Category Archives: Knitting

Vertical stranding, oh my!

Would you just look at these simple but stunning vertical lines across your knitting project!?

I receive the weekly review newsletter from Knitting Daily, Interweave, and a photo of the blue-grey swatch with four lines across it caught my eye. There’s a blog article Learn Something New: Vertical Stranding to go with the video and while it is a sneak peek of a workshop, I thought I’d post it. Even I could do this and it’s huge bang for the buck, wouldn’t you say?

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Code: Armonika Cowl – A fraction made

NWF Code Armonika - Casting on front

Code: Armonika Cowl – Right side

The yarn for my Code: Armonika Cowl arrived yesterday and I couldn’t wait to cast on. It’s an aran-weight yarn, 100% merino wool extrafine superwash, and while softer than the plum-coloured blue-faced leicester used in my Hurricane Hat, much splittier.

On the other hand, the fabric is less “fibre-y” (not sure you can call it halo in this case) and somehow slightly thicker, too. That could be because this isn’t stockinette, though. Here it is on the wrong side:

NWF Code Armonika - Casting on back

Code: Armonika Cowl – Wrong side

As you can see, there are five knit ridges on the front and only four on the back side. When I couldn’t see this in the pattern yet, I just remembered where the tail was; in the left corner on the right side.

I’m also still referring to the pattern, so the row counter is handy to keep dangling on the cable as long as I haven’t learned to read off of what I’ve made so far.

The pattern is written for straight needles, but I don’t have access to mine currently. It’s a bit more cumbersome to knit on circular needles, but progress is more important to me at this point.

The only place where I stumbled were the two first rows. I cast on with the main yarn and made the first purl row with the tail of the cast on, since I didn’t get what waste yarn meant. Luckily I referred to some project photos by Ravelry members and saw more than one picture with yarns in two colours.

A kind soul had mentioned seaming and Kitchener stitches, which led me to put two and two together. Rip it, rip it… Only an inch or so, though! And it’s forgotten now :) This is a very fun pattern!

Code: Armonika Cowl – Casting on

There’s a free pattern on Ravelry for a cowl called Code: Armonika and unfortunately I can’t post a photo, since it’s copyrighted, but here’s to say I’m casting on today, woohoo!

In the meantime, you can look at the yarn I’ll use.

NWF Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran

Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in Mustard

The colour is Mustard and it’s best described as the basic Dijon with a nice dash of beige to tone down the intense yellow. It’s difficult to photograph and the best effort is what I’m showing here.

Happy Friday to everyone! What are you working on right now?

I have a hurricane

NWF Hurricane hat 1

Indeed, my hurricane hat is done! I still love fabrics more than yarn, but having nice experiences for a change (will never forget those horrible projects of my childhood when we had to make one more awful than the other in school) certainly helps knitting climb up the ladder of my preferred methods in crafts.

Since I’m so excited about perhaps still being able to use the hat before spring has finally arrived, here’s another photo for you:

NWF Hurricane hat 2

The last few rounds of decreasing were interesting to say the least, with as large as 5 mm needles. I also wondered how on earth I’d be able to close the hole neatly, but a tuck here and a tightening there resulted in an eye of the hurricane. Not bad for a first hat! Most of all I’m pleased about my knitting becoming more even and I already have a few ideas for next project (no yarn, though).

Hurricane head

NWF Hurricane hat - Progress 1

Hurricane Hat

I’m so excited to show what I’ve been working on that I’ll post the preludes another day and go straight to my project now! It’s the Hurricane Hat, a pattern by Andrea Goutier, who blogs at Love, Hestia. The pattern came up in an advanced search of the Ravelry pattern database and caught my attention because of the swirls.

The yarn is an Aran-weight Blue Faced Leicester in plum colour by Debbie Bliss, 75 metres per 50 g. It’s pleasant to knit with and I wouldn’t mind using it again, as it doesn’t seem too itchy against my skin either.

NWF Hurricane hat - Yarn

Plum-coloured aran-weight Blue Faced Leicester, Debbie Bliss

While the pattern is written for worsted (aka aran) yarn and 4.5 mm needles, I decided to go up a size and use 5 mm needles, which is also the recommendation on the yarn label. My head is larger than an average female size and doing a test run of the hat knitted so far makes me convinced it will fit nicely.

I have some old circular needles that are impossibly difficult to use, so in the bag went not only two balls of yarn on sale, but Addi circular needles, as well. They are a dream to use and I even get to practice the magic-loop method, since they are on the longer side.

Now there’s less than an inch left to knit until I can start decreasing and in the meantime I need to buy double-point needles. I just can’t believe how quickly a hat like this knits, it seems so complicated but truly is a beginner pattern!

Craftsy Knit Lab

Craftsy - Stefanie Japel - Knit LabI took advantage of some great discounts before Christmas and enrolled in the Craftsy class Knit Lab with Stefanie Japel. Basic knitting is something I learned in school and since then I’ve made a handful of projects. Reading patterns was beyond my capabilities and even basic increases were something I had no idea of how to do; they look so complicated! Being a visual learner, a Craftsy class turned out to be just what I needed and around the holidays I made quite a few small samples.

The first one is the Lace Scarf project and as you can see it’s really not a whole scarf, but I chose to leave it at the sample stage. The knitting is on the wobbly side thanks to me being glued to the tv whilst knitting the garter-stitch section.

NWF Craftsy Knit Lab - Lace Scarf Sampler

Casting on, knitting, purling, casting off, and weaving in ends are skills that I already had, but beginners will learn them during the course. Basic lace knitting  looks difficult but it turns out it’s just knitting and purling! Complex-sounding stitches such as garter stitch, stockinette, seed stitch, and ribbing are all variations of knits and purls, so sign up if you want to learn more.

Making button holes or key holes looks even trickier, but again it’s just a few new moves with the same basic stitches. Sewing two pieces together is like “normal” sewing by hand, and finally, blocking the fabric with steam to make it flatter was also new to me. That’s where I need to pay more attention when I make a “real” project, though, because it’s easy to flatten the fabric too much.

Unfortunately, the yarn I used for the swatch of seed stitch variations is much too fuzzy to photograph nicely, but the interesting stuff happens elsewhere, in the increases and decreases.

NWF Craftsy Knit Lab - Increases

The first swatch, yarn over, starts from just a few stitches and grows out into a fan. Isn’t it decorative? The second is called knit front and back, whereas the third is made from paired increases, right- and left-lifted increases.

Finally, in the fourth swatch there are three ways of “making one” (the stitch is called make 1). From right to left, they are “twisted loop”, “lifting the bar knit-wise”, and “lifting bar and twisting it”. I think I made up those names, but you’ll get them when you see the video. I should add that I improvised the layout of this last swatch, because there wasn’t a particular pattern for it; hence the tilting lines of increases.

All these increases have their place in constructing fabrics for garments and now it’s no hindrance to tackle more challenging projects.

While I used another yarn for the decreases, the weight is approximately the same and you can see the swatches are much smaller, since they started from around 16 stitches.

NWF Craftsy Knit Lab - Decreases

The first swatch is a paired decrease with two stitches being knit together through the back loop on the right side of the stitch marker (placed in the middle) and two stitches being knit together through the front loop on the left side of the marker. This results in those tilted stripes on both sides of the “central spine”, which happen when you knit stitches together. I simply kept knitting until there were no more stitches to knit, after which the casting off began.

The second decrease is slip slip knit on the right side of the middle and a knit two together on its left side. It’s clearly tighter than the first decrease, but perhaps slightly more decorative.

The rest of the Knit Lab class is more theory than practice, so I moved on to knitting in the round. Based on my positive experience in this class I had the guts to start making a hat from knits and purls, but I needed the confidence built during swatching. I highly recommend this class if knitting gives you cold feet.

Petroleum scarf finished – Basket weave pattern

NWF Petroleum scarf

I actually finished the petroleum basket-weave scarf before New Year’s Eve. The knitting was done a few weeks before deadline, but it was only during the holidays that I weaved in the ends. Seems like this task is one that I’ll have to get done right after knitting or the ends will just sit there, making it impossible to use the item.

As a project it was great because I made up the pattern myself and toward the end there was less wobbliness over the basket weave as well as in the selvedges of the fabric. If I had to do it all over, I’d pick a lighter yarn because this one is quite chunky. No harm done, though; winter will always arrive on my Northern latitude.

Pattern for basket weave scarf:

  • Cast on 40 stitches of a mid-weight yarn (or however many stitches you like in multiples of 10).
  • Usually the first needle after casting on is the wrong side of the fabric, but in this case it’s easier to make it the right side. Place a stitch marker (with a loop you can open later) or keep track of the yarn tail if you like a visual aid.
  • Knit 5, purl 5. Repeat three times if you cast on 40 stitches.
  • Purl 5, knit 5. Repeat until the end of the needle.
  • To create the basket weave with clear edges, you need to make at least one more row than you made horizontal stitches in the “rectangle”; in this case six rows since there are five horizontal stitches per rectangle. You keep knitting the pattern above for six needles in total.
  • If you want to create a taller rectangle than mine, knit two more rows so you end up with a 5 x 8 rectangle rather than 5 x 6.
  • Purl 5, knit 5 for each rectangle on the front of the fabric.
  • Knit 5, purl 5 on the wrong side of the fabric.
  • This creates the opposite pattern or a “backwards rectangle”. Where there are knit rectangles on the front the six first rows, there will now be purl rectangles.
  • Keep knitting until you run out of yarn or are satisfied with the length of your scarf.
  • Weave in the loose ends and sew the scarf ends together if you want to make a cowl. This pattern is great in that both sides of the fabric end up looking the same.

Long time no see

Time flies and I seem to suck at keeping what I sort-of-promise. A promise in the not-so-new-anymore year 2014 is not to make them when I can’t keep ’em or in other words “Show, don’t tell!” and simply accept that a Schedule isn’t always going to work.

So. What’s been going on? Lots of things. And the latest twisty turn is that I don’t have access to a sewing machine for a few months from now, but instead I can drool over the occasional Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine – like this:

Love Patchwork and Quilting

Love Patchwork and Quilting – Issue 5

It brightened my day yesterday and as usual it’s full to the brim of fabricky deliciousness. There are so many fresh, new ideas that it’s positively vexing not to be able to put the rotary cutter to work right away!

Instead I’ve turned to knitting and have learned quite a few nifty things. The petroleum scarf is finished (yeah hello, I made it before New Year’s Eve!) and I moved on to skill-builders via a Craftsy class or two – which I’ll write more about during the weekend – but my proudest thing is a hat I’m knitting using the magic-loop method. I found the pattern on Ravelry, a true treasure trove, and will most certainly share more about this project. Anyway, I’m back and we’ll see at what frequency (see, taking my own advice already)!

Knit and purl, knit and purl

I happened to score a Craftsy class for next to nothing thanks to a campaign code and last night when I couldn’t sleep, I watched some knitting lessons as well as dug out my petroleum-coloured scarf. The rhythm of knitting and purling was so calming that all the thoughts became focussed on counting to five over and over, and finally the brain calmed down enough for me to catch sleep. By that time it was almost 5 am, woot woot. Oh well, ’tis a new day today and I’m wrapping some Christmas gifts.

When locating the link to my post on the purl stitch, I scrolled down to an earlier post in the same category, Knitting Ain’t My BFF, and read the last sentence in which I proclaimed to finish this scarf before 1 January 2014. Too funny, I haven’t produced a stitch since January 2013 until last night and almost didn’t make it in 2013 either, but there is only a tiny bit of unused yarn left and all I have to do is deal with the loose bits of yarn. One UFO going down!