Joining sweater parts at the underarm: Here comes the fun!

How to join sweater pieces at the underarm

I don’t know why I’ve been waiting for someone to have photos of this process, when I’ve got my world-class illustration skills to draw on! (This #fringeandfriendsknitalong has it all, people.) Ok, these may not be award-winning illos, but hopefully they’re good enough for our purposes here today, which is to talk about how to join your Amanda cardigan at the underarms. Granted, I’ve only been looking at sweater patterns for a few years, but this is actually the first one I’ve seen with this kind of construction. Typically (in my experience), a sweater that is joined at the underarms and worked seamlessly upward from there has been worked seamlessly up to that point as well. Meaning, the body would be knitted in one piece and the sleeves knitted in the round, so you’re joining three pieces instead of five. (Which is how our lovely panelist Jaime is knitting her Amanda.) Nevertheless, in this case — if you’re knitting Amanda as written — you’ve got five pieces to join at the underarms. You’ve bound off underarm stitches at the underarm edge of each piece and now it’s time to clothesline them all together in order to work the yoke in one piece. And that’s literally all it is: Whether you’ve got the pieces on five needles or holders or waste yarn, the pattern has you simply slip all of the stitches onto one long circular needle so that they line up, obviously, in the position in which they go together. I’ve drawn it two ways, above and below, in case one makes more sense to you than the other.

If your yarn is still attached to your right front, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you’ll simply attach a new ball of yarn and knit your raglan setup row all the way across these pieces — one long row — at which point they are united into one beautiful, flappy piece of fabric. Each of the joints (where the front meets the sleeve, the sleeve meets the back, etc.) is the starting point for a raglan seam. You’ll place a marker, as indicated in the pattern, at each of these four positions, and you’ll be decreasing at those markers to create the raglan “seams” and shaping. So your rows will get progressively shorter as you go. [UPDATE! @wendlandcd posted a pic overnight showing what this all looks like once the yoke is complete. So awesome!] For my money, the yoke is the funnest part of a sweater — it’s where all the action is, and where this fabric takes on the shape of a sweater! Which is one argument in favor of bottom-up sweaters: You have the yoke to look forward to when working the sleeves and body, rather than (with top-down) doing the funnest part first, with so much knitting left to do.

Speaking of arguments in favor of things, here’s another in favor of knitting this sweater in pieces. Bottom-up may mean saving the best part for last, but I really hate knitting the first few rows after the join with a seamless bottom-up sweater. I find it super stressful — to me and to the sweater — trying to get around the bend of circular sleeves in those early rows. Maybe I’m being fooled by my simplistic drawings, but I feel like that’s going to be much smoother with these flat pieces.

I’d love to hear thoughts on that from those who’ve done it already!

How to join sweater pieces at the underarm

Next week we’ll talk about neck shaping! Woohoo.

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: WIP of the Week, week 5

 

Knit the Look: Danielle Bernstein’s cable beanie

Knit the Look: Danielle Bernstein's cable beanie

I love that We Wore What blogger Danielle Bernstein happens to be wearing a pin-striped coat with this little oatmeal-colored cable beanie. The overall androgyny of her look makes it that much more perfect that the best pattern I know for matching the hat happens to be a Jared Flood pattern from BT Men called Eno, which of course is perfectly unisex. To make it just like Danielle’s, use Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Woodsmoke and knit the ribbing to four inches, for a nice fold-up brim, before switching to the cable pattern. (If you’re one of the many knitters out there who has yet to discover the pure simple joy of cabling, this would be a great place to start.)

For more of Danielle’s outfit, see Vanessa’s original post.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Marie Piovesan’s luscious scarf

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Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Second sock swap

The second sock swap project

Two of the lovely people participating in the #fringeandfriendsknitalong — Instagrammers @lunarknits (in Sydney) and @wendlandcd (in Washington state) — have struck up enough of a friendship that they’ve cooked up a marvelous little co-knitting project for themselves. Both are susceptible to Second Sock Syndrome, so they’ve decided to each knit one sock, then send it and the yarn to the other person to knit the mate and keep. So they each knit two socks, but not the same sock twice. It’s brilliant, and possibly easier to talk a friend into doing with you than a Tag Team Sweater. The next time I have the urge to knit a sock, I may have to look for someone to swap with.

If you’re on Instagram, you can follow their progress under #secondsockswap.

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An unlikely story

An unlikely story

This is the tale of the most improbable thing that’s happened to me since that one time my Morse Code Cowl was on Stephen Fry’s TV show. But first, we have to flash back to May 4, 2014. I remember the exact date because it was the morning Anna and I woke up and got dressed for the trade show and found that we were both wearing army-green pants and a denim shirt. We thought it was funny — especially since we were doing our Tag Team Sweater Project photos that day — so off we went, dressed like twins.

You may be familiar with Sarah Hatton, one of the designers for Rowan, the illustrious British yarn and pattern company that crops up often in these pages. While Anna and I were sitting on a couch in the Rowan distributor’s booth that day, poring over upcoming patterns and partaking of the dime store candy on the coffee table (there were Jots!), Sarah spied us and said, “I know you two! You’re Tolt and Fringe. I follow you on Instagram!” Which was pretty astonishing, for Sarah Hatton to be recognizing us. But that’s not the story.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago on Instagram. Sarah posted this photo from her latest Rowan booklet, the one up top, and I hit the like button. As in, hey yo, congratulations! She responded and said — I hope she doesn’t mind my repeating this — “Glad you like it @karentempler – the model was kinda an ode to your good self.” To which I responded in my characteristically urbane fashion, “Whut?!” I’ve since seen other pics from the collection, on her feed and elsewhere, and it’s full of girls dressed in army-green and denim (and grey), which, being far from alone in my penchant for that palette, I would never have thought had anything to do with me, or with how Anna and I were dressed the day we met Sarah. After asking if that seemed creepy, Sarah went on to say that the styling on that first photo was “supposed to be a bit Karen and a bit Isabel Marant.” And there you have it: The first (and presumably last) time anyone ever put me and Isabel Marant in the same sentence. And a story so improbable, I had to share it.

The Rowan Loves Kidsilk Haze & Felted Tweed collection is now available, and you can see it in full at Ravelry. Pictured here are Vicky, Paula, Davina and Gemma. And for the record, I would be happy to have this whole outfit:

An unlikely story

The button band conundrum

The button band conundrum

When I wrote the Pullovers for first-timers post, I planned for it to be quickly followed by “Cardigans for first-timers.” I’ve basically been writing that sequel for a year. Obviously the difference between the two — what makes a cardigan a cardigan — is that a cardigan has an opening down the front. Which seems simple enough, but there are a thousand different approaches to that opening. Are the front selvages straight up and down (leading to a crewneck) or sloping (leading to a v-neck)? Are there closures — buttons, toggles, a zipper? Are those closures attached to a button band? And if so, how is that button band created? And not every cardigan has bands or closures — in the past few years, there have even been a flood of sweaters designed to be worn right-side up and upside down. In other words, cardigan construction is a little bit complicated to talk about.

When we kicked off the #fringeandfriendsknitalong, I debated about whether to address the button bands up front or at the point where they’re actually worked in the Amanda pattern, which is at the end. I decided on the latter — even though those of us knitting Amanda had to make a decision up front about whether or not to knit the bands as written. We’ve spoken of that decision in a couple of posts so far (meet the panel and progress report), and it’s been brought to my attention that for the thousands of you reading along rather than knitting along, you don’t know how it’s written.

I’m not sure what I was smoking last week when I said Anna was almost to the join and would hopefully be able to photograph it soon. She is working on her third body piece (she’s done with the back and one front; now knitting the other front) but still has sleeves to knit before she can join the pieces at the underarms! Duh. So while we all keep knitting, let’s pause for a minute and talk about those button bands.

Button bands, like I said, are complicated, but since the Amanda cardigan has straight fronts and a crewneck, this is the easiest type to talk about. Typically, with a straight selvage like this, you would do the bands in one of three ways: 1) Knit them at the same time as the body of the sweater, all of a piece. Generally in that case the “band” stitches — and inch or two of stitches at each front edge — are worked in garter or seed stitch or something relatively firm. Ribbing generally requires a smaller needle than the main fabric, so is not such a good choice for this approach. 2) Pick up stitches along the selvage and work 2×2 ribbing perpendicular to the sweater. For an example of that type of band, take a look at my Acer. 3) Knit two separate vertical bands of 1×1 ribbing and seam them along the fronts. Tightly knit vertical 1×1 ribbing is very clean-looking, and that seam provides stability, but not everyone wants to seam their bands on. (Of course, there are more than these three basic options. And a v-neck cardigan is a whole different can of worms.)

The way Amanda is written is a hybrid of 1 and 3. You cast on all of your front stitches and work the ribbing on the smaller needle. When you’re ready to switch to the larger needle and start working the main fabric, you set aside the button-band stitches on a holder. I asked knitalonger @dxlcarson if I could borrow her pretty photo above, which gives us a really clear look at this. Once the sweater is completed all the way up to the neck, you put those band stitches back on the smaller needle, work the bands to the same length as the fronts, and then seam them on. Again, the reason for not just knitting them concurrently with the body is that the smaller needle creates a tighter, firmer rib, and also creates a difference in row gauge, which you can finesse when you’re seaming them on. So the decision we were each making up front was whether to go ahead and cast on those button band stitches at the outset, or leave them off and do the bands a different way later on. Jaime is actually knitting hers along with the body. Kate and I both opted to leave them off. I think Kate is considering doing picked-up bands (#2). I’m doing separate vertical bands (#3) and am planning to back them with ribbon for a really traditional look, which will also negate the kind of gaping you tend to get with handknit button bands.

On a related note: Saturday I spent eight hours alone in my car, and I took it as an opportunity to listen to knit.fm. I had heard the first two episodes of Hannah Fettig and Pam Allen’s podcast last year, and loved it enough to have sponsored the first two eps this year, but had never gotten to listen to the rest. I had just listened to ep 3 on a walk last week, so I started in on Saturday at episode 4, which happened to be about button bands! If you’re new to the subject (or even if you’re not), it is worth a listen. The whole series is fantastic.

So that’s what I have to say about Amanda button bands. Button holes, we’ll address another day.

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: WIP of the Week, week 4

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Photo © @dxlcarson, used with permission

New Favorites: Uncommon cables

New Favorites: Uncommon cables

As has no doubt become perfectly clear, I adore traditional cable motifs: braids, honeycomb, diamonds, even just plain old twists. Would even go so far as to say I could never get enough of them. But maybe I am in fact OD’ing on them a little with my beloved Amanda, because I am so, so attracted to not-so-classic cables right now, e.g.:

TOP: Catena by Courtney Spainhower — I can’t quite tell what’s crawling out of those arcs but the whole motif is sort of scarab-like, and I love it (there’s a matching cowl included)

MIDDLE: Hineri by Olga Buraya-Kefelian (this one’s actually an Old Favorite that won’t quit) — these extra-luscious cables are worked with additional fabric created on the wrong side (free pattern)

BOTTOM: York by Melissa Thomson — just different enough to be intriguing

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By the way, I’m not exactly sure how I did it, but I confused some people with last week’s installment of New Favorites, about cabinfour’s Pure shawl. New Favorites is about patterns I’m infatuated with and wanting to knit. In this case I was saying I had just gotten two skeins of Far in the mail, was thinking about a few different kerchief ideas for it, and wound up wondering if it would work to scale down the beautiful new Pure to kerchief size and knit it with my Far. Some took me to be saying that I had actually done so, or even that two skeins of Far are enough yarn to knit Pure to pattern dimensions. This is not the case — it is less yardage than the pattern calls for, which is why I was wondering aloud what would happen if one scaled it down. It was certainly not my intention to give anyone the impression that Pure could be knitted, as written, with two skeins of Far, nor that I have knitted Pure, with Far or anything else. (If only I could knit that fast!) Regardless, I apologize for any confusion I inadvertently created.

New Favorites: Pure

New Favorites: Pure shawl pattern by cabinfour

So after my post last week about the Woolfolk debut collection, I got two skeins of Far in the mail. (Thank you, Kristin!) They were meant to be for a Knop hat, and oh man it would be delicious. But from the instant I pulled the yarn out of the envelope, all I’ve been able to think is I want that around my neck. 284 yards of pure luxury. Combine this with my latent nervousness over the fact that there’s nothing mindless on my needles right now, and I’ve suddenly got kerchiefs on the brain. Specifically that little garter-stitch kerchief I made for a my mom a couple of years ago. Thoroughly simple, it was really the perfect showcase for such a delicious yarn, and I just loved having it tucked around my neck for those snapshots. But then I’m thinking, isn’t there something equally spare I could knit with it — something mindless but not so mindless? (Don’t think I haven’t considered another Textured Shawl. But I already have a big grey version. In fact, I’m wearing it as I type.) What about a mini Lola? Or a Romney Kerchief? Then a quick trot through Ravelry led me to Pure, the latest from “cabinfour,” who has a way with ultra-spare shawls. I love the subtle progression of textures, and always love a big garter edge, but I wonder if I would love that if I scaled it down? Hm. Either way, it’s got my attention right now.

[DISCLOSURE: cabinfour frequently sends me copies of her patterns, unsolicited. No joke, not an hour after I finished writing this post (before it went live) Pure landed in my inbox. It's like the universe knows!]

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: the Woolfolk collection