The Natty Knits Whale pattern is now finished and available to buy from Etsy, Ravelry and will soon be on Knit Picks too. The Whale is good knit for an intermediate knitter and has lots of fun and interesting techniques like Kitchener Stitch, Provisional Cast On, 3 Needle Bind Off and of course Short Row Shaping.
Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your pattern.
A Note on Gauge
When I knit toys I always use needles that are one or two sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right, but you can check it by knitting a garter stitch swatch and holding it up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.
The Whale pictured above is knitted in Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Twilight, I also thinks this pattern works well with Patons Canadiana. My first whales were knitted in gray, but I think the blue looks better.
Provisional Cast On
Just as there are many ways to cast on, there are many ways to provisionally cast on. You can find some provisional cast on methods here on the excellent knittinghelp.com. I use a long tail provisional cast on, this is how it’s done. Hold the provisional and working yarn ends in the right hand against the needle. Loop the provisional yarn around your thumb and working yarn around your finger, as shown below where the black yarn is provisional. Then cast on as you would for an ordinary long tail cast on.
When you unpick the provisional cast on, turn the tail upside down, pick up the stitches starting from the cast on tail and go right. Pick up each st from front to back, unpicking the provisional yarn as you go. When you start to knit, your first stitch will actually be the last stitch you picked up.
More About Short Row Shaping
This pattern uses two rows of short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here. In that last tail bind off row, I would suggest picking the loop up onto the needle to make it easier to purl it together with the stitch above it and the corresponding stitch on the other needle.
3 Needle Bind Off
The 3 Needle Bind Off is a great way of making a secure and neat seam, it works very well as a seaming method for the shoulders for sweaters, although it does create a ridge on the side of the fabric facing you. Unusually, the ridge is on the outside of the Whale’s tail at the end of the fin.
Take the two needles with stitches on them and hold them next to one another in your left hand, knit together two stitches, one from each needle and then when you have two stitches on the right hand needle cast off as you would normally by leapfrogging the first stitch over the second.
Here‘s a really clear video tutorial from knittinghelp.com, scroll down to the bottom for the video of the 3 needle bind off.
Kitchener stitch is most often used to sew the toes of top down socks. It’s an invisible sewing technique which creates a fake row of stitches between the two pieces being sewn together. I’ve written a tutorial about Kitchener Stitch, you’ll find it here.
There is only one sewn seam in this pattern, but it is a tricky one. You will need to use mattress stitch for the top lip and fake grafting for the bottom lip. There are 15 sideways top lip stitches and 16 bound off bottom lip stitches and to be sewn together. I’ve sewn one row per stitch, that means one “ladder rung” per stitch, except for the middle Kitchener stitch row which I sewed through both ladder rungs.
If you have any questions or comments which are not covered either in the pattern or here, please contact me through the NattyKnits Etsy shop and I’ll do my best to help you.