In Search of Perfection (KnitPro Karbonz Interchangeable Needles)

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Its already been established that I am the world’ pickiest knitter. I am just never satisfied with my knitting needles. having tried a fair few (Addi Clicks, KnitPro Symphonies, Chiaogoo Reds) – there is always something that irritates me – the join, the length, the strength, etc.  The latter needles were aiming to be the best ever  - sharp, smooth joins, nice grip, but I began to realise that I always felt like I was fighting them.  The cable (which  is designed to never kink), combined with the 5″ tips, always felt like they were pulling in opposite directions and I had to wrestle them back together. Just so much work, especially when I was using shorter cables or working at a finer gauge.

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It took me awhile to figure out the problem and then a bit longer to decide what to do about it. I really love those Chiaogoo reds, but they so often made me want to impale something – especially when I was knitting the Puerperium, so a quick sale was negotiated with a friend and a replacement was found in the form of KnitPro Karbonz.

These are carbon fibre needles with a steel tip. They have the same basic set up as the Symphonie- size and needle shape are about the same and the cables are very similar – maybe a bit stiffer, but its really hard to tell.  They are truly lovely needles. They seem unsnappable (though, I haven’t tried that hard), the joins seem smooth and I was able to magic loop with them – something I simply couldn’t have done with the Chiaogoos.  All in, I am just so pleased with them – a real joy to work with, even as my adult-sized superchunky weight cardigan gets heavier.

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The jumper I am working on is Aidez, worked seamlessly.  My pattern notes go into the details of what I have done to make it seamless in the 44″ size. Also, every single one of my latest knitting projects is a shade of blue. Obviously, this must be my new favourite colour!

 


Finding a Rhythm

20140328-IMG_1877 When I first started working with (almost) full-time childcare, I felt a certain sense of obligation to work 9-5, sat at my desk, getting shit done. I felt like it was irresponsible to do anything else because I paid for childcare and  that is what I would have done if I was employed by an employer. Slowly, I realised 2 things a) I don’t work in an office with a boss breathing down my neck and b) I am not particularly suited  to that kind of structure. My work and my life call for a more fluid approach to time. Sometimes, through the night work is called for, at others, a day off nursing little sickies is my occupation. Once I realised that it wasn’t about the time I worked, but what I got done that was important, a new, more natural rhythm arrived. 20140328-IMG_1889 With 3 small people around, there is no question that things change quickly, but on the whole I follow the same sort of pattern each day. Always having been an early riser, its not uncommon for me to be at my desk from 4 or 5am – it gets earlier as the days get lighter. I spend the few precious hours (if I am lucky) before the kids wake up answering emails and doing any writing I need. From about 7am until Ellis catches the bus at 8:30 – its a mad race of endless rounds of toast, finding socks, wrangling the smallest one into any clothes at all, walking the dog, letting the chickens out and general craziness. Once the house is quiet – either the little ones at nursery or in the care of Dalia, the German student who has been living with us since September, I head over to the studio for a morning of work. This is my most productive time of day and I use it for working on my top priorities – grading patterns, writing blog posts, editing and working on Blogtacular. Our rural internet is on the slow side, but its best in the morning, so I try to keep this for computer time. I work until lunch, when I head back over to the house for a bit to do laundry, eat and take the dog for a walk down the road. 20140328-IMG_1883 I tend to keep the time after lunch for creative work.  Even now, in my deadline free days, I ensure that I always have something to make. At the moment, I have prioritised knitting things from other designer’s patterns – both to give myself a much needed rest and to learn from others. Not having made many garments before writing Crochet at Play and then having to design them was a challenge. So far, its been a good learning experience, as well as an eye opening one (if I ever write “Work to correspond to left front, reversing all shaping and placement of pattern stitches” in a pattern, you have permission to kick me). It all has the added bonus of watching some good telly while I am legitimately working. Late afternoons and evenings are for the kids and after the walks and dinner and homework, I tend to edit and upload photos, so they can go into client dropboxes over night. 20140328-IMG_1879

And while this is the rough schedule, I also am trying to be gentle with myself after the stress of the last few months. If words aren’t flowing (and there isn’t something I HAVE to do that day), I don’t push it. I know that things will get done and I will be working over time again soon (with the final manuscript proof for book 2 arriving to coincide with the Easter Holidays and exactly 1 month before Blogtacular, for example).

(photo is of the puerperium cardigan. Made in Bowland Dk in Damselfly by Eden Cottage Yarns.  Photographed on the piece of rotten roof that was leaking water into the kitchen and causing everyone to get a shock when they turned on the light. It is pretty though, hey?)


Bonus Week: Cables Taster

Now you have the hang of knitting and purling there are so many exciting places that can take you! Yesterday Libby introduced you to colourwork and today Joanne will introduce you to the joy of cables.

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What are cables ?

Cables are created by moving the order of stitches as they occur in a row for decorative effect. They are normally formed by working patterns of stocking stitch (Knit on RS, Purl on WS) on a background of reverse stocking stitch (Purl on RS, Knit on WS) or moss stitch (k1,p1). Cables are normally worked on the right side of the knitting only.

To move the stitches we use a cable needle. It can be a fancy curved one like this or just a normal double pointed needle.

Insert the cable needle into the stitch as if you were going to purl then slip it over to the cable needle without working the stitch. Do this for as many stitches as neccesary. In this example we will slip three over to the cable needle.

inserting cable needle

Hold the cable needle at the back

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or front of the work depending on the instruction. In this example we are holding it at the front to make a left cross.

cable needle front

Work the correct number of stitches from the left hand knitting needle.

knitting over cable needle

Then work the stitches from the cable needle

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Continue knitting from the pattern

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How are cables written in a pattern?
Always check the description in the pattern section “special stitches” because variations in terminology do happen. The standard abbreviations work like this:
C6F
C denotes cable. The number denotes the total number of stitches in the procedure. The final letter tells you where to hold the stitches on the needle F is Front of work, B is back of work.
So in these examples:
C6F, slip 3 stitches to the cable needle and hold it at the front of the work, knit the next 3 stitches then knit the stitches on the cable needle.
There is also a more descriptive convention for naming that is becoming more common (as the most popular charting software supports it)
3/3LC
The numbers denote how many stitches are to be worked split by how many are travelling over how many. L or R designates the direction that the stitch is travelling in (for left hold at front, for right hold at back (I use the mnemonic RIGHT=REAR))

So those who have been paying attention will realise that 3/3LC means the same as C6F we used in our last example. And also that this is the very stitch used in the photo tutorial. Clever you for keeping up!

How do I cast on and off for cables?
There are no special requirements for cables so you can use your favourite method or the method specified in the pattern. I like a knitted or cabled cast on because they give a smooth attractive cast on with minimal curling on rib.

Top tips for getting cables right

  • Cables distort the surface of the knitting. They contract the fabric meaning that the cabled section will not be as wide as a stocking stitch section. They are also not as elastic as stocking stitch.
  • Anytime you move from a knit stitch to a purl stitch there is a possibility of a ladder because of the way the yarn is moved to make the purl stitch, this is exaggerated when working a cable so be sure to pull the yarn tightly when moving between the two.
  • Cables look much more even and ‘pop’ after blocking. Blocking uses water or steam to smooth, stretch and shape the finished piece.
  • It can be helpful to place a marker at the start of each pattern repeat to help you keep track of where you are and to assist counting and correcting an error.
  • Lifelines are particularly useful for cables, lace and any stitch patterns where the stitches are increased, decreased, slipped or rearranged as these are very hard to rip back to accurately. We will cover lifelines on Thursday.