Knitting Love

One thing about knitter get togethers is that there is always a plethora of incredible handknits. The Cornwall retreat is no exception.

I took photos after class of people who were wearing handknits – I didn’t catch everyone but here is a representative sample.

Kelly with her Reversible Cable Shawl

Kelly with her Tangled Yoke

Ali's Shur'tugals (in Sokkusu-O)

Ingrid's Brainless socks in Wollmeise

Jane's Hap Shawl in Jamieson

Tricia & Lilith with their Caricia shawls

Michelle with her Aeolian Shawl

Judith with her colourwork jumper

Chris with her colourwork vest

Dominique with a gorgeous lace shawl

Sam with a soft cushy shawl (alpaca silk!)

Mairead with her twisted cables jumper

The craftsmanship and pride in these garments never fails to impress me. I think too that the hotel staff don’t quite know what hit them – I caught a few of them looking amazed and a little dazed after we paraded past them in our handknits.

While we are on knitting, my Lucky Sunday ruminations relate to the kindness of fellow knitters. I love being part of a network of knitters. Never have I been a part of something that is so infused with kindness and plain simple love. There is nothing like a knitted gift to banish the blues, or when life has given you a few knocks a little too close together, to put the world right again. A couple years ago I was going through a rough patch. And then out of the blue, I received a parcel in the post. Inside it, was this:

Love in a stitch

It is a Forest Canopy Shawl knit up in in a cosy, soft and scrumptious merino cashmere yarn. Joy knit this for me, because, she said, she thought I needed a hug. So she sent me one. This is one of my favourite shawls to wear – not only because it is beautiful and cosy, but because every time I wear it, I remember the hug Joy sent me. The time she took to make me the shawl. It reminds me that there is always light, joy and love in the world, even when it seems dark. Thank you Joy!

Cornish Delights

We’ve arrived safely in Cornwall and settled into the hotel.  We met up with Ali, Tricia & Isabelle at the airport, and boarded the wee propeller plane together.  The coast here is really beautiful, and the bar has huge picture windows so we can enjoy the view, without venturing outside as it is quite chilly!  Even so, there are still hard core surfers tackling the waves.

Hard core!

Your eyes don’t deceive you – there are 4 surfers in that photo taken this morning at 830 am. It’s 3 degrees out. More surfers joined them shortly after the photo was taken. That is seriously impressive.

Michelle of Three Bags Full sent us two project bags which are going to be given away as prizes during the retreat – thank you Michelle!

Cookie with Three Bags Full project bag

Anne with Three Bags Full project bag

Today everyone has been busy knitting lace socks with Anne and learning about traveling stitches with Cookie.  Am loving the happy faces, and the intense focus that you get with a room full of knitters, intent on learning new skills.  Awesome!

Anne's Marie Antoinette Class

Knitdra asked about the angle of the turn on regular wraps and Japanese wraps.  The best way to answer your question is to show you a picture.  I’ve made a little graphical representation of the short rows.

In the graph below, the regular wrap technique is on the left, the Japanese technique with the slipped stitches on the right.  The dots are knit stitches, the purls are squiggly dashes, the Vs are slipped stitches, and the funny flourish is the wrap.  In both methods, the angle is the same – however, with Japanese wraps, because of the slipped stitch, the angle has a smoother transition when working the wraps. I’m not sure there is much discernible difference but I will do some short row comparisons and report back.

Short rows: Japanese Wraps

Picked up Cookie and Anne from the airport yesterday morning – lucky that they arrived when they did as the next flights out of NYC were canceled due to bad weather.  Deuce immediately decided he was in love with Cookie and snuggled up to her for a snooze.  Hopefully heading to Borough Market for a spot of lunch today.  Weather a bit crap, but according to BBC it’ll be sunny in Cornwall this weekend for the retreat. Yay!

Newly dyed Sokkusu-O yarn in Granooey

I got a box full of my Sokkusu-O yarn (*** happy dance ***) and dyed some up.  In green of course. I really love green.  And I started knitting with it – and am in love. I know I’m fickle when it comes to yarn… something pretty and new is always likely to turn my head… but I think I found my yarnie soulmate.  This is truly awesome stuff.  A proper fingering weight (16wpi), 3 ply tightly twisted yarn.  But not so tightly twisted that it loses its ‘ooomph’.  It’s still super bouncy and sproingy and squishy!  When I get back from Cornwall I’ll dye more up. I think some more contests are in order!

Back to my Short Row Study.

Method #3: Japanese Wraps

In Japanese short rows the work is done mostly on the return rows – that is when setting up the short rows all you do is turn. You knit to the turning point, then turn the work. On my sample, I knit to the turning point, turned the work, slipped the first stitch and purled to the end. Next knit row I knit to one stitch before the gap, and turned again. The finicky bit is picking up the wraps to work them. Well, the most finicky bit. To help with this, you can use safety pins to aid in picking up these wraps. I’ll explain.  In the photo below I’ve knit to my turning point (this is where the gap will be).

Knit and turn

Turn the work. On the purl side, slip the first stitch.  That’s the stitch in the photo below with the working yarn coming out of it.

Slip first stitch on purl side

Here’s a Blue Peter moment – I threaded some safety pins to the yarn beforehand. Moving the first safety pin across to the base of the slipped stitch this sets me up to create my first Japanese wrap.

Adding the safety pin

Purl as normal, keeping the safety pin put. See the pin below? It catches the bar between the fist slipped stitch and its neighbour.  One Japanese wrap created.

First safety pin

If you are doing a number of wraps, the back of your work would look something like this. Remember – I’m only doing wraps on one side of the work. Both sides would double the number of safety pins.

Four Japanese wraps with safety pins

When you are ready to work those wraps, knit to the first gap.   The first safety pin should be two rows down, between the first two st columns on the right needle (closest to the tip).

Getting reading to pick up Japanese wrap

Now you’ll see why the safety pin comes in handy. Grab the first safety pin and place the loop created onto the left needle.  That’s the Japanese wrap, one one side of the gap, and the next stitch on the other. Work those two together (k2tog) and it closes the gap.  Repeat until all the Japanese wraps have been picked up and worked. Without those ickle safety pins, those bars would be a pain in the bum to find.

Picking up the first wrap

Worked Japanese wraps

Back of worked Japanese wraps

For thicker gauge yarns I think this would be a little easier to work without the safety pins, as it would be easier to see and pick up the wrap.  But for thinner yarns like sock or sport, it’s fiddly without the safety pins to help. But then the pins themselves are pretty fiddly too.  I’m not one to use stitch markers much – I don’t like having stuff hanging off my work.  It’s one of the reasons I don’t like using DPNs – too many things to keep track of.  So, not surprisingly, this is one of my least favourite methods.  But there you go – knowledge is power and it could be that you’ll love this method.  But those safety pins…..  argh.  Too much!

Next up… Double stitches

Short Rows: Yarn overs

Sokkusu-L yarn for Anne Hanson's sock class

Phew! I’m beat, but happy. Over the course of the last week I’ve been crazily dyeing yarns – and I”m finally almost done. Only another day’s dyeing to do and I can take a little break before starting up again. I had over 75 skeins of yarn to wind into little cakes but thank goodness alot of lovely angelic volunteers come to my rescue. KLC club yarns are also parcelled up and will be posted out on Thursday too. Woot!

Last post I discussed the plain wrap method for short rows. Today I’m going to look at yarn over short rows.

Method #2: Yarn overs

Instead of lassoing the turning stitch, the yarn over method creates an extra stitch that closes the gap formed by short row turns.  So instead of doing a wrap and turn, simply turn the work.  To create the yarn over, bring the yarn from front (where it would be ready for purling) to the back between the needles, and bring it over (see, yarn over! there is method to the madness)  the needle to purl the next stitch. You’ve then created a yarn over which sits at the outside of your row, paired with a regular stitch.

In the photo below, reading the knitting from the right to the left on the left needle, the first stitch is the regular stitch, the stitch to the left of it is the yarn over.  There are 4 yarn over pairs – can you see them all? The regular stitch comes out of a v shaped stitch below it – the yarn over doesn’t.  There are also noticeable gaps between each yarn over pair.

Yarn over wraps

To create a yarn over at the start of a knit row, bring the yarn from the back (where it would be ready for knitting) to the front, and then over the needle to the back to knit the first stitch. Now you’ve got a yarn over stitch sitting at the outside (right side when looking at it from the right side of your work) of your knit row. You’ll see from the photo I’ve only done the yarn overs at one side, created when working the purl rows only.

To work them, on the knit side of the fabric, you would knit to the first regular stitch of the first yarn over pair. Knit that regular stitch and then work the yarn over together with the next regular stitch by knitting the two together.

Remember the gaps I mentioned above?  The yarn over is on one side of the gap, and the regular stitch on the other (see photo below, where I’ve already knit the regular stitch of the first yarn over pair).  Working them together closes that gap.

Working a yarn over short row

This is a nice easy method but alas, it also has a finicky side to it.  On a purl side, you would need to purl the first regular stitch, then do some knitting acrobatics to make this side mirror the k2tog on the knit side – an SSP. That is,  slip the yarn over knitwise and the next regular stitch knitwise, then purl both of them together through the back loop. Since all my yarn overs on the sample are worked on the knit side, I’ve managed to sneakily avoid doing SSPs.

Worked yarn over short rows

Back of worked yarn over short rows

Not a bad method – and in a pinch for regular stockinette fabric I’d opt for this over the wraps as there isn’t all that lifting and stretching.

Next up… Japanese Short Rows (or how to make yourself crazy with safety pins)

Short Rows: Plain Wraps

Today being Sunday it is time for Lucky Sunday chewin’ the cud (or ruminations for the fancy). I am feeling very lucky that audio books were created.  I love to read, but with knitting and dyeing the work is hands on – if I were a human/insect hybrid I’d have more than enough hands, and eyes to knit, dye, read and write at the same time.  Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for others) I am not a human size insect in the manner of Kafka and so I have to settle on doing mostly one thing at a time. Except reading.  Yay for ipods and audible (offering half price membership at the moment)!  Just finished with Book II of The Millenium Trilogy – The Girl Who Played with Fire… starting Book III today.

Some answers to my post Why I Love Handknit Socks:

  • those are all my sock patterns (thank you for the compliments!) which will be available here in February  after I get back from Cornwall and upload the pdfs.
  • I’m glad to see that it’s not just me who loves handknit socks!
  • Thank you Carrie for pointing out that woolly socks can in fact keep your toes from falling off. I’d forgotten about frostbite and that wool keeps your toesies toastie.
  • Operation Replace All Handknits with Handmades (or O!RASH for short) is an excellent idea.  Check out the Ravelry group here.
  • And mom I promise I will finish your golf socks for when you come this summer. :)

If you’ve knit a sock, or a jumper, or a shawlette, then you’ve most likely come across short rows in afterthought/short row heels, short row toes, raising the back of a jumper’s neckline or creating curves for shawlettes. By using a series of increasingly shorter and then longer rows, these ‘short rows’ give a garment shape. I’ve come across four methods of avoiding holes from short rows. The most common are plain wraps and yarn overs. A little less common but no less effective are Japanese short row wraps and  ‘double stitches’ as described in The Sock Knitter’s Workshop by Ewa Jostes & Stephanie van der Linden.

Apart from the double stitch method, I’ve used the other three and to be honest, I’ve never been all that happy with the results. The methods are rather fiddly (especially the Japanese short rows), and often don’t give a smooth transition between the short rows and plain knitting.  I can see in the column of knit stitches where the short rows were as the stitches don’t look the same as their non-short row cousins.

I’ve spent some time in the last month experimenting with short row wraps, and have developed/unvented a new wrap I am quite fond of.  I’m calling it ‘shadow wraps’.  But before I show my shadow wraps to you, I thought it would be useful to do an overview of the other short row methods with a mini tutorial for each one. In all the samples the wraps are made only on the right side of stockinette fabric.

Method #1:  Plain Wraps

The plain wrap is a little loop around turning stitch and one of the most common.  The instructions are usually something like “knit to blah, w&t”, with w&t not being instructions to partake in some awesome cocktail but rather  shorthand for the instructions “wrap and turn”.

Very briefly, to work a plain wrap on the knit side of the work, knit to the stitch you wish to wrap.  Bring the yarn to the front, slip the next stitch purlwise, bring the yarn between the needles from the front to the back again. Slip the stitch back to the left needle (see photo below).  This the ‘wrap’ portion of w&t.  Then you turn the work – needless to say, the ‘turn’ portion of w&t.  This sets you up to work the purl side.

To work the wrap from the purl side, purl to the stitch you wish to wrap.  Bring the yarn to the back, slip the next stitch purlwise, bring the yarn between the needles from the back to the front again. Slip the stitch back to the left needle.  Turn.  This sets you up to work the knit side.


Plain wrap

Once all the stitches are wrapped, the wraps need to be worked to make them invisible.  From the knit side, the first thing to do is reorient the stitch by slipping the wrapped stitch knitwise, then slipping it purlwise back to the left needle. This sets up the stitch to be knit through the back loop without twisting it. We’ll get to this in a sec.

Pick up the wrap with the right needle.


Picking up plain wrap

Then lift the wrap and place it to the left of the stitch it wrapped (behind it) (see photo).  Knit the stitch and the wrap together through the back loop. To work the plain wrap from the purl side is a little simpler as there is no need to reorient the wrapped stitch. Lift the wrap with the right needle and place it to the left of the wrapped stitch (behind it again) and purl the stitch and the wrap together.


Placing plain wrap

Once all the wraps are worked, the knit side looks like this (I’ve knit a few rows after working the wraps).


Worked plain wraps


And the purl side looks like this:


Back of worked plain wraps

These are great at closing holes but are fiddly to work – reorienting the stitch is annoying, picking up the wraps and placing them correctly is fiddly (wait till we get to the safety pins and Japanese short rows!).  The back side is a little ugly and puffy too since the tension is hard to control when lifting the wraps- they end up rather loose compared to the stitch it wrapped and you can see this on the back of the fabric. Still, when working garter stitch short rows these are awesome as they blend in nicely with the fabric.

Next up… Yarnover wraps