I have just finished the first stage of my 'special' project (details still confidential) but many thanks to Kerrie (Hip Knits ), Jeni (Fyberspates), Abi (Noblin Knits), Sue (Wye Sue Knits) and Ruth (Woolly Wormhead) all of whom helped either by knitting, supplying yarns or providing contacts. I wish I could put up some piccies, but I can't. I have also been making diagrams and writing patterns. and I can't tell you what that is for either for another eighteen months at least!
There is a photo shoot on Sunday of these 4 projects which amounts to about 13 garments (not including some of the ones that were so bad they got ditched). I did work out, that every project that I didn't knit had to be re knitted, in one case we were on the 4th round of knitters! I was appalled that I couldn't find professional knitters that just followed simple instructions on paper and was most grateful to Abi and Sue who did some splendid knitting and finishing and picked up projects that had bad histories and turned them into something wonderful.
Breaking Some of the Rules
Abi did give me a mild ticking off, as in "who knitted this? They have joined a new ball in a middle of a row!". Horror of horrors, it was me that knitted that and yes I did join in the middle of the row. It really pained me to break the rules, especially where I have been telling other knitters they must not do this but on this sweater joining at edges that were on display looked terrible and was insecure. Where a seam is on the outside of clothing as a feature and is decorative, I found that joining right at the edge meant there was a knot or gap that couldn't be relied on to join neatly and invisibly. So I joined in the middle of rows. For the record, I join a few stitches in from the edge of scarves as you can hide the join more easily there than on an edge of a scarf that is on show. Joining and keeping a slip stitch selvedge does not work at all either.
On the subject of joining in the middle of rows I have found this. If it is a stocking stitch section, and a knot is used, that knot will surely pop through at some point. If it is on reverse stocking stitch, and threading diagonally under purl bumps is carried out, and the yarn secured on the other side then this does not normally pop through or ruin the look. Obviously, if we knit in the round then we do have to join in the middle of a round, with no seam to hide our ends in! This is how I first learned how to make something totally invisible and I have found that knitters who have been knitting a long time, don't really know how to do this effectively.
Rules Broken that don't enhance the knitNow what I did find when I had got through several knitters at the earlier stages, is that where I had ticked off people for joining in the middle of a row with a knot with frayed short ends, most knitters who find a knot in their ball (a join that the manufacturers make where yarn breaks on a machine) will then go ahead and knit this knot into a middle of a row or wherever it happens to occur.
Most of these knitters know to join a new ball at the edge of their work, but for some reason, they think this only counts as a 'new' ball if you are at the end of your 50g or 100g. Why people don't just cut that knot, leave long ends and join as a new ball I really don't know.
The other thing I found that people preached but did not practise was invisible weaving; knitters seem to just cut a short end end then wrap it over and over in a straight line across the row, which pulls out as soon as you wear something as knits like to move sideways. I suggest, putting your needle under a purl bump and then the next diagonal purl bump and so on, then perhaps back on itself once and this is totally invisible as in you could turn something knitted in the round inside out and it looks good on both sides. It gives your work more of a pro handcrafted look rather than a granny knitted it for the church fete look! And do stick to the rule of leaving a 6 inch end (most people do) and be patient enough to weave in about 4 inches of this (most people don't).
Sometimes a certain degree of logic is missing in knitters when it comes to finishing techniques. I have also found that people who do a lot of reading about knitting on blogs, will quote what they have read on blogs, which may or may not be correct, but then show a lack of experience when it comes to applying the rules they have learned.
I have had people who learned what Kitchener stitch was by description but in practice thought it was how you joined shoulders after stitches were cast off as in seaming; imagine their surprise when I stated Kitchener is invisible and seamless.
Some people think that mattress stitch must have a ridge, but will still call that invisible. Ah, you have that too? Well, so did I until many years back I discovered that most people were actually weaving stitch to stitch half a stitch in, as the knitting curls back on itself at the edge. Nothing wrong with that if the edge is a bit uneven, then it pays to join so only the best stitches show but if you have something like a rolled brim, cuffs or welts, then a little ridge is just going to spoil the effect. If you go to the back of the work, you find that there is half a stitch on the edge hiding from you and it is possible to join edge to edge and for it to be flat if you want it to. Equally, if you don;t mind a ridge (e.g.a cushion) you can join a couple of stitches in if you have room, and this avoids the need to do a back stitch seam and is so much easier. See the DomiKnitrix site for a good visual instruction on this technique.
I do think that a lot of knitters know the correct practice for their work, but will quote this in conversation but do a completely different thing. For example blocking, many people can't be bothered with that and will just sew up without doing it but they aren;t going to admit that at the local knitting club as it might cause an uproar. Well, if they can do that and get a good result, good luck to them.
I did find though, that some knitters thought that blocking meant fully pinning out, steaming and laundering and I have had trouble with knitters working for me not really being clear about what to do once they get to the joining stage. Just for the record, I take blocking to mean pinning your pieces out to the correct dimensions (I use large headed pins, clips and a towel for padding) i.e. as blocks. I like to steam, or just dampen my pieces then I like to pin to correct dimensions and as flat as I can and leave to dry off. Then in a morning, when I am relaxed about the fact I have many hours of good daylight, I tackle the joining and am mighty thankful that my blocking helped to get my pieces in the correct shape with good edges to join. Actually, I totally cheated on my last sweater, and paid Abi to join it for me!
When I join, I like to use these split ring stitch markers to loop through both layers and hold in place rather than pins whose heads seem to slip through however large they are.
After I have joined my pieces and completed all the finishing, I like to give a brief dip in lukewarm water as a handwash and I use a gentle shampoo, sometimes a conditioner. My work gets tranformed by this process and I think it is nice to know that something has been washed did not fall to pieces and all the ends remained hidden. Well, actually, the ends can sometimes pop through after the first wash but you can just pop them through to the back and hide them again. What if a client found those ends? They might keep chopping them off or damage the sweater as well as it being embarassing. Washing it not only gets rid of horrible smells of every place you dragged your knitting too it gives it a pro finish and it ensures that it can withstand washing as well as giving a guide on dye run.
After rinsing, I do roll in a towel, several times and then I do reshape whilst flat. I amuse myself sometimes by washing a sock just knitted and then compare it with the next sock in the pair just knitted and not washed and the improvement is so great I would never be tempted to hand a knit to a person without laundering. One sock looks like a 'real' sock and usually the other sock looks like a boxy bit of crumpled knitting straight off the needles and the heel/instep can look twisted and not lie flat.
Will be knitting some more socks this month so will pop back and show you a fully finished sock and a sock straight off the needles.
Now you know why I rarely put up pics of my WIPs on the blog, patience makes me want to wait until it is finished and has more of a WOW factor.