Correcting Cables

In a garment with as many cables as Burrard, some are bound to be mis-crossed. Not that it makes any structural difference, of course; cables are a sort of clever  trompe l’oeil  effect, creating visual integrity along a particular cable ‘rope’, while actually each stitch is connected to its surrounding stitches rather than any other along that rope.

But mis-crossed cables can look ugly. And we don’t like ugly.

The Yarn Harlot gives two brilliant ways to correct them. If I’d found the incorrect crosses a few rows up, I would have dropped those stitches and worked them up correctly. But after the whole piece is knitted, I’ll happily resort to trickery.

For eg, the safety pin marks a mis-crossed cable (everything else is a left cross while this one is a right cross).

mis crossed small

To correct it (I’m showing the following pictures on the other, mirrored, sleeve, where a left cross has to be changed to right), first run a couple of running stitches across the naughty cable, compressing it and creating a correctly oriented ‘channel’. This step is important – without it the duplicate stitches in the next step sit oddly high.

boundary small

Then duplicate stitch in the ‘channel’. Weave in ends and you’re done!

duplicate small


A Seamless Neck for the Ondawa

Here we go. I’ve finished both the front and back, and determined how many stitches will be left live in the centre of the Front and Back for the neck.

1. Bind off one side steek.


2. Flip the sweater inside out so the WS is facing you, and start working a three-needle BO for the first shoulder. Use a needle size slightly larger than sweater needles to avoid puckering. And yes, if you’re stuck at the beach without a larger needle, it’s legal to use a golf tee. Be sure that the last two stitches you bind off are purl stitches (ie, knit stitches on the RS).


3. Elongate the last stitch and pull the yarn ball through to seal the BO.


4. Flip the sweater right side out, work across the neck, and repeat steps 1 through 3 on the other side.

5. Knit across the neck to the shoulder which was bound off first. Since the last shoulder stitches you bound off were RS, knits (Step 2), the last stitch remaining on the neck before the shoulder BO will be a purl. Work that stitch, then pick up and knit a stitch from the shoulder BO point. Work across to other shoulder and pick up and knit a stitch. This will maintain a 1×1 rib across the entire neckline.

6. Finish with a tubular BO on the live neck stitches.

Shoulder and neck done! Gratuitous picture of luscious cables:


Thousands of Ways to Show You Care

The Blob is done, but am waiting for an opportunity to take the final modeled FO shots!


One last step before that: how to maximize mileage from hand knit gifts. After all, such gifts are best given sandwiched between a bit of emotional leverage on one hand and dire threats to the recipient if anything happens to the sweater on the other. I’m sure you can handle the threats – this post is about really enhancing the potency of emotional leverage via…

… Stitch Counts!

Simply put, add up stitch counts in each section of the sweater and stitch a reminder of the total somewhere on the sweater. I’ll demonstrate the first section to get you started.

1. Sleeve
a) Cuff = 78sts x 18rows = 1404
b) Straight section = 78sts x 17 rows = 1326
c) Increase section (2 sts increased every 5th row 25 times)
= 80sts x  5 rows + 82sts x 5 rows +  … + 128sts x 5 rows
= 5[80 + 82 + 84 + … + 128]
= 5[80 + 80+2  + 80+4 + … +80+48]
= 5[80×25 + 2+4+…+48]
= 5[2000 + 2(1+2+3+…+24)]

Now substitute the simple summation formula (basically, to add a series of numbers starting from 1 and going to A in increments of one, you multiply A and A+1, and divide the product by 2; so for example, 1+2+3+4+5 = 5×6/2 = 15):

= 5[2000 + 2x(24×25/2)]
= 5[2000 +600]
= 5 x 2600
= 13000
d) Straight section = 130sts x 23 rows = 2990

Adding subtotals a) through d), one sleeve = 18,720
Total of 2 sleeves = 37,440

Working this process for each section I got:
2. Body = 74,572
3. Yoke = 54,818
4. Neck ribbing = 3,240.

Adding 1 through 4, the grand total is:

small label

Which means I pulled a tiny loop through another, with a tiny needle, at least one hundred seventy thousand and seventy times while making this sweater! Actually more, since I had to reduce the sleeves at the end. If those unravelled bits were added then the stitch count would be even higher.

Can’t let anyone forget that, can I?!

Eight Steps to Obliterating the Past

I know you all are biting your nails, waiting in breathless anticipation for the next post about the Blob, so I decided to oblige!

seamless swatch

I had originally planned a chevron pattern for the body of the Seamless Hybrid. But doing two inches of 1×1 ribbing just about killed me with boredom and I realized I’d need a quick pattern for the body. Moving yarn back and forth for knits and purls would interrupt the blazing speed of stockinette in the round. So I alternated the chevrons with a plain stockinette round. This made the pattern much more subtle, but not very appealing – more like it couldn’t decide what it wanted to be.

01 purls

Luckily, the recipient then conveniently said he didn’t want any pattern, so stockinette it was! But after completing the sweater I was still left with one repeat of chevrons at the bottom. I tried to ignore them, but they were irritatingly always there, albeit diffused. I would have to obliterate them!

Here’s how:

1. Snip a stitch along the topmost offending row.

02 snip

2. Unravel the line of stitches, one by one, along the snipped row in one direction only. As you can see, the stitches aren’t particularly eager to escape… they just sit there waiting to be picked up.

03 unravel

3. So oblige them, picking up stitches from the top only, using a smaller needle.

04 top needle

4. Unravel the offending rows. Remember to pin out the unravelled rows in order, so you can pick them up in the correct order.

05 rows

5. Knit these up with the correct size needle. Remember to always work in the same direction of the original knitting. Since I worked this in the round, I slid my needle back after each row to knit in the same direction.

07 knit

6. Use the snipped yarn to graft the rows back together towards the snipping point. I found it easiest to graft together about ten stitches and then go back and fix the tension, rather than aiming to graft with perfect tension. You will need to stop a little before the snipping point, since you need to keep a bit of yarn tail free to weave in. Once your grafting yarn is about 4 inches long, stop and continue grafting with a new strand of yarn.

08 graft

7. Remember in the second step you had unravelled the snipped yarn in one direction only? Now start unravelling in the opposite direction, one by one. Once you’ve opened up about 20 to 30 stitches, repeat the rest of the steps: pick up the top row, unravel the bottom rows, knit them up correctly, graft them with the snipped end, complete the grafting with the new strand of yarn from Step 6.

09 middle

8. Continue this way across the row. I got the best results by working in chunks of 20 to 30 stitches at a time. Any more, and I would end up with too much or too little yarn at the end when knitting up the bottom rows. It looks a little bit wonky with all the re-working, but a good blocking will cure all that!

And the best part? No remaining purls — all pure stockinette!

092 end


I tried out an experiment, and am quite excited it worked!

nov yoke

See, I’ve always wanted to do a proper yoked sweater with tons of stranding. But being top-heavy already, the last thing I needed was a heavy horizontal pattern band across my shoulders. Yoked sweaters are also unflattering on top heavy people since they visually turn the neck and chest area into one giant swathe of fabric.

And then I remembered reading, in this post, that it was possible to make a circular yoked sweater with set in sleeves. Perfect answer! I modified it slightly to make it easier, and solved some problems:

  • By raising the ‘circular’ part of the yoke from across the shoulders to above the shoulders, there is no broad horizontal stroke stretching from shoulder to shoulder.
  • Also, the modified yoke acts as a visual scoop neck, which is really flattering on top-heavy bodies.
  • Finally, the back scoop is raised quite significantly, making the pattern ‘hang’ lower in front than the back, which is quite visually pleasing.

Here’s what I did:

I generated a tunic length pullover in CustomFit. It doesn’t matter what neckline type you choose since that part of the instructions will be ignored.


I CO provisionally at underbust since I didn’t want the whole sweater flopping around as I worked the yoke. After all bust shaping was over, I worked till the underarm, then BO underarm stitches as usual. At this point, it is a tube (with some bust shaping, not shown) with the green lines denoting the BO underarm stitches.

back shaping

Then I worked short rows on the back, in wedges at the sides (black lines), to raise the sides. On the diagram there is room only to show a couple of turning points, but I actually had 10. While doing these short rows I also did underarm shaping decreases, denoted by blue circles.

Next, I worked the back straight. The white line shows the path of knitting – although I knitted straight rows, I was actually knitting along a scoop since the wedges had raised the outer edges. I continued till the outer edges (yellow line) were as deep as the armhole depth I would need for a regular set in sleeve in my size.

I repeated the wedge shaping on the front. At this point, the back and front were equally scooped (thanks to the short row wedges), but the back had been raised to the correct level. To connect it all into a circular yoke, I counted how many rows I had worked after the back wedges were done (yellow line), converted that into inches, and converted that into stitches using my stitch gauge.

I CO that many stitches between the tops of the front and back, so that all live stitches were in a large circle – back scoop, CO sts, front scoop, CO sts. Then I started my colourwork and finished the neck. I’m pretty pleased by how the yoke worked out, but haven’t yet decided on how to finish the collar. I think I’ll finish the body and at least one sleeve before deciding upon the collar!

Pole Miscellanea

Almost nearing the end of the circular section of Opposite Pole. I can smell victory!

In the meanwhile, here are a couple of quick tutorials:

Joining Loosely Spun Yarn
Twist a 5” tail of the old yarn tightly and lay the new yarn over it.

small 1 join

Release the end and let the yarn twist over itself, trapping the new yarn.

small 2 join

Twist a 5” length of tail of the new yarn and centre the old yarn in the middle.

small 3 join

Release the end of the new yarn and let it twist over itself. Done!

small 4 join

Note: this works with yarn that is really loosely spun and can be easily compressed so that doubling it doesn’t significantly change the thickness. For firmer yarns, best follow the similar but more laborious practice of splitting plies before twisting together, best described here.

Finding Equivalent Round Size of Square Needles
I made the central section of the cardigan on square needles, foolishly assuming that they’re the same as round needles of the same size. They’re not! Here’s how to calculate what size round needles they are actually equal to. My numbers are in red, substitute your own where necessary.

Given size of square needle is 5.5 mm
Ie, widest diagonal of needle is 5.5 mm

Length of path of yarn wrapped around the needle is s + s + s + s = 4s (since it’s a square).

To find s, we use Pythagoras’ theorem: 5.52 = s2 + s2 = 2s2
Solving, s = 5.5 / √2 = 5.5 / 1.414 = 3.89
Ie, the length of path taken by the yarn around my square needle = 4 x 3.89 = 15.56 mm

So what size round needle is that equal to?

If my needle were round, the length of the path taken by yarn around it would d be expressed by the formula for the circumference of a circle = 2πr

So if 15.56 = 2πr, then r = 2.48
And diameter = 2r = 2 x 2.48 = 4.95
Ie, approximately 5 mm

018 Square and Circ

So my 5.5 mm square needle = 5 mm regular round needle.
Now that’s good to know before starting to knit with it, right?!

In-seam Vertical Pockets

Right, let’s do a quick tutorial on adding inseam pockets to your knitting.


I love adding pockets to all my knits because really, what’s the point of a cozy cardigan which leaves your hands cold? One of the greatest joys of being snuggly warm is to push your hands into pockets and a sad majority of patterns deprive us of that joy. However, pockets are really easy to add! Patch pockets, obviously, would be the easiest, but vertical inseam ones aren’t difficult at all. Remember, in knitting, we create the fabric, and can manipulate that creation in any direction we see fit.

Let’s start! I’ll be talking about creating generic pockets, and noting differences for specific cases. The finished pockets are from two previous sweaters while the instructions are from a WIP. Since these were taken in real time, some of them required manipulation to negate effects of evening lighting… in other words, they are washed out.

1. First, orient yourself. I’m knitting this cardigan top-down, so when it is laid on the floor with the live stitches furthest away from me, the neck of the cardigan is nearest my feet. The dashed lines divide the cardigan into three sections: to the right of the green line is the Left Front (LF), as worn; to the left of the red line is the Right Front (RF) as worn; between the two lines is the Back. If you were working the cardigan bottom up, the RF would be to your right and LF to the left when laid on the floor. Remember that difference, and you can use this tutorial for bottom-up cardigans as well.

01 Orientation

2. Work up to the row where you want the pocket openings to begin. End on a WS row. You are now about to start a RS row, with the yarn to the extreme right of the work. Important: my cardigan has reverse stocking stitch on the RS, so keep that in mind when you look at these pictures.

3. Mark the LF pocket opening. The orange marker is at the side ‘seam’. I like to orient pocket openings slightly forward (so that my elbows are not skewed out when shoving hands into pockets). The metal safety pin marks the pocket opening column, about an inch towards the front from the ‘seam’ column.

02 Markers

4. Work up to 3 sts before the pocket opening marker (metal safety pin). On the next three sts, kfb into each stitch. Why? We want to create a stable edge for the vertical opening, and stockinette would curl. So we are going to create a 1×1 rib on the last 6 stitches, where the purls will recede completely to make the edge look like regular stockinette. To avoid scrunching the fabric, we add 3 sts along the opening via the kfb’s. So the last 6 stitches (3 original stitches, 3 just created with kfb’s) will form the 1×1 rib edge.

5. From this point on, work only the LF. Along the pocket opening edge, work the last 6 sts in 1×1 rib. Don’t forget any shaping and patterning required along the LF!

On the stockinette side your ribbing will look like uncurling stockinette:

03 Edge

On the reverse stockinette side the ribbing will look like three columns of uncurling stockinette:

04 Edge RS

Usually, the stockinette is the RS so you would continue in this way, creating a pocket opening edge which blends in beautifully with the rest of the fabric. However, since my RS is reverse stockinette and the knit stitches of the ribbing will be visible, I’m adding a cable twist to them to match the front-bands.

6. Work as established till the pocket opening is as long as you want it, minus two rows, ending with a WS row. Count the number of rows you have worked so far (X). On the next row, work to last six stitches, then work two stitches together three times. If stockinette were your right side, you would k2tog x 3. Since reverse stockinette is my right side, I did p2tog x 3. Your stitch count along the pocket opening is now back to what it was originally.

7. Work a WS row. When you orient the cardigan as in the first picture, the LF is longer than the other two sections and the yarn is once again at the extreme right of the work. Pink circles show the continuing hip shaping on the LF piece. Do not cut the yarn.

05 Pocket Front

8. Now do the same on the other side. Mark the side ‘seam’ and the actual pocket opening an inch towards the front. The orange marker is at the ‘seam’ and the metal safety pin is at the pocket opening column. Place the RF stitches on a new working needle, with its tip at the pocket opening.

06 Next Markers


9. With a new yarn end, start at the pocket opening. Kfb into 3 stitches at the opening, then work the rest of the RF.

10. Continue as before, working the 6 edge stitches in 1×1 rib and doing all shaping and patterning required on the rest of the piece till X rows have been worked, ending with a WS.

11. On the next row, work two together three times as before to decrease the extra stitches at pocket opening edge. Work one more row, ending with the yarn to the right of the RF section. Cut the yarn.

07 Next Pocket Front


12. Now we will work the back section and pocket linings at the same time. The generic instructions would be: with a new yarn end, pick up stitches for the lining from the WS, work across the Back, pick up stitches for the other pocket lining. But let’s look at these instructions in a little more detail.

a) Pick up stitches

Suppose you were using the stockinette side as your RS and the reverse stockinette as your WS, as usual. On the WS, locate the row of purl bumps just below the live stitches of the Back. Follow that row into the LF, then pick up loops through those bumps:


Work across the live stitches of the Back:

09 Cont Working

… And then pick up stitches from the RF.  The photo demonstrates with red yarn for clarity; you would use your project yarn.

However, the reverse stockinette side is my right side, so I certainly cannot pick up the lining there! Instead, I cast on stitches for the first lining, knit across live stitches, then cast on stitches for the other lining. Yellow dots are cast on stitches for right pocket lining, pink dots are stitches worked across held Back stitches, red dots are remaining Back stitches waiting to be worked. After those are done, I would cast on more stitches for the left pocket lining. The cast on edge will be sewed down later.

10 Lining and back

b) Number of stitches: the number of stitches to be picked up or cast on should normally be as wide you want the pocket lining to be. However, if you’re not sure you have enough yarn, or you’re using really bulky yarn, you can pick up or cast on about an inch worth of stitches and work rest of the lining later.

 Let’s call the number of stitches you cast on, or picked up, Y. 

13. Work for X+2 rows, not forgetting any shaping, ending with a WS row. Cut the yarn.

14. Join everything together: Using the attached yarn from Step 7, work across the LF till Y stitches are left. Hold the lining stitches behind the remaining LF stitches…

11 First pocket ending

… and work two stitches together, one from each needle, to join.

12 First Pocket done

Continue till LF stitches are over. Work across back till Y stitches are left. Holding the lining behind the RF, work two together, one from each needle, till back stitches are over:

13 Second pocket ending

 Continue working remaining RF stitches.

15. Work the rest of the cardigan as in pattern.

16. To finish, sew up all open edges along the pocket linings. If you chose to work linings for only an inch (like the second option in Step 12.b), first pick up stitches along the vertical edge of the lining with a thinner yarn, work the rest of the lining, then sew everything down. It should look like this:


That’s from a sweater, where I cast on about an inch of stitches for the linings in the main yarn (purple). After knitting the sweater, I used a thinner yarn (grey) to pick up stitches along the vertical edge of the lining, worked the rest of the lining, and sewed everything down.

 And there you have it: lovely inseam pockets!

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!