Beatnik Hoodie



I feel I’ve been writing about this forever, starting from:

Harem Rotation
Beginning Beatnik
Prove Beatnik = Hoodie (20% of total marks)
Elves in Space
Some Steekery


I really do like my Beatnik; it proves my point that as long as a garment echoes the wearer’s shape, ease doesn’t make that much of a difference to the fit or flattery. This was made with a large amount of ease – for me – 4″ in many places. But because it follows my body’s shape, it appears well fitting.

I’m happy with all my mods except for a slight puffiness at the top of the head. Lesson learnt!


Pattern: Beatnik from Knitty Deep Fall 2010.
Yarn: Berroco Blackstone Tweed; 65% Wool, 25% Mohair, 10% Angora; 119m = 50g; listed as Aran weight but feels like worsted; “Plum Island”; every bit of 10 skeins
Needles: 3.5mm for rib, 4mm everywhere else. With a plain stockinette sweater, I could probably have increased the needle size – the stitches look like they can bloom and expand up a little more.
Mods: made in the round, changed shaping, split neck with steek, added hood, sleeves in stockinette, sleeves are set in while knitting, narrow saddles travel along shoulders and up the hood.



Some Steekery

1. Hood and steek, just before the top of the hood was knitted.

hood + steek

2. First line of crochet binding. Finally I’m using ‘sticky’ enough yarn to do a crocheted steek! Previously I’ve had to sew — by hand or machine — to secure edges.

31 single steek

3. Second crochet line. Find all you want to know about steeks here, here and here.

33 double steek whole

4. See how they open up like a valley?

32 double steek

5. Cut!

34 cut

6. Wash the sweater and block out cables to desired plumpness.

39 hood blocked

7. Pick up and knit rib

35 rib pick up

8. I made tulips buttonholes – so invisible!

352 buttonhole

9. Steam steeks flat inside the sweater.

36 steek folded

10. Sew them down neatly.

362 steek whip

11. Because I didn’t add a BO row for stability when starting the hood, I’m crocheting a chain across the shoulders and hood. This is the WS…

37 sew reinforcement

12. …And this is the RS. It blends in very nicely in real life.

38 sewn RS

13. Sew buttons with felt backing for durability. 

367 buttons

All done, FO pics soon!

Elves in Space

The Beatnik hood is knitted, but will it fit? This is the maddening and alluring thing about steeks, you never know if the garment be perfect or horrid until after cutting, at which point the yarn is unsalvageable. But let us be brave and trust in Gauge and Calculations.

Knitted hoods usually come in two flavours . They are either:

a)   Round and clingy, following the curve of the lower skull, fitting tightly around the head and framing the face. This makes the wearer look oddly hairless, as if they were preparing to be strapped into a space suit. Of course, a sweater designed to seal in body heat must stay close to the face, but there’s no need to cling so tightly that a phrenologist may be able to work through it.

b)  Drapey and pointy, in the style made trendy by the high elves out of Lothlorien. Excess fabric drapes gracefully down and pools around the shoulders. The crown is sometimes sharply pointed, but with so much fabric that even the point arcs downwards. Very costumey and — more to the point — so much more knitting to do!

I find both ends of the hood spectrum equally undesirable and wanted a happy medium. A rounded crown and moderate roominess; some heat-sealing around the face but not a vacuum sealed appearance. I think I mostly succeeded, although there are a couple of puffy bits at the back of the head, showing I should have done the crown shaping sooner.

Here’s how to calculate one for yourself:

Measure horizontally around the widest part of your skull = A.
Measure how wide you want the face opening to be = B.
How wide is your edging going to be? C. (I’m going to add about 3/4″ in ribbing)
How wide is the existing front panel? D. (front panel = sts carrying on upward from the fronts of the cardigan + shoulders)
Half length of the hood, from shoulder to the middle of the top of the head (where a middle parting would be) = T
Half horizontal width of the top of the hood, measured in a straight line from above one ear to the middle parting = H
Half hood vertical height = T-H +1inch (for ease) = V

1. With the above information, calculate the back of the hood, at the widest point should be E = A – (B + 2C + 2D)

2. Knit the garment up to the point where you want the hood to attach. Decide how you’re going to add the very necessary reinforcement to the base of the hood. Some patterns have you bind off back neck sts and then pick them up on the next row. I’m going to add sewn reinforcing, so I’ll just keep knitting.

3. Look at the sts you have at the back of your sweater. If you are planning to attach the hood at the middle of the shoulder, then you may already have E width of stitches at the back. But if you’ve knitted your sweater up to crew neck level, your back neck stitches are going to be less than E.

4. If you don’t have E width, calculate, using your gauge, how many stitches you need to add to the back to bring it to E width . If you have E width, you just work straight up, so skip to step 6.

5. If you do have to add some sts to the back neck (ie, your back neck sts were less than E), add them at a very quick rate, even as much as 6 sts per row, if your pattern allows. I added them by increasing the reverse stockinette section between the back cable and shoulder saddle. If you don’t add them quickly, the hood will cling to the curve of the lower skull, which is a look I don’t like. See how the reverse stockinette increases dramatically in the few rows above the shoulder?

21 hood inc

6. Once all sts are added, calculate how much length you need to reach V-1″ and work these rows straight. It should now look like this:

22 Back of hood

7. In the next one inch, decrease away extra sts added, in the same sections you added them in step 5. If you didn’t add any sts because you were starting with a broad circumference at the bottom, you still have to decrease until you’re left with front panel (D)+actual back neck width+front panel (D) sts.  At the end of this step, your hood will be V inches high with only D + actual back neck width + D stitches left.

8. Starting from the face opening edge, work across one front panel, working the last stitch of the panel together with nearest stitch from the back. Turn, slip the first stitch and work back to the face opening edge. Continue till half the back sts have been consumed. Then break the yarn and repeat the process with the other front panel and the remaining back sts.

9. When all back sts have been consumed, graft the two front panels together at the top of the head or join with a 3 needle BO. The top of the hood now looks like this:

23 top of hood

The stockinette panels from the saddle shoulders and the remainder of the front cable have met at the top of the head.

10. Wash, block, add finishing to the edge and admire your hood!

24 final hood back

(Confession: because mine was steeked, my last step was different. More pics soon!

Prove Beatnik = Hoodie (20% of total marks)

“Beatnik” is so out of my vocabulary context, I can’t even think of cheesy puns for a title. Should I change it to Hipster instead? But this sweater is turning out rather nice, not at all hipster-prompted eye-roll worthy.

I wrote a lot about the shaping decisions I make in my last post, so won’t go into all those details again. I did more or less what I always do, with the significant exception of not adding short rows to the bust shaping (Shocking, I know!). That’s mainly because I’m making this with significant positive ease (Double shocking, I know!), since I believe a thick, cabled, tweedy sweater should be large enough to wear over other layers in the dead of winter, when from the moment you step out of your quilt to the time you crawl under it again, your room and food and water and books and furniture and door handles and cosmetics and utensils and keyboard and other people’s hands and your own fingers are C-O-L-D.

When we were in senior classes in school and in college, we had tons of complicated proofs in exams. These proofs and equations rule a large chunk of human life since they’re used as basis for decisions taken by government policies, telephone exchanges, traffic lights and other equally important but arcane stuff. Of course it isn’t possible to memorise these long proofs. Instead, we were taught to remember significant turning points in the proof, where you say: because X is known to be Y under Z conditions, we can now say A = B. These turning points would move the equations towards the proof you were aiming for, and everything between the turning points could be filled in with logic and quick thinking.

So, sweaters are something like that. Make the correct decisions at the significant turning points and the wip will move inexorably towards a good and flattering garment.

With that I present: Important Turning Points in My Beatnik

1. Set up to work in the round – side ‘seams’ are purl columns.

2. Prepare and execute steek – BO the central cable of the central panel and CO a few sts over the gap in the next round, continuing the steek to the top of the head.


3. Define sleeve cap shaping – my sleeves are set in, and knitted together with the body. I mostly followed instructions from here, except that I did saddle shoulders. The caps and saddles are defined with a column of twisted stitches on each side.


4. Deal with horizontal flare – after the shoulders are shaped (back and forth knitting) with short rows, the saddles are knitted back and forth, joining them to the shoulder stitches at the end of each saddle row by ‘eating’ one stitch from the Front and Back, alternately . However, this means the cables flare horribly at the top, with no cabling to keep them narrow and dimentionally plump. So on the last row of shoulder shaping I reduced all the stitches in the side cables by 1/3 (ie, k1, k2tog, repeat).

If all this talk of equations has convinced you I’m cool and logical, I’m NOT!! I’m horribly superstitious about jinxing my knitting with public declarations about future plans, and didn’t blog all this while simply because I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough yarn for a hood. Now that maybe, perhaps, if all goes well, fingers-crossed, it seems that I do, I can show a picture, and promise to discuss the hood in detail the next time!


Beginning Beatnik


Beatnik is now on my needles and the flecky, tweedy, cabled surface is just as gorgeous as I had planned it to be.

The sweater is nearly one-third done, and of course I have modifications. I considered the:

  1. Practicality – of having a thick, cabled, sweater in a wool/angora blend with only ¾ sleeves. Not very useful. I’m not going to wear this sweater unless it’s cold, which means long sleeves. But with long sleeves, there would be a too-much-ness of texture and colour and heavy fabric – so I also changed the…
  2. Neckline – into a V-neck. I do adore the folded over collar though, so may do a similar edging around the V-neck. To keep things simple, I’m …
  3. Working in the round – setting in sleeves seamlessly as I go, and steeking the neck. Pictures will follow! Converting this to in-the-round is really easy since the cable panels remain the same and size differences are made up with the moss stitch sections at each side.

And finally, the swatch and knitting, arm-in-arm:


See the difference in horizontal stretch? It is really, really necessary to do a swatch incorporating most of the cable patterns used, when preparing for a thickly cabled sweater like this, particularly if you’re modifying sizing. Using the swatch, I calculated how wide the total cable sections would be, and then used gauge readings from the moss stitch section to calculate side shaping and length according to my measurements.

The yarn is Berocco Blackstone Tweed in “Plum Island”. I was amazed that my camera managed to capture the colour, since it’s had so much trouble with purples before. It is a beautiful yarn, but oh the amount of vegetable matter in it! If I were a botanist I would probably be able to identify the very pasture the sheep were in. The pieces are tiny, invisible to the quick glance and so incorporated into the plies that knitting fingers cannot feel and pluck them out. But once part of the fabric, their sharp little tips poke out and my lap feels sandpapered. I’m hoping that blocking will soften them.

But perhaps everything will be forgiven in a colour like this?