Continuing in the knitting vein this week I want to show you the basic technique I use to make knitted trees. For this project you will need some fabric circles. I used felt or thrifted wool scarves to make these circles and glasses, cups and bowls from the kitchen cupboard to draw the circles on the fabric. You will also need either ric rac, picot edge lace trim or any other lace with large holes it it. The other essentials are yarn , a set of 4 double pointed needles of a suitable size for the yarn you have chosen, a tapestry or yarn needle, stuffing material ( I use fleece ), small stones and access to a sewing machine or a sewing needle and thread. A crochet hook is helpful to pick up the stitches and also in case you drop any stitches along the way.
This is a really nice project to experiment with wools of different thicknesses and textures. I chose some colors that reminded me of autumn in Canada. The yellow wool is lamb's pride ( the favorite wool of knitting wonder Jess Hutchison), the orange is a merino/mohair blend from alchemy yarns and the multicolored one is hand spun merino.
1. Cut some circles out of wool felt or some other fabric and sew either ric rac or picot lace edging around the circumference . If you choose ric rac make sure you sew it very close to one edge and not in the middle of the trim so you can poke a knitting needle or crochet hook through the holes.
2. Choose your wool and needles and start picking up a stitch of wool a every "hole" in the ric rac or picot edging.
3. Continue this picking up an approximately equal number of stitches on each of three needles. For this example I ended up with 7 stitches on each of 3 needles for a total of 21 stitches.
4. Now start knitting in the round with 4 needles. You can decide how short or tall you want your tree to be by the number of rows between the decrease rows. There is no magic recipe but I started my decreases after 6 rows of plain knitting.
5. To decrease knit the first stitch , then knit the next 2 stitches together ( or if you are a seasoned knitter slip, slip k2tog ) , knit until 3 stitches remain on your needle and knit 2 stitches together and knit the last stitch . Repeat this for the other 2 needles . You will have decreased by 6 stitches on this round if all went well. So if you started with 21 stitches you should now have 15 or 5 stitches on each of three needles. Continue knitting plain rounds for about another 6 rows and then you can make your next set of decreases. I had 5 stitches so what I did was knit the first stitch, slip the next stitch onto your right hand needle and then knit the next two stitches together and then take the slipped stitch over this stitch. Knit the last stitch on the needle. Repeat this for the next two needles. If you did this correctly you will have 3 stitches on each needle for a total of 9 stitches.
6. Place you small stone inside the tree now. If you don't have a stone you can use something else to give it a little weight. A small pouch of crushed stones or sand would work. It needs to be enclosed since it would fall out of the knitted material. Some people use rice or barley but I have had bad experiences with that because it attracts little animals and insects. I should tell a story about that one day. After you have weighted the bottom of the tree you can add the stuffing now before the opening is too small.
7. Now continue knitting for a few rows and then comes the final decrease. Slip the first stitch to your right hand needle, knit the next two together and then take the slipped stitch over that one so you are left with only one stitch. Repeat this for the other two needles. You will have only 3 stitches , one on each needle. Cut the yarn leaving a 6 inch tail and thread this on your yarn needle. Gather up the three stitches on your thread starting counter clockwise and pull tight. Fasten with a few stitches and pull the thread through the tree to hide it. Thread the starting end on your yarn needle and sew it in side the tree as well. You are finished your first tree!! I bet you can't make just one.
You can make all sorts of variations by changing the wool, turning it inside out to let the purl side show , making some purl rows on the knitting side , make stripes of different colors or you can get really fancy and use lace patterns, bobbles, cables or even fair isle patterns.
These trees will make wonderful little additions to my seasonal table.