Monday, November 10, 2014

Lazy Knitter Scrap Tam recipe: a use for deco bind-off FLB + introducing some shaping tricks for bringing order out of chaos

The Lazy Knitter Scrap Tam is one of my go-to scrap recipes. It works for all size humans: children, women or men, and features an "unvention" shown in the previous post: the deco bind-off Fake Latvian Braid (FLB).
Blue/green scrap tam with deco bind-off FLB

Beige/multi scrap tam with deco bind-off FLB

Going beyond the deco-bind off FLB, however, this tam is full of tricks. For one example, shown below are three (!) different tricks you can use to divide a random number of stitches for evenly-spaced decreases, regardless of whether the stitch count was evenly divisible in the first place --"order out of chaos" is my private name for this range of tricks.

This tam's first name is "Lazy" for a good reason--no particular measuring or gauge is required, and very little stitch counting, yet the recipe will make a custom tam to fit anyone, and it's all done using scrap yarn. Specifically, this recipe allows for a one-size custom fit, meaning the tam is made for the head of the wearer, regardless of yarn or gauge. The only requirement for fitting is that the wearer's head be available for try-on at the end of the first step.

Yarn/gauge
As a scrap project, I use whatever is laying around.  However--truth in advertising-- although I've made a bunch of these (10? 12?), I've always used yarn in the DK/worsted/aran range.  As you'll see with the blue/green tam featured in this post, yarns of different weights can also be mixed.

Choose the yarn of which you have the most as your theme color--the band and all the FLB rows are knit from this color.  A single theme color unifies a scrap project--the human eye delights in repetition--so it'll look carefully planned out.  One contraint:  as discussed more below, if you're mixing yarn weights, the heavier yarn has to be used for the lower part of the tam.

The beige/multi tam is made of Dale Garn Heilo DK, a long-fiber, somewhat scratchy but very hard-wearing yarn--the tam in the illustrations is over 10 years old and gets significant wear every Wisconsin winter. I used around 50 grams of beige for the theme color and scrap-ish amounts of the other four colors: blue, gold, green and rust.  The tam was knit over the course of a year or more.

The blue/green tam is knit of Lana Grossa Bingo for the band and bottom two stripes.  I had only a limited amount of Bingo--one ball of blue, which I used for the theme color, and one and a half balls of green (the limited amounts of yarn is why this was a scrap project). The top of this tam is knit of Heilo in a matching color. Bingo is a soft, thick superwash wool--very splitty, biases easily.

Scrap project: Bingo to the left, Heilo to the right: two very different yarns, in very different weights, but the color match is pretty good


From this view, you can see that the tam-top in Heilo is a slightly different color than the stripes below in Bingo.  The difference in stitch gauge is evident too (same stitch gauge, but different row gauge, due to the Bingo being "pushed" (compressed) to a smaller stitch gauge than recommended by the manufacturer.
Stiff-ish long-fiber wool yarns like Heilo make quite a structured hat, especially when knit tightly. By contrast, yarns with low body and a soft hand-- alpaca or "silky-type" acrylics, for example--create a rather slouchy snood-type result, especially when knit rather loosely. To make a stiff-ish tam out of the Bingo, I worked it tightly--6 stitches to the inch instead of the recommended 4/in.  In other words, I treated the Bingo like a DK yarn, working it at the same gauge as the Heilo, then knit the Heilo at its normal gauge to match, as best as possible.
  
Pro-tip 1--combining yarn weights
When you "push" a yarn to a different gauge, the stitch count will match that of a yarn normally knit at that gauge, but the row count will almost certainly exceed that of a yarn normally knit at that gauge, as shown in the photo above. As is explained further below, the lazy knitter's tam recipe depends on the gauge of the band and the bottom stripe being proportional. So, if you choose to combine yarn weights, the heavier one must be used for the hat band and lowest stripe. This means you have to have scrap yarn at least two different color yarns in the same weight. Either the heavier or lighter yarn can be used for the second stripe, the top for sure can be made in the lighter yarn. It is for this reason that the blue/green tam has the band + the bottom two stripes knit in the heavier Bingo, while the lighter Heilo reserved for the hat-top. 

Needles
Straight needles can be used to knit the band, but you'll need some form of circular needles (short circ, long circ-magic-loop style, dpn) to work the rest. 

Finished Measurements
This is custom one-size, fitted as-you-go. The size stems from the base diameter of the bottom band, which you fit by simply holding it around your head until it meets your personal ideal of tightness.

It is possible that the hat will change measurements after it has been blocked, and this is especially so if it is knit loosely, or is of a silky hand, such as alpaca.  All I can say is this is meant to be a scrap project, so your experience with the main project will guide your result here--if your sweater made with this yarn stretched all to heck, then make the tam tighter, expecting it will grow, just as the sweater did.  Alternatively, consider knitting quite tightly indeed--stiff fabrics change less in gauge upon blocking than do loosely-knit ones. 

Method
Band is knit flat (back and forth), the rest of the tam is worked circularly on stitches picked up through the long edges of the bottom band.  

This tam is called the "lazy knitter's tam," and below, the recipe is offered in narrative form. In the narrative are links to all the different little tricks which allow for a polished finished product without a lot of forethought at the front end. 

Bottom Band
Taller band effect
Width
With the theme color (beige=lady's multicolor tam, blue tweed=man's blue/green tam) cast on enough stitches to knit a double-wide bottom band. Both of the sample tams have a band 25 stitches wide, which makes the band a lot higher when knit in Bingo (the blue/green tam) than in the Heilo (beige/multi tam). How I settled on this number is lost in the mists of time.  This number works for me, but vary it any way you like--a quite narrow band will make more of a beret, a taller band will give more of a Scotch Bonnet effect.

The bottom band, knit flat.  The dotted line = fold line

When folded in half lengthwise (along the dotted line) this fabric becomes the bottom band of the hat.

Texture pattern
Broken rib pattern on outside of bottom band
The beige/multi tam has a broken rib pattern on the outside of the band.

Here's the reasoning: When I knit circular, the knitting is nice and even, but when I knit flat, the knitting tends to row out. Rowing out is hard to disguise with steam blocking, but steam blocking is much faster than wet blocking, so I would always rather steam block if I can get away with it (remember, "lazy" is this tam's first name). Therefore, for the bottom band outside--the part that shows--I chose a near stockinette fabric which disguises rowing out --the broken rib pattern.

The band on the blue/green tam is pure, straight stockinette.  This is because even so mild a pattern as broken rib was "too fancy" for Mr. TECH (he is a sad disappointment in the fashion department). This, of course, required extra attention to avoid rowing out. (In knitting--and cooking, too--it's ironic: a really good "plain" sometimes takes more care than "fancy").

I did get away with adding a small contrasting stripe of Fake Latvian Braid (FLB) to Mr. TECH's blue/green tam, applied through both layers near the bottom of the band with  green-colored sock yarn. The FLB was structurally required: the yarn from which the band is knit (Bingo) tends to bias exceedingly, and the FLB stopped that trick cold. Mr. TECH objected to the "fancy trim" but had to accept that without it, the hat would have been unwearable.  The fact that the FLB was in a contrasting color was not required: I didn't tell Mr. TECH I could have worked the FLB in a blue sock yarn and thus made it invisible against the blue band--a knitter has to have SOME fun, after all. (And no, Mr. T. never reads the blog.)

Fold line/outside edges
On the beige/multi tam, the fold line is defined by a line of slipped stitches. In other words, the fold line was constructed by slipping the middle (13th) stitch of the headband, every front-side row. On the blue/green tam, as stated above, the fold line was not knitted-in, but was afterwards defined by the FLB of green sock yarn. There are other methods, too, for making a fold line, such as an Elizabeth Zimmermann afterwards- inserted phoney seam or any other method you can think of--or for a narrow beret-like band, no fold line at all--the narrow band forms a roll.

The long outside edges of the bottom band were knit with a slipped-stitch selvedge. This makes picking up the stitches in the next step easier.

Fitting
As this bottom bands grew lengthwise, I kept fitting it around the wearer's head until, when folded in half the narrow way (along the column of the 13th stitch) and pinched shut, it fit the way the wearer preferred: not too loose, not too tight. In fact, it might be best to pin the band shut and wear it around for a while--what seems comfortably snug at the outset may end up feeling very tight after wearing for a while. This is pretty nearly all the measuring required for this tam. (Lazy, again.)

Joining/storing
Once the band is a long enough rectangle, the ends are kitchener-stitched, resulting in a circle of fabric which looks like a double-wide ear band, as shown by the zig-zag below. If Kitchener-stitching is not your thing, work a three-needle bind off--the seam will be hidden inside the band.



The last step in preparing the band is to fold it in half the narrow way to form a double-thick, half-width band, with the texture pattern, if any, to the outside.


If knit as a true scrap project, then at this point, the project is ready to be put into a bag with the theme yarn and a note about which size needle was used, there to rest until some more scrap yarn in the same weight as the band shows up. (BTW: storing the band folded helps set the fold.)

First Stripe
Picking up live stitches through the band
Now comes a rather unusual procedure.  To prep the bottom band for the first stripe, hold the folded bottom band lengthwise, then use the theme (band) yarn to pick up the stitches through band-top.  In the above illustration, this edge has been folded to the outside--it is the dark selvedge. Because this long edge was knit with a slipped selvedge, picking up stitches is easy--each edge stitch is two rows high, making for a nice, large loop to pick up through.  I find it easy to pick up through the front arm of the stitch with a crochet hook, then transfer to a short circ (14"), but this is utterly knitter's choice: any method of circular knitting will work--dpn's, magic-loop, two-circs, whatever, so as you pick up the stitches through the front arm of the slipped selvedge, transfer them to your needle of choice.

Next, you repeat this process with the bottom (inside) selvedge--the lighter gray ring on the above illustration. However, this time, you pick up through the back arm of the slipped selvedge. The ultimate result is two (circular, dpn, whatever...) needles, arranged in concentric circles, each with the same number of newly-picked up stitches.

Change colors and join front and back of band into one continuous round


Pro tip 2--offsetting the round beginnings
The previous post in this series offered a pro-tip about offsetting the round beginnings and endings--offsetting reduces bulk and eases working in the ends.  Rather than repeat all that, here's a linky which takes you directly to that tip.  As offsetting applies to this recipe, at this point where you change colors to knit a stripe is the spot to work the offset by slipping a few stitches in either direction before you start working with the new color yarn.

In the next step, you change color and knit together the front and back of the band.  This is a variant of three-needle bind off. Specifically, using the new-color yarn, knit one stitch from the front needle, then one from the back needle, continuing in this alternate manner until the band has been knit shut.

The below photo shows the method in progress on the blue/green tam's band--each of the two circs at the band top has the live blue stitches picked-up through its respective band-edge, while the third needle, the active needle, carries the green stitches being used to knit the band shut. 

Knitting the band shut by knitting one picked-up stitch from each band edge, alternately


Not only does this trick knit the band shut, but it also corrects the stitch count to what is required for a tam. Even though we picked up only 1 stitch for each two rows, the fact that we did it twice (once on each long edge of the band) yields what amounts to a 1:1 pick up: one live stitch to be knitted up for each row of the band. Specifically, like most (all?) non-garter stitch fabrics, the band’s gauge has more rows per inch than stitches per inch. Therefore, a 1:1 pickup rate makes for a fabric wider in the stripe than the headband.

Further, this rate of pickup makes the first stripe reliably larger than the bottom band (as is required by a tam) regardless of what yarn you work, as long as the yarn for the band and bottom stripe are the same weight, are knit at the same gauge, and this is true regardless of the actual circumference of the bottom band. (This is the reasoning behind pro-tip 1, above.)
Stated otherwise, a 1:1 pick up through the long edges of the bottom band automatically yields a correctly sized increase of the bottom stripe over the headband without having to do any figuring at all. (Lazy again.)

At the end of this pick-up round, all your picked up stitches have been knitted together in the new color.  In other words, this joining round is also the first round of the first stripe. 
When you come to the end of this first round, work a jogless join. This prevents an apparent jog where the end of the first color round meets its own beginning. A jogless join in this context means nothing more complicated than simply slipping the first stitch of the new color when you come back around to it.  On every round thereafter, simply work normally, right around. In total, you work 10-12 color rounds in this first stripe.

The number of actual rounds you choose depends on the yarn: in DK, I work 12, in worsted/aran weight, 10.  The general idea is to get a stripe somewhere in the range of 1 1/2 inches high. If you prefer a roomier tam, as for a long hair worn up, by all means add rounds.


Bind off first stripe using deco-bind-off FLB
At the end of the first stripe, bind off using the deco bind off FLB. Once again, offsetting is a good idea, and so is avoiding a jog in the bind off. I used the "pretty good" method for the last stitch of the chain bind off to avoid a jog in the bind off.

Binding off the first stripe using the theme color (same color as the band)

After the bind off, the project can go back into its bag with the FLB yarn, there to rest again until more scrap yarn shows up.

What the tam looks like at the end of the first stripe
Second Stripe
Pick up live stitches through the FLB to provide the basis for the second stripe. The written instructions and a diagram are at this link, the photo below shows what this looked like IRL on the blue/green tam.

The red dotted lines show how the live stitches were picked up through the deco bind-off FLB
As with the first stripe, slip the first stitch of the stripe color when you come to it to prevent jogging.

On the third round, decrease all the way around by k5, k2tog.  I promise you that starting 2/3 of the way around, I fudge the decrease spacing to keep the decreases more-or-less even--no way do I trouble my lazy brain to come out with a correctly divisible number of stitches in the pick-up process, nor has this lazy disinclination to count and figure ever resulted in a noticeably lopsided tam. (All this laziness has to be paid for later, of course, but we will deal with it in good time...)

Work this second stripe the same number of rounds high as the first stripe. Then, just like the first stripe, bind off.

Below is a sketch of where the hat is at this point, as well as a photo showing the hat at this point IRL.

What the tam theoretically looks like at the end of the second stripe


What the tam actually looks like at the end of the second stripe

 Tam Top
As with the previous two stripes, the pick up through the bound-off FLB is worked in the same color as the FLB.  Before we go further, however,  a little theory.

Smoothing the decrease points--two tricks
The default decrease for a flat-ish top on a hat is 8 stitches decreased every second round. However, if we were to establish 8 decrease points at the beginning of the tam-top and immediately begin decreasing, we would end up with a tam which looked like it were topped with a stop sign--not a good look. We'll use two tricks to minimize this unfortunate look.  First, we'll move the decreases away from the very edge of the stripe, which smooths the decrease points out somewhat.  Therefore, we'll work two rounds plain without any decreasing, insert our makers on round 3, then work the first decrease as we knit round 4.

Moving the decreases in from the stripe edge smooths out the points, yes, but decreases have a tendency to propagate through the fabric regardless, so more trickery is required. Our second smoothing trick, therefore, is to double the number of decreases to 16 in the first (and only the first!) decrease round, switching to the default 8 decrease rounds thereafter.  This works because to the human eye, a 16-sided figure (a hexadecagon!) looks a whole lot more like a circle than an 8-sided one does.

However, this leaves us with the somewhat tricky proposition of inserting 16 evenly spaced markers on whatever random number of stitches we happen to wind up with at marker-insertion time.  It also requires that we distinguish between the two kinds of decrease when we insert the markers.  The below instructions assume you're using a red marker for the 8 decreases which will continue up the hat, and a white marker for the 8 intermediate decreases which are worked only once. (Such markers are really easy to make out of a slip-knotted loop of yarn inserted between stitches.)

In theory, we'd now divide the hat top into 16-stitch wide sections headed by red markers, and each of these sections would be further divided  by a white marker inserted at the half-way point. The net result would be some number of sections marked with a red marker, each section 16 stitches wide, with a white marker at the half-way point of each.

Order out of chaos: marker insert, or "how to evenly divide an uneven number of stitches"
Theory over, now comes the reality. Except by the most lucky of accidents, you will not have an even multiple of 16 stitches on your needles.  We have been knitting in the laziest possible manner, without measuring or counting a darn thing, so this laziness must now be offset with trickiness as we prepare to insert the red and the white markers.

We have several tricks in our arsenal to work with, and which we choose depends on how our stitch count relates to the nearest multiple of 16. There are four possible situations.
  • First, your stitch count could be anything between 1 and 7 stitches LOWER than the nearest multiple of 16.  If that is the case, you would use TRICK A just after slipping a red marker. 
  • Next, by luck your stitch count might actually be a perfect multiple of 16.  If that is the case, you need not use any tricks, simply insert the stitch markers in an alternating red-white pattern, evenly spaced, 8 stitches apart, however many times around your needle. 
  • Third, your stitch count might be anything between 1 and 7 stitches HIGHER than the nearest multiple of 16.  If that is the case, you would use TRICK B just after slipping a white marker
  • Fourth, your stitch count might be exactly half-way in between two multiples of 16.  If this is the case, use TRICK C on the white markers.
This is summarized in the below table based on some some common stitch counts you might expect to find in hat-knitting. (Click to enlarge.)


TRICK A: the FAKE DECREASE trick
Although you wouldn't normally need to do this, it is entirely possible to work a k2tog  (knit two together) followed IMMEDIATELY by a nearly invisible increase.  This looks for all the world as if you had decreased in pattern, although, of course, subtracting a stitch and then immediately adding one back means the stitch count remains the same.  This trick works because the decrease shows more than the increase--see for yourself, below is a closeup.

Fake decrease, closeup
In this recipe, the fake decrease trick is only to be used in sections headed by the red markers, because in those locations, a fake decrease will be followed two rounds later by a real decrease, and this actual decrease will propagate through the material.  This will eventually create the eye-fooling 16-sided figure despite your fake-decrease trickery two rounds earlier.

Trick A in action
Suppose you have 110 stitches.  This is stitch count appears in the FAKE DECREASE column of the table, so that's the trick to do.  You're TWO stitches off the perfect multiple. This means that on two different (and separated) red decrease sections (sections headed by a red marker) you'll work the fake decrease trick.

See, if you had 112 stitches, you could insert 14 markers 8 stitches apart (7 sections of 16, each of those sections divided into a red-marker 8-stitch-half and a white-marker 8 stitch-half, for a total of 14 markers). However, since we're two stitches short, and since we're going to work Trick A on the red markers only, then, as we work round 3 inserting markers, we choose two red-marker sections at random (not next to one another, however) and on those sections, we'll insert the following white marker 7 stitches away from the red marker, rather than the normal 8.  We mark these special sections where the stitch count is off by KNOTTING the tail of the red marker.

At the end of round 3, we have divided our 110 stitches into 12 regular sections--7 white and 5 red--of 8 stitches each, and two special red-knot sections of 7 stitches each, and all the makers will be inserted in an alternating red-white pattern, with the two red-knot sections not adjoining.

On the actual decrease round (round 4), every time you come to a marker, whether red or white  you'll slip the marker, then work a k2tog.  However, on the two red-knot sections, you'll work a k2tog followed immediately by an m1.  At the end of your decrease round (round 4) you'll have 16 sections, each of which is now 7 stitches wide--12 of those sections will have been decreased from their original 8 stitches by means of the k2tog you worked, and the other two sections--the red-knot sections--will be 7 stitches wide because the fake decrease trick left them unchanged at their original 7-stitch width.  Tada! Trickiness has provided a work-around, and we get an even spacing despite having started with a random stitch count--order has been brought forth from chaos.

TRICK B: the K3TOG trick
It is possible to decrease three stitches into 1 (k3tog)  rather than the more usual two stitches into one (k2tog). K3 tog is worked the same exact way as k2tog, just starting one stitch further in.  Below is a closeup of the finished result.

k3tog, closeup
So, if we count we count the stitches and find we are a few stitches ABOVE the nearest multiple of 16, we can get rid of these extra stitches via a k3tog instead of a k2tog, spacing the k3togs so they aren't right next to one another, as best as possible.  This trick is worked only on the white (intermediate) markers.

Trick B in action:
Suppose you have 149 stitches. This is stitch count appears in the "K3tog" column of the table, so that's the trick to do.  You're FIVE stitches off the perfect multiple. This means that on five different (and separated) white decrease sections (sections headed by a white marker) you'll work the k3tog trick.

See, if you had 144 stitches, you could insert 18 markers 8 stitches apart (9 sections of 16, each of those sections divided into a red-marker 8-stitch-half and a white-marker 8 stitch-halfhalf, for a total of 18 markers). However, since we're five stitches over, and since we're going to work Trick B on the white markers only, then, as we work round 3 inserting markers, we choose five white marker sections at random (as well-spaced from one another as possible) and on those sections, we'll insert the following red marker 9 stitches away from the white marker, rather than the normal 8.  We mark these special sections where the stitch count is off by knotting the tail of the white marker.

At the end of round 3, we have divided our 149 stitches into 13 regular sections--4 white and 9 red--of 8 stitches each, and five special white knot sections of 9 stitches each, and all the makers will be inserted in an alternating red-white pattern, with the five white knot sections as well spaced as possible. Note that with 5 special markers, you can't space the special sections evenly around the brim, but try not to get them all on the same side of the tam.

On round 4 (the actual decrease round) every time you come to a knotted white marker, you'll slip that marker and work a k3tog, rather than a k2tog. After round 4, you'll have 18 markers, each of which is 7 stitches apart. Again, trickiness has provided a work-around, and we get an order from chaos despite having started with a random stitch count.

TRICK C: the trick to use if you are 8 stitches off a multiple of 16 (halfway between)
If you are halfway between multiples of 16 (8 stitches away from the next higher AND the next lower multiple of 16), insert the red and the white markers, but work the first decrease ONLY on the white markers, then begin the red marker decreases on the very next round.  This decreases away only 8 stitches at the white makers in the first decrease round, rather than 16, but, because  an additional 8 stitches are decreased away at the red markers only 1 round later, the 16-sided figure is still created, fooling the eye into thinking circle, rather than octagon.

As far as marker-placement for trick 3,  you place the red marker following each white marker one stitch further apart than the white marker following a red marker. This extra stitch in a section headed by a white marker is decreased away in the first (white-marker only) decrease round, leaving the 8 red markers all spaced equally apart.

Decreasing after round 4
Regardless of which trick you used, as you knit round 5, remove all the white markers--they marked a once-only decrease location. On round 6, and every even-numbered round thereafter, decrease at each red marker by slipping the marker, then working a k2tog. On odd-numbered rounds, knit all the way around with no decreases. Thus, you revert to the default decrease of 8 stitches every second row, which makes a fairly flat hat top.

If you are working with a short circular needle, at some point, your stitch count will decrease so far that dpn's, magic loop or two-circs will have to be used.


Alternate ending #1: Kitchener-stitched tailored top


Kitchener-stitched tailored top


Kitchener-stitched tailored top, in real life.  Quite elegant. no?

To make an elegant tailored as on the blue/green tam, the red-marker k2togs continue until there is one stitch between each decrease (16 total stitches).

Pro-tip 3--a truly flat top
If you want a truly flat hat top, switch to smaller needles when there are 5 stitches in each section.  This creates a variant on the "truly flat top" for a ribbed cap. 

The final 16 stitches are divided onto two dpn's and these two sets of 8 stitches are Kitchener-stitched together, which can be done with a knitting needle.


Alternate ending #2: I-cord tassels 




I-cord tassels on tam top

I-cord tassels in real life

To make an tassel-top as on the beige/multi tam, the red-marker k2togs continue until the tam top is reduced to two stitches between each decrease (so, 3 stitches for each section, 24 stitches total over the eight sections). Next, the tam is chain-bound-off in the FLB color (beige in the beige/multi tam). As with the previous stripes, the following round is picked up through the chain bind off= 24 stitches. Next, a round was worked in the color you've selected for the I-cord tassels, which is rust in the sample tam.  the following round is decreased randomly via k2tog's to 15 stitches. Holding all but three stitches on a scrap yarn stitch holder, the three stitches left live are put onto a dpn and worked into a 3 stitch I-cord of random length. * Again 3 stitches are slipped off the holder onto a dpn and worked into an I-cord of random length. The process is repeated from * until all 15 sts are converted into 5 various-length I-cords. The top of each I-cord is knotted to give each I-cord a cute little ending and add a little heft (this entire process is a variant on I-cord tassels).  A few running stitches were taken between the cords to connect them at the bottom and tame the tendency of the I cords to spread, and the hat is done.


Finishing
Skim in the ends on the inside. You are now ready to block. The entire blocking process is shown in the below photo.

Blocking a tam in 3 steps-find a plate of the correct size, insert the plate and soak, stand to dry on a pedestal made from a tall glass, remove plate when tam is dry
Begin by finding a plate (mint green in illustration) in your desired tam-top size.

Pro-tip 4--blocking forms
For a tam, a full-size dinner plate usually does the trick, but if not, thrift stores are a great resource for cheap-o plates in all sizes.  Or, cut a blocking form from a flexible cutting board--a pack of these are handy for cutting out blocking forms for many small objects: tam-blockers as well as sock- mitten- and even glove-blockers.

The plate can be somewhat larger than the dry tam top, or the same size, but not smaller. Find also, a tall glass, stable enough to support the plate (red in illustration).  Fit the plate, convex (bottom) side up, inside the dry tam, then wet the tam-plate sandwich by submerging in a sink partly filled with lukewarm water, as shown.

Once the tam is utterly soaking (a few minutes, at least) remove the tam from the water, turn the works upside down, then place the glass under the plate so the tam is suspended with even its bottom band clear of the underlying surface. Pat and smooth the tam over the plate, stretching it to fit evenly, if necessary.

The FLB between stripes 1 and 2
is the widest part of the tam,
block accordingly
The FLB between stripes 1 and 2 is the largest part of the tam, so that's what runs around the rim of the plate.

The tam will now drip dry on its pedestal.  Annoyingly, this takes a day at least, since the plate slows the drying time. It is best to leave the tam to dry over a thick and thirsty towel on a waterproof surface--a tile floor or kitchen counter. When utterly dry, remove the plate and the tam will be smoothly blocked.

If you choose to add a  pom-pom, these are attached after the blocking process is over.

Pom pom added to tailored (Kitchener-stitched) top


Pom pom in real life

Pro-tip 5--pom poms and washing
Pom-poms on hats are best removed before washing--a washed pom-pom looks awful.  Therefore, sew your pom pom down using a different color yarn-it only takes a few big stitches to tack down--and this makes it easy to snip free for washing.  Or, you know, use a safety pin. Lazy, yes. The kind for emergency button repair, with a bump halfway down are best, just be sure the metal of the pin penetrates the solid heart of the pom-pom. 

Good knitting
--TLK (the L stands for "Lazy.")

PS:  here's the Ravelry Link for this tam.  As time goes by, perhaps there will be other examples of this tam for you to look at. 

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fake Latvian Braid, deco bind-off version, perfect for scrap projects (Applied color knitting, part 2)

Fake Latvian Braid: Why a bind-off version?
The previous post introduced Fake Latvian Braid (FLB). Today's TECHknitting shows "deco bind-off FLB." Although they look the same, they're worked differently, and are good for different things.  Regular FLB is perfect for adding color afterwards, while deco bind-off FLB turns out to be very good for unifying and protecting scrap projects knit as-you-go. Those horizontal beige lines on this tam?  Those are today's trick worked on a scrap project.

Lazy Knitter's Scrap Tam.  The horizontal beige lines dividing the stripes, which give the tam its distinctive look, are made with deco bind-off FLB
(This tam is one of my go-to FLB bind-off scrap projects, works for men and women.  The recipe will appear in the next post--it is called the "Lazy Knitter's Scrap Tam.")

This tam was knit over the course of more than a year. Each stripe was added as the scrap yarn became available, then bound off, waiting for the next stripe.  To my mind, this approach has advantages over the usual kind of scrap knitting. 
  • The strong horizontal feature added by bind-off FLB separates stripes of different colors (and even different yarns) while at the same time unifying the project by repetition of the horizontal element. Scrap projects look less "afterthought-y."
  • Because each stage of the project rests in bound-off condition, no needles are parked in the work, out of commission. 
  •  No loops are left trembling at the edge, getting shopworn on a stitch holder or yarn while waiting to be transferred back to a needle.  The project is neat, tidy and secure, ready for the next stage.  
  • IMHO, knitting up what you have, then binding off to await more scraps is a big improvement over having scrap yarn laying all over the place, waiting for "some day." It makes a great take-along for traveling (grab any bag with a partly-knit project, waiting to go) and a good hiatus between larger projects. 
Do you wonder why this trick has "deco" in its name? That's short for "decorative." Even though this IS a bind off, today's trick is a kind of a bind-off meant to wind up in the middle of the fabric. Stated otherwise, today's trick is a bind-off applied to decorate the fabric surface, not to form the edge of a garment. Garment-ending FLB requires a sturdier edge and more all-around finished look, and therefore has to be worked differently. Garment-ending FLB bind-off (and its sister--garment-starting FLB cast-on) will be the subjects of a future post.*

Deco Bind-off FLB: the technique
Deco bind-off FLB is a nothing more than a chain bind-off, followed immediately by a method of stitch pick-up through the chain which forces both arms of the chain to the fabric surface.  In other words, it is a decorative contrasting color bind-off in the middle of a fabric, followed by picking the stitches up again. This bind-off/pick up combo creates the decorative horizontal Fake Latvian Braid in the fabric, and it looks like regular FLB because a knitted chain bind off and a crocheted slip stitch are identical on their business ends.

Unlike regular FLB, which is an afterthought process, deco bind-off FLB interrupts the structure of the fabric.  This means you cannot drop a column through the FLB to correct errors below.  Therefore, have a good look at your fabric and fix all errors before you work this trick.  (Of course, real Latvian Braid isn't anything you'd want to drop a column through either.)


Single contrasting color (cc) bind off FLB
A contrasting color deco bind-off FLB is worked over 2 rows or rounds, each with its own step. Both steps are usually worked using the same color, but it there are alternatives for step 2, pick up, which are discussed more thoroughly below, under two-color FLB.

Step 1, bind-off:
Work a chain bind off. The result is as below.

Step 1 of deco bind-off FLB: chain bind-off worked in a contrasting color

Pro-tip 1--circular knitting
In circular knitting, the different rounds are actually coils of a spiral. Therefore, a bind-off ends one row higher than it begins. In order to avoid that gap where the end of the bind-off meets its beginning, you have to bridge over by using one of the tricks shown in this 2009 TECHknitting post.)

Step 2, pick up:
Create live loops above the bind-off FLB by picking up stitches through the bind off, this is usually done in the same color yarn as was used for the bind off, but, again, there are more alternatives given below.  The reason to use the same color yarn is so that the bottom portion of the picked-up stitches don't show through the bind off as contrasting color icky dots. I have highlighted with bright red dots on one stitch, the bottom portion which might show.  I made the pick up stitches a slightly darker blue so you could SEE them--you are free to imagine them to be the same color or different.

Step 2 of deco bind-off FLB: live stitches picked up through the chain bind-off

This bears emphasizing: because the arms of the chain are going to be the decorative element, both arms of the chain must be forced to the surface of the fabric.  Therefore, the stitch pick up is done under BOTH arms of the chain bind off, as illustrated above.

Pro tip 2--more direct pick up
In the above illustration, the crochet hook is shown picking up the stitches through the bind off, and then the stitches are placed on the knitting needle, and this is a good reliable method. However, for the impatient, it is actually faster to pick up the stitches directly with the knitting needle, if you have one with a sharp-enough point. This kind of knitting-needle pick up is easier if you hold the knitting needle on the inside of the fabric and draw the stitches through the fabric towards you.


After step 2, you switch to the color for the next stripe. To prevent a jog where the color changes, work this first row/round of the new colored stripe as a jogless join.

As to stitch count:
  • in circular knitting, assuming you bridged over the gap, you wind up with the same number of stitches as you started with. 
  • in flat knitting, you wind up with one stitch less and therefore have to fudge in an extra stitch somewhere to correct the stitch count. 
Pro-tip 3--offset your tails
As shown in the above illustrations, the yarn is held IN BACK for the bind-off, and in FRONT for the pick up. For flat work you can use a continuous running yarn for both, no problem because the cross-over from front to back can take place at fabric-edge, there to be hidden in a seam. Using the same yarn for both reduces the number of tails to work in.   

By contrast, on circular work, you cannot invisibly cross over from back to front, but must cut the yarn after the bind off, leaving those tails to the inside.  You then begin the pick up on the outside, and afterwards draw the pick up tails to the fabric back, and work them in there.  This creates 4 individual tails which have to be worked in.  If you ended your first stripe, and begin your second stripe in this area, too, you will have those tails too--a total of 6 tails to work into the same small area.  

However, help is at hand. If you followed the hint in Pro-tip 1, your bind-off is a complete circle, not a coil on a spiral, as most circular knitting is. The pick-up round  is also a closed circle, and for the same reason. Therefore,  it is possible to offset the tails by simply beginning the bind-off a few stitches over--either way--from where the stripe ended.  Similarly, you can offset the pick-up from the bind off, and the start of the new stripe from the pick-up.  All these offsets gives more room on the fabric back for tail work-in. 

For the actual working in of the tails, I suggest the skimming method, either with a sharp sewing needle, or with a knitpicker.


Two-color bind-off FLB
Step 1, bind-off:
As with single color bind-off FLB,  work a chain bind off. However, like two-color regular FLB, you have to alternate the two colors by holding both colors on the fabric back, then drawing from each, alternately. The result is as below.

Two-color deco bind-off FLB

Step 2, pick up:
As with one-color deco bind-off FLB, pick up the stitches through the chain bind off. However, now the question is: in which color shall you pick up?
  1. It is possible to pick up in two colors. Upside: icky dots tamed. Downside: this adds bulk, because the yarn color not in use is stranded behind the already-bulky two color bind off.
  2. Pick one of the colors of the bind off for the pick-up. Upside: no icky dots on at least 1 color. Downside: you may have icky dots on the other color
  3.  Pick up using the color of the stripe below. Upside: no icky dots. Downside: possible show through on the other side of the deco bind-off FLB, in other words, the first row of new stripe.
  4. Pick up using the color of the new stripe. Upside: no show-through above the FLB. Downside: possible show through (icky dots) all along the bottom of the FLB.
Pro-tip 4--minimize the bottom loop
For choices 3 and 4,  two tricks can minimize the downside risks. First, if you use a thin small needle to make the pick-up loops quite small, the wrong-color stitches of the pick-up may hide behind the larger loops of the FLB.  Second, working the FLB quite large and loose, or in a bulkier or even doubled yarn further increases the chance of hiding the icky dots.
* * *
Besides the Lazy Knitter tam, this trick is great for scrap projects or all kinds--afghans, scarves.  As stated above, it's neater, too: instead of accumulating scraps of yarn all over, you knit them up as far as you can, then bind them off, waiting for more scraps to accumulate. Your project thus sits, nicely bound off while it waits. And again, this trick also brings unity to scrap projects:  if you always use the same color to separate the stripes, the project looks more unified, as with the tam in the opening photo.

Children's sweaters are a special case of bind-off FLB: bind-off FLB offers an easy way plan ahead for "growing" (lengthening) children's sweaters.  Because kids tend to grow longer before they grow wider, adding length can add years (or at least months!) of wear to children's sweaters.

To plan ahead in this way, either start bottom-up sweaters and sleeves provisionally, then bind them off in a contrasting, decorative color OR work the garment top-down and work a chain bind off in the cc. The point is that, with both of these tricks, you wind up with a chain bind off at the bottom of the garment.

Next, pick up your ribbing stitches through the FLB. For now, you work the ribbing on these picked-up stitches, then bind off the ribbing off any way you like. Below is a schematic of a child's sweater with an FLB bind off (heavy bar above the ribbing).  The schematic also suggests that the entire sweater can be made as a deco bind off FLB scrap project (lighter gray bars).


When the kid outgrows the sweater, snip and unravel the bottom band/cuff ribbing. In my experience, this yarn is so worn it gets tossed, so pull out all the ribbing, or nearly all: you could choose to leave the first round, where the stitches were originally picked up through the FLB. If you do choose to leave the first round, I suggest tinking quickly, and remounting the stitches via the trick shown in this video. Otherwise, just pull the entire ribbing out and do a new pick-up.

Switch to your new color (or more of the same color if you saved some) and work a new stripe to length. Again bind off with FLB, pick up for the second ribbing as you did for the first, and you'll have a longer sweater (and one waiting for you to work this trick maybe one more time). The new stripe and ribbing are shown in red, below.


Pro-tip 5--tame puckering where FLB is followed by ribbing
Work the first round or so past the pick-up in stockinette, then switch to ribbing.  A row (or even more) of stockinette before the ribbing begins helps protect the FLB from the puckering which would otherwise propagate upwards from the ribbing's corrugations.

 The advantage of using bind-off FLB over snip-lengthening is that the horizontal line of the bind off disguises the worn fabric from the new fabric to be added, and adds a decorative element to the lengthening which makes it look like less of an afterthought--especially an issue if you use a different color or even a different yarn.  It also makes reworking of a sweater for a younger sib a whole lot easier.

Naturally, ANY striped garment--adult sweaters, for example, can also be made via this trick.  You work away at them interspersed with other projects, until the scraps are used up and the garment finished, sometimes over the course of years.

* * *
As promised, the very next installment of TECHknitting blog will feature a recipe for my go-to deco bind-off FLB scrap project, the Lazy Knitter's Scrap Tam.

Not only does this tam feature the bind-off FLB, but there is a minimum of stitch counting and even less measuring, which is why its first name is "Lazy."

Until then, good knitting
--TK
* * *
*Guest editor  question:  (What's this?) 

In your mind, what topic of post should come AFTER the tam post? Which approach ("looks" vs. "technique") is the best tool slice the upcoming material into comprehensible chunks? 

Would you...
Advantage--if you wanted to go all FLB on a sweater, the tricks you'd need would be in one place, no need to flip a lot of pages in a book. For example, the garment-ending FLB would be the post after the tam post. 
  • Organize the material by TECHNIQUE? Stick with the theme of applied color. After the tam post, more applied color tricks like FLB which are added to the surface of the knitting, usually after the knitting is finished (duplicate stitch and similar).  
Advantage--if you wanted to spice up a blah sweater with SOME kind of surface decoration, all the tricks you'd need would be in one place.  Makes it easy to choose between FLB, duplicate stitch, etc. 
If you have even a mild opinion about this, leave a comment? Or take  THIS POLL? 
(This is a poll from Doodle on-line polling. You'll be asked your name--enter any name you like or "Anonymous." The two choices are laid out, choose one by clicking.)

Believe it or not, this is one of those stupid organizational bottlenecks tying.me. in. knots, so thanks for your input.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slip stitch surface decoration: Fake Latvian Braid (Applied color knitting, part 1)

Fake Latvian Braid:

Today's post: a form of horizontal surface decoration added with a crochet hook, a trick I call Fake Latvian Braid (FLB). Here is a photo of an easy little 3-row high teaser, but this barely scratches the surface: FLB can be used for many far more intricate braid patterns as shown lower in this post.


Background: Real Latvian Braid
Real Latvian Braid is a distinctive decorative element instantly associated with the famous and intricate Latvian mittens.  (Want to see 4500 pairs of Latvian mittens in an on-line gallery? For a 2006 NATO conference held in Latvia, 250+ knitters made all these as gifts for the delegates.  Funny to think a military conference would inspire such a resource.)

Real Latvian Braid looks like a bar of knitting worked at 90 degrees to the rest of the fabric--a sort of horizontal trim.  It can be worked in a single color, or in two colors, as on this mitten from the gallery, with its two lines of handsome black-and-yellow braid.

Real Latvian braid is a form of surface decoration created by a yarn stranded onto the fabric surface as the yarn travels from one stitch to another. It isn't difficult to do, here's a good video. Yet, whenever I see it, it reminds me of a similar-looking stranding you get from the slip stitch.  So, with a bow to tradition, here's a TECHknitting version of Fake Latvian Braid (FLB) based on slip stitch.

Just like real Latvian Braid,  FLB can be located anywhere in the fabric--so close to the cast-on that it look like it is the cast on, or in the middle of the fabric. Also like the real thing, rows of FLB can point right (tip of each stitch at the right) or point left. Unlike real Latvian Braid, which is knitted-in, FLB is a form of surface decoration done after the knitting is complete, making it easy to install, easy to remove, easy to re-locate.

Fake Latvian Braid (FLB) How-to
FLB nothing more than a crocheted slip stitch worked through a knitted fabric so that the two arms of the chain appear on "public" face of the garment.

Fake Latvian Braid (front)--chained appearance

The back part of the slip stitch anchors the chain, creating a dotted or "stitched" appearance on the fabric back


Fake Latvian Braid (back)--dotted or "stitched" appearance

The one-color version of this is the simplest.  It is done just as you would use a slip stitch to stabilize a knitted fabric with the exception that it is always worked from the front face of the fabric, the point of the exercise being the chain decoration.

In the step-by-steps below,
  • red dots show where the crochet hook is inserted
  • green dots show the base of each pulled-up loop
  • cc means the contrasting color yarn used to make the FLB (yellow yarn on the blue background)
Step 1: Holding the cc yarn at the knitted fabric back, insert the crochet hook into the very middle of your target stitch--right between its two arms.  Catch the cc yarn on the hook and draw the loop to the fabric surface, as shown below. This creates a loop.

FLB step 1

Step 2: keeping the loop around the barrel of the hook, insert the hook between the arms of the next stitch in the same row.  Again catch the cc yarn, again draw a loop to the fabric surface, as shown below.  This creates a new loop.

FLB step 2

Step 3: draw the new loop through the old loop.

FLB step 3

Step 4: repeat steps 2 and 3--as you draw up a new loop, the loop further down the barrel becomes the old loop.

First chain made. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for additional chains

FLB can be made rather flat, by using the same yarn for the FLB as for the garment fabric (thinner top braid). Or, you could make the FLB an almost structural element by using a heavier yarn than the one used for the background fabric, or even a doubled yarn (thicker bottom braid).

Single-yarn FLB above, doubled yarn FLB below: note these braids point left

As you see, the narrow end of the stitches the above photo point left. There's no mystery to this: the narrow end of the stitch always points at the insertion point.  To get a row of right-pointing FLB, work from R to L, as illustrated in the step by step instructions.  Yet, to change the direction in which the FLB stitches point, there is no reason to awkwardly change the direction of your slip-stitching.  Instead, rotate the fabric 180 degrees, which turns the fabric upside-down, then work the FLB in whatever direction is easiest for your handedness.  When you turn the fabric right-side up, the braid will point the other way. (See pro tip 5 for more about how to make fabric rotation easier.)

FLB can also be worked along the top of ribbing.  The great thing is, when worked along the ribbing/stockinette transition line, FLB combats flip!  In truth, I rarely PLAN to work FLB along a ribbing, mostly I trot this trick out to combat band-flip when it shows up--a true "afterthought" use.


Fake Latvian braid combats flip at the ribbing/stockinette transition line (not sure why the color turned so lurid?)

Pro tips part 1
1) If you want to combat flip at the ribbing/stockinette transition, but don't want the decorative effect, make the FLB in the same color and no one except another knitter will ever notice. 

2) This anti-flip trick is also adaptable for stockinette roll, see "uses," below.  It also has a first cousin you can use to control flipping vertical garter stitch bands.

Two color FLB
So far, all the FLB samples shown have been worked in a single color. The two-color version is not a lot more complicated. It is achieved by holding two different-color yarns on the fabric back, then alternately drawing a loop of one color through a loop of the other color. Below is a single line of alternate-color FLB at the top of a ribbing.

Two color Fake Latvian Braid at ribbing transition zone

To avoid having the running yarns twist and tangle around one another (as they always do with real Latvian Braid), hold each yarn in a consistent location (one above and one below) and draw the yarns alternately and directly.

Working a three- or more color FLB is certainly possible, also, but with each color added, the amount of bulk at the braid-line increases substantially.

Stacked FLB: Multiple-row braid trims
Here's the ultimate expression of this trick, the big payoff: intricate braid patterns made by stacking multiple rows of FLB worked in opposite directions or the same direction, in the same colors or different. All sorts of woven-looking "trim" effects are possible from stacking, below are schematics and photos.  The dark box in each schematic shows the minimum stitch and row repeat.

THREE ROW ALTERNATING-COLOR-ROW TRIM (2-way)
First up is one of the simplest--the post opened with this trim, and here is is again, this time with its schematic. This is a simple 3-row stacked design composed of alternating rows of solid color (so it's called "alternating-color-row" trim) with the middle FLB made in the opposite direction from the top and bottom ones (it's called a "2-way trim" because the rows of FLB go in two different directions).

Three row alternating-color-row trim (2-way)

Three row alternating-color-row trim (2-way)--schematic

THREE ROW 1/1 ALTERNATING COLUMN TRIM (1-way)
This trim is composed of 3 rows of FLB, each worked in the same direction (which is why this is a "1-way trim"). Each FLB is made of single stitches of alternating color (which is why each FLB is called 1/1).  The adjoining rows of FLB are stacked so that the colors line up in the columns (which is why this one is called "alternating column" trim).

Three row 1/1 alternating column trim (1-way)

Three row 1/1 alternating column trim (1-way)--schematic

FIVE ROW 1/1 CHECKERBOARD TRIM (1-way)
This trim is like the one just above with two exceptions:  There are 5 rows of 1/1 FLB instead of 3, and the rows stacked so the colors alternate in the columns to create a checkerboard.

Five row 1/1 checkerboard trim (1-way)
Five row 1/1 checkerboard trim (1-way)--schematic

SIX ROW 2/2 CHECKERBOARD TRIM (1-way)
2/2 checkerboard trim is just like 1/1 checkerboard, except that there are 2 stitches of each color, and each square is two rows high.

Six row 2/2 checkerboard trim (1-way)
Six row 2/2 checkerboard trim (1-way)--schematic


FIVE ROW 1/1 ZIG-ZAG TRIM (2-way)
This trim is the two-way version of 1/1 checkerboard trim: in this trim, the second and fourth rows go in a different direction than the first, third and fifth. In other words, the same distribution of stitches either makes a checkerboard or a zig zag, depending whether the design is 1- or 2-way.  You'll notice a little red-colorized tail of yarn at the bottom of the trim, the explanation is in pro-tip 3, below.

Five row 1/1 zig-zag trim (2-way).  Note the red colorized tail at middle  bottom.

Five row 1/1 zig-zag trim (2-way)--schematic

SIX ROW 2/2 ZIG-ZAG TRIM (2-way)
This trim is the 2-way version of 2/2 checkerboard.

Six row 2/2 zig-zag trim (2-way)
Six row 2/2 zig-zag trim (2-way)--schematic
These examples are only a tiny sample.  For one thing, these are all simple two-color geometric repeats. Changing colors between rows or adapting irregular patterns opens more possibilities. Further, as Anon has pointed out in the comments, it is also possible to switch direction with FLB mid row--a thing theoretically possible with real Latvian braid, but much easier with FLB.

Sources of inspiration for future experimentation include handwoven inkle trims, friendship bracelet designs, Norwegian-style trims. Exprimentation is low-cost. If you try a pattern and don't like it, FLB--stacked or single row--is easy to pull out.

Pro tips part 2
3) To keep the columns of stacked FLB trim from spreading, or to prevent show-through of the background color, you can use a blunt-tipped yarn needle to draw a matching-color sock yarn back and forth under both arm of the chains. To avoid puckering, watch your tension as you draw the yarn under the chains.  
Stabilizing FLB by drawing a yarn under the chains.  This particular FLB trim is the 1/1 zig zag, so the yarn is drawn under offset yarns of the same color.  For non-zig zag trims, the yarn is drawn under straight (not offset) columns.
When you do this on a zig-zag trim, as shown above, the different colors are offset in different columns. Nevertheless, the trick here is to draw the yarn through these offset columns of the same color, because that sets the zig-zag.  As an example, the needle is inserted through all the green stitches, despite the fact that the green stitches are offset one column.  The resulting track of the yarn is shown by the zig-zag dotted red line. Does it work? See for yourself: in the beauty-shot of this 1/1 zig zag above, the zig zag to the left of the colored red tail has been "set" in this way, the fabric to the right has not. 

4) It is also possible to stabilize stacked FLB from the back, as shown below.
Stabilizing FLB from the back--this is the back of alternating-color-row FLB
5) Two-way FLB is easiest to work by rotating the fabric between rows going in opposite directions. Yet, when working on rotated fabric, it's easy to mistake where to insert the hook, since stockinette fabric upside-down looks to be half-a-stitch off the way it looks right side-up. 

See for yourself: The right side-up fabric is to the L in each of the below photo-series has a little green dot in the lower R corner.  When the fabric is rotated 180 degrees (upside-down) the green dot rotates to the upper L corner.  On both orientations, stockinette fabric appears as a "V," although on the upside down fabric (green dot at upper L) the V appears a half-column over. If you were to work an FLB on rotated fabric based on the appearance of the V, the FLB would also be a half-stitch off an FLB worked on un-rotated fabric.  In other words, the stitches of adjacent FLB rows would not align in the columns. 
Right side up vs. upside down (180 degree rotated) fabric: both look to be composed of V's although the V on the rotated fabric (dotted line) is half-a-column over

You can solve this problem without having to mentally turn each V upside down if you use a quilter's magic marker (color fades in an hour) to mark the center of the stitches.  When you turn a marked fabric upside down, it's easy to see where to insert the needles: the V's upside down (^'s) are easy to pick out via the dots. 

When marked, it's much easier to see the correct insertion point: the now- upside-down V's (^'s)

Uses
  • Refresh a tired sweater without unpicking a single stitch. 
  • Correct sagging: single-line or stacked FLB trim is quite firm, so any amount of sagging in cuffs, bands or facings can be quickly, beautifully and permanently corrected.  New items decorated with FLB simply won't sag in the first place.
  • Firm up too-loose garments: add a waistband to a saggy sweater, tighten a stretched mitten.
  • Combat stretched-out seams and bands: Stretching hat bands, sagging shoulder seams and stretched out neck-backs are all gone with FLB.
  • Make a matching belt to your sweater: stacked FLB will stabilize even a narrow fabric from rolling or stretching, especially if you stabilize the fabric per pro tip 3, above, then hide the back with a facing. Alternatively, you could make FLB reversible, by working some rows on the fabric front, and some on the fabric back--when the back of a chain shows, it makes a "stitched pattern" as shown in the third photo from the top, and this could be adapted as part of your design. 
  • Combat stockinette roll: as stated above in pro tip 3, a line of FLB worked along a ribbing/stockinette boundary combats band flip.   It is also possible to tame stockinette roll with a multi-row trim right along the fabric bottom where the flip is.  How many rows/rounds you have to work depends on how bad the flip is, but a 5- or 7-row trim usually flattens out even the most determined flip. 
  • Glitz it up: Add gold and silver yarn (or even metallised embroidery yarn) on a black mohair sweater=evening wear from an otherwise plain knit. 
  • Add a trim of school colors to a solid-color store bought sweater...
* * *
Good knitting--TK

Guest Editor note: This entry is the first in a proposed book on color knitting, for which I need your help. Per a helpful comment from Gisella, each post relating to the proposed book is tagged as such (post label).

I can't thank enough, those who have written in the comments, via e-mail or Ravelry PM, offering to add your brain to the crowd-sourced editing effort (as Florapie called it).

If you're seeing clumsy phrasing, typos, mistaken illustrations or any other thing which troubles you, please let me know via the comments, Ravelry PM, or e-mail: TECHknittingAThotmail.com

The very next post will be bringing you the first actual organizational question, here in this guest editor space at post-bottom.  In the meanwhile,

THANK YOU!

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