May 07, 2005


For the last 10 days I have been making a concerted effort to improve my cable knitting. For Level II of the Master Knitter program, I've got to submit 3 cable swatches.

I know that you're thinking, what's so hard about cables? So you use a cable needle (or not), knit a few stitches out of order, and voila! I know you're thinking, Lay aside your perfectionism, woman, and get it on with it, already!

I'm being extremely selective in the cables I choose to knit for this program. Not all cable stitch patterns are created equal. Some are easier to execute than others, and some look better than others in the final product. Cables that move only 1 stitch in the cabling motion are easier and wind up looking better than those that move 2, and those are easier and look better than those that move 3, or 4, or 6. Right now my thinking is that cables that are completely stockinette on a reverse stockinette ground end up looking better than cables that involve a few little purls within their stockinette cablings. And let's just not even get into those cables that have maneuvers on both the right side and wrong sides.

But it's not the cables that have caused me the most grief. It's been the reverse stockinette stitch background.

Reverse stockinette stitch will show every little hiccup in one's tension. It can ladder after a cable. It can "row out" outrageously. The directions for the Master Knitter program actually allow for either a reverse stockinette stitch background or a garter stitch background, for these cable swatches. My experiments don't show me that garter stitch is much easier. And part of me says, Dad gum it, a Master Knitter ought to be able to knit a great-looking reverse stockinette stitch -- so let's conquer this problem, once and for all.

I know about wrapping for the purl stitch the wrong way round, to make that first purl stitch after the cable a smaller stitch. Normally I knit Continental, but for cables, to make those purls just a fraction better, I use the throwing method. After days of concerted practice, days of truly focused efforts to improve and not just spin my wheels (or twirl my yarn, as the case may be), days of noticing and analyzing the way I knit and no longer just blaming the stitch patterns -- I've finally perfected the "give an extra tug" method.

I'm proud to announce that I can now knit an even reverse stockinette stitch background. It's as perfectly even as I am ever likely to get it.

Now let's just get those swatches done, shall we?

Swatch #14, still in progress and not yet blocked.

Two Swans Yarns News: First, the good news: the Harris 4-ply has finally arrived! Ordered in October, delayed due to a winter hurricane at the Harris Mill, I finally received my shipment two days ago. These yarns are produced by the same mill that produces Harris Tweed cloth, and are distributed in partnership with the Rowan yarn company.

Second, the bad news: Lorna's Laces raised its prices, effective May 1. Right now, I am holding my prices steady on this yarn. But I expect to receive a shipment of both Shepherd Sock and Shepherd Sport any day now, with new colors. (Periwinkle! Island Blue! Safari! among many others.) When the new shipment comes in, I'll have to put in a small price increase. So, if you want to pick up some Shepherd Sock while the price is still low, buy now!

Posted by Karen at May 7, 2005 12:40 PM

Those cables are wonderful,,,,and I sit here with yarn and needles pitifully teaching myself ,( wiht the aide a good cable book) learning,,ripping,,,, and going over it again somemore till I get it right,,( do you sense a pity party going on here?)

If viewed from the proper perspective,, I would realize that I am a knitter of less than 3 years, and you are going for a master knitter certification!
The thing it tells me however, is that anyone can perfect their knitting if they are willing to take the time to do so,,, no matter what your level is!

Need I tell you how much sloppy- thrown -together knitting I have seen in the past 3 years as I have been learning ( by some teachers no less!)
Teachers,,,,please be aware of this,,,not all of us want to "let it go" Some of us want to get it right and learn how to FIX our mistakes, problem solve and its only THEN we learn how to avoid mistakes or how to think the process through,,,,
Some of us do not want a pat on the back with a " thats ok,,,no one will EVER notice!
( of course they will!!! if I am putting my name to that piece of knitting I want to wear it with great pride,,not constantly trying to hide an error the size of Texas!)
I have actually been told to forget about a BLATANT mistake and move on,,,,no one will notice it,all the while thinking,,, I WILL KNOW ITS THERE AND I WONT BE HAPPY WITH IT,,,

I feel if it bothers you ,,, get it right. I always say,,,,you will be much more satisfied with your work, and be more satisfied with your skill level,, (I sew a lot and my feelings are exactly the same!)
I keep telling myself I will get there as a knittter, AND,(,,,, drum roll here,,,) I am about to embrark ( gulp!) on my first full aran this fall,,,
I am doing up a few plainer sweaters and vests with cables/patterns etc as I will be designing this one with my own facts and figures no pattern per say, ( double gulp..)
Guess I shouldnt feel so bad, I am ok about my progress in less than 3 years though I do yearn to get as good as what I see on your web page,,( not a lot of other blogs do much for me,,,,)
What's going on in the knitting world?

One other observation,,,,
I recieved my new KNITTERS magazine today,
Now,,normally I would have had an nice latte , curled up on the sofa and savored the new ideas and projects I see,,,,sad to say ,,,
it had nothing, in it for me,,nothing at all,

Have I changed so very much since I first started to knit? I am thinking of cancelling my subsription when renewal time is up,,,,,
I used to go to the Stitches convention etc
now,,,I have no interest, I would rather be working on a design ( though I would like to take a class on the use of the slipped stitch, maybe someone could recommend a good book on this?)
I just did a sock with a slipped stitch heel and I really like it,,,
I just found out about a great guild in my area from my teacher,,,think I will give it a go,,,,and I do hope I will be able to find some that love the style of knitting I love,,I heard its a wonderful guild!
happy knitting to all!
,,,,, and a MOST happy mothers day to everyone !!
Enjoy your special day !

Posted by: pam at May 8, 2005 04:21 AM

Pam, no pity party -- just view it as practice. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent practicing with that rev st st background, in the past 10 days. Practice, practice, practice!

All of your designs will be improved because of the practice. And I know what you mean about a mistake the size of Texas -- egads! Who'd want to wear that?

About slipped stitches: I don't know of a book dedicated exclusively to this topic. You might want to take a look at Barbara Walker's mosaic knitting -- I think there are examples in each of her Treasuries. Also, Sally Melville Styles uses lots of tweed stitch, which is a stitch pattern that involves slipping, and her designs are stylish and attractive.

Linen stitch is a personal favorite of mine -- it's more work than tweed stitch. I know of only a few patterns that use it. There was a great little linen stitch jacket in Fall 2004 Interweave Knits.

Posted by: Karen at May 8, 2005 06:55 PM

Hi Karen,
I wore Sophia to Mother's Day brunch today and wish I had your dedication to finding a better way to do things - like steeking Sophia's sleeves that are too long even though I knit them shorter than called for. But, alas, I'm too impatient to start something new.

After reading Pam's comment re a slipped stitch knitting book, I remembered a book I'd checked out of the library, "Slipped Stitch Knitting" by Roxana Bartlett, that she may find interesting?

Posted by: roi at May 8, 2005 11:59 PM

Hi everyone!
Hope all had a wonderful mothers day spending lots of time with family and friends,,,,,
( I know I was treated like a royalty!!)
Thanks for all the information on regarding the use of slipped stitches,,,,,, again, its only because I used my sister in laws sock pattern and the heel was slipped stitched , that my interest was created.
It made a nice heel, and I am impressed for sure (!!)and want to learn more,,,,

I was looking on the web for any info regarding the Knitting Guild of America and got 2 different things,,,one site that referenced me to them said that they had a convention sometime in fall in Houston, yet on their main site it didnt say anything.
I would love to go to the Houston convention in fall ( if it really DOES exist) and skip Stitches Midwest.
I dont mean to be negative, but they didnt offer a lot of what I am interested in,,,,,only one class which is hardly worth the trip ( tho its only 2 .5 hours from my home)
I have family in Houston so it would be a great time to stay and then visit for a bit.

Am I out of my league if I want to go to a convention such as this?
I hope this is not for super advanced knitters,( which is not me,,,but I am learning !)
If anyone has any information on this I would be happy to hear some things about this program which I assume you are all doing your master knitting program through,,,,
I really dont want to go to the Stitches Midwest, maybe the magazine is what threw me for a loop realizing that it is not really my style of knitting anymore though I am certain its wonderful for many others,,,
thanks and sorry about the long email,,,
happy knitting to all!

Posted by: pam at May 9, 2005 01:47 PM

Roi -- I hope that you and Sophia had a lovely Mother's Day brunch! Thanks for the tip on the Slipped Stitch Knitting book, too. There are more things under the sun....

Maybe I'm being a little thick, here, but I don't follow you on "steeking" the too-long sleeves. I think what people do is cut off the cuff, ravel back a few rows to shorten the sleeve, then graft the cuff back on. May have to re-knit the increases right after the cuff to accommodate different width of sleeve, now that sleeve is shorter. (I realize Sophia has hems rather than traditional ribbed cuffs, but I think the same principle applies.) If I've totally misunderstood the problem and what you meant by steeking, let me know.

Pam -- the nationally-known instructors (Lily Chin, Sally Melville, Melissa Leapman, etc., etc.) are on a teaching circuit and teach at Stitches, TKGA, and other places. I've never been to Stitches, but have been to two TKGA national conventions. People say that Stitches events are much larger (more classes offered, more attendees). I don't think the caliber of teaching is going to vary between a Stitches event and a TKGA one. The TKGA classes are rated for beginners, intermediate, and advanced knitters -- and an "E" rating that, silly me, I thought meant "Experienced," but turned out to mean "Everyone!" So at TKGA you should be able to pick some classes that meet your skill level. (I assume the same holds true for Stitches.)

Posted by: Karen at May 9, 2005 03:28 PM