Buttonhole Sandwich Band – Delicious!

This buttonhole band has been around forever and is still a winner! The method of attaching the band can be applied to any sandwich band – plain, picot, patterned. The chained effect is on the inside of the garment (if you follow my directions) and a sort of back-stitched effect shows on the knit side, just as they would appear if the band had been applied on a linking machine.

The width of the band is up to you, but I recommend always including a technique that will produce a sharp crease on the fold. In this video, I used two turns with the garter bar, but you might do as well with one row on size 10 or a row of picots. If you have a double bed machine, you can knit the band in rib, ending it with some circular rows to sandwich the fabric between.

When applying a band like this to cut-and-sew necklines, you should serge or zigzag the cut neckline edge to make sure nothing drops down and runs later. Also, there should always be some “meat” inside the sandwich. That is, a couple of rows of knitting or, as I did, two stitches from the edge. Otherwise, the band is barely attached to the garment and tends to turn up (or down). I would never attach a band like this to live stitches with no bulk inside the band or it looks flimsy. Take my word for it ….. I know from experience!

When working a neckband with this method, you should be able to join one shoulder seam first and apply the band to the entire neckline. With V-necks, you might need to apply the band in two pieces that overlap the center front.

There is a free Tips and Techniques (Bands That Bind) on my web site that goes into a bit more detail and I recommend that you download it to help you the first few times.

Remember that the beginning and ending buttonholes are usually spaced just a few stitches from either end of the fabric, but that the remaining buttonholes will have larger spaces between them. There are always more spaces to account for than buttonholes. There are several magic formula calculators on line that are very helpful in spacing out the buttonholes.

I have used this method of attaching bands to front, lower and neckline edges and I have also used it to add trim and to finish hand woven fabric. Enjoy!

If you live in the Northeast, try to join us for the spring meeting of the Northeast Machine Knitters’ Guild – we had a great meeting on Saturday at Webs in Northampton, Massachusetts. Check out the Facebook page and follow along: https://www.facebook.com/groups/535504566785989/

(PS – I filmed this video at the end of raspberry season when I had some free time – apologies for the arm scratches!)

Stretchy, Usable Latch Tool Cast On!

No matter how hard you try to keep it loose, the latch tool cast on is often too tight to be practical. I came up with a simple solution that enables you to make the edge as loose and stretchy as you want by working around a gauge.

In this video, I used a #4 hand knitting needle, but you can use a larger needle or a dowel instead. Although it is tempting to make the chaining really loose, try not to go overboard with your new-found power!

Once I produced a better cast on edge, I realized that I could also use the same technique to open up the rows of decorative chaining I work on the knit side of the fabric. You can work decorative chaining with different colors and textures and you can work several rows together at the lower edge to produce a nice band.

Each row of decorative chaining is followed by a row of knitting  and if you want to produce a band, simply *free pass the carriage to the opposite side of the bed, work the chaining and then rethread the carriage and knit 1 row**. Repeat from * to **.

Think about picking up and rehanging a row of decorative chaining across the needles to work more elaborate trims or effects after the basic fabric is complete. You can also work crochet trims through them.

I hope you find this little tip as useful as I did! Enjoy!

On another note, January will be here before we know it and I will, once again, be teaching for Vogue Knitting Livein NYC. 
Hope to see some of you there!

Some New Russian You Tube Videos

Last week I got an email from a Russian machine knitter named Elena Luneva, asking if I would take a look at her You Tube videos and share them here on the blog. I think they are terrific! She has had the text translated into English on-screen titles and although I would love to have heard that rich Russian accent speaking English, the titles are probably easier for most of us to manage.

If you go to Elena’s You Tube page, make sure you click “Like” so that you are the first to know about any new classes she adds.

In the first class, Principles of Knitting Terry Cloth, Elena uses a ribber comb to work a hand-manipulated, purl-side looped fabric on a single bed.  

The following class, Knitted Baby Cap with PomPom from Terry Fabric, has patterns to use the looped fabric.

Her third class, The Principles of Formation of Elongated Loops, is about creating giant stitches and ideas for using them.My kind of fun!

Elena’s fourth class, Woven Insert,  features a truly unique way of weaving ladders right on the machine. I found this one particularly interesting because I am currently/still working on a chapter about ladders for TBTWNE (The Book That Will Not End) and can honestly say it never occurred to me to do what she does here. Truly innovative!

With all of the US/Russia controversy in the news these days, I really like the  fact that knitters all,  ultimately, speak the same language! Thanks for sharing, Elena!

Shaped Shawl Collars

The collar on the sweater I featured in my last two blogs is actually more of a turned or rolled collar. A true shapedshawlcollar requires short row shaping so I have included some generic directions in this posting. You’ll need to provide the actual number of stitches and rows for your project, but the the method is never fail – by hand or machine – and really doesn’t require much charting as such. You might just want to keep an eye on how many rows you work so the collar is neither too deep nor too skimpy. That can be adjusted by short rowing more or fewer stitches each row in order to increase/decrease the overall number of rows you work.

Hand knitters have an advantage in that they can fit the entire neckline onto a single circular needle and work the front bands and collar all in one piece. I have suggested that machine knitters work the collar with a center back seam – along with a caveat to make that seam either invisible or decorative…..there really isn’t any other choice if you think about it.

You could also work the collar in a single piece through the beginning of the V-neck shaping and then work both front bands separately. The method used to shape the back of this color can also be applied to other collars and trims so add it to your bag of tricks!

nancyolsonNancy Olson sent along this photo of herself modeling a version of the shawl collared cardigan that she knitted on her SK160 (mid-gauge). She used DAK to help chart the sweater and I think it looks great!

Beading on the Machine

Its fairly easy to add beads on a knitting machine and although you can do it on any gauge machine, beading really looks best on standard gauge fabrics because the beads are in better proportion to the stitches. That said, the example in my video was worked on a mid-gauge machine (6.5 mm).

You’ll need a tiny latch tool to transfer the beads onto the stitches. Notions counters may sell a hosiery/knit mending tool or I have handmade, wooden handled beaders available for sale on my web site.The ones I sell have a fairly long shaft and you should be able to stack on 6-8 beads, depending on their size. Just be aware that these tiny latches are very fragile and need to be treated carefully.I ship them with a protective cap and you should replace it whenever you store the tool.

You simply insert the hook of the tool into the stitch on the needle – or one row down – then release the stitch from its needle. Close the latch of the tool and slide a bead over the latch and onto the stitch, tugging gently to pull enough of the stitch through the bead to replace it on the needle. I usually work with the stitch one row down for larger beads so that they do not distort the fabric. The carriage will knit more smoothly if you bring the needles to holding position before knitting the next row.

ms.3.phtoYou can combine beading with tuck stitch patterning or with cables or other hand manipulated stitches. For the example at left, I manually enlarged a single stitch in the middle of each cable so that the beads sat right on the surface of the fabric.

Hand Sewn Bind Off for 1 X 1 Rib: The Gourmet Bind Off!

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This hand sewn bind off is my method of choice for binding off 1 x 1 ribbing. It exactly matches the circular cast on edge, holds its shape and never binds. What’s not to like?

Hand knitters often struggle with this method for binding off because they usually work it directly off their hand knitting needles. When worked off properly knitted scrap knitting, it couldn’t be easier to do. In fact, even when I hand knit a ribbed neckband, I transfer the stitches from the hand needles to the machine and scrap off as I will describe below. It makes all the difference.

First of all, the stitches need to present as two separate rows of stitches that you can think of as upper and lower rows. This is the factor that makes it easier to see what you are doing and enables you to distinguish which stitch to work and how. The work is scrapped off in a way that creates those two visual rows for you.

This bind off is worked the same for latched up ribbing as it is for double bed ribs. Let’s assume you have worked your ribbing on a double bed machine. End with the carriage on the right. Transfer all the ribber stitches to the main bed, pulling each needle out to Holding Position (HP) as you deposit the stitches. Cut the yarn, leaving a tail about 3 times the width of the knitting. Drop the ribber bed out of the way and, if necessary, switch to the single bed arm/sinker plate.

Set the carriage to Slip all needles in Working Position (WP) and to knit needles back from HP. The stitch size should be set for stockinette. You can use ravel cord for the first two rows or, for practice, just knit with waste yarn that contrasts well with the rib. Knit 1 row. The needles in WP should have slipped; the needles in HP should have knitted. For the example in the video, I knitted a second row with ravel cord and then switched to waste yarn.

Set the carriage to knit in both directions. Knit 8-10 rows of waste, cut the yarn and then drop the work from the machine. I usually press the waste yarn (not the rib) to assure that it lies flat and is less likely to ravel.

Please refer to the video included in this post for the visuals to accompany these directions. The numbers below also appear in the video as I work each step. Thread the main yarn tail through a blunt yarn needle and hold the work as shown in the video, beginning on the right edge. You should be able to clearly distinguish between an upper and a lower row of stitches held by the pink ravel cord. For most of the video, I held the fabric flat to avoid confusion, but it is actually easier to work the stitches with the waste knitting folded back – the two rows of stitches pop right up. Make sure you stitch through the actual stitches – not the ravel cord stitches.

1. Insert the needle down through the first stitch in the top row and then down through the first stitch in the bottom row. Pull the yarn through the stitches, pulling just snuggly enough to eliminate any excess length, but do not tighten the stitches.

2. Insert the needle back down through the first (upper) stitch and then up through the next upper stitch (down and up). Pull the yarn through the stitches just enough to eliminate excess length – not too snuggly. [The same goes for all following stitching whether or not I keep saying it].

3. Now, insert the needle up through the bottom row stitch you worked before and down through the next bottom row stitch (up and then down). It is important to notice how the yarn passed over the work when I switched from working the upper row to the lower row. That is actually what forms the edge itself.

4. Pass the yarn over the work and insert the needle down through the last stitch you worked on the upper row and then up through a new stitch (down and then up).

Each stitch is worked – twice – first as the second (new) stitch in each sequence and then as the “old stitch” in the next sequence. This is essential. Also, notice that whenever you work the upper row of stitches, the needle always enters down the old stitch and up through the new stitch. When working the lower row of stitches, the needle passes up through the old stitch and down through the new one. So, the upper row of stitches end with an “up” stitches and the lower row ends with a “down” stitch. This alternation, to, is essential.

5. This is the next bottom row sequence so the needle works up and then down. Continue to alternately work a pair (1 old and 1 new) of upper row stitches with a pair of lower row stitches until you reach the left edge of the fabric. You might be able to work both stitches with a single needle motion or it might be necessary to fully insert the needle through the first stitch and then through the second. It usually depends on the size of the stitches.

6. When you reach the left edge, work the last upper row stitch and then insert the needle up through the last lower row stitch and down through the last upper row stitch to end.

Pull out the ravel cord – or ravel the rows of waste knitting and behold your perfect edge! I usually run a thin knitting needle or blocking wire through the edge and give a strong tug to help set the stitches. You could also thread a yarn needle with some ravel cord, thread it through then pull against it to set the stitches. You will notice that the bind off tends to roll to one side, the side that faced you as you worked. Therefore, it is a good idea to always work with the wrong side of the sweater facing you.

This bind off can be worked from left to right just as easily if you are left handed or your yarn ended on the left side to begin with. For neckbands, I usually join one shoulder seam, work the entire neckband, scrapping it off as I described above and then I join the second shoulder seam. When I work the bind off, I try to make the ending stitches as blend as smoothly as possible with the beginning stitches so the edge is continuous and smooth.

This method – and lots of other great techniques are shown with excellent illustrations in The Guide to Knitting Techniques, a paperback book from Silver Reed that is still available. The book sells for $36 and you can purchase it from The Knit Knack Shop.

This book was originally one of a hard-bound set. The other book deals with specific knitting directions for the garment patterns that came with the charting attachment that used to be built into the machines (or available as an accessory). I don’t think the garment book has been available for a very long time and, although the knitting directions might be helpful for a novice, they are very specific to the old patterns – which have very little ease and even less style. If you happen upon an inexpensive copy, don’t pass it up, but don’t pay a lot of money for it either!

 

Remember – only a couple more weeks till the new Craftsy class launches and I am giving away FIVE FREE CLASSES to blog subscribers! Sign up so you have a chance to win!

Judith Duffy’s Cabled Edging

Talk about something I wish I had invented, but didn’t! I LOVE this edging/Bind Off/trim and have used it for all kinds of things over the years. With Judith Duffy’s kind permission, it appeared in Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters (page 183) and there was even a hand-knit version of it in Knitters’ Magazine to accompany the machine knit pattern I did for the gold sweater that appeared in the blog post of March 7, 2016 – and again here (below).

I first saw this edging when I was a contributing editor for Threads Magazine (in the earliest years of the magazine) and they were doing a feature article on fiber artist Judith Duffy’s work. They asked me to choose one of her textures to reproduce for the article and I spent some time figuring out machine knit directions for the cabled edging. Do you remember the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing garment that graced a back cover in those early years? It was a stunning piece by Duffy and unlike anything I have seen before or since, hand or machine knitted.

Notice the Duffy Edging on the ribs - great way to bind off ribbing for a change!
Notice the Duffy Edging on the ribs – great way to bind off ribbing for a change!

The gold sweater at left is a twisted stitch and latched up tuck stitch pattern (see previous blog 3/7/16), but take a close look at the edge of the ribbing. I started all the garment pieces on waste yarn and went back later to work the ribs. Instead of a conventional rib bind off, I worked the Duffy Cabled Edging to trim and bind off the ribs all at once.

 

 

 

Check out the pretty neckline with JDCE finish!
Check out the pretty neckline with JDCE finish!

Most of all, I think I have used it to bind off neckline stitches when shaping a neckline with short rows, preserving live stitches. On a standard gauge machine it produces a lovely, delicate neckline finish.

You can also use this edging to join two garment or afghan sections together by rehanging them on the machine with the wrong sides facing each other and then working the edging. As with the I-cord join (blog 4/8/16), make sure you always hang the pieces the same way as there is a right and wrong side to the way the edging joins the base fabric.

This Cabled Edging can be worked on live stitches or selvage edges, which makes it perfect for finishing afghans!
This Cabled Edging can be worked on live stitches or selvage edges, which makes it perfect for finishing afghans!

The method is quite simple. Hang the work on the machine with the right side (whatever that is) facing you – live stitches or selvage edges (whole stitches are best). All of the needles except the first 3 on the carriage side are in holding position and the carriage must be set to hold needles in HP. Knit 12 rows over the 3 working needles and then remove those stitches on a 3-prong tool and pass the tool under the adjacent 3 needles and re-hang the stitches on the 4th, 5th and 6th needles from the edge.Place the empty needles in NWP. Repeat till you either reach a corner or the end. If you want to turn a corner, add two more rows to the last two groups on each side to help make the corner so that it doesn’t flatten out. You’ll also find that you can’t easily hang the next side of an afghan until you get right to the corner. At that point, you might want to remove those last few stitches and re-hang them on the far right end of the bed to give you lots of needles to re-hang the next side.

I almost always work with 3 stitches and knit 12 rows for each spiral, but you can certainly work with more stitches if you have a tool to handle them. Twelve rows almost always works out right, but you might find that 10 or 14 are better so work the edging on your gauge swatch to find out before you begin. You might also find that you want to adjust your stitch size a bit smaller or larger – sampling always pays off.

As I said in the tutorial, the float that passes underneath the first 3 needles always gets hidden inside the spiral, but you can certainly opt to knit those needles back and eliminate the float if – for some unforeseen reason – it shows. Also, by way of variation, I have seen students work this trim in two colors, which is very cool. In that case, it might be best to knit back the float of at least one of the colors.

When you reach the end, you want the trim to end quickly and neatly. What I have always done is to knit half as many rows on the second to last group and then immediately reduce those 3 stitches to a single stitch. Move that single stitch to the last needle at left, knit 1 row over the last 3 needles and then reduce those stitches to a single stitch and pull the yarn tail through to secure.

I think there are all kinds of creative possibilities for this edging – I love the cabled effect and the fact that it also binds off stitches. Lately I have been playing with a cabled cord effect by e-wrapping, knitting 1 row over all needles and then working the JDCE. I think it still needs a little work and then I will share it with you! What other ways can you think to use this trim?