Blog – aknitica http://aknitica.com You can knit anything! Knitting tips, patterns, and tricks from designer & teacher Amanda Schwabe Thu, 27 Jul 2017 18:17:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 43001861 Inverse Reverse: A collection of reversible shawls http://aknitica.com/2016/12/23/inversereverse/ Fri, 23 Dec 2016 14:26:11 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=2453 It’s that time of year — when I always want something wrapped around my neck. I have a serious obsession with knitting shawls, so my closet is getting pretty full of various neck-warming devices. And yet, I still want to make more… (I picked up a copy of WestKnits BestKnits recently, and now I want […]

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It’s that time of year — when I always want something wrapped around my neck.

I have a serious obsession with knitting shawls, so my closet is getting pretty full of various neck-warming devices. And yet, I still want to make more… (I picked up a copy of WestKnits BestKnits recently, and now I want to make all the things. My Christmas present to me might be the casting-on of a speckly Dotted Rays.)

I do like it best when my neck things are reversible, when they’re made with some sort of simple stitch pattern so I don’t have to always be looking at the pattern, and when I’ve chosen good yarn.

I’ve made some shawl patterns this year, and they’re a little family. They are One, Two, Three Secrets, and Fade & Flip. Together, they form the Inverse Reverse collection, and fight crime throughout the galaxy. Wait, what?

I mentioned them earlier, but our fall/winter has been a whirlwind of new school, more teaching, and my glitchy¬†brain, so I’ve been having trouble writing about them here. Anyway, this family of shawls grew from a weird convergence of coincidences: a Julie Asselin gradient kit I bought at Wabi Sabi in the summer, Mosaic Knitting by Barbara Walker, and my desire to knit something new while reading a book. Yes, I like to read and knit.

For simplicity and reading: garter stitch.

From Mosaic Knitting: the magical inspiration of slipped stitches. But why couldn’t they be used to make something reversible? Why not slip them on the back AND the front of the fabric?

Because of the gradient: I don’t know. I just wanted to pair it with something to make it stretch… I tried it with a couple of colours before I decided on white as the true friend for the mini-skeins.

I’m also a fan of the asymmetrical triangle framework I first found in Martina Behm’s patterns. I’ve always assumed she invented this shape. Does anyone know any different?

Two knit in sport weight with 8 US (5 mm) needles)

Once I got going on One, and I was having such a good time, I got carried away; my mind flew off in a million directions, following all the possibilities of the twists and turns of reversible slipped stitch columns. What if I made them like travelling stitches? What if I let the shaping dictate their intervals? What if I used Morse code? What if I used TWO gradients?

Fade & Flip, made with two gradient skeins from Wollelfe on Etsy

And a collection was born.

Three Secrets… this is the one you can knit in Morse code.

 

As of yesterday, Fade & Flip, the fourth and last pattern in the collection has been published on Ravelry. I’m really pleased with all four of the shawls, and I hope you will be, too.

(Did I mention that three MORE of my kids need braces? Gah.)

They were slower coming out than I’d planned, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve learned many things while making my first ebook, and the number one thing is this: life gets in the way, and I’m going to make sure the patterns are written BEFORE promising a specific publishing schedule. So thank you for being patient with me while waiting for the fourth pattern!

Three Secrets was made with a whole Julie Asselin gradient kit and one skein of silvery-grey Manos del Uruguay Fino

And now, the pattern specs:

Each pattern in the Inverse Reverse collection is

  • reversible — a complete mirror of beautiful stitches on both sides. There are no real “wrong” sides. Everything is public-ready.
  • inverted — if the slipped-stitch columns are MC on one side, they’ll be CC on the other side, and vice versa.
  • made from two colours (or one solid and one gradient, or two gradients). Basically, an MC and a CC.
  • knitable with 100 grams of each colour, no matter what the weight of yarn. Different weight change the stitch pattern, of course, but it works for the first three shawls (One, Two, and Three Secrets) completely. For the fourth, Fade & Flip, I’d recommend sticking with either fingering or sport weight so you can fit in as many Celtic Knots as possible.
  • an asymmetrical triangle shape, long and somewhat shallow, and great for wrapping around your neck many times as a warm scarf or around your shoulders for a cozy wrap.
  • started with just 4 stitches and cast off along the long edge.
  • built on a garter-stitch base, with the same rhythm of slipped stitches. Once you’ve knit One, you’ll recognize many familiar elements in the other three, which makes upgrading to the travelling columns much easier. Even if you knit just a tiny sample of One as a swatch, it’ll help you understand the basics before you start cabling on Two and Fade & Flip.
  • adjustable in size: these patterns don’t really end. You could knit them infinitely large…. just cast off when you’ve run out of yarn or when you’ve reached the size you want.
  • wearable without blocking. They’re garter stitch! Although I did find that Fade & Flip looked better with light blocking because of the cables. Anyway, doesn’t that make them perfect gifts? ūüėČ
  • charted AND written. Because I know there are two types of knitters, and they’re both fierce about their pattern preferences.

Three Secrets can even double as a casual sweater tied around your shoulders… or is it?

And One makes good tv knitting (and reading knitting!) once you get going. It’s mesmerizing.

It’s those beautiful straight lines and the changing colours. Darn it, now I want to make another one.

 

You can buy each pattern individually on Ravelry, but the best deal is to get the ebook, of course. You can find them all here: Inverse Reverse on Ravelry

Two. I made this one with some really bright, amazing Hedgehog Fibres yarn in fluorescent green Envy, with a super-soft and luscious skein of Manos del Uruguay Fino in charcoal grey.

I hope you all have a great holiday, whatever it is you’re celebrating. ūüôā May your gifts be full of yarn and your hearts be full of peace.

 

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Unicorn Power! and Beaded Wristers Collection http://aknitica.com/2015/09/01/unicorn-power-and-beaded-wristers-collection/ Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:13:01 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=2197 I am totally a magpie, attracted to shiny objects. That might explain my new obsession with beaded knitting. That, and the rhythmic, hypnotic, fun-yet-relaxing act of sliding beads into place amidst comforting garter stitch. (And if you’ve ever read any of my posts here, you’ll have noticed that I like fun-yet-relaxing knitting. Don’t bore me, […]

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Beaded Wristers Collection www.aknitica.com by Amanda Schwabe #wristers #beads #stashbuster

I am totally a magpie, attracted to shiny objects. That might explain my new obsession with beaded knitting. That, and the rhythmic, hypnotic, fun-yet-relaxing act of sliding beads into place amidst comforting garter stitch. (And if you’ve ever read any of my posts here, you’ll have noticed that I like fun-yet-relaxing knitting. Don’t bore me, and don’t make me tear my hair out, either. Give me something interesting, but not too interesting. What, beads? That’ll do.)

I get excited watching the beads grow into patterns and pictures. And, because I’m me, I get really excited dreaming up all the combinations of motifs and bling to put on my wrists and give to my friends.

And that, my friends, is why I present you today with not just one beaded wrister pattern — oh no! — but five. And there are more in the works.¬†I’ve gotten completely carried away.

But why, you ask? Sure, they’re pretty, but what exactly does a tiny band around the wrist do?

Free As A Bird beaded wrister pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #beads #feathers

My goodness! They do all sorts of things! They’re not just a pretty face, you know. I’ve heard them called pulse warmers, which seemed pretty suspicious to me at first. I mean really, how much could a tiny woolly bracelet heat up¬†a person? The answer is “surprisingly a lot.” They warm up the blood going to your fingers and make your hands feel all comfy while they’re practically naked. It’s a tiny miracle!

I wear mine almost all the time when it’s cold. I’ve even worn mine this summer in my air conditioning. (It gets chilly in here. First world problems.)

I keep a pair in my purse for “emergencies.”

I’ve decided they’re the perfect gift for every woman I know. Seriously. I can make a pair in a day or two, so why not? I will cover the world in fancy under-the-sleeve glitter, doling out warmth and goodwill made of prancing unicorns and glassy feathers.

Unicorn Power! Beaded wrister pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #beads #unicorns #mythical #cozy

The most fantastic thing, though, is that they keep me warm but don’t get in the way of my knitting. They fit under sleeves, both long and short, they will fit under my mittens, and they’re cute. They’re perfect for wearing while typing, biking, arm wrestling, working with clients, sipping lattes in over-air-conditioned book stores. And they’re a lovely, portable knitting project, too. Once you’ve pre-strung the beads, they’re ready to ride along in your purse to be pulled out in the event of¬†knitting emergencies (read: waiting in boring lines or at the doctor’s office).

Pre-strung beads for knitting beaded wristers. www.aknitica.com #knitting #beads #shiny

The only thing I should warn you about is that if you have a tiny princess in your house who takes after you and your magpie-ness, she will want a pair or two or five. With bunnies. Not like that, mommy, like this. You will be surprised by her good taste and eye for balanced composition.

Coming soon, a pattern for Eva's bunnies.

Coming soon, a pattern for Eva’s bunnies.

And now to the nitty-gritty details. I’ve grouped four of the patterns together in a little collection, and they’re only available as part of this set. They are, clockwise from the top left, Liz’s Flowers, Epiphany, Free As A Bird, and Snowing.

Beaded Wristers Collection 6

Unicorn Power! is available separately, but I have good news. If you like bundles and deals, then prepare to bundle Unicorn Power! with the Beaded Wristers Collection and get a 10% discount on the whole shebang. Don’t worry, Ravelry will calculate that automatically for you when you add both to your cart.

Unicorn Power! beaded wristers pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #beads #unicorns #mythical

Now, I want to reassure any beading neophytes that this whole fancy beading thing is actually pretty easy. If you have dental floss threaders on hand, then you’re all set. They make the perfect “needles” to thread your beads onto your yarn. The patterns will tell you how many beads to load, and if you count them by 5’s, it’s fairly¬†painless. Especially if you watch your latest series on Netflix while doing it.

You’ll want to get glass seed beads in size 8/0 (AKA #8). (The 8 means that you can fit 8 seed beads in one inch.) I’ve read that the Czech or Japanese beads are the most consistent in quality and size, so look for those. I get mine either from a local store (McBead Creations on Craig Henry in Ottawa) or online at Fire Mountain Beads.

As for the yarn, these things are so tiny that they make the perfect stashbusting projects. They require somewhat less than 30 grams of sock yarn per pair. You could probably even squeeze two pairs out of a small 50-gram skein of something wonderful, like Koigu Painters Palette. And don’t be afraid to stripe them up a bit. I’ve seen some beautiful ones done with stripes.

 

And there you have it. Welcome to my obsession. ūüôā

If you’d like to pick up a copy of the PDF patterns, click one of these handy links. My kids’ orthodontist¬†thanks you, and so do I.

Get just the Beaded Wristers Collection

Get just Unicorn Power!

Get both and save 10%

 

So who do you know that could use warm hands and pretty beaded wristers?

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Unusual Ways to Choose Colors for Your Knitting http://aknitica.com/2014/11/04/choose-colors/ http://aknitica.com/2014/11/04/choose-colors/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:39:25 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=1987 Choosing colors for a project seems to be one of those things that makes us all second guess ourselves. So let’s go over some basic rules and guidelines that might help you to choose colors confidently. 1. Choose colors that you love. What makes your heart sing every time you look at it? Base your […]

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Choosing colors for a project seems to be one of those things that makes us all second guess ourselves. So let’s go over some basic rules and guidelines that might help you to choose colors confidently.

1. Choose colors that you love. What makes your heart sing every time you look at it? Base your project on that.

2. Choose colors that you consistently wear. Have you ever said to yourself, “I wear blue all the time. I should branch out.” WHY? Why do you do that to yourself? Chances are that spending a month making yourself a pink sweater just because you “should” will end with a sweater that sits in your drawer instead of on your back. You know, deep down, that you won’t wear it. Don’t do it. Make yourself classics. If you’re going to branch out, spend $10 and 5 minutes¬†at the mall to test a new color first.

3. Colors can really be combined in soooo many ways and still be pretty. I bet you’ll only think something is ugly if you incorporate a color that you just don’t like. If you don’t enjoy a color, leave it out.

4. If rainbows make you happy, make rainbows. A rainbow effect doesn’t have to mean you’re using all the bright colors in the exact rainbow order. Try using muted versions of the rainbow colors. Or switch the position of just two of them. Or add a bit of grey, brown, cream, or whatever your favorite neutral is to tone things down. If you like bright colors, do a bright rainbow. If you like soft, muted colors, use light colors with a hint of grey in them. If you like earthy tones, use¬†brownish, toned-down versions of the rainbow colors.

5. Aim for balance. Balance just means that there’s a bit of proportion in your design. There are repeating motifs, whether in shape, texture, color, shade, darkness, lightness, brightness… Sometimes creating an imbalance can add visual interest. If you want to draw the eye to an area and really make it pop, use a color that isn’t everywhere else already. Think of sock cuffs in bright red, or just one stripe in a contrasting color. Balance and imbalance are both design tools to put in your tool box.

6. Use contrast. If you want to emphasize a motif, make it dark and your background light, or vice versa. They could both be colored, like yellow on blue. But if they’re both a medium shade, they’ll blend together. That could be a cool effect, but if you want your design to pop, try using a navy blue with a light yellow. If you use a dark yellow with a light blue, however, the yellow might not be dark enough to contrast well.

7. Try using three colors that touch each other in the rainbow or on the color wheel. Did you know that the color wheel is just a rainbow bent into a circle? Yup, it’s that simple. Three colors in a row will give you a nice, gentle effect. Think yellow-green, green, green-blue. Or yellow, green, blue. Or orange, orange-red, red. Have some fun with it.

8. Look around you for inspiration. Flowers, gardens, buildings, paintings, sunsets and sunrises, clouds, farmers’ fields at harvest time, the first rays of sunlight touching the frost on a window pane…. What are their main colors? Now look more closely. What tiny flashes of other colors are inside? If you find beauty in something, try using those same ¬†colors in those proportions in your next colorwork project.

9. Beauty is subjective. Some things, like the golden spiral, are universally beautiful. Did you know that the proportions we consider to be beautiful are mathematical? Cool, eh? But color isn’t necessarily universally beautiful. I have a friend who exclaims in delight over any deep purple or harvest color. One of my sons thinks black and brown are the most lovely color combination. I, personally, will buy any electric-blue or turquoise yarn you put in front of me. If I tried to make myself buy the harvest colors, I’d undoubtedly be dissatisfied with them and my friend would think I was crazy.¬†Such is life. So, buy the colors you like. They’ll match, I promise. Just remember to throw in some contrast in their shades (lightness and darkness) so the design doesn’t disappear.

10. The color wheel contains pairs of opposite colors. These pairs are called complementary colors. When you’re looking at a color wheel, they’re the ones directly across from each other. The main 3 pairs of complementary colors are blue & orange, red & green, and yellow & purple. When used together in a design, they create high contrast but also balance. Hm. I think I may have just learned something profound about life right there.

For more on color theory, check out this handy website.

In other fun color news, I’ve just finished this new hat pattern. I’ve named it Obla, and it’s a stranded colorwork hat made with just two colors. Interestingly enough, I chose two complementary colors for its prototype. And I used two shades, as well. The pinky-purple is medium-dark, and the seafoam green is nice and light. Simple color theory at work. ūüôā Oh, and of course, I actually quite like both those colors. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Obla Slouchy Hat pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #hats

 

It’s knit up using a total of 60 grams of fingering-weight yarn and size 3 US (3.25 mm) needles. About 30 grams for each of the colors should be enough. You can grab a copy of the pattern here on the aknitica website or over on Ravelry.

I really enjoyed knitting it up. The chart has a nice, simple repeat with no long floats anywhere. I wish I had more time to make another, maybe with a modified rainbow background and white for the contrast. Or maybe in dark charcoal grey with mustard yellow. What do you think?

Obla Slouchy Hat pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #hats

 

Obla Slouchy Hat pattern. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #hats

 

I hope my color tips were a little helpful today. I figured that other places go into the technical details of color theory more, so maybe I should give you some other ideas. Can you think of any other tips for us? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to share this post on Facebook or Pinterest if you found it helpful.

Just out of curiosity, what is your favorite color combination?

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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Quick Tips for Knitting Fair Isle Colorwork http://aknitica.com/2014/10/31/quick-tips-knitting-fair-isle-colorwork/ http://aknitica.com/2014/10/31/quick-tips-knitting-fair-isle-colorwork/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 20:24:59 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=1983 Fair Isle can be an intimidating technique, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, all you need is a little encouragement and guidance to get you going. At least, that’s all I needed. A few years ago, I took a 3-hour class with Sally Melville, and my knitting life suddenly expanded. Tips for Knitting Fair […]

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Fair Isle can be an intimidating technique, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, all you need is a little encouragement and guidance to get you going. At least, that’s all I needed. A few years ago, I took a 3-hour class with Sally Melville, and my knitting life suddenly expanded.

Tips for knitting Fair Isle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

Tips for Knitting Fair Isle

1. Try holding your yarn in different ways until you find a way that feels comfortable to you. (Read: least awkward.) Then, keep plugging away at it until your fingers hit their rhythm and you gradually speed up.

2. Some ways to hold your yarn:

  • with one color in each hand, knitting continental on one side and English on the other. (ie, alternating picking and throwing.)
  • with both colors in one hand: You can hold them together like a ribbon, side by side on your finger. You can have one strand wrap under your finger and the other over your finger. You can have one strand on your index and one on your middle finger. You could keep them on the same finger but separate them with a ring or a hair elastic.

3. Whatever way you hold your yarns, always keep them in the same positions in relation to one another. For example, if I hold my foreground color in my left hand, I keep it there for the entire project. I usually need to write it down because when I set it down for a while, I forget.

4. The color you hold underneath will be the more prominent¬†color. The strand that runs overtop of the other will recede slightly. This is why, if you switch hands or yarn positions halfway through a project, it will look like your design has changed. So, whatever color you want to pop out, hold it in the bottom¬†position. (In my case, that’s my left¬†hand.) Actually, whatever way you hold the yarn, the strand that’s held to the left will be the bottom, popping-out one.

5. To prevent bunching of stitches between color changes: Every time you switch colors, spread out the knitting on the right-hand needle, then start with the next color. Actually, keep spreading out your knitting as you go. I think Sally recommended doing it every 3 stitches or so.

6. Your colorwork might look uneven at first, even if your tension was pretty good. Washing and blocking it will help.

7. Fair Isle gauge won’t be the same as your plain knitting gauge, even if you’re using the same yarn and needles. The floats¬†tend to pull the fabric a bit tighter, making the stitches more like squares than little short rectangles. You must measure your gauge over a colorwork swatch, preferably in the same pattern as your project.

8. If your color changes happen further than an inch apart, you might want to “catch” the strand of the dormant color halfway across the gap to keep a long strand (float) from forming. This just means that you’ll bring the floating yarn in front of the working yarn (but not the knitting needle) before knitting one stitch. Then, you’ll return it to its original position and keep knitting.

9. Wool is more forgiving and is the best fiber for Fair Isle.

Sources: Mastering Color Knitting by Melissa Leapman and Two Hands, Two Colours Class by Sally Melville.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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How to Measure Knitting http://aknitica.com/2014/10/28/measure-knitting/ Tue, 28 Oct 2014 19:08:24 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=1976 Many patterns will tell you to “work in pattern for ____ inches / cm.” So measuring your knitting is an often-used, important skill. Here are some tips for getting accurate measurements. The standard for how to measure knitting is different from the “counting your rows” standard. When we’re counting the number of rows we’ve worked, […]

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Many patterns will tell you to “work in pattern for ____ inches / cm.” So measuring your knitting is an often-used, important skill. Here are some tips for getting accurate measurements.

The standard for how to measure knitting is different from the “counting your rows” standard. When we’re counting the number of rows we’ve worked, we do not include the cast-on edge or the stitches on the needles.

But, when measuring, we want to include the entire length of fabric. So we include the cast-on edge and even the unfinished stitches on the needles.

Lay your knitting on a flat surface. Arrange it and its needles so it’s neither stretched out nor scrunched up.

To measure length in knitting

Grab a straight ruler and line it up so the zero line is at the bottom edge, just as if you were about to measure a piece of paper or a desk. (A fabric ruler will work fine, but they’re less reliable in this instance because they can become distorted over time and because they don’t lay flat. If you use it, stretch it out taut to measure, but don’t pull too hard or you’ll stretch it permanently.)

Lay the ruler on top of the knitting away from the edges or any other distortions in the fabric.

Measure from the bottom up to the tops of the stitches on your needles.

To measure width in knitting

Arrange the ruler so the zero line is touching the outside edge. Lay it across the middle of the fabric, away from the cast-on or the needles. You’re looking for a place where the fabric is the least distorted. This is where a straight ruler comes in handy. You can use it to gently press the edges down if they’re inclined to curl. Measure across to the opposite edge.

To measure from the last decrease or increase

This is what you do when, for instance, you’ve finished a sweater’s waist shaping, and now you need to knit ___ inches further before the arm hole shaping. Or when you need to measure from the arm hole shaping up to the start of the shoulder shaping.

Find the landmark in your pattern. It’s a good idea to mark decrease or increase rows in some way when you make them so you don’t have to search hard for them later. Use a piece of contrasting-colour waste yarn, a safety pin, a stitch marker, or even one of those cheap, plastic hair elastics. You can put it directly into the stitch or between stitches, as long as it stays in the same row as you continue knitting. If you’ve used a cheap hair elastic, you can just cut it out later. (Thanks to my friend Laurie for that tip.)

Now that you know where your landmark is, measure from its row’s top edge up to the top of your stitches on the needles.

If you’re looking for info on how to measure gauge, not length or width, check out this previous post in the series.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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How to Avoid Repetitive Stress While Knitting http://aknitica.com/2014/10/25/avoid-repetitive-stress-knitting/ Sat, 25 Oct 2014 20:17:55 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=1956 At some point, most knitters deal with repetitive stress or carpal tunnel problems, whether mild or severe. Here are some tips¬†that might help to¬†keep your hands and wrists in good knitting condition for many years to come: Take breaks. When you do, get up, walk around, and stretch out your arms. Reach them up over […]

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At some point, most knitters deal with repetitive stress or carpal tunnel problems, whether mild or severe. Here are some tips that might help to keep your hands and wrists in good knitting condition for many years to come:

Take breaks. When you do, get up, walk around, and stretch out your arms. Reach them up over your head. Loosen up your shoulder and neck muscles.

Stretch. Bend your wrists backwards and gently stretch your muscles. When you stretch, don’t pull many little times and bounce your muscles, but apply constant, steady, gentle pressure for about 10 – 15 seconds at a time.

Listen to your body. When your hands and wrists are aching or starting to ache, stop. Stretch. If you feel shooting pain, you’ve gone too far. Give them a rest until you can resume without pain.

Think in the long term. It’s better to stop before you hurt yourself¬†so you can¬†enjoy many years of knitting.

Repetitive stress is caused by doing the same motion over and over again. So switch motions. Try knitting in another style, like Continental, English, the pencil hold, or Peruvian purling. If you’ve been knitting flat, switch to a project in the round. If you’ve been knitting with worsted weight and relatively big needles, switch to a small-gauge project, like socks or gloves for a while. Switch from a cabled project to some colourwork. That way, you don’t have to stop knitting altogether when your hands get tired. This is what I do, and so far, it works. Because let’s face it, it’s not fun¬†when you¬†have to stop knitting.

Try using different needles. A different size, a different style (straights instead of circulars, perhaps), or even try a different substance, like bamboo or metal. There are even needles that claim to be ergonomically better for your hands, like the square, four-sided needles made by Kollage. (I just bought one in a 32″ circular. I’m going to try it out, just because trying new things is fun. The back of the package is fascinating. It says “The square needles are perfect for knitters who have arthritis, carpal tunnel, or stiffness in their hands and fingers.” ¬†I hope to try them tonight.)

There are other products out there to help, like wrist braces that fit like small bracelets and don’t impede your motion. A friend of mine uses them and says they do help.

Keep your hands warm. Protect them from muscle stiffness. Hey, I happen to have a pattern to help with that!

Scrunchy Ombre Arm Warmers #knitting #stashbusters www.aknitica.com

If you’re a tight knitter, Stop It! Try to relax while you’re knitting. Be conscious about how you’re holding your needles and yarn, and if you notice yourself tensing up, make a point of relaxing your shoulders, arms, fingers, hands. If you’re worried about your knitting tension changing, try using a bigger needle size to make up for your new relaxation. An added bonus of relaxing your tension is that it will make your stitches much easier to work¬†with¬†and to slide along your needles.

Sit up straight. Apparently, when you slouch your shoulders forward, it compressed nerves in your neck. This, in turn, affects your arms, wrists, and hands.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these things? Did they work for you? If you have any extra tips to help other knitters, please leave them in the comments. 

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The post How to Avoid Repetitive Stress While Knitting appeared first on aknitica.

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The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Knitting http://aknitica.com/2014/10/24/important-improve-your-knitting/ http://aknitica.com/2014/10/24/important-improve-your-knitting/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:33:11 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=1952 Hello, my knitting friends! We’re just over halfway through October’s series, and I have something important to tell you. It’s maybe one of the most important knitting tips I can ever share, and it needs to be said. It will definitely improve your knitting because it will give you the confidence to seek out new […]

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Hello, my knitting friends! We’re just over halfway through October’s series, and I have something important to tell you. It’s maybe one of the most important knitting tips I can ever share, and it needs to be said.

It will definitely improve your knitting because it will give you the confidence to seek out new skills, to try new things, to achieve more than you dreamed possible. It has worked for me, and it will work for you.

I’ve spent time with lots of knitters and, well, lots of people. And you know what we all do to ourselves that makes everything so much more difficult? Myself included?

We tell ourselves it’s too hard. We’re not¬†very good. We need our hands held. We’re not as fast as so-and-so. We’ll never be that proficient.

What the heck are we doing to ourselves? We’d never put our friends down like that. We tell them nice things, and we encourage them. (I hope.)

So, today’s tip is this: be kind to yourself.

I love reading books about neuroscience and how our brains work. I have depression, and I’ve been on a constant hunt for the last 14 years for any and all information on how my brain works and how I can fix it. And you know what? I’ve found LOTS of good stuff. So many small things that have added up to me living a practically-normal, depression-free life. The most I get now is the winter blahs, and that’s because I keep forgetting to take my vitamin D.

One of the main, most helpful things I’ve learned applies to every¬†area of¬†life, whether¬†it’s¬†depression or knitting. It’s the neuroscientific (is that a word?) principle of “use it or lose it.” Did you know that our brains are constantly restructuring themselves? It’s called neuroplasticity. The more we think something, the more the neurons in that thought pathway light up, and a stronger, faster connection¬†is formed. If impulses and chemicals keep going down that pathway, it becomes a superhighway in your brain. It becomes the default setting, if you will.

If your default setting is negativity, then your thoughts will more quickly go down that path without your even thinking about it. And, of course, our actions and outcomes follow directly behind our thoughts. And our emotions trail behind.

Are you feeling discouraged? What are you thinking about? I bet it’s pretty gloomy.

When I started examining my thoughts, I realized, My goodness! No wonder I feel so terrible!

The good news is that we can retrain our brains. We can decide to stop using those negative superhighways, and eventually, because of the use-it-or-lose-it principle, they’ll fade away. Isn’t that amazingly good news?

Next time you’re feeling discouraged about your knitting, stop and notice your thoughts. Would you say those things to your best friend? Your child? Your mate? Your boss? Then¬†why are you saying them to yourself?

Now that you’ve noticed your thoughts, consciously replace them¬†with something positive.

You can do this.

You can knit anything.

This mistake isn’t such a big deal. If it’s not on fire, it’s fixable.

Every time your thoughts start going down that spiral, notice them. Stop them. Change them. After a while, with some practice, you’ll build new pathways in your brain. Your superhighways will be made by you, as a conscious decision, and they will¬†be beautiful.

It will take time and practice, so the first rule of reprogramming your brain is to give yourself grace. What’s grace? It’s unmerited favor. It’s unlimited chances without recriminations. It’s allowing yourself to start over right that minute, without bringing the baggage of past mistakes forward.

One sweater disaster does not equal a failure at future sweaters. It means one sweater’s worth of yarn that you can make into something beautiful.

Go make something beautiful today. You’re worth it.

Yes, you.

p.s. Neuroplasticity and visualization can also help you knit faster. Cool, right?

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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How to Count Rows in Knitting http://aknitica.com/2014/10/23/how-to-count-rows-in-knitting/ http://aknitica.com/2014/10/23/how-to-count-rows-in-knitting/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:53:47 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=1947 Have you ever lost track of how many rows you’ve knit? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just look at your knitting to find out? Well, you can. Yay! And I’m going to show you how to count rows in knitting right now. Most of us, at some point, get confused by where we […]

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Have you ever lost track of how many rows you’ve knit? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just look at your knitting to find out?

Well, you can. Yay! And I’m going to show you how to count rows in knitting right now.

Most of us, at some point, get confused by where we begin and end our counting. Do the stitches on the needles count as a row? When a pattern tells us to increase every 4th row, does that mean we knit four rows, then increase, or do we knit three rows, then increase? And what does that look like in the knitting?

Basic rules for counting rows in knitting

Don’t¬†include the cast-on edge in your counting.

Don’t¬†include the stitches on the needles in your counting.

Count rows by counting all the V’s (knit stitches) stacked in one column. If you have a column of five V’s, that means you’ve completed five rows in your pattern. You’re about to work the sixth row.

If you get confused by the stitches on the needles, think of them like this: They’re incomplete. They’re waiting in the wings, ready to perform. They’re on deck, but not yet in play.¬†That’s why you don’t count them.

Examples

Let’s say you’re cabling every 8th row. What this looks like in your knitting is that you have a column of 7 V’s completed. The 8th row is on the needles, waiting to be worked, but not yet counted. As you begin to cable, you’ll notice that it’s those on-deck stitches that are getting crossed, and you’re knitting into them. When the row is finished, you’ll have 8 V’s in your knitting, but they’ll be hard to see because they’ll be crossed now. The stitches that are now on your needles will become row 1 in the next cable repeat, but you haven’t knit them yet so they’re not counted.

Let’s say you’re decreasing every 4th row. You’ve already made a couple decrease repeats, and you’ve lost count. Look at your work. Find the last decrease you made. It will look like two stitches that are separate at the bottom but are overlapped and have only one stitch growing out of their tops.

Count the first stitch growing out of the tops as your first row. Including it, how many V’s are completed under your needles? Two full V’s mean you’ve knit 2 rows. Oops, that’s not enough! What you’re looking for is 3 full V’s worked, and your 4th row on the needles, ready to be decreased but not yet in play.

Let’s say you’re M1 increasing every 3rd round. Increases are interesting to count because they’re generally worked into the round or row below. You reach into the row below and pick up the running stitch, then knit into it twisted. So what that looks like when you’re counting from M1 increases is a tiny loop appearing in the middle of two normal stitches, with a normal-sized stitch growing out of it. When counting, don’t count the tiny loop. Start counting your rounds at the first normal-sized stitch or V. When increasing every 3rd round, then, you’re looking for the tiny loop as your landmark, and then there should be 2 normal V’s stacked above it and the third round on the needles, waiting to be worked. Now you can increase your third round.

When counting above a yarnover increase, first find the hole as your landmark. Look at it closely. There will be a kind of spread-out, horizontal strand of yarn forming the¬†top of the hole, with a more normal-looking stitch growing out of it. That spread-out strand is the yarnover. Don’t count it. Start counting at the stitch that grows out of it. Count those V’s up the column as normal, ignoring the stitches on your needle. If you’re yarnover increasing every 5th round, there should be 4 V’s in the column. Then, you’re ready to work the next increase round.

Similarly, when you’re counting above a Lifted Increase (AKA LRinc or LLinc), you don’t count the weird stitch itself, but the first normal V that grows out of it as your first row. Take a close look at the increase. It looks like two stitches that grow out of the same base. It’s a two-headed V. ūüėČ Don’t count the two-headed part. Count the first stitch that comes out of the leaning-over head. Then keep counting up the column to see how many rows are under the needles.

Counting purl rows

If, for some reason, you need to count your rows in purl instead of in a knit column, look for the frowns. As I mentioned in The Anatomy of¬†a¬†Knit Stitch, stitches on the purl side look like smiles and frowns. The smiles are the running stitches, the “feet” that connect one stitch to another in a row. They’re the in-between part. The frowns (the downward-curving bumps or lines) are the tops of each stitch.

Find a column of frowns and count each frown. If there are 6 frowns stacked above each other, you’ve complete six purl rows.

Counting garter stitch rows

Garter stitch (where every row is knit) is funny to count because the tops of the stitches are harder to find. The V’s get smooshed behind the frowns and disappear. Most of us count garter stitch by ridges. A ridge is simply a complete set of two rows: one row of V’s and one row of frowns.

When you begin your garter stitch, place a marker at the beginning of your row or round. Now, you have a landmark by which to measure your progress. If the first row of your garter stitch is a knit row, which is normal, then from the right side, a complete ridge will look like a flat line of V’s hidden under the next row of frowns/smiles. Those two rows make one garter ridge.

When you’re working flat (in rows): If, from the right side, you see that your needle tip is at the left of your work and there are V’s directly under your needle, you’ll know that you’ve only worked half a ridge, or an uneven number of rows.

If you’re working garter stitch in the round: a purl ridge directly under the needles means one ridge set is completed. A line of flat, knit V’s directly under the needles means only half a ridge set is completed.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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How to Pick Up Dropped Stitches, Even from the Cast On Edge http://aknitica.com/2014/10/22/pick-up-dropped-stitches/ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:54:21 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=1943 I first knew that I could knit anything when I learned that I could fix anything. My fear of making mistakes, trying a new project and getting stuck, and ruining hours of knitting went away. The first step towards knitting confidence, then, seems to be learning how to fix mistakes in knitting. Here’s how to […]

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I first knew that I could knit anything when I learned that I could fix anything.

My fear of making mistakes, trying a new project and getting stuck, and ruining hours of knitting went away.

The first step towards knitting confidence, then, seems to be learning how to fix mistakes in knitting. Here’s how to fix a dropped stitch.

If you don’t currently have a crochet hook in your knitting kit, it’s time to put one in there. (And if you don’t have a knitting kit, it’s time to put one together. Make it small and portable. I throw mine in my knitting bag every time I leave the house… or even change rooms.)

To pick up a dropped stitch, insert your crochet hook into the loop on the knit side. If just one stitch dropped, then just put it back onto your left-hand needle with its right side in front.

If a column of stitches dropped, it will look like a little loop (the dropped stitch) with a ladder of any number of horizontal lines of dropped stitches above it. Put the crochet hook into the loop to catch it. Then, lay your knitting on a flat surface (a table, your knee, a book) and smooth out the ladder of dropped, horizontal stitches. You want to make sure they’re not all jumbled together so you can see that they’re in the right order. If in doubt, check their sides, where they’re still connected to the columns of stitches beside them. Smooth them into their proper order in the ladder as best you can.

To pick up a dropped knit stitch

Now, with your crochet hook, reach through the front of the last proper stitch and grab the first (nearest, bottom) strand in the ladder. Pull it through the stitch. One stitch has been remade! Keep on reaching through and pulling each consecutive strand through each loop. When you get to the top, put the last stitch back on the left needle, ready for knitting. (Or purling, as the case may be.)

To pick up a dropped purl stitch, I find it easiest to turn the work so I’m looking at the other side, where it’s a knit stitch. Then just pick it up as you would a knit stitch: insert the crochet hook into the stitch from the front, grab the nearest running stitch in the ladder, and pull it through the stitch. But put the remade stitch onto the right-hand needle… because when you turn your work back around to the proper side, that will be the left-hand needle, and the stitch will be ready to be worked.

To pick up a dropped column in garter stitch, you may want to keep flipping the knitting over so you can pick each stitch up as a knit stitch. Remember, knit stitches look like V’s and purl stitches look like bumps or frown lines. You’ll be picking up a knit stitch over a purl bump, then flipping the work to the other side and picking up another knit stitch over a purl bump. Back and forth, until you’ve reached the top. Be extra careful picking up garter stitch because the strands in the dropped ladder like to fool you into picking them up in the wrong order.

Now, what if you’ve dropped stitches all the way down to the cast-on edge? And all you have is a ladder of straight running stitches and no loop with which to start? Well, you’re going to create that loop. That’s all a cast on is, after all, in its most basic form: a series¬†of loops that have had stitches pulled through them.

So, to pick up a dropped cast on edge, lay your work down and spread out the dropped stitches so you can smooth the ladders and get them in order. Find the very bottom strand in the ladder. This is the strand you’re going to twist into a loop. Look at your cast on edge around it, the edge that hasn’t been messed up. If you used a long-tail cast on or variation of it, it will look like little lines slanting slightly up and to the right. If it looks like purl bumps in front of lines, you’re looking at the back side and you need to flip your knitting over so the other side is facing you.

With the cast-on edge of your work pointed towards you:

Insert your crochet hook perpendicular to your body and the cast-on edge, with the hook pointing towards you, between the first and second strands in the ladder, towards the first strand. Grab the first strand under the hook, then rotate the hook counterclockwise until the hook is pointing away from you. This will have created a twist in the strand. You now have a loop! Keep it on the crochet hook, and now you can grab the next strand in the ladder of dropped stitches and pull it through the loop you created. Continue up the ladder as you would for normal dropped stitches until you’ve gotten them all.

I know that’s a mouthful of words to describe a really simple maneuver, so here’s a quick video of questionable quality, taken by my oldest, to illustrate:

What do you think? Does this help you pick up dropped stitches? Let me know in the comments.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The post How to Pick Up Dropped Stitches, Even from the Cast On Edge appeared first on aknitica.

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How To Cable Without A Cable Needle http://aknitica.com/2014/10/21/cable-without-a-cable-needle/ http://aknitica.com/2014/10/21/cable-without-a-cable-needle/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:48:29 +0000 http://aknitica.com/?p=1911 Confession: I find cabling to be a little tedious. Using a cable needle and transferring stitches back and forth breaks my flow, and it annoys me. I knit cables sparingly. Until, that is, I discovered how to cable without a cable needle. Now, I don’t mind¬†cabling¬†so much. In fact, it’s kind of fun. I know […]

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Confession: I find cabling to be a little tedious. Using a cable needle and transferring stitches back and forth breaks my flow, and it annoys me. I knit cables sparingly.

Until, that is, I discovered how to cable without a cable needle. Now, I don’t mind¬†cabling¬†so much. In fact, it’s kind of fun.

I know of two ways to cable without a cable needle. One way, I learned from Grumperina’s website, here. But after trying it, I found that I didn’t love it as much as the straight rearranging-stitches method that I’m about to show you. But one of the joys of knitting is that you can try a couple methods and then settle on your very own favourite. In fact, I encourage it. Try everything!

Basic Construction of a Cable

A cable is made of a column of knit stitches, usually flanked by columns of purl stitches. The column is generally, but not always, divided in half. The direction the cable leans is determined by which half of the stitches in the column crosses in front of the other half.

If the left half crosses in front, the cable leans over to the right.

If the right half crosses in front, the cable leans over to the left.

Right-Cross Cable without a cable needle

To get a cable to lean to the right, you’ll want the left half of the stitch column to come across the front. So, with your right-hand needle, reach in front of the right half and insert the needle tip into the stitches that form the left half of the cable. In this case, I have a 6-stitch cable, with 3 stitches in the left half and 3 stitches in the right half. A written direction for this cable might read either C6R (cable 6 right) or 3/3 RC (3 over 3 right cross).

Right cross cable step 1. Cabling with a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

With your right hand, pinch the stitches under the cable. With a smooth, straight movement, withdraw the left needle from all the stitches in the cable.

Cable right cross step 2. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

The right needle will be holding on to the left half, and the right half of the column will be free at the back, but pinched and held in place by your right hand underneath. With the same smooth, straight movement at the back, poke the left needle back into those stitches immediately.

Right cross cable step 3. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

Slip the stitches on the right-hand needle back to the left needle…

Right cable cross step 4. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

…then knit across all the stitches.

Right cross cable step 5. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

Right Cross Cable: Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

Tips:

While you’re performing these movements, keep the needle positions the same except for the straight, out-and-in¬†motion of the left needle. Don’t move or spread the needles and stitches in any way. Keep the movement small and quick.

A slippery needle works best for this maneuver. I use Knit Picks Nickel-Plated needle tips. Metal Addis or Hiya Hiyas are also perfect. Anything slightly sticky, like bamboo, laminated wood, or plastic might add just enough friction to tug the stitches and frustrate you.

Left-Cross Cable without a cable needle

To form a left-leaning cross, the right half of the cable column needs to go in front, and the left half needs to cross behind. So, with your right-hand needle, reach behind the right half and insert the needle tip into the stitches that form the left half of the cable.

Left cross cable step 1. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

With your right hand, pinch the stitches under the right half of the cable. With a smooth, straight movement, withdraw the left needle from all the stitches in the cable.

left cross cable step 2. Cabling without a cable neede. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

The right needle will be holding on to the left half, and the right half of the column will be free at the front, but pinched and held in place by your right hand underneath. With the same smooth, straight movement at the front, poke the left needle back into those live stitches immediately.

left cross cable step 3. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

Slip the stitches on the right-hand needle back to the left needle…

left cross cable step 4. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.come #knittingtips #write31days

…then knit across all the stitches.

left cross cable step 5. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

left cross cable. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

 

It is completely normal to be nervous about this technique. Most of us freak out a little when we pull our needles out of our stitches. Needles usually fall out against our will, so we try to avoid it at all costs. But it doesn’t have to be something you’re afraid of. Tomorrow, I’ll show you how to easily pick up dropped stitches, even if they’ve dropped all the way down to your cast on edge.

But in the meantime, don’t worry. Practice this on a worsted-weight project with real wool so it’s nice and sticky and doesn’t want to unravel. It might feel awkward the first couple times, but, before you know it, your hands will get the knack of it and your cabling rhythm will improve and get faster.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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