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Sometimes questions don’t arise until a project is well underway. Today we’ve selected a few different queries that have come up for folks during the course of their lace knitting journey. Our hope is that today’s final Q&A post answers will be helpful no matter where you’re at in your own lace project.

Q: I’m not ready to knit from a chart quite yet, but I want to knit a garment that only has charted instructions. Is there a way to write out the charted instructions?

A: Once you learn how to read a chart, you can translate the chart into written instructions. The example chart below is written for a piece that is knit flat (there is a right side and a wrong side of the fabric). We’ve described how to read a chart here, but the important things to remember are that charts are read from the bottom row, up and from Right to Left on the odd numbered rows (RS of fabric) and Left to Right on the even numbered rows (WS of fabric). If you are working on a chart in the round, all rows are read from Right to Left.

Each box in a chart accounts for 1 stitch. If there is a stretch of the same kind of stitch/symbol (i.e. 3 knit stitches in a row) you’d want to write them as one step. For example: Knit 3 (K3) versus writing out each individual stitch (Knit 1, Knit 1, Knit 1). This will make your knitting much faster as you won’t have to read instructions for each individual stitch. When knitting lace, you will complete increases and decreases in the same row to create the decorative pattern but maintain the same stitch count. (One benefit of reading charts is that you can see how stitches align vertically row over row, which makes it easier to catch a misplaced decrease or yarn over.)

To translate the chart below, review the Legend to familiarize yourself with the symbols and start with Row 1.

 

These written instructions correspond to the chart above:

Row 1: YO, K3, SSK, K4, P1.
Row 2: K1, P9
Row 3: K2, YO, K3, SSK, K2, P1
Row 4: K1, P9
Row 5: K4, YO, K3, SSK, P1
Row 6: K1, P9

 

Q: In addition to picking up stitches at a regular interval between ridges, are there any tricks for making sure you pickup stitches evenly along a long row of knit edging, such as with Bridgewater?

A: A technique that makes it easier to ensure your stitches have been picked up evenly and that you have the correct amount of stitches when you’re done is to measure the length of the piece and place stitch markers at even intervals along the fabrics edge. The interval will depend on how many stitches you have to pickup. Generally, it’s a good idea to place a marker every 1-2 inches. Divide the total number of stitches you need to pickup by the number of sections you’ve created. When you start to pickup the stitches, do so at a rate that will allow you to pickup that number by the time you reach the next stitch marker.

Q: Is there a difference between nupps and bobbles?

A: There is! Nupps are an Estonian technique that forms a small bump in the knitted fabric which is made by knitting into the same stitch repeatedly with yarnovers between each knit. Five- or seven-stitch nupps are usual; you could go higher, but bear in mind that on the subsequent row the nupp is closed by purling all of those stitches together. (The trick is to make those knits and yarnovers very loose, really pulling the right needle tip back from the fabric.) There’s more than one way to make a bobble, and they can be stockinette or garter based, but most methods have you knit into the front and back of the same stitch several times to create four or five stitches out of one. Then you turn and work multiple rows back and forth on only the bobble stitches to create a little pouch of fabric before binding off the extra stitches to return to your original stitch count and carry on knitting the row.

Nupps sometimes need to be coaxed to the right side of the fabric and give a subtler effect than bobbles – especially as they’re traditionally worked as a decorative element for cobweb-weight lace shawls.

 

Q: Is there a way to even out my decreases?

A: Typically tension will have the biggest effect on how the decrease lays on the finished fabric. After completing the decrease, insert your needle into the next stitch and gently pull the working yarn to tighten the decrease.  If you are experiencing this issue with a left leaning decrease, following our instructions for a modified SSK might help. To do so, Slip 1 stitch knitwise from L to R needle, replace stitch on L needle in new orientation then knit 2 stitches together through the back loops. Practicing the decreases on a swatch may also help you find the correct amount of tension before working on your garment. Also, keep in mind that knitting by hand can produce some imperfections and that’s quite alright — in fact, it’s part of the process and joy of making things by hand.

 

Q: How do you continue to pick up edge stitches if your blocking wire isn’t long enough?

A: Simply start picking up stitches with a new wire and you’ll be good to go! We recommend leaving at least a few inches of space on either end of your blocking wire in case you need to stretch out the fabric further while laying it out on the blocking mat. When pinning your wires to the blocking surface, be sure to place 1 or 2 pins at the point where two wires cross to keep them firmly in place.

 

Q: What type of surface should I block on? Where can I get the blocking board that BT uses?

A: Sadly the blocking boards that we use seem to no longer be in production, but there are many good alternatives available. The most frequently used product are called blocking mats. They are pieces of foam cut in a jigsaw formation that can be connected to accommodate the shape of your project. If the piece is very large, you can use your mattress or a clean carpeted floor. We’ve also heard of people using ironing boards for smaller projects.

If you knit a lot of hap, or pi shawls and like to build your own tools, you might consider making a stretching frame. These frames were traditionally used for blocking Shetland hap shawls. Kate Davies provides excellent instructions on how to make one at home on her blog.

 

Q: How do I weave in my ends invisibly in lace?

A: It’s best to leave long tails and weave in your ends after you have blocked your final piece. The best practice for lace is to weave in an end following the pattern as closely as you can on the wrong side of the fabric. Be sure to check your work on the right side frequently to make sure the yarn isn’t showing through the fabric. After the ends have been weaved in, gently stretch the fabric to ensure the woven in strand has the same tension as the knitted piece, and then cut the tail as close to the work as possible.

 

Q: I completed my first lace shawl and am feeling really confident, what’s a good second lace project?

A: After you have mastered the basics of lace knitting, you’ll have plenty of pattern choices available to you. Patterns that utilize multiple charts, or a larger repeat of a single chart, are a good option for a second lace pattern. We recommend Girasole, Quill and Ravine for your next project. You can also find our catalog of lace projects with an Intermediate skill level here.

Though our Summer of Lace KAL will soon be coming to an end, we continue to welcome questions about lace knitting at any time, feel free to also share with us what you’ve learned here in the comments. And don’t forget to share your projects with us on Ravelry and Instagram with #BrooklynTweedKAL and #BTLaceKAL17!

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It’s been great fun seeing everyone’s KAL progress so far! We are excited to answer some common questions that have been asked about lace knitting. There will be another lace knitting Q&A blog post on August 4th, so be sure to keep your questions coming in the Ravelry Forum and in the comments section of our blog.

Q: Which part of my lace pattern should I swatch?
A: Some patterns don’t include gauge recommendations for a charted portion of a lace project. This is usually because lace can be very fluid and can stretch quite a bit when blocked, making gauge neither precise nor necessary for the success of a project. That said, making a swatch before casting on is a good opportunity to become familiar with the lace motifs in your chosen pattern before you have to keep track of them over (potentially) hundreds of stitches. We recommend knitting a few repeats from each chart, or, if not a pattern repeat, choosing a portion of the chart that you feel the least comfortable knitting. To determine how many stitches you should cast on for your swatch, check the gauge (if listed) and cast on more than the recommended stitches over 4″ that is a multiple of the stitch pattern repeat, plus a few extra on the sides for a stabilizing border. If gauge is not listed, cast on an approximate number of stitches that will allow you to work the pattern repeat (or your selected portion of the chart) enough times to yield a swatch of approximately 4″ in width, plus extra stitches for the stabilizing side borders. After knitting a few border stitches, you could then work directly from the repeated section of the lace chart, ending your row with additional border stitches.

Q: Is it possible to increase or decrease the size of a lace project? Can I just repeat the charts?
A: Yes, it is possible to change the finished size of a lace project, and there are a couple of ways to do it based on the shape and charts used within the pattern you’re working from. If the pattern is a rectangle, like Wool Leaves or Umaro, you can simply add or subtract repeats based on the number of stitches in the chart repeat. Patterns that are crescent-shaped, circular or triangular, for example, can be easily changed by adjusting gauge. You can do this either by using a different needle size or using a different weight of yarn. Be sure to knit a swatch to ensure you like the new fabric and to calculate the new yardage requirements you’ll need to finish your project!

Q: Will my lace project be the same size if I substitute laceweight yarn for fingering weight yarn?
A: Lace patterns, particularly those with a lot of openwork, are very adaptable during the blocking process so substituting yarn can produce a fabric that is similar in size to the original. Knitting a gauge swatch in the different weight of yarn is the best way to ensure the possibility of a close match in finished size.

Do note, however, that the finished fabric will look different if the yarn weight is adjusted. Laceweight fabric will be airier and less substantial than the same shawl worked in fingering weight yarn on needles of the same size, and fingering weight fabric will likely have less drape.

Q: Is there a way to keep track of where I’m at in a row without having to count so much?
A: You can use stitch markers to mark the beginning and end of repeats in most patterns. To account for the increase and decreases in a lace pattern, however, it may be the case that the stitch marker needs to be either adjusted every round or you’ll just need to remember that there may be an additional stitch in the repeat before or after the set stitch marker.

Learning how to read your knitting can also be very helpful when it comes to keeping track of where you’re at while knitting lace. An easy way to do it is to locate reference points in your knitting. For example, when looking at your chart try matching the YOs in the previous row in relation to where you are placing YOs in your current row of knitting.

Q: Are chart symbols the same for every pattern?
Designers use many different programs and their own systems to create charts, and they may have different preferences for symbols that are more or less detailed in representing exactly what’s happening to the stitches. Carefully reading the key for your chart is critical. Make sure to refer to the specific chart legend in your pattern to ensure that you’re performing the correct techniques for the given symbols.

Q: How important is gauge for something like a lace shawl?
A: Unlike garments, lace shawls aren’t fitted so matching the exact gauge listed in the pattern isn’t necessary for the success of your project. Typically the gauge listed for lace is more of a suggestion versus other types of garments. If you want your finished piece to match the dimensions listed in a schematic, then knitting a swatch and blocking it is the best way to know if you will reach the target size and shape.

If you’re new to lace shawl knitting, it would be safe to err on the side of swatching to ensure that you will enjoy the fabric you’re about to create. Once you’re more comfortable with knitting lace shawls, you might find that getting exact gauge is of less importance to you.

Q: I need to join a new ball of yarn in the middle of my lace pattern, how can I do this without making an obvious knot?
A: If you find yourself needing to join your new ball of yarn in the middle of a row, felt splicing works great for 100% wool yarns. The Russian Join technique, a staff favorite, is another way to join yarn without making a knot and allows a clean edge for the picking up of stitches for the next section of the piece. If you have enough yarn to finish your row, you could also join the new ball of yarn at the beginning of the next row and weave in the loose ends after blocking. 

Q: How do you work a yarnover at the beginning of a row?
A: If your first stitch is a knit stitch, simply bring the working yarn to the front, as if to purl. When you knit the first stitch, the yarn will have traveled over the needle and formed a yarnover. If your first stitch is a purl stitch, begin with the yarn in back, as if to knit. This technique is used in patterns such as Brora and Rock Island and allows a clean edge for the picking up of stitches for the addition of a border.

We hope you’ve found this Q&A segment helpful! Please keep sharing your projects with us using #BTLaceKAL17 and #BrooklynTweedKAL. You can read more about the BT Lace KAL here.

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One of our favorite aspects of curating Wool People collections is the chance to collaborate with designers we haven’t worked with before. Our submissions call is open to everyone and we love seeing fresh ideas. Stacey Gerbman, Nadia Crétin-Léchenne, Rebecca Blair, Christine de Castelbajac, and Kerry Robb contributed designs to Wool People 10 for the first time, and we were smitten by their beautiful work. We wanted to feature these newly minted Wool People on the blog today and hope you’ll enjoy following them as their design careers unfold.160604_NEWS__Header

What’s your favorite detail about your WP10 design contribution?

Stacey: I am attracted to patterns that can be easily memorized because it’s meditative for me to truly relax while my hands move through the process of creating a garment. I fell in love with the simplicity and rich texture of cables, knits, and purls from the moment I finished the first swatch for the Migration cardigan.

Nadia: The fabric. I’m very fond of garter stitch. Knitted with Plains, the Scalene shawl has such a nice drape. It’s soft and springy — all that I like in a spring garment.

Rebecca: Kierson’s braided cable panels come in mirror-image pairs for a subtle touch of symmetry.

Christine: My favorite detail of Loess is the different sizes of pattern strips. They create a modern effect so people will never be bored of knitting this elegant shawl.

Kerry: Aquinnah has many little details I love, though I’m partial to the long lines of twisted rib. I think they separate the cabled elements nicely and draw the eye along the length of each piece.

 

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Any interesting techniques in the design you’d like to tell knitters about?

Stacey: Migration was the first time I used a sloped bind-off, and I am so happy with the result. This technique gives a perfectly angled shoulder seam, avoiding the stair- step effect that can happen when binding off stitches traditionally at the shoulder and underarm.

Nadia: Scalene is “beginner friendly” — all the techniques I used are really simple.

Rebecca: Substituting garter stitch as the background for a cable design is a simple but effective way to change up the look — it lends a lightness to the finished appearance, as the cables appear to float above the furrows.

Christine: You will love Indian Cross Stitch. It’s an unusual technique, but you will have a lot of fun knitting it and the subtle effect of transparency is stunning.

Kerry: I’m especially happy with the selvedges that run along the long sizes of Aquinnah. I swatched (and swatched!) and eventually landed on a version of an I-cord selvedge that suits the design very well, and it’s also fun to knit.

 

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What’s your favorite place to knit?

Stacey: I wish I could say a special corner of my studio or on my porch swing. The honest truth is most of my knitting gets done on my couch in front of my TV after my 3-year-old son is in bed. Lots of late nights watching Netflix seems to be where the majority of the work gets done!

Nadia: I’m not a “knit everywhere” person. I like to knit on the couch, in the garden or even in my bed, but I don’t knit much outside my house. I’m a homebody.

Rebecca: At my kitchen table, in the morning, with a fresh pot of coffee to hand.

Christine: My favorite place to knit is in my living room near my fireplace when the leaves are red outside.

Kerry: I do most of my knitting at home after my kids go to bed in the evening. But I think my favorite place to knit is in my studio, curled up in a wrap, and sitting in front of my sturdy little space heater. I have some nice Christmas lights draped over my workspace, and it feels like winter even in the middle of summer, thanks to the building’s always being cold.

 

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Who inspired you to start designing knitwear?

Stacey: My mother taught me how to crochet at age 8 after much begging and pleading. Once she saw how much I enjoyed the craft she fully supported me — we went on many after-work shopping trips to the local craft store so I could buy yarn to make my dolls new clothes. That never-ending belief in my creativity led me pursue a career in textile and knitwear design.

Nadia: I could name many designers, but I have a sort of “golden triangle:” three ladies that I’m admiring for their work, their creativity, sensibility and experience: Veera Välimaki, Gudrun Johnston and Ysolda Teague. I wish to be as good as they are, one day.

Rebecca: It did not occur to me until I read Sharon Miller’s magnificent reference book Heirloom Knitting that it is totally possible to rearrange and recombine different stitch patterns into any configuration, to fit into a given space or create a particular effect.

Christine: My mother. She was a wonderful woman and taught me most of my knowledge. She disappeared too early and I miss her. She would be proud of me.

Kerry: Honestly, it was yarn that inspired me to start. I taught myself to knit a couple of years ago, and everyone was talking about how much they loved superwash, so that’s what I used. But as I learned more about fiber and different breeds, I began to appreciate wool and other fibers in a new way. I’m a very tactile person, and as I began to fall in love with certain fibers and yarns, I yearned to create something new in homage to the people and animals whose work had gone into each yarn. I’m particularly passionate about yarns produced in the US, and I’m so proud to have designed something for Brooklyn Tweed.

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Since the launch of BT Fall 14, we’ve been getting some great questions streaming in over e-mail and social media. We thought it would be great to present a short Q&A today to answer some of the more common queries we’ve heard so far.

BT Fall 14 Q&A

 

The fashion world loves oversized sweaters these days, and we at BT appreciate their coziness (and also the extra large canvas for beautiful handwork). That said, we also know that these garments can be tricky to wear/style for many – so we’re focusing on that topic today (as well as the big question we’ve been getting from our male knitters!)

Q: I like my sweaters to have just a few inches of positive ease, creating a more classic fit. Which of the designs in BT Fall 14 can I knit, and how should I make adjustments if I need to?

A: Spinnaker, Docklight, Backbay, and Crosby are all designed for a standard fit bust circumferences down to 32-35”, which should allow even petite women a slim silhouette. Wake is also intended for 2-4” of ease, though we chose to show it worn with 6” for a more casual effect.

Classic Fits from BT Fall 14

Bellows and Zenith are styled in our lookbook with a lot of positive ease—9 or 10”. But again, the smallest sizes given are 35-36”, so even very slender knitters should be able to work up a sweater with a more traditional 4-5” ease. Keep in mind that both designs are intended as outerwear, with room for other layers beneath. If you are knitting a smaller size than is usual for you, consult the schematic closely to determine if you’ll need to add length, particularly in the sleeves.

Only Rowe is really intended for pure oversized drama; the smallest size in the pattern is 40¼” with the fronts touching…but don’t forget to picture those fronts overlapped and snugly bundled around you before you start plotting to scale it down even farther.

Q: I’m curious about oversized sweaters, but I’m not sure they flatter my body. How can I wear them?

A: Whenever you are increasing the scale of one garment, it’s usually a good plan to keep the rest of the outfit slim: pair wide-leg trousers with a tailored sweater or a boxy pullover with skinny jeans. Likewise, choosing a garment with slim sleeves and shoulders that fit you well will help keep a wide silhouette from looking simply baggy. Hawser and Ondawa both use this principle.

BT Fall Styling Tips

If you’re petite and large clothes tend to swamp your frame, consider an open-front cardigan like Rowe that can swing to reveal your slender shape within.

A few pitfalls to avoid: A garment that ends at the widest point of your body usually won’t be flattering. If, like many women, your hips are your widest point, make sure the hem falls at your high hip or extends to mid-thigh. Split-hem styles like Crosby may be flattering for you, too.

Q: What, no garments for men in a collection inspired by fisherman sweaters?!

A: Stay tuned – BT Men Volume 2 is in the works! In the meantime, Bellows is handsome for either sex, as are the scarves and hats in the Fall collection. And a variation on Wake could integrate into a contemporary masculine wardrobe with ease.


We hope you enjoyed today’s Q&A session – please feel free to keep the questions coming. We love hearing from you!

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