Friday, January 29, 2016

Circular Knitting Math

This was the view from my back door a week ago.  I'm not sure what the final totals were but it was a lot of snow.  Unlike last year, there was a warm up a couple of days after the storm and most of the snow is now gone.

My friend Jan, who lives in the country stayed with us to avoid getting stranded.  She is the Cat Whisperer.  She spent  time photographing George.  This may be my favorite.

He is a very tolerant cat.  Petipa would put up with this for a minute.

Our very intrepid mail carrier made it through the storm to deliver several lessons.  Reviewing them helped keep me busy.  Again, as a reminder, please send me the tracking number for your packages so I can watch for them.

This is a continuation from the topic last week.  The knitter who originally contacted me sent me another email.  One of the things she wanted to know was the math for using the various options for circular knitting.  I am a math idiot but this is the kind of math I can do.  If you have four DPN needles, divide the total number of stitches by 3.  If you have five DPNs, divide by 4.  If you are using two circulars, divide by 2.  I think the main reason for the question was about dividing stitches when using the Magic Loop technique.  I don't think it matters much.  In fact, I think you are better off by changing it up every few rounds.  If you keep the needles in the same position, you might get ladders between the column of stitches. 

You will meet knitters who will try and tell you that there is only one way to do circular knitting. Ignore them.  Needle choice is personal.  I do not enjoy the Magic Loop.  It drives me crazy sliding the stitches around so much.  I use DPNs or smaller circular needles.  Is that the "right" way. Absolutely not!  It is just what I like.  The videos (there are two) show DPNs, two circulars, and the Magic Loop.  Circular Needle Math Part 1 and Circular Needle Math Part 2.

There won't be salon this weekend as I am going out of town.  I will have salon on February 7th at 1:30-3:20.  
I finally finished the dress.  I haven't written the pattern yet so it isn't completely finished...yarn tails, etc.

Now I am working on the lacy overdress.  It is the same yarn as the dress, just one strand and size 8 needles.  It is a top-down, raglan construction.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Circular Knitting Cast On

I spent last weekend in San Diego at TNNA, the trade show for our industry.  Three committee member of the Masters Program joined me, Celia McAdam Cahill, Carla Pera and Christina Hanger. We visited all of the booths to look at new products.  Starting with the Summer issue of Cast On, we will no longer be reviewing new products in the magazine.  The publication lag time is just too great.  Instead, we will be releasing a video in February with interview of various vendors showcasing the products which excited us.  It was ton of fun.

Things are picking up after the holidays.  I received several lessons while I was out of town.  Since I've spend the better part of the day trying to help locate a Masters Program submission which is MIA I'd like to ask all of my students to send me an email with a tracking number when you send me a package.  UPS and USPS include the tracking number on receipts.  It is much easier to find a package if you know it is missing immediately!  I try to remember to include the tracking information in the email with the review letter.  If I do not, remind me!

This week's tip is inspired by a question sent to TKGA.  Someone wanted to know if we had a course on the problems with circular knitting.  I had to stop and think.  I'm not used to thinking there are problems with circular knitting except for avoiding jogs in Fair Isle.  Sometimes I get so caught up in minutiae of techniques I forget what it was like when I first started knitting.  So...this weeks topic is about casting on in the round.  I'll cover other issues with circular knitting in upcoming weeks.

One problem thing that can occur if you are using too long of a circular needle and you are not familiar with the Magic Loop method.  The cast on can be quite tight until the first row is worked. If the cord is long it can be difficult to stretch the stitches from the tip of one needle to the next.  You can use the Magic Loop method or work the first few rows on DPNs.

If you look at any pattern worked in the round and the first instruction will ALWAYS be "Join into a round taking care not to twist the sts" or something similar.  Anyone who has ever twisted the cast on row knows why this is the case.  The photo below shows what a twisted cast on looks like after you have worked a couple of rounds.

I have done this more times than I like to admit.  Yes, you can flip the needle around but you will have to bring the working yarn under the cast on edge which really detracts from its general appearance and can impact how much the cast on edge can stretch.  It also is just plain ugly.

If you look closely you can see where the edge is twisted (plus there is a big red arrow marking it.)  It is pretty subtle on the first row where you only have a few strands of yarn.  This is why most of us don't notice it until the second round.

Whenever you are working in the round, check your cast on edge very carefully before you join in the round.   If you don't and you discover this later, the best solution is to start over.  I've actually fixed this before but it isn't something I will ever do again.  It distorts the tension too much.

Here is what your cast on should look like before you join.

The other issue is how you join the last cast on stitch to the first to avoid a wide space between the two stitches.  The three most common ways to do this is to just knit the first stitch taking care to pull the working yarn quite tight.  The yarn tail can be used to neaten up the edge when the project is complete.  I took an informal survey a few years ago of the members of the Masters Committee and this was the method most used, including Carolyn Vance, who I like to refer to as The Mitten Queen (Carolyn's Ravelry Project Page).  She knits a lot of mittens and she knows a few things about knitting in the round.

Another method is to transfer the last stitch to the left needle and the first stitch to the right needle and then knit the first row.  This is easier said than done if you are using small needles and it leaves a bit of a bump.  I've had knitters tell me the only way to join is to cast on an extra stitch, transfer the last stitch to the left needle and knit it together with the first stitch.  I've even seen references where you use the yarn tail to work the first stitch and then drop it or to use both the yarn tail and the working yarn to work the first few stitches.  You decide what method works best for you...

Here is the video where I discuss this and how to avoid twisting the stitches:  Circular Knitting Cast On.

Salon will be on January 17th from 1:30 to 3:30.

I finally finished up the knee highs.  I must have ripped them out five times.  The challenge with knee highs is shaping the calf.  I wanted the shaping to fit in with the stitch pattern.  Here is what I finally came up with.  The dental elastics show where I made increases.  I haven't written the pattern yet so I need them!

Here is the finished sock.

The foot on the form isn't really foot size, hence the bunching.  This color is much more accurate. The yarn is Miss Babs Hot Shot.  There is a short pair to go with the pattern as well.  Here they are.

The Confident Beginner pattern is for skinny scarves (4.5-5" wide).  There are three.  I used simple lace patterns that are easiest enough for even new knitters.  Here are close ups of the stitch patterns.

Are you sensing a trend in the color palette for this issue?  This yarn is Madelinetosh Silk Merino.

Just two more things to go.  I am knitting a dress and a lacy overdress,  I'm using Anzula Breeze doubled for the dress.  Here is how far along I am with the dress.  I'm doing a tubular cast on.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Paired Lifted Increases

This photo more or less sums up how I spend the month of  December.  This year I baked 22 different types of cookies.  If  you are on my Christmas list, this is what you get.

A couple of friends came over to help decorate the sugar cookies.  They spent hours making them look lovely.  My style is to stick googly eyes and  mustaches on everything although I did take some time to make a gingerbread Cyclops and goddess Kali.

I have received very few lessons to review during the month of December.  I think things will pick up now that the holidays are over.

The tip this week is very self serving (yet again).  I am doing a pair of knee high socks for the summer issue of Cast On.  The pattern is a lacy rib.  The difficulty in designing knee highs is how to incorporate the stitch pattern into the calf shaping.  I wanted to increase two stitches in a column of purl stitches.  The best way to do this is with paired lifted increases.  These aren't the same as a double increase as they are worked in two stitches next to each other.  I've used this technique before in designs I have done (Medusa Coat &Medusa Skirt).

I've marked the location of the increases with arrows.  At the bottom I worked a left slanting lifted increase purlwise and then a right slanting lifted increase purlwise.  The slant isn't as important when you are working these increases purlwise.  At the top I worked a left slanting increase knitwise and then a right slanting increase.  When you work the knit version the slant is important.  The photo shows the RS of this work.

Here is the WS.

The video shows how to work the increases.  Here is the link:  Paired Lifted Increases

Salon will be on Sunday from 2-4pm.  I will be driving to the Louisville airport.  We are stopping by at the Kentucky Historical Society museum.  They have a special exhibit of memorabilia from the movie White Christmas.  It looks interesting.

I finished up all of my holiday knitting before Christmas but in my haste to ship everything off, I didn't get photos.  I got the yarn from Miss Babs for one of the projects I am doing for Cast On.  THe yarn from Madelinetosh is scheduled to arrive Monday.  I haven't heard when the Anzula yarn is shipping.  Here is a closeup of the sock.

I've got a bit to go but I should finish it up today or tomorrow.  I must have ripped this thing out 20 times.  I tend to do this when I am not on a tight deadline!