Category Archives: Magic Loop

Two socks at once – double the fun!

After I’d finished with my Halloween projects last fall, I finally had time to try something I’d been wanting to learn for a while. You see, I still had never finished the second sock of the pair that I’d started last spring for my middle daughter – yes, the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. So whether or not I did ever finally get myself to complete that pair, I wanted to learn how to knit two socks at the same time so I wouldn’t have to deal with this ever again.

It made sense to go back to a pattern that I’d already made – the basic Winter Sock from the Magic Loop book. The pattern’s already set up for Magic Loop, and it’s a quick knit since it uses worsted weight yarn. I chose a solid colored yarn so I didn’t have to worry about matching stripes or anything, and got started.

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I’d been somewhat intimidated by this whole process, especially the idea of using two balls of yarn at the same time. Having seen several different ideas on how to manage them – everything from using both ends of a single skein, to putting separate balls into individual baggies or bags to keep them from tangling, I thought for a while and then finally just ended up purchasing two separate skeins and doing my best to keep them separated.

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I was actually impressed by how easy it was to keep the yarns separated – even considering that I took this project with me when traveling. I just left the skeins in a bag under the seat in front of me and pulled out enough slack to keep working as I went. Easy-peasy!

As always, YouTube was my friend on this entire process, and I got some additional help from other sites as well. Once I got the socks cast-on, the actual process was easy to pick up – my biggest hurdle came when I had to figure out in what order and how to pick up the stitches along the insteps and get everything situated from the back-and-forth of the heel flaps and turnings to circular knitting again. That part was the hardest to figure out and I didn’t quite do it right – I finally gave up as I got close to the toe decreases and simple resituated everything by using some stitch holders to move the stitches to where they were supposed to be.

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Here are the videos and sites that I found especially helpful – one of these days I want to get back into doing videos again so that I can make left-handed versions of how to do a lot of these projects. Having to turn everything around in my head just adds a whole extra level of difficulty when learning something new!

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It was so nice to finish the project and not have the second sock looming out in front of me! And these two are identical – even down to the row near the top of the cuff where I accidentally messed up slightly on the pattern. I didn’t have to try to remember how long I made each sock or compare to make sure they’d end up the same size – all of that worked out perfectly. And these are nice warm, cozy socks for me to wear this winter too!

I think I’m still in my sock obsession – they’re a small, portable project that’s a fairly quick knit and there’s a lot of variety in patterns. Plus they’re extremely practical. I don’t foresee knitting all of my socks from now on, but it’s fun to have three pairs that I’ve now knit for myself.

And more to come, I’m sure.

Hellos and Harry Potter

Well hello there (blows a little dust off the edge of the site). It’s so nice to see you again – yes, I know it’s been a little while. I’m full of excuses but basically it’s been summertime and nope, there hasn’t been a whole lot of knitting going on around here. I could blame Mother Nature for the horrendously hot weather we’ve had – even with air conditioning, I just wasn’t feeling like having any kind of yarn in my lap at all.

But I’m back – and with a new project already started too. I traveled to California a little over a week ago and wanted something work on other than that darned second sock that I just can’t seem to ever get up the motivation to finish. I wanted something simple and easy with little or no counting involved so I could just sit and listen to my iPod and knit on the plane or during layovers.

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This coincided quite well with my 8-year-old daughter deciding to be Hermione from the Harry Potter series for Halloween this year – she’s read all of the books, seen all of the movies and is very into Harry Potter mania right now. So I thought that a Gryffindor scarf in scarlet and gold stripes would be a good project to tackle and there’s plenty of time before Halloween to get it done.

I went with the least expensive yarn that I could find, instead of using a superwash wool, as I wanted to. Budget constraints, sigh. But acrylic will wear and wash well and since my daughter wants to wear the scarf this winter as well as on Halloween, that’s a good thing. So I went with Impeccable yarn from Loops & Threads. I like the dark red color that I found – the ‘gold’ is more of a yellow, but it’ll work out ok, I think.

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I searched Ravelry and on Google to find a basic pattern, and realized that the scarf really does need to be double-sided to be more authentic. I picked a pattern that I found on LeakyCauldron.org and adapted it a bit since my only size 6 circular needle is in use right now. I went with size 7 needles and made the scarf a little thinner – I cast on 58 stitches instead of 70. And I’m making each stripe 20 rows long instead of 22, working in rounds using magic loop so both sides of the scarf will be in stockinette stitch. When it’s done, I’ll close the loop ends by adding fringe on both sides.

I’m going to be getting very cozy with these colors – my oldest daughter has already requested a scarf as well!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week -2KCBWDAY2: Skill + 1UP

One of the knitting-related blogs that I’ve discovered lately is called Eskimimi Knits, and I love seeing all of her projects. I also found out that she’s doing this great project called Knitting and Crochet Blog Week – which is a fun way to get a lot of crafty bloggers to all blog on certain themes and get to know each other better all week. I’m so glad that I found out about it just in time to participate! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up every day – if you’re a knitting or crocheting blogger (you don’t have to have a blog dedicated to it), why doing you join in too? :)

HannahInShrug_001Today’s topic (2KCBWDAY2) is about where your skill level is at compared to this time a year ago. Hmm, a year ago was when I was desperately trying to finish the second shrug in time for my sister-in-law’s wedding. My older girls were to be the flower girls, and given that early April weather in Michigan can be extremely chilly, I had decided to knit them each a shrug to wear over their sleeveless dresses.

Of course, wouldn’t you know it – but the weather was absolutely gorgeous, 70’s and sunny… The shrugs didn’t get worn then, except on the way home that night – but they have been worn a few times this winter: to church, at Christmas, and most recently when the girls went to a Father-Daughter dance last month.

I learned a lot of techniques while working on the shrugs – short rows, wrapping and turning, picking up stitches, and some things about sizing and gauge since these were my first knitted garments. Since then, I’ve mostly focused on socks and gloves almost exclusively, with a couple of hats thrown in from necessity. Here are a few techniques I’ve picked up:

  • Sock-making in general – the basic construction of socks, and how to do a standard cuff-down socks with heel flap. And how to turn the heel – something that intimidated me for a long time but is really quite easy once you try it. :)

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  • Magic Loop – which I love! No more dpns for me.  I’ve also successfully converted a pattern meant for dpns to magic loop – the fingerless/convertible gloves I finished recently (see photo below).

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  • Kitchener stitch/grafting. Not to mention glove construction, and converting a pattern to magic loop.

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  • Crocheted flowers – I consider this a new technique since I hadn’t done flowers before, nor had I crocheted in several years at all.

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  • Provisional cast-on – I’m still not totally sure that I ‘get it’, but I’ve done it successfully once, so that’s got to count for something.

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That really is kind of a short list – but I’m still proud of what I’ve accomplished over the past year. I’m a lot more comfortable with my needles and yarn in general, and I think I’m a bit faster too. There’s so much more that I want to learn – I’ll talk about that more later on this week. :)

Come back tomorrow to hear how organized my knitting life is (or isn’t)!

OTN: Two projects at once

Stop the presses – I’m actually working on more than one thing at a time!

Well, kind of. Since I got kind of stalled out on the second glove that I was making and found that I was going crazy without some type of project to work on while waiting… I tend to be more of  a project-driven knitter, so I usually only work on one thing and not start anything new until the last one is done.

I ran out of yarn for the glove – or rather I knew I would run out of yarn, and as the color scheme began to not match as closely as I’d hoped, I figured that I would have a better chance of matching things up if I got the new skein of yarn now. But since the LYS was out of that particular color in the Mini Mochi yarn, I’ve had to wait for them to order more.

So here sits Glove #2 – but since we’ve had a weather warm-up this week, it hasn’t been a huge deal not to have these gloves done yet. I’m sure it will get colder again though (it is only February still…) – so I’ll certainly get some time to wear them after the second one is finished.

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What project did I start while I’m waiting? The one that I had put off when the weather turned so cold that I decided to do the gloves first – namely a pair of socks that I’d promised my 8-year-old. I didn’t have a size 1 circular needle to use for them at the time anyway, so I knit the gloves while saving up for and ordering one from KnitPicks. I’d been wanting to try out their Options metal needles and they’re cheaper than the Addi Turbo ones I was buying before (and love). Plus I’d heard that the KnitPicks cables are better suited to Magic Loop, so I was curious.

I’ll post my thoughts about the needle later on. But it’s working out very well so far and after several attempts (and frogging), I have the first sock moving along. It took me a little while to get a handle on the gauge – especially since I tend to knit tighter in the round than I do when knitting flat, so knitting a gauge swatch involved pretty much just starting the sock and knitting several rounds to see how it was going. More than once, until I got the number of stitches that I needed to start with figured out. I like this sock pattern – it’s from the book, Sensational Knitted Socks, and is one of the “Chevron Patterns for Self-Striping Yarn”. I’m adapting it for Magic Loop, since that’s the one method that the book doesn’t cover (it includes instructions for 4dpns, 5 dpns or 2 circulars). The yarn is called ‘Ty-Dy Socks’ from Knit One crochet too and this color is called ‘Cherry Cola’. So far it’s nice to knit with, although the yarn does tend to split a bit more than I like.

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I’m going to be sad to put the socks on hold while I finish up the second glove, but I do want to get some time to actually wear the gloves a bit before spring, so they’re a little higher priority right now. I do like that these are small enough projects though that I can fit both of them in my small knitting bag at the same time. :)

Knitted glove update

I’m almost done with the first glove! It’s really a very easy pattern and so much easier to do using Magic Loop than trying to juggle a bunch of dpns on the fingers. There’s really only one kind of issue that I’m having – and that has to do with the yarn I’m using for it.

The Mini Mochi yarn is gorgeous – all in a rainbow of pastel colors. But unlike other self-striping or variegated yarns, this one doesn’t have a pattern that repeats – at least nothing’s repeated yet that I’ve come across. The colors just slowly blend into one another. It worked out fine as I knitted the cuff of the glove and then worked my way up the hand. And even into the first finger. But then when I cast off that first finger and went to join the yarn for the second one, I realized that the yarn color had moved past where it had been when I left the rest of the finger area stitches off. So I was basically joining an entirely new color. And it was the same way for the rest of the fingers and now the thumb as well. So instead of a glove whose colors slowly blend upward along the whole thing, I’m ending up with one that has multi-colored digits.

It’s not horrible, by any means. I’ve seen glove patterns that call for different colors in the fingers and thumb like this. It’s just not what I’d really planned on for this particular pattern. And I have to laugh – when I rejoined the yarn to the thumb gusset to finish knitting the thumb – I was up to a fairly bright green. Giving me literally – a ‘green thumb’.  ;)

I decided that I’m going to knit this pattern as a ‘convertible glove’ and add the flap that will cover the fingers when I want it to, so my fingertips won’t freeze when I’m wearing them. And the flap will fold backward when I need my fingertips available to use with my phone, or whatever else. I’m kind of curious to see what color I’ll be up to in the skein when I get to the flap.

As for the second glove, I’m not sure yet. I don’t know if I’ll have enough yarn left in this skein to make a whole other glove. And even if I do – I kind of want the colors to match up. I may have to try and track down another skein of this yarn in this color pattern and hope that the colors transition the same way they are in this skein.

One thing’s definitely for sure – you won’t be able to miss my hands when I’m wearing these!  ;)

I’m curious – has anyone worked with Mini Mochi yarn before? Does every skein in a particular color have the same color transition? Or should I just plan on two gloves with similar but different color patterns? Thanks!

What’s there to do when snowed in…

But knit, of course! :)

I finally started a new project tonight – it took a little while for me to figure out what I wanted to do. And I’ll probably end up with 2 things going concurrently just so I don’t run into this whole thing again of not having anything to work on once I finish something.

Well, technically I do still have a baby washcloth that I started months ago, but for some reason I completely have lost interest in working on those. Maybe because I don’t know anybody who’s pregnant right now, so don’t have anyone to give them to. And I never did finish the smock top – but by the time summer rolls around again, it would be way too small for my youngest daughter, so I can’t really summon up the energy to get it done. I’m still really in sock and Magic Loop mode and want to keep working on those.

But what I started tonight isn’t a sock! I’m expanding my horizons yet again – this time in two ways. First, I’m adapting a pattern that’s written for dpns to Magic Loop – or at least attempting to do so. We’ll see how that goes. And I’m doing this for a type of project I’ve never made before – a fingerless glove.

Why fingerless? I realized on Black Friday as I stood out in the bitter cold, waiting in line outside of various stores while attempting to use the touchscreen on my iPhone, that touchscreens and cold temperatures don’t mix very well. I kept having to take my glove completely off, and my whole hand was freezing by the time I’d put my phone away each time. So I’ve had the idea of making fingerless gloves lurking around in my head since, and decided this is the right time to try – I was always intimidated by the idea of attempting fingers with dpns before, but I think Magic Loop will work a lot better for that.

I found a pattern that I downloaded – it’s from a physical book, but by downloading the book instead of purchasing a paper copy, it was very cheap. And I can load the pattern on my e-reader and my phone so I don’t even have to print out a physical copy of it either. It’s from a Paton’s book – Next Steps Seven: Mittens and Gloves, and I’m glad to have some good mitten patterns now too. The fingerless glove pattern also includes an option for a flap to use to cover the fingers with – I don’t know if I’ll attempt that right now or not.

IMG_1000000219I’m using a skein of yarn that I’d bought last fall, thinking I’d try it for socks – but I only bought one skein, and when I was at the LYS last week, they didn’t have any more of this same color. There should be enough in the skein for the gloves though – I think. I love the colors and the feel of this yarn – it’s Mini Mochi, in the pastel ‘Baby Face’ colors. So pretty!

Here’s the cuff of the first glove – so far just ribbing. Things will be more interesting when I have to try doing the thumb gusset, probably tomorrow during our snow day. I’m planning to run a lifeline through before I start, just in case – so I don’t have to start all over again if things don’t work the first time. Wish me luck!

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Ten Days

That’s all it took for me to knit an entire pair of socks, using the Magic Loop method! I finished the second sock tonight and can’t wait to wear them tomorrow. :)

The second sock was definitely easier than the first – although I still tend to lose a stitch when I join the round, so I need to work on that some more to figure out what I’m doing wrong.  Or I’ll just have to cast on an extra stitch each time, I guess – but I’d rather figure out why I’m losing the one and fix it.

Here’s the second sock:

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And here are both socks together:

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And up close with more detail of the ‘beaded rib’ pattern on the top:

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As much as I love this pattern, I think I want to try something else next – still socks and still Magic Loop, but I’m going to look for a different pattern. I promised my 8-year-old that my next project would be for her, so I need to find a good pattern for kid-sized socks. I looked around on Ravelry today but didn’t find much. I know that any sock pattern can be adapted to Magic Loop, but I don’t think I’m quite to that point yet. I still want someone to tell me how many stitches and how to maneuver them for the heel and gusset. Once I get more comfortable with Magic Loop, then I’ll probably try converting a pattern on my own, but we’ll see.

So right now I have no project on the needles – which is going to drive me bonkers. I guess I need to find a pattern soon! :)

I’m in love!

With the ‘Magic Loop’ method for knitting in circles, that is.  :)

Not that I’m about to throw out every single pair of my dpns… But wow, is it ever so much easier. I had a feeling that I would feel this way from everything that I’d heard and read from other knitters, but I was curious if I would really like it that much more, or if it would be too confusing to easily understand. I just figured that I had to give it a try for myself and see what I thought.

I’d originally considered both Magic Loop (1 long circular needle) and the other methods I’ve seen that involve knitting socks on 2 long circular needles. I’d bought books detailing each of those methods last fall, but hung onto them until I was comfortable enough with the ‘traditional’ sock-making method using dpns. And I think that really helped – knowing how socks are structured and what the different terms (gusset, inseam, etc.) meant helped when it came time to adapt to a new way of going round, and round.

I decided to try Magic Loop specifically because I figured that keeping track of one needle would probably be easier than multiple ones, and because I was able to find a couple of videos that gave me the general idea beforehand too. And the book that I’d bought really helped as well – it was recommended to me at the LYS (local yarn store) and even though it’s a very short, simple book, it was very clear and easily understandable. The book is called ‘The Magic Loop’ and can be found here: http://www.knitpicks.com/books/The_Magic_Loop__D30340.html.

There’s a basic sock pattern in the book – called ‘Winter Socks’ so that’s what I decided to try first. But before that, I simply cast on a bunch of stitches and worked on getting the hang of the method in general. The only problem I had (and still have) is figuring out exactly how to join the round to begin with, without twisting the stitches. Every time I’ve managed to figure it out, I end up losing the very beginning stitch once I get back around to the last stitch before the join and have to try and cast it back on in the middle of everything. Somehow when I’m maneuvering the needles to untwist the stitches as I join the two ends, it untwists something in that final stitch I’d cast on. But once I get the round joined, it’s amazing how easy and quick it is to knit in the round this way.

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My biggest astonishment was that there truly is no issue at all with laddering in Magic Loop! I’d struggled with that so much when making socks and such on dpns, no matter how tightly I pulled the first and last stitches before switching needles. In fact, by the time I’d finished the last pair of socks, my hands were hurting so much that I was beginning to become really concerned as to whether or not I’d be able to keep knitting so much.

With Magic Loop however, I’ve had almost NO hand pain at all when knitting. Other than a twinge or two, there’s been nothing! I’ve actually been enjoying knitting so much more again – and I finished the first sock in a record 5 days!! It is knitted on worsted weight yarn with size 5 needles (versus sock yarn and size 2 needles), so that makes a difference too, but wow. Five days!

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I really like this pattern – it’s prettier than just straight stockinette and it’s just a simple k1 p1 for the ‘beaded rib’ design. It was very interesting to see how the sock went together in Magic Loop – and I found it a lot easier to knit the heel flap without juggling extra needles hanging below, and it was so much easier to pick up the inseam stitches and knit the gusset section this way too. There was a lot less maneuvering around of the hands, and I think that helped with the hand pain too.

I’ve already started the second sock of the pair and after that will probably try this method with regular sock yarn for a pair of socks for one of my girls. I’m curious how that will go. Eventually I’d like to learn to do two socks at a time this way, but I’m finding that going in baby steps and learning these things incrementally is helping a lot.

Here’s the final product for Winter Sock #1 – the yarn I used is Paton’s Décor – a mixed wool and acrylic that’s machine washable. I love the colors!

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Let’s see if I can beat the 5-day record with Winter Sock #2…  :)