Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Ways to Cast-On

I had never really thought about new ways to cast-on at the start of a project. But then I got my Knitting Daily dose and realized there are endless ways aside from the usual long-tail technique I had gotten so comfortable with.

This technique below, called the Cable Cast-On is great because you don't have to estimate your tail length and it gives a very polished, twisted look on the edge of your project:

Begin with a slipknot and one knitted cast-on stitch if there are no established stitches. Insert right needle between first two stitches on left needle (Picture 1). Wrap yarn as if to knit. Draw yarn through to complete stitch (Picture 2) and slip this new stitch to left needle as shown (Picture 3).

Once you get this mastered, go ahead and try the cute and decorative Picot Cast-On:
1. Cast on a total of 5 stitches using the above Cable Cast-On method.

2. Bind off two stitches. (You'll have 2 stiches on the left-hand needle and 1 stitch on the right-hand needle.)

3. Slip the stitch on the right-hand needle onto the left-hand needle. (You'll have 3 stitches on the left-hand needle, with a space after the first two stitches, which is where you bound off the two stitches to make the picot. The stitch you slipped off of the right-hand needle counts as the first stitch in your next group of five.)

4. Use the cable cast-on to cast on 4 more stitches so you have 5 stitches after your last picot.

Repeat steps 2 through 5 until you have the required number of stitches cast on.

For more information on this (although you have to be a free member of Knitting Daily), visit: Picot Cast-On

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Atom's Birthday Blanket

Since baby Atom got my very first (and the very worst) baby blanket when he was born, I decided to make it up to him for his first birthday next month.

He is turning one and since he's obviously bigger than a newborn, the blanket had to be larger as well. The final size of this ended up being approx. 30" x 23" which will be big enough for him to nap under in his car seat or crib.

I know I've posted this blanket before with different yarn, but here is the pattern again.
This time I used Patons Pure 100% Organic Cotton in three shades of colors (Sea 2 balls, Beige 1 ball and Taupe 1 ball) on size 11 needles. This pattern goes fast and is really fun.

Start with the Sea color and cast on 77 stitches, or any multiple of 11. Then knit the next 4 rows, or garter stitch. Follow that with the pattern below for 3 sets:

Row 1: K2 together, K2 together, YO, K1, YO, K1, YO, KI, YO, K2 together, K2 together.

Row 2 - 4: Knit the garter stitch.

Switch to the Beige color and follow the pattern for 2 sets, then the Taupe for 1, and Beige again for 2. Now go back to the Sea for 3 sets of the pattern. To make the center brown stripe, follow the pattern with the Taupe for 2 sets, Beige for 1 set and Taupe again for 2 sets. Once again, repeat the pattern with Sea for 3 and repeat the first stripe pattern once more. Finish with 3 more sets of the Sea color and then end with four additional rows of garter stitch before binding off.

Use the colors as you like if you don't want to follow this stripe pattern, but make sure that you always start knitting the new color on row 1.

I know it is taboo to knot in knitting. But let's be honest. Sometimes, especially with patterns this open, it's pretty hard to weave in the ends all that well. So I confess... I cheat. When I switch colors I end up going back and knotting them off and twisting the knot under into the first stitch so it's not as visible. This way, when baby Atom makes a mess and it needs to get washed, it isn't a big deal.

Hopefully he'll love his new birthday blanket!