Three Needle Bind-Off - a quick tutorial

Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations
Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations
Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations
Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations
Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations
Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations
Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations
Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations
Three Needle Bind Off Tutorial - Ms .Cleaver Creations

A few people knitting Atlee had mentioned that they'd never done a three needle bind-off before, so I thought I'd post a real quick tutorial. Once you see how easy it is, you'll be kicking yourself for not learning it ages ago (I did!). Prefer to see it in motion? There's a quick video on my Instagram.


 

 

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Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial

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Earlier this year I had the chance to spend a lot of quality time with Willet, Quince & Co's sport-weight 100% cotton yarn. After swatching my way through a skein of yarn, I had some ideas of what did and didn't work in the yarn, and came up with three very different designs: Atlee, Ocaso, and Caiterly. While cotton yarn isn't as commonly seen in hand-knitted garments as wool or even linen, it doesn't need to be relegated to the land of dishcloths, as cotton can be very versatile and wearable.

It does, however, have some distinct differences from it's woolly counterparts that should be kept in mind, which I'll be covering today. For all the photos in this post, Willet is shown in the Dinghy colorway, a teal, and I'll be comparing it with Quince's Chickadee - a 100% sport-weight wool in Carrie's Yellow. Both swatches were knit with the same stitch and row count on size US 5 (3.75 mm) needles.


Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver

Gauge

Per the tag guidelines, both Willet's and Chickadee's base gauge is 6 sts/inch on size 5 (3.75 mm) needles.  When I made the swatches, I hit 6sts/inch exactly on my stitch gauge for both yarns, but Willet had 8.25 rows/inch, while Chickadee came in at 9 rows/inch. Over 12 inches, this is 9 rows of difference, so it can really add up over a long length (like a sleeve or body)

Tip #1 - when alternating between wool and cotton, pay attention to row gauge.

Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver

Fabric Characteristics

Even though the gauge is quite similar, the fabric itself behaves rather differently. The wool is much squishier and plusher, and tends to hold it's shape better, while the cotton is more floppy, but not exactly drapey (not like silk or linen). The wool, in general, has better recovery (springs back to shape), while cotton has a more relaxed vibe.

Tip #2 - for highly structured knits, cotton isn't your best bet, but it works great for softer, more relaxed lines. 

Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver

Weight

Though these swatches are basically the same size (the Willet is 5"x4.5"; Chickadee is 5"x 4.25"). the cotton weighs a gram more. This is why 50g of Chickadee (100% wool) gets you 181 yds, while 50g of Willet (100% cotton) gets you 160 yds. This weight can make a difference in two things: number of skeins required and the row gauge of finished product. 

A few grams isn't a big deal in a swatch, but again, it can really add up over a large garment. If you were working, say, a sweater coat in both yarns, the additional weight of the cotton can drag the garment down, lengthening the row gauge and pulling more on the shoulder seams, and again, leading to a more relaxed silhouette.

The weight can be compensated for in a number of ways - making a close-fitting garment, so the weight is distributed across the body; having strong shoulder seams; and making sure to block the garment flat.

Tip #3 - a little extra weight can add up, so choose your pattern wisely

Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver

The Yarn

The biggest complaint I've heard about cotton yarn is that it "has no give" and/or "it hurts my hands." The "no give" is pretty much true. 

Remember how I mentioned the fabric of the wool swatch is springier and has more recovery? The same is true of the yarn itself. 

From a 6 inch piece, I was able to easily stretch the wool yarn an additional 2 inches, and it sprung right back into place. With the same length of cotton yarn, I could barely stretch it all, even pulling quite hard. If you're used to tensioning wool yarn, this can be quite a shift. So once again, the key to cotton is relax. Let the yarn glide through your hands, rather than trying to pull it.

Tip #4 - When knitting with cotton, relax and don't try to fight the yarn. 

But don't think of this rigidity as a knock against the yarn. It has some great benefits, namely that the stitch definition is fantastic. The reason the single stitch cables on Caiterly or the subtle patterning on Atlee's yoke work is because of the way the Willet stitches sit on top of the fabric, instead of blending in the way it would more with wool. One caveat: this means ends don't blend in as well too, so hides your ends in an inconspicuous place, like the side seams. 

Tip #5 - Pay attention to ends, but enjoy the stitch definition!  

Knitting with Cotton, a tutorial by Ms. Cleaver

Blocking and Washability

One of the big draws of cotton is it's washability. It can go in the washer and the dryer and be none the worse for wear. Both the swatches were washed loose and dried along with a load of laundry in a top loading machine on warm and a standard electric dryer on regular. While the wool swatch clearly felted, losing about a half an inch in both length and width, the cotton swatch was virtually unchanged. That said, some cotton yarns may experience more shrinkage than others, and it may be more noticeable over a larger area than this rather small swatch. 

Tip #5 - treat your swatch like you intend to treat the finished garment, then measure gauge

In Conclusion

Cotton is great for a lot of things, but not everything. So as with any project, match your yarn appropriately to the project and you'll have success! So let's get the cotton yarn out of the kitchen and on to our bodies. 



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Cast On Party!

It's cast on day for the KAL - what are you making??


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Introducing Caiterly and the Dog Days KAL

Caiterly designed by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co.
Caiterly designed by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co.
Caiterly designed by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co.
Caiterly designed by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co.
Caiterly designed by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co.
Caiterly designed by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co.
Dog Days KAL

While I wouldn't normally volunteer to spends months knitting only in white yarn, especially with a dog and a toddler in the house, the nice thing about spending a bunch of time with the sample yarn in a neutral color is that you really get to play with it and see all the things it can do. That's what I got to do with Quince's Cleaner Cotton™ Willet,.

Ocaso shows off the yarn in a beautifully smooth stockinette stich, Atlee displays the marvelous stitch definition in the textured yoke. Caitlery shows what it can do in fine-gauge cables. I like all three designs for different reasons, but Caiterly is probably the one that is most distinctly me.

With three-quarter sleeves, a fitted bust, and delicate cabling, Caitlery  is elegantly feminine and the details are subtle enough that it can be worn with almost anything. 

The sweater is worked seamlessly from the bottom up- raglan style.and features a ribbon-lined button band. (See my tutorials page for details on how to add this detail). 

Caiterly is available for $6.50 from the following online shops:

Quince & Co.     |     Ms. Cleaver Creations      |      Ravelry

If you knit it and participate in social media, use #quincecaiterly to share and/or tag me @mscleaver !  

To celebrate the release of my three Willet patterns, I'm hosting a Willet-centric knit along with Quince on their Ravelry group.  The KAL runs for six weeks and includes special handmade prize for a FO knit from one of my patterns and several Quince gift cards for FOs worked in Quince yarns. For more details, visit my Knit Along page or the Quince group. I'll be knitting an Atlee myself, and I hope you'll join in!

Caiterly designed by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co.

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Introducing Atlee

Atlee by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co,.
Atlee by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co,.
Atlee by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co,.
Atlee by Leah B. Thibault for Quince & Co,.

The range of what you can do with knitting is so broad and varied - colorwork, cables, lace, brioche, intarsia, etcetera. I love a good complex knit, but sometimes you want a palate-cleanser - something simple, just knits and purls - and why not make it in white?

In comes Atlee, my newest design for Quince & Co. - a simple, soothing tee. In Quince's Cleaner Cotton™ Willet, with an a-line shape, scooped neckline and textural details in the yoke, Atlee is a picture-perfect essential for easy days in the sun.

The tee is worked in the round from the bottom up and split for arms, with the ribbing picked up and worked after a three-needle bind-off at the shoulders. Simple tee, simple construction. Easy enough that you could make one in multiple colors! Which is good, because I want to knit one for myself, but how do I choose between Dinghy, Windlass, or Oar?

Atlee is available for $6.00 USD from the following online shops:

Quince & Co.     |     Ms. Cleaver Creations      |      Ravelry


If you knit it and participate in social media, use #quinceatlee to share and/or tag me @mscleaver !  

I'd love to see your version!!!

 


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Finishing Your Knit with a Folded Hem

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Folded Hem Tutorial

Stockinette St is one of the most basic of knitting techniques. It creates a smooth fabric of knit stitches, but if it has one shortcoming, it's that it's curls. 

Usually this is counteracted by adding an inch or more of ribbing to hems, which works great in most cases, but does look, well, ribby. But what if you really want to embrace the smoothness of Stockinette, without having a curling hem, what do you do?

Enter the folded hem. 

Folded Hem Tutorial

Though it requires a little extra yardage and a bit of hand sewing, the folded hem easily gives a smooth, clean finish on both sides of the fabric and can add a bit of heft/stability to a collar or button band, as the fabric is doubled. A folded hem can be put in place of a rib hem by following a few simple steps.

For simplicity's sake, these instructions will refer to a hem, but the same technique can be used for collars and front facings. 

Working from the top down:

  1. Work pattern as described to beginning of where the rib would begin. 
  2. Work in Stockinette (or pattern) stitch to desired finished body length or length of original rib.
  3. Next wrong side (WS) row, knit. This will create a line of purl stitches on the right side.
  4. Work in Stockinette st for desired length of inside hem. This could be the same length as the ribbing would have been or shallower or deeper, as you desire. For comparison, on the Ocaso cardigan shown here,  the front bands are 2" wide/deep, while the sleeve hem and body hem are 1".  All fabric after the purl line is the facing
  5. Bind off.
  6. Block garment.
  7. Fold facing toward inside of garment along the purl line. 
  8. Pin to body of garment, making sure facing lies flat and is evenly distributed.
  9. Using a whipstitch every 2-3 sts/rows, attach facing to body of garment. If you picked up stitches for the band, there should be a clear line to attach the facing to, otherwise, when pinning, eyeball a row of stitching and stick to it to maintain an even hem.
  10. Weave in ends and block again as needed.
  11. Enjoy your smooth hem!

Working from the bottom up:

  1. Cast on number of body stitches. If the number changes from ribbing to first row of the body, use the body number.
  2. Work in Stockinette st for desired length of inside hem. This could be the same length as the ribbing would have been or shallower or deeper, as you desire. For comparison, on the Ocaso cardigan shown here, the front bands are 2" wide/deep, while the sleeve hem and body hem are 1". 
  3. Next wrong side (WS) row, knit. This will create a line of purl stitches on the right side. All fabric before the purl line is the facing
  4. Work in Stockinette (or pattern) stitch to length of facing or length of original rib.
  5. Work garment as described.
  6. Block garment.
  7. Fold facing toward inside of garment along the purl line. 
  8. Pin to body of garment, making sure facing lies flat and is evenly distributed.
  9. Using a whipstitch every 2-3 sts/rows, attach facing to body of garment. If you picked up stitches for the band, there should be a clear line to attach the facing to, otherwise, when pinning, eyeball a row of stitching and stick to it to maintain an even hem.
  10. Weave in ends and block again as needed.
  11. Enjoy your smooth hem!
Folded Hem Tutorial
Folded Hem Tutorial
Folded Hem Tutorial
Folded Hem Tutorial
Folded Hem Tutorial
Folded Hem Tutorial
Folded Hem Tutorial
Folded Hem Tutorial

Ready to Give it a Try?

These patterns include folded hems.


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Introducing Ocaso

Ocaso design by Leah B. Thibault for Ms. Cleaver Creations
Ocaso design by Leah B. Thibault for Ms. Cleaver Creations
Ocaso design by Leah B. Thibault for Ms. Cleaver Creations
Ocaso design by Leah B. Thibault for Ms. Cleaver Creations
Ocaso design by Leah B. Thibault for Ms. Cleaver Creations
Ocaso design by Leah B. Thibault for Ms. Cleaver Creations
Ocaso design by Leah B. Thibault for Ms. Cleaver Creations

Meet Ocaso!

Fun to knit and easy to wear, Ocaso is the perfect summer cardigan.

Ocaso takes a traditional shape and uses knitterly techniques to construct it in a way that only knitting can. The garment starts off in a similar fashion to a pi-shawl, but is transformed into a boxy kimono shape though the use of short rows. Worked in a smooth cotton yarn (Quince & Co's Willet), the cardigan is warm enough to ward off summer breezes, but not too hot for warmer days.

The sweater is worked in one piece from the neck down. It begins with a circular yoke that is transformed into a square using short rows. The front and back body are joined in the round and knit downwards, as are the sleeves, all of which are finished with a folded hem. A wide folded band is picked up and knit along the front opening and neckline.

Ocaso actually began life as the Leading Bird Shawl. I was working with pi-shawl shaping and got stuck on how I wanted to do the border. I was texting ideas with Bristol Ivy and she suggested I "change the direction"  and then I thought I could use short rows to change the circular shapes into a rectangular one. While that didn't happen in the shawl, I couldn't shake idea and though it could work wonderfully in a boxy- kimono-style shape and, thus Ocaso was born! 

The unique construction makes it fun to knit, while the stockinette lets the shaping show and keeps it simple. Folded hems keep the lines clean. Never worked a folded hem before? Don't worry! There's a tutorial coming later this week!

The pattern is available for $7.00 USD from the following online shops:

LoveKnitting   ||    Ms. Cleaver Creations    ||    Ravelry

 

Ocaso is on sale on Mscleaver.com and Ravelry from now until Saturday, June 4 2016 for just $5.00 USD

If you knit it and participate in social media, use #ocasocardi to share or tag me @mscleaver !  

I'd love to see your version!!!


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Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band

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Why Reinforce A Button Band?

Both of my recent pattern releases, Lady Heartrose and Prairie Wife, suggest that you use ribbon to reinforce the button bands. If you're one of those knitters who hates finishing, you may think why bother?  You certainly don't have to, most of my sweaters to date don't have any kind of reinforcement, but there are several reasons to consider it. 

  1. It will keep your fabric from curling (though ribbing may already take care of that).
  2. It will help prevent gaping at the bust if you intend to button up.
  3. It will help prevent the button band and button holes from getting stretched out over time.
  4. If it's a steeked piece, it can cover up the cut ends of yarn. 
  5. It's a nice little surprise inside the cardigan and looks really pretty!

What Supplies Do I Need?

  1. Your blocked cardigan.
  2. Approximately 2 yards of a sturdy ribbon, such as Petersham, Grosgrain, or other firmly woven ribbon, that just as wide or slightly less wide than your knit button band. If you're doing something like a long sweater coat, measure the length first. (The ribbon used in this post is from Vintage Ribbons on Etsy). 
  3. A sewing machine with buttonhole capabilities. (You could always sew the buttonholes by hand, but this tutorial won't cover that).
  4. The buttons you are planing to use. 
  5. Needle and thread to match your yarn.
  6. Pins or clips.
  7. Seam ripper or button hole cutter.
  8. Fray Check (optional).
Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band
Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band

Measuring and Marking your Ribbon

The first thing to do is measure, cut and mark your ribbon. To measure, lay your finished and blocked cardigan on a flat surface. It's very important that the piece is blocked, otherwise the band may be too short. Match the length of your ribbon to the length of the knit band and add an extra inch or so to each side, enough that you can fold it under to make a neat edge (as seen above). Cut a second piece of ribbon to the same length and set aside. The unmarked ribbon will be used to back the button side of the cardigan. Now we'll mark the buttonhole side.

With the ribbon flat against the buttonhole side. Place a pin at the top of each knit buttonhole. If you have a patterned ribbon, you may be able to use the pattern to make your placement more exact/even, but it's more important that the pins line up with the actual knit buttonholes.

Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band
Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band

Testing the Buttonhole Size

Using a scrap piece of ribbon and the buttonhole feature on your machine, test out your buttonhole size to make sure the button can fit through easily. The ribbon button hole is likely to be a lot longer than the knit one. 

Once you have confirmed the proper size, mark the ends of the buttonhole on your ribbon (the top being the pin you already put in). 

Use your machine and sew the buttonholes on the ribbon.

Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band
Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band
Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band

Finishing the Buttonholes

Before you slice into them, double check that your buttonholes still line up. If they do use a seam ripper or buttonhole cutter to open up your buttonholes. Adding a drop of fray check to the buttonhole as desired. Set aside to dry if using fray check for the recommended amount of time. 

Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band
Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band

Attaching the Ribbon to the Sweater

Fold over the top and bottom of the ribbon, whip-stitching closed as desired, then making sure that the buttonholes line up and both the ribbon and the button band are flat, pin or clip the ribbon to the inside of the button band. Starting on the outside edge, whip-stitch ribbon to knit fabric. To help keep the stitches even, use the knit fabric as your guide, here I did one stitch per knit row. Work your way down the outside edge and up the inside edge, making sure the ribbon lays flat. Unless your button band is very wide, there's no need to tack down the ribbon buttonhole around the knit buttonhole beyond securing the ribbons at the edges.

For more detailed instruction on how to whip-stitch see DMC's embroidery guide).

Repeat process for button side. 

Sew on buttons on across from buttonhole and you're done! Enjoy wearing your snazzy-looking and sturdy button bands!

Adding A Ribbon Backing to Your Knit Button Band


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What is Ease? (Or How to Choose the Size you Want)

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What is Ease?

In a lot of knitting patterns for garments you'll find something that looks like this:

Sizes 41 1/2 (44 1/2, 47 1/2, 50 1/2, 53 1/2, 57)" bust circumference; shown in size 41 1/2", modeled with 8 1/2" of positive ease

If your pattern includes this, fantastic!

If it also includes something like intended to be worn with 8-10" positive ease, even better!

These two bits of information are going to be very helpful in choosing a size. 

Ease is all about Fit and Style

When I first started knitting, I thought you just picked the size closest to your bust measurement and went from there. That's certainly an option, but it probably won't get you the best fit. 

When I design a garment, I think about two things related to fit (well more than that obviously, but stick with me here) - wearing ease and design ease. Every body has measurements. These measurements are the basic starting point for a good fit, but then as a designer, I add extra fabric to those measurements for ease of movement and style.

Oakdale, designed by me, with zero ease

Oakdale, designed by me, with zero ease

Demonstrating Negative Ease

Demonstrating Negative Ease

Positive Versus Negative Ease

Positive ease means that the garment measurements are larger than your actual measurements. For example, a 40" sweater on a 38" bust has two inches of positive ease. A 37" sweater on that same 38" bust would have 1" of negative ease. A 38" sweater on a 38" bust would have no or zero ease.

Wearing Ease 

Wearing ease contributes to ease of movement. Think of cutting out a piece of sturdy paper to your exact bust measurement and taping it on. Now try taking a deep chest breath, or bending over to pick something up, or reaching forward. We move a lot and moving requires ease, or a little bit of extra space to allow for that movement.

Now a piece of paper is stiff and inflexible, woven fabrics can be fairly rigid too, which is why wearing ease is more important in woven garments. Fortunately knitted fabric has a bit more give, it stretches as you move, so you can get away with little, no, or even negative ease, depending on the flexibility of your knitted fabric. So that super snug, ribbed Lana Turner-esque sweater? The fabric has a lot of give, so you can still breathe, hooray!

But just because you don't necessary need wearing ease in the bust, doesn't mean that you wouldn't want in other places, like the sleeve and  armhole. Because we all like to lift our arms right?

Also, in general, I think that unless you're reinforcing your buttonbands, you want cardigans to have some positive ease so you don't have button-band gappage. (Because nobody wants that)

Cormac with 8 1/2" of positive ease

Cormac with 8 1/2" of positive ease

Toulouse with several inches of positive ease as modeled in Knitscene

Toulouse with several inches of positive ease as modeled in Knitscene

Toulouse with slight positive ease as knitted by  Orlaflo

Toulouse with slight positive ease as knitted by Orlaflo

Design Ease

If wearing ease is about how you move, design ease is about how you look. Fashion goes back on forth a lot on what silhouette is in. In the 1940's, like the photo about, the snug "sweater girl" look was the thing, and they used zero or negative design ease to achieve it. Nowadays, we sport a much more relaxed look, and to create it you need to add design ease on top of the wearing ease.

I recommend about 8" of ease for the Cormac sweater. Clearly you don't need 8 extra inches of fabric around your bust to move,  so this is largely design ease. If you want your sweater to look similar to the one in the mag, you're going to need to choose a size somewhere 6-10 inches larger than your bust measurement. The smaller your bust, the less ease you'd need proportionally than larger bust, i.e. a 32" bust would be fine closer to 6" extra, while a 42" bust would want closer to 9 or 10"  

For a good look at how ease can change the final look, check out the 200+ examples of the Toulouse pullover.  In the magazine it was styled with a great deal of positive ease, which result in a slouchy/boho look, but many knitters have chosen to knit it much closer to their actual measurements with very little positive ease, like the example from Orlaflo on the right.  Both options are equally "right," depending on what you want the final look to be.

One note of caution: if a pattern indicates a "to be worn with xx inches of ease" it usually means that the underlying body measurements used to design the piece are that many inches smaller. For example, if I design a 40" sweater to be worn with 4" of positive ease, it means that when I do my baseline calculations for that sweater I'm starting with the standard measurements that go with a 36" bust, so if you chose to do less ease or more ease than suggested it may not fit as well in the shoulders or arms. 

In Conclusion

With these two types of ease in mind, and good pattern information, you can confidently choose a size that will get you the finished fit you desire!

Cormac and Toulouse Photos courtesy of Knitscene/Harper Point



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