The Garden Windows Cardigan features a patterned yoke which should look symmetrical when buttoned. When blocking it, it doesn't hurt to button it and put a few rust-proof T-pins in to hold it in just the right position. This isn't absolutely necessary, but it's a nice finishing touch.
Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard, photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy, pub. Stewart, Tabori and Chang (STC Craft), 2014.
I love stitch dictionaries. I read them like novels. My husband often looks up after I sigh, gasp, or even giggle, wondering what I'm reading.
I lift my chin, trying not to look embarrassed, and reveal my weakness---yes, I am reading an encyclopedic list of stitch patterns. And I don't just look at the beautiful swatch photos, I read the pattern to discover what tricks are employed in the lace, the cable, the ruffle, the pleat.
But the swatch photos are indeed beautiful. Stitches stand out, lace patterns are clearly visible, texture is true. I had the good fortune to see a digital copy of a late draft of this book and witness the superior care that went into its editing---comments calling for increased detail in a photo or correction of a swatch's shadow placement were not uncommon. This is an example of the kind of attention that makes STC Craft books outshine others in their category.
What makes this dictionary special is that each stitch pattern comes with multiple sets of instructions. Directions are given for knitting flat and in the round, and patterns that are asymmetrical along the horizontal axis have directions for knitting top-down and bottom-up. Each pattern is presented with an accompanying swatch photo and, if applicable, a chart or charts. The format is extremely readable and it's easy to associate the photo with the instructions.
Although this is a stitch dictionary, we are treated to one complete design in each chapter plus an entire section of the appendix on designing from scratch.
Garments are given in a generous range of sizes, but the hat and sock patterns do not include sizes I could wear. That's okay, since I can easily substitute stitch patterns that will result in sizes to fit my big head and small feet. If I run into any trouble with this, the appendix will help.
The swatches are color coded in tonal families, delineating each chapter without making them look monotonous. The chapters are knits and purls; ribs; textured, slipped, and fancy stitches; yarnovers and eyelets; cables; lace; color work; hems and edgings; and projects.
Little things, like the charting symbols that decorate the spine and the page footers, help make this book exceptional. The coated spiral binding allows the open book to lie flat without presenting a danger to knitting fingers.
Books such as the Barbara Walker Treasuries contain hundreds more patterns but often have ancient black and white photos. Up, Down, All-Around is a wonderful supplement to these, enabling us to not only work the patterns in different directions, but (with a little imagination) to mentally enhance the dated photos.
I recommend this dictionary for folks interested in the mechanics of transformation as well as knitters looking to personalize (or improvise!) a garment or accessory.
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of this book for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are solely the blog author's.
I knit this sock from Big Foot Knits for my daughter's principal, whose jolly attitude sets the tone for the whole school. I chose to knit someone else's pattern instead of designing my own because of my current lack of spare mental energy.
That didn't turn out so well. I love the finished sock and am more than halfway done with the second one, but it might have been less work to design my own. The pattern was riddled with errata and I was confused at several steps along the way.
I do not blame the designer, because I know how difficult it is to catch your own mistakes, especially when a pattern goes through several revisions. But a good tech editor should have noticed at least half of the errors in this pattern. I have found mistakes in every pattern I have knit from a Cooperative Press book.
My husband thinks the afterthought heel feels weird, but that may be because his foot doesn't quite fill up the sock. Our principal's feet are a little larger and I think they'll fit well.
I decided to learn the Channel Island Cast On today, and I used Cap Sease's book to help me. I prefer learning from illustrations to learning from videos or still photos. I find the artist tends to pare away the distracting details, leaving only what's essential.
My attempt was successful, though not perfect. A few of the stitches look a little wonky (particularly the sixth pair from the left, above), but practice will help with that. This cast on is attractive because of the little beads that appear on the bottom of the knit stitches. It is also sturdy and stretchy.
Although Cap's instructions are usually quite clear, this one stumped me: "Wrap left thumb counterclockwise twice around double strand." I didn't know which end of the strand to start wrapping with, so I just made my yarn and hand look like the picture. I would say, "Wrap double strand around thumb clockwise twice." But I realize I'm starting at the other end. Still, it might help some to think of it my way.
Secondly, I couldn't figure out how to tighten the stitch with my thumb using her instructions. I just tugged the double strand like she suggests at the end of step 5.
Also, and this is important, Cap says to repeat steps 5 and 6, ending with step 6. What she means is to repeat steps 4 - 6, ending with step 5. For an odd number of stitches, end with a step 6 and fold the tail up if knitting flat in order to be able to knit through the yarn over.
It was fun to learn a new technique, and I look forward to many more!
I hate needle-and-thread sewing. So when I knit a project that calls for it, like a cardigan with buttons or a skirt with a zipper, I want to make sure I don't have to do it more than once. The buttons need to stay on; the zipper must stay put.
I have some tricks I use to make certain of this. I photographed them while finishing this Garden Windows cardigan.
The first step is to make sure the thread stays in the fabric. I have sewn buttons on only to have the original knot I made in the thread pull all the way through at the last minute, leaving the button only precariously attached to the garment.
To prevent this, I implement a three step trick. I use the thread doubled and make a large knot at the end. Then I sew through the button once without tugging tightly (the knot does not need to be flush against the fabric). The last step is to take the thread around the original knot, pass the needle through the new loop, and, making sure the knot stays inside the loop, pull firmly, thereby tying another knot around the original knot.
Next, I want to make sure the button is on securely. This involves running the needle through (not under) several knit stitches at each pass.
Making sure the needle pierces the yarn helps the button lie flat against the fabric. Taking the thread through several stitches ensures that it will stay put even if one stitch has a weak spot in the yarn.
After sewing the button securely (as many times as the shank or holes will comfortably allow) it's time to fasten off. First, tie multiple knots on top of each other by holding each new loop close to the knit fabric before pulling tight. Then pass the needle through several knit stitches in a circle around that knot, and make another multiple knot on top of the first one. Finally, make one more pass through the knit stitches and cut the thread.
Your button will be sewn on quite securely even if you skip a couple of these precautions, but I don't think it takes much extra time---and I prefer to take extra care the first time than have a button fall off just when I want to wear a particular item. I used this method to sew the buttons on a coat I've worn every winter for the past fifteen years (even in the last months of a pregnancy) and they're just as firm as the day I knit them!
Cast On, Bind Off by Cap Sease, photographs by Brent Kane, pub. Martingale & Company, 2012.
This useful and inspiring book, now available in paperback, is destined to become a frequent reference in my library. I usually stick with the basic long-tail cast on or a provisional cast on, but there are a couple others, like the German Twisted and Judy's Magic, that I use on special occasions. The standard bind off and Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy bind off are pretty much the only ones I have tried, not counting the occasional edging, picot, or sewn methods.
I guess when I list them all it looks like quite a variety---but it's nothing compared to the 211 ways Cap lists in her book. (There is another book by the same name which lists 54 ways. I have yet to review that book.)
Laurel Strand and Robin Strobel have done a fine job of drawing each procedure in a way that can be easily seen and understood. Brent Kane's photography shows every detail. And Cap herself outlines each step in clear prose.
I learned the cast on at left as the Italian Tubular cast on. That alias is not given in the book, but Cap gives alternate names when she knows them (which is often). Many times different procedures are known by the same name. Cap eases this problem by referring to a procedure by the name most frequently used for it (according to her research) and listing its pseudonyms afterward in italics.
The procedures are outlined in steps with two columns on each page. Sometimes more than one procedure is given on a page. When the second procedure starts at the bottom of a page it can be a little disorienting. But on the whole it doesn't bother me.
Also, each type of procedure (long-tail cast on, decorative bind off, etc.) is shown in its own yarn color, making it easier to find something that caught your eye when casually flipping through the book.
Cap includes an extremely useful table near the front of the book which gives important traits of cast ons and bind offs (such as durability and elasticity) and then lists the names (and page numbers) of procedures which have those traits. Another table associates look-alike cast ons and bind offs to create matching edges.
I can't wait to try some of the procedures in this book, which I strongly recommend for both designers and sample knitters for publication. But any knitter would benefit from the range of techniques---many of them simple---given in this volume.
Disclosure: Martingale & Company sent Kangath a free copy of Cast On, Bind Off for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Martingale & Company or Cap Sease.
A friend of mine recently complained that rice pasta does not reheat well. I learned from somewhere (probably my mother, the source of much wisdom) to add a little water to rice before microwaving.
I tried the same trick with pasta. In fact, I added more than a little! A tablespoons of water per cup of pasta is just about right. Toss the pasta in the water before and after reheating, and let it sit for a minute when it's done.
Tender (but not mushy) and delicious!
As I was knitting the Garden Windows cardigan I noticed the outer edge was starting to splay. Apparently the color changes I was doing, paired with the slipped stitches several stitches in, caused the selvedge to behave in a way that wasn't apparent on my swatch.
I wasn't worried, though---I knew how I was going to solve the problem.
After I finished knitting the cardigan, I took a crochet hook and a little of the main color yarn and crocheted up the side of the striped section only. It was not necessary to crochet up the entire band, since it's mostly normal, well-behaved garter stitch. Doesn't it look better? It was an incredibly easy fix.
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