Friday, February 16, 2018

Revisiting Ribbing

It has been a busy couple of weeks getting the Summer Cast On lined up.  Selecting the designs, contacting the yarn companies, getting contracts out, contacting yarn companies again, is quite a bit of work.  Since I'm doing a couple of garments, I'm also trying to fit in some knitting.

I managed to finish up the revisions to the Basics class.  I did not make major changes but I added a few things to make it line up more closely with what is covered in the Master Program.  I have included links to this blog for related topics which can save time for those putting together their references for Level 1.  I've included working a preliminary swatch and a couple of extra credit items.  I am HAPPY to send any former student the updated materials.  Also, since I do not enforce time limits, if it has been a couple of years and you would like to continue or have any questions, just send me an email at

This topic was inspired by a thread in the TKGA Ravelry group on ribbing.  A question that comes up frequently is if knitters can use smaller needles for the ribbing in Level 1.  The answer is no.  The reason for this is that most knitters' ribbing is very loose so dropping down a needle size or two can improve its appearance.  In the Masters Program we focus on figuring out why something happens and then finding a better solution. Yes, using smaller needles will help with ribbing but the reason the ribbing looks bad also makes any knit/purl combination stitch pattern (like seed stitch) or cables look bad and going down a needle size doesn't help there.

One knitter wanted to know the "rules" for going down a size.  Well, there aren't any.  You have to look at each project and examine the ribbing.  If it looks bad then you need to fix it.

The problem occurs when you transition from a knit to a purl stitch.  If you do not bring the yarn completely forward the excess creates a ladder.  Sometimes it can work back into the previous stitch.  The photo below shows an exaggerated example.  The white pin marks a column of stitches which do not match the column to the right.  The red pin shows ladders.   The easiest fix is to make sure that you bring the yarn forward completely.  This does NOT mean to yank the yarn forward and to pull it so tightly that you pull yarn from the stitches just knit.  That makes it look even worse.  It can take a bit of practice but it soon becomes a habit.  Next time you rib, look closely when you work the first purl and you will see what I mean.

This photo shows the same ribbing where I have taken care to bring the yarn completely forward.  Would using smaller needles help? Yes, but it really doesn't solve the underlying problem which is the excess yarn.  There would just be less of it.  Here is a videos showing this: Fixing your ribbing Actually the real reason I hardly ever use smaller needles for ribbing is it is pretty much a sure thing that I will forget to do so on the fronts or sleeve cuffs or somewhere else.  I do sometimes put it into my patterns to use smaller needles when I remember, particularly if the yarn is inelastic like cotton or linen.

The other thing I see in Lesson 1 of the Basics class is this:

So what is the problem?  The ribbing is fairly even but compare the size of the knit stitches in the ribbing to the stitches above.  The cause for this is the same...excess yarn between the stitches.  In the example below I've made an effort to fix it.  Is it perfect, no, but this is hand knitting.  This is one situation, IF IT BOTHERED ME (which it does not) that I might go down a needle size.

One time you may want to go down a needle size is when picking up stitches for a band or neckline, particularly if the yarn is inelastic.  There might be a gap between the edge and the band if the pick up stitches are loose which they frequently are.  Smaller needles can help this.  How do you know if you need to do this?  I am about to get on my Soap Box again.  If you save your gauge swatch you can use it to test out the band.  Work a few rows, then stand back and see if there is a gap.  It is a lot easier to test this out on a swatch rather than the front of a sweater.  

To sum up, there really aren't rules for this sort of thing.  Use your own judgment as a knitter (except for the swatches in the Masters Program).  Yes, you could use smaller needles.  The reviewers aren't watching you knit but the only person you are cheater is yourself.

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

Guess what this is?  Stay tuned.  It will all be made clear as I get further along.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mirroring Bar Increases

I've spent the week working on the Spring issue of Cast On.  It really is a ton of work.  I'm taking a few minutes break to do this entry and then back to WordPress.  I have most of the photographs from the photographer.  We should be able to go live this weekend if all goes well.

I had a day after uploading all of the patterns and articles where I was waiting for photographs.  I took the time to start the revisions on the Basics course.  I've finished Lesson 1.  First of all, I haven't added any new swatches.  Most of the changes are to the reference section.  I am having the students knit a preliminary stitch to make the materials more in line with Level 1 of the Masters and I've added an Extra Credit swatch.  As soon as I've finished Cast On, I will revise Lessons 2 and 3 as well. 

As always, if you are a student or have taken the class in the past I will be HAPPY to send you the new files when they are finished.  For students who have just signed up and not started yet, I'm going to send them the new Lesson 1 and they have the choice of whether to do the preliminary swatch or not.  Please just email me at for more information. 

After reviewing the Basics class I realized that there was an omission.  I never discussed using bar increases (or kf&b) for garment shaping.  The reason is I never use these.  The bar increase leaves a purl bump as part of the increase.  There is usually a small hole at the base as well.  It is very noticeable and I prefer lifted increases for my own projects.  However, this use of the bar increase is covered in the Masters Program so I've added this use to the reference information and an extra credit swatch. 

The swatch below shows bar increases.  The increases label "A" were made in the first and last stitches.  If a project is to be seamed or have stitches picked up along the selvedge DON'T EVER do this.  It makes finishing more difficult and the final result looks "homemade" rather than "handmade".  It is fine to do this for shawls and scarves but not for an edge which will be finished.

To make a bar increase you knit into the front of the stitch and then into the back.  When you knit into the back you create the bar.  This makes mirroring bar increases more difficult.  If you look at "C" in the photograph above, notice that the selevedge stitch and two stitches are before the purl bump.  The increase was worked IN the 3rd stitch from the edge but the results appear AFTER the 3rd stitch. Now look at B.  There is one stitch and the selvedge stitch after the purl bump. The increase was worked IN the 3rd stitch from the edge and the purl bump appears AFTER that stitch. The increases are not mirrored.  When you look at a project where this is done, it draws the eye and not in a good way.

"D" shows mirrored bar increases.  To use bar increases in this situation, if you want the selevedge stitch and a knit stitch before the increase, work the increase in the first stitch after the selvedge on the right side.  On the left side, work in the the 3rd stitch from the edge.

The video shows how to do this as well.  Mirroring Bar Increases

Salon will be on Sunday, February 4th at 1:30 to 3:20.

Today is the deadline for proposals for the Summer 2018 issue.  I'm working on personal projects--texting gloves for me and a hat.  The yarn is from Anzula.  The hat uses Ava and the gloves use Cloud.  The color is Red Shoe.  Normally something like this would take me a day or so but I have had NO time to knit.  I've been chained to my computer.