SSSK – Slip, slip, slip, knit

SSSK is a left leaning double decrease. In other words, it decreases two stitches at once and the result leans to the left.

There are several different double decreases, left leaning, right leaning and centred. You may have come across them in lace and open patterns, not so often in shaping ordinary garments. 

Here is a quick photo tutorial on how to work the sssk decrease. I hope you find it useful.

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Heartwood

Heartwood Baby Blanket

Stripes and Texture, the best of both worlds ! The interesting texture in these blankets look a little like crochet but is in fact knitted.

Another simple textured blanket, this is suitable for beginner knitters as the pattern is easily picked up once a few rows have been worked.


The pattern is written for a DK weight yarn and there are two options for the colour sequence, a four colour stripe and a two colour stripe.


Here the four colour version has been knitted in a DK easy care yarn and the two strip in a cotton mix yarn that is gently marled.



Make it your own.  In the pattern I have given colour boxes showing the colours used and the sequence they are knitted in but I have also given spare boxes so you can colour in and try out your own sequence when choosing your own colours.
The texture of the blanket can hold its’ own and make a beautiful blanket in just one colour if you choose. Simply follow the pattern omitting the changes in colour.

An all in one pattern, the borders are knitted in garter stitch at the same time as the main body of the blanket so there are no stitches to pick up. When knitting the four stripe blanket the yarn is cut between colours but on the two colour stripe version you can carry the yarn not in use up the side of the work.

Pattern Information


Size:
approx. 64 x 76 cm / 25 x 30 inches

Yarn:

Four Stripe Blanket:  You will need approx. 250 m in each of four colours. For the sample shown I used Paintbox Yarns Simply DK (276 m per 100g) one ball each of colours; Misty grey (103); Slate grey (105); Champagne white (102); Washed teal (132)

Two Stripe Blanket: You will need approx. 500 m in each of two colours. For the sample shown I used King Cole Authentic DK cotton mix (242 m per 100g) Two balls in each colour; Indigo (1256) and Blue Denim (1257)

Needles:
4mm circular needles large enough to hold the number of stitches, 80cm length should be fine, or size of needle to get you the required tension and 3.5 mm needles of the same length, or needles two sizes smaller than your main needle size.

Tension:
24 sts to 10 cm in pattern using 4mm needles.
Tension is not crucial but working to a different tension will result in a different size of blanket and you may need more or less yarn than stated.

Techniques Used:
Cast on and off, knit, purl, p2tog. How to work the pattern stitch is explained fully in the abbreviation section of the pattern.

The pattern is available for instant download from LoveKnitting.

Pattern support for this and all my patterns is available, please use the contact email address given in the bar.

Duffer Booties and Hat Pattern

Booties and Hats

 A DK pattern for some cute booties and hat sized for newborn to 12 months.


This adorable little set is knitted flat and seamed and takes no time at all. Great for a quick baby gifts or stocking fillers.

Suitable for the beginner with a little experience, there are some decreases that you may not have come across before. These along with explanations are given in the abbreviation section of the pattern. Also have a look in the tutorial section of my website for how to work some stitches.


Make it your own. You can choose two very contrasting colours, as I have here with the purple and peach sets, or a more subtle look go with a single colour.
Choose colours to match a particular favourite outfit or make the contrast colour something neutral like a light grey which would go with almost anything.
Ideal to use up some left-overs from other baby projects the set takes very little yarn, especially the contrast pieces.

Pattern Information


Size: 
To fit approx. ages: 0-3 [3-6, 6-12] months
Hat: Finished circumference: 35.5 [40, 46] cm / 14 [16, 18] inches
Booties: Finished foot lengths: 7.5 [8.5, 10] cm / 3 [3½, 4] inches

Yarn:
DK weight baby yarn. The samples were knitted in Sirdar Snuggly DK.
1 ball each of two colours; a main colour (MC) and a contrast colour (CC)
This amount will make both booties and hat.
Or, buy a main colour and use leftovers for the contrast colour.

Needles:
3.5 & 3.75 mm needles, or size to get you the correct tension, plus needles of one size smaller.

Tension:
24 sts per 10 cm / 4 inches in stocking stitch using 3.75mm needles. 
Please check your tension, a variation in tension will result in a change of size.

Techniques Used:
Casting on and off, knit, purl and directional decreases. All decreases are explained in the abbreviation section.
The pattern is available to buy as an instant download from LoveKnitting.

Pattern support for this and all my patterns is available by contacting me using the email address given in the bar.

Robyn

Robyn is another simple but classic blanket with an all-over texture pattern. One of those blankets that is neutral but pleasing.

At first glance this blanket pattern is very similar to the Gracie Blanket but the texture is slightly finer and, in my opinion, the stitch is easier to work.

Suitable for the beginner knitter, this blanket does require a little concentration but is still not too difficult.
The knitting starts with the bottom border and then the main body of the blanket is knitted before ending with the top border. Stitches are then picked up along the sides to work the borders outwards at each side.

Full instructions are given for working the side borders although I don’t give actual numbers of stitches to pick up.
The reason for this is that, even if you have the correct number of stitches for the tension required across your knitting, it is not always a given that you will have the same amount of rows, or you may have even decided to make the blanket shorter or longer. This can cause problems when given a number of stitches to pick up that is based on the row gauge of the pattern or size of the blanket, but not what you have achieved.
When picking up stitches along the side of a smaller item, such as a baby cardigan, this does not cause a great deal of trouble (most of the time) but on larger items you can end up with a border that pulls too tightly or is exceedingly baggy. Not the results we all look for.
If you have experience, over time you naturally adjust your stitches so they work with your knitted piece, but if you haven’t worked many picked up edgings before it can be a cause for frustration.

To negotiate this problem, I have instead given directions for picking up the stitches, whatever length your blanket is. I also tell you how to end with the correct multiple of stitches so you get neat and even results.
This method, once learnt, will hold for all types of project where you need to pick up and knit stitches. Maybe you lengthened a cardigan body for instance so the original pick up numbers for the button border will no longer apply. There are many ways to work out how many stitches to pick up for any type of project. In the pattern I give the easiest and most basic of methods.

Pattern Information

Finished Dimensions:  
64 x 76 cm / 25 x 30 inches

Yarn: 
Any suitable DK weight yarn. You will need approx. 825m in total.

For the blanket above I used Rico Baby Classic DK – 165m/50g. 5 Balls
Needles: 
4mm or the size to get you the correct tension. Circular needles are recommended for this         project due to the number of stitches but a long pair of straight needles that will hold the stitches comfortably would also work.
Tension: 
24 sts to 10 cm / 4 inches in pattern.
Knitting tension is not crucial but if you do work to a different tension your blanket will come out larger or smaller and will take a different amount of yarn.
Techniques Used: 
Knit, purl, P2tog, K2tog. It will also help if you have picked up and knitted stitches before.
The pattern is available to purchase through LoveKnitting.
Pattern support is available for this, and all my patterns. Please contact me through the email address in the bar or through the contact me. I always do my best to give you a speedy reply.

Colour-Mix Baby Blanket

One of my most recent designs is the Colour-Mix Baby Blanket.

This blanket is suitable for a beginner knitter. If you can cast on, cast off, knit and purl then you can make this easily.

The blanket is knitted in separate pieces and sewn together, which is great if tackling a large item is a little daunting. I also found it a great take-along project; the pieces are small and the pattern easily remembered.

For more experienced knitters, this blanket offers the opportunity to use up all those baby yarns you have left over from other projects.
If baby blankets are not your thing, you could of course knit this one up in any yarn and colours you like.
A larger aran weight throw in shades to match your decor would make a great throw for snuggling up in on a cold winters’ evening or even a gift for a special person.
Any yarn and suitable sized needles will be fine for that and sizes would vary depending on what you have used.

The pattern contains full information as to how to put the squares together, and soon I will post them here with detailed explanations to help you get the best result possible.

Colour-Mix Baby Blanket

 When sewn together your blanket lays flat with no visible ridge between the squares.
The pattern contains layout information for the position and colours I used for the blanket shown. You can use this or you can just lay out your squares and see which placement of colours pleases you.





Pattern Information:

Finished Dimensions: 
This blanket can be made to any size you want by simply adding (or subtracting) squares. The pattern is written for a blanket 56 x 70 cm / 22 x 28 inches.

Yarn: 

Paintbox Yarns Baby DK – 167m / 50g
The listed blanket takes 5 balls in total or 835m of yarn. For the sample shown I used a Colour pack from Love Knitting in which you get five balls of different colours. There are five packs available with different colour combinations, I chose Sorbet.

Of course, if you choose to make your blanket larger you will need more yarn.

Needles:
Pair of 3.75mm needles – or size to get you the required knitting tension.

Tension:
24 sts x 38 rows to 10cm/4 inches in pattern. Each blanket square should measure approximately 14 cm square. Knitting tension is not crucial but if you knit to a different tension you blanket will be a different size and you may need more yarn.

The pattern for this blanket is available as an instant download from Loveknitting.com

As usual, pattern support is available for this and all my patterns. You can either leave a comment here or email me at knitpurlmakes@gmail.com and I will answer your question as soon as I can.

Slipper Felting – part 2

Following on from my last post, Slipper Felting – part 1, this is where we go all out and talk about throwing your knitted slippers into the wash.

Firstly, all the samples here were felted in a front loading washing machine, in fact all the felted items I make are felted this way because it is all I have. This does not stop you from using a top loader if that’s what you have, in fact felting is much easier in a top loader as you can whip your item out almost whenever you want. The types of programs and lengths that I give will be slightly different though. You can also felt items by hand, it takes longer but you do have more control over the finished item. This method comes in particularly handy if you have felted something in the washer and it is almost the size you need it, but not quite, or if for some reason it has not felted evenly. If you don’t want to take a chance on it becoming too small if you put it though a whole wash again you can finish by hand.

I come across plenty of people, mainly here in the UK, that would not felt anything because they have a front loading washing machine. I think opinion is that you really need a top loader to be successful. This is certainly not the case and although you perhaps don’t have the control you would like, you can still produce felted items with great success.

There are so many variables when felting something it can seem complicated but it’s really not. Mostly you can just take a chance and see how things go but it does help to have a little background knowledge to better your chances of getting exactly what you wanted.

To put your item in a lingerie bag or not.

I know that a lot of people use lingerie bags to put their item into and felt in that. This is, I think, mainly to keep any fluff that comes off of during the felting process out of the machine. To be honest I have never used one and never had a problem but that is only my experience and if you have an expensive machine and don’t want to take a chance, using one can’t hurt.

Detergent.

I use ordinary laundry detergent to felt all my items. If I am hand washing a delicate hand knit I only use a wool wash but I have always been of the opinion that as I want my item to shrink and be hard wearing, not needing it to be particularly soft so, to me, using an expensive wool soap has no advantage.

Temperature and Length of wash.

This really is the crux of the matter isn’t it? No matter what machine you have, whether or not you use a bag to put the item in and what detergent you use, it all finally comes down to what temperature and for how long to get the item come out how you want.

Unfortunately, there really is no easy answer. I would love to say, ‘oh, just do this and all will be perfect’ but in all honesty I can’t.

The following knitted samples were all made in Cascade 220 held double, at the gauge I use for my slipper patterns except D which was the tighter gauge sample I used in part 1.

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Felting Samples

I washed each slightly differently. Each came out a slightly different size. Again, I have worked out a percentage decrease for each one so you can see exactly the difference it made. It all seems a bit technical but I wanted to be as accurate as possible so you could see what difference a wash can make. I have left out sample D as it is not relevant here.

Sample A = washed at 50 deg C / 122 deg F for 1 hour with towels

Sample B = Same wash as A but with denims not towels

Sample C = washed at 40 deg C / 100 deg F for just over 2 hours with clothes

Sample E = washed at 30 deg C / 86 deg F with towels

The following are the percentage decreases in size:

Sample A = -13% width x -26% height

Sample B = -11% width x -20% height

Sample C = – 17% width x -27% height

Sample E =  0% width x -10% height

So as you can see, all exactly the same in all respects to begin with, so different after a wash. Even changing what you use to agitate your item with changes your outcome. In my opinion, felting with the towels which ‘foam’ up the washing water more is why that particular sample felted more.

For my patterns, using the recommended yarn and sizing information, I use the wash from sample A – 50 deg C / 122 deg F for 1 hour.

Too much information? Probably…. maybe, but I hope that this has given you something to think about when embarking on a felting project and perhaps taken a bit of the mystery surrounding it away. The good news is that, with the exception of sample E, overall these figures will not make a huge difference to what exact size a small item such as a pair of slippers comes out. If your slippers are a little loose, felt a little more (see part 1), if they are a little small, put them on while still damp and wear them around for a while, they will stretch to the size of your feet.

Mostly, just have fun with your felting and experiment.

 

Slipper Felting Part 1 – Yarn

I thought it was about time that I gave my thoughts on felting. I’ve done quite a bit over the years, both intentionally and unintentionally! I once felted half my hand-knit sock collection in one easy move by setting the washing machine to an ordinary wash not a hand wash. Now, I always wash socks by hand!
Accidents apart, whilst writing my felted slipper patterns, and since for gifts for friends and family, I’ve probably felted more slippers than any sane person would want to in a lifetime.

I get a lot of questions by email regarding the subject, both from people whose projects have come out unexpectedly and those who need that little push to bite the bullet and actually throw their lovingly knitted item in the wash and shrink it. Felting puts a lot of people off, especially if they have a front loading washing machine. The thought of taking time to make something only to have it completely ruined in the felting process is just a chance some knitters refuse to take. I can understand completely and can still remember the first time I threw my knitting into the washing machine and left it to fate, and how I was so sure it was going to be a disaster. But felting can be fun and not as scary as it at first seems if you understand the process and are willing to experiment.

I’ve decided to split the subject into two. This, the first part is all about the yarn and the tension/gauge of your knitting. The second will be about exactly how to go about felting your knitting and the differing results you can get.

Yarn

Firstly, only use non superwash yarns for felting. That is, the type of yarn that has hand wash only on the label. It may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how this sometimes confuses people.

The yarn you use will affect the final outcome of your piece. This is true for all types of knitting projects from sweaters to shawls to socks. Just as the fibre content, twist and gauge affects how your knitted fabric looks and feels, the same is true for felting.

Some yarns will felt more that you ever thought possible. Some will resist so much you start to wonder if you’ve actually used a super wash yarn by mistake. There is one exception to this rule you should always bear in mind though – if you don’t want an item to shrink and felt, it will! Even those yarns you struggle to get to felt into a pair of slippers will still felt enough to make that sweater, at the least a bit stiff and at worst, un-wearable.

Yarns sold specifically for felting will, as they are supposed to, felt well. I started off my felting odyssey using these types of yarns and they do work very well although I did find some of them rather ‘hairy’ once felted. When writing the slipper patterns I also found them a little less consistent with regard to how much they felted each time. This is not a problem if you are felting an item such as a bag, but I wanted the slippers to have, as much as possible, a consistent amount of ‘shrinkage’ among them so I could size them as accurately as possible. I also wanted something that was perhaps sturdier and easily sourced.

For my samples I switched to Cascade 220. It is easily accessible and comes in a large colour palette (which at the time of writing this is about 150 different shades). I found that it felted well and gave pretty consistent results. I have used other yarns with very good results, Elann and Drops Yarns make some very good worsted weight non super wash wools in lovely colours but the list is pretty endless really. My personal preference for felting yarns are 100% wool yarns that are plied, i.e. have two or more strands twisted together. I find them nice to knit with and stable in the felting process. They also don’t shed an awful lot of fibre into your machine in which can happen if you choose to felt with a singles (one continuous twisted strand, un-plied) yarn.

Some people prefer their felted items to loose all stitch definition and just look, well, like felt. Some, and I probably fall into this category, prefer a little of the stitches to show. I  couldn’t tell you why exactly, it may be something to do with it still looking hand made or knitted. Whatever your preference there is a yarn out there for you – experiment is the key.

These are just my opinion and preference. There are many, many yarns that are good for felting. Don’t feel confined to use any specific one. Try your favourite yarn, or one that you have in stash. Just make sure that it is non-superwash and be prepared to experiment, you could get some very interesting results.

If you have never tried a particular yarn, or have done some felting with one yarn and want to switch to another, make a swatch and felt it. I know most of us hate doing it, but it does give you a good idea as to the final fabric you will get, how much it will felt (don’t forget to measure it before you felt it) and what it will look like. It all adds to your knowledge of that yarn before you start your project and takes a little of the mystery out of the process. No need to put the washing machine on just for one tiny swatch. Just throw it in with a wash that you happen to be putting on anyway and see what happens.
At the end, you don’t only have a little sample of your end product but felted swatches make great coasters!

Gauge / Tension

The gauge/tension you work to will affect how your item felts. The movement of the stitches is a factor in the felting process. A tightly knitted piece with less room for the stitches to rub against each other will be harder to felt than something with a more open stitch. This is why my adult patterns are worked at a gauge of only 3sts per 2.5 cm/ 1 inch on 8mm needles. Even though the yarn is doubled, there is still plenty of room for the yarn to move around and felt.

Below are two knitted samples. They are knitted from the same yarn, same amount of stitches and rows and were felted in the same wash. The only difference between the two is the gauge/tension they were knitted at.

Before you say it, I know that having the same amount of stitches knitted at different tensions gave me two samples of different sizes. But for all of the samples I knitted for this piece on felting (there are more in part 2 ) I measured before and after and calculated a percentage decrease in size. So effectively the starting size does not particularly matter here. Besides, to get the two to exactly the same starting size I would have had to knit a swatch to work out the gauge before actually knitting the swatch.  And knitting a swatch to be able to knit a … swatch… was just beyond my limit at the time!

This first sample, sample A, was knitted at the standard tension/gauge for the slippers, 3 sts per 2.5 cm/1 inch on 8 mm/US11 needles. The yarn was held double, just as it is in the slippers. I knitted 14 sts x 14 rows and it measured 115 mm x 100 mm or 4 ½” x 4″ before felting.

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Sample A

In the above picture it now measures 100 mm x 74 mm.  The percentage of decrease is 13% on the width and 26% in the height.

Knitting always shrinks more in height than width. Something to remember when knitting something for felting.

Sample D below was knitted exactly the same but I changed down to 6mm needles. The sample measured 95 mm x 82 mm or 3¾” x 3¼” before felting. It was put together with sample A and felted.

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Sample D

After felting it measured 85 mm x 70 mm. This is a percentage decrease of 10.5% in width and 14.6% in height.

So tension matters quite a bit. The big loose sample shrank by 13% in width compared to only 10.5% for the tighter knitted one. The height on the loose sample decreased by 26% where as the tighter gauge one only lost 14.6% in height. Quite a difference.

You can also see the difference in stitch definition between the two samples. In sample A, although you can still see that the swatch had garter stitch edges, the centre stocking stitch area has lost almost all definition where as in Sample D you can see much more of the stitches all round.

And of course, gauge is also important for determining the final size and shape of the piece. Even though you are going to felt your item and that is adjustable to a certain extent, it is still important to start out with the piece the size that it states in the pattern.

Well, I hope that this has given you a few tips about felting yarns and gauge. In part two, I will get into the kitty-gritty of throwing your slippers into the machine. The differences that you can expect and what to do if things don’t go as planned.