Friday, January 30, 2015

Weaving in Yarn Tails in Stranded Work

It was an uneventful week.  As always, I had hoped to get much more done.  Next week should be better!

A few lessons arrived but not many.  I think midwinter blues have set in!  My New Year's Resolution several years ago was to review lessons the day they arrive.  So far, so good.

Maris, a former student, had a suggestion for me and it is a good one.  She thought a video on how to weave in yarn tails in stranded work would be useful.  Weaving in yarn tails is sort of my thing (check the index of tips for proof!)  To review, it really doesn't matter which technique you use as long as 1) the tail doesn't show through to the front even when the piece is stretched 2) it doesn't change the elasticity of the piece 3) it doesn't pull through to the front when stretched.   The technique I've found meets all of these criteria is the duplicate stitch for stockinette.   Since most stranded work is done in stockinette, this would be my choice but the strands can make the stitches hard to see.  What I generally do is work a few duplicate stitches to anchor the tail and then I run it through one of the strands itself.  In the photo below I have an arrow pointing to the strand.  I used a sharpish needle to run the tail through the plies.  

In this particular stranded design 6 rows are worked without stranding.  When I weave in the tails at the top of the design I can use the duplicate stitch method as shown in this photograph.

When you are weaving in the tails you have to look at the location for each and determine the best approach.    When I am weaving in tails in stranded work, I cut each tail as I weave it in.  I learned this lesson the hard way, I cut a tail before I had woven it in and had to repair that part of the sock.  NOT FUN!

Here is the video:  Weaving in Yarn Tails in Stranded Work

Salon will be on Sunday from 2-4pm.  The Met HD production is Tales of Hoffman, one of my favorites.  I haven't been able to go to many this year so I don't want to miss this one on Saturday.  

I have finally finished up the socks for the Confident Beginner series.  I will be working on the patterns this weekend. 

I've finished the second sock as well but it is soaking in a bowl of water right now.  Here is the first one.  All of these socks were knit using Neighborhood Fibers.  

Although this pinkish yarn may look identical to the yarn I used for the sock above, it isn't.  It is Madelinetosh Sock yarn.  The contrast color may look purple but it is actually black.  These are for a birthday gift.  I decided to use my Rick Rack pattern as I wanted to do the video on stranding.  Very self serving!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Circular Knitting with DPNs, Magic Loop and Two Circulars

I spent the week working on the Confident Beginner article.  It is about socks and for some bizarre reason I decided to do three pairs...two sized for women and one for men.  It takes more work to knit a man's sock. The Confident Beginner series requires a lot of videos which adds time to the knitting process.

I reviewed two lessons this week but three arrived today.  I won't get to them until tomorrow, most likely.

Since I have been focusing on socks all week and the Confident Beginner articles discuss this, I decided to do videos for the different ways you can knit socks.  Since the circumference socks is considerably smaller than the length of most circular needles you have to make a decision about what needles to use. Talk to any sock knitter and they will have a preference and, unfortunately, some of them feel obliged to tell you why their method is superior and yours is inferior.  Ignore comments of this sort.  It doesn't matter whether you use DPNS, one long circular or two circulars to knit your socks.  The important thing is that you like the method you use.  Try all the methods and decide for yourself.  (Can you tell I've gotten flak for my method?)  I'll discuss the three most common methods.  

DPNs--Double pointed needles are the most old fashioned of the methods.  They come in sets of 4 or 5.  The stitches are evenly arranged on 3 or 4 needles and the other needle is used to knit off the stitches.  I use double pointed needles.  It is how I learned and I like them.  The disadvantages are that there are so many needles to manage.  It is very easy to grab what you think is the working needle only to discover you have pulled out the needle with stitches on it.  I have pulled the stitches off a needle more times than I like.  I have lost one of the needles.  I have poked my fingers on the points.  Unless you are careful, you will get ladders at the location where the needles meet.  With all of this, why do I like them?  I tend to "unknit" quite a bit  and it is easier to do this on DPNs.   Here is the video for DPNs:  DPNs

I like using 5 needles as the photograph shows.

Magic Loop--I had just started knitting socks when this technique was invented.  You need one circular needle with a longer cable.  I've used needles with 24" cables and they work just fine.  To work this technique you loop the cables at the sides.  When you reach the end of the stitches on one needle, you slide them along the cable to reposition them.  The advantage of this method is that it is much harder to drop stitches and you can't lose a needle.  The disadvantage of this method is that you are sliding stitches constantly and this can be irritating to some knitters (like me).   I don't know why it irritates me so much but it does.  Ladders can be a problem with this technique as well.  You just have to make an effort to position the loop at different spots and you can avoid the ladders.  Here is the video:  Magic Loop

This cable is 30", I believe.

Two Circulars--I haven't met many knitters who use this method.  It requires two circular needles (you would think yarn shops would highly recommend this method!)  You position half of the stitches on one needle and the rest on the other.   You don't knit from needle to needle as you would with DPNs.  Rather you knit half the stitches with one needle and the rest with the other.  The advantages of this method is that unless the cables are long, you are not sliding stitches as much.  The chief disadvantage is that it can be hard telling the needles apart.  When I have tried this method, I frequently mess it up and wind up with stitches on the wrong end of the wrong needle.  The knitters I know who use this method try to use two different types of needles so they can tell them apart but that can lead to all sorts of tension and gauge issues so I don't recommend it.  Here is the video:  Two Circulars

Both of these needles are 16".

Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30-3:30.  

This is the first pattern for the Confident Beginner series.  The yarn is from Neighborhood Fibers.  I love this color.  The cable at the sides is optional.

The next pair is for men.  With so many men knitting now, I wanted to do a pair for them.  I had to order a special sock blocker (mine were all too small).  Thank you Loop Ewe for getting them to me so quickly.  I haven't blocked this sock yet, I just put it on the form for the photograph.  This sock is now soaking.  The other sock is getting closer to being finished.  Next week I will post a photo of the third sock.

Friday, January 16, 2015


I spent last weekend at the TNNA show in Phoenix.  I was looking at products to review and yarns for the Yarn Tasting at our meeting next July in San Diego.  It was a very positive trip.  Now I just have to sort through everything I brought back.

I came home to several lessons to review and more have arrived each day.  I think everyone has recovered from the holidays!
This week's tip is fairly self serving.  I didn't have much time to think about what to do so I selected a topic based upon something I had done in the project I was working on for Cast On.  I designed a skirt which is tight across the hips and then flares out.  To separate the two sections I worked a welt.  I've used this technique several times.  It can be quite decorative but it is a bit tricky to work.  You have to have a good understanding of stitch anatomy.  

A welt is basically a horizontal fold in your work. 


To work a welt you knit the rows you wish to fold.  You then knit the stitch on your needle with a stitch several rows below.  It is helpful to mark the row below before beginning.  You will be looking at that row from the wrong side which can be confusing.  What you want to pick up from the row below is the stitch itself, not the space between the stitches.  (Remember, in reverse stockinette, the stitch looks like a frown and the space between looks like a smile.)  In the photograph below I have marked the stitches I am going to work with fancy safety pins (I got these at TNNA.  They are from Hiya Hiya.)  Since this photograph is positioned with the cast on edge at the bottom, the frowns are marked.

In this photograph the cast on edge is at the top.  Notice that it looks like the safety pins are marking the smiles.  You can see why this can be confusing.

To work the welt, you can either insert the right needle into the stitch on the left needle and then insert it into the stitch on the row below and then knit the two together.  You can also use the right needle to lift the stitch on the row below and then knit them together.  Either way works.

What can go wrong?  If you don't pick up every stitch or if you shift from row to row, the welt won't look right.  I find it helpful to check the right side every few rows to see if I've messed up.  Here is the video:  Working a Welt

Salon will be on Sunday from 2-4pm.  Come and see my haul from TNNA before I ship it all off to Ohio.
I finished up the sweater before going to TNNA.  I love this yarn.  It is Mrs. Crosby Hat Box.  I stopped by their booth at TNNA to thank them.  

I finished up the skirt on the flight home from Phoenix.  I still haven't woven in the ends but I did finish the waist band.  All I have to do is write the pattern.  (Notice the welt.)  The yarn is from Anzula.  It is a linen and silk blend, perfect for a summer skirt.

I'm now working on socks for the Confident Beginner series.  Photos to follow next week....

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Closing the Thumb on a Mitten

It is the anniversary of my blog.  I started it in January 2012.  I am somewhat surprised I have managed to keep it up and that I haven't run out of tips yet.  This week I am making the entry on a Sunday.  I generally post on Friday but on Friday I was driving to the airport in Cincinnati.  Yesterday I put away all of the Christmas decorations and took down the garland from my porch as the temperature was 60 degrees.  It is supposed to start getting cold tomorrow.

I won't be doing an entry next week as I will be in Phoenix for TNNA.

I did get some lessons to review over the holiday.  There seemed to be some problems with the mail service.    One lesson was lost and another took almost 2 weeks to arrive.  I strongly suggest that you photograph your swatches, front and back, so that if there is a delay or the package gets lost, you can look at your swatches when you read my letter.

Several years ago one of my former students (Maris) suggested that I do a tip about how to close the thumb of a mitten.  I declined as it would require knitting a mitten to do the video.  I like to keep my tips short and sweet and do things I can demonstrate on a few rows and stitches.  Since I knit so many fingerless mitts this year as presents, I decided to record how I finished up the thumb.  (Better late than never, Maris!)

After you put the stitches for the thumb on waste yarn, most mitten patterns have you cast on one or two stitches over the thumb location.  It seems most recommend the backwards E cast on which is very loose.  This can contribute to the sloppiness of the thumb join.  That excess yarn always seems to work back into the stitches on either side.  I generally don't cast on any stitches or maybe just one.  When it comes time to pick up stitches for the thumb, I just use the slack yarn (and there always seems to be plenty) to create the stitches.  I twist the yarn the way you would for M1L or M1R increases.   When you pick up those stitches leave a VERY LONG tail.  You will need it to neaten up the thumb.

Here is the video:  Closing the Thumb on a Mitten

The thing to keep in mind is that this process is more like embroidery.  It isn't knitting.   With each stitch, look at the RS to see how the process is going.  This is a time to remember that this is not machine knitting.  Each thumb will be different.  The main goal is to close up the holes and not have it so bulky that it is uncomfortable.  If you can make your weaving in look like stitches, so much the better.

Salon will be today from 2-5 pm.  I won't have Salon next week as I will be in Phoenix.

I finished up all of my holiday knitting in plenty of time and managed to get the packages off well before Christmas which is unusual for me.  We had our selection meeting at the beginning of December and I have had difficulty receiving the yarn for my designs which has been rather nerve wracking.  I finished up these socks.  Luckily I had purchased the yarn at our conference in Manchester.  I am still expecting the yarn from Hundred Ravens but the dyer broke her ankle in December!   I'm calling these Rick Rack Socks.  They were fun to knit.

I did receive the yarn from Mrs. Crosby in mid December.  The stitch pattern for the Summer issue is rib stitch patterns and I wanted to do a sweater where ribbing is used to shape the sweater (fitted sweaters are the topic of the Spring issue).  Mrs. Crosby yarn is perfect.  It is very springy.  You have to be very careful when blocking ribbing not to overblock it.  For this sweater, if you want it to be fitted, just smoosh the ribbing in place during blocking.  If you want the ribbing to be more of an embossed design, pin it and stretch it out.  I am waiting for the zipper I have ordered from to finish up the sweater.  It will have a turtle neck.  By the way, the color in this photograph is all wrong.  It is more of a golden color.

One of my daughters selected this yarn, Freia, for a small shawl.  I managed to finish it while waiting for yarn to arrive.  I did get the yarn for a skirt I am doing for the Summer issue but I haven't started it yet.