Friday, February 27, 2015

Knitting Backwards

The snow hasn't melted yet and it is still quite cold, 8 degrees this morning. It is supposed to get warm this week.  We can only hope!

I got quite a few lessons to review this week which kept me busy.  I feel sorry for the postal deliverer.  Very few people here shovel their walks and it is very treacherous.  It is my pet peeve.  I generally start my day with a walk to Starbucks and since I don't have an ice axe I haven't been able to make the walk.

Diana suggested this tip.  She was working on entrelac and found that knitting backwards was very helpful.  When you work entrelac you are generally working on very few stitches.  Turning the work can be a pain.  If you are working a stranded design flat, working backwards can be helpful, particularly if the pattern is not a symmetrical one.  When you are working stranded work in the round you read the charts from right to left but if you are working flat, you read the charts from left to right on the purl rows.  If you knit backwards you still have to work the chart from left to right but the right side of the work is facing you so it is easier to see the design.  Some knitters have found this technique useful for improving their tension.  Knitting backwards can be another tool in your toolbox.

It isn't hard, it just takes a bit of practice.  I don't do this very often as I don't mind turning my work so anytime I try it I need to think a bit before starting.  What I find helps is to turn the work, position the needle as if to purl and then flip the work over.  In the photo you can see that I have inserted the left needle under the stitch on the right needle.  You then wrap the yarn from left to right over the left needle.

Here is the video:  Knitting Backwards

I won't be having salon this week.  There is just no place to park and the sidewalks are so bad I can't risk having people come over.  I hope the snow is gone by next week!

I am within inches of finishing the second sleeve of this sweater.  I am so sick of it.  I'll finish the sleeve today, block them tomorrow and sew them in over the weekend.  I can't think of a project I have been more anxious to finish.  I'll start the Wine Dark Sea next.  I spent some time thinking about my proposals for the Fall issue.  The selection meeting is on Thursday.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Horizontal Seams on Different Stitch Patterns

This photo pretty much says it all.  I know the northeast has had it MUCH worse than us but I live in Kentucky and none of my neighbors even own a snow shovel, yet alone know how to use one.  I was supposed to go up to Ohio for the photo shoot but that wasn't even a possibility. So I spent the week shoveling snow with a house guest (she lives in the country and would have been really snowed in).   They are calling for more snow (and possibly ice) this weekend.

I did get a few lessons to review before the snow fell but we didn't get mail for a couple of days so there swatches didn't get out until Wednesday.  Again, it is a really good idea to photograph your swatches, front and back, before you send them.

Maris had another suggestion which I really appreciate.  I've got a few other suggestions I will be doing in upcoming weeks.  Maris is working on a vest which has different stitch patterns on the front and the back.  She wanted to know how to seam the shoulders (a horizontal edge).  The rule for any horizontal seam is that you use place it in the first stitch below the bind off edge.  It is essential that you work in in the center of the stitch, not between the stitches.  I have done a blog entry on seaming horizontal edges which you may want to look at if you have not seamed this type of edge before.  Here is the link:  Previous Blog Post.  

The difficulty in seaming two different stitch patterns is when you can't read your work.  If you are seaming stockinette, the stitch looks like a "V" so you want to seam in the center of the "V".  If you are seaming reverse stockinette or garter, the center of the stitch looks like a frown.  If you place the seam in the smiles it won't look right.  (If this is new information for you, here is a link to a previous blog entry:  Previous Blog Entry.  What complicates this issue is that when you turn a piece of knitting upside down the "Vs" and frowns are upside down as well.  I try and seam with the pieces positioned side by side instead of top to bottom.  It is easier for me to see the stitches.  I did several photographs.  This one shows a reverse stockinette piece seamed to a stockinette piece.  It is in progress.  Look closely and you can see that the seam is placed in the center of the stitches on both sides.

Here it is with the seaming thread pulled tight.

This photograph shows two pieces of reverse stockinette.  

Here is the finished product.   Notice how the stitches line up perfectly over the seam.

The video for the week shows both swatches.  Here is the link:  Horizontal Seams--Different Stitch Patterns

I won't be having salon this week.  We are expecting another snow storm.  There is absolutely no where to park as it is and it will be worse this weekend!

I'm plugging along with my sweater but cabin fever set in and the thought of finishing the second sleeve sent me around the bend.  I did sew on the buttons.  

I found out a friend who I normally knit socks for on her birthday wants fingerless mitts so I am taking a break from the sweater to make them.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Judy's Magic Cast On

I'd like to know where the week went!  I spent the first part of the week working on the handouts I am going to use for a visit to the Dayton Knitting Guild in March.  I will be teaching basic seams and since I didn't have an official handout on that topic, I took parts of my finishing class.  I'll also be doing my 10 Ways (Plus 1) to Improve Your Knitting talk twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Just a reminder to all students...if possible, take photos of your swatches, front and back, before you send them off.  I email my letter as soon as I do the review and it might take several days (or if you are in Canada, WEEKS) to get the swatches back!  I received a lesson from my student in Bayreuth and she was nice enough to send a postcard.  It is on my bucket list to go to Bayreuth for the festival.

No suggestions from Maris, I am disappointed to say.  This week's topic is Judy's Magic Cast On that I use for socks since I prefer to do them toe up.  Also, this cast on is the EASIEST way to do a provisional cast on directly to the needle.  I was reminded of that as I am working on a sweater where I have used just about every technique.

Doing a sock toe up was a pain before Judy Becker invented this cast on.  I have intentionally blocked out the other techniques which included doing provisional cast ons and then grafting them.  Since socks generally are knit with finer yarn and smaller needles grafting can be problematic.  Basically you cast on stitches using two needles.  Here is the RS with a few stitches cast on.  If you are doing socks you want to use one circular needle.  If you are doing a provisional cast on, you want to use two circular needles.

It is the RS that truly shows the "magic" of this cast on.  Notice there is a perfectly formed reverse stockinette row.

There are tons of good videos showing how to do this...just search for Judy's Magic Cast On in Youtube and you will find them.  I've added mine to the throng.  Judy's Magic Cast On

Next week I'll do a video on a cast on which produces a very elastic edge which is perfect for lace, unless someone has a better idea.  By the way, using larger needles for an elastic edge just produces an ugly first row.

I really wanted to do the Salon on Saturday but the combination of Valentines Day and the UK basketball game convinced me that it is a stupid idea.  Salon will be on Saturday from 2-4 pm.  

I spent the early part of the week swatching for the Wine Dark Sea.  Here are the results.  Originally I was going to use the color choice from the upper left corner.  I didn't like this so then I did swatches alternating with the blue and then the red.  I decided I liked the red best as it matches the name better.  Then I did two swatches showing that configuration.  I've decided to go with the one in the lower left.  

I am not going to work on it until I finish my blue sweater.  I started it years ago to replace a much loved sweater I had had for nearly 20 years.  I'm using Miss BabsYasmin Lace  (80% merino and 20% silk).  It is a very hardy fiber combination.  Most of what I knit falls into the category of "process" knits.  I enjoy the process as much as the product.  This is a product knit.  It is no fun to knit at all but I am looking forward to wearing it.  I am almost finished with the first sleeve but since the finishing on this thing is so meticulous I decided to get started.  I can only work on it in natural light.  The front bands were worked at the same time as the fronts.  They fold over.  I spent hours doing them.   Here is the WS of the button band.

Here is the RS.

And here is the sweater.  You can see it is VERY simple but that is what I wanted.  I'm hoping to finish it up in the next two weeks.  The cuff of the sleeves start with 106 sts so you can see why it is a produce knit and it taking forever!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Duplicate Stitch, Again

I didn't knit much this week.  I wrote the Finishing with Confidence article and the patterns for the Confident Beginner series.  I also wrote the blog entry for my TKGA blog on the design process.  I also got a head start on my spring cleaning...wishful thinking I suppose as it has been quite cold here.  I did manage to get my four seasons to the post office.  I am loaning them to RedFish to display at Stitches West.

 Another slow week...Winter blahs?  

I received an email from a Basics student who is having trouble with the duplicate stitch method for weaving in yarn tails.  I've done several videos and blog entries about this but one thing I have learned is that everyone learns in different ways so here we go again.

When you use this method to weave in yarn tails you duplicate the stitches on the WS of the work by following the path of the stitches.  I've noticed that some knitters see this immediately while others really struggle.  One suggestion I have made in the past is to knit a swatch with very large needles.  Work several rows in one color and then a row in a different color.  Here is a photograph of a swatch I did several years ago.  It also has a section near the top where there is a mid-row color change (something you do in Level 1 of the Masters Program).  

It is much easier to see the path of the yarn in the single row in a different color.  I then suggest to those having difficulty with this that they practice the duplicate stitch on this single row.  Since the stitches are larger it is easier to see.  When you have it down, you can then try it on swatches knit with smaller needles.   

The video shows how to do this as well as weave in the mid-row color change and where to weave in the yarn tail at the top.  Weaving In Yarn Tails with the Duplicate Stitch

Salon will be on Saturday from 1:30 to 3:20. 

As I said, I didn't do much this week.  I did finish the socks I started last week.  

A couple of years ago I started a sweater to replace a machine knit one I love.  I've finished the back and fronts but then put it away.  I picked it up again to start the sleeves.  Since the yarn is a lace weight and I am using 00 needles it will take some time.

I got out the RedFish yarn I am going to use for a sweater in the next issue of Cast On.  I'm using the chart I did for the Thalassa socks.  The name of the sweater will be Wine Dark Sea.  This is a phrase used in the Iliad and Odyssey to describe the Mediterranean Sea.  When I saw these colors at Redfish's booth at our meeting in Manchester, I was reminded of the phrase.  I hope to start it soon.