Sunday, April 23, 2017

Are my knit stitches crossed or twisted?

If someone were to ask you what is the difference between crossed and twisted stitches in knitting,  would you be able to help?  I ask because it came to me as I worked on a guild project called wingspan by maylin Tri'Coterie Designs.  This project is from several years ago and older than that from its designing. It's a really nice shawl and I look forward to finishing it sometime soon.  Because then, I can wear it.

But back to the question at hand. Let's explore this. 

Cables are crossed.  Anyone who has seen Aran sweaters, whether machine knit or hand knit, knows about cables.   The background is one stitch pattern.   There are ropes snaking around the surface that lay over each other at regular intervals.   The point where they lay over each other is the cross.  Cables are at least 2 stitches over at least 2 stitches.  They usually use a cable needle.   Some knitters are adept at crossing cables without a cable needle.    

Now for the slightly harder part. What if there's only one stitch over one stitch?   Is that a cable?   No.  But what is it? Those are called twisted stitches.  They don't use a cable needle. You would drop it if you tried to use one.  Twisted stitches are crossed when doing the actual knitting rather than before.

So that leaves crossed stitches.  What are those?   If you think of a knit stitch as a pair of pants, the top of the stitch that goes on the top of the needle is the part of the pants that goes around hips and waist.  Each leg is a leg of the stitch. Cross the pant legs at the ankle and that is what a crossed knit stitch looks like.  Crossed  stitches are formed by a combination of where in the stitch the needle is put and the direction of the wrapping of the yarn around the needle.

But there are also knit stitch patterns called cross stitch.   They are very lovely to see and fun to knit. Below is a favorite cross stitch of mine.  It's a variety slip stitch knitting.

Earth day

I'm late but happy earth day!

Locally,  earth day is about cleaning up the streams and abandoned areas and volunteering at non profit organizations and charities.   As most of us know,  it all started back in the early 70s when Americans were guzzling petroleum products and just starting to be concerned with the state of our land and waterways.   We've come far but there's still a lot we can do.

"How can we tie knitting and crocheting with earth day" you ask.   Let's start with the easy stuff of the mantra reduce, re-use, recyle, make do or do without.

1.  Use reusable shopping bags.   Then we don't have to have so many of those cheap grocery bags.  These are being made to disintegrate in the landfills.  If they don't get used quick enough from date of manufacturing they start falling apart in the boxes and that spells trouble for shoppers. Have you had a bag split in the parking lot dropping something breakable?  This  is annoying and expensive.   You can purchase reusable shopping bags or you can make them.

Some would have you use those plastic bags to make something more permanent and sturdier.   I encourage you not to do this.   Kitchen cotton such as sugar and creme peaches and cream are fabulous.  Acrylic yarns can do a great job, possibly better than the cottons.

However,  in the reduce, re-use and recycle vein, what about tarn?  Have you heard about this?  Recycle your old t-shirts.  I have a bunch that have seen better days. Over the years,  tiny holes open in the fabric.  These shirts then make it to my ok for cleaning or other dirty activity wardrobe. But eventually even that part of the closet becomes overflowing and something must be done. So I make tarn. 

Here is a quick run-through of my process.
     1. Lay shirt flat on a solid surface. Smooth wrinkles.
     2. With a scissor or rotary cutter (think pizza wheel for fabric) cut across shirt from under arm seam to under arm seam.  Remove the neck/sleeve portion.
     3.  Using a yardstick,  cut across the body in even and straight strips,  ending 2 inches from the fold.
     4.  Pick up the fabric.  Using scissors,  cut, angling up from one cut to the very next one.  Taper ends if desired.  This will give you a continuous strip. 
     5.  Stretch to cause curling as you wrap into a ball or wrap in a ball and stretch as you knit or crochet with it.

Patterns abound for shopping bag and market bags.  Choose from flat to those with a more boxlike shape to string bags.

Oh and don't toss those bits not used.  They are great for dirty jobs instead of buying paper towels.

2.  I've talked before about frogging sweaters to get a luxury fiber that is either out of my budget or just not available to me.  But, have you changed shape? Kids grown?   Usually our wardrobes are centered around a few colors that mix and match.   If you've shrunk, first congratulations on your weight loss.  Second consider donating the clothes outgrown so others can utilize.  Third, frog appropriate garments that work well together and rework into a garment that will fit your new body.

3.  Make due with what you have.  This is a harder one.   Are some of your clothes and soft home furnishings looking i bit faded?  Maybe you can't stand the dated colors but can't afford new.  Or perhaps you can't see spending  $$ when there's nothing wrong with the things except for the color.   Here's where dye can be a huge help.

Any natural fibers can be dyed.  Synthetic fibers are a mixed bag.   Some will take dye, some won't.   Rit dyes found in most grocery stores and craft stores are readily available. They work well with natural fibers.  They even say that synthetic fibers will work with their dye.  The few times I tried synthetics, i didn't have success.  Light colors can go darker. Dark colors can go darker. Plant fibers can be bleached out with rit color remover.  Animal fibers will be damaged by the color remover process. Synthetics have the color in the structure of the thread and is part of the processing. These can't have the color removed.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Moebius for knit and crochet

Recently at a guild meeting,  I taught how to knit a moebius shawl or cowl. As Cat Bordhi taught, a moebius not only has no beginning or end but grows from the center up and down and has a twist.  The right side is always the side you see when knitting.  I use Cat's method to cast on.

It also reminded me of one of the hats I saw at another retreat.   The ribbing had a twist, making it look & to u.   But.... it grew up from the edge in one direction.   I suggested rather than the knitter ripping,  she should keep it.  Knitting around the twist can straighten out the rest of the project but leaves the twist in the ribbing.   Add an embellishment and it's fabulous.

These seemingly separate and random things have led me to think about moebius and crochet. As usual,  while washing dishes, the thoughts turned to how to combine crochet and moebius.  Each time I tried to work it through in my mind, I ran into one particular problem. The cross kept getting wider and thicker.  It goes to show,  having yarn and tools in hand can let you see things that the mind can't.
YouTube can be very helpful.   I found two different approaches to the same end.  One followed my idea (working in the chain on both sides)  but showed a different stitch pattern than the same old same old. Another showed a much nicer and easier to work option.  This is from Kristin Omdahl.  Her solution allows you to work around the chain on both sides. It's fast and easy.

The one thing I found was I could not do was crochet a twisted, one edge worked piece of fabric. Possibly there is a way, but since I wasn't looking in that direction I didn't find it, nor did I explore to hunt down a solution.  I did like the process so much I made a bunch of samples. I also thought of a couple of prayer shawl patterns for this technique.

Prayer shawl

16 oz worsted weight yarn, color of choice
J or K hook

Ch 4, dc in 4th ch from hook.  Rep this sequence 25 - 35 times.  Join with a sl st in the first ch of the first eyelet.

Ch 3 (counts as a dc now and throughout), 2 dc in same eyelet.  3 dc in each of the next eyelets until you reach the beginning.  Twist the eyelet chain 180* so the empty side of the eyelets is facing out.  3 dc in each of the eyelets around.  Join with a sl st in the top of the ch 3 at the beginning.

You now have a ring that is double sided and has one twist in it. 

Ch 3, 2 dc in same sp. work 3 dc in each sp around.  Join with a sl st in top of ch 3. 
**Ch 2, 2 dc cluster over next 2 sts, end with yarn around the hook and pull through 3, ch 2, * 3 dc cl over next 3 dc, ch 2.  Rep from * around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3.

Rep from ** until the yarn is gone with a whole round finished, or you have 15" of depth. 

Give with joy or keep for yourself and gift the next one.  It's like giving a hug to the recipient even if you aren't there.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Year of Stitches Week 15

I remember telling you all of the wedding happening in my family.  For this installment of  stitches, wedding bells are on my mind.  I'm just glad I don't have to add any of this to a gown or veil or anything else for that matter.  A swatch will do me just fine for now. 

Wedding Bells Knit Border and Crochet Wedding Bells Border

Crochet Wedding Bells: Materials
It is helpful to know that the shells of this pattern run along the top of the bells but you are crocheting one bell at a time.  So, you will begin by crocheting the shells above the first bell and then making the bell itself. At the end of that, you will work back along the side of the bell to get back to the top of it where you will crochet the next set of shells and the next bell.
Starting Chain: Ch 4.
Row 1: 2 dc in 4th ch from hook, ch 2, 3 dc in the same place as the last dc's were worked, ch 6, turn.
Row 2: 3 dc in ch-2 space, ch 2, 3 dc in same ch-2 space (shell made).
Row 3: ch 5, turn, shell (see directions above).
Row 4: ch 2, 1 dc in 3rd ch of ch-6 (this ch-6 is between the first shell made and the second shell made), ch 6, turn.
Row 5: Shell in next ch-2 sp (in center of last shell made).
Row 6: *ch 5, 9 dc in ch-5 sp (that's to the left), turn.
Row 7: ch 3 (counts as first dc), 1 dc in each of next 8 dc (9 dc). Turn.
Row 8: ch 3 (counts as first dc), dc in same stitch as ch-3 just made, 1 dc in each of next 8 dc (10 dc), turn.
Row 9: ch 3 (counts as first dc), 1 dc in each dc (10 dc), turn.
Row 10: ch 3, dc in first dc, 1 dc in each of next 9 dc (11 dc).
Row 11: ch 3, sc between the first and second dc; ** ch 3, sc between the next two dc, repeat from ** 8 more times.
Row 12: ch 12, sc in ch-5 sp at top of bell.
Row 13: ch 5, shell (in center of last shell made).
Row 14: dc in third ch of ch-5 (the ch-5 is to the left, at top of edging), turn.
Row 15: ch 6, shell, turn.
Row 16: ch 5, shell, turn.
Row 17: ch 2, 1 dc in third ch of ch-5, turn.
Row 18: ch 6, shell
Repeat: Repeat from *
Additional Important Note: After making 11 dc of second bell, ch 1, slip stitch to first ch of ch-12; repeat as over first bell.
Wedding Bells Knit Border 
Bell Edging (↓) top down
Multiple of 4 sts plus 3.
Row 1 (RS): *p3, k1. Repeat from * until the last 3 sts, p3.
Row2 (WS): *k3, p1. Repeat from * until the last 3 sts, k3.
Row 3 and 4: Repeat rows 1 and 2 once more.
Row 5: *p3, (k1, p1tbl, k1) into the next st. Repeat from * until the last 3 sts, p3.
Row 6: *k3, p3. Repeat from * until the last 3 sts, k3.
Row 7: *p3, yo, k3, yo. Repeat from * until the last 3 sts, p3.
Row 8: *k3, p5. Repeat from * until the last 3 sts, k3. When you work the yo (i.e. yb and yf) made in the previous row, make sure to twist these sts to prevent holes being made. The same applies to the subsequent rows.
Row 9: *p3, yo, k5, yo. Repeat from * the last 3 sts, p3.
Row 10: *k3, p7. Repeat from * until end.
Row 11: *p3, yo, k7, yo. Repeat from * until the last 3 sts, p3.
Row 12: *k3, p9. Repeat from * until the last 3 sts, k3.
Row 13: BO.
And now I will be back to altering the wedding gown and shopping for my own dress. 
As I get to the swatches of the various stiches, I post pictures on my twitter feed.  follow me @Wendyteaches.  You can also see them on my Instagram feed.  follow me @Wendyteaches.  They are also on my Facebook page.  Like my group at
I realize not everyone is on all forms of social media.  I'm not.  But these are the forms I am utilizing.  I might utilize more in the future.  You never know.  Also never say never.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Gauge and the measurement of

I'm going to offer some ideas about gauge and the measurement of.  Back before the turn of the last century gauge was not talked about nor was it really measured.  Children learned to knit and crochet at mom or grandma's knee.  These experienced Knitters and Crocheters could see at a glance if the kids were getting the proper number of stitches and take corrective steps.   Nowadays most don't have that kind of almost instant access.

In today's world,  we might have a friend or family member who has taught us the basics or maybe a little more.  But more and more,  we are learning from teachers at yarn shops and possibly big box craft stores, teachers at conventions like Stitches, or from classes purchased online or for free on YouTube.  Podcasts can offer help for questions,  if you know what the problem is.  The impersonalness of learning has brought up all kinds of problems that weren't a big deal in times gone by.  Gauge is one such thing.

The impetus for today's post about gauge is an episode on the verypink podcast. You can check out their website at  There was a bunch of gauge questions and one stood out.  The question was asked about why patterns are telling us to measure gauge mid project.

Let's go over the quick list of steps to measuring gauge.

1. Cast on and knit the swatch.  Note the brand, color and weight of yarn and size of needle or hook.

2. Measure in the center of the swatch the number of stitches and then of rows per 4 inches.  Note these on the same place as yarn and tool info.

3. Wash and block the swatch as you will be treating the finished product. Follow the washing instructions on the yarn label. 

4. Measure the same locations again for gauge.  This is the magic set of numbers for determining the size to make for the intended recipient. Note these and highlight.

5. Repeat as needed to get the stitch and row gauge in the pattern after washing and blocking.   Use new yarn for each swatch.  Knitting, washing/blocking  and ripping out can stretch the yarn after a few times.

Ok back to the question of mid project gauge measuring.  In a previous post about gauge,  I discussed how emotions can influence gauge, in addition to the way you hold the tool and yarn.   It's been shown time and again most people tighten up muscles when stressed.  Tight muscles usually means that your hands are going to hold tightly to the tools and yarn. 

Now, most of us will need to put down our project from time to time.   A quick drop to answer the door or grab a drink up to many days, months, years of not working on  something because life can intervene in a wide variety of ways.  Over time your personal gauge can change due to age or life circumstances.  

There is not much chance of gauge changing while you get a drink or eat something  (wash your hands to keep things clean).  But gauge can change especially for new knitters and crocheters  as you gain experience over a short time period. For those of us who are more experienced,  it takes more time or emotional upheaval to change our gauge.

There is a special class of people who use knitting or crocheting as a stress! reliever or as a way to keep occupied during crazy times such as waiting for the birth of a child or a teen to come home who's late.  Try measuring gauge after that type of event.  You'll find a difference.

Now you can see why mid project gauge measuring could need to be done. 

Look back at the list of steps to measuring gauge.   Remember when I said to measure gauge before washing?  This is the gauge the you need to match so when washing and blocking are done after finishing or wearing you get the proper gauge for the size desired. 

Make sense?  I hope so.  Questions can be asked in the comments section below.