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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Knot on the Fabric

Overhand knots on fabric

So now that you know all about making overhand knots, it is time to put them on knit fabric. To test out what was possible I made two swatches, both with a row of elongated stitches (wrap each stitch twice, work only once into the double wrap on the following row) to work the knots along. These two rows were in Stockinette stitch on both swatches, surrounded by garter stitch on one swatch (blue) and Stockinette on the other (purple).

You’ll see double and triple overhand knots on both swatches. You’ll see I also tried several types of embellishing elements. On the blue swatch I used a bulky plied yarn and on the purple swatch I used a worsted single-spun, both on its own and worked into a crochet chain. The latter makes it easier to see what I did to knot on the fabric.

For this tutorial, we’ll be stranding across one stitch and knotting around two. I worked from left to right, but you can work either way, whichever is most comfortable. Thread the crochet chain onto a tapestry needle. Hold the non-working end off the edge of the knit fabric, horizontally to the left as if it were connected to something (in the photo. In the photo, mine is connected to a previous knot.

 

The horizontal strand connects the knot to the previous knot, so be careful you it doesn’t end up being too loose after step 4. You may need to gently redistribute extra length back through the knot itself. As when learning to knit, your fingers need some time to learn how to get the right tension on your knots.

Working with stretchy yarn is more difficult than working with rope, string, and other firm elements. Sometimes a plied yarn can become “unplied” as you tie; try working the knot the other way if this happens (i.e. under then over, rather than over then under). The twist can often be restored by simply letting go of the end so it re-twists itself; barring that try twisting it back yourself.

So what can you do with this knotting technique? How about working it across a couple of square fringed coasters? Tune in next time to see how they turn out!

 

 

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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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Stitch Pattern: Sand and Dot Stitch

Sand and Dot stitch are two sides of the same coin, much like Reverse Stockinette and Stockinette. Change WS to RS and voila: you’ve swapped one for the other as your chosen fabric. The purl bumps sprinkled liberally over the face of Sand give it the gritty character from which it derives its name. Their smooth opposite side allows the rarer purls on the Dot stitch side to pop out of the fabric in splendid isolation. Here’s how you make them:

Sand Stitch (even number of sts)Sand Stitch

Rows 1 and 3 (WS): knit.
Row 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end.
Row 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to end.

Dot Stitch (even number of sts)Dot Stitch

Rows 1 and 3 (RS): knit.
Row 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end.
Row 4: *p1, k1; repeat from * to end.

 

 

Deconstructing the Stitch Patterns: They’re Mashups

When you’ve been knitting for a while you develop mental strategies for remembering repeats. Freed from having to look back at your instructions, you can look at other things: the movie you’re watching, friends or family you are with, or simply the fabric magically developing under your moving fingers.

Read rows 2 and 4 as if they were sequential instead of separated by a row, and what do you see? And if you do the same thing with rows 1 and 3?

 

Every other row is Seed stitch. Every OTHER other row is either a knit or purl row. When you see a stitch pattern is simply a mash up of two simpler patterns it can be simple to read your work, and not have to read the instructions!

More on Pattern Mash-Ups: Inheritance

Sand and Dot inherit the characteristics of their parent patterns. Their common Seed stitch parent makes them a little shorter in height than their other parent, with more rows per inch (RPI). Their other taller parent contributes a tendency to curl at bottom, top and sides.

Coronado Cardi

Creative Knitting, Autumn 2016: Coronado Cardi

A few years back I used these stitch patterns in the Coronado Cardigan. Next post we’ll look more closely at how I used the characteristics of both stitch patterns in the design. And we’ll look at ways to play with stitch patterns in your own projects.

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