Too much sunset

I learn by doing. Each project has lessons for me and I embrace them with joy. Each less than perfect spot in a project means the next project will be just that much better because I’ve learned something.

Each sweater I’ve knit has taught me a lot. I can lay a sweater out and show you where I learned something, like how to do intarsia in the round, how to improve the back neck shaping, tweak the shoulder shaping for a flawless fit, perfect faux sleeves . . . the list goes on. I can’t conceive of working a project and not learning something new, not *trying* something new. It’s how I’m wired.

I had a lot of yarn left over from the Sunset sweater. The sun took less than a yard of two different colors. Each block of color used up only a portion of the supply I bought. What I had left over was *almost* enough for a sweater . . . almost. So I bought a couple more skeins of purple and waited for inspiration to strike. And it did!

I saw a sweatshirt on Pinterest that spoke to me. *This* color blocking was what I wanted to knit. Ooo, the challenge!

You can pop this off in raglan . . . it would look great! If you’re interested in trying this, here are the skills you’ll need beyond basic top-down sweater knitting.

Using up the yarn left over from Sunset at the Farm

What? You thought this was hard? Nope. Tedious? Yes. Hard? Not even. The result . . . yeah, that’s pretty spectacular.

The tips on what I will do next time (assuming there is such a thing) are at the bottom of this post. The following instructions are for what I did on *this* sweater.

The angle is created by working a short row turn every fourth stitch starting six stitches from the point at which you want the angle to start. For this sweater it was right under the arm after working the underarm caston.

Place a marker where you want the center top of your angle to start. Work six stitches and then work a SRT (short row turn). Turn your work and work in the opposite direction past the marker and six more stitches, then work a SRT. This completes your angle setup. This next bit is the repeat. Turn and work to the previous SRT. Work the SRT and three more stitches before working another SRT. Repeat until you have ~12 stitches remaining. This is the low side of your angle.

Now work three rows of the background stripe color in the round working all the stitches. Knit the first row, purl the second, knit the third. That’s the separation border between body and striped section.This will be repeated at the end of the horizontal color stripe section before the vertical stripe section.

Now work the horizontal stripes doing the same SRT sequence changing color every second row. Once all the horizontal stripes are complete, work the separation border.

To prep the bobbins for the vertical stripe portion, knit a two-stitch swatch. Do *not* slip any edge stitches. The goal is to get a good estimate of the yarn required for each vertical stripe of color. Knit to the length you want the vertical stripe. Put a temporary knot in the yarn and frog it. Measure from the start of the yarn to the temporary knot. Multiply by 2. Add 10%. If you’ve lots of yarn to spare and are worried that you won’t have enough, add another 10%. That’s the length of yarn you will need for each *pair* of stripes.

Use the *carrying yarn without floats* technique to connect the bobbins to the live stitches. I need to do a video on this. It’s super easy to do but really tough to explain. I’ll add it to my *to do* list. Soon. Maybe.

I worked six rows of seed stitch at the bottom edge of the sleeves and used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Castoff in the stripe colors. I used an invisible closure and worked the ends in. This, too, needs a video. It’s a tiny bit fussy but the join where the start and end of the castoff occurs truly does vanish, like it was never there.

If I were to do this color blocking sweater again I would make the following adjustments. I would . . .

  • extend the angle up/down onto the sleeves for a more harmonious color break. I would start the SRTs on the upper sleeve prior to the separation of the sleeve. This would require a bit of calculation. It would go something like this. Count the sleeve stitches at the underarm caston point. Subtract 12 (for my measurements – it should be about 1/3 the total count) stitches for the top of the angle. Divide that number by 3 (working with the new numbers – see below). That’s the number of SRTs/rows before the underarm caston where the angle must start.
  • make the SRTs every third stitch to give the angle just a little more heft.
  • start the color change under the arm with a jogless stripe connection at the center of the start of the angle so the end of each stripe on back and front matches exactly in technique.
  • knit three rows of horizontal color so the width of the color bands more closely matches the width of the vertical stripes.

So, there you have it. What I did, what I would do in the future . . . it’s a thing.

The downside of inventiveness

So . . . I come up with this ingenious thing and before the ink dries on the “how to”, I come up with something better. Such is the life. What has gone before now needs and update . . . before anyone can even assimilate what I’ve done. *sigh*

Here are the videos on Conti-something. Updates to follow. Watch these videos in order and while you watch,  pause the videos as you work. As always, email me if you have any questions.

1. Overview

2. Caston Math

3. Back neck shaping markers

4. Shoulder row calculations and prep rows

5. Working the drop

6. Fading saddle front

7. Second shoulder

8. Finishing the shoulders

9. Setup for faux set-in sleeves

10. Knitting the faux set-in sleeve cap

Relearning an old skill

This week I’m diving back into programming. It’s been so long much has changed. The latest iteration of PHP is so different much of what I knew before must be rediscovered. What fun!

For months I’ve had in mind a program to produce conti-something stitch and row counts based on the user’s gauge and measurements. Paired with a database in which the data resides, the program will make all the necessary calculation to produce a garment that fits the way the knitter envisions.

I got a good start yesterday. From the initial start a few months ago I polished up the database tables and got the program started. I now have an accurate caston calculation, something I hadn’t done in my spreadsheet. Woot! Let the good times roll!

Why I hate raglan

Fabric folds and bunches and point of shoulder pressure are raglan’s biggest sins.

Contiguous armscye crawl

I started knitting when I was very young. I made a sweater for my son when he was a toddler. It was raglan, but that’s not why I hate raglan. I hate raglan because it can never fit properly unless the body wearing it is very slope shouldered and the wearer keeps their arms out at a 45 degree angle to match the hang of the sleeves. Raglan is always loose at the neckline and tight at the shoulder with bunched fabric under the armscye. Sure it’s easy to knit/sew but it’s always a bad fit.

But here’s the thing. It is SO easy to knit it gets used all the time by knitwear pattern designers because they know people buying their pattern can mindlessly knit the result. Dolled up with attractive patterns or yarn and it has so much appeal people don’t notice the horrible fit or choose to ignore the horrible fit. Too many years of couture sewing has ruined me. I just can’t do it.

What brought on this rant? For the last two weeks I’ve been wearing good fitting sweaters in blissful comfort. Yesterday I washed them and while I’m waiting for them to dry I am wearing a poorly fitting commercial sweatshirt that bunches under my arms and is damned uncomfortable. Spending time trying to adjust my clothes to be more comfortable just pisses me off. It is wasted time. Ugh.

Contiguous is a great shoulder technique but to my eye it has two problems. Because the shoulder line on a top down contiguous garment cramps (effect of the series of increases in very close proximity), and the narrowness at the top of the sleeve causes the armscye to crawl onto the top of arm at the shoulder, it isn’t an appealing fit. It fits better than raglan but the aesthetics are still problematic.

No gaping, no pulling, no fabric folding, no discomfort.

The shoulder I like is a marriage between raglan and contiguous, separating out the increases between shoulder line and raglan. This solves the cramping caused by clustered increases, solves the problem of the raglan fit, and when paired with short rows on the sleeve cap completely eliminates any fabric folding under the armscye. The problem . . . it’s more complicated to knit. It’s more of a shoulder master class, unsuited to beginning or basic knitters. The technique has a lot going for it, it’s just not simple enough for everyone.

I ordered more yarn yesterday. I clearly don’t have enough sweaters if I have none to wear while they are being washed. Four sweaters is clearly not enough. Not nearly.