Friday, March 30, 2012

I was out of town for a few days this week on a short trip to Asheville, NC, a knitter's paradise.  I didn't have much time to shop around but I did get to a few shops.  I am looking for a very particular Japanese stitch dictionary to add to my collection.  I saw it at Stitches West but by the time I got back to the booth, it had been snapped up.  Alas, no one had it.

It was a slow week which worked out fine since I was out of town.  Again, I blame the weather!  Who wants to work on swatches when the weather is so lovely?

The tip this week may not be of interest to knitters not taking the Basics course or doing the Masters program.  However, this information would benefit any knitter.  The importance of gauge cannot be overstated (if you want something to fit!) but most knitters give it very scant attention.  I think the reason why is that we are so anxious to begin a project we skip this important step. 

The way NOT to measure gauge is to cast on 20 or so stitches, knit a few rows, and then grab a measuring tape, mark off an inch and count the stitches.  This simply is not accurate and does not work. 

  • The first step is to work the gauge swatch a few days before beginning the project.  The ideal time to work a gauge swatch is BEFORE you finish your current project.   You will be less likely to skip steps. 
  • Look at the gauge statement for the project.  It will specify the number of stitches and rows measured over 4 inches.  It should also indicate the stitch pattern. 
  • Cast on more than the number of stitches specified.  Work more than the number of rows specified.  If the pattern is cable or lace, you might want to add a few stitches for a border.  It will make measuring the gauge easier.
  • BLOCK THE SWATCH!!!!!!!  Most skip this step.  The gauge swatch should replicate how the stitch pattern will look on the finished project.  This is particularly important for cables and lace.
  • Mark the swatch for measurement.
  • Keep the swatch.  Don't rip it out.  You might find it useful later!
This week's tip concerns how to mark the swatch.  Next weeks tip will be how to measure and calculate the gauge.  DO NOT INCLUDE the selvedge stitches in the portion to be measured.  They are not the same width as a stitch.  DO NOT INCLUDE the cast on and bind off edges in the portion to be measured.  They are not the same height as a row.  Place the width markers BETWEEN stitches, not in a stitch.  Place the length markers between rows or before the bind off or after the cast on edges.  I have included photos of garter, stockinette, and seed stitch.

Garter Stitch with ribbing

Stockinette Stitch

Seed Stitch
It is pretty easy to mark stitch patterns like these.  For the width, you just have to identify where a stitch begins and ends.  For the length, you have to exclude the cast on and bind off edges.  Cable patterns are a bit different.  Depending on the pattern the width will differ.  For the best results, measure the swatch at the center points.  You will get more accurate results if you measure complete pattern multiples.  In the photo below, there are three patterns multiples.

Cable Swatch
Measuring the swatch at the center will more closely approximate how the pattern will appear in a garment. 

The video shows how the markers were placed for these swatches:  Placing Markers for Gauge video.  Next week's tip will cover counting stitches and rows and measuring the swatches.

I'm still working on the Decoration Day sweater.  I've finished and blocked the sweater body and am now working on Sleeve 1.  I went ahead and sewed the shoulder seams.  

The sleeves have the same border design as the sweater body, minus the fish.  I hope to finish up Sleeve 1 and most of Sleeve 2 next week. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

I was surprised by the number of students who completed Lesson 3.  Keep up the good work!  It keeps me busy.  One thing I have noticed about Lesson 3 is that how to measure for gauge can be confusing.  This is true for Level 1 of the Masters Program as well.  The tip and video next week will be about how to measure for gauge.  The WORST POSSIBLE method is to knit a few stitches, hold a ruler below them and then count.  More about that next week. 

The tip this week is about how to weave in yarn tails where reverse stockinette is the RS (as in many cable patterns).  There aren't any swatches in the Basics class where you need to know how to do this, but it does come up in the Masters Program.  The duplicate stitch method of weaving in ends is recommended in the Basics Course and in the Masters Program and it is ideal where the WS is reverse stockinette.   Duplicate stitch to weave in ends is different from the duplicate stitch used as an embroidery technique on the RS.  In this technique, you insert your needle and go through to the WS of the work.  Obviously, you can't do this for yarn tails. 

When you use duplicate stitch in stockinette to weave in yarn tails, it is necessary to split the yarn to keep the tail on the WS of the work.  The video shows this technique.  Sometimes  this technique can add quite a bit of bulk to the area.  If that is a concern, you can also use the vertical technique you use in ribbing (running the tail up a column of the knit stitches).  To make sure the tail doesn't pull free, anchor the tail with a duplicate stitch or two at the top as shown in the photo. 

Notice in this photo that the only tail that shows through is the duplicate stitch technique used for embroidery.  The others are invisible.  Weaving in Video

Salon this week will be on Saturday from 2-5pm. 

I am plugging along with the Decoration Day sweater.  I generally read while I knit but not with this sweater.  I've really had to pay attention.  I also switched to Addi Lace Needles after I had stitches slip off the needle.  Luckily Magpie Yarns has a very complete selection of needles.  Not every yarn store carries many options in 0 (2.00mm) needles.  I have divided for the armholes and have finished the fronts.  Don't be impressed.  The fronts are VERY narrow.  There will be a very broad band picked up along the front and neck edges.  The color changes give the sweater a striped look and I wanted to break up the horizontal stripes with a vertical on the fronts.  My goal is to finish the back this week, block it and get started on the sleeves.  I generally work sleeves at the same time but with stranded work, I do them separately.  Less yarn management.

No, those aren't apron ties.  Those are the fronts.  They will be wider when blocked.

I am very pleased with the way the flower design has turned out.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The selection meeting for the August-October issue of Cast On was on the 12th.  The Stitch Anatomy lesson is on cables and the Fashion Framework topic is mittens. There were lots of wonderful submissions.  The issue will have many cabled sweaters which will perfect for the fall and winter.  The initial proofs for the May-July issue was available.  That issue features shawls--perfect for the summer. 

It was a quiet week.  I reviewed a few Lesson 1 packets and one Lesson 3.  I blame the weather!  It has been beautiful here.

The registration for the Mackinac Retreat closes soon.  When I checked last, there were two spots available in my class.  Penny Sitler, the Executive Director of TKGA showed me some of the items she has collected for the goody bags and door prizes.  The companies in the industry have been very generous!

I know the topics for the tips can seem fairly random.  Things I see in the knitting I review and questions that come up in the TKGA group in Ravelry frequently determine what I pick.  Several weeks ago, someone was curious about how to weave in yarn tails in seed stitch.  (There is a seed stitch swatch in the Basics class and one in the Masters Program.  Also the cable and lace swatches in Level 2 are bordered in seed stitch.)  Keep in mind, that for projects which will be seamed, the tails can be woven into the seams.  For projects which are not seamed (like swatches) this isn't an option.

The duplicate stitch method is recommended in the Masters Program since so many of the swatches are stockinette but other methods work well for different stitch patterns.  You can use any method you like to weave in ends as long as:
  • The tail is not visible on the RS
  • The tail doesn't pull free
  • The tail doesn't alter the elasticity of the fabric when stretched
The duplicate stitch method requires that you follow the path of the yarn (or duplicate the stitch).  This can be tough in seed stitch since there are both knit and purl stitches. 

The duplicate stitch method is used in the center of the swatch.  If the fabric will be reversible, use this method.  It is less noticeable.  By the way, unless you are doing intarsia, avoid mid-row joins.  When you are nearing the end of a skein, don't continue using it until you only have six inches left.  Start the new skein at the beginning of a row.  The red yarn shows an alternate way of weaving in yarn tails for seed stitch.  You can weave the yarn in vertically through two columns of purl bumps.  Don't run the yarn up one column of stitches.  The tail is less likely to pull free if you use two columns.  Also if the fabric is stretched lengthwise, it won't cause a pucker.  I always "anchor" the tail by working one duplicate stitch at the end.  This method is more visible on the WS of the work and therefore should only be used when there is definitely a RS and WS.  The video shows both techniques.  If the seed stitch is very loose (lots of holes between stitches) the vertical method is not ideal.  The duplicate stitch method should be used.

I check the paper this morning to see what time UK plays on Saturday.  It is TBA so I went ahead and scheduled the salon for Saturday.  If the game is on, I will have the game on (sound off).  Saturday is a busy day.  In addition to the NCAA tournament, the St. Patrick's Day parade is Saturday afternoon and the Sweet Sixteen Tournament (KY high schools) finishes up. 

I finished up all of the birthday projects.  

Babel's Socks

When I finish up the Cast On projects, I'm sending this pattern off to Miss Babs.  The socks are fun to knit but there are quite a few ends to weave in!

I really like Lorna's Lace Solemate.  It is wonderful to work with.  I used the arrowhead lace pattern for the socks.  It is a very stretchy pattern. 

I spent ALL DAY (and I mean ALL DAY) Sunday working on the charts for the stranded sweater for the August-October issue.  In the past I would have done just enough of the charts to get started with the knitting.  For this sweater I did all of the charts for every size.  I used Stitch Painter to plot out all of the designs for the entire piece and then did the individual charts for the various borders using Knit Visualizer.  It took all day.  The sweater is worked in one piece to the armholes.  I prefer to work Fair Isle flat.  I know I am in the minority.  I work Fair Isle using both hands and I don't mind purling.  My stranded tension is very good and I think that is this largely due to looking at the stranded side every other row.

This is the bottom border.  In all of the sweaters in this series, I include a nod to the next season.  The summer sweater (to be done next year) is inspired by the night sky in the Uinta mountains where my husband fly fishes.  The border is stars with two fish at the center.  (There is a folded hem.)  Now I am working on the floral design.  There are four shades of pink.  The darkest shade will be used only in the borders.  The other three shades will alternate in the floral pattern.

I will post more photos next week.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I was in NYC this week and besides going to the Met, I stopped by the Lion Brand Yarn Studio (  It is a lovely place.  I am thinking of doing a design with Wool Stainless Steel (75% Wool, 25% Stainless Steel) and I wanted to check out the colors.  It is part of their LB Collection which uses premium fibers.  You can only get it on-line or at the studio.  Lion Brand and the Blumenthal family has been incredibly generous to TKGA and CGOA over the years.  They provide items for the goody bags at the conferences.  I can't recommend their acrylic yarns for use in the Basics course or the Masters program since wool is a better choice.  Several craft store yarns work fine, however.  Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool and Patons' Classic Wool are fine for swatches.

I saw Don Giovanni at the Met.  It is always nice to see the notorious womanizer dragged down to hell amidst 20 foot high flames.

It was a quiet week.  I only had a few lessons to review which worked out well since I was out of town.  Susan from Hawaii finished Lesson 3.  She just began in February.  The length of time it takes to complete the course depends completely upon the student.  Some take years; others take months. 

As promised, the tip for this week is about using Bar Increases in stockinette stitch.  Generally speaking, when do you use increases?  Most of the time you are increasing after ribbing for the body of a sweater or for sleeves.  If you are knitting a top down sweater, you may use them to shape the neckline.  Since Bar Increases are often the first increase knitters learn, it is important that you learn where to place it in stockinette. 

Since this increase produces a bar  (purl bump) to the left of the stitch, it requires some thought.  The eye expects symmetry.  The sides should be mirror images.  If the increases are not symmetrically placed, it can be distracting.  To symmetrically place bar increases, there should be the same number of stitches before the increases on the right and after the increases on the left.  (Increases should not be worked in the selvedge stitches...more about that later).  The right side is easy.  If you want two stitches before the increase, you work the bar increase in the second stitch.  Remember, the bar will always be to the left of the knit stitch so it is a bit trickier on the left.  If you make the increase in the second stitch from the end, the bar will be after the knit stitch so there will only be one complete stitch after the increase.  In the example above, the increase was worked in the third stitch from the end. 

The increases on the left are asymmetrical.  Compare the left to the right.  How important is this?  Well, if you increasing for a sleeve, it doesn't matter as much.  (Someone who looks at the seam and underarm of the sleeve and points out that the increases are asymmetrical really needs to get a life...except for Masters candidates.)  If the increases are on a neckline, it is important or the neckline will look sloppy.  M1 or Lifted increases are a better choice for increases in stockinette as they blend in with the fabric.  If you want the increases to be decorative, they will definitely stand out.
Unless a pattern specifies it, NEVER EVER place increases in the first and last stitches.  Since most patterns don't tell you where to place the increases, this is a very common mistake.  First, it is ugly.  Second, it makes finishing much more difficult.  For any project which will be seamed or have stitches picked up along the edge, it is important that there is a seam allowance of one stitch.  Be sure to keep at least one stitch at the selvedge.  Compare this photo to the first one and consider where you would place a seam.  Seaming the top swatch would be much easier.

Salon this week will be on Saturday.  The SEC basketball tournament is going on but I don't think UK plays during the day.  I know they play today.  This is a fun (or terrible) time to be in Lexington depending on how the team is doing.  People around here could use some cheering up.  Last week we had tornadoes, 5 inches of snow, and flash floods.  Thanks to all who asked about the tornadoes.  Lexington was spared although I did have to round up the cats and spend some time in the basement when the sirens went off.  Two days later I was shoveling snow!

Miracles Do Happen
You rarely see George and Petipa in the same location.  George is very territorial and Petipa just thinks George is a jerk.  I don't know what was going on this day.  Maybe they were too tired to move.  I'm glad I had my camera.

I didn't knit much this week since I was out of town.  I did manage to finish the wave socks except for weaving in the ends.  They are blocking right now. 

Waves Socks for Babel
I am not looking forward to weaving in the yarn tails!  I reversed out the colors for the socks but you don't really notice it unless you look at the toe, heel or cuffs.

On the plane I started my FINAL birthday present.  I really have to finish them up and get started on the sweater for Cast On.  Cynthia wanted pink, loose socks.  This pattern is very stretchy and should work fine.  It is the same stitch pattern I used for Harriet's socks.  The yarn is Solemate and the color is Lincoln Park Zoo.

I really have to finish them up and get started on the sweater for Cast On.  The design selection meeting for the Fall issue is next Monday, March 12th.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Stitches was tons of fun, as usual. I did get to spend some time visiting vendors but I spent most of my time at the TKGA/CGOA booth with Penny Sitler, the Executive Director of TKGA. Suzanne Bryan, Binka Schwan and Celia McAdams, members of the Master Hand Knitting Committee were at Stitches and spent some time at the booth as well.  All are wearing sweaters they have knit and are holding purchases. We aren't able to get together all that often.  Stitches is a great opportunity.

The other thing I did was to spent time with Elff and Sandy at RedFish Dyeworks selecting the yarn for my next stranded sweater.  The photo taken before the show opened (as poor as it is) can give you an idea of why I like their yarn so much.  The colors are absolutely wonderful.  I couldn't resist their new sock yarn (bottom shelf).  I am very excited to start work on the new sweater.  I also visited Miss Babs' booth which was always packed.  She was nice enough to give me three skeins of yarn as door prices for my students at the Grand Retreat.  I picked up some sock yarn for myself as well.  The Market at Stitches was very busy.  I think the vendors were pleased.

Lots of knitters working on the Masters Program stopped by.  Some brought swatches for review.  Many will be attending the TKGA conference in Reno this year.  I was able to spend some time with Angela from AK and Marcia from CA who are working on the Basics course.  Angela showed me some stranded gloves she is designing.  They were absolutely beautiful.  One of the things I love about the conferences is the chance to put a face to the name (or email address or Ravelry avatar).  Another treat is seeing the yarn they have purchased!  I live vicariously.  I swore I wouldn't buy any yarn but you know how that goes.


I've noticed in several of the lessons I've reviewed lately that there has been some confusion about placing bar increases in ribbing.  Generally the bar increase is the first one new knitters learn as it is the easiest method.  To make this increase, you knit the stitch but before removing it you knit into the back of the stitch as well.  This creates a bar immediately to the left of the stitch.  The goal in placing increases is that they are unobtrusive.   They will never be completely invisible but that is the goal.  When do you use increases?  Many patterns call for increases to evenly space increases in the last row of ribbing.   

Unless the body of the sweater is cabled, don't over think the "evenly spaced" concept. For most projects, as long as the increases aren't bunched up, you should be fine.   Also, never place an increase in the first or last stitch.  This makes seaming more difficult.  The most  important consideration is that the increases blend in with the stitch pattern.  This is why bar increases are the best choice for ribbing. Properly placing a bar increase in K1P1 ribbing is a no brainer. If you work it in a knit stitch, the bar will blend in with the purl stitches. Since the purl stitches hide behind the knit stitches in well-worked ribbing, the increase will be unobtrusive.   The problem is placing a bar increase in K2P2 ribbing.  It is important to maintain the K2P2 pattern.  If you work the increase in the first knit stitch, the resulting purl bump is between the two knit stitches.  Remember, the bar will always be to the left of the knit stitch.  This is important if you plan to use the bar increase anywhere else in a project.  Next week's tip will discuss bar increases in stockinette.  Bar Increases in Ribbing Video
Salon this week will be on Saturday.  The basketball team plays the last game of the regular season on Sunday afternoon.  It isn't long before March Madness (and I do mean Madness) begins. 


Snow Boarding Hats for the Michael Boys--FINISHED

These hats will be leaving for Oregon next Tuesday.  I have proposed to do the patterns for the Fall 2012 issue of Cast On.  The selection meeting for designs is March 12.  The deadline for proposals was yesterday.  Mine got there at the last minute, as usual.

Jan's Socks--FINISHED
I was working on these socks during Stitches and had an unpleasant day thinking I'd lost one of the socks.  I looked everywhere and even found some yarn the same color to reknit them.  Luckily, the housekeeper at the hotel found it.  The pattern is one I wrote for TKGA a few years ago as a new member gift.

Harriet's Socks--FINISHED except for yarn tails

The yarn is Lorna's Laces Solemate which I love and the stitch pattern is a variant of arrowhead lace I used for some knee highs several years ago.

Babel's Socks--IN PROGRESS

These are for Jan's daughter who goes to Tulane.  The colors are supposed to be Tulane's colors.  I know they aren't a perfect match.  Tulane's mascot is a wave.  These waves are more Aegean than Gulf, however.  The yarn is Yummy from Miss Babs.  I spent two days charting these stupid waves.  I wanted mirror images and you wouldn't think that it would be all that hard.  It was.  The colors will be reversed on the second sock.  I think I'll ask Babs if she wants the pattern.  If she does, I'll write it up.