Friday, November 20, 2015

Do I Have a Tension Issue?

If I write something stupid you can blame it on the cold I picked up somewhere.  I feel absolutely miserable but if I don't post today, I might not get to it.

We had the photo shoot for the spring issue last week.  It went very well.  I took videos of all of the garments.  Here are a few with mine.  Here the for the Love Birds Dress.  The model is absolutely adorable and Kyle is a genius at working with kids.

Here is the video for the pleated linen shirt.  The drape of the Shibui Linen is amazing.

Here is the polka dot skirt & crop top.

All of these designs will be in the Spring 2016 issue of Cast On magazine which will be available in February.

I've been getting quite a few lessons to review lately.  Keep up the great work!

Often I decide on a topic based on what I have been seeing.  Lately I've had several students sent me photos wanting to know if they have a tension issue.  This post is not about how to fix tension as much as recognizing there is a problem.  I will have some suggestions at the end.  Tension is something that is at the heart of the Masters Program.  It is an absolute requirement and most knitters do not know if they have a problem or not.  There are several reasons for this.  Some yarns disguise tension issues.  If you use heathered or tweed yarn you might not notice it.  Since the swatch examples in many books and magazines have tension problems, you might not even know that this is an issue.  Your work looks like these examples.   Here is the video for this topic:Do I Have a Tension Problem

The following two photos show reasonable stockinette tension.  Do not every expect absolute perfection in hand knitting.  Machine knitting, yes, hand knitting, no.  Notice that the stitches are approximately the same size as the stitches on the same row and the rows below and above.

Sometimes tension issues are best seen on the WS.  Here is the WS of a piece with reasonable tension.  Notice that there are no gutters between the rows.

Now for the examples of poor tension.  Notice in the swatch below that the size of the stitches alternates from small to large.

It is much more noticeable on the WS.  I can't tell you the number of cabled sweaters I have seen where this is what separates the cables.  I had one knitter tell me that this was a special stitch pattern!

This type of tension issue is much more prevalent in continental knitters or knitters who work most of their projects in the round.  Generally, the knitter is not tensioning purl rows the same as knit rows.

This is another type of tension issue I routinely see.  Notice how one side is much longer than the other.  You can see that the size of the stitches alter from row to row.  Some knitters have this on the right side, other on the left and some on both sides.  This can really be problem in an actual project. One side is longer than the other.  A garment will not hang properly.  Seams look just awful.

Here is the WS of the work.

Tension issue are specific to individual knitters.  There are many factors that contribute to poor tension and fixing the problem can be complicated.  A former Co-Chairs of the Master Hand Knitting program has two excellent videos on diagnosing the cause and suggested fixed.  Here are the links:Knittingsuzanne #1 and Knittingsuzanne #2.  You will find these helpful.  The other suggestion I have, if you are a member of TKGA, is to sign up for Binka Schwan's Taming Your Tension class.  She works with you individually to find out why you are having issues and then to find solutions.  The class also covers tension issues with other stitch patterns.

I'm not having salon this week.  I would hate for anyone to get this cold for Thanksgiving.  I am going to the opera tomorrow, Lulu, which I have never seen but I am going alone and will sit miles away from anyone else.

I couldn't resist taking a few photographs of the skirt and top.  They look so much better on Julia than my dress form!

I'm still working on birthday presents.  This is a scarf.  It is quite long.  I used Zen Garden Serenity Silk +.  This took the entire skein.  I think there was 10 yards left over.

This is also Zen Garden.  This is a close up of the stitch pattern.

 Here is the scarf.  It is so soft.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Am I Twisting My Stitches?

It will be a few more days before all the ginkgo leaves drop.  I took this photo this morning in the rain which is why the colors are so muted.  I'll try and get one more photo when they all drop.

I've been receiving more lessons the past two weeks.  Keep up the good work!

I have been inspired to do this topic again by a question on Ravelry.  This comes up every so often with my Basics students and occasionally in Level 1 of the Masters Program.  I've run across many self taught knitters who twist their stitches and aren't aware of it.  As I've said before, most knitters look at their stitches on their needle and not at the work coming off their needle.  Depending on the project, twisted stitches can be subtle and if you don't know what a knit stitch is supposed to look like you may knit merrily along for years twisting all stitches or stitches every other row.  What is the problem with twisted stitches anyway?  Well, they are tighter and smaller and have a dramatic effect on gauge.  Knitters who do this will have difficulty reproducing a garment in a pattern.

When I get a lesson with twisted stitches the first thing I have to do is figure out where and how they are twisting the stitches.  There are several different ways this happens.  First, you need to know what untwisted stitches look like.  Here is a photo of stockinette stitch where I have stretched it. Notice that the stitches are open at the bottom.  They resemble "V"s.

The "traditional" way to knit is to wrap the yarn UNDER the needle for knit stitches and OVER
the needle for purl stitches and then to work those stitches through the front on the next row.  If a knitter reverses the way the yarn is wrapped AND works the stitch through the front, the stitches will be twisted.  If your knitting looks like the photograph below, you are twisting the stitches on either the knit or purl rows.  Note that not all of the rows are twisted.  I will get how you can tell whether it is on knit or purl rows a bit later.

If you are twisting stitches on both knit and purl rows, your work will look like the photograph below.  Notice that the column of stitches look braided and that there is a lot of space between the columns.  This photo demonstrates why you don't want to do this.  The resulting fabric will have very little stretch.  By the way, it is not that easy to knit this way.  Working those twisted stitches through the front requires some effort!

The fix for this is quite easy.  Just wrap the yarn the correct way OR work the stitches on the next row through the back.  A lot of knitters do this to solve tension problems anyway.

If you are twisting stitches every other row, work a small garter stitch swatch.  If it looks like this one, you are twisting purl rows.  None of these stitches are twisted.

If it looks like the photo below, you are twisting on the knit rows.

When I have students who twist stitches I find that it is an easy fix for them.  Often they are very embarrassed that they haven't noticed the issue before.  I have found that very few shop owners are willing to bring this up with the knitter even if they notice that the stitches are twisted.

Here is the video:  Twisted Stitches

I was teaching a gauge class at a conference a few years ago and I had a student who came in and was really mad.  The teacher in the morning class had told her she was knitting "wrong".  (I try not to use this term.)  She was twisting stitches on every row and she liked the way the fabric looked.  I just let her know that it was her decision but that she would have problems getting recommended gauge. I also told her that doing the Masters Program would not be a good idea.  Everybody is different...

Salon will be on Sunday from 11:00 to 1:00 pm.  I have to drive to the Louisville airport.

It was a close call but I got everything finished in time to send them up to Zanesville for styling.

Here are photos of the crop top.  It buttons in the back.

The little girl's dress took no time at all.  The Love Bird design is from Mary Beth Jacobs.  She designed this for a yoked sweater in the issue.  By the way, this dress, the skirt and crop top, the pleated linen shirt and the vest will all be in the Spring 2016 issue of Cast On.  The photo shoot is next week.

I finally have time to start Christmas presents and a few birthday presents.  Here is the first one.