K1 Wrap up: Preparing to Finish!

The success or failure of most things in life is usually directly proportional to the amount of preparation before you begin. This is also true in knitting and this week we started preparing the K1’s for the finish of their first sweater project. Now while the long term goal is to complete an adult sweater, in preparation, we are getting you to complete a baby sweater first. The concepts and techniques are the same for an adult sweater but the hours required are drastically reduced. The only skills and techniques you don’t currently possess are those required for the finishing, so we are starting at the beginning to get to the ending. Ironically, there are a few things that you can do at the beginning of a project to ensure that the finishing will go smoothly and/or seamlessly, so we took a look at those. Here is a brief review of what we learned today in preparing to finish our first sweater.

Pattern selection – All projects start with a pattern. It is up to you to choose a pattern that you are comfortable with and will want to finish. In doing this you must consider certain options such as level of difficulty, aesthetic appeal, practicality, materials needed, accessories, and time requirements.

  • Since we are doing baby sweaters, and babies are ohhhh so c**e, the aesthetic appeal will probably not be a factor as most things baby are quite adorable.
  • Be certain to select a pattern that is rated easy or low level intermediate as you don’t want your first sweater to end up in the UFO bin somewhere.
  • Most baby sweaters use yarns that are easy care and are in the worsted or sport weight category in terms of thickness (this is 20 – 24 stitches over 4″ on 4.5 – 3.75 mm needles). This is not a steadfast rule but you should note that going outside of these parameters will give you either a bulkier sweater that requires a little more precision when finishing or a finer sweater that will take a little longer to finish.
  • Accessories such as buttons should be chosen with care and sometimes are best picked out when you purchase the yarn to avoid disappointment later.

Get enough yarn – Once you’ve picked out the pattern, you have to decide on the yarn you’re going to use. If you’re using the yarn suggested then it is usually okay to get the amount suggested for the size you’re making. If you’re substituting a yarn, make sure that your calculations are correct (don’t go by weight, go by yardage!) and that you have the right amount. Be sure you have the same dye lot with all balls and, if your budget will allow it, it’s not a bad idea to get one extra ball just in case. If you don’t need it you can probably do a matching hat after!

Familiarize yourself with the pattern – Once you’ve chosen the pattern and picked up any buttons, zippers, or other accessories, read over the pattern a few times to ensure that you are familiar with it. It is a good idea to make a photo copy of the pattern and highlight the size you are making and the instructions that correspond to that size. This also makes it easier to read as most baby patterns come in  at least 4 sizes (0-3mth, 6-12, 12-18, 18-24) if not more. You may also want to laminate the pattern (or the low tech way of taping it over completely with cellophane tape) to ensure it survives the little entanglements it encounters while you’re making the sweater.Does it have any special stitches such as a basket weave or cable? If it does, make sure you do a practice swatch of each of the special stitches so you are sure you can produce them in the sweater. There should be a glossary in the pattern describing any special stitches or textures and how to produce them.

Use a selvedge stitch! – We cannot stress this enough. Depending on the pattern, you may have a selvedge stitch written in already. If you don’t, you should add one. A selvedge stitch is an extra stitch on each end of the pattern that provides a consistent edge look. When making a scarf, it just provides a neat edge. When making a sweater, it provides a consistent and easily visible stitch that makes putting it together so much easier. We suggest that you do it in stocking stitch (knit on the right side and purl on the reverse) because it gives you the ability to make a virtually invisible seam later during the finishing.

Do a swatch! – We’re pretty sure we’ve covered this topic before, but just in case, one more time: You should have highlighted the section in the pattern where it tells you the gauge. The information you’re looking for is the size of needles used, the stitch pattern, and the number of stitches and rows used to get a 4×4″ square. You don’t have to worry if your row gauge is out, but make sure your stitch gauge is correct. Adjust your needle sizes as needed to get the right measurement. You can use you row gauge later to save you from measuring your work. Count your rows and divide by your gauge measurement and you’ll know how long your work is!

Be a blockhead – It is a good idea to block your swatch to make sure you won’t be surprised later on when you block your pieces for the garment. It will give you an idea of how the fiber will behave later and allow you to make and necessary adjustments.

So with all that in mind, you’re ready to embark on your first project. We’ll be here to help you along the way!

Yarn over and out.


2 x2 = 4

There comes a time in every knitter’s journey when they want more stitches than they cast on. It’s normal – we all seem to want more. Ironically, when you first learn to knit, you probably increased the number of stitches on your needles accidentally! Well, we’re here to show you how to do it intentionally. There are numerous ways to increase your stitch count, and in the last session, the K1s looked at three of them.

1. The Yarn Over – This is by far the simplest technique that produces an extra stitch on your needle. It is abbreviated YO or sometimes YF (yarn forward). It is often used in lace work and produces a decorative hole (eyelet) in your work. The ironic thing is that it is usually paired with a decrease somewhere along the row to counter its increase effect. A Yo is worked by wrapping the yarn over the needle in a counter clockwise direction (just like a knit or purl stitch). If your last stitch was a knit stitch,  bring the yarn between the needles to the front and wrap it over the right hand needle. If your last stitch was a purl, wrap the yarn over the right hand needle. On the next row, work your YO as instructed in the pattern. If you don’t want a hole in the stitch, work the YO on the next row by knitting or purling into the back of it (creating a twist).
Click this link for a video of this method: YO Increase Video

2. The M1 Increase – This increase is the most versatile of the three we looked at in that it gives you the option of increasing in pattern almost invisibly. The M1 increase is done by lifting the bar in front of the next stitch on the left needle (hence you can’t do this increase on the first stitch of a row) and placing it on the left needle. This essentially creates a YO, but you’re doing it with the “ladder” that is there from the stitches in the row below. Now you work into the back of the stitch to either knit or purl it as needed for your pattern. This increase is not readily visible so be sure to mark your rows – especially when working it on sleeves!
Click this link for a video of this method:  M1 Increase Video

3. The Bar increase – The bar increase is called this because it leaves a visible bar where it is done – looking like a purl stitch. To do this increase, knit or purl the next stitch but don’t transfer it to your right hand needle. Now bring your right hand needle to the back and work another purl or knit stitch into the back of the stitch on the left hand needle. Remove both stitches together.
Click this link for a video of this method:  Bar Increase Video

Practicing these methods of increasing is recommended until you can do them in a very relaxed fashion. The M1 and Bar increases require you to work into the back of the stitch which causes some twisting (especially when purling). This can cause a little frustration in the beginning as your work tends to tighten up when you pull on the right hand needle. Try to relax that needle as much as possible and just move the tip to accomplish your task. This will keep your yarn loose and make it much easier to accomplish. There you go – now you can increase when you want to and not by accident!

Yarn over and out.


Cables Untangled

Do you remember the first time you saw a serpentine pattern weaving its way up or down a sweater? Do you remember letting out a little gasp and wondering how that was done? Do you remember wishing that you could do that yourself? Well, after today’s post you’ll be able to. That particular pattern you saw was called a cable, and believe it or not, it’s not as complicated as it looks. We’d like to take you through the process of creating a cable swatch so that you’ll be able to do it yourself. So grab some yarn and needles and read along.
An understanding of cables will really help you in the knitting of them later on, so here’s a basic description of what cables really are. The easiest way to explain it is that cables are like braiding hair. Today we’ll only be braiding with two strands, but once you understand the concept, you’ll be able to do it with multiple strands as well. The strands we’ll be cabling (or braiding) are really just panels of stocking stitch (knit on the right side and purl on the reverse) fabric. In order to make the cables stand out we put them on a background of reverse stocking stitch. This contrast in stitches makes the cables really pop and almost jump out at you.
Cables are created by knitting stitches out of sequence, which causes the panels to overlap. This creates a thicker fabric which can be quite warm depending on the fiber. You don’t have to create this overlap on every row, as a matter of fact, it’s best that you don’t. The general rule of thumb is that the overlap is created at least every x rows where x is equal to the number of stitches in your cable. Therefore, if I were cabling over 4 stitches, I would do an overlap at least every 4 rows. I can do it over more to create a more relaxed cable as well, but by doing it over less rows (in this case 2 as it is always an even number), I would create a very tight cable. This is sometimes desired, but not very often.
So the next step is actually creating the overlap. To d this you will need a cable needle. It is a double pointed needle, usually with a bend or hook in it so that the stitches don’t fall off very easily. Some cable needles are straight wooden double pointed needles with grooves in it to grip the yarn. The reason you need a cable needle is because we will be knitting the stitches out of sequence and while you are doing that you will need a temporary home for the stitches not being worked. So, you have your yarn, your needles, your cable needle, and you’re looking at the fabric ready to cable. Here we go!

  • Knit over to the place in your fabric where you want you cable. For this cable we’re going to do it in stocking stitch with a background of reverse stocking stitch. The cable will also be over 6 stitches.
  • Purl two stitches.
  • Slide your cable needle into the next three stitches o your left hand needle, from right to left (there should be no twist).
  • When the stitches are securely on your cable needle, slide them off your left hand needle and allow the cable needle to rest at the front of your work.
  • Knit the next three stitches on your left hand needle.
  • Now knit the three stitches on your cable needle. You can knit them directly off the cable needle or place them back on the left hand needle and then knit them.
  • Purl the next two stitches and finish your row.

You have just created your first cable! You won’t see the full effect of it for a few rows however, but rest assured it is there. When you get to the cable on the next row you simply knit your stitches as you see them. In this instance you will knit 2, purl 6, knit 2. Since we are working with 6 stitches for the cable, we will cable every 6 rows. So counting the first row after your cable, when you get to six, you will repeat this cable process to put another overlap in your work. This is what a cable looks like …

We’re almost finished, so hang in there. When we did the cable described above we put the cable needle in the front of the work. doing this gives us a cable that slants to the left of the work. If you look at the picture above, the cable slants to the right. To get the cable to slant to the right, you simply put the cable needle with the three stitches to the back of the work. This will give you a right slant. In a pattern, cabling is usually written something like this – C6F. The C tell us we’ll be cabling, the 6 tell s over how many stitches, and the F tells us we’ll be putting the cable needle to the front of the work (getting a left slant to the cables). There will be a glossary with the instructions and it would look like this:
C6F – slip 3 stitches onto your cable needle and leave at the front of your work, knit 3 stitches from left needle, knit the 3 stitches on your cable needle.
The back cable  would look like this:
C6B – slip 3 stitches onto your cable needle and leave at the back of your work, knit 3 stitches from left needle, knit the 3 stitches on your cable needle.
Using these notations, here is an exercise for you to practice your left and right cable and see what they look like side by side.
CO 41 stitches.
Work selvedge stitch on first and last stitch by slipping the first stitch knitwise, and knitting the last stitch of every row.
Purl 1 row to set foundation, now begin pattern.
Row 1: *P3, K6. Repeat from * to last stitch.
Row 2: (and all alternate rows) knit the stitches as they appear.
Row 3:(P3, C6F) twice, (P3, C6B) twice, P3
Row 5: As row 1
Row 6: As row 2
Repeat these 6 rows until piece measures 8″.

Yarn over and out!

Pack your bags, we’re travelling!

Travelling Cables
There are a few things in life that people can’t seem to get enough of. If you’re a knitter, two of those things may be cables and traveling. Luckily, as a knitter you can combine both of those things in one – well, kinda. You’ve already done cables and know how much they can add to a garment so let’s take it up a notch and teach you about traveling cables. Traveling cables are simply cables that start off at one point in your work and then seem to magically snake their way across your background (usually reverse stocking stitch) and entwine themselves across your garment. Just like with regular cables, this may look magical and difficult at first but once you learn the secret, they’re a snap!

So how do we actually get a cable to shift position on the garment? Well, that’s done with what is referred to in knitting as a twist. A twist is just a cable that uses both purl and knit stitches and is denoted in the pattern by the letter T. A twist in the pattern would be written something like T3F or T4B. Just like with cable notation, the T stands for Twist, letting you know you’ll be working with purl and knit stitches, the 3 (or whichever number) tells you how many stitches you’ll be working with, and the F or B tells you that it will be a front or back (left or right) twist. If you see a B, you will be placing purl stitches on your cable needle and putting it to the back, which will travel your cable to the right. If you see an F, you will be putting knit stitches on your cable needle and holding them in front, which will travel your cable to the left. The knit stitches are always overlapped on top of the purl stitches since the purl stitches are your background.

By using a series of Twists and Cables you can create intricate braid patterns that are stunning. You can also travel your cables over your work and create serpentine patterns in your fabric. When creating traveling cables, you will usually have either a Cable or Twist on every right side row. When you have multiple knit stitches meeting up, you cable them. On other rows you will create a twist to bring the knit stitches together. Here is a diagram of a Saxon Braid: a very common traveling cable braid that demonstrates this technique. You can practice with the pattern below.

Here is the pattern for the above Saxon Braid. 
T3B –  slip next st onto cable needle and hold in back of work, k2 from left needle, p1 from cable needle.
T3F –  slip next 2 sts onto cable needle and hold in front of work, p1 from left needle, K2 from cable needle.
T4B –  slip next 2 sts onto cable needle and hold in back of work, k2 from left needle, p2 from cable needle.
T4F –  slip next 2 sts onto cable needle and hold in front of work, p2 from left needle, k2 from cable needle.
C4B – slip next 2 sts onto cable needle and hold in back of work. k2 from needle, k2 from cable needle.
C4F –  slip next 2 sts onto needle and hold in front of work, k2 from left needle, k2 from cable needle.
Panel of 24 sts on a background of Reverse Stockinette Stitch.
Additional materials: cable needle. *
Row 1: k2, p4, (k14 p4) twice, k2.
Row 2 (right side): p2, C4B, (p4, C4B) twice, p2.
Row 3: (and all alternate rows) knit stitches as they appear.
Row 4: p1, T3B, (T4F, T4B) twice, T3F, p1.
Row 6: T3B, p3, C4F, p4, C4B, p3, T3F.
Row 8: k2, p3, T3B, T4F, T4B, T3F, p3, k2.
Row 10: (k2, p3) twice, C4B, (p3, k2) twice.
Row 12: k2, p3, T3F, T4B, T4F, T3B, p3, k2.
Row 14: T3F, p3, C4F, p4, C4B, p3, T3B.
Row 16: p1, T3F, (T4B, T4F) twice, T3B, p1.
Rep Rows 1 – 16 for pattern.

Needle-less Cabling

Here is a link to a video that shows you how to knit cables without a cable needle. 
The actual process isn’t as complicated as you may think. Let’s look at it with a C4B cable. Normally for this cable you would slip 2 stitches on a cable needle and hold at the back of the work, k2, then k2 from the cable needle. If you don’t have the cable needle, here is what you do:
Take your right hand needle and going from the front, slip the 3rd and fourth stitch onto the right hand needle. Slide all the stitches off the left hand needle, being careful not to allow the first two stitches to drop down on the rows below (or unravel). Using the left hand needle, pick up the 1st and 2nd stitch that are dangling. Now place the two stitches that are on the right hand needle on the left hand needle. You have already cabled the stitches and now simply have to knit them. Have fun practicing!
Yarn over and out!

Announcing: Marching On….

This Sunday is our first meeting in March and you know what that means: check in on our Resolutions project for the year. For those of you who are new, each member has chosen one project that they would like to complete by the end of the year. On the first meeting of the month, we check in  on our progress to keep each other accountable and on track.

This is also the week to pick up any yarn that you need for our community projects. We need 18 more squres to finish our 2nd blanket – what can you whip up?

Knit 1s: This week we will finish our hat project. Please bring your supplies and hat completed to 5″ of seed stitch. The pattern was sent out 2 weeks ago, if you need it.

Take 2s: This week will be open knitting.

Coming up next week: Cables…