Technical Tuesday: One REALLY Excellent Book

One of the most invaluable skills I learned about early was yarn substitutions. I was extremely lucky and am very happy the way I went around learning to knit. It was totally on accident as well. I was looking up patterns for my first sweater project when I saw a pattern that I LOVED! I had to have it immediately, but it was only available in the book.
This happened to be Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Seamless Hybrid Sweater. This was published in Knitting without Tears, which was first published June 1971. I went out looking for this book at bookstores; checked if I could order it from Chapters etc. No such luck, it was re-printed 1995 as a Fireside paperback edition. I gave up on bookstores after discovering that some yarn stores carried books (don’t judge me, this was in my knitting infancy). I ended up finding it at the third store I checked and promptly bought it and headed back home. I had already seen the yarn requirements from Ravelry, and wanted to cast on immediately.
If anyone has ever read an EZ pattern, you will know that it is a little more difficult than just casting on 98 stitches and doing the ribbing. On one hand, I had not expected this and was slightly annoyed, but on the other hand, it really made me THINK. It gave me that fundamental understanding of gauge and how it worked. There are instructions on how to measure your store bought sweaters and work with a swatch and those numbers to specifically get the perfect size for yourself!

EZ Knitting without Tears-3779

 

Knowing this now, I always use a witch-crafty combination of checking my actual gauge and what size I want the garment to be and comparing the patterns gauge and what the expected outcomes will be. This might sound confusing, but it allows me to measure a well fitting sweater and figure out how many stitches I would have to cast on (at my current gauge) to get that size. Then I look at the pattern and check if that is a legitimate size.
This process definitely sounds overly complicated, and it totally is. There are much easier ways of checking your gauge, BUT what happens when you have a totally different yarn size and the pattern gauge is just not going to hack it?

EZ Knitting without Tears-3781

I am actually re-writing a pattern for a friend right now. She chose a smaller yarn size than the pattern calls for and it is an all-over cable style. This was not too bad; I just had to take the measurements of the sweater and her gauge swatch and apply it to the pattern. If pattern has to be a multiple of 8 for the cables to work out (I am just using random numbers for the example) and the number of stitches is 200, then you’re golden! It is a little bit trickier with cables, because 8 stitches cabled is not the same as 8 stitches in stockinette; but I digress and there is a formula for that!
I think this book deserves it’s own place in my Technical Tuesday posts, because it built an AMAZING foundation for learning about gauge. If there is one knitting book I would prompt someone to read, it would be this one. Elizabeth Zimmerman was a clever, witty woman and I think I can lay at least part of my open-mindedness in knitting at her door.

The Story of the Dreaded Pocket

I’ll start with my own knitting, then… we will have story time!!
I’ve been plugging away at my knitting, little by little. Working on my Shibui gradient scarf, I have totally forgotten how amazing it is to knit with silk cloud.

Shibui Gradient-2671

It’s not a really common fibre so when I pull it out to work on it everyone goes “ooooooooohh, what’s that?” This is the third gradient scarf I’ve done and I’ve got enough to make another one afterwards. These scarves are the epitome of potato chip knitting. The pattern is free on Ravelry.
You have to hold three strands of this yarn together and knit in a seed stitch. After completing one colour block, you switch out one of the strands for another colour. The pattern is very easy and the yarn is a dream to knit with, so you find yourself saying… just one more stripe. Next thing you know it is 4am and you’ve finished off another season of something on Netflix.

Shibui Gradient-2668

I do have a funny knitting story to tell. A knitting friend, who wished to remain anonymous, came to me with a problem. She was knitting a sweater and could not make heads nor tails about the instructions pertaining to the pocket. I looked at it and had a hard time making it out. The ONLY reason I could tell what the designer was talking about was the fact that I had done this kind of pocket before. Basically, you knit your sweater till the place you want the pocket to be, you cast off stitches for the pocket. On separate needles, you knit a swatch the same amount of stitches as the ones you cast off for the pocket; knit until you have the depth needed for the pocket. At this point, when you’re purling back to the place where you bound off those stitches, you take the swatch that you knit (still with live stitches) and knit it in there. This creates a hole in the front with a flap; later you go back and sew the edges of the flap to the inside of the sweater. You can then put your hand in the hole and have a pocket! Victory!
I explained this, and she caught on; it wasn’t so difficult. The next day, she messaged me, upset and talking about ripping out several inches of knitting. I told her to wait and let me take a look. The way she described it, I didn’t think it would be necessary to rip out stitches. Sure enough, when I looked at it, all the stitches were fine and she had done the pocket totally and completely right. The pocket flap was on the outside of the sweater so she thought she would be sewing it onto the outside. She wasn’t visualizing the technique, but had done everything 100% correct. There was no problem with the knitting.
Afterwards, she felt really silly and that she should have seen that. I told her that I was impressed she had managed to get it right without knowing what the big picture was. That completely astounded me! I couldn’t believe she had followed those instructions without a mental picture of what it was going to look like! When she persisted that she really should have seen it, I said “well… at least you didn’t just rip it out!” The thought galvanized us into some very productive knitting for the rest of our hangout.
I didn’t manage to get any photos, but said friend told me to tell her story! Hopefully it put a smile on your face and gave you a pick-me-up on your Wednesday!

Technical Tuesday: Knit Chevron Blanket

There must be something in the air lately because I am in a real chevron place at the moment. I have been looking at Grumperina’s Jaywalker sock pattern and these chevron baby blankets!

All the patterns I could find for these blankets had been crochet. Now, my crochet is no better now than it was when I first started knitting, but I wanted a knit pattern! Now it seems there are several out there! As soon as I stumbled across the first video, I knew it was meant to be. I am going to have to make one sometime soon.

I completely understand that even if I cannot crochet, the same is not said about others. The next video is for the crocheters! You will find this is a completely croch-hate free blog!

I actually got the chance to meet Michael Sellick and part of the Crochet Crowd gang at the Creativ Festival. They were super friendly and Mike gave me some great advice! I was wildly jealous of their booth, definitely go on over to the Crochet Crowd website and check them out! They’ve even got some knitting content even though crochet is their main topic.

Vampire Barbie Socks

I realize that I may have mentioned before but I have completed the Vampire Barbie socks! I have good photos to share with you now as well as an update of the Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan.

Vamp Socks 1

The Vampire Barbie socks were knit entirely in tiny little pieces. Paul and I carpool to work because we work at the same company. It’s not a particularly long drive to work, but instead of just sitting there, I started working on my socks. I got a shocking amount done while making the seven to ten minute commute to work. I’ve decided any time I am a passenger in a car, I am going to knit I’ve accomplished so much while knitting during a wait time, like at the doctors office or the passport office.

Vamp Socks 2

Since I’ve finished my Vampire Barbie socks and the K/W Knitters Fair is over, there is not a while lot of pressure to finish anything with my own yarn. I cast on a sock from the Knit Circus yarns; the Greatest of Ease base in the colour Over the Rainbow. This was a special colour that was only available for about a month or two? But I heard about it on the Knit Circus podcast Jalaa and Amy do and immediately ordered a couple for myself. I am so in love with this colour way!
It’s a rainbow gradient that goes through all seven colours, yellow to green. There aren’t distinct stripes for each colour either, they are blended together so the sock slowly goes through each colour and starts into the next.

Vamp Socks 3

I am doing them from the cuff down because that is the style I am used to, but I think I might to the next pair from the toe up. It is a great yarn to knit from the toe up and I should really learn how; I’ve been putting it off for far too long. This means I will have to give things a try and figure out which one works the best for me! The gradient yarns from the Knit Circus are the perfect yarn to attempt these on. You always want to use every inch of the yarn and I have some sock yarn I bought from VKL Chicago 2013 that I haven’t used yet. I better get them knitted before the show this year.

Stripes 2

I have been trying to make it out the Purple Purl’s social knitting night because I really miss having a group of knitters to talk to. It’s like reading a really excellent book and having no one to talk about it with. I went for the first time last week and they happened to have the perfect buttons for my Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan; I’ve never seen bright yellow mother of pearl buttons, but they are PEREFECT for this sweater. I was so happy about finding them.
I managed to get some knitting done on the Crazy Stripe Cardi; it felt like I was on the very end of the left side forever. I think I actually knit it a little too long, but I have faith I can block that out… along with the coffee stains. I did manage to spill my coffee all over the place once while working on this, on the pattern and the sweater itself.

Stripes 2

Since I am close to done the Crazy Stripe Cardi I am looking for my next project. I think I am going to knit something from the Shibui Baby Alpaca yarn I got from VKL Chicago 2013. I would really love to have most of the things I bought there all knit up for this time. That way I can go to the booths I visited last year and show them my awesomeness. I think I want to find some kind of drapey cardigan pattern. The yarn is mostly alpaca which means it is soooooo soft, but it will stretch as I wear it. I can’t do anything form fitting because it won’t stay that way. I am thinking some kind of comfy sweater that will be amazingly soft to wear. I am still searching for a good pattern so all advice is welcome. The yarn is a DK weight so a pattern calling for that size yarn would be preferable, but if there is a pattern that is perfect, I’ll do the math to sub in this yarn! Send it to me regardless!!

Functional Friday: Stripes Gone Crazy by Atelier Alfa

I told you the story about finding this pattern on Wednesday, and I have actually knit quite a bit of it. So far I have only had to frog it once, and I’ll let you know about that on a Monday Mishaps post. This pattern comes in a set of three, so I grabbed all of them.

Stripes Gone Crazy One

The one I really wanted to knit was the cardigan with the asymmetrical stripes. Usually asymmetry doesn’t work well with my brain, but I was looking for something different, what could be more different than a cardigan worked from the top down with stripes that slowly widen on only one side?

 

I didn’t know this when I started but the stripes are made larger and smaller by doing short rows. Now my short rows are a little rusty, but I managed to make it work. Once I remembered how to do a short row invisibly.
There are a few tutorials on the pages about how to do short rows and a couple tips that would make it easier. I really liked that Atelier added in all these small boxes with legends and diagrams to help keep you on track. When you are widening the one side of the sweater, there is a small photo that shows you what it should be looking like; it even has the stitch markers you place visible. She also puts the break down of stitches in the pattern. I could not have asked for a more useful tool.

Stripes Gone Crazy Three

I am not really sure what happened, I much have been doing my increases on the wrong side of the markers, but at some point I got off track. I was able to count how many stitches should have been in the first front piece, sleeve, back, sleeve and second front. I was EXTREMELY lucky in the face that I didn’t mess up the total amount of stitches but just managed to move them around a little bit.
One thing I didn’t like about this sweater are the short rows for the increases for shoulders. To me, this feels a bit excessive and I would have preferred to do a raglan increase or something, but I do believe I am biased on this point. This is the place where I messed up my stitch count and had to shift the stitches; and my stitches could be more even in these places. I didn’t do the best job I could have so I am mad at that part of the pattern.
The pattern is very well organized and colour coded. There were a couple bumpy spots which I am going to email about, but I really found it great that there was a clear divide between the size instructions. There were parts where the instructions were together and there had to be slashes between the different amounts of stitches. I did really like that the patterns for XS, S and M were together on one pattern and L, XL and XXL were on a completely different pattern. I feel that if they were in the same sheet, it would have been excessively long. When you buy the pattern you get all the sizes, but they are in two separate files. The math for each size is different so each size needs its own dedicated section.

Stripes Gone Crazy Two

Otherwise, I think Atelier must be a math genius because everything works out just so. This is one of the few patterns I do not dare to change… at all. There was a section that said ‘to add some length or shorten, add or remove more rows’ so I definitely added rows. Most cardigans are a little short for my liking and I always add in a bit, I am not sure about this one though, I may have needed more. I will have to wait till I am done in order to see.
I don’t want to post a whole lot of photos about it because I want to post a good finished object photo! So everyone can get the full effect all at once!