Friday, July 22, 2016

Kitchener Stitch Without a Tapestry Needle

A lot has happened since my last post.  Between taking a quick vacation over the 4th to preparing for the conference in Charleston, I just didn't have time to make an entry.  The conference went very well and at Masters Day we made an announcement that the management company which owned TKGA was dissolving the entity.  They were willing to give the Masters Committee the organization and its property.  We agreed to take this on and to transform it to a 501c3 non-profit. Here is a link to the announcement which we posted in Ravelry as well as Facebook, etc.

TKGA Announcement

The response has been positive for the most part.  There have been a few complaints which I am handling individually.  If you'e like to put in your two cents, the last line of the announcement has an email I am using for that purpose.

The high point of the conference is always when we pin the new Master Knitters.  We took the opportunity to get a photograph of the Master Knitters who were in attendance.

The Yarn Tasting went very well.  I think I was forgiven for not doing goody bags.  After all, I did wind 3,300 center pull balls.

I didn't get to spend much time in the market but I was thrilled that Dusty's Vintage Shoppe was there.  Michele has the most AMAZING collection of buttons.  Here is a photo of my acquisitions from TNNA and our meeting.  I use the buckles for my Hermes scarves.  Michele is amazing.  She can tell you the history of every button she sells.  She will be at Stitches Midwest, Booth 319 in Schaumburg (and, no, I don't get free buttons.  I just think her booth is AMAZING.)

We displayed four of Charles Gandy's wonderful art instalations.  I'm thrilled Shoeshi came home with me.  Here is the photo I took at the show at the Bascom Museum.

I just have to find the perfect place for it.

I want to reassure my students that the reorganization will not effect them in any way.  You can continue to order the classes and I will continue to review them as always.

One of the things I love about teaching is that I always learn something.  One of the students in my Finishing Class, Patti Giorgi, showed me a different way to do Kitchener Stitch.  With Kitcheners Stitch, like a lot of knitters, I finally mastered one way to do it and wasn't all that interested in investigating different methods.  Patti found this technique in a video which she hasn't been able to find again or we would give that person credit.  I have to admit, Patti showed me this at the end of a very long day of teaching 25 students and I knew I had to go right from class to set up the Yarn Tasting so I wasn't all that enthusiastic about learning it .  After a good night's sleep, I was ready to give it a try.

Rather than use a tapestry needle, you "knit" or "purl" the seaming thread through the stitches.  The main advantage of this method is that you don't have to mess with the seaming yarn as much to get those stitches to match the surrounding stitches...this is a BIG advantage.  Patti swears you can also read the work to see what comes next but I haven't reached that state yet.  

I have done a blog entry on the technique using a tapestry needle, Kitchener Stitch with Tapestry Needle, if you want to compare the methods.  

You begin this method the same way but instead of threading the seaming yarn on a tapestry needle, you get a knitting needle. You either "knit" or "purl" the seaming thread through the stitches but instead of forming stitches on your needle, you pull the yarn all the way through.  Typical instructions call for you to insert the tapestry needle knitwise or purlwise.  In these instructions either knit or purl.  Before reading further, you might want to look at the video as the written out instructions will make more sense.  Kitchener without a tapestry needle

Here are the steps:

Preliminary Steps:
--Cut a strand of yarn at least three times longer than the edge you will seam.
--Insert knitting needle knitwise into the first stitch on Needle 1 and pull the seaming yarn through the stitch. Insert knitting needle purlwise into the first stitch on Needle 2 and pull the seaming yarn through the stitch.

Kitchner Steps:
Once you have taken care of the selvedge stitches you are ready to do the rest of the stitches.  Take care not to pull the yarn through too tightly!
  • "Purl" the first stitch on Needle 1 and pull the yarn through.  Drop this stitch from the needle.
  • "Knit" the next stitch on Needle 1 and pull the yarn through.
  • "Knit" the first stitch on Needle 2 and pull the yarn through.  Drop this stitch from the needle.
  • "Purl" the next stitch on Needle 2 and pull the yarn through.
Repeat these steps until only the selvedge stitches remain.  To finish "purl" the last stitch on Needle 1 and pull the yarn through.  Drop the stitch.  "Knit" the last stitch on Needle 2.  Pull the yarn through and drop the stitch.

The dark blue yarn is the seaming yarn.  This required very little touch up when the kitchener was complete.


Salon will be on Saturday from 1:30 to 3:20.  I generally have salon on Sunday but this week Anzula is doing a truck show at ReBelle which I do not want to miss!  I'm glad they have put Kentucky on there touring schedule.


I'm finally getting time to finish my dress.  RedFish dyed the yarn for me.  I'm using 6 shades of black to gray.  If you look close you can see a very subtle change.  I'm about tready to change to a slightly lighter shade.  I want the sleeves to exactly match the body.  This is a bit of a pain. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Picking Up Stitches on Stitch Patterns

I'm sorry I haven't made a post for so long.  There were three things that got in the way.  We had the photo shoot earlier in the month and I barely got my garments done.  Two days after the photo shoot was TNNA which was in Washington, DC this year.  I lived in DC for 12 years so it was great to go back.  In addition to the show, we visited three yarn stores, Second Story Knits in Bethesda (it was the Needlework Attic when I lived there), Loops in Dupont Circle, and Fibre Space in Alexandria.  All were wonderful.  I brought home some souvenirs, naturally.  Since I've been back I have done NOTHING but get ready for the conference.  We will have 34 different yarns at the tasting.    Only 7 more to go!

I have a new student from France.  I generally send the swatches back after I have reviewed each lesson.  She wants me to hang onto them and send them back all at once.  We will give this a try.  I'll photograph them with the letter.  I don't plan on doing this for US students but for international, it worth a try.  International postage rates are obscene.

This entry is due to a suggestion from a reader.  She was confused as to where to pick up stitches along a horizontal edge when the stitch pattern is not stockinette.  I discussed this principle when I did an entry on seaming horizontal edges.  You seam and pick up stitches at the same location, in the center of the stitch immediately below the bind off edge.  For knit stitches, this is in the center of the "V" and for purl stitches it is below the "frown".  Remember the "smile" is the space between the stitches.  This rule applies to all stitch patterns I can think of.  (If you don't know what I mean by "V" or "frown" and "smile" check the index for my blog under stitch anatomy.  It is impossible to finish garments properly if you don't understand stitch anatomy.

This photo shows stitches picked up in seed stitch.

Garter stitch is the same on both sides.   If  you look at the bind off edge, on one side you will see the chains of the bind off.  On the other side, it just looks like a purl stitch edge.  It does make a difference depending on which side you select.   In the photograph below the stitches were pick up on the side with the visible chain.  Notice that the new stitches are on top of the ridge.

This photograph shows where the stitches were picked up on the other side.  Notice that there are several rows of knit stitches.  When you pick up the stitches make sure that you are consistent when selecting what side to use.

Here is the video that shows how to do this:  Picking up Stitches in stitch patterns

Salon will be on Sunday (June 26) from 1:30-3:20.

I have not knit for a week.  I'm winding yarn balls.  Here are two photos from the photo shoot.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Grafting Garter Stitch

I have been frantically trying to get the garments done for the Fall Cast On.  It would help if I wouldn't rip out my work so much.  I broke my resolution of several years ago and didn't write up the pattern for the yoked sweater immediately.  It is so much easier if you do it as soon as the garment is finished.

I haven't had many lessons to review lately which has helped my time management.  Don't be so considerate!  Send in your lessons!

The coat I am knitting has garter stitch short rows picked up on the sides.  After several versions I finally decided the best approach would be to graft a seam from the bottom hem to the underarms.  I don't enjoy grafting but when you want a "seamless" look it is the best way to go.  I didn't want a bulky seam at the sides of the coat.  Grafting garter stitch is really quite easy.  As with anything, the process will be easier if you prepare.

First, make sure you have the same number of stitches on both pieces.  (Yes, you can graft if you have an additional stitch, it is just simpler if you have the same number.  Don't be afraid to decrease a stitch on the last row to accomplish this.)

Second, position the needles properly.  To do this, you have to have an understanding of stitch anatomy.  On one size of the work, the stitches immediately below the needle are purl bumps.

 Compare this photo the photo above.  The stitches immediately below the needle are knit stitches.

For the pattern to be maintained, the "purl" side needs to be facing out on Needle 1.  For Needle 2, the knit side needs to be facing out.  (The video shows how to position the needles.)

Third, you need to decide if you are going to use the working yarn on one of the pieces or if you want to use a separate strand to seam.  There are advantages to both.  If you use the working yarn there is one less yarn tail to weave in.  If you use a separate strand you can do the clean up from both sides, rather than just the left side.  (Clean up is discussed later.)

The basic procedure after the set up is to go into the first stitch on Needle 1 purlwise and then the first stitch on Needle 2 purlwise.  Then do the following:

  • Go into the first stitch on Needle 1 knitwise.  Drop it from the needle.  Go into the second stitch purlwise
  • Go into the first stitch on Needle 2 knitwise.  Drop it from the needle.  Go into the second stitch purlwise.  
Repeat this steps until only one stitch remains on each needle.  Go into the stitch on Needle 1 knitwise and drop it.  Do the same for the stitch on Needle 2.  Grafting Garter Stitch

Are you done?  No.  Now you have to clean it up.  I tend to do this every few stitches as I find it easier.  The one thing you do NOT want to do is to pull the seaming thread tight.  This is a real pain to clean up.

Here is what your work might look like when you have finished the actual grafting.

You can clearly see the oversized stitches.  To fix this, you have to use a needle to shift the yarn from the right to the left so that it matches the tension of the rest of the piece.  In the photo below the needle is in the grafted row.  There is a row above that where the tension is uneven where excess yarn from a yarn tail has worked its way into the stitches to the left.  In a real project, I would use the same technique to fix this as well.  Cleaning up the Graft.

In the example below the yarn has been pulled too tight.  This requires more effort to fix.

I will have salon this weekend as I am not going anywhere for the holiday.  Stop by if you are in town from 1:30-3:20.

I've finished all of the major knitting on the coat.  I've worked the garter stitch, grafted it, picked up the fronts and worked the color.  Since this is such a simple design I decided to try working the sleeves from the top down and picking up the stitches.  I have to say, I REALLY like this method. I've always hated set in sleeves as they've never looked quite right to me.  This solves all of those problems.  I have to finish the sleeves and then graft the povisional hems.  It is going to require seaming as well.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tubular Bind Off in the Round Redux

Sorry  I didn't post last week.  Sometimes life just gets in the way... More yarn keeps arriving for the Yarn Tasting.  I am seriously behind!  I am getting some great yarn for the door prizes.  I am showing restraint from adding to my stash!

Just a reminder...I don't enforce the one year time limit for completion.  As long as you ordered the course from me, just send me an email to let me know you want updated materials.  If you have the current materials (April 2014) just send in the lesson, no need to email me.

Some contacted me who was having difficulty with a tubular bind off in the round.  I just happen to be working on a sweater which is knit top down where I bound off the bottom and cuffs to match the tubular cast on for the turtle neck.

I really like the looks of a tubular bind off.  If I am doing a project which will be enhanced by a stretchy cast on/bind off, I always chose to do one.   I do them often enough that I don't have to look up how to do one anymore!

I find it much easier to do the bind off on K1P1 ribbing that K2P2 ribbing (yes, I know you can do it but I just prefer the look of the K1P1 ribbing) so I convert K2P2 ribbing to K1P1 ribbing.  I did a blog entry on this a long time ago.  Here is the link:  K2P2 to K1P1.  The next step of the bind off is to do at least two rows/rounds where you alternate slipping stitches with the yarn in the front or back depending on whether it is a knit or a purl.  When you are working in the round, you will work one round where you slip the purl stitches with the yarn in the front and on the next round it will be the knit stitches with the yarn in the back.  For the cuffs I did four rounds.

Before doing the next step, I adjust the stitches so that the first stitch on my needle is a purl stitch and if I am using DPNs, I make sure this is the case for all needles.  I then cut a long tail (longer than I need, invariably) and thread it with a tapestry needle. If you watch the video you will see that I frequently reverse the words for left and right (some form of dyslexia, perhaps) so I try to use the terms knitwise and purlwise which I don't confuse.  My steps follow:

  1. Insert the tapestry needle PURLWISE into the first stitch on the left needle.  (It is a purl stitch...see above.)  Pull the yarn tight.
  2. Insert the tapestry needle PURLWISE into the knit stitch to the right of the purl stitch, across the purl stitch and into the knit stitch to the left of the purl stitch.  Pull the yarn tight.
  3. Insert the tapestry needle knitwise into the first stitch and pull the yarn tight.
  4. Drop the purl stitch and knit stitch from the needle.  
Repeat these steps until all stitches are worked.

The key thing to remember is that every stitch will be worked twice.  When you get to the last knit stitch, remember you worked it when you started so all you have to do is drop it and weave in the yarn tail.  Here is a photograph of the finished cuff.  Looks pretty good...

Here are links to the videos.  The first one shows how to begin.  The second one shows how to end.

Part A and Part B

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

I finally finished the sweater for Elff.  Finishing took quite some time... the yarn is dark and there were lots of rows.  I had to get out my OTT light!  Elff says she like it and will wear it to shows.  If RedFish Dyeworks is at a show, check it out, particularly the inside.  My stranding is very good, if I say so myself.

I then knit my first yoked sweater.  I'd never done one before.  I redid the first section of increases about four times but I liked the final version.  Here is the front.

I wanted the cables to extend a bit further on the back so the back is different.

The cables extend even further on the sleeves.  You can't really see them in the photograph.  I am going to have to steam the center cables on them before the photo shoot.

Now I am working on a coat.  I'll have photos next week.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Inc (or Dec) Every (fill in the blank) Rows

I'm excited as I am driving down to The Highlands tomorrow for the artist's reception and talk at the Bascom Center for the Visual Arts.  Charles Gandy is a member of the Master Committee and a very dear friend.  I am looking forward to it.  Here is the link:  Beyond the Sock.  I hope they allow photographs!  If they do, I will post some in my next entry.

It has been a while since I put in an obligatory cat photo.  Here is my sweet, blind Petipa.

It has been very slow!  I know it is spring but send me some lessons!  

This topic is in response to a request.  A fairly new knitter contacted me when they were confused by some language in a pattern.  It had to do with how often to work increases and decreases.

When I was reviewing swatches for the Masters Hand Knitting program, I noticed that this was a very common problem.  The instructions for a group of swatches specified to work the increases and decreases every other RS row but invariably the knitter would work them every RS row.  Naturally, this impacts the length of the piece.  The bottom portion of the swatch in the photograph below shows the increases worked every RS row and the top portion, every OTHER  RS row.  Generally you see instructions like this when shaping a sleeve or a neckline and it is important that you get it right or you won't get the expected results. 

This process is described a variety of ways in patterns.  In circular knitting, it will never be phrases as every RS or every other RS round as all the rows are RS.  The language you see in these cases is "Dec every 2nd (or 4th) round."  You see this in flat knitter as well and it can be confusing.   It helped me to write it out.

Dec Round:  Make the dec.
First Round:  Knit
Second  Round AND Dec Round:  Make the dec.

This photograph shows decreases and increases placed every 2nd row or every RS row.  The arrows show the increase/decrease row.  (More about this later.)

This is how to interpret "every 4th row".  

Dec Round:  Make the dec.
First Round:  Knit
Second  Round: Knit
Third Round:  Knit
Fourth Round AND Dec Rnd:  Make the dec.

This photograph shows how to place increases and decreases every other RS row or every 4th row. Again, the arrows show the increase/decrease row.

Many knitters do not know how to "read" their work and when I teach I frequently discover my students misidentify the actual increase/decrease rows.  In the two photographs below, the BLUE arrows show the row on the needles when you make the increase/decrease.  The actual increase/decrease row is indicated by the red arrows.  It is important that you be able to identify increase and decrease rows.  If you put your work down you need to be able to see when you need to work the next increase/decrease row.  By the way, the increases are right slanting lifted increases.

Here it he video:  Dec (or Inc) every (fill in the blank) rows

There won't be salon this week as I will be in North Carolina but there will be one the week after, May 1st, 1:30-3:20.

I'm just finishing up the sweater for Elff.  I just have to do the seams & hem now.  It is a good thing.  I am starting to get the yarns for garments for Cast On.  

Friday, April 8, 2016

Fair Isle Flat

Yes, its that time of year again.  Boxes are arriving daily and I am hoping to keep up.  For anyone who is new to this blog, we have a Yarn Tasting at our annual TKGA conference.  Last year we had over 30 different yarns to taste.  Because I am nuts, we wind the yarn into small, center-pull balls with individual labels for each participants (100).  It is a pain but I can't really think of another way to manage the yarn.

I've been getting quite a few lessons lately and I have been keeping up.  Again, if you could send me an email with a tracking number when you send the package, I'd appreciate it.

I've decided to discuss working Fair Isle (or stranded) designs flat.  The traditional method is that it is done in the round and then steeked for the armholes or fronts if it is a cardigan.  The key advantage is that you are always looking at the RS and you never have to purl.  The disadvantage is that side seams often provide support for a garment and you will have jogs in the pattern where the round begins and ends.  I've always preferred working stranded designs flat for very personal reasons.  The main one is that my tension is much better.  When I am knitting a tube I seem to strand tighter (and yes, I know that you can turn the work so that the strands are on the outside).  I also like the support of the seams at the sides.  Plus I can line up the pattern exactly.

I've taken a lot of flak in for my construction.  My favorite was the 9 paragraph email that began "Oh why Oh why would you work this flat?"  If you like one of my designs and you want to work it in the round, just subtract the selvedge stitches and work the front and back together.

The problem with working it flat is the selvedges.  Initially I would only have one stitch at each side and have to do sort of an intarsia wrap thing which left a lot to be desired.  I then figured out if I had two selvedge stitches and alternated them every row I could solve this problem.

Yes, the selvedge stitches are ugly but they will be in a seam.  I also recommend using two hands to work.  I always keep my background color in my right hand (and I keep this strand on the top) and my design colors in my left (which I keep below).  I'm not going into color dominance theory as it is too big a topic for this discussion but trust me, you work will look better if you do this.

Notice in the photograph below how the strands in the top rows and bottom rows alternate.  Notice in the middle, they don't.  In the alternating rows, I kept the blue on top and the white below.  In the middle I reversed it.  It does effect the appearance of the RS.  Here is the video:  Fair Isle Flat

I will be out of town this weekend so the next salon will be April 17th.

I am STILL working on the sweater for Elff.  I am hoping to finish it up this week in time to start on the stuff I will be doing for Cast On.  I'm on the second sleeve!!!  Fair Isle Flat in action.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Reversing All Shapings...

The video we did at the Winter 2016 TNNA show was finally uploaded to the TKGA website this week.  TNNA is the major trade show for the needlework industry.  The major yarn companies have booths to show off their product lines for retailers.  We used to review new products in Cast On but we decided not to do this anymore.  We are going to produce a video with this information and review some of the yarns used for garments in the magazine.  This year we reviewed needles from Hiya Hiya and yarns from Baah, Shibui, Anzula, Mountain Colors, Jade Sapphire, and others.  Here is a link to the video:  TNNA Winter 2016 Product Review (Scroll down the page a bit to see the link to the video).

It has been slow.  I've noticed that March is always slow.  I don't know if it because of Spring Breaks, tax season or March Madness (a bit of a sore spot here in Lexington right now.)  I'm ready when you are!

This week's tip is a special request.  I had an email from someone requesting help on this topic.  It can be confusing for a new knitter or someone who always works in the round.  Patterns often use a type of shorthand to save space and the knitter was puzzled by a particular phrase.  

The instructions for Left Fronts typically are spelled out but when you get to the instructions for the Right Front, the pattern generally says "Work as for Left Front, reversing all shapings".  The knitter was working on a baby sweater and was very concerned about the armhole shaping.  I remember having this same difficulty with the first sweater I knit.  

The first thing to know is that Left Front refers to it being on the left WHEN WORN, not as you are looking at this while knitting it.  The instructions for shaping the armholes generally state to bind off X number of stitches X times at the armhole edge and then to decrease a stitch every other row or so.  When you do this on the left side, you will be binding off on the RS of the work.  When you go to bind off the armhole opening on the right side, you will be binding off on the WS of the work. The problem the knitter who contacted me had was that this meant that the Right Front would have one row more or less than the Left Front up to the armhole opening and was that a problem.  No. That is just how it is.  If you look at the photograph below, the Left Front is on the right.  Notice that it has more rows before the bound off stitches.   The problem will be reversed when you shape the neckline.  On the Left Front you bind off on the WS.  

In this photograph, this problem is exaggerated since it is such a small sample.  I can assure you that in an actual project, once sleeves are sewn in and bands are picked up, you will never notice this.

The other thing to be aware of when reversing all shapings is to mirror your decreases and increases. 
In the photograph below SSK decreases are used at the left armhole and K2tog decreases are used at the right.  Symmetry is important in knitting.  You could reverse this if you prefer it, but don't ever just use K2tog for all of the decreases on both sides.  I did this on the first V-neck sweater I knit.  It took me forever to figure out what was wrong!  Here is the video:  Reversing all shapings

I won't be having salon this week as I will be out of town.  The next Salon will be on April 3rd.  

I'm still working on the sweater for Elff.  The front is almost finished.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The stars go much quicker than the trees or fish.  The sleeves won't take that long.  I need to remember to order clasps!