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

Thank God SOMETHING works well!


The good news is: top down set in sleeves work, they work for me… they are such a nice fit. And the other really neat thing is though there is a bit of initial complication to get the project going – you need to have your wits about in every row – once you have reached the underarm stage… sweet… you just go round and round in circles until body and sleeves are done to the cuff… The bad news: I will start again, yes, 3rd time lucky, I do hope. This is just a tiny bit too big on Patrick… never mind, another chance to refine the pattern.


Here is a shot with the garment lying flat – you see how I have increased the armhole stitches on the body and started the jolly round and round knitting… I then paused and knitted the sleeve head again: I picked up all the increased armhole stitches from the body in one row and then I knitted short rows across the sleeve head (back and forth/ knit and purl) increasing the right amount of stitches per row (just as I did for the underarm on the body) and then I started my jolly round and round knitting.

Peace at Last!

I have worked out all the issues… and I think now I can anticipate a calm and quiet weekend! I jumped out of bed early this morning and felt like screaming Eureka! In my sweet half slumber, while the birds were tuning up, it came to me how the sleeve heads are done! Much unraveling has occurred to get to this stage of this project and there are two things I’d really like to go on record: (1) I am not one for easily giving myself credit, but I am almighty proud of this jumper, having solved all the issues and problems with the design, matching the stripes to the size and design and so forth… (2) Even when the going got tough and I was in states of frustration, exultation, passion or flow – I did write a comprehensive pattern of those sections, this is a first! I usually get carried away and just get it done somehow and then cannot remember how on earth I did it.DSCN6570

Neckline challenge: I wasn’t sure if the neck really was going to sit nicely, being so square… I altered the Kangaroo Pouch Jumper pattern by starting the neckline of the front a stripe lower than the beginning of the shoulder.

Shoulder challenge: Uh, I didn’t take a picture of the back shoulder, hm. Well, in the above picture you can see a red stripe finishing the back piece. That stripe has got short rows on the side to shape the shoulder – and it was tricky to match the short rows with the stripes.


Armhole challenge 1: This picture illustrates  the name Kangaroo Pouch Jumper fairly well – an unusually big amount of stitches is put on hold (they look like kangaroo pouches, eh?); then one knits around the entire armhole (picking up stitches along the steek and along the ‘pouch stitches’) and then the top down set in sleeves are worked, starting up at the shoulder. A steek, YIKES! I did have a good look on google for steek information, but then decided to take Elizabeth Zimmermann’s instructions on face value: I stitched two rows of short zig zag along the opening, which I had basted carefully and then…DSCN6578.

… I cut it open!

Armhole challenge 2: I followed EZ’s instructions to the dot here, picking up the ‘pouch’ stitches that were on hold and then picking up around the armhole 2 stitches to every 3 rows, which resulted in a really nice and smooth finish.

Sleeve head challenge: I tried and tried, followed the instruction to the dot but couldn’t get it to work. EZ’s method is starting the sleeve head at the shoulder seam and then increasing the one st at the end of each row (short row shaping) as well as decreasing the armhole stitches. I couldn’t get the decrease to look neat with the stripes and all… so I hoped for the best that a solution may come to me.DSCN6599

Collar challenge: I wasn’t sure if the collar was going to sit nicely, being so square – but hey – looks good to me! I used the same method as for the hem, just in reverse (knitting lining last and then hand sewing it down.

I saved the best for last – the Eureka Moment. Instead of decreasing the armhole stitches, I decreased stitches within the sleeve cap! I thus had no issues with stripe colors from the sleeve head colliding with the light grey stripe of the armhole and making a mess. And an additional bonus was (which I didn’t know until I did it!) that my sleeve head stripes match the ones on the body!

Have a great weekend!

Für Löwe

DSCN6549This is finally finished! Do you remember the plain cream long sleeved baby jumpsuit I finished about a month ago? It’s the same pattern, but I put in a stripe. You will never believe me (or may be you will…?) – I knitted the sleeves, and as I got to the second final sleeve I just had to face the fact that I didn’t have enough navy blue to finish the stripes in this particular pattern. (Yes, I did go back to the shop where I bought the yarn some time ago and no, they didn’t have any more of the navy yarn… only pee yellow and sweet pink). So, I thought that it would be very hip and rather fabulous to just swap pattern, like turn the last two stripe sections into red blue red… and of course it didn’t work. The best I could do was unravel the last sleeve to get some blue to finish the armhole.

I hope you enjoy this short sleeved baby jumpsuit which I have made for my second nephew, Löwe, who was born 2 weeks ago in Hamburg, Germany, who will hopefully not have outgrown this groovy outfit by the time it arrives there (with airmail, needless to say…). I had no idea that public shaming would have such a profound effect on me, you know, that long list of unfinished projects I published yesterday…DSCN6552 Here we have a young dog hypnotizing his tennis ball – it will surely move and throw itself to be retrieved by a keen dog any moment now?!?!?

New Inspiration

I have been lying low, and since this blog is a MFZ (moan free zone), I have been thinking whilst doing the hoovering this afternoon what positive there is in being so busy like I am right now (and now I surrender to the idea that it will not change) – see, not that I am unhappy with life at all, but the work – knit balance has been totally out of whack since this year kicked off. I came out of my little reflection thinking that if this is my only problem, then I am doing really well.

What is really positive about being so busy is that I get a nice paycheck, have lovely colleagues, interesting and stimulating work that I am largely in charge of and that I am being very organized fitting all manner of things into a tight schedule. Another really good thing is that everybody around me is picking up tasks that I am too busy to do… the kids are very much pulling their weight with chores and dog walking. So – what problem???
DSCN5881This arrived in the post this week – lovely yarns from Zigo Zago… and I guess that’s when it hit me that I have not knitted anything for myself in ages, even though this year was going to be all about me in the knitting department. And all I wanted to do is take to my bed for 3 weeks and knit something amazing for myself. But there are projects in the cue…

As I tidied the house, I thought that meeting my frustration head on would help coping. So I got all my yarns that I have accumulated (against all good intentions) over the last year in a vacuum bag – to look at, to acknowledge that they will really just be on hold until further notice (until I have finished my current 3 projects).DSCN5886 Not bad, eh? From left to right, let me introduce you: Merino yarn from Zigo Zago, I am dying to make a Twin Set (yesss!!!) or a lovely longish tunic, then gorgeous Shetland yarns for a wonderful Fair Isle jumper, then cream and dark brown yarn I bought in Tasmania, then bright red for a nice something or other and a lovely charcoal for another something or other… And then look at this, I sucked the air out of the bag to keep the yarns nice and clean and moth free!DSCN5887 I also thought I should put a photo of ‘the other’ baby jump suit on this post, just to realize that even though I have not been able to dedicate as much time to knitting as I would have loved lately, I am still getting somewhere, if but slowly… this one is of the stripy variety, and it is actually great to do another one to really check the pattern details!DSCN5888 And then I just got on with it. Knittathon galore. I watched 3 movies straight: one with my daughters, one with my son, one on my own – and the Bull Jumpers’ intarsia is just about done, I cannot believe it myself! What was all that agro about?!?!?! Another thing I have done over the last few months, being short of time, I have relocated the shed into a wonderful trunk that serves as a coffee table in our lounge room. It has all I need, right there, no need to even leave the armchair (once I am in it…), tough I will need to lift the wine glass for access…DSCN5885DSCN5884Uh, with all this under my belt for achievements on a Friday night, I am ready to take on house hunting, basketball matches, weekly food shopping, soccer trials and the rest of it for the weekend. No worries.