November 14, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Well, it’s been a while since I showed you what I’ve been knitting on.
And for my friend Ben, I worked on a pair of mittens from a pattern book from the 1940′s, provided scanned by the V&A (WWII era; Essentials for the Forces). I guess this comes as no surprise, but I took them for a test drive (well, bike-ride) in the cold the other night, and was very impressed with how warm they were. Hands are still pretty much the same, 60 years later.
August 10, 2012 § 2 Comments
Well, after more than six months, this famed behemoth has been finished. It weights 2 lbs and 3 oz (maybe not quite behemoth caliber, but, when you consider the fact that the average sweater weighs about 1 lb, then maybe), and took about 20 balls of yarn.
No modeled shots yet, since this will be a Christmas present– but you’re not tired of the cables-receding-off-into-infinity trope yet, are you? I guess I could have made Zac model it for me, but, you know, it’s August.
You’ll be happy to hear, though, that when my dad came to visit the farm the other weekend, I made him try it on, and all my fears about a poor fit were relieved.
I do like this sweater an awful lot, but I sure am glad it’s over (on the other hand, having spent a good long while with Aran Knitting, I found myself pretty drawn to Irish Moss. Maybe in CSA share yarn, when it comes back from the mill?).
February 10, 2012 § 3 Comments
After putting in another 5 hours on Jay’s sweater, and knitting a pretty mindless rectangle, I got up to the underarms.
All the arrows, you can see, are pointing to tiny irregularities that occur at regular intervals up along the garter stitch borders. These irregularities are wraps. The amount of vertical space (known as row gauge, and measured in rows per inch) that stockinette stitch (the stitch the body’s done in: every stitch a knit stitch) and garter stitch (the stitch the front borders are done in: alternating rows of knit and purl) take up are different. Garter stitch, since it moves more laterally and frontwards/backwards, takes up less vertical space. Therefore, if the two are going to coexist side-by-side, you need to work an extra row or two of garter stitch every now and again. Turns out, every 6th row, you turn the work, and add a short little 7th and 8th row to each border– the irregularities, the wraps, are the evidence left over from executing that turn (the move itself is called wrap and turn, and is used for working short rows. Also, there are lots of different ways to work a short row.).
Okay, so, another 5 hours, and we’ve got both the right and left fronts, and the back completed. The fronts involve putting stitches for the underarms on hold (white yarn), decreasing for the armscye and the opening of the neckline (arrows again), and working increases on both sides of the garter stitch borders to create a gentle shawl collar.
So, what we’ve got, from the front, looks like this:
The two sides of the collar meet at the back of the neck and are grafted together. Here’s the back of the neck. The seam’s circled:
The back, of course, is sewed to the right front and the left front. These seams, usually situated at the tops of the shoulders, are, in this design, placed a few inches over the curve of the shoulder– it’s a very thoughtful touch, and looks very clean and professional (Bravo, Alexis!).
After that, the body’s done (until it’s time to return for finishing work: zippers and pockets). Time for sleeves.
Okay, I’ve put the sleeve on hold so I can take this photo, because this is important. So, basically, thus far, I’ve knitted a vest. To put sleeves on it could be as simple as picking up the stitches around each armscye and knitting around and around. However, let’s do one better, and think about sleeves (and arms). Because the arms’ natural position is by one’s sides, less material– less fabric– is needed at the underarm than at the top of the arm. Hence this, the short-row sleeve cap. Before working the spiraling round-and-round of the sleeve, first you work a sleeve cap back-and-forth, using short rows. You begin working the stitches at the top of the arm, and, with each pass back and forth, add one stitch on either the right or left side of those stitches– you’re working a short-row that gets longer by 1 st with each iteration. Eventually, all the stitches have been subsumed, the center/top of the sleeve is longer than the sides/bottom, and you switch to working the sleeve in the round (that’s the part I’m about to start on).
January 24, 2012 § 6 Comments
When beautiful presents are knit, there’s always a price to be paid.
This sad little rectangle, testament to my failure to KNIT ALL THE THINGS (see: Startitis), is all there is of my dad’s Christmas sweater, the notorious Na Craga, which pattern prompted knitters to buy (and sell) their out-of-print copies of Aran Knitting for, famously, upwards of $200.
This sweater has been promised him ever since I received Aran Knitting for Christmas 2010, a present from my sister Charlotte (she’d asked the shop assistant for Aryan Knitting, which is another problem for another day. Charlotte’s absence-of-Christmas-sweater is also another problem for another day.)
I am, of course, still working on it. I really enjoy the similarity between working it, and working on the January Aran I started a few weeks back– the central horseshoe cables, the aran braid.
My main concern is that it might be a little too big for my dad. I’ve knit for him before, and have erred both on the side of too big and too small, but have never gotten it quite right– which sad fact is probably related to my never actually having taken a measurement. However, the too-large sweater is worn with middling frequency, but always accompanied by the wisecrack, “You much think an awful great lot of your father– that I’m quite the big man around town,” which is nice. The too-small one may as well not exist. I haven’t seen it since 2009. This is a shame, because it was beautiful.
Worst case, it fits Zac and goes to him– neatly skirting the Sweater Curse & associated problems.
I’m working in KnitPicks Swish, in Squirrel Heather (such a name!), on US 5 needles (the yarn is left over from my Poorer Days). I’m gritting my teeth a bit on the superwash, but, given the track record (How many hats have become yarmulkes? Too many.), it’s either that or cotton.
My dream-goal is to knit 1 ball (110 yds) a day, and be done in less than a month. That is likely impossible. Therefore, my actual deadline is March 21, Dad’s birthday (and, as the first day of Spring, the end of sweater weather).
And so, to tack on an end, I’d like to thank you all for your super-nice comments on yesterday’s sweater. They mean so much to me!
ETA: Forgetful! On Ravelry!
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.
September 26, 2011 § 4 Comments
I’m a little bit hamstrung by the nature of this particular cardigan– it’s a gift– but I’m too proud of how it turned out to not show you a hint of what it looks like. It’s almost done, except for sewing in the zipper (I’m going to try this method, which doesn’t actually involve sewing at all).
So, you know, stay tuned & all that.