I don't know about you, but there are several months of the year- November, March, and this year surprisingly August (we had a lot of rain), when the sky is grey, and everything around me seems grey. (I live in NYC, there's a lot of black and grey all year round). I find myself longing for color, but not just 'color', specifically citrus and sunshine colors. It's odd because they aren't colors I tend to wear. In fact, few people seem to wear bright yellow, or bright orange, and I understand that these colors sell the least in clothing, which doesn't surprise me. I have often seen some bright yellow dress on a rack or a celebrity and thought, "who can wear that?!" However, this time of year when we're surrounded by pumpkins, and squashes, and bright leaves, not to mention the autumn sun in a bright blue sky, wouldn't it be nice to wear some of that brightness? Maybe sometimes we get too regimented into what we consider 'our colors.' Maybe there should be no such thing a who 'can' or 'can't' wear a certain shade. I'm thinking of making something bright yellow, or citrus orange, to have on hand for those days when there's nothing but grey, to at least try to create a little sunshine! At least it will make me smile on some grey January day!
Like many, many knitters of my generation (and other generations), I have been obsessed for decades with the designs of Alice Starmore. She's got it all- incredible colourwork, stunning texture, gorgeous cables, shaping, designs for men, women and children- something truly for everyone. Over the years I have actually completed several of her designs (which apparently is uncommon; someone once told me that many people buy the yarns and patterns for her designs and for Kaffe Fassett's, but only a small percentage complete them.)
I own almost all of her books, including the more obscure, not reprinted ones. However, I don't currently own a single Alice Starmore sweater. Why? Glad you asked. Here begins my story of Starmores I have loved and lost. (or, still pine for). ALL PICTURES ARE FROM ALICE STARMORE'S BOOKS- please go to virtualyarns.com and explore her world completely.
My first Starmore was Lochinver. It was also one of the first sweaters I ever made. I made it in cotton. I knew nothing about gauge, the difference between US needle size and metric needle size, steeking. It came out surprisingly ok- but ENORMOUS, even for the 80's. And heavy. Eventually I tried to sew and cut it down, but it really never worked.
My knowledge grew and I knitted Stornaway for my then-boyfriend on appropriately small needles. I knitted for months while he was serving in the Merchant Marine. It was truly gorgeous. I should have known the relationship was over when he was completely unimpressed- in fact he 'forgot' and left it at my house after I gave it to him. I should have kept the sweater.
And then came Tudor Roses, a gorgeous book by Alice and Jade that not only included gorgeous designs but also related to my favorite characters in my favorite period of English history. I instantly wanted to knit ALL of them. On to the 'someday' Starmores- since the first edition I have been determined to make myself a Katherine Howard. It looks equally good in both the original and newer version, and someday I WILL get around to making it for myself. One thing delaying me is the fact that (like many of Starmore's designs) the largest size is JUST too small for my (ample) bosom and I would have to modify- which is not easy in such a detailed design.
Also in both editions is the lovely Margaret Tudor by Alice. It, too, is stunning, and features a relatively open neck- I find tight necklines impossible to wear (I must have been choked in a former life!) The sleeves are different in the later version; I'm not sure which I prefer. This will probably get done first as its largest size will fit without changing.
Finally, there is ONE Starmore currently sleeping on my needles- Cape Cod from FIshermen's Sweaters. I bought the yarn on a vacation to- you guessed it- Cape Cod. I cast on while on vacay and haven't picked it up since. It's on my 'must finish before buying new Starmore yarn' though.
So, that's my Starmore story. Hopefully a completed, wearable one lies in my future- I'll keep you posted!
There are lots of jokes about the number of UFO's (unfinished objects) knitters tend to accumulate. While there are knitters who work on one project to completion and then start the next, they seem to be rare (though they do exist- I've met them!). For a variety of reasons, most of us seem to develop a collection of WIPs' (works in progress). Sometimes, you run out of yarn, or lose the directions-or the project bag- or need a different sized needles. Sometimes, you have a falling out with the person it's intended for, or they grow, or you miss the occasion, or you find out they hate the color or style you were making. Sometimes you come up against a technique you need to learn. But I think most of the time we put a project to the side because we either get bored with it (like a king-sized blanket on tiny needles!) or some other project catches our fancy. Most often in my life, I start a project for myself, and then someone else has a birth or wedding or graduation so mine goes back on the pile.
Speaking of my pile, some people are embarrassed about their unfinished projects, or the number of them. But I will share all the UFO's I have lying about, in part for because I'm trying to decide which to pick up next. This is actually causing me anxiety. You see, like many knitters, I like to have 2 projects active at a time, one demanding my full attention (like a complex design, or one I'm doing for publication which therefore must be perfect) and one less demanding one for in front of the tv or knitting on the go. (I refuse to call it 'mindless' knitting, but you get the idea).
I recently finished not one, but two major projects. Yarn should be delivered to me next week for a sweater for a magazine, so that takes care of the full-attention side. What I need to choose is the project I'll be dragging along with me in the car, knitting in front of the tv, and working on until the magazine yarn gets here. So, I want something portable, not too complicated, preferably one color and a simple stitch pattern. Let's look at what WIP's I have (and for the sake of this discussion, we're going to confine it to things already started and on the needles, nothing I have got the stuff for but haven't started yet!)
There's the British flag sweater from Vogue magazine that's been languishing for years, and the Alice Starmore super-fine-gauge I started on vacation in Massachusetts a few years ago. On the plus side, these are for ME and I'd love to be able to wear either of them, as soon as possible. They're also my longest languishing UFO's and it would be so great to check them off the list. On the minus side, both are very complex, the flag is almost impossible to transport, and there's no way I'd make significant progress before being torn away for the magazine project. So, not this time around.
Next there are two bed-sized blankets in progress. One is a cabled, fairly simple pattern on relatively large needles, but the original intended recipient is, shall I say, out of my orbit at the present time, so I don't feel the pressure to get it done. The other is the Toshtrology blanket from jimmy beans- I WAS keeping up with it originally but other things came up and now, I have probably a third of the year left to do. It's for me, so again, no super urge to complete it, and in both cases, blankets (especially once they have a big chunk done) are a pain to lug around, especially in the summer. So, no to the blankets.
Other projects currently in progress include a birthday sweater intended for a little friend whose birthday was a month ago (I know, a day late and a dollar short). However, it has multiple patterns and colors, so I think it's going to have to wait. (don't worry about her; she still hasn't grown into the sweater I knitted for her last Christmas, so she can wait). Down to the final two. I have a sample on the needles for the adult version of my Henderson sweater, which I've been promising people the pattern for for quite a while. It ticks all the boxes, but...I have one more to examine. The last WIP is another sweater I'm going to make up the pattern for as an indie pattern, but this is one I'm making in my size because I want to actually wear it (the Henderson prototype is model sized. I am not). The one for me is not super complicated, but it's not automatic knitting either.
So, I think I'll actually pull out both. I can do the Henderson while I'm out and about and unable to keep track of a pattern. The one for me, I'll work on in situations where I can concentrate just a bit more. Of course, once the yarn comes for publication, that will take priority over everything else. And of course, who knows what else will pop up before any of these get finished!
How about you? Do you have more than one project going at a time? More than one UFO? Do you have a pre-set plan, or do you struggle choosing which project to pick up?
I usually have a lot of projects going at once, so when I find myself actually needing a piece for myself for a specific occasion, I'll often look at designs others have published. I do this for several reasons. For one, why reinvent the wheel? For another, it's nice to support other designers. And finally, knitting someone else's design is kind of a mental vacation because I don't have to worry about checking and rechecking everything- and I often learn a new technique or way to phrase things. However, sometimes I have an idea in my head and can't find what I want, so then, it's time to design something for myself (and hope other people are looking for the same thing, eventually!)
In this case, I was invited to a destination wedding that was taking place on the beach. I find outdoor weddings, particularly on the beach, problematic. Not only does the sand make my extensive fancy shoe collection useless, but I don't know what to wear in general. Even if you know the weather forecast for the town, it can be significantly hotter or cooler on the sand. Or, it can start out hot, for the ceremony, but then the evening reception can turn significantly cooler after the sun sets and chill breezes start to blow. So, I decided to wear a dress I have that I love that hasn't gotten enough wear. It's not super bare, but it is sleeveless, so I decided I wanted to at least bring a sweater with me, whether I wound up wearing it or not.
Now, let me say here, there are gazillions of gorgeous shawl patterns out there. I know they're all the rage, both within and outside the knitting community. But....I am not a shawl person. I just seem completely incapable of wearing one successfully. They slip, fall, drip off my body. They drop in my dinner. They fall on the floor. They get caught in the chair. And they look like a rag I somehow got caught in. Plus, they don't really answer my issues of chilly arms. So, thought it looks like the obvious choice for most people, no shawl for me, thanks.
But what kind of sweater? I didn't see anything I liked in the stores or in patterns on ravelry, so I decided to start from scratch and make exactly what I wanted. I wanted something that worked for the occasion, but also for lots of other things, if I was investing so much time in it. I wanted long- like thigh length- hooded, no closures, long straight sleeves. I wanted a tailored edge, not ribbing, so I chose i-cord for all the edges. I wanted openwork that was relatively easy to work, relatively simple and not flowery, so I found "Diamond Mesh" in a Barbara Walker treasury.
For yarn, I wanted something cotton but light and flexible. It needed to be thick enough that the knitting wouldn't take forever, and it had to be easy-care. (I'm a messy eater and a slob in general, I freely admit. Eating in the dark on a beach? Please.) When I saw the Caron Cotton cakes, I knew I had found my match (oh, and I should say, I needed a 'non-luxury' yarn- budget friendly is important). In all honesty, a solid white or blue yarn would probably have matched the dress better. However, while the wedding was the starting point, I'm thinking of the many more hours spent wearing it for other occasions, and the color striping of "beachglass" appealed to me. It also really does remind me of the beach glass we would collect along the shore when I was a child, and I decided to use it for the name of the whole design.
I actually started with the hood to make sure I liked how it was all coming together before committing to the whole body. Once I saw that I liked it, I moved on to the sleeves, and finally the body (I wanted to be sure I had enough yarn to make it as long as possible). I'm quite pleased with the result. It was fine for the wedding, but more importantly, it's perfect for throwing over a t-shirt for walks along the shore or in the park, or over a dress for church. Hope you like it too, and this peek into the process!
I don't know about you but I'm often curious about the stories behind the designs I see in magazines and on Instagram. What inspired the designer? Why did he or she make the choices they did? So, I thought from time to time I would share the thought process behind some of my designs as they appear in publications. Recently, my child's sweater, "Birch", appeared in Cast On magazine, the official publication of The Knitting Guild Association (tkga). You can find it on their website (tkga.org)
In designing this sweater, I wanted to create a kid's sweater that would be an easy introduction to colorwork knitting. I imagined someone who was an ambitious beginner, and I wanted him or her to be successful. I also imagined a more experienced knitter who wanted a quick sweater to knit as a gift. In order to make it as easy as possible, I kept the shaping simple- straight body, drop sleeves. I wanted a chunky yarn to make it quick to finish, and also to make the colorwork easier.
I chose a traditional colorwork pattern that only uses 2 colors but has a strong graphic presence, since I would only be using one band across the chest and the top of each sleeve. I also wanted a casual, modern feel, so I decided on rolled edges rather than ribbing. This is achieved by working a few rows of stockinette, followed by a few rows of ribbing to stop the roll before starting the main body of the sweater.
My original sketch and swatch called for white yarn with black patterning. The lines of black against white reminded me of the bark of a birch tree; hence the name. When the design was chosen by the magazine (yay!) I was able to work with the editor to choose the yarn for the sample. I was thrilled with the Malabrigo Mecha that was chosen- it was a dream to work with, and the slight variations in both thickness and color contributed to that casual feeling. Now, a stickler might point out that the final colors- cream and Prussian blue- are not the actual colors of a birch tree. However, I think in the right light- or just chalk it up to poetic license!
After all those decisions, it was time to put them all to work in the sample. Often, the final sweater looks very little like the original sketch, because along the line, all sorts of changes are made by me and/or by the editor. But in this case, the final product looked exactly like what I had envisioned all along. Hope you enjoyed this peek into the design process!
Any other old-school movie musical fans out there? I have a confession; I have a bad habit of throwing out random lines from random songs from random musicals from time to time (not in public- I'm an introvert. Only my family has to endure this particular quirk). In this case, however, neither the song nor the musical is random. No, I'm not on my way to the Great New York State Fair (see above- introvert), but my sweater is!
To go back to the start of this story, I have always had a weird obsession with state fairs and 'country' living, especially since (or maybe because) I've lived almost my whole life in NYC. I practically memorized the Little House books (remember how they made the butter more yellow with carrot juice?). My favorite TV show was the British import The Goode Life (I was into self sustainability before hipsters were born). While other kids played with Barbies, I preferred the Sunshine Family and most of all, I loved my Sunshine Family Craft Store.
So, it's no surprise that the idea of a state fair appeals to me. I've actually entered quilts- without success, unfortunately. I've never yet entered a sweater, but there's a reason. Years and years ago, I decided to enter a sweater in the local County Fair. I designed and knitted an elaborate Aran cardigan for a toddler cousin. I used fine yarn and cabled every inch in a variety of cabled patterns. It really was beautiful, if I do say so myself. I was so disappointed when I got the red, second place ribbon. That might sound petty, but there were only 2 sweaters in the competition to begin with. The other sweater, which won, was a completely plain woman's pullover in medium weight yarn, one color, stockinette, no patterning of any kind. When I went to pick up my entry, I was told that I had lost because the other sweater was bigger, so there was more knitting in it. So, I've been a little hesitant to enter a fair ever since.
This year, though, I decided to bite the bullet and enter. I want that blue ribbon. Don't get me wrong, I'm not competitive- Really! I'd actually be thrilled if everyone in the category got blue ribbons. But at least in the State Fair, there are specific divisions for different sizes and kinds of knitting so hopefully I have a better chance. I designed this sweater years ago, and remade it in a new size and colorway. Let's hope, even if I don't win anything, that at least it won't be because the square inch measurement is too small!
I know it's been quite a while since I made an addition to my study of different cast-on methods, but I have been trying different styles. Unfortunately, there's really nothing specific to recommend any of the methods I've tried, other than some ways of holding the yarn may feel more comfortable depending on your hands. Of course that's nothing small, especially for knitters who knit a lot, or who knit small projects and consequently cast on a lot, or particularly for knitters whose hands have particular pain or flexibility issues. However, that doesn't make them look any different in a picture here. I advise you, if you find the current method you use to be painful or awkward for your hands, to consult one of the many great knitting reference books for options (such as Hiatt's Principles of Knitting, or Vogue Knitting (the book) or Montse Stanley's Reader's Guide book- I could go on and on, and probably will in another post)! In the meantime, I'm going to confine my posts to cast-ons that produce a different look to the finished piece, rather than different methods for producing the same look.
Lately, I've been loving the i-cord cast on. As the name implies, you end up with an i-cord edge to your work, which I find a nice, tailored alternative to ribbing or other 'regular' edges especially for summer pieces (I don't want a cozy tight ribbed sleeve cuff on a summer knit). I also find a small I-cord is a nice crisp edge for an openwork design, like the one I'm working on now (another post for another day).
I've found two different ways of creating that i-cord cast on edge. One, which I had learned years ago, involves working an I-cord (by knitting, or by using one of those devices like a spool knitter), ending it, then picking up stitches along one vertical row of stitches. It's an easy method, especially if you have an i-cord machine, but I have had trouble keeping my stitches neatly along the same row. Of course as I write this it occurs to me that that could be a design feature, if the i-cord were deliberately 'swirled' at a steady rate, but that would require further experimentation.
I've recently learned the method of casting on while creating the i-cord itself- there are tons of videos online and I advise you simply to google one of those; my verbal description here would be inadequate and a one minute video will have you off and running. Anyway, as I said, I'm loving this method, although you should be forewarned- it takes a lot longer and a lot more yarn than a conventional cast on- if you are making a 3 stitch i-cord, you will actually be making 4 stitches for every stitch you cast on- 3 for the cord and one for the cast on stitch- so if a shawl starts with 100 stitches, that's 400 stitches before you even start the shawl proper. Still, I think it's worth it (in appropriate designs) because you're left with such a pretty finished edge, and you can mirror it easily with an i-cord bind off (and even, in the case of a blanket, for example, applied i-cord on both sides).
Anyway, that's my 'flavor of the month' cast on- if you're not familiar with it, or with it worked in this way, give it a try and see how you like it!
I have to tell you, my very least favorite part of designing is creating the schematic. (A schematic is a drawing of the outline of the parts of the sweater, with measurements marked on it). I understand that schematics are important to many knitters, so that they can be sure that each knitted piece matches the appropriate measurements.
To be honest, when I knit from a pattern someone else wrote, I only refer to the schematics if there seems to be a problem. For the average sweater, I care about the length of the body and sleeves and the width of the body. I don't really look too closely at the armhole depth, or the shoulder width, etc. Of course, that's lazy on my part, and if a sweater doesn't fit the way I want it to, I really have only myself to blame. Luckily, other knitters are more detail oriented (or maybe less trusting that it will all turn out all right!) and need the schematics as a reliable tool.
I actually don't mind making schematics in general. If I could use a pencil and a ruler, that would be fine. And to be clear, sometimes that IS fine- different publishers and companies have different requirements. Some create their own schematics from a pattern or re-create hand drawn ones, so they can use the same software and be consistent. For self published designs, of course, you can do whatever you want, and some designers do use hand-drawn graphics (especially the artists, whose drawn schematics are works of art). I've seen (and thought, 'how clever!') designers use a photograph of the sweater as the graphic and added measurements. (in fact I keep thinking I should do that- right after I send the sweater off someplace without having taken the appropriate photo. For some publishers, however (and for this particular project I'm working on), I need to submit a jpeg of a computer drawn schematic.
Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly thankful for the (free) programs that allow me to do this. But to me, it's like drawing with an Etch-a-Sketch, which I was never able to do successfully as a child (or adult!) There are probably easier ways to do this, but they're probably costly as well, and frankly, free programs fit my budget. And these programs (for the record, Inkscape for the drawing, and GIMP for converting the drawing to a jpeg) have FAR more capabilities than I will ever use. (and by the way, shout out to all the software developers who provide free programs of all sorts- what would we do without them?!)
The real problem, of course, is of my own making. If I were to invest some time into practicing , and made sure I did so frequently, I'd probably be able to knock out a perfect schematic in minutes. But because of my discomfort, I avoid it, until I HAVE to do it, and by then I've completely forgotten everything I learned the last time I used the program. (Side note- the same thing happens on the rare occasions when I've had to make a power point- finally figure it all out, then years pass before I have to do it again and it's like I've never done it). After all, why would I want to do that when I could be knitting?!
I guess the take away is, I know I'd be a better knitter if I looked at the schematics more frequently while knitting, and I'd have an easier time with schematics if I took the time to practice and keep my skills fresh. (now, whether or not I ACT on this knowledge has yet to be seen...)
I am a proud graduate of Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and about a year ago, after a long process of nominations and voting, the college announced its new mascot- the Amherst College Mammoth! When I saw the new logo, my first thought was- that would make a great sweater!
Now, I could make a sweater for myself with the logo, and probably never have a problem. But I wanted to do something bigger. Besides earning an English degree at Amherst, I also learned to knit while I was there, and it seemed fitting to create a pattern others could use. On top of that, I wanted to use it as a way to give back to the College that gave me so much. In my church (I'm Episcopalian) there's a saying, that we can (and should) offer our "Time, Treasure, and Talent". I don't have much in the way of treasure, but I thought I could use my time and (questionable) talent to develop the pattern.
Before I did so, however, I needed to get permission. Not only is it illegal to use a trademarked graphic in your knitwear design, I wanted the college's permission to promote it as the Amherst College mammoth sweater. So I sent an email to the school, hoping for the best but fully prepared to never get a response. (I should mention here that. although it's a small college, they're more in the habit of dealing with billionaire donors than people like me!) Very soon, I got an email, enthusiastically supporting the plan.
I immediately started working on the pattern. I knew I wanted to offer a range of sizes from babies to (very) large adults. I decided I wanted to make one chart for all sizes- for one thing, with all these sizes, it would be confusing enough to use the right directions, let alone find the right chart. Next, I wanted it to have the same scale- if a mom or dad wanted a matching sweater with a baby, I wanted a mammoth to fill each sweater front. In order to achieve this, I used a different weight for each size range- fingering for baby, dk for youth/small adult, aran for adults to plus size adults.
Next, I wanted to make it easy for knitters to customize it- for example, an adult with a large chest might want shorter arms. So I kept the shaping as simple as possible- a box shaped body with simple dropped sleeves. This makes it easy for a knitter to lengthen or shorten a body, switch sleeve sizes, etc. The only real difference in shaping is for the baby sizes- in those sizes, both the fronts and backs have neck shaping, while in the other sizes only the fronts have neck shaping. This is because a baby's head is so disproportionately large compared with its neck and shoulders that sweaters can be hard to pull over the baby's head. (That's also why I usually make baby cardigans rather than pullovers!) Besides making for easy modification, the boxy, simple shape fits the mood of the piece- a casual college sweatshirt look rather than a tailored fashion piece.
Next I got to work on the samples. It was more difficult than I had anticipated to find the right purples in each weight! (This was exacerbated by my colorblindness- I'm serious- and the failures of laptops/websites to accurately show colors).
Once the sweaters were done, I submitted the patterns and pictures to the college for approval, and they sent me a licensing agreement (!). In order for me to use the logo, I needed a legal agreement from them, and a lawyer not only took the time to write up the agreement, but walked me through all the aspects of it. This not only made this agreement clear, but I feel as though I've gotten a free education in licensing, which can only help me in the future.
They also sent me a copy of the second logo- the circle with just the mammoth face- which they said I could use if I preferred. I love this logo, but I thought, why not give knitters the choice, or the option to have one logo on the front and one on the back? So, I converted the logo to a chart with the same number of stitches and rows as the original, to make them interchangeable. Then I knitted up a version of that logo. Full disclosure.....I wanted to get the pattern out, so I didn't knit an entire new sweater...I knitted just the front with the new logo and sewed it on top of the already completed adult mammoth sweater for pictures!
So, now, the Mammoth sweater is live, and I'm hoping it will bring in at least some funds to the college, as well as giving other alums and students the opportunity to wear some college pride! In fact, I think it's cute enough to make and wear even without a connection to the college. The only thing that remains now is for me to make a version in my size, for me!
Sometimes I'm asked why I often use 'cheap' yarn in my samples. At other times, I see 'cute' signs proclaiming "Life's too short to knit with cheap yarn!" I thought I'd take a moment to talk about these concepts.
First of all, what IS 'cheap' yarn? Obviously, it's non-luxury, less expensive- but how much less expensive does it have to be to qualify as 'cheap'? It's relative, isn't it? Although every knitter seems to have a different definition, I would guess that the most people probably mean acrylic yarns available through mass market retailers, like Michael's or Walmart or similar chains.
One point of view is that a knitter is going to be spending (depending on the project) hours, weeks, months, or even longer working with the yarn in question, and then, someone will (hopefully) be enjoying the finished project for months, years, generations even. Looking at it that way, certainly buying the very best yarn you can afford, and that you will enjoy working with, makes sense. I would never discourage a knitter from indulging in the most beautiful, tactile yarn he or she could afford to use.
On the other hand, there's an important caveat there- "could afford to use." So many knitters, for one reason or another, have quite limited yarn budgets- and the more you knit, the more yarn you need to buy! For some knitters, 'cheap' yarns are all they can afford, even using sales and coupons. I have seen the argument that by shopping online and finding closeouts and bargains, one can buy much higher quality yarn at mass-retailer prices, which may be true, and I'm always in favor of shopping around and getting a bargain- if that's what someone chooses to do.
I guess what really bothers me is the way even in the knitting community people judge each other. I've heard some hurtful comments about people's yarn choices, and seen customers shamed in yarn stores for asking for acrylic yarns. Too many times I've seen knitters embarrassed, and seen them feel like they had to apologize for their yarn choices, and justify them.
I know some knitters who are self proclaimed "yarn snobs." I think that's great- if you're a snob about your OWN yarn choices. There are so many options out there now- vegan, hand dyed, environmentally beneficial, locally sourced, fair trade, recycled, reclaimed, I can't even begin to list all the categories. Whether you choose your yarns by environmental impact, color, washability, sustainability, or by what's on sale, enjoy them. If someone asks for your recommendation, or your philosophy on yarn choice, please share! But as with so many other things, let's be supportive of each other, and let's remember that what brings us together- our love for knitting- is so much more important than divisions like yarn choice. After all, the greatest factor in any knitted project isn't the yarn choice, it's the love and time and skill put into completing it.
Continuing on with my re-examination of cast on methods, I thought I'd finish up methods that use only one strand of yarn. All of these have the advantage of not needing a second strand - I know that's obvious- but that means you don't have the stress of judging whether you've pulled out enough yarn, or if you've pulled out too much and are wasting it, if you fear running short for your project.
As you can see, I decided that the rolling of a stockinette swatch was not the best way to proceed, so I re-did my first swatch and am continuing on with 1x1 ribbing. If you're making a notebook too, you can use any stitch pattern you want. Just use the same one for each swatch, so you can compare cast on methods with the same fabric.
For this section, I re-did the e-wrap swatch, as I mentioned. Then I tried the twisted e wrap, which is created the same way but with the stitches facing the opposite way on the needle. The next row is done in the ordinary way, which twists the stitches. As we saw last time, the e-wrap cast on gives a loose, loopey edge, which is supposed to be counteracted by the twist- but to be honest, I can't see/feel much difference in my swatches.
The next two swatches are pictured above. Up top is the alternate loop cast on. One stitch is put on e-wrap style, the next is twisted, and they alternate across the row. Again, this is supposed to make the cast on lose some of the loopy looseness, but again, I didn't find much difference.
Finally at the bottom of the page above you can see the Double Twist Loop cast on. You can probably guess from the name that this involves twisting the loop twice before putting it on the needle. I found this an interesting cast on to work, but not especially noteworthy in any way.
In the end, this whole group of cast on methods seemed to give largely the same results. Some of them seemed slightly easier, so whatever feels most comfortable is probably the one you should add to your rotation. As I noted, they all give a looser edge than the long-tail, so it's certainly worth keeping one in your arsenal. Next time, we'll take a look at 2-strand cast ons.
*By the way- you can find tons of resources for cast ons, in books and online. The most common ones will be found in many places, possibly with slightly different directions. The ones I've talked about so far can be found (among other places) in the Reader's Guide Knitter's Handbook by Montse Stanley.
The start of a blog, the start of Spring (yeah, I'm being optimistic) seems like a good time to start a different kind of knitting project, one which I'll chronicle in this blog, among other topics. I've been knitting for more years than I care to remember, and while in that time I've learned a lot of techniques, I've also forgotten many, and I tend to rely on the same old ways of doing things without examining them. I'm going to go through a kind of renewal process to really examine each stage of the knitting process.
I've decided to start at the beginning, and to that end, I'll be working different cast-ons for a while. While I know there are multitudes of them out there, and have used different ones in the past, I tend to default back to the old reliable long-tail. But that's not always the best choice for every project. To remind myself of the properties of different versions in the future, I'm creating a notebook. As we know, knitting is tactile, and the qualities of a fabric (or its edge) can't always be discerned in a photo of an edge. So, I'll be working a (small) swatch of each cast on and attaching it on one side of the notebook, with notes about it on the facing page. in order to keep things easy for myself in the future, for comparison, I'll be using the same yarn (in my case, Caron Cakes, because I have some left over!) and the same size needle (US7 for me) unless a cast on requires something specific. If you decide to make your own, I'd suggest using a light colored and smooth yarn to make details easy to see, and in a medium weight- very fine yarn can be hard to see, and chunkier yarn might not fit in your notebook (I'm using a relatively small notebook for this).
On to the cast-ons! In the spirit of beginning at the beginning, my first cast on is probably the very first any of us learned- called variously the 'simple' cast on, the 'loop' cast on, or the 'e-wrap'. It's the one many of us use when we have to add stitches in the middle of the row and it's really just a backwards loop on the needle. It has some advantages- it's easy, you don't need to pre-measure how much yarn you'll need (as in the long tail), and as noted, you can easily add some stitches in the middle of a row. As for downsides, it gives a loose and 'floppy' edge. Of course, in certain situations, that can be a real advantage.
Welcome to the new, improved Bonnie Franz Designs website and blog! Here I'll share some tips and tricks about knitting and designing, upcoming projects and publications, and whatever else we'd chat about if we were knitting together at the coffee shop. So, pour yourself a cuppa, pull up a chair, and let's knit and chat!