Tripping

Sunday night I tripped over the cord to my modem and broke the USB connector. Now that I have a new modem, I’ll be more careful not to keep computer cords strung around the dining room.

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I noticed that purlwise got mentioned on livejournal knitting community yesterday. I’m still trying to figure out what livejournal is and how it is being used. By coincidence, last week I stumbled upon advanced knit community for the first time. I like their slogan, “We know that stockinette curls”.

I was having trouble with the edges of my sweater so I took a couple of clips off the refrigerator to keep it tame while I snapped a picture. Afterwards, I went ahead and transferred the stitches to two circular needles so that I could accurately measure the width of the sweater. When it was on one circular, the loop wouldn’t lay flat which made it difficult to measure close to the needle. It looks like the sweater isn’t going to be wide enough so I’m calculating where to add more increases.

In the Round

td_start_botton.jpg It’s been so easy to work on this sweater during my bus commute and at home that I’m finding it hard to get motivated to work on other projects. The Christmas stocking that I started last week will probably not get done this Christmas. I’ve been too busy to spend time concentrating on an intarsia project this week but will probably have time during the Christmas break to work on it.

Speaking of intarsia, Pricilla Gibson-Roberts had an article in the winter issue of Interweave Knits about a new intarsia-in-the-round technique that I’m interested in trying. While this technique probably won’t work for my current stocking project, it probably would have worked for my last one. Maybe after my current projects are done, I’ll have time to make the footlets in her article.

Now that the increases are done, the front and back have been joined by casting on additional stitches at the bottom of each armhole. The pattern suggested using a crochet chain as a base for the new stitches. I had some left over mercerized cotton yarn that worked well this purpose. I believe this slippery cotton yarn will be easy to pull out when I need to pick up those stitches.

Raised/Lifted Increases

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The underarm shaping for this sweater is done using raised/lifted increases on each side of the front and back, at least that’s what the pattern implies. It says, “Work increases as k2, k1 in left side of st below, k across to last 2 st, k1 in right side of st below of next st, k2”. Although this is the first time I’ve used raised increases, this description just didn’t seem right. After checking several sources, I confirmed that the pattern incorrectly mentions which side of the stitch from the previous row to raise. Here’s how I’m doing it.

Increase stitch count by raising one side of a stitch from the previous row. These increases will slant to the left or right depending on which side of the stitch is raised. At beginning of next knit row knit two stitches. Now add a new stitch by using the right needle tip to raise the right side of the stitch below the one on the left needle onto the left needle. Knit this new stitch. Continue knitting across the back/front side of the garment until two stitches remain on the left needle. Now add another stitch by using the left needle to raise the left side of the stitch two rows down from the stitch on the right needle. While this new stitch is on the left needle knit into backside of it so that it doesn’t cross. Knit the next two stitches to finish the row. Note that the left increase is raised from the second row from the needle so that the increases end up on the same row.

While The Principles of Knitting has the best description and diagram of this increase I also found a good description in the Fall 2003 issue of Knitter’s magazine.

Working for Nothing?

Did anyone catch Andrei Codrescu’s commentary on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday? He drew an artful analogy between a spider in his yard and bloggers. During the commentary he called blogs “a graphomaniac’s perfect outlet”. Well, this blog certainly doesn’t have a graphomaniac behind it. I confirmed that fact by actually having to lookup graphomaniac in the dictionary.

td_tophalf.jpg This knitomaniac is making progress on the current project. I took a break from the open twisted rib stitches and started the back. Soon I’ll be shaping the armhole. Eventually the front and back will be joined so that the rest of the body can be knit in the round. I love the fact that there will be no seams to weave.

More Deciphering

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Knitting instructions can be so confusing.

After carefully examining the photos included with the pattern and working the first row on paper, I realized that I was on the wrong track when I thought the three end stitches should be knit stitches. I’m not sure why the author mentions, “Patt st is mirrored with 3 end sts …”. The stitch pattern works out just fine if started as listed in the stitch pattern section.

Actually most of the instructions seem to be quite clear. It is very helpful of author/publisher to include several photos pointing out the various sections of the sweater. It’s rare for a magazine pattern to have more than one photo for a pattern. INKnitter’s magazine seems to give more detailed instructions then the other knitting magazines.

Deciphering Instructions

td_pickup_front.jpg After the collar was finished I started the shoulder panels. I wasn’t paying enough attention to where I started these panels and realized half way through that my stitch pattern was off. I ripped out them out and started over. Now I’m back on track and will start working the front.

I’ve been somewhat puzzled over the directions at this point. The lace stitch is now worked flat and the pattern says, “Patt st is mirrored with 3 end sts when working back and forth (flat)”. The stitch guide on the pattern also says, “multiples of 5 + 3”. I’ve surmised that I should work 3 knit stitches on each side of the front. The rest will be in pattern. I confirmed with The Principles of Knitting that directions for lace patterns will frequently list the number of stitches by saying, “multiples of X + X “. The number after the plus sign refers to selvedge or edge stitches.

Design Inspiration

While Christmas shopping this morning I came across a wonderful store called Pavo Real that sells beautiful sweaters. new_sweater This particular sweater caught my eye. Although it is shaped like a traditional Scandinavian cardigan, the design has a more oriental arabesque favor which is accented with a tassel zipper pull. The maker is Icelandic Designs.

The Handy Magic Loop

mloop_start.jpg The top down pullover is finally on the needles with a couple repeats of the mock cable stitch pattern. The pattern says to use a 16″ circular needle to start the collar but I don’t have one. I’m making due with my 40″ circular needle by using the magic loop.

How to Knit with One Circular Needle

Be sure to use a needle with a very flexible cable. I use Addi Turbo needles, which for the most part have worked wonderfully, but I have noticed that the manufacturer changed the cable material. The newest ones are not as flexible as my older ones. I won’t purchase new ones until the cables improve.

After casting on, the needle cable is folded in half to form a loop. Grab the tip of the loop and pull it out to the left side leaving the stitches on the cable. The tips of the needles will poke out of the right side. Starting the magic loop is always a little awkward, especially the first time, but becomes much easier after a few rounds have been knit.

The photo on the left shows the start of a round. Notice that the tips of the needle are on the right side and the needle cable forms a loop on the left side. Half of the stitches are on the front part of the cable and the other half are on the back part of the cable.

To position the needle tips for knitting, slide the front stitches onto the front needle tip and leave the back stitches resting on the cable. Pull the back needle tip forward a bit and position it so that the stitches on the front needle (now the left needle) can be knit onto the back needle (now the right needle) as if knitting on straight needles.

mloop_mid.jpg Knit all the stitches from the left needle tip onto the right needle tip. Once the first side is done flip the work to the other side so that the needle tips are again on the right side and the loop is on the left. The second half of the round can be worked just like the first half.

I learned the Magic Loop from Sarah Hauschka who helped create a booklet about this technique.

Debbie Bliss Cashmerino

bliss_swatch.jpg Marie asked for my opinion of the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino yarn that I’ll be using for my next project.

I hesitated before buying this yarn and briefly looked for a substitute. First off, this yarn contains 33% microfibre. If I’m going to hand knit a sweater, I usually try to avoid yarns that are not 100% wool. Perhaps it is an unreasonable bias but I just prefer to wear and knit natural fibers. Another reason I hesitated was because of its strange twist. I think this twist causes the “V” shape of knit stitches to be out of whack and I’m not sure if I like this effect. Despite these reservations I decide to go ahead and give it a try.

So far I like it, but won’t have a truly informed opinion until the sweater is finished. The swatch is very, very soft which is due to the merino (55%) and cashmere (12%). No wonder Debbie Bliss calls it baby cashmerino. I think it would be perfect for baby clothes.

The pattern for the pullover mentions that this yarn tends to relax so it is really important to knit a swatch and wash it just as you will wash the sweater. I followed this advice and found that my swatch did indeed grow a bit. I would venture to guess that the microfibre causes the yarn to relax.

Next challenge

debbiebliss.jpg A couple months ago, the construction of the Blue Waterfall Pullover in the summer issue of INKnitters magazine peaked my interest. It is started in the round at the neck, switches to flat knitting for the upper torso and then changes back to circular knitting for the bottom torso. The shoulders are also worked from the top, beginning with stitches picked up from the short-row shaped shoulders. This looks like a great technique to minimize seams while maintaining a tailored shape.

Interesting Construction

One of my favorite lunch break past times is to go to the local magazine stand and check out knitting magazines. This week I came across this sweater called Blue Waterfall Pullover by Holly Minor in the summer issue of INKnitters. It is started on a circular needle from the top down. The construction of the shoulder is very interesting. The open twisted rib continues from the neck onto the shoulders and down the sleeves. The armholes are shaped using short rows which helps the sweater maintain a fitted look. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. I’ll definitely make this one in the future.

I finished my niece’s socks and will start swatching for the Phildar striped cardigan.