(Quick) Tips and Tricks: Pay Attention to your Pins!

We're deep in the end-stages of our next collection, which means there is a lot of blocking and finishing (and pattern drafting, and schematic making, and number crunching...) happening around the office. Seeing one of Meghan's garment pieces looking so lovely on the blocking board reminded me of a quick little tip that really elevates the finishing process from home made to hand made:

Pay attention to the spacing and direction of your pins!

quick tip blocking

L / Good Pins! R / Bad Pins!

As you can see in the image above, the piece on the right is pinned both infrequently and also with the pins perpendicular to the knitting. As the piece dries, the pins hold only the pinned portion of the knitting in place, causing scallops where the fabric should be straight. This leads not only to warped stitches, but makes finishing more difficult. 

On the left, though, not only are more pins used but they are all positioned in the same direction as the edge of the fabric; on the top of the piece, they are pinned horizontally, and on the sides, they are pinned vertically. This way, the full edge of the pin is holding the edge of the fabric in place, and as it dries, the edge stays nice and straight.

And that's it: a nice quick little tip that doesn't actually take any additional time, but really elevates your finishing!

KW Tips and Tricks: Increasing Within Charts

Working from charts seems to cause the most joy and consternation from knitters. We here at KW are fully on Team Chart. I would never consider knitting anything but the most straightforward and basic lace or cable pattern without a chart, and see no reason whatsoever to ever work stranded patterns without one. If something terrible were to happen to me tomorrow, my epitaph would most likely read Here Lies Kate. She Loved the Oxford Comma, Videos of Corgi Puppies, and Charts

We teach charts a lot in classes, and try to provide as much support as possible in our patterns if they include charts. Since a lot of our designs feature either colorwork or cable motifs, a lot of the designs also have charts. Many also incorporate integrated increases and decreases into the pattern. This means that while working from the chart, increases (or decreases) are worked within the stitch pattern to shape the piece. 

Both Delia and Jenny from the Andorra Collection feature shaping within the chart - on Delia, there are increases on the first round of the cable pattern and then decreases with in the cables at the crown. In Jenny, there are increases worked within the stranded patterning to shape the yoke. 

Bennett Creek by Kate Gagnon Osborn

Bennet Creek from the Luma Collection is another design that uses increases within the cable panel to shape the sweater. On both Delia and Bennet Creek, the increases serve to maintain proper width of the fabric once cables are incorporated into the knitting. (You can read more about gauge in cable pattern versus gauge in stockinette in our tutorial on measuring gauge in cable pattern if this concept is new to you, or you'd like some more in depth information.)

How To:

Below is a sample of a chart that includes increases within the pattern. On Row 1, increases are worked across the row outside of the cable pattern, and on Row 3 they are incorporated into the cable cross. 

chart sample increasing in pattern Kelbourne Woolens

Stitch Counts:

You begin working the chart with 16 stitches on your needles. I emphasized the word "begin" here with good reason:

The chart shows what your knitting looks like after the action as been completed.

This is why you count 20 boxes in that first row, even though you are starting with 16 stitches: after working Row 1, you will have 20 stitches on your needles. 

You begin working Row 2 with 20 stitches on your needles. There are no increases on Row 2, so after working Row 2, you will still have 20 stitches on your needles.

You begin working Row 3 with 20 stitches on your needles. After working Row 3, you will have 24 stitches on your needles, and will maintain the 24 stitches for the remainder of the chart. 

First Four Rows Written Out:

Row 1 / K2, p2, m1p, k2, m1p, p4, m1p, k2, m1p, p2, k2 - 20 sts. 
Row 2 / K5, p2, k6, p2, k5.
Row 3 / K2, p3, C2R2Inc, p6, C2L2Inc, p3, k2 - 24 sts.
Row 4 / K5, p4, k6, p4, k5.

And that's really all there is to it! Again, the key concept is to understand that the chart shows what your knitting looks like after the action as been completed.