Thursday, October 18, 2012

Strange Loop pattern

Strange Loop

This is a pattern recipe for a snug and stretchy twisted turtleneck cowl. It is more in the vein of “general directions with tips and ideas—knit it how you like to get what you want” rather than in the vein of “do exactly this to get exactly that”. A few knitters had expressed interest in my experimental project, and I thought I’d go ahead and write it up put it here on the blog rather than let it languish forever in pattern limbo with some of my other designs-in-progress. It hasn’t been test-knitted, and so far I’ve only knitted it once, but I plan on knitting it again sometime and adding photos of some of the fiddlier steps involved. I hope that if you go ahead and try this out, you’ll note what you did in your Ravelry project so that others can see and benefit!

Yarn: Laceweight, such as Malabrigo Lace. The pictured cowl used about 32 grams/300 yards.

Needles: 40" circular needles, US 4, or the size to get the fabric you want. (Recommended: two sets of circular needles in the main size for casting on with Judy’s Magic Cast-on and possibly one set in a smaller size to be used later just as a holder.)

Techniques: Provisional cast-on; knitting in the round with circular needles using magic loop; kitchener stitch/grafting.

Gauge: I didn’t knit a gauge swatch before casting on, but my finished gauge is about 7 stitches per inch after the fabric has been stretched and allowed to relax. Rather than try to get a specific gauge, I recommend knitting to get the fabric you want and to cast on the appropriate number of stitches to fit you. I give some gauge/swatching suggestions in the questions at the bottom.

Finished dimensions and fit: This cowl doesn’t lie flat and is stretchy and thus is difficult to measure with any sort of accuracy, but mine is approximately 7½ inches tall and 17½ inches in circumference when relaxed. It goes over my 22¾" head and fits comfortably and warmly around my 12¼" neck.

The pattern recipe itself is relatively straightforward, but there are some fiddly bits at the beginning and end. I recommend being very comfortable with your preferred provisional cast-on and with kitchener stitch/grafting. Due to the number of stitches and fineness of the yarn, I don’t recommend that beginners to these techniques just dive in—it would probably be much less frustrating to practice them separately, perhaps even working a practice piece with heavier yarn and fewer stitches.
I’ve included some tips and suggestions in the indented portions. They are based on my own knitting preferences and experiences, and I hope they can be helpful, but you might prefer do to things differently.

Using your preferred method, provisionally cast on 120 stitches.
  • I like to use Judy’s Magic Cast-on (JMCO) over two long circular needles for this. When using JMCO as a provisional cast-on, you need to double the number of stitches (in this case, 240).
  • If you find the number of stitches daunting, I recommend casting on 10 or 20 stitches, then pausing to mark this number on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet and then resuming and repeating. I find that I’m less likely to zone out and lose count this way.
  • When I use JMCO as a provisional cast-on for knitting in the round, instead of flipping the needles so that the top one is now on the bottom, I slide the stitches to the other ends of the needles, pulling out loops in the cables (for magic loop) on the way. This is so the working end of the yarn is at the correct place to begin knitting in the round. (This is easier to do than to explain with words, and I will try to add photos of this step.)
Join to knit the 120 stitches in the round. Be careful not to twist.
  • If you used JMCO for the provisional cast-on, the other needle will need a magic loop as well. You won’t be knitting the stitches on the other needle—it is just functioning as a holder.
Knit in stockinette for about 17 inches (unstretched) or your preferred length.
  • It might be a little unwieldy and tanglesome at first, but it gets easier as the cowl becomes longer.
  • If you are using a yarn that fuzzes and felts easily, I recommend transferring the provisional stitches to the smaller size of circular needle after knitting a few rounds. I find that after the stitches have fuzzed up, they’re harder to slide and work with when grafting. Use a needle size that is closer to the size of the cable but not so small that the needle falls out easily.
  • Feel free to add stripes or blocks of color.
  • The finished cowl will be folded in on itself to make a double layer. When thinking about whether or not it will be long enough, keep in mind that the fabric will need to stretch a bit width-wise, and this takes away some of the length. Also the half-twist takes away a little bit of the length, too.
Knit another half round (that is, on 120 stitches, knit 60 stitches.)   
  • If you want a straight, untwisted cowl, leave this step out.
Carefully fold the tube in on itself, giving the fabric half a twist so that the tips of the knitting needles are on the same side.
  • I made this with the knit side out, so if this is what you want, make sure that the knit sides are facing you and the purl sides are inside. If you want the purl side out and know how to graft purlwise, please feel free to do so.
Cut the yarn, leaving a tail about 3 times the length to be grafted shut (the unstretched circumference of the cowl).

Use kitchener stitch to graft the two ends together.
  • For this particular cowl, make sure you’ve folded the tube in on itself, something like a turtleneck. For a different cowl, you could knit a longer length and bring the ends together to meet in a circle, like a doughnut.
  • There will probably be a little gap at the end of the grafting—just use the yarn tail to carefully sew it up as invisibly as possible.
Lightly darn in the ends, being careful not to stitch through both layers of the cowl.
  • I only do a little bit of darning in and then leave the tail in between the two layers of the cowl.
If the twists are arranged at one end, this can be worn as a hat or pushed back as a wide headband with a hole to accommodate a ponytail.


I’d like to preemptively answer some questions that I imagine might be asked.

Q. Why do I have to use a provisional cast-on and kitchener stitch? Why can’t I just use my usual cast-on and bind-off and then seam the ends together? Or better yet, use the three-needle bind-off?
A. This particular pattern recipe is for a cowl that is as stretchy as it can be so that it can go over the head and still fit snugly around the neck. Most cast-ons and bind-offs and seams are significantly less stretchy than the knit fabric itself, so to incorporate those with this circumference would result in something that won’t have the intended fit and function. If you don’t want the intended fit or function, you can certainly use a different cast-on and bind-off, but then you don’t need this pattern recipe.

Q. But what about x cast-on or y bind-off? They’re very stretchy.
A. I’m not familiar with every cast-on or bind-off, and those may very well work. Please feel free to experiment!

Q. Can I make this with a heavier yarn?
A. Of course! I haven’t made one and likely will not make one because I don’t need such a thick fabric, but again, please feel free to experiment.
I have some suggestions on how to do a swatch and figure out your gauge and number of stitches to cast on. Because of the aforementioned lack of stretchiness in the usual cast-ons, I recommend using Judy’s Magic Cast-on and knitting in the round. (It will have a closed end like the toe of a sock, but that is fine.) You might have another method that would also work. Normally you don’t want to stretch your gauge swatch when measuring, but for this pattern you do want to stretch it a reasonable way, as though you are stretching a cowl over your head. I don’t even bind off (because of the lack of stretchiness) but just measure the swatch on my needles. Measure around your head in the direction you would put a cowl on. (I prefer to tuck it under my chin and raise it over my head rather than drag it down from the crown, and for me, this results in a slightly bigger measurement.) Multiply your stretched stitches-per-inch by your head measurement. You’ll want to cast on at least that number and add some more stitches for good measure and/or to make a nice round number. You may want to measure the relaxed swatch and figure out approximately how big around the cowl will be when it’s not stretched to make sure that this will be a comfortable measurement for your neck. Keep in mind that the cowl is a double layer, which adds some thickness. The half-twist will also add some thickness.

Q. Why do you want to use yarn that gets fuzzy and felted while you’re knitting?
A. Because it’s so soft and luxurious, and sometimes I don’t mind the fuzzing and felting. There are superwash laceweight yarns though.

Q. Can’t I knit this with double-pointed needles instead?
A. I don't know, but you could try. Personally, I find magic loop to be less unwieldy.

Q. Can’t I knit this with a shorter circular needle? Do I have to use magic loop?
A. I tend to favor magic loop, so I don’t know. You could try. I think that the main benefit to using magic loop for this is that there’s enough cable to allow for trying the cowl on or just stretching it to make sure it’ll fit before finishing it.

Q. What about traveling loop?
A. I find that the other circular needle acting as a holder makes traveling loop more awkward than just using magic loop, but you are of course free to do as you see fit.

Q. I don’t like having the extra circular needle just hanging there getting tangled up in everything. Why do you recommend this?
A. I don’t like transferring stitches to and from scrap yarn, especially with this number of stitches on this thin weight of yarn—I tend to drop stitches or pierce the working yarn and/or the scrap yarn, or some other thing goes wrong. I find dealing with the extra circular needle less troublesome.

Q. Why so long-winded?
A. I tried not to be, but I want to give information that I think could be helpful.

Q. Doesn’t this so-called pattern boil down to “cast on a zillion stitches, knit something more than twice as long as you need, tangle your unnecessarily long circular needles to do some twisty hocus pocus folding thing, and spend half of forever grafting the zillion stitches to each other”?
A. Pretty much, yes.

Q. Why would anybody even want to knit this?
A. I suspect that not many people will actually want to knit this, especially when there are many cowl patterns out there that are quicker and less fiddly to knit. I find that most lightweight, non-bulky cowl patterns that will fit over my head won’t go up high enough to keep my neck as warm as I would like. I don’t prefer knitting and wearing a cowl with buttons and buttonholes or zippers and enjoy having a mindless stockinette-in-the-round project around. I also enjoy knitting experimental things to see what will happen and am currently intrigued by stretchy, seamless, twisty tubes. If one or more of these apply to you, you might want to give this a try.
 
 I hope you enjoy this pattern recipe if you do decide to knit it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Red Blood Cell pattern

Red Blood Cell


A flexible biconcave disk, for all your flexible biconcave disk needs!

Use a combination of yarn and needle size to get a firm gauge so the stuffing won't show through. For the cell pictured, I used fingering weight yarn held double with US 7 needles, and the finished size is 3¼" x 3".

Techniques used include knitting in the round, increasing, and decreasing.

Stitches and abbreviations:
k: knit
kfb: increase by knitting in the front and back of the stitch
k2tog: decrease by knitting two stitches together

Note: The number of stitches and the grouping of increases and decreases are intentionally a bit irregular for a more organic look. This might make the instructions look complicated, but the basic idea is just to increase or decrease by 8 stitches on most of the increase or decrease rounds. Since the total number of stitches is not divisible by 8, there will be two odd stitches scattered here and there in each of those increase and decrease rounds.

Pattern:
Leaving a long tail, cast on 6 stitches. Distribute on needles for knitting in the round.
Round 1: *k1, [kfb] twice, repeat from * (10 stitches)
Round 2: *[kfb] twice, k1, [kfb] twice, repeat from * (18 stitches)
Round 3: k
Round 4: *[k1, kfb] 4 times, k1, repeat from * (26 stitches)
Round 5: k
Round 6: [kfb, k2] 5 times, k1, [kfb, k2] 3 times, k1 (34 stitches)
Round 7: k
Round 8: [k3, kfb] 4 times, k1, [k3, kfb] 3 times, k4, kfb (42 stitches)
Round 9: k
Round 10: *kfb, k2, repeat from * (56 stitches)
Round 11: k
Round 12: k
Round 13: k
Round 14: k
Round 15: k
Round 16: *k2tog, k2, repeat from * (42 stitches)
Round 17: k
Round 18: *[k3, k2tog] 4 times, k1, repeat from * (34 stitches)
Round 19: k
Round 20: *k1, [k2tog, k2] 3 times, k1, k2tog, k1, repeat from * (26 stitches)
Round 21: k
Round 22: *[k2tog, k1] 4 times, k1, repeat from * (18 stitches)
Round 23: *k1, [k2tog] 4 times, repeat from * (10 stitches)
At this point, stuff the toy, flattening it out and stuffing the rim more firmly to get the biconcave shape of a red blood cell. If you are using safety eyes, attach them now.
Round 24: *[k2tog] twice, k1, repeat from * (6 stitches)
Cut yarn and use a darning needle to draw the tail through the remaining stitches. I find that I get neater results if I lightly tug on the stitches on the darning needle to tighten them before drawing the yarn tail through. Use the yarn tails to stitch between the top center and the bottom center to secure the biconcave shape. To weave in the ends, draw the yarn through the length of the toy, bringing the needle out in the center of a stitch. Reinsert the needle through the same place it emerged from and repeat. The yarn tail will be secured in the stuffing.

I hope you enjoy your new red blood cell!



This pattern has not been tested, but I welcome constructive criticism and feedback!

Please don't copy or distribute this pattern or sell items made from this pattern without permission.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Grief pattern

the Good Grief pattern is now available for sale! thanks to all who expressed an interest in it, and special thanks to my test knitters!


finished size: approximately 4½ inches tall

yarn requirements include small amounts of worsted and fingering weight yarn, some of it feltable wool. it's in the spirit of this project to use scraps from your stash, if you can!

techniques include knitting in the round over a small diameter, i-cord, needle-felting, and mattress stitch.

$5 for a pdf download.



also available on Ravelry.

I hope folks enjoy knitting this pattern, and I'm looking forward to seeing more little droopy knitted trees! :D

Friday, June 18, 2010

Apostrophe Pattern

Apostrophe, Comma, or Quotation Marks


Technically these punctuation marks are not the same or interchangeable, but this pattern can be used to make an apostrophe, comma, or a set of quotation marks.

Finished size: about 2 3/4 inches tall and 2 inches wide.
Yarn: worsted weight (I used Cascade 220 for the apostrophe pictured.)
Needle size: US 4 (3.5mm) dpns or circular needles for knitting in the round. (I use magic loop with circular needles.)
Gauge doesn't really matter as long as you get a firm fabric so the stuffing doesn't show through the finished toy. Other weights of yarn can be used with a corresponding needle size.

Stitches and abbreviations used:
k: knit
kll: increase by inserting left needle into left loop of stitch two rows below last completed stitch; knit this stitch through the back loop.
krl: increase by inserting right needle into right loop of stitch just below next stitch; place it onto left needle and knit it.


(I thought it might help to take photos of where to insert the needle for these two increases. You can also look them up on knittinghelp.com.)
k2tog: knit two stitches together

Pattern:
Cast on 3 stitches.
Round 1: Working as for i-cord, knit.
Round 2: k2, krl, k1. (4 stitches)
Round 3: knit, distributing the stitches on the needles for knitting in the round.
Round 4: k2, kll, krl, k2. (6 stitches)
Round 5: k
Round 6: k
Round 7: k3, kll, krl, k3. (8 stitches)
Round 8: k
Round 9: k4, kll, krl, k4. (10 stitches)
Round 10: k
Round 11: k3, kll, k2, kll, krl, k2, krl, k3. (14 stitches)
Round 12: k
Round 13: k4, kll, k3, kll, krl, k3, krl, k4. (18 stitches)
Round 14: k
Round 15: k5, kll, k4, kll, krl, k4, krl, k5. (22 stitches)
Round 16: k
Round 17: k6, kll, k5, kll, krl, k5, krl, k6. (26 stitches)
Round 18: k
Round 19: k7, kll, k6, kll, krl, k6, krl, k7. (30 stitches)
Round 20: k
Round 21: k
Round 22: k
Round 23: k
Round 24: k3, k2tog around. (24 stitches)
Round 25: k
Round 26: k2, k2tog around. (18 stitches)
Round 27: k
Round 28: k1, k2tog around. (12 stitches)
Round 29: k

Stuff the toy at this point. (This pattern could also be used as a flat piece of punctuation if you leave it unstuffed.)
Round 30: k2tog around. (6 stitches)
Cut yarn and use a darning needle to draw the tail through the remaining stitches. I find that I get neater results if I tighten the stitches on the darning needle a little bit before drawing the yarn tail through.
Weave in ends.

For a set of quotation marks, make four of these and sew a few stitches to attach them to each other to look like quotation marks. I use an adapted form of mattress stitch.

Embroider eyes on the finished toy if desired.

I hope you enjoy your new punctuation friend!



This pattern has not been tested, but I welcome constructive criticism and feedback!

Please don't copy or distribute this pattern or sell items made from this pattern without permission.

Friday, May 02, 2008

a method of weaving in yarn ends

last year a fellow knitter showed me a way of weaving in ends I hadn't come across before and haven't come across since. I don't know what it's called but it's relatively quick and easy so I like it a lot. I don't have a way of making a video but I took some photos to illustrate. hopefully this will make sense!

when done in the same color yarn, this method is almost invisible on both the knit and the purl sides. it works best with a tightly-knitted gauge and a grippy yarn.

the basic idea is that you wrap the yarn end around one side of a column of stockinette Vs. stick the needle from right to left around the right leg of each V and work your way up for a couple of inches, then turn, move the end to another column, and repeat in the opposite direction.

this can also be done on the purl side, but while it is invisible on the knit side, it does show up on the purl side. instead of going up a column of stitches, you work from side to side, catching the purl bumps from right to left.

here are some pictures of how this is done on the knit side of stockinette.


bring the end to be woven up through the middle of the V of a knit stitch.


stick the needle under the right leg of the stitch above, working from right to left.


bring the needle tip around to do the same to the next stitch above.


like so.


continue wrapping the stitches for a couple of inches.



pull yarn through and then give the fabric a tug to smooth it out.


like so. bring the yarn up through a stitch in the next column and repeat in the opposite direction.

when you're using the same color yarn the result is fairly invisible on the knit side and the purl side, but if you're using a contrasting color yarn, it's not invisible on the knit side but it is on the purl side.

here's how it would look with a contrasting color.

yeah, not so good.

so work it on the purl side. here's how.


bring the end to the purl side.

stick the needle through a purl bump from right to left. I see the bumps like parentheses. some look like ( and others look like ). you can weave in the yarn on either type of bumps, but stick with the same type for each row.


I picked the ) bump for this row.



aim for the next purl bump of the same sort.



keep going for a couple inches.



pull the yarn through and tug at the fabric to smooth it out.



turn and work in the opposite direction on another row of purl bumps. I like to change directions at least twice.



this is how it looks in a contrasting color. not invisible at all but it doesn't show up on the knit side. and if the knit side is the right side, then that's all that matters.

so that's one method of weaving in yarn ends. if anybody uses it and likes it or knows what it's called, let me know!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rogue from X-Men scarf recipe

(I'm writing this up to put on Ravelry. I figure that if I'm going to put pattern notes in the project I might as well write up the pattern recipe.)

recently I came across a couple scarves I had made several years ago. I had based them on a long, skinny purple scarf that Rogue wore in the first X-Men movie. she seems to have at least two of them, one more sparkly than the other. they both seem to be knitted in a very loose stockinette stitch and allowed to curl.

materials:
50-100 grams of dark purple sport to worsted-weight yarn (50g should be enough but if you want the scarf extra long, you may need more.)
knitting needles, much larger than what you would normally use. US 11, 13, or possibly even 15.

recipe:
cast on about 20 stitches. work in stockinette until the scarf is long enough to wrap around your neck two or three times and reach down to your knees, or however long you want it. bind off.

for the first scarf I made, I only had 50 grams of light worsted wool and cast on 15 stitches. for the second one I had 100 grams of Cascade Pima Tencel color #2493 and cast on 20 stitches.

so far this is the best picture I've found of Rogue wearing the scarf. in the movie it looks more purple.



I might try taking screenshots.

gauge should be nice and loose. keep in mind while you're knitting that it will look much wider than it will end up when you wear it, as the fabric will pull down, curl, and become narrower when it is worn.


the left side is more like how the fabric will look when the scarf is worn; the right side is more like how it looks when you're knitting it.

finished scarf:


edited to add screenshots.

it looks like she could have 3 different scarves, the sparkly one, a non-sparkly one, and possibly a mostly non-sparkly one with sparkly sections. or the non-sparkly one has the sparkly sections but they don't show up all the time. the scarf also looks like it would uncurl to be much wider than the ones I made.

sparkly throughout:




not sparkly:


closeup of loose stockinette stitches:


very curly edges:


another no-sparkly closeup:


sparkly patches? (see also magazine scan above)


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sealed with a Hug

This doesn't really need a pattern but I felt like writing up the recipe anyway.

With bulky yarn and suitable needles, cast on 5 stitches (or as many as needed to fit around your tube of lip balm) and knit in garter stitch for about 7 inches (or until it will fit, slightly stretched, lengthwise around your tube of lip balm). Cast off. Fold ends towards center and sew the sides together.
In one corner, pick up three stitches. Knit i-cord for 1 1/2 inches (or as long as necessary to make a loop). With keyring on i-cord, sew down the end to the cozy to make a loop.

Adapt as you like. Knit in stockinette or in sock yarn and with a lacy pattern. This cozy is smaller than a swatch, so go ahead, be daring!