My daughter carved me a set of willow wood knitting needles for Mother’s Day. They are beautiful, light and smooth.
I decided to knit a scarf with the hand carved needles using a pattern I got from my cousin Mary Turak. I used a crochet provisional cast on so I would be able to join the beginning live stitches with the last row to make an infinity scarf. Other times I have made an infinity scarf by using a normal cast on and cast off, and then sewing the ends together.
The pattern uses two different yarns, alternating every three rows. Every sixth row you slide the stitches across and knit from the other end of the needle, picking up the working yarn for the next color. Normally you would use circular needles or double pointed needles for this pattern. Since the hand carved needles do not have a knob on the end, they worked fine.
Switching between two yarns every three rows allows you to carry the working yarn up the side without having any loose ends to weave in. Sliding to the other end of the needle every six rows results in knitting on the back of the stitches, causing a flat “stockinette” look after that row for some variation in the pattern even though you are knitting every row. The exact size of the needles does not matter, as long as you like the outcome. If you use a larger needle than normal, your scarf will be lacier. The hand carved needles are a bit smaller than size 11, so they turned out well for the brown yarns I found in my stash.
The first time I used this pattern years ago I had been looking for a way to use one skein of my hand spun yarn. Adding another complimentary yarn makes for an interesting design and allows the hand spun yarn to go farther. Using yarns with different fibers, thicknesses or textures, or using bigger or smaller needles, is another way to mix it up and make a unique scarf.
The following image shows my project after knitting row three of the thicker yarn. You can see the working yarn on the right, from the last row knitted with the thinner yarn three rows earlier.
In order to pick up and continue knitting with the thinner yarn for the next row, the stitches are slid across the needle to the other end, resulting in knitting on the back of the stitches. Normally a circular or double pointed needle would be used, but my hand carved needles worked for the purpose.
After knitting enough rows so the infinity scarf would wrap around my neck twice, and I was almost out of the thicker yarn, it was time to graft the two ends together with kitchener stitch. I removed the crochet provisional cast on one stitch at a time, inserting the second knitting needle into the stitches as I went.
I flipped one end of the scarf from front to back before grafting so there is a twist in the infinite loop. I had always been confused with the kitchener stitch used to join two sets of live stitches together, until I came upon the method described in the sock pattern Smooth Operator Socks by Susan B. Anderson. After doing it a couple of times on the toes and heels of socks I can remember what to do without looking at the pattern.
It is likely I will make this scarf again as a way to use single skeins of yarn from my stash. Next time I will experiment with knitting a different number of rows per color, using different sizes of needles, or other methods for carrying the working yarn up the side.