Thursday, March 1, 2012

Going around and around and around........... And around and around.........

So you've mastered the art of the stockinette stitch. (knit one row, pearl the next and repeat forever...). And you've heard of knitting in the round.  What in the world does that mean?

Well, knitting in the round is only the most fantastic way to creat a tube.  You might be asking yourself, why in the world would I want to knit a tube?  Have you ever wanted to make a pair of socks? Or mittens, hat, or sweater?

Knitting in the round is the answer, my friend!  You are going to need to buy a special kind of knitting needles for this.  There are 2 to choose from.  It is going to depend on your pattern which you will need and you may need to have both in order to finish the project.  I will explain more later.

The first style is the Double Pointed Needles.  They are exactly that.  Double pointed needles.  They are usually about 6" long and made of either bamboo, wood or metal.  Which material is a personal preference.  These are generally referenced as dpns.  

* note - bamboo and wood are "stickier" than metal.  This can be a good thing to make sure that you aren't losing stitches.  If you find you are knitting too slowly and think it is because of your needle material switch to metal and see if you like that better.  All needles will have this material option and you will find your preference!

Back to needles.....

Circular Needles are 2 needles that are connected together.  You basically have 1 long needle on a cord with 2 ends.  

Most sweaters and large projects are going to be done on circular needles and small projects, socks, mittens and such are going to be done on dpns.  

Now if you are making a hat that need to come to a close at the top you are not going to be able to use the circular needles all the way until the end.  You will have to switch to dpns once the circle gets small enough.  Don't worry you will understand once you get to that point.  The circular needles are hard to use when there aren't enough stitches on them.  

When using the dpns it is going to seem intimidating simply because you have 4 or 5 needles to keep track of at any given moment.  Here's the trick:  only worry about the needle you are knitting with and the one currently holding the stitches your are knitting.  Let the rest of them just hang there.  They aren't going any where and you will drive yourself crazy trying to keep track of them all.  

Here is why I love knitting in the round.....  It is lightening fast!  You simply knit every round, there is no pearling when you would normally pearl!  You can just fly through it.  

Here are the "down sides"...

You are going to have to use a stitch marker to keep track of the beginning of your rows/rounds.  

 The hardest part is connecting the first round.  So, you've got all your stitches casted on.  Now how do you connect it?  First and foremost you have to make sure that you don't twist your stitches.  Once they are all lined up you simply keep knitting.  You aren't going to flip your knitting around so you go back the way you came, like normal.  You simply keep going.  I'm not finding the right words to explain it but once you are in there and doing it you will understand.  Once you get a row or two done you will be able to tell if you are connected or not.  If not, go back and try again.  You will get it and love it!

I suggest making a pair of leg warmers or a hat to start.  They are fairly easy and quick.  And as we've said before always pick a project that is easy to finish quickly so you feel like you've accomplished something amazing!

Here are a few projects that will be easy to finish without a lot of hassle!

Leg warmers for children.
These are a super easy project to start knitting in the round with dpns.  There are no increases or decreases to worry about!

This has circular needles to start and the switches to dpns as it gets smaller and you reduce needles sizes as you go as well.  There is also a video tutorial with this one.

So, go..... Fall in love with knitting in the round!!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Casting On sans Hot Mess

Logic is the love of my life. (Besides my husband who is truly the love of my life).  When I first began my quest to learn how to knit, I took an essentially logical approach to it.  Obviously, you use the needles to tie the yarn together and voila!  You have a project.  Logic.

It wasn't until I got my yarn home, and my first pair of knitting needles (by the by, do yourself a favor and get a size 6, 7, or 8 needle.  These are the best size for worsted weight yarn), that I realized that I had no idea how to get the yarn to stay on the needle.  Enter:  Casting on.

There are several different ways to cast on.  You can find a list of them here.  I primarily use the Long Tail Cast on, which is generally the easiest for a few reason.  Number one: It goes quickly.  Number Two:  It stays put.  And lastly, Number 3: It is by far the easiest cast on method to maintain the correct amount of tension.  Before this post, I hadn't ever tried any of the other methods.  I now have tried...most of them.

The Wrap Cast On
The wrap cast on is essentially just wrapping the yarn around the needle from right to left.  Easy.  The huge problem with method is there is VERY little tension control, which is essential to obtaining the correct gauge for your project.  A photo:
Wrap cast on

The Knit Cast On
Once you know how to knit, this cast on method is relatively easy.  Basically, you create a slip-knot, which you can learn how to do here.  Then you knit a stitch, but instead of slipping the stitch off the needle, you slip it on to the left hand needle.  Nice, easy, but only if you know how to knit.
Knit Cast on

The Cable Cast On
This method seems a little excessive.  Is there really a need for a cable cast on?  I'm not a fan.  Therefore, I will not teach.
cabel cast on

The Provincial Cast On
This method is BEAUTIFUL!  I was all excited to do it until I read the instructions.  Turns out, you have to crochet a chain and then cast it on.  There went that idea.  Shantel will tell you, it's no big deal, but for me, the non-crocheter, it proved impossible.

After trying all of these methods, my final recommendation is to please, please, stick with the long tail cast on.  Below is a great video teaching you how to do this type of cast on method.

Keep Calm and Knit On!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

So You Think You Can Knit...

I remember when I first picked up a pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn.  I likened it to trying to eat rice with chopsticks.  How in the world are you supposed to take this string and sticks and create something out of it?  How aer you supposed to hold the needles?  how are you supposed to wrap the yarn around said needles once you've figured out how to hold them?

I have two options for you on how to actually learn to knit.  I guess there is a third one, bu I don't suggest reading a book about it.  Even though books have pictures and such, it is just too hard to figure it out if you ask me.

Option #1:  Find a small, locally owned knitting shop.  a lot of these will either offer a class to teach you how to knit, or you can schedule a time to come in and learn.  If you are a person that needs to have someone actually show you how to do it (or tell you what you're doing wrong) then find a PERSON to teach you.

Option #2:  YouTube!!!  it's free and you have about 1.5 million videos to choose from.  If you don't like the teaching style of one video, just find another one.  There's always going to be another video out there.

Once you've decided on which option you'd like to use, you'll have to pick out a first project to do.  Here is some advice:

Pick something that you can finish quickly.  It is very easy to get discouraged until you get your knitting fingers under control.  Here are some options to think about...

-Pot Holders
-Basically, anything square with nothing more than the knit stitch and purl stitch.  

Then you will get the hang of it.  I started with pot holders as I have crocheted most of my life and didn't want to make (yet another) scarf.  Candice started with dishtowels and then jumped to a very simple scarf using the stockinette stitch (which is knitting 1 row, and purling the next).

Also, be sure to buy yarn that is pretty, easy to work with, and inexpensive, i.e. a none-decorative yarn, no eyelash yarn, no sparkly yarn, and no super thick yarn.  Get a worsted weight yarn that slides through your fingers easily.

Once you've finished your first project, do another one of the same type.  Consider the first project, a practice run.  Then, once you feel comfortable with a basic pattern, you'll be able to move onto a more complicated pattern with new stitches.

Start slow, and work your way up to speed.  

Good luck, and happy knitting!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Knitting ADD

The Twisted Knitter Presents: KNITTING ADD First off, let me start by saying, Happy Valentines Day to you and yours!  Now down to business... When you're working on a project that has more than one piece, or is a long project, do you ever feel like its never going to end?  Like you'll be sitting in that same spot, doing the exact same pattern for all of eternity?  Or possibly, doing that pattern will be your personal purgatory?  ...I totally get it.  Enter, knitting ADD. The Twisted Knitter diagnosis of knitting ADD reads as follows:  1. When one has completed part of a whole project and then gets the insatiable urge to begin a new project. 2.  When one has been working on one project for a long period of time, and then puts down the current project to begin another, more interesting looking project. If you've ever had this happen to you, welcome to our world.  Although when we enter into the project, we know it's going to be lengthy, but trust that the reward will be worth it.  Unfortunately, when you've reached your half way point (aka bottom of the abyss) the light at the end of the knitting tunnel is but a beam shining on you like Gods personal magnifying glass.  When you reach this point, STOP!  Putting the knitting down!  Refer to this blog post, relax, and ask yourself if it's worth it to continue.  Shantel will tell you yes!  Finish the project!  I will tell you... Meh, you'll finish it someday.

(Note: see "what we're working on")

 Enjoy your Valentine's Day and Happy Knitting!

 Shantel's Note:  Putting down said project and starting a new project will mean many single socks and mittens. I know that if I don't force myself to finish I never will, but when I decide to finish I will not be able to find the pattern or needles or something.  This is my theory (yes, another one...) if I tell myself that I can't start that highly desirable new project until I climb out of the knitting abyss then I KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT that I will finish the current project!  It's the "eating your veggies before you can have dessert" theory!

Friday, February 10, 2012

And so it begins...

Welcome! Candice and I decided to start this blog so that other like minded people who are committed to saving their sanity through anything creative could join us on our journey.  We've chosen to learn how to knit to accomplish this monumental feat.  Between working retail, meaning no weekends off.... Ever.... And kids, and a family and trying to hav a social life we needed something that would challenge us and give a sense of completion.  When you feel like life is out of control, you can pick up some yarn and a pair of needles and create something.  After awhile this thing that you have created out of basically nothing is done!  When your life has no discernible pattern to it there is no way to feel accomplished.  When you don't have weekends off and your days change all the time it is very hard to have that "thank goodness I made it through the week, now it's the weekend and I get to relax" feeling.  Knitting gives us this feeling.  Looking at that hat, scarf, pair of socks shows us that we can complete something.  It satisfies our souls.   So join us on this journey to learn to knit and retain what sanity we can.  It may get a bit bumpy along the way but hopefully it is enjoyable for you, the reader, as you watch us grow and stretch our skills! --Shantel