knitting stripes, a tip to “carry up”

The first time I worked a project in stripes I was confused what it meant to “carry up”. How did I do that? My sole reference book at the time simply stated: “Wrap the working yarn around the other yarn(s) every 2-3cm (1in). Make sure the yarns do not pull.”[1] Did I twist the yarns together to the right or left? How many times did I twist? What if I tried knitting the two strands together? At the time information wasn’t as easily accessible as it is now, this was over twenty years ago. All I had was the one book, while full of techniques, wasn’t a successful way to teach this crocheter how to knit!

More importantly, I didn’t understand the value of swatching yet. Yarn was precious and I didn’t think that a swatch could help me learn new things. It was a way to figure out my gauge, that was it! I also thought swatches wasted my yarn. Yes, I know now how limiting that mindset was.

Now, with years of experience I know how to successfully carry up yarn for knitting stripes. Further, I can prove it.

TL;DR: The secret is consistency.

Ok fine, I hear you grumble. Does it really matter?

That depends.

What are your goals for the project? Will the edge of your fabric be prominent (perhaps the edge of a cowl joined together at the short ends), or will another stitch cover it to create a border? In this second case, it may not matter as much if at all.

Swatch Example

Since I now love to swatch, I knitted up this example to show how different inconsistencies affect the edge. I also knit up a bit with a consistent change. From a distance, this unblocked swatch isn’t extra loud about that edge.

knit striped swatch, in purple anda varigated purple-green-grey yarn. The striped sections are seperated by solid purple knitting.

Yes it’s a bit wonky, but the entire thing could use a blocking.

Let’s look more closely at this knitted fabric. I’ll describe the three sections starting at the bottom, the cast-on edge.

Inconsistent Edge Examples

inconsistent knit striped swatch, in purple anda varigated purple-green-grey yarn. This swatch shows the inconsistencies in changing the working yarn.
click on the image to view larger

In this first stripe section, I twisted a few times one way, then switched to going the opposite, then returned to what I did at the start.

The inconsistencies for this edge are subtle. It’s likely no one would notice once it’s blocked and worn a few times.

Can you switch back and forth how you twist? You can, but I think you’ll find it easier to always do it in the same way. It turns into muscle memory and then you don’t even think about it.


inconsistent knit striped swatch, in purple anda varigated purple-green-grey yarn. This swatch shows additional inconsistencies in changing the working yarn.
click on image to view larger

The second section was when I decided to first twist for a few rows, then for a few of the color changes I knit both yarns together on the first stitch of the change, and in the final few rows, I twisted again.

This is more obvious in its inconsistencies.

Is it clear to those who aren’t knitters? Probably not until they stare at it for a while after you point it out.

I find this type of inconsistency the hardest to create. The act of knitting the two strands together is a very different action than twisting. There might be a reason you choose one method over another, but I wouldn’t suggest mixing them in one edge.


Consistent Edge Example

close up of knit striped swatch, in purple anda varigated purple-green-grey yarn. This photo shows the consistent edge.
click on image to view larger

In this final third section I picked up the new yarn the same way every time.

It should be no surprise that I think this consistent edge looks the best.

It was also the fastest sample to work. The first two took me about 15 minutes each. This one took less than 10 minutes.

Confession: It was challenging to intentionally make inconsistencies in this swatch. I had to rip it out a few times to make it happen.

For any other consistencies in this swatch, I had a feline assistant.

A black cat is sitting on a lap looking at the knitted swatch laying on a wooden desk.
My helper while knitting the striped swatch.

He didn’t spend the entire time on my lap either. He wanted to climb onto my shoulders.

Summary

The key to a clean edge is to be consistent in whatever method you choose for carrying up your yarn.

If you’d like to learn more about working with multiple colors, the best way to learn is to try different methods in a swatch. I like to write down what I do in a notebook and also record my thoughts on each method.

If you want to read more, technique and beginner books offer ideas and often clear photos of how different methods look. Remember, your public library can be a valuable resource, and don’t forget that many (all at this point?) also offer eBooks. I wrote about a few books I recommend in reference books – knit and crochet.

As you work certain designs you may find a benefit to using one method over the another.

If you’re working with multiple colors and can’t carry them all up at once, I recommend Xandy Peter‘s solution for weaving in ends as you go, it’s available as a YouTube video.

Crocheters, I’m working on swatches that explore why consistency is important for you too.

References

  1. Stanley, Montse. Reader’s Digest Knitter’s Handbook: A comprehensive guide to the principles and techniques of handknitting. Reader’s Digest, 1993. p. 159-60.

three tips: join being careful not to twist

There are six simple words that strike dread every time, “join being careful not to twist”. My brain groans and sighs with an “I know!” and I set out to make a careful join. I rarely get it right on the first try. Or the second.

For instance, take this lovely foundation chain of over 100 stitches of Universal Yarn’s Whisper Lace (colourway Lemongrass), it’s for a sample crochet project. It was extra frustrating because I also twisted the join on my gauge swatches too! The sore point is that I didn’t double check until I was in the middle of my second complete round.

See, it happens to me too. Newbies, please don’t be embarrassed!

It’s why I prefer to knit my socks toe-up, work my hats from the crown-to-brim, and in general avoid joining a large number of stitches whenever possible. Is there anything you can do? If you ask knitters or crocheters their advice for avoiding that dreaded twist will differ as much as which needle or hook is best. There’s no wrong way to do it, however, some may affect the design effect. It’s worth keeping that in mind as you develop your own tool box of tip and tricks. When I create a sample, I follow the designer’s instructions as rule and can’t always use my favorite method.

Three ways to join being careful not to twist

  1. Work the first row straight and then join on the second row. This often requires me to reverse the pattern for the wrong side so it isn’t always an option. I use the tail to close up the gap from the first row.
  2. If when I reach the end of the first round I discover a twist, I twist again and carry on. Really! Depending on the project this may or may not be noticeable at the end.
  3. After completing the cast on, I add stitch markers to the bottom edge to weigh it down and provide visual contrast. Then I lay the project on a flat contrasting surface and make sure that all markers are in the same direction before bringing the ends together.

Do you have a favorite tip for joining to work in the round?

book review: Shawl Geometry Series

There are numerous variables for a knit shawl design, whether created from the first stitch or a pattern. It doesn’t matter where one starts in the process–yarn, gauge, or stitch pattern–each one increases the complexity. That is before adding in the most important choice, shape. That’s where Holly Chayes revised Shawl Geometry Series books come to the rescue. Whether you’re interested in knitting a triangle or a 3/4 pi donut the shape is solved for you, without elaborate maths!

I happen to love maths and find Shawl Geometry Series invaluable when I sit to design. In my case, I often fall into a formula rut and knit the same shape repeatedly without meaning to. The ability to spend my swatch time exploring variations without spending hours on the maths is priceless. As a bonus, I can size them for Leah and see how they will look when worn.

Commonalities

While each book explores different topics, Holly has worked to create consistency across the series. You’ll find clear photos of lime green swatches throughout the book. There are diagrams that show the direction and rate of increases. If you prefer bottom (border) up to top down (center out) construction, the instructions are written both ways. There is also an extensive reference section for those wishing to dig even deeper into the shaping of shawls.

Finally, the book is laid out so that it is possible to print small selections without wasting paper on extraneous materials. I found it enjoyable to work from on my tablet, I don’t have to swipe through multiple pages to get at the heart of the instructions for any shawl shape.

My swatch shawls are knit in Lorna’s Laces String Quintet, the Dulcimer colourway collection. Unfortunately, I rushed my bind-offs this morning and they’re too tight, affecting the final shape of Leah’s shawls.

Book one

The first book steps the knitter through three basic traditional shawl shapes. There are multiple ways to knit squares (and rectangles), triangles, and circles–28 shapes in all.

I knit an Octagon Circle with slit.

Book two

This volume includes 45 additional shapes. These branch out beyond the expected variations on squares, rectangles, and triangles! The new shapes include trapezoids, doughnuts, and crescents.

I chose to work up a faroese style shawl swatch, because many of the other shapes were making me hungry.


Book three

Finally, in book three the principles and theory of shawl shaping are explored in greater detail. What effect does the distribution or rate of shaping have to the final shawl shape? How can one combine elements of various shapes to form a new hybrid shape? And the importance of blocking. I’ll echo that last with a public reminder to bind off in your swatch as you might bind off in the larger piece. That will help shape the shawl into the desired dimensions.

Conclusion

I recommend the Shawl Geometry Series for every knitter. It’s valuable whether you are looking to work beyond traditional shawl shapes or wish to focus on the design, not the maths. The author sent me a copy in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.


Learn more and purchase Shawl Geometry Series at hollychayes.com.

two book ideas for easy crafting

I love challenging myself with complicated designs, though I also take great joy in the beauty found within simple patterns. After a long day I don’t always want to knit another garter stitch washcloth, it’s nice to have easy to work patterns on hand. The two books in today’s post fit this basic criteria.

Drop-Dead Easy Knits

by Gale Zucker, Mary Lou Egan, Kirsten Kapur

With this title on your shelf you’ll never be without a knit, from a quick and cozy project when you need something warm to a lightweight item keeping you occupied at the beach after you’ve finished your latest guilty read. With classic designs, Drop Dead Easy Knits will become a good knitting friend that you pull off the shelf again and again.

The designs are grouped by topic, not the expected type of item, but rather the knitting environment. You’ll find items to work confidently while distracted at knit night with the Shandy Headband or you can turn to the joggle scarf when enduring a family get-together. At the seashore sit with your toes in the sand while working up a Searsport Market Bag or warm your toes at the fire as you whip up an instant gift, also known as a Portillo Cowl.

The range of projects suits a variety of knitters, yarns, and situations with the benefit that they really are easy! There are tips and notes in each pattern for if you can engage cruise control, or if success requires paying attention. This is a title I recommend for all bookshelves.

Want to know more? Gale, Mary Lou, and Kirsten filmed a short video with great additional tips:
[youtube https://youtu.be/AFgnuV0fIkE]


Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies: 101 Projects for Infants & Toddlers

by Judith Durant, Edie Eckman

The eighth book in the One-Skein Wonders series does not disappoint, and even more delightful is that it’s for crocheters! While several earlier titles include a token project or two, this volume celebrates all designs crochet.

The projects are arranged by standard categories: hats, socks, tops, blankets, and numerous types of accessories. In addition to a standard index is one by yarn weight. These are helpful for those situations when you have yarn but aren’t quite sure what you want to make. Many different tips are included to ensure successful projects. Two I like are nice reminders for hats: a larger hat can be grown into, a smaller one is pointless and to keep bonnet tie lengths short. Symbol diagrams are included where feasible. Attention to layout means the symbol key and abbreviation chart are facing each other in the print copy.

If you crochet and wish to expand your repertoire, I recommend this versatile addition to your bookshelf.

I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

five books for your spring bookshelf

It’s officially spring, and my reading pace hasn’t slackened one bit. The “to be reviewed” pile is threatening to overtake one of the “to be read” piles, so here are five titles that recently caught my eye. They are each unique and diverse in topic and skill; I’ve decided their trend is colour. I love colour most during late winter and early spring as I wait for the snow to slowly melt. Without further ado, let’s jump in.

Crochet

A Garden of Shawls
by Karen Whooley
Review copy provided by the author. I crocheted a sample for the collection.

It’s delightful to finally be able to talk about this collection of twelve crochet shawls by Karen. Karen’s expertise and professionalism is evident in every page of this title from her new imprint, Occhi Blu Press. The patterns are beautifully photographed, schematics are included, and the stitches are provided in both written and diagram form. I had great enjoyment working up the sample for Trellis. Now I need to decide which design I’ll work up for myself, I have a feeling that in time I’ll work through each of the twelve designs.

Knitting

Coffee with C.C. (and Dami Too) ~ Another 7 Pattern Caffeine Inspired Knitting Collection
by C.C. Almon & Dami Almon
Review copy provided by the author.

When C.C. let it be known she was working on a new collection, once again I almost spilled my coffee in my rush to reply! I very much enjoyed her first title, and this time she is joined by her daughter Dami. Five of the designs are for socks, there’s a brilliant pair of fingerless mitts, and a new wrap to help keep away the chill of your favourite coffee shop. Once again, I love that the sock patterns are written for both toe-up (my personal preference) and cuff-down (many other knitters’ preferred sock knitting technique). While I am not a fan of instant coffee I really like Dami’s Instant Coffee Socks. CC’s 1 Shot, 2 Shots, 3 Shots Fingerless Mitts are brilliant, I am the only person I know able to be holding a hot drink and still sport ice cold hands. The newest 7 designs from the adorable mother/daughter duo of C.C. and Dami Almon is sure to delight.

Mosaic & Lace Knits: 20 Innovative Patterns Combining Slip-Stitch Colorwork and Lace Techniques
by Barbara Benson
Review copy provided by Netgalley/Stackpole Books.

Barbara possesses one of those brilliant, creative, and generous minds that I would love to take out for coffee. She has figured out colourwork lace by building upon Barbara Walker’s Mosaic technique. This melding of brilliant Barbaras has created many new and fascinating possibilities. It has been difficult for me not to tell my schedule to go away and swatch the projects for days on end. Benson takes you through how she created this process, tips for getting started, and things to keep in mind aloncg the way so your mosaic lace projects are successful. The first project is a basic bulky mosaic mitten, without lace, to help you become comfortable with mosaic knitting. From there, the possibilities expand not only to shawls and scarves at various yarn weights, but also hats, a bag, fingerless mitts, and a delightful pillow. Several designs caught and held my eye that I hope some day to find the spare time to work up, including Isochronal Arc, Lacy Pinstripe Cowlette, and Fractured Helix. What will you knit first?

Creativity

I think that combined these two titles could be quite powerful to helping jumpstart your creativity.

Pattern Studio : A Creative Workbook for Sketching Unique Repeats
Kulik, Shayna.
discovered on the shelves at my local public library

I keep thanking the acquisition librarians at my library for adding titles I don’t think I would otherwise ever encounter. Kulik’s book is one of those rare gems. I’m also thankful I found it while it’s new, it was very tempting to start doodling on the enticing blank pages! This title provides 56 worksheets (6 warm-ups and 50 exercises) that will help you to develop the tools in order to create unique patterns of your own. The second portion of the book offers patterns, bios, and quotes from a diverse group of 50 artists to help you see the infinite creative possibilities. The exercise pages include subtle doodles so that you don’t need to fear the blank page. The exercises range from geometric patterns such as from the soles of your sneakers or the zigzag of a staircase, to patterns of buttons or stacks of books. This is a title that will definitely help direct your creativity and take your pattern and texture creation to new places.

Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking
by Emily K. Neuburger
Review copy provided by Netgalley/Storey Publishing.

I don’t see myself as an art journaler, but I know the value of regular focused practice. I requested a review copy of Journal Sparks with the desire to find ways to improve my doodling and my creative thought process. Neuberger has created a beautiful and thorough book with many different ideas and prompts that will inspire; my notes of the title have many more doodles than I expected. I think this would also be fun to work through with another Storey title, Knit the Sky. The creative possibilities are endless and I have many new ideas to help nudge my creativity when I feel stuck.

stitch dictionaries, some new, some old

I love stitch dictionaries and they seem to follow me home from book sales as if I’m the pied piper. In this post I’ll share a few dictionaries that are new and several classic favorites. Please also check out these previous posts, knit resources and crochet resources.

Why do I like to have so many? Sometimes seeing a stitch explained a little differently, next to another stitch, photographed a different way can make all the difference from my skipping swatching to it hopping on my needles or hook.

Upcoming Release

Every Which Way Crochet Borders: 139 Patterns for Customized EdgingsEvery Which Way Crochet Borders
by Edie Eckman
Storey Publishing
Expected publication: January 24th 2017

This title will be a great resource for those who always turn to the same handful of crochet borders. Eckman begins with basics of crochet borders onto a variety of base fabrics and then jumps into creativity far beyond the simple foundation. I’m slowly working on adding a border to a fleece blanket, once I progress past my first round, I’ll need to make a decision one which border from the vast catalogue provided. The attention to detail is what makes this book stand out, with clear photos, easy to spot categorizations of each border (wide/narrow, reversible, textured, etc.), instructions in both written and charted form, and more. I hope to provide a more detailed review when the book is available.

I received an early review copy from Storey Publishing through NetGalley, the FTC wants you to know.


New Release (Relatively)

The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary: 150 new stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth & in the roundThe Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary: 150 new stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth & in the round
by Wendy Bernard
STC Craft

Sometimes I knit flat, sometimes I knit in the round, sometimes I knit something toe or brim-up, and sometimes I knit cuff or crown-down. While I could convert most stitches quickly sometimes I just want to knit. I find that possible with Bernard’s stitch dictionary. There are many classic stitch patterns from knit and purl combinations, to ribbing, to cables, and even lace. The first volume is Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary.


Classics

The Harmony Guide To Knitting Stitches (The Harmony Guide to Knitting, #1)The Harmony Guide To Knitting Stitches

While this title is a new addition to my library, it’s a classic; I’m very thankful to have found it at a local library book sale a few weeks ago.



Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting PatternsMary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns
This was the very first knitting stitch dictionary I purchased. Even in this age of ebooks, I still turn to it when I want something light to tuck into my bag.

A Treasury of Knitting Patterns A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns Charted Knitting Designs: A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns
I’m a fan of the Barbara Walker Treasury of Knitting Patterns series. They are expensive, but if you are very very lucky and patient and haunt used book stores, it is possible to find them second hand. I use these in combination with Reversible Pattern Stitches in Barbara G. Walker’s Treasuries Compiled by Mary Lee Herrick and The Walker Treasury Project. If you would like to purchase them as a complete set, I suggest ordering from Schoolhouse Press.

pile of stitch dictionaries

Do you have a favourite stitch dictionary?