Tag Archives: baby toy

A Double Knitting Tutorial for People Who Are Super Awesome at Counting or Why I Shouldn’t Knit Late at Night

When converting a pattern to double knitting with two strands of yarn, as I am doing for Hazel, it is important to remember that for every stitch in the pattern, there will be two stitches on the needles. For example, when the pattern says “K1,” you knit one stitch with the front yarn and one stitch with the back yarn. The easiest way that I’ve found to count this is to simply multiply the number of stitches given in the pattern by two and count every stitch.

As a simple example, my latest row started with “K14.” Using the method above, multiply 14 by 2 and know that you must count 28 stitches. When you’re done with these 28 stitches, note that your last stitch is actually a “front” stitch and that this is not correct. Make sure to go back and count the number of stitches in the front color. You will end up with 17. This is not correct. Swear. Check the clock. Is it past midnight? Yes? Then PUT DOWN THE KNITTING! For the love of wool, go to bed. It’s too late to deal with this.

Ignore the previous three sentences.

Count your stitches again. Reassure yourself that your front color is still in front, and that you’re just silly and can’t count. Knit back so that you only have 26 stitches (13 in the front color) on the needles. Swear again. PUT DOWN THE KNITTING! For the love of Addi Turbos, go to bed. It’s the middle of the night.

Ignore the previous three sentences.

Knit the two stitches necessary to make it to the end of that darn “K14.” Continue in pattern until you reach the end of the needle. Decide to write a pointless blog post about your experiences counting things late at night. Then go to bed. Really, it’s much too late for this nonsense.

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Getting Things Done

Today I did dishes, paid rent, met with my boss/artistic director (and brought Hazel along, which made him laugh, because his girlfriend is a knitter, too), got a load of laundry in the washer, measured my space to plan my apartment organization, read a chapter in the book that’s due at the library next week, and took a picture of Hazel with her color pattern started.

For my next trick, I’ll take out the garbage and get some more choreography done before teaching beginning pointe.

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Hazel 1.1

It lives!  I’m actually farther along than I was on Hazel 1.0 when I lost her to a dropped stitch and tight gauge.  I’m two rows away from leaving behind the horrors of multiple increases at least every other row.  I even dropped a stitch on this one, but it only ran back three rows, it didn’t run into any of the increases, and I was able to use my smallest crochet hook to pick it up.

One of the advantages of having to put my hair up in a bun or twist every day is that I’m surrounded by hair pins.  They’re the perfect cable needles or stitch holders, so when I dropped that stitch I was able to just reach into my hair, pull out a pin, and pop it through the stitch.  Of course, that moment when you actually drop the stitch is still torture, where you freeze, feel sick to your stomach, and think about having to start the whole thing over again all in the half second that it takes to register what the little dangling loop means, but it helps not having to open your tin full of notions or search for a cable needle or crochet hook before securing the run.

After picking up the stitch and finishing the row, there are 35 stitches of each color on the needles.  This thing is very compact, but the very slightly looser gauge makes Hazel 1.1 much softer than Hazel 1.0.  Please pardon my ugly, pink, provisional cast on.  It looks somehow vulgar to me, but you can rest assured that it’s only there to make the nose close up neatly.  Now I just have to decide when to do Hazel’s nose job.  I don’t want to do it too soon, because I want a good amount of surface area available to weave in the ends, and hopefully even make the little embroidered nose bumps with the yarn tail.

For now, I’m pleased with the progress.  I plan to place a lifeline when I get through the increases, despite the fact that I can’t remember ever using a lifeline in a project that wasn’t lace or insane cables.  It feels silly to do this when it’s still mostly stockinette up to this point, but I just can’t knit this nose one more time.

In other news, the apartment is still messy, my fuzzy pants and pointe covers haven’t progressed any further, and my coat fabric is still unwashed and unsteamed.  I did, however, substitute in five classes this week on top of my normal load of six classes and a couple of private lessons, and I got caught up on some laundry, so I’ll cut myself some slack there.

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Hazel the Horrendous

Remember how excited I was that Hazel was progressing so well? Well, she’s not any longer.

I took her to the dance studio Sunday morning when I met up with R to help her get some audition photos taken. I’m the one with a key to the building, so I got there when she did and then sat and knit while she warmed up. Things were going fine. I’d cast on with the Dove Gray the night before, and made it through most of the initial increases before L (our lovely photographer) got there, and put it aside while we picked out poses and took pictures.

Immediately after R was done, I taught my usual Sunday private lesson, and then went out to teach a ballet master class to a local dance team coached by my private lesson student’s mother. Hazel rode along in my tote bag, and all was well until I grabbed my keys to head back into my apartment  at the end of the day, and dropped them into my Midnight Heather yarn skein. They got tangled. I got them untangled with no damage to the yarn, but the skein was a mess with strands pulled out every which way. I still had the Dove Heather on the needles, and I did a bit more on that Sunday evening.

And then I dropped a stitch. One measly little stitch, which ran back down and got terribly confused with all of the different increases going on. I didn’t have a small enough crochet hook. Bouclé was closed.  I looked at my progress, and decided that my tension was way too tight, the dropped stitch was beyond hope, and that I was sick of that stupid whale.  I named the Dove Heather nose a gauge swatch, and I cut the yarn.  I don’t think I could have handled frogging it.  That left me with a fresh start on one skein, and another terribly tangled skein sitting in shame at the very bottom of my darkest bag.

I didn’t knit at all yesterday.  It was the first day this year that I haven’t knit anything.  I didn’t feel like picking up either my fuzzy pants or my pointe covers, Hazel was hidden away, and I’m still stalled choosing/making up a beret pattern.  Today, I cut my Midnight Heather yarn as well, writing that off as another too-tight gauge swatch, and I untangled the skein while winding it into a center-pull ball.  It was better than expected, with only the outer couple of layers being tangled, and they really were just tangled and not knotted.

So tonight I’m off to our Tuesday knitting club at the studio.  R, L, and I have been talking about this for a while, because L and I are both relatively long-time knitters and crocheters, R just learned over winter break, and we have several other knitters and crocheters of varying levels at the studio.  It should be fun.  I’m going to cast on again for Hazel, and we’ll see how this incarnation goes.  I think I’m going to try the double knitting right from the beginning this time and see if that goes any better.  Wish me luck!

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Hazel the Horrible

Until a trip to my LYS, that is.  You see, I bought my first pair of Addi Turbo US 0 needles during my magic loop phase.  They had a 47″ cable.  Then, when I was thinking of doing my fuzzy pants on them, the excess cable just kept on getting in the way.  After the second or third time that I managed to wrap the needle cable around my mug of tea and nearly tip it into my lap, I went to Bouclé Yarn Studio and picked up a 24″ US 0.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned Bouclé before, but they deserve a lot of credit.  I’m not a yarn shop aficionado, but in my experience, they have a great selection of needles and hooks, yarns, books, spinning supplies, and everything in between.  The shop is beautifully decorated with shelves of yarn creating a meandering path to the back of the shop, and large tables and chairs where you inevitably find people sitting and knitting.  The staff are always helpful and nice.  I wish I had the money to buy more yarn there, but they do tend toward the more expensive brands.  I can say that, of the last 15 pairs of needles that I’ve bought, 13 of them have come from Bouclé.

So, I had a 47″ and a 24″ US 0 Addi Turbo.  I used my favorite provisional cast on (crochet a loose chain, pick up stitches from the bumps on the back of the chain), divided the stitches onto my two needles, and joined in the round.  And it was horrible.  Things were all over the place.  I’m not even working in double knitting right now, choosing instead to get through the initial increases separately in my two colors before I put everything together.

I got through one horrible, messy row, and set it aside.  I went back to Bouclé today, picked up another 24″ US 0 Addi Turbo, and all of a sudden everything lined up.  I didn’t get very far, because Saturdays are one of my busiest teaching days, and we had our annual winter showcase at the studio this evening, but I did knit a couple more rows, and they were lovely without all of that extra needle getting tangled up in my yarn.  I’m actually looking forward to knitting the rest of this whale now.

The moral of this story is that the right tools really make a difference, so when in doubt, go to your local yarn shop and buy more stuff.  It will make your life better.

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Heavy Package From Knit Picks

It was the books.  Those lovely, lovely books.

First, Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush, was a delightful surprise. I usually buy books that I’ve checked out from the library or obsessively researched, but I wanted this book after seeing some of the patterns on Ravelry. I trusted that with Nancy Bush as the author, and Interweave Press publishing it, it would be a good book. When I actually looked through it, I got to discover the wonderful first section, with information on the origin of Haapsalu shawls, complete with plenty of photographs. Then came the patterns, beautifully photographed, charted, and with notes on construction. Finally, and perhaps the best surprise for me, was a section of traditional stitch motifs, photographed and charted, sourced from old publications or simply learned from the Haapsalu knitters themselves.

Then, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, both by Clara Parkes. They’re just as wonderful as I remember from when I checked them out from the library in December.

The Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn is great, too. This is the same yarn that I’m using for my fuzzy pants, and I’ve been pleased at how it knits up, so I decided to go for that same superwash merino and nylon blend for a hard-wearing baby toy. I’ll knit it up on some US 0 needles, which is smaller than the US 1-3 range that is recommended, and gives a thick, relatively stiff fabric. It will hopefully help to keep the shape of Hazel the Humpback Whale. The Midnight Heather colorway is a lot more green/teal than it appears on my computer screen, but I think I like it. It does correspond with Knit Picks’ description of “an intense dark blue color with black undertones […] with the flecks of blues and blue greens that add visual interest.” The teal flecks make me think of light filtering through ocean water.

For comparison, this is, from left to right, Patons Lace Sequin in Aquamarine, Knit Picks Stroll in Midnight Heather, and Knit Picks Stroll in Black:

The Dove Heather shade that I chose for Hazel’s markings is a bit more creamy than I had thought, but I think it will still look lovely as an accent color. It’s a creamy, almost pale oatmeal base color with tiny strands of black and gray thrown in. Knit Picks uses the word “slate” to describe it, but I’d say it’s much less blue than that implies. Still, don’t the colors look nice and whale-y together?

Now, I’m off to chart Hazel and get some more done on my slowly-but-surely progressing fuzzy pants (which now have more than 10,500 stitches) and pointe covers.

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Pants Progress, Books, and Baby Toys

My fuzzy pants are now a whopping 3.5″ in length.  Now, you’ll say, “But how did you manage to accomplish so much when you have so many other things going on right now?”  I know, it’s impressive.

On a serious note, or to make myself feel better about things, I feel the need to point out that these things are now 53 rows long so they do have nearly 10,000 stitches in them so far.  The Fisherman’s Rib that I’m using has all knit stitches taken in the stitch below, so it gathers up in length as you go.  It makes for a very thick, fluffy, and warm fabric, but it takes for-freaking-ever.  I’ve known this pattern for so long that I can’t remember learning it, which probably means that it’s one that Granny taught me before I was 10 years old.

Fisherman’s Rib:
For a fabric with a 1 st wide selvage, cast on an odd number of stitches 1-2 more than needed for gauge.
Prep row (wrong side):  P2, *K1, P1* to last stitch, P1
Row 1: K1, *K1 through the lower loop, P1* to last two stitches, K1 through the lower loop, K1
Row 2: P2, *K1 through the lower loop, P1* to last stitch, P1
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until desired length is reached.

Without a selvage, this stitch pattern looks the same on both sides except for the prep row, so it’s great for fold-over cuffs, etc.  I like the long tail cast on for this since it works so nicely with the prep row’s initial and final purl stitches, and provides a stable but stretchy base for the rib.

In other news, Knit Picks has a sale going right now on books, so I picked up The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, both by Clara Parkes. I checked them out from the library a few weeks ago and decided that I need them in my collection. I can’t recommend them highly enough. The illustrations are wonderful (imagine line drawings of angora rabbits, alpacas, spinning equipment, fiber close-ups) and they’re full of pertinent information and photographs of different fibers and yarns. There’s even a pattern section with discussion on why each yarn was chosen for that particular pattern.

I also grabbed Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, because I’ve been coveting Queen Silvia or Crown Prince for several years now. I even have 2500 yards of 2-ply baby alpaca lace weight on hand.

The final piece of news is that I firmly decided on Hazel the Humpback Whale to knit for a friend’s baby due in late May, and I ordered some more Knit Picks Stroll in Midnight Heather and Dove Heather. Now to get past the idea of intarsia… This Ravelry project shows the lighter colors stiched over by hand, which I think sounds less painful that intarsia. (I really, really, really hate intarsia.) I’m also considering just using double knitting; it might make for a thicker, sturdier fabric, and I think the color work would be easier. The last time that I tried double knitting was more than a decade ago, but it turned out very nice.

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