h2g2 Crafts: Knit, Knit, Knit

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Here we go again.

Knit, Knit, Knit

A variety of washmitts.

Operation Christmas Child needs millions of washcloths. Our bunch's quota is 300. A lot of people have bought terrycloth ones at the discount store, or sewn their own with machines, or hand-knitted them. Since I can't hand-knit, I've had my trusty loom out. So far I've made more than five dozen washcloths. Well, not washcloths, exactly…

To be honest, they're washmitts. As you know I can only knit Round Things. And a washmitt is a Round Thing.

When I first showed one to a member of the Core Team, she commented, 'That looks just like a hat.' And it does, because it is: a washmitt is a hat for the hand. For washing. And it's a great invention of my mom's.

When we all headed off to uni, my mom made us washmitts out of terrycloth by sewing regular washcloths folded over. The advantage was that when you lived in a dormitory, you could slip your bar of soap (they used bars back in the Dark Ages, just like the floatable ones we send to the Third World) into the washmitt and carry it with you to the communal shower. You could even just leave the soap in there while you took a shower. However you used your washmitt, it was a handy thing to have around.

Now, I'm going to show you how to make a washmitt. It's very much like making a hat, only faster, and you don't need a pompom machine.

Getting It Together

Equipment for making a washmitt.

First, get your equipment together. You need the smallest hoop in the loom knitting set again. You need the hook. You'll also need the yarn needle later, but I forgot to put it in the picture. Never mind, it shows up in another picture later. Besides, it looks suspiciously like a needle, only bigger, so you can probably recognise it. (If not, either look online or ask someone with a higher KQ (Knitting Quotient) than you.) And you need some yarn.

What kind of yarn do you need? The answer is: cotton. Pure, 100% cotton. Which comes from the Land of Cotton, where old times are not forgotten…okay, it probably comes from India or Egypt or somewhere else, but you need cotton. Why? Because cotton soaks up water, and then lets it go. (Unlike that nasty acrylic stuff, which grows on the planet Lurex V.) In other words, cotton yarn is perfect for washcloths and washmitts, because it will get wet when you want it to, and dry off when you hang it up for a bit. It's also nice to the touch once it's been washed.

What colour yarn do you want? Anything you like. Who are you making it for? Yourself? An unwitting friend? 2legs? The kids' Christmas boxes? Cotton yarn is easily available at your discount store, and comes in solids and that variegated kind that makes the fun patterns. Here's what I recommend: get yourself a huge spool of that white stuff. Start with it, for about 6-7 rows. Then switch to a brighter colour. Your eyes will thank you. You can always use alternating colours to make stripes, or vary to taste. That's the creativity part.

How do you change colours? Simple. Cut the yarn that's on the loom, not too close to the last peg you've used. Tie the new colour yarn onto the old colour yarn in a double knot. (Remember the Gheorgheni Manoeuvre.) Then keep knitting until you get tired of that colour, and switch again.

Step by Step

To make a washmitt, use these easy steps:

  1. Ewrap. Ewrap. Remember ewrapping? You just loop the thread around the peg, passing the yarn on the inside of the hoop. Looks like this.

    I recommend that, just as with the coasters you made (you did make them, didn't you? I hope your beer buddies appreciated), you start by dry-looping the hoop four times. Then go back and put in the slipknot, do the first row, then release the slipknot, tie it and the main skein together, and keep going.

    Bob's yer uncle.
  2. This is a slipknot.
    Slip knot. To make one, make a loop of the yarn. Then pass the yarn inside the loop to make another loop. Grab the inside loop and tighten the outside loop around it. Slip this, er, slipknot over the safety peg on your loom while you do the first row. That will keep the thread from running away. The beauty of slipknots is that they are easy to undo. Just pull, see? Ah, the joys of discovery.
  3. Two over two.Now that you're on the main skein, here's what you do:

    You have two loops on each peg.

    As you go around, ewrap one more loop.

    When you get back around, you'll see three loops on each peg.

    Add one more loop and pass the bottom two loops over the top of the peg, two over two, all the way around until you're back to the start.

    When you see two loops, add one and keep going.

    When you see three loops, add one and pull the bottom two loops over the peg.

    Keep doing this. It's fun and relaxing.
  4. When do you stop? Well, unless you're knitting a washmitt for Oscar the Octopus, we suggest you stop when the Round Thing on your knitting loom is about the length of your hand. Or your friend's hand. Children tend to have smaller hands than Guide Editors, but you might want to measure first. (You can do it in metric, we won't tell.)
  5. Finishing the washmitt. When you've got a long-enough mitt, stop knitting. Loop the working yarn – the yarn you're knitting with, knitwit, as opposed to any other old yarn you have lying around – around the outside of the hoop, twice. This is so you'll know how much more yarn you need.

    Cut the yarn off with the scissors at the place you measured by this rule of thumb. (Don't cut the thumb. You will need it later for hitchhiking.)

    Thread the end of the loose yarn through the yarn needle. (We told you you'd need it. We are always right.)

    Run the yarn through all the loops on the pegs, using the needle to thread them in and out, all in the same direction. (And don't leave any out, that way lies catastrophe.)

    When you're all the way around, do two more for safety's sake.

    Now, lift all the loops off the pegs. The hook will help if they're kind of tight. (Mine always are.)

    Got them all off the pegs? Good. Now pull the thread gently but firmly until you've drawn the loops together in a pucker.

    Now your Round Thing is a Round Thing with One Closed End. This is good.

    Use the needle to slip the end of the thread into the inside of the mitt. Tie it off securely.

    You're done. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Whistling While You Work

A knitting loom outdoors.

Knitting is a soothing activity. It's fun, too. Soon, you won't want your Gameboy when you have downtime: you will want the knitting loom. It's good exercise for the fingers, and once you have the basics down, you can allow the mind to fall into a meditative trance…Om….mane padme om

Is the weather nice? (Meaning, you don't live in the UK?) Take your knitting loom outside for a while. Knit while you commune with nature and get a touch of tan. People will admire your ability to look fit and be crafty at the same time.

Is it evening? Do you long to watch the latest Jason Statham movie? Go right ahead. Loom knitting is so easy that you can do it as you absorb all the heart-pounding action. That's two mindless activities at once. And one of them yields a useful product. Note: with practice, you can probably produce one washmitt per action movie.

You could also listen to audiotapes while you work. We definitely recommend Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. It has blood, gore, and knitting women in it. Those 'knitting women' were called tricoteuses, and they were scarier than a zombie apocalypse. See? Who says this is for boring old people?

You could also just watch old Fourth Doctor episodes.

An empty spool is sad. Buy another one.

Wherever or however you choose to use this knowledge, loom knitting can be addictive. It's a good thing the yarn is so cheap. Remember to stop by the cheap store for more of the useful cotton stuff. This huge spool is available at your local discount place for about $8 U.S., and it will allow you to trim, stripe, and finish off at least three dozen washmitts. Or a similar quantity of whatever you like to make.

Next time: we get the brother-in-law to improve our knitting with his power tools. Upcoming attractions: Sooner or later, we'll get to yarn bombing and other acts of thread-based terrorism.

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