Spud says (the blog)

Posts Tagged ‘Knitalong’

September 13, 2012

Seams Harder Than It Really Is…

Hi again, Knitters!

Neighbor Elizabeth, back as promised, to help make seaming the Chinese Lantern Hat seem easier! This is Part 2, continued from my earlier post about blocking.

Part 2 Seaming

Your hat should be nice and dry, and will have bloomed nicely. Blooming is that plumping of the yarn that happens when you wash it for the first time. Outer, as you may have noticed, blooms into the most lovely, squishy fabric!

In preparation for seaming, replace the waste yarn still in the stitches at the top of the hat with the working yarn. To do this, cut the yarn, leaving a 9” tail. (The pattern does not say to do this, but I recommend it.)

Cut yarn before threading through held stitches.

Thread yarn into the live stitches with blunt-tipped tapestry needle, and, starting with the first stitch on the right…

…thread yarn tail thorough the held stitches at the top of the hat.

After all the stitches have been run through, remove the waste yarn, and cinch the top of the hat closed by pulling on the working yarn.

Pull yarn to snug up stitches.

All cinched-up!

Secure the end of the yarn to the WS of your work by making a knot though one of the existing stitches; weave in the end. (I would also recommend weaving in any other loose ends, while you’re at it.)

Secure yarn used to cinch top with a knot on the WS.

Once all of your ends are taken care of, we can begin seaming. We will start at the very top of the hat, and work our way all the way down to the edge. The seaming method called for is Mattress Stitch, which will give an invisible seam on the RS of the hat. It is worked with the RS of your work facing you, so you can check your progress for accuracy. We will be working one full stitch in from both edges (your garter selvage stitches). This does add some bulk to the WS of the hat, but is the easiest to work.

To begin, you will need to cut a length of the yarn you washed to about 24”. In my opinion, using yarn that has already been washed for seaming makes the yarn behave better ;) . 24” is long enough to work the entire seam, but if you need to redo all or some of the seam for any reason, you can use a fresh piece. (Multiple, shorter lengths are preferable to seaming with one continuous length of yarn, that might weaken from the abrasion of the fibers caused by pulling the yarn in and out of the knitting repeatedly.)

Attach yarn to the WS of your work and hold the edges together.

With the garter stitch selvage tucked inside, find the first stitch to pull your needle through:

Bring needle tip from back to front through the first hole on the right-hand edge.

Go to left-hand edge, and insert needle from front to back underneath first stitch; bring under second stitch, and up from back to front.

Snug up seam stitches as you go, rather than waiting. The seam length can be adjusted somewhat after you are done.

Of special importance: there are two individual stitches to be worked on the right-hand edge for each of the Half Fisherman’s rib stitches – all the way down to the edge. Make sure you take these stitches one at a time, together with a stitch from above, rather than lumped together as your two stitches for seaming.

From this point forward in the seaming, we will always work two stitches at the same time catch two stitches/bars on one side go back into the last hole you came out of on the other side, and catch the next two stitches/bars.

Back into original hold on right-hand edge, under the next two stitches, and out again.

Choose the corresponding loops for the rows you are seaming, and not get them out of order. If you are unsure, you can tug the loop to see which stitch moves.

Continue seaming the edges together. Check your progress occasionally, to make sure everything is lining up.

Visually check your progress, to see if your edges are aligned.

When you have joined the last sts at the bottom edge, tidy up the edge by straightening individual stitches, and catching the loops there:

Tidy the tubular edge, evening out and securing any loose stitches.

Weave the tail into the seam, pulling to adjust the length of the ribbing, before securing.

Before weaving in the last end (attached at the top inside), check the length of the seam by trying on the hat. If you would like to adjust the seam length to be shorter, loosen the knot that holds it in place, and pull this yarn tighter. If the seam length seems too short (your seem bunches up or puckers, you can let out some yarn by gently tugging at the lower part of the hat to feed additional yarn into the seam from the top. Once you are satisfied with the length, secure and weave in the loose end.

You’re all done! I hope you had fun – I sure did! The hat should form to the shape of the wearer’s head after the first wearing or two. You can wear it down, as I do, or pushed back, in a slouchy fashion. I hope you will share your finished projects with us! :)

Here’s mine:

My photo’s a bit out of focus, but here’s my finished hat!

Happy Knitting!

~ Neighbor Elizabeth

September 6, 2012

Seams to Me, We Might be Ready to Block!

Hello, fellow Spud & Chloë Knitters!

It’s Neighbor Elizabeth, back to help with the first part of the final two steps in the Chinese Lantern Hat Knitalong.

PART 1

First, give yourself a big pat on the back! After successfully navigating the chart, it’s time for blocking. Blocking this hat is not very labor-intensive; however, it will require plenty of time to dry. My hat took two full days, under a fan! Not to worry, though, it’s worth the wait to have everything just right for seaming. To block the hat, first follow the instructions in the pattern that tell you to thread waste yarn through the final 9 stitches on the needle, leaving an extra long tail attached. In my case, after knitting both the swatch and the hat, the amount of yarn leftover was about 6½ yards, so I just left it all attached. Don’t forget to tie the ends of the waste yarn together, so your stitches don’t come loose ;) .

Threading waste yarn through the final stitches.

Top of the hat, shown with waste yarn threaded through the final stitches.

Ready to soak!

Next, place the hat, along with the attached yarn for seaming, in a bowl, or sink, filled with lukewarm water. Submerge the hat slowly into the water, without agitating it, and allow it to soak for about 30 minutes, or until it is completely saturated.

Drain the water, and gently squeeze out most of the excess. Lay the hat open on a doubled bath towel, with the extra yarn next to it; roll-up the towel, pressing down to remove remaining water from the hat. Unroll the towel, and carefully transfer the hat to a clean dry towel, or blocking boards, if you have them. Lay the hat so the RS is facing up.

Now, flatten the surface of the hat, so the lanterns will lie nicely next to each other; carefully line-up the ribbing on the stems with the ribbing on the band, so the lines are relatively straight; and open up any areas that appear distorted.

Next, begin shaping the hat to the specified dimensions in the pattern. You may find your hat has grown considerably in some areas, and shrunk in others. This is normal. To get as close as possible to the given measurements, it is o.k. to push some areas together, and pull others apart. If necessary, pin your hat in place.

The extra yarn can be coiled loosely off to the side to dry. In my opinion, it is better to seam with Outer yarn that has been “washed”, than with yarn that has not. More on that subject later…

Blocked hat, drying…

I’ll be back later, with Part 2: Seams harder than it really is …

Happy Knitting!

~ Neighbor Elizabeth

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