02 June 2007

Even Stockinette Stitch And Packing Up

I'm resting up after packing four boxes and one (!) under-bed storage bin full of yarn to go to Lancaster. You may remember I had two boxes, three bins, and a bunch of yarn still in the closet a couple of days ago. I thinned down what I'd already packed up and then added the last bits I couldn't live without, which was another box. Even though I have four boxes, they're a lot less densely packed than the first two were. And I can get the lid on the bin without it bowing upward.

I've got two or three 1 cu ft boxes of books, mostly sf and actual science. I might have not quite one box of knitting books, but I sent another box back earlier with my friend Pat. I'm leaving over half the books I brought down here, but I did buy a few new ones that I can't bear to leave behind.

I have food and clothing and a few personal things, like prescription medications, to pack, too, but that's a lot easier. We have a lot of duplicates at each house, so that we don't have to take everything both ways, just a few things. The clothes just go out last, on hangers, and get laid on top of the boxes in back. Food, mostly perishables, goes into ice chests or grocery bags.

So right now I'm trying something different with my Faina's Scarf. I've got the tip and half a body repeat knitted on US 4/3.5 mm needles, but I think that's a little tight for the Micro Spun (which, if you want my opinion, should be named Annoying Micro Split, but it is soft). So I'm starting another scarf, using US 5/4.0 mm needles. I think that's going to work better, but I won't know for sure until I finish the tip and start on the straight body section. It's there that I'm unhappy with the tighter-knit version because it cups. If I were using wool, I might be able to convince myself it would block out, but not with a synthetic.

So, you ask, what does this have to do with even stockinette stitch? I'm like a lot of knitters, I have a little trouble getting the purl rows and the knit rows to be the same size when I knit stockinette flat. This is more usual with yarns that aren't very stretchy, of course; stockinette in merino looks pretty good without much effort. I tried using a smaller needle for the purl rows, but then they're too tight (I probably need a needle about half a size smaller), so I mostly avoided large stretches of flat stockinette early in my knitting career.

A long time ago I had an epiphany. I was watching a friend knit on the tips of her needles, with the yarn wrapped tightly enough around her fingers to almost cut off the circulation. She produces the tightest knitting I've ever seen. She usually goes up about three or four needle sizes to get gauge.

The epiphany was that she wasn't knitting on the needles, she was knitting on the tips, and this is why her knitting was so tight. Well, that and that her stitches were so close together there wasn't any slack. My purling is too loose knitted on the needles so why not try knitting them on the tips, with the stitches close together? So I did. And it worked.

I was taught to slide my new stitch down past the tip onto the barrel of the needle and I usually do so. I still do so for the knit rows of stockinette. When I'm doing stockinette with non-stretchy yarn, though, I form the purl stitches at about 2/3rds or 3/4ths of the tapered tip and I don't slide each stitch onto the barrel of the needle, but just leave it there and knit the next one right beside it. Knitting this way makes my stockinette stitch very even because my purl rows aren't looser than my knit rows.

If any of you are plagued, as I was, by uneven stockinette, I hope this technique will help. It may take some practice at first, but give it a try and let me know.


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