Knot On My Coasters

coasters in use

This series of posts began with a tutorial on the two ways to tie overhand knots, and how to tie the double and triple overhand knot variations: tie these knots in an I-cord or cast on/bind off cord, and you have an easy necklace or bracelet. The next post showed you some of my experiments with making these knots on knit fabric. And this post shows you how to use the knots on a project, a set of drink-ring-preventing coasters.

Design Decisions

I have quite a bit of odd balls of cotton in my stash, a good choice for coasters that will have cold and hot mugs and glasses on them. These are almost all worsted and sport weight, and there’s a nice variety of colors too: background yarn choice made.

For the embellishment, I wanted something close in weight to the background. The knots might stand out more in a heavier weight, but the resulting raised surface might be too irregular for some of my mugs to sit flat. I decided that the contrast for this project would come not from a difference in weight but in color. To mark the embellishing rows, I decided to use needle elongation to make those rows taller— I would work them with a needle 4-5 sizes larger.

Stitch pattern: stockinette makes a nice smooth surface for both coasters and embellishments. Since I wanted the coasters to be flat, that meant I needed to experiment with border patterns that would counter the curl of stockinette at both bottom and sides. What about dropping stitches at the sides to form fringe, which would be tied with oh, overhand knots?! Thumb’s up—choice made. What to do at top and bottom, thought—Garter? Seed? Reverse stockinette?

My first swatch was an experiment with all these elements, gauge and coaster size, and embellishing spacing. The coaster depth was ok, but it wasn’t quite wide enough. I liked the fringed edges, but decided I wanted a little more spacing at the side edge, so if I added a couple more border stitches what would also fix the width issue. The embellishing spacing was ok, I did NOT like the garter stitch at top and bottom.

In my next swatch I added the width stitches at the sides, used reverse stockinette stitch as a bottom and top border, and tried spacing embellishments farther apart. This swatch was closer to my vision, but ended up being taller than I wanted—I wanted coaster, not mug mat.

My final swatch gave me exactly what I wanted. I had my pattern, and could begin with “project yarn” and needles!


Coaster

Materials

10 g of sport weight cotton yarn
US 4, 5 and 10 needles
tapestry needle, scissors, crochet hook or your fingers for fringe!

Four stitches either side will be dropped for fringe. One stitch on the other side of the marker from them is worked through the back loop throughout to help hold dropped fringe in place before knotting, and one st in from it is purled as spacer.

Instructions

coaster with knitting completeWith US 4 needle, cast on 30 sts.

Next row (RS): k4, place marker, p1 tbl, purl to last 5 sts, p1 tbl, place marker, k4.
Next row (WS): k4, sm, k1 tbl, knit to last 5 sts, k1 tbl, sm, k4.

Slip markers as you come to them from this point forward.

Row 1 (RS): with US 5 needle, k4, k1 tbl, p1, knit to last 6 sts, p1, k1 tbl, k4.
Row 2 (WS): k4, p1 tbl, k1, purl to last 6 sts, k1, p1 tbl, sm, k4.
Row 3: k4, k1 tbl, p1, knit to last 6 sts, p1, k1 tbl, k4.
Row 4: with US 10 needle, k4, p1 tbl, k1, purl to last 6 sts, k1, p1 tbl, sm, k4.

Repeat Rows 1-4  four times, then Rows 1-3 once.

Next row (WS): with US 4 needle, k4, sm, k1 tbl, knit to last 5 sts, k1 tbl, sm, k4.
Next row (RS): k4, pm, p1 tbl, purl to last 5 sts, p1 tbl, pm, k4.

Bind off row (WS): k4, remove marker, bind off until 4 sts rem on left needle, fasten off, leaving a 4-inch tail. Slip needle out of 4 fringe sts on each side. Do not unravel fringe.

Knotting

Cut five 20-inch lengths of contrast color yarn. *Thread one strand on tapestry needle. working from left to right in one of the rows of elongated stitches, and leaving 4-inch tail for fringe, insert needle from front to back under the twisted stitch, in front of purl stitch, and under next knit stitch, returning the needle to the front.

coasters tutorial 1

[Strand across three stitches, insert needle from front to back, then right to left under 2 stitches and up between stitches 1 and 2 of the three, making sure needle is ABOVE the horizontal strand. Pull gently, and holding strand taut with left index finger, tie a triple overhand knot with needle around the strand (see last post for details).  Dress the knot.] 5 times across row.

coasters tutorial 2

Finish by stranding across one stitch, under one stitch, over purl column and under the twisted stitch. Repeat from * for each elongated row.

Fringe

Beginning at bind off edge on one side, **gently unravel several rows of fringe stitches. Smooth yarn loops out to side; cut each loop at its midpoint to form individual strands. Starting at the top, gather 3-4 strands (tails too, where they exist) and tie them in an overhand knot (tip: insert a tapestry or knitting needle in the center of the knot, hold it near fabric’s edge, and tighten knot around it first; when tight as possible, remove needle and cinch down until it is flush with the fabric edge). Repeat from ** for remaining rows of the side. Repeat for other side. Trim fringe to desired length.

coasters tutorial 3

coasters tutorial 4

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The Sand and Dot Stitch Cowls

Trio of cowls in sand and dot stitch

In this series of posts, I began with a stitch pattern, thinking about its qualities and how they would result in fabric. Then I made a swatch to see if I liked working the stitch pattern and see if I was right about what it could do. With that information in hand I decided on a project, and made more swatches to explore how to put the stitch pattern to work. Now we’ll bring the series to a conclusion with the projects themselves.

Cowl Calculations

I measured the stitch and row gauge of Swatch 1: 13 sts and 20 rows / 4 inches [10 cm]. To get the number of stitches in 1 inch, I divided 13 by 4 to get 3.25 stitches per inch (SPI). I have 126 yards of chunky weight yarn; not enough for a long cowl but I can probably get a short one of decent width with that amount.

So how many inches around IS a short cowl? Adult heads are usually between 18 to 25 inches around, with necks being of course a lot less. I settled on a number approximately twice around the head: 40 inches.

To find out how many to cast on, I multiplied the SPI of 3.25 by 40, the number of inches I want. 3.25 x 40 = 130 stitches. Like its Seed stitch parent, Sand/Dot has a repeat of 2 stitches when worked flat. Since I wanted to work in the round, I needed to consider whether the stitch pattern needed any modifications.

Flat to Circular in Seed Stitch Patterns

Seed stitch patterns are like checkerboards with alternating red and black squares: purl stitch above knit stitch, knit stitch above purl stitch. If a round begins with a knit stitch, the first stitch of the round above needs to be a purl, and vice versa.

Round 1: [k1, p1] to end of rnd.
Round 2: [p1, k1] to end of rnd.

However, working in the round is not truly working in a circle, but instead is a spiral. The last stitch of a round butts up against the first stitch of the next round, not the current round. Over an even number of stitches, the repeat of Round 1 would end with a purl stitch and the first stitch of Round 2 would begin with  one, putting two purl stitches next to each other. What to do??? Work over an odd number of stitches instead.

Seed Stitch in the round is thus said to be a repeat of 2 stitches, plus 1 stitch. While Sand/Dot stitch has rows/round “between” the seed stitch portions that might visually disguise the purl-next-to-purl problem, I decided it would help me stay in pattern to work over an odd number of stitches, and added 1 stitch to my 130-stitch calculation.

Working Method

I like the look of both stitch patterns, but I do like knitting a bit more than purling. For this double-sided cowl, there was no reason not to work Dot stitch, with its easier-for-me Rows 1 and 3  of knitting. If I want the Sand stitch side as the RS, I simply turn the cowl inside out!

Below you’ll find the line by line instructions for each cowl, with commentary about some choices I made for each. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the design process, and give it a try yourself. I’d love to see the results!


Pebbles on the Beach

This cowl was derived from Swatch 1. On it you can see the fabric curls slightly to the Dot stitch side. To counter that curl I decided to purl the first round after the cast-on. Since there isn’t a bind off with the same baby picot look as the cast-on, I opted for the opposite texture and used a rolled stockinette top border.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted. Purl one round.

Rounds 1 and 3: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.

Repeat Rounds 1-4 seven times. Knit 3 rounds; bind off.


Pebble Pathways

This cowl was derived from Swatch 2. Since it alternates Sand and Dot, thus curving slightly from RS to WS in welts, I decided it didn’t need any special border treatments.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted.

Rounds 1 and 3: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Round 5: knit.
Rounds 6 and 8: purl.
Round 7: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 9: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Round 10: purl.

Repeat rounds 1-10 twice, 30 rows total. Bind off.


Lines in the Sand

This cowl was derived from Swatch 3. It features a central panel of Sand/Dot stitch, and has symmetrical borders top and bottom, albeit with slightly different looks top and bottom. As with Pebbles on a Beach, I chose to work with the Dot stitch side facing me. For the bottom border I used the same cast-on and purl round combo as for Pebbles on the Beach, plus one repeat of the Dot stitch before a 3-round band of purls (knits on the other side). For the top border, I worked another 3-round band of purls, then one repeat of Dot stitch, and bound off purling.

Using  US 10 [6.0 mm] circular needle and Faux Channel Island Cast-On, cast on 131 stitches. Join for working in the round, making sure the work is not twisted. Purl 1 round.

Rounds 1, 3, 5: knit.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to last st, k1.
Round 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Rounds 6-8: Purl.

Repeat Rounds 1-4 three times, then Round 5 once. Repeat Rounds 6-8 once. Repeat Rounds 1-5 once. Purling, bind off.

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From Stitch Pattern to Project Swatch

Coronado Cardi

In the last post I talked about Sand and Dot stitch, stitch patterns that are simply two sides of the same fabric. When you fall in love with a stitch pattern in a book or magazine (or website ;), the first step is to make a swatch to a) see how your fingers like making it, and b) see what the resulting fabric feels and looks like. Once you’ve decided you want to move forward with the pattern, the next step is to swatch for using it in a project.

Above you’ll see the swatch, design inspiration photos, and rough schematic which I included in my design proposal for the Coronado Cardi. When I made the swatch, I was testing the idea of beginning with a Sand stitch border, which would curl just slightly toward the body. Above the border, the body in Dot stitch would allow the multicolor yarn to take center stage, with just a smattering of purl bumps to tie the textures together. The swatch shows where I tried a buttonhole band in Sand stitch to see what that would look like.

I used the same size needle throughout. Note how on the  right edge of the main fabric the border appears just a tiny bit wider than the Dot stitch main fabric.  Since I didn’t change needles or stitch count, shouldn’t the fabric be the same width on both sides??

The top of the loop and running threads are the dominant feature of any purl-based fabric like Reverse Stockinette or Sand stitch. The width-wise character of these “frowns” and “smiles” cause the curl at top, bottom, and sides of these fabrics. Perhaps it is simply the curl that we see, making Sand stitch appear wider, or even measure as being a fraction of a fraction of an inch wider, than Dot stitch. When designing, the best you can do is make a big swatch and trust your measurements (taking the average of several).

A Simpler Project

Let’s use our base stitch patterns to make a simple circular cowl. I’m going to use the Faux Channel Island cast-on from a few weeks ago as a bottom border, and a flat edge of some kind as a top border. Looking in my stash, I found three skeins of Jamieson’s Chunky Shetland (126 yds/100g; 15 sts and 22 rows for 4 inches/10 cm on US 10), each in a different color. In Swatch 1 (amethyst), Swatch 2 (aster), and Swatch 3 (north sea) below I explored ways to vary the stitch pattern(s) that would be appropriate for my project.

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Swatch 1

The simplest thing to do? Begin with my chosen bottom border and jump right into the stitch pattern. End by working in stockinette to create an edge that rolls away from the Sand Stitch face of the fabric and toward the Dot stitch face of the fabric.

I love the way the cast-on edge works with the fabric itself. The bottom is curling up slightly, something I will need to consider as I make final decisions about the cowl I’m creating.

Swatch 2

Welting is the horizontal equivalent of ribbing, usually worked by alternating rows of Stockinette with rows of Reverse Stockinette. Here I’ve alternated a full repeat of Sand (+1 balancing row) with a full repeat of Dot (+1 balancing row), creating a reversible fabric with a three-dimensional character.

Rows 1-4: Dot Stitch.
Row 5: Knit.
Rows 6-9: Sand Stitch.
Row 10: Knit.
Repeat rows 1-10 twice, binding off on last row.

Swatch 3

In this swatch I’ve brought together features of Swatch 1 and 2. The swatch has a large middle area of Dot/Sand stitch, and borders of the same. But I’ve interrupted the patterning with 3 rows of Reverse Stockinette on the Dot stitch side, Stockinette on the Sand stitch side. The two sides of the fabric are decidedly different, with welts that pop up out of the Dot side and receding valleys of knit stitches on the Sand side.

Rows 1-4: Dot Stitch.
Row 5: Knit.
Rows 6, 8: Knit
Rows 7: Purl.
Rows 9-20: Dot Stitch.
Row 21: Knit.
Rows 22, 24: Knit.
Row 23: Purl.
Rows 25-28: Dot Stitch.
Bind off, purling.


In the final post of this series I’ll go over the process of writing up a simple cowl pattern worked in the round for each of these swatches as well as show you the results of knitting them.

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Knitting Rectangles: Transform with a Fold

Shape: rectangleTwo pairs of equal sides, four equal angles.  Whether you cast on for width and work to length, or cast on for length and work to width, knitting lends itself to making rectangles. This simple shape frees the knitter to experiment with color and pattern, no garment considerations necessary.

What types of rectangular projects do we make? Trivets, placemats, table runners, scarves, stoles, shawls, baby blankets, lapghans, afghans: all are simple rectangles. What else can we make with a rectangle if we permit slightly more complexity, allow a fold here, a seam there? Can we transform that simple rectangle into something more three dimensional?

Fold and seam the rectangleOne Fold, One Seam

One of my favorite rectangular transforms is to take one short end, and seam it along one of the long edges opposite. The resulting shape is a rough cone, smaller at the top by one short end width and larger at the bottom by one short end width. Make the rectangle small, and you’ve got scarflette; make it large and you’ve got a shoulder-hugging shawlette.

I’ve used this construction on at least four published shawlette designs. The fun in making each is in the stitch pattern or technique coupled with the yarn chosen. The resulting fabrics have different weight and drape, which effects the way each looks when worn.

Sizing the Rectangle

Making a rectangle is easy, right? But what size should it be, either for a shawlette or scarflette? How do I know it will go over my head (scarflette)? Not be too tight around my shoulders (shawlette)?

Scarflette The smaller top side of the cone needs to stretch enough to go over your head but not be so large it gapes around the neckline. The bottom side of the cone needs to be large enough to rest on your neck and upper shoulders but not so large the fabric bunches up.

The scarflette’s inner circumference is 24-1/2″ – 6″ = 18-1/2″ around. Its bottom circumference is 24-1/2″ + 6″ = 30-1/2″.

Shawlette The smaller top side of the cone needs to be large enough to go around your neckline but small enough it doesn’t slide off your upper shoulders. The bottom side of the cone needs to be large enough to accommodate your total body circumference and arm movement but not so large it flaps around.

The shawlette’s inner circumference is 42″ – 16″ = 26″ around. Its bottom circumference is 42″ + 16″ = 58″.

Both projects can be customized to fit your body. Depending on which project you’d like to make, measure around your head, neck, neckline, upper shoulders, upper body including arms. Make your rectangle slightly narrower or wider, longer or shorter to hit your measurements. Remember knit fabric stretches, and depending on the yarn and fabric, may stretch quite a lot.

Have fun!

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