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Knitting Tips & Techniques – May 27, 2014

Knitting Tips: Chic Knits Knit Blog
v.3 Using Scrap Yarn to Aid Measuring…

Many of you have asked about a longer version of Chic Knits new Abria pattern and I’ve been working on a sample (made in Silky Wool) to test out some shaping mods…

Lots of progress was made this weekend and I added a few inches to the original length and at the same time, added stitches to the body of the piece.

The general plan? Everywhere the pattern said to do an underarm decrease, I instead did a paired increase. This now gives the cardigan a slight swing shape; but to be sure it was time to go up on the Studio Chic mannequin and give it a real-time inspection. (No fit mannequin? No problem – lay out flat on a table and do the same checks as below…)

At first, I slipped about half the stitches to a spare circular needle so the stitches were split between two needles. Although this works in a pinch pretty well, this time it just flared out dramatically (the needle cables were too stiff) and it didn’t really give me a honest perspective on what was going on with my mods.

So, it was time to try a little tip that requires a small time commitment but really lets you go forward with confidence about your progress.

Knitting Tips: How to Measure a Sweater Using Scrap Yarn

To get a flatter manageable edge, I slipped the stitches off the working needles onto yarn that’s a little larger gauge than what I’m knitting with. The bulkier yarn aids in preventing bottom rolling.

Then I moved and slid the stitches around on the scrap yarn to be as evenly distributed as I could to create and edge without as much flare or flip as I could.

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Now, keep in mind, this is un-blocked fabric and might still pucker a little and not look 100% perfect, but overall, it is a nice and relatively easy way to get accurate dimensions established. I can see that my shaping is working and I can go on finish the body section knowing I hit the goal I was shooting for with my mods.

If you prefer a smoother appraisal, take a page from sewing techniques and steam press the garment in-progress and then take your measurments.

This is also the perfect time to Try On Your Sweater! Take advantage of one of the best reasons to knit garments from the top-down to see if your fit is meeting your expectations. I also laid my sweater flat on another sweater that fits me really well to get even more fit information.

…Next: putting the stitches back on the needles? No fear – it’s easy…

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Knitting Tips & Techniques – Short Row Shaping – May 1, 2014

Knitting Tips: Chic Knits Knit Blog
v.2 Basic Short Row Shaping For Knitting

Recently, I’ve been working on an intriguing construction that continues a theme that’s been evolving on my design timeline.

Over the last couple of years, my portfolio has grown with a selection of no-seaming modular-type styles and this new design does that and more with another interesting technique.

It is know as Short Row Shaping.

With a tip of the hat to Throwback Thursday, I offer you a revised version of something I wrote for in its early days, circa 2003, when I was penning as La Bonne Tricoteuse (or “the good knitting woman”).


Knitting Tips: How to Use Short Row Shaping

Here’s a sampling of the mail I’ve been getting from you shapelies out there:

From Jennifer:
“I’m a busty gal and I’ve heard of doing short row shaping to eliminate the weird fit around my armpits. How do you modify an existing pattern to add short row darts?”

From Patricia:
“My question is: Can you explain how to add short row shaping to an existing pattern to help out those of us who could use a little ease in the chest area? I could do without that unflattering underarm wrinkle. If you could answer this question, you’d be doing a great service for the anti-Kate Mosses everywhere.”

What are short rows?

Ahh, a wonderful technique that no knitter should be without. Short rows make curves or soft angles on the mostly straight-edged, flat-paneled knitting landscape.

Short row shaping accomplishes this by partially knitting an existing row to a pre-determined stitch count, wrapping a stitch without knitting it, then turning the work and working back to the same (or another) count, and wrapping and turning again.

This adds rows within the body of the garment without increasing stitches, or casting-on more stitches.

Most importantly, you’re not changing the overall shape of the exterior of the garment but selectively adding length or a curved area (depending on the stitch counts and rows worked).

Short row shaping can also eliminate the step effect you get when you bind off shoulders. If a pattern has instructions for binding off stitches over several rows, short row shaping can be used instead over those incremental stitch counts to create a smooth angled edge instead.

Or they can make sock heels elegantly curved.

OR, and this is where we are going to live for a while, short rows can add some curve if you got the nerve.

A little cuppage created right into your garment might just be the difference between gaping armholes, an un-intended ride-up by your belly button, or having to make a size larger that fits your chest but sags on your hips and shoulders, because the garment is just too big.

This is an easy, sophisticated, non-obtrusive technique.

From Barbara:
“I think I have a major learning disability here with short rows. I’ve tried them in the past and I just can’t wrap my mind around them. I can’t stand it when I can’t learn from a book but I don’t know anyone who knows how to do this either and I can’t seem to break into the clique at the local yarn shop when all I have in my basket is a couple of balls of sock wool.”

Ah, my poor neglected online knitter – La Bonne Tricotuese is here to the rescue!

And joining us for this marvelous exercise in body-sculpting is prima designer Joan McGowan-Michael from White Lies Designs.


She has most graciously given us permission to deconstruct her wildly popular (and free) Shapely Tank Top Pattern that has short row shaping on its curved hem AND in the chest area to add a custom-fit according to your shape.

White areas show short row shaping at the bust and at the hem of the Shapely Tank.

When used at the hem, they provide extra fabric that, when blocked, creates the shirt-tail like bottom.

When used at the bust as shown, they create something of a pocket for the fullness of the bust to fit into without disturbing the side seams.


So: get the pattern (look for "FREE from website, click for printable pattern") or use one that you’d like to try this short row shaping technique on and let’s get started…


Basic Short Row Shaping

1. Ready to short row wrap –
we’ve knit up to the last 3 stitches.

2. Insert right-hand needle into the front of the next stitch (purlwise) and slip onto the right-hand needle.

3. Bring yarn to front of work, then slip stitch back to left needle.

4. Turn work, bring yarn to front (or wherever it needs to be, depending on whether you are knitting or purling), completing the wrap.

Finish working the row, short-row wrapping the next indicated stitch.

5. Continue as pattern directs until
all short row shaping is finished.

Here we see all six stitches wrapped at the side of the garment. Notice how an angle is formed by only partially knitting a segment of the garment.

6. On the final 2 rows, when you knit or purl across, insert needle into wrap first, then knit/purl as appropriate together with the wrapped stitch.

7. This is the bottom – curved hem – that is formed by the technique.

Blocking flattens the area thoroughly.

8. Here you can see how the short row shaping forms cuppage for the top of the garment.


That’s all there is to it!

After you finish the hem, keep following the pattern to where it refers to the bust shaping. This is the area on the black & white graphic above where short rows can be added to create added ease in the garment to fit your bust requirements.

The pattern says:
“Note: If you wear a C-cup bra or larger, here is the place to put more short rows as worked at the bottom edge. Repeat those instructions once for a C-cup, twice for D, etc. After all short rows have been completed, work one final row across all sts, picking up wraps.”

So: for a C-cup you would short row until 6 stitches on each side of front have been wrapped.

For a D-cup, you would short row until 12 stitches on each side of front have been wrapped.

For a B-cup with ease, you could short row until 3 stitches on each side of front have been wrapped, which would solve the armhole gaping problem many of us have.


The possibilities are endless if you think about it. :)

The wonderful thing about this concept is that you can do this on all your designs that have tightness in the front – short row a custom-fit in the area about 2-3 inches below any armhole shaping.

If you still are having trouble wrapping your brain around this, try this technique out with some scrap yarn first on a swatch using about 30 stitches. Once you get the hang of it, it is like truly a eureka moment. Very easy to do, very tricky to explain.


Find all of Chic Knits Knitting Tips HERE

MUSE: the Power of the Swatch April 17, 2014

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All day long 24/7 our brains are ingesting cues — into the mix pours a never-ending stream
of everywhere signals…

Putting together a new design takes the commitment to go down all sorts of roads.

The best itinerary is linear; draw, source, swatch, knit, etc. all the way to a modeled finished garment ready for its turn on whatever “runway” universe it is going to live.

This, however, is just like any other trip you take in life. It is never that straight of a shot. There’s always unexpected often third-party interruptions that make the road curve, change direction (or even disappear).

Consider: one of the primary essential functions of knitwear designing is matching a fiber to a style.

Chose one that is too dense and the garment is a one-man walking yurt; chose one that is too loose and drapey and the garment unintentionally goes to live only with the fairies.

And then, there is that quintessential moment: a look and feel that is not only wearable but tells a Story.

Shop any clothing site online and you will find those story categories. It would be odd indeed if all wearables were bunched together in a big closet in the sky and you only had to touch them with your magic wallet to get a match with all of the other pieces you might be putting together to make An Outfit. It takes engagement on your part.

This Outfit is your expression of the Story — where you take coverings for various parts of your body and sync them together to form a functioning whole.

Most often, An Outfit is tied to some kind of event. From your daily office wear to a walk down the aisle, there is going to be a stylized category that goes even deeper that lets you narrow your tale’s focus.

Different fabrics and styles combine together to make the statement that’s appropriate to an intended category.

Few people would wear denim to the prom or another type of touchstone elegant event; more people would wear something shiny, bright and a little more ethereal.

And when we’re knitting, we’re making those same decisions.

from the knit blog at Studio Chic Knits

Ultimately, we’re creating a fabric-centric wearable that has form and function. And here’s where it gets tricky.

Above you see a trio of swatches. One (no names to protect the innocent) is something that I recycled and thought would be perfect for a new prototype lurking on the design board.

It made it through about 1/3 of the way to the destination before it met its terrifying crossroad.

Up on the mannequin, there are no lies.

And even though this was shaping up to be a successful style, it was not making a successful fabric.

So back to the drawing board (or in a knitter’s case, the stash).

Two more similar gauge yarns took their turn on the needles. Only one continued on the journey.

While few would probably say it’s a best-case scenario to take steps back, in practice most often is the best choice. And, at this point, it is not that much of a detour because that huge “swatch #1” was a fine proving ground that doesn’t have to be repeated, but now becomes a canvas to be edited and fine-tuned.

So, I embrace these changes as a fundamental part of the process.

This is a lovely round cul-de-sac not a dead end and that new momentum of having confidence in the fabric being created will boomerang a design straight towards its lovely finish.

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