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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

Knitting Tips & Techniques – April 1, 2014

Knitting Tips: Chic Knits Knit Blog
v.3 How I Knit Sleeves

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: Knitting Sleeves is in the top 10 things knitters (including me) just don’t like to do…
But what’s a sweater without sleeves? (three guesses and the first two don’t count cuz that’s a joke son!)

Lately, in the multi-project sample world I’m living in, there are WIP’s in various stages all over the place, so at the very least, if I am stumbling in my motivation to finish something, I can reward myself by working for a short while on a different design.

But at some point, it just has to be done…

Here’s how I knit sleeves without losing my mind:

  • one part Organization: gathering all the materials together that will make it a less frustrating outing. On hand? Needles, wound yarn, hanging stitch markers, measuring tape and snacks. :)
  • one part Nurturing: not procrastinating to the point of having to do both sleeves in less than 2 days – no elbow blow outs or repetitive stress please.
  • one part Commitment: know that the thing is just not going to knit itself and the only way I can wear or show the new garment is by biting the bullet (and then biting some chocolate).
  • and most importantly — one part Temptation: mainly in the form of viewables (movies, tv, netflix, etc) heavily supplemented by liberal periodic rewards of, again(!) bitti-bites of chocolate, not a lot, just a smalll break in the proceedings. THIS is my version of being a (sleeve) WHISPERER…and I will attest, it works.

Here’s what I’m working on right now – the first sleeve of a sample cardigan in lovely blue 10 ply wool — this is the result of two evenings knitting –

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All of the above tips were corralled and put into play in the making of this sleeve.

The viewable? Game of Thrones Season 3: episodes 1-4!

This is actually a little more of an action/intense oriented background event than I usually indulge in because of…

…no, not all the sword-play BUT the the fantastic WARDROBE dressing that is on all of the characters!

It’s a bit distracting because I want to stop and rewind and inspect the details of all those glorious costumes instead of keeping up a nice even tempo with my stitching.

This sleeve is being worked in-the-round (top-down) using two circular needles. This, for me, is the fastest way to make a consistently even fabric. YMMV, toolwise but the goal is the same.

Also, I’ve used my favorites, hanging markers to easily keep track of all of the sleeve shaping. Before I started, while gathering the yarn, needles and measuring tape, I counted out markers according to the number of decreases the pattern called for, using one color for the first row-decrease rate and a second color for the other row-decrease rate.

After I complete a shaping decrease, I hang a marker through the center of it. That leaves a trail of marker “bread crumbs” along the shaping line and there is no need to count anything except the rows/rounds between the decreases. When your markers are used up, your sleeve is almost done.

Then, when I’m making the second one, I take the markers from sleeve #1 as I make decreases on sleeve #2.

This is the easiest way to to not having to seriously pay attention while you’re stitching! You can just go round and round and round and every 8 or six or ten rounds or whatever’s called for, do the shaping as needed.

Not sure if I should admit this, but if it’s a Stockinette st sleeve, chances are I’m not even looking at it for a great amount of time while I’m working on it. At some point, a rhythm gets going and you only have to engage visually when you feel the end of the section and turn for the next needle’s worth of stitches.

All the more merry time to watch the on-screen drama or reach for that chocolate reward…

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