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

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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. 

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.

Thursday Sewing: Making a tree skirt from curtain valances

I had something completely different planned for today’s post! And as you can maybe tell I’m a bit late in posting today. What I had planned will have to wait until next Thursday’s Sewing Session though. So sorry.Today I bring you: Making a Tree Skirt from Curtain Valances

This would be a lot more relevant if we were closer to Christmas, but I also never got a chance to post it over Christmas. I was sick most of the time and we had family in from Brazil. So here it is today, and maybe it will give you a head start on your Christmas sewing?

To begin with, I had some old valances laying around that I had picked up at a thrift store, intending to make a silky bag with them. The bags never came to fruition. I needed a tree skirt. The one we had was too small and I wanted something a bit more elegant. And handmade. So I “found” the valances on my fabric shelf and started taking measurements.

With two of them, I had enough material to make the skirt. To make the skirt, I needed to sew them together, make a circular cut out in the middle, and then make eyelets or something similar for the ties on one side.

The first thing I did was to sew them together in the middle, so that the borders were on the outside edges. Then I folded them into halves and quarters so I could easily make a pie-shaped wedge to cut out the circular middle. I really just measured the top of my tree stand, subtracted about 1/2″ for seam, and measured from the point to the distance on the ruler. I then cut it and seamed it by folding 1/4″ under and running a zig zag stitch all the way around.

During all of this, I’d forgotten that I needed an opening to actually put it around the tree stand. So I cut down the middle of one side, seamed up the sides, and stood back to take a look at it. It needed more. It was just really plain. Here was where my two hour project became four.

I remembered that I had made a filet crocheted set of bells meant to be used as a centerpiece about 11 years ago. They had taken me forever, but were now laying unused in a drawer. I decided they would be perfect for my tree skirt. Sure enough, I got the centerpiece out and laid it across my skirt. Perfect! Now how to sew that sucker on there?

Looking around the craft room, my eyes landed on the can of basting spray I use for quilts. With an Aha! moment and recall of Ashley’s post about attaching her crocheted appliques, I set about spraying small sections and applying the piece to the skirt. This probably would’ve held for a while, but I didn’t want to risk it. I pinned the bells around, making sure to keep the slippery material as smooth as possible underneath the bells and the bells flat as well. With a zig zag stitch set for a long length and a short stitch, I carefully sewed the bells to the tree skirt.

For the final touch, I used an eyelet setting on my Janome. I made small holes down the sides of the open edges and then let the Janome do its thing. With little effort on my part, the eyelets were made and nearly perfect. I then laced it all up using some ribbon I had.

So it got a little involved, but I was really happy with the fact that I upcycled the valances and found a new purpose for my unused centerpiece. I also had a brand spanking new tree skirt that didn’t cost me a dime to make this year. (I’m not considering the initial cost of the valances which was about $3 and the thread used to crochet the bells, or the ribbon that I had on hand. It was all stuff I had on hand and didn’t have to go out to buy.)

With a little thought, looking through your stash, or a fun run through a thrift store, I bet you can find some stuff to make you own Christmas tree skirt for next year. If you make something, would you consider posting it to my group Flickr account? I’d love to see your projects!

*The pattern used for the bells centerpiece was from the November, 2003 issue of Crochet! Magazine and is by Ferosa Harold. You can reference the pattern on Ravelry.

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