Behind Orange Chainlinks

Speaking of pattern lust, I want, want, want  Chainlink NOW!

When it was first released, I was coming out of a phase of knitting too many endless projects – tunics, a man sweater and thigh high stockings – in fingering weight yarn, so didn’t have the heart to cast on. But it was always on my mind, and now I’m ready!

It really is a gorgeous knitting puzzle, as stated in the pattern description. It starts with side strips; next, the front and back triangles are worked (ignoring the dangly vertical ribbing for now). Then the rib portion of the triangles are put on holders, another set of ribs are cast on provisionally, and knitted together with the chainlink pattern and the side strips. All are now worked together in one piece, shaping the diamond outline by decreasing the chainlink section while increasing the stockinette shoulders. Finally shoulders are shaped and bound off. Small triangles are seamlessly added to fill in the gaps between diagonal ribbing at the sides. Then the bottom vertical ribbing chunks are worked, shaping a diagonal edge at the sides, and sewn to their corresponding side strips. Both front and back are worked the same way. Shoulders are sewn, sleeves are picked up and worked downwards, side and sleeve seams are finished. Whew!

triangle

I was very strongly tempted to work as written. Who doesn’t love a juicy, geometric, knitting puzzle that miraculously transforms into a gorgeous garment? However, I was held back by lack of yarn. As always I had bought a limited amount since I hate leftovers, and couldn’t afford to incorporate so much ease (recommended 8 inches, yikes!), as well as waste so many tails in a multitude of pieces. As it is, I may have to cannibalize the swatch. Additionally, I dislike dropped shoulders.

So I’m modifying it to a seamless raglan. First, I omitted the side strips. I made the front and back triangles, then joined them in the round, casting on for strips of vertical ribbing at each side. Since I didn’t like the long, narrow, triangles, I omitted all decreases in those sections, creating broader and shallower triangles. Once the pieces are joined in the round, I continued to increase the chainlink section every alternate row, offsetting the expansion of fabric by consuming the diagonal ribbing in the vertical ribbing at the same rate.

Once that is done, I’m going to throw in some mild waist shaping. A few inches below the underarm, I’ll start generating diagonal ribs, offsetting the increases by consuming the chainlink section at the same rate. Then I’ll bind off the underarms, make sleeves, put everything on one needle and finish like a seamless raglan, throwing in some short rows to shape a scoop neck.

At least, that’s the plan. Should work, right? I hope I have enough yarn for the dangly vertical ribbing, which I’ll knit in one piece each side.

There are lots of knitterly refinements in the pattern, which I’m keeping. For example, sleeve shaping occurs at the centre panel, instead of the side seams. I planning to make lifted increases since I’ll be working them bottom up. To match the eyelet increases in the bottom triangles, the tops have eyelet increases coupled with immediate decreases, and shaping decreases. I’ll keep all that. It’s a little more work, but why not, to get perfectly matched top and bottom triangles? In fact, it’ll just become part of my seamless raglan shaping.

I know this is meant to a loose tunic, and mine is intended to be way more shaped. In one fell swoop I got rid of the ease and the dropped shoulders. But I strongly believe that garments should echo shape of the wearer to be most flattering. If I was more angular, or much more rounded – both cases indicating a less curvy figure – I could carry it off as written. But I have inflexions, and need shaping. All the little puzzle pieces in the pattern exist to form a square-ish shape for the front and back. I don’t need that.

Approaching waist shaping soon. Will keep you posted

Gimme, NOW!

Have you ever experienced pattern lust? When you see a pattern and you have to have it, start it, make it, now, now, now?! My first time was six (!!) years ago, when my knitting mania had just started. I saw Pomatomus, and my brain went NOW!

pom pair

Caution ruled in those early days. Not wishing to invest effort unless I was sure it would pay off,  I would thoroughly research every pattern I decided to knit, through Ravelry projects, Google Blog Search (now dead, alas) even the general internet. I searched under the pattern name, and in conjunction with keywords like “problem” and “difficult” to prepare for possible hurdles. I searched for “yarn” and “finished”. I wanted to be absolutely prepared!

But Pomatomus was different. I found it during a break at work, rushed to a yarn shop on my way home, picked up a suitably blue yarn that seemed the right weight (it wasn’t, but the pattern has enough elasticity to compensate) and greedily started, every knitting cell in my brain saying “NOW”!

I loved making that first sock. By the heel, I had done my usual research and decided to modify the toe to carry on the pattern. A few more nights browsing, and I was inspired by other projects to reverse the scales on the other foot to a Sumotomap.

Pair

But I wasn’t done with the pattern, oh no. I used it for a pair of fingerless gloves in Chiara – the most elegant of yarns, with a fuzzy green mohair halo around a gleaming rayon core – even going to the extent of wrapping the yarn the other way on the second glove so that the twisted rib slanted down in the opposite direction, in perfect mirror image. The thumb gusset grows beautifully, organically, out of the pattern. The edges of the fingers are asymmetrical, to create an arched outline; they are also finished with a tubular bind off, because these gloves are all about refinement. They remind me of waves in Japanese prints, of a line out of Possession where the narrator finds the woodcut of a wolf, “…whose hairs were cut in harmony with the incisive feathering of the trees…”, of what, perhaps, a particularly snobbish Slytherin would wear on their way to plot some deliciously evil activities.

shaping

Imagine my horror then, when I discovered my original socks had disappeared!!! And I had no memory of where to begin searching. I needed to replace them, but had no sock yarn at hand.

Therefore, a cowl. Gloriously squishy and stretchy, each arching stroke drawn with precision. I already love it.

start

Juicy!

Yes, it really is that bright!

Front 01

Another simple v-neck pullover template, filled in with seed stitch chevrons. They sublimate upwards, wispier as they rise. I had planned to work the sleeves in the same pattern, even diligently noting down the row number of the underarm BO so I could match patterns exactly. But the pattern turned out so striking, it would have been a bit too much, I thought, to have it all over the pullover.  Hence the simple stockinette sleeves, with only some garter rib at the cuffs tying it thematically to the pullover’s neck and hem trim.

Must also add: this was a really lazily planned, “oh whatever!” pullover.  I had so much going on in my life while knitting it; I really couldn’t spare the brain space. So I started with a provisional CO, intending to do a folded hem. On a sudden whim I decided to trim the neck in garter rib, so did the same at the hem as well. I also moved all shaping to the side ‘seams’ (this was worked in the round with single garter rib columns up the sides) to avoid dissecting the chevrons.

neck

And here’s a Knitters’ Special Spot the Difference:

sleeves

Yes, correct! I knit one cuff downwards and finished it with an invisible BO for ribbing; the other I started with a tubular CO and knitted upwards! I actually started the first sleeve provisionally in the middle, and meanwhile started using up skein remainders to trim the neck and hem. After that, I weighed all the remaining yarn and the half-done sleeve to calculate exactly how much yarn each sleeve could get. Then the first sleeve was finished downwards; while the second was started at the cuff and continued to the cap. An accurate electronic weighing scale is one of the best tools for knitters!

Details
Pattern: my own, template generated with Custom Fit
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK; 100% merino; 206m = 100g; 4 skeins; “Citrus”
Needles: 3.5mm bamboo circulars
Ravelled: here

Pink Gold Print

I have great envy of people who can come up with snappy names for their projects. I’m just too literal minded… sigh! Therefore, I present: Pink-print-diagonal-empire-top, known as PPDEP to her intimates, for your viewing pleasure.

Front

I’m quite happy with this one, since I managed to get the diagonal empire waist (is there a technical term for this?) at exactly the right height. After some futzing around (through previous, unblogged, very unflattering projects), I’ve discovered the most flattering empire line for me is slightly above the underbust. Otherwise, at the exact underbust level, it looks just too Roman-Matron-Off-To-The-Gladiator-Pits-For-Elegant-Afternoon-Entertainment on me.

PPDEP is also based on the heavily, heavily, tweaked Sew U block. I chopped out the diagonal waistband and cut four pieces out of that piece (two mirrored sets). One for the outside, one for the inside. The ‘skirt’ of the front was cut along the fold, and darts from the original block retained. The front bodice required a bit more thought. I rotated the side dart out into gathers towards the bottom. Then cut a gently curving V neck. And finally, added button bands. The buttonbands and neck were finished with this tutorial (so brilliant!), just as in my navy flowers blouse. Then I overlapped the buttonbands, and sewed them to the diagonal empire waist-band. Pretty little wooden buttons:

buttons

The sleeves have a side split and are three-quarter length. PPDEP’s block is quite well fitted, so much to my disappointment I couldn’t quite pull on her over my head. Instead of subjecting her to violent tugging at each wear, I added an invisible zip at the side. So here we are, another nice little summer top! In rich glowing pink with gold block printing! It’s a regular soft cotton fabric, the sort that floods the local market every summer for people to snap up and run to the family tailor to update their summer wardrobe. I used less than 2m, but didn’t track the yardage exactly.

fabric

Also, this is probably my longest blogging break ever? I had this post written and uploaded, photos taken and filed; all I needed to do upload photos and publish. But the last 20 days have been mind-bogglingly busy for me (in very good ways) and so… no time to blog. I was even too tired to knit! What has everyone else been up to?

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.

full

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:

cuff

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!

buttonband

Side splits:

hem split

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.

buttons

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

cord

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.

full fotor

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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