Monday, December 22, 2008

Popular Mitts

My knitted fingerless mitts appear to be popular-another woman in my church asked me to make her a pair, so I am.

These really knit up and go together fast-at least a day of off and on knitting, you can have a pair before the weekend is out. I have until this Sunday, so I'm not going to get in a hurry with them.

I'm also working on writing out a version for circular knitting-I'm almost finished with one, and I like the way it looks-however, the other will have to wait, I'm trying a technique for socks I've never tried before so I'll know if I want to do mom's socks that way-two socks using Magic Loop. I'm using my #8 circ (Which is what I was using for the mitt-using Magic Loop) to try it out with some RHSS and am making my grandson a pair of slipper socks so that I'll at least be making something useful. The yarn is camo, and he has some camo clothes, so they'll go good with them. So far, I've turned the heel and am working on the foot-I used the YO short row heel, which means I had to do each heel separately, but it worked out all right and I like the YO short row heel. I'll be doing that same short row when I reach the toe shaping because I also like the short row toe-I just don't like doing toe up socks, and the extra stitches I have to graft don't bother me, so I'll keep making socks like that.

So if I like DKing socks, why am I thinking about Magic Loop for Mom's socks? Because DKing isn't for cables, and I'm thinking about doing a twisted rib sock. I know she'd be happy with just a plain old knit sock just because I knit it for her, but if I'm going to take the time to make her a pair of socks I want to jazz them up a bit and I don't particularly care for lace since she wants them mainly to keep her feet warm-plus, I haven't really knitted much in the way of lace, I'm just not a lacy person. Lazy-yes, lacy-no

If they turn out, I'll be getting me a 40" #3 Addi Turbo and sock yarn at my LYS as soon as I get some extra money.

If I make any adult slipper socks on this needle though, I'd have to do them one at a time-a 29" needle will not make a pair of adult slipper socks-the toddler socks are stretching the limits of the cord as it is.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Request I Couldn't Deny

My mom called me the other day to let me know that the present I sent her had arrived, and the conversation turned to crochet and knitting when I mentioned that I was knitting a pair of fingerless mitts for my friend at church. Mom asked me if I knew how to knit socks and I said yes I did and she asked me to knit her a pair. I can't say no to that, but it might be awhile since we're barely making enough money to pay bills and get groceries. I told her that it might have to wait until we get our income tax back so I could go get some sock yarn from our LYS. It still might be next Christmas before she gets them. I might just start making her a pair every Christmas.

At least I can use my foot as a model since we both wear the same size. It might even be a bit loose on her, which will be good since she's diabetic and has just had bypass surgery on her legs-so I don't want to make the socks too binding on her feet or ankles.

Anyway-she didn't even specify a color when I asked, she just said she didn't care-so I'll have to browse the LYS's selection and see if they have any pretty ones.

A Request I Couldn't Deny

I had to put my projects down again-I went to church Wednsday evening and a lady asked me where I got my fingerless mitts. It was a pair I had finished crocheting Sunday morning and I told her I made them. She admired them and said they would let her do things with her fingers while keeping her hands warm, so I asked her if she wanted a pair. She looked surprised, but said yes, so I said I would knit her a pair since knit items have more give than crocheted items. She tried the mitt on and it fit her hand too, so I just need to knit her mitts to fit me and it should be all right.

I'm using this pattern that I wrote, only I'm using some RH Soft yarn I found in my bedroom. She wanted a neutral color and that yarn is black, so I told her I had some black and she said that would work.

I really like this pattern, and I'm sure there's already a pattern out there similar to it-I know I've seen one for some that are knit flat, I'm just not sure how similar they are to my pattern-but I wrote it out anyway, just to have a reference just in case I forget how I did them.

I'm using my hand as a reference since our hands are similar in size.

If I have enough yarn left of that black RH Soft, I might cast on and do me a pair in it-it's almost as soft as the ones I'm doing in Cascade 220 Superwash wool-almost, but not quite.

I finished them after about a day of knitting on them off and on-this pattern is a really quick knit-now I'm knitting me a pair in some Bernat Soft Baby yarn for tomorrow's Christmas Cantata and I'm almost finished with them-I'm nearly at the top ribbing, then I just need to bind them off, do the thumb and sew up the side seam.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Sock or Two?

Sock knitters all over have had a dilemma for as long as socks have been knitted-most everyone has two feet, and they could only knit one sock at a time, which could get tedious. Then along came circular needles, which allowed women or men to knit a pair of socks at the same time. Then some enterprising person figured out how to do a pair of socks on one very long circular needle.

Now-what if you didn't like using circular needles to do socks (or other small circumference items)? What if you preferred using double pointed needles-how would you knit two pairs at the same time then? There are two options-both of which I've either done, or am trying.

The first method is to use two sets of DPNs-one set for each sock-then work part way on one sock, switch to the other and work the same amount on it. This works pretty well-you don't exactly do the pair at the same time-you're simply working on one, putting it down and working on the other.

The other method-which I've already linked to in a previous post or two-is to use one set of DPNs and double knit the pair of socks. Double knitting has been around for centuries-usually used to create a double thick fabric such as a nice warm baby blanket. However, you don't want to tie your two socks together-you want to keep each sock separate-so you have to be a little more diligent about watching your yarn so that you use the right end for the right sock.

Anyway-I said all this because a couple of people pretty much dismissed the technique as grandstanding and didn't see the point. The point is-if you can't get the hang of circulars-or you just don't like them as well-this is a perfectly valid method to knit a pair of socks. The author even said you could do it with circulars as well-whether using two or one long one. Now, I really don't see the point of double knitting socks on circulars since there's plenty of room on them to keep them separate, but for DPNs, it gives the DPN lover a way to knit a pair of socks-if she/he's patient enough to learn the technique. About the only thing I wouldn't recommend would be trying to DK socks with cables. Lacy patterns may be possible with a bit of finageling, but I'm pretty sure cable socks would be much too tedious and stressful to try DKing-try the other method instead. Actually-all in all-for anything other than a basic knitted sock, I would knit them one at a time or do the two socks on two circs or Magic Loop-DKing would work best for just your basic stockinette stitch sock with K1, P1 ribbing.

An aside: The 'cheat' method of casting on, to me, works much better than the cable cast-on she uses. But in that YMMV. Either way-the cast-on and first round or two will always be the most tedious-whether DKing or not. After that-you pretty much sail through it.

I may change my mind once I reach the heel-who knows? All I do know is, so far, I like this method and it's fun-which is what knitting should be. I do recommend taking frequent breaks from it until you're comfortable with it-that way you're less likely to accidentally cross your stitches. Simply pick up something mindless to work on to clear your mind, and pretty soon DKing will be almost as mindless as a st st dishcloth-except you'll have to watch your yarns more closely. I'm comfortable enough with it that I simply join and start the first round in my ribbing pattern-usually K1, P1-instead of knitting the first round.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I like the pattern

The one I made up as I went for the fingerless mitts knit flat. I'm now knitting myself a pair out of the same camo yarn, only adjusting it down some and tweaking it a bit.

I've also decided to try to see how adjustable the pattern is by using completely different yarn/needles-yesterday I found a partial ball of Cascade 220 superwash that I'd made a pair of Fetching fingerless gloves out of and I divided it roughly in half and cast on for a pair on a 16" #3 circ. If the circ is too short to do the thumbs with I have plenty of #3 dpns to use. I've cast on 44 sts for each mitt and we'll see if I've calculated the balls of yarn right and if I have enough to do the mitts with. If not, I'll put them aside until I finish the pair of socks I'm working on in another color of the 220-the two should look nice together if I need to redo cause I don't have enough of the one I'm using for the mitts.

I do think I'd recommend just using a circular to knit these with-you can drop the mitt you aren't working on to the cable, I'd just complete the rows for both mitts before putting your work down so you don't confuse yourself as to which mitt you're working one. It does go much faster when you work on both at once, and your mitts come out the same.

Anyway, one day fate may drop a camera in my lap and I can start taking pictures again. Until then, I'll just have to write about what I'm doing and you guys can use your imagination.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finished Already

I wish I had a camera. This pair of fingerless mitts are so nice! I used RHSS in camo and although I made a slight miscalculation when I did the first thumb, I was able to fix it without too much problem.

I'm going to try to write the pattern out-it really turned out nice-I've even cast on to do me a pair-although I think I'm going to do them slightly differently-do a few rows of stockinette before making the thumb gusset and making a few more rows after the thumb gusset before the final ribbing rows.

Anyway-I hope he likes them.

Christmas gift

Now that I have my socks going the way they should be, I need to put them down because I have a gift to knit. I sometimes take my craft bag to church with me, and yesterday I had just finished a pair of purple fingerless mitts in crochet. A young teenage boy in our church saw them and told me I needed to make him a pair and I said I needed to measure his hand to do those mitts, and I didn't think he wanted to walk around with purple mitts either. This morning I decided that instead of crocheting him a pair, I would knit him a pair. I got out my #8 straights and two partial skeins of RHSS in camo and I've cast on for both mitts.

Yes, I'm knitting them flat and then sewing them up the side-no, I don't have a pattern, I'm making it up as I go along. I have a #8 circ to do the thumb with when I'm done so that won't be a problem. I only hope I can get the seam not to look wonky-and I've been slipping the first stitch of each row to make the edges more uniform and smooth, so hopefully the seam will also be uniform and smooth.

I just decided a pair of knit fingerless mitts in camo would be just the thing for a teenage boy-I just hope he likes them cause he probably already forgot he wanted me to crochet him a pair ;)


I had to frog back the doubleknit socks-when I cross a stitch, I don't usually notice til l've gotten into another round, so it's actually a whole round of stitches that need to be fixed-which means I'd have to go all the way back around, which I wouldn't mind for one round or maybe two-but this one was several more rounds down.

Then after casting on again, things didn't want to line up properly and I had to keep trying and doing a lot of head scratching as to why it wasn't wanting to do right, when I finally got it right.

After I got started again, I still crossed yarns again, but only had to tink back about a round and a half to get back to it and straighten things out.

Now I'm back where I was before having to frog-about an inch of ribbing and starting on the leg.

I still managed to cross stitches after doing that-but only had to tink back one needle since I happened to think to look, then something told me to look back further and I'll be damned if I didn't have an extra YO on the previous needle. The explanation for that is twofold-trying to knit without having my morning coffee yet and going into a completely new rhythm with the yarn.

Now, what the devil did I mean by that last comment? Well, when you're double knitting and want to keep your two pieces separate, you have a certain rhythm that you knit with to keep the yarns from crossing-I was using one rhythm for the ribbing, so now I had to switch to an entirely different one with the stockinette leg. It's the same as if you were knitting something flat, like a sweater-you start off with ribbing, then when you move to the body your hands are so used to doing the ribbing that they still want to do ribbing while your brain is telling them no, it's time to do stockinette, and there's bound to be errors until your hands start listening to your brain.

Any knitter who is reading this will know exactly what I'm talking about here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Okay, I said I'd try them, and I did.

Well, I gave the double knitted socks a try to see if I can do it, and I can, although I frogged them after a couple of rounds. It wasn't because I did something wrong, it's because they didn't look like they were going to fit me, so I'm just going to recast on more stitches-if I'm going to make socks, I want them to fit. I did find out that the long tail cast on can be done with both yarns on one needle with no extra hands-and it's much less stressful than trying the knitted cast-on that she does in her Knitty article.

It's really not as hard or nerve-wracking as it may sound from the article either. The only tedious part is doing that first round and keeping your yarns straight. If you look closely, you'll be able to see which stitch is which and which one needs to be worked next if you happen to leave it for any length of time, but a solution to that is to leave off at the end of a needle so that you know where you are.

Anyway, this should be an interesting experience. I'm trying 40 stitches each instead of 32-I have a pretty wide foot, so it shouldn't hurt. I'm using #3 DPNs and Lion Wool yarn in Winter White.

It's actually easier to see where I'm at than I thought it would be-even if I'm in the middle of a needle I can still see at a glance which end I need to use-the WW wool makes it pretty easy to see the front and back pieces. How it would do with sock yarn I have yet to find out, but I might get some sock weight (I.E. baby) yarn and see.

I'll keep a running update on my progress, but so far the hardest part has been joining and knitting the first knit round before starting the ribbing. I will say this-I would go a bit slowly doing the ribbing, as you can easily get confused-especially doing the first round. After that it's much easier as you can see which are knit stitches and which are purl stitches-just remember to keep the yarns from twisting and all should be well.

An amendment: Do not do this if you're going to be distracted by anything-I had to tink back to the first rib row on the third needle instead of using a hook, simply because there were more crossed stitches than I realized. It's all straightened out now, and hopefully I won't do that again. I will definitely only be working on them when I'm not chatting or otherwise distracted by something else. And definitely don't do it if you're tired-that would be the biggest distraction of all. Double knitting requires much more concentration than regular knitting. No, I'm not going to chuck it-it was my own fault, I'm simply going to go from where I left off and chug along-just to say I did it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Double Knitting

I haven't tried the socks yet-I wanted to get into the rythm of double knitting before I tried them. The best way I've found to do something like that is to make something like a scarf, and that's what I'm doing.

So, what is double knitting? Well, it's exactly what it says-you're creating a double thickness of fabric by knitting the front and back pieces at the same time, using different strands of yarn. Until you get the hang of something like that, I would recommend that you use two different colors of yarn so that you can see which is the front and which is the back piece-and I would simply make a two-color, reversible scarf.

Double knitting has been around a long time too-since at least the 1930s or longer, and you can do lots of things with it if you use your imagination. In fact, the link below shows how to do a pair of socks on DPNs using double knitting.

Firstly-the cast-on for double knitting is not as hard as this article says-it is possible to do the continental (long tail) cast-on without the extra hands. I know, I did it-you simply need to add a stitch of Color A, drop your yarn, then add a stitch of Color B, etc. The only thing you need to make sure you do-as she does with her knitted cast-on-is to keep Color A (first color you cast on) to the left, or front, of the needle you're casting onto, and Color B (second color you cast on) to the back of the needle you're casting onto. Also make sure that you're winding the tail of your yarn around your thumb when you make the stitch so that your actual stitch is made with the working end of your yarn-just as if you were doing a normal continental cast-on.

Once you have your stitches cast-on, which really doesn't take that long, you can begin knitting. You should have ended with a B stitch, so you start by knitting that stitch with your B yarn. For the next stitch-which is an A stitch-bring both working ends of yarn to the front, then P the A stitch with the A yarn, then take both strands of yarn back to the back and K the next B stitch with the B yarn. Continue in this manner all the way across. A note on doing this-you will want to twist your two yarns together at the beginning of each row to tie your two pieces of fabric together-which will basically make a tube scarf without having to actually work in the round. Another note-snug up the first stitch of the row a little more to keep it from being too loose when you knit back across the row on the other side.

Another thing to note-don't use a really large needle to double knit-I wouldn't recommend anything larger than maybe a #9 needle because your gauge in double knitting will be looser than regular knitting on the same needles-it's logical-you have a stitch in between each of your other stitches. Another thing I'd recommend is using a circular needle so that you can simply drop your knitting onto the cable when you put it down and it won't slip off.

I know it will feel awkward at first, managing two strands of yarn-especially depending on if you're an English knitter or a Continental knitter. I can knit either way, but I'm most comfortable knitting Continental, and it didn't take too long to get into a rythm with that-and you will too, if you give it half a chance. Like everything else, double knitting takes practice to do proficiently.

For casting off, to keep that end of the tube open, you will need an extra needle in the size you're knitting with-a DPN will work for this. When starting the cast off, knit the first st onto your working needle, then take the spare needle and P the next st onto it. K the next st off with your working needle, then pass the first st over this one and off the needle. Repeat with the other needle and next st, P this time. Continue in this manner until all sts are cast off. Cut yarns and thread through the last sts on needles, pull to tighten, then run the ends through to the inside to hide them. Hide the tails from the cast-on in the same manner. If you want to close the ends of the scarf, do so with fringe.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Several projects on the go

I'm working on a couple pairs of socks-one on dpns and one using Magic Loop. I really should have a circ longer than 16", but since it's a sock, I think I'll manage since I don't have the money to go buy a circ.

I'm also working on a couple of cowls. they'll double as hoods as well. a lot of people also call them wimples, but I like cowl better. I'm using a generic-type one I found on Knitting Pattern Central. Just go to the scarves, and the *Neckwarmer/Wimple. It is in PDF format, so you have to have Adobe Acrobat, or another PDF reader to see it. I doubt I make the increases for the shoulder, I'll see how it fits when I get down there. I'm using some discontinued Bernat Frenzy Yarn I've been trying to find a use for, and a 24" #10-1/2 circ. I CO 100 sts and am just doing st st. I like the way the hood rolled back with the first few rows, and I hope I can find a couple more balls of it stashed away somewhere since I won't be able to purchase any more. If not, I'll probably find something else to use with it.

The next one is going to be one I'm making up-I'll call it Twisted Rib, since that's what I'm doing-twisting the ribs in the 2x1 rib pattern every four rnds. since I'm using RHSS and a 24" #9 circ, I CO 141, and it will still fit pretty snug. I'm liking it already-the twisted ribs give it a really interesting texture.

Lastly, I'm making Dot's Double Crossed Hat. However-working with three strands of WW cotton yarn with a K hook is a bit daunting-and I don't have that much cotton yarn anyway-so I'm using two strands of WW acrylic and an I hook. Yes, I'm having to adjust the pattern a bit, but it's one that seems to be pretty adjustable, so I've added one more inc rnd before starting the crossed sts, and I'm going to add one more rnd of crossed sts before working on the brim. I'll let you know how it turns out. I'm using a bright blue RHSS and a burnt orange acrylic that's unlabeled, so I'm not sure if it's also RH or not-but the two look really nice together. Yes, that means I'm working with a dozen more sts than the pattern calls for, but I think it would hurt my hands even more to be working with three strands of cotton held together and using a K hook.

Edit: When I got to the brim/band, I had to figure some math, since I had quite a few more sts than her 72 (I worked it out so I had 99sts), and came up with 25 sl sts on each side of the brim, 7 sc on each side of the hdcs and 25 hdcs-that seemed to work out pretty right, and it fits my large head pretty well, too.

PS: I almost forgot, I'm doing the Magic Scarf from Crazy Aunt Purl, only I'm using some RH Plush in taupe and #10-1/2 straight needles. It isn't going to be a scarf though-it's going to be a wrap-I CO 60 sts and each section is 10 sts x 10 rows. It's still going pretty fast and is going to be really soft and plushy.

Anyway, back to crocheting-if my achey hands will let me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More on double knitting socks

I tried the cast on for the double knitted socks-the ones I talked about trying, where you do both socks on dpns-and I couldn't for the life of me get the hang of it. I could, however, manage the 'cheat' by using a long tail cast on, putting each sock on a separate needle. I did need an extra dpn for this since my needles come only in four packs, but I do have several sets of #3s.

I think when I finally decide to try this I'm going to use that method as it was much easier to use. I did however mess up and join the whole mess together, so I'm going to wait till I get a few more projects out of the way before I try again-if I can keep myself straight, I think I can do it.