Saturday, January 23, 2016

A pinstriped hat--basic and with variations

Pinstriped hat pattern**
click any photo to enlarge
Both sides of the basic pinstriped hat, worked in a color wheel progression.  The pinstripes are worked in Paternayan embroidery wool.

Variations on the basic hat: two color pinstripes and a brim with horizontal decoration.  The pinstripes and decoration are worked with sock yarn scraps.

(Variations, including the brimmed version, are at the end of the pattern)
Basic hat, worked in a color-wheel progression pattern...
Gauge and needles: In stockinette stitch, 5 st= 1 inch, Use whatever knitting needles you require to get this gauge. Use a crochet hook of similar diameter for applying the pin-stripes.  Here is a link to an equivalence chart. 
Finished size: just under 20" inches diameter, un-stretched.
Materials: A 3.5 ounce skein of worsted weight (the weight of yarn normally knit at 5 st/in). For the basic version, I used Galaway (Plymouth Yarns) 100% wool, color 8, white.  For the brimmed version,  Cascade 220, color 8505, white.
The pinstripes on the basic version worked using a long single strand of Paternayan embroidery wool, held double. Twelve colors are used to create the color wheel:
  • yellow green 692, 
  • yellow 761, 
  • light orange 813, 
  • dark orange 820, 
  • red 941, 
  • red violet 352, 
  • violet 300, 
  • purple 331, 
  • blue violet 340, 
  • blue 551, 
  • blue-green 686, 
  • applied in the seam, between the blue green and the yellow green, the last color is plain green 706. 
Cast on: 
Leaving a 30" tail in reserve (later to be used for seaming) cast on 97 stitches using the long tail cast on.
Bottom edging: 
Rows 1, 3, and 5 purl. Rows 2 and 4, knit. 
Row 6 and 8: purl, row 7: knit.  
Row 9: purl. 
These rows complete the double reverse-stockinette edging at hat bottom.
Body of hat:
Row 1: knit 8 sts, place marker, p1, place marker *Knit 7 sts, place maker, p1, place marker. Repeat from * 10 times, 11 sets of markers placed. (There will be 12 total pinstripes, but since one is worked up the "valley"of the seam, only 11 pinstripes are worked as-you-go.) End row by knitting 8.
Row 2: purl all stitches, except knit the stitches between the markers.
Row 3: knit all stitches, except purl the stitches between the markers. Repeat rows 2 and 3 until a total of height of the hat is 6", end by working a purl row. This height will make a rather short hat, designed to be worn with the edging "straight" (not flipped up, no brim). Optional:
Before you decide for sure on the length of your hat, take a look at the end of the pattern for possible variations on the brim. If you do decide to knit the hat longer, this is the point that you would knit more rows.
Decrease for hat top:
Decrease row 1: (knit side decrease) knit to within 3 stitches of marker, k2 tog, k1, slip marker, p1, slip marker.  Repeat across the entire row.  After slipping last maker, work to within 4 stitches of end, k2tog, k2.
Decrease row 2: purl all sts, except knit the sts between the markers. 
Decrease row 3: knit all sts, except purl the sts between the markers.
Decrease row 4: (purl side decrease) purl 2, p2 tog [see note], purl to marker, k st between markers, *purl 1, p2 tog, purl to marker, k st between markers repeat from * across row, after last p2tog, purl to end of row.

[note: there are LOTS of different kinds of p2tog's.  The kind to use in this pattern is worked as follows: insert R needle under the forward (right) arm of the next two sts on the needle and purl these sts together from this position] 

Decrease row 5: knit all sts, except purl sts between markers. 
Decrease row 6: purl all sts, except k the sts between markers.

Repeat decrease rows 1-6  once, then rows 1-2 again.  There will remain 37 sts on the needles, you will be on a k side row.

Next row: k1, *reposition next st on L needle so it lays left arm forward.  K2tog tbl, slip marker, p1, slip marker, repeat from * to end of row, k. there remain 25 sts on needle.
Next row (as you work this row, remove the markers) P2, then *k1, p1* to end of row, ending with a p2. 
last row: k1, *reposition next st on L needle so it lays left arm forward.  K2tog tbl, repeat from * until 2 sts remain at the end of the row, k2, there remain 14 sts on needle. Place these sts on a holder.

Block: Block hat.  Steam blocking works well.   If making brimmed version (see variations, below) block the brim up at the fold line. 

Pinstripe the 11 purl columns in a colorwheel pattern, using the embroidery wools listed above or your own alternatives.  The pinstripes are worked with a doubled stand of yarn.  Regarding length: each strand of pinstriping takes approximately four times the length of the purl column to which it will be applied.  When working with a doubled strand, this means 8 times the length must be allowed. Add a coupld of inches to this measure so you can run the end into the pom-pom (more about working ends in below).
Starting a pinstripe with a doubled strand Working with a doubled strand eliminates a tail at the bottom of the hat Following the diagram below, hold the bottom loop of the doubled yarn at the very bottom of the pinstripe, and draw it through as the first loop.  Consider this loop over your hook-barrel as the first loop of the pinstripe.  

Next, insert the crochet hook into the next stitch higher in the column, then grab both strands of the embroidery wool, as shown below.  


Finally, draw the two strands through the bottom loop, and off you go, pinstriping up the column. (The pin-striping method itself was described in the previous post of this series. Also, here is a link to a video about how to pinstripe.By starting the pinstripe in this manner, no tail is left flopping around at the bottom of each pinstripe, requiring you to work it in later.

When you get to the top of each pinstripe, allow the ends of the colored yarns to dangle inside the hat at the top. Do not trim them short. 

Finishing: Seam the hat shut using the reserved 30" tail from the cast on, via a slip stitch seam which leaves a "valley" in the back of the hat. (At link, scroll down slightly for instructions on using the slip stitch for seaming.) Below is a quick glimpse of what slip-stitching a seam looks like in person--

Slip stitching shut the hat seam
If you stretch a finished slip-stitched seam, you can see the cross-yarns where the slip stitches pass from one fabric to the other, as on photo below.

The slip-stitched seam pulled open, showing the "cross bars" of the slip stitches
Insert the crochet-hook into the gap above each cross-bar to work your pinstripe and the seam will look for all the world as if it were a purl column. The photo below is of the seam after the pinstripe has been worked. Other than the tell-tale where the bottom of the seam meets the hat border (which I pulled on to make it more obvious for you) the seam-pinstripe blends right in with the others--see for yourself. 

The middle pinstripe is in the seam. I tugged the bottom border into a little point to make obvious the seam location.
Let the excess of the tail remain on reserve, dangling inside the hat at the top. Using the reserved 15" long tail, graft the top of the hat shut via Kitchener stitch.

Below is what a Kitchener-stitched closed top looks like before the pom-pom is attached. (This is a variation hat, but the top is identical to the basic hat.)

Close up of Kitchener stitching (grafting) at top of hat, before pom-pom is attached
Make a pom-pom in the same color as the hat. Pom-poms can be made large (as the brimmed hat in this post) or smaller (as the basic hat in this post). (Geek note: pom-poms getting ratty through wear can be made to look new again via a "hair cut." Larger pom-poms obviously yield more opportunities for this trick.)  Attach the pom-pom on top via the two long main-color tails you reserved inside the hat, then trim these to length.  

Decorate the pom-pom AND get rid of the contrast color ends as follows:  With each set of color-ends, thread them onto a sharp needle and run each through the hat top and then into the pom-pom, then trim to match the pom-pom strand lengths. Repeat with all the other color-ends. Work in any other stray ends (such as from the grafting) in this same manner. The contrast color ends yield a very pretty effect, as you can see below.

Top view of color-wheel hat: the ends of the pinstripes have been threaded onto a needle, then run through the hat top, into the pom-pom and trimmed to length. Therefore, there is no need to work the many pinstripe-ends into the fabric
Because the pinstripes all start with a loop, and all the loose ends are run into the pom-pom, there are no ends to work in anywhere on this project.

Pinstripe colors are easy to change: a muted single color worked on a plain hat yields a tailored look: even fashion-averse guys will wear gray with a gray stripe.   Alternating colors of pinstripes look well, too, or even 2-colored pinstripes as on the brimmed hat variation shown in this post. Pinstripes easily add team colors to a hat: the red-and-white on the brimmed hat variation honors Bucky Badger, a very appropriate hat for a fall day in a stadium full of red and white.

Create more or fewer pinstripes: add or remove purled columns, evenly spaced (or not!)  It is fair game to alter the stitch count slightly, to accommodate. If you're alternating solid color pinstripes, like for a team-color hat, make sure two same-color stripes won't accidentally wind up next to one another. The hat top shaping assumes 11 evenly spaced purl columns, plus a "purl column equivalent" to be created via the seam, so if you have any other arrangement, consider stopping the pinstripes before the hat-top decreases, and eliminating the purl columns at that point, also.

Looser hat: The basic pattern makes a short, rather tightly-fitted hat. If you prefer a looser hat, either knit at a looser gauge or add more stitches.  If adding stitches, distribute them evenly in the areas between the markers as well as before the first marker and after the last marker. This is because the hat is knit flat and stitch count as given is designed to allow two stitches to be consumed in the seam. These two stitches will become as "one purl column" once the slip-stitch seam is created, and the valley of the seam is where you work the last pinstripe. In this manner, the areas before first marker and after the last marker end up being identical to the areas between the markers. Remember, also, that you must work additional decreases at the hat top to get rid of any added stitches.

Add a horizontal trim to the hat border.  Whether you knit the basic version or the brimmed version, you can add a line of Fake Latvian Braid (FLB) between the two sections of the bottom border. This was done to the brimmed hat, here is a close up of that part of the brim.

The bottom border is in two sections, the FLB peeks out between them
Longer hat: the pattern indicates where to add rows to make a longer hat.  If making the hat longer, consider how you want the bottom edge to look.  Specifically, do you want a straight edge, flipped edge or brim?

Straight edge or flipped edge: The hat is designed with a double-reverse stockinette border, as shown close-up, below left. The hat is designed on the short side, the idea being to wear it with the edging "straight" (unflipped). If you choose to make the basic hat, but work it a little longer, you could then wear this hat with the edging flipped up: the look would be as shown shown below, left.  Flipping up the brim shows the reverse of the fabric--the back of the pinstripes show a sort of a stitched appearance. Click the photo for a closer look, as shown below, right.

Left: Worn with a straight (unflipped) bottom edge, the hat features a double reverse-stockinette edging. Right: If worn with the edging flipped up, the reverse of pinstripes shows.
Brimmed variation: 
Below are instructions for working a brimmed variation on the basic hat.  This particular version of the hat also varies in the nature of the pinstripes: these are worked in two colors.

For a "real" brim, where the flipped-up brim has the "right side showing" just like body of the hat does, you cast on as for the bsic hat, then knit the brim to the height you want.  The brimmed hat shown in this post has a 3" brim, measured from the curl-over of the bottom border to the fold line. 

Once the brim is the height you desire, end on a knit row, then turn work.
fold row 1: working on the purl side of the fabric, k1, p1, * k5, p1, slip maker, k1, slip marker, p1, repeat from * to within 2 sts of end of row, k1, p1
row 2: p1, k1, *p5, k1, slip marker p1, slip marker k1, repeat from * to within 2 sts of end of row, k1, P1.
row 3: p all sts except the k sts between the markers.
row 4: k all sts except the p sts between the markers
row 5: repeat row 3
row 6: repeat row 4
row 7 (Releases the internal tension of the fabric so the hat lays smooth behind the brim): k1, p1 across the row. (Reality check: the sts between the markers remain in knit.)
row 8 k1, p1 across the row. (Reality check: the sts between the markers switch to being knit sts.)
row 9: the fabric reverses at this point--k all sts except p the sts between the markers (The reason the fabric reverses so far past the fold line is so that the "back" of the fabric never will show around your face--have a look at the third photo below.) 
row 10: p all sts, except k the sts between the markers.

Repeat rows 9 and ten until hat is the height you want, as measured from the first fold row. Return to the basic hat pattern for the shaping of the hat top. When you finish knitting, block the hat with the brim folded up, as shown below.

The brimmed variation blocked with the brim up
Also note that making the hat brimmed gives you a lot more places to hide ends at the bottom edge of the hat, so working the pinstripes with a doubled yarn isn't as important. The photo below shows lots of tails, but these will all be hidden either inside the hat or behind the brim, and will never show. 

This brimmed version of the hat has lots of ends (especially since it was worked in a two-color pinstripe) but the brim provides a place to hide them.  As with the basic version, the reserved ends at the top will be worked into the pom pom. 
As per the small print on row nine of the brimmed version, the FOLD line and the line along which the "front" of the fabric switches to the "back" are not the same line.  If they were, you would not get the smooth turn-up at the brim which you can see in the below closeup.

The spot where fabric of the brim switches direction (front becomes back), is hidden away under the turn-up of the brim.  However, the reversal takes place several rows past the fold line, to assure that the fabric "back" doesn't flash at the fold line
"Tube-ulate" the bottom edging of the hat:  If you intend to pinstripe the hat with a single strand of yarn and NO brim, it would be easiest to knit the hat bottom as some form of tube (provisional cast on followed by an I-cord bind off, or skip the provisional cast-on and simply start with a tubular cast on).  Each of these alternatives provides a tube as a hiding-place for the tail of each pinstripe.

Work the hat in the round: I wrote the pattern to be knitted flat to in order to show off how perfectly a pinstripe conceals a slipped-stitch seam. If you don't care about proving this point to yourself, then alter the pattern and knit in the round. One downside: while pinstriping the narrow top of a hat CAN be done, it is easier to pinstripe a flat fabric, because this give you more space to maneuver the crochet hook for pinstriping. 

If Kitchener stitching is not your fave, make the hat somewhat longer and then simply run a yarn through the remaining stitches at the hat top (called a "purse-string" ending).  The pom-pom will cover the hat top anyway and knitting the hat slightly longer takes care of how the purse-string "draws up" the fabric.


PS:  About the different font sizes: Try as I might, I can't get the type sizes to even out, in the main text body so...sorry about all the distracting variation.

** I've test-knit this pattern several times--the two you see here plus several earlier variations.  Buuuut--if I made an error in the pattern, well...I know what I MEANT to say, and might have glossed over it.  So, if you knit this and find an error in the pattern, I'd appreciate you letting me know right away.  In thanks, I will send you, as a gift, a link to any published TECHknitting pattern on Ravelry

Monday, January 18, 2016

Two-color Pinstriping: vertical columns of color on a knit fabric

Just as Fake Latvian Braid can be made in two colors, so its cousin Pinstriping can be worked in two colors also.

Close-ups of two-color Pinstriping
To work a two-color pinstripe, hold two different colors of yarn behind the fabric and draw first from one, and then from another.  

In the above photo, both the red (left) and the brown (center) pinstriping were worked "upside down," that is: the pinstriping was applied in the opposite direction from how the underlying fabric was knitted.  Further, in both the red and the brown pinstripe, the column was worked using the background color as the alternate color. As you can see, this combination of yarn and direction unite to create a distinct chevron.  By contrast, where the background color is not part of the column, as with the two teal-colored yarns at right, the chevron effect is much more subtle, and this is especially true where the pinstriping is applied in the same direction as the underlying fabric was knitted--as the teal yarns were. 

2-color pinstripe, back
  Regardless of which direction you are applying the pinstripe, the back of the fabric looks best if you consistently draw each color always from one side or another.  This keeps each color marching up its own side of the back of the column, as shown on photo to left. 

The tension of two-color pinstriping is perhaps a bit tricky to adjust, and although it gets easier, it is never going to be very fast.  Yet, given how much more trouble it would take to achieve this look with any other knitting technique...

Next post: A pinstriped hat with a few tricks of its own.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pinstriping: vertical columns of color, added after the knitting is finished.

lots of photos and illustrations plus a video--
Pinstriping on knitting--what is it?
click any picture to enlarge
Pinstriping is vertical Fake Latvian Braid. Like Fake Latvian Braid, pinstriping is added via a crochet hook and the slip-stitch, after the knitting is done.  Yet, although they are the same basic technique, FLB is horizontal (and stackable) while Pinstriping is vertical (and not-stackable).

Why pinstriping is great
Although pinstriping is worked on a ribbed fabric, once the pinstripe is applied, the fabric  looks like smooth stockinette interrupted by a single column in a contrasting color.  In part, this is because the front side of a slip-stitch looks for all the world like a column of knitting.

Another reason pinstriping looks knitted in is because the pinstriping nestles into into the purl column.  This leaves you with a surprisingly smooth, neat surface.  Have a look at the "horizon" of this pinstriped scarf and see for yourself.

No bumps or ridges are visible along the "horizon" of this pinstriped scarf
Pinstriping looks good on the back, too. When you flip the fabric over, the purl column with the pinstripe worked into it shows as a knit column with a "stitched" appearance down the middle. In the sample below, I think I like the back of the fabric better than the front!  If you like the look, too, the reverse side pops best when you work the pinstripe in a high-contrast color and/or a bulkier yarn than the main fabric (or both).  Even if you don't go as far as using the reverse as the "front," you can still take comfort that a pinstriped fabric looks well enough on the back to be used for reversible items like scarves, afghans and lap robes.

Sometimes, I almost think I prefer the "stitched" appearance of the back--this fabric would be excellent for an understated man's sweater, for example.
Another advantage: because it is applied what is essentially a ribbed fabric, pinstriping helps counteract stockinette curl. Yes, pinstriping allows you begin to approach the knitters' holy grail: a stockinette fabric which does not curl.  In truth, it curls somewhat, but mostly on the edge before you get to the first pinstripe.  Past that, a pinstriped fabric really does lay waaaay flatter than a comparable stockinette fabric.  Again, this is due to the fact that a pinstriped fabric isn't really stockinette, it just looks that way.  In actuality, it is a ribbed fabric, and ribbed fabrics don't curl.

Not completely flat, perhaps, but much flatter than plain stockinette

Why pinstriping is not-so-great
All is not roses. Pinstriping only looks knit-in on a relaxed, undisturbed fabric. When you stretch the knitting, the pinstriping doesn't go along, as you see from the photo below.  Specifically, the fabric behind the pinstripe stretches but the pinstripe itself stays unstretched because it's only connected to the fabric back, not the stitches alongside. I, personally, don't mind this look, but if you would, save pinstriping for knitting which doesn't get stretched: oversized sweaters, neck scarves, afghans or hats with not too much negative ease.

On this stretched fabric, the pinstripe did not go along for the ride
Another thorn in the rose is that pinstriping column after column can get kind of boring.  OK, I'm not going to lie to you, it does get boring. On the plus side: once you get it, you can do it while watching TV or on a conference call. Another plus: the look is good and pinstriping is much easier than other technqiues which give the same look, such a bobbin knitting or standed knitting with floats. Bottom line: it IS dull, but focus on the relative ease and the good result.

Geek notes
Before we get to the how-to, here are a few technical notes.

GEEK NOTE #1:  To counteract stockinette curl, the usual quoted minimum for ribbing is 3/1.  In other words, one in every four columns needs to be a purl column. To really counteract roll on a flat-knit scarf, you might want to go with an even more frequent rib like a 2/1 rib (one in every three columns is a rib). However, as you see, even so wide a rib as a 5/1 (gray scarf with gray stripe in the photos above) lays much flatter than a plain stockinette fabric would.

GEEK NOTE #2:  Ribbing can be formed AFTER THE FACT on a stockinette fabric, so if you have a curled up stockinette scarf laying abandoned in a drawer, rejoice! You can radically transform the scarf to lay flat by dropping ribs, then go further and make it a pinstriped scarf with today's trick.  

GEEK NOTE #3: Machine knitters--who can quickly whip up stockinette scarf-blanks--might find these tricks pretty neat, also. 

How to, VIDEO
Here's a little video (there are step-by step illustrations in the next section of this post)

For further information on the slip stitch, have a look at these TECHknitting posts: Basic Crocheting for Knitters--slip stitch and Neat Little Edging.

1. Start by holding a strand of yarn behind the target purl column, the pull through a loop to the front using a crochet hook

Step 1

2. Keeping the drawn loop over the barrel of the hook, insert the head of the hook into the next purl stitch up, and catch the yarn over the hook.

Step 2

3. Draw the second loop up to the surface of the fabric, then draw the second loop through the first.

Step 3

3A: Close-up of the step 3

Close-up of step 3

4: As in step 2, keeping the drawn loop over the barrel of the hook, insert the head of the hook into the next purl stitch up and again catch the yarn over the hook. By repeating steps 2 and 3, you will create a "pinstripe," which is a line of slip stitches on the fabric surface.

4. Pinstripe on fabric surface

Start off using a crochet hook of the same size as your knitting needle was. Here is an equivalence chart for hooks and needles.  If your slip-stitching distorts the fabric, move up to a larger (or even MUCH larger) hook.  Eventually, you will find the size which makes a nice even loop when working at your natural tension (and of course, practice pays off--your tenth pinstripe will be waaaay more even than your first one).

Direction of the stitch
Slip stitching yields a V-shaped stitch, pointing towards the original hook insertion point.  If you start the pinstripe at the bottom of a bottom-up knit--as with the blue pinstripe on the below photo--the column of pinstriped slip-stitch fits the surrounding knit columns exactly, looking as if it were worked in place with the original fabric.  If you work the pinstriping opposite to how the fabric was knit--as with the yellow column--you get an opposite-pointing V, a subtle effect.

Dealing with the ends
At the beginning and end of every pinstripe, there's an end to work in. There are several different ways of managing this.

First, you can start and end with a tubular cast-on or tubular cast-off.  The hollow running inside the tube is the perfect place to hide the tails at the end of each pinstripe--simply run 3 or so inches of the tail into the tube--best to use a crochet hook or dull-pointed yarn needle. Tension the yarn slightly, snip close to the surface of the fabric, then stretch the fabric once and the tail will retract, never to be seen again.

Similarly, you can work this exact same tail-hiding trick using an I-cord bind-off and hide the ends in the little tube of the I-cord, as was done on this pinstriped scarf.

The colorful ends are hidden in the applied I-cord edging at the top and bottom of this scarf

Another trick with pinstripes close together is to work up one column and down the next, which leaves only a short horizontal carry on the fabric back. This actually helps counteract the tendency of knitted fabrics to flare along their top and bottom edges.  However, the slack must be adjusted judiciously, you don't want a stiff unyielding edge, either.

Yet another trick is to leave a length of yarn showing at each end of each pinstriped column, thus creating a fringe.  This would be excellent for a scarf, afghan or lap robe. (And here is a bonus link to a post showing how to keep your fringes in good order.)

A final trick will be shown in the very next post, which gives the pattern for a colorful hat, and features yet another method of dealing with ends--in fact, the hat pattern to come completely eliminates ends--stay tuned...

Until next time--Good knitting!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Picking up stitches part 2: picking up along a bound-off edge

Garment finishing often requires the knitter to pick up stitches--to form a new row of live loops at the edge of a fabric where no live loops exist. TECHknitting blog has already dealt with picking up stitches along a selvedge, which is the "vertical" type pick up typical of cardigan bands.  This type of pick up is shown in green on the below schematic.

Today's post deals with a different kind of pick up: horizontal pick-ups (the brown areas on the below schematic).  A future post will deal with picking up stitches along a combo edge (light green).

The different types of picking up--today's post deals with the kind of pick-up marked "horizontal" on the above schematic of a cardigan sweater

There are actually TWO different kinds of horizontal pick ups: picking up live stitches from a provisional cast on, and picking up new stitches through a bound-off (or cast on!) edge. Today's post is only about the second kind: picking up through a bound-off edge.  This is because TECHknitting blog has already covered the first kind, links below.
As you can see, the bottom bands and cuffs (brown) were picked up on a horizontal edge.  In other words, the brown back-of-the-neck, as well as the bottom bands and cuffs were picked up and knit in the SAME direction as the knitting to which they are attached (arrows go the same direction on schematic).

Horizontal pick-ups are simple: the rate of pick up is 1:1, meaning one stitch is picked up through the top of each stitch-column in the main fabric.  Below is a diagram of how these are done using the "added yarn" method (very similar to the added-yarn method for selvedge pickups). As you see, the loops are picked up from the back to the front so that the live stitches appear on the OUTSIDE of the garment.  This hides the bind-off itself on the garment-inside, where no one can ever see it again.

The purple yarn is being picked up through the bound-off edge (brown) of the main fabric (yellow) using a crochet hook to draw loops through the top of each stitch column.  The loops are then parked on a knitting needle.
Here is a close-up photo of what such a pick-up looks like "in the wool" with the stitches parked on the knitting needle.

Reality check: how the picked-up stitches actually look "in the wool"

On the picked up stitches shown above, I knit a dozen or so rows to represent a collar, let's say, working one half in ribbing and one half plain (photo below) so you could see how the fabric would look either way.

The stitches picked up in the first photo were worked for a dozen or so rows, as a sample to show what a picked-up fabric--a collar, perhaps-- would look like worked in ribbing (right) or plain (left)

In the above photo, the "ditch" of the pickup (located along the row where the purl columns start)  shows as a disturbance in the smooth fabric, but the stitch pattern remains undisturbed through the pick-up row, because the bind-off itself is hidden on the back of the fabric scrap shown here.  In other words, the bind-off is inside the garment.

Where and why would a knitter want to pick up stitches through a bound-off edge?

Picking up through a bound-off edge is probably most common at the back of the neck of a garment. The reason to bind off and then pick up again is to hold the back of the neck from stretching--here is a link to an entire post about this.

Another common location this might happen is when your pattern calls you to bind off stitches at an underarm, followed by a requirement to pick the stitches up through the bound-off edge.

Yet another example of picking up through a bound-off edge can be seen in a scrap-yarn project featured in an earlier TECHknitting post, where the bind-off itself is a decorative horizontal element. This is called "Fake Latvian Braid, bind-off version." In this trick, the pick up is done from the outside to the inside, thus forcing the bind-off to the surface of the knitting where it becomes a decorative element. Using a decorative bind off like this is a particularly great trick to protect the already-knit part of a scrap project from unraveling, while at the same time freeing your knitting needles from a  project which might be knit in spurts, years apart, whenever more scrap yarn becomes available.  Using a bind-off as a decorative element also lets you use scrap yarn of different weights, colors, etc. because the horizontal element provided by the bind-off hides what would otherwise be discontinuities in the fabric.

As to picking up bottom bands and cuffs through a bound-off (or cast-on) edge: in truth, this isn't an ordinary manner of picking up such stitches in knitting. What's actually unusual is not the idea of picking up stitches to add the bands and cuffs afterwards.  In fact, adding cuffs and bands afterwards is an excellent idea because it allows you to custom-fit the garment with you in it.  However, such afterwards-added bands are usually worked "going the other way" on a provisional cast on. Bottom line: it's not the idea of picking up stitches for bands and cuffs which is unusual, it's picking up for these through a bound-off edge which is out-of-the-ordinary.

However, if we're talking children's clothes, it might make perfect sense to pick up the bottom bands and the cuffs in this unusual manner, working through a bound-off (or cast-on) edge.

Kids grow lengthwise a lot quicker than they grow in diameter. Further, the edges of a kid-sweater could use refreshing after a year of so of constant wear. By nipping the bottom bands and cuffs off and knitting brand-new, longer ones, you can keep a kid-sweater going for more years than you can imagine. Band/cuff lengthening  COULD be done on live stitches/provisional cast-on as you would do for an adult sweater, but it's actually easier to rip off the cuffs/bands and knit all-new ones if you don't have to worry about catching live loops.  So, if you'd originally picked up the cuff/band stitches through a bound-off edge, when the time comes for refreshing and lengthening, you'd simply rip merrily away until the cuff/band is all gone, then pick up all-new stitches through that same edge and re-knit.

An overlapping reason is that kids are hard on sweaters.  In fact, kids often wear sweaters  right out--little me sure did (and little-inner-me still grieves all these years later for that one worn-out, rust-colored sweater my mom knit!)   When cuffs and bands are picked up through a bound-off edge, a worn cuff/band can't unravel very far and all damage is constrained.  Instead of having to grieve for a worn-out sweater with runs all over it, your kids will think you are a magician as you simply frog that one worn-through cuff and knit a replacement, 1-2-3.

A final situation is which to use picking up through a bound-off edge arises in the special case of grafting ribbing head-to-head. Generally, such grafting would result in a 1/2 stitch offset causing disruption of the pattern.  However, if you bind off one fabric and then Kitchener-stitch (graft) the live stitches to the bound-off stitches, you can avoid this problem.  Here is a post with more info.

Until next time, good knitting!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I cord bind-off, I-cord selvedge border

Today's post is about knitted-in-place I-cord bind-offs AND edgings. Along the way, I'll show you a little trick for two-color I-cord.  (Today's post is not about attaching I-cord which was knit ahead of time--that is called "applied I-cord" and is a trick for another day.)  

Below: this little trivet has a two-color I-cord bind-off across the short end, which segues around the corner right into an I-cord border along the long edges (selvedges).

The pattern for the little trivet is at the bottom of this post--a stocking-stuffer, perhaps?

We'll start with the bind-off  (short edges), and get to the edging (long edges) in the second half of this post.

There are many tutorials for I-cord bind-off out there, but I do it a little different, so bear with me.

Here are the pithy directions.  If these make sense to you, no need to crawl through the rest of the post:
At top of work, with right side facing, CO 2 st via backwards loop technique. For same color I-cord, use running yarn from the top st of the fabric, for CC I-cord, use the tail end of a CC skein. K3. * Slip these 3 sts back onto L needle maintaining orientation.  K2, K2 tog tbl.    Repeat from * until all fabric sts are bound off, BO I-cord. 
This differs from the usual instructions by substituting "k2tog tbl" for "sl1, k1, psso."  IMHO, this substitution makes a neater, more tailored cord.
For more detail, read on...

--Step 1: At the top of the work with right side facing, use the running yarn to cast on two backwards loops onto the left needle. These are shown in lighter orange.

--Step 2: Knit three stitches: these would be the two you cast on followed by the first of the fabric stitches--which has been colored brown in the below illustration. After knitting, slip these off your right needle, returning them onto your left needle without twisting or reorienting the stitches in any way. What you have should look like this--

After slipping, the running yarn protrudes from the fabric three stitches in from the edge.  This is not a mistake. Rather, this is how I-cord is made: the running yarn becomes a traveling strand drawn across from the outermost (first) to the innermost (last) of the three I-cord stitches.  Because the traveling strand will take the shortest path, it pulls the first and last stitch together, making the (if you stop and think about, magical) result of a round cord knitted flat. The traveling strand has been shown long, flat (and colored green) in the below illustration, but in reality, the whole 3-stitch assembly is round and the traveling strand becomes invisible.

--Step 3: Draw the traveling strand to the edge of the work, then knit two stitches in a normal manner.  **Working through the back loops** knit the third stitch (brown) together with its neighbor to the left (darker brown) as shown below.  In so doing, the lighter brown stitch becomes the edge of the I-cord and the darker brown fabric stitch has been bound off into the I-cord.

Below: Inserting the right needle into the back loops of the two brown stitches.  Note the running yarn has been colored blue to identify the part of the running yarn which turns into the stitch holding together the two brown stitches.

After knitting the two brown stitches together with the blue yarn, you will wind up with a total of three stitches on your right needle--the blue, which is the last (edge) stitch of the I-cord, as well as the two orange stitches which make up the other two-thirds of the I-cord stitches.  The traveling strands which connect the I-cord's first and last stitches have been colored green, and shown long and flat, but in real life, the cord is round and the traveling strand, invisible.

--Step 4: Slipping these three stitches off your right needle, return them to the left needle. The running yarn will again protrude from the fabric 3 stitches in from the edge.

You can also see that knitting through the back loops not only twists the stitches but also puts the first I-cord stitch (lighter brown) over the top of the fabric stitch (darker brown) thus hiding it.

Here is a reality check: this is what a same-color I-cord in progress looks like "in the wool" at the end of step 4, with the stitches returned to the L needle.

--Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you get to the end of the live stitches.

If working flat, when you run out of live fabric stitches to bind off, bind off the I-cord.  Finish by running the tails at both ends of the I-cord into the hollow core of the I-cord itself, never to be seen again.

If working circular, (ie: around a continuous edge, such as the live stitches at the top of a cowl or live stitches around the bottom of a hat) there are three ways to end the work, depending on your relationship to perfectionism:

  • --if you are a perfectionist, you can undo the two backwards loops at the I-cord cast-on, then Kitchener-stitch the beginning of the I-cord to the end where they meet.  Remember that the Kitchener stitching itself has the height of one round of I-cord, so plan to factor that in.
  • --if you are an ordinary mortal, then, at the end, knit an extra two or three rounds of I-cord loose of the edge.  Next, bind off the I-cord by threading the tail through the three live I-cord stitches.  Finally, using a crochet hook, pull the end inside the core of the I-cord where the cord first started. The result is like a snake eating its own tail.  I call this a "dive-join" because the end of the I-cord dives into its own beginning. Dive-joins create a little bump, yes, but nobody--except you--will ever notice.
  • --if you are somewhere between ordinary mortal and perfectionist,  duplicate-stitch one or two stitches over the dive-join to disguise the break in fabric pattern. Lower in this post, there is a photo of a dive-join which has been disguised in this way.

In step 1, cast on two backwards loops using the contrast color yarn. Then, using the contrast color for all the knitting, simply follow all the instructions of steps 3 and 4.   Here is a closeup photo of a contrast color bind off--orange on a white background

The red boxes show where the white blips would be if you pushed the 
stitches of the I-cord apart to see them. 

As you see, the blip of the white stitch (the one being bound off) is pretty well hidden. If the blip shows more than you want it to, sharply pull the I-cord up and the fabric down.  This seats the fabric stitches deeper inside the I-cord fabric.  You can also fluff up the edge stitches with a slim dpn to hide the blip even deeper inside the I-cord.  If you're still having an issue, knit the I-cord with a larger needle or fluffier yarn, or both, so there is more bulk with which to hide the blip.

If really want to get fancy, you can work an I-cord bind-off in two (or even more) colors, but it is something of a pain the neck:  you have to work with a cut length of yarn and you'll also need a crochet hook or a blunt-nosed yarn needle.  (OTOH, hiding the ends is easy--you simply slide them into the hollow core of the I-cord.)

I have worked this two-color trick on the live stitches of the fabric ends (a bit lower in this post, that I-cord you see on the selvedge will make a how-to appearance, and the same trick as shown here to add a color to I-cord binding off live stitches can be used to add color on selvedge stitch borders, as well).

OK, so for the color, let's say you want to insert a 4-round-long dash of green into an orange I-cord. Start off working in orange. Go as far as you want to go in that color, ending on a step 4.  Drop the orange yarn and, starting with step 3, work 4 rounds of I-cord in the green, again ending on a step 4.

--Step 5: Now it is time to again knit with the orange yarn.  But, there is a problem: you dropped that color several rounds ago, so how to get at it? If you simply draw it across the back, you'll get a long loop laying on the fabric surface--not nice.

After much fooling around experimentation I think what shows least and is easiest is to actually cut the orange yarn to about a twenty-inch length, thread it onto a blunt needle and draw that entire length THROUGH the four rounds of green you just knit.

Keep pulling the orange through through until the cut ends pops free. Now that the orange is the correct spot, use that for knitting, starting off on step 3.  Continue with orange for four rows, ending on a step 4.  Don't yank the orange through the green: that would distort the last stitch of the orange and would make the green segment stiff and short. Be mild in your tension, this is like adjusting the traveling strands in two-color knitting(And that's IS two color knitting!) 

--Step 6: Repeat step 5, except thread the green yarn through the core of the orange stitches and knit the desired number of rounds with green.

--Repeat steps 5 and 6.  As you run out of yarn, cut a new length to use.  At the end of the work, you can work in all the loose ends, they will be hidden in the core of the I-cord.

This post does not show an I-cord cast on.  This is because  if you start your knitted item with a provisional cast-on (COWYAK is an easy one), at the end of your project, you can remove the provisional cast on to get live loops. With live loops at both ends of your fabric, you can bind OFF both ends via this trick and get absolutely matchy-matchy ends. 

I cord can be attached to the  selvedge (long edge) as a flat-laying border or trim (a "purfle" as the old folks used to say, as opposed to a "ruffle" which was also a trim, but does not lay flat).

If you are simply adding the I-cord at a single selvedge, you have no worries.  However, if you wanted to go around a corner--such as we are doing here to get from binding off live stitches to edging the selvedge-there is a trick for that.  Specifically, you have to add slack at the corner to avoid cupping and curling.  If you fail to add slack, your corner will never lay flat.

To add slack, simply  knit a round or two of I-cord loose of the edge, by which I mean, knit this little stretch of I-cord as a free-standing cord, not attached to the underlying fabric.  Once you have the necessary slack, you then begin to attach the I-cord along the selvedge.  By knitting this extra row or two, the I-cord can make the bend without distorting the underlying fabric.

Three things to notice about the above photo.  First, you can see the I-cord has been knit loose of the edge in order to create the required slack for getting around the corner.  Second, note the stitches being held in waiting along the upright needle.  This is an every-other-row fabric method pick-up of stitches through the selvedge, and we'll get to that in the very next part of this post.  Finally, if you want to see what the corner actually looks like anchored down, the last two photos below both show a fastened-down corner. 

Once you have sufficient slack in your I-cord to get around the corner, your work is not done.  The problem is, there are no live loops waiting to anchor the I cord to the selvedge.  You must therefore make some appear, and you have two choices about this.  Confusingly, both choices are called "picking up stitches." May I suggest that you go to this post and read all about both methods?   I'll wait here til you're done.

Anchoring via the fabric method: Choose the every-other row method--the illustration just above shows two stitches picked up this way onto the upright needle.  Then, knit the first picked-up stitch together with the first I-cord stitch just as you did along the cast-off edge. When you get to the second row, where there is no stitch waiting to be picked up, you would knit the three I-cord stitches loose of the fabric edge, just as if it were a free-standing I-cord. On the third row, you'd again knit the I-cord onto the stitch picked up out of the fabric, and so on.

Anchoring via the added-yarn method: As shown in the photo below, with this trick, you have one loop per row, placed on a knitting-needle yarn holder.  Because you have picked up one stitch per row, there is no need to knit every second round of the I-cord loose of the edge.  Instead, simply proceed as if you were working a cast-off edge. In other words, each round of I-cord is anchored to a picked-up stitch loop, just as if it were a live loop being bound off. Here is an illustration of a contrast color I-cord being knit onto live loops along a selvedge, where the live loops were obtained via the added-yarn method.

When you get all the way around all four corners, you are facing the identical situation as mentioned above for circular knitting.  That is, the end of the I-cord has come around to meet the beginning.  You would therefore "dive join" the ends according to those same directions, again--it's just like a snake eating its own tail.   Here is a photo of a dive-joined ending--it is just at the corner, and I took two duplicate stitches where the end of the I cord dived into its beginning .  You might be able to feel it a little bump, but you pretty much can't see it--have a look for yourself. (Also, note how nice and flat that corner lays due to added slack--no cupping at all.)

Dive-joined I-cord, joined just at the corner, disguised via duplicate stitches 
Good knitting


Bonus stocking-stuffer trivet pattern (this could be made into a neck scarf by simply knitting it longer.  If you want it wider, add stitches in groups of 4) 

Materials: Scrap amounts of worsted weight yarn in three colors, knitting needles which, in your hands, give a nice fabric with this yarn, and also knitting needles three sizes smaller.  Crochet hook and/or blunt nosed yarn needle.

Directions: Using needles three sizes smaller than you usually use for worsted-weight yarn, CO 27 sts in waste yarn.  Work a row or two in stockinette, ending on a knit row.

Switch to main yarn.

Row 1: p
Row 2: k
row 3: p
Row 4: establish ribbing patt as follows: *k3, p1, repeat from * to within 3 st of end of row, k3.
Row 5: *p3, k1, repeat from * to within 3 sts of end of row, p3
Switch to larger needles.
Rows 4 and 5 make up the ribbing pattern.
Continue in ribbing pattern until you have worked a total of 29 rows from beginning of piece.  Upon completion of row 29, you should have just finished a purl row. Switch to smaller needles.
Rows 31, 32 and 33:  continue in rib pattern.
Rows 34: purl
Row 35:k
row 36:p
Turn work, remove provisional cast on from bottom and put those stitches on a dpn or stitch holder. You are now ready to add I-cord bind off as shown in the above post.

Optional: steam block piece before adding I-cord (makes it easier to handle).

Siting the color blips: Obviously, you can put these wherever you want.  I put the color blips on the bound-off ends only, not on the selvedges.  There there are 7 total ribs, and I centered the two green 4-round-long blips on third and fifth ribs respectively.  Due to a quirk of the structure of color knitting, you must change colors one I-cord round BEFORE the rib stitch itself if you want the color change centered on the rib.  This is because the first green stitch actually anchors down the last orange stitch.  Try and see for yourself.

BTW:  you get around to the bottom of the work, where the live stitches were freed from the provisional cast-on, you'll see that the rib seems to growing out the middle of two knit columns, instead of coming out of the middle of one knit column. This is because knitting is 1/2 stitch off at a provisional cast-on edge.

Why knit the first and last few rows so tightly?  Due to the structure of knitting, fabric edges want to flare. A tight first tight rows at beginning and end of the work help counteract this nasty tendency. (Good trick for the cast-on and bind-off edge of any strip of knit fabric: scarves, afghan strips, etc.)