Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

Casting on My way

October 20, 2018

There’s method of creating the first loop for your knitting project. It involves an overhand loop and a resulting firm knot at the base of it. I’ve been troubled about the knotty part for years. When you are running your fingers along the cast-on edge, you can feel the knot.

I don’t want to feel the knot. I work a lot of items in the round using a circular needle or double points. Socks, hats, mittens, sweaters. Almost any article of clothing can be knitted in the round.

Here’s a link to a YouTube video to show you how to make this loop. Click here.

One day as I was creating the first loop for a project, I stopped halfway because I realized that I had the answer right in front of me.

That loose end hanging on the right? Push a loop of that through the place where my thumb is.

Now it’s like a baby bow tie.

Push the loops up into a rabbit ear position and slide the needle through.

Now let’s add some stitches. I do this by inserting the 2nd needle between the stitches on the 1st needle, looping the yarn around it like I’m knitting a stitch, and pulling the yarn back through to the front and sliding it on the 1st needle.

Now I have 3 stitches! I continue to add stitches in this manner until I get to my goal. For this hat, I’m using 100 stitches cast on a #5 circular.

I join the ends by distributing the stitches all the way around the needle until the end meets the beginning. Then I add my short end of the beginning yarn to the working yarn and use them as one yarn to knit the next two stitches.

I work knit 2, purl 2, for ribbing until it is about 1.5″ long.

I switch to stockinette stitch for several more inches, then reduce the number of stitches every few rounds to finish the top. You get the idea. I’ll get better directions later.

I used a lot of Red Heart yarn when I saw all the fun transitional colors that they offered. Plus I needed cheap yarn for this science project.

The BabyGirl had asked for a Messy Bun hat. I created a pattern. Some of the openings at the top are more generous than the others, since some of our buns are more generous than others.

What a pretty, smooth join.

Yes, I am in the car at lunchtime modeling an almost finished hat.

I found that I could get 2 Messy Bun hats out of 1 skein.

So I have a whole pile of hats. Plus a smooth join that I have not seen anywhere else, so there’s that. If I had uncovered this 50 years ago, I think I would have been a much more confident knitter. And more confidence means you don’t model your hats in the car.

You just put them out on the Internet for random strangers.

An Estonian Influence Sock

March 8, 2017


It is bad to lose your sock recipe.

Twentyish years ago I saw a sock recipe in a knitting magazine. It was titled that it was an Estonian influence sock, and it was knitted in a solid with an Estonian influenced embroidery on the ankle section. It was a great fitting sock design.

I rewrote the pattern into my own verbiage.

I do a fair amount of rewriting for no good reason other than it satisfies some inner driven urge to make things right in my world. I’ve always had this problem with things in general. I can ignore really big issues, but I will obsess over tiny details, fussing and rearranging until I am satisfied. My mother said that I would “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel”. I have been known to correct errors in files that I am getting ready to delete. It’s like I feel like I owe the universe the opportunity to judge me in a favorable light. To be fair, I don’t do it a lot. It’s not a fatal flaw. I’ve met crazier people.

I think that it would be a good idea if I got rid of some more stuff. I have some excellent Shibui sock yarn that I bought on sale with the thought that I would turn around and sell it at a huge mark-up. That was over two years ago. Best laid plans. I could have made, like, ummm, $1 profit.

I started with the best formula that I could remember by casting on 56 stitches. I can remember this number, I suppose, because that is the year I was born. I joined in the round on my DPNs and knitted two and purled two until the tube was as long as my hand. Thereafter, my memory for making the heel was sketchy. I had lost my re-written recipe. (It was in one of my bags.)

I checked my copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Knitting Without Tears” and slogged my way through the heel-turning TWICE. (I’m not counting the third time.)


I didn’t like Elizabeth’s toe finishing. It’s a standard finish, and I wouldn’t like it not matter who recommended it. It reminds me the shape of my socks as a child, and of having to fold my too-long socks under to prevent a wad at the toe of my shoe. One thing should not equal another, but that is how it is with me.

I couldn’t remember precisely how to knit the toe decreases.  I couldn’t – still couldn’t – find the recipe, so I settled on a method that has resulted in a slightly too-short sock, which might be counted in the WIN column since there is no folding under.

Now that the sock is finished, I have located the recipe.

Perhaps Georgia will re-knit the toe for me.

Perhaps she will flap her furry little paws and fly to the moon.

Another Knitted Hat

October 18, 2015

Because the blog is my scrapbook. 

And I can’t remember details of projects. 

This knitted hat is knitted from the brim to the crown on a 16″ #9 circular. I used an acrylic worsted yarn throughout and added an eyelash yarn for the body. 

Cast on 64; join being careful not to twist. Work in ribbing K2, P2 for 1 1/4″. 

Add the eyelash yarn and knit in stockinette stitch, holding both yarns as one, until entire piece measures about 6″. 

Drop the eyelash yarn and knit one plain round, knitting the first two stitches together to reduce the stitch count to 63. 

Place a marker at the beginning of the round, and use Elizabeth Zimmermann’s swirled decrease, which will have 7 areas of decreasing as follows:

Knit 7, knit 2 together. 

Knit a plain round. 

Knit 6, knit 2 together. 

Knit a plain round. 

Knit 5, knit 2 together. 

At this point you will have 49 stitches on the circular (or double-points if you have switched over). This is the magic number you need on the needle(s) to start decreasing EVERY round. In other words, leave out the plain row, and continue knitting until you have 7 stitches left. 

Break the yarn, leaving maybe 6″ to draw through the 7 stitches, pull it up tightly, and secure the end on the inside by weaving it in. 

Weave in the yarn tail at the start of the hat, and clip all the yarn tails short. 

This should fit an older child’s head. 

At least, that’s the plan. 


The Fan & Feather

September 27, 2015

It’s a knitting design that you might see from years ago. It looks tricky as all get-out, but there’s only one pattern row in 4 rows of knitting.

Overall, there’s a scalloped edge that’s created by the pattern. It’s a natural feature and can’t be changed. Which now makes me wonder if there’s a short-row method where you start with a straight edge and work in the scallops. I think it will take someone smarter than me with fewer irons in the fire to figure it out.

Anyway, the pattern is worked in sets of 30. Let’s start with one pattern repeat for practice. Cast on 30 on straight needles.  Knit the first row. Turn your work and purl the second row. The third row is the pattern row made by purling two stitches together five times (thereby reducing 10 stitches to 5), then knitting one and throwing a yarn over ten times (thereby turning 10 into 20), and purling two together on the remaining 10 stitches (reducing 10 stitches to 5). For the fourth row, you will purl across.

That’s it. A lovely design created with 4 rows.

You will need to steam block this, so remove the cats from the bed and spread out your finished afghan.

Maybe that last part is just me.

After blockage, I cut pieces of yarn that were approximately 7″ long. I cut them from another skein that was variegated with white, pink, and baby blue. I threaded each length through an end stitch and tied an overhand knot so little hands can’t pull it out and eat it.

The afghan is baby blue but the iPhone changes the color sometimes and won’t allow editing to the correct color. (Insert your imagination here.)

I folded it in thirds lengthwise and put on a hanger and hung it in a wax myrtle for photos.


I think I used a size 9 circular and acrylic worsted. I believe I casted on 180 stitches. You can use any size that makes your heart happy. Happy knitting!


Sugar’s Christmas Cap

January 1, 2015

YoursTruly: Sugar, what do you want for Christmas, besides peace on earth?

Sugar: A new cap.

(insert foreboding music)

YoursTruly: (quietly) What color?

Sugar: Gray. My favorite color.

YoursTruly: Sugar, I’ve already made you 5 gray caps.

Sugar: I know, you’re right. It IS time for a new one.


Granted, 2 of them are gray tweed. But still. Gray.


I have cap issues. More importantly, I have yardage issues. I can knit a cap from one skein, but I like to use it all up, because wool is a liar.

Why is wool a liar? Because you knit the size cap you think you need, and Sugar gently washes it, and it shortens a bit. (Do not believe wool’s rough draft. It is a lie.) This bitty-bit of shortening makes it fit his head like an acorn’s cap, smallish and tight-fitting.

The first cap I knit for Sugar was a few years ago, and it had a swirled decrease on the crown, because I love Elizabeth Zimmerman’s mathematical decrease, and I can always remember the formula for the decrease, even though I dislike math intensely. Things stick in my head, except I’m not sure of the exact location of the car keys, but I am for certain that the keys are somewhere in the RV, unless they are in my pocket, which still counts as inside the RV.

This first cap did NOT shorten because he did not wear it except for the trying-on phase after completion. He ‘fessed up later that he could not wear it. The swirls, even though gray on gray, were too girly. I pointed out that he was in touch with his feminine side, but he still couldn’t wear it. I pointed out that no one was looking at his head, but he still couldn’t wear it.

The next cap had a crown that took the medieval form of a helmet. Couldn’t wear it. Too medieval-y. People looking, and all that.

The next one was a gray tweed yarn that he selected himself. I knitted it in ribbing of knit two, purl two, even though the throwing of the yarn between the knit/purl and the purl/knit increases my hand motion 50%. Fifty percent, people! I cast on at the edge and worked my way to the crown, facing the uncertain moment when I have to decide when to start the crown decreasing and still have enough yarn to finish. It was magnificent. He washed that sucker. Acorn cap.

More gray tweed yarn, and another hat later. I had figured out how to take the YarnHarlot’s pattern and rework it to knit it from the top down, instead of the edge up. I almost lost my mind working out the knit twos and purl twos at the beginning increasing part. (I think I ripped out and restarted seven times. Cursing was involved.) As I approached the end of the skein, I estimated how much yardage I would need to bind off, and it was a thing of beauty when it was finished. It was super long to allow for a cuff to turn up over the ears, and for shrinkage.

But time has passed and a new cap is wanted.

I had a great idea. (I just heard someone groan. Perhaps it was I.)

Can’t I make this thing easy? Can’t I start with two stitches, then increase each stitch by knitting into the front and the back, on each round? It would be a super fast way of getting the number of stitches I needed for the body of the hat. No counting would be needed because I’d mark the beginning of the round with a stitch marker.

This is not a recommended method. There is so much knitted fabric at the crown that it has no place to go except to bubble up and down, like the bottom of a two-liter bottle.

I modified this rapid increasing by adding a few rows of plain knitting in between the increase rows.

It worked out something like this:

Knit in the front and back of all stitches on the increase round until you get to the total count of 128 stitches on the needles. Y’all already know that you need to start with double-pointed needles. I used a #5. I like to switch over to a 16″ circular as soon as possible.

Start with 2 stitches. Increase front and back, making 4 on the needles.

Increase front and back, making 8 on the needles.

Increase front and back, making 16 on the needles.

I knitted one plain round here.

Increase front and back, making 32 on the needles.

I knitted one plain round here. I should probably have knitted two, but I’m not mathematical and I learn things the hard way, if at all.

Increase front and back, making 64 on the needles.

I knitted another plain round here. I probably should have knitted three or more. See above.

Increase front and back, making 128 on the needles.

Start the pattern part (if you can call it that) by knitting two and purling two. If you are a clever increaser, you will end the round properly with no hiccups, and will continue to knit two and purl two until the end of time, unless you begin to mistake your needles for tiny knives with which to stab yourself occasionally as punishment for the mind-numbing ribbing.

Near the end, I measure off a couple yards and see how many stitches I can knit with them, which will hopefully give me a good estimate of when to start the bind-off.

The happy news is that the yarn was wonderful to work with (with which to work?). The bad news is that the bind-off was too tight, according to Sugar’s head, which DOES get the final vote.

So I ripped back a few rows. Rather than simply binding off as loosely as possible, I tried a super-stretchy bind-off technique. I mentally grouped stitches in sets of 8. Knit two, purl two, knit two, purl one, and on the last purl stitch, purl in the back and the front. This added about 16 stitches (notice I say “about” because I’m calculating in my head) to the round. This gives you 144 stitches on the needle (I got out the calculator). Clearly this is more than a 10% addition but it can’t be helped, unless you like difficult math. And it didn’t matter, because the extra stitches gave me enough to bind-off the cap with enough stretchiness that it didn’t cause compression fractures to the wearer. ‘Cause that would be bad and will not earn the pattern maker a 5-star rating.



The top is still kind of Coke-bottle-bottom-y, but you can learn from my math. As opposed to a bottoms-up cap, I like how I don’t have to thread the yarn through the active stitches on the needle and tie them up tight. Breakage, and cursing, and all that. It’s a good, snug crown.



The yarn is by Swans Island Yarn, the All American Collection, Color Flagstone AAW402, Lot No. 103. The recommended needle size is a 7 US, 4.5 mm. Won’t these folks be happy, nay THRILLED, to see that I used a size 5. It’s 75% USA Rambouillet wool and 25% USA alpaca. I found this at Creative Yarns in Macon, Georgia, only a three hour drive from where I live, but you know. YARN. (Actually, I was meeting the BabyGirl so that I could pick up her dog. BG is a college smartypants professor and needed time to assess and grade her classes, because giving all A’s is unacceptable, and said dog is NEEDY.) I also bought a new circular needle in size 5, even though the clerk said most people use a size 7 for hats, because I’m a rebel like that.

I paid full price for this yarn, which I never do because I’m like an old-time quilter making do with scraps to create a thing of beauty and function, because.

SUGAR NEEDS A NEW CAP. And y’all?? This is the yarn to do it with (with which to do it).





An Unexpected Present

October 11, 2013

Oh, y’all, I just received the best present.

I went to a new Thai restaurant.  Somehow they knew I was a knitter.

They brought me a pair of knitting needles.  Squeeeeee!



Dyeing Yarns At Catcatcher Corner, Part 4; Or Plum Delicious

February 21, 2013

It appears that I’m going to need to dye each skein twice to make sure that the color saturates the yarn.

The latest color choice was neon purple.  When the dye was spotted onto the wet yarn in the processing bath, it made an odd hot pinkish spot.  After the first bath, the spots remained, and some of the yarn on the underside was light blue.

First dye bath, front of skein.

First dye bath, front of skein.

First dye bath, back of skein.

First dye bath, back of skein.

Let’s try another soak in another batch of dye.

Second dye bath.

Second dye bath.







That picnic table is really coming in handy.

Well, (t)Hat’s That, Then

February 14, 2013

Sugar needed a new, warm, knitted cap.

So I showed him a design I made using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s decrease system for the crown, and he didn’t like it.  The swirly-looking top was too girly for him.

I made up another decrease system, and the cap looked like a medieval helmet.  Yes, that’s right, because gray is the color he chose, and the top of the cap was slightly pointed-ish.

So I found this design on the Yarn Harlot’s website, and I knitted it in variegated greens, because he likes greens.  That served him well, but then he wanted another one.  Oh, yes, in gray.

He’s becoming quite the manly expert in choosing yarns.  He knows that only non-superwash wools will felt, after multiple times helping me chose yarn for a felting project, and I would reject his choice, saying, “It’s not wool.  It’s acrylic.  Won’t felt.”

Imagine my amusement one day at the yarn display when he picked up a skein, looked at the label, and said, “That’s acrylic.  That’s no good.” and tossed it back into the bin.  He not only listened, he remembered, and he repeated at the appropriate time.

Sugar likes the color gray.  He also likes blue and green, but he would like a yarn that is green, blue, and gray, which is nigh unto impossible to find.  Someday, someday, I might have the skills to make his wish come true, but for now, let’s remember that I’m dyeing yarn in a pasta pan.

So he chose a fisherman wool in gray and white.  I knitted along with no problem and produced a new cap.  There was a bit of yarn left over, not an enormous amount, but several yards, which I hate.  I hate leftover yarn.  I want to use it all up.

He washed the cap.  The next time I saw him, he clapped the cap on his head, and he looked a little bit like an acorn looks.  The acorn cap fits but it looks a little too small, too short.

What if I had used all the yarn up?  Maybe the cap wouldn’t have been a tad bit too short, because, let’s face it, caps are going to be washed.

I decided to knit another cap, this time starting from the top and knitting until I ran out of yarn.  I reversed Elizabeth Zimmerman’s 7-section decrease, and I cast on 7 stitches, joined these 7 stitches in a circle, proceeded to knit, and completely boogered up the increasing part.

I unknit, I reknit, I unknit at least 10 times.  I knew that the trouble was with the operator, not the equipment, and I gnashed my teeth and tore at my hair a bit every stinkin’ time I ripped it apart to simple yarn.  Cursed a bit, too, I did.

Finally, I got it so, so right that even I was satisfied, and I produced a hat over the course of a few days.  I used almost every bit of yarn.  I even did higher math to figure out how much yarn I needed to knit 20 stitches, and multiplied that number by 6, because there’s 120 stitches on the needes, and measured that amount of yardage back from the end of the yarn, added a yard as an insurance policy, and marked the place, so that I knew when I absolutely had to start binding off.  Confused?  Welcome to my world.





I *LIKE* it!

Dyeing Yarns at Catcatcher Corner

February 5, 2013

I have a brilliant idea.

For those of you who know me, I CAN HEAR YOU.  I hear you laughing.

For the rest of you, here we go.

Reader Sharon sent me some kettle-dyed yarns for my birthday.  I’d never seen kettle-dyed yarn before, and I LOVED it.  I wanted to learn more about it.

The particular yarn that she sent was “Maxima” by Manos del Uruguay, a co-op which empowers indigeneous women by giving them a world market for their kettle-dyed yarns.

I live pretty primitively here at the Swamped! Plantation and cat-catchin’ corner.  Why can’t I learn how to kettle-dye yarn?  Never mind that I don’t have an operating stove, much less a kettle.

I googled, then youtubed, and found several tutorials.  It seems like a science experiment with yarn and food dye.

Heat is an important factor in kettle-dyeing, as is water in a kettle, and some white vinegar.  And, of course, some undyed, natural yarn which I found from a supplier online.

I didn’t take pictures of the first experiment because I was afraid that it would end badly, and I didn’t want to disappoint my readers who have come to expect such a high standard of blog-worthy material.  You, over there.  Stop snickering.

I have a grill, and I supposed that I could make a fire in the grill, wait for the coals to settle, and heat up a container of water.  That sounded dangerous somehow, so I put my unique twist on it.

I bought two of those aluminum foil-like catering-style pans.  They looked big enough for a skein of yarn.  I’m wondering if the people in the grocery store who saw me doing higher math on the dimensions of the aluminum foil pans had any idea of the immensity of my project.

I found McCormick food dye which I have surely not used since I was a child and we dyed Easter eggs.  LilSis and I longed for those Paas Easter egg dyeing kits, and indeed sometimes we used those, and now it makes me wonder if the tablets would work on this project.  On second thought, probably not.

McCormick, in addition to the standard colors, makes a neon color set.  Oh, be still, my pounding heart.

I put an aluminum pan in my bathtub, because it’s cold outside, folks, and I am NOT making a fire in the grill, plus the wind had kicked up, and I could see this episode ending in a 911 call.  I arranged a skein of yarn in the bottom of the pan, and I heated 4 cups of water in my Procter-Silex electric cooking pot until boiling, and poured the boiling water in the middle of the pan so as not to disturb the yarn while adding a tablespoon of vinegar for each cup.  I sloshed the mix about, and swirled it gently with a plastic coffee stirrer and pressed down on the yarn with the back of a plastic spoon to get the yarn soaking wet.  At the same time, I’m heating another 4 cups of water until it boils.

I added the second 4 cups of water to the pan, remembering to add another 4 tablespoons of vinegar, and that made the water deep enough to cover the yarn.

Now here’s the fun part.  I took a dropper bottle of food dye, and added a drop of dye directly on to the yarn.  I had no idea that it was going to take an entire bottle of dye, even though the bottles are very small, but it seemed like the best way to go since it was premeasured and gave me a standard of measurement.

I let it sit in the pan in my bathtub until it was completely cool.  I might mention that I fell asleep and woke up about 10:30 PM, having forgotten about the yarn in the tub, what with old age and all that, and it was definitely cool.  Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid, rinse well, and hang to dry.  In my case, I hung the skein on a hanger over the pan still in the bathtub.

The yarn had completely absorbed the apple-green dye, and I’m sorry that I didn’t take photos of the before and during, only the after.




The yarn is 100% merino wool, the kind that shrinks and felts if washed in hot water and agitation, not the superwash kind.

I’m sending this skein to an internet friend in Massachusetts to work up and give me a report as to the viability of selling this product.  Any thoughts?


I don’t hear anyone laughing now.  Save it.  You’ll need it for the second episode of “Yarn Dyeing; in which there is drama”.

A Brilliant New Design, Or So Says YoursTruly

January 11, 2013

I want to keep my hands warm when I’m outside, but I want to be able to use my fingers and hands when I want to.

Gloves and mittens weren’t the answer.  I tend to drop things, and my gloves and mittens would need to be tied to me somehow.

If only I had some sort of handwarmer.







I took a #5 circular needle, a short one about 16 inches long, and I took some yummy Manos del Uruguay “Maxima” kettle-dyed yarn, and I cast on 56 stitches, joined to make a circle, and I knitted a simple ribbed tube, knitting 4 stitches, then purling 4 stitches.  Round and round endlessly until it was about 18 inches long, or about as long as it is from my fingertip to my elbow.

When I’m wearing a coat, I can tuck each hand into an opposite end, sort of like that rabbit muff that my godmother gave me when I was little.  Only this one is not on a string, and I can pull it off and stuff it in my pocket.

I’m actually pretty proud of myself.