Biography of a knitter, an old one

I started knitting at age seven because it was safer than embroidery, and landed my first professional gig in 1962, at age 14, when I was commissioned  to knit three angora sweaters for a girl at my school.

I grew up with the neighborhood go-to knitter . . . my mother.  Her work was exquisite and her needles were never idle. Women wandered in and out of our house at odd hours of the day and evening, needles and yarn in hand when they met one of those sticking points that can stop a knitter cold.

In a minute or less my mother would fix a “goof” or, more often, she spent more time and taught a new skill so the knitter could go on. She was a good teacher and her work was precise. And . . .  she was the only show in town. There were no local yarn shops in the 1950s. Department or dry goods stores sold yarn and children (girls, really) learned these skills from family members. If your family was not around or didn’t have these skills, Lena was your ticket to success.

Thus I grew up with knitting as much a part of my world as eating. It’s what we did. And although my primary profession was teaching high school English, when my son was little and I wanted to work from home it made sense to open a knitting school next door. I also worked one day a week at the local yarn shop and became “The Tuesday Troubleshooter.” Without going into too much detail, from the mid-80s to the mid 90s I taught, wrote magazine articles, hired a professional producer to create 4 instructional videos, solved hundreds of knitting problems and wrote a book. Then family needs got bigger and I no longer followed what was going on in the professional knitting world.

Bio pic 1991 (teehee)

Video cassettes went the way of dial telephones but Sweater 101 stuck around and when it went out of print in January, 2007, I was ready to let it go permanently OOP. It had been in print since 1991 (published originally by Patternworks) and that was a long run for any book. But just for the heck of it I Googled myself and the book. We were early adopters of the internet but I had never thought to do that before. Nor had I looked at anything about knitting, and Wow! I was blown away by the amount of knitting information on the web and the fact that there was a whole new generation of young, smart knitters eager for more. One of them had, in fact, blogged about Sweater 101 the week before my search. It was the first blog post I ever read and it modified my life plans. I spent the next year+ getting the book back into print and am now participating in the professional knitting life again. It’s fun to be back. I like knitters. I always have.

You can find my new classes at CherylBrunette TV on YouTube.

TO CONTACT ME

(Please excuse the soot on my nose. I took this after cleaning my chimney. Do not contact me about cleaning your chimney. Only about knitting stuff.)

chimneysweep

cb at cherylbrunette dot com

Translate that into a regular email address by substituting @ for “at” and a period for the word “dot” and running it all together without spaces.

or send something to my Post Office Box:

Cheryl Brunette
P O Box 112
Nordland WA 98358

43 Replies to “Biography of a knitter, an old one”

  1. Hillary Hatch/Conrad says:

    Dear Cheryl,
    Thanks for your latest news about the round bind off . It’s just great and I would have never thought of doing it.
    Short rows > I prefer the German short row – I made a sweater last year and used this technique on the very long sloping shoulders. I find it much easier – even after translating the English directions into the German short row.
    Just in case others have not thought of this > I put all of your newsletters in a file and have just about everything I will ever need on great knitting tips in one place on my laptop.
    Thanks for teaching us all to think about how we knit and becoming more independent of patterns > We have the choice to make them even better.

    Fond regards from Cologne, Germany.

    Hillary

    1. Hi Hillary! Yes. I like the German short row method too. I just didn’t know about it 25 years ago. 🙂 Isn’t it wonderful the resources we have for learning now? I have a video planned that will use them but in a very specific context, making knit-as-you-go cardigan bands the same length as the body of the sweater. There are already many videos out there that teach the technique, but I like to show it in a practical use. Danke vielmals for your fond regards. I send them back to you in Köln.

  2. Charr Skirvin says:

    Oh dear! Hadn’t thought about moth eggs. The sweater and yarn are now in the freezer. Thanks!!

  3. Charr Skirvin says:

    Lesson learned! I started a wool sweater last fall, but had to put it down when other events took over. I’ve been looking forward to getting back to the sweater, so last week I dug out my knitting basket — and found to my chagrin that moths had been at the knitting. (Fortunately the rest of the yarn was in a plastic bag and was fine.) I decided that since the sweater was still in process, the best thing was to unravel past the hole, splice the yarn and go on. As I unraveled I found a section where I had done the Russian join, still strong and knittable, which I learned from one of your videos. This reminded me of how much I’ve learned from your videos and from Sweater 101. Thanks for all the tips, videos and, encouragement of us knitters.

    1. Oh uugh Charr! Sorry to hear about those rascals and delighted that your Russian Join held strong. I think you would be well served by putting the sweater and all the yarn into a large plastic bag, close it, and put it in your freezer for a week. Those moth eggs are tiny and there may be some hidden in the sweater. A week in freezartica will kill them. Do the same to any other random yarn that may have been exposed. And you are so welcome. 😀

  4. Do you have an index for knitting problems?

  5. Janene Duble says:

    Hi Cheryl,

    I just bought your book Sweater 101. I bought a Bond knitting machine years ago and I have watched your video’s on tube on meet your bond. I want to make sweaters for my granddaughter 18 inch doll. The patterns I have found for these dolls are one piece. Could you guide me on how to make a pattern for the Bond for the doll? I don’t hand knit, I only know how to crochet.

    1. Hi Janene. I would take a sweater (or top) that the doll already has and take the measurements of all the pieces. Then use one of the Sweater 101 templates to write them out. Next you need a good gauge swatch from the BOND. After it rests you can calculate the number of sts you need as described in the book, just as you would do for a human sized sweater.

      p.s. You do know about my BOND videos on YouTube, right? Starting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6qNpsz8QTc&list=PL24C38EC1BABA93C0 and then going on to “Your First BOND Sweater,” you would learn the order in which to make the pieces and join them on the BOND. Let me know how it turns out.

  6. anna tsaccounis says:

    Hi Cheryl! I am working on the baby sweater at the neck shaping. I have 17 stitches for my collar, am I doing it right if I bind off one stitch on either side of the plaket. or do I bind off two stitches and decrease 4 on either side. Now my 24 rows is a purl do i cast of the one stitch or two stitches on purl side or knit side and when i do the decreases do i decrease on the purl side or knit. Sorry for all the questions as this is my first sweater!!!

    1. Hi Anna. You have 17 sts at the back of the neck. You probably bound off 5 stitches at the base of your placket hole. I would bind off 2 sts on each side and then decrease the 4 sts on either side. You have to cast off at the beginning of a row (it doesn’t work at the end of a row) so whichever type you’re on, do it. As for the decreases, they are every other row and it doesn’t matter if you do them on knit rows or purl rows though knit rows might be a little easier for you to see since this is your first sweater. That might make one side with the decreases off from the other side by one row but don’t worry about that. Once you put the collar on no one will ever notice.

  7. Hi Cheryl,
    I bought Sweater 101 today and I have almost finished reading it! I’m so excited because I can now get things to fit first time. I learned to knit when I was very young and hated it because it took too long. Now as I have grown patient and introspective its one of my greatest past times. I travel a lot for work and take my knitting with me it always draws comments. I’ve watched you videos often to get me out of a sticky spot.
    Thank you again love your work!
    Jennifer

    1. You are so welcome and thank you for your kind comment, Jennifer. Here’s to many more years of your happy knitting.

  8. Kareem Wilder says:

    Cheryl,

    It’s Kareem from B&H. I had such a great time helping you today. I wish all of my customers were like you.

    1. Kareem! Did you get a copy of the customer-support email I sent singing your praises? I made a copy and now that I have your email address I’m going to send it to you right now. The camera came yesterday and the battery just finished charging. As always, I’m intimidated by any new technology but I’ll get over that and figure it out. You were great! Thanks.

  9. Donna Messana says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    First I want to say thank you. Anyone who takes they’re personal time to help others are angels. I’ve taken up knitting and cannot get enough. Finances are my primary obstacle since I cannot spend tons of money on knitting lessons. I have a bit of difficulty with reading comprehension and math is not my strong point. Put these three things together and you can see how knitting is a challenge for me. However, I’m determined to learn so I watch YouTube videos constantly. I’ve purchased classes on crafty when they were on sale however, they don’t keep the camera on the knitting when demonstrating the tecnique or they show the technique once or twice and then start knitting fast so you have to keep rewinding to watch it again (very frustrating). Many YouTube videos teach you a new stitch pattern but don’t really show you how, when, where to apply it. For instance, selvege. What is that. And these wrap and turns. Ohhhh, and charts (scare the heck out of me). And of course everyone knits differently so you can watch six different videos on the same thing and it’s done six different ways. As a new knitter this is confusing. I wish there where a way to learn knitting in a given sequence to make it easier to learn. With clear, concise video demonstrations. My apologies for such a long comment and again thank you for ALL you do. Warmest regards

    1. Hi Donna. No apologies please. I appreciate your comment and your input on this subject. One of my potential future projects is a series of videos to teach knitting to kids. I’ve been an educator of youth for 50+ years and I never talk down to them so the series would also be appropriate for adults. I’ve specialized in teaching people to make simple sweaters with some measure of success and I am going to add to that project first. Then one on finishing, then one on teaching knitting from scratch. These projects take me months or longer to complete. I’m following Mark Twain’s adage, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” I’m taking the time to write “short letters,” to refine the sequence of instruction. I only want to do legacy work. Work that will be useful enough to outlast me.

      I’m actually glad to hear that there is a need for this. But this year has already been assigned its big project. 🙂

  10. Muriel Fitzgerald Jones says:

    Hi, Cheryl, I havel long been a fan of your Bond Knitting videos, which I own. I’ve not used my Bond for years now but would love to make one of those t-shaped Guideposts/World Vision kid sweaters. I’ve found one instruction on Ravelry, but frankly, I don’t GET it. LOL! I’m rewatching your early lessons. Do you have any hints for this project? Start abovve the bottom Ribbing & rehang to do the ribbing later? Make the body front and back in one piece to save on seams? Then you have to increase and decrease big time for the slleve/shoulder area? I’m overwhelmed, but the project seems to worthy & a great way to use up yarns. I’ll have to really review your lessons on increasing and decreasing! Thank you for your lessons. I now find them on YouTube. If I’m entering this question on the wrong blog, please forgive me!

  11. joann phillips says:

    Hi again Nancy. I am starting a basic V neck sweater for my son in law who is a very husky, broad shoulder man. He measures 46 inches around the chest and 23 inches across the shoulder width. The problem I’m having is that I won’t have enough stitches to shape the armholes. Here’s the math I did—at 5 stitches per inch, I have 120 stitches to give me a width of 48 inches. I’ve allowed for 2 inches of ease. His shoulder width measures 23 inches. Subtracting 1 inch leaves me with 22 X 5=110 stitches to work with. That is only 10 stitches less than the 120 stitches I have to work with, or 5 left and right bind offs. Do I dare decrease another 10 stitches (5 per side) to get a nice rounded armhole edge? Would switching to one size larger needle once I get to the armholes be a viable solution?

    By the way, I love your “Sweater 101” I just ordered the e-book. I did look through it for a solution to my problem, but being a seamstress, I know how difficult it can be to find a pattern/solution to fit every shape.

    Thanks Bunches

    1. Good grief Joann! Sorry I missed this all those months ago. Among other things I was hospitalized with some serious thing that kept me only partially functional for a few months (a lot of mental confusion after dangerously high temps. I swear I cooked some brain cells though I’m feeling mostly clear now.) And I think I glanced at this, couldn’t figure it out and was thrown off by the “Hi again Nancy” intro. 🙂

      Wow .. In a case like this I think I would first look for a sweater that already fits him, though I bet that’s a problem. You might cheat by making the shoulders a little narrower. As long as you adjust the the sleeve caps it should work. I would imagine you had to make the top of the sleeve much wider.

      As a seamstress you have some skills that will help you. It would basically be like adjusting a regular pattern. What did you finally do and did it work? What did you learn? I’d like to know more about how to deal with this body-type myself.

  12. Nancy Norris Ward says:

    Hi Cheryl,

    Are you the Riverside High School salutatorian that I graduated with? I have just discovered knitting in retirement and I really appreciate all of your videos on finishing techniques.

    1. Hi Nancy. Yes, it is I. I’m glad you like those old finishing videos and thank you for watching them. How are you?

  13. Can you give me some tips for messy edges/curling edges (not stockinette)? I seem to have issues with excess yarn with the last stitch and when I start the next row the edge is not lying flat or looking good. I have searched the internet, but there is very little reference i can find. Surely I’m doing something wrong- knitting too tight, loose?

    thanks for your help
    Pat

    1. Hi Pat. This is really a good question. Often this is a result of something you’re doing unconsciously as you turn your work. If you stop and are very intentional about pulling the last st tight, turning the work, then pulling the first st tight, that might help. Or you might knit the first and last st of every row or try an edge where you slip the first st of every row. What kinds of pattern sts are you talking about? Garter? rib? I might be of more help with more information.

  14. you are a great teacher, but I am a “see to do” learner. Enterlac has me very interested and I have bee learning on the needles, now i am trying to move it over on the Bond and it is just not going anyplace.. I have watched all of your youtubes and have not found anything on Enterlac on the Bond. I am so hoping you have something if not, I hope that you will consider doing something..
    Thank you so much for what you are doing for us old kintters .
    By the way I did get a USM book with the enterlac instructions in it and i am really confused, there was just not enough detail and just could not see where I was going.

  15. I have all your videos. I purchased them when they first were available
    but they are all in VHS formate. Are your videos available in DVD or will they become available. I have a very old VCR that still works but would like to play DVD as I don’t know how long it will last. Thanks

  16. joann phillips says:

    Cheryl,

    I’ve been watching your You Tube videos and am very impressed with the techniques you use to finish sweaters. Are instructions for these techniqus included in your book?

    Thanks so much~!

    1. Hi Joann,

      I refer to the finishing techniques only in a brief way in the book. Sweater 101 is about understanding how to size and shape sweaters that fit. I made Finishing 101 as a supplement to the book. Together they covered 98%+ of the problems I worked with when I was a yarn shop trouble shooter . . . how to get sweaters to fit well and how to make them “look good” with their seams and finishing techniques. It’s all part of one package.

  17. Teresa Warner says:

    Love the book … Especially LOVE the utube video tutorials! I need the “visual” to supplement the written format. Is it possible for you to combine videos & create dvd to compliment your book? I am willing to pay for it ….

  18. Teresa Warner says:

    I have ur book & have taken parts 1 & 2 of the video tutorials … When do you expect to have the other parts filmed / on utube? How can I use book to continue with the sweater in workshop?

    1. There are 2 more up now and I’m getting to them as I can. I have a full substitute teaching schedule for a couple of weeks so I’m not getting to the studio often.

      You could, in fact, go to the book right now and finish the sweater. The only thing you would miss are some little hints along the way. But people have made sweaters with the book for years without having to be walked through it via video.

  19. Melanie Campbell says:

    Not at all computer literate, this is the first ebook I’ve purchased and I’m so pleased that a) you accept Paypal and b) that I can obtain a copy since I had no luck on Amazon.co.uk and postage from USA to Scotland can be expensive.

    I’m not maths oriented either, but your instructions look comprehensive so I’m going to give it a go. I’m so desperate to be able to knit something with a yarn of my choice, I can’t wait! I would love to get a spiral bound hard copy so hopefully you’ll get a UK supplier sometime soon.

    1. Hi Melanie,

      I’m not likely to get a UK supplier, but I do ship to the UK. The most affordable postage is about $33 US, that plus $33 for the book=$66. If you’d like one email me at cb@cherylbrunette.com and I’ll tell you how to pay through PayPal.

      I’m so glad you’re courageous enough to give it a go. I’ll be giving lots of guidance coming up on my YouTube knitting channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/CherylBrunetteTV/featured. There’s lots of knitting help there already.

      Warm regards, Cheryl

  20. Mary Daly says:

    I purchased my first Bond machine, by mail order from Patternworks, in 1985. I attended workshops held in Walnut Creek, CA soon after. Were you involved with those workshops or the people who were?
    Just found your videos today and they are fantastic! Thank you. Mary D.

    1. Hi Mary. Wow! You are a long-time Bonder too. No, I never made it that far south. I just taught in WA state and in Portland. However I had a great dealer for my videos in Walnut Creek. Yarn Country was the name of the business? The woman who owned it had a couple of stores and was great both in her dedication to education and her business practices.

  21. Louise Belanger says:

    Hello,
    I would like to purchase Sweater 101 in hardcover. Do you ship to Canada? I have tried to check out with Canada and my postal code but it doesn’t work.
    Thanks,
    Louise

  22. Gosh Mary . . . thank you for your kind words. And you are so welcome. I love to teach. If it empowers someone, I love it even more.

  23. Thank you for making this book available again! It’s such a gem of wealth in the information it provides, I think you should definitely keep it in print! I’ve yet to knit a sweater. My first attempt at making my grandson a sweater was such a disaster. After reading your book, I’m ready to try again and it alll makes sense now! The book is easy to understand and the instructions are very clear. The charts provided are wonderful and I am so excited, I just know the next sweater is going to work!

    You book is definitely going to be my sweater bible!

    Thanks for being such a fabulous teacher and sharing the knowledge!
    Mary

  24. Julie Boylan says:

    Just bought a knitting machine so I’m looking forward to seeing your videos.

  25. Clarice Lee says:

    Hello Cheryl,
    I love your book. I have been knitting ill fiiting sweaters for 25 years. I am so ready to do it right.
    I would like to purchase your book. May I do this through your web site, or can I send you a check.
    Thank You So Much,
    Clarice

    Lake Stevens, WA 98258

  26. I’m grateful it’s helping you.

  27. Cheryl,
    Thanks so much for commenting on my blog…thank you also for inspiring me to jump in and try to design. I have a 12 year old daughter who loves to design and I take her ideas, alter them a bit and then execute. Your book has inspired me to get started. Estella

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