Email Tutorial

I get a lot of letters – not as many as Crazy Aunt Purl, (but then she’s absolutely phenomenally hysterical!) Actually, reading some of her email at her blog made me think I should post the following exchange.

Backyard Leaves is my scarf design that was in Pam Allen’s book, Scarf Style.

It’s gratifying that folks are stretching their perception of their knitting skills when they attempt – and succeed – in following the chart for the pattern. Below is an exchange I recently had with a knitter who was trying BYL.

I thought it might be helpful for other folks attempting the pattern – and it also explains my philosophy of knitting and happy stitches pretty well. Enjoy!

On Jan 13, 2006, at 7:34 PM, Leslie A. G. wrote:

Hi Annie — My name is Leslie and I’m an intermediate knitter in San Francisco.  I’ve been admiring the Backyard Leaves scarves I’ve seen on knitting blogs and I’ve decided to attempt it as my first charted project.  I got through two rows last night and I already have questions.  I hope you don’t mind (and I hope you don’t think I’m ridiculous).  First, when you slip a stitch with the yarn in the front, should I slip it knit-wise or purl-wise? 

Also, (here’s the one where you might think I’m ridiculous), when the chart calls for a YO, does that mean simply bringing the yarn to the front of the work or does it also include knitting a stitch after bringing the yarn over?  THANK YOU for your help.  I apologize for bothering you but I’m eager to make this gorgeous scarf — and do it right!  Leslie Gordon

Leslie A. G.

Hi Leslie,

When you slip a stitch, I don’t really specify whether you should slip it knit or purl wise.  The truth is, it doesn’t really matter as long as you work the stitch THE WAY IT WANTS TO BE KNIT in the following row.  If you slip the stitch purl wise, then the stitch will be set up for either a western knit or purl on the reverse side.  If you slip the stitch knit wise, then the stitch will be set up for a Combination knit on the reverse side.  Because different folks knit differently, I don’t like to add ‘standardized’ instructions which can be very counter productive for the average knitter.

The most important thing is to be able to “read” your stitches – to tell by looking at the stitch whether it “wants” to be knit into the front or the back loop.  By this, I mean that when you knit a stitch the stitch should want to open up wide.  If the stitch crosses itself at the bottom, it will be a twisted stitch and won’t be very “happy”.  When you insert your needle into a stitch to make it “happy” – you are inserting  your needle into the LEADING edge of the stitch.  (When you purl, you would be inserting your needle into the TRAILING edge of the stitch.)  I hope you don’t find this more confusing than helpful!  I am a strong proponent of understanding the way your stitches WANT to be knitted – if everyone can grasp this relatively simple concept, then knitting instructions can be written to accommodate ALL knitters (Combination, Eastern, Western, Left Handed) and no one has to be left out!

A YO means to wrap the yarn around the RH needle as if you were making a stitch.  The RH needle won’t be IN a stitch at the time.  You will wrap the yarn around the needle in the same direction as you wrapped the yarn when you made the previous stitch.  This will create a “hole” – aka an “eyelet” which is what makes the lace look like lace!


Annie Modesitt
Knit Designer / Craft Writer PO Box 813, South Orange, NJ  07079

On Feb 9, 2006, at 12:54 AM, Leslie A. G wrote:

Hi Annie —

If you recall my e-mail below, I wrote to you recently about some basic Backyard Leaves questions.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks alternating between chart phobia and a desire to buckle down and just do it.  Ultimately, I enlarged the chart (huge!), color-coded it, pre-counted big blocks of stitches and pre-calculated row-by-row stitch counts. 

Between your e-mail below, doing all that prep work and adding in contrasting-color “lifelines” every few rows (to reduce the fear and time of making a mistake), I have overcome my phobia of the BL chart and tonight I reached row 19!!!  I am thrilled and I now see the brillance of the pattern.  I cannot wait to start again tomorrow night.  THANKS for your e-mail below and the beautiful design.  🙂  Leslie

Leslie A. G.

Hey Leslie,

I’m so PROUD of you!!  Doesn’t it just make you feel like you can do ANYTHING when you finally figure out something that seemed incomprehensible a few weeks earlier?

Would you mind if I shared our email correspondence on my blog?   I won’t list your name or email –

Annie Modesitt
Knit Designer / Craft Writer PO Box 813, South Orange, NJ  07079

On Feb 9, 2006, at 12:50 PM, Leslie A. G. wrote:

Annie — Yes, you may included it in your blog and you could even keep my name in it.  (If anyone wanted to e-mail me about my color-coding scheme, I’d be happy to share what helped me.)  Although I’ve made sweaters before, I really believe that finishing this scarf will make me feel that I can conquer anything.  

Leslie A. G

…and because one can’t mention Laurie enough…

Perhaps THIS is what the Prez was trying to warn us about?

photo from Laurie’s window at work – see the original at crazy aunt purl

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About Annie

I knit weird and I enjoy showing others how to find the joy and intuitiveness within their OWN knitting! We don't knit to make THINGS, we knit to make OURSELVES HAPPY!

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