Posts Tagged ‘pattern free knitting’

This post is mainly for the knitters, but for those who crochet, you can cable too!  I found this Craftsy tutorial online for cables on crochet:  http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/12/how-to-crochet-cables/

If knitting cables is old hat for you, you probably already know all of this.  But if you are in the group who says “Wow, look at those beautiful cables on that sweater, I’d love to cable but it looks too hard.”, this post will help you out.  You don’t have to understand confusing looking charts to learn how to cable.  (I put off learning to cable for years because the charts looked hard.)  But it isn’t hard at all!  It really only requires you to look at your cable and do what it looks like needs to happen.  If you want to, you can just make them up and throw them into anything you make.  Here’s an example:RandomCables

Designing your cable:  In my recent poncho post, I showed this as my “random cable”. This is just one I made up that will go around the neckline on this work in progress.  All it takes to make it look professional is to do the same thing to each one and get a whole row of things done the same way.  To do that, make sure you always move your cables over the same number of stitches, and always at a regular interval (move cables every 2 rows, or every 4 rows for example.)  These are stockinette stitches on a garter stitch background.

I would highly recommend doing a project, (or at least a swatch with some leftover yarn), just to practice random cabling.  Just free wheel it and make stuff up as you go, and see how it all comes out looking.  That’s what I did a long time ago with this scarf.  This experimentation helped me know what worked and what didn’t.  It is a mix of random cabling of stockinette stitches with backgrounds of garter, purl and seed stitch, with garter on the edges to help foil curling.  I learned what parts want to roll inward, what parts came out looking wider, etc.  So, here we go!

Scarves - Patterned and Not

Link to post I made about this scarf while I was doing it:


How to cable

Moving stitches to the right:

Here we see a cable which I’ve moved randomly back and forth, stockinette on a purl background.  I’m 2 stitches ahead of my cable, so what I do now is stop and look at it, and decide what I want it to do.  I want this cable to now swing to the right.  I think about what will make this happen.  It will happen if the 2 stitches of stockinette cable go over the one purl stitch to the right of the cable, so that is what I’m going to do.


You need a cable needle.  You can use any big piece of bent wire if you don’t have one.  I’m going to move this cable over one stitch.  (You can also move over 2 or a few stitches if you want a more extreme bend to the right.)  I put the one purl stitch on my cable needle.


Now I think about how I want it to look.  I want the stockinette to be on the top of the right side of the cloth, so this means the cable needle stitch has to be in the back when I knit the stockinette cable stitches.  If I want the cable to move one to the right, I need to knit the cable stitches first. Throw the cable needle to the back side, then knit the 2 stitches that come next, the cable stockinettes. (photo below)


Next, put the stitch from the cable needle back onto the left hand needle, then work that stitch, (in this case, it’s a purl – do the stitch type you’re doing as your background.)  Then just continue on, working the rest of the background.


In short, just look at it, and see what it looks like you should do to achieve what you want to see.

Moving the cable to the left:

I’ve arrived at the cable, so I stop here and decide what to do.  I’m going to move these two cables toward each other, and eventually cross one over the other.  This means the first cable has to move one to the left.


I purl up to the cable, because I want to see the two stockinette stitches go over the top of the purl stitch on the left side of them, so I don’t need the purl stitch before the cable.


I put the two stockinette cable stitches on a cable needle, which will lay on the front side of the work.  (I don’t want them getting covered up, which they would if the needle with those on it hung to back side.)


I then purl the background stitch that was to the left of the cable, this moves it behind and to the right side of the cable.  Then put the 2 stitches from the cable needle back on the left needle and knit them.  You’ve finished moving the cable one to the left.


(The plan for this cable:  These two cables have been moved – one to the left which I showed you, then I moved the other one to the right – now they meet.  I’ll do the reverse side of this garment without moving any cables, then when I’m back on the right side for the following row, I’ll cross one cable over the other here.  To do that, I will move one cable over two stitches instead of one, just to get it all over at once.)


Doing a rope cable: 

This is a cable that just twists around and around itself to look like rope.  It has a stockinette background, so doesn’t stand out so much as it would if you do it over a purl, or other type of background.  To achieve rope, I wait 4 or more rows between each cable twist, (otherwise you’ll get a very tightly twisted rope – also okay, if that’s what you’re going for.)  You can see that it looks like three stitches just wrap around 3 stitches each time, and you can see what needs to happen next.  The three outlined in black will go in the front, and the three outlined in blue will go behind them.  So you have 6 stitches involved in  this cable.


When you arrive at this cable, the three on the right side (black outline) go on the cable needle and hang in the front, (because you want them to end up in the front). Knit the three on the left hand needle, (these were the blue outline stitches), which will bring those behind.


Then put the three from the cable needle back on the left needle and knit those.  Finished! Continue knitting.


How to cable a braid:

(If you don’t know how to braid, please do a search online for instructions.  You will need to know how to braid to do this cable.)  The braid cable is a little more complicated than the other three, but if you know how to braid you shouldn’t have any problem, you already know what it should look like.  The cable on the left is a braid on a stockinette background, but would stand out more on a contrasting background, as you see the cable over purls on the right side does.

I’m including a lot of detail in case it helps someone, but in short, you are only moving one section over the other, left and right, just like what was done to cable above.  I’ve covered cable braids a long time ago, but this is more detailed and has more pictures.

Lets braid: Go up to the stitches that are involved, and stop to think about what should happen next.  Notice I have a band of 3 stitches that are not involved (the three immediately after the purls).  I have already knit those to get them out of the way.  The next 9 on the left needle are all of the stitches involved in the braid.)


I’m braiding just like you would hair.  I have three equal sections to intertwine.  In this case, I made each section three stitches wide, so there are 9 stitches involved in this cable, but you only ever work with 6 at once, (you only ever cross one section over one other at a time, never two, just like when you braid).

I will keep these same three stitches outlined in yellow to make them easy to follow.  You can see below that these three are the left section that needs to cross in front of the middle section to make the next cross.  Also, you can see I waited 4 rows between moving each part of the cable, (at least up until this point, before I decided to just go crazy random with it).  I never cable on the wrong side for this, only the right side, and only every other visit to the right side.

In the photo below, I have knit 3 more stitches beyond the photo above.  To move the left section of the braid over the middle section, I don’t do anything with the right section of the braid right now.  I knit past it.


So what do you do now?  You want these 3 in yellow to go over the top of the three to the right of them.  See if you can figure out what to do with your cable needle, then check the photo below for the answer.


You can make this happen by putting the three that are next on the left needle onto a cable needle, and putting them to the back side of the work.  Now you are ready to knit the three on the left needle outlined in yellow, which will make them go in front and to the right.


After you knit the yellow ones, you put the three from the cable needle back  onto the left needle and knit those.


You’ve made the next section in the braid.  Continue the rest of the row.8BraidCable

A few rows later, how will you do the next section, which goes back the other way?  Of your nine braid stitches, three on the right hand side will have to go onto a cable needle and hang to the front while you work the three to the left of that (the middle section), then put the 3 back on the left needle and knit.  Just knit the leftmost section, and continue your row.

After you do a few cables, you will stop at the cable, look and think, and you will know what needs to happen next and how to do it.  If you make a mistake, and it doesn’t look right, it’s only a few stitches, you can always unknit those few and try again.


Making a repeating cable pattern: Once you’ve tried some cabling, and you know what cables you want to do on a project, then comes a little planning.   If you want it to come out perfect, you’ll have to do some counting to make sure you have the right number of stitches for each cable area with no leftovers.  It may be easier for you if you draw out what you want to do, just to help you count your needed number of stitches.

Counting example from what I did on the red poncho neckline above: The cable starts out 4 stitches wide at the bottom, then splits into 2 groups of 2 stitches, cabling to the left and right, then joins again as 4 at the top.  There were 10 garter stitches between each group of 4 starting cable stitches.  This means each motif was 14 stitches wide.   Great tip to make this particular cable super easy – If you do a stockinette cable on a background of garter stitch, always move your cables when you’re working on the purl side (back side) of the garment.  This will make it so the right side row is always all knits, with no cabling, all the way across!  I only moved the cables on the purl side so the knit side could always be fast and easy to do.

UPDATE:  How much random is too much random?

One piece of the poncho is complete, I still have to make the other rectangle.  Here’s how it came out.

Before blocking:


After blocking:


There might be such a thing as TOO random, as you can see by the very uneven braid.  I was still playing with this garment and doing many things in a very random way.   I didn’t worry about counting rows between crosses of the braid, so I have crossovers that are wider than others.  That can be good or bad, depending on how you view it.  If you have something so strangely made and unfactory-like, its obvious that its a home made object, not a storebought item of which there are a thousand other copies.  On the other hand, you can also view the “too random” cable as childlike, or unprofessional looking.    In the case of the leaves, I like the randomness, because it makes the cables look more like natural tree branches.  The uneven braid, I wound up liking less, because people aren’t used to seeing this much random on most sweaters.  But, that’s what can happen if you play.  As with many things I make up, it may be a little strange looking, but I will still wear it and not worry about it.

I will make the other rectangle using different motifs and see how that comes out!

Reference:  The cabled branches were random, but the leaf came from a chart.  The New Knitting Stitch Library. Lesley Stanfield. Quarto Publishing, 1992. Chart 179, pg. 116.  I didn’t do the cables on this chart, just used the center part of the chart which made the leaf shape, including the yarnovers above the leaf.






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There are some BEAUtiful pastel yarns in the baby color section.  I made this sweater using Caron Simply Soft in Baby Brights Ombre.  I’ve used this color before on an entrelac scarf and people always compliment it.

The color pattern varied with how many stitches I used per row, but seemed to mostly want to make stripes.


My mistake:  I learned something doing this.  It came out a bit short.  Not so short I can’t wear it, but shorter than it was when I held it up to myself and decided it was the right length from the hip to start the armholes.  This is why you see a bulge at the waist, that was supposed to be a bulge for the hip.  (It’s a little weirdly lumpy, but I’ll still wear it.)  What went wrong was that I overestimated how big I’d make the armholes, and made them pretty tight.  I shot for an 8″ armhole, (measured flat on one side from middle of the armpit to over the shoulder), and this turned out to fit, but it was small and effected the sweater length.  From now on I will not do armholes as small as that.


This picture is probably closer to representing the colors on this yarn.  Every pastel color of the rainbow except green.

How it was made:

I calculated my needed gauge for hips, waist and bust.  I’ve used this yarn before so I already had my # of stitches per inch.  I cast on in the round at the hip and worked upwards in a tube, increasing or decreasing as needed to reach my numbers.  I tried a knit/purl texture chart for the bottom edge, but didn’t wind up liking it.  The variation in color pretty much hid the textured pattern so you can’t even really see what it is, and it looks a bit messy.  Ribbing /garter /or seed stitch would have done the trick to prevent curling and probably looked nicer.

I divided front and back for the armholes and continued working upward (first the back piece then the front piece).  I bound off the correct # of stitches for the neck in the back and made it shallow, (just a couple of rows from the tops of the shoulders), and kept an equal # of stitches over each shoulder.  Write down how many so you don’t have figure out what that number was when you make the front to make the front shoulder stitch number equal the back number.  The front neck hole I bound off the same way, but made it a little deeper.  Then I did double crochet around the neck hole to make it look nice.  I did a pretty small opening to have the sweater up around the neck so it would be warm … and I almost messed this up!  I can fit my head through this neck hole, but just barely!  Make sure you don’t make your neck hole too small to fit your head through, or you can’t wear your sweater.

Sleeves with a shoulder cap:  I did something different this time.  I copied a pattern, but in the reverse direction.  I used the sleeve pattern of a sweater I made by calculating their number of inches they used for each part of the sleeve, then calculating my needed number of stitches to achieve this, then doing it all in reverse of the direction of the pattern, which was made from wrist to shoulder, (I do like to make things difficult, don’t I).  I did have a reason – I like to make mine from shoulder to wrist, because I can attach the sleeve after I’ve made a few inches of it, then accurately get a reading on length when I put on the sweater.

The shoulder cap part was about 6 and 3/4 inches high (from cast on to the widest part of the sleeve), and the widths had to be calculated with my gauge to come out like this.  Increase or decrease on both ends equally to make it come out a symmetrical piece.  To get the width in inches for the lower part of the sleeve, measure your arm around the elbow and around the wrist, (add room to the measuring tape for a less tight sleeve).

This is for a tightly fitted sleeve in size medium, not at all baggy.  SleeveKnittingSketchilovesocks

I see by this photo I did pretty thick seams over the shoulders.  I grabbed 2 strands of yarn from both pieces, the shoulder and the sleeve, making a 4 strand thick seam, (plus more for seaming yarn).  I probably could have grabbed only 1 piece of yarn from each piece to make it look better, but I like things bolted down and secure, so there it is.


Caron Simply Soft, Baby Brights Ombre.  Needles: size 8.  Gauge: 4.5 stitches =1 inch


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I’ve been gone a long time – I wanted to try knitting with skinny yarn, and oooo did it make the project drag out!


This is knitting art imitating life, but it was not my idea.  I was inspired by these mittens –  “Crochet Ever After”:


(I didn’t even realize I found the exact same yarn for the sky until I looked at the Ravelry page just now, I had only looked at the photo of the mittens before.  I guess this yarn is really just the perfect stuff for making twilight skies.)

The cool thing about this vest is that it’s a silhouetted treeline sky, and that part wasn’t even my idea.  So what I will say here is what happened along the way in making up a vest.

About Mini Mochi, gauge, hooks and needles: I’d recommend making a ball of it before you start, this is some stuff that loves to unball and tangle. This was Mini Mochi yarn by Crystal Palace, color 331, and size 4 needles.  For the black yarn, I had trouble finding one that matched the Mini Mochi in size that was also wool (so things would shrink at the same rate when washed), so I wound up using what I had leftover at home- Caron Simply Soft in solid black, (which is much thicker and acrylic anyway).  I stuck with the size 4 needles through the thicker yarn too.  My gauge with the Caron, 5st =1″, with the Mini Mochi, 7st.=1″.  Size B hook used for the crochet around the neck and arms.  Size G hook for the crochet around the waist and hips.

I started at the shoulder and did the front, working downwards.  I did 3 stitches worth of seed stitch at the edges to help with rolling (more might have been better – I later added double crochet around the edges because it was still rolling).  Then I worked the back piece the same way, starting at the shoulders, and seamed the pieces together at the end.  I tried with the front to get the same color on each shoulder so the two sides would match, but as you can see, that didn’t work out perfectly, my colors don’t match.  I worked both my shoulders at the same time (on the same long needle) with two balls of Mini Mochi to guarantee that I had the same number of rows on each shoulder, (I had no intention of counting skinny yarn rows).  You may notice a lumpy area right in the middle on the front, below the neck hole.  This is where I tried to do something fancy to help my mismatch that didn’t work out.  After my shoulder pieces met, I was going to gradually blend the two balls of color by stopping rows in a gradual pattern that might mimic clouds (instead of having the two balls meet in a line in the middle, or cutting one ball off and just working with one).  It didn’t work, I have a jagged line that is also lumpy.  Later I may make a black lace butterfly and slap it over the middle there to look like a big silhouette moth over the scene if it really bothers me.


I found doing it from the top down kind of awkward, so in the future, I will probably make my vests from the bottom up.  You have to swatch and do some math to figure out how many stitches to add at what rate to get your angles right and the right number of stitches for each part of you.  That’s true for both directions.  It worked out, but I just like decreasing to do the neck and armholes instead of increasing to do the body (probably just a personal choice).  I found it wound up too low cut, so I added some crochet across the neck front.    Link to my page of stitch and gauge math


My trees were done completely randomly, just using black and color where I felt it should go to make a tree shape.  I was aiming for rounded trees because I wanted it to look like twilight in my woodsy backyard.  The same randomness was used on the back where I did a mountain scene.

Since my black yarn was way thicker than the mini mochi, I had to do some more math to grossly reduce the number of stitches once I started the silhouette.  You can see that the black part bunches a little on the mountains – that’s because I wasn’t too obsessive about it and just did stitch decreases randomly the same way I did the trees.  My math showed me my goal number of stitches, or what number I wanted to end up with when I got to all black, but while I was using both colors at the same time, I didn’t worry about calculating on the way there my percentage of color vs. my percentage of black and how many stitches that would give me (too complicated!).  I kind of like the effect of the mountains being a little more bunchy, it makes them look more textured and 3D.   Random crochet added, the same on both sides, at the bottom for decoration (and to make this get done faster, woo!)


The sun is so bright, its hard to see what makes this vest nice, the dull browns and silver blues of deep twilight colored Mini Mochi sky. Okay, its 94 degrees, I’m gettin’ outta this sweater.



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I liked my blue waves hat so much I decided to make another, this time -less baggy on top of the head, and with yarn I spun myself.  I got the wool from Alpaca Direct, I used Crimson Colonial Top and Cranberry Merino Top, and alternated between these two when spinning (which is what made the striped pattern).  I only spun singles, no plying.  This hat was worked the same way as the blue waves hat, a rectangle was knitted back and forth that was long enough to wrap around my head, then the ends of the rectangle were connected to make the hat band, and double pointed needles were inserted on one side to knit around the top smaller and smaller until pulling closed.  I did my decreases always one on top of another to make the folded stripes on the top.  The chevron chart for the hat band is in the Leslie Stanfield book I’m always citing, and stockinette rows were done on the ends (sides of the rectangle) to accent it.

The Cranberry Hat - I started with a yarn ball as big as the one on the left, and ended with it being the size of the one on the right.  Hats use almost NO yarn!

The Cranberry Hat - I started with a yarn ball as big as the one on the left, and ended with it being the size of the one on the right. Hats use almost NO yarn! Since I spun too much, maybe I can make matching gloves or something.

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I love the way Noro yarn changes color, and I wanted this sweater to have big chunks of color in front instead of thinner stripes, so I put it together like a crazy woman!  I probably wouldn’t recommend this!  (Stitches are seed stitch on the bottom, garter on the edges to avoid rolling, stockenette for the rest.)

Front pieces knitted first, then connected together at the bottom with crochet, then started knitting up the back.

Front pieces knitted first, then connected together at the bottom with crochet, then started knitting up the back, to join at the shoulders.

First I knitted the two front panels, and I did them in artsy ways, (meaning not a straight line under the arm, a curvy thing I expected to be seen from the front.  It didn’t turn out that obvious though, but no harm done).  Crochet was added around the front in black.

Oh no!  Its a leeetle sweeeter!

Oh no! Its a leeeetle sweater!

After getting what is essentially a vest done, I realized it was way smaller than I had wanted, I had envisioned a baggier cardigan, not a bolero.  Did the Noro shrink, or did I just mess up and underestimate my own size?  Hmmm.  Well, anyway, that scratchy Noro really did get very soft after it was knitted!  If you aren’t buying anything because you think its too scratchy, the yarn shop lady is telling you the truth, it really does magically turn soft by some seemingly illogical method of physics that I don’t understand.

Back, yarn still attached, seed stitch at bottom to match the front

Back, yarn still attached, seed stitch at bottom to match the front

By December I had done the sleeves, quite baggy.  Oh, by the way if you wonder why I didn’t do the whole sweater in Noro, dat stuff’s expensive!  Doing the rest in plain black Patons wool allows me to make an affordable sweater that still looked neat and unusual.  Still not happy with the shortness though, so I started crocheting.


I was thinking it wasn’t going to look right though, so then I stuck knitting needles back in at the waist and started working downward in blocks of stockinette and blocks of seed stitch.  Then more crochet on the end.  Ultimately, the top part was still a big tight so I crocheted some more around the front, then did something oh so taboo – I dunked it in the tub and let it dry on a hanger.  Sing it with me!  A HAaAaAaAaAaAaANGEeEeEeEeEer!   While it did pull the top part around the neck pretty loose, I’m happier with it overall.  I did get a bigger sweater, finally!

And I sewed on cool little clasps, but oh no!  They pull, so I can’t wear it with them closed.  Maybe I can fix this by attaching some thick fabric or something to the back of the black button area.  Or moving the clasps further out on the front.  We’ll see, right now I’m just wearing it open because I’m so happy I’m finished!


In the back you can see the artsy bits I was doing under the arm, instead of in the front.  Oh well, its a little weird, but I don’t really mind.

You can see the artsy stuff I did for the side in the back instead of the front.  Oh well, a little weird but I don't really mind.

In the end, there’s a lot wrong with it, but its still a sweater that’s 100% wool, very warm, and a bit unusual.

Later:  On the inside of the sweater on the side with the loops, I added reinforcement by sewing on a piece of black fabric.


This allowed me to cut off the loops (carefully), and move them over to the side so I’d get better closing and the pulling wouldn’t look so bad. Now I need to do the same for the little rod things on the other side.


Yarn: Noro Kureyon, color #159.  Black is Patons 100% wool.

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