Visit us in the quaint hamlet of Myrtle Station, ON at: 9585 Baldwin St. N. (905)655-4858
(17.8km north of 401 exit 410. Look for the green house with the red roof a few doors north of the Myrtle Station railroad tracks)

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Mighty Tension Swatch

For me, the swatch is a wonderful chance to preview my vision, into a material fact. Years ago, when the trainers from Japan came to us, they brought generous, inspiring, splendid swatches, the size of a sweater back or front. The samples were made from beautiful silks, cottons, merinos and kid mohair. What a treat, how delightful, let's get knitting! Sampling by hand reminds me too, of pre-pinterest mood board times, with added dimensions of experiencing the patterns and getting acquainted with texture on a deeper level. The knowledge gained by experience is especially helpful to me when the time comes to marry shaping to stitch pattern, as well as clarifying fit expectations.
In this DK example there are twice as many stitches as the amount the ball band suggests for 4 inches, and enough rows to form a square, framing the swatch with garter stitch.
Yarn overs mark the needle size just after the first garter ridge and 2 rows before casting off. In this example I used a 3.75, so I made 3 holes knit 3 stitches and 3 more holes on the right hand side.
I block the swatch, wash it and dry it, as if it were the sweater. Washing evens out the knitting, plus checking for shrinkage and colourfastness. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish individual stitches, so I place a pin every inch of stitches to 4 inches.
In stocking stitch, the purl side of stocking stitch looks more horizontal to me, so I use it to count the rows. Once I know my gauge, I usually adjust the pattern, because I do enjoy particular needle sizes and often use a similar, but different yarn than that suggested by the pattern.
It is easier to count the stitches and rows if there is a pattern for example in this small check stitch I am using for the modular jacket.  Another strategy could be to add a stripe in a contrasting colour prior to the beginning and end of lace stitch pattern repeat.
This small check is from  The Penguin Knitting Book by James Norbury's. I am using the for some of the panels of the modular jacket.

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Cast On with Options

This week at the Knit Guild we looked at casting on with waste yarn. The Americans call it the Provisional Cast On, wow, in the 80's it used to be called "Scrap On!" (and Scrap Off).
There are many excellent reasons for the knitter to make the beginning of the work open stitches.
Those reasons could include, postponing the design of the trim, accommodating the use of different dye lots, or allowing for adjusting the fit and length after completing of the main pieces.
I like to use a completely contrasting smooth yarn like this treasure from the 80's. The yarn is super chunky so I doubled the waste yarn. I finished the scarf below with waste yarn as well and grafted the edges together for a pliable smooth join..
The waste yarn  method for grafting allows for easier matching and adjusting the  with regards to tension. I have seen Lucy Neatby also use this method on her socks, calling it a toe chimney.
For the modular cardigan it is a design decision. I might do a rib or a moss stitch on the bottom in different yarn. I am also using vintage yarn from my stash in different dye lots.
The cardigan is for one of the members children and she kindly brought his fleece jacket in for measurement. He is currently a size 4, so we are planning a size 5 to 6, for that room to grow!
The first two strips look like the correct width to me, allowing for the seam so next I will make the centre back strip. Sharion, our president provided lots of  stitch inspiration at the October meeting.
When the knitted pieces were laid on the jacket I could see the side panels only need to be 2 inches instead of 3. It is interesting that the Gap version uses a completely different fabric for the underarm panels.
Another alternative temporary cast on uses a crochet chain. Just pick up the stitches through the centre back loop of the chain. Again use a nice smooth contrast for the crochet.
Using a crochet hook to pick up the stitches works well. Once the stem of the hook is full of stitches  thread them off the end of the handle onto the knitting needle and make the piece.
I began all of the strips with a nice smooth light grey superwash dk and 4mm hook for the chain as I am knitting with a 3.75 needle to get the correct gauge.
It is so very satisfying the undo the chain when you have returned to the edge and picked up the stitches. Rather like when you pull that string on a bag of potatoes or cat food correctly.
Using waste yarn for casting on is a very Japanese method. You will notice the direction of knitting arrows in the pattern diagrams most of the time. I believe these most excellent technical books are still available

Friday, September 28, 2018

Simple Pattern Drafting Part 1

At Knit Club next Wednesday we are going to draft a simple pattern for a child's jacket, using graph paper. It is an old fashioned way I know, but I really enjoy paper and pencil work. Four squares to the inch graph paper makes it so easy to draw.
 Assign one square to equal one inch of garment. For a child, age 4 to 5 the basic measurements for a drop shoulder jacket are as follows:
Actual Garment Chest measurement: 28 inches
Length from shoulder: 17 inches
Length of Sleeve: 10 inches
This is a generous amount I know, and allows for the growth spurt as well as any delay that could happen in the making, just in case.
First I find and mark the centre of the paper underneath the punched hole. So it is easier to see in a photograph, I use a Sharpie marker, rather than my trusty 2B pencil (and plastic eraser).
The the neck opening of 4 inches get's  2 dot's on either side of the centre.
Then the shoulder dots, 7 squares from the neckline edge. The total width is 18 inches, half the 36 inch circumference
The length dots are next, first the one in the middle
Then the dots at the corners of the body.
Join the dots, to make a rectangle
Sleeve dots include the length, the armhole and half the cuff.
Join the dots and now I think it looks like a jacket
Here are the panel lines in place. These lines can also mean different stitch patterns.
The measurements of each part are written, and we are ready to begin calculating the stitch and row counts. Refinements like the neck shaping are figured out later, no worries.
Four squares to the inch graph paper fits a children's size. When I need larger sizes, I can tape paper together, or...
use 10 square to the inch paper, with lots of squares to spare.
Next is swatching time, so we learn how many stitches and rows equal an inch.
I'm using Country Style DK and a 3.75mm needle, and aim of achieve 5.5 stitches and 7 rows to the inch, like the ball band says.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Make do and mend

Do you have a bit of spare sock in your life? Maybe you made one sock or mitten and got distracted by another fibre opportunity, or maybe there is a particular hole in a sock and you feel pretty sure mending it will not happen. But you like the knitting a lot, and cannot not say goodbye.
But fear not Stephanie, I say to myself, the answer is... make one of these sweet artistic pin cushions. One that is especially friendly in holding my preferred blunt tapestry needles.
I have made pin cushions successfully out of t shirt material and enjoy seeing the colour of the fabric in a new way. Pin cushions also make a nice gift for a fellow fibre enthusiast.
It creates a second landing place for pins in my sewing room. The main difference is fabric needles are much sharper and an easily pierce cloth. My favourite blunt ended tapestry needles for sewing up hand knitting not so much, actually they just bounce off the surface.
I thought, so why not use hand knitted material.
In hand weaving, wool yarn as a warp is an excellent material for cleaning and polishing the steel reeds as you weave. I didn't have much fleece on hand so I softly wound a donut shaped ball of wools left over from other projects.
In this example I use the leg part as the foot had a large hole on the side from an unfortunate sharp encounter. It is also a little bit more worn on the bottom.
Cut a tube about 4 inches long, just below the rib and above the heel.
Then, gently pull out the yarn bits to reveal live stitches. I like to keep unravelling until I have about 18 to 20 inches of yarn on one end for the sculpting part. This pair had been washed many times so after picking out the bits, the stitches stay open and happy to accept the tapestry needle.
 I used a fairly small tapestry needle, and  although the yarn was very curly from being knitted for so long, the stitches were open and stable for pulling through.
You could use new uncrinkled yarn, or even a sturdy thread like Coats Button and Craft. I like sock yarn because the nylon content makes it very strong for sewing.
Make the stuffing, by winding up some scraps of wool yarn into about a 2 ounce ball. Keep the winding soft and squishy, not hard, because you want to be able to sculpt the pincushion into shape.
Make a of hole in the middle as you wind. I used the handle of this Danish Dough Whisk because it is thicker than my wooden spoons. In the spinning world there is actually a tool to facilitate the winding called a Nostepinne.
One could also use fleece or a complete unused ball of wool. The important thing, if you want to polish your needles is to use wool, not acrylic or cotton.
When you remove the label is is easy to flatten it into a more donut like shape.
Pull the yarn through to gather one end.
I like to thread the yarn though the open stitches twice and gently draw the opening closed. I find it stays closed better than just going through the stitches once.
Stuff in the stuffing. I should be a fairly easy fit, not a struggle, and yet fill the tube.
Close the other end of the tube by threading through the open stitches as before.
Using a fairly long piece of yarn or thread, sew through the centre, making sections, pulling in a firm and friendly manner until you have shaped the ball into a sort of pumpkin.
Fasten off the thread and all is complete.
A decoration in the centre is nice, a button or a bead. I am going to find something red or deep pink to go with the grey colour of my new pin cushion family member. Maybe my favourite rose and leaf.