24 August 2016

Artistic Fraying

Sometimes part of the fun of writing a knitting pattern is coming up with unique instructions. For awhile, I've wanted to write a pattern that ends with, "Tie yarn securely to the roof of your car. Drive around for a couple weeks. Untie. Attach yarn 'feathers' to project."

Unfortunately, I have discovered this works only for very specific yarns.

Those of you who have seen my car in person may know that I typically have a little streamer "poof" coming off the radio antenna. This is made from several strands of Filatura Di Crosa Timo in color 13. Sadly, this yarn has been discontinued. I only change out the streamer about once a year, so I figure my one skein (60 meters) should last the life of the car.

I purchased this particular yarn because I was looking for a ribbon yarn in a colorway that would look good with my very red little car. What I did not realize was how the yarn would change when tied to the roof. The ends start out plain.

 But after driving around for awhile, they feather.

I've come to rather like the feathered look.

A couple years ago at Georgia FiberFest, I bought an art batt in the ‟flame thrower” colorway from Alpaca Trading Post. This was a wonderful batt with all sorts of different textures. I spun it up into over 75 yards of corespun goodness. The art batt included a couple yards of ribbon yarn very similar to Timo. I decided the feathered texture would be great fun. So, I dutifully cut the ribbon yarn into smaller sections and attached it to the roof of my car. I drove from Maryland to Georgia. I drove around Atlanta. I drove in the rain. I don't remember how many miles I put on my car, but this yarn would not feather!

As you can see in this ultra-closeup, both yarns appear to be the same construction. (Timo, both feathered and un-feathered is on the left.) It looks to me as if the central stitching migrates to the center and the weft breaks at the edges. I have no idea why one will feather and one will not. Ideas, anyone?

16 August 2016

Mach Wave Cowl

In early summer I was knitting projects quickly. It seem that knitting is much faster than pattern-writing, photography, videography, and all the other elements that go into self-publishing a pattern.

For the Mach Wave cowl, I decided to use some stash yarn. I had purchased Wool2dye4 Tweed Worsted in a "learn to dye with Kool-Aid" kit at The Whole Nine Yarns. This yarn has three plies, two of which are wool and the third is superwash wool. The third ply takes dye differently from the other two, creating the tweedy effect. I did quite a bit of outdoor dyeing back in June. That first burst of scorching summer weather triggered the impulse to execute the dye projects that had languished through the cooler months.

Although I have a big pile of Kool-Aid packets in my dyestuff stash, for this project I used Jaquard acid dyes. Before applying the dye, I decided I wanted the skein to become a center-out möbius. I divided the yarn into 11 lengths, placing a pin at each division. (Note to self: Next time, take the pins out as soon as possible. They will rust!) I wanted the stripes to be the same width. If the möbius is worked center-out, then the first color needs to be half the length of the remaining colors. Thus, the first color section was only one length, while the remaining color sections were two lengths.

Just for the record, here are the dyes I used:
1st section: 636 gold ochre
2nd section: 612 lilac
3rd section: 621 sky blue + 631 teal
4th section: 627 kelly green, 628 chartreuse, 629 emerald, + the tiniest bit of 620 hot fuchsia
5th section: 607 salmon + 617 cherry red
6th section: 600 ecru, 607 salmon, + 636 gold ochre

I laid everything out in aluminum pans, covered them with clear Plexiglas, and let the yarn bake in the sun for the day.

The cowl pattern is a center-out möbius worked in a reversible lace feather and fan pattern. You'll recall I figured out how to work chevron/wave patterns in a center-out möbius when I designed the Sonic Boom cowl. Sonic Boom was reversible because the feather and fan pattern was applied to a welted fabric. For Mach Wave, I instead used feather and fan as a reversible lace.

If you are working your way up the reversible lace learning curve, this in an intermediate project. The cast-on is Cat Bordhi's möbius cast-on. The lace pattern itself is a fairly basic reversible lace pattern. If you don't like the möbius shape, you can make a cylindrical cowl instead.

In September I'll be teaching a series of classes on reversible knitting at Georgia FiberFest. The festival will be producing their own magazine this year, and I've submitted Mach Wave for inclusion. You can also find the pattern as a paid download on Ravelry.

26 July 2016

Reversible Centered Quadruple Decrease

On the Alacrity mitts, I knit myself into a spot a didn't expect. I cast-on. I worked in the round. I introduced the thumb gusset using a bridge. I decreased away most of the thumb gusset. And then I got to the bottom of the gusset and realized I needed to work a reversible 5 into 1 decrease to keep everything in pattern.

Yes, this is a reversible centered quadruple decrease.
  • Park the five knits on one needle and the five purls on another needle.
  • Use a crochet hook to enter the obverse stitches in order 3-2-4-1-5. Yes, you will need to park stitch #1 and remove stitches from the needle as you work.
  • Using the hook, pull a stitch up through the whole stack.
  • Place the stitch on the right needle.
  • Turn the work.
  • Repeat on the reverse.
  • Turn the work back.

Not fast, but it can be done.

25 July 2016

Reversible Centered Double Decreases

As I continue to explore reversible lace, there are more and more techniques to develop. I've already posted how to work left-leaning and right-leaning decreases. The obvious corollary is how to work double decreases.

I need to explain there are different types of reversibility.
For example, if the obverse is this: /O/O
The reverse could be this: O\O\
or this: /O/O
The first example is mirrored reversibility, but the second example is identical reversibility.

In a centered double-decrease, there are also two possible configurations.
The stitches start out on the needle as left - center - right.
The final stacks could be either:
center                    center
right           or         left
 left                        right
which I will write as
center ∙ right ∙ left     or     center ∙ left ∙ right

The center ∙ right ∙ left version is the result of a typical knit-side centered double decrease:
  • slip the center and right stitches together knit-wise,
  • knit the left stitch,
  • pass the 2 slipped stitches over.

The purl-wise version of this is:
  • slip the right stitch knit-wise,
  • slip the center and left stitches together knit-wise,
  • slip all 3 back to the left needle,
  • purl all 3 stitches together up through the back of the loop.

The center ∙ left ∙ right version normally requires a lot of slipping stitches back and forth. However, when used in a reversible decrease, there is a shortcut.

When slipping knit stitches on to the cable needle, be sure the left and center stitches have eastern/right facings, then:
  • slip the right stitch purl-wise,
  • rotate cable needle 180° clockwise,
  • slip the stitch back to the cable needle,
  • knit all 3 together.

The purl-wise version is:
  • slip the right stitch knit-wise,
  • slip the center stitch knit-wise,
  • slip both stitches back to the left needle through the back of the loop,
  • purl all 3 together.

The purl-wise centered double decreases can mimic either stack. As I worked them in the video, they created identical reversibility with their knit-wise mates. If I had matched them up the other way, they would have created mirrored reversibility. The reality is this detail is so subtle it probably doesn't matter. I suggest figuring out which knit-wise version you like, which purl-wise version you like, and then work those unless you have a really good reason to do differently.

24 July 2016

Thumb Gusset Bridge

I gave the direction to use a bridge to create a thumb gusset. As this is an unusual maneuver, I thought I should explain.

In a top-down mitt, you cast-on in the round and work a tube. At some point, you may want to create a thumb gusset without breaking the yarn. You can do that by casting on more stitches, joining them back to the main tube, then continuing in the round. For reversible lace, I use a waste yarn tab to mimic the tubular cast-on and bind-off I've used elsewhere in the project.
  • Knit across the tab,
  • turn,
  • yarn over and slip one purlwise with yarn in front for the first pair,
  • then work alternating knit 1 in the running thread, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front across the tab.
  • After that, turn
  • and work 1×1 ribbing across the tab.
  • Now that the tab is established, join to the body of the mitt using a crochet hook to work the last knit-purl pair on the body a second time. This produces a secure join that won't gap.
At that point, I can return to working in the round. Eventually, I introduce decreases to shape the thumb gusset away.

If you prefer a taller thumb, that is still possible but you'll need to break the yarn. Before you cast on for the mitt, cast-on and work a little tube for the thumb and cut the yarn, leaving enough tail to weave it. When you are ready to insert the thumb gusset, just work across the little thumb tube, join back to the body of the mitt, and continue in the round.