A most educational miniature

This “Italian Harlequin Costume” sweater from Fashion Knitwear for Children by Claire LaCoste Kapstein (1983) was a great challenge to make in miniature. Here are illustrations from the book:

 

If you’ve seen my Instagram posts @hiyabets or @theknittinghour (the latter account is new), you know I hovered over the topic of picking up stitches while making the first attempt. This project was also a “knitting math” wake-up call, as I didn’t double-check my calculations… hence the grossly over-long first sleeve shown with an elbow bend in the left photo at the top of this page!

I knew I was picking up too many stitches around the neck (based on having cut most stitch counts of the original instructions in half), yet I went right ahead. Foolish me! Or, rather, no expert me at picking up stitches. I use a crochet hook and I’m pretty slow at it. The neckline ribbing should have drawn the garment’s width in about as much as the lower band did.

Here’s my first effort, duly tagged with all of the conclusions and corrections that went into the second model:

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The only thing I reconsidered after making these instructional reminders is mentioned in the top left tag. I did go with both stockinette and garter stitch in the “white” band of the sleeve on try #2.

 

Picking up stitches for sleeve ribbing vs. provisional or alternate cable cast-on

pic with caption

Each half of this sweater begins at the lower sleeve edge. Whereas the instructions for the original project say to start with the first color band and then go back later and pick up stitches for the ribbing, I’d like to speed that process up. While picking up stitches is the only real option for adding ribbing at the neck and lower edges, because they are pieced, the sleeve doesn’t have that constraint. Before I landed finally on beginning the sleeve with its ribbing, on model #1 I chose provisional cast-on in order to avoid picking up stitches.

You can see below that I didn’t bother to finish the way-too-long sleeve. I left the pink yarn of the provisional cast-on in place. This is called “quitting while you’re behind” or “cutting bait” or, more formally, “spending no more energy on a losing situation.” :0-)

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My better alternative to adding the sleeve ribbing at the end was to start with the ribbing, using a cast-on that’s great for ribbing: the alternate cable cast-on. Then, I worked 2 rows of ribbing and forged ahead.

SPECIAL NOTE
One important rule for picking up stitches:
When you insert your crochet hook or knitting needle tip between loops to pick up stitches to build on a project from a bound-off or side edge, be sure the right side of the project is facing you. On the lower edge of model #1, I tried being really clever in order to have the work facing the correct way for my final bind-off, because the “pretty” side of miraculous elastic bind-off is facing away from you as you work. Yes, my number of rows of ribbing would have worked out to match the neck edge. But, NO…my logic did not stand me in good stead, because the right side of the sweater would have had this hideous seam! Boo! #doover

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And here’s a washcloth I just ran across that demonstrates what the right side and wrong side of picked-up stitches will look like. This is not actually that type of seam; it’s just a routine color change on a RS row. But, you get the idea. You don’t want that seam showing on your finished product!IMG_4851

Here’s a nice example of how useful picking up stitches can be for building on different edges of a project:

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This “Carolina blue” basket stands about 4.5″ high. It can hold miscellaneous necessities like a thimble, a lip balm, an emery board, a pencil. Or, knitting essentials like stitch markers or sets of DPNs. Or, hair elastics. Or, tea bags, sugar packets, and stirring sticks. I’m pretty sure I made this project up as I went. I should have documented my work! [[anguished-face emoticon]]

Just for fun using Mixoo app: “I’m a little teapot” pose x3

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“Tip me over and pour me out!”

 

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Is it the mathematical challenge I love? Or the fact that miniatures take little time and little yarn? Or that they make great Christmas tree ornaments/gifts? #alloftheabove [[hands-clapping emoticon]]

 

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What a difference a trial model makes! I flew through the blue, green, and cream sweater on a Saturday night and Sunday based on amended instructions.

 

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Top left: sleeve-and-body halves. Middle left: center insert sections lined up for seaming. Bottom left: neck edge ready for picking up stitches using DPNs. Top right: “Goin’ to town” on size 2 DPNs to work neck edge ribbing! Bottom right: Showing off the finished project. Yay!

2nd mini for 2017! Two-toned dress

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Mini Garter & Stockinette Dress: a miniature for a small doll or your Christmas tree

This adorable, two-toned miniature dress is quick to whip up, and it has the added attraction of incorporating several “beginner basics” – garter stitch, stockinette stitch, and ribbing. It’s a great opp to teach yourself (or a mentee) the three-needle bind-off, as well.

After having so much fun developing, knitting, and publishing the miniature kimono sweater a few weeks ago, I had miniature on the brain. So, when I ran across a toddler dress pattern by Dorian Kershner published in a 2010 “project a day” calendar given to me by my sweet sister, Jane –and, having no toddlers on my radar who needed a knitted dress– I got my knitting needles and pen and paper out again and started figuring. This one took me three tries. The ruffled skirt hem didn’t lie down very well. The stockinette shoulder straps curled under and looked narrower than they really were. As they say, third time’s the charm. Here’s a small pic of the early version I didn’t like:

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I just wasn’t happy with the huge ruffle or with the squirrely shoulder straps, even though these two colors of Vanna’s “Glamour” (a sparkly little yarn) were very nice together.

Let’s get started
References to CC and MC are for optional 2-tone with dress lower edge and bodice in one color and skirt in another. If you prefer to use the same yarn throughout, just follow the stitching instructions.

Dress front
With size 2 or 3 straight needles, use CC to cast on 20 sts in alternate cable method, leaving about 16″ tail end on starting slipknot, to be used for seaming dress later, at sides. So long a tail is recommended here especially if your dress is being knit all in one yarn, because you’ll need that yarn to stitch up the side from hem to underarm.

Skirt
Rows 1-2: k1-p1 rib
Row 3: purl all sts

Continue in stockinette stitch and decrease width at sides
Row 4: Join MC, leaving a 16″ tail. K2tog, knit to end (19)
Row 5: p2tog, purl to end (18)
Rows 6-9: work even
Row 10: k2tog, knit to end (17)
Row 11: p2tog, purl to end (16)
Rows 12-15: work even
Row 16: (right side) Change back to CC or continue in same yarn if not making the two–tone version. K2tog, knit to end (15)
Row 17: k2tog, knit to end (14) Not a typo – this begins the garter stitch bodice section, placing garter ridges on both the right side and the wrong side of work.

Continue bodice in garter stitch
Rows 18-24: knit

Shape armholes
(Continue in garter stitch for remainder of bodice and shoulders.)
Row 25: Bind off 2 sts at start of row. (12)
Row 26: As row 25. (10)
Row 27: knit

Shape neck
On next row (RS), bind off center 2 sts (stitches 5 and 6). (8)
On next row (WS), attach new yarn source at start of the second shoulder strap as you knit across. (8)

On next 2 rows, working both shoulders at the same time, bind off center 2 stitches (1 on each shoulder). To do this, knit all 4 of the first strap, then bind off first stitch of the second strap. (7 sts remain) Then, coming back across on the next row, knit all 3 stitches of the first strap and bind off first stitch of the second strap. (6 sts total remain)

Work 4 rows even on both shoulders, ending with a WS row.

Cut working yarn with about a 12″ tail. Slip all sts to scrap yarn and hold for 3-needle bind-off after dress back has been made to this same point. If you don’t have scrap yarn handy and want to keep the project together and in view, simply slide completed dress front to the far end of one knitting needle and keep it hanging there while you knit the dress back:

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Dress back
Make dress back identical to dress front. Set pieces with right sides facing and join at shoulders in three-needle bind-off. Otherwise, bind off all stitches and then seam together. Here’s my work all ready for the three-needle bind-off:

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Finishing
TIP: You might find it easier to weave in the several yarn ends of bodice and shoulder sections before you seam the sides of the dress.
Seam sides, weave all yarn ends in.
Turn dress right side out.

Optional: Try using partial strands of same yarn or contrast to make a tiny flower ornament to attach to front of dress near one shoulder. After one unsuccessful try, I made my Very Quick Knitted Flower into a micro-mini, using 20 stitches to start with, and binding off 2 stitches, not 5, for each of 5 scallops:

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Forgive all the little “fuzzies” of these great wool yarns!

Use ornament hook or tiny clothing hanger to place dress on Christmas tree, or use dress for a doll of appropriate size. I found some little hangers at Michael’s craft store, but the black one I fashioned from a nicer “twisty tie” was a better size for this black and white dress made on size 3 needles. I plan to make the next dress on size 2 needles to see if it will fit the Michael’s hanger better.

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These two wools were a pleasure to work with. I did the skirt sections (blue) on size 3 needles, then switched to size 2 for the bodice. I’d hoped the end product would fit OK on one of the little wooden coathangers from Michael’s, but it didn’t.

 

 

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This blue and off-white dress overpowers the little hanger, but it’s a pretty piece! #iloveminiatures

 

 

 

Smaller’s not always better, but it can be funner

 

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It’s another fun miniature project – taking a regular knitting pattern sized for child or adult and making it …roughly… the same proportions by gnawing off a math challenge with no fear. Well, maybe a little fear.

My starting point was a cute pattern with clear, excellent instructions: 

http://www.gina-michele.com/2016/02/toddler-kimono-sweater-knitting-pattern.html?m=1

Somewhere in the essence of my math-oriented brain, I must have realized that to use size 4 needles instead of the prescribed size 13 would render a finished length in proportion if I also kept to the number of stitches in the original pattern but reduced the length in rows to about one-third. This assumption was either intuition/experience or sheer dumb luck. 

I made the pink trial model accordingly, but it turned out pretty large for a Christmas ornament. (Unless you live in Texas, maybe.)

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Besides wanting to get the miniature a little smaller, I saw that the rate of slant on the front neck edges was too shallow. Instead of the less-than-45-degree angle you see above, I needed something closer to 45. Tweaking for these corrections, and going for buttonholes instead of crocheted ties, I got the result shown below. BTW, I absolutely stink at crochet. Even a simple chain stitch comes out pretty awful, as you can see on the pink sweater.

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HOW TO MAKE your Miniature Kimono Sweater

Approx. finished size 5.5” tall, 3.75” across at lower hem

First off, gauge is not highly important for this project. (Hooray!)

Second off, send a comment if you need any of my instructions clarified. I’ve used a number of abbreviations without explanation, such as “work a stitch f/b.”

BACK
With size 4 needles, c/o 24 sts. The alternate cable cast-on is recommended. It gives a nice, loopy/scalloped lower edge that is ideal when you’re starting off in ribbing. Work 3 or 4 rows single ribbing — IN CONTRASTING COLOR, optionally, then 1 row in stockinette stitch in CC then change to MC and work 17 rows in st st — or simply work 18 rows in st st if knitting the entire sweater in one color. Work should measure approximately 2 and 2/3″ from cast-on edge. End with a WS row.

 

BEGIN SLEEVES
RS: Using knitted c/o method, cast on 8 sts for sleeve, then knit entire row. (32)

WS: Using knitted c/o method, cast on 8 for other sleeve and work purl row. (40)

Continue in stockinette stitch until work measures 4.5″ from cast-on edge, ending with a WS row.

 

DIVIDE FOR FRONT SECTIONS
RS: Knit 14 and move these sts to scrap yarn or a stitch holder for right front. Attach a new yarn ball and bind off 12 sts for back neck; complete row in pattern. Illustration below shows right front stitches held on gray scrap yarn, back neck bound off (in center of photo), and left front continued as described in upcoming instructions.

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### – return to this point to complete right front, later
Work 3 rows on left front stitches, then begin increasing at front edge on a RS row. Important note: at this point, you have a choice between two methods of increasing at the front neck edge. Method I includes yarnover holes as a decorative detail. Method II does not.

Method I
Row A: Inc row (work a stitch f/b at edge, plus a yo next to that)
Row B: Inc row, as row A
Row C: Work 1 row with a yo within 2 sts of front edge, but DO NOT INCREASE the total # of sts:
For RS rows: k2, yo, k1 [into the previous row’s yo], k2tog, knit to end.
For WS rows: purl to last 5 sts; sl 1, p1, psso, p1, yo, p2. I went this route to avoid p2tog. Purling 2 together is a bit challenging, but it is required for Method II, and I actually prefer Method II for how it looks when completed. Sometimes, we just have to make ourselves do those difficult maneuvers.
Method II
Alternate (and simpler) neck edge increase without yarnover holes:
Row A: Increase by the f/b method in each of the 2 stitches closest to neck edge. If a RS row, knit f/b in each; if a WS row, purl f/b in each. For some rows, the increases will be at the start of the row; for others, they will be at the end of the row.
Row B: As row A
Row C: Work even

For either Method I or Method II, repeat rows A,B, and C until there are 28 sts, ending with a row A (a WS row). Then, work 1 row even.

Here’s a photo of my Instagram post (Method I neck edge) at this point. I was so tickled to have come up with a strategy to correct that slant after the pink attempt came out too shallow because I had increased on every row:

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Now, here is a photo of my current work in progress that shows Method II. After making several sweaters with yarnovers in the manner of the original toddler pattern I was mimicking, I decided the yarnover holes don’t show up decoratively on this miniature as much as I had expected them to.

later add to blog post of kimono miniature

 

BINDING OFF SLEEVE EDGE
On next row (WS), bind off 8 sts, then purl to end of row. (20)
Work in pat until piece measures approximately 9.25″** from cast-on edge OR until the front in progress lines up with sweater back (above ribbing) when sleeve seam edges are held together. OPTIONAL BUTTONHOLES: If working small buttonholes into the left front (for a “man’s” sweater closure), refer to instructions below while completing this section. However, buttonholes may be made in RIGHT FRONT instead, for a “woman’s” sweater.

When left front is long enough to match up with sweater back at the same point, begin single rib on a RS row, working same number of rows of ribbing as for sweater back. OR, having worked to needed length minus one row if using a contrasting color for ribbing, work 1 ROW st st in CC, plus the ribbing rows. Why the one row of stockinette in CC? I explain that a little farther down, under TIP.

**For me, in my gauge, completing the front after sleeve edge bind-off was approximately 15 more rows from this point, before changing color and starting the ribbing.

 

BUTTONHOLES
Work several small buttonholes, evenly spaced, on RS rows by binding off the 3rd stitch from the front edge and then casting it back on when purling the next row. In practical terms, this means: k4, lift 2nd loop over end stitch and off needle tip, knit to end. On next row, cast 1 stitch back on before purling the second-to-last stitch. Backward loop method may be the easiest way to do this.

Here’s how I suggest spacing either 5 or 3 buttonholes:

Row 1 is considered the first knit row after you complete the neck edge increases. Work buttonhole bind-off on rows 1, 5, 9, 13, 17 for 5 buttonholes (replacing the bound-off stitch on rows 2, 6, 10, 14, and 18, with 18 likely being in your first row of ribbing at the bottom). Or, work buttonhole bind-off on rows 3, 9, and 15 for 3 buttonholes, replacing each bound-off stitch on the following rows. For all other rows in this section, work even, in pattern.

On my blue and white sweater, my last “add back” row was a purl row worked with CC just before I changed to ribbing. It’s fine if the lowest buttonhole extends just into the ribbing.

TIP: when changing colors, I’ve found it looks better to do so NOT on the same row that you switch from ribbing to some other stitch or vice versa. The purl bumps tend to stand out awkwardly if there is a yarn color change at the same time.

After completing 3-4 rows of ribbing, ending with a RS row, bind off in Miraculous Elastic Bind-off with WS facing you. The pretty side of this bind-off is the side that faces away from you as you work.

I got so excited about figuring out where to place the buttonholes that I went ahead and did them in the left front, which supposedly makes this a male’s sweater (buttons on the right), but that’s perfectly fine, because this miniature is a Christmas ornament for a special family that includes a dad and a son.

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The buttonholes are pretty small (but that’s the fun of miniatures!), just one stitch bound off and then put back on the following row. In retrospect, I see there could have been a fifth buttonhole above these four. As I compose this post, I can’t wait to go button shopping! ;0-)

 

RIGHT FRONT
Slip stitches for right front from holder back onto needle, with yarn source on same end as needle tip. See point marked ### above and begin right front starting with a WS row: work 3 rows even, then begin increasing at neck edge in the same manner as for left front, reversing the shaping and omitting the “work 1 row even.” Note that sleeve edge will be bound off at the start of a RS row.

 

FINISHING

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Seam the sides, weave yarn ends in, and attach a button under each buttonhole. Or, work a chain stitch or narrow i-cord and attach to both sides of front for tie closure.

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Your completed mini kimono sweater will add a handmade touch to someone’s Christmas tree, and it just might dress up a doll or a small stuffed animal, too!

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This mini with edging in gold-colored Paton’s Classic Wool is one of my favorites so far!

 

Free knitting pattern: Lightning-Fast Roll-Brim Hat

bulky roll-brim hat original pattern

I wanted to call this project “7-11 Roll-Brim Hat,” but the trial run told me it would need to be “11-7” instead. Somehow, that just didn’t have the same punch.

This project was inspired by recent Instagram posts of knitted baby hats. I commented on one, asking what size needle was used. (The hat looked to be made with some hefty size, like 15 upwards.) The answer was “made with knitting loom.” Ah.

I don’t use a loom, so I pulled out my size 19 straight needles and some thick yarn, and I put my thinking cap on. My first effort suggested the name “Chunky sideways roll-brim hat.” It was 24 stitches, worked entirely in stockinette. The resulting tube was quite tall, requiring a REALLY BIG & FAT brim….roll, roll, and roll it up some more! (and expect your family to laugh when you model it) Too, the crown was wrong side out – too messy with all the color-change wrong-side rows. That’s why 7-11 didn’t work. I had started from the wrong end.

Back to the drawing board! #ifatfirstyoudontsucceed

The second version was much better. If you want a fast project for a Saturday afternoon or a sleepless night, try this:

Lightning-Fast Roll-Brim Hat (adult size)

Description
Hat is worked flat, side edge to side edge, on size 19 straight needles using 18 stitches (11 worked in garter stitch and the other 7 in stockinette stitch). Ending yarn tail can be used for seaming; or, work PROVISIONAL CAST-ON at the start and use THREE-NEEDLE BIND-OFF at the end. Note: if you’ve ever knitted a simple Christmas bell ornament flat, this is the same general construction approach:

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MATERIALS FOR HAT IN ADULT SIZE:

  • Size 19 straight needles
  • Optional: Extra needle size 19 or 17 for three-needle bind-off
  • Two different colors of thicker yarn like Lion brand Wool Ease “thick&quick” or 2 strands held together of Lion brand Jiffy or similar-weight novelty yarn like Deborah Norville Serenity Chunky Sprinkles. But hat can be made in one solid color if you prefer.
  • Yarn needle with large eye

BEGIN:
For standard cast-on, cast 18 stitches on size 19 needle, leaving a yarn tail of at least 18″ (for drawing up top of hat later).
For provisional cast-on, use scrap yarn and crochet hook to work 19 or 20 loops around size 19 knitting needle, plus an extra chain of several stitches off the needle. Secure chain loosely and cut scrap yarn away.

With color 1, knit 11 then purl 7 (into 18 of the the provisional cast-on loops if using that method; drop extra provisional loops off needle).

Next row: Knit all sts. Do not cut working yarn.

Row 3: Introduce color 2, knitting 11, purling 7.
Row 4: Knit all sts with color 2. Do not cut yarn.

Repeat first two rows, picking up and using color 1.

Repeat rows 3 and 4, picking up and using color 2.

Continue in this manner, alternating colors every two rows, keeping in garter stitch and stockinette stitch as established, until you have nine stripes of both colors (36 rows).

Work next row in pattern with color 1. Turn needle. Right side of stockinette section and wrong side of garter section should be facing you.

If standard cast-on was used, bind off with color 1. Secure and keep a yarn tail long enough for seaming. Note: by starting and ending with a stripe of the same color, the idea is that seaming will “use up and hide” half of each color 1 stripe, resulting in the look of one stripe uniform with the rest of the hat. Use large-eyed needle to seam hat. Secure and weave ends in. Now, thread yarn needle with starting tail and weave needle tip in and out of upper edge of hat (upper edge is garter stitch end) every 5/8″ to 3/4″. Pull up snugly. Secure. Weave all ends in and turn hat right side out. Roll stockinette brim up on outside.

If provisional cast-on was used: undo provisional cast-on and carefully place row of starting stitches on your spare needle from left to right, so both needles are facing the same direction. Remember that the first stitch may not be a full loop yet, depending on how you introduced color 1 into the scrap yarn at the start of row 1. If necessary, use a crochet hook to pull starting tail of color 1 through another loop of your work. Both needles now in your work should be facing the same direction and each should have 18 stitches on it. With the needle you just loaded held in back, use empty size 19 needle to work three-needle bind-off, continuing with color 1 as working yarn. Ending loop should be at garter stitch end (top of hat). Secure last stitch and keep a long enough yarn tail to thread through needle and draw up top of hat. See above paragraph for particulars. Weave yarn ends in and turn hat right side out. Roll stockinette brim up on outside.

Size Adjustments
My example hat fits me snugly. Add 2 more stripes if you want more width. Start with a few stitches more than 18 if you want more height. Sized as is, this would be a great pattern for someone without thick hair… a good gift for someone getting over temporary hair loss, perhaps.

Enjoy.

Murder, She Wrote; Growing Pains; and this needlecraft book

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In today’s title we have overwhelming proof that 1986 was a good year, and that’s without even adding that Jeff and I were married on April 19. Happy 31st anniversary, sweetie! 😘

I chose this 1986 sewing/knitting/crochet/needlecraft book at the home of a very, very nice friend when she was reassigning the ownership of sewing supplies that had belonged to her mother, a trained and talented seamstress. In short order, the pattern for “Loose and bulky jacket,” a garment made of 12 identical knitted squares, caught my interest.

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Here’s the photojournal of my effort, completed on April 15 – a day I’m surely glad I was finishing a knitting project instead of finishing my tax returns.

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Size 10 needles 🙂

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Ah, the pleasure of marking off the final row!

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12 wiggly squares worked on the diagonal. Can they be blocked into shape?

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Blocking isn’t my forte, but I did try.

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6 narrow strips of garter stitch trim required for finishing

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Above, the model photo. Below, mine. I didn’t choose a “bulky” yarn as recommended, but at least the color was very close. I started off with something I had on hand, but of course I had to buy more along the way – Lion brand Heartland, color name Grand Canyon. I like the color nuances, but the yarn’s limp texture and (lack of) durability seem, I’m sorry to say, too much like Simply Soft by Caron.

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Photo credit Jeff Lowery on the day before Easter, while we were running errands. If you don’t look too closely, you may miss how difficult I found it to

1. Block the pieces into true squares when increased and decreased edges didn’t have the same “give”

2. Seam squares together without creating the appearance of holes where stitches made on the diagonal had to be stretched in blocking (revisit item 1 & check my left shoulder in the photo)

3. Remember to seam the trim to the front edges on the other side in the areas where the front edges fold back 😩

Nevertheless…

It was a stimulating project; the jacket is warm (against the onslaught of the air-conditioning season); and I now have a size model to guide me if I decide to try a similar jacket made of squares or rectangles not knitted on the diagonal. NOTE TO SELF: the more pieces you start with, the more yarn ends you have to weave in at the end.

The longest ladder I’ve seen lately

A quick lesson in pulling a wrong-direction stitch out and repairing it using a crochet hook.

Ribbing is that neat-looking, stretchy edging that allows knitted cuffs and collars to stretch out and then spring back. When you are making ribbing, the “Golden Rule” is Knit the knits and purl the purls. Just go by what you did on the row before. It’s that simple. Usually. The problem with following what you did on the previous row is, what if you made a mistake on a previous previous row and didn’t catch it right away?

On the WIP you see here (WIP is short for work in progress), I accidentally switched to the wrong type of stitch 16 rows before I realized it. See how the wide rib of V-shaped stitches suddenly got too narrow? #oops

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What to do?

I’m glad you asked. Fortunately, this kind of knitting goof is very easily fixed – and without taking 16 rows of work out. In fact, you don’t have to lose any work at all, and very little time. (And here’s where the “ladder” comes in, in case you thought I was writing about painting tall buildings or about the way people used to sneak out to elope, as in that episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. I’m sure you know the one, with cast regular Ted Bessell, who also played “Donald” in That Girl. But, I digress. Enthusiastically.)

I took the loop in question off the left needle and gently pulled it loose from the loop below it, and that one from the loop below it, and so on, down to where the problem occurred – probably while I was watching When Calls the Heart or a marathon of Garage Sale Mysteries. And here’s what I ended up with:

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Those long, loose strands are sometimes made on purpose for a fashion statement. Clue: watch for the term “dropped stitch” or “drop stitch” in a garment’s or a pattern’s name.

Quick Fix

Now, see how easy it is to pull each loop back into place, placing the “purl bump” on the side where it is supposed to be. Got a crochet hook? Good. Let’s do this. #couldntbeeasier

Voila! We’re back on track. Only 50-something more rows to go, and this cabled pocket scarf will be finished.

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TIP TIME! “Weave in” shortcut

Let’s face it: it’s just annoying to be “finished” with an exciting new knitted item, only to have to “weave all ends in” before you’re really finished.

I had a great idea for how to work in the starting yarn tail, but I had to scrap it at the last minute. Instead of my idea, I offer you someone else’s tip instead. The basic maneuver you see in the linked video can be used to work your starting yarn tail in at the beginning of a project. Give it a try! I plan to. There’s always something fun and new to learn.

A bum steer narrowly avoided

I was all set to propose a different method of weaving the yarn tail in, which is illustrated in the following pictures and video. However, I realized (thanks be to God!) about 24 hours before this post was scheduled to be published that my idea basically turned the yarn tail into a working yarn, and its loose end would still need to be worked in to secure it against the possibility of unraveling. Shucks – I was really proud of my post draft and my video! So, I’m going ahead and publishing it, with edits, to show that not all of my ideas are brilliant and foolproof. Just most of them… 🙂

If you get through the rest of this article, you’ll actually see in my video and the comments below it some valid information that’s not directly related to working a yarn tail in. Hooray! Some salvage accomplished.

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I used the “knitted cast on” method. So, before I begin, the yarn tail is at one end and the working yarn is at the other. If I had used the long tail cast on, both yarns would be at the pointed end of the needle and I could start this shortcut tip right away. As it is, I will knit one row with the working yarn and then proceed. Note: this holds true for the valid weave-in tip shown in the Youtube video linked above. When both yarns are on the same end, you should be able to wrap the tail around the needle along with the working yarn, and you won’t have the issue of “showing through” that’s mentioned in the video – because all of your yarn is the same color here.

 

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For purposes of illustration only, I have colored the yarn tail with a marker so it will stand out in later photographs.

 

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Above, I have knitted one row with the working yarn. Now, the working yarn and the tail are at the same end of the needle, and I can begin a weave-in shortcut. I hasten to add, some patterns will instruct you to leave a starting tail of a certain length to use to stitch a seam later on. In a case like that, of course you should follow your instructions and not use a shortcut for weaving in as you go.

In the video below, I am knitting with the tail and the working yarn alternately – using a different yarn source for every other stitch, switching back and forth between them until the tail runs out. Make sense? I thought it did until I realized I had turned the tail into a second “working yarn.” Boo. #fail

Again, although this doesn’t work in the way I started out to prove, holding one yarn source above and the other below prevents the yarn source strands from continually crossing over one another and creating a thick spiral. That is the same approach I take when working “Fair Isle” or other multicolor motifs, as in the hat, boot toppers, and headband shown below. Here is a site that offers some multicolor stitch designs. And be sure to check out more of my knitting pictures in the Picture Gallery or on Instagram. Find me by the handle hiyabets.

 

NOTE: In my video, you’ll also see evidence of my propped-needle knitting method! Years ago, I found this was the easiest way for me to succeed at knitting, especially with standard, straight needles. Propping the right-hand needle against my body or between my knees allows me a lot of freedom to manipulate the work (with my left hand) and the yarn (with my right hand), as well as to grip and move loops as needed sometimes for special stitches like “purl 2 together.” Really amazing knitters seem able to work that needle tip through loops deftly in all directions. Average but determined knitters like me find ways to “cheat” with our fingertips. #ifitworksitsnotwrong

1-hour garter stitch tissue pack cover

 

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Knit this easy project on a weekend morning or a long lunch hour for a cute accessory or a “little gift” for a special friend!

This is a simple, rectangular, beginning knitting project using the added skills of seaming with a yarn needle and attaching a button for a simple closure that uses a space between stitches as a ready-made buttonhole.

Suggested yarn: sturdy worsted weight or cotton cord. Variegated is a good option. Yarn shown in illustrations is a “denim look” cotton.

NEEDLES AND GAUGE
With size U.S. 9 needles, cast on 18 sts or number needed to make a width of 5” in your gauge. Long tail cast-on is recommended – and leave enough of a yarn tail for easy seaming later. (Smaller sizes of needles – down to size 6 – are fine, so long as the piece worked is 5” wide. Size 9 will go faster!) TIP: If you need to, use the picture below to practice counting how many stitches were used in a knitted piece. Look only at the loops forming the top of one ridge, and you should easily count 18 of them from the left edge to the right. Being able to do this accurately helps you to figure out how to make something when you have only pictures to go by! #smartknitter

KNITTING THE RECTANGLE
Knit every row until piece measures 5.5” from cast-on edge.

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LEARN A NEW BIND-OFF METHOD?
Bind off all sts, keeping a yarn tail long enough for sewing ends together (18″ – 24″). Recommended bind-off method is a “knit 2 together bind-off.” Different tutorials go about this different ways, but the end result is an edge that doesn’t pull up tight the way passing the lower stitch over the end stitch does in the simple bind-off many knitters learn first. I knit 2 sts, then knit those same two off the right needle together as one; then I knit another stitch from the left needle and continue in the same manner. (This may be the long way of working a k2tog TBL* off the left needle.)

The k2tog bind-off leaves an edge the same width as your work, rather than being tighter! And, if you can work it out this way, bind off so the ending yarn tail is on the opposite side of your piece as the starting yarn tail, and you’ll have the “sewing thread” you need all handy on each end without having to attach another piece of yarn, which would leave more ends to weave in. TIP: Always look for patterns (or make up your own) that give you the smallest possible number of loose ends to weave in when you’re done! Another tip: on a project like this one, you can also “cheat” a little by tacking down the very end of woven-in yarn with a dot of hot glue.

SEAMING
Fold piece in half, lining up the cast-on edge and the bound-off edge together. Mark the fold as the midpoint at top and bottom, using a safety pin or straight pin.

Now, fold each edge in to the midpoint, creating the look of an envelope or a coin purse with a center, slit opening. Using a plastic yarn needle, stitch in and out at each end to secure. Stitch a second time for a stronger seam. Right-hand illustration below shows the lower end’s seaming complete and the upper edges partially turned in to begin the same process on that end.

 

Weave all ends in invisibly. Turn cover right side out.

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FINISHING
Choose a shank-type button approximately 3/8” to ½” in diameter, or whatever size just fits through a hole between your stitches. Use regular sewing thread and sewing needle to attach button to center of cover on one side. Insert a package of 10 folded tissues and push button through a hole between stitches on the other side to secure. You want the cover to fit pretty snugly over a full pack of tissues so it won’t be way too loose as the ten tissues diminish down to one over time.

 

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*k2tog TBL means “knit 2 together through the back loop”

TIP TIME! Try cable needle one size larger

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Two stitches held forward on size 7 double-pointed needle; project is being worked on size 6 needles.

Oh, the excitement of trying a new stitch! Involve the word “cable,” and you really have enthused the avid knitter.

While much of my top-secret Christmas gift items are employing colorful “Fair Isle” motifs, I decided to step out and try a solid color with a cable design. Turning to the little book I still thank my sweet coworker Lynn Stewart for giving me that year she drew my name for the office gift exchange, Field Guide to Knitting, I chose a cable ribbing stitch. It looked only slightly daunting in spite of the fact that I had to convert purls to knits in order to work the design in the round. #iloveachallenge

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So, what’s the TIP here?

The whole idea of cables is to make a twist in the fabric by knitting several stitches out of order, every so many rows. To do this, you have to use a separate needle to hold some loops either forward or back, temporarily, while you work others. I found that my mother’s vintage set of Susan Bates metal size 6 DPNs were a bit slippery. The cable needle tended to fall out of the two held stitches and clatter to the floor, or to that abyss between the seats in the car. #disaster

Of course, it was AFTER I’d finished the entire cable section of the mystery item pictured above that I hit on a solution. Using a bamboo needle gives a little more resistance against the yarn than a metal needle does. Unfortunately, I don’t own any bamboo DPNs in size 6, but – eureka! – I do have a set of size sevens. Moving up one needle size will not stretch the held stitches to any degree for the short amount of time they are on that needle, and if the fit is a little tighter, it will cut down on the tendency of the spare needle to slide out of the stitches while that bit is just hanging there because your hands are employed with the work behind them.

See that otherwise very useful, size 6 green needle just sliding right out of these two stitches I’m holding in front while I work with circular needles of the same size:

Any time you drop a stitch off the needle accidentally, yarn loops typically will hold together until you can slide the needle back into the stitches, but occasionally a loop will come out and you will have a problem that must be fixed. Too, some yarns are just so darned ornery that the little strands will instantly move out of place, making it difficult to insert the needle tip precisely where it needs to go.

P.S.

Fear not cable knitting! My daughter made a beautiful red scarf a few years ago with a huge cable twist running right down the middle, and she definitely is a “beginning knitter.” I must remember to ask her if I can borrow that scarf for a special occasion or two during Christmas.
Social Media “spoiler alert”…Working on gifts at “Santa’s Workshop” in November and December has really challenged my self-control. I want to post my progress on Instagram without spoiling surprises, so I have “snuck in” a few close-ups here and there, hoping it won’t be apparent what I am knitting. (“Fair Isle” is just too beautiful not to share…) Please check out my Instagram account @hiyabets AFTER Christmas for more pictures! Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek:
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Proud to be included in local exhibit this month!


I am privileged to have several items on display with Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild during September at Homewood Public Library. Please get by there this month to see all of the guild members’ beautiful work! There are exquisite shoulder wraps, wall art, stitchery, hand-dyed items…so much more than the simple things I knit.

I knitted and felted a 2-tone wool bowl specifically for this occasion (pictured above at left). Also displayed is a vertical-stripe self-fringing “shawlette” (pictured above, third from left) featured in a separate post on this site. My large, felted tote bag from last fall is there, in orange with stripes of taupe and jade, as well as two of the Vestavia Hills Baptist Church summer “Arts on the Mountain Children’s Camp” projects: felt balls and hand-sewn doll. My doll, Sylvia, is wearing the wool garter-stitch tunic I made in miniature from Claire Kapstein’s children’s pattern (an unrelated project that just happened to fit the doll very well). That adventure is chronicled here.

Homewood Public Library is open every day: 9 to 9 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; 9 to 6 on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; and 2 to 6 on Sunday. Enjoy the exhibit!

Tunic at the start_VIVIFY

P.S. I am also entering four knitted items in Shelby County Fair the first week of October in Columbiana, Alabama:

Wish me luck! #INeedMoreBlueRibbons

I definitely will post a Fair update here once the event opens and the ribbons are distributed on Monday, October 3. I am entering a number of photographs, too.