Friday, October 04, 2013

More Pooling techniques

more humor. word count?

What is intentional pooling? you may well ask. And I will answer, It is exquisite torture. Then I will actually give you a helpful answer.

Bonnie and Mary, the two owners at Colorful Stitches, both told me that they have gone to great lengths toavoid pooling. Pooling is that unwanted (usually) patterning that occurs when you're knitting with a yarn that has some color variations in it. When the colors start to stack up in odd ways, so that you have big, random blotches of color throughout your project, that's pooling of the unintentional kind.

One of these things is not like the other...
 Some knitters, instead of trying desperately to avoid this kind of stacking of colors, go the opposite route. They try tocontrol the pooling so that it looks attractive. This takes time, patience, a little math, and an insurmountable will to conquer all.

So...Why? Just...Why?

I wish I could tell you that intentional pooling was my genius idea, but actually that's not true. The only reason I know about it is that I spend way too much time on Ravelry.

I don't know how many active Ravelers read this blog, but if you are at all active on the site, you may know that they have a page of featured finished objects that are generally admired by the community. These objects are known as "favorites." If you get tired of admiring other knitters' gorgeous, perfect knits, you can indulge in a little schadenfreude...I mean, sympathy, and go to a different page called "ugh's." As you might expect, the ugh's of Ravelry are all the projects that didn't turn out quite right...

"My right arm gets cold but my left one gets really hot..."
I was looking at ugh's one night, and giggling...I mean, commiserating, and I happened to click on a pair of socks that featured some really horrendous pooling. In turn, this led me to a discussion on the site all about "Pooling - Good and Bad," and that's where I first saw it - a pooling stole by the incomparable Gladys We. I read some of her tutorials about intentional pooling and decided I had to try it. Why? Because it looks beautiful. Because it's a challenge. And because I am out of my ever-loving mind.(One day, I'm going to have an army of squirrels to do my bidding. Why squirrels, you ask? Because they're everywhere...oh, and they'll work for peanuts. HA!)

This is my first pooling project. I chose a colorway  I didn't like all that much because I thought I might screw it up.
First Step

The key to intentional pooling - besides an anal retentive (and potentially borderline) personality - is the right yarn. Yarns that pool need to be dyed across the skein. Like this skein of Into the Whirled Pakkoku Sock -

See how the colors line up? That's what I want.

And then...

I have my yarn, so next I need to determine what Gladys We calls "the magic number." This is the number of stitches I need to cast on to ensure that the colors line up properly. To find the magic number, I engage in a week-long ceremony in a sweat lodge, fasting, until I have a vision. No, actually, I just lay out a single strand of the yarn -

-and mark off the point where I want to start my cast on (that's why there's a paper clip).

Then I do a backwards loop cast on, also known as the "e loop." This is a horrible cast on. If Bonnie ever catches you casting on your projects this way, she will tell you to stop, or she will flinch and turn away. However, it's the only cast on that works well for a pooling project, so it's a necessary (and ugly) evil. I keep casting on stitches until the yarn tail is almost gone, leaving just a piggy tail that I can weave in with a crochet hook later.

Math time

Once I cast on all my stitches, I need to count them, because of course I didn't count them as I went along (what am I, some kind of...knitter who counts things?). My current project has 76 stitches. Next, I pick out a lace motif that works with the number of stitches I have, accounting for a decent number of border stitches.

As it turns out, Miss We's "Pooling Rivulets" pattern works well for me. The lace repeat is 12 stitches plus 4, plus border stitches. 12 multiplied by 5 is 60, plus 4 is 64. I'm working with 6 border stitches on either side (a total of 12), so my lace pattern of 64 stitches + 12 stitches works out to 76. Tada! Magic. Or math. You know, whichever.

Knitting time!

To begin, I knit an even number of rows in garter stitch (knitting every row). Then the real tension starts as I begin knitting the lace pattern. No, I don't mean, "I'm moving in two weeks and I just lost my job and my cat just died," kind of tension (although a little bit of that, too...I live for drama). I mean that I need to adjust my knitting tension every few stitches to ensure that the colors line up, accounting for yarnovers and their corresponding decreases. Some of my stitches are loose and just...hideous, while some of them are so tight that I have trouble muscling them around on the needles.

I tink back (or un-knit) regularly if it looks like my pooling isn't turning out quite right. In fact, I think I tink more than I knit.

Is It Worth It?

Depends on what kind of knitter you are. If you want an easy, mindless project, then no, this technique is not for you (incidentally, I also have another project on the needles right now that is nothing but row after row of stockinette). If you want a challenge with beautiful results that will make non-knitters and knitters alike say, "Wow! How did you do that?" then intentional pooling is a lot of fun.

Take a look at my current undertaking and judge for yourself -

Like a handsome prince in a tower surrounded by thorns and snakes and a mote of acid, this project is worth it to me. Just call me Princess Charming.

For more intentional pooling, check out the Pooled Knits group on Ravelry, or Gladys We's blog.

Pooling tips from the Yarn Floozies

Colour pooling notes
The critical thing here is to figure out how your yarn will pool, and here's a quick way to visualize that possibility.

Here’s the yarn for 3 rows of my stole. If you unwind a couple of loops of your skein, you can zigzag it back and forth on the floor to get an idea of how much yarn one row will use, and how it will pool as you work through the skeins.

Put a safety pin into the "fold," where the yarn will end at one row, and begin the next row, and knit up that row of yarn to figure out how many stitches you'll need with your tension and chosen needles. With my knitting yarn tension and on a US 7, I get around 87-90 stitches for each "line" of Wollmeise. I have to knit very loosely when it's just a knit row, just a little loosely when it's a lace row, and very tightly for my purl rows. (Apparently my purl stitches eat up more yarn than my knit stitches.)

Different handpainted yarns will have different skein lengths, so make sure to wind your yarn out first and do a couple of rows in it to see if you can get it to line up with your stitch count.

And choose a simple lace pattern for your first pooling project. It's hard enough to play with tensioning your yarn as you knit it up — you don't need to be fussing with a tricky lace pattern as well.

Though what I love about this pooling technique is that I'll be able to do lace with highly variegated handpainted yarn — and have the lace work show!

Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 Finished projects

   Things I have finished in 2013.  Hopefully I can add more...
Cable and Rib Cowl
Cable Hat
Festival Cable Hat
Litchfield Shawl
Rustic Piewhachet
Shilling Hat pattern
Brown Eyed Susan pattern
Betangled pattern

Thursday, September 12, 2013

2012 projects

A few favorite finished projects.
Top picture- Madelinetosh Merino
Left picture- Madelinetosh Merino
Right Picture- Manos Serena

Ad for knitting

Learn to Knit, 1910

Zombie body

Stay tuned for a body to attach to this head!

Monday, September 09, 2013

So cute!

Friday, September 06, 2013

No knitter has ever said these words except in jest.

Published on Aug 26, 2013
If you're a knitter, you know a real knitter would never say these things. Filmed on location at Loops Yarn Store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, starring three of our own "Loops Troops." If you like this video, 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Curling scarf rescue mission--part three: transforming stockinette into ribbing

I am finding all these tips that I want to save so I am adding them to my blog but giving credit to where I got them from.

Techknitting is a GREAT place for tips and hints for knitting. Plus, she does have some patterns for sale at

Curling scarf rescue mission--part three: transforming stockinette into ribbing

Here is today's problem: a tightly rolled stockinette dark blue scarf.

The previous post in this series showed how to transform a curling stockinette scarf like this one into a lacy and delicate drop-column fabric which lays flat.  However, this dark blue scarf is intended for a (not very fashion-forward) man--lace would not do in this case. Instead, this curling scarf was cured of its curl and transformed into a robust fabric, neutral enough to suit everyday fashion by all genders--a ribbed scarf.

The basic method begins just like the drop-column fabric of the last post: a ladder is dropped lengthwise down the scarf.  However,  instead of leaving the ladder in the fabric, we are now going to latch the ladder up again as a column of knits against a purl background.  Like the drop-column method, the ribbed scarf which results lays flat.  Unlike the drop-column fabric, the ribbed fabric is sturdy and can be worked in any fiber at all, from acrylic to merino to yak.

Stockinette curls because it is wider on the front (knit) side than on the (purl) back side. It therefore follows that if there were a more even number of knits and purls on BOTH sides of the fabric, the fabric wouldn't curl.   In fact, when you look at non-curling fabrics, you see this is the case: ribbing, garter stitch, welted fabrics, basket weave, seed stitch--it doesn't really matter in what arrangement the knits and purls are: as long as there are knits and purls on both sides of the fabric, the fabric won't curl.

Although many knitters may not realize, it has long been known that a 50-50 distribution of knits and purls is not necessary to break up the curl of a stockinette fabric.  Many years ago, Meg Swanson (that knitting guru) introduced the "purl when you can" method for starting a color pattern right from the edge of a sweater.  The idea is that working even a relatively few purls "when you can" operates to counteract curl.  Applying this insight toward transforming a stockinette scarf into a ribbed one, it turns out that it is not necessary to have a 50-50 split of knits and purls on both sides of the fabric; luckily, because dropping and latching all those columns would be a lot of work.  Experimentation has established that transforming every fourth column is sufficient to defeat the roll. Here is a closeup of the fabric front after the ribbing has been formed.

 Here is a comparison of the fabric front to the fabric back after the ribbing has been formed.

 As stated above, the loose ladders are latched up using a crochet hook.  The work proceeds from the back (purl) side starting with the loose stitch at the column bottom, and the ladder rungs are hooked up as a knit column against a purl background.

 You might find it easiest to hold the fabric folded in your hand, then latch up the loose ladder rungs which stick up at the fold by drawing each rung through the one below it.

As far as spacing of the columns, this is the same as for the drop column scarf--the three edge stitches are never touched to avoid tension issues, then every fourth column is dropped.  If your stitch count does not fit neatly into this system, no worries.  The excess stitches are put between the scarf edges and the first dropped column where they will never show.  If working out the column distribution gives you a headache, click over to this chart. which shows the best possible distribution of dropped columns across all stitch counts from 15 to 50.

Some other points:  The idea for getting live stitches onto your needle, dropping the columns and binding off after reworking the fabric is identical to that for the dropped-column fabric.  There are, however, three important differences in the work.

First, unlike the drop-fabric scarf,  the ribbing transformation of today's post does not require the cast on to be removed.  In other words, to transform stockinette into ribbing, you need only remove the bind-off, getting all the stitches of the scarf top onto a knitting needle or stitch holder, but you need not touch the stitches at the scarf bottom.

Second, it is best to drop only 1 column at a time, then latch it back up before going on to the next column, and this is especially important if your scarf is made in any fiber other than sheep's wool.

Third, the ladders are dropped to within FIVE stitches of the bottom, rather than two as for the drop-fabric scarf.  Then, at the top of each latched up column, the crochet hook is taken to the knit side of the fabric and the last five ladder rungs are latched up as knits against a knit background, rather than against a purl background.  This makes the top and bottom match, and gives a neat little width-wise curl at both ends of the scarf.

One final and very important point remains: blocking.  A stockinette scarf being reworked is an item already quite set in its ways, the more so if it has previously been worn and/or blocked.  As you'll see when you drop the ladders down, the yarn has taken on a strong set, as shown by the evident kink.  While a scarf originally worked in a k3, p1 ribbing would not curl, a scarf re-worked into this ribbing will, until you change its ways by blocking.  Originally, I tried steam-blocking the model scarf of this post, but that was insufficient.  Only wet-blocking with some pretty severe tugging succeeded in changing the yarn set.  The scarf does now lay flat, but it did not until it was blocked.

* * *

Still to come:  Not every curling scarf can have its fabric reworked:  a lace scarf on a stockinette ground, or a color work scarf, for example would be ruined by reworking, and it would be hard to rework a scarf which has a special bind-off.

Two down, one to go

In the last post of this series, we'll flatten a scarf with a special bind-off: that last model scarf hanging all curled up in the middle, between its two now-flat siblings.  'til then, good knitting!


Stockinette trick!

I found this on the web and I wanted to have it to easily access it when I want it.  I got it from this web site
 Here goes!

 Melissa the Scarf! (Stockinette Edge Treatments)

Another knitter/etsy seller has named a series of scarves after me!  How cool is that!  How it happened:  we are both in etsyFAST (Fiber Arts Street Team), a group of sellers who support and challenge one another to make our shops the best they can be.  This seller posted in our yahoogroup about trouble she was having with the edges of stockinette-based scarves rolling.  I posted a number of suggestions to fix the problem (which I will share with you below, with pictures).  The seller is iwunder, and here is the link to the first scarf in the series:
Now, for those tips.  Stockinette by its nature will curl to the back on the sides, and up or down on the top and bottom.  Sometimes with wool you can block it so the effect goes away temporarily, but it’s inherent in the structure of the stitches.  One of the most common ways to make a piece of stockinette lie flat is to border it with a few stitches of a more stable stitch all around the edges.  Garter stitch, and garter-based patterns like seed stitch, are what is usually recommended.  It works great, because just as stockinette’s nature is to curl, garter stitch just naturally lies perfectly flat.  So when you border stockinette with garter stitch, it will lay flat like this:
You can get the same results with seed stitch, which may make an edge more to your liking:
Usually with garter or seed stitch, you use at least three stitches in that pattern at each end, and 4-5 rows at the beginning and end of the scarf/blanket or whatever you’re making.  You can make it wider if you want, but less than three stitches and you may still get curling.
Now, here are a couple of other ways that you can get stockinette to lay without uncontrolled curling.  The first way is to put an intentional ladder three stitches in from the edge.  Knit your stockinette, then before you cast off, drop the fourth stitch from each edge and let it run down the length of the knitting:
Once you’ve done that, the edge should look like this (front and back shown):
If you are using wool, mohair, or a fuzzy yarn so the stitches lock into one another, that’s all you need to do.  The ladder is decorative, and it should stay put.  However, if your yarn is at all slick, this ladder can fill in over time as the yarn shifts and stitches loosen.  So, before you use this edge, you should knit a swatch, wash it like you will the finished object, carry it around in your pocket for a few days and see if it will work with your particular yarn.  For those yarns that reabsorb the ladder, or to make sure your edge effect stays put, you need to do more. One solution that might work is to twist, or knit into the back of, the stitches on either side of the stitch that will be dropped, to stabilize it.  But another solution that I prefer is to do an eyelet edge.  Here is a picture:

In this edge treatment, the curl is confined to the three edge stitches, which are secured by a vertical row of eyelets, so it ain’t going nowhere!!  It’s easy to do:  on even numbered rows, you knit three stitches, do a yarn over then knit two together.  At the end of the row when five stitches remain, you knit two together, yarn over, knit three (reversing the shaping – you can use other decreases if you wish to exactly mirror the sides).  The three edge stitches curl, and then the curl stops.  Your edge gets a nice finish resembling I-cord, and the edge of eyelets are a nice decorative touch. This is a great edge treatment for stockinette-based lace patterns, and  the back looks good too:
Now, what if you really really want the edge of your stockinette item to look as much as possible like stockinette, and still lay flat?  Is there hope?  Well, yes, there is – our next contender, the slip stitch edge.  This is the dark horse – rarely mentioned, and a little more confusing, but the results are pretty nice:
Do you want to know how to do it?  Like the others, it’s worked on the three edge stitches, but this time over four rows:
Row 1: knit one stitch, slip next stitch to right needle without knitting, knit one stitch.  Knit rest of row to last three stitches, repeat k sl k.
Row 2: purl
Row 3: slip one stitch, knit one, slip one.  Knit to last three stitches, repeat
Row 4: purl
Repeat these four rows for your edges.  The slipped stitches get a little twist on the even numbered rows which helps hold the curl in check.  These edge stitches still curl around, but with an interesting effect, in that the edge gets a nice row of stitches.  Here’s how the back and side edges look:
You can do the slip stitch pattern for the first few rows and for several rows before casting off, just remember that the slipped stitches are off-set from one another on rows 1 and 3 (so row 1 is Sl, K, Sl, K, etc., and row 3 is K, Sl, K, Sl…).  This makes a particularly firm edge. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little edge tutorial!   Thanks, iwunder, for the inspiration to swatch it all up and write it all down!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The mysterious yarn bombers have returned the knitted Olympic figures to Saltburn Pier. After enduring heavy rain as they worked by torchlight on the pier in the early hours of the morning the new and improved figures were back once again on the pier.

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Safeco Field Stitch'n'Pitch 2012

 The Mariner's won this year's Stitch 'n' Pitch!
This is moments before the gates opened to the public.  I was busy working the Serial Knitters Yarn shop booth.
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Stitch'n' Pitch 2012

Debbie Macomber and World Vision USA were at the Seattle Stitch 'N' Pitch last night to yarn bomb a statue and to build awareness for World Vision's Knit for Kids. You can help too by knitting caps or scarves to donate at Vogue Knitting LIVE or mail them in before October 1. For more information visit:

Suzanne Tidwell did a great job covering the Mariner's glove.  This was in front of Safeco Field, Seattle.
Stitch 'n' Pitch was wonderful but not as busy or not as many yarn store venders.  But Serial Knitters Yarn shop had a wonderful time and we hope to continue attending the Stitch 'n' Pitch every year.

Photo: Debbie Macomber and World Vision USA were at the Seattle Stitch 'N' Pitch last night to yarn bomb a statue and to build awareness for World Vision's Knit for Kids. You can help too by knitting caps or scarves to donate at Vogue Knitting LIVE or mail them in before October 1. For more information visit: