Jul 232014
 

Shadow Dial | The Knitting Vortex

Light as a whisper and soft as a shadow, this simple tank top is knit in stockinette stitch with flutter cap sleeves. Laceweight yarn on larger needles creates a fabric with beautiful drape, while gentle waist shaping and simple details keep the look uncomplicated. The body is worked seamlessly from the bottom up with a scooped neckline and narrow purl edgings; stitches are picked up around the armholes then rapidly increased and worked in short rows to create the focal flutter sleeves. Shadow Dial is pretty and light, and just right for summer.

Shadow Dial is a new version of the Sundial Tee, which was published in Knitscene Summer 2013. It has more drape and an improved fit at a slightly more relaxed gauge of 24 st and 34 rows/4”, with an expanded range of ten sizes, which all include added length and a reshaped upper body with better strap coverage and a more deeply scooped front neckline. Additional detailed instructions for the upper body and flutter sleeve shaping have also been included, with a link to my new short row photo tutorial.

Techniques & Skills Used: knit/purl, increasing/decreasing, short rows, picking up stitches, 3-needle bind off.
Size: 30 (32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 48, 52)” bust; this top may be worn with negative ease for a fitted look, or a bit of positive ease for a more casual effect; sample shown in fourth size with 1” positive ease.
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Lace (100% baby merino wool; 470 yards/50g); 2 (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4) skeins, shown in Violetas, or approximately 800 (850, 900, 950, 1050, 1100, 1150, 1200, 1350, 1450) yards of laceweight yarn.
Other Materials: US 6 (4mm) 24” circular needle or size to match gauge; Extra US 6 needle or dpn for 3-needle BO; Stitch markers (1 each colors A & B, 2 color C); Stitch holders (3); Yarn needle.
Gauge: 24 st and 34 rows/4” in stockinette stitch, after blocking.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Shadow Dial side view | The Knitting Vortex  Shadow Dial | Last Look The Knitting Vortex  Shadow Dial flutter closeup | The Knitting Vortex

Jul 232014
 

Sundial Tee | The Knitting Vortex

Originally published in Knitscene Summer 2013, my Sundial Tee pattern is now available as an individual download from The Knitting Vortex. I’ve added just a bit of length, but other than that the pattern remains a close-fitting tank as it first appeared in the magazine. I’ve also included expanded shaping instructions for the neckline and the short row flutter sleeves, as well as my short row tutorial. For a slightly more relaxed fit knit at a larger gauge, I’ve also reworked the design and expanded the size range to ten sizes as Shadow Dial, also newly released. Whichever you choose, the soft and luscious laceweight yarn makes a pretty, romantic tee for the summer.

A splash of color flutters in the breeze, drawing the eye . . . like a poppy in the field. This simple tank top is knit in stockinette stitch with short row flutter sleeves. Laceweight yarn worked at a small gauge creates a wearable and figure-conscious fabric, which hugs the body in this fitted top. Gentle waist shaping, a scooped neck and narrow shoulders further define the shape, while the cap sleeves add softness and romance. The body is worked seamlessly from the bottom up with narrow purl edgings; stitches are picked up then rapidly increased and worked in short rows creating the fluttery sleeves. Sundial is a summer tank that is simple but special.

Techniques & Skills Used: knit/purl, increasing/decreasing, short rows (with link to tutorial), picking up stitches, 3-needle bind off.
Size: 28.5 (32, 35.5, 39, 42.75)” bust; this slim tank is designed to be worn with some negative ease for a fitted look. Sample shown in smallest size with 4” negative ease.
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Lace (100% baby merino wool; 470 yards/50g); 2 (2, 2, 3, 3) skeins, shown in Bergamota, or approximately 725 (825, 925, 1050, 1200) yards of laceweight yarn.
Other Materials: US 5 (3.75mm) 24” circular needle or size to match gauge; Extra US 5 needle or dpn for 3-needle BO; Stitch markers (1 each colors A & B, 2 color C); Stitch holders (3); Yarn needle.
Gauge: 27 st and 34 rows/4” in stockinette stitch, after blocking.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Sundial back view | The Knitting Vortex  Sundial Tee | The Knitting VortexJPG  Sundial side | The Knitting Vortex

Jul 162014
 

Layercake cover | The Knitting Vortex

A delicious cropped cardigan worked seamlessly from the top down, Layercake features raglan construction and narrow stripes. Long ribbed cuffs end three-quarter length sleeves and match the wide hem which defines the waist. The matching buttonband is picked up and worked along the deep V-neck. In confectionary hues or your favorite color combination, this sweet cardi is a light layer over any outfit.

Techniques & Skills Used: raglan construction, knit/purl, increasing/decreasing, cable CO, backwards loop CO.
Size: 30 (32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 48, 52)” bust; shown in fourth size with 1” of positive ease
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (100% superwash merino wool; 420 yards/100g), shown in Alizarin (MC) and Sugar Plum (CC). 2 (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3) skeins MC and 1 (1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2) skeins CC, or approximately 600 (650, 700, 750, 800, 850, 900, 950, 1050, 1150) yards MC and 300 (325, 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475, 525, 600) yards CC of fingering weight yarn.
Other Materials: US 5 (3.75mm) 32” circular needle or size to match gauge; Stitch markers (10); Stitch holders (2); Yarn needle; ½” buttons 8 (9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 11, 11); Matching sewing thread and needle.
Gauge: 22 st and 32 rows/4″ in stockinette stitch, after blocking.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Layercake | The Knitting Vortex  Layercake back view | The Knitting Vortex  Layercake buttoned | The Knitting Vortex

Jul 132014
 

Short Rows are one of my very favorite knitting things, ever. Need to shape a hem, make a bust dart or a shoulder slope? No seaming, no binding off, no problem – just work short rows and you can have angled sections of knitting that create shape and make a garment better fitting, or a shawl more interesting.

There are many ways to work short rows, all of which involve working a partial row (thus, the “short”) and then using one of several methods to turn the work and go back in the opposite direction, while making the turning point unobtrusive and attractive. Perhaps the most common and basic is the wrap & turn method, sometimes abbreviated to w&t. To work it, here’s what you have to do:

To w&t on a knit row:

1. Knit to the turning point; with yarn in back, insert the right needle tip purlwise into the next st, and slip it to the right needle.

slip st

2. Bring the yarn to the front.

bring yarn to front

3. Slip the wrapped st back to the left needle.

slip st back to left needle

4. Turn the work, and if you’re working in stockinettte stitch, bring the yarn to the front and purl the next row. If you’re working in garter stitch, leave the yarn in back when you turn the work, and knit the next row.

turn work & bring yarn to front

To w&t on a purl row:

1. Purl to the turning point; with yarn in front, insert the right needle tip purlwise into the next st, and slip it to the right needle.

slip st purlwise

2. Bring the yarn to the back.

bring yarn to back

3. Slip the wrapped st back to the left needle and turn the work.

slip wrapped st back to left needle and turn work

4. Bring the yarn to the back and knit the next row. If you’re working in garter stitch, every row is a knit row, and you’ll be following the directions above instead.

bring yarn to back

In stockinette stitch, the wraps would be visible in the fabric if just left there when you came back and worked the wrapped stitch on a subsequent row. To avoid that, you can hide the wrap by picking it up and working it together with the wrapped st.

To  pick up a wrap on a knit row:

1. Insert right needle tip knitwise into the front of the wrap.

insert right needle knitwise into wrap

2. Then insert needle knitwise into the wrapped st.

insert needle into st

3. Knit the wrap and the st together as one.

knit wrap and st together

To pick up a wrap on a purl row:

1. Insert right needle tip purlwise into the back of the wrap.

pick up wrap

2. Place the wrap onto the left needle.

place wrap on needle

3. Insert right needle purlwise into both wrap and st.

insert needle into wrap and st

3. Purl the wrap and the st together as one.

purl wrap and st together

In garter stitch, there is generally no need to pick up the wraps, since they disappear into the garter fabric; just knit subsequent rows, leaving the wraps where they are. For this reason, I like the quick and easy wrap & turn method when I’m working garter stitch. Depending on your yarn, w&t may not be the tidiest method when working in stockinette stitch, especially if the purl side will be visible. For other short row methods, I’ll be posting additional tutorials in the upcoming weeks.

Jun 032014
 

I never really think of myself as a lace knitter, either in terms of making things in delicate lace stitch patterns, or working with laceweight yarn. I do both of those things, though, and always forget how much I enjoy it. Katie Scarlett was a case in point; 800+ yards of bfl wool & silk, mostly lace ( I did sneak in a little short-row ruffle at the bottom, since that’s my favorite sort of thing) . . . And it was a rhythmic, easy knit, due in large part to the beautiful Artio Lace yarn from Wooly Wonka Fibers.

To spread the lace knitting love, I’m giving away a skein of Artio Lace in the shimmering Twelve Oaks colorway used in the sample, and dyed exclusively for the Heroines Shawl Club March kit, where Katie Scarlett debuted. The pattern is available for purchase on Ravelry to everyone as of June 1, and for the next week will be 40% off with the coupon code FIDDLEDEEDEE. All purchasers will be entered into a random drawing to win the skein of Artio Lace pictured here, to make the shawl.

Katie Scarlett Artio Lace yarn

Contest runs from June 3 through June 9, 2014, and I’ll announce the winner on June 10. Tomorrow is another day – for lace knitting!

Katie Scarlett & Artio Lace

Jun 022014
 

Katie Scarlett Last Look | The Knitting Vortex

I unveiled Miss Scarlett in March; originally a Wooly Wonka Fibers 2014 Heroines Shawl Club exclusive, Katie Scarlett is now available as a pdf download.

The belle of the ball will always be Katie Scarlett O’Hara, the indomitable heroine of Gone With The Wind. Even dressed in a green velvet curtain, she is unapologetically flirtatious, enticing and captivating. This semi-circular shawl is worked from the top down in the shape of a hoopskirt like those worn by Miss Scarlett, using a beautiful wool and silk blend laceweight yarn. Four different lace patterns represent our heroine’s journey. Like her gentle upbringing, simple increases grow into a regular, small scale eyelet mesh, which becomes a swirling diagonal reflecting the tumultuous Civil War years, and finally straightens into strong vertical lines of hard edged diamonds just like her headstong and determined character. The knit-on ruffled edging is worked sideways in small short row sections and attached to the live stitches of the shawl, avoiding long rows and proving that perseverance will pay off. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Techniques & Skills Used: garter tab, cable CO, knit/purl, lace; this pattern is both written and partially charted for the lace patterns.
Size: 78” wingspan and 28” depth, after blocking.
Yarn: Wooly Wonka Artio Lace (80% Blue Faced Leicester wool, 20% silk; 875 yards/100g); 1 skein, shown in Twelve Oaks. Pattern requires 815 yards/93g; see Designer’s Notes for information on adjusting yardage.
Other Materials: US 5 (3.75mm) 40” circular needle; Scrap yarn for provisional CO; Stitch markers; Yarn needle.
Gauge: 24 st and 30 rows/4” in Diamond Lines stitch pattern; 24 st and 32 rows/4” in stockinette stitch, after blocking. Gauge is not critical for this project, however a different gauge may result in a smaller or larger finished shawl, and different yardage requirements.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.   

Katie Scarlett arty view | The Knitting Vortex  Katie Scarlett back ruffle | The Knitting Vortex  Katie Scarlett diamond closeup | The Knitting Vortex

May 292014
 

Lorem Ipsum | The Knitting Vortex

A feminine cropped cardigan with geometric eyelets, Lorem Ipsum is knit seamlessly from the top down incorporating simple lace with the techniques of raglan sweater knitting. In graphic design, Lorem Ipsum dolor sit amet begins the scrambled Latin text often used as a placeholder, to focus attention on the style elements of a document. Likewise, this easily memorized, small scale pattern highlights the raglan sleeve and deeply scooped neck shaping, without competing. The lace is designed to flow without interruption around the cardi, transitioning to flattering single rib hem, cuffs and neckline. With a simultaneously worked garter button band and minimal finishing, the focus is on style in this flattering little sweater.

Techniques & Skills Used: raglan construction, knit/purl, increasing/decreasing in pattern, cable CO, backwards loop CO. Stitch patterns are both written and charted, and include instructions for shaping the raglan sleeves in pattern.
Size: 32.75 (34.5, 36, 37.75, 39.25, 42.5, 44.75, 48, 50.5)” bust; shown in third size with 1” of positive ease.
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Finito (100% merino wool; 200 yards/50g), shown in Plomo; 4 (4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7) skeins, or approximately 650 (700, 750, 800, 850, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300) yards of fingering weight yarn.
Other Materials: US 5 (3.75mm) 32” circular needle or size to match gauge; Stitch markers (10); Stitch holders (2); Yarn needle; ½” buttons, 12 (12, 13, 14, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 ); Matching sewing thread and needle.
Gauge: 20 st and 32 rows/4” in Eyelet pattern; after steam blocking.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.    

Lorem Ipsum closeup | The Knitting Vortex  Lorem Ipsum back | The Knitting Vortex  Lorem Ipsum side view | The Knitting Vortex

May 072014
 

and mixed feelings. Exultant over the fabulous stash enhancement, at excellent prices. And despairing at the reason for the sale – my fave LYS is closing. It’s always sad when a small, indie business shuts its doors, and it makes me re-commit to buying local in the effort to prevent more of the same from happening. In this case, the owner of Down Cellar is relocating for family reasons, and there’s no one to step in and take over. Even though as a consumer I cant really help with that in this case, maybe I can in others. That’s a thought to sticky-note to the computer as a reminder during future surfing sessions.

sad yarn

May 012014
 

Crossfire Last Look | The Knitting Vortex

Diagonal lines fire across this elongated, asymmetrical shawl, creating striking contrasts in angles and colors. Textural stripes are worked using simple knit and purl stitches, while the intersecting columns are created by slipping stitches at regular intervals; only one color is ever worked at a time. The sample pairs a neutral main color with a long, self-striping yarn as the contrast color, but using a variegated yarn or leftovers to create your own custom stripe colors as the contrast would be equally lovely. The long, bias shape shows off the dramatic pattern while being easy to wear, and the simple construction adapts to varying amounts of yardage.

Techniques & Skills Used: knit/purl, increasing/decreasing, slipped stitches; this pattern is both written and charted.
Size: 92” on longest side and 18” deep at point; see schematic.
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (100% merino wool; 420 yards/100g); 1 skein MC; Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi (80% merino wool, 20% nylon; 195 yards/50g); 2 skeins CC. Shown in Natural (MC) and 120 Fireworks (CC), and using about 420 and 350 yards respectively. This pattern may be adapted to any amount of yarn in two colors; see Designer’s Notes.
Other Materials: US 5 (3.75mm) 32” circular needle, or size to match gauge; Yarn needle.
Gauge: 24 st and 38 rows/4” in Body stitch pattern, after gentle blocking. Gauge is not critical for this project, however a different gauge may result in a smaller or larger finished shawl, and different yardage requirements.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Crossfire hero | The Knitting Vortex   Crossfire closeup | The Knitting Vortex   Crossfire wrap view | The Knitting Vortex

Apr 262014
 

I like to use every last bit of my yarn whenever possible; it both appeals to my frugal side, and justifies the purchase of new stash, since I’m using what I have so wisely. My ideal shawl is one like Sundry, where you can knit until you run out of yarn, leaving only enough for the bind off. I also find myself eking out sweaters with slightly-too-little yardage, by saving the sleeve cuffs for last (even after finishing!) and working both simultaneously until zero yarn remains.

Sundry maximizes yarn

That still means you have to make sure you actually have enough so that you don’t get a dozen stitches from a completed bind off with 1″ of yarn remaining – one of a knitter’s most painful moments. There are several ways you can estimate how much to leave, in order to maximize your yardage.

1. The rule of thumb is to leave about 3 times the length of the row, or approximately 1″ of yarn per stitch. These guesstimates can both be done quickly, and you can choose a rough average of the two and proceed. This can be a slightly reckless approach good for the the live dangerously type, and the possibility that you wont have enough increases as your gauge gets larger. If you’re working with superbulky yarn, try leaving at least 4 times the length of the row for starters.

2. If you can brave a bit more math, there are more options. For the stitch-count lovers (I’m talking to you, spreadsheet people) pick a small number of stitches evenly divisible into the total stitches you will have for the row in question. Measure how much yarn it takes to knit that small number – just knit them, then tink and measure the yarn. Multiply that measurement by the number of times your small number is divisible into your total. Let’s say your questionable row has 200 stitches; knit 20, mark the yarn with a paperclip, tied-on scrap or by just pinching with your finger, then tink back and measure how much yarn those 20 stitches required. Multiply by 10 and that’s about how much you’ll need for the row. Technically that’s how much you’d need to knit the row, which is good if you’re finishing a section; binding off can take a bit more, especially if it’s a stretchy through the back loop type – either add in some extra, or more scientifically, bind off those 20 stitches and measure the yardage it takes.

3. For the math-y visual types, you can run a full trial row – and again this is more indicative of the amount necessary to work the row rather than to bind it off. Pull out a few yards from the skein, more than you think you need, and measure off an arbitrary amount, 6′ for example. Mark the 6′ with a slipknot or the handy tied-on scrap. Then work the trial row, and measure how much is left before the marked off amount, in order to determine how much yardage the row used. In our example, if 12″ remain before your marker, you know that one row requires 5′ of yarn. It’s a good idea to leave a little more, just in case.

4. Finally, my favorite scientific variation of number 3, and the method that I think is most accurate, is to weigh your yarn. I use the digital scale, set to grams. As you’re nearing the bind off or the row in question, weigh the remaining yarn in the skein. Work the row, then weigh again; that’s the amount needed for the row. If you haven’t waited to do this until the almost bitter end, you can easily check several rows and average the amounts, if they show any difference. I think this method is the simplest, too, because there’s no measuring and no math – just pop the skein onto the scale. For a bind off, I leave extra – perceptually,  even doubling the 2 grams of sock yarn that the scale says I need to 4 grams, still makes me feel virtuous and thrifty.

Then congratulate yourself on your success, and go out and buy another skein; you deserve it for managing your resources so wisely.