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If you have not already found your own preference of finish, try out a variety of needles. You will soon find one that feels just right to you. Needle weight is another consideration for some, and I include myself among them. I find that I work best with needles that are light in weight. I suggest again that you experiment to find your preference.

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After all, a counterpane is a time-consuming project, and it pays to work with tools that you find really comfortable. In addition to needles, you will also need crochet hooks and tapestry needles. Crochet hooks are frequently used to join seams, finish edges or add borders; and they are invaluable for picking up dropped stitches. Match the size of the crochet needle to the size of the knitting needle you are using, and choose them as carefully as you do knitting needles. I used sizes 2.

Some other several-part patterns were joined by sewing with a tapestry needle. This needle has a blunt point with an elongated eye and is also used for weaving in yarn ends. You will want tapestry needles in sizes 13 to 16 for a range of yarn sizes. Besides these necessary tools, there are others that make certain tasks easier. Ring markers in small sizes for the pieces in this book help designate where patterns begin and end, and where increases or decreases are to be made.

A needle-size gauge use one for your particular brand of needle , a stitch counter, scissors and a thimble are all useful additions to your tool box. A tape measure or ruler, T-pins or other strong straight pins, and a blocking board are important for blocking the finished piece. I recommend tagging samples so that you will have an accurate record of your work for future reference. String tags are perfect for this purpose. Record all the relevant information about the swatch: the type of yarn, its weight and dye lot; the size of needle; the pattern name and source; and the date the sample is knitted.

A small box, approximately 5 in. The spool holder allows the yarn to be drawn off the spool in the direction of the twist—that is, in the direction in which it was spun and wound. If the yarn is drawn off in another direction, an extra twist will be added to it, causing it to kink and tangle.

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To make a spool holder, punch holes through two opposite sides of the box. Insert a long knitting needle, a chopstick or a thin dowel through the holes and through the center of the spool to hold it steady. An empty coffee can or container of a similar size will hold a coned yarn steady. Finally, here is one last bit of "equipment" to add to your kit. Since yarn can be snagged by rough fingernails or skin, I suggest keeping handy an emery board and hand cream.

Before settling down to knit a project, it is important to knit pattern samples to determine your gauge. This is a vital and valuable exercise for all types of knitting, and in the case of clothing, where exact fit is required, determining exact gauge is crucial. In the case of counterpanes, however, gauge is less crucial and need not be exactingly determined—a counterpane, after all, must only approximate certain dimensions to cover a bed. Yet while there is some leeway with gauge in counterpane knitting, making sample pattern units is still important. These samples provide an opportunity to experiment with various yarns and needle sizes and let you see the pattern worked in different gauges.

I suggest beginning with the yarns and needle sizes I used for a given pattern. Then if you find the sample too loosely or tightly knit, change yarns or needles or both until you produce a fabric that pleases you. Counterpane units should be blocked on a blocking board when finished to flatten them and bring them to their final size and shape. In the photo here, a unit of Wilma's Pattern see p. After being dampened with water and air-dried, the units will retain their shape when removed from the board.

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Once you become familiar with a pattern as written, you may want to try changing it a bit. Making sample pattern units enables you to experiment with new combinations of stitches and see how patterns interact with one another. You will find that even slight variations in an element of the existing pattern can alter the appearance of the knitting. This is the time to discover that a pattern combination or a particular yarn is the right—or wrong—choice for the piece you plan to make. An unblocked piece of knitting is in a limp, unfinished state. The blocking process makes the knitting lie smooth and flat and form to its final shape and size.

Block the pieces as you finish them, and always block before joining pieces together. For blocking you will need a surface that is flat and rigid, yet porous enough to insert pins easily. Half-inch fiberboard sheathing, a lightweight insulating material that is available at most lumberyards I use Celotex brand , makes an excellent blocking surface.

It comes in 4-ft. For my purposes, I find a in. If you cannot find fiberboard sheathing, use a cork-faced bulletin board. T-pins or some other rustproof pins strong enough to be held under tension, sturdy tape and a spray bottle of water. Cover the top of the board with the brown paper, pulling the paper tightly over the edges and taping it on the underside.

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With a pencil and ruler, mark off 1-in. These lines will be the measuring guides for the length and width of the piece being blocked and will also serve to keep it straight while it is being stretched. It is the edge of the pattern unit with the least amount of stretch that will establish the blocked size of the piece.

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For strip and rectangular patterns, the cast-on edge is the one with the least amount of stretch. For squares, triangles and fan patterns, another edge may be the least elastic. And in the case of medallion patterns, all the edges will have the same amount of stretch, which means that any side can serve to establish the blocked size of the piece.

Begin blocking by placing the finished piece face up in the center of the blocking board. Position the square or rectangular units so that the edge with the least amount of stretch sits on a horizontal line and another side of the piece sits on a vertical line. For a medallion unit, position any one of its sides on a grid line, or align the points on opposite sides along a grid line, as I have done in the photo on the facing page.

For a shell or fan pattern, decide first how you want to assemble the units, since they will be blocked differently for the two possible assembly methods. To join the units as a series of cascading fan shapes see the diagram below , each unit should be blocked as a fan, as shown in the top of the photo on the opposite page. To assemble the pieces as four-unit squares, each unit should be blocked as a triangle. In the latter case, the two short sides of the unit will be blocked as a right triangle.

The side with the least amount of stretch should be positioned along a horizontal grid line, and the adjoining side along a vertical line.

Any of the fan or shell patterns pp. For the first method of assembly, the unit must be blocked as a fan shape, as shown in the photo on the facing page. For the second method, the unit should be blocked as a right triangle. When working with squares or rectangles, pin one corner of the horizontal edge, pull the edge taut and pin the other corner. Then place pins at 1-in.

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Next, pin the top corners of the piece. Stretch each side to its maximum as you work up the length of the piece, and be careful to keep it hugging the vertical lines and undistorted in shape. Make sure that the opposite sides are stretched equally in length, and repin them if necessary. Work similarly with a triangle, pinning first the side you have positioned on a horizontal grid line, then the adjacent side positioned on a vertical grid line and finally the diagonal edge.

Be sure to stretch and pin all edges taut, and keep the triangle undistorted. Do not rush the blocking process. Menswear includes sweaters, belts, scarves, ties, and more. In addition to children's clothing and toys, the book also features patterns for counterpanes, spreads, doilies, mats, and other household articles.