Saturday, February 23, 2008


Kumihimo is a Japanese form of braiding or weaving strands of silk (or yarn or other fiber) into round or flat cords. This was taught at a hands-on booth at Knit Out by a Washburn County WI 4-H club. I can see myself making kumihimo cords instead of knitting I-cords for purse handles, edgings, etc.

This simple cord was made with seven strands of yarn and a piece of cardboard from a cereal box that I cut into a rough octogon. I have since found kumihimo braiding boards with as many as 40 slots! Traditional kumihimo stands have a "mirror" (a slightly bowled round unnotched disc) that can be used with an unlimited number of strands. With those, you also use bobbins to hold your strands, weights for even pressure on the braided cord, and a chopstick as your braiding tool. Once you get into the rhythm of moving the strands (I alternated between right and left hands with just slight shifts of the cardboard disc), it becomes very relaxing, almost meditative.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Local Fame

I've had a hard time wiping the grin off my face. I've been feeling like a celebrity, with people coming up and saying they saw the article in the February issue of Plymouth Magazine about me. I dare not go out in public now in my sweats and without make-up!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Knit Out 2008

The second annual Knit Out and Crochet event in Minneapolis was this weekend, again at the Mall of America. It was a smaller event this year, with fewer vender booths, but it was just as crowded as last year. A number of vendors again had give-aways -- the coveted large black canvas Lion Brand tote bags, knitting needles, crochet hooks, magazines, patterns, gauge measuring tools, yarn, etc. A long line snaked through the mall as people went from booth to booth collecting freebies, and many people were knitting or crocheting while shuffling along. The Learn to Knit and Learn to Crochet areas were combined into one. The demonstrations were off to one end instead of in the rotunda, but there were more demonstration tables. Maybe by next year they'll figure out that the demonstrators need microphones; there's just too much ambient noise inside a large mall for anyone not sitting in the first row to hear well.

Isela Phelps did the loom knitting demonstrations this year. She gave a fine presentation, showing a couple different cast on methods, binding off, and knit, purl and cable stitch techniques. She also gave out 10-peg keychain looms along with a headband pattern so people could practice what she was demonstrating. She was promoting (and autographing) her Loom Knitting Primer book as well as the Loom Knitting Pattern Book coming out in May with projects from various designers. Many of the beautiful cabled projects from her book were on display.

Not only did I get to meet Isela and Sam, but also Carrie Putzier. Carrie helped me a lot when I was first getting started with the looms. She lives in MN too, but this is the first time we've met in person.

Carrie, Isela and me

There were so many knit and crochet samples on display to inspire us, but this Sock Monkey dress in the Knitting Machine Guild's booth was the most unique. Each monkey was named!

I'll have more to share in upcoming days as I experiment with some of the tools and techniques I saw and learned at the Knit Out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Simple Afghan Pattern

I've been asked so many times if the looms can be used to make an afghan, and if there's an easy pattern for one. I made this afghan as one of my first projects using the round Knifty Knitter looms. It is well-used and well-loved, but I'll show it to you anyway.

For this afghan, I used 8 skeins of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick yarn in color Fisherman. It's about 44" wide and about 60" long. Here is what I did:

All knit stitches are e-wrapped for the twisted stockinette stitch.

Make two panels.

Cast on with the e-wrap method to 41 pegs of the round yellow KK loom.
Row 1: Knit pegs 40 - 1.
Row 2: Knit pegs 2 - 41.
Repeat rows 1 - 2 until 190 rows are completed.
Bind off with the flat method.

Sew the two panels together down the center. Weave in tails.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If I were to make the afghan again, I would put a garter edging all around it to make it more finished looking, and to prevent the curled edges. The garter sides would have a slipped stitch edge for a pretty braid-look finish. The center seam side would have a selvedge edge. Here is what I would do:

All knit stitches are e-wrapped for a twisted stockinette stitch.

Panel 1 (garter edge is pegs 1 - 5; selvedge edge is at peg 41):
Cast on with the cable method to 41 pegs of the round yellow KK loom.
Row 1: Knit pegs 41 - 1.
Row 2: Purl pegs 2 - 40, knit peg 41
Rows 3 - 6: Repeat rows 1 - 2 twice.
Row 7: Knit pegs 41 - 1
Row 8: Purl pegs 2 - 5, knit pegs 6 - 41 (Note: put markers on pegs 2 - 5 as a reminder to purl them.)
Repeat rows 7 - 8 88 times
Repeat rows 1 - 6.
Bind off with the flat method.

Panel 2 (garter edge is pegs 37-41; selvedge edge is at peg 1):
Cast on with the cable method to 41 pegs of the round yellow KK loom.
Row 1: Knit pegs 40 - 1.
Row 2: Purl pegs 2 - 40, knit peg 41
Rows 3 - 6: Repeat rows 1 - 2 twice.
Row 7: Knit pegs 40 - 1
Row 8: Knit pegs 2 - 36, purl pegs 37 - 40, knit peg 41. (Note: put markers on pegs 37 - 40 as a reminder to purl them.)
Repeat rows 7 - 8 88 times
Repeat rows 1 - 6.
Bind off with the flat method.

Sew the two panels together in the center. Weave in tails.

(Note: These instructions are what I would do if I were to make the afghan again. I haven't test knit these instructions. If you notice an error, please let me know!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

KISSing cables

I had a goal when I was visiting Graciela: to knit a cable using the KISS loom. There had been some discussion among KISS loomers about whether it could be done. Of course it could; I just had to do it for myself.

In some ways, cables are easier on KISS looms than regular looms. I found a cable needle wasn't necessary to hold loops while they are trading places. I just put the loops on the pins on the back board, moved the adjacent loops onto the vacated pegs, then moved the loops being held on the pins to the remaining empty pegs. Graciela did show me a trick which applies to cables on any loom -- e-wrap the pegs that have loops that will move. That gives a little extra length to the loops, making the stretch go a bit easier.

The only glitch with the cables is the crossover portion happens between the pegs and the pins, so the knitting doesn't easily slide past the pins. Not a big deal -- after I knit a couple more rows past the crossover, I just held the loops on the pegs with a finger of one hand, and lifted the crossovers behind the pins with the hook tool.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Flat Bind Off method

I've had a number of questions on how to do a flat bind off, so I thought I'd share this technique with you all. I made a single knit flat piece on a long loom because it was handy; this process applies to flat pieces and tubes on round looms as well.

This method is the same as the Basic Bind Off used with needle knitting. You start by knitting two stitches, then pass the loop of the first stitch over the second stitch. Knit one more stitch, and pass the previously knit stitch over it. This gives a nice braided look to your bound off edge, and you can control how snug or stretchy the edge is by the tightness or looseness of the loops on the bind off row.

For clarity, I knit the bind off row in a different color. (Click on the pics to see them larger.)

Step 1: Wrap and knit off pegs 1 and 2.

Step 2: Move the loop on peg 2 to peg 1.

Step 3: Knit off peg 1 (bring the bottom loop over the top loop).

Step 4: Move the remaining loop back to the empty peg. This peg is now peg 1.

Step 5: Wrap and knit off (the new) peg 2. (Note: this is where you control the stretchiness of the bound off edge -- the tighter the loop, the less stretch you will have.)

Step 6: Repeat steps 2 - 5 until there is one loop left on the loom.

Step 7: Wrap the peg with the loop on it and knit off. Cut the yarn, leaving a 6" tail. Take the loop off the peg and pull on it until the cut end of the yarn comes through. Continue pulling until the loop is closed snug against the knit fabric.

BTW, to put the braid of the bind off on the wrong side of the knitting, purl the pegs in steps 1 and 5 instead of knitting them.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Visiting Graciela

Also over the holidays, I got together with Graciela Worth, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I grew up.

Graciela is very talented in many craft areas. She has many years of experience designing sweaters, including custom logoed sweaters she used to make and sell to local sports teams. She now spends all her free time with a knitting loom in her hands. When I was there, she had just finished another gorgeous loomed sweater, to which pictures don't do justice. She used what she calls the Slip and Purl stitch pattern, and has graciously given permission for me to share that with you. This stitch pattern alternates columns of garter stitch with columns of elongated knit stitches.

Cast on to an odd number of pegs.
Row 1: Purl 2 pegs. *Bring the yarn behind the next peg to skip it. Purl 1.* Repeat from * to * until two pegs before the end. Purl the last 2 pegs.
Row 2: E-wrap and knit off all pegs.
Repeat rows 1 - 2.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Visiting Markman Farm

When I don't post, it's not because I haven't been doing anything, it's because I get way too busy! So I have some catching up to do...

My holiday travels took me to Markman Farm, in the out of the way community of Standish CA. So rural that, according to Lynn Markman, if you hit an animal in the street, you reimburse the owner for the animal and pay for your own car repairs!

Lynn and I spent a day loom knitting and sharing stories and techniques while our girls played with the sheep, llamas, chickens, dogs, cats and probably some other animals I missed. Lynn has a cozy business office in her farmhouse where she ships out the hand made looms with packets of patterns, and a shop right next door filled with wonderful gift items made by local artisans from scented soaps to cards to knit items and yarn made from her sheep. Everyone at her house was so friendly and welcoming that we could easily have moved in and stayed for a while.

Lynn was experimenting with making dish clothes on fine gauge looms using crochet thread. She was using the Chunky Braid Purl stitch pattern, which she generously agreed to allow me to share with you. The resulting knit fabric has a 3-D texture; the e-wrapped pegs make a raised braid pattern on one side, and the reverse side looks like stockinette stitch.

Cast on to an odd number of pegs.
Row 1: E-wrap and knit off the first peg. Purl the next peg and e-wrap the peg after that. Do not knit off the e-wrapped peg. Continue purling and e-wrapping (no KO) to the end of the row.
Row 2: Repeat row 1. (Purled pegs get purled, e-wrapped pegs get wrapped again.)
Row 3: Repeat row 1, except e-wrapped pegs get knit off as 3-over-1.
Repeat rows 1-3.