Most cheerful linen stitch scarf

The most recent scarf knitted in linen stitch has been bound off and blocked! Now that it is dry, I can show you its cheerful nature.

knitted scarf in rainbow spectrum

Linen Stitch Scarf in spectrum colors

The scarf is based very loosely on Churchmouse’s Koigu Linen Stitch Scarf, which I have knit several times with multiple hand-painted yarns.

This time I wanted to use Kauni 8/2 Effektgarn with its long color changes. One ball of their most popular rainbow colorway, EQ, knit up into a fantastic scarf measuring 7 1/2″ x 70″ long excluding fringe.

I started with 470 sts and the knitted cast on with a US 7/4.5mm circular needle. At each end of the cast on and every row, I left a generous 8″/20 cm tail at each end; the tails later become fringe.

All rows are worked from the same side, the side that has knits combined with slips. No purl-side rows whatsoever.

Details of Linen Stitch in Kauni EQ

Details of Linen Stitch in Kauni EQ

The point in using Kauni is to take advantage of the slow color changes, which are further blended by linen stitch. This means drawing consistently from one end of the ball of yarn. Red transitions to red-orange, which becomes orange, then yellow-orange, yellow, etc.

Kauni EQ repeats the same color sequence twice in one ball. My friend Laura suggested that I mirror the color sequence rather than let it repeat in the same order. I loved the idea! To make that happen, I worked consistently from the outside of the ball of yarn until the color on the needle matched the color at the inside tail. After finishing that row, I began using the inside tail as my working yarn and did so for the remainder of the scarf.

When the color sequence nearly matched the cast-on color, I worked the last row of linen stitch with a slightly larger needle, US 8/5mm; this elongates the knit stitches just enough that they will lie a little flatter when incorporated in the bind off. Bind off on the next row, keeping the tension as similar to the rest of the scarf as possible.

Fringe at end of Kauni Linen Stitch scarf - in color pattern!

Fringe at end of Kauni Linen Stitch scarf – in color pattern!

The long tails left at the beginning and end of every row become fringe. Wonderfully coordinated fringe in the same sequence of colors. I prefer to knot the fringe as I go. Especially in a traditional wool like Kauni, the tails can become mixed up, and when all the ends are loose, the stitches at and near the edge of the scarf become loose and inconsistent in tension. It is easier for me to knot every time I have 4 ends.  While I knot fringe as I go, I do not trim the fringe evenly until the scarf is complete.

Blocking is the very last step. With linen stitch, knit bunched up on a circular needle, blocking is essential. It makes the difference between rumpled fabric and smooth fabric. I washed the scarf and laid it flat to dry. It was dry later the same day.

This particular scarf is a donation to a great cause. Will I have to knit myself another one? Quite possibly. My friend Dawn is knitting the same scarf now, and it is too much fun to watch the color changes from the ball of EQ she has.

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An ounce of cure for a lace shawl

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Yes, yes, though sometimes the cure is not so onerous.

When knitting a lace shawl this winter, I thought I had prevented the risk of running out of scarce yarn before finishing the pattern. Not enough prevention, however. I ran out of yarn with an incomplete, unusable shawl. So much for prevention this time.

Knitted lace shawl

Great drape, long length to this shawl.

My cure, detailed previously, involved ripping out more than half the shawl and knitting on from a new midpoint. The cure worked, leaving only 10 yards to spare. It was not painful; no feeling of a pound of cure, far more like an ounce of cure. And I like the result a lot.

The Mallory Hills Shawlette blocked out to a generous wingspan of 66″/168 cm with depth of 22″/56 cm at the central point. More like a scarf than a shawlette in proportions, perhaps.

Knit in Miss Babs Tarte and blocked, the fabric has a lot of soft drape and a soft hand, making it easy to wear. The addition of 10% Tencel to 75% Merino may be the reason. The remaining 15% is nylon, making the yarn good for socks also.

The very dark purples in Bubble Bath and its hand-painted nature obscure some of the lace pattern; if I really wanted the lace pattern to show another time, I would choose a lighter and more solid color. I would like to keep the drape at all costs. When looking along the scarf from point to point, I can see the sinewy lines that this lace produces. This kind of magic is part of what lace knitters enjoy.

Knitted lace shawl

Sinewy lines along wingspan length of the shawl. Nice!

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Why the Ten Stitch Blanket has nine spirals

Ten Stitch Blanket complete, blocked, ready to use!

Ten Stitch Blanket complete, blocked, ready to use!

Recently I finished a Ten Stitch Blanket in Kauni yarn. It was a thoroughly enjoyable purl-free knit, and I love the result.

Garter stitch projects like this one offer few serious challenges to the knitter. I have previously commented on the joining method that I preferred and my plan for I-cord edging.

I wanted the edging to be part of the final spiral, not applied afterward. Applied I-cord has many wonderful uses. In this design applied I-cord would result in disjointed and very long spans of color. Instead I wanted the edging to match the outer spiral perfectly. That means knitting I-cord edging while knitting the last 10-stitch band on all four sides of the blanket.

However, I had a limited amount of yarn and wanted the largest possible blanket. No wasted yarn on spirals that might have been. No having to stop dead in the middle of a long side because there was no more yarn.

With a little help from Excel and a kitchen scale, I calculated that nine complete spirals was all I could knit. Here’s how:

  • Before starting your blanket, weigh the yarn. Measure in grams if you possibly can; ounces will not let you be as precise.
  • Once you have some of the blanket finished and have reached a corner, count how many 10-st x 10-ridge squares you have.
  • Weigh the yarn not yet knitted. Do not weigh the blanket fabric itself, only the not-yet-used yarn.
  • Take at least two measures of your progress. Three is even better.
  • Build your spreadsheet to track a)number of 10 x 10 squares finished, b)amount of yarn in those squares (by subtracting from the original weight), and c)how many squares you are knitting from each gram of yarn. I knit about 1.4 squares from each gram, but please, please, do not use my results to estimate your own work.
  • In your spreadsheet calculate how many squares you could have if you knit every bit of your yarn. I.e., multiply your figure for squares/gram by the total amount of yarn you began with.
  • Find the square root of the above. Let Excel do this for you. =SQRT(cell)
  • Round the square root down to a whole number. That will give you roughly the number of complete spirals you can knit up in a square blanket.
  • Add I-cord stitches at the miter before you begin the final spiral. Knitting 3 extra stitches in each ridge will use a little bit more yarn than in the body of the blanket; adjust down by a spiral if your results look like you will barely make it with the yarn and gauge you have.

That’s all. Pretty simple to calculate. Very reassuring to know exactly where to begin adding an edging.

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Ten stitches, nine spirals, one complete blanket

Ten Stitch Blanket complete, blocked, ready to use!

Ten Stitch Blanket complete, blocked, ready to use!

The Ten Stitch Blanket is finished! Knitting, weaving in ends, and blocking are all complete. I love the result, which is a 30″/76 cm square.

The pattern is Frankie Brown’s well-loved Ten Stitch Blanket. The yarn is Kauni 8/2 Effektgarn in the blue/green/purple colorway EKS. The needle is 3mm double points, just two of them.

Last time I wrote about this project, I concentrated on some key decisions for working the spiral and making the join. In storytelling terms, the middle of the story. This time I’ll focus on the beginning and the ending, with one amplification on the miters in the middle.

The beginnings. I had 2 partial balls of Kauni and no more. With 2 balls of yarn there are 4 ends: an inside and an outside end for each one. I looked at all 4 ends to find the best color transition from one ball to the next. I was lucky and did not have to cut into the yarn for a seamless color blend, but some may have to do that or live with a sharp divide in color.

Knowing where I wanted to begin, I used waste yarn and a provisional cast on. The first row that I knit in Kauni was going to be on the side I designated as the wrong side; that is, the side without the knit-like welt formed by joining 10-stitch strips. I knit 19 rows before starting the first miter. When the knitting came back to the cast-on edge, I released the provisional cast on and incorporated those live stitches with an SSK on each ridge. This avoids having a lumpy ridge of cast-on stitches on the wrong side of the blanket.

The miter. My great friend Paula asked me exactly how I worked the miter. I followed the original pattern, though I think of it with slightly different terminology. To me the miter is made in ridges rather than rows, and 1 ridge is made up of 2 rows. The author did not use the term wrap-and-turn (w+t), and I do. So for Paula, here is my way of writing the miter:

  • Short-Row Ridge (SRR) 1: Sl 1, k 8, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 2: Sl 1, k 7, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 3: Sl 1, k 6, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 4: Sl 1, k 5, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 5: Sl 1, k 4, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 6: Sl 1, k 3, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 7: Sl 1, k 2, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 8: Sl 1, k 1, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 9: K 1, w+t, k to end. Barely a ridge, but technically it is. The stitch wrapped on this ridge is the only one in the corner that has only 1 wrap. From here on, you are adding a second wrap to the corner stitches.
  • SRR 10: Sl 1, k 1, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 11: Sl 1, k 2, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 12: Sl 1, k 3, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 13: Sl 1, k 4, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 14: Sl 1, k 5, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 15: Sl 1, k 6, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 16: Sl 1, k 7, w+t, k to end.
  • SRR 17: Sl 1, k 8, w+t, k to end. This adds the second wrap to the stitch at the edge.
  • Miter finished! Resume working the regular pattern of joining the 10-stitch band to existing fabric.

The ending and outer edge. The pattern does not call for doing anything special at the outer edge of the blanket. I wanted something more finished than garter stitch texture and decided to add I-cord edging. Simple 3-stitch I-cord. With long color changes in yarn like Kauni, applying I-cord after completing the basic fabric of the blanket would create quite a different rate of color change — not the look I wanted. Rather, I wanted the edging to be integral in color to the blanket fabric, which means knitting I-cord edging as part of the final 10-stitch band of fabric.

At the point of the miter before I began the last complete spiral of 10 stitches, I cast on 3 stitches and began working them as I-cord. When mitering, I worked 1 row of I-cord only (no garter stitch at all) before and after SRR 9. When the 10-stitch band met the place where I-cord began, I worked 2 rows of I-cord only, then applied the I-cord to the live stitches with an SSK on each ridge. Finally, I grafted the cord stitches onto the original cord stitches.

Knitted blanket with I-cord edging

I-cord edging begins at a miter

Knitted blanket with I-cord edging

I-cord edging completed by attaching cord along final 10 stitches

Knitted blanked with I-cord edging, here at corners

I-cord edging looks polished on both sides of blanket

With a fixed amount of yarn and no more available to me, how did I know which miter was the place to begin I-cord? Or, which spiral would be the final spiral of the blanket? I had to figure that out with a tiny bit of help from Excel. Paula rolled her eyes at this. So for her sake, I’ll report on that method separately.

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Ten stitches, three decisions, one amazing blanket

Ten Stitch Blanket in progress with nearly 100 little squares complete.

Ten Stitch Blanket in progress with nearly 100 little squares complete.

At last! I am knitting a pattern I have admired for years: Frankie Brown’s Ten Stitch Blanket. The original, square version.

I am using Kauni Wool 8/2 Effektgarn in the colorway called EKS. (Someday, I’d love to know how these colors acquired their monogram-like names. For now, just EKS has to do.) This is a traditional Scandinavian type of yarn with long, gradual color changes. Some American knitters find it too scratchy. I do not! I appreciate its twist and resistance to pilling and overall quality and connections to ski sweaters I grew up in. And beautiful colors!

I am using 3mm needles. Two double-pointed needles rather than anything longer, as it is easier for me. This produces tighter garter stitch than some would like. Hand and drape are really personal decisions.

So, this very simple pattern has only 10 active stitches at a time. Easy, right? But there are a surprising number of variations possible with those 10 stitches. Choices must be made to three big questions.

  • Q: What are you going to do with the first stitch on the right side?  My A: Slip as if to knit with yarn in back. Or in knitterly shorthand, sl 1 kw wyib.
  • Q: How are you going to make the join to the existing fabric?  My A: With a knit-like welt on the right side. At the last stitch on the right side, slip as if to knit with yarn in back. Pick up a stitch from edge of fabric. Pass slipped stitch over. Turn. On wrong side, slip first stitch as if to purl with yarn in front (sl 1 pw wyif). Knit to end.
  • Q: Where exactly do you pick up the stitch from the edge of the fabric? My A: Here!

    Where I choose to pick up edge stitch for joining the Ten Stitch Blanket

    Where I choose to pick up edge stitch for joining the Ten Stitch Blanket

Ten Stitch Blanket showing both sides of the joined work

Ten Stitch Blanket showing both sides of the joined work

This method of joining gives me consistently handsome joins on both sides of the fabric. While swatching I found that other joins, such as doing an SSK after picking up the edge stitch, raised the knit-like welt and made it more pronounced than I liked. Picking up in other places in the edge matters also.

The image of both sides of joined work shows an un-blocked blanket-to-be. I knit a swatch for this design and blocked the swatch. This let me test gauge and various ways of joining and working the edges. Valuable information to have before starting a blanket-sized project. You might make difference choices from your swatch.

Swatch for Ten Stitch Blanket on so-called right side.

Swatch for Ten Stitch Blanket on so-called right side.

Same swatch on so-called wrong side.

Same swatch on so-called wrong side.

That’s it for these three questions about joining; if this were a story, it would be the middle. How did I begin, how will I end, and how long will the story be? Three more very good questions to consider another day.

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Gobelin Scarf debuting in Interweave Crochet

gobelin scarf, crocheted, folded

Gobelin Scarf has wavy edges and showcases colors in unexpected ways – with an unexpectedly easy-to-work stitch.

I am so excited to see my pattern, Gobelin Scarf, in the Spring 2014 issue of Interweave Crochet!

Interweave always does a fantastic job of styling and photographing pieces. If you don’t have your copy yet, look at their great images on the Interweave Crochet design page! Or in Ravelry. Stunning styling and photography, right?!

Interweave’s attention to detail in the less visible disciplines like tech editing helps to make their magazines beautiful and useful. A joy to work designs from their magazines. A joy to create designs for their magazines.

Where did this scarf design come from? From my enthusiasm for the Tunisian crochet stitch called Gobelin Stitch and what it does to mix up colors in hand-painted yarns.

Gobelin Stitch is one of the many stitch patterns with more than one name, among them Tunisian Brick, Full, Net and Waffle Stitch. A lot of choice for the same thing! Here is a video tutorial for working the basics of Gobelin Stitch.

The only tricky thing about the stitch is paying attention to the edges and avoiding an unplanned change in stitch counts, which make corresponding wobbles to the side edges.

Side edges vary easily in this stitch… How can I make that a virtue rather than a hazard?

By making the sides wavy on purpose! A pattern that is not identical on every row is more interesting to crochet. Wavy edges also keep the finished scarf slightly lighter in weight, and Gobelin Stitch does make dense fabric if left to its own devices.

detail of tunisian crochet gobelin stitch on gobelin scarf

Gobelin Stitch gives the Gobelin Scarf its name and its fascinating texture.

Wavy edges also mean that any color pooling from hand-painted yarn is much, much less likely to occur. Gobelin Stitch creates little dashes of color, visually broken up by the stitches on adjacent rows.

The natural yarn to reach for was one of my all-time favorites, Claudia Hand Painted Yarn. The yarn previously labeled as Fingering, now called Addiction, is the perfect weight for this scarf. Even my Canadian friends will find the resulting fabric plenty warm.

The editors at Interweave Crochet chose one of Claudia’s many great color combinations called Eat Your Veggies. I love the rich colors of kale, peas, string beans, broad beans, asparagus, spinach, and many lettuces and herbs. Wonderful for eating, and in a scarf, these greens coordinate with almost everything.

Details:

  • Two Tunisian hooks, F/3.75 mm and H/5 mm
  • 600-700 yards of fingering weight wool, Claudia Hand Painted Yarn Fingering (now labeled Addiction); well suited to variegated hand paints and equally lovely in solids or near solids.
  • Pattern in Interweave Crochet, Spring 2014
  • Creates a scarf about 7″ wide x 58″ long, stylish, warm and fun to crochet!
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Fixing one’s knitting: not enough yarn to finish the shawl

Two inches of yarn cannot knit a whole point to balance this shawl.

Two inches of yarn cannot knit a whole point to balance this shawl.

Uh oh! While knitting a small lace shawl from point to point, I ran out of yarn and cannot get more of the same yarn. The second point is missing. The Mallory Hills Shawlette would be unusable without that point.

After a week of mourning, here is how I fixed it:

  1. Calculate how many stitches are missing from the non-existent point. This is pretty simple using the charts and Excel. Approximately 1,168 stitches are missing. That gives me a target for how many stitches to remove from the central, point-forming area of the design.
  2. Calculate how many rows from the middle of the shawl would give me enough yarn to knit at least 1,168 stitches. Think in pairs of rows; you need to take out one row on each side of the center. Again, use charts and Excel. This lace pattern has mostly-purl WS rows, and that is a real help here, My calculation takes into account that I want the last complete row remaining after ripping out to be a WS row. This is challenging enough — make it easier where you can. Ripping back to Row 32 and resuming on Row 9 gives me enough yarn for 1,670 stitches. About 500 stitches’ worth for added security! Looking at the charts for the number of rows repeated in the three separate lace patterns, I can see that going from Row 32 to Row 9 will keep two of the three lace patterns consistent. Good visually! The pattern with a 48-row repeat simply cannot be matched this time. (References to row numbers should make sense when you read the pattern in Interweave Knitscene, Spring 2014.)

    Small needle used as a life line. Ready to rip out.

    Small needle used as a life line. Ready to rip out.

  3. Run a circular needle through stitches on target row, for me Row 32 nearest the middle of the shawl. Use a needle several sizes smaller than your working needle to make it easier. Don’t worry too much about getting every stitch perfect, though the more attention you give this step, the easier it will be later.
  4. Rip and wind yarn.
  5. Pay special attention to stitches on the needle and stitches that should be on the needle. It is a good idea to slip all stitches around the circular so you can examine each stitch. Un-twist twisted stitches. Any stitches missed can be picked up with a crochet hook. Stitches picked up
    Life line was in row below target row for just 4 stitches. Easy to recover those stitches.

    Life line was in row below target row for just 4 stitches. Easy to recover those stitches.

    one row below where you meant to be can be re-created from the floats or recovered in the air. Stitches picked up one row above will stop the ripping; pick up on the correct row and continue to rip.

  6. Weigh the ball of yarn. Does it weigh at least half (ideally a little more than half) the full skein? If so, you are fine. If it weighs too little, you may need to rip out another two rows. If you have the choice, weigh grams rather than ounces.
  7. If ripping out after knitted fabric has sat a long time, block the yarn to get the kinks out. My shawl rested for only a week, and I did not see the need to block the yarn.
  8. Before beginning to knit again, compare stitches on the needle and the fabric to the chart. Does it look right? Do you have the correct number of stitches between pattern repeats? Ah…

    Ripped to the good row, stitches checked, yarn wound, and ready to resume!

    Ripped to the good row, stitches checked, yarn wound, and ready to resume!

  9. Resume knitting with your working needle size at the row that you calculated in Step 2. Set aside your smaller, life-line needle after your first row; you should not need it again for this project.

How might this have happened? I did a gauge swatch and thought I was on target for gauge, although we all know that a swatch is a sampling for a larger piece, and samples do not always predict full-scale results with perfect accuracy. The designer noted in the pattern that her sample “used almost all of one skein of yarn,” labeled at 490 yards. My skein of yarn is labeled 500 yards. According to the labels alone, I had 10 yards to spare. Yarn producers use averages. The designer’s skein might have had more than 490 yards, and the skein of yarn I have might actually be less than 500 yards. This just happens. It is not a flaw or a fault.

How might I have prevented running out of yarn on this project?

  • Weighing the original ball, without its label, then weighing again near and not beyond the center of the shawlette to be sure I had not used more than half the yarn by weight. Adjust before knitting on.
  • Using a smaller needle size than I used in the swatch, even though my swatch measured to gauge and had the drape and hand I wanted. When each stitch is a tiny bit smaller, you can knit more stitches with the same amount of yarn.
  • Choosing a yarn for this pattern with well over 500 yards, either already in hand or available for purchase.

Aside from the added drama of ripping out more than half a lace shawl, I like this pattern. The photography in the magazine may not do it full justice, nor do these images of the un-blocked work in progress. The number and size of charts will appeal to dedicated lace knitters. The edge treatment is definitive and easy to work. Good pattern!

The yarn I am using is Miss Babs Tarte, fingering weight, 4-ply yarn with 75% superwash Merino, 15% nylon and 10% tencel. The purple color is a Babette called “Bubble Bath.” What’s a Babette? One-of-a-kind skeins, which you cannot expect ever to see again. I bought one skein at a festival and have not spotted a Raveler with the same colorway with whom I might trade. I like knitting with it and look forward to seeing how it blocks.

This fix works for this project but may not apply to all cases of running out of yarn, and knitters without a geeky streak will not want to use it at all. A similar strategy may work on other projects, especially when there is an obvious middle to the design and you can work out from there to create a new mid-point suited to the amount of yarn you have.

Would you use this method to eke out a shawl with less yarn than called for? What would you do instead if you had a lace shawl missing its second point?

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