Diagonal Herringbone Scarf

I wanted an easy project, with an easy-to-memorize pattern, that I could pick up and set down without fear of losing my place, and which would be transportable.

While I didn’t find quite what I was looking for in my usual places (my digital library, Ravelry, Pinterest), I did find some things that seemed close.

Meanwhile, I had time for a visit to my favorite LYS, River Knits, where I enjoy spending time between meetings when I am in downtown Lafayette (Indiana).  I picked up two balls of Berroco Millefiori, in color 7891 “Terra.”  This is a nice variegated yarn in a bulky (#4) size.  The color patterns looked nice, but would not show up well in a fussy pattern (lacy or otherwise).  I found a herringbone stitch that I liked, but thought that it would look too plain for the nice yarn.  I decided to make it a diagonal herringbone, and it turned out just like I wanted.

Pattern is easy:  Cast on 35 stitches (or any odd number).

  • Row 1 – Knit through front and back of first two stitches (increase 2), *Slip 1, Knit 1, pass slipped stitch over knitted stitch and knit slipped stitch.  Repeat from * to last 4 stitches, knit 2 together, knit 2 together (decrease 2).
  • Row 2 – Purl 2, Knit 1, *Purl 2 together, then purl through 2nd stitch before dropping off needle.  Repeat from * to end.
  • Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until you have just enough yarn left to bind off.  I used two skeins of the Millefiori, which was perfect for this project.

I think the herringbone stitch and diagonal format worked well with this yarn, and I really enjoyed this project. The resulting fabric is soft but sturdy and will make a nice warm gift.

Icicle

I’ve enjoyed learning the Brioche style of knitting, though it seems to take a LOT longer than traditional knitting to get the same amount of fabric.  Only “seems” because you are actually using twice the yarn, and it’s making a much loftier fabric than with conventional knitting.

Meet Icicle, by Nancy Marchant, from the book, “Knitting Fresh Brioche.”  Once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it.  It’s not exactly “mindless knitting” – you need to pay attention to what you are doing, but it is enjoyable knitting.

Practice is really the key to this style of knitting.  It has a rhythm and pace that is completely different from conventional knitting.

Yarn is important – almost in the double-knitting sense.  In fact, Brioche is a sort of double-knitting, in that you are knitting four passes (two right-side, two wrong-side) for each completed “row.”   A bulky yarn will make a bulky fabric and be harder to knit.

I used KnitPicks Stroll Fingering in colors Black and Dove Heather.  This is a sock-weight yarn that worked well enough, but might have been slightly too fuzzy for the project (and it’s not a “fuzzy” yarn).

Even after I felt comfortable with the style (and had memorized the 20-row pattern), I still managed to get off on the stitch count with frustrating regularity.  I could usually find and fix my error within the row, but I kept getting off on the last stitches of the first row in the four-row set.  I expect it was due to inattention, but sometimes, I could not “see” where the extra stitch was added (or removed).  

I take back my previous recommendation about using a size larger needle.  That was inexperience talking, and by the time I got half-way through the yarn, I wished I had used a small needle.  I think it would have made a neater finished project.

Using two skeins of each color (or 100 grams of each color, or 460 yards of each color), the final project was 10″ x 80″ – a nice length for a generous scarf.

I have a recipient in mind for this scarf – it suits his sense of style and coloring.  Since I’m still a novice at this – and the project has some flaws – I’m hesitant about giving it to him.  He’s a very stylish person, and this might be a bit too “home-spun” for him.  Maybe he’ll start a trend.

New techniques – Brioche Knitting

I like the Brioche style of knitting and wanted to make another project using this method.  Pinterest and Ravelry had the usual selection of patterns, many of which came from Knitting Fresh Brioche, by Nancy Marchant (available from Amazon).  Someone knows how to improve rankings on social media and search engines, it seems (I’m not complaining – they are lovely patterns).

I did purchase the book – partly because I wanted to study the method, and partly because there were patterns I wanted to try.

So, swatching commenced.  It took a frustratingly long time for me to get the hang of the technique.  It’s not hard – really – but it takes a tilt in thinking from conventional knitting.  I started the swatch pictured below about 6 times before I get to the point you see – and then dropped some stitches (which is where I stopped).  I felt (finally) confident enough in the technique that I moved onto another project.

One thing to keep in mind about this technique is that there are four rows for every round – one for each color back and forth.  You are knitting with Main Color then Contrast Color in succession.

Lessons learned (and learning).

  1.  Don’t use the Italian Cast-on (I’m not even going to link to it) as recommended by all the instructions (written and video) that I reviewed.  That was about 3/4 of my problem – that is too loose and unstructured for the technique (in my opinion).
  2. Use a version of double-knitting cast on.  I looped both colors of yarn together and did a long-tail cast on, but twisted the colors at each stich, so the effect was alternating colors in the cast-on, and the cast-on row had plenty of give to match the project.
  3. Set markers and pay attention to stitch count.  For some reason, it is very easy to add or subtract stitches in a row without noticing.  Markers are helpful to maintain your place.
  4. Use a lifeline.  I say this guardedly – with this style of knitting, a lifeline is very helpful.  If you drop a stitch, it is very difficult to recover.  However, even with a lifeline, it’s challenging to keep the stitches in line.
  5. Consider using a needle size larger than the yarn calls for.  I haven’t completely confirmed this suggestion, but it does make knitting a bit easier with more “room” in the stitch.
  6. Practice.  While not difficult – and there’s really only the first pattern row of each four-row set that requires close attention – I really had to practice to get my hands used to the pattern and flow of the project.

Sample below.  I’ve moved onto a project from the book, which I’ll post shortly as I get some length to share.

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Brioche Cable Cowl Completed

Finally completed!  It took no fewer than four complete “do-overs” to get onto this pattern, but once it clicked, I completed it without too much difficulty.

Things to learn –

  1.  Needle size matters – use a larger needle size than recommended – you really want a loose knit on this project, both because of the type of project (a cowl needs a lot of give) and because of the double-knitting-like feel of the project.  While you are only ever knitting with one color per row,  the style is double-sided.
  2. Pay attention to stich count and transition between rows.  Because you ar changing colors at each round, the transition needs to be smooth so it doesn’t look messy.
  3. This pattern could have been written more clearly.  Instead of referring to the sample colors, the author would have made it easier to read by referring to MC (main color) and CC (contrast color).  I never did get that straight, and – until I finally caught onto the pattern – it was confusing.
  4. Start with something simple.  While I did swatches in the brioche knitting to figure out the technique, a two-color, in the round project was maybe not the best project to start with.

I am pleased with the result, however.  The Caron Simply Soft yarn is very soft, and the project is lofty and generous.

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Easy Mistake Stitch Scarf

I’m in an easy-project mood.  My day job is getting busy (tax season), so I don’t want to have to think when I’m unwinding.  Easy-to-memorize, quick-to-complete  projects are on the docket for now.

Easy Mistake Stitch Scarf is the pattern.  The link is to a version posted on PearlSoho.

I don’t think this is the version I made.  I pulled the pattern either from Pinterest or Ravelry and kept it on my tablet, so I don’t have good history.  Once I memorized the pattern, I didn’t refer to it.

Yarn is Patons Chunky Shetland Tweed, in color Dark Forest Green.  This is technically a “stash-buster” project, because I’ve had the yarn for a long time.  I don’t think this color is available, though the product is still around.  I’m fairly sure I purchased this at JoAnn’s Fabric and Crafts.

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Modeled by my Washburn guitar. Another hobby I enjoy and never have enough time to pursue.

Something’s not right

So, I’ve started a project using the Brioche stitch I’ve been practicing.  The project is F729 Brioche Cable Cowl, by Vanessa Ewing.

From my previous post, I wrote that I was going to use smaller needles because the swatch seemed too sloppy with the recommended needle size 8 (5mm).

I switched to size 6 (4mm) for this project and started knitting.

The yarn is Caron Simply Soft Shadows in Mardi Grey.   I have two skeins leftover from a baby blanket from several years ago.  It’s a nice variegated color yarn with a solid color base twist.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the yarn is still being made.

The contrast color is a black skein in my stash that I’ve used for trim in other projects.

First, I have a suggestion to the designer – In the pattern text, she refers to the colors by their color name, rather than “MC” (main color) or “CC” (contrast color).  I rarely actually used the yarn noted in a pattern, and even if I did, I wouldn’t think of it as “Galway” or “Gina” – I would think of the yarn as “black” and “colored” or “MC” and “CC.”  It is very confusing to use the color names in a pattern!

Second, I used the Stretchy Slipknot (link to video) cast on, instead of the Longtail Cast on, for two reasons – one, the Longtail  Cast-on is a pain over a high stitch count and two, it’s not as stretchy as I think this project needs.

So, back to the project.  Below you see a fair number of rows knit up, and I think three rounds of cable stitches (which was not too bad, once I got the hang of it).  However, at this point, I’ve decided a few things –

  • Should have used the larger needle – it’s not too bad on the straight rows, but the cable row is too bunched up, and it was very tight to knit the cables.
  • I made a big mistake early on – I’m not sure what I did, but it resulted in “floats” in one row, all along on one side.  I thought that it would block out or obscure with use, but it’s still painfully obvious (to me, anyway).
  • There are a lot of other mistakes – like a few cables that go the wrong way and look odd, and it looks like I missed the count transitioning from row to row, in a few spots, which looks messy, and I think I dropped a bunch of stitches, at one point (I have no idea how that happened – I picked them up when they were found, but I can tell where it happened).  I am also fairly confident that I won’t have enough black yarn for the entire project, so I need to dive back into my stash for something else.

So, I’m calling this a “swatch” and starting over – lessons learned.

But, I think I’ll enjoy the project, and I’m looking forward to Round 2.

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Weird float mistake is on the other side -not visible in this photo.

Lucienne Scarf

Again, the Christmas confusion and the quick-knit of this project contributed to a lack of WIP photos.

This is Lucienne Scarf, a paid pattern by Katinka Designs.  I was attracted to it enough to pay for the pattern, and I don’t regret that investment.  This is a lovely and easy to work pattern.  I will certainly use it, again. My complements to the designer.

Yarn is my third color of three – Shawl in a Ball, by Lion Brand, in color Feng Shui Grey.

After three skeins, I still enjoy the look and feel of this yarn.  While “Shawl in a Ball” is nicely poetic, I really think it should be “Scarf in a Ball,” as more accurate.  All three scarves knit up to a very nice size, but would be too small for a shawl.

Here is the completed project, both blocked and as finally finished.  I really like the drape of the finished fabric, and the two recipients of the previous two scarves seemed to really like the end result.

Note my Christmas gift to myself:  Knitted Love Interlocking Blocking Mats.  As you might have noticed in the previous scarf photos, I had to use two different media to block the scarves.  This system lets me build the size of mat that suits the project.  (That said, I would probably need another set for a larger or multi-piece project like a sweater).

(Click image for large-photo slide show)