Saturday, November 18, 2006

Plan Ahead MD Squares

Take a good look at this photo, I need to explain a couple of things.
It's a progress photo of the Plan Ahead MD Squares.

To get a photo so it's not all bunched up and can be seen, I had to remove the needle. Across the top you can see a light pink holding thread. At the bottom of the pic you can see some of my needle with a bunch of stitches on it. Notice how nice and smooth the bottom of this strip is compared to the AAYG strip in the previous post. Yeah, that's my kind of edging!! Unfortunately to get this kind of edge you'll need to do a little planning ahead and a some math. It's just a tiny bit of math I promise.

The first thing you need to decide is how big do you want your square. The Simple Single Square pattern is for a square 10 sts x 10 sts we'll use a square that size for now just to be consistent. So let's say you want to make a strip 9 squares long with 10 x 10 squares. You'll need to begin by casting on 109 sts.

Hmmm how did I get that number.....

9 squares 10 sts wide, (90) + 10 sts for the edge of the first square + one center stitch for each square (9) = 109 sts.

Or if math doesn't scare you, use the formula below.

a = number of squares

b = number of stitches wide

(a x b) + a + b = number of cast on stitches.

Now let begin our PAMDS.

Cast on 109 sts.

(note: I suggest using a knitted on cast as I did for the squares in the photo (or perhaps a long tail cast) this cast on edge will be one short side and the bottom edge of your strip. The bind off will be the other short edge and the top of your squares. Using a knitted cast or the long tail makes the top and bottom look alike.)

Knit back 98 sts, leaving 11 sts unworked.

These ll sts are your center stitch and side edge of your first square.

Begin your square using the SSS pattern Rows 1 -18 with 2 small exceptions.

Omit the "knit 11" of row 1 so it only reads " Row 1: YO,K1, YO,K2tog, turn."

and add a knit 1 to end of Row 18 so it reads " Row 18: Sl 1, Knit 19, K2tog, K2, turn.

From this point on work the SSS pattern Rows 1-18 with the changes in Rows 1 & 18, until you have worked all 9 squares.

EXTRA NOTE: If you are working a two color square, you might also want to consider employing the "Neatness Tip" from the previous post so you won't have the 1/4 inch long floats of the CC on the wrong side.

At the end of the ninth square there will only be one stitch left to knit, knit it, turn. Sl 1, and bind off all stitches.

Your strip is done!!!

Obviously the greatest advantages to using this method for making a strip of squares are once again, the only ends you have are the begin and ending ends and you didn't have to pick up any stitches! Another clear advantage is the nice smooth edge it has.

The disadvantages of this method are that you have to plan ahead, do a little math, and, I don't know about you guys, but I'm not thrilled with casting on a bazillion stitches and having them on my needle waiting to be used.

Using this PAMDS method for a strip of 9 20 x 20 squares (like the ones in the photos above) would be a nice sized scarf (about 60" x 6.75") but to start the dang thing you'd have to cast on 220 not my cup of personally I think this is an disadvantage, maybe it's not a problem for you. Being the neurotic and compulsive person I am, I have figured out the ultimate solution that will satisfy my obsession for a neat edge, my desire to just pick-up and start without much forethought, and without the tedium of casting on a bazillion stitches, plus it inherently sets a world of options at the knitter's feet.

Can you guess what the "ultimate" solution is???

Come on you sock knitters.....think about it....

Coming up next...The Joys of the ProvO

Did I just see a flash of brilliant light or do I have another migraine looming? LOL

Add As You Go MD Square

OK boys and girls, the next step from working a single square is to be able to make them in a strip. There are a several ways to do this but I'll only include the 2 methods I think are the easiest and the most versatile. "Add As You Go" and "Plan Ahead MD Strips " each of these have their own variations, benefits and pitfalls. I'll try to keep this as simple as possible.

Let's begin with the "Add As You Go MD Squares" in this post and I'll make a second posting for the "Plan Ahead MD Strips" method so it will be easier to find in the archives.

So you've finished your first square....

(To get this striped effect work the simple square by changing colors on every odd row. Cast on with MC work rows 1&2 change to CC work rows 3&4, change to MC work rows 5&6...etc do NOT cut yarn at changes.)

Now you are ready to set the stage for square number 2.
With MC using a knitted on cast make 11 new stitches.

Work square number 2 using Rows 1 - 18 of the Simple Single Square pattern.

At the end of Row 18, using a knitted cast on, cast on 11 more stitches and work another square!

Continue doing this for as many squares as your heart desires. End with Row 18, Knit 1, turn, Sl 1, bind off all stitches.

Neatness Tip:
For the sake of being tidy, and not having a quarter inch floating thread of the CC, on the wrong side of the work, after you have knit the first 11 stitches of row 1, wrap the CC around the next stitch before you work the YO, K1,YO of the row. Don't work the stitch with the CC yarn, just wrap it. You can wrap around any way you wish, the photos below are taken from the wrong side, but you can wrap from the front it doesn't matter. This photo taken from the wrong side, shows the CC yarn back and the needles are poised to slip the stitch that is on the left needle. The stitch has been slipped the CC yarn brought forward and the slipped stitch has been returned to the left needle.

Here is a photo of the "Add As You Go" strip.

The advantages to the AAYG method are that you can just pick up your sticks and yarn and start making a strip of squares. You needn't be concerned if you have enough yarn for 8 squares or 9 squares, work as many as you can and call it done when you run out! :-) Absolutely no math involved at all unless you consider counting your cast ons math! :-) And of course, the greatest advantage of all.....only 4 matter how many squares long you make your strip!!!

The disadvantage of this method is that the bottom edge isn't as smooth and neat as I like. I have a solution for this but that will come with it's own post. Another pitfall of this method is that it might be difficult to maintain an even tension in your cast on edge and your bind off edge. These tension anomalies make the squaring up of the squares imperfect....that bugs me.

**Disclaimer, yes for those eagle eyes out there. The squares in the photos ARE larger than a square worked with the stitch count called for the Simple Single Square pattern. In the SSS pattern the square is worked 10 stitches wide, and 10 stitches tall with a center stitch. The squares in the pics are 20sts x 20 sts with a center stitch. (41 stitches for the initial cast on and 21 stitches cast on to set the stage for each AAYG square. Using a 20 x 20 square in worsted wt. with # 7 needle I get a 6.25" square...nice width for a scarf don't you think?