Shake It Up…

Shake it Up – The Cars
I began a project for Berroco only to realize that, due to my gauge, I must search through the needle stash for a US 5. Ummmm, I never use 5’s! And there, standing lonely in a corner mason jar, covered by yarn and past projects, is a set of US 5’s…STRAIGHT NEEDLES! Who uses straight needles anymore?!?!  Really? Must I succumb to this? The answer: I must (unless I want to drive to the yarn shop and spend money on needles I thought I never used). Ugggggh. And so I cast on.

Again, really? People still use these things? They insist on hitting my elbows, scratching my lap, swirling my yarn around their ends, and before I’ve finished my first row, I’m more than frustrated. I ask the question again, “Who chooses to use straight needles?” Often I’m able to see both sides of a situation and give equal effort to pros and cons. Not here. Does even one pro exist in favor of straight needles? For if there is a more efficient tool, a more practical tool, a more portable too, a more comfortable tool; how have the straight not become extinct? My conclusion: CHANGE.

Change frightens most. Change intimidates. Change is uncertain and uncertainty opens the door to discomfort. Perhaps then, straight needle knitters are simply content in their straight needle world? Do they keep the door to discomfort closed, and rest happily in the certainty of straight needles; unaware of how wonderful circulars are? I can’t help but believe that if they were exposed to the goodness that is circular needles; they’d immediately convert and be glad for it. If this assumption is wrong, someone please enlighten me. Share with me the unforseeable pros of these inhibiting tools.

All this leads to a broader contemplation of the human person and its innate resistance to change. I am surrounded by two very distinct peoples in my world right now: those saturated in the comfort of tradition, wanting to bring back what they know to be familiar and good; and those desperately seeking change for a greater good. You could liken them to the straight needle knitters and the circular needle knitters. Both types of knitters want to finish their knitting projects, with gauges checked, tensions not too tight and not too lose, and not a missed stitch. How we knitters go about getting to that end result; however, is VERY different. Better or worse? I have my opinions –  all based on experience with both types of needles. And so, my conclusion comes: I need to educate others on the WONDERS of circular-needles. Put my passions in action. And hope, just hope, that perhaps my small doings will bring about greater good – not for me – but for all knitters! Here’s to believing that doing small things with great effort, will bring about big changes. Let’s shake it up!

…and if anyone has a needle better than circulars, I want to know about it!

 

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Rock You Like A Hurricane…

Rock You Like A Hurricane by The Scorpions

One of our babysitters, Kaitlin, just finished her first adult sized hat!  Yay Kaitlin! Knitting comes natural for her; however, like many of us, she too needs to believe in her abilities and trust her knowledge of knitting.  This fear, or difficulty trusting ourselves, is the very thing that, I think, keeps many of us from exploring new patterns, trying new techniques, or experimenting with a new fiber.  I coached Kaitlin through this pattern, and it turned out wonderfully.  It’s a quick knit.  It’s fairly simple, as all you need to know is the knit and purl stitches.  It’s a great pattern if you’ve never knit in the round before.  Overall, it was a great experience.  And if it was a great experience for Kaitlin, I thought it might be a great experience for others who are in a similar situation of wanting to knit and try something new without biting off too much right from the start.

This won’t be a traditional KAL (Knit-Along), but more of a “coaching” through the pattern.  I’ll include my thoughts and helpful tips throughout the pattern so that whenever you decide to give this a “go”, the help is right here!

Good Luck and don’t get caught up in the “hurricane” of this fun project…

Here is the link to this great Hurricane Hat pattern.  Go ahead, print it off!  It’s another great freebie, thanks to the author, Andrea.

First of all, I LOVE that this pattern calls for Malabrigo Merino Worsted yarn.  I’ve commented on this yarn before.  It is definitely one of my favorites.  You will need one hank of this yarn (which at your LYS – local yarn shop – will cost about $13).  Yes, you could buy a LionBrand or Vanna yarn for half that price, but if you’ve never treated yourself to the enjoyment of knitting with great fibers, please don’t settle for less.

Once you have your yarn, make sure you’ve got your needles.  You’ll need one set of US 7 circulars (4.5mm) that are 16” long (the 16” measures tip to tip).  If you don’t already have a set of these, this is a pretty standard size set of needles that will allow you to make lots of hats/scarves/and mittens.  Buy some if you don’t have them already. You will also want a set of double pointed needles of the same size for when you’re ready to decrease and close up the top.

Time to CO – cast on!  There are many ways to cast on.  My go-to is the long-tail cast on method.  It produces a nice flat edge with a decent amount of stretch/give.  So, cast on 81 sts (stitches).  Now flip your needles around so that your needle with the working yarn is in your right hand and the needle with your first CO stitch is in the let hand. Make sure that all your stitches are facing the same direction.  Touch your needle tips together and bend your work into a circle.  The smooth part of the stitches should be on the outside of your circle and the bumpy part should be on the inside.  Be careful for this first round to keep all stitches facing the same direction in order to avoid any twisting!  Also, make sure your working yarn is to the back of your needles and your tail lays to the front.  If the tail is too long and bothersome, cut it shorter.

The pattern says to knit the first and last stitch together to eliminate the jag.  What this means is, you are going to K2tog (knit two stitches together).  Instead of knitting the first two stitches together; however, you’re going to take the last stitch you cast on from your right needle and pass it over to your left needle. Instead of knitting only the first stitch, slip your right needle through both the first and second stitch and then knit them as if they were one stitch.  Pass  that new stitch back to the left needle, place a SM (stitch marker, or a twist tie, or a piece of looped yarn) onto your right needle and now you’re ready to continue the brim!  At this point you will have 80 sts on your needles.

To create the brim, the pattern calls for a K2, P2 ribbing.  Knit 2 sts, purl 2 sts and repeat this pattern all the way until you come to your SM (stitch marker).  When you reach your SM, you have made one complete round and will then just pass your SM from your left needle to the right and begin your K2 P2 pattern all over again.  You’ll repeat this roughly 5-6 times or until it measures 1.5″ from the CO edge.

When your brim is your desired length, you need to M1 (make one stitch).  Here’s a nice visual:

After you’ve done this, you will be back to 81 sts.  At this point you can also remove your SM, as it might just get in the way and confuse you for the body portion of the hat.

All you’re going to do is K9 and P1 all the way around and around and around!  You just keep repeating this combination of K9, P1.  You’ll notice that each time you go around the circle your purl stitches will fall one stitch earlier than the previous round.  This is, by the way, a great time to make sure you can differentiate between your knit and purl stitches. On your needle, a knit stitch will look like an open V.  The purl stitch will have a horizontal line across the stitch.  See if you can start differentiating between the two.

Work the body of this hat until it measures 5″ from your CO edge.

Now’s the fun part!  Closing up the top – decreasing rounds.  You don’t have to switch to double pointed needles at this point; however, it might be a good time now versus later when you’re working in much tighter quarters.  To transfer to double-pointed needles:

  • Take the first 20 stitches from your left needle and pass them over, one by one, onto one of your unused double pointed needles.  Imagine putting your needles tip to tip and just moving the stitch from left needle to right.  Nothing fancy.
  • Take another unused double pointed needle and continue to pass the next 20 stitches onto it.  Continue the same with the third and fourth needles. The fourth needle will have 21 stitches as there should be 81 stitches total.

Now that you’re on double pointed needles, you will continue working in a circle just like you were, except now you have to move from needle to needle.  TRUST YOURSELF, you can do this!

So, find the first needle you transferred stitches onto, and with your remaining 5th empty needle, begin round 1 of decrease.  You’re going to K7.  Insert your free needle into the left, as to knit, and pull the yarn from the 4th needle of the circle and knit the first stitch.  It’s a bit of a handful at this point.  When you need to begin working on a new needle, you’ll always have THREE needles in front of you:

  1. The left needle that holds the stitches you are about to work
  2. The right needle that holds both the stitches you just worked and your working yarn
  3. Your free needle with which you will use to begin knitting the next needle

Try holding the two needles you’ll be knitting with in your left hand, and then use your right hand to pull the needle from that 3rd needle you just finished working. You’ll want to pull tightly, and all three needles are going to be very close together, but stick with it. You want this to be pulled tightly so to avoid a larger gap/or large stitch.  K7, K2tog, P1 and repeat this pattern all the way around until you’ve worked all the stitches from all 4 needles and are back to where you started.  Each round correlates to one time around your circle (or once around each of your 4 needles).  Continue the decreasing.  If it gets to be too small and 4 needles are more than you need.  You can always transfer your stitches so that you only have 3 needles in your circle.  Simply move stitches around, as you did when you first transferred onto the double pointed needles.  You’ll have more stitches per needle, but with only 3 needles it might be a little less hectic.

After you’ve decreased all rounds.  Cut your yarn so that you still have a decent tail.  About 12″ or so is great.  Thread the tail through a darning needle and travel through each remaining stitch, continuing in the direction of your working circle.  (Slip your needle through a stitch and then slip that stitch off the needle)  Work each stitch one by one until all stitches are off the needles and on your tail yarn.  Pull your tail yarn tightly and your top hole should close up nicely.  Thread your needle through the center of your top hole to the inside of the hat.  Turn the hat inside out and then simply thread your needle back and forth through the stitches on the back of the hat to secure.  Cut your yarn and VOILA!

Would love to hear how the project went for you!!!