Friday, February 22, 2013

I spent most of the week working on the stranded sweater which was going great until I stood back and looked at trees.  I wasn't happy so I recharted them.  I like them better now but I did lose a day. 

The Finishing Class was available on Monday.  I got the materials done just in time...Thank you, Carolyn!  I will work on Lesson 2 next week.  The first lesson covers all types of seams.  Lesson 2 covers how to pick up stitches and bands.  Buttonholes will be in the third lesson.

I received quite a few orders for courses.  It had been quiet for a few weeks. 

This week is a continuation of last week's tip, Reading Your Work.  This week will be about increases.  At the end of the tip, there is a quiz.  I will provide the answers next week.

Many knitters are not aware there are different types of increases.  They stick with the one they learned first.  (Until I did the Masters Program that was true for me.)  I have worked with many knitters that are completely dependant on row counters or must place markers in their work so they can tell when it is time to make another increase since they don't recognize what the increase looks like or how to count the rows between increases.  In the photographs that follow I have identified the type of increase and numbered the rows for bar increases, lifted increases and M1 increases.  Here is the video:  Reading Increases

I am not going to discuss how to make these increases as I have already done so earlier.  If you check the index you can find links to the particular posts.

Bar Increases
Bar increases are easy to recognize.  When you knit into the back of the stitch, it creates hole immediately to the left of the stitch with a bar on top of it.  This bar resembles a purl bump.  It is a very noticeable increase in stockinette stitch. 

The mistake many knitters make when trying to count rows after an increase is that they assume the row where the purl bump appears is the row where the increase was made.  The purl bump is created using the stitches ON the needle when you make the increase.  What that means is when you are looking at your work, the row where you see the purl bump is the row BEFORE the increase.  It is important to remember this if you are counting rows.  I've labeled some rows in the photograph below.   In this example the increases are made every other RS row (or every fourth row).  When you are using bar increases on the right and left side of a piece,  there should be the same number of stitches at the selevedges.  In this example, there are two stitches before the increase on the right and two stitches after the increase at the left.  Since a bar increase is made in a stitch, this means that on the right, the increase is made in the second stitch.  On the left it is made in the third stitch from the left selvedge.   I have labeled this as well. 

Lifted Increases
Lifted increases get their name from how they are made.  The leg of the stitch below is lifted to make the increase.  I am not going to talk about how to make this increase but rather what the finished product looks like.  It is a bit trickier to identify lifted increases.  (This is actually a good thing since they won't stand out in the work.)  If you look at the photograph below you can see that the "lifted" leg elongated.  These elongated legs can add an interested decorative detail.  

As for bar increases it can be confusing to count the rows.  I've labeled this in the photograph.  The increase row changes the appearance of the stitches in the row below.

M1 Increases
Like lifted increases, M1 increases slant to the left or right. They are more visible as there is generally a hole at the base of the increase.  Since the horizontal strand between the two stitches on the row below is used, it can pull yarn from the stitches on either side.  This can make the  surrounding stitches smaller.  If you are mirroring the increases, work the M1R at the right side and the M1L at the left side.  If you look closely at the increases in the photograph, you can see that for the right slanting increases the top leg of the increase slants towards the right.  The reverse is true for the ones on the left.  Unlike the lifted increases, this is a very subtle difference. 

I've labeled the rows so that you can see that making the increase changes the appearance of the stitches in the row below.

Counting Rows
Patterns generally provide instructions for how often to work increases with language like "every RS row" or "every other RS row".  Instructions like these are easy to interpret.  What can cause confusion is when a pattern states: "every 4th row."  Don't count the row where the increase is made.

Increase Row (RS):
First row after increase (WS)
Second row after increase (RS)
Third rows after increase (WS)
Fourth row (RS)--next increase row.

Increase Quiz
In the three photos which follow, identify the following:

  1. What type of increase is used?
  2. How many rows are between the increases?
  3. How many stitches on the right side are worked before the increase and how many stitches after the increases are on the left?
I will post labeled photographs next week. 

Swatch 1

Swatch 2

Swatch 3 

Knitting Salon
Salon will be on Saturday from 1:30-3:30.  There is a basketball game but not until 9pm.  The next opera, Parsifal isn't until next weekend.
Current Projects
I spent the week working on the summer sweater.  When I swatched the trees I should have paid attention to the trees as well as the color.  As soon as I knit the first repeat, I knew I needed to change them.  I should have taken a photo before but I didn't.  Here it is.  I am quite pleased with the results.  There is a aspen leaf in the center of the fishes.  This is a nod to the next season, fall, which I have already done.  It has gold bands to represent the gold of aspen trees in the fall.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The photo shoot for the Summer issue of Cast On was on Tuesday.  I drove up to Granville the night before.  I snapped a few photos of my garments while Julia, the model was getting ready.  I've been in a "less is more" phase lately as these garments illustrate.  I know my next project will be a "more is more" kind of sweater.  Sometimes I think it is harder to knit something simple.  Every mistake shows.  I should have got a photo of the back.  I sacrificed my vintage bakelite buttons for this blouse!  The dress looks pretty good as well.

It was a slow week.  Just a few lessons to review.  I have been putting the final touches on Lesson 1 of the Finishing Course since it will be available on the 18th.  The reference section is very detailed.  I put in lots of photos which show the right way to do things and the wrong way. 
Registration for the Mackinac meeting opened on the 11th.  There has been a good response.  It is a fabulous location for a meeting.  I am going to remember to take photographs this year.
I had planned on doing more finishing videos but a couple of things happened this week which has prompted me to put that off for a bit.  Swatches in my classes and in the Masters Program are to be tagged in the upper left hand corner.  This lets the reviewer see that the knitter can "read" their work.  Lately, a lot of the swatches I've looked at are tagged wrong.  Sometimes I think it was a simple mistake but other times I've not been sure that the knitter can read their work.  Also, I've noticed that many knitters cannot read their work as they knit it...count rows, identify different types of increases and decreases, etc.  They seem to focus only on the stitches on their needle and if the stitch count is accurate.  This makes it difficult to spot a mistake.  I've decided I'm going to spend a few weeks on how to read knitting.  I'll start with the simple stuff...CO and BO edges.
The photographs will show the standard bind off and the long tail cast on.  The standard bind off looks like a chain.  When you bind off knitwise on the RS, the chain slants to the front as you can see in the photograph.  In this photograph, the "smooth" side of the cast on edge was chosen for the RS.  (The long tail cast on produces the first row of stitches.  If you knit the first row after the CO, the "bumpy" side will be the RS. For the swatch below, the first row after the CO was purled.) 
I've marked the upper left hand corner.  This is where the swatch should be tagged.  When you are tagging knitted fabric DON'T USE SAFETY PINS.  The stitches can get caught in the coils and safety pins have been known to cause rust stains as well.  Use waste yarn. 
The swatch in this photograph has a garter stitch border.  There are two ways to bind off to get this appearance.  You can bind off purlwise on the RS or knitwise on the WS.  If you bind off purlwise, the chain slants to the back of the work.  I've folded the swatch so you can see both the RS and WS.  I've labeled the cast on edges as smooth and bumpy. 
The swatch in the photograph was bound off in pattern.  What that means is that you work the stitches in the bind off as you would if it were a pattern row.  For seed stitch that means that if the stitch below is a knit stitch, you bind if off purlwise. If it is a purl stitch, you bind it off knitwise.   Notice that the chain stitches in the bind off edge doesn't slant to the RS or WS but are on the top.  The "bumpy" side of the cast on edge is shown.
Next week I will show how to read increases.  I think I'll have a little quiz at the end of the tip as well. 
By the way, this week's video also includes a demonstration of how to fix the last stitch of a bind off.  Someone requested that I make it more clear.  I hope this works!  Ugly Bind Off and How to Read your work
Salon will be on Sunday from 2-5pm.  I will be at Rigoletto.  I am very excited about it.  It is also a basketball game.  Lexington is in mourning as one of the best players has an injury which will keep him out for the rest of the season. 
I can now post photographs of the socks I made for Stephanie's birthday.  It was yesterday.  I thought the Leaves of Spring pattern would work well with the green yarn.  It is one of my very favorites to knit. 
I finished up my hat.  I just need to block it.  My hands have been blue while I knit this.  I hope it doesn't do that on my head!
I spent the week working swatches for my summer sweater and I am ready to start knitting soon.  First I plan to lay out the designs for all sizes.  I've learned the hard way, this is much easier.  I worked swatches for all for the stars.  I was going to do them all in one color but I've decided to alternate the two darkest. 
The swatch at the top is the border.  I've used this same border, in different colors, of course, for all of the sweaters.
Here are the trees. The yarn is slightly variegated (thank you Elf for the suggestion!)  I have some minor changes to make to all of the charts.  I try to keep my stranding within .75 of a inch.  I don't like to catch floats.  It changes the appearance of the RS, especially very light fabric like this.
I have to laugh.  When I was in Reno, I had photographs of rainbow trout on my iPad to try and match the color.  My husband was quite insistent that it had to match exactly.  I did find a color that is EXACTLY the same color as rainbow trout.  The first swatch shows that.  My husband took one look at the swatch and said he thought they were more the color of the trees.  I am glad he feels that way as the second swatch shows the color much better.  I still am trying to decide what color to do the waves.  I think I like the medium color best.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A busy week but I didn't get much done.  We are shopping for a new car.  Our dear 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport with 260,000 miles has decided it cannot make another trip cross country.  The black jeep is now on the first leg of a cross country trip.  Now we need another car here.  I'd rather have a root canal...
I made good progress on the Finishing correspondence course, or as it is officially titled, "Professional Finishing Course".  I've finished up the reference section for Lesson 1 and I've made it available for the Masters Committee members to give it the once over since I suspect that the majority of students will be those working on Level 2.  I am enjoying the process.  It will be ready by the 18th.
I only had a few lessons to review which worked out well since I had less time to work than I typically do.  I've noticed that I've had more students from outside the US than I have in the past.  Since the postal service can be so slow, I email my letter.  I think it would be a good idea for all my students, US and non-US, to photograph their swatches, front and back before sending them off.  You never know.  I've only had one lesson lost out of thousands sent but it would be good to have the photographs in case they are lost.

I've got finishing on my mind.  Expect many more tips about finishing.  This week's tip is about how to seam reverse stockinette stitch.  This is something that is tested in Level 2 of the Masters Program.  Many knitters I have met aren't aware that you use different techniques to seam different types of stitch patterns.  This applies only to vertical or selvedge seams.  For horizontal (or bound off edges) you seam in the center of a stitch and it doesn't matter what kind of stitch it is.  The mattress stitch is the best way to seam stockinette but if you use it to seam reverse stockinette stitch, the stitch pattern is not maintained on either side of the seam.  This is due to the stitch anatomy.  Reverse stockinette (and garter stitch) interlock on the RS while stockinette stitches are "stand alone" on the RS.  I've discussed in prior blog entries how reverse stockinette stitches interlock.  The stitch itself looks like a frown.  The space between the stitches looks like a smile.  When you seam reverse stockinette you seam the smiles on one side to the frowns on the other. 
As the photo illustrates these "smiles" and "frowns" can be hard to see.  You have a choice.  In the example in the photo, the "frowns" are actually in the selvedge stitch and really hard to see.  The smiles are in the space between the selvedge stitch and the first column of stitches.  The other way you can do this is to use the "frowns" in the first column of stitches rather than the selvedge. They are easier to see.  
This makes the seam more bulky but since selvedge stitches tend to be ugly, it might give you a better looking seam.  Either technique is acceptable in the Masters Program.  The video shows both techniques:  Reverse Stockinette Seam
Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30-3:30.  The weather should be better!  Last week we had a snow storm and VERY little effort is made to clean the streets.  For someone who grew up out west I find it humorous how 1/8" of snow throws everyone into a panic.  I avoid grocery stores until after it snows.  Krogers reminds me of photographs you've seen of the evacuation of Saigon.  I wonder why anyone needs 5 gallons of milk, 6 loaves of bread and a 10 pack of toilet paper.
I won't post photographs of the birthday socks until next week.  I've got half of a sock left.  I finished the hat and my husband who never wants anything I have knitted expressed an interest in it so I gave it to him. 
I'm making one for me now with some Road to China (alpaca, cashmere, camel, and silk blend) I've had around forever.  The photo doesn't do the color justice.
I didn't get to swatch for the Utah sweater as I am still tinkering with the graphs.  I did wind the skeins into balls.  I hope by tomorrow I can start swatching.  The "theme" of the sweater is Summer in the Uintah mountains of Utah.  The top portion of the sweater will be stars in the night.  The next band will be pine trees in the twilight. The bottom band will be rainbow trout in a mountain stream.  In all of the season sweaters I've put in a motif as nod to the next season.  This will have an aspen leaf floating in the water.  The fish is a tribute to my husband's hobby.  He would like the fish to look more like real trout but I've explained, this is fair isle technique, not intarsia.  The sweater will have the same band as the other sweaters so I have to think about the colors for that as well. 
I thought it might be interesting to see the process I use for a stranded sweater so I have included the most recent charts (they will change) and the yarn.  The charts for the trees and fish don't show the background colors yet.  I have to play with the colors to see what I like.  Hopefully I will be posting photos of the swatches next week. 
Here are the stars.  The background will be navy and the stars will be one of the lighter blues.  Elf at Redfish suggested the purple.  I will swatch them all before making a decision.
Here are the trees.  The color for the trees is a very subtly variegated green.  I think I will use one of the medium blues for the background but I will swatch several choices.
I am very proud of these fish.  I looked at hundreds of photographs of fish.  I think they look pretty good for a charted design.  The chart shows the center back and front.  The fish face each other.  There is a small aspen leaf in the middle.  I'm still tinkering with this.  I don't catch floats when I do stranded work.  I design the motifs so that I don't have to.  The single stitches between the fish are bubbles. 


The colors in the chart don't match yarn.  It takes way too much time to get the colors right in the charts.  The photograph shows the actual colors pretty well.  The fish will be the olive-y color with coral stripes.   The white or the yellow will be used in the graphic band I've used in the other sweaters.  I'm not sure I will use all of the blues.  We will see how the swatching goes.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I "celebrated" a birthday this week and I have officially moved from "hag" to "crone."  Milestones are important!
I spent the week working on Lesson 3 of the Gauge correspondence class...just in time, as it turns out.  Carolyn, one of the co-chairs of the Masters Committee reviewed it.  She is such a good proofreader (and I am a horrible proofreader).  Next week I move onto the Finishing Class.  It should be easier...less math.
Students are sending in lesson which also has been keeping me busy.  I really enjoy looking at what the students in the Swatch to Sweater class are designing. 
This really isn't a tip.  MarisOC in a Ravely post asked if I could video my way of knitting.  First of all, let me say that I know I knit in a different way and for that reason, I never teach anyone how to knit.  Second, I don't think it matters one tiny bit how people knit as long as it is comfortable for them and they get even tension.  I NEVER EVER would tell someone they are not knitting"right."  With that said, I don't remember who taught me how to knit.  Both of my grandmothers knit (one German, one English) and I did knit as a child but I didn't pick it up again until I was in my 30s so maybe I figured it out on my own.  I feel very self-conscious about how I knit since in the original Principles of Knitting, Hiatt devotes several paragraphs (pages 6-7) about my method ending with, "If someone you know knits this way, ...and offers to teach you how, decline as politely as possible, but do decline."  I find my method comfortable and since I knit very fast and my tension is very even I haven't wasted my time worrying about it. (By the way, I have pretty bad arthritis in my wrists and I can knit for hours at a time with no pain.)  Watch the video and decide for yourself.   How I knit  (Thanks to Stephanie who has agreed to be my videographer!)
By the way, I feel bad that I have had two request for tips of the week that I turned down.  I like to do things that are pretty generic and don't require a ton of set up.  For the tips I have to knit up samples and if it is a topic that requires some major knitting, I won't be able to do it.  I'd be happy to give you suggestion on topics like that.  One suggestion has prompted an article in Cast On so keep the ideas coming.   
Salon will be on Saturday for a change.  The basketball game is an away game and doesn't start until 6pm.  It will be form 1:30-3:30pm.  There isn't an opera until Feb. 16th.  I am very excited as it will be a new production of Rigoletto set in 1960s Las Vegas.  The opera really lends itself to this time frame.  I NEVER recommend that someone see an opera as most would find it torture but if you have ever wanted to see an opera, this would be the one to see.  You'd recognize lots of the music (particularly if you ever watched Bugs Bunny cartoons.)
I finished up the baby present.  The new grandmother is picking it up this weekend.  I used some of my vintage mother of pearl buttons from my collection.  You can't tell how beautiful they are in this photograph.  I sort of collect vintage buttons.  I'm not a serious collector but I do love them.

I am also working on some socks for a birthday present but since I know the recipient read this blog I won't post a photo of them which would ruin the surprise but here is the yarn.  It is Miss Babs Northumbria and the color is My Kelley.  It is lovely to work with.

It has been very cold here and the one thing I have never knit for myself is a hat.  I've been wearing a really scroungy one on my morning walks to Starbucks and I have decided it is time to upgrade.  I'm using some Berocco Ultra Alpaca which is rapidly becoming my very favorite yarn.  I'm using the same technique I used for the peplum blouse.  The cuff (?) or band (?) is garter stitch and I will pick up stitches for the hat.  After working with the baby and sock yarn, it is like knitting with broom sticks. 

The ends will be grafted together before I pick up the stitches for the hat. 

Next week I will be posting swatches for the Utah sweater.  I can't wait to start!  It will be the final one in the series.  I'll be sad to be done (and so will Elf and Sandy at Redfish!)