Friday, March 26, 2021

Provisional Primer: Reloaded

I have been tinkering with provisional sts a lot lately because I've been working on gloves, afterthought heels, and similar forms. I blogged about this topic in 2011, but I do things a little differently now. Below is a photographic guide to my latest methods for picking up provisional sts and working added parts. The main challenges we face with this technique are avoiding holes in the corners where sts are added, and also getting an even stitch count. 

My 2011 provisional primer illustrated that the live loops above and below the provisional waste yarn are offset by 1/2 stitch, and there are noticeable gaps on either side of the live sts on the top row. For this reason, I recommended picking up 1 additional stitch on each side of the live loops on top. This means you will have 1 more stitch on the top row than you will on the bottom row. 

If you want to have the same number of sts on top & bottom, this is a relatively simple tweak. When working the scrap yarn, simply do a k2tog decrease somewhere on the bottom row. In this example, the last 2 sts worked with the scrap yarn, on the far left, are worked together. 

(Alternatively you could work the scrap yarn over all sts and do a k2 on the next round over the scrap yarn, but I find that when done this way it is harder to do the next step.)

Later when you pick up sts, be sure to thread your lifeline through both sts that are worked together in the k2tog.  

When I unpick my scrap yarn, including the sts picked up in the corners on top, I have 12 top sts and 12 bottom sts.  

In my 2011 post, I kinda stopped there. But when I returned to this topic recently, I found that if I simply began working these 24 sts in the round, I'll still have holes in both corners:  

These holes result from excessive slack in the stitches, not gaps between them. So technically they can be closed by redistributing the slack into the other sts on the row. Nevertheless, I decided I needed a more elegant solution that would put less stress on the corner sts. It adds three quick steps to the process.

1. Pick up 2 extra sts on either end in the bottom row. (This means you now have 2 more sts on the bottom than you do on top, but this is temporary.)

2. As you work each of the 4 corner sts, twist them (either way, per your preference). The twist will conceal any small openings. The image below shows one of the top corner sts after being twisted. You will work all 4 in the same way (you may wish to mirror the twist direction but that's up to you). 

3. To correct the stitch count, I like to work 1 round with the 2 extra sts on the bottom, then on the next round I decrease them with a k2tog and ssk. (Note that in several of my recent glove patterns I have instructed knitters to close holes by picking up gap sts and then immediately working them with the next st, but I now prefer working all picked up sts in the first round, then decreasing on the second round.)

Round 1:

Round 2:

At this point if I continue working my 24 sts in the round, my corners are quite tidy. There is a small amount of extra slack in the corners of the top sts, but this will probably self-resolve after the first washing. 

Hopefully this tutorial will help you to work tidy finger and heel joins. Please stay tuned for more upcoming patterns from me that make use of this technique (there's your teaser!)  

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Although this is an older photo of my just-published glove pattern Handspan, it's still my favorite one of this design, because how can you resist this adorable model?  Here is my friend Gerda pictured in 2018 on my 48th birthday in her home city of Tempe AZ, where we met in grad school. I love you, my friend. <3

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Introducing the Single Strand Glove Technique (SSGT)

Welcome! It's been seven years since my last pattern, but I'm still here. :)

I hope you enjoy my latest pattern, Continuity. Here is the link on Ravelry, if you haven't just come from there:  

This pattern introduces my newest un-vention, the Single Strand Glove Technique (or SSGT). 

I have always loved gloves but rarely made them because I absolutely hate having to break my yarn into so many pieces and then deal with so many unfinished ends. This glove pattern shows you how to knit hand and all 5 fingers in a single unbroken strand. This technique can be used with any pattern that has extremities: gloves, mittens, socks with articulated toes, whatever. In principle, you feed the working yarn up through the inside of the finger tube so that you can pull it back down inside, and then you float the yarn back down to the hand, anchoring it to the side of the finger. 

Link to video of the single strand glove technique is here:

Here is the tutorial that is included in the glove pattern pictured above. 

Traditional glove patterns will instruct you to break the strand after finishing each finger, then resume knitting with a fresh strand. The ball of working yarn is on the outside of the finger, so you have to break it because it's too large to fit back through the tube.

But if you feed the working yarn through the inside to begin with, the yarn never goes onto the outside. So when you're done with that finger, instead of breaking the strand, you can float the yarn from the fingertip back down to the hand, on the inside of the glove. 

Setup: When starting each new finger, cast on 4 sts. Just before you start knitting in the round, draw a loop of the working yarn from under the needle.

Work the finger: Continue the finger while feeding the yarn through the inside. Take care to use the working end of the loop, not the ball end.

Secure the end of the finger: After you work the last sts on each finger, thread the loop of working yarn through a yarn needle and draw it through all remaining sts. Then use the needle to insert this loop-tail inside the finger. Turn the finger inside out and remove the yarn needle.

Widen the loop enough to bring the ball of yarn through the loop. Snug the loop.

Anchor the working strand: With the finger still inside out, draw a loop of working yarn through a stitch, widen the loop enough to bring the ball of yarn through, the gently snug. Two or three anchors should secure your yarn nicely before you continue working.

I hope you enjoy this technique! It has made glove knitting a much more enjoyable experience for me.