Trying out some Brioche!

I love learning new techniques, it sets me a challenge and allows me to explore new areas of knitting that I haven’t experimented with before. When I’m learning a new technique my first thought is how I can change, improve or break it down! It’s been many years since I’ve tried working on Brioche Knitting and I had almost completely forgotten about it. My friend, Nancy Marchant, who is a designer based in Amsterdam, has built her entire knitting career around this stitch and if you fall for Brioche her work is well worth checking out (I’ve added links to her craftsy classes at the bottom of the post).

The 2 things that drew me to this stitch are it’s fluffy, bouncy, thick texture and the ability to combine colours easily in your work. The Nua collection that I’m working on for this autumn was just perfect to add a little brioche stitch into so I started exploring the stitch a bit more.

The basics of Brioche are pretty simple; you are alternating a knit stitch with a slipped stitch that’s combined with a yarnover. When you work the next row you reverse this so the stitch that was knit is now slipped with a yarnover and the stitch that was previously slipped is now knit together with the yarnover (this is known as a brioche knit stitch ‘brk’). To look at, Brioche stitch is like super cushy 1×1 ribbing. Due to how it’s knit it’s very stretchy and wider than stockinette stitch.
Here’s a little video I put together of basic brioche:

Once you’ve mastered the basics of Brioche the fun really begins! Next up, is combining 2 colours; allowing 1 colour to be the main ‘rib’ and the other to be the background. Of course, this is reversed on the other side of the work then. As Brioche stitch is a 2 stitch repeat when you work increases, you need to add 2 stitches at a time to stay in pattern which creates some lovely effects!

Now, of course, I always want to keep experimenting so I decided to try out my favourite short row method, German Short Rows, with Brioche Stitch.
I discovered that if you keep your turns every 2 stitches (to maintain the Brioche Stitch) it works really well. I’ve added this technique to a collar for one of my Autumn Collection!

See it in action here:

If you want to have a bit of fun with Brioche Stitch you can explore with a few Craftsy classes. Below you’ll find affiliate links to different classes:
Nancy Marchant
Explorations in Brioche Knitting, and then to learn more about working in 2 colours try Brioche Knitting: Exploring Color and Texture.

Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark does a basic Brioche Knitting class called Brioche Knitting Made Easy. This was the class I started with and I found her a great introduction to the stitch. You learn how to knit it flat, in the round, work 2 colours and different ways to cast on and bind off.

Have you tried out Brioche knitting before? What do you think?

Exploring Ravi Junior

Photo Credit Evin O’K

This is one of the things that came across my desk that made me truly happy to work on. I’m a mum and I love baby and toddler knits so when Carol said that she was launching a Ravi Junior kit in Nua, I beamed and jumped on board straight away.

I’ll be honest the mummy knitter response kicked in pretty quick. I wanted to know that as a non-superwash yarn that the garment would withstand the abuse that my kids are going to give it. My little monkies are not going to know the luxury they are wrapped in. They are going to move, play and be excited by that shiny thing over there and I didn’t want to knit a garment that I had to take off to let them explore. The other knitter response was ‘What about pilling?’ It’s always my second question that rolls around my head as my kids move fast and there is a whole bunch of friction going on.

 

Photo Credit Evin O’K

 

I’m constantly shocked by Nua and it’s reaction to what I throw at it. I knew from my cowl that pilling wasn’t going to be an issue especially as Ravi has the beautiful depth of garter stitch. I wear my cowl on beach walks in high winds, thrown in and out of pockets (sorry Carol) and it’s always rubbing against my coat. My cowl looks as good as the day I took it off the needles and when it’s looking a little sad I just handwash it and it bounces right back. This made me have confidence in Nua as a yarn for children’s garment.

As a non-superwash yarn, the garment would have to be hand washed. This made me a little concerned but as I have managed to get potato and leek soup out of a very expensive hand knit alpaca cardigan using Soak, I knew that I could push that fear away too.

 

Photo Credit Evin O’K

 

Then I was able to really get excited. I had wanted to knit an adult sized Ravi but I have Akoya on my needles at the moment and no time for another adult garment but I really wanted to see what this looked like and then I got these beautiful images from Evin O’K and I was sold. If anyone is interested I will be knitting a Ravi Jnr in Capall over the summer. Why don’t you join me? This is the perfect size project to test out new construction methods and test out your love for short rows. 

If you would like to join me, Carol has added a Ravi Jnr kit to her shop here and to go with that in her shop only, she has added a 15% discount code ‘RAVIJR15’ which works on both the individual pattern and then also the kit. Offer is valid until May 31st. 

Happy Knitting!

Nadia

Spritz Stripes Redo

It feels like a little luxury to reknit a pattern. Promoting my Nua yarn as well as a pattern opened up this possibility for me and I’m really enjoying the relaxing effect of reknitting a pattern. Designing is not always relaxing knitting time; especially at the early stages when you’re trying to figure out if a design is going to work. It’s rather soul destroying and humbling and you’ve got a constant hum in the back of your mind ‘this is never going to work’. Fortunately they work out more often than not, but it’s not very relaxing!

This is the original version of Spirtz Stripes that I knit in Madelinetosh Tosh Light. This is a fingering weight yarn rather than sport weight so to reknit the pattern in Nua was going to take a bit of recalculation.

I thought I’d give a little bit of an insight into the process of redesigning a pattern for a different gauge. If you ever need to make gauge adjustment to a pattern the process might be of use to you.

The first job was a gauge swatch. This is going to tell me how much change I’ll need in the pattern. I discovered that the lace stitch gauge changed quite a bit from 16 stitches to 14 stitches per 4″ / 10 cm. The row gauge though had a much smaller change. This means that I recalculated the stitch count I would need to get close to the same finished sizes for every size in the pattern. I needed to be careful as well that I had the correct stitch count number for when I divided the body into the front and back at the armholes as well.
I decided to leave the row count for the body the same (which made the body longer) but to shorten the armhole depth. This made the sweater a bit longer overall.

Now to get started with the knitting (you may notice that I kept it in red, which I loved, this time using Angry Monkey colour). With this sweater the lace stretches a HUGE amount so I was reminded again of how important Jeny’s Stretchy Cast-On is for the success of the sweater. If it can’t stretch it won’t fit.

Once the body is finished you divide into the front and back, working straight until the shoulder shaping that’s done with short rows. I’ve put in lots of details on how to do the short row shaping in the lace pattern. It requires some concentration but as every turn is at a complete lace repeat it is manageable (plus it’s just for a few rows).

Now the last stage is doing a 3-needle bind-off for the shoulders (I developed a stretchy version for this as the standard one just doesn’t stretch enough) and the sleeves are plain stockinette knit from the top down.

Now for the best part – the blocking! I always love this stage as it means I’m almost finished. I used a combination of blocking wires, pins and bars to get a nice stretch to open the lace and keep the edges straight. You can really see here why you need stretchy cast-ons and bind-offs.

I’m going to get an awful lot of use out of this sweater at shows and classes. My favourite way to wear it is with a long tank top/dress with leggings. It’s comfortable and feels a little dressed up.
What colour would you love to knit it in?

The Sugarcane KAL

Can you feel it? That change in the weather? Yes, Spring is finally well and truly here this week.  Tomorrow is the start of the Spring KAL (Knit-along) and taking the centre stage this time around is the Sugarcane Cardigan. You can read more about the cardigan pattern and the upcoming KAL here.

If this is your first KAL and you are wondering what to expect you can have a read of the roundup post here on the previous Luwan KAL. Knit-alongs are a favourite for some but have you ever wondered why? I thought we could take a look at a few reasons as to why they are so popular.

Support

KALs are always full of support so a few knitters use them to knit their first garment. Not only do you get help from the designer but you also have support from others posting in the group or forums.  This is fantastic when you get to a part in the pattern that you are apprehensive about.

Motivation

There is nothing like knowing that the next clue or section is about to be released to make you stay up well past your bedtime to finish your current section. Also while watching the forums for support some people find that the only way they will finish a large knit is if they have someone to help cheer them on.

New Techniques

Some knitters also like trying out a new skill or technique with the knowledge that they are not alone in working this and that the designer and other knitters are there to help them if they get stuck. Every now and again we all need someone to say “yes, you’re doing it right” to confirm our own thoughts and move on with confidence.

Community

KAL’s really do have their own community. I know I was welcomed into the first Stolen Stitches KAL by some knitters who are always in the KAL group eagerly awaiting the next one to start. They are always open and friendly and willing to help or pass around an online glass of something stiff when you hit a roadblock or two. There really is nothing like the community that comes along with a KAL and I always have fun when I join in.

Fun

I think I saved the best one until last. KAL’s are always fun. Who doesn’t get excited by seeing a pattern update in their library? It sits there mocking you at work until you break and sneakily read it or you have the control that I never do and you manage to get home before installing the update and devouring the next section.  The boards are always full of chatter and friendly banter throughout the entire process so  I for one never feel I’m knitting on my own. I know that somewhere else around a similar time that there is another knitter, an invisible friend of the needles, knitting away on the same thing.  This always makes me smile.

If you want to come and join in the fun and games you still can. The KAL group on Ravelry can be found here and the pattern information and release dates can all be found here. If you are joining in the fun don’t forget to use #stolenstitcheskal and #sugarcanecardigan. What are your favourite parts of a knit-along?

How to Pick Your Cast-On

I’m continuing the huge job of updating my tutorials and this week I’m focusing on cast-ons. I’ve uploaded 3 new videos (Provisional Cast-on-Crochet Method, Knitted Cast-On and Long Tail Cast-On). When I write a pattern I want to make sure even the newest knitter can find all the information and links they need in the pattern. I really believe that if you have access to the information and you’ve got enough time and patience then any knitting skill can be mastered!

I’ve listed all the cast-ons I’ve now got videos for on this page here.
It’s very useful to have a good range of cast-ons available so when you want to create a different edge effect so you know exactly how to do it!

I’ll give you a few examples here of patterns that I use different types of cast-ons for.

Let’s start with the Long Tail Cast-On. This is my standard go-to cast on. If a pattern doesn’t call out for a specific cast-on this is usually the method that I have used. I’ve done videos for 2 different types of ways to work this cast-on; the standard method and the thumb method. As a knitter that holds their yarn in the right hand I’ve always used the thumb method as it’s just a natural extension of this knitting style. However both techniques produce the same end result so you should use the method that you like best!

For top down patterns I generally don’t call for a cast-on at the neck edge but I generally use the Long Tail Method.

My biggest use of Cable Cast-On would be at the underarm cast-on stitches for top down patterns. This cast-on creates a nice firm set of stitches here and can really help prevent it from stretching out.

If you want to create a very slick, seamless finish you can even use the Alternate cable Cast-On which alternates between knit and purl stitches so the cast-on flows seamlessly into the knitting. This was used for the body and sleeve cast-on method in Portulaca Cardigan. (If you want help knitting this cardigan you can get the full construction video in my Celtic Cables Craftsy class).

One of the most amazing cast-on techniques out there is the Provisional Cast-On (Invisible and crochet methods). This is a very fun cast-on as it opens up a world of possibilities. With this cast-on type you use waste yarn (or even a second circular needle) to cast on with. Then using your working yarn you knit until you reach the finish point for that side. Now you can undo the waste yarn from the cast-on point and begin working in the other direction. This is really useful if you want to create seamless knits that start from the middle that are exactly mirrored on each side. I’ve used this technique in my patterns Taupo and Dragon Flames.

You can find some more of my side-to-side knits here, many of which use a provisional cast-on. With this type of cast-on you need to be careful of one thing, the half-stitch ‘jog’. When you start working in the second direction you will find that your work is ½ a stitch over from the other side. This means that you’ll need to pick up a ‘loop’ at one end or otherwise you’ll be a stitch short. For sockinette stitch the jog doesn’t have an impact but if you’ve got ribbing or a very definite stitch pattern it can be noticeable. Ideally if you’ve got a transition at the middle it can help to hid the jog.
I generally use the crochet method for my provisional cast-on but it’s handy to know the invisible method as well as it is faster and you can even use a circular needle to cast directly on to.
Summer Affair has a long cast-on so I used the Invisible method for that pattern.

For Taupo I used the crochet method.

This is just a taster of different cast-on techniques. I’ve shared some of my favourites but I continue to learn new methods every day. Do you have a favourite?

Short Row Love

It probably isn’t much of a surprise to anyone that I love short rows! (See the end of the post for some discount codes for short row patterns and classes). I’ve now done 2 Craftsy classes on Short Rows, written Short Row Knits and used them in many, many patterns. However I still remember learning about short rows for the first time.


The first introduction I had to them was through Barbara Walker’s book ‘Knitting From The Top’. In this book they’re used primarily to shape the neck and shoulder areas for a lot of the different construction techniques that she demonstrates. When I started practicing the basic wrap & turn method for short rows I found online I wasn’t 100% happy with the result. The actual wrapping was fine but when I came to pick up the wraps, especially from the right side it often left a visibly slated stitch that didn’t look the same as the other stitches. I kept experimenting until I created the ‘unwrapping’ method that I original used for short rows.

However that was just the starting point, as I began teaching short rows I looked more deeply into the various method that were out there (and are constantly being re-invented!). Most methods use the same idea of creating a ‘loop’ of yarn that you hold in some way and then knit together with the next stitch when you join the gap. German short rows are interesting as you are effectively ‘pulling up’ the stitch from the row below when you turn to remove the gap between the rows. Shadow wraps appeared in the last few years and with them you’re pulling the wrap from the next stitch on the row below to close the gap.

Short Row Tutorials

While my Craftsy class goes in depth into short rows I’ve also just redone a few smaller video clips showing short row methods that I use frequently in my patterns. That way if you just want a short overview of the technique you can find it quickly. This week I’ve redone videos for German Short Rows in Garter Stitch, Finishing German Short Rows in the Round and Japanese short rows. I’ve previously recorded a few these videos but the quality of the recording was very poor so a redo was in order! Over the next month or so I’m working in the background doing a huge overhaul of my tutorial section and moving it eventually onto the new Stolen Stitches shop.


Ideas for Using Short Rows

It’s important to remember though that knitting techniques are only useful if you use them! Once you put it into practice within a pattern it will stick with you. So what kind of things can you do with short rows?

Try out some short row shaping in shawls such as Penrose Tile.

Or how about shawl collar shaping in the Sugarcane Cardigan KAL starting next week.

Maybe even some yoke shaping in Ravi Nua?

Discounts!
This week I’ve put together a pattern collection that uses Short Rows. Until the 10th of May use code SHORTROWLOVE to get 20% off the patterns in the collection.

A couple of years ago I did a class for Craftsy called Essential Short Row Techniques that details some of the more complex short rows ideas; how to work short rows in the round, how to use short rows for heels, working short rows into a lace or cable pattern and how to create complex shapes with short rows. Get 33% off this class using this link.

Have you used Short Rows in a pattern before? What do you think they are most useful for?

On The Needles: Nua

On the blog last week Carol showed us what is currently on her needles so I thought I would pop in and say hello and tell you a little bit about the projects I made with Nua.

First of all, I love Nua, yes OK I’m biased but I would have loved Nua if I had never heard of Carol or Stolen Stitches. A few months ago, Carol sent me some yarn with no label and asked me to knit a chevron cowl. I’m always cold and I love cowls. I can never have enough of them. Carol was in the design stages of  Boherboy and I happily knit it up in the August Storms colourway of Nua.  

Boherboy in August Storms,; Nua.

I loved how the yarn moved on my needles. It was a double win for me as I had just received my new Hiya Hiya needles in the post so I got to try my new needles with new yarn. It was heaven. Initially, I was really worried about washing and blocking the cowl because when the yarn got wet, it starts to look skinny and I got scared. I thought I had knit everything too loose and I was really, really close to the deadline that Carol needed the sample for. Fear not, the next morning the cowl had fluffed up nicely and was ready to send back to Carol. Of course, I did what any knitter would do and tried it on first and took lots of pictures. The cowl draped nicely on my neck and it fits right inside the collar of my coat so I can whip this boy out on the beach and enjoy chill free walks.

Nua in Bare Necessities

Then the launch came and I got to hold all of the colourways at EYF and then again at This Is Knit. The Bare Necessities skein was following me around. You know what I’m talking about when you walk into a yarn shop and suddenly there is a skein in your hand, you put it back but when you get to the till it magically appears back in your hand begging to come home with you. Yip, true story.

Akoya

So, I got chatting to Carol again as I was looking for a particular type of cardigan to go with a certain dress and I loved Akoya. I told her I was thinking about knitting Akoya in Nua and she was as excited as I was, to see it worked up.

I got the yarn and the pattern and I started knitting. I loved Boherboy but my word the ribbing of Nua was a delight. That’s saying a lot because I hate ribbing. The density of the ribbing is delicious quite frankly and since last week I have managed to work the trellis section on the back. I think it’s especially beautiful, don’t you?
 
If you want to follow along I will be posting my progress in the Nua thread in the Stolen Stitches Raverly group here. If you have an FO in Nua why not post it in the Nua FO board, it can be any pattern but it needs to be Nua yarn.
 
I can’t wait to see what all of you get up to!
 
Nadia
Pssst – Fancy a discount? Carol has a discount code for the I-Cord Collection over here. If you use code ICORDMAGIC you’ll get 20% off all the patterns until the 2nd of May. Go enjoy!

I-Cord Love

When I design there are a few techniques that I return to over and over again; one is short rows and the other one is I-Cord edging. I think by now most people know how much I love Short Rows but I often don’t sing the praises of I-Cord edging! Several years ago I did a few I-Cord video tutorials however at the time my camera only recorded in very low res. This prompted me to redo the videos over the last few days and as a bonus I’ve added one more on I-Cord buttonholes.
For such a simple idea I-Cord edging creates a flexible and very polished, professional finish for knits. At it’s most basic you can use I-Cord on it’s own to create cords that can be used as ties or braided. You can see it used in a braid in the pattern Dalchini.

A basic I-Cord loop can also be used to create a bottonhole, just work the cord and sew it on! It is however going to only be useful for larger buttons as the loop won’t be small enough for little ones.

You can see how to work a basic I-Cord in my video tutorial here.
Now that you’ve got the basics of what an I-Cord is it’s time to move on to the really useful techniques; I-Cord bind-off and applied I-Cord.
You can see the I-Cord Edging used around the neck here for Nishibi.

When worked as and edging, you are working the I-Cord along the edge of the work while at the same time decreasing the stitches in your work. It just means that the last stitch of the I-Cord is worked with the next stitch of your bind off.
Take a look at it in action in this video here.

The final I-Cord technique that I’ve done a video for is the I-Cord buttonhole. This is actually a combination of the previous 2, as you are working an applied I-Cord you create I-Cord loops that act as buttonholes. You can watch the video here.
I’ve used these I-Cord buttonholes on my newest KAL, Sugarcane Cardigan. The front Garter Stitch cardigan edging is finished using and I-Cord edging and the integrated buttonholes are worked along the bind-off.

Now that you fully understand how special and wonderful I-Cords are come join me to celebrate them! I’ve put a full collection of my I-Cord patterns here. If you use code ICORDMAGIC you’ll get 20% off all the patterns until the 2nd of May. Go enjoy!

What’s on the Needles

Spritz Stripes
When I’m working at knitting shows I love wearing my handknits. There is however a slight problem; it’s usually really HOT! My solution is wearing handknit garments that are lightweight and airy.

For the last few years I’ve worn Spritz Stripes for every show. It’s the perfect sweater for over a light tank top and gives you just the right amount of warmth. The version I’ve been wearing is knit in Madelintosh Tosh Light which is a heavy fingering weight yarn. I wanted to knit a brand new version in my Nua yarn. However Nua is a sport weight yarn so the gauge won’t be the same.

I did a gauge swatch and found that I got 14 sts instead of 16 sts per 4″ in the lace pattern. Fortunately the row gauge seems to be the same which will make calculations just a little easier! When I’m done I’ll do a new version of the pattern in the new gauge. As an added bonus it’ll mean that it knits up that much faster!

Ravi Junior


A few months ago I knit a new version of Ravi Junior in Angry Monkey. The beautiful model is Evin’s little boy (photos by Evin also).

This sample took just over 2 skeins of yarn and it makes such a cute baby gift!

Nadia’s Akoya

Nadia has been busy knitting up a version of Akoya in Nua (Bare Necessities). She’s just getting started with it but I think even with the ribbing it is going to be so lovely in this natural colour!

Secret Nua


Well as the title says – this is a secret knit… I’m really happy with how the collar turned out so I’ll just give you a small peek of that.

Santa Rosa Plum Colour Choices

Last summer Santa Rosa Plum was the spring KAL. The cardigan for the KAL was knit in a custom gradient from Blue Moon Fiber Arts but there were a few single colour versions that were just beautiful (you can see all of them here). The gauge for this cardigan is the same as for Nua yarn so I want to get a sample knit in Nua. However I keep swinging between doing a single colour and putting a Nua gradient together. What do you think? Here is a potential colour choice.

Sugarcane KAL
The yarn shipment for the Sugarcane Cardigan KAL is on it’s way to me right now so I should be able to start shipping the preorders out by the end of the week! Are you joining in? Still lots of time to get your yarn order in.
The discussion is starting already on the ravelry group here and I’ve put a little video together discussing choices for finishing the collar.

My Brand New Shop & KAL

Did anyone notice that I have a brand new online shop? This something I’ve been thinking about and planning for most of the last year. I wanted a way to simplify the purchase process for knitters once I had physical products so that both physical and digital can all be done in a single shopping cart. The system we’ve put in place does this and we’ve got the extra special bonus of being able to add your pattern into your ravelry library after checkout!

As well as having a single shopping cart I also wanted the patterns to be more searchable. With this system I’ve just tagged every pattern with it’s attributes so you can search using all sorts of different criteria. For instance if you just want dk weight patterns – find them here.

Do you want just cables? Take a look here.

As a designer and knitter this makes me inexplicably happy. It’s almost like rediscovering all my patterns anew, remembering lost treasures.

As a way of christening the new shop I’m starting a brand new Spring KAL; Sugarcane Cardigan. This is set-up like my previous KALs, with the pattern initially going on pre-sale while you gather your yarn and start swatching. Then each clue is released every 2 weeks with support on the ravelry board here. The only difference now is that you can choose to buy the pattern either on my shop or through ravelry and I’ve got the option to preorder yarn for a cardigan kit.

So a little bit about the cardigan; it’s a top down raglan with a gentle v-neck shaping. The lace at the back is initially a 2 row simple repeat until the bottom of the yoke and then it becomes a full lace pattern. The waist shaping is worked at the back between the lace panels but I’ve given a modification to move the shaping to the side. The sleeves are given in both 3/4 sleeve (as pictured) and long sleeve options. The front collar is pictured as a shawl collar with I-cord edging and integrated buttonholes. I’ve got a few more option as well; a narrow collar with an open front or omitting buttonholes and using a Jul or shawl pin closure. Lots of fun stuff to discuss on the forums so come on and join in!

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