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November 2015

Variegated yarn - wind before you decide

I go through phases with variegated yarns - sometimes I love multi-coloured combinations and seeing how the colours fall in the fabric - and sometimes I only want to work in solid colours.

Recently I've been falling for a lot of variegated skeins and sorting through them for some planned projects, I was reminded of the importance of winding the yarn in to balls or cakes before you make final decisions.

Depending on how the yarn has been skeined, winding it into a ball can change your perception of how the colours may play out in your project.

In the first set of pictures (all yarns from The Knitting Goddess), there isn't a major difference between the skeins and the balls.

K god coll

However, in the second set there are major differences in the before and afters.

Varigated 2

If anything the colours in the top yarn - Handmaiden Fine Yarn Sea Lace - blend more in the ball than on the skein. Whereas in yarns two - Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock - and three - Third Vault Yarns Tesseract - the wound yarn gives a very different idea of the relationship between the colours and helps me understand how they might play out in a project. 

Swatching could also help you see how the colours relate but remember changing the number of stitches will change how the colours fall.

Looking at these last two balls, I'm thinking of quite lacy patterns with air to separate the striking colours such as in these patterns.

Scarf: Barnett Park by Bronagh Miskelly, Top shawl: Blyth by Kitman Figueroa, Bottom Shawl: Blue Lagoon by Lily Go


Cracking the cable code - part 1

Is this how looking at a cable pattern makes you feel? Cable words

I've been teaching workshops involving cables and doing demos recently, and when I talk to people about why they don't do cables, the common answer is that the patterns are complicated to read or that they can't decipher the pattern.

So I thought I'd do some occasional posts about cable knitting and understanding cable patterns.

The first and most important rule about cable patterns is:

Always read the pattern notes and the abbreviations.

This is because even if you think you understand the code/convention used for a cable in a pattern, you should double check because unfortunately not everyone sticks to the same approach when writing patterns.

Here I'm going to look at a common form of writing about cables to help break down how they work. This the type where the cable starts with a capital C, then a number and then another letter. For example, C8B, C4F, C6R.

This type of cable instruction can be broken down as follows

C - this tells you that the instruction is for a cable stitch and usually signifies that all the stitches in the cable are knitted (or purled).

Number - this tells you the total number of stitches in the cable. Usually if there is an even number of stitches in a cable, half the stitches will cross over the other half.

Second letter - this will be F, B, L or R. L and R tell you which direction the cable slopes in and/or whether you hold the stitches to the back. L means the cable slopes to the left, R to the right. F means that you hold the stitches to the front of the work, giving you a left sloping cable. B means hold the stitches to the back giving a right sloping cable.

This means that C4F means the same as C4L and C6B means the same as C6R. These terms translate as follows:

C4F      slip next 2 stitches onto the cable needle and hold to front, k2, k2 from cable needle

C6B     slip next 3 sts onto the cable needle and hold to back, k3, k3 from cable needle

 I prefer to use F and B because they tell you exactly what to do with your cable needle whereas you need to think about left and right - I have been know to go through a pattern changing the Ls and Rs to Fs and Bs so I don't make a mistake.

If you are new to cables I would start with a pattern that only uses simple all knit cables like this so hang of how they work.

Cabke r2

Left leaning cable
Row 1: P1, k4, p1
Row 2: K1, p4, k1
Row 3: P1, C4F, k1
Row 4: as row 2
These four rows form pattern


Plait 2

Cable plait
Row 1: P1, C4F, k2, p1
Row 2: K1, p6, k1
Row 3: P1, k2, C4B, p1
Row 4: As row 2.
These four rows from pattern










Finished object: Sick bed cardie

Sickie cardie 1

I had knee surgery last week. The operation happened at quite short notice so I had quite a lot of reorganising to do, so it was the evening before the operation that I realised I had a knitting snag.

I knew I would have a long nil-by-mouth wait before the op which meant I needed something to distract me and after the op there would be a quite a lot resting time where I would also need pass-times so a knitting project was a must. The problem was my current projects:

  • lace tunic sample
  • sock on 2mm needles
  • 2 designs I'm still tweaking the patterns for

This wasn't my first knee op so I knew that I'd spend a few days somewhat hazy thanks to the general anaesthetic and the painkillers - some which leave me uncoordinated and a bit confused regarding left and right. So patterns requiring concentration or decision-making.

Luckily this is where having an extensive pattern collection and an "adequate" stash comes in. I needed something that was going to present me with no problems or tricky decisions but handily I had just the thing. 

In my stash there was a pack of ten balls of Bergere de France Baronval (60% wool, 40% acrylic) I bought on my visit to the factory last year and which I would not mind messing up a project with (it only cost me about 10 euros for the whole pack).

I also had a great cardigan pattern - A Gray Cardigan by Sally Melville - which I've made before. This meant I also had my notes about any modifications I made, how many rows in each section, etc.

And so a quiet and very sleepy week later I have a new cosy and practical cardigan. The Baronval is very soft and quite a thick DK so I'm hoping it will be a hardwearing, winter layering item, it was certainly a comfortable yarn to knit with.

I'm already wearing it because I even had the perfect button in my tin.

Sickie cardie 2