Category Archives: Tutorial

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To infinity and beyond

I made several infinity scarves for Holiday gifts this year. I had NO IDEA there were so many ways to knit a circular piece of cloth.

1) Knitting in the round from the start.
2) Knitting the scarf starting with a provisional cast on, picking up the stitches upon completion, then joining using kitchener stitch.
3) Use a permanent cast on then join by using mattress stitch.

I discovered I really like the reversible look. There seem to be many ways to accomplish this as well:

1) Double knitting – I tried this and totally failed because I couldn’t figure out a way to keep the tension equal on both sides. That was a project that was totally frogged and is currently awaiting a rebirth.
2) Knitting a piece twice as wide as you’d like in the end, making a purl stitch column/row in the middle so you can fold it in half when wearing.
3) Knit the scarf twice – but the inside version was 2 inches shorter than the outside version. Join the two to create a reversible look.

I can’t say as I totally won with my projects. Once they were knit I ran into another challenge – how do you wash and block an infinity scarf? Here’s what I did:

1) If knitting then joining by mattress or kitchener stitch, just wash and block, then join as the last step.
2) If knitting in the round, use your yarn swift.

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Do you have any insights into infinity scarf knitting? I could definitely use all the help I can get!

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The projects just kept flowing (pun intended)

Artesian: relating to or denoting a well, drilled perpendicularly into water-bearing strata lying at an angle, so that natural pressure produces a constant supply of water with little or no pumping.

Synonym: flowing  (Google search)

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Yes, Romi Hill’s Artesian shawl is just that:  flowing asymmetrically off the shoulders to points.  What a brilliant pattern and yet so simple and quick to knit – just knits, yarn overs, and short rows.  Time from start to finish?  A neat 10 days of evening knitting.

So much fun… I knit three in a row. A knitting record!

The first creation, intended for my sister Diane, was knit from Madelinetosh lace weight, color Spectrum (the blue above).   I tried it on, wore it to a dinner …. I LIKED it a lot!!!  I never considered myself a shawl-bearing person but its beauty and simple elegance captured me.

The shawl insisted on staying with me.  We had multiple discussions – it was supposed to be a gift! – but the shawl would not relent.

No sweat. I had purchased 2 skeins of Spectrum and used only one.  I could just knit a replica for my sister.  But where is that other skein you ask?  Hmmm…. if only I could find it.  BUT… 2 partial skeins of Madelinetosh Wicked (the deep purple above) peaked out from my stash so…  a second Artesian was born.

Then the missing Spectrum reappeared on the floor behind my knitting chair while vacuuming (yes, cleaning does have some benefits).  The first Spectrum shawl was so lovely and I knew my sister would love one just like it.  I checked in with the original and indeed, it was adamant about remaining with me.  So a third Artesian shawl was born.

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New technique learned:  Russian splicing.

When I first started knitting with lace,  I joined new yarn by knotting it to the last of the old yarn.  I couldn’t figure out how to hide the join – with heavier weight knits I would knit the 2 yarns simultaneously for a while, then weave in the ends. Hiding the ends in an open lace pattern is much more difficult.

Then I came upon Russian splicing.  This method looked a little unnerving at first, but I bought  a sewing needle with a sharp end and a large eye and found that if you slightly untwist the yarn as you thread the needle through the strand, you end up with a fabulous, strong join that is imperceptible.  Nice! You also have to make sure you thread a long piece of strand through.  If it’s too short, then it is not strong and gives way. Give it a try!

For visual learners:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0103qC6GH8I

For written instructions:

Increases- Techniques with Theresa: Knitty Spring+Summer 2010

http://knitty.com/ISSUEss10/FEATss10TT.php

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Crazy

Christmas came and many knitting gifts were given.  I completed the last of 3 projects  two  days before Christmas, so felt “in complete control”!

I was most nervous about my son Aaron’s sweater.  Here’s the saga.

I found this no-longer-in print sweater pattern  on  Ravelry and through communication with the person that posted the picture, was able to find and buy it from a vendor on Etsy.

As I was knitting, I was convinced the sweater was going to fit the Jolly Green Giant.  The back measurements seemed to be fine, but the front measured 4-5 inches more than the extra ease recommended for a contemporary cardigan.

Add to that the yarn: a 75% wool, 25% angora mix. On the skein, it seemed springy with a lot of life.  After listening to knit.fm, I washed each individual piece first and then assembled it using mattress stitch. The yarn softened a lot and created even more ease.

When Aaron put it on, I was right – too big!!!  Here is the saving grace – the back and shoulders fit well.  The sleeves were 1 inch too long and the front panels were  each 2 inches too wide.

Here’s the cool part – I had just finished watching a Craftsy class about sweater surgery.  Here was my chance to practice those new mad skills!  Forget that I had never practiced on anything before. Knitting that recommended baby sweater and following along with the instructor?  Ha!!  Why not start with a  real sweater just given as a gift instead?!?!  That’s how I roll.

The first thing I realized was that the pockets in front did not allow me to take in the side seams  from the bottom.  The hips fit well anyway, so that was no big deal.  I had Aaron put the sweater on inside out and then pinned the side seams to find the right fit.  I  better visualized this line by basting with bright green yarn.

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Then off to sewing machine I went.  Who knew that knowing how to sew would come in handy with a knitting project?  I followed the green line in order to sew the new seam, using a small enough stitch to be sure and catch all the yarn.  As I approached the green yarn, I would pull it out so that it did not get caught up in the sewing.

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Then I sewed a second seam just to reinforce.  Having a walking foot on my sewing machine proved key, since it kept the yarn from pulling out of proportion while sewing.

Next…… cutting the yarn.  I have to admit that I talked this through with myself and all those in my proximity multiple times prior to the actual cut.  Then snip!!

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Next the sleeves – an inch too long.   The first step was undoing my mattress stitch in the sleeve so that I could work with the sleeve laid flat.  Next, I  snipped one leg  of a knitting stitch and unraveled the sweater close to the  ribbed cuff.  The cuff  became totally detached from the arm.  I unraveled the arm for 1 inch.  Then I grafted the cuff back onto the sleeve using kitchener stitch.  Voila!

A couple of other modifications I made while knitting the cardigan: The pocket edge called for ribbing  but I didn’t like the look of this, so instead knit the pattern for the body and used i-cord bind off  to finish the edge.

The collar was also a ribbed collar and I found it very heavy and bulky, so I picked up stitches around the neck opening once the sweater was assembled and knit the pattern used in the body.  After completion, I picked up stitches along the outside edge of the collar and used i-cord bind off to give it a more finished look.

All in all, another crazy, fun, nerve racking adventure.    Here’s the final product.

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1966 Shawl- Collar Cardigan using yarn from Kimmel Croft Fibers “Softie” 75% merino, 25% white angora , 2 ply DK weight yarn.

What I have learned and enjoy most about knitting  is that it’s not permanent once knit.  There was a time when I would have cried, ripped this sweater out and called it a failure.   Listening to podcasts, enrolling in classes, hanging out with fellow knitters, haunting the local yarn shop ( I have a great one in my town:  Stitching Memories) – all brings about a new understanding and development of skills.  And I suppose it doesn’t hurt to be a little on the crazy side as well.