Day 1: Commuter Cowl Knit Along

Hello Knitters! It's KnitDocDonna here! Today's the day I get to share one of my favorite knitting projects and techniques with you, the moebius cast-on! You'll be amazed by how easy the moebius cast-on

really

is and after you see how it's done you may just love this technique as much as I do.

What We'll Learn Today

  • Moebius cast-on
  • Moebius join
  • Broken rib pattern stitch
  • Reversibility and mirrored pattern stitch

What is A Moebius?

A Moebius (aka Infinity) project is nothing more than a rectangular piece joined with a twist. This twist allows you to see half of the right side and half of the wrong side as well as adding interest to the shape. You could, of course, just craft a rectangle, give it a twirl and sew the 2 ends together, but what would be the fun of that?!  Our version is much more intriguing, as well as easy and...best of all, no ends to sew together!  Just round and round fun!  

There are several ways to create a Moebius Cast-On, but I'm going to show you the way I like best!

Building the Foundation 

Referring to the pattern, cast-on the number of stitches specified for "Short Ride". Today we'll be using the knitted cast-on.

Hereโ€™s how:

Start with a slipknot as usual. Insert your right hand needle into the slipknot as if to begin the knit stitch.

Knitting Doctor Tip:

When you make your slipknot leave about a 4 to 5โ€ tail so when it's time you'll have enough to weave in.  

Wrap the yarn as if to knit and draw through your loop, but

do not

slide the stitch off the needle. Take the loop that you have drawn out and pop it back onto the left hand needle and voila! You have made a stitch.  

Knitting Doctor Tips:

Giving that loop a little half twist before popping it back on the left needle will further emphasize the cast-on's braided look.

When setting up your Moebius cast-on you will want to

maintain a loose hand

as you cast-on your initial stitches. Doing so will make knitting that 1st row much easier, and we want easy!

All cast-on and ready for the next step? Excellent! The magical part of the Moebius construction is coming right up!

The Layout

This image is just a layout of the cast-on stitches. Notice where the working yarn is here.

Now I'm just going to flip my work upside down. Notice where my working yarn is now. It's at the upper right of my work.

The braided edge where my fingers are pointing is what is referred to as "the base" in our pattern.  Hold that thought as we continue on.

So now that we know which end is up (literally) we can go ahead and follow the steps below.  Let's work through these steps one by one and begin to  demystify this Moebius cast-on!

The Steps

Step 1:  

Positioning your work with the base at the top, and the working yarn at the upper right, lightly pinch the base with your thumb and forefinger. As you do, take a look at the stitches. I like to think of them as doorways. The stitches on either side are the posts and the horizontal base is the lintel. Why is this important? As we move on to Step 2, you'll see.

Step 2:

Now using our right hand needle, we will insert the tip into our 1st "doorway" from front to back, wrap our yarn and draw out a loop. This loop will stay on the right hand needle.

Step 3:

 Continue working across the row, pulling up a loop between each doorway, loading it onto the right hand needle, counting as we go. Our stitch count by the time we are finished picking up will be 1 less than our cast-on number. You'll see why a little later on.

Knitting Doctor Tips:

 After working the second doorway or so, pull  the tip of the left hand needle to the right and let it drop.  Now it won't be in your way and it is much easier to draw up the loops.

If you find it difficult to find the doorways (and your door looks more like a porthole), pull upward a bit on the base .  That will expose the doorway. Take a look at the image below.

If you needle tips are a bit too rounded to grab that loop, it's ok to use a crochet hook to draw it through. And, no it's not cheating!

Completing the cast-on and joining the round

As we continue to work to pick up those stitches in the base, our work will start to look something like this.

If you look at the shiny spots near my middle fingers you'll see that they are actually the cables and the stitches are lining up on each of these two cables.

Picked up all the stitches? Check your pattern and have the right number? Excellent! Time to join.

Closing the Gap and Joining

All of my stitches are loaded, but it doesn't look like the stitches are going to meet.

Look at it now. Where did the cable go? How did I do that? Well, it's very easy. Just slide the stitches on each needle up towards the points and watch that gap close! We're now ready to work the  join!

We'll join our Moebius by placing a marker and then knitting the 1st stitch on the left hand needle. 

Look closely and you can see that stitch sits at a slant. Is it going to feel awkward? Sure is and it's supposed to. Are

 you one step ahead of me and figured out why that is? Is it because joining that first stitch is where the twist occurs? If that's what you're thinking, you're right!

Now that we've successfully joined and our twist has been made, let's move on and complete the first round.  Remember, it's also time to add that extra stitch that we couldn't pick up during the cast-on. We're just going to do this once (i.e. this row only).  Add it by a KFB (knit front and back) in the second stitch. Take a look below to see how it's done.

How to knit front and back

Knit into the front of the next stitch as normal, but do not slide it off the needle.

Now place the tip of the right hand needle into the back of the stitch that is still on the left hand needle, wrap your yarn, draw through your loop and slide it off the needle as usual.  One stitch created!

Knitting Doctor Tip

:  When you pick up stitches with this type of cast-on you will

always

be one stitch short of the original cast-on number.  That is because with this particular technique you are picking up the loops

between

the stitches, and

not into

the actual stitch so you will always be starting one stitch in.  I usually add that orphan stitch on the first round after the join.

Go ahead and work the 1st round as indicated in the pattern.

As you are working this round, the stitches may feel very tight but will loosen up after you reach the twist at the half-way point.  If your cast-on was loose that will help!  After the half -way point it's smooth sailing to the end of the round and actually for the remainder of the project.

Next we'll review actual pattern stitches.

Knitting the Broken Rib

This is a very simple pattern that looks great on both sides and is only a 2 round repeat.

How it's done

Round 1:  K1, P1, to end of round ending with a P1.

Round 2:  P the round

Knitting Doctor Tip:

To make sure you are actually at the end of the round pay attention to the location of your marker. I'll show you two images. The 1st is not the end of the round, and the 2nd is.

Not the end of the round

End of the round!

Let's do a couple of repeats of Round 1 and 2, until there's about 3" on the needles and don't be dismayed (or yikes, rip back) if the work looks different on one side. Trust me on this one!

Do we have 3" or so?  Good!  Now there a few things I want you to take a look at!

Starting Point

Take a look at the image below.  See the strand of yarn I'm holding? That's the start of our project. Also notice the central ridge.

Now just for fun, run your finger around the cable (either clockwise or counter clockwise). . . feel how it spirals and twists?

Understanding the Construction

So, what we're doing is working outward from the center. Every round we're completing is building inches on each side of this center ridge, and to top it off half way through the round our piece twists...totally different construction from the bottom up or top down constructions you may be used to! 

Mirrored Images

As you're working the rounds and building inches you are probably starting to notice that your work is looking different on either side of that center ridge.  That where the mirrored images come in.

Think about it this way. As you're working up to the 121 stitch (half of our stitch count), the stitch pattern will be showing the right side. On stitch 122, you are at the twist in the work, and your stitch pattern switches from displaying the right side to the wrong side. Mirrored Images!

See how effective this technique can be!

Knitting Doctor Tip:

This switch will work to your advantage, and add interest to your project.  Think of the possibilities! The only requirement is selecting a stitch pattern that looks attractive on both sides!

Heading Down Today's Homestretch

Congratulations, and well done! Together, we've made it through the Moebius cast-on, construction and creating the reversible stitch pattern. Our Commuters are shaping up nicely!

Our homework for this week is to continue working the broken rib pattern until you reach 6 inches. It will go quickly, I promise!

Be sure to join me for Day 2, on Thursday, September 11th, where we will bind-off with the crisp i-cord edging and our Commuter will be ready to wear!

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 Instagram,  TwitterTumblr, and Facebook.  Use the hashtag #CommuterKAL to follow the knit along or post pictures of your progress.

Many many thanks for knitting along with me today! We've made a lot of progress and I hope you had fun! I know I did!

Until next Thursday, Happy Knitting!

KnitDocDonna