Tag Archives: Tutorials

The Magic Of The Garter Stitch Tab

To me, the garter stitch tab is a little bit of knitting magic. This little triangle is a handy technique to have in your knitter technique toolbox for top-down shawls and today I’m going to show you why I love it so much.

No Holes Here

When you start a top down shawl you usually start at the very centre and work increases out from that centre point. If like me you like to learn from mistakes then pick up some spare yarn, cast on 3 stitches and try to work increases either side of those edge stitches and centre stitch. You will quickly notice a gap or what seems like a hole forms from where you began working the increases. This is where the garter tab works it’s magic.

 

In a shawl pattern, you want the shawl to flow and expand in the centre so that the shawl doesn’t pull or have any gaps or holes that enlarge on blocking. The garter tab inserts a piece of fabric to allow the shawl to sit flat and drape. In a pattern, you usually see the tab written as:

 

CO 3 sts. Knit 6 rows. Do not turn on final row, rotate corner 90 degrees, pick up 3 sts along purl bumps, rotate corner 90 degrees & pick up 3 cast on sts.

 

Carol has a lovely tutorial video of this tab in action over here but I wanted to show you some patterns that use this tab to its full advantage.

 

Inspiration

 

If you want to try a pattern or two that use this technique these are a few of my favourites:

Rose Song is a quick knit lace shawl that is perfect for a last minute gift. Using bulk yarn on 8mm needles you can try out the garter tab and have a shawl in a weekend. The bulky yarn makes this a perfect choice for your first attempt at a tab as it’s easy to see the loops that need picking up when you rotate 90 degrees.

Penrose Tile

If you would like something a little more challenging then let me suggest Penrose Tile. This has a garter tab starting point using alternating skeins of yarn for the stripes which slips seamlessly into the background of the shawl upon completion leaving you with a sense of knitterly accomplishment.

Feamainn Shawl knitting pattern by Carol Feller

Feamainn Shawl

For something a little lighter this summer season, Feamainn uses laceweight yarn on 3.5 mm needles to produce a shawl with a striking lace centre panel where the garter tab is again almost invisible and allows the lace panel to sit flat at the top.

You can also inspire me by leaving a pattern idea in the comments below. What’s your favourite knitter technique that you keep in your toolbox? Is there a technique that you are having trouble with? Let me know I’d love to help.

Knitting with Rainbows – The Knit-A-Long

The Knitting with Rainbows KAL has been happening over on the Stolen Stitches Group on Ravelry. The craic has been mighty and many an accessory has been knit over the last month and I’m happy to report that as well as having some very beautiful FO’s to flash around, some very lucky people have won some yarn too! (Thanks Carol!)

Knit A Long by Carol Feller Knitting with Rainbows

In case you are new to knit-a-long’s or Ravelry (if you are go sign up here, it’s free and it’s where global knitting magic happens) then let me explain to you what happens. Carol pick’s a theme / pattern selection and we, the knitters choose what we want to knit from this and then support each other to achieve our finished objects or FO’s for short. Sometimes (more often than not) Carol has a prize for people who post a status update on her WIP thread and a prize for an FO at the end of the KAL. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Free yarn anybody?

This KAL has been impressive to me because I’ve always loved gradient yarns and this pattern collection in particular shows them off to their best. So without further a do, let’s have a look at the FO Show!

 

Hand Knit Socks in Gradient Yarn with a beautiful wave like rib pattern

Gilabbey Socks in Fivemoons Moon Phases

Socks that Rock

The Gillabbey socks pattern was a favourite and one of the first FO’s off the needles in this KAL. These are knit from the cuff down and have a rib that biases in and out to form a smooth wave that travels down the foot of the sock. Carol has some useful tutorials on increases that could come in handy when working this pattern and you can find them over here so you can pop these in your knitter tool box. I hear that the pattern was a lot of fun to knit, was easily memorised and is like a hug for your feet! I especially love these by Knitsnpurls in Oceanwind Knits Sushi Socks Gradients and I think they turned out beautifully. May you have happy toasty feet this winter Carol aka Knitsnpurls! 

Handknit socks in a grandient yarn. Pattern by Carol Feller

Gilabbey Socks by Knitsnpurls

 

Gradient Stave Hat

Handknit hat in cool tone gradient yarns, pattern by Carol Feller.

Stave Hat in Navia Duo

A change of pace in the Stave Hat with gentle colourwork it can be subtle or dramatic depending on your contrasting colour choice. The stranded colourwork technique allows you to move seemlessly between colours. Carolynba worked her Stave hat in Anzula Cricket, Malabrigo Yarn Arroyo, and madelinetosh Pashmina, proving that this is a nice little stash buster too! Carolyba also managed to knit this hat here in Ireland while on her trip (she also got to see Scotland and Germany too the lucky knitter) so this is also one for travel knitting!

Stave Hat by Carolynba

Stave Hat by Carolynba

 

Cool Cowls

Handknit gradient cowl in Dragonfly Fibers sock, pattern by Carol Feller

Arch Lane in Dragonfly Fibers Dragon Sock

Next up  is an accessory favourite of mine, the cowl. Arch Lane is the product of slipped stitches and a beautiful gradient yarn. This is a deep and slouchy cowl and perfect for burying your face in during those winter commutes. One of the best things about this cowl is that you can easily keep knitting until your gradient colours are all used up so your not wasting any of your precious yarn! 

Maggie0823 knit her Arch Lane in Color Story Colorwork Kit and I think she is very happy with how it turned out. What do you think? She mixed up her colour gradients for a more dramatic effect and I love how the green transitions from the dark emerald to the pale ice blue at her face.

Arch Lane by Maggie0823

Arch Lane by Maggie0823

Fenn’s Quay is a long cowl designed to wrap around your neck twice. It is worked in the round with a bias pattern to show off the beautiful gradient

Fenn's Quay

Fenn’s Quay

Gansai knitted this beautiful version in Townhouse Yarns Burlington Blanks. Have you ever used a sock blank? These really fascinate me as they are already knitted up and you unravel the blank to knit into your project. I have to say this turned out beautifully and I will definitely be giving them  a go.

Fenn's Quay by Gansai in Townhouse Burlington Blanks

Fenn’s Quay by Gansai in Townhouse Burlington Blanks

Vibrant Shawls
By far the shawl is always a firm favourite in KALs and this was no exception! Mardyke, Half Moon Street and Shanakiel all had knitters working away on them and I’ve tried to gather a few *drumroll please*

First up is the lovely Snowshell’s Mardyke in Fiber Optic Yarns Kashmir Paintbox Gradient and I for one drooled over the FO and the mannequin on which it is displayed. Your eye gets drawn from the light blue to the dark indigo along the length of the shawl. This is an interesting knit as it uses two biases and the wave pattern of the lace to create a parallelogram that has a wavy biased edge. Isn’t this fabulous!

SnowShell's Mardyke in Fiber Optic Yarns Kashmir Paintbox Gradient

SnowShell’s Mardyke in Fiber Optic Yarns Kashmir Paintbox Gradient

Next up we have another FO (gasp two FO’s!!) by the lovely Knitsnpurls who knit her Half Moon Street in Sweet Georgia Yarns. The contrasting colour here breaks up the colour gradients creating a string of pearls effect (thanks Knitsnpurls) that gives this shawl a beautiful texture. Not only is this perfect for showing off gradient yarns but it’s generous size allows you to wrap this around your winter coat for that added glam factor.

Knitsnpurls Halfmoon Street

Knitsnpurls Halfmoon Street

And finally we have Shanakiel which I think is one of the jewels in this collection. MissBunt knitted hers with some handspun Nebula and that’s something I didn’t even think of! I was too busy dreaming of sock gradients to consider handspun! This is a stunning shawl that is knit on the bias to allow the colour gradient and triangular shape to work at different angles to form a dramatic effect. This is truly a work of art.

MissBunt's Shanakiel

MissBunt’s Shanakiel

For all of the shawls here I think a useful toolkit tutorials would be the Russian Join for joining in new yarn seamlessly and weaving in ends as you go to speed up your finishing. Talking about toolkits, one of the things I love about Carol’s books are the interesting tips and techniques that she has photographed and thoroughly explained. In Knitting with Rainbows, Carol has a very useful discussion on the use of subtle and dramatic yarn gradients and the type of patterns that they work best with. It’s all neatly wrapped up in a convenient table too, so you can quickly reference the type of gradient yarns you have in your stash and the best pattern to start with.

Remember way back at the start of this post I said that each KAL has a winner well MissBunt and her Shanakiel was the Knitting with Rainbows KAL prize winner and take a look at what she won:

The Fabulous squishy yarn prize!

The Fabulous squishy yarn prize!

Have I inspired you to join one of Carol’s Knit-a-longs? If your up for a garment the Luwan KAL is just at the swatching stages and this is being carried out over on the dedicated KAL board. It’s always friendly and fast paced in there and Carol (and plenty of other friendly knitters) is around to help you, should the need arise.

Not up for a garment? It’s ok I understand that the dreaded but fun season of Knitmas is already on the lips of many a crafter. Hushed tones only please Halloween is first! There will be a KAL starting in the StolenStitches group on Ravelry and it will be announced soon so keep you eyes peeled. We added a News Reel thread to the group so that you can keep up with discount codes, classes and all things happening in the world of Stolen Stitches.

I’m off to plan more knits in gradient yarns that I have my eye on but which was your favourite? Leave a comment below or you can find Carol on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Till next week, thanks for reading

Nadia

(Bunnyt)

Tutorials

In a few weeks time I should have my ‘Lime with a Twist’ cardigan up for sale. This cardigan is fairly straightforward to knit but it does involve both a provisional cast on and quite a few picked up stitches.

Hopefully (if I can get someone to take photos!) I will put a tutorial on my favorite way to do both of these.
There are many different ways to create a provisional (or invisible) cast on. The method I find the easiest and use the most is the crochet cast on directly onto the needle. Bear in mind that you don’t need to know how to crochet to do this (I am not able to crochet) and it is easy to control.

Picking up stitches is very useful to feel comfortable if you want to avoid sewing knitted pieces together. To make your picked up stitches look as tidy and professional as possible you need to always ensure that you pick your stitches up in the same row – it sounds simple but it can be remarkably easy to slide across a row and it really ruins the edge.
Also with picked up stitches you want to avoid holes, two things to keep in mind are to avoid picking up where there is a big gap – if you work into more tightly knit stitches there is no give to create a hole when the piece is being worn.
Usually when you pick up stitches you are asked to ‘pick up and knit’ the stitch, when you do this you should keep the yarn as tight as you can. If you find the stitches loose you can cheat a little by knitting into the back of the next row to tighten them up a little.
The only time I have really seem only ‘pick up’ called for is with applied I-cord’. In this case just picking up the loop that the stitch will be worked through is all you do.
More (with photos) of these tutorials in the near future.