Posted in knitting

My Favorite Thing I’ve Made

Yesterday, fellow blogger Karen of Nothing But Knit, put out a challenge. “Write a post about the favorite thing you have made. “

This post is my response.

Tailored Sweater

Those of you who follow me may be a bit surprised at my choice. It looks nothing like the color-filled fiber objects I usually post on my site. This color is a subdued neutral and the style rather conservative. What makes me happy about this sweater is that I chose every aspect of the design. I worked out the pattern details on graph paper and knitted it up.

It turned out exactly as I imagined and fits like a glove.

Schematic and specifications of my design

I can’t say enough about the quality of the Patons DK Superwash yarn. It is soft, but not a merino. Therefore the sweater has not pilled. The yarn has a heathery tone and a beautiful hand when knit. I used a twisted stockinette for the main body which makes a tighter fabric and plays up the variations in tone.

Back view showing pleat and waist shaping

The hem, cuffs and collar feature a cable-style stitch called Repeated Circles from 750 Knitting Stitches – The Ultimate Knit Stitch Bible. The vintage buttons, which I found on Etsy, mirror the oval centers of the cable. Love it!

Another detail that worked out well is the skinny cable at the shoulder edges. The few stitches worked on the outside edge of the cable made a perfect road map for setting in the sleeves.

Well, that’s about all I have to say about this project. Every time I see it in my closet I long for cooler weather, so that I can wear it again.

Posted in knitting

Friday’s Finished Object

After recovering from the shock of UFO discovery, I came up with a plan. I made a promise to myself to finish one each week. At that pace, I will feel like I am dealing with the problem while still allowing plenty of time during the week for creative play. Above you see the first finish: the Northwoods Serape.

I had purchased this self striping yarn for another project, then rejected it as inappropriate. On one of our road trips last year, I brought it along for mindless travel knitting. As you can see, I ended up knitting three basic rectangles: a wide one in garter for the back and two narrower ones in a lace pattern for the front.

All knitting was done from side to side – this gives a vertical line to the stripes. Edges were picked up and knitted in garter stitch from bottom edge to top.

After that the piece languished for months. In a moment of carelessness I gave away all the extra yarn to a student. The finishing bits will have to be added in another yarn.

I thought I would use this blog to show more specifically how I finished up the serape.

First I blocked all the pieces. This is an essential step for any knitted garment larger than a hat, but especially so for lace knitting. Give it a quick dip in soapy water, rinse, wrap in a towel and squeeze out excess water before laying flat and pulling it into shape. I have 12 x 12 interlocking blocks and U-pins for the pulling into shape part. For this garment the finished size ended up 44 inches in diameter and about 30 inches long.

Since I had prudently worked buttonholes into one garter edge, I decided I-cords would make a good closure.

Fingering weight yarn, size 4 needles

You see the tools and materials above. These yarns were odds bits found in my stash. I held two colors together to make nice, fat I-cords. Using short double point needles, cast on three stitches. Knit them. Slide all the stitches to the other end of the needle and knit. Repeat this step until you get the length of cord you need. Mine are ten inches.

The back neck edge looked very ugly, so I decided to use a row of single crochet to finish off the entire neckline. There are lots of resources for learning to crochet, so I won’t go into it here. I will suggest a few things for this particular application. Work from the front of the garment and draw up a loop from right edge of the neckline. Leave about a three inch tail. If you are clever, you can hide this tail while you work the row. I just left it until I finished and then wove it under the first few crochet stitches. Work UNDER the next stitch to the left. It’s important to have both yarns of the stitch you are working over top of your hook. This keeps the crochet row straight and tidy.

Next is the side seams. I used mattress stitch. Align the front and back edges with the right sides of the garment facing you. Thread a tapestry needle with yarn and fasten the end to one edge. When working mattress stitch into garter ridges, you will insert your tapestry needle into the “knotted” looking part of the garter ridge. Work back and forth from edge to edge like this, keeping your stitches loose.

My work here is a bit slip-shod. I knew that my knitted pieces were already quite irregular. Perfect seams won’t improve the end results.

After running the stitch up the seam about three inches, snug the seam closed as thus: Hold the lower end with one hand and pull firmly and smoothly on the working yarn. The seam should close up. As a side benefit, you will find that your sewing yarn is totally invisible.

Continue sewing until you reach the top, then fasten yarn on the wrong side. Cut yarn and weave in ends.

The last step is to sew the I-cords opposite to the button holes and it’s Done!

I have to admit, now that it’s finished I am suddenly in love with the yarn and the garment. By the way, this lace stitch is called seed stitch lace diamonds. I found it in 750 Knitting Stitches: The Ultimate Stitch Bible.

Posted in colorwork, knitting

Hat Alert!

The message came in over the week-end, with a tone of some urgency. It seems that the baby toddler girl had outgrown her hats, and the carefully saved wool hat of #1 grandchild was no where to be found. With the onset of cold weather, there was no time to waste in meeting the need.

The criteria was pretty simple. Earflaps were desired and a cord to tie the hat under the chin. Consulting my stash I found an almost full ball of Cascade 220 Superwash in a pale yellow color. I had purchased this yarn two years ago when I first learned of the baby’s expected arrival. I was excited to try out some stranded patterns using this yarn and various bits and bobs left over from other projects.

First I consulted my knitting stitch dictionary (750 Knitting Stitches – The Ultimate Knitting Bible.) For this project I needed a pattern with a fairly short repeat. I also needed a motif that would fit on the ear flaps.

These two will do nicely. Cosmea will work for the earflaps and Aubrieta can circle the body of the hat. I also liked that the pattern repeat was six stitches. With my gauge of 5.5 stitches, a multiple of six will help me achieve the 18 inch diameter I needed. Here is my chart for the earflap and body, and my calculation for the cast on. I came up with a total of 96 stitches, which is divisible by six.

Ear Flaps done.

After casting on, I completed a modified version of Aubrieta, stopping when the hat body was 4 and 3/4 inches tall from cast on. Next I consulted the pattern I had used ten years ago for grandchild #1’s hat to figure out the crown decrease rate. I added a few rows of dots in the first three rounds of decrease, then completed the rest of the decrease in the solid yellow yarn.

Ear Flap hat in the blocking stage.
All Done.

This was a fun and quick project to make from one’s stash. I was pleased that I could use up some yarn scraps of a beautiful Malibrigo yarn that was left over from my blue ribbon vest.

UPDATE: Hat was received, and put into use quickly. Not only does it cover the ears, it covers the cheeks as well. It’s so big that it will still fit her next winter.

Posted in Uncategorized

Knitting Lace

For many knitters, working lace is like entering the third circle of hell. First of all, there’s the language barrier. What is this strange talk? K2 *(KB1, k1) 2x, k1, p3, k1; rep from * skpo, k2. And that’s just one row! And then there’s the navigation. Where exactly am I on the pattern, and why doesn’t my swatch look like the example? Needless to say, I hired a navigator when I finally decided to learn lace. Eunny Jang teaches Lace Knitting: Basics and Beyond at (now She taught me that working from a chart is the way to go. It’s just like a road map. Yes, there are some symbols you must learn, but the chart gives you an overall picture of how to navigate the design. You can see where you have been and where you are going. I immediately began to chart out every lace stitch in my knitting dictionary. Here is a link to Eunny’s class:

So I am looking for a lace pattern that will complement the Lace Crescent Rib pattern that I swatched yesterday. King Charles Lace seems to be a good candidate. It has about the same number of stitches and is eight rows long. Best of all, it features the same pair of purled stitches bordering the lace center, just like Lace Crescent Rib has. Here is the pattern as it appears in my stitch dictionary:

Here is my hand-drawn chart of the pattern: Notice the ‘legend’ of symbols.

  1. Set up for lace. I used a few edge stitches in garter stitch. Cast on loosely. I used the knitted on method. You could also cast on with a larger needle. Knit 3-4 garter rows at the beginning to keep the swatch from curling. The pattern repeats can be punctuated with markers. This helps you keep straight with the pattern, especially if you are working a large number of repeats.
  2. Middle photo is completed swatch. I gave you 3 pattern repeats. Use a loose cast off, so the lace can stretch. I did knit, knit, knit 2 tog through back loop. Repeat until all stitches are used up.
  3. Completed swatch is its warm soapy bath. Again pull the piece in all directions while it is soaking, so the stitches even out.

I’m pleased with the results. The first image is the blocked King Charles Lace. The second image shows how the two patterns might look on a triangular shawl. Okay, so imagine the KC lace worked up the center back of the shawl, with repetitions of the Lace Crescent Rib running along both sides. It works.