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Stabilizing Tea Leaves

July 7

If you follow my blog, you’ve read about my experiment to add stability to top-down seamless sweaters (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Here’s how I’m applying my experiment to the Tea Leaves Cardigan, shown here in a photo from the pattern; note the gathered yoke pattern, which is where I’ll hide the shoulder seams:

tea_leaves_macro_low_res_medium

The first step was to cast on partway down into the neck edging pattern, so future picked-up stitches would reinforce the neckline. Then I identified where the fake shoulder seams would go, increased one stitch before and one stitch after each seam, and marked the seam with markers.:

MarkSeams_Sml

I worked the pattern as written, except that I knit between the seam markers on the RS and purled them on the WS.

Here’s the seam in progress:

WS_Seam_Beg_sml

When the seam got to be about 2-1/2″ long I ended it. If you look closely at the top of the seam you can see that I used a ssk and k2tog to decrease away the seam stitches so may stitch count once again matched the pattern:

RS_Seam4_sml

The next step was to use the mattress stitch to sew up the seam. On the WS it looks like this; you can see how it will prevent the shoulders from stretching out:

WS_SeamSewn_sml

I was happy to see that from the RS, the seam is undetectable:

RS_SeamSewn_sml

 

Here’s what the piece looks like now that I’ve worked the yoke and some of the body. There’s no seam in sight, and you’d never know the stitches around the neck had been picked up and worked upward. The neck and shoulder treatments should give me a nice stable sweater that won’t stretch out:

TeaLeavesNeck_First2_sml

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Resources:

Super-pretty stitch markers are made by my friend Laurie. They are great because the don’t catch on the yarn, like some stitch markers do. Plus they are fun and sparkly. She sells them through her Lima Pop Shoppe.

Tea Leaves Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre.

TKGA Level 2 Cables

April 2

You might remember from a previous post that my friend Cindy and I are slogging working our way through the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program‘s Level 2. I hate to whine, so let’s just say the Greek myth of Sisyphus has been much on my mind lately.  Every time I get through another section of the program I fool myself into thinking I might be getting closer to the end.  Then I realize how much more there is to research and write and knit. The list seems to multiply while I’m not looking.

Seriously, this program is wonderful for someone like me who loves to learn. I honestly appreciate finding out what I don’t know, so I can add to my skill set. I just finished researching Level 2’s section on cables. Here are the swatches, awaiting their final tags:

 TKGA Hand Knitting Program, cables, TKGA

Next it’s on to buttonholes, stranding, argyle socks……Whew!

Resources:

The Knitting Guild Association: Check this out for excellent correspondence courses, the fabulous Cast On magazine, and conferences.

New Video – Binding Off in Pattern

March 28

I love casting on and binding off in pattern. Especially with ribbing, it can lend a nice subtle edge. I find this technique so useful, I’ve made a new video to match the previous one about casting on in pattern.

If you don’t already, I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel. No surprise here, it’s called the AudKnits channel. I hope you find the videos helpful!

Starting Ishbel

March 13

I’m finally getting the chance to start a pattern I’ve been wanting to try for the longest time. Ishbel is a beautiful shawl design by Ysolda Teague. I’m making the smaller version, out of Swans Island fingering weight yarn.

Ishbel, Ysolda Teague, shawl, Swans Island, charts, how to knit

Every so often I get inquiries about how to work lace and/or charts. As a reminder, you can find an excellent (if I do say so myself) blurb in the Tips & Techniques section of my web site about how to work with charts. I like to use Post-It Notes to keep track of my place on a chart, but Ishbel’s chart is too wide. Highlighter tape comes to the rescue! I know some people like to put the tape right over the line they’re working on, but I’m so set in my ways, I put it just above the line just like I do when using the sticky notes.

Next comes the use of markers. Here’s my philosophy – either I can use markers, counting stitches as I go and fixing mistakes early on, or I can skip them, make mistakes way back in the work, then have to rip back to fix them when eventually I find my count is off, and be grumpy for an extended period of time. No thanks! I put markers every three repeats in Ishbel, giving me a manageable number of stitches to count. The pattern makes it so I have to shift the markers frequently, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. The coffee bean marker tells me, “Wake up – you’re coming to the center section!” The center is worked differently than the repeats.

Another anxiety reliever is the life line. That’s the contrasting color you can see in the photo. I’ve already had to rip back to the life line, and was very glad it was there! I’ll move it up at the end of the section I’m working on, so it’ll be ready to save the day again if needed.

If you’re new to lace and charts, or just needed a refresher, I hope you found this helpful!

Braided Cable Video

October 13

With the popularity of the AudKnits Braided Cable Hat pattern, it seems like a good time to remind everyone there’s a “how to” video on the AudKnits YouTube channel showing how to work the cable. For those new to knitting cables, this video can be your introduction to using a cable needle. Or maybe you’d just like to brush up on the technique. Either way, it’ll make knitting the Braided Cable Hat a snap!

Braided Cable Hat Comes Back

September 28

I’ve expanded upon my Braided Cable Hat pattern to include additional sizes, plus new instructions for using two colors. Now that it’s available in Small, Medium and Large, it makes for great fall and winter knitting for children, women and men. You can deck out your entire family!

The huge variety of colors available in worsted weight yarn makes this a good go-to pattern for gifts or to accessorize any outfit you might have in mind.

The simple cable, small amount of provisional cast-on and special knit/purl grafting technique make it a good project for trying methods that may be new to the less-experienced knitter. Line-by-line instructions make the grafting a breeze.

 

There are two easy ways to purchase this pattern for $1.99.

1. I’m grateful to Knit Picks for adding the Braided Cable Hat to their Independent Designer Program. There are lots of good things to say about ordering from Knit Picks. I used their terrific Swish Worsted Yarn for the pattern. It’s knits nicely, offers good stitch definition that makes the cabled braid stand out, is made of 100% superwash merino for easy care, and comes in dozens of tempting colors. The yarn is affordable, too!

 Knit Picks makes it so easy to make this hat – you have the option of buying a kit, which means that in one simple press of the button you can buy the pattern download plus the yarn colors shown in my photos. They also make it easy to buy your own colors, or even substitute one of their other worsted weight yarns. It’s all listed right there on the pattern page.  Or you can buy the pattern download alone. I love the flexibility Knit Picks offers. Brilliant!

2. If you’re logged into Ravelry, you can purchase the pattern from my AudKnits Store.

 I want to thank Susan Claudino, of Ravelry NoKnitSherlock fame, for knitting the hat samples for me. She went way above the call of duty, knitting her little fingers off in time for the photo shoot.

Knit Picks Pattern

April 8

I’m excited and grateful to be part of Knit Pick’s Independent Designer Program! The Knit Picks version of my Smock Top Sweater uses their beautiful Merino Style yarn. I’m crazy for the Kenai color seen here:

 

I have a Japanese Maple that leafs out red in the spring. Doesn’t it look like fall?

I appreciate Knit Pick’s including me in their Independent Designers Program. You can read more about it and see other patterns here.

Many thanks to Susan Claudino for doing an awesome job knitting the sample for the Knit Picks Smock Top Sweater! She’s a talented knitter, and you can admire her work on her NoKnitSherlock Ravelry page.

For anybody who’d like a refresher on how to knit smocking, I’ll remind you I’ve posted a YouTube video that demonstrates the technique.

 

Holey Procrastination

January 28

I’ve learned a lot from my first big lace project. It all started a couple of years ago. (Yep – this is my longest-running UFO ever.) For my birthday, my friend gave me the fabulous book “Victorian Lace Today” by Jane Sowerby. I took a lace class at my LYS, made about a dozen swatches (and you wonder where I get the nickname Swatch Queen), and settled on a yarn I liked. I commenced to knit the Leaf and Trellis design… some would say obsessively. I was really getting the hang of this lace knitting thing! I completed the center and got a good start on the border.

Then I put it down for about a year, as I allowed Life and other projects to divert my attention. Big mistake.

When I picked the project up again, it was as if I’d never laid eyes on it, let alone contributed countless hours to its existence already. I studied the diagrams. I looked at my previous work. Still, the squiggles on the charts meant nothing to me. I previously thought that after knitting about 16,000 of the same stitch, I would never have to look it up again. But no. And I kept forgetting the silliest things, like doing the “pass over” part of “psso”.

I discovered some nifty techniques along the way that I thought I’d share with you. Maybe you’ll find them handy too!

One thing that helped me get back on track was my own chart I had created (and even saved – yay!) right in the beginning. I used Stitch & Motif Maker to replicate the chart from the book. As you can see in the photo below, I put little numbers in the stitch squares before a long-ish series of knit stitches. I did this because I found that when I’m following a chart and run into a series of blank squares representing knit stitches, I get hung up having to think about how many stitches are coming up. I can glance at any chart and my brain immediately registers seeing one, two, or three stitches in a row. But any more than that and I have to mentally pause, especially when it gets to be six or seven. Which is it? Six? Seven? Four?  The little numbers I put in the squares tell me “knit four” or “knit seven” – whatever the case may be. One glance and I can chug along without pause.

Another thing that made it well worth the charting effort is that Stitch & Motif Maker puts the stitch numbers along the bottom of the chart. Unfortunately, the charts in Victorian Lace Today do not include the stitch numbers. To me, it makes it cumbersome to keep track of how many stitches I should have on the needles at any given point. Making my own charts allows me to quickly see the stitches I should have; considering how frequently I make mistakes, this is a very good thing!

By making my own chart I could also make it plenty big enough to see easily. I print it on cardstock paper so it doesn’t slide around in my lap. The post-its I use to mark my place stick better, too.

To keep track of which stitches are to receive double and triple joins, I put two different colors of  removeable stitch markers in the stitches. I used turquoise to indicate a double join, and orange to indicate a triple join.

I’m determined to get this shawl completed before my next birthday, which is right around the corner. (Honestly, without deadlines I’d atrophy altogether.) With luck, I’ll be wearing this to my birthday dinner!

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