This week, I released a free pattern for a very simple mug rug— a square coaster to go under your tea or coffee mug. This pattern was designed for beginning knitters as a first project to learn the knit and purl stitch and make a useful object at the same time, but it’s also a great quick knit for more experienced knitters for gifts or craft fairs.
I’ve been enjoying experimenting with slip stitch knitting, which I find a very approachable and relaxing way to do colorwork.
I first read about slip stitch knitting in A Treasury of Knitting Patterns and A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Many of the patterns are mosaic knitting which forms a pattern of knit stitches on the outside of the garment and all the slipped stitches are on the back of the work. My first real exposure to actually trying slip stitch colorwork was in a workshop by Patty Lyons at the 2015 Knit and Crochet show.
Many slipped stitched patterns, like the common linen stitch, use a single slipped stitch with the yarn in front to make a textured fabric. This fabric is fairly inelastic and dense. Although this sample is in a solid yarn, linen stitch does some amazing things to break up variegated yarn.
Mosaic knitting and some other slipped stitch patterns use slipped stitches to somewhat emulate the look of fair isle knitting, where all the yarn floats across the slipped stitches are on the back of the work, so all you see is the knits.
My favorite slipped stitch patterns are those that use the yarn floats on the front of the work as a design element. I love the way those yarn floats are raised slightly from the rest of the knitting and how you can stagger them to create an effect, like in this swatch from my free pattern, the Aurora Cowl.
My current favorite resource for slipped stitch knitting is The Art of Slip Stitch Knitting. This book explores several different styles of slip stitch knitting and has projects to go with each one. It’s part designer’s guide to using the stitches, part stitch dictionary, and part pattern book.
(Note: Links to Amazon are affiliate links, I’ll get a few cents if you purchase through those links.)
I recently purchased some curved DPNs and for my first project I made a couple of pairs of fingerless mitts from a pattern by Clara Parkes in her Craftsy class, Stashbusting (it appears to be very similar to this pattern on Ravelry). I purchased the Neko Strickespiel curved DPNs from Candra’s Yarn Paradise on Etsy.
Basically, they are a set of three bent DPNs made from a slightly flexible plastic. Each of two needles has about half the stitches on it and you curve the waiting stitches around one needle while you push together the ready to work stitches on the other needle so that you have the triangle shape you would get working with three traditional, straight DPNs.
Advantages: I liked working with them because there are only two needle changes per round, similar to working with a magic loop, but without the extra cables hanging out. I like using magic loop, but with small objects like mitts or socks I often feel like I have more needles and cables than yarn in action! I felt like my rounds went faster than when I use a regular DPN set or magic loop. There were less pointy things sticking out than with straight DPNs, which made working on a small object seem easier.
Disadvantages: The needles have some gaps on the small end of sizes, missing some of the US sizes that are listed in patterns. I also had trouble with laddering where the two needles met in my work. I don’t usually have trouble with laddering on straight DPNs. Because of their shape, the trick of moving the location of your needles as you work was not easy to do. I found that if I tugged on both the first and second stitch each time I rotated to a new needle, the laddering disappeared for me.
Tricky bits: I watched this video on the Neko page to help me figure out how to hold the needles. With straight DPNs, I usually rotate the needle I’m working stitches off of to be on top of the other needles with a little under/over flip of orientation as I start each needle. With the Neko’s, I found that working one needle on top of the other two ends and one needle under the other two ends was the best strategy for fast changes between needles.
The Aurora Cowl was published today in the free online magazine Knotions. Aurora is a luxuriously soft cowl made with Malabrigo Mora, a 100% silk fingering weight yarn. It’s also a surprisingly simply knit. An easy to follow slipped stitch pattern in a color changing yarn across a solid background creates the impression of of arcs of color reminiscent of the Northern Lights.
Slip stitch patterns are one of the simplest forms of colorwork to learn because in each row or round, the knitter only works with one color of yarn. As you can see, though, you can create surprisingly complex patterns. Both written and charted instructions are available for the Aurora Cowl. This pattern is great for combining a solid yarn with a fast or slow color changing yarn.
The sample uses two skeins of Malabrigo Yarn Mora, one each in Black and Zarzamora.