Saturday, June 30, 2007

Not suitable for children?

Even though I try really hard to stick to my knitting, sometimes the goofiness of the web just begs for comment. I've always thought myself the most harmless of women, so I had to laugh (and laugh!) of the big bad "rating" TECHknitting earned from THIS site. The reason TECHknitting did not get a "G" was because this blog uses the word "pain" twice and "kill" once. And indeed, so it does.
  • Frogging the Russian join was once described as a "pain" and once as a "royal pain."
  • When first learning to blog and spending massive amounts of time going up the learning curve, an early post concluded by saying I had to sign off because my husband was "ready to kill me."
Oops, there go those words again! Perhaps TECHknitting (that notoriously bad*ss knitting site) may now aspire to an "R" rating?
(Forgive me if you do not share my mirth--but I haven't been tickled by anything this silly in a l-o-n-g time!)

Addendum--after publishing this post, the new rating is PG-13.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Working in ends on multicolor knitting--part 2: the back join

The previous post showed the Russian join. That join is unquestionably an improvement over leaving the ends hanging, and ... (cue ominous organ music here) ... having ALL those ends waiting for you at the end of the project. However, the Russian join has several annoying tendencies:
  • it's hard to get the join just where it ought to be
  • ripping back (frogging) to correct an error is a royal pain--the bits of yarn are so precisely calibrated lengthwise that no slack remains for correcting a mistake.
  • it's S*L*O*W
Here is a better join, an un-vention* I call a "back join." The back join gives you greater control over the exact place where the join will occur, you can easily pull it out and do it over if the join is not quite in the correct spot, and it allows you to leave extra yarn hanging on the back until the end of the project--so ripping to correct is easier. Further, unlike the Russian join, the back join can be modified to work in the tails over several rows--the extra bulk from the worked-in tails need not be confined in the several stitches on either side of the color change.

NOTE ADDED 7-1-2007:

Here's how to do the back-join in circular knitting:
Suppose you are knitting with lavender yarn, and you want to switch colors, and knit with purple. With the lavender yarn, knit to the exact spot you want to change colors from lavender to purple. Mark the standing yarn just past the end of the last lavender stitch. (standing yarn=yarn coming from the ball). A paperclip or a straight pin, or anything small and handy will easily mark the spot. For me--being an impatient person by nature--hunting out a pin or a clip would slow me down, and being a continental knitter by preference, my left hand is relatively free, so I choose to mark the spot by pinching it.After marking the spot, unravel the three stitches you most recently knit, returning the raveled-out stitches to the left needle. If you are pinching the yarn, keep hold of it.Take the purple yarn, and fold it over the lavender yarn at the exact spot you have marked or are pinching. In this way, you are interlocking the yarns in exactly the correct spot where the color change will not show on re-knitting. Leave a plenty gracious tail on the purple yarn--several inches, at least.Re-knit the next three stitches using the doubled lavender strand of folded-back yarn. Do you see what you've done? On the lavender yarn, you've magically transformed the standing yarn into the tail of the yarn, and worked this tail in backwards as you knit forwards! (Knitting the folded back doubled strand has always seemed to me like a tiny time machine--going backwards and forwards at the same time!)

When you've got these three lavender stitches knitted with the doubled strand, snip off the yarn going back to the ball. Again, leave a plenty gracious lavender tail hanging on the back of the fabric, just in case you'll need to rip out in the future.

The next step is to knit the next three stitches in purple yarn, again using a doubled strand of folded yarn--purple yarn this time. Again, the doubled strand of purple is composed of the tail yarn held alongside the standing yarn. The result: The lavender yarn and the purple yarn are interlocked on the back of the fabric, and the tails of both are worked in.If the color change of the join somehow hasn't come out in quite the right place, only six stitches stand in the way of correcting that--rip the six double stranded stitches back and start again. Also, if you find a future need to rip out more of your work, there is excess yarn hanging on the back of the fabric, just waiting for you to use it for correcting a mistake. When the project is finished, wash and block it, then gleefully snip off all the excess ends about 1/2 or 1/4 inch from the fabric back--they've already been worked in! In wool, after few more washings, any tails that haven't disappeared by being matted onto the fabric surface, can be clipped level with the face of the fabric. In slippery fibers--acrylic, cotton, linen, bamboo, and the like--you're probably better off leaving a short tail on the inside for all time.


1) REDUCED BULK BACK JOIN If you do not care for the bulk of six doubled stitches in a row (3 lavender, 3 purple) try this. Work the lavender stitches in as usual. However, instead of working the tail of the purple yarn into the first three purple stitches after the color change, leave the purple tail dangling on the back of the work and knit a whole round. When you have come to the joined color change-spot on the next round, the purple yarn will still be dangling back there. Now pick it up, hold it together with the standing yarn, and knit it into the first three purple stitches in this SECOND round. These three doubled purple stitches will be separated from the first three doubled lavender stitches by one row--making the lump in the fabric less concentrated. This reduced bulk join "jogs" where the color changes. In a circular knit garment where the "jog" would be a problem, you can make this reduced bulk join "jogless"

2) JOGLESS BACK JOIN. If you are making colored stripes in the round with only two colors, there is no need to work in the ends--normally, you would carry the yarn of the second color behind the stripe of the first color. However, if you're using many different colors, then carrying the yarn behind from stripe to stripe is not an option. You might like to combine the back join with the jogless stripe technique (jogless joins are described in the TECHknitting post of 1/27/07). Here's how:
(1) Knit the last three lavender stitches with a folded back doubled strand. Switch to purple, but knit ONLY with the standing yarn--leave the tail dangling on the back of the fabric.
(2) When you come back to the color-change spot on the second round, SLIP the first purple stitch which you knit in the round below.
(3) knit the following three purple stitches with the doubled stand (that is: knit the second, third and fourth purple stitch of the second round with the tail yarn--which you will find dangling where you left it on the round below--held together with the standing yarn, to make a double strand).

Here is an photo of both fabric faces of a jogless back join, "in the wool."
To make a back join on back and forth (flat) knitting, locate and pinch a spot just past the last lavender stitch in the last lavender row. Unravel the last three lavender stitches you knit, interlock the lavender and purple yarns, re-knit the last three lavender stitches with the lavender standing yarn PLUS folded-back standing yarn. Snip the lavender yarn, leaving several inches of tail. On the next row, knit (or purl) the first three purple stitches with a double strand made of the purple tail yarn held alongside the purple standing yarn. If you don't want two rows of double yarn, one above another, you can modify the join to reduce bulk: leave the tail hanging on the first purple row, then wait until the second pass-through in purple to knit in the purple tail.

Last note: After you have located, marked (or pinched), raveled out and re-knit several sets of three stitches, you will know instinctively where to locate the interlock color change point WITHOUT having to knit, mark and ravel out--you'll be able to interlock, fold back and knit without any break in your rhythm. At this point, I believe you will find the back join far faster (and more satisfactory) than the Russian join.

*An "unvention," is a knitting trick which doubtlessly has been invented before, but which is revealing itself to the unventor anew.


PS:  Here is a link to a post with 10 (!)  different methods of working in ends in knitting, eight of which are "as you go."
(You have been reading TECHknitting on: the back join.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Working in ends on multi-color knitting--part 1: Russian join

Several readers have e-mailed recently, asking how to work in ends. This has also been a recurrent subject on several knitting boards.

IMHO, the best way to deal with ends is not to create any.

For working in yarns of the SAME color as you go, this LINK shows two different ideas:
1) "felting ends" also called "spit splicing."
2) Overlapping join

But, what if you're changing colors? A felted or overlapping join is out of the question, because you'll have color mismatch. A knot is a bad idea--a knot leaves a hard little nub, and very frequently, comes undone with wear.

Today's post illustrates a technique called the Russian join, which is the classic solution for pre-working ends in multi-color knitting.

Step 1 (left) Make a loop in your yarn by threading the tail of the yarn onto a SHARP needle and running the tail into the standing yarn (standing yarn=yarn coming from the ball). If the yarn is plied, run the tail through the plies, if the yarn is unplied (also called one-ply) just run the tail through the fibers of the standing yarn.

Step 2 (right) Repeat with the second color, so as to make interlocking loops. Knit with the resulting yarn.

There you go: no ends.

However, although this is a BIG improvement over working in a scad of loose ends at the end of a project, there are several reasons why you might find the Russian join to be less-than-ideal.
  • It is hard to get the join just where it ought to be--any imprecision in making the joint might give you a green stitch where you mean to have a pink one.
  • Stopping and hunting out a sewing needle and sewing in ends is slow--the rhythm of the knitting gets disrupted.
  • Because the tail is worked into the standing yarn BEFORE knitting, it's hard to control where it will end up.
  • Unraveling (frogging) is dicey--the bits of yarn are so precisely calibrated lengthwise that there is no extra slack for correcting an error.
For these reasons, you may wish to investigate an "improved Russian join" which has none of these drawbacks.  This improved join is called the "back join, check it out!

* * *
PS:  Here is a link to a post with 10 (!)  different methods of working in ends in knitting, eight of which are "as you go."

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: The Russian join)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Smelly woolies...continued

As a "smell" theme seems to be developing over the past two posts, this topic might as well be stretched to three in a row and have done.

A couple of business trips ago, my husband got dragged into a cigar bar by some old buddies. A few days later at home, when his clothes were unpacked, an unbelievable stench filled the air. The clothes he had worn into that bar had permeated every single thing in his suitcase, despite having been segregated in their own plastic bag. Even the (different) clothes he later wore on his person smelled horrible. Everything washable went straight into the machine.

This left the non-washables. What to do? Dry cleaning a suit and sport coat could cost a lot and his woolens...what a lot of work to clean them all. After thinking a bit, a memory floated up about my German grandmother.

My "Oma" as we called her, had a Swiss housekeeper, Frau Annie. The pair of them were formidable. They aired everything. Every day, rain or shine, the linens everyone had slept on went out on the balcony under a little roof to protect them from getting wet. (The bedrooms were aired too--winter or summer.) Neither Oma nor Frau Annie were big on washing things--there was a washing machine but it took a long, long time. Pants and shirts were aired over a bar in the closet, then folded for re-wearing, dresses were hung over the inside of a closet door to air, but woolen items -- heavy sweaters, coats and jackets especially -- were aired outside after every wearing.

So, after the cigar-bar incident, and to the amusement of our neighbors, out on our mini-balcony went everything smelly, on a folding laundry rack. The sport coat and suit came out alright after two days in the open air, but a woolen sweater still smelled bad. A trip to the supermarket turned up "Febreeze" fabric freshener, and this, followed by a trip through the air-fluff cycle of the dryer, did the trick.

A bad incident with m*ths in a cedar closet convinced me not to rely too much on the vaunted smell of cedar, and mothballs now rule that closet. Everything in that closet naturally has to be aired for a day before it can be worn, so a constant supply of smelly woolies is close at hand, and out on the balcony they go.

If the weather is bad, it is not possible to air smelly woolies on the balcony--unlike my Oma's balcony, ours has no roof. So, together with a shot of "Febreeze" or with a fabric softener sheet, into the dryer on air-fluff goes every garment except for sport coats or suits. Those air out on a bar over the door in the bathroom with the door shut to prevent that mothball smell from taking over.

And how about you, dear readers? If you are feeling bold, perhaps you will comment about how you get bad smells out of your woolies. This mini-series on bad smells may as well come to an good end with your good ideas--

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: smelly woolies.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

QUICKtip: Buying silk yarn--beware the SMELL

Sometimes, silk smells so terrible as to be unwearable. My nose forcibly reminded me of this recently when shopping for materials from which to knit a present for a friend who is--sadly but truly--allergic to wool.

Silk's terrible smell problem evidently comes from a gum left in the raw fiber as you can read here. In my experience, that silky - fishy smell never comes out, regardless of what you may try; not drycleaning, not sprinkling with baking soda, not detergent, not airing outside for days on end. (Not to mention--washing is hard on silk--silk has "low wet resiliency," meaning it is weak when wet, and easily crinkled.) Some method or another may have you convinced that you've got the problem knocked back a little, but as your body heat warms the silk, the smell may very well return. And if a silk garment with that fishy smell ever gets wet while you're wearing it ... rip the garment off and flee before sea gulls start circling.

Moral of the story: best to buy silk when you can touch and smell it. Go shopping on a day when you don't have a cold, and your allergies aren't acting up, and/or take a friend with you who has a keen sense of smell. Sniff, sniff, sniff before you buy. If you must purchase by mail order or off the web, be SURE to ask about the return policy. At the price of silk, there is no reason to buy yourself a lot of trouble vainly trying to get the smell out of an otherwise gorgeous silk garment--and of course, this is true of ready-made silk garments too.

Last note: the price does not guarantee no smell. Of three selections in my LYS, the cheapest was the only odor-free brand, the most expensive had a distinct punge, and the middle price range--which came in the largest selection of colors--smelled like fish bait.

Addendum the first: Thanks to the knowledgeable comments of June, here is a link to a site (called "wormspit!!") which shows a serious method of smell-elimination. If you already have a smelly silk problem, you could try this, although the link speaks only of undyed silk, and so may not be the thing for an already made up garment. The sophistication of this process shows again how very important it is to smell BEFORE you buy, or you may find yourself playing junior chemist...

Addendum the second-- Michael of wormspit came to visit! (Hi Michael!) Be sure to read what he has to say--he has the real low-down on all the different ways silk can come to smell bad--his wisdom is in the comments below.

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: smelly silk)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

QUICKtip: Keep your woolies smelling nice & prevent m*ths

In the same way as I channeled my mother on mother's day, I am channeling my father on father's day.

My dad was an excellent, if ferocious housekeeper -- dirt and disorder had no chance with him. He kept all his woolies in cardboard boxes, and in later years, in plastic snap top bins. Into each box or bin, he dropped a bar of scented soap--he strongly favored Zest. Until this day, that "Zest-y" smell takes me back to the odor emanating from his sweaters. And not only is this a good way to store woolen sweaters, it is also an excellent way to store yarn. Just pick a soap with a scent you won't tire of. (Hint: for a smaller storage bin, check out travel sized soaps.)

Whether it was the snap top bins, the soapy smell, or some combo of the two, my dad's woolies never, ever suffered from the dreaded m*th.


PS:  Leave the soap wrapped up, otherwise you get soap flakes all over everything.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Charting charts: a new way to keep track of knitting lace

A long, long time ago, when I was a young 'un, a knitting pattern for this-->
used to look like this:

Cast on 22
Row 1 : slip first st of this, and every odd row, purlwise, K21
Row 2: K 22
Row 3: Sl 1, k 2 *yo, k2 tog* 8 times, yo 2 times, K2tog K1
Row 4: K 3, P1, K19
Row 5: Sl 1, k3 *yo, k2 tog* 8 times, yo 2 times, K2tog K1
Row 6: K 3, P1, K20
Row 7: Sl 1, k4, *yo, k2 tog* 8 times, yo 2 times, K2tog K1
Row 8: K 3, P1, K21
Row 9: Sl 1, K24
Row 10: bind off 3, K22
Repeat rows 1-10 as desired. Bind off after a row 10.

European magazines were on a different trajectory. Faced with readers in different countries all speaking different languages, European patterns used charts. One set of symbol explanations in all different languages--a sort of knitter's Rosetta stone--took up only part of one page, and then the same charts could be used by anyone from Norway to Spain. By comparison, a magazine or pattern booklet with complete written instructions duplicated in Dutch, Swedish, French, German, Portuguese would have been a heavyweight tome (not to mention, a nightmare of translation).

Originally, the charts in European publications were written by hand--I still have some of my mother's old German lace pattern-booklets like this. As time went by and typography got better, charts began to look more and more like this:
Both methods--written instructions and charted patterns--have their admirers, and both have their detractors. It isn't very hard to find people passionately taking sides, just look at the archives of nearly any knitting forum, and quite a few blogs. The written pattern advocates say (with accuracy) that you can't really knit directly from a chart, you have to reduce the pattern to words first ("knit, let's see, 1,2, ah ha! 3 stitches, next we have a yo, then knit 2 together, and do that, uh, let's see, 7 times, or, wait a minute... 8 times....") So why, they ask, go through a translation process of turning the picture into words, and then knitting from the words. Why not just start with the words? That helps avoid translation errors. And all those little symbols--so hard to read and keep track of!

The advocates of diagrams say (also with accuracy) that unless you have a diagram, you have no idea how the whole thing fits together. A diagram lets you see instantly how any part of the pattern relates to the whole--it is more intuitive, more visual. With written instructions, if you're making a mistake, you won't know it for a long time, because written instructions have no feedback loop--no physical representation--with which you can compare your work. It might be four or five pattern repeats before you become familiar enough with the pattern to figure out what the problem is, supposing you don't quit in disgust first.

So, are written instructions better than charts, or are charts better than written instructions? My answer is "yes." They're both better--but better at different things.

For me, however, the very best way is neither a written instruction nor a chart--it is a third method. This method is a short-hand combination of written instructions and charted diagrams, a method which I call "the chart of the chart," or "chart-chart" for short (as in: "The chart-chart for Grandmother's Lace Edging is below").

With a chart-chart, the pattern is reduced to its essentials. Yet, for me at least, the pattern is not obscured because the repeats are made very clear. The chart-chart has to be custom made by you, after an analysis of the pattern, which means you have to get down and dirty with your pattern, you have to wallow in it a little--and this has the additional benefit of fixing the pattern in your mind.

On this particular "chart-chart," each row of the pattern is laid out. For example, on row 1, there is to be 1 selvedge stitch followed by 21 plain stitches, for a total of 22 stitches. On row 2, there is to be nothing but 22 plain stitches. On row 3, there is to be one selvedge stitch, then 2 stitches knitted plain, and then 8 repeats of a yo/k2tog sequence, then 1 repeat of a double yarn over/k2tog/k1 sequence, for a total of 23 stitches. On row 4, there are to be three knit stitches, followed by a purl stitch, and the row is to end with 19 knit stitches, for a total of 23 stitches, and so on and so on.

The chart-chart is keyed to the regular chart, and to the word instructions if there are any. If you forget what a "plain stitch" is in the context of the chart-chart, you go back to the original printed pattern. After just a couple of repeats, however, your chart-chart takes over. The biggest advantage is that you don't have to keep running your finger along row 3 to count stitches, yo's and k2tog's, again and again and again. Other advantages: Chart-charts read normally--from upper left to lower right, the same as regular text--so you are not faced with reversing everything and reading from lower right to upper left, as in a charted diagram. A chart-chart takes up far less room than word instructions or a big pattern, it's easier to keep track of where you are, and it supplants all the aggravating counting and re-counting of little squares. In sum, it's a short-hand combination of word instructions and chart instructions.

To make your own chart-chart, you have to look at the original chart (or written instructions) to see what elements of the work are repeated, and how the work is constructed. In Grandmother's Lace Edging, the creation of the lace itself is made up of 3 repeated lace rows: rows 3, 5 and 7. Each of these lace rows features eight combinations of yo followed by k2tog. This yo/k2tog combination make the "holes" of the lace. Each yo is an increase, but because it is immediately followed by a k2tog decrease, the fabric remains the same length through these 8 repeats. The holes in the three lace rows are offset from one another by starting each lace row one stitch lower than the previous one. This allows the lace holes of row 5 to fit between the holes of rows 3 and 7--the same way a honeycomb is constructed. The pattern makes a wave at the lower edge by a series of stepped increases. At the lower portion of each of rows 3, 5 and 7, a double yarn over (2 increases) is followed by only a single k2tog (one decrease). This lengthens the work by one stitch at each of these three lace rows. These three lace rows of increasing length are followed by a correction--the work is bound off three stitches and returns to its original length, several rows of plain knitting are interspersed, then the 3-lace-row pattern begins again.

To make the chart-chart, you have to analyse, then provide for all these repeated elements. Every odd row starts with a slipped selvedge stitch, so you start by putting in a chart column for that. Every row, whether odd or even, begins with at least some plain stitches, so the chart-chart gets a column for plain stitches. The even rows after a lace column get a purl stitch, because on encountering the double yo on the trip "up" the work, you knit into it, then purl into it. So, you put in a chart column for the purl stitch. This purl stitch is followed by a whole bunch of plain stitches, so another chart column must be provided for those plain stitches. Rows 3, 5 and 7 are the lace rows--and the chart columns reflect the lace elements--the yo/k2tog combinations, as well as the double yo/k2tog/k1 element which ends each lace row. The three bind-off stitches get their own chart column--there they are in row 10.

I've also chosen to add a column which shows the total number of stitches there ought to be on the needles at the end of every row, and this gives me ammunition to quiet that little nagging part of my brain insisting that I better go back and check each row, because I might have missed a stitch somewhere. Also, per the illustration, you can see that you don't HAVE to chose to keep the chart columns in the same order as the work. For example, in row 10, 3 stitches are bound off--and this occurs before the 22 remaining plain stitches. But the bind off occurs only once in the whole pattern. Instead of distracting myself by making the first chart column for bind off, and having it empty all the way down to the last pattern row, I chose to make it that second-to-last chart column, and to try to remember that the 3 bind offs come before the 22 plain stitches. There are no conventions for chart-charts. While it's easiest to read if you put the columns of the chart-chart in the same order as you'll encounter the stitches on your needle, you're free to make up your own exceptions when you determine the order of the columns.

This sample chart-chart is color-keyed to the original chart--the same colors mean the same things--green for the purl, red for the decrease bind-off, yellow for knitting on the front, blue for knitting on the back, and so on. This wouldn't be hard to do by hand with colored pencils, but you might find it is unnecessary--truthfully, the chart-chart in the illustration is the most beautiful one I've ever made, usually they are little notes on scrap paper, looking more like a tic-tac-toe board than a knitting pattern.

As will occur to you, chart-charts aren't restricted to lace knitting. Any knitted fabric with repeating design elements (texture knitting, color knitting) can be put into chart-chart form.

Addendum, 2013:  Knitpicks Blog posted a Kelley Petkun podcast interview with me about Chart-Charts.  Hear it here

Addendum 2022: a particular kind of chart-chart, specialized for cables, is shown in this post about "box-and-circle."

Opening illustration: Grandmother's Lace Edging for a baby blanket, Patton's "Grace" Cotton Yarn, size 5 needles.
(You have been reading TECHknitting on: charting knitting, a new way)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Correcting errors in the rows below, part 3: adding an increase

The real way to repair an increase you missed is to rip it out and do the whole thing over. This is because the increase would have added yarn to the fabric--and more yarn would have been added to each row or round in the column above the missed increase. Any after-the-fact repair is just a re-distribution of existing yarn, and does not really serve to "increase" the width or diameter of your knitting. So that's the long of it and the short of it. Rip it out and start again.

So--how come you're still reading if you now know the right thing to do?

Perhaps it's because we're not in the ideal world just yet.

Well, if you've just got to (or if you're just going to) slam in a missed increase, here's how to do it.
1. (Above) The missed increase should have been created where the blue tail is (circled in red).

2. (Above) Grab the tail and twist it up to form a loop (this is easiest with a crochet hook). Diligently work as much extra yarn towards the loop as you can--drawing excess yarn from as far as several stitches away from the new loop, on both sides. Draw the tails of the stitches above through the newly-made loop, one at a time, creating a new column where none lay before. For each tail drawn through, again work as much excess yarn as you possibly can from the neighboring stitches in that row towards the newly-made stitch.

As you can see, this trick pretty well distorts the fabric. Nevertheless, if you find yourself compelled to use this trick, and are feeling bad about that, here is a little consolation for you: knitting is so stretchy, so accommodating, that even a messy, distorting, after-the-fact "increase" like this will even out over the years until it becomes far, far less noticeable than when it was new--especially if the increase was only pulled up over a few rows, and especially if the yarn is wool. (Don't ask me how I know...I take the 5th!)

Addendum--be sure to read the comments--there is an excellent suggestion from Mishka on how to make this little trick less obvious. 

You have been reading TECHknitting on: adding an increase missed in the row below

Friday, June 8, 2007

Correcting errors in the rows below, part 2: moving an increase

Just as you may discover with horror that a decrease was put in the wrong spot some rows below (see post of June 5, 2007) so that same misfortune may befall you with an increase. Here is the trick for moving an increase made in the wrong spot without having to rip back your knitting.

1. (Above) The increase SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE between the brown stitch and the purple stitch, but instead the increase (red) was MISTAKENLY MADE between the purple stitch and the blue stitch.

2. (Above) Slip the needles through the work until you have your needles poised over the error (there is more information about slipping in the last note of this post). Between your needles, drop down a runner, turning all the stitches ABOVE the red and purple stitches into the rungs of a ladder. This will free the increase to be moved. Locate the "tail" of yarn (arrow) in the location where the increase should have been in the first place.

3. (Above) The tail marked with an arrow in illustration 2 has been pulled up, and the excess yarn distributed to form a loop where the increase should have been made in the first place. In other words, the increase (red stitch) has been moved from one side of the purple stitch to the other.

4. (Above) Hook the ladder rung above the newly-repositioned red stitch through that stitch, then continue hooking up each ladder rung in this column, turning each rung back into a stitch in its own right. Finish by placing the last stitch in the column on your left needle. (Although this is not illustrated, the easiest way to perform the hooking operation is with a crochet hook.)

5. (Above) Lastly, hook the ladder rung above the purple stitch through, then continue hooking up each ladder rung in this column, turning each rung back into a stitch. Finish by placing the last stitch in the column on your right needle. Your increase has been moved to the correct spot.

The increase illustrated above is a twisted loop increase (also called "make 1" or "M1"). However, this trick works with any kind of increase--just release the stitches in the increase column down far enough until the loop of the increase itself is freed. Once you've relocated the excess yarn for the increase by pulling the excess yarn through to the stitch-tail located where the increase should have been, you make your new increase using the exact same method (twisted loop, knitting into the stitch below, whatever) as you made all your other increases.

As stated in the post on moving decreases--the illustrations above are not to scale--even one released stitch makes a ladder too wide to illustrate properly--the illustration would go off the page. Don't be worried, though, the ladder you create is supposed to be wider than the illustration--that just shows you're doing it right.

Finally, the illustrations show the needles having been slipped through the fabric to the correct spot. The last note in the decrease post explains why.

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: moving increases wrongly positioned in the row below)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Let's speed things up...

Sadly, this tip is not about speeding up your knitting--it is a bit of blog-housekeeping, instead.

Some readers have complained that this blog takes a L*O*N*G time to load. I personally am a computer idiot, but have heard from computer-literate friends, and here is what they say:

ELIMINATE YOUR COOKIES. Periodically eliminating gets rid of useless, expired cookies, which are (so I am told) slowing things down.
EMPTY YOUR CACHE. You might want to go so far as to empty your cache (the memory of sites you have recently visited). Emptying your cache means it takes a little longer for a site to load when you revisit, but I have been told that the overall performance of your computer can get a lot faster.

As to how to actually eliminate the cookies and empty the cache, if it could be done with a knitting needle, I'd be able to lay out several different methods, but for button-pushing tricks, you're better off asking your resident IT person. If you are completely at sea, however, cookie/cache management is often hiding under the "preferences" tab of your browser, so maybe start there.

Caveat: You may have to re-enter some passwords which the computer now automatically fills in for you, so maybe note those down BEFORE you scour out your computer's little brains.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Correcting errors in the rows below, part 1: moving a decrease

Let's say you look at your work and discover to your horror, that several rows ago, you made a decrease in the wrong spot. This happened recently to a reader of this blog, who wrote that she was loath to rip back, because her error was made on a circular object, each round contained over 200 stitches, and the error was several rows back.

Not to worry, there was no reason for her to rip back all her work to get at the error. Here's the trick for moving the decrease to the correct spot without ripping out any work at all, even when you are already several rows or rounds past the misplaced decrease. 1. (Above) The decrease SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE with the red stitch and the purple stitch, but instead, was MISTAKENLY MADE with the purple stitch and the blue stitch.

2. (Above) Slip your way through your work until you have your needles poised over the error. (There is more information about slipping in the last note, below). Between your needles, drop down a giant runner, turning all the stitches ABOVE the red, purple, and blue stitches into the rungs of a giant ladder.

3. (Above) Create the decrease on the red and purple stitches, where it should have been in the first place. (You create the decrease by simply drawing one stitch in front of the other, placing whichever stitch in front that will cause this decrease to match your other decreases). Next, hook the ladder rung immediately above the red / purple decrease through both of those stitches. Finish by hooking all the remaining ladder rungs above through, in turn, such that every ladder rung turns back into a stitch in its own right. Finish by placing the last stitch on your left needle. (Although this is not illustrated, the easiest way to perform the hooking operation is with a crochet hook, but if you haven't got one, a spare knitting needle or even a large darning needle will work to pull the rungs through the stitches.)

4. (Above) Lastly, hook the rungs of the ladder remaining above the blue stitch so as to turn them back into stitches in their own right. Finish by replacing the last stitch back onto your right needle. Your decrease has been moved to the proper spot.

Three final notes
  • These illustrations show a decrease which was made only one stitch away from the correct position. However, even if your decrease is misplaced by 3, 4, 5 or more stitches, you can still use this trick--just let down a GIANT runner encompassing all the stitches (those wrongly decreased, those where the decrease SHOULD have been, and all the stitches that lie between). Then, move the decrease, and hook everything back up again, working from left to right, as shown. (True confession: it doesn't actually matter if you work from left to right or from right to left, but pick one method, and stick with it. Being methodical will help you keep track of what you've done, and what remains to be done.)
  • When you first try this, don't be frightened. Even just one released stitch makes a MUCH wider ladder than the illustration shows. The illustration is out of scale because an in-scale illustration would be so wide as to go off the page. Persevere, and you will see that a crochet hook and some concentration will tame all those wide, loose ladders back into knitted fabric.
  • As you can see, in the illustrations, the needles have been worked around to the scene of the action by slipping the stitches. I think there are two reasons why slipping around to the scene of the crime is superior to knitting your way to that spot. First, by slipping, you wind up with the same number of stitches on both sides of the runner, but if you knit around to the scene, you'd have one stitch more on your right needle than your left needle. Second, by slipping around, you don't have to worry about the running yarn getting tangled in the work. Of course, you can knit your way around to within just a few stitches, then slip the rest of the way--as long as just a few stitches on either side of your runner have the same stitch count on left and right needle, this little maneuver will be easier. If you do use the slipping method, then you are done with your repair, just slip back to where you started, and you'll never know there was an error in your work.
(You have been reading TECHknitting on: moving decreases wrongly positioned in the rows below)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

QUICKtip: the best first stitch or: "how to avoid the slip knot"

(This little tip has already been on this blog, but it is buried at the end of a long post on long-tail casting-on, and it's so neat that it deserves its own little entry.)

The point of this blog is to infest your mind with all the little improving viruses which currently infest mine. So here's the best way, in my mind, to make the first stitch in your casting on. (FYI: this also works for the first stitch in crocheting.)

If you make a simple loop, there's no knot, and a knot (even the slipknot recommended by most instructors as the first stitch of your cast-on) leaves a nasty little nub in your work--best avoided.

To start your cast on with a simple loop, just insert your needles and twist, and there's the first stitch, waiting on your needles. If the loop unwinds when you make the second stitch, that only means that you made the loop with the wrong end up. Twist it the other way and try again.

BTW: The illustration shows two needles because for many kinds of casting-on (long tail, in particular), it IS best to cast on over two needles.

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: "how to avoid the slipknot")