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Monday, June 20, 2011

Seaweed Stitch

If you've been wondering about that Seaweed Stitch, here's what it looks like on the knit side:

The oblique knit blocks meander gently upwards and to the right.

On the purl side it looks like this:

Like its parent k4, p2 rib, Seaweed needs no border.  I like that it adds textural interest without the rigid bars of a plain rib, which to me can feel too businesslike, too masculine.


Cast on multiples of 6.
Row 1:  p4, k2, repeat
Row 3:  p3, k3, repeat
Row 5:  p2, k4, repeat
Row 7:  p1, (k4, p2) repeat, end p1
Row 9:  p1, (k3, p3) repeat, end p2
Row 11:  p1, (k2, p4) repeat, end p5
All even-numbered rows, k the knit, p the purl as they present themselves.

A creative knitter could develop riffs on this basic theme.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Evolution of a Design, Part 2

"In its knitted incarnation, the first yard or so draped nicely.  But it was somehow still too . . . hmmm, understated?  Not femme enough?  It still looked like something a guy would wear."

And then Lady Folderol wandered in.

Remember Lady Folderol, the yoke that morphs into a cascade of ruffles? 

She gave me trouble enough, that one, getting the ruffle right.  By the time I was sure of the numbers, I'd had to do yet another test knit.  This one was still on the needles, about three inches of it complete.

Lying next to Seaweed, she looked curiously refreshing, like foam on the wave's edge.  Frothy.  Girly.  So I ripped back to collar depth, added an anti-roll border of seed stitch, and bound off. 

Then it was, Where should she ride?  I tried all the usual tricks: Test it here, squint from a distance.  Try it there, walk in on it unawares.  You know the drill.

The scarf's edge seemed to work best, though then there was the obvious conundrum—all the way down an edge?  Both edges?  Well, I only had a collar's worth; might as well add that now, worry about more later, and adding it now as a collar, of course it had to be centered on an edge.  But that didn't look quite right.  Again, set it aside and ponder.  And then serendipity.

You see, when I set the scarf down this time, it fell into a fold occasioned by Seaweed's design.  A natural turn-back.  Which is as you see the finished item featured in yesterday's post.

Designs seldom spring full-blown.  Most of them emerge, evolve in baby steps:  hypothesis, test, revision, over and over.  Adding, redacting, building, ripping.

Until finally, if we're lucky, it feels just right.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Evolution of a Design

First came the leather jacket.  So supple, so soft, so comfortable:  I loved it.  But all by itself it was too . . . commando.  It needed femininizing.

A scarf would work, I thought.  Something in a brighter hue, but not plain.  Variegated, slightly, like the—aha!—hand-painted merino/tencel the Rumple had led me to.

Not plain, but not bordered.  Here was needed a stitch with some texture, a stitch that wouldn't roll at the edges or curl at the hem.  Ribbing?  Didn't feel right.

Broken ribbing, then?  Still too humpy-bumpy.

"Seaweed."  Seaweed was the thing.  Zoom in:  see how the broken ribbed blocks meander.  Nice.  Suitable for the subtle variegation.

In its knitted incarnation, the first yard or so draped nicely.  But it was somehow still too . . . hmmm, understated?  Not femme enough?  It still looked like something a guy would wear.  (I love ya, fellas.  I just don't want to look like you, ya know?)

Denouement coming.  Stay tuned.  (After all, this thing didn't get knitted in one sitting.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kitchener Tips

A few tips for working Kitchener:

1.  Hold your right-pointing knitting needles as close together as you can get them and snug your stitches up firmly as you go.  Otherwise, your Kitchener row will be too loose and when your join is finished you'll have to go back and coax all the gaping stitches into proper alignment with a tapestry needle.

If you can get your left index finger between the two parallel knitting needles, your Kitchener stitches will be too loose.

2.  If you must interrupt a Kitchener sequence (say, to answer the doorbell or the phone or a spouse or a child—you know what is most likely to break your concentration), don't leave off until both stitches on a particular needle, front or back, have been worked.  So, your front needle's "knit off, purl on" should be an indivisible package, as should your back needle's "purl off, knit on."  Keeping to that rule will make it much easier to pick up again at the right place.

3.  If you're working with a very soft yarn, consider threading your tapestry needle with an accompanying strand of thread.  This will help keep the really soft yarn from fraying to pieces.  Later, when the Kitchener row is finished, you can go back and pick the thread out.

Joining with Kitchener

Have you ever wished you could join the body (not the sides) of two knitted pieces seamlessly?  Invisible grafting, otherwise known as the Kitchener Stitch, will let you do just that.  What Kitchener actually does is insert a new row between the two pieces. So artfully is this new, needle-applied row contrived that none but an expert eye can detect the join.

Here’s how it’s done:  

Visualize two lengths of stockinette, still on the needles, presenting knit-side up.  These two pieces of stockinette contain exactly the same number of stitches.  Position these pieces purl-sides together, both needles pointing to the right, with the yarn coming off the right side of the piece in back. 

Cut the yarn, leaving a tail about three times as long as the sides to be joined.  Thread this yarn through a tapestry needle.

The Set-Up:

Now bring the yarn to the front knitting needle.  Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch as if to purl.  Leave this stitch on the front knitting needle.

Bring the yarn to the back needle.  Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch as if to knit.  Leave this stitch on the back knitting needle.

Working Kitchener for Knit:

Front knitting needle, first stitch, insert tapestry needle as if to knit.  Remove stitch from knitting needle.  Insert tapestry needle into next stitch as if to purl.  Leave stitch on needle. 

Yarn to back knitting needle.  First stitch, insert tapestry needle as if to purl.  Remove stitch from needle.  Insert tapestry needle into next stitch as if to knit.  Leave stitch on needle.

Continue in this manner until all stitches have been removed from both knitting needles.

Here’s a mantra to help keep you on track as you work:

Front:  knit off, purl on
Back:  purl off, knit on

It will help if you actually verbalize this.  “Knit off, purl on; purl off, knit on.”

Working Kitchener for Purl

To join two pieces of stockinette on the purl side, hold them with knit sides together and follow this mantra:  “Purl off, knit on; knit off, purl on.”  The set-up is opposite of the method for knit.  Beginning with the yarn coming off of the right side of the back needle, bring tapestry needle forward.  Insert tapestry needle into first stitch as if to knit.  Yarn to back needle.  Insert into first stitch as if to purl.  Then proceed with “knit off, purl on; purl off, knit on.”

If you're careful about how (and precisely where) you pick up your stitches, I've found that you can even add to a cast-on edge using Kitchener.

Remember the piece I referred to in my previous post ("A New Beginning")?  The lacy shell that I'd finished, blocked, and assembled before I discovered it just didn't look good at its 20" length?  The garment I decided to add 6" to, from the bottom up?

I used Kitchener in the knit mode to join a 6" extension to the bottom of that piece I'd begun from the bottom up.  Here's how it turned out:

Can you find the join?

Friday, June 3, 2011

A New Beginning

I think I mentioned the merino/bamboo shell, the one I ran out of merino for and had to unwind some merino plied with itself to get enough to finish the project?  The one that, even finished and blocked, just didn't hang right, stopping short of where it needed to be?  The one that I found some more merino for in a shop in Roseburg, guided by Rumplestiltskin?  That one.

Well, the new merino has been spun and plied with the bamboo, and a new six inches have been knitted, bottom up, in the same lace pattern as the rest of the shell, to the same proportions, continuing the slight A-line slant of the finished part of the garment, which itself was knitted bottom-up, from an edge cast on in long-tail.

So, visualize this:  a lacy, sleeveless, v-neck shell 20" long, and a lacy band 6" deep.  However are they going to be joined, invisibly, so they look like a 26" garment begun from the bottom up?

Kitchener.  (Invisible grafting.) 

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sweet Satisfaction

Within half an hour of my posting Lady Folderol to Ravelry, the pattern received these comments:

Anomaleah said, "How pretty!"
My response:  "Thank you. Getting the ruffle right was quite a challenge. Hubbest said it’s the longest he’s seen me struggle with one design. But I wore it out to dinner last night and his admiring reaction was oh-so-worth it!"
Seven said, "Love this. So elegant! I know someone who would just love it for Christmas!"

Today Bassetslave said, "Looks absolutely elegant!  It would make a great holiday piece, gift or otherwise."

My response to Seven:  "Yes, this would make a wonderful gift, one they couldn’t find in a store, one that conveyed your love--and your intelligence--through your handwork. Interesting you should use the word “elegant,” because I almost named the piece Lady Elegance."

And to Bassetslave:  "Thank you, bassetslave. Lady Folderol does like to go to parties and out to dinner! Bamboo works nicely because of the subtle, silky sheen. The pattern uses a grid concept for the yoke and ruffles, to avoid those long lines of text and establish a visual for the areas of increase. I recommend placing stitch markers at critical junctures, to keep track of the increases and help diagnose any errors."

And then Anomaleah responded with a comment that I'm dismayed to say I can't find now on Ravelry.  I'd love to post it here and claim bragging rights.  Her words were to the effect of, "Yes, I was thinking how difficult it would be to get the ruffle to hang right.  You are to be congratulated!"

See my big, beaming, smug smile?