Just because we’re working with yarn scraps, there’s no reason for our knitting to look amateurish. Today I’m going to give you two tips to elevate your knitting to a professional level.
This week, we’ve been working with yarn scraps from last year’s reviews of Universal Yarns. On Tuesday, we made a soft, fluffy cowl, and yesterday, we adapted a different cowl pattern to make it with a different yarn.
Today’s yarn selection is Deluxe Dk Tweed Superwash, a nice, soft 90% wool, whose acrylic and viscose content comes from the flecks incorporated into the yarn to make it a tweed.
In searching for a pattern, I went to the Universal Yarn website, but kept coming up empty. I have full ball – 284 yds/ 259m / 100g – of Deluxe Dk Tweed. While this may not seem like a true scrap of yarn, knitters often have an extra ball-and-a-bit remaining after finishing a sweater. This will easily make a hat, but I burned my bridge with hats last year when I made more than a dozen hats for charity. I don’t want to see a hat pattern for another year or two. If you want to make a hat, 100g of double knitting/ DK will be plenty for almost all patterns. It should also be enough to make a pair of mitts. There are numerous patterns on the Universal Yarn website for any of these items.
I could pull out my “box of bits” to stretch out the yarn. The walnut brown of the Deluxe Dk Tweed is a good main color, to “anchor” the bits.
There were patterns for DK yarn I could just cast on and knit — the Reune mitts, long fingerless mitts that cover much of the forearm, and the Paprika Seed Cowl. The short version of the Splatter Lace Cowl would also work. But, I wanted a challenge to knit, and something that would provide a teaching element. I considered the Cozy Snood, as it is made of Fisherman Rib, but, I only have enough yarn to make about 8″ of it’s 13″ width.
I settled on the Flint Ridge Scarf. It requires two balls of yarn, but it’s 72″ long plus a fringe, so I should get just over 36″ of length – enough for a man’s scarf . I showed the picture to my guy, and asked him if he thought the open areas were too lacy. When he said no, I saw my green light.
Elevating your cast on
A lot of people use one cast on for all their knitting. I most commonly use one of three, depending on what I’m doing.
I use a ribbed long-tail cast on when the pattern begins with ribbing.
If I won’t see the cast on edge (when I’ll be enclosing the cast on into a seam), or when I’m going to jump right into stockinette stitch in the round, I use a knitted on or cable cast on.
When a pattern starts with garter stitch worked back-and-forth (as this pattern does), I use the long tail cast on. Here’s why:
Either the knitted or cable cast-on creates knit “bumps” on the back of the work. At the end of the cast on, we don’t turn the work: the stitches are formed on the left needle, and we knit from them. Knitting that the first row forms a second row of “bumps” on one side of the work, the same way it happens in stockinette st.
A long tail cast on “builds” the stitches onto the right-hand needle. The bumps also form at the back of the work, however, when we turn the work, those bumps end up at the front of the work, and the first row of knitting creates a more natural ridge of garter stitch.
Elevating your edges
Once the lower garter stitch border is complete, we need to consider those garter stitch edges. These little blighters have a natural tendency to curl to the purl side of the work when they’re adjacent to stockinette stitch, reverse stockinette stitch, or cables.
Why does this happen, and what can we do about it?
In relation to stockinette stitch, garter stitch spreads out horizontally and compresses vertically. It makes a neat edge, which is why designers choose it. Designers, however, rarely write a solution for the curling issue into their patterns. Why? because it breaks the “flow” of the written pattern.
My solution is to choose an interim number of rows, and make short rows at the edges to ‘build up” the garter stitch to approximate the height of the knitting in the middle. Two rows of garter stitch take up less height than the height of two rows of stockinette stitch. Adding short rows at intervals helps to keep the garter stitch edge from drawing in so much that it pulls toward the purl side of the work.
You can get quite scientific about this by referring to your tension swatch, measuring the number of garter stitch ridges and center panel rows, and working with the data. Or, you can extend your tension swatch to experiment.
I always make sure I add short rows at regularly-spaced intervals. Short rows usually show, but when done at regular intervals, they either blend in with the rest of the work or appear as a design element. Like many cable patterns, the Flint Ridge Scarf pattern helps us out, because we can do the short rows at the cable rows, which makes them much less noticeable. And, these cables have an 8 row repeat, which should be just enough to minimize the curling. I make a note on my pattern or chart where I want to add my short rows (SR).
You may think that these “tweaks” I’m making are fussy, but I’ve been knitting for over 50 years. I’ve learned that these small tweaks elevate your knitting to a professional-looking level. I hope you find them useful in your knitting life!
You’ve GOT to come back for tomorrow’s post to see my last scrap yarn project — you won’t believe it’s made of all scraps.