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The Ups and Downs of Knitting: Counting Your Rows

September 23rd, 2013

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You, our readers, asked for it and we’re happy to oblige! Designer and teacher Heather Lodinsky joins us for a new article on understanding the fundamentals of your knitting.

Knowing exactly where you are in a knitting project requires knowing where you have been. “Reading” your stitches by identifying a knit versus a purl stitch is helpful in showing you where you are in a stitch pattern. In the last article I wrote, I showed how to identify the stitches already worked to know where you are in your knitting.

Sometimes no matter how hard I try, I can easily lose track of which row I am working in a pattern. Life happens—the phone rings, we get talking or we just have to leave our knitting for some reason.  Then I come back to my knitting and…what row was I working? There are various tools out there to help us keep track of our rows. Row counters exist that either attach to your needle, or need to be clicked and there are even “counting boards” where pegs are moved to show what row we are working. Even the simple “hash mark” on a piece of paper works well, but there is still  that human element of just plain forgetting to mark the paper, move the peg or click the counter to the next number. As a knitting teacher, one of the most common questions I am asked is: “What row am I on?”

A skill as important as identifying your stitches is the ability to count your rows without a “counter”. The best way to count stitches is by first identifying a stitch and then being able to count stitches up and down, which will tell us how many rows we have done and what row we need to work next.

Counting Rows in Stockinette Stitch

Stockinette Stitch | Counting Your Rows | Lion Brand Notebook

Click the image to enlarge.

Lets’s first look at stockinette stitch – which, when we are working a flat piece, is knitted on the right side  of the fabric and purled on the wrong side.  First, we have to be able to identify a “knit” stitch.  Look closely at the right side of stockinette stitch and see that a knit stitch looks like a “V”.   This is what we are looking for in order to help us count our rows.

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Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along – A Photo-Finish

May 30th, 2013

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KAL badgeWell, I have finished the Tranquil Tank Top and it is still Spring!  It has been great to see pictures of the finished tops that many of you have created during our Spring Knit Along.   If you have not finished, don’t worry – we will keep the posts of this KAL available long after this final post. (Click here to view previous posts.)

Finishing this top was a fairly quick job, with only 4 seams and sewing the bottom of the left front to the inside of the right front.  No sleeves to set in or stitches to pick up!

After I finished my front, I turned it over and used some detachable stitch markers to make sure those cast-on stitches for the left front would lay flat and even (I could also have used safety pins for this.)  Just as basting is necessary in machine-sewing a final seam, having your pieces in the correct spot with pins or markers assures that the finishing will progress evenly.

Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along – A Photo Finish
(Click images to enlarge.) 

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Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along — Knitting on the Flip Side!

May 23rd, 2013

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Note: This is the fifth installment of our Spring 2013 Knit-Along. To view previous posts, click here.

KAL badgeLast week, I finished the left front of the Tranquil Tank Top and this week I have knitted the right side. I really like how this pattern immediately proceeds to the opposite side of the fronts. The right front is the side that is on the outside and is completely worked from stitches that are part of the ribbing. For the left side, I had to cast on stitches, and although these cast on stitches may appear a little loose or uneven, there are no worries as the cast on edge of the left front will be sewn down and hidden on the inside:

Post 4 Pix 1Post 4 Pix 2

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Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along — Knitting the Front is “Off the Charts”

May 16th, 2013

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Note: This is the fourth installment of our Spring 2013 Knit-Along. To view previous posts, click here.

KAL badgeThis week, I have been working on the front of the Tranquil Tank Top and after nine inches of ribbing at the bottom, I’m ready to tackle the lace and cable part of the top! Before I started the lace, I made sure my ribbing for the front was not only the same length as the back, but that the right side (RS) of my ribbing was the same as the RS of my back ribbing. I had two knit stitches on each side edge of the back ribbing, and I made sure I did the same for the front. Double checking this will allow me to sew side seams that will look seamless when finishing.

The left and right upper sides of the front are written in chart form instead of written instructions in this pattern. When I first glanced at the instructions, I was surprised to see six pages of charts! Then, when I looked a little closer, I saw that there are actually two charts for each of the three sizes. This will make for easier chart reading, rather than having all the sizes included on just one or two charts. I happened to print out all the pages of this pattern before I saw this, so I took out the four pages of charts that I will not need to make my size. That way there will be less chance of confusion as I start the charts. We need to start with the left front, so here is the left front chart of for the Large size: (Note that you can view charts for all sizes by clicking on the pattern link.)

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Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along — Ribbing and Knitting the Back

May 9th, 2013

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Note: This is the third installment of our Spring 2013 Knit-Along. To view previous posts, click here.

This week the weather where I live seems to be right on cue for our Spring Knit Along with sunny, warm days all this last week. Working with Cotton-Ease for this project has been perfect for these days where my windows are open and I can already be found knitting on my porch. This week I finished the back of the Tranquil Tank Top.

FinishedBack

The back is the simpler half of this top with only ribbing and stockinette stitch (and a little shaping thrown in.) The lace will appear after we finish the bottom of the front. As I was knitting the back, I remembered a few things that will make sure this top will fit and look great. All of the sizes of this pattern call for the bottom ribbing to measure 9” before starting the stockinette stitch pattern for the upper part of the back.

When I thought I had knit the full 9” of ribbing, I remembered that measuring ribbing can be a little tricky as ribbing should be measured slightly stretched before I measure. What I thought was 9” was actually not even 8 ½” when I measured it slightly stretched. Working a longer piece of ribbing can create this effect, so it is always good to just slightly stretch your ribbing before measuring the length. Take a look at this picture below – I have just stretched the ribbing a little and it measures 9”.

 

Ribbing

My last row of my ribbing was a wrong side (WS) row, which started with 2 purls and ended with 2 purls. I want to make sure that the ribbings to both my back and my front will have 2 knits on each side of the right side (RS). (You can see this is in the first picture above.) Making sure the ribbings of the front and back are worked the same will make it much easier to sew up the sides for a very nice finish. The stockinette stitch started with a knit row on the RS, where there are 2 knit stitches on each edge of the ribbing. I will keep this in mind when I start the lace part of the front.

After binding off for the armholes, there are some decreases that I can see will be very important for the lace patterns on the front. The back is a good place to try these decreases – especially if you have never done an “ssk” before.

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Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along – Gauge Swatching

May 2nd, 2013

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KAL badgeWelcome to our 2013 Spring Knit-Along! I am very happy to host this event and hope that many of you will join in and knit along with me. The Tranquil Tank Top is a winner of a project for many reasons! It is a great piece to add to a wardrobe and just as great a project to teach some new knitting techniques. This top is perfect for all-season wear. For spring, it would be great over a cooler-weather top or a sleeveless dress for a little added warmth. For summer, it will be perfect over a camisole top and even for fall and beyond, a perfect layer piece over another longer sleeved top.

Pix 1 -Blue Tank Top

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A Good Read: Identifying Your Stitches

April 16th, 2013

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Designer and teacher Heather Lodinsky joins us to share tips on reading your knitting.

For the last two decades, I have been a freelance designer writing patterns for knitters and crocheters.   For just as long, I have taught knitting at my local yarn shop three times a week here in Buffalo, New York.  These two jobs of mine have always complemented each other.   Knitters (and want-to-be knitters) walk in for instruction and help with their projects.  I always want the knitters that come to my class to be happy with their knitting and not feel the urge to throw their projects in the back of a closet to become a so-called “UFO” (Unfinished Object).   From the very start, I like to get students familiar with “reading” their knitting, so that they can identify what stitches they are working, understand what they have already done and know where they are going with their knitting.   Think of this “reading” or identifying your stitches as your own knitting “GPS”…or compass for those of us “pre-techies”.

Probably the most amazing revelation for me as a knitter was when I realized (after many years of knitting) that the knit stitch and the purl stitch are the exact same stitch—but they are done on the opposite sides of the fabric.    We are taught as knitters that if you knit every row you will get that wonderful, reversible ridge fabric named “garter” stitch—shown below.

Knit Garter | A Good Read: Identifying Your Stitches | Lion Brand Notebook

So, what happens when we purl every row?  Garter Stitch again!

Purl Garter | A Good Read: Identifying Your Stitches | Lion Brand Notebook

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Unlock the Secrets of Crochet Cables

March 12th, 2013

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Crochet Celtic Afghan

Knitting teacher and author Heather Lodinsky joins us for another article on the wonderful world of cables. Click here to read her previous blog post on knitting cables.

Creating cables with yarn may conjure thoughts of knitting—but did you know that this magic twisting of stitches can be worked in crochet?  Last month, we explored how cables in knitting are created by the use of a cable needle to change the order of stitches and to shape the resulting left or right twist of the cable.   The first time I saw a crochet cable pattern, I thought there must be a complicated technique  to “twist” stitches that were already worked.  In knitting, cables are made rearranging the order of “live” stitches (ones that are not bound off, or finished).  So, with the exception of the one loop on your crochet hook, how do you create a cable with stitches that are already finished?  The answer lies in how you work each stitch and in which order they will be worked in a given row.

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Doing the Twist: Basics of Cable Knitting

January 18th, 2013

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Author, knitting teacher, and erstwhile crochet-along/knit-along host Heather Lodinsky joins us for an article on cables.

This season, style sections of newspapers and magazines are once again telling us that cables are a hot trend in fashion, showing up in all sorts of knitwear for women, men and children.   In knitting, there are those trends that appear again and again, such as lace, fair-isle knitting and cables.   It is safe to say that if you have never tried to knit a cable before…now is a great time to learn!

Cables in knitting look much more difficult than they really are.  I remember as a girl, looking at a cardigan my mother had knit with cables.   I was positive that she must have cut her knitting, and then twisted it to form the “ropes” in her knitting.   Well, I had half of the technique right, as cables are made by twisting  or moving your stitches as you knit, but no cutting of those stitches is necessary.

Choosing the Right Tools for Cable Knitting

In addition to the knitting needles you need to knit your project, you will also want to find the right cable needle for your project.   Cable needles come in various shapes and sizes, but the one thing that they all have in common is that they have two points like a double-pointed needle.   Some knitters do use a double-point needles as a cable needle, but there is a very good reason why cable needles are shaped the way they are.   Some cable needles are shaped as hooks, or simply have a bend in the middle of the needle.   But both work the same with the stitches being “moved” held on the bent part of the needle.

Cable Needle

Frequently cable needles come in a package with 2 or 3 sizes.   It is best to use a cable needle close to the size of the needle you are using to knit your project.   If a needle is too thin, the stitches may slide off as you are working your cable.  Alternately, if the cable needle is too thick, then your stitches will be stretched as you try to slip them on.  Choosing the right size cable needle will make your cable knitting a fun and rewarding  experience.

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Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 6: The “Finishing” Line

March 3rd, 2011

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In the 15 years I have taught knitting, probably the #1 fear (and reason students come for help) is what this week is all about: finishing.  In fact, it is the most unloved part of a project for many knitters and a reason there are many UFOs (unfinished objects) in closets.  I actually love to get to this part (although I didn’t years ago) because it is the part that makes the garment look so great when the time is taken to do it right.

After I finished the back, fronts, sleeves and hood last week, all I needed to do was the ribbing that goes around the fronts and hood, the pockets and button loops.  I am working the second size of the Saturday Morning Hoodie, and the pattern calls for me to pick up 200 stitches for the front band that starts at the lower right front, goes up all the way around the hood and back down the left side.  So, how do I evenly pick up 200 stitches? I’m going to do this the same way I picked up for the hood last week.  I placed a marker at the middle of the hood and at each lower edge of the fronts.  Now, I need 100 stitches on each side, so I folded each front and marked that spot with a detachable marker.  Each of these quarters were folded and marked and once more to create 8 sections on each front and back. (As always, you can click on the photos to enlarge them.)

So, the way I figured it, I will need to pick up alternately 13 stitches and 12 stitches all the way around.  Working from marker to marker makes picking up stitches a lot less daunting!  Starting at the bottom edge of the right front (with the right side facing), I picked up my stitches and ended up with the 200 required.

The pattern calls for a 29″ circular needle to work all of these stitches, and there are a lot of stitches on the needles.  One thing I do to make sure I work these stitches back and forth (rather than connecting them in the round) is to place a marker on my needle that will remind me to turn my work around when I get to end of the row and go back.

It would be so easy for me to make this mistake and especially as I wanted to do this ribbing while watching the Academy Awards.  After many “thank you” speeches at the Oscars, I finished all 3″ of the ribbing!  I also made sure to bind-off in ribbing, for a nice, flat, edge and not to bind off tightly.  (Binding off in ribbing is the same as normal binding-off, but knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches while working your bind-off.)

What makes this “hoodie” so different is the amount of ribbing that actually becomes a part of the sweater.  Half of the fronts of the pockets are ribbing, and since I needed to pick up 26 stitches for each pocket ribbing, I just divided each edge into 2 parts and picked up 13 stitches.

The 3″ of ribbing for the pockets and the front bands really adds so much to this hoodie!

After the pocket bands were finished, I neatly sewed the top and bottoms of the band to the fronts.

Many times, I use yarn ends for finishing and I found some of the ends left on the pockets in perfect places to sew them down.   After the fronts of the pockets looked good, I turned the hoodie to the inside and lightly sewed the pocket backs the front, making sure that my sewing would not show through to the other side.  (I do this many times by only going into half the yarn, and just be careful while working it.)

All that is left now is the button loops!  The instructions in the pattern have the buttons on the right front which is for a man’s garment, but nobody has been admiring this hoodie more than yours truly.  Having tried it on, I think I will be wearing this often – so I am going to have the buttons on the left front and the button loops on the right front.  I marked the placement for my buttons and button bands with markers (again!).

The button loops are made as a crochet chain that is folded in half and sewn on top of a rib (it almost looks like a rib itself).  I found that the 43 chains called for in the pattern for some reason made too long a chain, so I made each chain 8″ long leaving ends to sew them in place at the beginning and the end of the chain.  The loop is supposed to extend 1″ past the edge.  So, I just used each end and sewed it with a running stitch on top of the marked ribs.

I really love these button loops!  I found some “toggle” buttons perfect for this hoodie and then showed it to my knitting students.  And (drum roll…) here it is:

I will definitely be wearing this tonight as single-digit temperatures are coming again.  It has been wonderful hosting this Knit-Along and seeing all of your hoodies “grow.”  Thank you all for being a part of our winter KAL! Be sure to share your photos with us in our Ravelry group, our Flickr group, or on the LionBrand.com Customer Gallery!

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