Can you believe how quickly the last two weeks have flown by? If you were participating in the Knitting Olympics (cast on a challenging project with the opening ceremonies and knit your way through the competition), be sure to bring your completed projects this week and we will post a picture to the blog!
As a side note, we will be posting pictures from Northern House where they featured qiviut, or muskox yarn, and gorgeous pieces with fine detail. Qiviut is known for its soft texture, extreme warmth and rarity as it used to be gathered by hand from bushes.
This week, the Knit 1s are taking up the challenge of learning a basic cable. We will be working on a simple cable pattern in an 8×8 square. We will have some cable needles available for sale if you don’t have one. Please bring 4.5 mm needles and worsted weight yarn.
Take 2s will have open knitting this week.
Go for gold!
Yarn over and out,
This week we had the pleasure of welcoming Shirley from Swallow Hill Creations to our group. Shirley bought the company from the previous owners in October (roughly the same time Knit 1, Take 2 started) and met one of our members on the ferry shortly after. She was delighted to hear about our group and even more delighted to come by and do a quick workshop on beaded knitting.
Both groups enjoyed her demonstration of beaded knitting and seeing her beautiful products. Bead knitting looks complicated however with a few tips, can be done fairly easily. The secret is in your preparation. Your yarn must be strung with sufficient beads for the project before you start your knitting. This process may take some time depending on the number of beads you are going to be using in the pattern. Shirley has her husband do this part of the work for her! Once the beads are strung on the yarn, the only tricky part is to keep your work untangled. Shirley suggests using a small bowl to hold your work.
Shirley demonstrated a simple scarf pattern but the results were spectacular. The pattern created a simple mesh fabric with beads on every other row. While Shirley used a rayon for this scarf, you can use any fiber that is thin enough to allow you to string the beads. The beads that Swallow Hill carries come in three sizes – 6, 8, and 10. The number denotes how many beads you get to the inch – just like your swatch gauge – and the smaller the number, the larger the bead. Shirley also recommended using circular needles for your work as you can slide your stitches to the nylon in the center and not worry about losing them.
When you’re ready to actually place a bead onto your work, slide it either onto the stitch or between them, depending on what the pattern calls for. The stitches themselves will hold the bead in place. This is why it is necessary to string the beads in the beginning. Since you are creating a series of inter-connected loops, it would be impossible to string beads once you have cast on your first row of stitches. Once you get the knack of working with the beads, you could use them anywhere in your knitting. You could have a project where the beads are the main focus or one where they are an accent on a neckline or sleeve cuff.
Shirley also showed examples of using beaded knitting to create jewelery. She had a very clever necklace/bracelet combination that could make a necklace and bracelet or a long necklace. If you are interested in finding out more about beaded knitting and the endless possibilities with it, you can click on the link at the top of this post to go to the Swallow Hill website. The site is being re-designed and updated with new patterns in the very near future so be sure to check back often.
Yarn over and out.
The Knit 1s are now well into their hat project. Some have even gotten to the point where the decreasing to shape the crown of the hat begins. As the excitement of the completion of the project grows, we now get to a little obstacle. As we decrease the number of stitches on the circular needle, the remaining stitches are no longer able to reach around the needle. There are basically three ways to solve this and the one you choose is simply a matter of personal preference.
Four Double Pointed Needles – the first method developed for knitting in the round was using four double pointed needles (DPs or DPNs). First, divide the stitches evenly between three double pointed needles. If you think about it as if you were using two needles, the fourth needle becomes your second needle for each section. Since you can only use two needles at a time, it’s just like regular knitting. You simply knit the stitches off one needle at a time and once this needle becomes empty, use it to knit with the next needle in the circle. The advantage of this method is that as you decrease the number of stitches, you have less stitches on each needle and nothing else changes.
Two Circular Needles – Another way of dealing with decreasing stitch counts is to divide your work evenly on two similar sized circular needles (the lengths can be different). Once the work is on two circulars, you’re really at the same point you’re at when using 4 DPs – look at each tip of the circulars as a needle. By looking at it this way, the knitting process becomes simple. First, slide the stitches just worked to the nylon on the circular needle. This is your “limbo” or resting area. Now slide the stitches to be worked to the tip of the needle they are on. This is your “working” area. Using the tip of the other circular needle, knit the stitches on your working needle. Now you have all the stitches on one circular with the nylon being pulled between them (looped) and keeping them separate. This now allows you to use the empty circular needle to knit the next set of stitches and bring you back to where you started. Repeat this process as necessary to get to the end of your project.
The Magic Loop – this method uses just one circular needle. In it, you simply pull the nylon between the stitches about halfway through your work. The work will now be sitting on the tips of your circulars. Slide the last set of stitches worked to the nylon and work the other set of stitches with the now empty tip of the circular. As you repeat this process, you need to also adjust the nylon by pulling it through the stitches and putting a twist into it so that the stitches don’t come together. While this method is a little trickier, it is the most convenient in that you are only using one needle. With a little practice, it may very well become your favorite. See the last diagram of Two Circular Needles for a look at what the Magic Loop looks like.
Yarn over and out,
One of the decisions you have to make when designing a sweater is what kind of a sleeve to have. Figuring out the armholes on the body of the sweater is dependant on the sleeve design. This week, we looked at two options and will cover another two next week.
Drop shoulder – the simplest of the armholes to make because there really is no shaping for it. Basically, your sleeves will start off your shoulder and lay straight along the side of the body of your sweater. If you pick up your favorite sweatshirt and look at it, you’ll notice it’s probably a drop shoulder design. The sleeves have no shape at the seam with the body and are practically straight.
Raglan – A raglan sleeve armhole is a little more complicated, but probably the next easiest to make. The raglan shape starts at the bottom of the armhole and decreases evenly up to the bottom of the neck. Sometimes, there is an initial decrease at the beginning of the armhole to form a “shelf’ for the sleeve to sit on. This is usually done when the sweater is made in pieces and then sewn together. If you make your sweater in the round in one piece, it is usually done with this initial decrease (usually done by casting off x stitches at the beginning of the next 2 rows).
There are advantages and disadvantages to all forms of sleeves/armholes and your choice will ultimately depend on which one best suits your particular need. We will cover two more common armholes next week and then discuss the advantages/disadvantages of all of them.