Double the Fun

The 2014 Winter Games have come and gone, and once again I participated in the Ravellenic Games on Ravelry. I’ve joined in during previous Olympics, but never finished the projects I chose to work on. This time I decided to focus on learning a new knitting technique – double-knitting. I’ve been wanting to try this for a long time, but just never made the time to do so. I chose two simple patterns, and made two pot holders/trivets out of two colours of worsted-weight cotton yarn.

DK Pot Holders

Double-knitting is a type of colourwork in which both sides of the finished product are right sides, and the two colours are reversed on each side. When knitting, you work in pairs of stitches, and knit with one colour for the side facing you, and purl with the other for the side facing away.

The first pattern I chose was TPHPE, by Heather Zoppetti. It’s a pretty snowflake design. I used some cotton yarn that had been in my stash for a few years.

Snowflake pot holder side 1

Snowflake pot holder side 2

Before starting, I watched some videos on youtube to learn how to work in double-knitting. I found a couple of good ones by Alasdair Post-Quinn, author of the book Extreme Double-Knitting, that he made to go with an article in the Winter 2009 issue of Twist Collective. One is for casting on for double-knitting, and another is for double-knitting. The cast on method is a variation of the long tail cast on that alternates between the two colours of yarn. I started by making a slip knot holding both yarns together, but I didn’t put the slip knot on the needle. Instead, I held it below and next to the needle while casting on the stitches. Once the stitches were cast on I undid the slip knot, so that it was not a part of the cast on edge. Another thing of note was this: although I normally do a long-tail cast on over two needles held together, for this technique I did it over a single needle. This helped the cast on edge remain tidy once the knitting started.

cast on edge

Working in double-knitting was a bit challenging because I knit in the English style (holding the yarns in my right hand), and most of the videos I watched showed knitters working in the Continental style (holding the yarns in the left hand). I found that wrangling the two yarns was tricky. I really found myself wishing that I owned a yarn stranding guide for my right index finger, to keep the two yarns where I wanted them.

Snowflake--progress-c_04

The edges of a double-knit project require a bit of special care in order to keep the two sides firmly together. In this pattern, that was accomplished by starting each row by slipping the first two stitches together knit-wise, and ending the row by purling the last two stitches together. This gave a very nice braided appearance to the side edges. The only downside to this technique was that the sides tended to be pulled a bit shorter than the body of the pot holder. That was mostly fixed by stretching the side edges during blocking .

side edge

To bind off I used a regular knitted bind off, working in the same manner as the double-knitting: knit a stitch with the front-facing colour, bring yarn to front and purl a stitch with the back-facing colour, then pass the first stitch on the right-hand needle over the second stitch (one stitch remains on needle). Bring yarn to back and knit the next stitch, then pass the first stitch over it. This was repeated until one stitch remained on the right-hand needle. Then both yarns are pulled through the loop of the last stitch to finish it off.

bind off edge

I finished this pot holder in a week, so with time remaining in the Olympic schedule I started a second one. The pattern I chose next was Coffee and Tea DK Pot Holders, by Elizabeth Evans.

Coffee Cup pot holder side 1

Coffee Cup pot holder side 2

I used the same cast on and bind off that I used for the first pot holder. For the side edges of this one I didn’t do anything special other than being sure to bring the yarn of the first knit stitch under and around the other yarn so that they were twisted together the same way each time. The side edges have a different appearance because of this – still tidy but without the braided look.

side edge 1

side edge 2

This was a fun technique to learn. I made some mistakes along the way that required tinking back. It took a bit of practice to remember the direction in which to read the chart for each row of knitting, and which chart colour was background and which was foreground for each side. Reading the knitting took some practice, too, because of the dual nature of double-knitting. But after two pot holders I feel confident that I could tackle something bigger and more complex.

The details:

The Snowflake pattern is TPHPE, by Heather Zoppetti

The Coffee cup pattern is Coffee and Tea DK Pot Holders, by Elizabeth Evans

The blue yarn is S.R. Kertzer CoolSpun Cotton Solid in colour 9026 light blue (a worsted weight yarn that is no longer available)

The beige yarn is Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Solids in colour 00085 (a worsted weight yarn)

Amount used:

The snowflake pot holder used about 23 g of each colour of yarn. The finished pot holder weighs 46 g.

The coffee cup pot holder used about 27 g of each colour of yarn. The finished pot holder weighs 53 g.

needles used for both: 4 mm (US 6) straight needles

Where Has the Summer Gone?

So, the sewing room sorting and decluttering that I wrote about in my last post have been continuing since then. It’s almost finished now, with just a few things left to sort through. I’ve got most things back in the room, or in alternative storage spots, and I’m very happy with how it has worked out so far. I’ll post an update with photos when it’s all finished.

In the meantime, I have been doing all sorts of things. I finished knitting a pair of socks:

stripey-blotchy-socks_0007

I participated once again in the Tour de Fleece. I finished spinning the lovely blue Polwarth that I had started spinning in 2011’s Tour, and made some good progress on the Merino/Tencel blend.

TDF12-finish-line_03

Shortly after the Tour ended, the Ravellenic Games started on Ravelry. I joined the team from the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group, and entered into the WIPs Wrestling event. The WIP I chose to wrestle was a shawl I’d started way back in September of 2009 (details below). I had become so frustrated with trying to learn how to knit nupps that I’d put it away for years. I didn’t manage to finish it before the end of the closing ceremonies of the London Olympic Games, but I did make a lot of progress and hope to finish it soon.

Triangular-Summer-Shawl_05

In addition to these crafty things, I also did a lot of very tiring garden work, and spent some time helping my husband with a large project to fix up the garage.

Now I find myself itching to get back to quilting. I have a number of projects on the go, both traditional and arty, that I hope to get back to soon. I also have some ideas for new things I’d like to start on. As the summer winds down and fall approaches, my thoughts turn to getting back to a normal routine, including more creative time (and more blogging!).

Some details on the above projects:

Stripy Blotchy Socks:

Pattern: These are simple socks in stockinette, with an afterthought heel that I took from the Crystal Socklet pattern in the Spring and Summer 2012 issue of Knitty. It’s the first time I’ve knit an afterthought heel, which is worked after the main sock is finished. The benefit of knitting the sock this way is that the stripes in the self-striping yarn are not interrupted by working a typical heel as the sock is being knit. I like the crystal heel a lot, and will definitely use it again. It offers the extra room I seem to need to allow for my high instep.

Yarn: On Your Toes 4 Ply with Aloe Vera, by S.R. Kertzer (a self-striping fingering weight yarn)

Needle size: 2.25 mm

Spinning:

Polwarth: 115g of hand-dyed roving from Sheep and Spindle, which yielded about 157 m of 2-ply at about a sport weight.

Merino/Tencel: 113g of hand-dyed roving from Fiber Optic Yarns, in colourway Ruby Slippers Batik.

Triangular Summer Shawl:

Pattern: Triangular Summer Shawl, by Nancy Bush, from Knitted Lace of Estonia. More about nupps here. YouTube video with tips on knitting nupps here.

Yarn: Sliver Moon Farm lace weight merino in colourway Eh, What?

Needle size: 3.5 mm

Tour de Fleece 2011: The Slacker Version

I did the Tour de Fleece last year for the first time, and spun pretty much every day. In the process I managed to give myself a delightful case of tendonitis in my right elbow that lasted well into the winter (much credit for that goes to endless rounds of snow shovelling). I hadn’t touched my spindles since then. I was going to ignore the Tour this year, but then I gave in to peer pressure from my fellow spinners in the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group group on Ravelry and joined Team Bacon Cakewaffle once again.

My primary goals this time around are to get back into spinning, and not injure myself. Also, to eat bacon. So far I have succeeded on all points. I’m not spinning every day, but try to pick up a spindle and do a bit here and there when I can.

This photo shows my progress after my first day of spinning, which was technically Day 3 of the Tour. On the left is some hand-dyed blue Polwarth from Sheep and Spindle , on a small Bosworth spindle. On the right is a purple 50/50 Superwash Merino and Tencel blend from Fiber Optic Yarns that I bought last year at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. The colour is called Ruby Slippers BATIK. It’s on a Jesh spindle.

Blue Polwarth and Purple Merino/tencel blend

Today is Day 16 of the Tour. Since the above photo was taken, I’ve done a little spinning here and there – at home, at the local Timmie’s, and even at my quilt group meeting (they are very tolerant of my lack of quilting in their presence). Here is how far I’ve gotten:

Blue Polwarth, TDF day 16

I have 115 grams of this fibre. I think I’ve used up about a quarter of it. So far it’s been a dream to spin. I am planning a 2-ply that I suspect will end up as a lace weight, or a light fingering weight. I hope it ends up being enough for a small shawl.