Revisiting Knee Warmers

4 years ago, I knit Dan a pair of knee warmers.

After wearing them for a winter, he provided me the following feedback:

Pros
1. They were was warm.
2. They were super soft.

Cons
1. They wouldn’t stay up around his knees. He was constantly pulling them back up.
2. They were thick. He was unable to wear them discreetly at work because they could be seen beneath his pants.

Determined to figure out how to knit the perfect pair of knee warmers since it appears that Dan is not the only one who suffers from cold knees (the post where I show off Dan’s knee warmers remains one of my most popular), I have rooted through my sewing notions as well as my yarn stash.

I have chosen mohair.

It’s a bit of a risk due to its tendency to make people itch when used in next-to-skin projects, but it will dramatically reduce the weight of the warmers without compromising any warmth. Heck, it might even make them warmer.

From my sewing notions, I pulled out elastic thread. This I plan to knit into the upper cuffs of ribbing. It should more than double the elasticity of the ribbing and with any luck it will keep them from falling down.

To increase my chance of finishing this project by next winter (no way I finish it by Spring), the body of the warmers will be knit in stockingnette stitch.

Dan has promised to be the guinea pig and provide unbiased feedback. I’ll report his findings to you.

Knee Warmers and an Old Scarf

After casting on and ripping out the knee warmers 3 times over, I am finally making progress on them.

Let’s see if I can recount all the things I did wrong that warranted the 3 frogs.

Well, first, I cast on too many stitches. And not just a few too many. Try 4 times too many. Math was never my forte. In my defense, I didn’t actually cast on all those stitches. Halfway through, I thought to myself “Gosh, Dan is bigger than me, but I don’t think anybody has knees quite this large.” Giggle.

The 2nd frogging was due to the fact that I was knitting the knee warmers in the round, but trying to follow the instructions detailed by Barbara Walker. Her instructions, of course, were for knitting back and forth.

Having been defeated while knitting in the round, I cast on the 3rd time for working straight. Two rows into the warmers, it donned on me how I could adjust the instructions to knitting in the round. At least the 3rd time, I frogged the project with glee.

This 4th time has not been without its problems. I messed up one set of the increases, but I refuse to rip it back. Nobody, except you and I, is going to know that I increased 6 rows before I should have. Though this mistake has decreased by desire to knit the knee warmers. Maybe I can just rip back to my mistake. Grr.

In other news, I would like to thank Lime & Violet for featuring my Cabled and Ribbed scarf on their blog, The Daily Chum.

I designed this scarf 3 years ago for a local alpaca farm.

From Cabled & Ribbed Scarf

Much to my chagrin, the design was rejected. The farm owner wanted a lacy scarf instead. After completing the lace scarf along with 3 other designs, I finally came back to the cables and ribs. Remembering how much I enjoyed knitting the swatch, I decided to self publish it. I’m glad I did.

Swatch for Knee Warmers

The ball of yarn on the left is Manos del Uruguay (100% wool), gifted to me by my MIL.
The ball of yarn on the right is Peruvian Tweed (100% alpaca), purchased from Sophie’s Yarns in Philadelphia three or four years ago.

The bottom half of the swatch was knit in what is supposed to be Diagonal Ribbing from Barbara Walker’s 1st Treasury book.
Go ahead, say it. …. It looks ghastly, right?
I couldn’t agree more.
I have no idea how she made the diagonal ribbing look so pretty in the book. No idea at all.

The top half of the swatch is the winner: Fisherman’s Ribbing. It has all the characteristics that I wanted: elasticity, warmth and simplicity.

I had never knit Fisherman’s ribbing before and thus had a minor panic attack when trying to follow Walker’s instructions. Her instructions told me to P1, then K1 but into the stitch below. Repeat till end. Simple enough. Except after executing the K1 into the stitch below, I was puzzled as to what would happen with the stitch on the needle. Should I keep it on the needle? I tried doing just that for a few stitches, but it didn’t seem right. Then, I went in search of an online tutorial. I found one: Lana Grossa’s Knitting Tip. In the 3rd paragraph, my concern was addressed: “The stitch above is then more or less unravelled and forms a new loose stitch.” When performed correctly, it actually looks like two stitches are sitting on top of the newly knitted K1.

You may notice that halfway through the swatch the stitches start to slant to the left. I did that on purpose. I really loved the way the diagonal ribbing looked in the book. Knit on circular needles, it would look stunning – a real eye pleaser. Plus, it would keep the pattern interesting. In order to accomplish the diagonal slant, I had to resort to using a cable needle on every K1 stitch. Two rows is all I managed. It was a bit too interesting for my taste. Plus, it reduced some of the elasticity. Fooey. No diagonal stitches. Maybe I can design a thick border at the top and bottom of the warmers instead.

I’ve also decided that I will not be using Manos as the main yarn. It’s thick and warm enough, but it’s only a single strand. These knee warmers have the potential of being well-worn. Additionally, I really wanted to use my own 2-ply, handspun wool. It would make the gift more personal. I still face the problem of not having enough handspun wool to make 2 knee warmers. What’s a girl to do? Exactly what any girl or fiber lover would do – go buy more. Yep, I did. It’s already en route.