Category Archives: Techniques

Bunny Ears Yarnover

Back when I unvented* the bunny ears back decrease (I’m using the name that another unventor came up with because it seems to be somewhat standard by now), I thought about trying a variant with a yarnover in the middle, but never got around to it.

However, I finally had reason to try it out with the regular bunny ears decrease variant, for my Smile lace. I thought it would be good to write up the result in more detail in a blog post by itself, because I know myself well enough to know that I’m about to embark on playing with it to make other stitch patterns. (There are already ideas lurking in the back of my head.)

Instructions and also musing on perfection

How I make pictures of stranded knitting

I’ve been noodling around for years, trying to find a consistent way of producing images that look like stranded knitting that make me happy. I think I’m finally there. I’m going to share an overview of what I do, just because. It’s written for people who already know how to use vector art software (Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, or other programs like that). I explain what I do, but not how I do it.

If you’re not comfortable with that kind of software, Chart-Minder.com is a reasonable alternative. I used it for quite a while. It doesn’t quite work out for the effect I have in mind, but if you want to design colorwork, it’s good for that aspect.

Continue reading How I make pictures of stranded knitting

Working double YOs on the next row, redux

A while back I wrote about some ways of working double YOs on the next row. I still mostly use the standard method, working (k1, p1) in the double YO. Then Denise Plourde wrote on the Stitch Maps Ravelry group about a new method she’d come up with. Here is a description that doesn’t require a login. I find it quite beautiful. Apparently it got me thinking, because a few days after reading about that, I came up with a different way entirely.

All of these methods are ways to cope with one problem: it is impossible to knit (or purl) the two consecutive loops in a double yarnover; the structure of the stitch does not allow it. Try it: the result is a single knit stitch with two wraps around the needle, what’s called an elongated stitch.

I will probably continue using the (k1, p1) method in my swatches and charts as it is straightforward, people are used to it, and I don’t mind how it looks.

Follow this link for eight double YOs, each worked differently.

Inside-out sewn bind-off

Despite a lot of new and interesting inventions of bind-offs, my favorite remains the sewn bind-off or backstitch bind-off, as learned from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s writing. It’s stretchy and it looks the same as the longtail cast-on, so it’s good for making the two ends of a piece of knitting match.

As many of you know, I tend a bit toward the idiosyncratic. In this case, I prefer what most people think of as the back of this bind-off (and also the back of the longtail cast-on). The texture reminds me of decorative braid.

There are lots of instructions out there for the regular sewn bind-off, but I’m not sure if there are specific instructions for the inside-out version.

There’s a photo of a tiny swatchlet at the top of this page with the wrong side of the longtail cast-on showing at the bottom and the wrong side of the sewn bind-off at the top.

Here’s how it’s done. First, measure out a length of yarn about 3.5 times as long as the knitting is wide, then cut or break it. If you’re working with a really wide piece of knitting, then measure out a length that’s manageable; this bind-off can be done with multiple pieces of yarn, though it does mean more ends to work in. A darning needle is already in play; what’s a few more ends to work in?

Thread a yarn or darning needle with the yarn that’s still attached to the knitting.

The first and last parts are slightly different when working flat and when working in the round.

If working in the round:

Inside out sewn bind-off, worked in the round.

1. Bring the needle forward through the first stitch of the round. Pull up the slack.

Inside out sewn bind-off, worked in the round.

2. Move one stitch to the right and insert the needle through that stitch from front to back (knitwise) but don’t pull it through yet.

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3. Skip behind the next stitch to the left and bring the darning needle forward through the next stitch that hasn’t been sewn at all yet. (purlwise) Pull the needle and yarn through.

If working flat:

Inside-out sewn bind-off, worked flat.
1. Take the needle behind the first stitch of the row and bring it forward through the second stitch (purlwise). Pull the needle and yarn through.

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2. Move one stitch to the right and insert the needle through that stitch from front to back (knitwise) but don’t pull it through yet. Slip that stitch from the knitting needle to the darning needle.

Inside-out sewn bind-off.

3. Skip behind the next stitch to the left and bring the darning needle forward through the next stitch that hasn’t been sewn at all yet. (purlwise) Pull the yarn through.

Inside-out sewn bind-off, worked flat.

4. Go back one stitch and insert the needle through the first stitch on the knitting needle. Slide that stitch off the knitting needle before pulling the sewing needle through the rest of the way.

Repeat the last two steps until the last stitch of the row or the round.

5a. If working flat, after sliding the next to last stitch off the needle, bring the needle forward through the last stitch one more time.

5b. If working in the round, when all stitches have had the sewing needle pass through twice, the bind-off is done. The last stitch of the round was half-worked at the very beginning of the bind-off.

I tend to be a tight knitter, so I find myself surprised by one oddity about the way the sewn bind-off works for me: it’s too loose and a little sloppy. I always have to go back and tighten it up loop by loop so it matches my cast-on. (It’s still plenty stretchy after I do this, so when I say loose, you know it’s excessive.) Your experience might be different, but I’d recommend swatching this the first time you try it to see how it works for you.

What do you like in technique videos?

So, I reached the funding goal at Patreon that commits me to starting to work on making technique videos to go with my posts.

I’ve watched a fair number of YouTube videos to learn knitting and crochet techniques, and so I have opinions about what I like. I also know that different people learn in different ways, so I thought I’d ask what you prefer. Please speak up if you have strong opinions, though of course there might be conflicting views to choose from.

Here’s what I have in mind:
1. I am not fond of watching someone’s hands hover on screen at the beginning of a video while they talk for a long time about what they’re going to be explaining. My thinking is that I will start all my videos with a brief demonstration of the technique in question (the TL;DW version) and then go into the whys and wherefores and things to try if something’s hard.
2. A solid background, probably dark.
3. The camera looking at my hands from my viewpoint – I have some thoughts about using my tablet or smartphone for this.
4. Bulky yarn in a light color, but not white. I think this makes things easier to follow.
5. Good lighting.
6. Captions.

Obviously, there’s a lot of things I’m going to need to learn about how to do some of those things and how to edit the results, etc.

Please feel free to share your opinions!

Knitweaving: a less well-known technique.

(More recently I’ve been using the term inlay instead of knitweaving; inlay comes from June Hemmons Hiatt’s The Principles of Knitting.)

I was browsing through Montse Stanley’s Knitter’s Handbook a couple of months ago, looking for information for a design project that’s still in process when I came across the entry for knitweaving (again; I’ve certainly browsed the book a lot). This time it intrigued me, and turned out to be a good method to use for a personal project, shown above. It’s going to be a stole made from a grey background yarn, decorated with handspun yarn received in a swap with the friends who spun it. The “back” of the fabric is in the top of the picture and the “front” is at the bottom. (I like both sides in different ways.)

I was telling my friends about the method and went looking online for more information to share. I was only slightly surprised to discover that the only discussions of the technique were from the perspective of machine knitters – I’d really only ever seen that one half-page of information in Stanley’s book and hadn’t ever seen any other non-machine-knitter using or discussing it.

So. What is knitweaving? It involves carrying a second strand of yarn (I’ll call it the weft, since that’s the weaving equivalent) across a row of knitting as decoration without ever working a stitch with it.

Advantages:

  1. Some yarns look better in the skein than they do when knitted up, right? I find that those yarns often look better in actually woven cloth because the yarn is stretched out in straight lines. This is a way to achieve a similar effect in knitting.
  2. Leftovers and swap yarns of varying thickness can be combined in one project without as much worry about gauge (within limits, obviously – I suspect that the thickest yarn used shouldn’t be any thicker than the knitting needles used for the project.)

Continue reading Knitweaving: a less well-known technique.

Making illustrations, part one

I’ve had a few questions about how I do my illustrations, and I thought I’d do a small tutorial. I don’t have the slickest style, but I think what I do mostly works (and has been improving with practice).

My secret? It almost feels like cheating: I trace photographs using photo editing/painting software.

Continue reading Making illustrations, part one

Foundation cast-on

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Last week, I was playing around with variations on the foundation base chain, and came up with this two yarn version:

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When I looked at that for a while, I started thinking again. The white chain looked like the chain on a bag of pet food. So I unraveled it and stuck the resulting loose stitches on my Tunisian crochet hook. It looked like a cast on.

f5914688-2f5944960-2It was a cast on.

It’s actually nicely stretchy, and you can work it directly onto a knitting needle or afghan hook without the chain across the top!

Continue reading Foundation cast-on

Meditations on the foundation base chain

P4059793-2What’s this fancy edging for this knitted swatch? Well, I started with this:

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The crocheters among you will probably recognize that that’s a foundation base chain. (If you’re a crocheter and don’t know about them, they’re a wonderful replacement for a base chain.)

It turns out that it makes an excellent knitting cast on, like a fancy braid at the bottom. Speaking of which, it would also make gorgeous braid for decorating sewing. Work it up in thin shiny silk and I expect it would look really fancy.

(There are some new things in this post for crocheters as well as knitters.)

Continue reading Meditations on the foundation base chain