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Monthly Archives: February 2010

  • Increases: The More the Merrier

    One of the many things I enjoy about both knitting and crocheting is that they both tend to be fairly straightforward. You start with X number of stitches, work them in stitch pattern Y, and when you're done, you have project Z completed.

    Except sometimes, it's not all that straightforward. There are increases and decreases to be worked, colors to be changed in and out, stitch patterns to be changed between, finishing to be done...you get the idea. Once you start thinking about all that, your nice, easy hobby becomes a bit more daunting. There's no reason to panic, though -- all these things are really, when it comes down to it, still pretty straightforward.

    Let's take a look at increases, for instance. When you encounter an instruction for an increase, try not to over-think it. Most of the time, the instructions are pretty literal.

    In crochet, the most common increase is to work two stitches into one (e.g., "2 sc in next st"). This can be a little confusing if you over-think it, but it's really literally just what it says: you make a single crochet (sc) into the next stitch just as you normally would, then you go back into that same stitch and make another sc. That's all there is to it. (Note: it doesn't have to be a sc — this increase can be done with any type of stitch.)

    Knitting increases are a little more complicated. Some involve making a completely new stitch between two other stitches, like the yarn-over (YO) or make 1 (m1). One of the most common, however, is the kfb, which stands for "knit in the front and back of the stitch." There is one little trick to this stitch, and that is that after you make the first knit (into the front of the stitch), you don't complete the ultimate step of removing the worked stitch from the left needle; instead, you immediately make the second stitch (into the back of the stitch). Only then do you remove the worked stitch from the left needle.

    See? Increases are nothing to fret about!

    One thing that will help you keep on track is to check your total stitch count whenever you're given a reference in the pattern. It'll look something like this at the end of a row: "-- 15 (17, 19)." If your stitch count is correct, you should be in pretty good shape.

    Need more help? Visit our YouTube channel for new video tutorials on increasing.

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  • Design 101: Creating Your Own Color Combination

    Wax CrayonsHave you ever seen a pattern you like but hesitated to use it because of the colors?   We'd like to help you get started as a designer with some simple steps to choosing the color combinations you prefer.

    Today we'll work with the Mulberry Afghan, #90310.  Think about what colors you would like to use.  Would you like to give it as a gift to a friend?  If so, what are her favorite colors?  What are the colors of her living room?  If it is for yourself, look at the colors of the room where you would like to display the afghan, think about the colors that make you happy, or even draw inspiration from favorite objects like paintings or even a season.

    The best way to select colors is by putting together the actual balls of yarn or yarn swatches.  Trying to select colors of yarn based on the way the colors appear on your computer or in the catalog is risky, especially if you are trying to match colors you already have.  The colors on the computer screen or in the catalog will never exactly match the actual yarn.

    The best way to look at as many color options as possible is to have a color card.  We'll be selecting from the Vanna lines of yarn, so you should order the Vanna's Choice color card for this project.  You may order only this color card for $1.99 and shipping will be free by ordering item #ccvanna.  It includes sample strands of Vanna's Choice, Vanna's Choice Baby and Vanna's Glamour yarns.

    Once you receive the card, compare the colors of the actual yarn to the colors you would like to match or the colors you want to use.  Select 2-4 colors for this project.  Then use the diagram above (click to enlarge it, then print it out) to put sample strands of the colors into the spots on the diagram and see how they look together.  You can play around with crayons or paints while you are waiting for your color card to arrive to get a general idea of the color scheme, then see if there are actual yarn colors that look like they would fit your color scheme.

    A ripple afghan is a great way to experiment with colors and to unleash your creativity.  Let us know how it goes!

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  • Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: The Inishturk Shapes Up

    The Inishturk Sweater is certainly a cabled sweater of "Olympic" proportions!  I know I'm not the only one having fun knitting it while watching the 2010 Winter Games.  One reason this sweater is a great project to work with cables is because there is very little shaping in this sweater.  However, we do have necks and arms!   So there is a little shaping at the top of the back and front as well as the sides of the sleeves.   Some of you have been wondering how to keep your knitting in pattern while working the shaping of the neck and sleeves.  On all the wrong side rows, the instructions are to knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.   This can be confusing when you shape this sweater, because all of a sudden, the patterns change.

    The shaping for the sleeves (for all the sizes) has us increasing 1 stitch each side of the sleeve every 3rd row 8 times, then every 4th row 15 times.   Keeping the Double Seed stitch pattern can be a challenge doing that when you will need to increase on the right side (RS) and sometimes on the wrong side (WS).  The main thing to remember is on the RS, knit the purl and purl the knit stitches.  On the WS, knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

    One of the best skills to have as a knitter is to be able to "read" your stitches.  In other words, know if they are knits or purls.  So, look at the stitches as they appear right now rather than how they were worked on the row before.  So, if your stitch appears like this picture (to the right, in pink), it is a knit stitch (even though it was a purled the row before.)  These are the stitches you purl on the RS and knit on the WS.

    OK - so here (in green) is a picture of a purl stitch as it "appears" (there is always a "bump" at the base of it).  One of my students told me she learned how to identify a stitch as a purl, by the "pearl" necklace it is wearing!  These are the stitches you will knit on the RS and purl on the WS.

    Sometimes the edge stitches might be difficult to "read", so just look at the next couple of stitches to figure out whether that edge stitch is a knit or a purl.  And if the edge stitches don't look perfect - don't worry - they will be in the seam before you know it!

    What about those cables patterns when you are shaping the neck?  The main rule is to not work a cable if you do not have enough stitches to do it.  Just work those stitches in stockinette stitch.  Below you can see the shaping I'm doing on the front left neck. It looks a little strange, but when I pick up stitches for the neck, it will look fine.

    This sweater is "shaping" up nicely, and soon we'll be at our own "finish line"!

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