Announcing: Pattern Basics and Free-for-all

This week, we will cover basic pattern reading in the first group. If you have a pattern that you have been thinking about but weren’t sure what it meant, bring it and we’ll discuss it together. The second group will discuss a possible design project. As always, beginners, please bring 4.5 mm needles and worsted weight yarn for your practice.

We were given some yarn that we will use for our blanket project. If you are interested in participating, the yarn will be at this week’s meeting and up for grabs.

See you Sunday!

A fitting end … Casting Off and Finishing techniques.

One of the biggest challenges you will face as a knitter is trying to finish that first sweater neatly and properly. It’s as if you’ve come to the end of your first marathon and you suddenly have this huge surge of adrenaline. You can see the finish line and want to to cross it as quickly as possible. STOP! or at least slow down … this is not a race and taking the time to finish the sweater properly will make sure that the hours you have spent on it will be well worth it. This week we looked at casting off in the first group and more finishing techniques in the second group. So here is the summary of our first little look at finishing up.
Casting off (CO), also known as binding off, is securing the stitches in a way so they will not unravel and they are no longer on the needle. Below is the basic method that most people first learn and a few variations. To cast off stitches, work your pattern until you have two stitches on the right needle. Then insert your left needle into the first stitch on the right needle and slip it over the second stitch on the right needle. The second stitch is now holding the first stitch in place. Now work another stitch so that there are once again two stitches on the right needle. Continue in this manner until you have one stitch on your right needle. Give yourself ample yarn to darn in and then break it from the ball. At this point you still have one stitch on your right needle. Pull up on the needle until the loop from that stitch disappears. Now darn in that dangling end and you’re done!
Some things to remember when casting off:
  • If you’re casting off an edge that will be visible (neck edge), it’s best to cast off in the pattern you have been working.
  • Usually you want to cast off loosely so consider using a slightly larger needle.
  • You can use a crochet hook as your second needle and instead of slipping the first stitch over the second, pull the second through the first with the crochet hook.
  • If a seam is going to be created with the cast off edge, you can cast off in knit stitch to keep from moving the yarn back and forth.
Here are a few links with instructions, diagrams, and/or videos showing the cast off and some variations:
Finishing Techniques – Part 1

As you can imagine, there is more to putting your garment together than we can cover in one week so this  topic will be broken down into several parts. Putting your garment together when you’re finished is something that should actually be thought about before you begin the sweater. Some patterns will do this and incorporate selvedge stitches into the pattern itself. What are selvedge stitches? Basically, they’re two stitches added to the pattern that are easily recognizable later. They serve two main purposes – to assist in sewing your garment together when you’re finished and to provide a neat, uniform edge when making a stand alone piece of fabric. Here is a link that will explain in more detail  

Now that you are familiar with the cast off and selvedge stitch, we will look at sewing the seams together. Before sewing seams together, you should block your garment. This will be covered in an upcoming lesson, but if you need to know how to do it now, follow this link:
When seaming, I like to use the Mattress stitch and to ensure that it is as easy as possible, I like to make sure that my selvedge edge is worked in stocking stitch (knit the first and last stitch on the right side and purl them on the other). This way I can line up my rows directly and seam together row by row. Here is a link that shows you the mattress stitch in detail:
When you are seaming together two vertical rows (e.g. sides of a sweater), the mattress stitch works beautifully and you can simply go row for row. When seaming the sleeves to the body however, you are now matching stitches to rows and they don’t align exactly (stitches are wider than rows are tall). This is the time to go back to your tension swatch that you made and find out the relation between your rows and stitches. Remember the swatch was a grid of 4″ x 4″. Now let’s say that it was 16 stitches and 20 rows in that grid. That means that for every 4 stitches, you have 5 rows. To line up your two edges in preparation for your seaming, start with the center of the sleeve and pin it to where the two shoulders meet. Now count over 4 stitches on the sleeve and 5 rows on the body and pin those edges together. Continue in this manner to the end of the sleeve and then do the other side. Once you have finished, you can seam the edges together using the mattress stitch. With a little practice, you will be able to do this in fewer increments but to start, it’s best to do it inch by inch to ensure the fit is perfect!
That’s it for now, but we will have more on finishing next week!
Yarn over and out,

Wrap-up: The Shape of Things to Come …

New knitters often tackle scarves as their first project, not necessarily because they want  to make a scarf but because it is the easiest thing to make (other than a dishcloth) for a beginner. The difference between knitting a scarf and a sweater however, is mainly getting a handle on shaping. Shaping is the art of increasing and decreasing stitches in order to create a desired shape to the fabric being knitted.  This week, we tackled increasing and decreasing.

Decreasing reduces the number of stitches on your needle. There are many ways to decrease. This week we focused on the easiest way. You will probably see instructions in a book like this: K2tog, P2tog, work the next two stitches together. This is the simplest of the decreasing methods and involves working two stitches together.
Knit side – using your right needle, go into the second stitch and then the first  knitwise so that both stitches pass over your right needle. Wrap the yarn counterclockwise as for a regular knit stitch and then slide both stitches off the left needle.
Purl side – using your right needle, go into the first stitch and then the second purlwise so that both stitches pass over your right needle. Wrap the yarn counterclockwise as for a regular purl stitch and then slide both stitches off the left needle.
Increasing is a little trickier but straightforward once we break it down. You use an increase when you want to make two (or more) stitches where there was previously one. In a pattern, an increase is usually abbreviated inc or M1. The inc method is described here:
Knit or Purl – Work the next stitch as described in the pattern (knit or purl) but do not slide it off the needle once it is completed. Using the right needle, knit or purl the stitch again going into the back of the same stitch on the left needle. It is very important that you go into the back of the stitch or you will end up with a hole in your garment that you weren’t planning on. The purl stitch requires a little twisting, but if you keep the yarn relaxed it should cooperate nicely. Slide the two stitches off the left needle. Notice the two stitches now on your right needle and remember what they look like. You should have one knit and one purl stitch or vice versa. This is a great way to know when you have increased if you ever lose count.
More methods…
As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to increase and decrease. Here are links for each stitch that you can browse through at your convenience.

In the second group, we talked about advanced methods of full fashion shaping. For a recap, you’ll have to chat Steve up! Once again, thanks for reading. As always, your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

Yarn over and out,

Announcing: Oops, I did it again…

You’re going to love this week’s Show and Tell: Oops, I did it again… and again… and maybe another do-over. Bring an item that you’ve made a mistake on and let the group know what you learned. We can all learn from our mistakes (and from each others’ mistakes).

This week’s topic in the Beginner/Intermediate group is on Increasing and Decreasing. Please bring worsted weight yarn and 4 1/2mm needles. We will start our first blanket square with a traditional dishcloth style pattern.

The Intermediate/Advanced group will discuss Pattern Shaping/Full Fashion Shaping.

Congratulations to Myriam on making the first comment post on the website – she will get a little treat at our next meeting. Be sure to check each week for the recap of the meeting. Also, we’ve started three new posts on knitting blogs, patterns and instructional sites. Be sure to post your favorite sites for the group to take a look at. We have created three post titles so you can easily search the site:
Announcing: These are posts about upcoming meeting topics or news
Wrap-up: These are posts summarizing that week’s meeting
Discussion: These are topics for everyone to add their insights on.

As always, we welcome your feedback and hope you’ve had a great week.

Community Blanket Project:
Remember, with the rainy weather, it is a great time to get started on your blanket squares. As an added incentive, the first person to bring in a completed square will receive a handmade piece of pottery. If there is a tie, we’ll draw names…

Hope to see you Sunday. And remember to bring your mistake for Show and Tell!

Yarn over and out,