Round Ridges, Welts, and Stripes

Here’s how you make garter in the round:

Rnd 1: K.
Rnd 2: P.
Rep Rnds 1 &2 for pattern.

If you’ve ever actually made garter in the round, you notice a little seam at the place where one round ends and the next begins. You don’t mind. In fact, you like it because it’s got a cool faux-sew feel, so you happily garter in the round wherever applicable.

Then one day, you’re feeling perfectionistic. Maybe you’ve attended a workshop with lots of spiffy knitters, or maybe you’ve read a blog that’s made you feel inferior in your modest yarniness, or maybe you’ve spent the day commenting on the imperfections of others and feel it’s time to move yourself one step closer to quintessence. Whatever the case, the seam is bothering you.

You notice the imperfect garter is caused by the fact that each round doesn’t line up with its neighbors. It’s really obvious when you work two rounds of knit stitches, one round of purl stitches, and two more rounds of knits. As you examine your work closely, you discover that the first purl stitch of the round is next to and below the last stitch of the round. They can’t line up, just like the loops in the wire spine of a spiral notebook don’t form a closed ring.

Suddenly you experience an overwhelming desire to make flawless garter in the round. You don’t know why it’s vital, but it is, and it’s more urgent than a potato chip craving or a yarn jones. You Google; you ask; you experiment; and finally, the mystery is solved.

Here’s how you make garter in the round without the faux-sew seam:

Rnd 1: K till 1 st rem, sl1.
Rnd 2: P all sts of rnd; slip first st of next rnd; new beg of rnd after slipped st.
Rnd 3: K all sts of rnd; slip first st of next rnd; new beg of rnd after slipped st.
Rep Rnds 2 & 3 for pattern.

Notice two things are happening:
1. Each round is one round plus one stitch long, so the beginning of the round is always moving. When you’re new to this, you can place a marker at the beginning of the round, moving it as you go, but once you get used to identifying the slipped stitch, you can do it without a marker.
2. You’re always slipping the last stitch of the round. This pulls the higher stich down to the level of the lower stitch.

The same technique helps you with welted stitches like:
Rnds 1-2: K.
Rnds 3-4: P.
If the welts consist of 3 or more rounds, you still have to slip the last stitch of the round, but the beginning of the round can stay where it is—no moving required.

The technique is exactly what you do when you work horizontal stripes of different colors.

You make incredible garter, welts, and stripes in the round. You are most amazing!

Knitpicks Color Descriptions

Earlier today I was doing some yarn browsing online. I was technically supposed to be getting a couple balls of yarn for a baby blanket I’m making. It looks like I’ll be about 3 or 4 balls short in two different colors. Knitpicks didn’t have any more of one color I needed. After some venting and measuring I decided I could still make the blanket with the yarn I have. It will just be a bit smaller.

Being on the Knitpicks website is never a good thing for me. Well, I think it’s a good think but my checkbook might not agree. So, while I was browsing through the Felici fingering self-striping sock yarn I was feeling mildly irritated. I was going to have to call a friend and get her to describe the colors for me. Seeing as this is the same friend I just vented to about the shortage of blanket yarn I didn’t really want to bother her. We’ll not even mention the fact that I’m not supposed to be buying yarn for the rest of 2012. Then I decide to click on the View Larger Image link for a color way called Time Traveler. I’m a big science fiction fan so the name appeals to me. I’m thinking in my head that there just might be more information about the yarn. Probably not, but just maybe. I get the surprise of the day. They have color descriptions of each color way. How totally awesome is that? I checked a couple of others to see if they all had it and they do. Then I look back over the information right before the list of colors. Lo and behold if I slow down just a little there’s a line that says “Click on each thumbnail to see larger images and color descriptions.” Imagine that. I have no idea how long these descriptions have been there. I’m pretty sure they weren’t there when I first started shopping at Knitpicks but who knows. This will make my yarn shopping so much more informed and even more fun. Like I need another reason to buy more yarn. I have a feeling that Time Traveler will be in my stash very soon.

Solids, Heathers, Jewels, and More

Colors can be something of a headache, and asking sighted people for clarification doesn’t help because each has a different notion of what color matches what and which color looks good on whom. So I’m not even going to pretend to go there. Instead, I’ll mention a few general bits and pieces about colors that may come in handy while working with yarn.

Some Basic Characteristics

Light and dark are contrasts. If you’re musically minded, think of light as one octave above middle C and dark as one octave below it. Think of muted, a dull version of the color, as quiet (piano), and think of vivid or saturated, a bold medium dark to dark variation, as loud (forte).

While most colors can be light medium or dark, white, yellow, pink, and lavender are light by definition, and black and red are dark by definition.

Solid yarns are the same color all the way through and make fabric that is uniform in color. A textural equivalent is the smooth public side of a store-bought knitted sweater.

Tweed yarns are solid yarns with flecks of different colors and make fabric that is uniformly not-solid. We all did a little weaving in elementary school or summer camp. (Remember the potholder?) The yarn and loom were big enough that the fabric we made had a definite grain and a clear textural pattern: the longer lines of the weft lay across the vertical warp, which was mostly hidden to the touch. This texture is like tweed: the solid background color is like the horizontal lines of the woven potholder that are easy to find with our fingers, and the flecks are like the tiny vertical bits that we can also feel. The foreground and background colors are so uniformly distributed that the fabric isn’t described as being two different colors though the two colors are seen.

Heather yarns are different muted shades of a single color. The different shades would be something like light blue, light-medium blue, medium blue, maybe a turquoise that’s more blue than green. Muted means that the colors are visually soft or grayish, like a dusty or fuzzy surface. The overall textural equivalent of a heathered fabric is like the fabric that results from working with slubby yarns, the yarns that are thick in some places, but thin in others. This type of fabric is full of subtle, but unmistakable variation. It has loose, almost lacey areas where thin yarns form a meshlike fabric; it has dense areas where thick loops interlock; and it has normal areas where thick and thin loops come together.

Variegated yarns are a dramatic version of the heathers. Variegation progresses through unmuted shades of the same color or more commonly from one color to another. The cape I’m making now has several shades of pink and peach, , a related lavender, white, and green. Texturally, the general effect is like making a slubby fabric, only imagine that the different fabrics—mesh, dense, and standard—are made of different yarns, maybe silk, wool, and cotton, so while the way one color or texture blends into the next is subtle, the over all effect is not.

Jewel tones are vivid medium or dark colors resembling gemstones (e.g., ruby red, emerald green, sapphire blue). They’re usually solid or nearly solid (meaning subtle variations of the same bold color), and they draw the eye, so they’re best for items that make a statement, comparable to a melody heavy with fortissimos, allegros, or slinky syncopations.

Colors and Stitch Patterns

To show off stitch patterns, solids and heathers in light to medium shades work best.

The darker the yarn, the less likely people are to see the stitch patterns and the more impressed they’ll be by the person who could see well enough to knit or crochet with the color.

Variegated yarns are best for no-frills crafting, like stockinet, garter, or ribbing for knitters. People never see the stitches amid all the interesting color activity, so take it easy and let the variegation do the work.

Jewels are also good for no-frills stitching. The colors tend to be darker, and their vividness is pretty damn interesting in and of itself.

All of these are generalizations, of course. A sighted friend with color and craft sense can discourse on various nuances or, more likely, point out a specific yarn that does or doesn’t do well with intricate stitch patterns, but knowing broadly what these color terms mean and how they affect our work is takes some of the uncertainty about what to do with our yarn.

Karen’s Alphabet Blocks

Contributed by Karen Schrade

This pattern makes stockinet cubes. Each side of the cube is worked in a different color with a print letter in the center of each side. Cubes are roughly 3x3x3 inches (7x7x7 cm) in size.

This is a basic recipe for the blocks. Lots of things can be changed to suit your own preference:

I used Peaches and Crème and Sugar and Cream Cotton Worsted. Originally, I tried these using Caron Simply Soft yarn. They were nice, but for a baby, I wanted something not so fuzzy.

To get the fabric right, I used size 1 knitting needles because I tend to knit loosely. That gave me a very dense fabric, which was what I wanted.

The stuffing is simply polyester fiberfill. I could use the blocks as covers for foam rubber cubes, but I wanted them to be totally washable. With the fiberfill, they can just go into the washing machine.

For my letters, I used Marjorie Arnott’s Charted Alphabet. Most of the letters are 8 stitches wide and 10 rows tall.

Size

My blocks are coming out almost 3 inches (7 cm) square on each side, so if you knit tighter than I do, you can probably go up a needle size or two.

Construction

To make 4 sides of the cube, I make a strip of 4 squares, then seam the cast on and bind off edges together. I do a turning row between each square to give the cube its shape. Then I make two individual squares to sew into the spaces at each end of the box.

You can do whatever you want with the colors. I am making each block as bright and varied as possible. I’ve been doing my individual squares in white with colored letters, and on each strip, I’ve been doing two colored squares without letters and two colored squares with letters.

Materials

Cotton Worsted yarn, 7 colors including white.

Size 1 (2.25 mm) straight knitting needles or size to make a block the way you want it.

Polyester fiberfill for stuffing the blocks.

Instructions

The Strip

With one of the bright colors, cast on 16 sts.

*work 18 rows in stst starting with a k row and ending with a p row.

Knit two rows for the turning. You get a ridge on the right side of the fabric.

Change colors.

**Work in st-st for 4 rows starting with a k row and ending with a p row.

Work your letter over the next 10 rows continuing in stst and changing colors for the letter itself. (I’ve been using white for the letters but you can use any color you want that will contrast with the background.)

Then work 5 rows in st-st, starting with a k row and ending with a k row.**

Do your turning row again, a knit row to create the ridge on the RS.

Work the next two squares of the strip by working from the * again.

Bind off loosely and join the cast-on and bind-off edges together.

For the individual squares

Make 2.

Cast on 16 sts.

Work from ** to ** as above.

Bind off loosely and sew into the side of the strip. The corners of the individual square will match the turning ridges.

Make sure to leave a small opening when joining the last individual square so you can stuff the block.

Notes

1. If you cut off about 2 yards of yarn in the “letter color” you can just let it hang behind the square till it’s needed again. That makes it easy to twist the yarns together to avoid long floats on the back of the square.

2. I’ve found that it’s better not to stuff the blocks too tightly. They tend to round out if they’re too firm.

3. Sewing the squares into the strip is the most time-consuming part of the whole thing. You can either overcast or mattress stitch the squares in place. If you overcast them, sew them firmly.

4. Any ends do not need to be woven in, but I’ve been tying the beginning and ending strands of yarn for the letters together. I don’t want them to figure a way to work themselves out!

5. Instead of choosing colors, I’ve been putting all of the yarn except the white into a bag. I randomly pull out a color for the square to be worked. When it’s finished, I put it into another bag and pick a second yarn randomly. Then when I finish the whole set of yarns, I start again. It’s making for some interesting combinations, like orange next to purple, but they’re children’s blocks and I want them to be as bright as possible. You can do the strip in a solid color, but remember to do the turning ridges. I’ve also done a couple with only two colors on the strips. Another option is to use a variegated yarn for the “non-letter” squares. That works well too, and you can do the other squares with a complementary color.

Tips for Braille Instead of Print Letters

If you want to put Braille on the blocks instead of print, you can work a popcorn for each dot: just knit into the front and back of a stitch repeatedly until you have five stitches instead of one; then pass the second, third, fourth, and fifth stitches over the one that is closest to the tip of the needle.

For contrast, you can make each side of the block in a solid color and later work the Braille dots with a different color.

Put a pin into the stitch you will make the popcorn in, and keep working. Then when you’re finished, pull a strand of whatever other color yarn you want to use from the wrong side of the fabric, pick up one of the stitches that has a pin, and work the popcorn. When it’s finished, pull the yarn back to the wrong side, and tie it to the beginning of the strand so it doesn’t come out. Repeat this process for any dots.

I’ve done this with bobble buttons and it works fine. It looks really nice to have a contrasting color button on a baby sweater.

Discovering Amigurumi

My 5-Month old baby has started holding on to and playing with his toys. It’s ever so precious and all I want to do is give him more things to look at and explore. Combine this with the continuous urge to buy more yarn (Don’t worry about how I told my husband yesterday that I shouldn’t buy anymore yarn until I used some; that’s yesterday.), the 20% off e-mail I received from Red Heart and my discovery of Amigurumi and you get me buying more yarn. What else could possibly result from crafty brainstorming? I mean, other than actual craftiness.

Amigurumi is a Japanese word that means to knit or crochet stuffed toys. These toys aren’t very big. I think the largest I’ve seen so far is 24 inches and that’s an anomaly. Most of them have been about 7 or 8 inches tall. They don’t take much yarn and you can use them to get rid of leftover yarn that’s just lying around. You also don’t need to use expensive yarn. I’m planning to use Red Heart Super Saver because of the price and the number of colors available. Not to mention the 20% off sale. I think I can do an order of about a dozen different colors and I’ll have enough to make at least twice that many toys. I’ll probably never need to buy more yarn for Amigurumi projects but who knows.

Amigurumi can be knit or crochet but they are usually crocheted. There construction is a little different in that you don’t turn your work. You just keep working in a spiral. Add some eyes and some stuffing and you have a cute little toy. A lot of Amigurumi is made for looks but I like the practical application of making them as toys. Also, I’ve learned that you can use black yarn for the eyes instead of buttons to make them safer for that toddler and younger age group.

Here are some toys I’m thinking of crocheting.

Learn Your Colors Fish Counting Toy

Adorable Aliens

Amigurumi Dinosaur

Other Amigurumi Links:

Crochet Pattern Central’s Amigurumi Page

Knitting pattern Central’s Amigurumi Page

Wikipedia Amigurumi

Red Heart Super Saver yarn

Diagonal Stripes Afghan

Contributed by Mary Nettleton
marynet@centurytel.net

This afghan had its beginning with a project that my knitting group did for an auction. The group afghan was made in 4 colors with two-color blocks. Then I started to wonder how else the 2-color squares could be arranged. Our grand son was graduating from highschool at about the same time and he wanted black, red and white. I absolutely and unequivocally never give a high-school graduate anything in white so 2 colors were what he got.

the finished afghan made from simple granny squares has bold diagonal stripes. For a similar tactile effect, find a Color B yarn that is also of a different texture from Color A. The project itself is very portable. As I remember it took me about 1 1/2 hours to make 1 square.

Materials:
• 8 skeins each of 2 colors, Plymouth Encore Chunky, Wool-ease Chunky, or any chunky yarn. Designate 1 color as A and the second color as B.
• Needle size: 11 or 13. The size needle is governed by the density of the fabric you prefer.
• Yarn needle for sewing squares together and safety pins or some other convenient method of marking the B half of the squares.

Skill level: easy.

Gauge: not important

Afghan Square:
Make 30

With A, Cast on 3 sts. Leave a generous tail for sewing.

Row 1: Inc1 st in first St, K to end).

Repeat this row until there are 42 sts on the needle.

Break A and pick up B.

Row 2: K1, K2tog, K to end of row.

Repeat this row till 3 sts rem.

Last row: Sl1, K2tog, Pass slip st over and fasten off.

Leave a generous tail for sewing, and place a safety pin near the corner to mark side B of the square.

Assembly;:

The afghan is 5 squares across and 6 down. Find a place where the squares can be laid out and sewn together. A bed works well for this. Start in the lower left-hand corner of the bed.

1. Beginning at the left edge of the bed, position Square 1 so that half A lines up with the lower left-hand corner of the bed.
2. Position square 2 to the right of Sq 1 so that side B lines up with side B of the first square. With one of the B tails, and a yarn needle, pass a thread back and forth in the edge sts.
3. Position Sq 3 to the right of sq 2 with the A sides lining up. Sew as before, using color A tails.
4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 one more time to attach squares 4 and 5.
5. Returning to the left edge of the afghan, position Sq 6 above sq 1 with the B sides together. Sew as before, using color B tails.
6. Position square 7 to the right of Sq 6, ( with the A sides together and sew in place, using color A tails.
7. Position Sq 8 to the right of sq 7, with B sides together, and sew in place, using color B tails.
8. Repeat Steps 6 and 7 one more time to attach Squares 9 and 10.
9. Repeat Steps 1-8 until all 30 squares have been sewn together.

If you sew and nip and tuck the ends as you go, it will be much less trouble later. How do I know this? Of course, if all else fails, ask for sighted help with the positioning or the ends.

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