Friday, September 21, 2007

conquering techniques; the perfect green; party in the corner

I figured it out!

I wasn't happy with the 2-circ technique of knitting in the round because I found that I'd get insanely tight stitches at the end of a needle. That pesky problem was caused by the yarn getting pulled too tightly around the cord of that circular as I started to knit on the next needle. It completely ruined the technique for me, and I was avoiding it until last week.

I ended up buying 2 3.25 mm circular needles last Saturday because I'm stupid. Or a klutz. Or perhaps both. This past Spring I spent part of my lunch hour going to a local fabric store that stocks some knitting supplies to pick up DPNs for the Autumn Color Cardigan sleeves. I knew they carried Inox needles, and I thought that the tips on them may be similar enough to the tips on the circ. I used for the sweater body that I wouldn't have gauge issues. (The tips on my Clover DPNs were way too blunt.) I brought the circ I'd used for the body to compare before I purchased. On my walk home from the store, with my new DPNs in hand, I lost the circ. It must have just dropped from my hands on my walk back to work, never to be seen again. The time is drawing near for me to attach the sleeves to the body and knit the yoke, and I needed to replace my needles.

So I sat with the sleeve in my lap, and 2 new circs next to me, and decided to try the 2 circ technique again. I don't mind DPNs, but it's rather annoying to have to shift stitches around every so often because of the imbalance caused by the increases on needles 1 and 4. It was a good move, because I figured out a solution to my problem:


Instead of pulling the needle I just finished so that the stitches sit on the cord, I found that I was able to just scootch the stitches down a bit, so the last stitches on the needle still sit on the actual needle. When I knit the first stitches on the next needle, the last stitches on that previous needle get tightened up around the needle instead of the cord. Perfection! It only works if you scoot those stitches down, so you have some flexibility in manipulating that old needle, so it's closer to parallel with the new needle. Otherwise you'd trade too-tight stitches with some serious laddering. I'm so excited that I found a way for this technique to work for me that I want to use it more often. I do like the rhythm of DPNs, but there are situations where 2 circs are better, I think. Stranded colorwork is one, and socks with large pattern repeats (especially lace and cables) is another.

AC cardigan sleeve 2 innards

I'm about 40 rows from the end of the second sleeve. (That's probably in the ballpark of 10 hours of knitting.) I was so ready to finish this sweater before casting on for any major new projects. The sleeve is getting a bit tedious, but I'm so close to the really interesting yoke shaping (set in sleeves in the round!), and wanted to get there as soon as possible. New techniques are to exciting! Unfortunately, I found myself really tensing up in the shoulders and neck as I was knitting a few days ago, and decided that shooting pains were a sign that I should put the sweater down. I didn't feel tense while knitting it, so I'm not sure what was going on. My current theory is that the frequent spit splicing (every 2-3 rounds) is the culprit, because I really dig in with the friction to make sure my yarn doesn't break at the joins as I'm working with it. Ah, well. This sweater wants to take forever to knit, and it will get its wish. A few hours a week, and it should be done before the winter's over, at any rate.

To soothe my painful shoulders I cast on for something relatively easy and relaxing.

Anniversary Socks

Nancy Bush's Anniversary Socks from Favorite Socks. I'm using one of the Skeins of Lisa Souza Merino Sock I bought and didn't use for my sock design. I am completely enchanted with this color (Sage), and tried to get as accurate a photo as I could. It was quite hard, because the camera wanted to capture it as grey. As you can see by my glowing pink fingers in that photo, some major adjusting had to take place to get the yarn to look right. It's still not quite perfect, as it's a touch lighter and maybe a tiny bit less blue in real life. If any of you know which color of Cascade 220 comes closest to this yarn, please let me know! I'm searching for a green very much like this (maybe a tiny bit lighter) for one of two sweaters I want to knit for myself this winter, and my LYS doesn't carry very many shades for me to check out in person.

This yarn is an absolute pleasure to work with. I swatched for my sock design with the pink, and felt that the yarn was too loose and floppy. The sage green feels a bit sturdier, though I'm not sure if it's a real difference or all in my head. Just look at how gorgeous this fabric is:

Anniversary Sock fabric

The color is completely washed out, but I still love the photo. And these socks are a great relaxation project. They're fairly simple, but interesting (and beautiful!) enough to keep me going. I was planning to just knit to the letter of the pattern, but I ended up making an alteration from the get-go. The first round of the pattern is purled, and I didn't like how my cast on edge looked with that. I cast on again (German Twisted), purled back, then joined in the round. That left me with the purl side of the cast on on the public side of the sock, which I think works a lot better. I actually taught myself how to do the long tail cast on purlwise (the way you probably learned is knitwise), so I could do a neater cast on for ribbing. (Part of my striving for absolute perfection in the sock pattern I submitted to Knitty.) I wanted to use German Twisted for this sock, for the extra bit of elasticity, but haven't yet figured out how to reverse it so it goes purlwise. I'm sure I can, but with all those extra twists, I was too lazy to work it out. Maybe I will before I cast on for the second sock.

Before I end this post I want to respond to a couple of comments from previous posts. Jamie asked for a clarification on my Scroll Lace Socks pattern. She wanted to know if there were "plain" rows every other row that I didn't chart out. The answer is no -- the chart is as written. There are yarnovers and decreases on every row. Compare those socks to Brenda Dayne's Brother Amos socks to see the difference that makes. The stitch pattern she used does have "plain" rows every other row, and while the patterned rows are not identical to the patterned rows in the Scroll Lace socks, they are similar. You get a much different effect with the plain rows than you do without them.

Pamela and I exchanged a few emails about the Montse Stanley book. She is totally right in pointing out that Ms. Stanley is quite opinionated. Another reason the book may be more suited to someone who isn't first learning, and who already has more opinions of their own, I suppose. While Pamela stands in the corner being all ashamed about being a slow English knitter, I'll stand in the other corner because Ms. Stanley doesn't approve of how seldom I use tubular cast ons and bind offs. We should be ashamed of ourselves! (But secretly, I've got brownies in the oven, fresh apple cider in the fridge, and am planning a party for knitters who don't knit exactly like Monse Stanley. It will be a blast! Join us! In addition to the above two offenses, you can also gain entry if you have knit yarnover buttonholes. I can hear the children screaming in horror already...)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I come? I knit entire sweaters in the round.

9/22/2007 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha, that's perfect with the two circulars. I had the same problem with that method, and had given it up because of it (plus I hate the pulling and pulling of the circs all the time).

9/22/2007 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yarnover buttonholes? The HORRAH! *faints* I've never, ever tried a tubular cast-on. I haven't the foggiest notion how to begin such a thing, so I'll bring the brandy to spike the cider. :)

9/22/2007 1:12 PM  
Blogger pamela wynne said...

See, I do love me a tubular bind-off. I'd wager we've all got a good mix of the laid-back and the meticulous in us when it comes to knitting. This is why it's good to supplement the Stanley book with some good old Elizabeth Zimmermann. :)

Also, I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT YOUR SWEATER! Have you used magic loop much? I use it often, and was wondering if there are dis/advantages compared with 2 circs.

9/22/2007 3:04 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Thanks for posting your new found technique for tension issues whilst knitting with two circs!

The Anniversary Socks are on my list, too. I'll keep an eye on yours...........

9/23/2007 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Rebekkah,

Ok - after a little investigation, I believe that the closest Cascade 220 to the Lisa Souza colour is Shade 9247.



9/24/2007 12:14 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Hmm... sore shoulders, Mum get those too from knitting. Hope yours are feeling better by now.

9/25/2007 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear you try to explain your spit splicing injury to a physical therapist.

I love those anniversary socks! I have them on my very short list of upcoming sock patterns.

9/29/2007 11:20 AM  

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