Needles, Needles, Needles

I’m working a lot knitting socks. Trying some new patterns and trying different needles, too.

Knitter's Pride Dreamz DPN

Knitter’s Pride Dreamz DPN

I have a set of new Knitter’s Pride “dreamz” 6-inch double pointed needles in US1 (2.25mm) needles and they’re going to help me knit up some wonderful socks using  Susan B. Anderson’s “How I Make My Socks” pattern and Patons Kroy Socks in Spring Leaf Stripes colorway (that I’ve had in my stash for a few months.) I am really liking these needles. They are smooth but not slippery. The tips are pointy enough but I’d like to have a little more tip … they are almost rounded off at the tip rather than pointy and pointy is better when you’re using fine yarns. At this price point, however, they are very reasonable and they are nice to work with.

Signature Needle Arts DPN

Signature Needle Arts DPN

My other socks are on my Signature Needle Arts 6-inch US1 DPNs. (One of which I seem to have lost already. I am hoping that I left it at the office on Friday and that I will find it when I return tomorrow. You’ll understand why one would worry about the loss of one needle when you are told that I paid $48 for a set of four needles. Thus, one needle is valued at $12 which, by the way, is more than a set of 5 Dreamz needles.) The yarn that I am using is Gale’s Art Wonder Sock in the Graffiti colorway. I love this yarn’s color and it was one that I fell in love with and went to buy immediately after casting my eyes upon it. That doesn’t happen often. The Signature needles, while pricey, are worth every cent. I love the stiletto points and the yarn slips easily over them without slipping off them. I’d say that these are my favorites and I will collect more as my pocketbook allows.

I’ve had many (many!) sets of needles over the course of my knitting career. From the “cheap-o” needles that you can buy on sale at the big box craft stores to my pricey Signatures. I bought my first boxed set of needles at a half-price going out of business sale in Cincinnati, Ohio. I thought spending $50 for a set of Denise Interchangeable Needles was a huge expense. And I loved the needles. Until I discovered Addis! Addi cords were so much more flexible and they’ve been through several iterations since my first circular needles. One summer I bought a set of HIya Hiya needles (around $70- $80?) and I fell in love again. The transition between the needles and cords were much smoother than the Denise needles and the single circs that I bought here and there. No matter what brand of bamboo circular needle I seemed to buy, the transitions were often rough.

And then one  year I took some classes with Annie Modesitt and discovered Signatures. I’ve often asked for them for my birthday and Christmas and mother’s day, too. I tend to buy 40″ circulars because I can use them in magic loop in so many applications. I have one pair of straights and one pair of their DPNs. They are all magnificent and the tips are nice and pointy.

Limited Edition Knitter's Pride Dreamz (well worn!)

Limited Edition Knitter’s Pride Dreamz (well worn!)

I was gifted one more lovely set of needles a couple of Christmases ago. They are a limited edition set of Knitter’s Pride Dreams interchangeable circular needles. They have been so well used for so often (and taken with me when I travel or teach) that the box is starting to show some wear. I love the needles. The cords are nice and flexible and the transitions are mostly smooth. I have a couple of needles that are not as smooth as others. But, over all, this set is a decent price point and they are pretty colors and they are great to knit with.

Needles, like friends, are a personal choice. We all have our favorites or besties. None are “bad”, some are better for different projects. Have you ever travelled with a friend who you can only take in small doses or one who snores? It makes travel a challenge! Needles are the same! When you have the wrong needles, your project will be a challenge. I like to use bamboo with “slippery” yarn (like mohair). I use circulars for almost everything these days but I still like to knit socks on DPNs, too.

Variety is the spice of life, right?

Gone knitting.

My Favorite Thing

 

imageThis little pair of cat scissors is on of my favorite things.

I bought them at my LYS here in Orlando for less than $10. They came in several colors.

Ive added a longer chain to mine so I can wear it around my neck. But it’s wonderful. And I imagine that I can take it on airplanes if I so choose and still be able to cut my yarn! Woo! Hoo!

Gone knitting!

 

Organize Your Cords

Not vocal cords, not electrical cords, not all those cords that are around your desk. This is a great way to organize your cords for interchangeable knitting needle sets!

Typically, you’ll buy a set (or better yet, get them as a gift like I did at Christmas time – thanks, Glenda! I love you.) One of my sets comes in a special collectors’ box and I can’t imagine taking them all out to organize because they looks so pretty! But if you’re buying extra cords or want to travel with all your needles and no boxes, this is a tip for you!

Julie's AMAZING organization!

Julie’s AMAZING organization!

Can you see it? Julie’s clipped her cords with a little binder clip. Genius!

Here's a single cord so you can see it even better!

Here’s a single cord so you can see it even better!

And even better, check THIS out!

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Geez, my thumb looks wrinkly!

Julie’s used some white out pen to mark the cord length on the binder clip. You could use white out pen or there are also those terrific paint pens that would probably be a bit more permanent.

I just loved this idea and couldn’t wait to share it with you!

Gone knitting!

 

Casting On!

I’m casting on another new project. I probably shouldn’t be doing it, but I am. So there! 🙂

I saw a wonderful cowl pattern on the internet and just HAD to know what it was. Wouldn’t you know it was a Purl Soho/Purl Bee pattern (I’ve never seen a project that I didn’t like from that site!) called the Fluted Cowl (FREE pattern! Click here.)

It calls for 300 yards of a bulky weight wool. So, into my (beautifully organized) stash I went to see if I had what I needed and, sure enough, there it was. Sitting there looking back at me. Begging me to take it out of the bin and knit with it after all these years. Well, not really, but it sounds good doesn’t it?

Years and years ago I bought Some Jo Sharp Silkroad Ultra in a colorway called “Seafoam”. Five skeins of it. Why five? Because there were only five left and I really liked the color and the hand of the yarn. It was also at least 50% off because the shop was closing.

I’ve made an executive decision to use a US #13 needle because I don’t have the size that the pattern asks for. And since it’s a cowl not a sweater, the gauge isn’t as much a strict rule as a guideline. The cowl will be a bit smaller than the one in the pattern but that’s ok.

First cast on effort (yes, first means that I have had more than one!) was using a long tail cast on. I usually use this method and generally it works if I plan for approximately an inch of yarn per stitch. So, since the pattern asks for 196 stitches, I gave it three generous “wing spans” and then some figuring that my wing span is about 5.5 feet (I counted 60 stitches). Wrong. I got 169 stitches on my needles.

So, on round two, I decided to do a more “sure thing” cast on and used the knitted cast on. If you’ve never done it, it’s really simple.

Start with a slip knot on your left hand needle. Knit into the stitch (just like normal knitting) on the left-hand needle knit-wise.

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Insert the right-hand needle knit-wise

Now you can go ahead and wrap the yarn around the back needle and pull it through the “old” stitch. (Good grief, my hands and fingernails look awful! That’s what I get for trying a gel manicure with no intentions to continue to have them done!)

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Wrap the yarn around the needle and pull through to create the new stitch

Pull the stitch through the old stitch and you have one new stitch on your right-hand needle.

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Here’s your new stitch! You’re almost there!

Now, slip the new stitch from the right- to the left-hand needle and tighten the stitch down. Important note: when you’re slipping the stitch to the left-hand needle, twist your right-hand needle a quarter turn clockwise … make sure your two needle points are facing the same direction and then you’ll be passing the stitch the right way. Don’t just pass the stitch from right to left with the needles pointing opposite ways. I know it’s a bit confusing, but if you try it, you’ll see what I mean!

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Now just slip the new stitch back onto the left-hand needle and tighten it up.

Knitted Cast On

Voila! You’ve added one stitch. Now insert your right-hand needle into the new stitch on the left-hand needle knit-wise … and off you go!

You’ve cast on one new stitch. Now just start over again from the first step and repeat for as many stitches as you need for your project.

This way, you’re adding stitches with your working yarn rather than using the tail for your new stitches. This way you won’t get to 169 stitches and have three inches of yarn left for a tail (and nearly 30 stitches short of what is required!)

A new cast on method for you. I now need to go cast on another 190 stitches!

Gone knitting!

Organizing my Patterns

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Pattern Storage (and popcorn ceiling)

Organization is something I love. I don’t like disorder much. So, when my atelier is out of order, I am not as grounded and efficient as I could/can be.

Thank goodness for 3-ring binders. I have, over the years, decided that this is the best way for me to organize my printed patterns (whether purchased or printed from sites) in binders. I have a huge box of sheet protectors that I bought at Costco, too. The patterns are slipped into plastic sheet protectors and then snapped into binders. The binders are getting switched around a bit now, since the pattern supply is growing, but I have seven or eight with labels on the spine. Cowls & Scarves, Kids, Sweaters – Adult, Dogs, Dish Cloths, Socks & Slippers, and then I have the old stand-by with miscellaneous patterns, bags & totes, mittens (the latter will be broken up as soon as I get to Costco again.

My magazines (which I never NEVER throw away) are organized by date and title in magazine files. IKEA has the best files for the most reasonable price. I have green ones in my atelier’s closet. They hold all my magazines together so they don’t get mangled or torn. One day I plan to go through them and mark the patterns that I like well enough to knit but it hasn’t happened yet.

Lastly, I have my books. They are on a shelf in my atelier. Reference books for knitting are something that I love having around – even just for an hour, I will sometimes pull them off the shelf and look at the pictures or read a few pages. I  have the Barbara Walker treasuries and the Sally Melville books as well as a few others. Then there are the fun ones like Noni Flowers, Knitting Mochimochi, and a few books about Aran knitting (perhaps my favorite.)

All of the classes that I’ve taken also have a binder (or share a binder if there were few hand-outs). My certifications also have a binder. All with my swatches, labeled and in page protectors.

So, there you are! I’d love to hear about how you organize your patterns and books. I know some people prefer to have their patterns in hanging files and I’m sure there are other ways as well. If you’d like to share your ideas and thoughts, I’d love to hear about what you do.

I didn't even talk about my needles!

I didn’t even talk about my needles!

Gone knitting.

How to Weave in Ends as you Knit!

I just completed a pair of wonderful striped Christmas stockings. They are beautiful – but they had a bazillion ends that needed to be woven in at the end of the project

At least a bazillion loose ends!

… unless you knew this trick!

You can weave in the ends as you go and avoid the drudgery at the end! (It’s a bit like avoiding seaming by learning to knit in the round!)

So, “how do you do it?” you ask? Here’s how.

When you’ve knit to the place where you need to change colors or yarns, you can make your first stitch with the new yarn. And what you’re going to do is ” carry” the yarn to be woven in (the old color of yarn) across the next row of stitches by alternatively bringing the old yarn tail up and over your needle and knitting a stitch and then bringing the tail down and knitting a stitch.

Here are a couple of illustrations:

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On right is first green stitch. Making stitch #2

Making the second stitch of the first green row of stitches by inserting right hand needle into the second stitch knit-wise.

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Carry the yarn tail

Bring the yarn tail to be woven in (the black yarn) across the stitches. First bring the tail up over the needle and then wrap your new yarn around the stitch to be made.

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With tail over the needle, wrap your new yarn around the needle to make the next stitch (green)

Bring the tail back down and then finish your stitch.

IMG_0820Make the next stitch “normally” with the tail being held down so that your yarn is carried over the tail yarn (black) when you make the stitch.

Alternate bringing the tail yarn over the needles and holding the tail yarn down while you make the next four or five stitches. That should be enough to hold the tail. You can finish your row and cut the tails close to your stitches.

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The tail is woven in and doesn’t even show – unfortunately, I chose black yarn so you really can’t see the tail!

I hope this helps!

Gone knitting!

 

Annie says … On slipping and decreasing

I “promised” way back when (I took the weekend courses with the wonderful, beautiful, talented, Annie Modesitt) to post some tips that I gleaned from the classes. There were so many wonderful bits that she offered and, today, I’d like to share a couple of those with you!

Tip 1

When asked to slip a stitch, the default is always to slip the stitch purl-wise by inserting the right needle into the stitch to be slipped from the right to the left in front of the left needle.

Insert right needle as if to purl (from right to left in front of left needle) ... OMG, my thumb has dry skin!

Tip 1.1

Annie attributes the following tip to her friend Sally Melville (I have all of her books. Now, it’s time to actually read them rather than looking at the pretty pictures and reading snippets!)

When slipping stitches: if you’re going to use the stitch again in the same row, slip the stitch knit-wise. If not, slip the stitch purl-wise (the default, see tip 1).

Tip 2

Annie has her way of decreasing down to a science. When you want to decrease with stitches leaning to the left, you would “typically” be told to “SSK” or “slip, slip, knit”. To do this you slip one stitch from the left to right needle knit-wise as if you were going to knit it (see tip 1.1), slip another stitch from the left to right needle knit-wise and then knit the two together (bring the left needle through the front of both stitches on the right needle, wrap the yarn as if you were knitting, slide the new stitch on the right needle and slip the two old stitches off the left needle.)

Slip - Insert right needle into stitch from left to right as if to knit

Knit - Insert left needle left to right into the front of the 2 slipped stitches

An easier way …

SSK is very manipulative (to the stitches, anyway!) The more you manipulate the stitches, the more likely they are to get stretched out. So, you end up with the same thing if you K2togTBL (knit two together through the back loop) or as Annie writes it K2togL (knit two together left). To K2togTBL, insert the right needle through the back loop of two stitches, wrap the yarn as if to knit, slip new stitch onto the right needle and the two old stitches off the left needle. One stitch decreased. The decreased stitch leans to the left.

Insert right needle through the back loop of two stitches

Another way to think about this (decreasing to lean either left or right) is to watch your needles.

A K2tog (Annie would write this K2togR) will lean to the right (in the direction of the direction of your left hand needle) …

K2tog - right needle points to right ... decrease will lean right

SSK or K2togTBL or T2togL will lean to the left … again, watch your needles!

K2togTBL - Right hand needle is pointing to the left, decrease will lean left

The final result … whichever way you choose to make a decreased stitch … is the same. Look at the first two (on left side of needle) stitches. One is a SSK and one is a T2togTBL.

After ... two left leaning decreases (one on l. is K2togTBL, on r. SSK)

Tip 3 and Tip 4

Totally unrelated to knitting except for the fact that it’s about a knitter.

Annie uses Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals make up. I’m going to look into it because I love the idea of sunblock being in the makeup!

She also loves to knit on Signature needles. I’m coveting my first pair and will report on their beauty when the gift fairy brings me some.

But for now, I’ve gone knitting!