16 September 2015

Tubular Monochromatic Double Knitting

The title of this post is a mouthful!

One of the themes running through my knitting life this year has been double knitting. For those of you who are regular readers, this is no surprise. I enjoy the challenge of double knitting. I also enjoy the finished result. Knitting can often have obvious right and wrong sides; and I love that double knitting can be a way to make something that is beautiful from every direction.

Earlier this year I finally succeeded in purchasing a copy of the expanded 1994 Schoolhouse Press edition of Notes on Double Knitting by Beverly Royce. Most knitters think of double knitting as mirror-image positive-negative patterns in a thick fabric, such as the example below.

Beverly instead explored tubular double knitting. What is that? Tubular double knitting is using double knitting techniques to create tubes or pockets. "Regular" double knitting uses two yarns on each row. In fact, it is a great way to reproduce patterns that can be reduced to binary pixels. Tubular double knitting instead uses only one yarn. Each row is really a round. The "right side" row works half the stitches and the "wrong side" row works the other half the stitches. Two passes — one up and the other back — equal one round.

I had already explored some of this with a double-knit cabled scarf some years back. And I was aware of how this technique could be used to make stockinette tubes, such as glove fingers. But I had not understood the potential for making tubes with patterns until I read Beverly's book.

This year I happened to be in town for The Whole Nine Yarns' Christmas in July event. When I am in town for it, I try to contribute an original pattern. Since I was in the mood to play with a new-to-me technique, I came up with the Southern Hospitality Washcloth.

The center of the washcloth is a pocket that will hold soap. You can make the opening on the back large enough for a whole bar of soap, or small so as to use only those little scraps that are too large to throw out but too small to grasp in the shower.

Three different ways to bind off 1×1 ribbing.
I came up with three different ways to bind-off the border, which is 1×1 ribbing. In this case, I'm using ribbing as a reversible edging. If I bound off with a stretchy bind-off, it might ruffle. Oddly enough, a tight bind-off is needed. For a beautiful, couture bind-off, cut the yarn leaving about 4 yards and Kitchener graft the ribbing edge (example at top). For an easy bind-off, use a very small needle and bind off in pattern as tightly as you can (example at bottom).

Another way to bind-off is to work a Japanese (flat) three-needle bind-off (example at middle).

This is usually done over stitches on separate needles, but in this project, I already had all the stitches on one needle. Here is video of how to work what is essentially a three-needle bind-off but without dividing stitches on to two needles.

This works on 1×1 ribbing and would also work on double knitting. For those of you who like it written out:
  • slip one knitwise with yarn in back
  • slip one purlwise with yarn in front
  • reverse yarn over
  • pull through all three loops on the hook.
(The first time you do this, you will pull through only two loops on the hook, because you won't have the previously bound-off pair at the start.)

The pattern given out at Christmas in July was abbreviated. The version I've posted on Ravelry has more photographs as well as more options and more written-out instructions. At the moment, I've listed it as a free download. I will probably change it to a paid download, but I wanted people who were at Christmas in July to have a chance to get the pattern first. I've also put this on the schedule as a class on Saturday 10 October. I don't think the pattern is all that difficult, but if you've never done any double knitting and would like some supervision, the class will help.

14 September 2015

A Little Too Ambitious?

I've just come off what was even for me a rather ambitious schedule. Cuddly Hubby was home for not quite two weeks. Hurray! Home really is home when Cuddly Hubby is here.

Also visiting was our dear New Hire Buddy. New Hire Buddy and I get along well, as we both LOVE board games. Plus, New Hire Buddy was working on a five-person cosplay of Mystery Men for Dragon*Con. He accomplished quite the scavenger hunt on Ebay to find all the pieces of his Mr. Furious costume; then more time with scissor and glue to make the costume just right. It worked well to be finishing up in our house, where I could supply half-a-dozen different types of glue, or paint, or other craft materials. He even got contact lenses so he could walk around without his glasses; and he shaved off his beard and had his hair cut and dyed to match his character. That's serious cosplay!

 Yes, we attended Dragon*Con, as usual. I did one new costume this year -- a rogue. I used a fabulous cloak I purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool from Greentree Weaving. I purchased a black cotton pirate shirt in the Dragon*Con market -- a big thank-you to the merchant who brought shirts in sizes small to XXL and in a breathable material. (I did see someone faint outside in the heat while waiting in line. She was wearing something that looked good but probably was acrylic or polyester.) I also used a mask, which was strange to me as I would say, "Hello," in passing to friends who didn't recognize me. Duh! After the convention, I had one day to unpack/re-pack.

Then I took an all-day crochet class with Myra Wood. Thank you to Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance for offering the class. While I don't crochet often, I know enough to be past learning the basics. I appreciate the opportunity to move up the learning curve. I learned several things:
  • How to make a picot without a big ugly hole in the bottom.
  • How to work packing cord.
  • How to weave in an end as you work.
  • How to join motifs the Japanese way.
  • How to use a half-double crochet to join a motif in the round
  • How to read crochet charts.
  • Where to find Russian and Japanese crochet resources.

Combination of market purchases and swag from Georgia FiberFest 2015.
The day after the crochet class I headed down to Columbus, Georgia for the 4th annual Georgia FiberFest. The market was fairly busy on Thursday and some on Friday, but less so on Saturday. That was a shame, because the variety of vendors was excellent and they all brought good stuff. I was planning on buying very little, but failed to behave myself due to the wonderful offerings! (Notice the nice glass eyes for felted critters, or the beautiful monarch butterfly barrette.) Unfortunately, there was a lot going on last weekend. Atlanta Knitting Guild had Myra Wood teaching knitting classes. Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild had Madelyn van der Hoogt teaching deflected doubleweave. The Whole Nine Yarns had Purljama. And for our Jewish friends, there was the new year holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Even with modern technology, it just is not possible to be in more than one place at one time.

The Friday dinner was excellent this year. As the cost of food at the convention center had gone up, the organizers moved the dinner offsite and hired a five-star chef. The meal included both beef and chicken. The mixed vegetables were delicious and unusual, as they included edamame rather than lima beans. The dessert was especially interesting, as there was a thin cracker flavored with lavender. And pretty much everybody in the room won some sort of door prize. (Thank you to Yarnhouse Studio for those two lovely skeins of golden sock yarn!)

I do want to especially call out Kromski for a big thank-you! Kromski was the corporate sponsor of the show and until they did so, I did not realize that their North American office is based in Georgia. They had a nice booth with their full range of spinning wheels, rigid heddle looms, and tools. The vendors and teachers got unfinished travel-size niddy-noddies. I hope to get some clear polyurethane at the hardware store to give mine a proper coating. Kromski also donated fiber samples to the goodie bags. Since not everyone spins, a few of those migrated into my hands. Those chunks of ready-to-spin fiber will be handy come Spinzilla in a few weeks.