Dropping The Ball Stitch

Dropping stitches is usually a stressful event since under normal circumstances we do not want stitches to drop. However, there are stitch patterns out there that make you drop stitches on purpose. Yes, you read right. On these occasions you really want to drop the stitches (or, as you will see, yarn overs) to achieve an airy, loose pattern that you can use to create different effects.

One pattern that makes use of this technique is the ever so popular “Clapotis” by Kate Gilbert which celebrates its 10th birthday this year.

Picture from here. Close up of dropped stitches.

Another example for achieving an interesting fabric using dropped stitches is the “Harpswell Apron” by Pam Allen. Stitches get dropped after a certain number of rows alternately.

Picture from here.

Both of these designs are in spite of the dropped stitches structured knits, yet they have an airy feel due to the gaps that are created.

Another way to use dropped stitches is to achieve a deconstructed look, meaning yes, it is a garment but looks quite different from what we usually expect.

Picture from here.

“Les Miserables” by Cynthia Parker uses exactly the same technique, yet the deconstruction is enhanced by slightly felting the knitted fabric.

Picture from here.

The “Dropped Stitch Cardigan” by Erica Patberg makes excessive use of dropped stitches with a quite dramatic effect. Another example for a deconstructed look.

The other way of ‘dropping stitches’ is to work elongated stitches by dropping yarn overs from the row before. One can achieve an even row of long stitches or a wavy pattern depending on the number of yarn overs worked.

Picture from here.

#13 Drop Stitch Scarf by Laura Bryant (published in Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2009) makes use of both techniques – you drop stitches and have dropped yarn overs forming elongated rows which results in a light, airy fabric that makes for a lovely summer scarf when knit in a light summery yarn.

As you might have seen, Melissa just finished a design making use of the dropped stitches also. Shibui Twig gives it a textural quality, yet it is also light an airy.

1SS15 | Tier by Shellie Anderson. Sample is now in store!

I am currently knitting the “Spring Lace Infinity Scarf” by Purl Avenue – knit in Shibui Linen the lace pattern combined with dropped stitches makes a for a delicate fabric.

A class for this particular pattern starts on Monday and there are a few spaces left, if you feel so inclined!

Picture from here.

I have chosen only a few from a wide selection –  check out ravelry.com for any number of possible designs and make your pick as you please!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Do You Give A Damn?

About the “Color of the Year”?

Well, this is it.

Just in case you feel like whipping up a summery design in that particular colorway, I checked on our inventory to see if we could oblige.

Shibui Linen, Bordeaux

Classic Elite Yarns - Firefly, 7727 Sangria

Classic Elite Firefly, Sangria

Quince Sparrow, Port

Rowan Creative Linen, Raspberry

As with every color, there are different interpretations. But these come as close as possible. Four out of, well, I don’t really know, but a lot of colors and summer yarns we have in stock.

It seems yarn companies do not bow to fashion trends much, I rather think they develop colors true to the owners/creative designers taste.

I, for one, wish the yarn industry cared a bit more for what is in fashion to be able to cater to our customers, however, having worked in the business, I do also know that the cycle of yarn is much different from the short lived trends in the fashion world. Then again, do we knitters really care that much? Knitting a sweater is like cooking ‘slow food’ – instead of going out buying whatever is available (i.e. ‘fast food’) we choose a design and put time and love into creating it. Meanwhile the fashion devotee is on to the third trend of the season and has to hurry to keep up. Which is really not what I personally am about.

So I have to ask myself: Do I give a damn, really?

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Sheer Spring

‘Sheer’ as in ‘nearly.’

‘Sheer’ as in ‘diaphanous’ (no one tell me I do not make an effort with the English language) also.

Diaphanous is big this year – especially for Spring and Summer. It is not new, the sheer, see through fabrics usually turn up around this time of year, yet I find some or other new idea that I feel drawn to.

Pictures courtesy of eileenfisher.com

These two sweaters are just an example – there are so many possibilities for us knitters to get inspired.

I will admit that knitting a sweater like that is usually a bit of work, since you want to use a fairly thin yarn on slightly larger needles than you would use normally – but the effect is worth the effort.

Lets face it: There is rarely a summer knit I feel comfortable wearing without a tee or a cami underneath, this way I make at least the most of it.

You might be surprised how much pops up by just entering ‘sheer’ into the pattern search on ravelry. However, you can just look at all the designs and imagine them in a thinner yarn that would make them light, airy and summery.  Here are some of my front runners:

The Silken Straw Summer Sweater by Purl Soho. Picture form here. Think Habu Tsumugi Silk, for a special kick Silk Stainless held together with the Fine Merino or Handmaiden Lino (which is available in store, and we just got new stock!).

Yes, I know, this one (Sweet Jane) does not look diaphanous. It is knit up at a gauge of 25 sts with a fingering weight. Now imagine this knit up with Handmaiden Lino, a fantastic linen/silk mix in a lace weight and there you go! Picture from here.

linier5

Yes, indeed. This is one of our newer store samples, the Taiyo Linier Top in Shibui Linen and Silk Cloud. I tried it on and quite like it! Imagine it also in Quince Sparrow, Shibui Twig or Classic Elite Firefly. At a gauge of 18 stitches this one knits up in almost a flash!

One designer who has this look down to a tee is one of our all time favourites: Cocoknits. Check it out and pick your shoo-ins!

Now, wasn’t this inspiring and ‘sheer entertainment’?

Happy knitting, as ever!

– Mona

WWMD*

It seems like Spring is slowly creeping upon us – finally! At the store we have new stock of summer yarns, including a few new ones I am itching to knit with like Quince Kestrel (a linen ribbon yarn) and Shibui Twig (a mix of recycled silk, linen and a bit of wool with a cool texture). I just have to find the right patterns.

What I am working on right now is a store sample worked in Drops Bomull Lin, a cotton linen mix in a worsted weight. This particular Drops pattern asks to knit the yarn quite loosely – as often with summer sweaters – and this in return opens up a whole box of questions about finishing.

I get them quite often at the store. Most of the times I am able to give you tips, other times I am not sure because it is quite tricky to advise something I haven’t done myself.

So here is another part of *What Would Mona Do.

First of all, when knitting summer yarns loosely, do not freak out about how uneven the knitting looks. Mine does too. Sometimes more so, sometimes less, usually not very pretty.

IMG_9837

Don’t fret – just steam! After a good steam blocking the sleeve looks like this:

IMG_9838

Much better, right?

Now, this particular sweater is knit in pieces that need to be seamed.

IMG_9839

Not so pretty either with all these ends hanging about. There is a good reason for it, though. In this case I have decided I am going to seam the sweater first and then ‘hide’ the ends in the seams, this way they won’t show. I could have woven the ends into the edge first, however that would make seaming a bit more difficult – so, seam first, weave after.

I might have mentioned it before, but here I go again: If you put a bit of thought into what comes after the knitting (finishing!) then you might be able to prepare that during knitting. It makes things usually easier and less daunting.

That is my morsel of WWMD for today.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

Mona

So Much To Do, So Little Time

As I type this, two men are busy fitting two new windows in the front of my house. I already have a new back door and a new front door. The side door is in place but incomplete because they delivered the wrong frame. (Also, apparently it is a must to bang the door every time the leave or come back into the house. Very annoying.)

My house is a mess. It doesn’t look like it but it is covered in a layer of dust.

No time for knitting today – gotta go clean…

I’ll be back next week with more interesting stuff, or at least I hope I will!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Dos And Don’ts

Sometimes it is really hard to decide what to do and what to don’t – but hey, maybe I can help you to figure it out when it comes to your knitted/woolly things!

Soon will come the time to put away your warm, wintery knits (yes, soon!) and as with everything else it is better to put them away clean. Winter coats get cleaned or washed before stashing them away, and so should your scarves and hats and whatnots.

After working for almost five years – yes, it has been that long! – at Espace Tricot I have added to my knowledge of how to wash knitted items, which I have been trained to do by my Mom since I was a kid.

All I can say is: You are so lucky! Nowadays hand washing is so much easier! Growing up with hand washing sweaters and things I never had an issue with yarn that is ‘not washable’ (meaning machine washable), on the contrary, mostly I prefer how those yarns feel and I am ready to do the extra work. Hey, wait a  minute. What extra work?

Let’s compare the praised machine washing with the hand washing:

  • place your laundry in the washer
  • put the detergent in the washer
  • start washer
  • when done, place laundry in the dryer, or if necessary, on drying rack/clothes line

What do you think how long it takes to do that? From beginning to end (not included the work the washer does), maybe 5-10 minutes, right?

Ok, now to the hand washing:

  • fill sink (or plastic tub, bucket etc.) with tepid water
  • add no rinse soap like Soak or Eucalan
  • place knitted item in water, squeeze out air
  • let soak for 10 minutes
  • empty sink and squeeze out water as much as possible (without twisting the knit), you might have to use and old towel to squeeze out more
  • lay flat to dry

How long do you think that takes? I’d say the longest part is waiting until the sink is full and then empty again, everything in between, maybe 5 minutes, maximum 10, waiting for the item to soak does not count.

What we have established now is that hand washing is really not that labour intensive. There is only one reason for that: no rinse soap!

When I started to wash sweaters, it was a labour of love. Same as now I’d fill the sink, add detergent (organic liquid soap, usually), wash my sweater, and then rinse. And rinse again. Sometimes up to four, five times. With cold or maybe tepid water. No fun. But my knitted sweaters lasted for a long time, because I took good care of them.

As you can see, the not so secret ingredient is the no rinse soap. I learned about Eucalan about 10 years ago, and happily added Soak later on. We have both at the store, and if you haven’t tried either, I do think you will want to!

Let’s talk about the dos and don’ts now:

Do

  • use tepid water for wool, warm/hot water makes wool felt
  • be gentle, squeeze the knit to get the air and then dirt out, too much movement will felt/full the wool
  • use the spin cycle on your washer to get the water out of more than one sweater or blankets ect. (the spin cycle does not hurt the wool, but it gets a lot of extra water out!)

Don’t

  • twist, wring the knit to get water out
  • rub the knit to get dirt out
  • use conditioner; yes, you could start a debate on that one, and, wool is nothing but spun hair, yet all conditioner does is add a layer of stuff onto your knits, just as it does to your hair
  • use Woolite; after a few experiences at the store with running colors even on machine dyed yarn, I ask you to avoid it for hand washing, it just seems too aggressive — and you’ll have to rinse
  • let the wet sweaters sit in the sink without water, the dye might just run a bit more (ask me how I know!), put them out to dry right away; this is especially important for hand dyed yarns

All of these recommendations for hand washing are based on my experience. You are perfectly welcome to do it differently if you prefer. Also, if you have any tips to add, leave a comment!

For superwash items I like to use the hand wash cycle in spite of being able to use the gentle cycle, and I use cold water. I also use my regular detergent, which has been fine so far. After all, in the machine the items get rinsed. I don’t have to add much here, except for ‘lay flat to dry’, of course! Oh, and maybe: don’t let them sit in the machine too long, when wet some dye might still leak – again, especially with hand dyed superwash yarns.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Not Long Now…

And Spring will be here. At least that is what the calendar will say. We Montrealers know better, of course. That doesn’t keep us at Espace Tricot from getting new Summer yarns to tempt you to knit for the warm season also. Before we get to what I have to say, I just wanted to show you a picture of my finished pouf:

20150223_153649

I used three IKEA Fjädrar inner cushions (65×65 cm/26×26″) to stuff it – plenty of volume for little cash!

Now back to business: Once again you’ll get to choose cotton, linen, silk, and various mixes of yarns that will give you a cooler fabric than wool. And once again I’ll get to hear things like:

“This yarn splits.” – It is true, a lot of summer yarns do not hold up or together as well as wool or hairy yarns. That is just the nature of things. My recommendation in this case is to use blunt tipped knitting needles, so that the tip is less prone to help splitting the yarn even more – avoid lace tips!

“My, I had so much trouble with it being slippery.” – Again, yes, cotton, linen and the like are slippery suckers on metal needles. You’ll have more control about them when using bamboo or acrylic (Marblz!!) because these materials are more grippy and less slippery in combination with a slippery yarn.

“This yarn is so hard to knit with.” – This can mean anything from the yarn being slippery, having no elasticity to having a tendency to split. I’ll encourage you to switch up your tools – if you knit with metal needles, try bamboo. If the tips are too pointy, use blunter tips. “Hard to knit with” can mean a lot of different things – if you complain about that I can try to help, but you need to explain further.

“I think this is hard on the hands.” – This is a complaint I often get from tight knitters. Due to the fact that there is little elasticity in summer yarns, tight knitters might have a problem. The only advice I can give here is: Let loose. (Yeah, I know. I wish it was that easy.)

These remarks come together for various reasons, however there is one fact that cannot be denied: Summer yarns rarely have elasticity.

Unless it is added, cotton, silk, linen and the like do have little if none elasticity, that is just in the nature of these fibers. That is also a reason why summer knits are often knit at a larger gauge than recommended on the ball band. Apart from getting a lighter fabric, it is more pleasant to knit at a looser gauge.

Personally, I do love knitting with linen. I like the crunch, the crispness of the fabric – and then, oh wonder, once you wash your sweater it becomes softer and softer. With each wash it becomes more like your favourite t-shirt you keep wearing even though it might have holes and needs to be replaced. (No, my sweater does not have holes. This is an analogy to make a point.)

As with our ‘hairy’ yarns we consciously choose natural fibers for summer. 100% cotton, linen and silk are very pleasant to wear and I encourage you to take the plunge into summer knitting, maybe with one of the designs Melissa put together this week?

Summer is definitely for knitting – I won’t stop, that is for sure!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Inspirationally Renewed

This is how I feel after a weekend with Stephen and Steven. It was much fun, if you were there I hope you enjoyed it also!

Looking with a fresh view at my stash, I got out some yarn I have had no plan for but found something to do with – and knitting something I wanted for a while now!

Pouf

It’s the Marshmallow Pouf by Drops.

I am using 5 strands of Lopi on a 15 mm (US 19) needle to get the gauge of 5 sts/4″. It is huge, it is getting heavy and I yet have to find something to stuff it with, but I am sure I’ll be very happy with the result. I do not have enough of any colour in my stash, so I’ll be varying the colour combo as I go. I might even have to use some Lett Lopi to fill in some gaps…

I am embracing the “YES Knitter” in me!!

Are you looking at your stash with new eyes? Finding possibilities you haven’t seen before your Stephen and Steven experience?

Don’t forget, have something bright and something sparkly in your knitting bag for emergencies…  😉

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Are They Going To Freeze?

Indeed, that is the question that was and is running through my head whenever I am thinking about the big event this weekend with Stephen and Steven. Somehow I feel this winter has been extraordinarily harsh, and the snow that fell last night just enhances my conviction. Really, I wanted to crawl under my blanket and stay there all day when I heard that there was more snow.

You might be wondering why it feels like I am complaining about winter – I live in Montreal, after all. Well, every year about this time I am getting thoroughly sick of the snow, and also of the arctic air that seems to have made our lives miserable for so long this year. On the bright side: Look at the Maritimes. They got it way worse!

Did you see Melissa’s Silk’N Scribbles here and maybe you’ve been to the store and saw Lisa’s version? Here is my own – after seeing how it turned out I could not resist. And, after knitting a few of Stephen West designs I thought it only right to knit a StevenBe!

IMG_9835

I think I need to make tassels, don’t you agree that it really asks for tassels? BTW, there are some kits left should you feel tempted like I did!

I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait for the events happening this weekend! Two days of entertainment, learning and lots of fun with Stephen and Steven – let’s just hope they are not going to freeze…

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

Trying To Keep Warm

It is cold here in Montreal. D’uh, you think, it is the end of January – of course it is cold. So all you can do is trying to keep warm. With hats, scarves and mittens. Like the Basic Mittens I wrote a pattern for last winter.

How to knit a basic mitten part 1

How to knit a basic mitten part 2

They are great mittens. I do like them a lot – once I got around to knit a pair for myself and wear them, I mean.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that when it is -18 degrees centigrade they are not warm enough. Not at all. That needed a solution. And Sock yarn. And very small double pointed nedles.

Now let’s start this:

How to knit a mitten liner.

Like these:

Those are Melissa’s. You could have a pair, too. (Though you do have to knit them yourself)

Mitten Liner:

You want to have your mitten handy when knitting these. They help you to know how long to knit the different parts.

This will be my pair.

With 2 mm needles CO 64 sts. Distribute them evenly onto dpns and close to round, careful not to twist sts. Knit until piece measures about 1″ longer than your mitten from edge to where the thumb starts. (to measure, unroll the edge.)

For right hand mitten:

Next rnd: K11, then place these sts onto holder, work to end of rnd.

At beg of next rnd, CO 11 sts with backward loop method, work to end of rnd. Work until piece measures same length as mitten just before the top decreases start.

Next (dec) rnd: If you have knit a sock before, this will sound familiar. If not, here goes: *On needle 1, k1, ssk, then work to end. Needle 2, work to last three stitches, k2tog, k1. Repeat from * on needle 3 and 4.

Work 2 rnds even.

Next rnd: Repeat decrease round.

Work 1 rnd even.

Repeat last 2 rnds until there are 8 sts left on each needle, then repeat decrease rnd every rnd until there are 4 sts left on each needle. Graft stitches together.

Thumb: Place 11 sts from holder onto needle. Knit 11, pick up and knit 1 sts into gap between sts and cast-on edge, pick up and and knit 11 from cast-on edge, pick up and knit 1 more st from gap 24 sts.

Work until thumb is 1/2″ shorter than thumb of your mitten.

Next (dec) rnd: *k1, ssk, k7, k2tog; rep from * once more – 20 sts. Knit 1 rnd.

Next (dec) rnd: *k1, ssk, k5, k2tog; rep from * once more – 16 sts. Knit 1 rnd.

Next (dec) rnd: *k1, ssk, k3, k2tog; rep from * once more – 12 sts. Knit 1 rnd.

Next (dec) rnd: *k1, ssk, k1, k2tog; rep from * once more – 8 sts.

Graft remaining sts together.

For left hand mitten work as for right hand, but place last 11 stitches of rnd on needle.

Weave in ends. Steam block lightly.

Wear inside your Basic Mittens to keep your hands toasty.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

D’you know….?

That is the question I have to deal with at least 10 times a day – it seems more acute since my daughter started knitting. Yep, she did. About two weeks ago. Ever since then I get asked questions that are not really questions like

“D’you know that I really love Samantha’s yarn?”

“D’you know that I really love knitting?”

“D’you know that I looooove the yarn you gave me?”

Those are just samples of the apparent deep love for knitting my daughter has discovered. Well. The love of talking about knitting. And the love of accumulating knitterly things. And having a list of projects to the moon and back. Though I do have to admit that she knits a few stitches per day, sometimes even a row on the scarf she is working on now.

Egg knits

I am thrilled.

Now, do you know that I am also not done talking about knitting?

Today we’re still working on the fine-tuning. This time we’re fine-tuning selvedge stitches. Or selvage stitches. (I do not know why there are two spellings, but if you encounter either of them, it is the same thing.)

When I knit a garment in pieces, I do not knit specific selvedge stitches, I keep the first and last stitch in stockinette – this makes seaming much easier.

The reason is that selvedge stitches only get knitted every second row, and otherwise you slip them. I do find that produces holes when seaming. Picking up stitches is also much easier if you have all the rows to work with and not only half. However if you have a piece of knitting that won’t be seamed (scarf, etc.) you might want to use a selvedge stitch.

When working a selvedge stitch starting with a knit stitch, you want to slip it knit wise with yarn in back (see, we’re kind of picking up where I left off) and work to the end of the row. If you slip this one purl wise it will be loose and does not look good, in short: it really does not do what it is supposed to do. So make sure you slip it knit wise.

If the first stitch is a purl stitch, you want to slip the stitch purl wise with yarn in front and then do whatever you do to the end of the row. I am not saying it is impossible to slip this one knit wise, but it sort of works against the knitting when you try to do that.

I hope this helps with cleaning up your edges – when you feel like it.

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona