Monday, September 21, 2015

Binding Off Knitted Projects with a Crochet Hook, Part 4: Miraculous Elastic or Lacey Bind Off

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This series was developed for crocheters who knit,
and for knitters who have never bound off with a hook.
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Welcome back to our series on using a crochet hook to bind off knitted projects. Here's what we've covered so far:

Part 1 - Basic terminology (crochet yarn over vs. crochet yarn under), recommended hook types and sizes, and Basic Crochet Bind Off.
Part 2 - Suspended Bind Off.
Part 3 - Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, or JSSBO.

In this post, we'll learn another stretchy bind off: the Lacey Bind Off, also known as the Miraculous Elastic Bind Off. Some call it the "decrease bind off" - but I've seen this name applied to more than one bind off, so I'm going to stick with "Lacey".

The Lacey Bind Off is one of several bind offs that involve knitting stitches together through the back loop. After practicing some of the others, I chose to feature this one because it seemed the simplest to work with a hook, and because it worked best for me. (But knitting and crochet are highly personal crafts - what works for one doesn't always work for another. If you'd like to try some of the other TBL or Through the Back Loop bind offs, do an internet search for "decrease bind off" or "k2togbl bind off". You'll find plenty of links!)

Miraculous Elastic or Lacey Bind Off

The Lacey Bind Off, like JSSBO, is super simple to work and gives amazing results. All you do is let two loops stack up on your hook, then yarn under and pull through both.

Why it works: I can't explain why this one works. But it does. :)

Here are some advantages of the Lacey Bind Off:
  • Very stretchy
  • Incredibly easy to work with a hook
  • Uses only crochet yarn unders, whether knitting or purling
  • Works well on ribbing
  • Recommended for lace projects that need a flexible bind off for blocking
  • Unobtrusive - the bind off sits close to the work
This bind off is already so straightforward and simple that the steps can't be minimised. Give it a try!

Miraculous Elastic or Lacey Bind Off Video Tutorial

Shows how to knit, purl, and frog the bind off, working with a crochet hook.

Miraculous Elastic or Lacey Bind Off Photo Tutorial

Note: This bind off uses only crochet yarn UNDERs. See Part 1 of the series for an explanation of the difference between crochet yarn overs and crochet yarn unders.

To set up the Lacey Bind Off on knit stitches:
With crochet hook, knit the first 2 stitches (2 loops now on hook);
yarn under, pull working yarn through both loops on hook.

To continue the Lacey Bind Off on knit stitches:
If your next stitch is a knit stitch, knit it (2 loops now on hook);
yarn under, pull through both loops on hook.

To purl the Lacey Bind off:
If your next stitch is a purl, purl it (2 loops now on hook);
yarn under, pull through both loops on hook.

That's it! Crazy simple, isn't it?

Tip: if your bind off is not as stretchy as you'd like, try inserting the knitting needle through the front of the 2 loops on your hook before yarning over and pulling through both loops. This will relax your stitching tension and create a looser bind off.


In our next post, I hope to feature a garter-stitch bind off invented by a blogging friend (but first I'll need to get her permission).

Until then, happy knitting and crocheting, AND binding off!

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Many thanks to these two websites for information on the Lacey Bind Off:
Slip Slip Knit
Stitch Diva Studios

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Almost Autumn

The last few weeks have been a mini-rollercoaster of weather - from extremes of hot humidity to a week of chilly socks-and-sweater days and where-are-the-extra-blankets nights. Now it's warmed up again - Summer's last gift before Autumn officially kicks off next week.

Life has been extra-full, with magazine projects (and an article!) due, extra hours spent covering for a co-worker on leave, and a brief but extremely painful dental interlude which put everything else on hold for a few days. All this has left very little time for cycling, but last Sunday I was finally able to get back on the bike.


It's been two weeks since I've ridden, and I can't wait to see what's blooming as Summer winds down into Fall. The brief week of cold weather has discouraged the goldenrod and finished off many of the other late-summer flowers, but I'm counting on plenty of aster.

And here are the first, thronging the roadsides in palest lavender:

A favourite silo:

A tiny, brilliant knapweed blossom shines from a recently-mown verge:

Lichened bridge railing over a brown stream flowing between almost-autumn-tinted banks:

Frilly white patches of Queen Anne's Lace...

...mixed with one of the many varieties of wild sunflower (another member of the Aster family):

Across the road, some deeper lavender aster (these are Azure Aster or Prairie Heart-Leaved Aster, Aster oolentangiensis Riddell):

And at the end of this road, the loveliest aster of them all (in my opinion) - Smooth Aster (Aster laevis var. laevis), like tiny bits of sky fallen into the ditch:

A few miles more, and we reach a favourite marshy corner. Next month, these black waters will reflect the fire of maples turned red and gold by frost, but today, the reflections are still mostly green:

At the edge of the water blooms an Evening Primrose:

Around the bend, the cornfields are turning from green to gold under the deep blue sky:

More asters grow here - a very large, deep-pink variety (I think these are New-England Aster, or Aster novae-angliae):

At our feet, Tallulah notices a humbler plant - it's Burdock, bearing prickly blossoms:

Back on the bike, it's time for a shadow shot:

We pass a favourite shed, and snap a photo to remember it by (in case it falls down over the winter - it's slumping a little more each year):

A few miles on, I see several pairs of turkey buzzards flying over the fields and woods to my right. I turn down a side road for a closer look, and soon they begin to circle overhead, back and forth and around, getting a little lower each time. They're huge, dark, and a bit sinister. (In fact they remind me of the flying Nazgul in Lord of the Rings.)

One by one, they begin to land in a tree about 25 yards away. They're facing me, and obviously watching to see if I'll move. There are nine in all (just like the Nazgul - this is getting creepy).

It's rather unnerving to be watched by these huge carrion birds. They make me think of desert treks across endless sands, of men fainting for lack of water, collapsing under the pitiless burning sun as the circling buzzards descend to peck and tear at their....

High time I moved on to more cheerful places and thoughts! By now there are five birds in the tree - all staring straight at me - and the other four are preparing to land. I resist the urge to look over my shoulder as I pedal away.

Miles on, I spy yellow blossoms growing in a marsh. It's too late for kingcups - what can these flowers be?

They're obviously a member of the vast Aster family, but growing straight out of the water. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before. Research identifies them as Nodding Beggar-Ticks, or Nodding Bur-Marigold (Bidens cernua). Another one for the wildflower list! :)

Only a few miles to go now. I stop for one last aster photo - a very tiny variety, similar to Daisy Fleabane.

(But are they asters after all? I just found a link which suggests they may be False Aster or White Doll's-Daisy, Boltonia asteroides.)

So many flowers, so little time. The wildflower list continues to grow - as of today the total is 135. It's bound to slow down soon; we usually get our first frost before the end of September. But for now the sun is shining and I'm looking forward to the weekend and the chance to ride again.

I hope the sun is shining for you too, wherever you are.


P.S. The next installment of Binding Off Knitted Projects with a Crochet Hook will be up in a few days. :)

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Binding Off with a Crochet Hook, Part 3: JSSBO

~ ~ ~
This series was developed for crocheters who knit,
and for knitters who have never bound off with a hook.
~ ~ ~

Welcome back to our series on using a crochet hook to bind off knitted projects. In Part 1, we discussed some basic terminology (crochet yarn over vs. crochet yarn under), recommended hook types and sizes, and introduced the Basic Crochet Bind Off. In Part 2, we advanced to the Suspended Bind Off.

This week we're going to take a quantum leap into the Land of Super Stretch, and learn what is possibly the stretchiest (and easiest) non-sewn bind off around: Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, or JSSBO.

Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (JSSBO)

JSSBO is one of the modern wonders of the knitting world. Invented by Jeny Staiman, it's simple, elegant, easy to work, amazingy stretchy, and so popular that it's now part of the standard knitting lexicon.

What makes JSSBO so stretchy? Adding a yarnover to each bound-off stitch. What could be simpler?

Why it works: The extra yarnover on each stitch acts like a little coiled spring that stretches when you need it to, then snaps back to its original size.

Here are some of the features of JSSBO:
  • Very stretchy
  • Easy to work with a hook
  • Can be knitted and purled
  • Works well on ribbing
  • Great for project edges that will be repeatedly stretched, such as hat brims and sock cuffs
Working JSSBO with a hook is even easier than working it with needles, because the hook allows you to draw through several loops at once, thus eliminating a step or two.

JSSBO Video Tutorial

Shows how to knit and purl JSSBO using a crochet hook; how to minimise the steps involved; and instructions for frogging.

Note: In the video I call this Jeny's SUPER Stretchy Bind Off - a slight but understandable error. The correct name is Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. Either way it's a great invention. :)

JSSBO Photo Tutorial

Remember, all yarn overs / yarn unders are made crochetwise. See Part 1 for an explanation of the difference between the two.

To set up JSSBO on knit stitches:
With your hook, yarn over, bring hook to front of work, then knit the first stitch on needle (insert hook knitwise, yarn under, draw loop through, slip stitch off needle) - 2 loops now on hook;
Draw the last (most recent) loop through the first.

Setting Up JSSBO on Knit Stitches

On following stitches:
*Yarn over, knit the next stitch (3 loops now on hook);
Using hook tip, draw the last (most recent) loop through the other two.
Repeat from *.

JSSBO on Knit Stitches

To work JSSBO on purl stitches:
Assuming you already have a loop on your hook, bring working yarn to front.
*Yarn under, then purl the next stitch (insert hook purlwise, yarn under, push hook back and up through loop, carrying yarn with it, slip stitch off needle) 3 loops now on hook;
Using hook tip, draw the last (most recent) loop through the other two.
Repeat from *.

To minimise these steps for knit or purl:
1. Yarn over or under as directed.
2. Knit or purl the next stitch, but before slipping it off the needle, pull the last loop (the knit or purl you just made) through the other two.
3. Now slip the stitch off the needle.
(I'm not sure if this is an actual time saver. Try it and see how you like it. You may find that this method changes your stitch tension.)


Next week, in Part 4, we'll learn the Lacey Bind Off (also known as Elastic Bind Off or K2tbl Bind Off).

Until then, happy knitting and crocheting AND binding off!

If you have any questions about this technique, please feel free to ask using the comment box below.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mostly Flowers...

...with some random happenings thrown in.


Not everything in my life has been pretty this week. There have been dental issues.

It seems to me that despite the advent of anaesthetics (for which I am deeply grateful), dentistry is still rather barbaric. All that grinding and scraping and wrenching, all the large and/or sharp pieces of metal involved. There's a reason novelists write so penetratingly and amusingly about dentists and dental visits: they're working out their pain on paper.

(These three works come immediately to mind, but I'm sure there are many more: "In the Teeth of the Evidence", a short story by Dorothy L. Sayers, "Village Centenary" by Miss Read [see the chapter entitled "May"], and "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" by Agatha Christie.)


There seems to be a sort of Murphy's law that when I am busiest and most in need of extra time, it is vouchsafed to me with the unwelcome rider of either a) illness; b) a killer headache (or toothache); c) some other enervating or distracting problem that renders the extra time useless and unproductive. Why, Lord, why?


Let's talk about flowers!

For those of you who have asked about my references to a wildflower count: I decided early this year to keep a list of every wildflower I see, and to try to take photos of any that were new to me. I hoped to see perhaps 50 varieties, but the list now stands at 125....

Here are some spotted (and Spotted) on a recent ride:

Spotted Jewelwed

Hearts-ease or Spotted Lady's Thumb (Persicaria maculosa)

And just to show you that I do still occasionally watch the sky....

Okay, back to the flowers!

Spiderwort gone to seed


Not included in my wildflower count, but still beautiful, are these flowers from my Very Small Garden:


Sweet Alyssum

Irish Poet Tassel Flower

Irish Poet Tassel Flower, seen from above


On my most recent ride, I see this rather gorgeous creature (who is presumably responsible for the holes in the leaf):

Research identifies it as a Japanese Beetle, a non-native, highly destructive critter. Wouldn't it make a beautiful bead?

The Goldenrod still flourishes, and will carry on until the first frost:


A sunlit path between pines:

Boneset (Eupatoriam perfoliatum) is also flourishing right now, in large patches under and at the edge of the woods along this road:

Just up the road, a new-to-me aster:

I think it may be Arrow-Leaved Aster, White Arrow-leaf Aster, or possibly Drummond's Aster. (The Aster family is so large and many-branched - ha! wildflower pun - that it can be difficult to pin down an ID for some of its members.)

Whatever its name, this Aster is beautiful:

At the turnaround point of the ride, Tallulah and I decide to obey the sign and...

We're on a dead-end road, at the shore of the local lake. A little path runs behind the barrier, and we spend a few minutes exploring.

Miss T finds some Spotted Jewelweed:

I find a mini art installation on a wooden post:

Miss T admires the glittering sunpath on the water...

...while I notice all manner of wee shells in the sand, many of them smaller than my little fingernail:

It seems strange to see so many shells at the edge of a freshwater lake. I wonder what tiny creatures inhabited them....

On our way home, we stop for a photo of these Woodland Sunflowers (more members of the prolific Aster family), shining like stars against a dark background of trees:

We pass a patch of Horsemint, a rather alien-looking flower that is new to me this summer (many thanks to Betty, a kind reader, for identifying it in a previous post):

While taking the above photo, I realise that I've seen those three sets of prickly bits (must work on botanical terminology!) somewhere before. Last winter, in fact, at the side of a walking trail:

It's always satisfying when I can match up a dried winter flower to its full-colour summer version. :)


How's your week going?

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