If you have been a knitter and yarn connoisseur as long as Alexa and I have, you likely have a magnificent stash… which includes a good number of single skeins. You know the ones, those pretty skeins that beckoned to you from the shelf and you couldn’t pass them up, but didn’t really know what you would do with them.
Unfortunately, often those hand-dyed masterpieces are in lightweight yarn like sock or lace, and perhaps you are daunted by the thought of knitting yards and yards, and want a simple, quick, and satisfying project instead? This happens to me often, as I contemplate the mountain of single skeins of sock yarn that I have!
My favorite elegant solution is to double up that sock yarn, so that you can use the yarn for a worsted / aran weight project. If held double, sock weight yarn translates to a worsted or aran weight gauge. How does this work you ask?
How does the math work?
One rule of thumb is to take the regular gauge of a yarn (eg. 7 sts / inch or 28 sts / 4″ for a sock weight) and multiply it by 70% (or 0.7).
7 sts per inch x 0.7 = 4.9 sts per inch
This will give you an approximate idea of the gauge you can achieve when doubling the yarn up. So if you hold 2 sock-weight yarns together, you will be able to achieve a gauge of 4.5 to 5 sts / inch or 18-20 sts / 4″. You should make a gauge swatch first to be certain that you like the tension / density / effect of the work of course.
How do you hold 2 yarns together?
When I’m working from a single skein of yarn, it typically comes in a skein, so the first step is to wind it up into a centre-pull ball or cake, either by hand (see full tutorial here) or by using a ball-winder and swift. Then I can pull one strand from the centre of the ball, and the other from the outside of the ball.
I simply hold these 2 strands together as if they were a single strand of yarn, and work the project normally. You can see how on the needles, the two strands of yarn are snug up together, so it is quite clear that you will work them as a single strand.
If you were to knit holding 3 strands of yarn together, you would achieve an even thicker gauge, perhaps 3.5 to 4 stitches per inch. I don’t know a rule-of-thumb multiplier for tripling yarns, but it would be simple to make a gauge swatch and see how it turned out!
The Antler Hat – an example.
I was fondling a skein of beautiful SweetGeorgia Merino Silk Fine that I had squirrelled away, and debating what to make! I didn’t want to cast on a large project, so I decided to double it up, and made a baby version of the Antler hat (a free pattern). I got started, and as you can see, the smooth, lustrous, and ultra soft fabric which is resulting is making me VERY happy indeed! This will probably be one of the most luxurious baby hats every created!
Designs that use doubling: Tofino Surfer hat uses 2 strands of DK weight yarn held together to achieve a bulky gauge and the Sea to Sky baby blanket uses a semi-solid with a variegated skein held together for a tweedy, colour-shifting effect. So go hit up your stash for a lonely skein of sock yarn, double it up and get knitting!
More TCK patterns perfect for 2 strands of sock yarn:
Well, it’s been a crazy month for TCK and so we have had some radio silence. Emily’s trip up the west coast came to a close a few weeks ago so she has been settling back into her regular life in Edinburgh. In October Emily and I (along with Emily Read) manned the booth at Knit City in Vancouver and we were in THE SAME CITY AT THE SAME TIME! It was wild, being able to meet up in person, grab coffee, shop for yarn, all the things we can’t do over Skype or email. Here are a few of the highlights from Em’s visit:
1. Tea: Emily came into town and the first thing we did was have a meeting about our upcoming year. We talked collections people, and it was so very exciting. We had tea and scones at Neverland Tea Salon and just talked knitting for hours.
2. Book Signing: Emily was at Urban Yarns signing Handmade in the UK, drinking a little vino, and chatting with knitters. We also went out for dinner with a whole bunch of instructors, designers, and knitters, it was delightful.
3. Knit City: I can’t say enough how fun and exhausting Knit City is. Friday we had lunch with Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook (more on their new book Journey later), on Saturday we hung out at our booth with Emily Read and chatted with knitters all day, and we shopped and chatted with knitters all day on Sunday too! By the end we were ready for a few days off but it was fun fun fun!
4. Yarn Harlot: I finally got to see one of my knitterly heroes in person. The best part? She was every bit as hilarious and down to earth as I pictured. Her talk was inspiring and hilarious, and her answers to the audience questions had tears of laughter streaming down our faces. After the talk we waited patiently in line for a pic with the harlot herself. She remembered knitting our Antler sweater a few months ago and said: ‘it’s a quick knit, you sneeze and you’ve got yourself a sweater’. It was awesome.
5. Classes: Emily wasn’t just on vacation here in Vancouver, she was teaching classes! I joined her for her ‘Hat Design’ class at the SweetGeorgia studio. There was a lot of swatching, charting, and math going on!
If you haven’t had the chance to take a class with Emily or I there is an excellent opportunity coming up! The ladies from Knit Social (the genius behind Knit City) are putting on a retreat and I will be instructing! I’ll be teaching classes on the POP blanket, photographing your knitting, and DIY Hat Design. Sign up here (there are only a few spots left!)
More classes from Tin Can Knits:
This summer I had the pleasure of spending some time with the wonderful ladies from Knit Social, Amanda and Fiona. We spent several busy days together on the photoshoots for their first book, Cascadia. When they asked me to design a pattern for Knit City 2013, I jumped at the chance!
The idea of using smocking stitch had been rolling around in my head and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to put it to use!
The Gather pattern has instructions for both a hat and cowl featuring my new favourite technique: smocking. It looks a little bit like a cable, but it is easier to work and very stretchy – perfect for a hat. This design really shines in subtle semi-solids and in wilder variegated colourways.
::: Gather Project Details:::
Pattern: Gather by Alexa Ludeman
Yarn: DK or Worsted weight yarn (knits to 20 sts / 4″)
For hat: 70 (80, 90, 110, 150, 170) yds
For cowl: 90 (225, 450) yds (Samples shown in Kattikloo Organic Merino DK in ‘Leaf’, ‘Metal’, and ‘KnitCity 2013′)
Suggested needles: For hat: US #4 / 3.5 mm 16” circular needle,
US #6 / 4 mm 16” circular and DPNs (or as req’d to meet gauge)
For cowl: US #6 / 4 mm 16 (16, 32)” circular needle
Sizing: Hat: Baby (Toddler, Child, Adult S, M, L)
Fits head 16 (17.5, 19, 20.5, 22, 23) inches around
Cowl: Child (Adult Short, Adult Long)
6 (10, 10) inches tall by 19 (23, 48) inches around
::: About Smocking Stitch :::
No need to be intimidated by smocking, it may look fancy but it’s really easy peasy! Download the Gather pattern, then follow the step-by-step instructions in our smocking stitch tutorial, to make an adorable hat for yourself, a friend, or a little cutie-pie you love!
More Hats and Cowls from Tin Can Knits:
The beautiful Gather hat and cowl that Alexa designed for Knit City uses an interesting technique called smocking. This technique gathers stitches together to create a richly textured fabric.
Smocking is simple to achieve (it’s less fiddly than cabling), and all the steps are described below!
Smock 6: insert RH needle front to back between 6th and 7th stitch on LH needle, draw through a loop, place this loop on LH needle and knit it together with first stitch on the LH needle, k1, p2, k2
(RH = right hand, LH = left hand … find a full list of knitting abbreviations here)
You can break this down into 6 steps:
- insert RH needle from front to back between 6th and 7th sts on LH needle
- wrap working yarn around RH needle tip (just like when you knit)
- draw up a loop (just like when you knit)
- place this loop in LH needle
- knit the loop together with first stitch (use k2tog)
- k1, p2, k2 (work the remaining 5 sts)
Let’s take a close look at the process in photos:
There you have it! Smocking is a great, simple technique. Get the Gather pattern now, and try it out!
Having a hard time understanding the photos? There is a great video that explains various ways of using elongated stitches, including this method of smocking, here.
Want to learn more and keep up with our latest designs? Get our excellent and inspiring email updates!
Designs featuring texture and cables:
We came up with the design for Flax early in the collection. Jones is wearing a prototype in the Barley hat pictures. We have received many emails from knitters eagerly awaiting this sweater, and now the pattern is here!
The Flax Pullover is designed to be a very simple first sweater. It’s knit from the top down with no seaming, perfect for anyone new to garments. Whether you have been knitting for years or you are just starting out, the Flax cardigan has a wonderful simplicity of design that makes it perfect for the whole family. The combination of garter and stockinette also make this an ideal sweater to show off a beautiful yarn.
::: Learn How to Knit a Sweater :::
This is it, time to knit your first garment! There is a little more pressure with a sweater to get the fit just right. It’s a lot more knitting so make sure to set yourself up for success by following our ‘choosing your size tutorial’, our gauge tutorial, and our ‘let’s knit a sweater’ tutorial.
Pattern: Free Pattern – download now!
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted in ‘Deep Olive’, ‘Tumbled Stone’, and ‘Hush’ 280 (320, 360, 440, 600, 700, 850, 950, 1050, 1150, 1250, 1350, 1400, 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800) yards
Needles: US #6 / 4 mm and US #8 / 5 mm (or as req’d to meet gauge)
0 – 4 yrs: 16” circulars and dpns in each size
4 yrs – XS: 16” circulars, 24” circulars, and dpns in each size
S – 4XL: 16” circulars, 32” circulars, and dpns in each size
Sizing: 0-6 mo (6-12 mo, 1-2 yr, 2-4 yr, 4-6 yr, 6-8 yr, 8-10 yr, XS, S, S/M, M, M/L, L, XL, XXL, 3XL, 4XL)
Finished Chest measurement: 18 (19.5, 20.5, 22, 24, 26, 28, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 43, 47, 51, 55, 58)
::: The Yarn :::
Flax is knit in one of our favourite yarns, SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted. It is hard wearing, machine washable and has a firm twist, and comes in amazing hand dyed colors (of course!). That’s a recipe for a timeless sweater that will last for years.
::: The Simple Collection Tutorials :::
If you are new to knitting entirely, used to knit but have forgotten how, or are looking to move past the basics, we have step-by-step tutorials on each of the techniques you will need for the Flax pullover. ‘Lets Knit a Sweater’ covers increasing for the yoke, separating body and sleeves, and sweater finishing techniques.
The Simple Collection is for sharing! Please help us to spread the word about these new designs by clicking the links below to share on facebook, twitter, or email to a friend.
With 8 new free patterns (including 2 sweaters!) and clear tutorials, the collection is perfect for newer knitters building skills and confidence, and is also a treat for knitters who enjoy modern lines and simple details. Whether you are knitting your first scarf, cozy socks for your dad, or a sweater for your little man, the Simple Collection will teach you all you need to know to make modern seamless knits for the whole family!
More sweaters from Tin Can Knits:
Are you ready? It’s time to knit your very first sweater! Two of the challenges many knitters face when creating their first garment are gauge and fit. Review our tutorial on gauge to ensure your sweater comes out to the dimensions you want, and learn about choosing your size to ensure you get a sweater that fits the way you want it to.
::: Get Started :::
Download a copy of the Flax pullover pattern (it’s free!) grab your yarn and needles, and let’s get down to business. If you have been following along and knitting the other free Simple Collection designs: Wheat Scarf, Malt Blanket, Oats Cowl, Barley Hat, Maize Mitts and Rye Socks, you will already have learned most of the techniques required to make the Flax Pullover. Believe it or not, there aren’t that many complex techniques required to make a simple sweater!
::: Yoke :::
Using smaller circular needles CO 56 (62, 68, 74, 74, 76, 78, 86, 86, 86, 86, 90, 90, 90, 96, 96, 96) sts place BOR marker, and join for working in the round.
Ribbing: (k1, p1) around
Repeat ribbing until piece measures 1 (1.5) inches from cast on for Child (Adult) sizes. Change to larger needles. [an illustration of this technique shown here]
See this tutorial for details on casting on in the round. BOR is your beginning of round marker. This tells you where your round starts.
Next round: knit, increasing 4 (4, 4, 4, 8, 18, 16, 12, 18, 22, 26, 24, 36, 46, 48 54, 56) sts evenly spaced
[60 (66, 72, 78, 82, 94, 94, 98, 104, 108, 112, 114, 126, 136, 144, 150, 152) sts]
This may seem like a complicated instruction but follow along and we will do a little math. What this means is that you have 56 (62, 68, 74, 74, 76, 78, 86, 86, 86, 86, 90, 90, 90, 96, 96, 96) sts and you need to increase 4 (4, 4, 4, 8, 18, 16, 12, 18, 22, 26, 24, 36, 46, 48 54, 56) sts for a total of 60 (66, 72, 78, 82, 94, 94, 98, 104, 108, 112, 114, 126, 136, 144, 150, 152) sts. So how are we going to do this?
Take the number of stitches you have and divide them by the number of sts you need to increase:
eg. For the 0-6 mo size: you have 56 sts and you need to increase 4 sts, 56/4 = 14
So I will knit 14 sts, then make 1 stitch 4 times and I will have 60 sts.
It gets a little more complicated when the numbers don’t work so perfectly.
eg. for the size XS: you have 86 sts, and you need to increase 12 sts, 86/12 = 7.16. So I will knit 7 sts, then make 1, 12 times, then knit to the end.
Although this may seem unnecessarily complicated (why don’t we just do the math for you?!) it’s an instruction you will come across often in sweater patterns. If we wrote out each size every time we had to do an increase round like this our patterns would be 10 pages long!
Marker setup: [p10 (11, 12, 13, 13, 14, 14, 15, 15, 15, 15, 15, 16, 16, 17, 17, 17) PM, k20 (22, 24, 26, 28, 33, 33, 34, 37, 39, 41, 42, 47, 52, 55, 58, 59), PM] twice
(these raglan markers indicate the divisions between right sleeve, front, left sleeve, and back sections)
This establishes where the sleeves, front and back are. The sleeves are worked with a garter panel down the middle, while the front and back are worked in stockinette st. [learn more about basic stitch patterns here].
When you are working back and forth, garter stitch is created by knitting every row, but in the round garter stitch is created by knitting on 1 round and purling on the next. Stockinette in the round is created by knitting every round. Since you never turn your work, the right side is always facing you, and therefore the stitches are created differently.
Tip: If you are having trouble remembering where the garter panel goes (or you just want things to be a little more fool proof) you may want to place a marker on either side of the panel.
The Yoke of the sweater is created by increasing (with a kfb) at 8 points on the sweater, 2 sts increased for each sleeve and 2 sts increased on the front and the back. Once you have completed the yoke increases it’s time to measure. You will be working rounds ‘even’ (this means without increases, keeping the garter panel on the sleeves as set). If your round gauge matches that stated in the patter, you will need to work 6 (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 8, 6, 6, 8, 8,
8, 8, 4, 2, 0, 0) rounds even. If not you will work as many rows as necessary for your yoke to measure 5 (5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7, 7.5, 8, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 10.5, 11, 11.5, 12.5) inches deep. Measure from cast on.
::: Separate Body and Sleeves :::
Now for the fun part: Once you separate the body and sleeves it will start to look like an actual sweater! You will be placing your sleeve sts on waste yarn, casting on sts at the underarm, and joining the front and back.
Next Round: [place 26 (29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 38, 43, 45, 47, 49, 53, 58, 62, 67, 71, 77) sts on waste yarn (the sts from BOR to first marker), using backwards loop method <link> CO 4 (4, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 10, 12, 12) sts, knit to marker] twice
Now you will have just the body sts on your needles with 2 sleeves on waste yarn. Starting to look like a sweater yet?
::: Body :::
Here comes the easy peasy miles of stockinette! Just knit knit knit until your piece is 5 (5.5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 14, 13.5, 13.5, 14.5, 14.5, 15.5, 16.5, 17, 17.5, 18.5, 18.5) inches from underarm (or 1 (1.5) inches short of desired length for child (adult) sizes). Change to smaller needles and rib for 1 (1.5) inches.
Binding off in pattern: for a regular bind off you are working 2 knit sts, passing the first over the second, knitting another stitch, passing the first over the second etc [tutorial here]. Binding off in pattern is almost the same, but instead of knitting each of the sts you are working them in pattern.
For this sweater it will be: k1, p1, pass st over, k1, pass st over, p1, pass st over, etc.
::: Sleeves :::
Place 26 (29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 38, 43, 45, 47, 49, 53, 58, 62, 67, 71, 77) held sts on larger dpns or 16” circ needle for larger sizes. Knit across these sts then pick up and knit 2 (2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6) sts from body at underarm, PM*, pick up and knit 2 (2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6) more sts from body at underarm, then join for working in the round.
If you are doing one of the larger sizes, it’s easiest to start with a 16″ circular needle and switch to DPN’s when you have worked a few decrease rounds.
For the smaller sizes you will be picking up your stitches on DPN’s and the easiest way to distribute them is putting the sts from the BOR to the garter panel on N1, the garter panel on N2, and the rest of the sts on N3. The beginning of your round is the first st on N1 (the middle of the underarm).
Once you have picked up all of your sts, you will join again for working in the round. You will have a small hole at the underarm, not to worry, we will stitch that up later.
Work even (maintaining garter panel as set) for 4 (4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 6, 4, 3, 2) inches. If you want to adjust the sleeve length, this is a good place to do it. If you want a longer or short sleeve, here is where you should add or subtract inches.
Work 5 rounds even.
Repeat the previous 6 rounds 1 (1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15) more times. [26 (29, 30, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 41, 41, 43, 45, 46, 48, 51, 53, 57) sts]
Continue working sleeve as instructed, you already have all the skills required!
Tip: Making 2 the same
The important thing about knitting sleeves is making 2 the same (sounds obvious right?). So make sure to take notes on the number of rounds you work as you go.
- how many rounds to the first decrease?
- how many rounds after the last decrease but before the ribbing?
- how many rounds in the ribbing?
::: Finishing :::
You have put a lot of work into your first sweater so don’t skip blocking, it’s an important step. Blocking will make your stitches even out and lie flat and generally ‘smooth out’ your work. It’s easy to block a sweater out of proportion if you aren’t careful. Make sure you have your measuring tape handy and that your chest measurements and length are as desired.
This tutorial is part of The Simple Collection – our 100% free learn-to-knit series. Check out the 8 fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family! Like our work? Get our email updates and we will let you know about new patterns, tutorials, and events.
Kfb is an increase that uses 1 stitch to make 2 sts. A kfb looks like a knit stitch and a little purl stitch off of it. We use this increase in the Flax pullover, an adorable free pattern that is part of The Simple Collection.
::: How to work kfb (knit front and back) :::
Step 1: knit into the next st without taking it off the left hand needle. You now have a loop on both the right and left needle.
Step 2: knit into the same stitch again through the back loop and take it off the left hand needle.