Friday, May 10, 2013

I put the finishing touches on the garments for the Fall issue of Cast On.  I hadn't woven in the edges on the hats, scarf and socks.  They are all done now and ready to go.  The photo shoot is Tuesday.

I have a few things to get ready for the Mackinac meeting which I will do on Sunday.  By the way, I will not be making a blog entry until June (most likely).  After the meeting in Mackinac I am going to Washington state for a week.  If I have time to do one before I go, I will.

If any lessons arrive while I am gone, my neighbors will take in the packages.  I'll be able to process new orders while I am gone.

Last week I discussed seaming horizontal edges (bound off stitches).  Where you will use this technique more often is for shoulder seams.  There are a variety of ways to shape shoulders.  The easiest way is to simply bind off the shoulders.  This produces a straight edge.  Some pattern call for shoulder shaping.  If you use short rows to shape the shoulders, the edge is easy to seam.  Another way to shape shoulders is to bind off stitches incrementally.  Seaming this type of edge can be tricky as the bind off process leaves "stair steps."  A common mistake is to place a seaming stitch IN the stair step.  If you insert a needle into a hole, it just makes the hole larger and this is true of seaming.  When you insert the needle into the stair step, you disrupt the stitch pattern and leave a hole. 

When you seam a horizontal edge, the rule is to seam in the stitch BELOW the bind off edge and this is true for stair step edges as well.  It looks like it will not work, but trust me, it does.  This photograph shows where to place the seam.  Notice the stair steps are skipped.   

This photograph shows the seam in progress.  Notice how the seaming thread seems to jump over two rows at the stair steps. 

This photograph shows the seaming thread pulled tight. Keep in mind, I used size 11 needles to knit these swatches so that you could clearly see the stitches.  This swatch isn't very attractive due to the tension, etc.  On a real swatch it looks much better.  I have stretched and pulled it so that the seam is clearly seen.

Short row shoulder do make the seaming easier but sometimes short rows are not practical.  Some stitch patterns make it difficult.  Binding off stitches to shape the shoulders may be the best solution.  Here is the video for this week:  Seaming Stair Step Shoulders

Salon will be on Saturday as I need Sunday to work on my workshop.  I looked at a calendar this week and realized I am running out of time!  I like to bring extra rulers, etc. in case the students forget.  I have to look at a calendar to see when the next Salon will be...not next week as I will be leaving Saturday for Mackinac.

The Blue Pansies socks are done and blocked.  I am very pleased with how they turned out. 

Now that I am finished with the things for Cast On, I can catch up with birthday presents.  I've finished the socks for Cara.  She loves pink.  I found this stitch pattern in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries.  I think it looks like gum drops.  That might be due to the color.

The other sock is blocking.  I am going to use this same pattern for another pair of socks.  The yarn is a solid color so the pattern should be easier to see.  Here is a closeup of the stitch pattern.  It is mindlessly easy (nice break after the Pansies).

After I knit the hat I skipped, I took this photo.  I think they are fun.  I put the scarf in the hat as well.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I have FINALLY finished the handout for the Design Workshop.  I'm letting it sit for a few days before I do the final proof.  As for all of my handouts, I put in more than you can reasonably cover in the time allotted.  Every class is different.  I have nightmares about running out of material!  I am starting to get very excited about the meeting.  I am hoping it won't snow!

The first student has finished the Gauge course.  She did a marvelous job.  Gauge isn't fun but it is so necessary.  My other students taking the Gauge class seem to be plugging along.

I've noticed that many knitters (and teachers) have personal preferences when it comes to finishing.  I'm about to reveal one of mine.  Most patterns will tell you to do a three-needle bind off for shoulders.  Why?  It is easier and it requires knitting needles.  A lot of knitters panic the minute they have to pick up a tapestry needle.  The disadvantages of a three-needle bind off is that the stitches are live which means that the edge is very stretch.  Sometimes this is a good idea...waistbands, sock cuffs, etc. but for a shoulder seam it may not be idea.  Think of a heavy Aran sweater with drop shoulders...A three-needle bind off provides very little stability for that garment.  The weight of the sleeves can pull the shoulders and widen the neckline.  (Somethings this is a good idea.  When you knit for babies, the extra stretch of the shoulders means you might be able to get the sweater over the baby's head.)  

I far prefer to seam the shoulders.  Stretch a piece with a bound off edge and you will see why I prefer this.  It is a little trickier to seam the shoulders but I think it is well worth the effort.  Again, this is MY PERSONAL PREFERENCE.  If you do seam the shoulders, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. 

When I first started knitting, I assumed the chain formed by the bind off was there for one provide a seam line.  I still have sweaters where I did this.  The seam it produces is somewhat decorative so you can always say you did it on purpose.  The correct way to seam a bound off edge is to insert the needle into the stitch BELOW the bind off edge.  I demonstrate how to do this in the video.  Horizontal Seam Video 

It can be hard to visualize since one piece is upside down.  What looks like a stitch on the top piece is actually the space between stitches.  If you place the seam in the spaces between stitches, you squeeze the stitch together and get the dread "11"s.  This is not an acceptable seam. 

This photograph shows what the seam looks like before the seaming thread has been pulled tight.  Notice that the "V"s continue from one side to the other.  You could leave the seam like this.  If you do, it is called "faux kitchener." 

When the seaming thread is pulled tight, this is what the seam looks like.  Keep in mind I have stretched this swatch so you can see it more clearly.  The smaller stitches aren't all that noticeable when it isn't stretched.  Again, I prefer to seam since it provides stability to the garment. 

Salon will be on Sunday.  I will be driving up to the Cincinnati airport in the afternoon.  Plus it is the Kentucky Derby.  I wouldn't want anyone to have to choose between a Derby Party and Knitting Salon.

I've finished up one sock and am working on the heel of the second sock.  I am quite pleased.  I'm calling them Pansy Socks.  The socks feel wonderful.  I am keeping this pair after the photo shoot.