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Life with Fiber and Fiber Arts

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!

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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

 

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

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