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Schoolhouse Press—Newsletter #7 Fall 2008

"Do what you like with knitting directions (including tossing them out the window)—they are just there for guidelines. "

— Elizabeth Zimmermann, in Knitting Workshop

sand hill cranes flying photo by Meg Swansen a newsletter from
Meg Swansen

Dear Knitter graphic

As our 50th-Anniversary-Year winds down, we add three more articles about Schoolhouse Press to the three magazines we listed in the last Newsletter: the Fall issue of Piecework, written by Lizbeth Upitis; a British magazine called Let's Knit! (which featured a sidebar by my cousin, Tricia - who teaches her Aunt-Elizabeth's knitting patterns in Colchester, outside London) and an article written for a Dutch magazine - for which we offer a link for Dutch-speaking knitters.




The true 50th anniversary issue is Wool Gathering #79: charts and instructions for two of Elizabeth's heretofore unpublished yoke-patterned sweaters; one pullover and one cardigan, each with a slightly different yoke chart. We would be happy to kit either design for you in Meg's colors or the colors of your choice. The cardigan (pictured in violet) can be knit with our Shetland Jumperweight or Jamieson Shetland 2-ply Spindrift. The pullover was designed with Unspun Icelandic (see right).







The last issue of Wool Gathering (WG 78) sold out with surprising speed. In order to keep EZ's featured Butterfly design available, we have slightly augmented the instructions and reprinted them as Schoolhouse Press Pattern #1; the first of a new series of sheet-protected patterns. Pattern #1 is also part of our Ribwarmer DVD.

Just released is Schoolhouse Press Pattern #2: EZ and MS Arch-Shaped Stockings; upcoming are the Box-the-Compass Pullover and an expanded Baby Surprise Jacket consisting of EZ's original directions plus, for her dear “Blind Followers” every line written out, stitch-for-stitch, plus sets of different numbers if you wish to vary the size or the gauge of this intriguing, classic baby pattern.


The Sock Knit Along with Joyce Williams has been postponed until March '09. But Amy Detjen has stepped in to host a Knit Along for a triangle-shaped "Purple Pansy" lace shawl, featuring a number of specific techniques; highlighted by Amy's Centered Eyelet. Please read about the Shawl Knit Along, and join us. Amy's Knit Along will remain posted into the new year. Archived Knit Alongs include the Christmas Stocking, Hats by Meg Swansen and Debbie New, and Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis. These will remain available until January 15, 2009.


We are pleased to announce the release of M'Lou Baber's gorgeous book: Double Knitting, Reversible Two-Color Designs.


Sharon Miller's amazing Lerwick Lace Shawl book is doing very well (in spite of our weak dollar causing a rather high retail price), so we have just become the exclusive U.S. distributor for another new lace booklet from Iceland: Einband, by Védis Jónsdottir.


Just arrived, this new lace booklet, Einband, is from the Icelandic woollen mill that provides both our Unspun and Laceweight Icelandic wools. The book is in English. There are photos and instructions for 8 lace designs: a dress, yoke- topped sweater, intriguing-looking large shawl, a pullover sweater, long fingerless gloves, triangular neck scarf and a long scarf. All the garments are from a leading Icelandic designer, Védis Jónsdottir, and are knitted in our Icelandic Laceweight wools. Softcover. Was $16, NOW $14 (slight wear from the long journey)








The steady stream of queries I receive feed this electronic Newsletter beautifully; thank you—and keep ‘em coming.


I'll kick it off with one of my fave recent emails:

Dear friends,
Thank you so much for the latest newsletter. As always, it's wonderful. I wanted to tell you a funny thing I overheard last weekend...a 20-something knitter who, as all 20-somethings do, felt she was the first person to discover the magic of I-cord, was explaining the derivation of the term “icord” to her friend.

She explained, “you know, it's like ipod, iphone...icord.”

Who knew Elizabeth was so prescient? Sending regards from Los Angeles, where the BSJ is the "new, hot thing" to knit :)

OK - let's see what is on your minds:

Q: Hello Dear Schoolhouse Press! I wonder if you would mind sharing your insight with me. I am making a “Brooks” sweater ala The Opinionated Knitter. I would like to steek the front to make it a cardigan, and do a garter stitch border. I would also like to pick up and work hems on the bottom. My question is...what order do I perform these things? Hem first, then steek, then border? Steek, hem, then border? Thank you very much.

A: Dear Alice, As usual, there are several options. For the neatest front hem-edges, I like to knit the hem before cutting open the steek.

- After the sweater is finished, work the hem in the round (in lighter-weight wool, if possible), with a wrapped-steek at center front as follows:
*wrap the working wool 8 or 9 times around the R needle. On the next round, un-wrap the strands from the previous round, and wrap again. Repeat from * for entire depth of hem. Run a thread through the raw stitches.
- Ignore the hem and prepare the body-steek to be cut (with machine or crochet).
- Cut the body-front open
- Fold in half and cut through the center of the wraps of the hem-steek.
- Fold the hem up, sew down the raw stitches on the inside of the fabric.
- Tuck the wraps-fringe into the hem tube and overcast the vertical openings.
- Knit-up the front border stitches and work the edging of your choice.

Q: More problems with the Heart Hat from Knitting Workshop. I'm trying to re-configure the numbers to make a child's hat, and don't know the simplest way to make sure the point is in the middle and that I have even orphan stitches on each side. I've tried using percentages, but must be doing something wrong, as I get into a muddle every time I start. HELP!!!

A: Dear Linda, The easiest way to alter the size is to use a different wool at a different gauge. Other than that, here are some tips for altering the numbers for EZ's garter-stitch heart:

Cast on a multiple of 10+1.
When the "orphan stitches" at each end equals 10% of the Cast On sts, then it is time to incorporate them back into each row (one at a time), until you end up with 20% + 1 of the Cast On number.
I have found that 60+1, 70+1 and 80+1 work very well... for 50+1, I needed to fudge a bit -- and I have not yet tried 90+1.

Q: After three years of wonderful knitting, I still enjoy making scarves in between sweater projects. Here's my problem. I find some gorgeous wool and start knitting the scarf. Then, I start to notice that the end is flaring out, and the mid section of the scarf appears narrower. When I complete the scarf, the problem is obvious. Both ends of the lovely scarf are bulging out (flaring). This bothers me, and I don't know how to address this problem. I would greatly appreciate any tips/suggestions you can offer.

A: Dear Damianne, It is in the nature of any ribbed,or semi-ribbed fabric to behave in that manner; as it stretches lengthwise, it narrows in the middle.To counteract that, you may...

  • Cast on fewer stitches at the beginning end and increase to the width you want; work a corresponding decrease at the other end.
  • OR - Add a perpendicular border across each end after the scarf is finished, as follows: Pick up stitches across the end of the scarf. Cast on the number of stitches you need for the border (perhaps a lace edging, or plain garter-stitch). Work back and forth and attach the border to the scarf at the end of every-other-row. To narrow the beginning, every row -- or every other row -- or every third row you attach the border, work 2 scarf stitches together with 1 border stitch.
  • OR - Add an I-Cord trim across each end (I-Cord has no stretch and you can suck in those edges as much as you like by use of a smaller size needle, or, as you attach the Cord, skip every 2nd - 3rd - or 4th stitch ... to be determined empirically.
  • OR - work EZ's Sock-Toe Scarf: a tubular scarf started with Provisional Cast On and ended by decreasing the end as you would the toe of a sock: mark sts at either side and decrease e.o.r until half (or less than half) the sts remain; weave the raw stitches. Pick up stitches from the Provisional Cast On and knit another toe.

I hope one of the above possibilities will work for you.

Q: I have a knitting question for Meg. I am knitting a skirt, A-line style and worked, in the round, from the waist down. The skirt basically has 4 panels and in order to "create" these 4 distinct panels I have to make double increases every so many rounds. The increases are placed on either side of a “marker” stitch. I would like the increases to slant one to the right and one to the left of the marker stitch. I've tried every way I can find, but don't seem to achieve this. Can you help, please?

A: Yes, Giuliana, there are a number of methods.

  • You may make pairs of Backward-Loops; sometimes called M(ake)1, sometimes called e-Wrap Increase (see right and left in blue wool)

By twisting the “left” loop in the opposite direction, it causes the left-side of the stitch to be in front. To prevent making a twisted stitch, knit into the back of that loop the next time you meet it.

  • OR try the Raised Running-Thread Increase: from behind, with the tip of the R needle, lift the strand that connects the stitches on the L and R needles. Put the L needle into the front of that strand and knit. For a mirror-image, from behind, lift the running thread with the tip of the L needle and knit into the front of it.
  • OR you may work the nearly-invisible KnitIntoTheBackOfTheStitchOfTheRowBelow in mirror-image. We demonstrate the above 3 methods on our Knitting Glossary DVD. Let me show you the latter here:

Knit-Into-the-Back-of-the-Stitch-of-the-Row-Below - in mirror image.


ON RIGHT-HAND SIDE of the stitch:

From behind, with tip of R needle, pull out the right side of stitch of row below. Insert L needle into front of that strand (photo) - to twist it - and knit . (I knit with a contrasting color for you to see), then knit the “parent” stitch.




ON LEFT-HAND SIDE of the stitch: Knit the “parent” stitch first. With L needle, pull out left side of stitch of row below. Knit into the front of it (photo) to twist it in the opposite direction.





  • Or, Barbara G. Walker's Knitting From the Top shows and describes 10 methods of mirror-image increases (on page 20; that page is practically worth the price of this marvelous book.)... .

Q: I started knitting a sweater in the round and am about four inches into it. It has a definite lean to the left. Do you know what is causing this and how to correct it?

A: Yes, dear Susan, I strongly suspect that the wool you are knitting with has been OVERspun - and the fabric is torquing in the direction of the spin. Alas, I know of no remedy once the overspun wool has been knitted. I finished a complete cardigan once with overspun wool, thinking I could block the sweater straight after it was finished ... alas, to no avail.
However, before knitting (or before buying) questionable wool, do this: unwind, or pull out an arm's-length strand from the skein or ball; hold one end in each hand. Bring your hands together. If the loop between them starts twiddling around, the wool is overspun - and beware.

You could laboriously un-spin the wool by pulling out a length, securing the end to the ball (with a pin or needle), standing on a chair and letting it un-spin. (I remember doing that once by leaning over the staircase and un-spinning about 15 feet at a time.)

If you are knitting wool from a cone, do NOT pull the wool up over the cone to knit; that adds twist which could result in torquing. Instead, put the cone on a lazy-susan, or thread a wooden dowel through the cone and suspend it between two chairs, to let the cone spin and have the wool come off it flat.
Additional Alert: some knitters have had overspun wool spiral the fabric even when knitting back and forth; and even in garter-stitch.

Do you have a question you would like to have answered in another newsletter? Write to me. (info@schoolhousepress.com)



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On the Web Site
Triangle Shawl Knit Along

Purple Pansy Shawl
with Amy Detjen
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Wheels of unspun icelandic wool

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Double Knitting: Reversible Two-Color Designs

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