Snow Day Knitting and the Jogless Jog

Category: Yarn School

The Jogless Jog: Somehow I haven’t had the occasion to use this delightful technique until yesterday, when I found myself without a project to knit during the epic Winter Storm Stella. We had to close the shop early, and there I was with all kinds of time on my hands and a warm, fuzzy feeling resulting from the gratitude I always feel to have a roof over my head when the weather is bad (and also from the space heater that I practically snuggle with in my living room). We’re lucky to be knitters on snowy days, because knitting is the natural thing for a knitter to do while hunkering down at home.

I’ve been on a bright and cheery color kick. I just finished the Hanasaku Cowl in a rainbow of purples, greens, blues and pinks and the Rainbow Warrior Shawl in hot pink and speckled turquoise. I was in the mood for this Malabrigo Worsted skein in bright plum purple. But never one to be satisfied with one single color, I decided to combine it with a bit of leftover cream-toned Cascade Eco-Duo I had lying around. Who knows where inspiration comes from? I just cast on some stitches and began knitting a hat with a hemmed edge and skinny stripes and hopefully a beret-like fit.

The only trouble with stripes in a circular-knit project is that they typically don’t line up at the beginning of the round. There’s a visible jog in the pattern. When you’re knitting around in a spiral and you switch colors, the very last stitch of the row will be basically on top of the very first stitch. One solution, of course, would be to knit all striped objects flat, then seam them with the mattress stitch. This can result in perfectly aligned stripes. But, my friends, there is a better way!

This is how it looks when you lift the stitch below up and put it onto the left needle.

Here’s how to do the Jogless Jog. It could hardly be simpler.

First, Introduce your new color and knit all the way around. No funny business. Just knit a round.

Second, when you are ready to knit the first stitch of the next row, use your right needle to lift the stitch below (which you knit in the previous color) up onto the left needle and then knit it together with the stitch.

Do this every time you switch to a new color. Not every row, just every first row of a new color.

This is how it looks on the inside. See how the end of the row shifts?

 

That’s it! it’s like a miracle – you can’t even tell where the end of the row is. By the way, the end of the row will naturally shift one stitch to the left every time you do this. It’s ok. Just go with it. You never need to hesitate about knitting stripes in the round again!

Some other things that might interest you:

 

The Case for Charts: Your Knitting is a Grid

Category: Yarn School

The other day, a visitor to the shop pulled out a scarf that she’d set aside for several years and asked me to write down the pattern so that she could continue working on it. This is not a service that I typically offer – after all, writing down patterns for my own designs is challenging enough. But in this case, it was plain to see exactly how her scarf was made as soon as I glanced at one side and then the other.

Her scarf looked essentially like this:

mistake_rib_photo_02_web

But in my head it looked like this:

mistake_rib_lauren_chart

And in a traditional chart it would look something like this:

mistake_rib_traditional_chart

But what I assumed that she wanted was this:

CO multiple of 4 + 1
Row 1: k2, (p1, k3) to last 3 sts, p1, k2
Row 2: p1, (k3, p1) to end of row
Rep Rows 1 & 2 until desired length.

But there’s a fundamental problem with the latter format. The problem is that your knitting is a grid, not a series of rows. A grid has both rows and columns. When you glance at the written pattern, you can’t see how the stitches are meant to stack on top of one another.

When jotting down a written pattern while looking at a knitted thing, one must do a mental translation from the visual into a coded format. Likewise, when attempting to read ahead in a written pattern, one must translate the code into a visual format, which most people will contend is practically impossible. It just gets confusing. I get it. It’s a mental exercise scarcely worth engaging in.

flat_versus_round_chart_reading

An infographic I made to help you follow charts. Click the image to expand it.

A chart, on the other hand, is just a schematic drawing of the actual knitted thing. It’s simply a picture of how it looks from the front side. You can’t dramatically mess it up or make it literally impossible to follow by making a simple mistake (like I did). Unfortunately, I discovered after this kind, trusting woman had walked away, I’d accidentally written something like “(p1, k3) to last 5 sts, k4”. Well, obviously that makes no sense at all – what would one do with the final stitch?

I’m sorry that I didn’t take the opportunity to teach her to follow a chart, because this very simple stitch pattern might just be the best possible example of the usefulness of charts. It’s usually called “mistake ribbing”. It’s similar to broken ribbing, except it ripples and fluffs a bit, almost like brioche knitting. But unlike brioche knitting, it’s suitable for a very beginner. Your very first project could be a mistake ribbing scarf – if you can knit and purl, you’re off to the races.

 

 

The Size of a Knitting Needle or Crochet Hook

Category: Yarn School

hook_and_needle_sizes
The size of the knitting needle or crochet hook that you use is crucial if you have any interest in replicating a pattern with precision or achieving a predictable fit. We alter our gauge (stitches per inch) by increasing or decreasing the size of our needles or hook to match the gauge listed in a pattern.

The only challenging thing about understanding hook and needle sizes is that there is no standard. Just as with more modern technologies, it’s hard for the amorphous world-wide group of individuals who decide what to call fiber crafting tools to agree upon a standard naming system (and stick with it). What any pattern calls a knitting needle or crochet hook of a certain size depends on several factors:

In what year was the pattern written? In what country was the pattern written? Which system was the pattern writer familiar with?

susanbatesknitcheck-featured

Use a knit-check to check what size a mystery needle is or compare sizes between two needles, and use the ruler on the edge for measuring your gauge.

The issue is even more complicated by the fact that manufacturers of knitting needles may decide on their own standard if they wish. For instance, we carry needles from both Addi and Knitter’s Pride here at Over the Rainbow Yarn. Addi calls a needle measuring 3mm in diameter a US 2, and Knitter’s Pride calls a needle of the same size a US 2.5. Perhaps Knitter’s Pride or an earlier company set out with the noble goal of differentiating between the 2.75 and the 3.0mm needle, which were both called US 2 previously?

For crochet hooks, there are two separate sizing systems – one for the very small hooks which are typically used with thread and made of steel, and one for the larger hooks which are typically used with heavier yarn and made of aluminum, wood or plastic.

Some needle conversion charts include more or different standards from this one, such as Japanese sizes, French sizes, or old American sizes versus new American sizes. Old American sizes (from the mid-1900’s) are similar to the dual-system used for crochet hooks: a 2.5mm is a Size 1, and larger needle sizes increase to 2 and then 3, etc., but smaller sizes (for steel dpns) have larger numbers beginning at 12 and going up from there, much like wire gauge sizes. Don’t get old American sizes mixed up with UK sizes, though; for the small sizes, they are close but not the same.

The chart below covers the most common sizes you’re likely to run into in the English-speaking world, and in some cases includes common naming discrepancies. You can use it to convert sizes from one standard to another. Of course, the best way to be sure you’ve got the size you think you have is to know the actual measurement of your hook or needles in millimeters.

needle-size_conversion_alt