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

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

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!

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

From Stitch Pattern to Project Swatch

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.

SaveSave

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.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave