Sunday, March 16, 2008

I almost have a sleeve!

I'm within spitting distance of being done! This is a nice and easy mindless knit, and I think that it's even cuter than I imagined now that it looks less like a blanket and more like a garment.
I like the seamless design, though I'll have an awful lot of ends to sew in. Yuck! I'll take seaming over sewing in lots of ends any day of the week! I also made another change to the plan; I thought that the bobbles on this adult version of the pinwheel sweater were positively fetching so I added them around the circumference when I bound off. I swatched many different bobbles from my Harmony Guide (Aran and Fair Isle patterns) and I didn't like any of them. Instead I knit into the front, back, front of the next stitch, turned, purled 3 stitches, turned, slipped one, knit two together, passed slipped stitch over, then passed the previous stitch over to cast it off. I placed bobbles 7 stitches apart because 28 (the number of stitches in each wedge) is evenly divisible by 7. I'm also curious about how a picot edge will look, so I'm going to bind off the sleeves with a picot edge, instructions are here in Knitty. The winning finishing touch will make it onto my own version.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Gloria/Pinwheel Hybrid

I spent my precious knitting time this week figuring out the construction of Hanne Falkenberg's Gloria, and swatching a kiddie-sized version of my own hybrid of the original I thought was absolutely stunning in Ribbels' window, and the very popular Pinwheel Sweaters for Women and Children by Shelley Mackie which is a free pattern from Elann. (To be honest I was kind of meh about the pinwheel until I saw this version. Wow.)
What I think I know about Gloria:
1. The upper back is not part of the circle. Evidence here.
2. Stitches are cast on, stitches at the bottom of the upper back are picked up, and more stitches are cast on. The resulting large number of stitches are knit back and forth in a texture pattern with increases placed at the armpit region (like on the Sunrise Circle Jacket by Kate Gilbert, available for free on the Knitting Daily Website). Evidence for these conclusions can be found here.
3. I think that the front and back shoulders are seamed together and stitches are picked up in the resulting holes for the sleeves. I also think that somehow stitches are picked up for the collar or the collar is sewn in place.
4. The texture pattern, oh the lovely texture pattern that plays off of differences in the shades in the yarns used. I looked at some swatches here(#1) and here(#2), and some of it is definitely garter stitch with two different colors that are swapped on each row. Like dark is knit on RS and light is knit on WS. There is another texture pattern at play here, as can be seen in swatch #2, but I don't know what it is, and I don't really care either. I think it's used on the collar because it dosen't look so bumpy as the 'wrong side' of garter stitch would. Or the majority of the sweater is knit in this texture except for the upper back. I don't care so much because I figured out enough to modify the pinwheel to my tastes.

All I did was work the pinwheel in garter stitch while alternating colors every row. Easy.
Now some people in internet-land say they prefer Gloria to traditional pinwheel sweaters
because of the better fit. I think that all that's needed to correct this issue is proper sleeve placement. I'm guessing for the kid version, because children grow and the the armholes will eventually be in the right place anyways. But for my version I will swatch and block, and determine armhole distance from my favourite t-shirts, and incorporate minimal ease into the placement.

First up: the yarns:
starting at the top, clockwise, we have Lang Yarns Soft Shetland color 09 (Purple Charcoal), color 08 (Wine) and some grey Frankengarn Naturstrickwolle in a slightly lighter grey than I'm
using for Trud. (I was thinking legwarmers at the time of purchase. Oh well...). Now for a rant about 'standards' for needle sizes. The Soft Shetland recommends a 5.5 mm needle for a yarn that weighs in at 284 yards/100g. This is lighter than worsted weight, using Cascade 220 as a benchmark for a worsted weight yarn (220 yards/100g). What big needles! Now the Frankengarn company recommends 3.5-4 mm needles for their stuff which weighs in at
218 yards/100g. I would call this a worsted weight, what tiny needles! These days I completely disregard manufacturer recommendations when choosing yarn and instead go with yardage/weight. Anyways, I'm completely digressing. I LOVE the Frankengarn, and while the Soft Shetland is pretty to look at and soft in the ball, I find it 'ropey' to knit with. And not so elastic. I hope it softens up with a wash. I figured it would be OK for baby/kid gear because it's a superwash wool.

Anyways, here's how far I've gotten.
I think it looks pretty good, and the interplay of color with garter stitch has given the desired effect. Not to mention that these random yarns I had sitting in the stash look Falkenberg-esque. I eliminated the yarn-over increases, and I didn't like the look of kfb increases on the Lara Pinwheel Jacket (similar pattern, same designer, also free on
so instead I opted for something more invisible: Elizabeth Zimmerman's 'Make 1' described on page 16 of Knitting Workshop. You basically drop a twisted loop of yarn on the needle and just keep on knitting. Easy, fast, not fussy, no gaping holes, no funny twists. And I'm switching the colored wools every 10 rows, but not the grey because I have ~ twice as much gray than the colors combined.

I like it.

Now imagine, as happy as I am with the 'right side' how surprised I was when I flipped the thing over and looked at the 'wrong side'.

Ignore the tails. You can see swirls of color where the increases were made, because they were not picked up from the grey row below. Now I like the 'wrong side' better than the 'right side'!
If I weave in the ends nicely, I'll have something the neither of the model patterns had: 100 %


Sunday, March 02, 2008

One month, two conferences, and two countries later...

I did a LOT of running around, and had nearly no time for knitting except on ridiculously long
train rides, but I managed to make decent progress on my cape. Here's the full-body-so-far shot:
I am using the vague-ish instructions from Barbara Walker's Knitting from the top.
The idea is that a cape/cloak is just a raglan that does not separate at the underarm for sleeves.
Simple enough, I wrote out instructions for a top-down raglan cloak that includes some cable panels from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting on the front edges, (s-hitches from Arde, p. 73), raglan non-sleeve (wide panel with little lattice, p. 51), and the back (Vigdis pattern, p.81 over 24 stitches). Here's some detail shots of the cables in the order listed above.

I am finding that the Lamb's Pride Worsted has great stitch definition even though I am knitting at a ridiculously loose gauge in order to felt this sucker, so I feel confident that the
cables will survive the felting process. I never realized what a good-value cable-knitting yarn this was, and I'll probably use it again for sweaters. I just wish the mohair was less scratchy, but I can put up with a bit of scratch.

One good (or bad) thing about conferences is that the organizers tend to put random people of the same gender together in my hotel room. Imagine my surprise when I arrived in my hotel room in a tiny university town in the Netherlands to a pile of stuff on one bed including a pair of 3.5 mm straight needles with some fingering weight pink merino knitted into perfect teeny tiny stitches. A knitter! Of all the random conference attendees I was paired with, they put me up with another knitter. Needless to say, some yarn browsing took place in the 2 hours between the end of the conferences and catching our trains back. I finally saw some Hanne Falkenberg kits up close, and they are gorgeous! Too bad I can't justify spending 100 euros (about 150 dollars) on a kit. My favourites in the shop were Gloria shown in the colors I linked to, and Jazz. The pictures do not do the kits justice. But still, they are prohibitively expensive, so my new shopping buddy said I should take the mental picture for inspiration, and knit my own version with what I've got available.

I also had the good fortune of sharing a room with a knitter in Berlin, and we went to a yarn shop on Oranienstrasse (in the very cool Kreuzberg district) and I picked up a few balls of some no-name single ply lambswool in order to make my take on Gloria. On the overly long train ride from Berlin to Hannover (my roomie's transfer point) she taught me how to purl continental style. I was on a purl row. It took me 2 hours (!) to do one row. I guess I'll have to practice, and track her down for lessons on how to knit continental style. She watched me knit 'British-style' and shook her head and said "I just don't see how you can do that." Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Here's a picture of my circular jacket yarns all nestled together:

I think it'll work (I hope!) and I'll cast on after I try a kiddie-version for the soon to be expected
cousin's kid. They are two different colors of no-name-provided German lambswool in an aran weight from somewhere near Hamburg (according to the shop employee) in a greyish lavender and petrol blue solid, paired with some Fleece Artist Kid Aran in the Marine colorway.
I'll be basing the construction on one of the 8-million free pinwheel jackets from the Elann website by Shelley Mackie but I may throw in a texture pattern like on Gloria. And I will make the sleeves striped. I particularly like this version of the pinwheel jacket, so I'll just let the ideas mingle until I have the time to cast on. I'll test texture patterns in my collection of purpley Soft Shetland balls and medium gray merino for the kiddie version.