Friday, May 27, 2005

Kippalong 3: Mosaics, Faux Pas, and Other Edges and Finishes

If you've arrived here from the Eastside Fiber Arts website, please click on the link at the left to go to our new site's pattern page to download the most up-to-date kippah pattern!

Because the kippah itself is very plain, you can add some visual punch to it by starting it with a decorative edge in place of the garter stitch band.

If you are new to the concept of slip-stitch mosaic designs, I strongly recommend getting hold of a copy of Barbara Walker's Charted Knitting Designs or Mosaic Knitting, the definitive books on the topic. She describes the technique in great detail and many of the designs in her books, while looking quite complex, can be easily done.

If you don't have access to Barbara's books, there are two very good resources available on the Net: The first, Esther Bozak's excellent online introduction to the technique, along with Esther's sample patterns to try.

The second is the article by Kristi Porter in the Summer 2003 issue of, which includes a lesson on reading charts.

And speaking of charts, I would now like to apologize publicly for making a major faux pas design-wise: thankfully someone wrote and pointed out to me that only one of the four small designs that appear on page 3 of my kippah pattern is suitable for mosaic knitting. The main principle of mosaic knitting is that you only knit one color per pattern row while slipping the second color without knitting. Therefore, the color which is being slipped must exist at the same spot in the row immediately below it.

Backside Mosaic Slip-Stitch
Look Ma! No carries!

As Wendy would say, "I'm a Putz!" (By the way, Wendy has some neat mosaic designs, on her site, including totes.)

Gaffed Mosaic Designs:

Mosaic Design Chart Redux:

(Shown are three different charts and the little bar on the far right tells you which color you should be knitting in that round. You can right-click and save this chart to your own computer.)

All these designs need a foundation row. Once you've cast on your kippah onto your circular needle, don't immediately join for the next round. Instead, purl back on your cast-on row for the foundation row and then join the round and join in your contrast color yarn. What is important for us since we are knitting in the round, is that every slip-stitch is slipped with the yarn held at the back and that slipped stitches are always slipped purl-wise.

Mosaic Boo-boo
Spot the Boo-boo

Now, the designs that I mistakenly tagged as mosaic designs are still usable: You can either knit them as stranded designs, i.e. holding one color of yarn in each hand or, if you don't have the hang of two-handed knitting yet, you can do the following:
on the first round, knit the CC stitches and slip the MC stitches
on the second round, slip the CC stitches and knit the MC stitches
on Round 3, purl the CC stitches and slip the MC stitches
on Round 4, slip the CC stitches and purl the MC stitches

What you've just done is knit 4 rows which is the equal of one row of the chart. (While this works fine for such small patterns and for the short run, in the long run it's worthwhile learning how to knit with both hands.) However, exactly like stranded knitting, you must keep a loose tension on the working yarn when you slip the slipped stitches. If your tension is too tight, your knitting will pucker vertically. One way to help avoid this problem is by keeping your knitting bunched up on the left needle and spread out on your right needle, just like what we do when there are too few stitches on the circular needle but, goldarnit!, we're not switching to double pointed needles just yet! :->

Mosaic edge KippahOther edges: On future kippahs, I'd love to try entrelac or domino edges or even lace. Since I am so indecisive about what kind of edge to try, in all probability I will do a provisional cast-on with scrap yarn (the "Scoop & Dip" method) and first knit the crown of the kippah and then go back and knit the edge, if I've made up my mind by then. :)

I hope you find this information helpful for your own kippah. Please leave a comment any time if you need help with a technique or have a question, and don't forget to show off your finished kippah to the rest of us.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Kippalong 2: More about "The Yarn makes the Kippah" and Cast-on choices

First of all, a little more about yarn gauge and resulting kippah size. Let me preface this by saying that you should take my results with a grain of salt. The results you get with your chosen yarn will most likely be different than mine. However, in the interest of sharing information, I'm providing this as food for thought.

As I said earlier, my fiber preference for kippahs is cotton. Cotton, especially high-twist and mercerized cotton, will not compress as much as wool. With that in mind, these are the exact measurements that I got with my yarns:
-Fingering/Sock weight yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit Cotton (a cotton-wool blend), 26sts x 36rows=4" on size 2.25mm (US1). The finished kippah was 17.5" around and 7" across.
-DK/Sport weight yarn: Rowan Cotton Glace (100% cotton), 23sts x 32rows=4" on size 3.25mm (US3) needles. The finished kippah was 18" around and 7.5" across.

In order to knit a larger kippah, I used a DK weight yarn, but knit the kippah according to the directions for Fingering/Sock weight yarn. The finished kippah was 19.25" around and 8.25" across. (This is an all-cotton yarn, imported and labeled by our local yarn distributor, but without a recommended gauge; my gauge was 6.25 sts to 1" on size 3.25mm/US3.)

My last test kippah (picture soon-promise!) was knit with a very fine gauge yarn: Phildar Fil D’Ecosse (100% cotton), 30sts by 40rows=4" on 2.00mm(US0), which resulted in a finished kippah roughly 17" around and 6.75" across, the smallest of all the kippahs.

Because of the very fine gauge of this yarn, neither the instructions for the Fingering/Sock weight yarn nor DK/Sport weight yarn worked well. This resulted in my writing an addendum to my pattern. You can download it here. (If you downloaded my original kippah pattern between May 9 and May 21, you only need to download the addendum for extra fine gauge yarn. This addendum is already included in the current full pattern download.)

While you can get a larger kippah by knitting with a larger gauge yarn and following the instructions for either the fingering/sock weight or the extra fine gauge yarns, personally I don't recommend using a yarn with a gauge larger than about 22 stitches to 4 inches. The resulting kippah will not only be somewhat coarse looking (remember, we're using the purl side as the right side) and weighty, but more importantly my pattern's initial decrease ratio doesn't work very well with a large gauge yarn.

Cast-on Choices:
Just like a collar of a sweater, the cast-on for the kippah is located in a very visible place and deserves your best efforts. In my kippah pattern I suggested using the Cable Cast On. I find this cast-on edge not only lies flatter than the standard Long-Tail Cast On, but it also makes a lovely decorative edge. If you find the Cable Cast-on difficult, try it's little brother, the Knitted Cast-on. However, like many things in knitting, there are no hard and fast rules here. Try what you like and see if it works for you.

When knitting my sample kippahs, I also used a provisional cast-on in order to leave live stitches available for adding i-cord after finishing my kippah. If you click on the 3rd thumbnail below for the largest kippah, you can see the results. It made for a very polished-looking finish to the edge.

Regardless of what cast-on you choose, if you tend to hold your needles and yarn in a death grip while casting on, use a needle one size larger than what you are going to use for the kippah itself. While elasticity is not a huge factor here, you still don't want your edge pulling in.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Dog ate my homework

After my webhost's server ate my DNS settings, I now have a small family matter that needs attending to before I can continue with the kippalong. Sorry for the slight delay and I should be back with a post on Sunday.

Meantime, your yarn's vital stats please. I'm finding that many people are wishing to use finer yarn than what the current pattern calls for and if that is the case, I will write up an addendum to the pattern.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Kippalong 1: The Yarn makes the Kippah

Hopefully by this time you've downloaded my kippah pattern (new link as of May 2009) and have given some thought to what yarn you're going to use to knit it.

As I said in my pattern, my first preference is cotton, and if at all possible a highly twisted and mercerized cotton. Why? Two reasons: First, stitch definition (although this is less important if you are using a rag-type yarn as I did with my first kippah):



And second, weight. This isn't to say that you can't use other fibers or fiber blends. Since I don't have any linen or silk yarn in my stash and since I'm trying really hard not to increase the size of my yarn stash, I didn't have those fibers to experiment on.

If you are participating in the kippalong, please leave in this post's comments your chosen yarn's vital statistics: name, fiber content, the stitch and row gauge printed on the ball band and the needle size you are going to use with it. If you don't have a ball band, let us know what stats you got with a gauge swatch.

The next Kippalong post will be Wednesday or Thursday.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Things finally calmed down enough after Passover so that I could sit down and tackle rewriting my knit kippah pattern. With the number of knitters on the Internet, it surprises me somewhat that my pattern is one of barely a handful available for knitters. So I'm happy to announce that my completely rewritten kippah pattern can be found on my new web site (new link as of May 2009) and includes instructions for both DK/sport weight and fingering/sock weight yarn.

Another knit kippah pattern available online is
The Accidental Kippah
In print, there is the one in Interweave Knits, Summer 2002, Page 96: Silk Skullcaps by Joanne Seiff.

Unfortunately, a few more knit kippah patterns were lost when Carlin took down her wonderful pattern repository on VanderbiltU. If anyone knows if the pattern by Lois Silverman, the pattern by the Women's League for Conservative Judaism or the pattern by Amit Chitwood have found new web addresses, I'd be thrilled if you'd post the new address in the comments. A search on Google didn't turn up anything.

Why the rewrite of the pattern, you ask? Most of the comments that I received since posting my knit kippah pattern after my older son's Bar Mitzvah (and who is soon to turn 20!), were that knitters found the kippah too small for an adult head and that my directions were confusing. Both those problems have been solved with the new pattern. (What can I say other than it made perfect sense to me at the time and I knit about 2 and a half dozen kippahs for 13 year-old heads!) What I chose to eliminate from the new pattern, however, was the wordy explanation of mosaic slip-stitch knitting in the garter stitch band at the beginning of the kippah. Unfortunately for a lot of people that band is what attracted them to the pattern to begin with, because it mimics the patterns in crocheted kippahs. If there is enough demand, once we've worked our way through the basic kippah pattern, we'll hold a separate session to discuss the mosaic slip-stitch patterns one can use in the band.

So, starting Sunday, May 15, watch this space! (Feel free to grab the link button and put it on your own website.)

Currently Kippalong-ing:
Pearl (done!)
Mozemen (done!)
Brenda (done!)