Friday, February 10, 2017

Adding Stitches

All of the yarn for my Cast On projects has arrived.  I spent a lot of item getting the yarn to the other designers.  It can take multiple emails and lots of follow up emails.  I think one designer (in Canada) has not got her yarn yet but she should have it soon.

George and Petipa tolerated each other a few days ago to enjoy a rare spot of sun. 

I didn't get many lessons to review this week.  It has been fairly slow.  I did get several new students, however.  I'm thinking of changing my policy for non-US students.  Postage has got so expensive.  What Naima, my French student suggested was to hold of mailing the swatches back until the course was complete. We do add a bit onto the cost of the course for non-US but it doesn't really cover the postage costs.  I'll keep you posted.

This week's tip, again, is self serving.  The designs Binka and I are doing both require stitches to be cast on at the beginning and end of a row so I decided to do a video on how to do this.  The most common reason for this technique is adding stitches when a thumb gusset is complete.  I rarely add stitches for this as any method you use adds too much space.  I generally just work from one side of the opening to the other and then use the slack yarn between them on the next row to create loops for the stitches on the next round. 

When knitting flat this isn't an option; stitches have to be cast on at the end and beginning of the rows.  No matter what technique you use, the cast on edge is going to be either sloppy or a bit bulky.  The good news is that in the majority of projects, this cast on edge is either going to be seamed or used for stitch pick up so its appearance doesn't matter. 

E or Loop Method
This is the most common method.  I'm not going to discuss HOW to do this (the video shows how to do it) but rather the results.  Anyone who has ever used this method knows that you get a lot of slack yarn between the stitches as you work the first row no matter how tight the loops are (that just makes it harder to work that first row).  The photograph below shows this method.

The advantage of this method is that it is easy and it isn't bulky.  The disadvantage of this method is that loops can be very sloppy and oversized.  It won't provide much stability to the edge.  Notice how large the selvedge stitches are at the join.  Again, this edge is generally finished so it won't be noticeable. 

Knitted Cast On
Another method you can try is the knitted cast on.  It provided a bit more support to the edge but it is still fairly sloppy.  It is easier to work the first row with this method than the E cast on. 

Cable Knitted Cast On
This technique produces the best looking and most firm edge.  This is the method used for horizontal buttonholes for that reason. 

Here is the link to the video demonstrating these techniques:  Adding Stitches

Salon will be on Saturday from 2:30 to 4:30 this week.  I realize that this will conflict with the game (if you are coming you know what game I am talking about) but I am driving to the airport on Sunday. 

While waiting for the Cast On yarn to arrive, I knit another texting glove.  I made a pair earlier but I decided I wanted the fingers to be as long as my fingers.  This way they won't get cold but I can push down the glove fingers if I want to type.  By the way, Maris, I do plan to write this up as a pattern once I finish up my Cast On patterns.

I'm doing a vest and skirt in Shibui Rain (the color is Pollen which seems a perfect choice for Spring).  I've finished the body, I just need to do the bands.  The stitches on the neckline will be picked up first and then a wide band with mitred corners for the front and bottom bands.  Stay tuned for the completed project.  Doesn't look like much now.  You can see in this side view that the back is longer than the front and the sides are vented.

Her is the front. 

I'm using Baah yarn for the next sweater I am doing and when I talked to Mira, the dyer, at TNNA I was wearing the Decoration Day sweater I designed years ago.  Mira said she'd love a stranded project and I told her if she sent me the yarn I'd work something up.  She sent two different types of yarns.  I'll work on this when I finish the stuff for Cast On.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Duplicate Stitch, Again...

I was in San Jose last week at TNNA.  Here's a photo of Anzula's booth.  You can see Celia trying to figure out what I am doing.  In the foreground you can see their new bulky yarn, Burly.  Celia joined me at the show.  We had a great time.  Getting home was a major thrash.  You wouldn't think that a flight leaving at 1pm would be a red eye but that is what it turned out to be.  Due to bad weather in Georgia, I didn't get home until 5am.

A couple of lessons were waiting for me when I got home but it didn't take me long to get caught up.  I spent most of the week ordering yarn for the next issue of Cast On.  It is a very time consuming process so I was glad I didn't receive a glut.

I reviewed several lessons which inspired this weeks topic.  I've said it before that when it comes to weaving in yarn tails using the duplicate stitch method, you either see it immediately or you really have to work at it.  As a reminder, the duplicate stitch method works very well for stockinette stitch as the yarn tail has the same elasticity as the surrounding stitches, it doesn't show through to the RS and it doesn't pull free.  Most other methods don't do this.  I've worked a swatch that has several different things I've seen in swatches lately.   #1 shows a technique I saw in a lesson.  The knitter was attempting the duplicate stitch but didn't quite get it.  #4 and #5 are something you see in quite a few references.  The tail is run diagonally through the stitches.  It is elastic but it does show through.  #2 shows duplicate stitch done correctly but rather than slightly split the stitches on the WS, the needle has gone under the stitches completely as you would for decorative duplicate stitch.  #3 is where the yarn is split.

And here is how the various techniques look on the RS.  If your yarn tail is the same color as the rest of the yarn, the bleed through isn't the end of the world but it does look tacky.  Notice that #2 doesn't look terrible but there is some bleed through.  You don't see any purple on #3.

For students that are having a tough time with this, I recommend working a swatch like the one below.

The one row in a different color can help you see the true path of the yarn on the WS as this photograph shows.  The video shows the technique in more detail.  There are also LOTS of blog entries on this topic.  Check the index.  Duplicate Stitch

Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30-3:20.  The Spalding donuts were a hit last time.  This time I have all the goodies I picked up at TNNA.  I love that they are doing Cash and Carry now, not that I need more yarn!

I finished up a hat for the KAL.  I quite like it.  I still have yarn left so I might make another one while I am waiting for my Cast On yarn to come.  I also wound up knitting several hats for non-knitting friends.  I forgot to get photos, alas.

I'm almost finished with Jan's B-day present, VERY LATE.  She made a resolution this year to start wearing colored things.  This falls into that category!  I designed these socks eons ago.  I called them Leaves of Spring which could describe the color as well!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Double Needle Cast On

Things have been fairly quiet the past two weeks, the calm before the storm.  Today is the deadline for the Spring Cast On submissions so next week we will be making the selections.  Then I leave on Friday for TNNA.  I'm only staying until Sunday morning.

It has been awhile since I've posted any cat photos.  Here is one of George lounging on this sofa.

He was miffed to be disturbed.

My students are slowly getting back to their class knitting.  I've received several lessons this week. I really like our new ordering system.  It works much better than the way the management company did things.  Students get the first lesson immediately.

While I was on hiatus I got an email from someone wanting to know if there was a loose cast on for a lace project.  I didn't have time then to do a post so I'll do it now.  I was doing a lace sweater a few years ago and needed a loose cast on.  Most sources will tell you to use a larger needle for the cast on.  All this does is produce a sloppy first row.  What you want is more space between the stitches, not bigger stitches.  I found a solution in June Hemmons Hiatt's Principles of Knitting.   Knitters either love or hate this book.  It is very comprehensive but Hiatt does not use traditional terminology to describe techniques and her terminology can be very confusing.  Anyway, she has a technique cast on that produced exactly what I wanted.  She calls it the Double Needle Cast On and she includes in both editions.  The section in the new edition is much longer.  It took me quite a while to decipher her description but I finally got it. 

You need two needles of different sizes.  One should be the project needle and the other should be at least two sizes smaller.  There is NO WAY I will attempt to describe how to do this.  Watch the video. Double Needle Cast On It is basically a variant of the long tail cast on but you loop the yarn on the smaller needle as well.  Here is how it looks in progress.

The thing that really confused me in the first edition is that when you have both loops on the needle you twist the needles clockwise while holding the yarn tightly.  She doesn't explain why this is a necessary step.  In the second edition she does give an explanation.  It locks the cast on loops.  Here is what it looks like on the back.  (I have a photo later where this isn't done.)

Here is the final product.  It is a neat looking cast on.

This photo shows why you would want to use this.  I've stretched I.  Notice the extra space between the stitches.  This makes it perfect for a scalloped edge. I've used it for the base row for entrelac as well.

This photo shows what the cast on look likes if you don't do the clockwise twist.  The edge is REALLY large.  There still is a lot of space between the stitches as well.  In the second edition, Hiatt says is you do the twist on a regular long tail cast on, it gives you a bit of a picot edge.  Try it and see what you think!

Salon will be on Sunday from 2-4pm.  I plan on making an early morning run to Spalding Donuts as incentive in this lousy weather.  If you are ever in Lexington, don't miss Spaldings.

Mary Beth, our Treasurer started a KAL on Ravelry--TKGA's KAL.  I'm doing Shed the Baggage.  I am pretty good at keeping my stash at controllable levels but I have a tendency to hang onto luxury yarns...saving them for something special.  I'm using the KAL to clean them out.  I had two skeins of Miss Bab's Sojourn I got at a show a billion years ago.  I needed a replacement Buff (my husband appropriated mine).  I figured this one will be safe from him.

I used the other skein to make one for my niece who is a equine vet for the start of foaling season (lots of nights spent in barns.)  I love the pattern the yarn made.

Then I dug into the bag of Richesse et Soi from Knit One Crochet Two.  When this yarn was discontinued I bought all that Patternworks had (mostly white).  I've used some of it over the years but I still have about 20 skeins.  I'm going to see how much I can use up.  Up first, texting gloves.

I'm going to continue using it up until I start on my Cast On stuff.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Knitting Backwards

I apologize for not posting an entry for so long.  Between TKGA's transition to a stand-alone non-profit, working on the first digital issue of Cast On and the holidays, I just didn't get to it.  I'm now back to my once every two week schedule. 

I'm now working on the Spring issue.  The Call for Designs is out now.  If you are interested in submitting a design go to and select the Publications tab.  You'll find information there on submitting a design.

As part of the reorganization, we have changed the way students get the materials.  As soon as a course is ordered, the student receives a confirmation email with the files attached.  However, if someone purchases more than one course at the same time, only one course will be sent.  Order them separately.  I prefer the new system as students get the materials immediately.  In the past, they wouldn't get them until I received notice from Offingers and then I would send the materials.

Another self-serving topic!  My new MiniCourse will be available in January and I spent this early part of this week writing it.  The title is Fair Isle Flat.  It really should be called Stranded Knitting Flat but that doesn't sound as good.  I really resisted developing this course as my method for doing stranded work is anything but traditional and since our organization keeps traditions alive I felt it would be a problem but I have had many requests for this information. 

Most knitters prefer doing stranded work in the round but I like doing it flat for a variety of reasons.  Mainly I think the stranding tension is much easier to manage and I don't mind purling.  In the course, I suggest trying knitting backwards instead of purling. This way the RS of the work is facing which can make following the chart easier.

To knit backwards, don't turn your work when you reach the end of the row.  Just insert the left needle in the last stitch BEHIND the right needle and wrap it over the needle from left to right.  You then use the right needle to pull the stitch through.  The photograph below shows the yarn wrapped properly. 

Like anything you try for the first time, it can feel weird but if you practice it starts to feel more natural.  This also can be something to try if you purl looser than you knit. 

Here is a link to the video where I demonstrate this.  Knitting Backwards

I'm having salon on Sunday even though it is New Year's Day.  It will be from 2-4pm.

I did do a lot of knitting for presents but I didn't photograph a single thing!  It was mostly hats, scarves, mittens and fingerless mitts.  I did think to photograph the hats and mitts I knit for myself.  I had several skeins of Sapphire Jade cashmere that I've had forever.  I have to say these are pretty yummy.  Its been too warm here to wear them but I know that won't last!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Carrying Yarn for Stripes

The transition date is getting closer and closer.  The website is progressing along nicely and soon I will be able to start work on loading patterns for the online version of Cast On.  I've been getting finished garments from the designers.  I just need to find a photographer!  Our fundraising is progressing nicely as well.  The support of our members is very gratifying.  It makes all of this work worth it.

I was out of town for a few days early this week and I came back to several lessons.  The transition to the new system is not going to change how students order courses except in one way.  When the course is ordered online, the student will be able to download the first lesson immediately.  In the past, they had to wait until the management company notified me.  That could take a few days.  This is a better arrangement.

As it often happens the tip this week is inspired by projects I am working on.  Also, this question often comes up with those working on Level 1 of the Masters program.  For the Winter issue of Cast On, I designed a garter stitch shawl that uses two row stripes and I offered to do the sample knitting for one of our designers who has some family issues which were limiting her knitting time.  Her design is for a scarf (or cowl) that uses single row stripes with three different yarns.  When you work stripes you have to decide whether you want to carry the yarn up the work or if you want to cut it.  My rule is to never carry it over more than two rows.  Maintaining even tension is very difficult if you carry yarn for more than this.  Another issue is the long strands.  If the piece is to be seamed, these strands will make the seam very thick.  If it is something knit in the round, it is very easy to snag the strands.

Even when you are carrying the yarn up just one or two rows, you have to watch your tension.  When you start using the yarn you previously dropped, there is a tendency to pull the yarn tightly to snug up the first stitch.  If you aren't careful, you also pull stitches from the row previously worked in this color.  The photos below show where the yarn has been pulled too tightly. 

The arrow at the bottom of this photo shows where the yarn has been pulled too tightly.  The arrow at the top shows where the tension is too loose. The video shows how this happens and how you can fix it if you notice it immediately.  Carrying Yarn for Stripes

Something else you need to be aware of when carrying yarn for stripes is the effect this has on the appearance of the selvedge.  For the garter stitch stripes, two rows are worked in each color.  This means that the working yarn always returns to the right side of the work.  The yarn is never carried on the left side.  If you look carefully at the photograph below, you can see the carried yarn on the left side (this is the WS of the work).  It looks different from the right side.  For the shawl this is barely noticeable since the yarn is so fine but in a heavier yarn, it would be much more noticeable.

For the scarf I am knitting which uses three colors, the yarn is carried up both sides so the selvedges will match but the strands on the WS are quite noticeable.  (This isn't a problem for the scarf I am working on as it isn't stockinette but seed stitch.  See the photo below.)

Again, I find carrying yarn for more than two rows to be problematic.  It is a pain to weave in yarn tails but the final result is generally worth it.

Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30-3:20.  I wasn't able to have salon last week as Saturday was the first Metropolitan Opera simulcast. I spent 5 hours enjoying Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.  Last year I wasn't able to see many of the performances.  I plan to change that for this year.  Sunday I left for Washington, DC. 

I finished up the scarf length of the chevron shawl.  There was enough yarn to knit both the shawl and the scarf.  I like this length as well.  It isn't as dramatic but looks pretty good wrapped around the neck.

While I was waiting for the scarf yarn to arrive, I started on a project I got the yarn for several years ago.  I am going to make a coat from Shibui Linen (for me).  I got started on the back.  I love that the resulting fabric is so light and slightly see through.  Notice how you can see the chair through the fabric.

I got started on the scarf.  I wound up changing one of the colors from those we originally selected.  What can I say?  I like grays (and black).  I love this pattern.  It looks so complex and it is SO SIMPLE.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Selvedge Seam (Not What You Think)

As always, it has been a busy week.  Our website is improving day by day.  I can't wait until we can do the change.  I just found out today our emails can be activated.  We started our fundraising.  We'd originally planned to do a GoFundMe or something like that but all of those services charge a pretty high fee for collecting the money so our computer guys found us something better that doesn't charge fee Click and Pledge for TKGA.  It immediately sends the form for taxes.  We haven't really advertised this yet and are getting donation.

I've always noticed I get more lessons to review in the fall and this year is no different.  I seem to get a new lesson every day.  

This week's tip was prompted by Binka Schwan, the Vice President of Education for the new TKGA.  She has created a new series for Cast On, Skill Builder, which is designed for newer knitters but I think anyone could benefit from this series.  It will be accompanied by the Confident Beginner patterns.  Her first design is a chunky scarf with optional pockets.  She sent me the pattern which had lengthy instructions for seaming the pockets.  I offered to do a video for the technique.  

Well, I spent quite a bit of time on this yesterday.  I tend to think I've seen almost everything but I'd not run across this technique before and I found written directions confusing.  This was not Binka's fault.  It is just something very hard to describe with words.  

The pockets for the scarf are folder over and then seamed.  I assumed it was some sort of running or back stitch and I couldn't force Binka's instruction to do what I thought they should do.  She pointed me in the right direction...The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt.  If you haven't encountered this book before, prepare yourself.  There is pretty much nothing you can do in knitting that she doesn't cover.  Unfortunately, the names she gives things are not found anywhere else which makes it difficult to use.  For example, she calls the mattress stitch the running stitch and if you've embroidered or done hand sewing, the running stitch doesn't have much in common with the mattress stitch.

Anyway, this is a technique Hiatt calls Selvedge Seam.  It is used when you want the selvedges stitches to be on the outside of the piece rather than on the inside as they would be if you used mattress stitch.  I have never used this before.  She recommends using is when seaming garments with bulky yarns.  I can't see myself doing this.  Selvedge stitches are ugly so why would you want them on the outside?  The other use fits perfectly for Binka's project.  If you have slipped the first stitch of every row you get a decorative chain and you can use the selvedge seams to join the two pieces and the seam can be decorative.   The photo shows a swatch I knit it up (NOT BINKA'S pattern) .

When you use the mattress stitch technique you have the two pieces side by side and when you pull the seaming thread tight, the selvedge is turned to the inside of the piece.  With this technique the two pieces you are seaming are on top of each other.

I was making this much more difficult than it is when a light went off and I realized that the procedure is worked just like the mattress stitch but from top to bottom rather from side to side.

This photo shows the seam from the side so you can see the path of the yarn. 

I'm not going to write directions for how to do this.  You really need to see it.  Selvedge Seam

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

I finished the shawl, blocked it and wove in the ends. 

Here it is wrapped around.    

And how it looks from the back.

I also finished up vest.  It is a reworking of something I did for Cast On in 2009. Many knitters used that pattern for Level 2 of the Masters and there were several things wrong with it for that purpose.  I changed it.  I haven't done the final finishing yet. 

Now I'm working on a scarf version of the shawl.  I'm almost done.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Seaming the CO and BO Edges

If you are a subscriber to my YouTube channel where I have stored the videos for this blog, you did not get a notice that I had uploaded a new video.  I have been involved in a major time suck with Google.  I cannot access that channel anymore.  It doesn't recognize me as the owner so I can't upload to it.  I do have another channel where I uploaded videos relating to Cast On magazine.  I've looked at about a million "help" screens on how to be able to access that channel and nothing has worked.  The fault is mine for having two channels and multiple email addresses.  Apparently, it confused Google.  Anyway, rather than take anymore time with this I am just going to use the other channel from now.  The videos are still there (thank you very much Google) but I no longer get the emails for comments to it.  You will have to subscribe to the new channel, alas.

I was out of town last week but only one lesson arrived which I will get to today.  We took a short tour of the Midwest starting in Fort Collins, CO.  Unfortunately we go there too late and left too early in the morning to go to the Loopy Ewe.  We drove to Lincoln, NE and spent the night near the university.  The next day we drove to Clear Lake, IA (by way of Iowa State).  Then onto Milwaukee by way of Madison.  We hadn't planned on making it a college tour but it sort of turned out that way.  We had a wonderful time, especially in Milwaukee.  What a great city!

This tip was a special request.  In Level 2 of the Masters Program you have to seam a variety of stitch patterns and the Figure 8 join is required to begin the seam.  This causes all sorts of problems.  Leslie Gonzalez, one of the Co-Chairs has done a wonderful blog on the topic but the question I had was more about exactly where to start and end.  Here is the link to Leslie's blog:  Leslie's Figure 8 Join Blog Entry

If you look closely at the cast on edge in the space between the selvedge stitch and the next stitch (this assumes you are using the long tail cast on which is required in the Masters Program) you will see that it consists of two strands of yarn.  The first strand is at the very bottom and the second strand connects to the first row of stitches.  It can be hard to see.  When you start the Figure 8 join, you have the choice to begin above these two strands or between the two strands.  I generally start between the two strands.  In the photo below you can see I have done this.  By the way, I used gigantic needles to knit these swatches so that the stitches would be easier to see. 

As a reminder, to do a Figure 8 join, you bring the needle up from the bottom to top either at the cast on edge on one side and then do the same on the other side.  You finish it off by bringing the needle up from bottom to top again in the EXACT same spot where you began.  The most common mistake is to start the mattress stitch on the first piece by inserting the needle from top to bottom and catching the first horizontal bar on the right side.  Remember, the mattress stitch takes THREE steps, not two.

Here is the completed Figure 8.  I then would begin the mattress stitch using that second strand of the cast on edge.  Again, I could have started above the two cast on strands. 

The second part of the knitter's question was where to finish up.  What do you do at the bind off?  If you look at the bind off edge, you can see the chained loops at the top.  You don't use those loops.  You end the seam using the horizontal strand directly under the bind off loops.  You might have to use a tapestry needle to futz with the bind off stitches to see this horizontal strand.  It can be hard to see.  The photo below shows these last stitches.

When you finish up the seam, you pull it tight.  The final step is to weave in the yarn tails.  When you do this, pay attention to the RS of the work to make sure that the edges are lined up.  (For the Masters Program, you weave in the yarn tail at the CO but leave the tail at the BO edge open.)

In the video I did for this tip, I show where to begin on both the smooth side and the bumpy side of the CO as it can look a little different.  Here is the video:  Seaming the CO and BO Edges

 was out of town last week but only one lesson arrived which I will get to today.  We took a short tour of the Midwest starting in Fort Collins, CO.  Unfortunately we go there too late and left too early

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

The chevron shawl is taking much less time than I thought!  I am almost done.  It is all wrinkled up as I had it stuffed in a backpack on my trip and I haven't woven in any edges.  The colors are pretty correct but they are much more vibrant in person.  Here is the back:  

Here is the front.  There is a decrease every ridge at the neck edge so it is getting smaller and smaller.  I hope to finish it this week.