Sep 16, 2018


Two afghans are in the finishing stages. While I continue working on these tasks, it seemed like a good time to spend a moment talking about the backstory, or what things look like on the wrong side of my projects.

Lately, most projects have featured multiple colors, and numerous leftovers and partial skeins. This of course means there are always plenty of ends to weave. Now, it's a well-known fact finishing and end-weaving are not my greatest skill, and I've regularly confessed that with each project, I need to marshal all my patience and care to properly tackle this phase.

Most of the time, I choose to weave ends using a needle, because for me this gives the most polished and invisible results. Sometimes, I weave them as I go, but often, I simply wait until the end and handle them last, right before blocking.

Careful finishing is especially important, since I want scarves, shawls, afghans and home dec items to be tidy and attractive on both sides.

Because I'm slow, weaving ends takes a great deal of time and concentration. I've been experimenting, therefore, with other methods in an effort to reduce the number of ends and speed up the finishing process.

Herlacyn Heatwave is a good example. Each strip in this design produces 18 ends, for a total of 54 in the body, not counting seams and borders. Granted, there are many designs out there that produce far more, but facing that many ends in order to properly finish a project can be daunting.

To offset this, I've been trying to weave ends as I work. Above, you can see I'm picking up stitches for a seam, and at the same time, I'm weaving one of the yellow ends into the pickup (on the wrong side). 

I picked up the working yarn from behind the loose end, which traps the loose end between the working yarn and active stitch. The technique is quite simple, it just requires a bit of time and attention, and if you do it correctly, it's tidy on the back and invisible on the front.

Many knitters do this for just a few stitches which is easier, but I took a different approach. I left long tails, so the woven stitches would form a continuous (rather than interrupted) line along the edge of its matching triangle. This turns the necessity of weaving ends into a bit of a design feature, and on the wrong side, each triangle is bordered by wrapped stitches which imparts a look similar to applique.

Old habits die hard, so I'm still a bit sporadic and sometimes forget to integrate this basic step into my knitting. Other times, I simply choose to skip it, because in that instance, I prefer a more invisible approach. If your goal is to minimize the effort involved in finishing, however, weaving ends as you work is clearly the way to go.

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Sep 2, 2018

Celebrate the Fruits of Our Labor

In the US, this is Labor Day weekend, a three-day national holiday recognizing the millions of hardworking Americans whose labor keeps the economy humming. 
It seems fitting, therefore, that the afghan that's been consuming my knitting attention is red, white and blue. Last weekend, I was working to fix a frustrating fubar. Because I'd skipped several stitches in the seaming process, the two strips didn't line up as intended. You can clearly see these problems below.

This past week, I slowly, steadily and carefully, tackled the seam one section at a time. True confessions, it took me all week to accomplish this feat. (Did I mention slowly?)

The reworked seam is much, much better. It's not perfect, but there are no missed stitches and the color blocks line up properly. (The angled shot below may make that difficult to see, so you'll have to trust me on this.)

Right now, this WIP is spread out on the work table, partly so I can admire the fruit of my labor and partly so I can figure out how to finish the edges. I've always intended to add a border of some sort, but right now, I'm having an intense internal debate. Should I take a minimalist approach and add a one-row edging to stop the curl and stabilize the edges? Or, should I work a deeper border for a more traditional approach?

If you have thoughts or preferences, I'd love your feedback. While I contemplate these weighty matters, I'll be weaving ends in preparation for finishing. 

Meanwhile, wherever you are, take time to celebrate the fruits of your labor, and if you're in the US, have a relaxing, enjoyable Labor Day!


Aug 26, 2018

Small Mistake, Big Consequences

The first rule of blogging about knitting is this: Do NOT crow when a project's going well. Because if you do, all too soon you'll be back at the keyboard eating crow and confessing something (or everything) has gone woefully awry. 

Last week, I was wallowing in the pleasures of working on a project that was moving forward at a fast (for me) pace. In a handful of weeks it progressed from casting on the first strip to finishing all the strips and starting the seaming process. 

The first seam went together easily, without a hiccup and with each section lining up as intended. 

The second seam did not, and it's my own fault. It was late after a long, demanding work day, but I decided to push ahead and finish the final seam. It was a bad call, and the orange stitch marker marks the spot.

Somehow, someway, I'd managed to skip not one but several stitches during the three-needle bindoff, and that small mistake had big consequences. If you look at the picture above, you can see it. The left corner of the upper white triangle is supposed to align with the right corner of the red section, but clearly it doesn't.

The only way to fix an error of this magnitude is to frog it and redo it. So that's where things stand. I've ripped out the bindoff and the stitches are sitting there ready to be returned to the needles, so I can try again.

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