Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tutorial: Perfect Picots

Picot edges give a delicate, but tailored, look to a garment. The trouble is that when picot bind offs are executed in the manner set out in most instruction books, the edge can look loose and sloppy, which is the opposite of the intended effect. Often, the little picot points have an unwanted slant.
I wanted to come up with a way of doing a picot bind off that was simple, with a clean, tidy look. And I think, after playing with various methods of achieving this, that the result surpasses my expectations. Indeed, my little points have a bead-like quality that seems to perfectly echo the seeded stocking stitch pattern on the body of my new cardigan.

So, how is it accomplished? First, you need a garter st edge (I haven't experimented with other types so far) with an ODD number of stitches. With RS facing and a needle one size smaller than you used for the garter stitch, *CO 2 sts to the working end of the LH needle,

Use the knitted cast on method, NOT the cable cast on!
then  k2, pass 1st st over 2nd, k2tog, pass 1st st over 2nd, k1, pass 1st st over 2nd, sl remaining st on RH needle to LH needle, and repeat from * to last 3 sts. Finally, CO 2 sts, k2, pass 1st st over 2nd, k3tog, pass 1st st over 2nd, break yarn and pull through last st to fasten off.
The key element of this approach is the k2tog (and the k3tog at the end), which solves the looseness that bedeviled my picot attempts for so long. I hope you give this a try; it's much easier than the traditional hemmed picot edge, and so pretty.
P.S. Happy Canada Day, 2015!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Do you think...

Just home from a stroll around the block.

Do you think gardeners live here?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Better Design: All about Thumbs

There are a lot of ways to incorporate thumbs into mitts and gloves. There's the gussetless version where you knit in a strand of waste yarn, then pull it out to reveal live stitches from which you work the thumb--very good when you don't want to interrupt a pattern stitch on the palm.
Then there thumbs with gussets. I prefer these because gussets allow wrists to be closer fitting and -- ahem, this is Canada after all -- warmer. There are gusseted thumbs worked at the side so that, depending on what else is going on, you can wear the mitt/glove on either hand. In fact, Elizabeth Zimmermann recommended knitting these in groups of three, not two, as invariably one mitt would go missing! This latter type has a drawback, however, which becomes more obvious in fingerless gloves. Without fingers to hold the patterned back of the hand in place, the pattern has a tendency to torque out of position. This is because of the anatomical fact that when we use our thumbs for typing, holding doorknobs, knitting, ...whatever..., the thumb is positioned more toward the palm.
So, after some test wearing of my fingerless gloves, Version 1 (with side thumbs), and frustration at having to twist them back into position every now and then,

See the right-leaning torque?
 I decided to move on to V2, with the thumb positioned 3 sts toward the palm.

Ahh, so much better!

And here you see them in three sizes, including a man's size (the pattern is unisex on purpose) in Quince's tweedy (and manly) "Owl Tweet" in Oak.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rideau Wrap: a Reboot

A year ago, I completed a design for a group of Eastern Ontario farmers. Until now, the pattern was available only in kit form in a beautiful custom-spun alpaca/wool blend. As of today, the pattern is available on Ravelry for free with two commercial yarn alternatives: Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter and Berocco's Ultra Alpaca Light. Kits are still available from Janice at Windblest Farm, should you wish to indulge in hand-dyed luxury.

From the pattern intro:

This very oversized, minimally-shaped, no-sew cardigan/wrap is designed to work on a wide range of body sizes and shapes. The stitch, Barbara Walker’s “Banded Insertion” pattern, has garter stitch ridges and stocking stitch valleys worked on two differently-sized needles, three sizes apart. The result is a light, airy, drapey fabric that works up fairly quickly.

The body is cast on provisionally at the centre back, then worked outwards until the sides are joined by 3-needle bind-off. The sleeve stitches are transferred to a small circular needle and worked out to the cuff, with the ridges gradually spaced at longer and longer intervals. Finally, the centre back is joined, and an I-cord border worked all the way around, with graceful scallops framing the neckline.

Click here to download a copy from Ravelry and enjoy some carefree summer knitting!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

You say Pom Pom, I say Pom Pon

Both are considered correct, but I learnt the latter, which is an earlier version and closer to the source French, so in this post, "pom pon" it is. Had a change of mind yesterday morning, and added a medium-sized pom pon to my handspun tam. I really like the mix of colours in this little adornment.

And here is a better view of the colour mix in some of the leftover roving.

So soft and hazy, like this very warm and muggy first day of summer here. I'd say the humidity is oppressive, except that I've lived in Washington, DC and by that standard, it's fresh.

A good day to be on the water,

but probably because there are storms predicted this afternoon, the waterfront (at least at the bottom of my street) was pretty much deserted.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Two Hundred Years

I realized, after reading the news yesterday, that this week marks 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo. Even as far away as we are from that event, in both time and distance, the impact of it is still felt. It turns out that Picton, the location in Prince Edward County of Rosehaven Yarns, a favourite yarn shop, is named after Sir Thomas Picton, Wellington's second-in-command at Waterloo. And, of course, the name "Wellington" is everywhere, including the street that adjoins my own, and the wonderful beach town not far from Picton itself. I had thought to call my new tam "Wellington", as I could easily imagine myself wandering along the beach there, and among the galleries and restaurants on a cool fall day wearing the object in question. Unfortunately, a quick perusal of Ravelry indicated that that name abounds. So, for now at least, I'm calling my tam "Picton". The handspun is super-soft and airy, having been spun "off the fold", and I'm opting
for no embellisment at the top, the better to show off the colour gradations,

unlike the version below, which has a small I-cord tab--

very classic and tailored, I think.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Edgewater Collection

It may be late spring/early summer, but I'm busy getting my new Edgewater Collection ready to come out next fall. This little pile of folded items is part (only part!) of it.

The plan is to bring the garments out individually, then once they are all published on Ravelry, to offer them in book format at a price less than the cost of the total. Many of the pieces are knitted in Quince and Co's line of basic wools, but some are done up in other yarns, including handspun. I've spent the last few days whiling the time away while our dining room floor is being re-done (with 19th-century pine) spinning up some of Malabrigo's Nube on my top-whorl spindle for a tam.

I know it seems idiotish (a word I love from Georgette Heyer's novels), but I absolutely adore working with my own handspun. I love the thick/thin quality of it, and the soft blend of colours. The knitting portion of this project takes only one day of on-again-off-again knitting--the perfect sort of piece for a last-minute gift. But, really, I don't think I could part with this particular hat. This one is for me!