I read Grumperina’s post on spirals a while ago and have been looking for a chance to try it out. I’ve also been looking for a project to knit on my new 9″ HiyaHiya circular needles. Enter the striped mitten.
It doesn’t show up well in the picture, but the subtle variation in colour of the Koigu wool is beautiful and makes me very happy.
Normally to add stripes to a knitted tube, you knit for a while in one colour, then switch colours, then knit for a while in the next colour, etc. Grumperina’s idea is that when you’re knitting in the round, you’re already knitting in spirals, so why not knit each colour in its own spiral? It’s like the red and white swirls on a candy cane – you can follow each stripe seamlessly from top to bottom.
The tutorial is done on double-pointed needles with each needle holding a different colour. I used a circular needle and two colours, but the basic idea is the same. I cast on half the stitches in green and half in grey (actually more of a smokey-purply-blue but grey is shorter to type).
The only rule from there on in was to knit into the grey stitches with green wool and knit into green stitches with grey wool. So if the next stitch on the left needle was green, I’d better be knitting a grey stitch next. Since I only had two colours, this translated into knitting a full round in one colour, then a full round in the other, switching colours only once per round. (If I had used three colours, I would have switched colours twice per round, four colours would have been three colour changes per round just like the tutorial.)
Above is a picture halfway through a round; below is a picture of what happens at the end of the round when transitioning from one colour to the next. Since the next stitch on the left needle is green, my rule says I swap over to the grey yarn. I leave the green yarn at the back of the work until the next time I switch colours. This picture is also proof that there are no “jogs” here – the colours really do spiral around each other.
And that was it. It took a while to get used to the tiny-ness of those little needles, but I found a way to do it without cramping (relaaaaaax) and realised things were coming along quite quickly. The mitts are actually finished by now and they’re already been for a walk by the water. Pictures of the finished product to follow…