Friday, June 17, 2011

80's revival

My daughter-in-law is going to an 80’s theme party on the weekend and was looking for some leg warmers - somehow, I must have missed that part of the 80’s...Anyway, I offered to whip her up a pair - her theme was black, silver and pink. Well, as you may know, my shelves are not exactly full of any of those colours, but I did have a partial cone of something called ‘spring garden’, a black, pink, blue and white acrylic mix left over from the Nomi Lee days, that looks kind of tweedy, and some metallic thread that might fit the bill (or is it ‘fill the bill'?). With no criteria, other than she would be wearing black leggings and high heels, I thought they should be ribbed, sort of slouchy with maybe a fold over cuff and go from ankle to mid calf...
Here’s what I came up with and she loved them!
After I was done, I realized this would make a great beginner ribber pattern.
So, the yarn was a slub, thick and thin, that would stockinette at about T4 or 5 on the standard gauge machine and I added a strand of metallic royal blue thread (run it through the other side of the tension mast and join it with the main yarn in the feeder).
Set up for full needle rib, Swing H5, all needles in work, both beds, 35-0-35, end needle on main bed at right and on rib bed at left.
Cast on waste yarn and ravel cord as follows:
T5/5, K1R. This will be the zigzag row. Hang the comb and 1 small ribber weight in the centre. K10R, ending carriage at right. There is no need to do anything else - the cast-on will look awful but we don’t care, it’s just waste yarn, right? and it does the job.
Now, to knit ravel cord (I use  disposable ravel cord, somehting that is smooth, hard twist, strong and is thrown away - Bramwell Artistic or crochet cotton works well) that can easily be separated later: Set to circular - don’t be lazy, look it up in your manual (good practise for when I’m not here telling you what to do). Thread up the ravel cord and knit one row - this will be a row of stockinette on the main bed side. Reach up at left side with the latch hook and catch the ravel cord and pull down about 4-5 inches and, leaving hook hanging there (this will make a loop that you can cut later so there will be 2 ends of ravel cord at each side making it easier to pull out), knit the row, making a row of stockinette on the rib bed side.
Thread up the main yarn. T5/5, K1R. Rack to H4. Carefully bring out the needles. K1R. Rack back to H5, bring out the needles again and K1R. This is the racked cast-on - Pretty easy, nothing else to do and it makes a stretchy edge, unlike the circular cast-on that is in your instruction manual. The racking back and forth criss-crosses the stitches and forms a fixed edge cast-on - for full needle rib, it’s great - later you can fool with the tension and change it up for whatever you want - I use it many different ways in various edges and trims - see ‘Knitting on the EDGE’ and ‘Band Practise’ (see your copy or the bookstore at to order - this has been an unpaid, unsolicited commercial for MAO!) for more of my variations of this.
Now, getting back to the legwarmers, set RC000. Add 1 large rib weight to each end of comb. Go up one full number to T6/6. Knit to RC130 - as you are knitting, everycouple of rows, give a tug on the centre weight to make sure that everything is going well and nothing is caught up where it shouldn't be. At RC130 or more if you want them longer, set to tuck on ribber for English rib: main bed knits all stitches both ways and rib bed knits one way and tucks the other. K30R (or more, as desired or as amount of remaining yarn allows). Cancel tuck. T10/10 ( or as loose as it goes on each bed - Brother ribbers only go up to T8), K1R. Transfer all sts to MB. Leave everything as is, weights, comb and all. Leave empty rib needles in work. K1R. Drop loops off rib needles, by unlatching carriages and running rib carriage over rib bed only. The loops from the rib needles go into the main bed stitches, making very large stitches on main bed. Chain off the stitches - this gives a really loose cast off! Seam the side to form the tube!
The English rib will fold over automatically for the cuff at the top of the legwarmer!
You could use more stitches, less rows of plain rib, more rows of the English Rib for a neck warmer...This will all work on any double bed machine, any gauge...


Mar said...

Thanks for the timely description of the racking cast on. Good idea to try it on a neckwarmer for practice. A is gorgeous!

Laritza said...

I remember knitting many of these on my mom's machine! Thanks for reminding me!