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!

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.

 

Transformed, by Felting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the process of felting because your work is literally transformed in the washer.  After felting, your piece is smaller in size, thicker and has a tighter weave.  Do you ever wonder what is actually taking place in the washer?

Felting works on animal fibers that have tiny scales.  Wool is the classic fiber used for felting.  When you get the piece wet, the scales open up slightly.  Then, when you apply heat and agitation, the scales irreversibly bind the fibers together.  Superwash wool has been treated to prevent the felting process.  Therefore, if your goal is felting, you want to avoid superwash products.

So how exactly do you felt?

I place my finished object in a lingerie bag.  I put it in the washer with a pair of old jeans.  The jeans add additional agitation to help the felting process.  You can also use a tennis ball for this purpose.  Then I run my washer with hot water and high agitation, checking the item frequently until it has felted  adequately.  I then roll up my item in a towel to collect most of the moisture, then set it out to dry.  For tote bags, I place polyester fiberfill in a plastic grocery bag and place the filled plastic grocery bag inside the tote bag.  Then I set the tote bag out to dry overnight.   I add or remove fiberfill as needed until my tote bag assumes the shape I want.   And Voila! I have a beautiful, sturdy felted piece.

When planning to make a felted piece, you need to think about shrinkage.  A felted gauge swatch is critical.  Most felted pieces will shrink more in height than width.  Also, the looser the texture of your piece, the more mobile the fibers are, and the more felting that will take place.  If you are making a flat piece, you can always knit bigger, and the cut out the final shape after felting.

Once you start felting, you may not be able to stop.  It is such a thrill to see your piece transformed in the felting process.  If you havent’ tried felting, go ahead, give it a try!

Tinking

Anyone who has been knitting for a while has probably also tinked.  I was tinking (or unknitting) long before I knew the term sinking.  Tink is “knit” spelled backward.  Tinking, is going backward in your knitting, taking out the stitches one at a time to correct an error.  I always use tinking when I’m taking out rows of lace knitting because it is so easy to lose your yarn-overs and end up with the wrong stitch count.  If I am ripping out garter stitch or stockinette, I will rip back a large section instead, then gather up all the stitches on my needle.

When tinking, it’s important to get the stitch mount correct.  Sometimes, when tinking, the stitches end up twisted on your needle.  The next stitch on the needle in the photo is twisted.  I can tell when I come to a twisted stitch in my knitting because the back loop of the stitch lies closer to the tip of the needle than the front loop.  Normally, the front loop lies slightly closer to the needle tip.  The stitch also feels a bit tighter when twisted due to the twist in yarn at the base of the stitch.  The simplest way to fix the twist is to knit into the back loop of the twisted stitch.  I try to remember “2 wrongs make a right” in this circumstance, first wrong is getting the stitch mounted wrong on the needle and second wrong is knitting into the back loop.   You can also untwist the stitch and remount on your needle, then knit into the front loop like usual if you prefer.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and find plenty of time to knit, with very little tinking required!

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How to create a Picot edge

A picot edge adds a wonderful decorative detail to a piece.  I recently finished “hot oatmeal” which is a lovely shawl with a picot bind-off.  You can see the pretty detail the picot adds to the shawl, and this shawl has not even been blocked yet.  After blocking, the picots will stand out even more.

Like most things in knitting, the picot bind-off is a very simple technique that really jazzes up your knitted piece.  The technique involves casting on, then binding off extra stitches to create the picot bumps.  You then bind off an equal number of stitches between the picot bumps so they are spaced evenly.  It’s really as simple as that.  Picots can be made in different sizes.   Creating a picot by casting on and binding off 2 extra stitches per picot bump seems to look the best in my projects. To create a 2 stitch picot bind off, you would cast on 2 extra stitches at the beginning of the row to be bound off.  Then bind off 4 stitches (2 for the picot bump which are the extra 2 stitches you cast on, then 2 from the project edge that will space out the picot bumps).  Here is a step by step guide to the picot bind-off.

 

 

 

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Picot Bind-Off

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1. Cast on 2 stitches at beginning of bind-off row

 

 

 

 

 

018c07f05060134681c2c397b06fb44fee630ef8a52. Bind off 4 stitches

 

 

 

 

 

01622d720fa2946633553b7ae13fd77c5c4635cf733. Transfer remaining stitch from right needle to left needle.

 

 

4. REPEAT steps 1-3 until all stitches are bound off.

 

 

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In this picture, 1 picot has been made and the additional stitches have been cast on to start the next picot.

 

 

 

 

 

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About half the stitches have been bound off in the picot method.

 

 

 

Always remember to account for extra time and extra yarn to complete the picot bind-off.

Easy German Short Rows

Today I’m going to show you how to do a German short row.  I’ve always been intimidated to learn this short row technique because I found wrap and turn to be somewhat difficult.  I always had the impression that this short row technique would be even more challenging.  However, I started my first mystery knit along this week and was forced to learn this technique, which was part of the knit along.  Once I learned how to do it, I wished I had learned this technique long ago.  For me, the German short row technique is a lot more intuitive then the wrap and turn.  Let me show you how to do it, and it might become your favorite too.

On this piece, I’ve knit up to 2 stitches left in the row.  The second to last stitch is where I’m doing the short row.  I’m actually going to go ahead and knit that stitch like normal.  Then, I’m going to turn the work.  The yarn has to be forward in the German short row technique.  Then I’m going to slip this stitch that I just knit, purlwise.  And then the technique is as simple as pulling this yarn up and over the needle.  Now you can see these 2 legs.  That’s how you know you’ve done it correctly.  Then I’m going to knit the rest of the row.  I’m doing this in garter stitch.  I’ll show you once I get back to the “double-legged” stitch on the other side.  I’m going to knit that stitch like a “knit 2 together”  with both legs knit into a single stitch.  The double leg stitch will become hidden and look like purl bump.  This technique is an excellent choice for garter stitch.  I’ll knit to the end of the row and back, until I get to the “double-legged stitch” and then I’ll show you what that looks like.

So now I’ve knit back to the place where I did the German short row, and you can see this stitch has the 2 legs that I pulled up and over the needle when I did the short row.  Now, I’m just going to knit into those 2 as if it was a knit 2 together, so the 2 behave like 1 stitch.  That’s all there is to the technique.  When I turn the work over, you can see that short row is really hidden on the back of the work.

How to knit a gauge swatch for circular knitting

I have been very frustrated over the years when attempting to knit a gauge swatch for a project worked in the round.  The gauge swatch was possible when given in stockinette stitch.  However, when the gauge was given “in pattern” it became much more difficulty.  Many times, I tried to convert the directions from the round into flat knitting (knitting the purls and purling the knits on the wrong side rows).  This conversion can be very difficult depending on the complexity of the pattern.  I often gave up on the gauge swatch which sometimes worked out OK, but many times did not.    It wasn’t until I started knitting Fair isle, that I learned how to accomplish this task.

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