Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Heart of a blossom (a tiny tutorial)

So I've been instructing that glove fingers and mitten tips be finished by decreasing to a small number of stitches, breaking the yarn, threading it through the stitches, and fastening off the end. I wanted to show you a tidy way to do this that allows you to tighten each stitch around the yarn as you thread it through. Threading through and fastening off is how I've been finishing glove fingers since I read Nancy Bush's Folk Knitting in Estonia and learned her name for the technique—"heart of a blossom". I figured out this painless way to tighten the stitches up after a lot of hours spent laboriously pulling on each stitch with a darning needle, trying to make them smaller.

A bonus feature of the tighten-as-you-go approach is that it doesn't require that you unearth a darning needle to thread the yarn through the stitches. You'll still need one to weave in the ends, but if you're like me, you leave all the ends hanging to weave in at the very end of the project anyway. Gloves generate a lot of ends to weave in.

This is the thumb from that cream alpaca glove I showed you at the end of last week. Here I've decreased down to 5 stitches, which was the final decrease round before the break yarn etc. step.

step 1

Break the yarn, then arrange the needles as if you were going to keep knitting. Knit the first stitch of the round with the dangling end of yarn, pull the end all the way through the knitted stitch, and drop it off the needle. It won't unravel because it will be caught by the yarn now threaded through.

step 2

Knit the next stitch, again pulling the yarn all the way through. Before you drop this stitch, tug on it a little. The previous stitch, already dropped, will tighten up around the yarn threaded through it. The stitch you are currently working on will get bigger. But don't worry about it, because….

step 3

… now it's time to drop it, and knit the next stitch. Pull the yarn all the way through it, tug on it to tighten up the previous stitch, and let it go.

Carry on until all the stitches have been knitted, threaded through, and dropped. You'll have no live stitches remaining, a number of very neat tightened stitches, and one enormous ugly loop….

step 4

… which vanishes when you tug gently on the tail.

step 5

Take a moment to sing a triumphant song to yourself, then move on to the next finger.

I meant to post this on Monday, and then I meant to post it on Tuesday, but it's a rainy week here and there hasn't been enough light to take adequate pictures. (Or really even to knit by!) I hope you can tell what's going on in the ones above!


Anni said...

That's a great tip, thank you. I'm hoping to start a pair of gloves soon so will try it out.

Kathryn said...

Nicely done!