Category Archives: cables

On the subject of things that are challenging

 

Mar11-Staked3

In the mean time, I’ve been spending a bit of thought and energy going back to the whole technique of cabling without a cable needle. It’s a favourite technique of mine, knitting-wise, and one that I use and encourage a great deal through my designs. (Hint: I am probably not stopping with the cables in the designs, any time soon.) And I directly point out how this works in this blog post from the fall, with a step-by-step set of photos demonstrating a left-leaning and right-leaning cable.

I don’t think everyone needs to know how to do this, in the same way that I don’t think that any kind of technique is required knowledge for knitting. We are all capable people and we do things as we please, and there is rarely only one single way of accomplishing something in knitting world. But I do think that being able to do this greatly increases your chances of working cables efficiently and quickly, if you don’t have to reach for the cable needle every single time, especially if you are working a pattern that asks you to work several cable twists over a row, every other row. (Um, not that I would know anything about that. Heh. ::coughcough::) And this is one way of working cables that I like a lot.

There are a few basic steps to this that have to do with what cables are and how they are constructed, that may help you to wrap your head around this technique in case you are still struggling with it.

1. All cables or cable twists involve 2 things:
a) the addition of a twist or directional turn in the knitting, that moves one or more stitches in one direction, in the foreground of the work, over top of one or more stitches that move in the opposite direction, in the background of the work.

b) working the stitches in some combination of knitted and purl stitches. In the cases where all stitches are knitted, this is usually referred to as a cable, i.e. C4L is a cable twist leaning to the left over 4 sts, where all sts are knitted. T4L is a cable twist leaning to the left, involving knitted stitches leaning to the left over a background of purl sts.

Some examples of cable notations that all lean to the right might be like so:

Left Cables and Twists

And similarly, all of the following lean to the left:

Right Cables and Twists

In other words, the action of making the twist to the left or to the right is always the same, regardless of how many total sts are being worked. What may differ, however, is whether or not all the sts are worked as knits, or some as knits and some as purls. So…

2. This also means that, although I am working all of these in English style and not Continental (i.e. ‘throwing’ the yarn with the right hand instead of ‘picking’ with the left), you can work the twist like this regardless of whether you are an English or Continental knitter. Just do the twist in the required direction, then work the sts.

3. When you’re working this technique without a cable needle, the only thing that really matters is that you are working these steps in 1a and 1b in sequence: First you make the twist, then you work the sts according to the pattern.

So, all you need to ask yourself when working a cable is: Is this leaning to the left or to the right? And then; Which ones do I knit (or knit through the back loop – ktbl – as the case may be, as here), and which do I purl?

I decided to add to this whole cabling tutorial experience with a video demonstration, because as helpful as photos are, it’s easier for some people to simply see this live in 3D action. So I’ve taken the liberty of doing just that, and as it turns out I like to blather about this so much that I had to divide it up into 3 segments. Part 1 (above) involves some general explanation of the cables and twists (as I do some of here in this post), and also demonstrates a right-leaning cable.

Part 2 (below) adds to the demo by showing several right-leaning and left-leaning cables and twists. All of these are over 2 sts, but the technique would be the same for cables over 4 or 6 sts. After about 8 sts I jump back to the cable needle, it’s just easier that way. (Spoiler alert, in this clip you also see me fixing a couple of boo-boos as I go, re-knitting an unknitted stitch and so forth, from the RH needle. Knitting in front of a camera is tricky, yo.) I also refer to the need for a bit of relaxation while working this technique, to avoid a death grip and hand/arm strain.

And then, in Part 3 (below), I put this all together and just plain work a full needle’s worth of stitches including several cable twists to the left and to the right.

All of this asks you to be comfortable with having some sts that are temporarily live (off a needle). This can sometimes be a bit terrifying if you’re new to it, but it also happens pretty quickly. The worst that could happen is that you drop a stitch in the process, and heck, if you do that, all you have to do is go and remember your Knitting 101 and remember how to pick it up again. (See that? See how I calmly breezed past that? Lalalala you can too.)

Finally, because I know people might ask – I’m demonstrating all of this on a pair of Staked socks, and the pattern will be available from Indigodragonfly Yarns as a kit in mid-April, and as a wide release pattern from me in June. (I’ll be sure to let you know when that all happens.) Also, the knitting back in the background is one of Jennie Gee’s, happily snatched from the Knitty City booth at the Vogue Knitting Live event in NYC. I love her stuff.

Anyhoozle, there you have it. More endorsement for cabling without a cable needle. (And, um, probably not my last). Stay tuned until next time, when I may actually have more cabled knitting progress to report. Those sleeves on the Dusseldorf Aran aren’t going to knit themselves.

Happy knitting!

15 Comments

Filed under cables, demo, design, fearless knitting, tutorial

A pause for colour

There are a lot of knitters out there who are capable designers and figure-out-ers who I have heard testify that they never knit anyone else’s patterns, only their own. I admire this, yet also never quite understand how they are able to do that. It’s not just the wealth of delicious knitting patterns that are out there to choose from (I wonder if they miss out on fun stuff as a result), it’s that I wonder how they are able to give their brains a rest once in a while. One of the most challenging parts of my triple life as a knitter/blogger/designer is finding a balance between all three, and some weeks it’s the hardest job of my life. When I’m designing things it means I’m responsible for All The Decisions that go into that thing, and it takes up a lot of my brain energy, and quite frankly some times my brain needs to not be in charge of All The Decisions. Sometimes it needs time to remember that I’m a knitter who likes knitting.

I’m in the process of changing over from some finished or almost finished design projects and starting in on some new ones, and took the opportunity to cast on something new that wasn’t something my brain had to be completely in charge of. Of course, it’s still a cabled pullover, which probably tells you something about my particular brain’s idea of “rest,” but you know, it’s whatever your brand of crazy is.

Feb10-DusseldorfAran2

A couple of weeks ago at the Vogue Knitting event of my classes was with Anne Hanson, on sweater fit and modification. (Hint: your body is probably not the same as the pattern schematic’s body. the only sweater that will fit your body exactly is one that you’ve either written for yourself or modified from the pattern instructions.) We were meant to bring a pattern, yarn, and swatch with us as part of the class work, and I did so, thinking that I’d just use them for the validity of the exercise and then carry on knitting all the other things I had to work on.

Feb10-DusseldorfAran1

And then, a fun thing happened. After the class, it occurred to me that I really did want to make the sweater. So I cast on. It’s the Dusseldorf Aran pullover by Fiona Ellis, which I remember being interested in when it came out in Interweave Knits a year and a half ago. I matched it up with some magenta Berroco Ultra Alpaca purchased last March (yes, it really is that pink), because this winter already feels like it’s going on forever and I could use some magenta in my life. It’s great. It’s turned into a “knit on this for at least 10 minutes in the morning” sort of project, and the cables are gently rolling along and the colour makes me happy.

Here’s hoping you’ve got some delicious winter knits on your needles. Happy almost weekend!

16 Comments

Filed under cables

What direction was I going again

The good news is, I am back on track with my Royale. I did in fact, rip it back to fix the mistake (The bad news is that in fact, I had to rip back twice, because after ripping back the first time and after resuming knitting it, I realized I hadn’t ripped back far enough the first time, and therefore had to rip out the re-knitted inch or so AND the original mistake, HAH what a fun time that was), and I believe it is all in the clear now. I did debate about it, since – as many of you pointed out last time – the mistake wasn’t as obvious to some people as it was to others. But I want to wear this sweater to Rhinebeck this year, and I realized I would be happier wearing it if I could say “hey, I really like my sweater, I designed it and everything!” instead of “I really like my design, but just pay no attention to the goof-up right over the middle of the front of it, that doesn’t count, lalalallaaa…”

Aug6-Royale

So I ripped it back. And now I think I am in the clear, and am almost back to the point I was at on about Monday or so. Two steps forward, two steps back, some days. Clearly, the fact that the design sample and pattern construction for this sweater was all pleasurable, efficient, and relatively mistake-free, has now come back to bite me on the ass. Let’s hope I’ve appeased the knitting gods for the time being.

Everything else is in a state of being in progress around here. Knitting, writing, the fact that I have to prep lectures and course materials for the coming term (a good thing in that I get to do it in exchange for money, it just requires a bit of mental sucking-it-up to actually get back into the swing of doing it), and it all adds up to me furiously wishing I had something actually done. I miss having finished objects. I’ve had so few of them this summer, despite having many things on the go, and many more design ideas brewing.

Aug6-Lace

Speaking of designs, I’m chugging away on a bit of lace to round out the end of the summer, including finishing up that yellow lacy thing for The Sweet Sheep (still lacy and yellowy, getting bigger), and a new red cashmere thingy which will be for Tanis Fiber Arts for September. (Which, isn’t the fact that it is red and cashmere pretty much all you need to know? I figure, anyway).

And, thankfully, after a 6 month (!) period of neglect, my spinning wheel is still speaking to me.

Aug6-Spinning

I’m so glad spinning wheels don’t hold grudges.

Happy knitting to you for the coming weekend! Until next time.

8 Comments

Filed under cables, design, spinning

On deciding how much to care about that

I am moving merrily along on my Royale, and really enjoying it. I had a lot of fun when I knitted it the first time, and even though a second go-around always has a bit less excitement, I’m still really happy to be making one for me. And I like the colour.

And then I looked down at it the other night and realized that apparently I cannot, in fact, get away with neglecting reading my own charts, as much as I thought I could. Somehow I added some extra rows in the second repeat of the middle chart motif. Where the outside rows of the twisty twisty lattice bit should have completely woven towards each other, for some reason I decided to make them go along for a while in the middle for some extra rows.

Aug4-RoyaleProgress

So now, I am left to consider exactly how much I care about that mistake. I woke up this morning suddenly thinking about it (as one does), and thought “yeah, definitely have to rip it out and knit it over again. I mean, I’ve ripped up more knitting than that before, in the name of mistake-fixing. It can be done. And then I pulled it out and looked at the 3 inches of knitting I would have to undo in order to redo it…and I started bargaining with it. Maybe it will be a unique design feature. Maybe nobody will notice it anyway unless they are looking very hard. I mean, given the scoopneck, people should really be looking at my chest rather than my belly button. Hmm.

Maybe I’ll just go back to knitting a bit of lace while I think about that.

30 Comments

Filed under cables, fearless knitting

Happy birthday to me

I’m back from the great California adventure, have unpacked and am trying to remember what it was that I was doing before I left – which I am sure was very very important – and now it’s my birthday. Today I’m going to celebrate by going for a run, finishing making some chocolate cupcakes of death, and going in to knit at the Purple Purl for a bit. After that, who knows. If things get really crazy, maybe I’ll get out my spinning wheel this weekend. (STEP back.)

July30-Royale

As for my knitting, I’m working away on a Royale pullover of my own, since the lovely sample I made up back in the spring is now in the hands of Tanis Fiber Arts! And I must have one of my own. This is Tanis’ aran weight, in ‘teal’, which was one of her new colours this May. It is delicious.

Now I have some birthday-ing to do. Happy Friday!

52 Comments

Filed under cables, design, sweaters

Royale

Okay, so usually when I finish a design and then put it out into the world for public consumption, I am immediately filled with a strangling mix of glee and terror, when all my insecurities about things I could have done differently/better/while inhabiting a different personality/with more Zen/whatever immediately jump up and down on my head.

Not this time. Or, at least I can say that the glee part of my brain is winning, for the moment. I love this pattern. I love it to little tiny bits. This is the ‘Royale’ pullover, (available here in my Ravelry store, and here on Patternfish) and my second of two designs for Tanis Fiber Arts this season (just in time for the Knitter’s Frolic on Saturday!)

May6-Royale11-Full

I’d been wanting to do a pullover pattern of some kind for Tanis, as I’d done a cardigan jacket for her last fall, and I also knew I wanted to do something with cables. Once I got the yarn in my hands – this is a “new and improved”, deeper, richer version of her standard ‘garnet’ colourway – I knew exactly what this needed to be. No wimpy cables here. No no. Regal, royal, decadent cables. And nice and fitted, yes please. Tanis’ superwash Aran is wonderfully comfortable to wear and there’s no reason not to put it into a nice modern fit. I’m a particular fan of the 3/4 sleeves and scoopneck, if I do say so myself.

May6-Royale9-Sleeve

The front and back each feature a large cable motif framed by a smaller one, and the smaller cable motif is then repeated along the centre of each sleeve. Additionally, I’ve written the pattern so that the tiny cable twists from the motifs grow from the ribbing at the hem and cuffs. The cable patterns are all fully charted, and once again I strongly recommend cabling without a cable needle to speed things along, which I’ve talked about recently as well.

May5-Royale1

I’ve included instructions for 6 sizes, between 30″ and 49″ (garment bust size) and recommend that this be made for slight negative ease or zero ease if at all possible. Schematics are also included, so feel free to modify at any time if you wish – i.e. change the length, change the height of the neckline, etc, if you feel you would achieve a more comfortable fit this way.

This is certainly a skilled knit, but one that is not too far out of reach of any knitter who has a few sweaters and a few cabled pieces under their belt. Once you establish the cables and get started, everything repeats and you start to get into a rhythm. There is waist shaping, and the body and sleeves are each worked in the round, then once you reach the neckline and armholes the front and back are worked flat, back and forth, as is the sleeve cap once you reach that part of the sleeve.

May6-Royale1

As usual, please let me know if you find any errors or concerns. This has indeed been through a test-knitting phase by a friend of mine, but naturally there is always the possibility of something slipping through the cracks. Contact me at crazy.knitting.lady[at]gmail.com and I will do my best to help with any questions.

And now, I am off to put the finishing touches on one last thing that I’ll show you tomorrow. It’s been a busy little while here at Knitting To Stay Sane, and I’m just glad to finally be able to show a few things off.

Happy knitting, as always!

44 Comments

Filed under cables, design, finished object: sweater

New Sock Pattern, and Cabling Without A Cable Needle

Today I’m happy to unveil my latest sock pattern, which is also my entry for the Socks Revived contest. (I’d been delaying a bit hoping to get some super snazzy photos – but it turns out that travelling around and being trapped under piles of grading does not lend itself to super snazzy photo session time, so I hope these will do!) Happily, I present the Revival socks – available here in my Ravelry store and, for a limited time, here as a free download. I am offering the pattern for free until April 30th, and as of May 1st it will be a sale download through Ravelry and Patternfish as per my other patterns. Ta da!

April20-Revival5

When I set out to design something for the contest I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going to look like. I wanted something that would require some concentration and technicality in the execution (because I hate being bored by my knitting), but that would still maintain some simplicity in the final look (because I didn’t want a sock that would look too precious or chaotic to actually, you know, wear). I also am not a huge fan of cutesy or over-stated. And since I’ve been harbouring plenty of twisted-stitch thoughts and art deco-ish inspriation lately, I put that to work on these socks.

April20-Revival6

I like socks that have repeating motifs and which show off the pattern details over the top of the foot and leg where most people will see it. I also like cables and twisted stitches. (Headline: no one surprised). This pattern features a series of (fully charted) cables (all cables and twists are worked over 2 sts) to create an attractive set of linear motifs, which also have the practicality of providing a bit of structural integrity. Cables always snug things up a bit, and I like that in a sock. I’ve included instructions for both Magic Loop (which I used in making them), as well as DPNs (with which I am well familiar). Use whichever method is more comfortable for you.

You’ll also see that, like some of my other sock patterns, I include a decorative heel and toe which extends some of the stitches from the main chart. I like the detail and I think it creates a very sharp look, but don’t be shy about modifying this if it suits you – work a regular old slipped stitch heel flap or short row heel if you like, or keep the toe plain if you prefer.

April20-Revival1

I include sizing instructions based on modifying gauge. This sample was worked on 2.75mm/US 2 needles (over 68 sts), and comfortably fits a foot/ankle size of 8-9 ins around. Increase or decrease the needle size for best fit according to the size you are knitting for. This sample was worked in Madelinetosh tosh sock, and even for my Size 11 feet I still had a small amount of the 395-yds skein leftover.

Finally, there is one thing you’ll want to know that will make this pattern about a kabillion times easier, which is the method of cabling without a cable needle. It’s how I worked the pattern and my notations strongly encourage you to do so.

If you’re looking for tips on how to do this, it turns out that Knitting Daily’s Sandi Wiseheart is sharing a piece of my brain this week, as she chose this week to do a post on just this topic. In her post she shares links for 2 other cabling-without-a-cable-needle tutorials (it turns out there are several ways of approaching this), and also does a pretty decent job of explaining the method that I use.

Back at the knitting retreat I went to in February with some of the Toronto crowd, she mentioned that she’d never quite gotten the hang of doing it. And I was suitably astonished at this, and sat down (as I was happily whizzing away on my Portland pullover, cable-needle-free) and showed her how I do it. I think she has actually done an even better job than me of explaining it (though I’m still going to give it a shot too, no worries), and articulating through photos and written instructions how to make the cable twist first, then work the stitches. (Essentially, I always keep the “live” stitches to the front of the work, and work the twist-switcheroo on the right needle for right-leaning cables, and on the left needle for the left-leaning cables). Go check out the photos and have some needles and yarn ready to practice it yourself if it’s something you haven’t tried before.

April20-Revival8

If you aren’t a cables-without-a-cable-needle person, you can still knit these socks. But I think being able to become fluent with the technique makes cable knitting accessible in more ways and situations (no worry about losing the cable needle on the subway, say), and can move you along more quickly than otherwise.

Anyhoodle, I hope you’ll enjoy the pattern! Happy Friday, and keep the knitting close by.

28 Comments

Filed under cables, design, fearless knitting, finished object: socks, free pattern

The Knitter Right Now

Do you ever reach moments in your knitting when you realize your game has shifted along the way? When you have managed to cross a threshold and can look back and realize that you are a different knitter than you were before?

I have discovered, for example, that I have somehow managed to become the sort of knitter who knits cabled aran pullovers on the morning bus commute because “it just has to get done.” If I were another knitter, perhaps the Me-knitter of Some Time in My Past, I might be spending nights agonizing over these cables and devoting truckloads of mental space to them.

Mar13-PortlandProgress

But the Me-knitter of Right Now has about a zillion and one things to knit on, and was supposed to have finished this (beautiful, delicious) Portland pullover by now, because the me-knitter of Right Now is in a bargain to have another sweater done by mid-April for Elspeth (so she can knit me the same sweater and we can be twee and matchy like that when I go down to visit). And in theory this should still be fine given that the matchy-twee Elspeth sweater is far more simple and requires no cabling whatsoever, and that Elspeth will probably not care if I am frenetically knitting away on the last sleeve while I am in her presence and/or seconds before I depart her company.

But it does explain why the Me-knitter of Right Now has decided not to care that I messed up establishing the central cable panel on the first sleeve, and that instead of 2-3 inches of neat ribbing I have actually jumped right in and established the cable motif right from the cast-on edge.

Mar13-PortlandSleeve

It is still pretty. It is an attractive modified design feature. The Me-knitter of Right Now is moving on.

And trying to knit like the wind. We’ll see how it all goes.

27 Comments

Filed under a fine fleece, cables

Progress

As it happens, I will not be a Knitting Olympian this year, but I am okay with that. Having finished off a pair of on-the-go socks, I have spent the last few days in that unusual state of knitting monogamy and it’s pretty great how much you can get done even with a couple of hours a day, when only one project is taking up your attention – and even when that project is all-cables-all-the-time.

Feb15-Portland

I’m now two-thirds of the way through the back of ‘Portland’, and the first sleeve has joined the party too – for portable knitting, you know – and I am going to keep up knitting on it while the project enjoyment is still there. I have a couple of things waiting in the wings to cast on for soon, but it is good to get over the lion’s share of a project like this before adding something else to the mix, so Portland and me it shall be.

It is a break week for me this week, which means I mercifully do not have to give any song and dance shows lectures for several days, but this big stack of grading next to me does mean it is simply a work-from-home week. With the extra bit of time I’m hopeful at re-booting my spinning energies, as my poor poor wheel has been all but neglected since late 2009.

Progress, people, progress. I’m gonna get there.

If you are a Knitting Olympian, I wish you godspeed and good finishing, may your knitting injuries be few and your yardage be plentiful.

11 Comments

Filed under cables

Next up

Here we are, folks, a straight-up no-fooling-around Work In Progress post.

I’ve been having a bit of the knitting ennui this week, which I think comes from having 2 projects around the 75% done mark and needing something new to hold the interest. And I’ve been poring over my copy of A Fine Fleece and wanting to knit all of it (stay tuned for further plans here), and finally decided to heck with THIS I am casting something ON ALREADY.

So I did. ‘Portland’ is now in its beginning stages. It’s one of the sweaters that caught my eye first, and I had thought somehow that I would have knitted it already – several times last summer I was convinced that it would be next on deck.

Portland1

But there is something about winter that flicks a cabled switch in one’s brain, and this feels good to have a project going that really involves sinking your teeth into it. I’m working this on some wooly-wool, the lanolin-sheepy-feeling sort of wool, worsted wool from Lismore Sheep Farm that I picked up in Nova Scotia a year and a half ago at Have A Yarn.

Portland2

I am enjoying the heathery purple and how it is knitting up. So far the texture is great and even on the smallest size in the book, it’s going to leave me with a warm few inches of positive ease for a bit of roominess. I’ve decided I’m OK if this sweater turns out to be a little roomy. I’ll save the fitted for next time.

The only bummer about knitting this during my morning commute is that now the project back is sitting a few feet away from me, taunting me. I will try to remain strong until quitting time.

Happy Friday, dear knitters! May your knitting be awesome.

16 Comments

Filed under a fine fleece, cables, sweaters