6 Tips for Knitting in the Dark

6 Tips for Knitting in the Dark

Knitting in the dark is not a weird or rare as you might think.  Knitters can be creatures of efficiency and sitting in the dark watching a movie or a concert, or riding home in the passenger seat while you literally do nothing else with your body but age is maddening.

If you are a restless person (like me) or a crafter who likes a challenge (like me), then knitting in the dark is absolutely something you should try.

Choose a simple project for knitting in the dark

Tip #1: Easy Does It

Set yourself up for success by choosing a simple project.  I know you’re the master of colorwork and cables, but this is stockinette-in-the-round time.  Been thinking about making a sweater but cringe at the thought of all that plain knitting?  This is the perfect marriage of entertainment and industry.  My favorite in-the-dark knitting is the leg or foot of a simple sock.

Practice knitting in the dark at home

Tip #2: Practice at Home

Practice at home with the lights on and try not to look while you watch a movie.  Feel the stitches in your hands and really get to know what your stitches feel like when they right and when they are wrong.  Your hands can tell you A LOT.

Then take it up a notch by watching a subtitled movie or turning off the lights.  See how well you do at not looking, at noticing with your hands if there are any mistakes, at enjoying the movie.

Choose your needles wisely (not these!)

sub: Tip #3: Choose Needles Wisely

Leave your long, clicky, shiny aluminum needles at home.  And absolutely no light up needles if you’re at an event — those things are really bright!  Consider using circular needles instead of straights or double pointed needles.  I’m old school and like my DPNs, but I’ve had to put down a project more than once for the remainder of a show because I dropped a needle.

Roll with the mistakes -- you can recover

Tip #4: Roll with the Problems

I hope you’re comfortable fixing your knitting because you will drop stitches occasionally, or mix up your knits and purls if you’ve ignored tip #1 and are doing ribbing.  I’ve made all of these mistakes.  Sometimes it possible to fix them by feel; sometimes you’re only 15 minutes into the movie and you nip out to the hallway to get back on track.  Sometimes you don’t notice until the show is over and the lights come on; sometimes you just tuck the misbehaving wool into your bag and put your head on your neighbor’s shoulder.

I get so much knitting done in the dark that the mistakes are a negligible issue.

Tip #5: Don’t Overdo It

You probably don’t knit for two hours straight on the regular, so put your project down if your hands start to ache.  I like to take breaks and hold hands with my husband.  Awww!  By the way, this is also a great way to warm up your hands if they’re cold.

Knitting in the car, in the dark!

Tip #6: Know the Venue

Whenever you knit in public, it’s important to consider the venue and other attendees.  In recent months, I’ve knit in the dark during a movie (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), a small folk music concert (dropped a needle right after intermission), and in the car while my husband drove us home from holiday gatherings.  All of these were fairly casual.

At a more formal setting, like going to a theatrical production, I bring my knitting and I might knit before the show starts and during intermission, but not during the show.  A friend told me she doesn’t knit in the car because it’s distracting to her husband.  Tragic!  But these are important considerations.

Do you like to knit in the dark?  Have any funny stories?  Share in the comments!

 

How to Make and Insert Thrums

A flock of finished thrums

Thrums might sound like something that’s hard to make, but they’re not.  You do need to be a secure knitter who has the dexterity down for knitting in general.  If you’ve knit a hat in the round, you can absolutely handle any project that uses thrums.

Hey Knitters! Here's How to Make and Insert Thrums

There are different ways to make thrums.  Go look it up!  This is the way I like to do it.  In my opinion, this technique makes thrums that won’t easily come undone or lose fibers, and — when done right — is not too bulky.

Picture Tutorial on How to Make Thrums

Combed top makes fantastic thrums
1. Fluff out one end of the combed top

 

Pull out a small piece of combed top to make a thrum
2. Pull out a slender piece of combed top to begin shaping your thrum
At first the combed top will be too thick for a thrum
3. That piece of combed top will be too thick to make a thrum
Strip down the combed top to get a small piece for making a thrum
4. Strip down the combed top one or more times to get a thinner piece for making a thrum. Go thinner than you think — all that fluff adds up inside your project.
This wispy piece of combed top is see-through, especially at the ends
5. This wispy piece of combed top is see-through, especially at the ends
Pull the thrum at either end so that is is evenly see through from top to bottom
6. Gently pull the thrum from either end until it is evenly see through from top to bottom
Fold up the ends of the thrum to meet in the middle
7. Fold up the ends of the thrum to meet in the middle
Pinch the thrum in the middle and rub with your fingers to felt it into a bow shape
8. Pinch the thrum in the middle and rub with your fingers to felt it into a bow shape
This is what a finished thrum looks like!
9. This is what a finished thrum looks like!

Picture Tutorial on How to Insert Thrums

To add thrum to project, insert right needle into row below
10. To add a thrum to your project, insert the right needle into the row below
Wrap thrum instead of yarn over right needle, in the back
11. Wrap thrum instead of yarn over right needle, in the back
Pull thrum through stitch in the row below
12. Pull thrum through stitch in the row below
Insert right needle into stitch above where thrum was inserted
13. Insert right needle into stitch above where thrum was inserted
Stitch is knit! Next you will jump thrum over this stitch.
14. Stitch is knit! Next you will jump thrum over this stitch
After you jump thrum over stitch on the left, it is seated tidily into its new home
15. After you jump thrum over stitch on the left, it is seated tidily into its new home. Gently tug it in the back if you think it needs to be evened up.
Ta da! That's a thrum done
16. Ta da! That’s a thrum done

So sally forth and make some mittens!  Check out my Warm Paws pattern on Ravelry.  Thrummed mittens make an impressive gift without being impressively difficult to make.

Or maybe you’re an overachiever like me and want to take to the next level.  Thrums are also great inside hats and slippers!  If those ideas make your heart go pitter patter, be the boss and figure it out.

Get thee gone and knit!

Warm Paws Thrummed Mittens Pattern

Inside the Warm Paws thrummed mittens

Warm Paws is an easy to follow knitting pattern for making thrummed mittens.  What are thrummed mittens?  I’m so glad you asked!

Warm Paws Thrummed Mittens pattern

The term originally comes from weaving, where thrums are the leftover warp on the loom after a project has been cut off.  What to do with all that leftover yarn??

Thrums are traditionally loom waste

For knitters, thrums are tufts of wool knit into your project to create a warm, fleecy lining.  Thrums are great for mittens, slippers, hats, and headbands.  At first your mittens (or whatever you choose to make) will be really puffy, but, with use, the air is pressed out of the tufts of wool and you’re left with windproof, insulated mittens.

Inside the Warm Paws thrummed mittens

Materials for Your Thrummed Mittens

To make these mittens, you need about 200 yards of worsted weight wool and about 2 oz of unspun wool.

Materials for knitting thrums

Combed top is the easiest to work with — that’s the really smooth fiber preparation that is often sold in beautiful multicolored braids.

Hand painted combed top for making thrums

Roving will work too, if you want to use what you have around the house.  Because the fiber prep for roving is intentionally disorganized (for making woolen-spun yarn), it can be a bit more challenging to control, but I have done it and it’s not so hard that it’s not worth trying.

Wool roving can be used to make thrums

I also know someone who used a two-ply bulky yarn and cut it into short lengths to use for thrums.  She still wears those mittens, so it must have worked!

The pattern calls for US 6 and US 8 needles, but your mileage may vary depending on whether you’re a tight knitter or a loose knitter or winging it with something other than worsted weight yarn.

Heard enough?  You can buy the Warm Paws Thrummed Mittens pattern for $5 through Ravelry.

button to buy now

Warm Paws Thrummed Mittens in progress

5 Ways to Show Your Knitting Who’s Boss

5 Ways to Show Your Knitting Who's Boss

Project funks are a fact of life. Sometimes work gets busy or life gets life-y and you come home and mind meld with the couch. Even the comfort of knitting is no fun if you have a lot of stress in your life and the self-imposed deadline to finish that hat before your friend’s birthday is just too much. Or knitting while laying down is just too uncomfortable (I’ve tried!) and horizontal wins yet again.

Why should your hobbies stress you out?

Well, that’s a question for philosophers to debate. I don’t have all the answers.

Sometimes you get in a funk because every project around you seems to fail. Your WIP pile is woolly madness.

Be the Boss of Your Knitting

Elizabeth Zimmermann taught me to be the boss of my knitting and now that’s my motto.  It’s just yarn. You can get frustrated. You can throw that POS in the corner when you find a glaring mistake 14 rows down and you don’t know how to fix it. Or you don’t want to.  Or you just want to be petulant for a while before you go back to being an adult and fixing the mistake.

You can cry. You can give up. But remember: you are still the one in charge, not the twisted hair of farm animals dyed in luscious colors that you can’t resist touching, much less buying.

Here are five options to consider when the wool doesn’t go your way:

Get Help

Be the boss of your knitting by getting help at knit night

Sometimes a pattern isn’t working and a second set of eyes makes all the difference. This is one of the awesome aspects of Knit Night!

Put It in Time Out

Be the boss of your knitting by putting it in time out

Out of sight, out of mind for a day (or more…) will help reset your expectations, or give your unconsciousness a chance to work through a problem so you can suddenly stand up and say “Ah ha! I’ve figured it out!”

I often go from Time Out to the next option…

Rip It Out

Be the boss of your knitting by ripping it out

Knitting is your hobby, not your job (probably). If what you’re making isn’t bringing you joy, make yourself a comforting beverage, sit down in front of your favorite TV show and rip, rip, rip. It might seem scary at first, but it is VERY cathartic.

Give It Away

Be the boss of your knitting by giving bad projects away

If you can’t bear to look at it, give your project a new home, finished or not. There are always knitters grateful for something new to play with, or non-knitters happy to score a handmade item.

Get Creative

Be the boss of your knitting by getting creative with things that don't work out

That hat coming out too small and you’re not sure you like the yarn anyway? With a sewing machine and some moxie, you can turn that . . . thing into bean bags or microwavable hand warmers or cat toys or . . . well, if I gave you all the answers, there’d be no room for creativity.

Be Sentient and Proud of It

I am a big fan of #2, time out. My WIP basket is currently at ## projects — and that’s just the knitting.  Once a year or so, I take an inventory and discover what I’m ready to let go of and what I still love and want to finish.

What are your solutions to misbehaving projects?  Share in the comments!

When Too Many Projects Overwhelm

Photo of knitting the Flax sweater

Fall, fall, we all fall into fall.

I am in a snarl of too many projects and can’t seem to find my way out.

The problem with too many projects is that nothing gets done. My projects are like reflections of my moods and whichever pulls me at the moment is the one that gets worked on. But when I have a lot of projects, it starts to feel narcissistic. Or like a form of multiple personality disorder. How do I feel RIGHT NOW? What project is the perfect match for my state of mine in this genuine moment? Which garment type? This stitch complexity? That color?

And when I catch myself tangled up with indecision that granular and, frankly, insignificant, that’s when the herd gets culled. It’s for my mental health after all. I want to work on my projects, not just think about them. I want the satisfaction of finishing in a reasonable amount of time.

Here’s a pic I posted to Instagram this weekend:
A photo of knitting works-in-progress

So here’s the list of things on the needle (which I have touched in the past month; never mind the things that are already back-burnered) — clockwise from top left if you like a visual, with links to Ravelry project pages if you want more info:

  • Gift socks for the holidays. I started a new pair of socks last week. I’m trying to work on it when the recipient isn’t home. By which I mean I’m trying to not work on it when the recipient is home. Those aren’t the same things.
  • A sock sample for Washtenaw Wool Co. in our half-stripe/half speckle dye application.
  • Sockathon #2, my neverending quest to knit up scrappy socks with leftover sock yarn. I still love working on this and it’s small enough that I almost always have it with me.
  • Cowl design, long overdue, half knit up.
  • Wheaten scarf in Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days, my impulse purchase at Northern Michigan Lamb & Wool Festival. This yarn is so delicious (100% BFL) and I have been wanting to knit this pattern for a long time.
  • Susanna IC’s Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit-a-long, from August/September. I’m about halfway done. I was really enjoying this project, but had to set it aside for some deadline knitting. It’s a relatively easy knit and the yarn—old Koigu KPPPM liberated from my sister’s stash—is delicious.
  • Flax sweater in Shepherd’s Wool, started for a class I was teaching. I screwed up the sleeve garter panel and need to rip and reknit the whole thing. Sigh.
  • Thrummed mittens for a class I’m teaching, pattern of my own devising. (Not pictured; don’t know where they’re at! Somewhere in the house.)

I am harsh at this point. No matter how many projects I am considering, I always narrow the list to two, one that takes concentration and one that doesn’t. With focus, things get done quickly — sometimes even just a day or two — and then I can get back to other items on the list. Or, with the distance of time, I’ll decide something isn’t working for me and I’ll rip it out (usually precipitated because I need the needles or the storage space).

I know which two projects it needs to be.