by Chris Laning
This is a product of some experimentation with working a square from the center out. It also has an edging which is knitted (not sewn) on after the rest is done. But if you plan ahead, you can still do the whole thing with one unbroken piece of yarn.
Sugar-n-Cream (worsted wt. cotton), less than one 70-gram skein; and 3.5 mm needles (I used five dp’s and a 16″ circular). This is a washcloth: gauge isn’t that important. You also need a couple of pieces of scrap yarn for cast-ons.
Use your favorite invisible cast-on. I rather like this one: With a crochet hook about the same size as your knitting needles, and using scrap yarn, chain 16, joining into a ring. Pull the end through to lock the chain.
Find a point about 18 inches back from the end of your “real” yarn. Pull this point through the “bump” on the back of one of the crochet stitches (NOT through either “leg” of the chain) to form the first knit stitch. Working with the part of the yarn toward the ball, pick
up 15 more sts and distribute on four double pointed needles.
(Yes, this leaves an 18″ long end dangling. Roll it up and rubber band it or something, but don’t cut it off. You’ll need it to finish the center.)
Round 1: Knit.
Round 2: Purl till 1 st remains on first needle, increase 1 by your favorite method (I knit under the running thread between the st just knit and the next), K the last st on the needle, and increase again before beginning to purl the next needle, for a total of 8 increases in the round. (This is MUCH easier on four needles than three, I think, because you don’t need to mark the corner sts.)
Round 3: Purl.
Round 4: Knit all around, increasing as you did in Round 2.
Repeat these 4 rounds until washcloth is about 1 inch smaller than you want the finished size to be, always increasing on either side of the same corner sts (this is what makes it a square). When the dpn’s start getting too full, transfer to the circular needle.
(Note: you can purl the corner sts on the purl increase rounds if you find it less confusing, but I think it looks better with those 4 sts kept in knit.)
End with a round of K3, K2tog, knitting the corner stitches plain. (In other words, decrease about five or six sts evenly spaced along each side. Otherwise, the edging will ripple. Yes, you really DO need to decrease this many.)
Knit 5 or 10 sts beyond the end of the round, then stop. (The edging is a bit easier if you don’t have to do a corner right away.)
You are now going to work the edging around all four sides, attaching it as you go. (This will seem weird if you’ve never done it before.) Starting it is the only tricky part. Hold onto your hats. Here goes:
With scrap yarn, crochet a chain of about 5 stitches and pull the end through to lock the chain.
Slip the last stitch you knitted back onto the left-hand needle. Turn your work over as if to work back in the other direction.
One at a time, stick your “new” left-hand needle through three of the “bumps” on the back of the crochet chain, slipping them onto the needle so they look like a row of three stitches waiting to be worked.
Now pick up your working yarn and purl those three “stitches.” Turn your work over (back to the “right side”).
Slip 1, Knit 2, K2tog to attach the edging to the square. Turn.
Work the edging as follows (all slip sts are slipped knitwise). The odd-numbered rows are “outgoing,” the evens “incoming.”
Row 1: Slip 1 (on odd rows, this will always be the decrease stitch you just made), Knit 1, YO, Knit 2. Turn.
Row 2: Slip 1, Knit 3, K2tog. Turn.
Row 3: Slip 1, Knit 1, YO, Knit 3. Turn.
Row 4: Slip 1, Knit 4, K2tog. Turn.
Row 5: Slip 1, Knit 1, YO, Knit 4. Turn.
Row 6: Slip 1, bind off 3, Knit 2, K2tog. Turn.
You will know you have done this right if the first Knit st on Row 6 is the YO of the previous row.
Repeat these 6 rows to make edging. When you get to a corner, work 3 to 5 times into the corner stitch: that is, when you K 2 tog, slip only the first of the 2 sts off the left-hand needle, leaving the second loop — the corner stitch — *on* the needle. Work out and back, doing this again. The third (or fifth) time, work out and back, and when you K2tog, slip both loops off the left-hand needle as usual.
When you’ve arrived back at your starting point, “unlock” and pull out the scrap yarn and graft the end to the beginning as best you can, and run the end of the yarn back into the stitches as you usually do to finish off.
Um, haven’t we forgotten something?
Oh yes, the center.
Carefully “unlock” the scrap yarn and pull it out. (I find this easiest if I lay the whole thing down on a flat surface.) Pick up the resulting 16 sts on your dpn’s.
K 2 tog all around (8 sts), using that 18-inch long “tail” that’s been patiently waiting for you all this time.
Lay the square down on a flat surface again and pull the needles out. Thread a yarn needle with the long end. Now carefully run the end through all 8 stitches, taking the yarn around in the same direction you’ve been knitting with it. Pull tight. Go around once again for insurance and finish off the end.
This makes a pretty little “star” at the center if you are careful not to twist the sts the wrong way or get them out of order.
The reason for the decrease round: I find it much easier to start on 16 sts when working from the center out than with 4 or 8 — the needles are less likely to slide out of the stitches, and you don’t feel quite so much like you’re trying to get a porcupine to cooperatefor those first couple of rounds.