Friday, May 31, 2013

A Crocheted Steek & Other Taiga Mods

As I was saying in my last post "Taiga #1 and Taiga #2", I made several modifications to a sample Taiga Cowichan vest/cardigan that I knit for
Gosh Yarn It!  I then wrote up the modifications and taught a three session class at GYI which ended in early May.

Class 1 -- Why?  and how to start and how to steek.

Why?  Creating a steek for the colorwork, allows you to knit the stranded Fair Isle in the round, which is so much easier than knitting it back and forth.  (If you followed the Taiga pattern without this steek modification, you would be purling every other colorwork row with your floats in front.)

You might ask, why not knit the entire body in the round?  I would answer that while that is not a bad idea, I did not want to lead (five) students through so very many changes (in a few different sizes).  I would pretty much have to re-write the entire pattern.  My greater goal was to provide a kind of quick-and-easy steeking experience, and to share the whys and hows of the knitting modifications that I made.

I considered that the steek stitches would be like a front facing after the garment was finished, and I decided to extend this facing from top to bottom.  We added stitches (3 on each side) for the front facings beginning with the neck cast on.  In the photo these facing stitches are on each end beyond the red stitch markers.

Until we got to the colorwork, the facing stitches were the only modification.  At the start of the colorwork, one additional stitch was cast on to become the middle of the (7 stitch) steek.  Then the work was joined to knit in the round.  Steek stitches are more secure if you alternate colors in vertical stripes or in a checkerboard pattern.

After the last colorwork row, the center stitch was bound off.  After one row, we turned the work and returned to knitting back and forth for the waist shaping rows.

Class 2 -- About the pockets... and be ready for steek cutting next time.

The "pocket facings" were knit next with the 3 extra stitches at each front edge.  After they were finished and placed on a waste yarn, the back began with casting on 17 (20 less 3) stitches for "pocket linings" on each side.  Before we began our lower ribbing, we knit the bottoms of the pockets closed (much like you would when working a 3 needle bind off).  This knitting together begins with the 7th stitch from the edge of front facing and the first stitch of the pocket lining.

The bottom ribbing also had 3 extra front facing stitches on each end of row.  The students worked to finish the ribbing before Class 3.  For the sleeves, they were on their own, and could work on them before or after Class 3.

Class 3 -- Crocheted steek, and cutting the steek!

When I made Taiga #1, I first worked my crocheted steek with red yarn (for some instructional photos) and later replaced it with purple.  My first instruction to my students was... Find the center stitch of steek.  You may mark it with a pin.  We will be crocheting half of this stitch to half of the adjacent stitch on each side.  We will work from right to left.

With hook in position shown above, notice that it is inserted through half of a purple stitch and half of the green center stitch, you will first pull through a loop with your crochet yarn.  Insert hook in next two half-stitches. Pull a loop of crochet yarn through them and the crochet yarn (all yarns on hook).

When we reach the end, we will rotate the piece and work back.

It is fairly easy to pull the crochet to each side for cutting.

Four students cut their steeks in class that day!  I am very proud of all of my students.

To end the class we went over the basic finishing including the front bands.  I told the students to carefully determine a correct number of stitches to pick up for bands.  I like to pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows.  (I would not pick up one stitch in each row as the pattern suggests.)  You could also measure how many stitches are in one inch of your previous ribbing, and then calculate  a total number of band stitches using a length-in-inches measurement of the front.

We discussed the sleeves in a general way.  Some students had seen long sleeves on some Ravelry projects and at least one Raveler wrote about how she had made hers.  Ravelry is such an endless source of information.   

I am very glad to end this post, because I really must put my Taiga #2 away.  It is 90 degrees outside!  When I resume work on it this fall, I can post about my long sleeves (I knit them after the last class) and the zipper that I plan to sew into the front.

[ETA:  I eventually posted in February 2014 about the sleeves, and in April 2014 about the zipper.] 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Taiga #1 and Taiga #2

As I mentioned in my February post, My Current Pallete, I taught a three session class on colorwork and steeking at Gosh Yarn It! in April and early May.  The class project was a modified Taiga Cowichan vest/cardigan, by Svetlana Volkova.  I named the class sample Taiga #1.
Taiga #1
I am a lover of all Fair Isle knitting, and have taught several beginner and intermediate Fair Isle Classes.  It was suggested that I create a more advanced Fair Isle class for Gosh Yarn It! that would include steeking.

When I saw some Taiga project pages on Ravelry mentioning the use of a steek just for the colorwork rows, I realized this might be the right project for the class. 

I was also attracted to using this pattern because it requires bulky weight yarn, making it a quicker knit for a multi-session type class. Most students would be able to keep up and be ready for each session. 

As I knit the sample, I took notes on my modifications.  I typed up all of my notes and added photos in order to make a couple of multi-page handouts for my students.

I began my Taiga #2 as I started teaching the class so that I could show the work in progress.  This Taiga is one that I will keep for myself.

Taiga #2
You can see that my Taiga #2 is not yet finished.  But it is getting much too warm here to work on a bulky weight (and, yes, long sleeved) cardigan.  I thought that before I put it away for a summer hibernation, I would write here summarizing my modifications, and include some photos.

Change in plan.

This post will be way too long by the time I mention all the mod's with photos... so stay tuned, until next time...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

In Keeping...

...with flags, here is something that my Aunt F gave to me yesterday.

She did the machine embroidery with her Brother sewing machine.  The machine has at least a couple dozen designs in its memory.  Last month my Aunt F, who does not live far from me, called and asked me to stop by to help her download several holiday designs that she purchased online.  I was glad that I could help.  She is also my godmother.  She has lung cancer, and is doing well for now, but like she says, "I still have cancer." 

This is the towel she gave to me just a week after I had helped her.  It was shortly before Easter.

I will treasure these towels for the rest of my lifeI have been thinking about my Aunt F...

Though I have long felt that I was most inspired to live-to-create by my parents and my paternal grandmother (who sadly are no longer with me) my Aunt F (who is my father's sister) has also lived a life in keeping...

Like me, she "just likes to make things".  Her illness may have slowed her down, but she keeps on...  I so love that.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Midweek Meditation

"Do something, do something to that, and then do something to that."   
             Jasper Johns, American contemporary artist, born May 15, 1930.

Flag, encaustic over a collage, 1954-55.
"In the place where I was a child, there were no artists and there was no art, so I really didn't know what that meant. I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different than the one that I was in."

Detail of Flag (1954-55). This image illustrates Johns' early technique of painting with thick, dripping encaustic over a collage made from found materials such as newspaper.
"I have no ideas about what the paintings imply about the world. I don't think that's a painter's business. He just paints paintings without a conscious reason."

Photo credits:;postID=2279236680656121072;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=postname,_Flag_%28detail%29.jpg

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Scrunched and The Scrunchable

I am writing to introduce two of my current WIP's.  I have nicknamed them the scrunched and the scrunchable.

scrunch - verb
1. To crush or crunch.
2. To crumple or squeeze; hunch.

scrunched - past tense of scrunch

The scrunched is my latest top down sweater project made with Ysolda Teague's pattern "Lauriel" from her book LITTLE RED IN THE CITY.

To keep it simple, my Ravelry name for this project will be "Lauriel". 

As an aside (that is not really an aside), I am still not convinced that top-down seamless sweaters are best.  I did buy a 32" long circular needle to replace the 24" long one in the photo, but everything (knit at the correct gauge with a yarn that has a 'springiness' to it) is still unpleasantly scrunched and tight.

My own thoughts are that an hour's worth of seaming can be well worth it, if it makes all of the knitting straightforward and pleasurable.  Am I alone on this?

scrunchable - capable of or suitable for scrunch(ing)

The scrunchable really is that -- a scrunchable scarf made with yarn containing stainless steel.  The yarn is from Habu Textiles, the pattern, "Hakusa Scarf"  designed by Kristin Johnstone. 

To keep it simple, my Ravelry name for this project will be "Hakusa".


Thursday, May 2, 2013

April FO's: 3 of 3

3 of 3

Finished April 20, 2013


Pattern: Betty by Marie Wallin
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool 4 ply 

I wrote a little while ago about how I acquired this yarn in post called Destiny.  I like a fine-gauge wool sweater in early spring, but it will be far too warm very soon.



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April FO's: 2 of 3

2 of 3

Finished April 10, 2013

'Mineral' Beauty

This is, by far, my favorite of the three SWIRLS that I have made.
It is the shortest and it is as light as air.
'Mineral' is the yarn's color name.

Pattern: Sheer Beauty by Sandra McIver
Yarn: Shibui Knits Staccato & Silk Cloud

I bought this yarn at Gosh Yarn It! and I made this swirl as I taught a series of classes there on making a SWIRL from the book KNIT, SWIRL! by Sandra McIver.  My students were awesome!

2 of 3
1 of 3

Not bad.