Sunday, February 23, 2014

Knitting 101 - Combining Slip Stitch and I-Cords

Garter edge left, I-cord edge right
See Original Post
You've been doing the Knitting 101 exercises.  It's been going well.  You should be proud of yourself.  Now, let's combine those skills!  You're ready to make an I-cord edging!  It's a pretty little edge for a variety of purposes. 

The photo at left comes from, from Jessa's wonderful post about i-cord edges. As you can see, it's a very different edge from the one on the left.  Like learning regular i-cords, it takes a little bit of practice to make it lay smoothly, but that's what swatching is for. Ready?

Cast on 16 stitches.  Knit across.
On all successive rows, Slip the first three stitches with yarn to the back of the work, then knit across.

As you knit along, you'll notice that the i-cord edges pull a little bit.  This is okay!  It will smooth out in blocking. The added tension is what allows it to curl evenly.

Knit this along for 16-20 rows, and by then you should like the results.  Look what you made!  This edge can be added to your knitting on anything with a plain edge.  As Jessa describes in her post, you'll need three stitches on each side to work the edge.  If the pattern needs the full width, add three stitches to the side or sides where you want to use the i-cord edge,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Knitting 101- Slip Stitches - the patterns

Slip Stitch Speckles
How's that slip stitch going?  I hope you're having a ball with it.  These are a few free patterns that include slip stitch as their primary design element.  So pretty!

The cloth at left is more practice, and much like one of the exercises in the first article.  It's nice in that it's fast to knit, and would make a great blanket square or washcloth.

Slip Rib Fingerless Gloves

The fingerless gloves at right are from Cascade Yarns.  The photo shows them made in Pure Alpaca, in a particularly lovely heathered colorway.  This pattern is knit in the round, so if you're not there yet, be patient.  If you already knit in the round, you'll love this project and the beautiful gloves.  The finishing and weaving in goes in a flash!

Texture Study 1

This last is a stunning scarf that has the wonderful benefit of being easy while looking intricate and difficult.  Like the turkey at Thanksgiving, it's a WOW piece that merely requires a little patience and attention.  It's from Flying Dog Fibers, and it suggests you find "300 yds of the softest sport weight yarn you can find" and have a go.  I agree!  One caveat - it will not look as textured the fuzzier the yarn you use is.  Low-halo softies like cashmere and baby alpaca will be stunners.  Mohair and other high-halo yarns will hide your wonderful stitch work.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Texture in your knitting is more than pretty in each of your projects.  Texture is a design element that is often used to create longer wear, and greater warmth.  It changes the thickness of the fabric, and depending on how the texture is formed, it can trap substantially more air.  As we all know, more trapped air means greater warmth.

Silk Knitting Yarn .Com Worsted Silk
So why are some patterns that aren't textured so warm?  It comes down to the yarn.  The more "halo" or fuzziness a yarn has, the more air it will trap.  The smoothest yarns will trap the least.  And of course, loosely twisted yarns will trap a bit more air than those that have a tighter twist.

The yarns above in the washcloths photo are organic, vegetable-dyed cottons.  They don't hold much air, so adding texture to the fabric is one quick way to add warmth to a garment made with them.  The texture in each cloth is different, with the ribbed texture being the warmest, and the diagonal cable ridges being the coolest.

When you're modifying a pattern, adding texture can make a significant difference in the warmth of the finished garment.  It will also change the amount of yarn the pattern requires.  A general rule of thumb is the more texture you add, the more yarn you'll need.  Adding a few bobbles will require less additional yarn than changing the entire pattern to intricate cables.  Added texture can require up to 40% more yarn!  Plan accordingly.

If you know a pattern will receive hard wear, you may choose to add texture to increase the strength of the fabric.  Palms of mittens can be made stronger by making them seed stitch or linen stitch instead of stockinette.  Heels and toes of socks can be made in eye of partridge or 1x1 rib to extend their wear.

Lastly, remember that most textured stitches knit up at a slightly different gauge, so in order to make sure your garment will be the right size in the end, swatch the textured stitch.  If there are more stitches per inch, you'll need to go up a size or two.  If there are fewer, go down a size.  Enjoy the warmth and beauty of added texture in your work!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Knitting 101 - February Slip-Stitch

Simple slip over stockinette from
The Walker Treasury 
Yes, slipping a stitch on purpose is a "design element".  No, not when you do it by accident.  It's the next step in knitting after you master that K/P thing.  And it's beautiful on its own or with other stitches!

Slipping a stitch is very easy, and it's a gateway to scads of interesting and pretty knitting.  Cables, lace, some button holes, trellis stitches and many more have you slip a stitch at some point.  Let's get started.

Here's how: Cast on 31 stitches.  The odd number is important here, so make sure.  Now knit across one row.  Purl across the next row.

On the next row - Knit 1 stitch.  Slip one stitch from the holding needle to the working needle by sticking the tip of the needle into the stitch as if to knit, but then don't knit the stitch.  Slip it onto the working needle.  This is called Slip 1 Knitwise.  It's abbreviated Sl1k.  K3.

There is another version of the slip stitch, and it's just as easy.  Stick the working needle into the stitch as if to purl, and slip it onto the working needle.  This is called Slip 1 Purlwise.   It's abbreviated Sl1p.  K3.

Complete the row by sl1k, k3, sl1p, to the last stitch.  K last stitch.

Purl the next row.

1. K1, (sl1k, k3, sl1p, k3) across, k1.
2. Purl across.

Repeat these 2 rows for at least 4 inches.  You can see there is a subtle but distinct difference between the two types of slipped stitches.  Pretty, eh?  You can finish the swatch to any size you like.  When a slip stitch pattern does not indicate weather to slip knitwise or purlwise, always slip knitwise.

We'll work some other basic slip stitch patterns this month.  You'll be delighted what interesting patterns you'll make!