Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Story Behind the Diamonds Twined Knitted Cap

Some years back, I acquired the book Twined Knitting: A Swedish Folkcraft Technique, by Birgitta Dandanell and Ulla Danielsson and translated into English by Robin Orm Hansen.  I was intrigued by the rich texture of the mitten-in-progress on the cover, and wanted to see how this technique was done.  I love learning new techniques, and applying them to my own knitting.  So as I read through this book and swatched some of the stitches, I dreamed of a hat in my own design in this technique. 

Twined knitting is a fascinating technique, which uses two strands of yarn (generally both ends of a center-pull ball) alternately throughout the knitting, which is typically done in the round.  To knit each new stitch, one must let go of the yarn used for the last stitch, and pick up the yarn from the stitch before it, bringing it over the yarn last used (for a knit stitch), or under the yarn last used (for a purl stitch).  This twists, or twines, the yarns  together on the back of the fabric, for a knit row, or on the front of the fabric, for a purl row.  The fabric created is somewhat thicker and firmer than a regular knitted fabric.

Knit diamond with Chain Path
Purl diamond with Chain Path

The twined knit stitch creates a smooth surface on the front of the fabric, while the twined purl stitch creates a horizontal ridged texture.  But the real fun (and rich texture) begins when one works a Crook Stitch.  A Crook Stitch contains three or more stitches with the two yarns held on opposite sides of the fabric.  When working Crook Stiches, the front yarn stays at the front and works only purl stitches, and the back yarn stays at the back and works only knit stitches.  For example, many patterns are worked with three-stitch groups, as follows:  p1 with the front yarn, k1 with the back yarn (leaving the purled yarn at the front of the work), p1 with the front yarn.  The front yarn is returned to the back of the work and the twined knit stitch is resumed until the next crook stitch is to be worked.  On the next row of the Crook Stitch pattern, the same three stitches would be worked as follows:  Bring the yarn to be purled to the front of the work,  k1 with the back yarn, p1 with the front yarn, k1 with the back yarn, then bring the front yarn to the back of the work.  This creates an O-shaped design on the front surface of the fabric, formed by the strands between the purl stitches, and it contrasts beautifully with the smooth surface of the twined knit stitch. 

A Column of Crook Stitch "O's"
Crook Stitch Diamond Pattern

If you work two entire rounds of crook stitches, keeping the purl yarn always at the front and the knit yarn always at the back, and working k1, p1 around on one round and p1, k1 around on the next, you will have a Chain Path.  Working several repeats of this Chain Path pattern creates a honeycomb-like pattern (see the backgrounds of the diamond patterns above).

I decided to use both Crook Stitches and Chain Paths in my cap design.  I used some lovely, buttery-soft yarn from Cascade Yarns, Cash Vero, to create my prototype cap.  The cap turned out beautifully, and I was very pleased with it.  I submitted a photo of this cap to the book 1000 Fabulous Knit Hats, and it ended up being used in the book, along with some of my other hat photos.  The cap was a hit with my local customers, and the original prototype soon sold.

The Original Twined Knitted Cap in Cash Vero

After a couple of people had inquired if the cap pattern was available, I decided to write up the pattern for publication.  After all, it was one of my favorites.  I went to order more of the yarn, and found that it had been discontinued.  I asked Cascade if they had anything similar, but the options they suggested somehow didn't seem quite right.  I finally decided to use their Alpaca Lana D'Oro, which is a soft and warm alpaca/wool blend, but a little thinner than the Cash Vero.

Using my notes from the original prototype (which were not complete, but did contain charts of the pattern elements from the original cap), I was able to knit another cap using the same number of stitches.  The cap seemed just a little bit small for an average sized head (Truthfully, the original was a bit on the small side, too).  I upped the needle size from a 7 to an 8, which made the cap slightly less dense and a little larger.  I also decided to try designing a medium and large size in this pattern.  Since I have not published multiple-size patterns before, this took extra time, as did writing instructions for the techniques needed to knit this cap.  After making a number of these caps in different sizes and yarns, I finally solidified the pattern and got it ready to publish.

So here it is, hot off the press!!  It is available for sale on Craftsy ( ), on Ravelry (, or in my Etsy shop (, whichever is more convenient for you.                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas #4

Reversible Brioche Rib Cap and Neckwarmer

Today's handmade gift idea is a warm, cozy, cushy stocking cap and/or a matching neckwarmer.  The Reversible Brioche Rib Cap is suitable for either a man or a woman.  It is warm and stretchy, and fits a range of head sizes.  The matching Reversible Brioche Rib Neckwarmer is a fun accessory which can be worn in different ways to create different looks.  One ball of each color should make both a cap and a neckwarmer.

The Brioche Rib stitch may sound daunting to some, but it is actually not difficult to do.  In fact, I find the basic stitch to be good for relatively mindless knitting.  Because it is knitted in two colors, it looks more complex than it is.  Shhh...don't tell anyone that only one color is knitted at a time!  The basic fabric has only a two-row repeat for the cap (which is knitted in the round), and a four-row repeat for the neckwarmer (which is knitted flat).  The most complex part of the cap pattern is the decreases for the crown, and the most complex part of the neckwarmer pattern is working the buttonhole.  The two-color brioche rib fabric has one color predominant on one side, and the other color predominant on the other side.  The patterns for these accessories contain tips and many photos of the techniques used in the projects, to help you knit the item successfully.

The neckwarmer can be worn in so many ways!  It is fastened by a button, and can be worn with the fastener in the front, in back, or on either side.  Wear it over or under your coat, depending on your mood.  The collar can be worn up or down, or with one side up and one down, to create many different looks.  See this blog post for ideas:  An Unexpected Opportunity for Creativity  In the meantime, here are a few photos to get the creative juices flowing:

These fun projects work up relatively quickly, and either or both would make a great gift!

Visit Mountain Mist's Craftsy Pattern Store »

Friday, November 8, 2013

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas #3

Another textured Christmas stocking is the Bavarian Twist Stitch Christmas Stocking.  The Bavarian Twist Stitch technique uses stitches that are knitted into the back of the stitch.  This creates a very crisply textured fabric.  The Bavarian Twist Stitch stocking has twist stitch cable patterns combined with  a ladder-like rib stitch, to create vertical stripes on the leg and foot of the sock.

Bavarian Twist Stitch Christmas Stocking
The 12-page pattern contains both written instruction and charts for most of the stocking, with the exception of the starting I-cord band, the heel and the toe shaping.  A photo tutorial is given for the heel turn and picking up stitches for the gusset, and another photo tutorial is given for picking up stitches from the i-cord band.

This pattern can be made very inexpensively, as it uses only one skein of Loops & Threads Impeccable.  A bonus...this yarn is on sale for $2.99 at Michael's this week (November 3-9, 2013)!   Plus, if you buy it on the 8th or the 9th, they have a coupon for 25% off your entire purchase, including sale items:    Good deal!

This yarn is quite sturdy and comes in a wide range of colors.  It is 100% acrylic, so it can be machine washed, if you (or its recipients) desire.

If you love working cables, this stocking is for you!  Enjoy your knitting, and make something absolutely fabulous for a friend or loved one this Christmas.

  Visit Mountain Mist's Craftsy Pattern Store »

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas #2

Perhaps you prefer color patterning to textured knitting.  Today's post focuses on two fair-isle patterned Christmas stocking patterns, both knitted with worsted-weight yarn.

Christmas Trees Stocking
This stocking has a Christmas Tree pattern on the top, and poinsettias along the leg.  The heel is worked in a stripe pattern, using short rows to turn the heel. The 10-page pattern includes fair isle charts, and lots of instructions and photos of the techniques used in the pattern.

 The Christmas Trees Stocking is knitted from Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, one skein each of two colors, using size 6 and 8 needles.

Another fair-isle Christmas stocking pattern is the Poinsettia Stocking.  This one is somewhat similar to the Christmas Trees Stocking, but with a slightly different look.
Poinsettia Stocking 

The Poinsettia Stocking has a Poinsettia pattern on the top, with a striped pattern on the leg and foot.  This 10-page pattern has a chart for the fair isle pattern, and written instructions for the rest of the sock.  Many photos of the techniques used are included, as well as tips and technique instruction.  The sock is knitted from Loops & Threads Impeccable (one skein each of two colors), or use your favorite worsted-weight yarn; needle sizes 6
and 8.

Here are a couple of close-ups of the completed stocking.  The sock has an attached I-cord hanging loop.

Either of these two stockings would make a lovely, long-lasting gift for a friend or loved one. 

Visit Mountain Mist's Craftsy Pattern Store »

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas #1

This time of year, many knitters are looking for ideas for quick projects to make as gifts for family and friends.  This series will focus on some unique handmade gift ideas.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift that will be used for many years, why not consider a hand knitted Christmas stocking?  The Christmas Garland Stocking uses two skeins of  Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, a sturdy yet beautiful wool/mohair blend yarn.   The pattern creates a Christmas stocking with a textured garland pattern at the top, and rib and cable stripes along the leg and foot.

The Christmas Garland Stocking pattern is a 15-page digital download that includes lots of technique information, both charts and written instructions for making the sock, and photo tutorials on techniques utilized in the pattern.

Here are some additional views of the stocking, in a Christmas green colorway:

 And a closeup of the garland pattern:

Several other Christmas stocking pattern styles are available in my shop, as well.  Happy Knitting!

Visit Mountain Mist's Craftsy Pattern Store »

Saturday, November 2, 2013

An Unexpected Opportunity for Creativity

One of my new pattern designs is a matching stocking cap and neckwarmer in reversible brioche rib, in two colors.  I was excited about using this technique, because the fabric looks slightly different on each side.  Each color makes a column of knit stitches on one side of the fabric, and a column of purl stitches on the other, so each side of the fabric has one color slightly more prominent than the other.

The folded-down collar is the "back" side of the fabric
In rhe course of designing and writing the pattern, I had made up a half dozen of these, and I wanted to include pictures of each one in my pattern.  So I spent some time this summer doing photo shoots of the different colorways I had made.  I always try to come up with interesting shots, as doing these photo sessions can get somewhat tedious.  As I began playing with this neckwarmer, I found more and more ways to style it!  Who knew a simple rectangle could be styled in so many different ways!  For example...collar up, collar down, one side up and one down, collar turned down like a shawl collar, button closure in the front, back, or at either side, under or over a coat...what fun!  Below are some of the many possibilities. 

 If you are interested in this pattern, it is available for sale at any of these venues:

 I love the versatility of this simple accessory!  What is your most versatile accessory?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Inspiration: Novelty Yarn


I was recently given a couple of skeins of Ice Yarns Frilly, a new novelty yarn that creates a ruffle when you knit or crochet with it.  This is a very popular type of yarn these days, and I had been meaning to try it but hadn’t gotten around to it.  Thanks to my daughter, Katie, I now had some to play around with.

I had the idea that I’d like to try something a little different with this yarn than the typical scarf pattern one usually sees it used for.  Katie had made a beautiful headband with some of hers, but I didn’t want to duplicate what she had done.

As I looked at the yarn (which in its un-knitted state looks like a thick, ½ inch wide braid), I thought that I would like to try using it in tandem with another yarn.  I searched my stash and found just the thing…Cascade Eden, a lovely bamboo yarn, in a shade of hot pink that was very close to the darker edge of the Frilly.  I reasoned that if I used another yarn for the base of the scarf, the novelty yarn would go farther. 

To make the scarf, I began crocheting with the Eden for a few rounds, then worked a slip stitch with the Frilly for a round, working into the darker edge of the braid so the lighter shade was at the outer edge of the ruffle.  This worked pretty well, and I believe it used less of the Frilly than working in single crochet would have used.  I worked another round in Eden, and then decided to try a different effect on the edge.  Working into the light edge of the Frilly this time, I used the Eden to slip stitch the Frilly to each stitch of the scarf, inserting the hook closer than I had on the previous Frilly round.  This created a less ruffled look, with the darker shade on the outer edge of the ruffle.

I had enough of the Frilly left that I was able to make a cap with a couple of rounds of Frilly with the remainder of the ball of yarn!