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!

Double Bed Drop Stitch

Drop Stitch

I’ve been busy these last few weeks. Spring has finally arrived here in CT, our new puppy, Arlo, keeps us on constant watch and I’ve been traveling for a couple of seminars. Had a great time with the guild in Minneapolis last month and the Knit Knack Shop this past weekend. Looking forward to the Knitting Cottage in PA in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, there will be an organizational meeting for the formation of a guild here in the northeast on April 22nd and I am teaching a beginners’ sweater class the weekend of May 20-21. There was more info in my newsletter, but if you didn’t get a copy, just email me and I will provide full details.

From my earliest days, working on Passap and Superba, I came to love drop stitch because it opens up an entirely different set of stitches and possibilities on any double bed machine.

First of all, you need to wrap your mind around the idea that a stitch can only drop to the point where it was cast on. I think many of us have been blithely knitting away on a double bed set up when we realize our sleeve caught an extra needle and nudged it into working position. When you drop that extra stitch off its needle, it only runs back to the point where it was caught up and began knitting. And when the stitches that it formed are released, they create larger stitches in the fabric. That is the basis for drop stitch.

In the video that accompanies this posting, I have begun by showing that extra stitch starting to knit and then tried to extend the concept to some basic variations.

First of all, you need to make sure that the needle arrangements and/or bed alignment will not place working needles directly across from each other. You either need to work with a 1×1 needle arrangement (for example) or the beds must be in half pitch.

Secondly, stitch size is really important. If the stitch size is too large, the carriage will be harder to push; if too small you may not be able to knit required rows on just the main bed. In short, experiment and try several variations before you settle on the final stitch sizes for both beds. I usually find that the stitch size on the ribber bed is much smaller (maybe half) of the stitch size I use on the main bed.

Depending on the effect you are trying to achieve, you will find that some yarns are more suitable than others because they retain the open structure, while others seem to allow the openness to spread to adjacent stitches and melt into the background. Obviously, highly textured yarns like mohair will be more apt to retain an open fabric while slippery rayon or smooth cottons will not. That might be a factor if you are trying to create a pattern of open blocks contrasting with solid knit, but wouldn’t matter if you were working row after row of enlarged stitches or Condo Stitch. Again, experiment and play a bit before committing to a whole project.

The yarn also affects how often you should release the ribber stitches from their needles. I never wait until the end of a project to drop all the stitches. Instead, I usually move the ribber carriage (alone) across the bed at regular intervals – every 10 or 20 rows – and give a tug on the fabric to make sure everything releases cleanly. It also provides an opportunity to separate the beds and check things out.

Silver Reed ribber manuals have directions for “Drive Lace” which is a patterned version of drop stitch with the main knitting on the ribber bed and the main bed (MB) used to select needles by punch card or electronics. In that case, the MB needles are released with a special little carriage, which, in the interest of time and space, I will show you in another post.

In this video, I brought groups of 5 needles on the ribber bed into work for a number of rows and then released the stitches from their needles to form squarish open areas in the fabric. However, if you began with 1 needle and then every two rows added one on each side of it; then dropped one at each side until back to a single stitch, you could easily create diamonds.

The carriages were much easier to push across the beds when I brought every-other-needle (EON) to work on the ribber bed than they were with full needle rib (FNR), but in the final fabric it is hard to tell one needle arrangement from the other because of the way the excess length is absorbed into the main bed stitches. You could also allow just every 10th (for ex) needle to knit for a vertical pattern. The possibilities are endless.

Purl side of Condo Stitch

The needle arrangement for condo stitch is FNR, but the ribber carriage knits in one direction and slips in the other, which means that the main bed stitch size must be suitable for stockinet, every other row-or slightly smaller than stockinet. I especially like the way this fabric looks on the purl side where you can plainly see huge rows alternating with much smaller rows. In hand knitting, this is accomplished by using two mismatched needles that differ greatly in size.

Apart from the decorative uses for drop stitch, it is great for producing rows (or groups) of huge stitches for various hand-manipulated stitches that require larger stitches than the carriage alone can produce. It is also the best way I know to knit stitches large enough for a loose, non-binding bind off!

I hope the video gets you thinking about drop stitch and that you have some fun playing with the possibilities. Next time, we’ll take a look at racked drop stitch.

 

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!

New Craftsy Class!!!!

11259_machine_knitting-hand-manipulated_stitches_susan_guagliumi29578_11227_11259So excited!

My third Craftsy class, Machine Knitting: Hand-Manipulated Stitches, has launched and I really hope you will all be as pleased with it as I am! Although the title of the class is similar to the title of my first book and the companion video, be assured that this is an entirely new class!

Use this link to bring you to the class on the Craftsy site and, when you check out, use this code (over on the right side) for 50% off: b93ebedf-370b-498d-9cf0-4.(Limit one per customer. Cannot be combined with any other offers). This code will expire in mid-January so check my web site for a new code after that date.

Once again, we used the LK-150 for this class because it is really the lowest common denominator for the greatest number of machines. There are just so many new knitters out there with no place to go for help that we have decided to focus on them. The experts and old hands are usually not quite as hungry for instruction, but I hope that even some of them find the material in this new class interesting and challenging!

The class is divided into six lessons that cover cables, short row intarsia, Bridging, re-hung stitches, traveling and twisted stitches and some open spaces (the topic of the book I am still working away on!). The class materials include all of the charts and instructions for the samples I work on screen and, once again, the camera work is incredible!

During the filming of the class, my producer decided to play “20 Questions” with me so that my students could begin to get to know me a bit. I hope you enjoy this clip!

 

Craftsy Class #2 is Up and Running!

I’m delighted to tell you that my second Craftsy.com class has launched! I’ve known the date for weeks, but was sworn to secrecy until the launch was official. You can watch the trailer for the class here and the link below will bring you right to the class page on Craftsy where you can purchase the class with a 50% discount – my thanks to you for following my blog and/or web site.

50% Class Discount

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the folks at Craftsy. They are professionals who are committed to producing the very best on-line learning experiences. It’s a lot of work – to be sure! – but the end results are so well worth it. You’ll feel like you are sitting right next to me at the machine because there won’t be anybody else blocking your view or asking all the questions. You might be wearing your pajamas and it might even be 3:00 AM, but I won’t mind a bit! That is the beauty of on-line learning! If you have questions, just click and type and I’ll get right back to you…..though probably not until my day begins.

While the first class was aimed at new (or returning) machine knitters (almost 4,000 of them so far!), the new class is focused on three very specific areas: using the garter bar, knitting intarsia and working entrelac with holding position. They are all skills that will help move you forward with your machine and instill new confidence in what it – and YOU – can do!

Over the weekend I drew the names of five lucky blog subscribers who have each won a free class. (One from the U.K., 1 from Scandinavia, 1 Canadian and 2 from the U.S. Quite the diverse group of machine knitters!)

I plan to do more drawings this year as a thank you to those of you who have subscribed to my blog. In fact, on May 30th I will be drawing three more names. Those winners will each receive a free copy of my book, Handmade for the Garden. So, if you haven’t actually subscribed to this blog, make sure you subscribe (over on the right where it says “subscribe”) before the next drawing so you will be eligible to win!I won’t share your information with anyone else, but you will get an email telling you whenever I post a new video or blog.

Hope you all enjoy the new class!

Exciting News!

Its a wrap!
Its a wrap!

I’ve been leaking hints for the last few weeks, but it is official: Machine Knitting Special Techniques: Color and Texture will be released by the end of May on Craftsy.com.

This is my second class for Craftsy and I have to say that I have loved working with them. The preparation that goes into a Craftsy class is amazing – with highly qualified people assigned to every step along the way. I feel very fortunate to have these opportunities come my way!

How is THIS for close-up detail?!
How is THIS for close-up detail?!

This class is divided into three sections. First, we take a look at the garter bar. To say that the close ups are amazing is an understatement! I think you will agree, once you see it, that it brings each step clearly into focus and makes the process of turning work over (for one) a whole lot more understandable.

Peruvian Dancer Intarsia Sweater pattern (in four sizes) is included in the lass materials.
Peruvian Dancer Intarsia Sweater pattern (in four sizes) is included in the lass materials.

The next section focuses on intarsia knitting and the last section on entrelac knitting. The projects included in the class materials include a cap with a shaped crown, an intarsia sweater with an unusual edging and an intarsia tunic.

I chose the Peruvian dancer motif for the intarsia sweater because I have always loved Peruvian textiles. In fact, the charts I included for practice pieces are also Peruvian inspired – a cat and a jaguar – that you could use on any garment.

I worked the intarsia designs with Lion Brand Superwash Merino, which is a DK weight that knits beautifully on mid-gauge and chunky machines. For the entrelac tunic, I used Lion Fisherman wool. All of my samples were worked on the LK150, but these are methods suitable for all machines. Garter bar, intarsia and entrelac are all methods that do not rely on fancy machines and are worked the same on all brands and gauges.

The class is due to launch at the end of May – I’ll let you know when I have an exact date. I plan to give away FIVE FREE CLASSES to subscribers of this blog so if you have been linking over from Facebook or Twitter, make sure you are subscribed to the blog itself so your name is included in the drawing.

The Farmyard series features wrap-around motifs. I love the ducks!
The Farmyard series features wrap-around motifs. I love the ducks!

Free Intarsia Patterns for Children!!! Because I have had intarsia on my mind a lot lately, I contacted Vogue Knitting and was able to get permission to offer the children’s patterns I did for Family Circle Easy Knitting Magazine as free downloads on my web site. Just go to the “Free Stuff” page and look for Farmyard or Reptile Sweaters. You should blow up the charts when you print them out – magazines always try to save space and these were long patterns with lots of visuals. The charts are small.

 

The beginner class met in mid-april - a great group that hit it off right away - with each other and with me!
The beginner class met in mid-april – a great group that hit it off right away – with each other and with me!

Still time to enroll in a class here in Connecticut! 

The two classes I offered here in Connecticut are over or full, but the local Recreation Department, which is sponsoring the classes, has added another 2-day class on Saturday/Sunday, May 21 & 22. The cost is $150 and includes lunch both days – and dinner at my house on Saturday night. To register, contact the North Branford Rec Dept at 203-484-6017.

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Spring!