Friday, November 30, 2012

I can't deny any longer that the holidays are getting close.  Yesterday I went through my stash with my list.  Word of advise...don't give someone a hand knitted present unless you are prepared to do so forever.  I wish I were better at organizing my time.  I plan to use stash yarn as much as possible.

I spent some time on my proposals for the summer issue of Cast On.  The selection meeting is next week.

TKGA has been updating their website and I did not get any new orders during that process.  It is up and running now and is quite nice.  Take a look.  New website  There is a photo of me on the home page.  I think it is the Argyle class from the Reno Knit and Crochet Show.  I hate having my photo taking but I try to be a good sport. 

I didn't get many lessons to review during the holidays.  Things really slow down this time of year as everyone seems to think they will knit Christmas presents.

The tip for this week is how to seam stockinette stitch.  Since I did how to seam garter stitch a few weeks ago, I thought I should probably add the mattress stitch. 

Seaming stockinette stitch is the most satisfying of all seams.  When done properly, it is completely invisible.  What makes a good seam?  The rows on either side of the seam must line up.  Before you begin, identify where you will place the seam.  You will use the horizontal bars between the selvedge edge and the first column of stitches.  This is one reason to block the pieces first and to flatten the selvedge stitches.  It make it much easier to see where to place the seam.  If you are having trouble seeing this, consider marking the first column of stitches with waste yarn so you don't get off.

Begin with the "Figure 8" which I discussed in the entry for October 26th.  One the Figure 8 is complete you insert your needle into the piece on the left in the same hole between the horizontal bars where the yarn came out.  You bring your needle under the horizontal bar and then bring it up into the hole on the other side of the bar.  You repeat this process on the right side, always inserting the needle into the same hole where the yarn came out.


Some sources tell you that you can go under two horizontal bars on each side. Yes, this does work and it might be quicker but it is much easier to get off so that the rows don't align properly. When I was reviewing submissions for Level 2 of the Masters Program, I noted that this was a very common problem. Going under each horizontal bar may take more time but it will give you a better looking seam.

The photo shows the completed seam.  Notice that two column of stitches line up exactly.  This swatch also demonstrates why tension is important.  Many knitters have tension issues at the selvedges.  When the pieces are seamed, the stitches on one side differ in size which detracts from the appearance.  The stitch in this swatch have nice tension.

Another way you can seam stockinette is to use the horizontal bars IN the selvedge stitch.  When you do this, half of a stitch is on either side of the seam.  There are many problems with this.  Since selvedge stitches are often ugly and misshapen, it is better hidden in a seam.  The swatch in this photo doesn't demonstrate this as the tension is fairly even.  I have seen some really ugly seams in my time.  When might you want to do this?  If you are working with a very heavy yarn, this will make the seam less bulky.   

We started a new regular feature in Cast On in the August-October 2012 issue called Finishing with Confidence.  The articles goes into more detail.  Here is the video:  Seaming Video

Salon will be on Sunday from 2-5pm.  The Met Simulcast of La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart is on Saturday.  There is an opera for the next three weeks.  Ashland (the Henry Clay Home) which is across the street is having their tree lighting at 5pm.  I'll probably walk over after Salon.

I FINALLY finished the cat scarf.  Double knitting is fun but very time consuming.   It didn't help that I undid the thing four or five times.  I couldn't decide on a width.   When I got to the center I reversed out the chart so that the cats are looking at you.  Suzanne's instructions in the May-June 2012 issue of Cast On were invaluable.  If I ever do double knitting again, I'll use heavier yarn.  This was sock yarn and size 2.5 needles. 

Now that I've finished this project, I am beginning my holiday knitting.  Most everyone is getting fingerless mitts.  I plan to use the Happy Sparkle Day pattern.  The great thing about them is that since they are ribbed, I don't need to make many modifications to the pattern since the ribbing stretches and contracts.  I am using some cashmere-silk yarn I have had around for years for the first pair.   I love this yarn.  It isn't made anymore.  I bought a ton when Patternworks discontinued it.  It is the softest yarn and unlike most cashmere-silk blends it doesn't pill.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I won't be doing a blog entry next week but I should have time the next week.

I went up to Granville on Monday for the photo shoot on Tuesday.  It went very well but I forgot to take photos.  The Fashion Framework article is on skirts.  There were several designs for babies and children and we had three adorable models.  It should be a fun issue.
The proposals for the Knit and Crochet shows were due this week.  As always I put things off until the last minute.  I have proposed doing a two-day finishing class.  Students could take both day or just one.  I love teaching finishing and I haven't met a knitter who hasn't benefited from a finishing class.  I am going to make some changes to the handout and add a few things.  Pretty much everything required in Level 2 of the Masters Program will be covered.  The students will have a complete finishing reference work if they take both days.  (Of course, this is dependent on it being accepted!)  I also proposed doing my Intarsia class and an increase/decrease class.  If they are accepted, I am requiring that the students get a yarn kit from me.  I am tired of students bringing in yarn that makes it very hard for them to focus on the techniques.  Black mohair!
This is the first week since I have been teaching the Basics class that I can remember not getting any new students.  I did get a few lessons to review, all of which were excellent.  I know I am preoccupied with my holiday knitting so I imagine everyone else is as well. 
My topic this week addresses something I saw on the TKGA forum in Ravelry as well as a few questions from my students. 
In the Masters Program and for the Basics Basics Basics class, students are to use worsted weight yarn and "appropriate sized" needles.  We don't suggest a needle size.  We leave it up the knitter to determine which size would be the best.  When you work with a pattern, you have to use a needle size that will give you the suggested gauge but for the swatches you have to do this work on your own.  This photo shows three swatches knit with the same yarn but using 3 different needle sizes. 
When you are determining what size needle to use, the main consideration is the fabric drape.  For swatches in the Masters Program or Basics class, the fabric should not be so stiff that it can stand on its own.  Nor should be so loose that the fabric is lacey.  The place to start is with the needle size recommended on the yarn's label.   I'm not sure how yarn companies determine this number.  Do they base it on one knitter's sample or do they average several knitters' samples.  The thing to remember is that chances are, it won't be what you get, most likely.
If you are a new knitter and you think you want to continue knitting, invest in a set of interchangeable needles.  Or, you can find another knitter who has a lot of needles.  You should have a range of needles to determine the "appropriate" size.  Knit small swatches to test the drape.  Pick the one with the best drape and then do your gauge swatch.
For worsted weight yarn, the Craft Yarn Council of America states that the recommended gauge (for stockinette) is 16-20 stitches for 4".  This is what is expected for the swatches in the Masters Program. 
This swatch was knit using Size 4 needles and the gauge is 7 stitches per inch.  This gauge does not work for swatches where you are demonstrating techniques.  Perhaps if you are knitting a jacket or a pillow where you want a denser fabric, it would be "appropriate."  Using smaller needles can disguise tension issues but this isn't a solution to a tension issue.  If you plan to use published patterns you will have to use larger needles for worsted weight yarn.
This photo shows a swatch knit with appropriate sized needles.  The yarn label recommends Size 9 needles and a gauge of 4 stitches per inch.  I prefer a slightly tighter gauge so I used Size 7 to get 5 stitches per inch.  This is within the recommended range so I could use this size needle for swatches. 
For this swatch I used Size 10.5 needles.  The gauge for  4" is 14.545 which rounds to 15 stitches.  This is just a bit too large for the recommended gauge.  I was surprised this swatch looks as good as it does.  It is difficult to maintain even tension when you are using needles too large.
I did a short video for these swatches which you may want to look at.  Photographs really don't let you see the drape.  Choosing Needles Video
I can't have the salon on Saturday as I will be spending the day at the district auditions for the Metropolitan Opera National Council.  There will be 24 singers auditioning.  It is a wonderful event (and free).  It will last all day.  I will be going to the Louisville airport on Sunday for the first of my Thanksgiving pick ups but I should be back by 3:30 for a short salon.
I spent a lot of this week in the car driving up to Ohio but I did finish Jan's socks.  I also did another UK baby hat.  (I made the mistake of showing one of the finished ones to a friend who just had her first grandson.)  It looks just like the others so I didn't take a photo. 
Here are Jan's socks.  I haven't knit a pair of Wasp Wings in a long time.  I love this pattern.  Jan likes neutral colors.  This is yarn I got at the Manchester meeting from TuckerWood yarns.  It was lovely to work with. 

I've started my first double knit project.  Double knitting was not a requirement of the Masters Program when I did it.  I used Suzanne Bryan's wonderful article in Cast On May-June 2012 to teach me the basics.  I am happy to report that the article did the job.  I am doing a reversible scarf in black and white with a cat head design for a friend of mine who lost her 18 year old black cat this year and now has a new white kitten.  I am having so much fun.  The photograph shows the scarf before I ripped it out.  It was a little too wide and I wasn't happy with the tension.  (I figured out how to correct that problem and I had told Suzanne I wouldn't let it bother me but I was wrong.)  I'll take photos when I finish.  I won't be surprised if I do a couple of other double knit projects. 


Friday, November 9, 2012

I'm sure everyone is as glad as I am that the elections are over.  Between the pollsters and campaign workers, it seemed my phone rang every ten minutes...a drawback of working at home!

I received only three lessons to review this week.  Two were Lesson 3 so the knitters are now ready to do the Masters Program (not that they weren't ready before!).  It makes me very happy when my students persevere and finish up the course.  There are always fewer lessons at this time of year.  So many of us are starting our holiday knitting, including me!

This week's tip is a special request.  (Yes, I take requests.)  Last week I did the numbered diagram of how to weave in a yarn tail in reverse stockinette stitch and the request was for garter stitch.  I did discuss this in an earlier blog but I am happy to do it again with different photographs and videos.  (I've put a link to both videos later.)

True duplicate stitch does not work all that well with garter stitch.  In the post of April 20, 2012 I discuss this and have reproduced the photo here.  When you use true duplicate stitch (following the path of ONE row, it may show through in garter stitch.  It is better to use the "smiles" and "frowns" of TWO ridges. This keeps the tail on the WS of the work.  This photo shows the path of the yarn using two ridges. 

This photo shows the ridges and a numbered path of the yarn.  In the Basics class, there is one garter stitch swatch in Lesson 3.  In Level 1 of the Masters Program there is also one garter stitch swatch.

The video for this week also includes a demonstration of how to seam garter stitch.  Starting in the Fall 2012, there is now a series called "Finishing with Confidence."  The article for the Spring 2013 issue covers seams in reverse stockinette and in garter stitch.  I decided to include this in this tip. 

As for weaving in tails, you need to be able to identify the "smiles" and "frowns".  A properly worked seam is one where the stitch pattern continues over the seam.  In garter stitch and reverse stockinette, smiles and frowns interlock to form the stitches so for the stitch pattern to continue over the seam you must also interlock smiles and frowns. 

When you seam garter stitch, you seam the RIDGES together, not the rows.  (Remember a ridge is made up of two rows.)  You seam the "smile" on one piece to the "frown" on the other.  If you remember from other tips, the stitch is the frown, the smile is the space between stitches.  This means that on one piece you are using the frown between the selvedge stitch and the stitch next to it.  On the other side, you have a choice.  You can use the frown in the selvedge stitch (as in this photograph) or you can use the frown in the stitch next to the selvedge stitch.  For garter stitch, I recommend using the selvedge stitch as garter stitch is bulky as it is.  When the seaming thread is pulled, the stitches line up.  It will never be as invisible as mattress stitch in stockinette stitch.

Here is the link to this week's video:  Garter Stitch.  Here is the link to the earlier entry:  04/20/12.

By the way, I never planned to do tips on finishing but if there is interest in this, I can add that to the topics.  Drop me a comment if there is something in particular you'd like to see.

Salon this week will be on Sunday.  The Met is doing a new production this weekend for the simulcast--The Tempest which I've not seen.  I am looking forward to it.  The previews were pretty spectacular. 

I've been trying to catch up on gifts.  I did get a photograph of the Happy Sparkle Day mitts. 

I think I mentioned last week that the yarn was donated by Lion Brand for the goody bags at the Reno Knit and Crochet show.  I very rarely work with acrylic fibers and as someone who is obsessed by tension, I found these frustrating to work on but I think they turned out OK.  I am writing up the pattern for Stephanie.  If anyone else who went to Reno and has the yarn would like the pattern, let me know and I'll send it off.  I am thinking of making some in more natural fibers for my daughters.

I had enough yarn to do a matching hat.  I find this photograph so funny.  Normally I block my hats on balloons but there is absolutely NO POINT in blocking acrylics.  This hat would look much better on an actual head.  I don't think anyone has a head this round!

Anyone who has ever designed a hat with K2P2 ribbing knows the difficult part is shaping the crown.  I have seen some very ugly hats at the crown which should only be worn by very tall people.  I came up with a solution for this hat.  The properties of the yarn are not ideal but this photo shows the basics construction. 

If I were to knit this hat again (which I think I will do) I would make it longer so the bottom could fold up.  I wasn't sure I had enough yarn.  As it turned out, one skein was plenty.  I am writing up this pattern as well.

My husband has a colleague who just adopted a baby.  They are fanatical UK fans.  I used the pattern for the Dread hats which are in the current issue of Cast On (just got my copy yesterday). My husband requested pom poms instead of dreads...much easier and quicker.

I did one for now, one for later.  The only yarn I could find in the right color of blue was Cascade Pima Cotton.  I really don't like working in cotton at all.

I also finished up a pair of socks for a birthday present.  Don't be fooled by this photograph.  The yarn is black. 

I used a stitch pattern from one of the Japanese stitch dictionaries.  I like how they turned out.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

You'll notice I am doing my post a day early.  I have too much scheduled tomorrow. 

I survived Halloween.  The photo above is of my front porch last night.  I generally put the luminaries along the curved sidewalk to the house but it was raining, not that I am complaining at all.  We had it so much easier than those on the eastern seaboard.  I did feel sorry for the trick or treats but it looked like they had fun anyway.  When my children were small I used small pumpkins as luminaries.  I used a power drill to put lots of holes in them.  I'd carve 20 or so.  These luminaries took a fraction of the time and can be used again. 

I got a few orders for courses and several lessons to review.  I appreciated the time.  I spent the week writing at the computer.  I had a couple of articles to finish up and all of the samples for those articles to knit.  Not much fun.  I also am finishing up Lesson 2 of the Gauge class.  I finished up today.  It covers gauge swatches for lace and circular knitting plus using gauge to adapt patterns. 

I finished up the Finishing Class I taught at home.  It was a lot of fun.  I hope that the students thought so also.  Thanks to Stephanie for the delicious cookies and to Mary and Elisha for the Garretts popcorn!

One of the things I have learned as a teacher is that everyone learns in a different way.  It is the job of a teacher to figure out methods that help students with different learning styles.  What is easy for one student may be difficult for another.  This is particularly true for the duplicate stitch method of weaving in yarn tails where stockinette is the RS.  This past week I had several students have difficulty with this.  I spent some time trying to think of alternate ways to explain this.  Let me know if this helps. 

This photo shows the stitch anatomy of reverse stockinette.  The stitch itself looks like a frown.  (On the stockinette side, this is the top of the "V". ) The spaces on either side of the stitch look like smiles.  (On the stockinette side, these are horizontal bars between the "V"s.   Notice how the stitch interlocks with the smiles and then into the frown of the stitch in the row below. 

What I have tried to do is to label the stitches with arrows and numbers to show the path you follow when using this method to weave in a yarn tail.  This isn't as cryptic as it first looks.  Start on the right side.  You would insert the needle under the frown labeled "1" and follow the direction of the arrow to insert the needle under the smile labeled "2".  You then follow the direction of the arrow and insert the needle into the smile labeled "3" and then back into the frown labeled "4".  This is the same frown you inserted the needle for "1".  The first stitch has been duplicated.  To go to the next stitch, follow the direction of the arrow to insert your needle into the frown labeled "5"....and so on.  The video demonstrates this technique in much more detail.  Stitch Anatomy video

For decorative duplicate stitch you go completely under the stitches but to hide yarn tail you don't want to do this.  Slightly split the smiles and frowns as you insert the needle and this will keep the tail on the back of the work.

I used a different colorway for these socks.  The colorway in the original would require you to buy two packs of the yarn to make one pair of socks.  True, you could use the yarns for mittens or some such thing but I thought it was only fair to come up with a colorway that uses one pack of yarn.  I like this one as well.  I am actually going to keep this pair after the photo shoot as it was my idea to do them.  I liked this pattern so much I've decided to use it for some Redfish yarn I bought years ago.  Who knows when I'll get around to that pattern!

Now I have started on personal projects.  I've got birthday presents to do, a couple of baby gifts, Christmas and the project I am doing now for a friend.  I am calling them "National Sparkle Day" mitts.  There is a very funny story behind the mitts but it isn't my story to tell and I don't want to get anyone in trouble.  The alternate name is "Happy Sparkle Day" mitts.  That story I can tell.  A friend of mine has a friend who lives in Japan.  My friend used the computer to translate something on her friend's facebook page.  You got it, the translation was "Happy Sparkle Day."  Lion Brand included some Vanna's Glamour yarn in the goody bags at the TKGA conference in Reno.  I managed to snag extra from committee members.  I'll post photos of the mitts next week.