At the November 3rd meeting, the Yarn Club will welcome member Roxann Blazetich-Ozols who will lead us in a workshop to learn lucet braiding. The lucet is an ancient braiding tool dating back to Viking times, and we’re so fortunate to have an expert in this unusual technique right on hand. The workshop will teach participants the techniques required to produce a custom shawl fastener. Take a look at the beautiful examples Roxann has worked up:
The buttons can be inserted through the eyelets or lace openings of shawls to hold them together in an attractive drape around your shoulders.
Participants should bring:
The shawl they would like to create a fastener for (if applicable) and any leftover or coordinating yarn
1 short knitting needle
own lucet if available, but practice lucets will be on hand for all participants
People were in a very sharing mood this month, which is what Yarn Club is all about. So many beautiful finished projects, and even a fibre-y book recommendation! Here’s the roundup:
We had TWO finished Doodlers to exclaim over this month. Above, Liz used MadelineTosh Tosh Light in dirty panther, astrid grey and grasshopper, for her project. Her leather screw-in buttons are from Shall We Knit.
Erin brought in her Little Wave cardigan that she had ripped back and made custom measured changes to the shoulders to reduce the sweater’s bulk, based on our discussions in September about custom sizing.
When journalist Meg Lukens Noonan learned of an unthinkably expensive, entirely handcrafted overcoat that a fourth-generation tailor had made for one of his longtime clients, she set off on an adventure to understand its provenance, and from that impulse unspooled rich and colorful stories about its components, the centuries-old bespoke industry and its traditions, and the master craftsmen whose trade is an art form. – from Amazon.ca
I was well into my knitting obsession before I heard someone refer to ripping something out as “frogging.” I was even further into it when I realized that “rip-it, rip-it” wasn’t the only way to go back and fix something, and boy was that a revelation. And to be honest, a bit annoying – here I was learning all the myriad and impressively plastic ways I could manipulate my yarn and needles, and it never occurred to me that there were equally creative ways to get myself out of a jam without just undoing hours of work. The knitting time I could have saved if I’d known what I know now from the get-go…!
To that end, this month’s round up of techniques and tips focusses on fixing mistakes without necessarily ripping back. That said, there are of course situations you can’t get out of without that sad un-ravelling and rewinding of the yarn. But that can be made less painful as well. Because it’s part of the foundation of easing frustrated knitting, that’s where I’m going to start.
Tension, and why it matters
Having nice, relaxed, even tension isn’t just important for getting gauge, or just important to your overall knitting health. Even tension is also the key to avoiding dropped stitches and frogging more efficiently.
Why? Well, when your tension is tight, dropped stitches hop off your needle and immediately start to ladder down your knitting. If you learn to ease up, the stitches are no longer under so much pressure and when one happens to slip off a needle, instead of responding to the pull of the other surrounding stitches, the stitch will simply sit there happily in its row, waiting to be slipped back on the needle.
Davina from Sheep & Stitch created the above video to demonstrate some techniques to relax your tension.
Stitch Position – the next piece of the puzzle
Knowing which way the stitch needs to sit on your needle is key to getting any dropped stitches or ripped back knitting back on your needles without being twisted. Anastasia Wraight of For the Knit of It shows the “legs” of a knitted stitch here:
Just remember – right leg in front!
A stitch becomes twisted when the left leg is at the front of the needle. You can fix this by either slipping the stitch off and turning it around with the help of your needles, or by simply knitting or purling through the back loop to twist the stitch back to where it should be, without having to slip it off the needle.
Happy tension + happy stitch position = happy frogging
Relaxed tension and knowing which way to get the stitches straight on the needle revolutionizes your frogging. Suddenly you won’t be afraid to pull a whole row of stitches off the needle, rip it back to where you need to fix something, and calmly put the needle back through the stitches. No drops, no twists, no knitting-needle-based missiles. (Lace is the only exception to this guarantee.)
Frogging with a safety net
If the idea of pulling your needle right out still makes you want to curl up in a corner and rock, Theresa over at Knitty.com details a technique for inserting a needle as an afterthought lifeline.
Notice she picks up the RIGHT LEG of each stitch so that they will be sitting properly on the new needle when the above rows are removed.
Now let’s talk about those beautiful situations where you have no need of amphibious solutions…
Recovering dropped stitches
We start here not only because it’s a common problem, but also because the technique for recovering a dropped stitch provides the basis for going back and changing stitches after they’ve been knit, without frogging.
Fixing a dropped stitch with the help of a crochet stitch. For purl stitches, work like this from the BACK of the knitting.
Terry Kimbrough at How Stuff Works offers the above quick illustrated demo of how to fix a dropped stitch with a crochet hook.
Anastasia Wraight shares the following video about saving a drop stitch without a crochet hook, in garter stitch.
Changing stitches without frogging
This same idea, of working a stitch back up its “ladder” without ripping anything out, can be applied to changing stitches – wherein you drop a stitch deliberately to alter its appearance. For example, changing a knit stitch to a purl stitch, or, in stranded knitting, changing the colour of a stitch.
Staci, from Very Pink, demonstrates how to change a knit to a purl. This same technique can be used in stranded knitting to change the colour of a stitch using the carried yarn at the back of the knitting instead of the yarn originally used to make the stitch. The result is a bit tight, because the carry doesn’t have as much yarn to work with, but it blocks out in the end result.
Changing a whole section without frogging
Robin Melanson, for Twist Collective, demonstrates how to fix a mis-crossed cable by undoing only the cable section.
The concept of changing one stitch by dropping it down to the error and bringing it back up its ladder can and has been extrapolated to changing a whole set of stitches to fix, for example, a mis-crossed cable, or a lace motif. Twist Collective offers this excellent pictorial lesson on fixing a cable mishap.
Meanwhile, Laura Nelkin is the queen of saving lace mishaps:
Laura Nelkin uses a left-to-right pinning system to keep track of which yarn to re-knit first when undoing part of a lace motif
There is nothing more frustrating than spending hours (not to mention $$) on a custom-made sweater or other garment, and slipping it on to discover it doesn’t fit properly. Maybe it pulls across the bust, or the waist shaping is in the wrong spot for your curves. Maybe your gauge was off and the sweater is a half-foot longer than you intended. It can be heartbreaking.
If this is happening to you, isn’t it time to take steps? You are custom-making garments for yourself or for your family, why aren’t they custom-sized as well? Likely because taking that “sizing power” back from the pattern can be intimidating. What if you make a mistake? What if you make things worse? Well, it’s time to remind yourself that in the worse case scenario, you’ll just be ripping back – and this is true whether you make something ill-fitting from the pattern instructions, or from instructions that you’ve attempted finessed to your liking. It might not work at first, but the more you tinker, the better it will get, and the easier it will become next time.
On any new adventure, of course, the right tools are essential. So I’ve rounded up some resources I’ve found useful so that you can better arm yourself for success:
These are great resources for plus size knitters – but I would recommend any knitter take a look through for inspiration on sizing. I particularly love the authors’ technique of inserting sizing panels at the sides of sweaters to add necessary ease and shaping.
This is a full master-class from custom fit through complete garment design. It’s not a beginner’s tome but if you’re serious about taking your knitting to a new level it’s a great resource to have on the shelf.
Appliqué isn’t something you see a lot of in yarn-related crafts. It’s more common in crochet, but very difficult to track down in knitting, despite the interesting effects you can achieve.
Why is this? My theory is the sewing. It’s an interesting thing about knitters and sewing – even if they happen to be “sewists” as well, it seems as though most yarn-artists would rather the act of sewing never come near their projects. Consider the popularity of seamless projects. The knitting will stay on this side of the fibre fence, the sewing will stay on that side, and never the twain shall meet if at all possible.
Well, I am here to make a case for this Romeo-and-Juliet pairing, and the case is appliqué.
The main reason for my appliqué advocacy is this: it is a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with shaping and three-dimensional techniques on a small scale. Essentially it’s like swatching, but when you finish the swatch it has a purpose and a destination other than filling out the back of your swatch drawer/basket/box or protecting your table from your tea mug. Appliqué might just be the answer if you are among the many who think of swatching as a waste of time… (tsk, tsk, tsk).
Particularly if you’re a new knitter or crocheter, appliqué can be a way to up your game – it might be still the minor leagues in terms of techniques, but it’s a great stepping stone to the majors.
This is a guest post by Terri Rowan, a registered massage therapist in Guelph, who had the Yarn Club up on our feet and trying exercises at the April meeting that will strengthen our knitting/crocheting/spinning/weaving/felting muscles and keep us doing what we love for longer. She has kindly put together these notes and resources to accompany her talk. I know many people were interested to talk to Terri further about their own specific areas of concern: you can contact her through her website, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take it away Terri!
Thanks again for coming out to Yarn Club to listen to me talk about some of my favourite topics: posture, pain and why posture doesn’t matter as much as we think it does.
As promised here is a recap of the things I touched on and some resources for further reading as well as some links to demonstrations of some movements and exercises that can help keep your fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders moving well.
Posture is your ability to hold your body upright against gravity. Posture isn’t static and unmoving. Posture isn’t perfect and symmetrical. Todd Hargrove (who’s book A Guide to Better Movement I highly recommend) has written a great, easy to read blog post on this topic.
Sometimes posture does kind of, sort of matter. There are certainly more efficient positions or postures for certain tasks. So, when it comes to sitting down to a task such as knitting, spinning, crocheting or sewing there are certainly some positions that are by their nature more efficient. The goal is ease, not perfection.
There is no one perfect solution for everyone. A single perfect posture doesn’t exist. No one specific type of exercise, no one technique of manual therapy, no super food or supplement will bullet proof you. But here are some suggestions that will come pretty darn close.
MOVE and move frequently.
Commit yourself to getting up every 20-30 minutes. When you sit down to work on a project set a timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off: stand up, shake yourself around, shrug your shoulders, touch your toes. Have a dance party. Again, this is no guarantee but it is a pretty good insurance plan. You can use a timer on a watch, a stove or a microwave. If you are working at or close to a computer this website will let you run a timer in a separate browser tab.
If you use Google and simply search “Online Countdown” the first hit will be a timer you can use right from the search page!
Know your limits:
In the same way that you can’t expect to go to the gym tomorrow and lift 150 pounds if you haven’t been lifting heaving things for the past several years, you can’t sit down and expect to be able to knit, crochet or sew frequently if you haven’t consistently spent time on these activities in the past. Respect your limits and work at gradually pushing the edges of those limits rather than suddenly increasing it. This gives your muscles, tendons and joints time to adapt.
Place different demands on your body to encourage it to adapt and change to meet these demands.
Novel movement can mean a few things:
1)Regularly moving between different types of movements: knitting, crocheting, sewing etc.
2)Learning to do your craft in more than one way. For example with knitting you can learn continental vs English and vice versa. This can create different novel stresses to the fingers, hands, elbows and shoulders.
3)Taking time for truly novel movements of the body: Yoga, tha chi, Feldenkrais, dance. Movements that demand you use your body in ways you wouldn’t in the course of your day.
Mobility is a combination of the flexibility and the amount of control that you have over the movement of a joint. The better your mobility in a large range of movements the less likely you are to be injured.
Below are some links to videos that can help guide you through some movement and mobility work for different areas of the body:
Do not panic when you see this video! It is a video designed to warm up and prepare the hands and arms to do a handstand. I certainly don’t expect you to do a handstand, but the exercises are excellent for a variety of other tasks. If any of these movements cause you pain, skip them.
If you often feel stiff or restricted in your shoulders, this is an excellent exercise you can do every day. It should be done slowly and with attention. It looks easy, but if done properly it should feel like work and you might even break a sweat.
If you feel you have health and wellness gains to be made by improving your mobility anywhere in your body I would encourage you to contact Dr. Mark Kubert at Clear Path Chiropractic and enquire about Functional Range Conditioning (FRC). The shoulder video above is an example, but the principles can be applied to all joints in the body.
General novel movement:
Feldenkrais is a movement style that is dedicated to movement exploration. This is a gentle and mindful way to challenge your joints and muscles. These videos come from a series put out by a physiotherapist.
Living yoga has a yoga instructor who is a physiotherapist. She offers private yoga physiotherapy which can be billed to extended health plans.
Guelph also has Tai Chi classes. This slow, mindful movement is a great way to take your body through all of its’ ranges of movement. Classes are indoors during the winter and then they move outside for the summer.
If you have any other questions or are looking for some resources other than what I have provided here feel free to email me at email@example.com