Sunday, September 24, 2006

Splicing Ladder Yarn

So I go to the Dollar Tree for shampoo and toothpaste and stuff, and I walk past a pile of boxes in the aisle where they keep the gift wrap and ribbon. The boxes are still taped shut, but I am like a Coast Guard drug dog.

There is yarn in one of those boxes.

The box in question is upside down, and therefore the word "yarn," which is in six-point type on the shipping label, is upside down, and the box is on the bottom of the pile, but I smell yarn. I come to a halt and cajole a clerk into opening the box, where I find two different colorways of Paton's "Evita." It is soft and drapey and fuzzy and fun.

The colorway in shades of forest, lime, and gold wants to be a big pillow for the futon in Mom's spare room, which is in shades of green and yellow. The colorway in brown, black, white and grey wants to be a quick-knit poncho for me. It sort of matches my hair.

Besides, I need two new UFO's.

So I take it all home and re-wind a few balls, grab a size 8 circular, pop a movie into the DVD player, and launch into an Idiot's Delight Poncho.

That was quick! Hm, I like the fabric. The movie is over. I've run out of yarn and now I need to join a new ball, but I hate weaving in ends. What to do?

Why don't you try this with me? Hint: to get a larger, and therefore better, view of the details, click on the lower right hand corner of each picture.

Do you still have your latch hook from the '70s when you made that purple mushroom throw rug for your dorm room? The one with the ladybug on the mushroom?

Good. Run and find it -- the latch hook, not the mushroom rug. I know the rug is in your dog's crate.

Weren't born yet? Don't sweat -- borrow your Mom's latch hook ... or run over to the LYS. You can also usually find a handful of vintage latch hooks in almost every thrift store, too. I'll wait.

You're back? Good.

Here we go: pointing the business end of Ye Groovy Old Latch Hook toward the cut end of the old yarn, weave it snugly in and out of the ladders for a few inches:

Now grab the cut end of the new ball with the little hook, and push the latch closed over the loose end, like this:

Now, holding the tip of the old yarn with your free hand, gently pull the new end through the old end until the ladders interlock smoothly over the space of a few inches:

Ta-da! I left the last 1/4 inch of the ends showing so you could see, but later I gave the yarn a little, tiny tug, and those ends disappeared. If you line up the ends of this join using matching color segments, the join vanishes entirely.

You can actually do this faster than you can read the last few sentences.

Now go ahead and knit.

Oh, the pattern:

Mambocat's "Idiot's Delight Poncho:"

Find some textured yarn that you like, and make a swatch in stocking stitch, starting with the needle size suggested on the ball band. Change needle sizes every few rows until you you like the look and drape of the resulting fabric.

Figure out how many stitches per inch that works out to, and cast on enough stitches to go loosely over your head. You need to have a number divisible by four, so add a few stitches if necessary. Don't cast on fewer stitches to arrive at a number divisible by four -- it's better a tad too loose going over the head, than too tight.

Join ends and purl the first round, placing a stitch marker every time you've knit one-fourth of the cast-on stiches -- so if you cast on 100 stitches, place a marker every 25th stitch. Use a different color marker for the beginning of the round.

Knit round and round in stocking stitch, alternating these two rounds:

Round 1: Knit around
Round 2: **Knit to marker, slip marker. Make one, knit one, make one. Knit to next marker. Repeat from ** three more times.

Keep going until it's big enough ... or until you are almost out of yarn. Knit the last couple of rounds in garter stitch or seed stitch to prevent rolling, then cast off loosely. I-cord cast off is good too.

Go back to the neckline, pick up the original number of stitches, and cast off using your favorite method. This gives support to the garment, and eliminates the roll of stocking stitch. Or, you could pick up a row or two of single crochet around the neck for the same effect.

This poncho is a premium TV or movie project, or last-minute gift poncho. It will knit itself.

Pop it on, run out and enjoy the fall weather.



At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Robbyn said...

That latch-hook method of joining the ladder yarns is just brilliant! Very, very clever :)

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Barbara-Kay said...

Oh, thank you, oh gracious one. I so needed to know what to do with this yarn, and how to join it! A million thanks!

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Whirly Sue said...

As my Grandma would have said 'you're a clever old stick'

At 5:21 PM, Anonymous shespins said...

This sounds like the beginnings of the impossible sweater-a folk pattern which was adapted in a Threads magazine by Meg Swanson and is in Hand knitting techniques from Threads also. It is a neat sweater which can use up all your odds and ends-it is diagonal lines so the different colors, textures etc provide much interest.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Xeres said...

Dammit, Dammit.

You are going to get me knitting again, I just know it.

I DON'T HAVE TIME!!!!!! Besides, it's coming on to summer here!

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dez, you are a genius. I make a lot of Eros scarves, but never am able to satisfactorily hide the joins. Today I tried your technique and it worked perfectly. I added a drop of invisible glue because Eros is so slippery, but two rows later couldn't see the join. I never did find it again. Thank you, O Your Geniusness.
Ruth, in Petaluma

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Jess said...

Ye Olde Latch hook - brilliant!


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