Author Archives: Barbara Breiter

  • How To Do 4 Different Types of Selvages

    This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

    seaming_selvageYou may see patterns that talk about selvage stitches (sometimes spelled "selvedge") and wonder what they could be referring to. All fabric has selvages; they are simply the left and right edges of the piece, or the first and last stitch of each row.

    Some patterns specify to work a selvage stitch; you may notice that directions tell you to always knit the first and last stitch of the row or to slip the last stitch of each row. In these cases, the designer has factored in the selvage as part of the design to make it easier for you. However, if you're creating your own design from a stitch dictionary or just winging it, understanding how to work those selvage stitches (or identify them, if you're modifying a pattern), will be very helpful.

    1. Selvages for Seaming

    When you have pieces you are going to seam together, such as the front to the back of a sweater, you will use these edge stitches for seaming. They won't be visible after the project is seamed. This is particularly useful when you're creating your own design for a sweater or shrug, which may otherwise end up with yarn-overs and decreases on the edges of the design. Regardless of the pattern stitch used, if you work a stockinette selvage it will make seaming much easier. To do so, simply knit the first and last stitch of every row on the right side and purl them on the wrong side. If a stitch pattern is used, you might check and be sure that the pattern has allowed two extra stitches for seaming so you have a full repeat across after seaming.

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  • 3 Ways to Bind Off/Cast Off

    This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

    Bind Off

    Ahhh, finally done with your latest knitting project. Now you can't wait to finish so, in a final flurry, you bind off all your stitches and...oh no. The sweater won't fit over your head or the bound off edge of the blanket is narrower than the cast on edge.

    What have you done? You bound off too tightly.

    I've done it myself. You might not notice if it's a scarf because a scarf is narrow. The bound off edge does not have as much "give" as the rest of the knitting. That's why it's difficult to get the neckline of that sweater to stretch enough to fit over your head.

    1. Bind Off Loosely

    Always, always, always bind off loosely. This includes the stitches that you are knitting or purling during the process as well as when you pass a stitch over and off. Don't tug, pull, or yank the yarn as you work each stitch. I know that it seems so loose that it's tempting. But don't. If you find you are binding off too tightly and can't manage to do it more loosely, use needles one or two sizes larger than the size you used to knit the piece.

    Binding off, sometimes called casting off, actually creates a final row of fabric, so what stitches you work as you bind off does make a difference. You can simply knit across as you bind off as many people do; but upon close inspection you'll see the difference in the details.

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  • 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Trying a New Stitch

    This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

    Simple Basketweave St. George's Variation (Crochet) Seed Stitch
    Simple Basketweave Stitch (Knit) St. George's Variation (Crochet) Seed Stitch (Knit)

    There are many stitch patterns available in books, magazines, and online--and probably just as many that have not been invented yet. You will find a large selection in the StitchFinder. To use them for simple projects like scarves, dishcloths, and afghans, keep in mind that these projects can all be simple squares or rectangles. You can just cast on the appropriate number of stitches according to your gauge and desired width (stitches per inch × desired width = the number of stitches to cast on) and start knitting.

    But to get the most out of these stitch patterns, you'll want to consider a few factors before getting started.

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