Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mobebius Cast On: the way I do it

A well-known way to cast on a moebius is Cat Bordhi's method. This is the first one I learned, and it served me well for many a moebius. But, true to my nature, I eventually got curious about other possibilities. After a litte web research and some playing around on my own, I found that there are, in fact, many ways to start a moebius. In this post, I'll show you my (current) favorite way to do this.

I spent some time deconstructing Cat's method, and found that it was very similar to the classic looping provisional cast on, the key difference being that you're looping your working yarn around the cable, rather than a length of waste yarn. Kinetically, these methods are very different, but the end result is quite similar. This gave me the idea to try to adapt other provisional cast ons for moebius purposes.

The method described below is adapted from the Turkish Cast On, commonly used for casting on toe-up socks. Turkish cast on is about as simple as you get -- it's just a continuous series of wraps around 2 needle tips. But it gets a little tricky when you adapt it to a moebius. Instead of just holding onto the yarn and wrapping it around and around, you are wrapping it around a cable ring, so you have to reposition your hand with each wrap. But despite this little inconvenience, I find it's the easiest and friendliest moebius cast on.

Start with a 40" cable needle.

Step 1
Tie a slip knot into the end of the yarn, and place it on your R needle.
Loop the cable around, and lay it in front of the knot and the working yarn.
Hold the yarn behind the needle and cable.

It should look like this:

Step 2
Release the yarn and move your hand around to the front of the cable.

Step 3
Grasp the ball of yarn from the front of the cable.

Step 4
Holding the yarn, bring your hand above the needle.

Step 5
Bring your hand back down below the needle. Yarn now wraps around the needle and cable.
This is your first Moebius stitch. When counting sts for final width, count this wrap as one stitch.

Repeat steps 2-5 to make more wraps. As you continue to wrap, slide your cast-on stitches to the right, so they slide off the R needle and onto the cables.

By the way, as you slide your wraps onto the cables, do not pull out the extra slack. The wraps need to be loose enough to slide around and onto your other needle.

When you’ve cast on enough sts to go all the way around your cable needle, your work should look something like this. Place a stitch marker on your right needle to indicate your starting point. Work the first stitch on the L needle, indicated with the arrow.

With your stitch marker in place, work the first stitch on the L needle and continue around.

Notice how your slipknot is now on the cable. It started out on the R needle, and as you continued to cast on your moebius stitches, it moved clockwise around your cable to this position.

After you’ve worked all the cast on stitches (once around, or half of 1 moebius round), your slipknot will be on the tip of your L needle, and your stitch marker will be on the cable. Pretty cool, eh?

So, now you know how I like to do it. But if you, like me, are still curious about other ways to cast on for your moebius, here are some links you might find interesting.
Toroidal Snark - sarah-marie belcastro describes a variety of ways for casting on.
Iris Schreier's moebius cast on - video demonstrating an alternative way of casting on -- the result is kindof like Judy's Magic Cast On a-la-moebius.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A little ditty about Illustrator

My blog has been calling to me lately. "Feed me! Feed me!"

I’m in the middle of several unfinished projects that are not ready for blogging. But I do have a little ditty to share about Adobe Illustrator. This post might be useful if you are interested in learning how to make your own knitting illustrations, and it assumes you have working knowledge of Illustrator. Please see my previous post on this topic, "Knitting with Illustrator," for more on this.

Many thanks to Lindsay (Ravelry ID = lynzele) for sending along this extremely helpful tip!

Have you ever noticed the Appearance window in Illustrator? Little did I know the power of this tab…

If you’ve read my blog post "Knitting with Illustrator," you know that I was creating an outlined path of yarn by

  1. drawing a curve,
  2. copying that curve,
  3. pasting the copy behind the first curve, and
  4. changing the color and increasing the stroke width of the copy.

This meant that for every segment of the yarn path, I had two objects in the Layers window. There are a LOT of yarn segments. Getting them all into the right order was a downright pain in the ass.

Thanks to Lindsay, I now know I can cut the number of objects in half, because of the option to duplicate the path in the Appearance window:

Now I can draw a path, duplicate it in the Appearance window, and I still have only one object in the layer.

(Click on any photo below to enlarge)

I can even give different properties to the two different strokes of the object. The image below shows a duplicate path in which the thicker black stroke has butt caps, and the thinner pink stroke has rounded caps.

So, here’s a little exercise. Let’s draw an overhand knot using our newfound knowledge of this feature. If you were to take a piece of rope and tie a simple overhand knot, it should look like this:

If I draw the path of this knot with the pen in Illustrator, it should look like this below:

In order to make the Illustrator path look like a knot, some portions will have to move forward, and other portions will have to move back. Illustrator doesn’t let you weave a single path the way you can weave a physical piece of rope (alas), so you’ll have to copy segments of the path and layer them in order.

First, increase the width of the stroke so it’ll look more like a knot, and less like a thin pretzel. Then, in the Appearance window (lower right), click on Duplicate.

With the top stroke in the Appearance window highlighted, and the path selected, change the color of the top stroke. Let’s make it hot pink…

Now decrease the width of the top stroke. You can make this change in the Stroke window (right above Appearance in this screen). In this case, decreasing the pink by 1 point looks right for depicting an outline.

Using the direct selection tool, click on the curved segment on the left side of the knot. The handles in the image below indicate which path segment is selected.

Now copy the segment (Ctrl-C) and paste it in front (Ctrl-F). The image below shows these commands in the Edit menu, in case you are not a shortcut-junkie like me.

Now select the path segment that runs through the middle-left.

Paste this segment in front. Note that the new segment will be on top of the main path, but will be below the first path segment you created.

The Layers window might be an easier way to see the order in which the paths sit on top of each other. See that little blue square? That indicates which path is active -- in this case, the middle-left segment in the image above.

Repeat this process with the last segment. Copy the segment with the direct selection tool and paste in front.

You now have something that looks like a knot. You might notice, however, that the ends of the segments are visible. To hide the ends, you can round them off.

  1. Select each of the line segments you just created (use the Selection tool -- the black arrow -- for this, or just click on each segment in the Layer window).
  2. Highlight the top path (the pink one) in the Appearance window.
  3. Click on the Rounded Ends button in the Stroke window.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Felted Duck Slippers

Finished the pattern at last. Hooray!

Please see Ravelry to download the PDF file. Hope you love them as much as I do!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Duck Slippers: Sneak Preview

After three weeks or so of playing around with felt to figure out how it works, I finally am just about done with my duck slippers. I'm still working out the bugs in the pattern, but here's a preview of the finished product.

Here they are straight out of the washing machine - my jeans are hiding the unfinished cuffs. Those strings are the ends of the cotton yarn I used to preserve the holes along the edge, for picking up stitches later (thank you Helen and Tracy for this excellent suggestion!!)

One finished cuff, on & off the foot

The next post will have the complete pattern and detailed photos of the process.

(added 5/19)
For those who don’t mind working without a lot of direction, here are the bare bones.

For slippers: 2 skeins Cascade 220 yarn, color #7827, US #8 needles.
For cuffs: 1 skein Cascade 220 Superwash, color #877, US #3 needles.
You will also need:

  1. crochet hook close in size to US #3 needles.
  2. length of cotton or other yarn that will not felt

Cast on and Round 1 same as Duck Socks. 6 sts.
Next round, Turkish cast on 2 sts (1 wrap around both needles) at each end. 10 sts
Repeat this round once. 14 sts.
TCO 4 sts (2 wraps) at each end. 22 sts.
TCO 6 sts (3 wraps) at each end. 34 sts.
TCO 10 sts (5 wraps) at each end. 54 sts.
TCO 16 sts (8 wraps) at each end. 86 sts.
Work 1 round in pattern. still 86 sts.
Place YO at each end (start with YO, work 1/2 of the round, then YO again). 88 sts.
Work 1 round in pattern. still 88 sts.
Decrease (2 top + 2 bottom) every 5th row 6 times. 64 sts.
Decrease (2 top + 2 bottom) every 4th row 2 times. 56 sts.
Change from working in the round to working back and forth. From here out, decrease on bottom only.
Decrease (2 bottom) every 4th row another 3 times. 50 sts.
Decrease (2 bottom) every 3rd row 5 times. 40 sts.
Decrease (2 bottom) every other row 5 times. 30 sts.
S2KP 3 central sts on bottom. 28 sts.
Work toes and heel as you would for booby socks (i.e., center toe does not wrap around bottom).

Pick up and knit a row of sts along the edge of opening with cotton yarn. On the second row, bind off. The bindoff does not need to be stretchy.


After felt is done and dry, rip out cotton yarn along edge and pick up sts with superwash yarn, using crochet hook. Knit cuff as desired and bind off. I picked up a total of 92 sts, and reduced to 60 over 8 rows.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Don't Fear the Felt, Part 3

When Cat talks, knitters listen.

After my last post, Cat Bordhi chimed into the comments with a suggestion to try felting in the washing machine. Apparently, my 12% / 25% shrinkage rate is less than one should expect from machine felting. Since this is my first felting project, the perspective of experienced people counts for a lot. So I took a break from slipper-making to run a few tests.

But here's the rub: I have a front-loader, which is not great for felting. Still, I wanted to see what I'd get with the tools that were readily available.

(edit) Results from my little n=3 experiment supported what I thought I'd find: front-loaders are not great tools for making felt. Ok, what now? For the time being, my knitting activities are restricted to my daughter's naptime, so that doesn't lend itself well to finding a top-loader outside the home. That's ok. I'm still curious to see where felting by hand will take me. (/edit)

I made 4 identical swatches on size 8 needles (Cascade 220), and tried different ways of felting. Just for curiosity's sake, let’s take a look at the fabrics.

View from the front:

Top row: felted in warm wash; felted by hand in hot water.
Bottom row: felted in hot wash; not felted (control subject).

Shrinkage rates were (in width/length):
Warm: 8% / 25%
Hot: 5% / 19%
Hand: 11% / 28%

Here's a closer look:


This one turned out really uneven. Admittedly, this may be because it went in with a full load of laundry.

This one turned out pretty even (this time I put it in with just a pair of jeans), but it really didn’t shrink all that much.

By Hand
Notice how, in comparison to the other 2 felted swatches, this is the only one that really looks like felt. You don’t see the stitches like you do in the others. It feels a lot stiffer, too. The edges on this one are not as even as the machine-felted pieces, but a) I quite like the irregularities, and b) I bet you could even out the edges with a little fussing (stretching, blocking, whatever).

Also, this is the only swatch that turned out completely flat. This is a big selling point with me.

View from back:

(edit) I’ve come away from this little experiment feeling a greater appreciation for hand-felting. Granted, this is within the context of not having easy access to a top-loader, but still, I feel like there’s something really satisfying about being able to experience this amazing transformation right in my hands. (/edit)

I’ll continue with iterations 3 and 4 in the next post. (Sneak peek: I’ve actually already completed 3 and am working on 4, and I suspect the next post will conclude this series.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don't Fear the Felt, part 2

So continues the saga of my first felting project... (for part 1, go here)

I am making decent progress on the felted duck slippers. This post documents the development of iteration #2. Sizes and gauge are identical to those of the first felting post. Please forgive the variable lighting in the photos.

I think I've got the basic construction down, now I just have to figure out the shaping & sizing for an adult. The felting process shrinks the length by 25% but the width only 12%, so I'll have to figure out new dimensions for these. The test booties look satisfyingly duck-like, but I suspect they'd be pretty hard to walk in.

1. Fresh off the needles.
In this version, I started working back-and-forth at the point where Duck instructs you to start increasing for the instep stitches. This yields a larger opening than in the original pattern, which is important in this case since the felt will not stretch to fit over the foot. I did not pick up sts around the opening to knit the leg -- I moved this step to after the felting process.

2. Just after felting. Note how in this version, the opening is almost half as long as the foot. It was a lot smaller in the first one I made!

3. Picking up sts around the rim with a crochet hook (this was a HUGE pain. I'll come up with an easier way for the final pattern).

One of the things I'm fussing with here is, I don't want to have a ridge on the inside of the knitted cuff that will rub against the wearer's ankle. This is why you see in the picture above that I pulled loops out of both sides -- I later put the inside loops on one needle and the outside loops on another, and then pulled a loop of working yarn through both the inside & outside loops. This way, the picked-up sts were centered over the rim. But it was a huge pain to get the tension right. There are definitely easier ways to do this, and I am now messing around to find the way I like best.

4. With knitted cuff. The cuff started out with 51 sts, decreased sharply up the instep (dec 2 every row for 6 rows), then a few more rows in pattern before binding off.

5. Comparison to the first iteration (which was knitted whole, and then felted)

More to come...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't Fear the Felt

This is the first in what I expect to be a short series of blog posts documenting my first felting project.

I've been resisting felt for years now. I always told myself it was because I simply loved the soft & flexible feel of knitted fabric, but really I think it's because it's just plain scary to take something I've worked on for many hours and subject it to an irreversible transformation that might well ruin it.

Recently I reminded myself that I used to make pottery, and no matter how many glaze tests you do, you really never know what you're going to get until, two days after the firing, you un-brick the door. And yes, sometimes the piece you spent weeks on is ruined, and you run for the hammer in tears. But sometimes the little tea bowl you made in 5 minutes is nothing short of a gift from the kiln gods.

So, after doing some reading, testing, and murming of a few incantations to gather up all my courage, I turned this...

Into this.

(For anyone reading this who is waiting for the adult version of the duck sock, you now see my diabolical plan in progress. For grown-up ducks, I am going to make felted slippers!)

Here are a few shots to show scale.

Left to right: Duck socks, Blue-Footed Booby socks, felt test sock.

The orange test sock was knitted with Cascade 220 (color #2436) on size 8 needles, following the Blue-Footed Booby (i.e., toddler Duck) pattern. I felted it simply by agitating by hand in the bathroom sink. It took some elbow grease, but otherwise wasn't too difficult to get an evenly worked result. It took me about 10 minutes. It shrank about 25% in length and 12% in width.

I have to say, I'm pretty tickled with the way the result looks. But... well, it doesn't really function all that well. Since felt doesn't stretch, I can barely get this thing onto my daughter's foot, and once it's on, it flops around like a clown shoe (and she made it clear immediately that she did NOT like that).

I've got the next iteration in progress on the needles, and planning to try out some different ways of opening at the instep.

More to come later...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baby Boobies

Not baby booties -- baby boobies!

This post outlines the pattern for the toddler version of "Duck," published recently in Knitty.

I chose to model these socks after the blue-footed booby, since my husband loves the Galapagos and is a huge fan of this bird. You may of course choose your own inspiration when choosing your color. When my daughter outgrows these, maybe I'll make her some pink flamingo feet.

I also wanted to mention, just in case you are concerned about one possible disadvantage of hand-knitted socks for new walkers...

Fortunately for me, knitters are some of the cleverest and most creative people I know, and the fine folks at the Fiber Gallery on Phinney Ridge suggested I use fabric paint to add a little traction to the bottom. Thank you Fiber Gallery!

Some of you may notice that this sock does not correspond exactly to the pattern below. Specifically, I decided to try moving the decreases to the outer edges, so I would have vertical rows along the bottom. But in retrospect, I like it better with the decreases down the middle.

As always, I encourage you to thumb your nose at my instructions and play around with your own ideas.

The Gist

The booby sock pattern is very similar to the duck sock pattern. Stitch count and directions are the same, with the following exceptions:
  • Use a slightly thicker yarn, and larger needles.
  • Do not purl the center stitch on the bottom of the sock -- knit all the way across.
  • End the center toe at the tip, where you cast on, rather than wrapping around and working to the back of the heel.
  • Since you are not working the center toe along the bottom, you will end up with 6 live I-cord sts, rather than 9, to be slipped onto a 3rd needle and then onto the same holder as the heel sts.
Other than that, it's the same.

The Details

I recommend that you reference the Knitty article Duck while making these socks, as it contains photos and illustrations of the process. The booby socks are so similar in structure to the duck socks, once you understand the gist of how they are different, you probably won't even need the instructions below. Differences between this pattern and Duck are indicated by bold red type.

Baby Ull by Dale of Norway [100% superwash wool; 175m per 50g skein]; color: #6714 Blue; 1 skein

Two US #3/3.25mm circular needles, 24 inches or longer, or one needle of sufficient length for Magic Loop. (Note: this pattern was developed for circulars, but if you are devoted to your dpn's, may I suggest you check out this video tutorial, kindly posted by Mojen.)
One set US #3/3.25mm double-point needles (you’ll need only two or three of them)

Crochet hook, close in size to US #3/3.25mm
Small stitch holders
Tapestry needle
Elastic thread (optional, but a good thing if your toddler likes to pull her socks off)

28 sts/40 rows = 4" in stockinette st

Gauge makes a noticeable difference in size!

Please see for references to standard abbreviations.
This pattern also uses:
Non-standard abbreviations (these techniques are known by a couple of different names)
  • RLI (Right Lifted Increase): Use the right needle to pick up the stitch below the next stitch on the left needle. Place it on the left needle, then knit into it. 1 stitch has been increased.
  • LLI (Left Lifted Increase): Use the left needle to pick up the stitch 2 rows below the last stitch on the right needle. Knit into this stitch. 1 stitch has been increased.
  • S2KP: Slip next 2 sts together, knitwise, as if to work a k2tog. Knit next st, then pass both slipped sts together over st just knit. This forms a centered double decrease.

Note that a semicolon ";" indicates the halfway mark, where you change to your second circular needle. Differences between this pattern and the original are indicated by bold red type.

Shape Center Point
Using Judy's Magic Cast On, CO 4 sts (2 sts on each needle).
Round 1: [K1, yo, k1] on each needle. 6 sts.
Round 2: CO 2 sts (1 st on each needle), k2 (first st to be knit is new CO st), p1, k1; CO 2 sts (1 st on each needle), k5. 10 sts.
Round 3: CO 2 sts (1 st on each needle), k3, p1, k2; CO 2 sts (1 st on each needle), k7. 14 sts.

Shape Webbing
Round 4: CO 4 sts (2 sts on each needle), k5, p1, k3; CO 4 sts (2 sts on each needle), k11. 22 sts. Round 5: CO 8 sts (4 sts on each needle), k9, p1, k5; CO 8 sts (4 sts on each needle), k19. 38 sts. Round 6: CO 12 sts (6 sts on each needle, k15, p1, k9; CO 12 sts (6 sts on each needle, k31. 62 sts.
Round 7: K15, p1, k15; k31.

Begin Side Toes
Round 8: YO, k15, p1, k15; YO, k31. 64 sts.
Rounds 9-11: [P1, k15] twice; p1, k31.

Shape Foot
Round 12: P1, k13, k2tog, p1, ssk, k13; P1, k13, k2tog, k1, ssk, k13. 60 sts.
Rounds 13-15: [P1, k14] twice; p1, k29.
Round 16: P1, k12, k2tog, p1, ssk, k12; P1, k12, k2tog, k1, ssk, k12. 56 sts.
Rounds 17-19: [P1, k13] twice; p1, k27.
Round 20: P1, k11, k2tog, p1, ssk, k11; P1, k11, k2tog, k1, ssk, k11. 52 sts.
Rounds 21-23: [P1, k12] twice; p1, k25.
Round 24: P1, k10, k2tog, p1, ssk, k10; P1, k10, k2tog, k1, ssk, k10;. 48 sts.
Rounds 25-27: [P1, k11] twice; p1, k23.
Round 28: P1, k9, k2tog, p1, ssk, k9; P1, k9, k2tog, k1, ssk, k9. 44 sts.
Rounds 29-30: [P1, k10] twice; p1, k21.

Round 1: P1, k8, LLI, k2, p1, k2, RLI, k8; p1, k8, k2tog, k1, ssk, k8. 44 sts: 24 sts on first needle, 20 sts on second needle.
Rounds 2-3: [P1, k11] twice; p1, k19.
Round 4: P1, k8, LLI, k3, p1, k3, RLI, k8; p1, k7, k2tog, k1, ssk, k7. 44 sts: 26 sts on first needle, 18 sts on second needle.
Round 5-6: [P1, k12] twice; p1, k17.
Round 7: P1, k8, LLI, k4, p1, k4, RLI, k8; p1, k6, k2tog, k1, ssk, k6. 44 sts: 28 sts on first needle, 16 sts on second needle.
Rounds 8-9: [P1, k13] twice; p1, k15.
Round 10: P1, k8, LLI, k11, RLI, k8; p1, k5, k2tog, k1, ssk, k5. 44 sts: 30 sts on first needle, 14 sts on second needle. Note that center st on first needle is knit, instead of purled.

Work first 9 sts of first needle in pattern; place next 13 sts on st holder for instep. Turn work so that WS is facing. Heel flap will now be worked back and forth in rows over remaining 31 sts. When working first row, work all sts onto one needle.
Row 1 [WS]: P8, k1, p13, k1, p8.
Row 2 [RS]: K8, p1, k4, k2tog, k1, ssk, k4, p1, k8. 29 sts.
Row 3 [WS]: P8, k1, p11, k1, p8.
Row 4 [RS]: K8, p1, k3, k2tog, k1, ssk, k3, p1, k8. 27 sts.
Row 5 [WS]: P8, k1, p9, k1, p8.
Row 6 [RS]: K8, p1, k2, k2tog, k1, ssk, k2, p1, k8. 25 sts.
Row 7 [WS]: P8, k1, p7, k1, p8.
Row 8 [RS]: K8, p1, k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1, p1, k8. 23 sts.
Row 9 [WS]: P8, k1, p5, k1, p8.
Row 10 [RS]: K8, p1, k2tog, k1, ssk, p1, k8. 21 sts.
Row 11 [WS]: P8, k1, p3, k1, p8.
Row 12 [RS]: K8, p1, S2KP, p1, k8. 19 sts.
Row 13 [WS]: P8, k1, p1, k1, p8.
Break yarn.

Now you will rearrange the sts so that they fit together like a zipper. The diagrams below show how to do this in general; you can apply these principles to your stitch total (19).

With RS facing, divide remaining sts between 2 needles, placing first 9 sts (represented by medium blue) on right needle and last 10 sts (light blue) on left needle.

Follow the steps below to slip sts to a holder or third needle, alternating 1 stitch from each needle as you go.

Fold fabric in half so that the left needle is in front of the right needle.

Slip 1 stitch purlwise from left/front needle to third needle.

Slip 1 stitch purlwise from right/back needle to third needle.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have transferred all sts to your third needle.

In the case of your sock, since you are working this section over an odd number of sts (this example shows an even number of sts), your result would begin and end with the sts from your left/front needle.

Leave these sts on their holder until you have finished the toes. At that point, you'll bind these sts together with applied I-cord.

Toes are worked in applied I-cord. Cords will be worked along columns of purl sts which run along top and sides of foot.

Please see Duck in for detailed instructions on working the toes. This blog post focuses only on finishing the toes.

Work center toe first. Start and work over top of foot as described in Duck, then when you come to the tip of the webbing, work one more row without picking up any sts from the foot. Bind off and weave in ends. The idea here is, you want it to stick out just a little bit.

Work either of the side toes next, exactly as described in Duck. When you come to the stopping point of your first side toe, place the 3 live sts on holder and break yarn.

When you come to the stopping point on your next side toe, do not break the yarn -- this is now your working yarn.

As you did with the heel sts, place the 3 sts from each toe onto 2 separate needles, and then slip each stitch onto a third needle, alternating side to side like a zipper. You can start from either toe.

After you have slipped 3 sts onto your third needle, grab the working yarn (it doesn't matter if it's from the right toe or left toe), bring it between the two needles and then behind the third needle. Then slip the last 3 sts to the third needle. (I’m working on a diagram for this.) Your working yarn should emerge from the back, between the 3rd and 4th sts.

Slip these 6 sts purlwise onto the same holder/dpn that has been holding your heel sts. You should now have a total of 25 sts on the holder.

Close Back of Heel
Heel will be closed by working applied I-cord, continuing from the side toes.

Next Row: K2, k2tog tbl. Sl sts purlwise back to left needle.
Repeat this row until all sts have been worked. 3 sts remain.

Continuing from I-cord sts just worked, pick up and k 9 sts along upper edge of opening, k held sts of instep, pick up and k 9 sts along upper edge of opening. 34 sts.

Next Round: *K3, p2, [k2, p2] three times; repeat from * once.
Repeat this round 15 times more, or until cuff is desired length.
K 2 rounds. BO all sts using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

Weave in ends. If desired, sew elastic thread through inside of cuff.