Posts Tagged ‘tutorial’

The Test Block and a Tutorial

Since there is no knitting time up front anymore, and I cannot do any regular work, this is a good time to blog.

So, first, the River City is hot. No, more like HAWT. At 11:04 a.m., as I am typing, it is 95 degrees, with a heat index of 102. Needless to say, even though today is technically my next scheduled run, it is not happening today. I will start week 6 tomorrow evening during the cold snap (mid-90s tomorrow) at the local park, where I can run after 5pm and in the shade. It is miserable outside, which makes it a perfect day to stay inside during lunch and knit.

So, one of the things I love about lace is that it is that until it is blocked, it really is a little bit of a mystery as to how it will turn out. You can stretch it, pull it, and hold it open to see the design, but really, until it takes it’s lukewarm bath and is pinned within an inch of its life, it is a mystery.

I love this mystery and I love the surprise ending (Surprise! That shapeless and lumpy thing is actually beautiful!). However, there are times when the shapeless and lumpy thing you are knitting is SO mysterious that you wonder if it is possible for it to really turn out.

This honestly looked like a complete wreck to me.
This is the Peacock and Leaves scarf a week ago. Its colors were beautiful and it was fun as anything to knit, but look at it. No matter how much I stretched, pulled, or squinted, I just couldn’t see it turning out very well. Not all yarns work great with all patterns. Some lace should only be done in a light colored yarn. I was growing more and more concerned as I went along, so I decided to “skip ahead” to the end. I did a test block to make sure that this wasn’t a disaster in the making.
That is without a flash so the colors are truer.
Now with flash. The colors are brighter than in reality, but you can see the pattern better. The top inch is new knitting since the test block, and therefore looks like nothing.
That is it in the tiny bit of natural light I could score here at work. Nice, eh? That is pretty close to its actual color too. The beads show up quite nicely in the picture too.

I wish I could say I planned the yarn to make that nice color progression because then I would look like a genius. However, I am simply not that smart nor talented enough with the spinning wheel, just very, very lucky, and also deeply concerned that the large ball I have waiting at home will not continue this nice progression. It does not have to match or repeat; I just want the color to shift throughout the scarf like it has already done. We will see. I am prepared for the heartbreak to come if it does not. I am about a third of the way through the scarf.

Since my post about nupps and beads, I have gotten several hits from people looking for instructions on how to replace nupps with beads. Here is a pictorial demonstration. You will need the beads of your choice and a very tiny stainless steel crochet hook. Mine is 1mm or a 12 in US sizes. (I prefer millimeters because a millimeter is a millimeter, where a 12 can mean just about anything.)

Slide your bead onto the crochet hook and set it aside.
When you come to the point on your chart where you are supposed to increase a single stitch into 3/5/7/however many stitches, ignore that, and simply knit that stitch, and go no farther. Very carefully, without jerking the knitting around, slide that stitch off the right hand needle, and pinch it between your thumb and forefinger in your left hand so the stitch cannot be dropped. Take the crochet hook in your right hand and hook the pinched stitch and carefully slide the bead down the shank of the hook, and very gently pull the loop through the bead.
Then, gently, slide the beaded stitch back onto the right hand needle. You will need to give this particular stitch a little more yarn than usual.
Once it is back on the needle, continue to knit as directed. On the reverse side, purl the beaded stitch as you would any other stitch, ignoring the directions to purl the 3/5/7/etc. stitches together. Just remember that stitch will be a bit tight, so approach it carefully.

This is not nearly as tricky a maneuver as it sounds. The real trick is not dropping the beaded stitch or accidently sliding any of the other stitches off the needles while you are working. Still pictures are not the best demonstration of this method, so you could search YouTube for a video demonstration. I cannot access it at work to find an appropriate video.

Special note about beading your knitting. The crochet hook beading method DOES NOT work on yarn overs. If you want beads to hang between your yarn overs (like in the Shipwreck Shawl), you have to thread your beads directly onto your yarn before knitting it.

Also, you will want to go back over your beaded stitches later and slide the beads up the loop. When you purl the beaded stitch, in order to have room to work the needle into the stitch, you will force the bead down the loop as your purl, and that can make the beaded stitch look a little sloppy and loose since you did have to give it a little more yarn. Simply sliding the bead back up the loop will hide that “looseness”

So, I hope this helps those people who came looking for directions on how to replace a nupp with a bead. Happy beading!

My Andean Ply Tutorial

Before all else, I was a handspinner. I have been spinning on drop spindles for quite a few years now. My wheel is a very recent acquisition and not fully mastered yet, but it is the drop spindle where I excel.

Plying has always been the thorn in my side. Plying two yarns from two separate drop spindles is maddening. Plying on my wheel is not easy as my wheel is second hand and did not come with even a single extra bobbin, much less a Kate.

The only kind of plying I do well at all is the Andean Ply and I adore this technique. There is a tutorial here but I found it tricky to learn from those diagrams. I thought I might try and give you a tutorial of my own.

You need a decent amount of twist in your single. If it plies back on itself 2-4 inches easily when you loosen the slack on your new yarn, it is probably just fine. I start with the loose end of the yarn on the spindle and wrap it around my left thumb a couple of times. I slide my wedding band over the wraps around my thumb to help keep that end secure. I don’t know any one else who does this though and it isn’t necessary; just don’t lose that end.

Now that it is secured around your thumb, loop the around the back of your middle finger, bringing it back to the palm of your hand:

Left Loop

Carry the yarn across the back of your hand, bringing it from thumbside to pinkie side.

Around the Back

I try to keep the yarn right at my wrist to keep the loop as large as possible. Remember, because of the extra twist in the yarn, the yarn will contract at you work, tightening the loops as you go.

Bringing the yarn up your palm, loop the yarn around your middle finger from left to right and then bring it back down across your palm and around the back of your hand, going from right to left:

Right Loop

Then bring the yarn from around your wrist, looping around the middle finger from left to right, back down your palm, around the wrist, and repeat the second, pinkie side loop.

It is complex to read, but it is simpler than it sounds. Just repeat the loops around your middle finger, coming from the thumb side and pinkie side, until the yarn is all off the spindle.

Depending on how much you spun, that could be quite a bit, and this can get hard to hold after a while.

Tightening Up

Once all the yarn is off the spindle and in loops around your hand, carefully slide the loops off of your middle finger; now the yarn forms a sort of bracelet you can carry around your wrist. Find the end you secured around your thumb and the end that will be at the top of the “bracelet” and tie them together. I hook them into the hook of my spindle, and begin spinning in the opposite direction that the original yarn was spun (I always spin clockwise and ply counter-clockwise).

The advantages of the Andean ply technique include:

  • Not wasting any yarn or going to extreme efforts to spin the exact same amount on two spindles or bobbins.
  • You can ply on the fly! You can do this anywhere you can stretch your arms out. I did this demonstration at the front desk of my office.

Disadvantages include:

  • It can get uncomfortable to loop all of that yarn around your hands. I think I hit the max of what I could take with about 200 yards or so for this demonstration. There are folks who make a wooden “hand” to use as an alternative to your own hand, but that reduces the portability. That being said, I will probably convince my beloved that I need him to make one of those “hands” to ply on myself.
  • I don’t think I would trust myself to stop mid-skein. In fact, I am not sure I would stop once I start looping. I would be terrified of that bracelet forming an over-twisted ball of hell, never to be untangled. So, in my world, once you start, you don’t stop until all the yarn is plied, so you have to do this when you aren’t likely to be seriously interrupted.
  • You just cannot get the quantity out of this that you can by plying from bobbins on a Kate, but as far as drop spinning goes, you can never get the quantity that you could from a wheel and bobbins.

I hope this helps! Happy spinning.