Tag Archives: knitting

STARTS AND FINISHES

A couple starts and finishes here at String Central.

First – a scarf for Elder Daughter.  She favors autumn colors, and the last scarf I made her about five years ago was due for a replacement.  I had a ball of Zauberball Crazy in my stash, that was way too nice to waste on socks that won’t be seen.  Something that demonstrative is better out in the open rather than hidden away in shoes.  But she wanted a strip-style classic scarf, not an abbreviated shawl or wing-shaped piece, so one ball of fingering weight yarn wasn’t going to be enough unless the chosen stitch was very lacy.  But it’s hard to make the color gradations pop in a lace design…

The most obvious thing to do is to eke out the fancy multicolor yarn using a solid – either a component color of the multi, or something contrasting.  So I went stash-diving.  And I came up with another problematic yarn that fits the mission envelope.  Lister Lavenda fingering weight 100% wool, circa the late ‘60s.

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How do I come by such a superannuated yarn?  Easy.  I stole it from my mom.

To be fair, “stole” is a bit of exaggeration.  She let me have it, from her own stash.  My mom has been a prolific and talented knitter as long as I can remember.  She tried many times to teach me when I was a kid, but I didn’t actually pick up needles until after I was out of my own.  BUT I did crochet quite a bit as a kid and teen.  Mom let me stash dive on occasion.  This particular mustard color wool was part of a vest project she began for my dad, long, long ago.  I’m not sure why it was never completed, but mom had a huge bag of the stuff, well over a dozen little one-ounce pull skeins.  I adopted them and have used them slowly over the years.  Pretty much any gold/mustard yellow accent in anything I’ve knit from fingering weight has been mom’s Lavenda.

The yarn itself is quite nice, a bouncy, spongy 100% wool,, but fragile.  It fulls if you so much as look at it with damp, warm eyes.  It rubs through in socks all too quickly, even when reinforced.  So scarves and hats are the best use.  I had four skeins left, a bit over 100g, all told.  About the same amount as the one Zauberball.

I used a free pattern on Ravelry, Christy Kamm’s ZickZack Scarf.  I used 3.0mm needles (about a US 2.5), and did the recommended eight repeats of the 12-stitch garter stitch pattern. swapping the multicolor and mustard yarns every other row (each garter stripe).  Every row was the same – as such it was the perfect totally mindless piece to work in the evenings, even while watching subtitled movies.

Here are the front and back:

zauberscarf-front zauberscarf-back

Note that they are close, and both are pleasing, but they are not identical.  Nor could they be.  Garter stitch produces identical TEXTURES on front and back, but when you change colors, the appearance of the row is different front to back.  If I had knit 3 rows of multi, then 3 rows of solid, the two sides would look more alike, BUT I’d end up having a lot of long floats up or ends to work in because my other-color yarn would always be on the wrong edge of the work when I went looking for it to change.

And the finished piece:

zauberscarf-finished

Lessons learned:  If I had to do it all over again, I’d only do six or seven repeats across, to make the thing just a bit narrower, but longer.  The recipient loves it, but I prefer narrower scarves.  Also, the design benefits from not being worked loosely.  If you attempt this one and are a loose knitter, go down a needle size or two for best effect.  All in all though, I’m quite happy with the piece, and offer thanks to pattern source Christy for thinking of adapting this traditional heavy-knit blanket zig-zag to a light weight scarf.

And the other start – Bumblebee Socks for Younger Daughter

This project also started off with the yarn.  Long time pal Wendy has embarked on a yarn dyeing venture.  She brews and experiments, and when she’s accumulated enough inventory, offers it up on line or at knitting festivals, via Facebook or her Etsy page, under the “Strings N’’Strands” imprint. As such it’s sporadically available but worth waiting for.

Last month she posted that she’d just finished dyeing a black/yellow combo, and posted pix.  It sang to me:

bee-yarn

Younger Daughter has a thing for bees.  She adores them, and advocates for bee-preservation causes.  This yarn would be perfect for a pair of socks for her. 

So, a new conundrum.  How to use a variegated to best advantage in socks?  Not every hand-dyed variegated works out well in-project.  Sometimes the colors flash in an inopportune way.   Sometimes they don’t flash at all, and end up muddy.  And how to work in the bee theme….

After some experimentation, here’s the end result:

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Entrelac!  The little entrelac segments are like a scrum of fuzzy, striped bumblebees.  And the periodicity Wendy dyed in worked out perfectly, making a nice, even self-stripe on my toe-up foot.

For the record, this is improvised as I go.  I’ve knit several entrelac projects at this point, both in the round and flat, so I’m pretty comfortable with the base concept.  It does tend to be less stretchy than flat stockinette, so some fudging of count was required, but it all worked out.

This particular pair of toe-up socks uses a Figure-8 toe, and short-rowed heel.  I am knitting on five relatively large US 0 needles (four in the work, one in hand) – on 72 stitches around (18 stitches per needle).  I worked my standard no-think sock until I was two rounds past the heel, then broke into entrelac on 6-stitch groups.  Although the math works out perfectly to have six entrelac pattern units , doing so makes a tight ankle (see above), so I fudged my start-up triangles to end up with 7.  That’s working out quite nicely, to make a comfortable, not quite slouchy sock.

I’ll continue on this ankle part until the sock, when folded in half along the heel diagonal that part is equal to the length of the foot, then I’ll do 20 rounds of K2P2 rib to finish. 

Thanks Wendy!  Your yarn made this project, and will go on to make Younger Daughter buzz with joy.

EARTH TO STRING, COME IN STRING

Ok, I know it’s been a while.  Where have I been?

Working on several projects, two of them in major Stealth Mode.

Stealth Project #1 is a baby blanket.  That much I can say.  I can also say that the recipients are family, and they have specifically requested cotton and pink.  I’ve done something original, an improvised pattern, and it’s done.  But I won’t post pix here because family does visit this page and I want the finished object to be at least a bit of a surprise.

Stealth Project #2 is for my Stealth Apprentice.  She’s starting up an Etsy business, hand-dyeing silk embroidery thread using researched historical dye recipes.  She’s busy perfecting her products, and I’m her Beta-Tester-in-Chief.  I won’t show the sampler where her products are being play-tested against standard DMC cotton floss, but eventually we will break Stealth Mode and post details and links.

Project #3 is a volunteer effort. I’m one of many people in the Arlington Knitting Brigade, a town Council for the Arts project that is working to do a yarn-bombing installation on the public bike path that bisects the town, for display in September.  The group provided acrylic yarn in orange, light turquoise, white, and fuscia, with permission to eke out that lot with stash colors, in order to make a piece that’s 2×5 feet – knit, crocheted, in macramé, weaving, whatever.  I’m woefully behind, but getting there. As you can see I’ve chosen a rather chaotic mix of crochet and knitting. Younger Daughter says that the thing has a look that reminds her of the classic kids’ game Candy Land:

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I am going to have both aggressive blocking and a TON of ends to finish!

For the record, my  piece goes at the very top of one of the trees, far from eyes that can see the questionable bits.

Project #4 is yet another pair of socks, the latest in my constant stream of briefcase projects.  I carry a pair of socks on the needles with me just about everywhere I go, working on it in stolen moments while waiting for appointments, getting the car inspected, waiting for a movie to start, or standing on lines at post offices or ticket counters.

More-Sox

This pair is in Plymouth Neon Now, worked toe-up with a short rowed heel, on US 00 (1.75mm) needles.  It’s 76 stitches around (19 stitches on each of four needles), with an improvised texture pattern on the cuff.  The feet are totally plain – I find that is the most comfortable inside my shoes.  I started this pair in mid July, and finished last week while waiting at the optometrist.  Needless to say, I immediately cast on for the next pair.

TOO BUSY TO BLOG

As ever, things have been very hectic here at String Central.  Holidays, work obligations, family – you know the standard round of excuses.  But that doesn’t mean that progress is not being made.

In no particular order, I present a subset of the accomplishments since the last post:

The Red Licorice pullover – finished.  Amended slightly to meet the recipient’s specifications.  Pix on this one are belated, since I gave it to the wearer who scuttled off with it before took photos of my own.  I’ll go back and update this post when the pix come in, but I’ve held back publishing this long enough.

Six Pussyhats for the upcoming marches.

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The now standard run of ten types of holiday cookies:

cookies-2017

If you must know, clockwise from the top, they are coconut macaroons dipped in dark chocolate; chocolate chips; chocolate crinkles (aka Earthquakes); peanut butter, stamped with suns; hazelnut spritz with chocolate ganache filling (aka Oysters); raspberry jam filled vanilla wafers; Mexican wedding cakes; lemon cut-outs; bourbon/cocoa balls; and iced spice spritz cookies.  In the center is homemade fudge, with and without hazelnuts.  I also did two panfortes.  Recipes for any/all available on request

And of course there were latkes (this year done in goose fat):

latkes-2 

And of course over the three-holiday-week there were the donor goose; some heavenly fish quenelles (think gossamer gefilte fish and you would not be far wrong); a fantastic cassoulet made with duck confit we put up back in the summer; leek and potato soup; a home-made paté/terrine type loaf; our own sourdough bread; and an amazing spread of cheeses.  Most of the heavy lifting cooking was done by The Resident Male.

cheeses

We’re still eating the cheeses – there was so much that was (and still is) SO good.  Thanks again to Cheese Gifters, Kim and Mike; and a shout-out to the Cheese Makers, Jonathan and Nina at Bobolink Dairy. If you love well-crafted, delicious cheese and have not tried theirs, you are missing out.

Along the way, I also started a couple more projects.  First – curtains for the library.  I’ve been threatening to do it for years, and have the linen and trim on hand, the trim being one of the embroidered things I treated myself to in India:

 curtains-01

I’ve done all the calculations, pre-washed the linen, and ironed out the first panel of four.  I’ve also obtained and pre-shrunk the lining. Next is to calculate placement of the trim and stitch it on to the first panel, prior to doing final assembly and hemming.  I intend to use rings to hang the panels, from black iron or iron-look rods.  Those will either be clip- or pin-type, so tabs are not needed.  Parking these mysterious secret sauce numbers here for future reference (90, 10, 3).

And having finished the sweater and hats, I embark on another knitting project – Sandra’s Shawl, pattern by Sandra Oakeshott.  This one features lots and lots of nupps – little multi-stitch bobbles.  I am not a fan of making them, so instead of the nupps, I’m using beads.  I’m using some really intense variegated green Zauberball Lace yarn (pix shamelessly borrowed from unrelated retail website):

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And the beads are silver tone.  As you can see, I’m already well into this one, past the unadorned center and out into the infinity rows where the beaded fun happens:

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I can say that the pattern is well-crafted and easy to follow.  I suggest putting markers at the beginning and end of the pattern repeat, to segregate out the edges in which the design is a bit perturbed by the increases required for shawl shaping.  Some may wish to use markers between each pattern repeat, but I found it wasn’t necessary for me – the thing is easy to proof visually as one knits. And I most heartily recommend the use of beads rather than the fiddly nupps.  Apologies to the designer, of course for using a non-traditional/alternative interpretation of her excellent pattern.

REAL HIPSTER SOCKS

Well not, actually.  Just socks that feature hips:

Doc-sox-2a hip

These are the socks I mentioned in my last post, bespoke by the Resident Male as a gift for his hip replacement surgeon.  A frenzied week of knitting, to be sure, in order to be ready to be given at the scheduled follow-up appointment. 

I will say that both TRM and the socks have knit up well. Thanks to all for the get well wishes. He’s hobbling around quite spryly with cane, and gains movement range and strength every day.

On the socks, as previously posited, I worked them on two circular needles, in the round on 80 stitches around (US #00s) with figure-8 toe and short rowed heels.  I kept on that way until just after the completion of the heels, then splitting them at the center back, adding a stitch to the new left and right edges for later ease in seaming, and then continuing to work side by side, but this time, flat.

Here’s a typical late-night, poorly lit shot of the pair, side by side, being worked flat on a single circ, which I remembered to take at last minute:

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All in all, while I was happy to fulfill the special request, and interested in the experiment of working a pair on two circs with an Intarsia clock, I have mixed feelings about this project.

  1. If I had more time, the socks would be about an inch longer before the ribbing.  The proportion would be better.
  2. I still am not a fan of Intarsia.  That’s my mother’s favorite style of knitting.  I vastly prefer textures, lace and stranding.  Taming the multiple bobbins or yarn butterflies drive me crazy, no matter how careful I am at always using the strands in the right order and orientation.
  3. I should have used proportional graph paper rather than plain 1:1 squares when I charted the hip.  The stitch height:width ratio has flattened the design somewhat, and has lost some of the more gracefully round curvy details.  Here’s a place to make printable graph paper in any proportional ratio you need.
  4. I have and will probably use two-circs again for larger things like sleeves, but I don’t like that method for socks.  Not one bit.  Stopping to assort the needles and yarn slows me down big time over plain old DPNs.  I know others adore the method, but it’s not for me.

On the up side, the socks are complete.  They are the right size (I aimed at a guessed shoe size of men’s US 12-13, for a 6-foot guy), and although just a tad short from heel to ribbing, are totally wearable.  The motif sits well in place, and the copious end-darning doesn’t create uncomfortable ridges inside.  The mattress stitch seam worked perfectly, and the result is invisible from the outside of the work. 

Now on to other projects!

HAPPY 2016!

Apologies for silence at this end.  Things have been a bit unsettled here at String.  The holidays came and went, with their obligatory cookies:

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…and decorations.

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Foods were cooked for the appropriate occasions, including cassoulet, latkes, boned-out stuffed ducks, panforte, ham, roast beef, and all sorts of sides.  Gifts were obtained and exchanged. Wine and champagne were consumed. Visitors popped by.  Spawn were supported as they wrestled with college application deadlines. And The Resident Male (TRM) had his hip replaced.  He’s well on the road to recovery, and is delighted to be regaining utility that he had thought lost forever.  Warning to his golfing pals – by the Spring, he’ll be back in training and itching to test out the new equipment, to see what it can do for his swing.  But as you can see, the interval since my last post, although long, has been a tad hectic.

Even on the project end, I haven’t had time for as much as I planned.  Between working from home part time and the rest of the laundry list, above, plus standard household stuff like shoveling, I didn’t get a chance to sew the the new curtains for the library that I had planned as my end-of-year break effort.  I’ve also set aside the Mixed Wave Cowl for Elder Daughter, and didn’t get started on some other holiday knitting or needlework.  Those things were derailed by a request from TRM to knit up a pair of socks as a post-surgical gift.  So I am now trying to motor through a pair in very boring grey fingering weight.  They will be enlivened by a design on the ankle – probably something skeletal and hip-like, worked in Intarsia.  Here you see them, with the feet and half of the heel complete, almost up to the motif area; two rather dull, shapeless grey blobs.

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To do Intarsia on the ankles of these toe-up in-the-round socks, I’ll cheat.  After the heel is finished I’ll split the rounds at the center back, and work both socks flat.  Since I’m doing them now side by side using two circs, I’ll re-assort the stitches onto one circ and continue, to guarantee uniform length and design placement.

How do I like the two-circ method for knitting a pair of socks at the same time?  Frankly, not much. 

I find I am actually faster at five DPNs because I don’t have to stop and fiddle at the end of each half round to retrieve the correct needle end, and I don’t have to pause to untangle twisted feeds from two balls of yarn (or both ends of the same ball).  But the idea here was to use this project to try something  new to me that so many others recommend, and to ensure the hard-to-count charcoal color yarn produced two socks of the same size and length.  On the latter, I have to give kudos to the two-circ method.  No actual counting – just keep on and you are guaranteed uniform products.

So here we are.  January has been achieved.  All sorts of seasonal and special-case speed bumps have been successfully traversed.  Bring on the rest of the year.  After December 2015, I can handle anything.

PERMISSION GRANTED, MORE OR LESS

Here it is, totally finished, and with a vaguely decent picture (but as yet, unsigned and un-mounted).

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The recipient is thrilled, which is always gratifying.

UPDATE:  People want the specs on this piece so they don’t have to hunt through previous posts.  30 count evenweave linen ground, stitched over two threads (15 spi).  The 6-strand floss is man-made “silk”, rayon actually; a vintage find brought back from India, slightly thinner than standard DMC floss.  I stitched all of the foreground using two strands.  Some of the background I did in single strand for contrast.  Pattern strips with one exception are all from my forthcoming book The Second Carolingian Modelbook.  The alphabet is from a vintage Sajou booklet #104 reproduced at Patternmakercharts.blogspot.com.  I hemmed my linen by hand before starting.

The reason I haven’t done the last teeny bits is that I’m trying to finish off some end-of-year gifts for the spawn.

First up and already done was the new pair of Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, done in a sparkly yarn for Younger Daughter.  She’s a fan of the surreal Welcome to Night Vale podcasts.  One of their taglines is “Mostly void, partially stars.”

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To get the partially-stars look, I used Loops and Threads Payette – an acrylic with a running lurex thread and small paillettes (flat sequins).  Both inspiration and enablement are courtesy of  Long Time Needlework Pal Kathryn, who sent this stuff to me.  Just seeing it sparkling at me kicked off this project.  Kathryn’s  initial intent was to knit socks from the Payette, but that effort was a no-go.  And rightly so.  The stuff is not fun to work with, and would make supremely uncomfortable socks.  The base black yarn is waxy feeling. The lurex thread breaks easily and is scratchy, and the paillettes can make stitch formation difficult – especially on decreases. Oh, and forget about ripping this stuff back. The lurex snaps.  But the look can’t be beat, especially for a big-box-store available yarn.

Yarn aside, this project is a great quick-knit.  Both mitts together took two evenings.  I used the Payette doubled, and knit the smallest size, which fits perfectly. The only change I made to the original design is eliminating the bulk of cast-on and cast-off. To begin, I work a figure-8 or provisional cast-on. When I get to the last row before the cuff welt, I reactivate the bottom stitches and fold them up, knitting one bottom edge stitch along with its live pre-cuff counterpart. This melds the bottom into the work, and eliminates the final bit of sewing up, and cuts down on pre-cuff bulk.

To cast-off, instead of making a finished edge and then sewing it down, I leave a long tail and fold the live edge inside the work. Then I use that to secure each last-row stitch to its counterpart in the first row after the fancy welting on the upper edge.

Final verdict – the kid loves these. The original design’s pretty welt and eyelet detail is lost in the sequined look and it’s over the top sparkly. But it fits in perfectly with the Nightvale-inspired theme.

Next on the needles is a new scarf for Elder Daughter.  As I mentioned in the last post, I’m enchanted by Sybil R’s designs and was determined to make one or another of them.  At first we contemplated a different scarf, but rummaging through my stash, we came up with yarn better suited to her Mixed Wave Cowl, an exercise in nested short row enhanced stripes.  Here you see the bare beginnings of mine:

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I’m using an eclectic mix of well-aged stash denizens, plus a more recent variegated yarn seen here in a rather blue-shifted photo.  The black and russet are both Lang Jawoll bought who-knows-when.  The claret (again not as purple as it looks here) is Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband, which I’m pretty sure I had when we moved back to Boston in ‘95.  The variegated scarf thingy is Regia Creativ one of the unravel-me-and-knit dyed strips, in a mix of autumn colors including chocolate, russet, claret, and burnt orange.  The pattern is written for DK, on rather small 3.5mm needles.  I’m using  fingering-weight sock yarn on 3.0mm needles, which is making a slightly looser fabric.

More on this one as it grows…

SURFACING

It’s been lonely here at String.  So few posts over such a long period of time.  I apologize for that.  Life has been hectic, with work deadlines, the close of Younger Daughter’s school year, and house projects just getting under way.

For a start, here’s Younger Daughter, decked out for Junior Prom.

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No copycat column dress for her, she took inspiration from decades past, and found a bargain repro-1950s dress on line. Much child/parent conspiring took place to round out the outfit. The rhinestones for example are excavated from my jewelry box, and ultimately belonged to my grandmother and great-aunt. Younger Daughter looked great, and had a wonderful time.   And not a bit of envy for dance-able comfort from some of her more elaborately dressed peers.

On the Trifles sampler, I ran into a roadblock.  I tried drafting and tracing meshed gears, which I intend to use as a background, filling each one with a different counted blackwork-style filling.  But I wasn’t finding a great amount of success.  So I caved in and bought a plastic stencil.  I’ll use selected bits of it, tracing the precision cut cams onto the cloth and tiling the thing where needed (it’s calculated to do that!).  More on this once I get going.

I’m also working on a two-person knit-along with Friend Kim – a mesh-knit three-quarter sleeve pullover from a Kate Bellando pattern.  I think we’re both at about the same mid-sleeve point:

meshy-Knit-2

For the record, we’re both using SMC Select Reflect, a light DK/heavy sport yarn in rayon/cotton blend.  I can say that both of us have had extreme problems making gauge and have had to adjust needle size and move down in selected garment size to compensate.

And I’ve done a ton of socks as I noodled out the various problems and challenges, above.  This pair was knit up from a hand-painted sock blank – Plymouth Happy Choices, in the Fiesta color. 

sox-new

In essence, a sock blank is a long scarf-like machine knitted strip that a dyer then paints with her or his chosen colors.  When the scarf is unraveled for use, its patterns knit up in unexpected ways.  I knit mine straight from the blank rather than re-winding, working my standard figure-8 toe, short-rowed heel sock.  The crinkle made no difference in the finished product, and the convenience of working from something that wouldn’t escape and skitter down six rows was perfect for airplane knitting.  The lace pattern on the ankle is from Walker’s fourth treasury.

And on larger, family projects – we start to consider redoing our kitchen.  The floor tiles are worn past their surface color, the cabinets and countertops are sagging beyond simple repair or re-use, and the layout/look is inefficient and dated.  The room was spruced up around 1980, as a peace offering between the warring couple that sold the house to us.  I have detested the shell pink/mint green/faux Colonial cabinet combo from the day we moved in.  Before pix in next post, for sure. Ten years is enough, and it’s time!

BABY BLANKET BINGO

Finished.

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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.

SECOND HELPING OF TRIFLES

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.

Trifles-2

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.

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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.

SQUIDLEY REDUX

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!