Sunday, 26 September 2010

Seamless Hybrid

September 2010

The only way to truly appreciate the god-like genius of Elizabeth Zimmermann is to make one of her garments for yourself. And then another. And another. And another...

I mean, just look at this. Look at the way the stitches running horizontally across the body joint the ones running vertically across the shoulders. It looks like a seam, but it's not, it's two separate pieces being joined together with slip-slip-knits and purl2togs. It's something very difficult to visualise until you come to do it, and at that point if you're not taking your metaphorical hat off to Elizabeth Zimmermann as you go, you're probably doing it wrong.

The only caveat really is that Elizabeth Zimmermann's directions are always a little on the informal and minimalist side, so unless you have a bit of experience or are especially daring, it could be easy to end up feeling a bit lost.

For this sweater, she gives detailed instructions for one size and one gauge only, and if you're intending to depart from either you will need to get the calculator out. In fairness her style is very sensible and encouraging, but as others have pointed out, she writes recipes rather than patterns.

Having said that, this was designed in the 1970s, and it's still hard to find a more appealing or well fitting design for a man's sweater. We used some Cascade 200 Heathers in a dark olive green with acid green almost mustardy heathery bits. It's beautiful. And since this project used about 6.5 hanks, the overall cost was in the region of £33.00.

The waistband and cuffs are lined with a pale grey shade of Debbie Bliss' Cashmerino Aran, as I had half a skein of it going begging. The neckband is a simple 1 inch of 1x1 ribbing cast off tubularly. There's a full write up of the technical bits and bobs on my ravelry page, although as this is a custom-fit, how useful it will be remains to be seen.

Pattern: Seamless Hybrid with Shirt Collar by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers
Amount: 6.5 skeins
Colourway: 9448 Green
Needles: 4.00mm
Size: Custom (approx. 46" chest)
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Susie's Reading Mitts

September 2010

So I needed to make a gauge swatch for a sweater which is to be knitted in the round. Maggie Righetti has an ingenious method for doing just that* but to a simple creature like me, the obvious solution seemed to be to make something small and tubular, such as these.

The picot edging is achieved through making a series of eyelets and then folding them in half and making a seam. That was a first for me, and it works very well with mittens, which need to fit snugly around the wrist and fingers.

Cascade 220 isn't all that widely available in the UK, but ravelry has more projects made from this yarn than any other. I absolutely loved using it.

*The main factor which makes in the round tension differ from knit flat tension is the fact that with flat knitting you are required to work on the wrong side of the fabric as well as the right side. In stocking stitch this translates into having to purl every other row, and apparently few people have the same tension purling as they do knitting.

To circumvent this, one option is to make a flat tension square knitting every row (which gives you garter stitch) and measure the gauge of that reassuring yourself that had you been knitting in the round all along it would have come out as stocking stitch. Which is true, but there's something about that technique which makes me uncomfortable, and besides it's not easy to measure tension over garter stitch.

Maggie Righetti suggests using a circular needle to make the tension square flat and after knitting the first row rather than turning it, breaking the yarn, pushing the stitches back to the other end, joining the yarn back in again and knitting across again, into the front of the square. And so on until it's a useful size. I haven't tried this yet, but it struck me as very very clever indeed.

Pattern: Susie's Reading Mitts by Janelle Masters
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers
Amount: 1 skein
Colourway: 9448 Green
Needles: 3.75mm
Size: Medium
On ravelry: here


September 2010

I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I have a real habit of trying to reverse engineer stuff, especially when it comes to knitwear. Amory, with its sideways-knit trim and short-row shaping had me baffled, though, and so the only option was to follow the pattern and see how it was done.

This time the catalyst came in the form of a sale of Sublime Soya Cotton dk at Kemps - something I figured would do just as well for this, especially since the intended yarn, Rowan Bamboo Soft seems to get quite a bad press.

Oh, and the Sexy Knitters' Club was having a Kim Hargreaves knit along, and I still haven't finished my 12 sweaters for 2010, so...

Pattern: Amory by Kim Hargreaves from the Dark House Collection
Yarn: Sublime Soya Cotton dk
Amount: 10 skeins
Colourway: 080 Indigo
Needles: 3.25mm
Size: XS
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 12 September 2010


August 2010

My knitting for other people drive continues apace with this, my sister's Christmas present, and the third pattern I've completed from Kim Hargreaves very lovely book, Heartfelt (the others being Calm and Emily).

It was a Kim Hargreaves themed knitalong of the Official Sexy Knitters' Club which finally inspired me to get on with this pattern, but I've had an eye on it for ages, because I'm a sucker for lace. Particularly in a chunky, dark yarn like this one.

As this was a Christmas present, I decided that that gave me an excuse to use a real high-end yarn (the fact that I had been wanting to try it for months is by the by) - Malabrigo Merino Worsted. Softer than butter and an absolute delight.

About 80% of this was knitted in the car on a round trip from York to Oxford for a wedding. It's a long way from York to Oxford, but I wasn't sick once...

Pattern: Haven by Kim Hargreaves from the Dark House Collection
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted
Amount: 2 skeins
Colourway: Oilive
Needles: 5.50mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here