Insanely Amazing Contiguous

I have been obsessed with sleeve heads and the whole idea of knitting sleeves simultaneously with the body – or in some other interesting way. So there was a lot of rambling as I knitted the Red Rag, a lot of bad language as I mastered ( and adapted…) Barbara Walker’s Kangaroo Pouch Jumper, joy as I discovered top down with the Shellseeker and great curiosity as I knitted the Silken Scabbard

But this is the ultimate: Susie M’s Contiguous Method was mentioned on Kate Davies’ blog a few months weeks back, but I didn’t put two and two together that this was something I had come across (and marveled at) last year when somebody showed me their Driftwood by Isabell Kraemer.

It’s been a rainy weekend. I had been doing the weekly shopping on Friday, Patrick took Esther to basketball on Saturday and Sunday there was not soccer because the season has not started yet!

So I decided to start my own Driftwood… which required a bit of rocket science, since my yarn has got a different gauge and I wanted an in-between size from what the Driftwood pattern had to offer…

This is how far I got

DSCN7648  It is just a superb way to knit a stripy pattern – the stripes are carried to the sleeve head (just think how much time you save on not sewing in ends!). Above you see the beautiful set in sleeve. And how nice is the back? I think it is insanely amazing, actually. DSCN7650Only when I am finished I will be able to make a judgement about the back neck – it is not as rounded as with the Barbara Walker top down method.

And this picture really explains the mystery of the method: DSCN7649

So you cast on the back neck and then add one stitch each row (in knit AND purl row) to shape the shoulder (instead of the traditional short row shaping). When the shoulder is long enough, you change the point at which you increase sts, because now you increase on the sleeve side.  NOTE: here the top of the sleeve head starts with 4 sts and then increases every 2nd row one st each side – personally I think one needs at least 8 – 10 sts at the top of the sleeve head in order to achieve enough width across the top arm… so next time I will add 4 rows to the shoulder and use the extra length created for at wider sleeve head. So this is weekend’s knitting frenzy is not a stroke of a genius… I spent a few weeks mucking around sampling my new donated yarns to the point that my sample folder is nearly bursting at the seams. DSCN7651I saw a nice pattern for a Henley (traditional type of underwear top) in the latest issue of Interweave and sampled the required Waffle Stitch a bit.DSCN7655

Then I thought that actually, my donated blue goes well with the donated grey, so hey – why don’t I do something interesting using the wonderful stranded colorwork pattern from Kate Davies’ Funchal Mobius?

DSCN7652Anyway, after starting something entirely different in brown (and knitting and ripping out 1/2 back panel) … I got back to the Henley idea and got stuck into it this weekend! So never mind it was a rainy weekend, DSCN7656there were people making nice food

DSCN7659and I got to do what I really love…DSCN7662

Hope you had a great weekend!

Proudly Presenting: Japanese Lace Top

I have never really written about this project – hinted at it and made the odd grand announcement that I was about to write about it… and now stage one is miraculously finished!DSCN6953

Voila! The actual color is not as warm as this (see below) – I just enjoyed playing around with the newly discovered facilities on iPhoto.

This top is an amazing fit, and the wool is so very soft – I am just not used to wearing such figure hugging outfits, so it feels a bit odd. I am just not sure if I have done the pattern and the wool any justice… I think the pattern would have actually stood out better knitted up in (a) cotton and (b) in a lighter color and the wool would have just come into its own much better knitted up in a plain stocking stitch. Anyway, it is what it is, stocking stitch in this thin yarn would have been utterly boring…DSCN6960

Isn’t the lace just stunning… And I love the neck detail, how the different lace just grows out of the body.DSCN6961

There is a lot on the web you can find to help you using Japanese knitting patterns, so I will not spend much time re-inventing the wheel here, but these are my thoughts:

  •  a lot of the Japanese patterns I have found are very sophisticated (more so than the average stuff in Western patterns) – so they are really worth knitting up
  • unfortunately all of the patterns I have found come in one size only (size AU 10), so unless you happen to be that size, you have a bit of a job re-charting… which is tricky since these patterns are very well balanced and thought out, adding an inch here and there where your size might need it could potentially be really tough
  • Japanese patterns are concise and written in a very economic style – a short blurb which I don’t understand and then two pages of schematics and graphs which I found more or less straightforward to work out (see example below)
  • great care is taken with the garments shape – Japanese patterns seem to use increases/ decreases as well as different needle sizes to achieve this
  • Japanese knitting projects are not of the kind that you can knit up while watching a great movie or having an exiting conversation… they do require a lot of attention, following the graph/ charts closely – and in this top for instance the lace pattern required yos and decreases in every row…
  • if you want to embark on a Japanese project, find some resources that translate the basic knitting terms, explain the basic charting style, explain the notation for decreases/ increases, … make a photocopy of the pattern and write your ‘translation’ on it

So, I hope nobody gets their knickers in a twist about copyright if I put this first of two pages up to explain how I approached this project…DSCN6287

The first bullet point tells you what yarn and how much is used for this pattern, really irrelevant for me, since I never stick to the recommended yarn, but a good guide. Below that, it lists the required needle sizes (again, you find heaps of info on the web for converting those sizes into US or metric); size 3, 4 and 5 are 3mm, 3.25mm and 3.5mm. Then there is the guide for the size of he finished garment; I am not a genius and my maths is limited – but adding up the figures in the chart made me work out that the bust measurement is 92cm, the finished length would be 55.5cm and from armhole to hem would be 36cm. The gauge is 27st and 33 rows for 10 cm knitted in pattern A and B. So, then there is a whole paragraph that I couldn’t (and probably didn’t need to) figure out, my guess it is a short description of how to go about constructing the top.

Let’s just run through how I approached the back: at the very bottom the figure 121 MUST indicate the number of stitches to cast on, and voila – there you have the symbol for ‘stitch’! Of course I ignored that – I knitted front and back together in the round up to the armhole – I could not find any reason why not… and having to work the pattern in both rows (knit and purl/ right and wrong side), it seemed infinitely easier to just work it in the round to get the decreases (slanting to the right and left) right. Capital letters A, B, C refer to the pattern charts used, the number next to it refers to the needle size used. The arrows up and down indicate the knitting direction (!). I ignored that, I couldn’t see why I wouldn’t just knit in the one direction, starting with 2 rows of garter stitch (which the photo seemed to indicate). Now the fun notation for decreases/ increases: 2 – 4 – 1 means: every 2 rows – decr/incr 4 st – 1 time. Whether it is decr or incr you figure from the chart – the same notation is used for both, I gather. Framing the schematics for the back are a lot of numbers, and having worked out the symbol for ‘stitch’, and assuming that everything followed by ‘c’ refers to cm, I gather that other numbers would refer to ‘row’… and when you consult the carts, you can cross- reference that that is correct. I have cast on the little jacket that goes with it…

Yarn – the yarn is amazing, it’s Smooshy sock weight sumptuously splendid hand dyed yarn in shade Vino Veritas. This top took less than 2 x 100gr skeins. I have got 400 gr left for the wee jacket (also in lace). DSCN6285

And the pattern – it’s from ‘Let’s Knit’ series, Vol #17.DSCN6963

On cake and set in top down sleeves

There is a lot to catch up on – I have not written a post in ages! I am totally out of the habit of  taking photos of what happens around me, I hope that is not going to be a problem for you… I will have to use my words.

Let’s first talk about cake. DSCN6072Sunday before last I had my department for morning tea, this was a cake eating event instead of a baby shower for one of my colleagues. This looks pretty impressive, eh? I made a German marble cake (far back on the big blue plate) and this time I iced it with lemon icing. I also made the German plum tart on the red cake stand. I gave my colleague the little knitted baby jump suit – and my colleague just loved it.

Well, Sunday cake is engrained in our family’s week now, I made some more this Sunday: a honey cheese cake and three banana cakes (only one in this picture).DSCN6085 Pretty yummy. With the cake news covered, let’s get into the knitting news.

Well the next brief item covers cake and knitting – we went to Timothy’s birthday and had cake and delivered the knitted Bull jumper… and it fits!!! I made the sleeves 10 cm and the body 15cm longer than the original Bull jumper, and this was just based on his brother’s estimate, well BINGO. (Sadly no photo – please imagine a handsome, blond young man with a beautiful smile, pleased to take the woolen jumper off on a hot day).

Now knitting pure: I have been busy knitting the second jump suit for my brother’s baby, realizing that the baby is due in 2 weeks time! So this one is stripy, but has got just as many stitches than the first one (he he he) – these tiny garments on 2.25mm needles take just as long as an item for an adult on 4mm needles, seriously!

Knitting away on the 2nd jump suit gives me the opportunity to check my pattern for accuracy, but also to revise my entire idea of how to set out to represent instructions, the notation of good knitwear design. And though it’s all very accurate what I have put on paper – I realized that it is terribly long-winded and off-putting, even for the keenest of knitters… Somehow I thought of Japanese knitting instructions, no idea where I read that they are really easy to understand. I googled, I found, I read, I understood – this subject deserves it’s very own post one day (though there is already lot’s written about it) so I will only say that it’s the Japanese style I will be aiming for in my own writing – simple and clear, everything is set out on one page, no words are wasted… a drawing and a few numbers, I love it!!!

I have started something myself! A knitted shirt. I actually documented the process diligently (and the pics got deleted from the camera by another user, so much for shared gadgets), but they are no longer available… This project has been exiting in more than one way:

  1. It is for me, myself, I!!!
  2. it is bright red, not grey – I am getting bold with my colors, hurraaaa!
  3. I took the pattern of a shirt I love wearing… there is a bit of shaping involved here to get a good fit, so fingers crossed it all turns out as planned
  4. I am making fitted sleeves! Fitted sleeves knitted from the top!!!!!! I was tempted to buy a book on the subject – but then I figured that I have a brain and that I am paid to think (something I still am getting used to…) – so I do have the capacity to work this one out myself and funnily enough, I think I did!
  5. I will make cuffs and a collar, all edged with garter stitch

Here are some pearls of wisdom re: set in/ fitted sleeves knitted from the top. All I knew when I started this, was that the cap of the sleeve is knitted with short rows, increasing stitches either side from the shoulder seam.

First of all one needs to pick up the stitches around the armhole. Two decisions are to be made: (1) How to pick them up neatly? (2) how many stitches?

DSCN6090

(1) DSCN6091I divided the armhole into three sections and dealt with each section slightly differently.  My decreases for the armhole were as follows:  3, 2, 2, 4 x 1, 0, 1 stitches and then 32 rows no decreases.

  1. section 1: at the bottom of the armhole where I had cast off  3, 2, 2 stitches, so I went into the 7 stitches to pick up the new ones, I ignored the gaps between the rows, so the scye turned out nice and tight.
  2. section 2: where I decreased 4 x 1 stitch I went into the stitches to pick up new ones, but also picked up extra stitches under each decrease, by going into the stitches as before.
  3. section 3: along the 32 rows of no increases, I picked up 3 stitches every 4 rows by going into the space next to the selvage stitch.

(2) It was hard to thing to get my head around the issue of how many stitches to pick up… for the top down fitted sleeves you pick up stitches to fit the armhole (armhole measurement x 1/10 stitch gauge; 46 cm x 2 in my case = 92 st) – this is the ‘first row’ of the sleeve cap, the foundation for all the short rows – but then the sleeve width is measured across the armhole; 36 cm x 2 in my case = 72 st). What about the 20 stitches difference???? Me and my brain, we figured that because my cap is 38 rows high (18 increases either side from the shoulder seam), we need to divide my stitches across the armhole (72) by 18 rows, ensuring that the first increases (at the cap) start flat (around 4 st each side), then steep (1 increase every side) and that the last increases (at the bottom of the armhole) match my armhole decreases. As for the extra stitches, 20 of them – I will have to decrease them evenly around the armhole as I knit my short rows… but not at the scye, that needs to stay tight. So everything fell nicely into place…

I will keep you posted… and not leave any unpublished photos in the camera for too long…