Friday, June 14, 2019

Gauge Measurement vs. Finished Measurements

Yes, it has been quite a while since I've posted.  It was a busy spring.  Travel, getting Cast On out, developing a new certification course have all taken precedence.  Masters Day at the DFW Fiber Fest was a success.  We hope to go back next year.  The Spring 2019 issue of Cast On came out on May 1st.  Since then I've been working on the new Professional Knitter Certification Course.  It is basically the Masters Program without research, writing and design.  It is designed for those who want to improve their knitting skills but don't want to do the Masters and those who hope to work in the knitting industry as sample/test knitters or finishers.

Student News
I've been keeping up with my student's work.  I've been getting a lesson just about every day for review.  I will be one of the instructors for the new certification program.  I think the workload for just one instructor.  We announced the program at Masters Day and the response was positive to say the least.  There will be a team of us but the instructor will work with the student as a mentor throughout the process.

Tip of the Week
This is a request from several people working on Level 1 of the Masters.  One of the questions concerns measuring for gauge and measuring finished measurements. This has always seemed a no brainer to me but I've noticed that sometimes it is the simplest questions that cause the most concern.  The knitter over thinks it and makes it more complicated.

The majority of knitters I encounter do not calculate gauge in a way that is going to produce useful information.  Casting on 10 or 12 stitches, knitting an inch, binding off and then counting the stitches/row for an inch isn't the best way to do it.  For specifics on how to work a gauge swatch and calculate gauge, look at the index for this blog. I've discussed is many times.

Gauge Swatch
You do not want to measure the entire swatch.  Selvedge stitches and the cast on/bind off edges are not the same size as stitches and rows.  You want to measure a large enough area that you get a good average over four or more inches.  Nobody's knitting is absolutely perfect.  There will be variations in the stitch size even for knitters with good tension.  In the photograph below (which isn't a real gauge swatch, I was just lazy) I've placed markers to show exactly what I would measure and count for the gauge--no edges are included.  ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS block the swatch and let it dry completely before taking the measurements!  The gauge swatch is a snapshot of your garment.

Your gauge swatch for a project should be for the stitch pattern specified in the pattern.  If it is for a lace pattern, working a gauge swatch in stockinette isn't going to be helpful.  If is it a design with multiple stitch patterns, make sure you work a swatch for the predominant pattern.  If you look below at my current projects, I've just finished a sweater with a single cable panel.  My gauge statement is for stockinette.  If you are designing a project and it has multiple stitch patterns (as for an Aran design), do a gauge swatch for all the patterns.

Finished Measurements
In the Masters Program you have to provide finished measurement for all of the projects and that includes the swatches.  The finished measurements are exactly what it says.  The piece is measured after any finishing...seams, bands, blocking, etc.  The whole thing is measured and for swatches that means selvedge stitches and cast on/bind off edges.  If you look at any pattern you will see finished measurements include length and width.  For a swatch, this is simple.  For a garment, it can be more specific.  The photo below shows an old project.  The finished measurements for this piece is the length from shoulder to hem, circumference at the chest AND and the bottom since this is an A-line design. 

Finished measurements are different from schematics generally found at the end of patterns to show the "pattern pieces."  Schematics are particularly helpful for blocking.  Schematics can also help for items which might have an unusual shape, such as shawls.

I hope this helps clear things up.  Also, I'm working on the Fall 2019 Cast On and the On Your Way to the Masters addresses this.  Here is a video.  I know the sound is not great, some sort of technical issue but I don't have time to redo it today.

Knitting Salon
Salon will be on Sunday, the 16th (yes, I know it is Father's Day) from 2-4 pm.

Current Projects
I've finished two of the things I'm doing for Fall 2019.  This is the When the Snakes sweater.  The yarn is Miss Babs Yowza in color Oyster.  The cable panel runs diagonally from the hem to the shoulder.  It is slightly wider at the bottom.  I wanted a big old comfy sweater with extra long sleeves.

Here is the back. The cables meet at the shoulders, sort of.  I did saddle shoulders.

You can see the cable panel runs up the sleeves to the neckline.

The Special Topics in Finishing article is about cleaning up thumb/finger joins in mitten/gloves.  I decided to do fingerless mitts (to keep it simple) with a slip stitch design.  The yarn is Zealana Cozi.  It is lovely to work with and produces a rustic fabric perfect for these mitts.  I'm thinking of doing a matching hat for the Winter issue.

Next up, thigh high lace socks.  When I was in Vegas this spring I saw a mannequin at a lux store with lacy thigh highs and I thought that would be fun.  You can see I have a LONG way to go. When the socks are on an actual leg, the lace pattern opens up.  The yarn is Wollmeise and the fabric is really stretchy.  Next up, two kid stranded sweaters.  I haven't got the yarn yet but it is Lornas Lace,

Friday, March 29, 2019

Selvedge Tension Issues

To distract me from all the knitting and writing I am supposed to be doing I decided to sort my button collection.  A month or so ago I bought a large box of buttons from a woman who was selling her mother's odds and ends.  I figured this was a good time to sort through all of those I've bought over the years primarily from Dusty's Vintage Buttons (if she has a booth at a show, definitely visit).  The photos represent the tip of the iceberg.  The first box is a SMALL part of my mother of pearl  buttons and the others are bakelite.  I've got quite a few boxes and many more to go.

Student News
I've reviewed quite a few lessons and received many course orders.  It seems a lot of knitters plan on working on their skills over the spring.

Tip of the Week
Again, what I've been seeing in the lessons has prompted this discussion.  I've reviewed many lessons where the knitters' overall tension is very nice but there is a problem at the sides only. This is a different issue that the entry I made last year about ugly selvedge stitches (link).  This tension issue is where the stitches next to the selvedge stitches vary in size.  It is very unattractive particularly if the edge is to be seamed or is next to a band.  

I've been working with non-wool fibers for the Summer 2019 issue and it is more of an issue with inelastic fibers.  In the sample below, worked in 100% cotton, the lower part of the swatch shows what this issue looks like.  The first photo is the RS and the next photo is the WS.  Note the gutters at the bottom of the swatch.  

There is an easy fix you can try.  For most knitters, if you tighten up at the beginning of every row and loosen up a bit at the end of every row, you will eliminate this problem.  However, you must be careful when beginning the row.  I've seen knitters who tighten up so much BEFORE beginning the row that all they do is draw the yarn from the previous row making those stitches even smaller.  What I generally do is work the first two stitches normally and then work the next three stitches more tightly.  When I get to the end of the row I use just the needle tips to work the last three or four stitches and I try not to slip them too far down the needle barrel.

Here is a video showing this technique:  Tension issues at the side

Knitting Salon
I was thinking of having Salon on Saturday but the Metropolitan Opera's simulcast is Die Walkure so I'll be at the theater for 5 1/2 hours.  Salon will be on Sunday but I'm not sure of the time yet.

Current Projects
I finished up a few late Christmas gifts before starting on the Summer 2019 projects.  I made a skirt and top set with 100% hemp.  I can't say it was fun to kit but the drape on the skirt is amazing.

Here is a closeup of the puntas edging.

Here is the top.  I CLEARLY need to steam it before the photoshoot.  (I used some of my vintage buttons...)

Next up was the Confident Beginner project which accompanies Binka Schwan's Skill Building article.  This one was on double decreases worked on the RS and WS.  I used the yarn left over from the Intarsia Top in the last issue.  I found an interesting stitch pattern with a 5 row repeat which meant that the rows would alternate on the RS and WS when worked flat.  It was perfect for the scarf.  I used a provisional cast on so that I could work one side with CDD decreases and the other with S1k2tog psso decrease.  

The colors in the photo above are more accurate but here is what it looks like at the cast on.

I've finished the baby sweater but I'm still working on the child size.  Then I'm done.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Starting a Seam

I've finally recovered from getting the Spring 2019 issue of Cast On out.  Today is the deadline for submissions for Summer.  It never ends!  After I make this post that is what I will be doing.

I took this video of George when he discovered the roving I'm using for the booties (see below).  I hope my friends don't mind a bit of cat spit.  I posted a longer version on Instagram.  He really is a sweetie.

Students News
Now that the holidays are over, I'm getting more and more lessons.  Keep up the great work.  The postal rates changed on January 27th.  Since I use, I actually prefer the way the new First Class postage is calculated.  Just a reminder for non-US students, please photograph your swatches, front and back, before you send them to me.  I keep them until the course is complete to keep the cost the same.

Tip of the Week
I've reviewed several finishing lessons and the same question has come up.  The Figure 8 method for beginning a seam causes all sort of problems.  I've done several entries on it before but I realized I need to focus more on exactly where to begin.  My method is different but I've found it works quite well and it avoids the issue of rows not lining up.

The long-tail cast on produces the first row of stitches and there are two strands of yarn below the stitch.  I use both of these strands in my seams and I start the seam in the lowest strand.  I do this as, in the past and I'm in a hurry, I have lined up the second strand on one side and the strand from the first row.  If you do this, the seam is slightly off and the rows don't line up.  If you take the time to use both of the strands in the seam, it happens less.  I see this all the time in my students' work.

The photos below show the start of the seam on the smooth side and on the bumpy.  This video shows the technique.

Here are photos of the completed seams.

I'll do another video soon on how to finish off the seam at the bind off edge.

Knitting Salon
Salon will be on Sunday from 2-4pm.

Current Projects
Here is the reason I didn't get any knitting done before Christmas...I don't know what I was thinking.  My New Years Resolution several years ago was to write patterns IMMEDIATELY after I finished something.  Well, I was so afraid I wouldn't make the photo shoot date, I held off on writing the patterns.  That was a very unpleasant experience I hope NEVER to repeat.

Now that all of that is done, I'm trying to get out the presents before I start working on the summer issue.  Everyone except my nephew is getting thrummed booties AND I am using yarn that has been in my stash for at least 10 years.  (That is this year's resolution, to make a dent in my stash for personal projects. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be buying more yarn!)  

Here are Martha's booties.  (They were accompanied by a bourbon tasting.)

Here are Nora, Stephanie and Christian's presents.  I used Carolyn Vance's pattern for the Swedish Block Scarf from the last issue of Cast On for Christian's scarf.

I'm hoping to finish up the rest this week....

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Neater SSK Decreases

I apologize for not posting sooner but between travel, the holidays and the Spring issue of Cast On (see Current Projects) I haven't had much time.  I have really been knitting like mad to make the deadline for the photo shoot.

Student News
Quite a few people have signed up for the Basics course and several for the Finishing Course.  I haven't received many lessons yet but I expect an uptick now that the holidays are finally OVER!

Tip of the Week
I've had several students sent me links to videos show a new way to make neater SSK decreases.  This new method (I'm not going to put links in for this method as they all omit one rather important detail) is fine for your own projects but if you are working on the Masters Program the results of this technique are not acceptable.  

When you need to use mirrored decreases (to shape a neckline, for example) there is a problem.  K2tog produces a neat, right slanting decrease.  (It slants to the right since the stitch to the left is on top of the stitch to the right.)  Left slanting decreases aren't quite so neat and tidy.  When I first started knitting, the preferred technique is the SKP (and this is still the preferred technique in Britain and Japan).  Since just the first stitch is slipped and then passed over the second stitch, it often produces a very stretched out, large left slanting decrease (the stitch to the right is on top of the stitch to the left.)  A big improvement on SKP is the SSK since two stitches are slipped, the decrease is smaller.  How nice the SSK looks depends on your technique.  If you use just your needle tips and really baby it, you can get  a pretty good decrease.

One improvement over this technique that my students suggest is slipping just the first stitch when working the SSK.  Yes, this is does make the decrease slightly smaller but it twists the stitch to the left.  For decreases to be fully mirrored, they have to be the same type of decrease, that is untwisted or twisted.  A newer version of the same decrease is making the rounds now where you insert the needle into the first stitch and then into the back of the next stitch and then pull the yarn through both.  It produces the same result.  None of the videos I've seen make mention of the twisted stitch.  After teaching the Basics class for 10 years I have learned that many knitters cannot read their work and can't tell the difference until it is pointed out.

In the photo below I have worked a swatch using larger needles that I normally would.  If you look at the left side, I have worked a series of K2tog decreases.  On the right side I've worked SSK and variants so you can compare.

First look at the K2tog decreases.  Notice that the stitch to the left is on top of the stitch to the right AND that stitch is open at the bottom, that is not twisted.  That is what we are looking to match on the right side.

Look at the decrease on the right side with a 1 to the left.  I used just the standard technique for SSKs (which I demonstrate in the video) but I have used just my needle tips and really babied.  I must say, it looks pretty good.  When I worked the decrease labelled 2 I used a technique where on the row before the decrease row (the WS row) you wrap the stitches to be decreased the wrong way.  This alters their orientation on the needle.  When you slip the stitches for an SSK this is what you are doing so this technique skips that step.  Since they aren't slipped, they are less stretched out.
  It looks pretty much the same as the SSK where I babied the stitches.  Notice that the stitch to the left is open at the bottom and matches the K2tog.

Now look at the decrease labelled 3 and notice that it stands out more than the others.  The top stitch is twisted as well as the next stitch.  This happens if you don't slip the stitches knitwise before making the decrease.  Twisted stitches are tighter than regular stitches and have a different gauge which is why you generally avoid them unless you are working Bavarian patterns or come lace patterns.

The decreases labelled 4 and 5 use the techniques I mentioned above.  The second stitches are twisted.  If you look closely you can see that they do not match their counterparts on the opposite side of the swatch.


In the photo below I've placed arrows below the second stitches so you can see the twisted stitches and compare them.  This video demonstrates all of the techniques I've discussed here.

Knitting Salon
Salon will be today from 2-4 pm.  Despite my laziness in not posting I have had salon most every weekend.  Hopefully those coming today will help me get rid of all of the lovely chocolates left over from the holidays!

Current Projects
My holiday knitting never got done, or even started!  We start working on the Spring issue in November and it is ALWAYS a problem getting designs for this issue.  Knitters do not want to commit to extra knitting over the holidays (even when I try and guilt them into it!) What seems to happen every year is I wind up taking on more that I'd like so I have been knitting like a mad person to get these things done.  The worst part is that I've put off writing the patterns so the week after the photo shoot will be a horror show!  Not shown is a pair of knee high socks.  I'll photo them in my next entry along with (hopefully) very belated Christmas gifts.

This one is a cover up.  I envision it being worn over yoga clothes.

The Stitch Anatomy article is about elongated stitches. The bottom of the sweater & cuffs are the sea foam pattern.  The Special Topics in Finishing article is about sewing on buttons which I better read before I put on these buttons...

I loved Leslie's article on Puntas so I designed this top to use the intarsia technique but added the bottom border.  Puntas are really fun.  I plan to use them again.

This is the Confident Beginner garment to accompany the Skill Building article on WS decreases.  That lace at the bottom doesn't have any plain rows.  I love it.  Thank you Barbara Walker.

I think you can see I will be busy this week.  None of the yarn tails (except on the Puntas Top) have been woven in and I also have to knit those knee highs....

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Thrums-Tip of the Week 11/04/18

I apologize for not posting sooner...a confluence of travel and getting Cast On out.  At the end of September I taught at the What the Knit! Retreat in Three Rivers, CA.  This is Suzanne Bryan's guild and Binka and Charles were there as well.  It was a wonderful weekend.  The retreat center was very peaceful (code for no cell service) and my students were fabulous.

Halloween was last week.  Jan brought a present for George.  You can tell he isn't thrilled.  It is a fish hat.

Student News
I'm thrilled that several students have completed the Finishing Course.  It is a very comprehensive course and, to be truthful, a bit of a slog.  I'm impressed.

Tip of the Week
For the Winter issue of Cast On we included quite a few quick knits.  I did a pair of thrummed socks.  They are a quick knit since I used Medium weight yarn.  Working thrums isn't hard but it does require advanced preparation and a bit of patience.  Here is a photo of the booties.

The thrums are pieces of roving knit along with the working yarn.  I'm not a spinner so I don't have roving on hand but most yarn stores do carry some and if not you can get it from KnitPicks.  You can see in the photo above that the thrums line the inside to make the booties extra warm.

Making the thrums isn't hard.  Pull off a piece of roving about 5-6" long, stripping off sections to make it thinner.  Fold it in thirds or fourths and you are ready to go.  If you are member of TKGA, you might want to look at this past article by Heather Storta (Thrums) You have to sign in to see the article.

I've seen two methods work working the thrums.  In the first you work just the thrum and strand the working yarn behind it.  The problem with this method is that if the thrum pulls free it is a dropped stitch.  In the other method, you knit the yarn and the thrum together.  The problem with this is that on the next round or row, you have to work the thrum through the back loop which can be a pain.

That is all there is to it.  Here is the link: Thrum video.  By the way, I replaced my ancient video camera with my new iPhone and I am technically challenged so I'm still working out the kinks.  Hey, but you don't need to sit through any advertising...

Knitting Salon
I'm actually posting this after salon (it has been a rough week) so unless something drastic happens, Salon will be next Sunday from 1:30-3:20.

Current Projects
Looking back at my previous post it looks like I was working on the Wasp Wing Cardigan.  I finished it as well as everything else I did for the magazine.

I did several things as quick knits.  The gnome hats were so quick I knit four of them with the Universal Deluxe Worsted left over from the intarsia sweaters.

I used Redfish Worsted to make the Fleur de Lis cowl.  (I hadn't woven in the ends yet.)

And here are the booties.  I used Pokeberry Station Worsted.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Ugly Selvedge Stitches

I've been traveling quite a bit so I've haven't posted in a while.  

The new George continues to improve.  He is so affectionate now.  He doesn't want to let me out of his sight, particularly since I haven't been home.   

Student News
I've had lots of new students sign up for not only Basics but also Finishing and Swatch to Sweater.  I've notice that this happens every fall.  Just a reminder to my non-US students.  I will hang onto your swatches until you complete the course.  International postage is so expensive.  I would have to raise the price of the course otherwise.  I do include lots of photos of what I am talking about.

Tip of the Week
I'm teaching at a retreat in California next weekend and one of the topics the students wanted covered was ugly selvedges.  At first I thought they meant the tension issues that you can get in the stitches next to the selvedge.  Nope.  They meant the actual selvedge stitches.  I've never worried about selvedge stitches.  They are just ugly.  This is not a problem in projects which will be seamed or have bands since the selvedge stitch is hidden by the seam or the band.  They provide the "seam allowance."  Although they are ugly these stitches should be neat and tidy.   

If you look at the section marked A, notice that the selvedge stitches are a bit large.  It really isn't a problem in this case since the size of the stitches next to the selvedges don't have a tension issue.   If you look at the section marked B, notice that they are smaller.  I accomplished this by making sure there was no excess yarn when I formed the next stitch.

Ugly selvedge stitches in garter is a problem.  If you look at the section marked C, notice that the selvedge stitches are larger and this detracts from the general appearance of the piece.  Section D looks better as I took care to tighten up ever so slightly at the beginning of the row.

The one thing you DO NOT want to do is to really pull the working yarn tight when making the first stitch.  All this does is pull yarn from the previous row which causes a tension issue.

So what do you do if your piece will not be seamed or have bands.  You can use a special selvedge stitch.  My favorite is to slip the first stitch.  This creates an edge that looks exactly like the bind off.  If you look at the photograph below you can see a problem immediately.

There is a huge tension issue at the stitches next to the selvedge.  It is better at the top of the swatch.  I used a tapestry needle to shift the yarn in the larger stitches.  

I've met quite a few knitters who do this for all of their projects.  I don't recommend it, particularly if the piece has a band.  The loops at the selvedge each represent two rows.  Yes, it is easier to pick up a band but the ratio will be all wrong and it will be puckered.  

Here is a video demonstrating the techniques:  Ugly Selvedge Stitches

Knitting Salon
Salon will be on Sunday from 2 to 4 pm.

Current Projects
I finished up the second intarsia sweater in the other color palette.  It is sized for children.

I'm now working on the long cardigan.  The back is finished and the fronts are blocking.  I absolutely love the fabric.  It is Shibui Reed and Silk Cloud.  This sweater is a redo of one I did years ago but I've never been happy with the pattern.  I've changed how the different sizes are worked.  I also made it longer. 

 I'll be able to post photos when I post again.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Binding Off in the Round

I've been busy getting the Winter 2018 issue organized.  August is a difficult month to try and order yarn.  Between vacations and fiber festivals it can take quite a few emails to get the designers their yarn.  I spent a lot of time sitting at my computer.  We have 23 projects in the next issue.  That is quite a bit of yarn!  Some are still waiting for while someone (you know who you are, Carolyn) has already sent her project!

I did take time to prepare my handouts for the retreat at the end of September.  I'm teaching at Suzanne Bryan's guild's annual retreat.  I'm looking forward to it as Charles Gandy is the other teacher and it will be wonderful to catch up with him.

Student News
My students definitely are leading more exciting lives that me!  I have received very few lessons to review.  I know fall is approaching as more are signing up for classes.  The minute the leaves start to fall we all think about our knitting!

Tip of the Week
This week's tip was prompted by something the students at the retreat wanted covered.  I'm always happy to customize what I teach.  They wanted to know how to do a circular knitting join.  I've already discussed this in a previous blog entry (Joining in the Round).  What I didn't discuss in that entry was how to end a piece when knitting in the round.

This photograph shows what a circular piece looks like when you bind off.  When you work in the round there will always be a jog at the end which is quite unattractive.  Before you cut the yarn and pull it through, you can knit into the first stitch and work another bind off stitch but it almost always leaves a bit of a hole.

The best way to finish this requires a small bit of embroidery.  Thread the yarn tail onto a tapestry needle and insert the needle under the two bind off loops of the first stitch.

Then insert the needle into the center of the last bind off stitch. If you look at the photo below you can see that I've pulled the yarn fairly tight to match the size of the loops of the surrounding bind off stitches. 

Adjust the yarn tail so that the other loop matches.  Here is the photo of the completed bind off.

Now all you have to do is weave in the tail and the join is pretty much invisible.  Here is the link to the video:  Circular knitting bind off

Knitting Salon
Salon will be on Sunday, August 26 from 2-4 pm.

Current Projects
One of my favorite baristas at Starbucks recently had a baby girl.  She has two sons.  I wanted to make something for the baby but I wanted to make presents for the big brothers as well.  I made a hat in a lovely pale pink from Spud & Chloe but I neglected to take a photo of it.  Here is one of the brother hats.  I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca for them.  The photo shows it in progress where I have used dental elastics to mark decreases and cable crossing.  Naturally I put small pompoms at the top as well.  My friend Jan says they look like Gnome hats.  I'm going to write the pattern up for the Winter issue as they are a very quick knit.

I also finally got to Martha's birthday present.  I forgot to photograph them as well but Martha kindly obliged.  What the photo doesn't show is how wonderful this yarn is.  I picked up a couple of skeins at the DFW Fiber Festival.  It is a local dyer, A Thing for String, and it is a Yak blend.  Donna Estin used the yarn for a sweater in the Fall Cast On.  I've got another skein and I'm going to keep the socks for me.

I signed on to doing the Stitch Anatomy lesson for the Winter issue.  I can't say I like intarsia so I didn't want to do a complicated project.  I came with this kid's sweater.  This is the 12 month size.   I did it in colors I like to describe as the Hudson Bay Blanket palette.

I decided to do a larger size in a more subdued palette.  This photo doesn't do the colors justice but the background is more of an oatmeal color.  I choose Universal Deluxe Worsted as they have a lovely color selection and because Amy Gunderson is wonderful to work with.  It seems like I order the yarn and it delivered the next day.  Obviously I am going to have lots left over so I am going to use it for the Gnome hats.

I got a package from Shibui two days ago.  (Again, a wonderful company to work with).  I'm going to redo a sweater I did back in 2009.  The yarn, Louet KidLin, has been discontinued so I'm going to use Shibui's Silk Cloud and Reed to get a similar effect.  I'm going to make it longer as well.  Since I've almost finished the intarsia sweater I'll swatch soon.