In our last post we looked at how to work the decreases on the crown of the Bellfield Hat. As you decrease on a hat crown there will be fewer and fewer stitches on your needles, and at some point, you’ll need to change to needles for working small circumferences - double pointed needles, magic loop, or 2 circulars. All of these methods have similar challenges for colourwork, the biggest of which is maintaining tension.
Switching to double pointed needles or magic loop
Once you’ve worked a few decrease rounds, the stitches will become tight around the needle - time to switch to your double pointed needles or long circular.
You can knit the next row onto the new needles, or slip the stitches without working them. When dividing up the stitches amongst the needles, consider how the pattern repeat falls. Try to keep full repeats together on one needle - it’s okay if the needles have vastly different stitch counts.
Hot tip: It’s easiest to keep the beginning of the round toward the center of one needle, rather than between needles.
Floats across needle junctions
It’s particularly easy for floats between double points to be too short - the yarn always wants to take the shortest path, and will cut the corner to do so!
When switching between needles (either double pointed or magic loop), spread out the last few stitches worked on the previous needle before working the first stitch on the next needle.
It’s also very easy to accidentally make a yarn over around the needle when switching needles, shown above. Make sure both strands are behind the right needle before moving onto the next needle.
Catching a float
For longer stretches between colours, you might want to catch or ‘trap’ your floats - this anchors the float in a stitch and prevents the float from getting too tight. When working the smaller circumference of a hat crown you might find that you need to catch the floats over shorter stretches in order to maintain tension than you would lower down on the hat or on another project with a larger circumference.
On Bellfield I caught the floats on rounds 21 and 22, at the centre of the seven consecutive background stitches, catching the contrast colour directly over the stitch in the same colour on the round below.
To catch a float in the pattern (dominant) colour:
Insert the right needle into the next stitch to knit (above). The strand to be caught is on the left.
Bring the left strand OVER the right needle from the back, holding it in place and making sure the first float isn’t too tight;
Then wrap the right strand normally and draw through to complete the knit stitch.
The float should be trapped in the stitch, at the back of the work. Continue in your working yarn, checking that you haven't pulled the float too tightly across the back.
With a little practice, your stranded colourwork will be flying off the needles!
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