This last month, photographically, I had four photos for the Monthly Challenge: Bird, Cycle, Stationary and Lost. I also created a lot of ‘flower portraits’ of flowers in my garden. Apart from that I put together a tutorial on knitting fair isle and, to stick to knitting for a moment, I showed you some socks I have knitted for my daughter. Crochetwise I wrote a post about my search for the perfect Celtic Cross bookmark and another showing how my Celtic plaitwork bookmarks compared to earlier bookmarks in use.
Well I’m not really sure that I have a sock addiction 🙂 but I haven’t made any socks for a long time and from time to time I get a craving to make some more.
I normally force myself to resist this temptation because I have enough already but recently I discovered that both my daughter and granddaughter have the same size feet as myself and would both love me to knit them a pair of socks.
I have a stash of sock wool because of some that has been passed on to me for free, Yay! so I offered my daughter a choice of yarn.
and she said that she preferred the one on the left.
Here are the pair I made her. It’s hard to get socks to look good when lying flat which is why when I knit them for myself I also photograph them being worn!
I have actually bought some more sock wool to make a pair for my granddaughter and when I know how long she would like her socks to be, compared to her mother’s (her mother wanted fairly short ones!), I will start a pair for her.
I could have used the wool to the right in the picture at the top but I thought maybe it wasn’t quite her sort of colours.
I do like Regia sock yarn!
One person who read a recent post asked if I could add a video tutorial.
Now I don’t do video tutorials and in fact, for myself, I normally prefer pictures and diagrams that I can peruse at my leisure, so I am going to share a few photographs that I hope explains exactly what I was suggesting.
The post in question was on knitting fair isle and how I had now mastered a way of ensuring that the yarns didn’t get tangled and could even be twisted every other stitch if wanted. I give a description of this in an Addendum to the post but maybe a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, so here is an explanation with photographs.
I don’t describe what to do for purl stitches because it is essentially the same principle and when learning fair isle it is better to use circular knitting where all the stitches will be knit. However a piece of flat knitting is easier to photograph.
Knitting Fair Isle
The first thing is to separate the two yarns one on either side. The one on the right being the ‘upper’ (normally background) yarn and the one on the left being the ‘lower’ yarn.
As in this photograph.I am referring to the person’s own right and left.
Arranging the yarns like this naturally makes the one on the right hand side higher than the other and helps in remembering which is which.
This method will work whether you are twisting frequently or only every few stitches. However it always involves two adjacent stitches of the same colour.
When twisting frequently and knitting an odd number of stitches in the same colour, I will always knit the first one normally and then twist the yarn for the next two. (Repeating the twisting for more pairs as necessary.)
Firstly I will deal with twisting the yarn for stitches using the ‘upper’ right-hand side yarn.
I think you can see in the photograph how the green (right-hand) yarn naturally sits above the pink (left-hand) yarn.
For the first of the two stitches, I pull a loop of the upper yarn forwards under the lower yarn and use that to wind round the needle. (See arrow)For the next stitch, I pull the yarn back and use that to knit the stitch. (See arrow)I think you can see that this will bring the green yarn back to the top.
The yarn should now be untwisted in any way and back to where you started.
Now knitting with the ‘lower’ left-hand side yarn.
This time I pull a loop backwards under the ‘upper’ yarn and knit with this. (See arrow) Looking at the photograph below I think you can see how the pink yarn is now naturally above the green.
So I pull the yarn forward and use the length that is below to make the stitch. (See arrow)As before, the yarn should now be untwisted in any way and back to where you started.
Everyone has their own way of holding yarn but I find it is possible to hold both in the right hand and use the first finger and thumb to twist from one to the other. Though a certain amount of letting go is also needed.
I hope that all this is helpful and adds to what I said before.
(As a footnote. When working purl stitches I did tend to find that I needed to treat the right hand yarn as the lower and the left hand yarn as the upper.)
I showed you a lot of photographs this month. Including two Monthly Montages which I had forgotten!
There were two ‘Garden Updates’ showing how the Spring flowers were coming on apace, especially the primroses and daffodils.
I also managed to fit in a couple of entries to the ‘Photo Challenge’. Historical and Spiral.On the knitting and crochet side: I continued to expand my fair isle skills and practised knitting with frequent twists, like my mother used to do, in both circular and flat knitting.
I finally put together a wall hanging using the seahorses I had made from Wild Daffodil’s pattern and experiment myself with patterns for Celtic plaitwork bookmarks. The purple edged one seemed to be the favourite style.
Lately I have had so many other posts to share that this is a bit delayed but finally here is my February Montage.
In February, I began by showing a large number of photographs of bees I had taken in the Autumn. Then I showed you a floor cloth I had crocheted, even though it was mundane and my crochet orchids. Later I shared a pattern, including a chart, showing how to make the orchids.
Lastly I showed you the hat I had made to match the cowl and told you about some of the tribulations I had had along the way.
Because yes, the cowl and hat were in their own way experiments in knitting fair isle.
Now, looking back, I don’t think that my parents were very good teachers, though I learnt a lot by watching them. However my mother knitted too fast for me to learn much by watching and so fair isle knitting was a matter of picking up that you used two colours for a row and twisted them together every so often so you didn’t have long hanging strands but also twisted them back the other way so the yarns didn’t get tangled plus seeing the back of my mother’s fair isle.
As in this photograph. When I tried, even years later when I was an adult and was desperate to learn, what tended to happen was that the stitches were very uneven and the foreground colour tended to pull. As well, I could never sort out a method of twisting the yarn that I could remember, so at the end of the row the yarns were wound round each other many times.
For the cowl and hat I let myself have strands across the back for one to three stitches and so there wasn’t the same pulling.
Deciding to put the balls of yarn, one on the right and one on the left helped to remember which was which and I soon started to think of the one on the right as the ‘top’ yarn and the one on the left as the ‘lower’ yarn.
Having later read about fair isle on line I found that this was a distinction that was made.
And thus I learnt to twist the top yarn ‘under’ the other and then on the following stitch to pull it over again and so lose the twist. Doing the opposite for the lower yarn.
Now it was time to see if I could knit fair isle like my mother
In THIS POST I talk about how I was using the English way of knitting for the right hand yarn and the continental for the left, although picking up the yarn continental fashion hurt my wrist.
But now I decided to hold both yarns in my right hand, holding the yarn with three fingers while the forefinger separated the two yarns and the thumb helped with the twisting.
I started with a circular needle as then every row would be knit. I used the checkerboard pattern my mother had used for the knitting bag and some of the patterns from my plan for the hat, including the one I didn’t use. The reverse looks like this. I was pleased that it looked as if I had finally cracked it! So I decided to undo my sample and knit up some more fair isle with straight needles. and the reverse. It took me a while to feel comfortable with the purl rows. In the end I decided that treating the right hand yarn as if it was the lower yarn for the purl side and vice versa seemed the most natural.
All I need now is a reason to knit something which requires fair isle knitting! Plain colours next time though so that the patterns show more clearly.
For anyone who like me finds the instruction of twisting yarn for fair isle that merely says twist clockwise and then twist in the opposite direction is not helpful enough here is what I do.
When I am using the left hand ‘lower’ yarn and wanting to make a twist, I pull a loop of the yarn back towards me under the other (right hand – top yarn) and use this yarn to wind round the needle, thus moving it above the other. For the next stitch I pull the main part of the yarn and knit with that. Restoring the status quo.
When knitting with the right hand ‘top’ yarn I pull a loop forward under the other yarn and knit with that, then pull the main yarn up and over and knit as normal. This removes any twist.
This way you undo the twist as soon as you make it and so never have to remember what you did last time.
If you want to twist frequently like my mother used to do this is the way I think of it.
If all you are doing is knitting one stitch of a colour in a sequence, you knit as normal. If you are knitting two stitches you knit the one after the other as described above. For three or more stitches: if it is an even number you simply work every two stitches as above. For odd numbers work the first stitch as normal that the rest of the stitches as for an even number.
I suddenly realised that here it was March and I hadn’t done a Monthly Montage for January or February.
So here at least is January’s.
In January I was able to show you the Womble and little bear I had made as Christmas presents. I also did a review of my more recent offerings for Monochrome Madness and the knitting & crochet and other crafting I had done in 2016. I told you that I was only planning to post once a week in order to leave more time for other things but managed to finish my temperature scarf and a fair isle cowl.
After I made the cowl, I decided to offer it to my daughter as I still have all the hats and scarves that have featured on this blog and much as I love the cowl, I wasn’t sure if I really needed it.
However, I also had about half the yarn left and thought that it would be fun to make a hat to match the cowl. My daughter said that she would like a hat as well so I only hope her head is the same size as mine!
Now when I say match, I wasn’t going to use the same fair isle patterns as the cowl except for the rib. Google is always good for ideas and I copied out some of my favourites.
Traditional fair isle patterns normally have vertical or horizontal symmetry or both but some of the designs on the cowl only have rotational symmetry so I wanted to incorporate some of those. I am very fond of the Greek Key pattern so I included that early on for the hat.
Although I worked on the design on my computer, I copied it out onto squared paper to use a guide.
In the event I decided not to use both of the blue zig-zag on green parts of the design and replaced the second with a smaller purple on green section. (I didn’t use the last red and green part at all.)
Now what have I learned in the process of making this hat? Well a couple of things!
If you are planning on making a hat it is much easier if you start with a pattern.
I started with the idea that the cowl although it slipped over the head easily was quite snug so the same number of stitches would be a good place to start. I did use a smaller 3.75 (UK 10) circular needle for the rib but it was not until I had got fairly far on and was wondering if now was the time to start decreasing that I thought a pattern might help to make sure I got it right.
So I spent hours trawling through fair isle hat patterns on Ravelry only to find a whole variety of needle sizes and tensions even for DK yarn and a wide range of stitch counts and increasing and decreasing. None of them that fitted in with what I was doing!
I found a decreasing look that I liked in the photographs which involved: skip two stitches, knit one, pass both slipped stitches over.
However I did not like the look so much when I had knitted it so it had to come out. I had also chosen six decreases a round and since it seemed best to have one of these decreases mid back where the row changed, I didn’t like the slight point at the front.
Now life was so busy last week that I didn’t feel up to taking a photograph so you will have to imagine.
So I undid back to before the decreasing (more on this in a moment) and tried again.
This time I chose seven decreases a round – easy as 19 x 7 is only one more than 132.
But then came the moment of truth. The hat was going to be too big! 😦 I was a bit unhappy that I had to remove the purple and green bit that I had thought of as leaves and a sort of parallel to the leaf pattern in the cowl but it had to be done! So using the same method I had used before I decided I would have to reduce the length by a couple of inches.
Here is a quick photograph I took with my phone at Crafty Coffee on Friday when I was just beginning to pull out those two inches. Since the method I used is something that worked well. I thought I would mention it for anyone who finds it helpful.
This is the second thing I learned
Risk free way of undoing several rows without doing it stitch by stitch.
I heard (reading US blogs I think) of people putting in ‘life lines’ when they were knitting in case they needed to undo part of it later. I wasn’t sure what they were but it gave me an idea.
I took a needle and a piece of thin string and carefully went under the front part of every stitch on the row I wanted to go back to. (I chose a row where I was only using one colour.) I counted the stitches to make sure I had the right number then took a circular needle and threaded it through the same stitches and counted again. I then felt confident enough to remove the original circular needle. Finally I removed the string. In the photograph you can see how it looked just before I removed the string. I then undid the rows and sure enough when that was done all the stitches were neatly on the needle ready for me to start knitting again.
I added in a couple of rows in blue and then decreased after a red row. Originally I had thought I would just use two or more of the colours as stripes for the top but then I realised that I needed to continue the fair isle patterns to make the top as thick (and warm!) as the rest.
This time I decreased by a combination of K2tog through back loops and a normal K2tog.
And here are the hat and cowl together.
I still have about a quarter of the wool left but I don’t think it would be enough for mittens!
I am pleased to announce that I managed to finish off the cowl this last week. I have to admit that I haven’t finished the ends and I haven’t ironed it but I wanted to show it to you today.
Just a bit better ironed. But really pleased with it!
I have learned a lot!
When I continued the cowl after last week’s post, I did allow myself to not catch the yarn even when doing three stitches as a way to speed up the knitting.
However when I got to about half way, I started to read advice on how to knit these two colour patterns and found that there were a lot of differences which was confusing but, reading what it said in the needlework encyclopedia I inherited for my mother, I did manage to start knitting with one lot of yarn held in the right hand and the other in the left, whereby the yarn on the right is thrown and the yarn on the left is picked up. It was more of a strain on my wrist but I even managed to work out how to catch the yarn for longer runs without leaving the yarn twisted. Here is the back. I find that there is more than half the wool left and so making a hat to match might be in order but this leaves me with a dilemma.
Next time I would like to try knitting more traditional fair isle patterns but they normally have reflective symmetry horizontally or vertically or both whereas the patterns in the cowl mostly have rotational symmetry so a hat done like that might look non-matching even if the colours were the same.
However I am going to have a break from knitting now and so plenty of time to think about it.
I had hoped to have more of this to share with you but last Tuesday having planned an outing with my camera, I went down with the dreaded norovirus. They say one to three days, well I make it at least four! in my case. During this time all I wanted to do was rest with eyes gently closed, and, anyway, I didn’t want to risk contaminating my beautiful cowl.I found the cowl pattern on The Twisted Yarn’s blog HERE and absolutely loved it.
She used all sixteen shades of Stylecraft ‘batik’ yarn but I knew that doing the same would leave me with a lot of leftover yarn, so I calculated that four balls should be plenty. I was rather taken with the look of the ‘batik’.
So I went to a local yarn shop and chose my four favourite shades that I thought would work well together. (Teal, Raspberry, Violet, Sage)
Of course it wasn’t enough to just substitute colours for the sixteen in the original so I sat at my computer with my favourite drawing programme and played around with the colours till I produced a chart I could use. I found I had left one row out but luckily I discovered it! Can you see where? It’s the symmetry gives it away.
After earlier very poor attempts at fairisle type knitting I thought that this was a chance to master it, or at least to see if I could produce something acceptable. I think the batik effect of the yarn is fairly forgiving of irregularity.
I have been working very slowly and have found a way, laying each ball either side of me as I twist the yarn together, of not ending up with a tangle. I felt that my mother had twisted the yarn every stitch and that is what I have tried to do before but, as I can no longer ask my mother, I spoke to someone who said that she thought you only had to catch the yarn every two stitches so that is what I have done. However not up to my mother’s standard as you shall see below.
For those of you that like a story here is why I am so frustrated by my inability to knit fairisle and similar two colour knitting.
My mother knitted the most beautiful fairisle jumpers for my children This was my son’s favourite jumper for some years and as he loved it so much, when he grew out of it, my mother made him another in a larger size.
I had wanted to do the same for my grandchildren but all my attempts as this sort of knitting, large or small, have come out with a very irregular pulled look to them.
This morning I remember my mother’s knitting bag that I had inherited and how the lining is always coming adrift. So here is a photograph of the outside – and the reverse. It does look as it she was twisting every stitch so I still have a long way to go to achieve that smooth, could almost have been made by a machine, look.
Since I think that the cowl does not look too pulled I will maybe leave mastering the every other stitch method for later.
Now to catch up on all the blogs I haven’t read over the last week!