Thursday, March 7, 2013

All those ends!

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The time has come for me to sew a big wooden bowl full of striped snakes into a blanket.  I love how weird that sounds.  This part always takes forever, which, when sewing together my knitting, means more than an hour, because I don’t like doing it, but I’m trying to get all zen about it.  Needle in, needle out, breathe!  It’s working, but there are a lot of strips and it’s testing my patience.  I’m using mattress stitch and a neutral gray yarn to seam all those long strips together, and then I will (you betcha) block the living daylights out of this thing, to make it lie flat and be organized and tidy and drapey.  Then I will knit on the edging.  More on that later. 

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I know what else you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Are you insane?  The ends on the back of that must be madness!!!”  They’re not.  I knit them in as I go, and then there’s nothing to do at the finish but snip off all the tails.  Here’s what the back looks like:

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I didn’t use a tapestry needle to do that, I worked them in as I went.  I think this is what the stranded knitting experts in the Fair Isle style and tradition do when they’re dealing with long floats—they just tack them down as they go by, weaving the yarn they’re not using into the back of the stitches.  I promise, I find all that just as confusing as you do.  I took about sixty-two pictures of this process, because this is a really great trick and so handy to have in your arsenal.  Okay, here’s how it works:

I’ve just finished working the orange stripe, and have started on the next, which is red  On the first row, I will weave in the tail of the orange yarn. The tail goes over the stitch I’m about to knit.

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I wrap the red yarn to make the stitch…

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…and then pull the orange tail up out of the way.

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I complete the (red) stitch.  The tail doesn’t get knit into the stitch.

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On the next stitch, I hold the orange tail down and away, towards the back, and wrap the red yarn over it.  This is where it gets tacked down.

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I knit the stitch as usual. 

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I keep alternating those two steps—holding the tail across the new stitch for one, then holding the tail down and away for one—until it is sufficiently woven in; a couple inches or so. Then I purl back, and on the next right side row, I’ll do the same thing with the start tail of the red.  Tidy, and invisible from the front of the work.

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At the end, I just clip the ends off and it’s over.  No arduous hours of weaving with a sewing needle.  Well, until it’s time to sew it all together.  Aargh!