Are you ready for more than the basics?
Have you mastered the basics now? Happy to move on to new techniques like fancy cast on and off stitches? What about blocking and sewing up?
All these techniques can add flair to your project and make sure that it looks great and is something you are proud of. Some garments traditionally have a particular cast on or off. For example, Guernsey (Gansey) sweaters have a Channel Island cast on which is worked with 2 strands of yarn and creates a strong elastic edge to the work. The neck of jumpers need a stretchy cast off to avoid you getting your head stuck the first time you pull it on! I often use the Elastic Bind off for this.
I have a useful little book that I refer to again and again, its called “Cast on, Bind off” 54 step by step methods, by Leslie Ann Bestor pub Storey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-60342-724-1 (Still available from a well known online A-Z bookstore!) Its worth investing in a reference book like this, it covers the basics and so much more. For crochet lovers, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent book, but You-Tube comes up trumps again with video clips of all sorts of cast on and bind off techniques. I like a sideways cast on for crochet called Foundation Double Crochet (fdc) and this is a great link. This cast on avoids the thin edge of a chain cast on and is more flexible and easy to start projects with because the loops to be worked are easier to see.
What is blocking? Why do I need to block my project? When you have created your project, it deserves a bit of lurve to make it look its best. Let the yarn relax and the stitches regain their shape and bounce. There are lots of ways of doing it, including using blocking mats and blocking pins. I tend to place a large towel or sheet on the floor, and gently lay the project piece(s) as flat as I can. Then using long sewing pins, I pin the edges into the towel and through to the carpet, stretching the work very gently as I do it. This blocks the piece of work to its correct shape and size. (Check the pattern for finished sizes, especially with fine, lacy work.) Using a gentle plant mist sprayer, I lightly spray the work enough to slightly dampen it, but do not soak the work. Leave it to dry, then unpin. It should stay at its new size….
Sewing together can make a project look great, or not so great! Think about the seams and how they should “lay”. do they need to be flat and smooth, like side seams, or can they be raised to give structure like a shoulder seam? What are the basics of the garment? Are the seams going to be a feature? Have a look at this link for 4 different ways to join your knitting. Have a look here for a few crochet ideas. What ever you are joining, try not to wrinkle the work to make a longer piece fit a shorter piece. You will only notice the lumps of the join forever more!! Ease extra stitches in carefully if you have to over the whole length of the seam. I like to use long pins (pinned at 90 degrees to the edge) to hold the work together as I sew.
Next week I’ll give you my 5 top tips for your best knitting or crochet project ever! Don’t miss it! The previous blogs in this series are here if you want a refresh..
Bye for now,