There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A rib tickling scarf!

Another few days of learning something new-ish and producing yet another scarf as a way of practising.

I decided to have a go at rib stitch. When casting on, you need to cast on a number of stitches that can be divided by 4. I casted on 28 stitches. For rib stitch you knit 2 stitches and then purl 2 stitches and keep repeating this until you reach the end of the row. When coming back the other way, you again knit 2 and purl 2. this creates a ribbed effect on both sides of the scarf.

When you finish with your ball of yarn or want to change colours, I used the same method as with my other scarves. What's great about the rib stitch is that when you do change colour you don't see the knit stitch, it appears seamless, as you would see with one side of the stockinette stitch. It's only if you stretch the item that you can see the knit stitch.

It's taken me a good few days to complete this scarf. I've discovered I'm a tight knitter, so as the scarves I've made are worn more, they'll stretch, making them longer. Even to me at the moment all the ones I've made feel quite short.

I've now invested in a wool needle to weave in those ends, which made it slightly easier. I've got some more projects coming up which involve learning to knit on circular needles and learning to use double pointed needles. I'm planning on making some baby hats and blankets for friends of mine that are pregnant. The hats are knitted on double pointed needles and the blanket because of the size will be knitted on the circular needles.

I'll be posting again when I'm shown how to knit "on the round".

Here is a picture of the ribbed scarf I made.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Another Scarf completed!

So after a few days of practising the purl stitch, I have completed another scarf.

I started it 2 days ago, but didn't do much. I done 1 and a bit patches. I've had 2 days of constantly going at it.

I've been trying to practice the stockinette stitch which is knit one row, purl the next row, and keep doing this until the item is completed. I found it was easy to forget which stitch I was doing so I've learnt to always finish on a purl, so I know the next row will be a knit stitch.

I went wrong on the first white patch so I ended up doing each white patch different. The joining of the sections were done as I've mentioned before. I always joined the sections using the knit stitch. I've also discovered that stockinette stitch is not great for using on scarves as it curls at the ends.

The advantage of stockinette stitch is that it produces one side flat and in V's which is really nice. This is definitely a stitch to use if you want to make jumpers.

Here is the finished product, before I weaved in the ends!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Learning how to purl....

I've been trying to practice how to purl stitch.

My friend Clare is an experienced knitter and whilst at a wine and cheese evening with another friend she showed me how to do it.

In a nutshell I would say it's exactly the same as a knit stitch, but done the opposite way. The needle is put in from the front and on top of the needle with all the stitches. The yarn still goes in the same direction as a knit stitch. When doing a purl stitch make sure you bring the yarn to the front.

I've not used Youtube to learn how to purl, because my friends demonstration was good enough, but for those that may need it and don't quite get the way I've put it, see below for one that I think will help.

I've been practising for a few days, as I haven't quite felt like I've got the hang of it, but I'm going to keep going with it. Even if means starting over a number of times, which has happened so far.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Binding off and weaving in ends.. My first item finished!

Today I finished my first scarf.

I've been away for a few days, so decided that to learn how to bind off and weave in the ends was best left until I came back.

I wasn't sure even looking through my stitch n' bitch book the way to bind of. It seemed quite complicated but once I started it's actually quite easy.

Firstly make sure you leave enough yarn at the end. You will need at least double the length of yarn to how wide your knitted item is to bind off.

When you're ready to bind off, make sure you are at the end of a row. Knit 2 stitches as if you were starting a new row. Then, lift the loop of the first stitch you put on the needle over your second stitch. Then knit another stitch and again lift the loop over the new stitch. You will notice that your work is slowly coming off (in a good way). When you get to the final stitch, cut your yarn and bring the end through the loop. Pull this. With the binding off keep the stitches fairly loose as it'll make it easier to bring the loop over the stitches.

I used the following youtube video's to help me:

To weave in your ends is not hard. Again there appears to be a number of different methods. I've seen using a crochet needle, wool needles and weaving in whilst knitting. I waited until the end. I don't have any type off wool or crochet needle so if you're really stuck I used a safety pin. I stuck the end of the wool through the curled end and weaved my ends through the wool using that. It's worked really well.
Again there are lots of different video's on youtube which show you how to weave in your ends. All you need to do is bring the yarn through the stitches you have done so it blends in with the rest of the item.
Here is the video I used:

My first finished knitted scarf looks like this:

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Changing Colours

Today I learnt how to change colours.

It's not as hard as what I thought it would be. Once again I used the book and YouTube to help me understand how to go about changing colours. Changing colours is the same as changing a ball of wool.

Wait until you are at the end of a row before you change colours. With the colour you are finishing with cut the yarn leaving approx 6 inches (10 - 15cm) at the end. With the new colour, again leave about 6 inches of yarn before you start to knit. Put the right needle through the stitch as you would for a normal knit stitch, the instead of using the old colour to create a new stitch use the new colour. For the next stitch make sure you are using the skien of yarn not the end, and carry on knitting as per normal. Once you've completed the row, until you are ready to weave in the ends just tie up the different colours to stop anything from happening to them.

Below is the YouTube video in which I used to help me.

On one side of your colour change you will just see the different blocks of colour. On the other side you will be able to see where the colours in the stitching interchange.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A new shop - A lovely lady

Today I went to a shop called Honor Parry.

I had read reviews (see link above) that it was a lovely shop (old fashioned with shelves upon shelves of different types of yarn) owned and ran by a retired lady - Mrs Jones. The opening hours are not for long each day. Monday - Wednesday 10am - 1pm, Thursday 2-4, and they are also some Saturday's but I can't remember what the opening times are. The 344 and 44 buses (going southbound towards Clapham) stop right opposite the store on the left hand side of the road. The shop is on the right hand side of the road if you are coming from Queenstown road railway station.

I asked for some help straight away as i didn't really know what to look for. I told her I was a beginner knitter, and that i had gone into another shop but I felt the needles were too small and the wool, even though it was nice was not chunky enough for me to practice on. She pointed me in the direction of some cheap wool (I think around the £2.99 mark). The wool she pointed me to is 75% acrylic and 25% wool. I asked if she had any of same stuff but in black as I wanted to make some black and white scarves! She came back with a charcoal colour which I said would do.

Mrs Jones also asked me how I cast on. I told her I used the Thumb method (the method shown in the Stitch 'n Bitch book) in which she said "it's not a good way of casting on, and it curls up at the ends. I don't know why the young and trendy use that method!". She then proceeded to show me the 2 needle method.

The way to do it is, to create a slip knot leaving about 6 inches left at the end of the wool and put it onto the needle. Using the right needle, slip it through the hole in the slip knot - front to back, and underneath and create a cross. Using the yarn create a loop by putting the yarn round the needle anti clockwise. Bring the right needle back out of the left loop. Then put the left needle through the loop on the right needle, by bringing from the back towards the front. You should now have 2 loops over the left needle and still one over the right. Slip the right needle out of the loop that is still on there and tighten the yarn. I'm sure my explanation isn't great, so here's a link to a you tube video on how to do it:

She then sat me down in the shop and using the needles and yarn I was going to buy and got me to practice. The yarn I've bought is a skein. It's great as you can keep the label on, and as mentioned before (in previous blog) if you dig around in the middle it pulls out nicely for you to knit straight from.

She had to show me twice how to do it, as I managed to get the first part but had quickly forgotten the second part. After I had casted on a couple of stitches, she had a look commented how it was looking and got me to carry on until I had done 19 stitches. I manged to do 20, which she didn't mind. Once I completed my casting on, she then asked me to start knitting using the knit stitch (also known as the garter stitch). I done a couple of rows and she showed me a tip on how to make it look neater.

Tip - Once you complete a row, look at your needle (The yarn at the end must be facing you), and to make the whole row neater and more even using the spare needle pull gently at the yarn in middle of the loops just below the needle.

I then knitted a couple more rows and didn't feel the need to stay in the shop for much longer. I could have stayed there until she shut as I'm sure Mrs Jones would have given me more tips. She was pleased with what I had done and complemented me on my work so far. I didn't know what to say so I ended up saying it's inherited, in which she said I think there maybe something in that!

There were a constant stream of customers (even a couple of male customers) coming through the shop and she makes sure she helps everyone. A couple of the customers that came in had been there before and she remembers them which is really nice! I can't wait until I'm next in the store to see her.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

I knit and wool

The shop I visited is called I knit -

It's a small shop, but has lots of books and a good selection of wool. I asked the guy in the shop, I know I need needles and wool, but where to I start he said to me, first you need wool. I also asked if they had any books for beginners. He pointed and told me where the shelf for beginners books were - which is where I had just been looking. I asked if he recommended any. In which he told me. I looked at all the books, but there were so many that had patterns for babies which didn't suit me, so I went for a book called stitch 'n bitch. It's an American book, and some of the drawings to describe how to do the knit and purl stitch aren't fantastic, but the layout of the book, the funky patterns and the way the put things is definitely for the younger person. Generally the way it describes things are also good and easy to understand.

As most beginners will tell you, the easiest thing to do first is a scarf using the knit stitch. This is because you practice doing what is probably the most important stitch and what the whole hobby is called from it!

Once deciding what you want to make, you need to decide which wool you are going to use. This is more important than deciding the needles and a sort of mistake I've made.

There are 5 types of wool - 4ply/ baby, Sport/ double knit (DK), Aran/ worsted weight, Chunky/ bulky and Extra or Super bulky.

For your first project I strongly recommend (and it did say this in the stitch 'n bitch book which I didn't take the advice from) using a chunky or super bulky wool. It's big and think and you can create scarves quickly and as you are using bigger needles it makes it easy to learn to do the basics, as well as having to cast on fewer stitches.

There are lots of things mentioned on the label of the wool you pick. There are the suggested needle size, what kind of wool it is (wool, alpaca, mohair, cotton, silk or angora), length, washing instructions and one you have to take into consideration when picking up more than one from the same manufacturer is the colour and dye number. If buying more than one of the same colour make sure it's from the same lot, other wise you could find you have slightly different shades of the same colour.

Once you've chosen your wool, check out the size needles you will need. The size needles you will need are stated on the label for the wool. I would suggest using either 9mm (US 13) or 10mm (US 15). I don't like really chunky items, so the size 9mm or 10mm still makes it fairly big, but not as bulky. Also as a beginner don't spend too much on wool. You can buy nicer and more expensive wool when you become better.

I bought Aran wool (which wasn't cheap), and have 5mm (US 8) needles but the results are so much slower. I didn't know how many rows to cast on so the first time round created to many. I then decided to start again but to use 40 stitches, which still feels like a lot and I wonder if I'll ever make a scarf.

 Last thing on wool. Wool comes in 3 shapes when you buy it from the store - a ball, a skein and a hank. If the wool comes in a ball you'll be ready to start immediately. If the wool comes in a skein, the wool is still ready for you to star knitting, but you will have to go hunting around to find the end. If you get a hank which is a big twist of wool, you will have to take the time to make it into a ball. If you don't have anyone to help you, untwist the hank so you have a big loop and put it over your neck. Untie the end and start wrapping it into a ball. This does take a bit of time, but it's quite satisfying once all the wool is in a ball!

When it comes to deciding which needles to use, if you can get wooden needles, they are always nicer to hold than metal ones. I've been told, that wooden needles are better for your fingers too, as i've discovered you use the tips of your fingers a lot when trying to knit. Wooden needles are slightly more expensive (average £5) than metal (usually aluminium), but not by much unless you are buying a really expensive wood.

I was overwhelmed when I had to decide what I needed, when if I had had some explain the types of wool and what is suitable for a beginner then maybe I wouldn't have been. Don't worry about getting all the other bits that books suggest for your kit just yet. Until you've perfected the knit stitch and purl stitch and some of the other basics (which as a beginner myself I'm no where near) you don't need other stuff for your kit.

I'm now at the point I want to go back to the shop and buy some thicker wool and bigger needles, so I get to do the scarves and perfect my technique quicker.