Tuesday, 27 January 2015

fitting hiro - torso shaping

I'm installed in a supermarket cafe while the car has it's MOT. This must be the ideal opportunity to explain the torso shaping for Hiro.First I want emphasise a few things about body measurements. Once a year I stand about in my bra and knickers whilst The Hairy Man weilds the tape measure. All the measurements are carefully recorded in my note book. My measurements don't change much from year to year, but I want to be sure that the thing I'm about to knit will fit me now. I don't measure myself with clothes on because they obscure your body, and make it difficult to measure accurately. I also know that adding 5cm to my bust measurement makes a loose garment that will fit over most shirts. If I don't add any ease, the jumper will still fit comfortably over a fitted shirt. Anything with more that 5cm ease looks baggy and oversized on me.I once had my measurements taken by somebody who had no idea what they were doing, and was bashful about seeing me in my bra. The dress I was making turned out two sizes too big. The Hairy Man is an engineer, and measures carefully. He checks that there are no twists, and that the tape is sitting where it is supposed to. And that the tape is not held too tight as I pretend I'm skinnier than I am.For the torso calculations I needed measurments for my bust, waist, and hip. We also took three centre back measurements. By centre back I mean the knobbly bit at the top of the spine where your neck starts. So, we measured centre back to the point I wanted the jumper to stop on my hips, centre back to waist, and centre back to the point where I like armpit of my jumpers to be.

The next step is to work out the actual garment dimensions. My hips measure 105cm. I like my jumpers to be slim fitting round my hips, (It looks good, and they stay in place) so I took off 5cm. The rest of the jumper I wanted to be loose fitting, so added 5cm to my waist and bust measurements. Then I used the centre back measurements to work out the distances from the hem to the waist (don't forget to subtract the length of the hem or ribbing from this number), then from waist to armpit.

Bother! I've spelt gauge wrong. If only there was a spell checker on my pencil.

Then I worked out how many stitches I needed at the bust, waist and hip. I like to round my numbers up or down so that they are even. The number of stitches for the bust was already set out in the pattern from the size I'd selected. From there I worked out the number of decrease rows I need to work to get to the waist, and the number in increases to get to the bust.

We're almost there. We just need to know how many rows there are between increase and decrease rows. I had a look at my length measurements and did some fudging. I like to knit straight for a couple of centimetres just after the hem, at the waist, and just before the armhole. So I decided to spread the shaping sections over 10cm.
Finally, I did something a bit fancy. The pattern would have you make the increases and decreases at the side seam. I think a jumper fits better if they line up with your bust points. Bust points is just a way of saying nipples in polite company. To know where to place your shaping, you need to know how far apart your nipples are. Once I've worked out how many stitches the shaping is from the side seam I place markers for the front and back shaping (four in total). The increases and decreases need to be worked before the marker on the right side of the garment, as it faces you, and after the marker on the left side.
If you're the sort of person who doesn't like maths, I really hope my scribblings haven't put you off. It takes me about half an hour to work all this out, and I really do write it all out as you see here. I like to be able to go back and see what I meant by all those numbers. I also hope this jersey actually fits me, otherwise I'm going to look like a proper tit!


Thursday, 22 January 2015

DPN Point Protectors

The monsters have invaded. A few weeks ago I spent the day with a friend who had a wonderful set of point protectors for her DPNs. It was a very nice little gadget that looked quite easy to make.

My version is not quite so elegant, but you don't always need to be sophisticated to do the job. And I rather like the way they peep out of my knitting bag. Credit for the basic design has to go to this YouTube video. The pop-up toys, and 5 mm stretchy nylon came from Amazon. The Hairy Man has a special drill for making models, and I used a 2 mm bit to make the holes. This was just large enough to get a small darning through. I doubled up the nylon for extra strength. There was scope to drill the holes a bit bigger. Next time I'd use a thicker nylon, although there haven't been any breakages with the thin stuff yet. It's tempting to try a version with Lego pieces.

So sock knitters, if you fancy pimping your DPNs, I can highly recommed this as a fun little project. Can't wait to see what ingenious little nick nacs you find for end caps.




Friday, 9 January 2015

fitting hiro - getting guage

This weeks bag.

This week I’ve been listening to the ShinyBees podcast while I sew. In the last episode Jo had been talking about the fit of her knits, and how she’d like the things she makes in 2015 to fit her better. Fit has never been a huge problem for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a sewer, and understand how to apply my measurements to the things I make. Or maybe it’s because I can try on a load of stuff that doesn’t fit me in a shop, and DO NOT want to replicate the experience at home with garments that have consumed hours of my time.

Recently though, I’ve been knitting Hiro. This pattern calls for a worsted yarn, and I’m using Wollmeise DK so there has been a lot of adjusting. I wanted to share this process with you so that you can follow my journey in adjusting the pattern for the yarn, and for my body measurements.

Obviously I swatched. I don’t like swatching, but I loath spending weeks making a jumper that doesn’t fit. The original intention was to make a Custom Fit cardi, so I was trying a few things out with the yarn too. Then I washed the swatch. This is important because it grew by one stitch per 10cm in the wash. If the guage measurements had been taken before washing, the whole jumper would be 5cm to big in the gerth. That’s a lot of extra fabric.

The first swatch came out at the guage recommended on the ball band, but I really didn’t like the fabric. Wollmeise has no halo, even after washing, and it just looked loose to me. The second swatch was firmer, but not so tight that the fabric lost its drape.

At this point I spotted the Hiro pattern, and fell for the bold pixelated yoke. Hiro is knitted in the round, and my guage is slightly tighter when I’m not purling. Rather than swatching again, I decided to use the sleeves as a giant swatch. If you’re going to do this, you need to be cool with the idea of ripping out a large portion of sleeve. I’m cool with the idea, but in practice I’ve never actually had to do it... yet.

I used the guage information from the second swatch to choose the size I was going to knit. I took my bust measurement, and added 5cm ease. 5cm gives me enough space so that the jumper feels loose over a shirt. Any larger than this, and it starts to look over sized or baggy. Then I divided this by my stitch guage to determine how many stitches I needed at the bust. In the Hiro pattern all the fancy stuff happens at the bust, in that that shaping is worked in with the colour work; so I choose the size where the stitch count at the bust most closely matched the number of stitches my calculations told me I needed. This was the 57".

So, the sleeves were cast on and knitted. I cast them off with scrap yarn, and put them through the washing machine. They dryed, and I lay them flat to take row and stitch guage measurements from four different places. Then I found the average of all four measurements. You’ll notice that I don’t always take my guage measurements over 10cm. My rule of thumb is to take them over the largest area possible, but sometimes that’s more like the largest area bearable!

The stitch guage came out almost exactly the same as the guage from my swatch, which saved a lot of weeping behind the couch. And I now have enough information to work out the torso. There is a bit more maths in the next installment. None of it’s hard. Stand by.



Wednesday, 7 January 2015

curl up and dye.. again

The Busy Aunty Henley wasn't the only thing that fell foul of those dastardly pink socks. There was also an off white woollen camisole that came out of that wash an insipid pink colour. Woollen camisoles are neither easy to come by or cheap in this country, so I thought it was worth trying to restore it.

This is probably a good time to talk about the Regia Flourmania socks. Did you recognise them? I contacted the seller, who said I could have my money back if I could return the product unused!?! Then I contacted Coats Crafts, who said that I should return the faulty product to them in its current state. So I put the socks on the side ready to package up and send off.

A month later they were still sat there while I tried to disassociated myself from all that knitting. So I tossed them in the same dye pot as the camisole.

This time I left both garments to soak for about an hour before I added the dye (carefully diluted in hot water), and popped it in the oven. The pot came out about half way through for a stir.

As you can see, both garments are still blotchy. Even after an hour I don't think the wool was properly saturated. There would have been more stiring during the process, but I have a memory like a sieve.

Neither of these things were in great shape when they went into the dye pot, so I'm counting this little experiment as a definate improvement.

I've never had much success with dying complete gartments. And always seem to end up with a blotchy homemade effect. I'd only ever try this again for items that were in complete crises. I'd love to have more dying experiments with yarn and fibre. I can live with a "semi-solid" look to my finished objects!



Tuesday, 6 January 2015

curl up and dye

Last week began with a washing machine disaster. We still haven't identified the culpret, but there is a lovely soft pair of pink merino socks who is the main suspect. The incident occured in last Monday's wool wash, which contained a sample for The Busy Aunty's Henley pattern. This little sweater had been lovely clear yellow. It came out of the wash a horrid vomit sort of yellow.

It was tempting to hide behind the couch and weep quietly, but really what would the point in that have been. Nothing was ever going to restore that lovely yellow colour, and I had mainly knitted it to check some of the changes that had been made to the pattern during the editing process. Really all that had been lost was a short moment of Finishing Glory.

I don't purposefully go looking for dying opportunities, but when they present themselves one might as well take the bull by the horns. There's been a selection pack of Landscapes Dyes laying about here for a while, so why not try them out.

The nice thing about these dyes is that there are no additives required. I took the vomit yellow henley, tossed it in the dye pot, covered it in water, tipped in the whole pot of dye, then left the whole thing in the slow oven for five hours. At the end of the day I drained off the dye, and gave the sweater a bit of the rinse. The yarn was a superwash, so I put the jumper through two cycles in the washing machine. Then I left the machine on for an empty cycle to make sure there was no residual dye lingering in its workings.

The result was blotchy, and the dye didn't pentrate right to the middle of the yarn. The instructions that came with the dye recommend that you soak the garment before you dye it, and this might have resolved my penetration problem. Taking the pot out of the oven, and giving things a stir might have prevented the uneven colour.

I've had this sitting out on my desk for a few days now, and I'm not sure if the dye job is an improvement. What do you think?



Friday, 2 January 2015


Hellooooo. Welcome back. Happy New Year to you and yours. Thank you for sticking with me for another year, and for returning to find out what exciting things this year holds. Did you make a resolution? I did not. I'm not big on the resolutions. Last year I did. And. Well. I think it lasted till about April. So I'm just going to leap right in, and talk about my current project.

About a month ago I started knitting the Hiro sweater. It was to conteract all those randum November hats, and the Christmas knitting. Not that there was a lot of Christmas knitting. It was that I'd knitted a load of stuff for nobody, then some stuff for other people. And it started getting a bit cold. I'd been getting excited about Kate Davies book 'Yokes' coming together, and then fell for the modernity of Hiro.

I wanted the colours in my Hiro to be very clear and bright, so it was a great excuse to spend an age loitering about the Wollmeise website picking out combinations. The yarn duely arrived, I freaked out over the brightness of the Fruhling, and promptly sent off for the more muted green. I love the bright green, but wasn't convinced that it really worked as an over all thing.

Bear with me, we are getting to the talk about needles.

A while ago I popped a set of Drops Pro Fixed Circular needles in with an order I'd made. They were £2.50, and it threw me into the free postage zone rather than spending that £2.50 on postage. They are a size 2.5mm, and I used them for the ribbed cuff on the sleeve. They've had another outing as well, but I can't remember exactly what for. Perhaps it was the Christmas gift socks that haven't yet been reported here. But they have definately been trialled for more that one project. Anyhow, I liked them. You can spend a lot of money of needles, so it is worth knowing when you don't have to. I liked the feel of the needle surface, and the tip was the right amount of pointy. The join between the needle and the cable is fine. It's not perfectly smooth, but I haven't had any catching. And the plastic cable is the right amount of flexible. How do they compare to my other needles? I like the pointyness of the tips better than the Addi Turbos I have in the same size. For sock knitting, I prefer this cable over the ChiaoGoo's.

Joeli gave the Drops Basic range a favourable review on her podcast this week. It would be really interesting to hear from somebody who had tried their interchangables.

Unfortunately now I'm going to talk about something I really hated. Most of the time I'll just find a tool mildly irritating. This is the first time I've taken an instant dislike to something. I have a few of the Twist tips, and cables from ChiaoGoo; and have been using them quite a lot. I am going to need a longer cable for the body of Hiro, and wanted to try the Spin. They are designed so that the cuff that fits to the needle tip can move freely on the cable. Can you see that jog between the cable and the cuff? That jog is a complete irritation. Right now I'm wondering why I even put this thing back on my needle case. There is no way I would ever want to use it again. This cable lasted less than five rounds in my sleeve before it was ejected.

So there you go. We are starting the year with something I liked, and something I didn't like really hated. I've also just remembered the resolution that came up during a chat with some some knitting chums the other day. It doesn't bode well if it's fallen out of my mind already. More on that later.



Wednesday, 24 December 2014

the night before, the night before...

Thank goodness yesterday is over! I think I was suffering from an acute detail disfunction! In the end it just seemed prudent to tootle off to bed before something catastrophic happened!

It started with the cats. In the morning I'd cut this new fabric with a wonderfully cheery cat print for a batch of bags. I carry out the first few bag making operations while the fabric is still in strips, and separate the bags later. Just as I was about to cut the individual bags apart I noticed that I'd not made my usual adjustment for prints where there is an obvious right way up. If I'd carried on half those cats would have been standing on their heads. Fortunately that little oversight could be redeemed with an unpicker. It was when I was about to start sewing with wrong sides together, that I decide it was probably safer just to back slowly away from the sewing machine, and close the door for the day.

In the evening I set down to finish a pair of Urban Necessity mitts. They are a Christmas knit, but that's okay because there is loads of time to finish putting fingers on the second glove, then put the caps on both. They're made in aran weight yarn after all. So I put on a film and got going. I knitted the ring and middle fingers, realised I'd done them both wrong, ripped them out, and knitted again. When I came to the index finger I realised that the pinky had gone horribly wrong, and was little more than a stump of icord. At this point I wasn't sure I could even proficiently rip them out, and went to bed.

It is 9am, and today is already an improvement. I've caught up on the mitts, and they just need the flip top added. This is the only job I'm giving myself to do today. When that is done I'm going to hunt down a lovely ball of Opal yarn, and cast on a very plain pair of socks... for me.