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TKGA Meets the Real World

April 17

You may remember I’ve been working on completing Level 2 of the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program. It is a detailed and challenging program! Before I started the program I didn’t understand the real-world application of it. Yes, I wanted to learn how to become a better knitter. But I didn’t realize tAll Postshat each level’s notebook becomes a valuable part of my reference library.

Here’s an example of how helpful it is for me to have my Level 2 notebook full of swatches and instructions. I’m making the Forest Weave top designed by Yumiko Alexander. It’s worked sideways, and the sides are bound-off edges. One of the swatches in the seaming section of Level 2 is a horizontal-to-horizontal seam like this.  I’m able to look at my swatch and instructions from my notebook to easily remind myself how work this kind of seam. Very handy!

Knitting and seaming

 Wish me luck. I’m re-submitted the swatches and text I had to re-do on Monday. Let’s hope I pass this time!

Reversible Scarves: Stefanie Moebius

May 10

Just the right weight for springtime - I made a version of my Stefanie Moebius pattern from Knit Picks’ Wool of the Andes Sport. I used Woodland Heather and Sapphire Heather. I adore sport-weight yarn, which added to this project’s fun factor. I previously made one from Lorna’s Laces, and high on my to-do list is to make one from Tosh Sport too. All these companies have such great colors to choose from!

If you’d like to make one of these yourself, the pattern is from my book Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues. There are directions for the tricky-but-fun Moebius cast-on that Cat Bordhi teaches. One of the elements I like about this design is the contrasting edging; it emphasizes the intriguing Moebius shape.

scarf, mobius, reversible

scarf, Moebius, reversible

 

Resources:

Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues

Cat Bordhi’s Moebius Cast-On video

Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport

Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport

Madelinetosh Tosh Sport

 

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!

Moebius Madness

September 6

When I signed up for Cat Bordhi‘s Moebius workshop, I had only the vaguest idea of what a Moebius actually is. Wikipedia describes it as “a surface with only one side.” In knitting, I knew of it from intriguing shawls, scarves and cowls that look like strips with a twist in the middle.

The picture below shows the surpise supplies that greeted us in the workshop. No, the apple is not a lilliputian variety – I just put in in the photos for scale to show that  the ball of yarn is really, really huge!

Moebius, Cat Bordhi, ShiBui, Addi

I couldn’t understand, why the giant yarn? Turns out the big yarn and big needles are just right for learning the special Moebius  Cast-On. It also helps when creating a new design – it means fewer stitches to rip out when the unexpected happens. See the variegated yarn in the center of the work? That, oddly enough, is the cast on that Cat so brilliantly teaches. Yes, the knitting starts in the center and works outward! This is just the beginning of where the design process is turned on its head.

 

Moebius, desigining

Wikipedia says, “If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed every part of the strip …without ever crossing an edge.”

Here’s the strip I made to start conceptualizing how to create a pattern for the Moebius shape. Not only does it start in the center, but also patterns that slant one way in the beginning slant the other way when they come around the second half of the knitting.

If this sounds like gobbledy-gook, I can highly recommend Cat’s workshops. She also has a terrific YouTube video  called “Intro to Moebius Knitting.”

My Moebius design will soon appear in… well, the Really Big Project that I can’t talk about yet.

ShiBui provided the lovely Highland Wool Alpaca yarn for Cat’s students, and the fabulous Addi Turbo needle came from Skacel.

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!

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!

Smock Top Sweater

January 11

My Smock Top Sweater design, originally published in Knotions, is now available here. And its free!

The traditional style lends itself well to dressing up (maybe with pretty black slacks?) or dressing down (paired with jeans for cozy fall and winter gatherings). Its versatility makes it useful in a time when we are all trying to get the most out of our garments.

The sweater features a form-flattering ribbed body topped by feminine smocking. The turtleneck is knit with ever-increasing sizes of needles to drape softly at the neck line.

Knit from the bottom up, the body’s 2×2 ribbing flows seamlessly into the smocking pattern that adorns the chest. At the top of the smocking, the ribs flow up to match at the shoulder, making for a pretty join.

And now for something really fun….

I know I was a little intimidated the first time I tried to knit smocking. Like a lot of seeming challenges, once I tried it, I nearly laughed at how easy it is. I’ve made a YouTube video demonstrating how to make the smocking, in case you’d like a little guidance.

The updated version of the Smock Top Sweater pattern includes corrections, clarifications, and the addition of metric measurements.

The Smock Top Sweaters that I knit for myself are made from the yarn called for in the pattern, Rowan Classic Yarns’ Cashsoft DK. I adore this yarn! It’s soft against my skin, and the bit of cashmere  content gives it warmth without excess weight.

I caught Stella (my dress form) wearing it early one morning, hanging out by the last of my dahlias.

I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start. Happy knitting!

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