Friday, February 17, 2012

Whine, whine, whine...still sick.  I had a relapse.  I hope this is over before I get on the plane to go out to Stitches West!  By the way, I will not be making a blog entry next week.  I will be in Santa Clara at Stitches.

The photo shoot for the Summer issue of Cast On was at the Granville Inn in Granville, OH on the 15th. It was lots of fun. The Stitch Anatomy Lesson is on Double Knitting and the Fashion Framework lesson is on triangular shawls. Cast On is not seasonal unlike most knitting magazines but the shawls would make great summer projects. A shawl is a useful accessory thanks to air conditioning, particularly if you live in a warm climate!  There are lots of lovely shawls in the issue including some that are quick knits.  I was very pleased by the way my garments turned out.  I took a few photos.  Luckily Cast On's photographer is better than me!  I didn't use a flash as I didn't want to screw up his photographs.  The Granville Inn was a lovely location for the shoot.  The staff was all very helpful considering how we took over the public areas.  One advantage to the location is that the Inn is very close to Goumas Confections.  Penny Sitler introduced me to their chocolates a few years ago.  I never to go Granville without stopping by.  It is long drive from Lexington to Granville but I know I will chocolate to help me on the way back! 

I promise, the photos will be better in the magazine which comes out in May!

I received lots of lessons to review.  Keep up the good work!  For anyone planning on sending in lessons next week, I will leaving for Santa Clara first thing in the morning Thursday.  If your lesson arrives while I'm gone I won't get to it until the following Tuesday.  I decided to take a red eye back from California and I have a long layover in Salt Lake City which sounds crazy but I have a sister in SLC who I am hoping will come to the airport to fetch me.  I don't get back until Monday morning.  I try to review lessons the same day I get them but if I have 10 waiting for me that might not happen!

Recently I've had several knitters ask me how to weave in yarn tails in ribbing.  I did do a video several years ago about weaving in yarn tails but how to deal with ribbing is sort of embedded in the duplicate stitch information.  

Those of you doing the Masters Program know that we recommend the duplicate stitch method for weaving in yarn tail since it avoids many of the pitfalls of other methods.  A yarn tail should not be visible on the RS.  If you weave in the tails diagonally or using the "fish hook" method, you can see the tails.  The location where the yarn tails is woven in should have the same elasticity as the surrounding fabric.  This is the one that rules out most other methods.  If the fabric doesn't stretch the same, it is easier for the yarn tail to pull free (and generally work its way to the RS).  

You can use the duplicate stitch method for ribbing but it does make the fabric a little thicker and it can make the ribbing a little less ribbed.  For projects like a sweater, you can always run the tail up the seam but for socks and other projects that won't be seamed, it can be a problem.  Running the tail up one side of a knit column works just fine.  

In the photo I have woven in some red yarn using the duplicate stitch method as well and you can see it does enlarge the ribbing section.  I have been using this method on all of the socks I have knit over the years and I have yet to see a yarn tail work its way out.

I've stretched the ribbing a bit for this photo to demonstrate that the yarn tails, using both methods are not visible.  If the red yarn isn't showing through you can be sure the yarn tails in the same color will not.  Here is a link to the video:  Weaving in Yarn Tails in Ribbing

Salon this week will be on Sunday since there is a home basketball game at 4pm.  I should still have some of the candy from Goumas Confections.  Their dark chocolate toffee is absolutely wonderful.  They have a new salted caramels which I got as well. 

By the way, the opera last week was wonderful.  I always cry when Brunnhilde throws herself on Siegfried's funeral pyre.  Now that is opera!  There will not be a Salon next week since I will be at Stitches. 

I did manage to finish up everything for the photo shoot with time to spare.  I now have time to knit for myself (or rather catch up on presents!)  The next selection meeting for Cast On is in early March so I should be able to catch up.

Since the editors at Cast On signed off on my series of season designs inspired by Utah and RedFish Dyeworks yarn, I have to have a pretty good idea of what I want to do by the time I get to Stitches.  RedFish will have a booth.  I have finalized the silhouette for the garment.  It will be an open jacket with a broad band picked up along the front.  I have been going through my Fair Isle and Scandinavian books for inspiration and I will start graphing today.  The body of the sweater and sleeves will have the same motif worked in different colors (like the Autumn on Routes 12 and 24) but the broad band will have a different one (maybe).  I always like to include a design element for the next season (Summer) and as a tribute to my husband's passion for fly fishing, it will be a fish.  I am really looking forward to seeing Elff & Sandy to select the colors.

I plan to stop by and see Miss Babs as well.  I think she'll be pleased by the tunic photos.

I have knit one sock for Jan's birthday (November 2011). She likes practical colors and designs and I am willing to accommodate her boring taste! Yes, it is khaki colored. Last year it was gray and cables.  The second sock will have to wait a week.  I have to do a baby present.  One of my husband's fishing buddies has just had his fourth (!!!!) boy.  I made the mistake when the third was born to make hats for all of the boys and now my husbands expects me to do the same.  Here is a link to the project in Ravelry:  Hats

I like a challenge and since these boys live in Oregon and are very much outdoor kids I plan to make snowboarding hats.  The hats will be four different colors with I-cord dreads using all of the colors.  Penny (editor at Cast On) liked the idea so maybe we will do them for next winter.   The other hats were in Cast On last year.  
Another one of my New Year's Resolutions is to use stash yarn.  I will use this yarn for the hats.  Since my husband is visiting his friend in early March, I do have a deadline.  No problem.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I still have this lousy cold.  I can't believe it has lasted so long.  It is starting to feel normal to be coughing all the time!

I have learned that there are only a few spots left in the finishing class I am teaching at the Grand Retreat.  I am very excited.  It should be lots of fun.  I love teaching finishing classes since the results are so immediate.  Now I need to start work on the handouts.  If you have signed up for the course and have any questions about the homework, please let me know.  If you'd like more information about the retreat, click here:  Grand Retreat

I still am getting emails from students who have signed up for the course over a year ago.  Yes, you can continue with the course.  No, you do not have to pay again.  If you'd like the link to my DropBox, send me an email. 

I didn't get that many lessons to review this week but those that I did were all great.  Keep up the good work.  The cold days of February are ideal for knitting swatches.  By the way, I will be out of town at the end of February at Stitches West so if you send in your lesson at that time, I won't be able to review it until I get back.  I will have my iPad with me so I can answer any questions and if you order the course at that time, I can send you the materials.

I was looking at some knitting a few weeks ago and was struck by the cast on edges.  I think that many of us, when we learn a technique are so thrilled that we can do it, we don't stop to look at the results and see if it could be better.  That is one of the things I love about the Masters Program.  It helps you develop a critical eye for your own work. 

The tip this week is about the cast on edge, particularly the long tail cast on.  What is the purpose of the cast on?  It is supposed to provide a firm yet elastic foundation for the piece.  There are many types of cast on techniques and each has strengths and weaknesses.  The long tail cast on is a very versatile technique.  Most find its appearance attractive, it works for most types of projects and it is fairly easy to master. 

What are the downsides?  If it is worked loosely, it can look sloppy.  It does not provide an adequate foundation for the piece.  The loopy stitches can be easily snagged.  To work the cast on properly, make sure to tighten each stitch.  The spacing between each stitch should be consistent.  If it is difficult for you to tighten up, try using a smaller needle for the cast on edge.  Use the needle size for the project for the first row.  I think many knitters cast on loosely so that it is easier to work the first row.  The first row may be more difficult to work but the results make it worth the time to do it right.  If the bottom edge is ribbed, once you have worked a few rows, stretch it.  The edge should have the same elasticity as the piece.  If it is much looser, give it another try.  The long tail cast on does not seem to provide an edge that is too tight.  At least I have never been able to work one.  If you need an inelastic, edge, try a different cast on technique.  The cable cast on is a good choice.
In the video for this week's tip, I have also discussed the "smooth" and "bumpy" edge of the long tail cast on.  This technique produces the first row of stitches.  If you look at the first photograph, the stitches on the needle are row 1.  If you want the smooth side of the cast on as the RS, that means the the first row you work will be row 2.  Does it really matter?  This is a matter of personal choice.  The important thing is to be consistent.  If you select the smooth side as the RS for one piece of a project, just be sure you have it as the RS for all pieces.  Tip of the Week Video

I finally finished the tunic.  Overall, I am pleased.  I even finished the pattern.  So far, I've kept my New Year's Resolution.

Here is a close up of the neckline.  I ensured that the last row of the neckline was a K2P2 so that the neckband would line up.  As you can see in the sample, I used a tubular bind off which I like for necklines.  This is optional in the pattern.

The last thing I have to do for the photo shoot on Wednesday is the over-the-knee socks.  These socks accompany an article on the jogless join.  I always make socks for my friends' kids when they go off to college in their school colors.  I thought "dorm socks" would be fun.  My daughters convinced me that these socks should be over the knee.  They really didn't take that long.  There are paired increases at the center back of the calf.  I reversed out the colors.  I used Solemate from Lorna's Laces with Outlast.  It was very nice to work with.

Don't you love my legs? 

When I finish up these socks, I have some birthday presents (late as always!) to work up and I need to seriously think about the sweater I am doing for the Fall issue.  It is the third in the series of the Utah by Norway sweaters.   I am meeting with the folks from Redfish Dyeworks at Stitches to select the yarn.  The sweater will be a stranded design in spring colors.  I sent Elff a video of the peony gardens at Ashland (Henry Clay's home) so she can match up some pinks. The design will be floral...the background color will be dark dark purple...the color of black irises.  The inspiration is Memorial Day in Utah.  The design is for my mother who died last year and was an avid gardener.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I have been sick this entire week.  Colds make me stupid.  I hope this post makes some sense!  I did rally to review the lessons which arrived but I spent most of the week coughing, sneezing and complaining.  I had hoped to finish up the pattern for the Vlad tunic but I have put it off until I am thinking more clearly.  My other goal was to start on the handouts for the Mackinac course.  The handouts will be a complete reference guide for finishing.  I am quite excited about them.  Maybe next week...if this cold EVER goes away!

Again, if you have ordered this class any time that I have been the instructor, I am happy to have you continue.  You don't need to contact TKGA to ask for permission.  Just send me an email or a message through Ravelry and I will be happy to send updated materials.  If you have completed any of the lessons, let me know.

The tips for the first three weeks discussed how to improve ribbing, seed stitch and cables by bringing the working yarn forward very tightly when changing from a knit to a purl.  For some knitters, this can be difficult due to hand issues or how they knit.  This week I will discuss another technique you can try.

The other ribbing samples were K2P2 ribbing.  It is easy to identify over sized stitches in K2P2 ribbing since the stitches in the second column of knit stitches are so much larger.  It is a little more difficult to see this in K1P1 ribbing.  K1P1 ribbing should be tight with the purl stitches barely visible.  If you compare the two examples you can see the difference.  Another thing you should look at is the size of the knit stitches.  In both the Basics class and Level 1 of the Masters program there is a stockinette swatch with K1P1 ribbing.  When you do these swatches, compare the size of the knit stitches in the ribbing to the knit stitches in the stockinette portion.  They will never be the same size but if they are significantly larger you may want to give it another try.   How do you you fix this?  You can bring the yarn forward tightly as discussed in the previous Tips but if that isn't comfortable or doesn't work for you, try this instead.  When you go to work the purl stitches, instead of wrapping the yarn OVER the needle as you normally would, wrap the yarn UNDER the needle instead.  Look carefully when you do this and you will see that this significantly reduces the amount of yarn in the stitch.  It also forces you to bring the yarn forward more tightly.  The important thing to remember is that this alters the position of the resulting stitch on the needle.  Normally, the right leg of a stitch is on the "front" of the needle.  When you wrap the stitch the opposite direction, this places the left leg of the stitch on the front and if you work the stitch as you normally would, it will twist the stitch (not a good idea).  When you use this technique you must work the resulting stitches through the back if you do not want twisted stitches.  Also try to use just the tips of the needles.  This helps keep the stitches small as well.

Many knitters routinely do this for purl rows to correct tension issues.  It is called combination knitting.  Others use it only for ribbing and seed stitch or for the first purl stitch following a cable.

I recorded a short video showing this technique.  Tip of the Week video

Salon will be on Saturday this week.  There is a basketball game but it is an away game at 6 pm.  It was a choice between the Wildcats or the Superbowl. 

The front and back of the tunic are finished and blocked.  I spent the week on the sleeves.  Luckily, they didn't require much thought.  Colds make me so stupid.  There is no way I can do the pattern until my head clears.  As it is, I had to rip out the sleeves after about 6" as I needed to adjust the increase placement.  Since I was too sick to do much else, I just knit and watched crap television.  I finished up last night.  I just have to block them.  I should have the tunic finished by Sunday.  The only thing left for the next issue of Cast On is the over-the-knee socks.  I am doing an article on jogless joins with a pair of striped socks.  My daughters informed me that over-the-knee socks are quite the thing now. They shouldn't take long. 

I pinned the pieces to the dress form.  I've haven't cut out the dental elastics yet.  I placed them at the decreases so I can write the pattern.   The notes I make when knitting aren't that great.  I find it much more useful to write the pattern from the garment.

I worked the sleeves at the same time using the replacement Signature needle.  Again, I am very impressed by the customer service.  They may be expensive but they are worth it.  The stiletto points are ideal for cables.