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Stitch-Combination Projects

Pattern-Reading Tips for the Frog Dishcloth

Let’s take a look at the frog pattern (you’ll have to follow the link on Ravelry to the designer’s blog and then scroll down to the dishcloth with the frog).

You’ll notice a few new abbreviations – namely “RS” and “WS.”

RS” means “right side” and “WS” means “wrong side.”

Now, there really is no right or wrong in knitting, and we wouldn’t want to make one of the knitted sides feel bad about itself, but on non-reversible projects there is aways a side that is meant to be showing (the “right side”) and a side that is not (the “wrong side”).

You may also notice a few inconsistencies from the standard pattern format I’ve been teaching you.

I can’t re-write the pattern for you here, because it doesn’t belong to me, but let’s just say that “Row 8: (WS) K4 then P29, then K4” can be written as “Row 8: K4, P29, K4.”

You’ll also notice that every even-numbered row is the same as Row 8: “K4, P29, K4.”

While there’s nothing wrong with writing this out, many designers will simply let you know this using the following abbreviation the first time: “Row 8 and all other WS (or even-numbered) rows: K4, P29, K4.”

After that they’ll leave out any mention of even-numbered rows, which is why you should always read through the pattern carefully before you start.

We’ll talk more about what’s happening on the even-numbered rows, and how to save yourself some time and effort on them, once we get going.

One last point: counting your stitches and rows and knowing whether you’ve knit or purled is going to be crucial on this project, and great exercise for your knitting neurons as well.



Frog Dishcloth – First Rows

Work with me together as we follow along with the instructions in the pattern, and I’ll walk you through fixing any mistakes as well.

One easy way to keep track: make sure to cross off your rows on your printed pattern as you do them. The next four videos will guide you through this project, including a lot of troubleshooting and mistake-fixing.

Here are the first few rows. I also discuss some pattern-reading shortcuts.



First Pattern Rows – Dishcloth

Now let’s work the first few rows of the pattern, reading the directions together.



Recognize Where You Are in the Row

Work along with this video to practice recognizing where you are in the row by looking at what you’ve done. We’ll also learn how to count rows, and some special tricks for making it really easy.


Now just keep following along with the pattern, crossing off rows as you come to them, until you finish and bind off. All that’s left is to weave in your ends and block your dishcloth – instructions ahead.


Weaving in Ends on Stockinette Stitch

Here’s how to weave in your ends on Stockinette stitch (it’s really easy):



Blocking Your Dishcloth

The final touch for most knitting projects is blocking.

Soaking your project in warm water with a little soap and then laying it out to dry is all it takes to make your edges and stitches more even and to cover up any inconsistencies in your tension.

Now, here’s one last trick to make your dishcloth look its best. It’s called blocking, and it’s the secret to making knitted projects look professional, flat, and even.

I haven’t mentioned it before, because for projects like the ribbed scarf and the garter-stitch dishcloth, the springy shape is part of the design – you don’t want or need it to flatten out.

However, because this dishcloth has an image knitted into it, it will look its very best if it’s flat and even – especially if you want to photograph it to put it on Ravelry, or if you want to give it as a gift.

In that case, it’s time to learn about blocking.

Blocking

Eek! Sometimes, when a project comes off the needles, no matter how hard you’ve worked to knit perfectly even, it’s going to look all bunchy and funky and not like the pretty photograph in the pattern.

The reason for this is that the fibers have been through a lot on its way to your project — sheared off the sheep, carded, dyed, spun, plied, twisted into hanks and wound into skeins.

And that’s all BEFORE being manipulated into thousands of little interlocking loops on your knitting needles. After being kinked and spun so much, there’s no way the project is going to look as good as it could without this magic final step.

To help the knitted items look perfectly even and gorgeous, the fibers need to relax into their new shape, and to do that, they need help from water and soap. In the video below, I show you how to block a small knitted swatch, but it’s the same process for blocking anything.

You don’t need to pin out your dishcloth by any means – just lay it flat to dry and straighten the edges with your fingers.


To Do the Blocking Knitting – How to Block Your Work:

  1. Soak for 20 minutes in water with Soak or Eucalan.
  2. Gently squeeze out water.
  3. Lay flat to dry, stretching and pinning if desired.

More Info:

Blocking is more important on some projects than on others. It tends to flatten out the knitted piece, so if your project depends on the stitches being very three-dimensional (ribbed scarves being a prime example), you may want to avoid blocking.

Because it flattens out knitted fabric and limits the tendency of Stockinette stitch to curl, blocking is very helpful on any project where you plan to seam or sew the edges. It’s easier to see what’s going on if the edge is flat and straight. To flatten, widen, or straighten the edges of your project even more aggressively, use T-pins to hold the corners and sides of your knitting in place as it dries.

You can pin your piece to anything you want – a couch cushion, the mattress in the spare bedroom, etc. You can also get a blocking kit with specialized interlocking foam pieces that dry quickly and can be arranged in any shape.

To block something lightly, after you soak it, squeeze out as much water as you can before laying it flat. Then, when you lay it flat, be careful not to stretch it out. Just use your fingers to straighten the edges and make the whole thing look even and neat.

To block something aggressively, leave the knitted piece quite damp, stretch it aggressively into the shape that you want, and use T-pins to hold it in that shape until it dries.

That’s it, you’re all done.

Make sure to take a pretty photograph and link it to whichever pattern you used on Ravelry.


It's time to keep building on the skills you've learned so far. I'm going to be teaching you a few other moves that make knit-and-purl stitch combinations even more flexible.

This chapter is going to make you an expert at reading your work, which will set you up nicely for our final chapter and challenge project.

Project – Aubergine Dreams Scarf

Aubergine Dreams Scarf This pattern stitch makes a lovely scarf, and it’s going to teach us a few new stitch-techniques at the same time.

Please navigate to and print out the pattern here – notice that the designer has constructed this as a short neckwarmer but I recommend that you work it as a regular scarf, without the buttons and buttonholes, which means you’ll need about three times as much yarn.

Tip: You don’t need to make this whole scarf to practice these techniques – you could just knit up a swatch until you get the hang of this stitch pattern.

You could also do the neckwarmer length and just follow the pattern’s instructions to learn how to make buttonholes. Or you could do the whole shebang. It’s up to you.

At least knit long enough to make some mistakes, so that we can learn how to fix them together.



Choosing Your Yarn

The pattern was designed with Araucanía Magallanes, an aran-weight yarn, but the project shown here was made with Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Chunky – you can see that there is a lot of flexibility with which yarn thickness you can use.

Just keep in mind that if you use a worsted-weight yarn, the scarf will be narrower, and if you use a bulky-weight yarn, the scarf will be wider. Some inexpensive, craft-store options could be Martha Stewart Crafts Alpaca Blend, or Lion Brand Wool-Ease.

A Note About Color

On this project we can veer away a little from the doctrine that knit-and-purl patterned projects need to be made with a solid-colored yarn.

As you can see from the photo, a hand-painted yarn can work really well with this project – none of the color-changes distract from the overall structure of the stitches. Misti Alpaca works well for this type of project precisely because the yarn changes colors almost every stitch, giving an overall look that is multicolored but even.

I would still stay away from variegated yarns (yarns that have random blocks of color). They look beautiful on the skein, but knitted up, the color-blocks can distract from your pattern.

Okay, you’ve got your yarn, it’s wound into balls, and you’ve got the appropriate-sized needles. Let’s get started.



Slipping Stitches

Read through the Aubergine Dreams pattern and notice the following abbreviations or instructions you may not have seen before.

  • “Sl 1” means “slip 1,” and here she means as if to purl, or “purlwise”
  • “Sl 1 as if to knit” means “slip 1 knitwise”
  • Purl through the front loop*

Let’s look at what “slip 1” means before we get started on the scarf (*we’ll talk about “purling through the front loop” when we get to that point in the pattern).


Slipping stitches is a very common way to make a chain of decorative elongated stitches in your knitting, and it is used frequently in pattern design.

Because the stitch is slipped instead of knitted, it has to stretch over two rows before it gets knitted again – this elongates the stitch and makes it stand out from the stitches next to it.

Many patterns call for “slipping the first stitch of every row,” and this is exactly what it sounds like.

It helps create a nice, even edge along the sides of scarves and other projects. In fact, our pattern here calls for exactly that, as does Jared Flood’s version of the striped Noro scarf.

If you go and look at his version of the pattern, you’ll see that he calls for an odd number of stitches to be cast on, just to accommodate an extra slipped stitch at the beginning of each row.

Slipping the first stitch of each row also helps us set up for seamed projects, because it’s very easy to sew up two pieces of knitting that have even, elongated stitches along the sides.

We’ll experiment more with that in the last chapter. Just keep this in mind when you are working on future projects: if the pattern says “slip 1” but doesn’t specify which way, slip the stitch “purlwise.”


Cast On and Work Through Scarf Pattern

Now let’s cast on together and work through this scarf pattern.


Keep working through this pattern, and review the following video for what to do if you mess up.


Fix Advanced Knit and Purl Mistakes


Nice work! You can finish up this scarf or pause in the middle and go on to our last scarf, and work on them both at the same time if you wish.

Make sure to link your project to Aubergine Dreams on Ravelry.


Project – Man-Stitch Scarf

Man Scarf My favorite stitch combination.

This stitch actually has a different official name: it’s called Mistake Rib or Broken Rib, because it’s worked in 2×2 ribbing, but the knit and purl stitches don’t line up.

The resulting texture is perfect for soft and simple scarves that also look rugged and manly. This last scarf project is going to make you a pro at reading your work and fixing your mistakes – you are going to be SO far ahead of other knitters when it comes to these skills.

The Mistake Rib is a perfect challenge for us to practice those techniques.

You can work along with the videos and just make a swatch if you don’t want to make a complete scarf, but if you do want to make the scarf, here are some general tips about knitting projects and choosing yarn for men, an adventure in itself.



Knitting For Men

Here are just a few thoughts about knitting scarves for men – please keep in mind that this advice will not apply in every situation or to every man, so don’t get mad at me if your man isn’t like this.

That being said… Knitting for men in your life is fun but can also be dangerous, because if after all your hard work he doesn’t want it and doesn’t wear it, it’s going to be a bummer.

For this reason, I think it’s best to wait until your man says, “Can you make ME a scarf?” to take the plunge.

If said man DOES want said scarf, I would first ask him what his favorite color is – who doesn’t like stuff in their favorite color?

What, he already has two navy-blue scarves? Perfect. That’s how you know he likes ‘em.

If your scarf is going to be a surprise, you will be mostly safe sticking to navy blue, green, and shades of gray (if your guy is a lime-green-and-purple kind of guy, you’ll already know it).

Second, don’t scrimp on the yarn quality – make sure it’s soft and not itchy. Most men are less accustomed to suffering for fashion than women are – an itchy scarf will live at the back of the drawer no matter how much he loves you.

Use a pure merino wool, or even a cashmere blend if you feel like spoiling him (and your fingers). I’ll recommend some of my favorite choices for our man-scarf, but before you buy the yarn, hold it up to your neck to see if it’s prickly.

Warning: Alpaca feels soft but can sometimes be uncomfortable nonetheless – depending on the company, some alpaca yarn fibers seem to reach out and prickle your neck in the most irritating way.

So rub the yarn all over your neck first to check for prickles.

That’s it! Read through the pattern below and I’ll help you pick out some yarn and we’ll get started.



Pattern – Man-Stitch Scarf (Mistake Rib Scarf)

Materials: 300 yds worsted (aran, bulky-weight yarn), set of straight knitting needles in the appropriate size for your yarn

Finished Measurements: 5 ½ inches wide by 5-6 feet long, depending on your taste.

Pattern Notes: Model is shown wearing the Man-Stitch Scarf in bulky-weight yarn.

Pattern Instructions

CO 27(23,19) sts.
Row 1: (K2, P2) across to last st., end P1.
Repeat Row 1 to desired scarf length.

Finishing

BO in pattern.
Weave in ends. Wear and be manly.


Done reading through the pattern? Okay, let’s go shopping!



Shopping for Yarn for Your Man-Stitch Scarf

The yarn you choose should depend on how chunky you want the scarf to look, and how much time you want to spend knitting this scarf. The bulky scarf in the pattern photo took about two afternoons to knit – a finer yarn will take longer.

For bulky yarn, I recommend Malabrigo Chunky or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky, for aran-weight yarn I recommend Berroco Pure Merino or Malabrigo Twist, and for worsted-weight yarn I recommend Malabrigo Merino Worsted or Malabrigo Rios.

Again, semi-solid, kettle-dyed, and heathered or tweed yarns will show off this pattern the best. Self-striping yarns like Noro can be gorgeous in this stitch as well.



First Rows of Mistake-Rib Scarf

Let’s get started. We’ll do the first few rows together and then take a look at the properties of stitches in this scarf.



Troubleshooting Man-Stitch

The next few videos will help you recognize and fix any errors.

If You Get Lost in the Pattern/End With Wrong Stitch

First, what to do if you get lost, for example, if your stitch-count is off, and you don’t end with a P1 like you’re supposed to.



Stitches Don’t Line Up Right

Here’s what to do if you notice that your stitches aren’t lining up like they’re supposed to.


Nice work. You did it! I hope you and your man both appreciate how much skill and hard work it took to make this work of art.


Challenge Project – Seed-Stitch Dishcloth Without a Pattern

Next, it’s time for another small challenge project. Of course this is optional, but if you are feeling adventurous and have some cotton dishcloth yarn left over, we’ll make a seed-stitch dishcloth as well.

Here, the challenge is going to be using knit-and-purl combinations and fitting them into the increases and decreases of the diamond dishcloth pattern. This will be great practice for reading your work.

Pattern Modification: Seed-Stitch Dishcloth

Seed Stitch BlueThe only difference between this dishcloth and the one we did earlier is that inside the border of yarnovers, we’ll be working in a textured pattern called “seed stitch.”

Seed stitch alternates knits and purls to make a flat-lying, reversible, textured fabric.

On a square piece of fabric, seed stitch is knitted like this:

Row 1: (K1, p1) across.
Row 2: (P1, k1) across.

This combination makes a lovely nubbly fabric.

Practice on a little swatch with me – let’s do some seed-stitch together in the next video, and we’ll take a close look at the fabric.

Here’s how to do seed stitch.



How To Put Seed Stitch Into Your Dishcloth

In order to incorporate this pattern into our dishcloth, we are going to just use our understanding of reading our work. Nothing else. I’m not going to write out the pattern for you.

This video will walk you through how to go about putting a textured pattern like seed stitch into a shaped pieced of knitting (when you use increases and decreases, it’s called shaping).



Decreasing on Seed Stitch Dishcloth

When you’ve got 44 stitches on your needle, it’s time to do the decreases. This video walks you through how we do those.


Keep going until you’ve got four stitches left on your dishcloth, and bind off normally. Well done. Great work – I’m proud of you for taking on this challenge – look how far you’ve come in your knitting knowledge and ability.


Stitch-Sampler Patchwork Blanket

You’re now ready for the pièce de résistance – a patchwork-square blanket, using all the skills we’ve learned so far.

This will be a great project to show off your favorite stitch-patterns, experiment with new ones, and tie all your new skills together into something really memorable. Patchwork Blanket

A stitch-sampler patchwork blanket is made up of different patterned squares of the same size, seamed together. That’s it.

You can make the blanket as big or as small as you want – to cover a baby in a stroller or two newlyweds in a king- sized bed.

Little embellishments and borders are optional, and you can make this project as simple or complex as you want. You can also work together with a group of friends, each knitter making one or a few squares to combine together as a gift to someone special (this makes a wonderful going-away present for a much-loved member of a knitting circle who is moving away).

Since you now have lots of experience making stitch-combination fabrics and reading knit-and-purl patterns, I’m going to leave you on your own to work through the squares.

I’ll be giving you suggestions of squares to try, and I’ll recommend a few nice challenges that I think you will enjoy (like a beginning lace pattern.).

I’ll also walk you through tricks for making seaming super-fast, and tips to make sure each square comes out (or ends up) the same size.



Choosing Your Yarn

The first consideration when making a knitted project as a gift is that you’ll probably want to use a washable yarn. Beware of relying on others to hand-wash your painstakingly knitted products.

Any washable worsted-weight yarn will work well for this project – the blanket shown in the photo above (“Patchwork Blanket” by Sandi Prosser) uses Cascade 220 Superwash, a washable worsted-weight wool that comes in a million colors. Ella Rae Classic would also work well.

Also, as we have seen before, solid colors will work best with this type of project. Choosing a heathered or tweedy version of your favorite colors can be a nice change, and won’t distract from the patterns you are going to knit.



Planning Your Blanket and Choosing Your Squares

If you like, you can buy Quick Baby Knits and use the pattern for the above patchwork blanket straight out of the book. Or, you can put together your own patchwork blanket scheme by selecting different stitch patterns yourself.

When selecting patterns yourself, just make sure to cast on the same number or almost the same number of stitches and work about the same number of rows for each square, so that they all come out the same size.

I would recommend a square about 40 stitches in width for this project (at a gauge of 5 stitches per inch, that’s 8 inches across). You can cast-on 41 stitches to accommodate the slipped-edge stitch in each row (see below).



Preparing Your Edges

We’ll be using a crochet hook to seam your blanket squares together super-easily. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to crochet. I’ll show you a very basic seaming technique at the end of this project.

One nice thing about using crochet to seam up your squares is that you don’t have to weave in your ends – you’ll use them to seam up the squares.

Since crochet uses up a lot of yarn, leave a very long tail on each square – a few yards long will work well. I’ll show you how to make all your ends disappear in the video on seaming at the end of this module.

In order to make it easy to seam the squares, we’re going to slip the first stitch of every row on each square we make. This will make a nice row of elongated stitches along the sides of the squares – perfect for seaming.

Watch the video below and remember: slip the first stitch purlwise with yarn in front, and knit the last stitch of every row.



Select Your Stitch Patterns

Here are some stitch-patterns that will work really nicely for this project.


Seed Stitch Blue

Seed Stitch

We’ve already learned seed stitch from our challenge dishcloth project. Because we’ll be casting on an odd number of stitches, repeating row 1 will result in a perfect seed stitch.

CO 42 sts.
Row 1: Sl 1 with yarn in front, (K1, P1) to last st, K1.
Repeat row 1 until your square is as tall as it is wide.
BO and weave in ends.


Moss stitch

Moss Stitch

Moss stitch is an elongated version of seed stitch – that is, you stack two stitches of the same type before switching.

CO 42 sts.
Rows 1 and 4: Sl 1 with yarn in front, (K1, P1) to last st, K1.
Rows 2 and 3: Sl 1 with yarn in front, (P1, K1) to last st, K1.
Repeat rows 1-4 until your square is as tall as it is wide.
BO and weave in ends.


Mistake Rib

Broken Rib (Mistake Rib)

CO 42 sts.
Row 1: Sl 1 with yarn in front, (K1, P1) to last st, K1.
Row 2: Sl 1 with yarn in front, K across.
Repeat rows 1-2 until your square is as tall as it is wide.
BO and weave in ends.


Checkerboard Stitch close up

Checkerboard Stitch

This is a great challenge for you to knit by reading your work. You can do this as a small-check square or a large- check square – I present both directions here.

Small checks:

CO 42 sts.
Rows 1-4: Sl 1 with yarn in front, (K4, P4) to last st, K1.
Rows 5-8: Sl 1 with yarn in front,, (P4, K4) to last st, K1.
Repeat rows 1-8 until your square is as tall as it is wide.
BO and weave in ends.

Large checks:

CO 42 sts.
Rows 1-8: Sl 1 with yarn in front, (K8, P8) to last st, K1.
Rows 9-16: Sl 1 with yarn in front, (P8, K8) to last st, K1.
Repeat rows 1-16 until your square is as tall as it is wide.
BO and weave in ends.


More Free Stitch Patterns

Luckily, many dishcloth patterns are available online that will work great as blanket squares.

Make sure that you cast on about the same number of stitches for each square. If the dishcloth pattern includes a garter-stitch border, like our stockinette-stitch one did, you can leave off those stitches to make the dishcloth the right size if you need to. Check out the following free designs to see which ones you like:

More Stitch-Pattern Resources

200 Knitted Blocks Book Cover

For this project, the book 200 Knitted Blocks is a great resource. The name says it all.

Harmony Guide Knit and Purl Cover

The Knit and Purl Harmony Guide is also a beautiful resource for stitch-patterns made with just combinations of knit and purl stitches.



Challenge Stitch-Pattern: Beginning Lace

If you’re up for it, let’s combine all your new knowledge to make lace.

A lace block will make a nice introduction to the technique, it’s more great practice for your pattern-reading, and it will look beautiful in your blanket.

Lace is simply a combination of yarnovers and knit-2-togethers, in a variety of patterns. You already know how to do both those stitches – let’s put them together in a square for your blanket.


Lacy Zig-Zag Blanket Square

CO 38 sts.

Rows 1, 3, and 5 (RS): Sl 1, (K2tog, K2, YO, K2) to last st, K1.
Row 2 and all even-numbered rows: Sl 1, P across.
Rows 7, 9, and 11: Sl 1, K3, (YO, K2, K2tog, K2) to last 4 stitches,YO, K2, K2tog.
Repeat rows 1-12 until your square is as tall as it is wide.
BO and weave in ends.


Follow along with me in the video to make sure you understand how to read and knit this pattern.


Great work. Look at you go! I am SO proud that you’ve learned to read and knit a pattern like this.


Adding a Border to Your Squares

Alright, it’s time to seam up your blanket.

If any of your squares are curling or acting funky in any way, go ahead and block them so they are easy to seam.

Now, if any squares are more than half an inch smaller along the edge than any others, follow along with this video to crochet a tiny border around the squares to make them a little bigger before seaming. The following video will introduce you to single crochet borders.

It’s the same one you may have watched about putting a border on a dishcloth, but exactly the same concept applies here as well (without the loop of course).



Seam Up Blanket Squares With a Crochet Hook

Now, let’s use the same simple stitch, the single crochet, to seam the edges of your squares.

Here’s how to do it on the nice and even side-edges, and on the less-nice-and-even cast-on edges.



Seaming Squares with Mattress Stitch

Mattress stitch is a way to seam together pieces of knitting. To make this process as easy as possible, block the pieces to be seamed and use a sturdy, contrasting yarn as your seaming yarn.

Once you get the hang of Mattress Stitch, you can use the tail yarn of your project to do it (this is slightly more challenging because the yarn won’t stand out as you work).

If you’d like to seam up your squares with a completely invisible seam, watch my mattress stitch video below.


To Do the Mattress Stitch:

  1. On the upper piece, insert the tapestry needle under both legs of the bottom-right-most stitch you can find. Pull the yarn through.
  2. On the lower piece, insert your tapestry needle under both legs of the top-rightmost stitch you can find. Pull the yarn through.
  3. On the upper piece, insert your tapestry needle under the stitch next to the one you went under previously. Pull yarn through.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until entire edge is seamed.

You can also crochet around the entire blanket a few times using single crochet (use the same technique we used to make a border around the squares) to pull the blanket together visually and to make a nice and even edge.

The only thing left is to block your blanket. Please don’t leave out this step, as it will be the finishing touch on a project that is worthy of looking its very best. Then, enjoy.

Congratulations – You Did It.

I’m so proud of you! I hope you realize how powerful the skills that you’ve learned are.

Not only will your entire family be covered in scarves and blankets for the holidays, you can now move forward to some of knitting’s most fun projects with the knowledge and confidence that you can do them! A cute happy stick figure by Liat


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