Knitting Small Circumferences on Double-Pointed Needles

When I came back to knitting, someone gave me several sets of double-pointed needles. They were all for medium weight yarn, and most were short enough for sock or mitten knitting. I was about to declare this to have been very prescient of the giver, but since I promptly moved on to the wonders of circular needles, leaving the double-pointed needles (dpn’s) to languish in a drawer out of the great fear that I’d never get them to work right, I can’t boast about that. What I can boast about is that I finally learned to use them though I’m still far from feeling convinced that I’ll use them very often.

Double-points are probably the most traditional way to knit tubelike shapes. Nothing more than slender dowels with a tapered pencil point at each end, they are the closest thing a modern knitter comes to working with sticks. The needles sell in a couple of shorter and longer lengths, the shorter length being for smaller items like socks and mittens; the longer, for larger projects like hats,sleeves, and pullovers.

While there’s really only one process, there is a little variation in whether knitters work with 4 needles or 5. People who use 5 needles divide the work evenly over 4 of them and use the fifth to do the actual knitting. People who use four generally place half the stitches onto one needle, divide the rest over two more, and knit with the fourth needle, but they may distribute the stitches in some other way, based on what makes sense for the project or the pattern stitch.

If, like me, you’ve been dreading dpn’s, the thing to keep in mind is that these needles aren’t like regular needles. They’re rougher. You don’t notice it from normal handling, like when you use them to put your hair up in a bun or when you bang them on a sauce pan to let the family know dinner is ready. But as you cast on and begin to work your stitches, you notice that the metal, plastic, or wooden surface of the needle shaft is actually weirdly . . . porous and, yes, rough. This causes the work to slide more slowly along than it would on an Addi or Knit Picks circ, which reduces the likelihood that stitches will drop off one of the tapered ends and gives you and me time to grab them if they slip.

To learn the process, the best approach is to start a hat, mitten, pouch, sleeve, sock, or some other tube, using one or two circs. When the tube is 2 or 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) long, remove the circular needle(s), slipping the live stitches on to double pointed needles as you go. You can use 3 or 4 needles. I used 3 to have fewer things/needles to deal with.

Now here’s where knitting with double-pointed needles becomes a lesson in trusting the process and the tools. Once the dpn’s are in place, find the working yarn, which should be at one end of a needle. Grab that neighboring needle, the one that is closest to the working yarn. Hold the neighboring needle in your left hand, and with an empty needle in the right, start knitting.

That’s right. Just grab the needle nearest the working yarn with your left hand as if it were a traditional single-pointed needle (the ones with a stop at one end), put an empty needle in your right hand, hold the working yarn as you normally do, and knit away.

The other needles hang in the work without slipping out and onto the floor. If you’re nervous about losing a needle or if you’re an especially loose knitter (hey, what we do on our own time is our own business, right?), you can put point protectors on the ends of the idle needles, or if you don’t have point protectors handy, you can wrap rubber bands around the ends.

To start a project on double-pointed needles, cast the stitches onto one needle, using a firm cast on that keeps its shape, like the long-tail cast on, or choose any other cast on and work one row. Then start redistributing stitches by slipping stitches from one end of the cast-on needle to another needle or two. For example, if you plan to divide the work over four needles, put half of the stitches onto the second needle; lay the needles on a table perpendicular to each other, forming a wedge or V; then slip half of the stitches from each needle onto two more. If you plan to divide the stitches over three needles, lay a single needle on the table; then starting at one end, slip a fourth of the stitches onto a second needle, and starting at the other end, slip another fourth of the stitches onto a third needle. Much easier than I’m making it sound.

To actually start knitting, shift the collection of dpn’s that are on the table so that the working yarn is at the left end of one of the needles. If it’s near the right end of a needle, pick up the whole structure and flip it over, as if you were turning a pancake or emptying out a purse. When the working yarn is properly positioned, rotate the structure of needles so that the one with the working yarn is near your right hand. Do not pick that needle up, Instead, pick up the one next to it, the one nearest the working yarn, the one that starts with the first stitch you cast on. That is the needle that goes in your left hand. Hold an empty needle in your right hand, and pick up the collection of needles with stitches so you can bring the working yarn close enough to your left needle to knit. This is one of those knitterly moments when you really wish you had a few extra fingers, but it really does stop feeling awkward with a little practice.

Then just knit. When you finish working the stitches on a needle, put the newly emptied needle in your right hand, and use it to work the stitches on the next needle, repeating the process with each needle until you’re done.

That’s all there is to it. To avoid laddering where the needles meet, give the working yarn an extra tug after working the first stitch of each needle. Run your hand over the work periodically to make sure you haven’t dropped any stitches. Beyond that, it’s all a matter of trusting that things will go as they should–kind of like life. Who knew?

Magic Loop: Using One Long Needle to Knit Small Circumferences

I like knitting in the round. When the circumferences are small, like when I’m making socks, gloves, mittens, sleeves, and hats, my preferred method is to use two circular needles. I do a lot of my knitting on the go, and the two-circ method is perfect for that. I can just shove whatever I’m working on into or pull it out of a bag without worrying about dropped stitches; I can quickly figure out where I am in the round; and I can use the fact that the work is evenly divided over two needles to help me keep track of the pattern. Still, there are other ways to get the job done.

One method, the one covered in this post, is to use one long needle to knit small circumferences, a method sometimes called the magic loop. It’s most obvious benefit is that you only need one needle, which is sometimes all we have. Two other benefits are that it’s good for the unpredictable cramming and grabbing of knitting on the go and that there aren’t a lot of unnecessary needle tips to keep track of, as there are with the two-circ method.

What You Need to Magic Loop

To work in the round on a single circ:
• You need one long circular needle.
• The needle needs to have a very flexible cable.
• You need one or two stitch markers to keep track of the beginning or middle of the round.

The question of length is relative. Most knitters recommend a needle that is at least 36 inches (91 cm)long, but if you’re working on something small enough, like a child’s sock or the thumb of a glove or mitten, you can do so comfortably on a needle that is 24 inches (60 cm) in length. I find I work most comfortably when the needle is 1.5 to 2 feet (45 to 60 cm) longer than the row of stitches.

Flexibility, however, is not so relative. If you hold the rigid ends of the circular needle in one hand so that the tips point in the same direction, you should be able to run your fingers down the cable to a small loop at the end where it is folded in half. If that loop is about 1.5 inches (4 cm) long, the cable is flexible enough, but if the loop is over 2 inches (5 cm) long, then the cable is probably not flexible enough. And before you spend a lot of mental energy scheming, forcing the loop to be smaller doesn’t change the fact that the cable is too firm for what you are about to do.

How You Do the Magic Loop

Knitting a small circumference on one long needle is similar to knitting it on two circs in the sense that, once you pull a loop of cable out of the work, you have two imaginary circs to work with. Here’s how it’s done:

1. Using one long circular needle and any method, cast on an even number of stitches, 20 for this example.
2. Run your index finger along the row of stitches, stopping when you are between the two center stitches, in this case between Stitch number 10 and Stitch number 11.
3. Wiggle your finger left and right to separate those two center stitches, stopping when your fingertip is on the cable between them.
4. Grab that bit of cable with your thumb and index finger.
5. Pull! Keep pulling. You want a big loop of cable to form between those two stitches.
6. As you pull on the cable, use your other hand to slide the stitches as close as you can to the rigid tips of the needles, but leave them on the cables.
7. You may want to put a stitch marker on the big loop of cable to mark the middle of the round.
8. When the stitches are next to the rigid ends of the needle and when there is a big loop of cable between the two center stitches, hold the tips of the needle in your left hand, as if they were a single needle and you were going to start knitting a row.
9. Take a moment to observe the work. The tips of the needle are in your left hand. They are pointing up or to the right. One is behind the other; in other words, one needle tip is closer to you, and the other is farther away. The row of stitches is folded in half, like a closed book, and there is a big wire loop of cable sticking out of the spine of the book.
10. Make sure the working yarn is on the needle that is farthest from you. If it isn’t, rotate the stitches on each needle so that the smooth bottom edge of the fabric is on top of the needles, then pretending the two needles are a single needle, turn them up side down.
11. On the front needle, the one that is closer to you, slide the stitches onto the actual rigid tip of the needle.
12. Grab the back needle, the one that is farthest from you, and tug gently up or to the right.
13. Stop tugging on the back needle when you can pretend the back needle is the right needle; then place a marker on it and start working in the usual way.
14. If the needle is long enough, the wire loops will always be evident in the work. If the needle is a little short, the loops will tend to disappear as you reach the beginning and middle of the round. If the loops disappear, reposition the work as in Step 9, tug on the back needle and continue working.

Troubleshooting Magic Loop

One complaint about the magic loop is that the loops magically disappear. As you knit, there are always two loops of cable sticking out of the work. One is to your right at the beginning of the round, and the other is to your left at the halfway point. I like to keep a marker in each loop so that, if I lose my loop, I can quickly recover it by finding the marker and pulling on the cable there.

Another common problem of knitters new to this method of working in the round is loose stitches or a laddering effect below the loops. To avoid this, some knitters recommend changing the position of the loops every few rounds. I find that laddering happens only when the cable isn’t flexible enough, putting unnecessary stress on the work. It also helps to give the working yarn an extra tug after the first stitch following the loop.

The oddest gripe about the use of one long circ for small circumferences is that double pointed needles are needed for the smallest of circumferences. I’m not sure why anyone would stop using magic loop at any point. It works as well for the fingers of gloves and the crowns of hats as it does for anything else. Using shorter needles is more comfortable, to be sure, but it isn’t really necessary, and there’s never any danger of losing the loop.

Crochet Baby Blanket With Flower embellishments

Yellow crochet baby blanket with three white flowers in each corner and a simple white border.

 
 I originally planned to publish a pattern for this blanket. Then I was crunched for time and didn’t design my own crochet flowers. Then I decided a tutorial aimed at helping you design your own baby blanket would be more helpful anyway.

The blanket I made is fairly simple. It is yellow with a white border and three crochet flowers in each corner. They are small five petal flowers that I learned how to make from this blog post.

The first thing you need to do to make your own blanket is to figure out your gauge in the stitch pattern you want. I chose to use a plain single crochet background so I made a swatch of about 20 single crochet stitches and worked even until I had about 4 inches of fabric. My gauge ended up being 10 stitches per 4 inches. It really doesn’t come out that even very often. I wanted the blanket to be about 36” including the border. Allowing an inch for the border on each side it would need to be 34” so with my gauge of 10 stitches per 4 inches, I would need 85 stitches. Simple enough. Then I just continued working row upon row of single crochet until the blanket was square. I added a border of 4 single crochet rows in white. I was going for a classic and clean effect but you could use any kind of border you wanted. A lace border would be really pretty. There are a couple of things to note when working a crochet border in the round. You need to work three stitches into each corner stitch/ this makes the corners square. Another thing to remember is when you get to the end of the round you join the stitch you just finished to the first stitch of the round with a slip stitch. Then you chain 1 for single crochet and turn the work to start the next round.

 

Closeup of white crochet flowers in the corner of a yellow baby blanket. Also shows a white border.

 

I added 12 flowers to my blanket. They were small and I put 3 in each corner. You can use as few or as many flowers as you want. It would even be nice to use just one large flower or none at all. Be creative and experiment.

The yarn I used was Bernat Softee Baby in Lemon and White. I double stranded the yarn and needed 4 balls of Lemon and 1 ball of white. You can make a baby blanket as thick or thin as you want it. Just figure out your gauge and how many stitches you need.

This is the baby blanket I made for my cousin who is due any day now. Her first two children wore holes in their baby blankets so I’m hoping this one holds up a little longer. One thing I know is that it will be very well loved.

Winding Yarn the Modern Way

One of my favorite yarny gadgets is my Knit Picks Ball Winder. There are few things in life as miraculous and elegant as the center pull skein, a cylinder of yarn you just pull and pull from. Its one flaw, though, is that it gets misshapen and battered as it shrinks, so rewinding the leftover yarn becomes necessary when the project is finished or when yarn havoc is reeking as the work is still on the needles. “Grab a piece of paper, and wind around that,” you say. I can, but the paper slips out or loops of yarn drop off the ends, and I’ve got a tangled mess to take care of. This problem gets even bigger when I need to wind the yarn that comes in hanks, the braid-like twists expensive and handmade yarn is often sold in. For these jobs, nothing beats a ball winder or the cute cake-like center pull skeins it makes, and my favorite part of the ball winder made and sold by Knit Picks is that it gives users the option of a handle or a clamp, so they can pick where and how to use their winder.

This post is mostly about how to use a ball winder. The one I have is the Knit Picks Ball Winder, which sells for about 20 dollars, a good price, but the instructions should work for any ball winder since they all have a standard shape and work more or less the same. Mine is made out of durable plastic and is light-weight, so it’s easy to carry around the house. It’s relatively small, accommodating about 3.5 ounces or 100 grams of yarn, though thinner yarn works a little better than the thicker stuff.

The ball winder itself is a square platform with a tall wide-brimmed hat on top. One side of the platform has a crank, like the handle used to roll the windows in a car up and down, and on the other side of the platform is a sturdy L-shaped guiding wire that starts underneath and points straight up to the ceiling, like an arm bent at the elbow. These are the four important parts. The platform or base is the part that is clamped to a table. The “hat,” which is called a spindle assembly, is what the yarn wraps around. The crank is what turns the “hat” and causes the yarn to wrap evenly. The guiding wire is what keeps the yarn from tangling around the bottom of the spindle assembly and also lets the operator (you or I) put more or less tension on the yarn. The fifth part of the ball winder is the clamp or the fixed handle, depending on which either one of us is in the mood to use.

Clamping the Ball Winder to a Flat Surface

The clamp is a big L-shaped screw. The long leg of the screw has a wing nut and a large plastic wedge. The short leg of the screw has a small screw with a large head. To clamp the ball winder to the edge of a table, follow a few simple steps:

1. Remove the short screw from the short leg of the large screw.
2. Turn the ball winder so that the bottom of the base is facing the ceiling.
3. Locate a hole on the side of the platform. It is near the crank.
4. Insert the short leg of the clamp into this hole.
5. Locate a rectangular hole on the part of the base that is facing the ceiling now. It is inside a large recessed circle. You should have no trouble feeling the short leg of the screw in that rectangular hole.
6. Wind the short screw back into the short leg of the clamp. Make sure the long leg is pointing toward the ceiling.
7. Turn the ball winder right side up so that the bottom of the platform is facing the floor.
8. Set the ball winder on the edge of a table, slide the plastic wedge up to the underside of the table, and tighten the wing nut until the ball winder is firmly in place. For best results, place the ball winder near the corner of the table.

I position the ball winder so that the turn handle is to my left and the vertical guiding wire is to my right. Well, I guess I should say that I clamp the winder close to the corner of a table or counter and position myself in front of it so I can turn the crank with my left hand.

Winding the Yarn

Winding the yarn is essentially a three-step process, which involves running the yarn through the guiding wire, securing it on the top of the hat-shaped spindle assembly, and turning the crank. Here’s how that’s done:

1. Running the yarn through the guiding wire — Notice that the top of the guiding wire has a coil, really just a loop with a hanging tail. Lay the yarn between the two loops at the top of the guiding wire. The Yarn tail should be in front, and the ball end should be in back. Next, pull the yarn tail down, behind, and to the left of the wire tail. Then pull the ball end down, in front of, and to the right of the guiding wire. The yarn is now through both loops, with the tail end closest to the rest of the ball winder.
2. Securing the yarn — Notice that the top of the hat-shaped spindle assembly has two grooves, where the bullet grazed the wearer as she ducked down. Turn the “hat” so that one of the grooves is close to the guiding wire. Then lay the yarn across the “crown of the hat,” positioned in both grooves. I like to leave a longish tail, at least 6 inches (15 cm). Some people like to put a stitch marker or safety pin around the yarn at the “crown” so they can find it easily.
3. Turning the crank – Pull the guiding wire toward you as far as it goes. Place your right hand on the guiding wire, loosely holding the yarn against the wire itself or against the table near the wire. Then turn the crank clockwise with your left hand at a slow steady rate, and use your right hand to put a small amount of tension on the yarn that is being fed to the ball winder.

When I was new to winding yarn, my preferred method was to cup my right hand around the guiding wire. I could use my palm to keep track of the yarn being fed to the winder, and I still had my fingers free to check that the yarn was wrapping correctly around the spindle assembly. Now I don’t bother checking the spindle assembly because I can tell I’ve got problems when I feel heaviness or lightness as I turn the crank.

Winding While Walking

If, like me, you don’t have very many good flat surfaces to clamp your ball winder to, you can remove the clamp from the Knit Picks model and attach the fixed handle. The handle is about as long as the guiding wire, and its general shape is like the handles at both ends of a big rolling pin.

Attaching the handle is simple.

1. Turn the ball winder so that the bottom of the base is facing the ceiling.
2. Run a finger around the flat end of the fixed handle, noticing two small tabs around the edge.
3. Locate a large circular recess in the center of the base.
4. Run a finger around the circular recess in the base, noticing two small notches around the edge.
5. Position the fixed handle in the circular recess so that the tabs fit into the notches. (This is where technical manuals get all male-and-female).
6. Twist the fixed handle clockwise until you feel it click into place.

The winding process is the same. The yarn is run through the guiding wire, secured on the spindle assembly, and wrapped around the device with the crank. In fact, the first few times I wound yarn, I balanced the winder on my stomach or thigh while I did exactly what I described in the previous section.

Once I felt comfortable with the process, though, I grabbed the winder by the fixed handle, catching the yarn between the handle and my palm, and cranked away. I paused to check frequently the first few times, but eventually learned to trust the yarn and the crank to let me know what was going on.

I decided to get a ball winder because I had a few hanks of yarn to work with, but I bought the cheapest one I could find because I thought I wouldn’t use it very often. It’s turned out to be one of the handiest gadgets I have, and I really do use it fairly often. I’m glad I got the Knit Picks Ball Winder because, aside from selling at a great price, it gave me a chance to experiment with the clamp and the fixed handle. I discovered I’m a fixed handle kind of gal, so much so that I didn’t try the clamp until today as I was preparing this post.

Learn to Crochet

Knowing how to crochet can be a great thing for knitters as well as those who have never picked up a ball of yarn. Even if you’re not planning to crochet a lot, it can be used for borders on knitted items, embellishments, ties for bags and other little things. If you really get adventurous, you can do a whole project with crochet. There are some wonderful afghan patterns out there.

I recently did a few posts on the basics of crochet. It’s worth taking the time to learn. I wanted to list all the posts together in one place so here they are in the order you would need them to learn how to crochet. I hope you find them helpful.

The Art of Crochet – An article on my personal experiences with crochet as well as some highlights on the history of crochet.

Slip Knot Tutorial – A slip knot is the first step in both crochet and knitting.

Chain Stitch Tutorial – The chain stitch is used to make the foundation row in crochet.

Single Crochet Tutorial – The single crochet is the most basic stitch in crochet.

More Crochet Stitches – A short explanation of the most used crochet stitches.

more Basic Crochet Stitches

All the basic crochet stitches are a variation of the single crochet stitch. The only difference is when and how often you yarn over. You also pull your hook through different numbers of loops. I’ll explain the basic idea behind each stitch. See this post for a detailed description of how to do a single crochet stitch.

Half double Crochet

 

The half double is the same as a single except there is an extra yarn over before you insert the hook into the next stitch. The half double is exactly half way between a single and a double in height. To work a half double, you yarn over, insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull your yarn through so you’ll have three loops on the hook, yarn over and pull through all three loops on the hook. You should end with one loop remaining on the hook. .

Double Crochet

 

The double crochet stitch is twice as tall as a single crochet stitch. To make a double, yarn over and insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull the yarn through so you’ll have three loops on the hook, yarn over and pull the yarn through only two of the loops on the hook, yarn over one more time and pull the yarn through the last two loops on the hook. You’ll want to use your right fingertip to control which loops get worked and which ones stay on the hook. By holding the loops that aren’t going to be worked with your finger, it makes it easier to work only the ones you need.

Triple Crochet

 

The triple crochet stitch is one of the more difficult stitches for me to work. Luckily, it doesn’t come up very often. To work a triple crochet stitch, yarn over twice and insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull the yarn through. There will be a total of four loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull the yarn through only the first two loops. There will be three loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull through the first two loops on the hook. Now you should have two loops remaining. Yarn over one more time and pull through the last two loops on the hook. You should be left with only one loop on the hook. To simplify that a little, you would yarn over twice, insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull through. Now you’ll yarn over and pull through only two stitches a total of three times to complete the triple crochet stitch.

Slip Stitch

 

The slip stitch is used to connect your rounds as well as being used in some more complicated stitches. To make a slip stitch, insert your hook in the next stitch, yarn over and pull the yarn through all the loops on the hook. You will most likely only be doing this stitch when there is only one loop on your hook to start so you’ll be pulling the yarn through the next stitch and the loop on the hook all at one time.

Spend some time practicing these stitches along with the single crochet. The half double and double will be used a lot more often than the triple so if the triple is too awkward, don’t worry about it very much. There are a lot of other stitches in crochet but they all use these few stitches in different combinations. Once you feel fairly comfortable with the hook, find a simple pattern and get going with your first crochet project. They can be a lot of fun.

For a list of crochet pattern abbreviations, as well as some free patterns, see the Purple Kitty Website.

Also be sure to check out Crochet Pattern Central for a directory of free patterns.

I-Cord Ideas

Contributed By Karen Schrade

I-cord is a narrow knitted tube. It can be an accessory, an edging, a decoration, and so much more. It is usually made by casting on 2, 3, or 4 stitches.

Stockinet I-Cord

I-cord is made like this:

1. Cast the number of stitches called for (usually 3 or 4) onto a double-pointed needle.
2. Knit them with a second dp needle.
3. Slide them to the other end of the needle, without turning the work.
4. Bring the yarn around the back.
5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until you have the length called for.
6. Finish with sl1, k2tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off.

**You don’t need double points. You can just return the stitches to your left-hand needle if you’re using “regular” straight needles.**

Reverse Stockinet I-Cord

The basic directions for I-cord make a tube with the knit side out. To make the I-cord with the purl side out:

1. Cast on 3 sts.
2. Slide to other end of dpn, or return sts to left-hand needle.
3. Pull the yarn across the front of the sts.
4. Knit 3.
5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until you have the length called for.
6. Finish with sl1, k2tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off.

By pulling the yarn across the front rather than across the back, you are effectively turning the I-cord inside out.

Applied I-Cord

There are variations that allow you to knit i-cord onto another piece of knitting:

Applied I-cord is attached to an edge after the item is completed.

1. Work two rows of I-cord in the regular way.
2. For the third row, knit the first two stitches; then pick up a stitch from the garment and knit it together with the third stitch of the I-cord.
3. Repeat Row 3 along the edge of the item.
4. Either sl1, k2 tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off, when the end of the i-cord is reached, or if working in the round, graft two ends of I-cord together.

You can use a contrasting color for your I-cord edgings.

Attached I-Cord

To attach I-cord while knitting a piece of fabric, add 3 stitches (for a 3 st I-cord) to the side(s) of the piece of fabric.

Row 1: Work to the last 3 sts (the I-cord sts), and with yarn in front, sl 3 purlwise.

Row 2: K3 (the 3 I-cord sts), work across, or if you want I-cord on both sides, to the last 3 sts, with yarn in front, sl3 purlwise.

**Wrapping the yarn clockwise, in the opposite direction from usual, on the I-cord sts makes the corded edge firm and regular.**

I-Cord in the Middle of a Row

(Ana’s addition)

You can work i-cord in the middle of a row to mark the turn in a purse or make decorative piping near a button band.

Just slip the same 2 or 3 stitches on alternate rows. For example:

Cast on 11 sts.

Row 1: P11.
Row 2: K5, kfb, k5.
Row 3: P5, sl2, p5.
Row 4: K12.
Repeat Rows 3 and 4, ending with:
Even row: K5, k2 tog, k5.
Odd row: P11.

I-Cord Cast on

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s I-cord cast on:

1. Invisibly Cast on 3 stitches.
2. Work I-Cord until you have as many “rounds” of Cord as you want stitches for the project.
3. Weave the end of the Cord to the beginning of the cord.
4. With the working yarn, Knit Up one stitch for each round of Cord.

** Ana’s note: If you don’t like picking up stitches, you can insert a skinny needle purlwise into the first stitch before working each row of i-cord. When you’re done, use the project needle to work the stitches off the skinny needle through the backs of the loops.**

I-Cord Bind Off

For a nice edge on a bind off, do an I-cord bind off.

1. With the sts to be bound off on the left-hand needle, cast on 3 extra sts.
2. For Row 1: k2, k2tog-tbl. This is the last of the 3 “extra sts” and the first of the sts to be bound off.
3. Return 3 sts to l-h needle.
4. Repeat row 1 until all sts have been “bound off”.
5. Either sl1, k2 tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off when the end of the i-cord is reached, or graft two ends of I-cord together if working in the round.

** Ana’s note: If you want the i-cord bind off to be in a contrasting color, work the last row before the bind off in the CC. **

Three-Needle Bind off with I-Cord

You can do a 3-needle bind off with I-cord for a decorative seam, joining two pieces for a cushion cover; shoulder seams; the bottom of a bag, etc.

With your 2 pieces of knitting facing each other, right side out, cast on 2 I-cord sts.

*Knit 1, slip 1, knit together the first st of each shoulder piece, pass the slipped st over (1 st effectively bound off)*

Slip the 2 sts on the right needle back to the left and continue working from * to * until you run out of sts to be bound off.

** You can also do 3 or 4 sts for the cord. **

Double I-cord:

1. Cast on 7 stitches.
2. Knit 4. Slip the last 3 stitches purlwise with the yarn held in front. Turn .
3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until the double i-cord is the length you need.

Reinforced I-Cord

This method for making a strong, non-stretching I-cord came from Joan Hamer. It can be used for purse handles or anything else when you want a stiffer cord.

1. Using #4 dpn’s, cast on 3 sts. Do not turn.
2. Slide sts to the other end of the needle.
3. Hold a piece of cable cord the desired length of your I-cord in back of work, with 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) sticking up above left needle.
4. Bring working yarn underneath cable cord and knit 3 sts. Yarn will be coming from left edge of piece. Do not turn.
5. Slide sts to the other end of needle and UNDERNEATH cable cord, thus enclosing the cord inside the I-cord tube.
6. Check your work to make sure your cord is always enclosed in the tube. As you work, keep pulling a bit of cord up so that 3-4″ are always sticking out the top.
7. Continue in this manner until you have the desired length of cord. Pull down on the piece periodically to even out the gaps.
8. Finish off ends, taking yarn through the cable cord to prevent the cord from slipping, or use sewing thread to anchor them. Tie the ends together in a slip knot after threading through eyelet holes in your bag, or knit tabs to attach to bag and thread the cords through the tabs.

Joan L. Hamer Editor/Publisher Pine Meadow Knitting News http://www.fibergypsy.com/pmkn/

Square I-Cord

The directions for square i-cord are in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s book, Knitting Around, .

Just make i-cord as usual, but K1, P1, K1 rather than knitting all 3 sts.

I-cord Bobbles

From The Santa Barbara Knitting Studio & TRISH DESIGNS

1. Knit into the front, back, and front of the same stitch.
2. Slip these new stitches back to the left hand needle and knit them again.
3. Repeat Step 2 as many rows as needed.
4. Pass the 2nd and 3rd sts over the first, ending with your original stitch. You never have to turn the work, and if you pull the yarn tightly across the back the bobbles come out very rounded.
5. if you pick up the original stitch from the left edge of the bobble (right at the beginning of it), slip it onto the right hand needle and pull the new stitch off over it (as in binding off), pulling the bound off stitch tight. This closes up the back of the bobble and makes it more like a little ball.

Uses for I-cord

• I-cord can be coiled and sewn together to make coasters, placemats, hot pads, even a throw rug if you aren’t easily bored.
• I-cord works as bag handles and the ties on caps.
• I-cord can be threaded through eyelets for booties, caps, or bags.
I-cord can be used as ribbon to tie up gift packages.
• I-cord can be glued around a picture frame with perhaps a bow tied on one corner as trim.
• I-cord at the top of a cap, tied in a knot, makes a cute finish.
• I-cord in various colors can be sewn onto finished fabric for flowers, letters, etc instead of duplicate stitch.
• I-cord can be used to make a tassel as follows:

I-Cord Tassel for the Top of a Cap.

After decreasing the crown of the cap to app. 15 sts, sl all the sts onto a holder. *Taking one stitch at a time, k into the front, back, and front of the st making 3 from 1. Work I-cord for desired length, maybe 2 or 3 inches and finish off.*

Repeat for each of the sts and tie a piece of yarn around the base of the cords to complete.

Other I-Cord Projects

Soccer ball hat:

Soccer ball hat:
Referee stripes border this close-fitting cap which is adorned with a 3-dimensional soccer ball. The ball is knitted of 7 bobbles in black and white. The pattern is written for circular knitting with row-by-row instructions and sells for a modest price.

I-cord gloves:

Using Meg Swansen’s I-Cord finger technique, these gloves are started at the fingers and finished at the cuff.

Maggie’s Rags Free Knitting Patterns – Christmas Wreath Ornament

You’ll make 3 I-cords and braid them together for this little ornament.

Crochet Tutorial: Single Crochet Stitch

In crochet, there is one basic stitch called the single crochet stitch. Variations of this stitch include the half double, double and triple stitches. Once you can do the single crochet stitch, it will be easy to learn the other stitches.

Keep in mind as you read this tutorial that it will make more sense with yarn and crochet hook in hand. These instructions also assume that you are holding your crochet hook in your right hand. I am left handed and still hold the crochet hook in my right hand. If you do hold your crochet hook in your left hand, you can reverse these directions. The basic steps will still be the same whichever hand you use.

Working Single Crochet Stitches Into The Foundation Row

 

  1. Chain 11. Remember not to count the slip knot or the loop on the hook. There will be 11 completed chain stitches between the slip knot and the loop on the hook.
  2. The chain will have a flat side with two strands of yarn facing you while a third strand of yarn makes a bump on the back. You want to work into the chain with the top strand from the front and the bump on the back both above the hook. From the front, insert the crochet hook into the second chain from the hook so that there are two strands above the hook and one strand below. When counting chain stitches from the hook, don’t count the loop on the hook. There will be one skipped chain stitch between the one you put your hook in and the loop on the hook.
  3. Make sure you are holding the chain with your left thumb and fore finger. The working strand of yarn should go over the top of your left fore finger and go under your left middle finger. When you insert the hook into the chain, it should go underneath that strand of yarn. Now pull the hook back toward you, making sure to catch the strand of yarn as you pull the hook back and through the chain. You should have two loops on the hook.
  4. Let go of the work and wrap the yarn around the hook. The strand should go away from you, up behind the hook, over the top and back down in front of the hook but still behind the work. When you’re done making the yarn over, you should return to holding the work just as you did in step 3. Pull the strand of yarn through the two loops on the hook. Turning the hook so that it is facing the spot where your loops meet the work will help you draw it through without getting hung up. You have made your first single crochet and should have one loop on the hook.

 

Continue steps 2 through 4 in each chain stitch. It is easier to feel the next chain by finding the bump on the back. From right to left on the back you will feel the vertical strand of the stitch you just completed, the knot where the chain you just put a stitch in meets the next chain and then the bump of the next chain. You’ll want to hold your fingers where the bump is and try to get the crochet hook inserted as in step 2. Don’t worry about it too much if you can only get the hook under the top strand for now. This isn’t the most important part of learning to crochet and I don’t want this to frustrate you too much.

Working A Regular Row Of Single Crochet Stitches

 

  1. When you get to the end of the chain, you should have worked 10 single crochet stitches. Yarn over and pull through the loop on the hook. This is called the turning chain. With single crochet, you always chain one and then turn. After you turn your work, the crochet hook with the loop on it will be to the far right with your work to the left. The same row you just worked will still be at the top of your piece.
  2. Now you will work another row of 10 single crochets. Don’t count the turning chain. The first single crochet will be worked in the stitch directly at the base of the turning chain. Insert the hook under the two strands at the top of this stitch. Complete the stitch the same as in steps 2 through 4 from above. A short version of steps 2 through 4 are put the hook through, yarn over, pull the yarn through, yarn over again and pull it through the two loops on the hook.  Continue working a single crochet in the top of each single crochet across the row.
  3. When you get to the end of the row do not work into the turning chain. The other crochet stitches skip the stich at the base of the turning chain at the beginning of the row and use the turning chain at the end of the row to work the last stitch. With single crochet, you do not have to do this.

Keep making a new turning chain at the end of the work, turn and make another row. Make as many rows as you like. When you want to tie off your work, simply cut the yarn, yarn over and pull it through the last loop on the hook. Snug it up, weave in your ends and you’re finished.

As you practice, try not to get frustrated. Nothing is perfect the first time you try it. The wonderful thing about yarn is that it’s very forgiving of mistakes. Just pull it out and the mistakes are gone. Try again and again, and eventually you’ll have it down. It’s not as hard as it sounds and before long the whole process will be second nature.

These instructions have been very detailed. For a more concise tutorial or to see pictures, see one of the following links.

Lion Brand Learn To Crochet

Wool Crafting’s How To Crochet Page

Crochet Tutorial: Chain Stitch

The chain stitch is used to make the foundation chain for most crochet items. There is also a chainless foundation row but we’ll get into that in a later post. Once you can make a basic chain with the crochet hook, you will be well on your way to knowing how to crochet. The chain plus knowing how to do one other stitch. will be enough to make a lot of projects. In fact, all stitches are a variation of only one stitch so you won’t have to learn that much to be crocheting in no time. First, though, we’ve got to get this chain thing down.

These instructions are going to be very detailed (maybe too detailed). When most things get hard to explain, a lot of instructions turn to pictures or illustrations to bridge the gap. This isn’t very helpful for blind people so I’m going to do my best to explain exactly what to do with a crochet hook in as detailed a way as possible.

You will need some yarn and a crochet hook to practice with. You can use whatever size hook you want but larger sizes might be easier to learn with. Also, be sure to use a simple worsted weight yarn.

Holding the Crochet Hook

Most crochet hooks have a flat spot that helps keep the hook pointing in the direction you want it. If your hook doesn’t have one of these, go get one that does. It would be next to impossible for a blind person to learn to crochet without this.

Hold the hook in your right hand. You want to hold it with your whole hand over the top like you would a knife. Not like a pencil or a fork. Hold the crochet hook so that it is parallel with the floor and with the hook end pointing directly to the left. Your right thumb should be on the flat part of the hook with the actual hook part of the crochet hook on the side with your thumb. Now take your right index finger and lay it on top of the crochet hook. It should just barely reach the end of the hook. You will use this finger to control how many loops get worked with each motion of the hook. The flat part of the handle should end up between your thumb and the underside of your middle finger.

Making a Chain Stitch

 

  1. Make a slip knot with a 6 inch tail. Place the slip knot over the crochet hook and pull it until it fits the shaft of your hook very loosely. The loop should be under your right fingertip about half an inch from the end of the hook. Keep the actual knot on the underside of the crochet hook.
  2. Pick up the strand of yarn going from your slip knot to your ball of yarn with your left hand. You can hold this strand with your thumb and fore finger while the other fingers of your left hand push the tail out of the way. Take your left hand and loop the strand of yarn around the needle from the back. You will move the yarn from under the hook, straight back, up behind the hook, over the top and back to the side closest to your body. Now you will have two loops over the crochet hook. Your slip knot will be the right loop and the yarn you just wrapped around the hook will be on the left. Keep both of these loops about half an inch apart and under your right fingertip. Also be sure to keep the knot from the slip knot on the underside of the crochet hook. With your left thumb and fore finger you will hold both the knot and the strand of yarn so they stay snug.
  3. Now we are going to pull the yarn through our slip knot. take your left hand and pull it away from the crochet hook so there is about an inch between your hand and the hook. Be sure to keep the yarn snug. You should have both the tail from your slip knot and the strand of yarn between your thumb and fore finger. Using your hand to keep the yarn snug, take your left forefinger and move it from behind the yarn to the front and then between the tail and the strand of yarn. From the right you should have your thumb, the tail of yarn, your left fingertip and then the long strand of yarn all held together. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is so hang in there, you’ll be done in a second. You’re ready to pull the strand of yarn on the left through the slip knot on the right so take your crochet hook and pull it slowly to the right. As you pull the hook should grab the strand of yarn that’s on top of your left fingertip. You may need to turn the hook slightly down toward the floor after it grabs the strand of yarn. This will help the loop to stay on the hook as you pull it through the slip knot. Be sure to hold on to the knot of the slip knot and keep pulling the loop through. Holding the knot taught away from the crochet hook and turning the hook so that it’s facing down toward the knot while you pull the loop through will help keep you from getting the hook caught as it goes through the old loop. After you pull the yarn through, you should have one chain stitch on your crochet hook.

 

All of these steps will flow together after you do it a time or two. Keep repeating steps 2 and three, substituting the knot from the slip knot you are holding in your left hand with the base of the loop you just completed. Without all the details the steps are just wrap the yarn around the crochet hook from the back and pull it through. Keep pulling new loops through until you have as many chain stitches as you want.

 

Helpful Tips

  1. If your hook gets hung up on the way through the old loop just do what you need to do to get it out. Find your loop and put the hook back in. Then get it all situated and try again.
  2. When crochet directions say to chain 31, for example, you do not count the slip knot or the loop on the hook, so you will actually physically pull the yarn through 32 times. You will have 31 chain stitches between the hook and the slip knot. This will make more sense when you start to crochet your first row.
  3. Chain loosely so it’s easier to do and so your starting chain isn’t tighter than your work.
  4. You will eventually develop a consistent tension so all your chain stitches will be the same size. I learned to do this without wrapping the yarn around my fingers like I do in knitting. It would be a lot easier if I wrapped when I crochet but it’s hard to change old habits. It might be helpful to try wrapping the yarn around your left fingers in whatever way you like to get the best tension. Not too tight and not too loose.

 

I hope these directions are helpful and not confusing. Remember that things make more since with yarn and hook in hand. A tutorial on the single crochet stitch will be coming soon.

Crochet Cast On

The crochet cast on is a starting row that many knitters have trouble with. The barrier is probably psychological as those of us who are monogamous to the knitting needle have trouble finding uses for the crochet hook. Still, this is a good cast on to know as it is attractive, identical to the slip stitch selvage, and handy as a provisional cast on.

For bicrafters and others more skilled than I, the easiest way to do this is to make a crochet chain in the usual way, then to slide the knitting needle under the correct strand. For the rest of us, this process involves much swearing and picking up of the wrong strand.

So the other alternative is to use a conventional knitting needle and a crochet hook of about the same size. Actually, with a little practice, the process can be done with the two ends of a circular needle and a little finger gymnastics, but for this post, I explain the official version, which can be found in many blogs and knitting books.

What’s that? Don’t own a conventional single pointed knitting needle? Use a double pointed needle, and if the thought of one of those foreign objects makes you shiver, try a pencil. Once you get the concept, you’ll figure out how to use a circ.

Note: these instructions assume you’re right-handed.

1. Sit in a nice comfy chair with your knees together.
2. Place the conventional knitting needle between your knees. The needle is held vertically, with the idle end against the seat cushion and the point toward the ceiling.
3. Make a slip knot on the crochet hook. The slip knot is the first loop.
4. Slide the loop up the shaft so that it is about 2 inches (5 cm) from the hook.
5. With your right hand, hold the hook horizontally, and position it against the needle. The hook is in front of the needle, handle to the right and hook to the left. The needle and the hook are perpendicular to each other, like a Christian cross. The loop is to the right of the needle. The hook bends upward, though this really doesn’t matter.
6. With your left hand, wrap the working yarn around the knitting needle. Pull the yarn away from you on the right side of the needle, to the left behind the needle, and toward you on the left side of the needle.
7. Lay the working yarn over the crochet hook. It is between the loop and the hook.
8. Drag the loop to the hook and pull until it drops off. A new loop is formed by the working yarn.
9. Repeat Steps 4 to 8 until you’re 1 stitch short. Be careful that you don’t accidentally wrap the yarn around the hook as you wrap the working yarn around the needle. I use my thumb to guide the yarn under the hook and around the needle.
10. Slip the loop onto the knitting needle.
11. Begin knitting.

The process is slow and tedious at first, but the result is so attractive that it’s worth doing again, and over time, it’s as quick and smooth as other cast ons. A future post covers how to use this as a provisional cast on. For now grab your hook and needle, and cast away.

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