Tuesday, 13 March 2012


 Just a short informative post this time!
Another Cloopco design - "Terra" neck-warmer - has been added to the Ravelry patterns data base.
“Terra” is a cabled, seamless, buttony neck-warmer that can be worn either buttoned or completely or partially unbuttoned.
Rich in texture, it is also a very simple knit. The constant intertwining of cables that cover the majority of the neck-warmer represents a great cure against boredom during knitting. At the same time, the simplicity of the main pattern, repeated four times in each row, makes this a great knit even for knitters with no experience in cable knitting.

The pattern has been thoroughly tested by six amazing Ravelers (thank you!) and is now offered as a free Ravelry download.
You can see one of the test knits lilibethsgarden's blog. It's beautful!
The download link and more information about the pattern can be found  HERE.

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Eastern Uncrossed knitting: yarn tension and styles

Let's move on with Eastern Uncrossed knitting.
I decided to dedicate one whole post to yarn tension in Eastern knitting but, before I say anything about the ways of tensioning yarn, I would like to say a few words about knitting styles and try to make a distinction between two terms that are often confused: knitting styles and knitting methods.

1) Eastern Uncrossed knitting (introduced in my first post), like Western Uncrossed and Combination or Combined knitting  (sometimes also called "Russian knitting") is a stand alone knitting method and, by all means-  it is a METHOD.
By "method" we mean  a set of rules that need to be respected since in each of the above mentioned methods, fabric is created in a specific manner.
It is very important to stress, though, that all knitting methods create the same type of fabric. Still, depending on the method we use, we approach knitting differently. In their book "Knitting in the Old Way" (great book!), Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson actually refer to methods as "the approaches to knitting" and I quite like that term.
There are three main factors that determine a knitting method:  
  • stitch mount (or the orientation of the stitch),
  • the way we approach the stitch with our working needle and  
  • the direction in which the yarn is wrapped around the needle,
all three connected and mutually dependant. (We mount the stitches in a specific way , we knit them respecting their orientation and, finally, we wrap the yarn in a specific direction to achieve the original stitch mount again. It's a circle!).

 The difference between knitting methods is the most important difference in knitting as patterns written for one method often need to be adjusted for another one. Otherwise, they won't "work".
 In addition (and although switching between methods is very easy and can be done any time during knitting) it is not possible to switch to working in another method without re-setting or re-mounting the stitches (i.e. you cannot take a piece started by a Western  knitter and simply continue knitting the Eastern way- you would end up making twisted stitches).

Everything else- the way you hold or tension your working yarn, the hand in which you hold it etc. - is a matter of style and entirely optional.

2) Besides the names underlined in the first paragraph, we often see terms like: Continental, English, Portuguese/Bosnian etc. These are just STYLES and can be applied to absolutely any knitting method.
Knitting styles are determined by various factors like the distribution of knitting tools/materials in our hands, the technique of tensioning yarn or  motions we use to create stitches. As you can imagine, there are many variations: you can hold the yarn in your left hand or in your right hand. You can hold the yarn in your left hand and wrap it around the needle with that same hand or you can pick it up with your right-hand needle. And so on. 
But, one thing is sure - the way that the yarn is tensioned is the crucial element of each knitting style.

It is important to say that
  •  knitting styles do not affect the appearance or the structure of the fabric,
  •  knitting styles do not interfere with knitting methods
  •  all method/style combinations are possible
 In my first post about Eastern knitting you can find a great example of different styles inside the same knitting method-  purl stitch is particularly interesting. 
Before making purling, we can hold the yarn either in the back or in the front of the work. At first glance, this (apparently) huge difference may give the impression of two completely different knitting methods.
But, regardless of whether we bring the yarn to the front at the very beginning or immediately before purling,  in styles, it will eventually be brought in front of the working needle (maybe not in front of work but in front of the needle definitely).
 Briefly, we can do it this way or the other but, as long as the stitch mount, the side of the stitch into which we knit and the direction of yarn are not disturbed- we are talking about one knitting method.

  So, as you can see, although a style is the most 'visible' element of knitting, the differences between styles are minor and neglectable in terms of achieving the desired result.

And, now, having said all this, I still have to conclude that this classification often causes a lot of confusion. Which is not all that strange, after all, knitting is not quantum physics! We invent different terms for better understanding but we also get all tangled up in them on regular basis. That is why it is always better to knit than to talk! :)
The main cause of confusion is hiding in the fact that methods and styles are occasionally confused and you will often hear people saying that they "knit Continental ". This isn't generally a huge problem but it can be annoying for knitters who need to adjust patterns for their own method. Continental is a style, not a method, and it doesn't answer their main question- Can I knit this without changing the pattern?
So, when you find a pattern you want to knit- make sure you know what method it is intended for (it is especially important in lace knitting! Cables, for instance, often need no interventions. Or almost none! ).
 If the info says that the pattern is written for Continental or English knitters - ask again! :) All the chances are that it is actually a pattern for Western knitters but- ask again!

All the names (both for methods and styles) that we now commonly use are imported from English speaking, Western countries and, since Western (uncrossed) knitting is the predominant (or "default") method in most West European and New World countries, as frustrating as it can be for knitters who practise other methods, it is expected that some differences will, occasionally, be neglected and that styles and methods will, every now and then, be thrown into the same basket.

So, can we simply call styles in different methods differently too? We could- if we had the names for them. Be we haven't got any!  :)  Don't ask why- I don't know! But, I could think of at least a zillion potential reasons for that. Namely, unlike in the New World  where a single language is spoken across the whole continent, in Europe, there are sometimes more than 10 languages in a region smaller than a single US state. :) Different cultures do not communicate as easily and intensely as a single one and, obviously, finding a universally acceptable name for a style in (an almost marginal) hobby is usually a mission impossible.
 A few names that have popped out in the past and become "accepted" are mainly just adjectives derived from the names of regions in which a certain style is mainly practised. But, even in these cases, the names are generally  recognised only by knitters who live outside that region or country :).
Portuguese people will probably simply tell you that they - knit. It is us from other countries who say that that their style Portuguese.

So, for now, we're 'stuck' with the globally accepted, English names and terms.
Is it OK, then, to say that you're an Eastern uncrossed Continental style knitter? 
If it describes your knitting style and helps you explain it to another knitter better then it is, by all means OK! :)

Now, having demystified this, let's move onto the practical part!

Bosnian or Balkan (aka Portuguese) style knitting

This style is commonly called Portuguese knitting by Western knitters but it also exists on the Balkan peninsula and is, under the name Bosnian knitting, even sometimes mentioned in western literature. 
Since it is the only style with a proper name among Eastern knitters that I can think of (and usually associated with Eastern method knitters), I will call it Bosnian.
There are no real differences between the two styles except, maybe, one- Bosnian style knitters do not use pins or holders that you can often see in Portuguese knitting.

The specific thing about this knitting style is that the yarn is tensioned around the neck  (which is a great source of inspiration for dark humour jokes among husbands and mother-in-laws of women who practise this style :D ).
Luckily, Donna Druchunas, who's article about Bosnian knitting style was published this autumn in Knitty magazine (the link will take you to the article), has saved me from having to undertake the dangerous mission of wrapping my self in yarn and posing for photos to show you what this style actually looks like (and my friend Sunny from having to witness all that- she is a volunteering photographer, after all, not a National Geographic corespondent.) 

So, as you can see in the picture, the  yarn is simply hanged over the neck and controlled with fingers in front of the work.

This is what it looks like from knitter's perspective!

This photo looks scary- I like it!

The yarn is controlled with fingers
Now, if you try this  you will soon see that making a knit stitch (when the yarn needs to be in the back) is a very hard task. But, there's a cure! In different parts of the Balkan peninsula where this style is widely accepted,  knitters have come up with a solution to this problem - traditionally, they would always purl! Garter stitch? No! Real stocking stitch or stockinette with knits on the RS and purls on the WS of the work. 
Sounds crazy? The system is actually quite simple- whenever possible, knitting is done in circle and the knitter is always facing the inner side of the tube (or the WS side). Sleeves, hats, mittens, sweaters, socks...all tubes! Easy! Well, most of the time, anyway. I don't know if it has anything to do with how the purl stitch is made in Eastern uncrossed but, personally, I prefer purling over knitting as well and often make sleeves that way too. I also purl all garter rows.
But, what remains a mystery is- how an intarsia pattern can be knit from the wrong side of the work?! 
It has to be possible, of course- complicated stranded colourwork  is actually the most recognisable type of project in the region where this style has been practiced for centuries (socks from the article are a great example).
But,  it is quite amazing! Nordic knitters have invented  steeks to avoid purling with multiple colours. At the same time, deep in the south of the same continent, colourful socks are purled from the beginning to the end.

Yarn tensioned over the index finger (aka Continental style)

I believe that this style doesn't really require much explanations - it is probably the most common style among knitters of all methods.

Continental Eastern Uncrossed knitting

In Continental style, the yarn is tensioned over the index finger and usually simply "scooped" with the right-hand (working) needle which allows the left hand to rest on the other needle most of the time.

On the RS, the system is pretty much the same as in Western knitting only the needle is inserted into the stitch from a different angle and the yarn is wrapped in the opposite direction.

Eastern Uncrossed Continental knit stitch- yarn wrapped clockwise

You can see this style in motion HERE

When it comes to purling, there are two main sub-styles.
The first version is, again, almost the same as in Western Continental.
The yarn is brought to the front and is then picked up with the working needle and pulled through the old stitch.

Eastern Uncrossed Continental purl stitch 1

 You can see this style in motion (both knits and purls) in THIS video. (Disregard the title- it says Combination but what is shown in it is really 100% Eastern Uncrossed knitting).

The second way of making a purl stitch in this style often looks quite odd to knitters who are used to the standard Continental purling but is, actually, the very same thing only achieved in a slightly different manner.

In this version, the yarn is always held  in the back of the work.

Before purling, the yarn is in a "sandwich" between the needles; behind the left-hand needle and in front of the working needle.
The needle is inserted into the stitch from the back (and under the yarn).

With a tiny motion of the right hand, the stitch is 'opened' (the 3rd photo above) and the yarn is brought in front of the needle, scooped and pulled through the old stitch (shown bellow).

Again, this stitch is exactly the same as all other Eastern uncrossed purl stitches- the yarn may be in the back but, right before purling, it is brought in front of the needle and wrapped around it in the proper direction. The stitch mount also remains intact.
Here's a VIDEO.

Yarn wrapped around the index finger

I think that the majority of knitters who use this style on regular basis were originally crocheters as this is the most common way of tensioning yarn in crochet.
The yarn tensioned this way is somewhat inflexible and requires constant adjustment and finger movement.

Just like in the previous (Continental) style, the working yarn is usually simply scooped with the right hand needle and pulled through the old stitch.
The system is not much different on the WS either and both versions of the purl stitch mentioned under Continental style an be applied to this style as well.

Left-carry Throwers, "Yarn in a basket",  Tension Without Tension, The Old School Style...

 I'm sure that all of you have seen at least one picture like this one so far. Of course, knitters don't usually sit on a tree branch :) (I only picked this graphic because I really liked it :D ) but the ball is almost always on the ground and, many times, in a basket. The purpose of a basket is quite obvious; it prevents the ball from rolling away and catching dirt. But, why is the ball on the ground?
In many books about the history of  knitting I have read that, traditionally, one of the most important factors in knitting is- gravity! A ball placed on the ground can "feel" the knitter's need for more yarn. In addition, its position allows the gravity to take active part in knitting and to unwind the ball when necessary, releasing some extra yarn for the knitter. 
In my opinion, this style just might have a lot to do with the story about the knitter called Gravity.

But, in order for this principle to work, there should be no blockages between the ball and the knitter's hands- the yarn should be allowed to move freely.  In reality, this is done by holding yarn between index and middle finger of our left hand.
Since, in this style, the yarn is too loose to be picked up with working needle, when making a new stitch, we need to wrap it around the needle using the tips of the thumb and the adjacent finger (index or middle finger) which makes this style a rare example of knitting in which both hands are equally engaged.

Wrapping  yarn around the needle on RS

Wrapping yarn around the needle on WS

I have mentioned quite a few names in the title of this section but but I have to say that they are all provisional. The truth is- western terminology still hasn't come up with a good name for this style which makes me very proud as this is my style. (I like being a UKO -Unidentified Knitting Object).
Using "English throwing" as an analogy, we could say that knitters who practice this style are simply Left-carry Throwers.
Videos of this style in motion can be seen in my first post about Eastern Uncrossed knitting.

Right-carry throwers (aka English style) 

Given that English style is quite popular among Western knitters, I thought it deserved to be mentioned here but I have to say that I don't recall ever seeing an Eastern Uncrossed English style knitter. It appears that knitting with yarn in the right hand, just like knitting backwards, is mainly reserved for left-handed knitters.
That, of course, is not to say that Eastern Uncrossed knitting denies this style as it neither encourages or discourages knitters to hold their yarn in a specific manner but, generally speaking, English style or right-carry throwing is definitely not as popular in the East as it is in the West.

That's it!
In my next post about Eastern Uncrossed knitting I'll be talking about yarn overs and twisted stitches. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Moments of lace (Moments in red)

Another of Shui Kuen Kozinski amazing designs - the Moonlight Sonata shawl with picot edging. Breathtakingly beautiful as always.
Made in less than 3 days.

Pattern: Moonlight Sonata 2  by SK Kozinski (another variation of the pattern - Moonlight Sonata shawl) - both patterns are available for free, i don't know what you're waiting for :)

Materials used:

Yarn: 3 skeins of Unitas Hana, 100% ecco cotton, 4ply (fingering)
Colourway: red lipstick
Metereage/yardage: 373m (408 yards)
Needles: 4mm (US 6)
Size: shawlette (finished measurements: 161cm x 65cm / 63.4" x 25.6" relaxed after blocking)
Blocking: iron blocked

It was a very windy day
Yes, the sea is a bit tilted, I don't know what happened to it, it used to be normal

Friday, 20 January 2012

Eastern uncrossed knitting: knits and purls

I am an Eastern style knitter.
To be even more precise, my knitting style is called the Eastern uncrossed knitting method. In knitting literature it is usually called simply Eastern knitting and commonly labeled- the oldest knitting method.

Where I live, many knitters practice this style but, knitters from other parts of the world either don't know anything about it or have a very vague idea of what it is.
There aren't many informations about it on the internet and, over the past couple of years, I have been asked to write about it  more than once. I have also promised to do so more than once.
The reason for constant postponing was - what looked like a simple project at first, turned out to be not so simple :) as it included collecting and processing a lot more material than I'd expected.
But, now, having collected most of it, I have no excuse to put it off any more.
I owe one huge "Thank you" to my friend Sunny for her extraterrestrial patience, her help and for being my photographer.

For the sake of simplicity and better organisation, I will  divide the material into a few posts. I still don't know exactly what will go where but, some of the things about Eastern uncrossed knitting that I will surely talk about (sooner or later) are: basics (knit and purl stitches), stitch mount, yarn overs, yarn tension, twisted stitches,  decreases, differences between eastern and western knitting, "translating" patterns, switching between the styles and more.

The first part covers the stitch mount, knit and purl stitches.
Let's begin!

(you can enlarge any picture by clicking on it)


Stitch mount

The stitches have two legs, right?! And one bottom! (well, they do!). For this reason, the stitches can sit on the needles in more than one way. The way they are positioned (or mounted) on our needles is technically one of the most important things in knitting as it determines the knitting style and dictates the whole process of knitting.
So, the orientation of the stitches on the needles is what we call the stitch mount.

Eastern uncrossed stitch mount

In  Eastern uncrossed knitting, the leading leg of the stitch is always behind the needle. Most knitters will simply tell you that the "right leg is in the back" but I find this explanation somewhat confusing (it gets even worse if you're one of those people who can never tell right from left). The leading leg works much better for me.
In the above picture you can see what it looks like in reality.
It is important to say that the stitches are always mounted this way in Eastern uncrossed (which is what makes it uncrossed); they're the same on the right side as well as on the wrong side, in circular knitting (in-the-round) as well as in flat knitting (back-and-forth).
Therefore, the stitches are always knit (and purled) the same way, too.
And this is how!

Knit stitch

With the yarn in the back of the work, we insert the working needle (right-hand needle) into the back of the stitch (as shown above)

The yarn is wrapped around the needle overhand or, as we usually say, clockwise. The former is probably more precise and less confusing.

When the yarn is wrapped around the needle, we simply pull it through the old stitch...

...and, it's a new knit stitch.

Here's a short video showing how it is done!

Depending on how the yarn is held, the process of making a knit stitch may vary.
I keep the yarn between my fingers and literally wrap it around the needle. Knitters who tension their yarn over the index finger, usually pick it up with the working needle (instead of wrapping it around the needle).
I will get back to the yarn tension in one of my future posts but, until then, you might want to see THIS VIDEO as it explains how a knit stitch is made by picking up the yarn tensioned over the finger.

Let's move on!

Purl stitch

Before making a purl stitch, the yarn should be in the front.

We purl into the back of the stitch, meaning that the we bring the tip of the working needle to the back leg of the stitch and insert it into it from behind .

Then we wrap the yarn around the needle underhand or clockwise a shown above.

We pull the yarn through...

...and it's a new purl stitch.

Here's another short video!

Again, knitters who tension their yarn differently, purl differently too! HERE you can see a video showing another very common method. At first sight it looks quite different but, if you give it a closer look, you'll notice that it is actually the very same thing only achieved in a slightly different manner. In this style the yarn stays in the back all the time.

That's it for now!
In the next post I will talk about styles and yarn tension in Eastern Uncrossed knitting.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

My wreaths

First of all, I wish you all a very happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely time this Saturday. I also hope that you are sober by now!

Secondly- it is snowing on my blog! I hope you can see it! (If you can see the tiny little dots falling down from the header, then you're sober. If you always see tiny little dots falling down from the header, than you're never sober because I added this gadget yesterday! If you're reading this three years from now and think that it is still snowing, you have not been sober in years, my friend! Cheers!)

Ok, now, back to work! My first post in 2012.
In addition to my last post, I have two more wreaths to show you.
After seeing so many lovely hand-made yarn wreaths on the internet a fortnight ago, I got completely confused and was pretty sure that I would need at least a year to come up with a unique idea for my own wreath. But, as it turns out- I was wrong; making yarn wreaths is extremely addictive and, by the next evening, I had already made two. And I like them both. Now I need two New Years!

I took some pictures as I "wrapped" along. If you have no better things to do, stay here and look around.
And, please excuse the poor quality of some of the photos- the days are quite short and I did the majority of work later in the afternoon (I hated the idea of getting up at 7AM just to beg the Sun to assist me).

Here's how it went.

Although I originally intended to use styrofoam rings as the base, I eventually replaced them with simple straw wreaths; stryofoam is very fragile and I am awfully clumsy (read: I broke two wreaths at the very beginning).

MATERIALS AND TOOLS USED: 2 straw wreaths ( 20cm / 7in and 17.5cm / 8in in diameter), adhesive tape, leftover yarns (mainly 8ply) in 3 colours (pine green, deep red and white), some plied metallic yarn in golden colour, transparent glue, a crochet hook, scissors.
ADDITIONAL DECORATIONS: tiny cones (picked here and there), a few ornaments from my old wreath (something old), a few ornaments bought especially for my new wreaths (something new).

Since the wreaths I bought did not  come in plastic wrapping as they often do,  I first had to cover them with adhesive tape to get a smooth and even surface (Picture 1).
I decided to use the white yarns for my first, smaller, wreath. I found a tiny ball of a lovely, puffy yarn in snow white but I soon realised that I would not have enough to cover the whole wreath. But, there was just about enough yarn in the ball to give a lovely, snowy, final touch to the wreath. So; first I wrapped the wreath with another white yarn (just a stupid, ugly, 100% acrylic yarn), adding a few drops of glue as I worked along. The first layer created a solid, white base (Picture 2). Then, I sparsely wrapped the wreath with the second white yarn (I hope you can see the difference on the Picture 3).
Finally, the base was finished and it looked very puffy and fluffy. Just what I wanted!

The only thing left to do was to add the decorations.

When I started planning these projects, I promised myself that I would not spend money on shiny, glittery and sparkly ornaments no matter how appealing they are; I wanted my wreaths to be as hand-made as possible. Besides, I wanted to use some of the ornaments from the old wreath. But when I spotted the balls from the picture on the left, I just couldn't resist buying them. The special thing about this type of ornaments is that each ball is attached to a long piece of shiny wire on the back which makes attaching them to a wreath extremely easy. No glue required. I'll show you in a minute.

You simply untwist the wire, pick the ornaments you wan to use, and wrap the wire around the wreath (Picture 5). Then you twist the wire tails on the back to fasten the ornaments (Picture 6). That's it! Beautiful!
I also added a few decorations from the old wreath and and glued two tiny cones to the yarn. The result is shown in the Picture 7.
But I didn't like it. And, so I took some red yarn and turned my wreath into a sugar cane.

 I did pretty much the same thing with the second wreath.   

First the adhesive tape, then some glue and then the yarn. Pine green in this case.Once I finished applying the first layer of yarn, I added a spiral stripe of metallic yarn all around the wreath. Two layers actually!
Then I pimped it with some ornaments and the second wreath was done!


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