Monday, July 29, 2019

When Underarm Grafting Isn't Quite Right

A few years ago I wrote a tutorial all about underarm grafting for bottom-up seamless sweaters. From the many links to it on Ravelry and elsewhere, it's been quite useful to a lot of you. It's a form of joining that looks very neat and tidy when executed properly PROVIDED YOU ARE WORKING IN STOCKING STITCH. So, what to do if you are working in some sort of stitch pattern? I have a solution. It's one I came up with on my own; to coin EZ's terminology, it's something I "unvented", meaning that someone else may have come up with this on their own but I'm not aware of it.

I'm in the final stages of knitting a cardigan in a simple pattern stitch.
You can see that if I were to join the underarms by ordinary grafting, there would be an interruption of the pattern in two ways: 1) there would be a horizontal band of stocking stitch across the underarm area, and 2) the vertical lines of the stitch pattern would be "off" by half a stitch, as that is what happens when you graft two pieces of knitting originating from opposite directions (it doesn't show in stocking stitch). I know it's only the underarms, but let's get it right. Here's my solution.

Start by turning the garment inside out. You will notice that this beautiful stitch happens to produce a reversible basket stitch on the inside. Now follow steps One and Two from my earlier grafting tutorial. (Hint: open it up in a separate window, so you can see both tutorials.)

Step One: The stitches are transferred to dpns. It doesn't matter if the sleeve is above or below.

Step Two: Remember to pay special attention to the orientation of the extra stitches picked up on the end of each needle.

Now, instead of grafting, simply unite the gap with a 3-needle bind off. It will look like this from the wrong (working) side,

and like this from the right side. Notice how beautifully the vertical lines of the stitch pattern come together.

It's not the first time I've done underarms this way; I used the same method of closure a couple of years ago when I made this unpublished aran.

 OK, now back to that shawl collar...

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Sweater Spa

Isabel dropped in for a visit last weekend and brought three, yes three, sweaters in her little carry-on bag. It seems that it's easier to lug the sweaters across the continent and wash them in my old-school Whirlpool top loader than it is to deal with them in a studio apartment in California. So, she soaked them and laid them out on the dining room floor, where they dried in record time in last weekend's heat wave.

I had already given the one she had made for herself a bit of a repair job.

Good thing that visible mending is in, because there was no more of the original wool in sight.
P.S. Two posts in one day -- from someone who goes months without posting. This is what comes of spending the day alone in the house without interruptions!

Back to the Future

Here I am sitting in an un-air-conditioned house in late July, knitting. Remarkably, the house is comfortable, thanks to its 1918 construction (front porch, high ceilings, big windows) and position surrounded by large trees on a hill where it catches the cool breezes off Lake Ontario. Plus, I've returned to the lessons of my childhood, when air conditioning was rare--windows open at night but closed during the day, blinds and shutters closed on the sunny side of the house, fans on, and cold meals involving no cooking. The bonus? Our utitilies bill is low and our consciences can rest easy that at least in this one area we are not contributing to global warming.
This morning I've managed to join my little cropped cardigan.

The wool is Cascade Eco+ in a pale grey. Here you can see the body and the right sleeve, which have been blocked to verify length and gauge, and the left sleeve, which I did not bother to block. To keep myself entertained whilst working my way up my decrease chart (for raglans, as well as a V-neck), I'm re-listening to C.S. Harris's Sebastian St.Cyr regency mysteries, as narrated by Davina Porter. A perfect summer morning.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Festina Lente

When you're working on a new sweater, perhaps sensing the first inklings of momentum, it can be difficult to take time out to wet block the work in progress. In a top-down sweater, I usually do this at about an inch past the underarms (and again, later, about an inch before where I want the hem to fall), and in a bottom-up sweater, I block at about an inch shy of the underarms. Why not knit all the way to the underarms or hem? Because nine times out of ten, the wet blocking will cause the work to grow to the desired length, and who wants to have to rip back? I'm a lazy knitter!
Here's my latest design having a nice soak in some water and Eucalan.

There's no need to break the yarn to accomplish any of this; simply leave it attached, but keep the remainder of the ball dry outside the bowl of soaking liquid. I usually wait at least twenty minutes for the wool to fully absorb the water, then gently squeeze the water out, wrap the knitting in a towel, and jump up and down on the towel to get out as much water as possible. Finally, I lay out the knitting on a dry towel, patting and moulding it into the desired shape and size. A measuring tape is essential. In our un-air-conditioned house in summer, the piece will be dry by tonight. In the meantime, I'll do the sleeve calculations and cast on with dpns for the first of those. Back in a bit...