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.

STUDENT NEWS
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.

TIP OF THE WEEK
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

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

CURRENT PROJECTS
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.

STUDENT NEWS
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.

TIP OF THE WEEK
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


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

CURRENT PROJECTS
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.

STUDENT NEWS
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.

TIP OF THE WEEK
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.

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

CURRENT PROJECTS
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.

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

TIP OF THE WEEK
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.

KNITTING SALON
Salon will be on Sunday from 2-4 pm.

CURRENT PROJECTS
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.)

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

TIP OF THE WEEK
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.

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

CURRENT PROJECTS
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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Grafting K1P1 Ribbing

Last weekend was TNNA in Columbus.  It was one of the better shows.  There were lots of new vendors and plenty to see.  I showed great restraint in the Cash & Carry department but I did bring home a few things.  I spent most of my time thanking companies that have supported us the past year. I have had to do quite a bit of follow up on the yarn for designers.  I don't know what is going on but it took much longer to get the designers the yarn.  I'm still waiting for one more delivery but the yarn is coming from Canada which is the problem.

STUDENT NEWS
I think most of my students are on vacation!  I've reviewed a few lessons but not many.  It has given me time to work on my bee sweater.

TIP OF THE WEEK
My last entry was about grafting in pattern.  That technique really doesn't work for K1P1 ribbing since the half stitch offset cannot be hidden.  If you absolutely have to graft single rib and you want it to look good, there is really only one option.  There are several drawbacks to this technique.  It is a major pain to do (more about that later) and it doesn't produce true ribbing.  You have to lower your expectations.  If you are expecting it to be as elastic as regular ribbing you will be disappointed.

Basically how it works is that you place the knit and purl stitches onto separate needles and you first graft the knits stitches on one side together and when you finish that, you turn the needles over and do the same for the other side.  The photograph below shows this preparatory step.


Notice that you have to use four needles.  I recommend using needles which aren't slippery.  I used carbon needles and even then stitches were slipping all over.

In the photograph below I have grafted one side and have turned over the needles to graft the other side.  The area of the graft will be a bit puffier than the surrounding stitches and will not be as elastic.  The photo also demonstrates a potential issue.  You have to be careful when you transfer the stitches to separate needles.  It is very easy to split a stitch and then you have to contended with that when you graft.  I wish I could say I intentionally split that stitch as a demonstration but, alas, I didn't mean to split it.




Here is the final product and you can see that the "graft" is a bit puffier.  I'm not wild about this technique and I have only used it when I have worked the bands on a sweater as part of the fronts.  When you finish the front necklines, you work the band stitches separately, seam them to the back of the neck and have to either seam them or graft them at the center of the neck.  This isn't terribly noticeable so it isn't the end of the world that it isn't perfect.  Here is the link to the video:  Grafting K1P1 ribbing.


KNITTING SALON
I won't be having salon this week as I have weekend plans, very rare for me.

CURRENT PROJECTS
I am still working on the bee sweater but the end is in sight.  I forget what a lot of work a project like this is.  I'm almost done with the first sleeve.  Here is the RS of the body. 


I always get flak from knitters who think I should knit these things in the round.  Here is a photo of why I knit them flat.  My stranded tension is so much better when I work them this way.



I'm hoping to have it finished by my next posting.  I still have to knit 3 pairs of gloves for the next issue!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Grafting in Pattern

As predicted, I've spent the last two weeks acquiring yarn for the designers of the Fall issue of Cast On.  Of all of the things I now do for the magazine, this is the one that has surprised me the most.  It takes so much time!  I'm still waiting to hear from two companies.  Since TNNA is just a few weeks away I think they may be preparing for it.  Since they've added Cash and Carry to the event, many companies haul a lot of yarn to Columbus.


STUDENT NEWS
I didn't get that many lessons to review but I did get my first MiniCourse lesson.  I don't teach many but I did develop one last January for knitting Fair Isle Flat.  I only developed this class to answer the questions I get about how to do it since it is my preference.  More about that under Current Projects.

TIP OF THE WEEK
I have successfully avoided this topic for years for a variety of reasons.  First of all, I find teaching grafting (or Kitchener Stitch) to be a pain.  I've never found a great way to explain it.  Some students get the whole Knit Off Purl On, Purl Off Knit On thing but many don't.  Then there is my general dissatisfaction with the results of grafting in pattern.  (A bit of a side note...I can spend hours and hours trying to find a solution to a knitting problem that can not be solved.  For example, when I knit my first sweater I had trouble getting over the fact that the armhole on the right side was longer since you bind off on the RS of the back and on the left side you bind off on the WS.   I eventually got over this.)

I put grafting in pattern in that same category since it always results in a half stitch offset which just drives me crazy.  I've learned to get over this as well.  I was working on an infinity scarf for a birthday gift that required grafting in pattern and I stumbled across a video that had the clearest and simplest description of grafting I'd ever encountered.  Jodie Gordon Lucas has a video in her website which I think will click for many knitters.  (QueenieKnits).   It covers any combination of stitches you might encounter (except for K1P1 ribbing or garter which are special cases).

Most Kitchener instructions begin with positioning the stitches to be grafted on two needles, one in front of the other with the wrong sides together.  Jodie's explanation is to look at the stitches as pairs. If they are the same type of stitch (two knits or two purls), you go into the first stitch in the same direction as the type of stitch (knitwise into a knit stitch), then you go into the second stitch in the opposite direction.  If the two stitches are different, a knit followed by a purl) you go into the the stitches in the same direction and the first stitch determines that direction.

Note the length of the paragraph above.  It is short.  That is why I like this method.  It is so simple and easy to remember.  Here is my video:  Grafting in Pattern

Now for the disclaimers about grafting in pattern.  I can't say I've done a ton of research on the topic but most do not mention at all the half stitch offset.  TECHknitter is the exception.  Just how big of a deal is this?  Well, most of the time you are grafting in pattern you are working with some sort of cable pattern or ribbing.  The good news is that the texture of cables and ribbing tend to hide those nasty offsets.  If you look at the photos below you can see that the offset isn't visible in the first.  You only see it in the second if it is stretched.


In an actual project it is barely noticeable.

Here is a photo of the infinity scarf I knit. I haven't woven in the ends yet.  Do you see the offset?



Here is a closeup of the area I grafted.  Can you spot the offset here?



I've just decided this doesn't bother me.

As I said above, two stitch patterns which require special handling in grafting are K1P1 ribbing and garter.  I'll do a video in my next entry on K1P1 ribbing.

KNITTING SALON
Salon will be on Saturday for a change.  The time will be 1:30 to 3:30.  Hope you can make it.

CURRENT PROJECTS
I finished up another birthday present (except for weaving in yarn tails.)


I love this stitch pattern.


I'm finally getting a start on my project for Cast On.  I'm using RedFish 3 ply and size 2.25mm needles.  This is the bottom border.  Beehives are above the bees.  The colors will reverse for the top part of the sweater and the bee design will change.  The honeycombs will interlock.  The photograph doesn't do the colors justice.  I'm knitting this flat as I find it easier to maintain good tension on the floats.