fine but I've been struggling with some issues with repetitive stress injuries... Sadly, no more knitting for me, at least for now!

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    2. Oh dear!! I’ll be pulling for your recovery and return to the yarn life. In the meantime, I hope you are finding other outlets for your creative talents! Maybe a vlog on parenting in Sweden??

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    3. Thank you! And I've been trying to figure out something else to do... only time will tell, I suppose. :)

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    4. Gretchen .. I've just noticed on http://www.ballstothewallsknits.com/2014/12/fantastic-welted-cowl.html#more a better pic than I'd seen before. If I'd had that in front of me sooner I'd have realised!
      The pattern is plainly sitting in neat columns. Now I'm just wondering where I should put the second k2tog in each repeat. If I go back to that pic, I might be able to see where it's been done.
      Thanks!

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    5. Oh Gretchen! I've discovered what I've done WRONG! It's in the execution of the ssk!! Sorry to have bothered you! I'm NOW on the right track!! Will start again and will enjoy doing it to the end!
      THANK YOU!!

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    6. Hi Gretchen, I have been following and knitting your designs for quite some time and was wondering why there hasn't been any new postings for awhile. I'm sorry to hear about the repetitive stress injuries, hope you are recovering well!

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    7. Hi Karen!

      Thanks. :) It's a super slow process but hopefully I'll be back one day! I do miss it, or course. And I appreciate you thinking of me! :)

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  34. Hi Gretchen,
    I'm all the way from Australia! We recently had the joy of visiting our daughter and her family in Seattle! Apart from via Skype, we hadn't met their youngest who is now four! Our daughter took the kids shopping and they each chose yarn for Nannie to knit a SCARF!
    We're now home, I brought the yarn with me and the finished items will be dispatched to them shortly.
    I hunted for suitable patterns for the purpose and decided that for one of them, your pattern for the Fantastic Welted Cowl, on circular needles, would be perfect! I've enjoying it UNTIL ..
    I cast on the 88 stitches for child and have knitted about 6". But I've just realised that I now have way too many stitches .. in fact I have 88 PLUS 83 stitches. Knitting (in front of TV!!) on a circular needle I hadn't noticed it growing, although I did notice that the pattern was not in the same place with each row! I should have discovered this sooner .. Looking again at the pattern, I see the main "pattern" row increases by two stitches (kfb twice) each repeat, but has K2tog only ONCE.
    I guess the simple thing is to undo what I've done and try with adding a second K2tog into each repeat, but thought I should check with you first.
    In the printed page I'm following the repeat is definitely as follows:
    *K2tog, k2, knit into front and back of next two stitches (kfb twice), k3, ssk*
    Now that I've found you and your blog, I know where to go for some amazingly generous information and patterns!
    Thank you!

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  35. Gretchen .. I've just noticed that "follow-up comments will be sent to prosperous@itelcom.net.au. That email address has been obsolete for YEARS. I'll have to talk to the Google system and see how I can have it deleted, once and for all!

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    1. Hi Margot!

      Glad to hear you got to visit your grandchildren - I'm actually from north of Seattle, originally. :) And please don't worry about asking questions - I'm always happy to help, and even happier to read comments in which a person can answer their own questions!!! :)

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  36. Hi Gretchen,
    I'm working on Doug Fir Mittens, size M. Please clarify the following. At the point of the thumb break, how many stitches should I have on all needles? I'm not coming out right on the decreases. i'm sorry if you addressed this earlier. I just got confused somehow.
    Thank you,
    Barbie

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    1. Hi Barbie!

      You should be back to your original stitch count - 40, in the same distribution as before. If you're one or two stitches off I recommend either transferring more/fewer to your thumb, or adding or decreasing a stitch or two as needed - I doubt anyone will notice in the end! If it's more than that more ripping may be required, though. Anyway, if you still need help and have more specifics, let me know! I'm always happy to help. :)

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  37. Hi Gretchen I knitted your Iris Bloom hat, I found it easy to follow the pattern which for a relatively new knitter it made me quite happy! I didn't check my gauge first so(my bad), I should have gone up a needle size for the yarn I was using. Which brings me to my question: most of the yarn I have been buying is listed as yarn weight # or by sock, worsted, bulky ect… When I am looking at your patterns I am not sure what weight of yarn to buy, can you help me to figure that out?

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    1. Hi there! In general I follow the Craft Yarn Council guidelines - found here https://www.craftyarncouncil.com/standards/yarn-weight-system - so you can tell based on stitches per 4 inches from there. To make it easier, I also tag all of my posts with the correct yarn weight, so you can find it in a tag below all the photos, but above the comments! :)

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    2. Thank you I see where you tagged it now!

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  38. Dear Gretchen,
    I'm ready to begin your Divine Drape Cowl. Your pattern says:
    "Using your size 5 needles and a length of scrap yarn, then, cast on 35 stitches provisionally. Transfer work to your size 4 needles and knit two transition rows, as follows:
    Transition Row 1 (wrong side): purl...."
    I've cast on the 35 sts with waste yarn. Do I slip the waste yarn to the size 4 needles? Do I knit a row with my cowl yarn while still on the size 5 needles before Transition Row 1? Or is Transition Row 1 both the first row of my cowl yarn and the first row on Size 4 needles? Thank you in advance! DLB

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  39. Hi there! Y

    use size 5 needles to create a slightly larger stitch, for when you come back later and pick up the other side. So I would just leave the waste yarn in place, and then knit the set of stitches from your size 5 needle onto a size 4 needle for the next row, but there's no need to transfer them beforehand. :)

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

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