Seashell Nops and More!

This blog is the last follow-up to the posts about popcorns, incorporating short rows into the bridging to build raised textures. You’ll notice that I didn’t even bother to wrap most of the rows as I short rowed the examples in this video, but let me caution you that this may be influenced positively or negatively by the yarn you choose to knit fabrics like these. I tend to work with a lot of 100% wool, which “blooms” or fills out the stitches when the finished fabric is washed. You may find that a non-blooming yarn like 100% acrylic does not fill out the stitches as cleanly and would require more wrapping to produce a finished looking fabric. As always, sample, sample, sample!

The “seashell nops” are shown on page 41 of More Hand-Manipulated Stitches and the raised ruffle, which is a variation of the nops, is featured on page 42. There are two main differences between these fabrics: First of all, the nops were worked with 4 rows between repeats, while the ruffle includes only 2 plain rows between repeats. Also, the nops were completed by picking up a stitch from the first row and hanging it on the needle above to prevent the openings from gaping; There are no lifted stitches in the ruffled fabric. Both fabrics alternate repeats from the left and right.

The triangular nops (page 47 of MHMS) and the stegosaurus cables (page 48 MHMS) are first cousins. Both are short rowed as if to create tiny sock heels but the nops are completed by lifting the first row and hanging the stitches on the needles above, while the stegosaurus cable is completed by crossing a 3 x 3 cable. The way the cables sit on the surface of the fabric varies depending on which way the cables are crossed. If the cables always cross to the right (or left), all of the raised bumps will slant the same way. If you alternate the direction of the crossing each time, the texture will alternate right and left. You could probably add further variations by working some plain rows across all the needles before crossing the cable or by working more complex cable crossings.

There are endless possibilities for creating short rowed textures within bridged fabrics and there are a number of them in MHMS and in Open Spaces, but there are still lots of discoveries waiting to be made by knitters who wonder “what would happen if I ……..”

3 and 5 Stitch Popcorns

In my last posting I covered some basic 2-stitch popcorns. However, sometimes, 2-stitches are just not enough to create bigger, more dramatic effects so this time we will take a  look at methods for knitting 3 and 5-stitch popcorns by machine. This video is even longer than the last – nearly 15 minutes – which is about 10 minutes longer than I had intended.Try to stay awake!

The first 3-stitch popcorns are worked exactly like the 2-stitch version we did last time, but I don’t think that this method produces very round popcorns. To my eye, they tend to look a little more like tucks or pleats, which might be fine for your purposes. I mean, nobody else looks at every stitch as closely as you do when you’re knitting it.

The 5-stitch popcorns are much, much bigger than the 2-stitch version.

The next version of 3-stitch popcorns utilizes a method I call “borrowing needles” by removing the stitches onto a stitch holder and then, well, borrowing the needles for a bit. Ultimately, the original stitches are returned to their needles and nobody is any the wiser. Being able to do this borrowing increases the potential for all kinds of methods so I hope you will try it.

The borrowed needles technique is essential for working 5-stitch popcorns, which eventually leads to the method for knitting raised flower petals. All of these methods are shown in More-Hand Manipulated Stitches. The 3-stitch method is on page 39; the 5-stitch popcorns begin on page 77 and the flower petals on page 80.

Flower petals are knitted like the 5-stitch popcorns but there is no lifting involved.
A cluster of flower petals almost looks like a bunch of grapes!

Time marches on and here we are on the cusp on another perfectly good New Year. I hope nobody does anything to screw up that perfection for you and that it is a healthy, happy year full of precious time with family and friends and, of course, your knitting machines.

Peek-A-Boo Purple Pullover

While I was working on Open Spaces: Machine Knit Eyelets, Ladders and Slits, I actually found a little time here and there to get some real knitting done. I fell in love with this effect when I was writing the chapter about slits and knitted all the pieces for this sweater (and half of another one!) at a knitting retreat I attended with members of the San Francisco Machine Knitting Guild in the early spring. I packed up my yarn, borrowed an LK-150 and spent two wonderful days knitting dawn to dusk , visiting with other knitters and discussing clothes, wine and everything under the sun while we worked. The weekend was perfect and complete with hummingbirds and delicious meals at the Sonoma Orchid Inn. I could get used to that life!

I’ve added a pattern for this sweater to the Free Stuff on my website. Be sure to use the link you were sent when you registered for the newsletter to bring you right to the downloads page – it is the only way to get there!

The pattern includes all the stitch and schematic charts and basic knitting directions. You can knit this fabric by using bridging and bridge bars, holding position to knit each side separately or intarsia to work both sides at the same time. Without re-writing the whole chapter on slits, I’ve tried to give enough direction to help you knit your own sweater. I recommend that you try a sample first to get used to the method and immodestly suggest that you check out the chapter on Slits if you need more guidance and specific information. You’ll discover lots more great ideas in all three chapters!

 

 

Chinese Knots

Chinese Knot Stitch

Chinese Knot Stitch is still one of my favorite stitches. It was one of the first hand-manipulated stitches (HMS) that I developed and it represents a fusion of my years as a hand weaver and my introduction to the knitting machine. It is shown in black and white on page 110 of Hand-Manipulated Stitches and in color on page 25 of More HMS. There are also stitch charts in those texts.

Much like cables, the stitches change places, but in this case they weave through each other, rather than crossing. As you can see in the first video (above), I pair a 2-prong transfer tool with a latch tool, rather than using two 2-prong tools.

The two right-most stitches are removed on the transfer tool and then the latch tool weaves through them, over and under, to catch the stitch on the third needle. That stitch is released from its needle and pulled through the other two. Then it is placed on the first needle at the right.

Next, weave the latch tool through the two stitches again, but go over (or in front of) the stitch you passed behind the last time and then pull the 4th stitch through and placer it on the second needle.

Finally, return the two stitches from the transfer tool to the remaining two empty needles at left.

Depending on the yarn and the stitch size, you might be able to pull all of this off without having to change the size of the stitches. My experience has been that when the stitches are too small, the effect is more of an ugly little knot on the surface of the fabric, rather than a decorative knot, which is what we are after.

In the video, I enlarged the stitches by knitting them all the way back to the rail, which might be a bit of over-kill. Chances are you could just enlarge them a bit by increasing the stitch size on the carriage (see video below – a real Blast from the Past! -to do this) or by manually knitting the needles half way back to the rail. You will need to experiment on your swatch.

If, however, you only knit needles part way back to the rail, you need to push them out to holding position (HP) before moving the carriage so that their butts do not knock/jam the carriage. When needles are knitted back flush to the rail, make sure they do not inch forward and, if they do, just push them to HP.

Theoretically, non-working position (NWP) can also be used as a holding position, but it will depend on your machine, the yarn, whether you knit them back carefully, the weather, your height and weight and your political beliefs. In short – there are no guarantees so go slowly!

Over the next few months, I plan to do many blogs highlighting the stitches and techniques from all of my books and many (if not most) of them rely on the use of Bridging. It is my Go-To technique. This new video demonstrates how Bridging is used to manually enlarge stitches, while the video below, which was released to promote my first book, focuses mainly on Bridging with the stitch dial to affect stitch size.

Bridging is essential to much of what I do on the machine so as I share various techniques with you in future blogs, return to these videos for clarification when I do not specifically call out the Bridging steps involved in those techniques.

Enlarging Stitches – really HUGE stitches!

I usually rely on Bridging (or double bed drop stitch) to create enlarged stitches across a row – either increasing the stitch size or hand-knitting specific needles back to non-working position. I covered Bridging in my first book and dedicated the entire second book to the subject. I think it is the most important thing to know for opening up the possibilities on any machine!

I demonstrated Bridging in the video that Taunton Press produced to accompany Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters and posted the section on Bridging on my YouTube channel (Susan Guagliumi). If you have my Hand Manipulated Stitches Craftsy class, I explain it there as well.

I have to say that I got a chuckle out of watching the YouTube version the other day when I got to the part where I definitively say “these are the largest stitches you can form on a single bed machine”. Ha! It was just 1989 and although I knew full well that double bed drop stitch would allow me to form enormous stitches, I really hadn’t yet begun experimenting with other options for single bed knitting.

In some earlier posts, I presented some YouTube videos by a Russian knitter named Elena Luneva. She uses a similar method to produce enlarged stitches and loops and I recommend you taking a good look at her work as well.  The more tricks you have at your disposal, the less likely you are to be frustrated by the :limitations” of the machine!

Instead of just hand knitting the needles back to non-working position, I eventually figured out that I could pass the yarn around a gauge of some sort before hand knitting each needle back to the rail. The larger the gauge, the larger the stitches I can form. You have the option of wrapping the yarn around your gauge and then knitting each needle back to working position – or all the way to non-work. You could also wrap the yarn around the gauge twice for each stitch.

In this video, I have used a size 13 wooden knitting needle and a standard desk rules as gauges. There are all kinds of things you can use for a gauge and the size of the gauge also helps determine the size stitches you can make.

You will find that the first few wraps and needles knitted back are awkward to manage. You can use a paper clip or an elastic band to help stabilize the gauge if you want to – I usually find that they get in my way so I struggle through the first few (as I did on the video) until the first few stitches help to stabilize the gauge and make it easier to hold onto.

You will find that the stitches drop more easily and evenly if you have a well-weighted comb inserted in the lower edge of the fabric. Also, try to always wrap the yarn around the gauge the same way each time so none of the final stitches is twisted or crossed.

Believe me, I would not advocate working an entire garment like this, but for occasional rows of a special texture, this method is worth trying. For knitters who work on single bed machines and cannot rely on double bed drop stitch, this method opens up all kinds of possibilities!

 

The Very First HMS Video

I decided it would be fun for the first post on this new blog to start with a clip from the video that was produced to accompany the book, Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters back in 1990. I have to say that it is kind of strange seeing myself as a 30-something on the screen and then facing 60-something me in the mirror! Enjoy this younger version because the videos I have planned for future posts will certainly feature a more mature version of Susan!