Knitting in the Round

I was helping a friend cast on for an icelandic sweater this weekend.  She is an experienced knitter,  but has not been knitting for the past couple of years.  I was surprised to learn that she has never used a circular needle to knit in the round.  As I was expressing all the reasons I prefer circular needles for almost all my knitting, it occurred to me that some of you may not be aware of the benefits of using circular needles and knitting in the round.  Listed below are the reasons I love using circular needles and knitting in the round.

  1. I never have to worry about stopping in the middle of a row.  I am always knitting when I have a free moment.  I will pick up my knitting even if I only have 2 or 3 spare minutes.  On straight needles, it’s hard to put your knitting down except after completing a row.   When knitting in the round, I’m essentially never in the middle of a row where I have to worry about my stitches coming off the needle.  I can stop and restart at any point in the round without worrying about losing stitches.
  2. My needles don’t stick out so far to the side.  This feature is especially important when I’m knitting in close quarters, like on an airplane.  Straight needles tend to poke out farther laterally than a circular needle.  I’ve also found circular needles work better in a cozy recliner where the straight needles often hit the cushion on the side of the chair.
  3. You’re always knitting on the right side.  That means in stockinette stitch, every stitch is knit.  I don’t mind purling , but my tension is never perfectly matched between knit and purl stitches.  When I knit stockinette in the round, I find the tension is more consistent.  Always knitting on the right side also helps me spot and correct errors more quickly as I can constantly see my evolving project from the right side as I knit.
  4. I don’t have to keep track of the nonworking needle.  Have you ever had your nonworking needle fall out of your bag?  I have, and it’s a very frustrating situation.  I’ve always been able to find the needle (usually in my car) but sometimes can’t continue my knitting right away until I locate the missing needle.

I hope my friend, and some of you, will give come to enjoy circular needles like I do.

Class Review: Mastering Lace Shawls

I am so pleased with this Craftsy Class I purchased.  ” Mastering Lace Shawls”  with Laura Nelkin has been a lot of fun.  I didn’t know much about the class when I purchased it.  When I started the class, I realized that you actually knit 2 shawls during the class.  Thus, the purchase price of the class also includes 2 shawl patterns.

It has been so helpful to knit with Laura step by step.    She goes over all the basic techniques for knitting lace.  She covers yarn choice, and actually shows an example of a shawl knit with a beautiful yarn, but one that detracts from the beauty of the lace pattern.  She covers placing and removing lifelines.  She also instructs on fixing errors in lace.  She shows you how to read a lace chart.  She also goes through each different section of the shawl in detail.

Her shawl design is clever.  The first shawl is “Skywalker”.  Each section adds additional or more complicated elements to lace knitting.  By the end of each section I find myself comfortable and ready to move on to a greater challenge.

Laura Nelkin is practical and funny.   She often wears her own knit shawls during the class and it’s fun to see the different ways she wears them.  At the end of the class she will cover how to wear your handmade shawls.  I haven’t gotten to that section yet but am really looking forward to it.

I love the knit-along format of the class that goes totally at my own pace.  I often knit at odd times and in many different places.  I love that I can do this knit-along when and where I have time.   I am about half way through the first shawl and already feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth on this class.  I have no link to Craftsy, therefore, I feel I can be unbiased in saying I can highly recommend this class.  This is the fourth Craftsy online class I have taken and I have been totally satisfied with all of them.  Craftsy has frequent class sales so you can get a good deal if you’d like to take a class.

Weaving in Yarn Tails in Garter Stitch

I feel much more confident giving my hand knit items as gifts now that I know a better method for weaving in yarn tails.  Ideally, you want yarn tails to be secure, yet invisible.  You also want to avoid affecting the stretch of the fabric with your yarn tails.  Following, is the method I use for weaving in yarn tails in garter stitch.  I used a red yarn tail for illustration purposes.

On the wrong side of the fabric, find a purl bump.  Bring your yarn tail through the hole on the right side of the purl bump.  The needle is under the purl bump in this picture just to illustrate the bump I am talking about.







Next, bring the yarn down on the other side of the purl bump and insert into the purl bump one garter ridge below.








Next, insert yarn onto left side of lower purl bump, and then underneath the same upper purl bump you started on.








Continue in the same fashion using the purl bumps to guide your stitches.








The final result, is two sets of purl ridges that lie on top of purl ridges that are already there.  Therefore, the stitches are hidden and should have minimal effect on the stretch of the fabric since they follow stitches that are already present.

Love Lopi

My friend and colleague recently brought me back some Lopi yarn from Iceland.   My officemates could not understand why I was so excited about this yarn.  I thought I would share some of the finer attributes of Lopi with you, the knitting community.  Lopi yarn comes exclusively from Icelandic sheep.  This breed of sheep is old and pure or “unaltered”.  This breed is hearty and has done so well in the past due to 3 main attributes:  Excellent fiber,  milk and meat.  I am not fan of lamb to eat, but I do love cheese and of course, I love fiber.






The Icelandic sheep have a double coat.  The outer coat, or Tog is long, wavy and water repellent.  The inner coat, or Thel is soft, fine and warm.  The Thel lends the loft to Lopi yarn.  Lopi yarn is created when fibers from both the inner and outer coats are spun together.  The resulting fiber is warm, light and water resistant.  Lopi yarn is also wonderful for felting.  The two main types of Lopi are Alafoss (bulky weight) or Lett lopi, or lopi light (aran weight).   Lopi performs very well in stranded color work which is part of the traditional Icelandic sweater.  Traditional colors are natural, gray, brown and black.  However, Lopi is now available from venders abroad and in the U.S. and in a wide range of colors.

My friend also brought back some Icelandic wool/thai silk combination yarn and asked me to knit her Drachenfels.  I am improvising a bit since her total yardage is correct but she supplied 5 colors instead of 3.  As I work the yarn,  I find it a bit scratchy, but very light and warm as it sits on my lap.  I can’t wait to plan out the project for my Lett Lopi yarn.   I also hope some day to  travel to Iceland myself to explore the Icelandic sheep and fiber first hand