I love using a backstitched bind off to finish sweaters for children because it allows the neckline to stretch easily over their heads and then the edge returns to shape. This is important because I almost always knit my neckline ribs by picking up the short-rowed neckline and then work the rib from there. This means that the bind off needs to be especially stretchy and this method is much easier to control than any of the other bind offs you could choose. I use this for adult sweaters too – but especially for kids.
To make sure the edge is kid-friendly, I follow the ribbing with 8-10 rows of stockinette (usually 1 stitch size smaller than regular stockinette), leaving a tail about 2-3 times the width of the piece to use for the backstitched bind off. The stockinette rolls and hides the bind off completely.The fabric will roll towards the machine so work this edge with the wrong side of the garment facing you.
The backstitched bind off looks a lot like an e-wrap cast on so you might want to pair the two in a garment. You could also start the lower edge on waste and go back later to work the rib and rolled stockinette. Check out the two series of children’s sweaters that I did for Family Circle Easy Knitting to see how these edges look in a garment. All of those patterns are now available as free downloads on my web site, www.guagliumi.com.
You can work this bind off directly from the needles, in hold or working position, or you can scrap off and work it later if you prefer. Pull the yarn through each stitch just enough to eliminate any sloppy loops – no tighter and you won’t have any problems controlling the stretchiness.
Remember that each stitch is worked twice – first from back to front and lastly from front to back.
Have you subscribed to this blog yet? Do it soon because I will be giving away 5 free Craftsy classes later this month!!
If your machine has a ribber, you probably don’t have a lot of use for a double latch tool. However, if you use a single bed machine, you’ll find a double latch tool can save you lots of time. Initially, it might feel a little clumsy to use, but, like anything else, once you get going a double latch tool is a wonderful thing to have!
Double latch tools make it much faster to re-form stitches for 1×1 or 2×2 rib, whether you want a ribbed band or just some columns or blocks of rib stitches in the body of a garment. The latch hooks need to be spaced for the gauge of your machine and they all work pretty much the same way. Here are some tips for success:
First of all, Insert the tool at the bottom of the columns of stitches you plan to drop and then drop the stitches from the needles above, rather than dropping the stitches and then fishing around for the stitches. It is much safer and a lot less frustrating, but you also have greater control over how far down the stitches drop.
Keep plenty of downward tension on the ladder of stitches you are reforming so that the individual bars do not split as you work them.
Push the tool just far enough away from you to make sure the “old” stitches open the latches and slide back over them. Catch the next bars of the ladder in the hooks of the tool and pull just hard enough to make sure the old stitches are pulled over the latches to form the new stitches. If you look at the video carefully, you will see that the surrounding stitches move very little, which is how it should be. You don’t want to start distorting adjacent stitches.
When you work with a single latch tool, the last stitch is transferred from the tool to a needle on the bed by hooking the tool onto the needle. This isn’t possible (at least not easily!) when using a double latch tool. Instead, when you reach the top of the column, hold the tool above the edge of the bed and just poke the needles through the back of each stitch. Make sure you keep some tension on the tool so that the stitches are easier to see and easier for the needles to enter. Once you poke the needles through the back of the stitches, you can just remove the tool.
Back in the day (as they say), many knitting machines came with double latch tools, although they were usually standard gauge machines – both European and Japanese. The hooks projected straight out from the end of the handle. At www.guagliumi.com I have double latch tools for 2×2 rib for 4.5, 6.5 and 9 mm machines, tools for 1×1 rib for 6.5 and 9mm machines. I designed these tools with the metal perpendicular to the wooden handle because I find the much easier to work with – I hope you do too!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I really think that ribbing is often over-used and not always appropriate for the garment in question. I understand that once people invest in a ribber, they want to make use of it, but ribbers are capable of much more interesting things than just bands at hip and cuff. And, surely there are edgings and bands more suitable to delicate lace knitting than an inch and a half of 1 x 1 ribbing. For me, the answer is often the I-Cord Bind Off.
This is a fabulous edging that can be worked on any machine (even simple ones like the LK-150) and it produces a beautiful, hand-crafted edge every time.
You are probably familiar with I-cord knitting, where you set the carriage to knit in one direction and slip in the other (doesn’t matter which is which). The yarn that floats across the back of the 3 (or 4) cord stitches when the carriage slips actually gets absorbed into the other stitches as you pull down on the knitting, forming a perfectly round cord. The float disappears and because its length is absorbed by the other stitches, it is usually a good idea to knit I-cord with a slightly smaller stitch size than you might use for stockinette so that the cord stitches are not big and sloppy.
The I-Cord Bind Off is worked exactly the same way except that all of the garment edge stitches (or the picked up selvage edge) are also on the machine, but in holding position. By transferring the nearest stitch from holding position to the adjacent working needle, one stitch is bound off as you work two passes (1 actual row) of the I-cord.
The cord seems to join the fabric more neatly if it is worked with the right side of the fabric facing you. If the purl side is the right side, you don’t need to do anything. If, However, the knit side is supposed to be the right side, scrap off or use a garter bar and re-hang with the knit side facing you.
You do need to keep moving the 3 (or 4) I-cord stitches over closer to the needles in hold and although most people do this with every transfer, I often do it every two transfers as shown in the tutorial because it is faster.
When working the cord around corners, you might want to make a decrease and then 4 passes of the carriage (2 actual rows) for the last repeat on one edge and the first on the next. This will ensure that the corner doesn’t flatten out.
To work an I-cord edging all around – including the cast-on edge – begin and end on waste yarn so that you can rehang live stitches, rather than a cast-on or bound-off edge. It will be neater and if the yarn is very soft or stretchy, you may also want to double a couple of stitches as you re-hang them to keep the work from spreading sideways.
When picking up side (selvage) edges, try to always pick up either a full stitch (my preference) or a half stitch (if you prefer) throughout. Also, just pick up 3 of every 4 stitches along the edge to make sure you don’t stretch and elongate the edge.
In addition to working a single cord around the edge of a garment, you can work multiple rows of I-cord by picking up and re-hanging the previous I-cord on the needles as I did in the photo at left.
I-cord is also a great way to seam garments (or afghans!) if you re-hang the two garment pieces with their wrong sides together as I did in the beige cardigan at left. Just make sure that both sleeves are rehung the same way because there is a definite right and wrong side to the way the cord adjoins the garment. That is, if you re-hang the first side with the back shoulder first and the front on top of it, make sure the second shoulder is re-hung the same way.
Quite recently I designed a fun, easy pattern for felted slippers, based on a hand knit pattern that a Norwegian friend shared with me. Worked every-other-needle on a mid-gauge or bulky machine with Cloudborn Bulky Wool Twist, they felted perfectly – and I think they look fabulous.
The pattern includes 3 sizes – the smallest size is suitable for children and you can always felt a second or third time for more shrinkage. This pattern is available for purchase ($4.00) on either Craftsy.com or Revelry.com. Right now I am trying to find the time to finish up a sweet, striped baby sweater using Cloudborn Superwash Merino Sport and once that pattern is written and proofed four times, it will also be available on both Craftsy and Ravelry.
I’m often a little skeptical of mail-ordering yarn, but the Cloudborn yarns are extremely high quality and I have loved the four different yarns that I have worked with so far. Besides, I like to shop in my PJ’s and then wait for UPS to show up with boxes!
My Craftsy affiliate link http://www.craftsy.com/ext/SusanGuagliumi_Cloudborn will bring you right to the page with all of the Cloudborn yarns. And, by the way, no. None of them are available on cones, but who cares?! Invest in an inexpensive ball winder and enjoy working with some really gorgeous stuff.
Even though I really, truly love hand manipulated stitches, I don’t like taking longer than necessary to get things done and usually find myself thinking of ways to streamline various motions so I get a better “economy of motion” out of them.
I can assure you I am not the only one who works full fashioned increases and decreases as I’ve shown in the video, but I thought it was worth showing for all the new knitters out there who are working on their own and don’t have many opportunities to watch experienced knitters work at a machine. If you are an experienced knitter and find yourself thinking “I know this stuff already”, bear with me and take pity on the newbies!
Full fashioned increases will look exactly the same on the knit side whether you work them with a 2-prong tool and then pick up the purl bar to fill the empty needle – or you work them as I do with a 3-prong tool. In this case, it isn’t about the way things look. Rather,the smoothest, fastest way of dispensing with those increases as you work your way up a sleeve.
The decrease that I show on the video is an important one to understand and not the way full fashioned decreases are shown in any knitting machine manual I’ve ever seen. They usually just show a 1-step decrease where 3 stitches are removed and shifted one needle to the left (or right) to make the decrease.
The 2-step decrease always maintains the same stitch on the front of the fabric which creates a strong decrease line along the edge of the fabric. If this 2-step method is also used when making transfers for lace designs, for example, it produces a totally different effect on the knit side of the fabric than does a 1-step decrease. This one-versus-two step decrease is the main thing that defines machine knitted lace and accounts for the difference between hand and machine knitted lace patterns.
Lace carriages always do a 1-step decrease because they are not generally capable of transferring two stitches at the same time, as they would need to do for a 2 step decrease. And, quite frankly, the hand knit equivalent of a 2-step decrease is very common in hand knitting patterns. You can, however, work 2-step decreases into hand-manipulated lace (and other transfer) patterns.
Compare the two photos above. The decreases on both samples were worked with a 3-prong tool. You should notice right away that the 2-step decreases formed a sharp line along the edge of the fabric, while the standard method produced a sort of “feathered” line. Also, there are just 2 stitches between the standard decs and the edge of the fabric; there are 3 stitches between the 2-step decs and the edge of the fabric. This would account for the decreases being spaced a little further from, say, a raglan seam.
The every-other-needle or EON tool is one of my favorites. In addition to transferring stitches for row after row of eyelets, you can also use it to knit baby basket weave – a twisted stitch pattern made up of lots of 1×1 crossed or twisted stitches. If you own a copy of Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters (HMS, which really doesn’t stand for Her Majesty’s Stitches even tho I may have said differently from time to time….) there is a discussion of baby basket weave that starts on page 93.
To knit an all-over eyelet pattern like the one at left, you could transfer all the alternate stitches individually, but it would take a very, very long time to complete a sweater. With the EON tool, you can transfer 8 stitches at a time and the work goes fairly fast (in terms of hand manipulations). One thing to keep in mind for an all-over grid like this, you should transfer alternate sets of stitches each time. Otherwise, if you always transfer the same set of stitches, the eyelets will form in columns.
The way I keep track of which set of stitches to use is pretty simple. I choose the first needle on the right of zero the first time – and all the alternate needles – and I transfer those stitches to the adjacent needles at right. After knitting two rows, I make sure the next selection in includes the first needle at the left of zero and I transfer those stitches to the left. If you lose track, you should be able to tell what you did last by looking at the way the stitches slant.
Apart from looking neat and even, alternating the direction of the transfers will guard against the fabric biasing, as it might if all the transfers were made the same way. Why chance it?
I use the same system of selecting needles to knit baby basket weave. The stitches are twisted (or, in this case, shifted) every two rows and the direction of the twists and the needles selected alternates each time. By choosing alternate needles/stitches each time, it effectively takes care of the “splitting pairs” needed to create woven and braided cable effects. Splitting pairs, coupled with alternating the direction of the crossing/twisting is what gives this fabric the woven effect. The same two rules also apply when crossing cables of any width: splitting pairs and alternating the direction of the crosses will create woven or braided effects.
If stitches 1 and 2 cross 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 cross 7 and 8 the first time, the next time you cross cables, 3 and 4 will cross 5 and 6. That is what is meant by splitting pairs. And, in this example, stitches 1-2 and 7-8 would not be used at all in the second row of crosses.
Because so many adjacent stitches are crossing, you must enlarge the stitch size by at least one full number from where the yarn usually knits a comfortable stockinette. Otherwise, the stitches will be very tight and difficult to cross (i.e. dropped and broken stitches) and the fabric will have even less give than it does – which isn’t a lot. This is a very firm, stable fabric.
EON tools for 6.5mm and 9mm machines are available at www.guagliumi.com. For standard gauge machines, you can use an adjustable 7-prong tool. If you own a Passap or Superba, Passap used to make an adjustable (5 mm) transfer tool that is well worth having if you can find one. You can pull the prongs out of the holder and re-set them in whatever order you want. Do I ever wish those were available in all gauges!
(By the way – I really DO plan to post more often than I have been doing lately, but I have been busier than I can describe getting ready to teach a very special class in Denver next month……)
Lately I have done more machine repairs than in all the years I’ve been knitting. The equipment is getting older (aren’t we all?) and plastic and sponge don’t do too well with age and dryness. In January I replaced the entire sinker plate – the base part of the bed in my 860 because I kept feeling needles knock in the exact same spot. That was a major repair that required taking apart the entire machine. Thank goodness for numbered egg cartons and digital cameras to get it all back together with no parts left over!
In the last month I have replaced the handles on both my SK860 and my SK840 machines. They just crumbled in my hands. So, I’ve been doing an inventory of what parts I think might need replacing anytime soon and started ordering them in.
Those of us using Silver Reed products are lucky -as most of the machines are still being made and the parts are available. If you have a machine that is long out of production, keep an eye out for a machine you can strip for parts when the time comes – as it will. The very best machines for parts are the ones that lived in a box under somebody’s bed where light and air couldn’t age them!
Last year, I was gifted a Brother Bulky and one of the first things I did was to replace the sponge bar. A bad sponge bar can cause all kinds of problems from needles that won’t stay in hold or be too sloppy to make easy transfers or cables to needles that balk at passing through the pathways under the carriage and cause knocking and jamming. It isn’t just the needles that get damaged – the inner workings of the machines take a hit as well.
This past week I changed the sponge in my LK-150. I was working on some samples for a special project (more on that soon!) and realized I was having to really fuss to make a simple 3-prong transfer. The old sponge looks like refrigerator gasket and I had to peel it out of the trough!
In order to change a sponge on theLK-150 you need to remove all the needles (yes), lay in the new sponge and then replace the needles one by one. Definitely worth the trouble! The machine has been purring ever since. While I was ordering the new sponge, I also ordered an extra base for both the row counter and the tension mast so I could move them to either side of the bed. Being able to move the row counter around makes it so much easier to keep track of rows when dividing necklines and having an extra tension mast is never a bad idea.
For parts, I always recommend Needle-tek in Washington State. Their web site isn’t great, but you can check them out at www.needle-tek.com or just call and ask for what you need from Bea and Jerry Carriere. Their phone is 360-892-2304. If they don’t have what you need, I’m not sure who does!
These twisted stitches are less suitable for traveling stitch patterns, but it is possible to twist 3 stitches with a pair of tools. Instead of twisting every two rows, however you should only twist every 4-6 rows so the stitches have time to recover. These twisted stitches look like columns of swirled cables – or rotini macaroni! (They are shown at the end of the 3/4/16 post video.)
The gold sweater at left was worked with rotini twists, outlined by latched up tuck stitches (see previous blogs) and finished with the Judith Duffy Cabled trim (another favorite). The sweater appeared in issue #34 of Knitter’s Magazine (Spring 1994) with machine knit directions. You might be able to find a back issue of the magazine and I am hoping to re-knit the sweater one of these days (with a current yarn) and will make that pattern available as a freebie on the web site – once I find a little more free time!
In the meantime, I have included a PDF chart for the twist/tuck pattern that you can download. The original twisted the stitches every 3 rows, but I think it looks better every 4. Try it both ways and decide for yourself.
As for the tuck stitches, you can reform them at the end of every repeat or use a ribber. Because the pattern shifts from one repeat to the next, the ribber may not be much faster than latching by hand and you may find (as do I ) that the ribber gets in the way. Have fun!