Friday, May 25, 2012

Last weekend was the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival.  I think this is the third year.  It seems to grow by leaps and bounds every year.  After telling everyone I know that I had no intention of buying ANY yarn AT ALL, I naturally came home with several bags.  I simply cannot resist Miss Babs' yarns.  Not only are the colors wonderful, the names suck me in.  I am trying to finish up the next round of birthday presents before I have to start on design work for Cast On so I got yarn for those projects.  I didn't forget about myself...I bought yarn named "Moo & Ewe" (80% milk fiber & 20% merino) for a garter stitch stole.  I picked up two skeins of a cashmere/silk yarn for fingerless gloves for my daughters for Christmas. 

The colors in the photo aren't completely true but they are close.  The top yarn is the milk/merino for me.  The color name is Rolling Hills.  I don't know what Babs' inspiration was but it reminds me of Mt. Olympus which was the backdrop of my childhood.  The purple is actually a lot brighter. 

I also bought some yarn from Briar Rose Fibers.  I've been thinking of doing a version of my Medusa's coat for me but I wanted a lighter fiber.  When I saw this, I knew it would be perfect.  It is 50% tencel and 50% merino.  It is very iridescent and very light.

I think my students got together and decided I needed a week off.  I didn't get a single lesson to review.  It made me feel very unloved! 

I heard from TKGA that two of my classes at the meeting in Manchester are sold out.  Registration ends June 11th.  I am looking foward to the meeting. 

This tip is a continuation of the tip from last week.  M1L (left slanting make one increases) are easier to make.  I find that very few of my students have problems with these.  Occasionally, they forget to twist the horizontal strand which results in the open form of this increase but that is it.  As for the M1R, this increase pulls yarn from the stitch to the right on the row before but this is much less noticeable than on the right.  If you look at the photo from last week (the M1L increases aren't labeled), you will have trouble even seeing the small stitches.  As with the M1R increases you can eliminate the smaller stitches by making a yarnover on the previous row. 

I rarely use this increase in actual projects.  I prefer lifted increases as they are less visible but it is a matter of personal preference.  Here is the video: M1L video

Salon will be on Saturday this week from 2-5.  I think we will be able to go back to Saturdays for a few weeks.  I didn't want to conflict with the Preakness last week.  I hope everyone who comes will bring the yarn they got at the fiber festival for a show and tell. 

I finished up the gray socks for me.  I found the stitch pattern in one of the Japanese stitch dictionaries I got at Stitches West.  It looks like a cable pattern from a distance but it is actually lace.  It has a lot of stretch which makes it ideal for socks for those with wider ankles and calves. 

I just noticed I didn't get one of the socks on the form straight.  I reversed the direction of the "cables" on each sock.  It was cold enough last week I could actually wear the socks. 

I've now started on the birthday socks.  As soon as I saw this yarn I thought of a very special friend of mine who hasn't had an easy time of it this spring.  The yarn Miss Babs' Forever (as in Diamonds are...) and it is a pretty good match for Tiffany Blue.  I'm calling the socks Breakfast at Tiffany's but if I decide to write the pattern up I will probably have to rename it as that is probably protected.  How about "Breakfast at a Certain Jewelry Store on Fifth Avenue"?  Anyway, one sock is done and blocked and I hope to finish the second one by tomorrow.  I got this stitch pattern from one of the Japanese books as well.  It was interesting trying to figure out how to keep in pattern when beginning and ending rounds.  Some lace patterns are very tricky when you work them in the round.  I think I did a pretty good job.

I've been having a lot of fun with the Japanese books.  I finally ordered the one I should have bought at Stitches. It is the 1000 stitches.  My only complaint about these books are the yarn they used for some of the swatches.  For anyone who wonders why we require light colored, smooth, non-heathered, non-tweed, non-fuzzy yarns for the Masters Program, take a look at these books.  I know that it was an artistic decision (no doubt by a non-knitter)  but it was a REALLY STUPID one.

This up-coming week I will be working on my proposals for the winter issue of Cast On.  The stitch anatomy lesson will be on Pleats.  Binka and I are doing it together.  Typically we do a pillow for the lesson but I am thinking of doing a pleated baby dress.  A pleated pillow isn't all that exciting.  I'm also thinking of a pleated jacket.  I will be doing the snowboarding hats.  I already have the yarn.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I did take a camera to the retreat on Mackinac Island but I didn't take any photos which was incredibly stupid of me.  Luckily, someone did so if you want to see photos of just how beautiful the Grand Hotel is, check out TKGA's facebook page.

The retreat was absolutely wonderful.  My class went very well.  I had a ton of fun teaching it  and I hope my students had a good time as well.  It looks like the retreat will become an annual event.  Charles Gandy was there with his new book, The Embellished Sock.  The book is beautiful.  Not only are the socks fun, the typography and photographs are exquisite but I would expect no less from Charles. 

The photo shoot for the Fall issue of Cast On was on the 16th.  Again, I forgot to take photos.  The shoot was in Newark, OH, at and around The Works, a lovely little museum.  They had a special exhibit of felted art which we used in some of the shots. 

I came home to lots of lessons.  There was wireless at the Grand Hotel so my new students didn't have to wait for the materials.  I've decided to stop sending a hard copy of the first lesson to new students unless they request it.  This should make my mailman happy!

I am really enjoying the Swatch to Sweater class.  I love seeing the students ideas for designs.  I have three students now at various stages of the process.  I've let the students know that I am willing to help them size their garment if they want to try and get it published. 

After it took pretty much all day to upload the video from two weeks ago, I am going to try and keep the videos under five minutes.  For that reason the tip this week is about right slanting M1 increases (or M1R).  Next week I will do the left slanting.

M1 increases, like all increases, should be mirrored.  That means that there should be the same number of stitches before the increase at the right selvedge and after the increase at the left selvedge and that they are mirror images of each other (slant in opposite directions).   To make an M1 increase, you use the horizontal strand between two stitches.  They can be open or slant to the left or right.  The open form looks like a yarnover and should only be used in a decorative way.  To make a slanted M1, the horizontal strand is twisted. 

Reading the instructions for making slanted M1 increases can be a bit cryptic.  The instructions make much more sense when you see one made.  I checked out a few of my references and they all give different ways to make them.  Basically you lift the horizontal strand onto the needle and twist it.  If the leg on top slants to the right, you have a right slanting one.  Take my advise and watch the video:M1R.  How you make it (whether you use your left or right needle to left the horizontal strand) doesn't really matter.  It is the results.

I am more concerned with how the increases look.  A major problem with this increase is that since the horizontal strand between the stitches on the previous row is used, this pulls the yarn from those stitches.  Since the stitch on the left is still on the needle when the increase is made, it stays about the same size.  The stitch to the right gets very small which causes a tension issue. 

How big a deal is this?  Well, if you are working this increase for the Masters Program, it is a concern.  If you are using this increase at the seam line of a sleeve, it isn't that big of a deal unless you expect people to lift your arm up and inspect the seam.  If you are working a sweater from the top down and you are using this increase along the neckline you should be aware of this problem. When you pick up stitches for the neckband, you will have a column of stitches next to it that vary in size from row to row....not very attractive.

The easiest fix for this problem requires some thinking ahead.  When you are working the row BEFORE the increase row, work a yarnover at the location where you would be pulling up the horizontal strand.  On the increase row, use the yarnover for the M1.  You'll have to reseat it to make the increase but the stitch to the right stays the same size.  In the photograph above you can see the difference this makes.  On the first example, you can see the smaller stitches.  Yes, the hole at the base of the increase is smaller but the stitches to the right look strangled.  In the examples at the top, the hole is more noticeable but the stitches are more uniform in size.  If the holes bother you, use lifted increases instead.  When properly worked, they are more invisible.

Next week...left slanting M1 increases (M1L).

Salon will be on Sunday this week.  I plan on attending the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival on Saturday.  All sorts of vendors will be there and although I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head, I am sure I will be tempted.  Miss Babs and her lovely yarn will be there.  Babs and her able assistant Jen are staying at my house but, alas, their yarn is at the site for the festival.  That is probably a good thing.  The festival is only a few years old but it seems to grow every year.

Last weekend was not a pretty sight here.  I had intended to finish the Vlads pullover during my down time at the retreat.  I didn't factor in how tired I would be after teaching all day.  I doubt I knit 10 rows on the sleeves.  That meant I really had to work hard to finish it before the photo shoot.  I have never missed a deadline and I am happy to report I did finish it in time.  Also, we are starting a new series, Finishing with Confidence, and I had to write the inaugural article.  The plan is to have these articles on the website as well.  I liked the Vlads pullover so much, I decided to keep it.

I love this cable pattern.  The cables are wrapped at the top which I haven't seen in many cable designs.  The featured stitch pattern in the August - October issue is cables. 

I have some time to work on my own projects.  I decided to knit myself a pair of socks before beginning the next round of birthday socks.  Since I wear so much black I decided to use some gray yarn named Luna Granite.  I found a stitch pattern in one of the Japanese books I bought at Stitches West.  It looks like cables but it is not.  I plan on reversing the slant on the second sock.

The deadline for submissions for the Winter issue of Cast On is June 1st.  Instead of a stitch pattern, pleats will be the subject of the Stitch Anatomy lesson.  I've been considering a couple of ideas already.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Since I don't get back from Michigan until very late on Friday I will not be doing a blog entry next week.  I am taking my camera and will try to take some photos. 

I've been putting the final touches on the finishing course.  I remembered I needed to knit the homework to demonstrate techniques as well as have finished samples to pass around.  As with everything, it takes more work than you would think!

Stephanie who is attending the retreat came over took one look at the swatches and commented that she was glad she's not taking my class!  The students don't need this many...I need ones to show the final product. 

I received a few lessons to review this week.  One of the students I inherited for the Swatch to Sweater class sent in her first assignment.  I think I will enjoy teaching this class very much.  The design is very interesting.  I can't wait to see the final sweater. 

The topic for the tip this week is Lifted Increases which can be a bit tricky.  Lifted increases can be worked on either the right or left side of a stitch.  For this reason, they make a nice choice where you want mirrored increases.   An increase (or decrease, for that matter) is "mirrored" when:
  • There are the same number of stitches before (or after) the stitch at the sides
  • It is the same type of increase at both sides
  • The increases on the left and right are the same size
  • The increases on the right slant in one direction and the increases on the left slant in the opposite direction
Where do you use mirrored increases?  The most common use is on sleeves which are knit from the cuff up.  You can also use them to shape necklines on sweaters knit from the top down. 

Lifted increases are generally considered to be the most invisible when they are properly worked.  Unlike M1 increases, they do not leave a hole.

In this example, there are two stitches before the increases on the right and there are two stitches after the increases on the left.  Notice that those column of stitches slant to the right and left and the new stitches slant towards the center.  Several of my students have asked why the right slanting has that name since the increase seems to slant to the left.  The increases get their names from the direction the leg of the stitch used to make the increase slants.  This elongates the leg.

 The right slanting increase is the easiest to work. The left slanting can be tricky.  To make the right slanting increase, work the stitches you want before the increase.  I recommend at least two.  This makes finishing the edge much easier.  Either lift the right leg of the stitch below the stitch on the needle or insert the needle into the purl bump at the back of the stitch on the needle and knit a new stitch.  Then knit the stitch on the needle.   It is very difficult to describe in words how to make these increase.  I suggest watching the video as well. 

The gold pin marks the leg of the stitch you use for the right slanting increase.

The left slanting increase is much more difficult since you use the leg on the left side of the stitch.  The first problem is deciding where to place it.  If you have two stitches before the increase on the right, you need two stitches on the left.  You use the left leg of the stitch.  You can't get to that leg unless the stitch itself is knit first.  That means you have to think about making the increase when there are three stitches on the needle.  Also you can't use the leg of the stitch below the needle for the left side.  You have to go down a row.  Try to use the leg of the stitch immediately below and you will see what I mean.  It just doesn't work.  

The silver pin marks the leg of the stitch you will use for the increase. Until you get the hang of this, you might want to mark it like this. It makes it easier to see when the stitch is knit.

Notice that the legs of the stitches you used are elongated and slant either to the right or left.

Most knitters just are happy they have figured out how to make the increases but if you are doing the Masters Program you have to consider the quality of the increases as well.  What makes a "good" lifted increase.  There should be no holes.  The increases on the left and right should look the same except for the slant.  If the increases on one side are larger, it draws the eye and the pieces is no longer symmetrical.  Whenever you work an increase, try to use just your needle tips and baby it.  Remember, anytime you make a hole bigger, it stays that way.  The other problem with lifted increases is that on the left, the actual stitch knit before the increase sometimes gets distorted.  In the video I give a couple of suggestions for how to fix it.  Lifted Increase Video

The best suggestion I can give you for seeing if the increase "match" is to stand back a few feet and look at it.  Sometimes you just can't see problems when you are looking too closely.

Salon will be on Sunday from 2-5.  For those of you not in Kentucky you may not know that this is Derby Week.  I remember when we first moved here, people were amazed to find out that the rest of the country does not celebrate Derby Week.  I wouldn't dream of scheduling anything other than a Derby party for the first Saturday in May. 

I'm plodding along with the cabled sweater.  The back is finished and the front is blocking. 

It has a square neck which will be finished with a shawl collar.  I am still debating if I will have the pattern include sizes for men as well.  If I have time, I will.  I've got a couple of inches of the sleeves finished.