Knit Care

There is nothing more frustrating than looking at the care label on a garment and trying to decipher the hieroglyphic symbols. I used to let the words “hand wash only” deter me from purchasing certain yarn. Eventually common sense took a hold of me and I realized that hand-washing a garment and letting it dry flat is not difficult. If I can block a knit garment, I can hand-wash one!

When I started to look at hand-washing as blocking with a little bit of detergent, my whole outlook changed. I now really enjoy hand-washing all my knits and find the process enjoyable and even therapeutic. I think it has to do with my short and easy process. Soak knits, do a little gentle swishing, rinse, lightly squeeze excess water out, and lay flat to dry. Repeat when I accidently drop food on my sweater (this happens more than I would like to admit).

If you would like more in depth directions on how to hand-wash your woolen goodies, Martha Stewart has a great little write-up. We also have a fantastic Sweater Care Kit by Cocoknits with easy instructions on how to hand-wash your sweaters.

 

January 08, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

Knitting Experiments with Inkodye

When I was a child, I always looked forward to the summer. It meant long days, no homework, and my favorite thing of all, summer camp. While I was fortunate enough to attend a few different types of camps, I always enjoyed science camp the best. My favorite part about science camp? Definitely the experiments.

Even though I love the idea of experimentation, I find that I don’t experiment nearly enough with my knitting projects. I am trying to change this now, but knitting is usually an un-experimental process for me. I find a yarn I like, choose a pattern (or vice versa), and get started. Other than changes in gauge, yarn, and a few modifications here and there, I largely stick to projects that will give me predictable results.

A product called Inkodye has opened my eyes up to a whole new world of surface design and experimentation. Inkodye is a UV light-activated dye which allows you to print images on fabric. It is a innovative way to add color and pattern to your knitting without relying on traditional methods like stripes, stranding, and intarsia.

The Inkodye process is fairly simple and user-friendly. All you really need to get started is fabric, Inkodye, image-making materials, and sunlight. You can make images by using photographic inkjet paper, or a technique called shadow printing.

We used the shadow printing technique to create our swatches. For our experiment, we gathered plant materials around our yards and then placed them over swatches of Shibui Cima in Ivory. Covering parts of the swatch with opaque objects blocked out the sunlight, resulting in negative images kind of like a photogram.

The hard part about experiments is that there is usually a little room for improvement. While I had fun with the process, there are definitely a few variables that I would change next time. Next time I would try flattening the leaves/petals out so they left behind a more defined shape, and seeing if leaving the swatches out longer in the light would result in deeper, more saturated colors. I also can’t wait to experiment with photographic negatives.

There is so much more you can do with Inkodye—you can try mixing different colors of Inkodye together to get new colors, you can fold and dye your fabric in the Shibori manner, and you can draw on transparency film and make up a hand-drawn pattern repeat! There are all sorts of project ideas in the Inkodye gallery.

Experimenting with Inkodye has made me realize that there is so much to explore in the world of knitting and surface design. Even if you don’t use Inkodye this summer, there are multiple ways to experiment with your knitting that you might not have considered before. Try combining two different yarns together. Knit freestyle, without a pattern. Go outside of your usual color comfort zone. Combine several techniques in one project. You just might be surprised at what you come up with!

June 24, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall

How to Make a Yarn Tassel

Looking for a new technique to help spice up a finished object? Why not try making a tassel? Tassels are fun to make, and are a great way to add an extra bit of flair to a project. Our tutorial will show you how to make a removable tassel out of a Unicorn Tail, perfect for adorning the ends of the Loop Shawl. Let’s get started!

We’ll start by making the cord the tassel hangs from. The cord allows the tassels to be removable, and eliminates any extra dangly ends. Once finished, you can attach the cord to the end points of the shawl with a simple lark’s head knot.

To make the cord, measure out a length of yarn about two yards long, and fold it in half. Then you’ll want to twist the cord. There are many ways to do this, depending on the tools you have available. Essentially, you’ll want to loop the end of the yarn around something, like a doorknob or chair post. You can also twist the cord by using your lap, by rolling the yarn toward your knee on your left and away from your knee on the on the right.

Keep twisting until the yarn begins to kink up on itself. When it’s ready, you’ll want to pinch the middle so the yarn can be folded in half. It’s helpful if you have a friend to do this part. When you let the yarn go, it’s going to look like a kinked-up mess. There’s no need to panic. Gently coax and smooth the twist down the length of the cord. Once the entire length has a uniform amount of twist, set the cord aside.

Now comes the actual tassel-making part! You’ll want to create a bundle of yarn that will form the body of the tassel. To make the bundle, wrap the yarn around a piece of cardboard or another sturdy object that is a uniform size and shape. We used a 4” tall piece of cardboard for our tassels. The width doesn’t matter too much, as long as it is wide enough to accommodate the bundle of yarn.

For the Loop shawl tassels, we wrapped the yarn 24 times around the cardboard. More wraps will result in a thicker tassel, fewer wraps, a thinner one. After completing all wraps, cut the yarn. Repeat the entire wrapping process again for the second bundle.

Now that the bundles are done, you’ll want to cut one more piece of matching yarn, just a little longer than the bundles. This piece of yarn will tie everything together.

Make a cross with the new piece of yarn and the cord you set aside earlier, like this:

Then place one yarn bundle above and one yarn bundle below the cross section. Fold the cord down and out of the way, into an upside-down “u” shape. You’ll want to make a very tight square knot with the yarn.

After the square knot has been made, tie the ends of the cord together in an overhand knot. For our tassel, we left about six inches of cord remaining above the knot.  Snip and unravel the ends of the cord.

Now you’ll make the shank. The shank is the wrapped portion that binds the top of the tassel. To create the shank, you will be using a nautical technique called “whipping the end of the line.” Cut a new strand of yarn about 30" long, and using the technique shown here, wrap the tassel from bottom to top. Then hide the end of the yarn shank inside the top of the tassel.

 

There’s just a bit of finishing work left! Wrap a piece of waste yarn around the tassel and cinch it tight near the bottom. The ends will puff out and you can then trim the ends to an even length.

Fluff out the end of the tassel and admire your handiwork! You’re all done!

 

 

May 20, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall
Tags: Tutorial

Do the Daisy

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Just in time for the Lunar New Year, we’ve released our latest pattern, the Firecracker Mitts. The stitch pattern adorning these mitts is open to interpretation—you might think of it as representing sparks to ward off evil or as lucky five-petaled plum blossoms welcoming spring. Either way, you’ll want to know how to knit it! Videos exist demonstrating how to work this evocative and highly textured stitch—commonly referred to as a daisy stitch—in a flat swatch. The Firecracker Mitts feature two slight adjustments: the stitch pattern is worked in the round for much of each mitt and a reversed version appears in the right mitt, giving you a sweetly symmetrical pair. To make everything clearer, the mitts’ designer, Bekah Stuart, walked us through how she works the daisy stitch.

Each daisy requires working into five stitches at once. Fortunately, bouncy Bannock is well-suited to the task. To make things even easier, the pattern has you prepare for each daisy by creating a group of five extra-roomy stitches. Here Bekah works on this step by wrapping her needle with yarn not just once but twice as she knits a stitch.

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On the following round, when she reaches a group of double-wrapped stitches, she slips each one knitwise to her right-hand needle, releasing the extra loops in the process. That knitwise slipping closes up holes in the fabric, so she keeps the left leg of each stitch in front as she transfers all five elongated stitches back to the left-hand needle.

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The next step is to work into all five stitches as if they were a single stitch, through the back loop, as shown above, for the left mitt, or through the usual front loop, as shown below, for the right mitt.

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Here Bekah has worked a k1 and a yo into the group of five stitches. She’ll go on to knit one, yarn over, and knit one again, and then to drop the five elongated stitches off her left needle—one daisy done!

As you work daisies, don’t worry if you find yourself needing to redistribute your stitches so that all five stitches worked together are grouped on a single needle—it’s simply the nature of the pattern. In addition, keep in mind that while stitch markers would get in the way of making daisies, in a sense, they’re built right into your fabric. Once the pattern is established, the plain knit stitch that separates groups of elongated stitches (the “k1″ in “[CDP, k1],” for example) is worked into the central “petal” of the daisy below, as Bekah demonstrates here.

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Similarly, the middle elongated stitch in a group of five will be worked into the plain knit stitch below.

The daisy stitch is a satisfying little stitch that works up quickly into a cheery set of mitts. Start yours today and begin celebrating the Year of the Sheep with Knit Purl!

February 19, 2015 by Keli Hansen
Tags: Kits Tutorial