Friday, 27 February 2015

fitting hiro - the yoke

The saga that is Hiro has stalled. The yoke and neck are complete. This is a bottom up, yoked pullover. One would think that casting off the neck band means that one should be basking the the warm glow of Finishing Glory. Here's the story from the beginning.

When we last spoke, Hiro was at the armpits. I had studyed the pattern, checked row guage, and determined that the armholes weren't going to be very deep if the pattern was knitted as written. By "not very deep" I mean that I was going to hard pushed to get my hand through that hole, let alone an arm. So I took my favourite sweater, measured the armhole, and calculated that I would need 64 rows between the armpit and neck.

Option one was to add in a few extra rows in the main colour, before starting that pretty yoke pattern. I was rapidly running out of the Nautilus colour, so option one wasn't really an option at all.

Option two was to add in extra pattern rows between the decreases, so that is what I did. I worked about twelve extra rows by repeating specific pattern rows.

The decreases in the yoke also needed a bit of fudging so that the neck would fit. Another case of ending up with a hole that would be too small if I followed the pattern. All the decreases were knitted as written until I came to the very last set. At this point I tried on the jumper, decided how wide the neck should be, and decreased the appropriate number of stitches.

The yoke had been beautifully simple, and the only maths involved was to work out how many rows I'd need to make the armhole deep enough. This is where things have become slightly unstuck.

When I tried Hiro on I realised that the yoke construction does funny things to your length measurements. I'm used to knitting set in sleeves, where you knit straight up to the top of the shoulder, then shape the shoulder slope. A yoke is worked in concentric circles, so the stitches go up at an angle. When I measured my favourite jersey, I measured from the armpit to the top of the shoulder. I should have measured from the armpit to the neckline. This meant that the waist shaping was a couple of centimetres higher than it should have been, and the whole jumper was about 4 cm too short.

I am a tall person. This is not the first time that I've come up short. It's not a reason to fret or panic. Having one small nuget of yarn left is a reason to fret or panic.. or perhaps both. Contacting Wollmeise was fruitless. They were helpful, but had sold out of the yarn. So I did what any sensible knitter does and contacted Ravellers who had used that same yarn, begging for their leftovers. A lovely American lady has come to the resue, and there is a ball of yarn making it's way back accross the Atlantic as we speak.

Meanwhile, I have unpicked the ribbing, and knitted straight down in socking stitch as far as I can. Stand by for the next installment if you want to know how I intend to cunningly hide a completely different dye lot in my ribbing. Until then I shall be knitting something that requires no maths or fitting at all.



Wednesday, 4 February 2015

new phases in knitting

You've definately reached a new stage in your knitting life when you start darning those early socks. Apparently it's harder to show your hand knitted things the bin. This phase might have come sooner for me than most, due to my love of pure wool socks. There is definately a place for nylon when it comes to our earthward extremities, but there is nothing like the lux feel of pure sheep on your feet.

It transpires that I actually like darning. Or perhaps I've just not done enough to be sick of it yet. My little darning egg came from an Etsy seller. There were loads of eggs and mushrooms available, but not many of this concave style. I like that it gives you a wee gap to get your needle in. Hopefully it carries with it some of the competance of darners past.

If you happen to be eyeing an elderly pair of favourite hand knitted socks, and wondering what to do, check out Susan B Anderson's wee video.



Monday, 2 February 2015

socks that fit better

For Christmas last year I was given a plethora of marvellous books. You'll see them trotted out when they're called into service. You've all heard of Lara Neel's Sock Architecture right? If you're in to knitting socks and you haven't seen it, you definately should.

This book is all about making your socks fit well. Lara details a stunning array of heel and toe shaping techniques, then tells you what sort of foot they would suit best. She just takes knitting socks to a whole new level. The book really is as marvellous as everybody says it is. There are only two small things I'm not keen on. I find Lara's writting style slightly verbous, and sometimes I wish there was a picture where there isn't one.

I had already started the Sweet and Spicey socks when the book arrived. They're my first top down socks since I was churning out Fuzzy Feet all those years ago. I decided to throw in the square heel and the swirl toe, because they happened to be stuck in my memory when I came to those sections. The square heel construction just sprang to mind while I was hanging out with some knitterly chums in Whitby. While that swirl toe was a satisfying finish to a Sunday lunch with Bob's step son. They both fit wonderfully. Why on earth did I stick with that awful short row heel shaping for so long?

For the next sock I'm going the whole hog with Lara's fitting directions. I'm using these socks as a guage swatch, and working toe up because there's only about 70 grams of this yarn left. The first swirl toe is complete, so this morning I'm pondering heels.




Sunday, 1 February 2015

i can't draw

Did you look at yesterday's design drawing and think it looked a little, well, rudimentry? That word describes my sketching skills perfectly. There is no way I could have rendered all that, with the right proportions, by wielding pencil over paper. But the secret to making this sort of line drawing is not really a secret at all.

I traced it. The photograph came from Woolly Wormheads marvellous book 'Going Straight'.

Then I added in my design over the top, and coloured it in. What you see here is the final attempted, not all the iterations in between.

There you go. That's what can be achieved with pencil and markers when your drawing skills are a little on the rusty side.


Saturday, 31 January 2015

designing to spec

This, my dear knitterly chums, is antidote knitting. It is the sort of soothing knitting that can be started and finished all today, just for the sake of one small moment of finishing glory. You see today is the last day of the design competition run by A Playful Day. So today I photographed and submitted my design. Phew!

The prize on offer is quite something, so you would have thought the decision of enter was a no brainer. You would have thought... Not me. I spent the first week in January flicking through my design ideas, and noticing that none of them were for accessories. Then I made the mistake of perusing the discussion threads over on Ravelry, marvelling at how complicated some of the other submissions looked, all the while thinking to myself that I don't really design accessories anyway. And maybe I just wasn't good enough.

I was pulling up weeds at the allotment one morning when I remembered this and this, not to mention some of those hats I knitted before Christmas. And it occured to me that good design didn't have to be complicated or technically difficult. So I decided to avoid the forums altogether, and just crack on. For the next fornight I let a few ideas purculate, while I browsed stitch dictionaries, and drew little pictures.

Apparently I do all my best thinking somewhere between the house and the allotment. I was crossing the field on my way there when this nifty little slip stitch pattern popped into my head. The swatches didn't actually come first. I'd settled on the yarns I wanted to use as I ambled home accross the same field and just cast on.

The hat turned out well. At least I'm please with it. The cowl is on the needles, but not finished. And photographs of a half finished thing just didn't look like much.

For me this competition posed three challenges. Coming up with an idea from scratch was the first hurdle. I was a little reluctant to deviate from the designs I'd planned to work on this year, but I really didn't want to pass up this opportunity. For a while I seemed to be thinking of a new idea every day. So I left them in my head for a few days jostling for supremisy till one came out on top.

It turns out that knitting isn't the only technical element of preparing this sort of submission. There were two skills I found challenging. Our SLR is slightly bewildering, and I haven't practiced enough for all the dials and buttons to make sense. I'm always stoud there with the manual in one hand, and the remote in the other. It doesn't help that the tripod is of the cheap and difficult to adjust variety. I might have muttered a few expletives during the photoshoot. I knew well in advance that my rudimentry drawing skills weren't up snuff. Come back tomorrow if you want to see how I got over that obstical.

Finally, I had to get over the idea that I wasn't good enough. The fact is that it doesn't matter if my entry is good enough to win or not. I am good enough to have a go, and the process of having a go has been a real education. Designing is a skill that gets better with practise. This morning, with my stomach in my mouth, I submitted my entry. Now I'm sitting on the couch having a quite warm down knit, and enjoy the quiet meditation of garter stitch.


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.