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Archive for March, 2016

Things have calmed a bit. In the lull, I’ve been able to mess up work on finalizing the New Rugby Sweater. It should see the light of publishing next week. What’s basically held this up is my dithering over page design and general layout of my patterns. Now that I have the logo I want some standardization of the way the pages look from pattern to pattern.

What I’ve come up with might stun you. After all this time I’ve reached the conclusion that a knitting pattern is a knitting pattern. Knitters buy it to make the item. They need a clean layout that easily shows the stages of the project with lettering that won’t make their eyes cross and headings that are easily recognizable. It’s meant to be understood at a glance. A pattern is not a brochure.

The next item that needs attention is writing up the Feelin’ Groovy Sweater. Yes I am finally at that point. The proto type is done. I do like the way it turned out. I will be looking for test knitters by next week. Pictures of the sweater are coming.

At the moment nothing pressing is on the needles. I have two pairs of socks: one toe up the other cuff down in progress, my spring sweater’s back is waiting to be finished, and the Rock Island Shawl is still in a time out, a Shetland inspired baby blanket is still waiting, but instead I have turned my attention to a vintage 1920s baby sweater design and cap that’s been rolling around in my head for what seems like forever. I’ve sketched out the idea. Ruffles on collar and cuffs, with a few inches of smocking on the sleeves and across the upper part of the chest. The problem is that ruffles and smocking don’t go well with the yarn I really want to use. I’ve gone up down and all around with needle sizes, but it’s the yarn. It doesn’t want to ruffle and it doesn’t want to show off the smocking. So I am in need of another yarn. The problem of course is which yarn. Hence, I am without an immediate project. The weird thing is I am not in angst over not having a project. I rather like not having to pick up needles and yarn. This is, of course, worrisome behavior.

Now that I don’t necessarily sit down with yarn and needles before the television, I really can’t help but watch the news and take it in. I find that disturbing. I also get to see all the commercials and experience how trite and stupid they are. Hundreds of television channels and not a thing to watch. How did civilization come to this? I realize there is a lot I don’t take in when I am knitting and perhaps it is the best way to watch television. Otherwise I feel like I am wasting my time.

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It is a true Monday. Not a good thing to be. How awful can a Monday be? Let me count the ways.

It’s raining.

The little frog we were raising all winter, getting ready to put out into the pond died this morning.

The dishwasher that sounded like it was washing the dishes wasn’t. They all had to be washed by hand this morning. Repair man due Wednesday.

The washing machine decided not to drain. A full load of wash is still in it. I plan to bail water out of it later today. Repair man due Thursday.

The kitchen light, which is hard to change and takes a special bulb blew out this morning. I had just climbed up and changed it last week.

We found a tick on Yarn Rascal. I am totally panicked that he’ll catch something horrible.

The can opener broke.

A rather large bird took a rather large poop on the moon roof of my car. So large in fact that the rain isn’t washing it away. I will have to go out and get the ladder and climb up it to reach the roof of the car and scrub it clean. By the way, just in case you ever need some handy small talk at a fancy dinner party, when an eagle, falcon, hawk or other large bird of prey goes potty it is called muting. Big birds mute. If your companion at the fancy dinner party is a hawking fanatic he / she will love that you know this intimate piece of knowledge.

I spent the weekend straining my eyes looking for a particular knit stitch. Today I find that stitch does not exist. Instead it is a combination of knitting and sewing with embroidery thread. I go to print this information to study it and my printer doesn’t work.

I do all the technical things I know how to do to a printer. Try to print again. No go.

I take my laptop downstairs to The Skipper’s printer. I try to print again. No go. The computer for some reason won’t recognize a printer it has always recognized before. I spend an hour trying to get computer and printer to say hello. No go.

I really need this information printed out, but I am wrapping my head around that it might not get done today.

My printer needs to be fixed. That means I have to jockey it up to Best Buy and see if they can fix it. I am sure it is something with the printing head or ink thing. But first I have to wait until it stops raining so I can clean of the bird mute from the roof of my car.

And it’s not even noon yet. Will this day never end?

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The big news around here is we missed the snow. I gleefully removed the covers from the lettuce, peas, and hellebore, but have refrained from tossing the delphinium seeds into the ground. What we did get instead of snow was wind. Lots and lots of heavy wind. Tree limbs and trees all succumbed. Then the eager beavers with their chain saws were out. The buzz of a chain saw is as grating on me as the sound of a dentist’s drill.

So while I was not enjoying listening to the chain saws, I figured it was a good time to tackle the grading of the Feelin’ Groovy sweater. I love math the same way I love root canals, which is not too much. The grading went well up to the point of placing the faux pockets. The world is full of standards. I know this. But try and research pocket placement standards.

When I get in a design jam similar to this I resort to the sewing industry for information. The faux pockets were placed properly for the 12 month size I am knitting. What I need to know is does the distance from the bottom to the top of the pocket stay the same over the other three sizes or does it change. The distance from center changes, but does the vertical distance change too? I strongly suspect it does.

I’ve done two days of searching the illuminating internet and while I can find all sorts of standards for insignia and logo placement on clothing I’m coming up with zilch on pocket placement. The thing about pockets, it seems, is that the garment industry tends to frown on them because they increase production cost. Therefore, wherever and whenever they can do away with them they do.

I searched in every knitting book I have for the answer. I perused every knitting and sewing pattern I have for the answer. I am now into searching library books. When that fails, and trust me, it will, my next search will be at Jo-Ann Fabrics through their sewing patterns looking for the one that most closely resembles what I am doing and covers the sizes I am working in.

If all the above fails, I will make mock ups of the three remaining sizes and eyeball placement. Then I will knit the three separate sizes up to their faux pocket joins to find the specific rows and stitch counts for placement.

If anyone out there has a better way or knows of information regarding pocket placement on the front of a child’s sweater please let me know. The picture of where the faux pockets go looks like this:

Feelin' Groovy Sweater

In the meanwhile, I am going to knit the collar of the sweater. I completed sewing in the sleeves and seams last night while watching The Skipper’s grandson’s team lose in the latest basketball tournament play. Even with this loss, they had a great season and should be proud of what they did achieve.

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I was knitting along on the Feelin’ Groovy baby sweater’s sleeve, positive that I had the wrong numbers, when the weather guy on the television said the words “snow” and “5 to 12 inches” (13 to 30.5) cm. I sputtered a little in my knitting, changing to purl stitches on what was clearly a knit row as I glanced at the television sure the guy was talking about the mountains of Colorado or something equally distant and high. But The Skipper wasn’t watching the Weather Channel, he was watching the local news station.

My next two thoughts were almost simultaneous. Damn I have to rip those purl stitches out and why is the local weather guy talking about the Adirondacks? Before I eradicated the purl stitches I once more looked over my notes and again felt sure I had botched the sleeve numbers. Then I went on to speak about a happier topic: the possibility of getting a jump on the planting season and dropping the delphinium seeds into the ground early. I had, after all, already planted the peas and lettuce.

I returned to knitting the knit rows and purling the purl rows when The Skipper said didn’t I just hear snow was coming for the weekend? I instantly began to purl again on a knit row.

For the record I want MoNa (Mother Nature) to know that I plan to fight back. This morning I bought the proper row covers to keep the snow off the lettuce and the peas. I will install them this windy, grey, gloomy afternoon. Also, I am not going to plant my delphinium seeds as planned. As for the hellebore that has promising blooms on it, I am going to construct a cover to save it from your wrath. MoNa can do what she wants this weekend, while I figure out why the numbers on the knitted sleeve seem wonky.

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When placing buttons and buttonholes, some knitters make the mistake of measuring each placement. The tape measure is of little help in getting accurate placement because knitted fabric stretches and what is 2″ (5) cm one time may not be the same measurement the second time. The trick to placing buttons and buttonholes precisely is counting rows.

Know how many rows you get per inch and you can place buttons and their corresponding buttonholes right where you want them. According to pattern standards the first and last button is usually place 1/2 inch (about 1.25) cm from the top and bottom of the garment. The rest of the buttons are spaced evenly between these two.

I do a dry run, laying out the buttons on the back of the garment because the front area where they will go has not yet been constructed. When placing the top and bottom button I figure out how many rows I am working per inch. For the latest baby sweater I am knitting 9 rows per inch. To find how many rows per 1/2 inch I divide 9 by 2 which equals 4.5 rows. I have a choice of rounding that number up or down. I decided to round it down to 4. Thus, I know 4 rows from the top of the garment and 4 rows up from the bottom of the garment will have buttons.

Next, I lay out the remainder of the buttons between the top and bottom. For this particular baby sweater I only had one more to place. I found the middle distance between the top and bottom by measuring between the two buttons. The total distance was 2.5 inches. To find the half way point, I divided the total by 2 and got 1.25 inches. I multiply the 1.25 inches by my row gauge of 9 and I get 11.25 rows as the middle distance between the top and bottom button. Again, I round down to 11 rows.

Now I know that at four rows I need a buttonhole and button. I knit another 10 rows and on the 11th I make another buttonhole. When I am four rows shy of the top of the garment in goes another buttonhole.

Since buttonhole bands and button bands are usually worked separately the row counting works great. On the buttonband when I come to a row where a button will go I mark that row with either a piece of yarn or a removable stitch marker. When it comes to sewing on the buttons opposite the buttonholes I don’t need to fuss or fiddle around because their placement is already marked.

I hope this information helps make placing buttons and buttonholes a little easier.

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Progress is continuing on the Feelin’ Groovy baby sweater. For a bit, I dipped into the realm of Masochistic Designing regarding how to attach the faux pocket tops to the front of the sweater. It had almost become existential angst until I decided to try a three-needle join. A three-needle join is exactly like a three-needle bind off except the bind off move isn’t performed. The three-needle join worked like a charm. I nearly spent a full 15 minutes in a blissful state of accomplishment until I started worrying about whether the faux pocket tops were the right distance apart. That led to worrying about whether they were positioned in the right places vertically. The gnawing question: Were they where pockets should be? Or once the remaining top of the sweater was completed would they look misplaced? Would the entire thing need ripping back to reposition them? And then the ultimate existential question: Why did I design this with pockets anyway? Hence the rest of the night was spent in masochistic design mode. After every row I’d lay out the front to see if the faux pockets looked funny.

With the decreases for the armholes complete it was time to add to my anxiety turn to inserting the button placket. The placket is normally in the middle of the garment. Though I had found and marked the middle stitches in order to place the faux pockets at the appropriate distance apart, I now worried that once the placket was created it would make the pocket placements look off. Thankfully, I realized that I was getting ahead of myself. My most immediate worry need was to remember which side the buttons go on for a girl’s sweater. The placket couldn’t be started without knowing this first.

Looking back, perhaps the easiest way of solving that little dilemma was to just ask Google. Instead, I turned to my ever expanding library of knitting books trying to remember which one contained the information I needed. I knew I read it in one of them. I remembered I even thought of marking the page with a sticky note that protruded from the book and said “button placement info” on it. For some reason, however, I never did that.

Let’s just say the search was lengthy. I scanned through my pattern collection instead looking for a cardigan that would show the side the buttons go on. Armed with that information it was back to knitting…more or less.

Before I could pick up the needles again, I needed to know the distance between each buttonhole. I remembered the book that should have had the “button placement info” tab sticking out of it gave the distances, but I wasn’t going back upstairs to look through everything again when I couldn’t find it the first time. I put the knitting down and called it a night.

Next time I will write about button placement and how to figure it all out.

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knit baby sweater

The back of the Feelin’ Groovy baby sweater is complete. I am working on the front, at the point where the pockets would be inset if I were creating real pockets. I’ve spent weeks thinking about and working with these pockets. Who knew pockets could be such a time consuming, weighty issue? I’ve dithered back and forth over type, size, placement, technique, on and on. As I studied the picture I drew, I finally saw that it wasn’t the pocket that was so important. It was the look of the outside trim that broke up the expanse of turquoise fabric.

Fair enough. So I jettisoned the actual pocket for just the trim. How to attach the knitted trim is what I am wrestling with now. To knit it directly into the sweater would be too much for most knitters. Familiarity with intarsia and stranded color work is a bit much to expect. Creating the trim separately on two double pointed needles is a much easier knit because they are only dealing with stranded color work.
In the picture the two trims are on two double pointed needles. The best way to place them onto the Front is what I am dithering over now.

It’s one thing to draw up a sweater design and another thing entirely to execute it. In the drawing stage I’m not thinking about how to execute the design. I am just going for a certain look. After it’s drawn I think about how to actually create it with yarn and needles. While as the designer I may be willing and able to work more complicated knitting techniques to get the look I want, regular knitters might find these techniques off-putting. Thus the tug of war between design idea and actual 3-D creation. Make it simple but not boringly so. Spice it up with a little interesting technique but avoid over complicated things.

The stranded color work at the hems, cuffs and neck are spicy enough for most knitters. Add shaping for torso, arm and neckline, and throw in a placket and that’s about the limit.

The weather continues to march into Spring. The frog is still alive in his abode. For one little frog he has quite the appetite. I’ve told The Skipper that this is the last frog we’re raising. If he brings in anymore tadpoles they are going right back outside. Yarn Rascal is delighted with having the frog indoors. At night he sits for hours in front of the tank watching and talking to it. When it moves he gets all wiggly squiggly. I’ll get all excited when I place the frog outside in the pond.

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