Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tutorial: Jogless Join

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Anyone who knows me in a "knitterly" way, knows that I *love* knitting in the round. There's something very zen about being able to knit stitch after stitch in a rhythm without stopping to turn your work.

But what do you do when you want to knit stripes? There's no seam to hide the join. And if you just join mid-row, you end up with a jog.

What is a jog?

It's the spot where your old color ends and your new color begins. When you knit in the round, you're actually knitting in spirals. So when you start your new color, the new stitch is directly to the left of your old color, creating a step, or a "jog."

For a cleaner look, you'll want to try a "jogless join" or "jogless jog." This eliminates the step and is nearly invisible. This technique was described by Meg Swansen in her book, Meg Swansen's Knitting. Rather than quote her, I'm going to show you step by step how this technique is worked.

Step 1:

First, at the end of a round, begin your new color. Just pick up your new color and begin to knit for one full round.

Once each stitch is worked in the new color, stop.

Step 2:

Place your right needle (purlwise, or from right to left) under the right leg of the stitch below the next stitch to be worked. This will be the old color.

Bring this stitch up and onto the left needle.

Now your left needle should look something like this.

Step 3:

Knit these stitches together.

Now your work should look something like this. Expect both the old and new colors to have some tension issues. They aren't anchored down by anything. You'll be able to fiddle with this a bit as you go.

Notice that the right needle, though it has already knit the first stitch of the new round, looks like it only has one stitch on it. Thanks to the join, this is the new last stitch of your round. Be sure to move your stitch marker one stitch to the LEFT each time you change colors this way. Failing to move the stitch marker is the single most common mistake I see. If you do not move your stitch marker, you end up with a single stitch where there should be two rows of stitches.

Now you have knit two complete rows. Notice that both the left and right needle have two rows of the new color knit on them. This is a great way to double-check that your stitch marker has been moved to the proper place.

And what does it look like when you're done?

See? It's nearly invisible! Much better than a step.

Here's a series of stripes. Each stripe is 2 rows. Can you see the joins?

You can probably see what looks like a tension problem that runs from the bottom right corner to the top left corner. Remember, with each join, our starting point moves one space to the left.

The diagonal line shows this move.

But you can also see that each stripe is 2 stitches tall all the way across. And in some rows, you'd be hard-pressed to find the join. (I'm hoping I can continue to improve to the point where it's truly invisible.)

On the back, you can see the diagonal even better. Here is where the yarn travels up the work. I loathe tucking in ends, so the double row stripe works well for me. No ends!

Give the jogless join a try for yourself and let me know how it works for you! If you have any questions, please ask in the comments.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Beautiful Orifice Hooks!

Less than two weeks ago, I introduced orifice hooks to my product line. They were so well received that I immediately placed another order for the lovely beads, and they arrived today!

I set to work immediately, and am pleased to present....

Now available in six colorways. From left to right: Blue & Green, Pastels, Multi Color, Purple, Red, and Yellow.
As before, I'm utterly amazed by the detail in these beads. Look at the veins and white spots in the wings of the butterfly. Just stunning!
They are even more stunning in person. If you'd like to see and live in the Sioux Falls area, just shoot me an email.
In other news, I've also applied to be a vendor at the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival in Lake Elmo, MN on Mother's Day weekend (May 9-10). It's a juried show and I hear they often have a waiting list, so we'll see if I get in. I'm really looking forward to the possibility. Sounds like a great show! I've already met some of the vendors from my last fiber festival, so I know it's a great crowd. :) So wish me luck!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Miss May's Request

Just a few days before Christmas, my oldest daughter, Miss May, approached me while I was furiously trying to finish up Christmas knitting projects. "I want a quilt for Christmas," she says.

"A quilt?"

"Yep. A quilt, like that!" she says, pointing at my knitting.

"Honey, quilts are made of fabric and are sewn. Afghans are blankets that are knit or crocheted."

"No, they're not. That's a quilt."

Note to self: don't try to argue with a headstrong 5 (almost 6) year old. You'll lose....or get so flustered that you just give up.

"When do you want your afghan?"


Hysterical laughter. I really tried to hold it in. Honest! But a whole afghan in a couple days? And her birthday is only a month after Christmas, so that was also a pretty tight deadline.

"Maybe next Christmas dear. Afghans take a LONG time!"


I expected a hissy fit, and got none. Just okay. Maybe she watches me knit enough to know how long these things take. Maybe her own knitting lessons have taught her how long they can take. Either way, that was a very mature answer, and I appreciated it.

I was also excited though that she wanted me to make her something. I think we knitters, especially those without family that gets enthusiastic about our knit goods, get just plain giddy when someone expresses an interest in a handmade gift! Eureka! We've scored!

I showed Miss May some patterns and we agreed on a wavy ripple. I considered, briefly, crocheting it....since crochet is inherently faster....but I really love the feather and fan pattern, so nixed that idea. Knit it would be.

I then researched possible yarns. I wanted something thick (thus faster), but wool would be too hot in a worsted or heavier. I wanted her to be able to use it throughout the year. Cotton? Cotton blend? Bamboo? Soy? Price would certainly have to be a consideration with a project so large. Even cheap yarns would make this a pricey project.

I settled on Bernat Cottontots. Locally available, comes in several colors, relatively inexpensive, 100% cotton, and generally soft. I asked Miss May to help pick out colors and she only wanted me to use blue and purple in alternating stripes. Ugh! I knew that would bore me to tears! Plus, it would make it difficult to match the afghan to her decor over the next few years. Besides, I've been longing to make something stripey with multiple colors. No idea why. Maybe it's just a knitter/crocheter rite of passage....the scrap-ghan. Granted, these aren't scraps, but maybe it would fulfill some sort of scrap-ghan-inpired need. Anyway, after a few days I broke her down. Multiple colors would be just lovely! Yay!

This was Miss May yesterday...insisting that because she was in her Chef coat and hat that she was destined to help me fix dinner. ;) She's persistent when she gets an idea!

And this is her afghan so far. The cotton is rough on my hands, so it's slow-going. I can't really do more than 3-4 stripes per week, if that. Cotton in general isn't very elastic, making it strenuous to knit with. Especially if you knit tightly like I do.

Here are the first 12 stripes (8 rows per stripe, 290 stitches per row), making it just wide enough to fit across the top of a queen bed. Granted she's only in a twin bed now, but I have high hopes that she'll use it through college and beyond. ;) It must be able to grow with her. It won't be too big to drape a twin bed nicely, but will also look nice folded at the bottom of a full or queen bed. It's an heirloom in the making....if it ever gets done!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Orifice Hooks in Shop Now!

I am completely in love with my newest product.

Orifice Hooks. Those little hooks used with spinning wheels to pull yarn through a little guide hole.
The little loop at the top allows you to hang the hook or to add a larger yarn loop to hang the orifice hook right on your spinning wheel.

I have to give credit where it's due. Marilyn of Black Sheep Woolies in Custer, SD had a booth next to me at the North Country Fiber Festival last fall and she couldn't find her orifice hook. She scoured every vendor's booth and couldn't find one for sale! What a shame, I thought! Next year, I vowed to be bette prepared. ;) And voila! Thanks for the inspiration Marilyn!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday I returned from Richmond, Virginia where we layed my grandmother to rest. She passed away peacefully and in her sleep before Christmas, and was then returned to Richmond where she could be laid to rest next to my late grandfather. It was a simple graveside memorial followed by a luncheon. I flew in Friday, stayed at the same hotel as my aunt and uncle, had the services on Saturday, and flew back home yesterday. Kind of a whirlwind, and much too short a visit.

I was able to meet my grandmother's sister, her children and their spouses, and Grandma's best friend. My brother was able to come down for the services and my dad's best friend was the one that toted me to and from the airport and also came for the services. (He'd known her since 1956 after all!)

Everything was very very nice. My aunt did a fabulous job arranging everything, yet keeping it simple.

I think the big shock for me...and it really shouldn't have been, but it was nonetheless...was how much my dad was discussed. He passed away in October 2007, and everyone was curious about his final days and such. And they told stories about how they remembered him and all that. Normally, these stories would be sweet. But they blindsided me a bit. I should have expected Dad's family to want to talk about him, especially on the heels of his mother's death. But I think I was so focused on Grandma and her life and death, that it never really occurred to me.

Grandma's life? Oh, she was such a spitfire! Always quite the Southern Belle, with a bit of a bite. ;) Think of the women from The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Grandma would have fit right in with that crew. So very sweet and proper. Yet she was able to tell you what she REALLY thought, and had a way of making you thank her for it, even if it was an insult. (Mr. Yarnworks says I have the same talent. hehe.)

I credit this Grandmother for giving me the desire to knit. I was 7 or 8 and begged her to teach me. But she refused, saying I was too young. Saying I was too young made me want to learn that much more, and lit the fire in me.

Grandma was known for her handwork. She embroidered, cross-stitched, knit, and crocheted. She was also VERY active in the Chesterfield County Homemaker's Association (in Richmond, VA). Apparently at the time there were 22 clubs. Now, only 2 remain. Her best friend says that one of those two is one that Grandmother founded. She also founded a knitting group that still meets to this day.

See? I get it all honestly. ;)