Summer School – Lace – Sybaritic

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

I’m just going to give in and stop fighting my love for knitted leaves.  (Remember this statement in a few months when I show you one of the obsessions I’ve been working on this month while I’m plotting future projects…) Sybaritic is lacy, it’s leafy, and it might even be the tiniest bit fiddly…and I’m not even a little bit sorry.

I mean don’t worry too much, the only fiddly bit is that you do the gusset decreases in a slightly weird place.  But once you’ve done the first pair of them, you’ll see how they work (and it’s so so so worth it for that cute little leaf on the top of your foot.

If you’ve got the hang of lace (or if you’re like me, and you’ve never been inclined to start with the easy projects thank you very much, you’ll just dive in wherever the hell you feel like it because what’s the worst that could happen), then you’re going to have a blast with these.

Sybaritic is 25% off just for today with the code SUMMER SCHOOL (technically, it’s 12:01 am to 11:59 pm eastern time on Friday, July 12, 2019 if you want to get very particular).  Come back next week for my ‘I’m too lazy to do it the right way’ approach to colorwork!

Summer School – Lace – Calceiform

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

Feeling like maybe you can do this lace thing (you can)?  Like maybe it’s just plopping the occasional intentional hole here and there (it is) and that you’re ready to dive in (you are)?  Yeah, I think you can too!  How about giving Calceiform a try.

If you’ve been here for any length of time at all, you’ll know I have a soft spot for slippers (yes, yes there are more slipper patterns in the works).  They’re a perfect canvas for trying out all sorts of things…enough room to do something pretty, but not so big it feels daunting (I’m looking at you, giant shawls…right at you…you just take too long and you know it).

These let you show off an absolutely gorgeous little leaf motif (yes, yes leaves really are the most lacy thing to knit, I’m not even going to pretend otherwise), but also give you plenty of plainer fabric to catch your breath on.  I mean really, that lacy panel is only a few inches wide.  You can totally do this.  And they’re so much faster than socks!

Calcieform is 25% off just for today with the code SUMMER SCHOOL (technically, it’s 12:01 am to 11:59 pm eastern time on Thursday, July 11, 2019 if you want to get very particular).  Come back tomorrow for another lacy favorite!

 

Summer School – Lace – Petiole

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

Once again, there’s something to be said for practicing a new-to-you technique on a small project.  The cuffs in the Petiole set are a perfect place to do that.

They’re itty bitty little things (and still somehow manage to pack a whole lot of cute into very few stitches…I think it’s the tiny little point at the top, it’s proven universally irresistible).  When you’re done with them and feeling confident, you can make the matching hat.  It’s a slightly bigger project, but still totally doable (I mean it’s a hat, you can’t be scared of a hat, can you?).

And this is one of those lace patterns that’s so very very neat and orderly.  Increases line up, decreases line up, it all makes tidy lines.  Once you get through the first repeat, you start to really get the logic of how it goes together, and all of a sudden you start feeling confident (and you’ll look super impressive to non knitters, which really is part of the fun).

Plus you get to make that for the top of your head.  You can’t do that without lace, and I’m pretty sure you totally want to do that.  I mean I know I want to do that!

Petiole is 25% off just for today with the code SUMMER SCHOOL (technically, it’s 12:01 am to 11:59 pm eastern time on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 if you want to get very particular).  Come back tomorrow for another lacy favorite!

 

Summer School – Lace – Graupel

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

Remember how we started cables with teeny tiny ones that only involved a handful of stitches?  Yeah, well we’re doing the same thing with lace.  These are Graupel, and the lacy bit…the lacy bit that makes them so pretty…it only involves three stitches.  You can do anything over just three stitches, right?

These also just so happen to give you a little extra practice with cables (one of the columns of the rib is lace, the other is cable, so you get to practice both).

I’m a firm believer that working lace in the round is easier than working it back and forth (because you don’t ever need to mess with working wrong side increases and decreases, and you don’t have to read the chart backwards).  So between working in the round and switching over to stockinette at the bottom of the foot, this is totally a good way to ease in.  And really…if you’re already comfy with lace, then they’re pretty enough that you don’t need any cheerleading about how they’re easy, you know you just want them because they’re lovely!

Graupel is 25% off just for today with the code SUMMER SCHOOL (technically, it’s 12:01 am to 11:59 pm eastern time on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 if you want to get very particular).  Come back tomorrow for another lacy favorite!

Summer School – Lace

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

So last week we talked about cables, and how they were just knitting a few stitches out of order.  This week I want to talk about lace.  Lace is basically putting holes in your knitting on purpose.  Big holes. Little holes. Lots of holes. Just a few holes.  It’s all lace.

You’ve probably already knit lace, even if you didn’t know it.  Remember back when you were just learning to knit?  And you started out with something 30 stitches wide and then by the end somehow it was 42 stitches wide and there were some random holes in the middle because you’d somehow worked a couple of extra yarn overs here and there?  Yeah, you can make a pretty convincing argument that that’s technically lace.  If you want to explore the idea a bit more, you’ll probably want to get a little more precise and put the holes in intentionally.  But really anything with stable holes is lace.

The way you get those holes is (usually) by working yarn overs.  People sometimes get themselves all worked up over yarn overs, but they’re really very mellow (so mellow you sometimes do them by accident). Jen has some great videos over here on how to work yarn overs (and what to do if you forgot one…actually every single thing over there will be helpful if you’re a new lace knitter).

Now, if you’ve made a hole by working a yarn over (or some other clever way to make a hole, there are a few others), you’ve very likely got an extra stitch on your needles.  If you want your fabric to stay the same width, you probably want to decrease those extra stitches away.  Balancing those increases and decreases is the whole trick to lace.  You can have the decreases snuggled up right next to the increases or farther away.  You can even do the increases and decreases on different rows.  If decreases are new, start by learning how to make one that leans to the right (sometimes called knit 2 together) and one that slants to the left (sometimes called slip slip knit).  Then once those are feeling comfy, learn one that turns 3 stitches into 1 stitch (there are at least five versions of this, but the one I use most is the centered double decrease).  When you’re feeling ready, learn the purl side versions of all of them. You can find videos of lots of decreases (and oodles of other handy stuff) right over here.

Once you’ve got the increases and decreases down, you’ve really got all the stitches you need.  All you need to do now is start putting them together.  And I think the best way to put them together is with charts.  I’m a huge fan of charts (there’s a good chance that if we do summer school next year, we’ll talk about charts…like a lot).  They are pictures of your knitting and they let you visualize your work a whole lot better than a string of letters and numbers do.  If you’ve never used charts, this is a fabulous resource.  And if you want someone to hand hold you through every step of the way for a first go at knitting lace from charts, this will totally do the job.

I’ll talk in a bit more detail about fun lace stuff over the next few days.  But just like we did with cables last week, I want to point you toward some great books if you want to read more.  These are all fabulous and I love them to bits (as usual, amazon links are totally affiliate links, if you don’t like those, you can absolutely google the titles instead, I’ll never ever know).

Reading List:

  • Jen Arnall-Culliford can break any knitting task down into tiny steps, and her Something New To Learn About Lace book is a great place to start.
  • Barbara Benson has a brand new lace book out full of projects using big yarn.  If the tiny yarn or tiny needles scare you, Big Yarn, Beautiful Lace Knits (as always, amazon links are affiliate links) will sort that right out (I’ve got a proper review of it coming next month, but you should totally go check it out now)!
  • If you want to go in the other direction and embrace the tiny yarn and needles, Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia will show you that you can do amazing things (I’d trust Nancy Bush to teach you how to do anything involving sticks and string, just do what she says, you’ll be fine).
  • And once you’re properly hooked and want to start experimenting with making up your own patterns, Siiri Reimann’s Haapsalu Shawl book and The Haapsalu Scarf Square and Triangular Lace Scarves from Estonia will inspire all sorts of confections (yes they’re out of print, yes copies are hard to come by, yes they is absolutely worth snatching up if you come across a second hand copy at a good price).

 

Summer School – Cables – Tacit

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

Ready to show off?  Just a little?  If you can get the hang of two by two cables (and you can, I really really know you can), you can make this.  They’re called Tacit and they’re unspeakably nifty.

Just take a minute and think how amazing you’re going to feel when that comes tripping off your needles!

This is a slightly different approach to cables.  Normally cables sort of look like a big entwined knot where you can follow one strand along the whole path.  But these stack the cable crosses up a little differently to make something that almost looks like ribbing.  It’s the exact same moves (remember, cables are just working stitches out of order).  You just position the cables a little differently.  And you look EXTRA impressive!

Tacit is 25% off just for today with the code SUMMER SCHOOL (technically, it’s 12:01 am to 11:59 pm eastern time on Thursday, July 4, 2019 if you want to get very particular).  Come back tomorrow for another cable favorite!

Summer School – Cables – Spicule

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

All right.  If you’re still a tiny bit nervous, I have one more suggestion. Start small. Spicule has people sized hats in it, but it also has teeny tiny ornament sized hats (think ‘would fit on an egg’).  And if doing a big project still feels scary, this is a super low stakes way to practice all the same techniques on a smaller scale.

Then when you’re done with the ornaments and feeling all confident, you can make the people-sized ones and show off all your skills.  Because cables (especially teeny tiny ones) make for some of the best hat crowns out there.

And I’m sure you are ever so much more modest and restrained and self effacing than I am.  But when I knit something that looks this cool?  Well I want to show it off!

And I promise I will back you up if you pretend to non-knitters that cables are very very fancy and very very hard and that the ease with which you knit them is because you are a stupendously talented knitter and have years of practice.  I mean don’t do that to other knitters, because that’s mean, and they’ll eventually realize cables are easy and call you out on your nonsense.  But you can do it to the non knitters if you want!

Spicule is 25% off just for today with the code SUMMER SCHOOL (technically, it’s 12:01 am to 11:59 pm eastern time on Thursday, July 4, 2019 if you want to get very particular).  Come back tomorrow for another cable favorite!

Summer School – Cables – Burgeoning

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

Ok, so yesterday we went with tiny cables. Today I want to show you something a little bit more substantial, and Burgeoning is just the way to do that.

This is a perfect example of how a tiny change can have a dramatic result.  Last time you were crossing one stitch over one stitch…this is just crossing two stitches over one or two stitches.  It’s a teeny tiny incremental change, but it gives a totally different look.

But the nice thing is that, once you have the general idea of cables down (‘work stitches out of order,’ that’s all there is to it), you can do a huge range of things.  All you have to do is find the one that makes you go ‘yup, yup I want to try that!’

Burgeoning is 25% off just for today with the code SUMMER SCHOOL (technically, it’s 12:01 am to 11:59 pm eastern time on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 if you want to get very particular).  Come back tomorrow for another cable favorite!

 

Summer School – Cables – Circumvolute

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

Ok, I’m starting you out easy.  Circumvolute is all about very very very mellow cables, and not too many of them.  If you’ve never ever done a cable before, you can start here and you’ll be cruising away in no time.  It’s just crossing one stitch over one other stitch.  You can’t possibly be scared of something that only uses two stitches.  You can totally do this!

It’s also a perfect place to try cabling without a cable needle (that’s easiest on tiny cables, and these are as tiny as cables come).  Plus there are two versions of the hat in there, so you’ve got double the chances to practice.

And if you’re already a cable pro, well then you can just appreciate how ridiculously cute they are (and how amazing they look with speckled yarn, because that is totally a thing).

Circumvolute is 25% off just for today with the code SUMMER SCHOOL (technically, it’s 12:01 am to 11:59 pm eastern time on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 if you want to get very particular).  Come back tomorrow for another cable favorite!

Summer School – Cables

I’m taking a bit of time off this month, but I wanted to make sure you had something to do while I’m napping (or, more likely, sweeping out the garage, getting drywall dust  out of my cabinets, or planning next year’s projects…but napping sounds better).

On Mondays, I’ll introduce a topic or skill and provide a bunch of links and resources to help you learn more. Later in the week, I’ll show off a few favorite patterns so you can do some homework.  The featured patterns will be on sale for one day each, so come back each weekday to see if there’s something that catches your eye!

I love cables.  They are easier than you think they are, look amazingly impressive, and offer so many variations that you’ll never run out of things to do.

At heart, a cable is just stitches worked out of order.  All you do is set the next couple of stitches on your needle aside for a second, work the stitches after them, then go back and work the ones you set aside.  Everything beyond that is just details.

But the details matter!  They’re how you get cables that look wildly different with the same basic techniques.  There are lots of things you can change, including:

  • How you set first group of stitches aside (if you hold them in the front, your cable will lean to the left, if you hold them in the back, your cable will lean to the right).
  • How many stitches you use (anything from two stitches on up, though anything more than about twenty four stitches starts to get a bit cumbersome).
  • How you work the stitches (knitting them is most common, but if you work them in ribbing you’ll often get a reversible cable and if you include increases and decreases you can work shaping in your cables).
  • How you arrange the cables (you can stack them up very close to each other or leave lots of room in between, and you can keep them tiny and narrow or work a huge sprawling panel, it’s all up to you).

If you’ve never ever ever cabled before, first, you’re in for a treat!  Second, don’t be scared, you can totally do this.  Check out this tutorial over on Purl Soho, or this one over on Wool and the Gang.  Practice those for a bit, and you’ll be cruising in no time.

If you’re already comfy with cables, I highly recommend ditching the cable needle and learning to cable without a cable needle.  It makes your knitting much faster, it’s one less thing to lose, and you will feel like an absolute badass the first time you pull it off.  Kelbourne Woolens has a great tutorial here.

Once you’ve got that down, you can start playing with fancier and fancier cables.  I have a soft spot in my heart for reversible cables.  There are a couple of approaches to creating these, and I haven’t actually found one place that runs them all down (this leaves me sort of itching to break down and do it myself some day, but today is not that day).  My favorite is to work the cable in ribbing rather than in plain knitting…that tiny shift makes a huge difference.  There’s a good video over here walking you through one example of how this can work.

I’m going to highlight four of my favorite cable patterns over the next few days and tell you a little about why I love them and how they work.  But in the meantime, if you want to learn more, you know I’m always a fan of a good book.  These are some of my favorites (these are totally affiliate links, if you don’t like those, you can absolutely google the titles instead, I’ll never ever know).

Reading List:

  • adore Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook (as always, amazon links are affiliate links).  It’s useful and practical and strikes the right balance between holding your hand while you learn something new and sending you off to experiment on your own.
  • Judith Durant’s Cable Left, Cable Right is another great book that will feel right at home on your reference shelf.
  • Once you’re feeling confident with the basic techniques and want to explore something a bit more specialized, Maria Erlbacher, Meg Swansen, and Amy Detjen have just the thing with their Twisted-Stitch Knitting. It’s a collection of dozens of intricate tiny cables that will bend your brain in all the right ways.
  • And when you’re ready to really see what cables can do, check out Lucy Hague’s Celtic Cable Shawls for some of the most breathtaking cabled projects I’ve ever seen.