Category Archives: Sweater

Episode 22 – Art for Fiber’s Sake

Somehow this episode became all about art inspired knitting or the other way around.

I talked about my current sweater projects and knitting a new skirt for myself. I also share about my first attempt at freeform crochet.

We’re available on both iTunes and Podcast Alley. Just check for “Cloudy with a chance of Fiber.”

Episode 22

My first attempt at freeform crochet

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Owls

Owls Sweater in Cascade 128

Owls Sweater in Cascade 128

I forgot to post the link to this pattern. You can find it here: http://needled.wordpress.com/designs/

I can’t wait to teach a class on how to make this sweater this October. This is a great sweater for beginners to sweater knitting.  Not only is the body and the yoke knit in one piece, it’s done in bulky weight so you could potentially finish your sweater in less than two weeks.  I’ve read of people doing it in a week, but I can’t imagine the strain on your hands after constant use of bulky gauge needles.

Again, I did both sleeves at once using the magic loop method.  I found it’s easier to keep my sleeves more uniform this way. One thing I adore about this sweater is how the waist shaping is done by a series of increases and decreases done on the back side of the sweater (see image below).

Waist Shaping of my Second Owls Sweater in Universal Classic Chunky

Waist Shaping of my Second Owls Sweater in Universal Classic Chunky

If you’re interested in taking the class (and live in the pdx area), it should fun. This is a great sweater for people who are starting to consider knitting  their first sweater. I’m excited to be able to share the experience for knitting this pattern with others. Here are the class details (you can also view an abbreviated version on the Naked Sheep’s website):

Owls Sweater Class:

Saturdays (October 3, 17 and 24)
10:30am-12:30pm

Have you always wanted to make that perfect sweater as a gift for a special friend or relative this holiday season, but you don’t have loads of time? Knit in bulky weight yarn this stylish sweater makes the perfect quick knit gift.  Also, this sweater requires very little sewing or seaming. Natalie will help students customize size dimensions for the pattern if needed. She can also convert the pullover pattern into a cardigan version if desired.  Students will learn how to make two sleeves at a time using the magic loop method.

Notions & Supplies Needed:

  • Large tapestry needle
  • Cable needles (if you are new to making cables)
  • 24” circular needle in appropriate size for yarn used
  • 32” or greater circular needle in appropriate size for yarn used. If you are using the Magic Loop 40″ circulars are highly recommended.
  • Optional: 40-50 buttons or large beads for owl eyes

Recommended Yarns:

Any bulky weight soft yarn.

  • Universal Yarns Chunky Classic
  • Cascade 128
  • Cascade Soft Spun
  • Eco Wool or Eco +

Not recommended: any boucle or fur yarns.

Prerequisite Skills:

Advanced beginner. Students must be able to Knit in the round as well as increase and decrease.

Once you get the sleeves done its smooth sailing all the way

Once you get the sleeves done it's smooth sailing all the way

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Filed under Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Patterns, Portland, Portland Knitters, Stockinette, Sweater, Teaching, Techniques, Wool, Yarn

Recuperation and waiting projects

I’ve been pretty sick for the past two weeks. Actually the last three or four days or so I’ve been on the mend.  Earlier this week I came down with a bad bout of bronchitis. Which had me laid up in bed resting, taking antibiotics and drinking lots of “Breathe Easy” tea. I honestly think I can’t stomach the stuff anymore, and the smell of it makes me gag.

Yoke Sweater in Araucania Nature Wool

Yoke Sweater in Araucania Nature Wool

The Tweedy Aran cardigan was abandoned… and the project I remained anonymous to was a top down yoke cardigan out of Araucania Nature Wool (languishing in my stash) from Wendy Bernard’s wonderful book Custom Knits.  I really adore this book. Aside from the sweater I just finished I’ve already cued three patterns from it.  The instructions are very easy to follow and I like the fact that she give you permission and even instructions on how to adapt the patterns to your desires and needs. This is the kind of Knitting Designer I adore.

I was probably monogamous to this pattern during my illness because it was easy to knit, requiring very little mental strain. Eric joked that a week of sickbed time and I end up with a sweater.

I meant to post my latest raglan earlier but never got around to it. Here it is:

I made the yarn at Yarnia. It’s actually a blend of bamboo and wool.  I really did enjoy knitting this sweater. The think about stranded yarns is that you have to be very carful with your tension while your knitting. Adding a strand of sticky wool boucle to this yarn blend actually gave it more of a grip. Also, I have enough of the stuff left over to make a nice scarf or cowl for someone.

Yarnia Raglan Sweater - Wool & Bamboo

Yarnia Raglan Sweater - Wool & Bamboo

Close up of stockinette

Close up of stockinette

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Raglan Sweater Episode 3: Working up the body & armpit gussets

I’m sorry I’m extremely tardy in posting this. I’ve been incredibly distracted by among other things Norah Gaughn’s Tweedy Aran Cardigan. I swore I would do my best to avoid knitting sweaters that I would have to seam, but looks like I broke my oath :).

In the sweater I knit for Eric I didn’t do any waist shaping or decreasing. The body of the sweater was knit up as a straight tube. He likes his sweater hems to ride just below his hip, so I would make him try on the tube periodically to see how I was doing. Once I got about two inches from his armpits I started to knit the armpit or underarm gussets.

Now one might ask why even knit these gussets? Doesn’t it just create a strange little pouch near the armpit. Apparently the gussets are a feature designed for fishermen who wore their ganseys or guernseys (sweaters) while they were out at sea. All the work on a boat requires you to swing your arms around; therefore it makes a lot of sense that these folks would want their sweaters to have a bit of ‘give’ in that area.

Remember how I added those two purl stitches at each end of my sweater tube? I start building my armpit gusset on each side at these purl stitches.

Gussets:

Row 1: at the purl stitch knit front and back (kfb) twice so you have three stitches total in the gusset. Knit to the next purl stitch on the left side of your sweater and repeat the steps to create three stitches for the left gusset. Knit until the end of the round.

Row 2: and every even row purl the first and the last stitch in the gusset while you knit the rest. For example,row 2 you would p1, k1, p1. In row 4 you would p1, k3, p1 with five stitches total. As you can see after each odd row the gusset increases with 2 stitches. Knit to the purl stitch on the left side and repeat the steps for the gusset. Knit until the end of the round.

Row 3: At the gusset kfb1, k1 kfb1 (5 stitches). Knit to the left gusset and repeat. Knit to the end of the round.

Repeat rows 2 & 3. Until you have enough stitches on your gusset. For bulky weight yarn like the Cascade 109 I used in Eric’s raglan, I stopped at 11 stitches. For a worsted weight yarn I might stop at 15. For a DK weight yarn I’d stop at 17 stitches on each gusset.

Remember, you will repeat the gusset steps when you create your sleeve. In the next episode, I will review how to start and ‘execute’ the sleeves. Better yet, I’ll show you how to knit the sleeves two at a time using the “Magic Loop” method.

Armpit Gusset

Previous Raglan Sweater Episodes:

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Raglan Sweater Episode 2: Calculating Stitches & Casting On

I interupt this post to bring you more on swatching….

We interrupt this programming to...

We interrupt this programming to...

So I’m assuming you’ve selected your yarn and swatched it right? You’ve also washed the swatch in woolite or some other delicate laundry soap, and blocked it to see what the fabric (you’ve knitted) looks like and wears like after it’s been washed. Also if you plan to use different stitches like moss stitch and garter stitch with your sweater, you have blocked those pieces too. You know how old people begin some didactic story or lecture with the words ,”Let me tell you a story about…”? I’m not quite old yet but I’ve been leathered by more than a few knitting mistakes or disasters and I’ll tell you a story about a sweater I knit two years ago. This was my first raglan sweater. I used a ‘super-wash’ yarn and happily knit the sweater to the required measurements, but I skipped the blocking process. The sweater had a nice garter stitch hem at the waist and on the cuffs. It looked quite gorgeous and held it’s shape before washing. After washing the garter stitch hem stretched out, and despite my efforts to dry the sweater flat. The yarn stretched and the sweater turned into a tunic. How could I have saved this by swatching and blocking? If i’d swatched properly, I would have discovered that I needed to go down a few needle sizes for the hem and cuffs. I might have also see that my knitted fabric my stretch after washing.

If you want to keep a knitted garment for a long time and have it look fabulous through most of it’s lifetime, you really need to swatch and block. If you don’t care and you’re just knitting to make a sweater, then don’t block.

We now return to our usual program…

So if you’ve figured out how many stitches per inch or per length of four inches you get when knitting this yarn in stockinette stitch. Measure your chest and and take the number of inches from this measurement and multiply it by the number of stitches per inch.

knitnotes1

Using a cable cast on, I cast on 160 stitches on a needles that were two sizes smaller than the needles I would use to knit the body and sleeves. You can use a long tail or regular cast on if you feel more comfortable.  I knit garter stitch in the round for 6 rows. Remember garter stitch in the rounds is knit one round, purl the next and repeat.  I placed a marker at the beginning of the round, and another at exactly 80 stitches. After knitting the hem, I switched to the larger needles. At the beginning of the row I increased one stitch by creating a purl stitch at the first marker. I would create another purl stitch at the next marker.  I purled these two stitches instead of knitting them as I knit the length of the body in order to create a ‘false’ seam. I would also use these purl stitches to mark the beginning of the gussets I would create for the sweater’s armpits, but I’ll cover that in more detail later in the story.

Essentially, most of the sweater is knit as a stockinette tube. This is the most mindless part of knitting the sweater, and in some ways the most fun. I look forward to watching countless movies with subtitles as I knit this part of the sweater. I can put my mind in a sort of knit on auto-pilot.

Garter stitch hem and stockinette body

Garter stitch hem and stockinette body

Now, if you’re interested in learning how to calculate the yarn and dimensions of your own raglan sweater, I suggest you visit this site:  The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater.

The Knitting Fool also has a wonderful Raglan Sweater Calculator. Fill out the stats and create your own pattern as a .pdf document. Please note the needle sizes refer to US sizes and you must knit a 4″ x 4″  swatch to estimate your gauge before running this program.

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I want to be the “Sweater Evangelist”

My Two Week Raglan Sweater

This was an uncommonly cold and snowy winter out here in the Pacific Northwest this year.  I actually was able to knit at least five sweaters from the beginning of fall last year to this date. I finished another raglan in a bulky yarn for my husband this year. I joke with friends that it’s too bad I didn’t knit it earlier because it might have helped save on our heating bills this year. It occurred to me that knitting sweaters is a way to keep people warm and happy. It’s a way to keep them safe, help them feel loved and perhaps save a little money on fuel bills.  Not to mention the fact that a well-made sweater can bring someone joy for years to come.

Yet I hear so many people say things like:

  • “I could never knit a sweater… it’s too hard.”
  • “I don’t have the time to knit a sweater.”
  • “I’ll never be able to knit”
  • “I’ll never be able to knit that well”
  • “It’s too expensive to knit a sweater”

I say: HORSERADISHES!

A basic raglan that’s knit from the bottom up is actually  not too hard to do.  Many of my raglan sweaters are based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s raglan instructions in Knitting without Tears. You only need to know how to knit two stitches (knit & purl). In addition, you need to knit on circular needles and in the round. I think the hardest thing about knitting this sweater is joining the armpit stitches with Kitchener stitch. But hey… even if it’s not perfect, the stitching is in the armpit. How many people would you actually allow to lift up your arms and inspect your armpits?

As for price, there are many levels of affordable fiber out there.  You can support your local yarn store and purchase a sweater’s worth of yarn in good but affordable wools like Cascade 220, Universal Deluxe Tweed, Ella Rae Classic for less than $50 for a medium sized sweater (womens). You can also keep a look out for sales at your local LYS’s and wait for good prices on the yarn you’d like. If you’re really strapped for cash. You can actually find good worsted weight yarns for a good prices from sites like Elann or LittleKnits. Yarn for bargains can also be found at Good Will stores and other thrift stores. Some people even unravel sweaters from thrift shops and re-purpose this fiber in their own designs.  I believe that knitting can be accessible for all people. I will confess that as I got better at the craft (mind you I’m still learning), I really began to see the benefits of investing in good yarn as opposed to buying quantities of inexpensive wool and other fibers.  I still buy some bargain yarns, but often I use them to experiment with techniques, construction or designs that I want to try later in more costly fibers. But I don’t want to sound holier than though about they type of yarn you’re using if you’re a beginner or if you cannot afford a sweater’s worth of Kid Silk Haze.

I made a sort of informal new years resolution this year that I would teach at least six people how to successfully knit themselves a sweater. I’m quite serious about this resolution because I feel it’s incredibly empowering to make a useful thing like a sweater for yourself or for someone you love.  More, I feel that in these somewhat troubling times of economic uncertainty understanding how to be self-sufficient in many ways including creating ‘useful’ objects like garments and clothing will not just be a pleasurable hobby for some but a necessity of living for many.

I’m actually working on putting together and editing a simple pattern/recipe for knitting the sweater pictured on the left.

PS. I’ve actually finished my Amigurumi Frog pattern, I’m just in the process for finding a place to host my pdf files.

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Experiment #3: Planning a colorway

Dyeing cotton fibers is such a pain. Not only do I want to make sure that the pain is worth it, I want to make sure I get it right the first time.  Not to mention, I’ll be using my precious Artfibers cotton (Rush), and I really don’t want to over-dye any of this stuff.

I’ve decided to knit up the skeins of blank cotton yarn I have with a knitting machine and then paint these long blanks by hand using a color combo of four (see below).

(clock wise from the top left) Black Cherry, Brazilnut, Dusty Rose, and Raspberry

Four colors of Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion Dye: (clock wise from the top left) Black Cherry, Brazilnut, Dusty Rose, and Raspberry

This may sound a bit geeky, and I’m sure there’s a better way to do this, but I used a graphics program to ‘plan’ out the color on the blanks.  I think I’ll actually dye a test blank in leftover dyes that I’m not crazy about using one of the patterns below. Pattern 1 will result in a graduated dye dispersal. Pattern 2 is a recipe for plain striping. Pattern three will create broad strips of color with blends of the dye colors in criss-cross patterns dispersed throughout the fabric.

I want to know what the color patterns will be like in a large panel of stockinette knitting (say for a sweater).  If only my math and programming skills were sharper, I could actually create a program that would help me estimate the staggering of the pattern based on the length and width of the knitting and the stitch gauge. Actually, I could probably do it if I had the time, but for now, I’m just going to have to rely on both my imagination and powers of estimation.

Pattern 1

Pattern 1

Pattern 2

Pattern 2

Pattern 3

Pattern 3

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Filed under Colors, Colorwork, Cotton, Creativity, Dye, Dyeing, Dyeing_yarn, Knit, Knitting, Math, Project, Stockinette, Sweater, Techniques, Yarn