Triplet sweaters

I’ve nearly finished the trio of sweaters for a set of triplets. They’re two boys and a girl, so I decided not to make identical sweaters. I started with the tulip yoke sweater in my previous post, and then used the same basic pattern but with different colourwork for the two boys’ sweaters.

Three baby sweaters

The paw print sweater has a bear on the back. I was able to find flower and bear buttons for the tulip and bear sweaters, but couldn’t find any buffalo buttons at the store, so I was making do with some random cute sheep buttons, until one of the ladies at the knitting circle mentioned that she had once used some buttons made from old buffalo nickels. The woman is brilliant. Look at these. Aren’t they just perfect?!?

Buffalo nickel buttons

I’m just waiting for them to arrive, and then this set will be completely done!

Next up, identical sweaters for identical twins.

Baby Bonanza

They must have put something in the water around here recently, because I’ve got eleven (yes, 11!) baby sweaters in the works! Granted, two of them are for older siblings of new babies, but that still means nine new babies among my friends. Yikes!

I started with the two paired sweaters; the same two patterns in two different sizes. Hopefully, come winter, they’ll both be able to fit in their sweater at the same time, so they’ll match and be adorable.

First pair.

Second pair (the second sweater in this pair still needs the ends woven in and the buttons added).

And now I’m working on the first of three sweaters for a set of triplets.

Self-striped socks

So, a few months ago, I posted about using Magic Loop to knit a pair of items at the same time. My test case was a pair of mittens.

The organizer of my knitting and crochet group asks members to demo various techniques or crafts at our meetings, and a few weeks after I finished the mittens, the demo was knitting in the round on two circulars. Well, I’m perfectly happy with Magic Loop knitting, but I did find it a bit tangly, when knitting the mittens – since I was doing stripes, I was having to juggle four strands of yarn – so for my next pair project (socks, this time), I decided to give the two-circulars method a try. I have to say, I really like it. I’m not going to give up Magic Loop, but for knitting two at a time, I much prefer the two-circulars method.

Pro-tip: It really helps to have a pair of needles that are not identical, either different coloured tips, or different coloured cables, because you are supposed to knit from one end of one of the needles to the other end of the same one, and if you have identical circulars, it’s way too easy to get confused and accidentally knit onto the wrong needle.

Here are my socks in progress. Notice that one of my cables is purple and the other is red; nicely contrasting.
Self-striped Socks

Murder on the Orient Espresso

My latest audiobook has been released. Murder on the Orient Espresso by Sandra Balzo is the 8th book in the Maggy Thorsen series.

Maggy Thorsen, co-owner of the Wisconsin gourmet coffeehouse Uncommon Grounds, is in South Florida at an annual crime-writers’ conference. She’s attending with her beau, local sheriff Jake Pavlik, who is due to speak as a forensics expert.

But Maggy’s pledge to behave solely as a tourist becomes much trickier than she anticipated. The conference’s opening night event turns out to be a re-enactment of the Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express. As Maggy and Jake reluctantly set off on the night train into the Everglades to solve the literary crime, they soon find themselves embroiled in a real-life murder mystery as creepy and baffling as any work of fiction.

A Charming Spell

A Charming Spell (Magical Cures Mysteries, Book 4) by Tonya Kappes has now been released.

There is a new store Whispering Falls, Kentucky. Ophelia Biblio, the owner of Ever After Book Shop, has a power that no one else in Whispering Falls has. She’s a witch and her shop is magical. June Heal is on a mission to come up with a special cure for Sheriff Oscar Park to help him regain his memory, while working hard at being the best newly elected Village President of the magical village. Alexelrod Primrose shows up on June’s doorstep begging her to block the opening of Ever After Books, making her wonder if opening the village doors to witches is a good idea. When one of the Spiritualists turns up dead and Oscar Park is falling in love with someone else, June has her hands full trying to solve a murder and fix her love life.

Knitting Cast-ons

I’m demoing a variety of knitted cast ons at this week’s Knitting Circle. This is a collection of resources to refer back to.

Regular Cast Ons

Knitted Cast On
As its name implies, this cast on is based on the basic Knit stitch. Start with a slip knot on your left needle. Insert your right needle into the slip knot and work a knit stitch, but instead of slipping the worked stitch onto your right needle, place it back on your left needle. You now have two stitches, and your needle is set to work another.
Demo with video and pictures

Cable Cast On
This is similar to the knitted cast on. Begin the same way, until you have two stitches on your left needle, but then insert your needle between the first and second stitches and work as if it were a knit stitch, slipping the new stitches onto the left needle as with the knitted cast on.
Demo with pictures

Long-tail Cast On
Start with a slip knot on one of your needles, which you hold in your right hand. Loop the yarn over your thumb and forefinger, with the tail end over your thumb, and anchoring both ends of the yarn in your fist. Bring the needle tip up into the center under the strand of yarn that runs from your thumb to your fist, over the strand on your index finger, and through the loop this has created over your thumb. Release the loop of yarn and tighten your new stitch.
Demo with pictures

Backwards Loop Cast On
Start with a slip knot on one of your needles. Pick up a loop of yarn and twist it, then place it on your needle, making sure the tail is trapped between the outside of the loop and the slip knot.
When knitting your first row of stitches after casting on with this method, you will feel that you have done something wrong, because the cast on loops will suddenly feel very loose. This is normal with this technique. Don’t panic!
Demo with video and pictures

Jeny’s Stretchy Slip Knot Cast On
This is the stretchiest cast on I know of. It is just a series of slip knots. Caveats for this method:

  • Works best with a smooth yarn. Fuzzy or bumpy yarns will not want to tighten properly.
  • You must be careful to hold the beginning of each slip knot right up against the previous one, because it is a knot, and once it has been tightened, you will not be able to snug it up.
  • Hold the bottom of each slip knot as you tighten, otherwise you will end up with a twisted line of stitches.

Creator’s website with link to demo video

Provisional Cast Ons

A provisional cast on creates a line of live stitches that can be worked in either direction. You will usually work in one direction, then return to your cast on, pick up the stitches being held on your spare yarn, and continue in the opposite direction.

Long-tail-style Provisional Cast On
Take a strand of yarn of a similar weight to your working yarn (it is best to use a smooth yarn of contrasting colour) and tie the two yarns together. Anchor the knot against the needle in your right hand, and loop the two yarns over the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, with the working yarn over your thumb and anchoring the ends in your fist. Rest your needle between the two threads, and from that position, bring it down and under the working strand, then up and over the provisional strand and under the working strand again, down through the center and up along the index finger side. This will create two stitches. If you have a nice, flexible cable needle, you can use that instead of the waste yarn. The advantage is that it’s easier to pick up the stitches from the cable needle than from the waste yarn. Even better, if your cable needle is of the same size as your working needle (or you have a set of interchangeable needles), you’ll just be able to start working from that needle without having to pick up stitches at all!
Demo with video

Crochet Provisional Cast On
Using a scrap of spare yarn (preferably a smooth yarn in a contrasting colour to your working yarn) crochet a chain that is ten or fifteen stitches longer than you need to cast on. Turn the chain over so that the bumps on the rear of the stitches are visible. Starting a few stitches from the end, pick up and knit the number of stitches you need into consecutive crochet bumps.
Video demo

This is just a bare sampling of the different types of cast ons available. A quick google search will reveal that there are literally dozens of different cast ons and variations on cast ons. We will always have a favourite go-to cast on, but it’s good to be passingly familiar with other methods, which might work better for a given project.

Some other online resources
Keep On Knitting Blog
Cast Ons Page on
Knitting At Large’s Catalog of Cast Ons

The Zeiihbu Master

The Zeiihbu Master (Aerenden Book 3) by Kristen Taber has now been released.

Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Aerenden forever.
While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen’s young son, before Garon can use the boy’s power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.
Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan’s greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.
©2014 Kristen Taber (P)2014 Kristen Taber

Knitting Two At A Time

A friend of mine has asked me to make her a pair of mittens in her school colours, to match the beanie I made her a month or so ago. Earlier this year I finally finished my first pair of socks, which I had started in 2011. I didn’t find making socks difficult, but after I finished the first one, I got bored and it was literally years before I picked up the project again to finish it. I have the same problem any time I have to make two of something, socks, sleeves, mittens, etc. So I vowed to myself that I would learn how to knit two at a time, and this is the first project I’ve taken on since then that involved a pair of items.

After a bit of searching, I found this great tutorial.

This technique uses a single circular needle – there are also instructions out there for knitting two at a time using two circulars, but since I’m already comfortable with magic loop knitting, I specifically searched for instructions that used a single needle.

There’s one addition I’d make to the tutorial, based on the way I join to knit in the round. It took me years to feel comfortable knitting in the round because I could never get the join tight, and always ended up with a ladder between the first and last stitches. I finally found a suggestion somewhere on the web to cast on an extra stitch, and knit it together with the first stitch. After that, there was no stopping me.

So, to use this joining method with the knitting two at a time technique:
After casting on for the second item in the pair, slip the extra stitch to a locking or split-ring stitch marker, then continue to the second half of the first item in the pair. That way, when you get back to the second item, you’ll be able to slip the extra stitch to your needle and knit it together with the first stitch.