Wednesday, May 03, 2006

SFCKAL non-update; other colorwork stuff

No SFCKAL updates this week! At least none that have been blogged about. So, well, I guess that's the knitalong update for the week? (I actually knit about 2.5 rows on the Vertical Stripes sweater, but not much to see or discuss there. More progress when Ingeborg is DONE.)

Thanks for all the comments about the bag! I thought it would be appropriate to discuss evenness in stranded colorwork, since I've received several comments about that in recent history. First of all, you must know that when I first started to learn the technique, I asked a couple of more experienced knitters how their fair isle knitting looked so nice and even. The answers were basically "practice", "blocking", and "the photos lie". Those are my answers, too. Seriously, your technique will improve with time, blocking is the closest thing to magic you'll ever find in knitting, and photos rarely capture most of the puckering or unevenness unless you really try. I'll add two more explanations for why the bag turned out so well:
  1. With Komi patterns, you're never stranding across more than 5 stitches. It's usually 1, 3, or 5, with every third row being 3 of one color, then 3 of the other color, the whole way. This certainly helps keep things even and un-puckered.
  2. I've found that knitting at a really tight gauge (much tighter than what you'd usually do for that yarn) makes stranded colorwork stay a lot more even. I'm not quite sure what it is about this that helps, but I think it has something to do with the added stability and stiffness of both the fabric that's already been knitted and the live stitches on the needles. Things are less likely to shift around, which keeps it all under control. And I think having control of what your fabric and live stitches are up to is key to a nice stranded colorwork fabric.
While on the subject of pretty colorful things, I must link you to something special. This winter, I sent my friend Rebecca the leftover yarn from my Nordic mittens so she could knit a pair of her own. (She sent me Koigu in return!) She ended up using black for the main motif color, as I didn't have enough leftover of that, and she wanted black anyway. It turns out that she got one of the skeins of black Naturespun Sport that Brown Sheep accidentally sent to Alpaca Fleece instead of a cone of the same yarn for my Ingeborg. So her mittens are siblings to my mittens, and cousins to Ingeborg. How cool is that? Anyway, she recently finished her gorgeous mittens, and you all should click here to see them.

For the record, Rebecca was the first person I ever saw doing stranded knitting, when she did colorwork mittens in college. She also taught me important things, like how to un-knit stitches to fix mistakes. So she gets a lot of credit for inspiring and helping me when I was a fledgling knitter, with my Red Heart and Wool Ease. ;-)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hee hee - I was about to e-mail you to let you know that I'd posted mitten pictures :-)

The funny thing is that you inspired me to get back into colorwork - the inspiration goes both ways.

5/03/2006 9:25 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Thanks for the tips - evenness is always what makes me scared of colorwork.

5/03/2006 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I updated my blog this morning with a picture of the Flyaway Vest.

5/03/2006 11:14 AM  
Blogger Becki said...

Augh! I've been lost in a sea of college graduation and thought today was Tuesday.

5/03/2006 11:45 AM  
Blogger Tipper said...

I'm so bad. I haven't even LOOKED a Crichton for weeks. I think I'm just setting myself up for a crazed marathon come August, since I really, really, really want to finish it in time to submit it at the Minnesota State Fair. I've been meaning to submit something for years, and this just might be magnificent enough for me to do so.

5/03/2006 12:08 PM  
Blogger Becki said...

Alright, I'm updated now, too. If you don't want to edit the post though I understand and I can wait until next week. :)

5/03/2006 1:10 PM  

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