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December 14, 2005

Drop-stitch and felted join and cheetos and gnomes. And Bob.

As you can tell, I sort of suck at writing headlines. My first job out of college was with the Winter Haven News Chief in Winter Haven, Florida, where I wrote scintillating copy for advertising sections. ("Will Tomato Blight Creep Into Polk County?" "Stripes Stage A Comeback for Spring" and my favorite... "What's New In Bath Fixtures For Fall" ... I was BIG TIME, people!) Anyway, my editor was a nice fellow named Joe who decided the best way for a greenhorn like me to learn the subtle art of headline-writing was to actually write headlines. So he assigned me to kickers.

Kickers aren't really stories. They're photos with a headline and one or two lines of text. I hated kickers. I hated writing kickers. I felt that it was cruel and unusual punishment.

Feedback I got from Joe during that time:

Week 1: Needs a re-write. Keep it up, you'll get better at this!

Week 2: Re-write and send back to me. Keep trying!

Week 3: Not every headline has to begin with a gerund. Re-write.

Week 4: Do not even think of asking me what a gerund is again or I will fire you. Re-write.

Week 6: JesusOnACracker Laurie this was a photo of a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a Blockbuster! There were no gnomes! Nobody thinks your gnome jokes are funny!

Week 9: Ok, OK, yes, that was a funny gnome joke. But this is a family newspaper, your dad would have a heart attack. Re-write. Tell Bruce in paste-up this joke.

Week 12: Either you have gotten better at this or I have somehow ADJUSTED and GOTTEN USED to your sense of humor. I suspect it's the latter. That is disturbing. I'm giving kickers back to Cynthia.

And so I never conquered the headline. Blame it on the gnomes.

But that is not the point of this story... as you can clearly see from my headline. Today it is all about the knitting.

As I am knitting away on this orange loopy scarf, I can think of nothing but eating Cheetos! (Thanks to commenter Jen for pointing that out yesterday. Really. Thanks. Also, did you know that if you eat Cheetos with chopsticks you can avoid tell-tale Orange Fingers? Just a tip. I'm here to help! Gnomes!)

I'm still working on the body of the scarf, which is all drop stitch. Drop stitch was very intimidating to me when I first saw it in a book. The explanations all seemed too vague... what is a yarnover? How do you know what to drop? Will it unravel? What do I do with the first and last stitches?

There are several different ways to do a yarnover or drop-stitch, but this is the one I like best, because you're real clear on when and where to yarn over and drop.

For this scarf, I cast on my ten stitches using the long-tail (or "two tail") method of casting on. That particular method makes a nice, sturdy cast on, plus it doubles as your first knit row so you can get right down to business.

Next, I knit two rows in Loop Stitch (see yesterday's post here for that one.)

On row three, I start the drop-stitch pattern.

Drop-stitch is just what it sounds like... you drop "stitches," except they aren't REAL stitches, these are just faker stitches called yarnovers. I thought yarn overing would be hard ... until I discovered I had been doing it as a beginner accidentally. Whoops! A yarnover occurs anytime you wrap the yarn around the needle without actually knitting it or purling it.

To begin, knit the first stitch of the row just like normal. Then, wrap the yarn tail around your right needle once or twice or even three times (the more wraps, the more yarn you use, right? This means the more wraps, the longer the "dropped" portion of the scarf.)

yarnover drop stitch


yarnover drop stitch

After you do the yarn-overing, knit the next stitch off the left needle like normal. Then, do your yarnovers. My row looks like this:

Knit one, 2 yarnovers
Knit one, 2 yarnovers
Knit one, 2 yarnovers
Knit one, 2 yarnovers
(you get the idea)
When you get to the last stitch of the row, knit it as usual. Boy will you have a lot of stitches now on your full needle!

yarnover drop stitch

Now comes the magic part. That's right, magic! There is so much mystical and elusive about knitting. I am still hoping fuzzyfoot gnomes will show up at my house and finish them up. So, I guess there's also lots of Hope in knitting. And as we all know, Hope keeps you alive. And probably burns calories. But Hope alone does not complete fuzzyfeet, alas.

Where were we? Oh yes... time to make the drop stitch magic!

Knit that first stitch as normal. Now you see the yarn overs sitting there on the left needle, don't you? They're the messy yarn loops on that needle sitting in between the real stitches. Just slide all that loose yarn off the left needle.

yarnover drop stitch

yarnover drop stitch

yarnover drop stitch

Yes, it will be messy.
Yes, you will survive the messy knitting.
Yes, it works out pretty good in the end.
No, I do not want to talk about my fuzzyfeet issues.

yarnover drop stitch

Tug real firmly on the drop stitches to settle them in, and then on your next row, knit each stitch like normal, this really locks in the drop-stitch portion. Voila!

Oh ... but we're not done yet. Check out the Felted Join!

My favorite yarn is 100% wool. One of the perks of using wool (or any fiber that will felt) is that you can add a new ball of yarn using the felted join.

It's just what it sounds like ... joining two balls of yarn by felting the ends of each yarn tail into one seamless yarn-glob. (Have ya'll noticed I'm really into bolding stuff today?)

The upside: No weaving in ends! Woohoo!
The downside: The join can be a wee bit stiff and bulky.

To prevent a big bulky join in my already big, bulky orange Cheeto wool, I fuzzed the ends of my two yarn tails and kind of plucked off some of the loftier strands, thinning each yarn tail down a little bit.

felted join

Next, dampen one or both ends of the yarn. I sponge mine, but you can dip the ends in water, or even spit on them. I'm too OCD-freaky to spit on the yarn, but you do what feels right. Just don't tell me. Really. I do not want to know.


felted join


Once the yarn is damp, lay one end over the other, overlapping maybe an inch or more. VIGOROUSLY rub the yarn between your hands. If you're wearing jeans, you can put the yarn tails together on your jean-covered leg and rub them together real fast. You're using the dampness and the friction to insta-felt the ends together.


felted join


felted join
I love you, felted join!


That concludes today's bandwidth-hogging extravaganza. Bob slept through the whole thing. Coincidentally -- Bob's name was supposed to be "Cheeto" (I mean, come ON! All orange cats should be named Cheeto!) but he only answered to Bob.
bobsleepyhead.jpg

Posted by laurie at December 14, 2005 10:07 AM