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Top Tip Tuesday – The Magic Loop

15 Oct

This week’s top tip is probably well known amongst seasoned knitters, however I only used it for the first time last week!

I used to buy specific sizes of circular knitting needles for every new project, until I discovered my interchangeable knitting needles.  I now (hopefully) have every length of cable and size of needle I’ll ever need!

Avid readers will know that I’ve just started knitting hats, however my circular needle set only comes with long cables.  This isn’t really an issue if you adopt the magic loop method which allows you to knit a small circumference on much larger cable needles.

It’s simple really:

  1. Using a 40″ cable, cast on the required number of stitches
  2. Fold your cable and point both needles to the right – lay it out in front of you.
  3. Count along half of your cast on stitches, and at the half way point start to pull the cable through these stitches.  This is what creates the ‘magic loop’! You have now created a much smaller circumference to work with.
  4. Join in the round in your usual way.  You’re now ready to carry on knitting in the round!

2013-10-10 18.59.12[1]

This photo shows my hat project in the more advanced stages, and you can see the magic loop on the left hand side.  Each time you finish half a round, simply count out the next half of your stitches, pull the cable through and carry on knitting.  You can use a stitch marker if you like, but I always use the tail of my cast on row as a guide.  Seeing as you’re counting out half the stitches each time you make a loop, it’s easy to tell when you have finished a round, or are only half way through one.

Happy knitting!

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Tutorial – Blocking a Knitted Scarf – The Soak & Spin Method

20 Feb

As I move on to more robust and chunky woolen knits, I find that the steam method of blocking just isn’t up to scratch.

This scarf was more of a tube than a rectangle...

This scarf was more of a tube than a rectangle…

Maybe the wool isn’t getting wet enough to be reshaped properly or I’m not leaving the scarf pinned in place for long enough?

Either way I thought it was time to take the plunge and try a new approach – the soak and spin method!  I’ve been far too cowardly to try this in the past for fear that my scarf unravels or felts into a big fuzzball before my eyes.  However,  seeing as my last scarf decided to fold in on itself in such a stubborn fashion, I knew that my usual Steam Method just wouldn’t cut it.

I found this method after perusing many crafty articles online and decided to share my own experience and my own take on it:

Blocking – The Soak & Spin Method

You will need:

A bedGreyScarf2[1]
Towels
A lot of dress making pins
A washing machine
A basin or bucket
Wool detergent
A pillowcase

1. Following the instructions on your wool detergent, fill a basin or bucket with the appropriate amount of detergent and luke warm water and pop the scarf in to soak for about 10 minutes.

GreyScarf3[1]2. Roll the scarf up carefully in the water and remove from the bucket.  Empty and refill the bucket with clean water before popping the scarf back in to rinse.  Give the scarf a gentle swirl before re-rolling it up and squeezing as much water as you can out of the scarf.  Be careful not to twist the scarf and support it as much as possible as you get rid of the excess water.

3. Put your rolled up scarf into the bottom corner of the pillowcase and tie a strong knot to ensure that it can’t move around.  Pop the pillow case into the washing machine for a fast spin cycle.  [Optional – Sit with a cup of tea and worry frantically that your scarf has somehow escaped from the pillowcase and is now getting into a right mess in your washing machine – this won’t actually happen, but I couldn’t help but stress the first time I did this!]

This pic isn't necessary - I just always thought looking into a washing machine whilst on spin was mesmerizing!

This pic isn’t necessary – I just always thought looking into a spinning washing machine was mesmerizing!

4. Once the spin has finished, take the scarf out and gently unfold it onto the towels – I find it easiest to spread the towels out onto my bed so no one should accidentally step on it!  Gently shape the scarf into your desired width and length before pinning it down – the more pins the better to ensure it retains its shape.

5. Leave for a good few hours to ensure that the scarf has completely dried.  Ideally do this in the morning and leave all day, or if you have a spare room then leave it overnight.GreyScarf5[1]

I was so happy when I pulled the scarf out of the pillowcase and discovered it hadn’t miraculously untangled – I don’t know why I had been so nervous about attempting this method before!  There’s actually not a lot of work involved and giving your scarf a proper wash means it smells especially nice and fresh!

GreyWoolScarf2This Grey Wool Ribbed Scarf was knitted using 100% British wool from Suffolk and is available to purchase in my Etsy shop.

Tutorial – Blocking a Knitted Scarf

19 Jul

My first tutorial!

Last year I finished knitting a cable scarf which had a bumpy look to it and curled at the edges.  At first I wasn’t sure how to fix this but after a bit of Googling I discovered ‘blocking’!  I read a few tutorials but they all seemed rather complicated so I have simplified things a little.  As the end result was pretty successful I thought it might be helpful to share it.  I have used this method on merino wool and blends of 70% merino wool and 30% acrylic.

Blocking – The Steam Method

You will need:

A bed
Towels
A lot of dress making pins
An iron with a good steam function

1. Lie the towels on the bed to protect the sheets from any excess water and lie the scarf on top.

2. Uncurl the edges as you go and pin the scarf to the towel.  Secure the scarf with as many pins as it takes for it to hold the desired shape – ensure that the wool is taught but not overly stretched.  Depending on the length of your scarf and the size of your bed you can pin half the scarf, go through the rest of the steps and then start again with the other half.

This is a really long scarf so I’m only pinning half at a time.

3. Turn the iron up to its highest setting and whilst holding it roughly 1″ away from the scarf, start to steam.  Work your way slowly up the length of the scarf, steaming as you go.  Be careful not to touch the scarf with the iron or your hands as it will get very hot.

Be careful with that steam!

4. Repeat step 3 a couple of times before leaving the scarf to cool and dry.

The edges will probably require extra pins.

5. After an hour or so you can begin to unpin the scarf.  If it still curls slightly at the edges then you can repeat steps 3 and 4 again, although I haven’t had to do this yet.  It will depend on the style of the scarf whether you want it to be completely flat or not.  If you are happy with the result, the scarf can be unpinned completely.

The end result – I didn’t want this scarf to be completely flat as I love the subtle waves of the cable design, however the blocking has definitely improved the shape.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to share them below.  This malabrigo merino wool scarf is available to purchase in my Etsy shop –

If you prefer to knit your own scarf you can also buy the pattern from The Fibre Friend on Etsy.