Knitting, crafting, cooking, and motherhood… trying to do it all!

Posts tagged ‘DPNs’

Hats! Hats! Hats!

One of the greatest things about cold weather (one of the ONLY great things about cold weather) is the chance to wear the things you’ve been knitting all year. Although my boys have some hats I crocheted for them years ago, I figured they needed to upgrade to some knit hats and it gave me a chance to learn more about hat construction. Thus became my mission… to knit hats for the family!

At the end of October I had knit plenty of things for my kids, but hadn’t made much for me. I had bought some Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (colorway ‘Thistle’) to knit Jared Flood’s Laurel hat. I thought, “It’s small, I should be able to finish in a night.” Ha! The pattern is lovely and the chart was easy to read, but I wasn’t as quick as I dreamed I was. I finished in about three days, but long hours were put in during that time. It was a great learning experience, but I kept making small mistakes and needed to tink back or ladder down to fix the problems. In the end, the result was beautiful. I love my new hat and I love that I took the time to make something for myself!

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As the cold winds of December blew in, I started working on a hat for my baby. I wanted to try knitting Tin Can Knits’ Clayoquot cardigan with colorwork (I had knit this pattern without the colorwork here), but I thought I would start with the Clayoquot Toque. I knit this one in less than a day. It’s super cute, but I do wish it was just a bit larger. I try to make things to last more than a couple months, but with growing boys that’s tough to do! This hat looks nice and is quite durable knit in Cascade 220 Superwash.

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Moving on, I wanted to try out a pattern from the Tin Can Knits book Pacific Knits, which I had recently received. I used some lovely Dream in Color Classy yarn (colorway ‘Peacock Shadow’). The pattern is Sitka Spruce, and uses twisted stitches to create an awesome geometric pattern. This one was not for my boys, though. This one was a gift for a special friend who has recently moved to a much colder place. I figured the warm wool would be perfect for those snowy days in Buffalo, NY. This one also turned out a little shorter than I wanted, but after blocking it was closer to the correct size. The tonal yarn looks amazing with all those twisted stitches!

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Three days before celebrating Christmas, I decided to make a hat for my husband using more Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (colorway ‘Birdbook’). I chose Apple Pie— another TCK pattern. This one features a ribbed doubled brim. Although it was tedious to knit the extra length of the doubled brim, I think it will be super warm. All the cabling within this hat took a long time, but I love the results. I love how it looks on me, so it was almost a disappointment when my husband loved it and wanted to wear it! (Ha! Just kidding!) That doubled brim was a foreshadowing of a future project… a project that made the hat brim seem like nothing at all (more details to come!).  Here is the hat modeled by Yours Truly.

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Next up was a hat for my second son, Adrian. I decided to do yet another TCK pattern (I own two of their books, of course I’m going to knit their patterns!)– Stovetop. This uses moss stitch to create an interesting texture and some simple cables along a main panel. The crowning glory, in my opinion, is the pompom on top. I knit this one with some leftover Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash (colorway ‘Primavera’) and I am SO happy with how it turned out. Although it was created for Adrian, my third son Jonathan has adopted it as his own and looks incredibly cute in it. Here it is modeled on Adrian:

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Dying to try more simple colorwork, I found The Easy Ombre Slouch Hat, by Paul S. Neary, a free pattern on Ravelry. I changed the pattern quite a bit (detailed on my project page), but it was exactly what I was looking for. I used the same Plymouth Merino Superwash used in Adrian’s hat, paired with some blue yarn of the same brand. This design also inspired me to design a sweater with a similar effect. I loved the results, but my oldest son Roman has been crocheting hats for himself, so this one doesn’t get much use.

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One final hat to add to the post… another one that was intended for me! Although the Laurel hat I made at the beginning of this post is great for cooler weather, I wanted one that could withstand heavy snows (not that we’ve had any this year). I used, you guessed it, a TCK pattern. This one is called Tofino Surfer and is from their book Pacific Knits. I had some trouble finding yarn to get the recommended gauge. I settled on some Cascade 128 and used a size 9 needle. The hat turned out great with one exception. Because I used a smaller needle size, the tighter stitches caused it to stick up straight instead of slouching. As I blocked it I stretched the wool, which helped a lot, although it does require a little push to make it slouch. No modeled pic for this one:

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What are your favorite hat patterns? The cold weather isn’t through yet… I could always knit another!

Jogless Stripes and More Baby Accessories

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I finished the blue ribbed hat, but wanted something a little cuter for my new little guy, and also wanted to challenge myself with stripes.  I had learned through one of the YouTube videos I watched that you had to do something special to create stripes while knitting in the round.  I did not remember the technique, but did remember that it wasn’t too complicated.  I found a pattern through ravelry that had some of the basic shaping of the hat I wanted, but it used a needle size that I didn’t have and I wanted to make changes to the pattern anyway.

I used my previous knowledge of hat making (from both knit and crochet– I have crocheted over 100 hats in the past couple years) and the ideas in the ravelry pattern to design my own knit hat pattern.  I once again utilized the Magic Loop, which has become one of my favorite knitting techniques.  I also utilized YouTube videos to create jogless stripes on this little boy’s hat.  While I can’t explain how to do a jogless stripe, I can tell you that it’s not hard.  In fact, the hardest part is remembering to do it when you start the second row of a new color.  This pattern also used PSSO, which is a techinque involving Passing Slipped Stitch(es) Over a knit stitch.  I slipped the stitches purlwise, but learned in subsequent hats that it worked better to slip them knitwise.  The PSSO technique can be seen in the raised stitches in the picture below.

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The pattern I created ended up with an adorable little star pattern on the top.  I made some adjustments to my own pattern, and in the next few weeks created hats for two different friends’ baby showers.  One couple is Jamaican, so I used the colors of the Jamaican flag.  The other couple are both professors at Indiana University, so I used the IU Hoosier colors of crimson and cream.  Once again, I need to write up my version of the pattern because I plan to use this for many baby showers to come!

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After creating the jogless stripes of the baby hat and creating my own newborn hat pattern, I decided to try it with socks.  I had already made a few adjustments to the baby sock pattern I had previously used, but now I wanted to change it completely and make it my own.  I still used the worsted weight yarn and the size four DPNs, but now I wanted to continue the ribbed pattern all the way down the heel and use my newly-learned skill to add jogless stripes and colored toes to the socks.  It took a little bit of work to figure out the right number of rows/stitches to achieve what I wanted, but I was SO happy with the results.

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As you can see, one of the colored toes ended up longer than the other, and there are a few other minor differences.  This is because I was more focused on improving my own pattern rather than making them identical.  I love the green and blue cotton yarns, and look forward to mixing and matching these socks with the blue baby sweater and the two different baby hats.  Now to make another baby sweater in the green…

Newborn Hat and the Magic Loop Method

To complete a “going home from the hospital” ensemble for my newborn, I wanted to make a knit hat to match the sweater and socks.  For my last baby born (Jonathan), I had brought along an adorable crocheted hat for him to wear instead of the standard pink and blue striped hat they put on the babies (see pic below with Adrian holding Jonathan).  One of the nurses commented that, “these hats that Grandma makes are cute, but they’re just not warm enough for these new babies,” and promptly switched out my handmade creation for the hospital hat.  At the time, I was too worried about the fact that I was letting my baby’s head freeze to be offended.  This time, however, I decided to come to the hospital with a snug little KNIT hat.  Hopefully it’s acceptable to the nursing staff!

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I kept the same worsted weight cotton yarn and found a perfectly simple newborn hat pattern through ravelry.  The Little Boy Blue Ribbed Baby Hat was just what I wanted.  I could use the same blue yarn as I had used for the hat and sweater and by being created with lots of ribbing, it would be warm, stretchy, and comfortable.  Because you never know how big the baby’s head will be, it’s important for the hat to be very stretchy and the extended length could easily be folded into any size brim.

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The one problem with this pattern was that it called for size 7 needles.  I had size 8 and didn’t want to invest in the 7s, so I did some math and adjusted the pattern.  I basically just reduced the pattern by 12 stitches and skipped “Rnd 11” in the pattern.  I started this pattern using the DPNs.  While these are perfectly fine for knitting a newborn hat, the pointy needles kept poking my big, pregnant belly.  I watched a YouTube video on the Magic Loop method, and I was sold!  (Side note: I have found that VeryPinkKnits makes some consistently easy to follow YouTube tutorials.)  The Magic Loop method allows you to knit in the round without filling up the entire circular needle.  In fact, you start with very large circular needles (32″ or greater) and then shift the stitches back and forth along the needles.  This was a much more comfortable method for small-circumference knitting, and learning how to do it helped me in many future projects.

The project went rather quickly, and I ended up with an adorable (and very versatile) WARM hat for my newborn son!

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Socks! Well… baby socks

After tackling the sweater, my next ambition was to create some socks.  Socks were another knitting creation that had me baffled.  I can knit my own socks?  Like, to wear?  There are whole sections of yarn stores devoted to “sock yarn” and dozens of patterns on ravelry and other sites devoted to socks.  Nevertheless, I was intimidated by the idea of creating my own.

I decided to start small, as with all of my preceding projects.  I wanted to create a pair of newborn socks for the baby.  I was pickier than that, though.  I did not want to use the special (and expensive) “sock yarn.”  I wanted to use the same worsted weight cotton yarn that I had used for the newborn sweater.  After all, I wanted it to match perfectly.

I did some pattern searching and came up with this pattern for Simply Sweet Socks.  This pattern allowed me to make newborn socks while still using the worsted weight yarn.  Unlike other patterns that tried to simplify newborn socks, this one still required the heel flap, turning the heel, and knitting the gusset.  All of these terms were things that I knew were important for knitting adult socks, but they were all new to me.  I wanted these newborn socks to be an “intro to sock-making” on a small scale, though, so I wanted to learn how to do each of those steps.  The pattern also called for size 4 double pointed needles (DPNs), so this would be my first real attempt to work with DPNs.

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The pattern called for using four DPNs (with 6 stitches on each needle), although once I understood what I was doing I reduced the number to three (with 8 stitches on each needle).  I had previously watched a video of someone using DPNs, and I knew it was important to pull the stitches tight between the needles, otherwise I would end up with a ladder effect.  The DPNs worked fine, with one exception… they kept poking at my big pregnant belly!  Reducing the number of DPNs from 4 to 3 was helpful, but I still was not a fan of using these.

Knitting the heel flap and turning the heel were both easily accomplished, but I had to watch a YouTube video on how to pick up the gusset.  It wasn’t hard, but it is not easily explained.  I highly recommend watching a video to help you through the first time.  Here is a picture of the sock in progress, after I had picked up the gusset stitches:

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The rest of the knitting went smoothly, although I noticed a few changes I would like to make to the pattern.  One was the way the heel looked.  Because of the slipped stitches, the heel was reinforced, but didn’t look as smooth as it would if I had run the ribbing all the way down.  I decided that if I created my own sock pattern (foreshadowing!), I would continue the ribbing.

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Another change I did make to the pattern was to finish off the toe with a kitchener stitch.  I had watched a video of someone making socks, and noticed the nice finish they made by “grafting” the toe (aka using the “kitchener stitch”).  Because this is how adult socks are finished, this is how I wanted to finish my newborn socks.  The original pattern calls for a “star toe” by threading the yarn through the remaining stitches and pulling them tightly to a point.

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Once I was to this point (see pic above), I shifted the stitches evenly onto two needles and lined them up to create the top and bottom of the sock.  I then followed the YouTube video instructions (just search for “kitchener stitch”) and created a beautifully grafted edge.Image

The first sock was a bit of a learning experience, but the second one went very smoothly.  I love that they were quick to make and that they match the handmade sweater perfectly.  Next up: a hat to complete the set!

Knitting in the Round

My first project knit in the round:

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On a trip to the local yarn store, I talked to some more experienced knitters to find out more about needle sizes and circular needles.  According to this woman, circular needles were the way to go.  They can be used for knitting in the round, but can also be used for large knitting projects, going back and forth as if using straight needles.

My first set of circular needles came from Hobby Lobby.  I bought a 16″ length with needles that screwed onto the cord.  I have since decided that I would rather spend the extra money to get quality circular needles that remain attached.  The needles I bought tended to unscrew while I was knitting, which was very frustrating and would have been terrible if I dropped all those stitches due to a needle malfunction.

So… I wanted to make a hat for myself that involved knitting in the round.  I searched the internet very carefully, knowing that I wanted to make a hat with cables.  This was when I first discovered the pattern searches on ravelry.com.  If you are a knitter or crocheter, you HAVE to sign up for this website!  It allows you to search for patterns (free or for a small fee) with as many search criteria as you can imagine.  You can limit searches by free/paid, knit/crochet, VERY specific items, yarn weight, needle size, and SO much more.

I found a free hat pattern (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/declans-hat) that had some unique cabling I could adjust to my size.  While all the “models” were male, I figured I would add some extra ribbing to allow me to fold up the brim and I could even add a pompom to the top if I wanted to make it a little more feminine.  The ribbing made it so stretchy that it would fit a bigger head, so I figured the extra allowance would be good for my first adult hat project.  The pattern called for a size 6 needle, but I had a size 8.  Because this pattern is so versatile, I figured I could swing it by following the pattern for an adult medium.  Of course, I had to try on the brim to be sure it wasn’t ridiculously huge:

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The pattern was great and I got to practice reading a knitting diagram with this pattern.  I also got to practice holding cable stitches to both the front and back (which wasn’t hard, but took a little bit of practice).  The trickiest part was when the rows started decreasing and I realized it was not going to stay on the circular needles.  The light bulb went off in my head– THIS is why people say you will need double pointed needles (DPNs) on a hat project!

Bad news.  It was 10:30 at night (kids are asleep, making 9-12:30 at night the best time for me to knit), and I did not have DPNs.  Nor did I have experience with DPNs.  Hmmm…. I understood the concept of how they would work.  I had read the section on them in my “Learning Knitting” manual and had watched a video or two on YouTube to see them in action.  The best solution would be to wait until the next day when I could run to the store and buy some DPNs, but I am NOT a patient person and I was determined to finish that night.

What happened next is tough to blog about because I’m still kind of baffled as to how I did it, but I managed to complete the hat.  I pulled out my size 8 straight needles and pulled the stoppers off the end.  Then, through a complicated method of knitting with one end of a needle and then sliding them onto another needle so the point was facing the opposite direction, I managed to decrease the stitches correctly and come up with a finished hat.  The good news out of all this– when I finally used DPNs on another project, they were a piece of cake after this creative but unconventional experience!

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I love my new hat and I love how it matches my handmade fingerless mittens!  As you can see, my toddler loves it, too!

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