Spud says (the blog)

Archive for August 2012

August 31, 2012

Personalized Piggies

Piggies knit by Tina M. Moser

Working for a yarn company, you never really know what surprises the mail will hold. When a package comes with three winged little piggies…well, it’s going to be a fun day!

Tina M. Moser (Tinoose on Ravelry) is the knitter of these whimsical piggies and her take on the free Oink pattern really shows how a little imagination can result in personalized piggies! Gyoza the demure dumpling, Captain Chops with his jaunty eye patch, and Carnitas in her girlie, sparkly bow. How would you make your piggies your own?


The Details

Pattern: Oink
Designer: Susan B. Anderson
Size: 3½” tall x 2½” wide
Needles: Size 5 (3.75 mm) dpns
Yarn: Spud & Chloë Sweater shown in Watermelon #7512, Popsicle #7501, and Igloo #7517
Link: To download the free pattern, click here.

August 27, 2012

Onward and Upward!

Hello, Knitalong-Knitters!

Neighbor Elizabeth stopping by to share a little bit about the Chinese Lantern Hat design, and to give a few more tips about the chart and shaping stitches used.

Knitalong hat with chart completed, viewed from the RS.

Knitalong hat with chart completed, viewed from the WS.

Background

I wanted this hat to be not only interesting to look at, but interesting to knit also. While designing, I considered several things:

  • The lanterns should appear to grow and rise up the sides of the hat.  That is why the “stems” for each lantern continue in the Half-Fisherman’s rib pattern used for the edge.
  • The hat should appear as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside. To achieve that goal, special care was taken to select just the right combination of stitches that would maintain the flow of the stitches being shaped on both sides.
  • The hat should be visually interesting from all angles. This is why the lanterns appear to be embossed on the surface of the hat, and why I chose the Outer yarn to bring added texture and dimension to the appearance. The Chinese Lantern Hat is meant to be a bit rustic and fun! The flower at the crown punctuates this playfulness. ;)
  • The one thing I did change from my original concept was to knit the hat flat, rather than in the round. Why? Because both the cast-on and the blocking for this pattern are difficult, in my opinion, when knitted in the round.

I guess that’s enough background; now, let’s get back to those tricky stitches!

Upper Portion

So far, we’ve completed the ribbed band in Half-Fisherman’s Rib stitch, and we’re ready to move on to the upper portion of the chart, beginning with Row 16.

Updated Chart

Before we continue, though, let’s make sure you have the most up-to-date version of the chart. While writing this blog post, I realized there were errors in the chart. I have corrected these, and you can download a new copy of the pattern, if you’re not sure.

Increases

Looking at the remainder of the chart, have you noticed much of the shaping – increasing and decreasing of stitches – happens on wrong side rows? You might be scratching your head, wondering if that’s right? It is. In lace knitting, shaping can happen on one, or both, sides of your work. The direction, or even if the stitches will slant, is determined by the type of increase/decrease used.

All of the stitch increases for the Chinese Lantern Hat are done on the WS, and are accomplished by increasing multiple stitches from one stitch. The number of stitches increased varies:

Inc to 3 – Adds two stitches.

Inc to 5 – Adds four stitches.

Inc to 7 – Adds six stitches.

Decreases

The pattern calls for multiple types of one-stitch decreases:

K2tog on RS – Rows 37 and 43.

P2tog on WS – Row 32 only.

SSK on RS – Row 37 only.

SSP on WS – Row 32 only.

SSP on RS – used only once, in Row 37

SSK on WS – Rows 22, 34, and 40.

K2tog on WS – Rows 22, 34, and 40.

All of the two-stitch decreases are Centered Double Decreases. The stitch count decreases by two, producing no visible slant when viewed from the RS, but, rather, a centered, vertical line.

CDD on RS – Centered Double Decrease worked on and viewed from RS.

CDD on WS – Awkward to work on the WS; the resulting decrease will be a perfect match to the previous photos, when viewed from the RS.

Hopefully, things are a lot easier to visualize now! Continue to work all the way though the chart, and be sure to let me know if you have questions. I am always happy to help over on Ravelry, in the Friends of Spud and Chloe Group – look for the Chinese Lantern Hat knitalong thread.

Next Week

Seams to me, we might be ready to block!

August 20, 2012

Totally Tubular

Hello, friends, Neighbor Elizabeth here!

Now that we’ve gotten our stitches cast on and we’re ready to continue with the pattern, let’s have a good look at that chart. Yikes!!!! Does the chart look intimidating? It’s not so bad, really. There are just a few things you need to keep in mind.

Stitches are handled differently depending on whether you are working on the right side (RS) or the wrong side (WS) of your work. For example, when we knit stockinette stitch flat, we know to knit on the RS, and purl on the WS, right? (Looking at the Stitch Key, the same symbol is used to indicate this for both sides.) Charts are merely a translation of what you see on the front/right side (RS), or “pretty” side, of your work. This means that you follow the sequence of stitches for RS rows from right to left, and WS rows from left to right. (The row numbers on the chart are your clues to which direction you should be following from.)

The other thing that might be a little unfamiliar with this chart, unless you knit a lot of lace, is the gray shaded “no stitch” areas. These “stitches” act as placeholders in the chart, and either don’t exist yet, or don’t exist anymore, due to increases and decreases. Think of it like a map vs. a globe. It’s very hard to show something with a curve on a flat surface, so maps must leave out certain details for practical reasons. And, don’t forget, if you just can’t get the chart to work for you, you can always write out the pattern. (Many knitters do this, anyway, so they can doublecheck that their understanding of the stitches matches what is in the chart!)

Now, back to the knitting….

Kitchener Rib Cast-On Using a Crochet Chain (cont’d from previous blog post)

Step Three

At the bottom of page 2 of the pattern PDF, you will see that under the hat instructions there are reminders to change your needle size as you work through the chart. For Rows 1 – 6, you will use your smallest needle, for rows 7 – 15 you will use your medium size needle, and so on. Begin working the chart from Row 1, a RS (right side) row. The first, and last, charted stitch are selvage stitches. For this pattern, they are always knit stitches. The first four rows of the chart make up the tubular edge. Every other stitch, not including the selvage, is slipped, holding the yarn in front, toward you.

Helpful hint: Row 1 seems counterintuitive. I always want to slip the stitch I am supposed to knit, but trust the pattern. It is correct. By Row 3, it will clear.

Step 3: Row 1 knitted stitch.

Step 3: Row 1 slipped stitch.

Rows 5 and 6 are regular 1 x 1 ribbing, and act as set-up rows for the Half-Fisherman’s ribbing in Rows 7 – 15.

Step 3: Ribbed band viewed from the RS after row 6 is complete.

Step Four

Now it’s time to remove the waste yarn!

Step 4: Undo the bound-off end of your provisional crochet chain.

Step 4: Open up all of the loops from the provisional crochet chain.

Step 4: Carefully remove the waste yarn.

Step 4: Tug on the edging horizontally and you will see the magic of this Kitchener Rib cast-on!

Step Five

Finishing the ribbed band for the hat is the final part of this Blog post. Whew! But, pretty soon, you’ll have done it! Switch to your middle sized needle (used for Rows 7 – 15). Continue working the chart from RS Row 7. Nothing tricky, this is the same Half-Fisherman’s Rib Stitch used for our swatch, and the needle should be the same size that gave you gauge. Special note on finished hat sizing: Because of the hat’s design, the ribbed edge is the only easy place to modify the finished depth of the hat. I designed it to fit low on the brow and forehead, as shown on the lovely model. If you would prefer a more traditional fit, simply leave off rows 14 and 15. This will reduce the finished depth by about ½ inch. I went ahead and did all 15 rows for my hat. The edging measures about 2½” gently stretched open.

Step 5: Ribbed edge viewed from the RS…

Step 5: …and, from the WS.

Next Time

Onward and upward! The shaping techniques that will make our lanterns start their ascent.

August 17, 2012

How We Got That Ribbed Edge

Howdy, Spud & Chloë Pals! Neighbor Elizabeth here.

Well, how did the swatching go? Are you anxious to get started on your hat? Today, we’ll cover steps one and two of setting up our stitches for the tubular edge on the Chinese Lantern Hat using the Kitchener Rib Cast-On technique. (Step three will be covered next time, along with the chart.) This particular cast-on technique works well with the cotton/wool Outer yarn because it maintains its size and shape. I learned how to do this from one of my favorite knitting references, Big Book of Knitting by Katharina Buss.

Supplies

For the cast-on/set-up row, you will need:

  • Size K crochet hook
  • Smooth waste yarn close in size to Outer
  • The largest of the three needles sizes you will use for your hat

For my hat, I used several strands of thinner cotton yarn held together to match the weight of Outer as my waste yarn. The needle size you choose will be a US 10 (6 mm) or two sizes larger than the size required to match gauge (needed for Step Three). My largest needle size, based on my gauge swatch, is a US 10½ (6.5 mm).

Kitchener Rib Cast-On Using a Crochet Chain

Step One

The pattern tells us to loosely crochet a chain of a minimum of 29 sts with the waste yarn. It should be at least 30 sts, but I recommend more, in case you have difficulty getting your needle into the next stitch. (I made mine with 30, but would have been happier with 40. ;) )

Make your crochet chain.

Step Two

Turn the chain over, so the raised ridge of stitches is facing up, and begin to cast-on as follows:

Knit into the first raised ridge stitch of the crochet chain.

Knit the second stitch in the same manner.

Before knitting into the third stitch, make a yarn over.

Knit into the third stitch.

Four stitches total–viewed from the back, it’s easy to see the yarn over.

Continue casting on with a yarn over in between each stitch until you have 58 sts total, ending with a knit stitch.

Up Next

Making Magic: Knitting the ribbed band and working from a chart!

Happy Knitting!

~ Neighbor Elizabeth

August 13, 2012

Swatch City

Hi, Knitters!

Are you dreaming about cooler days? Ready for some autumn inspiration? Join in this month’s knitalong, and make the new Chinese Lantern Hat with me! I’m Neighbor Elizabeth, and, starting today, and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be here to help you each step of the way, beginning with one of the most important steps – the dreaded gauge swatch.

Completed swatch viewed from the front…

…and from the back!

Nobody likes this step. It seems like a terrible waste of time, yarn, and, honestly, it’s boring, right? I feel your pain, really, I do, but I make them anyway, because there are some big benefits!

  • A chance to work with this yarn, in this particular stitch pattern, and to develop a sense of both. Practice makes perfect!
  • The finished swatch is a visual reference for the correct gauge. Whenever in doubt, it can be compared to what is currently being knit.
  • Needle sizes can be adjusted prior to cast-on. This should save the frustration of re-knitting a project because the finished dimensions were off.

Case in point: I was knitting my own gauge swatch on my trusty size 8 needles, just like I’ve done twice before for this very same hat, except, today, and who knows why, my gauge was too tight. Rrrrip! Out it came, and I tried again on size 9s. Perfect! I can now change my needle sizes to: US7, US9, and US 10½, before I actually cast on for the hat. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you…

Let’s get started on the gauge swatch!

Supplies

  • Your favorite color of Spud & Chloë Outer yarn (I’m using the new color, Rhino, #7220)
  • US size 8 (5 mm) knitting needles (your choice of: long, straight needles, a circular needle long enough to work with flat, or, my personal favorite, a set of interchangeable needles with size 8 tips).
  • A ruler, or other device for measuring gauge
  • A copy of the Chinese Lantern Hat pattern, available here.

List of Abbreviations

  • CO – cast-on
  • BO – bind-off
  • sts – stitches
  • Rep – repeat
  • K1b – knit into the front of the stitch located one row below the current row. (See photos.)

K1B Step 1: Insert your needle into the row below.

K1B Step 2: Wrap your yarn around the needle as you usually do.

K1B Step 3: Proceed to pull the new loop forward.

K1B Step 4: Drop the stitch off the left needle.

Half Fisherman’s Rib Gauge Swatch

CO 17 sts.

Row 1: K1, *K1, P1. Rep from * to last 2 sts. K2.

Row 2: K1, *P1, K1b. Rep from * to last 2 sts. P1, K1.

Rep Rows 1 and 2 12 times more. 26 rows total have been knitted.

BO all sts purlwise.

Finished swatch should measure approximately 5 ¼” square. (Perfect for an extra-large mug ;) .)

Measuring for Gauge

Before you check your gauge, tug at the sides of the swatch to allow the “floats” created by the K1b stitches to settle in place. Then, just let it relax, and count the number of stitches and the number of rows in 4″.

Stitch Gauge: 12 ½ sts = 4″

Row gauge: 20 rows = 4″

For this hat, it is not necessary to block your swatch, but, if desired, soak swatch in lukewarm water and roll in a towel to remove excess water. Gently form it back into a square without stretching it too much. The size should not vary significantly from the finished dimensions when dry. This is all the information you need to make your very own mug mat, I mean, gauge swatch! Don’t forget, if you need help, you can find me answering questions over at the Friends of Spud & Chloë Group on Ravelry. (I’m kittyli over there.)

Happy Knitting!

~ Neighbor Elizabeth

Up Next

The Kitchener Rib Cast-On using a Crochet Chain, which will forever put an end to the question “How do they get that ribbed edge to look like that?”