Saturday, December 5, 2009


I've been experimenting lately with making continuous spirals. The first project was a mini-hat.

(Top view)

If you count the strands knotted on the top you'll find 5 purple and 3 white. Note that the purple spiral is 5 rows high and the white spiral is 3 rows high. This is not a coincidence.

(Side view, inside-out)
I'm showing it to you inside-out so you can see that the yarn does not carry across any rows or columns of stitches; the stripes spiral continuously, all the way to the top, like a barber pole. (I'm not sure if this would qualify as a helix -- I think so but can't say with any degree of authority.)

You might be wondering, if you're knitting a spiral form, how do you start and end? If you look at the candy-cane sock below, which I knit cuff-down, you can see that the cast-on row cuts across the red stripes.

Unlike the baby hat, the stripes don't go all the way to the tip of the toe here. It's possible to do, it's just a pain. For this particular sock, I decided to end the spiral just before the toe. I'll tackle the spiral toe next time.

The image below should give you some idea of the work involved...
Yes those are 12 different strands of yarn that I am working with simultaneously. If you count them you'll find 8 separate balls of white and four red. As with the hat, each strand of yarn corresponds to 1 row on the sock -- only this time, I broke the pattern up into 7 white, 3 red, 1 white, 1 red. The box with the 12-piece separator was a nice way to keep all of the strands separate, while maintaining easy portability of the project. Half-bottle wine box with separator graciously provided by Panther Creek winery.

Allow me also to point you to the work of Sarah-Marie Belcastro, topological graph theorist and uber-expert knitter. She knits her spiral pieces differently than I do -- just another interpretation of the form. She has a new book pending publication which will demonstrate her method. If you're a Raveler, check out her Spiral Bedsocks!