Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Meeting a Knitting Hero

A while back, I was looking at some Ravelry forum posts, and came upon a question about garter stripes.  It was pretty late, and I needed to be heading off to bed, but I thought, "I need to reply to this post!" as it was a question about how to make garter stripe fabric look the same on both sides.  This was the technique I had discovered, and it was important to let people know about it.

I wrote a short post about how I had been playing around with this technque, posted a photo of a scarf I had made, showing its reversability, and explained that I had been working on a scarf pattern that I hoped to publish soon.

The photo I posted in the Ravelry forum
I came back later, and there was just one comment to my reply...but it was someone whose name I well recognized, an expert on knitting technique who lives just a couple hours away.  I have been aware of Joan Schrouder for a number of years, running clear back to my days of lurking on the KnitList, an internet knitting community of sorts.  I was very impressed with Joan's posts; they showed a depth of knowledge about knitting that was impressive, but more than that, I sensed that she had a love of learning knitting techniques, and an almost scientific approach to solving problems. When others were getting emotional and defensive about their way being the best, Joan would step in and be the voice of reason.

Anyway, Joan showed a kind interest in the technique I had discovered.  She even suggested that, if I were going to the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene in June, that she would like to meet with me.  My husband and I have never made it down to the BSG, but it seemed worth trying to get down there to meet Joan...so we made plans to meet her.

Joan was just as friendly and interesting in person as she is online.  I gave her a copy of my newly-published pattern, and showed her how to make a small swatch using the Double Garter Stripes technique.  We had a lively conversation about technique, and I asked her for counsel concerning my pattern.  All in all, it was a great visit, and I feel like I have made a new friend!

Thank you, Joan, for your kind interest in the technique, and for suggesting that we meet.  I'm so glad we did!  I had my husband commemorate the event with a photo.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Joy of Discovery, and the Frustration of Development

Over a year ago, I was playing with yarn and needles.  I like to try different techniques and stitches, and then experiment with different ways of doing things, in the hopes of finding some new, exciting technique.  Little did I know when I started out that day, that I would discover something truly remarkable!

I was playing around with a technique called Stranded Garter Stitch, from Jenny Dowde's Freeform Knitting and Crochet (described on pp. 145-146, and also in a project on pp. 107-110).  After working the stitch according to her instructions, I began trying it with variations.  Using a combination of slipped and knitted stitches, I was knitting happily along, enjoying the beauty of clearly delineated Garter-type stripes.  After working this way for a few rows, I turned the work, and--gasp--realized the the stripes looked the same on both sides!!

I began knitting again, this time making sure I recorded what I had done that had created this effect. The amazing thing was, that the technique was not particularly complex or intricate.  But I had never seen it done before.

I decided to design a scarf using this technique.  But I ran into a knotty problem when I tried to find a way to start and end the technique.  The cool thing about this technique is that it is reversible; yet, try as I might, I could not seem to find a way to begin and end the piece that looked the same (or at least somewhat similar) on both sides and symmetrical from the bottom to the top of the piece.  I must have done 25 or more swatches, trying to find a way to make it work.  I finally came up with something that (sort of) satisfied my requirements, and knitted several scarves as I worked on writing up the pattern.
Some of many swatches

I kept experimenting, though.  There had to be a better way!  In the meantime, I was devising a way to make a matching cap.  I tried short rows, which worked great, but because I wanted the cap to be reversible, too, I needed to graft it together invisibly.  I'm still working on that one!  I did figure out how to do the Double Garter Stripes technique in the round, and am working on a hat pattern now. Here is a sneak preview:

One possible version of the Double Garter Stripes Cap

One day, as I was getting ready to knit yet another Double Garter Stripes Scarf, I decided to try a chain cast on, alternating the colors.  It worked!  And if I did it right, I found that it created an alternating chain on both sides of the fabric.  Best of all, I was able to start right in with the first row of the fabric, and by doing a similar technique for the bind-off, I was able to make a scarf that was more completely reversible than my previous attempts had been.

I've been working on writing up that pattern ever since, and finally got it all put together.  Here is a photo of the completed scarf, showing both sides so you can see how reversible this technique is.

The pattern, Double Garter Stripes Scarf, is available on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/double-garter-stripes-scarf
Etsy: Mountain Mist Fiberworks Double Garter Stripes Scarf
Craftsy:  Double Garter Stripes Scarf on Craftsy

I have lots more ideas for uses for this technique!  It is a rhythmic stitch that is relaxing to work, and it creates a thick, warm fabric with lots of texture and color.  I hope you will give it a try!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I recently published a new pattern, the Cabled Scarflette.  I've been working on it for quite a while, exploring different ideas and options and deciding the best way to write up the instructions.  I first made a prototype of this scarflette about 5 years ago, so it has been in the queue to be published for quite a while.

The pattern creates a pass-through scarflette with a short ruffled frill on one end, and a longer one on the other.  It hugs the neck nicely, and can be made in a Women's size small, medium, or large.  The slots on each end of the body of the scarf are made by dividing the body stitches onto two needles, and knitting a short ribbed panel on each set of stitches.  Then the stitches are "zipped together" onto one needle again, and the longer frill is knitted onto the combined stitches.

In playing around with the design, I came up with two different frill patterns, and since I couldn't decide between them, I decided to include both in the pattern.  Here are the two options:

Closeup of Lacy Cable Frill pattern
Closeup of Leafy Frill pattern

Each of these frills can be made a bit wider, if desired.   I have made the scarflette up in several different worsted-weight yarns...here is a sampling.

Lion Brand Heartland

Caron Simply Soft Party

Loops & Threads Impeccable Glitter

Lion Brand Wool-Ease

Cascade Alpaca Lana D'Oro
This is a fun pattern to knit; it has both charts and written instructions so you can choose to work in the manner that is most comfortable for you.  Happy knitting!

Cabled Scarflette on Craftsy
Cabled Scarflette on Ravelry
Cabled Scarflette on Etsy

Also, if you would prefer to buy one of my knitted models, check my Etsy store for availability:
Mountain Mist Fiberworks on Etsy

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Introducing the Garter Slip Rib Scarf

I suppose this is a bit late, as I have already written 4 blog posts about styling this scarf! But the pattern is now available, in my Etsy store ( https://www.etsy.com/listing/233912541/garter-slip-rib-scarf-digital-knitting?ref=shop_home_active_1 ), my Ravelry Store ( http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/garter-slip-rib-scarf ) and my Craftsy store ( http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/knitting/accessory/garter-slip-rib-scarf/146579 ). The really nifty thing about this pattern is that the fabric of the scarf is beautifully textured, and it looks lovely when twisted or braided (see the previous four blog posts for some creative ways to take advantage of this feature). It is soft and warm, and the yarn has some lovely colorways. Check it out! http://www.lionbrand.com/yarns/unique.html

This pattern is not difficult to knit. It uses a combination of knit and purl stitches along with stitches which are slipped knitwise or purlwise with the yarn in back or in front.  I hope you will give it a try!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Styling the Garter Slip Rib Scarf #4

This is the last post in this series...a total of 12 ways to style a knitted scarf.  Hopefully some of these are new to you...I'm sure most of them have been done before, but they all came to me as I was styling these scarves for my photographs.  Enjoy!

#10)  Two-Ply Twist


Fold the scarf in half; hold the two ends with one hand, and place your other hand inside the fold.  Circle your hand at the fold so that the two ends twist together, forming a 2-ply cord not unlike a piece of 2-ply yarn or a twisted cord.  Keep twisting that folded end of the scarf until the whole length is nicely twisted, making sure you hold the other end securely so that it doesn’t lose the twist.  Wrap the scarf around the neck and pull the ends through the little loop that is around your hand.  Snug this larger loop of “plied” scarf that is formed by pulling the ends through your end loop up close so that it fits comfortably around the neck.  Now, you have some options:  

 1.  Bring each end forward on opposite sides of the neck, and allow them to untwist.  Tuck them 
      under the twisted loop, just to keep everything secure (see main photo). 

2.  If  you like, after bringing the ends forward, tie them in a half knot.

1               3.   Slide the twisted loop around so that the looped end of the twist is at the side and let the ends
                 untwist and hang at the side.

                    4.     Slide the connecting loop all the way to the front so that the ends hang down at the front.

     #11)  Plied Rose


Twist the folded scarf together as for the Two-Ply Twist, wrap around the neck and pull the ends through the little loop that was around your hand, so that this connecting loop is at the front.  Keep the two ends twisted together (if you drop them and they untwist, simply twist them back together again).  Wrap this twisted cord all the way around the connecting loop in a circle, then tuck the two ends through the connecting loop from underneath, so they hang off to the side at the front of the rose.  

 Arrange the ends so they flare out prettily.

#12)  Braided Wrap


The idea of this one is somewhat similar to the Two Ply Twist.  Wrap the scarf around the neck.  If you are tying this one on your own neck, place the center of the scarf at the back (and later slide it around to the front); if  you are tying it on someone else, place the center of the scarf at the front of the neck, as shown in the photo.  Cross the left end of the scarf over the right end, as shown above; then without twisting the ends, cross the left over the right again, as shown below.  Continue crossing them in the same direction over and over again until you have formed a braid.  

When you have braided almost the entire length of the scarf, wind the braid around to the front and again toward the back of the neck.  

 See the orange loop at the back of the neck?  That is the beginning of your braid. 

  Choose one of your free ends (preferably the shorter one) and tuck it through that loop.

Tie the two ends together in a half knot.  Ta-Da!