Magic Loop or Wrangling an Octopus

No pics I’m afraid, but trust me on this, Magic Loop is like trying to wrangle an octopus. I have finished the body of the Pink Lopi Raglan and Saturday cast on for the sleeves. I decided that the working on both sleeves at once is a good strategy and as the sweater’s all about being worked in the round, this means using the über trendy Magic Loop™ to do the job.

I first worked the ribbing on 4 double point 3.5 mm for each sleeve separately and then knit them onto 2 4.0 mm, 80 cm circulars. Partly because I wasn’t sure how to handle starting in the round with the loop de magie (especially with tubular cast on) and partly because I have only one 3.5 mm circular which is only an 80 cm and is currently housing the sweater body.

Now let me just say that I put Magic Loop™ in the ‘trendy knitting fad’ category along with cute beaded/custom/jewelry-like stitch markers (not to say that I don’t own any of those) and toe-up socks: way too much hype. And my experiences in the past few days have not changed my mind.

There’s too much switching. Every 25 stitches I have to either drop a needle or switch balls of yarn. And the first couple of rounds, the whole thing would get SO tangled that I would let the entire fidgety mess fall to the desk and then just walk away to make some tea or something. AND THEN sometimes I forget to switch the needles in both hands and end up with 3 halves on one needle, and one half on the other (which sometimes gets all switched around and front half of one sleeve in on the same needle as the back half of the other sleeve). Disaster.

But I’ve sort of become somewhat used to working this octopus. For the most part anyways. I’m working through the wiggly giggle mess at least. No trendy knitting technique is going to get the best of me!

I think it will better on one super huge circular rather than wrangling two smaller ones. I’ve got a 120 cm kickin’ around somewhere and it’s bamboo to boot. The squeeze/grind of metal needles rubbing all against each other is NOT my favourite. Especially when using squeaky acrylics. Yuuugch.

Update: I tried using one super long circular and had issues with ladders/losing my place on the sides (I tried with stitch markers and the ladders got worse). So I’ve gone back to the 2 circs and I’m managing. I could see that if the concept of working with double points was especially aggravating, Magic Loop™ may be a more successful alternative technique.

But for the whole ‘Second Sock Syndrome’ sufferers I have to say I think you’re suffering from a made up disease. Before going to the internet to read about knitting, I had never heard of anyone having problems finishing a pair of socks or mittens or anything else that comes in pairs. Yes, the pattern is the same as the first item so the joy of discovery isn’t really there. Yes, it’s the same yarn that you’ve just spent a sock working with.

But the second sock/mitten/whatever always is faster than the first one (just like the second time driving/getting somewhere is that little bit easier/more familiar). Plus it gives you the opportunity to knit this one better! You’ll be knitting it with more confidence, a better idea of what’s going on and the particular tricky bits of the particular pattern you’re working on. I’ll add the challenge that you may even be able to knit most of it from memory as well. How cool is it to knit something without consulting a pattern for any of it?

If you still think you have ‘Second Sock Syndrome’ then try this magical cure I’ve just heard about. It’s called Magic Loop™ and it means (with some minor wrangling) you can knit both socks at once!*

(warning: knitting two socks at one time may slow the perception of knitting time)

This isn’t your Grandmother’s Granny Square

Heck, it’s not even square. Let’s back track a bit.

So I got this skein of Cascade Magnum from Robyn in a Secret Pal package and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it. It was briefly an Urchin but I don’t think it was meant to be. I have been thinking of making a granny square blanket for a while now and with the arrival of the ginormo almost rude crochet hook I got the idea of making giant granny squares with chunky yarn. So last night I grabbed my hook and a favourite granny square pattern and got to hooking.

I was, uh, mostly paying attention, but somewhere during Slapsgiving I the square got away from me. Suddenly in the last round I was at then end before I should have been. I should pay more attention.

Now my little rant about the whole ‘This isn’t your grandmother’s [insert craft/product here].’ I know I just used the phrase myself, but my usage was to be a. ironical and b. a jumping off point for this discussion.

As previously mentioned, I don’t like the ‘trendy’ side of knitting. I think such phrases that try to sell knitting/craftyness as something ‘new,’ ‘improved’ and ‘better than the old days’ don’t serve the public identity of the past time. It gives the impression that unless you knit/crochet with irony, you’re old, moldy, out-of-date and just plain un-feminist. In my books, that’s just not cool.

I don’t knit because I feel the need to ‘reclaim’ this dying, unappreciated craft of my female heritage for a new generation. I knit to maintain a connection with my past. To honour my grandmother who taught me to knit, my great-grandmother who continued to make things for my brother and I as children despite having lost her sight. Sure, I knit different things than they did. And I don’t dip into my mom’s huge acrylic stash these days (partly cause I’m all about the wool and partly cause it’s on the other side of the country). But each time I pick up my needles or start something new, I can’t help but feel connected to the long line of ladies who made things out of necessity and out of enjoyment.

It’s silly to throw away all their tricks, tips, designs just because it’s not hip anymore. Sure I’m not going to make myself a granny square vest, but I there’s still something compelling about building blocks of crochet to efficiently and portably construct a blanket.

Now if I could just keep my mind focused enough to actually make a square, I’d be set.

Ten Second Tidy!


I know I already posted today and I don’t want to be that person who posts every 10 seconds but I though I should mention the sidebar tidy that just happened.

I have been trying to sort out how to deal with the storage of knitted projects vs. other things I label and came to the conclusion that really it’s just all about the knitting. So I’ve sorted all the labels into groups to be nice and organised.

You may notice that I’m not using the usual WIP, FO lingo. That’s cause I don’t like it. In fact I have a general aversion to acronyms in general. Other people can use them, that’s fine by me, but I don’t want to and you can’t make me!

These acronyms just continue to remind me of the shallower, trendy side of knitting in the new millenium. While I appreciate that there are so many people turned on to knitting these days, I don’t like the inference that it’s some kind of fickle fad. For me, it’s not. Knitting has pretty much always been a part of my life. Not usually something that I use to define myself and there are many people I know who don’t know and have never seen me knit. It’s just something I do. Like read, garden or watch movies (I see a LOT).

It’s new for me to be public about my hobbies and only know people because of knitting so it’s been an adjustment. I’m reluctant to change, but I think it’s a good thing to take knitting off my couch and participate in Knit Nites which I really do enjoy.

But I still refuse to knit on the Metro or bus. Knitting is for me, not to create a spectacle. I’m not judging those of you who do the knitted commute, and mega props to that chick I saw knitting a sock while crossing the street that time. It’s just not my thing.

There’s my two bits.

One of these days I’ll get around to knitting up a proper header. I’ve got it all planned but have yet to cast on.

The Haul from Home and another Slouch

I’ve returned from holiday out West at my parents and came back with quite a haul. Knittingwise, I brought back all the projects I had taken with me with none completed, but some pretty close and a stack of Knitting mags. But it was a successful trip for my other craftiness as you can see below:

Some very inspiring embroidery found while tidying up in the basement. Possibly done by my Grandmother or Great-Grandmother.

A fun deck of quilter’s quarters that I got as payment for making a set of six place mats for my mother.

Leftovers from when I made my roll-you-own-needlecase and two project bags.

Leftovers from the place mats I made for my mother (carefully cut so to save as much fabric as possible).

My new palette of embroidery floss (they were on sale).

Some more colours that I couldn’t resist (they weren’t on sale).

And I just finished another slouch for a friend. She was lamenting her lack of fashion victim-hood without one, so I cast on without regard for my current list of projects that need to be finished. I really like the colour and texture of the hat and have been considering keeping it for myself, but seeing it on me makes me think of little girls in grey wool pleated skirts or members of military units so I think it is destined for it’s originally intended owner. I had to adapt the pattern for a smaller gauge yarn and used my favourite Italian Tubular Cast on for this hat.

A note on cast ons for ribbing. I favour cast ons done on one needle with various twisting and turnings to create the stitches. It’s knitting magic! I’ve tried the version with provisional cast on of half the stitches compared to the Italian Tubular method and have to say that I prefer the results of the Tubular when worked 4 rows of yarn in front while slipping purled stitches.

While the provisional method looks tidier at the start, the lack of super-stretchability is a turn off, not to mention the lack of seeming like one is casting a spell. The Italian method provides all the stretch of the rest of the ribbing and seems to me more efficient for materials. No extra yarn is needed or needles or crochet hooks, etc. If you are like me and tend to have loosey goosey results, then I’d suggest working the foundation rows on a smaller needle. And if working in the round, I’d suggest joining in the round just as you start your regular knitting (or after two rounds of foundation and then work two more, alternating carrying the yarn in front and slipping purled stitches and in back slipping knit stitches on each round).