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.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Knit Stitches Next to Purls


I am horrified that it has been 2 months since my last post.  My main excuse is shown under the section Current Projects.  More about that later but TNNA and Cast On haven't helped.

I haven't had a photo of George since my sweet Petipa has been gone.  He is doing very well.  In fact, he is a different cat.  I guess he was meant to be an only child.  I always thought he was food motivated.  No, he was motivated to make Petipa miserable.  He has lost a ton of weight and it isn't from grief.  He is very self-satisfied.



I've spent the past couple of weeks putting in 12-18 hour days on the Fall issue of Cast On.  Sharon, the tech editor and I are the only staff and it is a lot of work.  The photo shoot was two weeks ago and as soon as I get them, the magazine will go live.  If you are a member, you will get an email when that happens.  I used the time to put together indices for some of the regular features, primarily for those going through the Masters Program. 

If you are a member and if you are signed in these links will take you to the indices.  There is a lot of good educational material there.

Knitting 911 and Finishing with Confidence  
Fashion Framework and Stitch Anatomy
On Your Way to the Masters

Knitting 911 is a series by Binka Schwan that has instructions for fixing common mistakes.  Finishing with Confidence is a series by me that covers all major topics in Finishing.  The Fashion Framework and Stitch Anatomy series which began in 2009 discusses specific types of garments and individual stitch patterns.  The On Your Way series is applicable to those doing the Masters Program or really anyone interested in improving their work.

Student News

It has been VERY slow.  Knitting has definitely taken a back seat to everything else!  Things tend to pick up in the fall...not surprising!

Tip of the Week

Something I see in lots of lessons have the same cause.  Ribbing, cables, seed stitch type of patterns all can be improved by a very simple thing.  The next time you are working on a stitch pattern where you have knit and purl stitches together, look closely when you bring the yarn forward to make the purl.  I think you will see that you don't bring the yarn completely forward. This excess yarn generally does one of two things...it works its way back into the previous knit stitch making it oversize or it leaves a ladder between the knit and purl.  This causes K2P2 ribbing to look very sloppy where one column of stitches larger than the column to the right.  It causes K1P1 ribbing to be overlarge (compare the size of the knit stitches in the ribbing to knit stitches above the ribbing and you will see what I mean.  It causes ladders to the left of cables and seed stitch to look lacy rather than dense.  

In the photo below the ribbing isn't stretched.  The arrow points to a column where the stitches are distorted due to the excess yarn.


In the photo below the ribbing is stretched.  The arrow at the bottom shows where the yarn was not brought completely forward.  Notice the ladders on the right side of the purl column and that there are no ladders on the left side of the purl.  It is easier to bring the yarn to the back when going from a purl to a knit.  The arrow at the top shows two rows where the yarn was brought completely forward.  No ladders.




Here is a caveat.  I was teaching and a student told me this did not work and demonstrated for me what she was doing.  She was not bringing the yarn forward.  She was yanking it forward and then giving another really hard pull. This just pulls the yarn from the previous stitches and causes an even bigger tension issue.

In a lot of ways I am a lazy knitter.  I hate having to change needles sizes because chances are I will forget to change back and I wind up having to rip out a few rows.  I rarely drop down a size or two or ribbing.  I get bring the yarn forward to eliminate the ladders.  Guess what?  Dropping down needle sizes doesn't get rid of ladders.  It just makes them slightly shorted.

Here is a video of this technique:  Knit Stitch to Purl Stitch

Knitting Salon

I'm not sure I will be having Salon this weekend.  I hope to be putting the finishing touches on the Fall issue.

Current Projects

This sweater called Bird Lover totally took over my Summer.  The gauge for 4" is 44 stitches.  That was doable but ripping out 10" didn't help either.  I did finish it two days before the photo shoot.  The birds can be hard to see but they are there.






They are easier to see in this closeup.


Of course I used RedFish Dyework yarns and as soon as I have uploaded the photographs to the magazine the sweater will go to them for the shows they will be doing.  (I will be getting it back.  I just let these sweaters visit Elff and Sandy since they put together kits for the sweaters.)  What these photos can't show is how soft and wonderful the drape of this stranded sweater.  They are heavenly to wear.  I did finish up the Big Boy sweater to match the baby one I did back in May.  They turned out quite nice.  





Friday, June 1, 2018


I was out of town last week and have been trying to catch up on what didn't get done.  It is always a bit of problem getting yarn to the designers for the Fall issue of the magazines.  It can take quite a bit of time to get everyone their yarn.

STUDENT NEWS
Summertime...things really slow down!  I've only received a few lessons.  I've mentioned before that I send back lessons using the first class rate.  This allows me to keep the cost of the course the same.  If you want your work back sooner, you can include a prepaid Priority mail envelope.  Again, when you send your lesson I would appreciate a heads up with a tracking number so if there is a problem I can let you know.

TIP OF THE WEEK
This week's tip was suggested by Binka Schwan who write the "Skill Building" articles for Cast On.  The next issue's article is about evenly binding off.  Binka let me know that I've never done this topic, binding off in pattern, yes.  Since this is something I evaluate in the Basics course it was an excellent suggestion.

This topic makes me think of Goldilocks and the Three Bears....Bind offs can be too loose, too tight and just right as the following three photos show.







To get an even bind off, make sure that you are working the stitches on the barrel of the yarn, not the tips and to take care how you tension the yarn.  If you pull too tight, you will get a strangled bind off that pulls in the top of the piece (picture this type of bind off on a shoulder seam!).  If you don't control your tension at all you might wind up with a really loose bind off.  I sometimes recommend using larger or smaller needles for the bind off row but it is far better just to work on achieving an even bind off with the project needles.  It spares you from having to carry around a full range of needle sizes.

While we are on the topic of bind offs....look at the top photos and then at the last photo and compare the size of the last bind off stitch.  I made no effort on the first swatch and on the last swatch I used a suggestion from Suzanne Bryan.  I mentioned this in my last post but here is the link: Last BO Stitch I wrapped the second stitch the wrong way on the row before the bind off.  This works great if you can remember to do it!

Here is my video on binding off:  Evenly Binding Off

KNITTING SALON
Salon will be on Sunday (June 3rd) from 2-4pm.

CURRENT PROJECTS
Since the topic of the Stitch Anatomy lesson in the Fall 2018 issue will be Bavarian stitch I decided to do a baby sweater.  God forbid I do something sensible working it in the round.  No, I'd rather do it flat which requires much more concentration.  The baby sweater is done.  I'm going to have to put tissue paper in the arms for the photo shoot as I made it a bit big.



Now I'm working on the Size 6.  It is going much faster...




I took the time to work on my Blackbird sweater chart.  (This isn't the final chart.  I've made some changes.) 



Elff sent the yarn and I did a small swatch to check out the colors.  We've done some small adjustments as some of the colors didn't have enough contrast.  I can't wait to get started!






Friday, May 11, 2018

Recognizing Tension Issues

This will be a fairly short entry.  I'm right in the middle of ordering yarn for the designers of the next issue of Cast On.  It takes much more effort than you would think.  The Summer issue of Cast On went live on May 5th and the 7th was the deadline for proposals for the Fall.  It really is a bit of a merry-go-round.

STUDENT NEWS
I received very few lessons to review which was actually a good thing.  It takes quite a bit to get the magazine out.  Send them in now!  I have will lots of time next week to review lessons.

TIP OF THE WEEK
The tip this week was prompted by something I saw in two very well know knitting publications last week.  Cast On is different in many ways from other knitting publications since we are the sponsors of the Master Hand Knitting Program that certifies Master Knitters.  The standards by which we evaluate candidates' work is very stringent and for that reason we have to be careful about the garments we have in Cast On, particularly as regards tension and finishing.  If something slips by, we will hear about it from our members who require to develop a critical eye towards their own work.  If you don't know that something can be better, you can't fix it.

In the magazines I was reviewing I noticed two sweaters that had very poor stockinette tension.  Both sweaters had reverse stockinette on the RS and there were clear gutters.  Not only is it unattractive, it can effect row gauge adversely. 

If you aren't sure what poor stockinette looks like, examine the photographs below.




This photo shows the WS.  Notice the very distinct gutters.  Imagine a cabled sweater with the filler stitches looking like this.  Ick.  This swatch also has another very common problem.  One side is much longer than the other.  This happens when the tension problem is worse at the selvedge.

By the way, the photo above and the next photo were lent to me by Binka Schwan.  She is the instructor of the Taming Tension class offered by TKGA and she is a miracle worker.  She not only helps her students with this type of problem but also ribbing, seed, etc.

This photo shows the RS of the same swatch.  Notice how the size of the stitches vary from row to row.



What causes this problem?  For the vast majority of knitters, they purl looser than they knit.  I see it much more in the work of Continental knitters or knitters that work primarily in the round.  I tell my Basics students, they don't need to tell me how they knit.  I generally can figure it out.  Many knitters have just a tension issue at the selvedges.  One fix you can try for that is to begin each row a little tighter & end each row a bit looser.  It will take some practice.

Every knitter has tension problems at times.  Some yarns are more prone.  Generally inelastic yarns, like cotton and linen are more prone to tension issues.

If you have a tension issue and can't solve it, you can use darker yarns which hide the problem, particularly on the stockinette side and avoid patterns which have reverse stockinette on the RS side.  If you are doing the Masters Program, this is something you have to fix before you progress any further.

I'm not going to give any further tips for fixing tension or do a video.  Fixing tension might require trying several different methods and a lot of practice.  If you are a TKGA member, I can recommend Binka's class.  As I said, she is a miracle worker.  I can also recommend looking at some blog entries from a former Co-Chair of the Masters Committee.  Suzanne Bryan is a very analytical knitter:  Suzanne Bryan, ridges and Suzanne Bryan: Enlarged BO stitch

Once you realize what good tension looks like, you will find yourself looking at knitting magazines in a different way!

KNITTING SALON
Salon will be this Sunday from 1:30 - 3:20.

CURRENT PROJECTS
I'm still waiting for yarn for my Cast On projects.  I finished the socks with the yarn left over form the Tea Roses, just time for warm weather! 





I then made a very long infinity scarf...500 yds of Zen Garden Serenity Silk.  I used the whole skein.  The stitch pattern is one of those elongated stitch patterns.  I like it.



Friday, April 27, 2018

Placing Increases and Decreases

I had to euthanize my darling, blind Petipa on April 13th.  She was close to 19 years old and she had a very good run.  We miss her terribly.  We thought George would be upset as his day (when he wasn't sleeping) was devoted to knowing what she was up to.  Not the case.   He is acting like the king of the castle.  Requiescat in pace, Petipa.  (Glad to know a classical education comes in handy.)


I've spent the past two weeks working on the Summer 2018 issue of Cast On.  I've uploaded all of the patterns and articles to the platform but it won't go live until I add the photographs.  The photographer had a family health emergency but she hopes to get them to me this weekend.  All of the hard work is done. 

STUDENT NEWS
Just a reminder...when you send your lessons make sure they can be tracked.  Not only can you track priority packages, tracking is free for first class packages as well if you take them to the post office.  If you don't track them, we will have no way of finding it.  I've had very good luck with tracking lately.   I always track every package I send.

TIP OF THE WEEK
The final project for the Finishing Class is to knit a sweater and finish it.  I provide a pattern for a doll sweater which doesn't require much knitting which most students use.  I've noticed that a few students have problems picking up stitches along the neckline since they did not place the decreases properly.  I do emphasize where to place increases and decreases in the Reference materials but somehow it gets missed in the final project.

Anyone who has ever sewn knows that patterns always add 5/8" for the seam allowance.  Knitting requires the same thing if the project will be seamed or has any type of band.  That is what the selvedge stitches are for.  You use the horizontal bars between the selvedge stitch and the next stitch in for the seam.  You use the spaces between the horizontal bars to pick up stitches for bands.  If you work a decrease or increase in the first or last stitch, you've just made proper finishing impossible.  I blame patterns.  Most say something like "Dec 1 at beg of next 4 rows."  Unless you know better you would assume this means "beg" means just that, not 1 or 2 stitches in. 

The majority of students who take the finishing class say they are taking it since they hate finishing.  If you don't know what you are doing and you get poor results, you will definitely hate doing it.

If you are seaming the inside of a sleeve where you have placed increases in the first stitches, the seam will be ugly but who is going to notice?  If you screw up the neckline you will never want to wear the sweater.  Every time you look in the mirror you will be reminded that you don't know how to finish. 

Increases--If you are using M1 increases you don't need to worry.  It is impossible to work them in the first stitch.  You have to use the horizontal bar between the selvedge stitch and the next stitch.  Lifted increases don't really work either.  When you try to work a right slanting increase in the selvedge stitch it just slips off the needle.  Yes, you can work a left slanting increase at the right side and a right slanting increase at the left side but it is unlikely that a novice knitter would choose these increases.  The increase that most novice knitters would pick is the Bar or kfb increase.  If you look at the photo, look at the bottom two increases.  The ones on the right side sort of blend in but the ones on the left just make the selvedge edge bumpy.  (By the way, if a project isn't going to be seamed, yes, you can use this increase at the beginning of a row.  I've seen lots of shawls do just this.)  I just used bar increases to make the leaves on the First Saturday dresses.  I found that at the left side, if I didn't want an ugly edge, I had to work the bar increase in the stitch before the selvedge.





The increases at the top are worked with one stitch before and after the selvedge.  This provides a seam allowance.

Decreases--This is the one that causes problems in necklines.  In the photograph below the decreases at the bottom are worked in the selvedges.  There is no way to seam the edges or pick up stitches.  It will just look awful unless the yarn is really dark, heathered or tweedy.  The decreases at the top are worked so that the edge can be properly finished.



Again, this applies only to garments where the edge will be finished.  Here is a link to the video:  Placing Increases and Decreases.

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

CURRENT PROJECTS
I have had very little time to knit.  Putting Cast On together requires a lot of time.  I am using the pink Savannah yarn left over from the roses for the First Saturday dresses to make a pair of socks.  By the way, next Saturday is the First Saturday, Derby Day. 

I did spend some time charting a design for a sweater for the Fall 2018 issue.  The name will be Blackbird Singing and I'll be using RedFish yarns.  Elff is working on the colors.  I'm thinking of doing a baby sweater with a Bavarian design.  I did a sweater as a baby gift 10 years ago.  I never wrote a pattern for it.  I'll do something similar.  Here is the link to the Ravelry project:  Franklin's Sweater.



Friday, April 13, 2018

Purlside Double Decreases

Last week was the DFW Fiber Fest in Dallas.  We held a Masters Day which was quite successful.  The meeting is a very nice one and the market is curated...no drek.  Unfortunately I had a bad cold so I wasn't able to have as much fun as I would have liked--maybe next year.

STUDENT NEWS
I've received a few lessons but things have slowed down.  Keep the lessons coming!

TIP OF THE WEEK
This tip is prompted by things I've encountered in my projects for Cast On.  I checked the index for my blog to remind myself how to work the CDD (S2 k1 psso) decrease on the purlside for the leaves for the dresses (see photos below) and I discovered I had not included it with the other purlside decreases I'd done before.  Also, I'm writing the Learn Something New article for the Summer Cast On which is about working single-row stripes while working flat without all of the yarn tails.  This technique is also especially useful for adding a new skein with kettle dyed yarns.  When you use this technique you might find yourself having to work decreases or increases on WS rows.

I researched this a bit to see if there was an easier way than I knew.  Nope. 

In the photograph below the decreases labelled A and B are worked on the RS of the row.  A is the CDD or Central Double Decrease.  Notice that the center stitch is on top of the stitches to the right and left.  This decrease is used most in lace, mitred work and V-neck bands.  To work it on the RS, you slip the first two stitches to the right needle as if you were going to knit them together (never separately). You knit the next stitch, then you pass the two stitches over the stitch you just knit.  It is a bit more complicated to work it on the WS.  It is a four-step operation.  First you slip the the first two stitches, one at a time, knitwise and return them to the left needle (this changes the stitch  orientation in preparation for the next step).  The second step is to insert the right needle into these two stitches from the back (as you would for an SSP decrease).  The third step is to transfer these two stitches back to the left needle (note that this repositions the stitches).  The final step is to purl the three stitches together.   If you look at the decrease labeled as "C" it is identical to "A".


The decreases labeled "B" and "D" are identical as well.  Notice that for these decreases, the center stitch is underneath the stitches to the right and left.  This decrease is most often used in lace.  To work it on the RS, slip the first stitch knitwise, knit the next two stitches together and then pass the slipped stitch over the two stitches just knit.  To work it on the WS, purl the first two stitches together, slip the next stitch knitwise and return it to the left needle, return the stitch you created by purling the two stitches together to the left needle and pass the slipped stitch over that stitch.

The video demonstrates both of these decreases:  Purlside Double Decreases

KNITTING SALON
I won't be having salon this week since I'm going to the Met HD production of Luisa Miller on Saturday and Sunday is the photo shoot for Cast On. 

CURRENT PROJECTS
I finished everything up for the photo shoot with a few days to spare.  Here are the socks (the color is absolutely wrong.  They are golden.)


The project to go with the Learn Something New is a striped sweater I'm calling Fishing in France.  It was a very quick knit.


Here are photos of the dresses with close ups of the roses.