Friday, January 19, 2018

Counting Rows in Garter and Seed Stitch

I have been working on the Spring 2018 issue of Cast On.  What a lot of work!  This issue has been quite frustrating to work on due to the havoc the weather has played on postal and UPS deliveries.  I pushed the photo shoot back a week in hopes that a few more items would arrive.  Alas, I am still waiting.  The process of uploading the WORD files after our tech editor, Sharon, gets them to me can take a long time.  I spent over 6 hours on one technical article but it will be well worth it to our readers.  That is an explanation of why I don't have much listed under my current projects.  If I am at home, I am sitting at the computer with my dear friend (and enemy) WordPress.

We got great news this week at Masters Day at the DFW Fiber Festival is sold out!  We are testing the idea out of piggy backing on fiber festivals since we are not going to do full blown conferences again.

I haven't posted a photo of George and Petipa for quite some time.  This photograph documents a rare occurrence.  They never are this close together.  They are sharing the sun near a heat register since the temperature is in the teens.

I've had several students finish up the Basics course.  It always makes me happy to see them complete the course.  Once I get Cast On out of the way, I'm going to look at the course and make some revisions.  It's been quite a few years since I've updated it.

This week's tip is prompted by what I have seen in several of the Lesson 3 work of the Basics class which discusses how to measure gauge.  No, you don't knit 10 stitches and then get out the oldest tape measure you have and count the stitches.  I've done several blog entries on how to measure gauge (look at Gauge in the Index and you can find them) but since several students had this issue I decided to do a special post on the topic.  

The photo below is a close up of garter stitch.  In the Basics class I have the students calculate gauge and you have to be able to count rows and stitches to do so.  I have found it interesting over the years to discover that very few knitters know what a stitch looks like unless it is on their needle.  First for the way to count the stitches.  The "frown" is the stitch, the "smile" is the space between the stitch.  If you count the "frowns" and the "smiles" both as a stitch, you will get twice as many stitches as there actually are.  I like to tell my students you can save yourself a lot of grief when knitting a gauge swatch if you jot down the number of stitches you cast on.  Then you don't even need to count them.  (Subtract two for the selvedges.)

Now notice how the "smiles" and "frowns" interlock to make a ridge.  Several of my students have counted the ridges for their gauge.  It takes two rows to make a ridge as the photo below shows where I have stretched the garter stitch.

 You can clearly see the two rows interlocking to make the ridges so....

 Now onto seed stitch.  I've had a couple of students recently count the only the purl bumps for their gauge calculations.  If you look close you can see that there is a knit stitch at the top of the purl bump which is hard to see but it is there.  Yes, you can count the purl bumps for your row count by multiplying that number by 2.  Take care when you measure that you include the knit stitch on top of that purl bump or subtract one from the row count.

I've numbered the rows below.  When you are calculating gauge, it will only be as accurate as your measurement and the number of stitches/rows.  If you get any of those wrong, you gauge won't be accurate.

I won't be having salon this week as I'm not sure how long the photo shoot will take.  I'll have one next week from 2-4 most likely

As I said above, I haven't spent much time knitting.  I did manage to finish all of the texting gloves..4 pairs total.  I love the gloves but finishing is such a PAIN.  All those ends to weave in.  My dear sweet blind Petipa is guarding the last pair.  What really made me happy is that I used yarn I had in my stash for all of them.  They were all worked in Zen Garden yarn I picked up at TNNA several years ago.

I'm going to use up some Kidsilk Haze (I special ordered 10 skeins years ago. What did I think I was going to make!), Richesse et Soie from Knit One Crochet Too (I think it has been discontinued for over 15 years!) and the Mondo Fil metallic  left over from my Rose Gold Hoodie.  It will be a simple hat.  You don't need much of a design with all of these fabulous yarns...

Now I need to start thinking of what to knit for the Summer issue...

Friday, January 5, 2018

Twisted Decreases Again

Yes, I know it has been quite some time since I've posted an entry.  No excuses but I'll try to do better.

I did receive quite a few lessons and despite my general laziness in doing blog entries, I managed to review them all the day I received them.  A reminder...For my non-US students, I will no longer send back the swatches after each lesson.  Postage is just too high and I don't want to increase the cost of the course.  What I have been doing is photographing areas of swatches that need special attention.  I think this will work.

This week's tip was prompted by questions from several students.  In Lesson 2 of the Basics course covers different types of decreases with an emphasis on mirroring them.  If you are an experienced knitter mirroring isn't big news but for new knitters, thanks to the way patterns are written it can be new information.  The way most patterns state how to place decreases is part of the problem--"Dec 1 at each neck edge every RS row 3 times".  How would you know not to place the decrease in the selvedge stitch and that there are other decreases than k2tog.

Unless someone points it out, a knitter may not even notice that they are twisting SSK or SKP decreases which means they won't mirror the k2tog decreases.  In the photograph below I've labeled four left slanting decreases.  (K2tog decreases slant to the right.  If this isn't ringing a bell you might want to look at Mirroring Decreases, an earlier blog.)

A is a properly worked SSK where the stitches are slipped knitwise to the other needle to ensure that they won't be twisted.  Care was taken not to stretch out the looks.  Notice that the stitch on top is open at the bottom as is the stitch underneath.

B is a k2tog tbl (two stitches knit together through the back loop).  Another way to look at this is an SSK where the stitches haven't been slipped.  Compare A and B and you can see that both stitches in B are twisted at the base.  Twisted stitches are more noticeable and don't mirror k2tog decreases.

C is an SKP decrease where the stitch has been slipped purlwise, not knitwise.  This twists the decrease.  To make an SKP properly you must slip the stitch knitwise.  (General rule...if the stitch is going to be used on the same row, slip it knitwise.  If it is to be used on the next row, slip it purlwise.)

D is an SSK where only the top stitch is slipped.  I've had several students tell me that they are sure I haven't seen this before since it is so marvelous a solution to oversized SSK decreases.  Nope.  I'm aware of this decrease technique.   Compare A and D and see if you can spot the difference.  If you don't slip both stitches, the stitch underneath is twisted and yes, this does change the appearance of the decrease.  Feel free to use this technique in your own projects any time but if you are doing the Masters Program, you will be expected to produce an SSK without any of the stitches twisted.  

Here is a link to the video I did of these decreases:  Left Slanting Decreases

Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30 to 3:20.  

Actually I don't feel too bad about not making a posting after I looked at all of the knitting I've been doing.  Between holiday/birthday projects and things for Cast On, I've been busy.  By the way, I learned the hard way this year when I was trying to figure out what I'd given for gifts last year .  I didn't put them in my blog--hence the number of photos this year.

I did take a photo of the first thing I did for the Spring issue and posted it in my last entry.  This is a hoodie knit with Mondo Fil yarns.  One is a cotton strand and the other is a metallic.  The drape of this is really amazing, sort of like light weight chain mail. It is called the Rose Gold Hoodie.  The hood is oversized so that it drapes nicely on the shoulders when not worn.

I realized that we very rarely do designs for children so we bought a child size mannequin and we will have two designs for girls in the Spring issue.  This is a top and skirt worked in Anzula's Gerty, an American Targhee yarn.  I chose it as it is so springy.  This garment is sized from Child's 4 to Adult Small.  If you look closely at the photo to the right you can see our new baby mannequin and yes, it does have Christmas lights on it.  (I took the lights off of the child mannequin to put the clothes on it.  They were a nice addition to my dining room for the holidays.)

I did a bunch of presents....

Socks with zig zag pattern (which I love).

I liked it so much I used it for a couple of buffs (didn't photograph them all)...

My sister and my niece and nephew all wanted hats, in gray.  The first one has a cabled cuff and the last one has a sawtooth boarder and yes, there are lights around the mannequin head which I've named Anne Boleyn.

 I made several pairs of texting gloves (and I still have to do a few more pairs).  I kept one of the pairs I knit for the Fall 2017 issue of Cast On and I have to say, they do keep my hands warm.  When I walked to Starbucks this morning it was 9 degrees. 

Now to start thinking about things for the Summer 2018 issue....

Friday, November 10, 2017

Reading Your Work and Stitch Anatomy

Sorry I haven't posted for awhile but it is very time consuming trying to get a magazine out and I had surgery in the middle of all that as well.  The day the Winter 2017/2018 issue closed, was the deadline for proposals for the Spring 2018.  When we were managed by Offingers there were three people who worked on the magazine plus some contractors.  Now it is just me and our photographer.

Quite a few lessons arrived this fall and despite everything I managed to get them all out within a day or two.  It is funny how I notice trends in the lessons.  The tip of the week addresses one of those trends.

As I reviewed lessons for the Finishing Course and Lesson 3 of the Basics course I noticed something that many students did not seem to understand and it wasn't all that surprising to me.  I've taught at conferences all over the country and whenever I teach finishing or gauge, I have to build in extra time to discuss stitch anatomy.  Based on my experience the VAST majority of knitters only look at the stitches on their needles, never at the stitches in the knitted piece.  If you can't tell the difference between a stitch and the space between a stitch you will find finishing very difficult.  In Lesson 3 of the Basics class, students calculate gauge for different stitch patterns.  The best (and most accurate) way to measure gauge is how we do it in the Masters Program.  (If you aren't familiar with this method, go to the index of my blog and look under Gauge.  There are lots of entries.)  I ask that the students place yarn between stitches as the first step in calculating the gauge.  To do this you need to know what a column of stitches look like.  A stitch in stockinette looks like a "V". In the photograph below, the yellow yarn is IN the center of the stitches in the column.  The red yarn is BETWEEN the column of stitches.  If I were counting stitches or rows, I would count the "V"s.

In Garter Stitch and reverse stockinette, the stitch looks like a frown.  The space between the column of stitches looks like a smile.  In the photograph the yellow thread is in the center of the stitches.  The red thread is between the stitches.  If I were counting the number of stitches, I would count the frowns.

Dealing with half stitches in gauge calculations is possible but for finishing it is rarely a good idea.  Seams and bands look best if they are placed BETWEEN the selvedge stitch and the next column of stitches.  In the swatch on the right, the seam is properly placed and if it weren't for the green yarn tail you probably wouldn't see where the seam is placed.  In the swatch on the left, the seam is placed IN the selvedge stitch in the blue piece.  Notice that this leaves half of the "V",  For the first part of the seam on the white piece, the seam is also placed in the selvedge stitch which does create a "V" but it doesn't really match the other stitches.  Selvedge stitches are generally pretty ugly.  Half way through, the seam is properly placed on the white side but since there is only a half stitch on the other, it is very noticeable.  When seams and bands aren't properly placed, the finished piece looks "homemade" instead of "handmade."

When you are finishing you not only need to be able to see columns of stitches but also the stitch itself.  When you pick up stitches on a bound off edge, you pick up the stitch IN the stitch below the bound off edge.  If you pick up the stitches BETWEEN the stitches, you pinch the stitches together an you get the "dread 11s".  When you seam two bound off edges together you seam IN the stitches as well.  The photograph below the seam is properly placed in the right swatch.  Notice that the column of stitches continues from one side to the other.  In the swatch on the left the seam has been placed between the stitches.  You can see why the pinched stitches are called "dread 11s".

I have done lots of blog entries which include stitch anatomy.  If you check the Index you can find entries for this as well as "Reading Your Work."  I've also done a video for this entry which discusses some of these same topics.  Stitch Anatomy and Reading Your Work

Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30 to 3:20.

I finished the Circles Tunic in time for the photoshoot.  I didn't knit much until last week.  I've been sitting at my computer uploading the Winter issue.  

I used Elemental Affect Civility Sport for the tunic and the duplicate stitch circles.  I had so much of the duplicate stitch yarn left over that I decided to use it for a top for the Spring issue.  It took no time at all to knit.  The colors aren't accurate.  I haven't woven in the ends yet and I haven't cut out the dental elastics yet as I need to write the pattern.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Flat Tubular Bind Off

I've been knitting like a fiend to make the deadline for the photo shoot.  What on earth possessed me to propose a poncho!  It is done and I am making good progress on the tunic but it will be a close thing.

Please photograph your swatches, front and back, before sending them.  There are two reasons for this.  I will email you my letter as soon as I review your work and, depending on where you live, it will take awhile to get the swatches.  Also, sometimes the swatches just don't arrive. 

One thing I've noticed lately in many of the swatches is how the selvedge stitches curl under and for the Masters Program we want them flat.  There are a lot of reasons for this.  It is a very good habit to develop.  Flat selvedges make finishing MUCH easier.  For the Masters swatches, it helps the knitter (and reviewers) see if there is a tension issue at the selvedges which is a common issue.  If you can't see it, you can fix it.

I took a close up photo of one of my current projects as it was blocking.

Notice that I've flattened out the selvedge stitch and pinned them at an angle so the edges will dry that way.  By the way, dental elastics mark the locations of decreases.  I am so bad at taking notes when I design that I've learned that writing the pattern is much easier when I "annotate" like this.

The poncho uses the tubular cast on and bind off techniques.  When I went to do the bind off I couldn't think of how to get started.  I checked my own videos and realized all of them show how to do this in the round since I use this technique mainly for socks or necklines.  This tip rectifies that omission.

The preparation for a tubular bind off is basically the same for both circular and flat knitting.  The stitches in two to four rows are alternately slipped.  If you are working flat, you generally work the knit stitches and slip the purl stitches with the yarn in front (provided you are working an even number of stitches) for all rows.  You can't do that for circular knitting.  On the first round you work the knit stitches and slip the purl stitches and reverse this for the next round.  Here is a link showing how to do this:  Preparing for Tubular Bind Off.

When you do the bind off in the round, you begin with a purl stitch and you can adjust your stitches so that a purl stitch is first.  For flat knitting the first stitch is generally a knit stitch and you can't just shift it to the right.  You have to work it separately.  To get started (after you've cut the yarn and threaded up a tapestry needle) you insert the tapestry needle knitwise into this stitch, pull the yarn tight and drop this stitch off the needle.  From here on the process is the same as for circular knitting.

Step 1--Insert the tapestry needle knitwise into the purl stitch.  Pull the yarn tight.

Step 2--Insert the tapestry needle purlwise into the knit stitch you dropped and into the knit stitch to the left of the purl stitch and pull the yarn tight.

Step 3--Insert the tapestry needle purlwise back into purl stitch and pull the yarn tight.  Drop the stitches from the needle.  You just repeat this until the end.

The video shows how you begin and end the bind off.  Here is the link:  Beginning and Ending Flat Tubular Bind Offs

I won't be having salon again this weekend.  Hopefully soon!

I finally finished the poncho.  You can wear it two ways.

I've finished the fronts and back of the tunic I'm doing.  It is going to have a duplicate stitch design so I'm not going to seam it until I've done that.  The sleeves will be picked and worked from the shoulder down.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Left Slanting Decreases

I had a nice visit with knitters working on the Masters Program at Stitches Midwest back in early August.  It was a longer drive than I thought, particularly since I only went up for one night.  I broke up the drive on the way there and back with a stop at the Albanese Candy Outlet in Indiana.  I have a weakness for Gummi Bears.  I have a few left from the 5 lb (!) bag I bought.

The official start of fall for me is when I start getting more lessons to review and new students signing up for courses.  Things have definitely picked up since the first of September.

The tip this week is prompted by what I have seen in several lessons.  Lesson 2 of the Basics class discusses decreases. Several students have had difficulty spotting the differences between left and right slanting decreases.  I've discussed this quite a bit in the past.  Here is a link to an earlier entry: Left and Right Slanting Decreases.

Another thing covered in the lesson is how to make left and right slanting decreases "match".  This is a problem for many knitters.  K2tog produces a small, neat decrease that slants towards the right.  The problem is with left slanting decreases.  They will NEVER EVER truly match a k2tog but you can work to make them as small and unobtrusive as possible.  To make this decrease you have to reorient the stitches to be decreased on the needle so that the decrease will not be twisted.  This is done by slipping them back to the needle which stretches them out.  An SKP decrease requires slipping one stitch and an SSK requires slipping two.  If you use just your needle tips you can minimize how much the stitch is stretched out.  In the photograph below, I have done that to make the decreases.  Notice that the SKP is larger than the SSK.  

A few years ago I was experimenting with this and it occurred to me that if you wrap a stitch the wrong way (under the needle for a purl stitch), this reorients the stitch on the needle.  I tried doing this to the two stitches to be decreased on the row before.  The trick is to remember to do this.   The other thing to avoid is wrapping the stitches too tightly.  This will make the decrease look pinched.  On the decrease row, knit the two stitches together using just the needle tips.  In the photograph I did this for the decrease on the top.  It is a bit smaller.  Here is a video showing all three methods:  Making Left Slanting Decreases

By the way, if you are doing the Masters Program, do not use the method where only the first stitch is slipped.  The stitch underneath is twisted and yes, this is visible.

I won't be having salon this weekend.  Stay tuned.

I've been working on a poncho for the Winter Cast On.  At TNNA this summer, they were showing a lot of cabled sweaters and ponchos/ruanas.  I decided to do a cabled poncho.  What was I thinking?  It is a lot of knitting.  I am almost finished with the first piece.  I'm using Kelbourne Fibers Arranmore Light which is wonderful to work with.  Here is a partial view.  The cables are meant to look like snakes.  They are random and asymmetrical.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Make 1 Increases

The last time I posted was the day before our photo shoot.  Since then (besides a very short vacation) I've been chained to my computer uploading the patterns and articles to WordPress.  All I need now is the photographs and we can go live.  I'm looking at the first week of August.

I've decided to go to Stitches Midwest next Friday.  Some TKGA people are meeting at the Gather Bar on Friday at 5:30.  Stop by if you are there.

Lessons are starting to come in, I'm glad to say.  Keep me busy!

This week's tip was motivated by a comment on my last entry.  A couple of things first...if you have a question, it is far better to send me an email directly (just click on the Contact Me choice and I'll be happy to answer but the one thing I don't do is answer questions about other people's patterns. It can take quite a bit of time to do so.  The biggest problem is that it is usually a pattern from Ravelry. I love Ravelry as much as the next person but a problem with many of the patterns is that they are not tech edited and I've found that many times when someone has a question about the pattern, it is an error. Contact the designer when you have an issue. If the pattern is from a book or magazine, it should have been tech edited and there should be glossary or index of terms.  If there isn't that is a sign it isn't a very good book.  If you've knitted for any time at all you've discovered that there is very little consistency in abbreviations and that brings up this week's topic...Make 1 increases.

I've seen patterns where the designer uses "M1" as a generic abbreviation for any increase and many of my Basic students are surprised to discover that there is more than one way to increase. In the Masters Program we mean very specific things when we refer to M1 increases.  There are three different types of M1 increases, open, right-slanting and left-slanting.  We use the abbreviations M1o, M1R, M1L to distinguish them.  M1 alone generally means you can choose between the left or right slanting.  

All M1 increases use the horizontal bar between two stitches.  In the photograph below, there are examples of M1 increases.  A is the open form of the M1.  It is the easiest to make.  You just lift the horizontal bar between the two stitches and knit it.  It leaves a small hole.  B is a yarnover.   M1o and yarnovers are related but a yarnover will leave a much larger hole.  C identifies a left slanting M1 increase.  (On the other side you can see the right slanting.)  To make these increases, you twist the horizontal bar so that the leg slants to the right or left.  I'm not going to describe this process as it is much easier just to demonstrate it.  Make 1 Increases

One of the problems with M1 increases is that when you draw up the horizontal strand between the two stitches, it pulls yarn from the stitches on either side.  It seems to be more of an issue for M1R increases.   D shows a solution for this.  If you make a TIGHT yarn over on the row before the increase (generally on the WS) you can use that excess yarn to make the increase.  You can see that the hole is slightly larger in the D increases.

When you are looking at a pattern that specifics M1 increases, look at it to see exactly what it means. Should it be an M1 increase or would another increase work better.

Salon will be on Sunday from 2-4 pm.

I have not been knitting much as I've uploading the Fall issue of Cast On.  I have been working on this double knit buff for Sandy (RedFish DyeWorks).  I'm almost done.  Then I'll start on gloves for holiday gifts.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Gloves and Fingers

To say I'm a bit stressed would be putting it mildly.  Trying to get ready for the photo shoot tomorrow has been a bit much--all my own fault.  (See Current Projects for a visual explanation of why I'm stressed.)

My students, clearly, have been as busy as me.  I've had very few lessons to review the past few weeks.  THANK YOU!

All I have been doing for the past week is knitting texting gloves for the Fashion Framework article in the Fall issue.  I decided to to 3 pairs in different weights of yarn or 30 fingers.  By the time I got to the 20th finger I more or less got it down.  The reason most knitters prefer to make mittens or fingerless mitts is due to the tediousness of knitting and finishing fingers.  Not only are fingers a pain to knit, the results can be mixed.  It is difficult to work them so that there are not holes at the joins.

What I found really worked were two things.  First, most patterns will tell you to use the "e" cast on to bridge the gap when knitting the individual fingers.  The problem with this is that this cast on results in an excess of yarn no matter how tightly you work it.  This creates large stitches and ladders at the join.  Second, when you pick up stitches at these cast on edges, there is always holes at either side of the finger.  Yes, you can fix this when you weave in yarn tails but it makes the finger joins even more bulky.

To fix the first issue, instead of casting on any stitches I started working tight yarnovers at the join shown in the photograph below.

On the next round you use the strand created by this yarnover to work two M1 increases, taking care to twist the strand.  Does it matter whether they slant to the right of left?  Not at all.  This is shown in the photograph below.  Notice that there isn't much excess yarn.

Now for the second problem.  If you look at the photo above it shows the location for the thumb.  To work the thumb the stitches on the holder are transferred to needles and it is necessary to pick up two stitches in those cast on.  The is always a gap where the finger joins the hand.  The solution I found was to do something I have devoted many blog entries to NOT doing when picking up stitches in a bind off or cast on edge.  That is to pick up more stitches than you need.  The rule for picking up stitches on a horizontal edge is to pick up ONE stitch for every stitch.  When picking up stitches for fingers I recommend picking up four stitches in those two stitches.  Pick them up in the stitch below and between the stitches but NOT in the holes.  (Picking up a stitch in a hole just makes it bigger.) The photo below shows these 4 stitches.

On the next round you close these holes by working decreases but not with each other but with the stitches BEFORE and AFTER the stitches you picked up.  On the right side of the finger, work an SSK with the stitch before the new stitches, then knit the center two stitches.  Then work a K2tog with the final new stitch and the stitch after the new stitches.  If you look closely at the photo below you can see the decrease but what you don't see are holes.

There are two videos for this:  Part 1 and Part 2.

I won't be having salon this week.  I've got way to much writing to do.  (See below!)

I won't be having salon this week.  I've got way to much writing to do.  (See below!)

I finished the bee sweater.  I didn't mind knitting it at all but the finishing nearly killed me.  The combination of the color and the size of the stitches made it hard.  To quote Danny Glover's character in Lethal Weapon, "I'm getting too old for this."  It did turn out OK.  Now to write the pattern and redo the charts....

Here are the gloves.  Notice I haven't woven in any of the ends.  Sigh.

When I proposed the gloves I also decided to do a pair of arm warmers in a worsted weight.  The Stitch Anatomy lesson is on the basketweave stitch.  In the TNNA fashion show there were lots of ponchos.  Arm warmers would be fun with a poncho.  All of the yarn is from Anzula.