Almost FO

After 4 months and all my leftover yarn bits, my WestKnits Mash Up is being bound off!

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I’m doing an Icelandic Bind Off.  I haven’t counted but it’s probably in the neighborhood of 500 stitches.  I’m about halfway.  It’s fun to finally see it stretched out, it’s been months since it fit comfortably on a 40″ cord.

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I’ve combined pieces of my favorite Stephen West projects.  The main body is Dotted Rays.  I’ve given the edge a little flare, inspired by the Doodler.  The bottom border is a little bit Esjan.

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I went a bit understated with the Esjan portion, lining up one big hole with each Dotted Rays hole.  You won’t see it until it’s blocked but there’s also a series of small YOs around each of the large holes.

Of course, there’s 100 ends to weave so this project may never make it to the blocking phase.  On occasion, I’ve done finishing work for hire.  This is something you couldn’t pay me to do though.  LOL.  I am curious what the ‘professional’ finisher would change for it.  I might go as far as a getting a quote.  Heck, if she works cheap, I might actually pay.

It’s an interesting discussion…what would I pay vs what would I charge too weave $100 ends.  Sadly, even as someone who knows the skill & time spent on a task like this, I would not pay as much as I would charge.  How about you?

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Down the Bind Off Rabbit Hole

Finishing is at the top of my make it or break it list.  You can knit the more gorgeous sweater from the most luxurious yarn and ruin it with sloppy finishing.  I’m not a perfectionist anywhere else, stitch count is irrelevant to me.  Sometimes I row out working stockinette flat, whatever.  It’ll block out.  (no it won’t.  don’t care.)

My approach to finishing is much different.  It’s really important.  Tiny details matter.  So today, we’re going to scrutinize the most minute details of decrease bind offs.

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In reading the bind off chapter of my new, used copy of Principles of Knitting, I discovered the heading of ‘Decrease Bind Offs’.  Duh…makes complete sense, if there’s a K2Tog tbl bind off, why wouldn’t there be an SSK bind off.  Brilliant!  I love it!

And, much to my surprise, the SSK bind off is praised for being superior to the ‘other’ decrease bind off.  The K2Tog tbl is really just a footnote to explain why you probably don’t want to use it.  It’s the tbl, through back loop, that kills it.   Working the stitches through the back loop twists them.  June Hemmons Hiatt asserts that maybe you want that, if your fabric incorporates twisted stitches but probably not.  You want the SSK bind off.

The SSK bind off is entirely new to me, so I’ve got four possibilities to examine today… textbook versions and modified versions of SSK and K2Tog.


K2Tog Bind Offs

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Right: K2Tog tbl, textbook execution

Left: Modified K2Tog.  I’m a lazy knitter, that’s the origin of this mod.  You should be twisting your stitch when you put it back on the left needle.  That gives you the proper orientation to knit through the back loop.  I don’t bother, it seems like an extra step to me.  I just throw the stitch back on the left needle, path of least resistance means I’m actually putting my front loop to the back.  When I knit through the back for the next stitch, I’m actually knitting through the front of the first stitch and the back of the second stitch.  The result…I don’t introduce the same twist into my bind off.

If you look closely, you’ll see, the bind off on the right hand side is twisted. Looking at the base of the V, you see the bottom leg of the V slips under the top leg.  That’s the twist.

Now look at the base of the Vs on the left side.  Those legs rest side by side, no twist.  In this case, it’s a lazy knitter win!

I’ve never liked the traditional K2Tog tbl.  I much prefer ignoring the tbl.  Not only do I prefer the modified execution and aesthetics but it’s not dense the way the classic K2Tog tbl bind off is.  Don’t get too attached to this method though.  Remember it’s the footnote.


SSK Bind Offs

Why would I want to modify a bind off I’ve never even heard of before?  Because it’s an SSK and that should be synonymous with modification by now.  If you aren’t familiar with the SSK modification, I highly suggest you give it a try!  You create a neater, flatter stitch by slipping the first stitch knitwise (standard) and then slipping the second stitch purlwise (the modification).

Naturally, as soon as I learned the SSK Bind Off was a thing, I wonder if the modification applied here as well.

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Left:  Standard SSK bind off.  Knit the first stitch, slip the next stitch knitwise, knit the two stitches on the right hand needle together, slip the next stitch knitwise, knit the two stitches on the right hand needle together, etc, etc.

Right:  Modified SSK bind off.  Knit the first stitch, slip the next stitch purlwise, knit the two stitches on the right hand needle together, slip the next stitch purlwise, knit the two stitches on the right hand needle together, etc, etc.

They’re about the same for me.  I don’t think I have a preference one way or the other.  I did find the SSK superior to the K2Tog though.


K2Tog vs SSK Bind Off

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Left:  textbook K2Tog tbl bind off

Right:  textbook SSK bind off

Without a doubt, I prefer the SSK bind off.  It looks nice.  I like the balance of it.  It’s a minor detail but that twist in the K2Tog bind off skews the bind off to one side.  I like the execution of the SSK better as well.  The back and forth nature of the K2Tog makes it a bit clunky.  With the SSK stitches move to the right and stay there, it develops a lovely rhythm.

I’ll definitely be considering the SSK bind off in the future!


If you made it this far, pat yourself on the back!  It’s a lot of technical jargon.  I tried to warn you.  If you’re sick of this nonsense, never fear.  I got another book at the used book sale.

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Tomorrow’s agenda is all flowers!!

A Bind Off Study

Over the weekend, I finished my latest Hitchhiker Scarf.  As the bind off row approached, I was absolutely, 100%, without a doubt certain I would lose this round of yarn chicken.

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There’s just no way that is enough yarn.  I’ve done this enough times that I’m comfortable giving it the eyeball and I’m usually right.  I did what I normally do, ignored all evidence and moved forward.   I knew it was going to end poorly.  I don’t know why I moved forward.  I just did.

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and it worked out okay!?!  I’m still shocked over how much yarn I had left.  It just does not compute!

I used the Icelandic Bind Off here.  It continues to be my Bind Off Of The Year (Or BOOTY for short!)  It got me thinking about bind offs in terms of yardage.  Obviously, if I had used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, I would have used more yarn but I’ve sworn off JSSBO.  I don’t typically need a bind off to stretch, I just don’t want it to be tight.  For me, JSSBO is overkill most of the time.

As I seriously scrutinized this minute detail, it was a good time to pull out my newly acquired copy of Principles of Knitting.  I found it for $3 at a used book sale!  I was pretty stoked, it was the one book I was looking for!  Yippee!

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Turns out, it says nothing about the relative yardages of different bind offs and it doesn’t even mention the bind offs I use most.  (Now I’m wondering what the updated edition says…so much for this reference book answering questions!  LOL!)

With no help there, I decided to simply collect my own data.  I grabbed the nearest yarn & needles.  Worsted weight on a size 4.  I cast on what seemed like a decent amount of stitches, turned out to be 32.  I knit a few rows and then I bound off.  I marked the beginning and end of the bind off, ripped it out and measured.  I repeated this 5 times for each bind off.

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I started with the basic PSSO bind off, that would be the standard by which all others are judged.  I had certain expectations.  Turns out, they were wrong.  Theories are lovely but until they are reduced to practice, they’re only theories!  (apparently my inner scientist really wants to go back to work!)

In addition to the PSSO standard, I also tested the Icelandic Bind Off, the K2Tog tbl Bind Off and the (new to me) SSK Bind off.  I wanted to include JSSBO but I got sick of the experiment before then (and obviously, you’re adding a yarn over between each stitch so, it must use more yardage.  This may, in fact, be the most flawed part of the experiment but we’ll never know.)

I expected the K2Tog tbl and SKK to be the same.  I thought the Icelandic Bind Off would be the biggest yarn hog and the PSSO method would be the most conservative.

The Results:  They’re all exactly the same.  D’oh.  The PSSO Bind Off actually had the highest average, but the differences were insignificant across the board.

And so, when faced with a daunting round of yarn chicken, my go-to bind offs are pretty much identical.  Now I know…knowledge is power!

I feel like sewn bind offs are the next step.   I’m not a fan but It seems like they can accomplish a nice edge with less yardage??  Maybe I’ll suck it up and do a few swatches.  Any excuse to crack open my new Principles of Knitting!

 

Marathon Bind Off

My Southern Skies shawl has had quite the story.  From it’s humble beginnings as a failed Ponchini, to it’s angst ridden, yarn chicken phase nothing has been simple.  It was no surprise when then prescribed bind off rebelled.  It was downright uncivilized!

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Loose and ugly, just flapping there like a weird afterthought.  I knew it had to go instantly.  Going down a needle size to tighten it up wouldn’t really help.  The perpendicular garter stitch just wasn’t working.

I really like the idea of an i-cord bind off.  It’s one of my favorite.  I like to try different things though, so I’d sort of pushed this idea to the back hoping to find something better.  I wasn’t really feeling it but it was time to try anyhow.

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Nope, another glaring fail.  Hated it instantly.  So now what?  Time to get creative.

I wanted to combat the edge flip.  And have I mentioned how badly I lost that round of yarn chicken?  (No, no I haven’t)  It was brutal but I think I limped along *just enough* that I’m in a completely acceptable place to bind off.

Ran out of yarn, did not run out of beads!  Look what I’ve got still…

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In a flash of brilliance, I decided to aim for two birds with one stone…or bead, as the case maybe!  Add the beads to the bind off, adding weight to stop the flip and stop these pretties from becoming stash (At which point, I’d have to come up with a way to use them, which almost certainly means another project full of pitfalls because I didn’t have enough beads.  It’s a vicious cycle, let me tell you!)

With all of my theoretical problems solved, I set off to do a beaded picot bind off.  It was okay, appropriately pretty and not at all looking like an afterthought.  It was still a bit prone to curling though.  So out came another failed bind off.

I wasn’t ready to give up on the beaded picot though.  It really was attractive.  What’s the point of spending money on cashmere, spending months beading it and then throwing on any old bind off.   You don’t wear an Oscar de la Renta gown with Tiffany jewels and finish it off with Jean Nate.  You just don’t.   I really wanted to make the beaded picot work.

I heard, once, a row of K1,P1 will smooth the transition between the body and the hem of a sweater.  This is a vaguely similar situation.  The alternating knits and purls balance the tension of, at least, that one row.  It seemed like a good idea.  It should tame the tension of the stockinette curl a little bit and I only needed a little bit.  Maybe, just maybe…this would work.

600 stitches later, I had worked my K1, P1 transition row.  This is about the time it occurred to me that I was seriously embarking on a 600 stitch beaded picot bind off?!?  OY!  Really?  Yes.  Really.  and just my luck…

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…it’s beautiful.  I love it.  This is clearly what was supposed to happen.  It just took me a while to figure it out.  Now it’s going to take me a while to execute it.  Funny how this project started 18 months ago without one speck of urgency.  It sat untouched for 95% of 2016 but suddenly, now, I want it done immediately!!  It’s the softest thing ever.  It’s definitely going to be worth the effort that went into it.

Assuming, I make it through the bind off, which requires using two needles and a crochet hook, while balancing a bead on a floppy little picot nub.  Wish me luck!  :)


If you’ve actually made it this far, here’s how I’m doing my bind off…

*CO 2 sts to the left needle (using the knitted CO), k2tog tbl, bead the next stitch, knit the beaded stitch, pass the 1st stitch over the 2nd stitch (the k2tog stitch over the beaded stitch), BO 2 sts, repeat from *

 

 

The Icelandic Bind Off

Once upon a time (because that’s how all the best stories begin)…I spent a month in Iceland.  It was awesome!  Ever since then, I’ve have a particular eye for anything Icelandic so imagine my surprise to discover there’s an Icelandic Bind Off! I had no idea!

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It’s decorative, in an understated manor.  It rolls a bit but it rolls on both sides.  There’s a nice reversible quality to it.  It’s oddly like i-cord, there is a definite cord feel to it.  It’s got more bulk than a standard pass one over bind off but it’s certainly not bulky.  It’s just right with garter stitch, able to hold it’s own perfectly!  It’s also a bit like a K2Tog tbl bind off so it’s got a lovely stretch to it.  In short, this is my new favorite bind off!

To work the Icelandic Bind Off:

Knit the first stitch and pass it back to the left needle.  Then, reach through that stitch and knit the second stitch.  Drop them both off the left side and place the new right hand stitch back on the left needle.  Reach through, knit, put the new stitch back on the left needle.  It looked fiddly at first but you develop a rhythm easily!

Here’s video demo:

It’s from Very Pink.  She’s my go to for YouTube videos, she’s got great production value and she knows what she’s talking about!  Check it out…the Icelandic Bind Off could be your new favorite thing too!

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Here’s a peek at what I’m binding off!  I’ll tell you all about it when I finally finish…(because cliffhangers are the best endings!  ha!)

 

Doodler Done

It was a busy weekend at WinterWonderGrass!  Doesn’t look like much from up here but it was an awesome weekend!

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The mountains were beautiful and the sun was warm!

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Hats were still in demand though!

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The people watching was amazing, so much great knitwear!  The band got in on it too.

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And I even managed a bit of knitting time myself.

The doodler is done!  Yay!  Bound off and already taking a bath!  It’s going to be huge when it’s blocked!  I can’t wait!

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Flat 3 Needle Bind Off

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Banjo man was in town for a visit last week.  He loved his new banjo hat and wore it everywhere!  I’ve given him some goofy hats over the years, not intentionally goofy like a dead fish hat but accidentally goofy, like powder blue cables.  And he actually wore it.  Even brought it back once for a few adjustments.  So, I’m happy to have gotten the pattern perfect, the yarn perfect, the execution perfect this time around.

With that out of the way, I could think about his adorable 2 year old daughter!  She’s overdue for a new hat too and he was in town for several more days which meant I definitely (yeah right!) had time to bang out a kid’s hat.  This meant knitting on the go, much bus knitting was done and the requisite bar knitting, as well.

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The point of this tangent?

I’m almost there!

Having the right supplies at the right time is of the utmost importance, especially when knitting on a deadline.  DPNs have no place on crowded public buses.  At least not in my hands!  I carefully packed myself a 40″ needle to magic loop the crown decreases.  By the time I was on the bus, I was pleased to have all the right supplies but not in the mood to count stitches and decide on decreases.  Lazy decision to the rescue…I’d just do a square top with a 3 needle bind off!  Totally cute on a little kid!

Again, completely pleased with myself for matching the right pieces at the right time, I realized I could take it even further with a flat 3 needle bind off!  Woot!

Except I couldn’t remember how to do it.  D’oh!

I could have phoned a friend but ‘hi, can you tell me how to do that thing for a fifteenth time while I juggle the phone and 3 knitting needles on the bus.’ isn’t really a great phone call (for either party).   Add in an old phone with spotty reception and I couldn’t even google it.

So, I missed my self-imposed deadline for getting this done but now I can share with you, gentle readers, the delights of the flat 3 needle bind off!  (…in a mostly text fashion, so it’s easy for my phone to load the next time I need to remind myself how to do it!)

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It really is flat!  Check that out!  Unlike a standard 3 needle bind off, the flat 3 needle bind off is worked on the right side of your fabric with wrong sides together.   And it’s got a lovely decorative edge.

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To execute the flat 3 needle bind off you’ll still work two stitches together but instead of the standard k2tog that knits both stitches, you’ll knit the front stitch and purl the back stitch.

The important thing to remember, this is the part I was forgetting, you start with the yarn BETWEEN your needles.   You insert your 3rd needle into the front stitch knitwise and into the back stitch purlwise.  You’ll purl the back stitch, you’ve prepped for this by making sure the yarn is between your needles and then, without dropping the back stitch off the needle, you’ll swing around to the front and knit the front stitch.  After completing the knit, you drop both your stitches off the left needle.  You’ll repeat the process of knitting the front stitch and purling the back stitch to result in a second stitch on the right needle.  Bind off as normal, passing the first stitch over the second one.   Now just lather, rinse, repeat and you’ve got yourself a decorative bind off minus all that weird bulk!