Friday Tutorial: Finishing the 2 at a Time Hats

We’re nearing the end of our hats! This week we’re going to finish them up and learn how to decrease stitches using double knitting. You may want to use a cable needle or stitch holder of some sort, as you will need to move stitches around to do the decreases. Once I’ve made a few decreases and they get closer together, I will usually just move all of the stitches from one hat to a new set of needles to “hold” it and finish them separately. This works out pretty well and is a little less stressful. However, it doesn’t work so well when you’re working the heel of a sock, so i’m going to explain how this is done – just in case you want to do it.

The pattern tells us to knit 6 and decrease (knit together)2. So for our hats, we’ll knit the first 12 stitches (6 blue, 6 orange) and then slip 1 blue stitch.

Slip 1 blue stitch

To get your stitches next to each other you need to drop one orange (back) stitch from your needle, work the knit 2 together with the blue, then place the dropped stitch back on the needle to knit two orange together.

move 1 orange stitch to holder
Move blue stitch back to working needle, knit 2 together
Slip orange stitch back to working needle

2 orange together

 I usually just hold my dropped stitch in my left hand, work the k2tog, then place it back on the needle. However, you CAN use a small cable needle here or a juice pouch straw or something to hold that stitch if you’re afraid you can’t keep it from dropping and running. We want to be careful we don’t knit a blue and orange together either. That defeats our whole purpose.

holding dropped stitch 

If you want to separate the hats to make the decreases, you will need a circular needle or another set of dpns to hold the stitches on one hat. It doesn’t have to be the same size, as you’re just holding them and can move them back once you complete the first hat.

Working in reverse of our cast on, slip 1 blue stitch to the working dpn. Slip 1 orange stitch to the holding needle. Keep slipping stitches until they are all moved. Pull the inside hat up through the top of the outside hat and lay aside to work later.

Finish your hat as directed in the pattern and voila! you have a hat to share and one to keep. Or give both. Or whatever. I hope you had fun with this tutorial series and learned a lot. I also hope you try this technique with other applications like sleeves and scarves. If you would like to donate your extra hat, would you consider donating it to my charity Warm Up the Boro? I collect donated hats and scarves and hand them out in our community during the cold winter months. You can find out more on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/warmuptheboro.

As always, please post pics to the Flickr group

Tuesday Needlework: Yarn Bombing

Obviously I knit and crochet. Obviously I love yarn and many things made from it. I think it is an art form that some master with skill. I find value in wool, cotton, and natural materials gathered, spun, dyed, and distributed. Obviously I think yarn bombing is the biggest waste of time, energy, talent, and yarn that ever existed. Yep, I said it. It’s a waste. I’m a huge fan of art, too. Creating it and distributing it and appreciating it. In a wide variety of forms. But to me, yarn bombing is a desperate cry for nothing better to do with one’s time than make tubes to tie on trees.

It looks terrible. Nature can never be improved in any way by knitting something to put on it. And defacing someone else’s art (statues, sculptures, etc.) by putting YOUR yarn on it is sacrilegious. It irritates me in ways I can’t even explain. Especially when I see these long works that took hours to make (and who knows how much wool and/or polluting acrylics) draped over some bush in the park, doing nothing more than interfering with natural beauty and wildlife. And why in the world would it make any kind of a statement to cover a bridge in yarn? The whole thing just grates on my nerves and I want to scream, “DO SOMETHING GOOD WITH YOUR TALENT! If you want to use up yarn and time, do it for a good cause!”

Then, I seen this:

My Facebook was blowing up with it! Not only was it being shared by every single knitting group that I like, but my friends were also sharing it. According to CTVNews this yarn bomber was leaving notes attached that said to “take the scarf it you need it!” Wow. I’m already impressed. No name was associated with it, just a good Samaritan. THIS was impressive. THIS was important. THIS was worthwhile. 
I run an organization called Warm up the Boro. I collect and make hats and scarves to donate to the needy in our community. I’ve been doing it for a little over a year now, and we just had our first distribution. It’s been difficult to get donations locally, so I have some plans to try and expand it. BUT! I wish you could’ve seen the faces of those that got their new hats this past weekend. Many were overjoyed and enormously thankful. 
Donation day. We had already given out a bunch of hats!
Part of our collection! 
No, I didn’t yarn bomb, but I can see the potential in this! Whoever did this doesn’t care what your circumstances are, here is a free scarf. This was done with intent and purpose and a great outcome. 
Now, before someone jumps down my throat about my OBVIOUS hatred of yarn bombing, let me say that I DO know that some of these other works are donated to shelters and such after the bombing. That’s great. I really can’t say anything bad about that. My distaste comes from those that just leave it. I’ve never met a fire hydrant that needed a scarf. Not. One. Although a dog could probably see some wiping value in it. 
Now about knitting and crocheting food…

Crafty Monday: Time Management Fail

Right here should be a really awesome blog post about making a closet in a weekend. Yep, that’s what I had planned. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Things just didn’t come together, I didn’t have the right materials, and I spent my Saturday doing something else. Not that I would’ve done anything differently on my Saturday, but it was just one of those projects where I had an idea, thought it would work, but nothing. Nada. Zip.

I got one part of it done, but it took me most of the day on Sunday. By the time I wanted to finish it, Sunday was nearly over. We were also dealing with two sick children. I also run a charity similar to Warm Up America, but I try to keep it local. It’s called Warm Up the Boro and if you’re interested, please stop on by our Facebook page and check us out. I spent most of the morning handing out hats and scarves to those that didn’t have any at our local soup kitchen. It was so much fun, and such a blessing. Little kids walking out with warm hats that they didn’t have previously, and adults that wore theirs the entire time they were there. Even here in South Georgia it’s been very cold and the wind chill has been killer. It took a year’s effort and many donations to make it happen, but it did. If you follow anything about knitting, you probably saw the scarf on the statue last week? I think that should be up for “Best Possible Use of Yarn Bombing EVER!”

The post that should’ve been here, that isn’t, should be by next Monday. I did put forth good effort. But, things happen I guess. And it gives me fuel for tomorrow’s Knitting Tuesday post. 🙂 

Friday Tutorial: Knitting Two Hats at a Time, Part 2

 Last week we left off on finishing up our ribbing for the brim of our hats. We discussed how to cast on to four double pointed needles using two different yarns and how to keep the stitches divided so that we end up with two separate pieces of fabric. This week we’re going to take a look at how to make stockinette stitch so we can work on the body of the hats.

Stockinette simply means that we knit every stitch on every row. To do this with our two yarns in double knitting, we will have to bring the front yarn forward and backward, but leave the back yarn in the back. The difference is that we no longer have to worry about moving the back yarn to the front.

Now, this CAN be done without moving either if the yarns and working a reverse stockinette in front (purl every front stitch) and a regular stockinette in back. However, when I did this with my first pair of two-at-a-time socks, I ended up with horrible ladders where the joins were. This method seems to work better.

Following Rachel’s pattern, we start knitting in stockinette for the body. To begin, make sure both yarns are to the back and you are starting with your front color (blue in my case) to make a knit stitch.

Make the knit stitch, then move the front yarn to the front of the work.

Make the second knit stitch with the alternate color (orange).

Now move the first color to the back of the work to make the third stitch. Continue in this manner until you have knit you’re hat to the length specified for the body before making the decreases.

Knit in stockinette the hat starts to take shape

For part 3 next week we will finish the hat by learning how to decrease the stitches for the top of the hat. 

Sewing on Thursday: An armrest sling for crafty projects

I have a mess in my living room. It’s not from the kids, or the dogs, or even the husband. It’s me. All mine. It’s globbed up in piles in various areas. I have organizers and bags filled to the brim with tools and accessories, yet none of them seem to be able to give me the rapid availability I require for my projects? It’s a conglomeration of yarn, threads, sewing needles, knitting needles, crochet hooks, patterns, scissors, stitch markers, and coffee cups.Try as I might to keep it tidy, I get back in there at the end of the day and start working on my projects. Before long, everything is right back out again. After 2 days, I’ve given up trying to put it away when I’m finished with it, because rarely is there a point where I say, “Ok, I’m done for the night.” Nope. What usually happens is that I work up until I send the kids to bed around 8. Then we go in, read or tell stories, say goodnight prayers, and drift off to sleep. Yes, me included sometimes. They’re just so warm and snuggly. It’s difficult.

I want all of my tools right where I can easily grab them, without having to undo an organizer roll or search through the bag at my feet. They need to be ready instantly and be able to drop right back into place. So I created: The Armrest Project Organizer

Materials:

Approximately 2 yards of top fabric for sling top and pockets
1 yard muslin or backing fabric
lightweight interfacing
thread
ruler

First things first, measure your couch. I went from outside in, first measuring the drop on the outside of the arm, then the top of the armrest, the drop inside the armrest, and across the bottom of the couch under the cushion.

Also measure the distance front to back for the depth you want.

My measurements were 10″ outside drop, 8″ top of armrest, 13″ inside drop, and 21″ across the bottom. The width was 18″ across. Add 1/2″ to all of your measurements. I’ll be referring to my measurements throughout, but please substitute your own measurements for mine.
Cut from top fabric

1-18.5″ x 21.5″ (bottom)

1 – 18.5″ x 13.5″ (inside drop)
2 – 18.5″ x 8.5″ (top of arm/pocket)
2 – 18.5″ x 10.5″ (outside drop/pocket)
1 – 18.5″ x 5.5″ (pocket)

Cut from muslin or backing fabric

1-18.5″ x 21.5″

1 – 18.5″ x 13.5″
1 – 18.5″ x 8.5″
1 – 18.5″ x 10.5″

Cut from interfacing for pockets

1 – 18.5″ x 8.5″
1 – 18.5″ x 10.5″
1 – 18.5″ x 5.5″

  1. Using 1/4″ seams, match the sections to each other, right sides facing. Outside arm to top of arm, top of arm to inside arm, and inside arm to bottom. You’ll have one long piece of fabric x the width you chose. Iron all seams open.
  2. Do the same with the muslin or backing fabric. I chose to cut these in sections so that they would hang better on the couch. You could also do one very long piece of each fabric if you choose.
  3. Iron on interfacing to the 3 pocket sections. Turn the top edge of each pocket under 1/4″ and stitch down to create a narrow hem.
  4. To do the pockets, decide how many sections you’d like. You’ll only be able to section one of the pockets in this, and I chose to do the middle pocket. I made one 6″ section and three 4″ sections. I matched the edges of the bottom and sides to the longer (10″) inside section and sewed straight lines from the top of the middle pocket to the base, then sewed a 1/4″ seam around the sides and bottom.
  5. Layer the bottom pocket to the other two pockets and sew around all three thicknesses.
  6. Match the main fabric to the muslin, right sides together, lining up seams and edges, and sew 1/4″ seam all around, leaving an opening for turning.
  7. Clip the corners and turn the piece right side out. Iron flat and top stitch around seam allowances.
  8. Attach to armrest by laying long piece under cushion and over the top of the armrest.
TADA! You now have a beautiful, one-of-a-kind armrest project sling. You can use this for any type of craft such as knitting, crochet, needlepoint and much more. You can also use it as a handy remote control holder or a candy bar stasher. I hope you had fun with this and as always, if you make one, please post it to our Flickr group! 

Tuesday Needlework: The difference between crochet and knitting

Have you ever been quietly enjoying your coffee (tea, latte, frappe, insert beverage here) in your favorite coffee shop while working on your current crochet project, dressed in your awesome asymmetrical cardigan and slouchy hat (that YOU made, btw) only to have some person obviously uneducated in needle arts come up and ask you, “What are you knitting?”

As the hair on the back of your neck raises and you feel your blood start to boil, you ever-so-patiently take a sip of your beverage with the cozy on it that YOU crocheted, look up and say, “I’m not knitting. It’s crochet.” And inside your head you’re thinking, “If it was knitting I’d have two needles to jab you with.” Yeah, don’t act like you’ve never thought this a time or two.
I pursue both knitting and crochet because I find they have their purposes for different items. I don’t necessarily like to make clothing such as sweaters from crochet, but that it is great for scarves and hats.It is too bulky for my taste preferences.

Crochet stitches for a hat
Knit stitches for a hat

I have made cardigans and such, but as for sweaters, gloves, and socks I just think the stitches are too big and it looks too “homemade.” Before you string me up, remember, this is just what I feel about it and that I have nothing against homemade. I think knitting has a smoother look and the closer stitches make for a much more appealing fabric for clothing.

However, if you want something done faster, your best choice is crochet. I can work up a crochet piece in half the time it takes me to knit something. This is also because the stitches work up about twice the size of a knit stitch. I think it may have a lot to do with only using one hook as opposed to two needles, too.
So what is the major difference? Well, if you do one or the other you probably already know the answer to this. I’m hoping to reach out and educate those that may not know, and hopefully one day the world will be a much better place when the two are not confused, inciting violence in the mind of an otherwise peaceful needleworker.
If you take the time to notice, crochet is performed using a single needle with a hook on the end of it. The crocheter is usually in a very rhythmic trance with yarn in one hand and a hook in the other. Knitting uses TWO needles. These needles DO NOT have hooks on the end of them, but are rather sharp and pointy. The knitter will also have a rhythm down but it will not be the same as the crocheter’s.

 

 

Interrupting a crocheter usually means you will interrupt their counting. This is not a good thing. If they sigh audibly and visibly start counting stitches with a louder voice (not the voice inside their head) you had better back away slowly and never, ever speak to them again. To repeatedly ask questions is not wise.
The same could be said for a knitter, except that for some reason they have a tendency to use stitch markers more often and once they are sure of their stitch count, rarely have to repeat counting. This is not a guarantee, though. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to mess with or upset someone that can use sharp, pointy objects with obvious skill and grace and how much does she/he really value that yarn they are using? Would they mind a bit of blood?”
If you feel you MUST talk to the knitter or crocheter while they are working, it is best if you sit patiently and watch them work. You may pick up a thing or two in the process. When they stop their hand movements to take a sip of their beverage, it is probably safe to talk to them. Hopefully you are intelligently armed with the correct question of, “What are you knitting/crocheting?” If you get it right, the needleworker is usually more than happy to speak with you about their project.
I hope this has reached someone in time to avoid serious injury. If, however, you are sitting in a hospital bed with puncture wounds and reading this, I hope that at your next encounter you will be better informed. Cheers, and quick healing…

Friday Tutorial: Knitting Two Hats at a Time, Part One

 Remember in Tuesday’s knitting post that I promised a tutorial for knitting two hats on a set of double point needless? Here it is! I didn’t want to do socks because there are a couple of tutorials and classes out there, the ones I’m familiar with were listed in the last post. But me and my self thought that since we had already done socks, a hat would be a breeze. No short rows for one thing! What is amazing about knitting these two at a time is that you can make a multitude of things using this method. I’m anticipating working some sweater sleeves for one thing. No more single sleeve sweaters!I’m using a very simple hat pattern from Ravelry by Rachel Sonntag called  Simple Beginner Toddler Hat. It’s a basic ribbed brim and stockinette stitch in a worsted weight yearn. If you’d like to follow along with this pattern, please check out her link and download it for free from Ravelry.

Materials:

Pattern Simple Beginner Toddler Hat
4 oz worsted weight yarn in 2 contrasting colors
Size 6 dpns (or size needed to obtain gauge)
Size 6 knitting needle at least 10″ long
stitch markers

Ok, once you have your pattern downloaded it is important to note the gauge. Her pattern calls for size 6 dpns and circulars. We’re using 4 or 5 dpns only because it more closely relates to doing the socks later. However, you can also use this method on a circular needle. I knit loosely, so I always drop a size down. When knitting two at a time, your stitches are spaced further apart than normal too. So it is a good idea to go down one or two sizes to match the gauge. I’ll be using 5 size 4 dpns.

Casting On

Cast on the required number of stitches for your chosen size. I do this using the super stretchy method for the ribbing (follow link for YouTube video). I cast on to 4 of my 5 needles. When I do this I just work one or two stitches more than I need on the first needle and slip them to the next one so I’m not concerned with making a new stitch.

For example, each of my needles will have 22 stitches for a grand total of 88. I cast 24 on to the first needle, slip 2 to the new needle, and work 22 more, slipping 2, k 22, sl 2, k20. Then join.

Now for the fun part! Knit one round in ribbing. Just like a normal hat. Then when you reach the next round, we join our new yarn and second color.

Joining the new yarn requires that you first cast on the total number of stitches (88 in this case) to a longer straight needle the same size as what you are knitting with.

Long straight needle with 88 stitches cast on
Now, holding the straight needle in back of your first dpn, slip the first stitch from your dpn purl wise. Then, knit 1 stitch from the straight needle. Slip the next stitch purl wise from the dpn (blue) and purl the next stitch. Remember to move your working yarn (orange) back to the back of your work before slipping the next (blue) stitch.

You’ll only be working with 1 thread from the straight stitches. In essence, what you are doing is knitting the first row of the second color while placing the stitches onto the dpns. This works much better than trying to cast on each color initially. You’re also working in k1, p1 ribbing to match the ribbing on the first row of the first color. Continue to slip stitches from the front row (blue) and working k1, p1 from the back row (orange) until all of the stitches have been worked.

Whew! That’s a lot of stitching! If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You’ve cast on your stitches and you’re ready to begin the yarn acrobatics of double knitting 2 at a time.

Knitting the Ribbing

For the next part we are going to work with 2 strands of yarn. Your fingers will need some training. I like to hold my yarns with my pointer finger between the two strands, working forward and backward as required. I’ve tried one of those finger things for stranding and they just didn’t work for me. They may for you, though. This is difficult, so don’t lose patience. Just keep trying different methods until you find what works for you.
For row 2, you will hold both strands of yarn to the back because you are working a knit stitch. With your strands separated, knit the first stitch from needle 1 (blue).

Move the blue strand to the front of the work. Knit the next stitch (orange), but keep the yarn to the back.

This should read “Keep yarn forward, knit next orange stitch”

Purl the next blue stitch and leave your yarn in front as if to purl.

Pull the orange yarn to the front of the work and make your purl stitch. Then move both yarns back to the back. After four stitches you will be in the same position that you started in, with both yarns to the back of the work and ready to make a knit stitch with the first color.

You will continue to do this until your piece measures what is stated in the pattern.

I’m going to leave the remaining part of this tutorial for next week. Work on the ribbing, don’t get frustrated, and remember that a good cup of coffee is a great cure for aggravation. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. You can also find my pattern notes and project on Ravelry.

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