Thursday, 30 March 2017

open M1 increase

Make one increases (M1) are very popular increases. They are worked using the horizontal bar between stitches to create an extra stitch.

My favourite one is what I call an openMake1 (oM1). I use it for raglan increases on my Top Down sweaters for several reasons:
1.  It makes a small hole (smaller than a YO).
2.  It doesn't lean to the right or left which means I can use the same increase before and after my raglan markers.
3.  Working it doesn't interrupt my knitting flow.
4.  You can read whether you have worked the increase or not.

Work an OpenM1 by inserting your Right needle from front to back, under the horizontal bar between the stitch just knit and the next stitch,
 wrap the yarn as usual to knit a stitch and pull back through. This is just like a pick up and knit.

The beauty of it is that it is just one more knit stitch in your round which you work under the horizontal bar instead of in a stitch on your needle. There's nothing more to it than that. Can you wonder that it's a favourite increase?

The trick when knitting a Top Down Pullover is to recognize, as you approach the raglan marker, whether you have worked an increase or not. A in-the-round pullover is worked with one round where the increases are worked and the next round where you usually knit. If your mind wonders like mine does, you can't always remember what round you are working on when you come to a marker. Do I need to increase or is this a knit round?

When you work the oM1 you use up the horizontal bar between stitches. It's now a stitch. So if you see this, you have worked the increase in the last round. There is no horizontal bar there.

This indicates that you are on a Knit Round. You would knit past this spot and continue knitting your round. Next time you come to this marker (in the next round), you will see a horizontal bar.
Then you work the oM1 under that horizontal bar because it's there.

In a nutshell, if the horizontal bar is there, you work a oM1, if it's not there you knit.


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My Designer Puzzle

I haven't thrown away my red yoke yet and I did wake up early several mornings knowing what to do next. BEWARE this is a long post. It's been a long week. I'm not despairing, just wrestling with a puzzle.

The first morning's thought was to change from fingering weight yarn to DK weight yarn. And so I did. I got the yoke done and it was a breeze. I'm calling this Lightening.
I did sort of, maybe, think that there was a sticky problem somewhere. Not to be held up though, since I was having such a lovely time, I worked the Divide (putting sleeve stitches on spare yarn) and continued down the body. The whole time that niggling little voice was wondering how The Knitter (that's you) was going to work the Divide and then continue to knit the lightening bolt down the Front & Back. It's a small thing but it seems to hinge on where I put the Beginning of Round marker and how I explained how to work the Lightening Bolt itself. When I started to write the Divide Round out I ran into trouble. I couldn't go on. I ripped back to the Divide Round, put it aside and went to bed.

Here's the problem. I have a good idea of how I want this design to work and I know exactly where I am as I'm knitting. Good thing, right? I knit my Lightening Bolts with the Markers in the centre of each one. Then I wrote it out in the pattern: work starting from this marker to that marker and repeat. That makes sense, right? Work from one pink marker to the next pink marker.

Then I realized that I was not knitting from marker to marker at all. What I was actually doing was knitting toward the Marker and then deciding which side of the Marker to work the increase on. AH, HA. That was a big moment.

Charting helps me think things through so with paper and pencil I created a chart. Imagine the Marker is right on the centre line of the chart. Increase holes are worked on the right of the Marker and then on the left and then again on the right, etc.

Unfortunately that chart does not show how the lightening bolt is going to shift from side to side as they are knit.
Would this make more sense? It's a good visual. Again, marker set in the middle of the lightening bolt.

But then it's not clear that the stitches (B's on the chart) of the lightening bolt itself line up above each other. AARRGGH.
More thought needed. Maybe tomorrow morning will do it. Maybe I'll be struck by lightening and my brain will fire at an accelerated rate and then I will know.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Something here is not working

I am convinced by the comments (thanks t_a and Sharon) that fingering and sports weight yarn (DK included here?) work best for plus sized sweaters. But we all know that fingering weight yarn does make knitting a sweater a substantial time investment. Especially, as stated, when ripping back occasionally to make modifications. That's where I am right now.

I got the yoke finished on a new top down circular yoke pullover in fingering weight cotton/acrylic. Then I started to work out my grading for the different sizes ...
and yeah, it went like that. Not well. All the different scenarios I tried didn't work out in any logical manner without very big jumps in the sizes. So I'm putting this aside for the moment, aside meaning stashed behind my computer where I can't see it until I can face throwing it in the garbage because that's where it's headed. Yoke, did you hear that?!

I'm starting a new one with a more logical approach to the increases and sizing. The new one will be in DK weight Cotton Tweed. Blue, of course. A faster knit, cotton for summer, bigger holes for the increases in the design. Fingers crossed, it should work out better all around. Some other day I will knit a fingering weight sweater, Today I'm thinking that 2018 sounds like a good time.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Red Fingering weight pullover has begun

I'm thinking of spring as the snow flies here. We've had a couple of days of spring-like weather and now it's cold again and seems colder somehow. Spring is coming so I've decided it's time to start spring knitting. I'm taking the plunge and finally knitting a fingering weight pullover. So far so good.
It's a circular yoke pullover in Saucon Fingering (cotton/acrylic blend). Should be nice and cool to wear in the warm weather. See, so optimistic, it will get warm soon. I'm quite surprised that I'm almost at the great divide. It hasn't been too much knitting yet. I've given myself an interesting set up of increases to keep me busy and I'm looking forward to dividing off the sleeves. That's the moment when it looks more like a sweater. I'm intending to keep the increase pattern working down the front. I think I'll need the distraction.

Reading this over I see I have convinced myself that this is a lot of knitting. Preconceived ideas can stop this before it gets very far so I'm going to try to keep an open mind.

Have you knit a fingering weight garment? Did you like wearing it? Would you do another one?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Cables in-the-round made easier with "tells"

I'm not going to tell you how to make crossing your cables easier, with or without a cable needle. I'm not going to tell you how make your cable stitches neater.

What I want to talk about is how you can make some changes to a cable pattern to make working your cable crossings easier to keep track of. You can put cable "tells" in your pattern so that it can't keep it's poker face on.

Some cable patterns, especially wide ones, are very busy. There might be cable crossings happening somewhere on every right side row. If you're working in the round, you then have a working round where you cross and a comfort round where you knit the knits and purl the purls.

But some patterns have several rounds where no crossings take place. The simple rope cable is a prime example, *work 2 rounds with purls and knits, work a crossing round, work 5 rounds with purls and knits as set; repeat from *. The cable crossing is actually every 8th round.
How can you keep track? You can make ticks on the side of the page but did you make a tick this time or were you distracted as you worked the cable and did you forget? Are you sure?

Since you might be adding this to your top down sweater as a design feature, you get to be the boss of this pattern. So be the boss and make this easier to work. How about making the side stitches in garter stitch instead of all purl stitches. You can now count the garter ridges: 3 ridges showing above the last crossing (Rounds 5, 7 and 1), time to cross again (Round 3).
 A more complicated pattern could be added to. Give yourself something to "tell" you when to cross. Take this double crossed rope cable pattern with purl stitches in between the cables.
What if you added one stitch in the centre and knit it through the back loop every other round (K1tbl).
Now as you approach the pattern panel you can look over to see if that centre stitch is twisted or not. Count the twisted stitches and you know when to cross your cables again. Maybe make the side stitches in garter stitch too? How could you go wrong?!

One more idea. How about adding the "tell" on either side of your cable panel as a border. It won't interfere with the pattern itself but it will give you the needed information. Here I've added the garter stitches outside of the single rope cable pattern.
You are in the designer chair now so swatch and see what you like the look of. Adding "tells" makes your cable knitting experience much more enjoyable. No ticks on the page, no guessing about when to cross your cables. With a little bit of additional designing you can have relaxed, enjoyable cable knit.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Place Cable in a Top Down Sweater

You can place a cable panel into a Top Down garment fairly easily. Here are a couple things to consider:

1.  Because cables pull in your fabric you will have to work a set of increase stitches in the round before setting up your pattern or in the first pattern row itself, before the first cable crossing. The rule is approximately 1 stitch increased for every 3 sts of a cable. A 6 stitch cable would need 2 sts increased. A 4 stitch cable would still require an increase of 2 sts. (See previous post: Cables, from Flat to in-the-round.)

2.  This is a Top Down garment. You are knitting this garment upside down.
That means that following the directions for your cable, starting with Row 1 and going to Row 8 say, will mean that Row 1 is just under your neck opening and Row 8 is a ways down the front of your sweater.

A terrific looking Horseshoe cable as you knit it looks like this.

But when you wear it, it appears like this.
Oops, all of the good luck from your horseshoes is leaking out because now your horseshoes are upside down.

So although it will baffle anyone watching you, you need to look through your stitch dictionary with it turned UPSIDE DOWN. In that position you will see what the cable will look like when the sweater is worn. It's fun to do, especially in public.

3.  Of course all the stitches in the cable are also turned upside down. This recent discussion prompted this response from LaurieofNepean: 
"We are all so used to looking at a cable one way (as we knit it) and don’t always consider how different it looks when we turn it upside down. For example, the “v”s are not structured the way our eyes want them to look.
I have come to the conclusion that it’s the symmetry issue that affects many cable patterns when they are worked upside down. Even a 3x3 cable looks different upside down and right side up. So I always swatch before I put any pattern into my top-downs. Then I turn the swatch upside down and look at it carefully to decide if I like the look. This is a fairly recent development in my knitting career. It comes from seeing so many publications where the swatches are obviously photographed upside down and so look funny."

Thanks Laurie. Swatching, yes, great advice. You should definitely take a look at how the cable is going to appear upside down before embarking on a sweater.

Stay tuned for the next post for a couple of tips on "tells" so that your cable can't maintain it's poker face.
Previous Post: Cables, from Flat to in-the-round

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Cables, from Flat to Knit in-the-round

Let's jazz up a knit-in-the-round stockinette sweater by adding a Cable panel. There are many stitch dictionaries to check out various cables.
Here are a couple of things to consider before working in-the-round with a cable pattern:

1.  Most stitch dictionaries are written for flat knitting. There is a right side row where the cable crossing action is and a wrong side row worked back in knits and purls which amounts to "knit the knits and purl the purls".

2.  The symbols used in charts are meant to convey what the pattern will look like on the Right Side of the work. This is a bonus to in-the-round knitting since you are always looking at the Right Side.

A Simple Rope Cable written for flat knitting.

Worked Flat
Row 1, 5 & 7: (RS) P2, K4, P2.
Rows 2, 4, 6 & 8: (WS) K2, P4, K2. (You can see the chart is awkward to read on the wrong side rows. "-" is a knit stitch and the white box is now a purl stitch.)
Row 3:  P2, 2x2cross right, P2.

Worked in-the-round (all rounds read from Right to Left)
Rounds 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8: P2, K4, P2.
Round 3:  P2, 2x2cross right, P2.

How easy is that. The in-the-round version has every round exactly the same, except for the cable cross Round 3. You can see how the pattern is going to look on your sweater with those purl stitches at the side. Your knitting will look exactly like the chart.

3.  Cables pull in your fabric. If you are going to do your own designing and place a cable in a stockinette fabric garment you need to compensate for the pull-in or your garment will end up smaller than you want and with a ruffle effect at the top of a panel of cables and again at the bottom.
The rule is to increase 1 stitch for every 3 sts of a cable. This cable is a crossing of 2 over 2, total of 4 sts. I would increase 2 sts for this cable to compensate for the pull-in.

Now, when to work the increases and where?
You have to work the increases before the first cable crossing takes place*. This cable crossing is close to the beginning so I would work the increases as follows:
1.  You can work 2 increases in the knit round before you begin your cable panel. Say you are placing this cable down the centre front of your sweater, over the centre 6 sts work K2, M1(make one stitch), K2, M1, K2. Now you have 8 centre stitches and on the next round you can begin with Round 1 of the cable panel.
2.  You can work the 2 increases into the first round of the Cable Panel itself. This is what I would do. If you are working this cable down the centre front of your garment, work to the centre 6 sts, then I might work P2, M1(make one stitch), K2, M1, P2. Now I have 8 sts and Round 1 completed.
M1: With left needle lift the horizontal bar between the stitch just knit and the next stitch, from front to back, knit into the back of the resulting loop.

*If the first cable crossing is several rounds down the panel you can work the increases in the round before the first crossing takes place.

When you are finished working the desired length for your Cable panel, you have to decrease away the added stitches to get back to your original number of stitches. For this cable decrease 2 sts evenly across the panel so it's back to 6 sts again.

Next: Cables from the Top Down.
Stay tuned,