Abundance

Life with Fiber and Fiber Arts

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 1 1/2 (Meet Duplicate Stitch) January 21, 2010

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
Tags: , , , , , ,

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
Tags: , , ,

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.