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Magic Loop

 

 

I am currently knitting sleeves in the round with one circular needle which is what Magic Loop is and  I’d like to share pictures of using this technique.  The Boye Needle Master comes with a connector part that allows the knitter to combine two shorter cables together to make a very long circular needle.  The length is needed so one end of the needle can be manipulated freely .  I personally find using double point needles to knit small tubes easiest.  Using two circular needles would be my next choice.  But since I don’t have size 6 double point needles (I am kicking myself for not buying all sizes the last time I bought a bunch) or 2 sets of size 6 circular needles (I should get another set of Boye Needle Master), I resorted to the Magic Loop. 

This method works because half of the stitches are sitting on a thin cable while you work the other half.  The flexible cable substitutes the extra needles used in double point needle method and allows the stitches on the needle to be more easily accessible- when the stitches are all sitting on 2 straight needles in the round (well, in parallel actually), they will be bound very tightly and impossible to knit.

It is a very clever way to use the needle except I find that it’s hard to have even tension for all stitches and the progress slower, having to pull the needle and slide the stitches through a long cable for each side of the work.  Also it can be confusing in keeping track of rounds worked.  One distraction, and you can end up working on the wrong half.

Still it is an alternative to buying extra needles and what I have knit so far looks fine.  I might just get the hang of it and keep using this method for more projects!

I have neglected my blog since I started my temporary job.  There are new ideas that I want to write and post here but I just don’t have as much time as before to knit up a demonstration piece and take pictures.  And with Ravelry around to post FO’s, I totally forgot to write about my latest completed project here until now.  Here she is!  My first lace project, a great pleasure to knit.  I modelled it and gave it to mom.  Hope she likes it.  It’s amazing how simply combining yarn-over’s and decrease stitches can turn out countless seemingly complicated and beautiful lace designs.  Now I am really ready for Rowan’s lace vest, Butterfly.

Pattern: Lion Brand Lace Scarf

Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy color Flamingo

Needles: size 8

I learned how to knit mostly by looking up intructions online and noticed that while there were plenty of online instructions with step by step schematics, there were not many live images (at least not as easy for me to find at that time) of how individual completed stitches looked.  Because I don’t have 20-30 years of knitting experience or natural talent of forming geometric patterns in my head, I find myself wishing that there were pictures of the different looks created by various types of basic stitches that I could look up quickly on the computer, especially when I wanted to try knitting something on my own without following a pattern.  Sure I can buy books filled with hundreds of stitch and pattern pictures but which one?  Deciding on one will be another project and field trip later.  For now I need the basic ones used in shaping and lace knitting.  I’ll just take the pictures myself!  They are not the best quality pictures but should still show the directions of the stitches.   Indicate in the comment section if any errors are found.

k2tog – knit 2 stitches together the same way 1 stitch is knit.  This decreases 1 stitch in the pattern and creates a right slanting look with the left stitch being on top of the right stitch, see stitch inside box in the picture.

 k2tog

k2tog tbl– knit 2 stitches through the back loops instead of the front loops in normal knit stitches.  This decreases 1 stitch in the pattern and creates a left slanting look with the right stitch being on top of the left stitch and both stitches are twisted.

  k2tog tbl

k1, sl1, psso– knit 1 stitch; slip next stitch as if to knit, then slide the 2 stitches to the left needle as they are; pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch and off the needle; finally slip the knit stitch back to the right needle as if to purl.  This decreases 1 stitch in the pattern and creates a right slanting look with the left stitch being on top of the right stitch and the left stitch is twisted.

 k1,sl1,psso

ssk and skp create the same look –  ssp is slip one stitch as if to knit, repeat the slip for another stitch, then knit the two together by inserting left needle into the front loops of the two slipped stitches and proceed to complete the knit stitch by pulling the working yarn loop through with the right needle; skp is slip one stitch as if to knit, knit the next stitch, then pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch and off the needle. Both decrease 1 stitch in the pattern and create a left slanting look with the right stitch being on top of the left stitch.

 ssk or skp

k3tog-knit 3 stitches together.  This decreases 2 stitches in the pattern and creates a right slanting look with the left most stitch being on top.

 k3tog

sl3, k3togtbl– slip 1 stitch at a time as if to knit for 3 stitches, transfer them back to left needle as they are, and then knit the 3 stitches throug the back loop.  This decreases 2 stitches in the pattern and creates a left slanting look with the right most stitch being on top.

 sl3, k3togtbl

sk2p– slip one stitch as if to knit, knit the next 2 stitches together, then pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch and off the right needle.  This decreases 2 stitches in the pattern and is centered with the center stitch on the bottom.

 sk2p

sl2tog, k1, p2sso– slip 2 stitches at the same time, instead of one by one,  as if to knit 2 together, then knit the next stitch and pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch and off the right needle.

 sl2tog, k1, p2sso

 

I know there are high tech, jewel studded, or cute colorful practical row counters and stitch markers out there but there are no stories behind them.  Nothing is quite the same in generating conversations and sometimes even warming your heart with that satisfying feeling than all things homemade regardless of the quality of said item.  For the environmentally conscious people as I try to be, reusing/recycling otherwise wasted materials has even further significance.  Since I don’t venture outside of my immediate neighborhood much and also have been raised to avoid the shopping habit of buying things I don’t necessarily need, creating clutter, I get plenty of chances for homemade “experiments” if I can manage to scrounge up all the required materials at home.

When I first started knitting, row counter was not even a concept… didn’t know such a thing existed.  I finished knitting scarves, socks, hats, even sweaters without ever needing one.  As I progressed to larger, more complicated patterns though, the desire to use it arose.  The main benefit would be efficiency, saving time.  I could put a project down and come back any time, and it could be months, later knowing exactly what point to pick up without reviewing or counting the pattern all over again.  Not surprisingly, a person who didn’t go out much, such as moi, would not find stitch markers and row counters at the few stores she frequented. Luckily the internet is such a huge resource for information that I learned many materials can be used or put together to substitute as a marker / counter. So…..

Enough talk and let’s look at the darn homemade row counter already!  It’s light weight and hangs right on the project, bright and colorful, and easy to read.   It works so well for me, I thought it would be fun to share it with people.  All it took was some leftover wires and beads that came with my kids’ rock painting kits.  Here are the step by step pictures.  It cannot be easier and would be a fun project for kids too.

 figure 1 figure 1

Cut a 5-6″ wire.  Twist it around a pen along the middle of the wire to form a loop.  Put the number of beads you need through one end.  I put in 10 beads to keep track of multiples of up to 10-row repeating patterns.  To keep track of total number of rows knitted on a larger project, make more counters with bigger beads, each denoting 5, 10, or more rows per bead, to use together with the first counter. 

figure 2

Close the loop by twisting the ends of the wire together.  Make sure the cut ends are twisted to the inside of the loop to avoid snagging the yarn when you hang the counter on the needle.  I have never had a problem with this wire maybe because of the plastic coating.

 figure 3 figure 4

Done!   Use a permanent marker ( I used black)  to make a mark near the bottom on one side of the loop as the side counting the completed rows (see figure 3).  If you don’t do this, later you won’t be able to tell right away without re-examining your project and the pattern which side is telling you how many rows you have done.

How to use:

 I usually place the counter, which can be used as a stitch marker at the same time when needed, onto the needle when I work up to the middle of the row, sliding one bead over to the marked side of the counter indicating row 1.  When you come upon the counter again as the knitting progresses, take the counter and slide one more bead over to the marked side to indicate one more row completed.  Then slip the counter as if it were a yarn stitch, or as you would for a stitch marker, onto the right needle and continue knitting.  In figure 4, I have completed the second row of a lace pattern that repeats over 8 rows.  In this case,  I wouldn’t be sliding over all 10 beads before repeating from row 1 again. 

By using two counters side by side, one counting by 1 bead = 1 row and the other 1 bead = 10 rows for example, one can keep track of over 100 rows, if one ever needs to.  A even more helpful use for me is when I need to cast on projects with over 100, 200, or more stitches.  Just slip on the counters as markers at whatever intervals that are convenient as you cast on (for me, usually after every 50 stitches or so using 1 bead as 10 stitches) and there would be no need to double check the number of stitches all the way back from stitch 1.  Let’s say one of your little ones is calling you to the bathroom to help her wipe after #2, in the middle of casting on 144 stitches.  No problem.  Just go ahead and finish that important duty then come back to your needle and recount from the last counter you placed.  The counters can be taken out when row 1 is being worked on.  

After thought:

Many other small items around the house can also be used as stitch markers.  Figure 4 above includes dangling earring parts ( blue boy and pink girl figurings) that I don’t wear anymore doubling as stitch markers now.  Small o-ring is another example of improvised stitch marker.  I am sure there are a lot of creative people out there doing the same thing.  I hope they comment and share what kinds of interesting materials they have used to aid their knitting.

 

Labor of Love

Pattern: Mary Jane from Berroco

Needle: size 8 and 7 (for neck border)

Yarn: Knit Pick Wool of the Andes, Carrot

Modifications: adjusted the numbers for the neck, sleeves, and length. 

I didn’t keep track of the total amount of time I spent on this pullover but it felt like a long time.  I am so happy it’s done.  Overall, I like the  fit and the yarn feels very comfortable for 100% wool.  I think I will actually wear it.  In the past,  I had only knitted for other people. 

Some lessons learned with this project: 

Seaming takes me a very long time even with experience.  For future projects I will try to stick with knitting in the round or any other ways to reduce sewing seams.

Don’t mix yarns by different manufacturers no matter how similar you think they look and feel for a fairly traditional classic style pattern project.  This is pretty intuitive except  I was being cheap and just had to use my stash Lion Brand Wool Ease for the stripes.  The subtle differences show up in the way the fabric folds and stretches when you move around.  That can bug you every time you wear the garment.  Also you can probably tell in the pic especially around the upper arms that the Lion Brand Wool Ease came out wider and looser.  

Careful calculation of the stitch numbers to fit your gauge and your measurements (if you can’t  or don’t want to obtain the original pattern gauge) pays off.  I followed the instructions written in “Set-in Sleeves – a love affair” by Pam Allen in Interweave Knit Winter 2007, to a tee, and I thought the sleeve caps just fit perfectly.

In the end, it is a sweater I will wear often because of comfort and fit with some style.

The Color Purple

 Cornflower

I went to my old work place to interview for a temporary position today.  I have to admit I have mixed feelings about it even though I was very excited when I first found out that there was an open position.  After staying home for about 5 years now, I have been feeling increasingly “lost,” and missing the sense of confidence I had when I was working.  After the interview with a few super nice folks, I had a better understanding of what the job entails.  It’s something I definitely can handle because I had a much more challenging role before.  However, the same issues that frustrated people, or me, are still there. 

I also started having the same nagging feelings that pushed me to stay home before again- what if the kids just roamed free at home without discipline, we’ll be eating take-out’s everyday, the house would be a big mess….etc.   And what about my knitting projects?  I guess that’s why I applied for a temporary position at my old company instead of going out there looking for a permanent position seriously.  I am grateful that people from my old job is giving me the opportunity to come back with a lot of flexibility; it doesn’t always happen. 

Playing with new yarns always takes my mind off my worries.  So I took out the Knit Picks Swish DK that I bought lately in preparation for knitting up a girl size pullover.  It’s not as “buttery” as Comfy but much softer than Wool of the Andes, and most importantly, it’s washable.

 

Lovely Butterfly

I can’t help to get on the Butterfly bandwagon.  All this talk about it in the knitting world and seeing the various gorgeous FO’s in Ravelry, how can one resist.  I tried looking into buying the individual pattern but it wasn’t available.  Magazine shopping it is.  Got it (on eBay)!  Then on to the yarn.  My favorite Butterfly FO was done by lingy in Ravelry so I figured I’d be safe following her steps.  Yarn of choice- Jagger Zephyr Wool Silk in Mahogany – ordered on 5/23/08 from TheKnitter.com at a decent price compared to other sites.  Now the part where you wait anxiously for the yarn to arrive and then the excitement of receiving it making you abandon other projects temporarily just to get a taste of the new yarn and pattern.  Sigh….. the high.  Ok, back to reality.