Navy Flowers

I finally sewed after a long time; I think the last time I touched my machine was in January? To tell the truth, the whole Robson process had exhausted me a little mentally, so I just didn’t want to sew for a while.

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Now then. This is a top based on my ancient sloper, which is a modified-beyond-all-recognition version of the Sew U Shirt. The sleeves and armscyes I substituted from the Colette Laurel, but I added a bit of fabric to the front curves of both, because the original pulled uncomfortably tight. I took out a lot of the curve from the back shoulder of the sleeve, but probably could take out a bit more since it’s still puffy. I didn’t do the front vertical darts, and also straightened out the waist curve, so I could have more fabric for gathering. The fabric is about 1m of regular cotton, nothing special.

Features!

Gathered cuffs:

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Beautiful inner meeting of neckband and buttonband. I followed the instructions from Grainline studio and it turned out perfect! I had always approached V necks with reluctance before, despite the fact they look flattering on me, since I could never cut a neck+buttonband with the V swerving off at exactly the correct angle. There was always some excess fabric to be discretely tucked and folded away. But this method uses a bias strip for the neck and all the raw edges fold inside so neatly!

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Side splits:

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Flower buttons! The main print has giant flowers, so I thought, why not? Also, I think this is the first time I’ve made buttonholes with my machine. They came out pretty well, and I can’t imagine why I was so full of trepidation about the capacity of my machine before.

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Finally, a channel for the cord, which itself was made of some slippery fabric so it would slide smoothly.

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I really like this! The colour makes it a basic neutral, but the print and buttons relieve it from being boring. It’s great as a casual summer top.

Red Silk Cocoon

Done! I made no significant changes except to generate the basic cardigan with CustomFit. This required some number massaging for the sleeves, since the cocoon stitch needs about 10% more than stockinette for the same gauge. I used a button-band allowance of -6”, with neck depth at 5” below underarm.

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The pattern features a clever built in front-band, which I continued to the back of the neck.

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My only regret was not buying a 5th skein of yarn. After finishing one sleeve, I weighed the remnants and there was clearly not enough for the second sleeve, let alone ties. So I had to do a bit of nip tuck on the first sleeve to harvest enough yarn for the second. The hems were finished with some Cascade 220 (“Cordovan”). I had initially intended to use “Red Wine Heather”, but it didn’t look good. Better an obvious contrast than a bad match, right?

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The main yarn, Dream in Color Classy, was peculiar. While making my last two sweaters a few weeks ago, I found it soft and strong; but this time it was much rougher with significant thin patches. And there seems to be no variegation at all, just a single strong colour. Probably an older batch?

Anyway, quite happy with this cardigan!

Details
Pattern: Silk Cocoon Cardigan, Interweave Knits Spring 2009
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy; 100% merino; 229m = 113g; “Cinnamon Girl”; 4 skeins. Cascade 220 Heathers “Cordovan”; 25m.
Needles: 3.5mm for 4 rows of sleeve; 5mm for everything else, worked lever style
Ravelled: here

Nightblooms and Seedpods

Is done!

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A V-neck pullover generated with CustomFit, average fit. Except that it turned out more like relaxed fit. I’ve lost a bit of weight – or rather, re-distributed weight – with new classes, so the upper torso measurements are slightly off and the sweater is a bit too loose in the shoulder and bicep area. Never mind, I’ll just wear it over something else in winter.

Other than that, I love this sweater! This is exactly the kind of knitting I like, simple shapes with a touch of wow. The lace pattern is out of a pattern dictionary, and I kept the three columns half out of phase with each other. The middle column splits at the V-neck and is decreased away. The decrease points then move outside the outer pattern repeats, ‘eating’ the stockinette section till the shoulder. Then the pattern continues in ‘straps’ to the back of the neck, ending in a beautifully symmetrical  3-needle bind off.

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Hems and cuffs are finished with lining in fingering weight wool, because I used up every bit of the main yarn.

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Details
Pattern: my own, base generated with CustomFit
Yarn: Madelinetosh DK; 100% wool; 206m = 100g; 4 skeins; “Night Blooms”. Few metres of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine for lining.
Needle: 3.5mm bamboo for everything
Ravelled: here

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Blooming Sweater in Progress!

The body of my Nightblooms and Seedpods pullover (so named after the yarn colour and stitch pattern) is done and sleeves have been started. I would say that the fully stockinette sleeves should go really fast, but that would jinx things terribly, so I won’t.

It’s a simple stockinette pullover with three repeats  of a beautiful botanical stitch pattern, out of a Japanese dictionary, in the centre. I did a careful row count before starting and placed the starting row of the stitch pattern so that the v-neck split would occur exactly where the pattern itself splits into a V shape. An applied i-cord finishes the neck.

The middle column is exactly half out of phase with the others. I felt it would create more visual interest to have the seedpods staggered rather than in a row.

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The simplest way to knit this would have been to write out two pattern repeats next to each other, but of course I was too lazy and instead wrote down two columns of row numbers (one for each out-of-phase repeat), which made things a bit maddening. But it got done, eventually.

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I may end up with not quite enough yarn for full or even three-quarter sleeves, meaning I’ll have to take out one pattern repeat from the bottom of the sweater. Sigh!

 

 

New Places

I was all set to finish the Silk Cocoon cardigan when I discovered I wouldn’t have enough yarn. I also had a trip coming up, so decided to console myself with some new travel knitting. Bamboo circulars, wound skeins, mostly stockinette, and I’m set for air travel and mind-numbed-by-meetings knitting!

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The ‘pattern’ is my own, so simple and basic that I’d rather call it a ‘template’. An average fit pullover generated with CustomFit, a stitch motif from a Japanese dictionary for a bit of interest up the front. Perhaps up the sleeves too? I’ll decide while making them. I love no pressure knitting!

Golden Dusseldorf

I really like this one, even though it has much more ease than I usually wear. I generated a relaxed fit with CustomFit, and since I’ve lost a bit of weight it appears looser than usual. But I think that goes very well with its intended cosy, slouchy-yet-shaped deep winter intent.

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Lots of people over on Ravelry asked how to generate this with CustomFit so I’ll list the details here. It’s reasonably simple, although you do need to do a few calculations for the front.

Generate a relaxed fit, long-sleeved, narrow V-necked pullover. Work the back as written, making sure that the CO number is 4x+2. That way you’ll start with kk,pp,kk,pp,…,kk and you’ll get a smooth kkpp multiple once the pieces are sewn up and two k stitches consumed at each seam. Work the sleeves as detailed here. Remember to go through the pattern and change all the milestone stitch counts to reflect your additional stitches. Increase a few BOs at the top of the sleeve cap to remove the additional stitches.

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The front requires a bit more thought. First, make sure you start with not just 4x + 2 stiches, but specifically 4x(odd number) + 2 stitches. This will ensure you get a pp column between the cable panels. If you start with a 4x(even number) + 2 stitch CO, then you’ll end up with a ppkkpp column in the middle. Add or subtract up to 4 stitches to get a 4xodd+2 stitch count, noting how many stitches you added or subtracted.

On the penultimate ribbing row (which will be a WS) add 10% to whatever had been your CustomFit suggested stitch count, in order to compensate for cable compression. (Remember, you are aiming to start the stockinette section with 110% of the initial CustomFit stitch count, not 110% of the number you actually cast on to get the correct stitch multiple.) Make two of these increases in the central ‘rope’ of each panel, and distribute the rest equally in the stockinette sections.

Eg: Say your CustomFit CO stitch count was 92. So 110% of that is approximately 102 stitches – this is the number of stitches you want at the start of the stockinette section. However, at your CO, your ribbing needs to be 4xodd+2. So you start with 94 (= 4×23 +2) and work 2×2 ribbing as long as you need to. When you start the stockinette section you want 102 stitches (which is ~ 110% of 92, not 94). So you need to increase 102 (intended stitch count) – 94 (actual stitch count) = 8 stitches evenly. Make two of these increases in what will become the central ‘rope’ of each cable panel (as explained in the sleeve post) and the remaining four stitches as two increases per side in what will become stockinette in the following row.

Then go through the pattern, changing milestone stitch counts as per your changed counts.

Work in pattern till the neck. Before starting the neck do the following calculations.

Number of stitches on each side of neck split = A
Number of stitches removed at each armscye = B
Number of shoulder stitches on back piece = C
Number of stitches in cable panel = D
Ie, number of decreases needed = E = A – (B+C+D) -1
(The last -1 is so that you end up with one more stitch on the back shoulder than the front shoulder (not including the collar). The extra stitch on the back is used for seaming the collar which continues to the nape).

Number of rows available for neck decreases = F (add row counts from CustomFit pattern, neck to armhole + armhole to shoulder shaping)
Distribute the total number of decreases (E) over the number of available rows (F) to get your neck decrease rate.

Finally the knitting! Work armscyes as directed. Make neck decreases in the stockinette section just outside the cable panels. Once shoulder shaping is complete, BO only the stockinette stitches and m1 on the collar, away from the neck edge. Work this extra stitch in stockinette – it will be used to seam the collar with the extra seam stitch on the back neck.

Continue working the cable panel till the centre back, throwing in a couple of short rows so that it curves at the back neckline. Join cable panels from both sides of the neck at the centre back, and seam in place. Finish the entire neckline with an applied i-cord, picking up 3 stitches every 4 rows on the front, and 2 stitches every 3 rows on the back.

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Details
Pattern: Dusseldorf Aran
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy; 100% merino; 229m = 113g; worsted weight; “Gold Experience”; 4.45 skeins
Needles: 3.5mm for ribbing, 5mm for rest, worked lever style
Ravelled: Here

 

Golden Fans – Dusseldorf Aran Sleeves

Here’s how I changed the sleeve cuffs of my Dusseldof Aran.

The pattern as written consists of a section of mostly stockinette in the centre of the cuff which is pleated shut after a few inches. I-cords emerge from the cables just above the pleats and are tied into a bow, as if they had been used to gather the pleats. It’s a very pretty and unique effect, but I knew I’d have to modify it to reduce the bulk of the pleats and the excess fabric at the cuffs.

Replacing Pleats with Decreases
Fortunately, I didn’t have to spend too much time thinking about how to reduce the pleats; I used the technique in this excellent blog post instead.  The answer is elegantly simple: form a fan or shell shape with the ribs by starting with k2p8 chunks, and then decrease in each purl section every four rows till you’re left with a k2p2 rib from which the cable pattern can flow out.

I made my ‘fan’ even shorter by starting with k2p7, thereby eliminating four rows. To neaten the edge, I worked the first four rows with a needle a couple of sizes smaller than the rest of the sleeve. For additional refinement, I cast on with a modified long-tail, which incorporates knit and purl stitches in any desired combination, described here.

Reducing Excess Fabric
Even after substituting the fan for pleats, there is still excess fabric at the cuffs since the fan structure is in addition to the main stockinette of the sleeve. To compensate I started with the same number of CO sts as needed for my CustomFit generated pattern plus 10% to account for cable compression. I positioned the fan in the centre, and then made compensatory increases in the stockinette sections every time I decreased within the fan. These compensatory increases were in addition to the regular sleeve shaping increases of the CustomFit instructions.

All this is much easier to explain with a picture:

Cuff Fan 1

Red pins – fan shaping decreases every four rows
Blue pins – compensatory increases in stockinette section to maintain width of sleeve, immediately after the red rows. Note (important!) that in the last blue pin row, two of the compensatory increases are made in the middle of the cable pattern – this helps form the central ‘rope’ of the cable.
White pins – regular sleeve shaping increases.

And finally, here’s what it looks like at the end:

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A Golden Beginning

The last ten days, I managed to finish another sweater. I know! What it is to knit with worsted weight yarn! It was the Dusseldorf Aran, and of course there were mods. Let us honour tradition by starting with a pattern analysis.

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Love!
– Those cables.
– The long vertical lines formed by the cables.
– The intriguing sleeve cuff: two i-cords appear to emerge from the cables, out of the plane of the sweater, and are then tied into a bow.

Lose!
– The seed stitch hems and cuffs.
– The puffy, pleated cuffs – too bulky.
– The scoop neck. I am usually a lover of scoop necks, but decided to prolong the lives of the cables a  little longer.

Fixed!
I generated a relaxed fit pullover with CustomFit, because I intend to wear this over other layers. The hems were easy, I swapped in a tubular CO of k2p2 ribbing for four rows, then increased by 10% while changing to stockinette, to account for cable compression. On the sleeves, I did a version of long-tailed CO which creates the desired combination of knits and purls from the beginning. Oh and found a way to eliminate the pleats and still retain the design essentials. I’ll write in detail about that in a separate post. Finally, I changed it to a V-neck, continuing the cable panels up around the back neck to meet at the centre of the nape. I changed the cables a tiny bit too, adding an extra twist to the central ‘rope’ at the knot. And mirrored the central ‘rope’ on the two front panels, and the sleeves as well. The back is in plain stockinette, except where the neckband extensions from the front travel to the nape.

Hmm, that’s all, I think! It all went by in a blur while listening to an audiobook version of Ayala’s Angel by Trollope. I do like it!