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:

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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

 

 

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

 

 

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.

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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. 

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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 “inverse”: 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 Richmond  (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 ©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

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 -10°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

Are You Working With Your ABS?*

In case you were horrified and suspected that I am going to make you do sit-ups, relax. (I could use them, I should do them, however…huh? what was I saying?….never mind.) I am not talking about a workout for your, well, abs, I am talking about using up left-over yarn in a fun way.

The rule is: *Anything But Stockinette

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Since most left-overs are smaller quantities, you are going to have to combine them to have enough for a larger project, maybe even for any project you had in mind. And thus what comes to mind first are Stockinette stripes. *yawn* (Sorry, stockinette and stripes, I know there is a time and place when you are great. For this blog post you just won’t do.)

Disclaimer: These are not instructions for a finished garment. These are stitch patterns for using up left-over yarns. What you have to remember also, is that most patterns are NOT written for left-overs. There is, however, no reason to find a suitable project – just swatch in your preferred pattern and look for a pattern with the same. Then get creative!

Now, since knitting is worked row by row, the essential way to create the following patterns is also knitting stripes. They just look less like stripes.

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First up two patterns that consist of 2-row-stripes:

On top, the dot-pattern.

Row 1 (RS): with MC knit.

Row 2: with MC purl

Row 3: with CC, sl1wyib, k1, rep to end of row

Row 4: with CC, slip the slipped stitches with yarn in front, knit the sts in CC

Row 5 and 6; as row 1 and 2.

Row 7: with CC, k1, sl1wyib, rep to end of row

Row 8: with CC, slip the slipped sts wyif, knit the knit sts in CC

Bottom: a variation of a seed stitch pattern, with a knit row

Row 1 (WS): k1, p1 with CC

Row 2: knit with CC

Row 3: p1, k1 with MC

Row 4: knit with MC

Both patterns look more complicated than they actually are, and I have used them successfully.

IMG_9395This is all leftover sock yarn – and the whole project is a sweater for my daughter. It was quite fun to knit.

Now here are two one-row patterns that are also good for using up small amounts of yarn:

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Above the dot pattern you see Seed titch. Yes, indeed, that is Seed Stitch. The trick is to use a different color every row. Easy when knit in the round, but also do-able flat, though you have to use a circular needle since some sliding is necessary as you will see:

Row 1 (RS): k1, p1 in MC, repeat to end of row, slide knitting back to other side of needle

Row 2 (RS): p1, k1 in CC, repeat to end of row

Row 3 (WS): p1, k1 in MC, repeat to end of row, slide knitting back

Row 4 (WS): k1, p1 in CC, repeat to end of row.

What follows next is, believe it or not, simple garter, however it almost looks like a weave. Again, changing colors every row when knitting in the round is easy, for the flat knitted version you have to use a circular needle.

Row 1 (RS): knit with MC, slide knitting back

Row 2 (RS): purl with CC

Row 3 (WS): purl with MC, slide knitting back

Row 4 (WS): knit with CC

These are just four examples for ABS, you can find many more in stitch dictionaries – and only brain muscles for creativity necessary.

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

The Value Of Colour

…literally.

If you have done Colourwork in knitting before, and I mean using more than one colour in one piece of knitting, you might have realized that the colours you picked worked differently together than imagined. I don’t mean a striped sweater in navy and white – hello, Mariner or Marinière – which is a perfectly fine combination, I mean the more subtle ways of combining different hues.

It all depends what you want. There is the possibility of high contrast, as the navy and white would suggest. Then we have the option of mixing different hues altogether, let’s pretend yellow, green and blue.

If you have no clue how the colours will work together, here is a tip: Check the value. No, I don’t mean the price tag, what I am talking about is the lightness or darkness a colour posesses, which in return is an indication of how it will stand out – or not – in the finished knitted piece. You might be surprised by the outcome!

I, for one, learned this from a quilter. For that particular purpose I purchased a colour tool that included a red screen, which you look through to check the value of your chosen fabric or, in our case, yarn. Now, I am not sending you out on a hunt for this tool, in this wonderful time of technology it is totally not necessary – unless you do not have

  • a digital camera or
  • a cell phone with a camera
  • any other device that lets you take digital pictures

To check the value of your chosen colours, take a picture. Wait, there is a bit more to it! To get proper readings you have to change the settings of the camera on ‘black and white’ or edit it to that setting after you took the pic. Then check your colours again. If they are about the same shade of grey, you won’t get a standout performance – heh, get what I’m saying? If they are clearly distinct from each other, meaning one looks like a really pale gray, the other one almost black – then we are back to the high contrast play like navy and white together, even if it is yellow and red you chose.

Colour B&W comboI don’t know if this proves a point, yet it is an example of what I was talking about. Would you have thought the blue so dark in comparison with the green?

Try that the next time you are worried one colour will stick out too  much – or not enough. It’s easy to do and worth the small effort!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Got Swatches?

Thank you all for your comments on the last blog. I am quite over the slump, I assure  you! However, it was good to talk about it and so get it out of my system. Here is a picture of the little something I started last Thursday night and finished Saturday.

IMG_9353This is “Chevzam”, knit in Manos del Uruguay “Maxima” – I love it!

During the two years this blog has existed I have been pestering you with my notions of swatching which means you might have accumulated said swatches with your projects. Unless  you rip them when done and use the yarn for the project. Since I often wash my swatches to see what happens, I usually have some hanging around. What about you? Got some nice squares with lacy patterns or lovely coloured stockinette swatches at hand?

Well, Melissa had an idea what to do with them – and I am going to tell you all about it!

If you do not have any swatches, this can become an interesting exercise – with you choosing patterns  you like and always wanted to try, and small knitting projects that are finished quickly to boot. I decided to go with one kind of yarn in different colours (I used Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend) and knit the same pattern in my so-called swatches – to be turned into art, as you will see.

Swatch Art

What you need:

  • 3-4 swatches, about 5.5×5.5″ when blocked – here are the instructions to mine (click to download)
  • Ikea “Ribba” frames to go with your swatches (these are deeper than regular picture frames) 9x9x1.75″ – I have four white ones
  • Glass head sewing pins, or if you prefer, simple metal ones

After knitting your swatches, weave in the ends, wet block and pin them to required size. Let dry thoroughly.

Then open the Ribba frames and pin them over the opening of the framing mat. The opening is 4.5×4.5″ – a swatch measuring 5.5×5.5″ covers it nicely. Secure with four pins in each corner. Place in frames and secure. Voilà! Knitted art.

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I have tried to place them under the mat and have just part of the swatch show – I like the raw placement better, but in the end it is really up to you . Placing the swatch under the mat is probably more suited to using a swatch you have from one of your projects, which might not exactly be the size you want.

I do think a grouping hung on a wall looks especially nice, but placing just one on a shelf works too! (Since I haven’t finished all of mine, that is what I have been doing so far.)

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

P.S. Oh, look: Melissa is all done with hers! She chose to use different stitch patterns, which adds another layer of interest. Great collection! Makes me want to go and finish, too.

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A New Technique For The New Year

As a subsequent post to my last – well, not that any post wouldn’t be – I have an addendum to my hat talk. On Monday I started a new class, we are knitting the “Seasons Hat” by Brooklyn Tweed. This is the perfect project to get started with colour knitting, since it only takes up 27 rows of the hat, so there is space to pick up another interesting technique.

I have used the tubular cast-on before, it is a bit more involved than any other regular cast-on but in my opinion well worth it. There are several methods to do this cast-on, I normally only use the yarn I work with, for first-timers the waste yarn method is easier.

IMG_9334Tubular Cast-On.

This method of casting on is meant for knitting in the round. For knitting flat, the instructions are slightly different!

With a different coloured yarn the same weight as the yarn intended for your hat pattern, cast on half the stitches required. For example, if the pattern asks for 80 stitches, cast on 40. As the tubular cast on is intended for rib – be it 1×1 or 2×2 – half of the stitches is always possible.

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With working yarn, *knit 1, yo; rep from * to end. It is important to keep the yo at the end, make sure you do not lose it when closing the stitches to a round.

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Draw stitches around needle – it will be a bit tight, yet should be manageable – and close to round by slipping the first stitch with yarn in back (wyib) and purling the yarn over. All stitches are slipped purl wise, just to move them, not to twist them. As mentioned before, make sure not to lose your last yo! *Sl1 wyib (knit stitches), purl yo; repeat from * to end of round. Here you might want to place a stitch marker for beginning of round – I did not.

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Purl the last yo as the others before.

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Next round: *knit1, sl1 wyif (knit the knit stitches, slip the purl stitches with yarn in front); rep from * to end of round.

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Next (and last round of cast-on) round: *sl1 wyib, p1 (slip the knit stitches with yarn in back, purl the purl stitches; rep from * to end of round.

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There. That’s it. Starting with the following round you work 1×1 rib as usual.

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Here’s the fun part. (Make sure you only cut the cast-on!) With your trusty pair of scissors, cut the waste yarn and remove it.

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Work your hat as you would.

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

This Is Not My Hat*

*A hilarious children’s book by Jon Klassen. Also, a thought a knitter might have after finishing a hat that is too small, large or just not wearable.

Hat

Happy 2014 to you all! It is cold and we knitters like that. We get to knit all those things that hopefully keep us cozy and warm – which, I have to admit, has been difficult these past three weeks since it has been really cold. I’m speaking of mittens, scarves, cowls and, yes, HATS.

Let’s have it. The talk. The HAT talk. And the other one, the SWATCH talk. (Boy, I can see some of you rolling your eyes and tuning out now. If you are a swatcher, you are allowed to. If  you are a non-swatcher and have had size issues with any project at all, please do read on.)

The reason for having this particular talk is that this week I have encountered some knitters who had troubles with their hats. They turned out too large, too small, too floppy, too hot…well, the last one I cannot help, really, but for the other problems I have a solution.

First let me say it again: Knitting a swatch is not a punishment. On the contrary, knitting a swatch will keep you from being punished with an unusable finished object should you encounter gauge trouble. Now, hats and sweater patterns rely heavily on gauges. If a sweater turns out too large because you didn’t swatch you might be able to wear it as an oversized boyfriend version. If a hat turns out too large, then you cannot see while walking because it slides down over your eyes and that in my book is what I call ‘not wearable’. Yeah, sure, go ahead and fix it with elastic. It might work. Or not. Wouldn’t you love to have the hat you were thinking about when you picked the pattern instead of a ‘Frankenhat’ that came into being because you did not swatch?

Far be it from me to sound condescending or patronizing, I have committed this sin myself. And have been punished by having to knit a beret three times because I did not swatch. The only time you can get away with not swatching before knitting a hat is if you have knit with this particular yarn before and hence know which needle size to use for the gauge needed.

The particular problems this week were:

The hat turned out too large: This one might not even be gauge related, rather just to the fact that you picked a size that was too large for the head it was supposed to fit. Not all three-year-olds have the same size head, neither have all 13, 30 or any-year-olds. When you knit a hat, you want to pick a size that is at least 2″ smaller in circumference than the head. In a pinch and if you have to guess, 1″ will do, though it will be a looser fitting hat. Hats stretch a lot when worn. Unless it is a very tight, rigid pattern, the hat will stretch. Some hat patterns have a variety of sizes, others don’t. If there is only one size and the hat is too big, try knitting at a smaller gauge (using a smaller needle, making the fabric tighter) or use a slightly smaller yarn, of course you have to adapt the needle size here, too. HOWEVER, if your hat is too large because your gauge is 16 stitches instead of 18 per 4″, then there is not solution but to knit it again. To prove a point: for a larger head the size of a hat is usually around 20″. Which means you cast on 90 stitches at a gauge of 18 stitches per 4″. If your gauge is off by 2 stitches, you end up with a hat that has 22.5″ circumference, which is in this case a huge difference.

The hat turned out too small: I bet your gauge was off in the other direction. Instead of 18 stitches you have 19 or 20 stitches per 4″ and then it can turn out to be quite a tight fit. If it is a beanie or a tuque, those are meant to fit head-hugging, and it could be that it is just too short. In this case you can add length before you get to the crown decreases.

The hat turned out too floppy: Now, in the age of slouchy hats ‘too floppy’ might sound weird to you. But I do understand. There are hats that want body, structure – and they are not meant to be worn slouchy. This might not be a gauge issue per se, rather a yarn issue. Alpaca, for example, can be quite drapey (or floppy, if you prefer) when knit up loosely. Meaning, even though your are right on gauge, it is just too loose a fabric and thus floppy. The same hat knit with another yarn might be just what you want! The gauge swatch in this case would have been an indicator for the properties of the fabric. Another reason, besides the numbers, to swatch.

Yes, dear readers, I am aware that I sound like a broken record. Yet ‘swatch, swatch, swatch’ is the best advice I can give so you get exactly what you want. It is not wasted time, considering you might end up knitting the whole hat again…and again…

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

How To Knit A Basic Mitten – Part 1

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These mittens are easy to knit and do not take long at all. Perfect gift knitting!! Follow the instructions step by step, today just up to the part where the stitches for the thumb get put on hold.

What I used:

  • Cascade Eco + Wool plus some Kid Silk Haze (exact amount to follow in the pattern)
  • 5.5 mm (US size 9) double pointed needles
  • small stitch holder
  • tapestry needle
  • I got a gauge of 17 sts/4″ – you should get the same

Right mitten:

With both strands held together, cast on 32 sts.

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Distribute evenly onto four needles, 8 sts each.

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Close to round, making sure not to twist your stitches, and knit 2×2 rib (k2, p2) for 14 rounds.

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Then switch to Stockinette Stitch and knit until it measures about 3.5″ – measuring from end of rib.

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On next round, knit 6 sts, then place them on stitch holder. Knit to end of round.

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That’s it for today!

Don’t forget to check out our Holiday Schedule and remember, we will be open on Monday, December 23rd from 10.30 am to 5 pm!!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

I Learned Something New This Week

In preparation of a class I started knitting the Fiddlehead Mittens and first reading the pattern I was a bit taken aback by the I-cord Cast-on. As usual, reading a pattern does not do much for me, I have to actually do it to really get it.

Once I figured it out I realized that this Cast-on has a lot of possibilities. I had never seen or used it before, I might do so more often in the future. It gives a really neat edge, and offers a different edge solution for the adventurous knitter.

Other than with I-cord you do not even have to use double pointed needles, since it is worked by slipping stitches back to the left-hand needle instead of to the other end of the dpn. (If you have worked I-cord already you know what I am talking about, if not, you’ll find out soon enough!

1. Cast on 3 stitches.

2. Knit into the front and back of the first st, then knit the remaining 2 sts.

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3. Slip 3 stitches back to the left hand needle, one remains on the right hand needle = first cast-on stitch!

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4. Repeat step 2.

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5. Repeat step 3 – except that now you have 2 sts sitting on the right hand needle.

Cast on the required amount of stitches by repeating step 4 and 5, plus 2 – meaning if you want to cast on 30 stitches, there should be 32 on the needle when you are done.

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Now turn work.

Here I think I veered off pattern a bit, but since I liked what I got I’ll tell you my version: Bind off one stitch by slipping the first stitch purlwise, then purl the next, pass the slipped stitch over the just purled one, then slip that stitch back onto the left hand needle.

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 Purl two together.

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Now you are ready to do whatever you want to do next!

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Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

It Is That Time Again

Lately we have had an uncommonly large percentage of customers come in and announce that they wanted to knit a scarf. Not to say “d’uh’ but yes, it is that time again – it is getting nippy in the morning and people are thinking about the necessity of keeping themselves and their loved ones warm.

Scarves, or echarpes (forgive the lack of accent, please) here in La Belle Province are indeed a good idea to keep your neck warm. Be it a rectangle, triangle or folded square, a knitted scarf will keep you toasty.

As with everything I do have certain preferences when knitting a scarf – and I am talking the regular scarf kind. Kind of narrow and long. There we go – I like my scarves NOT narrow but wide AND long. Next thing is that certain scarves have a tendency to form themselves into a roll – sometimes it is not an issue, other times you really wish your scarf would lie flat, even around your neck.

This one is meant to roll. Not all scarves are equal!

To prevent some rolling you can knit a garter stitch border, however I find it doesn’t really work that well. If the rest of the scarf is knit in Stockinette Stitch, it will roll anyways. Scarves knit in a rib won’t roll, they just require more stitches to get to the same width as a Stockinette scarf because the rib pulls together. Then again, that gives you a warmer fabric.

Using two self-striping yarns this has been a long-time favourite on ravelry.

Garter for a scarf is just fine – make sure you pick a perfectly scrumptious yarn to set off the simplicity, it’ll give you more impact. Like this one for example:

Use a chunky Baby Alpaca (we have lots of colours of Misti in Stock!) for a version of this one.

“Basalt” is knit in a sport weight  – simple Garter with an I-cord edge in a super soft yarn.

I myself love knit/purl patterns for scarves, they make the knitted fabric lie flat and, even better, if you pick the right one the scarf is reversible, meaning it looks just as good on the wrong side as on the one you intended to be seen by the general public.

A chevron knit/purl pattern in want-to-wear cashmere.

Jared Flood’s “Guernsey Wrap” is just so much fun to knit! And this one is wide and long, just as I like it.

Before I go, there IS a way to knit Stockinette Stitch and NOT have your scarf roll! Knit it in the round. Knit a tube. Like the following examples.

The ‘Blocks of color’ scarf uses a sport weight yarn. Knit in the round, the doubled up fabric will keep you cozy!

This is our own pattern, the ‘Split Personality’ scarf. Once you put that on, you won’t want to take it off!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Hey, Listen!

I am a TV knitter. Just sitting in front of the TV without doing anything is just such a waste of time, especially when you do not have a lot of it to spare. Lately I find I do not watch much TV anymore, I am just not interested in what is on.

I am also a reader. I like to read. However, reading a book and knitting at the same time is awkward, even I cannot really deal with that. Now, remember when you were little and some kind soul would read a story to you? That still works for me! Audiobooks are great, especially when you download the content on a phone or i-Pod so you can listen where ever you go and whatever you do.

I use audible.com (no, I do not get paid anything for telling you that), I like the convenience of how it is set up. For a monthly membership you get one credit and for the credit you can get a book. As a member you also  pay less for all the other offered books. This works for me, especially since I am a repeat offender, meaning I like to listen to the same book again (not back to back of course, but some time later), just the way I do with books I enjoyed reading myself.

A while ago I downloaded the Game of Thrones series (really, where is the 6th book?) and the first book unabridged gets you 33 hours and 50 minutes of listening  knitting time – that is a lot!

Now I just have to find a way to knit AND type at the same time on the computer…hey, how did that voice control thingie work again….?

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

More Holes, Really Big, Big Holes

This week I had a customer stumble on a knitting technique that let her do a double take (don’t say I do not try with my puns…). A double yarn over, worked into two stitches onto the next row. The problem was that the second stitch always came undone, after knitting it. See, the mistake was to knit both stitches, that makes for one uninterrupted loop which in return makes the stitch come undone since the two yarn over are already an uninterrupted loop.

The trick is to knit one yarn over and then purl the second. There. Because the purl brings the yarn to the front, the loop gets interrupted and the yarn gets wound around the yarn over and it sticks. If you do not care for my very technical explanations, do not worry and try to really understand them, just keep in mind the most important thing: knit one yarn over, purl the second.

For that matter, what do you do when you want really, really big holes intentionally? Like, for example, in this design here: Esjan by Stephen West. As ever so often: Rinse and repeat. Meaning, you do as many as 3 or 4 or even more yarn overs, and then do the k1, p1, k1, p1 etc. as requested. 

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The first step to a big hole: 2 yarn overs, then a knit and a purl on the next row.

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Here’s a really big hole. 4 yarn overs, then k1, p1, k1, p1, k1.

Are you ready to knit some really big, big holes?

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Making Holes On Purpose

No, I am not talking lace, I am talking buttonholes.

They are not as difficult to make as you might think – especially when you use my preferred method, which is first on my list:

1. The yarn-over-buttonhole: My reasons for liking this version a lot is that it is small. Over the years I have found that a lot of buttonholes made as specified in the pattern were just too large in the end and the button would slip out. I am of the opinion that the button you want to use should fit the buttonhole just so, meaning it should be hard to get the button through – at first.  With use it will get easier, yet hopefully never so large that the button is going to slip out!

You work it as follows: Ssk, yo – that is it. Or, if you prefer, k2tog, yo. On the next row you continue with your pattern as established. Super easy. If you want to use this method but think your button is just a tad too large, work two yo, that should take care of that.

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2. The one-row-buttonhole: As it says, you work the hole in one row, meaning any pattern you have been working in (rib, seed stitch etc.) can be continued on the next row as before. There is no reason why you should not use this particular version, just make sure you do not make it too large. Same reasoning as above, however, the one-row-buttonhole stretches differently due to the bind-off used.

To make a buttonhole, you bind off the required number of stitches, then cast them on again. The binding off requires no knitting, you just slip on stitch over the other. You can find a good illustration by Interweave here.

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3. The two-row-buttonhole: Worked just like that, on two rows. On the first row you bind off the required amount of stitches, on the next row you cast them on again with the knitted cast-on. For this you have to turn your work and cast on on the side you are currently NOT working on. Since this is worked over two rows it is the stretchiest of the three. Again, be careful not to make it too large. found the perfect little video from Rowan, just 2.20 minutes long. I couldn’t have shown it any better!

IMG_8850Both the one-row and the two-row buttonhole are worked just over two stitches here.

For buttonhole placement I find it the easiest to pick up the required stitches for the band and work about two or three rows. Since you want your buttonholes evenly spaced it is much easier to pick the right place once the rib (or whatever pattern you are working) is established. Which is less work than trying to figure it out beforehand – unless the pattern specifically specifies where to place the buttonholes.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Peddling My Wares

Did you know that you only need three, well, maybe four knitting techniques to knit socks (apart from knit and purl)?

All it really needs is

– ssk

– k2tog

– pick up stitches

and, while not really a technique since all you do is move a stitch:

– slip a stitch knitwise/purlwise

If any of this sounds familiar but you never have knit a sock in your life, why not sign up for my sock class, starting the upcoming Monday,  September 16? You’ll learn how to knit a sock top down on double  pointed needles using the four techniques mentioned above.

There are times when it is surprising even to me how little we need to create a certain shape with sticks and yarn. Socks in particular never seize to amaze me. Especially when you go beyond the self-striping yarns and venture into the more intricate patterns like lace or cables.

_DSC3428My ‘Embossed Leaves Socks’ pattern. Once you know the construction of a sock, this is not hard to do!

There are plenty of other classes to be had, have you checked out our schedule yet?

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Carry it up

I am always thankful when I encounter questions or problems during the week that give me an idea for my next post. This time around it was the fact that I got asked if, when knitting stripes, do you cut the yarn after every stripe?

Well now, I said, that depends. (Doesn’t it always?) It really depends on the width of the stripes. Many of you might have knit a “Color Affection” or a similar design in Garter Stitch that requires to switch the colour every two rows. Then you definitely do not cut the yarn but carry it up on the edge of the project. The person who asked the question was actually knitting a striped design in the round and the width of the stripes lent itself to carrying the yarn up instead of cutting each time.

I have just started a “Wurm” hat for my daughter, and following Sam’s inspired idea I am using two colors – blue and green, as requested by the recipient. The blue stripe is 6 rows high, the green one 3. Whenever you work with two colours, the main concept when switching from one to another is: TWIST the yarn. In most cases if you do not twist both strands you are going to end up with holes, large or little, depending on the colourwork.

In the following picture I have just finished knitting the first green stripe and it is time to switch back to blue. See how the two yarns are twisted around each other?

IMG_8838The blue comes from below around the green, thus ‘trapping’ the green so it cannot escape.

From  here you knit as you would – I mean, follow the pattern!

Then, at the point where you switch to the green again, do this:

IMG_8839Take the green from below and wrap around the blue. Make sure you do not pull too much so the fabric won’t scrunch up.

The only tricky part I can think of is neither pulling too tight nor letting too loose. Otherwise this technique is straightforward and can be used for narrower stripes. For wider stripes you want to twist the yarn every four rows or so, that the carried strand does not get too long.

And here is how it looks from the inside:

IMG_8842See how the yarn always is carried up on the same side? It looks neat and, as I have said, prevents holes.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Exceptions prove the rule.

You know how much I like my long-tail cast-on. You also know that sometimes it is not possible to use the long-tail cast-on, or it would make for unnecessary hassle.

Let’s say you are knitting a raglan top down. When you have separated the stitches for the sleeves and continue to work on the body, you usually have to cast on stitches  for the underarm. That is if the pattern is well written and considers how a sweater fits best.

There are two ways to do that: Use the knitted cast-on or the backward loop cast-on. In this case – because it is not an edge that stays unfinished – I say go for the backward loop cast-on! My reasoning is that you are going to pick up stitches from the edge for the sleeves anyway, so it does not matter at all if it is a bit loose and it is in this case the fastest, easiest and cleanest solution. As I have put in the title: Exceptions prove the rule.

This is my little tidbit for today – happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

 

Make your own!

As you might have noticed, we have been busy in the store accommodating new yarn arrivals for fall. In fact, I am guessing the ladies are still busy today and we will be so for a while longer. I have been busy at home also, there are some renovations going on and I am not as well organized as I would like to be and almost forgot that it is actually Thursday.

My post today is an answer to a comment I received on “Yarn Cocktails” (Christine, please excuse the tardy reply, I hope this post will serve!) asking a bit more about combining yarns for your projects.

The first question was if there is a list of equivalence for number of strands adding up to what weight – complete, if possible. Well, I do have a list, however, it is not complete. Not complete in the sense of ‘there are so many more possibilities that it is impossible to make it complete’. I do think that it will help to make up your own yarn cocktails in the size you want.

The number of plies in a yarn was used to categorize yarn sizes once. As I have written before, this system was abandoned in favor of the classification we have now (Cobweb, Lace, Fingering etc.). Lucky for us, this information is still available and can help categorizing yarns we put together ourselves. I wouldn’t say it is foolproof, yet it is helpful to get an idea what you are actually doing when combining yarns.

Here is the list:

  • Cobweb – 1 ply
  • Lace – 2 ply
  • Light fingering – 3 ply
  • Fingering – 4 ply
  • Sport – 5 ply
  • DK – 8 ply
  • Worsted – 10 ply
  • Aran – surprisingly also 10 ply
  • Bulky – 12 ply

Using this as a guide line and your math skills, it is easy to determine that, for example, a fingering weight can be made up by combining two strands of a lace weight yarn. If you put two fingering yarns together, you get according to this list a DK weight (maybe a light worsted, depending on the fingering).

As you can see by these two examples already, it is not a watertight method, but more a guideline. Which is very useful when you try to find a combination to knit that sweater which was originally knit in a worsted weight. A light weight mohair yarn like Rowan KidSilk Haze counts as a fingering weight yarn. So count it as a 4 ply when adding up the numbers. As ever, checking your yarn label helps!

The next question is about how to calculate the amount of yarn necessary for the project. Let’s say the amount you need is 650 yards of yarn. You want to make up your own by adding a strand of mohair to a fingering weight yarn. The fingering weight yarn comes in skeins of 420 yards, the mohair has 229 per ball. Now, you need to buy 2 skeins of the fingering yarn and 3 balls of the mohair to complete your project. Please do not add up the yardage of the fingering and mohair – remember you want to strand it. In this case you have 840 yards of fingering weight and 687 yards of mohair. Which in return means that you can knit 687 yards double stranded.

(picture from here)

Last but not least for today is a possibility to find out what kind of yarn you actually produced by putting together two or three different ones – and you don’t want to rely on the ply number. Spinners use “wraps per inch” to determine the size of what they have spun – and it serves also in this case. There are little gadgets out there, like this one – but in a pinch a ruler will do. All you have to do is wrap your yarn around the tool until the inch mark. Count your wraps. (wpi – wraps per inch)

  • Fingering – 14 wpi
  • Sport – 12 wpi
  • DK – 11 wpi
  • Worsted – 9 wpi
  • Aran – 8 wpi
  • Bulky – 7 wpi
  • Super Bulky – 5-6 wpi

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Yarn Cocktails

Do you like cocktails? There is something about that mix of different ingredients that come together to make the perfect drink, don’t you think? Sometimes it is surprising what those ingredients are, and that goes for yarns, too.

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You might wonder where I am going with this. Well, I have been a fan of yarn cocktails of late, meaning using two different yarns at the same time. There are various reasons why one should/could do that, I for one cannot stop using a fuzzy yarn like Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Shibui Silk Cloud, SweetGeorgia Silk Mist or even Filatura Di Crosa Superior together with anything I can think of. Any of these softens the knitted fabric in a way I cannot describe, you have to feel it. No wonder, they all contain either kid mohair (the softest mohair) or cashmere with a hefty serving of silk.

We are not the only ones who think along that line. Shibui,for example, has a whole series of patterns in which they strand different yarns together, with sometimes unexpected yet stunning results. It is also a way to get the weight of yarn you need if you cannot find what you were looking for.

A chunky yarn is easily substituted by a worsted weight stranded with a mohair blend. If you mix a fingering with one of the mohairs you”ll easily be able to knit any gauge from 16-20 stitches. Imagine you are looking for a fingering weight but are in love with a particular lace weight – well, double up the lace weight and you have a yarn fit for your project. The possibilities are nearly endless – though you have to approach it with an open mind and ready to try.

Knitting with two strands of yarn is no more difficult than using just one, however you have to make sure you work both strands all the time. And that is the small drawback I can think of right now.

Next time you pick a project and cannot find the perfect yarn – try a yarn cocktail instead!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Short and Sweet

It is hot. I mean, it is REALLY hot. And I do not feel like knitting at all. However, I do have a morsel of hopefully interesting information.

This week a customer stumbled across an instruction that is “k1, yo, k1 into the same stitch”. This is also called a double increase. It is useful when you need to increase more than one stitch at some point in your knitting or it is used in some lacy patterns, and I am going to show you how it works.

As ever so often, you do exactly as the instruction says even if it seems weird or strange:

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You knit the stitch, but leave it on the left hand needle.

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Next you make a yarn over.

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Then you knit the same stitch a second time. Now you can drop it off the left hand needle.

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And there you have it.

As announced, short and sweet. Now go and dip in the pool or have a drink in a place with A/C, sit in front of a fan…whatever it needs to endure this heat!

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona