Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two for One

So goes 'Le Grand Plaid' the epic saga of wool, needles and many days spent together.

I know for a fact that some of my lurkers are wannabe knitters and I thought you would get a kick out of the steps involved in a knitting project à la Bergère.

My Regal Briggs & little 100% wool (wool-tyme) is bought in a skein like this. I don't recommend you cast-on from this point because you would end up in a mess.

The skein is a big twist of lush wool that once untwisted should be held just so you can proceed to wind into a ball. I happen to have a 'swift' to hold my skein but a second set of arms or chair or knees could do the trick. A 'Swift' opens like an umbrella and easily turns as the yarn is pulled into a ball.
Here is a picture of one of my ball-winders. A vintage one like the above vintage swift that I got as a cool birthday gift from the lady that taught me the craft. Very cool.

Once you crank the yarn completely off the swift you get a pretty gorgeous 'cake' or ball of yarn. One end of the yarn comes out from the middle (this is the one I use to knit with) the second end of yarn is tucked-in on the outside of the cake. This is a good way to keep kids busy should you be trying to do this on the weekend, by the way.

You can buy this equipment at good yarn shops or on the net. You may use the ones they have on staff at the local yarn shop when you buy a skein from the store if you are well taken care of. Good customer service means big bucks cause knitting can be pricey if you like the 'good stuff' and come back for more.

Usually, it is best to buy all the yarn required to swatch and knit up your project. This time, I decided to buy my wool in batches. This gives me the excuse to go back for another visit and stretch the yarn money over time. This project is knit in squares to be sewn up later. If the dye lots are not all the same it only adds a little zing to the finished product in this case. I am nothing if not pragmatic.

Swatch 1

This blanket requires stranded knit colourwork squares.
I used 4.5mm needles for my first swatched square but I found it unreasonably small. The down side to stranded colourwork are the actual strands on the wrong side that are pretty in there own right but could get caught on toes and fingers as a blanket.
The wrong side rows of such work are done in reverse stocking stitch which I find to be insane when two or more yarns are in use.

I decided I wanted to have a crack at 'Doubeknitting' the squares to see if I could master this new-to-me technique. This means I get to knit every row as a right side row. Yay! Much like knitting with circular needles to avoid the back and forth of straights.

I end up with two sides to my square at once. Extra warmth and pretty any way you look at it.

For my next attempt, I used 5mm needles for Swatch 2.

To set up my double knit square, I cast-on twice the amount of stitches. Got used to the feeling of having four thumbs and one finger. Knit my chart both sides at the same time by knitting two stitches for one square of the chart. I had to keep both yarns in the right place at all times. Kitchener stitch or graph the finished edge and voilà!

The Gauge, I admit, is way off and the square is loose so I will swatch a third square using 4.5mm again. Crossing my toes since my fingers are kinda busy at this point.

Thanks for tuning in!
P.s. I have cast-on a new sock for Gazou. I used the jogless seam trick for the stripe and it works like magic, more about that next time.


1 comment:

Anneh said...

Wow, I love the double-knit version! That is going to be an amazing project...I'l be watching to see how it goes.
Also, you may want to check out the Vest-uary group on Ravelry. It's a KAL to knit any vest in February.
Keep the knitting faith!