2013 is coming to a close, and what a productive year it was for me! Lots of patterns published this year, both self-published and in magazines. I already have a dozen lined up for 2014 and more to come! Whew! Here is a photo recap of what came off my needles in 2013:
I am working on a new design in luscious Malabrigo Rios that incorporates twisted stitches. There are two categories of twisted stitches: knit and purl stitches that are worked individually through the back loop, and a pair of stitches that are worked together to mimic a 2-stitch cable (also called travelling stitches). Today I am writing about the knit and purl stitches that are individually twisted.
Why twisted stitches? Why not just work regular knits and purls? I think twisted stitches have much better stitch definition and make the stitch pattern really pop out.
I am a loose knitter, and no matter how many needle sizes I go down, my rib always looks stretched out. I've tried everything I can think of: ridiculously small needles, twisting the knit stitches then untwisting them on the next row, etc and nothing seems to help. So I have mostly switched to working a twisted rib.
Twisting the knit stitches keeps them nice and crisp against the background of purls. Twisting the purl stitches doesn't seem to make it look much different, but if you are working flat, then knowing how to work a twisted purl stitch is necessary. All the twisted knit stitches on the right side of your work need to be twisted purl stitches on the wrong side.
Twisted knit stitch, also known as knitting through the back loop. This is usually abbreviated 'k1tbl'. Normally we would insert the needle through the front part of the stitch, but to make a twisted knit stitch we insert the needle through the back part of the stitch. Wrap the yarn around and complete the stitch as usual.
Twisted purl stitch, usually abbreviated 'p1tbl'. Purling through the back loop is less common than knitting through the back loop, and can be a bit mysterious to figure out. I promise it is easy! The trick is how to maneuver the needle. With the right needle, insert it through the stitch, from left to right, from the back of the stitch to the front. Pushing the needle to the front of the works twists the stitch. See how it is twisted? Now wrap the yarn around and complete the stitch as usual. Not too hard, right?
Twisted Rib is definitely firmer than plain rib, but is still a good option for cuffs, neck bands and hat brims. If you are making a sweater with a background of Reverse Stockinette stitch, a single column of twisted knit stitches make a nice pretend 'side seam'. Try some twisted rib and compare it with plain rib. Do you like the stitch definition better?
Once you have mastered knitting and purling through the back loop, you are ready for a new challenge: working twisted stitches in a cable pattern. My upcoming design uses twisted stitches to create a zig-zag cable on a background of twisted rib.
Stay tuned for more details about this pattern! Until then, Happy New Year!
What's this? Only 8 more days until Christmas??? Well, if you are looking to make a last-minute gift, then maybe my new pattern can help you out. Meet Raissa Cowl, a bias striped cowl with twisted fringe.
Raissa Cowl, a bias-striped cowl with twisted fringe, is a great stash-busting project that is fun and easy to knit.
Single row stripes make every row a right-side row, which means NO purling.The ends are incorporated into the fringe, which means NO weaving in ends.
Raissa Cowl can be made with any gauge, in any width and circumference. It is all up to you! The cowl in the photos used a total of 14 different yarns; most are worsted weight yarn, plus other weights of yarn with 2 or more strands held together.
My sample cowl is 6" wide (not including fringe) and 26" in circumference. I was able to knit the whole thing in about 5 hours, plus another hour or two to twist the fringe. I plan on keeping this cowl for myself, but have a new box of leftovers waiting to become another cowl. This one will be a mix of magenta, teal and grey. Who will it go to? I have no idea! I just love stripes and using up leftover bits.
If you hurry, you can get Raissa for 50% off. Sale ends midnight December 18th, GMT. No coupon code is needed.
It's finished!!! Yaaaay!! I am quite pleased with how it turned out. Before sewing the main piece and lining together I hand-basted the whole thing together so that the velour couldn't shift around. It took me about an hour and half, but well worth the effort and all the crouching down on the carpet. I sewed it all together very slowly and carefully with the walking foot and didn't have too much trouble.
Things I learned while sewing this project:
And that is about it! Hubby's smoking jacket is already wrapped up under our tiny tree. I don't know if I can wait 14 more days for him to open it!!
You know those days when it seems like everything goes wrong? Yep, I had one of those days and it occured the first day I started working on my husband's smoking jacket. First, the pieces are so long it was pointless trying to use my cutting board. I didn't want to pull a Lucy Ricardo and cut a robe-shaped hole into my carpet, so I opted for cutting on my kitchen floor. So fine, I put on a movie and spend the next two hours wedged between my stove and refrigerator cutting out all the pieces. I figured it would be somewhat difficult sewing the velour, so I decided using my walking foot would be the best course. I attached it to my sewing machine and started to sew a test swatch. It went fine for a few seconds, then I heard a loud clanking a realized my walking foot had come apart. A spring had come loose in a very awkward place. It took me awhile to fix it, but eventually I got it to work again. More sewing on the test swatch, and another clanking. Twice more the walking foot broke, and I finally gave up and shoved the pieces back in the box.
Fine. I will just move on to overlocking the edges of the brocade with my serger. You just look at brocade and it starts to unravel, so I wanted to get this done quickly. I was serging happily, and suddenly my serger stopped. Nothing was jammed, and the light was still on so I knew it was still getting power, but the motor wouldn't go. It took some fiddling to realize that the cord was starting to come out of the pedal.
All the while, several hours had gone by and I felt like I hadn't accomplished much. Once the brocade pieces were all serged, I went down to a local craft store that sells presser feet and bought a new walking foot (in fact, one that seems to be much nicer than the one I previously used) and also a roller foot. I have never used a roller foot, but I read that they are good for bulky fabrics (like velour) and slippery fabrics (like brocade). I tried out my new walking foot briefly, and it seems to be good. But of course, my husband came home two hours early, so the sewing had to stop and quickly get thrown under a blanket.
Yesterday I had time to start sewing for real! I wasn't feeling confident about sewing the velour, so I started with the brocade pieces. I certainly won't win any prizes for my sewing, but I am pleased with it so far.
Now, before you start laughing, let's keep in mind that my dress form is MUCH MUCH smaller than my tall, barrel-chested husband, and the brocade is the lining and NOT the main fabric. The only part of this that will show is a bit at the collar and cuffs. And speaking of cuffs, don't these sleeves look ridiculously long?? I love a good turn-back cuff, but really! There isn't a sneaky way to measure my husband's wingspan while he's asleep, so I guess I'll have to wait and see. After lunch I'm going to muster up my courage and start sewing the velour. Wish me luck!
I have been so busy the last two months with commissioned projects that I haven’t had much I can share with you. It is hard to keep them a secret for so long, but I promise they are worth the wait! I’m rounding third base with my final project, and soon I can breathe again and knit at a (somewhat) more leisurely pace.
I have been itching to sew something for a long time. In fact, I have so many summer projects that I never got to, plus projects from last winter that have languished in my fabric bin. But, there is nothing like the motivation of gift giving to get you started! I hadn’t planned on making any Christmas gifts this year, but it seems that I have one to work on. My dear husband has now asked me three times to make him a smoking jacket. Yes, an old-fashioned martini-with-a-cigar kind of smoking jacket. Sometimes I don’t take his requests seriously (like the time he wanted an R2D2 hat, come on!) but since he has brought it up three times, I think he means business. So, last night while he was busy tending the fireplace, I snuck into my room and looked for a sewing pattern. It is really just a fancy, short bathrobe, right?
I found Butterick B5830, a quilted bathrobe with a shawl collar. I figured I could just shorten it and leave off the quilting. Perhaps I’ll add a band of contrast to the pocket to make it fancy. This morning I headed off to the fabric store. I wasn’t sure what kind of fabric I would be looking for. A quick Google search told me that the old smoking jackets were made out of velvet and satin. I did want it to be nice, but should it be that fancy? My husband isn’t really a fancy kind of guy. I recall my grandma telling me that back in the ‘50s she made my grandpa a smoking jacket out of brown corduroy. I don’t think my husband is a corduroy kind of guy either. But, as usual, I just wandered around the fabric aisles until something struck me. And, boy, did something strike me! First I saw velour. Usually I don’t like velour because it makes me think of those obnoxious Juicy Couture sweatsuits that women wear far too often. But as long as I didn’t scrawl JUICY across the lower half, perhaps velour would be good. Definitely more washable than velvet. But what kind of contrast to go with it? I was thinking a jewel tone dull satin, but then I came across this lovely brocade. Having made myself a formal gown out of brocade last year, I already knew it wasn’t too difficult to work with; definitely easier than a slippery satin. But is the pattern too much? This is for a man who wears camouflage and boots every working day. I hemmed and hawed and looked at every other fabric in the store. I still loved it the most. Tough, he will just have to like it!
I looked over the pattern and it seems pretty easy. As soon as I finish up my knitting I can begin!!
Congratulations to Ms. Ardell, the winner of the Bearfoot yarn! She is going to make a pair of socks to keep her feet warm in the coming sub-zero temperatures. Yikes!!
I hope everyone is enjoying their gift-making. I have started my only handmade present this year, a smoking jacket for my husband. I'll blog about it later. Happy weekend!
I have recently received a couple skeins of Mountain Colors Bearfoot, one to try out myself and the other to give away!
Here is the technical info about the yarn: Mountain Colors Yarns Bearfoot (60% superwash wool, 25% mohair, 15% nylon); 400yds per 100g skein.
When I first opened the package I was struck by two things: the intense saturation of the colors and the incredible softness of the yarn. The colors I received are Harmony Sunset (wine/rust) and Lupine (royal/purple/green).
The yarn has a bit of a halo to it, due to being 25% mohair. Though this is intended as a sock yarn, I’m not much of a sock knitter, so I can see this being great for fingerless gloves, cowl or shawl. With 400 yards in a skein, I could definitely make a good sized shawl for myself.
I decided to try out a variety of stitch patterns in the Harmony Sunset skein. I used a size US 2 needle, but, being a very loose knitter, it is probably closer to a size US 4 for a more ‘average’ knitter. I worked up my swatch in Stockinette stitch, a knit/purl texture, simple cables, and simple lace.
In my opinion, every type of stitch pattern looked awesome. The yarn has a slight halo from the mohair, but it doesn’t affect the stitch definition at all. Bearfoot is an awesome powerhouse yarn that could handle a wide variety of projects. Soft enough to be next to the skin, and firm enough (thanks to the nylon) for hardwearing socks. Since I’m not much of a sock knitter, I think I’ll use the remainder of my skein for a cowl in some sort of lace texture.
So, the Lupine colorway is up for grabs! Who wants it? Leave me a comment and tell me how *you* would use this yarn, and I’ll pick a winner at random on December 6th.
Big thank you to Mountain Colors Yarns for providing this gorgeous yarn!
Cassie loves to knit, read and cook. She sometimes does all three at the same time.