With last week's impulse yarn-buy inspiring a new knit cap, the next step was to select needles. The yarn label recommended #11— the bigger the number, the fatter the needle. I had straight #11 needles, but I was going to knit "in the round" whereby the entire piece is done at once, with no seaming, so I needed circular and double-pointed needles.
I popped into Mabel's Café & Knittery (3041 SE Division, 231-4107, mabelscafe.com) to buy double-pointed #US needles ($9), a #11 16" circular needle ($10.25), and a latte ($3). Walking into Mabel's is like walking into a dear friend's living room— especially if this friend has great taste in yarn and has decorated the house with it.
I was itching to knit. I seriously recommend taking a beginning class for never-before knitters. Local classes usually cost around $45 plus materials. Another indispensable resource is Debbie Stoller's Stitch-N-Bitch, The Knitter's Handbook and Stitch-N-Bitch Nation. When stuck, I look things up in a snap and am back on the road to Knitville in minutes.
To test the gauge (how many stitches per inch with a combination of yarn, needle size, and the tendency to knit tightly or loosely) I made a swatch by "casting on" (first row of stitches, starting with a slipknot) eight stitches. I then knit across each row for four inches. The yarn's fur jeopardized accuracy, but I think I was getting two stitches to the inch (which is what the label said I would get with a #11 needle). I multiplied 2 x 21 (per Stevanie's advice) and got a cast on count of forty-two.
After casting on, I knit in the round for four inches. Although the circumference looked correct, the cap was suspiciously short in length. I transferred the stitches to three double-pointed needles (fourteen stitches per needle, with a stitch marker at every seven). Mathematically, this should have worked. But on my last needle I had seven stitches, a stitch marker, and then twelve stitches.
To decrease, I knit "two-together" (bring two stitches to the right-hand needle and knit as if it's one) before each stitch marker and the ends of each needle. I randomly knit two-together to take care of the extra five stitches. When I got down to the last four stitches (after about 3 hours), I cut the yarn and pulled the end through the stitches, drawing the cap to a close. The unruly yarn camouflaged my mistakes beautifully— only it couldn't stop the Bluebird/Camp Fire Girl flashbacks. I'd made a beanie!
Note: Mabel's has morphed from a yarn shop to the knit and crochet friendly Tandem Coffee Shop.
Next Week: Knit Cap—Part 3
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