Time to Knit

To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)

There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)

A time to run,

A time to sit,

A time to sew,

A time to knit…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sorry; I couldn’t resist.

But this Saturday, October 1st, I suddenly felt like Knitting Season had opened.

I don’t know whether it was because the temperature was cooler, here in southwest Virginia, or because the calendar said, “It’s October now: time to get serious about winter coming on.” I suspect it was because the light has changed so much. Living in the woods, I am acutely aware of the angle of the sun, now that it never quite clears the treetops, and the yard is full of shadows all day long. In summer, the sun is fully overhead, and the yard never gets a break from full sun from dawn to dusk. As I write this, it’s 11:AM, and I’m looking out my window onto shadows which just two months ago would have been there just after sunrise, and completely gone before 8:AM.

So, on Saturday, I got out my Saxon Braid project and we got reacquainted. I looked over all my notes, and found where I was and what I’d been up to. I worked a few rows and checked my progress. It all looked good, but something was off.

I am starting this thing at the shoulder seams. I’ve read that higher-quality blouses usually have their seams slightly forward, because it’s a more attractive look, or something. I forget why. Maybe it was because they make the shirt fit better. Whatever it was, when I read that, I decided that this sweater would have its seams slightly forward, too.

I have an old hand-me-down robe that, I was surprised to discover, has forward-looking shoulder seams. So I put it onto my dress form, and have been using it to determine how to do the shaping of the sweater Fronts. I held my little growing sections up to the seams, and decided how many stitches to increase as they work their way toward each other.

It all seemed to be going well when I stopped in July. But when I picked it up again in October, I discovered that it wasn’t going as well as I’d thought. In June & July, I positioned a piece on the robe’s shoulder seam, then focused on how well the section toward the center was expanding in that direction. In the beginning, the section near the arm was right up against its seam, and all was right with the world.

This Saturday, I held the knitting up to the robe, and couldn’t figure out how to position it. If I held it up straight, so the outer edge lined up with the armhole seam, and the cable looked like this | |, then the center shaping was way off. If I aligned the cast-on edge to the shoulder seam, as I knew I had been doing, then the shaping was pretty good, but the cable looked like this  \ \   (or  this  / /, depending on which piece I was looking at). Oops.

Everything looked fine and lined up nicely for the first inch or so, which is why I hadn’t noticed it earlier. But now that the pieces are getting longer, my mistake is becoming more obvious.

There’s a reason why sweaters worked from the bottom up usually bind off their shoulder seams step-wise. It’s to take the slope of the shoulder into account. But it’s been about thirty years since I knitted a sweater by following someone else’s pattern, and I forgot that (ahem) little detail.

If I’d ever designed a bottom-up sweater, I’d have known to take it into consideration. But all my previous sweaters have been top-down, following Barbara G. Walker’s methods in Knitting from the Top. Actually, my first design was an adult raglan based on the baby raglan in Maggie Righetti’s book, Knitting in Plain English. (She went on in great length in the book about the benefits of knitting top-down, but then provided only one top-down pattern in the book. I adapted this baby sweater into a full-size one for my husband. It didn’t turn out TOO badly, but it fit me better than it did him. I still wear it occasionally.)

So I got out my trusty Fishermen’s Wool* and spent the rest of the day making swatches for various ways of casting on sloped shoulders. I do know why professional knitting designers almost always work from the bottom up. The hassle of writing a top-down pattern is just too bad to bother with. But I really, really want to do this sweater this way, so am struggling through the hard part, knowing how happy I’ll be with it later. But for now, I have to re-invent the wheel just to get started. I will persevere, but it looks like I’ll be wearing the craft-show sweater for a while longer.  : – (

Maybe I should put this one on hold and start the Cestari sweater, which I’ve been considering working from the bottom up. OTOH, since I’ve never designed a bottom-up sweater before, I’m sure to run into snags with that one, too, and will probably end this winter shivering, with frostbite and two UFOs.

—————

* Good news about this! I’d written (here) that I hoped Lion Brand would provide more natural-fiber yarns, since I don’t like the look or feel of acrylic yarns. (They’re fine if you like wearing plastic bags, I guess.) Recently, Franklin Habit posted something on Instagram about Lion Brand Organic Wool. Yippee!! (Not only mentions it, but praises it.) I haven’t been in the yarn section of a store where Lion Brand is sold in a very long time, due to the still-huge size of my stash, so I hadn’t seen this, but will have to give it a try! This move of theirs in the right direction must be encouraged. And not just wool, but organic wool! I can’t wait to see it.

And I highly recommend reading Franklin’s blogs and attending his classes, if you are so lucky as to get that chance. I could write an entire post about him, but this one is already too long; maybe another time.

Fine, Thanks. How ’bout you?

Did you have a nice summer?  Good, good. Oh, that sounds like fun.

 

Me?  Well, not so much. Being a semi-invalid* most of the time is bad enough, but when the temperatures soar to where it’s too hot to move anyway, well, then, nothing much gets done, despite my very best intentions.

 

Especially knitting. I couldn’t handle that this summer. Last winter, I moved from the in-law suite, where I’d been living since 2009 (no stairs, for one thing), to an upstairs bedroom (warmer and easier to clean). This was an excellent decision for the winter, but the suite has the only air conditioner, so I roasted up here this summer. I can knit year-round in air conditioning, but I couldn’t even bear to think about knitting this summer. It was so bad that I couldn’t even bring myself to post the last 3 (I think it was three; I’ll have to check) cable swatches that I didn’t manage to post last May or June.

 

Here in the Roanoke Valley, the temperatures are beautiful these days. It still feels warm & summery, but comfortable, too. I still wouldn’t be interested in starting to knit, but I know that it’s the Autumnal Equinox, and very soon I will be wishing I had my cabled sweater. So I’d better get moving and start making some progress on it.

 

First step: Announce my plans here.

Second step: Actually start doing something.

 

What do you mean, I have that backwards? I’m supposed to DO something first, then report on it? Pah!

 

* Pronounced in-VAL-id.

 

Unwrapping a Treasure

When preparing to wind one of the new skeins into a ball, I encountered something I’ve never seen before.

Manufacturers have various ways of tying the loops of skeined yarn together. Sometimes they use thread or fine yarn. Often they use the yarn ends from the skein itself. This does double duty, keeping the skein together and securing the ends.

But there is always a knot. Sometimes they’re nice enough to make a slip knot, but most just tie a generic knot tightly, which is very hard, sometimes impossible, to untie. I usually spend the effort to untie the knot, sometimes spending ten minutes prying it loose. But I have been defeated occasionally, and had to resort to cutting especially recalcitrant knots.

When I opened the skein of Quebecoise from Schoolhouse Press, I found this:

Unique skein-tying

Unique skein-tying

It is self-tied, using the ends of the yarn and not any added-on string, but THERE IS NO KNOT! It’s wrapped in an extremely clever way so that the loose end is held by the wrapping. It is every bit as secure as an ordinary wrap-with-knot. But all I had to do was find the end, work it loose, and pull. Genius! I wish they would all do this!

“That’s More Like It!” Goes Here

Today, July 12, 2016, I published That’s More Like It!, a post I wrote in May, and saved in draft form in June, but couldn’t publish because I needed to catch up on my postings of the various cable swatches I’ve been doing. As I’ve mentioned before, I am horribly behind in publishing my posts. Every chance I get, I try to catch up, but something always seems to happen to drop another roadblock in my path, like last week, when we lost our internet service for two days, then electric power for another two days.

I don’t knit every day, and even when I am knitting a lot, it often takes several days to finish one cable sampler. But if I posted in real time, I’d never get caught up, so I’ve been trying to publish one post a day. Those swatches have been popping out at a very impressive speed! — When I can keep up with the publishing schedule, that is.

Part of how I’ve been trying to keep up with the schedule is to pre-load some posts as drafts. I’ll spend an afternoon uploading the posts, attaching their photos and links, fixing their formatting, and so on. Then, on the appropriate day, I just hit the <Publish> button and off it goes.

That worked okay until I published the four Cable Swatch posts. Today, I decided I could finally post That’s More Like It!, then in the next few days I can publish two more posts which follow up on That’s More Like It!, and then finish posting the rest of the cable swatches. After that, I should be all caught up on the old posts, and can go back to my once-a-week-or-thereabouts publishing schedule.

But when I hit <Publish> today on That’s More Like It!, WordPress put it in dated June 27. Perhaps that was the day I uploaded & saved the draft, I don’t know. In any case, WP has screwed up the dates of several of my posts. First I had to stop using their Scheduling feature, and now I have to stop using their Drafts feature. Grrr.

So, That’s More Like It! goes here, after the four Cable Swatches. To see more of my tribulations with WordPress, see Curiouser and Curiouser; I wrote (and published!) it on June 28, and then added today’s rant at the bottom of it.

Fourth Cable Swatch

Another swatch of three slightly-more-complex cables. These too were from Lesley Stanfield’s The New Knitting Stitch Library. See previous post (Third Cable Swatch) for my notes on the link for this book.

159-104-101 Stanfield

Three more Stanfield cables

 

#159

#104

#101

Again, the picture is upside-down, with the cast-off toward the bottom of the picture instead of the top. I didn’t state that in the previous post, but it’s true for that one, too.  This works out for me when I’m designing a top-down garment, but could be strange for people who might want to see what something looks like from the bottom up. (Right-side-up, or the way the swatch was knitted.)

 

That middle cable, #104, was a strange one. When you look at the chart, you wonder how what you’re seeing will turn into any kind of a cable. Maybe it’s a misprint. But then you knit it, and it does work out. The wonders of knitting never cease.

 

 

 

Third Cable Swatch

Another swatch of three cables, a bit more complex than the previous two. These are from Lesley Stanfield’s The New Knitting Stitch Library (Lark Books, 1992).*

 

swatch of three cables - Stanfield

Swatch of three cables

 

#116

#105

#98

*It’s difficult to find a good link to this, since Lark Books was moved from Asheville, NC to NYC by its parent, Sterling Publishing Co., in 2014, effectively killing it.

Since Barnes & Noble is the umbrella owner of Sterling, I tried to find a link through them; but, just like Amazon’s link, it’s a brief description of the book and no copies are available. (FWIW, the picture of the book’s cover on the Amazon page – today, at least – is the one I have.)

The best link I found was to AbeBooks, where there are several used copies available from independent booksellers, at a variety of prices. I like shopping at Abe. YMMV.