January 29, 2012

In Which I Learn the Importance of Researching Before Pattern Writing, and Get Addicted to Garter Stitch

So, my plans once again get made, and the fall into the dust.  I should be working on either the baby sweater to be made with my new yarn, or the crazy cable blanket, but I'm not.  Actually, I've managed to start another project in the meantime:


This is from a pattern in 60 Quick Baby Knits called "Log Cabin Afghan", except that I'm altering it.  The square is actually supposed to have two more blocks of color going around it, but I decided I didn't want to do that and stopped early (yes, I know that means more squares will have to be done.  But it also balances out color usage).  That, and since I'm using whatever yarn I have right now, which is mainly Caron Simply Soft with some Berocco Vintage for the middle square, the squares aren't all going to be the same color (though I haven't decided what to repeat or not yet, still thinking about it.  Also, I do not kid myself that at some point, more yarn will have to be bought to finish this).  As well, despite the pattern source, I doubt it's going to any baby.  My color scheme of worsted weight yarn in my stash isn't exactly baby friendly.  Thirdly, I really should learn to read patterns carefully before starting them.  You see the pile of center squares?  That's because I didn't realize that you didn't bind off on the first square, but kept knitting, and then turned.  I'm having to undo the bind off and then continue for all those squares because someone didn't follow instructions.

You would think I would have been driven mad by all the garter stitch done in those squares (and hell, I'm not even a big fan of garter stitch as a look), but I'm oddly addicted to it right now.  I guess my mind just needs something not complicated.  I've had better weeks.  At least it'll be a better project to work on during the Super Bowl.

In other news, I was pretty much done with the baby hat pattern I posted just now last week, except that then I actually bothered Googling 'Mistake Rib'.  You see, I learned a 1x1 version of mistake rib that wasn't reversible, leading me to decide to make a 'brim up' and a 'brim down' version of the pattern.  Then I found out that proper mistake rib is a reversible pattern.  Oops.  I could have saved my ass from having to do two hats (though doing the second hat reveled some other math-related mistakes in my pattern, so it still wasn't a waste of time).  However, changing it now would dictate a completely different pattern, as the math doesn't work out with my current stitch count.  So I apologize for that.  I could have made it easier, and I didn't.  I really should do my research before embarking on pattern writing wild goose chases.  It's because of this that I almost didn't post the pattern, thinking that it shows that I'm a bit of an idiot.  But I put a descent amount of work into it, so I decided to post it anyway.

However, between the pattern below, the squares, and some idea sketching for the baby sweater (which I'm most likely not going to use, but anyway), I haven't had time to do much else.  It's odd. I've gotten a lot done, yet it seems like I haven't done anything.  Oye.

Depressing post is depressing.  Will have to post later when I'm in a better mood.

Mistake Rib Baby Hat

 
Mistake Rib Baby Hat



Craft Type:
Knitting

Skill Level:
Easy

Sizing:
For sizes 0-3 months (3-6 months, 6-12 months), 12” (13”, 15”) round largest part of hat, unstretched, and 6” (7”, 7.5”) to i-cord tie.

Gauge:
23 stitches and 35 rows = 4” in stockinette stitch

Materials:
  • A lot less than 1 skein of Bernat Softee Baby in Gray Marl (for reference, I managed to to a small baby cardigan and two of these hats out of one skein). If you have about 100-150 yards of another DK weight yarn around, you could use that (and if you don't like acrylic, you won't want to use the yarn I used anyway. It's standard acrylic).
  • US 4 (or whatever you get gauge on), 40” circular needle or longer (for magic looping) or a set of US 4 (or whatever you get gauge on) DPNs (if this is your preferred way of working in the round).
  • Darning Needle

Abbreviations (US terms are used):
CO – Cast On
YO – Yarn Over
K – Knit
P – Purl
K2tog – Knit two together

Notes:
This is done using a 1x1 mistake rib, so it's not reversible.

Instructions surrounded by * symbols indicates repeat sequence until the end of the round. Instructions where there is a number followed by numbers in parenthesizes indicates different numbers or steps for the different sizes. If you only see one number or step, it's for all sizes. If there are different instructions for the brim up or brim down versions, they appear under brackets stating what version in the order 'Brim Down/Brim Up'. If the instructions apply to both, they are started with a set of brackets as such. To note, the main difference is the brim pattern and where to measure the hat from for the body. After that, it's the same.

Instructions:
[Both]:
CO 66 (70, 86) stitches. If using DPNs, spread out stitches evenly across all your needles. If magic looping, split evenly.

Brim:
[Brim Down]:
Round 1: *K, P*
Round 2: *K*
Repeat 1-2 until ribbing is an 1” long.

[Brim Up]:
Round 1: *K, P*
Round 2: *P*
Repeat 1-2 until ribbing is 1.5” long.

Body:
[Both]:
Round 1: For 0-3 month and 6-12 month sizes, K2tog first two stitches, then K to end of round.  For 3-6 month size, just K whole round.

[Brim Down]:
Work in stockinette stitch until hat measures 4.5” (5.5”, 6”) long from CO edge.

[Brim Up]:
Work in stockinette stitch until hat measures 4.5” (5.5”, 6”) long from the start of the stockinette part.

Decrease Rounds:
[Both]:

(For 6-12 month size, start here)
Round 1: *K13, K2tog*
Round 2: *K*

(For 3-6 month size, start here)
Round 3: *K12, K2tog*
Round 4: *K*

(For 0-6 month size, start here)
Round 5: *K11, K2tog*
Round 6: *K*
Round 7: *K10, K2tog*
Round 8: *K*
Round 9: *K9, K2tog*
Round 10: *K*
Round 11: *K8, K2tog*
Round 12: *K*
Round 13: *K7, K2tog*
Round 14: *K*

This should leave you 40 stitches on the needle. If you don't have this amount, please adjust accordantly until you do.

Hat Closure and Poof Top:
[Both]:
Round 1: *K2, YO, K2tog*
Round 2: *K, P*
Round 3: *K*
Repeat 2-3 until ribbing is ½” long. Cast off on round 2 in pattern. Weave in ends.

I-Cord Closure:
[Both]:
Knit a three-stitch, 8” i-cord. If you want more decorative loops, you can make it longer. (If you don't know how to make an i-cord, click here). You can use the same needles as the project, or go down a size or two if you want a skinnier i-cord. Do NOT weave the ends of the yarn into the cord, and make sure at least one end is on the longer side.

Weave the i-cord in and out of the YOs, making sure that both the ends of the i-cord are outside of the hat at the end and are the same length (you may find that putting a darning needle on one of the loose ends makes this a lot easier). Pull tight to shut hat.

Cross the two ends and wrap them around the top of the hat (level with the skinniest part of the poof). Tie ends into a knot on the other side (like the first step of tying a shoe. It doesn't need to be secure, just together.).

Determine which piece of yarn on the ends of your i-cord are longer. Take the shorter one and weave into the i-cord like normal, then tuck the end of the i-cord under the knot, making a small loop on one side. Thread a darning needle on the other piece of yarn, and use it to tuck in the other end of the i-cord under the loop like above. To do this, draw the needle through to the inside of the hat under the knot, making sure to go through the other end of the i-cord already tucked under there, and pull. Then, thread the yarn in and out from inside the hat through the ends of the i-cord and the knot to secure the i-cord and it's ends to the hat. End with yarn inside the hat and weave in the end like a cast off. This should leave tiny loops above and below the i-cord where the knot was placed.

Happy knitting!

* * *

If you find any errors in this project, please e-mail: CompileYarn[at]gmail[dot]com, or leave a comment  here or on Raverly.  Copyright (c) invisican/CompileYarn(). .


January 15, 2012

I Seem to Plan These Things at the Last Minute

So, in true me fashion, I found out last week that Vogue Knitting Live was being held this weekend in Manhattan, and therefore made last minute plans to go.  Which I can do, since I now don't just live close to the city, but now live close enough where attending was just a matter of hopping on the subway.

Unfortunately, having just moved (as well as had some other unforeseen cost sinks) meant I couldn't afford to take any classes, not that there was a good selection the last week of registration anyway. I ended up doing the 'I Heart NY' package, since paying for that cost just as much as paying for two day marketplace pass, and got you a lecture on top of it.  It ended up working out, as I not only went Saturday to attend the lecture as I had planned to in the beginning, but went Sunday to attend one of the free panels as well.  Though, being in the marketplace for two days didn't help my budget much.  But let me start from the beginning here.

In General
At first, I wasn't too sure about this event.  I walked around the marketplace first, saw projects I liked, but not a lot of yarn caught my eye.  Contrasting that to Rhinebeck where I saw tons of yarn I liked, it was a little disheartening at first.  I'm thinking that part of the reason was that I was trying to be more cautious with my money and space (in contrast to Rhinebeck, where I didn't have a budget or space constraints), and therefore only glanced at all the nice cashmere and silk yarns that are at these events.  The other was that the projects I've been thinking of doing were more warmer weather projects, and a lot of the yarn was cold weather stuff (on top of that, none of my project ideas were solid 'I'm doing X' things, which didn't help). The third is that this seems more geared towards the fashion-forward crowd, whereas I'm picky about what I like and it usually isn't popular (for example, I really didn't see any colors I like that wasn't some brand name yarn I can get elsewhere for the same price if I want it).  Also, I was hoping I'd find buttons for my baby sweater, but there were very few button sellers.  I don't think it helped that I've been in a weird mood for unrelated reasons. 

However, there were some interesting thing there.  As I said, I did see a couple of projects on display that I loved as a project, though I wasn't interested in the yarn used.  One of the vendors had a nice shrug with a stockinette body and cabled collar, with mid-length sleeves.  I fell in love with it the first time I saw it.  However, the yarn used was some weird yak/wool blend which wouldn't have worked for when I needed the shrug (I have a event in June that I was thinking of making a shrug for), the color choices didn't thrill me, and the yarn wasn't cheap either.  As far as I could tell, the pattern itself wasn't on sale.  The other projects I saw was just displays of patterns from magazines, and the last thing I need is a magazine subscription.  Something to think about, but nothing to do.  At first this bugged me, but now it doesn't.  I have food for thought, at least.

The Lecture
I scheduled myself to go to the 'Passionate Knitter Takes the Next Step' by Jo Packham, mainly because the time worked for me.  However, having played with this blog and the idea of trying to design more complicated patterns, I was thinking it may be helpful.

Now, don't get me wrong, the talk was interesting and Packham was funny and entertaining.  However, the talk was geared more towards those really trying to break into the industry as writers and entrepreneurs, and so a lot of the advice wasn't useful to me.  I was thinking I would get more advice on blogging, designing, and other quirks in the knitting world as a means to itself, not as a tool to market a brand so one can freelance as a creative person. I blog, design, and otherwise knit because I enjoy it and want to share, not because I'm looking to make it my job or use it to break into another job.  Hell, I think there's one person who actually knows who I am, who also knows I blog about this stuff.  I know there's very few people who know how much I truly lurk in the knitting world (and I mainly lurk.  That's what needs to change first, I think).  I guess if the lecture did anything, it showed me that I'm a lot more out of the knitting world than I was thinking, and that's ok with me.

Fashion Shows and the Panel
I found the fashion shows by accident; I just happen to be walking by when one was going on, and decided to watch.  I didn't think I'd be interested, but it ended up being one of the better things about this event.  I say that despite the fact that I am horrified at the trends coming up in the knitting world.  Maybe that's why I did enjoy it.  Because I'm horrified.

I first caught part of the Trendsetter fashion show.  I've never heard of them before this event, and their line of yarns seem to consist of, what's it called, specialty yarns?  Ribbon yarns, sparkly yarns, bobble yarns, all sorts of demented not-yarn yarns.  I was under the impression that specialty yarns were what they tried to spring on new knitters (I know that my learn-to-knit book had more than enough projects made out of Fun Fur.  Why certain people think fun fur and the like is appropriate for beginners is beyond me).  That they're the yarns big box stores sell to one in a blue moon hobby knitters.  But here they all, bobbles, sparkles, and all that jazz, in projects that models are wearing down the runway at a major knitting event.  I don't think I need to tell you that I've never liked such yarns or styles.  I wasn't happy that they seem to be picking up again, despite the fact that I shouldn't be surprised.  After all, when did those ugly fir vests, boots, and hats start selling in department stores? Last year?

Anyway, I decided to stick around and watch the next show (despite the fact that, at this point, I was tired and hungry).  This show was for Skacel, which is another company I've never heard of.  The good thing is that they didn't overdo the specialty yarns.  The bad thing is it seems like the next knitting trend is modular knitting, at least according to this company.  I'm not a huge fan of the 'bunch of squares put together' look outside of some afghans; it was one of the reasons I've gotten into knitting over crochet for such things.  They didn't change my opinion.  Another trend they used was weird garment shaping.  Now, I'm not automatically against unique shaping, but not like this.  These garments had bat wings, sweaters that looked like bags with cuffs, weird cowls attached to the garment, that kind of thing.  Yes, I like knitting rectangles too, but I rather deal with garment shaping than wear a rectangle.  Again, some of the stuff here was just reflecting store trends that I hate.  Oye.  However, there were a couple of things I didn't mind, and I have to say that swing dress is pretty neat, though I'd probably never wear such a thing if I knit it.

After this show I left to get food and go home.  That would have been the end of my Vogue Knitting Live trip, except I guess I enjoyed see all the bad fashions more than I thought, as I found myself looking at the Sunday schedule and going: 'Oh, I could go see the Vogue Knitting show at 2.'  So, I came back on Sunday in the afternoon to see the what Vogue Knitting was offering.

I have to say, while there was maybe one thing I would actually want to really wear (maybe two, if I modified the second a bit), they were a lot saner than the other shows.  There were several garments I was going: 'Oh, that looks really interesting, I wouldn't mind knitting something like that.' or even 'Hm, I wouldn't do that but that's an interesting idea.'  Of course, there were a couple of things where I went 'What the hell?', mainly a long, weirdly shaped cardigan with a long twisted attached cowl in the front (at least the other garments with cowls in this collection were not attached).  Also, cowls in the summer?  Summer ponchos?  I don't get these trends.

After this was a panel on knitting as a career, which was the second reason I went back on Sunday.  As I thought, it was interesting and amusing to hear the stories of people, some whom I've read their blogs, or just names we all have heard around the knitting world, tell their stories on how they ended up doing it for a living. 

Purchases
Despite wondering around the marketplace for hours on Saturday because nothing really caught my eye, I did end up buying some yarn (of course):


This will be for a baby sweater for that baby I've been making the other things for (which, I should mention, one good thing about this event was all the knitting time I had during and between shows and events.  I got the baby hat done. Also, being surrounded by people knitting during shows was great).  I picked this yarn because it's 1) cotton and 2) wasn't in the classical pastel blue/pink colors and 3) I've never seen a colorway like that red/orange one, and I thought it'll be interesting, especially since I still don't know the baby's gender, and while I'd have no issue putting pink or flair-y things on a boy or blue on a girl, my relatives would.  So, I thought the red/orange combo would be gender neutral enough, in a short-sleeve cardigan with stripes (or maybe with sleeves, not sure yet).

When I went back on Sunday, I had plans to not buy anything else.  Not only did that not work, I also manage to make an ass out of myself.  Here's what happened:

1) As I was walking around the marketplace right before it was set to close, I passed the Knitty City booth. At the Knitty City booth were two knitwear designers with books out, both which I've heard of but never owned their books.  One happens to be a known designer who I: 1) have favorited patterns on Raverly for but never got around to making, 2) have read their blog since they were featured in Brave New Knits, and 3) just released a book I was just looking at on Amazon as something I may be interested in. 
2) I go up to the known designer's table and say 'oh, I was just looking at this book on Amazon', hereby throwing all proper social introductions out the window.  I pick up the book and start looking through it.
3) After some niceties about the book with a Knitty City staffer, I get told that the author of said book is sitting at the table (which I knew).  I go 'Oh, yes, *mumble, mumble, looking at book not people*, I know, I hang around the Internet.'  At this point I then realize that I: 1) failed to maintain proper social etiquette from the get go, 2) didn't make much sense to anyone else but myself, and 3) now sound like some deranged stalker.  Author has smiled at me, but not said anything but hello.  Unsure what to do, I just keep looking at book.
4) Knowing that there was no graceful way out now, I ask how much book is.  Another mistake.  Knitty City employee flips over book and reads price off of back (duh).
5) I ask to buy book, hand book I'm holding to author.  I still haven't bother explaining myself about the internet comment, or saying anything like 'Oh, I've read your blog' or anything to that nature because I'm afraid of sounding more like a crazy idiot.
6) At this point, another person reads my name tag and asks about where I live.  I tell her that I just moved.  Turns out, she lives in the same 'hood and informs me that there are a lot of knitters there and they meet up.  I mention that I 'didn't know that because I didn't find it on the Internet' (why did I say that?), and I live on the other side of the 'hood from the place she was pointing out they meet.  She did at least tell me a Raverly group for knitters in the area. I make mental note to check it out.
7) Author hands book back.  I say thank you at least two times.  Author thanks me.  I look around and bow away from table to pay for book.

So, the end result is that I bought something completely unplanned, and there's a well known designer who may think I'm a complete idiot. Oye.  But, hey, I have a signed knitting book, and the note is very nice despite my, um, behavor.  And there are a couple of patterns in there I would love to do once I get the time and money.


Conclusion
I had fun, believe it or not.  Even it was the 'hey, let's see what absurd thing we can see today' kind of fun.  It also made me think about what I'm doing as a knitter, and where I want to go with my hobby.  That's something I'm still thinking about, though it did lead me to do yesterday's post.  Because, honestly, I know I'm talking to myself right now.  I don't really participate in the knitting world.  I just lurk, and think that's enough.  What this event let me see is that it's not enough.  Even if I sound like an idiot at first, I need to participate more, talk more, share more.  Because, after all, one of the things that attracted me was that there is a 'knitting community'.  That's impressive in its own right.  And I don't have to make it my job to participate, though I have to keep in mind that I am a budding intermediate knitter/crocheter and not a designer, despite the fact that I have two designs on this blog.  They're basic; I haven't done anything yet.  However, the other fact is that I can learn to be a hobby designer, but I can't rush the process or do it alone.  My goal, therefore, is to get to a point where I do have some better designs, and to not get frustrated when my fantastical ideas that I have right now don't work at first.  To sit down and do, instead of dream, and to do for the knitting community.

Also, I hope that for next year, I can afford a class or two.  Because I think one of the better things about this event is the classes, and honestly, they would have helped me a lot more.  But that is life.

Oh, and I do have pictures from the event, but they're on my phone, and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to share them, as most of them are of one of the shows.  Sorry.

January 14, 2012

Guides for Self-Taught Knitters: Avoiding Twisted Stitches

I'm sure we all have that one mistake (or more) we've made while learning to knit, where we look back at it years later when we're more experienced and go 'Holy shit, how the hell did I do that?'  I'm not talking about the mistake you catch a few rows away and decide not to fix, nor the mistake you make when you think you can read the mind of the pattern writer from miles away and therefore read in the pattern directions that happen to not be in the pattern.  No, I'm talking about being oblivious to the fact that you're knitting wrong for a whole year because you never saw anyone knit in person.  That kind of mistake.

Being that it took several tries of Googling this issue before I found out what I was doing wrong, I wish to embarrass myself and show you exactly what I did wrong.  Welcome to the first post in my new series, Guides for Self-Taught Knitters.

The Mistake
Pop quiz: Can you tell the difference between these two hats? (Other than the fact that the top and brim is bigger on one):


If you said: 'Oh, the stockinette stitch on the bottom one looks a bit weird,' or, 'The stockinette is leaning a bit on the bottom one' , you would be correct.  This is more apparent in this close-up (the left hat corresponds to the bottom hat in the picture above):


Notice how in the left hat, the stitches seem to be tighter, with one side sticking out over the other, instead of flat and more open in the right one?  That's because in the left hat, all the knit stitches (which are all the knit-side stitches, since these hats were knit in the round) are twisted. What do I mean by 'twisted'?  Well, first, you need to go to this page to see a schematic of what a knit stitch is supposed to look like.  Notice how all the loops are open, and one row of yarn waves through the loops above and below it?  That's how stockinette should look like, and it how the right side hat was done.  Twisted stitches, on the other hand, are where the 'U' and/or upside down 'U' shapes in the diagram end up not 'U's, but crossed:

Source picture is here.
That red row in my badly 'shopped schematic is what every knit row in that hat on the left side is.  While it still creates the semblance of a 'U' shape, it pulls all the stitches tighter than they should be, which we'll see produces a whole host of unintentional side effects.

The Symptoms
You may be suffering from twisted knit and/or purl stitches if your projects are doing one or more of the following:

1) When you stretch a piece done in stockinette and/or ribbing, the stitches pull closed, not open, and the sides of the stockinette columns look like ladders:

2) Your ribbing sucks.  More specifically, the side in which you are not twisting your stitches (unless you're twisting both your knits and purls, in which you wouldn't have this issue) is gaping wide open, and you can't get it not to do that by knitting tighter.  Also, you have huge ladders between the columns (It'll look a bit like the stretched picture above; but unfortunately, I don't have a good example of this one).
If you want to test this, knit a round in 3x1 ribbing.  It will be obvious.

3) When knitting a raglan round sweater, the increase lines aren't straight.  Instead, it looks like one line is bigger than the other, though when you measure it, it's not:


4) When knitting stockinette in the round, the columns of stitches curve around the tube:


5) Increases and decreases look screwy.
Believe it or not, that top part is just stockinette in the round with standard yoke decreases.

6) The columns of stockinette don't lie flat; there's a definite edge on one side (this will be the side in which the 'leg' of the loop is on top).  See the second picture of this post.

Of course, there may be more here I never ran into.  As well, depending on exactly how you're producing the twisting, or if you're making another mistake on top of it, will change exactly what symptoms you're seeing.


Causes and Corrections
Since there are so may different ways to knit and purl properly, there are so many ways you could be screwing it up to produce the twisted stitches.  There is one constant here, though.  If you're knitting into the front of the loop (otherwise known as the knit stitch, where the needle is placed in the right leg of the loop from left to right), if the left side of the loop is facing the front, you're going to twist your stitch.  If you're knitting into the back of the loop and the right leg is facing you, you will twist your stitch as well.

To tell you how I did it, you first need to read up on the English knitting style, if you're not familiar with the term.  This is one of the two most common styles of knitting in the Western world, and if you learned how to knit out of a book, you most likely learned this method of knitting.

One element of this knitting style is that you use your right hand to wrap or 'throw' the yarn around the right hand needle to create the stitch. Now, pop quiz: which way do you wrap the yarn around the needle in English style?

*cue Jeopardy music*

If you answered 'clockwise', you would be wrong, and you just found the reason all your knit stitches are twisted.  You wrap the yarn counter-clockwise in English style.  Unfortunately, the book I learned out of did not have very clear instructions, as it didn't state this fact.  Then again, this was also the book where I first thought knitting in the back of the loop was how one actually knit, but at least it only took me one project to figure that one out (see this project for an example of that, combined with the twisted stitches issue).

Correcting one's action depends on how one was screwing up in the first place.  To correct the mistake I made, you just need to train yourself to throw the yarn counter-clockwise.  Or, you can do what I did, which was to say 'screw this, I'm learning how to knit continental style.'

On that note, I'm thinking my second guide should be on knitting styles, as the books I've seen tend to say 'this is how you knit' without explaining that there are so many different ways one can knit (and purl) correctly.