Monday, 7 May 2018

How to Correct Bias from Occurring in a Knitted Garment


[NOTE - this article applies to those who knit either English or Continental style.  Both are considered "Western Knitting", and proper orientation of a knit stitch is where the right leg of the stitch is on the front needle.  If you practice "Eastern Knitting" where you knit and purl in reverse, and the left leg is on the front needle, the below article will not apply.]


Unintended bias in knitting causes a garment to twist to one side in a spiral nature and is caused by too much twist in the yarn.  This is more common in inelastic yarns like cotton and in yarns that are 2-ply.  In wool blends yarns it is most often caused by the yarn being overspun. 

Z twist yarns rarely give us trouble with creating bias.  It’s the S twist yarns that are the culprits.   This is because when a yarn is inelastic or twisted too tightly and you knit it, the very process of wrapping the yarn around the needle for each new stitch adds more twist to an S twist yarn.   Knitting removes twist from a Z twist yarn.  When the twist tightens, the entire fabric will slant or skew to one direction, which ends up wrapping around the body if you’re knitting a garment.  If you've ever had a cheap t-shirt or cotton shirt that twists, this is why.  The side seam ends up swirling around to the front and back of the top and it just won't hold straight no matter what you do it.  

It doesn’t matter whether you knit English or Continental style, because when you knit either style, the yarn is traveling around the needle in the same direction.  In Continental style, your fingers make smaller movements and the needle moves around the yarn instead of guiding the yarn around the needles with your fingers which happens in English style.  But when you examine each in slow motion, you’ll see that the yarn is wrapped counterclockwise around the needle in both methods.  Once you've knit a stitch, the right leg of the stitch will be on the front of the needle and the left leg of the stitch on the back of the needle. 

Bias is more noticeable in Stockinette stitch.  When you incorporate a combination of knit and purl stitches, it can help but not always.  Cables can actually increase the bias because of the extra tightness that occurs when forming them.  Working in twisted stitches can cause more twist as well which is what we are trying to avoid in overly twisted yarns.

If you’ve wound your own skein and are pulling from the center, pull out a foot of yarn and hang it next to a foot of yarn from the outside.  The yarn in the center may be pulled tighter than the yarn at the outside, because when you’re first getting the swift going, if you allow the ball winder to pull yarn from the stationary swift, it will stretch tightly at first.  Once you get some momentum going and less yarn is on the swift, you’ll notice that the tension eases off.  However, this is not causing the bias.  

When you examine two pieces of yarn, one from the center and one from the outside of the cake, the center strand may be pulled tighter but the amount of twist remains the same.  Once you remove the tension from the center, both strands should lie the same.  If you just pull on a strand, it makes it tighter, but doesn’t affect the twist.  The amount of twist can be determined by looking at the number of crosses that one strand makes on the other.  The closer the diagonal lines are together the more twist you have.  Measure out about 6” of yarn from the center of the skein and 6” from the outside, then count the number of diagonal slants in each piece.  If they are close to the same then you have the same amount of twist in each end of the yarn. 

More often than not, the root of the problem lies with the way the yarn is spun before you buy it.  Bias cannot be steamed out.  Severe blocking may help, but once the fabric is dry it will have a tendency to skew again.  Knitting flat & seaming the sides is better than knitting in the round but again, it will not eliminate it.  

The correction needs to be made during the act of knitting. 

For overspun yarns, one easy, but time-consuming method is to pull out a yard or so of yarn, take a clothespin and clip the yarn to the ball.  Let the ball of yarn hang from the work so it untwists itself, then knit normally from the untwisted yarn.  Or by hand, untwist a section of yarn, clip it to something (pillow, blanket, your shirt, anything really), and knit until you reach the clip.  Then untwist another section and keep doing this.  Eventually you’ll need to let the ball spin itself back to a normal position.  

Another better, faster remedy when working in Stockinette is to wrap the yarn in the opposite direction (under and clockwise instead of over) when forming the purl stitch on the WS rows.  Then when you’re working the RS rows, knit each stitch through the back loop.  This untwists the yarn and you’ll notice instead of a tightly swirled S on the needle, you’ll find a very loose one that almost resembles a single ply.  If you’re working with 2 ply yarn, instead of a twist on the needle, you may actually see both plys squeezed together and lying almost side by side, with just a little twist between them.  

If you’re working in a combination of stitches this becomes a bit trickier, since the front & back of the same stitch need to be altered in order to reduce the amount of twist in the yarn, and at the same time prevent the stitch from becoming twisted.  A twisted stitch has the bottom two strands of the V crossed.  When you pull the stitch apart, instead of the V opening up at the bottom, you’ll see the strands crisscross and become tight.  You do not want twisted stitches (unless the pattern calls for them in the design.)

By wrapping the yarn around the needle the wrong way (clockwise) when making a purl stitch, and knitting through the back loop when knitting this same stitch on the next row, you are orienting the stitches on the needle so that the left leg is at the front of the needle and the right leg is at the back.  This is opposite of how stitches are normally oriented.  If you were to only do one of the two, for example, knit a stitch through the back loop, then purl it normally on the WS row, you would have a twisted stitch.  But since you’re knitting through the back loop on the RS AND wrapping the yarn around the needle clockwise when purling on the WS, both actions counter each other out and the stitches remain untwisted.  And you are accomplishing your task of untwisting the yarn every time you work a stitch. 

Most of the time we don’t realize we have a problem until we’ve knitted a few inches and the fabric begins to slant.  If you notice that the yarn is kinking and doubling back on itself, that’s a sign that it’s spun too tightly.  Removing some twist at this point may save you time in the long run.  Watch the yarn as you go though.  Sometimes you'll find sections of yarn with a tighter than normal twist, then it evens out.  

I hope this tip helps and that it brings some answers to the puzzle of unintended bias.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you can fix the problem as you knit you’ll be able to continue creating a garment that you can be proud of.  
References:  



“Adding twist to splitty yarns."  07MAY18.  <https://yarnsub.com/articles/techniques/adding-twist/>



Thursday, 12 April 2018

Master Knitters in Dallas

DFWFiberFest 2018 was such an amazing event.  Anytime you have a large gathering of knitters, oodles of yarn, gadgets you didn't know existed, classes, lectures, hands on events, and a wealth of knowledge being exchanged, you KNOW it's a great place to be.  And since we were in Texas, everything was bigger, including the collection of yarn on the convention floor!  TKGA Masters Day was sold out to knitters working on their masters certification.  We managed to gather all Master Knitters together for a group photo at the end of the day.  We are tired from a long of day of teaching, learning and coordinating, but we smiling!  Yes, that's one happy group of knitters.  


For more information about becoming a Master Knitter or The Knitting Guild Association, visit 



Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wendy Cardigan - Yes Summer is Coming!


The Summer 2018 issue of Creative Knitting is in mailboxes and store shelves, and the northeast is getting snow - again.  At some point we will finish up the thick wool turtlenecks and look for a lighter, warmer-weather knit.  

Wendy Cardigan uses eyelets against a background of stockinette in diagonals for a flattering look.  The open front makes finishing a breeze and the yarn is TO DIE FOR.  If you've ever avoided linen or cotton, or if you have hand/arm pain when knitting with stiff yarns, you really should try Plymouth's Nettle Grove.  It glides through your fingers effortlessly and has a nice crunchy feel.  It's a sport weight yarn (45% cotton, 28% linen, 12% nettle, 15% silk; 218 yds/50g per skein) shown in sapphire # 42.  Cardigan uses 5 (6, 7, 7, 8) skeins.










For more information, visit Ravelry or Annie's website. 

Pattern is available in print in Creative Knitting Spring 2018's magazine, or online from Annie's. 

This issue has 15 patterns and you can see them all 
here.

Happy Knitting!

DonnaEstinDesigns






Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Masters Day Class Schedule DFW FiberFest 2018


Here is the schedule of classes for Masters Day April 5, 2018:





If you are working on your Masters in Hand Knitting Certification or just thinking about it, but have not signed up the Master Day Courses, stop by The Knitting Guild Association’s booth to get more information, talk to the instructors, committee members, discuss swatches, and more.  The booth will be staffed with members of the review committee who will be glad to take a look at any swatches that you need a second set of eyes on, before submitting them.  



If you are attending, you have the freedom to visit any of the classes regardless of the level you are currently working on.  In addition, you will be given handouts on ALL of the classes, not just the ones you attend, so you’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge.  
  --  "Knowledge is power."  Sir Francis Bacon. 


I hope to see you there!



“The Knitting Guild Association is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to providing education and resources to knitters to advance their mastery of the craft of knitting. We support serious knitters in their efforts to perpetuate traditional techniques and keep the artisan aspects and high quality standards of the craft alive.”



For more information about the show, visit




For more information about The Knitting Guild Association, visit




Saturday, 24 February 2018

Book Review - The Art of Fair Isle Knitting


The Art of Fair Isle Knitting, by Ann Feitelson:  Loveland, CO, Interweave Press, 1993, 183 pages, ISBN 1-883010-20-9, $34.95.  Reviewed by Donna Estin.



Having a marketable product that the mass population links exclusively to you is the key to financial stability.  While no one knows the thought process behind the first Fair Isle design, Ann Feitelson begins her book with a historical journey examining the coalition of home based hand knitters and merchants who created a unique product that allowed Fair Isle and the rest of the Shetland Islands to flourish economically.


This book is divided into thirds; history, technique and patterns.  The history is crucial for understanding the importance of a simple, repeating design, (i.e. speed = quantity = money). Appreciation of the coordinated efforts of a group of islanders that raised sheep, created a style, hand knitted garments, promoted their product and created a sustainable economy for decades gives depth to the art of Fair Isle.  It leads you to knit with more knowledge and a deeper grasp of the art form you are continuing.  You must understand a tradition wholly, in order to carry it on, otherwise it becomes diluted, cheapened and forgotten.


Enlightened by the history, the author leads you by the hand into the science of selecting colors with the goal of teaching you to design your own Fair Isle sweater.  For the color-challenged knitter, this book gives sample color palettes in appealing combinations.  And if the comprehensive color shading, technique and design are just too much to absorb the first time around, the rest of the book provides over twenty patterns ready to knit. 


I thought I knew Fair Isle, but this book illuminated all that I didn’t know and challenged some of my preconceived notions.  The book trained my eye to look upon a sweater and see not a random collection of colors, but a well-thought out scheme of complimentary colors shaded from light to dark with opposing contrasts between background and pattern.  And what I thought had been originally designed centuries ago to look artful, delicate and complex, was really designed to be simple, easy to memorize and knittable at great speeds to ensure commercial success.


Some of the looks are dated but in all fairness, many patterns are twenty years old.  For me, the return to varied, undyed wools and neutral colors is the most appealing.  Like a tide coming in and out, the popularity of this design has moved in and out of fashion.  But the flexible, warm fabric knitted to withstand weather seems to be forever connected to harsh weather climates and like the changing tides, is constant and always with us.  I have a new appreciation for Fair Isle and a much deeper understanding.  This book deserves to be read twice and holds answers to the how and whys of Fair Isle knitting that would benefit every knitter embarking on this style.

www.donnaestindesigns.com



Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Winter Cabled Socks


Sometimes you just want a soft, thick, squishy sock that’s fast to knit and one you’ll wear all the time.  When you want a pair to keep by the door and slip on every time you enter the house, this is the sock.  It’s great for wearing indoors on cold hard wood floors since it’s thick and spongy.  Knit with worsted weight yarn in mostly 2x2 ribbing, it keeps the cold out.  Pretty cables run down the center and are great if you’re new to cables, or just like the look of something pretty without too much work.  These socks knit up quickly, easily, and are really hard to make just one pair.  The pattern is written for mid-calf but you can easily make these knee socks by working 12-13” before beginning the heel, or ankle socks (to be worn like booties) by beginning the heel just after the ribbing is finished. 


Skill:  Intermediate

Worsted 
21 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches in St st
Needles:  US 6 - 4.0 mm double pointed needles
Women's M/L 
This pattern is available for $2.99 USD

For Pattern Info - Click Here
To Start Knitting Now - Download PDF 

Pattern is written out and charted, with schematics.






Wednesday, 27 December 2017

On Your Way to the Masters Day 2018


If you're working on your Masters, sign up for Masters Day at the Dallas Fiber Fest!  There are so many great classes to help you on Level 1, 2, and 3.  Join me in either Pattern Design for Hats & Sweaters or Picking up Stitches & say hi!

www.donnaestindesigns.com

www.dfwfiberfest.org