South Street Hat Knit Along: Day 1

 South Street Hat Knit Along - Day 1

South Street Hat Knit Along - Day 1

Welcome all to Day 1 of the South Street Hat Knit Along. I'm KnitDocDonna and I'll be your knitting coach and guide today! As always, our project is going to be a quick and satisfying knit with some great skill builders and tips popping up along the way.   

Here's what we'll cover today:

  • Two Color Cable Cast-On
  • Working Garter Stitches in the Round
  • Working Two Colors with Two Handed Stranding

Two Color Cable Cast-On - The What, Why and When

I love this cast-on and best of all it's nothing more than a different take on the basic Cable Cast-On.  If you've mastered that one, then this two-color version will be like rolling off a log.  Promise!

There are several ways to work a two-color cast-on, but I think this is the easiest, and most interesting method.  Our end result will be a cast-on edge of slanting stitches that alternate in color.  Better yet, the edge's appearance is the same on both sides. That makes it ideal for a reversible pattern project, the start of a double knitting project, or anywhere you want a little punch of color.  Think lots of impact with minimal effort, that's what we're going for here.

We’ll be alternating between two strands for this cast on so be sure to cast on loose. It makes knitting the first round much easier.
— Knitting Doctor Tip

Let's Cast On

1.  Leaving approximately 5" tails, make a slipknot with both strands of yarn. Keep the main color at the bottom and the contrast color closer to the needle tip. Note: My main color is Red Poppy and my contrast color is Brushed Silver.

IMPORTANT:  We're going to drop those 1st 2 stitches after we join for in the round knitting, so don't count them in your cast-on number!

2.  Now, insert the tip of the right needle between those 1st 2 stitches, wrap the main color yarn and draw thru a loop.
3.  Give that loop a half-twist and place it back on the left hand needle.
4.  Repeat the process again, this time using the contrast color.

5.  To ensure that the braided edge is worked in the correct alternating color sequence, make sure when changing colors the new color is brought forward and under the previous strand.  Can you see it in the image above?  Yes, the next stitch is going to be silver and there it is right in the front ready to wrap. 

Now we're ready to actually cast-on.  Looking at the pattern, see the number of stitches to cast-on.  Remember to do 2 more than what the pattern states, alternate the colors, and use the smaller needle.

As we continue to build our cast-on row, this is what our work should look like from the bottom (above photo, left).
And this is what it looks like straight on (above photo, right).

Pretty close?  Great, then let's continue. Cast-on that final stitch, check the stitch count and color sequence.

When casting on with 2 colors, occasionally check the bottom braid to make sure the braided strands are uniform. If too loose, gently pull on the working yarn for the loose stitch to take up any obvious slack.
— Knitting Doctor Tip

Completing the Cast-On Process and Joining the Round

We'll undo the slip knot by tugging gently on the yarn tails (image above, left). This will allow us to remove the 1st and 2nd stitches (our original slipknot).  We'll take care of the yarn tails shortly.

1. Place a marker on the needle.  This will designate the start of our round (image above, right).
2.  Inspect the cast-on to ensure the stitches haven't twisted.  You'll know it's right when all of the braided edges are facing inward.
3.  With the main color yarn, knit the 1st stitch on the left hand needle.  Join made.
4.  Drop and cut the contrast color, leaving a 5" tail.
5.  Loosely tie the original yarn tails and the contrast color (strand just cut) to keep them out of the way until time to weave in. 

Tie the tails into a little bow to keep them out of the way and tidy. You’ll weave them in later.
— Knitting Doctor Tip

Weave in the yarn tails at the end of the project and after blocking to ensure you are weaving in with a tension consistent with the finished piece.  

 Making progress on the hat!

Making progress on the hat!

Band - Garter In The Round
Our headband section is going to be the basic, but I think handsome, garter stitch.  Garter is going to give us texture, stretchability and also provide a stable and cushy ear cover.

How do we get garter in the round? Typically, Garter is knit every stitch, every row (knit flat),  but if I do that in the round won't it will look like stockinette?  Of course, you're right!  Here's how it's done:

Garter in the round = knit 1 round, purl the next round, then continue alternating on the subsequent rounds.
Go ahead now and work those garter rounds.  Our pattern will show us the number of rounds.

Don’t be a “Stitch Snob”. I know knitters who avoid garter because they feel it’s too basic & simple. The truth is the humble garter can be hugely effective in providing texture & detail, as well as showcasing a gorgeous hand dye.
— Knitting Doctor Tip

Continue following the pattern to the end of the "Band" section, re-attaching the contrast color and working the rows as our pattern directs. This time we won't need to cut the yarn,  just resume with the main color and complete the final rounds.

The Crown
Here we are at the focal point of our knitalong where we will begin to work with both colors to create the  Fair Isle striping.

A Little About Fair Isle
There's a lot that can be said about Fair Isle color work, but boiled down to it's most basic, it's nothing more than utilizing 2 colors per row with the color changes, usually no more than 2 or 3 stitches apart.  One color strands or "floats" behind the other making a very substantial but stretchable fabric.   
The key to success here is managing both strands while keeping your tension relatively consistent.  Let's take a look below to see how it's done.

If you have steered away from Fair Isle projects because they appear very intricate, take a second look. Remember that there are no more than 2 colors per row and for sure you can handle that.
— Knitting Doctor Tip

Managing Both Yarns - It's All in Your Hands
So why are we doing this?  Can't I just work each strand as usual, just alternate colors? Sure you can, but it's not as elegant and smooth flowing as you'll find this to be. Two handed stranding after a little practice is actually very rhythmic and relaxing . . .  not to mention how very clever you will look!
So, change to the larger needles and let's give it a shot.

How to Knit Fair Isle
You may have seen You-Tube and image tutorials showing how to hold yarn for this process, but it usually only shows a strand draped over a forefinger.  I'm going to show you the entire process below.

Left Hand
1.  Starting with your main color in your left hand, wrap yarn around your little finger twice (image above, left).
2.  Yarn travels from your little finger to cross the backs of your next 2 fingers and emerges to lay across the front of your forefinger (image above, right).   

Wrapping the yarn around your fingers (especially the forefinger ) allows you to control the amount of tension.  

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Now if you're a loose knitter or feel more comfortable with a greater degree of  tension on the yarn, do what I do and wrap the yarn around your forefinger twice. The image (above, left) shows the yarn poised ready to wrap for the knit stitch.  Use your forefinger to dip forward to lay the strand between the needle tips and complete the stitch.

Right Hand
Same yarn set up as the left hand, but with the contrast color (image above, right).

Give yourself a little time for the two-handed process to feel comfortable, it won’t take long. Remember that learning a new knitting skill is akin to learning to ride a’ll wobble before you glide!
— Knitting Doctor Tip

What are Floats?
Take a look at the image (above) of our hat from the inside.  Those horizontal strands are the "floats". You'll see this term often in Fair Isle projects and it's nothing more than one color "floating"  or stranding  behind the next.

As you are working the rounds, check the floats periodically to ensure you are not drawing the yarn too tightly. If so, it will be very easy to see. If it’s too tight, it won’t fit properly so un-knit (rip back) and reknit that section.
— Knitting Doctor Tip

Congratulations! We've covered a lot this session and I hope you've learned a thing or two.
Your assignment for the week is to reach 9" (measured from cast-on) on your sticks (see photo, above).
Then we'll meet here again next Thursday, April 9th. 

Knit Along Day 2 - We'll Cover:

  • Shaping the Crown
  • Decreasing with Double Points
  • Decreasing with the Magic Loop
  • Weaving in yarn ends

How Do I follow Along?

All of the posts will be on the here on the NobleKnits Blog. Add a bookmark! Join the KAL group on Ravelry. Be sure to follow nobleknits on InstagramTwitterTumblr, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #SouthStreetKAL to follow the knit along or post pictures of your progress.

Happy Knitting!
- KnitDocDonna

Donna Pelzar

Donna (aka the Knitting Doctor) is the face behind The New Street Knitter patterns. She teaches knitting instruction for all skill levels in her studio and loves to focus on techniques and interesting stitch patterns. She recently expanded into pattern design and we are thrilled to be able to offer her patterns at NobleKnits. Donna also hosts all of our Knit Alongs.