Saturday, April 12, 2014

knitting cheat: ktbl knitted co

Many knitters -- whether they learn from someone else or start on their own from a video or book -- begin their knitting careers with one of the simplest and easiest cast ons -- the Knitted Cast On (click here for a video.) This cast on is great to learn on because it teaches you the steps for the knit stitch from the very beginning. I learned with this cast on, and a little rhyme taught me how to memorize the steps: under the fence, around the sheep, bring him through, and off he leaps! 

As I got more advanced in my skills, I found that the Knitted CO just didn't work for a lot of things I was making. It's not very stretchy, so it wasn't picked for mittens, hats, or necklines on sweaters. And it didn't lay as nicely or evenly as a Long-Tail -- you couldn't cast it on mid-row like a Backwards Loop. And when I used it for swatches or scarves or flat knitting, I found the little loops that the edge sometimes makes frustrating. I wanted clean edges.

Last year, I decided to pick it back up and see if I could get a clean edge from it -- and I could, with a little trick, which I'm now going to share with you. You use the cast on the exact same way, but when you work back for you first row, you're going to knit through the back loop on every stitch. It doesn't make it any less (or any more) flexible, but it sure does make it prettier!

Here's the difference, so you can see. The first 10 stitches from the right are done the traditional way, where you knit into the stitches normally in the first row -- you can see the little loopies along the edge. The next 10 stitches are done with a ktbl for every stitch. It makes for a pretty braided finish.

I will definitely be picking the Knitted CO up more! In fact, I've been using it on my swatches quite a bit.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Did you know that I do a little freelance social media for Zen Yarn Garden? This luxury yarn line has a bunch of beautiful colors, and I talked Roxanne into letting me knit some swatches of this year's newest ones -- a bevy of blues that will be available at TNNA in May.

Of course, I couldn't resist getting started -- swatches are the perfect thing to work on while you're waiting on a meeting to start or uploading photos into Photoshop for editing. 

First up, Blue Jeans. This color is more of a purple than a denim blue, in my opinion, but it kind of reminds me of really faded jeans. I love all of the tonalities in this color -- it's a semi solid that feels fairly solid. I love how it worked up in simple stockinette. Purple isn't really my color, but this is the perfect shade of purple-blue-grey for me to want to make something out of it. 

Then the light blue, called Tranquility. This is certainly a tranquil blue -- it reminds me of the most perfect blue sky, completely cloudless. Simple seed stitch for this swatch.

Next up, Baltic Sea. I did this swatch in Hurdle Stitch.

Hurdle Stitch 
To do this stitch, just cast on a multiple of 2. 
Row 1:  *k1, p1* 
Row 2: *k1, p1*
Row 3: knit
Row 4: knit

Yes, it really is that easy. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I've been continuing the series of Stitch Lab posts over on the Knit Purl blog. If you've ever wondered about some ways to create intentional holes in your knitting (buttonholes, dropped stitches and yarn overs), be sure to check them out!

Holes Part 1
Holes Part 2

Monday, April 7, 2014

gray mail day

Today was a really gray day here in Iowa. The sky just never stopped being cloudy, for even a moment. At least the birds are back -- we've seen red-breasted finches, robins, wrens, and even a pair of young cardinals at our feeder. It's nice to have some sign of spring, or at least the sounds of birds again, even if it still looks gloomy outside.

The mailman came this afternoon bearing goodies -- yarn and fiber club! Today's haul included a hank of Madelinetosh Prairie, in Calligraphy, which is the most lovely mix of rose, taupe, and ivory.

Three hanks of Zen Yarn Garden's Serenity Worsted, sent by Roxanne so I can do some swatching for the TNNA booth before the beginning of May. I don't know if these are new colors, but, if they are, wow!

And of course, Hello Yarn Fiber Club! This month the colorway is called Tideline, and is on Romney fiber. I love spinning Romney into singles, so that's likely where this will go -- skinny lightweight singles for knitting something airy and wispy. I love the name and the colors.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

vogue revival

Somebody brought in a huge stack of Vogue Knitting issues from the mid to late 1980s, and I've been going through them to see if there's anything I'd like to knit. Of course, there are a few things that are pretty awesome -- like this cover up for the beach:

I could see myself wearing this seashell sweater -- I love motifs and this one is very pretty and neutral. Maybe I would remove a few of the seashells, just because... 

It's not only a recent obsession to 'put a bird on it' -- this bird patterned sweater was another intarsia motif. I have seen a lot of these dolman sweaters coming back though. I can't say that I mind! 

I even like the look of this sleek, spring shell. It was a Singer pattern tucked into one of the issues -- it might inspire me to design something different in a similar shape: 

Of course, for every one wearable, beachy item I have been collecting mentally, I found a few real 80's gems. How about a matching outfits for you and your Cabbage Patch dolls? 

And I know that all of you Muppets fans out there are going to want some of these Kermit Club sweaters, right? 

One of the things that really struck me about these older Vogue issues is how beginner-oriented they were. So many of the articles are on things that most knitting magazines these days don't cover -- how to change colors, how to fix basic mistakes (like a dropped stitch), even how to knit on a circular needle! In one of the issues, there was an opinion piece from a Vogue writer chatting about how she couldn't imagine switching away from her straight needles. 

They did book reviews on Elizabeth Zimmermann books and interviewed 'up and coming' talent like Kaffe Fassett -- look how young he looks in this photo! Dashing!

These have been a lot of fun to go through! I hope to knit a few of the patterns and make notes on how patterns have changed over time, as well. I'm sure some of you probably have a few older magazines or knitting patterns laying around - let me know if you post about them on your blogs!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I've been a but busy with work for the past few days (after I finally got over my cold), but today I posted this tutorial on simple Brioche Rib stitch on the Knit-Purl blog. Be sure to stop over and check it out!

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I have a cold today, or rather, this week. At first I thought maybe I just had seasonal allergies, but I really need to stop believing that I would suddenly develop seasonal allergies, especially since I have never had them before in my life. But no, it's definitely a cold -- congestion and sinus headaches and difficulty sleeping are all hallmarks of this stunning specimen.

Luckily, working from home means that I won't lose any hours (even if I decide to work from bed.) And there's always plenty of knitting to do. I added the second color to my Malabrigo wrap. This thing is going to be so snuggly and wonderful to wear when it's finished, but for now I'm enjoying the simplicity of seed stitch.