Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cast Ons, Double Knitting and More

I started blogging 7 years ago (come this summer). And over the years, I have blogged about my life, cooking, my neighborhood, my knitting and my many knitting related obsessions.

I have blogged about knitting in the round, and about leaf designs (a continuing obsession) and written some tutorials; one about knitting in the rounds and one about double knitting.

And of course, I have written about Cast Ons! The Cast On Tutorial now has pages and and pages of information, about Cast Ons, and Bind Offs, and Selvages. Oh, it still needs work, (it will always need work, updates and improvements are a given!)

But the Cast On list, is, (I think) slowing to a halt. I might not have every cast on method, but most. 5 years ago, the list of cast on methods was about 40—since then, it has grown to 60. New cast on methods have been rare. Mostly there are just new variations.

I recently received a request—Can you (anyone) do a twisted version of a long tail cast on, using a knit and purl variation? This isn't really a new cast on, it is just a combination of 2 variations—the Twisted Long Tail and the K and P Long Tail.

I knew it could be done, and said as much, but the inquiring mind was a visual learner.. and while she understood in theory that it could be done, she couldn't quite master the details.

So, a new video and new variation of the long tail cast on: The Twisted Long Tail Cast On, worked in Knitsand Purls. Not really a new cast on, just a new variation of a well known one.

I haven't (yet) worked out how to do this for the MAINE variation. The Maine cast on is a “thumb” version of the twisted long tail... (vs the sling shot variation of the twisted long tail)--but if any one else has, I would love to see it.
For the past few days, instead of knitting, I have been writing and editing. I copied a number of the posts I made about double knitting, and put them together into a tutorial. The result is  the beginning of a complete tutorial to Double Knitting--made from  14 pages of  text, scatter over a month of blog posts.

These 14 pages then got divided into 10 parts—making each part a much more manageable chunk of information, and allowing easier navigation and the ability to easily skip parts.Some photos and links to videos have been added. But there is still work to do (lots more work!) —the list of resources isn't anywhere near complete, and there are many missing links in some sections. 

It's a lot of work, but I like the work.

I have stated goals for the year—New designs, and new patterns, more videos, and improving my web page. I feel good that I am making progress on all three fronts.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Continuing My Goal--

I have just completed another new video. My newest YouTube video is the Half Double Knit Garter Stitch...

At first glance it looks like a standard garter--but it's not, and while it has of the characteristics of a garter stitch; non rolling, same on each side, compact row gauge, it is actually more compact than a standard garter stitch, and thicker, and plusher.

The swatch starts out in Half Double Knit garter stitch, then switches to seed stitch, (repeats of R1) and changes to real garter stitch, and then finally returns to Half Double Knit Garter Stitch.

The changes make it very clear that Half Double Knit Garter has a significantly different row and stitch gauge. It's harder to see that the stitch is also thicker, but works a few rows for your self and you'll quickly see (and feel) how much thicker and plusher this stitch is.

Half Double Knit Garter Stitch
3 row pattern, worked over a multiple of 2
R1: * P1, K1. Repeat across row
R2: * K1, slip the knit stitch Repeat across row
R3: * K1, slip the purl stitch Repeat across row
For rows 2 and 3, keep the yarn at the back of the work. And slip the stitches purlwise.

Rows 2 and 3 are basically the same, but.. K1, Sl1 makes its a little hard to keep track of which row you are on.. K1, Slip the knit and K1, slip the purl help you distinguish the 2 rows. And makes it easier (for me at least!) to keep track of which row is being worked.

The edges of the work can be a bit raggedy. An I cord selvage helps create a finished look—if the edges aren't going to be seamed.

Half double knit garter stitch with I cord edging.
3 row pattern, worked of a multiple of 2, Plus 6—I like to place markers (first 3 and last 3 stitches) to make it easy to keep track of the i-cord stitches.
(if you want a more prominent I-cord, increase K3/slip 3 to 4 or 5 stitches)
R1: K3, * P1, K1. Repeat across row, end row with by slipping last 3 stitches
R2: K3, * K1, slip the knit stitch Repeat across row, end row by slipping last 3 stitches
R3: K3* K1, slip the purl stitch Repeat across row, end row by slipping last 3 stitches

For rows 2 and 3, keep the yarn at the back of the work. And slip the stitches purlwise.

I really like this stitch. There are some very nice patterns from EZ that are worked it garter stitch (one of her favorite stitches.) I often dislike them, because I tend to like snug cuffs—and many garter stitch patterns tend to be boxy—Sleeves are straight, (or just slightly tapered) tubes, and sweaters, too, tend to have boxy lower edges. The half double knit garter allow you to have snug cuffs, that, at first glance are garter too. The stitch is stretchy—but returns to its smaller size.

This stitch is great for garter stitch slippers, too. Tighter, and thicker, it holds its shape better. Being thick and plusher it feels good under your feet.

I think it would be great for floor/bath mats, too. I've made thick plush bath mats out of worsted weight cotton, but this stitch is thicker and plusher... and just as reversible. It would be slower to knit, but I think it would be worth the extra effort.

I am sure I haven't of half or even a quarter of the ways to use this stitch—I am sure there are many applications I haven't thought of.   

Monday, February 23, 2015

From A Cold

To a sinus infection, and now, almost better, a stye. The frigid weather being no help at all! My apartment is warm enough (last year there was an issue with not enough heat), but not feeling well and cabin fever are a bad combination.

I was out last Thursday—and since then, the weather has been cold, cold, and colder. Most days the HIGH for the day has been in the 20's (that is 20°F!) and nights in the single digits.

I have been sluggish—but I have gotten something done.

First the socks.. slow progress here, but progress all the same. I hated the first attempt at a mock cable and couldn't be bothered to frog—these are just every day socks, and most of what was knit will be covered by my shoes, so I just switch patterns. A simple traveling cable—easy enough and it works.

I have one completed diamond, and at 6.5 inches, I am coming to the point where I have to make a decision about the heel. If I am going to do an after thought heel, I need to start the small side gussets I always use to give a bit more ease. I have a high instep, and with out something, the sock will be tight and uncomfortable.

I tend to like after thought heels for self striping yarns—I dislike a F/T/G heel—since it plays havoc with the striping pattern. There are other options, but these too have side effects. Well it seems I have already made a decision—an after thought heel it is.

I have been working on my web page too. I have added some raw text the the section on double knitting, and adding a new video, too. I'll be working on fixing up the text with links, and images. Organizing the information to make it easier to use. 90% of the text comes from old blog posts I've made about double knitting. There was over lapping information, and patterns and images. It is a bit better, but it still needs lots of work to make it useful and easy to navigate.

This info is being edited, organized, and sectioned. Internal sub pages (with links to and back to main menu) will make navigating easier.

The new video is a demo of half double knitting. Some of you have seen half double knitting in action—commercial swatches (found in big box craft stores) are sometimes done in half double knitting. It looks like stocking knit, but its is a fabric that doesn't curl. The key is the appearance of the back of the swatch—which doesn't look “normal”.

Like all double-knitting, it uses more yarn. I like half double-knitting for button bands on seam less sweaters, but it has other uses: soles of knitted slippers, or straps on market bags, or palms of mittens. It's good any place you need an extra layer for durability want a slightly thicker, slightly denser bit of knitting for some reinforcement.

Half double knitting comes in 2 “flavors”: Ribbed, and garter stitch. You can find my video, (half double knit ribbing) and tutorial (not mine) of the half double knitting garter at the top of the page right now. I'll be making a video of the half double-knit garter stitch soon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Step 3 Is Still On Hold

But the mistake in the socks has been repaired, and between my frequent naps, I have gotten a few round done... a hardly noticeable amount, but something. I think its the flu, rather than a cold, I have minimal nasal congestion, and almost no cough, but I am achy and fevery but not too bad. Well, not too bad so long as I keep warm, get 10 hours sleep at night, and 2 daytime naps. I wake to eat and drink fluids, and then rest till I take a nap.

I take aspirin at night to sleep, but I manage 2 day time naps with no effort. I have a stock of soup—and lemons and honey. And plenty of vitamin C drops—which don't cure anything—but I think they are a useful anti oxidant—and inflammation and infections do release free radicals, upping your body's need for anti oxidants

So I will lay low and take all the rest I need. I won't venture out—there really is no reason to—until the winds die down, and the temperature comes up (at least to something close to normal (ie, above freezing!) )--which won't be til the weekend!

I got a load of dishes done, too. Had to. I had run out of bowl for soup and hot oatmeal (my breakfast the past few days. Now I have lots of clean bowls ready to fill again with hot, healing soup.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Step 2—Big, Very Big

But not, I think, too big.

The sewn up slippers are about 10 inches long at the sole, from tip to top and while that is very big, the girls have big feet about 6 inches long. So once they felt up and shrink.. the slipper shoes should be about the right size.. a little big maybe, but not huge.

We'll have to want and see, though, won't we?  Once I know, I will make a second pair.

I remember seeing slipper's like this, 2 computers ago—and several browser ago. The bookmark to the site was lost somewhere in the upgrades. (or crashes). I went looking and found the site, Frugal Haus Knitting—Now with a huge friendly easy to use web page—and many of their free patterns a bit harder to find.

The pattern I remember was one constructed of individual blocks of garter stitch –Frugalhaus had dozens of pattern constructed from garter stitch blocks of various sizes. The idea was make up the garter squares with your scraps and partial skeins, and then, sew them together to make hats or mittens or slippers or place mats (or dozens of other items)between projects, using the squares.  

There was a huge collection of things to make...

The pattern I used was a much improved version—a it's based on blocks (# stitches X # garter ridges)--(so 9 X 9, or 11 X 11, or 13 X 13...) but the blocks are knit together from the get go.  These slippers are  3 blocks X 1 topped with 5 blocks X 1—a total of 8 blocks per slipper, with minimal seaming, since the blocks are pre-joined.  

One seam actually—A long zigzag one finished them.   Too big to actually be sewn comfortable in one go; you'd need a yard of yarn to pull through those first stitches. And all the seams are on the top of the slipper--making it comfortable to walk on.. I went up a needle size (to make a loose fabric for fulling/felting) but I bet I could go down a size to a US6/4mm needle and make a tight dense garter fabric,  and just leave the slippers as they are--and they would work almost as well.

I likely won't get them felted today—I felt a little off yesterday, but today, fever and cough, stuffy nose, headache, the whole 9 yards of a cold –its a day to sit back and keep warm, to rest and take care of myself.

With rest, and soup, and other hot fluids, I should be fine again in a day or two.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Step 1

Knitting: DONE

Last night I was 7/8th done, and ran out of yarn...I hadn't started with a full skein, and had another, but had to rummage through the stash to find it. So the last few rows were completed this morning.

The results are HUGE. I think I made the wrong size. But too big is better than too small, and I have seen some felted objects shrink down to almost half size, so maybe they are not too big. But they sure look like it right now!

The pattern comes in a range of sizes—from -1, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, +1 (or if you prefer, 21) and +3 (or 23)--My slippers are size 3. I wasn't sure if I should make size 1 or size 3, and decided on size 3. If they end up too big after felting, the girls can grow into them. Too small, and well, that is the end of that.

So I went bigger, and I'll see in a few days whether I went too big or not.

Step 2—Coming up next, sewing each of the stacks into a slipper. Some what like the baby surprise sweater, the knitting gets folded, and seamed, and something that doesn't look at all like a slipper, magically becomes one.

This is the hardest part—I will need markers, and uninterrupted time to get this done, but fortunately there isn't much sewing to do.

Step 3-- Will be the felting. I am at a disadvantage here, I don't own my own washer, and have to use what is available—Fortunately, it is a top loading washer, and hot water in the building is really HOT. It cools a bit as it rises up in the pipes, but the laundry room is right next to the furnace/water heaters—and the laundry room water is scalding hot. The washer cycles are all the same length, but there is a heavy setting for denim, and gentle setting (with much less agitation) (with 2 other setting between these) so I should get good felting with just a single wash. I might pre-sock in cold water and then shock them by adding them to the hot water...

I'll plan on getting up early and trying tomorrow AM. I might toss them in the drier, too if I think they need it. (it has to be early or late afternoon—Saturday is a busy laundry day.)

Once I am done, I will evaluate, and plan for the next pair (or pairs). I still need to pick up a tube of silicon caulking too, for the soles. These slipper shoes will be good for wearing in the stroller, and for walking about indoors—but indoors for them means slick hardwood floors. Non slip footwear is a must.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


A little here, a little there, every where a little progress, E, I, E,I,O... Can you tell Old McDonald was yesterdays favorite song?

First—the girls liked there mittens enough not to pull them off—not once. It was cold yesterday, and that likely helped, but their mother pulled off her mittens all the time—even on the coldest days. Even before they put them on, they played with them—happy with the jingle bells.

I wimped out on the I-c

ord for inside the coat. I made 30 inches, (9 inches for each sleeve, (18) plus 9 inches more for the back + 3 more inches for ease—and I really could have added more.. 33 to 36 inches would have been better. There was enough—but there isn't much ease at all.

I got a few rounds done on the sock--made a mistake, and will have to repair that today—last night on the bus wasn't the place! I am not going to frog—I will just drop down the half dozen stitches involved, pick them up with a spare needle and reknit just the ones I messed up—the mistake is 2 rows back, so I really need a spare needle—Yet another reason the first repair it tried made a worse mess!

I didn't repair last night—I was too tired to think clearly—so I started on the first (trial) pair of booties.
These are simple—rows and rows of garter stitch! I am 3/8th done with this first pair—Fast work!

They are going to be felted, and while I know that Paton's Classic wool (in this case, Merino Wool!) will felt up nicely, I haven't done much felting, and don't have a real sense of 'this' will shrink about this much—I am working blind. Partly because I am recreating a pattern that some one else also recreated (I know the original pattern)—and I don't have all the details.. Knitting loose and felting is a much better choice (the original pattern called for a very snug, tightly knit garter stitch.)

I am re-engineering them for my self. I would buy the pattern if it was a stand alone, but it's from a book, and I am not sure I want a whole books worth of felted slipper patterns, (even thought the proceeds from the sale of the book are going to a good cause).

So here is the start—a polychrome wool that I wasn't very happy with—but will be good enough for felted footware. I like the way the yarn is working up so far. First off, garter, with worsted wool and big needles (sizeUS10/6mm) knits up quick—and it actually offers a change from fine needles.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Has Mittens

Mittens with cuffs, deep cuffs, that fold and fill up the sleeve opening, and block drafts

Mittens with thumbs, mostly useless on a mittens for 1 year olds, but it's what my DD wanted.

I have mittens with jingle bells on them so they tinkle when the girls wave or just move there hands a little bit.

Mittens that match their little hoods, (which might get their own jingle bells).

Mittens with I-cord holding the pairs together, so they won't be pulled off by little babies and lost. (Well, not quite, I have I-cord—but not enough yet, and I haven't sewn it into the mittens yet.)

Lovely little mittens, for lovely little girls.

And I have socks—well toes and little bit more of socks that jumped on to a pair of needles when I wasn't looking. I wasn't able (no not really, I was lazy) to find a pattern I liked for the socks, so I am winging it. A little side cable, and a larger mock cable up the instep...

Next I'll have some booties... You just wait and see!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Almost Mittens

I still want to knit some more cuff. The Girls have lovely little coats, but the sleeves of the coats don't have knit cuffs inside (which can be a pain to get little hand through, but do act as blocks to drafts). So ideally the mittens should have deep cuffs, long enough to fold back.

I have about 2 inches now, and need at least another half inch, if not a full one. One sock has the cuff folded back, and it is still to short for my liking. So there isn't much left to do—just an inch of cuff, and the thumbs.

The little flash of yellow is some waste yarn marking the thumb position. I'll undo the waste yarn to start the thumbs The thumbs will be short and fast to knit.   Partly because baby thumbs are so tiny, they are worked in stocking knit –a faster stitch than 2 by 2 ribbing, and finally, because the mittens are little puff balls, the thumbs will be just a few rounds of work. The mittens look like flat round lollipops, but aren't-- they are little puff balls—with plenty of room for the girls to ball up their fists-- and even grab things (without putting their thumbs int the thumb hole).

After these are done, a pair of slippers—that I am not going to swatch--(living dangerously!) even thought I plan to felt the slippers (and don't have a clear idea how much they will shrink up, when I do!)

I am going for a larger size, thinking too big is better than too small. And I'll see how it goes..After the first pair, there will be a second.. and maybe a third or fourth—and maybe even one for me!

I'll need a small tube of silicon caulking to make the bottoms non slip... but I think even the local drug store stocks that!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Double Duty

I baby sat twice this week—which has seriously cut into my knitting time—Some thing I normally wouldn't mind in the least (and in truth, really didn't mind) but no knitting meant no progress on the girls mittens!

I did a little on the bus, coming and going—so I am a round or two away from making a thumb hole. I think the idea of thumbs on mittens for one year old's, (or two year olds, since these will see some service next year) is silly—but I am indulging my daughter.

Tuesday I did early evening babysitting—Momma went out, and Daddy wasn't home yet from work, and we girls had dinner and quietly played together. I watched Jeopardy, --(I really like the show) and we had fun getting one question right.. I forget the exact wording, but it was something like “These fruits are found in a nursery rhyme about London Church bells” and no none of the panelist knew the answer, but I sang out to the girls, We know that! Oranges and lemon!

Oranges and lemon say the bells of St. Clemons,
You owe me 5 farthings, say the bells of St Martins
When will you pay me says the bell at Old Bailey,
When I get rich, says the great bell at Ditch..

The girls dance and sang too, (even if they didn't quite get the words right)

There are, I have learned, more verses but this is the only one I know. I learned this song pre-school. It one of several songs I sing to the girls.
We sing “Its raining it pouring, the old man is snoring”, and “My bonnie lies over the ocean, my bonny lies over the sea” and "London bridges, falling down, falling down, London Bridges falling down, my fair lady”
All these and other songs.

The songs of my childhood, children's that have been sung for a few hundred years in the English language tradition.

There is nothing wrong with the new modern songs of Disney (yes there is!) but I want my grandchildren to know the old traditional songs, too.

So meanwhile, back to my double duty mittens—all 4 are being knit at once! In the same acrylic yarn as their hoods. No pattern, just little lollipop shapes, which will end in a deep ribbed cuff. They will have strings sewn on, too, so they won't get lost.

I have seen many patterns for children's mittens knit in worsted weights, but I like these fine knit mittens better. The Hoods were knit on size 4 needles, with size 3 for the ribbing, these are being worked on size 3's from start to finish. The fabric is dense, but still flexible. The mittens will be slightly bigger than their hands, so I think they will be plenty warm.  It was mild yesterday, (42°) but it will be cold again today, and tomorrow (12°(f)) and there will be cold days all of February (which is always the coldest month of winter--no matter what the thermometer says.

Monday, February 02, 2015

My Goals for 2015

Are simple; Knit more, document more, and video more.

So January was a success. I completed 3 projects, a pair of socks, a cowl and hat.
I completed documenting one pattern, and I have a second one almost ready to post.
And I have uploaded one new video.

Not a bad start. Now I just have to keep it up.

The first pattern for this year is the hat I just completed—the Double Knit Diamonds Hat.
Note, the link will open a new window and take you to my Ravelry store—and you can also find a link on my web page, too.

I haven't done much in the past two day, but, I know February will be just as successful.

One other goal for January was to do some knitting for my self.... I love my granddaughters, and love swathing them in wool, but I also want to knit for me! And all three of my projects were for me. Well, the hat? I actually gave it away, (and I plan to knit another one to keep as a sample) but I wanted to knit a hat to give away... I got real joy sharing it.

I am starting February with booties and mittens—today is another sub freezing say, and there are a few more predicted for the week. The girls do have some mittens, but none are hand knit. I am thinking some plain white ones, with some add ons—a snap and knitted rose to snap on, or a knitted heart, and for next month, a knitted shamrock.

The booties I am planning on will be knit and felted, and then will be treated with silicon soles to make them on slip. Frequently, they go out, only to go somewhere else (in) from home to the library, or form home to a party, or from home to a restaurant (these girls have a very active social life!) Right now, they are not spending a lot of time walking about out of doors, or at the play ground. So they don't need real shoes (they have some) but do need some protection for their feet... Non-slip protection.