Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tutorial, provisional cast on without scrap yarn

I'm a big fan of the provisional cast on. It works perfectly, if you need to attach the cast-on edge to anything in the rest of your knitting, such as a picot edge, and it is essential in the tubular cast on. But what I don't like is working with scrap yarn in the cast on, and especially pulling it out from the provisional afterwards. (I may or may not have a pair of socks with a picot edge, where one of the socks still after years of wearing has the scrap yarn in it -it's on the inside and not visible...)

I have worked out a way to eliminate the scrap yarn, using the cable of a circular needle. I was using my method in another Tychus hat (free pattern in a 2005 Knitty by Brooke Higgins), and thought I'd do a little tutorial on the cast on. I know some people don't mind sewing pieces together, and good for them, but I'm not one of those people, and if I can do it with a 3-needle bind off or some other method, I will. But to do that, I need a provisional cast on. On the other hand, using the scrap yarn method and having to remove it is at least as much of a pain as sewing the cast-on and bind-off edges together so that you lose the benefit of the 3-needle bind off.

First you need a circular needle with a sufficiently long and pliable cord. Make a slip knot and slide it on one of the needles. Hold the needles so that they point in the same direction, and pull the lower needle (the needle with no yarn) out so that you are holding the cord.

Holding needle as you would when you knit (I'm using my left hand to hold it only because my right hand is holding the camera) alternate wrapping the yarn over the needle (just like a regular yarn over) on top/in front of the cord and under/behind the cord. Do as many yarn overs as you need stitches for your project. Never mind the wraps on the cord -you will worry about those much later.

Now you will turn your work, leave the bottom stitches (the "hibernating stitches") hanging out on the cord, and knit your project as usual with the stitches that are on the needle (the "working stitches"). Here's what my Tychus looked like after a couple of hours. I started from the green side, and finished on the red side (the yarn is Lion Brand "Amazing" in color Mauna Loa). See the loop of cord between my working stitches and the hibernating stitches?

After you're all done, use a 3-needle bind off from the wrong/under side (or knit the stitches together, depending on what you're doing).

Here's what it looks like on the right side. I drew an arrow where the seam is, otherwise you can't even tell (except maybe from the color change from red to green).

Now finish it off with a pom-pom and twist cords, and voila! I also crocheted around the ear flaps to even out the edges.

This method also works in the round in things like socks or bottom-up hats and sweaters, but can be a little tricky, and will be easier (possible?) to do, if you use a second circular to hold the hibernating stitches.

My modifications on the Tycus: I knit 5 sections instead of 6, and in the bottom of two of them I increased 3+3+2+1+1 stitches for the ear flap and then decreased the same symmetrically. The width of the ear flap is the same as one section, and the front is two sections and the back is one. And then I of course added the pom-pom and the cords. I cast on 40 stitches and the shortest short row was 24 stitches. In the ear flaps the middle rows end up being 34 stitches.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

he'll want some jam to go with it...

And if you give a girl a hat, she'll (naturally) want some mittens to go with it! There may be no end to the demand of knitted girly items now, but I'm not complaining. Knitting for girls is so much fun! The endless possibilities of colors and designs... bring it on!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Twin Peaks

Long time, no see, eh? I promise I haven't quit, I've just been busy! Here's a pictorial presentation of knitter in law school:

"Oh, but wait!" you're thinking. "That's lace yarn... there's no way she was reading two books, studying her notes and writing an outline while working on a lace project!" And you'd be right. This picture may give you a false impression of what's doable... but it's not completely staged! I was using the lace project to calm my mind and cool my brain, while taking a break from reading. Knitting and reading is just fine, but lace and reading don't go so well together. Mostly my knitting has been simple things like socks, and such. I also started Mara, which is perfect for reading with all that garter stitch.

Fortunately, part of the fun of law school is a looong Christmas break. Like, really long! I don't remember the last time I had 4 (yes, four) weeks off! I've been relaxing and recharging and doing all kids of things that I haven't had time to do during the fall. (Although looking at the condition of the apartment, you'd think I've been too busy to even pick up dirty clothes off the floor... oops.) I don't want to abandon the blog, and I'll try to post here, when I get pictures taken of knitterly things that I've completed since the finals were over. And maybe even before finals were over.

The latest project was the Twin Peaks:

Hats for a friend's twin girls (age 9), head circumference about 50 cm. I used left over yarns from my stash, and made up the designs on the fly.

The red/gold hat is made of Tahki Donegal Tweed and Malabrigo Silky Merino. There is a two-inch lining on the inside of the Malabrigo to prevent itching and to keep the ears warm.

The purple hat is Malabrigo Merino Worsted, one of my all time favorite yarns. In this one the picot edge is about an inch and a half tall, also to keep the ears warm and toasty. The embroidery and tassle are Louet Riverstone.