Why this journey?

I've been retired now for over a year. Husband has been sick but is now doing quite well with new pacemaker. I continue to knit and knit and crochet. Recently I became friends again with my sewing machine so you will see some of those projects, too. Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another Experiment -- hand warmers

That title makes me sound like a mad scientist, doesn't it?!  No test tubes or bunsen burners or toxic chemicals, but lots and lots of testing and trying and searching for answers.  Mad?  You decide.

Those fingerless gloves (aka hand warmers) were shouting my name and begging me to cast them onto needles so they could come alive.  Picked Andean Silk from Knitpicks, soft and warm, worsted weight, alpaca, silk and merino wool.  Just plain yummy!

I finally got to this point -- but only after several different approaches.  Like wandering around a new city as a tourist: you get to see a lot, but your feet can get tired and you may get lost.  Still . . .

Didn't get 'here' without some detours.  Finally decided to use
the double pointed needles (DPN).
Can you see "the wave" in the ribbing pattern?
This is another from One Skein Wonders.

First I decided to teach myself another new technique.  Great idea -- put two socks or two hand-warmers (anything that requires a pair to be knitted) onto two needles and knit both of them at once.  This is supposed to guarantee against the insidious and cruel "one sock syndrome."  Yes, I have one sock sitting in some UFO box somewhere.  Sounds like a good idea -- knit both of the pair at one time.

Two at a time technique from this book by Antje Gillingham.
The explanations are fabulous; the diagrams are clear and real pictures.
I was able to use each step to get both hand warmers onto
two needles.

But I lost patience quickly.  Each hand warmer has only 30 stitches and using this new technique I felt like I spent more time moving yarn around and untangling.  Just not worth it for this item.  I can, however, definitely see the advantage for socks with finer yarn and more stitches.  I will try it again.

Converted both hand warmers to one long circular needle and tried that.  If you wanna learn more, go to YouTube and search for Magic Loop Method.  Lots of folks can show you.  Here's what they look like on the one long needle.
Even that drove me crazy.  Dividing the 30 stitchesmeans 15 on each side.  And still, I'm managing two balls of yarn and turning the needles back and forth and sliding stitches.  Groan.  Reminded me of the afghan squares I finished several years ago.  32 squares sat dormant for at least 10 years (now THAT is a UFO, readers!).  When I realized I needed only four, yes 4, squares I took four balls of yarn and cast on stitches for each of the remaining squares.  Had to sit quietly on the couch with two balls of yarn on each side of my feet and be very, very careful every time I finished one row to turn around and go back.  The afghan is wonderful but that 4-at-a-time was just painful.

Converted again, this time to DPN -- and will do one hand warmer at a time.  It's much more satisfying.  The project is now portable -- just one ball of yarn and 4 DPN's.  The pattern can be memorized after just a row or two.  Knitting around means I only turn the entire thing about 1/3 the way counterclockwise as I finish the 10 stitches on one needle and begin the next set.
This is 30 stitches in total, with 10 on each DPN.
The needle on the right is beginning to knit off the stitches from
the needle just below.  Needles are about the size of a pencil.
US8, worsted weight yarn

I'm finally enjoying this and expect to finish both hand warmers within a few days.  The wool will make them warm and the silk and alpaca will make them soft.

The wavy pattern is visible.  You can compare the pencil
to the needles and the yarn to get an idea of the size of each.

Mad or not, this knitting geek found a way to make the project work.  This time the yarn is right for the project.  This time I learned a new technique to try again later.  

Sometimes it's valuable to be a bit mad -- pick up your sticks and try something new.  You'll surely find some sanity in the process.  Life lesson again?  Gotta take a few detours to discover your true path.

1 comment:

  1. I love looking at your projects! I'm a crocheter and have yet to learn to knit. I'm becoming more and more of a yarn snob, but my LYS is tiny (and has an odd assortment). I haven't ordered from Knit Picks yet, but I've been drooling over their yarns for a while....