Friday, August 31, 2012

Ripple Ribbing

I got swamped this week and wasn't able to prepare what I had planned, so let me share another original stitch pattern with you.

Ripple Ribbing

CN:  Cable needle
LN: Left needle
RN: Right needle
WS: Wrong side
Left Yarnover Cross (LYC): Sl 1 to RN, sl 1 to CN and hold in front, return sl st to LN, k2tog, yo, k1 from CN.
Right Yarnover Cross (RYC): Sl 1 to CN and hold in back, k1, yo, sl st from CN k-wise and return to LN in this position without removing RN. Insert RN into back of second st and k2tog from this position.

Cast on a multiple of 5 sts + 2

Rows 1 & 3 (WS): (K2, p3) until 2 sts rem, p2.
Row 2: P2, (LYC, p2) across.
Row 4: P2, (RYC, p2) across.

Bind off in pattern on WS.

Until next time.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Okay, that's more like it!

This is how the correct pattern looks! I'm very pleased with how the points of the color pattern line up, but it was just not feasible to get every stitch in the pickup rows perfectly aligned. I blocked the swatch by pinning the center line first; this helped finesse the alignment. (As an aside, careful blocking would also help keep a pattern from going out of alignment.)
Well, that's about as far as I'm going to push Spine Rib and Spine Stitch for now, unless anyone has any suggestions they'd like me to try out. My next subject will be a topic I taught about many years ago: "The Four-Direction Sweater."  It has the same premise as the swatch above, ie. working in both directions from the center out. I think it's a natural progression.

Until next time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Not a Mistake, It's a Design Feature

All the way back in Post #2, I mentioned the notion of opposing stripes. The illustration I used was just one of my photos duplicated, flipped, and merged with the original. Alas, it is not that simple with yarn and needles.

If you've ever tried to use a provisional (invisible) cast-on on a ribbed project, you're anticipating what I'm about to say: vertical patterns do not line up.

A provisional cast-on is really just a squiggle. The loops in one direction are half a stitch off from the loops in the other direction.

In Stockinette Stitch, this is not really a problem. The only time there will be an issue is when you're picking up stitches or seaming along an edge. To avoid a jog, you would go in a full stitch in one part and a stitch and a half in the other.

You can see the problem, though, in the ribbing diagram. Those knits (in green) and  purls (in orange) are just not going to line up with each other. This problem will hold for just about any stitch pattern you use.

The easiest way to fix this is by using a permanent cast-on such as a long-tail cast-on. When you're ready to go in the second direction, pick up a stitch in each cast-on space, which is directly opposite to the original stitch. It is not "invisible", but is very tidy, and is especially good for shoulder seams which can use the extra stability.

Another way to go is to work a four stitch I-cord to the length you need and pick up stitches underneath both strands of a column of stitches according to your stitch gauge for the pattern you are about to start. To work the other side of the project, pick up stitches under the two strands of the column of stitches directly opposite the first one. You'll want to take a little bit of care that the new set of stitches is opposite the old one, but in any case, it will line up better than using a provisional cast-on. The result is a column of stitches on one side (I prefer this for the right side) and a prominent welt on the other.

And here is the photo!

Now, back to the title of this post. The pattern in this swatch is clearly not the same as in the concept picture above. What happened?  The yarn and needles were the same and I double-checked the pattern. I was baffled. Then in one of those insights that comes too late, I realized that in the swatch up top, I changed to the contrast color on Row 2; in the one to the right, I changed on Row 1. The moral of the story is "Write everything down!" (I owe you all a swatch.)

Until next time.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gilding the Lily

There's a decorative little embroidery stitch called "Pekingese Stitch" (also spelled Pekinese). It's composed of a line of backstitches that are then interlaced with a second thread. (This is a good page to look at, and it has a link to another page with some yummy eye candy!)

On Spine Rib, the half-stitch edges of the ribs can serve as the backstitching to be embellished. I've used a contrast color of the same wool, but you can choose almost anything that serves your purpose. (As always, the materials need to be colorfast and compatible for cleaning. You'll also want to make sure that the second yarn can be pulled under the strands without damage.)

With the work held sideways and the edge of the rib closer to you than the center, join at the left hand edge. Skip one half stitch. Bring your threaded needle, pointing away from you, under the next half stitch. You'll be taking the needle under the strand only; it will not go to the wrong side of the knitting. For the second step, point the needle towards yourself and bring it under the skipped strand. Gently tighten the stitch. Skip to the first empty strand and repeat across. From the second stitch onward, the second step will go into spaces that already have been used, so try not to split the yarn.

(This is how righties do it. I'm very strongly right-handed, so I can't really judge for lefties, but there is a book called The Left-Handed Embroiderer's Companion.  A bit of eye candy on this site as well.)

Now, how to use this technique? It does change the lacy character of the knitting, so you'd probably want to use it only on objects that need to be more solid. Imagine red and green contrast yarns for a Christmas stocking. In this case, I'd work the Spine Rib on needles that are slightly small for the yarn; it will help the stocking hold its shape better. Since the edges on two adjacent ribs are closer together than the two edges of a single rib, I'd use one color for the adjacent edges of two ribs and another color for the remaining edge of one rib and the adjacent edge of the next.

Another idea would be for a project to be fulled (felted). In this case, you would use loosely spun yarns and knit loosely as well.

Until next time.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Side Selvedges

When you're working with a pattern stitch like Spine Rib,  you don't want to use a fussy edging; the competition between the main work and the edge will do justice to neither. An interesting method is to form a hem by turning the selvedge under and stitching it into place

To prepare the edges for Spine Rib, I added two stitches of stockinette to either side of my work. I slipped the first stitch knit-wise on the right side and knit the other three. I slipped the first stitch purl-wise on the wrong side and purled the other three.

 Now, there are two ways to do the hem. The first one produces a very narrow hem that highlights the purl columns of the rib. Turn to the wrong side and take a threaded tapestry needle under the left hand leg of the right hand knit stitch then under both strands of the slipped edge stitch. Repeat this up the side, every other row on the column of knits and every row for the slipped side stitches. I've indicated where the piece has to fold but it most likely will happen naturally; there is no need to purposely fold it. The diagram shows the right hand edge; the left edge is worked similarly.

The second method produces a wider hem that highlights the patterning itself.  Turn to the wrong side. Take the tapestry needle under both strands of the slipped selvedge stitch, then over everything (including the three patterning stitches) and under the left hand leg of the first knit stitch you encounter. Continue up, skipping every other knit stitch in the column as for the narrow hem. The diagram shows the left hand side of of the swatch; the right hand edge is worked similarly. This hem is actually wide enough to us as a casing for a drawstring or something similar.

And here is the finished result! The narrow hem is to the right and the wider hem is to the left.

Until next time!