Using tape and ribbon yarn

When we took a look at summer knitting and crochet trends last week, mesh knits were among the looks we highlighted.

One way of achieving summery mesh looks is using tape or ribbon yarns with lacy or drop stitch patterns.

Tape and ribbon yarns are pretty much what the name implies flat yarns that look like lengths of tape or ribbon. They are often used on larger needles creating a light summery fabric which can be great for tops and cardigans for warmer weather.

Working with a flat yarn rather than a more usual round one, can seem a little different. The yarn will give more pronounced stitched because of its shape and will naturally want to twist as you knit so you should take care to lay your yarn flat over the needle as you make your stitches.

Choose patterns that show off the yarn using big enough needles to show the colours and texture of the yarn, rather than very delicate stitch patterns to create fun knits.

A few tape yarns and similar for you to take a look at:

 

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Knitwear and crochet trends for this Spring

Spring and summer yarns are out, summer dresses are appearing in the shops and the clocks are about to go forward, s0 it seems like a good time to take a look at the new seasons knitting and crochet fashion trends.

Colour block

Two or more contrasting colours in your summer knits are set to be a big hit this summer – you can go for strong contrasts or light and dark shades on one colour.

You can use different colours of the same yarn to achieve the look as with this Cleo dress from C+B.

Or you could use a yarn like Sirdar Colour Wheel which has been dyed to give you blocks of colour as you knit.

sirdar colourwheel

Mesh and lacy fabrics

This is a good summer to try a spot of lace knitting. This doesn’t necessarily mean tiny needles and extra fine yarns. Mesh knits in cotton tape yarns like this one in Rico Summery Ribbon.

mesh summer top

or a lacy knit in DK such as this sweater by Jenny Watson in a James C Brett yarn will also fit the bill.

Vintage stipes

Stripes are a popular choice this summer especially narrow ones or those that echo vintage garments. We think these two tops are great examples of the look.

 

Granny square

Granny squares are still enjoying a revival in the fashion stakes – if you are not sure you want a dress or a waistcoat in this technique, go for a crochet wrap like this one in Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK.

granny square qrap

Your knitting speed questions answered

Thanks to our current collaboration with ICHF Events to see how quickly knitters can complete a row of 100 stitches, for the Nations’s Fastest Knitter competition, we’ve had more than a few questions about how to knit faster.

The first thing to say is that often with knitting you can have a bad case of more haste less speed, in that when you try to knit really quickly, you can end up dropping stitches, splitting yarn or making other mistakes that mean over all your knitting takes longer.

So rather than thinking about speed, it is better to think about finding an efficient knitting style which allows you to get into a steady rhythm and where each stitch takes very little movement.

Needles

The first step is to work out what sort of needles you are most comfortable using. For some people this means using long needles they can tuck under their arms, for others it is working on circular needles (even for rows) because they find it easier only to move the short tips.

Flicking

Once you have established what needles suit you, it is time to look at how you make your stitches. If you look at the speediest knitters they have a very economical style where they don’ t move their hands or yarn much for each stitch.

One way to do this is known as “flicking”. Knitters with this style hold the yarn with their right hand and use their index finger to move or “flick” the yarn round the needle without ever letting go of the right hand needle. This allows them to work at a stead rhythm with very little excess movement.

You can see how the yarn and needles are held in this picture by Stacie of VeryPink.com who has made a video showing the technique.

knitting technique flicking

Continental knitting

Unlike in the “English” style of knitting most commonly learned in the UK, in continental knitting you hold and tension the yarn with your left hand.

The right hand needle is used to pull or “pick” the yarn through the stitch as in this video from Knitting Help.

Again this creates a very efficient movement, that allows you to knit smoothly.

Combination knitting

The main difference with combination is in how the purl is worked and the technique is often combined with the continental knit stitch.

Here the yarn is held with the left hand and scooped up through the stitch as in this diagram from Annie Modesitt.

The result of this technique is that when you come to knit your stitches on the next row, you will find they are orientated differently to usual. This means you have to work the knit stitch into the back of the loop which can affect your decreases.

It is worth trying these various techniques to find which is most comfortable and effective for you.

And if you are in Birmingham this week, why not come along to the Hobbycrafts and Sewing for Pleasure shows, where you will find us in Hall 12. Our knitting doctor can show you these knitting styles in person or you could see how fast you can knit 100 stitches.

Get creative and help Innocent’s Big Knit collect a record two million hats

This year’s The Big Knit, from Innocent, is calling knitters, crafters and creators to submit their weird and wonderful woolly designs, to make it the biggest ever. The campaign run by Innocent, the smoothie company, raises money for Age UK by asking knitters and crocheters to create hats for the drink bottle. For every bottle sold with a hat, Innocent donates 25p to Age UK to help keep older people warm and well over winter. The campaign has raised over £1.9m so far. And this year it’s aiming for the biggest knit yet with a target of two million hats.

So we have decided to help them on our stands at some of the big craft shows this spring.

And as you can see from this selection of mini hats made on our stand at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, it is possible to be very creative with 28 stitches and just and few rows.

You can find a wide range of patterns on the Big Knit website or you can use the basic beginner hat pattern as a template to let your imagination go wide. Try a new stitch pattern, create a mini sculpture or go made with colour – this is an opportunity to get creative and use up your woolly oddments

Then simply send your hat or hats with a little note of your details to The Big Knit, Fruit Towers, Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5BU.

Or find us at the Hobbycraft and Sewing for Pleasure Shows at the NEC, Birmingham, 16-19 March, to make a mini hat with our volunteers.

the big knit

Increasing with and without holes

Our yarn doctors report that one of the regular questions they are asked at yarn shows is about doing neat increases.

For most knitters, their first experience of increasing is by accident when they create a stitch and (inevitably a hole) by knitting into some part of the knitting that isn’t a stitch or by accidently wrapping some yarn round the needle between stitches.

Once they’ve learned to avoid these problems, knitters will tend to learn one type of increase but this can be confusing because different patterns can call for different increases and if you don’t understand the technique you can end up with unintentional holes.

Kfb – knit front and back

knitting increases

This form of increasing uses one stitch to make two. You first knit normally into the stitch but instead of dropping the loop off the left hand needle at the end, you knit into the back of it first, creating two stitches from one.

It is important to remember that this method uses an existing stitch to increase. It is most commonly what is meant by “inc 1” or “inc in next st” in patterns but it is important to check the pattern to make sure.

This method of increasing creates a little horizontal bar at the base of the new stitch, to the left, as you can see above. This means you cannot create exactly symmetrical lines of stitching which some designers prefer. However it is a neat increase method.

M1 – make 1 stitch

A “make 1” increase uses the space between two stitches to create a new one. The left hand needle is inserted under the “bar”, the horizontal strand of yarn between two stitches, and then you work into that new loop to create a stitch.

increased knitting

There are two ways to do this:

mi stitch

  1. Insert tip of left need from back to front of workIn this case you knit the “new” stitch normally .
    This will give you an increase that leans slightly to the right as on the right hand side of the swatch picture above.
  2. Insert tip of left need from front to back of workm-1-f2b

    In this case, you knit into the back of the new stitch, creating an increase that leans slightly to the left (as pictured above).

It is very important to work into the new stitch as indicated because this will twist the picked up yarn – otherwise you will create a small hole in your work.

The left and right leaning increases can be useful when symmetrical increases are needed. In some pattern instructions you will see these abbreviated as M1R and M1L. Always check the pattern notes to be sure you understand which version is needed.

Remember that a make 1 increase doesn’t use any existing stitches.

Yarn over increase

This is an intentional version of those accidental increases we started with.

yos

A yarn over increase is worked by simply putting the yarn over the needle between two stitches and working into it on the next row creating a new stitch with a hole below. It is most commonly used in lace and is often paired with a decrease.

Remember to always read the pattern carefully to check what type of increase ins required.

You will find our Yarn Doctors on the UK Hand Knitting stand at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at London Olympia, 2-5 March 2017