Knitting Advice and Tips

Measuring Knitting Gauge

Front_Cardigan_500
Here's some advice I gave to a knitter working on the very popular #77 Vine Lace Top-Down Cardigan knitting pattern.  The gauge for this pattern is a little unusual - 8 sts over 3" in St st, but correct! 

The suggestions I made for her might be helpful to anyone who wonders about how to match the gauge of a pattern. . .

Hello SweaterBabe!
I'm having trouble matching the gauge on pattern 77 (topdown vine lace cardigan). I can get 8 st/3" on 13 needles but then I have about 14 rows/4". If I use 11 needles I get the rows right but am more like 10 st/3". Is the gauge duo as listed, 8st/3" and 17rows/4", correct? (I suspect from absence of comment on this on your blog that it is, but wanted to confirm before launching in probably with size 13 needles).

-- Best, Sarah O.

Hi Sarah O.,
Yes - the gauge is correct as stated. I think it's most important to get the st gauge right on. AND, I would be sure to measure the gauge across a wide swatch, even 5" or so so you get a true average.

Please be sure to measure the gauge in the middle of the swatch, away from your CO or BO edges, and to block the swatch first and let it completely dry.

Hopefully some of those things may help get the 10sts/3" that you are achieving on the size 11 needles up a bit?? OR it could be that the yarn you are using will not work? Could it be that it is too thin?

The Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky is a true bulky with enough fullness in the yarn to fill in the holes. . . I don't know what yarn you are using.

Anyhow, that is my recommendation. If after all that, the size 13 needles are still closer to the gauge, then you can try those and watch the length as you go. . . as you may wish to adjust for the difference in row gauge throughout, which should be easier given this is a top-down design that you can try on as you go. Hope that helps!

-- Best, SweaterBabe

Hi SweaterBabe,
Thank you so much, this is very helpful! I think I'm going to go with the smaller needles and make the sweater one size up. (I've done the math and it should work out OK.)

My wool is definitely less bulky than yours (though it is bulky) and it doesn't look right on 13 needles. I know this is a bit risky but I think it will be OK, and I should be able to block the finished thing to make it a big roomier if I need to.

-- Best, Sarah O.

Hi Sarah,
Great! And now for sure I agree with your decision to go with the size 11. You definitely don't want to use the 13's if with the yarn you are using it looks too loose and holey. Knit on!

-- SweaterBabe

Buy the #77 Vine Lace Top-Down Cardigan knitting pattern here.


Chic Cowl Neck Cable Question

Hi Chic Cowl Neck Sweater Knitters (pattern #90)! 

 

I occassionally get questions about the Cabling on the Cowl and thought I would share some of my answers that have helped clarify how the Cowl is worked.

 

At the beginning of the pattern, the Cowl cables are established.  Here is Round 5.

 

Round 5 [Cable Twist]: [P6 (6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8), Work Round 5 of Braided Cable over next 14 sts, p6 (6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8), Work Round 11 of Braided Cable over next 14 sts] 3 times.

So, the Cowl patterning looks like this:

[Rev St st] [Cable A] [Rev St st] [Cable B] [Rev St st] [Cable A] [Rev St st] [Cable B] [Rev St st] [Cable A] [Rev St st] [Cable B] [end of Round marker]

i.e. sections of Rev St st separating the 6 Cable Panels.  The 1st, 3rd, and 5th Cable panels (Cable A) just did a Round 5 Braided Cable Twist, whereas the 2nd, 4th, and 6th Cable panels (Cable B) just did a Round 11 Braided Cable Twist.

Working in patterns as established means this:

On Round 6 of the Cowl, cont with Round 6 of the Braided Cable for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Cables and Round 12 of the Braided Cable for the 2nd, 4th, and 6th Cables.  Keep purling the Rev St st sections.

Then, on Round 7 of the Cowl, cont with Round 7 of the Braided Cable for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Cables and Round 1 of the Braided Cable for the 2nd, 4th, and 6th Cables.  Keep purling the Rev St st sections.

Then, on Round 8 of the Cowl, cont with Round 8 of the Braided Cable for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Cables and Round 2 of the Braided Cable for the 2nd, 4th, and 6th Cables.  Keep purling the Rev St st sections.

etc., etc. through Round 48 of the Cowl.
 
You'll notice that all the NON-Cable Twist Rows are just k2, p2 ribbing (essentially) for the Cable Panel stitches.  So, it's only on the Cable Twisting Rows (every 6th Row) that you need to REALLY PAY attention and do the correct Cable Twist.
 
I hope this helps clarify any confusion!  I staggered the Cables this way to make it LOOK more complicated and textured, not to confuse knitters ;-)

Although the cable-lover in me thinks the end effect is totally worth the extra effort!

Grafting the Cowl

My chunky cowl pattern, #103 Luscious Cabled Cowl (available to Knitting Club Members now and coming to the Pattern Shop in 1-2 weeks) is joined together as a cowl using a "grafting" stitch that is like doing a Kitchner stitch (commonly used to do the toe seam on socks!).  Here are some diagrams to show how I did it.

(Of course, those of you who like to do provisional cast-ons can do that with this cowl pattern.  Then, use the Kitchner stitch to join the "live" stitches of the cast-on to the last row of sts left on the needle.)

Anyhow, back to how I grafted it:

Here is a photo showing how it looks after grafting a few stitches.  Basically, grafting it (or using a Kitchner-like seam stitch) makes it look like you have no seam at all and just continuous knitting (see the photo below after a few grafting stitches have been done). 

So, your seam will follow the path of a knit row and blend right in to the fabric.  It's similar in feel to doing a duplicate stitch (if you are familiar with that).

Step0_500 


You will have the RS of the work facing you AND you need to have a yarn tail that is approximately 4 times the width of the cowl to make sure you have enough to complete this seam.

Each "grafting" seam stitch begins by going under the base of a "knit" stitch from the cast on row (which you see above the knitting needle).  The yarn tapestry needle is inserted under the base of the "V" of a stitch, so it's under 2 strands of yarn as shown below.

Step1_500 

Then, pull the yarn through.  Now, insert the tapestry needle under the LEFT strand/half of the knit stitch that just came off of your knitting needle and then into the stitch on your knitting needle (as if to purl it) as shown below. 

Step2_500 

Pull the yarn through.  That's the basic seam stitch.  Here are a few more seam stitches repeating what you just did to continue illustrating it.

Insert needle under the next st to the left under the 2 strands of the "V".

Step3_500 
Pull yarn through and insert needle under the LEFT half of the knit st that just came off your knitting needle and into the next st on the knitting needle as if to purl. 

Step4_500 

Pull yarn though.  And another time:

Step5_500 

Step6_500 

And so on, and so on.

Be very careful with this project that you don't miss the 3 sts that are kind of hidden under the cable twists of Cowl Row 1.  You need to dig in a little to find them and make sure you catch them.  There are 48 sts on the cast on row and 48 sts on your knitting needle at the end... you want to be sure to match each stitch for stitch so the seam lines up nicely.

Good luck and enjoy the finished cowl!!


Wool versus Cotton in warmer climates?

Dear SweaterBabe,

I live in southern California, so I've knitted with primarily cotton blends. There are gorgeous yarns containing alpaca and wool.

What are the pros and cons of these fibers especially for someone that lives in an area that stays warm throughout the year?

-- Minerva, from the SweaterBabe.com Knitting Club

Dear Minerva,

I think that yarns can be such a personal choice... what feels good to knit with, what feels good against your skin when wearing, how much time you have to care for your knitwear, etc.

I live in Los Angeles, as you may already know, and the weather has been so warm this year! I do wear my non-cotton items, but not as much as I'd like because I work from home (vs. the offices I used to work in that would be so heavily air-conditioned that I could wear scarves and wool sweaters almost year-round!).

I choose to knit mostly with alpaca blends, merino wool blends, etc. because I personally don't find many cottons that feel good to knit with. Cotton does not have as much elasticity as wool and it makes my hands ache after a little bit of knitting, whereas I never have that issue with wool!

I also like the look of alpaca and wool blends. They look more expensive to me and therefore make my finished knitwear more luxurious. . . but that is my own perception.

What do you think?

The other thing about cotton is that it is often a bit heavy compared to the lightness of alpaca and merino. Totally depends on the blend, of course, but I like lighter sweaters.

I'm sure there are opinions across the board on this topic!  Please chime in! 

-- SweaterBabe

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Straighter Edges in Knitting

Dear SweaterBabe,

I have tried to achieve straight edges by knitting into the back of 1st 2 and last 2 stitches of each row it seems to be a bit better but not completely straight.

Help!

-- Angelina, from the SweaterBabe.com Knitting Club

Dear Angelina,

I haven't tried that trick... but I have taught students to make neater edges by increasing their tension just a bit as they do the first stitch on every row.

So, just pull your yarn a bit more (holding it with a tighter tension) when you are working that first knit or purl stitch. That can often help tighten up the edges and make them neater.

My suggestion does assume that you are holding your yarn consistently in your right hand (assuming you are a right-handed knitter!) to maintain even tension as you knit. If not, that may be something that you can practice to make things more even in general and therefore, your edges too!

Hope that helps!

Now - Stockinette Stitch edges are not all that pretty in general for anyone.

I rarely leave a Stockinette Stitch edge "raw" for a finished project. Usually, that edge gets seamed with another edge to form a side seam of a sweater or stitches are picked up along the edge to work a neckline or armhole edging. . .

The other "trick" that is used sometimes is called a "selvage" or "edge st". This means that the 1 st at either edge is worked only every other row on purpose to create a tighter looking edge.

To work a "knit" selvage, you can slip the first stitch on every row (as if you were going to knit it, i.e. knitwise), and then knit the last stitch on every row. This will create an edge that looks like a nice chain going up your work. Give it a try!

-- SweaterBabe

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Using a Steamer for Blocking

Minerva S., a Member of the SweaterBabe.com Knitting Club, asked me this:

Dear SweaterBabe,

What is your opinion on using a steamer to block knitted or crocheted items?

-- Minerva S.

And here is what I suggested:

I use a steam iron to do all of my blocking these days, unless I feel that more blocking is necessary.

If I want more blocking, I use wet handtowels (mostly wrung out) and lay them on top of the pinned down items and let it all air dry.

Are you asking about a steam iron or one of those fancy steamers that has a big water tank that you use for hanging items?

If you mean a steamer that is intended for use while an item is hung, I would definitely NOT recommend that. Most knitwear is too heavy and will stretch out if hung, especially if moisture is added.

-- SweaterBabe

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[K1, yo] 3 times, k1 - all in same stitch?!

Hello Sweaterbabe,

I have been knitting for years but never come across this knitting direction before.

Could you please explain how to to do "k1yo, k1yo, k1yo, k1, all in same stitch". This has got me stumped!!

Thanks in anticipation, Wendy.

Dear Wendy,

Yup - it's a tricky one!

This is how:

K1, but do NOT slip the st off of the left-hand needle,

yo,

now, K1 into the BACK of that same stitch (and still don't slip it off of the left-hand needle),

yo,

now, K1 into the FRONT of that same stitch (like you just did at the beginning of this!),

yo,

and lastly, K1 into the BACK of the same stitch,

let it slip off of your left-hand needle.

Whew!

The directions could have mentionned that you need to do the knitting into the front and back of the stitch (alternating) in order to fit all that in.  I think that would have been a helpful note!

Does it make sense now?  Must be a cool looking, textured stitch pattern!

-- SweaterBabe


Vine Lace Hat question

Dear SweaterBabe,

This question is regarding #78 two skein vine lace hat (a free pattern).

Please help! I am very frustrated trying to figure out the vine lace- I have knitted it and taken it out 5 times trying to get the math correct.

I am ready for row 10 which is row 2 of the vine lace pattern-

Row 10: K2, work row 2 of Vine Lace to last st, k1.

Row 2 (of Vine Lace): K3, *yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1: rep from *, end k1.

I am ending up with extra stitches and not ending on a k1.

Pattern states Mult of 9 sts plus 4

Can you please tell me stitch by stitch how I should knit Row 10?

Thank you.

-- Gail

Hi Gail,

Ooh - didn't mean to make this pattern frustrate!

Let me see if this helps:

This is what the Lace Row is for your Row 10:

Row 2: K3, *yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1; rep from *, end k1.

There are 70 sts total, but only the middle 67 are the Lace pattern, i.e. there are "7" repeats of the lace.

It can help to have 2 markers separate the Lace from the 2 edge sts at the beginning and 1 edge st at the end (of the Even Numbered Rows).

So, for Row 10: K2, slip marker (if using),

then the Lace part: K3,
*yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1;
*yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1;
*yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1;
*yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1;
*yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1;
*yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1;
*yo, k2, skp, k2tog, k2, yo, k1; k1.
Then, k1.

I would also suggest double checking the TOTAL number of sts you have. It will be 70 until you hit the shaping at the top of the hat. The lace does not mess up the stitch count. Does that help? Hope so!!

Best,

SweaterBabe


Right versus Left in a knitting (or crochet) pattern?

Dear SweaterBabe,

Hi I have a question about a knitting pattern for a baby hooded jacket.

The patteren gives instructions for a boy's left front and a girl's right front ect. but does that mean the actual front of the item as when it's worn or is it the front left that would be facing you if it were lying flat in front of you?

Thanks for any help.

Dear Knitter,

The standard convention (at least here in the U.S., and in the patterns I've done for Vogue and seen in magazines like Rowan and Rebecca) is to refer to the Right and Left AS WORN.  So, the Right Front is the Right Front of the sweater-wearer.

I think it is the convention that makes the most sense and you should find most all patterns follow it.

I can't vouch for all patterns, so it's a good idea to read ahead (like you do for recipes!) and just make sure things make sense, especially if there are differences between the left and front (e.g. buttonholes can be on the right vs. left depending on the gender you are knitting for!). 

I hope pattern writers are using the standard convention, but you never know!

-- SweaterBabe


Help on Chic Cowl Neck Cables

Dear Knitters of the Chic Cabled Cowl Neck,

I've had a few emails where I've confused knitters on how the Cowl of this Cowl Neck is to be knit!  Sorry!  Here is an explanation that I emailed a knitter that helped to clarify the instructions.

It is actually a more complicated looking thing than it really is to knit!  I promise!

You basically have for each Round of the Cowl (assume size XS):

[p6] [Braided Cable A] [p6] [Braided Cable B] [p6] [Braided Cable A] [p6] [Braided Cable B] [p6] [Braided Cable A] [p6] [Braided Cable B]

Now, on EVERY Round, EXCEPT the Cable Twisting Rounds, which are Rounds 5, 11, 17, 23, 29, 35, 41, and 47 (i.e. every 6th Round), you are doing the same thing:

[p6] [k2 (p2, k2) 3 times] [p6] [k2 (p2, k2) 3 times] [p6] [k2 (p2, k2) 3 times] [p6] [k2 (p2, k2) 3 times] [p6] [k2 (p2, k2) 3 times] [p6] [k2 (p2, k2) 3 times]

Notice that for the above, it doesn't matter if it's Cable A or B, the non-cable twisting rounds are all the same "k2, (p2, k2) 3 times".

Now, on Round 5 of the Cowl, the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Cables (the "A" cables) will do the Cable Twist like this:
Round 5 of the Braided Cable [RS – Cable Twist]: *Sl 4 sts onto cable needle and hold in front, k2, p the 2 p sts from cable needle, k the 2 sts from cable needle*, p2, rep from * to * once more.

BUT, the 2nd, 4th, and 6th Cables (the "B" cables) will do the Cable Twist like this:
Round 11 of the Braided Cable [Cable Twist]: K2, p2, sl 4 sts onto cable needle and hold in back, k2, p the 2 p sts from cable needle, k the 2 sts from cable needle, p2, k2.

On Round 11 of the Cowl, the A cables will do this:
Round 11 of the Braided Cable [Cable Twist]: K2, p2, sl 4 sts onto cable needle and hold in back, k2, p the 2 p sts from cable needle, k the 2 sts from cable needle, p2, k2.

While the B cables will do this:
Round 5 of the Braided Cable [RS – Cable Twist]: *Sl 4 sts onto cable needle and hold in front, k2, p the 2 p sts from cable needle, k the 2 sts from cable needle*, p2, rep from * to * once more.

Round 17 of the Cowl will be like Round 5 of the Cowl.

Round 23 of the Cowl will be like Round 11 of the Cowl, etc., etc.

I hope this helps clear up some confusion!  I really designed it this way so it would look really intricate, but not be hard to do.

Let me know if I need to explain more!