Ambiguous – Part 4

The knitting is behind us and it’s time to graft the cowl.  Prior to that step, careful blocking is required to allow Ambiguous to bloom to its full beauty.  Begin by placing the live stitches from the last round of knitting onto a piece of waste yarn.  Break the BC yarn leaving a long tail for the grafting process (about 4 times the circumference of the cowl).  Cut the MC yarn and weave in all of the ends.  Take care to weave in the first stitch of Round 1 at the cast on edge.  This will prevent it from disappearing when the waste yarn from the provisional cast on is removed.

Give your cowl a nice cool bath allowing it to soak for a good 15 minutes to allow for complete saturation.  In my photo below, I did not weave in the MC yarn prior to soaking because I was in the design phase and gave myself a safety net – luckily, it turned out fine:)

ambiguous4

Squeeze and gently roll out the excess moisture.  Never wring your knitting!   Pin the cowl into shape making sure that the Front (lower half) and Inside (upper half) measure the same width and height.  I ran blocking wires along the vertical sides and pinned the horizontal edges.  Stretch out the fabric enough to smooth and straighten any puckering.  As you can see from the photo below, my wet cowl grew a bit in dimensions and I was delighted with the extra width.

ambiguous4.1

Once the cowl is completely dry (and this will take a while), it’s time to seam the first round to the last round using the Kitchener Stitch in Garter Stitch.  I chose this technique because the grafted edge will be identical to the purl ridge making the cowl reversible from every angle.  For those new to this technique, it is much simple than the Kitchener Stitch stockinette version.  In the garter version, the same operation is performed on both needles which minimizes confusion that often occurs in stockinette.  Since the edge is bumpy, tension issues are masked as well.

Before undertaking the grafting, I highly recommend watching my Kitchener in the Round – Garter Stitch video.  The video has lots of helpful tips as I work across a small demo piece.

Place the live stitches (last round of cowl) onto a circular needle and remove its waste yarn.  Using the lifeline as a guide, thread the second circular needle through the first round of knitting at the lower edge above the provisional cast on.  Remove the waste yarn to reveal the live stitches.

Carefully fold the Inside to the wrong side of the Front with wrong side facing each other.  If folded correctly, the purl stitches are hidden in the fold and you should see the right side of the Inside design when peering to the center of the tube.  This is clearly demonstrated in my video.  This folding procedure is different from my Kitchener in the Round (stockinette) so be sure to double check the work.

Thread the long tail onto a tapestry needle and begin the grafting.  For an expert seam, place a marker through the first stitch on each needle as demonstrated in the video.  I also prefer to place markers at regular intervals on both needles to help me stay on track.  In Ambiguous, I put a marker every 16 stitches on each needle.  If done properly, you will reach the marker at the same point on each needle at the same time.  Should something go awry, it is much easier to back out a few stitches than 272!

Once the grafting is complete, weave in the remaining tail by fishing it through the stitches sandwiched between the layers or weave in on the surface with the Duplicate Stitch.  Now it’s time to wear your beauty with pride!

For a condensed version of the complete pattern, download it here or on Ravelry.

Be sure to enter your completed cowl in the Skacel Collection prize drawing by February 29th.  Not only could you be knitting with a new set of addi interchangeable needles, but your entry lets our sponsor know that you have enjoyed the knit along and you want to keep them coming!

As always, I am honored and delighted to lead the knit along.  I hope you had fun and learned something in our time together.  I am wildly excited about the April KAL (details below) and hope to see you all then!

Happy knitting!

Michelle

ambiguousfinal

KPHtemplate_instructions

Click here for printable version

Finishing

Place live stitches on waste yarn.

Break BC yarn leaving a tail 4 times circumference of cowl – approx. 80 (150)” for grafting.

Weave in all ends except long tail for Kitchener Stitch.

Block to desired measurements.

Place live sts back on circular needle.

Using Lifeline as a guide, thread the second circular needle through the first round and remove waste yarn from provisional cast on.

Fold cowl at purl ridge so that purl sides of cowl are facing each other.

Place a marker every 16 stitches on each needle to help stay on track during grafting.

Using BC long tail, graft using Garter Kitchener Stitch.

Garter Kitchener Stitch

See Garter Kitchener Stitch video (not released)

Set Up – Place a marker through the first stitch to be grafted on each needle.

Begin grafting with needle holding former cast on sts closest to you – this will be front needle. Needle holding live stitches will be behind this needle – this will be back needle.

  1. On front needle, pass tapestry needle through first stitch as if to knit, drop this stitch off needle. Pass tapestry needle through the next stitch as if to purl, drawing yarn through and leave stitch on needle.
  2. On back needle, pass tapestry needle through first stitch as if to knit, drop this stitch off needle. Pass tapestry needle through the next stitch as if to purl, drawing yarn through and leave stitch on needle.

Repeat steps 1 and 2 until 1 stitch remains on each needle.

Thread tail through stitch on front needle as if to knit and then through first stitch of round (marked stitch) as if to purl and draw yarn through. Repeat on back needle.

Weave in tail to wrong side or on right side using Duplicate Stitch.

See Duplicate Stitch video

April Knit Along – 14 Carat

14caratsketch

Join me in April as we knit a gorgeous poncho – absolutely this year’s hottest fashion accessory!  The fabric has an interesting design with superior drape.  Best of all, the simple construction makes it a garment that is flattering on EVERYONE!  Knitters of all shapes and sizes modeled the poncho and were thrilled with the flattering silhouette.  Most ponchos are available in the dreaded “one size fits all”, but I have two sizes to please everyone.  Whether you are new to garments or an experienced veteran, 14 Carat will bring you new skills as well as a stylish garment.  No previous garment experience is necessary – it’s the perfect first step to wearable knitting!

14 Carat is knit with Cobasi fingering yarn making it a lightweight top appropriate for chilly spring evenings or overly air conditioned restaurants in the summer.  Cobasi is available in solid, tonal and multi-colors that will all showcase the design.

KPHtemplate_size

Small/ Med. (Large/ XL)
22 (24 1/2)” wide, 60 (67)” long before folding

KPHtemplate_materials

  • CoBaSi by HiKoo, 50g/220 yards each, 55% cotton, 16% bamboo, 8% silk, 21% elastic nylon, 6 (8) skeins
  • US #7 (4.5mm) needle or size needed to obtain gauge
  • Size F crochet hook for cast on (surprise, it’s not a provisional cast on!)
  • Markers

KPHtemplate_gauge

23 sts and 31 rows = 4” in stockinette, unblocked

Posted in Ambiguous | 15 Responses

Ambiguous – Part 3

I have had a great time viewing the posted photos of Part Two on Ravelry.  Isn’t it fun to see how different each color combination knits up?  I know that I had to make more than one cowl just so I could try another color duo!

Part 3 brings us the inside of the cowl that will be folded to the wrong side of the Front.  The patterns on the Front had a decidedly traditional look, but the Inside gets a modern twist.  Chart C has much less stranding with four rounds of single color knitting per repeat and no long floats to catch.  A nice break from Chart B!

Continue to knit Chart C with the yarns in the same hand position as earlier.  While background colors switch between stripes, I held to the rule of never switching hands with the yarns.  You may work the single color rounds in the hand of your choice since yarn dominance does not factor into these rounds.

Work Chart C 5 times, ending last repeat after Round 7.  In other words, work the chart 4 1/2 times.  If you chose to shorten the height of the cowl in Part 2, work one less full repeat of Chart C.

We will discuss blocking and the cool technique to end the cowl in Part 4.

See you next week at the finish line!

Happy knitting,

Michelle

ambiguous3

 

KPHtemplate_instructions

Click here to download printable version

Inside – 63 rounds

Work Chart C over all stitches 5 times, ending last repeat after Round 7.

  • 14 rounds + 14 rounds + 14 rounds + 14 rounds + 7 rounds = 63 rounds

Note: If short version was worked on front of cowl, work Chart C 4 times ending last repeat after Round 7 for a total of 49 rounds.

Chart C

ambiguousC

Posted in Ambiguous | Tagged | 8 Responses

Ambiguous – Part 2

With the bottom border to the cowl completed, it’s time to rev up your needles to finish the “outside” of the cowl.  Today’s clue brings a beautiful design that will continue to expand your stranding skills.

Before knitting, take the time to assess your gauge and yarn usage in Part 1.  If your stitches are not at the recommended gauge it will change the size of the cowl and the amount of yarn used.

A gauge of more than 26 stitches per four inches requires a bigger needle – bigger stitches will give you fewer stitches per inch.  (Remember, bigger stitches use more yarn.)  A gauge of less than 26 stitches per four inches requires a smaller needle – smaller stitches will give you more stitches per inch.

I’m excited to bring you the beautiful design found in Chart B as seen in the photo below.  The pattern is reminiscent of traditional Scandinavian designs and will put your chart reading and stranding skills to work.  Each repeat is made of 16 stitches and 16 rows.  I recommend placing a marker every 16 sts to help you stay on track with the chart.  It is also very helpful to use a sticky note on the chart to keep your eyes from wandering to the wrong row.  It is best to put the note above the row you are working and have it covering the rows not yet worked.  This placement allows you to see the charted design as it appears on your needles.

For Part 2, work Chart B three times ending the third repeat after Round 13 for symmetry.  Follow this with the top border made up of another working of Chart A.  Part 2 is concluded with a turning ridge made by purling one round in BC.

Part Two

  • Chart B: 16 rounds + 16 rounds + 13 rounds = 45 rounds
  • Chart A: 9 rounds
  • Purl one round

My yarn usage after Parts 1 and 2:

Small – MC 53g, BC 43g

Large – MC 100g, BC 82g

Note: BC will be used more than MC in Part 3 next week.

If your gram usage is not on par with mine due to gauge issues, a simple solution is to knit the cowl shorter than the stated height.  Referring to the schematic in last week’s post, the tube is 16″ high and then 8″ high after folding.  Eliminate one of the 16 row repeats in Chart B (we will use the same strategy on part 3’s design) and your cowl will be approx. 6″ tall after folding thus saving the needed yardage.

Short Version

  • Chart B: 16 rounds + 13 rounds = 29 rounds
  • Chart A: 9 rounds
  • Purl one round

The stranded design in Chart B has some special considerations that must be addressed.  In Rounds 3 and 11 the Background Color is unused, or resting, for 7 stitches before it is used again.  When a yarn rests for too long, the strands (floats) on the back become very long and untidy.  These long floats can snag easily and cause puckering in the fabric once the resting yarn is used again.  The solution to this dilemma is to “catch” the long floats on the wrong side.  Catching the floats essentially traps the resting yarn somewhere in its long stretch of nonuse. The general rule is to catch the float if the yarn is unused for more than 5 stitches or 1″.

In two handed knitting, the method of catching the float depends on which hand is carrying the resting yarn.  In my new video, Stranded Knitting – Catching Long Floats, I demonstrate catching both the Background Color (yarn in right hand) and Main Color (yarn in left hand).  You only need to concern yourself in Ambiguous with catching the Background Color held in your right hand.  This is the first demonstration in the video.  Our Main Color never rests for more than 5 stitches so you can just tuck away that nugget of knowledge for future projects.

With a more intricate design and longer floats, tension is more important than ever.  I find it best to stretch out the stitches on the right hand needle before knitting with an unused yarn to allow the floats to rest gently behind the stitch expanse.  When the stitches are too close together, the resting yarn will not travel the correct distance across the back which results in puckering.  My unblocked version in the photo below shows some waviness to the fabric (I’m not perfect!) and it was all resolved with blocking.

I hope you enjoy the beauty of this week’s design.  Rest assured that Part 3 is much simpler:)

Happy knitting,

Michelle

ambiguous2

 

Part Two

Click here to download printable version

KPHtemplate_instructions

Front – 45 rounds total

Work Chart B (below) over all stitches 3 times, ending last repeat after Round 13.  For a shorter version, eliminate one 16 round repeat.

  • 16 rounds + 16 rounds + 13 rounds = 45 rounds

Note – be sure to catch BC long floats in Rounds 3 and 11.

See Stranded Knitting – Catching Long Floats video

Top Border – 9 rounds

Work Chart A (below) over all stitches.

Turning Ridge

Upon the completion of Chart A, purl one round in BC.

Chart B

ambiguousB

Chart A

ambiguousA

ambiguouslegend

Posted in Ambiguous | 48 Responses

Ambiguous – Part 1

Welcome to the first Progressive Needles Knit Along of 2016!  I’m delighted to have you here as we knit Ambiguous, a cowl that will have you working stranded knitting like a pro.  I designed the double-sided cowl featuring HiKoo’s Sueno – its weight and color palette are the perfect ingredients to showcase the techniques.  A big thank you to our sponsor, Skacel Collection, for distributing this fine yarn and for their continued support of knitting education.

Before we begin, here is an overview of the KAL:

  • A portion of the 4-part mystery pattern is revealed here on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Thursdays in January.  The weekly pattern, video resources and lots of helpful tips are included in each post.  An abbreviated, pattern-only version is included to download.
  • All techniques are supported with video instruction at knitpurlhunter.com
  • All questions and comments are monitored daily both here and in the Knit Purl Hunter group on Ravelry.  It’s like having  your own private knitting tutor!
  • Projects completed by February 29 are eligible for the monthly prize drawing – first prize is a set of addi Clicks!  See skacelknitting.com for all the info.

Because furthering your knitting education is the goal of my KALs , I design each pattern to target skills that will increase your knowledge, execution and confidence.  As a former schoolteacher, I have written a comprehensive knitting curriculum with specific skills.

My major goals for you in Ambiguous are:

  1. Color selection
  2. Yardage management – gauge consideration, size selection
  3. Stranded knitting – hand positioning, yarn dominance, strand management, consistent tension with even stitches
  4. Bind off – a surprise to be revealed later:)

Our first task is to determine which color is used for the background (BC) and which will be used for the pattern’s design or main color (MC).  You have dutifully chosen two contrasting colors and each color must be given its assignment.  While our main design is NOT snowflakes, think of it in those terms.  Using black and white as an example, do you want white snowflakes on a black background or black snowflakes on a white background?  Neither choice is incorrect – it is personal preference.  Put on your thinking cap and decide which you prefer with your colors.  Ambiguous uses both colors almost evenly so base your choice on how you want the “snowflakes” to pop.

For my samples I chose the darker color as the background:

Silver Sage (MC) and Indigo (BC)

ambiguous1.2

Chartreuse (MC) and Seattle Beach Tonal (BC)

ambiguous1.1

Below is the schematic drawing of Ambiguous.  The drawing illustrates the dimensions as well as the general outline for each of its four parts.  The cowl is knit in the round making a tall tube.  The final round folds the second half of the tube inside of the first half to create the double sided fabric.  More on the magic of all of this as I reveal each clue of the pattern, but I wanted you to have a good idea of the construction.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 3.25.00 PM

Now let’s choose the best size for you.  Your gauge in stranded knitting may be different than your stockinette gauge.  Your initial gauge swatch that you worked with one yarn is the desired gauge for your stranded knitting.  My stranded gauge, before blocking, was approx. 26 sts = 4″.  Larger stitches (less stitches per inch) use more yarn so we need to keep a close eye on your gauge in Part 1.  I have strategies to help you manage the yardage in both sizes  and I will be providing gram usage throughout the pattern to help you stay on track with yardage.

The average skein of Sueno has between 104-109g giving us a bit of wiggle room in yardage.  If possible, please weigh your skeins prior to casting on for accurate yardage management.

For the Small (144 sts) I used 96g of MC and 85g of BC which may make you a bit nervous about yardage.   If you knit to my gauge then you will be fine.  We are unable to cast on fewer stitches for the Small because the circumference of the double-sided fabric would be too tight for comfort.  The good news is that we are able to make the Small shorter than the stated finished height of 8″.  Shaving a few inches off the height will provide ample yardage.  Many knitters may prefer the shorter version for less warmth or bulk.  This size adjustment will be made in Part 2 if necessary and I will address that strategy then.

For those with 2 skeins of each color, there is quite a bit more wiggle room in yardage – again, at my gauge.  For the Large (272 sts), I used 180g of MC and 160g of BC.  I also made a Medium (192 sts) which used 128g of MC and 113g of BC with a 30″ circumference.  Adjust the circumference of the cowl in Part 1 by casting on any multiple of 16 sts (must be less than 272) to yield the desired size or yardage usage.  Each multiple of 16 sts = approx. 2 1/2″ in the circumference of the cowl.

After deciding the size, cast on the desired number of stitches with waste yarn using the Provisional Cast On method.  See Provisional Cast On video.  Round 1 (see Chart A) is worked as if in the round with all stitches in BC.  I STRONGLY recommend placing a lifeline through this first round to aid in the easy removal of the waste yarn at the conclusion of the cowl. Believe me, it’s no fun trying to rescue live stitches!  This fiddly beginning is very similar to the start of my Colormatic cowl – watch Colormatic – Part 1 video for expert tips to simplify the process.

The instructions for each round are given in charted form only.  Very few stranded designs are formatted as written instructions and I wanted you to become accustomed to this.  Charts worked in the round begin with Round 1, working each stitch from right to left.  All stitches are worked in knit changing colors as indicated in the chart.  Repeat the 4 stitches in the first round to the end of the round and then begin Round 2.  To stay on track in each round, I placed a marker every 16 stitches to section off four 4-stitch repeats between the markers.  Hint: Part 2 is a 16 stitch repeat.

In Round 2 the stranding begins and so does the fun!  Like the traditional Fair-Isle knitters, I prefer to knit with two colors using the two handed method.  As a die-hard right handed thrower, knitting with both hands was a challenge at first.  It was awkward and my tension was uneven.  I stuck with it and now find it to be fast and even, but it took practice.  Part One is rather short to give you time to become familiar with the technique.  See Two Handed/Two Color Knitting video.

When working stranded knitting, close attention must be paid to the position of the yarns as they are held in your hand.  The hand positioning of the yarns MUST be the same throughout the entire project.  The lower yarn, the yarn that travels underneath the other yarn, makes for taller stitches that appear more prominent in the fabric.  This lower yarn should be used as the Main Color that forms the pattern design.  The upper yarn makes for smaller stitches that recede a bit into the fabric and should be used as the Background Color.  In two handed stranding, the yarn in the left hand is the lower yarn (seems backwards, I know) and should be used as the MC with the BC in the right hand.  I have a fabulous new video, Stranded Knitting – Positioning the Yarns, that will walk you through the hand positions for two-handed and one-handed stranding.  The short video demonstrates yarn dominance for all methods of stranding.

As you work with stranded knitting, the floats (strands) of yarn across the back should not be so tight as to cause puckering.  In Round 2 (after the 1st 4 sts) the MC will be unused while 3 stitches of BC are knit.  Spread out the 3 BC stitches before knitting the lone MC stitch to keep the floats from being too tight.  Conversely, if the floats are too large then it will use up crucial yardage and make for an untidy and loopy wrong side.

A few FAQ:

  • Rounds 1 and 9 use only one color so yarn positioning and dominance is not a factor.  Feel free to knit these rounds with the hand of your choice.
  • The jog at the beginning of each round is a necessary glitch to this pattern as the Jogless Stripe technique doesn’t work here.  The jog will be largely disguised with blocking.
  • Because of the close yardage, it may be necessary to use the yarn from your initial swatch for the cowl.  Please do not discard this yarn.

At the conclusion of Part One (see photo below), evaluate your stitches and yarn usage.  If you find that your stitch gauge is way off or you are unhappy with their appearance, it is best to make those needle adjustments now.  If you decide to reknit the work, simply rip out to the lifeline and begin Chart A again.

My yarn usage for Chart A:

Small – Approx. 8g BC and 7g MC

Large – Approx. 15g BC and 14g MC

Take comfort that no knitting is perfect and blocking will greatly improve uneven stitches and puckering fabric.  As my grandma always said, “If it is perfect then it was knit by a machine.”  We are handcrafting, so embrace the unique qualities of your work!

Next week brings us a gorgeous stitch pattern to showcase your newfound stranded knitting talent.

Happy knitting,

Michelle

ambiguous1

Part One

Click here to download printable version

KPHtemplate_size

Small (Large)

8” tall, approx. 22 (40)” around after blocking

KPHtemplate_materials

Sueno, 80% washable merino wool/20% bamboo, 255 yds/100g each.

  • 1 (2) skeins Background Color
  • 1 (2) skeins Main Color

Needles

  • Two #5 (3.75mm) 16 (24)” circular needles. Second needle is used to graft stitches in finishing.

Notions

  • Size F crochet hook for provisional cast on
  • 10 yards smooth, contrasting color waste yarn
  • Tapestry needle
  • Markers

KPHtemplate_gauge

Approx. 26 sts and 32 rounds = 4” in stranded knitting

KPHtemplate_abbreviations

BC – Background Color

MC – Main Color

Pattern Notes

  • All stitches are worked in knit.  See Two Handed/Two Color Knitting video
  • Maintain the yarns in the same hand position throughout the entire project
  • Main Color should be held in dominant yarn position.  See Stranded Knitting – Positioning the Yarns video

KPHtemplate_instructions

With waste yarn, cast on 144 (272) sts using Provisional Cast On.

See Provisional Cast On video

Note: For a Medium size, cast on any multiple of 16 sts that is less than 272. Any cowl over 144 sts requires two skeins of each color.

Bottom Border – 9 rounds

For helpful tips, watch my Colormatic – Part 1 video which demonstrates a cowl started in the same manner.

Place marker and join in the round, taking care not to twist the stitches.

Work Chart A (below) in knit over all stitches.

IMPORTANT! Upon completion of Round 1, place a Lifeline through the stitches to aid in removal of provisional cast on at end of project.

Chart A

ambiguousA

ambiguouslegend

Posted in Ambiguous | 54 Responses

January 2016 Knit Along

Kick off the New Year by ramping up your knitting skills with a stunning two-color cowl using HiKoo Sueno (formerly Frog Tree’s Pediboo). The stranded cowl (also known as Fair Isle knitting) will feature lessons on hand positioning, yarn dominance, managing floats and a surprising take on an old favorite. The cowl is available in two sizes to suit your style. The sneak peek at the cowl was met with rave reviews – you won’t want to miss this one!

Size

Small (Large)

8” tall, approx. 22 (40)” around after blocking

Materials

Sueno, 80% washable merino wool/20% bamboo, 255 yds/100g each.

  • 1 (2) skeins Background Color
  • 1 (2) skeins Main Color

Needles

  • Two #5 (3.75mm) 16 (24)” circular needles. Second needle is used to graft stitches in finishing.

Notions

  • Size F crochet hook for provisional cast on
  • 10 yards smooth, contrasting color waste yarn
  • Tapestry needle
  • Markers

Gauge

Approx. 26 sts and 32 rounds = 4” in stockinette

Posted in KAL News | Tagged | 130 Responses