Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy 259th Post! (and a discussion of knitting technique)

Since I completely forgot to commemorate my 200th (or even 250th) post earlier this year. Heh. (and apologies for the lack of pix today)

Anyway, the 103-1 Jacket that I just finished involved many new techniques for me, and was a total blast to do.

The lineup:

  1. The pattern wasn't written as explicitly as I've been accustomed to (or spoiled by) in the past. This meant that I took extensive notes, wrote all over the pages, did some actual math, re-wrote the pattern in spots and used lots of books and blogs for reference. I have never done extensive planning for a project before, and boy did it ever make this one fly off the needles with nary a hitch. (the bulky yarn also didn't hurt).

  2. I have never knit a sweater fully in pieces before, and frankly, have been dead set against it. I thought long and hard about re-writing the pattern to be knit in the round (and honestly, probably will if I knit this again in the future in a different yarn) but after reading Carol Sulcoski's article "To Seam or Not to Seam" in Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2010 (no really, I buy it for the articles) I decided that with the fiber content of my yarn, seaming would be the way to go.

    The yarn was Mirasol Sulka, and is 60% Merino, 20% Alpaca, 20% Silk. From my gauge swatch (yes, I actually did one) I could tell that this yarn has zero memory. So it would be stretching and bagging out of shape. This was confirmed again when I had finished knitting the fronts and the back, blocked them like a good little knitter, and discovered that the very second I took them off the blocking boards, they went back to doing exactly what they had been doing before blocking, which was curling.

  3. I have seamed a couple of things in the past, such as sleeves and, well, sleeves. Honestly, I seamed those exactly the same way I do on sewing, which is to put the right sides together and sew, using a back stitch or something else sturdy. This was fine on Bruce's sweater that had a lot of ease in the sleeves, or on Georgia's first sweater (which was my first sweater), but with bulky yarn it became immediately apparent that my crappy technique was not going to work on this project.

    This led me to lots of research. I pulled out Knitwear Design Workshop by Shirley Paden, as she is known around NYC as the "Queen of Finishing" and taking a finishing class from her is kinda like "knitting bootcamp" according to those in the know (i.e. people who have actually taken the class). That was pretty helpful.

    I also looked at Knitting Daily's two blog posts on seaming a sleeve cap, (Part I and Part II) since that was the hardest part. The Knitting Daily posts were brilliant, easy to follow and well explained. I HIGHLY recommend them if you're seaming a sleeve cap for the first time. These posts also referenced Shirley Paden. There is some extremely helpful information on easing in fullness at the sleeve cap, however if you have sewn a shirt before, you shouldn't have any troubles with this at all. It did, however, take me three or four tries before I got the first sleeve cap in correctly.

  4. I was exceedingly dubious about mattress stitch when I first tried it, thinking that there was no way in heck that the stitches would disappear, but they did! It was like magic. My seams look fabulous (if I do say so myself) and I couldn't be prouder.

  5. For the shoulder seams, I initially used my crappy original technique and that looked horrible. I thought about using a mattress stitch seam, but I did some research and discovered the three needle bind off. This was just about the best invention since sliced bread. Absolutely genius. I wish I could have done this for all of the seams in my sweater, but alas. Again, I learned this technique on the fly from Knitwear Design Workshop which had concise, clear instructions. The shoulder seams are definitely the sexiest seams on my sweater.

  6. The collar is in moss stitch and the instructions said to increase two stitches at each side every other row. Which gave me nightmares. I tried and ripped back about three times before I realized that there was no way I could stay in pattern, or even plan ahead to stay in patter with my brain all fogged with a headcold, but I desperately wanted to finish this thing yesterday. So I altered a little and put on a small garter stitch border which not only made it a heck of a lot easier to stay in pattern, but also gave me a great edge to mattress seam the collar to the fronts of the jacket. Out of everything on the sweater, the collar gave me the most trouble until I thought of the garter stitch border.

The yarn was great. A real dream to knit with, although it sheds like crazy. I was wearing a black shirt yesterday and the thing ended up covered in little red hairs. It was a little splitty if I didn't pay attention to what I was doing. It also mats together (not quite felting) SUPER fast, so weaving in ends didn't take much effort. Unfortunately ripping back (especially where I bollocksed up the shoulder seams) did take quite a bit of effort, and in one case, scissors and reknitting. Despite the fact that the yarn mats together, it doesn't felt and would not accept a Russian join at all.

However, it is REALLY soft, and can definitely be worn against the skin.

And that is all for now.


  1. Even though I consider myself a competent knitter, I still avoid knitting sweaters in pieces. With all that can go wrong, why wait until everything is finished to figure that out? But yes, there are structural reasons for sewing a sweater together. The next one I make will be in pieces (I have the yarn and everything!) And I'll use this post as a reference. Thanks!

  2. you have some great info here--i'll have to come back and check out some of these techniques more closely. don't you just love how the pieces come together when you pull on that yarn you used for the mattress stitch? and 3-needle bind-off is a miracle, i agree.

  3. wow classes with Shirley Paden - I would be in heaven - and a fantastic post!! Thanks so much and happy 259th post

  4. Happy 259th post!! I am on 618th and shame on me forgot about the 500th :-) But when I reach 1000 it is party time!