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!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Yarnover Buttonholes in Seed Stitch

I spent last week adding the projects for the Summer 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016 and Spring 2016 to Ravelry.  The person who had been doing this left the office and I didn't notice for awhile.  After discussing who should be doing this, I just decided to get it done.  I have to say it was a TON of work but I'm glad I did it.  Now I will do it as soon as the magazine is published or maybe a few days before.

This week we discussed the events for the conference since registration will go live next week.  We will, of course, do the yarn tasting again this year but instead of the goody bags we will be doing several door prizes.  It is very expensive shipping that yarn all over the country, both for us and for the sponsors and putting together those goody bags was a massive effort.

Just a reminder, please let me know when you send a lesson and include a tracking number.  By the way, I had a request to change the color of the video links.  I am trying out red.

I hadn't planned on discussing this topic but I reviewed a swatch from a student of my Finishing class where this occurred.  Since Level 2 of the Masters Program requires buttonholes in seed stitch, I thought I'd discuss this.  

When you work a buttonhole in any type of stitch pattern, it is important that the stitch pattern not be interrupted after the buttonhole is made.  Seed stitch can be used as an example of stitch patterns.  I've seen many knitters who go into a the default mode of always working a K2tog after a yarnover but this may not work for all stitch patterns.  In the photograph, notice that the stitch pattern is continued. after the buttonhole.  In the photograph below, this is not the case.

Notice there is a column of knit stitches to the left of the buttonhole.  As you work the buttonholes, if you plan to make the yarnover and then a K2tog, pay attention to the second stitch after the yarnover. In the example above, the first stitch after the first stitch after the yarnover was a purl stitch and the second stitch is a knit stitch.  When you work these two stitches together, the second stitch is on top which disrupts the pattern.  (If you work a P2tog in this situation, the pattern is maintained.)  The videos demonstrates this.  Yarnover Buttonholes in Seed Stitch

Someone asked me about yarnover buttonholes in garter stitch.  There is no stitch pattern to worry about so you just have to place them.  I've used yarnover buttonholes in garter stitch before and the only problem I have noted is that they can be hard to see.  I generally work vertical buttonholes in garter stitch.  (I've stretched the swatch in the photo below.) 

Salon will be from 3:30-5:30.  

For the past two weeks I've been my Summer Nights sweater for Elff of Redfish Dyeoworks.  In a weak moment I said I would knit it for her so she can wear it to shows.  Believe it or not, this is mindless knitting for me.  The next call for designs is due on April 1st so I should have time to finish this up.  I just have to remember to order clasps!  The original sweater is here Summer Nights...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Simple Yarnover Buttonholes

I was out of town a few days last week.  It was nice to get away from the cold weather for awhile. Several lessons were waiting for me when I got home.

After I have reviewed a lesson, I send an email with my letter and the next lesson attached.  The swatches generally go in the mail the next day.  I have been known to forget to attach the letter or the wrong lesson.  Please let me know as soon as possible and I will get the right information to you. If I am not at home (and have just my iPad) I may not be able to check this immediately but I will fix it.  I apologize to anyone who has had to wait!

The next few articles in the Finishing With Confidence series in Cast On.  The first was about yarnover buttonholes.  Buttonholes are also part of Level 2 of the Masters Program.

Eyelet buttonholes are probably the most common type of buttonhole as they are easy to make and to place.  The disadvantages of this type of buttonhole is that it is fairly small and not that strong. With that said, I still use them quite a bit. 

Some sources say to work to two stitches before the location for the buttonhole, then K2tog, yo.  I rarely do this as I prefer to work the yarnover first, then the K2tog.  I find it easier.  I can see exactly where the buttonhole will be.  The other reason is that I prefer how it looks.  When you work a K2tog decrease, the stitch to the left is on top of the stitch to the right which makes it slant to the right. This falls into the "Number of Angels That Can Fit On A Head of A Pin" type of discussion but I prefer to have the stitch on the side of the buttonhole to be on top, that than the buttonhole stitch.

This isn't as big a deal if you are working the buttonhole in stockinette but for other stitch patterns it can make a difference.  In the photograph which shows a buttonhole in ribbing, the instructions above were followed.  Notice how the purl stitch is on top of the knit stitch and the column of knit stitches has been interrupted.  This is tacky looking.  (An SSK would have solved this problem.)

A feature (or flaw, depending on how you look at it) is that  yarnover buttonholes can be almost invisible in some stitch patterns.  There are two buttonholes in the photograph below.  I might have to stretch it a bit to find the buttonholes.

In the photograph below I have pulled the garter stitch fabric so that the buttonhole is more visible. Quite a few years ago, a knitting group here did a knit along of Sally Melville's Einstein Coat which is all garter stitch and several of them could not find their buttonholes when they had finished the coat.

As I mentioned before, working eyelet buttonholes in K1P1 ribbing can require some thought.  If you want to use K2tog decreases, make your yarnover first.  If you want to work the decrease first and then the yarnover, use SSK decreases.  In the photograph below I have stretched the swatch so that you can see I have used two different types of decreases.  (This is the same swatch as in the photograph above, by the way.)   You can see that the final results are pretty much the same.

Here is the video for these buttonholes.  Yarnover Buttonholes

Salon will be on Sunday from 1-3 pm.  

If I am not working to a deadline I can take forever to do the simplest thing.  The two projects I have been working done the past two weeks demonstrate this.  I was knitting a pair of socks for Stephanie's birthday and when I went to block them, I realized that the second socks was about 1/4" wider than the first sock.  At first I thought that I had used a different needle size but then I realized I had made the second sock with a different number of stitches.  I went on autopilot.  Since the socks didn't require a specific multiple I didn't notice.  Luckily Jane at Magpie yarn had another skein of the same yarn so I knit a third sock.  I decided to make a mate for the first sock so now I have knit four.  Since I have so much yarn left, I am making a pair of anklets for another friend.  Everyone gets pink socks this year!

My next project was a pair of socks for the person who lent me the nautical map we used for our photo shoot two weeks ago.  Here is George guarding Version 1.

Version 1 was knit on 2.25mm needles with a total of 72 stitches.  I was about 3 inches above the heel when I decided I didn't like it.  So I started Version 2 which was knit on 2.5 mm needles on 64 stitches.  I was at about the same place when I decided I didn't like the cable spacing so I started over again.  Here is Version 3 which I do like.  I never pull these stunts when I am knitting to a deadline. 

I do like the pattern on these.  I want to do another project where the cables shift, maybe a vest.