Attaching Edgings – Knit & Crochet

(The Maryborough Vest pictured above is an example of a pattern that attaches edging as-you-go)

Many knitting books devoted to edgings still advise that you’ll need to seam the edging to your project.  Unless they’re referring to attaching knit or crocheted edging to a woven commercial fabric, this just isn’t true.  This misconception about how to you must attach edgings is a particular pet-peeve of mine; after all, crocheters would scoff at the idea of sewing an edging to an afghan.  When it comes to edging, knitters should take a page from the crocheter’s book instead (and if you’re a knitter, edging is a great place to start adding a few crochet skills to your arsenal!)

In that vein, I’ll start with the versatile crochet edge.  Not just for crochet, you can apply crochet to the edge of any fabric, knit or woven.  When I use it with knitting, I find adding a foundation row of single crochet all the way around the edge of my project provides a good base for then creating more intricate designs.

Here’s how:

 

Now to knit edgings: there are two types.  Type 1 is worked lengthways (where the length refers to the work on the edging, i.e. the edging is worked back and forth to form a long strip which needs to be attached to the project in some way).  This is the type of knit edging that books often dismiss as needing seaming. However, you can knit Lengthways Knit Edging on to your project in a couple of different ways.

When you already have live stitches on your needles from your project, you can attach edging like this (also called an applied border, thanks Ms. Zimmerman!):

Similarly, you can pick up stitches along a cast-on or bound-off edge to create live stitches that can then be used in the above technique.

My favourite technique, and IMO the most versatile, as it allows you to work on very large pieces of knitting without picking up all the necessary stitches before you start (read: no enormously long circulars), is to attach the border by picking up stitches along the edge of your project as you go.  This one isn’t as easy to find a video for, so I made my own (complete with mid-stream fast-motion to make me the fastest knitter in the world):

Because knit stitches are wide and short, when working along a cast-on or bound-off edge I am only picking up and attaching stitches on the right side row, so that the wrong side can fill in the extra space. When I come to the last stitch in my edging RS row, I slip it, pick up a stitch from the edge of the swatch, and knit the two stitches together through the back loop.  This way the edging stitch lies on top of the swatch stitch.

Once you are finished one edge, you have to turn a corner to keep going:

In order to turn a corner so that the knitting doesn’t buckle as it turns, I use a series of little short rows to make the corner neat and pointed, not unlike one side of a short-row sock heel.

And finally, the side-edge:

Since I’m working on a side edge, I’m picking up and attaching a stitch from the swatch to every row of the edging, so that the rows of edging match exactly to the rows of the swatch. The last stitch from the RS row is attached, and the first stitch from the WS row is attached. I’m using an SSK to attach the RS row, and a P2tog to attach the WS row, but as long as you are consistent you can use whatever decrease stitch you like and it will look neat and uniform.

Knit edging Type 2 are edgings that are worked widthways (so worked along the whole required width of the edging).  2A, as noted above, is edging that would begin a project, such as a bottom ruffle on a sleeve or hem.  2B is edging worked from it’s top edge “down” which is confusing but means you could end a project with that, as it ends with a bind-off – for example, edgings used to finish circular or semi-circular shawls. Most sweater necklines fall under this 2B category as well.

Obviously these types of edging are very easy to use without seaming, however if applying them to a side-edge, all the stitches required to work a number of repeats of the edging pattern would have to be picked up first.

A few other things you might find inspiring:

That’s it for a start! Knitting on the edge…

Have fun 🙂

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June Show & Share

Alfie brought in multiple bags of projects to share in June! Here are just a few we snapped pictures of:

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Oceanwind Knits – Resources for Knit Design

At our May meeting, Yarn Club enjoyed a great discussion with Lori Law of Oceanwind Knits about the ins & outs of knitwear design and pattern publication.  Here are the resources Lori shared with us after her talk:

Stitch pattern ‘dictionaries’ are the backbone of knitting design.

(One of my first and still favourites – Alexis)

Books I use regularly :

  • Ann Budd’s “Handy Books”
  • Sock books by Cookie A have very good technical information for building sock designs.

  • Shirley Paden’s “Knitwear Design Workshop” (although I have yet to actually publish a sweater pattern, I will one day.  :))

Ravelry has some designer group forums which are always interesting to follow.

I keep multiple spreadsheets of general sizing information which I can transfer into designs.  (I do not know where precisely I retrieved all of this sizing from, I gathered it via Google over many years).

Craft Yarn Council website.

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May Yarn Club Show & Share

So many great projects and patterns this month!

Liz wore her Sunshine Coast sweater by Heidi Kirrmaier, made with Lang Seta Tweed.

Valerie showed off her finished and blocked Croeso, Lace & Cable Shawlette by Camille Coizy Delahaie, made with Viking of Norway Alpaca Silk.

Erin brought in her Cascades pullover by Michele Wang, made with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter

Karen showed her All About That Brioche shawl by Lisa Hannes, made with Paca Peds – Alpaca, Superwash Wool & Nylon.

Terri brought in her tiny Raindrops pullover by Tin Can Knits for a new baby, mad with Knit Picks Kettle Dyed Sock Yarn

Marilyn shared her Stripe It Away test knit for Meiju K-P, made with Ancient Arts & MadelineTosh Light.

Gillian wore her Omena vest by Jill Zielinski, made with Plucky Scholar.

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The Baby Sock Reading Challenge & How to “Read” Your Knitting

If you’re just starting out, or don’t know what I mean by “reading” your knitting, let me first direct you to these two excellent series of blog posts:

“Reading” Your Knitting (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Talena Winters

The Secret to Becoming a Great Knitter! (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Felicia of the Craft Sessions

These are great starting points for mastering this skill.  The best way to learn to “read” the stitches you are or have knitting, however, is practice.  Keen observation of what the yarn is doing in your hands as you complete each knitted stitch, decrease, increase, yarn over, cable; what these stitches look like as you progress (what do they look like right after they’ve been made? what do they look like a few rows down?); these are the puzzle pieces that will make this skill come together for you.

I’ve given a lot of thought to how I would teach this in a workshop situation, and although Yarn Club meetings aren’t workshop-length, I thought I might try out my idea amongst our friendly and open minded group.

The Baby Sock Reading Challenge

The idea is simple enough: You make one baby sock without instructions, and without taking notes.  Then you make the matching sock by looking at the first and deciphering what you did from its stitches.  If they don’t end up matching exactly, well, they’re just baby socks and you haven’t wasted much time trying.  And maybe you’ve learned something (such as how to accurately count rows, or how to make a sock without a pattern, or that you CAN read knitting and didn’t realize it, or that you absolutely HATE knitting without precise instructions…).  Obviously my hope is that you learn to recognize that reading knitting in this way is a possibility, and one that can take your knitting to the next level, with time.

To illustrate my challenge, I made a baby sock, and went through how I would go about reading it to make the second.  I also wrote out my Patternless Sock Guidelines, to help start you off.  You’ll find many other great sock “recipes” on Ravelry as well, such as this one from Susan B. Anderson.

Knowing the cuff rib repeat makes counting the stitches easy.  Mark your starting point with a needle (or in my case a thumb – remember, lazy!) and count around by twos for a [K1, P1] rib as here.

I use a very low profile cast-on for my sock cuffs.  The Double Twist Loop Cast-On is quick and stretchy, and doesn’t interfere with row counting.  You can see the red outlining the cast-on in the image above. Count the rows up from your cast-on edge by counting the little Vs that occur above the cast-on and before the beginning of the stitch pattern.

If you choose a stitch pattern with an easy repeat (I used Double Moss Stitch) you can count the leg rows in number of pattern repeats, rather than individual rows, which can make things faster, particularly if you’re working on an adult-size sock.

Slip-stitch patterns can be difficult to learn to recognize, but the trick is to watch for the larger stitches that span the height of two smaller stitches.  These elongated stitches are the ones that have been slipped. In the Eye of Partridge slip stitch pattern, the elongated stitches appear in a checkered pattern with the groups of two smaller stitches in between.

Count the heel flap stitches in the same way you would the cuff stitches – in the case of my Double Moss Stitch, by twos. Alternately you can count the slipped-stitch pattern by single stitches and add the selvage stitches on each side to the count.

I use two or three garter selvage stitches on each side of my heel flaps.  Not only does this make stitches easier to pick up along the edge, it also makes it easier to count how many rows I have worked in the heel flap.

You can see the decreases stitches overlapping in the turned heel which is your clue to it being a short-row decrease heel (as opposed to a straight short-row heel, which would have visible wrapped stitches).

The number of stitches between where decreases begin is your heel’s “turning point.” See my sock guidelines for a heel turning point explanation.

If you make an identical heel flap to your first sock, chances are you’ll be picking up exactly the same number of gusset stitches anyway.  You can count them easily enough, but know that if you have an extra stitch in there, it’s not going to make much of a difference since you’ll be decreasing to the original number of stitches anyway, and if it seems like you NEED that extra stitch in there this time (to avoid a hole for example) it will probably look better with the stitch than without it – stitch counts be d***ed.

You can identify a decrease pattern by looking for the decrease stitches (the ones leaning over a little extra) and also counting the rows in between those dec sts.  Above the dec sts are identified by the red dots, and you can see there’s a regular stitch between them as the rows progress.  So, the decreases are being worked ever other row.

I count the foot length in single rows from the final gusset decrease to the first toe decrease because they line up, and because that final gusset decrease might happen halfway through a pattern repeat on the instep, which makes it more difficult to count.

In order to make a nice round flat toe, the decrease pattern needs to be a little more complicated than the gussett decrease to achieve the gently increasing curve.  Just as with the gusset decreases though, you simply identify those extra-leany stitches, and count the resting rounds between them.  I think of them expressed like this: D, 2, D, 1, D, D, D – wherein the D stands for a decrease row, and the numbers stand for the number of resting rounds between them.

Counting the sts grafted at the tip gives you half the final stitch count.  For instance, if there are 5 grafted stitches forming the toe tip, you know that there were 5 x 2 sts = 10 sts total to form that graft, and therefore 10 sts left on the needles when the knitting stopped.

Et voilà! Now I just need to finish the other one…

Happy reading!

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Alexis’s Patternless Sock Guidelines (for the Baby Sock Reading Challenge)

This is how I make most of my socks: top down, heel-flap, decrease short-row heel, flat round toe – no matter the gauge, needle size or yarn weight.  I use the method described below to make the first sock, then I use the finished first sock as a template to make the second.  In all honesty, this method arose from utter laziness.  I’d much rather crack on with my knitting than stop and take notes (ahem, though of course, not while I’m designing for pattern writing).  So instead of writing anything down, I just look back at the first sock and read what I’ve done from there.

It wasn’t always perfect.  Sometimes my unwillingness to take notes during my leisure knitting resulted in rows ripped back and redone.  But eventually, what was born from laziness has made me a stronger knitter.  It was not too long after I started doing this that I realized I could look at almost any knitted thing and write down instructions for making it.  It was a turning point in how I knit, and I always try to encourage others to seek a similar freedom.  Socks are a great way to do this because you have to make two, and they can be made quickly.  To read more about how I decipher a sock, see the Baby Sock Reading Challenge.

Patternless Sock Guidelines

Gauge:

Using your chosen needle size & yarn weight, CO about 20 sts, and work about 6 – 8 rows in a rib pattern or St st.  When this is done, pull the knitting off the needle and measure your stitch gauge.  Use this measurement to decide how many stitches to cast on, remembering that you’ll want to make your sock with a certain amount of negative ease.

My Gauges: For the kid’s sock in the Baby Sock Reading Challenge, I used 3.5 mm needles, DK weight yarn, and 30 sts. For an adult women’s sock, I usually CO about 60 sts with sock weight yarn and 2.5 mm needles.  For a man’s I increase this to about 66 sts (I like my stitches to be divisible by 2 and 3 if possible).

Cuff:

Pick a rib pattern for the cuff (if you swatched in rib, might as well use that one!), CO your sts, and work until you’ve got the length of cuff you like. Note: take for granted that you should be working in complete rounds.

Leg:

Pick a main stitch pattern for your sock and switch from rib to the new pattern. Work until you are happy with the length of the leg.

My Stitch Pattern: For the kid’s sock I used a Double Moss stitch pattern.

Rnds 1 & 2: [K1, P1], rep to end.

Rnds 3 & 4: [P1, K1], rep to end.

Note: Using a stitch pattern with a set number of rnds can make it easier to count the rows in the leg when you are reading the first sock to make the second.

Heel Flap:

Knit across about half the stitches to form the heel flap.  Heel flap is worked flat.  Choose a slip stitch pattern for the heel, and include 2 or 3 garter stitch selvage stitches on each side.  Work heel flap rows back and forth until the heel flap is about square, ending with a WS row.

My Heel Flaps: I usually use either an “Eye of Partridge” or a plain slip stitch ridged pattern for the heel flap.

Heel flap A (Eye of Partridge)

Rows 1 & 3 (WS): K2 (selvage), P to last 2 sts, K2 (selvage).

Row 2 (RS): K2 (selvage), [Sl 1 pwise, K1], rep to last 2 sts (fits evenly or unevenly depending on # of sts), K2 (selvage)

Row 4 (RS): K2 (selvage), [K1, Sl1 pwise], rep to last 2 sts (evenly or unevenly), K2 (selvage)

Heel flap B (simple slip stitch ridges)

WS: K2 (selvage), P to last 2 sts, K2 (selvage).

RS: K2 (selvage), [Sl 1 pwise, K1], rep to last 2 sts (fits evenly or unevenly depending on # of sts), K2 (selvage)

Turning the Heel:

For a decrease short-row heel turn, find the middle of your heel stitches (either a stitch, or a space between 2 sts), and pick a number of sts on each side to be your heel’s “turning point”.  One stitch will make the angle of turn too acute, and vice versa for too many stitches. Aim for 1/2 – 1 inch width.

Knit across to the far left of your turning point (all turning point sts worked), SSK, K1, TURN.

Next short-row (WS): Sl 1 pwise, purl to far left of turning point (all turning point sts worked), P2tog, P1 turn.

Dec Short-row 1 (RS): Sl 1 pwise, K to slipped st, SSK, K1, TURN.

Dec Short-row 2 (WS): Sl1 pwise, P to slipped st, P2tog, P1, TURN.

Continue these 2 dec short-rows until you’ve worked the last possible RS short-row (if you have a final st that still needs to be dec’d on the WS, you can do that when picking up around the heel flap).

Picking Up Heel Stitches

Pick up and knit stitches along the left selvage edge of the heel flap using the purl bumps from the selvage sts.  If there is too much of a gap between the last purl bump and the beginning of the instep sts, pick up a st or two in between to fill in any potential hole.

Work across instep sts in patt.

Repeat the process for the right selvage edge, remembering about the gap between instep sts and first purl bump.

Rearrange sts on needle if req’d.

Note: At this point in the sock, I generally arrange my stitches on 3 needles – Needle 1 is mid-heel to just before instep, Needle 2 is instep sts, Needle 3 is the other half of heel sts.  I count the mid-heel as the beginning of my round until I reach the toe decreases.

Gusset Decreases

Evenly decrease the extra heel stitches on each side of the instep stitches with decrease ratio of your choice.  Continue decreases until you’ve reached your original stitch count.

My Gusset Decreases: I always decrease every other row, making a nice 45° angle. But you may want to vary this with a steeper incline (dec every row) or a sloping shape (dec every row for first 3 rows, then every other row, then every 3rd row, for example).

Foot

Continue working the foot evenly, keeping instep sts in patt, and sole sts in St st, until the sock is long enough (minus the toe length – about 1 1/2”).  Don’t be afraid to try it on the intended foot with the needles still in it!

Toe Decreases

Decide on a decrease scheme for your toe.  For a flat, rounded toe, you’ll want to gradually increase the rate of dec rows.

My Toe Decreases:  For the kid’s sock I used the following decrease scheme (where D is the decrease round and the numbers represent the # of rnds between dec rnds) –

D, 2, D, 1, D, 1, D, D, D. Leaving 10 sts for grafting.

For adult socks knit with sock weight yarn, my decrease scheme usually looks like this –

D, 3, D, 2, D, 2, D, 1, D, 1, D, 1, D, D, D… until I like the number of stitches left for grafting.  Usually between 16 and 20.

Grafting & Finishing

Use Kitchener Stitch to graft remaining stitches together.  Weave in ends.  Block if you feel like it (I usually don’t bother unless the socks are a gift and I want them to look their best).

Second Sock

Keep the first sock with you when working on the second, and refer to it as a pattern for creating its twin.

See the Baby Sock Reading Challenge for tips on how to use the first sock as a template.

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April Yarn Club Show & Share

Here are most of the lovely and plentiful projects & patterns shared at the April meeting.  If you missed sending in your pictures, and it’s not available on Ravelry, feel free to email me and I will be happy to update!

Marilyn brought in her Ua Shawl test knit in Tosh Merino Light

Marilyn also showed off her colourful Talulah Shawl using a variety of fingering weight yarn including Twinkle Toes by Dye Version

Liz wore her Enchanted Mesa sweater made with The Black Lamb Merino DK

Valerie brought in her Chiara Snood made with Misti Alpaca Handpainted Lace

Laura wore her Aftur sweater made with Lettlopi

Laura also showed her Bousta Beanie, made with her own Twin Oaks Farm DK, and Jamieson & Smith

Kris brought in her extremely colourful Rustic Lodge Christmas stocking made in vibrant shades of Alafoss Lopi.

Victoria brought in her Rockefeller shawl made with Socks that Rock Medium Weight.

Roxann brought in her oval shawlette made by lucet braiding with a chunky alpaca/wool blend.

Enjoy everyone!

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Colour Resources from Katherine Matthews of Purl Diving

In April, Yarn Club welcomed one of its members, Katherine Matthews, the artist and designer behind Purl Diving, the Guelph-based and -inspired yarn line.

For the meeting, Katherine designed and dyed a custom colourway based on Emily Carr’s painting Big Raven, based on a Yarn Club member vote of Canadian paintings.

Big Raven by Emily Carr (1931)

To achieve the colourway that she was satisfied with, Katherine went through many iterations, fine tuning her colours with each new batch:

During her talk, Katherine shared some great online resources for finding your own colour inspirations, and becoming more adept at interpreting and working with colour:

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Understanding Colour Part 2: Perception and influence

In Part 1 I gave a brief overview and resources dealing with colour theory and how to use it effectively in your yarn craft.

When I think about colour, however, the theory of the choices we make only accounts for half of the colour equation.  I believe that, in order to get a fuller picture of colour and how it motivates us, we should also consider how we perceive colour, physically, as well as emotionally and culturally.  Regardless of what the theory tells us is “right” in terms of schemes and contrast balance, colour choice is ultimately subject to an individual’s preferences, and that can have a myriad of influences, beginning with how colour is physically processed by our eyes.

Human eyes contain three types of cone photoreceptors located centrally on the retina in an area called the fovea.  Each cone type is sensitive to different wavelengths of light (i.e. different colours).  The cone cells transduce the light information from our environment into electrical signals which are transmitted to the visual cortex via the optic nerve.  Colour blindness occurs when certain types of cone cells are inactive or missing in the eye. Interestingly, the spread of cone cells in the eye is not even amongst the different types.  The vast majority – 64% – of cones respond most strongly to red light, 33% to green, and 3% to blue.  Also interesting is that this sensitivity corresponds to the order in which most languages have developed words to describe different colours, with red coming first, green following, and blue usually coming last.

Radiolab has a fascinating podcast about colour perception that deals further with cone cells in humans (could you be a tetrachromat?), as well as other species; the development of colour perception in ancient cultures; and why the colour blue is so elusive. (However, be forearmed with a grain of salt: the study they referenced about the Himba tribe of Namibia turns out to be something made up for a BBC documentary.)

So that’s how we see colour physically, but it doesn’t account for how we react to colour personally.  Why do some colours jump out at us more readily than others? How do we arrive at a “favourite” colour, and further, can we direct our colour preferences if we understand them better?

Some other factors to consider:

  • Culture & society – different cultures attach different significance to colours.  Think about pink and blue when a baby is expected. Does a bride wear white, or does she wear red? What does that flashing yellow light mean?
  • Environment – what colours do you see around you most often? In different climates, different colours will be predominant in nature. Blue happens extremely rarely in nature (with the exception of the sky).  In cities, what colours are at play in the buildings, the signs and billboards, the vehicles and roadways?
  • Occupation – people engaged in creative occupations are more likely to be in tune with their colour “sense” than others.  Think artists and designers: those for whom colour choice and awareness is a daily consideration.
  • Experience – our life experience also informs our colour preferences. Anecdotally, as a child a friend told me that pink was too girly, and as a result I refused to wear it in any form until I was in my 20s. When I finally made peace with the colour, I had so much catching up to do that I wore pink for my own wedding.

Now that we have a fuller picture of both sides of the colour experience, here are some ideas for expanding your colour language.  Try one or two, and observe how you respond to the visual:

  • Combine your favourite colour with its complementary from the colour wheel
  • Look through your yarn stash and find the missing colour, then go after it (an excellent yarn acquisition excuse)
  • Plan your next project in colours that oppose those you are currently using
  • Alter the shade or tint of the colour you gravitate towards most
  • Keep a colour journal of items that inspire you & use them to identify and create colour schemes (i.e. project mood boards – for great examples of mood boards see the Twist Collective)
  • Check your colour scheme for contrast by creating a grayscale photo
  • If a colour scheme seems too intense, add a neutral to balance

Happy exploring!

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Understanding Colour Part 1: Theory with yarn-related resources

Colour choice is incredibly important to every fibre crafter I know. When you are working from a pattern, for example, your colour choice is the central most important element of your interpretation of the work.  Will you replicate the scheme exactly? Or choose your own colour adventure?

As yarn-users, unless we are lucky enough to have the skills to dye our own, or know someone who can, we are limited to the palette set out by yarn manufacturers.  It’s a different reality from that enjoyed by painters, and other artists with the freedom to create their own unique colours by mixing.

That said, colour theory still has a place in what we do. Even though our colours are pre-determined, how we combine them is still something that we can practice – because like anything else it does get easier the more you work at it.

This month, I’ve delved into colour theory on one hand, and the perception of colour on the other hand (covered in Part 2), in the hopes of inspiring you to deepen your understanding of colour and its use.

Colour theory always begins here, with the colour wheel:

The basic colour wheel combines Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colours. Primary colours = Red, Blue, Yellow. Secondary colours are the combinations of Primaries = Violet, Green, Orange.  Tertiary colours are the combinations of Primaries and Secondaries where they meet on the wheel = Yellow-Green, Blue-Green, Blue-Violet, Red-Violet, Red-Orange, Yellow-Orange.

For more in-depth colour wheel info, as well as great examples of colour theory expressed in yarn, see Lacie Lynnae’s The Ultimate Guide to Colour Theory for Sweater Knitters Part 1: The Colour Wheel.

The colour wheel is the basis for all colour possibilities, and combinations.  By varying, the tint (amount of white in a colour) or shade (amount of black) and the proportions of different hues (eg. red and blue) contained in a colour, you can arrive at any colour imaginable.  By understanding how colours interact with each other on the wheel, how they relate in terms of contrast and similarity (i.e. how much they overlap in hue content – for example, red and purple both contain red, and so are related), you can create striking and well-balanced colour schemes.

Knowing some standard colour schemes will set you up with the tools for manipulating them successfully.

Monochromatic: 

  • tints and shades of the same hue
  • simple and easy to create.

Analogous: 

  • colours adjacent to each other on the colour wheel.
  • sharing a common component ensures harmony.

Complementary: 

  • using hues that are directly opposite across colour wheel
  • high contrast
  • each makes the other hue look more intense
  • balance the scheme by using different values (tints and shades) to offset high contrast

 

 

 

 

 

Split Complementary: 

  • colour + the colours adjacent to its complement
  • maintains intense contrast
  • balance with combination of shades & tints

(Kathy K. Wylie Quilts)

Triadic: 

  • uses any three hues equidistant from each other on the colour wheel
  • quite vibrant
  • balance contrast for success

There are even further colour scheme formulas that you can use to ensure that your colour choices are cooperating, but these are a great start.  If you’re struggling with a colour combinations, it helps to fall back on techniques that are proven to work.  If you’re still having trouble within a prescribed scheme, remember to try varying the value (shade) or saturation (tint) of the colours you’ve chosen, to either add or reduce contrast within the scheme.  This can help to calm very loud schemes, or increase the visual interest in schemes where the colours have values that are too similar for good contrast.

Further reading:

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