Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

Knit Kit

Dear Ann,
It’s funny how, after a couple of days away from the computer, you lose the habit of feeding all daily experience into the blog fodder funnel. I’ve been back so long I can’t remember vacation, but you guys were having so much fun dressing up preserved animals that I didn’t want to jump in with my petty knitting concerns.
Until now. I’m back with the petty knitting concerns.
Here’s what I have to show for my vacay knitting: Ether, from Rowan 41, using substituted Euroflax Originals Sportweight. Like Olive Oyl, I’m knitting a Medium, but a Large feels SO good. The reasoning behind my Aspirational Sizing was: 1. My proportions are a Medium, with the exception of my tummy, which didn’t get the memo. 2. Ether has an overlapping, doubled front, which gives a little wiggle room for the tummy (literally). (Ew. Sorry about that.) I’ve tried it on, and with a manageable amount of tugging and suckingitin, it fits fine. I just wish it were a little bit longer. Which brings me to my question of the day:
What knitted lace edging could I substitute for the edging in the pattern? The edging in the pattern, which is knitted separately to the length required to go all the way around the bottom of the body and the sleeves, and then sewn on, looks to be less than 2 inches long. I’m looking for something more like 3- 5 inches. I’m taking suggestions. Bonus gratitude points for a pattern or tips on knitting the edging on instead of sewing it later. (It seems to me like I ought to be able to just knit the last stitch together with a stitch picked up from the edge, no? What’s the biggie? Why does Rowan want you to sew it? The difference between row gauge and stitch gauge? Just to bust chops?)
Currently under consideration: Mary’s Lace from Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on the Edge. I think that criss-crossy bit will look cool in linen.
New Knitter Excitement
I’m sure you have a friend like this: the Non-Knitter By Choice. A person who seems to appreciate knitting, and who may even have knit in the remote past, and who in any event seems to have all the Right Stuff for knitting, but suffers from Failure To Knit. I have a friend like this. Let’s call her “Diana”. Diana has a wide streak of Norwegian in her. She has a trunk full of snowflake sweaters. She wears a lot of sweaters. She looks good in sweaters, and she cadges a handknit whenever she can. Yet for many years she has resisted gentle encouragement to take up the needles. The encouragement has been gentle because I know my psychology. You can’t make a person knit. A person who is forced or pressured to knit is going to make a lot of mistakes and get crabby and blame you for starting her up.
So you have to lie in wait. You have to accept the loathsome fact that this person, despite her aptitude, may never know the joy that only true knitting brings. She will be dishcloth-dependent for life, and there is nothing you can do about it.
When a person like this expresses a faint stirring of knitterly longing, be especially careful. Don’t act like you’re excited, even if your heart is about to burst out of your chest and you hear a high-pitched whine in your ears. BE CASUAL. Say something like, “I’m sure there is a knitting shop in Providence that gives knitting lessons [YAWN].” It is a matter of complete indifference to you. Knit–don’t knit–do I look like I care?
When the person calls you up and says they have knit 6 dishcloths, and they have signed up for knitting classes at the local yarn store, however, OPEN THE FLOODGATES. Send yarn. Send flowers. You’ve got a live one! Reel. Her. In.
So, Diana was asking me what would make a good next project after the garter dishrags started to lose their glamour. I gave my standard counsel against scarves, on the grounds that a scarf goes on long after the fun of knitting it wanes. I suggested a simple roll-brim hat. Quick and easy, and you learn how to decrease. I think that was good advice.
But then I saw some Misti Alpaca Chunky in the yarn store, and I remembered how quick it knits up, how pleasant it is to knit, and how it could addict a person to the act of knitting. I cooked up a 2-skein scarf–a mere schmattah–in one repeat of Feather & Fan. A tasty way to practice your K2tog, and a dramatic demonstration of what happens when you line up some yarnovers. To a beginner, Feather & Fan looks like alchemy. It snakes! It has mysterious holes! It always ends up with the same number of stitches! In case you have a live one, here are the instructions I wrote to Diana:
This is a traditional pattern called “Feather & Fan” or “Old Shale.” You will learn some basics. I started it for you so you can see the pattern. [And also because I couldn’t help myself.]
There are 18 stitches on the needle. The pattern takes 4 rows for each repeat, and only one row has anything fancy in it.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: (Knit 2 together) 3 times, then (yo, k1) 6 times, then (knit 2 together) 3 times.
Row 4: Knit.
Repeat rows 1-4 until you only have a few yards of yarn left. End with a Row 4, then bind off.
“Knit 2 together,” commonly abbreviated as “k2tog”, means you stick the right needle into the next 2 stitches and knit them together. This leaves you with 1 stitch, ergo it is a decrease of 1 stitch.
“YO” is the abbreviation for “yarnover”. It is a way to create a new stitch, or to “increase” by 1 stitch. It makes a hole in the fabric which is the basis for all lace knitting. Here’s how you do it. Don’t think about it too much.
Place the working yarn in front (as if you were going to purl the next stitch). Then, knit the next stitch. (This completes the instruction “yo, k1”.)
On the next row (row 4), when you come to the new stitches that you created with a yarnover, knit into them normally, thus creating the characteristic hole in the fabric.
Notice that in row 3, you work a total of 6 “k2tog”, and 6 “yo”; thus you decrease 6 stitches and increase 6 stitches, so you still have 18 stitches at the end of row 3. [Intro to The Mathy-ness of Knitting.]
If you mess up, unravel back to a plain knit or purl row, put the 18 stitches back on the needle, and carry on.

I will let you know how Diana does with her mailorder knitting instructions. I hope I haven’t spooked her.




  1. As one with a tummy slightly less than a six pack (more like a two liter???) I hear your comments. The sweater is very cute….. love it. No doubt that a great wider edging would fit the bill. Could you do a knit on edging a la EZ? There is that whole biz of the fiddly math bits when you do a knit on, but you’re right, it is lovely not to have to sew it on.
    I’ll be watching—— it is going to be fabbo!

  2. I love your pattern…it might be a good knit for my boyfriend to make for his mother for mother’s day! He’s been mentioning that he hasn’t knit anything in awhile, and that he was pondering picking up the needles soon…

  3. Ditto Tina’s post (above)re: knitted on edging a la EZ.
    However, is it possible to find a way to knit on the lace in the original pattern, but add some repeats to increase the length to your desired specifications? I would’t know how to do this, mind you, just asking if it’s possible.
    Or, you could make the original lace pattern, add on a few repeats (or some other stitch pattern)to lengthen it, then apply it to the edge via applied I-cord method (I just did a bib for a baby shower from that ‘One Skein’ book with I-cord ties, applied via “live stitches” method. I wouldn’t know, however, if you can now frog to produce live stitches at the edge of your garment, but I have faith in you…)
    Happy knitting! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  4. Thanks for sharing the feather-n-fan scarf pattern with us. Just one question: does it curl like stockinette?

  5. I knit a feather and fan scarf for my first real knitting project (years and years after my grandmas failed attempts at getting me to take up knitting)
    Also If you are speaking of Providence RI you need to get Diana on Ravelry and sent over to the RI group where we can encorage her to come to knitting groups and tell her where to buy her yarn

  6. Ether looks great (another to add to the list after the mother of all 63 square blankies is done). I like the edging you chose, but will scan nikki epstein for more.

  7. Is it possible that they recommend sewing the edging on to stabilize the bottom hem? That’s the only thing I can think of. LOVE the color, and it’s such a cute top. Medium, I’m SO jealous! In my defense, the oldest of my three kids just turned three, so that gives me an excuse to have the dreaded tummy thing right????? πŸ™‚

  8. I’m a self taught knitter and love knitting instructions like that, everything spelt out in words of one syllable that even I can understand. There is definitely a market out there for a knitting book of fun and even quite complicated patterns for people who don’t speak fluent knittish LOL

  9. Rowan’s knitting instructions are based on the way their granny did it ! Well, that, and sewing instructions. In other words an awkward pain. To maintain sanity attach as you go. It’s the true knitterly way.
    Wow ! A live one. Fab !

  10. I hate to make seperate edgings too. One thing I’ve tried that makes it more bearable, is to knit a few inches, and then sew them on, continuing this until edging is complete. That way, you won’t accidently make the edging longer than the hem (that pesky “ease” factor), plus, it’s gratifying to actually see it on the sweater as you continue to knit. Good Luck!

  11. When my friend discovered that I was maybe interested in knitting, she sent me a box (cross-country) with yarn; the pattern for a Wallaby for my granddaughter; a video she had made of herself doing different stitches; an Elizabeth Zimmerman book; a bag with stitch holders and markers, needle gauge, tape measure, etc.; a little notebook to keep track of patterns; a pattern for a dishcloth; and more. Since then she has sent me more books and stuff from her stash and guided me through more patterns than I can count. A true friend!

  12. Wow! I wish my friends would send me cool stuff like “Diane” and Sally’s friends!
    Kay, your new top looks lovely, and makes me hope that one day, one day soon, it will be warm enough (and snowless enough) to wear such a sweet top. I’m starting to feel that I’ve been sewed into my winter clothes.

  13. Kay, What would we do without F&F. Welcome back from vaca.

  14. W00t! another one bites the dust! Who could not be converted by that gift and scarf?
    Meanwhile, what happens if you just do your lace edge twice as wide as they think you should (asks the oblivious one who hasn’t seen the pattern lately to recall what they think goes at the bottom).

  15. happy you are back
    we have been busy
    would a lovely beaded band
    and beaded fringe work on
    your top
    i wonder is there a way to
    make more then then one
    edgeing and have a way like velcro
    or buttuns or someting so one
    may interchange the edgeings

  16. Providence? As in, Providence, Rhode Island? I’m only about 45 minutes from there – Mystic, CT. We have a lovely yarn shop here in town (Mystic River Yarns – great selection, annual teacher’s day; they’ve had Lily Chin the last couple years plus one other teacher. This year was Annie Modesitt and it’s POSSIBLE last year was Norah Gaughan but I’m not sure, I didn’t get to go.) And then Westerly, RI (one town before me, so a tiny bit closer to her) has Knit Wits, another lovely and active shop. Oh and Tiverton has Sakonnet Purls, that’s even closer to her! When you think she’s in enough not to get spooked, give her my email. Or my Ravelry – LeftKnitting.

  17. I wanted my mom to knit. She crochets so i knew she’d get the hang of it no problem. But like any sane person observing a fanatic she resisted. Then she read some book called ‘A Knitting Circle’ or some such thing. She loved it. It made her want to learn to knit.
    I directed her to her awesome LYS in Wickford and knittinghelp.com. Lo and behold, she’s one of us now! She sent the book to one of her sisters and that one learned to cast on from a lady in the package store!
    So I think this book will be key to swelling our ranks. Long live knitters!

  18. Go Diana Go! Knit like the wind.

  19. Hey, I looked up Ether, and isn’t it in Rowan 43, not 41? Ether way (aha, aha) it’s a gorgeous design and color. I’ve got no help for the edging, though.
    Good luck with the new knitter!

  20. Sara’s right–it’s Rowan 43. The current issue, in other words. How can Rowan be in the 40s?
    xox Kay

  21. ~snort~ aspirational sizing ….. that one is definitely going into the lexicon!

  22. I think the problem with the sweater length is the short waisted jeans (!)
    I could add a 2-5 inch decorative edging onto -all- my shirts…
    or at least the backs πŸ™‚

  23. Love the feather and fan — size 10 needles as you did with teacher gift scarves or a larger needle size? I started a mistake rib may when I got 6 skeins of Misti for Christmas… πŸ™‚

  24. I love the feather and fan pattern in a scarf. I have made several to give as gifts. They knit up quickly and the recipient always thinks you’ve moved heaven and earth to make yarn do fancy tricks like that!

  25. I have successfully knit edgings on to garter stitch things, but you’d have to swatch and be careful and worry about things like flaring and stretching when attaching an edge to a st st garment.
    What I’ve done with my problematic edging, is leave it in a heap hoping for an easy way out….

  26. is sewn-on finishing the general way to go, for rowan? all the sewing-on in the phildar magazines makes me go out in hives. (the buttonhole bands. the necklines.) this may be why i’m just knitting blankets, now…

  27. I like to sew, but I don’t like to sew my knitting! bleah…
    Personally, I have been knitting for around 5 years and I spin my own yarn, but I am “scared” of stitch patterns and hardly ever do any. I did put some cables on a hat for a friend recently, because I know that she likes cables, and she knits and she explained to me HOW to do cables…but generally, I stay away. I’ve never done a feather & fan. Aren’t I horrible?? All that said, it does look like you explained it very nicely for a starter project!

  28. Misti Alpaca Chunky will do it. I don’t know any people who have not fallen for it once they touched it.

  29. There are a ton of knitters where I am locally, but none of my friends knit. I’m just waiting for one of them to decide that it can’t be too hard if I can do it. Then I’ll use your instructions and reel them in good and proper!

  30. Oddly, I just made a scarf exactly like this, in a day of jury duty, and can vouch for the sensual, architectural, and crafty pleasure of making it. Two caveats, discovered only after I had knit it: 1) the alpaca seems to stretch the fan downward, which still looks OK but makes a skinnier longer scarf than what I thought I was getting. I’m wishing I had done a few stitches of garter on both sides and made it shorter. 2) It looks great if you knit two halves and graft them in the middle (which would require another lesson for the new learner but oh the wondrous alchemy of it) because then it has two fishtails instead of a fishtail and an arrowhead. I put fringe on and really like how it looked on the two fishtails. So for what it’s worth…

  31. Oddly, I just made a scarf exactly like this, in a day of jury duty, and can vouch for the sensual, architectural, and crafty pleasure of making it. Two caveats, discovered only after I had knit it: 1) the alpaca seems to stretch the fan downward, which still looks OK but makes a skinnier longer scarf than what I thought I was getting. I’m wishing I had done a few stitches of garter on both sides and made it shorter. 2) It looks great if you knit two halves and graft them in the middle (which would require another lesson for the new learner but oh the wondrous alchemy of it) because then it has two fishtails instead of a fishtail and an arrowhead. I put fringe on and really like how it looked on the two fishtails. So for what it’s worth…

  32. sorry about idiotic double posting!

  33. I can vouch for the LYS in Wickford, RI. “And the Beadz Goes On” for great selection of yarn and beads and very enthusiastic and helpful staff and it isn’t too far from Providence, either (great gift shop a couple doors down, Different Drummer, too) I go at least once a year when I am back in Rhody. For those uninitiated with New England lexicon – package store is a liquor store, also known affectionatly as a “packy”!

  34. Here is the site I go to when I am looking for edgings. Most of them are pretty lacy though.
    It’s actually a pretty dangerous site. Because after I’ve looked at a few edging patterns, I get these wild fantasies. I could make 4-inch deep lace edging for all my aprons and nightgowns! I could make a jolly old Elizabethan ruff for the Renaissance Faire if I wanted to! I could add lace edging to all my guest towels!
    So I try not to go there too often.

  35. I love that sweater! Isn’t it sweet to know that it will only get softer with washing? It makes a girl want to go out and spill lemonade on herself repeatedly. Now, about the edging.I vote for the Mary’s Lace. It’s stunning and will take your sweater to a level approaching the ether. Here’s a little advice. Knit yourself a little swatch so you know the parameters of the lace. You may want it on a different needle size than you have been using. Also,just be sure that the lace isn’t to heavy (or dense) so that it would drag your sweater edge down or look droopy. Of course you can knit it on as you go- this is the perfect project for that. The swatch will also tell you your row build up per inch. Since you already know your gauge, you can figure the proportion of rows of edging to stitches per inch. Another thing to consider- you can make the edging as wide as you want by increasing the faggotting at the top of the edging or increasing the number of criss-crosses or both. But if you have curvy hips, you may need to plan some short rows in the garter ridges to accommodate. To attach the edging (have ya’lls eyes glazed over yet?),slip the last stitch of the edging, insert your needle through the fabric of the sweater, wrap the yarn and pull the loop through the fabric and slip the last stitch of the edging over the stitch you pulled through the fabric. Turn work and continue. Use a provisional cast on at the beginning of the edging, ’cause there’ll kitchener at the end.
    Whoo,after that, I need some chocolate.
    Dawn (from Beacon)

  36. Don’t forget Fresh Purls in Providence! Tons of classes, lots of help and the 1 Year Anniversary March 26th

  37. Oh, and about Rowan. They use a dressmaker model(not a physical model, but a philosophical one)for their garment construction. VogueKnitting does the same thing. That’s why they give such great schematics to block the individual pieces. Though at times it may not be apparent, they don’t mean to be annoying.

  38. Hi Kay,
    What a beautiful sweater. I think one of the reasons they make the pattern so short now, is because it is fashionable to have your shirt stick out on the bottom. I don’t know what the cut-off age is for that, but if it is done tastefully it can work. I saw it tonight on one of the TV ladies here in Boston, she wore a similar sweater, with 3/4 sleeves and it was black, and the shirt underneath was multicolored. It was about 4-5 inches longer than the sweater, and also about 2 inches were visible on the arms. The whole front V neck was covered with this shirt. It was very tastefully done. Usually I don’t like this look, but it was very nice today. I think it was a silk blouse. This lady was middle-aged.
    The scarf is so beautiful, and I found some Alpaca in my stash, 2 balls,started knitting and I got 6 inches already, not bad for my first “big” project since hand surgery 4 weeks ago.Thank you very much for encouraging me to start on a nice scarf. I have been making fingerpuppets with my knitting group and a couple of chicks that hold a Cadbury Chocolate Egg. I am glad you are back and thanks again. Rita

  39. What size needles did you start the scarf on?

  40. Welllll, you could cut that baby and knit down to your desired length and use Rowan’s edging…

  41. I read in the comments that Ether is is Rowan 43. I found a similar sweater in Rowan 41, but it is called Tulip. Tulip looks shorter than Ether, but your Ether doesn’t look as long as the one in the magazine. Anyway, I love them both. Wish there were more hours in the day.

  42. THANK YOU for explaining the mysterious “yarn over” – – all the patterns and books assume I know how to do it. I’m a newbie knitter and all my knitting friends live too far away to show me.
    (Classes are in my future but not immediately.) That scarf pattern actually seems like something I could do…

  43. I love Feather and Fan. It is sort of like a comfort food, a comfort knit if you like! I think that is is great that you are start her with a narrow F & F scarf! I have a “live one,” too. Only she won’t even try to fix a simple dropped stitch mistake yet after 3 years! She just hands it to me and won’t even watch me to learn how to fix it herself! Eiiiii! But I still love her and she brings over homemade candy to the family so what can I say? heehee I’ll show her your pattern after I start one and maybe I can hook her on something other than garter!

  44. Oh that non-knitter person. It is 2.5 of my three daughters. I’m being patient.

  45. WOAH! In for a bit of a shock. ^_^ I’m normally really bad at scarves, because now that I can rise above garter stitch, I get bored very easily.
    However, I was going through my meager stash and I found some uuugly bright red sport weight acrylic that I bought last year, and almost immediately regretted. (Oh, you silly internets. I was young, I was 18.)
    Anyway, as I continue, instead of throwing it out, I decided to knit it up. A scarf was simply the best idea! And what pattern am I using? The feather and fan one. Just thought that was cool.


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