very un-queen of hearts

 

I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

THE LO-DOWN
sometime around valentine’s day, we picked up a bit of yarn that we had lying around and started futzing around to make a heart pattern.  we started with one colour knits & purls and constructed a heart motif.  being all in one shade, the heart motif is rather subtle–and, very un-queen of hearts. but we think it might make for an interesting pattern if repeated over and over again. to make it pop, one could either embroider the outline of the heart with a different coloured yarn, or use a contrasting colour with intarsia or fair isle technique. (more…)

mr. centipede’s crossed stitch

“My friends, this is the Centipede, and let me make it known
He is so sweet and gentle that (although he’s overgrown)
The Queen of Spain, again and again, has summoned him by phone
To baby-sit and sing and knit and be a chaperone
When nurse if off and all the royal children are all alone.”
– Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

 

THE LO-DOWN
this two row repeat is easy to remember and just as fun to stitch.  it makes a fun crossed stitch pattern that reminds us of its distant cousin, the wicker stitch in its relaxed form.  when stretched out horizontally, crossed-stitch is almost lacey, it kind of looks like a thick 1 cm cable connected by lacey ladders in between.  or if you really squint, a bit like a thick centipede with two thin little legs sticking out at each cross stitched segment. (more…)

cabling in the land of illusions

 

A couplet in smaller characters was inscribed vertically on either side of the arch:

Truth becomes fiction when the fiction’s true;
Real becomes not-real where the unreal’s real

– Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone: Vol 1

THE LO-DOWN

we love cables! but often times, we find that faux cabling fits life on the go a bit better (no bothering with a cable needle when riding on a train, plane or automobile).  this faux cable stitch is really a simple rib stitch with a twist — every few rows, a slipped stitch is passed over 2 knitted stitches.  as an added bonus, the back of the piece is a neat K1, P3 rib stitch — making it a cable with a neat and presentable back-side.

which begs the question: is it a cable illusion, or a really great stitch?

one more thing to note: the swatch stretches out a lot horizontally when lightly steamed.  before blocking, it measured a 4″ square. post steaming, it grew 3/4″ in width. (more…)

two laces in one

The two oaks lean apart for light.
They aren’t as strong as lone oaks
but in a wind they give each other lee.

— William Meredith, A Couple of Trees

 

THE LO-DOWN

gauge really matters when it comes to lace stitches.  on the left, we knit a lacey leaf pattern with worsted weight camel yarn on US6 needles.  the pattern ended up coming out like a  really organic cable pattern  rather than something full of holes and curves. on the right,  we re-knit the same stitch pattern on US6 needles using a bit of lace weight yarn that we had in our stash — that simple change brought out the lacy-ness of the pattern. we held the swatch up to the light so that the pattern would better pop. (more…)

double, double

Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. I: Three witches

 

THE LO-DOWN

whenever you spy seed stitch (or point de riz, as the french would say), double seed stitch is never very far behind with all the confusing nomenclature in tow.  double seed stitch is sometimes known as double moss stitch; moreover, there’s  a similar knit pattern, except that it features a “K2, P2” repeat, which sometimes goes by double seed stitch as well.  did we confuse you enough already? fortunately, double seed stitch is a very easy knit stitch — you alternate between knitting a “rib” and a “seed stitch” row.

seed stitch and double seed stitch are quite similar; however, with fewer purl bumps, double seed stitch ends up being a wee bit softer to the touch, and a tad bit more stretchy.  plus, if you stare at it long enough, and at a certain angle, it looks as if you’ve got a diagonal rib running across.  although, if you’re going after a diagonal effect, there are other stitches we would send your way.

(and yes, we’ve got macbeth on our minds. . . ) (more…)

warrior wicker

The strongest of all warriors are these two—Time and Patience.

– Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy, War and Peace

THE LO-DOWN

wicker stitch (aka criss cross stitch) is kind of like a hybrid between a cross stitch and a 2 stitch cable.  no cable needle is required to make this stitch; however, the tightness of the stitch does make the knitting process a bit more challenging.  the wicker pattern produces a surprisingly dense, rigid and unyielding fabric — we kind of imagine it to be perfect for making things suitable for doing battle with old man winter, an arresting area rug, or anything that needs to stand up to a lot of wear and tear.  as it is, our swatch is making for a fantastic coaster for all those pesky mugs of tea we have floating around.

the flexibility of the fabric will increase somewhat through use of a larger pair of needles.   for our swatch, we selected US6 needles with our baby camel worsted weight wool; the resulting swatch stands up straight when leaned against a wall! (more…)

seeds of time

If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 1, Sc. 3: Banquo

THE LO-DOWN

known in the US as seed stitch,  our cousins across the pond sometimes refer to this stitch as moss stitch, which back on our side of the pond, is something we call double seed stitch.  our minds go dizzy trying to keep the different names for this basic stitch straight.  we’ll just call it seed stitch for now, and it refers to a stitch where (if knitting in the round) the knit stitches are purled in the next row and vice versa.

because fabrics made with this texture do not furl, the seed stitch is a wonderful alternative to the garter stitch for borders.  it’s also pretty darn swell all by itself. the seed stitch is less stretchy and a bit thinner than the garter stitch.  it takes just 36 rows to knit a swatch 5 1/4″ in height versus 46 rows in the garter stitch.

we’re pretty much enamoured with this charming and timeless stitch, and we’re almost always knitting up seed stitch, and its close relative, the double seed stitch, on our needles! (more…)

vandermeer’s favorite

I’m a poor underdog,
But to-night I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.

Robert Frost, Canis Major

THE LO-DOWN

sturdy, unfurling and cozy, the garter stitch is vandermeer’s all-time favorite.  garter stitch is great for stabilizing stitches that curl, making high use items like dish cloths & rugs, or things to keep you wrapped up in toasty-ness like blankets, bouncy sweaters, scarves and slippers. (more…)

hyacinth girl

You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth girl.

– TS Eliot, The Wasteland

THE LO-DOWN

winter is blasting outside our windows, and we’re dreaming of hyacinths, tulips and daffodils breaking through the ground come spring. until spring really does roll around, we’re keeping warm and knitting up hyacinth stitches on our needles.  in our humble opinion, the hyacinth stitch ranks up there with things we put in the “instant gratification” category. it looks tremendously complicated, but it’s actually surprisingly simple, highly memorisable, and it just zips through the needles.  we got a swatch 6¼ inches long with just 25 rows! (we’ll do the math in a bit, but if we had to guess it would probably take 2x as many rows to achieve the same length in stockinette).

purling 5 stitches together (which you can do easily with a crochet needle) and then making 5 stitches in the same stitch are just about the only tricky bits to this swatch. (more…)

in media res

for us, the best part of knitting is neither starting or ending but being right there in the middle of things — that place where we’re kind of in the groove, where we can just start seeing a plan come together, and where there are still a lot of challenges to keep things interesting.

we’ve jumped right in, and we’re hoping that in a little bit, as we fill our cabinet slowly but surely with all the bits and pieces we’ve amassed here and there,  something careful and curious will emerge.  if we’re lucky, we’ll live up to our own hopes and dreams.  if we’re really lucky, we’ll swing up to yours as well.