Tutorials: April 2011 Archives
Fair Isle and intarsia are not the only options for adding color to your knit work. Duplicate stitch is another way to add one or several colors to your knitting after it is completed. In fact, duplicate stitch can be the easiest of any of the color work options since there are no bobbins or extra strands to mind. You simply knit your piece and then go back and add in your duplicate stitches in another color. Duplicate stitch is a great way to add just a hint of color or to add a non-repeating design element.
To complete a duplicate stitch of a knit stitch is to
recreate a 'V' or upside down 'V'. Take your threaded tapestry needle and come in from the back at
the bottom of your 'V'. Go back in at the top right of the 'V' and come out on
the top left of the 'V'. Go back through to the back of your work at the bottom
of the 'V'. (or vice versa is you prefer to duplicate the upside 'V' rows instead)
Now, the duplicate stitch for the purl stitch is a little tricky but there is more than one option. If you want a true duplicate stitch than there will be 2 rows of stitching. While the knit stitch creates 'V's the purl side creates 'S's. There are curved bumps (that look like 'n') and concave bumps (that look like 'u'). This is best depicted in pictures rather than words.
To do a single row of purl, use a loose backward embroidery stitch. This will easily mimic one row of purl stitches should you not want the double row look.
Duplicate stitch is a great way to add a custom or personalized look after the fact or an easier way for you to insert color into a knitted piece. With duplicate stitch there is no need to try out different patterns to get an idea to work. Just knit up the piece and add the color design after.
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A zipper is a zipper unless it is invisible. But that is no longer the case. In fact, I now find invisible zipper easier to insert than regular zippers due to this little tutorial I am going to share. Inserting an invisible zipper used to involve a separate plastic foot that allowed for the curling of the zipper tape and the close placement of the stitches. However, this can all be accomplished with a regular zipper foot and some careful prep work.
First, unpack and layout your invisible zipper on your ironing board and unzip. Place your zipper facedown and press your iron against the zipper teeth until they begin to curl toward the front. Continue to press until your zipper tape is flat with no more curl. Press your zipper tape flat all the way down the zipper to the zipper pull. Don't worry about not being able to press the tape that is blocked by the zipper pull, that is usually hidden by the garment. You can see the difference between the flat tape and the still curled tape in the photo. The tape is pressed flat on the left and untouched, un-pressed on the right.
Next (and this is the really easy part) line up and pin and sew your zipper just like a regular zipper. "What! It can't be that simple!" you might say. Oh but it is and you can see why it is actually easier than a regular zipper because you don't need to topstitch after applying the zipper to keep the fabric out of the teeth. The curl that you ironed out comes back when you zip up your zipper and this keeps the fabric away from the teeth. The only real difference between sewing a regular zipper and an invisible zipper is that you are encouraged , Nay- required, to sew as close to the zipper as possible with an invisible zipper. With a regular zipper you must be careful not to get too close (which will make zipping tricky) and not too far away (which will make the zipper too visible). An invisible zipper is also more forgiving should your stitch line not be perfect.
I recommend always sewing your invisible zipper from the top down. If you prefer to always have your fabric on the left of the needle like I do then you might discover extra fabric or zipper at the top or some other mismatch. If you start both sides of the zipper at the top, you are in a better position to match up at the bottom.
Invisible zippers are not only more hidden from the eye but also from the drape of the clothing and from the little rub when placed under the arm (if I wear a dress too long with a regular zipper placed on the side seam, I find a raw area rubbed away at night). I find there is none or less puckering with an invisible zipper in knitwear. I also much prefer the zipper pull; a small thing I know but details are what make me proud to wear my own handmade clothes.
Provisional Cast On in Action (sneak peek at April's Project)
Sometimes the cast on is as important as the stitch pattern. Sometimes you need an invisible cast on; sometimes you need to knit from your cast on flawlessly without the tell-tale ridge row that comes from picking up previously knitted stitches. Enter the Provisional Cast On which is an invisible cast on that can be knit from in both directions leaving you with a flawless knitted piece. Most often this cast on is created using waste yarn and working yarn knotted together. You cast on your desired number of stitches and knit on. Once you are ready to pick up your other cast on stitches, you carefully unknot and remove your waste yarn and pick up and knit your stitches. You must be careful because every other stitch from this cast on will be twisted so you must knit it through the back loop. A trifle compared to how useful this cast on is. You can match your cast on to your bind off by picking up the stitches and binding off a second time, so in actuality you have 2 bind offs instead of a cast on and a bind off. You can create mirror images for scarves and other luxury items where perfection is desired. I incorporated this wonderful technique in the upcoming April Free Knitting Pattern Download (so take notes).
However wonderful this cast on it, it can be better. "How could anything so awesome get any better, unless Michael Buble were holding your yarn while you cast on. Surely that is the only way to make it better!" you might exclaim. Alas, no Michael's were employed to make this technique better but only a cable needle. I substituted a flexible cable needle in for the waste yarn. This enables the knitter to forgo unknotting yarn and pick up stitches. When the time comes to knit from your cast on, you need only slide your stitches onto your needle and knit on. It is so simple and wonderfully easy. You can see how I pull it off in this handy video.
Don't forget to tune in later this month for this cast on in action in the April Free Knitting Pattern Download. Yarn used in this blog post was the delicious Lion Brand Recycled Cotton to be featured in this month's pattern as well.
You can catch sneak peeks of upcoming patterns and project by following me on twitter @tdangermiller
Our closets are not the only areas we get a craving to update; our outdoor spaces may be blooming but could also use a little fabric help. Whether it is vintage chairs that need some paint and new cushion or a chaise that needs a floral box pillow or (like me) you need to bring some color to an outdoor patio; outdoor fabric is a spring necessity. The colors are bright and bold; the prints are big and make a statement. This is all exactly what you need to contend with the show put on by your lawn, garden and competitive neighbors. I think decorating the outdoors is my favorite home dec project because I can use the bright colors and big patterns my brain tries to talk me into everyday of the year and in an afternoon you can make the outdoors inviting to friends and family. Fabric.com's selection of outdoor fabric gets better every year!
My patio area is a covered walkway from my back door to my garage and is a jungle of browns and bland greens. Brown walkway (colored from the red clay), brown fence, brown patio set and green house. It needs something and fast. We have plans for planters but since it is all shade under there I am having trouble deciding on shape plants that can handle the abuse a 2 yr old might decide upon and the sweltering heat of the Georgia summers. Until the happy day where I find my dream plant, I am planting with an outdoor fabric instead. It will bring in all the color I want without needing any water or constant vigilance over little hands and plotting minds.
It takes about 1 yd for every 2 chair cushions so I am working with 3 yds to make 6 cushions. To start you want to measure the area for your cushion. Mine measured 16 x 17 in. I cut my foam to match this size using an electric knife. If you don't have foam left over from another project like I did, you can always score some from at a thrift store by finding outdoor cushion that may be hideous but still in good shape and recover them (or use a pillow form for an extra cozy cushion). I next cut 2 pieces from my fabric 1 in. bigger on each side (this will account for the 1 in. depth of my foam plus a ½ in. seam allowance. So my cutting measurements were 18 x 19 in. With right sides together, I stitched around the sides and front of my cushion, leaving a 6-7 in gap the back open to fit the cushion. After clipping the corners and pressing open the seam allowance on the gap (this makes it easier to hand sew later) I turned my cover right side out. Next, fold you foam in half and slide it into your cover and carefully unfold it until it is snug inside the cover (since my measurements were so close I drew an arrow to make sure I inserted my foam correctly). Hand sew your gap closed.
Now you can add your embellishments. I opted for a nice little bow at a back corner (though I have it in front in the pictures, that was just me a little over excited about how great the cushion turned out). It adds a little whimsy but I don't have to really worry about backsides rubbing it off because it is tucked safely in a back corner. To make the bow cut a length of ribbon 2 the size of your desired finished bow. Fold it in half and stitch the 2 ends together. Place the seam in the back middle of the loop and press it in half. Next, wrap another small length of ribbon around your flattened loop and stitch the 2 ends together in the back and sew to the flattened loop. Once your bow is finished you can hand sew it to your cushion for a pretty flare. You can also add buttons to tuft your cushions (this is a good idea if you go with the pillow forms) or tassels at the corners. To keep your cushions in place you can add ties to the back (about 6 to 8 in. for each) or add some non-slip backing to the bottom of your cushion.
Most of our outdoor fabric blends with many collections so it will be easy to add tablecloths, coordinating pillows and grill covers.Check out our whole Outdoor Fabric Section which includes fabric by motif, patterns and notions. Have fun!
There is always some point in a knitting pattern that I have realized that I'm missing a stitch from a row below. Usually this is with a substantial pattern will 300 or so sts per row (Murphy's Law and all). Not a piece you relish un-knitting, going back finding/fixing the problem and knitting again. Once you have figured out where the problem is it can be easy to fix an increase or add an increase without a lot of frogging and reknitting. Some increases are easier to fix than others.
YO (Yarn over)- this is an open increase that creates an eyelet. To fix a yarn over you just need to pick up the ladder between 2 stitches and put it on your left needle and knit it. Depending on how many rows down you need you increase to be you pick up the ladder from that row put it on your crochet hook (or 3rd needle, if you like) and fix your stitches back up the correct row.
M1 (Make one)- this is a relatively invisible increase. To add or fix a M1 increase you will pick up the ladder from the desired row just like a YO but you will then twist the loop and the place it on your fixing tool and work back up to your working row.
Kf&b (Knit front & back)- this creates a bar or a purl like stitch that adds a decorative or textural detail good for sleeve increases. Fixing a Kf&b can be tricky but with my video tutorial you will have it down in no time!