Sewing on the Collar

I decided to leave the shoulder and collar shaping on the back piece for later. I started to get curious about the ribbing around the collar and noticed the pattern refers to a page (Conseils) not included in the free version of the pattern. Similar instructions can be found on Phildar‘s website.

Instead of picking up stitches and working a collar, this pattern specifies knitting a separate band of K2P2 ribbing and then sewing it onto the sweater using backstitches. After working the band to the desired width, knit a couple of rows using a contrasting color. Position the band around the collar, placing more stitches on the front. When it comes time to sew the band to the sweater, unravel all but one row of the stitches in the contrasting color. Unravel each stitch of the last knit row while making a backstitch. More detailed instructions (in English) and pictures can be found in “Big Book of Knitting” by Katharina Buss.


I picked up “Knitting Languages” at my local yarn store last weekend. I noticed that there were two copies left and remembered reading on the publisher’s website that it is going out of print. This book lists knitting terms in Danish, French, German, British, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish. All are translated into American English.

I find it interesting that French has two words for stitch, “point” and “maille”. “Point” seems to be used for stitches that have already been worked and “maille” for stitches on a needle.


My husband took one look at what I’ve done and said, “Is that a Groovy Girls sweater?”. If you have little girls, I think you’ll understand this statement.


I’m at the point where I need to start shaping the shoulders and the neck. I could follow the pattern, which specifies the typical way to bind off shoulders, or I could strike out on my own like I did last time. At this point, I’m going to admit that this is only my second sweater since taking up knitting again (a year ago). That sweater was a simple cardigan called Tea Tree. The sweater turned out great but I haven’t gotten around to taking a picture of it.

On my last sweater I used short-row shaping so that I could do a three-needle bind off. The best explanation of this technique is in “The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques” by Nancie M. Wiseman. There are various resources, which describe short-rows but was the first book that I found which specifically describes how to do it on shoulders. Just to keep everything straight in my mind, I graphed it out first. I made it really complicated by doing short row shaping for both the neck and shoulders. This time around I’ll just bind off the neck without short rows. Sweaterscapes has some good tutorials about short-rows and three needle bind off.

Making Progress

The back is coming along. I’ll be starting the armhole shaping soon which might get interesting. The pattern says to decrease on each side, every two rows: 2x4sts, 2x3sts … I’m not familiar with this notation but I believe it means that the first two decreases need to be four stitches, the next two need to be 3 stitches and so forth.

I really like the format and schemas that Phildar uses. Each section of a schema has a symbol that corresponds to the written instructions.


Translating the pattern hasn’t been too difficult. I found a site that translates some knitting terms and I have also used a couple of large French/English dictionaries. I was surprised to find knitting terms listed in these dictionaries.

Even though I downloaded the free version of the pattern, I went ahead and purchased it. The sizing and abbreviations are not listed in the free version.

Cast On

I went to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival this weekend. I found these guys snuggling despite the 98 degree weather.

Since I was out fondling fibers I didn’t get much done on my sweater. Actually I had two false starts before being satisfied with my gauge. I was trying to knit loosely but found that cotton yarn shows all flaws and the stitches were not looking uniform.

Like every other pattern out on the market, this one doesn’t mention what cast on to do. I checked a few sources and finally decided to use a regular long tail cast on for the knit stitches and a backwards version for the purl stitches. This produces a very stretchy edge.


Most knitting books don’t seem to mention the purl long tail cast on and I didn’t find a good reference on the web. The best written reference on this technique is in “The Principles of Knitting” by June Hemmons Hiatt. Here’s a description in my own words.

This cast on is started like the regular one. Put a slip knot in the yarn and place the loop on the needle. Place one strand of yarn around the index finger and the other strand around the thumb with the palm facing forward (The strands are wound around the finger and thumb from the palm). Once the yarn is in place, pick up the strand of yarn on the far side of the index finger, pulling it up and over the other one on the same finger and towards the first strand around the thumb (closest to the palm). This action will make the yarn around the index finger cross, forming a loop around the index finger. Once the needle is past the first strand on the thumb, dip under this strand to hook it on the needle. The thumb strand will be looped on the needle from back to front. Pull the needle back towards the index finger slipping it between the loop around the index finger. Once the needle is through the loop, slip the loop off the index finger and tighten the stitch by tugging on the loose ends.


Here’s the final swatch for the Phildar cardigan. It seems like I can always make several swatches using the same size needle and come up with a different stitch/row count every time. This one looks good so I’ll go with it. I’ll be using size 3mm needles as suggested in the pattern.

The colors are really eye popping (Pacifique, Anemone/Indien and Groseille). This picture doesn’t really convey how bright they are. The Indien colored yarn is a thin metallic type yarn that gives the sweater a lot of sparkle.

Most of the yarn in this sweater is cotton. I’ve run across quite a few knitters who don’t like knitting with cotton yarn. Since this is my first big project using cotton, I don’t have an opinion on it yet. It seems to have enough twist so it shouldn’t be too difficult to knit.


Phildar Odessey

I first saw this sweater on Anna’s blog a couple of months ago and was instantly drawn to the beautiful colors. I just had to make one for myself. The pattern can be downloaded for free from the Phildar website. Immediately I did a Google search for Phildar yarns and quickly found that there really isn’t a good source for Phildar in the North America. So, at that point, the lovely stripped cardigan became a new odyssey.

The original pattern calls for mostly cotton yarn, which seems like a practical choice considering the colors and pattern. I searched local yarn stores and web sites for a good substitute yarn but wasn’t very successful. I found several cotton yarns that would produce the correct gauge but didn’t have all the right colors. Also, it doesn’t seem like most yarn sources in the US carry a good range of cotton yarns in various weights.

When a good substitue didn’t appear, I became determined to find a source for Phildar yarns. I found two web sites that offer Phildar yarn. One is in Dutch and the other in French. The site in Dutch offered all the yarn needed to make the sweater and the site in French only had two of the three yarns needed. Well, I didn’t want to presume that the folks running either site could read or write English, so I chose to order yarn from the site in French. Although my French is rusty, I knew I could probably correspond in French.

I placed the order and corresponded with a woman who indicated that she was willing to correspond in English or French. To pay for the order, I had to wire Euros to her bank account in Belgium. Doing so wasn’t cheap since the bank charges quite a premium for this service. The yarn arrived three weeks after payment.

Just about the time I received my order from the site in Belgium, I found another blog (pknitty) that mentioned this sweater. She ordered the yarn from the Dutch site. It turns out that the owner of this site can correspond in English and will ship yarn to the US. She also takes PayPal! I ended up ordering the rest of the yarn and the pink hook and eye tape from her. I received that package yesterday and was surprised to find a cute Phildar teddy bear included. If I ever find another Phildar pattern that I just have to make and can’t substitue the yarn, I’ll order the yarn from Breiweb.