Beautiful Knitting

Where Mt.Mom knits, crochets, designs, and seeks Beauty as food for the soul.

Archive from Feb. 2007

Posted by mtmom on May 29, 2007

Feb. 27, 2007 “All Socks Considered. . .”


Excepting the green socks in progress, these are all the socks I’ve made up until now, in more or less chronological order.  From L to R:  the striped pair from Knitting Without Tears (one of my absolute favorite-of-all-times knitting books, by Elizabeth Zimmermann), a white heel-only (Homespun Handknits) and a brown heel-only (Simple Socks:  Plain and Fancy), 2 calf-only portions with color patterns and shaped heels from Homespun Handknits and Socks, Socks, Socks, a tennis-sock with separate heel and instep (from one of those last 2 books), a plain blue sock with short-row heel and toe  and a pair with contrasting-heel-&-toe (Simple Socks), and a toe-heel-cuff sampler of double-knit shaping techniques from Beverly Royce’s book Notes on Double Knitting.  I recall another tennis sock, which I’m unable to find today, but which included a rolled cuff and color-work on the heel flap.

I have socks on my mind because I’ve entered the Sock Madness 2007 tournament and received my official welcome message last night.  To enter, I had to bring to mind how many total pairs of socks I’d made.  Only the 2 pair were made to fit actual (children’s) feet, so I labeled myself a “novice”, but I *have* tried out several techniques on an experimental basis. . . .

And here is a swatch-in-progress.  Called “Cross” or “Happiness Sign”, this motif is described by Elsebeth Lavold in her (exciting) book, Viking Patterns for Knitting.  The technique she developed – I’d call it an “unvention”, a la EZ – for bringing cables out of nowhere and into nowhere, with minimal fabric-distortion, is . . . well . . . amazing!  I am thoroughly enjoying this one.



I think this is my last library book for a while.  [Note to myself:  it’s definitely been nicer having just one book home at a time.]  And that’s good for several reasons.  For one thing, I can give more attention to already-pending projects, and for another, I’ll want to clear the decks a bit if I’m going to do some serious sock-knitting for SockMadness.  I’m hoping it’ll be fun and a bit (but not TOO much) of a challenge.


Feb. 26, 2007  “Ribbing Back Backwards”

Ribbing Back Backwards – a brief Tutorial.

While working a narrow strip of ribbing for one of Nicky Epstein’s collar embellishments (Knitting Beyond the Edge, pages 9 – 10), I could see the benefit of knitting back backwards rather than turning the whole project after every 7 stitches.  I’ve never seen instructions for doing this in ribbing, only for knit stitches like in entrelac, so I’m going to try to show how I did it, gentle reader.

When knitting backwards, the right needle holds the “old” stitches, and the left is the active needle, making the “new” stitches.  I usually carry my yarn in my left hand, so likewise here.

For a knit stitch, hold the yarn behind the work . . .


and insert the left needle from front to back through the back of the old stitch.  (Sorry, combination-knitters; I’m not so sure of the details for your situation.  Just put the needle in from whichever angle makes the stitch “open up” vs twist.)


Grab a loop with the needle tip, or else wrap the yarn around the tip.  For wrapping, the yarn should go back then up then forward then down between the needle and the fabric.  This makes the new loop lie on the needle in the same orientation as usual:  the right leg of the stitch on the front of the needle, and the left leg behind the needle as you look at it from the front/top.  (I think you can see the diagonal-ness of the new stitch in the photo.)


Pull the new loop through to the front and let the old stitch fall off the right needle to the back of the fabric.


Bring the yarn to the front, ready for the next stitch – because in 1×1 ribbing the next stitch is a purl.


Insert the left needle through the “leading” (here, the back) leg of the stitch on the right needle from back to front, reaching toward the waiting yarn.


The direction for the wrap was tricky to figure out, to execute, and to photograph.  To get the yarn to lie on the needle in the correct orientation, vs reversed,  take it down and back toward the fabric, then up between the fabric and left needle tip, then toward you forward and down.

Hold it down while you pull/push the loop through to the back and the yarn slides around the needle tip a bit to settle into position. [Amazing!]

The old stitch comes off the right needle.  Move the yarn back to the back side of the fabric, ready for the next (knit) stitch.

And on we go!

As Meg Swansen says, “Isn’t knitting amazing?!”


Feb. 22, 2007 “Seasons”

Welcome to Lent! . . . and to more swatches.

For those who observe the “Church Year”, we are entering a new liturgical season:  Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday inaugurate the season of Lent, the time leading up to Easter.  The idea of a cycle of seasons is intended to regularly bring different facets of the Christian life and belief into focus, avoiding any neglect of those less to our “taste”.  I find it very enriching.  For a part of each year, we turn our gaze, in turn, onto the future, in anticipation and hope, and onto the past, celebrating what God has already done in history.  Onto the majesty and deity of Christ, and then onto the events of his earthly life, his humanity, his teachings.  Inward, in self-examination and repentance, and outward in acts of kindness, love, patience, and mercy.  I might tend toward one extreme or the other, but the cycle of seasons encourages me to expand my perspective, to stretch and to grow in my understanding and in my practice.

Knitting has seasons too; don’t you think?
Although not so formalized. . . .

Some knitters are “on again, off again”, and some of us never seem to lose steam.  A designer may experience a “dry” spell.  I have lately been in an experimental phase, challenging myself with new books and swatching, trying textures, colors, shapings, embellishments.  I have moved through times of process-focused knitting where I concentrate on technique (TKGA Master Knitter program is very much like this, deep with detail but broad-ranging too) or on enjoyment (yummy yarns and visually pleasing patterns). But I also have experienced times of product-focused knitting where I have, say, 2 hats and 1 more scarf to go before some deadline, and I just-keep-going.  Some of these phases are imposed from without – the calendar – but most come from within – I just feel like bright colors, or like undyed natural fibers.  I don’t have a broader Plan, except to finish my Master Knitter requirements, and “get around to” a variety of projects from my running list of want-to’s and queue of yarns.

One allowance I’ve made for changing knitting-seasons and -moods is:  I usually have several different types of project on the needles at any given time. That way, whatever my knitting mood I’ll have something to pick up when I get some time:  something mindless, something challenging, something charitable, something of my own still-in-process design, something large, something quick, projects at several different gauges.  Then again, I’ve also been discovering the value of the discipline of sticking with one major project most of the time (currently the Ice Cream sweater).  It’s definitely fun to get to work on lots of different things, but it’s also deeply encouraging to see a large project  progressing toward actual completion!

On to current projects.

Inspired by Eva Wiechmann (Pursenalities and Pursenality Plus —nice selection of shapes and handle-treatments) and Bev Galeskas (Fiber Trends patterns and book Felted Knits – *great* basics about felting with various yarns and combinations IM”H”O), I combined some yarns I can get locally (we have no

but Michael’s and JoAnn) to experiment with colors and felting. 

Here I used Lion Brand “Wool” in variegated Majestic Mountain doubled with Cocoa, then with Purple, and finally with Cadet Blue, using garter stitch (smaller swatch) and stockinette with different needle sizes and in reverse color-order (larger swatch, on 15’s and 13’s).  I wish I’d taken a photo *before* felting, but here they are afterwards.  I put them in my front-loading washing machine with a pair of jeans and some Eucalan for about 30 minutes, in 10- and then 5-minute segments.  Note to myself:  I must remember to put them into the pillow-protector at the start of the process, not halfway through – sigh.  I’m considering making a purse.

And here are the swatches inspired by Ginger Luters’ Module Magic, also in Lion Brand Wool.  Colors are Autumn Sunset and Cadet Blue.  Needles size 7.  That book has had to go back before I really felt ready to give it up.  Sigh.  All will be well.


Feb. 17, 2007 “More books, more swatches!”


“Knitting is a complex and joyful act of creation in my everyday life.”

–Stephanie Pearl-McFee, in her introduction to Yarn Harlot.


This week, the books I’m reading or working through have included Yarn Harlot and Nicky Epstein’s Knitting Beyond the Edge.  Here are more photos of the swatches I’ve made while under the Epstein-influence.

To the swatch with textured stitch patterns (see last week’s post), I’ve added a braid, some mohair ruching, two flower embellishments, and a button-band.  If I sometime did the braid again, I would knit fewer rows on the 3 separate strands in order to make the final braid more snug.  This was my first time to use this particular mohair-blend; it’s Naturally “Kid et Soie” and I *liked* the feel of it.  I wonder if I have enough to make a headband?

This one is hard to see, probably because of the Simply Brite acrylic yarn’s shininess.  I like the twists a few rows after the CO.  Above that, I used different paired-increases at each of 4 peplum-spokes.  First (right to left) is kfb in one st and then the next also.  Second is a pair of raised increases – knitting into the side of a stitch in the row below, to the right of/before the first and the left of/after the second spoke stitch in this column.  Third, I used lifted incs – knitting into the running st between the spoke sts and their neighbors, right-leaning, k2, and then left-leaning.  The fourth spoke you can’t see (and I didn’t like it), but there I used k&p into the same st for each of the 2 spoke sts.  The fast rate of increase the author prescribes produced quite a flare. This swatch was fun to make.  I didn’t especially like the corkscrew beginning, but the following dimple stitch made up for that.  I repeated this one twice in the swatch, the second time adding beads at the intersections, — not by sewing as Nicky Epstein suggests, but with a crochet hook, as I’d learned from Syvia Harding’s delightful beading-tutorial/drawstring-pouch project [].

I hope to put together a little instructional-photo sequence on a technique I used to do one of the collar treatments in Beyond the Edge :  knitting back backwards in ribbing.  I’ll leave that to another post, Lord willing.

The next books in my stack are KnitLit (short stories), Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas (a personable gal), and Module Magic by Ginger Luters.  Further down the road I hope to do a few motifs from Elsebeth Lavold’s Viking Patterns for Knitting.  [Am I gonna be busy, or what?!  What treats!]

The Ice Cream Sweater is progressing.  <Sorry, no photo today.>  I’ve passed the 14”-mark and have just begun another color-stripe.  I won’t know for a few rounds how well it’ll go with the rest.  Sometimes things look different on a full-sized project than they do in a swatch. . . .

My take on self-control this week has been an effort to “Do First Things First” — priorities.  I think it’s helping me feel more “finished” when bedtime rolls around.  Hopefully, the things still remaining undone are of the type that can wait until the next day.

Until next time, happy swatching!

 ______________________________________________________________Feb. 14, 2007 “So many ideas. . .”

But first. . .

Did you know that “Bob and Larry Sing the 70’s”?

The Veggie Tales folks (Big Idea Productions) have put out a series of Musical Genre discs; ds found this one on iTunes.  Hearing Mr. Lunt sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is just a hoot!


Lots of Books, Lots of Ideas 

I’ve been looking at so many knitting books lately, that the ideas are beginning to swim in my imagination.  I can’t pursue all of them, and the boundary between stimulation and overwhelm is getting fuzzy:  a felted purse?, a garter-stitch cap?, a sweater done in strips of variegateds?, Viking knots?,  Fair Isle color-patterns?,  lace?,  stitch samplers?, collars and cuffs and edgings? . . .  I’ve got a lot on my mind!

Ideally, as I do a few swatches, take some notes, make a few judiciously-chosen photocopies [all the while keeping intellectual property rights in mind – thanks for the education, Janeen, JD, PhD], and continue working on current projects, the new input will settle into little mental cubbyholes and pop up later, when I can use the data, as manageable design ideas.  Also, I find that the impulse to take up lots of new projects will fade and the chaff will blow away, leaving some gems, if I give myself some time to mull and digest.  Self-control! 

Aha!  A biblical principle intrudes upon my consciousness.  [Pardon me, while I wax theological.  You know, you don’t HAVE to read this part.]


Proverbs 25:28  A [knitter] without self-control

is like a city broken into and left without walls.

“Walls” = defenses.  I can see how this applies here:  if I don’t exercise self-control, any project-idea that comes along can just waltz in and whisk me away, consuming my time and attention (and money).  I have to defend myself, guard my time.  Other passages (2 Tim. 1:7; Gal. 5:23) tell me that God is supplying this resource, and that my life can and should show it.  That’s good.  Self-control.


And now, back to our regularly-scheduled knitting. . . .

Here are two of the book-swatches from this week.


A bias-knit swatch in the “Stripes and Dots” pattern from Ginger Luters’ Module Magic.

My first choice of colors proved to be more of a blend, the stripes rather indistinct even with a carry-along thread added; the second yielded a stronger contrast.  Combining variegated yarns is interesting, definitely a challenge.  I would like to do a bit more experimenting with it.  Nothing serious immediately, though.

This Patons “SWS” yarn is interesting:  70% wool, 30% soy.  Has a silky sheen; is composed of a loosely-spun single; the yarn flattens out around the needle; is easy to split; displays nice slow-change/long-interval colors; nice drape; not sure how sturdy it’ll prove in a final project that gets used.



A sampler of several stitch patterns used in Nicky Epstein’s Knitting Beyond the Edge, in DK weight “Quebeqoise” from Schoolhouse Press.  I hope to try some Epstein embellishments and edgings too. 


I (mostly) keep track of what I swatch on an index card attached to the piece.  This can be very helpful later, when I want to use a technique again.


Feb. ??, 2007 “Intarsia Swatching”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that . . . you may abound in hope.”  – Romans 15:13.


This week I’ve had Sally Melville’s book The Knitting Experience – Book 3:  Color from the library.  While it’s in my hot little hands, I’ll be working on a swatch, trying out various techniques.



Plaid swatch.

Source:  Sally Melville’s The Knitting Experience – Book 3:  Color

Yarns:  scraps of sportweight

Needles:  size 5 bamboo circulars.

I frequently do little experimental swatches like this when I’ve borrowed a knitting book, especially when I’ve requested it as an Interlibrary Loan.  I have a limited time to explore the book, and if I’ve decided it’s not a title I want to purchase, I often pick a few techniques to try out.

This swatch utilizes tweed stitch and intarsia to make a basic “plaid”.  (I particularly wanted to practice intarsia, with an eye to the Argyle sock requirement of TKGA’s Master Knitter program, Level 2.  I’m at the very beginning stages of the work for this level.)  Further on in this swatch, I’ll intentionally miss a wrap <gasp> and then repair it, as in Color, page 225.

And here it is.  See something amiss between the light-aqua and the pink?  

I’ll find the border-loop that isn’t caught by its neighbor, and catch it up with some rescue-yarn . . .

– it and 3 color-change-loops above and below it.  

After weaving in the ends of the rescue yarn, all is well.

Thank you, Sally Melville!

Some of the intarsia tips I’ve appreciated most from this book include:

–         If you don’t mind weaving ends, you can work all your color-areas in short lengths that can’t tangle too badly and don’t require butterfly-ing or bobbins.  (page 217) – [I’m not sure the trade-off of ends vs tangles is worth it.  Depends on which you are more eager to avoid.]

–         When crossing colors, to minimize stitch-distortion, do NOT insert needle tip into next stitch first.  (p. 213) – [We all want to “minimize stitch-distortion”, don’t we?  I know I do.]

I have also learned about my personal color preferences.  I already knew I favored warm colors, but I found that the addition of a bit of the complementary color made a combination more much visually exciting and attractive to me.  [Where is my color wheel when I need it?!]

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