Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

A New Year’s Mitten-Making Adventure! January 17, 2020

 

newmitten

Please join me for a mitten adventure in the New Year!

 

I’ve just released my  fifth free video in my mitten-making series on my YouTube Channel!

Usually I wait until a project is well underway before filming techniques and sharing them with you but, this time, I’m inviting you to join me on an as yet undeveloped project.

 

rainbow2

 
I want to write a straightforward double-knit mitten pattern using my lovely new Blue Faced Leicester sport weight yarns. After that, nothing is certain.
Mittens are an excellent application for double knitting. As I record this journey I’ll try to explain my reasons for choosing various techniques.
There may be mistakes, recalculations and re dos! Please subscribe to my YouTube channelto be notified of developments as they unfold!

 

mittenprogress

Happy Stitches!

 

Binding Off – Fast and Loose! February 25, 2015

Filed under: Knitting tips and hints,Pattern highlight,Youtube,Youtube Videos — happystitches @ 08:54
The Zen Mountain Scarf with super long picots

The Zen Mountain Scarf with super long picots

I’ve always disliked the usual process of binding off. The tedious action of grabbing the first stitch by the scruff of its neck and hauling it over the second stitch is unpleasant for all concerned. So I set to playing, and came up with a method I called: Modified Conventional Bind-Off. It’s structurally identical to a regular bind-off, but faster (with a little practice) and looser. You both knit the next stitch and bind off the outer one in one single knitting-like movement. It is a matter of training the left-hand needle to take a more active role.

I developed this method of binding off years back and have been teaching it ever since. Many knitters have made a complete conversion to this method. (Bonus: No more too-tight neck bind-offs.) The only time I revert to the conventional method is for three-needle bind-off.  However, caution is advised: The discovery of this way of using the needles led me to suffer from a major outbreak of picots, and this may also happen to you! Picots are decorative cast-on/bind-off extensions which may be used on a cast-on or a bound-off edge, mid-row or at the sides of your work. Picots, which hitherto had been a pain, now became fun. The first product of this picot-mania was my Sea Lettuce Scarf pattern, which has become a perennial favourite. It also led to the delightful Loopy Edging used on my Almost Saintly Socks, and for the super-long picots on the Zen Mountain Scarf.

Loopy Edging on the Almost Saintly Socks

Loopy Edging on the Almost Saintly Socks

 

 

On a Knit Row _ K1, * slip the tip of the left-hand needle purlwise into the new stitch and, pointing it towards the back of the work, keep the needle in this position whilst you put the tip of right-hand needle knitwise (as usual) into the next stitch to be worked. (This will feel awkward at first.) The right-hand needle should stick out at the back BETWEEN the second and first stitches, thus forcing the two stitches to form an X on the needle. Throw the yarn as for a normal knit stitch, bring the loop through both stitches in turn (between the legs of the X at the front of the needle). Drop the old stitches from the left-hand needle. Repeat from *.

On a Purl Row _ P1, ** slip the tip of the left-hand needle purlwise into the new stitch and angle it towards the back, slip the tip of the right-hand needle purlwise into the next st to be worked, p2tog.  Repeat from **.

It is very easy to misinterpret these directions and get a different result: the underlined phrase above is where this most commonly occurs. Instead of projecting the needle between the two stitches at the back, the knitter, consumed by the goal of binding off, goes further and pulls the second stitch out through the first one, to the side of the work and then knits it. This produces a beautiful edge, ideal for a finished edge not intended to be seamed (especially when worked in a contrasting colour). However, is it structurally different: it is a suspended bind-off which is hard to unravel and difficult to seam over.

BTW: The reason that a regular bind-off is usually too tight when worked with the same needle size as the project is that you are linking stitches on their sides (the bound off chain) across the width of the same number of stitches. Stitches are wider than they are tall. Ergo, the edge becomes tight.

The reason that this method is looser is that, as you swing your right-hand needle around into the second stitch, it elongates the stitch held on both needles. How much the stitch is stretched is up to you; the depth of the insertion of the needle tips and how far you crank it around are for you to control.

It is very likely that this method exists out there by some other name, as it’s too logical not to have been discovered before. I have recently heard it referred to as the Latvian Bind-off but haven’t yet found a video to confirm this. There are several similar methods but none that I have found yet that exactly replicate the structure of a regular chain bind-off.

Please send me links about similar bind-off methods if you find any.

To make this bind-off your own, practice it everyday for a week! It doesn’t have to be a whole project: just cast on 10 sts and then bind them off again. You are in knit-training!

 

Long-Tail Cast On Revisited January 26, 2015

Air Conditioned Mittens from A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-knitters!

Air Conditioned Mittens from A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-knitters!

I love Long-tail cast-on! It’s so versatile and very easy to control. I opted for showing Knitted cast-on for my Brand New Knitter DVD as it includes so many elements that are repeated in an actual knit stitch and it will form stitches no matter how randomly they are made. But as soon as the basics are established and the knitter is comfortable with stitches, it will be time to explore the Long-tail method. This method is, in essence, a series of stitches (made with the ball yarn) knitted through a series of loops (made with the tail yarn).

It is otherwise known as Continental cast-on – but the name “Long-tail” reminds the knitter that a long tail of yarn is needed. I’m all in favor of helpful names!

In this video I demonstrate Long-tail cast-on and explore some of its many attributes!

I  demonstrate this cast-on by using two colours to differentiate the functions of the tail and ball yarns. It’s important to understand the role of the two yarns. If you use your tail yarn to make the twists around the feet of the new stitches, it can be unpicked or cut away at a later time as a form of provisional edge (not the most convenient one, but it will work).

Estimating the tail length is often cited as a problem with this method.  I recommend 4 times the width of the edge, which is usually perfect. You don’t want to have to economize on tail yarn length because you are running out, else your edge will wind up too tight. The tail yarn controls the spacing between the stitches (and YOU control the tail yarn).

Fear of tangles in the tail yarn sometimes leads knitters to economize on the length, too. No problem dealing with that: If you wind the tail into a butterfly, it keeps it tidy and allows it to turn and release the twists that tend to un-ply, and hence weaken, your tail yarn.

Long-tail calls for a little finesse from the knitter in balancing the tension between the two yarns. There is no reason why the new stitches should ever be tight. There is no need for a larger size needle to be used, either, as this only leads to baggy stitches and won’t affect the width of your edge.  You are in control of the tension and of the spacing of the stitches.

You’re the boss.

If you enjoy my You Tube videos – please tell your friends and sign up for my channel lucyknit

The Air Conditioned mittens pictured above in Abstract Fibers yarn, used Long-tail cast-on before the “holey” edge. This pattern is available in my ebook A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-knitters!

 

Finishing Tips – Making and Counting Sleeve Increases December 18, 2014

Filed under: Knitting tips and hints,Knitting Topics,Youtube — happystitches @ 08:57
Tags: , , ,
Duck Sweater

Duck Sweater

 

Sleeve increases are one of the many areas of knitting in which a few tried and true tricks can help a knitter towards significantly easier and more elegant finishing.

The common sleeve injunction “Increase at the beginning and end of the row. Repeat every six rows until there are xx sts” is open to interpretation.  I prefer making my increases at 1 (or 2) stitches from the beginning and end of the row and interpret the instructions as such.

I don’t recommend using any selvage treatments here either. Working your increases in from the edge by 1 or 2 stitches will give a lovely smooth column of stitches along which to mattress stitch. Experienced knitters know the value of keeping a selvage stitch unsullied when the edge is going to be seamed and nowhere is this more important than on a sleeve.

Another point to remember when knitting sleeves is that it can be tedious to keep track of how many increases have been made and how many rows have been worked since the last increase.  Running yarn markers are an excellent tool which help here:

I begin by placing the marker yarn a couple of stitches in from the edge on either side, using a fine, smooth, brightly contrasting yarn. I use one long marker, which I run across the back of the work from side to side.  This avoids too many dangling ends. On every increase row, I flip the marker yarn to the opposite side of the work, keeping it between the same vertical columns of stitches.

This way, I can both count and record the rows between increases. I can keep track of how many pairs have been added and whether the two sides have been maintained equally. The elimination of the need to count the middle section saves a lot of time, as well. Leaving the marker yarn in place until the second sleeve is done makes it easier to compare the two sleeves at the end.

For more of hints on sleeves check out the Sleeve Tricks chapter on my Knitting Venus DVD

Have you any favourite sleeve tricks you’d like to share?

 

P.S. Our Online Advent Calendar Sale is coming to a close on December 25th.  We’ve been offering a different pdf pattern of mine at half-price every day throughout the month!  Stop by and see which one is on sale today!

Take a look at our  Special Holiday Bundles, featuring my Learn with Lucy Video Downloads paired with a relevant pattern.  These should get your needles clicking in time for the festivities!

Sleeve seam in my intarsia Rainbow Sheep Sweater

Sleeve seam in my intarsia Rainbow Sheep Sweater

Sleeve seam in my Bicycle Sweater

Sleeve seam in my Bicycle Sweater

 

 

Fixing Accidental Yarn-over Holes December 9, 2014

Filed under: Knitting tips and hints,Knitting Topics,Rescue techniques,Youtube — happystitches @ 07:49

You’ll know by now how much I enjoy incorporating deliberate Holes into my knitting, but today I’m presenting holes of a different category: the unexpected, and most unwelcome kind…

Every now and then you’ll be perusing your knitting and, much to your horror, will discover a hole created by an accidental yarn-over. The yarn has somehow traveled over the needle between stitches. This is most likely at the junction between dpns when first learning how to handle them, or when working a rib (between a knit and a purl).

 

Yarn-over Holes Before

Accidental Yarn-over Holes – Before

 

This problem is most commonly encountered by newer knitters to whom the prospect of ripping back many rows is very daunting.  This quick fix should enable the knitter to contentedly move along to their next project!

If you spot the hole right away, it’s simple to drop the offending yarn-over and absorb the extra yarn into the stitches on either side. If it is one or two rounds later, the newly formed column may be dropped and the yarn shared on each row. This fix has the advantage of restoring the original number of stitches but can’t be incorporated beyond a small number of rows (or rounds), however, as the excess yarn will remain visible and result in a large area of sloppy fabric.

 

Yarn-over Holes After

Accidental Yarn-over Holes -After

 

There are a couple of possible quick fixes if the hole is discovered much later. Neither of these is perfect but quite good enough for most situations.

Firstly, decide how important the location of the hole is. If it occurs right in the center front of a plain sweater, you might decide to unravel back and start again. Below the eyeline or at the side or back, though, will be no problem: just make a fix!  For a sock knit in a hand-painted yarn the fix will blend right in. Both of the methods below will leave you with an extra column of stitches which may be decreased away if necessary.

Method 1 (shown on the right-hand hole in the photo above):

This can only be done whilst the stitches are still on the needle. Ladder back the column to the yarn-over and release it. Rebuild the column but begin by making a twist in the yarn-over.

Method 2 (shown on the left-hand hole):
This may be done at any time, before or after completion. I think the result is the neater of the two. Take a piece of matching yarn and darn it around the two sides of the yarn-over, so that when the new yarn is pinched underneath the yarn-over looks like a normal stitch. Then take both yarn tails, one at a time and darn them into a single stitch a round/row or two lower. Adjust the appearance to suit before darning in the tails. The result is identical to a left-slanting raised increase (it may also be made to appear as a right-slanting increase).

 

 

Onwards and upwards! There is little to be gained from ripping back miles of stocking stitch for a simple fixable error such as this. Move on to new and more creative ones. You will learn far more from your mistakes than you do when you get it right first time (a happy accident in itself)!

Remember to keep an eye on our online pre-Christmas specials and Clearance items at my website!  Also, please do subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be updated whenever I add a new tip! (Ask your friends to join too!) Thanks for your support.

Happy Stitches!

 

Happy Stitches For Us All November 18, 2013

Some of the best forms of a teacher’s pay are the comments from students. One of the classes I teach when travelling, “A Phoenix from the Ashes” has brought me many remarks along the lines of “life changing”.

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I’ve been finding myself teaching in all kinds of interesting places of late, but it’s my happy students who keep me coming back again and again!

In truth, it’s the students who inspire me to continue traveling and keep teaching.   I started off as an instructor at local Guilds, shops and events.  Over time, I was asked to teach knitters in more and different locations.  Then my team and I decided to explore teaching “on film” and the DVD series was born (I had never intended to film so many titles, but I have a lot to share and, in truth, I still keep finding more!).  Somewhere in there, I wrote two books.  About three years ago, I was approached by Knit Companion’s Sally Holt, followed by an offer to teach a Craftsy course.  Now we’re busy with the Double Knitting Club, which is based mainly on visual demonstrations and teaching of new techniques.  In between all of this, in my free time, I have created a YouTube Channel and started filming clips from home.

As you can see, my teaching has found all sorts of new forms, and each brings its unique qualities.

What I still love best, though, is the interaction and feedback from students.  It’s always fun to build a relationship based on a shared passion, even if, in the end, it is more of an email correspondence, or a chat through social channels.

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It’s always fun to find new friends who share my passion for knitting!

I recently received an email from one of my knitting friends.  She had made a beautiful cabled sweater, only to discover a glaring imperfection while blocking the finished garment.  Below is what she wrote, and some photos of her wonderful work:

Hi Lucy,

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Note the miscrossed cable on the left panel

I discovered this mis-crossed cable WHILE BLOCKING this sweater. With the

help of your brilliant ‘daring fix’ video, I was able to fix it! Thank you,

thank you!

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This is a delightful example of a superb rescue made on a fully completed sweater – all done without opening a seam or removing a neckband.

I can only imagine the horror that the sight of the wrongly crossed cable caused, especially when it was only spotted when blocking the finished sweater. However the triumph, I’m sure, was all the sweeter.

This fix was achieved using the method shown in Cable Fun – Part 4 (Daring surgical fix)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8ug3FrgZ3Y

I’m so glad it came in handy!

Happy Stitches!

Sign up for my YouTube channel Lucyknit and then you will be notified of new videos. The full collection can be accessed (without the distraction of watching someone wrapping a cat in Christmas paper) from your personal Notebook on my website too (this service is free for all registered users).

 

 
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