Abundance

Life with Fiber and Fiber Arts

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!

 

Update February 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 5:46 am

OK, so the update is a little late, but here is the final score:
Life To-Do List- 5
Fiber To-Do List- 0
Ouch!
What can I say? The fog burned off early. There will, however, be another useful and informative post coming up very soon…

 

Knitting Weather February 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 6:21 am

It is this kind of day outside:

Something about fog makes me think that I can accomplish anything fiber related. The stillness, the quiet, the fuzziness around the edges make me feel removed from the timeline. In my new limitless span of fog time, here is what I intend to accomplish:
-Finish all the swatching for the pattern I’m working on.
-Spin up a pound of fiber.
-Write a blog post about stitch orientation and how it affects decreases and increases.
-Finish my stinkin’ mitten pattern.

That sounds reasonable, right? Forget that my Real Life jobs for today include: clean the house, take care of grandma, meet with a yarn rep, prepare the new Clearance section of our website and cook dinner. As long as the fog doesn’t burn off before noon I should be golden, right? I will report back at the end of the day with my results.
Note to readers: The person who wrote this blog is an easily distractable dreamer with a notoriously bad sense of time requirements.

 

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!

 

Fixing Things: Part 1 1/2 (Meet Duplicate Stitch)

Filed under: how to — Hannah Cuviello @ 8:24 am
Tags: , , , ,

Well, I know I promised that my next post would be a “tutorial” on mending holes in socks, but it turns out that I lied. Actually, I was about halfway through constructing said tutorial, when it occurred to me that not everyone out there is working from the same basis of knowledge.  When I say things like “Anchor your yarn by duplicate stitching in the last two complete stitches of the row”, there are those out there who will go “Huh?!”.  And that’s OK; I’ve got you covered.  Here is a quick, but hopefully thorough enough lesson in Duplicate stitch.

First: A Definition.

Duplicate stitch is the process of recreating or tracing the line of a stitch on top of an existing stitch, usually using a different color of yarn. It is an extremely handy technique for any of the following:

1. Creating designs on finished knitting by “drawing on” stitches of a different color.

2. Reinforcing threadbare stitches to prevent the formation of holes (usually done in the same color).

3. Weaving in ends.  This is a totally invisible, very secure (if somewhat fussy) way to weave in ends, and I know many brilliant knitters who use it to great advantage.

4. Closing up holes that occurred due to dropped stitches (once the stitches have been picked up, of course), unintentionally made stitches, stretched out stitches, etc.

On a more abstract level, practicing duplicate stitch is a wonderful way (it’s in italics because I feel very strongly about it) to learn more about the structure of your knitting. The path that your yarn takes as it travels through the row, the way it interacts with stitches from other rows, the relationship between a single stitch and the stitches around it; these can all be better understood by learning about duplicate stitch.

This is my goal in today’s lesson. I want to help you better understand just what your yarn is doing (and establish some shared terminology that I can use later on). I promise that it will make the following tutorial on sock mending much easier to follow.

OK. Let’s start with some knitting.

Often, when I am talking to people about their stitches, I will refer to columns and rows of  “V’s”. Do you see the “V’s”?

Does that help? Now, it turns out that, when trying to think of a row as an interconnected unit (which we are trying to do), the idea of “V’s” can be a little misleading. Stitches are not separate entities.  Anyone who has tried to pick up an entire row of stitches that has fallen off the needle knows that what you do to one stitch has a very real effect on the stitch next to it.  Let’s see how these V’s are connected.

(Sorry about the crudeness of the pictures. Someday I will learn how to use InDesign and Photoshop, and then everything I do will be pretty!)

The yellow above shows the path that the yarn takes on any given row. It’s very squiggly. For the sake of this and the next tutorial, I am going to come up with cutesy names for the different, salient parts of the row.

The part of the stitch that curves up and interlocks with the row above is now called a “Balloon”, and the part that curves down and interlocks with the row below is now called a “Teardrop” (Is that too sad? Oh well. They’re happy tears.) I call the sides of the Balloons and Teardrops “legs”. Have a look at how the Balloons and Teardrops from one row interact with those from another.

Note that the yellow Balloons are wrapping around the bottom of the White Balloons and the yellow Teardrops are coming through the middle of the white Teardrops.

Alternately, white Balloons are coming through the top of the yellow Balloons and the white Teardrops are wrapping around top of the yellow Teardrops.

Looking at just the “V’s” now, see if you can trace the path of each row.

Ok. Now for a step by step virtual duplicate stitch.

Here are two rows of knitting, Green and Blue. We are going to create a row of duplicate stitch between them.

Step 1

Step 1: With a threaded needle (played here by a thick yellow line), go behind the legs of the first Blue stitch.  Note, you will always go behind the legs of a stitch at its narrowest point; the bottom of a balloon or the top of a teardrop.

Step 2

Step 2: Coming out from behind the legs of the balloon, bring the yarn down diagonally into the center of the Balloon one stitch below the Balloon you just went behind.

Step 3:

Step 3: Go behind the legs of the Teardrop immediately to the left.

Step 4

Step 4: Go up diagonally into the center of the teardrop you came out of in step 2. Note: on the top, you will always be going behind balloons and coming out of teardrops, while on the bottom, you will be going behind teardrops and coming out of balloons. (What a very bizarre sentence.)

Now, we repeat the process.

Step 5

Step 5: Go behind the legs of the next balloon.

Step 6

Step 6: Go down diagonally into the center of the balloon one stitch below the balloon you went behind in step 5.

To begin the process again, go back to step 3.

Note: Whenever your thread comes out of a stitch (balloon or teardrop) it will eventually go back in that same stitch, after going behind the legs of the stitch directly above or below it.

In other words, you will always 1. Come out of a stitch, 2. go behind the two legs of the stitch directly (or rather one row) above or below that stitch, then 3. go back into the same stitch.

The tricky thing is that your point of view (whether you are focussing on the Balloons or the Teardrops) can change without warning. It is important to notice that, while you are going behind the legs of a Teardrop, you are also coming out of the center of a Balloon.

In know, sometimes labelling things does not make them simpler. The best thing is just to follow along with the steps until your eyes and hands start to recognize the movement.

Once you have a handle on the shape of the stitches and the path the yarn takes through the row, feel free to move on to the sock mending post.

I hope this helped.

 

Fixing Things- Part 1 January 17, 2010

Filed under: how to — Hannah Cuviello @ 3:55 pm
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I love fixing things. For “things”, of course, read “knitted things”, since I am fairly close to useless when it comes to anything mechanical, electronic, or sewing-related. Hmm, let’s start over.

I love fixing knitted things. I love fixing things for other knitters, because they have an idea of what it takes. I especially love, though, fixing things for non-knitters, because for them I have done something magical and mysterious. It must be akin to how I feel when someone fixes my computer; a little bit of awe mixed with just enough understanding to be duly impressed, and much, much appreciation.

Like so many people this time of year, I have made a fair stack of New Year’s resolutions, one of which was to finally make my way through the piles of to-be-mended knit items, blogging the entire time. On the one hand, I am excited to share what I love to do with everyone else (and maybe even help someone along the way), on the other hand, it adds one more step to the whole mending process, thereby giving me one more reason to put off the actual doing (just because I enjoy it doesn’t mean I don’t procrastinate).  Two weeks into the year, I have finally managed to get my camera and my mending out at the same time, leading, it turns out, to what will be several posts (I figure that if I announce it now, there can be no backing out).

I have actually chosen to start with the most recent addition to my fix-it pile. I give you… a top down sock that was cast on too tightly.

Well, you can’t exactly see it there. How about now?

There. Clearly, this it too tight. Those out there who are new knitters or knitters just beginning to enter the exciting world of Sock Knitting, feel free have a little laugh and know that there is no one out there who has been knitting too long to make mistakes.  (Picture note: The sock itself is really quite stretchy, although it doesn’t look it. Knit in a 3×2 ribbing, the ribs pull in quite tight when not stretched. I have found that this ribbing does not sag quite as much as a 2×2 rib, so it is generally my favorite for plain ribbed socks).

Now, fixing a tight cast on is not actually mending, per se, but it is a mistake common enough that I think there may be some people out there who would be interested in knowing a way to fix it, other than ripping out the entire sock. Here is what I am going to do:

1. Pick up stitches just under the cast on,

2. Pick out the cast on, so that I have live stitches (stitches that are ready to be knit and are only attached to the knitting at the bottom) on my needles,

3. Bind these stitched off, using a stretchy bind off, in this case, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off.

There you are. 3 steps. Nothing at all. Well, 15 pictures worth of nothing. Let’s go.

(Disclaimer:  I’m not calling this a “tutorial”; the pictures just aren’t clear enough. Someday, when I’m rich and famous and have more than just two hands – and wouldn’t I just get so much knitting done!- I will have a fancy camera that takes really amazing pictures. Maybe even videos. Then I will call them tutorials.)  In the meantime, these are just very verbose (take that as a warning) step-by-step examples.

Step one: Picking up stitches.

The first thing to do is identify the row below the cast on. In the picture below, the first row is white (one of the benefits of using variegated yarn).  This is the row I will be picking up.

There are two ways to pick up stitches out of a flat piece of fabric (note that this is different than picking up stitches for a sock gusset or picking up stitches for a button band).  The picture below shows stitches being picked up from the front of the fabric. You can tell it is the front by looking at the cast on edge. I used the long tail cast on, the front of which has a nice looking, twisted edge.  In yellow, I have outlined the path that the yarn takes from the beginning of the stitch to be picked up to the end.

This is a fine way of picking up stitches, but it is not the way I used.

I prefer to pick up my stitches from the back of the fabric.

Note that the row of interest is still the white one at the top. Personally, I find the path of the row (meaning the outline of all the stitches in that row) easier to see from the back. Below, I have outlined that path in blue.

The upper white horizontal bars (well, they are outlined in blue in this picture) are what I call the top of the stitch. Each stitch has a right and a left “leg”, the semi vertical/diagonal white (blue) lines on either side of the top. To pick up the stitches, I insert the needle behind the right leg of a stitch, bring it up between the two legs, over the left leg, and under the right leg of the next stitch.

Of course, inserting the needle promptly obscures most of what I’m talking about. Here is a picture with labels:

"Left legs are hidden behind the needle."

Pick up stitches all the way around. Now, I will admit, when I was done picking up stitches, I had one stitch fewer than when I cast on. Note that the stitches I am working with are upside down related to how they were when I cast on. That said, I am choosing to believe that the missing stitch is actually a function of upside-down stitch anatomy. No, I have not actually verified this. I know that’s not very thorough of me, but what do you expect from a girl who casts her stitches on too tightly.

At least when they were all picked up, there didn’t seem to be any holes.

Step 2: Picking out the cast on.

Locate the beginning/end of your cast on (hint: there should be a string there).

OK, I admit that I have already done the first part of the picking out in this picture. It should be fairly self evident, though. Find where the string is coming from and pull it through in the direction it came from (compare the picture above with the one below, where the string has been pulled out just a bit).

Continue pulling out the cast on strand until all the stitches are loose on the needle.

Above, three stitches have been picked out. I find it helpful to use a darning needle to pick out the cast on strand (“Now she tells us!”).

When all the stitches are loose on the needle, it is time to bind off.

Step 3: The Zimmerman Sewn Bind Off

This is one of my favorite bind-offs. Its stretchiness makes it perfect for the cuffs of toe-up (and sometimes top-down) socks.

The cast off is made up of two steps, once the set up is finished.

Set up:

Luckily, I had left enough extra yarn on my cast on that, combined with the yarn I had picked out of the cast on, I had enough already attached to do the bind off. Thread the yarn from the cast on through a darning needle,  insert that needle into the first two stitches as if to purl and pull the yarn all the way through. Do not slip the stitches off the needle yet.

Now, transfer the first stitch (of the two you just worked) onto the needle to the right, with the stitches that have not yet been worked.In the picture below, the stitch has already been transferred (it’s the green one). Set up is complete.

Bind off step one:

Insert the darning needle into the first two stitches as if to purl. Pull through.

Bind off step 2:

Insert the darning needle into the first stitch on the needle as if to knit. Slip that stitch off the needle.

Repeat Bind off steps 1 and 2 until all the stitches are bound off. In the process, you will go into each stitch twice as if to purl and once as if to knit (You don’t actually have to think about that if you don’t want to. You can just follow the steps).

When all the stitches are bound off, weave in the ends and enjoy your stretchy bind off!

Much better.  Well, at least take my word for it if you can’t quite tell from the picture. I did scroll back to compare, and it is not immediately obvious that there is more room now than there was before. I wouldn’t want you to think that this was all for nothing; the sock did end up fitting the intended foot. Now here’s the big question. For sock number two, should I cast on more loosely and hope that they match well enough, or should I purposefully cast on too tightly and go through the same process, just to make sure that they are the same. I’m not going to tell you which one I choose. I am going to let you all speculate about just how crazy I really am.

I hope this was helpful. If there are any questions, I am happy to answer them.

Next up: Mending (yes, real mending this time) socks.

 

Dear Newbie Sock Knitters… January 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 7:11 am
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I just wanted you to know that even people who have been knitting socks for years and years can still make silly mistakes. For example, they may cast on their top down socks too tightly, such that, when the sock is completely finished, the beloved recipient cannot get it over her foot, much less up her leg. Stay tuned for a picture tutorial about how to fix this.

 

Gratuitous Yarn Pics December 13, 2009

Filed under: Yarn Pics,Yarn review — Hannah Cuviello @ 11:16 am
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I have just spent the last few days taking pictures of Lorna’s Sock Yarn. Now, I have to admit that I was not as efficient as I could have been. I may have gotten distracted here and there. I may have taken more pictures than were  completely necessary. I may have played around with different color combinations and pretended that I was going to make argyle socks or colorwork mittens out of them. This is the reason that yarn junkies never should always should be in charge of yarn photoshoots.  I hope you enjoy the outtakes.  (Incidentally, you can link to this yarn in the store here.  I didn’t want to make all the pictures links, because that would be annoying.)

Goldhill. Raise your hand if this is your favorite Lorna's color.

Blackberry. I had an extra hard time with the really red purples.

I’m going to start with the singles and then move on to my favorite color combos.

Baltic Sea. Lines, Contrast, Depth. This is me getting used to the camera settings.

Bittersweet. Hard to really get the vibrance without making it too saturated.

Didn't work for the website, but Gosh that is pretty.

Something about the lines and colors in this reminds me of the Jetsons.

I love this picture. Just love it.

I love this color so much it gets two pictures.

And now for some group shots. A nod to Lorna's beautiful array of solids.

Pow! Pow! I'm not suggesting that these colors should be knit together in something, just for the record.

Shh...the baby's sleeping.

I think this is a very handsome combination for a man's Argyle. Let me qualify that. I don't normally tend toward gender bias when it comes to colors, but I have spent years answering the question "What are good Guy colors?"

...and fielding odd glances when I suggest this. Incidentally, I would knit these for my husband...and he would wear them.

I don't even know if I want to knit this one. I just want to look at it. OK, I do want to knit it.

 

Recipes for Happy December 2, 2009

Filed under: designs,New pattern,Yarn Pics,Yarn review — Hannah Cuviello @ 7:57 pm
Tags: , , ,

It’s well into the busy time for fiber enthusiasts. The weather is getting colder, so we knit bits of warmth for ourselves and our loved ones.  The gift giving season is upon us, so we knit for others. This year, I’ve had so many huge projects on my plate that my “for warmth” knitting and my “for gifts” knitting have both lagged frighteningly far behind. It’s so bad that I actually just bought 2 sweaters (Don’t tell Grammy)! I haven’t gotten so hard up as to purchase a scarf or hat yet; I think I would sooner just wrap the yarn around my head (OK, maybe I would do that anyway).

With all I have to do, I have actually gotten very little knitting done (for me).  This is worrisome because I am not only trying to develop several patterns at the moment and trying to fulfill all my knitting obligatoins (as in, I promised someone a garment and have yet to deliver), but mostly because knitting equals sanity, as I’m sure you all know. I have found that the amount of knitting I do on a daily basis is closely linked to my problem solving skills and ability to cope with stressers in my environment.   In the absence of actual knitting, I have had to find other little things to help me maintain my overall optimistic and happy nature and prevent me from prevent me from downward spiralling into new and frightening depths of crazy.  Here are some of the things that have made me particularly happy in the last couple of weeks and for which I am very thankful:

Of course, Ice cream. This, however is not just any ice cream; these are perhaps the two best flavors of ice cream ever. On the right, we have Bone Chunks: Lemon ice cream with chunks of chortbread and white chocolate and chocolate covered sunflower seeds. It’s as bright and happy in your mouth as it is in the bowl.  On the left is Circus. I love this ice cream because it is thematically consitent. Cotton Candy ice cream with Mother’s Circus cookies (the white and pink one with the sprinkles). You might go into a little bit of sugar shock eating it, but it’s well worth it. They come from a local creamery in Spokane (Brain Freeze) and can be purchased, among other places, at The Scoop, my new local ice creamery.

Sloot Prototype

Some of the knitting I did manage to get done turned into a prototype for my new favorite garment, the Sloot – that is, Slipper Boot.  This is a child’s size and I have already cast on for the big one (my size!).  The ripple pattern makes this extra comfy and cushy. Doing the prototype gave me some very useful insight into changes I will have to make for the full sized version.

Sloot Side view- Have to change the increases

For one thing, I will do the calf increases along the center back, rather than on the sides, which will give it a less drastic increase while still being symmestrical. Other than that. I am thrilled.

Not my size.Kitty may be less impressed.
At the risk of seeming like more of a crazy cat lady than I really am, here is something Saffron (aka, kitty) wanted to add to the “Makes me happy” list.

Saffy's recipe for Happy

This consists of a soft place to sleep, a sunbeam, and something lacey to sink the claws into.  Coincidentally, this picture also makes me very happy. I distract her with curtains so she stays away from the knitting.

Lacking much knitting time myself, I was thankful to find a willing knitter to finally finish my second cabled fingerless mitt. While I’ve had this pattern written up for awhile, I have just never gotten around to knitting the second mitt.

If I do say so myself, I am quite pleased with these mitts. They are simple, but have nice little touches, like symetrical, off-center cables.  As of a day or so ago, they also have…

An afterthought thumb gusset.

This makes me soooooo happy. Many people who knit these fingerless mitts when I first printed up the patter didn’t care for how wide the thumb hole is. Admittedly, it is very wide, but I was aiming for maximum maneuverability. Now, everyone is happy. I have revamped the pattern, added directions for the thumb, and put up on the website for free download. I’m hoping people will take advantage of this; they’re really a ridiculously quick knit and perfect for the season (being both warm and good gifts).

Click on the following picture to go to the download page. Enjoy!

Finally, when I don’t have time to knit, the next best thing is to look at pretty yarn. So here we go (with commentary, since all the people in the room with me now are not yarnies and look at me funny when I talk to the pretties, but I have to let it out somehow.)

Meet Mericash.  This yarn is almost at odds with itself; so light and ephemeral it’s hardly there at all, but with colors so vibrant they seem to fill all the space around them.

Look at this.

It’s like “POW” right in the eyes, but the most refreshing, beautiful pow ever and I just keep going back for more.  It makes my hands itch. I’m feeling major cast on urges!

Some yarns, I’m sure you have noticed, have real personalities.

Pearl is a total Diva. Look at her, all dressed up and ready to go out. She’s sultry and elegant, and colors always look better on her. She’s almost a little too perfect.

At the store, we had completely sold out of our Pearl, and I have to admit that I was feeling a bit safer not having that kind of  temptation.Then we got in these new colors.

I just want to scrunch my fingers in them!

"I'm Ready For My Closeup..."

Some people who have spent time with me while I was talking about yarn (hmm, redundant maybe)  may have heard words to the effect of “my favorite yarn” escape my lips. These words, I’m a little ashamed to say, could have referred to any number of yarns of which I was enamoured at the time. Now, I’m not fickle, I just have much love to give. When it comes down to it, though, there is one yarn that I have stashed more often than any other, and from which I have made more items. And…we got in new colors. Please welcome Lorna’s Shepherd Worsted.

Observe it’s suppleness.

Note the delicate transitions from one shade to the next, the colors that evoke serenity and peace.

There are just too many beautiful colors from Lorna’s.  They have to be stopped. It’s not fair to us knitters; how can we possibly knit all the beautiful colors.

OK. I have to go knit now.

Next time …

Scenes from the Lorna’s Shepherd Sock photo shoot! (about 60 colors in stock- I just counted).

 

Next Up… November 10, 2009

Filed under: designs,New pattern,Uncategorized,Yarn Pics — Hannah Cuviello @ 4:35 am
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I have finished a pattern. It’s done. seedling hat

I typed it up, added pictures, made a chart (with much technical help), put it all together and converted it to a pdf. I have now officially exhausted my technical abilities. That’s all I’ve got- it’s guess-work from here on out.

I am going to try uploading it to my blog. Here goes (remember…guess work).

hmm.

See the empty space? Yeah.

Well, luckily, I have access to someone who has much more computery knowledge than I have. My father has successfully uploaded the pattern to the store website, where it is now available for free download!

seedling side

Click here to go to Download Page

With all this awful computer nonsense accomplished, I think I’ve earned some knitting time! “What’s next?”, you may ask…

Some of you may remember the 5 beautiful, naturally dyed colors that Stevanie at Abundant Yarn (now at Pico Accuardi dyeworks) developed for Cascade.  Cascade colorsWe hosted a color naming contest for these during Sock Summit, and Cascade chose the names a month or so ago.  From left to right, we have Seattle Blues, Sage Honey, Wild Honey, Desert Adobe, and Briar Rose.

I am working on sock patterns for each of these colorways, inspired by the names.

As you can see, I’ve been hard at work.

sock plans

Clearly, I tend towards the technical in my pattern development.

It can’t all be work, work, work, though (go ahead and feel jealous that I call drawing pictures of socks “work”). I actually have some personally fulfilling projects started, the most exciting of which is a new pair of slippers. Now, to understand what this means, you have to realize that slippers are an institution in my family.

Let us start at the beginning, though. I had a knitting Grammy. She was the foundation of all the fiber experiences of my life. Among the many patterns that were her signature creations (well, I don’t know if she really came up with the patterns- they could be everywhere- but she sure knit a lot of them) were a particular pair of slippers.  These slippers were simple and quick to knit, and were among my own first projects.

Grammy slippers

Every year at Christmas, every member of our family would receive a pair of knitted slippers. Such was the voracity of Grammy’s slipper knitting. Pictured above are perhaps the last extant pair of Grammy-knit slippers. I love them, but I want more. Now, of course I could just knit another pair of slippers and have them done in a relative snap. When I say “more”, though, I don’t just mean more pairs of slippers, I mean more slipper in each pair.

I’m going to make Slipper Boots! Sloots! Sloops? sbippers? Whatever.

You see, it is ridiculously cold in Spokane, and I am not used to this. The more of my body is covered with wool, the better. If the wool just happens to be knit in a ridiculous, puffy stitch, well even better still. I’m so excited! I’m knitting them right now, in between letters (is that why my blog posts take so long?).

New slippers

The choice of yarn here was, of course, key. I knew I wanted a worsted weight wool. Working from my stash naturally narrowed the options (OK, so it didn’t actually narrow them that much). I had to choose between Cascade 220 in Green and Gold, Lorna’s Laces Shepherds Worsted (my favorite yarn to knit with- yes, I have a favorite) in some dark variegateds and Imperial Stock Ranch 2Ply in “Black Cherry” and “Heathered Teal”.

When I came down to it, though, the choice really made itself. I already have a couple of projects in Cascade 220 green and gold (one of which happens to be slippers), so that was out.  I have a weird, covety thing about the Lorna’s in my stash (saving it for the perfect sweater), and I just couldn’t let it go, even for such a worthy project.  It came down to the ISR.  Really, this is a perfect wool for the project. It is remarkably light and lofty, while still holding its shape, the colors are lovely, and it come in rather large put-ups. Plus, ISR is an amazing company and I enjoy supporting them.

That said, I have a warm cup of coffee and some knitting waiting for me…

Spokane Cup

Cute novelty cup that I found in Seattle, of all places. It only holds about 4oz of coffee, but it is one of my favorite possessions. Plus extra getting up for refills just means that I work off another slice of pie, right?