Tips and Tricks: Rodekool is Dutch for Lace Brioche

Back in February, I cast on for my very own Rodekool de Kool.  Designer Nancy Marchant published Rodekool in the Deep Fall 2010 issue of Knitty — it’s still available (for free!) there.  Keeping in mind that I’ve never done much (any?) brioche before tackling this “extraspicy” pattern, and also keeping in mind that this pattern involves not only brioche but also lace … it totally kicked my butt at first.

Getting through the set up rows and first few repeats of the lacy brioche pattern very nearly did me in. It took every last ounce of available mental prowess, kntterly skill, and concentration.  Thankfully, once I’d accomplished those first few rows … things began to settle in.  Here’s the RS and WS  just after the keyhole:


So pretty, right?  For once I used the called-for yarn, and (by accident) selected the same colorway as the sample, so if my version looks a bit like the photographs in the pattern, that’s why.


I’ve trucked right along on this project, but I find I can’t work on it at knitting group (chatting!) — at least not successfully.  But, working on it at knitting group did help me learn how to tink lace brioche!  Ugh.  I have also learned how to fix (small) mistakes, and also pick up the stitches after ripping out several rows.

I’m nearly done with my Rodekool de Kool, and I wanted to share how I’ve been doing it.  I’m not saying it’s totally right (though I believe it is) — naturally this is my interpretation of the pattern, and not endorsed by the designer or knitty, and so on. Usual caveats apply!  In editing I already noticed that I keep calling the big decrease a “quintuple” decrease when I should have say “quadruple.”  Oops. But, I also feel like I figured out a bit of a shortcut with the wrong-side rows — of course for all I know, brioche knitters already know my little trick, but just in case, I thought I’d share.

With all that, I’m sure you are dying to see what I’ve come up with.  I split the video into three parts.  First up: Row 1 (RS, MC)

Still with me? Here’s Row 1 (RS, CC):

The part that’s “mine” is next.  Row 2 is just straight-up brioche — no lace — and fairly early on I decided it must be possible to work the stitches in a single pass, rather than doing first the MC, then the CC.  Here’s my take on Row 2 (WS, MC & CC together):

I hope this was enjoyable and even useful! This is a great pattern with a lot to offer.

Tips and Tricks: How to CURVE8

In the not-to-distant future, I’ll be releasing a new pattern via Knit Picks IDP.  The Mhara Baby Blanket features a cool wave embellishment that is worked as you go.  Here is a little “sneak peek” of the pattern, in the form of a video tutorial for how to work the CURVE8 embellishment stitch.


Tips and Tricks: Knitted Rose Pin

Recently, I finished a pretty pink scarf (see my FO Friday post on the Pinky Pink Rose Ruffled Scarf).  The pattern included directions for a very pretty knitted rose, along with directions to “Sew rose onto a round piece of felt using whipstitch and attach pin back or small stitch holder.”  There was a clear photo of the finished look of the back of the pin, but having never done this before … I was a tad intimidated.  I sought council with my friend Susie, who has made many (many!) beautiful jewelry pieces using beads, precious metal clay, et al.  She gave me some great advice, and I set out to Jo-Anns to see if I could find what I needed.

IMG_2951(rev 1)

Success!  At first I thought of using one of the stitch holders I found in the knitting section, but they were all too long for my rose.  In the jewelry-making area I found the perfect size of pin, and it even had loops (for charms) that I could use to secure it to the rose in a non-slip manner. I also bought some neutral-colored felt, and dug up some heavy-duty interfacing to help support the weight of the rose, and cut both into circles (felt slightly larger than interfacing).  Quilting thread and a sturdy needle round out my list of materials and tools.

First, I marked pencil lines on the interfacing where I wanted holes to admit the pin:

IMG_2952(rev 1)

Then, I cut the holes and threaded the pin through:

IMG_2957(rev 1)

I secured the pin to the rose with many messy loops of thread:

IMG_2958(rev 1)

Then, I hid the mess under the interfacing — poof!

IMG_2960(rev 1)

I tacked down the interfacing to further stabilize everything:

IMG_2963(rev 1)

Next, I cut holes in the felt, and threaded it onto the pin:

IMG_2965(rev 1)

I whip-stitched around the edge of the felt to hold it in place:

IMG_2966(rev 1)

Voila! A pretty rose pin!

IMG_2969(rev 1)

DIY: Magnetic Portuguese Knitting Pins


Have you ever heard of Portuguese-style knitting?  I first heard about it a few years ago, as a “better way to purl.”  At the time, I was facing loooong stretches of purling on a big, slouchy cardigan and they were killing me.  Although I learned to knit “English” as a kid (started out throwing, moved on to my own version of flicking), I had taught myself to knit “Continental” — I’m more of a picker/scooper — no high index-finger flicking for me.  I’m extremely efficient at knitting Continental, but my purling is still coming up to speed today.  When I was working on the Giant Cardigan of Doom, I could barely do a purl or two without struggling, let alone a whole.

Enter Portuguese purling: I learned to tension the yarn around my neck, holding it steady with my right hand, and flicking the yarn around the working needle with my left thumb. It was quick, with small movements — everything I loved about knitting Continental.  If you’ve never seen it before, check out this video from Knitting Daily, all about Portuguese-style knitting.


Now, I knew there were these pins you could use to tension the yarn, instead of throwing it around one’s neck.  But, I wasn’t keen on putting holes in the left front of all my shirts, so I mostly ignored them.  Then I saw an add for a magnetic Portuguese knitting pin.  Eureka, I thought, that’s something I could make for myself! So I did.  Here’s my first go at a button+ magnet+wire = Portuguese knitting pin:

IMG_2995(rev 1)  IMG_2997(rev 1)



  • button or pendant, large enough to cover the magnet
  • big strong magnets, as flat as possible
  • glue of the right sort (pay attention to the materials in your buttons and magnets)
  • bits of wire (I found make-your-own chain mail toggles to be perfect size, plus they already have a loop!)
  • tools to bend wire

IMG_2977(rev 1)



Step #1 — Glue magnet to button

Take care not to glue yourself to either!

IMG_2980(rev 1)



Step #2: Benderize the wire

What you are going for: leave a straight part about 1-2 cm long, and curl the rest into a spiral.

IMG_2982(rev 1)   IMG_2986(rev 1)



Step #3 — Glue wire to button, thusly.

Make sure the spiral is open so that yarn can slip in easily.

IMG_2987(rev 1)   IMG_2991(rev 1)


Step #4 — Let everything set for a day or two.

Seriously, don’t try to use it right away.

Tips and Tricks: Crochet Cast-On

One of my favorite cast-on techniques for small items where the edge will be seen is a crochet cast-on. It creates a flexible, sturdy edge that looks exactly like a traditional bind-off. After watching some friends, I realized that I do it a little differently than other people.

2714 cast-on edge

Above: crochet cast-on edge

Below: traditional bind-off edge

2715 bind-off edge

See how similar they are?

You can watch the video …

… or read through the photo tutorial.

Step #1: Make a slip knot and put it on your crochet hook (the hook should be about the same size as your needle).

2716 slip knot on crochet hook

2718 tighten slip knot

Step #2: Hold the knitting needle below and parallel to the crochet hook, making sure to have the working yarn behind the needle.

2721 position knitting needle

Step #3: Wrap the working yarn around both the needle and the crochet hook (under and in front, over and behind)

2722 wrap yarn

Step #4: Pinch the yarn and knitting needle with your left hand; use your right hand to pull a loop through with the crochet hook.

2725 pull loop through

Result: one st on needle, one loop on crochet hook, one loop of edge created

2726 one stitch on needle

Continue: Wrap yarn around both needle and hook, then pull a loop through

2727 wrap yarn for 2nd st

2728 pull loop through

Result: two stitches on needle, one loop on hook, two loops of edge created

2729 two sts on needle

Continue in this manner until you are one stitch short of the total needed  (N-1) on your needle.  Slip the loop on the crochet hook to the needle — this is the final stitch.

Kudzu by the Numbers

My latest pattern, Kudzu, has gotten a lot of positive attention on Ravelry!  Today, it hit 1000 favorites, making it by far my most popular pattern today. There are already 26 projects, including many from two separate knit-a-longs (more on that Wednesday).

In honor of hitting that milestone, I give you (as requested) a row-by-row stitch count for both the full and midi length of the shawlette.

Please note: these stitch counts are for AFTER the row(s) are complete.

Section Row(s) Sts (Full) Sts (Midi)
Cast On 0 253 178
Rib 1 – 4 253 178
Open Twist Rib 1 – 2 303 213
Open Twist Rib 3 – 4 253 178
Leaves 1 – 2 303 213
Leaves 3 – 4 403 283
Leaves 5 – 6 503 353
Leaves 7 – 8 603 423
Leaves 9 – 10 605 425
Leaves 11 – 12 607 427
Leaves 13 – 14 609 429
Leaves 15 – 16 611 431
Leaves 17 – 18 609 429
Leaves 19 – 20 607 427
Leaves 21 – 22 605 425
Leaves 23 – 24 603 423
Leaves 25 – 26 601 421
Lattice 1 – 2 599 419
Lattice 3 – 4 597 417
Lattice 5 – 6 595 415
Lattice 7 – 8 593 413
Lattice 9 – 13 591 411


Tips and Tricks: pult stitch in “Knit Your Own Dog”

This post was inspired by a reader who posted on my FO Friday entry about my Toy Gromit, made from the Border Collie pattern in Knit Your Own Dog by Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir.

Emily says …

I have the same book and am working on the Scottie dog. I cannot for the life of me figure out the “pult” stitch. Could you help me? I’m pretty sure all the dogs had this stitch in them.

I feel her pain!  All (?) of the dog patterns in this book use this stitch at the end of short-row shaping in the head sections. It helps close the holes created by short rows, so the stuffing doesn’t show through.  I’ve done a lot of short rows in my time, mostly in sock heels and toes, but this pult stitch was new to me. At first I wasn’t sure how to do it, but I muddled through and got reasonable results.  I’m not promising that I’m doing it right of course–only that this is what worked for me.

Here is the description of the stitch from the book:

pult pick up loop below next st on left needle by inserting tip of right needle from back of work through loop–this stops a hole forming when turning work–then turn, leaving rem (number stated) sts on left needle unworked

There are a few key bits:

  1. First is identifying the loop to be picked up. In Cat Bordhi terms (from her video on lifted increases), we are focusing on the “mother” of the first stitch on the left needle.
  2. Second is making sure to pick up it correctly: poke the right needle into that mother stitch from back to front, and leave it on the right needle.
  3. Third is turning the work without losing any stitches. This is trickier than it sounds. Trust me.
  4. Fourth is making sure to follow the directions for the next row correctly–every time the pult is used, the first thing on the next row is a k2tog or a p2tog, which joins the picked-up loop with the first st of the row.  This ensures that the stitch count stays constant–no stitches are created or destroyed in the use of this short-row technique.

So, without further delay, here is my video of my interpretation of this technique:

One thing I would like to try is using some other short-row technique, and see if I like the results. I usually just “wrap and turn” and then work the wraps together with the wrapped stitch.  Maybe when I make my next toy dog!