Posts in knitting
My Favourite Makes

Truth is, this started as a simple shoot to show off Georgia's finished owlet. Then Theo wanted to come. Then Ellis. Then the dog and the super friendly rooster, Scarecrowy. Then it moved from the wall outside my studio to the back paddock overlooking the Trossachs. 

And then it turned into some of my favourite photos ever of my brood. 

Yup, the best things I've ever made. 

Faux Taxidermy Knits by Louise Walker

A couple of years ago, I remember talking to a stylist at a photo shoot about an event she had been to.  She was telling me all about these incredible knitted animal heads that hung on the wall like taxidermy.  My curiosity piqued, I began an internet hunt for their creator and stumbled across the delightful work of Louise Walker and her blog, Sincerely Louise

If you don't already have Sincerely Louise in your blog reader, go right now and do it! Its full of fun and quirky knitting patterns for the most adorable toys and accessories. Don't worry, I'll wait. 

Later this week, Louise's first book, Faux Taxidermy Knits, is out. Its full of the same kind of delightful creations as have been on her blog.  My favourite is probably the hedgehog slippers or the Croc makeup bag. 

Screenshot 2014-09-24 10.10.30.png


But I am pretty sure I know what I will be making the estate's gamekeeper for Christmas this year...

Lots of fun, sweet and very quirky makes. You can buy the book from here.  Follow the rest of the blog book tour here. 

knittingKat Goldin
Old Faithfuls

I am nothing if not a creature of habit. I like what I like. 20140423-IMG_2286

And so, its no surprise when I was reaching for something to make for a friend's baby I went back to my old faithful, Milo by Georgie Hallum. Looking at Ravelry, this is at least my 7th Milo, though there were probably more that went undocumented. It a fab wee pattern and super fun to customise. This time, I chose scandi-inspired colourwork to adorn the body.

You can see at the sides where its pulling in at the colourwork.  I should have gone down a size for the stripes to prevent this, but as these are designed to be worn with little to no ease, it felt like a bit of a faff to go to that effort.

And even more than Milo becoming my go-to pattern, the yarn, Artesano Superwash DK, has become my absolute favourite. I used it at least twice in my new book (though possibly more, I can't remember), in 2 of my current works in progress, in all of my workshops and in my Granny Square and Christmas Stars kits. It comes in a great range of colours, works up like a dream and washes so well. Its a squishy DK, so it feels like it works up quickly, rather than those technically DK, but almost Sport-weight DKs that so often cross my desk.

 

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I am also using it in my so-slow to progress pine bough cowl. This project sits in a basket next to the fire in the studio for those, I need to think and knit moments. With Blogtacular around the corner, just sitting and knitting moments are becoming increasingly scarce.

crafting, knitting, NewsKat Goldin
In Search of Perfection (KnitPro Karbonz Interchangeable Needles)

20140326-IMG_1858 Its already been established that I am the world' pickiest knitter. I am just never satisfied with my knitting needles. having tried a fair few (Addi Clicks, KnitPro Symphonies, Chiaogoo Reds) - there is always something that irritates me - the join, the length, the strength, etc.  The latter needles were aiming to be the best ever  - sharp, smooth joins, nice grip, but I began to realise that I always felt like I was fighting them.  The cable (which  is designed to never kink), combined with the 5" tips, always felt like they were pulling in opposite directions and I had to wrestle them back together. Just so much work, especially when I was using shorter cables or working at a finer gauge.

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It took me awhile to figure out the problem and then a bit longer to decide what to do about it. I really love those Chiaogoo reds, but they so often made me want to impale something - especially when I was knitting the Puerperium, so a quick sale was negotiated with a friend and a replacement was found in the form of KnitPro Karbonz.

These are carbon fibre needles with a steel tip. They have the same basic set up as the Symphonie- size and needle shape are about the same and the cables are very similar - maybe a bit stiffer, but its really hard to tell.  They are truly lovely needles. They seem unsnappable (though, I haven't tried that hard), the joins seem smooth and I was able to magic loop with them - something I simply couldn't have done with the Chiaogoos.  All in, I am just so pleased with them - a real joy to work with, even as my adult-sized superchunky weight cardigan gets heavier.

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The jumper I am working on is Aidez, worked seamlessly.  My pattern notes go into the details of what I have done to make it seamless in the 44" size. Also, every single one of my latest knitting projects is a shade of blue. Obviously, this must be my new favourite colour!

 

knitting, NewsKat Goldin
Finding a Rhythm

20140328-IMG_1877 When I first started working with (almost) full-time childcare, I felt a certain sense of obligation to work 9-5, sat at my desk, getting shit done. I felt like it was irresponsible to do anything else because I paid for childcare and  that is what I would have done if I was employed by an employer. Slowly, I realised 2 things a) I don't work in an office with a boss breathing down my neck and b) I am not particularly suited  to that kind of structure. My work and my life call for a more fluid approach to time. Sometimes, through the night work is called for, at others, a day off nursing little sickies is my occupation. Once I realised that it wasn't about the time I worked, but what I got done that was important, a new, more natural rhythm arrived. 20140328-IMG_1889 With 3 small people around, there is no question that things change quickly, but on the whole I follow the same sort of pattern each day. Always having been an early riser, its not uncommon for me to be at my desk from 4 or 5am - it gets earlier as the days get lighter. I spend the few precious hours (if I am lucky) before the kids wake up answering emails and doing any writing I need. From about 7am until Ellis catches the bus at 8:30 - its a mad race of endless rounds of toast, finding socks, wrangling the smallest one into any clothes at all, walking the dog, letting the chickens out and general craziness. Once the house is quiet - either the little ones at nursery or in the care of Dalia, the German student who has been living with us since September, I head over to the studio for a morning of work. This is my most productive time of day and I use it for working on my top priorities - grading patterns, writing blog posts, editing and working on Blogtacular. Our rural internet is on the slow side, but its best in the morning, so I try to keep this for computer time. I work until lunch, when I head back over to the house for a bit to do laundry, eat and take the dog for a walk down the road. 20140328-IMG_1883 I tend to keep the time after lunch for creative work.  Even now, in my deadline free days, I ensure that I always have something to make. At the moment, I have prioritised knitting things from other designer's patterns - both to give myself a much needed rest and to learn from others. Not having made many garments before writing Crochet at Play and then having to design them was a challenge. So far, its been a good learning experience, as well as an eye opening one (if I ever write "Work to correspond to left front, reversing all shaping and placement of pattern stitches" in a pattern, you have permission to kick me). It all has the added bonus of watching some good telly while I am legitimately working. Late afternoons and evenings are for the kids and after the walks and dinner and homework, I tend to edit and upload photos, so they can go into client dropboxes over night. 20140328-IMG_1879 And while this is the rough schedule, I also am trying to be gentle with myself after the stress of the last few months. If words aren't flowing (and there isn't something I HAVE to do that day), I don't push it. I know that things will get done and I will be working over time again soon (with the final manuscript proof for book 2 arriving to coincide with the Easter Holidays and exactly 1 month before Blogtacular, for example).

(photo is of the puerperium cardigan. Made in Bowland Dk in Damselfly by Eden Cottage Yarns.  Photographed on the piece of rotten roof that was leaking water into the kitchen and causing everyone to get a shock when they turned on the light. It is pretty though, hey?)

Bonus Week: Lifelines

Lifelines are a really useful thing to know about as your knitting gets more and more adventurous. Joanne takes us through the whys a wherefores today. What is a lifeline?

A lifeline is a line of yarn or thread that you place into your knitting to enable you to have a safe place to come back to if/when it all goes wrong.

Lifelines are particularly useful for cables, lace and any stitch patterns where the stitches are increased, decreased, slipped or rearranged as these are very hard to rip back accurately.

How do I insert a lifeline?

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2014-01-27 10.28.47

When you are at the end of a row and you are certain it is correct, take a piece of smooth yarn thinner than the working yarn, several inches longer than the row and in a contrasting colour.

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2014-01-27 10.29.29

Thread it on to a darning needle and run it one or two stitches at a time under the knitting needle.

inserting lifeline
inserting lifeline

 Continue along the row. Be careful not to split the working yarn. If you are using stitch markers then make sure you go around them NOT through them.

lifeline in place
lifeline in place

Once you have worked through all stitches remove the darning needle and leave the thread in place.

knitting past lifeline
knitting past lifeline

Work the row as normal being careful not to catch the lifeline in your stitch.

worked past lifeline
worked past lifeline

How do I use the lifeline? If you make a mistake you can use the lifeline by removing the needles from the work, gently pull the yarn so it begins to unravel, rewinding the ball as you go, when you get to the row where the lifeline is pull gently and slowly and replace the stitches onto the needle as they are unravelled being careful not to twist them. 

How often should I insert a lifeline?

How upset would you be to have to rip back to the last lifeline you inserted/the start? If you think it would make you:

  1. very cross,
  2. cry a lot, or
  3. curse in front of the children

it is time to insert a lifeline!

Happy Knitting!

Bonus Week: Lace Taster

We've already had a brief look at the joy of colour work and cables. Today Joanne introduces you to the wonderful world of lace.

lace knitting class pic
lace knitting class pic

What is Lace? Knitted lace is formed by creating yarn overs (sometimes known as yarn forward) and decreases in a pattern to form an open patterned fabric. It can be as intricate and complicated as you like.

Lace uses the same increases and decreases that we use in normal knitting. Here are definitions of the most commonly used stitches.

Yarn Over: (when moving between a knit stitch and a knit stitch)Bring the yarn from the back, over the top of the needle and behind again. A loop is left behind that sits on the needle like a stitch. Right Leaning Decrease: K2tog. Insert your needle into the next 2 sts together and knit them as one. Left leaning decrease: (there are several options here – search ssk and skp for more details but I like k2tog tbl) K2tog tbl Insert your needle into the back loop of next 2 sts and knit them as one. Double decrease: (again several options but only one that doesn't lean) CDD. Insert needle as if doing a k2tog, slip sts over, knit next stitch then pass slipped stitches over the knitted stitch.

Casting on and casting off?

Because lace is really stretchy you need a cast on and cast off that can stretch as wide as the rest of the fabric. YOu can cast on and off loosely but this takes practice and is a little unreliable. I use a special cast on shown in this video.

Slip Knot Cast On.

To cast off I knit two stitches together through the back loop and then pop the worked stitch back on the left hand needle and repeat to the end. (this is such a quick cast off, I love it!)

I'm in! Where do I start?

If you fancy giving lace a try then it is best to start out with an easy pattern. Look for one that is only worked on the right side and where the stitch count is the same at the end of every row.

Bonus Week: Cables Taster
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2013-09-28 08.44.29

Now you have the hang of knitting and purling there are so many exciting places that can take you! Yesterday Libby introduced you to colourwork and today Joanne will introduce you to the joy of cables.

What are cables ?

Cables are created by moving the order of stitches as they occur in a row for decorative effect. They are normally formed by working patterns of stocking stitch (Knit on RS, Purl on WS) on a background of reverse stocking stitch (Purl on RS, Knit on WS) or moss stitch (k1,p1). Cables are normally worked on the right side of the knitting only.

To move the stitches we use a cable needle. It can be a fancy curved one like this or just a normal double pointed needle.

Insert the cable needle into the stitch as if you were going to purl then slip it over to the cable needle without working the stitch. Do this for as many stitches as neccesary. In this example we will slip three over to the cable needle.

inserting cable needle
inserting cable needle

Hold the cable needle at the back

cable needle back
cable needle back

or front of the work depending on the instruction. In this example we are holding it at the front to make a left cross.

cable needle front
cable needle front

Work the correct number of stitches from the left hand knitting needle.

knitting over cable needle
knitting over cable needle

Then work the stitches from the cable needle

knitting from cable needle
knitting from cable needle

Continue knitting from the pattern

cable complete
cable complete

How are cables written in a pattern? Always check the description in the pattern section “special stitches” because variations in terminology do happen. The standard abbreviations work like this: C6F C denotes cable. The number denotes the total number of stitches in the procedure. The final letter tells you where to hold the stitches on the needle F is Front of work, B is back of work. So in these examples: C6F, slip 3 stitches to the cable needle and hold it at the front of the work, knit the next 3 stitches then knit the stitches on the cable needle. There is also a more descriptive convention for naming that is becoming more common (as the most popular charting software supports it) 3/3LC The numbers denote how many stitches are to be worked split by how many are travelling over how many. L or R designates the direction that the stitch is travelling in (for left hold at front, for right hold at back (I use the mnemonic RIGHT=REAR))

So those who have been paying attention will realise that 3/3LC means the same as C6F we used in our last example. And also that this is the very stitch used in the photo tutorial. Clever you for keeping up!

How do I cast on and off for cables? There are no special requirements for cables so you can use your favourite method or the method specified in the pattern. I like a knitted or cabled cast on because they give a smooth attractive cast on with minimal curling on rib.

Top tips for getting cables right

  • Cables distort the surface of the knitting. They contract the fabric meaning that the cabled section will not be as wide as a stocking stitch section. They are also not as elastic as stocking stitch.
  • Anytime you move from a knit stitch to a purl stitch there is a possibility of a ladder because of the way the yarn is moved to make the purl stitch, this is exaggerated when working a cable so be sure to pull the yarn tightly when moving between the two.
  • Cables look much more even and ‘pop’ after blocking. Blocking uses water or steam to smooth, stretch and shape the finished piece.
  • It can be helpful to place a marker at the start of each pattern repeat to help you keep track of where you are and to assist counting and correcting an error.
  • Lifelines are particularly useful for cables, lace and any stitch patterns where the stitches are increased, decreased, slipped or rearranged as these are very hard to rip back to accurately. We will cover lifelines on Thursday.
Week 4: Colourwork in Knitting

Colour, Colour, Glorious Colour!

Changing colour 

Kat has already introduced us to the process of changing colour with her tutorial early in Knit Camp.  I hope that you found this straightforward when knitting Joanne’s Knit Flat Hat.  With this technique you can easily create horizontal stripes in your work, and so you already have the basics of colourwork under your belt.

Let’s explore colourwork a little further though, as the possibilities are quite exciting beyond stripes.  This post is exactly what it says on the tin - a 'Taster', as this subject is huge, and it has been a struggle to decide what to cover.  Forgive me if I have privileged one topic over another, and I hope there is something for everyone here.

Chevron Stripes 

So, you can knit straight stripes across your work, but what about wavy stripes? These are called Chevron Stripes, and they are created by combining colourwork with shaping techniques.  Shaping is spaced evenly across the row, with a gap of a few sts or more between shaping, and alternating between decreasing and increasing.  The position of each decrease or increase is maintained vertically on every other row, and this creates the up and down shape of the stripes.  You can change colour whenever you want (as long as its at the beginning of a row), but I would suggest always changing colour on a right side row, because this way, you can carry the yarns up the side of your work for when they are next in use, and avoid having too many ends to sew in!

This is a fun technique to experiment with.  Chevron stripes can be knitted in st st or garter stitch or a combination.  Carry yarn up the side in the same way as shown for st st stripes.

Katy Blanket
Katy Blanket

This pic is of my Katy Blanket design, showing chevron stripes in stocking stitch

How about knitting with more than one colour in one row?

Knitting with a contrasting colour across a whole row is relatively easy.  However, knitting with more than one colour in one row will need a little more explanation.  The simplest way to do this, is to use what is called the ‘slip stitch technique’.  It gives the appearance of two colours in one row, without any of the effort!  Only one colour is actually employed in any one row, but more than one colour appears in the fabric.  The stitch worked in the previous row in a different colour is carried vertically by slipping it rather than working it.  There are many different stitch patterns that can be created using this technique by varying the number of stitches slipped or knitted, and by varying the wrong side row pattern too.

Here is a very simple pattern you might like to try.  When it says ‘sl pwide’ the pattern means ‘slip the stitch purlwise’ which you do by just inserting your right hand needle into the st as IF you were going to purl it, but then move it onto your right hand needle without purling it.

Bird's Eye pattern
Bird's Eye pattern

Bird’s Eye Pattern (muliple of 2 sts)

Row 1 (RS): *K1 in A, sl pwise; rep from * to last st, k1 in A.

Row 2: P in Yarn A.

Row 3: *sl pwise, k1 in Yarn B; rep from * to end.

Row 4: P in Yarn B

The really serious stuff

Ok, I am just putting of the inevitable - introducing you to the concept of stranded knitting.  Stranded knitting is a generic term which is applied to various different styles of colour knitting, all of which use the same basic technique for getting colours from one position to another in the same row.  The technique involves carrying the yarn across the work horizontally.  

So, let’s assume you are knitting in stocking stitch on a right side row (knit).  Imagine the pattern calls for you to knit one stitch in Yarn A, followed by 3 sts in Yarn B.  Knit the st in Yarn A, then pick up and use Yarn B for the next 3 sts.  So what next?  How do you get Yarn A to the next st, to repeat the pattern?  Drop Yarn B and pick up Yarn A, passing it behind the 3 sts knitted in Yarn B on the wrong side of fabric, making sure that the yarn is at the same tension as the 3 knitted sts.  So, whatever width is taken up by the 3 sts, sitting in a well behaved position on your needle, neither touching nor desperately trying to get away from each other - that needs to be the same width as the amount of yarn that is carried across.  Does that sound over complicated?  Well, its not meant to me.  Please don’t get your tape measure out - just relax!

Carry Yarn B across back of sts knitted in Yarn A
Carry Yarn B across back of sts knitted in Yarn A
Carry Yarn A underneath Yarn B
Carry Yarn A underneath Yarn B

If you would like to really explore this subject in depth, I can highly recommend Ann Kingstone’s book on Stranded Knitting called Stranded Knits:

Many designers, like Ann, primarily use circular needles, and all their colourwork is knitted in the round, which has significant advantatages when knitting with different colours.  However, if you don’t fancy circular knitting or would like to have a go at stranded knitting but don’t feel confident to do circular knitting at the same time, then stranded knitting is perfectly possible on straight needles, particularly if you choose a pattern that doesn’t have too many colours and doesn’t have more than two colours on any one row.  I confess to being a die-hard straight needle knitter, and I knit moreorless everything on straight needles.  All my patterns which call for a bit of stranded knitting are knitted on straight needles.

If you are going to try stranded knitting, apply a bit of technique to your stranding.  Your main colour is your Dominant Yarn, and you would be best advised to carry this across the work at a lower level than the other colour.  If you are working with three colours (more unusual in one row), then there will be three levels.  Carrying the yarn across at the same level is will give your layer of strands an even appearance and moreover, you will not get your different strands of yarn tangled up and twisted as you work.

As previously mentioned, there are lots of different styles of knitting that use the techniques above (and more!).  There is usually a fascinating cultural and historical story and practical purpose behind each of these schools of knitting.   Here are some links for you to explore different styles of colour knitting:

Fair Isle Knitting: Originating from the Island of Fair Isle off the West Coast of Scotland.

Scandinavian Knitting: I couldn't find much on this, but here is a link to some lovely designs in Scandinavian style.

Icelandic Knitting: I was looking for some information about Icelandic Knitting and got distracted by this fantasy of a Knitting Tour of Iceland!

Andean and Peruvian Knitting: I love this National Geographic photo of a Peruvian man knitting a multi-coloured 'Chullo' - a tradional Andean Hat.  There is not much information on the internet about this incredibly interesting tradition of knitting, but I have found out that the men do the knitting and the women do the weaving. This might be a useful fact to bring up sometime...

Intarsia

When a pattern calls for blocks of colour worked over more than 4-5 sts, stranded knitting is not an appropriate technique.  Instead, different sections of colour need to be worked from separate balls of yarn, often wound onto bobbins for ease.  The yarns are twisted together at the point of colour change, to stop holes appearing and keep the evenness of the fabric on the right side.  Intarisa techniques are used to create motifs and collage, or even for patchwork effects.  These might be all over patterns, or they might be a single motif on a plain stocking stitch background.  Intarsia knitting is always worked from a chart, such as the one below.  You might like to try knitting this with some of your left over yarn from Knit Camp.

An intarsia chart for you to try
An intarsia chart for you to try

More tips for colour knitting

A few final thoughts and hints.....

  • Knitting with two colours per row is far easier than knitting with three or more colours.  This doesn’t mean your project has to be restricted to two colours, as other colours can be used in other rows, and the interest created this way.  A good design will be well written with the user in mind.  Scan through the pattern before buying  to see if you are going to have to use more than two colours in any one row.
  • Choose a wool yarn wherever possible, as wool fibres tend to cling together, minimising any holes or evenness in your tension.
  • Join the yarn in loosely, by just starting to knit with the new colour (leaving a 5cm end to sew in later), without tying a knot.  Knots should never be tied in knitting, even when sewing up.  They have a habit of popping through from the wrong side to the right side, and as well as being unsightly, they create extra bulk and unevenness in your fabric.
  • If working with small amounts of lots of different colours, it can be helpful to measure out a length of yarn from your ball, wind it round a bobbin and work from this instead of the ball.  The bobbin is lighter than the ball, and easier to manoeuvre.
  • If you are really keen, and are a continental knitter, you can also get a knitting thimble or Strickfingerhut, which is a guide for holding yarn on your left finger.
  • Knitters who have adopted the English style of knitting, will probably find that they will ‘throw’ the yarn, using their RH, dropping the yarn not used as they pick up the new colour. Alternatively, they may find a method of holding both colours between their RH fingers.  Continental knitters, will hold both colours between their left hand fingers.  Knitters who are accomplished in both techniques, may find that they can hold one colour in one hand and one in the other.   Experiment to find what works for you, as there is no ‘right’ way.

More information and patterns for colourwork

Let's Knit have lots of free patterns using various different techniques for using colour.

Search on ravelry for patterns.  Type in 'colourwork' for starters, then you can refine your search to the items you want to look for.

The UK Hand Knitting Association is a great resource for free patterns, as well as being packd with information for knitters about workshops, tutorials, events and more.  Its well worth familiarising yourself with this site and adding to your favourites.

Lion Brand Giveaway with Deramores

It used to be there was a strong US/UK divide when it came to yarn.  Yes, there was some cross over with Noro, Rowan and a few others, but on the whole, yarn brands were very different on either side of the pond. It amazes me as an American in the UK to see more and more of the US brands I am familiar with to be increasingly available here.  One of the most notable cross overs has to be the arrival of Lion Brand Yarn to Deramores.

I have to admit to having a special place in my heart for Lion Bran and, specifically, Vanna's Choice.  I am not normally a huge fan of acrylic, but the woman who taught me to crochet, my Grandma Ethel, was obsessed with Vanna White. Vanna was more than just a game show host, Grandma talked about her like a friend---the details of whose life she learned from the selection of tabloid newspapers at the grocery store check out. Every night we would watch Wheel of Fortune, with Grandma Ethel crocheting away on enormous acrylic ripple blankets in colour combinations only the 1980's could dream up. Grandma would talk loudly over the telly, telling us all about Vanna - her kids, her houses, what she liked to wear and eat.   I simply can't see a mention of Vanna's Choice yarn and not be transported back to that livingroom in Bethany, Missouri.

lion-brand-prize-photoWell, Deramores has graciously offered to give away 1 pack of Lion Brand yarn shown above!  The competition is open world wide and all you need to do is hop over to the competition page to enter.  The give-away is open world wide and closes on the 31st of January.

Good Luck!

deramores-logo-2014Thanks to Deramores for sponsoring the giveaway!

 

 

Week 3: Sewing School

Perhaps the most loathed of knit-related tasks is finishing: edging, sewing up, weaving in ends, blocking...they all get a  bad name.  I get it, when you finish that final stitch, you just want to be DONE.  But, trust me, using some basic finishing techniques will really make your project shine.  

Weaving in Ends:

Once you reach the end of your work, cut the yarn, leaving at least a 6” tail.

IMG_0770
IMG_0770

Pull the tail through the last loop to secure your stitches. Use a tapestry needle to weave the remaining ends in securely into the back of your work. If you are working in rows or garter stitch, there may not be a clear wrong side, so use your pattern for guidance or choose one. Weaving the end into 3-4 stitches in 3-4 different directions will ensure they do not pop out later.

To Knot or Not to Knot:

Some people really like to tie off their yarn. This can work well in some situations to secure your end if your project is going to get a lot of use.  However, knots have a tendency to work themselves to the font of your project and always in a place that is super obvious.  In most cases, if you are working with a wool yarn, the yarn will be "sticky" enough to keep the ends in place an no tying is needed.

Sewing Up and On

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IMG_0773
IMG_0774
IMG_0774
IMG_0775
IMG_0775

Running Stitch: Thread needle with yarn and work up and down through the fabric with even spaces between the stitches.

or

IMG_0773
IMG_0773
IMG_0774
IMG_0774
IMG_0776
IMG_0776

Back Stitch: Backstitch is similar to running stitch, except you will work a portion of the stitches back on themselves. Pull the stitch through the fabric and then back into the underside behind where the thread came out. The needle is carried under the fabric to the point of the new stitch, where it is brought up again and back to where the thread was brought up on the last stitch.

There are  other stitches you can use, depending on the effect you want. Blanket Stitch and Whip Stitch are both very popular and can be used for decorative edging. Mattress Stitch is the ultimate invisible seam between two edges of knitting, but can be a bit tricky to get the hang of.

Patterned Hottie
knit camp-016-Edit
knit camp-016-Edit

Today's pattern is by the very talented Libby Summers.

Materials:

1 litre sized hot water bottle (18 litre bottle measures 15.5cm/6 in wide x 25cm/10 in high)

50g Libby Summers’ Fine Aran in 101 Lima

Tension:

18 sts and 24 rows in stocking stitch to 10 cm/4in using 5mm needles (or size needed to achieve tension)

Abbreviations:

RS- Right Side

K- Knit

P- Purl

M1- Make one st by picking up loop in row below and knitting into the back of  it

St(s)- Stitch(es)

K2tog- Knit two stitches together, insert needle as to knit through the next two sts on the needle, knit them as one stitch.

Kfb- Knit into front and back of st (thus making one extra stitch)

Pattern:

Front (make 1)

Cast on 24 sts.

DSC_0980
DSC_0980

Pattern 1:

Row 1: Kfb, k to last 2 sts, kfb, k1.  26 sts

Row 2: Knit.

Row 3: As row 1.  28 sts

Row 4: Knit.

Row 5: Knit.

Purl 5 rows.

Knit 5 rows.

Purl 5 rows.

DSC_0989
DSC_0989

Pattern 2:

DSC_0996
DSC_0996

Row 21 (RS): *P4, k4; rep from * to last 4 sts, p4.

Row 22: *K4, p4; rep from * to last 4 sts, k4.

Rows 23-24: As Rows 21- 22.

Row 25: *K4, p4; rep from * to last 4 sts, k4.

Row 26: *P4, k4; rep from * to last 4 sts, p4.

Rows 27-28: As Rows 25-26.

Rows 29-44: As Rows 21-28.

Knit 5 rows.

Pattern 3:

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DSC_1011

Row 50 (WS): P1, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 2 sts, k1, p1.

Row 51: Knit.

Row 52: As Row 1.

Row 53: K2tog, k to last 2 sts, k2togtbl. 26 sts

Row 54: *K1, p4; to last st, k1.

Row 55: As Row 53. 24 sts

Row 56: *P4, k1; rep from * to last 4 sts, p4.

Row 57: As Row 53. 22 sts

Row 58: P3, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 4 sts, k1, p3.

Row 59: As Row 53. 20 sts

Row 60: P2, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 3 sts, k1, p2.

Row 61: Knit.

Rep last 2 rows until work measures 18cm from beginning of Pattern 3, ending with a WS row (as row 60).

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DSC_1015

Increase section:

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DSC_1020

Row 1 (RS): K1, M1, k to last st, M1, k1. 22 sts

Row 2: P3, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 4 sts, k1, p3.

Row 3: As Row 1. 24 sts

Row 4: *P4, k1; rep from * to last 4 sts, p4.

Row 5: As Row 1. 26 sts

Row 6: *K1, p4; rep from * to last st, k1.

Row 7: As Row 1. 28 sts

Row 8: P1, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 2 sts, k1, p1.

Knit 5 rows.

Cast off.

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DSC_1023

Back

Work as for Front until end of Pattern 2.  Knit one extra row, then cast off.

Making Up

With right side facing you, fold top section (pattern 3) of front over so that right sides are together and five rows of garter stitch just before the beginning of top section match up with six rows of garter stitch at the end of front.

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DSC_0002 2

With wrong side facing you, place back piece on top of front piece, making sure that cast off edge of back piece comes above the six rows of garter stitch at end of front piece.  Pin in place.

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DSC_0005

Sew pieces together using back stitch, leaving flap opening.  Turn right side out.

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DSC_0008
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DSC_0020
Casting Off

What is casting off?Casting off is a technique which creates a selvedge on your knitted fabric, simultaneously securing your stitches and stopping them going any further. If you wish to add to your creation after casting off, you will have to re-create the loops you have lost by ‘picking up’ some more stitches along either the cast off selvedge or one of your other selvedges (your sides or cast on edge). Sometimes casting off also occurs over just a few stitches, when creating an armhole, or buttonhole for example.

How many different methods of casting off are there? There are different methods for casting off, the choice of which can sometimes be determined by either the decorative effect desired or the practical need required. There are definitely less cast off methods than cast on methods however, and even fewer commonplace ones. So for casting off, I would recommend just one method for beginners. As for the cast on tutorial, if you are interested in learning more methods, then I can recommend the book ‘Cast On Bind Off’ by Leslie Ann Bestor.

Can I skip this step and just pull the loops off the needles? No! Without securing your stitches in some way, your knitting will unravel.

What mistakes might I make while casting off? Making a mistake while casting off is not any more drastic than making a mistake in your knitting. The most likely result of any mistake is that one or more stitches will unravel, or will need unravelling. Just tug the yarn gently (the end attached to your ball), and the stitch should come undone. Be careful not to pull too hard or you may undo more than one row. If you have managed to tie a knot that doesn’t respond to gentle tugging, or your stitch has dropped to the previous row, then you may need to unravel back to the previous row.

A common error is to make the stitches too tight or too loose, but usually too tight. Take a look at the photo of the finished cast on row, and try and copy the ‘look’. If the air pocket between your stitch and the needle is too big, your cast on edge will be baggy, if it is too small, your knitting will be pulled in at the top, and so the shape of your work will be compromised. It is important that your tension is even across the cast off row. Some people always swap to a bigger needle to cast off as then they don’t need to concentrate too hard not to do it too tightly. I would experiment before taking this step to see how your cast off turns out.

Once you have cast off, you are ready to sew up you seams and then you have completed your knitting.

Knit two stitches in the usual way.

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DSC_0033

Take hold of the first knitted stitch with your LH needle ready to pass it over the second knitted stitch.

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DSC_0034

And pass it over the second knitted stitch, making sure the second stitch stays on the RH needle.

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DSC_0036

Knit another stitch so that you have two stitches on the RH needle again.

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DSC_0038

And repeat steps 2 - 3.

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DSC_0044

Repeat across the row until you have one stitch left on the RH needle.

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DSC_0046

Enlarge the last stitch and cut the yarn. (Read the pattern carefully at this point as there may be instructions on how long to leave the end).

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DSC_0048

Thread the cut end through the stitch and pull gently until the stitch is the same size as the other cast off stitches.

Week 2: Changing Colours
  • Colour changes are normally worked on Right Side rows - this makes the colour change look clean and neat.
  • When its time to change colours, drop the first colour and, leaving a long tail, knit a stitch with the new colour.
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20140116-IMG_0689
  • The first stitch will be very loose. That is OK, after you work a few stitches in the new colour, you can tighten the stitch by gently pulling on the tail.
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20140116-IMG_0690
  • Continue working in your new colour, leaving your old colour where you dropped it.
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20140116-IMG_0691
  • If you are working stripes in only a few colours and with a stripes only a few inches wide, you can carry your colours up the side of your work. What this means is you do not have to break the yarn each time, just drop the yarn you have been working with, bring the ball end of the new yarn around under the old yarn to wrap it in place and start knitting. This means a lot less ends to weave in.
  • When it comes time to weave in the ends, use a tapestry needle and work the loose ends through a number of the purl bumps on the back of the work. Don't work in a straight line, rather work in a number of different directions to better secure the yarn.
Week 2: Decreasing
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20140116-IMG_0696-Edit

In Knitting, there are 2 main decreases - ones that lean to the left and ones that lean to the right. We will be only looking at 2 here:

Knit Two Stitches Together (k2tog):

This decrease leans to the right.

Insert needle as to knit through the next two sts on the needle, knit them as one stitch.

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20140116-IMG_0698

Slip, Slip, Knit (ssk):

Insert needle into next stitch as if to knit it, slip it onto the other needle without knitting it,

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20140116-IMG_0699
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20140116-IMG_0701

do the same to the next stitch,

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20140116-IMG_0702

insert your needle through the back of the two sts just slipped and knit them together as one stitch.

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20140116-IMG_0703
Week 2: How to Read a Knitting Pattern

I always think its helpful to think of knitting (and crochet) patterns as being written in code. Its not a hard code to crack and most of the tools for deciphering the instructions are found either in the pattern or easily assessable online or in most knitting books. Throughout the pattern, the stitches used will be usually written in abbreviated form. Hopefully, these are detailed at the start of your pattern, but they may not be. In knitting, these tend to be pretty standard, without the added complication of many UK vs US differences. My go to knitting abbreviation resource is the Craft Yarn Council's list. Its a great place to start if there is something you don't know.

Row 1(RS):

At the start of your pattern, you should be able to see if it is worked in rows or rounds. There is often an indication of whether the side facing you is the right side or the wrong side of your work.

*K2, p2; repeat from * to last 2, k2.

* and [ ] are used to show a stitch pattern is repeated. When you have an astrix, this means you repeat stitch sequence between the * and the ; to a certain end point, such as the end of the round, the end of the row, a stitch marker or, in this case, the last 2 stitches.

[K2, p2] 44 times, k2.

When square brackets are used, it means that the instructions inside should be repeated a set number of times. In the case of the Knit Flat Hat, both of these instructions tell you to do the same thing, they are just different ways of expressing them.

Rows 3-10: As rows 1 and 2.

Repeating rows can be written a number of different ways. In this case, you will work rows 1 and 2 a total of 5 times. This may also be written, "Work rows 1 and 2 a total of 5 times".

Work even until the piece measures 10 cm.

When you see "work even" in a pattern, this means that you should work in the main stitch pattern, without increasing or decreasing. It may be that it tells you to work even for a set number of rows, or until your work is a certain length. If you are measuring, make sure you lay your work on a flat surface and don't stretch it out.

Row 2 (4, 6): K3 (5, 7), P3 (5, 7). (6 (10, 14) sts)

Patterns that come in a range of sizes will have instructions in ( ).  Reading from left to right, the numbers relate to the directions for the size from smallest to largest. It may help to go through and highlight the numbers as they relate to the size you are making.

At the end of rows where there is a change to the number of stitches, there should be an indication of what the stitch count should be.  This are often written in ( ) or [ ]. These are not an instruction for making stitches, just an aid to tell you how many you should have.

 

Any other of the basic instructions I have forgotten or any questions? Let me know below!

Knit Flat Hat

Welcome to Week 2 of Knit Camp. This week, we are woking through this stripey hat, designed by Joanne Scrace.  We will also be covering: How to Read Knitting Patterns, Tension, Decreasing and Casting Off. Don't feel like you have to *get* everything in this pattern from the beginning. We will be working through the sections as we go this week. Remember, the tutorials will be online forever more, so you can work through them at your own pace.

knit camp-017-Edit-2
knit camp-017-Edit-2

Materials:

50g Libby Summers’ Fine Aran in 660 Larama (Main Colour)

24g Libby Summers’ Fine Aran in 890 Kulli (Contrast Colour)

Tension:

18 sts and 24 rows in stocking stitch to 10 cm/4in using 5mm needles (or size needed to achieve tension)

Abbreviations:

MC – Main Colour

CC – Contrast Colour

RS – Right side

WS – Wrong side

K – Knit

P – Purl

K2tog – Knit two stitches together. Insert needle as to knit through the next two sts on the needle, knit them as one stitch.

SSK – slip, slip, knit. Insert needle into next stitch as if to knit it, slip it onto the other needle without knitting it, do the same to the next stitch, insert your needle through the back of the two sts just slipped and knit them together as one stitch.

St(s) – Stitch(es).

Pattern:

Starting at the brim:

Using the MC, cast on 90 sts.

Row 1(RS): *K2, p2; repeat from * to last 2, k2.

Row 2: K1, p1, *k2, p2; rep from * to last 4 sts, k2, p1, k1.

Rows 3-10: As rows 1 and 2.

Row 11(RS): Knit.

Row 12: K1, purl to last st, k1.

Row 13 - 16: Change to CC, work as rows 11 and 12.

Rows 17 – 18: Change to MC, work as rows 11 and 12.

Rows 19 – 20: Change to CC, work as rows 11 and 12.

Rows 21-22: Change to MC, work as rows 11 and 12.

Rows 23 – 24: Change to CC, work as rows 11 and 12.

Break CC yarn leaving tail long enough to weave in.

Rows 25 – 36: Change to MC, work as rows 11 and 12.

Begin Decreasing:

Row 37(RS): K1, *k2tog, k7, ssk; repeat from * to last st, k1. (74 sts)

Row 38 and all even rows: As Row 12.

Row 39: K1, *k2tog, k5, ssk; repeat from * to last st, k1. (58 sts)

Row 41: K1, *k2tog, k3, ssk; repeat from * to last st, k1. (42 sts)

Row 43: K1, *k2tog, k1, ssk; repeat from * to last st, k1. (26 sts)

Row 45: K1, *k2tog; rep from * to last st, k1. (14 sts)

Break yarn, leaving a long tail (almost as long as your arm). Thread the tail with a darning needle, and weave it through the remaining sts then pull them off the needle. Pull tight and fasten with a stitch. With wrong sides together and using 1 st on each side as a selvedge seam the hat. Weave in all ends. Wash and leave to dry flat.

Week 1: Purl

English Style Purl:

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20140108-IMG_0514

1. Hold your working yarn at the front of your work.

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20140108-IMG_0511

2. Insert your right handed needle  from back to front through the front leg of the stitch on your left needle.

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20140108-IMG_0512

3. Going over the top of your right needle, bring the yarn over and down (counterclockwise) around your needle.

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20140108-IMG_0513

4. Using your right needle, pull the loop you just made on your right needle through the loop on your left needle, letting that loop slide off the left needle.  You should have 1  more stitch on your right needle and 1 less stitch on your left needle.

Repeat steps 1-3 for all of the stitches on your right hand needle or as many stitches as required.

Continental Style Purl:

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20140108-IMG_0488

1. Bring your yarn to the front of your work.

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20140108-IMG_0489

2. Insert your right handed needle  from back to front through the front leg of the stitch on your left needle.

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20140108-IMG_0490

3. Going over the top of your right needle, bring the yarn over and down.

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20140108-IMG_0491

4. Keeping your yarn held down, use your right needle to pull the loop you just made on your right needle through the loop on your left needle.

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20140108-IMG_0492

5. Let the loop from the left hand needle slide off.  You should have 1 more stitch on your right needle and 1 less stitch on your left needle.

Repeat steps 1-3 for all of the stitches on your right hand needle or as many stitches as required.

Note: Continental purl can be a bit tricky at first. Practice  really does make perfect.

That is all of this week's lessons.  Keep practicing over the weekend and if you need any help, head over to the Facebook Group!!

Week 1: Knit

Ok. You've got your needles and yarn. You have cast on and now comes the moment of truth: Knitting. At a most basic level, knitting is only 2 stitches: Knit and Purl. Yes, there are other things you can do, but knit and purl are the building blocks of knitting.

The posts today and tomorrow will show you both English Style (yarn held in the right hand) and Continental Style (yarn held in the left hand). In my experience, crocheters learning to knit will often find that it is easier if they hold the yarn in the same hand for knitting as crochet, so if you are right handed, this means holding the yarn in your left, aka Continental.  That said, if you have learned to knit before and are in the UK, you probably were taught English Style. Both are absolutely the right way and both have their benefits and drawbacks. Importantly, do what feels comfortable to you.

English Style: Knit

Holding the Yarn and Needles:

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20140108-IMG_0497

Hold the needle with your cast on stitches in your left hand and your empty needle with your right. The working yarn should be at the right side of your stitches. In English Style Knitting, the yarn is held in your right hand.  Usually, you will thread the yarn through your fingers to keep tension in the yarn.  How you do this is entirely up to you.

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20140108-IMG_0498

1. With your working yarn held to the back of your work, insert your right handed needle  from front to back through the front leg of the first stitch on your left needle.

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20140108-IMG_0521
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20140108-IMG_0523
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20140108-IMG_0502

2. Bring your yarn under, around then over the top of the right hand needle. Initially, it may be easiest to hold both of the needles in your left hand and bring the yarn around with your whole hand.  With time, may knitters can use just one finger to bring the yarn around the needle.

3. Using your right needle, pull the loop you just made on your right needle through the loop on your left needle.

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20140108-IMG_0503

4. Let the loop from that loop slide off the left needle.  You should have 1 stitch on your right needle and 1 less stitch on your left needle.

Repeat steps 1-3 for all of the stitches on your right hand needle or as many stitches as required. At the end of the row, all of your stitches will have been worked onto your right hand needle.

To continue onto the next row, you will turn your work, placing the needle with the stitches on it in your left hand and the working yarn to the right and side of your work.

Continental Style:

Holding the Yarn and Needles:

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20140108-IMG_0481

Hold the needle with your cast on stitches in your left hand and your empty needle with your right. The working yarn should be at the right side of your stitches. You will hold the working yarn in your left hand.  Usually, you will thread the yarn through your fingers to keep tension in the yarn.  How you do this is entirely up to you.

Knit

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20140108-IMG_0483

1. With your working yarn held to the back, insert your right handed needle  from front to back through the front leg of the first stitch on your left needle.

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20140108-IMG_0484

2. Going over the top of your right needle, bring the yarn over and down.

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20140108-IMG_0485

3. Using your right needle, pull the loop you just made on your right needle through the loop on your left needle.

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20140108-IMG_0486

4. Let the loop from the left needle slip off as you move your new stitch further down the right needle.  You should have 1 stitch on your right needle and 1 less stitch on your left needle.

Repeat steps 1-3 for all of the stitches on your right hand needle or as many stitches as required.

At the end of the row, all of your stitches will have been worked onto your right hand needle.

To continue onto the next row, you will turn your work, placing the needle with the stitches on it in your left hand and the working yarn to the right and side of your work.

Need more help? Check out these other videos and tutorials:

English Knitting

Continental Knitting

Week 1: Casting On

This morning, we have Libby Summers here to show you 2 different methods of casting on. Starting out, you may find one is easier than the other, so give them both a try. Casting On

What is casting on? Casting on is a technique which creates a set of loops, knotted at the base and placed on your knitting needles, to provide a foundation row for you to work on to created your knitted fabric.

How many different methods of casting on are there? There are many different methods for casting on, the choice of which is usually determined by either the decorative effect desired or the practical need required. However, a beginner need only start with one or two methods. The Knit Camp tutorials cover two methods, one which is easy to master and creates a decorative and elastic base, the other which is more difficult, but creates a firm and discrete edge which can be used for most patterns. If you are interested in learning more methods, than I can recommend the book ‘Cast On Bind Off’ by Leslie Ann Bestor.

Can I skip this step and get straight on to the knitting? No! Without your foundation row you can knit nothing!

What if I make a mistake? Making a mistake while casting on is less drastic than making a mistake in your knitting, as there is not much time or effort lost in starting again. The most likely result of any mistake is that one or more stitches will unravel, or will need unravelling. Just tug the yarn gently (the end attached to your ball), and the stitch should come undone. If you have managed to tie a knot that doesn’t respond to gentle tugging, then it is best to start the whole cast on edge again and the knot will need to be unravelled by hand. A common error is to make the stitches too tight or too loose. Take a look at the photo of the finished cast on row, and try and copy the ‘look’. If the air pocket between your stitch and the needle is too big, your cast on edge will be baggy, if it is too small, you will have difficulty knitting your first row, and the cast on edge will be tight. It is important that every stitch has a more or less identical tension in relation to the needle. A common problem for beginners is uneven stitches. I would suggest that, boring though it might seem, you practice the techniques until you have a good even cast on edge to work with. You will be frustrated by trying to progress with a set of wonky uneven cast on stitches.

Thumb Method This is one of the easiest methods of casting on, and is be done with just one needle. The new stitches are created with your right hand, by twisting the yarn between your fingers to create a new loop. This method of casting on creates a loose and slightly decorative edge, which is appropriate for garter stitch patterns, or knit and purl patterns. The thumb method is easier to master, but take care when knitting your first row not to knit too loosely, as the cast on edge can look ‘loopy’ if not done evenly.

Cross yarn over
Cross yarn over

1. Make a slip knot. Start by crossing your yarn over as shown, with the short end on the left.

Making a slip knot
Making a slip knot

2. Push the long end of yarn through the loop created, so it just peeks out the other side, as shown.

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DSC_0032

3. Holding the top of the loop created with you LH, and both long and short end between the fingertips of your RH, pull the yarn gently to create a knot at the base of the loop.

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DSC_0112

4. You can now adjust the size of the loop by pulling one end only.

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DSC_0034

5. Put your slip knot on one of your needles, and pull both lengths of yarn gently but firmly so that the loop adjusts to the size of the needle. This becomes a ‘stitch’, and this needle will be held in your left hand (LH).

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DSC_0036

6. To create your next stitch, first cross over the long length of yarn attached to the ball, holding the loop created between the fingers and thumb of your RH. Hold the first stitch at the base of the stitch between the fingers and thumb of your LH.

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DSC_0037

7. With your RH, twist the yarn once, to strengthen the base of the loop, holding the top of the loop with your RH thumb to ensure the twist stays in place.

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DSC_0038

8. Slip the loop onto your needle, ensuring that the yarn remains twisted as you do so. Continue to hold the first stitch at the base of the stitch between the fingers and thumb of your LH.

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DSC_0039

9. As you place the stitch on the needle, keep the tension in the yarn by continuing to hold it between the fingers and thumb of your RH.

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DSC_0040

10. With your RH, pull the yarn attached to the ball to bring the second stitch close to the first and adjust the tension to create an even stitch.

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DSC_0104

Repeat steps 6 - 10 for each stitch until you have the desired number of stitches on your needle. Now you are ready to knit. You don't need to turn your work over - you are ready to go!

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DSC_0106

The picture above shows how the cast on edge appears after two rows of knitting.