Thursday, January 29, 2015

The End of January: Industrious Needles Version










Well things have certainly been busy around here, a few new opportunities as well as trying desperately to finish up old ones all while having everyone sick sick sick. Not totally sure why this year has been so bad, perhaps because we have two kids in fulltime school and Little Baby No Sleep makes sure we only get the minimum amount to function? Who knows, but it has been a roller coaster of germs around here for the past few months. Thankfully in my opinion the best way to prevent getting sick is staying warm (maybe true, maybe not but it supports my knitting habit so be quiet), and there has been no shortage of handknits flying off the needles.



This is a new design I am working on using two colors of worsted weight wool, one plain and one variegated. Of course I suppose you could use two plain colors but really why would you miss an opportunity to work with gorgeous hand dyed variegated yarn? I am kind of obsessed see...



Also working on a size 6 for Little Big sister, of course her color is called Plum Crazy... of course... lol


I did not knit this but it is a sample knit of my Planche Vest Pattern that is going to be re-released next week in my personal PDF format. I added expanded instructions to make the areas worked around the markers easier to understand. This is the lovely Gretchen modeling her newly finished Planche Vest in Universal yarns Cotton Supreme, color denim.. she may be my friend who always picks blue.. but I'll never tell...


And lastly this rush job sock for the Paradise Fibers Yarn Club, I have been working closely with them this past week which has been a real blast (details to come later.) But watch for this pattern to be released in February when the yarn club shipment goes out! And this is Ivory's foot. Nice no?



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Technique Tuesday: Fixing Dropped Stitches

Essentially a dropped stitch is a loop of knitting that has been dropped off the active needle and is no longer being held, this enables it to unravel down the work. To stop this you must place the dropped stitch onto the left needle right leg forward and work the loops in order up to the active row.

Fixing a dropped stitch in stockinette stitch
With a swatch of active stockinette stitches on the needle work across to the middle of the swatch, drop one stitch and allow it (or help it) to unravel at least 4 rows. 

RS Knit Stitch: Place dropped stitch onto the left needle right leg forward, *insert left needle tip below bottom ladder rung, use right tip to lift stitch over bottom ladder rung and create a stitch, rep from * for remaining ladder rungs.


Fixing a dropped stitch in garter stitch
With a swatch of active garter stitches on the needle work across to the middle of the swatch, drop one stitch and allow it (or help it) to unravel at least 4 rows. Observe whether the last worked row was a knit row on the WS or the RS, you can count rows down from the active row to help you decide. If you need to work  a RS knit stitch, work as above, if you need to work a WS knit stitch work as below, alternate between a RS knit stitch and a WS knit stitch for pattern. 

WS Knit Stitch: Place dropped stitch onto the right needle right leg forward, *insert right needle tip below bottom ladder rung and bring active stitch behind ladder rung with active stitch still on needle and ladder rung across tip of right needle, use left tip to lift stitch over bottom ladder rung and create a stitch; rep from * for WS knit stitch. 
Garter stitch can also be fixed by working a RS knit stitch then turning the work and working another RS knit stitch. 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mercury Glass Mittens Rereleased

Well, the holidays are over and quite frankly that was a pretty rough Christmas. Our particular holiday was sorta.. well awful.. both the Hubs and I contracted the stomach flu late on Christmas Eve which resulted in neither of us checking on the chickens properly before bed. And yes of course that means we woke up to one less alive chicken on Christmas morning, sigh, RIP Puddin' you were a lovely bird. Needless to say no one was hungry so turkey was postponed until the next day, the poor kids opened gifts to rather unenthusiastic arghs and ughs and then we both slunk away to trade off napping and watching the baby. Not Stellar. But we made it through and hopefully our girls remember it with tender hearts and understanding.
 I always like the anticipation of the holiday season much more than the actual day. I prefer not really knowing what is in a gift but rather just knowing that someone picked it out for me. Somehow waiting for it seems to be more satisfying than the actual unwrapped thing. Same with the tree and decorating the house, the act of putting away our usual stuff and preparing a place for a living tree to be part of our loving home is meditatively soothing. Lifting each decoration out of the box and remembering how we received it and from whom is my favorite part of the holiday. Closely followed by the girls constantly arranging and rearranging the tree with their baby ornaments and decorations from their grandparents.

When I was young we had a huge tree, the living room in my parents house has a vaulted ceiling which is about 12 feet high and we would get a tree that would touch the tip of the ridgeline with the star. It took forever to decorate that tree, it was the open kind of tree with sparse branches that could accommodate hundreds of ornaments (or so it seemed) and so many of them were from far off places and people. A Grandmother who passed before I could make memories with her, salt dough portraits of my parents that my mom made when they lived in Cape Town, beaded pin ornaments from a very special family friend turned adopted honorary Grandmother, handmade Santas and Angels from my dearest Aunt Diane who left before her time. Even a baby ornament from my birth year with tiny baby Meghan photos on one side and an ice skating angle on the other!
Of all the precious ornaments that we encrusted the tree with the Mercury Glass ornaments were the most rare, breakable, and beautiful. Passed down generations from my mother's Grandmother they were amazing shining orbs of glass with jewel toned color and delicate frosted Mica accents. I can STILL HEAR MY MOM saying to be careful and not break them as they were precious and beautiful and perfect. And we tried, oh did we try, but inevitably one or even two got broken every year. I don't know how many are left now, I moved away and since we are the family with the kids it is easier to have Christmas here at our house. But I suspect, since I know my mom can be cagey when she wants to, that there are still a few around somewhere.
When a call for submission for Interweave Gifts went out a few years ago I immediately thought of the Mercury Glass ornaments. They were so beautiful and if I could only come up with a way to let them inspire a piece it would be a perfect Christmas tribute. I realized that if I knit mittens sideways with short rows that they could be knit to look like the ornaments what were a circle divided into 4 petal shapes. Then an addition of fern stitch embroidery would represent the frosted sparkles that so defined the ornaments of memory. I remember being incredibly excited that when Lisa Shroyer picked the yarn for the project she was able to find the perfect blue and pink, if you look at the above photo the blue and pink ornament was exactly the one I was thinking about.

This pattern is worked in an Aran weight yarn and is perfect for stash busting as you could work with 2 colors or even 4. It is now available for purchase through Ravelry and remember if you knit a pair I would love to see a photo!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bright Peak Pullover

Now availabe for purchase, the Bright Peak pullover in Schachenmayer original Boston. Kinda obsessed with the boat neck folks, and the square body with wide graphic stripes and an offest cable. This simple pullover is quick, and really at this point in the winter isn't that what we need? When all the best sweater intentions planned in October with the first nip of fall, shunted to the side after a barrage of Christmas knitting are now revisited in the depths of January. Do you have time for a whole sweater? You might, but you would have more time for a bulky pullover, with simple shaping and patterning. It would be done sooner, and it is a fun knit... I mean really fun..
 This was originally designed for the Schachemayer My Mountain contest, a contest intended for designs featuring the Boston Original yarn. This yarn is a nice combination of acrylic and wool, just enough of both to have an easy care yarn that is still nice to work with. Acrylic gets a bad rap sometimes, from me as well, for being tough to knit and not really worth the agony for the finished project.
However this super soft lightly spun yarn is an exception, fairly easy to work with it has a lofty feel that makes a bulky pullover lighter and more versatile. And of course it features those wild new neon colors that really aren't all that new... but if you are old enough to have worn them before ...congratulations! We are buddies and we can both wear them again proudly! This design was inspired by the  bulky pullovers and neon shades from the eighties, reimagined and modernized with sleeker armhole shaping and punchy graphic stripes. Pairing the neon with a basic charcoal grey reduces the intensity of the yellow and matures the overall design.
This pattern uses one needle size, wide bands of 2x2 ribbing and no waist shaping or neck shaping. The sleeves are a modified drop which means that you do bind off some stitches at the underarm but the armholes are rectangles without complicated shaping. Of course with a sweater knit flat in pieces there is some seaming: the shoulders are joined with 3 needle bind off, the sleeves are picked up and knit from the armhole down, the bottom sleeve and side seams are joined using mattress stitch. But really a little seaming in bulky weight is worth it for such a cute wardrobe addition!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Technique Tuesday: Tinking or Unknitting your work.

Tinking or Unknitting is a method used to go backwards a few stitches in your work to fix a mistake. This technique is perfect for a mistake worked in the current row, or to go back to an area that has a mistake lower down.

In standard knitting all stitches are placed on the needle with the right leg in front. 

Tinking a Row

With a swatch on the right needle observe the 1st active stitch on the needle, place the left needle on the top of the loop of the active stitch and follow one leg of the loop down into the lower stitch inserting the needle into the lower stitch. Pull this lower stitch onto the left needle and pull out the active stitch loop to unknit that stitch.  Repeat for remaining stitches of row on swatch.

When unknitting onto the left needle you must insert the tip into the stitch the same direction that the active loop left the stitch so that it is oriented with the right leg in front. Conversely if you are unknitting onto the right needle you need to insert the right needle into the stitch in the same direction that the active loop entered the stitch so the stitch is oriented with the right leg in front.



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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Technique Tuesday: Grafting 1x1 ribbing or seed stitch

Kitchener’s can also be used to seamlessly join 1x1 ribbing and seed stitch. This technique is a bit more involved than just the stockinette or garter grafting as it is a combination of the two.

Grafting 1x1 Ribbing

In this case there will be four steps, two for the Knit stitches on each needle and two for the Purl stitches. The first series of steps is for ribbing beginning with a knit stitch, or to get seed stitch that begins with a knit stitch;

Step 1: Insert Tapestry needle pwise into the 1st stitch on the front needle, leave on
Step 2: Insert tapestry needle kwise into the 1st stitch on the back needle, leave on
Step 3: Insert kwise into the 1st stitch on the front needle, slip stitch off, insert kwise into next stitch on the front needle leave on.
Step 4: Insert pwise into the 1st stitch on the back needle, slip stitch off, insert pwise into next stitch on the back needle leave on.
Step 5: Insert pwise into the 1st stitch on the front needle, slip stitch off, insert pwise into next stitch on the front needle leave on.
Step 6: Insert kwise into the 1st stitch on the back needle, slip stitch off, insert kwise into next stitch on the backneedle leave on.

And if your ribbing begins with a purl stitch, or to get seed stitch that begins with a purl stitch;

Step 1: Insert Tapestry needle kwise into the 1st stitch on the front needle, leave on
Step 2: Insert tapestry needle pwise into the 1st stitch on the back needle, leave on
Step 3: Insert pwise into the 1st stitch on the front needle, slip stitch off, insert pwise into next stitch on the front needle leave on.
Step 4: Insert kwise into the 1st stitch on the back needle, slip stitch off, insert kwise into next stitch on the back needle leave on.
Step 5: Insert kwise into the 1st stitch on the front needle, slip stitch off, insert kwise into next stitch on the front needle leave on.
Step 6: Insert pwise into the 1st stitch on the back needle, slip stitch off, insert pwise into next stitch on the backneedle leave on.

If grafting seed stitch both sides need to have the same row worked last, and then choose the grafting steps that begin with the opposite stitch. For example if your seed stitch begins with a knit stitch you will want to graft the instructions for beginning with a purl stitch, and vice versa.

Grafting Seed Stitch
Grafting seed stitch is the same as 1x1 ribbing you just have to make sure that the first and last row are the same and that you are working the opposite row you would work for 1x1 ribbing. So for example if your first and last row of seed stitch begin with a knit stitch you would work a grafting row that begins with a purl stitch. If your first and last rows begin with a purl stitch you would work a grafting row that begins with a knit stitch.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Remember Radiant?

I have always been fascinated with self striping yarns, I love them and try to use them and design for them often. I particularly like how the stripes can help define a unique sweater construction for example when the knitting is worked in sections such as modular knitting or worked sideways. In the spring of 2010 I had a great idea for a sideways knit sweater using short rows to shape the yoke and sleeves that would showcase a striping yarn beautifully. This idea became the Radiant cardigan that I developed for Petite Purls Winter Issue that same year. Below you can see the first incarnation of the sweater knit in a much brighter shade of Mochi Plus and teeny tiny Abigail modeling it.
 When Petite Purls accepted the design based on this sample they requested that I reknit it in a subtler colorway that was more suitable to the color palette for their issue. I guess not everyone loves bright orange and pink all the time, it's a fact I am trying to live with. We retook the pictures with more of a Autumn theme and below are the ones that it was published with.

This sweater has been available on the Petite Purls site, and in the archives since then. I received a note from them late last year indicating that they were going to be moving onto new opportunities and that if I wanted to release the patterns I had published with them I could do so when I chose. Also that at some point in this new year they would be removing their site and it's archive. So Radiant is now available as a downloadable PDF from Ravelry and of course is still free for you! 

This has been one of the most popular patterns I have ever released and you can see a huge quantity of completed projects on Ravelry including upsized, downsized, variegated, and even handspun versions. So if you know a radiant little girl or boy in your life consider making them a sideways knit striped Radiant, and make sure you show me pictures too!