Coffee Tea or Knits

*My previous posts from blogsite “Coffee Tea or Knits”

REFORMATTED COFFEE TEA OR KNITS ENTRIES FROM FEBRUARY 2015 TO OCTOBER 2015


February 2015: To Knit or to Knot

The answer, believe it or not (no pun intended!), is to knot. Knitting as we know it today is a process using two or more needles to manipulate yarn into a series of interconnecting loops (1). The word “knit” as a verb didn’t appear in the Oxford Unabridged English dictionary till c1000’s. The word “knit” originates from a Dutch verb “knutten” similar to the Old English word “cnyttan” which means to knot (1). Bits and form of fragments as old as several thousand years found in different parts of the world were at first thought to be truly knitted items. It was later discovered that these pieces used a form of needle art called nalbinding. You don’t need a continuous length of yarn in nalbinding and it was probably used before continuous spinning by wheel or knitting was invented. Other names for nalbinding include “knotless netting” and “needle-binding” explains why the word “knit” was derived from the word “knot” (1). Nalbinding is still popular as a needle art form in some Scandinavian countries. Early surviving pieces of truly knitted items were 12th century cotton socks found in Egypt. These socks were all worked on frames, either circular or narrow oblong ones (2). Hand knitting and the purl stitch came years later. Knitting patterns were published in craft books for women in the Victorian era and hand knitting knitting became a popular needle art form.

I can go on and on about the history of knitting but there are several books and online resources that cover this topic in much detail which you can read if interested.  As for me, whether to knit or to knot is purely academic. I’m just thankful to all those before us who invented the needle art of knitting and have provided us a craft with which we can create and enjoy a variety of knitted items.

Notes:
1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_knitting
2. Nargi, Lela. Knitting Around the World: A Multistranded History of a Time-Honored Tradition, Voyageur Press 2011.

Spiral Scarf:

With all the snow and the freezing temperatures we’ve been getting this winter, this scarf will provide some warmth. The pattern is “Learn to Knit a Spiral Scarf” from Staci Perry, http://www.verypink.com. There’s also a video tutorial that goes with this pattern. In this knitting project I learnt how to knit short rows using wrap and turns.

Yarn used:  Patons Classic Wool Worsted, color: Palais.


March 2015: Why do we knit?

We knit because of all the benefits that knitting offers us. These benefits can be divided into two main categories – professional or nonprofessional.

Some nonprofessional benefits of knitting include:

A. Recreational / Social

  • Hobby – Knitting is a great hobby because it’s a versatile craft. It can be undemanding and continuous with simple stitch patterns or challenging and focused with more complex stitch patterns. I find it challenging and enjoyable to create a variety of knitted items using different types of fibers and colors.
  • Emotional – The repetitive (rhythmic) movements of knitting has a relaxing quality that reduces stress and improves mood. It also reduces boredom and encourages social interaction with other knitters and the community (local or online). People usually stop and ask you what you’re knitting when they see you knit in public. Ravelry is a great online knit and crochet community where patterns and ideas are shared globally.

B. Health / Well-Being

  • Spiritual – The continuous and rhythmic motion of knitting has a meditative quality that calms us and puts us in a contemplative or trance-like state. At times when I’m knitting I do tend to ponder over blog topics, what to write, my next knitting project and other issues that come up although I have not experienced this trance – like state.
  • Physical and mental health – Knitting has been known to alleviate depression and anxiety. The article, “The Truth About Knitting and Crochet….They are Good for You!” discusses how knitting is beneficial to those suffering from multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, eating disorders, and dementia. Knitting also helps with focus and cognitive skills.

Why do I knit? Initially, I started knitting to reduce stress and for health reasons. Knitting was helpful and I enjoyed knitting blankets or scarves for others and for personal use. Lately, I’ve become more interested in learning and creating a variety of seamless knits with complex stitch patterns.  I also want to use different types of yarn fibers in my knitting projects. I started this blog to share my reflections as I learn new stitch patterns and various knitting techniques.

Cable Hat

In this knitting project I learnt the cable stitch. I had avoided learning the cable stitch because it seemed too complicated. It’s not complicated but the stitches on the cable needle kept slipping off. Using another cable needle may help with this. Also the knitting is not as continuous since you have to go back and forth between the cable needle and the circular knitting needle. I do like how the cable stitch pattern looks and will try this again in other knitting projects. I got this pattern “Bernat Satin Cable Hat” from the Yarnspirations website. I modified this pattern by knitting the hat in the round and changing the purl rows to knit rows.

In the first hat, I changed some of the steps in the cable stitch pattern for this hat. Yarn used – Lion Brand’s Heartland in Yosemite.
Yarn used in the second hat is Caron’s Simply Soft in Plum Wine.


April 2015: Professional Knitting Niches 

There are many professional knitters who have their own niches. They are either involved in the craft of knitting or involved in different aspects of yarn and fiber.

  • Craft of knitting – The professional knitter can use his or her knowledge and expertise in the craft of knitting to design, write or teach. Knitwear pattern designers design unique knitwear for sale. You can find many well-known knitwear designers on Ravelry. Pattern writers write knitwear design patterns for sale so we can learn the different techniques and stitch patterns to recreate and customize our own knitwear. Custom knitters charge to knit  for individuals or yarn companies. Knitting instructors teach beginning to advance knitting skill techniques both online or at local yarn shops. There’s a plethora of knitting tutorials available online on YouTube and Craftsy that teach different knitting techniques and stitch patterns. Some professional knitters sell their knits online on Ebay or Etsy, while others are pattern testers, knitting machine repairer, or technical knitting editors for designers.
  • Yarn and fiber –  Since knitting is not just about unique techniques or stitch patterns but also about yarn and fiber, some professional knitters become involved in different aspects of yarn and fiber production and sales. These include the local and specialty yarn shops that sell yarn, knitting needles and accessories, and also offer knitting classes. Many professional knitters are also involved in yarn and fiber farming, spinning and dyeing.

I knit for nonprofessional reasons but it’s interesting to know that the opportunities available to professional knitters are as versatile as the craft of knitting. I’m thankful to the knitwear patterns designers, writers, and teachers who provide us with unique techniques and stitch patterns with which we can create a variety of knitted items. I would like to mention that both nonprofessional and professional knitters can be charity knitters too. Knitting for Charity website provides links to various statewide and global charity knitting organizations.

Garterlac (Entrelac) Dishcloth

In this knitting project I learnt how to garterlac (entrelac with garter stitch instead of stockinette). The basic steps for Entrelac (or garterlac) are the base triangles, a repetition of tier 1 (2 side triangles and right slanting diamonds) and tier 2 (left slanting diamonds), and bind off triangles. Since entrelac creates a woven and raised knit, I used garterlac for a flat and straight dishcloth. This technique involves picking up stitches and turns. At first it was confusing but once I used a stitch marker I was able to keep track of the turns and the rows.  I think entrelac is better suited for scarves, shawls and other small decorative projects. There would be just too many turns (unless you can “mirror knit” which I can’t yet) for each triangle and diamond for large knitting projects such as blankets or sweaters.  In “mirror knitting” you don’t turn but use both hands to knit rows left to right and then right to left.

I got the pattern from Garterlac Dishcloth by Dave at Criminy Jickets and Knitting Stitch Patterns Garter Entrelac step-by-step tutorial to knit the dishcloths. I modified both patterns by using all knit and no purl rows, and different number of cast on stitches. For the first dishcloth (Image 1a and 1b) I cast on 18 stitches and followed the pattern using all knit rows. The cast on edge for the first dishcloth (Image 1a) is different from the bind off triangles edge.  So I knitted a second dishcloth (Image 2a and 2b) using Tinker Tots one stitch cast on and increasing base triangle method. I prefer the one stitch cast on method since the cast on and bind off triangle edges look similar (Image 2a).
Yarn: 100% cotton mill end yarn from local arts and crafts shop

Image 1a

Image 1b

Image 2a

Image 2b 


May 2015: To Read or to Knit?

There are hundreds of knitting books available to us today. There are many writers that knit and just as many knitters that write.  With a quick search on the Internet one can find a list of several knitting fiction and nonfiction books. Topics covered in these books are as versatile as the craft of knitting. For example, knitting fiction books are mostly romances, mysteries or children’s book. In these books, social and therapeutic benefits of nonprofessional knitting as well as benefits of professional knitting are combined with a heartwarming story or a suspense plot. Review of some knitting fiction books are available on Amazon and on the Knitting Scholar site.
Knitting nonfiction books are about yarn and fiber, spinning and dyeing, yarn farming, how to books that describes new and different techniques such as seamless sweater construction, entrelac etc., patterns books written by knitwear designers, inspirational books written mostly by writers that knit, or books on the history of knitting etc. Review of many nonfiction books can be found onKnitter’s Review

Lace Bookmarks 

Even with E-readers and tablets available today, I still prefer reading paper books. They can be recycled and don’t have to be charged! Bookmarks are great as gifts or for personal use. Lace knitting make garments look beautiful and can be a simple one row pattern or a complex twenty or more rows pattern. Lace patterns involve yarn overs (yo), knit two together (k2tog), slip, slip, knit (ssk), and pass the slipped stitch over (psso). I used the Gull Wings Lace Bookmark Knitting Pattern designed by Barbara Breiter for the first bookmark (turquoise). The second bookmark (orange) is a modified version of A Little Lace Bookmark pattern by Tina Sanders (find it on Ravelry, pattern out of print) with an I-cord. The techniques used in lace patterns are not hard but depending on how complex the lace pattern is it’s easy to make mistakes such as forgetting to yarn over etc. To avoid making mistakes don’t watch TV, have a row counter, include lifelines and simultaneously read and knit the pattern. The yarn used is Lion Brand’s Bonbons Yarn: Beach (in orange and turquoise).

I’m an avid reader and a knitter. I would like to read many knitting books. I’ve read inspirational knitting stories, how to and pattern books. However, unlike watching TV and knitting, I can’t read (or write this blog) and knit at the same time. The only time I read then knit repetitiously, is when I’m following a pattern row by row.  So when I read I cannot knit, yet I need to read knitting books so I can gain knowledge and learn new knitting techniques and skills. So do I knit or read? I want to do both of course so I can create and enjoy a variety of knitted items.
Tell me my fellow knitters, is there a way to do both?


June 2015: With or Without Needles Knitting 

With a craft as versatile as knitting, it’s no wonder that there are several different knitting methods and styles. You can knit with needles or without needles.

  • With needles:
    Hand knitting with needles (2 needles, double pointed needles or circular needles) is the most common method of knitting for knitwear pattern designers and social knitters. With hand knitting many different stitch patterns and knitting techniques are created. It’s also portable and takes up little space. There are several different styles of hand knitting. There is Western knitting which includes the English style (throwing or flicking) and the Continental style (known as picking), and Eastern knitting where the leading leg of the stitches is in the back. Other styles include a combination of these different knitting styles and the Portuguese style where the working yarn is wrapped around the neck or through a pin on the knitter’s bodice.[1]
  • Without needles: 
    Knitting without needles involves loom or finger knitting where yarn is wrapped twice around pegs or fingers and the bottom strand is passed over the top strand. Although loom knitting can be faster than hand knitting, you need a loom (or looms) that can be more expensive than knitting needles and take up more space. Arm knitting mimics hand knitting where you use your arms in place of needles. Both finger and arm knitting although convenient and inexpensive are limited in the variety of items that can be knitted. Machine knitting is faster than all the other methods of knitting. It requires a machine that is more expensive than knitting needles and another learning curve to use the machine. Also the machine has to be set up on a table so you certainly can’t put your knitting in a bag or sit on your sofa and knit while watching TV. [2]Currently, I hand knit and my time is spent learning new hand knitting techniques and stitch patterns or reading various topics on knitting. One day I would like to try the loom and machine to knit hats and blankets, but right now I still prefer to hand knit a variety of knitted items.

[1] Read more on the different styles of hand knitting here and here.
[2] Click here and here to read more on loom and machine knitting

Seamless Raglan Cardigans 
Visit my Ravelry project pages to read more on yarn and pattern details for No Seam Cardigan and Seamless cardigan with lace panels.
Yarn used: Caron Simply Soft in Autumn Red and Red Heart Soft in Toast.
These cardigans were knit seamlessly from the top down in one piece. The sleeves were separated and stitches put on scrap yarns that were later picked up and knitted in the round. Stitches were picked up from the fronts and the neckline to knit the button band. You can try the cardigan on as you knit which is a big plus for this type of technique. Once you understand how the stitches are distributed for the front, back, and the raglan sleeves, the cardigan is not hard to knit. I knit these cardigans last year and now I want to learn different techniques to knit a variety of knitted items.

July 2015: Why do we need to know the yarn weights? 

One of the first things a new knitter, after mastering some knit stitches and techniques, becomes aware of is the different types of yarn available. Initially we follow the pattern and use the yarn recommended for our knitting projects. It’s only when we start creating our own stitch patterns or substituting different yarns for our knitting projects that we start reading the yarn labels. Along with the type of yarn, yardage, recommended needle size, laundry care instructions there is information on yarn weight/category.

So what is yarn weight and why do we need to know it?
Yarn weight refers to the thickness of yarn used in a knitting project. There are 8 different categories of yarn weights. They are 0:Lace (10 count crochet thread), 1:Super Fine (fingering yarn), 2:Fine (sport weight yarn), 3:Light (dk or double knit yarn), 4:Medium (worsted weight yarn), 5:Bulky (heavy worsted weight yarn), 6:Super Bulky (double the thickness of worsted weight yarn), and a new category 7:Jumbo. The Craft Yarn Council has a detailed standard yarn weight system chart. For a knitter learning this information is helpful when substituting yarn or to get correct gauge or tension. For more on yarn weights and yarn substitution watch the video by verypink.com.

So what can we knit with the different yarn weight categories?
Generally, lace doilies and delicate items are knit with lace yarn; socks, baby wear, and other delicate items with fingering yarns; shawls, wraps, and several accessories with sport weight yarn; light weight baby and adult garments with dk weight yarn; adult garments, scarves, hats and blankets with worsted weight yarn; chunky hats, scarves, rugs with bulky yarn; and thick throws and blankets with super bulky yarn. The new category 7 jumbo yarn weight is mostly for arm knitting and very bulky knits.

In the past few years, I’ve knitted several blankets and sweaters with worsted and bulky weight yarn and bookmarks with fingering and light weight yarns. Lately and hence this blog topic, I’ve started knitting garments with fingering and light yarn weights. I find that knitting sweaters and other items with fingering and light weight yarns takes much longer to knit (patience needed!) because you need more stitches per inch and the needle is much smaller (good lighting a plus). Knitting with lighter weight yarn is great for summer projects but I still prefer knitting with worsted weight yarn.

Picot edge Cowl

I  knit a cowl with sport weight yarn and learnt picot cast on and bind off techniques. The light weight cowl is great for cool summer evenings. The picot cast off and bind off are not hard at all and they give a decorative edge to the knitted item. Watch Judy Graham’s tutorial videos for picot cast on and picot bind off. I also used a pebble stitch pattern to knit this cowl.

 

The pattern inspiration for the picot edges was Esther Budd’s beautiful Frost Flowers Lace Cowl pattern.

Yarn used: Premier Cotton Fair Solids in Lavender.

 


August 2015: To read and to knit with knitting charts 

Knitting charts make complex knitting patterns less daunting. Knitting charts graphically illustrate written pattern instructions. With these charts we can visualize the patterns that are complex and too long to explain with written row-by-row instructions. Knitting charts are really helpful for complex lace patterns, colorwork (fair-isle, double knitting etc.), and cable patterns.(1)

Components of a chart:

  • Key or legend that explain what the symbols represent (for example symbols for k2tog, yarn over, ssk etc.) and other chart notes.
  • A chart that graphically illustrates the pattern. Charts may show all rows (or rounds) or only one side of the work.

Reading the chart (1, 2):

  • Flat knitting – Right Side (RS) rows are read Right to Left and Wrong Side (WS) rows are read Left to Right. If only the RS of the work is shown, then all WS rows not shown are probably all purl rows unless otherwise specified.
  • Circular knitting or Knitting in the Round – Charts are read from Right to Left for all rounds.

I have to tell you that I am a big fan of reading row-by-row instructions especially when knitting sweaters or blankets. To me finding a knitting project pattern with well written instructions makes the knitting experience that much better and enjoyable. It is when I started looking at some complex row-by-row lace patterns that I realized that by charting these patterns I could see where the increases and the decreases were and how the overall pattern if knitted without errors would look. Knitting charts are also needed for colorwork and cable projects. I learnt how to read knitting charts by using a chart for a double knit colorwork project.

Double Knit Coffee Cup and Teapot Potholder
     This Coffee and Tea double-knit pot holder set pattern by Elizabeth Evans seemed appropriate for this website. I just had to knit it! These pot holders were knit using a technique known as double knitting. This technique creates a double layer of fabric in stockinette knit which lays flat. Double knitting can also be used to create a mirror image pattern by using two different colors of yarn.
You have to hold two different colors of yarn together (you may spend some time untangling the two skeins of yarn) and follow the knitting chart for all rows and each stitch. This project required much focus and was not something I could watch TV and do. I did, however, have several cups of tea while knitting this project. Although frustrating at times, double knitting is a great technique to learn for a variety of knits.
Yarn Used: Patons Classic Wool Worsted in Cognac Heather and Aran.
1 – Read a more detailed written tutorial by Emily Wessel of Tin Can knits on How to read a knitting chart
2 – Watch a video tutorial by Staci Perry of Verypink.com on Reading Charts


September 2015: Yarn in the Craft of Knitting

The craft of knitting would be a series of different techniques and stitch patterns without a variety of yarn. Yarn (as in fiber not a tale or story) adds texture and uniqueness to knits making the craft of knitting even more versatile. Fibers for yarn come from natural (animals or plants) and man-made (synthetic or processed from various plants) sources. We get wool from sheep, mohair, cashmere, cashgora, and pygora fibers from goats. From camelids we get alpaca and llama fibers, angora from rabbits and silk from silkworms etc. Fibers that occur naturally in plants include cotton from cotton plants and linen from flax plants. Nylon, acrylic, polyester etc. are all synthetic fibers. Fibers processed from wood pulp include rayon, lyocell, acetate and modal. Fibers from bamboo and corn have also emerged in the recent years as demand for renewable resources has increased. (Read “The Knitter’s Book of Yarn” by Clara Parkes for more details on yarn and fiber).

There is also a plethora of yarn made from a combination of both natural and man – made fibers. For example these may be blends of wool or cotton fibers with nylon or acrylic etc. The different fibers have unique qualities that make them suitable for certain types of knitting projects. I prefer machine washable and budget friendly yarn so most of my knits are with acrylic yarn or with wool or cotton blends. But the more I learn about yarn and fiber, the more I look forward to knitting with different varieties of yarn.

Stars in the sky flax pullover

I knitted a top down raglan pullover using Flax pattern by Tin Can Knits. The pattern is detailed, includes schematic diagrams of the sweater construction, easy to follow and a great first project for a seamless top down sweater construction technique. The pattern also includes a range of child to adult sizes which is helpful when knitting sweaters to give as gifts or for charity.

 I modified the pattern by not including the garter panel on the sleeves and went up a needle size to knit the body after separating it from the sleeves. The yarn I used is Patons Classic Wool Worsted in Black Tweed. I have knitted scarves and potholders with this yarn before but this is the first sweater I’ve knit with it. The yarn knits well and being wool needs to be hand washed.


October 2015: Knit Patterns for Breast Cancer Awareness Month 


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and there are several knit patterns for hats, scarves etc. that we can knit to show our support.

Find more information on Breast Cancer:
BreastCancer.org
American Cancer Society

 

I knitted this ribbon scarf from the pattern Pink Ribbon Scarf by Jennifer L. Jones with 2 strands of yarn held together to get the same gauge as for the bulky weight yarn used in the pattern. The edges don’t have a chain-stitch edge as in the pattern. 
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice in Rose and Dusty Rose.

Other knit patterns links for breast cancer awareness support:
Breast Cancer Knitting Patterns
Hats for Breast Cancer Awareness