Stitchville

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Continuing in the spirit of turning knitwear seamless, today’s post is all about turning seamed singlets into seamless ones.

I’ll be using my Kaffe Fassett cotton singlet as an example.

  • Cast on no. of stitches your pattern requires for the front,
  • place marker and then
  • cast on no. of stitches required for the back,
  • place marker (this will be your beginning of round marker).
  • Join for working in the round being careful not to twist the stitches. Apologies, I cannot stop myself from mentioning this last bit of advice – I blame years of writing and editing knitting patterns.
  • And presto! You’re ready to roll…

For me this added up to 260 stitches.

Now the trick is to follow instructions for the front on the front section stitches, and for the back – on the back section of stitches.

In case of my singlet it is stockinette stitch for cms to come.

I’ll keep you posted when something noteworthy happens with this project.

 

How to begin?

mini tutorial first

As I have mentioned yesterday on the Stitchville FB page, having finished the cotton cardi designed by Kaffe Fassett (which is being professionally lined as I’m writing this), I felt inspired to start yet another Kaffe Fassett project.

Also cardigan; this time a winter version designed for the gorgeous Rowan Felted Tweed. As with any good practice, once a certain capacity is developed or a warm up stage is finished, it is time to up the ante. And so I’ve decided to do without the seams in this colourwork project.

This short post will tell you how to set up a cardi designed with seams for a seamless cardigan…

mini tutorial second

1. Cast-on no. of stitches required for the right front of the cardi (if you’re adding a garter selvedge like I did in the first Fassett cardi and like I am doing in the second Fassett project also, you will need to cast-on 3 sts to start with (shown on the photo above to the right), then place marker (lime green marker to the right) and only then cast-on stitches for the right front.

To recap, selvedge is useful for weaving in and making up later on.

2. Place marker (1st pastel pink marker counting from the right), cast-on 3 extra stitches which will provide a line of division between the right front and the back of work. Now, I have decided to go for 3 stitches to have a clear vertical line separating the colourwork sections of various parts (i.e. left front, back and right front). When you do this you can follow your instructions word for word without worrying that the pattern in different sections of work will clash. This isn’t a very big deal in the case of this pattern as the body section is worked even (meaning without shapings) but it will become more relevant when working the sleeves where the increases are used to shape the fabric. You can however simply place marker there and go straight onto casting-on the stitches for the back, if you’re working a cardi in a plain stitch in block colour for instance. Similarly, you can opt to have only one or two stitches separating the front and back sections, or 5! It’s your call.

3. Place marker (2nd pastel pink marker counting from the right) and proceed to casting-on stitches of the back section.

4. Then repeat point 2. 3rd pastel pink marker counting from the right shows this on the picture above.

5. Place marker (4th pastel pink marker counting from the right) and proceed to casting-on stitches of the left front section.

6. Place last marker (lime green marker to the left in the above photo) and then cast-on 3 stitches for the selvedge (provided you are adding a selvedge to your work – not every pattern will suggest it!).

The total no. of stitches becomes quite astounding:

3 sts of selvedge + sts of right front + 3 dividing sts + sts of the back section + 3 dividing sts + sts of left front + 3 sts of selvedge

In my case this adds up to 263 sts.

You will need a long circular needle to be able to manage this no. of stitches, which is what puts me on hold with this project. I have mislaid my bag with medium sized circular needles, so I will have to order a couple.

In the meantime I will keep myself occupied with a lovely easy going project. But that is a subject for another story.

 

Mirror reflexions

cardi mirror reflexions

This is one of those lovely, perfect, simple lessons that do not require many words to be taught…

The issue:

How do you avoid having to weave in the ends at the centre in front parts of the cardigan?

The solution:

In a good pattern the left side of the cardigan would have already solved that issue for you. When you start working the right front however, beware of following the instructions for the left front word for word (and they will tell you to reverse shapings, you can count on that!).

You can do so once one tiny adjustment has been implemented.

Simply, wherever possible, join the new lengths of yarn on the outer (seam) side of work. In the above cardigan this was not consistently possible in the stripy section of work, where yarns would have to be switched at random intervals, but once I got to the main pattern section with the lovely thistles, that part became very straight forward. When it was time to work the first row of purple section I was actually facing the right side of work – just like when I worked that exact part in the left side of the cardi (so I would have needed to knit). Time for one tiny adjustment!

I simply slipped all the stitches from one needle to another so that I was facing the wrong side of work. I then joined the yarn and followed all the instructions word for word from that point on (so my first row switched from a knit row to a purl row)… The trick here was to work the flower pattern “in reverse”. The rows that on the left side were right side rows became wrong side rows and vice versa. This was a little taxing at first, but I switched to this new sequence fairly quickly. And, actually, it was fun to be kept on my toes by my knitting like that!

The benefit:

All the woven in threads are neatly protruding on the seam side of the front sections and there are virtually no threads to weave in at the centre, where everyone’s attention will go once this garment sees some wear.

I was able to follow the instructions pretty much word for word when working right side of the cardi, which took a lot of figuring out out of the equation, because the shapings reversed themselves for me!.

Fishing for holiday making students with challenges

I am amidst multiple conversations the subject of which is the upcoming knitting holiday in Bath. One question that never fails to come up is this:

“So how does this holiday / course work?”

Well, the thing is that it can work in a multitude of ways and how it will work for you completely and utterly depends on you and on what you need in terms of meeting the next challenge/s that you have chosen for yourself.

Ever since I started tutoring on the subject of knitting and knitwear design I always insisted that my students work on projects chosen by themselves – even if it was a group course. This meets the very basic requirement we all are subject to. It is that of being (and remaining) engaged and interested, no matter how difficult or challenging the process gets. This also applies to the knitting holiday. The number and complexity of your chosen projects is completely up to you.

OPTION 1: You are a complete knitterly “tabula rasa” and have absolutely no idea how knitting works, but you want to learn.

The following four options concern women who already know how to knit…

OPTION 2: You may choose something easy and keep your focus on relaxation and social aspect of the holiday, which is very rich in itself. In fact, the very notion of deep relaxation, which tends to be desperately deficient in vast majority of  women’s lives, is what inspired the holiday.

OPTION 3: You can also bring a balanced mixture of easy, and anything in between little to very challenging projects. Then you can choose what you work on depending on how you feel…

OPTION 4: Some of us have half-done projects stashed away for a variety of reasons, which may include any of these in any imaginable combination:

  • got stuck and never managed to get unstuck
  • made a terrible mistake and has no idea how to rectify it
  • doesn’t know the required technique
  • got incredibly bored
  • lost patience
  • had a nervous breakdown and quit knitting altogether
  • cannot figure out what the pattern is trying to say
  • loves starting projects so much that never has the time to finish them
  • so busy that never has the time to do any actual work on the project (the best it ever gets is just remembering about it and feeling guilty that it hasn’t been finished yet)

OPTION 5: An aspiring knitter who wants to push her own boundaries and is ready to take on a super challenging project. In this case, we will work together to get the project set up and started correctly, to go over all required techniques and to get the show on the road and well under way.

From my perspective, options 4&5 are the juiciest. Their intensity slightly cancels out (or at least has the potential to cancel out) the relaxation aspect of the trip. The reward is a completely overwhelming sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when one either leaves the holiday wearing the thing, whatever it may be, or at least has it all completely sorted out and is on the roll to a glorious finish and the momentum is carrying them along.

My job is to see what you have come to accomplish accomplished, regardless of whichever option you fall into.

Here is a perfect example of what I have just described…

This sweater was in pieces when its creator arrived at South Street last January. It was shelved for well over a year, if I remember correctly, due to a lack of time and a severe lack of what I call “head space”, which very busy people often suffer from.

IMG_1283On arrival it was just the sleeves and a tiny section of the front and back.

By the time we left it looked like this.

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This sweater was actually designed by its proud owner and executed from start to finish under my discreet supervision. In this case, it actually wasn’t the inability to complete the work in technical sense. It was more of a case of making the time and needing to discuss options to fully understand the implications of available choices. And yes, sore hands were involved on this occasion. But every minute of hard graft put into it was worth it and I’m sure that the owner of this gorgeous seamless alpaca sweater would agree.

Knitting holidays have seen many finished projects over the years. The question is:

Whose finished projects will it be in Bath?

The trick is to carry on

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The back of the cardi is now finished and so is the left front section (which in the picture above, taken yesterday, wasn’t quite finished yet). The work actually goes quite quickly (and, frankly, the word “quick” is totally relative here!). I finished weaving in the back section of the cardi on Tuesday and cast-on for the front on Wednesday. The front was finished yesterday and I just finished weaving in the ends earlier this morning.

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It’s not hard to see what “scares” so many knitters away from colourwork. It really takes finishing up to a whole new level. There are a few tips, however, which I am going to share here because they help to take the edge off working and finishing colourwork pieces:

  • If you are comfortable with both (Continental & English) knitting techniques, I highly recommend working colourwork using English technique. It produces much more even stitches and is worth the extra trouble, even if the price I personally pay for it is being significantly slowed down, as I am a natural born Continental knitter.
  • As you are working your pattern anchor the travelling threads at the back by crisscrossing them with the working yarn. This really helps to manage the multitude of threads at the back of work, which otherwise can easily get overwhelming. It also helps to tension the threads correctly, which in turn allows to produce much more even stitches. This process will produce a very characteristic wrinkling of the knitted fabric. It is particularly visible before blocking. It’s a little bit like with lace blocking in that, once blocked, it will smooth out beautifully.

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  • Weave in as you go; i.e. I have done weaving in on the back before casting on for the left front, e.c.t. This breaks up the arduous task into smaller, more manageable pieces and makes for a much more varied making process.
  • When you turn work, anchor the colour thread on a stitch of main colour, so that when you work the pattern in the opposite (to the row before/below) direction, it is easier to tension the edge stitches of the pattern.

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  • Stitches anchored on the selvedge look like this from the right side of work:

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  • Add a garter stitch selvedge to your project. It will come in handy for weaving in the loose threads and it will let you avoid weaving into the actual fabric of the project, where it would be much more noticeable. Having selvedge also will insure that you won’t lose any fabric because of having to sew the edges into the seams, thus affecting your sizing. The last thing you want is to spend hours on end on a project like this only to discover that the finished garment is too small!

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Before weaving in…

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…and after. I cut the remaining threads to roughly 3cm.

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I am rather pleased with the shoulder shaping on the back although, in terms of weaving in, these tiny bits of colour are a nightmare to secure, as there is no fabric available to weave in discreetly. It literally takes tying tiny knots!!!

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As you can see I did not cast-off the stitches of the shoulder curve, as recommended in the pattern. I’ve decided to seam the shoulders using 3-needle bind-off. I think it will be nice to have a feature seam in this prominent place, as otherwise it will be a clash of “shaped away” flowers. Just my personal preference…

All for now. Later today I am planning to cast-on for the right front.

Friendly deadline

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It appears to be the case for me that some projects are simply never ending. Not necessarily because I am not capable of finishing them. I simply get distracted. I’m sure many of you can relate to this omnipresent phenomenon… Frankly, my  own flippant attitude to completing what I begin (at least on occasion) shocks me!

This is precisely what happened to a cotton Kaffee Fassett cardigan I cast-on for some 5 years ago. I got the project started in the summer (it was a “holiday treat” project). Alas, summer ended well before I even completed the back of the cardigan. And so it went in the box and promptly got forgotten amongst many other projects, which needed to be completed because they were “work” projects.

Having seen the recent Kaffe Fasset exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, I “unearthed” the box from the bottomless depths of my yarn room and had my senses pleasantly tickled at the sight of the lovely summery colours. I resolved to finish the cardigan and the matching vest in time for the knitting holiday in Bath this September. I shall greet the Ladies arriving at Elton House proudly wearing my completed and fully lined cardi, beaming with satisfaction of a woman who knows how to put pressure on herself in the most loving of ways and to complete what she has started.

PS: The other unfinished summer project started mere 2 years ago is a cotton blanket for the kids. This one is also geting finished this summer. I shall keep you posted.

BESPOKE

The very first independent title from Stitchville is out today!

And in it:

… and more.

Check it out! BESPOKE * s l o w   c l o t h e s BOOK 1 is now available here (in PDF format). Or you can buy it on iTunes.