Archive for the ‘sweaters’ Category

My albatross

This cardigan has plagued my knitting basket for such a long time (since October 2007) that I know not what to say about its completion. Good riddance, perhaps!

Finally finished

I cast on while studying microbiology, and it immediately became clear that this pattern would never be a good study companion. The 12-row pattern repeat is simple – dull, even; however, it is just complicated enough to command attention. Since I almost exclusively knit while doing other things, the Katharine Hepburn Cardigan languished 18 months before I finally finished it. 

Not a bad product, but a miserable project

In fact, I would say that I only finished it out of spite. The color is beautiful, but it really is not for me. I am not even so sure the style is right. This might have to stew in the cedar chest until I forget my complaints with it.

 

Katharine Hepburn Cardigan

Pattern: Katharine Hepburn Cardigan by Kathy Zimmerman from Lace Style

Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport in “Chuckberry”

Needles: US 3 and US 5

The only modifications I made were to lengthen the body a little,  knit the sleeves to full length, and reshape the sleeve cap a little bit.

Refitted set-in sleeves

Although the knitting proved miserable, the pattern itself was very clear, well written, and accurate. The faults are entirely my own, not the designer’s. I should have known better than to jump into this one. Lesson learned the hard way. 

Set-in Sleeve Calculator

A lace pullover for spring

Although raglan and yoke constructions (and even Elizabeth Zimmermann’s set-in model) are seamless, I regrettfully find them ill-fitting on my body. Like it or not, traditional set-in sleeves just fit me better. However, calculating the armhole and sleeve cap shape is time consuming and rather unwieldy for patterns with multiple sizes. This winter, I designed several garments for publication with set-in sleeves. I created an Excel spreadsheet to calculate the armscye measurement, the perimeter of the armhole. Still, the spreadsheet required tinkering here and there and was not a very good solution. When I explained my frustration to Aaron, he decided there had to be a better way. Using Jenna Wilson’s (girl from auntie) impeccably thorough armscye tutorial in Knitty as a guide,  he wrote a web application that would take in the necessary information regarding gauge and armhole shaping to produce meaningful information about sleeve cap shaping. 

The application can be found for free here.

armscye

It may seem complicated at first, but I think his Help! pop-ups explain the inputs pretty well. Here are some sample inputs, taken from the lace pullover shown above. 

armscye_filled-in

By leaving the final output as the number of decreases and the number of rows remaining before the cap bind-off(s), the calculator provides the designer with enough freedom to play around with the curve of the sleeve by varying the rate of decreases. 

Set-in sleeve detail

I relied heavily upon Aaron’s calculator for this simple lace pullover. Although the body largely came to life during a fit of insomnia, the sleeves dragged on interminably in part because I ran out of yarn and needed to alternate between multiple skeins to hide the variation between dyelots. The yarn is yet more stash leftover from my Ivy League Vest, which called for far more yarn than was actually needed. 

Back view

Pattern: The vine lace stitch pattern is an easy 4-row repeat from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns; the sleeve calculations came from Aaron’s armscye calculator 

Yarn: Harrisville Designs New England Shetland

Needles: US 8 (5.0 mm)

Side view

Since this was another stashbusting project, I’d say it was almost free! One thing is for sure: because I used a light sport weight (fingering, really) yarn on US 8 needles, the project required minimal yardage – only 570 yds for a finished bust of 36″ with 3/4-length sleeves!

 Set-in sleeve detail

This is the fifth garment I’ve knit using the calculator and every single sleeve cap has fit into its corresponding armhole flawlessly. Here are a few examples of the other garments:

Armhole details, using Aaron's armscye calculator

I hope others will find the calculator equally useful. 

Vine Lace Pullover

Perhaps it’s time to give set-in sleeves another go?

Relaxing Vine Lace

As other, more important project deadlines mounted a few weeks ago, I decided to cast on for some mindless knitting to help calm my nerves during a bought of insomnia. Some might find this a waste of already precious time; you know better, don’t you? 

 Swatching a spring project

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing quite like an easily memorized, repetitive pattern to cure insomnia.** Consequently, the body of this pullover knitted up in lightning speed; however, the sleeves languish partially finished as their master has recently rediscovered the merits of sleep.  

OK, maybe I'm at the armholes. Maybe.

The yarn is Harrisville Designs Shetland (in White), leftover from my Ivy League Vest last winter. The lace pattern is a 4-row repeat from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns

Lace project

This is destined to become a scoopneck tunic with no waist shaping and as little sleeve shaping as possible, mostly because the combination of shaping and lace renders this no longer mindless. Perhaps that is a better reason for why the sleeves remain unknitted?

**Except when it doesn’t, and the knitter is forced – forced! - to stay up late to knit obsessively on a project about which she cares nothing. Ahem.

Pod of Cetaceans Cardigan

Pod of Cetaceans Cardigan, button band

Pod of Cetaceans Cardigan

Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1980s, I have many memories of nautical themed sweaters, with boats, anchors, captain’s wheels, or whales forming the yoke. With these sweaters came Nantucket jewelry baskets, alligator polos (collars flipped up, of course), plaid pants, embroidered pants, and any other garment with the shape of the Cape Cod arm littered gratuitously about.

This cardigan was inspired by a pullover my mother started for me and finished several years later for my brother, if I am not mistaken. I thought it might be a fun design to revive. Since winter is almost over and I will soon be packing away her size 2 winter clothes, I knit Beatrix the size 3-4 yr for next year. The garment is knit from the bottom up in the round and then steeked open. Those unfamiliar with crochet steeks are encouraged to read Eunny Jang’s definitive steeking tutorial before proceeding. Only feltable wools with plenty of grip should be used for steeking purposes. Neither superwash wools nor plant or synthetic fibers will hold. Although it would be easy to modify the pattern to work back and forth without steeking, the instructions are written for construction in the round.

Note of caution: Any knitter who chooses to abuse this pattern by making matching whale sweaters for the family Christmas card should be flogged, or at the very least have his/her knitting needles confiscated.

This pattern is available as a Ravelry download for $5.00.

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Difficulty: Advanced

Skills used: knitting in the round, increasing/decreasing, reading a chart, stranded knitting, steeking, picking up stitches, hand sewing facings, and optional duplicate stitching

Sizes:

0-3 mos (6-9 mos, 12-18 mos, 2 yr, 3-4 yr, 5-6 yr)

Finished Measurements:

Pod of Cetaceans, finished measurements

Gauge:

17 stitches and 24 rows = 4” in stockinette on US 7 (4.5 mm) needles

20 stitches and 25 rows = 4” in stranded pattern on US 7 (4.5 mm) needles

Note: Swatching the stranded pattern in the round is imperative. I chose to cast on 36 stitches for three whale pattern repeats plus 7 stockinette stitches for a steek. In addition to checking gauge, this extra swatching will provide a valuable opportunity to practice steeking.

Shoulder yoke

Front yoke

Pod of Cetaceans Cardigan, back yoke

Yarn:

Harrisville Designs New England Highland (100% wool; 200 yd [183 m]; 100 g [3.53 oz]): 1(2, 2, 2, 3, 3) skeins #33 Midnight Blue, 1 (1, 1, 1, 1, 1) skein #44 white, 1 (1, 1, 1, 1, 1) skein #7 Tundra.

Needles:

US 7 (4.5mm) circular (length appropriate for size) and set of DPNs

US 6 (4.0 mm) circular needle (length appropriate for size) and set of DPNs

Materials:

Crochet hook, any size between 3.25 -4.0 mm will do

Wool waste yarn in contrasting color (not superwash wool or any plant fiber)

tapestry needle

5 (5, 7, 7, 9, 9) 3/4″ buttons

Working the little hair she has...

Shown here with optional duplicate stitched water spouts over each whale:

Pod of Cetaceans Cardigan, optional whale spouts

The steeked facings are tacked down with a simple blanket stitch.

Pod of Cetaceans, facings

Finishing

New stripey sweater

My thrumming adventure has been partially interrupted by a striped, stashbusting sweater for Beatrix that I started over a month ago. I decided to pair up some Knit Picks Merino Style with the Debbie Bliss Merino Aran that Nova sent me last year to make a toddler cardigan. Sadly, I had to set this aside for a few weeks because I ran out of yarn – both colors, in fact (yes, that was great planning). Unfortunately, I only needed a few yards of each new skein so you will likely see these colors again soon in some hat or another.

"stwipey sweatah", complete with cwazy hair

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Seamless Yoke Sweater from Knitting Without Tears

Yarn: Knit Picks Merino Style in Hollyberry and Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in #06

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)

New stripey sweater

I regret that the severe yoke decreases show in spite of my careful blocking. I used three evenly spaced decreases to form the yoke and if I were to do it again, I would probably place four less aggressive decrease rows in there. Also, I skipped the back neck shaping and ended with a 2×2 rib collar. The knitting was terrifically mindless, the yarn was soft and I feel certain Beatrix will outgrow this far too soon for it to pill. I would neither recommend KP Merino Style nor DB Merino Aran for any project one expected to last, however. These are soft and fuzzy yarns, categorically not durable ones. Still, I am happy with the results.

Stashbusting sweater, done

Its initial reception was not good, unfortunately. Beatrix maintained, “I don’t wike stwipes!” Fortunately, a two-year-old’s preferences seem to change as quickly as her moods and this morning, she deemed it acceptable attire.

Returning to the thrumming activities, I happily report the mittens are done!

The last of the thrumming

And what a lot I have to say about them. I decided to go overboard on these to create the most densely packed, tightly knit, wind-proof mitten ever.

This is what 600 thrums looks like

Contrasted against the Yarn Forward mittens I made for Aaron last winter, these mittens pack an incredible amount of sheep. I made the 2008 pair with Lamb’s Pride Worsted on US 6 (4.0 mm) needles and each mitten contained 161 thrums. Of course I counted, you wouldn’t have? My only complaint about them is that the wind cuts through them on the coldest days. Consequently, I knit the 2009 pair with Ram Wools Selkirk on US 2.5 (3.0 mm) needles and nearly doubled the number of thrums. Each mitten contains exactly 300 thrums. I hope they will be sturdy enough to protect my aunt Therese from the bitter cold of watching early morning ice hockey practices and games.

Sheep explosion

Yarn: Ram Wools Selkirk with who knows how many ounces of Blue-faced Leicester

Needles: US 2.5 (3.0 mm)

For the cuff, I cast on 32 sts, worked 3” in 1×1 rib. I increased to 42 stitches, thrummed every three stitches, every fourth row. After a few rows of thrums, I added one pattern repeat below the thumb to make a little more room. There are 252 thrums in the mitten body and 48 thrums in the 24-stitch thumb. I worked three K1, K2tog decrease rows at the mitten top and one at the thumb top.

Now with twice the thrums!

The sheer volume of material stuffed inside is astounding to me. You can see the contrast with the old pair. On the whole, I cannot say thrummed mittens wear well. As you can see, Aaron’s pair (oh, who are we kidding? they’re really mine) is in dire need of a shave. They pill and fuzz all over everything. They also grow with time, as the wool inside packs down.

Last year's mittens, for comparison

I cannot so much as turn a door handle wearing thrummed mittens, much less wrangle a toddler. However, I do not fear for my extremities when it’s -10 degrees during my 5:30 a.m. runs. That’s really all that matters, right? Therese will only be able to wave and clap with her new mittens but isn’t that all one needs to do at a hockey game?

Mitten torpedoes