Monday, 13 October 2014

Slip stitch colourwork

I was talking to somebody about slipstitch colourwork recently and it turns out the technique is not very well known and because my latest cowl pattern in Knitscene Winter 2014 uses this exact technique, I thought I'd do a little how-to post to cover it.

Slip stitch colourwork encompasses a whole range of different stitch patterns, from stocking stitch and garter based that often create a picture-like pattern, to geometric mosaic (these are more rigid in appearance), and to those that include cables or purl stitches to create texture and movement of the stitch pattern. You can easily use more than two colours to work such patterns or even use variegated yarn as your base or your contrasting colour, but no matter how simple or complex the stitch pattern is, all of them will rely on the same rules:
  1. You only work with one colour/strand of yarn at a time 
  2. Each colour is worked over two rows
  3. The Right Side row always sets the pattern and the Wrong Side row duplicates it
  4. Some of the stitches in a row will be slipped and that's what creates the pattern

In this simple swatch the boxy pattern is created by slipping the green (main colour) stitches while working the contrasting colour rows. 
The pattern is worked in multiples of 4 stitches over 8 rows with the red border marking a single repeat.

First the two rows of stocking stitch are worked with main colour. On row 3 the contrast colour (blue) is joined and as you can see that all the magic of creating that mosaic effect is happening on the following two rows. Slipping some of the green stitches, unworked, onto the right hand needle creates an elongated V on the right side of fabric. These V's sort of sit atop of the fabric pulled up from the 2nd row until you work them again in row 5.

I will go over the stitch pattern row by row to show you how it's done here:
Row 1: With main colour (MC) knit.
Row 2: With MC purl.
Row 3: With contrast colour (CC) knit 2 sts, slip next stitch purl-wise on to the right needle with yarn in back, k1.
Repeat the step above to end of your row. You should see the pattern starting to emerge.
Row 4: With CC *purl 2 stitches, slip the following stitch purl-wise on to the right hand needle with yarn in front of it; repeat from * to end.
After the first 4 rows of pattern the elongated MC stitches will have created long V's on the Right side of knitting.
The following two rows are worked in MC again and so on.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Kung Fu Knits by Elizabeth Green-Musselman, a review

Kung Fu Knits by Elizabeth GM

About three years ago Elizabeth Green-Musselman spoke to me about a series of booklet ideas she had, tentatively titled What Kids Want, trying to bridge the everyday wearables with fantasy play. 

As a designer [and a knitter] of kids' knitwear myself I can tell you that kids can be a picky audience. I think that Elizabeth's concept of combining a comic with knitting patterns for fun is innovative and brilliant at once. I love that the way she approached the patterns is by looking at how the what-they-want can be made, translated into a knit.

A little about the book:
Kung Fu Knits is a collaboration between Elizabeth and a totally awesome [as phrased by my own growing cartoonist wannabe] illustrator, Ben Bender. The comic that introduces the patterns is clever and entertaining, the patterns are well written and are complete with clear schematics to help you choose the right size for your kid. There are six patterns in the book, from GI uniform that's sized up to fit kids from 4 to 12 years old, to your Kung Fu [soft] weapons of choice and a pretty neat bag for all the things. 

ISBN 978-1937513610
Available from Cooperative Press and all good book stores.

Watch the book's introduction trailer:

Friday, 3 October 2014

Ravenna Cowl

Slip stitch knitting, often referred to as mosaic knitting, is something I first learnt well before I knew how to do stranded colour work and if you ever wanted to make your own knits with more than just one colour, it's a great way to start. Essentially mosaic knitting is just working in stripes, two stripes at a time, with some slipped stitches to extend the colour from the previous round into the one you are working. The result resembles stranded knitting somewhat, it's not exactly that if you look close enough, the fabric appears to be worked in two colours (or more sometimes), but is actually a combination of stripes and slipped stitches.
All in all it's a great technique to know and produces some fab results: from boxy patterns, to single  contrast stitches traveling on the background, to nubbly textures with some pops of colour like this one:

© Knitscene/Harper Point

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Barcelona Yarn Stores

Amidst all the sightseeing and beach lounging I just couldn't pass an opportunity to visit some Barcelona yarn stores. I visited three, but there were more and I wish I had more time to roam them, but alas, kids and yarn petting don't always go hand in hand.

 First one on the list is All You Knit is Love, located right next to the Picasso Museum. 

A charming store with plenty of character and a very good range of yarn, from your international staples like Malabrigo, Garnstudio and some known sock yarns to locally dyed luxury fibres. The lady behind the counter turned out to be a local yarn dyer, called Greata from Greta and the Fibres, covering up for the owners. Coincidentally, I already picked a couple of her skeins by the time I realised who she was :-) It was fun talking with her about the colour and the palette she works with. [Pardon my blurry phone photos, I only realised the lens was a mess after I left, but I hope you can get the feel of the place regardless of the lack of sharpness here].

The two skeins I picked up at the store are both lace weight with an amazing hand to them. Notice the yardage on one of the labels reads 600m! That should comfortably become a very good sized shawl and I am really looking forward to working with it later this year.

Next one up is Lanas el Globo - Passeig de Sant Joan, 34 - by the Arc de Triomf

A lovely, cosy store with a very good selection of yarn and the sales rep happy to help if you want to see anything. The set up is something I haven't seen in years, where the yarn is stored behind the counter and no browsing that I grew so fond of, you have to actively ask for it to be passed over to you. The choice of yarn is plentiful, however.

Mans i Manigues - This little store was near Lanas el Globo, sort of a street perpendicular to Passeig de Sant Joan.
You can guess from the signage atop of the entrance that it offers Katia yarn only, so if you are looking for any Katia yarns this would be your one stop shop for it. It's tiny, but oh-so adorable and well presented. There are magazines to browse and a small range of accessories on offer as well.

Friday, 15 August 2014

New pattern - Lil Tamzin

Lil Tamzin gathered yoke cardigan pattern by Katya Frankel

Please welcome, Lil Tamzin! Its big sister was popular ever since it was released in 2008 and a number of people had mentioned that they'd love to knit a matching kiddie version.
Although worked to the same gauge, Lil Tamzin is knitted in a lighter weight yarn, than Tamzin was knit in. I used some hand dyed sock / 4 ply that gave the cardigan a gentler feel and allowed for the multitude of stitches to be increased around the collar without the extra bulk.
The pattern is written for sizes 3 months trough 12 years with the finished chest circumference between 18 ¼ and 31 ¼ in / 46 and 78.5 cm, in a total of 10 sizes.

Lil Tamzin gathered yoke cardigan pattern by Katya Frankel

It is worked from the top down in one piece, absolutely seamlessly using 4-ply / fingering weight yarn with the only finishing required is weaving in ends and sewing on the buttons. 
I should also mention that although the cardigan is classed as an intermediate pattern, in reality, it is suitable for an advanced beginner, prepared to tackle a garment, with all the techniques and stitch patterns clearly explained in the pattern.