November 22, 2013
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October 28, 2013
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Well, Messing About in Boats, of course!
This is a drive-by posting to announce the release of this perfectly pocketed pattern.
Messing About in Boats is a sweater to live in – or mess about in.* From a design perspective, it was one of those rare projects that simply worked from beginning to end. My lived-in sweater turned out with just the right amount of ease, slouchiness, length, and comfort. Things appeared where I wanted them (neckline, cuff, bumforgiving hem split, pocket placement) without a single frogging or rethink.
And I had 2 yards of yarn left after casting off… Phew!
(I’m knitting a second one, while trawling the internet for yarn for a third.)
* Annabel, a valiant test knitter and Island Knitting Retreat creator, invented the name – an homage to Ratty and Mole, and possibly to pooling.
September 9, 2013
Just back, inspired, soothed, and rather giggly from my first but definitely not last knitting retreat.*
It took place Bland Tomtar & Troll in a haven of sea, lichen, and wilderness on a nature reserve in the Norwegian archipelago (in truth, it is more Elsa Beskow Tomtebobarnen (Children of the Forest)). We were quite oblivious to the impending election and possible change of power, or any other news.
The landscape itself is magic in any season or weather.
The real magic, perhaps, was four days of balmy, warm – even hot (!) – sunny weather, and starry nights. In Norway. In September.
And there was also the magic of the generosity and off-kilter humour of knitters.
An added bonus for me: thanks to the patient trial-runners the Ziggurat workshop format got whipped into shape.
And that without anybody getting stabbed with knitting needles and only two cases of serious frogging.
Allow me to present our magic hostess, Princess Tuvstarr (aka Annabel) and her Prince (aka Fred).
Our own Tuvstarr at the helm (in so many ways):
True to their reclusive character, the trolls made no appearance. We did leave a greeting for them in the guest book by the bronze-age burial site. Just in case. It’s right behind us here:
For this trial-run retreat, we all, more or less, knew each other from previous Ravelry (and the Posh Yarn Group) meet-ups so we knew beforehand we were up for a long weekend of serious fun.
Still, I had very much hoped to meet one or two other knitters who either couldn’t make it or for whom there simply was no space this time around. Next time!
*This was the wildly successful trial run for what are to become regular knitting retreats run by Annabel, knitter, cook, basket-weaver, hostess extraordinaire. A huge thank you to everyone, and especially to Annabel for hosting, and to her and knitter & tech editor Stephanie Boardman for planning & logistics.
p.s. By special request I have refrained from posting my seventytwelve photos of moss and lichen. (I may not be likewise restrained in part two.)
August 15, 2013
Only three days left to sign up!
Jenni is running her exciting Great Finnish Yarn Club again, a club that pairs the talents of wonderful Finnish indie dyers with some very talented designers (well, at least I can honestly say so about the other three…).
You get four instalments of yarn & a pattern designed for that particular yarn.
I’m really pleased to be the designer for December (my sort of month in so many ways) and to be working with Tuulia Salmela’s beautiful Knitlob’s Lair yarn. (I just knitted a happy striped cardigan with one of her other yarns, Väinämöinen.) This is a teaser for the scrummy December yarn:
It’s displayed in the decidedly non-club theme, Colour-drained Late Summer Doldrums (you can spy the second “colour” in the centre – already wound).
In the club you have the choice from one of three more enticing colour schemes:
- Dark November Nights
- Harvest Time
- Misty Autumn Mornings
I look forward to seeing how the dyers have interpreted these themes.
(A note on the pricing: for EU customers, the listing does not include VAT – tax (19%) and shipping (about €25) is added at the end. Just so you don’t get more of a surprise than you want.)
August 13, 2013
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for the perfect NECKLINE (or underarm or anything, really…)
No gaps, no holes.
There are video tutorials for the basic method here and here (from about 4:06). These are good for seeing the general technique in action. They start from no stitches (and also show how to use this cast on as a provisional cast on… which is too fiddly for me).
For a neckline on a top-down pullover that is knit in the round, your cast on is an extension of already existing fabric and stitches.
This is how to do it.
(Yarn in photos: Fyberspates Vivacious DK in Spiced Plum and Peacock)
1. At the end of a RS row at Right Front edge, turn work over.
WS is facing.
2. Borrow the first stitch to make the initial loop for casting on.
Here, the crochet hook is slipped inside this first stitch so that it can be slipped off the knitting needle.
The yarn stays behind the knitting needle.
3. Fetch the yarn to pull it through the borrowed loop to make the first cast on stitch.
4. First stitch is cast on.
5. Place the yarn behind knitting needle to cast on the next stitch.
6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 until the required number of stitches is cast on.
Note: If you are substituting this crochet cast-on for another cast-on, you need to cast on one extra stitch before replacing the borrowed stitch (step 8 below).
If you are following one of my patterns and there is a crochet cast on, then the extra stitch is already accounted for.
The extra stitch is decreased on the next round.
7. Final stitch. You still have a loop on the crochet hook.
8. Place this loop on the knitting needle. This replaces the stitch you borrowed at the beginning.
9. Cast on is complete.
10. Turn work over and join to Left Front for knitting in the round.
11. Knit in the round to 1 stitch before the first cast on stitch (the one that used a borrowed stitch).
12. Make an SSK with the next two stitches (the last front stitch & the first cast on stitch).
(SSK: slip 1 knitwise, slip 1 knitwise, knit the slipped stitches together through the back loop)
13. Looking good.
14. Knit across all cast on stitches to Left Front.
Consider the pesky space.
15. Make a YARNOVER with LN to close the space – in the yarn between the last cast on stitch and the first Front stitch (not with the working yarn).
16. K2tog – knit the first Left Front stitch together with the yarn over you just made.
17. Contemplate the beauty of your work.
19. And left.
This neckline can be left unfinished or finished with a collar of some sort. My sweatrrr and Simple Ziggurat have simple collars added, but could both be left raw, when raw is this smooth. (See photo below.)
The crochet cast on can also be used to add stitches to the fronts of a cardigan as in Strrripes, for example (see previous post!) or for any cast-on knitted back and forth rather than in the round. The decreases on the following row then differ a bit (for Right Front you make p2togtbl on WS and for Left Front a k2tog on RS).
This is a photo of sweatrrr with the neckline left raw:
(Yarn: Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Silver & Bronze)
August 11, 2013
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One simply cannot have too many stripes.
OK, so the challenge was and still is this: how do you start from one shoulder and wind your way down to the hem in one piece of knitting, while striping and with absolutely minimal cutting and joining of skeins? And achieving symmetry? And no finishing left to do when you’re done?
The challenge is still on for even if the Ziggurat method is now worked out and finessed in general – I have so far worked out the turns and joins for 6-row stripes (as in the blue/green cardigan above) and 4-row stripes (below) – there are other possibilities…
Each variant of striping and pullover versus cardigan works differently; the colour change has to happen in different places – unless one likes cutting, joining, sewing. That, too, is of course possible.
(I like sewing. I like knitting. I just don’t like to sew my knitting. When I’m done knitting, I want to be done done.)
Oh, and a knitter just asked about using multiple colours, not just two. I have work to do!
p.s. The fabulous yarn for the Strrripes cardigan at the top is dyed by Ce of The Uncommon Thread. Her BFL Sock yarn has fantastic sheen and drape. It’s almost hard to believe there is no silk involved. The happy, gorgeous colours in the other cardigan are dyed by Tuulia of Knitlob’s Lair. The yarn is Väinämöinen, a 4-ply sock yarn. (The pattern is not available yet but will be.)
June 17, 2013
Water flows under bridges (and, for many unfortunate people, over).
Yarn has been knitted, frogged, and knitted again.
I will not try to account for any or even some of the yards since the first Ziggurat design (Koronki) or since the first Sweatrrr (pre-Ziggurat).
I’ll just show off one of the more successful uses of not too many yards knitted with the Ziggurat method.
More precisely, a mere 3 skeins.
3 skeins and Ziggurating.
The original Sweatrrr sleeve (Posh Yarn Elinor triangle & Hannah sleeve):
Now the 3 skeins sufficed. Almost.
Something else was if not quite necessary at least vaguely desirable. Solution: some contrasting intarsia squares, aka carefully crafted blobs (it’s possible that this technical term is © Helen/stickeri), and matching contrasting hems and neckline to further stretch the 3 skeins.
There is some picking up of stitches, but no cutting of the yarn.
Well, when you’ve cast off at the hem, yes.
I can’t see myself knitting sweaters with any other method for a long, long time. I’m almost sillily excited each time I cast on a new one (there’ve been a few lately…) to see how it gradually but quickly takes on the shape of an actual sweater.
The shoulders look almost sculpted.
The precise, neat faux seam along the shoulder caps (in the photo: Tric, a cardigan)
The shaping – shapely and flattering, not clingy. Unless one wanted cling, of course. I don’t. But it can be done.
There are just sooo many advantages on top of the commonly known ones for any top-down design.
For example, knitting top-down, as all top-down converts already appreciate, allows you to try on the sweater for fit as you go.
Experienced knitters can easily accommodate larger or smaller assets, adjust for shorter or longer armholes, and so on. (The Ziggurat patterns feature a Helpful Table which gives an overview of neck and armhole shaping and which can be easily adjusted.)
I have developed and perfected this technique over the past year (respectfully inspired by Tuulia Salminen’s Tailored Sweater Method), and with much cheering on and editing expertise supplied by supreme Tech Editor Steph Boardman. Oh, and with not a few requests for more precision about exactly where that second cap-stitch is picked up and possibly why.
I just knit and see where and how it looks best. Aka knitting with abandon!
That apparently is not OK for pattern instructions…
This past winter I made a basic design that might be good for learning the Tricnique in the first place. The idea was also to make use of those odd skeins one might have lying about. In my case it was a beautiful and loud green skein of Nimu Sizergh which screamed out to be combined with its sister yarn Faery Wings from Fyberspates – both yarns are a silk-mohair-nylon blend, less mohairy than most mohair yarns, and with a lovely (addictive) silky drape:
It’s the sweater I’ve been wearing most this year (well, that and my Tric cardigan). That it’s knitted with Faery Wings probably helped.
At the moment I’m obsessed with strrripes.
For symmetry (intended asymmetry is GOOD, unintended BAD) each version has to be worked out individually.The 6-row striped cardigan will have its turns in a different place than the 4-row pullover, and the 6-row pullover at a different place again.
There’s been much frogging lately.
And some successes.
I’d like to mention also my other supreme tech editor, Rachel Atkinson, who patiently edits most of my shawl patterns and kid sweaters. Of which there will be more.