Tag Archives: circular needles

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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Lever Knitting Learned(ish)

It turns out I’m not as fond of it as I thought I’d be.  It might have something to do with the fact that I have a strong preference for circular needles over straights, and that my ring finger is so used to curling under to help support the needle instead of extending out to hold the yarn.  I’m glad that I tried it, though, because the Great Lever Knitting Experiment of 2012 sparked the Great Knitting Styles Experiment of 2012.

That is, I finally figured out how to knit continental style.  It’s probably been five years since I even tried, and ten years since my first attempt.  This time, however, I made it work.  My problems all stemmed, it would seem, from funky tension and an inability to use a finger other than my left pointer to control which stitches leave the left needle.  Now, I can use my left thumb to control the stitches on the left needle, and my left ring finger finally figured out how to control the tension.  I’m still not totally comfortable with it, but I think that if I ever do stranded colorwork, I’ll be able to hold at least one color in my left hand.

My problem areas are always the initial and final two stitches, no matter what method, so I’ve been knitting narrow pieces.

On this swatch, the gauge change is obvious between lever knitting (lower section, very uneven, relatively loose gauge), continental knitting (middle section, very tight but even gauge), and my normal style (top section, relatively loose, even gauge).

I also started thinking about how to knit faster holding my yarn in my right hand.  I normally pinch my yarn between thumb and pointer.  When I work with two colors, I pinch one color with my pointer and one with my middle finger.  I’ve seen other people work with the yarn going over their right pointer, but could never figure out how to keep proper tension.  Enter this YouTube video.

I modified her method a little bit, wrapping the yarn around my ring finger and just draping it over my pointer, just like I would on my left hand for continental style knitting.

I can tension the yarn by squeezing my middle or pinky finger in.  The biggest bonus is that my left hand doesn’t have to do anything different.  Considering how cranky my left hand can be, this is a big advantage.  Here’s what my right hand looks like when I’m holding a needle (note that my thumb has nothing to do with controlling the yarn, it’s only because of the angle of the photo that it might look that way):

I don’t have the method perfect yet, but when it works, it really works.  A speed that feels comfortable with this method is already as fast as a comfortable speed my old way, and I’ve only spent 15 minutes or so knitting little swatches.  This green swatch is all done with the yarn over my right pointer.  The gauge here is tighter than my normal gauge, but not as tight as in continental, and very, very even.

Maybe one of these days I’ll set up a YouTube channel so I can show the action involved instead of just posting awkward still shots taken with my left hand.  I guess that means I’ll need a tripod as well.  I can’t think of a better reason to put this off.

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Knitting in the Round on Two Circular Needles

I haven’t gotten much done with my knit boots, but I can safely say that I’ve knit at least a bit on them every day since I’ve cast on, so they’re progressing, if slowly.  I’m liking the mock cable pattern because it’s simple and pretty.  I have made a couple of discoveries about the ins and outs of knitting two items at once on two circular needles.

Remember that when knitting on two circulars, you knit with only one needle at a time.  Leave the other needle hanging at the back of your work.

The first discovery is that, in order to prevent ladders, it’s easiest to move the back needle so that all stitches are on the cable for the very first stitch on the front needle.  That way, a light tug is all that’s needed to tighten up the tension.  (It’s also worth it to note that I knit with the yarn held in my right hand, which is taking the picture here, so the yarn is just hanging.)

My second discovery is that, even when the last stitch on the needle is a purl stitch, it prevents tangling to take the yarn to the back of the needle, like you would when preparing for a knit stitch.  Here the last stitch is a purl, so the yarn ends up in front.

However, I moved it to the back before continuing, so it’s coming out the top of the work and heading straight to the ball.

When I get to the end of this row and turn the work, it looks like this:

If the yarn were going under the front needle cable here, when I went to knit the first stitch on the left piece, I’d have to move it to the back.  Then it would be going through the middle of the loop created by my front needle.  It’s possible to knit like this (and I’ve done it a couple of times already on this project) but it’s a little trickier to keep tension because the yarn can rub and pull against the work hanging down from the needles.  At the ends of the needles, when you’re turning the work, you don’t really have to worry about this, since the yarn is more free there.

My woolly nylon should show up tomorrow, so my next dilemma is whether or not to cast on for the fuzzy pants then.  If I keep knitting at least a bit on the boots every day, it’s less likely that they’ll end up in the bottomless pit of unfinished projects, and they’re a better size for airplane knitting than the pants, so I can get a lot done on them while I’m on my way to my parents’ house for Christmas.

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