Wednesday, October 31, 2012


As I sat down with the unfinished cozy to write instructions for the seam, I realized that it's in black yarn. Nobody, myself included, would be happy if I tried to demonstrate seaming on a black sample, so I made a couple of quick swatches in orange and white. If you want to practice on them first, here are the chart and written instructions. You'll need two since they are too narrow to roll into a tube. A hint: If, as you're changing colors, you always pick up one color to the front of the other and the second color to the back, you will get less tangling than if you always pick up the new color underneath the old. (This, of course, doesn't apply to intarsia knitting which requires twisting the colors to avoid holes.) I always picked up the orange to the front and the white to the back.

Remember to slip all stitches with the yarn to the wrong side of the pieces.

Cast on 10 stitches in white.
Row 1: K10 white.
Join Orange.
Row 2: (K1 orange, sl1 white) 4X.  K2 orange.
Row 3: K2 orange, (sl1 white, k1 orange) 4 X.
Rows 4 & 5: K10 white.
Row 6: K2 orange, (sl1 white, k1 orange) 4 X.
Row 7: (K1 orange, sl1 white) 4X. K2  orange.
Rows 8 & 9: K10 white.

Repeat Rows 2 - 9 as many times as you want; my swatches have 9 rows of orange spots. On the last repeat, Row 9 is bound off in knit. When you cut the tails, remember to leave one of the tails long enough to sew the seam.

Thread a tapestry needle with the long white tail. Hold the second swatch to its right. (Remember to have both pieces with the front side forward and the bound off edges to the top. Tilt the pieces a bit towards you. You'll see that the bind-offs look like chains of stitches. Take the needle back to front under the first full chain on the right-hand piece then back to the left-hand piece, into the last chain there and under the front strand of that chain. The tail is now in position to sew the seam which is worked on the outside of the piece.

Now, I wouldn't be me if I didn't get a little annoyed by that little loop of orange that is sitting there. I turn to the wrong side and pull the strand a bit with the point of the tapestry needle. This will pretty much get it hidden.

Now we're ready to do the seam. Since the first and last stitches on every row are knit, the selvedges are basically garter stitch. As you know, a garter stitch fabric has nubby ridges. The upper part of the ridge is made up of the heads of stitches in one row; the lower part is made up of the threads running between the stitches of the next row. These two elements are offset from each other by half. By stitching under a stitch head and then under a running thread on the other side of the seam, we bring the two strands together in the same positions as on a continuous row of garter stitch. The colors in the diagram show how rows are supposed to line up.

Now, the fly in the ointment: this is not exactly garter stitch, For one, we have alternate colors being carried up the selvedge on the left hand side of the seam. This has a tendency to distort the stitches, forcing the heads into a bit of a slant. When in doubt, check for the stitch next to it and the running thread between them.

The other issue is shown in the bright pink in the diagram: when the running thread is next to a slipped stitch, the running thread tends to disappear. Once you are aware of this problem, it's an easy fix; just use the tip of your needle to push the slipped stitch a little out of the way

Every now and then as you're stitching, pull the threaded needle up and away from the direction you're working. This will snug the strands together without making the seam too tight.

When you get to the end of the seam, close up the cast-on chain as for the bind-off, but now make sure that the tail ends up on the inside. Secure and darn in all the ends.

And here is the finished seam. As you can see, the seam is visible on the right side only because of the color pattern. If this was in one color, or even in two-color stripes, it would be completely invisible.

Until next time.

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