March 23, 2007

Variation 2 & the Edge

March Madness baby!  A time, like no other -- except for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open -- to sit on your ass and knit.  The pleasure of knitting yesterday's swatch -- inspired by Jane's 8-patch quilt -- coupled with another basketball game resulted in Variation #2 of my 8-patch log cabin.

To quote a favorite children's song,
"2nd verse, same as the first. 
A little bit louder and a little bit worse."

If all goes as planned, I'll knit 6 variations on this simple motif and combine them into a small wall piece.  My swatching has provided ample opportunities to experiment and refine my improvisational knitting techniques.  I've recently begun using a new edge stitch taught to me by a friend who, in turn, learned it from Irene York.  This edge is excellent for proportionally square fabrics, such as garter stitch, making it neat and easy to pick up stitches or to join pieces while knitting. 

Here's the skinny:

On every row, knit into the back of the first stitch and then slip the last stitch purlwise with yarn in front.  Tersely for your enjoyment.  First stitch -> ktbl.  Last stitch -> sl wyif.

March 23, 2007 in Improvisational Knitting | Permalink | Comments (18)

March 11, 2007

Improvisational Tutorial

My love for color, short rows, and log cabin construction coupled with my fascination with the quilts of Gee’s Bend and Nancy Crow have inspired my improvisational knitting.

I've written a tutorial for those interested in giving improvisational knitting a try.  Curiosity and a sense of humor are the only prerequisites for learning this style of knitting.  Once you understand — and are comfortable — with the techniques please abandon my instructions and let your own creativity take over.  Experiment!  Be curious!  Don’t be afraid of failure!  What’s the worst that can happen!?  It’s only knitting.

Not interested in a full tutorial?  Continue reading for a list of improvisational knitting "rules of thumb". 

Here are a few heuristics to consider for your own improvisational knitting.  These are not hard and fast rules, please experiment and find what works best for you and your knitting.

  • Work in garter stitch.
  • Use the YO short row technique — it’s fast and easy to work, especially with garter stitch

  • Whenever you encounter a YO, knit the YO together with the next stitch.  This closes the gap caused by turning mid row and keeps your stitch count consistent.

  • Add a new color on a right side row.

  • You’re going to have a lot of ends, so knit your ends in as you go.  I typically knit the old color’s end in on the 1st row of the new color and the new color’s end in at the next opportunity.

  • When you add a new color, level off the current shape — more or less — before adding any new wonkiness.   This keeps the piece from getting too lop-sided.

  • For greater complexity and depth of color, use several shades or textures of the same color.

  • Think about line verses shape.  2 rows will read as a line, while 4 or more will read as a shape.

  • Keep it improvisational!  Don’t think or plan too much.  Turn when you feel like turning!  Likewise, change colors or work in a different direction when your eye or intuition tells you it’s time.

March 11, 2007 in Improvisational Knitting, Tips and Techniques | Permalink | Comments (30)

January 24, 2007

Daily Challenge

A daily challenge is as necessary and as practical a thing as a daily vitamin.  Both give us health, both give us strength.  Two days ago I knit 3 improvisational log cabin swatches (my goal is to knit a swatch a day in 2007).  Perhaps due to my quilting roots I had an intense desire to combine these 3 wonky squares into a vertical strip.  Now joined, I'm challenged to add a border along the vertical edges.  I know it's possible given a few short rows here and there.  Here's to my daily challenge!

Today's Challenge: Add borders along the vertical edges.

January 24, 2007 in Improvisational Knitting | Permalink | Comments (10)

June 14, 2006

Log Cabin Decision

Thank you, thank you, thank you opinionated commentors for weighing in the other day on my log cabin dilemma -- I whole-hearted enjoyed your 2-cents.  After much wishy-washy pondering --  one moment leaning towards one huge square as proposed by Aura, et al and the next swaying towards multiple squares as spear-headed by Colleen and crew -- I let the square decide.

The Square
Give a click, to see what the square wanted...
(Don't you love Photoshop!)

In the end the square itself put a stop to my relentless see-sawing.  As the square grew, and grew, and grew its size became unwieldy causing us to tussle a bit -- and who wants to tussle with a square?  Also, as the strips got longer and larger I felt the square started to lose some of its spontaneity.  So, in the spirit of improvisation and anti-tussle, nona's going for the 4 patch.  I think my next square will start with an orange center -- quick, back to the needles.

June 14, 2006 in Improvisational Knitting | Permalink | Comments (19)

June 08, 2006

Log Cabin Dilemma

I'm loving this log cabin square and have sore pinkies because I cannot stop knitting -- don't ask me why it's my pinkies that get sore!?  In light of my new love, I hereby officially promote this squre from experimental, who gives a damn status to full blown, work in progress.  But, opinionated reader, nona's faced with a log cabin dilemma.  Do I keep going and make one huge square?  Or do I make several related squares and patch them together?     At the moment, I'm leaning toward the 2nd alternative, as it would give me more flexability to play and experiment -- and really, isn't that what it's all about!

Growing, and growing, and growing.

June 8, 2006 in Improvisational Knitting | Permalink | Comments (25)

June 04, 2006

Knitting Your Ends In

On Fridays -- the best day of the week -- I work at my LYS.  Last Friday, I drew the short straw in your 3 car, 4 driver household and had to be dropped off 2 hours early -- not a problem when you work in a knitting store.   I grabbed a couple balls of wool, pulled out my needles and continued with my log cabin fiesta.  As Friday turned into Saturday, and Saturday into Sunday, this log cabin square continued to grow and grow.

The colors are not very accurate, but you get the idea.

I find when I'm in a knitting groove, it's best to avoid bogging yourself down with laundry, bill paying, or weaving ends in.  If presented with a plethora of ends -- like my log cabin squares -- I opt for knitting my ends in as I go.   Shall I show you...

It takes two knit stitches (repeated several times) to lock in an end.  The first stitch -- steps 1 to 5 below -- twists the end and the working yarn.  The second stitch locks in the twisted.  Repeat these 6 steps for about 2 inches to secure the end. 

Step 1 -- Hold the end in your left hand and the working yarn in your right.  In this example, the end is sage green and the working yarn is turquoise.

Insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle.
Step 2 --  Lay the end over the right needle from right to left.

Step 3 -- Wrap the working yarn as you normally would to create the new stitch.

Step 4 -- Move the end to the right and off the right needle.
Step 5 -- Finish the knit stitch by drawing the new stitch through the old and sliding the old stitch off the left needle.

This completes the first stitch and twists the end and working yarn.
Step 6 -- Without changing the positions of the end and the working yarn, knit one more stitch normally.

This locks in the twisted end.

June 4, 2006 in Improvisational Knitting, Tips and Techniques | Permalink | Comments (20)

June 01, 2006

Still At It...

Seriously, this is too much fun.  If you have yet to try your hand at knitting a log cabin patch, grab your needles, some scrap yarn, and get cracking.  Short rows are a great way to add curves and improvisation to your patch.  Do you think I could make a quilt -- I mean a real quilt with batting and all -- out of knit squares?  nona's been hip-no-tized by the log cabin and may not be thinking straight.

June 1, 2006 in Improvisational Knitting | Permalink | Comments (15)

May 31, 2006

Recess Time

The Quilts of Gee's Bend sits on my coffee table.  Over the years I've casually flipped through the book's colorful pages taking furtive glances as the quilts, but have never taken the time to study the quilts or read the text.  This silly behavior came to a halt last week and I've immersed myself in this fabulous book every since.  How can something go relatively unnoticed for so long and then suddenly become the focus of your attention -- us humans are a strange bunch.  Perhaps it was the vibrant knit log cabin blankets in the new Mason Dixon book -- another must have.  Or the news that the Gee's Bend Quilts are coming the San Francisco.  Whatever the reason, I've been dreaming about these quilts.

So, my partners in crime, what does any knitter worth her salt do when confronted with a new infatuation?  She knits it of course!  In the spirit of improvisation, I've decided to play with the log cabin construction -- no plans, no designs, no expectations -- just play.

You didn't expect the lines be straight did you?

I think I'll be playing for a few more days...

May 31, 2006 in Improvisational Knitting | Permalink | Comments (10)

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