Welcome to my Blog!

Hi there, nice to have you visiting! I'm Heidi and this is the blog for Heidi Bears. Here is where I post all the happenings in my work and daily life. Here and there you'll find info on things that have caught my attention as well as the odd tutorial. I hope you enjoy your visits. I love to have feedback, so leave me a comment!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stranding yarn...a first step into the mystery of Fair Isle...

Hello friends :) Today is still a slow amble through the sock knitting world, but with a small detour...as part of the way I knit socks, I am going to take you through a very basic technique for stranding one yarn behind another. In general terms, this is the same way you would strand yarns for Fair Isle style knitting.

In the last series of posts , you saw the different ways to knit the toe of the sock, depending on the type of fit you want. Once the full number of stitches needed for the sock were on your needles, you knitted in the round using the Magic Loop, until the sock measured approximately 2 inches shorter than your foot length. I would recommend that you try the sock on to see how far from your heel it is, and whether it feels comfortable. If you still have to yank at it to make it about 2 inches shorter than your foot length, then you need to knit some more rounds. It should fit comfortably snuggly (what a word combination!). Below is a pic of my sock, at the right length, and now I am preparing to start the heel.


I have decided to do things a little differently, in order to show you how to make different coloured heels and legs/cuffs. This is by no means necessary...if you want to have your sock in one colour of yarn, then just keep knitting the heels and cuffs without adding a new yarn. My sock has been knitted in a variegated rainbow yarn, but I want them to have red heels, so I need to start making the heel using a new yarn. In the pic below, you can see that I am ready to start a new round of knitting (my working yarn is on my back needle cable, and the back needle has been pulled out to the right , so that I can use it to start knitting the new round). Now would be the time to start knitting with the new yarn, but there's something else to consider...




The variegated yarn forms part of a stripy pattern, and it would be better to avoid cutting this yarn and joining the new red yarn to it via a knot. Why? Firstly, you want to try and make the overall pattern continue in a similar way around the foot, with minimal disruption of the different coloured stripe effect. In addition, I hate knots in a sock, so I find it better to weave the ends of yarns in rather than making knots and then weaving in the ends. The knot can make a hard uncomfortable bit rubbing against your shoe. But then how do you avoid making a knot and still keeping everything tensioned correctly? In this way...


The basic idea is to strand your unused (in this case the variegated rainbow yarn), to the correct starting place for continuing to knit the rest of the sock, after the heel is completed. Remember that the heel of the sock is knitted back and forth (not in the round), firstly making short rows, then "long"rows as you join the short rows /long rows up at the sides. So you will be knitting only on one side of the sock (to make the heel), while the other side (which forms the sock part over the front of your ankle/very top of your foot), lies dormant. However, you will need the variegated rainbow yarn to be in the position at the very edge of the heel knit, in order to turn your work around and start knitting in the round again, using a Magic Loop. When that happens, you will drop the red yarn, no longer needing it.

So what exactly is stranding one yarn behind another? This refers to the "catching"of an unused yarn between the used yarn and the knitted fabric, effectively trapping it between the two (used yarn and knitted fabric) and preventing it from being snagged by something and being pulled out to make the dreaded little pop out you so hate on your garments. Think of it as "tucking "your unused yarn into bed, snug between it's layers...

This stranding technique is most used in Fair Isle and Fair Isle style knitting, where two colours (or more in certain types on Fair Isle-like Knitting) are knitted alternating with one another in a set pattern. One obviously cannot cut and make a knot every time you have to change yarn colours, so you give each a turn to knit a stitch, then put them "to bed"temporarily, etc... there are many different thoughts on how often you should tuck the unused yarn behind the working yarn...everyone does it differently. I can't stand long floaty lengths of yarn behind my knitting, so I strand every second stitch. This makes the unused yarn lengths very short and virtually unsnagable. It does have the potential disadvantage that you need to stretch your knitting slightly at the end of the row, in order to give a little " ease" to the floating yarn as you are in essence laying it straight along the length of the row (albeit behind the working yarn), and therefore your knitting can end up less stretchy. But this doesn't apply to this situation with the sock as you will see later on.

When you practice this stranding technique, look at the video over and over, pause it at each step and make sure you know the order of the steps. With a bit of practice it will become second nature and you won't have to think anymore about what you are doing...

In the tutorial below, you are only stranding ONE yarn , the unused variegated rainbow yarn. In normal Fair Isle knitting the yarns would alternate.



Ok...because you will not make a knot , you will need to initially hold the tail end of the red yarn wrapped around your left hand fingers (to secure it temporarily). You will wrap the green yarn around your left hand little finger in exactly the same way you would wrap any yarn around your right hand little finger in regular knitting.

In the pic above, I am going to use the red yarn to form the stitches of the row (which will be the first row of the heel), and strand the unused green yarn behind the red yarn. Just remember that the green yarn is passive, it never forms a stitch, just lazes along ...

Insert your right hand needle into the first stitch on your left hand needle.


Slip your right hand needle under the green yarn. Keep the green yarn lying over the right hand needle.


Now slip the red yarn over the right hand needle...you can see above that they're buddies now...but the romance is about end...


The green yarn gets cold feet...slip the green yarn off the right hand needle, leaving the red yarn behind...


Pull the red yarn through, making on red stitch on your right hand needle. Not very much has happened yet, but wait and see the magic after the next step....


Right hand needle into next loop, and just use the red yarn to do a plain 'ol knit ...notice how the red yarn has "caught" the green yarn behind it.



The next stitch on your left hand needle will be the second time you want to do a yarn dance around the right hand needle...ie every second stitch you do the little dance to strand the green yarn...

So...needle in...


...green yarn across right hand needle...


...red yarn around right hand needle...


...green yarn absconds...


...red yarn moves on with it's life...makes a new stitch...


...needle in...


...red yarn knits...

Fourth stitch is a plain red yarn knit...catching the green yarn behind it... and so you continue along. If this seems difficult...please persevere, it will become easy once you have watched the video and practiced a bit...


In the pic above, I have stranded to the end of the row. If you enlarge this pic, by clicking on it, you can see the strand of the green yarn running behind the red stitches on the needle. When you've reached the end of the row, stretch your knitting a bit (don't yank the stitches off the needle by mistake!), to loosed the tension on the green yarn.


Tomorrow we start our short rows...and learn to do a wrap!
Hope you have a wonderful knitting evening!
Lots of Love,
Heidi :)



10 comments:

Baa-Me Kniits said...

Like I said before you are a knitting genius or perhaps I should be saying master!! You certainly are a master at tutorials, you make it seem so easy :-)

K said...

I have not commented yet because, as I am at my daughter's house visiting, I have not been able to sit down and go though what is a visually stunning tutorial. This is a mystery that I've taken a poke at myself, over the years, never with satisfying results. And I am aching to read and try. I hate to heap praise on you every time, Heidi, because it will become too common to remain meaningful. But you earn it every time.

When I get home - after I catch my breath (will I ever?), I'll write.

pip said...

what a fantastic tutorial :)

Tilonino said...

Hi
Yesterday I found your blog :)
I am so lucky I found it. I love to crochet and now I have done an
African Flower Hexagon.
Kind regards from Norway :))

Tilonino said...

Hi Heidi
Nice to hear from you.
I have now added a translator at my blog. Now you can translate all of it.
Hope that helps you.

Kind regards
Tine

Tilonino said...

Hi Heidi
Now I have added a translator at my blog. Tine :)

Féepoussière said...

You have a wonderful blog full of creativity! Unfortunately I do not have your fingers fairy!
Thank you for your comment on my blog. I answered it!

Halfpint said...

A fantastic tutorial thank you! And well timed too, I am bracing myself for my first ever colourwork sock tomorrow.

JuLi said...

What beautiful work found in your blog is very inspiring all
thanks for all tutorials..
saludos desde argentina!

K said...

It's ridiculous, but today is the first day in months I have been able to sit down and actually concentrate on something. I am now taking a slow breath. This tutorial is, as all of yours have been, clear, beautiful, useful - and imminently followable. If I am correct (If Reader has not let me down), you never got to the short rows. I will go back and check. But I think you stopped here. This is sad for me and the rest of us. But obviously best for you. I do hope that sometime, you will be able to continue to teach us. Your knowledge and patience are precious to me.