Friday, January 25, 2013

I spent the early part of the week finishing the Baby Bee Socks for the Summer issue of Cast On.  I generally bring the garments with me but in case there is bad weather I decided to ship everything up to Zanesville before they all leave for TNNA in Long Beach.  I finished up the next article for the Finishing with Confidence series (Seed Stitch).  I am ashamed to admit it, but I have not yet completed Lesson 3 of the Gauge correspondence course and since I have students working on Lesson 2, I have a bit of a deadline.  I have lots of writing to do yet....
I received a few lessons to review.  Things are picking up now that the holidays are over.  I have a couple of new students as well. 
This tip is a follow up to the past two week.  I decided to put a picot cuff on the Baby Bee Socks.  When you have worked from the bottom to the top, as for sock cuffs or for waist bands on skirts, you have to make sure the cuff or waistband is stretchy enough.  If you bind this edge off and then baste it in place, it probably will be too tight (I learned this the hard way on a skirt.)  In the Fashion Framework series which will be in the Spring issue of Cast On, I used a partial grafting technique to close the hem.
In this technique you work the hem with a fold line and when the inside hem is long enough, leave the stitches live on the needle.  Cut the yarn leaving a very long tail and thread it onto a tapestry needle.  Fold the hem over.  To begin,  insert the tapestry needle purlwise into the first stitch on the knitting needle, leaving it on the knitting needle.  *Taking care to line up this stitch with the corresponding stitch on the RS of the work, insert the tapestry needle completely under this stitch.  Pull the yarn tightly.  Insert the needle knitwise into the stitch on knitting needle and drop it from the needle.  Insert the tapestry needle purlwise into the next stitch on the knitting needle, leaving it on the needle.  Repeat from the asterisk.
On the RS, the grafting is visible.  The photograph shows the yarn which surrounds the stitches. 
On the WS, the grafting blends in with the reverse stockinette stitches.
I did do a video for this technique.  Stephanie volunteered as the videographer which makes it easier for adjusting the tripod.  Thanks so much!  Live Stitch Hem
Since there is a basketball game on Saturday, Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30-3:30. 

I broke all speed records to get these socks done.  The stitch pattern seamed to take forever (especially compared to the stockinette dress and peplum blouse!)  Bobbles really take much longer.  These bobbles are really easy but they are still bobbles.  I ran the stitch pattern past Mary (her husband is the king of beekeepers and she gave her approval.)  Here is a close up of the pattern. 
Since the pattern multiple is 5 I couldn't really rib the top so I decided to do a picot hem.  I think they turned out rather cute. 

I am getting a break from Cast On knitting for a few weeks.  I am finishing up presents.  I am doing a baby outfit for a friend's first grandchild.  (You can probably tell it is a granddaughter!)  It is going to be a full skirt and a matching vest.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Best Ice Storm Ever

NOTE:  I apologize to anyone who looked at the blog earlier today.  There were technical issues with the photos!

We had the perfect ice storm earlier this week...just enough to coat the trees.  The roads were fine.  They didn't even close the schools (which is saying something since they close the schools for the threat of a storm.)  This is the view from my front porch.  There is a historic house across the street.

I had a busy week finishing up the dress and the peplum blouse.  I also finished the patterns and the schematics. 
Again, I think my students know when I am going to have a busy week and hold off sending lessons in.  I reviewed just three lessons this week.  
Something came up this week which has happened before.  If you order a course from me and you don't get an email within 2 or 3 days, there is something wrong.  I send out the materials the same day I get the order from TKGA.  Sometimes there is a lag on their side.  If you don't hear from me, either contact me or TKGA.  My policy is to process orders immediately and review lessons the day I get them.  (If I don't, I tend to forget about them!)  The only exception is if I am out of town.  I can still send out the materials for the courses since I take my iPad.
I plan to get started on the Finishing Class next week.  There was a question about the course on Ravelry.  The course covers the same finishing techniques tested in Level 2 of the Masters Program.  I will provide the students with a very thorough reference document for each lesson.  It will have lots of labeled photographs similar to those I post here.  You don't have to be doing the Masters Program to take the Finishing Class--just the desire to know how to finish.  I have been a textiles judge at the Kentucky State Fair and I have noticed that the majority of the knitted articles have not been finished properly.  It really detracts from the appearance of the garment.  You can be the best knitter in the world but if the finishing is sloppy the object looks "homemade" instead of "handmade".
As promised the tip this week is about provisional cast ons and picot hems.  There are many uses for provisional cast ons but I will focus on just one.   If you want a double hem, you can use the technique demonstrated last week.  As I mentioned earlier a drawback of that technique is that if the cast on is tight, the piece will not stretch.  This could be a problem for a hat.  Also, a provisional cast on is easier to see than the cast on edge, particularly if you are using a dark yarn.
The easiest way to do a provisional cast on is to crochet a chain and pick up stitches on the back of the chain.  Using a slippery yarn and a largish crochet hook, make a chain that has at least ONE stitch more than the number of stitches you want to cast on.  In the photograph below I have arrows marking the bumps.  I apologize for the color of the text which is unreadable.

When you make your crochet chain, be sure you know which end is which.  If you start at the end with the last chain, it should just unravel.  If you start at the beginning end, good luck.  You will wind up cutting it out.  I generally cut the yarn tail at the end very short or tie a knot in it so I can tell them apart.
When you are ready to work the stitches from the cast on, you put them on a needle.  The photo shows the needle being inserted into the stitch below the crochet chain. 

To make the hem you fold the piece and knit the two stitches together.  The video shows this process as well as provisional cast on.  Provisional Cast On
The photos show the front and back. 

Picot Edge
A picot edge can provide an interesting hem line, cuff or hat edge.  I frequently use them in baby projects.  It is very easy to do.  You need a multiple of two stitches.  You work to the where you want the fold line and work as follows for something in the round:  *k2tog, yo; rep from *.  If you are working flat, you need a selvedge stitches on each side so you would work as follows:  k1, *k2tog, yo; repeat from * to last st, k1.  You then fold the piece and you can pick up stitches along the cast on edge or do a provisional cast on.
There is an opera on Saturday--Donizetti's Maria Stuarda.  Donizetti loved tragic queens.  The Met did his Anna Bolena last year.  I had to check the plot.  I had this image of Mary Queen of Scots head singing after she's been beheaded.  It is opera after all.  The good news is that the opera ends with her  ascending the scaffold.  Salon will be on Sunday from 2-5pm.
I was surprised at how quickly I could finish the dress and blouse.  I wanted clean, classic looks and I think that is what I got.  I am quite pleased. 

Not a very good picture but you get the idea.
For aesthetic reasons I did a very narrow band (the pick row, a knit row, and a bind off) for the neckline and armhole edges of the blouse.  It worked out very nicely.  I also sacrificed (sniff) some of my vintage bakelite buttons for the blouse.  I was tempted to ask for them back but that would be tacky.  The yarn for the blouse is Classic Elite Firefly.  It has a lovely sheen and the drape is nice as well.  Here are the front and back.

 What you can't really see is that the peplum is garter stitch with short rows.  I'm working on the last thing for the magazine...a pair of socks.  I was going to do them in trinity stitch since that is the pattern stitch for the Stitch Anatomy lesson.  There are so many trinity stitch garments in the issue already I changed my mind.  I was inspired by a pattern in one of the Japanese books.  I made some modifications.  I'm going to call it Baby Bee Rib.  I will post the photo next week.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I am thrilled to announce that I will be taking over TKGA's finishing correspondence course as of February 18th.  The delay is due to the fact that I plan to rework the materials so that they cover all of the finishing techniques covered in Level 2 of the Masters Program.  The course will still have four lessons but the material will be different.  The first lesson will cover seams--vertical seams for different stitch patterns and the horizontal seams which are mainly used for shoulders.  The second lesson will cover picking up stitches for bands and the third lesson will be closures, primarily different types of buttonholes.  In the fourth lesson, the students will put all of this together to knit and finish a sweater.  I will provide the pattern for a doll sweater but the students can knit a pattern of their own choosing, as long as it meets the criteria for finishing.
I wouldn't say I love finishing (I am finishing a dress right now) but I do appreciate that proper finishing really makes a garment look handmade rather than homemade.

Students are slowly getting back to working on their courses.  I've reviewed a few lessons this week.  January is a good month to learn something new.  Send those lessons in!  Keep me busy!
There was a conversation this week on the TKGA forum about the instructions for the Masters Program.  People were curious how the program has changed.  TKGA doesn't post earlier versions of the instructions as this would cause confusion.  I have the set of instructions I used when I did the program (I did Level 1 in 1997) and I said I would post a portion of it if anyone was curious.  I did not want to put this out on Ravelry as someone might think the instructions were current so I am copying a small portion here. 
The early instructions were not very specific about what the evaluation criteria were as you can see in this sample:
I think most will agree the instructions have gotten better over time.
This tip has nothing to do with anything covered in one of my courses or in the Masters Program.  At  my knitting salon last week, Stephanie was working on a hat (Wurm Hat on Ravelry) and was having trouble with the pattern.  The hat calls for a folded band where you pick up stitches in the cast on edge to join the two pieces.  Part of the problem was that the yarn was so dark it was very hard to see the cast on edge.  I told her I would do a video using light colored yarn.  By the way, if you are using a new technique in a project, try it out on a swatch first.  I keep a skein of Lion Brand Fisherman Wool handy for just that purpose. 
There are several ways to do a folded hem.  You can do a provisional cast on, you can use double knitting or you can use the method suggested in the Wurm  where you cast on stitches, work in stockinette to the desired length, work a fold row in reverse stockinette, work the same number of rows in stockinette and then join the stitches on the needle to the cast on edge.
A caveat...when you use this method, especially for a hat, be sure to cast on very loosely.  If the cast on is tight, the hat band will not stretch.  This isn't the end of the world for a hem at the bottom of a sweater or cuff but it would be a real problem for a hat.  For that reason, you might want to consider a provisional cast on instead. 
Here is the WS of the work.

Here is the RS of the work.

Here is the link to the video: Double Hem.  I've used this technique quite a bit.  A picot edge is nice as well.  Next week I will do a picot edge with a provisional cast on just for a comparison.
By the way, as I've said before, I am willing to take request for the tips.  However, since I am taking over the finishing course, I can see lots of finishing videos in my future.  By the way, Stephanie is almost finished with the hat and it is fabulous.
No opera this week but there is a basketball game on Saturday so Salon will be on Sunday from 2pm-4pm.  I have gone back to work so every other week salon will be truncated.
I am amazed at how quickly the dress worked up and how little yarn was required.  All I have to do is pick up stitches on one armhole and weave in ends.  I did take a photo of it yesterday.  I will post the finished photo next week.  
I started the peplum blouse while I was waiting for the front to dry.  It is a fun knit.  The yarn is Classic Elite Firefly which has some shine to it.  I think I can have it finished by next week as well.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

I did survive the holidays.  Sometimes I wish I had an "OFF" switch.  This photo says it all.

I don't knit holiday presents for friends who live in two so every year I make cookies for my neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. who live locally.  This year I made 20 different types.  Overkill?  Yes.  The problem is that I have cookies that I like to make every year and every year I add to the list.  It takes a surprisingly long time to bake 20 different types of cookies.

AND I did finish up my holiday knitting and everyone got their presents BEFORE Christmas for a change (expect for the one package I addressed incorrectly).  Now I can relax.

I didn't receive many lessons to review during the holidays and those that I did get took forever to get to me.  Since the first of the year I've received lots of new orders.  I suspect New Years Resolutions are the reason.  My New Year Resolution is the same as last year...try to use stash yarn.

This week's tip is about measuring.  Many knitters are confused about how to measure their work.   You use different procedures for measuring your work for gauge and to measure a project in progress. 

I have done several blog entries about how to measure gauge but I am finding once is not enough.  When you measure for gauge, the swatch should be large enough to demonstrate the stitch pattern (generally 4" x 4" is enough).  The swatch should be blocked and completely dried.  Placing the swatch on a flat surface and using a RULER (not tape measure) with 1/8" indicators, place the ruler in the space BETWEEN the selvedge and the next stitch.  In the photograph below the swatch measures 5" wide.  (By the way that isn't my hand. My nails have never looked that nice!) 

Measuring the length of the swatch to determine the row gauge is a bit more tricky.  You want to measure only rows that are full size rows.  Don't include the cast on row or the bind off row.  They aren't the same size as regular rows.  The rows in some stitch patterns are easier to see (like garter stitch).  The photo shows stockinette stitch.

LengthThe other time you have to measure your work is for length.  For example, many patterns will says something like this "Work in pat as est until piece measures..."  When you are measuring for length, DO NOT include the stitches on the needle.   Measure from the bottom of the piece (or armhole or whatever the pattern indicates) right up to the stitches on the needle.  If you include the stitches on the needle in your measurement, the measurement will be short.  For most projects and weights of yarn, this isn't that big of a deal but if you are working with a bulky yarn, it can be significant.  Think what happen to the stitches on the needle when you bind off.  When they are worked they lay at the top of the piece and don't contribute to the length of the piece.

This comes up in the Masters Program frequently as knitters are expected to measure very exactly to demonstrate they know how.  (Whether they do this in their own projects is up to them.)  When the instructions state to work in ribbing for 2", the ribbing should be very close to 2".  Of course, it will NEVER be perfect as stitches don't neatly conform to exact measurements.  A tiny bit over or under is acceptable.

This photograph shows the measurement of ribbing.

The link to the video is Measuring for Gauge and Length.  I had a videographer this week but, alas, she goes back to school next week.  It makes things much easier.  I thought I could ask my neighbor if her teenage son could help out but the thought of saying, "I was wondering if your son could help me with some videos" creeps me out! 

Between the basketball schedule and the Met's HD schedule, it looks like salon will be on Sunday most of the time.  This Saturday I will be at the theater for 5 1/2 hours to watch Berlioz's Les Troyens.  5 1/2 hours is a bit long but since I studied Classics I feel compelled to see it as Acts 1 and 2 cover the fall of Troy and Acts 3 and 4 are about Aeneas and Dido.  Can't miss that!  Anyway, Salon will be from 2-5pm on Sunday.

I used up quite a bit of stash yarn to make the fingerless mitts.  I felt quite virtuous.  I did have to buy yarn for my daughters mitts and gloves (no photos...they whisked them away too fast).  Here is the line up. 


Cynthia and Jordan:

Nora and Stephanie:

I had the pattern memorized by the second pair.  I wasn't able to use stash yarn for my nephew's gift.  Alright, I could have but the yarn was Dale Baby Ull and it would have taken forever to knit the scarf so I used Berroco's Alpaca which was absolutely wonderful.  I have enough to make me a hat or something.


I love garter stitch.

Now I have to work on things for Cast On.  I am doing a linen dress for the Summer issue.  The Fashion Framework is on Shrugs and I thought a nice neutral dress could be useful for the photo shoot.  I was dreading the knitting thinking it would take forever.  I started the back exactly a week ago and I finished it last night.  It is soaking in a tube of water right now and I will block it as soon as I finish up this entry.

Here is a photo of my design sketch and measurements.  Here is a plug....I calculated my gauge and figured out EVERYTHING before casting on.  I didn't have to rip out a stitch.  By the way, if you look closely you can see the dental elastics I used to mark every decrease and increase.  That way, I can make sure the front matches the back!