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Intro to Entrelac May 30, 2014

Filed under: fixing,how to,New pattern,Yarn review — Hannah Cuviello @ 10:26 am
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I love striping yarns; they’re exciting, surprising, adventurous. I do, however, frequently find myself struggling to match them to a project because, when it comes down to it…I don’t really like….stripes. all that much. *sighs*

Don’t get me wrong, stripes are great, but I really, really need to be in control of them when I knit them. If I put stripes on something, I generally want to know beforehand exactly where they are going to go, what color they are going to be and how long they are going to last. (Socks are the exception to this, however, there are rare times when I am not in the mood to knit socks, or when all my sock needles have other sock projects on them.)

Note that the two preceding paragraphs present concepts that are largely antithetical. This is not lost on me. I enjoy the sense of spontaneity required in letting go and just allowing the stripes to happen as they will, but when it comes down to it, I am often disappointed with the finished item. The upshot is that I often end up beginning and then ripping out projects with striping yarns several times before just giving up and knitting…Entrelac.

If you are not familiar with it, entrelac is a knitting technique that involves creating a network of squares, rectangles, and/or triangles that are attached to each other. The end fabric looks something like this:

Entrelac in ZauberballThis bit of green loveliness is knit in Zauberball Crazy, of which, we currently have several new colors. Because the fabric is worked in a series of small squares, the striping is broken up, and, as if by magic, wherever the colors land, it generally looks pretty amazing.

Recently, I knit a fantastic entrelac shawl pattern for my LYS (available from Eva Martinsson on Ravelry).

Image

Shawl knit from Eva Martinsson’s Entrelac Shawl with Tassels pattern.

As often happens when a sample is knit for a shop, our customers decided that they really wanted to knit it (of course, that’s the point). What followed was a Summer of, “Um…where am I in this pattern?”, “Which way am I going?”. Now, don’t misunderstand, the pattern is perfectly fine. In fact, I have knit a second one since (the green pick above) and will probably knit another. Entrelac involves interacting with your knitting in a different sort of way than we are used to, and this pattern in particular puts a little bit of a spin on the technique. As a result, people who had not previously knit entrelac, but who wanted to knit that shawl, often found themselves a bit lost. What follows is an introduction to the basic concepts involved in entrelac knitting, as well as some examples of places where you might wonder something like “which way am I going?” and explanations of how to figure that out.

Before we begin, though, I would like to point out some of my favorite yarns for knitting entrelac. First, off, while you can certainly knit entrelac with any yarn, I prefer self-striping yarns. In fingering weight, we have Zauberball and Zauberball Crazy. These are my particular favorites. We also have Noro Silk Garden Sock and just a little bit of Kureyon Sock left. If you want something heavier, we have Noro Kureyon (only a few colors, but a sweater’s worth in some of them) and Cascade Casablanca. For heavier projects still, we have Rowan’s Colourscape Chunky. So many to choose from!

Now, on to entrelac!

Entrelac swatchHere is your basic entrelac swatch. Note: because it is fairly narrow, there is still a fairly robust striping pattern. In a wider project, the stripes will be more broken up, and we will see all sorts of interesting color play happening, as in the shawl above.

The following explanation will consist of:

1. The building blocks of entrelac and how they relate to each other in space.

2. The actual pattern instructions. These are very basic instructions and may differ from other patterns you have encountered in one or two ways (different increases or decreases). The basic idea, however, is the same.

3. The recipe for entrelac. Entrelac is based on a very specific series of steps. We can modify these steps to make our projects different sizes and shapes.

4. “Where am I?” – examples of situations that might give you pause and explanations of how to reason your way out of them.

Now, having worked in yarn stores for about 10 years, I know that people learn different ways which, as I often say, is OK. For some people, reading an overview of structure is not helpful. If this is you, feel free to skip right to #2 and follow the instructions. Then, if you want, you can come back and read the description of what you just did. If you like to know what you are doing before you start, full steam ahead!

1. Building Blocks of Entrelac

We generally think of knitting in terms of rows and stitches. With entrelac, we add two more levels of organization: Rectangles/triangles (which consist of rows and stitches) and tiers (which consist of rectangles/triangles).

The different elements:

Base Triangles: These are the triangles that line to bottom of your work (orange in the picture above). In the swatch above and in the instructions below, the stitches of the base triangles lean to the left. Take a look below to see what I mean.

entrelac_direction

Tier 1 leans to the left, tier 2 to the right, tier 3 to the left, etc.

Each base triangle begins and ends with a RS row (note that this means there is an odd number of rows). These triangles make up Tier 1.

Left Edge Triangle: You can see this little fellow on, well, the left edge of the picture above. Notice that he leans to the right. Also note that, when I say “left edge”, I mean when you are looking at the RS of your work. (Oh boy…) At the risk of sounding like an Abbot and Costello routine, I do want to point out, that when you are starting your Left Edge Triangle, you will begin with a WS row and to it will actually appear that you are working on the right edge. When in doubt, look at the RS of your work. This is the side with the knit stitches facing.

Right Leaning Rectangles: These rectangles, along with the left and right edge triangles, comprise your Tier 2 and all even numbered tiers. The stitches for these are picked up along the right edge (looking at the RS) of your base triangles (or the rectangles from the previous tier later on). You pick up stitches for these from the wrong side, and knit your first row on the RS. You will always end these rectangles on a WS row. **You don’t have to memorize this rule because the knitting will tell you what you have to do.**

Right Edge Triangle: This is the last blue arrow on the swatch above and the last element of Tier 2. It begins and ends with a RS row.

Left Leaning Rectangles: The stitches for these rectangles are picked up along the left edge of your Tire 2 (or even tier) elements, with the RS facing. The actual rectangle begins with a WS row and ends with a RS row.

Top Triangles: These line the upper edge of the piece, creating a smooth (rather than jagged) top. Sts are picked up on the RS. Each Triangle begins with a WS row and ends with a RS row (more or less)

How they relate to each other:

  I mentioned that the stitches for some elements are picked up from the edge of other elements. Here is what that looks like (sort of).

entre-PickUpAs shown above, the picking up happens from left to right for even numbered tiers. Remember, though that that is from the RS perspective. I mentioned above that we pick up stitches for Right Leaning Rectangles from the WS. Thus, we are actually working from right to left, but looking at the wrong side. Yikes.

Here’s another picture. This shows the direction of knitting within each rectangle and tier.

Entrelac_arrowsDoes that help?

I think that’s enough abstract spatial reasoning for now. Let’s just do some knitting.

2. Basic Entrelac Instructions

Tier 1: Base Triangle

CO a multiple of 8 stitches.

R1: K1, turn.

*It may feel strange to turn while you still have sts on the LH needle, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.

R2: P1, turn.

R3: K2, turn.

R4: P2, turn.

R5: K3, turn.

R6: P3, turn.

R7: K4, turn.

R8: P4, turn.

R9: K5, turn.

R10: P5, turn.

R11: K6, turn.

R12: P6, turn.

R13: K7, turn.

R14: P7, turn.

R15: K8, do not turn.

You have now completed one triangle. It looks kind of funny.

entrelac1

There are currently 8 sts on your RH needle. You will now ignore these sts.

Repeat Rows 1-15 once. Note that you are working on the next group of 8 sts. When you are done with the second set, you will have two groups of 8 sts on your RH needle, separated by a gap.

entrelac2

Continue repeating Rows 1-15 until you end up with no sts on your LH needle after Row 15. Tier 1 is complete. This is the point where first time entrelac knitters usually say, “That can’t be right!” and tear it out. Don’t do that!

It should look like this:

entrelac3

Moving on…

Tier 2: Left Edge Triangle, Right Leaning Rectangles, Right edge Triangle

Left Edge Triangle:

R1 (WS): P2, turn.

R2: K2, turn.

R3: Pfb, p2tog, turn. (Note that your ‘p2tog’ consisted of one st from your row and one st from the previous base triangle. On every WS row, you will be “using up” one of the sts from the group of 8 sts immediately to the left of your current sts. There will always be 8 sts in the immediate vicinity of where you are working; some will be from your current group, some will be from the previous tier.)

Two sts on the RH needle are from Pfb; two sts on the left will be purled together.

Two sts on the RH needle are from Pfb; two sts on the left will be purled together.

entrelac4b

R4: K3, turn.

R5: Pfb, p1, p2tog, turn.

R6: K4, turn.

R7: Pfb, p2, p2tog, turn.

R8: K5, turn.

entrelac5

The sts of the new section, plus the sts of the closest section from the previous tier should always add up to 8.

R9: Pfb, p3, p2tog, turn.

R10: K6, turn.

R11: Pfb, p4, p2tog, turn.

R12: K7, turn.

R13: Pfb, p5, P2tog, do not turn.

The edge triangle is now complete. There are 8 sts (the sts of the edge triangle) on your right hand needle; ignore them. Place a marker on your RH needle, to mark the boundary between the sts you have just finished with and the next section. You will probably not need this marker after a couple more rows.

 

Right Leaning Rectangle

With WS facing, pick up and knit 8 sts along the adjacent edge of the triangle from the previous tier.

entrelac7

If you find it easier, you can do this with the RS facing, picking up from left to right (if you find this easier, I’m guessing you are probably left handed).entrelac6

entrelac8

2 sts have just been picked up. Notice that the marker indicates the boundary between the sts of the previous section and the sts that you have just picked up.

Once the stitches are picked up, turn your work so that the RS is facing.

R1: K8, turn. (You have just knit to the marker. Soon, there will be a big gap between the sts of this rectangle and the sts of the edge triangle – which we are ignoring- rendering the marker unnecessary.)

R2: P7, p2tog, turn. (Note: your p2tog consists of one of the picked up sts and a sts from one of the groups of 8 from a previous tier.)

Repeat these two rows a total of 8 times; do not turn after the last rep of R2. At this point, there will be not more sts readily available for your p2tog. This is one way that your knitting can help you figure out what to do. If there are no more sts for your p2tog, it’s time to pick up again.

Repeat the process (from the beginning of the Right Leaning Rectangle section) until all the sts from the previous tier have been used up and there are no sts left on your LH needle after your last p2tog.

Right Edge Triangle

This is the last piece of Tier 2. Pick up 8 sts as before, this time along the last remaining available edge, and turn work so that you are looking at the RS.

R1(RS): K8, turn.

R2 (and all WS rows): Purl to 2 sts before end, p2tog.

R3 (and all RS rows): Knit to end of triangle sts (there will be a big gap before the sts of the previous rectangle), turn.

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 until only one sts remains. This stitch will stay on the RH needle and be the first of your next group of 8 sts.

Tier 2 Complete! Yay!

Tier 3: Left Leaning Rectangles

After all the hullabaloo of Tier 2, Tier 3 is relatively easy.

With RS facing and 1 st already on your RH needle, pick up and knit 7 sts from the adjacent edge.

R1 (WS): P8, turn.

R2: K7, ssk, turn. (Note: the ssk consists of one picked up st and one of the 8 sts from the previous tier’s rectangles).

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until all sts of previous rectangle have been used up.

Repeat this process (picking up 8 sts along subsequent edges) until all groups of 8 sts have been used up and there are no more sts on the LH needle.

Tier 3 accomplished!

Now, repeat Tiers 2 and 3 until your piece is long enough, ending on Tier 2.

Top Triangles

One st remains on RH needle from last triangle; this counts as first picked up st. Pick up and knit 7 more sts (8 sts total).

R1 (WS): P8, turn.

R2: Ssk, k5, ssk, turn.

R3: P7, turn.

R4: Ssk, k4, ssk, turn.

R5: P6, turn.

R6: Ssk, k3, ssk, turn.

R7: P5, turn.

R8: Ssk, k2, ssk, turn.

R9: P4, turn.

R10: Ssk, k1, ssk, turn.

R11: P3, turn.

R12: Ssk, ssk, turn.

R13: P2, turn.

R14: Sssk, turn.

R15: P1, turn.

R16: Ssk, do not turn.

Repeat from beginning of top triangle section until all sts on LH needles are used up and only one st remains on RH needle. BO remaining st.

3. Recipe for Entrelac

So there we go. You can use these instructions to make a scarf or shawl. Now, you might wonder, how wide can I make this shawl or scarf? What if I want my rectangles to be bigger?

The second question is the easiest to answer. Remember how you cast on a multiple of 8 for the practice swatch? And then, you always started each section with 8 picked up sts? And the number 8 just kept showing up everywhere, like in the very last row of your base triangle instructions? Well, that “8” can be any number you want, all you have to do is continue working in the pattern established in the instructions.

As for the second question, you will adjust your cast on  to get your scarf/shawl/wrap to whatever width you want. You may have to do some swatching to figure out how many more sts to cast on, though.

 4. Where am I?

Earlier in the post, I made certain wild claims that entrelac fabric can actually give you very useful clues about where you are in the pattern.  I have put together some examples of questions people have brought to me in the past and how we talked our way through them.

First:

WhereAmIYou can’t really see it in this picture, but the yarn is coming off the right hand needle, so we know that we are on a WS row, or just getting ready to turn.

How do we know which one it is? Let’s have a look at the RS.

Note: when in doubt, I like to look at the RS, just because I find it a little easier to get my bearings. In general, it is never a bad thing to just pause and take a look at the big picture of your knitting. It is really easy to get lost in the little details, but often, when you take a look at what is surrounding the details, things become a little clearer.

WhereAmI2Once I’ve turned things around, I look at my groups of sts. I have a group of 8 (which is to be expected), a group of 7, and a group of 9. Notice that they all add up to a multiple of 8 (my magic number for this swatch). Any time you have 3 distinct groups of sts in the immediate vicinity of each other, they will consist of the following:

The sts you are currently working on (your current section).

The sts of the section you just finished.

The sts of the adjacent section from the previous tier.

The trick is to figure out which one is which. Well, clearly, the middle section (7 sts, plus one on the other needle) are your current sts. We know this because there are very close to the picked up edge, as opposed to the other groups, which have whole sections attached to them. The sts to the right (the group of 9, although one of those belongs to the current section) are the same color as the current sts. This indicates that these are from the section that you just finished knitting. That means that the group furthest to the left in the picture above are from a previous tier.

So now we know what’s what. How do we know what to do? We know that we have to get that 8th st into the center section. The question is, do we purl on and turn, (remember that we are actually on a WS row), or do we p2tog. We need to figure out if we are working on a right leaning or left leaning rectangle. Look at the 8 sts from the previous tier rectangle; their rectangle is leaning to the right. Just next to it is another rectangle leaning to the right. That is the rectangle that we picked up our current sts from. This means that we are currently working on a left leaning rectangle. Now, look at the instructions for the left leaning rectangle (repeated hear for your convenience):

R1 (WS): P8, turn.

R2: K7, ssk, turn. (Note: the ssk consists of one picked up st and one of the 8 sts from the previous tier’s rectangles).

Well, on the WS rows, we just purl, with not decreases at all, so when we see this:

WhereAmI

we know we need to purl one more (to complete the 8) and then turn.

What about this?

 

What happened?

What happened?

This happens all the time, so if you find yourself in this situation, know that at least you are in good company.

You are working on a left leaning rectangle. See that line of Ssk’s that are eating up the sts of the previous tier? Notice that you have just knit past them. You just got a little carried away and forgot to ssk and turn. To fix this, undo the last 6 knits, ssk and then turn.

And what about this?

What Happened?

What Happened?

This is a little bit more involved. Again, we are on a left leaning rectangle, specifically, at the end of a RS row. Normally, we should be doing a decrease here, but what is this?

Whathap2We appear to have decreases on both sides! Also, the section on the right has only 7 sts.

On the last WS row, I accidentally did a p2tog, then turned. I need to undo this whole row (8 sts, including the decrease), turn and then work the RS row of my rectangle.

There we go! everything is fixable. The important thing, though is to catch mistakes like these as soon as possible. We do this by taking time to stop and look at the project as we go along. Note: this is it’s own reward, since our projects are very pretty.

Do you have an entrelac project that is stuck? Send me a pic and we’ll see if we can get it figured out!

Have fun!

 

Like Magic… February 29, 2012

Filed under: how to,New pattern,Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 8:06 pm

Lately, I have been spending a little more time than usual crocheting. In part, I was inspired by a particularly fun Crochet Class I had the honor of teaching a couple of weekends ago (8 new crocheters in the world; woohoo!). Also, I happened to have had a ridiculously cute crochet project on my list of 30.

You may be happy to know that the list is now 28. Boo-yah.

Note that I did not design this adorable creature; it is a Ravelry download by Dawn Toussaint.

I have, however, written up a very simple crocheted beanie pattern (I wouldn’t call it “Design”, but I did do the typing, anyway).

I recently discovered that all my husband ever wanted was a crocheted beanie.  The discovery process went like this:

Husband: I would like a hat, please.

Me: I would love to make you a hat!

Husband: Could it be just a plain hat with a plain edge?

Me: (makes stockinette hat with rolled edge)

Husband: I love my hat, but could it have a different kind of edge?

Me: (starts hat with ribbed edge)

Husband: Hmmm…no, just a plain edge. My friend has one I really like; I want one just like his.

*Meet with friend, discover that coveted hat is a crocheted beanie*

He is very happy with it.

Both the hat above and the unicorn are crocheted in spirals. Now, I am generally a discrete rounds kind of girl*, but I discovered through the process of crocheting this hat that spirals are really a wonderful way to show off handpainted yarns, like Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted  (used for the hat above).

*When I refer to spirals vs discrete rounds, it has to do with the process of ending and beginning a round in crochet. When you crochet a spiral, you don’t do anything different at the end of the round; you just keep crocheting on top of the previous round. If you were to crochet stripes using the spiral method, you would get a jog at the end of the round when you switch from one color to another. When you crochet in discrete rounds (at least that’s what I call it), you begin the round with a chain to bring the yarn up to the height of the new round. When you get to the last stitch, you slip stitch in the first crochet of the round to close it off.

Anyway, as I was saying…

Both these patterns also start off with a Magic Ring.*

*Not the kind that makes you invisible.

The Magic Ring, (or “Magic Circle” or “Magic Loop”) is an adjustable ring. into which you make the sts of your first round. It takes the place of instructions like, “Ch5, slst in first chain to form ring”. Now, we just say, “Make Magic Ring”.

Here, in painstaking detail, is what that looks like:

You with me so far?

So here is the big secret: the “Magic Ring” is just a slip knot that you don’t tighten. Why didn’t we just say that in the first place?!

That said, let us continue. So you have this slip knot that you haven’t tightened…

From here, I imagine that most of you can figure your way to the beginning of your crochet project. Just for good measure, though, I will include the next few steps.

The number of single crochets you make in the ring will be determined by your pattern. The number will, however, very frequently be 6 (or 5 or 8). In the picture below, I have done 6 single crochets (the thing at the very end that looks like a 7th st is the chain I made in step 8).

   Since we’re on the subject, I might as well keep going (I’ll have a whole hat by the end of this post…not really).

If you choose to crochet in a spiral, it is quite helpful to keep track of where you round begins and ends. I do this with a piece of yarn.

Now you have all the skills you need to make a simple crocheted beanie.

This tutorial has been brought to you by the letter G:

and by the color “Franklin’s Panopticon”:

I hope you’ve had fun. With any luck, the next time you hear from me I will have only 27 unfinished projects.

 

In Case You Missed It… January 16, 2012

Filed under: how to,New pattern,Yarn Pics,Yarn review — Hannah Cuviello @ 8:17 pm

About a year ago, I think that I made some foolishly brash comment about blogging more frequently in 2011. I suppose that I should have known better. I have the best intentions…really I do.

I think that this year, I will make no such empty promises. Instead, I will start off the year (or the third week of it anyway) by posting some of the picture tutorials that made it into my newsletters (note that this is a link to where you can sign up to receive said newsletters).  Some of these may exist in a previous blog somewhere, so if there are repeats, I’m very sorry!

What follows is a modest collection of technique tutorials for knitting and crochet.

Crochet Puff Stitch

From the Summer Newsletter, this is a fun little stitch I used in the upper border for my Sun People Market Bag.

The finished product in context looks like this:

Shortly thereafter (several weeks actually, since I send out newsletters only slightly more frequently than I post to my blog), I put together a little how-to for Thrumming (totally fun and ever-so-cozy, if you haven’t tried it before).

Thrumming: The Basics

Step 1 is the preparation of the Thrum.

Step 2 is the inserting of the Thrum into the knitting.

I used this technique in my Thrummed Scraper Mitt, an item for which I have been extremely grateful in the past several weeks (no snow on the ground since October, but plenty of ice encasing my windshield).

Speaking of snow…

In December, I began to have temper tantrums about not having any snow on the ground and put together a little pattern in honor the the snow I did not have. This pattern used…

The Picot Cast On

This was the edging for my Snowflakes that Stay cowl.

Incidentally, I used a lace weight, sequined mohair blend for this cowl and I love it quite a lot. I’m not sure how to feel about that, since I normally avoid sequins if at all possible. It’s just so shiny. So sparkly…

Still on a cowl kick in the middle of December, I proceeded to post this cowl, again using a fun and interesting cast on.

i-Cord Cast On

And here it is in action.

The yarn I used here is Mirasol Sulka, which I love. We had just recently received several new colors, and this pattern was a little celebration in honor of them.  Also, I was very cold. In fact, I don’t know that I have taken that cowl off since then.*

*Actually, I have taken it off. Once or twice.

For the record, we still do not have snow on the ground, and they have been promising it all week. Even Portland has snow. Portland!

I feel like I must be missing some tutorials, so I will be digging around in my computer for more and will post them (some day), when I find them.

  For the immediate future, look forward to a shocking tell-all confessional regarding unfinished and recently started projects, the goal of which will be to shame me encourage me to finish some of them.

 

Sew Its Seams January 23, 2011

Filed under: Garter Stitch Seams,how to,knitting theory,Seaming — Hannah Cuviello @ 6:35 pm

(Snicker, snicker)

I love the New Year; it’s so full of opportunities to do all the things I didn’t do last year. I’m also a huge proponent of New Year’s Resolutions Lists…mostly because I would be lost without lists. I don’t know if you have noticed this about me…but I’m a little scatter brained. Not in a bad way! Usually, actually, in a very amusing way. A putting the remote control in the freezer kind of way. A leaving my keys in the door kind of way. Without lists, I would be completely lost and would, consequently never get anything done. Never. Ever.

I especially love the satisfying feeling of checking something off my list. It’s so encouraging. That is why my New Year’s Resolution List will never contain something like, “Eat healthier” or “Keep the house clean.”  How do I check that off? I won’t know I’ve done it until January of next year. I will have lost my list by then anyway.   My New Year’s resolutions list usually contains small, manageable tasks that I just didn’t get around to last year. It’s more of a New Year’s To-Do list, really. So far, this year’s list contains:

Write Tunisian Crochet Blog (check!)

Rephotograph Cascade 220 superwash (check!)

Write Seaming Blog (check!)

Write the rest of the Ways of Knitting posts … (no check yet)

Take down Christmas Tree (almost check!)

Make Afghan

Start Charity Knitting Project

Plus a few other choice tasks, all easily manageable if I can just remember about them long enough to get them done.

Today’s post has to do with three of the above Resolution Tasks, namely, “Make Afghan” and “Write Seaming post” and “Start Charity Knitting Project”.  You see, I am quite fond of Afghans…especially in January.  I am particularly fond of afghans that are knit in many small, manageable squares (each square is a check mark on my To-Do list!).  I am even more pleased when each square is different and interesting in its own way. For this reason, I am drawn to XRX’s Series of Great American Afghan books (including Great American Afghan, Great American Aran Afghan, and Great North American Afghan).

We have several of these afghans in my house and are getting started on a brand new Great North American Afghan (colors as yet undecided).

Now, I can imagine what some of you out there are thinking. You like the idea of an afghan where each square provides new, engaging designs and techniques, but you just aren’t into sewing together all those squares. I know how you feel. I used to be firmly in the “I’m a knitter, not a sewer” camp and was determined to knit only top-down or otherwise seamless garments. Then I sat down and learned how to do it right…and you know what? It turns out that it is supremely satisfying to produce a beautifully seamed piece of knitting. It’s just as satisfying as checking a whole slew of things off a list.

Today, we are going to talk about seaming. Specifically, we are going to look at the kind of seaming that would be involved were you to make one of the above mentioned afghans…Garter Stitch seaming.

Very cleverly, the publishers of the American Afghan books required all the designers to give their squares tidy garter stitch borders, simplifying the seaming process tremendously. That said, there are still three different kinds of garter stitch seams you will encounter, should you knit these afghans.

1. Seaming up the edges of Garter rows (this one is easy!).

2. Seaming along bound off or cast on edges of Garter.

3. A mix; seaming a bound off edge to the edges of rows.

Let’s start with what is often considered the easiest of the three.Garter stitch, you may have noticed, is made up of ridges of alternating knit and purl rows (this describes the finished look, not necessarily how you come by it). Along the edges, you will notice handy little bumps, which correspond to the purl row ridges.

Each edge bump actually consists of two interlocking bumps; a lower bump and an upper bump.

When seaming Garter edges, you will insert the weaving needle through the lower bumps on one side of the seam and the upper bumps on the other side, alternately.

Go back and forth from one side to the other, until you have something like this:

When seaming, I will usually make several passes before pulling the thread tight and closing the seam. I find it easier to get into the bumps when the seam is still loose. Also, I love pulling the seam tight with a satisfying zip. Just be careful not to wait too long or it will become rather difficult.

Normally, of course, you would sew the seam with yarn that matched one of your squares.

Wasn’t that easy?

Number two takes a little bit more scrutiny of the knitting, but is, I think, still not too bad.

Just under the bound off edge of your square, you will see the little V’s of your stitches (they’re right above the upper bumps). To seam this edge, insert the needle behind both legs of one of those V’s.

On the other side of the seam, you will find much the same thing.

Do you see the little legs? They are right above the bump from the cast off (a cast on edge will look rather similar and be treated the same way).Insert your needle under the legs of a stitch on the bottom square, then under the legs of a stitch on the top square. Go back to the bottom square and move on to the next stitch.

If you can do these, sewing seams that include both edges will be just as easy. On the side with ridge bumps, insert your needle under the bumps (in this case, I actually go under both the top and bottom bump); on the cast off side, go under the legs of the V’s.

Alternate between the two edges as before and pull tight.

Sometimes you will have squares that aren’t exactly the same size a their neighbors. In this event, you can skip a stitch now and then on the side that is longer (I’m afraid I was not feeling quite thorough enough to take pictures of that for you. I’m sorry.)

So…are those afghans feeling a little more approachable now? Do you feel inspired?

Perhaps you would enjoy the experience of knitting these fun and enlightening squares, but  feel a little “no-thank-you” about seaming, let me offer an alternative.  We at Abundant Yarn are big fans of a program called Project Linus. This wonderful organization collects handmade blankets and afghans and distributes them to children who are ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. Should you feel like you would like to knit some squares, but don’t want to seam them, send them to us. We will be happy to sew them together for you. Then we will send them to Project Linus.

Actually, I will be writing (very, very soon) another post, completely dedicated to our upcoming official afghan square drive, with all the details you could possible want. Until then, I leave you with the tools to finish any garter stitch afghans you may happen to have lying around.

Happy Seaming!

 

 

 

Why I Love Tunisian Crochet… January 2, 2011

Filed under: designs,how to — Hannah Cuviello @ 3:12 pm

“Why, I love Tunisian Crochet!”

Those of you who receive my newsletters may recall a promise I made several weeks back regarding blog posts about Tunisian Crochet, to the effect that there would be some very soon. Clearly, I lied. But better late than never, right? We can call this the first installment in my “actually write all the blog posts I’ve promised to various people” resolution.

Today’s thesis: Tunisian Crochet is awesome! Really.

Now some of you may have pretty fixed ideas about the uses of Tunisian (or Afghan) crochet. True, Tunisian crochet is frequently associated with stiff, itchy, acrylic afghans your Grandma made in the 60’s and 70’s.

(Note: this lovely afghan was actually crocheted in solid white. All the colorwork is embroidered!) I will never make this afghan because I don’t hate myself am not very skilled at embroidery. That said, some of my favorite afghans are actually Tunisian crochet.

But it can really be so much more! Tunisian crochet is a fast, simple way to play with mixing colors and textures. It creates a fabric with structure, perfect for outer wear with a tailored look. With the right gauge, though, it can still have a graceful drape.

For example, I have recently designed the Aspenglow Jacket for Interweave Crochet (“Toot, toot” goes my own horn).

I only mention it because today I am going to go over the basics of the Tunisian crochet stitch as well as the color changing and cabling techniques that are used in this cardigan. There will be a little review for those who subscribe to our newsletter.

Let’s start with the basics. You will need a crochet hook and some yarn. Today’s featured yarn is Imperial Stock Ranch Lopi. You can use an afghan hook if you want, but if you are just following along at home to get a feel for it, you can use a regular hook with a smooth, consistent body shape. Once you have decided that you absolutely love Tunisian Crochet, you can invest in some special hooks:

I particularly like these hooks with long cables; I find them easier to manipulate and, were I to make an afghan, I could more easily fit all the stitches.

I imagine that most of you (even you knitters!) have made a crocheted chain at least once. If not, there are numerous resources out there. Your chain has a distinct front and back to it. On the front, you see a row of interlocking V’s with top leg and a bottom leg. On the back, you see rows of bumps. Now, this is largely a matter of personal preference, but when I insert my hook into the chain, I usually go into the back bump. It is pretty easy to see and I end up with a nice, neat row of V’s along the bottom of my work.

If you are following along, insert the hook into the bump of the first chain stitch, yarn over and pull the hook back through. See below.

Leaving the new loop on the hook, repeat for each chain bump across. You should end up with a hook full of loops. This is the first half of your foundation row (vocab word).

To begin the second half of the foundation row, chain one (YO, pull through one loop), then yarn over and pull through the next two loops on the hook (step 2 above). Repeat Step 2 only until there is only one loop on the hook. Your foundation row is now complete. Good job!

From now on, each row will consist of two parts, an over and a back. This first part of each row (the over) is called the Forward Pass (FwdP).

You may notice that one of the most visually prominent parts of each stitch is a vertical strand of yarn. Begin the FwdP by inserting the hook behind the vertical strand (shown above). Yarn over and pull back through. This is your first Tunisian Simple Stitch (Tss). Repeat this process for every vertical strand across.

The second part of the row is the Return Pass (RetP). This is exactly the same as the second part of the foundation row; Chain one then yarn over, pull through two the rest of the way across.

If you keep at it long enough, you will have something like this:

Three rows of Tunisian Simple Stitch

So there we have the basics. You can now make a giant Tunisian Crochet afghan.

And if you would like to stripe your afghan?

On the row before you start you new color, work your RetP until you have two loops left on the hook.

Execute your last “Yarn Over, pull through two” using the new color.

I imagine that you can take it from here, but just for good measure, complete the FwdP with the new color.

If you would like single row stripes, RetP until there are two loops left on the hook, change back to your first color as before.

This approach gives you nice, neat stripes. Myself, I prefer to mix it up a little.

One of my favorite things about Tunisian Crochet is the woven-looking texture you get from the opposing vertical and horizontal lines. By adjusting where we do our color changes, we can get rows where the horizontal and vertical lines are in opposite colors. To begin, work the FwdP with one color (Color A). When you get to the end, make your chain one with your other color (Color B).

Work your RetP and the FwdP of the next row with Color B.

After a few rows, you’ll start to get the feel of how the colors blend and merge.

I think it’s pretty nifty. The Aspenglow Jacket (above) uses a variegated color of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted against semi-solid for a sort of random, speckled effect.

At this point, to be honest, you have almost all the skills you need to make this jacket. The missing piece is creating the surface texture. For this, we combine our fancy new Tunisian Crochet technique with some tried and true crochet stitches. Specifically, we will be using a Double Crochet (dc), which you may have met before, or rather a Front Post Double Crochet (fpdc), which is really very similar.

Begin with an initial Yarn Over, as you would for a dc (note: I am using primarily American terminology; Canadian and European crocheters may call it something different).

Once you have complete steps 1 through 3, you will have the beginning a faux cable. At this point, however, it won’t really look like much. Complete the row as instructed and perform the RetP (changing colors, if you want). On the next row, work until you come to the dc from the row below.

Yarn over as before, but instead of inserting your hook into the vertical strand, insert it behind the body of the dc. Yarn over and draw up a loop.

Complete the stitch as before. This is a front post double crochet.

What we have done here is stack two double crochets right on top of each other. If you were to repeat this every third stitch or so, you would get an interesting ribbed effect. This is not what we want here, though. We want something that looks like cables. To get this, we have to create movement in our textured stitches. If you have been following along, go ahead and finish off the FwdP and RetP. On the next row, work the FwdP up to the Fpdc from the row below.  Next, Tss (that’s just the regular old stitch you’ve been doing) in the vertical strand above the fpdc from the previous row. Skip the next stitch (vertical strand) and then Fpdc around fpdc from the previous row (which is now behind you). This requires a bit of a backward reach. The effect is that the new fpdc is at a slant.

Continuing in this manner will yield a line of fpdc’s that cross your Tunisian crochet fabric on a diagonal (or in whatever direction you choose to send them).

To slant your stitches the other way, work Tss up to one stitch before the Fpdc from the previous row, skip the next Tss and Fpdc around the Fpdc from the previous row, then Tss in the top of the Fpdc from the previous row. Sorry, no picture here.

Well, is that enough for now? Have I given you something to think about? Come February (because I have a few projects in the works at the moment), I will be doing a knitalong for the Aspenglow Jacket. I will spend the month in between now and then trying to decide if I want to use Lorna’s Shepherd worsted (like I did before) or Cascade 220 Paints. It’s going to be a tough call. It may in fact take the whole month to decide. Hopefully you will hear something from me in the interim. Until then, Happy New Year! May your resolution lists be short and easily fulfilled!

 

 

 

 

Short Rows, in Short November 21, 2010

Filed under: how to,knitting theory,Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 5:34 pm

Apparently, it has been a while since I had time to post anything. I’m so ashamed.

Wait! I have an excuse. You see, I’ve been doing some knitting. Lots of knitting. Top Secret knitting.

Finally, I can share some of it with you all.

First, I spent some time working on this:

The “Saxony Scarf” for the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts issue. It is knit here out of Nashua Creative Focus Chunky, but I’m working on a second one in Cascade’s 128 Superwash and it’s coming out quite lovely (pics to come).

Then, I spent rather a lot of time (well a month, I guess) working on this:

The Scavenger Skirt, knit out of Sanguine Gryphon’s beautiful Codex yarn (silk and BFL wool), was part of their recent Steampunk inspired pattern line.  So there we go. I have also been working on some Secret Knitting that will not be revealed until the end of December, and then some other stuff. What I mean to say is that I have been having all sorts of fiber fun.

  Yes, I know that I still owe some installments of the Ways of Knitting series of post, but, in my defense, I never claimed to be good at staying focussed on a single thing for a long time. In fact, I think that I clearly stated that I am quite easily and frequently distracted by shiny things.

Right now, Short Rows are particularly shiny. I have been doing rather a lot of knitting with short rows lately and have fallen quite in love with them. I know what you’re thinking: “I hate short rows; they’re dumb and futzy and not worth the trouble”.  I once thought as you do (if you weren’t thinking that, good for you; you’re already drinking the short row koolaid). Now, however, I recognize that short rows are in fact not dumb, not that futzy (almost all of the time) and really, really worth the trouble (not that they’re really any trouble). Please observe the list of things that short rows do well:

1. Make curve hugging contours in your knitting.

2.  Make circular objects without knitting in the round.

3. Make edgings go around corners.

4. Make fun squiggles and shapes in all sorts of interesting places.

5. Make socks!

And that’s just the beginning.

Today, I am going to write a little bit about the different flavors of short row treatments. First, though, the theory:

When knitting short rows, you work to almost the end of your row, then turn your knitting, leaving the remaining stitches unworked. When you first started knitting, you probably did this a lot on accident. The result is that there is a portion of your knitting that is longer (has more rows) than another portion of your knitting.  This is useful when you are trying to knit fabric to cover something that goes out in some places and not in others.

Example: Ladies, take a tape measure and measure from the top front of your shoulder to your belt, in line with where your shoulder seam (if you are wearing set-in sleeves) is. Now, measure down your front, starting at a parallel point, but making sure to measure over the bosom and keeping the tape measure next to your body. (Fellows, you can find a lady to try this on, but make sure to ask for permission first). There is probably a different in the measurements. The height from shoulder to belt is the same, but there is more surface area over the bosom than at the side. Many sweaters and shirts ride up in the front because there is not a comparable difference in the amount of fabric used to cover the surfaces. We use short rows (on purpose) to make more fabric in the areas that go out more. Isn’t that Awesome?!

   When you were a beginning knitter and did this on accident, you probably observed a hole in your knitting once you worked back across the place where the short row happened. The trick to doing short rows on purpose is finding a way to avoid the holes. This is especially important when the short rows are someplace conspicuous, like the bust of  a sweater. That is what we are talking about today.

    OK. Too much text and not enough pictures! I thought this was a yarn blog!

First, I will address what has been (I believe) the most common way to treat short rows: The Wrap and Turn.

 Many patterns that require short rows will say something like this:

“Work to 2 stitches before the end of the row ‘Wrap and Turn’ leaving remaining stitch unworked”. Shown above, the Wrap and Turn is the reason why many knitters avoid short rows (it’s OK, I have two alternatives below). In the last picture above, I have wrapped every stitch on the row, creating a pretty severe angle. I have used this technique to make slantwise pocket fronts on bottom up sweaters. Notice that each of the stitches in that row has a bit of yarn wrapped around its base (like a tiny scarf keeping its little stitch neck warm). When working back across these stitches, you will have to knit that wrap together with the stitch it is wrapping. Observe:

That’s not so bad, right? OK, I know, it’s one thing to work in wraps on the right side of the piece when they are positioned in the direction you are knitting anyway. I promise that there will be a post on what to do when things get more hairy. This post is supposed to be “Short rows in Short”, and I am doing my very best to keep it to the basics (as much as I ever do, anyway).

Moving on. The next flavor of short row, which got quite a bit of attention a couple of years ago with regard to toe up socks, is the Yarn Over Short Row. This involves no wrapping at all and is much favored by those who would rather eat nails than wrap and turn.

While there is less slipping back and forth of stitches, this method is a little futzy in its own way. That is, yarning over on the right hand needle at the beginning of the row is not what we are used to. Once all your short rows are complete, you should have what looks like lots and lots of stitches on your needle. Really, it is just pairs of stitch and yarn over.

The working in part is just as simple here as it was for the wrap and turns. You knit the YOs together with the following stitch.

Finally, we have the Minimalist Approach, so called because it involves no wrapping and no YOs. All you do is turn, then slip the next stitch and work across the wrong side to the end. If you want a steep angle (as in the swatches above) you just work to one stitch before the last turning point every right side  row. If you do this for every stitch, you will end up with this:

To avoid holes, you…well, it’s better to look at it:

 The trickiest part to this is identifying the third stitch down from the needle. Cat Bordhi (a knitting genius and one of my knitting idols) calls this stitch the “grandmother stitch”. That is, the stitch on the needle is the “daughter stitch”, the one below it is the “mother stitch” and the one below that is the “grandmother stitch”. In step two, you insert the tip of the left hand needle, from back to front, into the grandmother stitch and then knit it together with the next stitch on the needle. I may be biased (this is my short row method of choice) but I really think that this one looks the best. Of course, I might just be better at it.

So there we go. In a later post (later just like those other “Ways of Knitting” posts are coming later) I will go into doing short rows from the wrong side. Fun times! Note, the short rows in these swatches are pretty noticeable because I have worked them on every row, which drastically changes the direction of the knitting. Worked every two or four (or more) stitches, they would be far more subtle.

Of course these are not the only short row methods out there. The Japanese Short Row method is quite popular and produces lovely results. It requires the use of a safety pin, however, and once there a whole other tool involved, I’m pretty much out.

So, we go to all this trouble to prevent holes where the shore rows end. Sometimes, however, it’s just not such a big deal. For example, in the “Bathtime Blossoms” washcloth pattern set by Evelyn A. Clark.

Each of these decidedly round washcloths is actually knit back and forth using short rows. There are no wraps, however, and no YOs. There is no special picking up of stitches. It is so cleverly written, in fact, that you hardly realize you are knitting short rows at all. If all of the above futziness makes you a little nervous, this is actually a pretty good place to start (plus they make great gifts!).

So there you go. Short Rows. More on that later, until then, go get started on your holiday projects!

 

Ways of Knitting: Part 2.2 Twist and Shout (cont.) April 4, 2010

Welcome back, friends. I have had a few days respite from our good friend stockinette stitch and am ready and excited to tackle our last eight swatches.

Remember that we had just finished a series of swatches in which we knit into the front leg and wrapped clockwise. Now we move on to the third column of the chart, for which we will be knitting into the back leg and wrapping counter-clockwise. Here is another look at the chart, just to jog our memory:

1. Columns 1 and 2 complete. Half-way there!

Now, without further ado…

Swatch 9:

Looking at the chart above and remember what we learned about what affects stitch mount, we can predict that the stitches on the knit row will be mounted as they were in swatches 1 and 5, with the Right Leg in front.

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

In this tutorial, we have yet to encounter knitting into the Back leg, so here is a picture to put us all on the same page.

2. Knitting into the back leg, wrapping counter-clockwise

Because the Back Leg, in this case, is also the Left leg (although it is, admittedly, very difficult to see that from the picture), we know that we will be twisting the stitches on this row.

Since we were wrapping counter Clockwise on the knit row, we also know that the stitches of the purl row will be mounted with the Right leg in Front.

Purl Side: Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

I won’t say that this particular purl row is unexciting, but we have certainly seen it’s like before. We end up with a swatch that is twisted every other row (remember that we twisted the stitches we were knitting into).

3. Swatch 9: Knit into the Back leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise, Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Count Clockwise

Ooh…new post, new color of yarn for the swatches. Just changing it up a bit.

Swatch 10 (this one is exciting):

You will begin the knit row with the Left Legs in front of the needle.

Knit Side:Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

Unlike Swatch 9, the knit stitches of Swatch 10 will not be twisted. This is because we are now knitting into the Right leg of the stitch, rather than into the Left Leg.

4. Knitting into the Back (Right) Leg, yielding untwisted stitch

You can see in picture 4 that, even though we are knitting into the Back leg, the legs of the stitch are not crossed at the bottom.

Purl Side: Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

Although we have seen a picture of this before, I think I will show it again:

5. Purl, wrapping Clockwise

You see, many people really prefer to purl this way, rather than wrapping Counter Clockwise. Looking at the picture, it is pretty easy to see why. There does, in fact, seem to be very little wrapping involved at all. Rather, the needle can just sort of hook the yarn and pull it through. Compare this to wrapping Counter Clockwise…

6. Purl wrap, Counter Clockwise

…where the yarn comes from the front of the needle, over the top, and down behind the needle. The Clockwise wrap does indeed seem to be the simpler option.

In the end, Swatch 10 looks like this:

7. Swatch 10: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise, Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise

Interesting, no?   Generally referred to as Combination Knitting (I know, I wasn’t going to get into those kinds of labels until Part 4, but I just couldn’t help it) this is, in fact, an extremely popular technique, especially among people who don’t prefer to wrap their purls Counter Clockwise.  As you can see, the end result is the same as Swatch 1 (and Swatch 7). There are, in fact, many well-known knitters who knit this way, perhaps most notably knitter/designer/author Annie Modesitt. In fact, she travels, speaks, and teaches all over the country, encouraging those knitters who do not necessarily knit in the fashion prescribed by much of the knitting media. If you happen to knit like this, know that you are not alone.


Swatch 11:

The knit stitches of this swatch are mounted with the Right Leg in front.

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

Since the Left Leg is in back and we are knitting into it, we know that we are twisting these stitches.

8. (repeat of 2) Knitting into the back leg, wrapping counter-clockwise

Because we are wrapping Counter Clockwise, we know that the stitches of the Purl Side will be mounted with their Right Legs in Front, just as the knit side was.

Purl side: Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

Since the Purl stitches are mounted as they are (Right Leg in Front) Purling into the Back (Left) Leg will also yield a twisted stitch, giving us a swatch that looks like this:

9. Swatch 11: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise

I think that I have mentioned before that I really like to look of twisted stitches. Whenever I happen to decide that my knitting needs a section of twisted stitches, this is how I choose to achieve it. Both the knits and the purls are wrapped Counter Clockwise, which is how I wrap when I am knitting (see Swatch 1), and the only difference is which leg I knit into. I, personally, find it much easier to adjust which leg of the stitch I work into, rather than which direction I wrap, to achieve any short-term changes in the look of my knitting.

Swatch 12:

The only element that is changing between this swatch and the previous is the direction in which we wrap our purl stitches. This, we know, is going to change the mount of our knit stitches, which will now be sitting with the Left Leg in Front of the needle.

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

Since the Right leg is now in back, knitting into it will give us an untwisted stitch, as it did in Swatch 10.

10. (Repeat of 4)Knitting into the Back Leg, untwisted

Our purl stitches will be mounted as they have been since Swatch 9 (the direction of wrapping on our knit stitches has been constant, remember), with the Right Leg in Front.

Purl Side: Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

While we have had to purl into the Back Leg recently (Swatch 10) and even into the Back/Left leg, purling into the Back/Left leg and wrapping Clockwise (which we haven’t had to do since Swatch 4) is probably my least favorite combination. It represents the opposite of everything I naturally want to do. Oh, the sacrifices I make in the name of education!! (umm…just kidding)

Anyway, here is what we get for out troubles:

11. Swatch 12: Knit into the Back leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

But not only that! We also get this:

12. Three columns (12 swatches) down!

As I have mentioned before, there will be a much better, clearer chart at the very end.


Lucky Swatch 13:

We start out this new column just was we have started every column (because we are always purling the same way in the first swatch of a column), with our knit stitches mounted Right Leg in Front.

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

This way of knitting (and consequently this entire column) constitutes the exact opposite of the way I naturally knit. (Just wait until we get to the last swatch!).  Let me stress again, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with knitting this way; it just happens to be counter intuitive to me and consequently more likely to spark a bout of whining.

At any rate, we will be twisting these knit stitches, as we have in the first swatch of every column, so that the Right Leg crosses over the Left Leg:

13. Right Leg crosses over Left Leg (or Left leg crosses under Right leg)

Since we are now wrapping Clockwise, our Purl stitches will be mounted withe the Right Leg in Back of the needle.

Purl Side: Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

While I find the knit stitch in this swatch unwieldy, I find the purl stitch perfectly natural, if somewhat more difficult than it normally is. Because I am now purling into the Left leg, I know that I will be twisting the stitches of this row.

14. Left Leg crossing over Right Leg

You can see in Picture 14 (repeated from…ooh, somewhere, I’m sure) that the Left Leg of the stitch is about to cross over the Right Leg. Note that we just crossed our knit stitches in the opposite direction, meaning that our swatch will look like:

15. Swatch 13: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise

I still think this is very pretty; just as pretty as it was in Swatch 4. Maybe even prettier.

Swatch 14:

We are changing the direction of wrapping on out purl row, and thus the mount of our Knit stitches. These are now sitting with their Right legs in Back of the needle.

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

No twisting here; we are knitting into the Right leg, so our stitches are untwisted.

Since we are wrapping Counter-clockwise on both our knit and purl rows, our purl stitches will be mounted just as our knit stitches were, with the Right Leg in Back.

Purl Side: Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

This is not nearly so easy to do as it was in Swatch 10, because of the stitch mount. The end result, I’m afraid, is also not quite as exciting. As we se so often, the stitches are only twisted every other row.

16. Swatch 14: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping clockwise; Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

As I have mentioned before, I see this result fairly often “out in the field.”  I don’t think, however, that I have ever encountered someone who achieved it in quite this way. Of course, there are certain combinations of knitting that just aren’t very prominent where I happen to live.

Swatch 15: (Can you believe it?)

Our knits are mounted with the Right Leg in Front…for the last time!! Bwah Ha Ha!!

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

With the right leg in Front, and knitting into the Back Leg, we know that these stitches will be twisted.

The purl stitches, again, are mounted with their Right legs in Back.

Purl Side: Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

These stitches, as you know, will be untwisted.

Do I seem like I’m hurrying? Maybe I am.  It’s all pretty redundant at this point, as I’m sure you have noticed.

In fact, you just saw something very similar to this:

17. Swatch 15: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

…with the stitches twisted in the opposite direction, of course.


Oh my goodness, it’s…

Swatch 16!!!!

Well, here we are. Before we proceed, notice that this elements used to create this swatch are in every opposite of what I naturally do (that is, what we started with in Swatch 1). We are working into the Back leg of both purl and knit stitches and wrapping Clockwise in both cases. I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

As I’m sure you have guessed (or figured out based on past experience), both the knit and purl stitches of this swatch are mounted with the Right leg in Back.

18. Knit and Purl stitches of Swatch 16: Right Legs in Back

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

Purl Side: Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

What do we get?

19. Swatch 16: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

And so, we have come full circle. If there are any combinations that I have neglected to address, by all means, please let me know. When I set out to do something, by golly, I want to do a thorough job of it. Redundancy just helps cement it in the brain, right?

Finally, here is the much-nicer-looking-chart that I promised you:

20. Final Chart

There we go. It’s been a trip. It still is, actually; remember we are only halfway through the “Ways of Knitting” series. Coming up is the really reason I undertook this whole line of explanation. In Part 3, we will talk about why it is important to know how you knit in relation to how patterns assume you knit, specifically when it comes to matters of decreasing. All of this was just build-up, really. So, I am off to knit more swatches and take more pictures. I will be back with you shortly, but in the meantime…

Happy Knitting!

21. The Swatch, itself

 

Ways of Knitting, Part 2.1- Twist and Shout! March 29, 2010

Filed under: how to,knitting theory — Hannah Cuviello @ 1:53 pm

Well hello again. Guess what! Here is another post in less than a month after the previous post. It’s unheard-of.

In this installment of my “Ways of Knitting” series, I intend to drone on and on about the way we can combine the knitting factors I discussed in Part 1. For a quick review, these factors were:

  1. Whether you enter the stitch through the Front Leg or Back Leg
  2. Whether you wrap your yarn Clockwise or Counter Clockwise

In this post, we will take it up a level and look at how these two factors combine when we are working with rows of Knits and Pearls, i.e. stockinette stitch (back and forth, rather than in the round – it’s more interesting that way).

(Part 4 will deal more with other terminology found in the literature and will refer back to many of the swatches in this post. If you are specifically interested in Easter vs Western vs Combined or Continental vs English, etc, check out part 4).

Here is the chart I will be using to guide my way through the exercise. By the end of this post, I will have filled this chart with pictures of swatches corresponding to the appropriate combinations of knitting techniques.  By the way, I have a life.

For example, to make Swatch 1, I will be knitting into the Front Leg of each stitch on the knit side and wrapping Counter Clockwise. On the purl side, I will also be knitting into the Front Leg and wrapping Counter Clockwise.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I will try not to talk too much at length on each swatch (try), since it is going to get rather repetitive by Swatch 8, however, I will point out some of the interesting things and may comment on the pervasiveness (from my experience) of that particular style. I will not be insulted if you skip all the “blah, blah, blah” and just look at the pretty pictures. Hint: there is a big, filled out chart at the end.

Some of you might also be big dorks. In that case, I highly recommend knitting along with your own swatch.

Swatch 1.

Knit stitches are mounted with Right Legs in Front.

Knit side: Work into the Front Loop and Wrap Counter Clockwise

1. Knit into Front Leg, Wrap Counter Clockwise

This will create a row of purls on the other side that are mounted with the Right Leg in Front (just like the Knit side).

2. Purls mounted with Right Legs in Front

Why is this? Well, when you wrap your working yarn around the needle, whichever direction you choose, the end of the yarn that is attached to the work becomes the Right Leg of the new stitch, then travels over the needle to become the Left Leg (look at your own knitting and try to visualize this). When you wrap Count Clockwise, the yarn travels from below the needle, up across the front of the needle, becoming a Right Leg in Front of the needle. The yarn then travels over the top of the needle and down the back, becoming a Left Leg in Back of the needle. When you turn your work around and look at the purl side, the perspective changes, and what was the Right (Front) leg of the knit stitch becomes the Left (Back) leg of the purl stitch (and vice versa).

Purl Side: Work into the Front Leg and wrap Counter Clockwise (this is square 1, remember).

3. Purl into the Front Leg and wrap Counter Clockwise

Purling a row like this creates a knit row (on the other side) that is mounted in the same way. It all ends up looking like this:

4. Swatch 1

Many of you are probably saying “Hey, that’s what my knitting looks like!” Many of you probably get it in the same way, too. Note: this is regardless of which hand you use to hold and wrap your yarn (that discussion will come in Part 4). Truth be told, most (but definitely not all) of the knitters I know knit this way. I will just stress again: that does not make any other method of knitting any less valid.

OK, moving on. Let’s change one factor and see how it affects the outcome.

Swatch 2.

The knit stitches for this swatch are mounted with the Right Leg in Back and the Left Leg in Front (we will see why later).

5. Knits mounted with Right Leg in Back and Left Leg in Front

Knit side: Work into the Front Leg and Wrap Counter Clockwise (as in Swatch 1)

If you are knitting along, you will notice that this is much harder to do (at lease I find it so) than it was in Swatch 1. The reason is that now we are knitting into the Left Leg, rather than the Right Leg. You may remember from Part 1 of the series that the Left Leg is further back on the needle than the Right Leg. Knitting into the left leg crosses that leg over the Right leg, twisting the stitch.

6. Left Leg crosses over Right Leg

You will end up with purls (on the other side) mounted as they were in Swatch 1. You see, the direction of wrap affects the mount of the stitches on the next row.

Purl side: Purl into the Front Leg and wrap Clockwise.

7. Purl in Front and Wrap Clockwise

Look closely. Remember from the Swatch 1 discussion that the end of the yarn attached to the knitting becomes the Right leg of the new stitch. In Picture 6, the yarn passes behind the needle first, so the Right Leg (of the corresponding Knit stitch on the next row) will be in Back. This is how we get the different and interesting stitch mount on the Knit Row (and why it is harder to knit those stitches through the Front Loop).

Many people actually find this method of purling easier (See Swatch 10 for a very common knitting method that uses this way of working purls).

I most often see this particular combination among newer or self-taught knitters who default to this method of purling without realising the difference. It generally comes to my attention when someone comes to me and asks “Why are my knit stitches so tight?!” Well, there is your answer.

The knitting looks like this:

8. Swatch 2: Knit into Front Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise, Purl into Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise

Notice that every other row in this swatch is twisted, that is, the legs of the stitch cross each other. This comes from knitting into the Left (Front) legs. This way of knitting also sometimes pops up (without the knitter realizing it) when a person has been knitting in the round for a long time. If the knitter has been making many stockinette stitch bags or hats in the round, there may have been little or no occasion to purl. Any ribbing done in the round would not necessarily present a problem; the knits and purls stack on top of each other, and neither would affect the mount of the other. The purls would be twisted, but they would not be much harder to execute and they would only look different on the Wrong Side.

I worked with a lady once who did not discover that she was purling this way until half-way through a sweater, when she split for the armholes and started knitting back and forth. All of a sudden, ever other row was twisted. I was very excited. Incidentally, the sweater turned out stunning (she ended up altering her purling method for the rest of the project).

Swatch 3:

The knit stitches for this swatch will be mounted as they were for Swatch 1, with the Right Leg in front of the needle.

Knit Side: Work into the Front Leg and Wrap Counter Clockwise (as in Swatches 1 and 2. I know it’s getting tedious, but there is just one more swatch with this knitting method to go.)

The Purl stitches in this swatch are mounted as they have been in all the previous swatches, with the Right Leg in front.

Purl Side: Knit into the Back Leg and wrap Counter Clockwise.

Purling into the back leg is a little tricky, so here is a picture to with it:

9. Purl into the Back Leg of the stitch

I always struggle with how to describe this to people. Anything directional seems too subjective, and what makes sense to me will often not make sense to another person. I would describe the movement of the needle in this picture as starting behind the back leg of the stitch and coming out in front of the Front leg. I invite you to describe it in whatever way makes sense to you. However you describe it, it’s a little tricky to do.

Remember that the purl stitches in this swatch are mounted with the Left leg in back, so you are purling into the Left Leg. We have determined before that whenever you work into the Left leg, the stitches will be…

10. Swatch 3, Knit into Front leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise; Purl into Back leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

…twisted on every other row (the knit rows are not twisted).  Compare this with Picture 8 (Swatch 2). In Swatch 2, the stitches are twisted with the Left leg crossing over the Right leg; in this swatch, the Right Leg crosses over the Left leg. Actually, if you think about how this particular twisted stitch is formed, it might be better described as the Left leg crossing under the Right leg. I have never met anyone who actually knits like this. I have never even seen it happen on accident.

Swatch 4.

The knit stitches will be mounted with the Left leg in front. Since out knitting style has not changed yet and we are knitting into the Front (Left) leg, we know what the Knit rows are going to look like.

Knit Side: Work into the Front Leg and Wrap Counter Clockwise (this is the last swatch with this knitting style, so enjoy it.)

The purl stitches are still mounted with the Right legs in Front, as they have been all along. You can probably guess the generalizations that I will be drawing at the end of this section…

Purl Side: Purl into the Back Leg and wrap Clockwise.

I consider this the most unpleasant combination of knitting techniques. On both the knit and purl sides, you are working into the Left Leg of the stitch, twisting it. Let’s look at the swatch.

11. Knit into the Front leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise, Purl into the Back leg, wrapping Clockwise.

As you can see, the stitches are twisted on every row, but in alternate directions. It’s actually kind of pretty in person, although I would never consider it worth the trouble.

Well, column 1 (cells 1-4) of the chart is finished. It’s so exciting!

12. Column 1 complete

Hmmm… the picture in the final chart won’t be so smushed. What have we learned so far?

The mount of the purl stitches has remained the same through all four swatches, as has the method we used on the knit rows. The mount of the knit stitches, however, changed between swatches 1 and 2, as well as between swatches 3 and 4.

This is because the direction of wrapping determines the mount of the next row.

Knitting into the Left leg, however, affects the look of the row that has just been knit.

Column 2

Swatch 5:

Knit stitches are mounted with the Right leg in front

Knit Side: We are finally shaking the knits up a bit. Knit into the Front (right) leg as before, but wrap Clockwise this time. I know it’s been awhile since we wrapped any other way while knitting, so here is a picture:

Based on what we have discussed so far, you should be able to predict the difference this will make in your knitting.

Did you guess that your purl stitches will be mounted differently? You deserve a cookie! (hmmm…I think I deserve a cookie too…).

13. Knit into the Front loop, wrapping Clockwise

Your purl stitches will now be mounted with the Left Leg in front of the needle.

Purl Side: Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise (as in Swatch 1).

Does it feel a little funny? You are now purling into the Left leg in front of the needle (which we have not done in any of the previous swatches, since the Left leg has always been in back of the needle).

(There is no picture here, because I couldn’t get this picture to upload. But you’re all knitting along, right? So you can just look at your own knitting.)

As you purl into the Left leg, notice how it crosses over the Right (back) leg at the base.

Compare this to Swatch 3 (Picture 9) where the Left leg crosses under the Right leg. Both stitches are twisted, but they twist in opposite directions. You can also compare end products, Picture 14 compared to Picture 10.

14. Swatch 5; Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise, purl into the Front leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise. Twisted only on the Purl rows.

Swatch 6:

Knit stitches are mounted with the Left Leg in Front of the needle.

Knit Side: Knit into the Front (right) leg as before, wrapping Clockwise (for this and two more swatches).

This yields a different result than it did in Swatch 5, since we start out with differently mounted Knits. Knitting into the Front Leg here causes the Left leg to cross over the right leg, as it did in Swatch 2.

Purl Side: Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

These purl stitches feel and look like the ones we just did (wrapping a different way, of course). As in Swatch 5, the Left leg of the Purl stitches cross over the Right leg, leading to…

15. Swatch 6, Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise

…a twist on every row, in the same direction. I think this fabric is lovely. One of my favorite aspects of this knitting is that, when stretched, the stitches pull tighter, rather than opening up, as untwisted stitches do.

16. Swatch 6, stretched

Many patterns call for a hem facing to be knit in twisted stitch (0r twisted rib) to help the garment hold its shape. It is important to note, though, that these stitches lie on a bias, though it is a little difficult to see in this picture. This is especially important if you are knitting in the round, since the beginning of your round at the bottom of your piece will not necessarily line up with the beginning of your round many rows later. (I have seen socks turn out very interesting because of this phenomenon.)

Swatch 7:

We will be wrapping counter clockwise on the purl side, which means that our knit stitches will sit with the Right Leg in Front.

Knit side: Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping clockwise.

So far, our knitting is not twisted, and the purls are sitting with the Right Leg in back and the Left Leg in front.

Purl Side: Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

We have purled into the Back Legs previously, in swatches 3 and 4, however you should notice that this time it is considerably easier.

17. Purl into Back (Right) leg

This is because, as you can see in the picture, we are purling into the Right leg, which is in Back, instead of into the Left leg, as we were in swatches 3 and 4.

Untwisted purls combined with the untwisted knits we just made give us…

18. Swatch 7; Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

…totally untwisted knitting, like we had in Swatch 1. I have only met one person so far who knit like this, although it doesn’t seem at all an unnatural way to knit. It’s actually the opposite of Combination knitting, which we will see in Swatch 10 and discuss in Part 4.

Swatch 8:

We are now at the last swatch of column 2, our knits are mounted with the Right Leg in Back and I fear that our official half-way there swatch will be a little anti-climactic.

Knit Side: Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping clockwise. (For the last time…)

These stitches will be twisted, as they were in Swatch 6.

Purl side: Purl into the Back loop, wrapping Clockwise.

These stitches will be untwisted, as they were in the previous swatch.

19. Swatch 8: Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the back Leg, wrapping clockwise.

As I said, a little anti-climactic. I have to confess, I always find the twisted-every-other row swatches a little less exciting than the totally twisted or totally untwisted swatches.

To make up for that, though, here is another chart!

20. Columns 1 and 2 complete. Half-way there!

We are certainly very much half-way there. At this point, though, I have been sitting at my computer for far too long a time and so, I imagine, have you. I am going to get up, have some supper and knit for a while. I will return “shortly” (for me, that is within a week) with Part 2.2 and the last 8 ways of knitting. I will also be changing yarn colors, because I am so very tired of blue stitches!

Take care, everyone, and happy knitting!

 

Ways Of Knitting-Part 1 (Introduction to stitch mount) March 22, 2010

Well, it has been about a month and a half since my last post. The generous among you may assume that I am a very busy lady; that will last just as long as it takes you to read this next post (or rather series of posts), at which time you will doubtlessly conclude that I have no life at all. I do have a life, by the way. I do. really. Plus, I’ve been working lots on the new website; putting new yarns on our Stash Sale page. Oh boy!

The other reason for my long absence is that, once I became determined to write a post on “Different Ways of Knitting”, I found myself saddled with a “hole to China” topic.  It goes like this: I decide to dig a hole. I dig a bit, but then I just find more dirt, so I keep digging. More dirt. Keep digging. Repeat ad nauseum until bam! I come out the other side in China. (Actually, from where I’m starting, I would most likely end up in the ocean several hundred miles South of Madagascar, but that’s beside the point).  What I mean to say is that I had an idea for a topic, but every time I introduced a term or concept, I felt the need to fully explain it with pictures and drawings, until what I had was a very large, unwieldy blog post. Better to split it up into nice, manageable chunks and dole it out at intervals. Here is the breakdown:

1. Introduction to stitch mount. There are different ways that your stitches can sit on your needles and, it turns out, these are rather important to the final look of your project. This section will discuss the factors that determine your stitch mount (how you enter the stitch and  which way you wrap the yarn).

2. Twist and Shout! While part one will focus mostly on a single stitch, part two will look at how your stitch mount affects the fabric as a whole. There are a total of 16 different combinations of the factors I mentioned above (once you include whether you are knitting or purling). I have swatched them all and I am prepared to write at length about each (seriously).

3. Why We Care. I feel very strongly that there is no wrong way to knit. There are, however, different ways, and these differences affect the look of the finished project. I have also found that patterns assume a particular way of knitting, so it is helpful for those who may knit differently to be aware of what differences are important. One of the most important differences concerns the use of decreases.  Oh boy, oh boy!

4. Throwing, Picking and all that other stuff. This section will cover more general knitting styles, concerning itself with how knitters hold their yarn. I will also take the opportunity to discuss the distinction between left-handed knitters and Left Handed Knitting.

There may be more after that. We’ll see.

“No. Not too much. We’ve still got a looong way to go.”

(Never Ending Story quote, BTW)

Let’s start with the stitch. (Hey, this sounds familiar…)

It may be helpful to follow along with knitting in your hands. I, personally, have a hard time just visualizing this stuff.

1. Your basic stitch; it's just a loop, really.

2. A loop with a left leg and a right leg.

Your stitch has a Left Leg and a Right Leg. When the stitch sits on a needle, it can sit with either the Left leg in front or the Right leg in front. That is “Stitch Mount”.

OK. Post over. Have a good day.

Just kidding. I have an overabundance of pictures to go along with this concept. For example….

3. Right Leg in Front

This is what it looks like when the Right leg of the stitch is in front of the needle. This also just happens to be what my stitches look like and the what most patterns assume your stitches look like. Note that this is what the stitch looks like on the left hand needle, that is, before you have knit it (unless you are knitting Left Handed, but we will get into that much later.) I will not be discussing how the stitches look on the right hand needle. That’s just too much, even for me.

4. Left Leg in Front of Needle

Now for the alternative. Many people knit so that the Left Leg of their stitch is in front of the needle. This is a perfectly normal and acceptable way for the stitches to be.

Now, just in case the distinction is not yet totally clear, I have more pictures. Always explain things in more than one way; that’s what I strive to do.

So let’s pretend that our stitch is a little guy. A cowboy, perhaps.

5. "Jest coll me Stee-uch."

Our little Cowboy sits on the needle. Hmmm…

6. Cowboy on a needle. Hmmm, maybe not.

We’d better make it a horse.

7. On a horse (needle) with Left leg in front.

For purposes of describing the cowboy, we will refer to his Right and Left legs from our perspective, not his. In Picture 7, therefore, the cowboy’s “Left” leg is on the side of the horse closest to us and the cowboy is facing forward.

Compare to Picture 8 below.

8. Cowboy facing away.

In this picture, the cowboy’s “Right” leg is on the side of the horse nearest us, and he is facing away. (Or we could draw in eyes and he would be facing backwards, either way.)  To avoid the confusion about Right/Left legs and perspective when using the cowboy analogy, I usually refer to the stitches as facing towards me or facing away. I invite the people out there to use whatever terminology they prefer.

Well, what do these cowboys look like in real life?

9. Cowboys facing away.

They look decidedly less “Old West” and much more knitable.

In Picture 9, you can see that the Right Leg of the stitch is on the side of the needle facing the knitter, while the Left Leg is on the far side of the needle.

Below is the alternative.

10. Howdy, cowboys!

Now, the Left Leg of the stitch is on the near side of the needle, while the Right Leg is on the far side.  In general, and for the rest of this post, I will refer to whichever leg is on the near side of the needle as the Front Leg and whichever leg is on the far side of the needle as the Back Leg. This will be important. Note another difference between these two stitch mounts. The Right leg is always a little further forward on the needle than the left leg (because it is coming out of the right side of the stitch below). When the Right leg is in front of the needle, as in Picture 9, the Front (Right) leg is further forward on the needle, but in Picture 10, where the Right leg is in back of the needle, the Back (still Right) leg is further forward.

These concepts also apply to purl stitches.

11. Purl Stitch, Right Leg in Front

12. Purl Stitch, Left Leg in Front

OK. Vocab/Concept review.

Right Leg/Left Leg – self explanatory (remember, from your perspective, not the stitch’s)

Front Leg- The leg that is on the side of the needle nearest the knitter (can be right or left).

Back Leg- The leg that is on the side of the needle furthest from the knitter (can be right or left).

Forward Leg- The leg that is furthest forward (closest to the tip) on the needle. Always the Right Leg, but it can be either in Back or in Front.

Stitch Mount- Which way (Left or Right leg in front) your stitches sit on your horse needle.

Cowboy- Another name for a stitch.

Now, my friends, we are ready to move on. Deep Breath…

There are two things that affect the mount of your stitches and the overall look of your fabric.

1. Whether you insert the needle into the Front Leg of the stitch or the Back Leg when you knit or purl.

2. The direction in which you wrap your yarn when knit or purl.

Guess what! I have more pictures!

Let’s start with number 1.

13. Knitting into the front leg (in this case, the Right Leg)

When knitting, the Knitter can insert the needle into the Front Leg of the stitch, as in Picture 13, …

…or into the Back Leg of the stitch, as in Picture 14.

14. Knit into the Back Leg

There are several things of note in Picture 14.

1. The Right leg of the stitch is the Front Leg (and Left is the Back; the same is true for picture 13).

2. The Front (right) Leg is further forward on the needle.

3. The needle is being inserted under the Back (Left/further back) leg.

4. The legs are crossed at the base. This is called a Twisted Stitch. Compare that to Picture 13, where the legs of the stitch are open (untwisted) at the base.

Many patterns call for twisted stitches (for reasons I will discuss in a later post), and this is how they generally expect you to get it. In fact, patterns will often not say outright that they want a twisted stitch. Instead, they will just say “Knit 1 to the Back Loop (tbl)”.  The problem is that Knitting into the back loop does not always yield a twisted stitch.

15. Knit tbl, but it's not twisted.

In picture 15, I am knitting into the Back Leg, but in this case

1) The Right Leg is in Back (like the stitches in Pics 4, 7 and 10)

2) The Back Leg is further forward

3) The legs are not twisted at the base.

Therefore, if you are the kind of lovely knitter whose stitches sit with the Right leg to the back of the needle (cowboys facing you) and who knits into the back leg as a matter of course, knitting a stitch tbl may not give you the desired effect. Instead, you may want to knit into the Front Leg (Picture 16).

16. Knit into Front Leg, twisting

Note that, in Picture 16, the Left Leg is in Front, and knitting into the Front Leg yields a twisted stitch.

Summary:

If your stitches sit with the Right Leg in Front, knitting into the Back Leg should yield a twisted stitch.

If your stitches sit with the Left Leg in the Front, knitting into the Front Leg should yield a twisted stitch.

In other words, knitting into the Right Leg will yield an untwisted stitch. Knitting into the Left Leg will yield a twisted stitch.

Now, you may be asking, “What about the Purl stitches?!”

Well, those, too can be worked (purled) into either the Front or the Back Leg.

Most people, when they learn how to purl, naturally want to purl into the Front Leg, as in picture 17.

17. Purling into the Front Leg

Admittedly, this is not a great picture. I am trusting that enough people have seen it done that I’m OK here. Purling into the Back Leg, however, is a little more difficult to visualize.

18. Purling into the Back Leg

In Picture 18, the Right Leg is to the Front (it’s hard to see, but trust me; also look at the other stitches on the needle, you can sort of tell there)  and I am purling into the Left Leg. This stitch will be twisted. If the stitch were mounted so that the Left Leg was in the front, and I was purling into the Right Leg…

19. Purling into the Back Leg, Right Leg in Back

…the stitch would not be twisted. This is also much easier to do. Whenever I have met a knitter who naturally purls to the Back Leg, their stitches have been mounted with the Right Leg in back. I’m not saying this is always the way. It has just been my experience.

Now we are ready to move on the second factor that affects stitch mount (and perhaps affects it more immediately than which leg you work into). Let’s look at how we wrap our yarn.

There are two directions in which the yarn can travel around the needle. I struggled for a long time over how to describe these ways. Things like “from the back, over the top” and “from the back under the bottom” ended up being a little too subjective for many knitters I have worked with. I have finally settled on describing direction of wrapping as Clockwise or Counter Clockwise (when looking at the tip of the needle).

Here is an example:

Whenever I knit or purl, I wrap the yarn Counter Clockwise, which looks like this:

20. Wrapping Counter Clockwise

See it?

21. Really, Counter-Clockwise

How about now?

The alternative, of course is wrapping Clockwise.

22. Wrapping Clockwise

Once again, the purls can be a little harder to visualize, so here are pictures of each. Really, Clockwise and Counter Clockwise look totally different in the purl stitch.

23. Purl wrap, Counter Clockwise

24. Purl Wrap, Clockwise

Many people find it easier to purl by wrapping Clockwise, rather than Counter Clockwise, even if they knit by wrapping Counter Clockwise. Because the direction of wrapping determines the mount of the stitches on the next row, this way of knitting leads to an interesting situation where the stitch mount on the knit side is different from the stitch mount on the purl side (it is actually a very common way of knitting, which I will discuss at length later).

Well, I have officially fulfilled all the promises I made about the “Intro to Stitch Mount” post. Here is a summary of what we have covered, with Vocab Words and important concepts in bold:

  1. Stitches have a Right Leg and a Left Leg
  2. Either leg (Right or Left) can be in Front of the needle (Front Leg) or in Back of the needle (Back Leg)
  3. The Right leg, whether it is in front or back, is further forward on the needle (closer to the tip).
  4. The Knitter can knit or purl into the Front Leg or into the Back Leg (tbl).
  5. When the Knitter works into the Right Leg (whether it is Front or Back), the result will be an untwisted stitch.
  6. Working into the Left Leg (whether it is in Front or Back), will yield a Twisted Stitch.
  7. Most patterns assume that the stitches sit with the Right Legs in Front. When they want a twisted stitch, they say “Knit one to the Back Loop” (Ktbl) This does not work for everyone, and that’s OK. (I will discuss other significant extensions of this idea in Part 3.
  8. When working a stitch (either Knit or Purl), the Knitter can wrap the yarn around the needle either Clockwise or Counter Clockwise. This choice affects the mount of the stitches on the next row.

Are you full yet? Well, I’m getting pretty close to empty for the moment. Here, however, is a sneak peek at what’s to come:

There are two ways to wrap yarn (Clockwise and Counter Clockwise) and two ways enter a stitch (Front Loop or Back Loop) and two kinds of stitches (Knit and Purl). This gives us 16 different permutations, 16 different ways of knitting (stockinette stitch, at least).

In Part 2, I will discuss these permutations, point out the ones that are most common, and (more importantly) show you what they look like and why they look like that. Oh Boy, Oh Boy! (right? I’m sure there is someone out there as excited about this as I am…)

Until then, Happy (and informed) Knitting!

 

Fixing Things: Part 2 (Holes in Socks) January 21, 2010

Filed under: fixing,how to — Hannah Cuviello @ 10:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

Dear Sock Knitters,

As long as I have been knitting socks and giving them to others, I have felt that the best compliment I can receive in return is to see big old holes in the bottom of those socks. While I appreciate the sentiment that leads to handknit socks being hidden away in drawers with sprigs of lavender and cedar, only taken out on special occasions, I personally really knit socks to be worn. I live in the right household for that.

1. Much Loved Socks

These are clearly well-loved socks; pilled and threadbare from months of near constant wear. Now, I didn’t knit these socks, but I think that the dear friend who did would be very gratified to see this:

2. Very Much Loved

Especially knowing that these lovely, warm house socks were the only reason that my husband got out of bed and walked around on our cold hardwood floors this winter. At one point, one of the socks got lost in the laundry; I didn’t see my husband for days.

Now, in the interest of continuing to spend time with my husband during the day, I must make them wearable again. I invite you all to come along for the ride.

First, a note on the socks themselves.  As you can see, they are knit out of a heavy wool, Cascade Eco+. While this wool generally felts very well, we have somehow managed to wash these socks numerous times without any measurable shrinkage.  In the very early washings, there were signs that the socks would like to shrink, however much stretching quickly brought them back in line. Now they don’t even think about it.

I am hopeful that, since the socks are knit out of such a thick wool, the steps in the mending process will be easier to see over the internet. Note that these exact steps may or may not translate to other mending projects. My goal is to share the concepts behind the mending process.   Another disclaimer: This is just how I mend socks. Like almost everything in knitting, there are as many ways to do it as there are knitters and they probably all have their merits.

Now for my mending. Let’s take a closer look.

3. Closer Look

Yep. It’s a hole.  I recognise that red is not the easiest color to discern in detail over the internet, but hopefully, we will manage. The first thing I do when preparing to mend socks is get my bearings: determine how many rows and how many stitches I am dealing with. This might make that a little clearer:

4. Getting my bearings

Above, you see that the top and bottom rows (purple and green) are more or less intact, while the three middle rows have worn away, creating the hole. Along the bottom, are three green “stitches” (represented here by what looks likes previously used green staples). This tells us that about three stitches on each row have come unknit.  My preferred method is to go row by row, recreating the stitches that have come undone. Beginning with the bottom row, I anchor the mending yarn by duplicate stitching in the last two intact stitches of the first row. (What? For clarification of the duplicate stitch, see the previous post.)

4. Start with Duplicate Stitch

Here I have traced two of the intact stitches with the yarn I will use for mending (conveniently, a different color- my husband good-naturedly did not object to having periwinkle patches on his feet).  This is called Duplicate stitch.

Before continuing, I will need to pick up the three stitches from the last fully intact row (the green row in picture 3).

5. Pick up intact stitches.

I like using short, double pointed needles for mending; they don’t get in the way and I can knit in either direction.

The next step is easy. Just knit those three stitches. We all know how to do that!

6. Knit 3 stitches

7. 1st row almost done.

The first row of the hole is not pretty much mended. All we have to do now is anchor the other end, connecting it with the stitches on the other side of the hole.

As with the beginning of the row, we will be using duplicate stitch. Now, the basic rule of duplicate stitch is that the yarn will always come out of a stitch, go up or down diagonally, go behind two legs of the stitch directly above or below, then go back into the same stitch. The key thing to remember is that before the yarn can come out of any stitch, it has to go behind two legs. (People who have read my post on duplicate stitch say “Wait, it took 3 pages and 20 pictures to say that?!”)

8. End of row 1: Duplicate stitch

I think I should have more colors here to aid in explanation.

8b: Duplicate with colors

Look at the third Blue stitch from the right. The yarn comes out of a green stitch (a Balloon, using the terminology of the previous post), over the needle (it would go behind the legs of another stitch if this were intact knitting) then back into the same green stitch, which you can’t see, because it is behind the needle. Now, remember, before the yarn can come out of a stitch, it has to go behind two legs. When the yarn goes back into the green stitch, it goes behind one of the legs (see picture 8b).  I have to use a darning needle to bring the yarn behind the second leg and out through the center of the third green stitch. The stitch on the far left, outlined in blue, is the one I will be duplicating with the mending yarn. When I’m done, it looks like this:

9. Row 1 complete

A quick overview of my intentions for row 2. I will be mending row 2 from left to right (row 1, remember, was right to left). After Duplicate stitching the two intact stitches to the left of the hole, I will knit the three stitches from the needle and then connect them to the fabric on the right side of the hole using duplicate stitch.

Have you detected a problem with this plan? Because I am working from left to right, it seems to necessitate knitting backwards, that is, knitting the three stitches on the needle from left to right, rather than from right to left.  While I have had occasion in my knitting life to become proficient in knitting backwards, I don’t expect everyone out there to be as excited about it as I am. Here is an alternative:

Do the duplicate stitch on the left side of the hole, leave 3 stitches worth of yarn, and do the duplicate stitch on the right side of the hole. Now, using the extra yarn you left, knit the three stitches from right to left. How much yarn does it take to knit three stitches? Well, since I have not actually moved on to the second row yet, I can check on that.

10. Three stitches worth

This is how much yarn you should save.

Now, to continue with the mending,the first thing I have to do is get up to the next row. I have already stated that I intend to work row 2 from left to right, the other option being to cut the yarn and go back to the right hand side of the hole, where I started row one. That, however, would mean two extra ends to weave in and I’m not cool with that. Here is my preference:

11: Up a row

Bring the yarn diagonally up and through the center of the stitch immediately to its right. I am now ready to duplicate the two intact stitches of Row 2 that are on the left side of the hole. Once that is done, I will leave enough yarn loose to knit the three stitches and duplicate the two stitches on the right side of the hole.

12. Leave enough yarn.

In picture 12, I have left enough yarn to go back and knit the three stitches.  Also note that I have begun the duplicate stitch by going under the leg of the left most stitch from the beginning of row one. Once the yarn is secure on the far side of the hole, I knit the three stitches in the center.

13: Row 2 done

With two duplicate stitches done on the right side of row 2, I am ready to begin row 3.

14. Begin row three

In picture 14, I have moved up to row 3 and made two duplicate stitches, just as I did on row 2. Now, it would be lovely if I could just knit the next three stitches and be done with it, but remember from picture 4 that there were only three rows of mending that needed to be done. This being the third row, I have to find a way to connect it to the row above, which remained intact (the purple row in picture 4).

You can see in picture that the yarn of row three goes into the middle of the left most stitch of row 2 and comes out from behind one leg. This means that the next thing I have to do is bring the yarn behind a second leg and out through the center of the next stitch (which happens to be on the needle).

15. Behind the second leg

The next thing to do, according to our duplicate stitch instructions, is: “come out of a stitch, go up diagonally, go behind two legs of the stitch directly above…”

16. Hidden stitch

To find “the stitch directly above”, we have to see where the yarn came from before going behind the legs it just came out of. In other words, we have to backtrack. Now, this is not very fair, given the picture above, since the stitch in question is almost impossible to see.

16b. Found stitch

Focussing on the “teardrops” (for clarification, see previous post), notice that the third teardrop has only one line of yarn coming out of it. We know (from our duplicate stitch rules) that each stitch must have a line coming out and a line going in. This means that our next move has to be a line going into that third stitch.

17. Line out, line in

Next step in the duplicate stitch rules? Go behind two legs.  One leg is shown in the picture above, the second leg is part of the next stitch on the needle.

18. Second leg

Remember the next step? We’ve just gone behind two legs, now we move diagonally downwards and go into the last stitch that the yarn came out of.

19. Downward Diagonally

21. Into the center and under two

Still with me?

I have just gone under two legs of a lower stitch. Now I have to go back up diagonally, into the center of an upper stitch and under two legs.

22. Under two upper legs

Again, I highlighted the upper legs in question, since they can be extra hard to see. The second leg belongs to the stitch on the needle.

23. Under two upper legs

Now into a lower stitch and under two legs there.

24. Two lower legs

Next, you guessed it, up and under two upper legs.

25. Last two upper legs

And now for the last two lower legs.

26. Last two lower legs

Note that the leg on the left belongs to one of the initial duplicate stitches from the beginning of row 2! We’re home free.

27. All done

There we have it. There may be a pop quiz later.

Before I (finally) end this post, I would like to say a word or two about prevention. Of course, well-loved socks are going to wear out eventually, but the lovely people in the yarn industry have given us some tools to help fend off that day a little longer. One of these tools is darning yarn. This is generally a very thin wool/nylon blend thread that can be held together with the actual yarn while knitting the heel and the toe (the two parts of the sock that most commonly develop holes). The darning yarn is thin enough that it won’t change your gauge or create uncomfortable bulk in the sock.  It can also be used to shore up thin patches on elbows or other threadbare places on sweaters, if you don’t have access to the original yarn. In many cases, the darning yarn is thin enough it be used for mending holes in machine knit or store-bought garments.

What if your socks don’t wear just at the toe or heel? The socks above, for example, wore out more on the ball of the foot. If you don’t necessarily want darning yarn knit together with the regular yarn all the way around the foot, you can duplicate stitch the darning yarn over just the areas that tend to wear (seeing as you are all now experts in duplicate stitch).

OK. I think that I may have actually run out of words. I know, you thought it was never going to happen. Well, here is proof. Go now and wear your handknit socks without fear!