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

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’!

Emergency Knits

We have been happily living through the school holidays and all of a sudden I have come to the realization that ‘the little one’ is going on a two night school excursion to Canberra in a few days time! Uh, that came ’round fast! Quick, cast on some fingerless gloves!!!

DSCN6553I used some ‘hand me down, leftover yarns’ inherited from Sue. One glove was cast on before the little one had a general anesthetic to get her tooth removed on Friday afternoon, and by the time she came round I was nearly ready to cast off. The other glove was cast on before her soccer game on Sunday, and as the whistle blew at the end of the match only the thumb was left to be knit.

So, these gloves are great gifts for special people – and why not make a pair for yourself? This is how to do it:
This free pattern is for medium sized fingerless gloves, so that is an average ladies’ size.

You need 5mm dpn and 60 gr of 8ply yarn.
My gauge worked out to be 17st to 10cm worked in stocking stitch (knitted tightly!)

Cast on 28st on 5mm dpns
work 20 rows in a 1:1 rib
work 4 rows in stocking stitch
Thumb gusset:
continue to work stocking stitch for another 17 rows:
M1 in row 1, M1 either side of that new stitch in row 4 and continue to M1 either side on the new stitches every 3rd row (row 7, 10, 13, 16) until the gusset has got 11 stitches. Put stitches on hold after row 17.
Knit 10 rows in stocking stitch.
Knit 5 rows in 1:1 rib.
Cast off all stitches (I sewed the stitches off, June Hemmons Hiatt calls it “garter stitch cast off”, but you can use any old method…)
Pick up the 11 thumb stitches and pick up 3 new stitches: insert needle in the stitches one row below where the gusset begins/ ends and M1 between the gusset stitches.
Row 1: decrease 2 st of the 3 new st: slip1, knit 2 tog, pass slipped stitch over
Knit a total of 5 rows in stocking stitch, 3 rows of 1:1 rib.
Weave in your yarn ends!

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

Möbius – take THREE

Have a quick look before I unravel it for the 2nd time and cast on for the 3rd. I may have to drink more Flensburger to make it work. This is going to be a German Double Fabric Möbius… my aunt kindly bought the yarn in a lovely shop in a small town near her holiday cottage – I would have never picked such daring colors for myself!

The first day in Berlin went swimmingly – boy it was pouring down with rain!

We got up and thought – nice day for a sightseeing tour by bike! And then it started to drizzle and we thought, hm, let’s go to the internet cafe until this is over. And then it started to pour down like …. and we thought, hhhmmmm, let’s get umbrellas and mount a bus hop on hop off type sightseeing tour. And we did.

But let me first show your our top appartment in Charlottenburg.

And then a photo of Vincent enjoying his first curry wurst. We hopped off the bus as the rain cleared and walked through the amazing Holocaust memorial and the museum situated underneath.

We had a nice siesta at home and when we got second wind, we got on the Underground and went back to Kreuzberg to see the Topography of Terror exhibition. I read that it is best to go at night to avoid the crowds, and since it is still light until 10 pm… no dramas! Enough history, enough sad history and gutwrenching images for one day, but really pleased how interested Vincent is and how he takes it all in.

Linenstitch scarf

I have been united with my lost knitting! The scarf is finished now, but I have not kept up with photography… so here is a picture of it in process.

There is no big deal to this – cast on 121 st on a 6mm circular needle – you obviously don’t knit in the round, just use the circular needle for length. Row 1: kn1; sl1 wyif; kn1; sl1 wyif; and so on Row 2 and every even row: purl; row 3: kn2; sl 1 wyif; k1; sl1 wyif; and so on. Repeat rows 1 – 4 until you run out of yarn and cast off. Well, cast off just before you run out of yarn!

I used 150 gr of Noro (45% Silk45% Kid Mohair 10% Lamb’s wool); Color 47