Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Finessing Brookline

Inevitably, when a pattern is put into writing and through the editorial process, small details end up being omitted, either because they involve lesser known techniques, they are considered too complicated to put into writing, or they are left to the knitter's discretion. So, this post is about the little things you can do to make your Brookline really lovely in small ways.
1) In my own Brookline, the knot pattern, which is first set up in the back, is mirror-imaged in the front. In other words, in any given row, the distance of the first knot from the raglan toward the centre of the body is the same in both front and back. Once the yoke is divided, the distance from the underarm seam stitch to the first knot is the same in both front and back. Quite apart from the aesthetic desirability of this approach, I find it makes the knitting easier. It allows me to check almost automatically that I have the right number of stitches and that the knot placement is correct.

View of seamline running from underarm (at top) down body showing mirror imaging of knots.
 2) I like my raglan depth a little on the long side, in spite of the current fashion trend toward a close-fitting underarm. If you are short, or you want a closer fit through the underarm, then consider shortening the raglan depth. The easiest way to do this is to try on the yoke every now and then to gauge when you want to stop. Then, look at the number of stitches you need to end up with in the body and sleeves, and simply cast on at the underarm to make up the difference. I always use the backward loop method of cast on for this job.
3) Don't consider yourself bound to increase for the gores by the M1P method. In fact, I used Elizabeth Zimmerman's backward loop method, mirroring the leaning of the increases left and right on either side of the gores. Remember, if you do this, that the right-leaning increase will need to be worked tbl on the succeeding row. I find this method of increase slightly more invisible in this application than the M1P, but it's knitter's choice as always.

View of gore from wrong side showing mirrored backward loop increases a la Elizabeth Zimmerman.
 4) Consider changing the overall length of the cardigan. My daughter, Isabel, and I are on the short side and we found that we preferred the cardigan to be around hip length, a bit shorter than shown in the Twist photos.
5) Feel free to use alternate short row methods. I used Meg Swanson and Lucy Neatby's "slip, wrap, replace" method. Whichever way you do it, you don't need to do anything more with the wraps on subsequent rows in garter stitch.
6) At the start of the sleeves, I decided to delay the start of the purled underarm seam stitch until the first decrease round. Since the underarm portion of the sleeves is picked up and worked in the opposite direction to the body, the stitch alignment at the junction is off by half a stitch. If you start the line of purled seam stitches right away, that misalignment is painfully obvious. OK, I admit no one is going to ask you to raise your arm so that they can inspect your underarm joins, but this sort of detail matters to fussy knitters. To improve the appearance of the transition, work 3 rounds of plain stocking stitch before embarking on the decrease and its subsequent line of purled seam stitches.

View of underarm with sleeve at top showing transition from picked up stitches to first sleeve decrease.
 7) Before you get too far along in the sleeves, consider whether you might do what I did and start the knot details before the sleeve decreasing is done, especially if you are on the short side.
8) Don't be afraid to take the sleeve down to fewer stitches in the forearm than is suggested. The design intent is to have a fairly closely fitted forearm, and women's forearms vary considerably in width. I ended up decreasing down to 48 stitches instead of the recommended 50. Just be sure to finish your decreases by the start of the sleeve gore.
8) Finally, the main purpose behind my decision to utilize crocheted button loops was to allow knitters the greatest possible freedom in choosing buttons. Feel free to select buttons in a different size or number. Experiment, if necessary, to alter the size of the button loops to fit your choice. This is a design where the buttons can make or break the final look, and it's nice to have the longest possible time to locate the perfect ones (in the case if the Twist cardigan, salvaged buttons from an old jean jacket!)

My buttonholes are a bit smaller than the version in the pattern, to accommodate these tiny beaten metal gems.