We’re off to see the Wizzard…

A quick post is better than no post – eh?

Patrick has only just unpacked his and Jo’s hiking gear after (what sounds) an amazing hike to Pantoni’s Crown… and I have started to set out all our ski stuff on the newly refurbished dining table – I don’t think we have had a single dinner on it yet!!! We will be skiing and snow boarding in Thredbo for 3 days. DSCN8252

I don’t think the kids will remember the terrain, so it will be interesting how we will manage to coordinate…    And here is an update on the cardigan hoot hoot:

I have finished front and back, grafted the shoulders, added the shawl collar and knitted a 3 sts i-cord all around! Looks very neat, I dare say. Not sure if I have got time to rummage through the button box before we leave. And I have made a go of the sleeve heads… sigh… I have tried and tried – my calculations for the pattern is spot on, I found as I knitted at at least twice – BUT the short rows are not pretty because it’s the purl side of the stocking stitch that will feature as the right side! So I have tried Wrap and Twist, Japanese and German short rows, and now I have devised my own and it seems to look pretty… (mental note to myself: take pictures of this new short row technique!)

DSCN8249DSCN8250DSCN8253Other news: we are all set for term 3 (I hope…). We bought Lena’s school uniform yesterday and she looked splendid in it! Today was her first day at school and she set off with Esther to the bus in the early dark and rainy hours of the morning. I am looking forward to hearing about her experiences! In the meantime I went back to work (yes, I could find my office and work the computer), but on the way home, I did stop off at the supermarket for MORE food and MORE exercise books… We love being a big family. The entire dynamic has changed, it’s all fun and games, even though there have been some stomach bugs and skin hives running through the family… all part and parcel…

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!

Knitted in one piece: set in fitted sleeves, knitted from the top

So turned to my Pinterest knitting board and found this:

Knit......

This is lovely, just what I am looking for. I don’t know who designed this garment – I would very much like to give them credit… Classic, beautifully shaped, timeless… male, beautiful simplicity with a twist. I love the broad shoulders flowing into a well fitting upper body and the well fitted sleeve heads.

What is great about this design is that it allows me to try out Barbara Walker’s top down fitted sleeves – knitted all in one, her method has intrigued me for some time. This is how it works – have a look at the picture before you read on. The red bits are the yarn ends I used for the invisible cast on. I leave them in for now, as reference to indicate where  my ‘shoulder’ is.top down fitted sleeves - yoke

  1. cast on (invisible cast on) first shoulder (left), work short rows to shape the shoulder and at the same time, increase stitches for the roundness of the neck, cast on remaining neck stitches, cut yarn
  2. cast on (invisible cast on) second shoulder (right), work short rows and increase stitches for the roundness of the neck, work all neck stitches (across to the left shoulder) and start working the entire back piece, completing all short rows and work about 6 cm.
  3. pick up stitches at the right shoulder, work short rows and increase stitches for the front neck, work about 6 cm
  4. pick up st at left shoulder, work short rows and increase st for neck, work about 6 cm
  5. THEN wow, here it comes, the exiting bit: start at the left front neck (RS) and knit across to the right front piece to the armhole, then pick up stitches for the sleeve head  (through 2 out of 3 rows), knit across the back, pick up stitches across the right armhole, knit across the right front.
  6. Then merrily knit back and forth… increase at the front neck and at the armholes to shape the set in sleeve.

So far so good… that’s how far I have made it. I have learned a lot (and unraveled the lot already twice), but I think I am on to a winner.

This version of top down jumper appears in Barbara Walker’s book Knitting from the Top as a mere variation in her chapter about seamless set-in sleeves where she explains two ways of knitting set in sleeves from the top:

(1) body – first method: here, the sleeveless sweater is worked first, and the sleeves are set in by picking up stitches around the armhole later

(2) sleeve-first method: here, front and back of sweater are worked up to the underarm (more or less what I have described I have done, but here the jumper is knitted all the way to the underarm, not just 6 cm), then the underarm stitches are cast on to a separate needle (all stitches required for a seamless sleeve, or 2 x ½ the stitches required for a seamed sleeve), then all the remaining sleeve stitches are picked up around the armhole edge and the sleeve cap stitches are worked in short rows. Finally, the underarm stitches are worked and the sleeve is completed. Only then, the underarm stitches are picked up (increases mirroring the amount picked up for the sleeve at the underarm) to complete the body.

Here is a close up of one shoulder.

In addition to following Barbara Walker’s instructions to the dot, I have added a wee twist, too! As you can see here, I have decreased stitches at the armhole (5 in total on each shoulder, over 40 or so rows) to create a fitted sleeve that sits in a broad shouldered garment. In fact, my armhole resembles very much the shape of an armhole in a tailored suit jacket. Fingers crossed that it will work!right shoulder front and back

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.

DSCN6571

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!

Cliffhanger Knitting

You all know the feeling – ‘who dunnit?’, ‘what next?’, ‘how on earth?’, ‘can’t wait to see how this will have a happy ending?’. That’s about summing up what this project has been about…

I have started such a project last Saturday. Since I am really keen to explore sleeve heads, once and for all I want to understand the rationale behind a well fitting and nicely knitted top down sleeve head AND I want to explore all of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s patterns  in which she just gives the idea and the principles (and percentages!) to work it out for yourself – her Kangaroo-Pouch Sweater (it’s in her book Knitting without Tears) had been on my list of ‘must knits’ for some time. Added to that – I have accumulated a number of leftover yarns from all my Bendigo Woollen Mills projects, all 8 ply and somehow the colors work together well.

DSCN6565Knitting the hem was an adventure in itself, look at this. As I knitted during Esther’s soccer game, all the mums were wondering why I had knitted the name and date on the inside of the hem… I wonder now myself, this is a great feature to include in a future project (to leave it on the outside!).DSCN6567

For the lining of the hem, I chose a slightly thinner yarn, so it wouldn’t be such a thick hem, and I also chose 1/2 needle size smaller for this section. I worked the lining of the hem back and forth, so I could knit the name and date in. After the name section was completed, I skipped one return (purl) row and knitted it, to achieve the ‘ridge’ for the turn. Then I changed to my actual needle size and started working the body in the round until I completed as many rows as the hem lining was deep. (This might have been a row or so more than the hem lining, since that was knitted in a thinner yarn and a thinner needle, remember?) In the following row, I picked up every second cast on stitch from the hem and knitted it together with every second stitch of that row – bingo!

And the best is yet to come (working the shoulders, steeking the armhole, knitting the sleeve heads and the collar)! Talk about ‘adrenalin rush knitting’!

Proudly Presenting: My Red Rag

Before presenting (proudly presenting… ) my new design, I must give a thanks to every blogger who has shared their designs and ideas on the www. Many thanks!
Not that I don’t want to share my stuff – I didn’t even realize that I had lot’s to share… until I randomly checked my stats the other day and saw people had searched for ‘free intarsia chart for Chicago Bull’ or ‘point of knitted V-neck’ and the like! Oh no, I am so sorry!!! Usually I intend to put details of what I have done up in the post… just as I intend to write up every pattern I knit… and grade it… and make it available in different gauges… but I always run out of time or get stuck into the next project. So, how about you tell me if you want to know something – I’ll reply asap!

And now … ta ta tat taaaaaaa… The Red Rag:DSCN6321

This has taken me some time – not the actual knitting of the Red Rag – allowing myself to finish this (stopping myself from unraveling it over and over, in the search of perfection). The sleeve heads were knitted probably 5 times, the collar at least twice… all new territory for me, a steep learning curve.DSCN6302
Here are the technical bits:
pattern source: Textileshed!
size 38″
yarn: 550gr Bendigo Woollen Mills “Duet” (30% Mohair, 70% Wool), shade 149 “Wildberry”
gauge: 20st/ 26 rows on 3.5mm
method: The body was knitted bottom up, casting on first the entire hem and knitting 6 rows in garter st, then using short rows, I shaped the scalloped hem. The waist and bust are shaped by decreasing/ increasing stitches at the side seam, as well as within the front and back piece. The sleeves are set in, knitted from the top. The front edges and the collar stand are knitted in garter stitch (I had 3 circular needles in operation at the same time to do this, thus I achieved mitered corners where collar stand and front edges converge); the buttonholes on the right front are worked plainly as yo; kn2tog. The collar has got very sharp points – see details below.

Knitty Gritty Bits:
Collar: Here are some close-ups for the collar. I started by knitting a collar stand (6 rows in garter st) as I knitted the front edges. You cannot see the collar stand here in the finished garment at all, but you can see it in the picture with the knitting needles in it.DSCN6304
DSCN6303

DSCN6272The collar’s right side is the body’s wrong side, as the collar is folded on itself! The photo above illustrates the existence of the collar stand fairly well, eh? Here are approximate instructions:

  1. Knit 6 rows in garter st (collar stand) as you knit the front edges
  2. cast off 3 st of the collar stand (as you cast off the front edges)
  3. put the next 4 st on hold to be picked up as you knit the edge of the collar in garter st later.
  4. increase 11 stitches for the collar (after finishing the collar stand), 5 st at the back neck, and 3 st at each front neck in order to make it big enough to fold nicely on itself
  5. knit 15 rows of garter st, increasing 1st each side – after the first and  before the last st (row 3, 7, 11, 15)
  6.  pick up 12 st alongside both short edges of the collar with dp needles and knit 6 rows in garter st along all three edges of the collar. In these 6 rows you need to (1) incorporate the 4 st on each side that were put on hold and (2) work the mitre/ point of the collar.
    (1) In rows 2, 3, 5, and in the cast off row one st of the ones on hold are pulled over the first and last st of the row before working that first/ last stitch.
    (2) Collar point: chose one st at corner to be knitted in stocking st, to form a clear ‘mitre’, either side of that stitch increase one st in row 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.

Sleeve heads:DSCN6316 knitted from the top down. I picked up as many stitches as were required for the size of the armhole, then decreased enough stitches so I got the amount needed for the top of the sleeve in row 2, knitted row 3 plain and then knitted the sleeve head with short rows. But actually – this is not too bad…
I am not going to give instructions here… since I think there is room for improvement to how I have ended up knitting them on the Red Rag… but this is what I have learned: There are 3 successful ways of knitting fitted sleeves from the top down.

  1. Pick up stitches around the armhole before you shape the sleeve head with short rows. You have to pick up the amount of st that you will need at the widest part of the sleeve, so think carefully about the sleeve width, the armhole depth and the sleeve head height. (This is an entire blog post…!) This is brilliantly explained on http://www.basixknitting.com/, and may I also add, Sue took the time to give me an incredibly detailed explanation when I contacted her with my queries. Unfortunately, I had knitted the sleeve heads ‘my way’ one time too many… and decided to leave it all. But next time, I will follow her advice to the dot!
  2. Pick up stitches as you knit your sleeve heads with short rows – personally I would advise against this, unless you clearly mark at what point you pick up the st as you go…
  3. knit your sleeve heads as you knit your front and back pieces top down… that means you start on your shoulders (front and back), then as you work further down and work your neckline, you also add sts as required to shape the sleeve head – this was ‘invented’/ published by Barbara Walker and I have ordered her book on Amazon – this would be the most sophisticated way ever… and I really want to learn this.