Thursday, June 2, 2011

June Bear

Thank you to Debra who continues to invent new bear clothing designs each month. This one is a lot of fun -- mitered squares! Mitered squares are especially awesome in yarns with a color-change, as the color will pool up in a little square in the corner. You can get the same effect by changing yarns if you prefer to stash-bust. The modular technique allows you to knit a large project on short needles, because you are only working one little section at a time. If you hate counting to over 100, you may really like modular construction. And if you join modules as you knit, there is little weaving in of ends.  Modules can also be addictive, because you think, "I'll knit just one more, then I'll start dinner."  The next thing you know, you are watching the 11 o'clock news and dinner never did get done.

For the bear vest, Debra has you start at the middle of the back and work outward, joining as you go.  You'll need to sew just two tiny seams at the shoulders.  The lapel collar is created simply by folding back the corners of two miters.

A little technical tip on the miters.  Miters are formed by making a double decrease every right-side row in the center of your stitches.  Yes, the center!  You have two choices on how to deal with those three central stitches.  If you are working in garter stitch and want to maintain the horizontal ridges of purls, work the central three stitches as slip 1 knit-wise, knit the next 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over.  This will place the center stitch on the bottom of the stack, with the left stitch in the middle of the sandwich and the right stitch on top.

If, however, you would like to emphasize the miter with a rib of knits running diagonally across your work, work your decrease instead as slip 2 together knit-wise, knit the next stitch, pass the two slipped stitches over.  This is sometimes called a centered double decrease.  This decrease will put the left stitch on the bottom, the right stitch in the middle of the sandwich, and the center stitch on top.  If done in stockinette, you'll get a clear line of knits running across the work.  If done in garter or some other patterned stitch, in order to maintain the miter line you'll need to remember to purl that center stitch in the middle of knitting across on wrong-side rows.

A final note: the shape of mitered squares varies somewhat based on stitch pattern.  If you work in all stockinette, you'll get more of a diamond.  If you work in garter, as Debra has chosen, you'll get squares.  If you choose to play with stitch patterns, be sure to swatch to see what sort of quadrilateral you get.  Many people like this technique in garter ridge stitch, which is two rows stockinette (knit right side, purl wrong side) alternated with two rows garter stitch (knit right side, knit wrong side).  The courses of garter ridges emphasize the unusual construction.  And some people enjoy working in two colors, alternating out and back in one color, then out and back in the other, just carrying the unused color up the side of the work.

Whatever you do, enjoy experimenting with this fun technique!

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