Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

Going All In

Dear Kay,
Have you seen the new Twist yet? I’m liking Sivia Harding’s Dryad. It’s not a square, a rectangle, nor a circle: it’s . . . ovalish! And I’m intrigued by Alasdair Post-Quinn’s Introduction to Double-Knitting: The Four Winds Hat.” Video tutorials and everything. Bless him! I’ve never tried double-knitting, but it’s probably twice as fun as single knitting, right? I admire Alasdair’s all-in attitude toward this technique–he’s King of Double Knitting, and he teaches workshops from time to time. I’m guessing he’ll post upcoming classes at his blog.
Speaking of the All-In Attitude
You guys are just going to have to hang in there while I finish this Alice Starmore Donegal sweater. It is a slow roll, the slowest. But now that Mad Men has ended, I have to have something to obsess about, and it might as well be KNITTING. I’m too old to obsess about Robert Pattinson. [pauses to obsess about Robert Pattinson anyway]
Here are some questions that have cropped up regarding this project.
Wendy asks: “I use spit splicing all the time, just did a top down cardigan for my son with maybe 5 ends to weave in, lovely! But I have a question. When you’re using spit splicing to change colors, how do you know where to do it? So that the color change happens on the right stitch? This question is what stops me from splicing on fairisle.”
Excellent question, one that plagued me until I started doing spit splicing on this project. Won’t the pattern look bad if there are all these color shifts in incorrect places? Here’s a photo of the underside of my sleeve. There’s decreasing going on in there. The marker shows the beginning/end of each round:
Can you tell where the yarn colors change? I can’t, and I think there are several reasons why this is the case.
1. The pattern is so crazy as it crashes into itself at this juncture, who knows WHAT’s going on in there?
2. The murkiness of this colorway makes the changes less noticeable.
3. The spit splice joins two shades that are closely related to each other: you know, Juniper into Tarragon. Sapphire into Elderberry. The light shade shifts into a like-valued light; the dark into another dark. A light never splices to a dark, so it’s not that big a problem.
As for the actual question–when to do the splice–I found that ultimately “the right stitch” isn’t really important. For this project, at least, it’s not worth worrying about. So I just break the yarn about three inches from the end of the round, join in the new yarn, and carry on.
Laurie asks: Ann, could I talk you into some photos of knitting your sweater inside out for the floats? I just finished my first stranded project (fiddlehead mittens) and they turned out both gigantic and puckered. How did I manage both? I need to give a pair of mittens to someone with small hands so I’ve got to get this stranded thing figured out but I don’t think I’m doing the inside out thing right. I keep finding my project slowly back right side out. I must be holding it upside down or something.”
The gigantic and the puckered. Sounds like ME.
ANYway, I wish I could see a video of what you’re doing that would make a mitten slowly go from inside out to right side out. So odd!
The gigantic thing is likely some gauge issue; maybe your stitches are a lot looser when you’re working two colors? Are you using double-pointed needles? I don’t use them much, so maybe there’s some weirdness that happens with those?
For those joining us late, I’m working the sleeve for this thing inside out. Projects with a small circumference–socks, hats, mittens–can be hard to work in Fair Isle, because the floats want to take a short cut across the inside of the work, leaving your stitches puckered and tight.
Here’s how I hold my work when doing inside-out Fair Isle:
The circular cable is always held below the two needles. I’m watching the pattern on the inside of the work, carrying the yarns on the outside, and moving stitches from the left needle to the right as I work, just like normal knitting. I am extremely enthusiastic about this set-up; my stitches are more agreeable, less whiny, and they get along with each other so well now. I’m thinking of turning my boys inside out to get these sorts of pleasing results.
PS The Singing Revolution DVD has made it from Chilliwack to Comox to Quesnel . . . where? Take a look!

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  1. LOL about the boys! You really must post a video if you figure out how to do that! Thanks for the posts–its exciting to see!

  2. Yes, knitting is all very fine, but turning boys inside out to make them less whiny and more agreeable — that I gotta see!

  3. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that before. I’m totally going to try the *knitting inside out* soon. I can see how that gives the floats just that extra bit of room.

  4. In a totally unrelated comment — why does Clover insist on making their “safety pin” markers in those totally repulsive colors? That pinkish orange that defies description, and that pure plastic aqua — they have always kind of made my skin twitch. I suppose they’re useful because I’ll never never ever knit anything they’ll blend in with, but. . . why can’t they use colors like the wild green and purple of their soft stitch markers?

  5. Now the question is: what length is that short circular needle you’re using on the sleeves? And by the way, how do you deal with the way that short circulars “fight back” as you’re trying to wrangle them? Honestly, I find doublepoints much easier to handle for small-circumference items like socks, but they are rather awkward for stranded knitting.

  6. thanks for the heads up on the latest TWIST! I’ve been stalking that winter issue on Ravelry for weeks wondering when it would appear!
    and LOL inside out boys?! could we get a post about various types of “boys” and “inside out”?! love it. and especially love the sweater… the inside-out fair-isle on the sleeve is fascinating. the puckering issue arose for me when i ended up making a nipple-top hat for my hubbo. he insisted it was fine, pulling at it futilely (sp?), he’s such a sweetie. πŸ™‚ elaine.

  7. I’m a little afraid to try color work just because of the entire gigantic and puckering issue. Argh! I’m also a little excited because it’s going to be disastrous, and I’m always up for a good disaster.
    On my very first sweater I accidentally knitted the sleeve inside out, and I’ve been doing it that way ever since. Seems much easier that way for some reason.
    The sweater looks beautiful!

  8. Ann, would you be willing to post a video of your colorwork technique? I think it might be so helpful to those of us who are still awkward at working with both hands.
    Kay, you can just keep sending us Olive photos. πŸ™‚ I could eat her up, she is so cute.

  9. I’d also like a video tutorial on turning two male siblings inside out to make them more agreeable……

  10. For Laurie – I’ve found that my knitting does the same thing (slowly creeping back to being right-side out). I think it does it more when you are first getting started, but I have no idea why. I just keep tugging it back into the position where I want it and it seems to behave itself.

  11. I used to read a blog called “Blogdogblog” and noticed that Lisa was spit joining in her fair isle knitting. I e-mailed her and asked about it and she said, “Yes, she routinely spit joined while knitting fair isle and did not feel it detracted from the looks of the piece.” I agree. You really don’t notice even if there are a couple of stitches in the wrong color.

  12. I am very confused: wouldn’t “knitting inside out” = purling? How does this happen?

  13. It probably keeps turning back right side out because I’m checking on the pattern. Which sounds like what I’m supposed to do. The mitten doesn’t have as much bulk as an arm which could be my challenge. It looks like I’m holding it right though.
    The gigantic came from me trying to knit loosely for the floats and the puckered from the floats still being too tight in some places. Especially when moving from dpn to dpn. I’m also not used to using dpns. I actually accidentally flipped one up at my face and was glad I wear glasses! That could have been an unfortunate freak accident!

  14. for Elizabeth D:: yes! exactly! repulsive colours! the turquoise/aqua is ‘hospital water-carafe.’ DEEpressing.

  15. Do a Russian join spit splice, and you can make anything perfect!
    The way I do it: Knit to the end of the first color. Pinch (or stick a safety pin THROUGH the yarn) at the end of the work…just a yarn thickness away from the end of the knitting.
    Pull off the last 6 sts, and pull the yarn out of them. Break the tail 3 inches from the pin/pinch, and get rid of a ply or two, up to the pin/pinch.
    Deply a bit of the new color.
    Fold the old color back on itself, so the fold is at the pin. Feed the tail of the new color through that loop, and fol it back on itself. now they are hooked together, but you are holding them that way. Now, spit and felt, as they are (get rid of the pin, first). Once all is secure, knit those 6 sts back up, carefully, so that the join comes out at the right place (yeah, sometimes it tries to move. But you know it was the right length before. Adjust your tension for those 6 sts to fix it.)

  16. Okay – every time I see this sweater I feel as though my knitting is horribly inadequate…I have the knitting blues…

  17. Have you seen M’Lou Baber’s book on Double Knitting, yet (schoolhousepress). She’s Empress Of Double Knitting…her stuff i incredible…. I want that green flowered DK shawl….boggle the mind!
    I’m doing a nice, simple little Yarmulke in her style.
    It’s not at all slow, (I disagree with Alasdair) if you hold both yarns tensioned between your fingers.

  18. Lovely work. My question is, if one weaves a couple inches before and after color change, may one simply trim the tails at the end of the project? I am working a Simply Shetland Alcea and I am hoping this will work. Will I regret this?

  19. Lovely work. My question is, if one weaves a couple inches before and after color change, may one simply trim the tails at the end of the project? I am working a Simply Shetland Alcea and I am hoping this will work. Will I regret this?

  20. Turn ME inside out so I’ll be more agreeable, less whiny…
    Double knitting? I think I did that once upon a time, it was double the hours–made me less agreeable, more whiny…
    Ann, that sweater is just so lovely! I hope to knit one like it, when I grow up…

  21. Lovely sweater.

  22. Great comments! Thanks Colleen for the clarity and simplicity of instructions. I have done double knitting and ,Meh,thick hat, twice the knitting.
    I do mean to try the inside out stranding, though. Perhaps on the next siren mitten.

  23. I went and looked at the new Twist today and it is really cool. I’ve done a bit of double knitting and it is a lot of fun. I would love to do something more challenging than the basic stuff I’ve tried.
    I’ve been working my first fair isle projects, and while the hats have come out fine I will probably have to do the socks inside out. My first half sock won’t go over my ankle bone, so I am planning on finishing them up and giving them away.

  24. Wowza! The sweater shots continue to amaze. I am looking forward to the final results with as much anticipation as if I was knitting it myself – and far less anxiety! Hey, thanks πŸ™‚
    If you turn buys inside out, don’t be surprised when you see all those snips and snails and puppydog tails. (Yuck.)
    Personally, I like those stitch marker colors because there is absolutely zero chance that they will ever blend in with the yarn I’m knitting. Or the carpet, or the floor. Unlike my lovely bought-on-etsy stitch markers, which vanished almost immediately, the first time I used them. Sigh.
    Carry on, Ann! Fearless knitter!

  25. a funny thing about circular knitting – i taught myself how to do it – and it wasn’t until i went to my first (and so far only) Knitting Camp that i found out that i was doing it … well not wrong… but not the way most people do … i ALWAYS knit my circular projects with the patterns/right side on the inside – so i can see it as i knit – i did find out that one other person does it my way – joyce williams (not bad company i think).

  26. Dear Ann, dear Kay, I just wrote a little line out of your book about teens and knitting in my blogpost for today (www.slowclothes.blogspot.com). Please let me know if you prefer not to have it there and in that case excuse me.
    I wish you, that there is never a moment where you run out of wool or ideas.
    Warm regards,
    Maria Paz

  27. Inside out boys! I must try it!

  28. Imagine CSI getting ahold of your sweater and swabbing for DNA!

  29. Thanks so much for answering my question on the blog! And also to commenter Colleen for that great tip! I shall spit splice on through all crises!

  30. I used to make hats with colors and would get so frustrated about the puckering…today I finally know something else to try to get it to work!

  31. the twist patterns are like a
    box of chocolates are to pass up
    for those of us who have right left
    i just placed the fork on the wrong side
    ordeal i like stright needles
    yes i have knitted on four and
    all it came out inside out
    thank you for all the right side
    of the page links dear kay

  32. Ok, I feel like a dummy but what is spit felting? I read about it in an earlier post and I didn’t quite believe that it was something to do with actual spit!

  33. It’s okay, Ann, to obsess about Robert Pattinson, remember he’s 108 years old! Love the sweater!

  34. It’s okay, Ann, to obsess about Robert Pattinson, remember he’s 108 years old! Love the sweater!

  35. Just gorgeous. I’m about to start this sweater, so really enjoying your comments.
    I’ll be in Nashville this Thursday/Friday and wondered which knit shop/shops you would recommend?

  36. Just gorgeous. I’m about to start this sweater, so really enjoying your comments.
    I’ll be in Nashville this Thursday/Friday and wondered which knit shop/shops you would recommend?

  37. Only have time to look at the pics, but have to tell you: this is a MASTERPIECE!

  38. Yay Comox, Quesnel (with a silent ‘s’) and Chilliwack – all in my neck o’ the woods so I’ll have to check out the Singing Revolution.
    Meanwhile – lovely sweater and I TOTALLY agree with Elizabeth D about the colour of Clover stitch markers – holy 1982-big-hair-tight-jeans- shoulder-pads colors Batman!!!!

  39. Because you are passionate about knitting, I thought you’d love to hear about the rerelease of a wonderful novel called Sadie Shapiro’s Knitting Book. In this heartwarming tale, senior-citizen Sadie submits 50 of her highly original knitting patterns to an ailing publishing firm, and the course of her life changes. Not only is her book published, but Sadie becomes the peoples’ darling, the pure-gold TV talk show guest who knits herself into the fabric of myth. it is a big-hearted, moving, hilariously irresistible book.
    To view more about the book, or to order, please visit the blog at
    Best regards,
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  40. For patterns with a little more contrast, where you do care whether the spit-splice is in exactly the right place, I’ve used this technique. Knit to the end of the round, then use your right thumb and index finger to pinch your yarn right at the bottom of the last stitch you knitted while unknitting seven or eight stitches. The place you’re pinching should be the midpoint of your “splice section.” I always use about an inch of yarn for splicing, so I snip the strand 1/2″ longer than where I’m pinching and then snip half of the plies 1″ from the end. Take the new color, snip half of its plies 1″ from its end, overlap, spit, splice. Et voila, the color change is at the right point (although you may have one stitch with a bit of a candy-cane effect right at the end of the round if the colors are very different).

  41. Well that sweater SURE looks familiar! Especially since I’m knitting it myself although you are considerably further along than me. I’m just on the corrugated ribbing. Looks great!

  42. Well that sweater SURE looks familiar! Especially since I’m knitting it myself although you are considerably further along than me. I’m just on the corrugated ribbing. Looks great!

  43. Re spit splicing; this is EXACTLY how I do it. πŸ™‚

  44. This sweater looks amazing and makes me want to do more color work (I’ve avoided it for years but am beginning to feel a bit more adventurous). I’d be absolutely thrilled to be able to get similar results as you. I’ll be back again to follow your progress.

  45. tis holiday time
    are the famous recipies ready to go


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