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!

More Free Downloads!

Tucks and Twists is one of my all-time favorite sweaters.

I’m really happy to tell you that Knitter’s Magazine just gave me permission to share all of the patterns I did for them back in the 90’s. I have been busy scanning and have finally got them all added to the free downloads on my web site.

I think that most of the patterns have stood the test of time quite well. Just be aware that the yarns will most likely no longer be available and you will have to do some substituting. There is a wide variety of techniques to be learned from these patterns and many of them were done for the LK150. As always, you need to be registered for the web site newsletter to enjoy all the freebies. Also, feel free to share these patterns with your knit clubs and friends, but please make sure my name and the credit to Knitter’s Magazine remains on any copies.

“Back in the day” when I was with Studio, we used to advertise in Knitter’s (and other hand knit magazines) so they were much more open to featuring machine knit patterns than they might be today.

These are the patterns I just posted:

24 Gold Carrots – a multi-color tuck stitch pullover with 24 appliqué’s gold carrots that was the inspiration for the issue called Fakes and Funnies.

Basket of Flowers

Basket of Flowers – a really gorgeous hand-manipulated stitch that uses woven stitches to create an undulating fabric.

Little Girl Blue – a child’s cardigan with smocking.

Mozambique Mosaic – a fabulous LK150 two-color tuck stitch (AKA Tuck Mosaic) worked on the LK150. There is also a Tips & Techniques download on mosaic stitch and, of course, a whole chapter in Hand Knits by Machine.

Peacock Tails – is a light weight, open mohair cardigan that uses a unique hand transfer method that, in fact, I am revisiting in the ladder chapter of the current book project. This is a great technique to stretch your yarn further because the fabric is more air than stitches!

Sideways Vest – I designed it as a women’s vest, but they wanted more men’s patterns for the magazine and decided that this one qualified as uni-sex. This one features sideways construction and a neat little added detail at the beck.

Tucks and Twists – This was one of my favorite sweaters ever. It is a lush combination of tuck stitch, twisted stitches and the Judith Duffy cabled edging.

Royal Hawaiian – this one uses a narrow short rowed zig-zag band for the edging.

I also uploaded the pattern for an intarsia vest, “Como se Llama?” that I did for Knit ‘N Style Magazine, which has been out of publication for years.The entire vest is worked in intarsia and the charts are all included.

Lastly, Gini Woodward sent me the original directions that used to come with the garter bars (or, rather the “garter stitch accessory” as they called it back then). I have added that with the Tips & Techniques.

2017 Retreat with Deborah Newton!

Deborah Newton

 

One of my all-time favorite knitters happens to be a hand knitter – Deborah Newton. I’ve known (and adored) her since we were both authors working on our first books for Taunton Press back in the 90’s and when I tell you she is bright and funny and incredibly talented, I am not exaggerating one bit. I know I am a little star-struck when it comes to Deb, but she really is the best and I am fortunate to count her among my friends.

A recent design from Vogue Knitting is perfect for a mid-gauge or bulky machine!(copyright Sixth & Spring)

You can hardly scan an issue of Vogue Knitting over these many years that doesn’t feature one of Deborah’s designs and, beginning with Designing Knitwear she has produced a trio of books that should be in any knitter’s library because what she has to say transcends needles or machines!

 

This is one of the garments from Finishing School.(copyright Sixth & Spring)

Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters, her second book, is my favorite go-to book for finishing details and techniques (and a dozen great patterns). Her newest book, Good Measure: Knit a Perfect Fit Every Time is loaded with gorgeous illustrations to support the purls of wisdom she shares on how she designs sweaters – and tells you how to do it yourself! There are also 24 patterns included in the book.

While Deborah carefully explains various necklines and garment shapes, she also details design considerations for specific body types and fitting problems. I found it refreshing that some of the models are somewhat more normal sized women (i.e. not size 3!) which gives me a much better idea what the garments might look like on me and helps to illustrate some of her tips on fit.

I especially love the swatch photographs in Good Measure because they tell you so much about what the final sweater will look like. Deborah works out all the details on each swatch before she begins any project. If you are familiar with Deborah’s work, you know that perfect fit is the hallmark of her designs and it starts with the switching process. If you are a hand knitter, you are probably familiar with Deborah’s designs. But if you have only knitted by machine and tend to avoid hand knit patterns and books, you owe it to yourself to take a look at these books because she will open new worlds for you!

The inn on Block Island

OK. So – the books are fabulous and her work is the gorgeous and I am clearly #1 fan. Here is the best news – Deborah will be teaching a workshop for North Light Fibers in September on gorgeous Block Island, Rhode Island. Space is definitely limited so if you’re interested in giving yourself a special gift, use this link to get the details and to sign up for the retreat! Four days on an island with Deborah Newton sounds a little bit like heaven to me!

3D Eyelets and Nops

I’m really excited to share this sweater pattern with you! It is one of the garments I have been working on as I sample and knit my way through the content for my fourth machine knitting book: Hand-Manipulated Stitches: Eyelets, Ladders and Slits (Exploring Open Spaces). I’m aiming for a release this spring, but life always gets in the way so I won’t make any guarantees quite yet. You’ll be among the first to know once I set a date! I hope the scale of this pattern gives you an idea what I am up to with this new book – the open spaces I am working with are contemporary and bold – not prissy grandma lace! (No offense intended to grandma or anyone who has a grandma. Heck – I AM a grandma!)

The full, detailed pattern for this green merino wool sweater is on my web site with all the other free downloads so I won’t include the chart or other particulars here on the blog. However, because the transfers I used for this stitch pattern are a little unusual, I thought the video would be helpful.

In the video I use a handy needle Magic Needle Selector Wand for the SK 860 (mid gauge – 6.5mm) from Knitting Any Way. They are available for machines with 6.5, 7 and 8 mm needle spacing and only cost $34. There used to be a great adjustable needle selector available for Passap with 5 mm spacing but I’m afraid I don’t know of one for Japanese standard (4.5mm) or bulky (9mm) spacing. If anyone out there does, please let me know! I’ve seen people make needle pushers out of heavy cardboard for special projects and I’m tempted to think this is something that could easily be 3-D printed…….

My pattern is written for a luscious merino wool from Silk City that I started out using right off the cone on the standard gauge machine and, although the swatch was gorgeous, I realized it would take forever to finish a whole sweater. So – I used the yarn doubled on the SK-860.It would be great for the LK-150 as well. You can adapt this stitch design to any yarn on any machine as long as you do a gauge swatch first. There is just no escaping those gauge swatches!

The transfers I used for this design are triple transfers where 3 stitches are transferred from the left and 3 from the right onto the same three center needles – each of those needles end up holding 3 stitches. The tension on the transferred stitches is what forces the “nops” to pop out on the knit side of the fabric. The eyelets are 3-stitch eyelets so the whole scale of this lace is way beyond more common lace stitches!

Because the stitch chart shows the repeats centered from zero on the bed, you can just repeat the transfers all the way to the edges of the fabric, which makes it pretty straightforward to keep track of the placement and easy to use this pattern on any number of stitches. Just remember that you need to make either a whole or an exact half transfer and may have a number of plain stitches at the edges for lack of a enough stitches for a repeat. You’ll see what I mean once you start to swatch and try the technique.

In order to keep track of this pattern so that the eyelets formed their neat little zig-zag in the background, I made a chart that listed row numbers and indicated which transfers to make when. I checked the chart every time I picked up my 3-prong transfer tool because it took a whole lot less time to do that than it would to rip out an entire row of incorrect transfers!

I hope you like this pattern and that I have whetted your appetite for the new book!

Great Work from Blog Subscribers!

fingerlessmittLast week I got an email from Maria Anna Youngs, who I met when I taught at a seminar in Minnesota this past summer. She took my entrelac class and was evidently  bitten by the entrelac bug because she has been knitting lots of pairs of these fingerless mitts for holiday gifting. She said she got the original idea from Eileen Montgomery and used my excellent entrelac directions for the execution. Wouldn’t these look great over a pair of plain mittens or gloves for extra warmth and pizzaz?!

fingerlessmitt2Maria Anna said that she worked with sock yarn on a standard gauge machine (stitch size 7) and that the base row for each mitt is 4 triangles wide, with 10 stitches in each triangle. Most were worked 7 sections high (including beginning and ending triangles), but she suggested working a couple more sections for a longer cuff. The mitts are seamed along the side, leaving an opening for the thumb. Most of them measured 6.5-7″ wide and 5.5-6″ long. What a great way to use up small amounts of beautiful yarns!

image2I also got an email from Lynn Jones with photos of the shawl collared sweater she did on her Brother 260 (bulky) with Premier Yarn’s “Puzzle”. She finished the front edges with an I-cord trim and also worked a modified drop shoulder to reduce armhole bulk. I think she did a gorgeous job!

 

 

teacherbadgeround

There are still a couple of openings in my classes at VKL in NYC next month (January already!) I’ll be doing one session with highlights from the book I am still working on about open spaces.

 

 

5k-students-badgeLast, but not least, I want to thank all of you who have enrolled in my Craftsy classes! The first class, which launched just a little over a year ago, now has over 5,000 students and the other two classes are doing really well. Thank you for your confidence in me and your continued support! Remember, there are always discount coupons available on my web site .

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Many of us here in the US have just put away all the dishes and the extra leaves for the dining room table now that Thanksgiving is behind us. I think I have had more than enough turkey to last me for a while! Thanksgiving is always a time for families – and ushers in the beginning of winter and the holiday season. I’m looking forward to less time in the garden, a lighter teaching load and more time here in the studio working on the book that will ultimately be titled something like: Hand-Manipulated Stitches: Eyelets, Ladders and Slits, (with a subtitle) Exploring Open Spaces.

I always have a tendency to get a little overly-absorbed in the projects at hand and I have found myself really enjoying the fabrics and techniques I am working on for this book. Right now I have taken a break from all the sampling and swatches to work on a gorgeous all-over 3-stitch eyelet pattern and once that sweater is done, I will post the pattern on the web site and let you know here on the blog.

linen5
Giant 3-stitch eyelets swirl across this linen pullover. Godets at fullness and drape at the side seams.

In the meantime, I just posted the pattern for the Swirling Eyelets Sweater I did a year ago. The pattern first appeared in Machine Knitting Monthly Magazine, but some of you may not subscribe (shame!) so I decided it was time to make the pattern available on my web site. Just go to the page called “Free Stuff” and you will see it at the top of the list. The model is my lovely friend, Anne.

The pattern features huge 3-stitch eyelets and godets that add fullness and drape at the sides. The sleeves are knitted down after picking up the armhole edge. Open spaces are all the rage in ready-to-wear right now and this sweater is easy enough for a beginner.

linen-detailMy sweater was knitted with some gorgeous worsted weight linen that I bought from Silk City. It has fabulous weight and drape. However, the yarn may no longer be available and, if it is, it was tough to knit with. Linen has no give at all and even on the bulky machine it was heavy, arm-muscle -building work! The concept and design will work in any weight yarn on any machine so be good to yourself and pick a nice stretchy wool or blend. I hope you like it!

 

One Last Post on Charting

I promise. This is about the last thing I will have to say about charting for a while!  Most of us find that we seldom exactly match somebody else’s gauge – especially when we start utilizing hand knit patterns on the machine. Sometimes it just means a little tweaking to get things right. Other times it requires re-charting the entire pattern.

If you own DAK or Garment Designer, you probably won’t have as much use for this info, but it is still worth understanding how to affect simple changes that will enable you to use almost any pattern you like on whatever machine you own.

So – just these last thoughts on gauge  as it affects re-charting armholes and sleeve caps for set-in sleeve sweaters. Be aware that this is just skimming the surface when it comes to charting and gauge. But I promise not to make you delve any deeper…….for now anyhow.

Resources for Managing Gauge and Charting Knitwear

Books you need to own:  The following books are excellent sources for information, garment shapes and dimensions in various gauges – and perfect for building on to produce your own patterns now that you know how to adjust gauge!

Newton, Deborah. Designing Knitwear. Taunton Press, 1992 (newer paperback available). One of my personal favorites.

Budd, Ann. The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. Interweave Press, 2002 and 2004. (Multi-sized reference patterns). Fabulous resource!

Zimmermann, Elizabeth. Knitting Without Tears. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971. A classic.

Vogue Knitting Book. Sixth & Spring Books, 2002. (Has been reprinted/updated several times). Another classic.

 

Leisure Arts’ Back to Basics (series) . Multi-size and multi-gauge patterns for children and adults. (#2274 Kids 6-12 drop shoulder; #2390 kids 6-12 set-in-sleeves; #2394 6 months-4 years set-in-sleeves; #2289 adult 42-50 drop shoulders; etc.) Might be somewhat out of date (if still available) but excellent resource.

Patons Back to Basics (series),multi-style (set-in, drop, raglan & vest in each book) for kids and adults; for specific gauges (#561 sport/DK weight; #562 worsted).Might be somewhat out of date (if still available) but excellent resource.

Self-Published and probably hard to find, but well worth owning:

Elalouf, Sion. The Knitting Architect and The Advanced Knitting Architect. Knitting Fever Yarn Co. (KFI, 1982). Excellent introduction to carting.

 

Valuable Knitting Information     < These yarn reference books were published twice a year and were available only to yarn shops, so talk to your local shop and see if they will sell you a more recent out-of-date edition. Much of the information stays relevant – especially when you want to check yardage and gauge information for long discontinued yarns.

Marion Nelson Pattern Cards  These cards were self-published in England and have been out of print for some time. You might be able to find used sets through some of the book sites, Ravelry or eBay. Amazon lists them as unavailable. The basic set included raglans, set-in-sleeves , sleeveless and drop shoulder in sizes 18″-48″ for 4 different gauges. Additional sets included skirts, sideways and dolman sweaters, children’s clothing, yoke sweaters, etc.

 

Web sites worth book-marking:

This web site The Fiber Gypsy, offers a wealth of reference tools and information as does The Craft Yarn Council, including children’s sizing, hats and a wealth of info for knit and crochet.

Last but not least, this chart is from a web site called YarnXpress that no longer seems to be active, but the information is great!

Hope all this helps! Till next time!

 

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!

Charting the Shawl Collared Cardigan Yourself!

This is the version I knitted from the pattern I've included with this blog posting.
This is the version I knitted from the pattern I’ve included with this blog posting.

Sorry for the delay – It was hard to find enough time to finish up the new shawl collared cardigan, wash it and wait for it to dry in the New England humidity, but now I’d like to walk you through the process of charting an original design. I used some hand dyed yarn that a friend gifted me because it wasn’t right for something she was working on – and it was just perfect for my cardigan! The yarn, Maude’s Mountain Spun (which may not even be available anymore) has 200 yards per 4 ounce skein and it knitted beautifully on my Brother bulky (9 mm) machine. My gauge, with stitch size 7, was 4 stitches and 5.33 rows per inch. Throughout this pattern there might be places where my numbers are one or two off from what you figure – probably just how I chose to round off or up. I do not own a ribber for my bulky so the bands were worked in 2×2 rib by hand on size 8 needles.This is the pattern for the brown cardigan brown cardigan

Charting the Back

With a calculator and a copy of the basic pattern (cardiblank no stitch or row numbers, just measurements) I began by re-charting the back. I multiplied the width (27”) by my stitch gauge (4) and found I needed to cast on 108 stitches.

Next, I multiplied my shoulder width (10.5”) by my stitch gauge (4) and determined that I needed 42 stitches for each shoulder. Subtracting 84 sts (2 shoulders) from 108 sts (the cast on ) told me that I would have 24 sts for the back neck. (To double check, divide 24 by the width (6”) and you get 4 stitches per inch. Perfect.)

The total length of the garment should be 24.5”, which, when multiplied by the row gauge (5.33), dictates a total of 130.5 rows – which I rounded up to 132 so that I ended on the right. No good reason for that other than habit. I also broke down the length measurement by multiplying the length to the armhole (13.25”) by row gauge so I knew where to hang a tag (RC 72) at each side to mark the beginning of the armhole. These tags are handy to have ready when you start assembling the garment. (I also tag the beginning of the front neckline at the same time.)

Charting the Front

First multiply the lower width (18”) by stitch gauge (4), which amounts to 72 stitches to cast on. When you multiply the stitch gauge by the width of the collar extension (6”), you’ll find that it accounts for 24 stitches. Subtract 24 (collar stitches) and 42 shoulder stitches from the total width of the garment (72) and you’ll find that 6 stitches remain. These 6 stitches will be decreased to shape the front neckline (which is not nearly as sharp a V as it looks on my diagrams).

To figure the neckline decreases, you need to divide the number of stitches that must be decreased (6) into the total number of rows you have to do it (60 rows), which (conveniently in this case) results in 1 decrease every 10th row, six times, or, more concisely: -1 10/R x 6. This places the first decrease to right at RC 72, which is correct.

Charting the Sleeves

Multiplying the garment measurements by the stitch gauge dictates casting on 36 stitches and ending with 90. Subtracting 36 from 90 indicates that we need to increase by 54 stitches over the length of the sleeve. Because increases will be made at both edges of the sleeve, this means that there should be 27 increases worked over 88 rows (measurement x row gauge).

When working sleeve increases, you should never have an increase on either the first or the last row so the formula for spacing out the increases is worked a little differently than it was for the front decrease spacing. What we really need to find here is the number of spaces between the increases and between the beginning/ending edge of the fabric and the first/last increase.

adding "1" to the divisor to account for the spaces, rather than the increases, I'll divide 88 rows by 28 (not 27).
Adding “1” to the divisor to account for the spaces, rather than the increases, I’ll divide 88 rows by 28 (not 27).

You’ll finally get a chance to use that long division (with a slight twist) you learned in 3rd grade! You need to divide 27 (increases) into 88 (rows) except that, in order to avoid placing increases on the first/last rows, we’ll actually divide by 28, which is the number of spaces between/before/after the increases.

Now add 1 to the answer (3), which now becomes 4. Connect the new answer to the remainder below (which just happens to be 4 – could be anything). This tells us we will increase a 1stitch every fourth row four times (+1 4/R x 4).

division2-2

 

 

 

division2-3Hopefully you are still with me because it gets kind of weird now. Subtract the remainder (4) from the divisor (28), which equals 24. Then subtract the 1 you added in the first step. Connect the 3 and 23 to indicate that you also need to make an increase every third row 23 times (+1 3/R x 23).

Its easy to check the math on this. First multiply the frequency of the increase (3/R) by the number of times you should increase (23) and the answer is 69 rows. Do the same thing for the increases made every 4th row, four times, which equals another 16 rows. 69 + 16 = 85 rows. Perfect.

Double check by adding up the increases and the number of rows.
Double check by adding up the increases and the number of rows.

I have no idea why and how this is designed to work – I just trust that it does because math was never my strong subject in school. The formula always works. If you’d like a short cut, there are a couple of calculators on line that do all the figuring for you. So will Garment Designer or DAK if you use those programs. This link http://www.getknitting.com/ak_0603mfcalc.aspx will bring you right to an automatic magic formula calculator.

How you work the increases is up to you. Sometimes computer programs try to shuffle the increases for you so that you might do an increase every 4th row after having done so many of them every 3rd row. I find it confusing to work like that so I generally work all my 4th row increases first, then move on to the 3/R increases when there is such a huge difference between the number of times I do each. I work the 4/R increases first to start shaping the sleeve more gradually so it doesn’t suddenly balloon out around my wrist.

You can arrange the increases however it makes the most sense to you, but I can guarantee that nobody is ever going to say “she knitted this gorgeous sweater but when she worked the sleeves, you can tell she did all her 4th row increases first and then all the 3rd row increases instead of alternating them throughout….” Not going to happen. Nobody will notice – not even you.

I did extra neckline decreases on the front of this version, but didn't like the way the collar worked out with only 3" for the roll. Still more than wearable, but not quite perfect...
I did extra neckline decreases on the front of this version, but didn’t like the way the collar worked out with only 3″ for the roll. Still more than wearable, but not quite perfect…

Just a couple more thoughts on this basic sweater shape. You could make the front even wider if you’d like to increase the size of the collar. You do not have to make any front neckline decreases if you want the entire front to roll all the way to the lower edges. You can add buttonholes and buttons, pockets, cables or any other details you want. Instead of rib, try finishing the edges with I-cord.

Double check the length of the sleeve by measuring yourself from the center back neck to the cuff and then compare to the garment schematic, adding half the width of the back to the length of the sleeve. Don’t forget to figure the added length of the rib.

The red version was knitted with a wool/alpaca hand-dyed yarn that striped badly so I worked off two skeins at once, knitting two rows of one color and then the next. Without a color changer on my bulky, I relied on this nifty JacPac to hold the unused color out of the way. I liked on line and the only source I found was Metropolitan in the UK. Not sure if they still sell them or not.
The red version was knitted with a wool/alpaca hand-dyed yarn that striped badly so I worked off two skeins at once, knitting two rows of one color and then the next. Without a color changer on my bulky, I relied on this nifty JacPac to hold the unused color out of the way. I liked on line and the only source I found was Metropolitan in the UK. Not sure if they still sell them or not.

Try charting this sweater with your own gauge information. It really is an easy garment shape to modify and change. Keep in mind that the bulkier the yarn, the more ease you need to build into a garment so that it drapes and fits correctly. If you decide to make a really oversized (OS) version of this cardigan, remember that as the body pieces get wider, the sleeve gets shorter. I’ve knitted some OS garments that had sleeves only 8” long and more snug fitting to support the weight of the garment. Also, you might need to knit the back in two pieces with a seam – make it attractive or make it invisible!

I always block with wires and steam before assembling any garment.
I always block with wires and steam before assembling any garment.

I’d love to show some of your sweaters here on the blog. So – when you get a chance, brush your hair, put on some lipstick and get somebody to take a nice photo of you wearing your design. Email it to me as a jpeg and I’ll post it so other knitters can see what you’ve done! Until next time!