This post comes in two parts: an update on the current knitting project and an introduction to a new sweater that I've started recently. See the Ideal Sweater and Sweater Stories posts for more information on my current thinking about knitting and writing.

Current Sweater: Gray and Black

I've been trying to write an update on my current knitting, but to be honest I'd rather be knitting than writing little updates and taking picture of the thing that I'm knitting. Also, while there's something engaging and captivating about the long slog from the hem to the shoulder during the knitting, even though progress is always apparent, there's not a lot to talk about for weeks and weeks while the piece grows.

I think it's going to be a great sweater, and while it's not the first thing I've really knit recently, I think it's the first that I care to finish. There are a lot of great things about this sweater: the pattern is fun to knit, it's the perfect size, it matches the cats, and it's visually interesting without being busy. Also, I used Shetland yarn, and it's really impossible to say enough about how much little things like that matter.

I'm not yet done with the sweater. As I draft this post, I've knit the body and the collar, and just have sleeves left to do. I knit sleeves from the top-down, and am three inches or so past the shoulder. The sleeves will be pretty straight forward and are just a matter of spending some time.

The problem with knitting sleeves from the top down is that you have to have a full sweater on your lap. In the summer this means overheating with a pound of wool on your lap or knitting at a table. Neither of which is terribly ideal. As a result I've started the next sweater. I'll try and post something about the sweater as a whole when its done but in the mean time I'd like to collect a few thoughts and lessons learned so far.

  • I think the neck opening is a bit too wide. I have a crew-neck formula that I've been using for a while that might need to be tweaked.

    Basically three inches before the shoulder, decrease every row on both sides of the neck for an inch and a half, decrease every other row for the last inch and a half. Create a steek over the back of the neck after the first inch and a half and decrease both the front and the back at the same rate. Start at the bottom of the front steek with half the number of stitches you'll eventually decrease (from the front.)

    In [EPS]( terms, the total neck opening should consume a third of the total number of stitches and one sixth of the total number of stitches three inches before the shoulder seam. But divide everything in half for the front and back to get a usable number.

  • I think my gauge has changed noticeably in the last 4 years, but only the row gauge. I for one find this strange, though there's not much I can do with it except deal with it.

  • This sweater has a number of turned hems, and I've realized a two important facts about knitting turned hems:

    • The conventional instructions say: knit a facing, knit a round of Purl stitches to "turn the hem" and then knit on. (Can be done in reverse, depending on which direction your going.) Don't. Knit two rounds of purl stitches. The turn is much more sharp.
    • Knit the hem facing on two needle sizes smaller than the actual knitting. If you can knit the facing on 80-90% of the number of stitches as well (in some situations this isn't feasible.)
    • Knit the purl stitches with the smaller needle rather than switching to the smaller needle to knit the facing.
    • Knit one more round before joining the hem in than you think you need.
  • If you're knitting with Shetland and not planning to treat your steaks to secure them, steam the steek before cutting. Also, an extra couple of stitches wouldn't hurt. Tragedy was averted, but it was closer than I'd like.

I'll get more notes out (and perhaps elaborations of these points? If there's interest.) after I finish.

New Sweater: Blue and Blue

I started a new sweater because the existing sweater was a bit to heavy and too warm. And I had yarn in the closet that was begging to be knit. This won't be the first sweater I started knitting in August for this reason.

Also, I had the plan for the new sweater all developed and I wanted to get started: I'm an adult and I can do that.

The yarn is Shetland. Harrisville Designs "Midnight," is the darker color, and I'm using some light blue-gray that I got from Webs a few years ago for the contrasting color. Probably the last great mill end from webs. The lighter color came in a 3 pound cone, and I've already made a sweater (a flop) out of the yarn and didn't seem to make much of a dent.

The pattern itself is built around the same snowflake pattern that I've been using (this makes sweater number 4 with the same pattern,) but is the most reminiscent of the first sweater in the series, with some improvements for greater knitability. The effect, I hope, will be reminiscent of cables.

At the time of drafting, I've not yet joined the hem facing and the lower edge. I'll probably post again about this one again after it starts looking like a sweater but before the long slog starts.

Onward and Upward!