Amanda neck shaping, part 1: Karen plots a shawl collar

Amanda neck shaping, part 1: Karen ponders a shawl collar

When I’d been knitting for about three months, I signed up for a full weekend of classes at Stitches West, ranging from one-hour workshops on fixing mistakes, knitting backwards and continental knitting, to a half-day class on Tunisian crochet and a full-day class on the top-down sweater method. I’m pretty sure it was the fixing mistakes teacher I’m remembering having opened up the floor to questions at the end. Someone asked, “What do you think it’s really important to get good at?” Which was an interesting question, I thought. And the teacher responded, “Neck shaping.” Which seemed completely out of left field to me, being a total newb in a room full of newbs. I couldn’t imagine why I would ever need to know how to do that myself, and had no clue how one would go about learning it. OMG. Of course, I wound up inadvertently learning the basics of it in that top-down sweater class, and I’ve drawn on that ever since. I’m comfortable calculating the rate of increase on a top-down sweater, based on whether I want a crewneck or V-neck or whatever, and can turn that around for a bottom-up. Which is about to come in handy.

I mentioned back in our Meet the Panel post that I was concerned about the neck shaping on Amanda. There is only one photo of the sweater in the book (!) and the model’s hair is obscuring the neckline, but it still gave me pause. I looked at the project photos on Ravelry and it does seem to be a case where the neck doesn’t sit quite right on some people, with the tops of the button bands wanting to flap forward and outward. It’s because the neck shape is high, wide and shallow — almost like high boatneck. Buttoned all the way up, it sits the way a high boatneck would. But split open into a cardigan, those high fronts have nothing to anchor them.

We’ll get into more detail about this tomorrow, in part 2. But meanwhile, I’m here to tell you that it won’t be an issue for me after all, as I’ve decided to make my Amanda into a shawl-collar cardigan instead! Reader Callie C asked in the comments recently whether it would be “easy” to make this alteration — specifically, to give Amanda a Bellows collar — noting that she has not knitted a cardigan before. Easy is in the eye of the beholder, but I responded as follows:

I wouldn’t say it would be “easy” but it could certainly be done. The biggest trick is you’d have to change the neck shaping. If you look at the shape of the main fabric on Bellows, it’s a v-neck shape, with the fronts gradually sloping away from each other. You’d have to create that curved edge in order to do a Bellows-style band. For a shawl collar like that, you pick up stitches all the way up one front, around the neck, and back down the other front, and work your ribbing outward from there, and the shawl-collar part itself is created with short rows.

Given that they’re both worsted-weight sweaters, I would buy the Bellows pattern and compare the row gauges (its, Amanda’s, yours) to see if you could just use the neck-shaping numbers from Bellows and then work the collar from that pattern, too. But even if it’s not a perfect 1:1, you could see how Bellows is done and then apply that same thinking to Amanda.

… I should note that you’d be applying that shape to a raglan yoke (Amanda is raglan; Bellows is set-in sleeves), so it wouldn’t be worked exactly the same way as the Bellows fronts. …

Once she got me started, I couldn’t stop thinking about how great a shawl collar would be. Of course, no two shawl collars are alike: There are deep-V, narrow, professorial types, and high-V, super-round Peter Pan-ish types. I’m doing this despite the fact that the other two sweaters I currently have in progress — Channel and Slade (the poor thing) — are both shawl collars, but they’ll all be quite different. I think the shaping on Bellows is pretty perfect, but bought the pattern and the gauge is drastically different than mine/Amanda’s. I hadn’t realized it’s two strands of Shelter (worsted) held together and knitted at bulky gauge. Still useful for seeing the rate of the slant and where it begins and ends. (And I imagine I’ll be knitting Bellows one day anyway — especially knowing it’s bulky!) So I’m on the hunt for other patterns with good shawl shaping and a more similar row gauge — e.g. The Shepherd Cardigan! — but I’ll probably wind up just winging it, and redoing if need be. (Why row gauge, you ask? Because to make this mod, we need to concern ourselves with how many rows are worked within the yoke section, and figure out how many decreases to distribute at what rate amongst those rows. Plus picking up stitches along the selvage is about how many stitches you’ll pick up into the ends of how many rows.)

It’ll be awhile before I get to the neck shaping — I still have half my sleeves plus my back to do — but once I get to it, assuming it works out, I promise to share my notes.

Tomorrow I’m talking to Kate about her many mods, how they led to her set-in sleeve alteration, and what she suggests for tweaking Amanda’s neck shape.

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: WIP of the Week, week 6

Amanda panel progress report: Let’s see these sweaters!

Amanda panel progress repot: Let's see these sweaters!

I had originally planned to talk about joining the body and sleeves this week for the #fringeandfriendsknitalong, but am feeling like maybe we could all use a little Information Intermission. And I thought this would be a good time to check in with our panel and see how some of our sweaters are progressing. Rebekka, Amy and Anna are each knitting uneventfully at their own pace.  Anna is nearing the join and will hopefully have photos of that process for us to talk about next week sometime. But for the rest of us, it’s been a little more eventful.

That’s me up top: two front panels is what I’ve got. Notice anything? I’m determined to do ribbon-backed button bands, which I’ve never done before. Plus I want them to be knitted at an even tighter gauge than my ribbing. (I really can’t abide a flimsy button band, and am at risk of taking it too far the other direction!) So I’d been debating about whether to do the bands as written or knit them separately. After spending a couple of evenings studying Brooklyn Tweed’s tubular cast-on and figuring out how to figure out how to calculate my own cast-on for flat, 1×1 ribbing in that method, I then stupidly cast on the wrong number — and didn’t realize it until I’d knitted the whole ribbing. The good news is I had started with a front piece precisely because it’s the smallest piece and I wanted to make sure my tighter-gauge version of a bigger size was going to come out right. Still, I hated to rip it out and start again. But then I realized I actually had the perfect number of stitches if I were doing the bands separately. So I took it as fate making my mind up for me, and forged ahead. Knitting the bands separately will give me lots of leeway to screw them up, pull them out and do them again if I need to, or change them at any time — which feels good to me.

. . .

Amanda panel progress report: Let's see those sweaters!

Meg Strong, Owner of KnitKnotes (Instagram: @knitknotes)

Meg has arrived at the underarms on her seamless body — but there was one notable setback: a dog ate it! Meg and her brother DG (now my right hand at Fringe Supply Co.) share a house and have the most docile pets on the planet. (I mean.) We stayed with them for most of two months this summer and I was stunned to see knitting and yarn left casually all over the living room each night. My cats would not be able to resist such temptation. So while Meg was watching this dog, she trustingly got up at one point to go to the kitchen, and when she came back the dog was standing on her sweater, using her precious ebony circulars as a chew toy. The knitting was collateral damage, and thankfully she was able to restore it. The circs were totalled.

You’ll also notice Meg’s button bands are of interest. At moments when she needs a little mindless knitting, rather than pondering a quick shawl, she’s been working her bands. Smart!

. . .

Amanda panel progress report: Let's see those sweaters!

Jaime Jennings, Co-owner of Fancy Tiger Crafts (Instagram: @fancyjaime)

You remember Jaime had put a lot of thought (and math) into knitting her sweater at a looser gauge than pattern gauge. She ripped a few times to make adjustments and decided she didn’t like the sweater as much with less honeycomb. So she started over and is now knitting with the same yarn at pattern gauge, which is giving her a denser fabric than she at first thought she wanted. But seeing it writ large, she’s liking it! She’s also pretty much the fastest knitter in the West, so even with all of that — and a week off last week for Spinzilla — she’s ahead of me. She has set a deadline for herself of Nov 5, so she can capture it on her next ultra-photogenic trip, and I’m sure she’ll  make that goal.

Also, clearly her early trepidations about the cabling were unfounded.

. . .

Amanda panel progress report: Let's see those sweaters!

Kate Gagnon Osborn, Co-owner of Kelbourne Woolens (Instagram: @kelbournewoolens)

If we were knitting on a schedule, or there were prizes for speed, Kate would be winning. She redesigned her back to have three diamonds and two braids, which looks great, but then she wasn’t liking how it played out with the raglan shaping. So she converted it to set-in sleeves! She’s a maniac. And no, we won’t be trying to teach how to do that particular alteration! But I can’t wait to see how hers turns out. I think she’s about 10 minutes from done.

So that’s the panel recap. Fill us in on your progress below! And remember there’s another big prize coming this Friday, so keep those photos coming!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: WIP of the Week, week 3 (plus new buttons!)

Team Seam vs. Team Seamless

Team Seam vs. Team Seamless

It’s here at last! The official first day of Fall (sweet Fall!) and knitalong cast-on day! FIRST: I’ve posted a page where you can find everything you need to know about the Amanda knitalong (aka #fringeandfriendsknitalong). There’s a link in the right rail of the page if you’re looking at this on a standard (non-mobile) browser, but I also made the URL easy to remember: fringeassociation.com/amanda

Note that there is some new information there: specifically additional errata plus PRIZES and how to win them. So be sure to click over and check that out. For a chance to win, throughout this week leave comments on this post linking to your knitalong photos wherever they may be. I’ll announce my first WIP of the Week pick on Friday.

Special thanks to Anna Dianich for the photo of her gorgeous back piece above!

. . . . .

Now, let’s get to casting on! Several of our panelists are starting with sleeves, but I’m going to keep the blog posts for this series in pattern order, so today we’re talking about casting on for the body — and specifically revisiting who is knitting it in three pieces vs one, and what other pattern tweaks people are making. Here we go:

WHO’S KNITTING FOR TEAM SEAM, AND WHY?

Kate Gagnon Osborn: I am, forever and always, TEAM SEAM! While I have knitted/designed seamless sweaters and find them to be useful, especially in colorwork patterning (MeltwaterIsadoraAdelaide, etc), seams in a garment provide structure and create a longer-lasting item. Many of the sweaters I design incorporate seams in some way: Erin, a heavily cabled cardigan in Savannah, uses seams at the sides and armholes to support the weight of the cables; Fable’s seams provide structure to balance the drape of the Terra; and Fargo has seamed set-in sleeves for structure and fit, just to name a few.

Another benefit to knitting a sweater in pieces and then seaming is that you can use your sleeve as a secondary gauge swatch. I will always knit and then block one sleeve first before diving into the body, just to be sure my calculations and measurements were correct. And, finally, since much of my knitting is done on-the-go — while in the car as we run errands on the weekends, sitting at the playground after work/daycare, at my desk as I wait for images to upload/files to process — smaller pieces are much easier to manage. And there is something very, very satisfying about seaming pieces and pulling the working yarn up and watching the pieces come together beautifully!

Anna Dianich: I am Team Seam because I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and I know I will have great support here with the expert panel. Also, as Kate mentioned, the seams will give this heavily cabled sweater some structure.

Rebekka Seale: I am staying on Team Seam! Mostly because it rhymes. (Jk.) I just really want to knit this as written. I haven’t knitted an adult-sized cabled cardigan before, so I feel like my best bet is to follow the pattern exactly this time, so I can know what mods I want to do next time.

WHO’S KNITTING FOR TEAM SEAMLESS, AND WHY?

Meg Strong: I switched teams! I had originally stated that I would be knitting the pattern as written.

What I have learned about myself via knitting is apparently I do not like to repeat the same process twice within a given project. The first cardigan I ever started, I was so excited, I worked the back, one of the fronts, skipped ahead in the directions and worked one of the sleeves, and then, I was done. The excitement was gone. But I still had the other front and sleeve to do! Same thing occurred when I knit my first pair of gloves. Can you guess what happened when I decided to embark on a pair of socks? Pair?? Over the years, I learned that you could actually cast on and work two pieces at the same time. Genius! So I would work the right and left fronts of a cardigan at the same time. Learned the magic-loop circular method so socks could be worked at the same time.

After studying the Amanda pattern, I decided to cast on for the left front, back and right front and work them seamlessly. There is no waist shaping in the pattern so nothing to modify there. However, I will work the sleeves flat (two at a time!) and seam them. The strength and support that a seam provides is not something I am willing to give up on my sleeves!

Jaime Jennings: I have to choose?! I mean, I don’t love seaming, but I’ll do it. I definitely prefer seamless sweaters. I love the quickness of knitting a sweater seamlessly — I can just get in my groove and cruise over all the stitches at once. I also love to try on as I go. I will usually look at a pattern and try to determine why it’s seamed and if I should keep it that way or try to work it seamlessly. As you can see, I’m not afraid to change things up in a pattern :) For this sweater, I’m going to go Team Seamless. I’m using a very hardy wool that doesn’t necessarily need the extra stability.

WHO’S STILL UNDECIDED?

Amy Christoffers: Well, I’ve been flip-flopping. Seamed sweaters hold up better over time and through lots of washing and wearing. They are often faster to knit because the pieces are more manageable and more portable. Also there is a bonus: It is far less painful to rip and correct errors for pieced sweaters then seamless sweaters. And in this case there is the urge to be lazy and not think too hard about pattern conversion.

Seamless sweaters are satisfying because they mold to the wearer, and bottom-up-raglans knit seamleslys are beautiful. If I’m going to knit a seamless sweater, this is my favorite way to do it. There is something satisfying about knowing that the fronts and back are all going to match because they were worked at the same time, although with no waist shaping that’s not really an issue for this sweater. Despite what I said about laziness, pattern conversion is pretty simple and there is something satisfying about getting the whole body of a sweater done to the underarm all at once.

Karen Templer: I’m also waffling. I’m tempted to knit it seamlessly for the same reason as Meg: I’d like to be done when I get to the underarms rather than having two more trips to make through those same rows. But my sweater will be very lightweight, and while I can’t stand a drapey sweater, I also don’t like one that sticks to your shirt and doesn’t hang. So that side seam will give some ballast as well as structure and longevity. I think I’ve decided to knit it as three pieces but all at the same time, on one long needle. Is that crazy? That way it is one trip and I’m done; I know I finished all three pieces on the same row, etc. The downsides are: 1) managing three balls of yarn at once, and losing that portability factor of pieces, and 2) my gauge is very different from the pattern gauge. I’ll be casting on the large knowing it will come out a little bit smaller than the medium. So the smart thing would be to knit one front piece first and make sure my sizing is as projected by my calculations. If I dive into all three and my calculations are off, it will be a lot more wasted knitting.

FOR TEAM SEAM, ARE YOU DOING THE SELVEDGES AS WRITTEN?
(i.e. garter-stitch selvedge for the side seams)

Kate Gagnon Osborn: I’m doing them all in stockinette. Since the pattern isn’t openwork and I’m not using a very slippery or drapey yarn, I don’t need the added structure of the garter edges, and since I’ll be blocking all pieces before seaming them, I’m not too worried about the edges curling.

Amy Christoffers: Stockinette selvedges all the way — especially for the button bands. Stockinette selvedges look especially nice on the wrong side, which is reason enough, but I think they’re easier to sew as well.

Anna Dianich: I honestly didn’t even think about not doing them as written.

Meg Strong: Although I’m Team Seamless, I still have the button-band selvedges, which I am working as written.

Jaime Jennings: I will work the button-band selvedge stitches as written.

Rebekka Seale: As written, for the same reason stated above :)

FOR TEAM SEAMLESS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT THE SIDE SELVEDGE STITCHES?
(i.e. dropping the “seam-allowance” stitches or incorporating them in some way)

Amy Christoffers: You could work the honeycomb over the side seam, dropping all the edge stitches, and that would look nice on the body but might be awkward on the sleeves with the increasing. So I think that working a faux seam in stockinette stitch makes more sense.

So to convert the sleeve to the round I would drop 1 stitch from the cast on. To convert the body stitches to working seamlessly I would cast on: the front number (minus 1 side edge stitch) + the back number (leave the edge stitch at each end but work it as a stockinette ‘seam’ stitch) + the front number (minus 1 side edge stitch).

Meg Strong: I’m leaving out the side selvedge stitches — so only modification was to reduce my cast on, for all three pieces, by a total of those 4 stitches.

Jaime Jennings: I am going to leave in one selvedge stitch on each side and work it in reverse-stockinette stitch. I love a good faux-seam. I’ll do this as well for the sleeves.

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And now, dear readers, how about you? I’d love to hear your answers to the same questions. Please leave ’em below! And don’t forget to point me to whatever photos you post on the web this week!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: Jaime shows us her math
[For all the posts in this series, click here. For the knitalong overview, click here]

Jaime shows us her math

In the Meet the Panel post, Jaime mentioned she’s deliberately knitting Amanda at a different gauge than written. Today for the #fringeandfriendsknitalong, she shows us how she plans to make that work.  This is the kind of stuff I totally nerded out on when I was first learning to knit, finding it so liberating and inspiring, so thank you Jaime!

—kt

Jaime shows us her math

BY JAIME JENNINGS

I knit a lot of sweaters. I love knitting sweaters and I love wearing sweaters. I don’t always follow instructions very well though, which leads me to the predicament I’m in now where I’m re-working this pattern to work with my gauge. There are a couple of reasons that I might choose to do this. There have been times in the past where I just couldn’t get gauge (I’m a loose knitter so sometimes, no matter how small a needle I go down to, I just can’t get gauge with a yarn.) This was the case with a Quince Sparrow sweater I made this spring. The 100% linen just kept growing and I couldn’t make the fabric tight enough no matter how small I went down (this also probably has something to do with the fact that I always knit on slick, metal Addis). In the case of my Amanda sweater, I was able to get gauge with my Heirloom Romney, but the fabric of my swatch felt too dense so I chose to go up a needle size to get the fabric I want. Now I have to re-work some numbers to make sure my sweater will still fit.

If I was making a bigger size of the Amanda, I would most likely just knit a size smaller than my actual size and do the math to make sure it will work, but in this case, I’m already knitting the smallest size — the 33″ bust — so I’m going to have to work with a smaller stitch count to make my gauge work in my desired fabric. I knit two swatches, one for each of the sections where gauge is given in the pattern, so a honeycomb and a diamond. [See Kate’s swatch tutorial.] Here is my gauge:

16 sts = 3 1/2″ in honeycomb stitch
13 sts = 3″ in diamond cable

It’s math time!!

Looking at the back panel of the sweater for my size 33, there are a total of 102 stitches on the needle and the finished back should measure 16.5″. There are two panels of honeycomb that are 24 sts each on either side, plus the two diamonds, each 13 sts, as well as a 6-stitch center braid. There are also a total of 20 sts framing the diamonds. In order to keep the sweater looking as intended, I’m going to keep the diamonds themselves and center braid as is. This means I have the side panels of honeycomb to play with (must be in multiple of 4) as well as the 20 extra reverse-stockinette stitches.

My gauge: 2 diamonds at 6″ + center braid at 2.25″ = 8.25″

If I just have 16 sts on either side for my honeycomb, I will have 3.5″ per side. 3.5 + 3.5 + 8.25 = 15.25″. I’m almost there for my 16.5″ total with 20 other stitches to account for. This is where I just get creative and hope for the best. I’m going to take out one stitch on either side of the slipped stitches on the back which takes out a total of 8 sts from the 20. I went ahead and swatched this pattern in my diamond swatch and my total for this is 3.75″. So for the back I have:

2 side honeycombs at 3.5″ each (16 sts each) = 7″
2 diamonds with framing sts at 3.75″ (19 sts each) = 7.5″
Braid at 2.25″ (6 sts)
Total = 16.75″

My stitch count for this is 76 stitches + 1 selvedge stitch at each end (so 2 total) = 78 sts.

This will work! I’m happy with this extra 1/4″ as my bust is actually 34″ so I will just have a bit less negative ease, which will be fine. I’m going to use this same formula to figure out my sleeves and front panels to match the back. Since they all use the same basic charts, this part is easy.

One more thing: I didn’t address the row gauge at all. Since my yarn does not grow very much I’m going to just measure as I go and knit to the length I want to wear it. There’s going to be a lot of trying on as I knit this.

There are still unknowns: Will I still like the look of the sweater with so many fewer honeycombs? How will I do the raglan decreases? These questions I will answer as I go, so there may be frogging — we’ll see. I am confident, though, in my math. If you’re swatching properly and doing math, it won’t lie. I will have a sweater that is about 33.5″ in the bust in a fabric that I like that isn’t too dense, and this makes me happy! I am super laid back about knitting sweaters — if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just pull back and start again. It’s just knitting and it’s fun! My back-up plan if this is a fail: just knit the sweater as written in the correct gauge. I’m sure I will still wear it even if it makes me sweat a bit :)
—JJ

. . . . .

Thanks again, Jaime!

Happy knitting, measuring, calculating and whatever else you may be doing this weekend, everyone. I’ll be eagerly watching that #fringeandfriendsknitalong hashtag on Instagram and elsewhere. We’ll be back on Monday to cast on, and I’ll have some big PRIZE news for you then, too!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: Annotate your charts!

How to knit and measure a cable swatch

After a lot of lead-up and planning, it’s finally time to get this #fringeandfriendsknitalong going! And Kate is here today to do just that, with her thoughts on how to properly knit and measure a cable swatch. If you’re new here, we’re knitting the Amanda cardigan from the book Essentially Feminine Knits. More details here.
—kt

How to knit and measure a cable swatch

BY KATE GAGNON OSBORN

I’m going to assume that, as Fringe Association readers and knitalong participants, you’re all smart cookies and on board with the value of swatching. If you’re not convinced, let me know, and I’ll give you my spiel. (Watch out: It’s long. And determined.)

How to knit and measure a cable swatch

PART ONE: YARN CHOICE

When choosing a yarn for this sweater, there are a few things to keep in mind, most importantly recommended gauge, fiber content, and ply.

The gauge listed in the Amanda sweater pattern is 27.5 sts and 28 rows to 4″ in the honeycomb stitch pattern with Grignasco Loden yarn. Cable patterns “pull in” the stitches — the cable crosses create a scenario where more stitches fit into a smaller space — so the gauge given for a cable pattern may be deceptively smaller than the stockinette-stitch gauge for the same yarn. You can see in the photo above how much narrower the cable swatch is than the stockinette swatch with the same number of stitches. As a result, it is imperative that you A) look at the stitch pattern of the given gauge and B) swatch in order to determine whether your yarn and needle choice is correct. (Your new life mantra: needle size isn’t important; gauge is!) When substituting yarns, the first step is to check the stockinette gauge listed for the recommended yarn, as this will guide you in determining a good substitute. Recommended gauge can be found on the ballband, but if you don’t have a skein available (or, as in the case with Loden, the yarn is discontinued) Ravelry is a wonderful resource, as is the manufacturer’s website. The stockinette gauge for Loden is 18–22 sts over 4″. Start by looking for yarns that have the same recommended gauge when knitted in stockinette.

Then there’s the fiber. Loden is a 2-ply blend of 50% wool, 25% rayon, and 25% alpaca. The wool provides loft, the alpaca warmth and drape, and the rayon drape and strength. You could look for a blend as a substitute, keeping wool as the primary fiber, or go with a 100% wool yarn. Just keep the weight of the fibers in mind — an all-alpaca yarn may have too much weight and drape; mohair and yak in a blend will provide loft; silk adds weight, etc. I also recommend sticking with a plied yarn, as the plies will really make the cables stand out.

I’m knitting my Amanda cardigan with the Fibre Company Savannah. I know it to be a great sweater yarn, and it fulfills all of the properties of Loden, as it is a 2-ply yarn with multiple fibers, is at least 50% wool content, and a DK/light-worsted weight gauge.

How to knit and measure a cable swatch

PART TWO: SWATCHING

If you’ve never knitted with the yarn you’ve chosen, begin swatching with the recommended US8 needles. If you are familiar with your yarn and have a decent idea of how it behaves, feel free to adjust your needle size accordingly from the get-go. (Now is a good time to repeat that mantra: needle size isn’t important, gauge is!) For my swatch, I began on 7s because I’m pretty familiar with Savannah and knew the 8s would be too large. It is also important here to note the needle type you are using – bamboo, metal, etc. — because different needles may give you different gauge. Bamboo can be stickier and may create tighter stitches; metal is slicker and may create larger stitches. So always swatch with the same needle that you will be knitting your garment with.

The Amanda pattern does us a few huge favors when it comes to gauge: 1) there are two different stitch patterns/gauges given, and 2) one of the gauges is over a set number of stitches, not inches, as is typically the case:

• Gauge #1: 27.5 sts + 28 rows = 4″ (10 cm) in honeycomb pattern on larger needles
• Gauge #2: 13 sts of diamond cable = 2.5″ (6.5 cm) wide

Continue reading

Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

When Anna and I first talked about finding a fisherman cardigan to knit together this fall, I never imagined what it would evolve into. Today I’m thrilled to introduce the group of five amazing women who’ve agreed to knit the Amanda cardigan in the spotlight with us — forming our so-called Panel of Experts — and I’m already in love with this project based on what follows. (Be warned: this post is mammoth so I’ve broken it onto a couple of pages.) To introduce you to the seven of us/them, while also giving you some food for thought with regard to your own Amanda, I’ve asked a few simple questions about the decisions we’ve each made so far. I’ll go first, since that’s my swatch adorning the top of the post, but make sure you click through!

As promised in the big planning post, Kate’s detailed post on how best to swatch for this will be up on Monday! So if you’re at all uncertain about where to start, sit tight, savor this post over the weekend, and we’ll have that for Monday morning.

—kt

. . . . .

KAREN TEMPLER, of this here blog and Fringe Supply Co. (Instagram: @karentempler)

Yarn: I’m using natural-colored O-Wool Balance, which is a machine-washable blend of 50% organic wool and 50% organic cotton. I love the fabric this yarn creates — very light and soft and multi-seasonal — but I also intend to wear the hell out of this sweater, so I want it to be easy to wash.

Swatch: I knitted the back chart from the right side over to the center braid because I wanted to see the whole thing — especially since there are no photos of the back of the sweater. And I also did a little ribbing at the top and bottom, wanting to see if it rolls nicely into the stitch pattern. I got gauge on US8s and thought I would probably like the fabric better if I went down to 7s. It turns out I’m really pleased with the diamond panel after washing and drying the swatch. But after the wash, my honeycomb cables are sort of spreading out — they look like I’m doing some trendy drop-stitch thing. I don’t hate the look of it, it’s just not intended. And I haven’t done honeycomb before so I’m not sure if it would be solved by going down a needle size? So I’ll swatch it again on 7s and see what I think.* I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on that. Also, my swatch is only 3 inches of pattern height so I have a general sense of my row gauge (and that it will shrink up about 8-10% in the wash) but will measure it again once I’m 4 inches into the body.

Cast-on: I’m planning to do a tubular cast-on. I like that more substantial edge.

Size/ease: With my big shoulders, it would be easy for this sweater to make me look like a linebacker, so I’m planning to keep it fairly fitted. But I do button my cardigans sometimes and will be layering this, so want a little bit of ease. If I go ahead and knit it at pattern gauge, I’ll probably go with the size 35, which is about a half-inch of ease. If my gauge gets smaller/tighter (going down a needle size), I’ll cast on the 38 knowing it will come out somewhere between the 35 and 38.

Concerns/trepidations: I’m a little concerned about the neck shaping. Based on the pattern and many of the project photos, I think it’s perhaps too sloped (not rounded enough) to lay nicely. So we’ll talk about neck shaping as we get into this whole thing.

Body construction: Haven’t decided yet, but I’ll probably knit this in pieces, as written. I’m toying with knitting the body in one piece but I don’t think I want to knit rows that long in this stitch pattern. Each row would take me an eternity, whereas shorter rows will make me feel like I’m making progress. Plus I like a side seam.

Button bands: I’ve never done them the way this pattern is written so I’m eager to see how that goes. I might put a ribbon backing on it, though.

Other mods: I have long arms, so I’ll need to tamper with the sleeve lengths. And again, I know my sweater is going to get shorter when I wash it (this is why we block our swatches!) so I need to put some extra length in the sleeves and body to account for that. I also think I’m going to do a right-cross center cable in the diamonds on one side, and a left-cross on the other side, so they’re mirrored instead of all twisting the same direction.

*Although this time I’ll do it as Kate recommends in her post about swatching, which will post on Monday!

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Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

ANNA DIANICH, Owner of Tolt Yarn and Wool (Instagram: @toltyarnandwool)

Yarn: Imperial Yarn Columbia 2-Ply in the color Natural

Swatch: For my swatch I followed the sleeve chart and started with a US8 needle and then went down to a 7. I got gauge on a 7. The fabric is a little dense but the cables look great. I think this garment will be rain- and wind-proof.

Cast-on: Long-tail, because that’s how I roll.

Size/ease: Choosing a size is always difficult for me. I decided on the 35″ — I hope it’s not too snug.

Concerns/trepidations: I’m knitting this in pieces as written. I usually avoid seamed knits so I’m a little nervous about this. Since it’s seamed, I won’t be able to try it on which also makes me a little uneasy.

Body construction: I’m knitting it in pieces, yikes!

Button bands: I haven’t decided on this yet. I think I might just do the button bands as I’m knitting the front pieces of the sweater. Is this a bad idea? Anyone??

Other mods: I love Karen’s idea of mirroring the diamond shape cables so I’m going to make that mod.

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Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

KATE GAGNON OSBORN, Co-owner of Kelbourne Woolens (Instagram: @kelbournewoolens)

Yarn: The Fibre Company Savannah in Natural

Swatch: I got gauge (astonishingly both stitch and row!) on US7. I knit 3 separate swatches. (More on this in my post here on Monday.)

Cast-on: The good ol’ long-tail.

Size-ease: I’m knitting the 2nd size, the 35″ bust. That is 0″ ease, which I think will be good for the cardigan. (I typically wear cardigans open.)

Concerns/trepidations: About many, many things. (Why does my kid love pistachios, but cry when I try to feed her fruit? Will our dog ever get to a point where he doesn’t need twice-daily insulin shots? Should we look into that safety recall, or after 120K miles are we confident the brakes on our car are probably fine? …) Happily, none of them are Amanda-cardigan related, though!

Body construction: Pieces! Forever and always!!

Button bands: Definitely not as written. I can’t decide whether I am going to knit them as I go, or pick them up. I think I might pick them up because I don’t like the look of loose ribbing and it will be too loose on the 7s if I knit them with the body.

Other mods: I already cast on fewer stitches for the sleeve cuff, but will increase before the cabling to match the pattern. I also plan on doing the yoke in pieces and seaming it all. It isn’t really a mod, but I’m cabling without a cable needle throughout.

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The official plan for the Amanda Knitalong

The official plan for the Amanda Knitalong

Ok! I’m excited about how excited you all are about this Amanda knitalong, and grateful to my partner-in-cardigans Anna for getting the momentum going on Instagram while I’m rowing up the ducks. There’s a lot of information I need to cram into this post, so forgive me if it’s a bit massive.

PATTERN SELECTION

The panel of experts I’m putting together will be focused on knitting Amanda, the sweater Anna and I originally planned to knit. I had said and thought that I would suggest some alternate patterns to choose from. I was looking for things that were A) reasonably-traditional fisherman sweaters, B) the same construction method as Amanda, which is knitted in pieces from the bottom up, joined at the underarms and the yoke knitted in one piece, and C) available for download, since Amanda is only available in a book. Unfortunately, everything I’m finding and love that meets criteria A and B does not meet C.

You may knit any cardigan you like. With our panel of experts, I’m going to be really exploring the construction more than anything — ways to make a variety of mods (most notably knitting it seamlessly) as well as merits and techniques of seaming, button band thinking, and so on. So if you were to pick any raglan cardigan that’s knitted from the bottom up to the underarms and then joined into one piece for the yoke, you will benefit from all of the construction and modification guidance we’ll be presenting. If it’s a cable cardigan, even better! We’ll be talking about cabling techniques as well gauge and seaming with regard to cables. And I want to note that it’s just been revealed that the Brooklyn Tweed Fall ’14 collection is inspired by fisherman sweaters (!!) and thus may very well include some good candidates for this knitalong. That collection will be published on the 9th, so if you’re one of the people looking for an alternative to Amanda, you might want to hang tight for a minute until that publishes.

SCHEDULE

We are not knitting on a schedule. I repeat: WE ARE NOT KNITTING ON A SCHEDULE. I’m going to be publishing content relating to this every week for about eight or nine weeks. The panelists contributing to those posts will be attempting to knit at a pace that will allow for relevant photographs along the way. But we all know I’m not going to finish a cable cardigan in eight weeks, and I’m not even going to try. It will take each of us as long as it takes — for some that might be two months or four months or a year. And that’s FINE! The content relating to each step of the process will be here when you need it.

That said, I’m going to kick this off with a Meet the Panel post on Friday the 12th, followed by a post about starting your swatch on Monday the 15th. Kate Gagnon Osborn will be taking the lead on that one, talking about issues relating to gauge, and specifically measuring gauge with cables. So that will be swatch week! If you can’t wait, feel free to start swatching.

The following week we’ll look at body construction — we’ll talk to our panelists about who believes in seams, and why, plus who will be avoiding them, and how. Then after that, the content will keep coming and, like I said, you just knit at whatever pace works for you.

ERRATA

Note that that there is a known error in the Amanda pattern. The sizes are mislabeled on the sleeve chart on page 123 — make sure you download the PDF with the corrections. But there’s another error not noted in that PDF. The cable cross at the center of the diamond is charted as a right cross but described in the stitch guide as a left cross. The sample worn by the model in the photo was knitted with a left cross, as you can see. You can do it whichever way you like, or even mirror the two sides if you want. I just wanted to note that the description doesn’t match the chart for that one particular cable cross.

YARN SUGGESTIONS

There are dozens of lovely yarns that would work for this sweater — from BT Shelter and Quince and Co Lark to the budget-friendly Cascade 220 — and our panel will be knitting with a variety of different choices (which I’ll include in the Meet the Panel post once they’ve all swatched and decided). You want a worsted-weight yarn, hopefully in natural fiber(s), with a nice twist and stitch definition. If I had all the time in the world to swatch with a variety of yarns, these are the ones I’d try:

O-Wool Balance — this is the yarn I’m using for my Channel cardigan and will almost certainly be using for Amanda. I love that the wool-cotton blend will make it a three-season sweater, plus it’s washable without being one of those squeaky superwash wools. O-Wool is offering 10% OFF Balance through 9/30 with code FRINGEASSOC.

Sincere Sheep Bannock — I love this yarn, and you can see how beautifully it holds a stitch in the sample for Jane Richmond’s Spate mitts. Her Shepherdess, which I love, would also be fantastic. Brooke is offering FREE SHIPPING for the knitalong. Use the code FringeKAL at checkout.

Camellia Fiber Company Merino Aran — I just bought a skein of this from Rebekka the other day and it’s gorgeous. The slightly heavier weight, knitted at pattern gauge, would make a wonderfully dense fabric, which a fisherman sweater should be. In keeping with classic fisherman-ness, Rebekka is offering 20% OFF the undyed. Use code FRINGE at checkout.

Purl Soho Worsted Twist — as I’ve said before, this is my favorite yarn I’ve yet knitted with. The idea of a sweater as luscious as my beloved Gentian hat makes me drool. Just look at those cables!

Fibre Company Knightsbridge — the newest yarn I’m dying to knit with, and again, proven to be a beautiful cabler.

BUT HERE’S MY BIG IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I have not knitted or even swatched this sweater with any of these yarns — I cannot say with certainty that any of them will be the perfect yarn for you or the sweater. Buy a skein and knit a swatch and see if you love the fabric! That’s what swatches are for.

PRIZES

Some have asked if there will be prizes, others have offered to donate some. So yes, there will be prizes. How they will be won I do not yet know, but I’ll tell you when I figure it out!

HASHTAG

Since it’s really the Amanda knitalong but not everyone will necessarily be knitting Amanda, let’s use the hashtag #fringeandfriendsknitalong. Anna and I want to see your sweaters everywhere, but especially on Instagram. So hashtag it up!

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TOTALLY UNRELATED: If you were off having a holiday weekend on Friday and missed it, the second bag in the Jen Hewett series is now available in the webshop — there are still some left, and preorders for #3 are open. And the amazing Bookhou box is back in stock.