Would Elizabeth Zimmermann be proud of me?
I’ve completed my buttonhole research for Level Two of the Master Hand Knitting Program and my brain is on buttonhole overload right now. Something tells me Elizabeth would be sighing, shaking her head and telling me just to chill out about my ‘pigseyes’ but I don’t think the TKGA Committee would have the same reaction. Instead, I suspect I will have to resubmit some of these swatches but, nonetheless, I am still thankful for this buttonhole journey. I will feel a little more confident the next time I encounter a buttonhole. I won’t be knitting ‘pigseyes’ anymore!
There are many different buttonhole designs and believe me, I experimented with just about all of them. Some of them looked a whole lot better in one fabric than another so I can see that this is an essential skill to have.
I have knit my horizontal, vertical and eyelet buttonholes in single rib, double rib and seed stitch. I have figured out how to space buttonholes on a band given a certain number of stitches – not only horizontally but also with a 1″ of knitting above and below each buttonhole – whew….took forever.
The final swatches are on the blocking mat as I type and tonight I will weave in the tails. Tomorrow will be their photoshoot for we are now to keep a photo record of everything we submit to the TKGA Committee.
I’m in Denver this week because I am grandma to my daughter’s golden retriever. While I am sweltering down here in the Mile High City she is up in the cool mountains at a nurses retreat. It is hot today and there is no air-conditioning so the pooches are pretty lethargic which makes for good research time.
This afternoon I will be writing my second book report, four required, on Deborah Newton’s Finishing School – A Master Class for Knitters. This book has proven to be a valuable resource for all the seaming swatches I had to do. I’m hoping it will live up to its reputation when I research the next swatch, picking up stitches.
I’m used to picking up stitches along gusset edges on socks but Swatch 18 will be simulating a scooped neckline. It will test my ability to select appropriate decreases for a neckline, accurately pick up stitches along bound-off selvedge edges and calculate an accurate ratio for picking up stitches along a selvedge edge.
Hmmmm…..Maybe I want to take a nap on the couch instead. I’m staying hydrated!
That just about sums it up, buttonholes have boiled up around here recently and I have no more excuses putting off their research for the TKGA Master Knitting Program. My assignment is to knit them ‘unobstrusively’ in single rib, double rib and seed stitch. I’m to knit one vertical, one horizontal and one of my own choice.
Reading along with Ginny’s peeps on a Yarn Along? Well, still no fiction here for me, just many knitting reference books; however,I will share a favorite out of that stack. This little book is just perfect for tucking inside a knitting bag whilst traveling, The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe. It is filled with solutions to every problem you will face, has answers to every question you might ask and has hundreds of clear illustrations.
As far as finished knitting goes, the Dublin Monkey Socks have been blocked and worn already. I’m calling them my ‘Dublin’ Monkeys because I used souvenir yarn from a shop in Dublin called This is Knit. Every time I wear these I will think of that fabulous shop, the conversations I had with its employees and the marvelous day I had exploring Dublin.
The Monkey Sock pattern was popular on Knitty.com many years ago and spurred me on to host several international sock swaps which proved to be wildly successful – long before the days of Ravelry. I assigned a ‘monkey pal’ to each participant for whom they: knit a pair of Monkey Socks , sent a Cookie A. sock pattern and three ‘monkey’ gifts. It was great fun for a great sock design by Cookie A.
Currently on my needles is a Chrissy Gardiner sock design from Sock Knitting Master Class called Slip-n-Slide. Ms. Gardiner likes to use unusual stitch patterns and that showcase the yarn in unique ways. I’m using a shockingly pink solid yarn for this pattern so the slipped motifs will stand out more than on a variegated yarn.
What about you? Have you read anything fun recently that might be a little more relaxing than researching buttonholes?
I have a cardigan crush. When I was watching Endeavor on PBS this week I stopped the program, rewound a frame or two, grabbed my camera and snapped a picture of a lovely cardigan on one of the characters. Instantly, I had a ‘cardigan crush’ and enough so, that I would actually take a picture. Now, will I endeavor (sorry, couldn’t resist) to copy this sweater into a design? Well, maybe. I think there just might be Elizabeth’s Percentage System (EPS) around here somewhere to calculate stitches for a yoke cardigan and I happen to have several books that might have that exact fair isle motif or something similar…. and Shetland yarn? yep…have some of that, too.
Cardigans, notably, open in the front and usually close with buttons. You can’t really see by this picture but the button band on this one is in moss stitch and I like that, I also like the taupe colored shell buttons. I also like how this one is worn with just the top two buttons being fastened. A fashion classic, cardigans can be knit in any number of silhouettes and this crewneck version looks comfortably loose. Another element drawing me to this particular design is the long ribbed cuff. I’m going to have watch the show again to see if the ribbing is equally as long. And last of all are the colors – a nice neutral palette – teal and brownish gold. Like I said, I have a cardigan crush.
In years past the main reason I would not knit cardigans because I did not know how to properly care for them. I had heard too many stories of beautiful hand knit sweaters being accidentally felted. Recently I read about caring for hand knits and thought I would pass along that information to you in case you have had similar concerns.
Did you know that all the information you need is on the ball band label of the yarn you use? Yep. Instructions for caring for your yarn, including the preferred cleaning method is recommended right there on the ball band. If you want to maximize the lifetime of your garment then just follow these recommendations. In fact, it is really best if you knit a gauge swatch before you even start and wash it or clean it according to the ball band.
To make things consistent across the industry, there are international care symbols used on yarn labels. That makes it a little easier for us. So, follow the advice on the ball band but also keep in mind that each time you wash a hand knit sweater it will need to be blocked again to the pattern’s schematics.
Probably Not. I would venture to guess that the bar increase is the most popular increase because it is easiest to perform. But is it the right increase? Well….that depends on the project you are working on. Designers often tell you to increase a stitch but they don’t always tell you how to perform that increase. That is why it is important to arm yourself with a little bit knowledges about all the types of increases available to you the knitter.
The Bar Increase is worked into both the front and back of the same stitch and is considered a closed neutral increase. It produces a horizontal “bar” at its base and to the left of the stitch you are knitting into which is how it derives its name. This little bump, or bar, is also why you will need to know not only when to use it but also where to place it.
The beauty of the bar increase is that it is almost invisible compared to other increases. This is the perfect increase to use when increasing above ribbing. A pattern will generally instruct you to increase ‘x’ amount of stitches after the increasing and have them ‘evenly spaced’. The number of stitches do not need to be exact between these increases but it is important to not place them in the first and last stitches in the row. There are a number of formulas that knitters use to calculate the spacing of the increases but all need to take into account where that little ‘bar’ is going to fall, you want it to be unobtrusive. Armed with the knowledge that the bar falls to the left of the stitch you are knitting into will help you make the necessary adjustments.
You can manipulate where the bar falls by determining which side of the fabric you work it on. For instance, if you want to use this type of increase at the beginning and end of several rows (i.e. shaping a sleeve), you might stagger the rows by working the knit into the front and back on the right side and then, on the next row, purl into the front and back of the same stitch on the wrong-side of the fabric. You will, of course, want to knit a couple stitches before working the increase.
In a pattern, the bar increase will be abbreviated: “k1fb”, “k1f&b”, or “kfb”. There you have it! I hope this little bit of information helps you the next time you knit a bar increase.
Stand forewarned, best-selling designers can be dangerous because they are simply inspirational, totally. Ann Budd is a designer who has inspired me in more ways than one. Not only is she known for her sock designs but she has also been designated a master knitter by the Knitting Guild Association which speaks very highly in my opinion. (Many of you know that I’m in that program myself and can tell you first hand that it is pretty rigorous.) So, I am not surprised that Ms. Budd has a build-on-the-basics approach to pattern writing.
Well-known are her ‘formula’ type reference books that seemed to be written to bring out the inner designer in her readers. My favorite is called, The Knitters Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges‘ and is, in my opinion, one of her most brilliant books. All you need to know is your gauge and if you know that, you can knit a wide variety of basic patterns using any yarn you want with whatever needles you prefer. I’ve used the sock and hat patterns in the book to do just that. Soon, I will use this book to knit hubby a vest by just plugging numbers into the formulas in the book.
I once knit a pair of socks crossing the Atlantic using the basic sock pattern in the Handy Book of Patterns….. a simple project that was pretty mindless and that I was able to take with me everywhere.
My second favorite Ann Budd book is called Sock Knitting Master Class. In this book she has put together the unparalleled signature elements and techniques of 15 top sock designers into a resource that I think of as a type of ‘master’ class. I’ve learned a few new techniques from the three designs I have knit thus far: Almondine (Anne Hanson), Asymmetrical Cables (Cookie A.) and Pussy Willows (Cat Bordhi). I will continue forging through this excellent resource and know I will be all the better for it.