Category Archives: tutorial

Malabrigo Quickie: ZigZag Lightning Cowl

Fall is in the air, at least here in Portland. It’s time to start thinking of ways to keep warm!

ZigZag Lightning CowlShort ZigZag Lightning Cowl

ZigZag Lightning CowlLong ZigZag Lightning Cowl

These are my new ZigZag Lightning Cowls. Knit with Malabrigo Merino Worsted, they’re featured this month as a Malabrigo Quickie pattern.

ZigZag Lightning CowlLong cowl, doubled

Either of these cowls can be knit with two skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in coordinating colors. I love the colors in Malabrigo’s variegated yarns, and pairing a variegated with a semi-solid is my favorite way to make them both shine. I’ve used a slip stitch pattern, so you are only working one color per row. A simple cable maneuver creates the zigzag effect.

ZigZag Lightning Cowls

Are you new to cabling? I’ve made a video tutorial for you! It shows how to make the zigzag lightning cables both with and without a cable needle. You can see it here.

The ZigZag Lightning Cowl begins with a long tail cast on. Do you avoid this cast on for fear of running out of yarn? Fear no more, because there’s a way to ensure you never run out of yarn for this cast on; I wrote about it in my previous post.

This pattern is available through Ravelry; here’s the page link. To celebrate its launch, I”m offering it for $2 off through September 9. Use the code ZIGZAG to get your discount.

Thanks to Malabrigo for the pretty yarn to play with!

Never run out of yarn with 2 tailed long tail cast on

snowy woods knitalong

We’re starting the Snowy Woods knit-along today, and I ask that you start with a long tail cast on. I love the long tail cast on for knitting. It’s stretchy yet firm, and it has definite knit side and purl side. You can choose which side to use as your public side. The only thing I don’t like about this cast on is guessing how long a tail you need to have before you start. There are a couple rules of thumb out there, like multiplying the width of your knitted piece by 3 (somehow related to pi and the circumference around your needle), or wrapping your yarn around the needle the same number of times as the number of stitches you’re going to cast on. but it can still be iffy. Who hasn’t experienced the heartbreak of being a few stitches short? Ouch.

I came across this fabulous method while I was researching cast ons for my Cast On, Bind Off class. You can use two balls of yarn, or both ends of a center pull ball.

Long Tail Cast On knit

Take the two strands of yarn and use both to make a slip knot about 6 inches from the end.

long tail cast on knit

Put this on your needle. This is not a stitch; it’s just holding your yarn together. Choose one of the strands to be the tail, and the other to be the working yarn, and proceed as usual with the long tail cast on. (This is the same as the thumb cast on, if you prefer to work it that way.)

long tail cast on knit

When you’re finished working the cast on, cut the tail (not the working yarn), leaving 6 inches to weave in. (I didn’t actually cut this here, because I use this piece of yarn for lots of demonstrations.)

long tail cast on knit

Turn and work your first row as you normally do. (Notice that the purl bumps are facing you on this row, because you were essentially knitting stitches on when making the long tail cast on.)

long tail cast on knit

When you come to the double slip knot, undo it (because it’s not a stitch) and continue working.

long tail cast on knit

You’ll have two more ends to weave in, but you didn’t run out of tail when you were casting on! I find this especially helpful if I’m casting on hundreds of stitches. No one wants to run out of yarn while doing that!

On the Snowy Woods Cowl, I want the bumpy side of the cast on (the purl side) to be on the public side of my knitting, and it will be if I use long tail cast on. That’s why I’ve specified which cast on to use. If you prefer to use a different cast on that will leave the smooth (knit) side on the first row, you may wish to adjust your rows so that you still get the right number of garter ridges on your edging.

Are you knitting along with the Snowy Woods KAL? I hope this is helpful to you!

Purling back backwards tutorial

Aloha edging

I’m working the knitted on border of my Aloha Shawlette for the Aloha knit-along. The border is 4 to 6 stitches wide, and it’s tedious to turn my work after every row. The solution? Purling back backwards. You can do it, too.

Edited to add: Some people call this knitting back backwards, or KBB. I’ve seen it referred to both ways. For me, what I think of as knitting back backwards would result in garter stitch. I’ve never done garter stitch with this non-turning technique, but it’s possible, too. I just haven’t needed it yet.

I’m almost done with the shawlette; this is a quick and easy knit! But it’s not to late to join the KAL. You can be part of the chat and prize drawings through my Ravelry group. I’ve just drawn the first prize winner; JBTCat will be getting these fishy stitch markers.

fish stitch markers

You can make stitch markers like these, too; check out my tutorial here.

There are a few more prizes in store, including yarn and a mystery fun thing. Come join the fun!

How to wear a shawlette

I love designing shawlettes; they are a perfect canvas for showcasing the beauty of one or two skeins of gorgeous yarn. But how do you wear a shawlette?

You can wear it just draped on your shoulders.

Sophie's Rose drape
(Sophie’s Rose)

Rosaria 2
(Rosaria, the Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL)

filigree drape
(Filigree Shawlette)

Or you can wear it with a big side swoop, which is my current favorite. Center the shawlette on one shoulder, let the end at your back come around the opposite shoulder, and swoop the end that’s in front of you up to cross over the hanging end. Give it a little scrunch at the neck; don’t try to keep it flat across the front.

Sophie's Rose mlb

I generally like to wear a shawl pin to help keep things in place if I’m doing the side swoop. I’ve been wearing this leaf stick by local woodworker Rod Wallace (husband of Bobbie Wallace, whom I met at OFFF many years ago) with Sophie’s Rose; it’s the perfect color for this shawlette, and it stays put really well.

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The side swoop works with several shapes, such as the asymmetric triangle above, the crescent shaped shawl here

Photo May 13, 3 27 36 PM
(Garland Shawl)

and this half circle pi shawl (please excuse the hotel room selfie pic of Midnight in Rosaria)

Rosaria

The shawl pin for this one was custom made by Jill Lawrence of Twisted Sister Arts, specifically for my Rose City Yarn Crawl Midnight in Rosaria Shawlette. Isn’t it gorgeous?

shawl pin 2

Longer, narrower shawlettes can be worn scarf style, like this Fern Shawlette. Scarf style is pretty close to the swoop, just scrunch it up more around your neck rather than your shoulders.

fern

The Autumn Scarf pictured below actually *is* a scarf, but I use this method with longer shawlettes: Fold in half, wrap around your neck, and put the two ends of the shawlette into the loop at the fold in front of you.

autumn scarf

And then there’s the bandana or kerchief style. It works well with triangles and crescents, and especially really long (wide) crescents. Put the center of the shawlette at the front of your neck, wrap the ends around your neck and bring them to the front. A pin is helpful if the ends are really long, but shorter shawlettes can just end on your shoulders.

webfoot 1
(Webfoot Scarf)

As an aside, I was out at Black Sheep at Orenco on Saturday to knit with their Rose City Yarn Crawl KAL group.

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We had a great time, and I saw this very lovely shawl stick pin by Rod Wallace. I love my leaf stick pin, but he has really upped his game. I may need one of these, too.

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There you have it! I hope this gives you some new ideas for wearing your gorgeous creations. How do you wear your shawls and shawlettes?

Rescue me! Knit edition

Today I finished clue 3 of my Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Shawlette. While I was working the last row, I found a split stitch several rows back. Horrors!

dropped stitch

I knew that the tiny bit of yarn holding things together would break when I wet block this shawlette. You can see that most of the yarn loop that belongs to that stitch is hanging out in front of the fabric instead of being part of the fabric. It’s the bottom stitch of the dark blue stripe. Only a tiny filament of this loop is holding the fabric together. (I had already started laddering down before I thought to take a picture.)

dropped stitch w/ hook

I laddered down to the split stitch: Drop the top stitch of the column off the needles, and then pull the yarn out of each loop on the way down, like a run in a nylon stocking. I then inserted my crochet hook (from front of the fabric towards the back), and carefully pulled each ladder through, in order, with each ladder becoming the new stitch on the hook. Pull up a little more than you think you should, to snug the stitch up with its neighbors on either side. (This is for stockinette; garter stitch is a little trickier.)

dropped stitch fixed

All better! See how the bottom stitch of the dark blue stripe looks the way it’s supposed to now? You can use this laddering technique to fix split stitches, wrong stitches, dropped stitches. If you’re picking up a dropped stitch, it may be a little tight when you hook things up, but you can borrow a bit of slack from the neighbors.

I’ve been teaching this and many other ways to fix knitting mistakes in a class called Tink, Drop, Frog for a while now. It’s always fun seeing knitters learn to take charge of their knitting. Interested? The next one is scheduled at Twisted on April 13 from 12:30 to 2:30. You, too, can fix mistakes like a boss!

Here’s the finished clue 3.

rcyc clue 3

I think it looks like ripples on moonlit water.

rcyc clue 3 b

I added an extra band of roses halfway through the second stripe sequence. They’ll stand out better when properly blocked; I only pinned it out a bit.

rcyc clue 3, close

One more clue, coming this Friday!

Thrumbelina KAL begins today!

We’re casting on for a Thrumbelina KnitALong today! This KAL is not a mystery KAL. All the information you need is in the pattern. We’re sharing questions, tips, progress…

thrumbelina2

Before you cast on, you should read through your pattern for information on how to thrum. You can also watch my thrumming video on youtube.

I just made an extra tutorial on a tip for continental style knitters.

Just remember, it’s important to make sure your working yarn wraps around the thrum, rather than coming up underneath it.

continental thrumming

Edited to add: The Thrumbelina pattern is on sale for 25% off ($4.50 instead of $6) through the end of January. Click here to purchase through Ravelry. I meant to do this earlier, but I forgot! If you purchased this pattern during the month of January, I’ll be contacting you.

Who’s casting on with me? Come join the discussion in my Ravelry group!

Don’t worry; I’m still knitting the Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Shawlette KAL. But I’m caught up until the next clue comes out on Friday.

Knit on!

KAL color musings

The Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL kicks off tomorrow morning. Here’s my new yarn…

RCYC MKAL colors

I’m using Knitted Wit Single Fingering, Tugboat and Clematis. I was going to use the paler color for the sky (MC), and the darker color for the roses, but…

What if the darker color is the sky at night, and the roses are white roses that look blue in the moonlight?

If I turn it around that way, the dark color would be the MC, and the MC is slightly predominant, and I LOVE this deep purplish blue/bluish purple…

Guess I’ll have to decide by tomorrow!

Just in case you need help with your garter tab cast on, I made a video just for you. (youtube link)

Hope to see locals at Twisted for the cast on party, Friday January 17, 5-8 p.m.!

Also, the winners of the Thrumbelina patterns are…

Lucinda and jrbecca! I’ll be sending patterns along through Ravelry shortly. The Thrumbelina KAL begins on Tuesday, January 21. Pop over to the Ravelry discussion and tell me what yarn/fiber combo you’re planning! Here’s mine. This is Knitted Wit Merino single ply in Winter’s Night, and her merino fiber in Turks and Caicos.

image

(Gee, I wonder what my favorite color is?) Are you ready to cast on? I am, and I am!

Blocking lace tutorial: magic!

Blocking is magic for lace knitting. You may think that your project is finished once it’s off the needles, but that’s when the fun really begins. The true beauty of lace doesn’t show until you go through the finishing step of blocking.

Some of us are finishing up our Garland KAL shawls. I’m blocking Garlands for a couple of my local KAL knitters, as well as my own. Here are a couple Garland Shawls before

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and during blocking.

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After:

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Magic!

I thought I’d walk you through blocking on blocking wires, if you haven’t done it before. If you don’t have blocking wires, it’s also possible to do this using string in place of the wires (I’d use mercerized cotton, or linen), but I prefer the stiffness of the wires. Don’t weave in your yarn ends until after blocking. There’s going to be a lot of stretching going on.

Let’s get started!

First, I soak the knitted garment in the kitchen sink with a little bit of Soak, my favorite non-rinse wool wash. Use warm water and allow the garment to soak for at least 20 minutes to relax the fibers.

image

The garment is really saturated and stretchy at this point! Support it from underneath, and squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. Do not twist or wring. Next, lay it on a folded towel, fold the towel over that, and walk all over it. Really. This will get most of the water out.

The next step is to thread the straight edges onto the blocking wires. I put the wires along the top edge, going over and under the garter ridges. If you have an especially long edge, you would use two or three wires to cover the length, but overlap the wires by an inch or so at the place(s) where they meet. I know that you may consider this top edge to be a curve, but it works fine to block it straight, and it’s much easier to pin out this way. Triangle shawls are straight along the top; heart shaped shawls can be blocked straight along the top, too. Crescent shawls like my Webfoot or Filigree? I like to pin them all around, no wires.

image

Now the fun begins. Stretch out the garment so that the lovely laciness shines! Use the metal t-pins that came with the blocking wires to hold the wires in place. You’ll need to be working on a surface that can take your pins. In the summer, I’ve been using my old Dritz cardboard cutting board on a table outside. The cardboard is getting tatty after being pinned a bazillion times, but it still works. In the winter, I block on a futon sofabed in the basement. There are also blocking mats that you can purchase specifically for this purpose, and I’ve seen knitters use foam interlocking alphabet blocks, too. (A useful child’s toy, but be careful, some of the colors may transfer to your yarn.) Knitter’s choice!

If you’re pinning out points, you run the wires through the points like this,

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or you can pin each point out separately, like this center point.

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I pinned out each point of my peacock green Garland, but only because I forgot that I could run wires instead! Wires are much faster to set up.

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Let the garment dry completely, and then un-pin. Sew in your ends. The result? Instead of a crumpled wad of knitting, you have a diaphanous piece of gossamer loveliness.

Do you block your lace? Aggressively? I hope so!

Free and easy…Victoriana bracelet pattern

My crochet beaded bracelet class didn’t happen Saturday; not enough people signed up for it. I did these at a party last week with my Crafty Moms group, and we had a great time. I’m guessing that this project may be a better bead store offering than a yarn store offering, and that’s ok.

All dressed up and no place to go? I wrote a pattern for the class, but it’s so simple that I’m going to offer it as a freebie. You can download it here. Victoriana

These bracelets are simple and quick, and they make great gifts. The fun is in choosing just the right beads for your project.

I use pre-threaded silk cord, because it’s easier to thread beads with small holes (no doubling the cord back through a needle), but do as you like. The only stitch used is a crocheted chain stitch; we had several non-crocheters at our gathering and they had no problem learning this simple stitch. Gauge is not an issue; you just go until it’s long enough.

Enjoy!

Hugs and Kisses Fingerless Mitts

You may remember these fingerless mitts that I knit for my sister’s Christmas gift.

oxo close

I finished editing the pattern yesterday. It’s been tested by some of the wonderful test knitters in Ravelry’s Free Pattern Testers group. (The FPT group is a great resource.) I’ve included links in the pattern to my new tutorials on paired lifted increases and cabling without a cable needle. You can see all my tutorials on my tutorials page.

More information about the pattern is available here.

Happy knitting!