Saturday, January 17, 2009

How the Stitches Work

While the individual stitches for My So Called Scarf (horizontal herringbone stitch) are not difficult, their sequence might be confusing, at least they were for me. So I’ve tried to break the sequence down into mini steps with the help of Hermi taking the pictures as I knit and purled the two rows of the pattern.

To repeat the pattern again in a longer form:
*Cast on an even number of stitches.
* Row 1(Right Side) Knit the first stitch, *(Start the pattern sequence)
Sl 1 (slip the next stitch as if to purl it),
K1 (Knit the next stitch),
psso (pass the slipped stitch back over the knitted stitch),
But before dropping the slipped stitch off of the left needle Knit into the
back of the slipped stitch.* (End of pattern sequence)
Continue this sequence until there is only one stitch left. End the row with
Knit 1.

[You have decreased a stitch by the psso, but then you have increased a stitch by knitting into the back of the slipped stitch before transferring it to the right knitting needle. Therefore the number of total stitches remains the same at the end of the row as when you cast on!]

*Row 2 (Wrong Side) *(Start the pattern sequence) P2tog (Purl 2 stitches
Do not slip the combined stitches off the left needle, Purl the first stitch
again, then slip both stitches off the needle.* (End of the pattern
Continue this pattern to the end of the row.

[Again you’re decreasing a stitch by purling 2 stitches together, then you’re increasing a stitch by purling into the first purl stitch for a second time. So the stitch count for the row remains the same.]

*Repeat these 2 rows until you run out of yarn, or you obtain the desired length.
Starting the directions again with the photos, not every concept will have a photo.
*Cast on an even number of stitches.
*Row 1. K 1, *[Fig. 1 Slip first stitch as if to purl]

[Fig. 2 Knit second stitch]

[Fig. 3 psso=pass slipped stitch over knitted stitch],

But before slipping stitch off the left needle...
[Fig. 4 Knitting into back of slipped stitch]

[Fig. 5 Completing stitch in back of Knit stitch]

[Fig. 6 Slipping 2 stitches off the left needle]*
continue pattern until there is only one stitch left in the row. K1. Turn.

*Row 2 *P2tog=Purl 2 stitches together [Fig. 7 Inserting needle into 2 purl stitches]

[Fig. 8 Throwing yarn for purling 2 stitches together]

[Fig. 9 Completing purling 2 stitches together]

Do not slip the stitches off the needle, Purl the first stitch again
[Fig. 10 Going back into the loop of the first purl stitch on the left needle again]

[Fig. 11 Throwing the yarn for purling the first stitch again]

[Fig. 12 Completed stitch, taking 2 stitches off the needle]

[Fig. 13 Stitches are off the needle]* Complete the row with this pattern.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This Is For Candy...

I will do just about anything for dark chocolate, no not really, but I do have a real weakness for it. Some kind, diabolical person filled a gift box with Hershey miniature candy bars and left it on the group table at Wooly Wonders yarn shop, where I work, over the holidays. I did my part in trying to find all the dark chocolate minis. I have enough guilt that I probably should replenish the stash, of course that means there will be more chocolates to snack on during WOW (weaving on Wednesdays) and when I work. But I digress.

Candy was actually my art supervisor in my former life as a Clark Co. Middle School art teacher. We’ve since both moved on to other things but run into each other occasionally. We have found in each other a kindred spirit--someone who like to knit during football games. So for the past few years we have both brought our knitting to the same Super Bowl party.

This year I ran across Candy at a holiday party just before semester break. Sorry to say, I talked her ear off. I told her about some of the websites that I found in the holiday issue of Vogue Knitting that I mentioned in my last blog entry. I also mentioned a knitted scarf pattern that my son had found for me on a craft magazine website, I promised to pass the pattern and the websites to Candy as she handed me her business card with her email address.

Don’t they say that “the way to Hell is paved with good intentions”? When we got back from Salt Lake City Dec. 31, after helping Carlee and Tom get settled, I noticed Candy’s business card laying on my computer desk! The great procrastinator had forgotten to send the promised items to Candy before we left for SLC. Yuck.

So to make amends I’m going to try describe the scarf and illustrate the stitches used in the scarf pattern I promised to send Candy. I found I didn’t know how to do the stitches and had to ask Joyce the owner of Wooly Wonders to show me how to do them.

So for the rest of the blog I’ll concentrate on the directions of the herringbone scarf, which is not difficult once you know the two basic stitches (where have you heard that before--but it’s really true.)

This is the blog entry that my son passed onto me via
My So Called Scarf - October 26, 2004
I was wearing this scarf over the weekend while I was at the Knit Out in Boulder, and I got a number of comments and requests for the pattern. Here’s the story behind the scarf. A couple of years ago I was in San Francisco and happened on the yarn shop, Imagiknit. What a fun shop! The owners, Allison and Sara, are so personable and helpful. I would recommend stopping in if you are in the Bay area anytime soon! There were a ton of scarves knit up on a rack as samples, and that’s where I spied this lovely one. I had never seen Manos Del Uruguay before and fell in love with this colorway, it’s color 113 (they are calling it wildflowers). The scarf pattern came with the yarn, one of the shop girls had typed it up. Now, every time I wear it, someone comments on it and I’ve been asked so many times for the pattern that I finally called the store and asked if I could give it out. They just laughed and told me that they appreciated the call, but that it was just a stitch pattern out of a pattern book and that I could distribute it at will. Thanks Imagiknit ladies! So here it is:
Materials: 2 Skeins of Manos del Uruguay; US #11 Needles; Darning Needle
Glossary: psso=pass slipped stitch over; P2tog=purl 2 together
[CO=cast on; BO=bind off (I added these items]
-CO 30 Stitches.
-Row 1: K1, *sl 1, K1, psso but before dropping the slipped stitch from the left needle, knit into the back of it* repeat until there is one stitch left, K1.
-Row 2: *P2tog, do not slip stitches off the needle, purl the first stitch again, slip both stitches off needle*
-Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you run out of yarn.
-BO. *Weave in all ends. Wear proudly! Posted by Stacey at October 26, 2004

I looked through a bunch of my knitting pattern books and the only one with this pattern was “365 Knitting Stitches a Year - Perpetual Calendar” (2002) by Martingale and Company on the October 30 page. The wording was slightly different, I’m sure to avoid copyright infringement, but the technique was the same. It’s called a horizontal herringbone stitch in this calendar.

I tried knitting the pattern with some Manos del Uruguay I had in my stash, but the colors were very dark and the variations in the thickness of the yarn were too much. Sometimes the strand was as thin as thread, and it was hard to keep track of the stitches, so I switched yarns. I’m now using Kaya by Crystal Palace Yarns 100% wool, color 0108. It’s a two ply, variegated yarn in a ball of 65 yards recommended for a 10.5 - 11 US needle. Since it’s not a thick ’n thin yarn I’ve been much happier knitting with it. My scarf measures on the needles between 6.5 and 7”, and I’m kind of a tight knitter especially with this pattern. A skein of Manos del Uruguay is about 138 yards, so “My So Called Scarf” takes about 276 yards, which is a generous amount for a scarf, partly because of the stitch which almost creates a double thickness with the crossover stitches.

Other chunky yarns which could be used with this pattern perhaps using a size #13 needle would be Berroco’s Hip Hop, 100% wool skein of 76 yards, and cast on 2-4 less stitches. Another yarn might be Nashua’s Painted Forest, 100% wool with 55 yards a ball. A third yarn you might use is Cascade Yarns’ Nikki which comes in some beautiful colorways. Like Manos del Uruguay and Hip Hop, it’s a thick ‘n thin yarn of 100% wool but the skeins are larger at 110 yards. I’d probably figure 250-275 yards at a #13 needle, so 4 skeins of Hip Hop and 5 balls of Nashua would probably work. Depending on how wide and how long you want your scarf you could get by with 2 or 3 skeins of Nikki.

Because the technique produces a tighter fabric, whichever yarn you decide to use I recommend going up two needle sizes to get a scarf fabric that isn’t stiff and too tight. The label on the Manos del Uruguay recommends needles US 8-10 and the yarn does look thinner than Hip Hop and Nashua.

Other Needle Sizes and Yarns
I’m also trying the pattern out with smaller needle sizes. Generally, to make changes to the scarf directions keep in mind the total stitches cast on must be an even number. For my own sanity I like to make the number of cast on stitches a round number as it’s easier to remember. A person could hand a tag on the cast on yarn tail with the number of cast on stitches on it. If you’re working on more than one project at a time a reminder helps. Or put two knots in the yarn tail to stand for twenty stitches, or three knots to stand for thirty stitches, etc. As a senior my “hard drive” sometimes reaches overload, so I try these tricks to cut down on my frustrations.

As I mentioned before when you pick a yarn, use knitting needles two sizes up from the size usually used with that yarn. The rest of your decisions are figuring how many stitches to cast on for the desired width, and how long to make the scarf.

Right now I’m using size #10 needles with Noro’s Silk Garden with 38 stitches which produced approximately a 7 ¼” wide scarf. I’m also working on #8 needles with Noro’s Silk Garden Sock Yarn with 40 stitches on a scarf that is about 6 ¼” wide. This one is only about an inch long as I tore it out to move up a needle size, so the width might not be too accurate.

The knitting needles I’ve been using are Serendipity Needles birch needles with polymer clay finials (ends). They’re a specialty item that we sell at Wooly Wonders that are great for gifts. I bought a pair to take on a cruise because they were so cute, but I really liked knitting with their sharp points. So I’ve gotten some more needles in other sizes.

It’s been kind of fun trying different yarns with different needle sizes to see what the pattern will look like after a couple of inches. Of course the larger the needles the faster the scarf develops and the lesser the amount of yarn used.
Next Post: How the stitches are worked.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vogue Knitting - From My Viewpoint

I finally broke down and bought the Holiday 2008 issue of Vogue Knitting magazine last week. Over the years I’ve subscribed to the magazine a couple of times and always decided the patterns were too far out for me, and canceled my subscription. Lately I’ve come to the realization that I like parts of the magazine a lot and other parts, not so much. So again I’m toying with the idea of subscribing to the magazine, nothing wishy-washy about me.

I love the ads - why do they seem to look so much better in Vogue Knitting? And I love the features, the articles by Meg Swansen, and the teaching of new techniques. But trying to visualize myself in some of the fashions is more than even my imagination can handle. So the pattern generally get passed over.

Under What’s New on pages 8-10, I bought a knitting gauge similar to item #5, from a different source than the one listed in Vogue. There was a choice of 9 colors and the price was about $16. from Scout’s Swag.

Several of the other “metallic touches” appealed to me, stitch marker #1 that resembled medallions, and buttons #3, #7, and #12.

I haven’t checked it out yet, but the concept sounds very interesting. KnitBook is a book of patterns that you pick out from their selection, formatted from a choice of three bindings, one of which is a spiral binding. Then it is printed and mailed to you. I wonder how pricey it is. It’s from the website But as the ad says, coming soon. I just checked it out and it’s still coming soon. So is Christmas!

The one item I did check out and sign up for is discussed under VK World on page 20, Patternfish. It’s found at It’s an on line store for buying and selling knitting patterns. What’s nice about the site is that the patterns are indexed by designer and yarns besides the normal pattern categories. The patterns are reasonably priced, and the site keeps a file of the patterns you’ve purchased, a great backup for the big black hole that lurks in my workroom.

The advertisement on page 49 of Vogue Knitting, “Top 10 Picks for the Holidays” by mentions Planet which I’d like to check out too. It mentions free patterns and an international yarn shop directory. ‘Free patterns’ always grabs my attention. Fiber buzz is a collection of artisans packaged for marketing. Their products are highlighted in ads in several fiber magazines under the title of “Top 10 Picks”. The list of artisans is quite large so the products in the ads vary continually.

Tags for your handmade gifts can be ordered from The tags are colorful, clean looking and would add a nice touch to a gift. Twelve Handmade tags for $5.95. The artist also has other items for sale like note cards. “She is a graphic artist who loves to knit”.

So now that I’ve paged through this issue of Vogue Knitting pretty thoroughly I’m waiting for the Winter issue to show up on January 27.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back From the North Country

New Year’s has come and gone. The Christmas music is finally silent, I think this is the first year I really got sick of hearing it. Of course, part of the reason might be that they started playing it before Thanksgiving. We took down the Christmas tree Sunday so that really ends the season for us with Epiphany.

We traveled to Salt Lake City on Saturday after Christmas to help our daughter Carlee and family unpack boxes and get settled in their new house. Really it was to give everyone a break from the moving. Tom took Jack skiing on the day we drove up. Later Carlee and I would hit some of the sales and exchange some Christmas gifts. You know, do what we women love to do when the men have the kids, shop!

One day after getting the china cabinet and laundry room in order, Bob and I were able to escape for lunch and wander around Barnes and Nobles Book Store. The kids were in daycare, Carlee was in So. California on business and Tom was at work. So everyone had some time for work and play.

There was plenty of snow and ice in Utah. The solid snow ground cover and cold weather started just south of Cedar City and continued all the way north on our trip. We stopped at our house in Cedar City and everything had a light covering of snow as you can see in the photos. We were thankful the roads were clear and dry all the way until we got to the city streets. I was a bit nervous driving on the snow, it’s been quite a while since my Wisconsin snow driving days. So while Bob drove I knit on a scarf for Katie Jane.

We had second Christmas after our arrival as you can see from the Spider man costume. No, I did not make it. Carlee came through with a nice gift certificate for me to Three Wishes, a weaving and knitting shop in West Jordan. You can believe that got spend before we headed home. Kristine has some beautiful yarns at Three Wishes.

The kids’ new house has a strange cubby hole in the bathroom off the rec room. It’s about 4 cubic feet, carpeted, and has its own light and door. Jack likes to go in and watch movies on his DVD player. One afternoon Jack shared his cubby hole with Bob and they watched that riveting classic movie, “Transformers”. Jack had to explain all the characters to Bob. The picture of the two of them in their cubby is actually kind of cute. Katie Jane had been sitting in Bob’s lap, but she never stays in one place too long, and didn’t get in the picture.

We left SLC on New Year’s Eve day on a bright, cold day. While it was in the low 30’s in SLC, when we drove by the Scipio exit at 10:30 AM it was 15 degrees outside. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. Everything, trees, brushes, grasses, was covered in frost. It looked like a scene from “Dr. Zhivago”.

By the time we got to Cedar City the temperature was in the low 40s and we found activity at our house. The construction crew was framing the rooms in the basement in their tee shirts while Carl was in the small Cat digging out snow next to the basement walls. It was exciting to finally see the layout of the rooms in the basement. The two bedrooms seemed small, sigh, but the sewing/weaving room and family room seemed pretty good sized, yeah! What I had done with the floor plan was take the total length of the first bedroom and adjoining family room and move the bedroom wall to make the two rooms about the same width. Oh yes! While not huge the craft room will definitely be bigger than the room I use presently. I’ll probably fill that room up to the rafters too.