Friday, April 26, 2013

Going around the twist with a Moebius scarf or shawl

I was reminded today that there is nothing harder than deliberately making a mistake. Last week, a customer purchased the yarn and pattern for the Jo Sharp Moebius Scarf from Knit Issue 10. Today, she came in with a beautiful double-moss cowl, without so much as a dip in the edge... certainly without the twist.
Jo Sharp Moebius Scarf

We went through the instructions together: they were pretty straightforward. You cast on, using a circular needle, and twist the cast-on halfway through the round. Knit the first pattern round. You now have a twisted loop - keep knitting until you run out of wool. Now, I've managed to do this several times without even thinking about it. However, each time the customer knitted her first round, we ended up with a perfect, even round of untwisted knitting. And although I've managed to mess up the starting round any number of times before, now that I was put on the spot, I couldn't get it to twist either. So we moved to plan B...

Plan B was to tap into the Garnstudio freebies. Garnstudio has a free Moebius shawl pattern on their website. Although the colours in the photo remind me of cheap toothpaste, the shawl itself has a very nice construction and - even better - it has photos and a video showing a technique to get the twist into the shawl. The very short version of their technique is:
  1. Do a long tail cast on over both your needles.
  2. Pull one needle through, leaving the stitches on the other.
  3. Pick up stitches along the bottom of the cast on edge.
You will end up with two lots of stitches: the stitches you cast on and the stitches you picked up. If you start knitting in the round, you will first knit the cast on stitches, then you will knit the picked up stitches, giving you a twist. Alternatively, if you're like me, you will accidentally unravel the second half of the work, giving you one round of straight knitting with a big gap in one side...**

From here, there was only one recourse - Cat Bordhi's tutorial videos on YouTube! Cat is a bit of a knitting celebrity in the US (and in Australia!) and does very good tutorials on weird and wonderful techniques, such as Moebius cast ons. All I can say about this is, somehow it works. I've watched it twice now, and it's like a magic trick - I can't figure out quite what's going on, but it works...

In the end, the customer couldn't face unravelling all those hours of work, so she decided on a clever compromise: she would pick up one stitch from the cast on edge in her cast off to make a fold - the fold will look similar enough that it won't be immediately obvious that the scarf isn't twisted.

My favourite option for a very easy Moebius scarf or shawl is to knit a rectangle, then twist it and cast off into the cast on edge to create the loop. You can also cast off normally, twist the work and sew the ends together to hold the twist in place. However, now I know some of the other options that are available, I'm very tempted to dig out some leftover Silkroad Aran Tweed that I have in my stash and give the Moebius scarf a try!! In fact, I'm tempted to knit three, so that I can try out the three methods of getting the twist :) I'm sure that my stash has more than enough wool in it to meet that challenge...

**I think the first failure was a combination of stage fright and trying to serve three customers at the same time as knitting a round: I've tried the Garnstudio technique again now that the shop is a bit quieter, and this time, it worked.Good to know!!

No comments: