July 10, 2007

A Riddle

Dear nona,

I have a riddle for you.  I'm tight where I should be loose and loose where I should be tight.  My dilemma cannot be fixed by the gym or a diet.  I'm on my side and following the rules.  What am I and can you help?

Sincerely,
Riddler from Reno

Dear Riddler,

Could it be that you're having trouble with the paired increases and decreases in your Sidewinders Sock?  Are your paired decreases too loose, forming a gap in the center and your paired increases too tight, causing a twinge of fabric distortion?  I made a pair of ankle Sidewinders to experiment with a few ideas. 

Loose Decreases
To close the gap between the paired decreases try any -- or all -- of the following:

  • Work your decreases tightly.  I rarely advocate yarn tugging, but this is an ideal opportunity to tug away.
  • Make sure your center heel (or toe) marker is -- to quote Monty Python -- wafer thin.  A thick stitch marker will definitely leave a gap between the decreases.  Why not take the old fashion route and use a thin yarn loop.

  • If all else fails, add 1 stitch between the paired decreases.  Whether you're decreasing for the heel or the toe, add the extra stitch on the foot side of the center marker.

Tight Increases
Finding a set of paired increases that didn't distort the fabric when worked every row was tricky business.  I found the raised bar increase to be the best, though far from perfect.  If your increases are too tight try the following:

  • Work the two center stitches and the newly formed make-one stitches very loosely.  There needs to be plenty of give between each center stitch and its associated make-one to allow for the connecting yarn to be picked up on the following row.
  • Add an extra stitch between the paired increases -- 3 center stitches instead of 2.  Separating the pair increases seems to help a bit.  Whether you're increases for the heel or the toe, add the extra stitch on the foot side of the center marker.

Further Opinions
We would all me a bunch of dullards if we didn't have further opinions.   Here are mine:

  • In both cases, sometimes a wash and a wear is all that is needed to lift, tuck, and separate.
  • Only add the extra stitch as a last resort.  I think the sock looks and fits best if the paired decreases are side-by-side and the paired increases are separated by 2 stitches.

  • If you add the extra stitch to one, also add it to the other.  This will ensure that the increases and decreases are symmetrical.

  • It's only a sock.  As long as the fabric is sound and the fit is good, a little space here or a pull there will only remind you that these sock were made my hand -- your hand!

July 10, 2007 in Ask nona, Sidewinders | Permalink | Comments (12)

January 22, 2006

Shaping Up

Dear nona,

My dream in life is to create a fitted sweater -- one with intense waist shaping.  Unfortunately, I'm running into a problem, one that's interferring with my life's dream!  Let me spell it out, I'm using side shaping to decrease 4 inches from both the front and the back.   Because I'm decreasing so many stitches the sides of my sweater are looking unnaturally steep and angular -- not at all in harmony with my dream.  Can you help?

Sincerely,
Angularly Shaped in Austin

Dear Angularly Shaped,

Have no fear, the key to a beautifully shaped fitted sweater is the vertical dart. 

Vertical darts are the ideal technique for shaping the waist of a tailored fitted garment, allowing lots of stitches to be decreased and then increased without sharp angular side shaping.  Perhaps it would help if I answered a few FAQs about vertical darts...

What is a vertical dart?  Can you give me a few details?

Vertical darts are typically worked in pairs and are -- more or less -- lined up under the bust points.  Vertical darts take on an hourglass shape -- first a series of decreases are used to narrow the dart, followed by a series of increases to widen the dart back to its original (or desired) width.  These decreases and increases are typically worked in pairs on either side of a central stitch.  This central stitch remains constant, keeping the dart vertically aligned.

How far in from the sides should the vertical darts be positioned?

Each vertical dart should be placed in from the edge about one fourth of the total width of the front (or back).  For example, if the width of the front -- at the bottom of the dart -- is 18 inches, then the darts should be placed about 4 1/2 inches in from each side.

How wide should each vertical dart be?

First determine the total width you'd like to decrease and divide this total width by 2 -- remember there are 2 darts.  Half the width will be shaped in each dart.  For example, if you want to decrease 3 total inches then each dart will decrease 1 1/2 inches.

Next multiply the width of each dart by your stitch gauge, rounding to the nearest even number.  For example, if your stitch gauge is 5 sts to the inch and you're decreasing 1 1/2 inches per dart then each dart will decrease 8 stitches -- 5 x 1.5 = 7.5 rounded up to 8.

Finally, since the dart's decreases and increases are shaped around a central stitch, add one more stitch.  For example, if your dart uses 8 stitches for shaping, add 1 more stitch for a grand total of 9 stitches per dart.

How deep should the dart be?

Your basic, garden variety vertical dart is 6 - 10 inches in length, with equal amounts above and below the waist line.  To get the number of rows in the dart, multiple the dart's depth by the row gauge.  For example, if your dart is 8 inches deep and your row gauge is 7 stitches per inch, then the dart requires 56 rows.  Half of these rows are used for decreasing from the hips to the waist and the other half of the rows are used for increasing from the waist to the bust.

How are the decreases worked?

There are many ways to work the dart's decreases.  I'll give you one way, but please be willing to experiment with other types of decreases.  First place a marker right before the center stitch of each dart so you can keep track of where they are.  To work a decrease row: 

knit to 2 stitches before the first marker, ssk, slip the marker, knit the center stitch, k2tog, knit to 2 stitches before the second marker, ssk, slip the marker, knit the center stitch, k2tog, knit to the end. 

The ssk creates a left slanting decrease and the k2tog creates a right slanting decrease.  The decrease rows should be evenly distributed over 1/2 of the dart's total number of rows.

How are the increases worked?

Again, I'll give you one way to work the increases but you might work out a better way for your garment.  To work an increase row:

knit to the first marker, make 1 right slanting stitch by picking up the horizontal running thread between the needles back to front and knitting it, slip the marker, knit the center stitch, make 1 left slanting stitch by picking up the horizontal running thread between the needles front to back and knitting it through the back loop, knit to the next marker and repeat.

The increase rows should be evenly distributed over 1/2 of the dart's total number of rows.

Why not share your experiences with vertical darts!

January 22, 2006 in Ask nona | Permalink | Comments (10)

July 19, 2005

HTML Fun

Dear nona,

Sometimes, when I'm tired of reading all those words, I come over to your blog and play with your photos.  Are you willing to part with one of your photo trick recipes?

Sincerely,
HTMLless in Hermosa Beach

Dear HTMLless,

I do love to throw in a few cheap photo tricks now and then -- nona's a simple gal with simple pleasures.  My favorite "recipe" is the changing photo.  When you move your mouse over the photo it changes to a second photo and then changes back to the original photo when you move your mouse out of the photo.  Here's an example from an old post, "nona's been busted":

Okay, let's see how it's done...

First, the HTML I used for my cheap trick -- you should be able to copy and paste this to your blog:

<IMG
width="75"
height="100"
border="0"
src="http://nonaknits.typepad.com/image1.jpg"
onmouseover="this.src='http://nonaknits.typepad.com/image2.jpg'  "
onmouseout="this.src='http://nonaknits.typepad.com/image1.jpg' " />

Want to give it a try?  Here's how:

  1. Write your blog entry.  At the spot where you want to add your photo trick, simply type "Photo Trick Here".
  2. Decide what 2 photos you want to use, crop them to the same size, and upload them to your blog.

  3. Edit the HTML for your blog entry.  In TypePad this is very easy to do, simply click the "Edit HTML" tab.  Hopefully your blog authoring tool also has an easy way to edit your HTML.

  4. Find the "Photo Trick Here" text that you added in Step 1 and replace it with the <IMG ... /> HTML I've given you above -- good old copy and paste should do just fine.

  5. Tweak this copied HTML based on your photos.  You'll need to change:

  • width - replace my width, 75, with the width of your photos
  • height - replace my height, 100, with the height of your photos

  • src - replace my URL, http://nonaknits.typepad.com/image1.jpg, with the URL for your first photo.  This is the photo you'll see when your entry is initially displayed.

  • onmouseover - replace my URL, http://nonaknits.typepad.com/image2.jpg, with the URL for your second photo.  When your mouse moves over the image, the image will change to this photo.  Important:  be sure to keep the "this.src=' before the URL and ' " after the URL.

  • onmouseout - replace my URL, http://nonaknits.typepad.com/image1.jpg, with the URL for your original, first photo.  When your mouse moves out of the image, the image will change back to this photo.  Important:  be sure to keep the "this.src=' before the URL and ' " after the URL.

That should do it!  I look forward to seeing your photo tricks...

July 19, 2005 in Ask nona | Permalink | Comments (19)

June 07, 2005

Short Row Heels

Dear nona,

I have a question concerning short rows and socks.  I want to knit a pair of socks in reverse stockinette stitch and shape the heel using short rows.  Should I do anything different to make the fabric and shaping look correct ? 

Sincerely,
Curious on the Oregon Coast

Dear Curious,

You've come to the right place because nona loves socks and nona loves short rows.  I must admit -- being the honest gal that I am -- that I was completely clueless in regards to an appropriate answer to your question.  But after a bit of pondering and a little experimentation I have a suggestion for your heels.  I knit 3 mini heels until I hit upon one that was reasonable -- not perfect, but reasonable.  I'd love to hear what others would suggest.

Let me first share a few pictures before we get into the nitty-gritty details.


Here's the heel shaping I liked the best -- reasonable, but not perfect


And here's the heel posing with some flowers, ala Margene.

Okay enough fooling around, on to the details...

When shaping the heel (or toe) of a sock using short rows I prefer the YO short row technique, which I learned from Priscilla Gibson-Roberts when knitting my Eastern European Footlets.  However, this variation assumes you're knitting socks in stockinette stitch instead of reverse stockinette stitch.  So the question becomes, how can I tweak my standard YO short row heel shaping to work for reverse stockinette stitch?

Here's my solution.  These directions are for working a mini practice heel:

  1. Cast on 21 stitches
  2. To begin, narrow the heel using short rows as follows (each row will be shortened by one stitch):

  3. R1 (RS): purl to the last stitch, turn
    R2 (WS): YO, knit to the last stitch, turn
    R3 (RS): YO (bringing the yarn between the needles to the back and then over the right needle to the front), purl to one stitch before the last YO, turn
    R4 (WS): YO, knit to one stitch before the last YO, turn

    Repeat rows 3 and 4 until there are 8 stitches between YOs, ending with a WS (knit) row.

  4. Next, widen the heel using short rows as follows (each row will be lengthened by one stitch):

  5. R1 (RS): YO, purl to the first YO, p2tog (the YO and the next stitch), turn
    R2 (WS): YO, knit to the first YO, ssk (slipping the YO purlwise and the next stitch knitwise), turn
    R3 (RS): YO, purl to the first YO, p3 tog (2 YOs and a stitch), turn
    R4 (WS): YO, knit to the first YO, sssk (slipping the two YOs purlwise and the next stitch knitwise), turn

    Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all YOs are worked and you're back to 21 stitches.

Hey, is anyone still with me?   Did you try to make your own mini heel?  I'd love to hear what others would suggest -- the more ideas in the pot the better!

June 7, 2005 in Ask nona | Permalink | Comments (5)

May 17, 2005

Short Row Shoulders

Dear nona,

It seems you've been obsessed -- I mean enthusiastic -- about short rows recently, so I thought you might be able to help.  I keep hearing mumblings and hush whispers about "short row shoulder shaping", yet all my patterns instruct me to shape my shoulders using stair step bind offs.  What gives?

Sincerely,
Short Rowless in Savanna

Dear Short Rowless,

I'm glad you're interested in trying something new, I think you'll like this one.  Many knitters prefer to shape their shoulders using short rows.  Not only does it make for a smoother angle, but it keeps the shoulder stitches "live".  The shoulders can then be joined using the 3 needle bind off technique, producing a strong, neat seam.

It is true, most patterns do instruct you to shape your shoulders using stair step bind offs -- but remember, you can adapt any pattern to use short row shaping instead.  It doesn't matter which short row technique you use -- Wrapped Stitch, Yarn Over, or Japanese -- pick your favorite.

In general, to adapt stair step shoulder shaping to short row shoulder shaping you'll need to:

  1. Work one additional row before starting the shoulder shaping.  For example, if the pattern tells you to start shoulder shaping on a wrong side (WS) row, then start the short row shaping on the next right side (RS) row.
  2. Instead of binding off the prescribed number of stitches, simply leave those stitches unworked, turning the short row at that spot.  For example, if the pattern tells you to BO 4 stitches, then work until there are 4 stitches on the left needles and turn.

  3. Work one additional row after the shaping is completed to close the gaps caused by the short rows.

Let's look at an example.  The instructions for the original pattern read:

Begin shaping the left shoulder on a WS row as follows: 

Row 1 (WS): BO 4 sts, purl to end
Row 2, 4, 6 (RS): knit all stitches
Row 3: BO 4 sts, purl to end
Row 5: BO 3 sts, purl to end
Row 7: BO 3 sts, purl to end

The adapted instructions using short rows would be:

Begin shaping the left shoulder on a RS row as follows:

Row 1 (RS): Knit until there are 4 stitches on the left needle, turn
Row 2, 4, 6 (WS): purl all stitches
Row 3: Knit until there are 8 stitches on the left needle, turn
Row 5: Knit until there are 11 stitches on the left needle, turn
Row 7: knit all stitches, closing the gaps as they are reached.

Would you like to try one?  Let's see who is the first to correctly adapt the shaping for the right shoulder.  Here are the original instructions:

Begin shaping the right shoulder on a RS row as follows: 

Row 1 (RS): BO 4 sts, knit to end
Row 2, 4, 6 (WS): purl all stitches
Row 3: BO 4 sts, knit to end
Row 5: BO 3 sts, knit to end
Row 7: BO 3 sts, knit to end

The contest starts now!

May 17, 2005 in Ask nona | Permalink | Comments (13)

February 28, 2005

Uncooperative Row Gauge

Dear nona,

I just started a super cute baby sweater.  Much to my chagrin, I discovered that my stitch gauge was okay, but my row gauge was off.  The pattern calls for 48 rows in 4 inches, but I'm only getting 32!  Wouldn't you know it - the pattern is written in rows instead of inches.  Can I adjust the pattern to match my row gauge and if so...what's the secret?

Sincerely,
Struggling with a small sweater in San Francisco


Dear Struggling,

Before we begin, I'd like to applaud you for knitting a gauge swatch.  Please take a brief MCS before continuing.  In nona's book, no gauge swatch equals crap shoot.

Very often if you match your pattern's stitch gauge, then your row gauge will also match -- thanks to the proportional nature of stitches -- but this is not always the case.  Now, nona is a bit concerned that your stitch gauge matches, but your row gauge is so far off.  So, before going any further please check:

  1. You measured and counted your rows accurately -- not that nona doubts you.
  2. You worked your gauge swatch in the proper stitch pattern.  Often the directions will say something like, "16 sts and 20 rows over 4 inches in seed stitch", which means you need to work your swatch in seed stitch.  If no stitch pattern is mentioned, good old stockinette stitch should be used.

Assuming all checks out okay and your row gauge does differ, you can use the gauge multiplier to adjust your pattern.   First, calculate the row multiplier by dividing your row gauge by the pattern's row gauge.  Your row multiplier is 32/48 = .67 -- isn't math fun!  Next, multiple all row numbers in your pattern by your row multiplier, rounding intelligently as necessary  For example, if your pattern reads, "CO 82 stitches and work for 86 rows", then your adjusted version is "CO 82 stitches and work for 58 rows" -- 86 x .67 = 57.6 rounded to 58.

Hopefully you get the basic idea.  Some patterns involve complex shaping, which also should be adjusted.  This, I'm afraid, is an advanced topic -- only read on if you're adventurous!

Advanced Pattern Adjustments

Let's look at a more complex example, the shaping of a sleeve.  In this example, assume your row gauge is 6 rows per inch and the pattern's is 5 rows per inch giving you a row multiplier of 1.2 (6/5).  Let's adjust the sleeve pattern based on the 1.2 stitch multiple step by step:

  1. CO 40 sts and work 10 12 rows -- 10 x 1.2 = 12 -- simple
  2. Inc 1 st each edge every 6 rows, 6 times and then 1 st each edge every 8 rows, 3 times - okay this will be a bit trickier.  In the original pattern, the sleeve is gradually increased over 60 rows.  nona knows its 60 rows because we work 6 rows, 6 times (36 rows) and 8 rows, 3 times (24 rows)  36 + 24 = 60.  For our adjusted version, we need to work the increases over 72 rows (60 x 1.2 = 72) -- leaving us 12 extra rows to fit in.   The 12 extra rows can be added by working the 6 6-row increases as 8-row increases.  The new adjusted pattern reads, "Inc 1 st each edge every 8 rows 9 times" -- yup, 8 rows, 9 times is 72 rows.

  3. Continue straight for a further 16 20 rows -- 16 x 1.2 = 19.2, then round up to the next even row

  4. BO 3 sts at the beg of the next 2 rows -- no adjustment needed.

  5. Dec 1 st each edge every 2 rows, 8 times then every 4 rows, 3 times -- another bit of trickiness for the sleeve cap shaping.  We know the original pattern shapes the sleeve cap over 28 rows -- 2 rows, 8 times (16 rows) and 4 rows, 3 times (12 rows).  For our adjusted version, we need to work the sleeve cap over 34 rows (28 x 1.2 rounded) -- leaving us 6 extra rows to fit in.  The 6 extra rows can be added by working 3 of the 2 row decreases as 4 row decrease.  The new adjusted pattern reads, "Dec 1 st each edge every 2 rows, 5 times then every 4 rows, 6 times" -- yup, 2 rows, 5 times (10 rows) and 4 rows, 6 times (24) is indeed 34 rows.

  6. BO all sts -- no adjustment needed.

nona knows this is a lot to absorb, but hopes it will help you adjust your pattern.  Remember, the calculator is your friend and keep notes for yourself -- who knows you may knit one sleeve today and the other in 6 months!

February 28, 2005 in Ask nona, Deciphering Patterns | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 12, 2005

Catherine Lowe Kit Ordering

alt_hereDo you have a knitting related question you'd like nona to answer?  Well inquisitive reader, you're in luck -- just send me an email and perhaps your question will appear in one of my posts.  Here's a composite question I've recently received from several readers.....

Dear nona,

I've enjoyed reading about Catherine Lowe and her Couture Knitting Workshop in your [fascinating] posts.  [Yes, yes, I -- nona -- did insert the word "fascinating" in the last sentence, you've got to give me a few liberties here and there.  Back to the letter...]  I also own the first two issues of her Ravell'd Sleeve journal.  However, I don't know how to contact the Couture Knitting Workshop to get information about Catherine's kits and workshop schedule.  Where did you buy your kit from?

Sincerely,
Coutureless in Canada

Dear Coutureless,

I was lucky enough to attend a lecture given by Catherine at my LYS and to order my kit from her at that lecture.  After a bit of sleuthing, I was able to dig up some contact information for you.  Interweave Knits published a short blurb about the Couture Knitting Workshop in their Winter 2004 issue.  This blurb says:

For more information on Catherine's kits, booklets, workshops, and retreats, contact Catherine Lowe, Couture Knitting Workshop, (518) 392-3363.

Additionally, The Ravell'd Sleeve journal includes the following on its last page:

Published by The Couture Knitting Workshop PO Box 209 East Chatham NY 12060.

nona hopes this helps! 

February 12, 2005 in Ask nona, Project - Catherine Lowe Kit | Permalink | Comments (3)

January 25, 2005

A Definition, Please

Dear nona,

I enjoy reading your daily dribble -- I mean postings -- but am a bit confused by your use of obscure knitting terms.  Could you please be so kind as to include a glossary?  The word currently under question is "intarsia".  Is it an Italian word?  And what the heck does it mean? 

Sincerely,
Wondering in Wala Wala

Dear Wondering,

First I'd like to apologize for flippantly throwing around knitting terms, nona was not thinking of her loyal non-knitting readers.  I have plans a foot to add a glossary of knitting terms.  As for intarsia, yes it is an Italian word derived from the Latin verb interserere, "to insert".  In knitting, intarsia is a colorwork technique allowing blocks of color to be worked from separate balls or bobbins of yarn.  Use intarsia to insert isolated patches of color or to knit with many colors in a single row. 

One of my current UFOs, the Old Tiles sweater designed by Brandon Mably makes heavy use of intarsia.  Here are photos of both the front and the back of the sleeve I'm currently slogging through.  nona loves color, so nona loves intarsia.


Intarsia lets you knit with lots of colors in a single row. 
Check out all the bobbins of yarn used to knit the current row.

January 25, 2005 in Ask nona | Permalink | Comments (5)

January 03, 2005

Ask Nona

Dear nona,

I've finished the back and front of my sweater, but am stuck on the sleeves.  Can you please decipher the sleeve directions for me:

..change to 4mm needles and cont. in stocking st inc 1 st at each end of needle on next and following 4th rows to 77 sts, then every foll 6th row to 97 sts.

Sincerely,
Sleeveless in Rockville

Dear Sleeveless,

Knitting directions can be so daunting.  They are often written tersely -- in knitting "code" -- and assume a lot of background information.  Let's see if we can walk through your sleeve directions.

  1. First, you'll need to change to your 4 mm needles.  The easiest way to do this is to knit (or purl) the next row using the new needles.  Don't worry about working any increases on this transition row.

  2. Typically, sleeve increases are worked on right side (RS) rows -- on the knit side of stockinette stitch.  Once you've changed your needles, you'll work your first increase row on the next RS row.

  3. On the next RS (knit) row, you'll increase one stitch at the beginning of the row and another stitch at the end of the row.  This is what they mean by "each end of needle".  To keep your edges smooth, do not increase in the first and last stitches of the row, instead increase in the second and second-to-last stitches of the row. Your increase row will go like this: k1, increase 1, knit to last 2 stitches, increase 1, k1.

  4. Next, how the heck do you increase 1 stitch.  Well, there are many ways to do this.  Here is my favorite:

    • Before knitting the next stitch on your left needle -- using the right needle and coming from the back, pick up the loop of the "parent" stitch and place it on the left needle.  The "parent" stitch is the loop right below the stitch sitting on the left needle. 
    • Knit the picked up parent stitch
    • Knit the next stitch
  5. Finally, "following 4th rows" means you'll work one increase row followed by 3 "plain" rows, then one increase row followed by 3 "plain" rows, etc until you have 77 sts.  Once you have 77 sts, you'll work one increase row followed by 5 "plain" rows -- "every foll 6th row" -- until you have 97 sts.

Well Sleeveless, I hope this helps you decipher your pattern directions.  If not, you know how to reach me. 

Anyone else have a question for nona?

January 3, 2005 in Ask nona, Deciphering Patterns | Permalink | Comments (16)

All patterns, designs, content, and photographs Copyright 2004-2010 nonaKnits and Carolyn Quill Steele. All rights reserved. My free patterns are available for your individual personal use as long as no profit is made from the distribution of the pattern or finished item. If you have any copyright questions or requests, please ask -- nonaKnits at gmail dot com.