Technique

Inserting a Zipper

The zipper I ordered from Zipper Source arrived and I hurried to sew it into my Glory Days jacket so that I might be able to wear it before the summer heat hits.
I ordered a #5 Molded Plastic But-To-Length 18″ zipper, medium length with an open end and autolock tab in Bordeaux.

I took photos as I inserted the zipper (I apologize for their poor quality) to demonstrate how easy it is to add a zipper to handknits.
First, pin the zipper in place. I pinned it so that the I-cord edging met along the zipper teeth.

Next, use a contrasting yarn to baste each side, removing pins as you go. The turquoise thread I used looks white in this photo.

Here’s how the basted zipper looks from the wrong size.

Next, use small stitches with coordinating thread to sew the edges of the zipper tape to the wrong side of the garment.

Finally, work backstitches with coordinating thread to sew the right side of the garment close to the zipper teeth. You can hardly see the needle in this photo. I’m following a column of stitches along the garment side of the I-cord edging.

Remove the basting and you’re done! My backstitches didn’t follow a very straight line, but they hold the zipper firmly in place.

I’ll soaked the jacket again to block the collar and set the zipper stitches, and it will be ready to wear!

Weekday Raglan: Choosing a Size

After my washed, blocked, and dried swatch hung with weights for a day, the gauge measures 27 stitches and 39 rounds = 4″.

That translates to 6.75 stitches and 9.75 rounds = 1″.

The gauge for the sweater is listed at 6 sts/inch (page 93 of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters). I like the density of my swatch and wouldn’t want to change to larger needles (and a looser fabric) to match that in the pattern. Instead, I want to see if I can follow the instructions for a larger size and end up with the size I want.

I’d like a bust circumference of 40″, which means I need 40″ x 6.75 sts/in = 270 stitches just below the armhole. The total number of body stitches are given on page 96, at the end of the heading “Divide for Body and Sleeves. The largest size has 276 stitches, which would translate to a bust circumference of 40.9″ at my gauge. The second-to-largest size has 252 stitches, which would translate to a bust circumference of 37.3″. Neither of these is exactly what I want, but the largest size is closest.

I’ve decided to follow the instructions for the largest size for all stitch counts, but because I’d rather err on the smaller size, I think I’ll omit the last raglan increase so that I’ll end up with 268 stitches for the body. That will give a bust circumference of 39.7”.

I’ll count rows rather than simply measure vertical distances to make sure that the lengths will reflect the after-hanging row gauge.

It’s time to cast on!

Weekday Raglan

During the recent snow, I consoled myself by knitting a swatch for the Weekday Raglan (page 92 of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters) that I plan to knit for myself. The sample sweater for the book is much too small for me so I’ll be following instructions for a larger size.

For my version, I’ve chosen Grignasco Champagne (75% extra fine merino, 25% mulberry silk; 165 meters/50 grams) in a soft periwinkle color (#375) knitted on size US 5 (3.75 mm) needles. Because I’ll knit the sweater in rounds, I worked my gauge swatch like a giant I-cord, knitting across the stitches, then sliding them back to the needle tip, bringing the yarn loosely around the back, and knitting the stitches again. In this way, every stitch is knitted on every row, just as when knitting in rounds.
The back of the swatch is a bit of a mess:
But the front shows smooth stockinette in which every row is knitted:
My gauge on the unwashed swatch is 29 stitches and 38 rows = 4″. (The 5 purl stitches near the bottom are there to remind me that I knitted this swatch on size 5 needles.)
After washing and blocking, my gauge changed to 26 stitches and 38 rows = 4″. Don’t ask me how the stitch gauge can vary while the row gauge stays the same.
Because this yarn contains silk, there’s a good chance that it will stretch with wear. Therefore, I’m hanging the swatch and weighting the bottom with binder clips to simulate what might happen after the full-size sweater has been worn a while:
I’ll measure the stitch and row gauge tomorrow to see if there is what’s called a “hang gauge” that might affect the finished size of the sweater.

Another Top-Down Sweater

In the past weeks, I’ve taught several classes on knitting sweaters from the top down with a focus on circular yoke and raglan constructions from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters. I’ve taken a few garments from the book along for inspiration.
I guess it worked, because when I was teaching at Wild Purls in Billings, Montana, I found myself purchasing yarn to make a version of the Weekday Raglan (page 92) for myself. The sample sweater was knitted in a skimpy size 34″, which is fine for models who are paid to pass on chocolate, but which makes me look like a badly stuffed sausage.
I chose Grignasco Champagne (75% extra fine merino, 25% mulberry silk; 165 meters/50 grams) in a soft periwinkle color (#375). I really shouldn’t start swatching this until I finish the saddle-shoulder top-down cardigan, but I probably won’t be able to resist.

 

Second-Sock Syndrome?

In most cases, I cast on and start the second sock as soon as the first is completed. In the case of the socks I’m knitting from Wacky Windmill yarn, I got distracted with other projects. And that’s a shame because I really love the yarn (my photo does not do justice to the rich coppery colorway) as well as the pattern (I’m following the stitch pattern for Seeded Rib Socks on page 88 of Getting Started Knitting Socks — but at 8 stitches/inch instead of 6 stitches/inch). But I’m back on track now and have knitted about half of the leg.

The first sock is for reference — I always count rows to make sure the second sock matches the first. The markers are placed every 20 rounds along the foot, with the last one placed on the row before I begin the toe shaping. I find psychological comfort in placing markers as I go so I can see my progress.

Wacky Windmill Sock

I decided to take break from the sweater and work on a sock.
The yarn is a gift from The Wacky Windmill (TWW Crazy Sock in Find a Penny colorway). I’m following the pattern for the Seeded Rib Socks on page 88 of Getting Started Knitting Socks.
Yes, I am shamelessly using this venue to promote my own book.
I’ve just finished picking up stitches for the gusset and have made four deviations from the printed pattern:
1. Because I’m getting a gauge of about 8 stitches/inch (instead of the 6 stitches/inch specified), I’m following the stitch counts for the second-to-largest size (CO 72 sts) to end up with socks that will be about 8 1/2″ in circumference.
2. I used one size larger needles (3.0 mm) for the cast on and upper half of the leg, then changed to size 2.75 mm needles for the rest of the sock. I placed a marker in the leg on the row where I changed needle sizes.
3. I worked the heel flap in the Reversed Slip 1, Knit 1 pattern (see page 27), in which the yarn is held to the front as every other stitch is slipped. This produces more of a woven texture than the standard thickly ribbed texture.
4: To balance the seeded rib pattern on the heel (and therefore on the instep as well), I worked the first row under the Heel heading by knitting 17 stitches (instead of the 18 instructed). I turned the work, then purled 36 stitches as instructed and worked the rest of the heel as instructed.
Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Do I Feel Stupid

We all do stupid things when knitting and I’m certainly no exception. I thought I’d knit the sleeves before finishing the body so that I could get all of the shaping out of the way. Imagine my dismay when I took the waste yarn out of the saddles and realized that I had attached one in the wrong direction. The live stitches are supposed to be at each armhole edge, but they are at the neck edge on one side!

I didn’t have stitch holders with me when I knitted the saddles so I put the live stitches on lengths of the working yarn. Because I didn’t use contrasting yarn, I didn’t notice that I had one oriented the wrong way when I picked up stitches for the back. I toyed with the idea of just picking up stitches along the cast-on edge of the errant saddle, but that would spoil the continuous line from neck to cuff and it would have been apparent (to me at least) that the stitch pattern changed directions at the join.
Here’s what I can salvage: two saddles, one front, and a few balls of kinky yarn.

Thank goodness I didn’t decide to knit the entire body before the sleeves!

Glory Days — Off to a Good Start

Sometimes the combination of yarn, needles, and stitch pattern come together so beautifully that a garment seems to knit itself. That seems to be the case with the Briar Rose Glory Days yarns, size 5 needles, and textured rib pattern that I’m using for my next sweater.
I’m following the instructions for a saddle-shoulder cardigan in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters (page 187) for a 40″ circumference at 6 stitches to inch.

The textured rib pattern is a multiple of 4 stitches + 1, so instead of working the saddles on 20 stitches as directed for my size/gauge on page 187, I worked each on 21 stitches. To make it easier to pick up stitches along the edges of the saddles later, I knitted the first and last stitch of every row to make garter selvedge stitches:
RS rows: K1 (selvedge st), *k1, sl 1. k2; rep from * to last 4 sts, k1, sl 1, k1, k1 (selvedge st).
WS rows: K1 (selvedge st), *p3, k1; rep from * to last 4 sts, p3, k1 (selvedge st).
To begin the back, I picked up 24 stitches across one saddle, used the knitted method to cast on 41 stitches (instead of the 40 instructed to accommodate the stitch pattern), then picked up 24 stitches across the other saddle. This gave me a total of 89 stitches (instead of 88), which balanced the stitch pattern at the two armhole edges (with right-side facing, both sides have a selvedge stitch followed by a k3 column).
Again, knitting the first and last stitch of every row for garter selvedges, I shaped the shoulders with short-rows (in two increments of 7 stitches as directed, but working 8 stitches in the last increment), then worked straight for 6 1/4″ (indicated by the marker), then started the armhole by increasing one stitch (using the M1 technique) at each end of the needle every right-side row six times, followed by casting on 4 stitches at each side to end with a total of 109 stitches (instead of 108).
I’ve just picked up 24 stitches along the other edge of one saddle to begin working the right front.

Counting Rows

Whenever I teach a class, I can be fairly certain that I will come out learning something myself. This has never been truer than my recent sock class at Wild Purls in Billings, Montana. I was explaining how to count slipped edge stitches along the selvedges of a heel flap when Joyce Fletcher mentioned the method she developed out of desperation.
Unable to convince herself that she could tell the difference between slipped and knitted stitches, Joyce turned to the wrong side of the flap (shown here on a completed sock) hoping that the slipped stitches would be more visible than on the right side. On first inspection, they’re not.

But Joyce took a spare needle and poked around to find that it was pretty easy to slip the needle under the horizontal strand associated with each slipped stitch.

Joyce stumbled on a foolproof method that had the rest of us in awe. There are 8 rows of slipped stitches in the heel flap in this example and I can assure you that they are much easier to count from this perspective. I hope you can make use of Joyce’s trick next time you have to count rows of slipped stitches.

Another Video

I don’t know what possessed me, but I agreed to do a video workshop on cast-ons and bind-offs for Interweave. I’ve spent the last couple of months researching techniques and knitting endless swatches in preparation for the taping last week.

Interweave has a pretty good method to organize the tapings–the materials (in my case, swatches, needles, etc.) are grouped in trays in the order they are to be presented. So that I could keep track of what was what, I did the cast-on swatches in red:

And the bind-off swatches in blue:

We taped more than 30 cast-ons and more than 20 bind-offs, including variations. I don’t think I’ve ever talked so much in a single day!

I believe the video will be available in August, but that probably depends on how much editing needs to be done. Hopefully, there will be something left after all my bloopers have been removed. If you do have cause to watch the video, be kind. I’ll never get used to being in front of a camera (or three!).