Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Knitting isn’t just a winter pursuit - in search of the ideal summer cardie

A lot of people associate knitting and crochet with heavy winter sweaters but your hooks and needles can also create some lovely summer items.

Unless you live in a very warm part of the world – which the UK KnitPro team certainly don’t – summer knitwear is a must. It doesn’t need to be bulky but that extra layer is very welcome if the breeze gets up or when the sun goes down, as well as a layering garment on cooler days.

For women a summer cardie is the answer – something lightweight that can easily be rolled in a bag when not in use.

There are so many variations of the summer cardigan that there is bound to be the perfect one for you.

Yarn choice
Some fibres such as cotton, linen or bamboo are seen as “summer materials” because they are lightweight, crisp and cool. However, there is a trade off because these fibres don’t have the same spring as wool so they are at greater risk of stretching or dropping.

But don’t rule out wool. Wool is naturally breathable and temperature regulating so is still a good choice for summer especially if you use a fine yarn and a loose or lacy stitch pattern. 

Talking to people, there is no one style that is everyone’s perfect summer cardie. For some it is a short-sleeved shrug or a lacy bolero. For others it is a classic vintage style cardigan or a cropped version with long sleeves. Then there are the long draping versions that you can often wrap round you.

We have picked a few stylish examples to give you some inspiration.

The Breezy Cardigan by Hannah Fettig is a classic example of the long drapey cardigan which will work in a smooth 4-ply wool or in blends using silk or bamboo. Make something like this in a neutral tone so you can pull it on over anything from a crisp summer frock to a pair of cropped trousers. 

A short lacy cardigan is great over a dress or with a skirt. Anaheim by Andi Satterlund uses a DK cotton yarn so will have cool feel. It also shows that summer knits don’t have to be pastel, go for a colour that suits your style. 

A short-sleeved bolero will add warmth to your shoulders and can be work over a casual top or a smarter dress. This one, Ribbed Lace Bolero by Kelly Maher, also shows that thicker yarns do work for summer – this one uses aranweight cotton.

And finally, Emelie by Elin Berglund is a classic buttoned cardigan. This one uses sportweight wool but the classic cardigan can be in a range of fibres and yarn weights – find your perfect combination. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Knitter faster versus knit smoother

Lots of people talk about wanting to be able to knit faster or are impressed by other people who they see as speedy knitters.

But for lots of people who try to knit faster, it becomes as case of more haste less speed, because when they try to knit really quickly they find themselves dropping stitches , splitting yarn or making other mistakes that can add to the overall knitting time.

In fact, if you want to knit faster it is much better to think about developing a smooth, efficient knitting style which results in a steady rhythm and each stitch taking very little movement.

One of the keys is to develop a style where you don’t ever completely let go of your yarn or your needles.

This will mean finding the right style for you and practising to develop your smooth action.
There are two main knitting styles that you will come across that retain a hold of both needles and yarn – flicking and continental style

In this style, knitters 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 steady rhythm with very little excess movement.

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

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

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.

It is worth trying out both techniques to see what suits you best. You may also find that you need to adjust how you wrap the yarn on your hand, because we all have particular strengths and weaknesses in our fingers.

If is also useful to think about what sort of needles you are most comfortable using. Some people prefer long needles they can tuck under their arms, while others like working on circular needles (even for rows) because they find it easier only to move the short tips. Again, you need to find what gives you the smoothest action. 

The same is true of needle material with some zipping along on metal while other people find wooden needles help them find a steady rhythm.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Yoke sweaters

One of the big knitting pattern trends at the moment, is for sweaters with a yoke. These are usually colourwork yokes but you will also see some with lace, cabled or ribbed yokes.

It is definitely colour work that is driving the trend. This is partly because of the hand-dyed yarns that lots of people have in their stashes. A section of fair isle or intarsia is a great way of combining an interesting variegated or speckled yarn with a solid or more neutral shade and it can also be a great way of using those little gems of mini skeins you may have acquired.

Another reason for the popularity of yokes is that they reduce the need for sewing up because they are effectively knitted in one piece regardless of whether they are worked bottom up or top down.
A bottom up yoked sweater is likely to have the body and the sleeves all worked in the round and then joined for the yoke – just needing a little seaming under the arms.

In a top down version the yoke is worked first, then stitches left on holders for the sleeves while the body is worked in the round and then the under arm stitch are picked up so the sleeves can also be worked in the round.

Cardigans may have the body and yoke worked in rows or they might be made in the round with a steek section so they can be cut open at the end.

KnitPro interchangeable needles are very handy for yoked sweaters and cardigans because you can switch to longer cables (or join cables using one of our connectors) when you have a large number of stitches for the yoke and use much shorter cables for the sleeves.

In a top down version you can also leave your sleeves stitches on shorter cables with the end stoppers screwed on instead of conventional stitch holders. This can save a lot of slipping stitches of and onto needles in the course of your project.

We’ve picked out a few yoke patterns you might enjoy.

Clockwise from top left: Ola Yoke by Ella Gordon; Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter; Pinion by Christa Giles; Moraine by TinCanKnits