Sunday, July 30, 2006

Eureka! (Part II)

(If you haven't read it already, you might want to start with Part I. Or if you're really curious, there's also an entry on another, yuckier method for no-sew mitered squares.)

Square 3:

As square 2.

Square 4:

At this point, you have a choice.

You could knit square 4 as you did squares 2 and 3, and have a single seam to sew.

Or you can follow the directions below and go for the true no-sew block of squares. This last square is a little more difficult, though. In the last several rows, things get a bit tight. Whether the bother is worth it to you all comes down to how much you dislike the sewing.

On the assumption you wish to continue:

Everything begins in the same way your previous joined squares did:

Cast on 49 stitches.

Join with square 3 by purling into the first edge stitch on square 3. Re-insert needle into square 3, as previously described. Turn.

Slip the first stitch, tighten everything up, then purl . . .

BUT. Don't purl that last stitch. You're going to use it to join up your new square with square 1. But you need that needle free, so for now, slip that last stitch onto the other needle with the rest of them.

Take your free needle, and insert it into the edge of your first square. Unlike with your other joins, though, you don't want that first edge stitch. You want the next one up. (Not two horizontal bars up, either. Just the one.) If you choose the right edge stitch, your stripes will line up right and your cast-on edges will be relatively flush.

Being careful not to twist, either slip that last stitch you didn't purl back onto the other needle and do an SSK with the edge stitch. Or you can do a Sl, k, PSSO, if you prefer.

(I'm not bothering with photos of this and the following steps, because it really is exactly what you're already familiar with on the other side of the square, just reversed a bit.)

Insert free needle back into square one, two rows up.


Slip first stitch, this time with the yarn in front. Tighten things up a little . . .

And that's it.

Continue knitting on the right side, purling on the wrong side, joining each side to the other squares, and decreasing for your miters.

And you'll have yourself a pretty decent no-sew mitered block.

(Yes, it gets easier once you get the hang of it.)

Back to Square 1:

From here, you can keep it portable and flexible by making up more individual blocks. (Which you could then not-sew-together using crochet or a 3-needle bind-off.)

Or, you can start your next square by picking up stitches from the edge of your first block.

I find it difficult to pick up a stitch from that edge stitch (the one that's now part of the seam). So instead of bothering with that, I use a slip knot for my first stitch.

Then, pick up and knit 24 or 25 stitches, as it seems right to you. (The problem here is that since the square has an even number of cast-on stitches, there isn't really a sharp corner stitch you can pick up in. At least, you can't do that and keep your picked up stitches right in line with the stitches in your first block. If you were really clever, you would have considered adding an extra row of decreases into your mitered square, way back at the beginning. This would require three additional stitches to be cast on, and you would have an odd number of stitches, and therefore a perfect corner stitch. But most of us don't think about that sort of thing until it is too late . . . )

Then cast on an additional 25 or 24 stitches, depending on how many stitches you picked up. (You want a total of 50, to match your previous squares.) If you use the long-tail cast on, like I do, you may need to grab a second length of yarn to serve as a surrogate "tail."

Miter away.

Yes, but how does it turn out, really?

Quite nicely, actually.

The wrong side "seams" aren't as neat as intarsia, but they're just as neat as mattress stitch (and slightly less bulky).

The line of picked-up stitches is barely noticed on the wrong side. (Blends right into all those color transitions from the striping.)

And the front is great!

Your center may be a bit loose, but you can tighten that up when you weave in your congregation of ends.

And here's where the second block joins the first. I like it.

It's enough to make you really and truly happy.

For a full minute at least.

Happy knitting!


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Eureka! (Part I)

(I've got lots of photos, and a fair bit of discussion, so I'm splitting this into multiple entries. Patience, and all.)

A Better Method for No-Sew Mitered Squares: Domino Knitting

Note -- Attaching mitered squares in this manner is not shown in Vivian Høxbro's Domino Knitting, but she does discuss the concept of joining knitted pieces using this method (and several others) in some detail. If you are at all interested in basic methods of the no-sew joining of one piece of knitting to another, I highly recommend this book.

Square 1:

Behold! The simple mitered square of the Psychedelic Squares Afghan and, more recently, of Mason-Dixon Knitting:

With a couple of minor modifications. (Perhaps not strictly necessary, but I have my reasons for each. You can choose to use them. Or not.)

First modification -- I use the long-tail cast on. Why? Because I like it.

Second modification -- Instead of casting on 48 stitches (I like the smaller version of the mitered square), I cast on 50. This adds two more stitches, one to each edge, as a selvedge. This would not be useful, except for that row close to the end where you are decreasing from 6 stitches to 3. I find it annoying to join (even by sewing, really) the squares at this row with the decreases right on the edge.

I maintain the additional edge stitches right to the end. When I get down to three stitches (the two edge stitches, plus the last "body" stitch), I don't decrease further. I just thread my yarn tail through the last three stitches.

Square 2:

Cast on 49 stitches (or one stitch less than you cast on for your first square).

Insert your second needle into the first edge stitch of your first square.

Insert your first needle (the one with the 49 stitches) into that same edge stitch, as if to purl.


Before you turn, take your newly freed needle and insert it back into your first square, two rows up from where it was before. (I couldn't get a good photo of this. The best explanation I can give is to find where that last purl stitch is, then insert your needle between the first and second stitches, two horizontal bars up.)

The placement of this needle is important, as it determines whether or not your rows and stripes will line up from one square to another.

If you don't get it right the first (or fourth) time, don't despair. Trial and error, and all. (Don't even want to admit how many times I tried this before I got it right.)


Slip the first stitch, with the yarn in back.

Keeping the yarn in back is key. This took me more than a little while a while to figure out. Høxbro doesn't spell this out. That was very frustrating. Although perhaps it is supposed to be implied in her direction to "Slip knitwise." Whatever.

Also key is to tighten up this slipped stitch. Make sure to take up all the slack yarn between the first square and the last stitch on the second square. A loose join is ugly. (I know whereof I speak.)

Purl to end.


Knit as you normally would a mitered square (keeping in mind that you have an extra stitch, so you need to add one to the total number of stitches before you begin decreasing), until you get to the last stitch.

Purl the last stitch together with the edge stitch from square 1.

Insert your needle another two rows up. (This may be a better picture, as you can actually see those two horizonal bars -- although I guess they're closer to vertical in the photo, the way the knitting is oriented -- between the purl stitch and where the needle goes in.)

Continue as described, changing colors where you wish.

Close-up of the join. Perhaps not quite as neat as mattress stitch, but pretty darn close. And with a little practice . . .

(To be continued . . .)


Friday, July 28, 2006

Posy, Poised, Impatient


Remember when I told you that I was down to a paltry number of works-in-progress? And that I would start Posy next?

But then I didn't start Posy, because I hadn't chosen an accent color?


I've now got my accent yarn.

I like it very much, and am very excited to start.


Since we last talked about it?

I started this:

And this:

Oh! And this, too:

And, um, this:


I could cast on for Posy today.

Y'all know I am insane.

But I'm not that insane.


Foiled again!


Thursday, July 27, 2006


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

There Are Only So Many Hats a Girl Can Take

Between the Cloud hats and the baby fruit hats . . . let's just say I'm all hatted out for now.

But I have a new idea.

I want some practice making sweaters before I jump further into designing the Blue Sweater for He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

I've never made a seamless sweater.

I think a seamless sweater would probably be the bestest sweater ever to knit. (NO SEAMS! This means NO SEWING!)

Knitting Without Tears has guidelines / patterns for a ton of different seamless sweaters (yoke, raglan, you name it . . . )

I could knit them ALL. Just, you know, to really see what they're like.

And maybe I could fool around with some color patterning. On the fly. As it struck me.

Total knitting freedom.

I wouldn't want to make adult-sized sweaters. Adult sweaters are big. And for my purposes, children's sweaters (although probably not baby sweaters) would do just fine.

The sweaters would be like giant swatches, really.

Only when I was done knitting them, I would have no further use for the things.

I could toss 'em.

But that would be a waste.

Oh, well . . .

Oh. Wait!

(Sometimes I really am stupid.)

Probably this is the beginning of a seamless yoke sweater. But it might be something else entirely. Total knitting freedom, after all. Don't know what it will be, but I know where its going. (Dulaan 2007.)

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In Which the Cure is Worse than the Disease

I wasn't going to blog about this method of no-sew mitering, because from my point of view the cons far outweigh the pros. This might have been the most miserable experience of my knitting life. (I can't say for sure, as I tend to deliberately forget these things after a while.)

But once I was done with the block, it looked so neat and tidy. Almost as neat on the right side as mattress stitch (and maybe could be just as neat as mattress stitch, for a knitter with sufficient intarsia experience). And much, much neater than mattress stitch on the wrong side. The effect on the wrong side was pronounced enough to convince me that this method might hypothetically be of some use. Someday. To someone not me.

So, here you go.

A Method for No-Sew Mitered Squares: Intarsia "In the Round"

Tangle Quotient exceeds tolerances
Not Portable
Slow (sewing might be faster)
Low spontenaity in re color choice (must simultanously cast on all four miters in the block)
Generally sucks all the joy out of mitering

Neat, even on the wrong-side


Circular needles and DPNs of appropriate size. I started with a 24 inch circular for the smaller size of stockinette miter (i.e., casting on 48 stitches) using Rowan Denim, which has an approximate tension/gauge of 20 sts per 10 cm/4 in.

Enough skeins (or smaller balls) of yarn to work 4 mitered squares simultaneously. For me, this was eight balls of yarn, 4 each of two colors.


Sadly, you can't do intarsia in the round by just knitting round and round. If you try this, you will quickly find that your working yarns don't end up where you need them to be for the next round.

But there is a trick you can use. You still knit back and forth, first on the wrong side, then on the right, just as you would if you were knitting "flat." But at the very beginning of each row, you create an extra stitch with a YO. And at the end of that row, you knit or purl (as appropriate) this YO with the last stitch in the row. This joins the two edges of your knitting seamlessly.

The joining technique is very simple, once you do it a few times. What'll get to you is all the working yarns.

NOTE -- there is more than one method of intarsia-in-the-round out there. They are not all suited for all purposes. I don't know whether another method would work for mitered squares.


1.) Using a circular needle, cast on for 4 mitered squares.

Where appropriate, change the yarn used to cast on, so that the color of the cast-on edge is the first color you plan to use for each mitered square. (You could skip changing the colors if you don't mind a border around your block -- that would marginally simplify things and would probably look quite nice.) I used the knitted cast on, but I don't think it much matters.

In other words, I cast on 48 stitches for the first square, changed colors, cast on 48 more stitches, changed colors, cast on 48 more stitches, changed colors, and cast on a final 48 more stitches.

2.) Row 1 (Wrong Side). YO,

purl to last stitch (changing working yarns for each miter and twisting the old and new working yarns together at each transition),

purl last stitch in row together with YO created at beginning of row.


3.) Row 2 (Right Side). YO,

knit to last stitch (changing working yarns for each miter, twisting the new and old working yarns together at each transition, and decreasing where appropriate to form miters),

ssk last stitch with YO created at beginning of row. Turn.

It is important to use an ssk (or equivalent left leaning decrease) so that the correct color yarn shows on the right side. If you use a k2tog, the border between one square and another at your join will be wonky.

4.) Repeat rows 1 and 2, changing colors in each miter where desired.

5.) Switch to DPNs when you like.

6.) When you are down to 1 stitch per square (4 stitches total),

thread one of your working yarns through all four stitches. Pull tight.

7.) Kay's instructions take it from here. You could either make additional individual blocks and then join them later with a 3-needle bind off or crochet or whatever. Or you could pick up stitches from the edge of this first block for your second block. (Insane . . . )


1.) Tangles may be inevitable.

2.) Cats and intarsia don't mix.


1.) Front is almost as neat as with mattress stitch. (Mattress stitch version on the right).



2.) But the back of the intarsia version is much less bulky.

Mattress stitch.

Intarsia transition.

Joint created by YOs, p2togs, and ssks.