The Humble Garter Stitch

IKEA has a sale on rugs. They are 20% off right now. I do not know if you are interested in this information, I am only telling you because I spent most of the day driving to IKEAs – plural, yes, I had to go to two of them since even though the inventory online said my rug was in stock, I had not called to verify this and hence was informed that I really should call if the stock is low and, well, first come, first serve and no rain checks – getting my coveted rug on sale.Β This involved driving in unknown territory, thankfully mostly on the highway – I do get lost easily.

Now (aobut 2.45 pm) I am back here in front of the computer and trying to make sense – you might wonder what my rug has to do with garter stitch? Well, to put it simply: Nothing. Apart from the fact, maybe, that it is made of wool and I like knitting with wool…there, I tried.

Are you participating in the Stephen West Mystery KAL? How about all of our colour choices? Were you suprised? I, for one, am pleasantly surprised that I managed to finish the first clue, really, it was fun to knit! See, I am not good with those knit-alongs, whenever you tell me that I have to knit on a certain project, I rather knit anything else. So far I do not feel that way, let’s see how it goes. If you are curious about our progress, you can check it out here. (As of now I yet have to post a picture of mine. I will, promised.)

I am talking about the KAL because the project is actually knit in garter – very clever garter, but garter nonetheless. Meaning, even though garter stitch means essentially ‘just knitting’ there are ways to make it up to date and happening. Stephen West has this down to a T, as you can see in his other designs like the Batad (which has some stockinette, but knit in the round) or Smooth Move.

Garter is often underestimated, in my opinion. I love a squishy garter knit – especially when you can let the yarn do the work, meaning you use something soft and scrumptious like Baby Alpaca, or the Ultimate Merino (as in Woolfolk!). It doesn’t have to be cashmere, but hey, why not!

Here are a few projects from the Espace Tricot project page – check it out:

Shawls

four shawlsTop to bottom clockwise: Red Label Color, Moody Street, Drachenschwanz, Giant Luxury!

Hats, Scarves, Cowls etc:

hat scarves cowlTop to bottom clockwise: Mega Katy, Rocketeer, Color Tipped Scarf, Basalt

Garments – full garter or partly garter:

garmentsTop to bottom clockwise: Flax, Weekend Wrap, Lottie in Lark, Fall Coat,

Baby blankets:

sc_blanket1_medium2Left to right: Koigu Love, Super Happy Baby Blanket

As I have said, these are just a few picks. It appears we love garter! And I do know for a fact we are not alone in this. How about you?

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

 

 

Vermonter Mods

After posting the picture of the ‘little’ Vermonter last week I received some requests for the modifications I made. Well, here they are: (Everything I have done differently is written here, otherwise I worked as pattern says!)

CO 39 sts. (Rest as pattern says.)

Brim: As pattern says.

Crown:

Rounds 1-3: knit

Round 4: purl

Rounds 5-7: knit

Round 8: purl

Rounds 9-11: knit

Round 12: p2tog, purl 18, p2tog, p to last 2 sts, p2tog = 35 sts

Decreases: Please read carefully, decreases are not evenly spaced and happen also on a purl round!

Rounds 1 and 2: knit

Round 3: *k2tog, k5; rep from * to end of rnd

Round 4: purl

Rounds 5 and 7: knit

Round 6: *k2tog, k4; rep from * to end of rnd

Round 8: *p2tog, p3; rep from * to end of rnd

Round 9: knit

Round 10: *k2tog, k2; rep from * to end of rnd

Round 11: *k2tog, k1: rep from * to end of rnd

Round 12: *k2tog; rep to end of rnd – 6 sts.

Rest as pattern says!

And here is a picture of the size difference:

IMG_9750

As you can see, a tad smaller – just right for a kid!

Tomorrow starts the Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL – I for one am excited! Let’s for the moment forget about the fact that I don’t really do well in KALs, the mystery factor makes me totally want to participate. Also, the secret of the colour combos is out! Have you guessed some right? I bet there were a few surprises…

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

 

 

My Mind Is Made Up

Hello everyone and thank you for participating in my little poll (which is now closed, I might add)! I do appreciate your versatile comments on the two choices.

I have been following the votes and looking for the result all week long, and from the beginning it seemed clear the “The Vermonter” was and is a front runner. There you have it, that is the hat I am knitting. Which does not mean I won’t knit the Earflap hat at all, that one might follow since I have shown my daughter the choice of hat patterns and she asked for both (greedy little 6 year old that she is, as well as: understandably so, it was also suggested by quite a few readers).

Today it feels really weird to knit a bulky winter hat, since yesterday and today the temperature was more like late Summer than Fall. Very warm and humid, people were out and about in shorts and sandals here in Montreal. The thing is, I know that we are going to need it, if not soon then soon enough. With Canadian Thanksgiving gone it is custom (or rather: recommended) to switch to Winter tires now (our car is having them installed as I write this) and this seems even weirder to me today. It is the reverse experience of knitting a linen sweater in March in Montreal, I guess.

IMG_9735Still Life with yarn.

Since the hat of the original pattern would be too large for a kid, I have adapted the numbers. Fewer stitches cast on and fewer rounds will be knit. Come back for a look at a complete hat soon!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

 

 

Your Opinion Is Requested

There are so many patterns out there that the dilemma of which one to knit is frequently upon me. This time around I want to knit a hat and I have narrowed it down to two – either one will look cute on my daughter – but I can for the life of me not decide which one to make.

That is why I am going to let you make up my mind.

The choices:

“The Vermonter” by Abi Gregorio (I made that one for me last year and it was my favourite hat to wear all Winter!)

Picture from here

Β OR

The Amelia Earflap Hat by Lion Brand

Image of Amelia Earflap Hat

Picture from here

At least the yarn I have decided on! I am going to use “Magnum” by Cascade – of course!

The poll will be open until my next post – so go ahead, tell me what to do – for once…

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Let Me Tell You…

My Mother is visiting. She is usually visiting around this time of year to celebrate her granddaughter’s birthday with us – which is a special treat for us as well. My Mom is a knitter, but at home – even now retired – she does not knit that much (she says). When she sets foot into our house, this is totally changed. It is like the knitting needles never leave her hands and she produces one FO after the other. This year she is kinda obsessed with something I have also knit, but I think she decided she had to knit it after she saw a customer in the store wear it.

IMG_9704This is my version. If there is one tip I’d give you, it’s this: DO NOT STEAM/BLOCK THE CLINCHER! You want the rows to scrunch up. Too late for mine.

Now, what you have to understand is that my Mom does not speak English, so most of my patterns are really quite useless, unless they have a chart or are set up in a way that the repetition can be figured out and no actual reading of the pattern is necessary, and me explaining a bit how it goes works usually out. Which is why she did not wait for me to find my pattern but just grabbed some yarn, my sample and got started with her version of the “Clincher”. 3 and some clinchersShe’s knit three and is on the fourth. She used yarn I had at home, so some of them are worked in a heavier yarn than the original but it worked out really well! (On the sly she is sneaking in two pair of socks, you know.)

My Mom is a lifelong knitter and has taught me a lot. However, the way my life has turned out knitwise, meaning first knitting samples for a designer, then working for a yarn company and now in a yarn store, I have alsoΒ  accumulated a lot of knitting knowledge. Not to say I know more, but I do know different things. She is also a crocheter, and when my daughter has requests like: “Oma, make me a pony robe, please! With a hood!” she sits down and whips it up in a way that I could not. (Sadly, I cannot show you a picture of it today since Rainbow Dash is off to Papa’s office, as my daughter tells me.) Coming back to what we know: She can construct clothes – no matter for whom – like no one else I know. I, on the other hand, have collected a lot of technical knowledge, which helps with that but is quite another story.

When she arrived at the point in the pattern where you switch to the contrast colour, she was stumped. Turning the piece over and from one side to the other she offered solutions how to knit it that were all, well, not doing the trick. Indeed, it is not hard at all, but as with a lot of things you have to know how to do it. I admit I let her steam just a little bit before I told her. As with almost everything knitting she got it right away – no long explanation necessary, as knitters we just click. (I won’t tell you about the time when I tried to show her the tubular cast-on, something she thinks she can well do without…)

I was thinking since she was so taken with the pattern you might like it also, and have a few yarn suggestions if you feel like knitting one!

The pattern asks for a fingering weight and we do have a lot of that in store.

For the main colour I used Madelinetosh Tosh Light in Astrid Grey (on the left you can see some sample colours). (Psst, we’re expecting a huge new delivery of Mad Tosh Light – keep your fingers crossed that the customs officer do not take forever to clear it…!) Tanis’ Red Label is also a perfect yarn to wind around your neck (pic in the middle), as is Sweetgeorgia Cash Luxe Fine (not pictured). Talking about Sweetgeorgia, what about the Merino Silk Fine (right side)?

3 yarnsNow to the loopy part:

IMG_9686For some punch try a neon – I used “Edison Bulb” by Madelinetosh in Tosh Light. The pink is Koigu KPPPM and the orange is Regia Sock yarn.

IMG_9688This is the Lange Mille Colori Baby – a bit more colorful.

IMG_9696And never ever forget about our Wall of Koigu, which is actually perfect as MC and loopy border!

Those are just a few picks, we do have more fingering weight yarn in store. How about it? Feel like knitting a Clincher, too? I’ll let my Mom know she’s not alone…

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Measure Once…

Today I do not have much, but what I want to talk about is one of the tools I use often. If I may say so myself, I am pretty good at knowing the size of a knitting needle just by looking at it. Most of the time I am right. Sometimes I am not. Those are the times when you want to use your needle gauge. Don’t worry. This gauge is way less hive inducing than the stitch gauge can be, it is downright harmless. And useful at the same time. Also, if your needle size is American and says “8” – do you know the equivalence in mm? The needle gauge will tell you.

I for one have a really (really) hard time to read the printed or engraved numbers on the needles, sometimes they rub off, and when the size is marked on the cables (whoever thought that was a good idea?) I can only guess. Well, no more guessing. Use a needle gauge! (Most of them include a little ruler to measure the other gauge, but maybe I shouldn’t mention that today…)

IMG_9675Just look at the needles in the picture. Most of them seem to be the same size, but surely they are not. Stick’em in the holes to find out!

When using the gauge, the needle should just fit into the according hole. If there’s a gap between needle and gauge, it is not the right size, if only the tip fits in, it isn’t either! Not forcing the needle is especially important if you are using a metal needle gauge and want to measure a wood or bamboo needle. Always insert needle straight, avoid angles.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

 

 

Take Good Care Of Your Stash

If you consider yourself a serious knitter, building a stash is unavoidable, really. I cannot explain it. It just so happens. You’ll buy yarn that you won’t use right away – and that is called ‘stash’. Granted, some stashes are larger than others and some contain only left over yarns from projects, but they all have something in common: they need to be stored.

I have yarn that I like to have on display, because I do love looking at it and it inspires me. Then there is the yarn (sweaters’ worth of yarn) that cannot be displayed in a pleasing manner and that needs to be stored or ‘stashed’ away.

Over the years I have tried several methods to store my stash. Sorting it by colours turned out to be a desaster (at least for me) because I was always looking for another colour of that particular yarn and somehow it did not make as much sense to me as I thought it would. So I have settled on sorting my stash by weight. That works well for me. It really depends on your sense of order how to arrange or organize your yarn – I do have a couple of tips, though! Most of these come from my personal experience, a lot is what I choose to do – so remember, if you have different preferences, do it however you like! πŸ™‚

Yarn likes to breathe.

Have you ever noticed how loosely yarn is usually wound into a skein? (There are exceptions, I have to admit. I have one skein of Wollmeise Sock yarn that is so tightly wound that I am sure you can knock someone out if you had to!) This is most important for natural fibers like wool, alpaca, any animal fiber that has elasticity, actually. If you do not plan to use the yarn soon, you better leave it in skeins. If your sense of order requires the yarn to be wound, make sure you do not wind it too tightly. If you wind elastic fibers to tightly, they’ll stretch while they wait to be knitted. Now, please do not misunderstand me: this does not hurt the yarn itself, once washed it bounces right back. However, if you knit with yarn that has been stretched during storage, your gauge will change significantly after washing! If it is too tightly wound the yarn flattens out and thins during storage, knitting with that might be quite different from knitting with a properly stored yarn. Cotton, Linen and non-stretchy fibers are – if not excluded – due to their rigid nature not in too much danger of changing a lot.

However, plastic bins for storage are fine.

Yes, I know, I said yarn likes to breathe – but I explained what I meant with that, and apart from winding it too tightly, yarn stored in plastic bins will be just fine. That is what I do. Sometimes I even put the pattern together with the yarn in one of those extra large zip-loc bags. So I won’t forget what I had planned to knit with it. Plastic bins keep the dust out, so do plastic bags.

There is no SPF for yarn.

Remember that when you have yarn in your living room or any other room, come to that. If there are spots in thatΒ  room that get hit by the sun, try to avoid putting yarn there. Especially cotton and silk, but wool also if always exposed from the same side to direct sunlight, will fade – even when in a plastic bag. Your yarn will stay pretty if not exposed to direct sun light.

Avoid snags.

Are you a fan of baskets? I am. Very much so. When it comes to storing yarn, you definitely want a basket that is covered in fabric on the inside, or even plastic, if need be. If it is not, there will be snags – and they are not pretty! If there is no fabric cover to be had, make sure there are no pieces sticking out, meaning that the insides of the basket are smooth, otherwise you can damage your yarn.

Make sure you get no unwanted visitors.

Some of us do not have a big space and no generous closet or big shelf to put all of our yarn. This often means that some of the stash is relegated to the basement. To avoid getting visitors we do not want, you can put Lavender sachets in the plastic bins, cedar blocks are good for yarns that are mostly wool – and then I recommend to check every once in a while if everything is in order. (I brought some yarn from Germany when coming to the US and later Canada and learned the hard way that it doesn’t have to be moths that damage the yarn. I do not know what kind of bug it was, but my 100% wool yarn was damaged and not usable anymore.)

Revisit, revise.

Yes, I know. There are some yarns we bought years ago and we would have just such a hard time letting go. Or so we think. When I find a yarn like that, I try to find a project for it that I would really love. If I can’t find one, I usually let it go. It depends on how long it has been sitting in my stash. This is the hard part, I know. But I have also learned long since that letting go can be very liberating, and also, I make space for more, newer stash…

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Back To School

The days are still hot and summery, however you already can feel the breath of Fall in the morning air. Getting ready to leave for work you might need a light jacket to make up for the lack of warmth until the sun catches up.

I don’t know about you but our family is in the midst of preparations of going back to school – all the supplies are bought and marked with her name (very important, as you might now), and my daughter is very excited to start first grade next Thursday.

Just before the summer is truly over and we go back to the regular schedule – with classes starting up at Espace Tricot soon also, watch out for the new program to arrive soon! – I have a plethora of information for you. This time around not put together by myself, rather a link to a very useful website.

The Craft Yarn Council’s website offers such a multitude of guidelines and standards relating to the needlearts that you are most proabably going to need more than one day to get through all of them. The information about yarn weights is also available in French.

Standards are very useful to unite knitters all over the world – it is good to know that the symbol you see in a pattern chart written in English means exactly the same as the one you found in the German knitting magazine, don’t you think?

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

I Need To Talk About Yarn

If you think ‘well, that is nothing new’ you’d be right. However, yours truly has been selected to be a member of the Shibui Spark program and we are suffiently encouraged (free yarn, need I say more?) to talk about the yarns we are knitting with. And you know how much I love to talk about yarn!

Incidentally we have received a delivery ofΒ Shibui Staccato at the store last week, finally put up on the shelf this week after doing inventory at the weekend. I say incidentally because, you might have already guessed it, that is what I am knitting with – double stranded with Silk Cloud. This mix has elicited a lot of ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ when first met at TNNA this year, it was therefore a reason we thought we just had to have the Staccato in the store, just to be able to combine it with the Silk Cloud.

Having said that, the Staccato on its own is a wonderfully soft yarn and lovely to knit with. At a fingering weight I can see a lot of shawls being knit! I have difficulty choosing just one colour, there are so many pretty ones. I am sure you’ll agree wholeheartedly once you’ve seen and touched the yarn. It is made from 70% superwash merino and 30% silk, and silk/wool blends are forever on my favourite list.

Yes, I am fully aware that I am gushing – but it is the truth and nothing but the truth. I even schlepped my knitting to the park in almost 30Β° C heat. If that is not love, tell me what is!

photoOh, you want to know what I am actually working on? It is the Mix 34 – a textured cowl with an entertaining pattern.

(picture from here)

Apart from the Staccato and Silk Cloud we also have theΒ Pebble (new colours!) andΒ Linen (I am knitting a sweater with that) in store – come check it out, I am sure you won’t regret it!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Those Pesky Sticks

Also called Double Pointed Needles.

As I have mentioned before, and probably more often than you might want to hear, I do love knitting socks on dpns. Love it. Can’t get enough of it.

Having said as much, when I got started I had most certainly the same issues that you have when you get started knitting with five needles at once. Well, you don’t really. You still only knit with two, the other three just hang about. And that is the issue.

The result are often extra yarn overs, weirdly twisted stitches, a hole in your finger…nah, the last one never really happened! I am not saying you cannot poke a hole with dpns, I am just saying I have never encountered my students hurting themselves like that, maybe it is only me who thought it was a good idea to sit down on the couch while not paying attention to the sock on the go and thus ramming a needle in my thigh…(It stuck, I had to pull it out. That was gross. And it hurt.)

Teaching how to knit socks on dpns has taught me a lot, also. The most important fact – and the one I am sharing today – is that the order of the needles, meaning which one is on top and which is below, is very important. In fact, it is so important that your enjoyment of knitting with dpns depends on it.

Hence this post. So let’s get to it.

If you have ever tried to knit in the round with dpns you are sure to have experienced the frustration that goes on while working on the first few rounds. All the needles seem to be in the way, the knitted fabric does not look like anything and the sticks, well the sticks seem to stick out all over and are in every which way in your way. Yeah, I feel you.

Being a Continental knitter I have figured out a system that works for me – and not surprisingly this system is going to work for you also – if you do the opposite of what I do, because most of you carry the yarn English style, meaning with your right hand.

What I am going to tell you is probably going to sound a bit confusing – once your sit down and you are doing, or actually trying it, all will become clear. (Isn’t that often the truth?)

The trick is to keep the needles in the ‘correct’ order, in this case deciding which needle is ‘under’ and which is ‘over’.

To make it easier for you to understand what I am talking about, I have put my just started sock on four different colored needles.Β 

IMG_9653Please pay attention to how the needles are arranged: The orange needle lies on top of the pink one where you start to knit, meaning once you start knitting the pink one will be below the orange one and hence out of the way and the chance of getting your yarn tangled around it practically non-existent. (I do the opposite. If it was me knitting, I would hold the orange needle below the pink.)

IMG_9652

When knitting, it looks like this:

(Sorry for the weird angle, it is hard to photograph this!)

IMG_9656

The most important thing is that the orange working needle in the right hand is above (here rather: behind) the pink one.

As long as you pay attention to that order, knitting with dpns will be much easier than expected, and most probably improved if you were doing it differently.

I know. Small change, big difference.

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Playing Favourites

We have a lot of nice yarn at the store (d’uh) – however, if you ask me about my favourite yarns at this time (it keeps changing, due to season, novelty, personal obsession…) I have an easy top three to offer:

1. Quince Sparrow – 100% organic linen in great colors in a fingering weight

I knit a sweater and theΒ Harpswell Apron by Pam Allen with it and Lisa also knit aΒ sweater and designed theΒ cute little bag you probably saw on Melissa’s last post. We also have aΒ shawl knit up and I am currently trolling ravelry to find something else to knit with Sparrow – I just adore it!

2. Habu Tsumugi Silk – 100% raw silk in a light fingering, almost lace weight, knit up either double stranded or single

Well, yes, myΒ Ombre Tank design is of course on the top of that particular yarn list, then there is Paulina, our version features Tsumugi combined with Habu Silk Stainless Steel, and the Age of Brass and Steam. Not to forgetΒ Insouciant by Julie Hoover – a timeless tee for many occasions.

3. HiKoo CoBaSi – a fingering weight yarn in a mix of Cotton, Bamboo, Silk and Elasthan, to give it bounce.

Any pattern you find knit up in a finer gauge works well with this yarn – it is soft, summery and easy to knit with. I am working on a little something for my daughter and am impressed with the texture and softness of the fabric. I do not have a picture, but to feel the texture come to the store and feel up some socks!

What are your favourites for summer? ‘Cause as Melissa said, not knitting in summer just doesn’t make any sense…

Happy Knitting, as ever!

Mona

Β 

One Rule To Follow

If you asked me, I would answer that there are no ‘rules’ in knitting. You can do (knit) whatever you want and do it any style you like.

However, there are rules around the knitting that I highly recommend to follow. Especially the one I am going to talk about today.

I don’t do Math well. Really, ask me about calculus of probabilities, graphs with x, y and z thingies going on, anything more complicated than the multiplication table, and my eyes glaze over. Then again, there is one rule I can handle, one that gets used every day of my knitting life, one I cannot do without:

The Rule Of Three.

That’s my kind of math.

Here I pick up where I left off last week. Remember the scale? So you just found out that you have 67 grams left over, and your new pattern asks for 250 yds of yarn. If you have the information from the label how many yards are in 100 grams of yarn, you totally can figure that out!

100 grams = 400 yds

67 grams = x

Ok, you say, but how do I get x? Here is where you have to remember your school days, and how to use the Rule Of Three:

67 times 400 divided by 100 = 268, which is x, meaning you just figured out that you have enough yarn.

CheckΒ here to make it real easy.

Rule Of Three – useful in oh, so many ways.

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Β 

Are You Up To Scale?

There is one tool a serious knitter (ha, definition is up to you) needs, at least in my opinion. Next to needles, scissors, tapestry needles, stitch markers, stitch holders, needle stoppers…I do think you should have a digital scale.

Questions like

“Do I have enough”?

“How much yardage is left?”

“Is this about half a skein?”

can easily be answered by, which you might have guessed by now, weighing the respective yarn in offense.

After establishing the weight there might be some math to do to figure out the yardage, however, if all you need to know if there’s half a skein left, weighing is enough.

To find out how many balls/skein were used for a certain project and you never wrote that down, weigh your project.

This is such a straightforward method that it often gets overlooked. Well, not anymore.

If you feel like you want to get a scale, look for one with 1 gram increments (digital kitchen scales, total weight is usually around 5 – 5.5 kg). You can buy one with 0.5, 0.2 or even 0.1 increments (those are usually the ones used in laboratories, or ‘mini’-scales and the total weight is lower) – to find out as accurately as possible how much yarn is left. And, because I know you are going to want to know: my scale measures in 1 gram increments, as does the one in the store.

Here is where I bought mine. This is also a nice one (mine is not as sleek!) They are readily available anywhere, I propose to get the one you like best and suits your budget.

Once you start using it, you’ll ask yourself how you ever did without.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Where do you knit?

You might know – or maybe not – that on Saturday is “World wide knit in public day”. Actually, it is not a day anymore, but a whole week is dedicated to knitting in public, this year from June 14-22. It is a relatively new institution, started only in 2005.

knit in public logo

Well now, I was trying to find a logo that encompasses the whole world, since it is called “World wide knit…” however, all I could find were logos dedicated to continents. Hmmm…

When I heard first of it, I wondered what was the big thing about that – being a knitter for most of my life I have knit in a lot of places that could be considered ‘public’. With the surge of knitting however and a lot of ‘new’ knitters around, the idea picked up and events were planned. Picnic in the park, sitting outside a Cafe on the sidewalk…you know, any place that is considered ‘public’ and where people can see you knit.

I still don’t know how I feel about it, since I have been lugging around knitting for years and, as I said, have been knitting on the train, at the doctor’s office, at birthdays of friends, wherever it seemed that I would have a lot of time and nothing to do with my hands. I even brought my knitting to school as a teenager (okay, only a few times since nobody at that age wants to be considered ‘not cool’) and to friend’s houses.

What I realize now is that I mostly was the only person knitting ‘in public’, usually there was no other knitter around. Knitting was done at home, in private. This changed when it became the thing to do; knitting all of a sudden was considered ‘cool’. (Well, I guess there are still a few people who haven’t gotten the memo yet. please do forgive them.)

So what makes this day so popular among knitters? I think it is the sense of community that you have when sitting down with other people who enjoy the craft as much as yourself rather than trying to convert the rest of the world to become knitters, too. Doesn’t mean we cannot try…

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

And Now Back To…Knitting

After posting about the ‘pxtog’ last week, I do realize that there might be questions about the ‘kxtog’. Of course there is a way to make those easier, too. The idea is the same, however, instead of slipping the stitches first and then passing them over, you have to knit 2 together first and then pass the remaining stitches over. Not difficult, but I want to show you anyways.

Shown is k5tog.

IMG_9627Knit two together.

IMG_9628Slide stitches just knit back to left hand needle.

IMG_9629Start passing the adequate number of stitches over the k2tog. (For k5tog, pass 3 additional stitches over the k2tog.)

IMG_9630There. K5tog. (Or 8, or 10 etc.)

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

…And Then Purl Some

As it happens ever so often, when I stumble upon the same issue with knitting in one week more than once, I feel it is worth mentioning in one of my blog posts. This time around it has to do with lace knitting, or rather one particular technique sometimes used in lace.

The “purl x stitches together” – p2tog, p5tog, p10tog (Oh yes, those patterns exist. And somehow I doubt they were intentioned to torture you, though sometimes it will feel like it.)

Purling 2 stitches together is not really a problem. It is as easily done as knit 2 together. Now, the rest of it can be a bit tricky, especially if your knitting is a bit on the tight side. Do not fear, there is a solution.

Instead of trying to force your knitting needle into 5, or even 10 stitches to try purl them together at once, try this:

For purl 5 together, slip 3 stitches purlwise, purl the next 2 stitches together, then pass the slipped stitches over the just purled stitches. If necessary, tighten up this stitch. That’s it.

Photos show p9tog. Randomly picked number to show the technique. I used a cotton/linen blend to show that the yarn composition doesn’t really affect this technique.

IMG_9617

Ready to purl 9 stitches together.

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Slip 7 of the 9 to be worked sts – slip always 2 less of sts to be worked.

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Purl the next two stitches together.Β 

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Then start passing the slipped stitches over the stitches just worked, one by one.

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There. 9 stitches purled together.Don’t forget to tighten the stitch if necessary.

 

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Row, Row, Rowing Out

No boat, no water, just knitting rowing out. Remember when I talked about the ‘wrong side’ of knitting? The following comment was left by gnochistickate (I am assuming her name is Kate, and she seems a knitter who knows her stuff!)

IMG_9616Neat pairs of rows – 2 by 2. We are trying to avoid that.

“One thought about why people shy away from the β€œinverse”: a lot of knitters have trouble with their reverse stockinette rowing out, especially when working flat, because their purls are worked at a different tension from their knits. So, while the knit side looks nice and flat, the purl side can have uneven horizontal banding.

A nice solution for people with this problem, though, is to try purling with a different size needle (usually smaller…the purls are often too loose). Interchangeable circulars make this super simple, you just stick a smaller tip on one end, so when you purl back, you’re making smaller stitches! It helps to swatch out to make sure you’ve got the sizes right for your desired gauge, but it can really help take care of uneven rowed-out purl sides!”

There. She almost covered it all. Indeed, I remember the times when my knitting would not behave and one row was always looser than the other – in my case as in most it was the purl stitches also. Since I am a continental knitter, my solution was to wind the yarn a third time around my left index finger to tighten the tension and therefor get smaller stitches. For years I knit like that, until the tension question had somehow resolved itself and I did not need to do it anymore.

If you are a tight knitter, you are less prone to this problem, since all stitches are tight on the needle. It is also a bit different story if you are a ‘thrower’, meaning you are knitting English style , carrying your yarn with the right hand. That seems to be a tighter knitting style to begin with, all the same as I have found out even then there are exceptions to the rule, meaning there are knitters who knit very loosely throwing notwithstanding.

I perfectly understand that this can be very discouraging if it happens to you, and as Kate pointed out there are solutions for this problem. First and foremost I recommend to pay attention to the process and trying to figure out what makes purling so different from knitting. Maybe and extra little tug helps to even out the stitches if you do not carry the yarn around your finger, if you do an extra wrap might do the trick.

If nothing else helps, try using a needle a size smaller for the purl side, that will definitely make a difference. And – Kate has mentioned it already – the interchangeable circulars are your friend in this regard.

It is easier to knit a yarn at the recommended gauge evenly, if you use small yarn on big needles the rowing out effect might be worse. As with a lot of other techniques I have to conclude with the ever so true recommendation of “practice makes perfect”.

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Knot True!*

*A sentiment that you might have while reading this post.

Hello there. I’m back. We went to TNNA (it was great!) and I do hope you are going to enjoy the new yarns that will be coming in for Fall – and yes, I know. How can you even begin to think about Fall when we only had a few weeks of nice and warm weather here in Montreal? So let’s concentrate on other things for now.

Wall of Koigu

If you have been to Espace Tricot, you’ll probably know our ‘Wall of Koigu’ (while at TNNA we’ve ordered a few more shades). We do love a good splash of colour, and knitting with the KPPPM (Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino) is pure joy. Last year at TNNA we ordered the 10m skeinettes, hoping you all would be inspired to use them in your knitting too, adding some bright colors here and there.

This year at TNNA I saw something I could not resist to try myself. The ingenious Koigu people took 12 mini-skeins and knit a little cowl, choosing colors that blend and work really well together. I was intrigued. After coming back I put 12 skeins in order – so much fun in itself! – and got knitting. I made sure the connecting skeins had a colour in common, so they would indeed blend. However, since this hand-dyed yarn, you don’t know what you’ll get before you start knitting.

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This is so much fun, and awfully addictive since there are only 10 m to knit up and I feel I cannot wait to start the next colour!

Now, having only 10 m of yarn and that twelve times – that means 24 ends to weave in. NOT fun. I got thinking. And then I did something that I usually, under any other circumstances, really not do. I made knots. Yes, you read that right. I knotted the ends together.

Thanks to Jane RichmondΒ  (a Canadian designer whose designs we are often drawn to) and Lisa, who tried it first, I figured out the way of joining these mini skeinettes without having to sew in a lot of ends – and thus getting more out of the yarn, too. Check her video here. It is really well explained and I can attest that it works. (Other than she says in the description of the video I will say that the knot is NOT invisible, but rather BARELY visible, especially in a very colourful yarn!)

When I did it for the first time, I kind of started hyperventilating – I mean, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I DO NOT MAKE KNOTS in my knitting. I guess there is an exception to every self-imposed rule, and you are welcome to it!

Disclaimer: I am not saying that you should always knot your yarns together from now on, all I am saying is to choose the method of joining according to your project. This time knots were the way to go.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Still Not Pastry

When I posted about Brioche knitting, someone left a question if this stitch could be worked in two colors. (Whoever asked, I am very sorry that I cannot seem to find your comment!) Here is the answer: Yes, you can.

For a small moment I considered leaving it at that and just telling you that I will be away next week, meaning blogging will most probably re-commence on May 8th, after we’re all back from TNNA, where Melissa, Lisa and I are going to find you fabulous new yarns for the next Fall/Winter season, but I guess I would be in trouble if I did not explain the ‘how’ behind the ‘yes’.

It is quite the coincidence that I had my eye on a two-color Brioche pattern called ‘Churros’ by Lisa R. Meyers for Manos del Uruguay yarns, using ‘Fino’, a silk/wool blend I have a crush on. We have had this yarn for more than a year, and I only now discovered how beautiful it really is, and how enjoyable it is to knit. Crush, I am telling you!

Churros Close-upClose-up of the two-color Brioche Churros. (Image Β©Fairmount Fibers, from here.)

I was not supposed to start a new project (before finishing something else), but for the greater good (meaning the educational content, of course) I am willing to sacrifice my self-imposed restrictions and go ahead.

Here is something that might surprise you: While I have knit Brioche before, the two-color version is a new technique for me. I have never tried this before. There. See, even I am not done learning.

This is how I found out that other than the single colored Brioche this one includes purling, slipping stitches and yarn-overs. You also have to work your project on a circular needle, because you need to slide the knitting back and forth to be able to knit with the two colors alternately.

As with any other Brioche pattern I highly recommend to avoid mistakes. They are a bit tricky to fix. Your best bet is going back stitch by stitch.

For people who carry their yarn on the right hand (‘throwers’) it also involves bringing your yarn back and forth a lot. Think seed stitch, for comparison.

The pattern consists of only 4 rows, which are worked in a different order: 2 rows form the RS, then 2 rows from the WS.

 

Two-color Brioche stitch (odd number of sts)

With CC (contrast color), cast-on odd number of sts. Work Set-up row (WS) as follows: K1, *bring yarn forward, slip 1 pwise, yo, k1. Repeat from * to end of row.

Row 1 (RS): With MC (main color), k1, *knit slipped st together with yo, bring yarn forward, slip 1 pwise, yo. Repeat from * to last 2 sts, knit slipped st tog with yo, k1. Slide sts back to other end of needle.

Row 2 (RS): With CC, p1, *bring yarn forward, slip 1 pwise, yo, purl slipped stitch together with yo. Repeat from * to last 2 sts, purl slipped st tog with yo, p1. Turn work.

Row 3 (WS): With MC, p1, *purl slipped st tog with yo, bring yarn forward, slip 1 pwise, yo. Repeat from * to last 2 sts, purl slipped st tog with yo, p1. Slide sts back to other end of needle.

Row 4 (WS): With CC, k1, *bring yarn forward, slip 1 pwise, yo, knit slipped stitch together with yo. Repeat from * to last 2 sts, knit slipped st tog with yo, k1. Turn work.

 

While this is an easy technique, it might turn out, ahem, a bit tedious. (I am only one inch into the pattern and can already tell.) However, I do love the result!

IMG_9591This is how the stitches including the yarn overs sit on the needles.

IMG_9593Slipping a stitch with a yarn over. Very important, every second stitch is worked that way.

IMG_9594Knitting the stitch together with a yarn over. When pattern instructs to purl, purl them together.

Happy knitting, as ever – and see you in two weeks!

– Mona

In The Spirit Of The Easter Bunny

My daughter is convinced the Easter Bunny is real. She does not,Β  however, believe in Santa Claus. How did that happen? She happily dyed eggs and decorated them, and right now I think that is all that matters.

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I did have a look around ravelry and found some hilarious egg-related projects. Crochet outweighs the knitting today, since I do not have to explain anything, I think I will be ok. I found some easy ones and a few that require some finesse. Enjoy.

Egg and Chicken

Egg in a shell

Bunny Egg Cozy

Fun Felt Egg Cozy

Nake-id Egg Cozy

Funny Egg Cozy Gang

Ester Bunny Egg Warmer

Eggcellent Lifesize Egg

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

 

Testing 1, 2, 3

Actually, I should call it ‘Swatching 1, 2, 3’ since that is what I am going to do. Knit one yarn with different kind of needles and show what it looks like. An experiment, yet not really because I already know that I do knit differently with different materials like metal, bamboo or wood. Let’s see how it turns out. (It is absolutely possible that this post doesn’t prove anything but the fact that I have waaaay to many needles the same size, if different materials…)

I am going to start with the most slippery needle (addi turbo) and go step by step less slippery. Of course all the sizes will be the same – 5.0 mm (US 8) and I am using 100% Cotton. Reason for this is that knitting with a yarn like cotton makes for the most visible differences knit up with different needles.

1. addi turbo – the most slippery needles of all! They are nickel plated and are slick and have no grip whatsoever, their tips are quite blunt.

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(very loose, 14.5 sts/4″ and 4.5 rows/1″)

2. Hiya Hiya stainless steel – slightly less slippery, yet a favorite of mine for wool. The tips are slightly more tapered than that of the addis.

IMG_9543 IMG_9544

(loose, 15.5 sts /4″ and 5 rows/1)”

3. Knitter’s Pride Karbonz – I count those as metal, since the tip you knit with is metal, the rest of the needle is made out of carbon, which has more grip. Their tips are a bit more pointy than the Hiya Hiya.

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(less loose, 16 sts/4″ and 5 rows/1″)

4. Knitter’s Pride Dreamz – made from laminated wood. Less slippery than the carbon needles, slightly more slippery (slightly!) than bamboo. Nice pointy tips. I seem to knit more evenly with less slippery needles, reason might be that I can’t knit as fast!

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(slightly more than 16 sts/4″ and 5 rows/1″)

5. Clover Bamboo – I do not have a Hiya Hiya Bamboo needle in 5.0 mm – the material is absolutely comparable. Hiya Hiya needles have a pointier tip and more flexible cables. Otherwise the knitting experience is the same. Bamboo needles are slightly more grippy than the wooden ones.

IMG_9553 IMG_9555

(16.5 sts?4″ and 5 rows/1″)

6. Knitter’s Pride Acrylic needles – I chose to use these next, I do think the grip is slightly less than for the last kind (Denise). The needles have a nice pointy tip and are the same category of grip as the bamboo, they have a lot of grip.

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(17 sts/4″ and 5 rows/1″

7. Denise Interchangeable needles – made from plastic, with quite thick, a bit less flexible cables. Slightly less pointy tip. Lots of grip – in my opinion the least slippery needle I know.

IMG_9559 IMG_9561

(17 sts/4″ and 5 rows/1″)

As you might have realized, stitch gauge is prone to change more/sooner than row gauge. This is true for my knitting, yours might react differently!

This little experiment has confirmed for me once again what I already knew: I do prefer knitting cotton on my wood or bamboo needles, depending on looseness of gauge even acrylic! More than ever I am convinced that having the perfect tool is the most important part of my knitting experience. It is just so much more enjoyable when the match of needle and yarn is well, perfect. However, any combination of yours is based on personal preference, not on what I do like best – so when you have doubts about your match of yarn and needle, try something else and you might be pleasantly surprised!

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Summer Sweater 101

When I am looking outside my office window right now, I can see blue sky. The sun actually provides some warmth and it feels like we are finally on the way to warmer weather. (The wind is still a witch with a b.) It seems my strategy of knitting a sweater in linen while Winter is still raging is paying off – it will be indeed done by the time the weather lets me wear it.

Today I am going to give you some hints and tips what to look out for when knitting a summer sweater. As I have mentioned before, designers like to play with gauge, especially when it comes to summer knitting. Very often a thinner yarn is knit up at a looser gauge than recommended on the label, which in return gives you an easy, breezy fabric that mostly does not react the same way as when knit up at a tighter gauge. You’ll see a lot of fingering and sport weight yarn knit up at a gauge of for example 20 sts instead of 24-28. A loosely knit fabric has a lot more drape and is also more stretchy than the tighter variation. Depending on the material this will affect your finished garment.

It can be explained – or rather: reasoned – by the fact that cotton, linen and the like have no stretch in itself. Meaning, a sweater knit in wool – even at a tighter gauge – will stretch differently than a sweater knit in cotton. A wool sweater will go back to the original measurements on its own – wool has what we like to call ‘memory’. Cotton is forgetful, there’s no memory to be had. Once the sweater is stretched by wearing, it will only go back to its original size by washing. Or think about those linen pants that fit quite well when you put them on but during the day the stretch in different places and stay that way. Knitted linen summer sweaters react about the same.

I cannot emphasize enough the necessity of (eye rolling ahead) knitting a swatch and washing said swatch. Depending on the material the fabric can stretch lengthwise, making for more stitches per 4″, or in width, making it less stitches per 4″. Another thing I do when knitting a summer sweater: I do rely heavily on row gauge. I count my rows per inch, and when the pattern says: knit until piece measures 10″ I calculate how many rows I am supposed to knit instead of measuring, meaning, if 5 rows make 1″, I knit only 50 rows – no matter if the piece measures 10″ already or only 8.5″. Reason for this is the ‘after’ effect. After washing the whole sweater is going to have the same row gauge as my washed swatch. If the swatch stretched lengthwise and I do not account for that, the sweater will stretch too much in length, and instead of 10″ I have all of a sudden 12″.

I know, I know, this seems like a lot of work, I insist on saying: It isn’t. Put in the extra time and you’ll end up with a garment you want to wear. The knitting will be just as enjoyable, just let it precede by some thought for the finished project before plowing ahead.

Here are some of my favorites, found, as usual, on ravelry:

Harpswell Apron by Pam Allen – not a sweater, but I am intrigued. This is definitely in my queue. (Yes, I do have the yarn sitting and waiting.) It is knit in Quince Sparrow, an organic linen, and yes, we do have it at the store.

Picture from here

Whispers by Veera VΓ€limΓ€ki – we have a store sample! We used Handmaiden Seasilk, but you do not have to. The gauge is 20 sts/4″ – lots of choices to be had.

Β whispers4

 

Maja – Kiito by Marita Rolin – Habu Tsumugi Silk is perfect for this!

Picture from here

If you are looking for some summer knitting, also check out the latest Knit.Wear – lots and lots of possibilities!

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

 

Inversions

One week into Spring now and, what can I say, it does not feel like Spring at all. We have all the summery yarns you could want, and yet the weather really does nothing to tempt us into Summer knitting, does it? I am stubbornly knitting away on my linen sweater, just because I know (I just have to, otherwise hysterical cackling will set in) that the warmer weather is just around the corner.

There might have been a slight possibility that my husband heard me mutter (as it sometimes happens on Wednesday evenings) “I have no idea what to write about on the blog tomorrow.” In an effort to be helpful he suggested I talk about the ‘inverted garter stitch’. I do not think he was let down by the fact that such an animal does not exist, you should be rather impressed that he actually knows about garter stitch at all. However, his remark got me thinking. Inversion, aversion, reverse…

What follows is a conversation that could have been. It never happened this way, but all of the arguments I have heard, and often:

Me: “Look, this is the sweater I am knitting. I like it a lot.”

Imaginary person: “Ick. Reverse stockinette knitted in the round? That’s way too much purling for me.”

Me: “No, no, you knit it inside out…”

IP: “Jeez, that is way too complicated and difficult for me.”

Me: “Really, it is easy. You knit it in the round, all the decreases are done as usual, meaning knitwise.”

IP: “I don’t get it.”

Me: “The trick is to turn it inside out once you’re done. Then the purl side is on the outside. Cool, eh?”

IP: “I really don’t like the purl side of knitting…”

Me – thinking about slapping my forehead.

What is it that makes knitters dislike the purl side of knitting? Granted, with all the Stockinette Stitch designs out there it does get treated like an unruly stepchild, undeservingly, I might add, but the pearly, mingling colors, with stitches that are not v-shaped side of knitting can be just as appealing as the jersey we are so used to. At least I do think so.

That is just the reason I knitted Flore by Julie Hoover. Pleasant knitting with a lovely yarn (Manos Silk Blend – we have it available in many, many colors) and the surprise of turning it inside out. (I got asked a lot “why?” and have to say: “because it is fun!”) I am not sure why the purl side is usually so unexpected, since it is always there. Neglected, mostly, but always there.

FlorePicture from here.

Β Cottesloe in the latest Rowan Magazine is another example. Knit in the new Pure Linen (we do have it in store!) it makes use of the fact that when you change colors, they intermingle on the purl side, meaning half of the row is one color the other half another.

Cottesloe 1Picture from here.

I am also knitting on a Habu design, which comes in a kit (there are still some left at the store!) with three cones of really thin yarn combined into one. Design No 117 means a lot of knitting – and when done it is meant to be worn with the purl side on the outside, however this one is reversible and could be worn the ‘usual’ way. Guess which way is my ‘outside’?

kit-117_2Picture from here.

Now I ask you: Have you ever put a thought to the ‘wrong side’ of your knitting? Or are you a staunch lover of the knit side? I bet if you find the right project you’ll come over to the ‘dark side’, too.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

A List Of Useful “How To’s”

It doesn’t feel like it but it is the first day of Spring. Let’s hope the weather gets the memo soon! We at Espace Tricot are all set for warmer weather, except for a couple more deliveries we have all the Summer yarns we planned to get in stock and I, for one, have been happily knitting away with linen. Well, I did think it a teeny weeny bit pathetic, knitting a summer sweater when it is -10Β°C outside, with a wind chill of -18 or so, then again, it will be all done and ready when I actually need it. So much for that.

Today I am putting together a bit of linkage to some posts I made a while ago which are very useful and good to know. This way you have them all together and only one click away should you need any!

How to do a provisional Cast-on

How to work a loose long-tail Cast-on

How to never run out of yarn using the long-tail Cast-on

How to do M1R and M1L

How to finish/weave in the end of something knit in the round

How to fix the stitch mount

How to do mini cables (2 stitches) left and right without a cable needle

How to carry up yarn when knitting stripes

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona