Sunday, December 31, 2006

Get to the Point: How to Sharpen Wooden and Bamboo Needles

I like my knitting needles very sharp, and the factory default for most wooden and bamboo doesn't suit me very well.

DH has taken sandpaper to my needles that could be sharpened. He starts with 100 grit to break the shoulder a little, then uses 400 grit to shape the point. You could, points out, just use 400 grit if that's all you have around.

He then rubs the wood with candlewax to fill in the gaps and make the surface very smooth.

Here is a picture of a pair of bamboo needles. The point on the right is the original; the point on the left is the result of DH's sandpaper antics. A big improvement for me. Some people won't want them that sharp, but you can adjust the tip to suit your personal knitting taste.

Edible Sock Yarn

A Little Eye Candy to Sweeten the New Year!

Well, ok, it's only virtually edible. From left to right we have Raspberry Mocha (yum), Spicy Licorice (yum), and Rose Petals (not so yum except visually). All three skeins are 100% merino superwash and dyed with flair by the talented Roxanne of Zen Yarn Garden. Delicious! Soft! Perfect!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Fleegle's Totally Stretchy and/or Provisional Cast-On

If you've been reading other posts, you've probably picked up on the fact that I am the world's laziest knitter. Being lazy and curious has it's advantages, in that I am constantly looking for new ways to save time, energy, and brain power.

I've been fascinated by the methods of provisional cast-ons that I've read about, as well as the intense discussions of the stretchiest cast-on. Most of the former revolve around crochet hooks, extra threads, unpicking same, carefully scroonching stitches onto needles, and so on. And the latter, well, suffice it to say that I know perfectly well how to do all the exotic methods, but why bother? Of course I have another option for you that encompasses both provisional and stretchy. And it couldn't be easier.

Take your knitting needle (any kind) and a circular needle with a nice cable. Make a slip knot and put them together thusly.

Wrap the yarn around both the needle and the cable for the number of stitches you need, plus some extra wraps.

I can't give you an exact number here, but for 20 stitches, I wrap an extra 5 times, for 100 I wrap an extra 20. The wraps get sort of messy at the end, so I just make some extra. As this cast-on takes less than a minute for 100 wraps, it really doesn't matter, because you will drop the excess at the end.

Turn the needle over so the thread is coming from right to left. Start knitting.

Keep knitting until you have the correct number of stitches.

Unwind the excess. Drop the slip knot if you want. Whatever.

Now, at this point, your provisional stitches are on the cable of the circular needle. I happen to like to use KnitPicks cables and screw on their needle cap thingies. But you can leave your stitches on the circular needle--make sure you do put some sort of cap on the end so the stitches don't fall off.

Turn the work around as usual and continue knitting away. Here is the second row half-done.

That's it. When you are ready to do whatever with your provisional stitches, you can: Turn the work upside down and knit the other end if you are starting from the center, attach your lace edging, or do some grafting.


Oh. Well. Turn the work upside down and do Elizabeth Zimmerman's Sewn Cast-Off on the stitches currently resting on the cable. Great for socks. Great for lace. If you use the sewn cast-off method to end your piece, well, both sides now match, don't they?

Elizabeth Zimmermann's Sewn Cast off from Knitting Without Tears.

Break yarn, leaving a tail about 4 times as long as the circumference of the edge. Thread a tapestry needle.

* sew forward (right to left) through two stitches as if to purl, leave the stitches on. Sew backward (left to right) through one stitch as if to knit and remove the stitch.

Repeat from * until you run out of stitches. Work in tail on the inside of the knitting and trim any excess.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Vertical Lifelines

I am SUCH a lazy knitter. I HATE picking up stitches and won't do it unless there is absolutely no other option. And of course there's another option! Need you even ask?

I guess I invented the concept of vertical lifelines, as I have never heard of them anywhere else. Basically, it's just a thread that runs up the side of the knitting along the edge. Every time you begin a row, just pick up the yarn under the lifeline so the working yarn wraps around it. And when you need those edge stitches, you can slide a needle through all the pick-ups in a few minutes.

You will probably have to pick up some extra stitches, as this method only threads through every other row. However, most of the work is already done and it's easy enough to evenly add the extra stitches where you need them.

For long, long edges such as shawls, I use a twisted silk embroidery thread or buttonhole thread wrapped around a cardboard bobbin. As I need more thread, I just unwrap it from the bobbin, which is pinned to the shawl or left floating, depending on my mood.

Here's the best I can do with a close-up of a vertical lifeline:

Dragone Tail

I am at Row 61 and thought you might want to see how beautifully the designer uses stitch textures to create the dragon. This picture shows the bottom of the tail, complete with the pointy tip. I am awestruck by her creativity. Click on the picture for a larger view.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dragone Notes

I don't want to turn this blog into a diary, but I am keeping some good notes on the Dragone shawl and thought I would tip them into this blog for anyone else who wants to give this design a try. It is far and away the most difficult piece I've ever attempted, incorporating unfamiliar techniques with a non-repeating pattern. On the other hand, it is also the most fascinating design I have ever worked on. Each row is a new adventure. Of course, there is that old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times...

So, for those intrepid souls who are clutching their needles in anticipation, here are my observations so far (row 51 and counting...)

First, for the horizontal stitch, don't bother flipping the second stitch. Take the LH needle around the back of the first stitch, through the gap between the first and second stitch, and knit through the front of the second stitch first, then the front of the HS second. Unless, of course, you like flipping stitches. I hate it. An extra maneuver I don't want to deal with.

Second, the number of horizontal stitches on the chart is deceiving. The first stitch, that is, the one you knitted through the front of at the very beginning, counts as one stitch. And the K2tog at the end of the run counts as one stitch. So if you see a run of 15 horizontal stitches on the chart, you are really only making 13 horizontal stitches. This little omission in the directions cost me hours of frogging.

Third, there are occasional purls through the back loops of yarnovers from the previous knit rows. Be very careful with these--they are surprisingly difficult.

I found the actual counting off to be the biggest problem, as there are no repeats--you have to knit the picture. And the picture is very large. When I knit ordinary lace, I memorize a repeat, but with this sucker, it's impossible. I tried a number of visualization techniques, a whole slew of counting techniques, and finally ended up doing something truly brute force.

Before I work a row, I count off blocks of thingies, for example, a run of horizontal stitches or a group of right/left crosses. I then put removable markers around the blocks. That way, I don't have to count while I am knitting--I just do whatever until I get to the next marker.

I am lifelining every row and have needed the lifeline on every row. I am not usually so clumsy, but until I get used to the odd techniques, dropping, slithering, and disappearing stitches are way, way too common not to have a lifeline to repair the damage.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but the yarn I am using is fabulous. It's from Running Wild Farm--the 2/16 Lamoramere Fine Lace Blend of 50% Cormo Lambwool, 40% Angora, and 10% Cashmere. It's heavier than some laceweights--maybe 2/3 of a fingering weight.

I decided not to use the original yarn, Fino, for several reasons. First, it's quite fine and I wanted something sturdier so I could embellish the dragon with beads and embroidery. Second, I had my heart set on Fireball Red, and didn't feel like dying my own yarn. Third, I thought the original shawl looked a bit frail, and I think dragons should have considerable substance.

Sorry there are no pictures to show--I hope to have something more visual at a later date. Right now, it looks like a really small, ratty headscarf. As usual.

Heere Be Dragones Shawl Progress

Well, I can't say I have exactly set my needles on fire, but I am up to row 33. Row 31 is the first one with the weird Horizontal Stitch and Row 32 is the first purl row with Right Twists. This shawl was designed by Sharon Winsauer (aka Mistress of Knitting Pain) and you can read more details about it here.

I thought it might be instructive for anyone approaching this design with the idea of actually knitting it, to see my setup. I don't think I have anything more to add at this point. But I surely will keep you posted on my progress, if any.

Close-up view of workspace:

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cable Reassignment Surgery--Making Your Boye NeedleMaster Tips Fit KnitPicks Cables

As you might know from previous posts, I adore Boye needles for lace, but loathe the cables. And, while I love KnickPicks tips for most other knitting, they are just too slippery for lace. But the cables, ah, they are masterpieces of flexibility. So, I thought, how difficult could it be to make Boye tips fit KnitPicks cables?

As it turns out, it's not too difficult. That hard part was figuring out who could do it. Jewelers refused--their tools are made for softer metals and they don't do much milling or screw thread tapping. Then I started to think about who fits odd things into other odd things. Hmm. DH bought a fancy laser gun sight a number of years ago and had it retrofitted to one of his handguns. Gunsmith. Bingo.

So I called one in a nearby town and paid a visit with my little sets of interchangeable knitting needles. He absolutely didn't even flinch at my requests. At least so I could see. He's probably laughing himself sick as I write this, but who cares? He got the job done.

Here's a KnitPicks cable attached to two sizes of Boye tips. Ha Ha!

Gunsmiths have little, tiny precision drill thingies and they spend a lot of time making part A fit Part B. It took him little more than an hour to retap all the Boye tips and fix the edges (the Boyes have a little indentation at the end). They fit perfectly. They knit lace perfectly. They are just PERFECT. Here's a closeup of the join.

You too can do this. Just call Neal Spruill at 770-503-7572. He will arrange for you to send him your tips. He is charging about $3.75 per tip. My advice is to not have the size 2 needles re-tapped. The walls are so thin that the the milling shows a bit on the outside. And the #2s are as slick as KnitPicks anyway. And probably you shouldn't bother with the sizes greater than #11--do you really knit lace on those?

[Note added later: I took him all my Boyes and had him amputate the awful cables and mill the tips for the KnitPicks cables. It is not necessary to own or purchase the NeedleMaster set to have your own BoyePicks. You can buy Boye circulars really, really cheaply on Ebay. And I should add that these needles are exceptionally lightweight. I was quite surprised at how they compared to the KnitPicks and Addis, weightwise.]

I had one other job for Neal, and he did a perfect job on this too. See this needle?

It's a KnitPicks #3. Not an Options needle, so there's no hole for a lifeline. I had him drill a hole in the needle. It's perfectly smooth. I am going to take him all my other fixed-cable needles and have the holes drilled. When you need a lifeline, the hole saves a LOT of time.

Notice, by the way, that the KnitPicks shiny nickel finish is turning black. The surface is pitting a bit, too. Not a good portent for longeivity.

Cotton Lycra sock experiments

I have hot feet, and rarely wear socks when I am in the United States. In Japan, though, shoes are never worn inside. Socks are a polite way of covering your feet and the Japanese shoe/sock custom is a perfect excuse for buying more sock yarn.

Most sock yarn is, of course, wool, but for hot-footers, cotton may be a better choice. Unfortunately, most of the cotton sock yarn is either very thick, like Cascade Fixation, or contains no lycra, so as soon as you put the sucker on your foot, it bags and sags. Meh.

Last year, I found two sources for a wonderful cotton/lycra socks yarn. It's quite fine, knitting up at maybe 10 stitches per inch. That't a bit deceptive, because it's not so teensy while you are knitting with it, but the yarn contracts into this sqooshy, velvety, springy fabric that is real luxury on your feet.

I've made several pairs with this yarn on #0 needles, and they are frankly my favorites. You need to put on a bit of tension on the yarn--don't stretch it too much while you are knitting with it. Because it's quite different than wool, swatching is always a good idea for the first sock.

You can purchase lovely colorways from Zen Yarn Garden and Greenwood Fibers. Both are Etsy stores and the owners are wonderful.

I made these socks with my generic sock pattern (the very first post in this blog). The upper section of the right sock is feather and fan; the left sock was some invented slip stitch pattern (not recommended for this kind of yarn--it prevents stretching and was extremely difficult to knit).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Proud as a Peacock

The Peacock shawl from Fiddlesticks is finished!

What did I learn from knitting this piece?

1. The shawl was knit with Trenna, a new yarn from Schaefer.

Like Zephyr, which seems to be the gold standard of lace yarns, Trenna is 50% wool and 50% silk. It couldn't be much different than Zephyr than if it were made out of Naugha hides. Trenna is more tightly spun than Zephyr and has the look and feel of silk. Zephyr looks and feels more like wool. I guess I still prefer Zephyr, because I just don't care much for knitting silk yarns in general.

I gotta say that Trenna's colorways are gorgeous. I used Green Violet, and the colors are rich, saturated, subtle, etc. etc. Zephyr comes in a million colors, but all of them are solid. Not even a heather to relieve the eye. Red Bird Knits occasionally carries some Zephyr handpaints, but only a very few. The first person to make a concerted effort to offer handpainted Zephyr, or something similar, will make a good bit of money. Most of it mine.

2. Boye still wins.

I started the shawl with my shiny new KnitPicks. Aside from the fact that they started turning black about halfway into the project, they were really too slippery for Trenna. Despite their loathsomely stiff cables, I went back to my Boyes for the rest of the shawl.

I gotta wonder what Boye is thinking. Strike that. Not thinking. Why do they have such a miserable excuse for a cord on their circulars? I could use the darned things for croquet hoops. Or loopy garden stakes. But the tips are magnificent. Exquisite. Downright perfect. They are pleasantly color-coded and not too heavy in the smaller sizes. The interchangeable NeedleMaster set goes down to size 2, which means there's always a hole for a lifeline (unless you are knitting lace on smaller needles, in which case you are a lunatic and probably don't think about lifelines). The case is slim but still has room for a tape measure, markers, and the like. But the cables are just miserable excuses for flexible plastic.

3. I am truly tired of turquoise and am not too fond of T-pins right now.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Knitting Purgatory

Right and left, everything seemed to be wrong-footed this week. First we have several reports from the Needle Morgue:

Name: KnitPicks #0
Age: Maybe two months
Cause of Death: Decordification

Name: Suzanne Ebony #4
Age: 1 day
Cause of Death: Broken spine

On a less cheery note, here is the latest on my WIPs.

First we have DH's Cheshire Cat alpaca/silk sweater in progress.

After finishing two cuffs, we decided they were too tight. Ribbit.

And two Great Adirondack Soxie socks:

I had gotten about halfway up the legs, but decided I hated the way the ribbing pattern looked and felt. Ribbit.

And here's the ratty headscarf (Peacock shawl). I have exactly two rows of this sucker left before I finish. If you see an excessive number of lifelines, it's because half the stitches seem to be leaping to their death when I am not looking. For the rest of the shawl, a lifeline every ten rows or so was just fine. I lifelined every one of the last ten rows after ripping back four times. Ribbet.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Japanese Knitting Symbols

Anyone who's ever had the chance to flip through Japanese knitting books and magazines immediately falls in love. Like many love affairs, though, communication can sometimes be a problem. On the plus side, Japanese patterns always chart the complete garment or accessory--there are rarely more than one or two paragraphs of verbiage. You don't need to understand the characters to figure out which part is the sleeve and which part is the sweater body. (Um, if you can't figure out those bits, you need more help than this entry provides.)

So, what is needed is simply a Rosetta stone for the knitting symbols, and that's actually pretty easy to acquire. There are quite a few of them and they can be bought from Yes Asia or Amazon Japan.

Knitting Signs and Make Patterns is the one I use most:

You can purchase it here. The ISBN is 4-529-02098-3 if you want to order it elsewhere. The book contains a complete set of symbols, generously illustrated, and bonus sample swatches as well.

I also use Clear and Simple Knitting Symbols a lot too:

The ASIN number (for Amazon Japan) is 452902413X and the ISBN is 4-529-02413-X. You can order it here.

I frankly haven't found any knitting language dictionaries that I would recommend. Word lists aren't terribly useful. However, The ABCs of Knitting site has some excellent information on interpreting Japanese charts and does have a small word list that might come in handy if you can't distinguish the front sweater chart from the back.

Clearwater Knits
offers a short set of tutorials for intepreting Japanese charts. They are actually for machine knitting, but handknitters will, ah, get the picture, too.

Jessica Tromp has some images from the books mentioned above on her site if you don't feel like ordering the books themselves. You'll have to scroll around to find the symbol you want, though, and the list is not complete.

I do suggest if you decide to embark on a Japanese pattern, that you resolve to remain flexible. You don't have to knit it exactly as the designer did. It's OK to change things around to make them easier to understand.

For example, a group of us are currently trying to work out the Mountain Ash shawl (see previous post). The original pattern begins with 27 miles of edging, from which you are supposed to pick up 40 million stitches and then work the shawl body somehow by shortrowing something or another. We all kinda decided that it was a great deal easier to knit the body first and the edging last. Who will know? Who cares?

And remember the great words quoted to me by a good Japanese friend when he was fumbling around with a notice that I asked him to interpret: Kanji is all about guessing.

It's true, too. Sometimes I point to a sign and ask for a translation. The person will stare at it for a minute or two and then render something that may or may not make sense. Not even the Japanese can decipher their own written material all the time. Consider this concept when you try to interpret a Japanese knitting pattern and start hitting the sake about two lines into the page. It's comforting to know that your are probably not the only one who's confused!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bohus Sweaters

Swedish Bohus sweaters, famous for their magnificent color work, were the brainchild of Emma Jacobsson. Like so much fine handwork, Bohus knitting was developed as a means of providing income to housebound women.

Started during the Depression, Bohus Stickning at first produced plain garments such as socks and mittens. These articles couldn't be sold at a premium price, so Emma began designing more sophisticated items with complex color patterns.

Most knitters weren't familiar with Bohus knitting until Wendy Keele wrote her wonderful book, Poems of Color, in 1995. (The book is now out of print, but is easy to purchase used from Amazon, Abe's books, and other used bookstores on the Internet.)

Wendy gives terrific directions for a dozen or so sweaters, hats, and mittens. She also sells kits for most of the designs in the book. You can order them here.

I've knitted two of these sweaters for DH. Here's the Wild Apple:

And the Large Collar:

Both sweaters are size 48, and once the fun of the yoke is finished (these sweaters are knitted from the neck down), I spent what seemed like several lifetimes knitting the rest of the sweater. For some reason, the dark green wasn't too bad, but ach! The black body was interminable! The result is exquisite--I think it's the most beautiful piece of knitting I ever produced. But at the time, I was really, really tired of black black black.

I also ordered the Large Collar for me in pink (called the Pink Collar) from The yarns in her kits are slightly finer than Wendy's--8 stitches per inch instead of 7. The yarn is also softer. You can see the pictures of these beauties here. I am seriously tempted by Forest Darkness, but I have enough projects in the queue. Someday.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Irresistable Kids' Knits

At the risk of sounding like a whiny old bat, I gotta say that I haven't seen any original or interesting children's knitting patterns for a long time. The stuff in the stores is boring, dull, hackneyed, and uninspired. I see an occasional cutie on-line, but, in general, there seems to be something missing from the designers' imagination. Meh.

But of course, I wouldn't be writing this post without something delicious for you to peruse and one of them is actually in English and easily available!

Lesley Anne Price wrote Kids' Knits in 1983, and I still want to knit every single design inside this book. Not a one is dated and they all feature original styling and exquisite color. Fortunately, the book is available used from Abe's Used Books. When I looked there, there were several copies available for under $2--a complete and total steal. Many designs in this book can be scaled up for adults, if knitting for children makes you flinch or something.

The other book is in, ah, Japanese. I found it in a tiny shop in Kyoto. I got lost walking back to my hotel and stumbled upon a yarn store so small that I nearly missed it. I must have smelled yarn, because the store front was piled with plastic buckets and cheap ginger graters.

The stock was dusty (unusual for a Japanese shop), but the lady saw me grazing through some of the magazines stacked on the counter and she started bringing out these incredible pattern books---piles and piles and piles of them--from the back room. I bought more than I could really carry. I felt sorry for her--it looked like she hadn't made a sale in years, so I purchased some yarn I didn't need and bamboo needles I didn't want as well. Her parting smile could have lit up Kyoto at night, all by itself.

Fortunately, I found a taxi before my shoulders dislocated from the weight of the bags.

This book was publishing in 1993 and I just couldn't find it on Amazon Japan. The ASIN (ISBN) number is 4-277-14136-6--perhaps someone else with more persistence can track it down. It's another of those volumes that I never tire of perusing. If nothing else, the images are presented as ideas that you can adapt to a pattern, should you be the adventurous type.

A Japanese knitting book for cat lovers

Here's one of the most charming knitting books I have ever had the pleasure to, um, look at the pictures of. It's in Japanese, but experienced knitters shouldn't have a problem working the patterns from the charts. The book is called Zakka & Wear. "Zakka" roughly means knickknacks--things with no conceivable use that you display in your house but have to dust periodically. There are a few zakka projects inside (pillows), but the Wear part of the book was what forced me to hand over my yen to the bookstore.

The pictures are totally clear and make me want to drop my current WIPs and immediately start knitting...cats. I know I promised no cat pictures, but really, these cat pictures are eminently knittable, so they don't count. It's my blog and I say so.

Cat haters should avoid this book like the plague, but the rest of you will enjoy every single page.

You can buy the book here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yarn PØrn

Today's mail brought two fat packages. The color genius of Lisa Souza resulted in these two lucious, soft, squishy, silky skeins of mohair lace. The top skein is Mother of Pearl colorway and the bottom is Shaved Ice. The top one is earmarked for the capelet in Victorian Lace Today. Shaved Ice for the Luna Moth shawl.

And the color genius behind Katsara yarns brought these lucious, soft, squishy, silky skeins of sock yarn. Top to bottom: Hosta, Cantana, and Pansy.

The stash waxes fat and happy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Don't move the marker, move the stitch

The Peacock shawl's pattern requires moving markers. A lot. For the first four charts, I laboriously removed the marker and replaced it where it needed to go. In the middle of chart 5, I realized that I could just push or pull the stitches back and forth over the marker. This probably wouldn't be worth it if the marker has to move over multiple stitches, but it works just great for single stitches. A singular Duh moment I've never seen mentioned anywhere.

Pattern Writing

Writing clear, concise patterns is both an art and a science. The stitches must work together, the instructions unambiguous, and, most importantly, there should be NO MISTAKES.

Errata buried on some obscure web site are worse than useless. Even today, some people lack the skill or interest to frotz around the Internet. If there are errata for a pattern, the author should incorporate them into the printed documents being sold to trusting knitters and use the originals for bird cage liner. (Obviously, I am not talking about books, which present a rather large disposal problem, not to mention a prohibitive cost factor).

But what I really wanted to do was call your attention to two pattern writers who, in my opinion (if anyone cares about my opinion) (Does anyone care about my opinion?) (Is this sentence long enough?) write patterns that cause me to sigh with envy.

The patterns of Dorothy Siemens of Fiddlesticks Knitting, are models of clarity, precision, and all those other adjectives that ideally describe manuals for, say, brain surgery. Plus, the designs themselves are simply inspired. I am currently knitting her Peacock shawl, and although it has all the charm of a ratty headscarf right now, I have faith that at some point, it will resemble the model picture. Of course, if, after blocking, it still resembles a ratty headscarf, you can be assured that I will blog about it.

I recently ordered The Snow Shawl pattern, written by Deborah Peterson. You can order it from The Yarn Barn. The pattern isn't as polished as the ones from Fiddlesticks, what with little hand-scribbled notes, but the prose is delicious and laugh-aloud funny in places. Beginning lace knitters will benefit from reading her asides--they are applicable to any piece of lace.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

No-Fault Decreases

Decreases that require slipping and/or flipping stitches make me um, hiss, in frustration. I like to use slick needles, but too many times, when I pass a stitch over, the entire unit flips off the needle, runs down the complicated lace pattern, and dares me to breathe.

The last time this happened, I decided to put a stop to the insanity and spent a couple of hours reworking all those stupid stop-slip-slip-flip-slide techniques so they can be done in a single step. No slipping or flipping required. No hauling stitches over other stitches. No stopping to rip back to the lifeline (you did have a lifeline there, right?)

Watch closely.

K2 together--left slant

Traditional method: slip 1, k1 pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch.

Better method: Slip 1 knitwise, Slip 1 purlwise, knit the two together through the back loop on the right-hand needle.

Slipless method: Put the needle through the front of the first loop and the back of the second and knit them together as a unit through the back loop.

Needle through the front of the first loop:

Needle through the back of the second loop

Wrap yarn...

And pull it through both stitches.

Finished result:

K3 together--left slant
Traditional method: There are lots of variants of this--all of them ghastly. Here's one: Slip 2 knitwise one at a time, knit 1, shlep the 2 knit stitches over the slipped stitch. There's a K3 together through the back loop that twists the stitches, another that involves a K1 Slip-Slip-Knit and pass something over something else.

Slipless method: Put the needle through front of the first stitch and the back of the next two stitches. Knit the together as a unit through the back loops.

Needle through the front of the first loop:


Needle through the back of second and third loops:

Wrap the yarn...

And pull it through all three stitches.

The finished stitch:

K3 together--central decrease (no slant)

Traditional method: Slip 2 knitwise as a unit, knit 1, pass the slipped stitches as a unit over the knit stitch.

Slipless method: Put the needle through the front of the first two stitches, reach around and put the needle through the back of the third stitch and knit them together as a unit through the back loops. It's kind of squinchy, but with practice (and loose knitting), it becomes effortless.

Needle through the front of the first two loops:

Needle through the back of the third loop:

Wrap yarn... (I notice here that I am wrapped the yarn wrong for the photo. It should go over the needle. Please excuse me...taking another photo, cropping, uploading to Blogger....just wrap the yarn the other way, OK?

And pull it through all three stitches.

Note that you should practice the easiest one first (K2 together--left slant) to get an idea of how these stitches feel when they are being knitted. Work in good light so you can see what you are doing. When you feel comfortable with this one, progress to the K3 together--left slant. When you are totally comfortable with the first two, graduate to the K3 together--central decrease (no slant).

If you are having trouble getting the needle through these stitches, pinch the knitting below them and pull down. The stitches will open up nicely.

You will be amazed at how these techniques will improve your knitting efficiency, especially if you are doing lace. You'll attain a nice rhythm, too, because you don't have to stop and slip.

I don't think you can do these tricks if you are a tight knitter. Why are you a tight knitter, anyway? Loosen up! Relax!