November WIP and queue check

NOTE: If you are interested to enter an Instagram giveaway for a chance to win a pair of árbore·do·fogo handmade earrings, please be sure to read/scroll through to the very bottom of this post.

Wow, I’ve just checked and I haven’t written a WIP post since June. That’s a long time! I almost cannot believe it. Actually – with the exception of the Baya shawl – I haven’t even worked on any of the projects mentioned there. Oh well.

So what I currently have on my needles are:

  1. The “Improvised” top-down sweater. This project was inspired by the knitalong organized by Karen from the Fringe Association blog. I’m ever so grateful for the initiative, as I feel like I’ve learnt so much (and will learn even more) from coming up with a sweater design and trying to knit it all by myself, following Karen’s very well written instructions and tips. For now the project is looking pretty good, and “only” the most boring part, aka. the sleeves are left to finish. I will probably write a last wrap-up post about this sweater once it’s finished.
  2.  Waterlily tee. I’ve mentioned repeatedly on the blog that I’ve been dying to knit some tops I can wear in summer. I missed out on it last year, but I’m determined to be better prepared now. That is why two weeks ago, while we were away in Auckland for a week, I put aside the top-down sweater – except for the time it took to write up the blog post about it – and cast on the Waterlily. The yarn I’m using is the purple cotton and possum blend I had picked up at the factory yarn sale back in May. I had my doubts as to the yarn becoming too fuzzy or being too warm, but it is knitting up as the softest and most wonderful fabric. Also, it is a delight to be knitting the endless rounds of stockinette for the body – a few inches left until I’m supposed to divide for the sleeves and start the lace panel.
  3. Little Wave Cardigan. Those who’ve been following this blog know that after a long long long time of knitting, abandonment and knitting, I’d finished a grey version of this cardigan for Chan. My plan had always been to knit myself one too. We will have to coordinate well to not show up anywhere both dressed in our Little Waves – that would be pretty ridiculous, but I so like this pattern, and since I bought it, it would be silly not to knit another one. While Chan’s was made in grey merino, mine will be a rust coloured alpaca and wool blend. So not that similar after all. I only have the yoke and the shawl collar to go, but since winter is over, this has become less of a priority right now.

Considering the advanced state of all these projects, it looks like once I round them up one after the other, I’ll be in for an FO shower! I can’t wait for that!

Abandoned projects – how shameful it feels to even write this down:

  1. Striated cowl. I started this cowl for several practical reasons, which included using up yarn that was left over from a sweater project, making good use of a pattern I already owned, and, last but not least, to have an easy on the go knitting project that I can carry with me and work on whenever I have a bit of time. By now I managed to realize that I might just frog it and use the yarn for something else. I’ll give it some more thought when I get there.
  2. Knitting basket. No advances on this project either. I’ll definitely have to frog the one I started, and I might try and use the felted yarns I bought at the yarn sale. Those should yield much sturdier containers. Again, this will have to wait at least until we move to our new home hopefully sometime towards the end of this year.

árbore·do·fogo news

In part I decided to conjure up this post quickly at the beginning of the week in order to let the readers of this blog on the Christmas giveaway I’m hosting over at the árbore·do·fogo Instagram account. If you are keen to enter, you get a chance to win a pair of Golden Star earrings – and I will be so envious, as at this rate I don’t think I’ll have the chance to make a pair for myself… 🙂 Good luck if you decide to participate!

giveaway

“Improvised” top-down sweater – Part 2: the “pattern”

I can’t believe that over a month passed since I wrote the previous post on my top-down sweater inspired by the 2016 Fringe and Friends Knitalong! Although I’m still not finished, the developments since then have been slow but steady. At this point, I decided that my sweater is advanced enough that I can attempt to summarize my notes in the form of a “draft pattern”. I thought I’d better do this before too much time goes by and I completely loose track of what I have done – which is a good habit of mine.

Disclaimer: This is merely a “draft pattern” since my sweater is not entirely finished. I might add further changes and/or corrections, but I thought this would be useful for others.

Specs

Yarn: Unknown fingering weight(ish) NZ possum blend

Needles: 4mm for body and 3.5mm for ribbing at neck and sleeve

Stitch pattern: Double Hourglass (see Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, p. 279)

double-hourglass

Charted version of Double Hourglass stitch

Gauge: 22 stitches for 10cm / 4” in both stockinette and stitch pattern using 4mm needles – measured on swatch

Size: I usually wear an EU(Fr) 36 and UK/NZ 8, here I was aiming for a not too fitting but also not extremely roomy cropped sweater of about 40” bust circumference. Currently it seems like I’ve got 38” – unblocked, but that’s fine, as it is fitting well.

Cast on and neck shaping

Cast on: Using 4mm needles, cast on 34 stitches (about 6 inches) for the back neck and 14 stitches (about 3.5 inches) for each shoulder, 1 stitch for the front neck on each side and 2 stitches for each raglan seam. That amounts to 72 stitches in total, distributed like this:

1 – stitch marker (SM)- 2 – SM – 14 – SM – 2 – SM – 34 – SM – 2 – SM – 14 – SM – 2 – SM – 1

NOTE: Following Karen’s (Fringe) tip and adding seams to seamless sweaters, I increased one stitch – using the bar increase – between each pair of raglan seam stitches to add a basting stitch (see bottom of this post) on the first row (WS).

Row 1 (WS): p1 (front neck), slip marker, p1 m1 p1, slip marker, p14, slip marker, p1 m1 p1, slip marker, knit the first row of the double hourglass pattern over 34 stitches*, p1 m1 p1, slip marker, p14, slip marker, p1 m1 p1, slip marker, p1

*To make my job easier at getting the stitch pattern nicely centred both at the front and the back of the sweater, I charted out the increases for the neck shaping section. For the back section, you can ignore the colour marks, more is said about those and about knitting the front neck below.

top-down-pattern

Neck shaping: Up until joining the piece to knit in the round, I increased one stitch on every RS row at the front neck on each side (except for first RS row – see below) as well as on each side of the front and back of the body next to the raglan seam. I increased the number of sleeve stitches on each edge of the sleeves by the raglan seam on every fourth row counting after the first RS row. In other words, after Row2 (first RS row) neck and body increases are done on every second row, and sleeve increases are made on every fourth row. 

Row 2 (RS): k1 M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, knit across sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, knit second row of chart for back panel, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, knit across sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L k1.

Row 3 (WS): knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches

Row 4 (RS)/Body increase row: k1 M1L, follow chart for remainder of front neck ending with M1R*, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, knit across left sleeve stitches, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L follow chart for back, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, knit across right sleeve stitches, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L and follow chart for right front neck until the stitch before the stitch marked in blue, M1R k1.

Row 5 (WS): knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

Row 6 (RS)/Body and sleeve increase row: k1 M1L, follow chart for remainder of front neck ending with M1R*, k1 p1 k1, slip marker M1L, knit across left sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, continue in stitch pattern for the back, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, knit across right sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L and follow chart for right front neck until the stitch before the stitch marked in blue, M1R k1.

Row 7 (WS): knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

Rows 8-19: repeat rows 4 to 7 following the corresponding rows of the chart three times.

Rows 20-22: repeat rows 4 to 6 once more.

*It was noted above that the chart shown represents the stitch pattern both on the back and the front of the sweater. The stitches coloured in grey in the middle are the stitches that don’t exist in any given row of the front neck. Knitting the back panel is trivial, as you proceed from the bottom right corner. The front neck is perhaps a bit trickier to grasp – it cost me one frogging. It is almost easier to turn the chart upside down to understand what is going on: 

img_20161027_110225.jpg

So, the upside down chart is like a picture of the front of the sweater, with the neck hole greyed out. Because you are knitting top-down, your RS rows start with the left front neck, with the stitches on the right to the grey area. This means that on the forth row, which is the second right side pattern row, you will start by k1 and then M1L (neck increase), then p1 as shown on the chart and M1R (raglan increase). Once you knit across the left sleeve, the back panel and the right sleeve stitches, you will come to the right front neck (left edge of the chart): M1L (raglan increase), p1 as shown on the chart, M1R (neck increase), k1. As you can see, neck increase stitches are marked in blue in the chart (these are either m1R or m1L, depending on the side) and the the stitches marked in orange are kept in stockinette at the front neck before being incorporated into the pattern.

This all sounds terribly complicated, but it slowly becomes obvious once you start knitting.

Joining the neck to work in the round: once you’ve completed row 22, cast on 12 stitches for the centre neck using the backloop cas on method. Join to work in the round and continue to the first marker knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches. Switch this marker for a BOR marker. (Yes, you’ll end up with one more row on the left front, but don’t worry, nobody will notice.)

At this point, you should have 56 stitches for the front and the back each and 26 stitches for each of the sleeves. Together with the raglan seem stitches, that is 56*2+26*2+3*4= 176 stitches in total. The BOR marker is at the raglan seam before the left sleeve. 

Continuing with raglan increases

If all is well, your next round should be row 7 of the Double Hourglass stitch. I didn’t chart the stitch pattern from here on, as I found it quite self explanatory to continue knitting just by looking at what I already had. At the beginning, the front may be a bit more difficult, but whenever in doubt just take a peek at the back. From here on, the front and the back should be identical on each row.

Until row/round 42 the body increases continue on every second and the sleeve increases on every forth row. Since the BOR marker has been moved to the first raglan seam, it is better to do the body increase prior to it on the previous round. Incorporate the newly increased stitches in the Double Hourglass pattern upon the second next rounds.

NOTE: It is recommended that you knit the ribbing for the neck shortly after you have started working in the round, in order to ensure a correct fit.

Row 23: start from the BOR marker and knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches, M1R.

Row 24/Body increase row: k1 p1 k1, slip marker, knit across left sleeve stitches, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, continue in stitch pattern for the back, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, knit across right sleeve stitches, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L and continue in stitch pattern for the front (same as the back).

Row 25: knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches, M1R.

Row 26/Sleeve and body increase row: k1 p1 k1, slip marker M1L, knit across left sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, continue in stitch pattern for the back, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, knit across right sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L and continue in stitch pattern for the front (same as the back).

Row 27: knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches, M1R.

Rows 28-43: repeat rows 24 to 27 four more times.

Upon completion of this section, you should have 76 stitches for the front and the back each and 36 stitches for each sleeve. That is, 76*2+36*2+3*4=236 stitches in total.

From row 42 onwards both body and sleeve increases are made on every 3rd row. On rows following the increase row knit newly made stitches and incorporate them into the stitch pattern upon the following row.

Row 44 (Even round, increase last stitch): k1 p1 k1, slip marker, knit across left sleeve stitches, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, continue in stitch pattern for the back, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, knit across right sleeve stitches, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker and continue in stitch pattern for the front (same as the back), M1R.

Row 45 (Increase on odd round): k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, knit across left sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, continue across back knitting knit stitches and purling purl stitches, M1R, slip marker, M1L, knit across right sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L and continue across front knitting knit stitches and purling purl stitches.

Row 46 (Even round, no increase): k1 p1 k1, slip marker, knit across left sleeve stitches, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, continue in stitch pattern for the back, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, knit across right sleeve stitches, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker and continue in stitch pattern for the front (same as the back).

Row 47 (Odd round, increase last stitch): knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches, M1R.

Row 48 (Increase on even round): k1 p1 k1, slip marker M1L, knit across left sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, continue in stitch pattern for the back, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L, knit across right sleeve stitches, M1R, slip marker, k1 p1 k1, slip marker, M1L and continue in stitch pattern for the front (same as the back).

Row 49 (Odd round, no increase): knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

Row 50 (Even round, increase last stitch): repeat row 44.

Rows 51-68: repeat rows 45-50 three more times.

Upon completion of this section you should have 92 body stitches for the front and the back each and 52 stitches for each sleeve. That is a total number of 92*2+52*2+3*4=300 stitches.

Placing sleeve stitches on hold and continuing with body

Placing sleeve stitches on hold and casting on for underarm

Row 69: Remove BOR marker and k1 (this is a raglan seam stitch) and place next 56 stitches (basting stitch, raglan seam stitch, 52 sleeve stitches, raglan seam stitch and basting stitch) on hold removing stitch markers. Using the backward loop method cast on 18 stitches, placing the BOR marker after the first 9 cast on stitches. K1 and continue across the back knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches, remove marker, knit the first raglan seam stitch. Place next 56 stitches (basting stitch, raglan seam stitch, 52 sleeve stitches, raglan seam stitch and basting stitch) on hold removing stitch markers. Knit the first raglan seam stitch, remove marker and continue across front knitting knit stitches and purling purl stitches.

Once you get to the newly cast on underarm stitches, knit the first 9 stitches to the BOR marker in pattern, which should be: p4, k1, p2, k1, p1. – If you are on row 5 of the Double Hourglass stitch pattern, that is.

Continuing with body

Row 70: slip BOR marker and knit the 9 remaining stitches in pattern (6th row of Double Hourglass) as follows: BC p1 BC p4 and continue in pattern throughout the round.

Continue knitting in pattern until the body is 23 cm or 9” from underarm. Aim to finish on Row 7 or Row 15 of Double Hourglass pattern.

Ribbing

Switch to 3.5 mm needles and start 2*2 ribbing. Continue even until ribbing is about 5 cm or 2”.

Rearrange to 1*1 ribbing: *k1, place one stitch on cable needle and hold in front, p1, k stitch on hold, p1, repeat form * to the end of the row.

Finish the body with tubular bind off.

Finishing seams

Using mattress stitch, create seam at raglans.

Adding neck ribbing

Using 3.5 mm needles and starting from the raglan seam at the left front, pick up 72 stitches around the neck. Start 4*4 ribbing. Knit 8-9 rows, or as desired.

Rearrange to 1*1 ribbing: *k1, place one stitch on cable needle and hold in front, p1, k stitch on hold, p1, repeat form * to the end of the row. Finish with tubular bind off.

Sleeves

NOTE: I’m currently working on the sleeves, so this might not be the definitive row count. Try on to see how long you want the sleeves.

Starting from the middle, pick up 9 stitches at underarm, place sleeve stitches on hold back on the needle. Knit across sleeve stitches, knitting the basting stitches together with the raglan seam stitches (i.e. knit together first and last two stitches), pick up the remaining 9 underarm stitches and place BOR marker.

You should have 72 sleeve stitches.

Knit 20 rows (about 6.5 cm or 2.5”) even.

Sleeve decrease round: Slip marker, SSK, knit to last two stitches before marker, k2tog.

Repeat sleeve decrease round on every 7th row 14 times. 44 stitches remain.Knit 2-3 rows even.

Switch to 3.5 mm needles and start 4*4 ribbing. Continue even until you have about 5 cm or 2” of ribbing.

Rearrange to 1*1 ribbing: *k1, place one stitch on cable needle and hold in front, p1, k stitch on hold, p1, repeat form * to the end of the row. Finish with tubular bind off.

top-down-almost-finished

IMG_20160925_175155856.jpg

“Improvised” top-down sweater – Part 1

Clearly my resolution to make an appearance on the blog more frequently has not gone so well, as almost a month has passed since my last post. Oh dear. I won’t even try to come up with excuses this time.

During this cyber absence, however, I’ve embarked on a rather exciting adventure. “Designing” my first sweater. When I saw the 2016 Fringe and Friends Knitalong, I had various reasons to get excited and want to join in. Firstly, I have all this yarn I got at a factory sale for a very good price, and I haven’t quite managed to find a pattern I’m dying to knit with it. Secondly, I own a lovely red felt skirt by Coldelrosso, a fashion brand created by a good friend of mine, which I never seem to be able to combine with anything in my wardrobe (gotta practice some wardrobe planning…). Thirdly, I like challenges and this seemed like a good one.

nz-yarn

As I hadn’t wanted to indulge myself until I finished a real-life work project, I took quite a while in getting started. Consequently, by the time I took any action, many other knitters had impressive projects materializing on their needles, as attested by the KAL Instagram feed. Sooo intimidating. However, the fact that others already had actual sweaters taking shape was for me a booster in helping to skip a period of painful procrastination, whereby I would have been trying to make (futile) decisions on every detail. Instead, I promptly picked a stitch pattern and started swatching. I also knew that, since my primary goal is to be able to wear the sweater with a high rise skirt, and, potentially, layered over a dress, I wanted something with quite a bit of ease and possibly a cropped hem.

The stitch pattern I chose is the Double Hourglass stitch found in Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns (p. 279). I knitted a swatch in both stockinette and the hourglass stitch pattern with 3.5 mm and 4 mm needles using the dark grey yarn. At first I was convinced I’d go for the 3.5 mm needles and more tightly knit fabric, but after blocking the swatch, I couldn’t resist the lovely drape of the fabric knitted with the bigger size needles. Also, here the stitch count was 22 stitches per 4 inches (or 10 cms), coming to 5.5 stitches per inch, so I thought this count would be easy enough to work with. A further, yet not less important, argument was that this way I got to knit with my brand new 4 mm Knit Pro Royale needles, which I “had to” buy because I had lent my 4 mms to a friend.

swatch

I also promptly decided on a fairly conservative neck shaping. For now, none of the two sweaters I have knitted have a perfectly satisfying neck line – I find the Carpino‘s neck two high and straight in the front, and the non-shaped round neck of the Coda is not ideal in the back.  Of course, having no idea about neck shaping, I had just knitted these following the original patterns. This time I set out to see if I can come up with a flattering crew neck for myself. For this, I followed Karen’s excellent tutorial at the Fringe Association blog. I cast on 34 stitches (about 6 inches) for the back neck and 14 stitches (about 3.5 inches) for each shoulder. Together with the front neck and stitches for the raglan “seam” this meant a total number of 72 cast on stitches.

I soon found out that knitting and increasing in the stitch pattern would not be very straight forward, so once I managed to figure out how many rows I needed until joining the neck and then to the underarm, as well as the frequency of increases, I resolved to charting the pattern with the increases in Excel. This took quite a while, but it was well worth it to make sure that the pattern would be properly centered and also to be able to knit without having to stop to think too much. The chart shows both the back and the front of the sweater, with the stitches coloured in grey in the middle representing the ones that don’t exist in the front neck in each row. I also marked the neck increase stitches (in blue) and the the stitches that are kept in stockinette at the front neck before being incorporated into the pattern (in orange). Believe me, it took a while to figure all this out.

NOTE: Karen from Fringe Association also has an incredibly insightful and useful post on incorporating an all-over stitch pattern in a top-down sweater design.

top-down-pattern

Once reaching the point where the centre neck stitches needed to be cast on, I was faced with a new dilemma. Where would the beginning of the round (BOR) be when I’m joining the work to knit in the round? Of course the real BOR falls right after the centre neck stitches, but I know that patterns often suggest to place the BOR marker at the left raglan seam. Eventually I decided to go for the latter solution, even though this implied sneaking an extra pattern row into the left front. As I’m toying with the idea of a cropped curved ham for the front of the sweater – so it looks better when layered over a dress or worn with a skirt – I thought starting the new round on the side would potentially make things easier. On the bright side, after the sweater grew a bit and I sort of got used to reading the fabric so I don’t need the chart anymore.

At the current pace, in two months time you may be able to learn about the outcome… 🙂

topdown_and_skirt

top-down-collage