Knits of the Round

If you’re geeky enough to get the reference in the title, I love you a lot.

For a few weeks, Real Life has done a really good job of getting in the way of anything fun, and my desk is currently groaning under the weight of piles of yet-to-be-filed paperwork. Well, while the weather’s this nice, the deskwork can wait. Who knows how long summer will last this time?

One of the things I love the best about Britain is how the public makes a unanimous decision to slack off whenever the sun comes out. Not for us the cocky assurance of continuous good weather for a sustained part of the year! Show us a blue sky, however short-lived, and we’ll show you midday beers, optimistically purchased convertibles with their soft tops finally retracted, and one-minute-pasty-white-next-minute-violent-red man boobs.

Overwhelmed, perhaps, by this sudden abundance of exposed flesh, I have found it difficult to think about woollens lately – especially as my technical skill remains as ever limited to scarves. The intention to begin working on a blanket has fizzled into nothingness after numerous failed attempts at crocheting granny squares, and the cheap yarn to which I still limit myself is suffering the effects of repeated unravellings.

So for the time being I’ve decided to concentrate on building on my meagre repertoire of techniques. So far this has been trying out different ways of knitting in the round.

A few weeks ago I was lonely and fed up on a Saturday night, and so I drank most of a bottle of wine and decided to try to figure out how double pointed needles work. The needles I had picked up for next to nothing at Machynlleth market, although to be honest I didn’t think I’d get around to trying them out for quite a while. Until earlier this year when I read Scarlett Thomas’s (disappointing) novel Our Tragic Universe, I was unaware that knitting needles came in shapes other than the traditional ‘skinny-drumstick’ style. In the novel, Thomas makes much of the protagonist’s practically supernatural ability to learn how to use DPNs from a book; having read that, I was ready for my own not-quite-sober attempt to teach myself off of the internets to be a hilarious fiasco.

Well yeah, it’s a bit fiddly, but I don’t really know what all the fuss was about.

Sorry about the picture quality. Like I said, I wasn’t exactly sober.

I was chugging along quite happily with this little practice piece for a few days, until I took a crowded commuter train to Sheffield, got jostled by a businessman and dropped a needle. NEVER MIND. I found the trickiest thing, as usual, was maintaining equal tension all the way around; so it was knit far too tightly for the most part anyway, so Mr Clumsy actually did me a favour, I suppose.

Following a week or two of putting off starting a new DNP adventure, however, the ridiculously talented morganhausen kindly pointed me towards the fantastic magic loop method of knitting in the round. It’s this technique I’ve been practising in spare moments since then.

As promised, it was far easier than the fiddly DPNs, although I’m still having tension issues where the break in the needle comes. I’m sure they’ll sort themselves out with practise, though.

Next up in my making-it-up-as-I-go-along curriculum are increasing and reducing stitches.

And now the bit where I get to write about music … I hope some readers will recognise the LP in the photo above. The BBC has (quite rightly) been showing a lot of love for Fleetwood Mac in the last few weeks. My dad is a big fan and used to play their tapes as he drove us to France in the summer holidays when I was smaller; now their songs bring to mind memories of sun, barbecues, travel sickness and bee stings. Here’s the song from Tusk with the best name.


About Sarah

Still just trying to make sense of the world.
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9 Responses to Knits of the Round

  1. morganhausen says:

    DPNs and public transport are mortal enemies. I found that one out the hard way too 😦
    But I’m so chuffed you’re using the magic loop! I get the awkward tension with it too sometimes so I just pull a little tighter at the breaks.

    P.S. Fleetwood Mac ♥

  2. Knoob says:

    It’s a wonderful technique! For me it’s the opposite problem though, I’ve been making it TOO tight at the breaks. I think I’m overcompensating for the looseness I was leaving when using DPNs, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time.

    If you have any more wonder-techniques for easy knitting, please share!

  3. I had similar problems with magic loop knitting for tubey things. Not so bad for the middle of berets. But you can get really short (20cm) circular needles small enough for socks. I bought mine from Addi Needles UK. They are really surprisingly east to use. At least that is what I found.

  4. I just learned the magic loop technique last February. I like it, but I don’t have a problem with DPNs.(though I do tend to lose them). Try BIG dpns sometime – here’s a link to a super easy felted mitten pattern that uses size 10 (US). These were some of the first things I ever knit.

    • Knoob says:

      Thanks! I certainly will try that. I want to get some experience with chunky needles but I might practise with my flatmate’s drumsticks first.

  5. Re slacking off in good weather – it made me grin. I used to teach at the University of Oregon (U.S.) in Eugene, which is VERY rainy (raining, in fact, regularly into July). On the few beautiful spring days without rain, class attendance would be VERY low …. so I started giving extra points to the students who turned their backs on the sun to come to class to hear me lecture. 🙂

    • Knoob says:

      Couldn’t you have taken the class outside?! Learning to appreciate the beauty of nature is an essential part of people’s education too!

      • The students tried to convince me to do that, but I couldn’t project my voice enough so that 50 students sitting on a lawn could hear me.. 🙂

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