A little while ago I was asked to make a scarf for somebody I know through the internet.  They want one that is in all black, which is murder on my poor old eyes.  I agreed to have  a go but had to think of some way to alleviate the problem of knitting with black yarn under artificial light.  In the end, I opted to experiment.  I’m delighted to report that the experiment is a complete success and the scarf is growing fast!  Basically, it couldn’t be simpler…  I’m using ordinary DK yarn but with 10mm needles!  The results are a delight.  It produces a light, soft, warm fabric that’s ideally suited to a scarf.  It’s also far less stressful on my eyes!

10mm Scarf

10mm Scarf WIP

The open texture gives a lace-like appearance.  I think this technique would be equally suited to tights, socks/stockings/tights, shawls, blankets and Afghans/throws.

Scarf Working

In the midst of all the other projects I’ve got on the go, I started developing another new scarf on Saturday.  It’s destined for our younger son’s partner so there’s definitely a desire to get it right!  It’s based on the feather and fan lace pattern with one or two twists of my own.

Dawn's Lace Scarf

Dawn's Lace Scarf

I’m using Cygnet DK, Shade 3501 – Mulberry Mix.  While it may be 8-ply yarn, the lace pattern makes the scarf much lighter than might be expected.  Hopefully this pattern should be a good, gentle introduction to lace knitting for those who have never tried it, whatever their level of experience.  I’ll release the pattern through Ravelry as soon as I’m satisfied with it.

Sock It To Me… The Sequel : Part 2

I’ve completed the first of the classic cable socks for Jenny:

Classic Cable Socks - WIP03

Classic Cable Socks - WIP03

Just have to knit the second one now!

Sock It To Me… The Sequel

I’m making progress on the classic cable socks for Jenny:

Since starting these socks, I’ve learnt something new.  Apparently, there’s a rule that the pattern instruction Sl 1 means Slip 1 stitch purlwise unless otherwise stated.  Having encountered patterns where this is stipulated and those where some other action is dictated, plus several where no guidance is given, I naturally assumed that you slip stitches in the manner of other stitches in the row – i.e. slip knitwise on a knit row or purlwise on a purl row.  When I reached the heel flap and turn heel, I followed that assumption.  Not having reference books or a computer handy at the time (we were out and about), I had no chance to investigate the undefined instruction.  I find it odd that the pattern includes the definitions:

ssk (slip, slip, knit) Slip next 2 sts as if to knit, one at a time, to right needle; insert left needle into fronts of these 2 sts and k them togther


sl = slip

but the sl definition doesn’t simply add the word purlwise for clarity!  Why?  Why assume the reader knows the rule or can look it up?  It seems very odd to me…

Well, all my slipped stitches are done wrong, except the SSKs, but I’m not going to “fix” them!  I actually like the effect I’ve got, especially as it cushions the back of the heel.  What a pity, though, that the confusion arose because the pattern writer thought that one eight letter word was superfluous…

How To Decrease Evenly.

This is going to be a much used website for me! I detest the “decrease x sts evenly across row” instruction in patterns!  With this, the headaches become a thing of the past.  Hooray!

Knitting How To decrease evenly..

This is just one of several very useful tools that The Knitting Fiend kindly provides.  Check them out here.

Tip: Pictorial Knitting

In making the Frog Beanie, I learnt something that I think is useful for anybody who knits pictures.  It would be very tedious indeed to portray ragged things, like grass, by using the normal Fairisle or intarsia methods.    I wanted just that effect on the Frog Beanie though!  After a few moments’ thought, I came up with a solution and the result demonstrated that it works.  Quite simply: slip stitches!  As I knitted the next row of a new colour (blue on the beanie) above the two rows of green (the grass base), I randomly slipped a stitch instead of knitting it!  By slipping it purlwise, with the yarn in the back on knit rows/in front on purl rows, an extended green stitch was carried up through the blue.  I also applied swapping by moving a stitch onto a cable needle and holding it at the front or back (depends on which will leave the slipped stitch visible on the right side) and then knitting/purling or slipping the second stitch to the right hand needle before knitting/purling or slipping the stitch off the cable needle.  That swapping gives a nice angled stitch.  The trick is to make sure that the slipped stitch stays visible on the right side and that it doesn’t get twisted!  I didn’t need anything too tall so didn’t make much adjustment to the tension of the stitches to be slipped.  If you want to raise it by several rows, though, I suggest that you make those stitches somewhat looser than the rest in the row where they’ll originate.

Assuming that the “right side” will be predominantly the knit view of stocking stitch, not the purl, then you’ll find that the distinctive V shape of a knit stitch enhances the effect.

A similar process would undoubtedly work with making other contributions to a picture, such as branches/twigs, vines, and such, especially using swapping as well.

Cable Creation

Having followed patterns that involved cables and slipped stitches, I decided that it was time for me to follow up on my desire to design my own cable patterns.  I mentioned Knit Design Studio in an earlier post and it was this that I used to create a chart.  I’m delighted with how the test swatch turned out.  I used double knit yarn and 4.5mm needles for it.

I named it Owl Totem cable because the second section, vertically, resembles an owl to me!  In addition to cables, the pattern includes slipped stitches to bracket the design.


Tip: Grafting

This describes anchoring a short row segment for adding other sections of knitting, for example a beard on a toy pattern.  In fact, I’ll use the beard as the example throughout!

Knit up to the row where the top of beard will be placed.  Knit up to and including the stitch immediately prior to the stitch where the beard will be placed.  Switch to the the beard colour.  Knit the number of stitches stated for the top of the beard (note: this could be either the starting row or the cast off/bind off row in the pattern you are working to).  Thread a stitch holder through these stitches (retaining the stitches on the needle!)  and hold on the right side (RS) of the fabric. When you have completed these stitches, revert to the previous colour and continue working the pattern as written.  On completing the piece, e.g. head/head & body, and prior to sewing up, follow the next instructions.

If the pattern works the beard from bottom to top, you will need to invert it!  You MUST work from top to bottom.  Insert the appropriate size needle into the stitches held on the stitch holder, or slip them from the holder to the needle.  Follow the pattern for the beard either as written or in reverse as appropriate.  You will finish up with the beard already attached, in the right position.  If it refuses to lie flat, it can be secured using the tail of yarn between the main fabric and the beard.  Finish the piece off as usual, making sure that the beard’s yarn tails are also woven in to hide them.

You may wish to improve the look in some instances, such as the beard in the example above, by having one or two more stitches of the main fabric, in the grafted piece’s colour, either side of those required to be held on the stitch holder.  This process could be used to attach pockets too, but in that case, you would knit the pocket from bottom to top and you would still need to sew the sides of the pocket onto the main fabric.  In fact, there may well be other instances where this could be applied.

A final note:  It’s much easier to follow this process once the main fabric is no longer held on a needle!

Tip: Drawstring Finishing

Many of the toys I’ve knitted involve sewing down to the cast on edge, where you are then told to pass the yarn through the cast on stitches to create a drawstring effect. I did this several times and found the results less than pleasing. Now, if the pattern includes this process, I start with a longer yarn tail when casting on. Once I have all the stitches cast on, I thread the yarn onto a darning/tapestry needle and thread it through the stitches before going on to the first row. When that part of the project is completed, I have a drawstring already in place for the cast on stitches edge! You do have to be a little bit more careful doing the first row, avoiding splitting or picking up the threaded yarn, but it works so much better.

Expanding To DPNs

As a continuation of my adventure in knitting, I’ve started using double-pointed needles (DPNs) to “knit in the round” for the first time. This always terrified me – all those needles, with nothing to stop stitches falling off the ends, and still only two hands to manipulate them with! What could be more frightening? I won’t pretend that my first attempt has produced perfect results – far from it. Getting the tension right at each junction of the needles has been very difficult for me, and so the fabric has definite faults in it, but I’ll admit that perhaps it’s not as impossible as I thought it would be. I may have to do some “repairs” to close some gaps here and there in the finished project, but in general I’m happy with how things have gone. I doubt that I’ll become a DPN or “knitting in the round” addict, but I do now know that I can do it if I want to.