Book Review: Curls

I am currently working on my second project from the Curls series.  I love the idea behind these books.   The patterns in Curls and Curls 2 are totally adaptable. You can use any yarn weight, and any needles that give you the fabric that you’re looking for.  You can make the Curl as big or small as you like.  Each pattern has a main section that is repeated multiple times until you are done.  For me, I’m done when I run out of yarn, or the Curl is as big as I would like.  The result is a beautiful scarf, shawlette or shawl that can be worn a few different ways due to the shape of the Curl.  This book provides the perfect project for those special single balls of yarn that are purchased without a specific project in mind.  You don’t have to worry about having enough yardage to complete the project.  You just adjust the size of the final project by adjusting the number of repeats you complete.

This is my first Curl in Malabrigo sock.  It was so fun to knit and turned out beautiful.  It was fairly simple lace, since the same pattern is repeated throughout the Curl.

I was recently asked by my violin teacher to suggest a product that she could knit to keep her neck and chest warm while playing in the symphony.  I immediately thought of a small Curl in fingering weight yarn that will not put bulk between her shoulder and the violin.  Of course, the product needs to be black per the symphony dress code.  I offered to make it for her since she is really new to lace knitting and I thought a black shawl may be too much of a challenge.  Thus, my second Curl is in black.   I will be discussing some guidelines for knitting in black next week.

Wrap and Turn

When you see that a pattern includes “short rows” do you just want to pass it over?  I have long had a fear of short rows.   In fact, the first shawl I ever attempted, had wrap and turn short rows.  At the time, I didn’t understand the purpose of short rows or how to execute them.  I eventually frogged the shawl.  I have yet to go back and knit that pattern.  Over time, I have gained a better understanding of the purpose of short rows and how to knit them.

My latest project was a shawlette with a design that was new to me.  You cast on all the stitches for the lace border.  After completing the border, you knit to the middle 50 stitches or so, then do longer and longer short rows until you are knitting across the whole shawl.  The purpose, is to have the shawl be wider in the middle (mid-back), and thinner at the edges (the ties of the shawl).

The wrap and turn is really quite easy to perform.  I find the biggest challenge is to identify the wrapped stitch when you knit back toward it.  Adding a stitch marker at the wrapped stitch has made all the difference.  So, to perform a wrap and turn, follow these steps.

1. Knit to the stitch that will be wrapped

2. Slip the stitch you wish to wrap purlwise to the right hand needle

3.  Bring the yarn forward

4. Place a stitch marker after the last stitch on the left hand needle

5. Slide the slipped stitch back to the left hand needle.  The stitch marker should be just to the left of this stitch

6.  Now turn your work and start knitting.  If you are doing Garter stitch, the yarn is already in the back from when you brought it forward with the wrap and turn.

When you come to the wrapped stitch, you can camouflage the wrap by knitting it together with the wrapped stitch.   In the second picture from the bottom, I am holding up the wrap with my needle tip.  In the bottom picture, I am knitting the wrap and the wrapped stitch together.  The wrapped stitch disappears into your garter rows.

What happens if you just turn your work and don’t wrap your stitch?  A hole will appear in your work.  If you’re knitting lace, you can incorporate the hole into your pattern.  Otherwise, the wrap prevents the hole.


Smarter Lifelines

For me, knitting lace shawls is a lesson in lifelines.  Lifelines are an additional piece of yarn in a contrasting color, that is placed through a row of stitches in case you need to rip back.  It is so hard to rip back in lace without a lifeline, because the yarn overs disappear as you go.  The more lace shawls I knit, the more often I place a lifeline.  This lesson has truly been learned the hard way. I finally tried the lifeline feature that is part of the cord in my Addi lace long tip interchangeable needles.  Now that I’ve done a lifeline this way, I can’t imagine I would ever go back to using a yarn needle for this task.  Some lace interchangeable needles have a small opening in the needle or cord, through which you can place an extra piece of yarn or plain dental floss to use as a lifeline.  This Addi cord has a small opening near the tip that is visible if you fold the cord in half. I thread a contrasting color of yarn on to a yarn needle and pull it through the opening.  Then as you knit your next row, the lifeline yarn gets incorporated into the  row of stitches.  Make sure you pull the contrasting yarn all the way through your row at the end so all your stitches are on the lifeline.   I usually knot the ends of the lifeline so it doesn’t get pulled back through when you work subsequent rows.   No matter how you place your lifeline, it’s important not to include your stitch markers in the lifeline.  The markers will become trapped on the lifeline and cannot move with your knitting.  The markers will not come out until you pull that lifeline.  The solution is to use removable stitch markers, or remove them for the lifeline row, then replace them on the next row.  You can see on my current project that I forgot to remove the central pink stitch marker on one of my lifeline rows. Also, make sure you document which rows contain a lifeline.  It seems like it would be easy to figure out where you are in the pattern when you rip back to a lifeline.  However, I have found that I am sometimes pretty puzzled about which row I should start with after the lifeline.  

Slip, slip, purl

I came across slip, slip purl (SSP) in the crown section of a hat I just finished.  The pattern had SSP, then purl  2 together every other stitch.  It was only until halfway around the first row, that I realized I don’t really know how to SSP.  I was slipping the stitches purlwise, then purling them together.  This technique resulted in exactly the same stitch as purl 2 together, or a right leaning decrease.  The SSP is meant to create a left leaning decrease to complement the right leaning Purl 2 together.  So what was I doing wrong?

The key to SSP is to slip the stitches KNITWISE.  Then pass the stitches back to the left handed needle and purl 2 together.  Because the stitches are twisted from slipping them knitwise, the decrease will lean in the opposite direction from Purl 2 together.  Now I have another simple technique to add to my knitting tool box!

REDO: Knitting the same pattern multiple times

Do you ever knit the same pattern more than once? I just finished my 3rd Drachenfels.  I was looking over my Ravelry projects collection, and I realized I do this often.  But why?  I personally have a number of reasons for these repeats.

  1.  First and foremost, I repeat the pattern because it wasn’t perfect the first time.  If somewhere along the way the stitch count gets off and I have to fudge a correction,  I feel like the pattern has conquered me.  I find it so satisfying to knit the pattern again and get the right count.  I guess I could just pull out my work and repeat to get the right count the first time I knit the pattern.  However, at the time, when I discover an error, that never feels like a good option.
  2. I reuse a pattern because I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.  I paid around $6 for Drachenfels, and have now used that patttern 3 times.  At $2 per use, that’s a pretty good deal.
  3. If I really like the way something turned out, I might want to try it with different colors.  Or, I might want to make a small adjustment in the pattern to make it look even better.
  4. Sometimes, a friend or family member will ask me to make them the same pattern that they see me wearing.  That’s how I ended up making Drachefels for the 2nd time.
  5. Sometimes I will make a shawl with a fingering yarn first, then repeat the pattern with lace yarn, which I find more challenging. 

Ravelry Research Prior to Purchasing a Pattern

Prior to purchasing a knitting pattern, I usually do some research on Ravelry.  If I’m going to invest my time and energy in a project, I want the best opportunity to end up with a project that I’m pleased with.  First , I look to see how many projects have been made from this pattern.  Of course not everyone who knits up a pattern is going to make a project page on Ravelry.  But I feel I can assume the more projects posted on Ravelry for a given pattern, the more times the pattern has been knitted.  I’m much more likely to purchase a pattern that has many projects posted.    Then I reviews the project pages looking for these things.

1. What comments did the knitters make about the pattern?

For example, are other knitters finding the directions hard to follow.  Are knitters questioning a potential mistake in the pattern.  Or, are knitters commenting about how much they love the pattern and/or love the finished project

2. What yarn did other knitters use?  I’m particularly interested in the yarn used if I don’t plan to use the yarn recommended by the pattern.  Looking at what yarn other knitters used, gives me good ideas for reasonable substitutions.

3. I look at color choices that other knitters used.  I am very often surprised at how much I like someone else’s color combinations that I would have never put together myself.  I feel like I get to preview potential color combinations this way without having to knit up a swatch first.

4.  I also look at any adjustments other knitters had to make for needle size to obtain gauge.  Of course gauge is individual, but if most knitters had to increase their needle one size to get gauge, I may want to hold off on purchasing a needle until I have complete a gauge swatch.

ChiaGoo accident

Like most lessons in life, I learned this one the hard way.  I was happily packing up my knitting for a business trip.  Planning my trip project is one of my favorite parts of any travel.  I was in a hurry when attaching my Chicago lace tips to my red cable.  In my rush, I cross-threaded the tip.  At that point, I could not unscrew the tip.  I had to recruit the help of my husband.  He eventually got the tip off, but now the end of the tip is bent and no longer screws down correctly on to the cable.  I quickly had to change gears and plan for another project, as I only have 1 set of each tip.

However, I did learn something helpful.  You can buy replacement tips and cables for this set.  You can also add tips and cables to the set as needed.   I ordered the replacement tips before leaving, and they arrived while I was away.  Fortunately, I had plenty of other projects planned so I was able to grab another one to work on during my travels.

The moral of the story: Take care when placing and removing your tips!

Where to buy Lopi?

I finished my lett lopi sweater.  After trying it on, I can’t wait to work with lopi again.  It really is much lighter than any other wool sweater I have, and feels so good on my body.  I live in Arizona, so my need for wool sweaters is small.  However, I have a whole family of siblings and nieces and nephews in the Midwest who I can knit for.

I started looking for a source of lopi as I haven’t seen it at my local stores.  I found lopi at several internet stores, such as Webs.  The price ranges from $5-$5.50 per 50g ball, + tax and shipping.  Just for comparison, I looked at the Nordic Store in Iceland.  Their lopi is  $3.10 per ball with no tax.  The shipping costs are substantial.  For 10 skeins of yarn, the shipping cost is $29.  However, since there is no sales tax, I actually still come out cheaper buying the 10 balls of yarn from Iceland and paying the steep shipping cost.  I was really surprised by this savings.  As long as I’m not in a hurry, I will order my Lopi directly from Iceland unless I can find a really great sale at one of the U.S. online stores.

Purl 2 together, through back loop

As I delve further into the world of lace knitting, I keep coming across Purl 2 together through the back loop.  When I started with lace, I was always just purling on the wrong side row.  Now I’m working on more challenging patterns that work increases and decreases on both sides of the lace.

Purl 2 together through the back loop will create a right leaning decrease on the side of the work facing you while you work it.  I’m usually working this decrease on the non-public side, or wrong side of the work.  If you turn the work around to the public side, this decrease will be left leaning and look like an SSK, or slip, slip, knit on the right side.

Here’s how to work the decrease.


You take your right hand needle around the back side of the next 2 stitches on the left hand needle.  You insert the right hand needle into the 2nd stitch from the needle first.  You have to twist the needle and your work around a bit to get your needle inserted correctly.  Then just purl 2 together as usual.  If this method doesn’t make sense, you can work a purl 2 together after changing the stitch mount of your stitches on the left hand needle.  That means you take the stitches off the left hand needle, then replace them so they are twisted.  When the stitches are twisted, the back side yarn will lie forward, or closer to the needle tip than the front side yarn.  You can also twist your stitches by slipping them one at a time as if to knit, then replacing them back on the left side needle without reorienting them. Then just purl 2 together through the front loops like normal.


ChiaGoo Twist Review

I recently used a gift certificate to purchase the ChiaGoo Twist Red Lace Small interchangeable set.  According to the owner of my LYS, this set is the best interchangeable set on the market.  I have only tried a couple of other interchangeable sets, but this one is also my favorite.  The key is the T-pin.   Using this pin “locks” the tips in place and I have never had a detachment.  I have used Addi Click interchangeable needles, but have had a couple of untimely detachments working on lace.  I ended up buying a fixed circular needle to continue with my lace after having to rip back to a lifeline for the 3rd time when the interchangeable tip came off.

This ChiaGoo small set comes with tip sizes 2-8.  The set has a nice carrying case, which is in fact the same case as for the full set (needle sizes 2-15).  Therefore, if you later decide to add additional tips to your set, they can all stay in the same case.    These tips are slightly more tapered then the Addi Lace tips and I find them even easier to knit with.

The set comes with the T-pin as mentioned.  This pin is necessary to tighten and loosen the tip from the cord.  You simply insert the T-pin through the hole in the cord, and then tighten or loosen as needed.  If doesn’t feel like anything is happening at this point, but the magic is indeed happening.  The tips remain in place until you place the T-pin and loosen the tips for removal.

The set comes with 3 red cords.  These cords are sturdy but flexible, and are perhaps what the ChiaGoo brand is best known for.  The cords are 14 inches, 22 inches and 32 inches.  Remember, they will function as 24 inch, 32 inch and 42 inch cords when you factor in both 5 inch tips.  I find the 5 inch tips easier to work with then the 4 inch tips that come in some other sets.  The set also comes with 2 pieces you can attach to the cords to secure your knitting if you want to use the same tips for a different project.  There is also a small connector piece that you can use to attach 2 cords and make a longer cord.  The hole in the cord for the T-pin can be used to place a lifeline through if desired.  The additional goodies in this set include a gauge and stitch markers.

Overall, I love this set and would highly recommend it if you are in the market for an interchangeable set.