This week is kind of a catchup week… and boy do I need it.  I have been working on a project with a really tight deadline and haven’t had a chance to work on my Olga’s Vest with all of you.  I would love to tell you what it is, but unfortunately if I told you I’d have to kill you.  Haha! I’ll tell you soon enough… don’t worry.  By the end of October you will hear all about it.

Last week I promised that I would discuss lifelines again since there isn’t much to work on this week besides the other half of the front.  I came across this great YouTube video on two ways to insert lifelines.  The video shows how to insert a lifeline using Knit Picks Interchangeable needle (but this will also work for Lantern Moon Interchangeable needles as well).  The other technique the video shows works well for both straight and circular needles.  I have never seen this technique used before this video but it is kind of neat and not hard to do.

How ever you decide to insert a lifeline make sure you put them in often- but remember DO NOT remove your center lifeline until you are done (and satisfied) with the second armhole.  Next week we will talk about the second armhole and a little slit modification possibility.  I have done a slit before…. in retrospect it was a little too deep of a slit but I still really love it.  I also think if I didn’t do the slit as deep as I did then the vest wouldn’t have fit around my ample tushy…. since I made it too long to start with – one mess right after another.

Please let me know if you have any questions- you can post them here, Ravelry or Facebook or email them to me@graceakhrem.com.  Also don’t miss out on the little SALE I am having on three of my patterns.  Make sure to use the Ravelry coupon code NewsletterSale9.12 by Tomorrow- September 9th, 2012 by 11:59pm Pacific Time to receive 15% off your purchase of Alisha’s Cardigan, Rippling Lace and Walt’s Tangled Cables.

 

   

 

So… moving right along.  It’s very uncommon that stitches will get wrapped twice when working short rows, but every now and then you will come across a pattern that has you wrap stitches twice and then work up to them and pick up both of the wraps. This is one of those patterns.

If you decide that you don’t want to pick up the wraps that’s fine too- but expect there to be gaps running down your cowl section.  You may or may not like the look of these gaps, but I will let you decide the direction in which you would like to go.

The first time you get to a wrap there is only one to pick up and you can pick it up the way you normally would.  Also you can check out the free Craftsy Class I recommended last week by Carol Feller on how to work short-rows and pick up the wraps.

 

    

1- Slip the first wrapped stitch from your left hand needle to your right hand needle (knit wise).

2- With the tip of your left hand needle, pick up the wrap around the stitch.

3- Place the slipped stitch from your right hand needle back onto your left hand needle.

4- Knit the two stitches (the original stitch and the wrap) together as if they were one.

 

The rest of this part of the pattern is the same.  As I discussed last week, make sure to keep the integrity of the stitch pattern intact when working this pattern.  Make sure you have the same number of stitches throughout the cowl section.  If your stitch count changes this will offset your pattern when you go back to work the second half of the front.

Now when it comes to picking up two wraps around your stitches it is essentially the same idea.  This might seem confusing or cumbersome, but it is the same idea.  The only difference is that you will be picking up two wraps instead of one and working three stitches together instead of two.  Lets go through it together, shall we?

 

First thing is first, if you don’t know what a double wrap looks like you are going to have a hell of a time trying to pick it up.  Above is a picture of a double wrap- I circled it to make it easier to see.  You can compare it to the wraps to the left of the circled one and see that each stitch has only been wrapped once.  The difference between a single wrap and a double wrap is very slight but makes all the difference.

 

   

1- Slip the first wrapped stitch from your left hand needle to your right hand needle (knit wise).

2- With the tip of your left hand needle, pick up the two wraps around the stitch.

3- Place the slipped stitch from your right hand needle back onto your left hand needle.

4- Knit the three stitches (the original stitch and the two wraps) together as if they were one.

 

Continue working the wraps this way for the remainder of the cowl section.  When you are finished with the cowl section your piece should look like this.  DO NOT remove your lifeline! You’ll need it later.

 

 

Next week is a break week.  You will have about two weeks to get to the second armhole.  I will show again how to insert a lifeline.  If I have time I will make a little demo video… but no promises, okay?  Please let me know if you have any questions- you can post them here, Ravelry or Facebook or email them to me@graceakhrem.com.  Happy knitting!!!

Check out two of my new patterns – Olana Slouch & Alisha’s Cardigan now available on Ravelry!
Olana Slouch
Alisha’s Cardigan

Okay! Well, here we go.  I would like to thank all of you who are joining me in this knit-a-long… it’s my first KAL ever, and I hope it is a helpful and successful one as well.

So I thought we should get started off by discussing the importance of swatching.  It is so important to swatch- I just can’t talk about it enough.  It super important that you get gauge for this project because this will determine the final length of your piece.  We will discuss modifying the length of the piece, if necessary next week.

Make sure to swatch your yarn on the needles you intend to knit your entire project on.  The reason behind this is that every company and every needle material is different.  There is no actual standardization when it come to knitting needle sizes and therefore (for example) a size 9 in Lantern Moon might be 1/4 of a millimeter different from a Addi Natura in the same size- which makes a difference.  The type of material your needle is made of also makes a difference when you knit because you as the knitter reacts to the feel of each material differently.

For example, I am a very very loose knitter and when I knit with metal needles I feel that things are even looser and I start to tense up and tighten up and my hands cramp up as well as my knitting- overall everything gets tighter.  When I knit with Lantern Moon Ebony needles I have the exact opposite reaction.  I feel that the natural texture in the wood holds my stitches for me and allows my tension to flow freely and easily…. it’s like night and day.

After you have swatched on your needles make sure you block this swatch.  Steaming is okay…. if you plan to never wash your vest.  I always say that washing your garment is an opportunity to block it….. hopefully that will take out some of the fear of blocking.  I know you are going to wash your garment because you plan on wearing it… that is the goal here right?!  So wash your swatch!  I’m not saying that you have to put it in the washer and dryer with your darks, but you definitely want to submerge the thing!

Just follow these eight easy steps to block your swatch:

  1. Knit your swatch and bind off loosely :)
  2. Get a mediumish sized bowl and fill it with lukewarm water
  3. Squeeze in a little bit of Soak (this is a no rinse wash available in so many lovely fragrances) into the bowl and swirl
  4. Submerge your swatch and let it sit for 15-20 minutes – don’t panic if you forget about it and come back like 4 hours later, I’ve done it many times and nothing bad happened.
  5. Take out your swatch and squeeze out all the excess water.
  6. DO NOT PANIC if your water turned into the color of your yarn, this is excess dye and is absolutely normal… it will happen a few times (each time getting lighter and lighter), but it will not effect the saturation of the color in your yarn.
  7. Lay your swatch flat to dry on a towel or some really awesome blocking mats by Coco Knits.
  8. Do not check gauge until your swatch is completely dry.

When your swatch is dry then check the gauge.  If you get gauge, great! If you don’t then re-swatch!  You’ll thank me later.  A lot of the time knitters get confused when they don’t get gauge and aren’t sure what to do next… do I change needle? Do I go up a size? Do I go down a size?  Well lets clear that up! If you swatch tells you that you need to have 21 sts and 32 rows over 4″ in pattern and your swatch comes out smaller, that means your stitches are too small and to make them bigger, so you need to go up in needle size.  If you swatch comes out larger that means your stitches are too big and you need to make them smaller, so go down in needle size.

You should continue to swatch until you get gauge… please do not make the mistake of guessing your gauge or thinking that you will just knit tighter or looser to get gauge.  This always fails and results in an ill-fitted garment.  Nobody wants that!

Now after you check the gauge, check that drape! Is it a good drape? Do you like the density of the stitching or do you feel like it could use a change (either more dense or less dense)…. is it the right density but just too drapey or is the drape just right?  All of these could be factors of yarn choice.

When I knit my first Olga’s Vest I used Madelinetosh Merino Light, this is a good lofty wool yarn.  Wool is good because it has lots of air pockets and air pockets equal bounce.  Bounce is good for this garment.  The second time I knit Olga’s Vest I used Wollmeise Pure 100% wool.  This is a fantastic yarn, but not great for Olga’s Vest – and I didn’t find this out until after I blocked the garment.  I got a little confident and thought, “Eh… I wrote the pattern, I’ll check gauge but I don’t feel like blocking my swatch- I just want to start!”  Well fast forward to months later, I have a Wollmeise Olga’s Vest hanging in my closet… neglected and unworn.

Why? Too much drape!  I would have found this out had I blocked my swatch, but we know what happened there… sad ending.  Wollmeise is 100% wool just like the Merino Light…. why did they react differently?  The constructions of the two yarns are completely different.  The Merino Light is a single ply lofty yarn and Wollmeise is a multiple ply, which that many plies in that thin of a yarn… you loose loft and bounce.

So…. I learned my lesson! Not all wools are created equally!  Another thing to keep in mind is that most plant fibers and silk (and blends that include those fibers) tend to have more drape…. this is not necessarily a bad thing… we just have to work around it and make some modifications to the drape of the cowl.  But to be safe, pick something with bounce and loft.  Koigu KPM or KPPPM is another good option.  But don’t limit yourself.  As Clara Parkes (of Knitter’s Review) says, “Get one skein and swatch it.  If you don’t like the yarn, you’ve only bought one skein and not a whole sweater’s worth.”

So once you choose your yarn and get gauge you are ready for the next step.  You want to make sure that you choose the right size to make your garment.  It’s so important to take your measurements before you get started.  It takes less than a minute and will allow you to make the right decision on which size is best for you.  For this particular garment you only really need one measurement, and that will be your bust.  This is not you bra size!!!  Your bra size is seems to be a funny number that someone decides after looking you up and down and then adding a letter… this SOOOOOO does not translate to your knitting.  Your bust measurement is the circumference around the fullest part of your bust and I always like to take this measurement after a comfortable and normal sized inhale (not a deep breath).  Make sure you take this measurement at the fullest point of your bust and all the way around… this is usually where your “point protectors” are (wink wink…. get it?!).  Click here for a visual if you are unsure of the placement.

This brings us to the conclusion of this post, and I now realize there weren’t really any visuals.  I didn’t think they were necessary for this post, but the next post will be full of visual aids, do not worry!  I hope you all learned at least one thing from today’s post and will apply this to this project as well as all your others.  Please let me know if you have any questions- you can post them here, Ravelry or Facebook or email them to me@graceakhrem.com.

Please keep in mind that I am leaving the country on Wednesday, so I might not answer any questions on Wednesday or Thursday.  Throughout the KAL I will be overseas and I will definitely answer all questions it just might take a few hours because of the time difference.  Happy swatching!!!

Well, it happened.  Yes I neglected my blog, but for a good cause.  I was working closely with Graphic Agenda to create a new face for my site.  Here is it!  I am very pleased!  Thank you Graphic Agenda!!!

I am always talking about the importance of blocking, I thought that today I would show you why it is so important and talk about one of the many ways of blocking.

I knit up the Janna’s Tunic as a trunk show piece and photographed it before and after blocking.  Here it is:

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