Saturday, June 18, 2011

Knitting "Comforts" Style 101

Knitting is not just a Hobby it’s a Skill.

The reason I have chosen you to start with 100% wool as opposed to a man-made fiber is 2-fold.

1. Wool and other natural fibers such as silk, linen, cotton, angora, mohair, cashmere, alpaca, llama, rayon and viscose breath. They keep you warm in the cold, and cool in the heat. Man-made fibers resembling acrylic, nylon, polyester, lycra and assorted fabrics with “mod” as a prefix or “ilic” as a suffix do not breath, thus keeping you sticky and or clammy. Not letting your skin breathe and making you uncomfortable.

2. Natural fibers feel good, look good for a long time and tend not to pill-up, as a man-made will do almost immediately. If you are taking the time to make something that you want to have for years, you want it to look fabulous as long as you have it. Start with the best you can afford, it’s not worth it if what you start with is cheap and or cheap looking.

We are starting with a plain twist yarn instead of a novelty yarn so that you will be able to see the simplistic beauty of the knit / garter stitch. Also with a single twist yarn, you will be able to see your possible errors and correct them with out too much hassle.

We will start with the Knit stitch; you will see this in patterns simply as ‘K’. You will be knitting every stitch for this pattern, no pearl stitches ( ‘P’ ) are involved. First you need to have a base on which our knits to exist, this is known as ‘casting on’. I have picked out a #10 wooden needle for you to work on because of the ease of wood, it holds on to your yarn just long enough for you to knit your stitches with ease. As you become more advanced, you can choose your needles in plastic, glass, bone, aluminum or metal. A size 10 (5.75 metric) is a good size to start many projects. All of the above mentioned have their particular advantages, speed, beauty and the like, but for our first venture into the knitting world, we will begin with wood & wool.

Why A Scarf?

A scarf on the needles is the comfort food of knitting. Whatever else we are doing, anything else the day holds for you, you can return to the scarf we’re making with a since of pleasure and relief. A scarf always fits its wearer, whether it ends up an inch narrower or wider, shorter or longer than intended. No matter what you decide to do, will become a coherent design by the time we all bind off. And what makes a better gift than a hand-knitted scarf?!? A virtual hug to the recipient with your carefully constructed stitches.

To extend the food metaphor, knitting a scarf is a bit like making your favorite pasta dish. Like pasta, scarves can be created with little effort and a few basic materials. You can follow a knitting pattern or a recipe from a cookbook to the letter with excellent results, yet both are good vehicles for creative elaboration. Let’s have some fun.

Long tail cast on begins as such ~

You as the designer of your scarf will need to choose 20, 30 or 40 stitches to begin. Wrap a piece of your yarn around the needle 3 times, take this measurement and now multiply it by how many stitches you have chosen to cast on. Once you arrive at this measurement, make a slip-knot at the end; now place this slip knot in your needle with the long tail facing away from you and the yarn that is still attached to the ball of yarn, towards you.

Cast on as many stitches as you need.

Now comes the FUN part.

Take the needle that has your cast on stitches and place it in your left hand, take the empty needle in your right, put the point of the needle to the left of the first stitch on the bottom of the needle (knit wise) and push the tip of the needle through and to the back about an inch. Take your yarn and make a loop around the needle in your right hand (over and down motion), now pull that loop through the cast on loop and slide it off your needle. Congratulations, you made your first knit stitch! Now repeat this motion of “needle in to the left of the leg on the left needle, make a loop, and pull it through and off the needle”.

When you reach the end, you should have the same number on the right needle as you started with on your left needle. If not, you need to start over… if you have the same amount, switch needles with hands and continue this knit stitch until you have about 2 yards of yarn left. What you are doing is called “Garter stitch”, and your stitches should look similar to the next illustration.

Now we will do what is called casting off or ‘bind-off’. This starts with 2 knit stitches, now take your left hand needle put the tip through the first stitch on the right needle, lift it up over the second stitch and off the needle, you have your first bind off stitch completed. Knit the next stitch on the left needle, this stitch has just become the second stitch on your right needle, ‘bind off’ the first stitch and repeat this until you have only one stitch left on your right needle.
Thread the end of your yarn on a blunt needle; pull it through your last stitch and ‘Weave’ in your ends.

To correctly weave in your ends (you should have 4) thread your blunt needle with the yarn and take the tip on the needle through three stitches on one side going on a diagonal, now go one stitch over, & three stitches up and back down two stitches, cut your yarn close to your project and lightly pull your project in 2 different directions, your yarn is now hidden.


You may want to immediately wear your newly knitted item, but take the time to Block it. Blocking can be your knitted items new best friend. With blocking; stitches that look too big, too small, edges that are catawampus and general unevenness can all be ‘helped’ with Blocking. Take your completed project to a sink and completely submerge it in warm, but not hot water with some wool soap or your favorite shampoo. Let this soak completely for a few minutes. Rinse twice, no agitation (we do not want to start felting your project, which is for another class) and roll in a towel to remove excess water. Lay flat and stretch a bit to get your project to the desired dimensions. Let it dry completely and enjoy your project.

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