Technical Tuesday: Steam Blocking

As promised here is my post about steam blocking! While wet blocking is a wonderful thing and has it’s place in knitting, so does steam blocking. The first and most important thing is to understand how to steam block!

This is by far the best video I have found! I really loved the part where she showed us how to make a latte with her steamer. I should note that an iron will work as well; there is no need to run out and buy a steamer. As awesome as they are…

I use steam blocking specifically for lopi sweaters and anything with texture. If you have a garment with a lot of texture, such as a shell pattern or a wide rib, the wet blocking with make it lay completely flat. This could have the adverse effect of making you garment bigger than you want and taking the oomph out of your stitch pattern.

In this case, I take my iron, put it on steam and iron out anything that needs to be adjusted. Make sure you place something between your knitting and your iron, after you have worked so hard on a garment you don’t want to lose it to an ironing incident. Also be aware of your fiber content! There are usually different types of heat levels for different fibers.

Another way to utilize steam blocking is when you are about to seam something together. The following video explains it fairly well.

In the video, she says she continually steams her lace to see how it looks. I personally am a subscriber to the other school of thought. I like it to be a surprise; when you are knitting lace, it always looks like a snarled mess until you block it. I like to be surprised!

With lopi sweaters I learned the importance of steam blocking along the seams. I made a sweater for a friend and the arm and shoulder seams were a bit tight. I brought it to my ironing board and just applied tension and steam, worked like a charm. The sweater fit perfectly after that!

Paul and the Sweater

I am not going to lie, usually wool in this form smells heavily of lanolin after it has met with steam or water. I personally dislike the wet-sheep smell so I like to wet block these sweaters with wool wash. But, wool in this form really responds well to steam blocking, as with the last video you hover your iron over the garment and the stitches lay flat!

Monday Mishaps: Quite Shifty

As you can tell from my Friday review, I love TFA patterns; clear, concise and professional. All the clarity in the world will not help you if you are really not paying attention. Since I’ve started the Ombre Cardigan, I’ve been knitting it quite a lot; in the car, playing cards etc. It is an easy enough pattern to remember and doesn’t require a great deal of focus. Focus, as you might guess, is something I have been in extremely short supply.

Several times I took this cardigan out to knit somewhere and forgot to bring my measuring tape. I knew I was supposed to be knitting to 7.5” so I kind of eyeballed it. When I actually measured it, the cardigan was much closer to 8”. I thought to myself that this is not a horrible thing and changed colours to keep knitting.

Ombre Half Back

Now, this is a lace cardigan worked with two strands held together. Aside from the obvious, it means when you are counting your stitches to see where you stand… there are a lot. I spent so long actually counting stitches that it was kind of ridiculous. I am really glad there was a breakdown of the five different sections of the sweater and how many stitches were supposed to be in each one.

When I finally counted the amount of stitches in each section, rather than just the total, I realized every one of these numbers were different from one another. The back was supposed to have 90 the sleeves 72 and the two fronts should have had 47. These are approximate numbers and not the ones from the actual pattern. I ended up with the back being 4 stitches shy, one sleeve was done, the other sleeve was two short, and the thank heaven but the fronts matched!

Ombre Arm Hole 2

I had to fudge some numbers, carefully. I wrote down the numbers for each section and when I completed another row of that section I wrote down the amount of increase stitches in that row. It managed to work out… I think. At least I haven’t gotten to a point where I realized I colossally screwed up.

Well…. Except after I put the arm stitches on waste yarn. The pattern said to CO 4 stitches and place a marker, then CO 4 stitches and continue. Instead of reading that as cast on, I read it as cast off, then cast on. I kind of thought it was an odd thing to do, but I followed the pattern and continued on my way. I think it was the third row when I noticed the holes. This was not right at all. I could tell that I had bungled something horribly.

Ombre Arm Hole 3

I went back to the pattern and CO stands for cast ON not cast off. Cast off is shown as BO, bind off. I had yet another facepalm moment and tried to drop stitches and fix the problem. This wasn’t destined to work though; there just wasn’t enough yarn in that space to CO four extra stitches. I had to rip it back to the arm holes.

I made use of the technique for ripping out I covered a few weeks ago and that made a huge difference. It got me within range to un-knit the last row. It really sucked to take out that much lace, but I feel better for it. The underarms look so much neater now, no holes or stretched stitches. I am glad I didn’t just blow it off and try to sew it together at the end.

Ombre Arm Hole 1

This is just the top quarter of the sweater! I haven’t even started the sleeves or the bottom part yet. Let’s hope I am a little more attentive to the pattern and will be able to complete this project with little to no more huge catastrophes. My relationship with lace is precarious enough that we might need to go on a break after this. You know… get some space and perspective. There are so many yarns in the sea.

Monday Mishaps: Ombre Obstacle

I managed to start a new project this weekend! Naturally it would be featured first in the Monday Mishaps section of the blog! As with any new pattern, you should always read them over before you start. Look for things that say “while you’re knitting this, do this at the same time”; this is always my foil. I constantly miss those paragraphs and manage to knit relatively far into the garment before I realize I should have been adding stitches, changing something, or just paying attention to something in specific.

With the Ombre cardigan you start at the top and work your way down. I completely thought it would be worked from the bottom up, so I was already reeling from that recent discovery. I was really still trying to work my head around this cardigan being knitted from the top down, so I wasn’t paying as close attention as I could have been.

You start with the collar that turns down into a button band. It is worked in seed stitch for 12 rows. I was relieved because I would have at least that long to work in a mindless stitch before doing anything too intense. For the whole 12 rows I seed stitched and thought this was going relatively well.

Ombre Start MM 1

I went back to the pattern and then realized I should have been increasing the whole time I was doing those twelve rows. I sighed and ripped it all out.

For some reason I was knitting really slowly and it actually took an hour for me to knit that inch, to inch and a half. Granted that it is lace, but it is being held double!

I mentally grumbled the whole time I was ripping that out. I was close enough to the beginning that it wasn’t even worth it to try to rip back to a particular point. I might as well just start over again. Ripped everything out and cast on once more. Awesome.

Ombre Skeins

I actually remembered the increases this time around, but I had a different problem. Not too long ago, I wrote a post about ripping things out and I said to ALWAYS make sure your loose yarn in balled or taken care of in SOME WAY. Where I was knitting there were no pets, but there were yarn gremlins! You know… those nasty little creatures that come out when you’re not looking and tangle the yarn.  That’s right, my yarn got tangled! Not too bad, but just enough to make it slow knitting. Just enough to be annoying.

The Ombre Cardigan is off to an auspicious start, let’s hope this is not an omen of things to come in the future. I could use and easy and successful project.

Functional Friday: Vogue Knitting Stitchionary #6

I am not sure why, but on the Vogue Knitting site there were not volume 4 and 5 of this stitchionary collection. Perhaps I will have to go looking for them later, I know volume 4 is all about crochet. I could really really use that one, my crochet skills are not what they should be. Volume 5 is all about lace; as we know, lace and I don’t get along, but maybe volume 5 would help me along and I will be able to knit lace with less difficulty.

VKS 4

Volume 6 is al about edgings! I think my shelves are going to be filled with books containing fancy edges; between VK Stitionary and Nicky Epstein they’re taking over the whole shelf!

This book is split into seven chapters: Ribs, Texture, Cables, Lace, Colour, Unusual and Crochet. The chapters are also arranged in order of difficulty, the easiest at the beginning and challenging ones nearer to the back. All this information is given to you in the ‘how to use this book’ section. One thing I really REALLY liked was the fact that in this section the authors told you what yarns they used for what chapters and the needle sizes.

VKS5

In each chapter the yarn is all corresponding, I love the effect this has on the book aesthetically. If you are flipping through the book rather quickly it is easy to see when you have progressed from one chapter into the other. The yarn is different and although it is a coordinating colour it is not the same. The book is, essentially, colour coded.

One thing the Nicky Epstein books had that the VK Stitionary’s did not was the patterns for the photos displaying the edgings used on an actual garment. However, these are Vogue Knitting books so all the garments are probably taken from the magazine, you just have to go through and find them.

Even though this is a review of the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary, I would like to add this little story on the end of it. I subscribe to Vogue Knitting Magazine and I was sure my subscription was coming up, but I wasn’t sure when. I checked the magazine rack at a local book store and the newest VK Magazine was out and I had not received it. I went online and clicked through to renew my subscription; right after I did that, I wondered if I would be getting the issue I missed or if it would start on the next one.

VKS 6

Instead of guessing I called the VK Magazine subscriber services and got some of the best  customer service I have ever received! The customer service representative told me I should have received the latest issue with my current subscription and she wasn’t sure why I hadn’t. I didn’t even have to ask for another one, she just said she would have one sent out immediately. Then she realized I was on an automatically renewing subscription and they should have notified me that I was going to be renewed soon. For some reason no one had tried to renew my subscription. I hadn’t even known there was a problem, but we worked everything out and I was EXTREMELY glad I had called!

I’ve worked in retail and currently work in an office where there is a call centre, I know good customer service when I see it. I’ve always been happy with Vogue Knitting, but this was really very exceptional. Thank you Vogue Knitting!

Completion and Currency

Alright, I’ll admit that this wasn’t the best post title. I couldn’t think of anything else and I am a sucker for alliteration.

For completion I give you, Paul’s socks!! I know, finally done! I’ll have to wait and see if Paul actually wears them. Thou who does not wear the socks does not get more socks!

Dad Socks 2

Now that I am done all the socks I am really not sure what to make next! I was thinking either the ombre cardigan or the fiddle head mittens. Actually, thinking about it now, I will do the mittens next. The ombre cardigan is knitted with two strands of lace and I am just not sure if I am ready for that. Plus I would like to get these bad boys knitted up and given out before the end of time.

The currency part is a little more interesting. As you know, I’ve been dyeing my own yarn and selling it on Etsy and this website. I am officially a vender of the Kitchener Waterloo Knitters Fair!

Vendor Badge

It is going to be September 13th, which is the weekend before my birthday! I am really looking forward to it and really REALLY looking getting everything ready for it! Hopefully the traffic on Etsy will pick up a little more and that will give me an idea of what I should dye for the show!
I really love experimenting, as you might already know. I actually have pictures of my latest creations!