Friday, October 09, 2009

Mostly technical

I think the single most important thing I was ever told about knitting, was said to me by Margaret Stove herself, and is: the first stitch the needle enters, for any decrease, is the stitch that will wind up on top.

Franklin, in his post for September 21, down at the end, illustrates some cool stitch markers he has been given, with “k2tog” and “ssk” on them. He adds, “I can never seem to remember which side of the damned gusset is k2tog and which is ssk”. He was just being polite, surely – and they are darling stitch markers. But all you really have to do is to remember the principle I have just enunciated, about which stitch will be on top, and then look at your knitting – a practice EZ always heartily recommended – to see which way the line is going.

The decrease I am using for my ASJ mitres is slip 2 tog knitwise, k1, p2sso. That is, you enter the next two stitches on the left-hand needle as if to knit them together, but you don’t, you just slip them. As you say in yesterday’s comment, Sue in CT. So the first stitch the needle enters is the centre one of the three, and it winds up on top. Then you purl it on the other side, and get a nice st st line.

EZ’s preferred decrease for the Surprise Sweaters was slip 1, k2tog, psso. That puts the first stitch of the three on top, and gives quite a different effect. It is with some trepidation that I advance a thought to contradict you, Tamar; I have never met anybody who knows so much about knitting. But I think we’ve got two different decreases here.

I used to spend hours with the books trying to figure out which decrease to use for what effect, before I knew that simple rule. I had a nice illustration of its usefulness last night.

I realized I had neglected to do one of the decreases, and decided to put it in on the wrong side, rather than tinking back. OK: so I’d be decreasing with a purl action, to preserve the st st line on the right side. How to centre it? The answer had to be, enter the next two stitches from behind, as if to purl them together tbl, slip them, purl 1, p2sso. It worked, although the top stitch is twisted at its base. I should have turned them on the right hand needle, before purling the next stitch.

Weight loss

I’m back up a pound this morning – that’s the way it goes. You have to watch for trend lines.

I mentioned recently that some old friends came to lunch. That's the photograph Mr. Friend took on parting. Maralyn, on the right, was once my husband’s secretary – and a brilliant one. (The cat, alas, is not ours. Or, partly alas. We don’t want black. We want tortoiseshell-and-white.) I don’t know how to explain my curious arm gesture, as if just out of traction, but the point is, I find I can now look at a full-length picture of myself without recoiling in horror. I have no ambition to look like Nancy Reagan.


  1. Dawn in NL9:27 AM

    2 stone; 28 pounds; 12.7 kilograms; well done, Jean. As you say, as long as the trend is downwards, a hiccough occasionally doesn't matter. Do you still have a goal to reach?

    All the best,

  2. Ohhhh... That is a very useful bit to know about the decreases. (I don't worry too much which one I use which side of the sock gusset, as long as I'm consistent in the sock. Different looks. Works fine either way.) The next Baby Surprise I do, I'd like to remember this decrease you're using.

  3. re: Franklin and being polite, I quite agree. K2tog and SSK are apples and oranges. Fundamentally different, including their utterly dissimilar appearance.

    Is that the front of your house? I like it.

    Now I must Google Nancy Reagan.

  4. Thank you for the tip on the decreases. I need to look carefully at my knitting. When I did the BSJ, I really couldn't see the established line - I ended up using markers which slowed me down, but it was baby sized so not much knitting.

    I though of you on Weds evening. I found a cat outside my work building. Heard it meowing outside from my 4th floor window, actually. Not a kitten, but not too old, I think. We're not sure if it's a stray or feral (it was not mangy and appeared pretty well groomed) was very friendly, but was not neutered). A student helped me take it to the local humane society. I'm now following it's progress. It it's not claimed and then not adopted (and isn't positive for feline leukemia), we may end up with a 3rd cat - which the husband is strenuously opposing. But he knows I won't let it be destroyed.

    if you're curious, go here

    and take a look at the picture of the cat with the booking number of 8911481. Not tortoiseshell, but very beautiful.

  5. Hello Jean
    We have 'met' before in other places. ( I just made a third pair of kilt house because of you!) I came across your blog while looking for something else. Greetings from Downunder. I am delighted to have found you here and will be keeping an eye on your knitting!

  6. A centered double decrease. My fave double decrease, I don't know why it's not used more often. And the swine flu thing? More mature folks [ahem] have a partial immunity because there was a variant that went around in the 70s. Does the Hong Kong flu ring any bells? I remember being very ill and missing three weeks(!) of school when I was in the third grade. I also remember seeing an episode of Archie Bunker in which everyone had the flu from the same time period -- I think it was the one that introduced Bea Arthur as cousin Maude.

  7. Margaret Stove's advice is good--and something I hadn't thought of before. Loved the photo. As I think I mentioned to you in a precious comment--my parents-in-laws had a home in the New Town as well, on Lansdowne Crescent, actually.

  8. =Tamar6:01 AM

    It's a tricky little effect, I admit. EZ's decrease leaves a centered stitch on the opposite side from the one you're working on. For some odd reason, in the garter stitch, that centered stitch suddenly looks prominent a row or two later, and the non-centered look of the decrease just below it fades into the trough. At least it does when I do it. I do prefer the overtly centered stitch produced by S2,K1,p2sso, not least because it's easier to see right away.

    But don't ever hesitate to disagree with me; I have made amazing numbers of mistakes over the years, just ask anyone who remembers my early posts on the historic knitting group!