Sunday, November 23, 2008

L-Shaped Designs

Like many knitters, I do not like to do finishing. I am embarrassed to admit how many UFOs (unfinished objects) I have sitting around just waiting to have a few seams sewn! Because of this, often when I design I like to come up with a concept that requires little or no finishing.

The two shawls shown here were born out of this concept. I thought an L-shape would make a nice wrap which would stay well on the shoulders, but I did not want to knit it in two pieces. Both garments start with a large number of stitches knit flat on circular needles and then decrease down to the more narrow side of the "L". The self striping yarn used in both create different directionality when the the shawl is draped over the shoulders--that is one side has horizontal stripes and the other vertical (not necessarily evident in the styling shown in the pictures here). Also, the stripes on the long side are narrower than the stripes on the short side.

The "Self-Striping Shawl" is the easier of the two. It has a seed stitch border which is knit as you go along. It is knit in Artful Yarns Broadway and the pattern can be found in the book Vogue Knitting on the Go: Shawls.

The "Wooly Stripes Wrap" is only slightly more complicated (depending on whether you think intarsia is complicated :-) It is knit in a similar method to the other shawl, however the seed stitch border is applied with the intarsia method. This makes the colors in the self striping yarn creep slowly along the edge, in contrast to the thinner stripes on the interior. It is knit in Nashua Handknits Wooly Stipes yarn. The pattern is available in Nashua Handknits North American Lifestyles: Stripes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mock Fair Isle Vest

Believe it or not, this is also half linen stitch. When you alternate colors every 2 rows you get a pattern that looks very much like fair isle. The nice thing about this technique is you only use one color at a time across each row, so there is no need to carry along more than one color as in fair isle. The only downside is the look of the color pattern is limited. But if you like the look of fair isle knitting, and have difficulty carrying colors, aka stranding, across the back or have tension problems, this technique could work for you.

The "Mock Fair Isle Vest" appeared in Knit Simple Magazine, Fall 2006. It is knit in South West Trading Company Karaoke in one main color and three contrasting colors. Confession: This was meant to be a woman's vest, but the magazine decided to make it a man's vest. So I would say it is really unisex.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Half Linen Stitch Purse

The next design is a cousin of the last sweater. The "Lipstick Bag" is so named because it is meant to be a small dressy bag just big enough for a lipstick and a few other essentials. It is knitted with Nashua Handknits Grand Opera along with Creative Focus Ribbon. The same half linen stitch ribbing used in the sweater is at the top of the bag, with an extension of the middle ribs on one side forming a flap closure. The closure ends with a large bead the weight of which keeps the bag closed. The body of the bag is a variation of half linen stitch with Grand Opera and the ribbon yarn alternated every 2 rows.

This pattern is available in the Nashua Handknits North American Designer Bags pattern book.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Half Linen Stitch Sweater

This sweater design was inspired by a ribbing I discovered that incorporates half linen stitch. The "Ruffled V-Neck Pullover" starts with a ruffle, then changes to half linen stitch to the waist, then the nifty half linen ribbing to define the waist, and finally stockinette stitch up to the neck and shoulders. The sleeves start with the half linen ribbing, change to half linen stitch and then to stockinette stitch. Stitches are then picked up at one neck edge for the ruffle.

This sweater has some nice features, I believe, from a knitter's point of view. The body shaping is simple. Because of the ribbing at the waist, there are no increases or decreases required in the body to attain the defined waist of the sweater. Also, stitch patterns frequently change through out the body and sleeves, making it a more interesting sweater to knit than just plain stockinette stitch.

The "Ruffled V-Neck Pullover" is knit in Nashua Handknits Grand Opera. The pattern is in the Nashua Handknits Theater pattern book.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Half Linen Stitch

Some might say I have an unnatural obsession with half linen stitch. While I was aware of half linen stitch, it 1st caught my fancy after a class I took with Sally Melville. The topic was colorwork, half linen stitch was only a small section of the class, but afterward I started playing with it.

There are a number of things which appeal to me about this stitch. I like the somewhat woven appearance, the texture and that it is flatter than stockinette stitch. It looks different if you do it all with one color vs. alternating colors every 2 rows. If you use a larger knitting needle than required for a yarn, it can also look lacy.

My 1st professional design which featured half linen stitch was for Artful Yarns. It is a poncho knitted as one rectangle, folded in half and then seamed along one shoulder. Both ends of the knitted piece start with a furry yarn, so when it is folded the fur ends up on only one side of the poncho. The body of the poncho is knit in Artful Yarns Cinema and the fur yarn is Galaxy. I think ribbon yarns are well suited to half linen stitch because you get a nice flat float across the front, which is why I used Cinema for this design.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Basketweave Intarsia Halter Top

This is the last (for the moment) of the basketweave intarsia garments. I particularly love this one because I think the design is ingenious (if I do say so myself). I developed it because I thought the squares could lend themselves to a halter top shape and by noodling I figured out a configuration that would work.

Like the original scarf, this top is knit on the bias, starting in this case with two squares and then adding and subtracting squares as needed to obtain the shape. However, like the preceding wraps, I used two different yarns for the garter and stockinette squares, in this case Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Ribbon (alas discontinued) and Cilantro. These yarns give it a nice drape.

This pattern can be found in the Nashua Handknits North American Lifestyles: Seashore pattern book.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Basketweave Intarsia Wraps

The next two designs I will group together since they are similar. The concept is the same as the scarf from the previous post except I used two different yarns for the intarsia squares: a mohair blend for the garter squares and a ribbon yarn for the stockinette squares.

The 1st wrap, called the "Stairstep Wrap" appeared in Knit Simple Magazine Winter 2005 and was knit from two Kertzer yarns, Overture and Sari. One edge of the caplet is straight, while the other edge has a stepped effect. This design also starts with one square and builds from there.

The "Step Lively Shawl" is the 2nd wrap and was knit with two Classic Elite yarns, La Gran Mohair and Potpourri. This shawl also starts with one square and builds out, but is symmetrical and has ribbon fringe at the corners of the edge squares. This pattern is available for purchase from the iKnitiative pattern line.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Basketweave Intarsia

The next knitting design theme I will present is what I call "Basketweave Intarsia". Now I know some people say that nothing in knitting is really ever new, but I do have to say I came up with this on my own, and I have never seen anyone else with a design incorporating this technique. This being said, I am sure people will come up with many references--but I welcome that if it's the case!

What I did was take the basketweave stitch and turn it into intarsia. There are a number of stitches I have seen which can make knitting look woven, but what I am talking about here is alternating a series of knit and purl stitches on one side and all knit stitch on the other side (the all knit side turns out to be the front or right side with this stitch pattern). So on the right side, some squares are stockinette stitch and the other squares are garter stitch. Then I used one yarn or colorway for the garter squares and a different one for the stockinette squares, so each square is an intarsia block.

This first design is the "other" scarf design I submitted to Vogue Knitting Magazine along with the one that appeared on the cover. It is called the "Diamond Scarf" and is in VK Winter 2003/04 and also in the book "Vogue Knitting Accessorize". The scarf is knit in Noro Kureyon (okay so I had a little Kureyon obsession--I promise the next design won't use any...) working off two different skeins, with bobbins made and used in the order they came off the skeins. Each skein was used exclusively either for garter or stockinette squares. So that added to the woven look. For extra complication, it was also started with one square, knit on the bias, adding and subtracting squares as needed to achieve the jagged edges.

Just as an aside, after the magazine came out, my mom went to a friend's house and found someone there she knew making this scarf. The woman, who knew my mom, had no idea that I was the designer. Small world!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Squares Gone Wild!

This next "Square-in-a-square" project is a bit more offbeat than the 1st two. It is a shawl called the "Fair & Square Wrap". Like the poncho, it is also made with Noro Kureyon & Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed. However, the squares are not placed along the border, but rather all over the wrap. Those squares which dared to breech the seed stitch border and meet the front or bottom edge have i-cord fringe dangling from them. I especially like the back view of the shawl. This pattern is also available from the iKnitiative pattern line.

There are two more designs on this "squares" theme, but one is out for consideration to be published. The other--I have not yet decided whether to send it out, publish the pattern myself, or save it for the book I hope to write someday...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Square-In-A-Square Redux

This poncho design was obviously inspired by my VK scarf in that it has the square-in-a-square motif on the border done with the same technique of separating the long color runs from Noro Kureyon. However, I used a tweedy solid yarn for the border and body of the poncho. The designing was a little tricky in that the poncho is made with two rectangles and so the border must be knit on one horizontal and one vertical side of each piece. Therefore the row gauge had to be just right for the squares to match up where the seams met. I also had to add an extra stitch to each square that would be worked into the seam so the squares would still be square after the seam was sewn.

The original poncho is actually the pastel colorway in the second picture here (modeled by my daughter, a number of years ago). The main color yarn is discontinued. When the iKnitiative pattern company expressed interest in purchasing this design, it required reknitting the poncho in a currently available yarn. So the squares are again knit in Noro Kureyon, while the main color yarn is Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed. This pattern, called "Poncho Squared", is available for sale through the iKnitiative website.

I still have the original pastel poncho (which is much more "my" colors) and love to wear it even though some would say ponchos are no longer "in".

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I was reminded by an online friend that November is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). So I thought I would use that as an excuse to finally get this blog started. It has been sitting here semi-set up, but with no blog entries for quite some time.

My thought to begin with is to post my designs, starting with some of the "themes" I have developed in my work. The very first design I had published ended up on the cover of Vogue Knitting magazine (how do you like that for beginner's luck)! This established what I have come to think of as my "Square-in-a-Square" theme. It was inspired by my love of Noro Kureyon yarn and also by Mags Kandis' squares (although her's are much smaller than mine).

[For the record, and for those of you keeping track, I actually submitted two designs to VK. These were the very 1st two designs I had ever submitted anywhere. Both were accepted and appeared in this issue of the magazine.]

I wanted to make a design which took advantage of the long color runs of the Kureyon yarn in more than one way in one garment. And so I came up with the scarf known in VK as the "Multi-Pink Scarf" which appeared on the cover of Vogue Knitting Winter 2003/04, and also in the book "Vogue Knitting Accessorize".

The border of the scarf is done in seed stitch and is made using the intarsia method. This causes the color runs to be stretched out very loooong. The squares on the ends are made by separating each color run and making it into a bobbin (or butterfly--I prefer butterflies when doing instarsia, but that's just me). There was no rhyme or reason as to how I laid out the colors for the squares; it was just what looked pleasing to me and created enough color contrast between the inner and outer squares. Then the main body of the scarf was just knit from the ball as it came. This created much shorter color runs.

My next post will feature another "Square-in-a-Square" item.