Sunday, August 19, 2012

Did you know?

Did you know that knitting improves your brain - your memory, your neurons (AKA brain cells)? Knitting slows aging and prevents memory loss. How good is that! In past years research has shown that knitting is as good as meditation for relaxation and reducing blood pressure. Now research has found that learning a new skill actually makes new brain cells to grow. And knitting is one of those skills. The lovely thing about knitting is there is always something new to learn – a new stitch, a new technique, a new cast on, a new pattern. It is good to know that it is healthy for us too.

To help you grow new brain cells, Kiwi Knitting has a host of classes for you. Here are just a few upcoming classes. Check out the Kiwi Knitting Newsletter for details and more classes.

Beginning Crochet: Crochet this scarf
                            3 session class -Wednesdays 10-12: August 29, September 5 & 12             
                                                         Or Saturdays 10-12: September 1, 8 & 16.
                                                         Or Mondays     1-3:   September 17, 24 & October 1

Beginning Knitting: Knit this scarf: 4 session class – Thursdays 1-3: October 4, 11, 18 & 25

If you know the basics then Second Steps is a 3 session class that adds new skills learned and practiced by knitting a hat. This class is on Tuesdays 10-12: August 28, September 4 & September 11

Learn more about socks. Here are a couple of the sock classes coming up”
                  Sweet Tomato Heel:  Monday, 10-12, August 27th
The perfect solution to the Second Sock Syndrome:
                               2 Socks on 2 Circs: Saturday, 1-3: September 22

Project classes are fun too. You can learn all kinds of things in just one project. Here are just a few of the many that are offered. (By the way, if you cannot make a class there are some great books available. Weekend Hats are featured here.)
Chroma Hat (AKA Fair Isle): 2 session class, Thursdays 1-3, August 23 & 27
Lea Cloche Hat: 2 session class, Fridays, 1-3, September 7 & 14.

Lace scarf class coming up this week:  2 session class Thursday 10-12, August 23 & September 6.

Whatever you chose, have fun knitting for a healthy brain.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Perfect Pairing: Knitting and Beads

I was trying to think of the best summer knitting for this blog. Then I realized - I am knitting the perfect summer project - a linen shawl with beads.

I have knit this shawl by Karen Rumpza from Interweave Knits before. The pattern is available online at Interweave Knits. The linen is strong enough to hold the 6,000 plus beads and the combination of linen and glass beads is cool to wear not to mention the sensuous drape of all those beads. This is the first one I did.

It is definitely a shawl worth repeating. For those who have never knit with beads there are different methods and very important tips.

There are four ways of placing beads in knitting. (At least I only know of four. Please tell if you know others.)

1. Bead between two purl stitches: Thread all the beads needed onto your working yarn before you cast on. You will need to continually move the beads down the yarn as you knit. You will either need to be working in Reverse Stockinette or plan to have two purl stitches together on the right side as the bead will hang between two purl stitches. When you are ready to place the bead, purl one stitch, put needle in ready to purl second stitch, place bead and purl second stitch. The advantages to this method are the bead lies straight and it is easy to place. The down side is you have to have two purl stitches for each bead.

2.  Bead in a Knit stitch: As in the above method you will need to thread all the beads needed onto your yarn before casting on and  you need to continually move the beads down while you work. When you want to place a bead in a knit stitch, insert right hand needle into the stitch as you would to knit it. Bring the bead up on the yarn to the stitch and push the bead through as you complete the knit stitch. The bead will be on one side of the knit stitch so it lies at a slight angle. The advantage is you can put beads in any knit stitch you wish. It is a bit more difficult to place the bead though. In this method and the one above the bead does not show through to the wrong side.  By the way this photo is sideways. Not exactly what I intended by it does show the slant of the beads.

3. Bead on a Yarn Over: This is the method used in the shawl. Again as above the beads need to be threaded onto the yarn before casting on  first and the beads pushed along the yarn as you knit. It is very easy to place the bead as it just goes on as you do the yarn over. The problem is the beads tend to slide around. The bead has to be anchored on the next row. Sometimes you have to decide whether to push it to the right or left and then be consistent. Even then they can wander and need pushing around until put into the right spot. Usually once the work is blocked they will stay put. The beads on yarn overs will show on both sides of the knitting.

3. Stitch pulled through bead: There is no need with this technique to thread the beads first. You will need a fine crochet hook (I usually use a 13 or 14) that can go through the hole in the bead and pull the yarn through. Practice before using this technique. Knit to the stitch where you want the bead. Put the bead on the crochet hook. Take the stitch off the needle, put the hook through the stitch and pull the stitch through the hook and the bead. I find I have to keep tension on the stitch to keep the yarn from splitting. Place the stitch back on the left knitting needle and knit or purl it according to your stitch pattern. This technique allows you to place beads anywhere, they lie straight and you don’t have to thread the beads in advance. The bead also shows on both sides. However, it can be tricky to pull the stitch up through the bead and it disrupts the rhythm of knitting. This works well when you do not have a lot of beads to place.

Tips for Knitting with Beads

1. If you are threading the beads first and you want a particular pattern to the bead placement in your knitting then note the last bead you thread will be the first bead that you will place. Thus, if you are using a chart you will need to read it backwards to thread the beads in the right order.
2. There are always a few defective beads that break or are too small to thread. Allow for some waste in buying your beads.
Bags-another good way to knit with beads

3. Use smooth yarns or threads that have some strength. Moving beads along can cause weak yarns to thin and break. The best yarns are mercerized cotton, silk or silk blends, linen and higher twisted yarns.  Lumpy yarns are difficult to get through beads and the beads do not slide well as you are kitting. You can always intersperse novelty yarns with smooth yarns if you want some texture.

4. The hole in the bead needs to be big enough for the thread to slide smoothly but not too loose or the bead will disappear in the knitting.

5. If you have problems with the bead sliding to the back of the work, twist the stitch with the bead by knitting or purling into the back of the stitch on the next row.
6. Beads add weight to the fabric. Keep this in mind when designing with beads.
7. A dental floss threader is great for threading beads on yarn. Also if the thread is a bit thick you can use a thin nylon thread on the needle and loop the yarn through that. Then you do not have to pull a double thickness of yarn through the bead.