Fretwork but Fret Not (1 of 2)

If you were to read the notes of knitters who have tackled this project, Fretwork designed by Shiri Mor, you would be struck by a few common strands of thinking.  The first common thread is one of curiosity over the sweater’s construction.  I was no different.  In viewing the pattern, you can see how initially it looks like a cabled sweater but then looking more closely you see detached cords that are woven so of course, curiosity sets in as you wonder how in the world does one knit that?

And, then the conversations take a turn to the fit of this garment.   Some say to knit a size with “negative ease” while others suggested knitting a size larger.  Others were frankly honest about their end product not fitting at all.  Well, I do not know what negative ease is and I can’t take a chance on randomly knitting a size up.  Why would you not knit your size?  What I mostly made of these comments was that it was of utmost importance to pay particular attention to the finished size of this garment and that how it fit was quite relevant to the happiness in the end.  The pattern did say “close fitting”, so that was the start point for me.

I set my mind into motion wondering what the designer’s concept of close fitting was (everyone has a different idea) and how close fitting did I want mine?  I know from experience that if a garment is in any way pulling or hugging tightly to my body, I will not wear it.  On the other hand, if the measurement is too loose fitting, will the woven cords droop?  I did consider dropping the idea of knitting this altogether as another aspect of this project, a basic crewneck, is not a shape I prefer for my body type and truthfully is not exciting enough for me to pour my energies into.  However, there was this knitting/weaving combo thing and we go back to the inquisitive nature of knitters.

In the meantime, I just happened to purchase a book entitled Good Measure, Knit a Perfect Fit Every Time by Deborah Newton.

I am very much a fan of hers, her patterns and techniques are specific and thoughtful and this book is as comprehensive regarding construction, fit, and design of a garment as her other books have been on their topics.  Wow, perfect timing I thought.  And, there it was, pg. 51, a definition for close-fit:  “a close-fitting sweater can be slightly smaller, the same as, or up to 2 ” larger than the body measurements, depending on the thickness of the fabric and the elasticity of the pattern stitch.  A close-fitting sweater often has shaping to conform to the body’s dimensions, but does not cling.”   OK, now I have something to work with and immediately I knew the size I wanted mine.  And, of course the size I wanted was not one that was written in the pattern.

Not all is lost when you know about gauge.  I know that this is always a sure fire way to get the size garment you want.   ok, I noticed the front and back were pieced or constructed in 3 parts, 2 sides and the center panel.  So, I began knitting a side panel with the recommended needle size to work up a swatch.  I knitted quite a ways up as I’ve learned a more accurate gauge can be gotten with a larger swatch.   I might have learned that from Deborah Newton, as well.  Also, it gave me practice in  cord weaving.  According to the schematic, my swatch measured no where near even the smallest size!  It measured much, much smaller or narrower.  Oddly so.  So, narrow was my swatch that I changed to the next larger needle and cast on the number of stitches for the medium or the 41″ size  given in the pattern.   When I measured this second swatch, I noticed I was getting gauge for the smallest size or the size 34″.  ok, I thought . . . getting closer but I wanted 36″ (up to 2″ larger than body measurements and not clingy).  What to do . . . So, I studied the pattern to see where the designer worked in the stitches for the larger sizes.  I noticed that she increased the number of stitches on the side panels.  So, I thought if I added 4 stitches or another grouping of 2k2p on each side panel, that when sewn together would give me the added 2 inches, 36″ from 34″, I wanted while keeping the design elements of the sweater in tact especially the lovely woven cables that edge the sides of the sweater.  I love the way those woven cables just edge the set-in sleeve seam.

I knitted the entire garment making those changes.  Imagine the size my sweater would have been if I had not taken the careful and necessary time to knit several gauges and figure that out!

Other than measuring and re-measuring along the way making sure my gauge was staying consistent and that I had not made a mathematical error, the knitting of this was not so bad at all.   Process and Tips here!  The shape, a basic crew neck, did not pose any further challenge.

I love the color,  it fits exactly as planned, and will be a very practical comfortable addition to my wardrobe.  I do need to work on finding a shirt that will stay in place underneath, however.

The photo shoot was at historic Chautauqua Institute.   I wore walking shoes (this is the exact location I broke a bone in my foot a few years, back wearing non-walking shoes).   I wanted to change into the heels that are in the bag I’m holding but hubby encouraged otherwise.  And, while I’m talking shoe wear, can you believe I ran across these?   I have not purchased them….. yet.

Retirement Identity

Retirement identity?  So, you thought you knew who you were?  Well, the truth is you knew who you were but part of the emotional preparation behind retirement is realizing you will need to find out who you are all over, again as everything in your life becomes upheaved the minute you begin your retirement.  Well, these items, below are helping me regain my confidence and identification of self.

Continue reading “Retirement Identity”

Checkered Cowl

What’s more difficult . . . finding a ready made present or finding a pattern to make your loved one something special?

Recently, I met up with a dear friend, a Mom who was determined to find the just-right item to knit for her daughter.  Where do you begin?  Well, we chose to meet in a local yarn shop and chose to keep the project small.  Keeping in mind the recipient’s tendencies towards tailored suits, the needed attire for her work, we looked for a cowl or scarf pattern that would compliment such an outfit.  We perused a variety of pattern books as well as found samples of knitted garments, similar to what we had in mind.  The samples were not necessarily of the patterns we were looking at but served well as inspiration and gave us a sense of weight and texture of the yarn used.  When we came across this pattern, Checkered Cowl designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian in the book Scarf Style 2, we stopped and thought how much we liked its features:  the striping, the lacy effect, and the use of fingering weight.  We thought this item would make a lovely gift.

I remembered having some fingering weight, Lorna’s Rose in my stash that had lost its intended purpose.  I loved the pattern as much as my friend and thought it might be fun to knit one, too.  It would be our own KAL (knit a-long), that is two people knitting the same thing with the intent of helping and encouraging one another.   At a recent fiber fest, written about here, I purchased one skein of Hedgehog Fibres Sock in graphite for the second color.

Don’t be fooled by what seems simple!

I am always amazed at no matter how experienced you are or what size or skill level the project, there is always something new to learn:

Dropped stitches:  You knit the scarf in two colors for the horizontal striping and then when finished knitting its length, you drop stitches (every 6th) to get the vertical striping.  It immediately transforms from a plain striped scarf to the lacy appeal of this checkerboard.  The stitch drops quickly and easily in the first 3 – 4 rows, but I had to ‘pick’ at the sides of the stitch to unravel it completely to the end.  This actually took more time and diligence than expected.  I used a blunt darning needle to do this so as to avoid splitting the yarn.

The color is off but you can see where the stitches are dropped thus far.

Carrying yarn:  The carrying of the unused color up along the edge of the scarf was uncomfortable for me.  I was taught that carried yarn ought only be carried in a horizontal direction, across the back of the knitted fabric, never carried up.  However, this prevents weaving of many ends had the yarn been cut with each color change.

Kitchener stitch:   This is the only seam and brings together the live stitches on the short ends. By doing so creates the loop of the cowl.  Kitchener stitch, like all stitching, takes practice to match the tension of the knitting.  It creates a beautiful weave where the seam virtually becomes part of the knitting.

You cannot make out whee the seam is.

Blocking:  I chose to ignore the directions as written.  I laid the piece flat side down, texture up while in a rectangle shape (before sewing it in a loop), on a damp towel, spraying lightly with water.  I let it dry and then sewed it up.  This allowed the beautiful texture to remain, unharmed.

I think the cowl is lovely and matches the weight of my balloon hem, zip up the front, tuck pocketed style rain coat.  Whatever your aesthetic, this cowl seems to work!

More Project Photos Here

I scream, you scream, we all scream for schematics

In looking through the lens of a knitter, a schematic is a diagram of the fabric’s shape you are creating.  A thorough schematic  has measurements included in both horizontal and vertical directions, otherwise known as width and length at key ‘fit’ points of the garment.   Those measurements on a schematic are typically posted in inches as well as centimeters.  These measurements inform how the garment will ultimately fit in the eyes of the designer.  Also, the schematic is meant to match the written directions of the pattern.  The purpose of a schematic is to clarify those directions for the knitter.  A schematic also serves well when one surfs knitting patterns.  One look at a schematic immediately forecasts the shape of the garment.  It is hard to believe that there continues to be patterns without these informative diagrams.  I have been both challenged as well as successful in the making of a project due to the schematic of a pattern.

The schematics below are from five different projects of mine from the past few years.  These schematics range from “WHAT! You’ve got to be kidding” to “WOW, I’m impressed!”  Stop for a moment and see if you can see what is wrong or really great about each of these:

FIRST

Problem:  The measurements say centimeters, however along the hem, are in inches.  Every measurement should be in BOTH inches and centimeters.  This caused minor angst in the time it took to figure that out and, of course, some unit converting.  The result is below.

More Here on this Project

SECOND

Problem:  No measurement for the circumference of the neckline.  I was pretty happy with this schematic, although minimal in content, until I had difficulty with the stitch count around the neck.  I could not pick up the number of stitches the pattern recommended.  If there had been a measurement on the schematic, I could have used that measure to better understand how many stitches I should pick up in accordance with my gauge.  I ended up guessing and hopefully the little cardigan will fit the baby comfortably.

More Here on this Project

THIRD

Problem:  No measurement for the armhole or shoulder or neckline or width of sleeve at hem.  All of these measurements really matter.  A garment too tight in the armholes will sit on the shelf in my wardrobe and not be worn.  I solved this by knowing from past projects how wide I wanted my sleeve to be and knitted that sleeve width, accordingly.  My experience solved the problem where the schematic fell short.

More Here on this Project

FOURTH

WOW is all I can say!  This is the most thorough schematic I have ever seen!  Almost overkill!  The knitting of this project was smooth sailing.

More Here on this Project

FIFTH

This is also a very thorough schematic and is likely what has inspired me to write this blog post.  In this case, the pattern’s directions did not match this diagram.  Without the schematic and my ability to re-create a life size pattern, I would not have known how to proceed with the project.  The schematic was the sole key to the fit and success of this project.

More Here on this Project

These hand knits actually are my wardrobe, as well as part of my heart and soul,  as early as the point of yarn purchase.   So, the expectation of success at the end is of the utmost.

In looking through the lens of a (potential) knitwear designer, I will remember the importance of a thorough and accurate schematic in the planning and writing of a pattern.

The Rhythm of Retirement

Some beliefs:  I believe setting goals for first year retirement is very important as doing so is evidence of self-direction and provides purpose, process, and production.  I believe there are a number of stages within the retirement phase of life.  I believe the very first stage of retirement is long before retirement actually begins.  I might call it the ‘Preparation Stage’.  These beliefs are firming up in my mind.

Continue reading “The Rhythm of Retirement”