Thursday, September 29, 2016

Selvedge Seam (Not What You Think)

As always, it has been a busy week.  Our website is improving day by day.  I can't wait until we can do the change.  I just found out today our emails can be activated.  We started our fundraising.  We'd originally planned to do a GoFundMe or something like that but all of those services charge a pretty high fee for collecting the money so our computer guys found us something better that doesn't charge fee Click and Pledge for TKGA.  It immediately sends the form for taxes.  We haven't really advertised this yet and are getting donation.

I've always noticed I get more lessons to review in the fall and this year is no different.  I seem to get a new lesson every day.  

This week's tip was prompted by Binka Schwan, the Vice President of Education for the new TKGA.  She has created a new series for Cast On, Skill Builder, which is designed for newer knitters but I think anyone could benefit from this series.  It will be accompanied by the Confident Beginner patterns.  Her first design is a chunky scarf with optional pockets.  She sent me the pattern which had lengthy instructions for seaming the pockets.  I offered to do a video for the technique.  

Well, I spent quite a bit of time on this yesterday.  I tend to think I've seen almost everything but I'd not run across this technique before and I found written directions confusing.  This was not Binka's fault.  It is just something very hard to describe with words.  

The pockets for the scarf are folder over and then seamed.  I assumed it was some sort of running or back stitch and I couldn't force Binka's instruction to do what I thought they should do.  She pointed me in the right direction...The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt.  If you haven't encountered this book before, prepare yourself.  There is pretty much nothing you can do in knitting that she doesn't cover.  Unfortunately, the names she gives things are not found anywhere else which makes it difficult to use.  For example, she calls the mattress stitch the running stitch and if you've embroidered or done hand sewing, the running stitch doesn't have much in common with the mattress stitch.

Anyway, this is a technique Hiatt calls Selvedge Seam.  It is used when you want the selvedges stitches to be on the outside of the piece rather than on the inside as they would be if you used mattress stitch.  I have never used this before.  She recommends using is when seaming garments with bulky yarns.  I can't see myself doing this.  Selvedge stitches are ugly so why would you want them on the outside?  The other use fits perfectly for Binka's project.  If you have slipped the first stitch of every row you get a decorative chain and you can use the selvedge seams to join the two pieces and the seam can be decorative.   The photo shows a swatch I knit it up (NOT BINKA'S pattern) .

When you use the mattress stitch technique you have the two pieces side by side and when you pull the seaming thread tight, the selvedge is turned to the inside of the piece.  With this technique the two pieces you are seaming are on top of each other.

I was making this much more difficult than it is when a light went off and I realized that the procedure is worked just like the mattress stitch but from top to bottom rather from side to side.

This photo shows the seam from the side so you can see the path of the yarn. 

I'm not going to write directions for how to do this.  You really need to see it.  Selvedge Seam

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

I finished the shawl, blocked it and wove in the ends. 

Here it is wrapped around.    

And how it looks from the back.

I also finished up vest.  It is a reworking of something I did for Cast On in 2009. Many knitters used that pattern for Level 2 of the Masters and there were several things wrong with it for that purpose.  I changed it.  I haven't done the final finishing yet. 

Now I'm working on a scarf version of the shawl.  I'm almost done.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Seaming the CO and BO Edges

If you are a subscriber to my YouTube channel where I have stored the videos for this blog, you did not get a notice that I had uploaded a new video.  I have been involved in a major time suck with Google.  I cannot access that channel anymore.  It doesn't recognize me as the owner so I can't upload to it.  I do have another channel where I uploaded videos relating to Cast On magazine.  I've looked at about a million "help" screens on how to be able to access that channel and nothing has worked.  The fault is mine for having two channels and multiple email addresses.  Apparently, it confused Google.  Anyway, rather than take anymore time with this I am just going to use the other channel from now.  The videos are still there (thank you very much Google) but I no longer get the emails for comments to it.  You will have to subscribe to the new channel, alas.

I was out of town last week but only one lesson arrived which I will get to today.  We took a short tour of the Midwest starting in Fort Collins, CO.  Unfortunately we go there too late and left too early in the morning to go to the Loopy Ewe.  We drove to Lincoln, NE and spent the night near the university.  The next day we drove to Clear Lake, IA (by way of Iowa State).  Then onto Milwaukee by way of Madison.  We hadn't planned on making it a college tour but it sort of turned out that way.  We had a wonderful time, especially in Milwaukee.  What a great city!

This tip was a special request.  In Level 2 of the Masters Program you have to seam a variety of stitch patterns and the Figure 8 join is required to begin the seam.  This causes all sorts of problems.  Leslie Gonzalez, one of the Co-Chairs has done a wonderful blog on the topic but the question I had was more about exactly where to start and end.  Here is the link to Leslie's blog:  Leslie's Figure 8 Join Blog Entry

If you look closely at the cast on edge in the space between the selvedge stitch and the next stitch (this assumes you are using the long tail cast on which is required in the Masters Program) you will see that it consists of two strands of yarn.  The first strand is at the very bottom and the second strand connects to the first row of stitches.  It can be hard to see.  When you start the Figure 8 join, you have the choice to begin above these two strands or between the two strands.  I generally start between the two strands.  In the photo below you can see I have done this.  By the way, I used gigantic needles to knit these swatches so that the stitches would be easier to see. 

As a reminder, to do a Figure 8 join, you bring the needle up from the bottom to top either at the cast on edge on one side and then do the same on the other side.  You finish it off by bringing the needle up from bottom to top again in the EXACT same spot where you began.  The most common mistake is to start the mattress stitch on the first piece by inserting the needle from top to bottom and catching the first horizontal bar on the right side.  Remember, the mattress stitch takes THREE steps, not two.

Here is the completed Figure 8.  I then would begin the mattress stitch using that second strand of the cast on edge.  Again, I could have started above the two cast on strands. 

The second part of the knitter's question was where to finish up.  What do you do at the bind off?  If you look at the bind off edge, you can see the chained loops at the top.  You don't use those loops.  You end the seam using the horizontal strand directly under the bind off loops.  You might have to use a tapestry needle to futz with the bind off stitches to see this horizontal strand.  It can be hard to see.  The photo below shows these last stitches.

When you finish up the seam, you pull it tight.  The final step is to weave in the yarn tails.  When you do this, pay attention to the RS of the work to make sure that the edges are lined up.  (For the Masters Program, you weave in the yarn tail at the CO but leave the tail at the BO edge open.)

In the video I did for this tip, I show where to begin on both the smooth side and the bumpy side of the CO as it can look a little different.  Here is the video:  Seaming the CO and BO Edges

 was out of town last week but only one lesson arrived which I will get to today.  We took a short tour of the Midwest starting in Fort Collins, CO.  Unfortunately we go there too late and left too early

Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30-3:20.  

The chevron shawl is taking much less time than I thought!  I am almost done.  It is all wrinkled up as I had it stuffed in a backpack on my trip and I haven't woven in any edges.  The colors are pretty correct but they are much more vibrant in person.  Here is the back:  

Here is the front.  There is a decrease every ridge at the neck edge so it is getting smaller and smaller.  I hope to finish it this week. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Avoiding Ugly Bind Offs

The reorganization continues.  The new computer system to manage TKGA member records is wonderful.  I think everyone will be very pleased. 

The last print copy of Cast On went out this week.  Apparently some members did not get the email we sent in July announcing the formation of a new organization due to the management company's decision to dissolve TKGA.  I spent quite a bit of time answering emails from members who are very unhappy that there will not be a print issue.  We don't have a choice unless someone wants to donate $15K or so.  The sad truth is some peoples' default mode is to complain and be mad and generally they aren't very nice about it.  I am getting a lot of practice in diplomacy.

We used to list course completions in the magazine but we will start listing them in newsletter once the transition is complete.  I've been receiving lessons this week for review. 

I've noticed a problem in several of the lessons I reviewed recently--very tight bind offs.  When a bind off is too tight, it looks like this.

Notice how the top is pulled in.  When you bind off, you want it loose enough that when you block it, it looks like this:

In this swatch the corners can be squared off and the elasticity matches the cast on edge.  How this happens is that when you have slipped the first stitch over the stitch just knit, you pull the working yarn too tightly.  All this does is pull the yarn from the stitch you just bound off making it very tight.  This is an easy problem to solve...just use consistent tension when binding off.  Sometimes it is recommended that you use a larger needle.  This can help but if you are pulling the working yarn too tightly, it won't make much of a difference.

The other problem in the bind off is that the last stitch is oversized.  I've seen tons of tips devoted to this topic and most are pretty worthless or cause more issues than they fix.  The best solution I've seen for this is from Suzanne Bryan, a former co-chair of the Masters Committee.  She is a very analytical knitter.  Here is a link to her blog KnittingSuzanne.  To summarize the problem is that since there isn't a stitch to the left of the last stitch it can get oversized.  If you tighten up that stitch you can solve this problem.  Here is the link to my video on how to do this and how to avoid a tight bind off.  Ugly Bind Offs.

Salon will be on Sunday, September 4th from 1:30-3:20.  Hope you can make it!

The yarn for the Chevron Shawl arrived yesterday.  I love the colors.