Friday, April 27, 2012

The big news for me this week is that I will be taking over the Swatch to Sweater correspondence course.  This course was developed in 2009 but the instructor can no longer continue.  I am quite excited.  I will be guiding the student through the process of designing a sweater.  I am making some changes to the course to give the student some choices during the design process and I am rewriting the handout to make it more of a lasting reference guide.  Students may sign up starting May 1st.

I didn't get a single lesson to review this week which turned out to be a good thing.  I spent the first part of the week in Las Vegas at a family reunion.  I also was celebrating finishing the Decoration Day sweater and the handout for the finishing class.  Actually I was honing my gambling skills in preparation for the conference in Reno.  I'm glad to report I did pretty well.  Hope I have the same luck in September!

Keep those lessons coming!  If you are finding something that has got you stumped, please let me know.  No silent suffering!

After reviewing several lessons I've noticed that many are having difficulty with the duplicate stitch method in stockinette stitch.  Although I did several videos a couple of years ago, I decided to redo them.  Sometimes a light bulb goes off and I think of a better way to explain something.  (For example, I was 40 when I finally figured out a way to make my first name easier to pronounce..."Just like Brenda but with an A instead of a B.)

The biggest problem people seem to have with this technique is identifying the path of the yarn.  The duplicate stitch should follow the stitches on one row.  This is easy to see for reverse stockinette where the WS is stockinette stitch but it can be difficult to see where stockinette stitch is the RS and reverse stockinette is the WS.  What I decided to do is to knit a swatch with much larger needles than you would generally use (I used Size 11) and work one row in a different color.  You can clearly see the path of the yarn. 

The orange yarn shows you the path of the yarn you need to "duplicate."  What I have learned over the years is that if you run your tapestry needle completely under the stitches in the rows above and below, it can be visible on the RS.  What you want to do is slightly split those stitches to keep the tails on the WS.   You want to weave in enough of the tail so that it cannot pull free.  Trim the tail close to the stitch.  I have not trimmed the tails in the photographs which follow to make the location for the weaving in easier to see.

The photograph shows the CO and BO yarn tails as well as a mid-row join.  When you have finished weaving in the yarn tails, don't cut the tails until you look at the RS.  Stretch the piece horizontally.  The tails should not be visible and they should stretch the same as the surrounding stitches.  If you can see them, redo them.  The photograph which follows shows the swatch stretched.

The weaving in is not visible.  Also notice at the mid row join, the white and the orange stitches are the same size.  This video Weaving in Yarn Tails in St St shows how to accomplish this. 

In the Masters Program, one of the swatches in Level 1 tests this skill but yarn tails should be woven in correctly in all of the swatches in all of the levels.   Weaving in yarn tails is never much fun but it is one of those details that can make a garment look homemade rather than hand made. 

I had several requests to have the salon on Sunday so it will be on April 29th from 2-5pm. 

I finally finished the Decoration Day sweater.  As with any stranded sweater, there were lots of ends to weave in and the front and bottom bands had to be hemmed NEATLY.  That took several days.  I am very happy with how it turned out and I know my mother would be thrilled.  On my walk today I passed a house that had black irises and pink peonies in their yard and I am happy to say, Elf at Redfish got the colors dead on.  I am more proud of the fact that I did the pattern as soon as I finished the sweater.  So far, I have kept my New Year's Resolution.

I still have one more sweater for the Fall issue of Cast On to do.  I only have a few inches left to do on the back. 

I love this stitch pattern.  The top of the cables are wrapped. 

I'm hoping to finish up the back and get a good start on the front this week.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I had a busy week at the computer.  I finally finished the handout for the Finishing Class I am teaching at the Grand Retreat.  If I do say so myself, it is one of my best.  It is very complete and has lots of photographs illustrating the techniques.  That was what took so much time.  I think the attendees will be pleased. 

Someone suggested I add tags to my postings.  I am so new to all of this I wasn't even aware that I could do that.  Jan very nicely has added them to my past posts and I will do this from now on.  Also, when I get back from the Grand Retreat, I will add a page as an index to the tips.  Please feel free to give me suggestions.  I would like this blog to be as useful as possible!

I had lots of lessons to review this week. I am glad to see that students are completing the course. I really enjoy teaching correspondence courses.  I had one student (Elissha) who completed two lessons in one week.  Not to put pressure on the rest of you!  I should mention that Elissha lives in neighborhood! 

You can thank Abigail on Ravelry for the topic.  By the way, if there is a topic you are interested in, let me know, either through Ravelry or send me a comment.  I can't make promises but I'm pretty flexible about the topics. 

You have a choice with how to weave in ends in Garter Stitch.  You can use true duplicate stitch or duplicate stitch into the ridges.  Garter stitch, when worked on needles appropriate to the weight of the yarn you are using, should be a dense fabric.  The ridges should be close together.  This makes true duplicate stitch difficult.  In duplicate stitch you follow the path of the yarn on one row.  It is hard to see the bottom of the stitch.  Weaving into the ridges is much easier.  Which method you use depends on what the piece is going to grow up to be.  If it is a swatch, using the ridges is fine.  If it is for a garment you may want to consider true duplicate stitch.  Garter stitch is heavy and in a coat for example, it might stretch quite a bit.  The ridge method does not allow for stretch quite as much. 

For the photographs I did for the Finishing Class, I worked the swatches on Size 11 (!!!) needles so the stitches are more visible.  I did the same for this tip.  The following photograph DOES NOT REPRESENT good tension for Garter Stitch!

It is a little easier to see the true duplicate stitch in this photograph.  If you use this method, you should slightly split the stitches, particularly on the bottom or it will show through on the RS.  If you use the ridges, it is invisible on the front. 

The video shows both methods:  Weaving in Tails Video

Salon will be on Saturday.  The operas are over for the season.  They rebroadcasting the Ring in May.  I plan to see them again.  I'll miss Rheingold since I will be in Mackinac but I should be able to see the rest.

I have finished all the knitting for the Decoration Day sweater.  I thought the front band would kill me.  I didn't think I would ever finish it.  Blocking it was tricky.  I could only do one side at a time.

The  band folds over.  It is 10 inches wide. Not surprising that it took so long to knit.  I've finished hemming the front and bottom bands.  I have one sleeve almost half way seamed in place.  I took a photo anyway.   When the sleeves are in place I just have to weave in the ends.  I might do a final blocking...We shall see.  I notice in the photos which followed that I didn't put it on the mannequin so that it was lined up on the front.  Trust me, it is perfectly even.

Notice the bottom edge.  You think I would have noticed!

Here's the back.  I followed my own advice.  I always tell knitters to do the gauge swatch for their next project before they complete finish their current project.  I did the gauge swatch for the Vlad Pullover.  I am so lucky that the photo shoot for the Fall issue isn't until May 16th.  I have time to get this sweater done.  After this one (on Size 0 needles and a stitch gauge of 11 stitches for 1", it will be a breeze...Size 5 needles!

Friday, April 13, 2012

I have spent the week chained to the computer.  I am about halfway done with the handout for the finishing course.  It is shaping up quite nicely.  It has tons of photographs in it which will make it much more useful to the attendees but a pain to write.  Registration is now closed.  I'm asking the students to bring a binder and page protectors.  They will have a very complete reference guide to take home.  I decided to knit the swatches for the examples with size 11 needles so that the stitches are very visible.  I think this is very brave of me as it is REALLY hard to knit with decent tension on needles that size. 

I had lots of lessons to review this week which is great.  Keep them coming!  For those of you working on Lesson 3 and who want to do the extra credit, I can send you the pattern template we use for the Masters Program.  It is much easier to write a pattern when you have a specific format to follow.   Just let me know if you want the template and I can send you the link.

This is the last tip about how to measure and calculate gauge.  Once you have your measurements and stitch/row counts, you can do the final calculations.  I am a math idiot and even I can do this.

Stitch Gauge:  Divide the number of stitches by the width.  Using the Garter stitch example below, 23 stitches divided by the width of 4.125 is 5.575.  This is the number of stitches per inch.  How useful is this number?  Not all that much unless you are designing or adapting a pattern.  If you look at any pattern or at the ball band on a skein of yarn, it gives you the gauge for 4".  This is the "standard" (if anything is "standard" in the world of knitting).  By the way, this is a totally random number.  It could be anything.  So if I want to compare my gauge to the expected gauge for the yarn or the gauge required for a pattern, I need to multiply my gauge per inch (5.575) by 4 to get a more useful figure.  This gives  me 22.303.  Since I can't cast on .303 of a stitch, I round it down to 22.  My stitch gauge over 4 inches is 22.  Now have have something I can work with. 

Row Gauge: I repeat this for the row gauge.  32 rows divided by 2.875 is 11.130.  I multiply this by 4 to get 44.521 and since I can't knit .521 of a row, I round it up to 45.  How important is row gauge?  It depends on the stitch pattern you are working.  If the pattern is stockinette or garter or some pattern where there is no row repeat, you can always knit fewer or more rows to get the length specified in a pattern.  If the stitch pattern has a row repeat, row gauge is much more important.  For many patterns, you just can't stop in the middle of a repeat.  The stitch count might be wrong or it might look really unbalanced.

I've annotated the photographs of the stitch patterns I used for the marking and measuring tips with the final gauge.

Garter Stitch

Stockinette Stitch

Seed Stitch

I uploaded a video of me doing the calculations yesterday.  How exciting is that!  Gauge Video
That is the problem with gauge.  It isn't fun and exciting but it is SO important.  A great many of the knitters taking my Basics class do so because they'd like their projects to fit.  The solution to that problem is an understanding of gauge.  As soon as I finish up the handouts for the finishing course I am going to start working on a correspondence course for gauge.  It will cover (among other topics) how to use gauge to alter patterns and how to use gauge to design garments.

The opera last week was wonderful.  I'd never seen Manon before and I wasn't familiar with the music but the French demi-monde always makes for great costumes and plots.  The final simulcast is this Saturday.  Another demi-monde story...La Traviata.  It was the first live opera I saw and it made quite an impression.  This should be a fantastic production.  Violetta is sung by Natalie Dessay who actually looks like she could be dying of consumption.  So Salon will be on Sunday like last week. 

I am so anxious to finish the Decoration Day jacket.  The sleeves are done and I am working on the front bands.  They are taking FOREVER!  This isn't surprising when I consider that I have over 600 stitches on the needles.  I was dreading figuring out the pattern for the bands.  I knew I wanted a the peony design with the borders from the bottom but I assumed I'd have to do some regraphing at the back of the neck.  I couldn't believe it when after I'd cast on the stitches that I was only 2 stitches off from my 31 stitch repeat.  No regraphing required.  I hope that is the case for the other sizes!  That would be nice. 

The front bands will have a facing but it will be in just one color.  I hope to have it completely finished by mid week.  We shall see. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

I intentionally did not mention the craziness that has been going on here in Lexington for the past few weeks.  I didn't want to jinx it.  I am not a sports fan but it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of UK's basketball championship.  I did try to talk my 80 year old neighbors into dragging their couch out into the street and setting it on fire but no such luck.  We've gone from basketball craziness to horse racing craziness.  Today is the first day of Keeneland's season (the local racetrack) and then it is Derby.  Kentucky is an interesting place to live in the spring. 

I suddenly realized this week that I had not started the handouts for the course in Mackinac yet.  Since I promised to do a very complete handout for the students which will can be used as a finishing reference guide, I thought maybe I should start it.  I'm devoting my mornings to it.  So far it is coming along very well.  I am knitting the samples for the handout with very large needles so you can clearly see the stitches.  I'm debating about including samples of how NOT to do things....Sometimes that can backfire!

Another fairly slow week.  All of the lessons I reviewed this week came on one day.  It it my policy to review lessons the day I get them so that was a busy day. 

This tip is a continuation of last week's tip.  If you haven't looked at it you may want to scroll down and read it first.

Once you have completed your gauge swatch and marked the width and length in the center, you are ready to take the measurements.  Most knitters measure gauge by placing a ruler on a swatch and counting the stitches and rows.  This method does not always provide accurate results.  In the Masters Program we measure gauge in a very specific way. 
  • Measure the width and length within the markers to the closest eighth of an inch.  Write down the measurement converting it to a decimal (1/8 = .125, 1/4 = .25, 3/8 = .375, 1/2 = .5, 5/8 = .625, 3/4 = .75, 7/8= .875). 
  • Count the rows and stitches within the markers and write down these numbers.
Your gauge calculations will only be as accurate as your measurements and your stitch and row counts.  If those numbers are wrong, so will your gauge calculations.  (Next week's tip will be about the calculations.)  By the way, I am a complete MATH IDIOT and if I can do this, ANYONE can.  For years, my gauge calculations involved casting on 10 stitches and working 4 rows and a tape measure which was older than me.  You won't be surprised to find out that I frequently had to rip out 4 inches of knitting and start again.  When I started designing, I starting taking gauge seriously as I didn't have the luxury of redoing things.

The photographs which follow are pretty self-explanatory.  I have provided photographs with the measurements and stitch/row counts.  When you measure, always use a metal or wooden ruler.  They don't stretch out.  Place the swatch on a flat surface.  If it is a slippery fiber, you may want to pin it in place. 

Garter Stitch Width-Stitches

It can be tricky to count garter stitches.  Remember, the "frown" is the stitch, the "smile" is the space between stitches.

Garter Stitch Length-Rows
Garter stitch rows are easy to count.  Each ridge is two rows.  Just count the ridges and multiply by two.  I didn't bother to mark them.

Stockinette Stitch Width/Stitches

Counting stockinette stitches is a bit trickier.  A stitch is a "\/".  The space between the stitches is a
"/\".  I cannot stress how important it is that you recognize the difference, not just for gauge but for finishing.   By the way, I apologize for the strikeouts.  I didn't notice I'd labeled as "Rows" until I'd saved the changes.  I just couldn't face redoing it!

Stockinette Stitch Length/Rows
I've numbered the rows as well.  What I do when I am counting rows is to use a tapestry needle and insert it into the center of each stitch as I count it.

Seed Stitch Width/Stitches
At least I am consistent with my mistakes!  It is easier to count the number of stitches in seed stitch.  The columns are easy to see.
Seed Stitch Length/Rows
It isn't hard to count rows in seed stitch if you mark it carefully.  Place the marker at the lower edge below the knit stitch and place the marker at the top above the purl bump.  Then you can count the purl bumps and as with garter stitch, multiply it by two.

Cable Width/Stitches
Counting stitches in cable patterns can be difficult.  It is much easier to count pattern multiples. 

Cable Length
If counting stitches in cable patterns is difficult, it is almost impossible to count the rows.  It is easier to count the reverse stockinette stitches between the cables.  You can always turn the swatch over and count the stockinette stitches if that is easier.

Cable Stitches on WS
When you are working gauge swatches, you can save yourself time if you carefully note the number of stitches and rows as you work them.  Remember, to subtract selvedge stitches and cast on and bind off rows in your counts.

Next week we will do the gauge calculations.

Salon will be on Sunday (Easter) since Saturday I will be at the theater watching the simulcast of the Met's Manon which I have never seen.  I am looking forward to it.

I haven't bothered to take a photo of the Decoration Day sweater.  I finished the first sleeve and am half way finished with the second.  I hope to finish it up during the weekend and get started on the front bands.  Then on to the cable sweater in Vlad.