The long goodbye.

I know that there’s been an epidemic of this lately, and I feel bad to be joining this particular club–but I have decided it’s time to retire the Knit Like a Man blog. It’s been a terrific way to keep myself writing and to keep in touch with a wonderful group of knitters (that would be you), but now I’d like to channel my writing energy toward other projects.

Also, I’m finding that I’ve happily plateaued at the skill level and complexity level that I’ve achieved with my knitting, which is great for me but boring for everyone else. I still intend to tackle some more lace knitting and some Alice Starmore sweaters, but probably more slowly than an interested readership might prefer.

However, I can still be found in all the familiar places–facebook, ravelry, flickr–and some new ones as well. I’m now on twitter (@ddemchuk) and am experimenting with 12seconds, seesmic, tumblr and a few other things. I’ll be leaving up the Knit Like a Man site for a while, and may well try to find a way to archive some things–like the Knitting in Dubai thread–that have proven to be remarkably popular over the months and years.

Thanks to all of you for being so encouraging and supportive–in my knitting and in other aspects of my life–and I hope to run into you all again in our online journeys. Good luck and best wishes to you all, and in the the immortal words of EZ: “Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.”

Dear Josh.

Thank you for writing and asking me for advice about the Noro Striped Scarf that Jared Flood has posted on his brooklyntweed blog. Let’s go through your questions in order:

- i’m of an intermediate skill level (that may be a bit generous).

Not to worry, the scarf can be knit with great success by any knitter who can knit, purl and slip a stitch. Speaking of which…

- the original website (the brooklyntweed one?) said to slip the first and last of every other row. slipping is just moving a stitch from one needle to the other, right?

Yes it is. However, there are two ways to slip a stitch–knitwise (put your right-hand needle through the stitch as if to knit, slip it off the left needle onto the right needle and continue with the pattern) and purlwise (put your right-hand needle through the stitch as if to purl, slip it off the left needle onto the right needle and continue with the pattern). Generally if a pattern doesn’t specify whether to slip a stitch knitwise or purlwise, the designer very likely means purlwise.

- why do i not slip every row? i’ve never slipped stitches on purpose before and i can’t really wrap my head around the concept.

When you slip a stitch at the end of a row, what happens is you leave it as an unknit loop. In the next row, that loop will have stretched. Once you’ve slipped it, you can’t slip it again or else you’ll be stretching the loop to a third row. Your knitting would start to pucker and buckle along the edges, which is not the desired effect. By slipping a stitch and knitting it on the backswing, you give yourself a fresh stitch to work with.

- slipping is just moving a stitch from one needle to the other, right?

Right. However, there are two ways to slip a stitch–knitwise (insert your right needle into the stitch as if to knit, then slip the stitch without knitting it from the left needle to the right needle and continue with the pattern) and purlwise (insert your right needle into the stitch as if to purl, then slip the stitch without purling it from the left needle to the right needle and continue with the pattern). If a pattern doesn’t specify whether a stitch should be slipped knitwise or purlwise, then the stitch is meant to be slipped purlwise. It’s by far the most common method of slipping a stitch.

- the blog mentioned above said something about the slips carrying the yarn up the sides. what?

There are several different reasons to slip a stitch or a group of stitches.
> One is to create a particular decorative effect. Bohus knitting features complex colour arrangements created through slipping and knitting stitches of different coloured yarns in distinctive rhythmic patterns.
>Another is to create a reinforced fabric. The slip stitch heel flap commonly used in sock patterns (where you slip 1, knit 1 across the heel on the right side, then turn and purl every stitch across the heel on the wrong side, repeating these two rows until your heel is the proper size) ensures that every other stitch is stretched, creating a denser firmer fabric that won’t wear as easily).
>A third reason, as illustrated with this scarf, is to create a neat and tidy edge. Slipped edge stitches don’t have the knotted look that knitted edge stitches do. It also helps disguise any yarn carried up the side in the event that you’re doing frequent colour changes. In this instance, you’re changing colour every two rows. If you didn’t slip the stitches called for in the pattern, one edge would consist of strands of yarn being carried up the side, and the other edge wouldn’t match.

Here’s what I suggest: Cast on; then, *keeping the working yarn behind the needle the way you do for knitting, slip the first stitch purlwise, then knit the second. The working yarn is already back there waiting to be knit. Now bring the working yarn forward and purl. Then knit, purl, knit, purl etc. to the last two stitches of the row. Your second last stitch should be a knit. Knit it, then bring the yarn forward as if you’re getting ready to purl. Slip the stitch, then turn your work around. (That’s one row done.) Now on row two, knit the first stitch (the working yarn is already back there), then bring the yarn forward and purl the second, then knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl across the width of the scarf. The last two stitches should be a purl and a knit. Turn your work around (That’s the second row done.)* Now pick up your second colour and repeat from * to *, switching colours every two rows. That’s it, that’s the pattern. Knit until it’s the right length or you’re about to run out of yarn, then cast off, weave in the ends at the start and finish of the scarf and you’re done.

One caution–there’s a lot of turning and slipping and changing balls going on, and there is a distinct temptation to pull the first stitch or two on each row to make them snug. DON’T. Don’t give in to this temptation. You will end up with a scarf that has one long edge shorter than the other, making the scarf curve in an unpleasant way. Relax as you slip and change and turn so that the stitches at the edges are not at all tense or tight. This one bit of advice will give you an excellent result, and keep you from getting all tense and tight as well.

- finally, how do you suggest that i end up with something like this and not this?

Okay, let me first say that I personally like both scarves. However, Josh, I can see why you might prefer one to the other. For me, the ribbing is too prominent in the second scarf–the idea is to have a scarf that seems smooth on both sides, because the ribbing has folded up like an accordion. The knitter of the second scarf increased the size of the needles used in the pattern. Do not change the needle size. Just don’t. Also, the colours in the latter scarf are a little…vivid…compared to the former.

There is an easy solution for this: Take note of the name of the yarn (Silk Garden) in the scarf you prefer and the colour numbers (86 and 88, in this case). You want two balls of each. That’s your shopping list. If you want to see the other colour combinations of a number of different scarves, go to Flickr and enter ‘Noro Striped Scarf’ into the search engine. You’ll be delighted/horrified to discover that there are about 2,000 photos that come up.

Glance through them and click on any of the colour combinations that you like–you’ll find that most knitters give notes on what kind of yarn and what colour numbers they used. For example, Kathryn Ivy made one that I think you’d quite like. She used Noro Silk Garden, two balls #246, and one ball each #243 and #247. When it comes to picking up or ordering the yarn for your scarf, have three or four colour combinations written down in case the yarn store is out of one colour or another. There’s nothing more annoying than having to leave the store empty-handed because only one of the two colours or two of the three colours was available.

I hope this has helped. Enjoy the scarf–the way the weather is going, it seems you’ll have plenty of time to complete it and still be able to use it this year!