Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Intro to Entrelac

June 10, 2017

Over the past couple of months, my knitting focus has been on the public art, yarn bomb project at a nearby lake. While great in length (about 23 feet/7 meters in total, I think), it wasn’t particularly interesting knitting. I didn’t have an idea for my next project, but I was looking forward to it — whatever it was!

By good fortune, I spent a couple of hours with a dear friend who asked for my help in rescuing her project, a cozy entrelac throw for a granddaughter who will be heading off to college in the fall. In advance of my “house call,” I watched a couple of entrelac videos and fell in love with the geometry and construction.

As soon as I got home from our wonderful visit — I ripped and tinked while Barbara wove in ends (entrelac has lots of ends) — I found the Woven Sky Throw pattern and ordered four skeins of Universal Yarn, two each of English Garden and Silver Blush.

universal-yarn

I cast on pretty much immediately after the yarn arrived, just before Memorial Day Weekend. The ferry rides between Nantucket and the Cape provided perfect knitting time — accompanied by a tasty Whale’s Tail to start the summer off right. (Let’s not dwell on the cold, rainy start to summer that we’ve had here in Massachusetts, where it was 49F/9C for a couple of days last week.)

entrelac-ferry

I took advantage of a dishwasher dilemma to knit a few rows. Thanks to a wonky latch, the dishwasher door wouldn’t stay closed, so I pulled up a chair and applied some foot pressure. Voila! Clean dishes and another tier of entrelac triangles.

entrelac-ntkt

Yes, I recognize that this did not actually fix the dishwasher dilemma, but I’m OK with the short term solution. Besides, there was no way I’d get an appliance repair person to make a house call on the holiday weekend. Maybe the house elves will repair it before we visit again….

What’s on your needles these days?

 

 

Girls Who Knit

December 9, 2016

For the past few weeks, I’ve been spending Monday afternoons teaching knitting to eight girls at a local after-school program. It’s the most high-energy 90 minutes of my week!

As always when I teach new knitters, a first lesson is to spot and then fix mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, and if you can’t fix them, you’re more likely to give up. Although only a couple of the girls have tried knitting before, each of the 7 fourth graders and one fifth grader is on her way to becoming a Fearless Knitter.

They’ve started with a cotton dishcloth, casting on (knitted cast-on) about 33 stitches, and working a few inches in garter stitch.

I like seeing how each of them holds the needles and yarn, developing her own technique and muscle memory for the craft.

With each stitch, they’re becoming more competent and more confident.

“When I woke up this morning, I dreaded going to school, but then I remembered that we’d be knitting this afternoon. That gave me energy to make it through the whole school day!” A bit dramatic perhaps, but a sentiment that many knitters — including me — share.

 

Knitting Mistake as Memory Marker

November 5, 2016

I’ve written before about the inevitability of mistakes in knitting and about the many mistakes I’ve made in a variety of projects. Learning to fix mistakes is one of the key steps in becoming a Fearless Knitter.

I believe that every knitter has a different approach to mistakes, which can vary given the project, mood, or phase of the moon. Some are just fine with ripping back inches to fix a single dropped stitch. By “just fine” I don’t mean they’re happy with said ripping back, but they prefer the ripping and re-knitting to leaving the error. Other knitters prefer to think of the error as a personal “design element,” something that makes their particular project unique.

After a weekend visiting two dear sister-friends, Fearless Knitter Marcia discovered a few errant stitches in a square of her Great American Aran Afghan. Can you see it here?

aran-afghan-square-front

Hardly noticeable amidst the reverse stockinette stitch. It’s easier to see the knits (that should have been purls) on the reverse side.

aran-afghan-square-back

Now, perhaps a complex knitting project was not the ideal take-along for a girls’ weekend together since lots of conversation, cooking, and wine were on the menu. But that’s beside the point.

Marcia’s general practice is to fix mistakes, tearing back or tinking as needed. However, this time she decided to leave those four stitches. “Every time I see them, I’ll be reminded of that fun weekend,” she declared. Mistake as memory. I love it.

aran-afghan-squares

Lessons Learned on Re-Sizing a Sweater

September 30, 2015

There are lots of online tips for making a too-big sweater smaller. But as I discovered when I had the opposite problem — a too-small sweater that needed enlarging — there wasn’t a lot of help. With a fair bit of in-person, online, and book research, I was able to figure out how to make Michael’s special sweater large enough to fit his 17-year-old body. I learned a few things along the way, about myself and about knitting.

  • I’m not afraid to rip back and try again, especially when making something complicated and very time-consuming. A lot of time and effort went into this sweater even before I discovered that it didn’t fit. I’ve knit plenty of finished items that didn’t turn out right and were abandoned to a drawer or thrift store somewhere. This time, I decided to invest the time and energy into remedying the situation.
  • Making a sweater longer is pretty straightforward: Rip or cut back the ribbing. Pick up the stitches (I used a lifeline for this bit), and knit!
  • Knitting in the opposite direction changes the orientation of the stitches. If you look carefully, you can see that the white “specks” point up or down, depending on whether they’re in the original body of the sweater or in the added two inches.
    stitches point in different directions when knitting in opposite directions
  • Gussets are pretty nifty inventions. I needed to add about 4 inches to the circumference of the sweater, so I made two two-inch gussets — rectangular from the ribbing to the underarm and then tapered over about 4 inches into the arm sleeve.
    gusset stitched into the side of a knit sweater to make it larger
  • I appreciate attention to detail but not enough to make the gussets fit the sweater pattern.
  • Wrapping a knitted gift is a wonderful thing!
    finished stranded knit sweater in gift boxI’m delighted to report that the sweater fits — at least, that’s what Michael has told me! He’ll allow a photo “session” once the weather gets cooler. Of course, I’ll share.

 

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Making a Too-Small Sweater Bigger

September 5, 2015

As I’ve mentioned previously, the sweater that I knit for Michael is finished but not done. What I really mean is, it’s too small. This may have something to do with his increase in size from when I started the sweater. At the beginning of the year, he was on the high school wrestling team and was pretty lean — for a six-foot tall 16-year old. But after wrestling season, he started lifting weights and training in anticipation of football and, well, he got larger — much larger — as in 35 pounds heavier (“increased muscle mass” is his phrase).

We both managed not to get too upset (well, mostly) when he barely squeezed into the finished sweater sometime around the end of May, an event I did not photograph. We agreed that it’s beautiful, but there’s no way he could wear it. Here it is blocking before sleeves.

front of nordic sweater blocking on bed

Kevin, who’s older but smaller than Michael, volunteered to take the sweater, assuring both of us that it would fit him just fine. How very generous! But I resolved to figure out how to fix it.

I consulted other knitters, looked through several knitting books, and searched online for “how to make a enlarge a sweater” and “my sweater is too small.” I settled on the following strategy:

  • take apart side seams
  • remove lower ribbing,  add 2″ to the front and back, and knit the ribbing (This involved using “lifelines,” a technique I’ve found very handy!)
  • knit two 2″ gussets to sew into the side seams, thereby adding 4″ to the circumference of the sweater (well, minus maybe 1/2″ total of seaming). The gussets are rectangles up to the underarm and then tapered to a point over about 4-5″. I hadn’t reached the tapering in this photo.

two rectangular knitted  gussets for enlarging a sweater

I’ll have to open the underarm sleeve seam for a bit and add the tapered part of the gussets there.

I really, really hope this works. Wish me luck!

 

Knitting Wirelessly

March 26, 2015

At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur (and no, I don’t know what a dinosaur sounds like), I’d just like to say how awesome it is to have the Internet as a tool in my knitting teaching and learning tool kit.

In a recent knitting class, Rachel was learning how to make a provisional cast-on for Knit Picks’ Chromatic Circle Cowl, a luscious piece that’s knit “lengthwise.” After I explained the point of a provisional cast-on — to be able to create a seamless circle so that the subtle color changes would “flow” — we found an online video tutorial. Rachel watched, followed along (with the occasional curses and snide comments) and paused, as long as needed to complete the cast-on.

Watching_video

The next week, Kathy decided her next project would be a Pineapple Tea Cozy (not a typo). Before she bought the yarn, I recommended she try the pattern by knitting a swatch with some spare yarn. The pattern looked simple enough, but as my mother says, “anything’s easy if you know how.” And we didn’t know how to decipher the instructions in this pattern.

Using Kathy’s phone and my laptop, we looked through Ravelry projects, searching for notes and tips. Then we searched for videos — “how to knit pineapple stitch” and the like — all to no avail. Then Kathy typed the instructions, “k4tog, p4tog,” into her search engine and discovered that the stitch is also called the “anemone stitch.” That was the breakthrough we needed. One click on a video, and she was on her way.

Anemone_Stitch

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