Week 7: Buttonholes!

w7Buttonholes… Aren’t they one of the knitter’s worst nightmares? They are small and mostly invisible when the garment is buttoned up and still we know they’re there and we want them to look nice and professional…

This week I’m going to try and find the perfect way to knit a buttonhole. I even have an idea of my own but I need to check first – some clever brain might already have come up with it well before me!

P1090400

A handful of lions and tigers baby buttons from my stock

The best source I’ve found this time is the TECHKnitter (by the way, she’s a genius – to read without moderation!), she has a series of posts dedicated to buttonholes so I’ll simply post a link to her alphabetical index: go to the BUTTONHOLES section and see for yourself.

Now, if you are not a buttonhole maniac or a n incurable perfectionist (or just too very busy to experiment), check this Knitty tutorial featuring three classical buttonholes: the YO (sheep’s eye in TECHKnitter’s terminology), the one-row and the two-row.

There’s another method by Jesh of Jeshknits, and a clever one too!

And now I’m off to try a couple of methods!

* * *

All right, I guess it’s time for the verdict… I must admit that this week’s challenge hasn’t been a success: I’ve tried several methods and I’m not convinced… When I need to knit a buttonhole band, I’ll probably work it in two halves and then sew them together leaving vertical holes for the buttons. Another method I like a lot is a knit-on i-cord, I’ve already tried it on a project I can’t show you just yet and it does result in a clean professional looking finish. Here’s a picture from Kate Davies’ blog so you can see what I mean!

 

As a last resource, I’ve written to my Mom asking her about her buttonhole knitting tactics… I’ll let you know if she comes up with something original! Until then – good knitting to all of you!

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Week 6: Broomstick Lace and Shell Stitch

w6It’s already Thursday and you must be wondering what happened to my weekly plan… Don’t panic! I’m still here and this week’s work is well under way.

Now, do you crochet as well as knit? If you do, you have probably heard about broomstick lace… A friend showed me once how to do it and I’ve finally decided to give it a try. I didn’t keep my swatch as the yarn I swatched with is way too precious. I have a couple of skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino and I’ve been looking at them for months, taking them out, trying different patterns… sighing and unravelling the swatch… Broomstick lace was my last desperate attempt to find that perfect stitch pattern – and it didn’t work either. BUT what has worked is the smock stitch from the previous week! I’m half-way through with the project and I still don’t have the urge to rip it all, which is a good sign!

But let’s go back to broomstick lace. Here’s what it looks like:

And here is how it’s done:

You don’t actually need an XXL size needle, a simple ruler will work as well:

Source: Flickr

Now, if you don’t crochet there’s a beautiful stitch that looks much like the one above, if not better… It’s from The Essential Guide to Colour Knitting Techniques by Margaret Radcliffe and she calls it Estonian shell stitch. I haven’t found a picture other than that on the book cover, it’s the first square in the blue, green and violet variegated yarn.

This video shows you how to knit broomstick lace (aka Estonian shell stitch):

 

And here is my homework!

w6-homework

As you can see, I have tried three versions of the last pattern row: purl all, knit all and p3, k1 (following the pattern of the previous row). There isn’t much of a visible difference between variants two and three but I have the impression that p3, k1 results in a better organized and stretchier, ribbing-like surface.

My modified pattern goes like this:

On a multiple of 4 sts +1,

R1 (RS): *p1, 2YO’s, k1, 2YO’s, k1, 2YO’s, k1*, end with p1.

R2 (WS) *k1, sl YO’s wyif* end with k1.

R3: *p1, sl YO’s wyib* end with p1.

R4: *k1, sl YO’s wyif* end with k1.

R5: *p1, (k1, YO, k1) into the back of the loops*, end with p1.

R6: *k1, p3*, end with k1.

 

My verdict: this stitch is actually easier than it looks: the most difficult – or, rather, the most inconvenient – row is the first one where you accumulate lots of yarn overs. The remaining rows knit very quickly as you mostly slip stitches from one needle to the other without knitting them. I find the crochet version a bit easier but I prefer the smaller and neatly packed knitted shells.

And now, as usual, your free pattern: a crocheted baby blanket by Red Heart and a very special crocheted cowl from Crochet’n’Crafts. Enjoy!

 

Week 5: Smock-smock!

w5I’m still busy playing with entrelac so this week’s challenge will be an easy one (at least, I think so): I’ll learn to smock a knitted fabric. In spite of its simplicity, I have never tried this technique before, so it still counts as a challenge! Besides, it reminds me of the dresses that hung in my Granny’s wardrobe – a dress maker, in her young days Granny was riding on the crest of the fashion wave!

Smocking can be performed in two ways: smock as you go or knit your piece first and then smock-smock-smock! I’ll try both and tell you everything about it!

Here’s an example of how smocking can change the look of a simple ribbed sweater: stunning, isn’t it?

All right, let’s have a smock! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

As I have said, you can create a smocked surface either while knitting, or afterwards. Knitting first and smocking next might speed up the process (at least, its first half) but to me, smocking as you go seems to be more efficient. This can be done in two ways: by wrapping the yarn around a group of stitches or by pulling out an additional loop and placing it across a group of stitches. After reading the explications, I’m more inclined to try the loop method which seems to be less fiddly – and I like simple solutions!

Check this picture tutorial from the Creative Knitting Magazine to see all the methods.

This video tutorial by AudKnits shows you the loop method:

And this lovely picture tutorial from My Knitted Heart explains the wrap method in detail and style!

Image source: myknittedheart.blogspot.com

All you have to do now is choose your method and start smocking!

And here is my homework! I used the loop method.

w5-homework

My verdict: it’s just great! From now on, I’m a convinced smocker! As I’ve already said, I like simple solutions and the smock stitch is definitely one of them. I can see very tempting design perspectives… But shhh!

And now – your free pattern link: the lovely Smock Top Sweater from AudKnits! Yes, the very same sweater you see at the top of this post!

Good knitting!

Week 4: Entrelac

w4 I’ve always thought entrelac was not for me… Often worked in highly contrasting colours, it looks somewhat kitschy… And I’ve never really liked modular knitting in variegated yarn… But hey, why not give it a try – just for fun? And – who knows – I might come up with something I’ll like… Time to break the rules!

This is what it looks like:

I’m a little late with my writing (AND my knitting) but there’s still time before Sunday, right? The reason for my lagging behind is that I’m searching for a PERFECT entrelac recipe AND I would really like to be able to incorporate in into a larger piece of knitwork WITHOUT having to knit the entrelac panel first and do a lot of picking up and/or sewing afterwards… Oh, haven’t I told you I’m a perfectionist? Well, now you know!

Anyway, here are a couple of tutorials you may find useful.

If you have half an hour to spare, check this one: it’s excruciatingly detailed, packed with interactive features (I never knew one could add links to a video so they appear on top of it…) and – the fact I appreciate most – it’s very friendly. If you don’t have 28 minutes, don’t despair: the video is divided into 5 parts. Step by step, you will learn to knit a scarf, that is, a rectangle of any size, in entrelac.

I have found another nice tutorial – a picture tutorial this time – very helpful. And the author shows you how to knit entrelac in the round too!

Part one

Part two

Entrelac in the round

And here is my homework! I must admit that I haven’t done all I wanted (a real torture for the perfectionist in me) but I’ll go on experimenting!

w4-homework

My verdict: As you can see, I have tried two methods of forming the lower border of the diamonds: knitting (purling when on the wrong side) all the stitches and alternating knit and slip stitches: knit the edge stitch on the right side and slip it on the wrong side. The knit-and-slip method leaves you with a neat chain that looks somewhat detached from the main fabric while the knit all method results in a less distinct wavy chain. Personally, I prefer this second variant but it’s up to you to decide which one you like best.

And now, as usual, a couple of free patterns featuring entrelac: a baby blanket from nikkiinstitches and a sweater from Debbie Bliss.

Good knitting to everyone!

Week 3: Herringbone stitch

w3 Herringbone is the name of two distinct stitches: the first is also known as horizontal herringbone and the second – as transversal herringbone. Both provide a dense, reversible fabric with a woven effect.

Here is an example of the horizontal herringbone. I have wanted to try this stitch since I first saw it!

… and here is a picture of the transversal herringbone:

Horizontal herringbone stitch

This stitch can be worked both flat and in the round. One repeat consists of two rows. As a result, you have a characteristic herringbone pattern on the right side and something that looks like a twisted herringbone on the wrong side (not bad at all but not as spectacular as the right side).

– herringbone worked flat:

– herringbone worked in the round (attention! this video begins with a somewhat loud music!):

My verdict: personally, I find this stitch very addictive: it’s one of the cases when you wish the ball of yarn would last forever… The only drawback is that you do the double amount of work as every stitch is actually knitted twice. The good news is, you can (and I’d even say you should) use a bigger needle size unless you want your fabric to be very dense.

My homework!

W3-homework

 

And here are two great free patterns using this stitch (both from the Purl Bee): Big Herringbone Cowl (with a picture tutorial) and Men’s Mini Herringbone Scarf.

Week 2: Latvian braid

W2 This week’s technique is the Latvian braid!

You can see two very neatly worked braids in the picture below. In fact, every braid consists of two rows of right- or           left-leaning stitches and, depending on the arrangement, your whole braid can point to the right or to the left. And the good news is, you can work it in more than two colours!

There exist several good videos showing how to knit a Latvian braid. Here is my favourite one:

And here is my homework – all done!

w2-homework

For those of you who would like to try their hand on knitting braids, here are two lovely free patterns: December Stripes Hat from Exercise Before Knitting and Oranje cardigan from Knitty!

Good knitting everyone!