Thank God SOMETHING works well!

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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.

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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.

A perfect location for the Shellseeker

I have been working on Heidi Kirrmaier’s Shellseeker (call this part of my pattern writing research…) and now that I am in the final throws of knitting the sleeves, I had the longing to smell the sea! Nobody wanted to come with me to one of our lovely surf beaches… so this is where we ended up, for more than one reason…

Call it serenity…DSCN6513DSCN6515

Call it safe…DSCN6517DSCN6522

Call it heavenly for dogs… who were not sure which part of the beach they were allowed to roam off-leash and had fun trying to score some of the fishermen’s bait…DSCN6521

But let’s look at my Shellseeker… here it is. It is such a wonderful classic shape! DSCN6526

I have performed a few changes: first of all, I used different yarn, some lovely natural stuff I bought in Tasmania in January. I had 450gr of light, 250 gr of dark – and thus I changed the stripe pattern (it is supposed to be 2 rows light, 2 rows dark – I have 4 rows light, 2 rows dark). I added a rib at the neck and at the edge of the pocket, I felt that gives it a bit more of a finished look. I also used a stripy rib (k2 dark, p2 light) – so the interplay of different stripes adds another dimension to the jumper. Finally, I shaped the waist, though I am a tomboy who lives is jeans and doc martins throughout the year… I start to discover a feeble feminine side in my personality and thought this may help to bring it out.
As part of my serious research into knitting set- in top down sleeves I had ordered Barbara Walker’s ‘Knitting from the Top’ which now has arrived.DSCN6527

Oh what a wonderful book! Just like Elizabeth Zimmermann and Maggie Righetti – she talks about principles, proportions and relations, it all makes sense to me. Now what?
Well, I have started something very feminine for myself – I firmly believe of starting a new project before finishing and existing one… Why? Well, because that gives me time to carefully swatch, plan, design a new project. If I wait until the old one is finished, I am too tempted to rush to get something new on the needles.

Here is a sneaky preview, this is a Japanese adventure which warrants a lot more explanation another day…DSCN6285DSCN6287

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?

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(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…

Nearly there!

DSCN5890I am proud to say that ‘I am nearly there!’. Friday evening I picked up the pieces… started on the picture, then put both sleeves, front and back on one big needle and began to knit the yoke (gazillion stitches per row!). And now the picture is finished (a lot of movies got watched…) and I am on the home straight. What a feeling. Isn’t this long, this jumper? But so is my nephew.DSCN5893Sewing all the ends in will take some time. Here you see how I sew them in with intarsia: It is important to loop the ends around one another, so there is no gap between the two colours.DSCN5891 In this picture below you can see how yarn ends are looped when there is no other yarn end to twist them around – my finger points to a red loop that was carried up, so I make a knot around it. Most yarn ends really ‘tell’ you what to do with them, see the two below my finger, they ‘want to go’ towards the right in order to avoid wholes in the picture.DSCN5894

When I sew in the ends, I make sure I don’t just weave them into one row of stitches, I find that makes the ends more visible from the right side of the garment. I alternate between stitches from two rows (up and down and up and…), as you can see above.

On a different matter, for weeks now, I have been baking new cakes, cakes I have never baked before! Three weekends ago we had semolina peach cake, for Jo’s birthday a checkerboard cake, then a apple pie with a yeast base and this weekend (this is what is left of the lot, I made double recipe!): Lamingtons! DSCN5895I sure am no food photographer, but these were just beautiful!