Friday, October 16, 2015

How to Seam the Cup Cozy

First order of business: I edited the cozy instructions in the previous post to make them a bit clearer. If you've been having a problem, take a look there!

Thread the long MC tail into a yarn needle. Hold the sides together so that the cozy is right-side out. Pass the needle under both strands of the first whole stitch across the gap and back down into the final bound-off stitch. Voila! The bind-off row looks completely continuous and the yarn is now on the outside of the work. (I use this technique to finish anything that should be round. I often use crochet slip stitch as the finishing touch on projects and the first and last stitches of that can be joined like this as well.)

The next step is to take the needle under the head of the edge stitch on the left. This stitch is often distorted and the head may look vertical. If you look closely, though, you'll see that it is indeed the stitch. Cross the gap and go under the running thread between the first and second stitches on the right. Steps 3 & 4 repeat Steps 1 & 2, but from here on down the stitch heads will be obvious.

For clarity, I kept the edges in the diagram apart but, of course, they will be coming together as you seam. Pull the yarn tightly enough that the rows look continuous but not so tightly that the seam shortens. (This is a bit of a balancing act.)

When all the rows are joined, turn the cozy upside down. The threaded needle will be on the left of the gap. Take it under the outer strand of  the nearest cast-on chain. Cross the gap and take the needle from outside to inside under both strands of a chain stitch. (If the first stitch is not obvious, use the second stitch.) Cross the gap again and take the needle down into the stitch with the one strand coming out of it. This makes the cast-on look continuous and puts the tail on the inside where it can be secured and darned in. Secure and darn in the remaining tails, turn the cozy right-side out, and enjoy!

Until next time . . .

Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Basic Cozy Pattern

A number of years ago, I made myself a sewn cup cozy from directions in a magazine. I then sewed two more for friends, but when the requests really started coming in, I knew I had to come up with a knit pattern.

Since then I have made DOZENS of these cozies. They are great fillers between major projects or when my current project is too big or complicated to carry around. The pattern is easily memorized and they use up leftover yarn. (Or they would if I didn't keep going out and buying new yarn!)

I discovered early on that these were not going to be a real good money-maker, so I decided to give them away as random acts of kindness (though it's not really random if  you've asked the recipients in advance what colors they prefer).

The pattern calls for medium-weight yarn as indicated by the number 4 symbol on the yarn wrapper. This symbol, though, encompasses quite a range of actual thicknesses. I usually use Vanna's Choice or Vanna's Choice Baby (which refers to the colors and not the weight). I've substituted Red Heart Soft Yarn or Caron Simply Soft on occasion when I've needed different colors, though both are lighter in weight. Of course, you can hold thin yarns together or use a heavier yarn with fewer stitches and rows.

At any rate, the most important characteristic for the yarn is it should be WASHABLE. It will get spilled on.

Size/Gauge: The cozy is about 4" tall and about 7.5" wide before seaming. This corresponds to 38 rows (including cast-on and bind-off) and 37 sts. Obviously, exact size and gauge are not critical for a project like this but it's based on garter stitch, so when in doubt make it a little snug.

US 5 (3.75 mm) needles (or size needed to achieve gauge)
F-5 (3.75 mm) crochet hook (metric size matches needle metric size) 
About 18 yds. main color (MC) yarn 
About 17 yds. total one or more colors contrast color (CC) yarn
Six stitch markers
Darning needle 

pm: place marker
sm: slip marker
wyib: with yarn in back
wyif: with yarn in front 

I like using a cast-on that matches the bind-off. I call this "chain cast-on", though you'll probably find other names for it. You can find a video that explains it here. I work it very firmly so that the cozy becomes slightly tapered. If you know you're making the cozies for cans rather than cups, you can start out at a more normal tension.

Row 1 (Right Side): With MC, cast 37 sts onto a US 5 (3.75 mm) needle using a size F-5 (3.75 mm) crochet hook.
Row 2: K3, (pm, p1, k5) 5 times, pm, p1, k3.
Row 3: Join CC. K3, sl1 wyib, (sm, k5, sl1 wyib), sm, k3.
Row 4: K3, (sm, sl1 wyif, k5) 5 times, sm, sl1 wyif, k3.
Row 5: With MC, k37.
Row 6: K3, (sm, p1, k5) 5 times, sm, p1, k3.
Rows 7 - 37: Continue in established pattern, changing color at the beginning of every RS row.
Row 38: Bind off in MC in established pattern. (This means that the vertical stripes are bound off in purl and all the other stitches are bound off in knit.) 

Cut yarn with a tail of about 12" of MC to use for seaming.

Until I draw the diagrams for finishing,  I'm going to send you back to the post I wrote for seaming the Jack-o-lantern cup cozy I published in October 2012. While the two seams are a bit different, this will get you started!

 Until next time . . .

Monday, July 20, 2015

A New Published Design

My latest design is in the Summer issue of Knitter's Magazine! It's a lacy counterpane called "Circle the Square". You can see its Ravelry page here.

Any large project is a labor of love, but this one goes more quickly than most. It's in worsted weight yarn (yummy yummy Berroco Ultra Alpaca) on US7 (4.5 mm) needles. Also, the lace pattern has a very clear logic so it's easy to move through. I do hope you'll check it out!

Until next time . . .

Monday, June 22, 2015

Look at THIS!

This is what happens when Crimped Stitch #3 is made as an offset pattern! It's better than I could ever imagine! The wrong side is very similar to the right side, so it should be good for reversible items. Here's how to do it:

Note: Prep rows are not repeated.
Note: Always drop the extra wraps as you come to them.

Loosely CO odd number of sts.

Prep Row 1 (WS): Knit.
Prep Row 2: K1, purl until last st, k1.

Row 1: K1. (Knit up a stitch 2 rows below next st, knit next st, knit up a stitch 2 rows below last st, k1) across until 2 st rem. Knit up a stitch 2 rows below next st, knit next st, knit up a stitch 2 rows below last st, k1.
Row 2: K1. (Sl 2 tog k-wise, k1 with double wrap, p2sso, p1) across until 2 st rem. Sl 2 k-wise, k1 with double wrap, p2sso, k1.
Row 3: K2. (Knit up a stitch 2 rows below next st, knit next st, knit up a stitch 2 rows below last st, k1)  across until 1 st rem. K1.
Row 4: K1, p1. (Sl 2 tog k-wise, k1 with double wrap, p2sso, p1) across until 1 st rem. K1.
Work pattern to desired length ending with Row 1 or Row 3. BO loosely in Row 2 or Row 4 pattern. 

Now, with no plain rows, the pattern is difficult (but not impossible) to rip back. My best advice is to use lifelines for big items. There is a logic to the pattern, though, and that will be in an upcoming post.

Until then . . .

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Not Entirely What I Expected

I worked a swatch of Crimped Stitch #3 without the double wraps but on the same size needles. It came off the needles dense. Really, really dense. Much more than I expected.

Blocked, though, it turns into a lovely fabric. It may be a tad stiff for a whole garment, but I can certainly see it as a section to add stability - - perhaps a yoke or shoulder strap. On the other hand, going up just a needle size or two would  probably yield a nicely draping fabric.

On the third hand, the unblocked fabric has a very nubby texture. It's hard to tell in the superwash wool I used for the swatch, but I suspect that in a cotton and/or hemp blend yarn it would make a lovely bath mitt or similar item. Hmmmm, I'm going to have to think about that!

Until next time . . .

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crimped Row Stitch #3

 When I started designing the crimped stitches, I did design a third. It's been languishing for a while, but now here it is! Unlike the previous two crimped stitches, this one has two pattern rows.

Using a very stretchy cast-on, co any number of sts plus 2 for selvedges.

Row 1 (WS): K all sts. (On the 2nd and subsequent repeats, drop the second wrap as you knit the st.)
Row 2: K1, p across, k1.
Row 3: K1. (Knit up a stitch 2 rows below next st, knit next st, knit up a stitch 2 rows below last st) across until 1 st rem. K1.
Row 4: K1. (Sl 2 k-wise, k1 with double wrap, p2sso) across until 1 st rem. K1.

Work pattern to desired length ending with Row 3. Bind off loosely in Row 4 pattern. (Drop the second wrap of each st before working the next st.)

The diagram shows the sequence of knitting up the outer stitches and knitting the center one. The first time it's done, the outer stitches are knit up in the cast-on which is, of course, different from subsequent rows. Depending on the cast-on, this can be confusing. Stretch it out a bit to reveal a space to use. There is really no right or wrong here, so just be consistent.

Now, what variations can be worked here? What if we leave out the double wraps in Row 4? Can we change the order of the knitted up stitches? Can this stitch (or any of the others) be made into an offset pattern? Those are questions for the next time(s). Until then . . .

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Latest Published Design


The June 2015 issue of  I Like Knitting has been published, and I am very pleased that a lace scarf I designed has been included! It is in an original pattern stitch I call Triangle Lace. The halves of the scarf are started at the center back so the ends are identical. I've used a really cool, though little known, decrease called "Bunny Ears." It turns three stitches into two and contributes greatly to the symmetry of the pattern stitch. You can find a number of tutorials here. It is worked on a wrong side row in my pattern, but is quite instinctive when you know what the result is supposed to be.

The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK. It's an 80/20 bamboo and wool blend, lovely and soft. With the small wool content, it will be a good season-spanning accessory. 

You may have noticed that I haven't posted for the past few weeks. I've been busy with a big project but, now that it's done, I plan to get back to blogging. Until then . . .

Monday, March 23, 2015

A New Published Design

(c) Knitscene/Harper Point Photography
It's been easy to feel smug about this winter's weather in San Francisco (although I do feel obligated to add "but we really need the rain"). My husband and I have been outdoors in short sleeves while our families and friends have been up to their ear lobes in snow. Hopefully, the worst is over and everyone's thoughts are turning to . . . Summer!

The Summer 2015 issue of Knitscene has been released and is now available here. (Paper copies will be available in mid-April.) My contribution is a good-sized wrap with a collar and scalloped trim (inset). It's worked in two linen-blend yarns from Classic Elite in Half-linen Stitch. The pattern stitch is easily memorized and knit and creates the most amazing fabric with the variegated Bella Lino yarn.

That's it for now! Until next time . . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Stitches West!!!

Stitches West was held a couple of weeks ago at the Santa Clara Convention Center in (surprise) Santa Clara CA. The market, as always, was exhilarating. It was great to see the variety of yarn and - oh - the colors! I was able to catch up with some folks I don't often see and I had a wonderful, if exhausting, time.

My primary interest was finding yarns to design with. I wasn't disappointed.

First up is Rock Creek Sock in the Serengeti Sunset colorway from Wandering Wool. I was really looking for DK or sport-weight yarn, so I didn't buy it immediately. I was a couple of aisles away when the urge became irresistible and I figured I could always double it.

As it turns out, I swatched it single. This swatch is in Linen Stitch (also known as "Fabric Stitch") which is a slip stitch pattern. It is very, very dense, so I used US 6 (4 mm) needles for it. (I would normally use US 1's (2.25 mm) for sock yarn.) I just love the way the pattern stitch blends the colors; it's so quintessentially Autumn! The swatch still has lots of stretch.  I don't know that it would keep its shape well enough for a skirt or a tote bag, but I can't imagine anything else that it wouldn't work for.

The second swatch is worked in Hempton from Hemp for Knitting. It's a blend of cotton, hemp, and modal. This swatch is worked in Garter Slip Stitch VI. I got this stitch from The Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches, but I also found it here. To do it in two colors, alternate colors every two rows. Only half the rows have slipped stitches, so this is less dense than Linen Stitch. I used US 3's (3.25 mm) which is only one needle size larger than I'd probably use otherwise. I think this fabric would make a great light-weight jacket, and, of course, utility items.

 Finally, I swatched the worsted-weight merino superwash from Polka Dot Sheep. The vendor told me it had good stitch definition, so I went all out with the pattern stitch. This beauty is pattern 51 from Aran Lace by Annie Maloney. I did it on US 5's (3.75 mm). It's the only one of the swatches that I actually blocked; the other two I soaked and just patted down on my table.

And that was my adventure! Until next time . . .

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Do you want beads with that? Part 2

The beads I used for the swatches two posts ago are just plain, little plastic tubes as in the upper diagram. When the picots they're on twist, we see the holes and need to block to see the real parts of the beads.

"But," I thought, "maybe I can use the twisting." I went online to find beads with front to back holes as in the lower diagram, the idea being that when they twist, the good side will be front and center. Most of this type of bead that I located are quite large; certainly much larger than would be comfortable to wear in profusion. Nevertheless, if you're into beads, it doesn't hurt to keep your eyes open.

But I still needed beads, so I went to a local bead store and found another type of embellishment: CHARMS!

As I had hoped, the picots twisted to show the flat sides of the charms. Inexplicably, however, the picot with the butterfly twisted in the opposite direction to the picots with the flowers, leaving the wrong side facing. I ripped my swatch out, restrung it the other way, and this is the result!

 * * *

I have some final (for now at least) thoughts on incorporating beads and/or charms. It's been a bit tricky to find beads with holes large enough to pass yarn through but small enough to fit the
gauge of the pattern without looking crowded. The swatch to the immediate right, with a bead on every picot, comes pretty close; it's very cute, but not what I would want if I were going for a spare, elegant look. The swatch to the far right has the beads spaced every other picot (it's also in a heavier yarn).  Here, I stretched out the picots holding the beads which takes up the yarn from the unadorned picots. The slack would be good for longer beads and would still keep them from banging into each other. In the "charmed" swatch, I placed them every third picot and kept the shape of the remaining picots when I blocked. That one is my favorite of the three swatches but, of course, the final look of any technique depends on the context: the yarn, the embellishments, and the type of project being made. That's why we swatch.

That's it for now! Until next time . . .

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One Month to Valentine's Day!


And just in time, I have two sweet designs in the February 2015 issue of "I Like Knitting."

The arm warmers are knit in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK, a very soft superwash Merino wool. (By the way, I use this yarn in many of my blog swatches.) A panel of lace hearts runs down the outside and they've got beads hanging from the point of the bottom heart. I've written the pattern in three sizes for teens and adults.

The flower can be used as a hair ornament, as shown, or a piece of jewelry. This particular sample is worked in Patons Grace cotton yarn on US 5 (3.75 mm) needles, but you can try it in any number of reasonably smooth yarns. The stitch pattern is "Linen Stitch" so you will probably need to  choose needles that are relatively large for the yarn. The finished size, of course, will depend on the particular yarn and needles used.

Until next time . . .

Friday, January 9, 2015

Do you want beads with that? Part 1

I just had to add beads to the picot cast-on. It's pretty easy albeit fiddly. Start by stringing beads onto your yarn - more than you think you'll need. (It's a simple matter to push extra beads along until you are at the end of the yarn. It's not at all easy to add more beads once your cast-on is started.)

Using a crochet chain as the base for the provisional cast-on, pick up a st in the first chain. Slide a bead up against the waste yarn. Pick up a stitch in the next chain, slide a bead up against the waste yarn. Again and again. And again. (Don't put a bead after the last stitch, though.)

Work the first row in k1, p1 ribbing, then follow the pattern from Row 2. Continue working the pattern as written until it's the desired length and bind off. Undo the waste yarn.

I found in the swatch pictured above that the picots holding the beads wanted to twist very severely. I got a row of beads with their holes pointing to the front. Not attractive. I thought this might be a function of the tight twist on the yarn I've been using so I tried a yarn with less twist. There was still twisting of the picots.

The most obvious solution was to see if blocking would help. It does, but not as well in the tightly
twisted yarn (above) as in the more loosely-spun yarn which is used in the photos to the right.

I don't tend to use blocking wires because I find that they catch on my work, but here I was just putting a length through the holes in the beads. I stretched the other edges of the swatch as usual, and used T-pins to hold the wire in place.

Up next will be another take on the twisting picots, as well as some pondering on bead spacing. Until then . . .