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Magic Loop Tutorial

January 23, 2016

paperdoll gloves magic loop

I have had several requests lately for help in using the Magic Loop method for knitting in the round.  It can be a little daunting to learn.  Since I use Magic Loop so much, I want to help spread the love!  So I made a video (at bottom of post). I hope this video explains things in a way that makes it easier for you to understand, if you are struggling with it.

After you have knit with the method for a while, it becomes super easy.  Some people think Magic Loop involves a lot of fiddling with pulling the needles, etc., but I can knit very fast this way and it becomes second nature.

chinook on magic loop

With Magic Loop, you can try your work on for size!  Try doing that with DPNs – doesn’t work so well

 

There are some reasons I love Magic Loop so much for knitting things in the round:

  1. No DPN (double point needle) tips sticking out! I hate working around those.
  2. Your work isn’t in danger of falling off when you have it on the circular cable (shown on video).  When I put my knitting down, I just slip the work from the needles onto the cable and it’s safe as can be.
  3. If you’re knitting something like a mitten in the round, you can actually slip your work from the needles onto the cable and try the mitten on for size! A big plus.
  4. Makes it super simple to knit something tiny like a thumb or finger.  If you use DPNs, you have to get teeny tiny DPNs to do this and it’s a hassle.
  5. Even if I have a very long circular needle, I can knit a variety of sizes on it, because the cable part just dangles.

 

 

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In this video, I’m using 32″ circular needles, which is a great average size for a variety of different projects.  My favorite circular needles are always Addi Lace. They are super smooth and super sharp, resulting in work that just glides along and needle points that are inserting easily for knitting.

One thing I failed to mention in the video (sorry!) is a helpful little tip:  After you get your project going, the dangling tail yarn becomes your “marker” for the beginning of your work and to tell you where the right side of the work is. This is helpful in case you forget if you have knit half of the round or all of the round – if the tail yarn is dangling on the right, you have completed a round.  Sometimes if you are knitting a project that is just a single solid color, you can get mixed up.

tail end on the left:  you are in the middle of a row.
tail end on the right:   you are at the beginning of a row.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section or email me. Good luck and enjoy Magic Loop!

Elaine

 

 

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Kirkwood Scarf WIP

December 6, 2015

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I am knitting.   I have a lot going on, that’s for sure, with the holidays, December birthdays, the food blog and this new project.  But I am sneaking in some knitting, of course. So I just wanted to give you a little peak of my WIP.  It’s called Kirkwood and it’s by Julie Hoover for  Brooklyn Tweed.  I love Jared Flood, who started Brooklyn Tweed and I’ve been following him forever, before he got really well known, when he was writing this tiny little blog about his knitting life in NYC (if you have time, it’s fun to go back through his archives). And then I received a thank you gift from my son’s lovely and thoughtful girlfriend and guess what it was?  A Brooklyn Tweed pattern with five skeins of Shelter!  Squeeeee! And she purchased it from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, no less, on Bainbridge! Makes it even more special.

Hope you’re making something!
Elaine

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Honey Tapestry Mittens

October 4, 2015

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How I love this mitten pattern.  I just finished these for my future daughter-in-law’s birthday.  I love the two-color knitting pattern  and it has a lining, which makes them so warm. They took me quite a long time to knit, but were so worth the effort.

Instead of the I-cord cast on, I did a picot hem cuff, which I took from Post War Mittens.  I really like it.  And I love the contrast between the stark black and the honey/white of the mitten.

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These were knit in the beautiful wool from Quince, a wonderful little company in Maine that makes U.S. yarn.  The yarn is super soft, squishy and a joy to work with. The lining is a blend of super warm alpaca/wool, Berocco Alpaca Light.  So these mittens have a good three layers of warmth!

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I knit them entirely in Magic Loop, which I love for mittens.  You can try the mittens on for size as you go, unlike if you use double points.  It’s also great for the thumbs.  I use Addi Lace circulars and they are so pointy that picking up stitches is a breeze.

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Tapestry Mittens
Needles: Addi Lace Circulars #4, #2, #1
Yarns:  Quince Chickadee n Honey and Egret
Berroco Alpaca Light in Black
Ravelry Page

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Crocheted Jewelry Tray

August 3, 2015

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Here is another project from one of my favorite little places to visit on the web:  The Purl Bee.  It’s a crocheted jewelry tray and was so easy and fun to make – and quick. I loved working with that small hook and really stiff thread.  I used some of my wonderful natural linen thread from Lithuania that I got off of Etsy.  It’s sooo nice and I love the colors.  I used two different colors and held it double.

After I finished it, I sprayed it with starch, shaped it and let it set overnight.  I love it so much I may have to make the other versions – a circular and a rectangular.

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Pattern:  Crocheted Jewelry Dishes
Yarn:  Lithuanian Linen, fingering and lace
Hook:  2.25 (B)
Ravelry Page

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Tapestry Mittens

April 25, 2015

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I do love a good mitten pattern and this new one I found might be my favorite yet. The Northman Mitten is right up there, though.  There’s a couple of things I look for in a good mitten pattern:  it has to have a decent thumb (either an afterthought thumb or a thumb with a gusset)  and it has to be a two color pattern.  This pattern has both and it also has a lining, which is really nice. And it was a really fun knit.

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This pattern is from Elinor Brown, a knitting pattern designer who I was always in awe of because she designed all these wonderful patterns and did all this knitting while attending medical school.  The pattern gives three sizes for the mittens.  I knit the Medium and I thought they seemed just right for the average woman’s hands.

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I chose to use Quince Chickadee for the outer mitten yarn so that the pattern had a lot of stitch definition.  It’s a 100% wool yarn.  Sometimes, in the past, when I have used a wool and alpaca blend for an outer mitten, the alpaca fuzzes up a little too much and the pattern becomes a little blurry.  But I like the warmth of alpaca so I used that for the inner mitten.

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Two color knitting is so fun and it’s addictive to watch your pattern coming off the needles.  When I knit in two colors, I hold one yarn (the contrast color) in the left hand and knit Continental with that and I hold the other yarn (the background color) in the right hand and knit English on that side.  It took some practice to learn, but it’s natural for me now and very fast.  if you hold the contrast yarn in the left hand, it becomes dominant in the finished knitting. The background color is held in the right hand, and stays in the background.

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I knit all my projects in the round on circular needles using Magic Loop instead of double points.  It makes it very easy to try on the project and assess sizing as you go. Plus I hate all the double points sticking out and having to work around them.  And it makes knitting the thumbs very easy.

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The only thing I did not totally love on this pattern was the i-cord cast on. The result just wasn’t worth the aggravation. If I knit another pair of these (and I will) I’m going to do a different kind of cuff – maybe a picot edge.

Pattern: Tapestry Mittens
Needles:  US#4, #2 and #1 Circular Addi Lace
Yarn:  Quince Chickadee in Frost & Storm and Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light in Viola for inner mitten
Ravelry Page

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Sideways Garter Stitch Vest

March 28, 2015

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this vest is vertically reversible!

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If you do not subscribe to Purl Soho’s e-mail newsletter, you really should.  This great little shop in New York’s Soho neighborhood puts out an awesome mailing that includes free patterns.  That is where I saw this pattern for a vest that is done entirely in garter stitch.  It caught my eye right away, so I looked it up on Ravelry to see how  many people were knitting it and what their creative spins on it might be. One great feature of this vest is that you can turn it upside down and wear it the other way, with the contrasting color on top.  Each way gives you a different size collar.

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This was such an easy project to knit – it’s just one big rectangle of garter stitch -but it does require doing afterthought armholes, which I kind of love doing.  I’ve done a lot of afterthought thumbs for mittens and afterthought heels for socks, so I know the technique well.

You just knit a length of contrasting waste yarn across the required number of stitches, slip these stitches back to the left needle and knit in your regular yarn.  This leaves you with this contrasting yarn embedded into your piece:

gartervestafterthoughtarmholes

To make the armholes, you slip your stitches just under your waste yarn, picking up one leg from each stitch underneath:

pickingupstitchesgartervest

Here are the stitches on the needles after they are all picked up, both below and above the waste yarn:

afterthoughtarmhole

Now you can get rid of the waste yarn by just picking it out and cutting it as you go to remove it:

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Now it’s a matter of just binding off those stitches you just picked up:

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After they are all bound off, behold – an armhole:

gartervestarmhole

It’s really pretty easy.  A lot of people on Ravelry decided not to do Afterthought Armholes and, instead, just bound off the stitches as they knitted the garment but as I understand it, this method does not make as nice an armhole.  I guess the tension can vary too much.

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I really love this vest.  It turned out with a very nice drape – I used a Made in Michigan yarn called Shepherd’s wool that I really love.

Pattern:  Sideways Garter Vest
Needles:  US # 8 Addi Lace 40″ circulars
Yarn: Shepherd’s Wool in Pewter and Black
Ravelry Page

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Cozy Mittens Knitted Flat

January 5, 2015

cozy-mittens

This has to be the craziest pattern for mittens I’ve ever seen – and the easiest. Mittens are almost always knitted in the round, on circular needles or DPNs, but these are knitted flat – and not a mirror image flat, like you would think and then just folded together.  When I first saw these, I couldn’t figure out how they were seamed up, so when I knitted them I took photos to show you how to fold them.

mitten-laid-flat

mitten-knitted-flat

 

The pattern calls for  these mittens to be knitted with worsted weight yarn.  When I did a mitten the first time, they were way too thin and way too small.  So I experimented and knitted another mitten with the same worsted weight yarn, only held double and they were perfect!  As I was knitting the piece, it looked huge, but after it was seamed together, it was just right.  It makes a double thick, warm mitten this way and the cuff comes up a full 3.5 inches on my wrist.  They’re a nice size.

one-cozy-mitten

 

After you knit the flat piece, the mittens are folded up by seaming them together with a crochet hook, contrasting yarn and using single crochet. This was simple as could be – but a couple of tips for you: the pattern says to do it in two intervals, by crocheting across the top and down to the thumb and then cutting the yarn and then crocheting up the rest. I did mine in one pass – I started at the top and crocheted all the way to the bottom and then went around the cuff.  Also, the single crochet looks better on one side than the other – so be sure to begin it with the top of the mitten facing you.  You can see the sequence in these photos:

 

crocheting-around-mitten

 

Fold the mitten together, aligning the top halves. Crochet the two halves together along the top. After you crochet down to the the thumb crotch (above), turn the whole piece over:

 

joining-thumb-with-crochet

 

now flip up the thumb on the left (above), 

 

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then fold over the thumb on the right to match the thumb on the left and continue to single crochet them together (above)

 

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crochet down the thumb, the lower side seam and then just continue right around the cuff.

I hope these photos help you if you want to knit these.  These mittens knit up incredibly fast!  I loved this pattern.

cozy-mittens-twoshot

Pattern: Cozy Mittens
Yarn: Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash Worsted, held double, Doeskin Heather
Malabrigo Merino in Indigo
Needle:  US #8, circular, Addi Lace
Ravelry Page

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