Northman Mitten KAL: Of braids, stripes and opticial illusions

January 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm 1 comment

Northman in progressWell, the Northman Mittens knitters took off knitting like mad on January 20th. There are some seriously speedy knitters out there, but I suspect many of you are more like me and are still working on their first mitten.

I settled on knitting on US 3 needles, US 4 were just a hair too big. I am also working with one yarn in each hand. This method makes it much easier for me to keep track of where my yarn is flowing along the back of the mitten. But it is slow going as I haven’t really got the rhythm of knitting in this fashion down. I must tell you I am more impressed and inspired by those who knit stranded colorwork in multiple colors for an entire sweater than I was before.

The topic that generate the most discussion in the Ravelry thread is the braid rows after the cast on. It seemed to cause a bit of trouble and then people came up with all sorts of solutions besides sticking with the directions. One reason that the braid was a bit challenging was that some KAL participants wanted a two color braid rather than the one color called for in the pattern. The following lists the multiple ways participants made their braids:

  1. Follow the instructions in the pattern and take the yarn strands under on each row (all in one color).
  2. Cast on in one color, follow instructions to use working yarn and yarn tail as two strands, then purl first row of the braid taking the strands under each other, then on the second row over each other.
  3. Cast on in one color. When starting the braid, use the yarn you have been knitting with for one strand and add your other color as the second strand, then do the same as in #2, your colors will alternate.
  4. Do a two color cast on (there are multiple ways to do this, look around for instructions). Then do as in #2 as well.

To our amazement, we discover how different a braid knit in the exact same fashion will appear in two colors versus one color. In the picture below, the braids were each knit taking each strand under purl stitch on the first row and over each purl stitch on the second row of the braid (see 2 and 3 above). This places the purl stitches in between the twisted braid edges. Look at the arrows in the picture below. Each one pointing to a purl bump. Yet when you just glance at the two pictures, the purl bumps in two color braid seem to “disappear”. The stripes trick our eyes into not seeing the purl bumps. I am just amazed by this optical illusion. But it did trick a lot of knitters’ eyes while we were all casting on and then saying  “But mine doesn’t look like that.”

Braid comparison with arrows

There are lots of helpful information being shared in the Ravelry thread. Unfortunately it is a bit challenging to share it all here in the blog. Here are some other helpful notes I want to highlight right now.

  • When knitting your thumbs, make sure to carry your floats as loosely as possible. There have been a few comments of thumbs seeming a little snug but nothing a little blocking could not solve.
  • Blocking is your friend as always. Check out our blocking post if you have never have washed and blocked your knitting.
  • Make sure when you start your second mitten that you make the opposite hand from the one you just finished.

Keep on knitting and be sure to share your progress. We would love to hear from you in the comments here on the blog or in our Ravelry group.

Other blog posts in this series:

This is quite the knitting adventure for me. Thanks for coming along. Keep reading and knitting!

~Angela M.

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Entry filed under: KAL/CAL, Ravelry, Tutorials / How to. Tags: , , , .

Featured Pattern: Stray Cat shawl NEW Polka Dot Sheep Pattern: Barleycove

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