rope. tree. fan. spear. snake. wall.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Step 1: The ribbed neckband

We want a fairly close-fitting neckline for warmth, but it needs a lot of stretch to accommodate that big baby head. I don't remember where I learned this method (Maggie Righetti?) or what it's called, but you basically work twice the height you want your neckband to be, and then fold it over and knit the top stitches together with the bottom stitches. No idea what this cast-on is called, so I couldn't find any YouTube tutorials, but I'll try to describe it in more detail.

Using any provisional method, cast 80 stitches onto a 2.5mm circular needle using the solid-color yarn. Work 2x2 rib for 16 rows our rounds...

If you use the provisional crochet cast-on, it's fairly easy to work this in the round, BUT remember to knit the first row. If you work 2x2 ribbing in the first row, unpicking it will be a nightmare. I speak from bitter experience.

Judy's Magic Cast-On will require you to work back & forth. At least, I haven't figured out a comfortable way to work in the round from JMCO, but on the other hand, it does make the next step much easier. On the other-other hand, you will have to sew the edges together, and I never sew when I can knit.

Once you've finished the 16th row/round, change to the self-striping color and knit each stitch together with its base. Here's a YouTube tutorial that shows the procedure. The relevant bit is from 1:44 to about 3:30. After that she talks about inserting elastic. Do not insert elastic.

This is where you start knitting in the round, if you haven't already. So now you have your snuggly, stretchy, ribbed, folded-over neckband in the plain color and the first round in the self-striping color. Tune in to the next entry for round 2!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Basic construction

Let's start with a basic overview. The sweater starts with a folded-over neck ribbing for maximum snuggliness and stretchiness. The whole thing is knitted in the round with no seams. There are short rows in rounds 3, 7, & 11, and four increase rounds, in rounds 4, 12, 20, and 28. Then you separate the sleeves from the body, add some underarm gussets, and then decrease them out. You finish with 2x2 ribbing at the wrists and waist, and cast off as stretchily as possible.

Right now there's only one size - newborn - because I can't take time away from reading to do the grading, but if you'd like the help with that, I sure wouldn't mind!



I've been using Aldi sock yarn, but you can certainly substitute Regia's 4-ply, and have a better choice of colors, not to mention being able to buy it any time, not just twice a year. One baby sweater uses nearly a whole skein of the solid color and about a third of a skein of the self-striping color.


2.5mm for the ribbings, 3.0mm for the yoke and body. I use a long circular needle, at least 80cm, and magic loop for the smaller circumferences and traveling loop when it gets large enough. Also one 2.5mm dpn may come in handy from time to time. 


a row-counting
stitch marker
See here's where it gets tricky. I'm a big fan of stitch markers, so I use 8 of them to mark off sections. One is a row-counting stitch marker, at the center back, because I don't like spending a lot of time counting. A friend says the fiddliness would drive her crazy; another friend says row-counters are for chumps, so, you know. Use it if you want, don't if you don't.

A tapestry needle, for weaving in ends and also for when you separate the sleeves and the body, to put the waiting stitches on a length of quilting ribbon or mercerized cotton or something. Oh yeah, so a length of quilting ribbon or mercerized cotton too. 

Also, a crochet hook, size 2.25-3.0mm. I also use it for the provisional crochet cast-on, and if you do that you'll also want a length of scrap yarn for the cast-on. Or you can use Judy's Magic Cast-On. I use the crochet hook for my stretchy bind-off, but if you'd rather use Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind-off, you can skip the crochet hook entirely.

You see why I've struggled with writing this pattern. Everything is optional!

What should we call this thing?

And we need a name. I mean, usually you come up with a name somewhat later in the design process, but I think it would be helpful to have a tag, so people can find all the posts related to this baby sweater without getting bogged down in all the other posts about unrelated things that I will definitely be writing as soon as I've escaped grad school no really I mean it.

It's constructed sort of like a Lopapeysa, but not really - it's knit top-down, for one, and there is no fair-isle, just self-striping sock yarn for the busy part, so is it a Faux-papeysa? Heh. A Lazy Lopapeysa? Nearly all the math involves multiples of 8, which is a lucky number in China, so maybe Lucky Baby Lopapeysa? I dunno. I could use some better ideas.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

I'M BACK! Didja miss me?

Okay hi yeah, there was a teensy hiatus there. I got a little sidetracked by graduate school. Yes indeed, I am going for my M.A. in English Linguistics with a side of Transcultural Studies, and it's going about as well as you can expect for someone as distractible as I am. Suddenly everything is a squirrel. A shiny one.

Because of grad school, I'm not designing, not taking on any challenging projects, and not buying new yarn (except for Aldi sock yarn, which is from Aldi so it legally counts as groceries, not stash), so there hasn't been a lot to blog about. But I am still knitting, because see above re distractible. I have found that I can't sit still for all the reading I have to do. I'm jumping up every two minutes to get a snack or check the mail or clean something or see if a thing I haven't used in five years is still where I remember it being even though I don't need it now, unless I have something to knit, preferably plain stockinette in the round. This information will be salient later.

Another thing that I probably shouldn't have signed up for because it takes time away from my studies is I volunteer at the refugee center, teaching recently arrived women how to knit and crochet. Quite a few of them are pregnant, so over time I have developed a baby sweater pattern that involves a lot of plain stockinette and uses up my impressive collection of Aldi sock yarn. So efficient! I have no idea - really none - how many I've made by now, because I tend to give them away as soon as they're finished, but they look more or less like this:

Aaaand a number of my knitting friends have requested the pattern and I keep meaning to publish it, but agh. I'm having such a hard time getting started. My therapist says I'm afraid to get started because I don't have the time it would take to get it perfect, so I should let go of the perfectionism and just get something up, and I can always fix it later.

So this here entry constitutes a promise: I will put up at least a version of this pattern for advanced knitters (i.e. I don't need to explain how to cast on or increase) this week. And you my audience are invited to ask questions and make suggestions and otherwise help me make this pattern better, even - dare I whisper it - accessible for a broader array of knitters? Because it was never my intention to design difficult things.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

the pictures are the problem

So I STILL haven't blocked the two sweaters I'd finished as of my last entry. Since then I've finished another one and made significant progress on the Giant Clam featherweight, a hat I keep starting and then frogging, that cool cobalt-colored leafy-lace silk scarf I started, and the adding of sleeves to a cami that I test-knitted for Adri, who has a new baby and is still better at blogging than I am. Plus the endless Aldi yarn sock project, and an actual finished pair of gloves. Gloves!

But then. I bought a bunch of yarn from Harlequin last time I was up north. Then I very generously helped a local knitter de-stash some of her Wollmeise. Last Thursday Aldi was selling sock yarn again. Of 6 possible color combinations I bought only 5, which I think shows admirable restraint on my part. And after a weekend of photographing all this yarn and cropping uploading cataloguing the pics on Ravelry, I do not have the energy to do the progress photos for all these projects. I am starting to think that the key difference between me and a successful knitwear designer is that I can't be bothered to faff around with pictures. I just want to knit and do lots of math.

Maybe I should find an aspiring designer who loves taking pictures and hates math. Maybe we can make a deal.

Anyway, since I do have all these yarn pics, I can at least share one with you. This is all of the Aldi sock yarn I've managed to accumulate, minus the stuff that's already been turned into socks.
I regret nothing.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

progress on various

Right! So May was reasonably productive, I think. Aliénor is cast off and end-tucked, but not yet washed or blocked, and I need to figure out who the best person is to help me photograph it. Also still need to finish writing the pattern and get test-knitters, but - ulp - that means letting other people see the pattern and - ack - possibly CRITICIZE it, oh noes! This is not a thing at which I excel. Anyway, this is how it looks, unblocked and folded on a chair, in bad light. Either my camera or my computer screen is falling down on the color, but in real life it's a nice plain blue. The color name is Cornflower, and as it was a limited edition color I can't even find an image on the Fyberspates site. Oh well, one of a kind and all that. 

Next up: also cast off and end-tucked but not yet washed, blocked, or properly photographed and also not documented at all for some reason, nor even properly named, is a wool/alpaca sweater that combines ribbing, cables and lace. I bought the yarn at Webs when I went to Rhode Island with Mr Husband, lo these many years ago. It's Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL which I think might be discontinued. I had intended to make a cardigan from a Schachenmayr booklet that I'd bought at some point - they didn't name the pattern either - but as it happened, the pattern as written wanted thinner yarn and redoing the math turned out to be more than I could be bothered with. Also I wanted to try out this new contiguous method of knitting, so hm, modifying this super-simple pattern was actually more work than redoing the math on the Schachenmayr thing. Which I guess goes to show that it's not only my kids who work very hard to avoid doing any work. Anyway, it will be nice and warm this winter, though the yarn is somewhat hairy and I'm a little worried about pilling.

Further progress on last month's acquisitions: the Resilience Top that I was going to make with the Drachenwolle yarn I bought, well, that is also too thick for the pattern, but I do have this Wollmeise Laceweight that should to the trick. I also found some fabulous buttons (not as many as the pattern requires, but I don't like making buttonholes, so I would have reduced the number of buttons anyway) at a little vintage et cetera shop handily located between my office and my bus stop. That is still waiting to be cast on, and will probably be waiting a good long while, all things considered. So it's not exactly a WIP, is it? I guess the point of this paragraph is look! Buttons!

The Giant Clam Closing Forever laceweight from Dye For Yarn is well on its way to becoming a featherweight cardigan. I already have one in Wollmeise Laceweight, with a lace front panel, and another in progress in light purple silk, so I decided this one needed something to distinguish it from the others. Hence th butterflies. It's still mostly plain stockinette, so I can knit most of it while reading, with the occasional rows of lace so I don't die of boredom.

Then there's the Windspiel shawl in the cobalt silk, which is making limited progress but I do love the pattern and the result thus far. The yarn is quite splitty and requires attention, so this makes excellent podcast knitting.

And of course all of this had to be set aside for a week so I could do another fabulous test-knit for the always-fabulous Yarnissima. It's for a publication so I can't really tell you anything except that my version is red and it has been extra super fun to knit and these will be my socks for feeling like a movie star while slouching around the house this coming winter.

And that's all that is currently going on, knit-wise. I'll post better photos when I have them.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

First German Wollfest in a while

So one of the Heidelberg knitters posted that she was driving to the Backnanger Wollfest on Friday the 25th and did anyone want to ride along, and I said oo! me! so that's what I did yesterday.

The location was the local Waldorf school and hoo boy, I'm a little skeptical about the Waldorf method, but if we'd had this available, I'd've sent my kids there, because LOOK!
Coolest school I've ever seen, I'll tell you what. After we signed in and got our nifty red rubber souvenir bracelets, we all scattered to look around at our own pace, and then some of us reconvened for lunch and to show off our purchases. At that point all I had was some new Holz & Stein needles to replace the ones Lilu and Fufu ate. Yes. They didn't eat them UP, but someone bit the point off one end of my ebony 2.5mm circs, and someone gnawed the other end quite ferociously, and I've been using them anyway for lo, these 6 years now. And while I was there anyway I got some rosewood 2.75s, because that's a size I didn't have yet. And they threw in a free pencil!
After lunch I took a class on photographing your knitting, which was all informative and stuff, but I am clearly a creature of habit because even though I couldn't wait to try all these neato tricks I learned, all my photos still look the same as they did before. Tja. At least I learned that my phone has a macro setting (and a panorama setting, which is not knitting-related but I have been complaining about this phone not having that for oh, must be nearly two years now). 

So then my cohort were all in classes, and I had oh, two hours to kill before it was time to head home, so that's when I did all my yarn-buying. I'm glad I waited, looked around, and made sure to have a plan for each thing I bought. The things I'm planning are not things I knew I needed, but that's okay. I know now. 

Drachenwolle has yarn you want to hug, in big shouty colors. I loved their red, but I'm never going to wear anything that color, so I chose some nice pale jeans-blue stuff to make this little jacket from Needles & Artifice. Which means the button-quest is on. 
Aaaand then there was Dye For Yarn. Holy cats y'all, I saw the Muknitters talking about it on Facebook and really didn't think anything of it. I should've known better. I must have visited their stall 10 times - partly because I needed several trips to decide what color I wanted, and also then because once I was closer to a decision I couldn't fight my way through the crowds. The colors? Are amazing, even apart from the names. I finally settled on "Giant Clam Closing Forever". My camera came close to capturing the intensity of the color, but my computer is totally letting me down here. You'll just have to come visit me once I've made a Featherweight out of it, but I'll warn you - you won't be able to resist hugging me. The color is just that fabulous. 

And then I simply had to buy the pattern for a scarf they had hanging around, and of course the yarn to go with it. Say hello to "Severe Cobalt Intoxication" in 100% Silk. 
I don't even know what to cast on first. My little heart goes pitty-pat every time I look at these. Also I have to go to the Dye For Yarn store. You should come with me!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

a possible step forward

I'm going to the Backnanger Wollfest next Friday, where I will be taking a "Photograph Your Knitting" workshop! Maybe that'll help me blog. I am not finding a good surface for taking pictures, my camera does not love me, and there is probably good light, but it's on the other side of some pretty filthy windows. I'm thinking of buying this dress form from eBay. I daydream about getting a better camera. I have no intention of cleaning the damn windows.

But I am making progress! I cast off a nice snuggly-warm wool sweater on this, the first really nice spring day of the year. I'm sure I'll enjoy wearing it in six or seven months. Photographing it is a different story. It's dark purple, textured, and impossible, and it is the project I will be taking to the photography workshop. I am fairly certain it will defeat the teacher.

Also, there are socks. The Jemisin design is now my official go-to sock pattern. I'm making a pair for a friend in Mannheim, and this weekend's Star Trek marathon meant real progress, so that's good.

Aliénor... wow, I should really set up that test-knit, huh? But the sleeves are the perfect zero-ease size in plain stockinette, and then the lattice pattern is too ridgid around my Popeye-forearms (probably because of the yarn's high silk content) so I have to reknit them, AND I put in way too many short-rows at the bust so that has to be re-done too. I was stupid, I just plowed ahead and figured I'd fix it in the blocking, but reality must be faced. So I basically finished the sweater - okay, I actually finished the sweater, put it on display at the Brei- en Haakdag in Amersfoort last month, and now I'm frogging oh, about half of it. A little more than half. Argh.

None of this, of course, constitutes an excuse for procrastinating on the test-knit.

I know the Song du Jour of the Day is a feature of the other blog, but I'm on this blog today, and I have a song, so: Simply Falling, by Iyeoka.