Saturday, October 30, 2021

Wheatsheaves: Changing Things Up

It's a little embarrassing to admit this, but I often find knitting boring. I rarely knit for more than 30 minutes in a day (with exceptions when I'm near the end of a project and can feel momentum building OR when I have a particularly riveting audiobook). I have real difficulty re-knitting the same project over. Let's not revisit those times when I produced multiple Bibliogloves for this photo,

 or Penelope hats for this one.

It's clear that what I enjoy is the invention, the technical problem solving, and (I can't believe I'm writing this) the number crunching. Just plain re-knitting is sooo boring!

So, naturally, I can't just knit Wheatsheaves without any new little wrinkles, even small ones. Here's how I've changed things up.

1. When knitting up for the sleeves, I ignored the pattern advice to pick up in a ratio of 2 stitches for 3 rows. Instead, I knitted 5 stitches for 7 rows. This allowed me to arrive at a stitch count equal to the upper sleeve circumference in inches x 4 (the number of sts per inch). 

2. Instead of launching directly into the sleeve decreasing, I worked the first three rows as purl, knit, purl to echo the garter ridges in the lace borders. See? Hope this works out. If not, it can be re-done like the original.

3. In the above photo you can also see that I've chosen to knit the sleeves using the magic loop method. In fact, I've been knitting all my sleeves this way for the last five years. Good bye dpns. I'm using the same 32" circular for the sleeves that I used for the rest of the sweater. One needle to knit it all! 

To end this post, here are a couple of other points to keep in mind if you are following along with your own Wheatsheaves. 

  • When knitting up stitches around the armhole, don't be upset if, at the top of the shoulder, your line of stitches deviates by half a stitch before getting back into a new groove for the trip down the other side of the sleeve. Here's what I mean.


The blue yarn marks the top of the shoulder. Notice how the line of knitted up stitches "jog" into a new vertical line at that point. That is unavoidable due to the fact that the front and back upper body sections were worked (seamlessly) in opposite directions. Whenever stocking stitch sections worked in two different directions are joined seamlessly, they will be off by half a stitch.

  • To make the knitting up of the sleeve less cumbersome, use some locking stitch markers to pin the fronts of the cardigan together so they won't flop around every time you flip the work. Once the first sleeve is done, you can stuff it into the interior of the sweater while you work the second sleeve for the same purpose.


Can't end this post without a view of the maple tree out front putting on its annual display. Not a sunny day, but even in the rain in a year when none of the foliage is at its best, it has a glorious inner glow.


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Wheatsheaves: Bind Off Dos and Don'ts

I strongly recommend knitting up neck and front borders before starting sleeves when knitting sweaters. You'll get a much better fit at the point when you can try on the sweater to judge sleeve length. While surplice-style borders seem straightforward, they are in fact rather tricky to design if you are intent on getting a good fit (apparently, a lot of sewing and knitwear designers lack this intent, at least from my experience). This border style requires some finessing around the neck and shoulders to avoid unsightly gaps. See this post

That said, I finished up the neck and front border on my new Wheatsheaves this morning. It took two attempts to get just the right degree of tension in the bind off. Here are some hints:

1. DON'T use a stretchy bind off such as Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. The border edge will be ruffled instead of flat.

2. DON'T use a larger needle to bind off. The edge won't be ruffly, but it will still end up drooping over time.

3. DO use the same size needle as you used for the rest of the border.

4. DO consider using a dpn of the above size in your right hand when binding off, for ease of movement in working the edge.

5. DO make sure to work the last 2 stitches together as you finish to make a beautiful, tidy corner. This is a great trick to ending a lot of pieces with a sharp 90 degree corner. 

6. DO lay the work flat to see how the borders are lying, and,

7. DO make sure to try on the cardigan to test the tension around your neck. Take note of how the extra width in this cardigan shape means that the sleeves will join the body low on the arms. It's intentional. If you're worried about your yardage, you might feel better knowing that the sleeve lengths are proportionally shorter than normal because of this.

8. DO be prepared to pull out the bind off row and do it all again if you're not satisfied. You can wait if you like and see how the whole thing blocks. Just remember that if you decide to re-do it, you'll need to steam the unravelled wool to get out the kinks for a smooth second bind off attempt. Get it right. It's worth it!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Wheatsheaves Borders: Easy to Adjust

The lower border is done. Here is the sweater laid out with the back on top. I lightly steamed the border so that I could try the cardigan on to check for length. It's perfect.

I've just wound the remaining skein into two big cakes, ready to complete the neck and front border. As the pattern indicates, it's best to do those before knitting the sleeves so that the garment will hang properly for trying on to check sleeve length. 

Note that the pattern is designed to allow you to alter the body length without fear that the stitch counts for the front borders will be messed up. There's a math formula with blank spaces to fill in to assist in calculating where to start in the lace pattern no matter how many stitches you need to knit up for the border, AND the knitting up is based on stitch to row ratios, not exact stitch numbers. To learn more about this approach, read this tutorial. You can apply this approach to any sweater, and it's so freeing!

P.S. Also, be sure to check out this link for particular instructions for picking up from a cable cast on (which was used at the back neck).

Friday, October 22, 2021

Parking Lot Inspiration

Nothing new to show as Wheatsheaves slowly progresses, so here are a few pics taken this afternoon with my lamentably bad phone camera when Isabel and I visited the nearby Lemoine Point Conservation Area for a late fall walk.

It was an afternoon of milkweed fluff blowing in the wind, hundreds (I kid you not) of chipmunks, water views, and woodland paths, but not much in the way of fall colour. This year, the leaves seem to be drying up and dropping without their usual spectacular show. Still, it was a lovely chilly day and a great opportunity to wear the Yule tam and Bibliogloves, along with other assorted woollies. 

On our return to the parking lot we ran into a woman wearing an astoundingly beautiful fair isle pullover. Of course I had to ask what the yarn and pattern were. The yarn? Good old Kroy Sock in denimy hues. Never seen it in a sweater before. The pattern? Her own. I'm inspired.

Hope to have the lower border on Wheatsheaves done for my next post. 


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Soaking It Up

When October is sunny, it may be the best of months. Only 3C last night, but it's up to 17C this afternoon with a slightly brisk wind coming off the lake. Rhinebeck or KnitEast weather, if only this were a year for serious travel. My own travel today consisted of a bike ride around my neighbourhood, up and down the streets of historic Kingston, soaking up the last warmish weather with the fall leaves fluttering down on me. For the record, I wore this:

Grey and black checked linen York Pinafore (fabric from Blackbird Fabrics) Ellerbeck sweater, Pembroke Scarf, and my new Bibliogloves. More pics of the latter below.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to take photos of your own hands? 

Wheatsheaves is back on the needles and the lace fun has begun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

While My Sweater is Shrinking...

Our house is cooling down now that we're in October, so my Wheatsheaves body is taking longer to dry than would have been the case a month ago. I am, however, pleased to report that the anticipated shrinkage appears to be underway. The sweater is only slightly damp now, and the body length is exactly where I hoped it would end up. No frogging or extra rows necessary. Occasionally, experience pays off.

While the afternoon sun works its magic on the sweater, I'm knitting up a quick little project.

It's a pair of Bibliogloves. The wool is Patons' Kroy Socks FX in "Midnight". I lost my last pair somewhere on my trip two years ago to KnitEast 2019 and have been putting off knitting a replacement. Still listening to "Murder at Queen's Landing", but also thinking about the now-distant pleasures of weekend wool retreats with knitting friends by the Bay of Fundy. Sigh.

P.S. Also thinking about ordering "State of Terror", the new book by Hilary Clinton and Louise Penny, and Chris Hadfield's new book, "The Apollo Murders". I'm a sucker for alternative histories.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Wheatsheaves: Blocking Work-in-Progress

Thanks to some audiobook listening (Andrea Penrose's "Wrexford and Sloane" mystery series), I'm almost ready to make the transition from the body (boring) to the lower lace border (exciting!). But ... I've worked with Eco+ so often that I know it will likely grow in length after blocking. I want the finished length of my cardigan to be 20". The instructions remind me to begin the border 3 1/2 inches before the desired finished length. That means I need to start the border when my sweater measures 16 1/2 inches from the top of the shoulder at the neck. REMINDER: because of the shoulder slope, make sure to measure just next to the neck and straight down. I actually stopped knitting when the body measured 16 1/4 inches, anticipating some growth. It's always better if you don't have to rip back and steam the crinkles out of the knitted yarn before proceeding. 

Here's the work soaking on my kitchen counter on a gloriously warm and sunny Thanksgiving afternoon. Is there a better time of year when the weather is nice?

The stitches are all on a length of waste yarn with the ball attached (but outside the tub so as to remain dry).

And here's the same chunk of knitting blocking on a towel. The width is 24" as set out in the schematic,

but the length is currently 17". I predict the length measurement will reduce to around 16 1/2 inches. Guess we'll know around this time tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Happy Thanksgiving for all you Canadian readers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Wheatsheaves Upper Body Complete

This next step begins with transferring the provisionally cast-on shoulder stitches to a needle (I used a 24" 5.5 mm while I retained the back stitches on a 32" length). There's a link to my tutorial on doing this, and if you've never done it before, the tutorial has some useful info, especially regarding what to do with the last stitch. I also followed my own instructions to thread a short length of waste yarn through the cast-on stitches to make it easy to count the number of rows from the shoulder in order to make the fronts match the back. See?

The fronts go quickly and now I have everything joined up and the first two rows of the lower body all done.

It's clear sailing from here. I'm looking forward to the excitement of the front lace border!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Wheatsheaves Upper Back Done + My Giant Beanbag

Before lunch today I managed to squeeze in fifteen minutes of knitting and got this completed.

I needed something to hold down the curling edges so the general shape would show, and I chose some seasonally appropriate weights. After the setup row, I have 39 rows of stocking stitch in the outer shoulder. 

Yesterday I decided to finally take action on my need for a draught stopper (otherwise known as a door snake). This bedroom door was, at some point in its hundred-year-old history, cut a little short and the light/noise/draughts have been driving me crazy for the four years we've lived here.

Instructions: 1. Measure the exact width of the door opening. In my case, 30".

2. Cut a piece of sturdy fabric (I used Essex linen/cotton) 30 + 1" wide x 13" tall. 

3. Fold the fabric over and sew a tube using a small stitch and a 1/2" seam and leaving one end open.

4. Turn right side out and press. Also press the raw edges of the open end to the wrong side in a half inch hem.

5. Fill the bag with dried beans -- lots of them. The finished bag will be quite heavy!

6. Pin the opening closed and edge stitch it. I decided to do this instead of hand stitching the closure because I felt it would be so much stronger. Done!

P.S. You are right if you noticed that the door colour doesn't match the trim. This is the room I painted a couple of weeks ago and I deliberately left the door until a later date.