Friday, February 8, 2019

Figure 8 Again

I've finally recovered from getting the Spring 2019 issue of Cast On out.  Today is the deadline for submissions for Summer.  It never ends!  After I make this post that is what I will be doing.

I took this video of George when he discovered the roving I'm using for the booties (see below).  I hope my friends don't mind a bit of cat spit.  I posted a longer version on Instagram.  He really is a sweetie.

Students News
Now that the holidays are over, I'm getting more and more lessons.  Keep up the great work.  The postal rates changed on January 27th.  Since I use Stamps.com, I actually prefer the way the new First Class postage is calculated.  Just a reminder for non-US students, please photograph your swatches, front and back, before you send them to me.  I keep them until the course is complete to keep the cost the same.

Tip of the Week
I've reviewed several finishing lessons and the same question has come up.  The Figure 8 method for beginning a seam causes all sort of problems.  I've done several entries on it before but I realized I need to focus more on exactly where to begin.  My method might be a little different but I've found it works quite well and it avoids the issue of rows not lining up.

You begin a Figure 8 in the cast on edge.  For my course and Masters work, you are required to use the long-tail cast on for these swatches which produces a smooth side of the cast on and a bumpy side.  It is completely up to the knitter to decide which side is the RS.  I almost always use the smooth side so that is what my demonstrations swatches have shown in the past but many of my students prefer the bumpy so I've done two sets of swatches. 

The long-tail cast on produces the first row of stitches and there are two strands of yarn below the stitch.  I use both of these strands in my seams and I start the Figure 8 in the lowest strand.  I do this as, in the past and I'm in a hurry, I have lined up the second strand on one side and the strand from the first row.  If you do this, the seam is slightly off and the rows don't line up.  If you take the time to use both of the strands in the seam, it happens less.  I see this all the time in my students' work.

The photos below show the Figure 8 on the smooth side and on the bumpy.  This video shows the technique.








Here are photos of the completed seams. 






I'll do another video soon on how to finish off the seam at the bind off edge.

Knitting Salon
Salon will be on Sunday from 2-4pm.

Current Projects
Here is the reason I didn't get any knitting done before Christmas...I don't know what I was thinking.  My New Years Resolution several years ago was to write patterns IMMEDIATELY after I finished something.  Well, I was so afraid I wouldn't make the photo shoot date, I held off on writing the patterns.  That was a very unpleasant experience I hope NEVER to repeat.





Now that all of that is done, I'm trying to get out the presents before I start working on the summer issue.  Everyone except my nephew is getting thrummed booties AND I am using yarn that has been in my stash for at least 10 years.  (That is this year's resolution, to make a dent in my stash for personal projects. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be buying more yarn!)  

Here are Martha's booties.  (They were accompanied by a bourbon tasting.)



Here are Nora, Stephanie and Christian's presents.  I used Carolyn Vance's pattern for the Swedish Block Scarf from the last issue of Cast On for Christian's scarf. 


I'm hoping to finish up the rest this week....















Sunday, January 6, 2019

Neater SSK Decreases

I apologize for not posting sooner but between travel, the holidays and the Spring issue of Cast On (see Current Projects) I haven't had much time.  I have really been knitting like mad to make the deadline for the photo shoot.

Student News
Quite a few people have signed up for the Basics course and several for the Finishing Course.  I haven't received many lessons yet but I expect an uptick now that the holidays are finally OVER!

Tip of the Week
I've had several students sent me links to videos show a new way to make neater SSK decreases.  This new method (I'm not going to put links in for this method as they all omit one rather important detail) is fine for your own projects but if you are working on the Masters Program the results of this technique are not acceptable.  

When you need to use mirrored decreases (to shape a neckline, for example) there is a problem.  K2tog produces a neat, right slanting decrease.  (It slants to the right since the stitch to the left is on top of the stitch to the right.)  Left slanting decreases aren't quite so neat and tidy.  When I first started knitting, the preferred technique is the SKP (and this is still the preferred technique in Britain and Japan).  Since just the first stitch is slipped and then passed over the second stitch, it often produces a very stretched out, large left slanting decrease (the stitch to the right is on top of the stitch to the left.)  A big improvement on SKP is the SSK since two stitches are slipped, the decrease is smaller.  How nice the SSK looks depends on your technique.  If you use just your needle tips and really baby it, you can get  a pretty good decrease.

One improvement over this technique that my students suggest is slipping just the first stitch when working the SSK.  Yes, this is does make the decrease slightly smaller but it twists the stitch to the left.  For decreases to be fully mirrored, they have to be the same type of decrease, that is untwisted or twisted.  A newer version of the same decrease is making the rounds now where you insert the needle into the first stitch and then into the back of the next stitch and then pull the yarn through both.  It produces the same result.  None of the videos I've seen make mention of the twisted stitch.  After teaching the Basics class for 10 years I have learned that many knitters cannot read their work and can't tell the difference until it is pointed out.

In the photo below I have worked a swatch using larger needles that I normally would.  If you look at the left side, I have worked a series of K2tog decreases.  On the right side I've worked SSK and variants so you can compare.

First look at the K2tog decreases.  Notice that the stitch to the left is on top of the stitch to the right AND that stitch is open at the bottom, that is not twisted.  That is what we are looking to match on the right side.

Look at the decrease on the right side with a 1 to the left.  I used just the standard technique for SSKs (which I demonstrate in the video) but I have used just my needle tips and really babied.  I must say, it looks pretty good.  When I worked the decrease labelled 2 I used a technique where on the row before the decrease row (the WS row) you wrap the stitches to be decreased the wrong way.  This alters their orientation on the needle.  When you slip the stitches for an SSK this is what you are doing so this technique skips that step.  Since they aren't slipped, they are less stretched out.
  It looks pretty much the same as the SSK where I babied the stitches.  Notice that the stitch to the left is open at the bottom and matches the K2tog.

Now look at the decrease labelled 3 and notice that it stands out more than the others.  The top stitch is twisted as well as the next stitch.  This happens if you don't slip the stitches knitwise before making the decrease.  Twisted stitches are tighter than regular stitches and have a different gauge which is why you generally avoid them unless you are working Bavarian patterns or come lace patterns.

The decreases labelled 4 and 5 use the techniques I mentioned above.  The second stitches are twisted.  If you look closely you can see that they do not match their counterparts on the opposite side of the swatch.


 

In the photo below I've placed arrows below the second stitches so you can see the twisted stitches and compare them.  This video demonstrates all of the techniques I've discussed here.




Knitting Salon
Salon will be today from 2-4 pm.  Despite my laziness in not posting I have had salon most every weekend.  Hopefully those coming today will help me get rid of all of the lovely chocolates left over from the holidays!

Current Projects
My holiday knitting never got done, or even started!  We start working on the Spring issue in November and it is ALWAYS a problem getting designs for this issue.  Knitters do not want to commit to extra knitting over the holidays (even when I try and guilt them into it!) What seems to happen every year is I wind up taking on more that I'd like so I have been knitting like a mad person to get these things done.  The worst part is that I've put off writing the patterns so the week after the photo shoot will be a horror show!  Not shown is a pair of knee high socks.  I'll photo them in my next entry along with (hopefully) very belated Christmas gifts.

This one is a cover up.  I envision it being worn over yoga clothes.




The Stitch Anatomy article is about elongated stitches. The bottom of the sweater & cuffs are the sea foam pattern.  The Special Topics in Finishing article is about sewing on buttons which I better read before I put on these buttons...




I loved Leslie's article on Puntas so I designed this top to use the intarsia technique but added the bottom border.  Puntas are really fun.  I plan to use them again.





This is the Confident Beginner garment to accompany the Skill Building article on WS decreases.  That lace at the bottom doesn't have any plain rows.  I love it.  Thank you Barbara Walker.




I think you can see I will be busy this week.  None of the yarn tails (except on the Puntas Top) have been woven in and I also have to knit those knee highs....