Friday, September 29, 2017

Flat Tubular Bind Off

I've been knitting like a fiend to make the deadline for the photo shoot.  What on earth possessed me to propose a poncho!  It is done and I am making good progress on the tunic but it will be a close thing.

Please photograph your swatches, front and back, before sending them.  There are two reasons for this.  I will email you my letter as soon as I review your work and, depending on where you live, it will take awhile to get the swatches.  Also, sometimes the swatches just don't arrive. 

One thing I've noticed lately in many of the swatches is how the selvedge stitches curl under and for the Masters Program we want them flat.  There are a lot of reasons for this.  It is a very good habit to develop.  Flat selvedges make finishing MUCH easier.  For the Masters swatches, it helps the knitter (and reviewers) see if there is a tension issue at the selvedges which is a common issue.  If you can't see it, you can fix it.

I took a close up photo of one of my current projects as it was blocking.

Notice that I've flattened out the selvedge stitch and pinned them at an angle so the edges will dry that way.  By the way, dental elastics mark the locations of decreases.  I am so bad at taking notes when I design that I've learned that writing the pattern is much easier when I "annotate" like this.

The poncho uses the tubular cast on and bind off techniques.  When I went to do the bind off I couldn't think of how to get started.  I checked my own videos and realized all of them show how to do this in the round since I use this technique mainly for socks or necklines.  This tip rectifies that omission.

The preparation for a tubular bind off is basically the same for both circular and flat knitting.  The stitches in two to four rows are alternately slipped.  If you are working flat, you generally work the knit stitches and slip the purl stitches with the yarn in front (provided you are working an even number of stitches) for all rows.  You can't do that for circular knitting.  On the first round you work the knit stitches and slip the purl stitches and reverse this for the next round.  Here is a link showing how to do this:  Preparing for Tubular Bind Off.

When you do the bind off in the round, you begin with a purl stitch and you can adjust your stitches so that a purl stitch is first.  For flat knitting the first stitch is generally a knit stitch and you can't just shift it to the right.  You have to work it separately.  To get started (after you've cut the yarn and threaded up a tapestry needle) you insert the tapestry needle knitwise into this stitch, pull the yarn tight and drop this stitch off the needle.  From here on the process is the same as for circular knitting.

Step 1--Insert the tapestry needle knitwise into the purl stitch.  Pull the yarn tight.

Step 2--Insert the tapestry needle purlwise into the knit stitch you dropped and into the knit stitch to the left of the purl stitch and pull the yarn tight.

Step 3--Insert the tapestry needle purlwise back into purl stitch and pull the yarn tight.  Drop the stitches from the needle.  You just repeat this until the end.

The video shows how you begin and end the bind off.  Here is the link:  Beginning and Ending Flat Tubular Bind Offs

I won't be having salon again this weekend.  Hopefully soon!

I finally finished the poncho.  You can wear it two ways.

I've finished the fronts and back of the tunic I'm doing.  It is going to have a duplicate stitch design so I'm not going to seam it until I've done that.  The sleeves will be picked and worked from the shoulder down.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Left Slanting Decreases

I had a nice visit with knitters working on the Masters Program at Stitches Midwest back in early August.  It was a longer drive than I thought, particularly since I only went up for one night.  I broke up the drive on the way there and back with a stop at the Albanese Candy Outlet in Indiana.  I have a weakness for Gummi Bears.  I have a few left from the 5 lb (!) bag I bought.

The official start of fall for me is when I start getting more lessons to review and new students signing up for courses.  Things have definitely picked up since the first of September.

The tip this week is prompted by what I have seen in several lessons.  Lesson 2 of the Basics class discusses decreases. Several students have had difficulty spotting the differences between left and right slanting decreases.  I've discussed this quite a bit in the past.  Here is a link to an earlier entry: Left and Right Slanting Decreases.

Another thing covered in the lesson is how to make left and right slanting decreases "match".  This is a problem for many knitters.  K2tog produces a small, neat decrease that slants towards the right.  The problem is with left slanting decreases.  They will NEVER EVER truly match a k2tog but you can work to make them as small and unobtrusive as possible.  To make this decrease you have to reorient the stitches to be decreased on the needle so that the decrease will not be twisted.  This is done by slipping them back to the needle which stretches them out.  An SKP decrease requires slipping one stitch and an SSK requires slipping two.  If you use just your needle tips you can minimize how much the stitch is stretched out.  In the photograph below, I have done that to make the decreases.  Notice that the SKP is larger than the SSK.  

A few years ago I was experimenting with this and it occurred to me that if you wrap a stitch the wrong way (under the needle for a purl stitch), this reorients the stitch on the needle.  I tried doing this to the two stitches to be decreased on the row before.  The trick is to remember to do this.   The other thing to avoid is wrapping the stitches too tightly.  This will make the decrease look pinched.  On the decrease row, knit the two stitches together using just the needle tips.  In the photograph I did this for the decrease on the top.  It is a bit smaller.  Here is a video showing all three methods:  Making Left Slanting Decreases

By the way, if you are doing the Masters Program, do not use the method where only the first stitch is slipped.  The stitch underneath is twisted and yes, this is visible.

I won't be having salon this weekend.  Stay tuned.

I've been working on a poncho for the Winter Cast On.  At TNNA this summer, they were showing a lot of cabled sweaters and ponchos/ruanas.  I decided to do a cabled poncho.  What was I thinking?  It is a lot of knitting.  I am almost finished with the first piece.  I'm using Kelbourne Fibers Arranmore Light which is wonderful to work with.  Here is a partial view.  The cables are meant to look like snakes.  They are random and asymmetrical.