Double knitting is something I had never tried before, last weekend one of the very talented knitters in my Knitters Guild group ran a workshop on it so I had the chance to learn how to do it.
In double knitting you are knitting a double thickness of fabric. The way that you switch your yarns and stitches results in only the purl stitches (smooth looking stitches) showing on the outside of your work. It sounds complicated to get your head around and you cast on with 2 strands of yarn but treat them as one stitch which adds to the confusion. After the first few rows it starts to make sense. You can use this technique to make each side of the fabric a different colour the entire piece or you can twist your yarn colours around to form patterns within the piece. The result in a negative image of the pattern on the reverse side of the piece. In our workshop we worked off a chart to create a picture of a house. I only got the first half dozen or so rows done but I can see the picture starting to develop.
Prior to the workshop I had seen items done with the negative image in reverse and I really liked it but I had no idea what it was called or how to do it. I really like double knitting now that I have learnt how to do it. To be honest I am not going to finish the house, I used scrap yarn and will take it off my needles and return it to my scrap yarn bag. I do want to try this technique on a dishcloth or maybe get some 8 or 12 ply wool and make a hot pad trivet with it for the kitchen. It is very slow technique to work up in that you have to keep changing the yarn colours between your fingers and switching between knit and purl stitches. You have to really concrete on what you are doing so you don’t make a mistake in your pattern which means no auto knitting. I guess depending on the thickness of the yarn you use and how long you want to spend doing it you could make clothing other than scarves with the technique. I don’t think I would even have the attention span to do a scarf in it, a trivet I can handle.
I have recently discovered Noro Tokonatsu yarn, it is a mixture of silk, cotton and viscose. It was love at first touch as it is so soft. I had no idea what I would make so I brought 3 balls of light blue colour which is Shade 7 from Morris and Sons.
I went on Ravelry to have a look for patterns. If you haven’t heard of Ravelry and you like to knit or crochet I urge you to go check it out. Ravelry is like a combination of Pinterest and Pattern Review but for yarn based projects. You can find lots of patterns and links for any yarn project you can think of. I did a search of Tokonatsu and found this wonderful little pattern by Doris & Wilfred designs that just happened to be made in the shade colour I had.
This is a really great pattern to make. I have never followed a 8 row repeat of a pattern before which is how this cowl is made but it was really easy to do. This pattern only uses stocking stitch (one row knit, one row purl) To make the elongated pattern you wrap the yarn around the needle one row then drop all the stitches the next row. I have never done anything like this before but it was very simple.
To make it easier for myself I actually wrote out the instructions for each row so at a quick glance I could see what I needed to do. I was using a clicker to keep track of my rows but I also kept a written tally. I added an extra 2½ pattern repeats to what the pattern says to do. When I finished the in total 9 pattern repeats the pattern said to knit it just wasn’t long enough for me so I added the extra on. Confession I did have a minor brain snap on my about 5th or 6th last row and dropped the loops doing the wrong stitch but you don’t even notice it. I’d put the cowl down and forgot to click and tally down my row so when I picked it up again my row count didn’t match what I needed to do. To join the ends to make it circular I did a single crochet stitch seam.
This pattern only uses a single 50g ball of yarn. Even with the extra rows I added I still only just used the one. When I brought the yarn the staff from Morris and Sons said I could return any yarn I didn’t use so I’m going to take the remain 2 balls back and swap it for other colours.
In March I have decided it is time to pull out my crocheted Sunny Log Cabin squares and join them all up to create the blanket I never finished last year. The first thing I needed to do is block them. I read the instructions on how to determine what size I need to make my squares, got out the foam play mat tiles I brought last year to use as my blocking tiles and then came into problems….
- The tiles I brought were too small. An individual tile just wasn’t big enough
- The tiles are made up of puzzle pieces so when you moved them the centres fall out. They needed to placed with something behind them to keep them solid
The tiles were only about 28cm x 28cm and the block size I am making is 32cm x 32cm. To get the size to block one square I would need to join 4 together using these tiles but as I mentioned they are a puzzle with centre pieces that fall out so you can’t move them around. I would need to leave them in place on my craft table and only do limited amounts at a time. It wasn’t practical to use so I decided to give the tiles away to a friend so they weren’t wasted.
By chance the day I went to meet up with my friend for coffee and to give her the tiles I popped into K-Mart and found these large foam tiles that you use for camping. Each tile is 46cm x 46cm so I can easily block a square on each one. There was 4 tiles in the pack and it only cost $12, here is a hint I then saw the same size foam mats at a large known sports store for $69 for a set of 4. I’m glad I checked K-Mart first. Just like the original ones I brought you can join them together to make any size you want. Now I should be able to block my squares as well as any scarves I make. If by chance I make an item that is very big I can always buy another set and join them together, although anything that is very large I just tend to stretch out over the bed and put the steam over it.
Ok plan for this weekend is to get in and block my squares.
Last year I brought myself a Boye electronic yarn winder. Until recently it had been sitting under my bed unopened. I had to frog back a crochet project so I decided to break it out of the box to re-wind the ball.
So as the name suggests this plugs into the wall and does all the manual winding of the yarn to create the yarn cake for you. I found this great YouTube clip on how to use it. I first tried it out on the ball of Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton I was frogging back. Bendigo Woollen Mills balls / skeins are 200g so they are quite large. It did handle it but towards the end it struggled as the yarn cake got larger and larger. The machine slowed down and I had to help it a bit. I put a photo up online and a friend commented that cotton can be hard to work into a ball.
In the end I decided to cut the yarn and make a second cake. I haven’t weighed the yarns to see how much is in each cake. A yarn cake is the description given to balls of yarn when they are wound like this. They allow you to use the centre pull method when your working with your yarn so the ball / cake doesn’t go jumping around the table. I did use the large cake for a project after this and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t a fan of the centre pull method on such a large ball. The yarn is taken from the inside of the ball out. The cake is starting to collapse and I kept getting yarn spurts where entire chunks were coming out. I’m not sure if it was due to the size of the cake. I guess next time I use one I will see.
The second lot of yarn I tried out was smaller 50g ball. It was a cotton mixture. The machine easily made it into a cake without effort. It took a matter of minutes to wind it into the cake shape. I used this cake on my yarn spindle using the regular method of using the yarn from the outside and I had no trouble with it all.
Now that I know the machine isn’t as scary as it looks I’m going to be using it more. The machine is easy to use. I had it placed on my cutting table and it suctioned on well to it and didn’t move (there is a giant suction cap on the underside of it) I want to make all my skeins into cakes now. I’m going to try it again on the cotton. I might make a project with the smaller black cotton cake to see how it goes with the centre pull method. I like the flatter shape that the yarn cake has. It would be great for stacking your yarn if that is how you store your stuff.
Corner to corner crochet (C2C) was a crochet stitch that always fascinated me but it looked some complicated when you read the instructions for it that I never gave it a try. I have mentioned before I am a visual leaner so I watched a couple of YouTube clips and found it much easier once I saw the stitch in action. Of all the clips I saw I found the Bella Coco C2C clip the most useful. She uses UK terms which is what I am most familiar with. She goes through in detail several times how to increase and decrease the stitches and also how to finish off the ends. Early Christmas morning I decided it was time to learn the stitch so I set myself up in front of YouTube with crochet hook and yarn in hand and began a simple dishcloth, within a few rows I already knew the perfect project for this new stitch.
I had 8 balls of pinks leftover from a project I started last year that is a WIP (work in progress) I knew I wouldn’t need these excess yarns so I decided to turn them into this blanket. I had no intended size for this blanket I just increased until I had used up half the balls (4 balls) than decreased it to use the remaining balls. I didn’t bother with a border as I want the stitches to be the focus. The yarn is an acrylic Stylecraft Aran. It is a little bit thicker than I normally work with but it is so soft and squishy. The finished sizes measures 40″ x 40″
I am loving C2C it works up so quickly and in these colours is so striking. Geometric designs appeal to me and I love the look of this. Excluding weaving in the ends this took me about a month.
A big thank you to VP Quilter from Instagram who inspired me to name this blanket.
My nieces watched me work on this on Christmas day so this will go to them, they all love pink so this is perfect for their lounge room.
Viking knitting was a concept I had never heard of but when the Knitter’s Guild NSW advertised they were doing a workshop on it saying you would knit with wire and make a bracelet I thought it sounded interesting so I decided to do the workshop.
The workshop was run by Angharad Rixon, she is textile historian who has taught both in Australia and overseas. She was a fantastic teacher so if you ever get the chance to do a workshop with her I urge you too. She is very patient and helpful. The workshop was broken into 2 parts – the morning she taught us 2 basic stitches and in the afternoon we made our real piece.
To me viking knitting is more like a weaving than knitting. You don’t use knitting needles to make up your piece instead you use a piece of dowl that you attach anchor wire to and weave you work through on that. It is almost like a loom. The stitches we were taught was single knit and double knit.
In the single knit you worked your piece up by placing your wire through the stitches on the row above to create your links. We started with 4 links and worked our way down the dowl. Just like regular knitting you can accidently skip stitches which is what I did as well as many of the others in the class. If you skip a stitch you then go down to 3 links. We all seemed to have the same problem and that was getting our work messed up when we came to working over where we joined the wire. You work with a piece of wire about the length of your arm so you have to add in new pieces numerous times to make your item. Once we got our piece to 10cm long we removed it from the dowl and did the magic. The magic is that you pull your piece through a series of holes in a piece of wood starting at 10mm and going down in size. Each hole you go through stretches out your work and evens out the links. Once you have run it through the holes your final piece all comes together and it looks neater even if you haven’t done such a neat job in creating it. After we performed the magic we measured our piece again and noted down how long it now was and what size equipment we used (dowl size, wire gauge, how many links we started with) This was like our test swatch.
The double knit is a little bit more tricky. You work the wire on the stitch 2 rows above. The work is more dense as there is less gaps as you are working over the rows. We again made a 10cm test swatch and again many of us skipped a stitch. Just like regular knitting tension plays a bit part. I’m a tight knitter and crocheter and turns out I’m a tight viking knitter too. You need to relax and leave your work fairly loose so that you can see easily see the stitches and work into the rows. I skipped a stitch making the double and Angharad actually had frog it back (yes you can frog in viking knitting) to start me off again. After that I got the hang of it and didn’t get so confused working over my joins. I think I just needed to relax and once I did it became easier. You are meant to do your stitches in a single smooth movement each time. It places less stress on the wire if you can keep your movement fluid like and not handle the wire too much. Once I got into that rhythm I was fine.
In the afternoon we worked on our bracelets. We used a silver or copper wire which was a thinner wire than our test pieces. To get us back into the rhythm we all started on some of the coloured wire we worked with in the morning than changed to the thinner wire after that. We were supposed to make the bracelets in double knit but could do single knit if we wanted. I chose the single knit as I wanted to get the hang of it and actually finish a piece in the time frame we had. On the bracelet I had no trouble with my joins, I started with 5 links and finished with 5 links so I never skipped a stitch. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. We were supposed to cut the colour wire off once we finished but I opted to leave mine on as my bracelet was long enough with it on and I wanted to see how we finish the actual piece. Blue and silver I’m happy to have a bracelet like that. When I left the workshop the only thing I needed to do on my bracelet was stitch the bracelet together and glue over the cover. Sewing the end closed with wire was an interesting concept, it took me a few minutes to get used to my wire thread but then I got the feel of it and was able to thread it through easier. I squeezed the area narrow until the cover fitted over it then applied E6000 glue to it.
The workshop was fantastic. I really enjoyed it. It was fun to work with wire. I’d love to do viking knitting again. It is technique I would use. I already have ideas running through my head. I need to make a wood magic board to run my pieces through and I already have ideas on how I’m going to make it.
This year my department at work is collecting for the Share The Dignity “Its In The Bag” campaign. The idea is to get an old handbag (or purchase one from a charity shop) and fill the bag with items that a woman in crisis accommodation or who is homeless might need. I crocheted these facecloths to go inside the different bags. Someone else donated cakes of soap so together they will put in a few of the bags. These took me no time at all to whip up, crochet in front of the tv. I like that I can use my crochet skills (even if they are just basic) to give a little happiness to someone in need. I think this is a wonderful campaign and I’m honoured to be able to contribute to it in a small way.