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…

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.


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.

Knitting Two Socks at a Time

A couple of posts ago I wrote about the resurgence of old techniques such as tatting, and how some techniques seem to catch on for a while then die away again. I have another one to share with you that some may find very interesting.I’m sure you’ve heard of magic loop socks. These are knit on the a long circular needle. You knit one sock, and then the other on a second pass. So with this method, you ARE knitting two at a time, but still knitting them separately on one needle. So for every one row that you do, you still have to repeat the row a second time on the other sock.

The method I’m discussing is not the Magic Loop. This is a Double Knit method using double point needles and literally knitting one sock inside of the other at the same time. The Annie’s Catalog class “Magic Socks” teaches how to use the same method on a long circular needle in the magic loop style. However, I don’t own a good pair of circulars with a long enough and flexible enough cable. So for me, the dpns seemed like the best fit!

So what is this exactly?

Well, if you’ve ever tried double knitting, you’ve come half way to doing two socks at a time! Double knitting is a process that uses two strands of yarn on double pointed needles. The yarns are worked together and produce a thick, double-layered fabric that can also be used to show mirror images on either side. Here is a really good example on Ravelry by Heather Zoppetti that would make for excellent practice if you so desired.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss how we knit 2 socks without having them stuck together. The concept is pretty much that you are going to knit using 2 strands of yarn that are never crossed over each other. To do this, you have to knit one strand in the front by bringing the yarn to the back, then separating the yarns and bringing the front yarn to the front as if to purl, making the knit stitch in the back with the second yarn, then bringing the front yarn back again to make the next stitch. What you end up with is 2 separate socks, knit at the same time, with two yarns. Confusing?
I thought so at first, too. But I can’t confess to having only used one method. I also used the method by Kory Stamper in her article on Knitty to work out the kinks. I have included a bunch of notes in my Ravelry project for the changes that I made and why. But I DID succeed in making 4 socks. The images below only show one pair, because my daughter scarfed up the other ones and I can’t find them right now. Kids…

As I was knitting these socks, I thought to myself, “Self, I bet we could knit just about anything tubular using this method.” So self and I decided that we would try it! We knit 2 slouchy button hats (also a great Ravelry pattern!) using 2 different colors. Since I also knit hats for charity, I was ecstatic with the thought that I could knit one for personal use (see daughter below? She took the orange one and then other daughter has successfully taken the brown one) and give one away. While that idea only works if you don’t have daughters that like hats, it is an excellent one. This same technique can also be used for knitting two sleeves, two boot cuffs, two pot holders…you get the picture. They don’t have to be tubular either, as in the case of the pot holders.

I would not suggest using this technique for cabling, unless you have the patience of Job. Knitting two stitches together involves moving stitches around on the needles. It can be a bit tedious. I’ll probably try it one day. Just to do it. And say I did.

Since there are a couple of tutorials on the socks that I mentioned in this post, I will be posting a tutorial Friday on making the hats. I’ll be using a baby hat pattern and worsted weight yarn for a speedier finish than the dk and sock weights I used previously. The tutorials will be in 2-3 sections, depending on what I can cover. So stay tuned, and check back for more!

%d bloggers like this: