Knitting 101: Getting “Fancy”

If you have made it this far in knitting and you’re comfortable with all the stitches I’ve shown you so far, CONGRATULATIONS! You are now prepared to graduate from beginner to intermediate patterns!

NOW, don’t get a big head. There will still be some beginner patterns that are confusing and difficult and there will be some intermediate patterns that you can do in your sleep. As far as I can tell, there is no standard for what constitutes a “beginner,” “intermediate,” or “advanced” pattern. It seems to be a generally agreed upon level of stitch and that’s about it.

Now that we’ve had a little celebration, time to get “fancy.” We all know that chevrons are “in.” Just look at every Pintrest board on home decor or nursery design and you’ll see them plastered all over. So, let’s see what we can do to keep up with the times!

What’s a chevron? A ripple pattern with a sharp point at the top and bottom. Something like this:

 

yellow-chevron

Now, this one happens to be crochet, but you get the general idea. If you’d like to take a better look, check out this Pintrest board for ideas.

Since we’re INTERMEDIATE knitters now, let’s pull out the big guns: circular needles. We’re not using these because we’re making anything circular, but more to get used to the length on them and how wiggly they are for casting on. We’ll get to the round stuff this summer when we start the Ugly Christmas Stockings pattern (if you can’t handle Christmas in summer, you may want to re-think your hobby choice, no joke. These things take time ^_^;;).

For those of you unfamiliar with circular needles, they’re the ones that have two pointy ends and a wire attaching them. Like this:

circular-needles

While we’re here, we may as well address colorwork. I’ve talked about colorwork and what it is in my Design it Yourself blog as well as the Crochet 101 blog so I will do what I did for the crocheters here and give you the short version: Colorwork is any work that uses multiple colors of  yarn. I’m going to be using a tan and purple for this project, but anything will due (we’re learning, it doesn’t have to be pretty).

The first thing to do is cast on. Casting on works exactly the same on straight needles as it does on circular needles. I’m only doing a few here, but you can do as many as will fit on your needles. The important part for this is that the number you cast on be a multiple of 12+2. For those of you who are quick at math, DO NOT cast on a multiple of 14, cast on (x*12) +2 and PEMDAS. I will be casting on 38 stitches so we have a good size section to look at. If you have loops slide onto the wire part, DON’T WORRY! It’s supposed to do that.

cast-on-slide

Before we get to stitching, I’m going to introduce two new concepts: Increase and Decrease. Yeah, they really are as simple as they sound. Increase means to add or make bigger, and decrease means to remove or make smaller. There are several ways to both increase and decrease, but we’ll focus on the basics for now.

yarn-overTo Increase in our pattern, we’ll be using a lace stitch called Yarn Over (YO). To Yarn over, you simply wrap your yarn around your working needle (the one you’re moving your freshly worked stitches on to) in a counter clockwise (ALWAYS COUNTERCLOCKWISE) direction. Then, move on. Yeah really, that’s it. The yarn over makes a “hole” in the work that is usually seen in lace.

To Decrease in our pattern, we’ll be stitching two together. This can be done with both knits and purls and is again, very simple. Slide your needle into the stitch the same as you would for knitting or purling (this is called “knitwise” for knits and “purlwise” for purls), but take TWO loops when you do. Then wrap your yarn and pull ONE loop through both stitches. These stitches are abbreviated k2 tog (for knit two together) and p2 tog (for purl two together) This will pull the fabric together and in our case create the “v” part of the chevron. I’ve shown p2 tog here:

Now that we can increase and decrease, lets get to the pattern! There are three rows to this pattern:

  1. k1, YO *k5, k2 tog, K5, YO repeat from * to last stitch k1
  2. p1, YO *p5, p2tog, p5, YO repeat from * to last 2 stitches p2 tog
  3. k1, YO *k5, k2 tog, K5, YO repeat from * to last 2 stitches k2 tog

Once you have those three done, just repeat rows 2 and 3 until you have the length you want. DON’T FORGET! We’re making stripes, so don’t go for a mile on color one, just make a nice stripe size and then we’ll add in color two. I did about 7 rows, jut to get a good look at the color before I moved on to the next.

When you’re ready to move on, grab color 2. DO NOT CUT YOUR YARN. Put the scissors down and back away slowly. We’re going to save ourselves the trouble of having a thousand strings to deal with and just wrap color one up the side of color 2. Yes, you will see color 1up the back side of the work, but really, it’s not that bad when you consider the alternative (if you want to spend the time hiding strings, I will NOT stop you, but I’m not up for it).

So, the first thing to do is get color 2 wrapped around color 1. I am lazy and don’t like keeping track of loose string, so I tied color 2 to color 1 with a slip knot.

joincolor2

Once that is done, continue in the pattern until you get back to where color 1 is. When you’ve met back up with color 1, wrap it around color 2 and then keep going with color 2 in the pattern. This method is called carrying

When you’re ready to switch colors, wrap color 1 around color 2 and keep going in the pattern with color 1. This method works anywhere you have to deal with stripes, and since it is on the back side of the work (or “wrong side”) it works great for sweaters and socks as well. Just remember as you go to untwist your skeins when they start to look like this:

untwist-time

Otherwise you could end up with a serious tangle on your hands and that is no fun for anyone.

When you’re done with your piece, bind it off the same way your next row is (if your next row is a purl row, bind of in purls) and cut all the strands (you can have your scissors back now).

finished-colorwork

You will have to go back and tuck the tails where the two colors start and end–but isn’t that better than tucking tails at the start and end of every stripe?

 

 

 

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