For a project that pretty much flew off the needles, it is interesting that I have so much to say about it. I have lots to say not due to any pattern issue or yarn dissatisfaction, but rather the changes I made in how I constructed it. From long tail cast on to sewing on the seam binding along the back neck, I feel these changes led to its success and will lead to the garment’s longevity.
I think I have more questions than answers after finishing this project. This will create lingering in my mind. The topic is crochet. This is definitely the most challenging project I have made in crochet as it involved gauge, fit, shaping, and color changing within a row, none of which I am sure I did correctly and none of which I’ve ever done, before. Also, technique in sewing the crochet pieces together. What I knew however is that this pattern would be a great way to use up some remnant stash with its offering of color possibilities. I have plenty of remnants from past projects of small bits of color however I knew I did not have enough of one color for the main body. Purchasing only three skeins and using those scraps, I thought this a great way to stretch yardage. I did go with the yarn used in the pattern for this main color (MC), a silver grey filatura-di-crosa- zarina-chine.
It was a hot summer. Record-breaking in fact, in our neck of the woods. Knitting is at a minimum for me during the summer due to heat, not to mention the warmth of the summer sun is a constant force of beckoning. Who doesn’t want to be outside during short summer months? On the other hand, the knitter in me is always looking to move forward with the stash and there is the cool of the evenings.
I thought linen; lightweight and stays in the theme of summer. I’ll pull the linen from the stash to work up. I’ve had this bundle for a number of years, had never knitted with linen before and wanted to give it a try. I had purchased it for a darling top that caught my attention with it’s open stitch weave and detached cowl. It is amazing to me how an experienced knitter can always find new things to take on. Between the new yarns, new-fangled stitches, and that never-ending flow of patterns, there is ALWAYS opportunity for taking on something new.
Every so often you hear from a friend from the past. This was the case the day I received a lovely message from a colleague who had retired a few years before me suggesting a get together. She thought of me in particular as, like all of us seniors who are trying to keep our bodies and minds moving, she wanted to learn something new. She must have remembered that I crocheted as her suggestion was that we meet, chat of course, and I teach her how to crochet. Perfect, I thought.
The reader must be wondering, “Where is the knitting? I thought this blog was on knitting!” And, you would be right however, this blog also serves as a journal on related topics and I feel staying fit and making healthy choices interweaves in the kind of knitting I represent.
“How is staying fit and making healthy choices a part of knitting?” I’ll give you the top five answers that pop into my head. 1. (staying fit) I want to keep my shape for as long as possible for the fashion statements I make with my knitting. When asked why I knit, immediately I say, “for the fashion of it.” 2. (staying fit) We have a routine for exercise that is meant to help keep that shape. And, the routine is for two, hubby and me.
3. (healthy choice) Even retired, there are responsibilities and obligations that are part of my life. There is the enjoyable position as VP of the Buffalo Knitting Guild where I share my love and passion of knitting hoping to encourage and inspire as I go and there is a growing call for my time and service helping aging family members. I am beginning to take my knitting with me for waiting room entertainment.
4. And, full disclosure: (healthy choice) Don’t get angry, knitters, but I do find pleasure in other things that are not knitting related. When I take a break from knitting, coming back to it gives me a much greater appreciation of it. 5. (healthy choice) Did you know people who knit for too long a period of time can and have done bodily injury to themselves? If I sit for too long in one spot, my body get stiff and sore. The repetition of motion of one’s hand, wrist and elbow for extended periods of time can and does create injury that could take months, if not longer to heal. I purposely knit for short periods of time, involving myself in another activity in between. So, one reason why you haven’t seen any knitting is because I’ve spent time on a number of these other things.
Another reason is because I am attempting knitting more than one item at a time! Therefore, I am about 50% complete with two projects right now. If you count a quickie crochet scarf, then I am in the middle of three projects. ok, here is a sneak peak of the start of one and yarn (linen) for another.
I don’t think this multi-knitting projects is for me. I seem to have a certain guilt that arises when I am knitting on one of the projects and not on the other. I feel like I am not giving full attention to each project, like I am rushing through just to get them to completion. I notice I am not taking the time to appreciate the particulars like the detail, or whimsy of style, or innovative fabric. When these projects are finished, I will be going back to my mono knitting. Just call me a serial monogamist.
And, my last excuse why knitting has been missing in posts is because it’s been too blasted hot to knit! (We have no AC.) Even to have a photo shoot! I actually do have a beauty in queue for a fashion shoot but it is a turtleneck! It will have to wait.
So, enjoy some of these shots from our last bike ride. This is a bike path that is quickly becoming my favorite in the local area. I love how it follows a creek at times,
passes through a summer camp as it reminds me of my summer camp days, and winds in ever-extending trails through the University of Buffalo’s ‘playground’.
Feel the summer breezes, take in the fresh air, work those large muscles, and know that knitting is always in the forecast of the future.
No, I am not officially a knitwear designer however the concept of designing knitwear, to me, has many levels. When I think of top level knitwear designers, the people who come to mind are those who have had multiple original designs published in major knitting magazines. Yarn companies hire these people to design using their yarns. Then, there are the knitwear designers who design and sell from their own etsy shop, website, or the like. You see many fledgling designers such as these on Ravelry. And, then there are the knitters who have the ability to take a published pattern and make it their own with modifications, alterations, shape changing, yarn choice, color changing, to name a few ideas. The later would best define where I am in the designing of my own hand knits. With this particular project, this level one designer in me came out loud and clear.
Motivated to learn a new method called the two-tone cable technique, being taught at the local Guild, the sweater itself did not call to me so much. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely pattern designed by Heather Lodinsky, I did not want a basic crew neck nor long, lacy sleeves.
So, I began to configure how I could re-design this pattern having the best of both worlds; learning this technique and having a garment in the end I would love. Admittedly, the changes I wanted for this garment came quickly to me.
I don’t know if there is an order to the process of designing but in this instance, the beautiful front and center cable was perfect inspiration for the long lean line I always try to obtain. So, for that long lean look, all I had to do was extend the cable which led to tunic length. I thought shaping at the side seams would make for a better fit. I also knew side slits could be an option at the time of seaming. I was drawn immediately to the idea of short sleeves with the cable pattern seen in the body to continue in the sleeves and that I would ditch the lacy fabric sleeves seen in the pattern. I love details so I thought a provisional cast-on with an i-cord bind off would nicely frame the sweater and give it a bit of boldness at the edges where it is otherwise very soft looking. I had the berroco lustra in my stash so the colors were pretty much chosen for me.
Use Resources for Help
Remember, I am not a designer and do not have all the measurements for different styles right at my finger tips. Therefore, to help me in the tunic I wanted, I turned to my pattern stash, found a tunic length pattern with shaped sides in the weight of yarn I was using so used those directions and measurements for the shaping. I give credit to Kate Davies and her exquisite eye for detail where I learned about provisional cast on with i-cord bind off when working on a different project. Now I have that technique in my ‘tool kit’ so called upon it, here.
I could not understand the directions for the ribbing in the pattern so I used what I knew about corrugated ribbing. I didn’t need to think about the slit along the side seams while I was knitting as slits are just seams that are not sewn closed. So, really the major challenge came with the sleeves.
Well, I knew I wanted short sleeves. I measured the diameter of my upper arm. Knowing my gauge, I casted on x stitches per inch x no. of inches. So, the corrugated ribbing fit just the way I wanted. I knew I wanted the main cable pattern and at least one of the 4 stitch cross over patterns along either side of the main cable. I knew I needed some more stitches for binding off along the selvage. This gave me the number of stitches I needed in the first row after the ribbing. Then, I figured about two inches for the actual sleeve length (after ribbing and before armhole bind off) and needed to get to the number of stitches to follow the sleeve cap according to direction. I knew I would be increasing and my gauge told me how many rows I had to do so. I was home free, at point of armhole bind-off to follow the shape of the sleeve cap given in the pattern. It became a mathematical computation to know how many rows to knit, when to decrease along the selvage to have the cap fit perfectly into the armhole seam of the body. I sketched the shape of the cap out onto paper as it was a little tricky with the back of the cap sleeve shaped a bit differently than the front of it.
You can see some calculations and extraneous math. Logic, math, and knitting skill came together for some lovely sleeves. Gotta say, I am pleased.
Now, you can make plans till the cows come home but what you see in your mind’s eye might not always be what you see in person. When I slipped on my sweater I was thrilled with all of the modifications I made except for one. I felt the sweater was too long.
Change is Sometimes Needed
Did you ever know anyone who was a whiz at technology but the minute there is a screw-up cries for help? Same with knitting. The talent in any form comes if and when you are able to fix your own problem(s). So, here I was with this ‘problem’. Well, I thought . . . what do you see in ready-wear to help with shape, fit, and comfort? Shirring! That’s it! I’ll shirr the side seams! I took a crochet hook and worked 3 sc, (single crochet) chain 3 (for a little loop) 3 sc,, chain 3, repeat, along the inside of the side seam, threaded some durable narrow twill tape through the loops and pulled for fit. Perfect! And, I will flatten out when in storage so as not to wrinkle.
Celebrate by Wearing
I love my sweater. I supported our Guild, it taught me this cable technique. It served as design practice. It was a perfect pattern for this yarn that was in my stash, and now it serves as a wearable garment for my wardrobe.
The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo is not only a friendly organization where one meets people who are passionate about knitting but the Guild is also very serious in its purpose and programming. The two ladies deemed program chairs leave no stone unturned in providing ideas for programs and seeing those ideas to fruition. It was in this way I became aware of Buffalo native and knitwear designer Heather Lodinsky and her two-tone cable method as this was the program topic at one of our monthly meetings.
Call me obsessed. Call me intense. Call me stubborn. This sweater, Renaissance designed by Teva Durham was NOT photographing to its fullest potential and it was driving me mad until I realized . . . oh, dear . . . it’s the SWEATER!! My thinking . . . What was it? The body fit perfectly, the neckline moved about in a ruffly kind of way as intended and certainly appropriate for its name sake. The sleeves . . . dramatic, as seen in the pattern. Wait. The sleeves. The sleeves. Something about the sleeves. Yes, they are long but that is the style of the pattern. Oh, wait . . . what about their width? That could be it. If I made them narrower. . . If I make the sleeves narrower, the cap to fit more snug at the top, that might give the sweater an overall better look. Wait. The sleeves. Maybe, just a little shorter. For comfort sake. Wait! How ’bout three-quarter length keeping the essence of the pattern? I notice I get excited, probably because I have a plan to resolve what seems to be ailing me about this garment.
A retirement gift, a plaque from the District where I worked, beckons me. It is as if it can talk and recall; that plaque with the Varsity letter. I hear students’ voices, excited anticipation in the air, their endless desire for learning. It speaks my tongue and reminds me about lesson planning into wee hours. It sounds with the hustle bustle of school life: hallways all abuzz, meetings with teachers and/or parents, the frustrations voiced and the sharing of successes of each day. One glance at this wall plaque of mounted school letter and personalized engraved plate, now hanging on a wall in my yarn room, does all of that every time I look at it.
Well, I do keep my word. Today, we had a redo photo shoot of my Renaissance Tunic, designed by Teva Durham. Now, make no mistake as to how much I love this sweater as evidenced by its wearing this winter. My love of this tunic is probably why I wanted to bring it to you, again as I wasn’t sure the first photo shoot did it justice. However, this idea does add pressure to an already stressful activity. That is how I feel with these photo sessions, pure stress. Many reasons. You see, hubby, who wants so desperately to please is not quite as flexible and energetic as he once was and the model is getting older. Both get cranky and both want these photo shoots to be successful, at least in our eyes. Also, a redo moment takes twice the energy to ready our ‘get-up-and-go’ and we (or at least, I) have high hopes of capturing some good looking shots.
“If only the sleeves were longer.” “If only the neck was loser.” “I wish I had shaped the side seams.” “If only” or “I wish” thoughts are prevalent in the world of hand knitting. They are phrases I very much want to avoid, of course, as they create your beautiful handiwork to have a lot of shelf time and I knit to wear my garments. Unfortunately, they are phrases that all knitters have had at one time or another including me when expectation and reality do not meet and to me, the talented knitter is not one who knits but is one who knows how to avoid or solve their “if only” moments. Also, one who actually wears their knits if that is indeed the knitter’s purpose for knitting. I believe I am in the midst of such a situation, admitting it, and coming to terms with it. I may have an idea you may want to borrow if you have an “if only” issue that is similar. Here goes: