Thursday, 6 July 2017

Lightening picture day

It's time to get out my phone and take some photos. My camera is in repetitive cycle of zooming in and out and then shutting off. I think that means it's toast. So I'm debating about buying another camera or using my phone? Any thoughts on this?

My Lightening pullover is done and on my mannequin. No one to take my photo so she is it.
I even dressed her up and put a skit on her. She's better dressed than I am. 

The Lightening Bolts get larger and larger as they travel down the sweater. I charted it all out although I'm sure you can figure it out pretty quickly. Then you just have to count holes. They also go down the sleeve shoulder.

The yoke starts out with 8 bolts and then is widdled down to 4 and then only 2. It will keep you on your toes!

There is side shaping too. Lots to keep you busy.
One more check through the pattern and then I will post it next week. I already have my next sweater idea waiting in the wings. It's anxious to be centre stage.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Raining while Lightening Bolts dry

Sometimes designs take a very long time to finalize. I'm close on the Lightening Bolts. It's been a journey with changes, changes back and then reversed. The only idea I had in my head at the beginning was for the yoke with the lightening bolts. The rest of the sweater needed to be worked out on the needles, ripped back and worked again. I'm really happy with the shaping which formed because of the continued increases down the front and back and the decreases needed at the sides. A happy result.

 It's washed now and photos are up next. Not today since it's raining again while my sweater drys, sort of.

P.S. Thanks for the hat crown suggestions Brenda. I will put them in. The first triangle goes around your entire head. The second triangle fills in the space to make it a tube. Now I'm working on putting stripes in just for the fun of it.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Triangulate a Hat

Experiments have started. I knit my first gaugeless hat with two triangles. Just cast on until it goes around my head at the bottom of the first triangle and then work a second triangle. No need for gauge or stitch numbers. Good for car knitting as you can see. Lots of plain knitting.

 Now it gets folded in half sort of. And attached.
Now I have a tube which is great but I thought it would be a little taller. It needs some height if there is to be a turned over brim which is what I like in a hat. I tried adding at the top for a crown.
Nah. Didn't like that so it got frogged. Then I added some length at the bottom. The length would be the amount of turn back for the brim or the amount of height needed for a slouch style hat.
That seems to make more sense. There is now a brim for a slouch hat worn as is or a turned back brim.
Now to figure out what to do with the top for the crown. I could leave it for kitty ears but I'm looking for a couple more ideas. Do you have something that worked on a hat made in a straight tube?

Friday, 16 June 2017

Build A Scarf, Gauge Free

Now it's time to think. I have a few days to go up to my cabin and do just that. My "think" is going to be on how to make hats with triangles and without any regard to gauge.

This is my summer project. I want to develop a series of Gauge Free patterns. Imagine, no gauge to worry about!

Most people have trouble with getting gauge. It's a reason why blankets, shawls and other garments that don't need to fit are so popular. Getting gauge can be very difficult. So let's forget about it altogether. But what would that entail?

I have one pattern so far for a scarf. Build A Scarf with Knitacation, a new design company I'm part of. You begin with any yarn (about 200g) and any needle.

 Knit the first triangle until the depth of the triangle is the width you would like your scarf to be.

Then turn and begin a second triangle, attaching as you go.
It's fun to see it come together.
Then make a second scarf because now you're on a roll. This one is a little wider and with heavier wool.

I can think of a lot more possibilities: a couple of striped triangles, blocks of colour within the triangles, change yarn weights with some triangles for different sizing. Go for it.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


Almost there. I've made several changes and I'm liking the tunic with cap sleeves better than the original.
Now it looks like this so far in Denim Cotton Tweed. I'm already anxious to get it off the needles so I can wear it since our spring is still very cool and something over a T-shirt is just perfect.
The larger holes in the pattern are working for me.

The sizes are quite wide in this pattern. Sizes: 35 (41, 45, 49, 54)"
I needed a size between two of these sizes so I have worked out a way of working between sizes which is going to work. Yay. It's even easy to work several more inches to make a size bigger than the largest one I have there. Working the garter stitch edging on the sleeve before the Great Divide is going to do this.
I'll save that for another post. These are the little things that make a design happen for me.
P.S. t_a, Ha, ha, ha. I laughed out loud when I read your comment. Thanks for that.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Change the increase, change the sweater

Although I finished knitting this sweater I am knitting a second one.
This seems to be my designing process. It's very slow. I'm stuck in a system of designing where I knit everything twice to get it right.

Now I am making changes. I decided that I would like bigger holes. This will make the design more prominent. In the first sweater I used the openM1 increases to make my lightening bolts.

On the second one I am using YO's which I am liking better. The larger holes, for modest old me, would require something worn underneath. More changes.

Now that I have these larger holes which will continue down the front and back of the sweater, I am going to make it with cap sleeves so that I could put it on over a T-shirt. It will even work over a short sleeved T. I think this will make it a very wearable tunic, fall, winter and spring.

I'm not fond of the peek-a-boo lace top. How about you?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Stitch Panels in unexpected places

I've done this in several patterns now and really enjoy breaking up the stockinette stitch of the body with a stitch pattern worked down the sides. We very conveniently cast on a number of stitches at the underarm and these stitches lend themselves to being decorated with a pattern.

I, like lots of knitters, don't especially enjoy knitting sleeves. They are a little more fiddly than the body. They have to be done, although it does make vests a really good looking option. On my new sweater I decided to continue the stitch pattern down the underside of the sleeve.
I think it works. Sort of. What do you think?
I guess wearing it will tell the tale.

Friday, 12 May 2017


I knew I had a couple of days of sniffling and snuffling beside the kleenex box so I thought this is the perfect couple of days to knit sleeves. That smacks of the same attitude as "I'm in a bad mood so I might as well do some housework". But that's really not the case, although sleeves need to be done and are not the most interesting parts of the sweater. So I thought I would grab my 40cm (16") circular needle and get started. I would grab my circ and ...
Where is it? It should be right here. It's not as if I don't have a lot of needles.
There should have been at least three 4.0mm (US6) circular needles in the exact length I needed. But NOOOO. I searched in my shawl project bag, where the short circ shouldn't have been anyway but .. no needle. I checked the sweater project bag where I last used the needle for sleeves, no luck. I went through a couple of the discarded project bags and found a 4.0mm needle but too long. Now I'm stumped. There is no way that I have that many circular needles and don't have a 40cm (16") circ.

I finally found the correct combo in my interchangeable set and proceeded with a day in my pj's and a movie binge between naps.
But where the h*## are those needles?! Do you have them?

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Smaller Sleeve, Top Down

Yesterday, looking ahead, I realised that I have a couple of easy weeks in May without too much activity. That was a mistake. This morning I woke up with a sore ear and that feeling that a cold is imminent. Yuck. It's just like going on holiday and getting sick. So before I take a couple of days off to enjoy ill health (ha, ha) I wanted to show you something.

Many curvy women find that the sleeves of sweaters don't fit. One of the major finds for me when I was writing the Need A Plus Cardigan book was that bust measurement does not necessarily relate to arm measurements. Irregardless, the designer has to still come up with a set of sizes based on bust measurement. Lots of times the sleeves are too big.

If you measure your sweaters, including store-bought double knit jackets you wear, you will probably find that you do wear a large range of sleeve sizes. But you are probably trying to knit your new sweater with an inch to two inches of ease around the sleeve. The schematic is indicating that for your size you are going to get a certain size of sleeve. If you need the sleeve to be smaller, stop increasing on the sleeve about an inch from the bottom of the yoke (one inch less stitches on the sleeve than the pattern says you need at the bottom of the yoke). But what will happen? Won't it distort the raglan line. Yes it will.

I just happen to be knitting a sweater with this feature. I've stopped increasing on the sleeve. Here is a photo of one of the back raglan lines. Can you see where it changes?

Here it is with the black line indicating where the raglan line would have continued and the red line showing the deviation.

Here is a close up.
Doesn't this look remarkably like what your set-in sleeve armhole would look like at this juncture?
I think it's actually an advantage to have the raglan line swing in toward the armpit. I'm working it into the pattern I'm working on now.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Not the real world

I've been retreating for two weekends. Isn't calling a weekend away a retreat sort of odd? It makes me think of running backwards and burrowing into a hole which is not what a knitting retreat is at all.

It's a weekend away with people who get you. It's joyful anticipation for weeks before, arriving to find your people all around you. You can talk knitting at breakfast, in class, at lunch, in class and at dinner. Eye's do not glaze over. No one says their grandmother used to knit (when she had nothing important to do). Everyone is free to compliment total strangers on their sweater, pet it and ask for more details, making new friends. You can stare at people because of course you're thinking your way through their sweater. This can be a little off-putting in the real world.

I guess what makes knitting retreats special is that they are not the real world where we usually operate. We are not fluffed off with "isn't that cute", "wish I could knit but of course I am way to busy to learn". We are with people who think that making something is important. Wearing what you have made with pride is important. Modifications, adjustments and adding something to the pattern is an exploration of your creativity. In fact creativity rules!!

I've had two wonderful weekends and am inspired to start a new sweater vest for the spring just because I can make it and wear it. And that's something special!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Gauge, on about it again.

We had a great time at the retreat. Both my Make It Fit classes went very well. Several sweaters that don't fit were checked out. By the end of class I didn't even have to explain what wasn't working. The knitters did it themselves. Guess what the #1 reason for an incorrect fit is? I bet you know.
GAUGE. Argghh. I know, it's a constant companion. Here's an excerpt from the YarnOver SleepOver Retreat booklet. I know knitting teachers do bang on about this!! Maybe this will help explain why it's so important.


Here is a common knitters lament: “I knit it exactly as the pattern said and it still didn’t turn out the right size”. Frustrating indeed. Did you check your gauge? Can I say the “S” word? Did you make a Swatch? A nice big one?

The reason many garments don’t fit when completed is because the knitter’s gauge did not match the pattern gauge. Garments are built on a certain size of stitch. Imagine each stitch as a little box. For example, let’s say your particular pattern calls for a stitch gauge of 20 sts = 4”/10cm. Break it down to 5 stitches = 1 inch.

Below are 5 boxes representing 5 stitches and 1” width, knit at different gauges. If you were knitting a 40” sweater you can see the difference gauge makes.

Do not despair. This can be fixed. I am also a knitter who does not usually knit to gauge. It’s perfectly normal.

Do’s & Don’t’s
Do Not try to change how you knit. Saying you’ll knit tighter or looser will last about 5 minutes!! Then you will be knitting in your normal manner. There is a better way.

Adjust your gauge by adjusting your needles.
· If the pattern calls for the gauge of 5 sts = 1” on a 4.5mm needle and you are getting 5½ sts = 1” then your stitches are a little smaller. You are getting more stitches in every inch. Bump your needle size up to 5.0mm and see if you are closer to the pattern gauge.

· If you are getting 4½ sts = 1” your stitches are a little big (fewer stitches in every inch). Try again with a 4.0mm needle which will make your stitches smaller.

Understanding if you are a tight knitter or a loose knitter helps you get started on adjusting your knitting for better fitting garments.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Style first

Our Yarn Over Sleep Over Retreat is this weekend. I kept thinking it was a little further away but here it is already. I'm teaching two classes. One of which is a Make It Fit class.

We are discussing bust, waist and hip shaping. But before we get to that I'm going to discuss a little bit about style. I have to read up on this topic since I'm not sure I have much, style that is. It's all about what to wear for your figure. Here is the jist of it which I found on a Knitting Daily blog which sums up Amy Herzog's style notes:

Amy Herzog, master of knitting fit, has adapted these guidelines for knitters, spelling out four basic rules for understanding and creating visual balance:
1. Add horizontal elements to widen a body part.
2. Add vertical elements to narrow a body part.
3. Use one color or texture to lengthen a body part.
4. Use multiple colors or textures to shorten a body part.
Balancing your visual is all about making your figure appear more hourglass shaped. You can use your sweater to widen parts that need widening and make some parts narrower.

If you are bottom heavy, you want to make your shoulders look wider. Then the idea is that you look balanced. You want to make the top of your yoke draw the eye across. You can make a wide scoop neckline so that your shoulders draw the eye across. You can use cap sleeves which widen the shoulders. You can wear Icelandic style sweaters with lots of patterning across the top of the yoke.

If you are top heavy, the opposite is true. You can put lots of patterning at the bottom edge of your sweater. Lucky you gets to knit nice deep patterned borders.

The vertical and horizontal elements are pretty easy. A cardigan has a vertical when it's left open and also when it's buttoned up with lots of snazzy buttons. Cables and texture work in panels are a wonderful vertical. Horizontal colour changes across the top or bottom are effective.

Do you check the style of a sweater pattern to see if it would look good on your figure? Do you check out the model to see if she is top or bottom heavy. Forget that, most of them are just thin! Do you have sweaters that you get compliments on? Does it have to do with the style of it?


Thursday, 13 April 2017

taking a Break with Shawlettes

I'm resting my Lightening pullover for the moment and knitting shawlettes. Have you knit many? I'm on #3. I'm following simple shawl rules and seeing how elastic they are. It's the What If I ... school of knitting. I like this one a lot.
Then I added some colour. Not entirely happy with this one but this is still wearable but not good enough to write up.
A short post. Almost on my way down to the Players Grand Slam of curling to watch my daughter
 (the dark one) curl in this event. They came out champs in Scotland a couple of weeks ago.
It's nail biting time which I'm trying to avoid by knitting. Sometimes it works. My shawlette may have a couple of very tight rows in it!!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Progress and some Questions

I'm trying to get ahead of the season and get a summer top knit before summer is here. You know what that's like. It's summer and I wish I had a cotton top to wear. No problem, ever the optimist, I'll start knitting now and guess what?! It's fall already!

So I'm patting myself on the back (hard to do but I'm practicing). I've almost got my Lightening design finished.
I solved my chart issue. I'm learning to just let things go for a couple of days knowing that one morning it will be very clear that I've made a decision. Isn't it incredible that your brain can do this without you even knowing that it's happening?

I'm going to go with chart option#1 since it is the easiest one to read and I can imagine the knitter putting a little tick in every "0" (increase) on the chart as it's worked to keep track. One of the wonderful things about charts is that they are a visual representation of the knitting. In this case it isn't but making it easy to knit is my first priority. I'm happy with the results.

I used the openM1 to work all the increases for my Lightening Bolts. If you haven't tried this increase yet I'd give it a go. It's surprisingly easy.

I also have the pattern written. Pat on the back again (I could get used to this). Now I have to read it over and give some serious thought to making it really easy for the knitter (that's you) to knit up (or down as it were, tee, hee).

There's quite a lot happening around the Great Divide (putting the sleeves on spare yarn and leaving the body on the needles). These are the question I have to ask:
1. Is this, as written, too much to work in one round? Can I make it any clearer?
2. Can I split it up into a couple of rounds and work the Divide in the first round and make the changes to the stitch pattern in the next round?
3. Do I need to put in exact stitch counts or can I use the Marker placements? Use both?

Do you have some thoughts for me? Do you like to work one thing at a time? Do you like one big round with lots going one so that it's done?

I only have the border of one sleeve to finish today. I'm really looking forward to wearing my new top at the Yarn Over Sleep Over retreat in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

open M1 increase

Make one increases (M1) are very popular increases. They are worked using the horizontal bar between stitches to create an extra stitch.

My favourite one is what I call an openMake1 (oM1). I use it for raglan increases on my Top Down sweaters for several reasons:
1.  It makes a small hole (smaller than a YO).
2.  It doesn't lean to the right or left which means I can use the same increase before and after my raglan markers.
3.  Working it doesn't interrupt my knitting flow.
4.  You can read whether you have worked the increase or not.

Work an OpenM1 by inserting your Right needle from front to back, under the horizontal bar between the stitch just knit and the next stitch,
 wrap the yarn as usual to knit a stitch and pull back through. This is just like a pick up and knit.

The beauty of it is that it is just one more knit stitch in your round which you work under the horizontal bar instead of in a stitch on your needle. There's nothing more to it than that. Can you wonder that it's a favourite increase?

The trick when knitting a Top Down Pullover is to recognize, as you approach the raglan marker, whether you have worked an increase or not. A in-the-round pullover is worked with one round where the increases are worked and the next round where you usually knit. If your mind wonders like mine does, you can't always remember what round you are working on when you come to a marker. Do I need to increase or is this a knit round?

When you work the oM1 you use up the horizontal bar between stitches. It's now a stitch. So if you see this, you have worked the increase in the last round. There is no horizontal bar there.

This indicates that you are on a Knit Round. You would knit past this spot and continue knitting your round. Next time you come to this marker (in the next round), you will see a horizontal bar.
Then you work the oM1 under that horizontal bar because it's there.

In a nutshell, if the horizontal bar is there, you work a oM1, if it's not there you knit.


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My Designer Puzzle

I haven't thrown away my red yoke yet and I did wake up early several mornings knowing what to do next. BEWARE this is a long post. It's been a long week. I'm not despairing, just wrestling with a puzzle.

The first morning's thought was to change from fingering weight yarn to DK weight yarn. And so I did. I got the yoke done and it was a breeze. I'm calling this Lightening.
I did sort of, maybe, think that there was a sticky problem somewhere. Not to be held up though, since I was having such a lovely time, I worked the Divide (putting sleeve stitches on spare yarn) and continued down the body. The whole time that niggling little voice was wondering how The Knitter (that's you) was going to work the Divide and then continue to knit the lightening bolt down the Front & Back. It's a small thing but it seems to hinge on where I put the Beginning of Round marker and how I explained how to work the Lightening Bolt itself. When I started to write the Divide Round out I ran into trouble. I couldn't go on. I ripped back to the Divide Round, put it aside and went to bed.

Here's the problem. I have a good idea of how I want this design to work and I know exactly where I am as I'm knitting. Good thing, right? I knit my Lightening Bolts with the Markers in the centre of each one. Then I wrote it out in the pattern: work starting from this marker to that marker and repeat. That makes sense, right? Work from one pink marker to the next pink marker.

Then I realized that I was not knitting from marker to marker at all. What I was actually doing was knitting toward the Marker and then deciding which side of the Marker to work the increase on. AH, HA. That was a big moment.

Charting helps me think things through so with paper and pencil I created a chart. Imagine the Marker is right on the centre line of the chart. Increase holes are worked on the right of the Marker and then on the left and then again on the right, etc.

Unfortunately that chart does not show how the lightening bolt is going to shift from side to side as they are knit.
Would this make more sense? It's a good visual. Again, marker set in the middle of the lightening bolt.

But then it's not clear that the stitches (B's on the chart) of the lightening bolt itself line up above each other. AARRGGH.
More thought needed. Maybe tomorrow morning will do it. Maybe I'll be struck by lightening and my brain will fire at an accelerated rate and then I will know.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Something here is not working

I am convinced by the comments (thanks t_a and Sharon) that fingering and sports weight yarn (DK included here?) work best for plus sized sweaters. But we all know that fingering weight yarn does make knitting a sweater a substantial time investment. Especially, as stated, when ripping back occasionally to make modifications. That's where I am right now.

I got the yoke finished on a new top down circular yoke pullover in fingering weight cotton/acrylic. Then I started to work out my grading for the different sizes ...
and yeah, it went like that. Not well. All the different scenarios I tried didn't work out in any logical manner without very big jumps in the sizes. So I'm putting this aside for the moment, aside meaning stashed behind my computer where I can't see it until I can face throwing it in the garbage because that's where it's headed. Yoke, did you hear that?!

I'm starting a new one with a more logical approach to the increases and sizing. The new one will be in DK weight Cotton Tweed. Blue, of course. A faster knit, cotton for summer, bigger holes for the increases in the design. Fingers crossed, it should work out better all around. Some other day I will knit a fingering weight sweater, Today I'm thinking that 2018 sounds like a good time.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Red Fingering weight pullover has begun

I'm thinking of spring as the snow flies here. We've had a couple of days of spring-like weather and now it's cold again and seems colder somehow. Spring is coming so I've decided it's time to start spring knitting. I'm taking the plunge and finally knitting a fingering weight pullover. So far so good.
It's a circular yoke pullover in Saucon Fingering (cotton/acrylic blend). Should be nice and cool to wear in the warm weather. See, so optimistic, it will get warm soon. I'm quite surprised that I'm almost at the great divide. It hasn't been too much knitting yet. I've given myself an interesting set up of increases to keep me busy and I'm looking forward to dividing off the sleeves. That's the moment when it looks more like a sweater. I'm intending to keep the increase pattern working down the front. I think I'll need the distraction.

Reading this over I see I have convinced myself that this is a lot of knitting. Preconceived ideas can stop this before it gets very far so I'm going to try to keep an open mind.

Have you knit a fingering weight garment? Did you like wearing it? Would you do another one?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Cables in-the-round made easier with "tells"

I'm not going to tell you how to make crossing your cables easier, with or without a cable needle. I'm not going to tell you how make your cable stitches neater.

What I want to talk about is how you can make some changes to a cable pattern to make working your cable crossings easier to keep track of. You can put cable "tells" in your pattern so that it can't keep it's poker face on.

Some cable patterns, especially wide ones, are very busy. There might be cable crossings happening somewhere on every right side row. If you're working in the round, you then have a working round where you cross and a comfort round where you knit the knits and purl the purls.

But some patterns have several rounds where no crossings take place. The simple rope cable is a prime example, *work 2 rounds with purls and knits, work a crossing round, work 5 rounds with purls and knits as set; repeat from *. The cable crossing is actually every 8th round.
How can you keep track? You can make ticks on the side of the page but did you make a tick this time or were you distracted as you worked the cable and did you forget? Are you sure?

Since you might be adding this to your top down sweater as a design feature, you get to be the boss of this pattern. So be the boss and make this easier to work. How about making the side stitches in garter stitch instead of all purl stitches. You can now count the garter ridges: 3 ridges showing above the last crossing (Rounds 5, 7 and 1), time to cross again (Round 3).
 A more complicated pattern could be added to. Give yourself something to "tell" you when to cross. Take this double crossed rope cable pattern with purl stitches in between the cables.
What if you added one stitch in the centre and knit it through the back loop every other round (K1tbl).
Now as you approach the pattern panel you can look over to see if that centre stitch is twisted or not. Count the twisted stitches and you know when to cross your cables again. Maybe make the side stitches in garter stitch too? How could you go wrong?!

One more idea. How about adding the "tell" on either side of your cable panel as a border. It won't interfere with the pattern itself but it will give you the needed information. Here I've added the garter stitches outside of the single rope cable pattern.
You are in the designer chair now so swatch and see what you like the look of. Adding "tells" makes your cable knitting experience much more enjoyable. No ticks on the page, no guessing about when to cross your cables. With a little bit of additional designing you can have relaxed, enjoyable cable knit.