When You Really Love a Cable

I swatched some of the pretty Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed a few weeks ago. It makes such a good fabric, wonderfully light, and with that matte integrity that tweeds seem to acquire after blocking.

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I’m thinking of a compound raglan pullover, bottom up, the raglan lines marked with — you guessed it — these slipped stitch cables from my last pullover.

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The sweater is going to be stockinette with lace on the front and shaping on the back only. Perhaps a deep, scooped neck. We’ll see.

I found a lace pattern called “Wolf’s Claw” from an old pattern book, but the text-only instructions were mind-boggling. They were a mad jumble of wrn, fully written out left decreases, and other horrors. So I tried to figure out the lace pattern by electronically annotating over the accompanying photograph:

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I’m happy to say I got only two rows wrong! Well, actually, the same row wrong twice, since the pattern alternates diagonally.

Now to figure out how to actually knit the whole thing…

As Beautiful As I Imagined It

 

It is done! I think this is my most well travelled knitting, started in London, knitted in Bangkok, finished in Johannesburg and photographed in Nairobi. It is everything I imagined it to be, elegant and casual, warm and light. And beautiful!

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I wanted a non-baggy drop shouldered pullover, with gentle side shaping and a hi-lo hem. With saddles starting at the  shoulder …

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…and running down the sleeves.

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I’m planning to write up a pattern eventually, so watch this space if you’re interested!

Details
Yarn: Lana Grossa Chiara, 7.5 skeins
Needles: 3.0mm for ribbing; 4.0mm for the rest (held lever style for effective needle size of 3.5mm)
Ravelled: here

The Vision of a Pullover

I’m joining in the #fringeandfriendskal2016, are you? It’s the first time I’ve ever done a knit-along, and it came about because there is absolutely no pressure. There is no specified pattern, yarn, or designer, no Ravelry group or email list to sign up on, no pre-conditions of swatching. In other words: my kind of knit-along. I may have just mentioned here and there that a demanding job requires my knitting life be exactly the opposite. As soon as there are conditions attached to any knitting, I lose all interest. So this KAL is perfect! As long as it’s a sweater, worked top down, within the time frame, it’s a valid entry. I’m in!

What I really love about this particular KAL is the little condition that no existing patterns may be used. Knitting allows so much creativity and scope for customisation, it always dismays me to read of others who are too intimidated to modify a pattern. It’s just yarn! Make it do what you want to do!

Although the KAL does not allow an existing pattern, it certainly doesn’t dissuade you from having a plan — as detailed or on-the-fly as you like. Here’s mine:

Concept
I wanted an elegant pullover, with subtle patterning. Something neutral enough to wear incorporate into my existing wardrobe of colour, but not so boring that it looks like it came from RTW. Most of all, this needs to be a working sweater, not matter how beautiful, hence long sleeves (because if it’s cold enough for me to need woollens, it’s cold enough to need long sleeved woollens) and a scooped neck (I’m busty).

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Yarn
Longtime readers will know that I love colour. Although I am (grudgingly) ceding to the need for a few neutrals to tie my colourful items together, I still cannot bear to wear a neutral colour, in a basic silhouette, which is also unfitted. Something’s got to give, and in this case it was the yarn. Yes it’s black/grey. But what a black/grey! A core of molten, metallic rayon, surrounded by a halo of mohair. It’s fluid and supple, yet warm and cosy. It’s good for winter parties and work meetings. It’s plain enough for the day but special enough for evenings. Basically, it’s perfect. (It’s also my first yarn love and the reason I joined Ravelry).

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Design Details
I love modern dropped shoulder silhouettes. No ugly, bulky, 80’s shapes here — the fabric is drapey, shoulders are shaped and drop only a little bit past the shoulder, the neck is scooped, the sides are slightly flared and  the hem is hi-lo. It is, in fact, to the exact dimensions of my Natsumi which fits perfectly, but this one is worked top down instead of side-to-side.

But a stockinette sweater still looks un-special, so there will be three narrow cables down the front, spreading apart gently. And once I’d decided that, how could I not have narrow saddles, with the same cables running from neckline to cuff?

Secrets of Structure
All great knits have structural secrets doing behind-the-scenes heavy work, while still looking effortless. Like gymnasts. Or great underwire bras. Or cantilevered bridges. My sweater will have:

Increases, decreases and increases on the front. One set of paired increases and decreases will rapidly widen the triangular wedges between the pattern strips, without changing the overall stitch count. Another set of increases will gradually widen the sides, to match the back. In the exploded view below, the turquoise dots show the paired increases and decreases that separate the pattern strips. All orange dots show increases to shape the sides and neck openings.

I thought of having a single set of increases  on the front do the double duty of widening the triangles and forcing the sides out to match the back, but was stumped by my deeply scooped neck which had a very small flat area at the bottom of the ‘U’. Barely 20 stitches, which was not enough to contain the pattern strips and their separators. So my pattern strips start out with only a single purl stitch between them, but rapidly acquire knit and purl separators; matching decreases ensure that the stitch count does not change. Meanwhile, the sides slowly flare out matching the back.

The pink dots along the sleeve seams show shaping decreases.

So many short rows. This is meant to be hi-lo, not ridiculously-hi-somewhat-lo. So there will be bust shaping short rows to add length to the front only, just below the neck. Yes, right there on the front with the two different rates of increases and decreases going on already. All the short row points are yellow dots: they shape the shoulders, curve the front and back, and add extra length to the front only.

Tubular BO. Because binding off ribbing in pattern is just ugly.

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Knitting Process and Direction
1. and 2. Work saddles, centering a single pattern strip on each.
3. Pick up and knit one back shoulder, short row to shape. Increase for neck. Repeat on other side, CO stitches for the centre of the neck and join to other shoulder. Work down with increases and short rows.
4. Do the same on the front, except keep track of way more things.
5. and 6. Pick up stitches from back, knit across saddle, pick up stitches from front. Work to cuff with shaping.
7. Pick up and knit stitches around neck, rib for a couple of inches.

Of course, pretty pictures aren’t much help in the actual knitting. Here’s what the hardworking diagram looks like, before being converted to actual stitch counts:

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Whew, better return to the knitting!

Rocaille Socks

… are done!

Love them. I continued the ribbing pattern all the way to the toe for better continuity. Hopefully, the slipped stitch sole will help these last longer, given that this yarn is intended for baby clothes rather than socks!

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Details
Pattern: Rocaille
Yarn: Lanas Stop Prima Merino, 2 balls
Needles: 2.25mm
Ravelled: here

Sock in Progress

A quick post: I started with the Rocaille Socks from The Knitters Book of Socks.

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Great book, great pattern. I’m substituting a regular slipped stitch heel instead of the afterthought heel in the pattern, and also continuing with the slipped stitches along the sole and gussets as I have before.

Despite the heavy cabling, the pattern is quite addictive, and if I had a long weekend I could have probably finished the pair. But I don’t have a long weekend. Sigh.

La Bella

The Arabella is done!

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I’ve written about it before, so not much more to add. I started with a Brooklyn Tweed pattern size and merged it with a CustomFit generated neck, yoke and sleeves for best fit.

I do think it would have looked more structured in a woollen spun yarn, and find that the superwash, worsted spun, Tosh Merino Light makes an almost floppy garment because of its unusual length. But it’s still pretty. I did have to alternate skeins, though to prevent flashing.

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Also, the quaker ridging pattern is completely hidden in the variegation of the yarn; but I’ll live with it. Overall, am quite happy with this one!

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Details
Pattern: Arabella
Yarn: Madelinetosh Merino Light; 3.5 skeins; “Pecan Pie”
Ravelled: here

Natsumi

Or, fitting straight lines on non-straight figures.

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So pretty!! There’s something so light and refined about this colour, which perfectly complements the restrained cable, delicate lace and elegant lines of Natsumi. I won’t spend too much time describing how perfect this pattern is, over 200 people have done so already. However, let’s talk about my mods.

First, I knew I had to change it to a scoop neck. The boat neck, although elegant, would have been really unflattering on me. So I calculated the BO, CO and decrease rates (since this is worked side to side), and threw in a 1×1 ribbed trim to match the cuffs and hem.

I also lowered the pattern strip so that the bottom lies a little above the underbust, which I thought would be the most flattering position. This means that the sleeves come only halfway through the pattern strip …

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… but structurally, this makes no difference.

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Then I did some thing clever, which I’m quite proud of. I added a line of shaping along the top of the pattern strip on the front only. This gave me more fabric to accommodate my scoop neck, and, crucially, pushed the strip down in a very gentle U shape. On a flat garment it looks distorted, but on the body…

 

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… straight!! I had nine extra stitches in the centre of the garment thanks to the shaping, without which the strip would have curved upwards and made me an unwitting model for that elegantly named phenomenon, waist boobz. 

Apart from that: reduced overall ease to 7inches at upper bust (= 4 inches at full bust), made full length sleeves, and threw in 1×1 ribbing everywhere, finishing those with tubular bind-offs. Oh and added about an inch of short rows to each side bottom, to create a more swingy, a-line shape.

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I think that’s all; I love the design, the colour and the yarn.

Details
Pattern: Natsumi by Yoko Hatta
Needles: 4.0mm for all (lever style); 3.5mm for ribbing.
Yarn: TML “Dusk”; 2.5 skeins
Ravelled: here

Endless Summer

What on earth made me do two fingering weight sweaters in a row?! Nearly a month and only the body is done; who’s going to do the sleeves and hem ribbing ? What was I thinking? Why could possibly have driven me to do this?!

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Ah yes.

The unbelievably pretty colour…

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… and the exquisite pattern.

Oh well. Carry on.