Monday, October 16, 2017

A Year of Stitches Week 39

Let's switch things up this week.

Here's a make ahead for Christmas.  Do you hang stockings for gifts?  Do you hang them for ornaments?  For an ornament size, try fingering weight yarn (size 1 on the ball band) and a size 2mm needle or 1mm size hook (this dips down into the steel hooks).  Want it for gift giving?  See suggestions below.

Instead of color work, let's do knit and purl stitches for the knit swatch.  Instead of crochet Fair Isle, let's try bobbles.  What do these 2 changes do to your work?  What do you think of it?  Are you able to keep the front and back rows straight in your mind?  Did you use stitch markers?  Good for you if you did.  Tools are there for our benefit.  Didn't need to?  Great for you too.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Charts - Love them or hate them

Charts are here to stay.  For the advanced stitcher a simple chart is all that is needed to create a garment that is a work of art.  For publishers one picture is worth more than a thousand words, it can be worth extra advertising space on a page.  For a stitcher who speaks only one language,  charts are universally available.

Let's all agree that crochet charts come with a standardized set of symbols.  . Is a slip stitch,  x or + is a single crochet and so on.  However,  in following a wide variety of Pinterest boards and Picasa accounts from around the world, I have seen a wide variety of symbols in knit charts.  Most are reasonably self explanatory with knit and purl and in indicating if a left or right leaning decrease should be used. Yarn overs seem to be universal in their use of O.  Looks like a hole,  acts like a hole

Here's an easy crochet chart.  You'll see what I mean.

Now for the knitting charts.  These are the ones that can throw me for a loop if I'm not paying attention.  As I mentioned above, the yarnovers are a circle or o on charts.  Easy so far.  Knit and Purl are equally easy.  They are either a blank square or - for one and | for the other.  Depends on where and when the charting was done.  That is also fairly universal.

The ones that sometimes confuse me are the cables and the decreases or increases.  Cables are sometimes like the magenta swatch with a horizontal line and vertical line and another horizontal line.  By looking at the picture I can tell that the way it's drawn it needs to be a Back cross or a Left Cross.  However, there is also the green variant and the grey variant below which shows 2 other ways to diagram cables, with the cream colored cable at the bottom showing a 4th way.

The decreases also are different in each case.  Some draw a diagonal line in the box with a half diagonal going the other way (white lace just below).  This shows which direction the decrease needs to lean and you pick the one you know and like the best.  Another variation is a triangle following the 3/4 x just described, (the grey, blue and purple in the middle show this).  Again the goal is to show you which way the decrease needs to lean.  There is the odd symbol that looks like a bird foot in the magenta swatch that indicates a 3 to 1 decrease.  Some would k3tog or SSSK, but, to get the solid line of knit stitches, you need to work the decrease differently.  Here's one way thanks to TechKnitter.


  1. Inserting from left to right (knitwise), run right needle through TWO loops at tip of left needle and slip these two stitches onto the right needle. Note: You are to slip both stitches at the SAME TIME, therefore, insert the needle from L to R through the second stitch from the tip, then through the stitch at the tip, then slip both off the L needle, together, onto the R needle. 
  2. Knit the next stitch. 
  3. Next, insert the tip of the left needle under the 2 slipped stitches and lift them OVER the knitted stitch. (This is called "passing the slipped stitch(es) over" and is abbreviated "psso.")  
  4. If 3stdec looks like combination of k2tog and ssk, that's because it is. The stitch which originally lay two from the tip of the L needle comes to lay on top of the resulting stitch sandwich, and it is pointing straight up--the orange stitch in the above diagram, while the two stitches lower down in the sandwich (green and red) slant R and L, respectively, as shown.
  5. One stitch appears where 3 were before, so 3stdec is a two-stitch decrease.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Year of Stitches Week 38

Charts dominate the Fair Isle world.  It's so easy to chart out the colors into a pleasing picture.  What isn't so easy is to write line by line directions for it.  The color changes alone can mess you up, in either writing or following the directions.  The color changes can add many pages to the directions for each picture. 

Have you noted that when patterns are changed, there are usually stripes to separate them?  I'm not sure but I think this is to balance the colors.  Sadly I haven't read anything about this.  There are also times when there is a border with a different background color or different accent color.  How about changing the center stitch of the flower with something else?  Maybe change not only the black center stitch but also the background color on this row.  Make sure to tie it into the swatch/garment by using that color elsewhere.

Here is a set of charts to get you through the next few days.  Yes, these are for Christmas.  We have to get a jumpstart on some of the knitting and crocheting for the holidays.   Can you see these as framed pictures?  Ornaments?  Afghan blocks?  Pillows?  Table runners?  Coasters?  Placemats?  Dish cloths and tea towels?  Hot pads?  If you choose to use any of these for hot items, use wool and cotton, never acrylic.  Acrylic can melt and cause terrible burns.

Colorwork - New Ways to Look at It

Previously I've discussed the basic colorwork technique of stripes. These are nice and easy. They can be any sized,  all the same or a specific pattern like Fibonacci, or completely random. Color blocking also falls in this level.  For beginners,  work each color section separately.  For more advanced people,  this is an Intarsia variation.

edit to add this important fact: Without having to purchase multitudes of colors, though who wouldn't, you can have a multiple color project by using variegated yarn, ombre yarn, tonal yarn.  These yarn are multi color either in a 1 color family or a many color family.  But this choice can add interest and variety.  The choices in this range are short color repeats to long color repeats.  This could be as short as an inch or many yards before subtle shifting into the next. 

Then I discussed the next level of colorwork techniques,  Fair Isle,  intarsia, mosaic, and In the case of crochet,  tapestry.  Intarsia can be styled like a coloring book for children with large sections.   Intarsia can be styled as a single Fair Isle pattern.  Fair isle is best done in only 2 colors per round or row.  Mosaic uses 1 color per 2 passes but can have 2 or more colors (usually 2).  Tapestry is essentially a variant of Fair Isle.

Now let's talk about the 3rd level of colorwork techniques.  Filet crochet is black and white.  Best part, the background can be any color you want as can the solid parts.  Entrelac in either crochet or knit can be a fantastic way to take a small stitch pattern or colorwork pattern and make it a much larger.  Each block in the chart equals one square of the entrelac but the entrelac square can be any size.  Finally there is the box stitch or c2c stitch pattern and mitered squares.  As with the entrelac each pattern block is equal to a blocked of c2c or mitered square.  

Let's see what you can do with a level 2 or 3 and the charts. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Year of Stitches Week 37

I'm working to catch up on the weeks. To this end, here are more Fair Isle patterns.  Typical of the region where the winters are very dark, color work utilizes bright colors like blue, red, yellow and green.  Contrast of colors makes the designs pop.  If you choose colors too close to each other, you lose a lot of the design and therefore the work and care you put into the item you are making.

What colors do you choose?  I tend to go for high contrast colors.  Do you also find color work to be addicting?  When doing two stranded color work, especially if the colors are balanced, I tend to use one hand for both colors.  Other methods hold one color in each hand or drop a color and pick up the other.  Try each to see what works best for you.

What do you have if you choose to only use the chart 1 time instead of over and over in a row?  Did you answer Intarsia?

Make a note about this chart, you only see the right hand side.  It's mirror image.  You can also take this apart and use only a part of the design.  What colors did you choose?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Update on Christmas

I have changed my mind yet again. I know that's nothing new. 

For quite some time I had been planning to make 2 granny square jumpers (American not British) for my granddaughters.  They are 6.  Probably the ruffled skirts would not be appreciated by them.   I have chosen instead circle vests.  We've all probably seen them on ravelry.

My younger son is living with and talking about marrying a young woman. She has 2 children previously.  So I'm thinking of them and what might be appropriate for them.  One of the children is 4 and the other is less than a year.   They are boys.

Then there is my daughter in law.  I thought of a clapoti.  I thought of finishing one of the several things I started for her.  None of them are close to finished.

Finally there's the mystery young woman.   Because of the long hours she works, we don't get to see her and the kids to get to know them.  I know basic sizes and favorite colors for her.  I was wondering about a comodo possibility. 

I also considered something for each son.  A number of years ago, I knit a fair isle pattern raglan sweater for one son.   The other son has me completely baffled.  Maybe a knit tie?  Better still a knitted bowtie!  Now to find a kit from Franklin Habit for this.......

Pictures will come after Christmas for obvious reasons.  With a lot of luck, I will have pictures of all recipients wearing AND enjoying their creations.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Year of Stitches Week 36

Last week, I offered a very colorful Fair Isle chart.  It had on some rows more than 2 colors.  This is not typical of true Fair Isle.  Typical Fair Isle, from that specific island north of Scotland, and perhaps that region, uses only 2 colors per row.  So here is a 2 color set of charts.  They are deceptively simple. 

Did you find the long floats on some of the motifs to be finger catchers?  I know I do.  The only garment where I can't catch a float and create a snag is usually a hat.  Floats are caught after 2 stitches.  Also don't carry a color for more than 5 stitches (catch the float in the middle).  It creates more headaches than it's worth.  This is where bobbins come in handy. 

What do you think of the crochet version vs. the knit version?  And now the charts.