28 Mar

tutorial – knitting the k2tog decrease

Knitting the k2tog decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

In my previous post, I showed you how to work the left-leaning skp decrease. In this one, I will tell you all about the matching right-leaning decrease, the one abbreviated with “k2tog”. This stands for “knit 2 stitches together”. It’s a very easy and very common way to reduce the number of stitches in your project and make it narrower.

Below you can find how to work this decrease, so get your materials and follow along! I’m starting with the same swatch I used in my previous tutorial on the m1bl increase.

Knitting the k2tog decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Knitting the right-leaning k2tog decrease step by step

1. First, take your project and work to the spot indicated in your pattern, where the decrease is supposed to be made. I’m making the decrease 3 stitches in, counted from the garter stitch edging on the left side of the swatch. However, because the decrease itself uses 2 stitches I have to stop to do the decrease 5 stitches from the left-side edging.

Knitting the k2tog decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Next, insert the tip of the right-hand needle into the first 2 stitches at the same time as if to knit.

Knitting the k2tog decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Wrap the yarn around the needle…

Knitting the k2tog decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. ..pull it through the stitches you inserted the right-hand needle in…

Knitting the k2tog decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. …and slip the original stitches of the left-hand needle.

Knitting the k2tog decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

And this is how to work the k2tog decrease! The result in stockinette is shown below. In this small swatch, there are three decrease rows worked every other row, at a distance of 2 stitches from the garter stitch edge.

Knitting the k2tog decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

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21 Mar

tutorial – knitting the skp decrease

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

To make shaping in your knitting possible, knowing how to decrease the number of stitches on your needles is quite important. In this post, I’m going to show you how to work the left-leaning decrease that is abbreviated with “skp”. Skp stands for “slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch”.

There are, of course, also other left-leaning decreases. Take for example the “slip slip knit” (ssk) decrease. And yes, the result is quite similar to that of the skp, but I find the latter personally much easier to work. That’s the reason I usually include the skp decrease in my patterns and add a note that instead, an ssk can be used if desired.

Below you can find how this decrease is worked, so get your materials and follow along! I’m starting with the same swatch I used in my previous tutorial on the m1bl increase.

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Knitting the left-leaning skp decrease step by step

1. First, take your project and work to the spot indicated in your pattern, where you want to make the decrease. In my case, that’s 3 stitches in from the garter stitch edging on the right side of the swatch.

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Next, insert the tip of the right-hand needle into the first stitch as if to knit…. (It is, of course, possible to insert the needle as if to purl, but this will twist the stitch mount and will make the decrease look like a twisted stitch.).

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. … and slip it onto the right-hand needle without actually knitting it.

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Next, we are going to knit the second stitch. To do so, we start with inserting the right-hand needle into the first stitch on the other needle as shown below.

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. Wrap the yarn around the needle…

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. ..pull it through the stitch you inserted the right-hand needle in…

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. …and slip the original stitch off the left-hand needle.

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

8. Next, insert the left-hand needle into the second stitch counted from the tip of the right-hand needle…

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

9. And pull it over the first stitch from the tip on the right-hand needle to complete the decrease. Do you see how it slants to the left?

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

And this is how to work the skp decrease! The result in stockinette is shown below. In this example, there are three decrease rows worked every other row, at a distance of 2 stitches from the garter stitch edge.

Knitting the skp decrease - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

The decreases in this particular swatch look a bit wibbly/wobbly but in my experience that mostly disappears after blocking. In lace, however, I don’t notice it at all after blocking.

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04 Mar

tutorial – knitting the m1bl increase

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

As you know, there are many options to work increases in knitting. Take for example the various m1 increases. A disadvantage of the regular m1 increase is, however, that it’s worked into the horizontal strand between two stitches in the row below. This causes the knitting to become tighter when they’re stacked over multiples rows. Especially when working in stripes or garter stitch, this can cause the lines to become distorted.

And that is where the m1bl increase comes in. The m1bl increase is also known as “Make 1 with Backward Loop” or the “Backward loop increase”. And when worked correctly it’s almost invisible! This is due to the fact that it doesn’t use yarn from the row below, but is given its own amount to be formed. Also, the m1bl increase can be used to either increase mid-row or cast-on stitches at the end of the row. The m1bl is basically the same as the thumb method of casting on, also known as the “single cast-on”, “e-wrap cast-on” or the “backward loop cast-on”.

Directional increase

The m1bl increase is a directional increase. This means there is both a left-leaning and a right-leaning version, which mirror each other when used together. This can be very useful in projects where paired increased are needed and it may be visually pleasing to be symmetrical. Think for example of both sides of a top-down triangle shawls spine, or bust shaping in a garment.

Sometimes there is no indication of a direction given in the pattern, usually denoted by plain “m1bl”. If that is the case, you can choose which version you like best, or easiest to make. Often I don’t bother using both versions of the m1bl increase. I mean, it’s so invisible on its own!

In my patterns you can find the following description for the m1bl increase:
Make 1 with a backward loop (m1bl): With your thumb, make a backward loop with the working yarn over the right-hand needle and pull to tighten.

Below you can find how this increase is worked.

Knitting the left-leaning m1bl increase step by step

1. Take your working yarn and loop it as shown in the picture below, with the yarn going to the project in front.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

2. Next, insert the tip of the right needle from back to front through the loop.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

3. Pull the yarn snugly around the needle.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

4. On next row when you come to the loop added, purl (as shown here for stockinette) or knit (for garter stitch) as usual.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

Knitting the right-leaning m1bl increase step by step

1. Take your working yarn and loop it as shown in the picture below, with the yarn going to the project in the back.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

2. Next, insert the tip of the right needle from front to back through the loop.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

3. Pull the yarn snugly around the needle.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

4. On next row when you come to the loop added, purl (as shown here for stockinette) or knit (for garter stitch) as usual.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

The results

And this is how knitting both right- and left-leaning versions of the m1bl increase are worked! The result in stockinette is shown below, with the right-leaning version on the right of the swatch and the left-leaning one on the left. In this small swatch, there are three increase rows worked every other row, at a distance of 3 stitches from the garter stitch edge.

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

As you can see in the below picture, the increases are fairly invisible in reverse stockinette. The same holds true in garter stitch!

Knitting the m1bl increase - by La Visch Designs

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21 Feb

tutorial – making a slipknot

making a slipknot - by La Visch Designs

I know, it seems so basic: making a slipknot to start casting on your knitting project. But that’s only because once you know how to do it, it’s easy! And yes, I know it’s possible to start casting on without a slipknot, and that it’s sometimes to be preferred because it doesn’t give that extra knot on your cast-on edge. But that’s not the point here.

Most of the times I still start my knitting projects with a slipknot, even though I know how to do it without. I guess I just like that sturdy start of my cast-on edge! In this post, I’m going to show you how to do make a slipknot around a knitting needle yourself.

Making a slipknot step-by-step

1. Loop the yarn as shown in the picture below.

Making a slipknot - by La Visch Designs

2. Next, arrange the yarn tail in such a way, that you can pull it through the first loop, like this:

Making a slipknot - by La Visch Designs

3. Insert your knitting needle as shown, underneath the arranged bit of yarn tail.

Making a slipknot - by La Visch Designs

4. Now hold both the yarn tail and the yarn going back to the ball of yarn and pull them both to tighten the slipknot around the needle.

Making a slipknot - by La Visch Designs

5. And there you have it: a lovely slipknot around your needle! You’re now ready to start casting on the remaining stitches needed for your project. You can for example use the knitted-on cast-on for this.

Making a slipknot - by La Visch Designs

Of course, it can be hard to visualize the motions needed to realize the above. For that very reason, I’ve also made a short video in which I show you how I make slipknots around my knitting needle. It doesn’t contain a spoken commentary, it’s really only to show you the motions!

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24 Jan

tutorial: garter tab CO for top-down crescents

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Many top-down shawl patterns start with a garter tab cast-on because it creates a lovely seamless start of any shawl. Most people will be familiar with this cast-on for traditional top-down triangle shawls. A tutorial on working such a garter tab cast-on can be found here. But what to do when starting a top-down crescent type shawl?

This type of shawl usually has a different increase rate when compared with traditional triangles. With the latter, the stitch count is increased by 4 on all right-side rows. With a top-down crescent though, increases are worked on both right side and wrong side rows: the stitch count is increased by 4 stitches on right-side rows and by 2 on wrong-side rows. When the wrong-side row increases are yarn overs, you get a rather decorative eyelet edge to your shawl. This makes it, however, harder to make your garter tab blend in invisibly. And this is where this tutorial on knitting garter tab CO for top-down crescents comes in!

As with all garter tabs, they can be a bit fiddly to work, especially when working with very skinny yarn. However, don’t let that deter you from knitting patterns that use this cast on: with the below step-by-step instructions and tips you are sure to master this technique.

In this example I used the following garter tab instructions, to get a 7 stitch start including 2 edge stitches on each side:

CO 2 sts and knit 6 rows. Turn work 90 degrees clockwise, yo, then pick up 1 st from the second (middle) garter stitch ridge along the long edge and twist this st 360 degrees counterclockwise, then purl it, yo. Pick up and knit 2 sts along the cast on edge. (7 sts).

Materials

Besides yarn and knitting needles I’m also using 3 removable stitch markers, one preferably in a different color or size.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

The garter tab CO for top-down crescents step by step

1. Cast-on two stitches using your preferred cast-on method. In this example, I’m using the knitted on cast-on. Place markers in each of every cast-on stitch, this will make it easier to pick them up later on. I attached them to the back legs of the stitches to keep the markers out of the way.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Work 6 rows in garter stitch (knit every row). This will give you 3 ridges.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Then turn your work – still on the right-hand needle – 90 degrees clockwise and yo.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Next, insert the remaining stitch marker in the purl bump from the middle of the 3  garter ridges along the edge.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. Use the stitch marker to twist the stitch it is inserted in 360 degrees counterclockwise (2 twists).

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. Next, insert the left-hand needle in the twisted stitch ….

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. …. and purl this stitch. The reason I’m purling this stitch here is that it makes sure that after casting on I can continue straight away with a right side row for stockinette. If you want reverse stockinette or garter stitch, this stitch should be knit instead of purled. It looks like this after this step:

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

8. Next, yo again.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

9. Turn your work 90 degrees clockwise again and pick up and knit the first marked stitch along the cast-on edge. These stitches can be a tad hard to see, but because we marked them in step 1 this really isn’t an issue.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

10. Now pick up and knit the second marked stitch along the cast-on edge.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

11. There you have it: a garter tab CO for top-down crescents! There are now 7 stitches: 2 stitches on either end which will become the garter edge stitches, and 3 stitches in the middle which will become the body of your shawl. You are now ready to start the rest of your pattern!

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

In the little swatch shown below, I’ve knitted some more rows in the following format:

Row 1 (RS): K2, (k1, yo, k1) in next st, k to 3 sts before end, (k1, yo, k1) in next st, k2.
Row 2 (WS): K2, yo, p to 2 sts before end, yo, k2.

Do you see how well this garter tab cast-on blends in? I can’t see where the cast-on ends and the rest of the shawl begins! And that’s how I like it.

Garter tab CO for top-down crescents - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

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05 Nov

tutorial: making a magic ball

Making a magic ball - by La Visch Designs

If you’re a bit like me, you’ll have loads of odds and ends of the various projects. They are of course quite ornamental when displayed in nice glass jars or vases. But how many jars of ornamental balls of yarn does one need? I mostly work in fingering weight yarn which means I’ve got a lot of ends that would combine well, ranging from a mere 2 g up to quarter skeins. Of course, the latter could be used in small projects like Fish for Amiga, but again, how many small softies does one need?

So, I thought, why not make a magic ball?!

What is a magic ball?

You may wonder what a magic ball exactly is. Well, I’ll tell you! It is a ball of yarn that is made by attaching pieces of yarn of similar weight to each other. Thus making a bigger ball out of all of the smaller yarn remains. This way a scrappy project like a blanket, cowl, scarf or shawl is made easier because there are no ends left to weave in. That’s already taken care of by combining the yarns in the magic ball!

I myself am also very much looking forward to working with my magic ball. All those memories of projects past attached to the yarns within… Below you can find what I did to make my magic ball.

How to make a magic ball step by step

1. To start, collect your bits and bobs of yarn. Make sure they’re all in the similar weight range and ideally, also of similar materials. Combining an all acrylic yarn with otherwise wool yarns will have an impact on the resulting piece if it requires blocking. And do also consider differences in drape and washing care.

In my case, they’re all fingering weight yarns with a high content of wool. Some have up to 25% of nylon, others contain a bit of silk. In general behavior, all these yarns are however quite similar.

Making a magic ball - by La Visch Designs

2. To connect the pieces of yarn with each other, there are of course various options among which the Russian join and the braided join. In this case, because the yarns all have multiple plies, I’m using the braided join. The Russian join requires a bit more attention and tools to work, but would have been my choice for connecting single ply yarns with each other.

Making a magic ball - by La Visch Designs

3. Do leave the yarn tails on! Cutting them off prematurely can contribute to the join coming undone. Just leave them be and cut any yarn ends after you’ve knitted up your magic ball and blocked the finished piece. In the below picture you can see a bit how I’m faring midway in making my magic ball.

Making a magic ball - by La Visch Designs

4. And here it is all done! Almost 100 g of yarn where there were only useless bits before. Now to think of a nice new design to use it in…

Making a magic ball - by La Visch Designs

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03 Sep

tutorial: chainless starting double crochet (csdc)

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Usually, when beginning a new row or round in a crochet project, we start with a chain 2 or chain 3 to replace the first double crochet (dc) stitch. However, a chain of stitches is much skinnier than a regular double crochet, which makes it quite visible in the resulting piece. Also, it can be hard to tension the chain just so that it exactly matches the height of the dc stitches. This can make the edge of the piece (when worked flat) less neat than desired. Fortunately, there is a solution for this: the chainless starting double crochet stitch or csdc for short.

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch DesignsThis is the perfect way to make a starting stitch that more closely resembles both the height and thickness of a regular dc stitch. Please note though, that this method is best suited for continuing in the same color yarn. When changing the yarn color, using a standing double crochet stitch instead is advised. For this, I will also make a tutorial soon!

In this post, I will show you how to work the chainless starting double crochet stitch when worked flat. Notes on how to do this when working in the round can be found below the step by step instructions.

How to work a chainless starting double crochet stitch step by step

1. To start the csdc stitch, pull up the loop on your hook approx. to the height of a regular double crochet stitch.

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Hold the elongated loop in place on your hook with your finger….

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. … and twist the hook counter clockwise down towards you, wrapping the lengthened loop around your hook. You now have the original loop around your hook as well as an extra double strand.

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Now we will continue making a double crochet as we would normally do. First, yarn over…

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. …. and pull it through the double strand on your hook. Treat it as the first 2 loops on the hook as you would while working a regular double crochet stitch.

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. Again yarn over…

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. …. And pull it through the remaining the 2 loops on the hook to complete the stitch.

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

And that’s it! Now you’re ready to continue your pattern in the other stitches of the row or round.

Chainless starting double crochet (csdc) - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Working a chainless starting double crochet stitch in the round

Using a csdc stitch when working in the round is basically the same as when working flat. The main difference is of course that in projects worked in the round, the last stitch has to be joined with the first one of the round by using a slip stitch (sl st).

This makes the process as follows:
1. Slip stitch in the top of the first stitch of the round.
2. Work the chainless starting double crochet stitch as described above.
3. Work the rest of the round.
4. Join in the round by working a slip stitch into the top of the csdc as you would with a regular dc stitch.

Other chainless starting stitches?

Not all projects are worked in double crochet of course. Fortunately, it’s really easy to also use this technique to replace the starting chains for taller stitches like the treble crochet stitch, double treble crochet stitch etc. The main thing to keep in mind is that you need
1. To pull up a loop in step 1 as described above to match the height of the intended stitch.
2. Adjust the number of wraps (step 3 as described in the csdc step by step instructions above) to match the number of “loops on the hook” with those from the intended stitch. Each wrap hereby represents 2 loops.

This technique lends itself less well for stitches shorter than the double crochet. But then, for those is the starting chain also less of a problem in looks.

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07 Aug

blocking an asymmetrical shawl

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Don’t you just love those asymmetrical shawls that are knit on the bias? I know I do! They are just the perfect shape to wear as a scarf, but without the bulk on the tails that regular rectangular scarves usually have. I’ve been getting questions about how to block such a shawl though, so I thought to make a photo tutorial about it.

In this tutorial, I will be showing you how I blocked my Scuba shawl. Scuba has a lovely scalloped edge, that is realized purely by pulling the bottom edge into points during blocking.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

What is blocking?

Before we go into details, it’s good to get clear what I mean exactly with “blocking”. Blocking is nothing more than shaping your knit or crochet pieces when moist or wet. These can be finished items or components to be sewn together. By blocking them, you can not only even out stitches, but also bring the item to the intended dimensions. The latter of course within reason!

For a sweater or sweater components blocking usually is nothing more than washing the item(s) and patting them gently into shape. Lace shawls, on the other hand, benefit from a rather vigorous blocking by pinning it stretched out as much as possible. After the piece has dried, it will hold its shape until the next washing.

Please note, that not all fibers are suited for the magic of blocking. Only natural fibers like wool, alpaca, cotton etc. as well as some viscose fibers can be blocked.
On synthetics, like acrylic, the process of wet-blocking as described in this post has virtually no effect at all. Acrylics can be blocked (“killed”) by applying heat through steam blocking or ironing, but that’s an entirely different process.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Materials needed

Since the subject of this post is the blocking off a shawl, I go for a vigorous blocking using pins. I used the following materials:

  • Blocking mats, these are usually foam mats that hold pins well. Think for example of insulation mats, mats for yoga or play tiles for children.
  • Pins, I use regular pins, but other folks sometimes prefer stainless steel T pins.
  • Wool wash.
  • A towel large enough to comfortably hold your project.

How to block an asymmetrical shawl step by step

1. First I filled the sink with some lukewarm water and added a dash of wool wash. I made sure to let the shawl rest for about 10-15 minutes to make sure the wool was completely saturated with water.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Next, rinse the wool well. Don’t use cold water for this, as “shocking” warm wool like that may cause it to felt. If your yarn bleeds dye a bit, you can add a splash of vinegar to the rinse water to help fix it. After rinsing, gently squeeze excess water out of your project. Don’t wring it! This may damage the fibers, causing breakage.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Spread out your towel and place the shawl on top of it.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Fold the second half of the towel over your shawl and roll it up like a sausage. Squeeze the roll well to transfer most of the wetness from the shawl to the towel. With bigger projects, I find it helps to actually stand a bit on it.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. Spread out your blocking mats to the size needed for your project. I prefer to do that in my work room because it can be closed off against “helping” cats.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. Spread out your shawl on the blocking mats in roughly the shape you want to block it in.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. Start by pinning the 2 outer corners. You can stretch the upper edge of the shawl out for this, but don’t stretch it to the max., we still need some slack in the fabric to accommodate stretching it out in other directions.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

8. Next, pin the entire upper edge of the shawl in a smooth curve, using approx. 1 pin every 2.5 cm (2 inches). You can, of course, pin the upper edge in a straight line, but I find a slightly curved edge sits better on the neck and shoulders.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

9. Now we pull down the bottom point and pin it to the mats. Again, don’t stretch it to the max. yet!

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

10. Now pull every other point on the left side down and pin it in a curve. At this point, you can still keep some slack in the fabric of the shawl.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

11. Next, we move to the right side of the shawl and pull and pin it down somewhere in the middle.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

12. After this, we pin down other points of the edge of the shawl on the right side.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

13. Back to the left bottom edge! Now I’m pinning the points I skipped previously, adjusting the pins already there where needed, to achieve a smooth curve.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

14. Following this, I continue pinning the right edge again, making sure to keep the same distance between pins as on the left side. I placed the weight on the blocking mat to keep it from buckling under the tension I’m putting the shawl under.

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

15. Finally, I go over the entire bottom edge again, making sure to pull it out to the max and keeping the edge in a smooth curve. I needed more weights to keep the mats in place!

Blocking an asymmetrical shawl - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

And there you have it: a beautifully blocked Scuba shawl!

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21 Jun

dyeing cotton with onion skins

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

After I finished dyeing the skeins of wool in my recent onion skin wool dyeing experiment, quite a potent dye baths were left over. A shame, of course, to let it go to waste. I decided that dyeing cotton with onion skins was in order! Fortunately, I have some, that has been lingering in my stash for years.

This cotton yarn is an unbleached coned yarn, that I originally bought for dishcloths and such. It turned out a tad too thin for that though, so it has been lingering in the stash ever since. I perfect candidate for some dye experimentation!

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Materials

In this experiment, I did not have to prepare the dye baths themselves because I used the leftover ones from my wool dyeing experiment. Also, I decided not to mordant the cotton yarn, despite the fact that I read that plant or cellulose fibers are more challenging to dye than protein based fibers like wool or silk. I also read, that there was no need to mordant cotton with onion skin dye. So I decided to take the plunge and go ahead without!

I used the following materials:

  • Cotton yarn, 4 skeins of 100 g each
  • Detergent (without enzymes)
  • Yellow onion skin dye bath (second dye bath)
  • Red onion skin dye bath (second dye bath)
  • Rubber gloves, stainless steel spoons
  • Water
  • A way to heat the pots, I just used my stove

a. Washing the cotton

1. First as explained in this post I skeined up the yarn.

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Next, I washed the cotton yarn to remove any lanolin, spin oil or other debris still present on on it. You can’t see it in this picture, but my washing water turned yellow! A very needed wash it appeared…

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

b. Dyeing cotton with onion skins

1. In the case your yarn has dried before getting to this step, you have to soak it first in  water again. In wet yarn dye distributes itself much more uniformly. About half an hour of soaking is usually enough. If the yarn is still slightly wet, you can skip to step 2.

2. In each of the dye baths, I have put 2 skeins of cotton and made sure to completely submerge all yarn. The picture below shows the yellow onion bath on top and the red onion skin one on the bottom half.

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. I let the cotton simmer for about an hour in the dye bath. Next, I let it cool down in the dye bath overnight. The picture below shows how the cotton looked next morning.

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Rinse the yarn off with lukewarm water, add a dash of vinegar kitchen to fix the color. Rinse as long as necessary until the water runs clear. Remember to put on rubber gloves, if you do not want to stain your hands! Then you can squeeze the water out of the dyed yarn and hang to dry.

And this is how my cotton looks like after it has completely dried up:

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

On the left 2 skeins of red onion skins on un mordanted cotton, and on the right yellow onion skins on again 2 skeins of un mordanted cotton. The red onion dyed yarn is now some sort of brownish cream. The yellow onion dyed yarn turned a pinkish cream. All in all, not a very dramatic difference.

I must admit being a tad disappointed with the result of my dyeing cotton with onion skins experiment. These colors give me unpleasant associations with old underwear, the type of color that, makes me look like I just crawled from underneath a rock. Was it because I used a second dye bath? An unbleached yarn? Or perhaps because I didn’t mordant the cotton beforehand?

I really don’t know. One thing is sure though: there will be a next experiment sometime in the future overdyeing this cotton!

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14 Jun

tutorial: knit rick rack rib in the round

Knit rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

I’ve written it before in this tutorial on how to knit the rick rack rib flat: sometimes a less boring finishing of a project than plain old 2×2 rib is just what the doctor ordered. In this post, I’m going to show you how to knit rick rack rib in the round.

As with the flat worked version of this stitch, the characteristic zig-zag texture is obtained by the knitting the stitches in a different order than they appear on the needle. Rick rack rib worked in the round is knitted as a multiple of 3 stitches.  The main difference with the flat worked version is, of course, that there are no WS rows when working the round.

In short, the instructions for this stitch worked in the round consist of the following 2 rounds:

Round 1: *Purl 1, skip the first stitch, knit in the back loop of the second stitch (do not slip this stitch off the needle), knit into the front loop of the first stitch and now slip both knitted stitches of the needle; repeat from * to end of the round.

Round 2: *Purl 1, skip the first stitch, knit in the front loop of the second stitch (do not slip this stitch off the needle), knit into the front loop of the first stitch and now slip both knitted stitches from the needle; repeat from * to end of the round.

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 to the desired height.

How to knit rick rack rib in the round step by step

Round 1
1. Purl 1 stitch.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Skip the first stitch and insert your needle int the second stitch on the needle in the back loop.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Wrap the yarn around the needle as usual…

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. … and pull through to complete knitting this stitch. Do not slip this stitch off the left-hand needle just yet!

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. Knit into the front loop of the first stitch that you skipped in step 2.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. Then slip both knitted stitches from the needle. Do you see how the 2 stitches combined slant to the left?

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 the end of the round.

Round 2
8. Purl 1 stitch.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

9. Skip the first stitch and insert the needle as if to knit in the second stitch on the left-hand needle. This can be a tad fiddly!

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

10. Twist the right-hand needle so that is behind the left-hand needle and wrap the yarn around.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

11. Next pull the yarn through, but do not slip this stitch off the needle just yet!

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

12. Knit the first stitch that you skipped in step 9….

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

13. ….then slip both knitted stitches from the needle. The 2 knitted stitches combined in this round produce a right-slanting result!

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

14. Repeat steps 8 to 13 to the end of the round. And this is how to knit rick rack rib in the round!

On the outside of the work, it will look something like this:

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

In case your project ends with rick-rack rib, you can bind-off after row 2 by binding off in purl 1, knit 2 pattern.

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