Tuesday, May 29, 2007

100th post? Could it be? It is!

Last week, the Tsarina of Tsocks made a post about her 100th post, and it made me stop and think--and check now many post I have made. Normally, I am not very good at marking milestones of this sort.

96 or so at that point, and this now is the 100th.
I don't think I would have noticed except for her post acting as a reminder. It's taken me longer to get to 100 post then it did her.. but then I don't think of this as race.
I am happy in general with my blog. It suits my needs. I can brag, Ican share, I can teach.

I like getting comments, but I don't feel sad when post doesn't have even a single one. I am happy in general that any one read my blog at all!
(and I can only guess that visitors who spend 10 or more minutes, and visit 3 or more pages are reading, and not just clicking on my blog and walking away from the computer!) I am thrilled that readers subscribe, that other blogger's have linked to my blog. Thank you all!

(One of my childhood dreams was to be a writer.. it's nice to have it come true, even if just in a small way!--and I hope to make it come true in a bigger way!)

Earlier this month, I had a birthday. (Once again, I celebrated my 47th birthday!) I celebrated on the day with friends, and later in the week, again with more friends.
Here's some of the nicer presents..
Books –(I love getting books as presents)

One from my Son and DIL , one, a present to myself-(thank you Karen Sharp for the loan of your B&N discount card! (a bonus present that made my $25 gift card go further!)
An other new book, and an older one (but new to me) from my daughter.
A swift! (could you believe it? All these years knitting, and I've never owned a swift till now!)
I already have a winder, so now a set!

Yarn: Not just any yarn, but lace weight cashmere! (there are special blessing in having a DIL who also knits!)

Thank you Family, (Son/DIL, and DD) thank you friends, (Jill and Lisa and others)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Edges and Borders

All the panes of 'glass' have been sewn into place.
Yesterday morning found me with all the full panes in place and 2 corner pieces, sewn, (the rest just pinned) This morning, all the pieces are sewn in place.

Next up is the edges, borders and since this is a pillow top, the back and zipper.

But I have plans for the weekend (doesn't every one? –well, make that everyone in US!) so don't expect to see much progress this weekend.

For a coverlet, the borders can be simple bound over with bias tape, or you can even leave the points of the edge square un-sewn, and create a serrated edge.
For a throw pillow top, the best choice it to add border,1 to 2 inches or so, and to use half of it as a seam allowances for sewing on the back Aside from the raw edges of the 'glass' the edges are finished, so the seam allowances will be uneven. The added border will have a ½ inch or so seam allowance, the patchwork will have a scant 1/8 inch or so.
This same process can be used for the coverlet, if desired.
There is an advantage to finishing a coverlet this way.
When a border and backing is added, a buttoned/zippered or snap closure can be added. Then the finished coverlet can be a light weight summer top/blanket and in the winter, a duvet for a warm comforter. Making pillow shams to match is another option.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Piecing the Cathedral Window together.

Slowly, but surely, the panes of glass get sewn in place.
First 4, then 8,
then 12,
and today I go to work on the last 4 full sized panes.
There will still be half and quarter panes to sew in after that, before I can sew on a border and then a backing...
With each pane sewn in place the patchwork becomes prettier and prettier. There is a pattern, to the patches, but it is a subtle one, with single direction symmetry .
The panes are colors in my living room—the walls are grey, the adjoining (and visible) rooms are bright Yellow and Purple. There are patches of bright blue, (painted furniture) highlights of orange, (artwork mostly) but also other throw pillows.

My furniture is an eclectic mixture of woods--dark walnut, pecan, oak, birch and pine! Which is quite a mixture, but I think all natural wood tones go well together. The largest piece of furniture is the sofa, a large L shaped one, which is beige—another neutral. With a huge expanse of grey walls, and large sofa in beige, I can afford to have throw pillows and other accessories that have lots of color without overwhelming the room.

Next, Edges and Borders

Monday, May 21, 2007

No Photo's –but felting...

I am not a big fan of felting. I just don't get it. I don't particularly like knitting with big needles. I am not a “bag” person (i have a 10 year old bag i am quite happy with and maybe 2 or 3 other (fancy bags) but not a collection.. I cringe at spending $100 and upwards for yarn, just to felt it onto a tote bag.

That said, I have to tell you about a felting method I learned about yesterday (I didn't have my camera, and I wish I had more links.) Christina, (link to her blog below) was at a spring festival in a NYC park yesterday demonstrating a method of felt making I was totally unfamiliar with.. (but my DIL knew the method, so maybe I am just the last person on earth to learn about it)
the process.
1-Start with an open weave, light weight fabric (cheese cloth, tulle, silk gauze). This is the BASE.
2--Layer on top of the BASE, thin, neat, layers of wool (or mohair,or alpaca, etc) roving. Overlap the layers of roving, but don't make the layer too thick (layers can be built up, but each layer should be thin to start)
This can be dyed roving, or white, it can be laid out in one color, or several, in a pattern, or plain.
3--Dampen with a soapy water solution (she used a spray bottle)Just a lite mist. (More can always be added if needed, but you don't need a lot of moisture.)
4--Cover with a tightly woven press cloth (a cotton sateen, or polished cotton would be good). The super smooth (right side) of cloth gets placed on wool roving (wrong side faces up)
5--Take an electic orbital sander, (with out any sand paper !) and place on top of the cotton.
6-- Leave the sander in place for 5 to 10 seconds, lift and reposition, until you have covered the entire area.
7-- Gently peel the cotton off the wool, which has already started to felt.(here is where a smooth cotton matters—the tightly woven smooth cotton will be less likely to felt to the wool.)
8-- Reposition the sander right on top of the wool, and felt some more.
9 --Build up layers, -of color, of dots, of designs.
With each layer, go back to step 3 and work each layer of detail, or design element the same way.
10-- When design is complete, machine wash or hand wash to further felt (the finished fabric will 'shrink' about 20 to 25%, and get thicker, and denser. don't make your layers too thick to start or the resulting fabric will be thick and hard to work)
Shape, while wet, or dry flat, then cut and sew into finished garment or object.
Christina made her wedding dress this way..
I wish she had more photo's, but do check out this blog entry. (scroll down to September 4th) to see an image of her wedding dress!
And then raid the tool box for the electic sander and get felting!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Adding the Glass to the Window

All that grey! How dreary this project must seem to some (grey is my favorite neutral color and has been for years. The first coat I ever bought myself was grey and my stash has lots of grey yarn, and I've knit lots of grey hats.. (even baby hats!) out of grey.)
Well on to the project.
The hand work begins. From this point on, all sewing is hand sewing.

Step 5 Finishing the Squares.
Start by finishing the squares. Depending on the care you took when you pressed the seams, and how skillful you were in turning the squares right side out, and repressing, the un-sewn sections of the seams in the center of the square will be neat or not so neat. Now is the time to use the point of the needle line them up, and whip stitch them shut. A nice neat closed seam is what is wanted.
Don't break the thread when you've finished, but use the same thread to join all four points together, and to sew them to the center X of the seams.

There are some design choices here:
2 or 3 strands of embroider floss can be used as thread, and make the stitches obvious and decorative or fine sewing thread and almost invisible stitches can be used.

The connecting stitches can go through all the layers, (and be visible on the back side of the work), or the reverse side of the top can be plain.

You can use French Knots to hold down the point, or cross stitches, or any stitch you want. They must be small and and the very tip of the corner point, (or they will be hidden in the next step) or not.
The stitches can be visible and decorative, or invisible. I think fancy stitch work is a distraction, and like to keep my hand stitch work small and unobtrusive.

Step 6 Adding the “Panes of Glass”
If the finished product is a coverlet or other large project, it is easier to start adding 'panes of glass' before all the squares have been joined together. One process is to start at center and work your way out making up a design as you go, but with a well thought out and planned project could start at a corner and proceed adding rows and columns. Either way, it is much easier to sew the 'panes of glass at the edge, rather than to have the full weight of the project in your lap (and in your way!)

Again it's a design choice-- With a good deal depending on the desired finished effect. The panes of glass can be formed into orderly designs, or just be randomly placed colors or somewhere inbetween!

Needless to say, a planned design, requires planning! With just 16 squares to work with, I will have a 24 full panes and several partial ones, I can easily plan as I go! I know the colors I want to use, and a pillow is too small do make much of a design anyway.

The Panes of glass are small squares (each about 2 to 2 ¼ inches) that are pinned, then hand sewn in place, invisibly,(or nearly invisible!)
Each pane of glass covers a seam, and the borders are made for 2 different squares.

As each is sewn in, the bias edged of the squares gently folded and stretched to make a frame around the pane of glass. Here are the first 4 sewn in.

Here more have been added, (and the pane on the lower edge only has one side of 4 sewn in place)

In the last image, you can begin to see the double design that emerges. Each pane off glass will be framed in an interlocking circular frame of material. This is most evident on the center yellow panes.

And so, slowly, the the cathedral window becomes evident. I like marblized and small subtle prints, but figures, or animals or flowers would work wonderfully too. As would a mix of different types of plain or printed fabric.
From here, for a while, there is nothing but hand sewing in the colored fabric that represents the panes of glass.

Tomorrow, More progress on adding Panes of Glass (and maybe even another post on sewing in the panes of glass!)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Getting some things squares away

I learned to knit age 8 or so, and had mastered the basis age 9. But long before I learned to knit, I was sewing--or at least, attempting to sew. I didn't master the basics of construction till I was a teen!

But as a preschooler, I was interested in sewing--and, once, took hold of scissors and cut up my bed sheets to make doll clothes! My mother wasn't happy about that! I also have spent years embroidering; simple embroider, crewel embroider, cross stitch embroider, beaded embroidery, needlepoint. I did (and still at times do!) them all.

I have made clothes, for myself, my children, my husband (of the time). I have made curtain, and roman shades, and even slip covers. I have made quilts—mostly American style pieced, “patch work” style quilts-both tops, (round the world, streaks of lightning, log cabin and others) and I've quilted tops other made –30 to 50 year old tops pieced and sew by others. I still have one comforted that has been quilted, but is waiting (some 10 years now!) for the edges to be bound! But UFO's have never stopped me from taking on a new project.

Stained Glass/Cathedral Window Patch Work
Technically this is not quilting. Quilting is a process that involves sewing together a 'sandwich' made up of backing, filling and top. In many styles of quilting, the top is pieced (or as its it commonly said, patched/patchwork)
This pieced and patch 'top' has several layers of fabric, but at no point is it quilted. Instead, it makes a 'top'-- a lightweight, unquilted top or cover for a bed. The back side is “finished” with no exposed edges. I like this patchwork for throw pillows.--for me, there is just too much hand work to contemplate a full sized coverlet!

Step 1-- The Background Squares.
You'll need lots! And they should be large, since they will be folded and sewn, and folded and sewn again! The finished square will be about ½ the size of the starting square.
I started 11 inch squares. 45 inch wide fabric, trimmed of selvages, is 44 inches. Cut into squares, (with no waste) will yield 4 (four) 11 inch squares. Every 45 inches of lengh, (every 1 1/4 yards) will give you 16 squares. If you fabric is wider, or narrower, you could make larger smaller squares. An 11 square to start ends up as 5 inch square, more or less, depending on your seam allowances. Mine actually are 5 1/8 inches-on average.

You might want to experiment, and work out the number of squares you'll need to make coverlet, but 1.25 yards (45 inch square) will give you 16 squares, which will become a 20 to 21 inch pillow top... (another ¾ of yard of fabric will be useful for the pillow backing. So 2 yards of back ground fabric is required for this project--the "Panes of glass" (brightly colored fabric) requirements are small-- a single 'fat quarter' is enough fabric, but several fat quaters, in differnt colors make for a more intereting design.
A coverlet could be backed with a different fabric--if you chose to back it at all. It is also useful (necessary) to have some co-ordinating fabric for a border if you are planning to add a backing. The border fabric can be plain or printed.

Traditionally, the square have been made with unbleached muslin, but any solid (or near solid) will work. I chose grey, as shade that is a bit darker than my walls, (and bit flatter in tone too,) but any color will work.

Traditionally, this sort of patch work is all hand sewn, but I find it easier to do the preliminary work with a machine, (there is plenty of finishing that can only be done by hand!)

Step 2 The First Seam
Fold the square in half, and sew a side seam. As with all patchwork, a ¼ inch seam is normal.
At the folded edge, sew and re-enforce. At the cut edge, stop sewing ½ from edge.

Step 3 The Second Seam
Fold the square again, Matching seam to seam, and sew the second edge to the same way.
Re-enforce the seam at the fold, and end the seam ½ away from edge.(the 'center')
The square will look puffy, as you sew it, but after, with the two seams smoothed and flattend, the result is a smaller square, with the 2 seams forming a X --Finger press or iron only the seams!
Then, working from center, turn the square inside out. (using the small opening in the center of the X). This seems like an impossible task at times, but start with one corner and ease the fabric through, and it will come. A narrow rounded tip tool will help 'turn the corners' into sharp points. (I use a round tip knitting needle!)
Press flat.--this is a bit of a challenge-- the folds and seams will have created a smaller square, but this square is a biased one. All four out edges are on the bias. --This is important later, when you start adding the colored “panes of glass"
Repeat with all the squares –or at least a good number!

Step 4 The Second Fold
With the seam side facing up, fold all four point to the center (don't worry about the small hole, it will be sewn later with all the other hand work)

Remember those “fortune tellers” you used to make in school? At this point, this project reminds me of them.
Press the square with all the corners folded in. By now, my 11 inch square was about 5 1/8 inches in size. (If you started with a larger square will be larger than 5 inches. If you started with squares that were smaller to start, will be smaller.)

Step 5 Joining the Squares Together.
Traditionally, the squares of the this patch work, were sewn together by whip stitching.
The seams--how ever they are sewn--will not show on top, but will show on reverse side.
I use a narrow zig zag stitch-- if you're making a top or coverlet, (and not throw pillow) the seams will show--if the top is not backed.
If you have a sewing machine that has fancy zigzag stitches, here is an opportunity to use them! Use a fancy stitch (and perhaps even a contrasting color thread) to make the seams a decorative element.

Join all the square together if your making a pillow. If you are making a bigger project you might not want to join all of them together just yet. It's easer to complete (some of) the next steps before sewing the whole top together.

Tomorrow.. Finishing the squares and adding the 'stained glass panes' patchwork pieces.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Endless Obsesses Knitting--tally: 18 Double Knit Potholders

After a solid month of knitting nothing but cotton, I am beginning to tire.
Is it any wonder? I tallied up my count..
2 bath mats, 4 washcloths, and 18 potholders!

3 went to my friend Jill, and 1 to my friend, Robert.

2 to my Daughter in law, and 2 are being held for a swap with Susan --She'll get her pick of these red, white and black ones.
(The two bottoms ones in the photo are the newest, of this group, the one on the left still was on the needle when I took the Photo.)

2 to my daughter, one to match her kitchen now (but it also matches colors in her dining room)-- the chocolate brown and golden orange and yellow tones-- and one to match the kitchen she is planning (one of these days her 1970's kitchen will be upgraded to a more modern look (and the avocado green and harvest gold wall paper will give way to crisp white walls and appliances , with some chalk board black and bits of red to liven the mix.) In the meanwhile this potholder will match her dining room--and won't be out of place in her kitchen either.

2 are off to Chia—she's off to a new start, and well, these will be a bit of housewarming gift.

3 are for me--my old potholders are fine, just faded--I love all of the red, black and white ones--(and can always make another if I want!)I'll keep what ever is left after Susan and DD take their pick.

That still leaves me with 3 with out a home--for now.
I've taken a bit of break from knitting.. Not a big one, just one long enough to make a throw pillow--one I promised to make for myself some 20 something years ago.

I made my first Stained Glass Window pieced patchwork for a wedding present for a cousin.(and haven't made another since!) Its time already!
More details on that soon.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Scandinavian 2 yarn, Single Color Double Knitting.

Which is the winning combination?

The finished 9 Patch from earlier this week.

Or this lightly interlocked diamond?
My favorite is the diamond, but look again at the tic tac toe potholder-- who won? X's or O's?

The last type of knitting that I have heard called double knitting is Twinned or Scandinavian Double knitting.

Is very similar to Fair Isle knitting, but it is done in a single color. Traditionally the two yarns are from one ball, but there really is no reason to do it that way--and several reason not to!

This sort of knitting is know as tv√•√§ndsstickning in Swedish and tvebandsstrikking in Norwegian -- both meaning "two-end knitting”.

I first learned about it reading about of Roald Amundsen, the arctic explorer. In one of his diaries, he writes a thank you to his mother, who made (in the translation, I read) ’double knit mittens’ for every member of his team.
Almost certainly that is a mistaken translation by someone unfamiliar with knitting--and his mother most likely knit tvebandsstrikking mittens. (Interesting isn’t it, how when obessesed with a topic (like knitting) we can remember obscure details like this? I am sure I read the biography when I was in my teens, and here, many years later, I still remember it.)

This is partly because I was intrigued by the idea of double knitting as I read the passage, and started to learn about then!--only what I learned wasn't twinned knitting, but double knitting.

I didn’t learn about tvebandsstrikking till I was much older! It seem unlikely Mrs. Amundsen went to the trouble of making reversible mittens, but very likely she worked in the well known Norwegian style, to make warm, durable mittens.

You can cast on various methods, but a two-color braided cast on, is an excellent, if non-traditional cast on.
When knitting, alternate yarns, working each stitch, with a different yarn.twisting the yarn between the stitches.

The yarn is neatly carried on the back and creates a braid like fabric, familiar to anyone who has done Fair Isle/Latvian braids in knitting..
To do Scandinavian 2 yarn/2 end double knitting--start the work with 2 balls of yarn, or the outer and center yarn from a center pull ball.

Alternately knit using ball 1,(outer) then ball 2 (inner) for each stitch. The yarn, is carried on the back of the work, and always twisted in the same direction in each row of the work. At the end of row, turn work and twist in the opposite direction, undoing all the twists you created in the first row. If working with an even number of stitches, you’ll end the row with ball 2/inner, and start row 2 with Ball 1. This creates an interlocking mesh stitch. If a single stitch breaks the work is less likely to have a 'run' because the stitches above and below and to either side, have been worked with a different yarn. This mesh make the knitting run resistant.

Most often, the front is a simple stocking knit in appearance.
The twisted strand on the back create smooth rows of horizontal braids, that looks almost like a crepe. Worked in fine wool, the strands will tend to felt or full with wear, and over time become a single fabric.

Like Jacquard Double knitting, each stitch is isolated from the next, and a broken thread are much less likely to run, so any holes or worn spots remain small. The crossed yarn in the back make this style of knitting very warm, and finally, the process also give the knitting a back padding. Once mastered, you realize you can knit almost any sweater or other garment that is mostly stocking knit, using the Scandinavian double knitting method, for warm durable outerwear.

But even if you live in a tropical climate, Scandinavian double knitting has its uses; Scandinavian double knitting is excellent for heel flaps on socks. Whether it is worked with two strands of the same color, or with two colors for decorative heel, the padding make the heel more comfortable, and makes the heel run and hole resistant-- a wonderful bonus after you have invested so much time in knitting socks! I use this technique often in toes and heel flap, both for durability and decoration.

Twinned knitting is also excellent for knit bags or other knitted items that need durability.

Thes many of these double-knitting techniques can be mixed with single knitting; for decorate effects, or to meet specific needs.

A simple child's jumper with a skirt of mixed stripes can blossom into a 2-toned jacquard bib, with a single yarn double knit shoulder strap.
The body of man's sweater can be worked in jacquard or Scandinavian double knit for warm and durability, with single knit sleeves. Or a jacquard double knit vest can be made into a reversible garment.
A Jacquard double knit baby blanket can reverse from mostly blue with small pink flowers, to mostly pink with small blue flowers as it moves from child to child.
Most women won't want the extra padding double knitting provides, for fashion articles, but if they actively engage in outdoor sports like skiing, or ice skating, that demand warm clothing, double knitting is option-even if you only use it for hats, scarves and mittens!
In the meanwhile, I am still engaged in using up my cotton.. I continue to knit potholders, experimenting with different patterns and effects.

And even repeat pattens that I particulary like.

To Part 8--The Momentary end to an Obsession--tally: 18 Double Knit Potholders

Monday, May 07, 2007

More Pattern Idea for Jacquard Double Knit Potholders

Here are some more pattern ideas for potholders..
Steps (any dark and white combo) / Streaks of Lightning (yellow and black)
Based on a quilt pattern, this could also be Split Rail Fence, if worked in greens and browns or taupes.
Cast on 64(32 stitches each side--a multiple of 4)
The 4 stitches wide stripes offset 2 stitches, every other row, to create the zigzag line.
The directions refers to 8 stitches, (4 knit and 4 purls,) and all changes are done on Right side (ever other row) the even row, work each stitch in the same color yarn as previous row.

Row 1: 8 (4K/4P) stitches of white/yellow on right side, (yellow) 8 stitches of dark on right siderepeat across row..
Row 2: follow color pattern established in row 1
Row 3: 4 (2K/2P)stitches dark on right side, *8 (4) white/yellow on right side, 8 (4K/4P) darkon right side* across row, ending with 4(2K/2P)dark.on right side.
Row 4: follow color pattern established row 3
Row 5: *8(4K/4P) stitches of dark on right side, 8(4K/4P) of white/yellow on right side, repeat across row..
Row 6: follow color pattern established in row 5
Row 7: 4(2K/2P)stitches white/yellow on right side, *8(4K/4P) dark on right side, 8 (4K/4P) white/yellow on right side, *across row, ending with 4 (2K/2P) white/yellow on right side.
Row 8: follow color pattern established in row 7
Repeat rows 1 to 8, 4 more times (40 rows in total)

I tend to like symmetry--and most of the patterns are very symmetrical, but sometimes, asymmetry is the right thing. The Window pattern (I’ve knit it a half dozen times or so--it is a pattern I really like!) always has a band of birds eye pattern in the beginning. Is this the window box of flowers? Or is it that the potholder is upside-down (and this is the window valance? )
Who knows, I just know I like a bit of birds eye pattern at the beginning of the window. If you like the idea its a curtain/valence, leave a long tail and make your haning loop from the tail.

Cast on 70
First 7 rows are Birdseye pattern--the birds eye can be in alternate colors/a combination of ombre/color way yarn and solid , even 2 ombre’s that contrast.
Next 3 rows, Right side light.
Then place markers one after 4th stitch (side sash) *one 14 stitches later (first pane) one 2 stitches later, (repeat 3 more times) after last marker 4 stitches remain (side sash)
Row 1 of pattern, First 4 stitches are knit in same color as previous row, *Next 14 in opposite color, Next 2 in same color as previous row, (repeat) ending with 4 (not 2) stitches in opposite color.
Row 2 knit every stitch is same color it was knit in previous row.
Row 11 and 12, Knit a stripe, (on white/light side, stripe will be white.)
Repeat these 12 rows 3 more times (For a window with 4 over 4 panes)
End with 3 rows of solid stripe (white stripe on right side)

If you want a smaller potholder, use few stitches (decrease by multiples of 4, and make the ‘window panes (the group of 14 stitches into groups of 12 (6 stitches per pane) or even a group of 10 (5 stitches per pane)

After a few potholders, you’ll begin to understand the double knitting process, and will be ready to read charts, and make hearts, clovers, and other designs.
9 Patch
(still in progess!)
Cast on 60 or 66
Divide with markers into groups of 20/22, (10/11 K--10/11P)
Knit a simple 9 patch or knit small motifs into each patch..
10/11 light on right side, 10/11 dark on right side, 10/11 light on right side.
After 11 or 12 rows, change and make 10/11 dark, 10/11 light, 10/11 dark on right sides
Finish with 10/11 light on right side, 10/11 dark on right side, 10/11 light on right side.
Is this work in progress Hugs and Kisses? Or Tic Tack Toe? --the blocks could also be A B C or 1 2 3--or small flowers, or other motifs!
The size of the the 9 patch blocks can be increases (with moderation) to suit your motif. to keep the potholder 'squarish' be sure to have more rows than stitches! (for every 30 stitches (per side) i like to have at least 33 row, and perfer 36!)

The Boxed Set starts out with 66 stitches cast on.
After 3 rows of simple double knitting, there is a pattern change, the first 6 stitches continue in Light color (a) as do the last 6, but the 54 center stitches are in color B
Three more rows, and 12 of the edge stitches are vertical striped, and the center stitches are back to color A.
Continue, forming smaller and smaller nested boxes.
This last design shows why ombres are often less successful in double knitting. All to often, the 'natural mate' doesn't provide enough contrast, and the design edges become blurred.

To Part 7—Scandinavian 2 yarn, Single Color Double Knitting.

To Part 8--The Momentary end to an Obsession--tally: 18 Double Knit Potholders

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sometimes I surprise myself!

I have made dozens of double knit potholders, and even documented dozens of simple patterns… Problem is, I gave the potholders away, --and some how--lost most of the images.

(The real problem is, I love to knit new things, and dislike reknitting a pattern I have 'explored' and understand.. I want to be experimenting with new ideas and design, not rehashing old ones.)
So as I have been preparing the tutorial, I have (grudgingly) been making some new potholders from these 'old' patterns.-simple patterns of stripes, or geometric designs, (some I have given (or plan to give) away, and 1 --the black and white gingham, I will keepfor myself)
Many of my designs work best in solid colors, and over the years, --and I recommend solids to double knitting beginners.

But, along the way, I have been seduced by cotton color ways and ombres.
I am a sucker for multi color yarn in the skein. I love it. Until I knit it.

Then, its blah at best, and Ugh! at worst--at least to me.

The Bluish bathmat was mostly a blue/white/yellow blend--(What ever possessed me to buy a 14 oz skein of that?) It’s Ok knit up--(how much can you obsess over something you are using on the floor?) and most of the skein is gone--but there is still some of it left. Along with lots of other colorways.

But as I worked; on the bathmats, and wash clothes, on potholders, more and more of the solids got knit up, until only the color ways were left in the stash.

What was I to do?
Well one answer--buy more cotton --in solid (I confess, I did!)
Second solution? Figure out some way to use up the color ways.

The problem with color ways is, I don’t like how they knit up--in general and specifically, in many double knit designs.
(or should I say, they didn’t look good in the ideas I generated?)

So I tried something different.. And surprised my self.
My idea was something like the “lice’ design of Scandinavian sweaters.. Dots of color in a regular pattern. --within a row, I decided simple dots didn’t do it.. So I Purl’d instead of knit--it gave some texture. It worked.

Take this potholder.(right) One side predominately a color way.. It looks OK
Or this one--(above, worked a color called Peppermint) Both are OK, Not the most interesting of effects, but not bad.
But look at the other side--in each case a solid--
Zowie! That is pretty! I have some black and white cotton, and now I need some solid red to make a ‘color mate’ for the peppermint and black potholder.

The blue is exceptionally pretty too, (if I do say so myself!)
That is one of the things I love about knitting-- You can learn and think, but sometimes, you need to actually knit something up to see exactly what you’ll get! And sometimes, you'll even be surpised!

To Part 5— Knits and Purls on each side

To Part 6— More Pattern Ideas for Jacquard Double Knitting

To Part 7—Scandinavian 2 yarn, Single Color Double Knitting.

To Part 8--The Momentary end to an Obsession--tally: 18 Double Knit Potholders

Friday, May 04, 2007

More about Jacquard Interlocking Double Knitting

So now you’ve cast on--What’s next?
Jacquard or Interlocking Double knitting is the Ur of double knitting.
It is a process of knitting a fabric that has 2 ‘right’ (stocking knit sides) often with patterns that are positive/negative in nature.
One side is predominately color A, the other side is predominantly color B. Either, (A or B) can be solid, tweed, ombre, color way or conventional stripes!
The designs can be similar to fair isle, or can be similar to intarsia, but the double knitting process is easier than either! There are no float, not ends to weave in (except cast on and bind off tails) no tricky maneuvers to interlock the colors. The process uses each yarn evenly (that is there are an equal number of stitches in color A and B)--which minimizes tension problems.

In fact, you might find you are knitting looser (rather than tighter) and find it best to go down a needle size to have the desire tension/fabric.
Charting and patterns reading can be harder, because patterns are worked on both sides (and sometimes 2 different directions).
Simple, geometric and regular patterns are best in the beginning. The symmetry of these designs make them easier. As you become comfortable, you can move out and on to more complex patterns.

Jacquard double knitting interlocks the two layers of knitting together, while, at the same time, forming a two tone jacquard/or fair isle type design.
It results in a single ‘fabric’ --not a two sided tube. That is, the 2 sides of the knitting are, if not completely, at least frequently, interlocked and can’t be pulled apart.
The two interlocked layer of fabric, make it durable and warm. The interlocking design resist 'run's when fabric is worn through--an asset for mittens or other gear that might be get worn out in active outdoor sports or work.
Because of its warm and durability, its is excellent for socks and mittens and other outwear. With hats and scarves, the two-sided design makes them 100% reversible. For the same reason, it is excellent for afghans--and potholders!
Getting started.
When double knitting, you will use 2 times the amount of yarn used in single knitting --and you need to cast on 2 times the number of stitches--always cast on an even number of stitches.

If a pattern for a scarf calls for 30 stitches, and you want to turn the scarf into a double knit design, you’ll need 60 stitches.
Potholders, (my favorite double knitting project) are often about the same size as wash clothes--so instead of 30 to 40 stitches, each potholder needs 60 to 80 stitches.
30 (60)stitches by 36 rows of knitting makes a small (7 inch apx) potholder.
40 (80) stitches by 44 rows of knitting makes a large (9.5 inch apx.) potholder.
When working Jacquard double knitting, both yarns move together (as one) but only one yarn is used to work a stitch. For this reason, I think it is easier to hold both yarns in one hand. (but then, I feel the same when ever using 2 strand of yarn!)

If you are comfortable using 1 strand in each hand, I suspect you’ll be able do to double knitting the same way. (I can’t!)

The basic method of 2 color double knitting is:
Hold (or MOVE) both yarn together.
Knit first stitch with Yarn (color) A
*Move both yarns to front , (as to purl)
Purl next stitch with Yarn (color) B
Move both yarn to back (as to knit)
Knit next stitch with Yarn (color) A

Repeat from * for remainder of row. (end with a Purl stitch)
NOTE: this is simple 2 color double knitting and is not interlocking Jacquard double knitting.

For the purposes of this tutorial, the Light or white side of the knitting will always be referred to as “the right side”.
To Interlock and make designs, you work stitches on the Light side of the work with the dark yarn, and the corresponding stitches on the wrong side with the light yarn.
This will interlock and created designs.

Here is one of my favorite ‘stitch designs’ --it’s a small checkerboard type pattern, with the name of “Birds eye”. It completely interlocks the right (or front) with the wrong (or back)
It is difficult to see this pattern as you knit, BUT it is very easy to ‘check your work’ on the needle as you go.
On the needle, you’ll have a single stitch of at each end, and the center stitches will be pairs of stitches in the same color.

Birds eye Double knit pattern
R1: Knit the first stitch on the row with the opposite color.
(if the first stitch is a light one, knit it with the dark yarn, if it is dark, knit with the light yarn)
Purl 1, and K1 with opposite color yarn,
P1, K1 with first yarn
So lets presume you are starting the row with a light colored stitch on needle.
K1 (dark) * P1, K1 (light) P1, K1 (light) End with P1.
This pattern is very easy to see on the needle--double check by counting off by 2’s to make sure you have pairs of stitches in each color, with a single stitch at each end.
Row 2: Knit or Purl with opposite color of yarn.
If the first stitch is a light one, knit it with the dark yarn, if it is dark, knit with the light yarn--continue is basically same pattern as row 1, being sure to work light stitches with dark yarn, and dark stitches with light yarn.
(use the tails of the yarn to help see the difference between the two rows)

After 7 rows, it looks like this:
A simple “pattern” of stripes, interspersed with rows of birds eye pattern make an interesting design.
These potholders, --the black and white one is 5 years old are faded and stained-- but still server to illustrate some simple patterns made from stripes, and Birds eye patterns.
Gingham is an other pattern that makes use of the birds eye stitch, combined not with stripes but with blocks of stitches
This gingham pattern is not that hard. Cast on 72, use marker to divide into 6 groups of 12 stitches. Work alternate blocks in simple (non interlocking) 2 color double knitting, followed by blocks of Birds eye pattern. After 8 rows, the pattern changes
You create a gingham like design by following the first 8 rows with 8 rows of an alternating pattern of blocks--first birds eye pattern, then blocks of simple 2 color double knitting,--Note the color of the simple double knitting is reversed.

Need more information to understand?
Here are some General directions:
In these directions, I will refer to each yarn as dark or light (or black/white)--Beginners will find it easier to learn if they:
Use only solids colors yarns, and avoid ombres or other color ways--at least for the first few potholders.
Use colors with high contrast
Use pattern with only KNIT STITCHES
Use simple geometric patterns (not florals/stars/ intarsia like designs.)

All of these ‘patterns’ define what you see on right side—(since pattern is on both sides, right side is always “light/white‘ side (dark/black side is always wrong side.)
The Actual knitting
If you have followed the basic direction for casting on, and started with your first cast on stitch as a light color, the last stitch cast on will be dark.
Turn the work to begin to Double Knit.
And Remember when double knitting:
1-- always hold and move both yarn together
(both yarn move forward for a purl stitch, both yarn move back for a knit stitch.)
2--while both yarns move, only one yarn is use to make a stitch.
3-- the work has the feel of “1 X 1 ribbing” --K1, P1..
4--It is very difficult to ‘see’ the pattern on the needles.
Have a crochet hook handy to be ready to undo and ‘repair’ mistakes.

The gauge created in double knitting is completely independent of a plain stocking knit gauge with the same yarn and needles. So if you are planning a project, you must make a swatch. For Potholders, I don’t bother. The size of finished potholder will be 8 to 11 inches (approximately square) no matter what your gauge. The first design does not require a specific gauge to look good.
However, Interlocking jacquard double knitting is similar in feel to ribbing, and as a GENERAL RULE, you’ll find the work looks better worked on smaller needles.
Instead of the size 7 or 8 (US) (4.5/5mm) needle you might use, a size 5 or 6 (US)( 3.75/4.25 mm) might be better. If you know you knit tight or loose, take this into account when selecting needle sizes.
Cotton potholders will shrink and ‘tighten up‘ if washed in hot water, and machine dried.
Most patterns count on that, and the directions call for tall rectangles to be knit. After machine washing and drying, they are closer to a square shape, since cotton tends to stretch width wise, and shrink length wise with washing.
(I love cotton, and after years of double knitting, find I am fine knitting with the recommended size needles.

The patterns for the potholders are in "Worsted weight cotton"--Lion's "Kitchen Cotton", or Lily's "Sugar and Cream" or "Peach's and Cream", Bernat's Handcrafters cotton are some brands that I have used. I am sure there are many other brands as well. I have use different brands of cotton interchangeable, and they have worked together fine.
But don’t feel you have to limit yourself to cotton, you can make potholders of wool and either full or felt them.
Synthetics or blends are not recommended, since many of them are not heatproof and can melt when in contact with hot pots.

Next-- some instructions for the potholders and stitch patterns.