New double pins are here!

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My hand-turned double pins have finally arrived! Two different sizes, each 40 cm long. Now for the first time I can make seamless baskets and containers using thick semi-felted wool.

So I set off knitting the base according to my existing pattern which I wrote for the seamed baskets. Here’s Larry checking out my progress.

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The old basket is nowhere near big enough but it was as large as I could go on two pairs of ordinary 20 mm needles.

A convenient facet of working on this large scale is that it’s easy to pull the needles out without losing track of the stitches. Every few rounds I would pull out the double pins and check the lie of the circle so far. I wanted it to be as flat as possible. A basket needs a nice flat base. Unfortunately, I appeared to be knitting a dome.

I unpicked my work a few times and tried different patterns of increases. But the dome would not go away. Hours went by and I wasn’t getting anywhere. Why was working this pattern in the round so much harder than on two needles? Was the puckering caused by too many increases, or too few? I looked at my work again, and realised I was reading it incorrectly. I had to take a completely different approach to working the increases. Keeping the unsatisfactory domed circle as a guide, I found the other end of my yarn and started again.

Exhibit A: the dome. Exhibit B: the circle.

Exhibit A: the dome. Exhibit B: the circle.

We met some friends for dinner at a restaurant. Even then I was thinking, ‘maybe I should have started off with 4 stitches instead of 6. I’ll try it tonight before I go to bed’. I was determined to get a better result, to the point of obsession. I started to completely remove the double pins after every round, so that I could press my circle out flat and see how flat it really was. Here’s Larry helping me with my assessment.

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Through all the hours of trial and error, I was learning a lot about the fibre and the way it behaves on those needles. All good experience, and good experience is never wasted. The basket base is not completely flat, but it is definitely no longer a dome. And in the finished article, the fibres will settle, and the base will flatten with use. My basket base now measures half a metre (20 inches) in diameter, and I’m halfway up the sides.

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I am hoping that I will have enough wool left to complete it, without having to unpick my former prototype. But I won’t be working on it tonight, because at this moment Herbie is settled down in it, having a good wash and a stretch, framed by the five double pins, and Monty is making do with squeezing himself into the little basket alongside.

Till next time,

L x

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