Ask the Expert: May 2010 Archives
Hi all- Welcome back to "Ask the Expert" where I answer your questions weekly so you can get back to knitting. Side note: No questions are dumb questions. Seriously, if you want to ask it than it can't be dumb. You are probably not the only person to want the answer, just the first to ask it.
Down to business-
This first question comes via email:
I knit English but my mom knits continental; which is better? Should I consider switching?
It is not a question of better- to each her own when it comes to knitting style. It is also not determined by which hand is your dominate hand. I am a righty and knit English (though I can change it up continental style) my mother in law is also a righty but knits continental. It really depends on how you are taught or really just what you feel comfortable with when you first pick up the needles. I have taught beginners both styles and I just ask them to pick which ever they prefer. Some will say that continental is faster than English but the world's fastest knitter knits English style.
Question 2 also via email:
How do I measure my gauge swatch to make sure it is correct?
Knit at least 4 in. by 4 in. in the pattern gauge. Lay down your swatch and try to get the yarn to relax a little. This will vary by yarn but you can try stretching it, smoothing it, shaking it. You will know it when you try it. Sometimes nothing needs to be done. Then using a ruler count the number of stitches that covers 4 in. across and then the number of rows that makes up 4 in. Compare that to your gauge. If you are 1 stitch or row off, I would not recommend adjusting your needle size but anymore than that, I would.
Question 3 from Facebook:
Anna asks: How do you connect different colors into one row?
You can either knit the tail in with the working yarn for about 2 or 3 stitches; this is a very neat option and weaves in the end at the same time. Or you can knot the new color into you knitting but this is not the neatest option. It makes for a messy wrong side and can be uncomfortable if it is a garment. If you are knitting Intarsia make sure you hook your new color around your old color, once, to prevent any holes.
Question 4 is also from Facebook:
Darcie asks: "End on WS" means end after the wrong side or ready to knit the wrong side?
This means you end after knitting a wrong side row, ready to begin on a right side row. It can also go by "End with WS"
Question 5 comes from the Blog
Mayflower 23 asks: Among some of the things that still baffle me are selvedge edges. I am trying to remember to slip that first stitch every time I knit flat but it hasn't become second nature to me just yet. My question is how do I slip the first stitch if I'm knitting garter stitch? Does it change for stockinette? Does my working yarn have to be on one side or the other or just where it should be for the type of stitch I'm about to knit? Perhaps a rundown on this topic would be as much help to others as it would be to me.
Let me start by saying that I do not slip the first stitch unless called for the in pattern. It is too hard to remember and seems unneeded to me. I sometimes like to cut corners, that's how I roll. But if you still really, really, really want to slip stitches, if you are knitting garter, slip is knit wise. Stitch you needle in the loop to knit and then slip it. It can change for stockinette, but doesn't have to. The edge will be the same as with garter but it may be easier to remember and you don't have to throw you yarn around if you slip it knit wise on the knit side and purl wise on the purl side.
Your working yarn should be on the side of the stitch you are using (front on the purl side and back on the knit side) or according to pattern. Some patterns (like lace, eyelets and a combo with ribs. See Barbara Walker's Knitting Treasuries for examples). This is a great topic you bring up and I am putting it on my calendar now for a more intensive rundown. Look for it in July but in the mean time I hope this helps and if not let me know and I can revisit next week.
Keep your questions coming! You can submit them via email, comments on the blog, Facebook and Twitter. I will make sure and do a round up on Facebook and Twitter on Mondays to remind you to ask your knitting questions.
P.s. The picture features my beginning of the Lady Eleanor Stole from Interweave Knits Scarf Style
Fabric.com is new to knitting, so it follows that most of our customers must be as well. But even the more seasoned knitters have questions that need answers. Forums are great but sometimes your questions can go weeks without answer and finding the right forum can be tricky. Maybe you just need a yarn recommendation, or an explanation of a cast-on. Or maybe your question is trickier than that. Ask it. Every Wed will feature "Ask the Expert" posts here at the blog.
You can submit your question as a comment on the blog. Every Wed. I will pick 5 questions and answer them. I will try to pick the questions that are the most helpful to most of the readers but, of course, I will also pay heed to those who just need specific help. I encourage all forms of flattery and general sucking up. In fact, I would as far as to say that it will greatly improve your chances of having your question answered. However, we all know how gracious and generous we knitters are so I am sure that even if you call me a "fat cow who dresses in plaids and stripes" (I assure you I do not) that if I find merit in your question, I will answer it while secretly hoping it takes you three tries to get gauge. You can vote on comments too.
I will break the ice by answering a few questions that some of my neighbors have thrown my way in the past few weeks.
Q: What are your favorites when it comes to knitting?
A: That is a broad question so I will toss out the first things that come to mind. I love wool. Love it. It is so soft and colorful. It has great stitch definition but is so springy so I consider it forgiving. It doesn't make my hands feel "weird" like cotton can.
I love hats. You can do anything with them. They knit up in hours. Everyone loves getting a hat. You can make the funkiest hat and it will not look weird if you wear it right. Here is one of my fave's, I make one a year (at least).
Wooden needles are my favorite. I am allergic to nickel and most metal needles are nickel plated. They make my joints ache and my fingers feel tired. I get worn out quickly knitting with metal. I like Acrylic too but sometimes they are too slick for me.
Q: What cast-on do you most recommend for a beginner (and I mean a BEGINNER!)
A: I like 2. The backward loop is the easiest to learn and get started but can be a bit tricky for a newbie to knit the first row due to the nature of the loop being so adjustable. The long-tail cast-on takes more practice to get but it is easy to knit the first row and makes a really nice, neat edge. So it depends on you. Do you want to just cast-on and go or do you really want to make it easier in the long run.
Q: I really want to feel the yarn- I can't get over that to buy online.
A: Unless you are new to fiber, you know what it feels like. Merino more or less feels the same. The prices can't be beat. You are saving the drive and time plus you can shop in your own home. Do you really need to feel wool again to see that is AWESOME? The bottom line is: you have to trust the site you are purchasing from. If they say it is soft, it is. If they say that it is springy or fluffy or smooth, trust them. If you can't trust their opinion of yarn fibers, why in the heck are you giving them your credit card number!? Fabric.com's merchandisers are pros when it comes to fiber. Every yarn gets put into the store by a real person. They touch it, think about it and write about it. Plus if you need more, you can call their customer service. I am sure they would love a chance to get their hands on it too!
Best of knitting to you: Tara Miller