Thursday, July 14, 2016

How I roll

My knitting tool kit
So the travel for work continues.  Air travel in the summer (ok, really pretty much anytime) requires a zen level of patience.  I survive by knitting. I make room in my carry-on for a small project, always worked on circular needles. If you’ve ever had a dpn go rolling down the aisle of an airplane…..circulars are the only way to go for me now.  And I carry a very small to-go kit with the bare essentials.

I salvaged one of those little cases for eye-glass repair kits, and my small embroidery scissors fit perfectly, along with a yarn needle, the doohickey for my interchangeable set, and a couple of paperclips that do double duty as stitch markers, or marking my place in a pattern. I carry a small journal and my needle gauge and ruler stays slipped under the closure band.

I've never had a problem with security or airline crews - but always check with the airport and airlines, as some have restrictions that prohibit knitting on board. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Rank and File Stitches - New Dishcloth Pattern

Been traveling for work again.  I always think I'm going to be able to get so much knitting done on
The Rank and File Dishcloth

these trips.  But I never seem to have a project in the right stages to grab and go when I'm in the throws of last minute packing.  I'm actually a bit dismayed by this, because I have no shortage of projects in the works, but many of them just aren't suitable for travel knitting.  They are either in some design phase that requires graph paper, notes, charting software and swatching, or need more yarn caked up,  or need sections frogged so I can fix the aforementioned design issue...anyway, my go to lately has been grabbing a few balls of kitchen cotton to work up dishcloths.  Not all that sophisticated, but these are small, quick, relatively brainless projects that are ready to go at the drop of the hat, and sooth my need to have needles and string when the travel gets rough (like flying through O'Hare between January and December).

Now there is no shortage of dishcloth patterns available on the internet.  I have worked up many of them - they make great housewarming gifts, or me gifts.  However, on my last trip, I decided to get a bigger bang for my buck by auditioning a couple of stitch patterns I have been considering for garment designs as dishcloths.  While the kitchen cotton isn't exactly interchangeable with the yarn I'll eventually be using, I do get a chance to try out the stitches, determine if it's a stitch I enjoy working, and get a feel for how the resulting fabric may behave - AND I get a dishcloth at the end.
Rank and File dishcloth is a modern variegated version of Crafters Secret Cotton

That's how Rank and File came to be.   I picked this stitch pattern out of Barbara Walkers' Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns (see below to purchase this fantastic resource) as this was a stitch pattern I had been eyeing for a particular garment design.    I modified the order of the rows, and added seed stitch borders.  I love the resulting fabric which has great texture and a slight ribbed effect.  The fabric does pull in some, so I ended up having to increase stitches after the initial border and the decrease those away before working the top border and binding off.  Hope you enjoy this complimentary pattern:  Rank and File Dishcloth Pattern.

Right side of stitch pattern

Wrong side of stitch pattern

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sub-Zero Temperatures - Brioche to the Rescue

Winter has settled in with a vengeance here in the Midwest.  Time to pull out all those accessories worked up in glorious, squishy, double-sided brioche stitches.   I'm particularly loving my scarf adapted from the Brioche Nine-Patch Blanket pattern.   As I was working the first strip of a scrappy version of the blanket, it dawned on me that the super soft baby alpaca I was using was just begging to be a scarf.  So when I got to the end of the first strip of the blanket, I just added on the next block of the second strip.  The resulting scarf is about 8 feet long and 10 inches wide.  So warm and luxurious! 

The stitches that are used in the pattern are:

2-color brioche rib
Cascade stitch
Honeycomb brioche

And here's the pattern worked up as a blanket - using Cascade 220 superwash.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2016 Special Olympics Scarf Project - Pattern Ideas

I know, I know, I've been a very bad nonexistent blogger.  Sometimes life just gets in the way, and we have to prioritize.  And sometimes it just takes a while to figure out how to get back on the horse, so to speak. 

Nothing like a fantastic knitting effort to inspire me to get back in the game - and the Special Olympic Scarf project is just such an effort.

It's time again to gear up for the Special Olympics Scarf Project 2016.  This link provides the general information about the scarf criteria and the specific information for the participating states.

In general, the scarves should be about 6" wide and somewhere between 54 to 60" wide (including fringe!).  And other winter accessories, such as headbands, hats, and mittens are welcomed by many states.

Many of my complimentary scarf patterns, which were designed for the Indianapolis Super Scarves Project would be perfect for these two color Special Olympic scarves. These patterns were all designed for the beginning knitter, or someone who just wants a fun, easy knit.  All the patterns are available for download on the right hand side of the blog.

Fluted Rib Scarf

Faux Mitered Squares Scarf

Zig to Zag Scarf

Football Mosaic Scarf

Dash to the Finish Scarf

Block and Tackle

Blitz Scarf

Special Play

Nothing would make me happier than to see a few of these patterns worked up into 2016 Special Olympic Scarves.  I know I'll be working up a couple for Indiana.  Our color scheme is cherry red and white, which will really pop.   

Don't have time to knit a scarf?  How about working up a version of the Quick Cross Head Band in two colors.  Work up to the cable cross in one color and then switch to the second color.  Or work a band of the second color for a few rows before and after the cable cross.  This headband can be worked in less than two hours. 

Happy knitting for a great cause!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Lace One-Skein Wonders"

Well, it was a long time in the making, but I am so happy to announce that one of my designs, "Lake Effect" has been published in the just released book "Lace One-Skein Wonders - 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace" by Storey Publishing. 

 Yep, right there on page 148.  

If you get the chance, check this book out.  It's chock full of amazing projects, just perfect for that one skein of very special yarn.

Photo Credits - Copyright Geneve Hoffmann, from Lace One-Skein Wonders, used with permission from Storey Publishing

The Lake Effect Scarf pattern is still available for free over on the right hand side of the blog, in the complementary patterns section. I've updated the pattern to include instructions for adding beads, and there is a video available as well on the Brioche Tutorials tab.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bump and Run - New Complimentary Mosaic Scarf Pattern

Easy, quick, unisex - the Bump and Run Scarf Pattern is a great first knitting project, or relaxing project for more experienced knitters.  Choose two colors (solids, tonals, or go wild with a variegated or two) and jump in.

You can make a 6' long scarf using about 220 yards of ecah color.  You'll need a little more yarn if you want to add fringe.

 Hope you give it a try.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Video - Long Tail Cast On Tips

 I love learning and using different cast ons, but the long tail cast on more times than not is my go-to standard.  I know most of you are probably old pros at the long tail cast on.  But when I teach new or returning knitters, and I suggest this cast on, I often see scrunched up faces and deer in the headlight looks.  Comments like these are not uncommon:
  • I tried it and I hate it cause it's too hard, or
  • I couldn't understand the directions in the book, or
  • I know one cast on (usually the backward loop method, which while it does have its uses, is really not a great cast on for new or nervous knitters, but I digress) and that's all I need.
So I developed a method of teaching the long tail cast on that is a little bit fun, and maybe a little bit easier to remember.   The devil is in the hand hold and the stitch tensioning so I try to focus on those two issues in a video (posted on the Plain Ole Knitting Tips Page - see tab at top of page).

 Another thing that I hear a lot or see in the forums, is that the best way to make sure your long tail cast on is loose and stretchy is to cast on over 2 needles.  My own Mom taught me to cast on this way, although I'm not sure she knew why she was doing it, only that it was the way she was taught.   In my experience, casting on over 2 needles just causes the stitches in the first row of your work to be bigger that the stitches on the next row.  While it may be easier to work that first row, it will generally end up being a bit sloppy, and not stretchy.

The secret to a stretchy long tail cast on, is to leave a space between your stitches when you cast them on.  I use the tip of my index finger on my right hand to measure the space so that the stitches end up as even as possible.  Tip number 2 is to make sure that the newly cast on stitch isn't strangling the needle, it should be able to slide on the needle easily.  Think of it as a hug, not a death grip.

I hope the video helps illustrate these points.  I love learning and using different cast ons, but the long tail cast on more times than not is my go-to standard. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Built-In I-Cord - Perfect Edges Everytime

I spend way too much time on the Ravelry forums.  I know I do.  I justify this time sink by telling myself (and Mr. Verdigris Knits) that I am doing "market research."   Through such research, I've determined that one area where knitters are often challenged is creating scarves with nicely finished edges. 

Daily, there is at least one thread about the effects of slipping edge stitches.  The degree in variation of opinions and directions about just this one tiny aspect of knitting is overwhelming.  Too bad, I'm going to put yet another variation out there.

The built-in I-cord edge. 

To me, this is just about perfection on a scarf edge, or any exposed edge for that matter.  And the results are perfect every time.  No need to worry about loose stitches, or the edges being too tight.  It simply works, and it looks like a couture finish.  And that little column of stitches makes the perfect hiding place for yarn tails.  Your tails will never be exposed again. 

Here's the I-cord edge worked on the Stripe it Rich Scarf - a new design that will be published in the near future.  If your project involves color changes every 2 or 4 rows, I-cord edges can completely hide yarn carried up one side of the scarf.  Completely.  Isn't that wonderful.  I won't make another 2-color slip stitch scarf without this edge treatment, EVER. 

And its as easy as adding 3 stitches to each edge of the scarf pattern and work as follows:  Knit the first 3 stitches of every row and slip the last 3 stitches of every row purlwise with yarn in front.  That's it.  Amazingly simple and beautiful. 

If you are changing colors every other row (as is typical for many slipped stitch patterns) just make sure the new color is picked up from underneath the old color and the yarns will be carried up practically invisibly. 

I've posted a video of the technique on the knitting videos tab.  I hope you give it a try and let me know how you've used it.

What if you want a solid color I-cord edge on your 2-color scarf?  I'll cover that in the next post. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chicken and Waffles Cowl - New Pattern

Since November, I've been working up a cowl pattern based on the Gap's wildly popular two-toned waffle cowlneck.  By reverse engineering from the photos, I was able to recreate the stitch pattern, which not surprisingly, is a variation of a tuck stitch that in turn is a variation on brioche.  I say not surprisingly because a commercially available cowl is going to be made by machine, and many decorative machine knit stitches involve tuck stitches. 
My initial swatches  were ok, but I didn't really love the resulting fabrics; things were a bit droopy after blocking. I was disappointed. Then, I had the chance to inspect the actual cowl and I didn't feel quite so bad.  You see, the actual cowl is worked up flat and seamed. The materials are definitely acrylic because the fabric has been steam blocked and actually pressed beyond an inch of its life.  There is absolutely no "sprong" left to the rib stitch pattern - none, nada, zip.  The knit "waffles" are flat as pancakes.  The irony that  this is called a waffle cowl does not escape me.

Turns out the commercially available version is as flat and lifeless as my swatch.  So I set about developing my own variation  rather than just duplicate the commercially available one.  And the result is the Chicken and Waffles Cowl.

So named because side one has the waffle look, and side two has the look of bird feet (at least to me).  My version is worked up in the round (no seaming) using a bulky weight and a worsted weight yarn in contrasting colors.  I used one skein of Patons Classic Wool Roving (and I used just about the whole skein) in Dark Grey as the main color, and less than one skein of Patons Classic Wool (worsted weight) in Lemongrass for the contrast color.  The finished dimensions are about 15" high and 40" around, blocked lightly.

Side 1

Side 2

The Chicken and Waffles Cowl pattern  is available for immediate pdf download for $3 US.  I hope you give it a try, and let me know how you like it.