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July 30, 2007

From Sally — Finishing Steeks

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Widdicombe Fair — surly @ 3:31 pm

My baby blanket, Widdicombe Fair, is finished. Baby X has not yet made his way into the world and so I can now tell my husband “I told you so.” (He was a bit nervous about my finishing this in time.) I have a few in-progress photos to show you before I get briefly into steek finishing. There is no video, alas, because my videographer was on her way to Colorado before I got to that point. (More on that later.)

Here is the blanket as I finished the last row before binding off. I’m including this just to show how it makes a nice little corner even on the needles.

Instead of a regular bind off, I did a two-stitch I-cord bind off. It gives a little more firmness to the edge and makes a nice miniature welt that matches the garter stitch in my opinion. While working on it, I had a bit of help from my assistant. If you look carefully, you can see his favorite toy — a chewed up rattan coaster — tucked up into the knitting in the upper left-hand corner.

Here is a close up of the border with the I-cord bind off.

I know you all want to see how I finished the steek, which is kind of embarrassing actually. I’m not the expert finisher that my sister is. Moreover, I had a lot of trouble taking photographs of what I was doing with one hand while still trying to do something with the other. So please take a moment to lower your expectations and then we may proceed.

First of all, steeks are wonderful things. They do add a tiny bit of bulk or thickness; that’s usually not a problem but just something to keep in mind. I think the yarn from Virtual Yarns is a bit heavier than other fair isle weight yarns, and so there is a bit more thickness to my blanket steeks than there are with some of the fair isle garments I’ve knitted. I try to keep that in mind when I figure out what I’m going to do with the finished product.

There are a lot of different ways to finish steeks. Truth be told, if they are not going to show you probably don’t have to finish them at all. (This only applies, of course, to items knitted out of Shetland wool which sticks to itself.) For example, I never bothered to finish off the armhole steeks to a child’s sweater I knitted at least ten years ago. My son wore it and then my niece. The steeks are still fine. They haven’t unraveled. Nothing was done to these steeks — no hand or machine knitting of any kind.

The traditional way I learned to finish steeks is the cross-stitch method. After you cut the steek, you trim it down to two stitches or so and then trap the raw steek edges with Xs of yarn. I did that when I first started out with fair isle. Here is what it looks like. *Covers eyes in embarrassment.*

Maybe it’s just my crappy technique, but I’ve never thought this method looks all that great. Its advantage is that it is really simple and requires absolutely no machine sewing.

I’ve now switched to doing a crocheted edge along the steek because it makes it flatter (thus reducing that little bit of bulk) and I think it looks more finished.

I know of two ways to do a crocheted edge to finish a steek. One way is to crochet on either side of the center stitch of the steek before you cut it. To be able to do that, the center of the steek has to be stable enough to “hold” the crocheting and therefore it’s recommended that you spit splice your color changes instead of just adding in new yarn. (I think you could do a variation on this in which you do the crocheting close to the edge stitch on each side and then cut but I’ve been afraid to try it.) To me, doing all that spit splicing at the center of your steek sort of ruins the benefit of the steek. As a result, I’ve never tried this method. I suppose it would always work at the armhole steeks of a cardigan because you don’t use those steeks to change color. It would also work if you were only using two colors. (Examples: Jade Starmore’s Persian Tiles or the Kauni Cardigan.) If you are interested in a better explanation of this method, it’s described in great details with lots of photographs on Eunny Jang’s blog here.

The method I use requires a sewing machine. You don’t need to machine stitch the steek to keep it from unraveling — the reason you do it is to stabilize the edge so that you can crochet along it. Here is where the bad photographs start. I don’t do anything to the cut edges of the steek until I have finished the border. As that child’s cardigan demonstrates, those steek stitches are perfectly happy to just sit there. Once the border is finished, I sew a line of stitches between the edge stitch and the cut edge. I use the edge stitch, which has folded in nicely, as a guide for stitching. I try to stitch through the middle of the third stitch from the edge stitch. You could do it closer to the edge, especially if you are a better seamstress than I am. You want to make sure you don’t sew through anything but the steek. Susan could probably give some great tips here; I just muddle through.

Once I stitched the steek, I trimmed it close to the stitch line.

Then I began to crochet along the edge, inserting the crochet hook into the middle of the second stitch from the edge stitch. (That is, I did that except in those places where my sewing line wasn’t as straight as I would have liked.)

A close up of the crocheted edge:

Close up of the crocheted edge of one my sweaters:

For a blanket, it would probably also look nice to knit a facing to cover the steek (although you would have more bulk) or cover the steek with a matching gros grain ribbon. I didn’t do that because I’m lazy. Here is the baby blanket blocking.

For those persistent few still reading, here it is off the blocking wires:

Sadly, my little assistant who so loved this blanket, is gone. He and my daughter left yesterday for Colorado. I cried like a baby when they left.

She’s happy; that’s what counts. (She may not be as happy when she sees I posted her picture.)

July 28, 2007

From Susan — Kissin’ Kaunis

Filed under: Susan's Kauni Cardigan — lv2knit @ 7:51 pm

As luck would have it, Kim’s Kauni invited my Kauni to koffee.  Kim and I had to drive them so we had coffee, too.  I took a picture of the Kissin’ Kaunis side by side (mine is on the left, Kim’s on the right):

KauniKouzins003.jpg picture by lv2knit

You might be saying to yourself, “Hmmmmm.  What is all the hoo ha about?”  I’m not sure.  They look different.  They certainly look different in real life.  But row for row they aren’t crazy different.

Feel free not to vote for your favorite (our Kaunis are very sensitive), but I thought I would share their klose encounter of the Kauni kind.

From Susan — Not Kryin’ over my Kauni

Filed under: Susan's Kauni Cardigan — lv2knit @ 2:23 pm

I hate to leave the wrong impression.  While I looked at Kim’s Kauni with startled envy, it was more along the lines of “Gee, maybe I should have ordered the pasta instead of the steak,” and then proceeded to enjoy my steak.  It was not, “OMG, what have I done?  I married the wrong man and my life is ruined!!!”

It kind of reflects my whole approach to life.  My husband and I have totally different outlooks: he is an optimistic pessimist and I am a pessimistic optimist.  To outsiders my DH appears to be upbeat, easy going, and fun loving.  I appear to be the prickly naysayer.  BUT, I always believe that everything will work out in the end.  My hubby, the “don’t worry, be happy” guy, can imagine anything becoming a firey inferno of death.  We call him Debbie Downer because of his skill at seeing the dark lining in every silver cloud. 

Example: I was showing hubby a picture in Better Homes and Gardens that showed a hanging flower basket from summer that they had converted into a beautiful Christmas decoration by simply weaving small, white holiday lights through the grapevining.  He immediately started in on how this was a fire hazard, the whole house could go up in flames, and in unison my daughters and I scream, “And then we’re all going to die!”  That’s how all of his “stories” end — in a horrible death for all.  He has the creative mind of a paranoid lunatic!  I worry constantly, but always figure it will be okay in the end.

And that is how I am approaching my Kauni project.  It is A sweater, not THE sweater.  I know it will be fun to wear no matter how it turns out.  I am enjoying the process and don’t really give a flying fig about each color combination because I like the the overall look.  So, don’t picture me krying in my koffee over Kauni.  I’m doing fine!  :)

Sleeve Number 1 is started, and I will post a picture after there is more to it.

July 27, 2007

From Susan — Kwik Kauni Update

Filed under: Susan's Kauni Cardigan — lv2knit @ 10:00 am

I went to Pat’s last evening for knit night and had a great time: we shopped, we ate, we laughed — but not much knitting.  Oh well!

My good friend Kim (the friend who gave me “Lettie,” my alter ego) brought her Kauni Cardigan in progress.  She pulled it out of the bag and everyone gasped and started to say, “It’s so much prettier than Susan’s!!” but stopped short and said, “It’s so ::mumble::mumble:: nice -er- different than -er- Susan’s.”  But, I was thinking the SAME THING — it IS much prettier than mine!!

Kim’s is much richer, earthier and darker looking.  It looks like completely different yarn.  I was shocked.  We compared our balls of yarn AND THE COLORS ARE IDENTICAL!!  What gives?  She has her colors paired up differently and it makes the colors look completely different.  I am stunned, shocked, etc.  She has only knitted about 6-8” so she has not cycled through the entire color wheel yet, but I am a little bit bummed about this turn of events. 

BUT, it’s too late for moi.  I’m not changing a thing (can’t) and I will just have to like my lil Kauni, “just the way you are” (a shout out to Mark Darcy — I love you as much as the original Mr. Darcy ;)).

I will start the sleeves this weekend and also try to work on the neckline. 

 PS — I’ll try to get a picture of Kim’s Kauni at some point for comparison’s sake.

July 26, 2007

From Susan — Kauni Kontinues

Filed under: Susan's Kauni Cardigan — lv2knit @ 1:01 am

I feel like I have not posted in ages!  That’s what I like about sharing this blog — one of the Raineys usually has something to say!

I have been knitting a bit on my Kauni Cardigan, but not too much.  I have not had a lot of knitting time lately.  Life gets in the way now and then. ;) 

I am done knitting up to the shoulders.  To recap, I decided to not do any neck shaping — it will all be done after the fact.  I am thinking “square” — I know: carrying the square motif throughout is not terribly imaginative, but…

KauniShoulder005.jpg

I am going to have a single line of squares at the shoulder rather than completing a full pattern repeat and having two of the same square patterns line up.  I will show this after I graft it together.  It will make more sense when I can include a picture (unfortunately, not a moving picture a la Surly!). 

The next step is to start one of the sleeves.  I will need to figure out where to start my colorway — I am starting at the cuffs so I can be sure of the color.  I do not want the cuffs to end up with real pale colors, so I’ll control for that by starting at the cuff in the colors I want.

Tomorrow is Knit Night — we are meeting at the home of one of the peeps so it should be really fun!

July 24, 2007

From Sally — Cutting a Steek: the Sequel

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Widdicombe Fair — surly @ 9:41 am

Thanks for all of the comments on my amateur film. I wasn’t sure whether I should leave it on the cutting room floor (I know. Bad pun.) Several of you asked how I pick up the stitches and finish off the steek. Fortunately, I only need to pick up stitches along each of the blanket sides (where the edge stitches for the steek are) because I have live stitches on the bottom (where the provisional cast on was) and the top (where the stitches were left live). Because row and stitch gauge are different, you can’t pick up as many stitches along the edge as you have rows. This is a Jade Starmore pattern and she tells you how many stitches you need to pick up and when you should “skip” a row as you do. If you are working a pattern that isn’t as explicit, you need to work out the ratio for yourself.

Here is another amateur video showing how I pick up the stitches.

Ooh. That was painful. I hate hearing my own voice. Anyway, you might have noticed I was slipping my needle under both “legs” of the edge stitches as I picked up the new stitch. As a reminder, I was doing this:

That’s my personal preference. You don’t have to slip it under both legs. It’s actually a bit faster to slip it under just the first leg (like this):

The reason I do it under both legs is that I think the new stitches lay closer and more tightly against the fabric. I prefer how it looks when all is said and done. It’s just a matter of personal preference.

PainterWoman asked why I knit this in the round. This kind of color knitting — fair isle — is done in the round because it is faster. You never have to twist the yarns to prevent a hole (as you would with intarsia). You always have the right side facing so that you can see the pattern as you work, which makes it much easier to spot a mistake (and therefore prevent it).

July 22, 2007

From Sally — Cutting a Steek

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Widdicombe Fair — surly @ 12:45 pm

My eyes are still glazed over from reading the 700+ pages of the last Harry Potter book. Even so, I’m going to attempt to return to the real world and to my knitting.

I finished knitting the body of my carousel baby blanket, aka Widdicombe Fair. I may finish the entire thing before the baby is born, which would be nice. Here is a photograph of it mere moments after it was finished.

Here is a bit of a close up of the top. It is still “on the needles.” As is typical with fair isle knitting, you bind off the steek stitches as you knit the last row. Although the steek stitches have been bound off, I have live stitches at the top and I will have live stitches at the bottom when I undo the provisional cast on.

The fun part, though, which I always look forward to, is cutting the steek. The first time you try it, you might want to make sure you’re relaxed — or at least make sure you won’t care if you make some horrible, irrevocable mistake.

Alrighty then. There’s really nothing to it so I decided to enlist my personal videographer and let you see the cutting of the steek. Please don’t laugh. I know I have a weird farmer’s tan (it’s because I bicycle a lot and I wear bicycling gloves; I just hadn’t realized how white my hands look in comparison with my arms until I watched this in horror). The cutting also seems to go on forever because this is such a long steek — the blanket is almost three feet long. Finally, the video is a little blurry because I had to compress it in order to upload it.

Now I’m off to undo the provisional cast on and pick up all the stitches for the border: 900 and then some.

July 20, 2007

From Susan — When Sweaters Go Wild

Filed under: Wild Apples Bohus — lv2knit @ 10:27 pm

There is the hint of feverish anticipation in the air these days — can you feel it?  No, I’m not talking about the arrival of the new Harry Potter book (which I am excited about, too).  I’m talking about Bohus Fever!!

Knitters have been waiting impatiently for the unveiling of the Wild Apples Bohus Kit from Solveig Gustafsson.  Solveig is associated with the Bohuslan Museum and therefore has unique access to the original Bohus designs, original knitted garments, etc.  She has refashioned the classic knits into kits available to us all. The kits are hand dyed to match the original colors (or so I have heard) and translated into English by the lovely and talented Susanna Hansson.  I have a kit for the Large Lace Collar waiting for the proper moment of lift off.

Many knitters have long admired the unbridled riot of color that defines Wild Apples.  Whatever possessed Kerstin Olsson to create such a crazy visual ride (it was the 70’s!)?  It is very different from most of the other, very muted, designs.  When you pull the yarn out of the box, you really aren’t quite sure what you are getting into!  Electric green?  Day-glo orange?  Hmmmmmmm.

Here is my Wild Apples Bohus:

WildApples1.jpg

I made my Wild Apples two summers ago.  Once you get through the yoke section and past the split of the sleeves, it is the perfect mindless knitting project.  Endless stockinette in the round.  It was my soccer knitting that year. Solveig’s instructions call for side seams and back and forth knitting — I will be knitting my Large Collar in the round as I did the Wild Apples. Seams are not needed for structure as the weight of the garment is at the yoke, and all of that weight is carried by the shoulders.  I have worn my Bohus often and never had a problem with stretching of any kind.  The Solveig kits are made with much lighter weight yarn, but the same principle applies.

As you can see, I did not do the standard 1×1 ribbing that is called for in the pattern.  I don’t find it attractive and it certainly is not flattering on me.  Instead I opted for a straight silhouette.  It took much trial and error to come up with the final hem treatment. I incorporated a small bit of detail from the yoke:

WildApples001.jpg

See the little fleur de lis designs along the bottom?I added them to the hems:

WildApples.jpg

I had very little of this color left by the end, so instead of stranding the designs, I cut the yarn into many short pieces and knit them in that way.  It saved yarn and also did not affect the gauge.  I can’t remember how well I wove in the ends — they are covered by the hem anyway. I ‘sewed’ the live hem sts to the underside of the garment, covering the wrong side of my little designs.  I separated the designs on the body of the hem with 6 sts, but only used 5 sts on the sleeves for better proportion.  The picot hem is created by “k2tog, YO” all the way around.  The sawtooth edge happens like magic when the hem is folded.

And lest you think I am lying about wearing my Wild Apples (and too shy to be seen in real life!! ;)), here is a picture of me with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee:

yarnharlot013.jpg

And with Yarn Harlot’s Bohus:

BohusSquared.jpg

If Wild Apples is not your thing, check out Sally’s Blue Shimmer. Sally knitted a true masterpiece and did some very creative enhancements.

If you have ever been interested in knitting as tradition and art, consider knitting a Bohus.  When you create a Bohus, you are linked to the past with an unbroken thread.

PS From Susan to Michelle: I’m sure I made the largest size 😉 (I’m the “Big One” of The Rainey Sisters!).  The kit I used for my Wild Apples was from Kimmet Croft as was Sally’s for her Blue Shimmer (Sally substituted cream for the light blue body). I had heard a rumor that she was no longer making up the yarn and kits (though her website is still there).  Yarn Harlot’s Bohus is made from one of the Swedish kits is absolutely light as air — weightless and very thin.  It is gorgeous.  I love the heavier weight of my Bohus, though the dye job and yarn quality of the Swedish kits is superior.  The Large Lace Collar from Kimmet had a lot of color variation, so in that regard I prefer the Swedish kits. 

From Susan — Kauni Kontinues

Filed under: Susan's Kauni Cardigan — lv2knit @ 7:46 am

Happy Friday, Everyone!  My knitting is limping along.  I am loving my Kauni knitting: very soothing because it is mindless (and yes, I AM paying attention at the transitions points ;)). 

I am two squares past the armhole steek:

Kauni7-20-07001.jpg

I did pull the trigger on a decision about length.  I placed 8 sts on a holder (yarn) and then decreased 2 sts on each side over the next few rounds to taper the opening slightly.  Twelve sts total are gone on each armhole.  This means the armhole depth can be slightly shorter because you gain ~2 inches across the bottom of the sleeve opening — this will add ~2 inches to the sleeve width as well. I also planned it so the shoulders will fall in the center of a square so double squares do not line up along the shoulder line.  That will make sense when I get there. 

Re: the neckline — I have not decided on a neck, but am leaning toward a square neckline.  I will knit to the shoulders and cut out the “offending section” afterward.  That way no pre-planning is involved and the colors will end where I want them to.  If I steeked the neck opening, the color transitions would get longer from that point to the shoulders.  Many Norwegian patterns are knit this way: they often just knit to the shoulders and cut away the neckline.  I will use the garter check around the neckline.

I am hoping to get something done with this over the weekend.  I have 2-3 projects singing their siren song and am anxious to move along to the next ;).  Unfortunately, two of those projects could be classified as summer knitting — my timing is WAY off!!

 

July 18, 2007

From Susan — Art on a Stick

Filed under: Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 7:12 am

Romishawlsticks.jpg

Wow — these shawl stick pins are fantastic!  Another stunner by Romi of Designs by Romi.  I::LOVE::THESE!! 

See yesterday’s post if you are trying to find the pattern for the sweater I pictured yesterday…

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