Weaving in ends – sneaky techniques with EastLondonKnit

EastLondonKnit has returned to the blog to help the speedy people already finishing up their Naloa in the ongoing KAL. Thanks Renee, and well done speedsters! 😉

(It is still not too late to start your shawl as the KAL runs till October 4th and there are many exciting prizes available for those who take part.)

I love how this technique hides the straggling threads and makes the weaving in seamless. So sneaky and clever!

Take it away, Renee…

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Hello!

Naloa features gently undulating stripes of colours in the lace edging.  Each colour change begins on a right-side row, thereby making an end to be woven in once the shawl is complete. (So if you’ve just completed a RS row, slide the work to the other end of the needle, and begin the next row from the RS again!)

East_London_Knit_Naloa_d

There are many ways to weave in ends, but when working with lace, you have to be more careful to keep it tidy and invisible.

I used duplicate stitch in Naloa. It’s a handy technique for  solving many different problems.  Check out this primer.

EastLondonKnit Naloa technique 1

First, thread a sharp tapestry needle with the end, and following the end from whence it came, trace the row back through 4-6 stitches, splitting the yarn with the needle.

EastLondonKnit Naloa Technique

Although I wove in my ends before the shawl was blocked, many people prefer to do so afterward, to make sure they don’t tighten the edges of the shawl too much.

I can’t wait to see your beautifully finished Naloa Shawl!

Happy knitting!
Renee
Make sure to check out Renee’s other beautiful designs on Ravelry and find more  useful tutorials on her blog and follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

The difference a slipped stitch makes

I’d meant to do this post last week, but thought I had deleted the photos from my camera before uploading to the computer. But lo and behold, when I went to download photos from our trip to the seaside this weekend (more on that later), there they were!

So here, somewhat delayed, is something I meant to highlight visually for those of you out there that might not yet have encountered the wondrous Bias Bind Off!

My Relax was a pleasant, quick knit and all that stockinette moved along so effortlessly that I got to the bind off on the back of the neck in no time. I was blithely knitting away as per the pattern instructions and was almost finished, when I woke up out of my blissful knit coma and  realised how jarring the plain bind off was turning out. You can see the stepped effect below between the rows and the way some of the stitches are pulling out of shape between them.
Kettle_Yarn_Co_regularBindOff

This is when I had my ‘doh’ moment and remembered the amazing Bias Bind Off technique that I first tried out on my Audrey a few months ago. I’d like to say that I frogged back and redid the neckline…but I didn’t as it was the back of the neck and I am too damn lazy! However I did dig out the instructions for the Bias finish for the front and this is the difference below – a clean sloped edge that creates a smoother join when you are picking up for the neckline.
Kettle_Yarn_Co_BiasBindOff

If anyone hasn’t already tried this bind off, it is super simple and just requires a slipped stitch to be worked at the beginning of each ‘tier’. You can see the written instructions and a video on the technique at New Stitch a Day.

It is definitely a keeper for the technique file! You could use this stitch for a raw edge on a neckline and not have to add an edging it is so clean!
Kettle_Yarn_Co_BFLSilk_Relax1

When ribbing goes wrong

It was another somewhat frustrating knitting weekend.

Buttercup started so well. The top down construction was a breeze and, even though I am using thin fingering for this project, I had the entire body and most of the arms done within a couple of pleasurable knitting weeks. I was enjoying the silky BFL and loving the cool, iceberg-y colour I dyed for this project, the lace quick and fun…everything was going smoothly…then came the ribbing.

First time around on the hem I tried something new – a sideways garter rib. I got halfway around the bottom before admitting it looked like crap where the new rib section joined the body. Frog one. L zero.
Kettle_Yarn_Co_buttercup_ribbing1
I then decided I would do a twisted rib hem instead. Twisted rib. On 3mm needles. With a tubular cast off. Ahem.

I may have well just poked myself in the eyes with those needles, it was so painful. And, naturally, since it was so much work, the twisted rib looked horrible. I hadn’t twisted the purls so they looked looked all stringy and loose next to the twisted knit ribs. It just wouldn’t do. Frog 2. L zero.

Not able to let the idea of twisted rib go I frogged the cuffs (and made the sleeves longer), and then I dragged my feet and did everything I could to avoid having to painfully re-do the hem. I finally got back to it, this time twisting the purls AND bloody knits. Both alllllllllll the long way around. It looked better. It really, truly did.

After the previous tubular failure I decided a simple suspended bind off  on a much larger needle would be THE ONE. Only to find it was slightly too tight at the end. Frog 3. L zero.

At that point I figured I would use Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy bind off. That works on everything, right? First the cuffs, then all the way around the hem, just barely making it with the very, very last of the yarn, spit splicing bits together so I wouldn’t have to break into a new skein. Ouch.

So I thought I had it and rejoiced, dancing the dance of completion with vigour and sending thanks to those cruel knitting gods for letting me finish at long last…

Only to find those sadists weren’t quite done with me yet. Take a close look at the sleeve cuff on the left of the photo. See anything …odd?
Kettle_Yarn_Co_buttercup_v1
It looked ok  at first, a little curly on the edge after blocking but fine stretched out on the arm. However, after a day’s wear this is the monstrosity that presented itself:
Kettle_Yarn_Co_buttercup_ribbing
Stringy, stretched out and gape-y , with weird YOs show along the edge. I nearly retched every time I looked down at my arms. No, really. It was so upsetting. What a disappointment…but it got worse. By the time I got home this is what the hem was doing:
Kettle_Yarn_Co_buttercup_ribbing2
It had loosened up and gone all hideous loose and frumpy on the bottom edge.

So new Knitting Rule– and this is obviously news to me as I have only ever used twisted rib with very bouncy wools – twisting stitches make them rather un-elastic. Makes sense if you think about it. IF you think about it. ;-?

So instead of tightening my ribbing up by going through all the effort of twisting the purls as well as the knits what I actually did was make the ribbing even less elastic than before. And to make matters that much worse I also realised that when I frogged back on the arms I missed some decreases on one side so the left arm has a weird row of k2togs bumps all around the mid bicep. wtf? (Who was it that said my approach to knitting was somewhat ‘Rainman’??? Sigh. Yeah.)

Frog 4. L zero. This little frog is kicking my butt.

I am so grateful knitting Camomile is still such proving such a huge source of joy or I would be right despondent by now. There is definitely something to be said for having multiple projects on the needles after all! Back to silky soft goodness for a while.

Does anyone else struggle with casting off? Casting on and off with a clean/stretchy edge always seems to be an issue for me. I have sorted out the casting on with long tail cast ons, but have not found my go-to cast off yet, despite purchasing a book entirely on the topic!

What is your favourite or fall back cast off? I know one of you must have a good one! Share?

Mercury Madness

This is a post of warning and woe.

Don’t EVER use an old-school thermometer for dyeing yarn-or anything else, really. They look super cool, but are not worth the risk. I just had a bit of a scare…here’s the story.

I furiously knit up some mitts yesterday in what was left of my yellow organic merino, thinking I would dye them up when done.

 

They fit perfectly, and for my first attempt at full mitts, I was pretty chuffed.

I wove all the ends in and prepared them for dyeing this morning.

I popped them in a dye bath and waited for magic. And waited. And waited.

I couldn’t figure out why the dye wasn’t exhausting, so pulled out the thermometer to check, as I couldn’t read it for some strange reason.

The end had snapped off.

I nearly had a heart attack. Not only was there mercury floating about in my dye bath…but it was in my KITCHEN.

I grabbed the pot and ran it out the back door.

It turns out that anything that comes in contact with mercury has to be disposed of as hazardous waste, and as the dye bath which contained the mercury also contained my mittens…well. You know the rest.

Here is how far they got before calamity struck:

What a bummer. I was really liking the way the dye was taking more strongly in some places, but was going for a deeper purple.

Oh. And I also have to dispose of my dye pot, etc. to boot.

Sigh.

Onwards and upwards

On to the next project.

I started knitting Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark’s Girl Friday…on Friday! Then realised the lace would be too cold for the thick jumper I was after. (I want something even warmer than my Aidez. Our place is just too cold in the winter and has already started to feel sub-zero!). Also, after going through all the projects, I decided I don’t really like the clunky way it  seams up on the shoulders – looks a bit boxy and squarish….


…and on the back, where it creates a line straight across the back and as a  result drops the shoulder seam behind where it should be. The pattern just seems a little wonky.

So here we go again. I am modifying it and cobbling other elements in.


I am modelling the shape off this Toast jumper. Longer with long rib sleeves, a larger shawl collar and higher buttons. With cables. Of some sort. Somehow. Am sort of making it up as I go along (who was it that called my knitting approach ‘ a bit rainman’??! hah).

I love working with the sumptuous organic merino/silk aran blend I am using. It is thick, silky soft with a hint of coolness from the silk that gives it a slight sheen as well. So beautiful in the natural colour! I am a sucker for winter white, and this yarn is a pleasure to hold.

Can’t wait for this one to be done, so I can shroud myself in it and feel luxurious!

There  are my sleeves above with the start of my cables…knit two at a time in the round! What fun. It is so much easier than I feared. I am never doing two of one thing separately again!

Check out a great how to video  here! Learn the technique. You will love it.

Owls, Owls Always With the Owls – Part 2

So to continue on my Owls adventure…

Just to make it easy on myself, I decided to further modify the pattern by making it a cardigan and knit the button bands as I went in a seed stitch. That part was remarkably easy… Less easy was the decision to change the long sleeves to cap sleeves and add them into the yoke as I started the owl pattern.

Never having done this before, and not being able to find any tutorials on how to do this, I basically winged it. I cast on the number of stitches I decided I would need for the sleeve circumference…

…and then joined it to the other side by slipping the first stitch on the yoke over to my right needle and then crossing the last bound on stitch over it, inverting them to eliminate a gap.

This worked well (There is probably a better way to do this, but I couldn’t think of anything else!). Unfortunately after doing a few rows I decided the arms were too big (no…NO! They actually weren’t, I just doubted my calculations. Sigh.), so frogged and redid the whole process, dropping 8 stitches on each side. There, I thought, that should do it. Um, no.

Then it really went to hell when I started the owls. It wasn’t that I hadn’t done cables before – that part was fun, and so easy after all my worries!

The problem seems to be that I can’t count.

And forgot to add extra stitches before the button band at the end of the owls to match the ones at the start of the pattern. Eeesh. But I didn’t notice this until I had made a host of other mistakes and frogged back…and back …and back.

All told, I restarted those owls a good 5 times. The last time after I had gotten as far as the eyes (knitting when you are exhausted is NEVER a good idea!).

All of the owls above were frogged. The pain. After all the rejigging I settled on 2 stitches between the first owl and the band, which looks much better.

You can imagine my panic/horror when I tried it on after starting the yoke decreases and realised the arm holes were too tight as the yoke pulled up.

Imagine it now…the sinking feeling in your stomach, tightness in your chest. Desperate thoughts of ‘maybe it will stretch enough with blocking’…

Not in cotton/linen it damn well won’t.

So I got a bit inventive. There is nothing quite like desperation for improvisation.

I figured I hadn’t much to lose so what I would do is…gulp…use scissors.

I carefully put in a life line a number of stitches down from the ones that were being held in the underarm:

Then I unravelled:

Then the scary part. I snipped:

After weaving the gazillion ends in the  armholes were treated as normal, with stitches picked up and sleeves knit down.

I am shocked to say this worked amazingly well! I was worried everything would unravel as I picked up stitches, but made sure I wove the ends in and back so they couldn’t pull free, and it did the job.

Now I know this is sloppy practice and do not recommend doing it as a matter of course, but if you are ever about to hang yourself with your own yarn and feel you have nothing to lose, give it a try.

Much like steeking, it is radical, but works!

I ended up putting in grosgrain bands to stablise the hooks I put in and minimize the bulging below:

And here she is in all her glory:

I only sewed in 2 eyes, as I find the one owl peeking out from the pattern a little less cutesy.

I still haven’t figured out how not to look like a complete dork in the ‘finish’ shots.


But am working on it!

Studying Stripes

I am still catching up on posting some projects, so here is my very first shawl.

‘Shawl??’ you say?

Yes. I know I have been pretty vocal off blog about how gnomey I find the concept of most shawls…but think I finally understand why people like them so much. It is not so much the way they look (which I usually find over the top old fashioned and girly), but the way they FEEL!

I knit this Stripe Study Shawl in a light, fluffy doubled laceweight cashmere/merino and a sleek, heavy dk silk. The wool adds warmth and luxurious squish, while the silk adds amazing drape and a bit of subtle shimmer.

It is, thus far, the most amazing feeling thing I have made. Like a luxuriously light, but warming hug in a chilly office!

It is asymmetrical, so a little edgy (for a shawl).

Another learning curve with tons of short rows and interesting shaping. It is worked from the flat side out to the point, and I obviously went wrong somewhere, as it isn’t flat at the top! Think it might have been a matter of tension.

Also,  a little annoyingly for the newbies out there, the pattern doesn’t mention that you should knit through the wraps to hide them, so I had no idea what would happen until I was done and got these holes:


Another knitting rule there – ALWAYS knit both the wrap and stitch on the next row to hide the wrap.

But…have I mentioned how GLORIOUS it feels? Yum.

Capped Coolness

Not that long ago, I finished my third knit clothing project – the super cute Cap Sleeve Lattice Top by Purl Soho.

A fairly quick knit, or would have been if I hadn’t made a few enormous time-guzzling blunders along the way!

As is the nature with mistakes, I learned some important beginner’s lessons along the way.

For this project I substituted cotton blend yarns frogged from thrift store sweaters, therefore had to do a little jigging around with gauge, but nothing huge. Since I am still a very inexperienced knitter I got the ribbing wrong first time around – it was too tight many,many annoying, clingy, splitty days in (the grey cotton blend I used was HIDEOUS).

Instead of hanging myself with my yarn, I decided to frog from the bottom up, not knowing this is a no-go area in knitting.

After about an hour’s cursing while trying to unpick the ribbing hem, I learned my next knitting rule:

You can’t frog ribbing from the bottom up.

After some desperate googling I found a mention on a blog of how someone had cut into the work from above the ribbing and unravelled down. No picture, but having nothing to lose at this point, I gave it a go. (also, bringing out sharp scissors seemed like the right thing to do at this point. It was important to hold myself back…)

Seriously bricking it, I sliced through a stitch and made a big hole, unravelling and carefully picking up stitches as I went. (Is it just me, or does knitting involve a lot of stomach-clenchingly anxious moments? I hope it is just because I am a novice.)

I seriously questioned whether those two inches were worth all this trouble, but when I considered how many weeks it had taken me to get this far, I persevered. I figured, if nothing else, this was another ‘learning experience’!

The images below show the discarded ribbing on the left – I couldn’t bear to waste any more time reclaiming that yarn – and the pristine rescued, double sided experiment on the right.

I ended up reknitting the rib in the same needle as the body and that worked out fine, though I did change it to a criss-cross-y twisted rib to mirror the lattice at the top:

Never one to leave well enough alone, I also decided to give the top an aqua stripe before the lattice for a bit of zing…especially as I was not feeling that hideous grey cotton! I do wish it was a bit more of a saturated turquoise, like the mock up I did, but it is fine.


It turned out fairly well, despite a host of other mistakes I can’t bear to catalogue. Though I can’t say I enjoyed my first project in cotton (not counting the checkerboard scarf I made when I was 10!).

I really missed the spring and elasticity of wool throughout this knit. Cotton is so unyielding that it really takes a toll on the hands.

(Unfortunately have picked a cotton/linen blend for my next cardigan as well!)

Oh well. I do appreciate how cool and airy it is, even though the unyielding cotton makes my hands ache! Even though the fabric is quite thick, it is cool enough to wear on a mild summer day. Perfect for my warm little carcass!

I have to say, I am looking forward to the autumn knitting though!

Miette

Over the last few months I have learned something about myself – hitherto somewhat unknown – I have a thing for cardigans!

I love them. I mean REALLY REALLY love them.

I have always tended to purchase cardis over pullovers as I tend to run a bit hot, and pullovers always make me overheat. I also don’t care for the whole ‘pulling over the head’ bit, which seems a bit fussy! (how lazy am I?).

My first big ramp up in pattern difficulty was Miette, a sweet little cardi by Andi Satterlund, pictured below.

With a simple lace border detail,

I thought it would be a good project, after completing my first lace  scarf (good fun!)…another level up in difficulty.

It was a good choice. Challenging, so I learned plenty of new techniques, but not too hard for a beginner that I couldn’t finish it. It wasn’t a breeze, but with a bit of concentration in certain parts, it was fine.

I also had hug amounts of help with Jo and Gail’s transglobal KAL (Knit Along for the uninitiated!). Thanks again, ladies!

How nice to be able to follow along with someone else doing the same pattern! I will definitely be seeking more  knit alongs in future. A great way to learn with support.

Before starting I did a lot of research and decided a few modifications were needed – of course! – which made it a bit more challenging.

First off, I used thinner yarn (Madelinetosh DK in Celadon) so had to recalculate a few things. Luckily one of the other sizes was a pretty good match for my gauge and that made it much easier.

I also decided, from reading other people’s comments on Ravelry, that I didn’t want the bust shaping as I tend to wear my cardigans open a lot of the time and didn’t want the boob cups poking out the sides (not that I would have much bulging cuppage to deal with, but one can dream).

I moved the decreases to the sides and it worked remarkably well.

The second mod was to change the twisted rib to regular rib. As the cardi is knit top down I got midway through the ribbing and decided it contrasted too much in the crunchy superwash merino I was using.

Here is before:

I just didn’t feel the crossed rib complimented the lace so went back to a regular 2 by 2 rib and took off the purl row before the start of the band.

After:

This way the ribs flowed right up into the pattern and seemed more cohesive in this yarn.

I spent many ages getting the sleeves right, redoing one nearly all the way once, and finally, near the end, decided to reinforce the button band as it was just too floppy for my taste.

This took a bit of fussing, as I had never done button holes before on the sewing machine. Now I know why you need the special ‘button foot’ attachment. Heh. Oops.

So they  look a bit ghetto, but the ribbon makes such a huge difference to the structured ‘polish’  of the finished result, I think it was worth the aggravation…and the yucky stitching is on the inside, thankfully!

I had some troubles getting the right buttons as well. The ones I initially put on, shown below pre-button band, looked fine…but a bit …meh. they just didn’t add anything special and looked a bit dull.


It took me ages, but I finally found the right buttons on a trip to France at a shop called La Droguerie! (Beautiful buttons if you ever run across one in France. Lots of handmade wooden and shell. They are a chain so look for them in major cities.)

I wanted something that echoed the zig zag eyelet pattern, and these little beauties have just the right amount of spiky-ness and the colour adds a little bit of unexpected zing. Also, the colour combo of turquoise and rusty red makes me think of Tibetan jewellery (hence her name).

So here she is, cardi no. 2 – aka Quxu!

A mere 2 months to completion! Hah! Oh well, I am very pleased with the fit.

Thanks to Andi for sharing this pattern for free…it is really well written and a beauty of a design!

My Dearest Miriam,

My first scary, complex-shaped and most satisfying project was a cardigan called Miriam, by Carrie Bostick Hoge, whose simple, non-fussy designs I just adore:

This cardi was actually the reason I decided I needed to learn to knit properly. I saw it and just NEEDED it.

You know how it is.

At the time that I didn’t feel confident enough to spend £40+ on the Madelinetosh DK , my first yarn love affair, for the project, as I wasn’t sure I would be successful with it,  so ordered some sale skeins of Blue Leicester by British Breeds.

I had read good things about Blue Leicester and figured it would be soft and not scratchy – as if all Blue Leicester would be the same! Duh.

Beginners lesson number 1 – I now understand that I must fondle EVERY yarn before using it. AND rub it across my neck.

It is a little embarrassing in yarn shops, but if they want me to spend that kind of money on string, they are going to have to suck it up.

So. Scritchy wool that didn’t feel great to knit with for over a month. Not a fantastic start.

strident addendum to Beginners lesson number 1 – spend the money on yummy yarn if you are going to spend that much time working with it. There is nothing worse than spending a month on something and then disliking the yarn you knit it in!

Here she is  with stitches being picked up and my first, abysmal, unintentionally asymmetrical attempt at blocking!

Beginners lesson number 2 – when picking up stitches knit through the BACK of the stitch on the first row. This twists the stitch and avoids nasty loose-looking joins, as in photo below:

I ended up fudging a smooth join by going back and stitching the whole collar tighter by hand! It now looks passable.

During the stitching up, I learned first hand why everyone hates this part of projects so much – and have since decided to knit everything else I possible can in the round!

Like these sleeeves. Why, Carrie? Why. (I am sure there must be a logical reason, but have not yet tried it, so can’t figure it out!)

In the end, it was a great learning project – simple but with enough easy challenges to get me to the next level.

I highly recommend it as a beginner’s cardi.

Here is the final product:

Ta dah! So proud. Even if it itches a bit on the back of my neck and I get random pokies sticking into me every time I wear it .

;-?

Oh. And to make matters worse …it pills.

That said, after the initial dismay at the pilling I bought a sweater shaver and gave it a good going over and it is gradually losing it’s pill-y-ness. The stitch definition is still pretty crisp and sharp.

As yarns go, it isn’t as bad as I initially thought, and as I get to know yarns better, realise it is just a matter of usage. I think this yarn is better suited to gloves, like my Knubby Moss Wristwarmers, or socks. Things that don’t sit on the neck or right next to the skin.

Unless you are one of those lucky people who can wear Brillo pads next to your skin and not be bothered!

Damn you.