Fino Mini Madness

Category: Tutorial

About a month ago we spotlighted some Fino Mini-Skein projects and we’re happy to report that mini madness continues! For this post, we took one of our Fino Mini-Skein sets and matched it up with another hot trend: the fade.  

We decided that a pair of handknit mitts would be the perfect project to showcase a fade, and started with the Augusta Fino Mini-Skein set:

Fino Mini Skein Bundle in Augusta

This set contains five 20g skeins in the colorways: 415 – Silver Tea Set, 404 – Watered Silk, 429 – Storm Glass, 405 – Peacock Plume, and 427 – Mourning.

 

Considerations

When trying to adapt a pattern to fade between minis, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Pattern: If you’re starting with a pattern that is already written (as we did), consider fairly simple patterns to let the yarn color palette shine. Anything that is busy with pattern stitches might be too jumbled with the addition of color changes.
  • Transitions: In the sample shown below we opted to do a 4-round transition. In the case of Colors 1 & 2, we knit a section of the pattern in Color 1, then worked 1 round each with colors 2, 1, 2, 1 for a total of 4 rounds, and then continued on through Color 2. We repeated this process 3 additional times until we had all of our colors in sequence. You may wish to do more or fewer transition rounds, but either way, this is something you’ll want to plan before you start.

You could also consider transitions in linen stitch or by knitting a few rows of stranded 1×1 colorwork (see the Golden Pear Hat for example).

  • Sections of Color: The biggest question when adapting a pattern to fading is how long do you want each color section to be? Choosing a pattern may help dictate this, and you may have feelings on whether you want to feature certain colors more than others. Since the Fino Mini-Skeins are all the same yardage it may just be easiest to divide the pattern into 5 roughly equal segments.

 

Project

After looking through patterns on Ravelry, we chose the Colorblock Handwarmers by Purl Soho, a great free pattern. This was the perfect simple pattern to highlight the color changes and was written for a yarn similar to Fino. The pattern was originally written for four colors, so adding a fifth didn’t prove too difficult; we simply divided the portion below the hand into three roughly equal segments.

Here’s how to knit our fade version of the Colorblock Mitts using the following steps:

Step 1: Swatch to determine gauge on the mitts. Though the pattern recommended using US #3 needles, we found the fabric to be too loose and went down to US #1.5 needles to get a gauge we liked to knit the Small/Medium size (ultimately we ended up with a Small pair of mitts, so if you’re looking for a Medium size you might want to go up a needle size or knit the larger size).

Step 2: Starting with Color #1, in this case, Silver Tea Set, knit per pattern instructions until work measures approximately 2.25” from the cast-on edge.

Step 3: Add in Color #2, Watered Silk, and work 4-round transition as noted above. Cut Silver Tea Set and continue working with Watered Silk until the mitts measure approximately 5.5” from the cast-on edge.

You may see a very slight stripe jog as you work, but you’ll see in the finished mitts that it’s not very noticeable at all. If you’re concerned about that jog, you could simply omit the four-round transition and move directly from Color #1 into Color #2.

Fingerless Mitts in Fino Mini Skeins

Step 4: Add in Color #3, Storm Glass, and work 4-round transition as noted above. Cut Watered Silk, and continue knitting with Storm Glass until the mitts measure 8” from the cast-on edge.

Step 5:  Add in Color #4, Peacock Plume, and work 4-round transition as noted above. Cut Storm Glass, and continue working with Peacock Plume (you should be working the thumb opening by now). As a side note, the pattern we chose already had two color sections in the hands, built around the thumb opening, and we chose to use these color breaks as guides.  

Step 6: As soon as the thumb opening is complete, knit two additional rounds of Peacock Plume, then add in Color #5, Mourning, and work 4-round transition as noted above. Cut Peacock Plume, and continue on with Mourning.

Step 7: Follow pattern instructions to complete the mitt in Mourning.

Repeat Steps 2-7 to make the second mitt and you’re done!

Finished Fingerless Mitts faded with Fino Minis

We hope this project gave you some ideas on how to incorporate our Fino Mini-Skeins into fading projects. We’d love to see your interpretations and fade projects – please share your projects to Facebook, Instagram, or Ravelry!

Tips and Tricks for Managing Brioche

Category: Tutorial

One of our newest free patterns, the Byberry Scarf by Lisa R. Myers, is a beautiful 2-color brioche project that is great for beginners.  If you are new to the technique, brioche can be a little intimidating to knit.  First, there are new symbols and abbreviations to learn. Then you have to remember to work each row twice, once in each color.  But once you get those elements down, you’ll need to advance to learning how to fix mistakes. Today we’ll cover some tips and tricks for managing your brioche mischief.

Lifelines

The first thing we recommend if you’re new to brioche knitting is to make use of lifelines. A lifeline is a piece of waste yarn that you run through a row of stitches with a darning needle.  Lifelines are often used in lace projects so that if you drop stitches or discover mistakes you can go back to a place in your knitting where things were in good shape. Given that each row in brioche consists of knit or purl stitches and slipped stitches with their accompanying yarn overs, a lifeline can be a true lifesaver if you need to rip back. You can place lifelines as frequently or as infrequently as you wish and that frequency can change as you become more comfortable with brioche.

The photo shows a lifeline being added (the green yarn going through the live stitches on the needle). The blue lifeline was added a couple inches back and can be removed since the work above it is all in order.

Fixing Mistakes on the “Right Side”

We have found that when fixing mistakes in brioche it’s helpful to try and fix your errors on the right side of your knitting. However, that can be a little tricky in 2-color brioche because each color has a dominant, or right, side. When you have to fix a problem like a dropped or mistake stitch, try starting on the side of your knitting where that stitch should be in a column of knit stitches.  

 

First, lay your knitting out flat to diagnose where the dropped or mistaken stitch lies. Then, either slip stitches onto a spare needle until you get to that column, or start to work the next row, moving towards that stitch.

When you reach the column that contains your dropped or mistaken stitch, you can gently ladder down the column until you get to the errant stitch.

Fix the problematic stitch, and then you will gently begin to work your way back up to your needle. Remember that you will be forming knit stitches out of your dominant color on that side and that for each new knit stitch that you create, you will need to loop the corresponding yarnover together with that stitch.  You may wish to use a crochet hook to aid you in this process.

For a great video on how to fix dropped stitches in brioche, you can also check out The Unapologetic Knitter’s tutorial. Crafts from the Cwtch also provides a great video tutorial to help you turn a mistaken purl stitch into a knit stitch.

Knitting with the Wrong Color

If you are new to 2-color brioche knitting, or even if you’re an old pro, you’ll probably pick up the wrong color at the wrong time. It happens to the best of us.  At this point, you’ll have two choices to fix the error. First, you can tink (“un-knit”) back to the row where you made the mistake. This may be time-consuming, but if your error is just a few rows back, it may be the best option. The second option is to pull out your work back to your lifeline. Remember how we said lifelines could be useful? If you have added a lifeline to your work recently, you can simply pull your work off of your needles and unravel your knitting back to the last “safe” point (your lifeline). Then thread your needle through your stitches, and then start again.

Knitting when you should purl; purling when you should knit.

There is a rhythm to brioche knitting. While you’re still getting into the rhythm, you may slip and purl stitches when you should slip and knit, or vice versa. As with tips above, you’ll have two options. You can tink back to the beginning of the row where you made your mistake, or you can drop down to your trusty lifeline.  

We hope that this tutorial has helped you troubleshoot your brioche knitting. We encourage you to try knitting the Byberry Scarf if you’re new to brioche knitting and to stay tuned for our fall collection which will feature at least one brioche pattern. If you have more questions or want to share photos of your beautiful projects, you can find us here on the blog or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Ravelry!

Knitting with Alternating Skeins of Manos del Uruguay Yarns

Category: Tutorial

No Dye Lots Here

Manos del Uruguay Yarn tags

Larger projects using multiple skeins of yarn are an investment of both your time and money – so of course you want the outcome to be phenomenal! A hand-dyed yarn will produce unique results, and there are a few simple tricks to maximize the natural color variations that result from this type of yarn.

First, making sure you have enough yarn is key – a good guideline is to purchase an extra “safety skein” of yarn so that you avoid playing “yarn chicken” while knitting your project. You can always use this skein to make a coordinating accessory!

Next, there is a simple method for minimizing the subtle variations from skein to skein: alternating skeins of yarn as you work. While Manos del Uruguay yarns are hand-dyed at the same time in the same dye pot, the color saturation can be uneven, and so we recommend this technique for projects requiring more than one skein of yarn.

Such color differences may not be plain to the eye until the yarns are knit up side by side in the fabric, so by alternating skeins, you will minimize them because your eye will naturally “blend” the colors together.

Two Skeins of the Same Color

Here we have two skeins of Manos del Uruguay Clara in the Obispo colorway. They look similar enough in the hank and in the yarn loop, but if you look close, you’ll see that each has different lighter and darker spots. This is most visible in the wound skeins on the right:  the skein on the bottom clearly has more lighter, pinker spots than the one on top. Knitting each skein one by one in succession will result in a visible line where the new yarn began.

Alternating Skeins Makes the Colors Blend

The simple solution is to alternate skeins to blend the color variations. When knitting flat, you will  work two rows from one skein, then two rows from another skein (as shown above). Note: you do not have to cut the yarn! Let the first yarn hang down, and gently pull the second yarn to the outside to begin using it on the next two rows. Then, drop the second yarn and pick up the first yarn to work with once more, continuing in this manner until you’re done! For a project where you work in the round, you can use one skein for the first round and the other skein for the next, alternating in perpetuity.

Applying a black and white filter to your swatch photos will help to show the tonal variations you may otherwise miss. The top two swatches are both knit from different skeins of the same color; the top left has areas that are darker and the top right has areas that are much lighter.

The bottom swatch was knit by alternating both of these skeins, which blends the lighter and darker areas together to avoid flashing and pooling. The result is a swatch with more even color distribution.

The time and effort put into a hand knit or crocheted garment should feel satisfying. You can find a rhythm in alternating skeins as you work, and the finished result will make it all worthwhile!

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Knitting Tips for the Trufa Shawl

Category: Featured Projects, Tutorial

Knitting Tips for the Trufa Shawl

Trufa, designed by Corrina Ferguson, is a crescent-shaped shawl knit with two skeins of Manos del Uruguay Serena. The body of the shawl is constructed with short rows followed by a lace section and a simple crochet edging. Here we would like to share our tips to help you master the techniques necessary to cast on and complete this beautiful design! 

Cast on for Trufa in Manos del Uruguay Serena

Casting On & Immediate Increases

Sometimes the trickiest part of the pattern is just getting started and set up. For this lace shawl tutorial, we begin with a long tail cast on. Here the key is to make it loose enough. We do not recommend using a larger needle size, as that will only make the stitches larger.  The goal is to leave some space between the stitches allowing room for the increases in the following row. To do this, give the strand over your thumb a little extra slack. 

Immediately the pattern calls for increasing the number of stitches by working a knit, a yarn over, and a second knit into the same stitch. Excluding the first and last stitch, each stitch after completing the increase is now 3 stitches, as seen in the images below. 

Cast-on for Trufa in Manos del Uruguay Serena

Short-Row Shaping

Short rows are exactly what they sound like: a row in which you do not knit all the stitches. To work a short row, you will stop at a specific point and turn your work to continue back across the stitches you just worked until you reach the next turning point. There are a variety of different types of short rows and ultimately they all achieve the effect of creating curves in your knitting. Here, the short row begins with a yarnover, knit or purl across to the yarnover from the previous row, work two stitches together (the yarnover from the previous row and the following stitch), work two more stitches, then you turn your work and repeat. 

Here, the short row is worked in three easy steps:

  1. Begin with a yarnover, then knit or purl across to the yarnover from the previous row.
  2. Work two stitches together (the yarnover from the previous row and the following stitch).
  3. Work two more stitches in pattern, then you turn your work and repeat.

After the first few short rows, you will notice that it looks like a bump is forming, but fear not! As you continue, that bump will smooth out and blocking will reveal the magic! 

Working short rows on Trufa

Lace Knitting 

The next step of the pattern is the lace charts. We strongly encourage the use of stitch markers to mark the pattern repeats. When you transition from chart A to B, and again from B to C, keep in mind that the placement of your markers will need to be adjusted to accommodate the number of stitches in the pattern repeat.

After your lace knitting is complete, and you have cast off, it’s blocking time! Check out our tutorial post, “How to block an all-over lace pattern”, for tips on how to block your finished project.

Trufa Lace detail

The Trufa pattern is available to purchase on Ravelry, or through your Local Yarn Shop that participates in the Ravelry In-Store Pattern program.

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Trufa Knitting Tips

 

How To Block an All-Over Lace Pattern

Category: Tutorial

When you knit a project with an all-over lace design, do you stop and call the project complete just as soon as the last stitch is bound off? No matter how simple or complex the lace is, taking the time to block the project can even out the fabric and spotlight the beauty of those intentional holes! We’ll show you how to block an all-over lace pattern using Fresa as an example. Fresa is a pattern designed by Christine Marie Chen in Manos del Uruguay Maxima

Why should you block?

Manos Maxima yarn knit into a Fresa Cowl

After you’ve selected your favorite Maxima colorway (shown here in Eucalyptus), wound it, knit it, bound off the stitches and woven in the ends, you probably have a project that looks like the one on the right. You can see the eyelet stripe pattern, but the lace is not crisp and the knit fabric is a bit uneven in some places. 

Materials Needed:

  • Your finished project
  • No-rinse wool wash
  • Towels
  • Blocking pins (T-Pins or Knit Blockers)
  • Sink or bowl
  • Water
  • Flat surface that can be left alone, like a table or floor

Before you block, take a bath!

Fresa Cowl soaked before blocking

There are several different methods to block your project. Blocking involves a bit of manipulation of the wool and that is successfully done when the wool is wet. Some knitters prefer to lay damp cloths on their project, others may lightly steam the work first. For the Fresa cowl, we choose to give it a good soak in the sink.

  • Begin by filling the sink with warm (tepid, not hot) water and a few drops of a no-rinse wool wash.
  • Place the cowl in the water, gently pushing down with your hands to submerge it and really get the water to soak into the fibers.
  • Allow the cowl time to sit and rest in the water. After 15 minutes or so, gently squeeze the water out. Do not wring the fabric; you could end up felting it! 

Next, you will need a flat surface to do the blocking. Ideally, this is a space that will not be disturbed while the project is drying: a spare table, a bed, or even the floor of another room all work well. Lay the cowl out on a few towels or blocking mats. Notice that the lace stitches in the cowl already look a bit nicer!

Stick it! Blocking begins…

Do not pin out every eyelet

Good news! Fresa has an all-over lace pattern, but you do NOT have to take a million straight pins and use them to block each eyelet open. You can save yourself a little bit of time using a set of Knit Blockers from Knitter’s Pride to block your project like so: 

Blocking the Fresa Cowl

Lay the cowl flat and even up the top and bottom edges. Place your Knit Blockers through both layers of fabric to align the top edges straight. (You can also use T-pins here, though it will take a little more time to pin the edges straight.)

Here’s a tip to avoid the cowl drying with a crease on each side: take a smaller microfiber or washcloth, roll it up lengthwise and place it inside the cowl at the edge. This will help the side edge dry on a curve, not a crease.

Next, pin the bottom edges as you did the top. That’s it! Leave the cowl to dry naturally, usually overnight or a day is long enough. When it is dry, remove the pins and cloths (if you used them), and snuggle in!

Finished Fresa

Taking the time to block your finished project will yield something you can wear with pride! If you follow these simple instructions, there is no need to be intimidated by this final step to finish your lacy knits with polish. You can do it! 

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How to Block an All-Over Lace pattern