TBT – Prevent twisted stitches when you are an odd duck

Throwback Thursday:

Twisted Sister – Good, Twisted Stitches, Bad.

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My grandmother used to make us grand-kids the most adorable sweaters. The pattern she used was: “Quick-to-Knit” Animal Vests 3 by Leasure Arts – Leaflet #710 for $3.25 Canadian. I still have the original pattern although it is falling apart. Thank god I don’t have an old photo of us. No ideas Sherrie and Becky!

I begged my mom for that pattern because I wanted to make a cute animal vest for my son and I knew that the pattern was fairly simple. I figured it would make a perfect first project. It really did. It even taught me a great lesson in the importance of how stitches sit on the needle.

Check out these pics: See the difference in the fabric? The bottom half has twisted stitches. The top half is after I figured out what was wrong:

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If you watch the video you’ll see that it took me the entire back side and half of the front to realize that I was twisting every other row of stitches. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Every direction I read told me that to make a knit stitch I had to insert my needle to the left of the yarn at the front of the stitch. So I did. And my stitches twisted. What on earth!!

Check out the way Knitting.about.com explains the knit stitch and the photo they use. Maybe I went there for advice. Who knows. But I didn’t realize that my problems was actually not only the way I knit my stitches but the way I purled them.

I’m odd. My purl stitches are odd. I’m OK with that and you can be too. Maybe your purl stitch is normal but your knit stitch just doesn’t want to sit in its seat properly. My video above will show you how to adjust your knitting so you don’t have to adjust your purling (or vice versa) just give it a watch.

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See the photo above? It is hard to see that your stitches are “seated” wonky if they are on your needle but pretend the stitch markers on my pencil are the stitches on your knitting. The blue markers are the way stitches are “supposed” to be seated. Or at least they are the way that most patterns expect the stitches should be on the needle when they are trying to write directions for you. The yarn “should” come up the front of the needle from the right and then back down the back of the needle to the left. The purple markers are the way my stitches sit after I’ve purled them. They come up the back of the needle and down the front of the needle to the left. As usual – I just have to be different.

After I realized what was happening with my knitting I adjusted. I have to be aware of my oddity because my knit stitches seat properly it is only my purl stitches that sit wonky on the needle. So as I’m working I’m always aware of how each stitch is sitting as I approach it. If the yarn that’s coming in from the right goes up the back of the needle, I make sure to put the “back” yarn on the right side of my needle as I insert it. If the yarn that is coming in from the right is at the front of my needle, I can make a “normal” knit stitch by putting my needle in with the front yarn to the right of my needle.

At first it took a lot of thought but now it is second nature. I could have changed the way I purled so that all my stitches were seated “properly” but like I said, “I just have to be different.” and I like the way I purl. It is fast. It is comfortable and it is easier for me to adjust the way I think about my knitting than it is to change the physical movements required to make each purl.

Normal (Left) and Twisted (Right) stitches:

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F Number – Fibonacci is not a dirty word!!

For a while now I have been aware of the correlation between knitting and mathematics. As knitters we are constantly counting stitches and rows and memorizing patterns.

Recently I bought The book, Stitch ‘n Bitch: Superstar Knitting and have been reading it like it was a mystery novel. The biggest plot twist for me was a chapter devoted to the Fibonacci Sequence. It sounds like something out of The Da Vinci code and actually it is! The Da Vinci Code examines the F Sequence as the main character uses it to crack a code left by a deceased museum curator.

Your high-school or college teachers probably told you about the F sequence or F numbers but most of us never thought we would ever find a practical use for them in our everyday lives.

Biologists can probably tell you the significance of the F numbers as they are present in almost every plant. The ever elusive four leaf clover is elusive because four is not a F number. You see flower petals, seeds and leaves come in quantities of: one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty one, thirty two, fifty three, eighty five … Do you see a pattern? It is probably not coincidence that these numbers have such a strong correlation to nature since they can also be used to create an aesthetically pleasing set of “random” stripes for knitters.

After ready my F Sequence chapter in Stitch ‘n Bitch, I decided to give it a try with a couple of baby blankets I had planned to make. I love the look of random stripes but my random stripes never looked good like the ones in the magazines. What did they know that I didn’t? The F sequence!

OK the f sequence numbers are found by adding the last number to the one in front of it. So if you start with one then the next number is one (the number before) plus the number before it (zero). So now you have one as your first number and one again as your second number. Our third number is one plus one. Now we have 1, 1, 2. And you can go on calculating the F numbers from there. The official F numbers are:
1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 …

You can also use the same formula used to find the F numbers and start with a random number like four which is not an official F number.
4,4,8,12,20,32,52…
But notice that these numbers are all corresponding with the F numbers.

I chose to use these numbers to count my pattern repeats in my blanket. My repeats were four rows long. But instead of counting row I counted the repeats. One repeat then four rows of another color then two repeats of my next color then three repeats of the last color petting the F numbers guide me. I chose to start again at one repeating from the beginning each time but you also can reverse the patern until you are back at one again.
To make sure my 1 repeat row of knitting wasn’t always the same color I decided to use 5 colors but only 4 F numbers so that my colors shifted through the pattern.

Not every striped blanket I see uses the F numbers to decide the thickness of each stripe and I haven’t figured out what mathematical formula they are using but for once I created a striped blanket that looks random and nice at the same time.

 

Owl is fine – I’ve been busy!

I know I haven’t posted lately but it is because I have been spending every waking moment knitting for a baby shower. With just one weeks notice I knocked out two stroller blankets and designed this great little baby sweater for my friends twins. I based this pattern on an old pattern from Leisure Arts and Designed by Joan Beebe although it was heavily modified.

I chose a 2×2 ribbing and shifted the little owls down so they would sit out on a nice chubby belly. I added some buttons on one shoulder to make access easier and then also improvised an owl from one I had a picture of but no pattern. It was easy enough to figure out that the owl was made from C2B/C2F combinations. The wings were smaller versions of the birdie wings featured in the Beebe pattern.
I specifically knit on the purl side when joining the blue and then the brown again because I really like that “stitching” effect that you get seeing the purl side of a new color.

The blue color was a slightly thinner yarn so I jumped up two sizes for my needles but that area does pull a little. I think it still works although in the future I plan to ONLY use yarns that are the same weight.

Each owl has his own set of button eyes and each are different. First because I was using stash buttons and I couldn’t find six the same and secondly it gives each owl his own personality!!

I had fun with this project and am working on another version for the little girl that is on the way. Lets hope I have more than one week’s notice to get the next one finished.