Knitting, review

I am a metal needle convert

I use to swear by bamboo needles. This stems from my hatred of plastic needles. When I bought my first pair of bamboo circulars I thought my two choices were bamboo or plastic and I wanted nothing to do with plastic needles anymore.

At first my bamboo needles served me well. They were sharp and more substantial than any plastic ones I had used. So when I needed needles in a different size I naturally gravitated towards bamboo.

About a year ago that changed. I bought a interchangeable set that was made of laminated birch. My yarn slipped so gracefully over the laminated needles and the points were much sharper than my aging bamboo needles. This needle set was my gateway drug into the world of metal needles.

At Christmas time my then fiance and I were headed to Florida for a week. I had a lot of knitting I wanted to get done and I wasn’t sure that my old bamboo needles would last the entire trip. (They did! In fact, my bamboo circs are still kicking though it is clear they are not long for this world.) I did not have time to order needles off of Amazon or Knitpicks so I headed to my LYS. When the woman behind the counter asked if I wanted metal or bamboo I said metal, on a whim.

Metal needles changed my life. They are like knitting magic. Yarn glides so easily over my needles that it practically cuts the time needed to complete a project in half! Okay, not really but I really do knit faster with metal needles.

I have looked back a couple times. I’ve knit a couple projects on bamboo needles since Christmas though I’ve almost always regretted it. I am slowly increasing my collection of metal needles and that will take time but from now on metal needles will always be my preference.

Bamboo or acrylic needles still have their place. The TSA is less likely to confiscate your knitting if it’s not on metal needles. If you’re going to an event where you will have to pass through a metal detector like a concert or professional sporting event a metal alternative needle is preferable.

Knitting, review, tutorial

Sewn Bind Off

In my last post I talked about how much I hated the look of Jenny’s Super Stretchy Bind off. Lack of a better bind off option had really turned me off toe-up sock knitting. Not only is Jenny’s bind off unappealing to look at, it is so stretchy that the cuff no longer holds the sock up on the wearer’s leg. In my opinion this sliding down completely defeats the purpose of knitting a cuff for your sock in the first place.

Enter, the sewn bind off. It’s still not as aesthetically pleasing as a cast on edge but it looks way better then Jenny’s super stretchy bind off. Plus the cuff actually retains its shape, which is a definite bonus.

Tutorial 

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You need to leave a tail that is three times the width of your project. Since a sock is round you need to remember that the circumference is twice the width of your project. I left a tail that was six times as wide of the top of my sock when it was laying flat.

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After cutting the tail I thread it through my yarn needle. Yes, that needle is orange and no, I didn’t buy is with the intention of doing tutorials. I thread the needle through the first two stitches purlwise.2017-03-31 12.55.27

Next, I thread the needle through the first stitch knitwise and pulled the stitch off of my knitting needle.

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Then I just repeated the last two steps all the way around. It left a nice edge that was stretchy but not too stretchy.

I hope this post helps those of you who are looking for an alternative to the sewn bind off!

Knitting, Quick Post

My Current Works in Progress

I, like every knitter I know, catch cast-on-itis every now and again. I’d like to think that I’ve been good about new cast ons lately but it’s all relative. Here is a list of my active WIPs and their current status. Hopefully, this post will help me get my behind in gear and free some needles.

1) The Classic Oak Cardigan

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This cardigan has been on my needles the longest of all my wips. I started this cardigan in November because it was so supposed to be a wedding gift for my husband. By our wedding in January I had almost finished the first sleeve. I let the sleeve sit in my knitting basket for a couple of months before I cast on for the body.

When I cast on for the body I thought I was using a US size 7 circular needle. Turns out it was a US size 5! Luckily, my husband was in between two pattern sizes and I opted for the larger of the two sizes. The smaller needle resulted in a sweater that is going to fit him much better than I had planned. Unfortunately, this meant I had to frog the sleeve I had nearly finished.

Currently, I am less than and inch away from starting the arm hole shaping! I am so excited to be almost done with the body. I knit the cardigan all in one piece and it was almost an overwhelming amount of cables.

2) My Pull-Over

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I bought this yarn with the intention of using it for the owl cardigan from a collection of Harry Potter themed knits from Interweave but when I knit my gauge swatch the yarn was so dark it was really hard to see the stitches. I knew that if I knit a pattern with as much detail as the owl cardigan I would hate myself for using such a dark yarn. So instead this yarn became a simple pull-over. I improvised the pattern, like I usually do for simple pull-overs.

Currently, I am just below where I am going to join the arms and the body and begin the yoke shaping. I haven’t started yet because I haven’t had time to knit the arms yet. It’s a bad excuse I know but it’s the truth. Hopefully, I’ll get this finished in a reasonable amount of time.

3) Birthday Socks

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I started these Tuesday night and they are coming along fine. I don’t usually have a problem getting socks off the needles in a reasonable amount of time. There are are a few reasons for that. Socks don’t take very long. Compared to a sweater there are far less stitches involved. Also, a vanilla sock is super easy to carry around and knit while multitasking so my vanilla sock generally see more regular action than my other wips.

For this sock I am using my normal vanilla sock recipe. It’s a man sock so I used 64 stitches instead of 60 on a US size 1 needle. The yarn is turning my needles blue so I will definitely have to wash them before I gift them to get all the runniness out.

4) My Treccia Hat

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I am super excited about this hat. First of all, I have NEVER knit myself a hat before! I’ve knit a ton of hats for other people but never for myself. I also love the Treccia pattern by Michele Wang. AND this hat is knit of Voolenvine yarn!!! I love Kristen’s podcast and her hand dyed yarn is gorgeous. I’ve been trying to get my hands on a skein for ages and I finally managed to get one during her shop update a couple of weeks ago.

The hat is looking a bit stretched out because I accidentally ordered a 24″ circ instead of a 16″. I don’t know how exactly it happened my brain is just turning to mush.

Knitting, socks, tutorial

Create a Sock Recipe: Part 3- Toe-up vs. Cuff-down

One of the many decisions you will have to make when knitting your socks is whether you want to knit them toe-up or cuff-down. For me there is no clear winner here. Both methods are equally easy and each have their pros and cons.

I will say that I usually knit my socks cuff down. I have two reasons for this and they both are mainly aesthetics.

  1.  1. I really don’t like the way Jenny’s supper stretchy bind off looks and I have yet to find a bind off that looks better but is still stretchy enough for the tops of socks.
  2. 2. I like to knit a heel flat and gusset with my socks and while it is possible to do toe up I prefer the look and fit when they are knit cuff down.

Toe-up socks allow you to knit a sock that is pretty customize able in regards to size. Since you can try the sock on as you go it is pretty easy to create a sock that is exactly the right length. Another advantage to knitting toe-up socks it that there is no yarn chicken. In other words because you knit the important part of the sock first you don’t need to worry about leaving enough yarn to knit the foot. If you are someone who does not like scrap yarn laying around knitting socks toe-up might be the way to go since you can knit the leg until you run out of yarn.

Cuff-down socks are my personal favorite. I think cuff-down socks fit my feet better than toe-up socks do. I also really don’t like the way Jenny’s Super Stretchy Bind-off looks. Sorry Jenny, but I don’t find your bind-off aesthetically pleasing. Also, I think Jenny’s bind-off is a little too stretchy and does not hug my leg the way I would like. Maybe there’s a stretchy bind-off out there that doesn’t look bad but I have yet to find it.

Knitting, socks, tutorial

Knitting Socks with Magic Loop and 2 Circular Needles

Magic Loop is by far my favorite way to knit a sock. I’ve knit countless pairs of socks on magic loop and for me it is definitely the easiest, least fussy way to knit a sock. I don’t have to worry about dropping stitches off the end of the needle and there is no extra needle to lose track of.

I decided to combine the magic loop post with the 2 circs post because functionally I feel they are pretty much the same. With magic loop cast on your sock stitches then split them in half by folding the cable between the center stitches. When you have two circulars instead of folding the cable in half between the center stitches you cast half of your sock stitches on one needle and half on the second needle.

Before I get into the pros and cons of this method I have to mention that I don’t really see the utility of two circular needles outside of two at a time socks. When you’re only knitting one sock there is plenty of room on the needle for magic loop. For me adding the second needle when I am only knitting one sock just turns my project into a knotted mess. However, I can see the need for the extra space that two circs provide when knitting socks two at a time.

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Magic Loop can also be used for sweater sleeves.

Pros

1) One Needle to Rule them All

I swear there are probably a hundred different size dpns lost in my couch right now, which is part of the reason why I love knitting socks with magic loop. Because magic loop only uses one long circular needle there is no extra needle to keep track of since your one and only needle is always attached to your project.

2) Work is Easy to Manipulate

When I knit socks using 9″ circs I find it really hard  to move the stitches around. It seems like there just is’t enough cable to get the job done. With magic loop there is plenty of cable for maneuvering your knitting. I use a 40″ circ most of the time and I never feel pressed for space, even with two socks on one circ.

3) Easy on the Joints

I find that magic loop knitting is easier on my fingers and wrists that 9″ circs or dpns. But everyone is different you may find that the exact opposite is true for you.

4) Your Stitches are safe

One of my biggest complaints with 9″ circulars and dpns is that my stitches slide of the ends of the needles. I’m not an overly lose knitter either I just seem to have bad luck when it comes to keeping stitches on my needles.

5) There are Limited Pattern Breaks

With magic or two circs you sock stitches are split in half so there are only two pattern breaks. Since the patterns on sock are often organized so that the sole stitches are independent from the instep stitches this pattern break is pretty low fuss. However when you knit socks with dpns you can wind up with some really strange pattern breaks.

Cons

*I really tried to come up with a good list of cons for this sock knitting method but it is my favorite and I am a little biased.

1) Tangles

When I put my magic loop socks in my bag the needle’s cable usually gets tangled with my yarn. Normally it’s not a big deal and it takes a couple seconds to fix but if you really hate tangles this might not be the method for you.

2) Laddering

Because your stitches are split in half you do end up with some laddering. I don’t really mind this because they block out. If you don’t block you socks and you feel like laddering is public enemy number one you should probably knit your socks on 9″ circs.

 

Knitting

Knitting Socks on dpns

From what I gather knitting socks on dpns seems to be the tried and true, old fashion method of knitting socks. That’s not to say that there is something inherently bad or outdated with knitting socks on dpns. For many knitters dpns are their sock knitting go to needle choice.

If I were knitting a sock and I had to pick between a 9 in circ and dpns I would go for the dpns every time. I just find knitting on dpns to be more enjoyable than knitting with a 9 in circ, particularly because dpns are a lot easier on my joints.

I feel the most effective way to evaluate the different needle types is to compare and contrast them. So here is my list of pros and cons of dpns compared to the other sock knitting needle options.

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Pros

1) Less Tangles

When knitting socks with dpns there are no cables to tangle with your yarn, like there is with magic loop.If you’re someone who is on the go and throwing their knitting in their bag a lot this is probably very appealing.

2) Easy on the Joints

I find knitting on 9 in circs to be hard on my fingers and wrists but dpn knitting is a breeze in this regard.

Cons

1) Dpns are Heavier than Magic Loop

I find that dpns are noticeably heavier than magic loop. If  you are someone with sensitive hands your might find dpns a little more taxing than magic loop because of the added weight.

2) Odd Pattern Breaks

Because the stitches are split onto three and sometimes four needles this can lead to some odd pattern breaks. If you’re knitting a sock loaded with cables than you might want to opt for a different needle choice.

3) Laddering

I mentioned in my post about magic loop that I don’t think laddering is that big of a deal since it blocks out.