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Tension Swatch

Boring but essential!


Please always check the tension before you start on a new model!
Correct tension is the most important prerequisite if the knitted garment is to be a success.
Even if it is a bother and you would much prefer to get going with the new garment, this preliminary work does, on the whole, save time, trouble and sometimes money, too.

Checking the tension is a way of tuning your own way of knitting to the given tension. All instructions in the knitting patterns refer to the tension stipulated, therefore your garment can only be a success if your tension sample is in line with ours.

How to check tension properly:
1. Always use the original yarn.
2. Knit the original pattern.
3. The tension sample should be at least 12x12 cm.
4. Treat the tension sample exactly like the finished garment, i.e. if stretching and damping are part of making up, do the same with your tension sample.

Take the centre 10 cm (width and height) in the tension sample. If your sample is too tight (i.e. you need more stitches and rows than stipulated) then try again with larger needles. If your sample is too loose (i.e. you need less stitches and rows than stipulated) then you need smaller needles.
If necessary, slight deviations can be corrected by using more or less stitches and rows.

You can't be too sure!
To be really certain, check your work again when it measures about 20 - 30 cm.
It's possible that with so many stitches on your needles (or when you've got used to the yarn and pattern) that your knitting is tighter or looser than in the small sample.

It is also a good idea to compare the measurement of the planned garment with those of your favourite garment so that the finished garment is sure to fit.

Special Cases
The rule of thumb can be taken as such: the ratio of stitches to rows is approx. between 2:3 and 3:4 in stocking stitch.
Rib patterns are much closer. Therefore you should pull these somewhat apart before you measure.
Patent patterns stretch with wear. Where you knit into the centre of the stitch from the previous row in every row, it gets wider (therefore pull the sample width-wise before measuring), where you knit into the centre of the stitch only on the right side, it gets longer (therefore pull the sample length-wise before measuring).
Although jacquard patterns are mainly like stocking stitch, the proportion of rows to 10 cm is lower, sometimes only 1:1.
With cable patterns it is vice-versa. Although the number of rows are the same as in stocking stitch, more stitches are needed in proportion.

Another Tip
If in doubt, always try everything out before you get started. That's how the professionals do it.
Pay attention to the care details on the band. Comfort in wearing and care of the yarn can only be warranted if you follow the recommendations.


Long Tail Cast On

Long Tail Cast OnThe beginning is easy

Every piece of knitting starts with casting on. There are various techniques for this. Long tail cast on is an easy way of getting a firm, elastic edge that goes with any pattern.
To ensure the knitting looks nice the cast on row should be worked evenly. So practise a little before you actually start. The cast on row must not be too tight, so that the first row can be worked easily. However, it must not be too loose, otherwise the rib will soon be out of shape. Depending on how you knit - more tight than loose - you can cast on using either one or two needles. The second needle is removed before you knit the first row.

Here's how it goes
Use the same size of needles to cast on as for the start of the knitting.
For every stitch you will need between 1.5 and 2.5 cm yarn, depending on how thick the yarn is. Then calculate another 20 cm so that the last stitches are easily cast on. If in doubt, always take more rather than less. With the remaining tail you can always join the side seam.

Knitting Tip- Long tail cast on

 


The beginning is easy
Every piece of knitting starts with casting on. There are various techniques for this. Long tail cast on is an easy way of getting a firm, elastic edge that goes with any pattern.
To ensure the knitting looks nice the cast on row should be worked evenly. So practise a little before you actually start. The cast on row must not be too tight, so that the first row can be worked easily. However, it must not be too loose, otherwise the rib will soon be out of shape. Depending on how you knit - more tight than loose - you can cast on using either one or two needles. The second needle is removed before you knit the first row.

Here's how it goes
Use the same size of needles to cast on as for the start of the knitting.
For every stitch you will need between 1.5 and 2.5 cm yarn, depending on how thick the yarn is. Then calculate another 20 cm so that the last stitches are easily cast on. If in doubt, always take more rather than less. With the remaining tail you can always join the side seam.


The result is two cast on stitches. Repeat steps 3 - 6 until you have the required amount of stitches. A new stitch is formed each time.

Another tip
With long tail cast one small knots are formed at the bottom edge, which are similar to a purl stitch. Therefore, begin your work with a wrong side row. The straight edge of the wrong side is better for most patterns.

 
 
How do I get rid of gaps at the neckline?

Gaps between stitches in the pick up row are usually more of a problem when you are using thicker yarn. Fine yarn tends to behave itself and any gaps are small enough to be unnoticeable. This is simply because the gaps between big stitches in big yarn are bigger!

One of the causes of these gaps between picked up stitches is the stair steps caused by binding off the neckline in stages. You can smooth out these stairsteps into an even slope by following the directions in the knitting tip "How do I get rid of "stair steps" when I bind off over several rows?" Following these directions may be enough to solve your problem.

If this doesn't do the trick, here's something a little less conventional that I like to do. On the pick up row, pick up a stitch in every possible stitch along the edge of the neckline (or armhole, if that's what you're working on). Then, on the next row, work enough K2tog or P2tog evenly spaced around the opening to get down to the number of stitches you really need. The extra picked up stitches will fill in the gaps and result in an very even looking pick up row.

 
Mattress Stitch

Mattress StitchPerfect Seams
Only neat, almost invisible seams finish off your knitted garment perfectly. Mattress stitch is the best method for side and sleeve seams. For joining seams use a blunt darning needle so as not to split the yarn when sewing. If possible, use the original yarn used for the garment to sew the pieces together. Instead of wicking or bobble yarn, or extremely thick yarn you can use a thinner, smooth wool in a suitable colour, or cotton (depending on the garment). Sewing thread (despite its name) is not suitable here because it is not elastic.

And here's how to do it
Mattress stitch is always done from the right side. Lay the pieces to be joined side by side with the right side facing you. Start the seam at the bottom edge. First join the cast-on rows, inserting the needle between the first and second stitch in from the edge, underneath one of the "bars" of yarn that run between the stitches. Then, working with the other piece, do the same.

After 2 - 3 cm seam pull the thread fast.
With this method all patterns can be perfectly joined. In the seam the corresponding rows of the two pieces always come together, so that stripes, jacquard, rib structured and hole pattern can be ideally combined.


In stocking stitch it is sometimes recommended to pick up 2 bars. First you combine the cast-on rows. Then you pick up the first bar on the right piece, then the 1st and 2nd bar on the left side, the 2nd and 3rd on the right side, the 3rd and 4th on the left and so on. Whether you pick up one or two bars is entirely up to you.
Try both and see what's best for you!

Sometimes it is better to take the centre of the last stitch before or the first stitch after the edge stitch for the seam. This is the case when the pattern calls explicitly for either a knit or a purl stitch (e.g. in rib stitch). Both halves of each side form one stitch.
Also if the edges are not so even as they should be you can improve the overall result by taking the centre of the stitch for the seam.