Posts tagged ‘double-knitting’

Knitterly Musings on a Hot Afternoon

I started to write this “quick” blog post on Saturday, and it just kept going… and going… and going… Apparently I had a lot on my mind.

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It’s like a million degrees outside. We’re totally paying for the glorious lack of nasty winter by getting one heck of a summer. I’m pretty sure we just broke the all-time record yesterday. So as I brew some sweet tea for my husband who’s a glutton for punishment and is mowing, weed-eating and doing all sort of other things that a sane person would not do on a day like today, I almost picked up one of my wool projects. What has been keeping me from doing so is actually not the insane temperature. It’s actually more about the knitting that’s making me stand-offish when I look at them sitting there in their unfinished state, begging to be the subject of my unwind in silence time.

Right now I’m actively working on two projects. One for the kids and one for me. For the kids, you may recall, I’m trying to tackle the question of wool cloth diapering. My first attempt was a success with a few reservations and I’m tackling the improvements by way of double knitting. Problem. I’ve never done any double knitting. And while this has never posed much of a problem to me in the past when picking up a new technique, it’s become a problem now. Usually, if I hear a podcast or read a blog on the topic, I can  pick up a new technique in a matter of minutes. I may need a youtube or two to help me perfect my execution of it, but generally, I just learn it and quickly and easily incorporate it into whatever I’m working on at the time. Double knitting has not worked out like that. I honestly feel like I’m learning to knit all over again. I hold the yarn so awkwardly, I’m constantly trying to figure out if my yarn should be in front or in back. I can barely figure out if I’m on a knit or a purl stitch. After working on my diaper cover for over two hours, I have like 4-5 rows to show for it.

Part of my problem.. Did I knit a little practice swatch to teach me the basics before casting on a whole project? Of course not! Why would I do a sensible thing like that? Oh no, I decided to jump right in on my next cover with a new cast on, double-knit ribbing, and of course double-knit stockinette. What can I say? I love a challenge. I actually have figured out a bit of a rhythm, and while I’m unconvinced about the success of the project, I am learning a new technique which is never a waste of time.

In all my clumsy fiddling with the ribbed section of this cover, I must say I loved learning the cast-on. Turns out it’s actually not that hard if you’re already a fan of the long-tail cast-on, which I am. It also has one big advantage, you don’t just have to use it for double knitting. When you’re double knitting, you’re constructing two separate pieces of stockinette knitted fabric simultaneously Usually they are connected, but don’t have to be. Some knitters actually work two socks or sleeves at the same time with this technique. Cool? Yes! Awkward to work when first learning? Very! But since usually those two pieces of fabric have the wrong side of both facing “in”, so that you have a piece of double sided stockinette, you are essentially working a 1×1 ribbed pattern, working all the purls with one yarn and all the knits with another. All that means that while yes, you could just use your normal long-tail cast on, it really isn’t very elegant and doesn’t integrate with the fabric well. A ribbed two color cast on of some kind is required. Enter that tutorial on Twist Collective I linked to the other day. When I watched the little video, I had a eureka moment. Why hadn’t I figured this out before? It’s so simple! I’d heard rumors that the long-tail cast on is reversible, but I never figured it out, I probably just wasn’t trying, and was a little to lazy to care. With this cast on, you take your two strands, make a slip knot as usual and place it on the needle. Then you use the two strands as if one was your working yarn and one was the long tail. Brilliant! I’ve used this cast-on before for stranded knitting and it looks great. But this little cast on went the extra mile and incorporated the reversed long-tail cast on for the purl stitches. Something I really wish I had picked up a long time ago.

This is all very cool, but let’s just say that the awkwardness just makes it not much of a relaxing project right now. So what about the project for me?

Well, as you may recall from a month ago. I’m working on this cute little black cardi for the fall. It’s actually going really well, except for my indecisiveness. There are a couple design elements that I just keep second guessing, so I hate keep working on it when there is a possibility that I’m just going to have to rip things out again. There’s this waist band that I can’t decide if I should keep or not. I think I’ve finally decided that the answer is “no”. It looks pretty cool, but if there’s anything I can’t stand it’s an overworked knitwear design. (Ascending soap box now). We know the story… you go to the store and see all these cute sweaters, they’re super simple from a knitting technique perspective, but oh, so fashionable, and you go “wow, I could totally make that and it would look 10 times cuter”, and you’d be right. So you go home, sketch out a simple raglan sweater, or whatever it was, do a bit of math and before you know it, you’re really close to reproducing that cute sweater. But then you go… “hmm, I’d love to add a lace motif”, or “it could really use some cables” and before you know it, your design is way overworked. If you do happen to finish it, the final product is a fine tribute to your knitting skills and a bit of a detractor to your fashion sense. Knitters (me included) have this irritating habit of putting their knitting before their fashion. And that my friends, should not be. It really takes away from our skill if the final product is beautiful only to the eye of it’s creator, and seen by others as at best eccentric, and at worst downright ugly. (Ok, soapbox rant over). So all that to say, I really felt like the waist band was going up the overworked knitwear path a bit too much. I did a quick mental survey of the cute layering cardigans I’ve owned or admired, and none of them had the contemplated waistband, so that makes it a no go. So now that that’s decided I think I have some knitting to rip out.

Break out the sweet tea.

July 2, 2012 at 8:09 am Leave a comment

Overall…a Success!

I think the diaper cover was a success. Little Elsie looks darling, and I can’t help but think she looks a bit more comfortable than when she’s wearing the PUL covers.

It fits great around the legs, yet doesn’t restrict her leg movement at all.

As I mentioned yesterday, I really prefer fingering and sport weight yarn and their associated gauges on babies. It just looks more in scale with their small bodies.

You can see the shaping I did around the leg. And I got much better at picking up stitches around edges. This “seam” looks really good compared with others I’ve done in the past.

Here’s a picture of Chad wearing the cover yesterday. I actually feel like they’re more comfortable when I prop them up into a sitting position.

Here’s another shot of the leg, but I think it shows off the shaping better.

Overall, I’m declaring the project a success, with two reservations.

1) I hate the color. I used some knit picks palette I got years ago and I still have no idea why I picked out the color. But I didn’t want to waste my cute colors if the project was a failure. To be clear, the yarn worked great, and is at the perfect price point at $3.39/50g, but the color was just not my favorite.

2) The fabric is just not quite thick enough. Chad wore the diaper for about 2 hours, and even though he had wet the prefold under the cover, the cover was dry. Then at about 3 hours, it started to seep everywhere, it was actually kinda gross. So I think thicker fabric is in order.

However as I discussed earlier, I really like the scale of this fabric, so I’d rather not go up to a DK or worsted yarn. So I’m thinking I might play around with double knitting and see how that works. I’ve wanted to learn this technique for quite a while. I understand how it works conceptually but I’ve never actually tried it, as far as I can remember. After a bit of internet research I found some helpful resources to get me started:

Stitch Diva’s Double Knitting Tutorial

WIP Insanity’s Ribbing in Double Knitting Tutorial

Twist Collective Article “Introduction to Double Knitting: The four winds hat” by Alasdair Post-Quinn

We’ll see how this goes, but for now, enough blogging, time for some lunch, a quick tidy up, and some knitting.

 

June 28, 2012 at 10:58 am Leave a comment


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