January 18, 2012 § 1 Comment
A little more than a month ago I got an email from my friend Jay that said, basically, “I know it’s in poor taste to go around demanding sweaters from people, but I’d really love a sweater. Maybe we can work something out?”
Since he works for a startup that happens to purvey fine wines and myriad epicurean/artisan fancy edibles, we were able to work out something pretty good (Jay! Those salted caramels were fantastic! Thank you!!!). Also part of the deal is the promise of blog photos in front of the New York City landmark of my choosing, and the accosting of good-looking strangers to do the modeling (maybe)!
So, in a move that catapulted this sweater into quite rare company– I never ever knit anything twice– I suggested the East Hale Cardigan, from the Fall 2011 issue of Knitscene. I’d knit it this past September for another friend of mine, who wore– is still wearing, as I saw on our San Francisco trip– the absolute hell out of it, which pleases me to no end.
That also makes this sweater my Standard Sweater For Dudes in Tech (next in line for a sweater is my friend Ben, who’s been owed one for at LEAST five years, and probably also needs one, living in Ithaca and all. This is because my intarsia-in-the-round was never quite up to the challenge of knitting the Rebel and Imperial insignia onto the backs of fingerless gloves. Understandably.).
Anyway, we sent more emails back and forth, and it looks like the only modifications I’ll be making are to add handwarmer pockets, interior pockets, and breast pockets, of varying zippered status. (He writes, “Warm pockets and hot pockets are all you need to keep a man content.”)
Also per request, an as-in-depth-as-possible account of making this sweater. Seen above is a solid 2.5 hours of knitting, worked last night. The work’s done on US 7 needles (4.5 mm diameter), and begun with a Norwegian Long-Tail Cast On, which is known for its stretchiness and flexibility. On the extreme right and left, where the two sides come together at center front, there’s an incorporated i-cord edging (as opposed to applied, which is where, as a finishing touch, the edging is worked from the picked-up stitches along the fronts. Also, i-cord, short for idiot-cord, is a 3-or-4-stitch knitted tube invented by Elizabeth Zimmermann, and is positively the easiest thing in the world to knit.).
The bottom hem is worked in a 2×2 rib– you knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, and repeat the sequence of four until the end (or, in this case, until you reach the last 8 stitches: there’s a 5-stitch garter stitch front border– more on that later– plus that 3-stitch incorporated i-cord).
Ribbing– columns of alternating knits and purls– makes a piece of knitting much stretchier than it usually would be. A knit stitch brings the yarn up through the front of the stitch below it, pushing the old stitch to the back. A purl stitch brings the yarn up through the back of the stitch below it, pushing the old stitch to the front. (So, the back side– “wrong side”– of a knit is a purl, and vice versa). When you put frontwards-tending and backwards-tending stitches next to one another, the knits push forwards, and the purls recede. So, because they’re filling extra space in the frontwards/backwards direction (I guess that’s z), they’re less able to fill space in the x (left/right) direction, and so they pull in more. And that’s why ribbing is stretchy, and good for the bottom hems of things.
Anyway, Jay, let me know if this is as in-depth as you’d hoped, and if it makes any sense at all. I’m going to figure out how to put little labeled pointer arrows on things, at the very least, so I can explain some more things. I mean, other people do this lots better than I do (TECHknitting comes to mind, plus, her illustrations are 1) awesome and 2) her own), but, anyway, I am telling all.