Yesterday I finished my new shawl (woohoo! Pattern coming soon!), which involved binding off a ton of stitches along the bottom border. You know, like most shawls do.
When I bind off a lot of stitches on a project that will be blocked larger than its off-the-needles size, I always bind off with a needle one or two sizes larger. You've probably seen patterns telling you to do this. The reason is so that there will be more yarn in the bindoff, which will make the bindoff able to stretch as much as the rest of the fabric is stretching.
But have you ever tried to actually do it?
Since you're likely on a long circular to hold all those stitches, it would be only natural to grab another circular to use for binding off. I know I used to do that by default, since I don't even own straights anymore and knit everything on circs anyway.
Well if you have, you know that it is SO annoying.
Your larger circ's cable is flopping all over the place unused the whole time, and you end up juggling two unweildy, almost-empty circulars by the end of it.
So, don't do that. Learn from my countless frustrated hours of binding off a zillion stitches and:
Use a double-pointed needle instead.
A DPN lets you use only the part of the needle you need. It is easy to control, concise, and the best part is, there's no floppy cable! You'll still have your original circular to maneuver, but it's way easier to deal with one floppy circular than it is to deal with two. It'll probably feel weird to you at first when you start, but if you're like me, you'll quickly get used to it and start zipping along that seemingly never-ending bindoff.
I estimate that I can bind off 2 to 3 times faster using a DPN than using a second circular. That's time well-saved to knit more interesting things!
By the way, my DPNs are mostly all 7-inchers, so that's what I used here, but if you have 6" or 5" needles those would work too. I wouldn't want to use a super-long DPN if I had a choice, but if that was the only needle on hand you could, of course, make it work. (Please read that that like Tim Gunn for full effect)
The second prompt for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is: Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year.
This one's kind of a head-scratcher for me. I've been knitting since I was a kid and would call myself an "expert knitter" (if there is such a thing), by which I mean that I've tried just about everything and have gotten to the point that I rarely think "oh this is hard" about any knitting or crochet project. I might think it's annoying, or tedious, or not fun to physically do (two-color brioche comes to mind and entrelac are in that category for sure) . . . but that's not really the same thing.
Looking back on the previous year's worth of projects in Ravelry, I would say that if there's one change it's that I've mostly gotten over my loathing of weaving in ends. I still don't enjoy it, but in the past I would avoid projects that had too many ends to weave in, no matter how much I liked the idea of the project . . . and I no longer do that. Evidence?
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="HUNDREDS of ends to weave in on Babette"][/caption]
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Dozens of ends of Koigu to weave in"][/caption]
Now, mind you that I'm not saying I've actually woven in those ends yet . . . the progress is more mental that skill-based. I still hate weaving in ends and will procrastinate on that step in a project for WAY WAY WAY too long. I really like the seaming part of finishing and am quite good at it, but the weaving? Blech.
Speaking of which: If you're a NYC knitter and want to trade seaming for weaving in ends, drop me a line. It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
As I'm sure you've all noticed, I tend to use handpainted yarns more often than not. Most of the time when you're knitting a project that will use more than one ball of handpainted yarn, the look of your finished project can greatly benefit from alternating skeins. This is nothing new -- I'm pretty sure you're all familiar with the concept of working from 2 skeins at a time, working a couple of rows with one, then switching to the other and carrying the yarn up the side. Right?
Well, if you've done it even half as much as I have, you also know what a giant PITA it is to do it! The strands tangle, the edge can pucker (or just as bad, spread out!), and if you travel and knit like I do, carrying two balls is more than twice as annoying as carrying just the one. Which is where this simple-yet-awesome tip comes in, and it's so amazing that I thought it deserved its own post!
See how drastically different the size of these two balls of yarn is? This is my laceweight Leila shawl (now finished, thankyouverymuch!), which is knit out of Malabrigo Laceweight. The two skeins were pretty close to begin with, but one definitely had slightly longer color patches than the other and I was sure I'd be able to see it in the finished product if I didn't blend the two balls together. But I really didn't want to have to carry both balls around, so I went with the compromise:
Start with just one ball and knit to about the half-way point of that ball (it doesn't need to be exact, just eyeball it). Then join the second ball and do 2 rows from one, 2 rows from the other, until ball #1 is done. Then just continue on with ball #2!
The beauty of this simple trick is that it saves about 50% of the 2-ball knitting, but it blends the two colors so thoroughly that you can't tell the difference! I wouldn't use this "cheat" if the two skeins were drastically different (well, unless the visible blending effect would add to the finished project, which it totally could!), but if they're pretty close this trick will save you tons of frustration and untangling.
I like this so much, I'm using it on my next project already . . . but more on that next time! I can tell you it's Koigu, though . . .
It's been a week of sweater surgeries both at work and at home. I had to cut the sleeve off a customer's sweater, shorten sleeves on another customer's finished sweater, and repair a hole in a 3rd customer's sweater (aside: Please cut knots out of your yarn as you get to them! You don't even want to know what this woman's sweater looked like and what it was like fixing it).
My own personal sweater surgery was done on Adam's Cobblestone, which turned out to be 2" too short. There was no way I was ripping out the yoke to lengthen the body, so I decided to cut off the bottom garter stitch and knit 2" onto it, then graft it all back together. I photographed it all and made a tutorial, which I've added the Chiagu Resources page (meager though it is so far).
Hope you find it useful, although I sincerely hope you'll never need it!
So here's the teddy bear:
Isn't it adorable? One of String's customers makes bears completely by hand, sewing and embroidering and everything. She comes to String to buy Koigu to make sweaters for some of the bears! It's the cutest thing I've ever seen. Every time she comes I look through the bears she brought and this one spoke to me, so I just had to have it. Now, I won't be starting a bear collection anytime soon, so don't worry. This little guy sits on top of the TV and won't be joined by any others!
The bear company is called Minikins and if you want to get in touch with her, comment or email me and I will give you her contact info. Unfortunately she doesn't have a website so I can't link to her (I keep telling her she needs a website!).
And now for what you came her for:
Sorry this is so overexposed, I couldn't get any texture to show without turning on the flash. The sweater's still black, not grey!
That's the finished back and the start of the right front of Katherine Hepburn. I used almost exactly 6 balls finishing the sleeve and back, so that means I am about on track to need 12 balls total (because two fronts and a sleeve will use the same amount as a back and a sleeve). I might end up needing another ball to do the buttonbands since they are pretty wide, but I don't mind buying another one.
What's weird about this yarn breakdown is that the back used about twice the amount of yarn for the sleeve, even though it's a 3/4 length sleeve. The "standard" breakdown is that the back is 1/3, the front(s) are 1/3, and the sleeves together are 1/3 of yarn usage. So logically you would expect a 3/4 length sleeve to eat LESS than 1/6 the total yarn, but somehow I ended up with the same proportion.
This is one of those knitting mysteries that I try not to think about too much or I end up with a headache and an unbearable need to rip the project out to stare at it trying to figure it out . . .
Anyway, onto things I do understand. You can only kind of see it in the picture, but I added waist shaping to the body of KH. I decided to take 4 sts from each side, which means 8 sts total, or just over 1" of fabric, away from the waist to give it a little more shape. I knew I would decrease 4 times and increase 4 times, so that means 8 shaping rows (with decreases/increases at each end of the row).
To figure out how often they should occur, I divided the body length (13.5" to armhole) by 9, is 1.5". Why 9, you ask? Because you need to have space above the last shaping row, otherwise it would fall on the armhole shaping row, so you'd be increasing and binding off the same stitches which isn't possible OR pretty. So I knew I had to work a shaping row every 1.5", so I multiplied 1.5 by my row gauge, which is 8.5 rows per inch. The final vedirct: I had to work a shaping row every 12th row.
Enough math for one day, I'm going back to knitting. I bought more yarn yesterday, maybe I'll show you tomorrow. That, or the finished Kersti sweater . . . happy Monday everyone!