Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Saturday, February 15, 2003  


Update on the Sigvaldi. I’ve been knitting on the body all this past week. The second skein of yarn ran out at about 3 inches from the underarm, and since I began the 3rd skein there have been several breaks in the yarn. Two knots I didn’t want in the sweater plus the original break caused by starting a new skein. This many breaks, in about 2 inches, really bothered me, though I am one of those fortunate who quite enjoys weaving in the tails. So I just set the body aside and began the first sleeve. And by gum, while working on the pattern of the cuff I remembered that I wanted to put in some short row bust darts - and - I like to put them in at 1 inch before the underarm seam! Whew! I guess the yarn was just reminding me to put them in. Or at least the knitting angel was looking out for me.

About bust darts. I never make a sweater for myself without them these days. They really do make my sweaters hang more attractively. I usually add one or two inches of them, the number decided largely by how big the sweater is and how bulky the yarn (big and/or bulky getting 1 inch of them, fine gauge and/or fitted may get 2). I use the row gauge to determine how many short rows I have to make. On this sweater I’m getting about 6 rows to the inch, so I will do 3 pair of them. I’ll knit across the front till I’m one inch (4 stitches) before where a side seam would be. Then I will slip the next stitch from the left needle to the right, bring the working yarn between the needles to the front, slip that stitch back from the right needle to the left, and take the yarn between the needles to the back. This is called a wrap. Then I’ll purl back to within 4 stitches of the other side seam stitch, wrap and turn and knit back to within 4 stitches of the first wrap, perform another wrap and turn, purl back to within of that side’s wrap, wrap and turn, and repeat this one more time in both directions.

So you see, short rows come in pairs. One lengthens only a part of a garment - usually over the bustline for a woman, over a tummy for whomever needs it, and across the back of the neck for everybody. I don’t knit all the way to the side seam for several reasons. First, I like to make EZ’s phony seam. Also, I want the side seam of the garment to hang straight. I have watched Meg Swansen put in short rows that covered more than 50% of a sweater’s circumference, but it was at the neck and I don’t remember the details.

I stagger the short rows, making the lengthened section narrower with each pair of short rows because Maggie Righetti told me to in her book Sweater Design in Plain English, AND because I have enough sewing background to know that’s what a real dart looks like. It’s just that in knitting we add the extra fabric in the center and in sewing we pinch and fold it out of the side seams.

Anyway - thank you knitting angel

And I am several inches along the first sleeve - finished the 11 row pattern and I’ve added almost all the extra stitches needed to reach the 33% Sigvaldi’s pattern calls for. One major change I made in my sleeve was to knit a much smaller cuff than the rest of the sweater called for. I am not using smaller needles to knit my ribbing. Partly ‘cause I’m too lazy to find the size 5 circulars needed, and partly because I like how the ribbing looks done in the same needle as the rest of the sweater. But when I cast on 48 stitches I got a cuff I could put my foot through!! It would gape open all around my wrist and completely defeat the purpose of this sweater, which is to wear outdoors doing winter garden stuff and walking through the forest. So I took it down to 36 stitches and increased to 48 when I finished the ribbing. This allowed for 6 pattern repeats. I’m increasing up to 60 now (have 2 more increase rows to go).

We had a lovely holiday weekend coming up and it began to snow today with a vengeance. What a waste of a good snow. I had to cancel my afternoon class. We’ll probably make that one up by having a class on March 1. I also had a funeral to attend, in the spitting sleet. But if the forecast is fulfilled, non-stop snow through Monday morning, we won’t be opening the library on Tuesday either. This would put my sweater class off schedule. I’ll survey the students and see what works for them.

My morning kids class turned into a private lesson since on of the girls was sick. We worked on beaded knitted purses. Way cool, if I do say so myself. It was an easy fun project. We used Woolease bulky and plastic pony beads with holes wide enough to thread the yarn using our tapestry needles. The girls are doing purses with monogrammed flaps. (or perhaps I suggested this to them and they liked the idea) One evening last week I charted out the layout for the beading on graph paper, using 2 colors, one for the bead and one for all the rest of the stitches. This chart made it easy for me to explain why we needed to thread the beads on before knitting, why we had to start at the end of the bead design and work back one row at a time. It also allowed me to explain how to read knitting charts. What a totally useful project for teaching kids complex knitting skills while making an easy, but hip-enough item.

My student decided to have a purple C in the middle of the flap with yellow, green and orange in repeating sequences down the edges. So we threaded our yarn and began.

Cast on 5 stitches
k 2, kb (knit a stitch with a bead on it), k 2
k1, m1, k3, m1, k1
k2, kb, k1, kb,k2

This is the basic idea of how the beaded flap will work. Following the chart we knew which stitch to make a kb stitch. We made some errors, and discussed all the ways we could fix them; from ripping out, to smashing a bead that was in the wrong place and just sewing a bead in the right place when we were finished, to just changing our mind about what we wanted the design to be. What a fantastic opportunity to go into all the ways of fixing things and deciding on just what level of expertise a person might want to apply to a given project.

Once the flap is finished the student can knit either in garter stitch or st. stitch, till she has a piece twice as long as she wants her purse to be. Then it’s just a matter of folding the straight part in half and stitching the side seams. the flap will fall nicely, without the need for a purl turning row, because the beads add enough weight to make the flap fall over the front.

I’ll photo or scan the finished purse next weekend and post it here. And I’ve promised the student who had the flu a private lesson too so she can make her purse.

I can’t think of anything more rewarding than sharing this glorious craft with a new generation. Next Saturday, the last class, will be about kool aid dyeing, making knitting needles, and anything they still feel confused about.

‘Course, this is a reeeeeeeeealy small community and I am easy to find after school. One student’s mom works in the building behind mine and the other lives only blocks away.

posted by Bess | 9:24 PM