Japanese Knitting Symbols

Monday, June 25th, 2007
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Fleegle’s Blog has a post about Japanese Knitting Symbols that’s quite interesting. She explains how such complicated cable representations as the following make any sense whatsoever.

Complicated Cable Representation

Ah yes, I recognize this cable, although I was taught a slightly different version.

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Cable abbreviations

Sunday, June 24th, 2007
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If you abbreviate a left-leaning cable as C4F and a right-leaning cable as C4B, how do you abbreviate a cable where you hold the first 2 stitches to the back and then purl them instead of knitting them? Do you call it a slant instead of a cable? I’m not sure what the standard is.

Here’s a quick preview of something I’m working on right now. I’ll talk about it soon.

Chart Preview

Make your own Wooden Buttons

Friday, June 22nd, 2007
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Wooden Button Necklace, not by meIf you have a tree in your garden that can stand the loss of a branch, try making some wooden buttons. There’s a nice step-by-step at Pikku-Kettu Knits, and examples of the neat ways you can make buttons are at Sisäinen villapaita. I don’t speak Finnish, but if you do, there might be some great tips over there. I have no idea what it says, so I apologize if it’s a tutorial on how to poison vagrants by coating your buttons in cyanide. I do not endorse coating buttons with cyanide.

Here’s what it says over here about making buttons:

You will need a piece of dowel [Ed: or a branch!] 1 inch (3 centimeters) in diameter. Place the dowel between pieces of cardboard to shield it, and put it in a bench clamp or vice. Father [Ed: lol are you also picturing him in a sweater vest and horn-rimmed glasses?] can drill two or three holes into the end of the dowel. Center them so you can use them for the holes in the buttons. If you don’t have a drill with a bit, make holes by twisting an awl or leather punch into the wood.

Use a hand jigsaw to saw off rounds of the dowel to the thickness you desire for a button. If you have a triangular file, you can file a design in the top of each button. Make four or five similar buttons so you can use them for a set.

Use a fine sandpaper to smooth off the rough parts. You can stain, paint, or wax the buttons to the desired finish.

These instructions are especially useful for people making a multitude of buttons, because you only have to drill holes once. If you’re planning on countersinking your buttons with a special drill bit (this reduces thread wear), you’ll obviously have to do them individually. Alternatively, you could do them all at once with a thin bit and then once they have been cut into individual buttons, use a larger bit to drill out each hole by no more than a millimetre or so.

Branch-stealing ideas:

  • I’m going to ask the parents if I can steal a branch or two when I get back home.
  • There was a huge storm in Toronto when I was there a week ago, so I might sneak into the forest on the edge of Kingston to see if it took out a few branches over here.
  • I don’t know much about pruning, but if you need to prune your trees, that’s an easy route to getting a branch or two.
  • If you want to steal some branches from the neighbours after they’ve done some gardening, it’s probably best to ask them permission first. That also gives them an opening to tell you about any diseases or parasites that could be clinging to the branches. That way, you don’t have to worry about getting dutch elm disease from your cardigan.

Eve Learns Math (and you can, too!)

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007
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CalculusSo here’s a bunch of math so I can figure out how I should knit my Orangina. I’ve included my calculations so you can get an idea of the process I’m using, but I’ll summarize here by saying that I have a gauge of 14sts/4in which is way off the 24sts/4in that are recommended. With my wider gauge, I should get a wider shirt than the pattern would normally suggest. The cast-on number I’ve calculated, however (which corresponds to a 34in width in my calculations) corresponds to a 36in width in the pattern. That suggests that I would get a skinnier shirt, not a wider shirt, if I were to knit at my much wider gauge. I’ve never knit a shirt before, so I’m imploring for your suggestions. What should I do, knitters? I’m usually proud of my mathematical ability, but in this arena I’m stumped.

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Stitches that only speak when spoken to

Monday, March 12th, 2007
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SSKI have developed this horrible habit of grimacing in the most awful way when I discover something that is just so amazing, so incredibly wonderful, that I know it will change my life. I am given to hyperbole, so I actually grimace quite often (about twice a week, maybe more if it’s a leap year).

I grimaced just now. I grimaced with severity. And who caused this grimacing, you ask? Why, Elizabeth Zimmermann, of course. And I will tell you why. (Otherwise, this post would be kinda pointless, right?)

I borrowed Knitting Around (or, Knitting Without a License) a few weeks ago, and because of all this thesis business I didn’t get to it until a few days ago when I realized it was a day overdue. I decided to read the “Techniques” section at the back of the book before returning it, because I figured there might be some tips in there of which I could make some use. I am so glad I did.

You know how when you SSK, the loop in the back pokes out annoyingly to the side, whereas with a K2tog it sits beautifully and dutifully underneath, like an obedient child? The impertinentness of SSK stitches have always bothered me, and I regularly shift them around after I have knit them to make them look proper. But now there is a better way, a way that will make you make that face that you make when you discover something that is just so amazing, so incredibly wonderful, that you know it will change your life. (Unless you’ve read this book already.)

I will let Elizabeth say it in her own words.

SSK: Barbara Walker alerted most knitters to this. It is a mirror-image of K2tog, and most useful when working decreases in pairs. However, another knitter, Dee Barrington, came up with a slight variation, which we find even more pleasing.

Barbara’s original instructions told us to slip 2 stitches knitwise (one at a time), insert the tip of the left hand needle into the slipped stitches, and knit them together.

Dee tells us to slip the first stitch knitwise, but slip the second stitch purlwise, and proceed as above. Try them both in a very thick wool, and you can see a slight improvement with Dee’s method; slipping as if to purl tucks the second stitch neatly behind the first.

I can imagine it now, and it’s true. Why did I never think of it before? This is absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to SSK!

Continental Knitting Video

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
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Oh yeeeeaaaaah! Here’s a handy video for those folks who haven’t yet drunk the continental kool-aid! I’ve found that the continental method is a lot more variable from person to person than the english method, so even if you already continentalize, it’s interesting to see how other people do it. I’m still working on my technique, and lately I haven’t really liked the way the yarn catches on my left hand sometimes and falls out of my hand other times. It’s really messing up my tension. Continentalists: how do you hold the yarn in your left hand? What do you do to maintain tension?

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/XuRLFl36tDY" height="350" width="425" /]

For those who don’t want to watch the whole thing, here are some highlights:

  • One bonus I didn’t realize about knowing two methods is that by changing up the way you knit, you can avoid repetitive stress injuries. Very important for those folks who knit far too much (I’m looking at you! Yes, all of you!). This is even more important for those folks who are totally pro-crochet or totally pro-knitting. I tried crochet for a day and it really hurt my hands, and I’ve heard from other crochet blogs that they have the same experience sometimes. Being able to create fabrics in many different ways will allow you to strengthen various muscles in your hand and avoid over-stressing certain combinations of muscles that are involved in a particular task. Very “handy” indeed.
  • The woman in the video holds the yarn in her left hand in the same way as the woman from KnittingHelp.com. Wrapped once (or twice) around the pinky, then bent over the index finger. For thinner yarns, you can maintain your tension by wrapping the yarn twice around your left pinky. I’ve been having trouble with slippage recently, so I’ll have to try that out.
  • I’ve tried to knit as tightly as I did with the English method, but continental really loosens up the way you knit. I should be jumping down a few needle sizes and not worry so much about keeping the stitches as tight as they used to be.
  • The woman in the video purls by moving her index finger down over the needle. I purl by pushing the yarn down over the needle with my middle finger. I’ve found that the movement of my index finger is too extreme the way she does it (2πr remember, the arc gets 6 times longer the further out your finger is), so I can save time by slipping a closer finger down over the yarn. I think I’ll stick to that for now.

Tvåändsstickning

Friday, January 19th, 2007
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Brocade Mitten

The mitten above isn’t exactly Tvåändsstickning because it uses two colours, but it’s similar. Tvåändsstickning is Swedish for Two End Knitting (or Twined Knitting). It’s a technique that uses two strands (both ends of the ball of yarn) to create a denser, more wind-resistant fabric that would be perfect for a windy city like Kingston.

I tried to use this method for my cabled hat, but it didn’t go so well. (I’ll post those pics later, I’m too lazy right now.) I’m sorta doing Tvåändsstickning for my current mittens (see above); the ribbed cuff is in two colours and it’s K1P1, so every stitch is in a different colour, hence a different strand. Whereas with ordinary fair isle you’d be keeping one stitch on the bottom and one stitch on top, I decided to twist them to get a dense, Tvåändsstickning-like fabric. They’re coming out so pretty! My contrasting colour is variegated, and it looks like little jewels peeking out from the grey.

Brocade Mitten

Here are some neat Tvåändsstickninglinks:

Tension Tutorial

Thursday, January 11th, 2007
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Tension Swatches

There’s a great Tension Tutorial over at the purl bee. Lots of great pictures and hints as to why you might have certain problems with the fabric you’re knitting.

I’ve been having tension problems of late; I almost finished a hat for myself yesterday but discovered that, as I’d predicted, the cables tightened the body too much and I’d have to start over with a redesign. So I redesigned it and reknit it, and now it looks completely dorky so I’m going to have to rip again. I think the dorkiness is partly because of my tension; I was knitting it on 4mm needles but they really should have been 5mm. Same problem with the scarf for my dad. Ripping is all I’ve been doing these days!

(Found via CRAFT: magazine.)

Knitting Tips

Monday, December 11th, 2006
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Savannahchik Knits is asking for knitting tips. Quite a few really great tips have been submitted. I need to try this Russian join that everyone’s talking about. It’s turning up in more places than polonium-210! (That’s a little KGB joke for ya there.) And of course there’s this great money-saving tip:

I own many dangly beaded stitch markers that are fun to use and almost can be considered knitting ‘jewlery’. However, I have found that when I’m lace knitting my yarn seems to catch on everything: row counters, stitch markers etc. So to help with that problem I tie little markers made from scraps of sock yarn or lace yarn. My yarn doesn’t catch on them and if one slips off the needles it doesn’t fall into the couch cushion – it sticks to the knitting. No more looking for dropped stitch markers.

EDIT, 12:16PM: Two variants of the Russian join can be found at Eunny’s and the Boy who Knits.

I’m knitting Portuguese I think I’m knitting Portuguese I really think so

Friday, October 6th, 2006
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I was knitting at the bus station a few months ago, and a very loud Portuguese woman started talking to me about knitting and how excited she was to see me doing it. She told me that she knitted Portuguese style, and almost without me asking she grabbed my knitting and showed me by wrapping the yarn around her neck and zooming down the row. (She made a mistake close to the beginning but I didn’t have the heart to rip back, so I just kept knitting and fixed the mistake on the way back.)

She was a bit condescending to me, advising that I slip the first stitch on every row, without even realising that I was already doing so. (She seemed to think it prevented your knitting from becoming a triangle, because you’re not really knitting the stitch and so it’s like a decrease.) All in all, it was a weird experience. When my bus arrived, I collected my luggage and she waved and told me to always remember that Jesus loves me. I mean, I’m as WASPy as the next anglican white girl, but that was a bit presumptuous. I smiled and thanked her awkwardly and left. I glanced at the ticket seller on my way out the door, and he seemed to think the whole exchange was quite chuckle-worthy.

The whole point of this story is that I found a cool YouTube video for Portuguese knitting. Despite the weird way I first came across it, it still fascinates me.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/uZ31pk05CBE" height="350" width="425" /]