Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random stitches

The cardigan has been waiting for weeks to be finished -- I am 100 grams away from the end, plus buttons. All I need to do is lengthen the sleeves (now that I know there is enough yarn), and edge the whole thing, adding buttonholes, tuck in the loose ends, and sew on the buttons.

But three other projects got in the way. There were 6 skeins of black Cotton Classic that suddenly needed to be a rib knit top to go under this cardigan. The idea of this piece is to start at the bottom, rib up to the underarms, cast on the armhole stitches, decrease them down, do a little neck shaping, and there you are. I didn't make the body long enough because I was afraid of running out of yarn. So the leftover yarn got split into a 2-ply (Cotton Classic is 5 plies thick) and crocheted in ch-2 net stitch with a 4mm hook around the bottom. It was a satisfying project, but I prefer the freedom of top-down crocheting better.

That was one project. The second is the Snowflake Project: Annie's Attic came out with a wonderful leaflet some years ago called TEENY TINY SNOWFLAKES TO CROCHET. It is apparently out of print now, but is really good (when I googled the title, one site listed it for sale for $30). Only a few typos in the instructions, and once you have made a few of the snowflakes, you can catch them easily enough. Made 2 or 3 of each of the 24 designs -- they will become a mobile 'flurry' to hang above a winter holiday scene. The snowflakes are done, loose ends are almost all tucked in. Next will come washing, starching, and constructing the mobile.

Years ago, I would start a project just for the sake of exploring an idea. Once the idea either made sense or didn't, the project would get set aside for the next idea. Now, I am trying to discipline myself to finish one project at a time. Finishing things is very satisfying -- I just have to do it.

The third project is a round shawl. Something light I can work on while on the stepper and watching TV. There is something magical about a round shawl to fold and wrap different ways. With a center pattern stitch for a while, then a band of another pattern stitch, then ending with a third, just for the last bit. A combination of pattern stitches is really magical. The center portion is the basic Granny Square-type stitch, but starting with a triangle, then doubling the number of pattern stitches as needed -- that makes it round. After that will be a 2- or 3-stitch net stitch. Then most likely a shell stitch on the outside. Simple, fairly brainless, but interesting to look at and with a good drape. And how far does 100 grams of laceweight go, using a 00 (or E) hook? The merino/silk blend feels really good.

So the blue cardigan will be finished soon. I want to wear it. But there is only so much time in a day. The snowflakes have a deadline. The shawl is good for exercise time (the cardigan is too heavy/big for that). Hey ho. It will get done.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Finishing the yoke and then some

This is a lot of writing for a pattern, but it is the idea of the thing that is exciting. Now that you can see how the increases line up in each row of the yoke, there is more shaping to do:

Since I started the front parts after having worked a while on the back, there are a few rows where I add to the sleeves instead of the back (because the back is wide enough), but still adding to the fronts. So, once the back is the right width, start increasing to the sleeve caps, and not to the back, like this:

Start the row and work to the first increase point. Increase in the LAST sc of the increase in the previous row (to increase to the front), then
Continue to the next increase point, and increase in the LAST sc of the increase in the previous row (to increase to the sleeve cap), then
Continue to the third increase point, and increase in the FIRST sc of the increase in the previous row (to increase to the sleeve cap again -- no increases to the back), and finally
Continue to the last increase point, and increase in the FIRST sc of the increase in the previous row (to increase to the front).


Repeat this row for a while, until the fronts have about the same number of stitches together as the back. Then it is time to increase only to the sleeve caps:

Start the row and work to the first increase point. Increase in the FIRST sc of the increase in the previous row (to increase to the sleeve cap), then
Continue to the next increase point, and increase in the LAST sc of the increase in the previous row (to increase to the sleeve cap), then
Continue to the third increase point, and increase in the FIRST sc of the increase in the previous row (to increase to the sleeve cap again -- no increases to the back), and finally
Continue to the last increase point, and increase in the LAST sc of the increase in the previous row (to increase to the sleeve cap).


Repeat that row to grow the sleeve cap. What is interesting here is that when the sleeve cap is about as wide as I want the upper arm to be around (for me that would be about 14 inches), it will turn out that the armhole depth will also be just about right, too. Amazing how that works.

To finish off the yoke, for a few rows, increase only to the fronts and back, and not to the sleeves. The rows are getting really long by now. It should look about like this:

Then, in the last row, set up the body like this: work across the front to the the first increase point, chain a few stitches (about 2 inches for an adult size; make sure it is an odd number so the pattern stitch will work), skip the sleeve stitches and sc to the next increase point. Stitch across to the third increase point on the other side of the back, chain the same number of stitches as before, skip the other sleeve stitches, sc in the last increase point, and finish off the row. There is a question here: Do you sc in the first or second sc of the increase point? That depends. You can go either way (but you want to be consistent). Often, it turns out that either the sleeve or the body is a tiny bit on the small side or almost too big. That clue tells me which side I want that last set of increases to go to. Once you get to that point, you will see what I mean.

From here on, work back and forth in rows, no more increases, for the body of the sweater. When it is long enough, finish off.

For sleeves: Rejoin the yarn at the underarm with the wrong side of the last sleeve edge row facing. Keeping in pattern, start on the sleeve: stitch along the underarm, along the sleeve cap edge, and finish off the row at the underarm again, joining with a slip stitch to the beginning of the row. I count my stitches after the first row to make sure the other sleeve has the same number -- it is good for sleeves to match. Now even though I’m working back and forth in rows for this stitch, there is no reason not to join the end of the row to the beginning and work the seam as I go. That way there is no seam to sew at the end. I like my sleeves to be fitted, so I decrease 1 stitch at each end of every 4th row. This makes a centered seam line and tapers the sleeve so it fits at my wrist.

You can decide your own tapering: By this time, you’ve stitched enough to have a really good gauge swatch -- the body of the sweater. Figure out how long you want your sleeve to be. How many rows is that, based on your gauge? How big do you want your wrist to be? You can figure that number of stitches from your gauge information, too. Knowing how many stitches you worked in your first row (A) and how many you want to end up with (B), along with how many rows you want to work (D), figure how many stitches you need to decrease and how often to decrease: (A-B)/D. Now this number has to be a whole number because you simply cannot decrease a fractional stitch. Usually, it works out to 1 stitch every 2 rows for a single crochet-type pattern stitch. To have a centered seam line, you need to decrease at both ends of the row, so that would be decreasing 2 stitches every 4 rows. Your numbers may differ, but you have all the information to decide for yourself.

It is amazing how many words it takes to describe the concept behind a shape that makes so much sense. But it really works. 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Growing the yoke

Part 3:

So far, all there is is the back and the shoulder bits of the sleeves -- there are no fronts yet. The next step is to start the fronts. The increases at the 4 increase points have nothing to do with the neck edge increases from here on out. For a cardigan that comes together at the center front, increase to the neck edge as many stitches at there were on the back in the very first row. I started with 19 stitches across the back in the foundation stitch row, so I want to increase 9 stitches on each neck edge. That leaves a little gap, which will be filled in later with the button band.

So here is what to do for the next set of rows:
1. For a V-shaped neck edge, add 1 stitch at the end of the next 18 rows (that adds 1 stitch to each side of the neck edge every two rows).

2. AT THE SAME TIME, start the next row and stitch to the first increase point --
a. Increase in the LAST stitch of the increase of the previous row (to increase to the front)
b. Increase in the FIRST stitch of the next increase point (to increase to the back)
c. Increase in the LAST stitch of the next increase point (to increase to the back)
d. Increase in the FIRST stitch of the next increase point (to increase to the front)
e. Continue to the end of the row, and sc 1 more in the last stitch to add to the neckline for a total of 9 times on each side of the front. (This is the same as step 1 (above). Once these stitches have been added, skip this step and just work even on the row ends.)

Repeat step 2 for quite a while.

For this section, you will add 2 patt stitches to the back in each row and 1 patt stitch to each front side and 1 stitch to the front neckline in each row. The number of stitches in the shoulder/sleeve bits will stay the same for this time.

When the back is as wide as you want it to be, it is time for the next step. You can tell by measuring between the increase points on the back. Not including the increases, the distance should measure what you want across the shoulders. So for me, for example, the distance across the back, between the increase points, will be about 15 inches.

Since the neck shaping is not related to the over-all increasing going on for the yoke, if you don’t finish your neck shaping before you reach the end of increasing to the back, that is ok. But in this case, I finished the neck shaping first, so the instructions above worked as written.

Here's about what your work should look like now.

The next phase will be finishing adding to the front and starting the sleeve caps.