Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Bind Off (Traditionally)

Back to Basics :: Day Seven

Since today is the last installment in my Back to Basics series I thought it was only right to end with a bind off tutorial. This is the basics of the basics, something every knitter needs to know how to do (unless you want to wear a scarf with a needle attached to your neck). There are many different ways of binding off, this is just one version.

To start your bind off row, knit two stitches onto your needle. 

Use your left needle to pick up the first stitch on your
right needle and bring it over the needle... this.

You are now left with one stitch on your right
needle, and one stitch is bound off.

Next, knit one stitch so you again have two stitches on your right needle. Repeat the carry-over process. Continue this all the way down the row until only one stitch remains on your right needle (and none  on your left). When one stitch is left, cut your yarn leaving a 3-4" tail and pull your needle away from the piece (this motion will automatically tie the tail). Next weave in ends. You're DONE! 

And as for this cute little nub, I think it'll make a great bookmark...

How to KFB and SSK

Back to Basics :: Day Six

Unfortunately I wasn't able to keep up with my goal of one post a day, final exams are next week and I've been really busy with school work. BUTTTT to make up for it, I'll be posting twice today :) Most basic patterns usually call for knitting and purling, but as you start taking on more difficult patterns, many will call for increases and decreases. Today I've decided to explain two techniques that I found very hard at first to do. One is the knit front and back (KFB) which is an increase stitch, the other is the slip slip knit (SSK) which is a decrease. A lot of the time patterns will call for easier methods such as yarn over and knit two together, but I've decided to post photo instructions on two methods that aren't always well explained.

Increase Method: KFB

Note: you only need one stitch to work this increase.

Start by knitting into the stitch.

Instead of slipping the stitch onto the right needle and off
the left needle like usual,  keep the stitch on both needles.

Being careful not to let the stitch off your needle, knit into the same stitch on
your left needle again but on the backside of the stitch.

Knit that stitch and then slide the 2 new stitches onto your right needle.
You have now increased from 1 to 2 stitches!

Decrease Method: SSK

Note: you will need to work with two stitches for this decrease.

Slip one stitch off your left needle purlwise to the right needle.

Slip the next stitch just like the previous.

Insert your left needle downward into the two stitches you just slipped.

Wrap your yarn around the right needle and knit the two stitches together.
You now have one stitch!

SSK and KFB can be two intimidating methods, the letters alone make it sound complex but if you take your time and think about what you're doing I promise this is a sure way to increase and decrease your stitch counts!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to Knit the (Double Yarn) Seed Stitch

Back to Basics :: Day Five

For today, I will be demonstrating the seed stitch, knit with two yarns at once. Knitting with two yarns at once is totally optional, I just like how the white and purple contrast each other for the little knots the stitch creates.

Tip: New to knitting with multiple yarns? When knitting with two yarns at once, hold both colors together and treat them as one string.

To start, cast on any even number of stitches (if you are knitting with two yarns, just hold them together as you cast on so they both are placed on the needle).

I casted on 16 stitches. Use any even number.

Row 1: *K, P*

Start the row by knitting one.

After knitting one, purl one. 

Row 2: *P, K*

Simply repeat these two rows for the entire length of your piece. 

After a couple rows it will start to look like this....

Tip: Put down your needles mid-row and can't remember which stitch is next? Look at the next stitch on your left needle, if there is a bump on the look, KNIT; if there is no immediate bump, PURL (note this is opposite of usual knitting rules).

This pattern creates a great thick piece that's full of texture. I'd recommend this if you're making a washcloth or scrubby pad. 

This pattern creates lots of little "seed" bumps.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Add a Cable to Your Knitting

Back to Basics :: Day Four

Adding cablework to your knitting is a great way to accent a piece or make an otherwise plain-jane stitch look elegant and complicated. For this demonstration, you will need yarn, needles and a cable needle. Cable needles come in several sizes and can be bought from JoAnn, AC Moore, Walmart, etc for less than $4. If you have a double pointed needle that also works great.

For my sample, I will be working on a reverse stockinette background (the "wrong" side of stockinette) because I think it accents the the cable well.

I casted on 24 stitches.

Row 1-2: K

Row 3: K2, P5, K10, P5, K2

Row 4: K2, K5, P10, K5, K2

Row 5: K2, P5, C10F, P5, K2
Transfer 5 stitches onto cable needle, pull forward.

Knit 5 stitches from working needle while holding cable needle forward.

NOTE: C10F= transfer 5 stitches purlwise onto the cable needle, move the cable needle forward, continue to knit 5 stitches from working needle, then knit the 5 stitches on the cable needle

Row 6: K2, K5, P10, K5, K2

Row 7: K2, P5, K10, P5, K2

Row 8: K2, K5, P10, K5, K2

Row 9: K2, P5, K10, P5, K2

Row 10: K2, K5, P10, K5, K2

Repeat rows 3-10 for your desired length, and end your piece with 2 extra rows of K to complete the border.  

After a few repeats of the pattern, your piece will look like this....

Enjoy :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How to Cast On Using the Long Tail Method

Back to Basics :: Day Three

Getting down to the real (k)nitty-gritty basics of knitting, here are instructions for the long tail cast on. I love this cast on method because it is a never-fail method that can be done very quickly with practice. For new knitters, the motions might seem a bit awkward at first or you may not leave enough of a tail to work with, but just practice-- it will get better (I promise!) This is my favorite go-to for casting on.

Ok, you caught me, I'm using the super cheap
Red Heart yarn... so what?!

Step 1: Make a slip knot.
(Yep, that Girl Scout badge on knot tying is
finally coming in handy!)

NOTE: When creating the slip knot, leave enough yarn at the tail end to use for casting on. An easy way to estimate this is to wrap the tail around your needle 1.5x the number of stitches you need to cast on.

Step 2: Slip the knot onto your needle, pulling to secure it
 (should be tight so there aren't any gaps, but not so
tight that it can't move along the needle).

Step 3: Grab the tail end (end not attached to ball of yarn)
with left hand and wrap around thumb and pointer finger,
holding tail in palm of hand.

Step 4: Lower left hand and angle fingers toward the floor,
swinging needle in right hand under loop in left hand (see arrow.)
So it looks like this...

Step 5: Still keeping left fingers around original loop, grab
working yarn (attached to ball) and wrap clockwise
around needle, passing over original loop.

Step 6: Slide left fingers out of loop and slip the original loop up and
over the needle (and over the new wrap you did in step 5).

Step 7: Pull on tail of yarn until the loop is secured around the needle.
Again, there shouldn't be any gaps around the loop and needle, but the casted
 on stitches should be able to easily move on needle. Repeat these 7 steps
until your desired number of stitches

This method for casting on is widely accepted and used, and I use it for all my projects unless otherwise instructed. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to Knit the Slip Stitch Rib

Back to Basics :: Day Two

For day 2 of my Back to Basics series I'll be demonstrating the slip stitch rib. For this stitch, you will need to know how to purl, knit, and slip one purlwise (as if you are going to purl but then just slip the stitch).

This pattern calls for multiples of 5+2, I casted on 27 using worsted weight and size 8 needles.

Row 1: P2, *K1, S1P (slip one purlwise), K1, P2*   (repeat between asterisks until end of the row)

Row 1: Purl 2

Row 1: After purling 2 and knitting 1, slip 1 stitch as if to purl
(yarn in front)

Row 2: K2, *P3, K2*

Repeat these two rows until the end of your piece.
After a few rows, your piece will start to look like this....

Right Side
Wrong Side

This stitch pattern is great for cuffs or brims because it creates such a thick, squishy fabric. Personally, I like the "wrong side" of the pattern better than the "right side" and have used the wrong side for several different hat brims. This is a great pattern for beginners to practice slipping stitches and the alternating rows allow for easy memorization.

Need some practice in slipping? Try out this pattern! Stay tuned for tomorrow's next installment in Back to Basics.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How to Knit the Checker Board Stitch

Back to Basics Week :: Day One

I've decided to go back to the basics and share with you all some of my favorite patterns that can be used for endless pieces and projects. When I first started knitting I thought there was only knitting and purling, and the occasional stockinette. But learning how to knit and purl is just the beginning... mastering these two motions allows for manipulation into just about any design or image.

Being able to visualize an end product before it's even started is quite challenging, and my mind is definitely not built that way though I still push myself to be able to. This week I'm going to post a new stitch pattern every day; the patterns I'll post are some of my favorites and really helped develop my coordination as a knitter and visualization as a young designer. Today, I'll share with you the checker board stitch, a repeat pattern that is reversible (always love these!!) and is very easy once a rhythm is established.

To start, pick any corresponding set of needles and yarn. I used worsted weight and size 8 needles. For this pattern, cast on in multiples of 6 + 3 (9, 15, 21, etc....). I casted on 21 and used the long tail cast on method (although your favorite method will also work).

Row 1: Purl 3, *Knit 3, Purl 3*  (repeat between asterisks until the end of your row)

Row 1: Start the pattern by purling 3
(make sure yarn is in front) 

Row 1: After purling 3, start the repeat by knitting 3
(make sure yarn is in back)

Row 2: K3, *P3, K3*

Row 3: P3, *K3, P3*

Row 4: K3, *P3, K3*

Row 5: K3, *P3, K3*     <--- change up here, be sure to pay attention!!

Row 6: P3, *K3, P3*

Row 7: K3, *P3, K3*

Row 8: P3, *K3, P3*

After repeating the 8 rows a couple times, your piece will start to look like this:

Suggestions for newer knitters: This is a great pattern to practice purling and moving your yarn forward/backward when switching from purling to knitting. If you ever put down your work mid-row and can't remember what your next stitch should be, just look at the stitch ahead of you. If your next stitch has a bump in the yarn, that means you should purl; if there is no immediate bump on the loop that means you should knit (UNLESS you are at row 4 or 8 of the pattern, then do the opposite).

I hope you all enjoy this pattern, check back tomorrow for the next installment in my Back to Basics series!

Monday, April 15, 2013

FO Friday.. Sort Of

I finally finished my "X" hat, the pattern I was dared to complete from the rav group "Calling All Knitters". Overall I'm okay with this FO (which I actually finished Friday but haven't gotten a chance till now to blog about it)... it's definitely not my favorite hat but I'm glad I was able to learn a new skill from it (increase from 3 to 5).

I swatched before I knitted this hat because I wanted to use my size 11 circulars and worsted weight yarn and was too afraid to just wing it considering the pattern called for DK yarn and small circulars. Although this hat came out as a slouchy beanie, it wasn't supposed to. Even with swatching I overestimated the stitches, but I actually like the shape it turned out to be (and hey, life's all about rolling with the punches, right?).

If anyone wants to try out the Xeranthemum hat, the pattern can be downloaded for free here :) I'd recommend this pattern not for the finished product but for practice with different and unusual techniques (such as the 3 to 5 increase that creates the "flower petals" on the hat).