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.

Rawr. I’m a monster (bonnet)

I found this totally adorable bonnet pattern (here) that I wanted to make for the Knitting Circle’s charity drive. Only problem was it required seaming – the bonnet’s sewn flat and then sewn together at the back, and the little spikes are knit separately and then sewn on. I hate seaming. It’s my least favourite part of knitting. So, I re-engineered the pattern.

The difference starts on row 26, the first bind off row.
26. Knit to last 8 stitches, turn the work
27. Knit to last 8 stitches, turn the work
28. Knit to last 12 stitches, turn the work
29. Knit to last 12 stitches, turn the work
30. Knit to last 16 stitches, turn the work
31. Knit to last 16 stitches, turn the work
32. Knit 8

Fold the work in half and bind off using Gartered Kitchener Stitch (garter version explained at the bottom of the page), or 3-needle Bind Off.

For the spikes:
Pick up and purl 12 stitches in two parallel rows along the center line of the bonnet.
Join to work in the round.
Continue with original instructions.

I worked the spikes on three double-pointed needles, two to hold the two lines of stitches, and a third as my active needle.
I also realized when I was nearly done with the first spike that I’d done it in stockinette, instead of reverse stockinette, but I was happy with how it looked and decided to keep it that way.
Finally, instead of braided ties, I used i-cord (there’s only one done in the picture).

Reuse

A couple of years ago I started knitting on circular needles almost exclusively. I had bought a set of KnitPicks interchangeable circulars and they changed my knitting life. The cord they use is lovely and flexible. It made using the magic loop method for small diameter circular knitting a delight. Add to that the fact that I have, more than once, accidentally stabbed myself in the mouth when knitting with double-pointed needles (In case you’re wondering, it’s during the switchover. I hold on to the spare with my teeth, and then as I go to grab it, I’ll sometimes end up jabbing it into my tongue or lip – I’m really smooth like that), and magic loop just seems safer. Later I also started using circulars for flat knitting. It’s especially useful on trips. If you drop a needle, you don’t have to go diving after it, it’s right there, attached. One of these days I’ll sort through my knitting supplies and give away all the needles I don’t use anymore. But I’m keeping one. I’ve discovered a new use for the long aluminum needles – they make great back scratchers!

Christmas Knitting

Mum’s llama hat turned out very nicely. Her only requests were for the llamas to be white, and the background colour to be the same as for her sweater. I’m quite pleased with how the rest of the colours I picked worked out, and I hope she likes it too.

Mum's Chullo

I also finished her sweater just in time for Christmas, but I stupidly didn’t get a photo of the finished garment before I sent it off. I’ve asked her to send me one when she gets it.

The knitting circle had a Christmas party a week or so ago, and one of the things we did was a homemade ornament exchange. I made this little guy.

He’s supposed to be a fox, but his ears turned out pretty big and he looks more like a bat. I call him Batfox. The ornament I received in the exchange was a little snowman made of wine corks. He’s wearing a little, teeny, tiny scarf too. 🙂

HOT Fair 2013

The County Fair opened this weekend. I went by on Sunday to see how my pieces had fared (no pun intended). I entered a wee hedgehog in the Knitting (Non-garment) category. He got a first place ribbon. (The photos are fuzzy because I had to use the zoom on the phone’s camera.)

The previously mentioned shawl, which was entered in the Knitting (Garment) category, won a second place ribbon.

I think I counted about half a dozen knitted entries, total, so as usual, the ribbons aren’t terribly impressive, but still fun.

Busy Knitting

I’m really enjoying the Knitting Circle I joined a few months ago.

Back in May we started a block-a-month Knit-along. There will be six knitted blocks and six crochet. Since I don’t crochet, but I still wanted 12 blocks, I’ve been searching ravelry for some extra blocks. I’ve done eight blocks so far. I won’t post individual photos of the blocks (though I have posted them on flickr if you’re really interested) , but I will post a photo of the  finished afghan after I finish it in October or November.

My friend Angeline posted on facebook a few months ago (during the height of the Jayne hat fiasco) that she really wanted one, so I offered to make one. I ended up making three; a baby one to test out the pattern, and then one each for Angeline and myself.

I’ve made a few more baby hats for the Knitting Circle’s preemie project (along with the baby Jayne).

I finished the body of my mother’s cardigan ages ago, and then had to put it on ice until she could send me her arm measurements. Now that I have them, I’ll be starting up on it again within the next couple of weeks. I’d like to get it to her before the weather turns.

After she and her friend saw photos of the Jayne hat, I got a request from her friend for a hat with ear flaps. I found this awesome pattern for a chullo with llamas on it. Mum liked it so much, she requested one for herself as well, in the same colour as her cardigan for the base colour.

And it’s Fair season! This year I’m going to enter a shawl I made last year. Technically, you’re only supposed to enter items you’ve made since the last fair, but a few weeks ago I ended up reworking about half of it (and making it a larger size) because I had found a dropped stitch the first time I wore it, so I figure that counts.

Knitting

I’ve found a new knitting group in the area. A friend on facebook posted about attending a meeting, so I just tagged along. Really nice group of people. They have an ongoing project of making hats for preemies and newborns in the NICU at the local hospital, so I made a few for my second meeting.

Next meeting we’re swapping coasters, so I’m making this one (the pattern will be a bird once it’s finished).

My madrigal cardigan is coming along nicely. Just have to finish the second sleeve and add buttons.

Once I’ve finished it, I’ll be starting a cardigan for my mum. Like this, only with a zipper.

If at first…

Several years ago, I came across the book No Sheep For You, a book of knitting patterns and techniques for people who don’t like, or can’t wear woolen garments. I really liked the Morrigan pattern. I’m a sucker for cables (not to mention the pattern is named for the Celtic goddess of battle and strife – totally badass).

So I bought a bunch of KnitPicks’ CotLin yarn (it’s a cotton/linen blend), with the intent to knit the Morrigan. It then sat in my stash with the pattern for several years while I worked on other projects.

Last spring/summer, in preparation for my visit to the UK, I decided I needed a new sweater to take with me and finally pulled out the yarn and pattern. I got as far as reading through the pattern and looking over the chart, where I came across the term “no stitch”. No stitch?? What the heck does that mean? So I gave up on the Morrigan before I’d even started it, and found another pattern, the Azami.

I had finished the body, done one sleeve and the hood, when I decided to try it on. It was enormous, and I must have done something wrong on the hood, because that was too small. Very discouraging, so I frogged the entire thing and decided to try yet another pattern. Now I’m working on the Madrigal.

It’s a really interesting pattern. You start at the top of the back, work down to the armhole, and then go back up to your cast-on row (done in invisible cast-on, btw), and work down the two fronts, then join the three sections together at the bottom of the armholes and finish working the body. A nice thing about the technique is that I’ve been able to try it on as I’ve been working on it, and I’ve already made one or two sizing changes based on the fittings along the way.

And I may yet pick up the Morrigan again, because a couple of months after I gave up on it, there was a segment on reading charts on Knitting Daily, in which Eunny Jang specifically mentioned what the whole “no stitch” thing meant! Yay!

UK 2012

I went back to the UK for the first time in nine years this past October. My cousin Andy’s twin baby daughters turned a year old during my visit. I made each of them a stuffed animal for their birthday.

I think they went over well.

It was also my dad’s birthday during my visit. Dad has Alzheimer’s, and it’s been several years since I last saw him, so I wasn’t sure how the visit would go. But, he recognized me when I first arrived (though later he thought I was his older sister), and went as well as could be expected.

Lesson learned during this visit: visit more often, so you’re not moving the entire time, trying to fit in everyone in a short trip.

You know it’s spring in Texas when…

Everyone starts posting pictures of their kids in fields of bluebonnets (state flower). I don’t have any kids, but I do have Lucy. Eileen and I took the dogs to the dog park today, and the field next door was full of bluebonnets, so we figured we might as well.

She was more interested in what was going on behind her (in the dog park), but she behaved very well. And one more, with her snazzy new doggles on.

The last time I had her in the car, I noticed her eyelids flapping in the wind as she stuck her head out the window. Doggles seemed in order. She doesn’t seem to mind them when she’s actually sticking her head out the window, but the minute the car stops, she wants them off!

I’ve been very busy with recording lately. I have five ACX projects in process, due between April and August. My part of Uncommon Grounds by Sandra Balzo is done. It’s now in post-processing at ACX. I’m still working on Poison in the Blood and Gunnora’s Dragons. I’ve also just started work on the second book of the Summer Chronicles, Forsaken Harbor; and I’ve just been offered The Digital Sea trilogy by Thomas K. Carpenter. I’ll be starting work on that once I finish the other three.

I had to get some dental work done a couple of weeks ago, and during the recovery time, while I was loopy on vicodin, I started working on some simple hats to donate to capsforacure.