Casting a Circle

How do you like to knit in the round?  I have now tried using the double pointed needles method, Magic Loop Method, and the basic circular needle method.   So today I’m going to break down my experiences with these approaches.

Double Pointed Needle (DPN)

This image was taken from WEBS yarn store blog featuring the Knitter’s Pride brand of cubic needles.dpn
There are many reasons to be able to knit with DPN’s.  If you are making a project in the round that requires decrease rows, this is an important skill.  If you were simply doing a cowl that maintains the same measurements throughout the project you could easily use circular needles in the round from beginning to end.  However, if you are making a hat, once you begin decreasing your stitches to taper your hat to a close, you will eventually have too few stitches to continue in that method.  At that point you will need to slip your stitches onto dpn’s dividing them as evenly as possible between 3 needles (some divide between 4) and using an additional needle to work the stitches.  However, one of the issues of knitting with dpn’s is the problem of laddering:

dpn-laddering

This can actually be a very cool design element when done intentionally.  Otherwise it is an annoying disruption in an otherwise lovely pattern.

The most basic approach to dealing with this is, when working the first two stitches of each needle, to make sure you pull them snug before continuing on.

Then there is the Magic Loop Method.

This is a short, but clearly explained video on how to do Magic Loop by Very Pink.

This is the method I learned most recently while knitting my Mercury Socks as described in For the Journey.  Since I’m a novice at this particular approach I will say that I’m glad I know how to do it, but it’s not my favorite way at this moment in time.  I think the problem for me may be that I learned to do this while knitting a sock, a smaller project, using a circular needle with a very long cable.  So doing this while trying to keep the excess needle out of my way was kind of “fiddley” for me and would get on my nerves.  Having said that, as is mentioned in the video above, it would be a good method to know for a larger tube such as sleeves or cowls, especially if you didn’t have the precise size of circular needles on hand and you don’t feel like dropping the cash for some new ones.  I hate getting excited about starting a project and finding out something small is preventing me from beginning.  This would be a good way to avoid that.

This method has less tendency to ladder since there are fewer joins to think about, but as with the dpns you still need to make sure the first two stitches are snugged up to avoid it.  With the Mercury Sock project I completed, I still had a small amount of laddering, mostly due to this being my first time using this method.  Fortunately, it was all at the bottom of the socks.  Since I will be keeping this pair for myself, no harm, no foul.  They turned out beautifully otherwise and I love them.teaandyarn

When I have enough socks knit up (working on a new pair now) I will do a post doing a “Sock Strut” fashion show to showcase my growing collection of hand knit socks.

Another plus to this method is that you don’t need to switch to dpns even when decreasing.  That alone would be reason enough for some folks to learn this method.

As I said, I’m definitely glad I learned to do this and as I become more proficient at it, it may win me over completely.

Finally there is the basic circular needle method of knitting in the round. Since this is my personal favorite, I saved the best for last.

circularneedlebeauty

This image comes from Fiber Flux Blog  where Jennifer discusses this method of knitting in the round.

When I learned how to knit in the round using this method,  it opened a whole new world of possibilities for me.  As I discussed in my first post Knitting In the Apocalypse,  knitting was always a kind of therapy/relaxation for me.  But I had few other knitters around to help me gain true skill.  So up until that point there had been endless piles of scarves and blankets.

But I was able to join a knitting group that met at a local Starbucks of the town to where I would eventually relocate.  They were very generous and welcoming and one of them starbucks-coffee-cuptaught me how to do this.  Learning to knit in the round gave me hats, cowls, and eventually sleeves for sweaters.  Once I learned the basics of it, it was just as therapeutic, but way more impressive in terms of what I could create.

I like this method so much that recently I purchased a pair of 9 inch circular needles so I could use them for sock knitting.  It took me a bit of time to adjust to working in the round on such a small cable length, but once I got the hang of it, I was sold.  I think this will be my go-to method for sock knitting for now.

So what is your favorite way of making yarny magick?  Please leave comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

I have two wands and string and muttering I make beautiful things,

Jamye

 

 

 

Yarn, Colors, and Friends

This past Saturday I went to my first ever yarn dyeing class.  I have been itching (not dying, avoiding bad puns here) to do this for a long time.  In the last few months as a part of my knitty, fiber-loving journey I decided that this was the next stop.  As I watched podcasts and explored the many and wonderful online shops that sell hand-dyed yarn and saw all the amazing colorways and creative and intriguing names I knew that this was something I wanted to do.

My lovely pussy-hat wearing and proofreading friend Jen knew Sonya, owner of City Stitch Yarn Shoppe  who teaches a variety of classes and she arranged one to teach us how to dye.  Jen and I were joined by our friend Maggie Orr.  Maggie is a designer on Ravelry with numerous beautiful patterns both free and paid.  You can find her patterns on her Maggie Menzel page.

The day of the class was beautiful day and only a 30 minute drive to the location (music blasting).  Sonia, our teacher, was the ideal instructor, full of experience, sound information, and with a personality that kept things both calm and fun.

While the skeins of undyed yarn (100% Merino) were soaking in hot water on the stove to prep them for taking dye, we chose our colors.  Since we were working as a group we had to agree on 5 colors between us.  We settled on Gunmetal Grey, Teal, Orange, Purple, and Dark Blue.

Sonia had set up a screen laying over plastic containers for each of us.  When the skeins were ready each of us laid ours in a long oval donut on the screen just over the containers. We needed to work while the yarn was still hot so each of us began selecting the colors which were in squirt bottles, like the ketchup bottles you would see at a diner, and began applying the colors.  We would apply a color here or there, another color, step back and contemplate the look and then chose which color was needed next.  Once we were satisfied with the look, we carefully flipped the skein over and repeated the process on the other side.   We checked for sections that had not been reached by the dye and “filled in the blanks” with more color.

Once we were happy with our products we carefully squeezed the yarn with our fingers to help lightly blend colors that were adjacent to each other.

The next step took us to the sink to rinse our yarn with hot water until it ran clear.

Then Sonia said, “This is the part where the neighbors look at you funny”.  We all trooped outside and, right on a busy street, swung our brilliant lassos of yarn to spin out as much of the moisture as possible.

Jen, who lives near the shop, offered to take them all home to hang and dry and bring them back to the shop for skeining before Wednesday Knit Night.

We were all so excited to begin dyeing that none of us thought to take pictures of the class.  But we did capture the end results.

Here is a pic of mine in the drying stage:

handdyed

Now keeping in mind that, while we each chose different colors to work with, we were still drawing from the same pool of 5 colors.  Here are each of our works in the skein:

3skeinsI love how the very different results show the creativity and personality of each one of us.  So amazing the endless variety and artistry that each of us can create.

We, of course, had a great time selecting fitting names for our colorways. The top skein is my “Galaxy Dust” since it has a darker tone but with pops of color.  The middle skein is Maggie’s, it hinted at a green pool inhabited by goldfish.  This became “Koi Dreaming”.  Jen’s with its deep blues, greens,  and grays made us think of the colors of the deep ocean.  So it was christened “Mariana Trench”.

After bringing it home I caked it up and then knit up a small swatch to see how the colorway knit up.  This was my result:

cake

This lighting is not ideal, but I can say I’m really pleased with how this is working up.  It is a fingering weight yarn, but has no nylon, so I will not be making socks with this one.  I’m considering a Space-themed shawl to touch on both the name of this colorway as well as my recent shawl knitting streak.  But I’m going to sit and admire it for a while before deciding just what it should become.

I’m really looking forward to digging deeper into the art of yarn dyeing and exploring the variety of colorways that can be created.  To that end I’ve purchased :dyeingbook

I can’t wait to read, learn and experiment.  Soon I expect to see strands of color hanging from my back porch as they dry.  Oh, the joy.

In other News:

For those of you who enjoyed Yarn, Spring, and All Good Things and are wondering how our chicks are doing.  I am happy to report that they all seem to be thriving.  They have graduated from brooder to coop but have not yet made their first foray outside.  I check on them regularly and while I hope they will become more accustomed to my presence, right now I am still a big, scary monster, it seems.

Things are greening up around the homestead and I’ve been doing a roll call of herbs to see what has come back this year. So far Oregano, Thyme, Lemon Balm, and Mint have shown themselves.  I’m considering what will be revived or added to the herb garden.  Today I potted Basil, Cilantro, and sowed some German Chamomile for tea.  There will definitely be other additions, but I am still choosing just what those will be.

Since I’m still reveling in the joy of the creative process my wish for you is that you will thoroughly enjoy whatever creative outlet you claim as your own.

Peace,

Jamye

 

 

Yarn, Spring, and All Good Things

Any day yarn arrives in the mail is a good day.darngood

Any day baby chicks come home with you for your first flock is a good day.

chicks

Any day you can spend time with two of the cutest boys on the planet is a good day.

cute

I have had a seriously, extravagantly, perhaps unfairly good day.

Forgive me for reveling, but everyone deserves a day like that from time to time.  I’m grateful for the ones that come my way. Continue reading “Yarn, Spring, and All Good Things”

One for the Road

I’m not that monogamous.  But only when it comes to books and knitting, my husband doesn’t have a thing to worry about.couple

Many knitters refer to themselves as being Monogamous–sticking to one project until its completion or

NOT Monogamous–having a variety of project on the needles at the same time.

I fall firmly in the second camp when it comes to this. Continue reading “One for the Road”

Comfort Food or Comfort Yarn?

Do you think you can jinx yourself?  Is it really a bad idea to say something like, “Wow, I’ve had a really good week so far”?  Will disaster inevitably ensue?disaster

Once, when I worked in a hospital, I commented, “It’s pretty quiet tonight” One of the nurses glared at me and joking/not joking said, “You better knock on wood!!”.

Where is this going?  Couple things:

1) I keep a running list of blog ideas in a notebook for future use. One of them was the concept of comfort yarn instead of comfort food.

2) Recently I was thinking how healthy I’ve been and that I didn’t remember the last time I had been sick. Soooooooo, guess who got sick this week?  Sigh.

I felt it coming on Thursday night.  “Take extra Vitamin C”, I said.  “Get some extra sleep”, I said.  “You’ll be fine”, I said.  Yeah.  Didn’t exactly work out like that. Continue reading “Comfort Food or Comfort Yarn?”

Yarn Buying: Bloodsport

 

oldlady
You look cold!

Say the word “knitting ” and many people immediately conjure up the image of a sweet little grandmother contentedly creating hats, gloves, scarves and socks to the rhythm of her rocking chair.  No one within her family will be cold and likely, few people within a 2 mile radius of her house will be either.

However, most people who knit AND spend anytime online see the rising resurgence of knitting as a passion. Continue reading “Yarn Buying: Bloodsport”

For the Journey

 

Toward the end of every year I genuinely look forward to writing up a list of New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m odd like that. I’m ok with being odd like that.  I think I enjoy it for a couple of reasons:

1) I LOVE learning new things. There is always some new art or skill I want to learn and the list is a promise to myself that this year I will be learning something that I have been itching to try.

2) Also, my resolutions list has a bucket list quality to it, since I include things like the tattoo that I want to add or the trip I want to take. Again, something I really want to do.  So, even though my list may or may not include the ever-present “lose 10 pounds” or “organize the garage” they are deposited in with a plethora of things that delight my soul so they don’t seem as daunting or dreadful. Continue reading “For the Journey”