So after a few fingerless mitts done with twined knitting, I have now tried a pair of full mittens.
I did these 2-at-a-time, in an effort to reduce the differences between the two mittens. It turns out that:
1. 2AAT is easy on single-colour twined knitting! You can use Magic Loop or 2 circs, and you just use 2 centerpull balls and use the yarn management technique described in volume 1 of twined knitting. It's just like socks!
[twined mitts, 2AAT, in progress...]
2. If, like I did, you want to use more than a single colour in parts of the mittens (like, say, in the cuff part), I'd recommend that you estimate how much of each colour you're going to use and wind a centerpull ball starting with one colour. Then, when you've wound up enough of that colour (example: 10 g blue for the cuff), tie on the other colour and continue winding your centerpull ball with the second colour. The result is a centerpull ball with the outside end in one colour and the inside end in the other. Ideal for bi-colour twined knitting!
[bi-colour centerpull balls, inside portion is blue and outside, white]
3. Seems like a lot of twined colourwork is 1x1 - either vertical stripes, checkerboard, braid, or variants thereof. So in each row you use 2 colours alternately, 1 stitch each. If, like me, you want to intersperse these motifs with rows single-colour knitting, you have two options:
use one of the strands and do a few rows of plain stockinette (not twined knitting), or
tie on a second strand of the single colour and continue in true twined knitting.
Having tried both of these methods, I recommend the first - having to manage three strands, two of which are twining and one just "resting", on 2 mittens simultaneously, is a royal pain in the ass. Besides, nobody is going to see that those 2 rows are not twined.
And - perhaps obviously - if you want to execute a design that has floats longer than 1 stitch (zigzags, 2x2 checkerboard), you can still "twine" the two colours on the back over longer intervals. Or, just revert to standard stranded (ie. not twisting the floats) knitting over those portions of the design. Nobody is going to notice the difference, as the emphasis will be on the colourwork, not the structure of the knitting.
Here are some design tips:
I've learned from experience that when you do twined purl, with the yarn twisting in the front of the work, it overhangs the row below it and makes it disappear. So, in the mittens above, I knit two rows of single colour stockinette before doing each braid or ridge motif and one row after it. This makes the braid or ridge look like it is centered on a stockinette background.
One of the fun bits of twined knitting is the "crook" stiches, which are essentially a trio: purl -knit -purl, with the float of the first purl stitch held in front of the knit stitch before being used in the second purl again. In my opinion (having tried both now), monocolour crook stitch patterning (used in the white portion of the mitts above) looks best in a light yarn, rather than in a dark one. White or light grey really makes the texture pop out more - I think because you can see the shadows. You can adapt regular stranded motifs (like scandinavian stars, or zigzag lines) to crook stitches, but the crook stitches require a minimum of 3 stitches to make, so the designs will be wider and "coarser".
You can use single crook stitches (trios) to make "bubbles", or rows of them to make a nice sort of chain (see photo below). Crook stitches done over a striped background are really effective too!
[Latvian braid on bottom, some purple/white colourwork,
single twined purl rows in purple outlining 2 rows of white crook stitches,
crook stitches on striped background,]
I really love the effects one can get by having both twisted floats on the front of the work. "Latvian Braid" is basically twined purling, with two colours of yarn and the floats in the front of the work. These things are fun to play with, but I've found that you get a horrible jog at the beginning-of-round with them. I've not yet figured out how to solve that problem. In my mittens, I've disguised the jog by the simple expedient of sewing a cord over it - my son wanted the two mittens joined by a long decorative cord so he can keep the mittens hanging in the arms of his coat.
I'm much happier with the amount of blending now. Also, the original roving was space-dyed (ie. stripey), with two main colours: pink and gold - which I converted to a gradient thusly:
1. rip the roving into chunks so that each chunk was as much a single colour as possible, and then
2. run the strips through the drum carder to fluff them out; then,
3. follow the instructions in this video (it's in German, but I think you can get the gist pretty easily - turn off the voice and watch what she does, it's not hard to get) to create a gradient.
To spin from the batt, I did this. It's lovely fluffy stuff and drafts pretty easily, although I'm finding a few neps. The single is hairy rather than smooth (that's what you get with a longwool, in my experience) and as I'm spinning I'm hearing the wool tell me it wants to be a shawl rather than socks. We will see what comes of this!
I'm going to have to explore the drum carder more. I love how it can make gradients, and how I can make custom blends!
My friend Mary is in her 80's and an accomplished knitter. I spotted her wearing this beautiful Aran cardi a while back, and I requested the pattern...but it turns out the sweater is as old as I am and the pattern is long gone.
So, instead, she lent me the sweater for some analysis. I invite you to share on my "sweater deconstruction" journey...
Here's the sweater. Lovely, no?
[vintage aran cardigan]
Just looking at it, you can see that:
1. it's been knit flat in pieces, and sewn together.
2. the sleeves are "set-in", not drop-shoulder or raglan
3. the font band is vertical (not picked up later and knit on), and has been knit separately and sewn on. Ditto the collar.
I think this method of construction was par for the course in the 1960's - nowadays lots of people tend to knit sweaters in the round, and do drop-sleeves, and knit on the front band and collar.
Let's have a look at the stitch patterns to see if I can figure this puppy out. I'll start with the easiest one; the one that the sleeves are knitted out of and that runs up the sides of the sweater fronts and back:
This is pretty clearly:
R1: knit on RS
R2: purl on WS
R3, 4: K1 P1 ribbing
Then repeat, but offset the ribbing.
Right? OK. Look really really closely at the ribbing.
[zoomyzoom on the ribbing part of the background]
The two blue arrows point to a column of sts from the ribbing rows, and the orange arrows point to the stockinette rows. You can see that the ribbing rows are twisted stitches while the stockinette is not. The left leg of each twisted stitch overlaps the right leg, whereas in the not-twisted stitches, the two legs originate from the same point. So, the actual background pattern is:
2 rows stockinette (K one row, P back)
2 rows twisted ribbing (KTBL, PTBL)
and then repeated, offset.
And don't feel bad if you got this wrong. I did, and tried plain ole' ribbing. Here's what I got, and you can see it doesn't look as nice!
I was trying to get that crisp, ripply look and figured at first it was my needle size, so I kept downsizing. But you can see it didn't help! My wool is different too, of course - it's woolier than Mary's, so that doesn't help with the stitch definition - but I'm glad I decided on a closer inspection. I will have to redo the swatch now!
Next up: the bobble cabley thing:
[bobble-cable, in context]
This one's a bit harder, but it's clearly 2 rope cables twisting in opposite directions, separated by a bobble. Duh.
Now, in detail - I had to look on the inside, and stretch the knitting out to count stitches - the cables are over 5 stitches, and every twist is made of up 3 stitches in the front crossing over 2 in the back, and this is done every 4 rows. They're asymmetric, which is kinda unusual.
Now, also notice that the right-side cable looks narrower than the left-side cable; this is particularly noticeable in the photo above. Why??
Again, let's zoom:
[zoom of bobble cables]
The stitches are again twisted! Telltale ridges are appearing along the RH cable (see yellow line to guide the eye). And, because the "through the back loop" technique twist stitches in the clockwise direction, I can imagine that a clockwise cable will look tighter than a counterclockwise one. Which is what you see in the pic above, right?
So, I have embarked on a swatch to combat this problem. It involves knitting TBL on one side of the bobble, and reseating the sts prior to knitting them, on the other side. It matters not which side you do what on; the point is that the stitch-level twist and the cable-level twist on each side are symmetric (either opposing each other, or going the same way, on each side). Of course, you could also omit the whole twist thing and just knit and purl, but then your cables will not be as tightly defined.
To reseat a stitch, you slip it knitwise to the RH needle, then transfer it back to the left while keeping the twist in place. Remove your RH needle from the stitchcompletely, or you will have a strong desire to knit it through the back loop, which will undo what you've just done! Now the stitch is reseated and ready for regular through-the-front knitting or purling.
Now, as to that bobble, this took me several tries, as well as some dives into stitch dictionaries to find out how to do bobbles. In the end I settled on a 5-stitch bobble. You can see my swatch below. Both cables are the same width and the bobbles look the right size. And below that, you can see where I tried plain old untwisted sts on the cables. I don't like the result as much!
[my bobbley-cable swatch, with TBL and reseated sts]
[another swatch, this time with no twisted sts]
Isn't this fun? Oh, and here's the chart:
[chart for bobble cable]
OK, almost done. Let's look at the diamond things.
Yikes. This looks complicated. These are 4-stitch wide travelling bands defining a diamond, which is filled with moss stitch. The 4-wide bands are themselves cabled. To get this, you need to cable on both the front and the back of the work. If I use the bobble-cable on either side as a guide, I'm guessing the diamond takes 24 rows or so to complete. It stretches over 21 sts (includes 2 reverse stockinette "gutters" on either side).
Here's my chart:
[diamond pattern chart]
You'll see that I've done the travelling on the wrong side of the work (even rows) and the cabling on the right side (odd rows). I've worked up a swatch, too...
[diamond cable swatch]
I'm not entirely happy with this yet though. I think especially the diamond cable swatch is too small; too tight. I will try all these again with larger needles, now that I have figured out that the background stitch reqiures twisted sts!
I must say I am pleased that I am able to recognize a high-quality knitted garment. And close examination of it shows lots of expert-level pattern details! Mary is indeed a fine knitter.
OK, I finished those z-ply twined mittens. Half-mittens, actually.
Here they are:
I am very happy with them. The fabric is amazing: very dense, yet still soft and pliable. I love the surface decoration you get with this technique - it involves nothing more complicated than carrying the floats on the front of the work, rather than on the back (the floats are never more than 1 stitch long).
While the outside of the knitting doesn't look that different from regular stockinette, the inside is quite different:
[inside view of twined knitting]
All those twists create little ridges on the back of the work and make it thick and lofty. I'm sure this would make amazing slippers!
I find that my gauge is quite different with this technique: it's much tighter. So although the mitts were supposed to be husband-sized, they ended up being 2 sizes to small and therefore are now mine! So I've done another pair, using standard s-ply yarn (Palette from KnitPicks, which is fairly loosely plied fingering and a little finer than the Hygge Tveband), and I explored colourwork rather than texture. I upsized them and cast on 80 sts to make them bigger. Here's the result:
[two-colour twined mitts]
These were fun to make as well - I really like the combined effects of colourwork and texture. Using colours that are close together (grey and white) makes the mitts a little less eye-popping.
Since I used s-ply yarn, I twisted the two strands counterclockwise to unply the yarn as I knit. I see that I can't tell from the finished fabric that the initial yarn was s-ply rather than z-ply, and I didn't find the twisting action more difficult in one direction vs. the other...so why did the old-timers decide that z-ply yarn was preferable to s-ply for this technique???
I think it may have something to do with the yarn management. I found that while the yarn tangles with z-ply yarn, I could at least knit a few rounds of mitten before having to let the ball spin to get rid of the twist. Not so with s-ply yarn! After half a round, I had to spin the ball. Somehow the twist stays way up high, near my knitting hands, and gets nasty and tight really quickly.
My younger son is about to head off for a 4-month internship in Saskatoon, and has requested a pair of full mittens in order to be able to cope with the -25C weather. So I'm off to produce another set! This time, I will try two-at-a-time, to see if I can get that working.
OK, now that I've knit a little bit of twined knitting, I've already learned some stuff.
1. This is essentially a "throwing" technique. It's also butt-slow.
I am lucky in that I can knit using "picking" and "throwing" techniques (ie. "continental" and "english" style) with equal facility, so I've been able to try both on this technique. And I find it much easier throwing - and if you can support that RH needle, so much the better. I thought at first I could pretend I was doing colourwork, which I find easiest/fastest by continental-style "picking", but quickly found it impossible. It's because you have to constantly twist the 2 strands together in the same direction, and you basically need to drop one strand to accomplish this. Hence the use of my right hand (since I'm right-handed), and the requirement to support both needles while my right hand is busy twisting yarn. I can see why this is limited to small objects (unless you are using pit knitting or a knitting belt or something, with ultra-long DPNs).
2. Get clear in your head which way you need to be twisting those yarn strands.
Roll 2 strands of yarn together with your thumb and forefinger:
[roll two strands together -
moving thumb up in direction of arrow rolls them clockwise]
If the yarns look like the picture below when you've rolled them, you have z-twist yarn and you need to twist the strands together with the bottom strand moving up and over the top strand - like you did when rolling the yarns together in the photo above. If you translate this motion into holding a screwdriver with your right hand, you'll see it's a "righty-tighty" move.
[2 strands of yarn, unplying as they twist]
If, as is more likely, the strands look like the photo below, you have standard s-twist yarn and you need to twist by having the top strand move down and over the bottom one. Try unplying your strands by moving your thumb in the opposite direction, in the picture above. This is the "lefty-loosey" screwdriver motion, yes?
[2 strands of yarn, plying together harder as they twist]
Play with this. Pick up your knitting and twirl the 2 strands around each other first one way, then the other, and you'll soon see which way unplies them. For z-twist yarns and the "authentic look" of twined knitting, you'll want to ensure the yarns twist "righty-tighty" during both purling and knitting. For s-twist yarns you'll need to do "lefty-loosey" during both purling and knitting to get the unplying effect - and note, this means you won't be doing the twists the way that Knitty article tells you to do it!
As I mentioned in volume 1 of this series on twined knitting, the twist is a personal preference thing. A "compact" yarn produces a fabric with a different drape and loft, and the stitch definition will be slightly different than if you knit with an "open" yarn. Try a small sample using each twist direction to see which you prefer.
I found it useful to do this unplying test as I started knitting/purling, so I could get the twist going in the right direction...which brings up...
3. Yarn management becomes an issue within seconds.
Because of all the twisting, you get a tangled mess pretty quickly. Best tip (thank you Principles of Knitting!): use two ends of a center-pull ball, ** pull off a "wingspan" or generous double armslength of both strands of yarn, and then clamp the two ends to the ball using one of those bulldog grips (or a clothespin, or a short knitting needle stabbed in and out a few times to trap the strands) so they can't unwind more. When you've used up the wingspan of yarn, dangle the ball so it unspins, unclip the yarns, and repeat from **.
[clamp the yarns to the ball using a bulldog clip]
Don't be shy about unwinding that "wingspan" - I've found it helpful to have at least 1m or so of yarn "free" at all times. With z-twist yarn especially, I'm unplying it as I knit and it helps to have the extra yarn free to "regularize" the twist. I've found that knitting straight-up twined for a few rows really makes things twisty, and that throwing in the odd crook round really helps decrease the twisting.
I've seen several writeups about the technique of "twined knitting", also known by its Swedish term "tvåändsstickning" or by the equivalent Norwegian term "tvebandsstrikking". It has been written up in Knitty here (with a pattern, here), and there are several YouTube videos showing the various stitches (knit, purl, and so-called "crook" stitches).
Twined knitting is done with two strands of the same (often even same colour) yarn, and with every stitch you twist the two strands around each other. Unlike stranded (colour) knitting, the yarns are twisted constantly in the same direction, never untwisting. The backside of twined knitting looks quite different from fair-isle colourwork - it's much denser. Knitting with two strands allows you to play games with loops of yarn from the strand you're not using, which leads to some fun textures. Also, because it's double-thick, it's very warm (and windproof, if done at a tight gauge, as is traditional).
You are traditionally supposed to twist the yarns in the opposite direction to which they were plied, so this action slowly unplies or opens up the yarn. This apparently makes the end product trap more air. I think it probably also enhances felting. Traditionally, the technique employed so-called "z-twist" yarn (for spinners: spun clockwise and plied counterclockwise) and the twisting was done by lifting the strand from the second-to-last stitch knit over the last stitch knit (ie. twisting the two yarns clockwise) on the back.
Nowadays, this type of yarn is hard to find, and most yarns are "s-twist" (for spinners: spun counterclockwise and plied clockwise). But, I was at Vogue Knitting in early November, browsing the vendors, and I came upon The Yarn Guys booth, where I chanced upon an American-spun special z-twist yarn (Hygge Tveband Sport) especially meant for this type of knitting. So I bought a couple of skeins....hence this series of blog posts!
[on the Left: good old regular "s-twist" yarn. Note that the strands lean LEFT,
like the middle part of the letter "s".
on the Right: special-snowflake "z-twist" yarn. Strands lean RIGHT,
like the middle part of the letter "z".]
Z-twist yarn is hard to find. Hygge Tveband Sport is milled to spec for the Yarn Guys and it isn't cheap (count on $50 for a couple of skeins - enough for 2 pairs of mittens - shipping incl). Contact them directly and they'll send the stuff to you. I've only found one other called Mora, which is sold by Nancy Bush at Wooly West (I've never ordered from this site). Note that I'm not talking about the Malabrigo Mora yarn of the same name.
But, if you want to use "regular" yarn (s-twist), hey, no problemo! For the most authentic effect, you just need to twist the strands counterclockwise on the back of your work: ie. bring the second-to-last stitch thread under the last stitch knit. This action then has the same effect : it gently unplies your yarn.
I'm not making this up, this info is from that eminent bible : Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, who lists her sources. But I do I note that the point of unplying your yarn is not discussed in the Knitty article, nor is it mentioned in any of the videos on YouTube that I skimmed. In fact if you use the traditional "clockwise" twisting actions meant for z-twist yarns and shown in the Knitty article, or demonstrated on YouTube, on readily-available s-twist yarn, you will compact your yarn rather than opening it up...this is a picky detail, obviously, but it matters to some kntting geeks (ie. me). Compacting your yarn will affect the stitch definition and the final drape/loft of your fabric. It's a personal preference thing, so try both twist directions to see which you prefer!
Another, even more subtle, point is that regular knitting - even without twining - tends to unply z-twist yarns, making them rather unpleasant to knit with (this is the reason millspun yarns are s-twist). So twined knitting with z-twist yarns delivers a double whammy of unplying. Again, this will matter only to knitting geeks. I'm really wondering why the good knitters from way back settled on z-ply yarns and clockwise twisting, rather than standard s-ply and counterclockwise twisting...will have to do some experiments...
I'm knitting up some twined mittens now. And I'll be posting on what I learn as I go.
Just in time for the holidays...some frivolous fiddly fun!
Cover wooden beads with your sock-yarn resties! Jazz it up with beads! Make ornaments! Gifts!
[wooden beads covered with custom-knit woolly socks!]
Wooden beads - if you want home-dec ornaments, 1" is probably the smallest size to get. If you are making jewellery, 1" is about the biggest you'll want. But you can judge. Start with some 1" beads to try it out.
Size 6/0 glass beads - it takes about 72 beads to "fully coat" a 1" diameter model, but you can get by with far fewer. This size bead threads easily onto sock yarn, but you can use smaller or larger as you please. Beads with smaller holes are harder to thread onto yarn. Duh.
Sock yarn! Plain, striped, whatever! You need tiny amounts, so this is a great use for scraps and leftovers.
2mm needles or whatever you usually use for socks - DPNs or magic loop. Although I've long since graduated to 2AAT magic loop sock knitting, these tiny items work really well on DPNs, so if you have those, bust them out now to keep your skillz sharp! Note: gauge is somewhat critical as you want to make the beadsock fairly tight, so try a vanilla one first to ensure you've got the right sized needles.
For a 1" totally-vanilla bead sock:
cast on 24 sts (provisional cast on is very nice if you can do it), knit 13 rows stockinette.
Break yarn, thread a darning needle with the tail and run it through the live stitches on your needle. Tighten.
push 1" wooden bead into the tiny little pocket thusly formed, and run the darning needle up through the hole to a) solve the "weaving in" problem, and b) make sure the bead hole is lined up with the knitting hole.
run the darning needle through the "foot loops" of the cast on stitches (or provisional cast on, if you did it) and cinch that side up.
Try the formula : beads on every other row (ie. 6 rows of beads for 13 rows knitting), and beads every other stitch (ie. 12 beads per row).
You can do just a row in the middle of the ornament (like a sort of mini-Saturn), or do spirals (beads every 4 stitches, and offset on the rows), or omit the beading at the two poles of the bead...the possibilities are endless!!
[omit the 2 rows at each "pole"]
[...sorted by colour...]
Sizing tip: I've found that for every 1/8" wooden bead diameter change, I need to add/subtract 2 sts to the cast on, and 2 rows of knitting. So a 7/8" bead requires 22 sts cast on and 11 rows of stockinette; a 3/4" bead, 20 and 9 rows. For a larger bead, like 1.5", I'd try 32 sts and 21 rows. I've not made an exhaustive study of the sizing (I don't do "home-dec" or - shudder - Christmas ornaments) so as they say, YMMV (your mileage may vary).
Further note: don't bother with "shaping" - ie. doing increases/decreases to make the cinching less painful. Because: you need to get the wooden bead in afterwards! If the "pocket opening" isn't the full size, you'll not be able to get it in. I speak from experience, eh!
Time for a re-examination of some of my better handspun socks. I'll let you guys see the "before-and-after" photos. These are all socks that have held up well after at least a year of heavy use. My other handspun socks have mostly felted and/or shrunk and/or worn faster these, so I won't be using those fibers again. Yes, that includes UK Southdown...it wears fast.
Number 1: UK superwash BFL / nylon (70/30) blend
The yarn was spun very fine - 4 ply - since at the time I was really trying to reproduce commercial sock yarn. The yarn felt quite nice - quite comparable to a millspun yarn although a little tighter plied. I didn't go out of my way to knit them tight. These socks are by far the best of my handspun socks, in terms of longevity. They haven't felted appreciably, and there has been no need to darn them. The dye has faded in the laundry, over time. I would highly recommend this blend for those who don't want to agonize overmuch about TPI, grist, or knitting gauge. In fact, I'd recommend this blend to myself. Self: please get more of this stuff.
[superwash BFL/nylon before]
[superwash BFL/nylon after -
note fading but stitch definition still good. 2.5 yrs old.]
Number 2: UK shetland / mohair (70/30) blend
The yarn is 3-ply and very dense, not very thin though - heavy fingering/light sport. The yarn is rather different to knit - it has very little elasticity, and I knit it supertight, so the resulting fabric is probably not what people are used to in a sock. They're a bit stiff, smooth, and rather slippery. That's the mohair talking! They are very, very warm and comfy though. The socks have been darned once (they wore through at the toe very quickly) but since then have been performing well. They have felted and shrunk a tiny bit. This is a good blend for those who eschew the use of nylon and superwash.
[shetland/mohair blend, before]
[...and after. Minimal fading. 1 yr old.]
[there is felting on the inside, on all my handspun socks,
but much less on the superwash ones]
Both fibers from number 1 and number 2 socks came from Hilltop Cloud, a favorite indie fiber dyer of mine. I'm pretty sure she uses UK-sourced fiber. She does not always carry sock blends. I love her sense of colour, and I keep an eye on her shop so I can order from her when she does carry my favorite blends.
Number 3: local Romney, 100% pure wool
The fiber is local, not UK Romney, and was pindrafted roving (not combed top), so these are true woolen spun socks (for those purists out there). Like the socks above, the yarn was dense, and I knit them at a tight gauge, so the socks were not as elastic as you'd get from a commercial sock yarn, but they were super warm. I loved them!! They were tough as nails, but now have started to wear out at the heel, and have been darned twice at the toe. They currently reside in my darning basket...
[local romney, before]
[...and after. 2 yrs old. Note fading and pilling,
and you can see the darning spot on the heel...]
[...with more required!]
That gives me a pretty good choice of sock fibers to pick from!
Of course, I'm still trying other fibers and blends...the fun never stops!
OK, I'm not one who regularly attends knitting fairs. I like going to the odd Fiber Fair to fondle the fleeces and see the sheep, but even those I don't attend on a regular basis. I think I've been to Knit City - which is my local fair - maybe twice? I've never attended any lectures or classes there.
But. Then. I was sent the link for this year's Vogue Knitting "conference", to be held in Bellevue (basically Seattle), and I had a look at the classes....Yep. I signed up for the full-meal-deal, "Sleepless in Seattle".
The experience was truly "sleepless" for a bunch of reasons: 1. I got so jacked on all the inspirational instruction that I couldn't calm down, 2. I got so inspired by all the beautiful stuff on display in the marketplace that I was dreaming about it all night, and 3. I got food poisoning from the hotel restaurant. Really.
I spent all my money on goodies from the market - specialty yarns for tvåändsstickning, some tencel to try, some new sock yarns from a variety of vendors...
And, I took classes from Xandy Peters ("stacked knitting"), Cecilia Campochario ("sequence knitting") and Stephen West (does this guy even need a link??). All of these inspired me to no end, even Stephen West (whose stuff I have never knit, but after one class I am feeling more empowered than ever to ditch the patterns). And I learned how to improve my intarsia. And I learned about the history of the Knitting Belt - a technique that I now want to try.
So now my brain is so full it is going to essplode. I swear.
Here some photos to pass on at least some of the goodies to y'all:
[oh-so-simple granny squares using fluffy yarn]
[stacked knitting, easiest variety]
[sequence knitting, this one's not hard]
[from a shop specializing in my fave: scandinavian scratchy wools]
[this is like a flat pompom on a quilt, easy to do and looks fun!]
[gotta love those cables...]
[fur and wool - what a combo!]
I have socks based on all these learnings percolating in my brain right now, and I'm hoping that over the next few months I can distill some good blog posts and/or sock creations out of all of this. Stay tuned!
I don't use stitch markers a lot for sock knitting - although sometimes I will use one on either side of my magic loop, as "handles" to use for yanking the loop out again if it sucks into my knitting - but I have come to realize that I have some pretty distinct preferences for those that I DO use.
...and here they are:
1. I prefer small, lightweight markers. To mark my place in shawls, I typically use those cheap 200-in-a-box gold or silver rings. I prefer metal because they slide better than plastic. I carry them in a breathmints box. They are great for bulk use in lace, and big enough to use on 4mm needles when I knit the odd sweater.
2. I like beaded ones, too - but here's where I get picky. The markers must be made of wire or "tiger tail", and must only have 1 large bead - no bigger than 1/4" - on them and at the most 2 small ones, and the loop can't be any bigger than 1/2" (approx. 1 cm). I've made a bunch of my own, and have found that over time, my hand reaches for those that fulfill these characteristics, and I never use the others.
3. The marker may not use a jump ring, under any circumstances.
4. The marker may not use one of those wire posts that thread so easily through beads, because this forces the marker-maker to then use loops of wire to get the dangly creation onto a ring of some kind, thereby violating rule #3.
You can make your own bead markers. It's not hard. Here's how:
You need some tools: a set of fine wire cutters (I use them for my guitar strings too!) - I like the Fiskars ones - and a set of fine needlenose pliers that come together with a flat edge (crimpers) - ie. not the completely round ones.
You need some materials: "tigertail" (beading wire that's flexible), crimping beads, and focal beads (I prefer mine to be no bigger than 1/4" in diameter, and completely smooth).
You can get most of this stuff at Michael's.
[materials, top left clockwise: crimping pliers, fine wire cutters,
"tiger tail" beading wire, crimping beads, and small focal beads]
To make a marker, cut a piece of the tigertail that's about 3-4" long and double it. Thread it through your focal bead and then through a crimping bead. Then use the crimping pliers to flatten the crimping bead, and the cutters to trim the tigertail. That's it!
[thread the doubled tigertail through the beads]
[a few completed markers, done to my own exacting specifications]
It turns out I'm ridiculously sensitive to both the size of the loop, and the size of the bead on the marker. Really. In the picture below, the markers on the top are too big, and I find I never, ever use them. See how small the differences are???
[top: markers I hate - too big, or too catchy]
[bottom: marker I like]
Most of my knitting circle buddies do other crafts as well, and some of them, like me, do the odd bit of beading. So we have periodic "marker making sessions" where we pool our kit and have fun making a bunch. Everyone goes home with half a dozen new stitch markers!
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