WIP Wednesday: Spiralling Star Fingerless Mittens Commission!

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 Welcome back to WIP Wednesday! This week, I've  been doing some knitting on a much-awaited commission piece - a pair of Spiralling Star Mittens - and yes, that is, in fact, 4 strands of yarn at once. 

a dark purple mitten in progress, knit in a spiralling star stitch pattern.   The working yarn is 4 strands of very fine yarn. There is a silver stitch marker with a shell charm hooked over one of the needles.
Why, oh why, would I do that to myself?

Because the yarn is actually incredibly fragile.  It's cobweb/thread weight 100% recycled cashmere from *The Frogger Niagara and it's glorious, but fragile. 

This is probably because it's yarn that's been reclaimed from sweaters and other knits.  Now, for commercial knits, a lot of them are actually knit at a very fine gauge.  Knitting machines can do this no problem (in fact, the knitting machine I learned on as a child would throw a tantrum over anything heavier then a light fingering weight yarn), and this is also how we get a lot of our knit jersey fabric  for things like t-shirts!

But that means it's very, very fine.  I'd always intended to hold it double to approximate the fingering-weight yarn called for in the pattern, but it was snapping wherever the tension was applied. So, I've been playing a bit of yarn chicken, and holding it quadrupled, instead, and it's working up absolutely gloriously.  There's a bunch of ends on the inside where one strand has snapped here and there, but that's just finishing work  (and I don't directly  mind weaving in ends), so, that's not a big deal for me. 

While I was working on this on this week's livestream, someone asked  'why would you hold yarn double or triple?' and there are a few answers. 

1) Because you're stash-diving.  Being able to hold two or more  yarns double might mean you have exactly the right colour or fiber already in your stash - either yarn you want to use up, or, you just don't want to spend money on new yarn (I mean, I love squishy yarn mail as much as anyone, but sometimes, it's nice to work with what you've already got!)

a pair of fingerless mittens knit in a marled gradient
Photography: Stephanie Wallace
2) For effect.  There are lots of patterns out there that will tell you to  hold two strands together -- usually, running a strand of something super fuzzy, like mohair, alongside something else, so that the finished fabric has that glorious mohair halo.

2a) This is also true for colour.   Newbie Knitter me, for example, bought some black alpaca lace-weight, before I knew any better.  (I regretted trying to knit with this stuff!).  But, stranding it alongside a ball of *Knit Picks Chroma Fingering?  It turned marled, and very cool - and was much, much easier to work with.  

You can also see this effect writ large in the absolutely beautiful work of Kirk Dunn - he used multiple strands of  yarn held together to make the giant knitted tapestries that are the centerpiece of "The Knitting Pilgrim."

So yes, sometimes there are reasons why you might want to work with two (or more) strands of yarn at once, and getting comfortable doing so really opens up some fun options!   That said, it can be a bit of a pain, so, it's not suited to every project. 

Anyway, back to this particular commission. 

Needles are my 2.75 mm (US 2) *Circular Needles from KnitPicks, and, I'm really loving these! I was a little leery of the Knit Picks circulars at first, as I'd heard a few horror stories, but so far, I haven't had any trouble, and really like the feel of them!  And the cord is -so- flexible, it's wonderful for Magic Loop!  If I were to have any complaints, it's that the join isn't perfectly smooth, so sometimes thinner yarns (like this one) can get caught a little, but all that takes is a nudge or two to get things moving again. And I've had much more expensive needles do the same thing, so, that's not a big deal for me at all!

Stitch Marker is my *Shell Stitch Marker from *WineMakersSister's Etsy Shop. It's a locking stitch marker, which is perfect for when the stitch pattern crosses over the beginning/end of round, because that makes it much easier to remove and replace. And the lobster claw is small enough to actually sit right on the needle for this one, though, I could also hook it right into the work, as well. 

So, that's my current WIP, so I'll  put the question to you: what are you working on today?  Let us know in the comments, or post it in the Works In Progress channel on Discord!