Monday, March 26, 2012

Hats, Hats, Hats!

Summer hats have been my obsession for last couple of weeks. I just can't stop stumbling upon a pretty lace stitch I like in my "400 Knitting Stitches" reference book, and ideas for my own lacey patterns keep me from falling asleep in a timely manner. Because of this, I have continued putting off my husband's plea for a line of Lantern hats. (Any of you nerds out there know that means NINE hats. NINE. With crazy inlays!)

This is the first summer I hat I whipped up. Inspired by open work lace. Simple, classic, and a great touch to tank tops and flippy flops. 

I think this hat... well, it just might be my favorite. It has lots of slouch, lots of open work, and when I saw this yarn I was instantly head over heels for the color. The camera faded it out, some, but it's a real wild color of purple.

Now I'm currently working on another lace chart. Anyone who has ever designed their own panel of lace knows how frustrated I am right now, but I will prevail! I also have a lot of ideas in the works for a Skyrim hat; something very different than what you're expecting.

What is everyone else working on as of late? Summer always throws us knitters for a loop. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Knitting Backwards

Knitting backwards can be a very handy skill to have. Personally, I don't use it for long rows of purling, because it can be a tad fiddly, as my left hand is nearly useless when it comes to skilled movements. But if you're naturally blessed with ambidexterity, well, it will be a lot easier, also - teach me your ways, please?

Knitting backwards, which is more correctly, purling backwards is the most useful for short rows, like when you're working the heel of a sock, or working entrelac. It can make an annoying process of constantly turning your work around way less of a pain in the keester.

Also, it's really easy. There's really no fancy footwork involved, you just have to get used to using your left needle, which is really fiddly at first, since we're all taught that our left needle stays stationary, a proverbial parking lots for our stitches.

If you do love knitting backwards, feel free to use it all the time! I just find that when working long groups, I have some stitches tight, some very loose.

Okay, here we go.

As you can see, I've already been playing with knitting backwards on this piece in a bunch of random short rows.

1. Your left needle goes into the back leg of the stitch.
2. Wrap your yarn counterclockwise around the front of the needle, so you'll be pulling the yarn from behind and around the needle to the right. (it's my natural instinct to go clockwise, this will work, but you will have a stitch that is seated the wrong way on your needle.)
3. Pull it through, removing the original stitch from your right needle.

It's really that easy.

Now, let's just say you make a mistake, you wrap the yarn clockwise for awhile before catching yourself, silly you. That's okay!

If you wrapped the yarn incorrectly, you will have a stitch that looks like this:

As you can see, the stitch is seated on our needle the wrong way, the left leg being in front, rather than behind. This can be corrected very easily on the next knit row by knitting into the "back loop" of this stitch, rather than into the front.

And there we have it, knitting backwards. It's a simple, and useful technique to utilize.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Entrelac: Parts 2.5 - 5

In our last post we left off on entrelac with our base triangles, and our left side triangle, and two left slanting central diamonds. Now we're going to pick up and knit a right side triangle, and two right slanting diamonds.

By the way, if you've gotten to this point, I'm willing to bet you're really starting to 'get' entrelac. Congrats :)

Part 3: Right Side Triangle

We're now going to have to pick up stitches in the right edge of the last base triangle. As usual, 8 of them.

Now this one gets a little confusing, because we're not going to touch those stitches past the marker in this picture, the live stitches for our central diamond. We're going to be decreasing the stitches we just picked up down to 1. Here we go:

1. Knit 7, slip the last stitch purlwise. Turn.
2. Purl to the last two stitches, purl these 2 together. Turn.
3. Knit 6, slip the last stitch. Turn.
4. Purl to the last two stitches, purl them together. Turn.

Continue working this way, until you have one remaining stitch, ending on a purl 2 together. This remaining stitch will serve as the first 'picked up stitch' in our next part.

 Part 4: 3 (Left Slanting) Central Diamonds

As I said, the first stitch is the last remaining stitch from our left side triangle, this is for our first left slanting diamond only. The other two will be the regular 8.

1.Cut a nice little tail, and pick up your contrast color, and pick up 7 (2nd & 3rd diamond: 8) stitches in the edge.

2. Slip the last picked up stitch onto the left needle, and ssk (slip 1 knitwise, slip another one knitwise, and knit together.) This time we're using the ssk so that the green stitches lay over the blue, creating a clean edge for diamonds of the fabric.

3. Purl across, turn.
4. Slip 1, knit to the last stitch, ssk again. Turn.

Continue in this way until all the blue stitches are gone, and you will end, as usual, on the last ssk. From there you will be ready to repeat the above steps to pick up 8 more stitches, and complete two more left slanting diamonds, for 3 in total. Remember, in the next  two diamonds you will be picking up 8 complete stitches, not 7 as before.

And there you have it! To continue after this, you will mosey back on over to my last post, Part 2: The Left Triangle working through up until this point, until you're reached your desired length.

Part 5: The Bind Off

Now, for the sake of a nice even piece of entrelac you want to bind off when you have this:

As you can see, we have a left side triangle, 2 right slanting diamonds, and a right side triangle. Now you're ready to begin binding off. 

1.Just as before, the last stitch on the right side triangle will serve as the first picked up stitch. Pick up 7 stitches on the inside of the right side triangle. As above slip the last stitch of the picked up stitches on to your left hand needle, ssk. (Slip slip knit) 

2.Purl Across.
3. K2tog, knit to last stitch, ssk. 
4. Purl Across.
5. K2tog, knit to last stitch, ssk.

We're working to decrease one green stitch, and one blue stitch, in the same row, and just purling on the reverse. 

You will do this until you have two green stitches, and one blue stitch. From here you will slip the first stitch, ssk the last green and blue stitch together, and then pass your first slipped stitch over the stitch you just ssk'ed. 

So: Slip 1, ssk, psso (pass slipped stitch over)

You will have one stitch on your needle, this will be the first stitch of your picked up stitches. So you will again pick up 7 stitches, and follow the directions above two more times. Every time you will have one stitch left on the needle. On the last one, cut yarn and pull through. 

And, by dern, you did it! See, I told you, it isn't that hard. If you have any problems, any questions at all, please feel free to email me at:

Now, go brag about yourself to your friends and loved ones.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Entrelac: Parts 1 - 2.5

I've been on and off with my fascination with modular knitting in the last couple of years. I have months where it's all that sits upon my needles, and then months where I forget about it for the classics and lace work.

Now, I don't want to confuse anyone, entrelac and modular knitting are two separate entities. But if you're anything like me - starting with entrelac is the best way to introduce yourself to modular knitting. It gets you familiar with working entirely separate pieces of knitting, all on the same solid piece of growing work. In the beginning, it will make your brain hurt. It will make you want to rip all the stitches out, yell, and go crochet your heart out to spite the world of two needle crafts.

Have faith, oh grasshopper, it will come to you. And you know, anger will only lead to the darkside. That's bad ju-ju.So, I thought I would add a little tutorial of my own, to help those struggling with entrelac work through it. So, put 'yer thinkin' caps on! And grab two colors of yarn, and some size 8 needles.

Part 1: The Base Triangles

We have to start our entrelac with three base triangles. Well, three in this case, it ranges for every pattern. But three is the number I need for my pot holder pattern. This tutorial is not for in the round entrelac, just flat work. I will make a subsequent in the round post later. :)

Cast on 24 stitches, loosely. I used the long tail cast on, but nearly any 'stretchy' cast on will work just fine. I used a size US 8 needle. You will want to continue working a little more loosely than normal, it will help hide the picked up stitches.

Now, here comes the tricky part. But it's not really tricky.

1. Knit 1 stitch, turn. By turn I mean switch your right hand needle to your left hand, and likewise. So your work is literally turned around.
2. Purl the stitch you just knit.
3. Slip 1 stitch, and knit 1 stitch (adding a stitch), and turn.
4. Purl across.
5. Slip 1 stitch, knit to last stitch, and knit one more from the left hand needle, again adding a stitch.
6. Purl across.

Edit: I had some questions here as to why I knit the very first stitch the first time, rather than slipping it. I choose to knit that stitch to add more stability to the base of my piece. This prevents the top from being more firm than the bottom. I hope that makes sense. Questions are always welcome! :)

Continue to work in this fashion, adding one stitch to your needle with every knit row, until you reach your goal number, in this case that is 8 stitches, by adding one of the existing stitches each knit row. And turning after that addition to purl across. We're slipping the first stitch so we have a nice neat visual of where we will be picking stitches up later on. In the picture above, we have 4 stitches cast on, and you can see the growing base triangle forming from the turning.

Oh no! Did you lose count of how many stitches you've added? Well, it's okay. When you turn your work back around after the purl row, you will see a clear indication of where you left off by the gap. Shown here:

There's a pretty clear little "hole" you can see, so we have 6 stitches on, and two more to add.

When you reach your goal number of stitches, do not turn and purl across. You will stop right there, and begin the next triangle in the same way as the first. Working until you have 8 stitches of that set.
One triangle, done, again, no turning, you want the "right side" of your fabric facing you, working yarn behind. Now, go back to the start and make two more triangles, ignoring the finished ones.

We now have three finished triangles. I placed stitch markers so you can easily see the three separate triangles, you don't have to use them. Now I know these look pretty wonky, but it will all start making sense soon.

Now we're going to move to the next step - 'filling in' our empty spot, and placing the side triangles, to even it all out.

Part 2: The Left Side Triangle & 2 Central Diamonds

So we're looking at what we ended with in step 4 of part one, and it looks a little crazy. If you're using two colors, cut a three or so inch long tail, and pick up your second color.

1. Purl into the first stitch with new color, turn and knit front and back (kfb), adding a stitch in the new color.

2. Purl 1, purl 2 stitches (green and blue) together. Turn.

3. Knit front and back, slip 1 purlwise. Turn.
4. Purl to last 'new colored' stitch, and p2tog. Turn.
5. Knit to the last two stitches, kfb, slip 1 purlwise.

Essentially, we're slowly eating away those green stitches, by combining them with our new blue stitches. Keep moving along in this way until all of your green stitches are gone, knitting front and back on the second to last stitch on your knit row, and you have 8 blue stitches. Do not turn on the last p2tog, you want the 'wrong side' facing you for the next step.

You should end up with a little something like this:

The 'live' original green stitches are now the underside of the side triangle.

Part 2.5: 2 Central Diamonds

Now we're going to build two central diamonds. 

Above, you were slipping the last knit stitches purlwise, this leaves us with a nice edge to pick up our diamonds from. 

1. Pick up 8 stitches, purlwise, along the edge of the first triangle.

2. Grab the last picked up stitch, and place it on your left hand needle, from there purl this picked up stitch and first green stitch together.

A note on picking up: I feel terrible, because I feel I've caused some confusion. When you're picking up a stitch, if your right side of the work is facing you, you'd pick up just like if you were to knit across, yarn in the back. And if the wrong side is facing you, you'd pick up as if you were purling across, the yarn will be in the front. 

3. Turn and knit 7, slip 1 purlwise. Turn.
4. Purl across to the last blue stitch, and purl 2 stitches together.
5. Turn and knit 7, slip the last stitch purlwise.

Like usual, continue doing this all the way across, until you're all the way across your green stitches. (Or, whatever color you're using.) You'll have this:

After the last purl 2 together do not turn your work. Start at the beginning of part 2.5, picking up the edge stitches on the middle triangle, just as you did for the first. Working across in the same way.

Tune in tomorrow, for the rest of my entrelac tutorial.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sew It Goes

My father-in-law recently sent me a (very pricey) sewing machine he had purchased for my mother-in-law a few years ago, and it saw little to no use over that time period. It was the best mail surprise I think I've ever had, besides the cute 'care packages,' my husband and I sent each other while we were dating, and separated by thousands of miles.

I had offhand mentioned to him months ago that I really wanted a sewing machine, I always want to line my bags and other projects, but the time it takes to prepare the lining by hand is too cumbersome for me.

So, Monday afternoon came a knock at my door, and a very nice FedEx man had a large, heavy package for me. I was perplexed, as I was not expecting anything, and low and behold, it was the sewing machine. A Janome Memory Craft 4800.

That little beaut' right there is now my right hand girl. :P (Though I still don't have a name yet.) Having this at my fingertips has lead to a great branching out and attention to detail in my projects. I went on a bag lining spree, and just overall spent the last week just... playing with it.

And now I'm making my first all sew bag. A knitting tote. Finding some nice sale fabrics (thanks to Hubby) and bias tape made me think, "I'm always looking for a on-the-go project bag, and whenever I get them, they're not what I want. So I'll make my very own!"

Sorry for the quick cellphone picture, but once the bag is finally finished, I'll definitely reach for the camera. I spent about an hour on this tonight, and being someone with very minimal sewing machine experience (that being absolutely none) I'm pretty proud of this first real project.

Happy knitting/sewing/crafting!

- Ash


I finished it! I must say, for following no pattern, and being a first timer with a machine... I am purrrty proud.