Kara Gott Warner is the editor of Creative Knitting magazine. She's also a mom and a lover of anything having to do with two crazy sticks and some fabulous yarn. On this blog, Kara will share tips, tutorials, book reviews, contests and in-depth designer interviews, all dedicated to the craft of knitting.
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September 26, 2013
By Carri Hammett
I bet everyone reading this post has done the same thing. You go into your local yarn shop and fall in love with some gorgeous yarn. Deciding you can’t live without it, you buy the yarn on the spot having no idea what you will do with it. When reason kicks in the next day (or year or decade), you realize that you have no idea what you will do with the object of your instant attraction. What caused your heart to beat faster at the LYS is now creating a knot in your stomach as you admit you’re stuck in Knitter’s Block.
OK, maybe I’m being a little overly dramatic, but as a designer knitter’s block can be a big problem. How do I get my creative juices flowing? By using a stitch guide, which is a special kind of knitter’s reference book or online resource. Stitch guides are basically a pattern library giving instructions on how to make a wide variety of stitches. They are usually organized in sections for similar types of stitches, like texture (knit and purl), cable, lace, rib, color, slip stitch, etc. I have a bunch of different stitch guides in my personal knitting library, and for me they are an indispensible tool. For an example of any online stitch guide, click here.
About three years ago I bought two hanks of a gorgeous, hand-dyed Merino yarn (Madeline Tosh, Tosh DK). It was yarn love at first sight. When Kara asked me to write a guest blog, I decided it would be a perfect excuse to convert my yarn from shelf adornment into something I could wear — a generous-size scarf.
For me, the process of deciding what stitch to use in a project always involves making a swatch, oftentimes a large one. I normally begin by casting on enough stitches to make a 4-inch swatch. I’m guided by the stitch gauge and needle recommendation shown on the ball band. In this case the gauge is 20 to 22 stitches and the needle size is a U.S. Size 6 (4mm). For this project I used two different guides, A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker and The Harmony Guides: Lace & Eyelets edited by Erika Knight.
I don’t usually have a solid game plan when I make a design swatch like this. I like to set aside a few hours and just explore, trying one stitch pattern after another. I began my swatch by making a sample of Seeded Rib Check (page 7 in A Second Treasury).
When you use a stitch guide, the first thing you’ll notice is that the pattern for each stitch starts with something that looks like this:
Multiple of 4 sts plus 3
This means that the pattern is composed of 4 stitches that are repeated over and over as well as 3 edge stitches. Row 1 of the Seeded Rib Check is the following:
K3, *p1, k3; rep from * to end.
You can see that the 3 extra stitches begin the row, and that p1, k3 (the multiple of 4 stitches) is repeated over and over across the row to the end. I want my swatch to be 20 to 22 stitches wide (from the ball band) so I cast on 23 stitches (4 x 5 + 3).
I liked the way my first stitch accentuated the light and dark areas of the yarn but it produced a rather stiff fabric which would have been great for a sweater or vest but not drapey enough for a scarf. So, on to a different stitch. Depending on the multiple required I might need to add or subtract a few stitches before beginning the next stitch. As you can see from the swatch, I tried several different kinds of stitches: a slip stitch, another texture stitch and two different kinds of lace.
When I’m experimenting I keep in mind the following:
- Will the fabric lay flat? (Since I’m making a scarf I don’t want it to curl the way stockinette stitch would.)
- If the yarn is variegated, does the color change work well with the stitch?
- Does it look and feel like it will drape the way I want?
- Is it important for the fabric to look the same on both sides?
- How easy is the pattern? This is an important consideration for me since I plan to make this project strictly for pleasure and relaxation. Chances are I’ll be knitting in the evening, possibly with a glass of wine, and I need a simple pattern that I can remember easily from day to day.
After experimenting I decided to use a simple lace pattern call Little Shell Pattern (page 76 in Lace & Eyelets). For me, I like to go a step further and make a swatch of just the pattern I’ve chosen. I use this swatch to work out edge treatments, and I also block it to see what the finished measurement might be. My 23-stitch swatch (multiple of 7 sts + 2) is 5 inches wide and the 7-stitch repeat is about 1 1/2 inches wide. I want my scarf to be wide, so I’m going to add three more repeats for a total 44 stitches (6 x 7 + 2).
I’ll let you know in a few months what my finished scarf looks like. How about you? What is your favorite stitch for making a scarf?
Carri Hammett is a popular contributor to Annie’s. She is the author of More Than a Dozen Hats & Beanies available on AnniesCatalog.com. Carri is also the instructor of Knit Finishing Techniques, available on AnniesOnlineClasses.com, and has written several books which are available at your local yarn shop. Carri welcomes emails from her readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 23, 2013
Let’s make Mondays a little more magnificent and add the practice of mindfulness into the mix. Let’s be honest, sometimes the top of the week can be a downer, especially when the weekend flies by and then all of a sudden you’re back to the daily grind. The good new is– this feeling that you have is just a habit and a mindset that you can change. If you feel overwhelmed or blue at the beginning of your work week, you CAN do something about it!
5 Ways to Change Your Mindset Right Now:
#1 Breathe– just some simple inhaling and exhaling can be energizing.
#2 Move It!– lace up those sneakers and get moving! Don’t think about it too much, or you might bail. As soon as your blood starts pumping, it sends “happy juice” to your brain! Don’t talk yourself out of it because you think you don’t have enough time. Just 10-20 minutes will set you up for a fulfilling day ahead.
#3 Comfort Knitting– make yourself a cozy new cowl in the round. There’s something about circular knitting and small circumference projects that is so soothing. I personally find that the motion of knitting in a circle continuously is like a form of meditation because you’re not interrupted by having to turn your work.
#4 Create Positive Affirmations– make a list of quotes or thoughts that immediately inspire you. Write them on index cards so you can read them whenever you need a motivational boost. You may also find these Elizabeth Zimmermann quotes inspiring, and check out these top 100 motivational quotes of all-time.
Finding inspiration at every turn is easy if you look for it!
#5 Practice Gratitude– Make a list of everything you’re grateful for. As soon as you do this, I guarantee you’ll begin to realize how much abundance you have in your life!
Wishing you a marvelously mindful Monday!
September 18, 2013
I find the differences in knitting styles to be such a lively topic of discussion, so I wanted to keep the conversation going. I first opened up the subject of knitting styles in this post. I asked: Do you knit English or Continental, and when was the first time you heard that there were even other styles “out there” other than the one you use?
I was taught to knit Continental. I get that the mainstream way to learn is English-style, or in other words the “throwing” method. Knitters who use this version, hold the working yarn with their right hand and “throw it” instead of tensioning it in the left hand the way Continental knitters do.
The “controversy” exists over which method is right for a newbie knitter. I can of course only speak from my own experience as a Continental knitter, or as a “picker.” Like all new knitters, I found knitting awkward and unfamiliar at first, but once I got the hang of it, knitting became second nature. I also think that no matter what knitting style you use, it was because you simply learned what was handed down to you or what you were taught in your local yarn shop. Either way, we all get to the same exciting place!
September 17, 2013
This striking design, featured on the Winter 2013 issue of Creative Knitting, was designed by Andi Javori and was made with Alpaca Dance from the Deborah Norville Collection by Premier Yarns. This cowl can be worn two ways– it’s totally reversible, and even has different buttons on the flip-side. Pretty cool stuff.
In this issue, we’re also spicing things up with a short rows tutorial from expert designer and teacher Lily Chin. In her tutorial, Shaping Up With Short Rows, Lily shows you the basic concept of the short row “wedge.” Later this month, Lily’s Short Row Workshop will be available on AnniesOnlineClasses.com.
If knitting in circles is your cup of tea, then you’re in for a treat! Nicky Epstein designed a pullover exclusively for Creative Knitting magazine, made by joining a series of her “Corona” cabled-circles, from her book Knitting in Circles, available soon on Annie’s Catalog.
To get a glimpse of all 37 heavenly designs, check out more here.
Also, don’t miss our featured Knitalong for the Multidirectional Curved Scarf, also in this issue, and available for free for a limited time only. Get your free pattern here. Then, hop on the Ravelry Creative Knitting Fans page to meet our fans and let them know what you’re up to. See you there!
Multidirectional Curved Scarf, designed by Iris Schreier courtesy of TSC Artyarns
September 5, 2013
I can’t believe we’ve made it to Part 3 of this Learn-a-Stitch Workshop Series. I hope you’ve enjoy this as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you!
In this article I demystify lace and openwork knitting and break things down to some very simple basics. I discuss the differences and similarities and some of the common characteristics found in most lace patterns.
After you’re finished reading the article, practice on the free pattern provided below, my gift to you. This pattern is an excerpt from my Mix & Match Knit Sampler Class, an Annie’s online video class.
At the end of this lace & openwork lesson, I will provide you with some quick tips for ways you can assemble your squares. All you need is to do is apply some simple math and then you can dream up endless ways to use them.
To learn how to read a lace chart, check out this short, two-minute video:
The pattern below is one of the simplest of lace patterns because it involves just knit, purl and a few simple decreases and one increasing technique.
Let’s start off by taking a look at the chart and key for the pattern we will be working:
The key above indicates which stitches are used on a knitting chart in the form of symbols which I’ve explained below.
- Knit (K)- on the right side of the work, work one knit stitch each time you see an empty box.
- Purl (P)- each time you come to an empty box on the wrong-side, purl a stitch.
- Yarn Over (Yo)- this is indicated as a “O” on your chart. In this pattern, a yarn over is worked on the right-side as follows: bring the yarn to front and over top of right knitting needle, then work the next stitch as indicated.
- Knit 2 Together (K2tog)- This is a decrease technique that creates a new stitch that slants to the right. You would work this stitch on the right-side of the work. The symbol is shown as “/ ” on the chart below. Work this stitch as follows: Insert the tip of the right knitting needle through the next two stitches on the left knitting needle as if to knit. Knit these two stitches together as one.
- Purl 2 Together (P2tog)- You would work this stitch on the wrong-side. The symbol is the same as k2tog. Here’s how to work a p2tog: Insert the tip of the right knitting needle through the next two stitches on the left knitting needle as if to purl. Purl these two stitches together as one.
- Slip, Slip, Knit (Ssk)- This is another decrease that makes the resulting stitch slant to the left. The symbol looks like this: “\” on the chart. Here’s how you do it: Slip the next two stitches, one at a time, from the left knitting needle to the right knitting needle as if to knit. Insert the tip of the left knitting needle through both slipped stitches in front of the right knitting needle. Knit these two stitches together.
- Purl 2 Together Through the Back Loops (P2tog-tbl)- This is another decrease that is normally worked on the wrong-side. The symbol used is the same as an ssk. P2tog-tbl is similar to p2tog, but instead of going through the front of the loops, you go through the back of them. It’s a little tricky to wiggle your needle into those back loops, but once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy to do!
How to Work a Chart in Lace
The chart above is worked from right to left. the numbers on the right-hand side of the chart indicate right-side rows, and the numbers shown on the left-hand side of the chart are wrong-side rows.
Work the above Scroll Lace chart Rows 1–18 twice, then repeat Rows 1–9 once more.
Knit 4 rows. Bind off. You then have an 8 x 8 square!
Scroll Lace Stitch Square [click image to view larger]
Now that you understand how to work some simple squares, you can put these together in a variety of ways in order to make a simple tote, lap blanket or a rug. All you really need is to know some simple math. Or, if you want to get a little creative, lay your squares out in front of you and play with their placement until you find the combination you like best, then get busy sewing the squares together.
Making an Easy Lap Blanket
Let’s say you want to make a lap blanket that measures approximately 32 inches wide x 40 inches long. The square that you made in this lesson measures 8 x 8 inches. That means that you would need 4 squares across and 5 squares long.
As you can see from the diagram above, you need a total of 20 squares to make yourself a blanket. If you want to make it smaller, just reduce the number of squares you use. To make a tote, sew 4 of them together, add a strap and your all set!
This mitered tote is made using both 4 x 4 and 8 x 8 inch stitch squares.
The tote above is an example of how creative you can get with just a few simple squares. This pattern is available as a free download pattern when you purchase the Mix & Match Knit Sampler online class.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Workshop and found my three lessons useful. Let me know what you think and if you’d like to see more of this in the future. Please contact me by leaving a comment on this post, or send an email to: editor@CreativeKnittingMagazine.com
Now, here comes the fun part… I know you love a good contest, so here’s your chance to win my Mix & Match Knit Sampler online video class for free!
Contest Details (this contest has ended)
The contest starts September 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m. EST through September 10, 2013, 11:59 p.m. EST. Click here to enter for your chance to win.
(The entry link is not active until September 6th, at 12:01 a.m.)