Two-Colour Cast On

I used this Two-Colour Cast On to start my Lambton Panes shawl. I chose this cast on to mimic the slipped-stitch garter stripe edging that runs along the top edge of the shawl. After the first two stitches, it is simply a cable cast on, alternating colours. It’s a pretty simple cast on to perform, with pretty results.

What you’ll need: Needles required for the pattern, two colours of yarn.

Instructions:
First, with CC, make a slip knot and place it on the left needle tip.

step-1-slip-knot

Now insert the right needle tip into the slip knot knitwise, wrap with MC (leaving an end to weave in later), pull through and place on the left needle tip.

step-2-second-st
To make the third stitch, insert the right needle tip between the first and second stitches, wrap with CC, pull through and place on the left needle tip. Note: Always grab the next strand from behind the previous strand.

step-3-third-st

Make the subsequent stitches in this manner, inserting the needle between the first two stitches on the left needle tip, wrapping with alternating strands, and placing on the left needle tip. Do this until the required number of stitches have been cast on.

done-all-sts

And that’s all there is to it! You can use this to cast on as many as you need. It’s also a great one to use for the beginning of a two-colour brioche project, or perhaps some corrugated ribbing.

Tubular Cast On Tutorial (for working flat)

The Tubular Cast On is a magical little CO that is nice and stretchy, and blends oh so beautifully into 1×1 ribbing. It is great for starting top-down socks, bottom-up sleeves, hats, and anywhere you need a stretchy edge for ribbing.

finished look1

 

My upcoming release, Jodi’s Sweater, calls for the Tubular CO on the bottom of the back panel. I’ve added this photo tutorial to the back of the pattern for those that might need a little visual help, and I thought I’d share it with you too.

It starts off with scrap yarn and a regular CO (I use long tail) that will be pulled out later. This initial CO creates your knit stitches, and then you will increase by creating the purl stitches. A few rows of slipping and working alternate sts will magically lock everything into place and then you’ll be able to remove the scrap yarn without the whole thing unravelling. See, I said it was magic!

What you’ll need: Scrap yarn, needles required from the pattern for ribbing (or a even a size smaller).

You’ll also need to calculate the number of initial CO sts. Take the number of required sts for the pattern (must be an odd number), subtract 1, divide by 2 (this will give you an even number), and add 1 back on (odd number). For example, my sweater calls for casting on 149 sts, so I will initially CO 75 with my scrap yarn (149-1 = 148, 148 / 2 = 74, 74 + 1 = 75). This will be your initial CO number. If your pattern calls for an even number of sts you could initially CO half the required sts plus 1, then decrease that extra st at a later point.

Abbreviations: CO – Cast On;  K – knit;  M1PL – Make a left-leaning purl stitch by picking up the bar between the next stitch and the previous stitch from front to back, and purling it through the back loop;  RS – Right Side;  sl – slip stitch purlwise;  st(s) – stitch(es);  WS – Wrong Side;  wyif – with yarn in front.

Instructions:

With scrap yarn, and using your favourite cast on, CO your initial CO number.

waste yarn CO

Now switch to the pattern yarn.

Purl 1 row.

Purl 1st row

Increase Row (RS): {K1, M1PL} to last stitch, K1. [you will now have the number of sts called for in the pattern]

Increase Row

Row 3 (WS): {sl1 wyif, K1} to last stitch, sl1 wyif.

After 2 rows of slipping

Row 4 (RS): {K1, sl1 wyif} to last st, K1.

Row 5: Repeat Row 3.

And you’re done! Continue on to the pattern as written. The scrap yarn can be removed at any point after this and the stitches will not unravel.

Have fun with your new CO technique, it’s my favourite!

Pompom Tutorial

I’ve been working on updating the Pippa Toque pattern over the last few days. It was one of my first patterns so it left a bit to be desired, including being worked in a yarn that had been discontinued. I thought it might be a good idea to clean it up a bit, work up a new sample in a current yarn, and put it into my new pattern layout.

I also decided that I didn’t need to include the photo tutorial for the pompom in the pattern. Instead, I’m now going to put the tutorial up here so that it can be accessed by anyone. I can now include a link in my patterns to the tutorial. Easy peasy!

Making a pompom is also easy peasy. Check it out…

starting pompom

Pull a long strand of each colour of yarn from the balls and hold together, laying across your fingers.

winding pompom

Wind around your fingers 15 to 20 times. (If you’re only using one colour you’ll want to do more like 100 wraps).

tying pompom

Cut a 12″ length of yarn. Push one end between your middle two fingers, wrap around the strands at the center and tie very tightly.

uncut pompom

Do not cut off ends of this tie.

cutting pompom

With sharp scissors, cut through the center of the loops on either side of the tie.

untrimmed pompom

The resulting pompom will be a little messy and uneven.

finished pompom

Give it a good fluff and then, using your scissors, give it a trim to make it a nice round ball. Using the long ends of the strand tied around the middle of the pompom, tie the pompom tightly to the top of the hat. Weave in the ends.

Good stuff, eh?

Design Process Series, Installment Four – Math and Grading

That swatch that was knit way back in the second installment of the series is coming back to the fore again. Not only does it show you how your fabric will look and how the different elements will work together, it also contains two very valuable numbers. Those would be your stitch gauge and your row gauge, or how many stitches and rows, respectively, make up an inch of your blocked swatch. Most patterns will give the gauge per 4 inches (10 cm), and that is the best way to measure it for accuracy. But when determining the numbers for a pattern I always use a the per inch (2.5 cm) gauge.

Measure 4" [10 cm] lengthwise and count the number of rows in those 4" to get the row gauge. Measure 4" widthwise and count the number of stitches in the width to the the stitch gauge. Divide each of these values by 4 to get the number of rows/stitches per inch.
Measure 4″ [10 cm] lengthwise and count the number of rows in those 4″ to get the row gauge. Measure 4″ widthwise and count the number of stitches in the width to the the stitch gauge. Divide each of these values by 4 to get the number of rows/stitches per inch.
The next set of information needed are the measurements of the type of person or thing you are designing the piece for. If you’re just designing for one person or thing in particular, using their measurements is ideal. But, when writing a pattern for public consumption you are going to greatly increase your market if you include instructions for many different sizes. There are a number of different resources out there with this information but I tend to go with the Craft Yarn Council’s Standard Body Measurements/Sizing table. There is a wealth of information there for men’s, women’s and children’s standards.

Now that you’ve got your gauge and your standard sizes, it’s time to put that information together. Marnie Maclean has an incredible tutorial on how to use Excel to do all the calculations for your pattern. Excel is particularly helpful for the grading aspect of the calculations, or figuring out the numbers for all the sizes you are interested in.

I’d say that for me this is the most time-intensive part of the process, mostly because I don’t have a very streamlined spreadsheet yet. I maintain a template each for women’s, men’s and children’s sizes, and, in theory, I should just be able to plug in my gauge information and have it spit out the majority of my information. Unfortunately my templates aren’t really at that point yet, but I’m building on them all the time. Below is an example of my current template for women. I’d love some feedback on what I might be missing. Perhaps I’ll come back to this post down the road and show a much different (better) template, but for now this is what I’ve got.

Template for calculating values for women's garments. Adding the swatch values for row gauge and stitch gauge as well as the amount of desired ease will give values for the "Stitches and Rows" section. There are also extra worksheets for Charts, Spacing Formula, Yardage and Testing.
Template for calculating values for women’s garments. Adding the swatch values for row gauge and stitch gauge as well as the amount of desired ease will give values for the “Stitches and Rows” section. There are also extra worksheets for Charts, Spacing Formula, Yardage and Testing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading Installment Four, stay tuned for Installment Five – Pattern Writing.

What a Mis-Steek!

Okay, this happened a few weeks ago but I’ve been unable to talk about it until now. The sweater in question has been sitting in a basket in a corner since I threw it there and stormed off. I think I have cooled down enough and my head is fully level again so it is time to revisit the disaster that was my first foray into steeking.

Steeking is a technique used when knitting stranded colour-work in the round. Since it can be difficult to purl while knitting with two colours, many knitters prefer to work in the round when doing stranded colour work. But, working in the round means you are making a tube when sometimes you’d rather have a flat piece. In the case of my sweater, I wanted to make a cardigan so I needed it to be flat. In order to turn this tube into a flat piece you do something very scary… you cut your knitting right down the middle! Oh the horrors!

Before you cut your work you reinforce the column of stitches on either side of where you are about to cut. This is where the people are a little divided, and where I guess I didn’t do enough research. In theory, if you use a true Shetland wool (which is traditional for this style of knitting) then the catchy wool can grab onto itself and not unravel when cut, even if you don’t reinforce it. Other kinds of grabby wool will be fine with a crocheted reinforcement, the crochet chain running down either side of the steek “hugs” the yarn and holds everything in place after it is cut. Other wools that are more slippery, like merinos and superwash, really need to be reinforced by a couple of lines of sewing machine stitching running down either side of the steek.

I went wrong was in thinking that my project would be okay with a crochet reinforcement. It was not okay. I also should have taken the time to test it out on my swatch before taking the scissors to my sweater, but I did not. This disaster was avoidable, which makes it all that much more horrific. I’m going to chalk these mistakes up to lessons learned and move on.

Since this was for a pattern I was designing, and I had planned on adding a little picture tutorial on steeking (yes, I appreciate the ridiculousness of that), I have thorough photo documentation of the disaster as it unfolded. Warning: the following pictures portray unwanted unraveling, viewer discretion is advised.

First you crochet a chain through the column of stitches to one side of the steek.
Then do the same to the column on the other side of the steek.
Then you cut down the steek column between the two reinforced columns. Remember, you spent countless hours knitting the piece up to this point.
And then, if you’re yarn is too slippery, it will pull out of its crochet “hug” and unravel when you try to pick up stitches for the button band.

So the moral of the story is, always machine reinforce your steeks or you could end up with unwanted unraveling. I think I have a solution to the problem so stay tuned for updates on the steeking saga.