Wednesday, April 29, 2015

More Tips for Knitting Lace

Check Ravelry, look at comments and check for errata before starting to knit.

Look at the schematic. If there isn’t one, draw the shape and the direction of the knitting.

It’s all about mind set. If you think you can, you’re right, if you think you can’t, you’re right!

Choose lace stitch patterns with strong visual design lines.

Stitch patterns with wrong side rest (purl) rows are easier to learn.

LACE knitting has REST rows, kniTTed lace has paTTern on both sides.

Enlarge the chart if it’s difficult to see.

Colour around the repeats if chart is black and white.

Understand stitch orientation. The yarn goes over the needle from the front to the back. The front leg is on the right, the back leg is at the left. When working yarn overs before and after purl stitches maintain stitch orientation. Try reversing stitch orientation, if knitting style creates holes of varying size.

Lace patterns with static stitch numbers have a decrease to match every increase. Lace which grows in size, has extra yarn overs.

Work out how to splice your yarn before you start the project based on the fibre content. Can you do a felted join with moisture and friction? Will a Russian join work? Are you comfortable weaving in ends?

Put charts in the order to be knit. Sometimes publishing space concerns create reverse order layouts. Just photocopy the pattern and rearrange.

When reading charts, knit the right side from right to left. Knit the wrong side, reading left to right.

Repeat sections are marked on the chart, knit to the repeat, knit the repeat as many times as it fits in the number of stitches on the needle, knit any additional stitches outside the repeat to end the row. Extra stitches beside the repeat are there to make balanced complete patterns.

Use different colours and styles of markers to mark off different sections; for example pattern repeats vs. borders.

Use lifelines. To create a lifeline, finish a row of knitting and then using a needle, thread a smooth yarn such as cotton, in a contrasting colour through the line of stitches on the needle. Make sure the contrast colour dye does not rub off. Use a length longer than the width of the work plus enough to tie knots at each end so you can still spread the work out fully. It’s easier to work in the centre of a circular needle or off of a smaller needle. If you make a mistake, you can rip back to the row held by the lifeline, replace the stitches back onto your needle, and start the row over. Be sure not to thread the lifeline through your markers.

If you miss working a yarn over, simply lift the strand between the stitches and work into it.

Do a swatch of the pattern stitch and analyze how the stitches relate to one another in all four directions.

How to remember the direction of decreases: 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Prudence Or Deborah?

I was recently asked to explain the difference between these two patterns by a knitter who was trying to choose between the two. The Deborah Beresford Vest pictured at left was the second version. This vest was designed to take advantage of the many colours available from Shelridge Yarns. Two strands of yarn are held together: one colour is switched out at a time to create the colour transitions.It’s an updated version of The Prudence Crowley Vest with a different stitch pattern. The pattern uses simple reverse stocking stitch borders on the armholes and bottom edges to allow for easy finishing with multiple yarn ends.

The fit of both vests is very forgiving and will flatter many body shapes. The classic vest back gives the garment structure, while the front is constructed as a simple straight piece of knitting with angled edges creating points at the front. The colour changes create a strong, slimming vertical line on the front of the body. The front edges fold back into a shawl collar. The simple textured stitch patterns lay flat and create a gentle transition at each colour change, subtly blending the shades.

Each vest is worked in two pieces. The back is knit from the bottom edge up. The front is knit in one long section like a sideways scarf with increases at each end. The edges of the vest back on Prudence are self finishing and include instructions to smooth the normally used uneven stair step bind off methods. It was designed with self striping yarns in mind. These projects are a wonderful introduction to garments for the beginner, as there are no buttonholes and minimal sewing. The front edges can be folded back into a shawl collar shape or left to stand high on your neck. 

Deborah has a slightly more drapey feel on the body. It's a little heavier due to the double standing of the fingering weight yarn. I've weighed my samples, the difference is 127 grams. This version also allows the knitter to completely customize their colour choices. Just chose a range of colours knit from dark to light and back to dark again in sequence.

Friday, April 24, 2015

An Interview with...Jutta von Hinterm Stein

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world. 

You can find Jutta here, and here is her Ravelry group.

Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere - In Architecture, Techniques, Materials, Surfaces, Nature, Fashion, Movies …  – There are so many ideas, that I could preoccupy myself for the next two hundred years … so exciting! Sometimes I wake up during night with the solution of a construction problem or with a new idea - there is always a little pad on my nightstand for notes and scribbles.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
A new technique with every new project! And: mindless stockinette stitch.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
To my opinion, a new design is just a new way to interpret and combine what one has seen somewhere someday. There are so talented designers, so many inspiring ideas! Wouldn’t it be a pity to miss them?

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
When I started knitting, I had a grandma and a yarn store, where I could ask for help. If you order your yarn and pattern online, you are alone. And then a detailed pattern is quite helpful. On the other hand, a pattern for a simple sweater, with 10 or more pages of instructions, might be quite a deterrent.
To me, this is a funny question, as my way was the opposite around. My first patterns were very simple. Similar to 80-ies style German Knitting Magazines, just the most important instructions - expecting the knitter to know what to do (or where to ask). Now my patterns are much, much longer and detailed. Including schematics, row-by-row and stitch-by-stitch instructions, pictures of details, photo tutorials for uncommon techniques, and, and, and … But I will not teach the basics. This is the job of knitting classes – or YouTube.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
Usually 1-2 per size and language. My first prototype is knit by myself, sometimes a second one is necessary. Fortunately I have a pool of very helpful and patient test knitters – they all deserve my particular thanks! 

Did you do a formal business plan?
Actually my knitting and designing is not a real business. But I take it very seriously and try to act as professional as possible, spending uncountable hours to bring a new pattern along, responding to any question within a few hours and spending a lot of time in my Ravelry group.

Do you have a mentor?
Not in a common sense. Except if you would accept my husband as a mentor? – Or the many friendly knitters on Ravelry who supported my activities with their nice comments and warm hearts!

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
My little “designing-career” started by chance, when I discovered Ravelry. The positive response to my first project was absolutely unexpected, and a knitter asked if there would be instructions. That’s how my first pattern occurred. - And then so many knitters downloaded this first pattern! That was a real WOW-moment. (In the meantime I learned, that free patterns are always popular, but at that time it inspired me to continue). Much later I started to look around what other designers do. And tried hard to act more professional.

How are you using social media to grow your business?
Oops, that’s my weak point ... I have a Ravelry group that keeps me busy. Up to now I did not find the time for a homepage or any other social media. I know, this is an omission in modern life, but I prefer to spend my time knitting and writing patterns.

Do you use a tech editor?
Not yet, but I have often, very often thought about it! All my patterns are tested by experienced knitters. Of course it might be easier and time-saving to employ a tech editor, but some issues appear only while knitting a piece. It is very helpful to hear the opinion of a knitter working through the pattern.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
If you ask my husband, he would tell you that 110% of my free time is filled with knitting-stuff. Actually it is only 90%.

How do you deal with criticism?
Any feedback is welcome and important to me. It helps to improve.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I really don’t know, how long it will last …

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Do not hurry. Give yourself time to review and rethink what you are doing, and how you are doing it.

What’s next for you?
The release of my Cross Pockets Cardigan is planned for the next few days, and two more cardigans are on the way. This summer’s program is a revision of my older patterns (the ones in “German abstract style”).  And there are so many new ideas that want to be knitted … every moment a new one arising!