Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Read your Knitting Part 6

Here's another stitch pattern for us to work through. It's a simple eyelet stitch pattern. The motifs are offset in what is often referred to as a half drop pattern. You could also think of it as a brick laying pattern. The motif would sit in the centre of each brick.

I've used a garter stitch border around the pattern stitches as in my last post.I didn't include it in the stitch pattern below. Working two sets of instructions simultaneously is another skill which will simplify your knitting. I use markers to define those borders.

Eyelet Stitch (multiple of 8)

Row 1 (RS): Knit.
Row 2 (WS) and all other wrong side rows: Purl
Row 3: K3 * yo, ssk, k6; rep from *, end last repeat as k3 instead of k6.
Row 5: K1, * k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3; rep from *, end last repeat as k2 instead of k3.
Row 7: K3 * yo, ssk, k6; rep from *, end last repeat as k3 instead of k6..
Row 9: Knit. 
Row 11: K7 * yo, ssk, k6; rep from *, end last repeat as k7 instead of k6.
Row 13: K5, * k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3; rep from *, end last repeat as k6 instead of k3.
Row 15: K7 * yo, ssk, k6; rep from *, end last repeat as k7 instead of k6.
Row 16: Purl.

When you review a stitch pattern it often helps the knitting if you start to take note of how the pattern works. First thing to notice is all the wrong side rows are purl. That means it's a stocking stitch base and 50 % of the rows will be plain purl only. Rows 1 and 9 are all knit, that means 60 % of the knitting is stocking stitch. Notice next that Rows 3, 7, 11 and 15 are the same stitch pattern repeat from the * forward. Next, 7 and 13 are the same as one another from the * forward. While it takes 16 rows to write out, this is a fairly easy stitch to learn. Rows 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 15 only vary slightly at the beginning and end of the row to balance the motif across the work. There are really only two pattern rows to learn. When you think it through that way the stitch patterns feels much easier than it looks to be from a cursory look at the text instructions.

The knitter's rule here is, size doesn't matter...really!

Once you get knitting, you should start to work on the relationships of the pattern stitches. First, you establish a yarn over followed by an ssk (Row 3). The decrease keeps the stitch count consistent. If you are using markers you can count the stitches when you work the wrong side purl rows to ensure everything is correct. A wrong stitch count tells you there's an error. Stop and assess. My common error is to accidentally drop the strand of yarn making the yarn over. If you do pick it back up and put it on your needle. I find this easier to do from the right side of the work to be sure I get it to the right of the decrease and with the correct stitch orientation.

If you look at the motif when you get to the next pattern row (Row 5), you can see the k2tog has to be in front of the yarn over from the previous RS row. Next, there is another yarn over and then a knit. That knit gets worked into the stitch immediately above the yarn over of the previous RS row. If it doesn't, you've made a mistake so it's time to go back and fix it.

The next thing to notice is the ssks make a fairly strong diagonal line in your knitting leaning to the left. As you work them make sure this line is maintained. As usual this makes way more sense if you create a sample and work through the process yourself. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Here I'm starting the next motif (Row 11) which will fall in the centre of the two from the previous row. If you visually follow the stitch up from the ssk column you will notice that you work one more knit stitch, then the yarn over and then the next ssk. If it doesn't it's time to look for an error. There is only one motif in this repeat because there isn't enough room at the edges for a full motif to be worked. Once you recognize these relationships you are well on your way to reading your knitting. You wont' stop referring to the stitch pattern but you will catch your errors much more quickly once you have a road map of stitch relationships in your head.

Monday, December 5, 2016

How to Read your Knitting Part 5

This reading your knitting tip came from a discussion with another knitting teacher. The question was about how to help knitters keep track of RS and WS shaping instructions. 

The specific project was a garter stitch, asymmetrically shaped triangle shawl worked from a narrow tip to a wide cast off edge. You decrease on RS rows on every fourth row and increase on the opposite side on every row (RS and WS rows). Most knitters put a safety pin on the RS to keep track of the sides. The pin needs to be moved as the work progresses and the knitter has to remember to look for it and confirm if they are on the RS or WS.

My sample below is for a top down asymmetrical triangle. This one is more complicated because it has patterning to be worked on both the right and wrong side as well as different shaping instructions for each edge.

My tracking detail is the colour of the markers.  Look closely (click on the photo to make it larger) and you can see some of my yellow markers on the right side of the sample. Most of the green and blue ones are not visible. I've worked just past the centre stitch and I've switched to blue and green markers. I've got a marker at every eighth stitch repeat so there are several of them on each half. My rule for all projects is to use warm colour markers on the RS for the first half and then switch to cool colour markers for the second half. When I begin a row the first marker colour immediately tells me if I am working a RS (warm colour) or WS (cool colour) row. 


Friday, December 2, 2016

An Interview with...Sidsel J. Høivik

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find Sidsel here and here  on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. In nature – then mostly colour combinations etc. I find it in architecture, paintings, fashion, magazines, old traditional knitwear, very much in traditional costumes. I find that a lot of fashion can be transformed into knitting.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
For a long time it has been stranded colour work knitting. But I love to combine different techniques in one garment. Which includes adding crochet, embroidery, sewing ribbons, sequins, beads etc. on to my knitting.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I do look at other designers work and I get inspiration. I am not afraid of getting influenced by others as long as I can transform it to be “me”. I try very hard to transform the inspiration I get into my style. The secret is to get inspiration, but not copy anybody. Then I like to give credit to the designer who gave me the inspiration.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I don’t know. I did not use to do that before, but in order to reach more customers and not have to answer a lot of private telephones and e-mails (which I do not have time for) I try to write thoroughly and step by step in order to reach as many as possible. But I do not think my patterns are for “dummies”. They are quite complex, with many details so I feel I have to write everything word by word, step by step. Very many people think my designs are very complicated. They are complex, but not too complicated. I use a lot of different techniques and use many details, but then I try to explain thoroughly in order that most people can understand. And I think they do. At least I have heard many times that people tell me that they thought it was too difficult, but they managed. In that way I kind of feel that I help many people to take their knitting “a step further”.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
It depends. I try to spread the projects between the knitters so they have time to do something for themselves as well. All together I have 7 – 10 quite regular ones. I also knit some models by myself. I do not use test-knitters. I use sample knitters who knit the models that I use for photo. The rest is mathematics. ;-) The sample knitters deliver an unfinished product. I always want to make all the decorations myself. I am never sure what it is going to look like in the end. That develops while I am working on it. I carry my knitting around with me in the house. I look at it in different lights, different angles and usually it takes a few days before I start. Sometimes I leave it on the table with a lot of things on top like ribbons, sequins, buttons, yarn etc. I often have to make the projects “mature/ripe?” in me.
I often publish small teasers in social media, where I show them photos of different choices of buttons, decoration, ribbons etc. where I ask my followers what they prefer.

Did you do a formal business plan?
When I started my business one year ago together with my business partner Tom, we did yes.

Do you have a mentor?
Not really. I wish I had. I know a lot of people in the business and a few of them I am very close and familiar with. I can talk with them if I like, but I would love to have a real mentor.

Do you use a tech editor?
No, I do not. But when I understood that one of my models was going to sell very, very much I had one of my ex-colleagues who is an expert, go through the pattern for me one more time. She made a few changes and we made some improvements, but luckily everything was quite right.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I am not very good at that. I work a lot and since this is also my hobby it’s hard to stop. But I never knit during the day. I make patterns, new designs, draw charts, answer mails, and work mostly on the computer during the day. After a certain hour in the evening I do knitting, embroidery, crochet and things where I can be social and comfy and do not have to use my computer.

How do you deal with criticism?
I think most knitters are very nice and positive and I very seldom get criticism. Most people send me very, very positive and nice messages and mails. If there is some criticism very often that is a misunderstanding and when I have given them the explanation they get very positive and grateful for the answer. Sometimes though I read at social media etc. people complaining about the size of a garment (not necessarily mine). Then I get a little annoyed and sometime I cannot stop myself from answering. I get a little fed up when people complain about the measures of a finished model. They do not read the measures. They see S (M) L etc. and that’s all. And they do not measure the gauge. When they complain about a garment getting much too big or much too little and blaming the designer I cannot keep quiet. Then I may ask them to measure their gauge and tell me how many stitches they have. Then I make the calculation and present it to them like this: OK, your gauge was supposed to be i.e. 24 stitches at 10 cm. Instead you have 20 stitches at 10 cm. That makes a big difference. Your model was supposed to measure i.e. 90 cm around the breast. Your knitwear is 15 cm too big because you did not pay attention to the gauge. This is why it is so important to measure the gauge. Very often they keep quiet and do not answer. But I get a little fed up when people do not pay attention to the gauge and then complain on social media that everything was wrong with a certain pattern because their knitting came out all wrong. ;-)

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
It depends where you live I think. In Norway it’s not easy to make a living of knitting and most people have it as a second job. I did too for many, many years and made designs as a freelancer while my monthly income came from my main job. I used to design models for different yarn producer/suppliers, magazines and sometime I had very much to do and sometimes nothing. So I could not rely on that. Nowadays it’s different. Now you can sell your patterns online to knitters all around the world. So the market is much bigger. There are more choices and you have more possibilities to reach a lot more people. I have never sold my patterns online. I sell yarn kits with all you need included in the kit – yarn, pattern, buttons, beads, sequins, ribbons etc.

What’s next for you?
Next for me is continuing to make a lot of new designs to increase the models in my webshop. I had a little break in the spring and summer because my mother fell very sick and died in August. In that period the sale of my bestseller Morgendis / Morning Mist exploded and I did not have time to do nothing more than packing yarnkits and be with my mother. Now my aim is to make a lot of new bestsellers. ;-) I have many new models going. It’s been 11 months since I started my webshop. The plan was to sell to Norway, and maybe Scandinavia eventually. But very, very soon a group of Dutch knitters were very interested in my kits and we had to find a way to export. So I have my most popular patterns translated to English and we have started to translate them to Dutch as well. Since the interest is so big. I have for a long time received a lot of e-mails and requests from the US and Canada. For my books and for my patterns. So very recently I have started to send my kits all the way to the US and to Canada. It seems to work smoothly and I am very excited to see how this develops. I also have to translate more of my website in English. So I have a lot of projects ahead.

Photo Credits:
All the photos from the books and m
any of the photos in the  web-shop were taken by the gifted photographer Anne Helene Gjelstad.

Additional photos were taken by Gitte Paulsbo

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Win Socks for Life? (or at least the yarn to knit them)

I've been asked by the people at to share the news of a contest they are running. I don't know much about this company so I did a quick search on Ravelry. There aren't very many comments but so far all of them are good. 

They're giving away enough yarn to knit a pair of socks every season for the next 25 years (about 100 pairs!). The prize will go to whomever can show how their life will most be changed by winning and what you will do with the prize.  If you don’t want to use all the yarn to make socks? That’s okay, no hard feelings. 

Judges will pick the top five entries and then it goes to a public vote to choose the winner. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents. 

Contest link:

Entry deadline: Dec 7, 2016. Winner Announced: Dec 14.

Good Luck!

Monday, November 28, 2016

How to Read your Knitting Part 4

I learned to knit when charts were not common. Most of the early knitting charts I used were for colour work not stitch work. When you learn from text, there is a tendency for you to focus on the text instead of the appearance of the work. This stitch is knitted lace, which means it has patterning on both sides. Charting it to North American standards means you have a visual representation of how it looks, but the knitter has to pay attention to wrong side and right side rows and reverse the (usually empty square) knit and purl symbols in their head. I find when I'm teaching stitches like this one, that text is more easily used as long as the knitter also figures out how to track where they are by reading their knitting. Here's a stitch pattern to try. The stitch pattern below is a simple 2 row pattern. It repeats over 4 stitches.

Vertical Openwork (multiple of 4)

Row 1 (RS): * K2, yo, ssk; rep from *.
Row 2 (WS): * P2, yo, p2tog; rep from *.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until desired length. 

I've added a garter stitch border around the edge of the sample I'm showing.

I've knit a few rows so you can see the pattern established. On the first few repeats you are completely dependent on the text. Once you complete a few rows start paying attention to how each stitch lines up with those around it.

On the next Row 1 notice the first k is on top of the p2tog from the previous row. The second k is made into the yo of the previous row. After working into a yo, you make a yo and finally you make the ssk. If you look at the work you can see the ssk is always made into a visually strong vertical column of twisted stitches.

On the next Row 2 notice the first p is on top of the ssk from the previous row. The second p is made into the yo of the previous row. After working into a yo, you make a yo and finally you make the p2tog. If you look at the work you can see the p2tog is always made into a visually strong vertical column of twisted stitches.

The best way to learn this is to practice and while you make each stitch assess the relationship to the stitches around it and think it out more like this:

Row 1 (RS): K3 for the border,* k1, k1 into the yo from the previous row, yo, ssk into the vertical column; rep from *, knit 3 for the border.
Row 2 (WS): K3 for the border, * p1, p1 into the yo from the previous row, yo, p2tog into the vertical column; rep from *, knit 3 for the border.

If you stay focused on the second stitch always being worked into the yo of the previous row it will be hard to go wrong for more than a few stitches without noticing it. 

I often use a brightly coloured marker on the RS to identify it as such. As the work grows take the time to compare both sides so you can identify which is the RS and which is the WS.