Pattern Fragment 4

This is the follow up to Pattern Fragment 0, Pattern Fragment 1, Pattern Fragment 2, and Pattern Fragment 3.

Cut open the arm hole steeks, and joining new yarn at the top of the opening (after the shoulder seam), pick up stitches around the arm hole, at a rate of 2 stitches for every three rows. I picked up two extra stitches in the "corners" at the bottom of the sleeve and did not pick up a stitch from the shoulder seam.

Also, place markers where the shoulder decreases start at the bottom of the opening.

Knit 9 stitches, move yarn to front, slip the next stitch, move the yarn to the back, change directions, [1] slip the first stitch (again,) and work back to the "beginning of the row," at the shoulder seam. Work the next nine stitches, slip the next stitch, move the yarn to the front, change directions, slip the first stitch (again), move the yarn to the back, and knit across.

When you get to a "wrapped stitch" at the end of this "short row," pick up the wrap and knit it together with the stitch it wrapped, and then wrap the next stitch.

Continue in this manner until you get to the markers where the arm hole shaping ends, before switching to knitting in the round for the main body of the sleeve.

[1]You could turn the work, but I do this part just by knitting back backwards.

Pattern Fragment 3

This is the follow up to Pattern Fragment 0, Pattern Fragment 1, and Pattern Fragment 2.

Starting at the "end" of the back of the neck, join new yarn, and with a short circular needle pick up stitches around the steek. Be sure to pick up the first/last stitch of the steek. If you did not set aside a stitch at the bottom of the neck, increase one stitch at the bottom point of the neck.

When you've completed picking up stitches and have knit (plain) across the back of the neck, begin knitting in Knit 1 Purl One Ribbing, being sure to mirror left-to-right at the bottom of the knit (i.e. if the last stitch before your "point" or "bottom of the neck stitch" is a knit, then you should knit the stitch right after the point.) Always knit the "point" stitch. Additionally, on this first row you should do a centered double decrease at the point.

My favorite centered double decrease is a "slip 2 together, knit 1, lift the two slipped stitches over the knit stitch."

Continue knitting the collar, in this ribbing, doing one double decrease every other row, for an inch and a half. Bind off normally.

Pattern Fragment 2

This is the follow up to Pattern Fragment 0 and Pattern Fragment 1.

After the yoke decreases, in addition to the steeks, there should be 196 stitches in total, or 98 stitches on the front and back of the neck.

Knit the yoke section plain, until it is--in total--3 inches deep. On the front of the sweater, knit 49 stitches (half), cast on 10 steek stitches, and continue knitting round marking the stitches. Knit the next round plan, and then decrease one stitch on either side of the steek, every other round, 21 or 22 times to shape the neck (42 or 44 rounds). Knit plain from here to the end of the sweater. After the first 2-3 inches of decreases, you may choose to space out the decreases more for a gradual slope, though I wouldn't.

Meanwhile, when the yoke is 7.5 inches deep, set aside at least 26 stitches in the middle of the back for back-of-neck-shaping, cast on a 10 stitch steak, and then decrease on alternating sides of the steek over the next inch and a half, until the number of stitches decreased at the front is exactly equal to the number of stitches decreased at the back.

When the yoke is 9 inches deep, in the last round bind off the middle two stitch of both of the armhole steeks, ending with knitting across the back one last time. Turn the work inside out and using a three-needle bind off, join and bind off the shoulders.

Knitting off the Cone

I have, for a long time, done rather a lot of knitting from yarn directly off of cones, which is maybe a bit weird or at least uncommon, so I thought I'd elaborate a bit more:

  • Theoretically a cone of yarn, which often contains at least 250 grams or more of yarn, has fewer breaks in it than you'd have with an equivalent weight of yarn packaged in skeins or balls. This isn't always true, as cones of yarn do have breaks, sometimes, but if you have a construction that doesn't require you break the yarn very much you can probably save a lot of weaving in by knitting off of a cone.
  • Cones of yarn are often not quite ready for use: most often the yarn hasn't received its final wash, which often means that the spinning oil is still in the wool. This is potentially only true for yarn that's undyed or dyed before being spun, and not the case for yarn that's dyed after being spun. It's also likely the case that the yarn will be wound onto the cone slightly tighter than it would be otherwise. The effect is that the yarn will be a bit limp relative to it's final state. The color can also change a bit. You can knit with the unwashed yarn, but know that the final product will require a bit more washing, and the texture can change.
  • Typically the kind of yarn that's available on cones is boring, which is to say that there are less varieties in general but also of different colors. I think this is actually a great thing: knitting in more plain colors and simple smooth yarns draws attention to the knitting itself, which is often my goal.
  • Cones of yarn feel like buying yarn in bulk, and buying yarn by the pound or kilo (!) means that you can really get a feel for the yarn and it's behavior and knit with it for more than one project. Make a few sweaters, or many pairs of socks. See what happens!
  • Because yarn on cones is often used as a method of distributing undyed yarn to dyers in bulk, you can select materials on the basis of fiber content in a way that can be difficult when you also have to balance color considerations.

The clear solution to this problem is, of course, to wind the yarn off the cone into a hank (typically using a niddy nody or similar,) avoid tying the yarn too tightly, soak and wash the yarn gently with wool wash, and then hang it up to dry, and then wind it back into balls. I never do this. I should, but realistically I never do.

Pattern Fragment 1

This is the follow up to Pattern Fragment 0

After all of the shaping for the body of the sweater, you'll have 256 stitches. The goal is to have 196 stitches total for the yoke section, or 98 stitches front and back. This gives me a yoke width of 14 inches, which I know fits me well. Your shoulder width may turn out to be deeply personal, modify as needed to accommodate your personal shoulders.

Put 14 stitches on holders at each underarm, this should be the 7 stitches before and after your round beginning and middle markers. Cast on 10 steek stitches using the backward loop (e-wrap) method above each steek. These are the underarms.

On the next row, after creating the steeks, decrease one body stitch into the first and last steek stitches, and continue these decreases in alternating rows, 7 times (14 total rows), until there are 98 stitches ready for the yoke.

The division between "stitches set aside" and "stitches decreased" at the beginning of the yoke are flexible, as long as you've finished shaping the yoke before its about 2 inches long.

Finished a Sweater

I finished knitting a sweater a bit ago, and it's pretty cool. Some thoughts:

  • The cuffs ended up being a touch too wide, but it's workable. I think this sweater is really good for wearing over an oxford, and as such slightly wider cuffs may be fine.
  • I used the placket / open neck line reminiscent of 1/4 zip sweaters, but chose for the first time to do garter stitch rather than ribbing for the horizontal parts of the plackets, which worked pretty well, though I might choose to execute them differently in the future. Having said that, I think I want to explore different neck shapes.
  • I didn't do any kind of lower body shaping, which is fine, particularly on such a boxy garment, but waist shaping is a good thing that I'd use again in the future.
  • This is the first drop shouldered garment I've made since the knitting hiatus. It was comforting, but I suspect I'll not knit another for quite a while.
  • I'd knit this sweater before using exactly these colors, albeit in a thicker weight yarn, and a few times with different color combinations. It was really fun and familiar.
  • HD Shetland Yarn is pretty awesome. This was the first time I'd used it for non-stranded knitting, and it was great fun to knit.
  • The previous couple of sweaters that I'd made were both knit at about 9 stitches to the inch, and this was about 7 stitches to the inch, which means that it felt like it went really fast. It's wild how we acclimate to things.

Lessons from the Knitting Hiatus

I took years and years off of knitting: life and priorities change and I must confess that a few years of living in a very small apartment with very active cats made it difficult to have the space to really get into knitting. Anyway, it was really nice to have a hobby sitting on the metaphoric shelf that I could get right back into without a big learning curve.

The interesting thing, I think is in observing is that the hiatus made some subtle changes to the way that I approach knitting things, at least relative to what I remember.

  • I'm less opposed to garter stitch, and have been using little bits of it here and there in some projects.
  • I've gotten much better at wrap-and-turn short rows in stocking stitch., they now look pretty good and I remember them always looking terrible.
  • I knit the yoke of a sweater back and forth, which is a thing that I would have found unimaginable.
  • Knitting plain stocking stitch in the round has always been a great joy of mine, but in the last couple of months I've done it rather a lot, knitting 3, or so, plain sweaters, which I've found quite captivating. I always seemed to feel like I needed some kind of patterning (color work, lace, cables etc) to keep things interesting, and that doesn't really seem to be the case.
  • I've yet to knit anything post-hiatus on needles other than US 0s (which are quite small,) and it doesn't seem to bug me very much. I continue to make progress on projects and rounds with 250-340 (or so) stitches don't seem oppressively long.
  • The problem of having little gaps between the sleeve of a sweater and the body at the "bottom corner," always used to be a big problem, and these days I haven't need to sew up these gaps at all, which is kind of novel.
  • My cast on edges have gotten better: I've managed to get edges that are as elastic as they need to be, and all of the usual problems (a twist, mistakes in rubbing, problems in counting, misjudging the length of the long-tail) haven't been a problem at all.

Of course some things didn't change:

  • I still don't really like to do things that involve knitting rows very much, and would prefer to knit as much as possible in the round.
  • My taste in yarns seems to be heavy on the "boring fine wool" and while I've been looking around at the kinds of yarns that are available and popular, I am (for the most part,) pretty content to stick to the really simple and boring yarn.
  • I haven't yet vanquished a number of old fears/struggles like making an EPS-style sweater that I really like, knitting sleeves from the cuff-up, cardigans. Many of these things are on my list of things to explore more in the future, but we'll see how I fair.

It's all very curious! I'm excited to see if anything else changes!

Knitting Pictures

I've never been really good at the blogging+picture game, and while maybe once upon a time it was technical limitation--taking photos and getting them online was complicated--anymore it's probably not. To this end, I've started a knitting specific Instagram account as a kind of photoblog for knitting things. It's @gestaltknitting, if you're interested.

While I took this picture a while ago, I must confess that my knitting basically looks the same now.

The same, not because I've made no progress, but because sleeves take a while and it's just plain knitting, so unless you have a very discerning eye, you might miss the details.

Indeed, I really want my next project to also have a lot of plain knitting with black yarn: I expect the photographs will be captivating. Perhaps it will be enjoyable for people to be able to spot the different patterns of embedded cat hair in the sweaters.

I get that knitting is visual for a lot of people, and I do like a smart looking sweater as much as the next guy, but I've always felt somewhat resistant to this view: knitting is about the process and the act more than it is about the product, and so the things that are most exciting aren't the visuals.

While it's gotten much easier to take high quality pictures, my intention for this book that I've been writing is that it mostly would not be a book with a lot of picture, though we'll see: If anything, I suspect that diagrams and cartoons may be more effective for this kind of application.

Having said that, it's nice to see what other people are knitting, and I like the way that the ephemeral nature of instagram stories make it less daunting to post in-progress updates on projects. So I've definitely been enjoying that.

We'll see!