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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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Never Ending Story quote, BTW)

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

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

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

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

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

OK. Post over. Have a good day.

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

3. Right Leg in Front

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

4. Left Leg in Front of Needle

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

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

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

5. "Jest coll me Stee-uch."

Our little Cowboy sits on the needle. Hmmm…

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

We’d better make it a horse.

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

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

Compare to Picture 8 below.

8. Cowboy facing away.

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

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

9. Cowboys facing away.

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

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

Below is the alternative.

10. Howdy, cowboys!

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

These concepts also apply to purl stitches.

11. Purl Stitch, Right Leg in Front

12. Purl Stitch, Left Leg in Front

OK. Vocab/Concept review.

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

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

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

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

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

Cowboy- Another name for a stitch.

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

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

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

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

Guess what! I have more pictures!

Let’s start with number 1.

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

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

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

14. Knit into the Back Leg

There are several things of note in Picture 14.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) The Back Leg is further forward

3) The legs are not twisted at the base.

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

16. Knit into Front Leg, twisting

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

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. Purling into the Front Leg

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

18. Purling into the Back Leg

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

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

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

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

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

Here is an example:

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

20. Wrapping Counter Clockwise

See it?

21. Really, Counter-Clockwise

How about now?

The alternative, of course is wrapping Clockwise.

22. Wrapping Clockwise

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

23. Purl wrap, Counter Clockwise

24. Purl Wrap, Clockwise

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, Happy (and informed) Knitting!

 

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

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

Dear Sock Knitters,

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

1. Much Loved Socks

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

2. Very Much Loved

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

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

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

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

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

3. Closer Look

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

4. Getting my bearings

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

4. Start with Duplicate Stitch

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

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

5. Pick up intact stitches.

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

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

6. Knit 3 stitches

7. 1st row almost done.

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

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

8. End of row 1: Duplicate stitch

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

8b: Duplicate with colors

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

9. Row 1 complete

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

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

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

10. Three stitches worth

This is how much yarn you should save.

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

11: Up a row

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

12. Leave enough yarn.

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

13: Row 2 done

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

14. Begin row three

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

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

15. Behind the second leg

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

16. Hidden stitch

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

16b. Found stitch

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

17. Line out, line in

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

18. Second leg

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

19. Downward Diagonally

21. Into the center and under two

Still with me?

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

22. Under two upper legs

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

23. Under two upper legs

Now into a lower stitch and under two legs there.

24. Two lower legs

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

25. Last two upper legs

And now for the last two lower legs.

26. Last two lower legs

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

27. All done

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

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

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

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

 

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.