Friday, September 29, 2006

Knitting with TWO Circular Needles

As much as I would like to take credit for the following post, this is not my own skills I am passing on today. I discovered this lesson in knitting with 2, count them, 2 circular needles and I feel obligated to pass this information on. It is too good.

I don't want to get myself in trouble for cutting & pasting the thing without permission, so just in case here is a link to the page that I found. (Just want to be on the up & up.)

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How to knit small circumferences with two circulars

You don't need double-pointed needles to knit small circumferences like sleeves, gloves, socks, and the top of hats. Instead you can use two circulars, which cuts the number of joins down to only two.

A few people have claimed credit for this neat trick; I think it's one of those things that occured to multiple people about the same time. I learned how to do it by reading a magazine article written by Joyce Williams (Summer 2000, Knitter's magazine). This page is an attempt to demystify the process even further, it's amazingly simple once you understand the concept.

Select your needles

You can use two circulars of any length; 16" through 29" seem to work the best. The two circulars in the photo below are both size 5 but they are two different lengths.

I prefer to use two needles with different cable lengths so I can always tell at a glance which needle I'm holding. As an added bonus I own two needles in the same size yet two different lengths so I'm better prepared for future projects. I can use the 16" circular to knit the body of a hat and the 24"/29" to knit a sweater.

If your two circulars are identical in brand and length (which makes them impossible to tell apart) you can place a marker after a few stitches have been worked on the first needle so you know the circular with the marker is needle #1. If you don't like slipping a marker every round then you can attach a safety pin or scrap yarn to the side with the first stitch of the round.

Casting on

Cast on the required number of stitches onto one circular.

The following tip for making a clean join is from Cat Bordi's Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, which contains several sock patterns written especially for this technique. The pink needle in the photo is actually a crochet hook, in case that wasn't obvious.

How it works

The concept is amazingly simple. You knit half the stitches on one circular and then knit the other half of the stitches using the second circular.

In the photo below the right-hand purple needle has been pushed through the first stitch on the left-hand purple needle. I am wrapping the yarn around the right-hand purple needle, just about to form the first stitch of the first round. Nothing tricky, this is exactly how you normally knit.

I want to be sure the first few stitches are snug against the background needle, to avoid ladders. After the first two or three stitches have been completed I can pull the background needle (in the photo above that is the green circular) so the resting stitches sit on the background circular's cable.

Slide the stitches waiting on the green circular's cable so they are resting on the left-hand green needle. Pick up the right-hand green needle and start knitting onto it. In the photo below three stitches have been knitted onto the right-hand green needle.

That's it! All you have to remember is that you pick up both ends of the same circular to work the stitches on that circular. Both ends of the other circular rest in the background until it's time to work those stitches.

If you're using this technique to knit socks you might find my Sock Knitting Tips page useful.

There is a variation on this technique that requires you to use one long (40") circular needle instead of two smaller circulars. The two techniques are similar, as you can see for yourself.

Hey Folks,

You may have known me in the past as a "knitchick" but I have decided to finally shake that girlie title and embrace my true knitting nature, that being...VENGEANCE! I work hard, play soft, and knit with a vengeance. The shirt don't lie. I'm one bad mutha...SHUT YO MOUTH. Ya dig?

To explain the whole "vengeance" thing, I first have to tell you about what started my desire to knit. When I was little my Nana (my British Grandmother) was trying to teach me to crochet. But after only a few short, but unsuccessful tries she took my hook from me and crushed my spirit by telling me that I would never figure out how to crochet (she wasn't the nicest of ladies). So, I always had something of a stigma attached to crocheting, but I wanted to be crafty so I decided I was going to learn how to knit. But since I never knew anyone else who could knit, I never got an opportunity to learn. Until...

About three years ago, when I had gone back to my crazy job at this market research firm in Sacramento after graduating from UC, Santa Cruz (Banana Slugs, Baby) I noticed my then co-worker, now friend, Angie, knitting a cute lavender hat/scarf combo at work. I immediately begged her to teach me. (Even though technically I wasn't supposed to befriend her because my boss had hired me back after 1 1/2 year absence to replace her w/o her knowledge but that is a story for another blog =P). Unfortunately, we struggled with the lessons because Angie is a lefty and although I exhibited ambidextrous tendencies as a child (my dad was a lefty and my mom is a righty) there are few things I can still do left-handed now-a-days. So, in my frustration I quit.

Nearly a whole year later, at an entirely different job (I had to get out of EB it was killin' me) another co-worker, Marita, saw me attempting to knit at lunch and asked me if I knew I was doing it wrong. She gave me a few tips for knitting and purling, and within a week I had also figured out how to stop increasing (on accident, that is). With renewed sense of confidence, I tackled some scarves, nothing special, and then took on the ambitious project of knitting a baby blanket for my nephew, Kobe, who was a few months old at the time. Well 6 months, and 4 complete unravels later I finally finished it just a day before his 1st birthday. Happily, he still uses it, and it is still intact after a year and a half or so.

Sweet little Kobe with his 1st birthday blanket

In the last 2 years or so of knitting, I have improved a great deal but I still consider myself a beginner. I can finally knit with DPNs and my beanies are some of my favorite projects so far. My next big undertaking is a hooded sweat shirt from the Stitch n' Bitch book but there are still some scarves and beanies for friends in the queue. In the mean and in-between time though I will continue to be a hard core knitter and keep this blog running on all things knitting!


Thursday, September 28, 2006

For your viewing pleasure... some of my early works!