Wow. Over a month since my last post. Not good. I apologize and plead an attack of real life, including work deadlines, multiple snowstorms, and other consumers of discretionary time.
Still, I have not been entirely idle. There has been knitting. Double knitting, to be precise:
The dog jacket is actually a combo of knitting and sewing, with a polar fleece rectangle being the base of the garment, edged out with a knitted rib collar and chest section, plus a bit of ribbing to gather the hind part somewhat. If folk are interested, I’ll post a more detailed method description so others can make one, too.
And on to more knitting. I’m currently working on an Entrelac tunic pullover, from a commercial pattern by Sarah James. This is the second pattern I’ve done by that designer, the first being her Autumn Leaf pullover. I’m using Noro Taiyo yarn, an Aran weight variegated made in Japan, that has a very improvised and rustic Raku-ware look to it. The yarn I’ve chosen is slightly heavier than the heavy worsted/Aran weight yarn specified, although they have the same native gauge. This is not turning out to be a problem for me because I want my finished product to be slightly larger than the larger of the two provided sizes.
At this point I’ve finished the sleeves, the center back panel of Entrelac, and am now on the center front panel. The construction of this piece is slightly unusual. First the (mostly) rectangular fancy-work panels are knit, then the interstitial parts making up the sides of the sweater or back of the sleeve are picked up and worked from the rectangles. These extra bits are done in seed stitch, and are then bound off against another Entrelac panel. This (plus the Aran weight gauge) makes for quick execution. I just started on Saturday evening.
I have not done the ribbing at the cuff because I may want to do all the ribbings in a complementary solid color, possibly charcoal grey, because I am not fond of the stripy/spotty look of variegated in ribbed stitches.
Over the past few months I’ve gotten a few inquiries from folks who want to stitch up my Lord Ganesh piece. I don’t issue it as a kit or fully laid out project chart. For one, the outline isn’t mine. It’s a coloring page I found on line. But here’s a run-down of the piece, plus identification of the various sources and fills I used. All the fills are in Ensamplario Atlantio – my free collection of blackwork geometrics available elsewhere on this site.
Fabric: I used a 32-count not-so even weave linen-cotton blend. My piece was a rectangle about 12 inches wide, and about 16 inches long, but the motif itself as-stitched was only 8 inches across from lotus-leaf tip to lotus-leaf tip at its widest diameter.
Thread: I used DMC six-strand cotton floss, Color #498. I used two strands to stitch the counted fillings, and three strands for the simple chain stitch outlines. I am not sure how much I used, but three skeins should be plenty for the entire project.
Needle: I used a ball-point needle intended for sewing knits to work the fillings. If I am using only one or two plies of standard embroidery floss, the small eye makes for less “thread drop,” and the rounded tip slides between rather than pierces the ground cloth’s weave. I think I used a #26 or #28 embroidery sharp for the chain stitch.
Stitch count: I worked the counted fillings over 2×2 threads of the ground, yielding a worked stitch count of about 16 stitches per inch. However my ground cloth was not exactly even weave, so you can see a bit of north-south distortion, and fillings that were supposed to be square ended up a bit stretched in that dimension.
Pattern sources: The outline pattern – a coloring book page found here. Coloring books are a great source for simple line drawings suitable for use in embroidery of all types. For the fillings – all are in Ensamplario Atlantio, my free on-line pattern collection.
1. I retrieved the coloring page and enlarged the image so that it was about 8 inches wide. I used a graphics program to do the enlargement, although if you do not have access to one, a simple print followed by enlargement on a photocopier would work quite nicely.
2. I taped the pattern print-out to a sunny window, then taped the fabric on top of it. I traced the pattern onto my cloth. I used a plain old pencil – all I had at hand at the time. I did not bother to edge the cloth prior to tracing or stitching.
I did not use tape or overcasting to prevent fraying. The reason I didn’t is that I knew this would be a very quick little project for me, and took less than a week, start to finish. I didn’t see the need. If you think it will take you longer to do, you may wish to do something to preserve the ground cloth and limit fraying. Hemming, basting, overcasting, tape, serging – all methods have their proponents and one may be right for you.
3. Using an embroidery hoop, and starting in the center of the piece, I began to work counted fillings in the design’s fields. I chose them as I went along, and did a very rough centering of each design in the space provided by eyeballing the shape and sticking a straight pin into the visual focus of it, then using that indicated point for the center of the chosen geometric filling.
In some cases where the tight curves of the shapes didn’t align exactly with the grid of my design, I used half-stitches to eke out the edges, so that the geometrics would totally fill the shape areas. I started and ended each shape individually, and did not strand my working thread from one to the next, in order to prevent “show through.” I also tried to stitch using double sided-double running stitch logic as much as possible, but I did not cling to it. My piece has knots and ends, and is NOT reversible.
4. After each shape was filled, I used plain old chain stitch to go around its perimeter. This hid all “rough edges” that result when geometric fillings are used in curved shapes. The chain stitch was NOT worked on the count.
5. When the entire piece was finished – all fillings complete and all outlines complete – I went back and did Italian hem stitching to neaten up the edges of my cloth. This actually took longer to do than the rest of the project.
Here is a clean picture of Lord Ganesh for reference; plus one with the fillings numbered, followed by a list of the Ensamplario Atlantio design numbers for each filling used.
Ensamplario Atlantio Pattern Key
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 34:199
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 12:68
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 33:196
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 10:59
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 6:34 – one swirly star from the center of the repeat only.
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 11:64
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 7:39 – same used for both eyes.
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 16:94, lower leftmost
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 7:40
- EnsAtl Part 1, Plate 3:17 – made this one up on the fly and have no record of it. Use this one instead.
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 19:109
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 27:161
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 7:42
- EnsAtl Part 1, Plate 1:4
- EnsAtl Part 1, Plate 4:23 – worked sideways
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 16:93
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 13:74
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 31:182
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 25:147
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 8:43
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 14:84 – but done single stitch instead of double (off count)
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 17:98 – but just x in the centers, not boxed-x
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 12:70
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 22:129
I hope this helps those who want to make their own stitching of Lord Ganesh.
We’ve got columns up and down, and rows across. Bingo!
A simple double-eyelet lace pattern from the first Duchrow book. Knitting on modular-style using the pull-loop method I learned doing the Forest Path entrelac stole. The same large-eyelet edging I invented to use with my Motley scrap yarn blanket. And a measly 10 evenings of knitting time, using US #10 needles and 5 skeins of worsted weight Plymouth Encore Colorspun. A lightning project if ever there was one.
Two progress status reports today!
First is the Trifles sampler, in progress as a dorm gift to Younger Daughter, who will need such a thing in a year or so. (I have given myself lots of time for completion). As you can see, the motto is finished, using four different alphabets from Ramzi’s Sajou collection. I’ve played with them somewhat, working in the gold color accents, which are not marked as a secondary color on the charts.
I have also stitched in two small Daleks, to comply with her request, stitched in gold and off white silks. I am up to the surround now. I had originally planned to stitch lots of linear strips, patterns from my upcoming book, but as I alluded to before – I have been seized by Another Idea. The small stitched area just getting underway next to the T of TRIFLES is the beginning. I am going to make an interlocking and overlying mesh of gears of various sizes and configurations, each outlined in a heavier non-counted stitch, but filled in using the geometrics found in my Ensamplario Atlantio. I’ll be using coordinating fall colors for these – a bit of the brown and gold from the alphabet, but also cranberry, silver, and possibly a deep green. The total effect should be rather Steampunk, and a lot of fun.
However as much fun as this piece is, necessity intrudes. A friend of mine is welcoming a baby come the turn of the year. She’s expressed a fondness for traditional baby colors, so I am knitting up a small baby blanket for her. It will be car-seat and basket sized, not crib or reception size, so it is going quite quickly.
I’m using Encore Colorspun worsted, an acrylic/wool mix for maximum washability, this being a baby blanket and all. I’m knitting it on US 10.5 (6.5mm), which is relatively large for worsted in order to bring out the lacy stitch pattern. The stitch pattern itself is adapted from an 18-stitch-wide strip pattern appearing in Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow, Volume I. I’ve chosen the narrow strip so that the gradual color changes pool, rather than speckling across the rows. I’ve also chosen to work the stripes horizontally because I only have four balls of this yarn. If I had run the piece the long way I might have risked running out before I reached a useful width. By fixing my width, I can keep going until I have just enough to do an edging, or I can find a coordinating pink or off-white Encore for the edging, if there isn’t enough of the graded color yarn. And finally, being a lazy person and not wanting to sew the strips together, I am using the long-loop join method I learned while working Fania Letouchnaya’s Forest Path Stole to knit the strips together as I march along.
Oh, and yes – those are massively long DPNs – about 12 inches long. I really like extra long DPNs for hats and sleeves, and generally don’t use circulars for anything less than 20 or so inches around. As a result I’ve got a collection of these admittedly unusual needles.
When I last wrote, I was just getting underway with my Trifles sampler, a special request from Younger Daughter. Some of you expressed surprise that I don’t plan out these larger stitched projects all at once, graphing them up in their entirety before I start. But I don’t, although this one is shaping up to be a bit less chaotic than my usual process.
To start – here’s what I’ve done so far:
First off, I hemmed all the way around the edge of the cloth. This is something I rarely take time to do, and always regret skipping. It was furiously frustrating – to have the ground in hand but put off stitching, but I steeled myself to it and completed.
Second, I basted lines indicating the centers, north-south and east-west. Long time pal Melisande will smile at this because the thread I always use for this purpose is plain old sewing cotton left over from the bridesmaid’s dress I sewed to wear at her wedding. It’s a pale baby blue – dark enough to be seen on white ground, and light enough to show on dark; non-fuzzing, quick to pull out, and non-crocking.
Yes, when originally stitched the two center lines intersected, but it’s my habit to pick out the guidelines as I no longer need them, so that they don’t get caught up by the embroidery stitches. I determined my center and began from there, removing and clipping my basted guidelines prior to working the cross stitching.
Cross stitching? Yup. Plain old cross stitch for the alphabets on this one. Also for the Daleks, one of which can be seen adjacent to the big “P.”
In this case I have actually graphed up the entire center section that bears the inscription and the offspring-mandated Daleks. Younger daughter prefers symmetry to chaos, and she specifically requested that I do everything I could to align the words neatly.
Now, what to do for the rest of the piece, once the motto is complete…. Originally I thought I’d do more strips from my upcoming book, just for the fun of trying them out. But the late 19th century alphabets in brown and gold silks is giving the piece a particularly steampunk look. Again welcome, since Younger Daughter is a big steampunk fan. I suppose those bands could work, but now I have been seized upon by a Concept, one that has affixed itself to me like a tiny homesick kraken.
Instead of strips, I will probably do this as a montage in inhabited blackwork – the style that features solid outlines, with various shapes filled in using geometric fillings.
Off I fly to draft and cut some standard stencils for my shapes, and to play with their placement. Stay tuned!
Some of each to report.
First, goodbye, this year’s crop of giant grass:
I cut it down with our hand-sickle. Younger Daughter is stripping leaves from the longest stalks. Elder Daughter and she bagged the remains for yard waste recycling, setting aside the best canes for use in next year’s bean trellis. Resident Male took a heavy maul and split the clumps, which after two years unsupervised, were threatening a massive campaign of lawn-conquest. So goodbye grass! Hello, next year’s beans!
Second, Swirly is finished!
I like the way the mitering worked, even on the very narrow green strips. I also used a sawtooth with a ten-row repeat, so I was able to easily fit it around corners, letting the natural splits between the teeth accommodate the direction change. Swirly now goes to Elder Daughter, to replace the last blanket I knit for her, back when she was born.
Third, I can’t just sit. Especially when I am thinking or listening. I have to have something going. So, as a think piece, to keep my fingers occupied, and because I haven’t knit a pair of socks for me in so long my own sock drawer is looking more like a darn-me convention, I finished a quick pair for me.
This was done in Plymouth Happy Choices – a yarn that comes pre-knitted into a long scarf strip, then dyed. The idea is to unravel the thing and re-knit it. Depending on what you make the resulting pattern will be different, and always a surprise. These are standard 72-stitch toe-ups on US #00 needles, with figure-8 toes and short-rowed heels. I started at the same place in the color cycle repeat for both, but you can see that slight variations in dyeing produce fraternal instead of identical twins. I happen to love it, but others may be more fastidious. And yes – there’s a simple double YO diamond detail on the ankles, just for fun.
And another beginning – this time a stitching project.
I begin my Trifles sampler. This is a promised/bespoken piece. I made a sampler for Elder Daughter for her to take with her to her university dorm room. It bore a motto, as a subtle bit of parental nagging, embedded in a loving-hands-from-home wrapper:
Younger daughter is now in 11th grade, and wants one, too.
Here is the materials set – the remainder of the 30-count linen I used for her sister’s, plus a pile of autumn colors chosen from the stash of silk floss I bought in India:
In addition to Amy Schilling’s Dalek (chart at link above), I am using several alphabets from Ramzi’s collection of vintage Sajou and Alexandre leaflets, available at his Free Easy Cross and Pattern Maker website – a fantastic resource that should be better known. You’ll note that for once I’ve actually laid out the motto ahead of time, rather than trust to luck and eyeballing. This is because Younger Daughter is a creature of logic and symmetry. I accommodate her preferences with a bit more precision than I usually use.
More on this project as it develops. This time I’ll try to document what goes into my rather ad-hoc pattern selection decisions, and any tech tips I can.
Fall is after all, a time of endings and beginnings, and my favorite time of year.
It’s not uncommon to find knitting yarns that are twins – products of the same factory, but bought and sold through different distributors. Today’s case in point: Marks & Kattens Fame Trend, and Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock.
Label info for the two varies slightly:
- Poems Sock – 75% wool, 25% nylon, 100g, 420m. Made in Turkey. 28st/36rows = 4in or 10cm on 2-2.75mm needles.
- Fame Trend – 75% wool, 25% polyamide, 100g, 420m. Made in Turkey. 26 st/37rows=4in or 10cm on 3mm needles.
Polyamide and nylon are the same thing, so the only real difference in labeling is the minor difference in gauge, with Poems being marketed at the slightly tighter sock gauge.
It’s clear that there is some difference in the color ranges carried under each label, but in this case I can say that Fame Trend color #666 is exactly the same as Poems Sock color #955. So if you are short one yarn or another, you can try looking for its long-lost twin. You may luck out and find the extra you need.
Now, why was this momentous discovery made? It’s because of Swirly, which has grown to sofa size:
So far I’ve used 1.75 skeins of the green Zauberball, and four of Poems Sock. I had one more skein of Poems, purchased via mail order from Webs. As is common in long repeat variegateds, not every skein is equally bright. My one remaining ball is a bit muddy compared to the others, and I was hoping I would not have to use it. However, you can see that I ran out midway up the second side of my very simple sawtooth edging. I clearly am going to need more…
But not to despair! Albuquerque Nancys to the rescue!
I have a long time pal also named Kim who lives out that way. She’s a knit buddy and life-friend. We’ve even worked side by side for more than a couple employers. When she heard that her two local friends were planning a trip out to Boston, she suggested that they (both named Nancy) and I get together. The Nancys were in the middle of a Great Stash Trim, refocusing their collections on the yarns they wanted to use most. So I ended up being the beneficiary of a bag of onesies and twosies, all sock weight and lace weight – all most beautiful and prime quality. Luck was clearly on my side because not only did I get a treasure that someone had to haul halfway across the country; buried in that treasure were two **perfect** skeins of the Marks & Kattens.
So I can put away my muddy skein of Poems, saving it for future socks. I can finish my sawtooth edging with vibrant color Fame Trend and finally complete Swirly. And best of all, I got to meet the Nancys!
Where have I been?
Since the last post, admittedly almost two months ago, we’ve been re-nesting here in Arlington. The Resident Male returned from India, having done the final closeout of our apartment there, shipped our goods home, and said his goodbyes to friends and co-workers. He and I ran away for a second week on Cape Cod. We re-enrolled Younger Daughter in high school. Elder Daughter and I embarked on job searches. Our household shipment from India arrived, and we started the Great Unpacking. I landed in a great job at CyPhy Works, and have embraced again the daily commute, this time with an added morning detour to the gym.
Now the school year has begun, and we’re almost back on normal routine. There are still pockets of disorder in our living and dining rooms that we are slowly addressing. Our India-bought rugs are back from being cleaned, and are now laid out in their new home. Our kitchen goods have been sorted, with some stowed against future need, and others (like the rolling pin and round cutting/rolling platform hand-made by Driver Rupesh’s father) installed for immediate use. And the chair is back, with the seat cushion redone.
You may remember the chair, with its shoddy seat of fraying satin over a cheese-like block of squishy foam, purchased from Just Antiques in Pune:
Arlington furniture specialists Upholstery on Broadway took the wool tambour embroidered cushion cover I bought in Pune for this purpose, edged it out in brown ultrasuede and crafted this look:
I’m very happy with the result. The curves of the stitched leaves echo the curves of the repurposed carved window treatment that makes up the chair’s back and sides. And it’s quite comfy, too.
What’s on tap now? Dealing with that remaining disorder, craftily kept just off camera in the shot above; settling into the new routine; finishing Swirly – the big lap blanket; and finishing up The Second Carolingian Modelbook. More on all of this in future posts. And I promise you won’t wait two months to hear from me again.
Now that we’ve been home for a few weeks, I can say that there are things I miss about India. One of them is our friend and driver Rupesh. We had lots of occasion to chat with him as we sat in traffic. He was our guide and intermediary to a new culture; his questions and his answers to our own questions made us think.
One conversation we had early on was about our “native place.” Most Indians have one – an ancestral village or neighborhood where their relatives still live, and to which they return. Having a native place is a vital link beyond kinship to its residents – it’s an attachment to the actual area and the land itself. People are intensely proud of their native places, and follow everything that affects those places with great interest, even if they themselves are living in a city, far away.
Rupesh spoke with great affection about his native place, describing the house he grew up in, the retirement house his parents were building there, village life,his family, and the crops grown in his family’s various small fields. Then he asked me about mine. Where was it? What was it like? What grew there?
I admit I was at a loss. Like many rootless urban Americans, we have no single place for the family to call home.
I suppose technically speaking, an avenue row house in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn New York would be my native place. We lived there until I was a teen, around the corner from one grandparents’ house and about 10 minutes away from the other.
The shot at right is as it looks now on Google Maps – not quite the same as I remember, but even digitally, one can’t turn back time. Rupesh would be disappointed to know that very little grew there, at least not by the time my family lived there. Truck garden farms and horse stables for the local race track had long since been paved over and subdivided into attached houses.
While I have deep memories of Brooklyn, walking to school and the neighborhood in which I lived, I have no particular attachment to it. I barely remember the people I went to school with, and have not been back there in a good 30 years.
Next we lived in Teaneck, New Jersey. That lasted from middle school through high school. Again, an inner suburb, not quite as dense as Brooklyn, but long divorced from being anything other than a bedroom community. I do have fond memories of several school friends, and am debating attending an upcoming high school reunion. For agriculture, I did once try to grow carrots in the back yard. I got leafy tops, but no roots. So both I and the vegetables have no special ties to that little plot, either. My mom no longer lives there, so there’s no compelling reason to return.
After that I went off to college, and a wild array of ever-changing dorm rooms. Nothing much settled down in the immediate post-college years, either. I bounced from one Boston area entry level apartment to another, sharing the places with roommates or roaches. Usually both.
I wouldn’t call any of these residences home, let alone my special native place.
Eventually I ended up in Washington D.C., jobs being more plentiful there than in Boston in the early 1980s. I will be forever grateful to the friends who let me couch surf in their tiny apartment for five months before I established myself and could afford to move to my own flat. Fernando and I married and he joined me in my war against vermin in this College Park, Maryland building.
Getting closer, but still no nostalgia. We moved to get away from the Roach Motel, and resettled in Washington, D.C. itself, in a small apartment village in Takoma Park. It was pleasant, although not air conditioned in the D.C. heat, and an easy walk to the subway, the dojo and many of our friends. The best part was the low rent, which allowed us to save up to buy our first non-apartment home.
We are now inching up on Rupesh’s concept of attachment. We worked hard on the house in Lanham, Maryland, and made very good friends with a neighbor, with whom we remain in touch to this day. Our elder daughter was born here. Through hard work, we tamed the muddy back yard and grew lots of flowers – cannas, mums, day lilies, Asian lilies, hollyhocks, marigolds, and others. I’d consider this to be our first real home.
Better jobs beckoned, and we returned to Massachusetts.
We did a lot of research and ended up buying our next home in Arlington – a tiny 1950s era ranch. Again, we did a lot of work on the house and grounds, finishing out the basement, making a garden in the back. I attempted cucumbers, garlic and herbs, with equivocal success. Younger daughter was born here, and we quickly grew out of the the place.
We liked Arlington, so we ended up staying here in town, but in a larger home – a 1912-vintage arts and crafts style stucco bungalow. We’ve been here for about 8 years now, and are still making improvements to it, slowly turning back 80 years of semi-neglect. We dabble in gardening, and have grown strawberries, climbing beans, and onions.
Now, with all of these places I’ve lived in over the years (and mind you, I’ve omitted quite a few short term spots), it’s no wonder I was cast into thought about the meaning of having a “native place.” Both Fernando’s and my parents no longer live in the houses in which we grew up. We have no links back to any of our old neighborhoods. Our siblings, friends, and distant family are similarly scattered all over the US (with a few overseas).
I had the impression that Rupesh felt slightly sorry for us and slightly confused by my answers, because we really had no geographic center of identity, attachment and affection. I am quite fond of our current home. Perhaps that may qualify as our native place now, but I prefer to think of this family as carrying our native place with us. My roots are shallow and easily transplanted. Although I love this house, if I had to go elsewhere, I would move. My identity is built more on my family’s ethical and moral legacy, what I have made myself into, what I have done, and what we as our own nuclear family have become.
So I guess my native place is my own dinner table. Wherever that may happen to be.
It’s been brought to my attention that the Squidley squid hat pattern I posted in December, 2011 has disappeared from this blog site. Although lots of links broke – understandably – when we ported the site from the old hosting service to WordPress, I have noticed that things go AWOL. Especially older blog pages, for no apparent reason.
So I repeat myself. Eventually I’ll redraft this and add it to my pattern archive, reachable at the links above. But for the time being, here’s a blast from the past.
SQUIDLEY – A METHOD DESCRIPTION
A brief foray back into knitting. A long-deserving, cephalopod-loving pal of mine bespoke a hat. Not just any hat, a hat in the shape of a squid. How could I turn down a challenge like that? So this weekend past, finishing up last night I made one.
There are several squid hat patterns on the Web, but I didn’t want to make any of them. I wanted to make a more hat-shaped hat, but with fully-rounded tentacles. I thought about knitting the tentacles first, then working up from there. While there are glove patens that start fingertip and work down, I dismissed the idea as being too fiddly. And seaming the tentacles onto a brim-up cap – even with mattress stitch onto a provisional cast-on row wouldn’t give the “bodily integrity” I wanted. So I decided to work top down with a double-knit ear band, with tentacles worked in the round.
The following post-mortem can’t properly be called a pattern, but the adventurous might be able to work up their own hat from it.
I used approximately 150g of a DK-weight rustic wool, and US #6 (4.0mm) 10-inch long double pointed needles. I also used 12 stitch markers (four of one color, eight of another), plus a double pointed needle of indeterminate size as a large stitch holder later on. I used small scraps of white felt to make the eyes, and sewed them on. Large sparkly buttons or commercial googly-eyes could also be used. Duplicate stitch in a day-glow yarn would be suitably squid-like.
My gauge ended up being a very stretchy 5.25 stitches per inch, with the double knit section being looser.
I violated every rule of knitting, making no gauge swatch, and planning nothing out before hand. I can’t speak to quantity or yarn name – this being a coned Classic Elite remnant from their old back room, well aged in my stash.
I started at the top, with a standard figure-8 cast on, the same one I use on all my socks, putting six stitches each onto two needles (12 total). From there I increased standard-sock toe style (at both sides of the toe, every other row) until I had 40 stitches total. Then I decreased at the same points I increased, but upped the rate to every row, until I had 20 stitches total. I worked a couple more rows plain to finish off the little squid-wing nerdle at the top.
After that I designated five evenly spaced increase points and began shaping the top of my hat, working make-one invisible increases at each marker, working them every other round. About 2 inches down from where I began the hat body increases, I added an additional five increase points to broaden out the shape a bit and make it more full. I worked those in the same every other row progression as the other five until I had 88 stitches, and the hat body was wide enough to sit comfortably on my head. From there I continued in stockinette for about 4 inches, until I had reached the top of my ear (more or less). At this point things become interesting.
On the next round, I took a second strand of yarn and holding it with my main strand, knit all the way around with both strands. This was the set-up row for the double knitting section and doubled the number of loops on my needles. From here to the point where the tentacles start, the hat was worked double-knit style. I do this using a strickfingerhut (knitting strand manager thingy), to hold my strands side by side, but some people prefer to work double knitting in two passes. In either case, what you end up with is two layers of knitting, “back to back.” Remember – I worked the set-up row using two strands of yarn. As I work the next row I will tease the double loops I just made apart, and treat each one as a stitch. I will also use the two strands of yarn separately (this is where the strickfingerhut comes in handy to manage them).
Using Strand A, I knit one of the two loops that make up the first of my set-up row stitches. Using Strand B I purled the other loop of that first set-up row stitch. Taking care not to cross the strands, I continued this way all the way around, alternating knit-with-A stitches and purled-with-B stitches. I ended up with 88 knits interleaved with 88 purls, for a total of 176 stitches. NOT TO WORRY – the hat will NOT grow twice as wide. My own gauge for double knitting is slightly looser than plain one-strand stockinette I worked this way for about two inches to make a nice, cushy, warm earband (which is not a bad idea on any top down knit hat). At this point the hat-part of Squidley was done and it was time to make tentacles!
Squids are decapods. They have eight shorter tentacles plus two longer ones with little pad-like sucker-bearing ends. The two longer ones are often skinnier than the other eight. This worked out well for me as you will see.
Taking care to begin on the stitch column that aligned with the center of the squid-nerdle at the top of the hat, so that the two long tentacles would be properly lined up with the sides of the hat, I began moving my stitches to my spare circ. As I moved them I placed tentacle defining stitch markers, like this. I used two colors of marker (marker and Xmarker) to make life easier.
8 – Xmarker – 18 – marker – 18 – marker – 18 – marker -18 – Xmarker – 16 -X marker – 18 – marker – 18 – marker – 18 – marker -18 – Xmarker – 8
Then I shuffled the stitches around the circ so that I was at one of the Xmarkers that designate the smaller tentacle. I took two of my DPNs and moved the stitches onto them BUT I held my two receiving needles in one hand and put knit stitches onto one and purls onto the other. I ended up with two needles held parallel, with the stitches assorted around them, ready to knit in the round in stockinette like the finger of a glove. You might like to use more and shorter DPNs, but all I had in this size was a set of 3, so I was stuck.. All of the tentacles begin this way, shuffling stitches from the long circ onto DPNs for working in the round. I worked the two long tentacles first, shuffling stitches around the DPN to get to the second one, so that the memory of working the first one would be fresh (remember, I was working on the fly with no written directions).
To make a long tentacle – Starting with 16 stitches, Work in stockinette for 10 rounds. K2 tog, k6, k2tog, k6. Work in stockinette for 10 rounds. K2 tog, k5, k2tog, k5. Work in stockinette for 10 rounds. K2tog, k4, k2tog, k4. Continue this way until only 6 stitches remain. At this point I moved the stitches to one needle and worked another 2 inches I-cord style, then I divided my stitches back onto two DPNs to make the sucker pad. Make 1 (invisible increase), K3, M1, K3, knit one round. M1, K4, M1, K4. Knit one round. Continue working this way until you have 16 stitches total. On next round K2tog, k4, SSK, K2tog, K4, SSK. Then K2tog, k2, SSK, K2 tog, K2, SSK. Then K1, K2 tog, K2, K2 tog, K1. The final row is S1-k2tog-PSSO, S1-k2tog-PSSO. Break the yarn leaving an ending tail, and thread the tail through the final two stitches to end off.
To make a short tentacle – Starting with 18 stitches. Work in stockinette for 5 rounds. K2tog, k7, k2tog, k7, work in stockinette for 5 rounds. K2tog, k6, k2tog, k6. Work in stockinette for 5 rounds. Continue this way until you reach the row that leaves you a total of six stitches. Knit only one row of stockinette instead of five at this point. Then S1-k2tog-PSSO twice, break the yarn leaving an ending tail and thread the tail through the final two stitches to end off.
Finish off all ends, and sew on eyes of your choosing!