Yesterday was the time to start blocking some of those TKGA swatches I've been knitting. I haven't finished all the swatches, but I've done over half and didn't want to leave all that pinning out to the last minute. It's been a lot of work so far, but worth it in terms of making me look closely at my knitting and figuring out better ways to do things.
I used the standard wool blocking technique: soak in some warm water with a little shampoo for 20-30 minutes, rinse in warm water, squeeze out gently, wrap in a towel, pin out on a towel placed on one of those interlocking foam boards, leave until dry. This evening I get to weave in some yarn tails. Maybe I'll do some more photos of the results once that's done.
I found myself adding sites to my bookmarks list, and then thought, how silly. It's not much more work to blog them, and then others might be interested as well. So here is a listing of a few web sites with knitting techniques of various sorts. The order is reverse alphabetical.
- Technique discussions and illustrations for more advanced knitters. Good if you want to know the pros and cons of different techniques, could be a little overwhelming. Best read with knitting pins (needles) and yarn in hand, to try things out.
- I found this one when looking for a tutorial on shaping necklines with short rows. Tutorials on changing designs, intarsia knitting, i-cord, etc.
- This is a complete book, online or available on CD.
There are over 38,000 words and 300+ custom knitted illustrations adding up to the equivalent of more than 190 letter-sized pages contained within. Lots of colour photos, which is good.
- Lots of videos on all sorts of knitting techniques, illustrated in both continental and English knitting styles.
Of course, I have multiple books as well, but sometimes one of these sites puts things in a different way that makes more sense.
My mother-in-law, Jean, and I had a deal. She'd do some sewing for me, and I'd knit her a cardigan out of yarn she had bought. She crochets, but wanted something knitted this time instead. So I got her measurements and the yarn, designed a cardigan, and finally finished it on Christmas Eve Day, a couple of months after starting.
I don't know what the yarn was but it looked like a worsted-weight, mostly wool, yarn, in a dark grey heather colour. The style is simple, a basic loose cardigan with about 10 cm ease at the bust, fitted sleeve caps, and a fairly high round neck. The overall pattern is a very simple lace repeat. The hems are folded stocking stitch folded hems on the sleeves and body. The front and neckline bands are double-knit bands as per Jen's instructions.
Lace pattern, in a 12-row repeat:
rows 1 and 3: knit
even rows: purl
row 5: *k2tog, yo, repeat from *, k1
rows 7 and 9: knit
row 11: *ssk, yo, repeat from *, k1
The ssk row produces a left bias that balances out the right bias produced by the k2tog row. When I was blocking the cardigan there was very little overall bias, and the little that was there was easily held in by the double-thickness hems and bands. The cardigan draped nicely in this stitch done on 4.5 mm needles, with the hem inner on 4 mm needles (purl row as fold line) and the bands on 3.75 mm needles (double knitting needs slightly smaller needles).
I finally finished the seed stitch swatch for TKGA Level 1. It's hard to get an even fabric with no holes. I don't know how many rows total I ripped back to redo because on holding it up to the light I could see some obvious hole. In the end, I found I had to consciously relax, and rotate the stitches on the needle after each stitch to get the right amount of yarn in the knit/purl/knit transitions. It's still not perfect, but I think it's as good as I'm going to get it. Tammy and Louisa did some quality control at our Ravelry knit meeting, which helped my sanity on getting it done. And as soon as I got home I put it in the folder, to make sure no little fingers or sharp claws get to it.
I'll take a photo when it's blocked and post it.
I signed up for TKGA's Master Knitting Level 1. So far it's been more absorbing than I expected, and I'm only doing the swatches! I'll get to the questions and report later. I've been practising cast-ons and increases trying to get them to look right before doing the final swatch. In a way it's a lot freer than knitting a real project, these little swatches don't take long but they do take concentration.
Now I'm wondering whether I'm using the right yarn. The LYS I went into to get yarn only really had Mission Falls 1824 wool in a light-coloured worsted weight superwash, and it doesn't seem to hold the stitch definition very well. And it looks horrible if I need to frog or tink it. I don't have anything light-coloured in worsted weight in my stash; it's all darker or double knitting weight. Or something other than wool, and I want to use superwash wool as it blocks up nicely.
My current plan is to knit a couple more swatches and see how they look after blocking, and if need be I'll redo in something else. And at some stage I need to take some photos and post them and see if I can get comments on how to improve them before submitting...