19 July 2014

Binding Off at Both Ends

It has taken me awhile to shoot video and post this technique, partly because this is one of my "unventions." I haven't seen this technique documented elsewhere. Rather, I derived it. It allows you to bind off at both the beginning and the end of a row of knitting without one side being taller than the other.

In the top photograph, you can see the left corner and right corner don't match. The left corner has one more row of stitches, making the stripe thicker. In the bottom photograph, both corners match. Yes, this is a very picky detail that typically makes little difference. But for those it does annoy, this technique will delight. I usually teach this in my "Refined Baby Surprise Jacket" class as well as "Unventions" and "Looping Back" classes.

The directions:
  • Bind off at the beginning of the row, as per the instructions.
  • Work across in pattern, stopping with what you need to bind off plus one stitch remaining at the end of the row. (For example, if you want to bind off 5 stitches, stop when 6 remain.)
  • Put the work down. Stretch the yarn out and create a numeral "4."
  • The horizontal in the "4" becomes the yarn to be trapped, while the vertical is attached to the project and remains the working yarn.
  • Work the remaining stitches just a little loosely, trapping the horizontal yarn as you work. This is the same trapping maneuver used in stranded Fair Isle colorwork knitting.
  • Turn the work.
  • Evaporate the excess yarn by tugging gently on the skein end of the yarn.
  • Bind off the stitches without working them.
  • Note: if you will be resuming work with a purl stitch, you do not need to move the working yarn. If you will be resuming work with a knit stitch, then move that yarn to the back of the work just before you bind off the last stitch.
  • Slip the stitch on the right needle back to the left needle, as it has not yet been worked.
  • Resume work in pattern.

16 July 2014

I Break for Animals

Yesterday was the first birthday for Mei Lun and Mei Huan. Those of you who know me or read this blog at least a little are, therefore, unsurprised that I spent yesterday at the zoo.

The panda exhibit was crowded, as you might expect. With all the crowds and glare on the glass, I didn't get great pictures. But I did see a little of the birthday girls' shenanigans.
Who would expect it would be possible to wrestle in a tree?

Mei Huan demonstrates it is also possible to do yoga in a tree.

Mei Lun demonstrates how a panda can drape decoratively in a tree.

One of the docents -- Anne, I think -- was talking to some of the guests about the various animal Wild Encounters or VIP Pass experiences that can be purchased at the zoo. These are available at a variety of price points. One of the least expensive of the animal encounters is the Aldabra Tortoise Wild Encounter, at only $35, and even a little less for ZooAtlanta members. (In contrast, meeting a tiger will set you back $100, or for $150 you can meet gorillas or Yang Yang. Lun Lun and the twins will cost you $1000, or $900 for a zoo member. And, yes, I did pause to consider it.) Anne was telling the visitors how great the tortoise encounter is. For one thing, it is the only encounter where you go in the exhibit space with the animal. For another, you get to touch the animal!
And the tortoise doesn't just tolerate being touched, but he actually likes it! You can see how Shuffles stretches his neck up and leans in to my hand.

Even with a zoo full of people, I was the only person who showed up for the tortoise encounter. Tex and Corkie were cooling off in the corner mudhole, so I got to meet Shuffles. A big thank-you to Jessy, one of the zoo staff who kindly operated my camera and took lots of great pictures! Shuffles and Corkie are amongst the longest residents at ZooAtlanta, as they arrived in 1967. Of course, they were both in a smaller, easier-to-carry size back then. Today, Shuffles weighs 450 pounds! That's more than a panda or a Sumatran tiger.

The keeper -- Wade, I think -- kindly answered my questions about tortoises. And he told me all sorts of interesting facts about them. I had no idea how interesting and unusual they are.
For example, Wade explained how tortoises' shells can keep growing to accommodate the tortoise. He pointed out the scutes, and how they grow in a way that allows the shell to get bigger.

And, of course, I got to feed Shuffles. He ate slices of sweet potato.

When you see his mouth and tongue in action, you see how bird-like he is. Then you begin to understand why evidence is mounting that the great reptiles that were dinosaurs evolved into birds. Shuffles didn't chew his food -- just bite and swallow.

If you happen to be going to the zoo and can afford $35 per person for the encounter, I definitely recommend it! For children, the size of the tortoises will be even that much more impressive. I should also point out we are experiencing utterly perfect summer weather today and more is predicted for tomorrow.

12 July 2014

Rib to I-cord

On the Common Crowd Cap, the dangles are i-cords that grow organically from the top. They transition seamlessly from the ribbing, as a tree grows out of the ground. As you can see in the video, all it takes is a simple turn of the needle.

11 July 2014

Invisible Cast On, part 2

In yesterday's video, you saw how to create the stitches. Today's video will show you how to work them off in pattern for either 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing. You can extrapolate from that for syncopated rib.

If you recall my post a few years ago about something I called scalloped cast-on, the 2x2 rib in the video is scalloped cast-on.

10 July 2014

Invisible Cast On, part 1

As I stated yesterday, the Common Crowd Cap uses invisible cast on. Today's video will show you how to get stitches cast on to your needle. Tomorrow's video will show you how to work them off in pattern.

Basically, you regard the spare circular needle as if it were a wire and create yarn overs by ducking back and forth underneath the wire.  If you have worked Cat Bordhi's Möbius cast-on, you may recognize the resemblance.

09 July 2014

Common Crowd Cap

This is one of those posts I should have done months ago. Then again, I believe I've mentioned catching up as a current theme in my life?

Last year, the STITCHES teachers were asked if we would be willing to contribute original hat patterns to Halos of Hope. I don't wear hats much, but the shaping of them isn't difficult, so I said, "Sure!" Pam Haschke, the founder of Halos of Hope, asked us, "What would you want to wear if you had lost your hair to chemotherapy?"

My answer is that I'd probably just want to fit in. Hence the name of my pattern, the Common Crowd Cap. The goal is just to keep fitting in with the common crowd. The pattern is for sale on the Halos of Hope website, along with much better pictures than the ones I took. Halos of Hope often has a booth at STITCHES events. If you happen to be attending, you can see my hat as well as a lot of much more inventive designs in person.

I made two versions. One has dangles, because I find dangles to be fun and expressive.
And one is plain.
The cast-on is essentially the scalloped cast-on, but now worked in the proper pattern for syncopated rib. The dangles are formed by a little trick that allows the wales of ribbing to transition seamlessly into i-cord. Videos to follow over the next three days.