Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tricks to Eliminate Ripply Ribbing Cast-On Edges

I received a question recently about how to improve ribbing cast-ons.  This knitter was tightening tension as much as possible but still getting a flared, rippled cast-on edge.  This problem is common, and how much trouble you have seems to depend on the yarn and the machine.

Why does this happen?  It's hard to get a tight tension because the yarn has to travel the distance between the ribber and the main bed, needle to needle, for the first zigzag row.  Also, the ribber comb's teeth, which are a fixed distance apart, tend to hold the edge open and make it flare. 

What can you do?  Well, there are several things that greatly improve the ribbing edges.

First of all, you could start your ribbing with waste yarn.  Cast on and knit several rows with the waste yarn, getting an inch or two of edge on your work.  Switch to circular knitting and knit 2 rows with ravel cord, which makes is easy to get the waste yarn off later.  Then set the carriages for your regular circular cast-on with your garment yarn.  The comb and weights are hanging down from the waste yarn before your "real" knitting, and your garment cast-on is being pulled together, nice-and-neat instead of sideways-and-wavy.  The difference from that strategy alone is just wonderful. 

Second strategy:  Do the broken-toe cast-on in this old video (gosh, this is from before I did hi-def videos!).  Especially check out the part at the end where I showed the nice edges.  This is great information, and so easy.

And here's one more trick to put up your sleeve:  If you're still not thrilled with the edge after your piece is knitted and off the machine, you can slip a blocking or ribber wire into that cast-on edge, gather up the edge, and hit it very briefly with steam.   Heck, if your whole project is assembled, you can still do this to tidy up ribbing edges.  Do not steam the whole ribbing, just the very edge, and briefly. 

If you did the Broken Toe Cast-On in the video, you could leave in that starter row that I pull out at the end of the video.  Pull on it to gather up the ribbing and then do the blocking trick, above.  After the piece is thoroughly dry, pull that thread out.

Surprise!  Your edge is beautiful and perfect!  In a messy life, with difficult people and broken plumbing, where so many problems are achingly complex, I get great personal satisfaction from one little perfect cast-on edge...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I am currently working faithfully on the new book of baby blankets to machine knit - in between living life.

I decided to call it "Best Baby Blankets," because I was very selective about what sorts of patterns made the book.  I am going for easy to knit, not holey (tiny fingers, folks), not fringey or loopy (ditto, little fingers), washable, and lie flat.  I also wanted each pattern to be interesting to make, either providing an interesting technique lesson or a little different way of doing things.

John and I chose the cover theme pretty easily - a photo of the stitch pattern from a project that we took to the last two seminars can be the background.  This blanket seems to be everyone's favorite.  Knitters kept asking John which book had the pattern, and he kept saying, "She's working on it.  It's not out yet."  Naturally, John has "reminded" me a number of times to get this book finished!  This colorful blanket was made with a lot of scraps of baby pastels, and I knitted a fold-over edging that I sewed down very easily, using the sewing machine for the purl side and hand sewing the knit side.  It looks great, with all the sewing thread vanishing into the thickness of the blanket, and the knit side has cute little scallops.  You could have the nifty little scallops on both sides, if you wanted to hand sew the purl side instead of using the sewing machine.  My favorite part was I didn't have to hide all the color-change ends - I just tied them, cut them, and let them vanish inside the edging!  The edging goes around curves and corners just fine, too.

Getting a book done takes me a long time.  Even during a very busy spring with three seminars and a lot of challenges at my day job, I was enjoying working up the new designs, doing as much knitting and redoing as necessary until I was satisfied.  Next, I filmed, edited video (which isn't quite finished yet).  Next, type out the patterns, take photos, make diagrams, and edit.

This was an extremely fun project.  I went off my original plan because I just wanted to make baby blankets while my club was doing them for charity, and pretty soon I had a nice collection of interesting ones.  It's almost too much fun to stop. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Inspiration at Rhythm of the Needles

Adorable - and some good Intarsia advice, too:

I couldn't figure out how to get a date-specific link, so if you're reading this long after I posted it, you'll have to scroll down over there...