Friday, March 29, 2019

Making Something Good Even Better: a Tutorial on I-Cord Edges in Stocking Stitch

Ever since Purl Soho brought out its Top-Down Turtleneck Cardigan, I've been obsessed with it. It's not just the streamlined shape in a fine yarn; it's those beautifully clean front edges.

So, I tried out the method on a swatch -- and I wasn't happy. Call me fussy, and over-obsessed with details, but the two front edges did not match in appearance, and the left front edge looked sloppier than the right, especially on the wrong side. Why would this matter to me? Because when you wear a cardigan open, those little I-cord facings show.
Last year when I played with this, I made notes about the experiment in my Notebook #11 (I'm currently on #13) and, being caught up in other things, didn't get back to thinking about it again until this week. I'm working on a little, light-as-air mohair cardigan. I don't intend to add buttons to it, or seams either (not that I do that ordinarily anyway) because I don't want anything to weigh down the floaty fabric. It's something to wear in the spring/early summer when you just want a whisper of something to cover up your bare arms. (We're aiming for a high of 9C today, so I have a little time before I need this.) What I really want on this piece is lovely, clean, self-bound edges just like the ones above--except better.
When I looked closely at my earlier experimental swatch, I noticed that along the tidy edge, the three I-cord stitches were in fact twisted; they looked as though they had been knitted through the back loop. This was due to the fact that the instructions from Purl Soho were to slip those three stitches KNITWISE. Of course, every experienced knitter knows that the easiest way to tighten things up is to twist the stitches in question. The problem for me was to figure out a way to replicate this on the other edge. The solution? To knit those stitches at the end of the right side rows THROUGH THE BACK LOOPS before turning the work and slipping them PURLWISE at the start of the wrong side row.
Let me summarize:

Try a swatch with 16 stitches. Cast on by the longtail method and for the nicest top edges, make sure you cast on with a knot-less method.
Row 1 (WS): (Sl 1 purlwise) 3 times, purl to end.
Row 2: (Sl 1 knitwise) 3 times, knit to last 3 sts, (k1tbl) 3 times.
Rep Rows 1 and 2 to desired length.

This is what you'll end up with.

Right side.

Wrong side.
Remember, this is unblocked mohair, so things look a little loose and wonky, but the important bit is that both edges now have twisted stitches and mirror each other. After blocking, these edges are going to be perfect. I guess I'm a knitting nerd.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Only a Year

Today I've finally published Ellerbeck. It took a long, long time, I know. I kept getting sidetracked with other things. Then, last summer was our first without air conditioning and I barely knitted at all. Even the thought of wool was overwhelming. When I got back into it, I decided to play around a bit with the original design, making it shorter, adding German short rows to lower the back, moving the body increases farther away from the sides, and ending the increases after a few inches to create a slight "bubble" shape. On my final test knit, I knew I wouldn't have enough of the main colour and decided at the outset to knit stripes on the sleeves, easing in the new colour through a Fibonacci sequence. That turned out to be my favourite version. 

Same version as above, just laid completely flat.

This swingy pullover was designed by me to wear with some of my sewn pieces from Sonya Philip's 100 Acts of Sewing collection. The neck is cast on provisionally, then finished later with Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn bind off. There are links to tutorials for all the techniques. This is a quick, fun, and useful knit. Hope you enjoy it! Ellerbeck can be downloaded here.

Friday, March 1, 2019

A Handmade Birthday

I'm coming to grips with not having Isabel close by for her birthdays. To make both of us feel better, I decided this year to send a special handmade gift--a Wiksten Haori, made with fabric Isabel had seen and admired in my stash when she was home last Xmas. The only thing I had to buy was the lining fabric and thread. The shipping of the finished product almost cost me more!
Here's the jacket, in Essex linen/cotton in light periwinkle, lined with a granny smith apple small-scale cotton print.

The only mod to the basic pattern is the pockets; I noticed that other sewists were gravitating toward this version in which they are sewn right into the seams. It's much easier than patch pockets, and for anyone who has worn this jacket, you know IT'S ALL ABOUT THE POCKETS! So much room for all your stuff. And also so cushy from the double layers. Comfort plus. This is the XXS. Isabel is super-petite and the design is very, very oversized. I chose a couple of lining fabrics and sent photos for her to choose from. It's not a surprise, but it's something I hope she will love.
Winter continues. We're getting enough radiant heat from the sun to melt a little around the edges in the middle of the day, but conditions are far from feeling spring-like.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that along with Isabel's present I included a hand-painted birthday card featuring the lake late last fall in its "everything grey" mode.

I know my watercolour painting is hopelessly amateurish, but perhaps it will remind Isabel of home.