Building Blocks Clue 4

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The final Building Blocks clue is out.  I started making my own mods at the beginning of clue 3.  Why start following the pattern now?  I’ve gone way off track here.

Stephen has written the pattern with no edging.  Somehow I decided I really wanted to pick up 700+ stitches and do some sort of edge treatment.  After a little swatching, I’ve decided to go with what I’m calling a ‘stacked i-cord’.  I have no idea if this is actually a thing.  It seems like a good idea so I’m doing it.

 

There’s my first i-cord bind-off, up against one of the cast on i-cords.  I’ve got plenty of yarn to do ridges of each color.  I like the result so far.  I’ve just picked up stitches and done an i-cord bind off.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.  I’m just gonna keep picking up and binding off i-cord style until I can’t take it anymore.  (which could be very soon.)

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Even though I opted for the small sized shawl, It’s still plenty big.  If I wove in those last few ends, this shawl is done!  I’m fighting the urge the call it finished.

I have enough yarn leftover for a really pretty Dotted Rays!  I think my stacked i-cord could be really cool though?!?  It’s a toss up.  I’m really not sure what’s going to happen.

 

 

 

Finishing Tips

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I’m prepping for the final Building Blocks clue on Friday.  I think this shawl is going to be very wearable!  I want it done ASAP so I’m weaving my ends today!

I think finishing is an exceptionally important part of the knitting process.  I don’t sweat the small stuff…unless it’s a finishing detail.  Sloppy work at the end can ruin a gorgeous piece of knitwear.  I’ll stay off my soap box but really, a well finished garment is a beautiful thing.

With that in mind, I’ve added a new tool to my finishing arsenal…Needle Felting!  I’ll explain that bit later.  First, the steps leading up to it…

Weave your ends in.  I use several different techniques, in several different scenarios.  That’s a whole topic unto itself.  I duplicate stitch when it can but it doesn’t always work out.  This is Knitter’s Choice, use which ever end weaving method you prefer!

Cutting Your Yarn

Tip 1:  Always cut your yarn at an angle. 

This trick helps keep the end of your yarn in place.  I hate ends that pop out where they don’t belong.  A tapered end helps minimize that!

Think of it like cutting flowers.  Cut at an angle to increase your surface area.  With flowers it allows more water to be absorbed.  They stay fresher, longer.

With yarn, more surfaced area means there is more yarn to be pulled out from under the stitch holding it down (the last stitch it was woven through.)  So those naughty little ends are more likely to stay where you put them when cut at an angle.

That said:  If you are very literal, my photos do not show the actual spot I cut.  This brings us to…

Tip 2:  Leave a Tiny Tail.

Here’s my tail before I cut, the yellow line highlights where I will cut.  It’s an angle, following the twist of the yarn.  I always try to go with the grain. That gives you a lovely tapered end.  If you go against the grain, think of the way a pom-pom pops open when you cut it…that’s what you get.  It defeats the purpose of tapering the end because the whole thing goes cattywampus.

So, we’re cutting at an angle, going with the grain.

Placement of the cut is the next thing…leave a little bit of tail when you cut.  Notice how my cut is not right up against the stitch.  I’m leaving a little nub of an end.

The idea here is when the fabric shifts and moves, your end will move with the fabric but not pop out of place, inevitably landing on the public side of your fabric.

Seriousleeieieiey, that makes me crazy.

Now, final step…

Tip 3:  Needle Felting

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If you aren’t familiar with needle felting, that needle is super sharp and it’s got barbs along the edge.  You stab the fibers and the barbs blend the fibers, causing their natural scales to cling and stick together.  More stabbing means more blending of fibers, gradually shrinking the whole thing down into a tight bit of felt.

I’ve used needle felting to make little critters, flowers for hats, decorative embellishment type stuff.  I don’t see any reason it can’t be a functional part of my finishing process though.  Since I’ve started doing this, my ends stay put.  It doesn’t take many stabs–10-12 on each side.

Each side is an important detail.  Start with the wrong side of your fabric first.  As you stab, you’re carrying fibers through your fabric to the front.  You’ve gotta flip it over and stab those fibers back to the wrong side.

Done!  Here’s what the back looks like…

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You may notice a little fuzziness.  Things are muddled, some of the stitch definition is lost.  It’s the back…who cares?  That end is staying put.  It is never showing it’s ugly head on the right side of my shawl.  That’s all I care about.

I will caution you to stab with restraint.  10 Stabs, 15 MAX!  There is a point where you will start to see stitch distortion on the right side.  It probably won’t get noticed.  It’s a minor thing but we’re scrutinizing details today.  Don’t over stab.

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Here’s my right side, no sign of foul play, no ends, no over stabbing, just a beautiful edge waiting to be picked up for an epic Clue 4!!   I’m looking forward to Building Blocks Clue 4!  I have a feeling Stephen’s got a big finish planned!!  I’m kind of excited for an instruction that says pick up 768 stitches!  LOL!

I will certainly keep you posted!

WestKnits MKAL Building Blocks, Clue 3

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WestKnits’ MKAL Building Blocks Clue 3 has landed.   And it’s brought controversy with it!  I expected a reaction from the brioche section but that was widely accepted (thanks to the accompanying garter option, I suspect.)

Now that we’re into Clue 3 the rows are 450+ stitches long.  As written, the clue is long stretches of knitting with one row of purling thrown in.  The result is a single garter ridge on a bed of stockinette.  Think Boneyard Shawl.   Apparently this is too boring for some people.

For me, that’s exactly my kind of knitting.  My inner process knitter takes over and all is good.  Except somehow, this time, I wanted something different.  I wanted my colors to mix in a way that’s more complex.  So I changed it up (and didn’t cause one ounce of drama while doing it!)

I’m doing a non-repeating slip stitch pattern.  I say non-repeating because it started as the slip stitch section from Exploration Station.  That seems like the perfect substitute.  Somewhere along the way though, it took on a life of it’s own.  I just started slipping stitches at random, sometimes with the yarn in front, sometimes with the yarn in back.  Sometimes I knit row, sometimes I seed stitched a row.  Whatever happened…happened.

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I might throw in color D for a few slip stitch rows but mostly, I think I’m ready for the edge.  This thing is going to be a monster!!  I’m super curious to see what the final clue has in store for us!

 

Building Blocks Clue 2

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Building Blocks Clue 2, aka Knitting on Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  San Francisco to Upstate New York and back are two very long travel days.  I’m finally back from The Great Rhinebeck adventure!  I knit far more in motion on this trip than at rest.  The number of trains alone takes two hands to count.  The plane came first though!

After the planes, the train onslaught began.  The saving grace of NJTransit is those little ticket stub gizmos on the back of the seat.  They are perfect knitting bag hooks!

I packed super light this trip–only one knitting project.  It didn’t feel right.  Even going to a fiber festival, knowing I could get my fix easily, if I ran out of yarn, I was hesitant to take only one project.  Ultimately, it worked out and I could have even done a few more laps before the final landing at SFO.  I still have a few rows left before I’m truly done with Clue Two.  I’ll be ready for Clue 3 this evening though!  I’m thinking the next section might be a slip stitch pattern?

I will say, I was bummed to see brioche stitch in Clue 2.  UGH!  It’s lovely to look at and fun to squish but it’s a pain to knit.  More accurately, it’s a pain to fix.  The secret to my success isn’t being a perfect knitter.  I mess shit up all the time.  But I know how to fix it.  I drop stitches and make other small mistakes frequently.  That is not advisable with brioche.  Brioche stitch is not trivial.  I did not panic when I saw this though…

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It was bound to happen.  I can’t pay attention constantly.  That’s just not a thing I do.  Knitting is a background activity for me, my focus wanders.   So there it is, a mistake that would have been trivial with any other stitch.  I think, that’s a half-worked stitch we’re looking at.  A stitch that was wrapped, but I missed when knit it, in effect, slipping the stitch with working it.

I studied it for a brief moment, kept calm and fixed it.  Thank goodness for two-color brioche.  If this was one color, I would have had no clue.  I started with what I knew, the turquoise ladder needed to be knit.  I guessed that the natural color ladder needed to be it’s hat.  That left the natural color yo on the needle as the yo on the subsequent row.  So, I made that happen.

And it worked out!  Now I want to knit a brioche shawl.

Must be something in the water back east because I also ordered size 0 needles for socks?!?  What is going on here??

Stayed tuned for the Rhinebeck Round Up!  It’s up next!

Building Blocks – Clue One

It’s the best knitting month of the year…WestKnits Mystery MKAL!

I said NO to this project many times, to many people.  In yarn shops, on Facebook, in text messages.  I denied it every time, with many excuses.  The threat of brioche, a lack of yarn, a lack of time.

Me thinks thou doth protest too much.

No October Surprise here…I can’t resist Stephen West!

Clue One.  No Brioche.  Game On.

I joined the lovely ladies at Uncommon Threads for their Shawl-tober Fest kickoff!  Getting in the car and driving 40 miles to a yarn shop wasn’t even the first sign that this was happening.  I brought Color A with me.  Hard to deny when I’m clenching the yarn in my grubby fists!

It wasn’t long before I’d picked 3 more colors and cast on!

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Counter Clockwise from the Lower Left

Color A — Tosh Merino Light, Jasper (green)

Color B – Tosh Merino Light, Court & Spark (the neutral, inspired by joni mitchell.  I love this color!)

Color C – Tosh Merino Light, Plunge (blue!!)

Color D – Koigu Kpppm, P479 (neutral speckles)

P479 isn’t a very sexy name but it’s the lynch pin of this shawl!  It’s exactly what I needed to tie the room together.

I’m loving it so far!

I’m calling this an Exploration Station/Boardwalk mashup.  We’ve got a long way to go.  Anything can happen but right now, it seems to be mimicking Boardwalk construction with bands of varied color & textures a la Exploration Station.

Just to re-iterate, I love it.

Clue 2 comes out just as I get on the plane to Rhinebeck!  Not even screaming babies, chatty neighbors or turbulence will be able to ruin this flight!  Happy Knitting, Indeed!!