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Topic: Utterly new--probably utterly ridiculous questions  (Read 885 times)
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« on: July 18, 2007 12:26:58 AM »

(Disclaimer: I've tried for two hours Googling and checking older posts for info about this to little avail. I'm sure it's been asked somewhere before, but obviously I haven't found it. Feel free to point me in the right direction and smack me with something, preferably blunt, if I am being repetitive and tiresome.)

I'm just reteaching myself how to knit--I knew nothing past casting on and the knit stitch at one point, but at least then I had a teacher. My teacher's since passed on and I've moved away, so I don't have any real-life knitters that I know nearby to model.

So, I need help on the following, pretty please:

1. Tension. How tight should my cast-on stitches be against the needles? Should they slide really easily, or be fairly snug? I know about gauge and all (I crochet), but as a general rule--is there one?

2. Circular needles. I'm starting on them, because I want to do some really warm scarves as starting projects and I've heard good things. I just went to Joann tonight and got a set of US8 needles, in the only size/appropriate style they had (Susan Bates silvalume, I can't stand plastic). I am casting on 70 stitches and in all the pictures I see of circular needles the stitches fill the whole cable and the needles. Mine don't. Is this a tension problem (my stitches need to be looser so they fill up more space), a needle problem (need to somehow find a shorter set/shorter cable) or not a problem at all? If the latter, what do I need to do with the stitches I've got so that I can... er, continue?

3. The cable itself--it's really twisty and it's hard to keep the work flat like I know I should. I already have laid a lot of heavy books on it for several hours to try to alter its memory, but it didn't do much good. Is there a fix, or do I just need to spring for better needles?

4. How in heck do I "take out" stitches? I never was taught this and it's impractically difficult to Google. I know it's not like frogging crochet. Website or something that tells me, maybe?

Thank you so much, wise knitters, for potentially rescuing my ambition to learn Smiley

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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2007 12:58:02 AM »

Ok I'm going to try and help so I just hope I don't confuse you more  Wink

1. This really is a bit of a personal preference. I think it depends on type of cast on you are doing, the stitch pattern that is going to follow it and just the general idiosyncrasies of your own knitting style. For example, I often use the cable cast on rather than the long-tail loop which is what most people use (you can see examples of these here )This cast on is pretty stretchy and because I am generally a reasonably loose knitter, I have to make sure that I make this really tight or it will warp out of shape and look really, really loose in comparison to the rest of the item after a few rows.

The best thing to do is cast on however you feel comfortable, then knit an inch or so and see how it looks. If it doesn't look right to you, try tighter/looser (depending on the problem) or even a different method of casting on. It may take a little while to get a feel for it but once you've found out what works for you it'll come naturally  Smiley

2.This depends on whether you are knitting in the round (making a tube) or knitting flat (going back and forth turning the work). If you are working in the round the number of stitches needs to be more than it would take to fill the needle. You shouldn't be stretching the knitting to join it. If you are working flat, any number of stitches are fine as you are using the circulars as you would a pair of straights.

3. The best method is hot water or steam. Hold the cable straight over the steam or dip the cable part (be careful not to wet the joins) into hot water for a few moments. Repeat until straight(er)

4. this will depend on whether you want to take out a lot of stitches (ie the whole thing) or just a few. If you want to take out the lot, juust remove the needles and rip it! If you only want to remove a few, there are some good technique videos under fixing mistakes on knittinghelp.com

I hope this has helped  Smiley

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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2007 01:32:49 AM »

Cast on tension should be loose--generally because it's easier to knit into, and also because you want it to match your cast off/bind off (interchangeable terms)--how you finish your piece.  Tight cast on stitches tend to pull the work--and sometimes, you REALLY don't want that (i.e. if you've got to fit a body part inside).  Many beginners will cast onto 2 or even 3 needles held together to achieve the tension they need before they've had enough practice (once you've cast on all you need, remove the extra needle(s)).

Actually, you can knit with as many or as few stitches on circular needles (circs) as straight needles.   There are a few differet things that people will do with longer than necessary circs--Magic Loop is a method that pulls out the excess cable/wire of the circulars.  You can view a video of how to do that on http://knittinghelp.com/knitting/advanced_techniques/ (3rd or 4th? down).

The Bates cable is clear plastic, correct?  Those can be difficult to unkink.  It might relax with use, but in my experience, companies that use an opaque, thin cable (Skacel makes Addis--for a reasonable price & shipping, visit http://www.paradisefibers.net/Knitting-Needles-s/22.htm; www.knitpicks.com sells good ones for a very reasonable price) are flexible from the get-go.

Are you asking about undoing (ripping or frogging--from*rip it rip it* a bunch of stitches, or tinking back--undoing a few) stitches?  Or finishing a work (bind off or cast off)?  There's a collection of bind off/cast off methods on knitthinghelp.com.

Knittinghelp.com is a wonderful resource (there's an abbreviation page, for example).  If you look at http://knittinghelp.com/knitting/basic_techniques/misc.php you can see all the basic elements needed to knit all at the same time. Smiley
« Last Edit: July 18, 2007 01:35:18 AM by knittinfiasco » THIS ROCKS   Logged

« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2007 01:51:27 AM »

In terms of cables, I find that dipping them for a few seconds into very hot (but not boiling) water helped with my rubbish pony cables. I've since moved on to knitpicks circular needles because their cables are very flexible with no 'memory'.

What do you mean by 'take out' stitches? I've never come across that phrase (but then, I've only been knitting for two years, still).

You haven't told us the length of your cable needle. For instance, if you were to cast on 70 stitches to go around a 24" circular needle, that won't fly because your stitches aren't enough. If you bought say a 16" circular needle, that would be a better bet.
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2007 01:57:36 AM »

Girls, you need to check out the Magic Loop video on knittinghelp! Smiley  Small diameters CAN be done on longer circs!

« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2007 02:20:11 AM »

Girls, you need to check out the Magic Loop video on knittinghelp! Smiley  Small diameters CAN be done on longer circs!

I shall do. My knitpicks cables are flexible enough, Lord knows.
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2007 05:59:36 AM »

I hope I don't confuse you more.

What is the length of cables you bought? Casting on 70 stitches , I'm assuming you will be knitting in the round, you would want 16" cable needle, tip to tip measurement. I'm also assuming you are using a ww yarn.  If you are using a smaller weight yarn then you might need more stitches to fill of the cable, if you do indeed have 16" cables.

If you are knitting flat with circs then you can really make your scarf as wide as want to.

Definitely put them in some hot water to soften them.

« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2007 06:18:53 AM »

I am knitting in the round with ww and these are indeed 24" tip to tip (actually longer).

And I JUST put in an order with knitpicks for some yarn--of course I didn't think to look at needles. Ohhh well, I'll just wait for next paycheck. I know they didn't have any shorter ones at Joann.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2007 06:21:39 AM by rhoticity » THIS ROCKS   Logged

"Look, I've shrunk it! BY THE MAGIC OF XEROGRAPHY." -my sociolinguistics professor

« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2007 06:22:58 AM »

And by "take out" stitches, I do mean go back just a few to fix a mistake--so hopefully that knittinghelp page will be just what I need!

Thank you all so much for your patient help!

"Look, I've shrunk it! BY THE MAGIC OF XEROGRAPHY." -my sociolinguistics professor

« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2007 09:57:40 AM »

If you made a mistake on the same row you're still on, you "take out" by un-knitting backwards. That is, take your most recent stitch off the right needle, pull out the loop, and put it back on the left needle. Keep going backwards until you've reached the stitch you want to redo.

OR -- repeat the "mistake" 2 more times, and call it a design element. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Zimmerman, blessed by her EZ name.)

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