The Neko Curved Double Point Needles (CDPN's) have been flying out the door like crazy since their debut on our site this summer! Here is our good friend Vickie Howell's lovely review and demonstration! Thank you Vickie, for taking the time to go over these neat new needles!
The Adventure of the Stealth Blanket: Part One
For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
I often wonder that more knitters do not keep Life Lists in the way that ardent bird watchers do.
A birder’s Life List is (as the name implies) a tally of all birds s/he has definitively spotted. But many Life Lists are also aspirational; they include all the species that might be spotted in a neighborhood, in a country, on a continent, or (for the extremely ambitious) around the world.
Completing that kind of Life List could require a trip fraught with expense and discomfort solely to check one little box. Behold, at last I have seen the Speckle-Breasted Willie Warmer. Check.
Me, I have a running tally–in the form of my Ravelry projects page. Yes, I have knit a square shawl, a triangular shawl, a circular shawl, cuff-down socks, toe-up socks…Check, check, check, check.
You probably have one, too. Ravelry project pages are common as corner houses. But what about a list of the things I haven’t knit? What’s missing? I started taking stock.
Would you believe it turns out I’ve never knit a blanket?
Again and Again and Again
I have knit bits of blanket. In other words, I have finished a piece here and there that, had I knit many more of that piece, and sewn them all together, I would have made a blanket.
My problem is that I am not by nature a knitter who thrives on repetition. I can finish a second sock, because my feet are small, my socks go quickly, and the idea of stopping after only one makes me feel abashed and ridiculous. But when I meet someone who tells me she’s making her eleventh shawl from the same pattern, all I can do is stand and blink. Eleven of the same thing? Eleven? How do you do that?
Mother Was a Quilter
My late mother, bless her memory, thrived on repetition. She often fixed early in the year on a single project–an electrified ceramic Christmas tree, a macramé hanging shelf, a suite of framed floral cross stitch miniatures–and would turn into a one-woman gift factory, turning out two dozen identical specimens for delivery to friends and relations well in time for December 25. She was always organized and she never sweated.
I did not inherit any of this from her.
Near the end of her life she discovered quilting and went into orbit. Precision! Repetition! Protocol! It was an art form she’d been born to explore. Sadly, after two years and a dozen perfect quilts, she was gone from us forever. Four uncompleted projects were still sitting, waiting, in her sewing room on the day she died. Along with her pin cushion, just as she'd left it.
I got to thinking that I might like to make a patchwork-inspired blanket as an homage to Mom. I would knit it, but I’d take my design and construction cues from quilting.
One of the most common design units in quilting, often the first a new quilter is taught, is a square patch made of two identical triangles, like this:
I’ve sewn a lot of these. I’d never knit one, but I knew it wouldn’t be difficult. Just do up a square on the bias, changing yarns halfway across. It’s such a simple idea I know I can’t be the first person to try it. I’m probably not even the twentieth. But I didn’t rush off to Ravelry to check. When I do something like this, I’d rather find my own way if I possibly can. Do I reinvent the wheel sometimes? Sure I do. I also learn a heck of a lot more about how stuff works.
I sat down with one of my favorite tweedy yarns – Hikoo® Kenzie, and a size US 6 (4mm) addi® Click needle that I guessed would give me (your gauge may vary) the kind of garter stitch I like: firm. You want the fabric in a blanket to drape, but not droop. Loose garter stitch tends to stretch in a frowsy fashion I find extremely unattractive.
As to the yarn choice, the Kenzie has what I consider to be an ideal fiber mix for a luxurious blanket. The merino and alpaca are both soft and warm. The nylon is durable and resists stretching out of shape. The angora gives a hint of halo without obscuring the stitches. And the silk noils, which take dye so differently than the other fibers, give the yarn a shimmer that adds depth without glitz.
After a few attempts, I’d refined my two-triangle square to give it equal amounts of both colors (oddly enough, by using slightly more of the second color), and four nice sharp corners.
Since I was working in garter stitch, for increasing I used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s make one: create a backward loop with the working yarn over the right needle. When you encounter this loop on the following row, knit it through the back.
It’s quick, it’s simple, and in garter stitch fabric it pretty much disappears.
Here’s my recipe for one 5.5 inch square.
Gauge: 4 sts / 8 rows = 1 inch
Yarn: Kenzie by Hikoo (50% New Zealand Merino, 25% Nylon, 10% Angora, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils; 160 yds per 50g skein). Color 1: 1002 (Grey Salt), Color 2: 1013 (Tekapo).
With C1, cast on 3 sts.
Row 1 (RS) Knit.
Row 2 (WS) Slip first stitch as if to purl with yarn in front, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 1. (2 stitches increased.)
Row 3 (RS), Slip first stitch as above. Knit across, knitting the increases from the previous row through the back.
Row 4 (WS). Slip first stitch as above, make 1, knit to last stitch, make 1, knit 1. (2 stitches increased.)
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until you complete the WS row that gives you 35 stitches.
Break C1, leaving 5-inch tail.
NOTE: Do not slip the first stitches of these rows.
Row 1 (RS). Join C2. Knit across, knitting the increases from the previous row through the back.
Row 2 (WS). Knit across.
NOTE: Your shaping rows will now be right side rows.
Row 1 (RS). Slip first stitch as above, slip-slip-knit, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. (2 stitches decreased.)
Row 2 (WS). Slip first stitch as above, knit across.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you complete the WS row after decreasing to 5 sts.
End of Square
Row 1 (RS). Slip first stitch as above, slip 2 stitches together as if to knit, knit the next stitch, pass the slipped stitches over the knit stitch. Knit the final stitch. (2 stitches decreased; 3 stitches remain.)
Row 2 (WS). Bind off as follows: slip first stitch as above, knit the following stitch, pass slipped stitch over–2 stitches. Knit the next stitch, pass the previous stitch over–1 stitch. Break C2 and pull end through.
Block and weave in ends.
Play With Your Blocks
This patch is wildly versatile. It can be arranged in so many different ways that entire books have been devoted to it. I knit sixteen–which was, in itself, a milestone for me–and spent a pleasant afternoon arranging them in different ways.
These aren’t nearly all the possible combinations–just some I that I tried. I love a project that allows you experiment with changes in direction as you move along. The first thing you try out is so seldom the thing that works best.
Mind you, this is still not a blanket. It’s just a pile of squares. They need to be sewn together, and there needs to be more of them. Many more. Many, many more.
We’ll talk about that in two weeks.
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Kenzie by Hikoo (50% New Zealand Merino, 25% Nylon, 10% Angora, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils; 160 yds per 50g skein). Colors 1002 (Grey Salt) and 1013 (Tekapo).
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has just been brought out by Soho Publishing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.
He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.
Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.
Do you despise short rows with a fiery passion? German short rows are the answer!
In this week's Maker's Minute, Katie quickly shows you this easy technique for short rows that's sure to become your favorite!
Products used in this video:
Katie: Hi, I’m Katie Rempe and this is your Makers’ Minute on German Short Rows.
Woman: What is this?
Katie: Hey wait, don’t go! Just because I said short rows doesn’t mean they’re not cool. They’re super easy.
We’re going to do the ‘wrap and turn’ on this stitch here. Knit it. Slide it back to the left-hand needle. Turn your work then wrap your working yarn around the right-hand needle on the outside to get this double stitch.
On the purl side, it’s almost the same thing. Purl the stitch for the ‘wrap and turn’. Have the yarn facing the right side or the back, slip it back onto your left-hand needle.
Turn your work and then wrap the working yarn around the right-hand needle. To close out your double stitches, you just knit them together as if they’re on stitch. When you reach a double stitch on the purl side, just purl them together as if they’re one stitch.
So next time you read a pattern that has short rows in it, don’t freak out. Remember, you’re now a pro at German short rows.
Meet the Envia bag, a Makers' Mercantile exclusive for all your interchangeable needles and notions! In this video, Katie takes you through the features of this product and the options it is available in!
Product in this video:
I’m Katie Rempe, and this is you Makers’ Minute.
Today I’m introducing you to the Envia Bag. It’s made from 100% genuine leather and it smells delightful. Comes with an adjustable strap, brass finishing, to fit a full-sized Ipad, a pocket on the back, with elastic strap. Has two snap pockets, has three different sections, a pocket over here.
Comes in four different options: Fundamental package will get you bag plus trap, and one vertical and one horizontal insert. Each insert is also lined with suede.
Or, upgrade to the Luxury package and get two horizontal inserts, one vertical insert, and one clear zip bag. Addi needles not included.
Or, upgrade even further, and get an Addi click set of your choosing. Or the Ultimate Luxury Package which includes two click sets of your choice.
Available in both teal and black, and only at Makers’ Mercantile.
HIKOO ZUMIE HAT AND COWL
Video with text: Skacel – the creator and distributor of Hikoo and the North American distributor of Addi (Made in Germany) brings you the Zumie by Hikoo.
Katie: I’m gonna show you how to knit the Zumie hat and Cowl depending on which one you’re using. You can use a 16-inch circular or 24, and I’m gonna show you the cast on right now. You can start with a slip knot, or you can start with a just dripping it over the needle like this and doing a long-term cast on. You wanna make sure to cast on nice and loosely, and you’re gonna cast on 48 stitches for the hat or 72 for the cowl.
Okay, I’m ready to join in the rounds and I wanna make sure that my stitches are not twisted. So make sure that all those little purl bumps are facing down and join in the rounds. You could place some marker here that indicate the beginning of the round but I usually just use the tail for the first few rounds. This little yarn end right here will work as a marker. So bring the ends together and join.
My first stitch is actually a purl, so I’m doing a purl, and I always work on the first stitch a little tightly just to make sure that there’s no spling right there. So I’m purling two, and then I’m going to knit one, and I’m gonna wrap twice around the needle before drawing through and getting it off. So that’s just gonna give us a little extra length to make the longer the stitch that we need for the slip-stitch-ribbing-stitch pattern. Roll two, and then knit one. If I’m a continental knitter I’m going to do the same thing. So, I’ll purl twice, knit the stitch wrapping the yarn twice around the needle. Roll two, and knit one. So, just continue that until you reach the other side of the round.
I’m almost done with this round, I’m gonna work my last double wrap stitch. Pull through, purl, and end with a knit one. So I’m ready to work round 2 of the stitch pattern: the slip stitch-ribbing has you purl two, and then when you get to that first wrap stitch, you slip with yarn back, slip the stitch and the extra wrap is just gonna drop right off, so that stitch is kinda look a lot larger than the other knit stitch that you have which is right here. This is a normal one so you’ll only wrap once, so you’re knitting that as normal. And then purling, and slip this, drop the extra, and pull it.
With that does is when you slip them for the next couple of rounds, they’re gonna have enough yarn to not pull off the fabric and distort it, and it just creates this very dramatic, giant loop stitch that looks kinda like a chain link. Really nice in this big book I’m using here. Alright, this has magically changed color and I’m gonna show you how to finish the hat and basically what you do is you do a three little bind up, you just make sure that your stitches are evenly split over two needles, if you have a circular, you can pension and pull out the extra cables, serve like a magic loop. And I’m gonna bind off in pattern of just finished working row four of the pattern. So I have the extra slip stitch here, the longer one, and I’m just gonna knit those on this round, not dong that extra wrap so, binding up basically in a rib. So, to work with a little bind up, you hold the needles in parallel like this, and you have a spare needle, doesn’t really matter what size it is but it can be, it should be closed to the size of what you’re working with.
Uhm, so I’m gonna purl this first stitch going through the back needle, and on the front needle, purling those one at a time and sort it at the same time, and slipping it off. I know that doesn’t make much sense but, so that’s one, cut it off the needle. Now the next stitch is a purl so I’m gonna actually come in through the back on the back needle, and go towards the front, purl that stitch to the front one, and then the back one. You can kinda do it in one-full swoop, but if you’re just doing this for the first time, you might wanna do them separately. Then I’m gonna bind these stitches off, in a normal manner.
So I have the back stitch coming up and over the first stitch. Just sort of knit frogging over it. Then I have my longer knit stitch, I’m gonna knit that, but I’m not wrapping twice this time, I’m just knitting it as normal. The back stitch and the front one will stitch it off the needle and then I’m gonna rib from the back stitch over the front. You wanna make sure that you do this rather loosely , especially if you’re working with the cowl, you don’t want this to pull . For the hat it doesn’t matter as much but just try to work these in even tension not pulling it too tightly. Keep it neat but don’t hold it too tight. So just continue until you bound off all the stitches this way. Remembering to work in pattern just keep a ___ knitter.
So I’m gonna bind off my last few stitches, and last is in it so I’m knitting these together and, pulling up the big loop like this. Snip the yarn. You’ll only need about, I’ll say you don’t really even need this much, just about 12 inches. Now that my stitches are all bound up, I have a tail here, I’m going to bring it over to the opposite side, I’m gonna pinch these two ends together, and I’m gonna pull this yarn though this corner to fasten the hat together. This is optional. You can wear it just like this little look like, little catty’s wearing it, it’s kind of cute. Or, you can make it into a hat. You can dread this on a tapestry or you can use a crochet hook. So pull the arm through, and you just do that several times, to make sure their attached. When you feel confident that it’s secure you can weave the rest of your yarn end.
You can put a tassel or a pompom here, or you can wear it just like so. It basically falls to the back like that and looks like a little hunter’s cap. You just wanna make sure that your hat’s tall enough to fit over your head ‘cause this does take a bit of fabric. So, but what it makes it nice, you don’t have to do any shaping. It’s nice and easy. So there you go, that’s your finished hat. If you don’t like the way this looks fastened on the outside, it sorts of make a little heart which is kinda cute. You can actually fasten it on the inside. You just want to turn your hat inside out before you sew those ends together, and it creates a little bulk on the inside of the hat, but if you knitted it tall enough, it’s going to be fine.
This is my finished hat, and I still have plenty of yarn left over to knit . I can do a pompom, I can do a tassel. If you had two colors you could actually switch with a friend and then put a little stripe in or cast on with a different color or shade. That would be really fun. If you’re knitting the cowl, you just cast on more stitches and you’re knitting ‘til the almost side of yarn, making sure you leave enough for your bind-off, and you want to make sure that your bind-off is nice and loose. And make sure to bind-off in pattern. Here we have a bind-off that stand a little bit too firmly so draws in quite a bit more. It’s still really nice, it’s just knitted to a tighter gauge with a tighter bind-off, so that’s more close to the neck. Uhm, It’s up to you what you like to do and have fun!