April 2009


Right, decreases, double pointed needles (dpns) and binding off our completely unseasonable wool hats!

Well hopefully you have made it through the knit 2 purl 2 ribbing without wanting to chew up your yarn and spit it out, or put it in time out for awhile (it happens, its normal, don’t worry). Still with me? Great. And now your hat should look something like this:

What mine looks like before decreasing, click to see bigger.

What mine looks like before decreasing, click to see bigger.

Of course, ymmv, and likely you used different colors, and a different yarn, and hopefully you haven’t run into any gauge issues and you have something you will be able to wear this winter. If you had gauge issues and ended up with a baby hat, see if you can find someone who will have a baby this fall! If you ended up with a huge hat…we’ll call it a style choice. As an aside, I usually try mine on while it is on needles to see if it is long enough. If it comes down over my ears even without finishing, I figure it is good.

So, where to go from here? Now we need to start decreasing for the crown of the hat, so that it has a rounded top, instead of some sort of avant garde top. Decreasing can be extremely easy, and we are going to use the easy techniques on this hat. On the next round, we are going to knit 2 (k2) and then purl 2 together (p2tog), instead of k2p2. To purl 2 together, you just put your right hand needle through 2 stitches instead of 1, and purl them as if they were just 1 – thus decreasing from 2 stitches to 1. Like so: 

 

See how the right hand needle is through 2 stitches? Then I purled. Click to make bigger.

See how the right hand needle is through 2 stitches? Then I purled. Click to make bigger.

After k2 p2tog all the way round, we are now going to k2p1 for 4 rounds. This is so we end up with the right amount of rounding. If you decrease too quickly, you end up with a way shorter hat than expected, with a very flat top, if you do it too slowly, you end up with a point on your head. On the next round, we will knit 2 together (k2tog) and then p1, all the way around. This works the same way as purling 2 together, just with knitting. Like this:

Knitting 2 stitches together, to decrease by 1. Click to make bigger.

Knitting 2 stitches together, to decrease by 1. Click to make bigger.

At a certain point, you are going to find that your stitches are being stretched way out by your circular needle (usually right around the end of the k2tog p1 row). This is when you move to your double pointeds or dpns. Note: you will find it hard to use a stitch marker with dpns. At this point you should have 32 stitches left, and will need to do some more buffer rows to make the hat just round enough. On the next round k1p1 onto your dpns. Don’t be scared, just do it, and make sure that when you have about 10 or 11 stitches on one needle, you start a new needle (I am assuming you are using 4 dpns). Like this:

Starting a new dpn, so the stitches are evenly distributed.

Starting a new dpn, so the stitches are evenly distributed.

When working with the double pointeds, you should always have 1 that is not holding any stitches. This becomes your right hand needle, and you knit and purl the stitches off another needle, onto it, thereby freeing the left hand needle to become the right hand one. Clear as mud? This tutorial has lovely pictures that may help.

Ok, now that the hat is on dpns, k1p1 for another 2 rows (for a total of 3 since the decrease row). Then we are going to get crazy, k2tog, p2tog for 1 row. You will now be down to 16 stitches total. k1p1 for 1 row, and then k2tog all the way around for 8 stitches left, and we’ll bind off now. This is what you should be looking at:

I'm ready to bind off!

I'm ready to bind off!

Binding off hats is REALLY simple. Easier than any other bind off ever. Cut your yarn, to leave about 8 inches of tail. Now, using your yarn needle, thread the tail through each of the 8 stitches you have left, take the needles out, pull it tight, and thread the rest of the tail down into the hat, and voila, you have a hat!

Yay, we finished knitting!

Yay, we finished knitting!

A hat with weird tassle things inside it, but a hat, none-the-less.

But not finishing!

But not finishing!

Usually with hats I’m not much for finishing, and tend to just knot my loose ends tightly and then trim them so they don’t show while I’m wearing it. However, many people believe you should weave in ends on everything. The choice is yours, but I am a firm believer in hiding ends on the inside of things (scarves and shawls being obviously exceptions). Oh, and last but not least, blocking! I never pin hats out, but a good soak and dry often softens up rough yarns. Here is a great method that I have used.

Hope this worked for you (though it was long-winded) and you had fun and now have a hat you can wear! (once it gets cold again.)

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LOOK!!! BABY BASIL!!!

And I grew it myself.

And I grew it myself.

Yeah, that’s the ticket! I swear, that is why I haven’t posted in 2 weeks. Scout’s honor.

But, while the sea monkeys were busy arguing over what to do with me, I finished a project! Check it out! I finished my mother-in-law’s Christmas lace scarf (now that it is almost May and she won’t be able to wear it…can’t have everything). The tendonitis ruined my ability to finish it on time, and has continued to plague me just enough that 4 months later, almost to the day, I have finished it!

Happy Holidays! click to make bigger.

Happy Holidays!

This was my first blocking of lace (can’t tell you how much fun the cats thought it looked), and I think it turned out rather nice. Though please pardon the non-color-corrected picture, its actually sort of a pale grey/lavender color, and the couch it is reclining on (cats being poor lace models) is hunter green. Oh, wait, must have been the light coming in from the porthole in the sea monkey ship….that would have made it all weird, sure…..

Now that my cats have rescued me from almost certain doom, I feel certain I can tackle the last bit of my hat-making adventure soon!

The yarn is Art Yarns Silk Mohair Glitter in colorway 124 (very descriptive colorway, I know), the pattern is this one.  I used about 2.3 skeins of yarn to do it, held doubled.

Edit: out of the kindness of her heart (or out of a love of procrastination) Kaela has color corrected the scarf image. This is much closer to the way it actually looks.

Yay!

Yay!

So, as I said before, I firmly believe that hats are the way to begin knitting. I really think that if I had started with scarves, I would not be a knitter today (I have actually seen this happen, people knit a couple of scarves, say ‘is this all there is? I’m bored.’ and never touch needles again!). I have literally only made 2 and 2 halves and 3/4 scarves (there are 3 scarves on needles right now [one of which is years old], I get bored easily with scarves), unless you count a couple of neck wrap things I’ve made from a pattern that was supposed to be a head wrap! On the other hand, I have made …here we pause while I count on my fingers… at least 8 hats, one of them twice because it didn’t turn out quite like I expected (wish I had pictures of the original hat to post so we could talk about it!). Yes I know that that is not extremely prolific, but I never claimed to be fast, just a knitter…and we haven’t discussed any of the baby blankets and sweater pieces and other random stuff I have knit.

Anyway, last week I totally punked out on telling you how to make this vaguely homely, but very easy, hat. So I figured, that maybe a beginning hat knit-along might be in order. I will knit a 2nd hat of that same style, and using a similar weight of yarn, and show you, step by step, how to do it. This week we’ll cast it on and start working in the round, and next week we’ll do decreases, and the dreaded double pointed needles.

For this hat you will need a size 10.5 16 inch circular needle and double pointed needles, a yarn needle, a couple of stitch markers (nothing fancy, I’ve used well washed o-rings from a tool box before) and 1 skein of bulky yarn. Here is what I’m planning to use:

the supplies for my new hat - click to see bigger

the supplies for my new hat - click to see bigger

That is a skein of Reynolds Lopi in Grey Tweed and a little bit of some dark teal I might use that is leftover from another project (I like stripey hats). It can be a bit itchy, but its very warm, because it is 100% wool, and it felts really nicely if you want it to. If you have a local yarn shop, I recommend supporting them before using a big online store, plus you can feel the yarn first, so you will know how itchy it is and make another decision if you can’t deal with itchy. I have been toying with the idea of adding a flannel lining to make these hats less itchy for the wearer, but sewing is not my forte, so if you try it, let me know how it goes!

My beardie, in full-on run

My beardie, in full-on run

And that colorway (the knitterly term for yarn color or colors if it is variegated) reminds me of my puppy who still lives with my parents. See?

To begin, we will use the circular needles to cast on 64 stitches. My favorite cast on is the knitted cast on – which for this hat, I modified to casting on 2 stitches knit wise and 2 purl wise. Don’t worry if this sounds confusing, here is what I mean for purlwise (I use the method from the link for knitwise):

Hope this helps!! Otherwise just cast on knitwise and it will be fine!

Hope this helps!! Otherwise just cast on knitwise and it will be fine! click to make bigger.

If you are up for a challenge, you can try either taking a picture of your own hands knitting (phew!) or try a long-tail ribbed cast on, but I actually didn’t learn such things until very recently, so I usually use my old reliable knitted cast on unless a pattern specifically says not to.  So keep casting on 2 knit and then 2 purl stitches until you have 64 stitches. A quick hint for counting – if you put a stitchmarker in after every 20 stitches, you can count more easily, and won’t have to recount each individual stitch 35 times.

Now you will join the knitting in the round – being careful not to twist the stitches. Get used to reading that one, it is in every pattern ever written for knitting in the round. So here is what not twisted stitches look like:

note the bumps are all around the outside of the needle circle

note the bumps are all around the outside of the needle circle

Note that the bottoms of each stitch stay in a line, and don’t go all roller-coaster spirally around the needle. Put a stitch marker on the needle in your right hand, to mark the beginning of the round.

 

 

Now just start knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls, like so:

a few stitches into the first row.

a few stitches into the first row.

 

Every time you get to the stitch marker, just slip it to the needle in your right hand and keep going. Keep working on it until its long enough to roll up, or not, depending on what you like. Feel free to add stripes if you want to (just start knitting and purling with a 2nd color at the beginning of a row, cut the 1st color to about a 6 inch tail and tie the tails of the 2 together). We’ll do decreases and bind off next time!

I know not everyone knits the way that I do, so, as always, your mileage may vary – and let the record show that that yarn is the least cooperative for pictures ever! I will interview the potential yarns much more vigorously next time!

For the 2nd part of this tutorial, click here!

So this weekend my husband and I reorganized our office closet. And my husband discovered how much yarn 8 years of knitting accumulates. The refrain of the day was “what is in this bag/box?” “more yarn.”

And he promptly dragged me out to get a double wide hamper to accomodate it. The double wide hamper wasn’t enough. My yarn stash is currently filling the hamper, plus 2 milk crates, and my works-in-progress more than fill one of those 3 drawer tupperware things – the ones that are about 2 feet tall. And from what I understand, from reading other knitting blogs, that actually is not too large of a stash.

So beware, before you pick up needles and yarn and think to yourself “this could be a fun hobby”, you should likely check out storage spaces in your house, and make sure you have enough out of the way storage to hide your yarn in, so your spouse doesn’t discover that you have succumbed to yarn fumes a few too many times and have somehow ended up a raving loony with enough yarn to fill several clothes hampers.

PS: I did discover, though, that I have had lovely taste in yarn for a long time, and pretty much everything in the stash is soft and wonderful in good colors. 🙂

If you got here from Neighborly Advice on Recession Depression Therapy, Welcome, pull up a comfy chair and break out the needles! I’ve got some bread in the oven, and a bunch of projects to work on. 

If you didn’t, please go check it out! The lovely Neighbor Nancy has put together a nice little weekend magazine of good beginner articles on many things, including canning, making pizza dough, recovering lost knit stitches, goat farming, and using a pressure cooker. So if you are thinking about doing any of the above, it will definitely be worth your time!

When I knit, I often get looks, like I am doing some sort of arcane and wondrous thing. I occasionally even get comments. They run the gamut from surprise that anyone knits anymore (I still get this, oddly), to incredulity that I would enjoy spending my time doing such a weird thing, to “I could never do that, it’s too hard!” I have learned that most people don’t believe me when I tell them that knitting is not rocket science.  And they look at me like I have 3 heads, and decline my offers to show them how to start. 

The truth is, it has taken me many years to get to this point. My grandmother tried to interest me in knitting at the young age of 8 years old. I knit about 5 rows in bright green acrylic yarn, on huge needles, and dropped at least 1 stitch per row. I also promptly quit knitting. I started up again when I met my husband. Here was someone who I saw a future with, who I wanted to make something for. And I guess you could say I haven’t really stopped knitting since then (the main exception being the bout of tendonitis I have been fighting recently, but that is a post for another time). I haven’t taken any classes, and besides for the remnants of what my grandmother taught me, and a quick “this is how you purl” lesson from my mother, I primarily am self-taught.

In an effort to support the beginning knitter, I want to provide some good sources of information, and books that I used while learning, as well as share some of the knit-skeletons in my closet, in the hopes that others will either learn from my mistakes, or be encouraged to work through their own mistakes.

So, without further ado, I give you – The FIRST Thing I Ever Knit!!

So I was going to post a picture of the first disaster, er, hat I ever knit. But the owner of that hat could not find it, in 10 minutes of searching. So instead, here is the 2nd hat I ever knit! (modelled by a lovely stuffed animal)

The 2nd hat I ever made

The 2nd hat I ever made

The first hat I ever knit (not pictured) had about 4 inches of extra hat tucked away inside it because I didn’t really do such a hot job for the first 4 inches, and used the original bright green acrylic yarn I’d originally learned on. All I really knew when I started was how to knit a stitch, and how to purl a stitch. I sort of bumbled through using a circular needle and joining knitting to knit in the round, decreases, and using double pointed needles (which is scary enough that some people have figured out how to do without!) – 4 skills learned (ok, fumbled) in my first project.

I highly recommend a hat as a first project – maybe because I always get bored of scarves, and hats require less time and yarn to make. But also because hats force you to learn some new things! And you don’t actually have to do the decreases and the double pointed needles, you can just knit a big tube, and once it is long enough, thread the yarn through each of the stitches, and draw the top closed.

So, to help you out with your first hat, I have a couple of suggestions:

This is a Great Instructional Book that I continue to use as a reference, even though it does not let you make a hat first. It will get you started, at the very least, though for more involved techniques, I find that this website is better. You can also find a wealth of information on youtube. I recommend starting off with whatever yarn you like, with the proviso that if you pick skinny yarn, you are going to need smaller needles and more stitches – this sounds like a ‘duh’ moment, until you get home with beautiful light weight yarn that you love, and you start your cast-on, and 150 stitches later, you can start your first row! And here is an easy roll brim hat pattern to get you started (since I have totally forgotten how I did the decreases on the hat above – I’ll work on figuring it out and will show you next time!). I firmly believe that your best bet is to go look at that pattern, buy some yarn and needles (that one requires circulars and double pointeds and a yarn needle), and then muddle through, using a book or the internet when you get stuck on a direction – for instance, stockinette stitch is just knitting, so that particular pattern just wants you to knit, not knit and purl.

Happy hatting!