We had fun last night: interesting projects led to interesting discussion of techniques.
First, Wendy had her completed shawl to show. She made it out of alpaca she got at the Sheep and Wool Festival, using the Feather and Fan pattern from Folk Shawls (the long straight one, not the triangular version). Now, she says, she just has to wait four months until she can use it.
Regina confessed that she’d realized she’d gotten the pattern wrong on the second sock of her pair: it’s supposed to be two pattern rounds followed by two plain stockinette rounds, but she’d been doing one of each. You have to look really closely to see the difference, though, and she says that they’re for her—and she doesn’t mind.
In the course of the evening, she finished the second one. Here they are in their natural habitat:
Meanwhile, Jennifer was casting on (again) for her Koigu cardigan. Seems she skipped the initial swatch—on account of having worked with Koigu recently—and then discovered that she was getting 8 sts per inch, not 7. So it’s back to square one, this time with a #5. Yes, #5; Jennifer’s a tight knitter. So tight, in fact, that it was almost impossible to get the cast-on stitches off the needle when she discovered that her long tail wasn’t going to be nearly long enough. We wound up cutting it off the needle, since the yarn was getting so frayed that it wouldn’t have been usable anyway.
But this provided an opportunity for a handy cast-on tip: if you want to do a long-tail cast-on but you need a large number of stitches (in this case, 364), it’s mighty tough to estimate the amount of tail you’ll need. One solution is to add a supplemental strand: instead of pulling out a long tail, tie a second ball of yarn to the first, and hold the join on the needle to begin casting on. Now hold one strand over your forefinger (this will be the strand you continue knitting with), and the other over your thumb (when you’re done casting on, you’ll cut this strand). If you don’t have a second ball of yarn on hand, you can work with the inside end and outside end of a center-pull ball.
The only drawback to this tactic is that it gives you two more ends to weave in later. Depending on your temperament, this may be trivial, or it may be annoying enough that you’d rather take your chances guessing on length of tail—or just do a one-strand cast-on like the cable or e-wrap.
We also had a little review of splicing techniques for joining new balls of yarn: some prefer the “spit splice,” while others think it adds too much bulk and would rather unply both strands and then cut away a few plies from each before re-twisting them together. Sherry prefers the “Russian” join, which doubles each end back on itself and then darns the loose end through the main strand with a needle.
Magda’s Pi Shawl is almost finished, and Cathy has found a satisfactory solution for the beaded fringe on her Blue Heron shawl, but I don’t have pictures of those, so they’ll have to wait for another day.