Thursday, March 31, 2011

Advanced Lace Knitting Class

I've taught a Lace 101 class for years, and it's a lot of fun. It's for knitters of all experience levels who are looking to tackle lace for the first time.

I cover not only how to work lace, but how lace works - the relationship between the yarnovers and all the different decreases. I teach how to read lace patterns, both written and charted.

And I spend some time on preventing mistakes - through the use of a lifeline, through counting tricks, and through pattern management. In four hours, knitters learn enough to confidently tackle their first (few) lace projects.

For almost as long as I've been teaching this class, I've been getting requests for a follow-up: Lace 102.

I've finally put this class together, and I'm teaching it at The Purple Purl in May.

As part of this class, I've had fun developing a sampler out of a variety of nefarious and challenging lace patterns:

From top down:
An applied edging - causes lots of confusion and consternation.

A Gardenia pattern with patterning on both sides, and tricky decreases.

A lace ladder - double yarnovers.

An embossed leaf because I love the pattern, and it also has a wildly variable number of stitches.

A Fountain stitch, with delayed decreases.

A Shetland Fern, with patterning on both sides, and faggotting.

A classic faggotting stitch, patterned on both sides, with stacked decrease and yarnovers.

An Estonian butterfly with nupps. (It's pronounced to rhyme with soup.) Because Nupps are messy and difficult.

And traditional Shetland Razor Shell pattern with my favourite decrease: s2kpo. An opportunity to discuss all types of double decreases, and to discuss marker management.

We'll also practice unravelling lace, and fixing mistakes - yes, you can add in a missed yarnover, or a missed decrease, or even correct the direction of a decrease.

The class runs over two sessions, so we can learn some new skills and gets lots of practice. You'll also have an opportunity to get you started on a new lace project. We'll even cover the provisional cast-on for lace, if you want.

So whether you've got a particular project in mind or not, this class is an excellent way to expand your lace knitting skills, and learn some new tricks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Project Black Sock: Update 2

The cotton pair are done, and I've got three more on the needles - the Koigu, being worked two at a time, and the Regia 4-ply on dpns.

Pictures at the Knittyblog.

I am being seriously distracted by the Lanesplitter skirt, though. I am a skirt wearer, and I do love Noro. I believe I may have committed to knitting one...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Further on the SSK: BRILLIANT Tip from Cat Bordhi

Yes, ok, the abbreviation may leave something to be desired, but it is a decrease I love and use often.

I first encountered it in sock knitting, as part of the gusset decrease.

I was working on a pair of socks just the other day (black socks, naturally), and I remembered the clever trick I learned from Cat Bordhi...

If you're working a vertical line of ssk decreases with even rows/rounds in between, the line can look wobbly... to combat that, knit the stitch immediately above through the back loop. (Mentioned in the Gusset section of this pattern.)

Tidies things up very nicely!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SSK: Worst Abbreviation Ever?

TracyKM made an excellent comment on my recent post about ribbing... she mentions that she ran into a similar issue with SSK...

The pattern she was working with defined the SSK decrease as "slip, slip, knit". So she slipped a stitch, slipped a second stitch, and then knitted a third.

(Which is, by the way, absolutely not the way it's done. Not even close. If you're not familiar with SSK, go here now.)

I see this reasonably often, and it can get a knitter into serious trouble... after all, not only is that NOT a decrease, but it also uses up one more stitch than it should, and it can completely screw up with your stitch count.

I regularly get asked what SSK stands for, and after years of teaching knitting, I have simply stopped spelling the abbreviation out. I respond with a definition: "it's a left leaning decrease", if I'm feeling theoretical, or, if I'm feeling effusive, "it's a k2tog but you twist the stitches first".

Invariably, someone in the room pipes up and says "slip, slip, knit". I try to make a little joke out of it, and explain why it's so horribly wrong.

I mean, technically, it stands for "slip, slip, knit the 2 stitches together through the back loop", but it so rarely gets spelled out that way. Yeah, sure, if you know what you're doing, then "slip, slip, knit" conveys it - but after all, aren't instructions like these for people who don't know what they are doing??

I really do need to come up with a catchy alternative explanation - in the meantime, I will simply continue to refer to SSK as a candidate for the most misleading abbreviation ever, and hope that knitters remember how to work it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Project Black Sock: Update 1

Having gone public with Project Black Sock (a.k.a. the Sock Drawer Project) on this blog and on the KnittyBlog, I figured I should give some updates.

Currently on the needles:
Fortissima Cotton - on the left, second sock halfway done; on dpns, one at a time
Koigu - yes, really! I found some black Koigu! Two at the same time, on two circulars, just pass the cuff on both.

Yarns lined up, in no particular order:
2 skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine
Paton's Kroy
KnitPicks Stroll
Regia plain black
Briggs & Little Durasport
Regia Galaxy in a grey mix
And there's the Indigodragonfly TARDIS colourway which isn't black, but will definitely make an awesome but classic dark sock.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things We Take for Granted: Ribbing

My Project Class often attracts new knitters. And I love them.

My Project Class is a multi-week guided workshop. The idea is that knitters bring a project that is a personal challenge, and I equip them with the skills and knowledge to complete it.

I see a broad range of experience and skills levels in the class. We see seasoned knitters looking to stretch themselves and tackle something they've never tried before, like lace or socks. We get new knitters fresh from beginner classes looking to try an actual project. And there are always self-taught knitters (thanks to the internet!) who have made a million scarves and need something more exciting.

I love this environment - lots of different projects on the go, lots of different skills levels. The more experienced knitters provide encouragement and share skills with the newer knitters, and the newer knitters bring a level of excitement and enthusiasm for their new passion that the more experienced knitters often find inspiring.

Teaching the class is inspiring to me, too. I get to vicariously enjoy the projects my students make, and it never ceases to thrill me to see a student's pride and amazement in her (or his) own work.

I, too, learn lots from the class. I get to see and read a lot of patterns, and I believe it's made me a better writer of patterns and technical editor. I see what sorts of instructions make sense and are clear, and what sorts of instructions create more questions than they answer. (I have been known to get cranky about a pattern - I get frustrated on behalf of all knitters when I see a poorly-written pattern. If a pattern isn't well written, a knitter is less likely to be successful and enjoy the process. And an unsuccessful knitter is an unhappy knitter, and an unhappy knitter is very likely become a non-knitter. And this makes me sad.)

And I learn from knitters what's easy, and what's not.

In a recent project class, I had a student who we shall call Daphne. Daphne had taken a beginner level class, and was feeling very confident about knitting and purling, and had chosen a great starter-level project: a headband worked in (k2, p2) ribbing. Easy, right?

Poor Daphne was completely at sea.

The instructions were fine: Row 1 [RS]: *K2, p2; rep from * to end of row.

But she couldn't figure out why she had so many stitches at the end of a row, and that everything looked so very tangled up.

I laughed when she showed me... in sympathy and recognition. I remember this so very well.... in my case it was (k1, p1) ribbing.

Oh yeah, very easy... knit a stitch or two, purl a stitch or two. But nowhere in the instructions do they tell you that you have to MOVE THE DAMN YARN.

She's on the right track now.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Design Your Own Fair Isle Wristwarmer Workshop

Last weekend I was honoured to host a workshop for the Kitchener Waterloo Knitters' Guild.

2011 is the year of colourwork for the KW Guild, and the topic of my workshop was Fair Isle. In the workshop, we learnt some things about Fair Isle designs and the history of the technique.

We practiced techniques for knitting with two colours - one-handed and two-handed.

And we spent the afternoon designing our own Fair Isle wristwarmer patterns!

I had a ton of fun - and I think the participants had a good time, too.

The participants are posting their progress on Ravelry already, and I love seeing the results.

These are SweetG's mitts-in-progress. More photos on the KW Guild Flickr stream, and in Ravelry.

(All other photos in this post courtesy Suzanne Carter-Jackson.)